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GM: "The trees are whispering."
Player: "What are they saying?"
GM: "Who's listening?" (pause) "All of you make Will saves."
Oh that's a good one. Especially since I remember reading about a forest there where the trees ain't all trees. Thanks! As for statuses, I already gave the PCs random magic items to protect them from Aucturn's poisonous atmosphere, but that place does screw with people in multiple other ways. They're already going insane (part of my campaign involved all PCs to be affected by mind quakes early on), but iirc, Aucturn also physically mutates people. Would be fun to have a character spontaneously turn into a gibbering mouther for a few hours, with no indication I'd turn them back.
Have them meet Carsai the King (possible avatary of Nyarlathotep) who wants something from them in return for help, or has to be convinced to let them proceed. For whatever reason he's not (necessarily) on the side of these particular bad guys.
The funny thing is, Carsai would absolutely be opposed to my villains. The Dominion of the Black (the Night Herald's fascination/fetish) is basically at war with Nyarlathotep. My PCs would 100% try to recruit Carsai, heh.
Hmm, actually that would be a great "deal with the devil" scenario. Have Carsai offer some boon, but at a terrible price.