Phantom Ring CR 9
Sometimes rings of mushrooms known as “fairy rings” mark thin spots that function as gateways into the Fey World. When fairy rings become corrupted due to pollution, the effects of curses, the machinations of evil fey, or other fell influences, they can become unstable and dangerous, becoming phantom rings. These circles of magical mushrooms function like a magical trap (Perception DC 25, Disable Device DC 30), though a character can use the Survival skill in place of Perception to notice the danger presented by a phantom ring.
A phantom ring typically occupies a single 5-foot square. A character entering a phantom ring must succeed at a DC 19 Will save or be drawn into a gap in reality between the Material Plane and the Fey World, caught in a fragmented shard of the Ethereal Plane where she is unable to fully pass into the Fey World or return to the Material Plane. The character is invisible and ethereal, and she can see a dim and warped image of the Material Plane she just left, but she is unable to move more than 30 feet away from the phantom ring, which remains the only thing that appears solid and real in this ethereal pocket dimension. The character is trapped within this realm as if she had been called with a planar binding spell.
After 1d4 rounds, a disembodied spirit emerges from the phantom ring into the pocket dimension to confront the trapped character. This spirit appears as a spectral fey version of the trapped character, and it is treated as an animus shade, save that it is chaotic neutral in alignment and can exist only inside the pocket dimension created by the phantom ring. The animus shade might be friendly and talkative, or it might be cold, aloof, and demanding. The trapped character can attempt to bargain with the shade for her release, either into the Fey World or back into the Material Plane, but she must succeed at an opposed Charisma check to successfully persuade her captor. If the trapped character succeeds at this check, she can return to the Material Plane or enter the Fey World, but if she fails the check, the shade immediately attacks her. If the shade manages to kill the trapped character, it can manifest in the Material Plane, whereupon it is free to spread mayhem and its phantom ring dissolves away into sludge.
A trapped character can bolster her chances of success when bargaining with the animus shade by offering a bribe of magic items or performing a service. Each animus shade’s desires for bribes or service should vary, generally representing strange distortions of the trapped character’s personality. For example, a trapped bard might be required to perform a humiliating display of self-mockery, or a barbarian might be required to undertake a diplomatic mission without resorting to combat. Services rendered to an animus shade take place in a mindscape and typically require three out of five successful skill checks to complete. Bribes must be in the form of a valued magical item worth at least 500 gp per character level of the trapped character. If the service or bribe is successful, the trapped character can roll her opposed Charisma check twice (applying a +4 bonus on each roll) and use the better of the two rolls as her actual result when resolving the opposed Charisma check against the animus shade.
A trapped creature can always opt to simply fight the animus shade, as both are on the Ethereal Plane, though neither can move more than 30 feet from the phantom ring. If the animus shade is slain, the trapped character reappears in the Material Plane and the phantom ring becomes inert for 2d4 days before becoming active again.
Once a creature escapes from a phantom ring, the hazard relocates to a random location within 1d6 miles.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Wilderness © 2017, Paizo Inc.; Authors: Alexander Augunas, John Bennett, Robert Brookes, John Compton, Dan Dillon, Steven T. Helt, Thurston Hillman, Eric Hindley, Mikko Kallio, Jason Keeley, Isabelle Lee, Jason Nelson, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Alex Riggs, David N. Ross, David Schwartz, Mark Seifter, Jeffery Swank, and Linda Zayas-Palmer.