Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Evils of Fey

"They were big and little creatures. Some were hairy with long, thin tails, and some had noses long as pokers. Some had bulging eyes and some had 20 toes. In they came -- crashing through the door, sliding down the chimney, crawling through the windows. They shouted and cried. They banged pots and pans. They twirled their tails and tapped their toes upon the wooden floor. He watched as the trolls gobbled the food and threw the plates and drank everything in sight. They continued to shout and scream, to scratch the walls and pound the floors and slap their tails upon the table. The tiny trolls were the worst of all. They screamed at the top of their lungs and pulled each others' tails." - The Brothers Grimm

In the previous post, I wrote about broadening the use of monsters in my campaigns.  I mentioned my love for the fey and the Feywild, and how I was trying to step away from it.  In today's post, I want to embrace the fey, and write about all of the wild ideas that I've been forming for a couple of years now.

Most of these ideas came from a campaign I started with some friends called 'The Seasons of Sorrow'.  I was pretty new at DMing, so I tended to focus the early modules on dungeon crawling and "fighting X encounters to level".  Needless to say, the first couple sessions got to be pretty boring.  As the year progressed, I became more and more comfortable DMing, and learned a lot about what worked and what didn't.  If I hadn't run Seasons, I wouldn't have learned a lot of skills necessary to become a better DM.

Despite having played a couple sessions a month for Seasons, it's been a long while since the group has gotten together.  We're still in heroic tier, and I've had loads and loads of ideas for villains and monsters.  Some of these I've used, or have started planting the seeds.

Sisters of Affliction - I think hags are some of the coolest monsters in DnD.  They can change shape, they encompass everything about the evil witches in fairy tales, and they just can kick butt.  So, when I was creating villains for my campaign, I created my own coven of hags.  It's made up of three, a howling hag, a bog hag, and a night hag.  Their names are Shrei, Xia, and Darkiss respectively.  I'm upset that there is no bog hag mini, as I invested in the howling hag mini, and had to try my luck at a couple bids before I was able to land the dark hag.

So, what is so great about this group of villains?  At first, I didn't know either.  I thought that hags just made for cool villains, but they had no motivations.  After a while, I realized that they were slavers, ferrying captives between the Feywild, the Shadowfell, and my home campaign world.  Though they weren't directly involved in every trade (they have many other underlings), one character in the Seasons campaign has caught their attention.  In fact, this character has been with the campaign the entire length.  My girlfriend plays an Eldarin Star Pact Warlock named Caitrisana.  The very first session started with her (and other players who are no longer in the group) being approached on the outskirts of town by a group of three hooded figures.  These were, in fact, the Sisters.  As game sessions went on, they would occasionally appear at a distance and creep players out.  At one point, the group was exploring a ruined keep.  Murph an ex-soldier warpriest, looked out the window to see a hooded figure staring back at him (this was Shrei).  When he looked again, she was gone.  The player legitimately seemed pretty spooked by what could possibly be happening.
Darkiss, with guards.  I hope that satyr is ok!

I have very little character information about Caitrisana.  My girlfriend likes to make it up as she goes along.  The one thing I do know is that Caitrisana's sister was killed, and Caitrisana feels very guilty about it.  I had nothing else to go with, so I've been planning on revealing that her sister was killed when trying to escape from the Sisters as a slave.  The hags are quite upset by this, but they know that there is another sister, and are now following her, in hopes that whatever they had intended with Caitrisana's sister can be fulfilled through her.  Like I said, there's still bits and pieces of this story, but that's the plot hook that I'm trying to throw out and see where it goes.

At some point, the Seasons party will encounter Xia in the form of a beautiful elf, tricking those around her.  I'm excited to see how the group reacts to her, and what they will do when they find out she's a hag.

Scarecrows - I love scarecrows.  I think they are perfect fey monsters that evoke plenty of creepiness and, when used correctly, can set the players on edge.  You can put a random scarecrow in a certain location and make it harmless and inanimate, and then put another one in a location later on and have that one animate and be a surprising monster fight.  I also love them as the guardians of hags and other evil fey.  I plan on using a few when my PC's finally confront Shrei.

Shrei and her scarecrows as infernos blaze under a full moon.
Elves - So far, the only elves my players have fought have been elves under the influence of the Bramble Queen (though they don't know that it was her).  Elves make for good combat opponents, as you can use difficult terrain and still be able to move around about it, and most players tend to think of elves as being good combatants, so it creates some tension.

I'm a big fan of primal jungles in my campaigns.  Things like Indiana Jones and just overgrown areas with lots of wild beasts.  I've begun throwing in primal, savage elves in these places as well.  They give some good NPC interaction, as well as creating enemies that the PC's might need to defeat in order to proceed past a sacred place.

Here's a picture that I used to show my players the corrupted elves.  It's taken from Wookieepedia, the Star Wars wiki, on the Nightsisters page, but it works awesomely, in my opinion.


Archfey - Out of all the enemies that Epic Level PC's would have to battle, my favorite have to be the Archfey.  These guys are the epitome of classic fairy tale characters go wrong (or right).  In fact, when I first started my Seasons of Sorrow campaign, I had huge plans involving many archfey in epic tier.  As the campaign is not even close to that, I know have no idea what I will end up doing.

My biggest complaint is that we don't have very many Archfey stat'ed out.  Baba Yaga, the wicked hag was finally given a stat block in November, but I still want to know more about the others, especially the Sea Lords.

I've recently begun working on creating my own Archfey, a neutral characters who is more of a patron of sorts.  I submitted the idea to Wizards of the Coast, so we'll see if I get an acceptance.  If not, prepare to read about it here later.

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