Amidst the haunting shadows of the Lower Planes, where the veil between realities is thin and treacherous, the River of Styx weaves a tortuous path, beckoning the daring and the damned to traverse its wine-red currents. This sinister river, more akin to a living, malevolent entity than a mere geographical feature, harbors secrets deep within its undulating depths that could cripple even the mightiest of beings. Its oily, tumultuous waters throb with a malicious pulse, a sanguine serpent winding languidly through the realms of the underworld.
Swirling within the Styx’s grim depths are currents that churn relentlessly, bubbling ominously with dark, festering blisters that burst to reveal unidentifiable refuse and grotesque flotsam, remnants of ill-fated journeys and forgotten souls.
Its surface, shimmering with an unholy light, is a flashpoint of relentless activity, particularly within the infernal realms it slithers through, fostering an environment of peril and intrigue that entraps entities within its malevolent grasp. A special mention must be made for places like Carceri, the dark prison holding the might of Titans captive, a plane where escaping becomes an endeavor not just difficult, but nearly impossible.
The Styx doesn’t just pose physical hazards; it threatens to gnaw at the very core of a being. Creatures daring to touch or consume the abhorrent waters must steel their minds against its corrosive influence, battling to retain their very essence lest they be stripped of their memories, either temporarily or permanently. This daunting challenge is represented by a DC 15 Intelligence saving throw, a bulwark against the overwhelming might of the feeblemind spell lurking in the river’s depths. Yet, fiends and the native Styxian monsters revel in the chaos, their sinister natures rendering them immune to the river’s memory-stealing properties.
Whispers amidst the realms speak of certain damned areas within the River of Styx where the theft of memories is permanent, where the river’s vile essence seeps into one’s very being, leaving naught but an empty husk. These regions are feared, a dark unknown where even the bravest fear to tread. And for those unfortunate souls who find themselves fully submerged within its maw, the task becomes doubly hard, a disadvantageous position in a fight against the river’s inexorable pull towards oblivion.
Navigating this labyrinthine, bloody waterway is no small feat. Its course, though predominantly found weaving through the upper echelons of Acheron, the Nine Hells, Gehenna, Hades, Carceri, the Abyss, and Pandemonium, doesn’t adhere to any predictable pattern. It zigzags, creating a maze of confusion and despair, a path far more treacherous than its counterpart, the River Oceanus.
To traverse its violent waters and hop from one plane to another, a navigator must harbor not only a keen sense of direction but an unyielding spirit, demonstrated by a grueling DC 15 Wisdom check endured every 1d6 x 12 hours. Success grants passage into the chosen top layer of a plane, yet failure promises stagnation and looming threats, beckoning disaster as suggested by the dark implications of a random encounter table that awaits to unveil the horrors lying in wait.
Among the bleak and terrifying landscapes that the River of Styx carves, there exists a peculiar entity, a special type of yugoloth known as merrenoloths. These beings, cruel and greed personified, master the art of sailing these treacherous waters, offering passage to those willing to pay their hefty price. Immune to the trials that the river imposes on other creatures, they guide vessels with a sinister grace, navigating the Styx’s serpentine path with an eerie ease, although the time requirement for passage remains unyieldingly static.
This river, a veritable haven for the vile and corrupt, attracts foul creatures of all kinds like moths to a flame. Fiends revel in its blood-red embrace, immune to its effects and fervently seeking opportunities to sow mayhem and mischief upon any naive traveler that crosses their path.
As voyagers traverse this forsaken river, they would do well to prepare themselves for inevitable encounters with the darkness that resides within its depths, a task facilitated by a grim table that dictates the horrors that may beset them. But tread cautiously, for to rely too heavily upon it is to invite doom, a temptation that should not be indulged more than once per travel day, lest they unleash a darkness that consumes them wholly.