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Paradise Lost

"And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed."
- Genesis 2:8

Being a Christian, I have always thought about finding ways of putting the Faith in my games/stories (Tolkien is one of my heroes).  Lately, I've been studying Genesis, and how many of the pieces fit together, and how the book explains the beginning of our existence.  And from that, I've been inspired to bring some of that into my DnD game.  The following quote explains my thinking about why I want to, and why I get excited at the thought.
  
"We have come from God, and inevitably the myths woven by us, though they contain error, will also reflect a splintered fragment of the true light, the eternal truth that is with God. Indeed only by myth-making, only by becoming 'sub-creator' and inventing stories, can Man aspire to the state of perfection that he knew before the Fall. Our myths may be misguided, but they steer however shakily towards the true harbour, while materialistic 'progress' leads only to a yawning abyss and the Iron Crown of the power of evil."- J.R.R. Tolkien

In a nutshell, once the Fall occurred, Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden of Eden.  The entrance to the Garden was guarded by an angel with a flaming sword, so that humanity could never return.  As I read this, I thought "this is pretty cool stuff."  Another lady in my Bible study pointed out that without the caretakers, the Garden would probably become overgrown quickly, with thorns (coming into existence through sin) overwhelming many aspects of it.

At this point, I sat in my Bible study thinking "I want to use this in my DnD campaign."  And why not?  Most of the dungeons and adventures I've done so far have all been underground, using tiles and things from The Dungeon Master Set.  I bought the Wilderness, but it's been sitting for a while.  This gives me a good chance to explore tiles and create new maps (hand drawn stuff).

When I think the words 'garden', 'lush', 'plentiful', etc. for DnD, I tend to think of the Feywild.  And so, this is where I am ultimately choosing to set my Garden.  My only issue on this is that the Feywild already has a "Garden" dungeon, called the Garden of Graves as part of the Tomb of Horrors, but honestly, there are always different gardens in the world, and this one will have a very different feel/reason, so I think it all works out.

If my Garden is in the Feywild, I think it needs connection to the fey.  Elves, eladrin, drow, and all the like.  Since Eden was the birthplace of mankind, I think it would be cool if there was a place where the first elves dwelt.  It was created by Corellon and Sehanine, and given to them.  (Note, I'm not sure the whole cosmology of DnD, as I adapt and create the stories to fit what I'm trying to tell, so, if this doesn't work for you and your campaign, feel free to change it.)  While the early fey dwelt within this garden, they had everything they needed, until Lolth causes them to turn away, creating the first drow, and starting the war among the elves.  Corellon sealed the garden, so that the paradise could never be entered again.

Searching for the hidden entrace
 Now, this is where things get interesting.  God sealed the Garden of Eden from humans because if we were to return and eat from the Tree of Life, we would forever be in sin and could not be redeemed.  This guardianship of Eden was a way to protect us from ourselves, so that we could eventually be saved thought Christ.  In terms of DnD and the Feywild, I don't have a good reason for sealing the Garden, other than perhaps it contains some essence that could be detrimental to either the Feywild or specific Fey in general.  Maybe, after the fey were banished from the place, Corellon hid something there that could prove his undoing.  Maybe some sort of ancient artifact?  I'll need to spend some more time thinking about this.  Monster Manual 3 does talk about artifacts that prove to be Lolth's undoing, things that Corellon has chose not to use (for whatever reason).  Perhaps the item could be hid here instead....

A tunnel. leading below ground, through secret paths to Corellon's Garden (or maybe not.  It's just an idea)
 Regardless, the Garden is a place the PC's are not supposed to go.  It is a place of divine protection, a place ruined by the actions of Lolth.  And so, to enter, the PC's will have to deal with the angelic protector Corellon has put in place.

The angelic protector, standing among the wild garden.

This would be a solo monster, something that the PC's need to expend resources against.  They need to feel challenged, as the angel does not want to let them pass.  The battle could turn into an interesting skill challenge, as the PC's attempt to negotiate, or to simple show the angel that they are not seeking the artifact, but maybe are trying to protect it in some way.  If the artifact is something that could harm Corellon, maybe Lolth has already infiltrated the Garden and the PC's need to prevent her from reaching/taking the item.  Or, perhaps the PC's are seeking the very item to destroy Lolth, something that Corellon has never been able to do.

While the Garden was once a paradise, I want to make it overgrown, with lots of difficult terrain and overgrown.  Signs of a once verdant and beautiful paradise should show signs of chaos and overgrowth.  Any plant could be hazardous, as the very terrain is against the PC's.  Lolth's betrayl and corruption is evident here.  Other angels and divine beings from Corellon should guard the garden, as well as powerful fey exarchs the Elven God placed within the realm.

Exploring the flooded, drowned paradise.
 Water should be collected in pools as well.  There needed to be a way to water the Garden and create growth, so there should be lots of areas of water, with stagnant pools and places where the garden has turned into more of a giant swamp/marsh.  This gives great excuse for a black dragon to be dwelling within it, either as a minion of Lolth (adding some template powers), or as something powerful enough to rival the angel that guards the entrance.   

Scary stuff.  Art by Jim Nelson.

 If Lolth is involved, I think spiders are a necessity.  It just creates the correct feeling of everything.

Lastly, while DMing is about being creative and doing what you want, part of me suggests that this type of dungeon/adventure is probably best for Epic Tier characters.  At that point in the story, the characters should really be able to go toe to toe against protectors of the paradise Corellon had allowed the elves to originally dwell in.

If you're interested in the tiles, they are from the Wilderness Master Dungeon Tile Set, and the Witchlight Fens set.  I debated about using Sinister Woods, but as there were a lot of ruins on those, I opted not to.  My idea for a Garden is something that is natural, without construction.  Although why there are ruins and things like that could be an interesting explanation as well.....

I've really enjoyed studying Genesis and learning more about the beginning and things God did.  Hopefully this Garden of Eden inspired adventure will give you some ideas as well.  

I'm messing around with trying to put polls in the blog and add more interesting features, so for right now, be sure to leave comments!   

Comments

  1. Great idea. Regarding what they find in the garden, the creature could be trying to seal something in. For instance, there were two trees in the garden. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. You could make the artifact an evil tome but to the adventurers they think it's a good thing. Have you seen the movie Army of Darkness? The part where he gets the necronomicon and then goes to escape but by not saying the right magic words, he ends up waking a hoard of undead and having to fight his way out. So you can make the guardian a challenges that turns out somewhat easy and have a few easier challenges to get the players thinking that it's a walk in the park until they go to leave and the evil tome begins to summon all kinds of crazy stuff until they put it back or return it to the person they are getting it for. Just an idea. This is a great blog though, keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the idea Keith. Your suggestion gives a great twist on the whole concept, and I believe that the players need to be kept guessing at what will happen next. Everything can't always be a straight shot.

    Be sure to check out the rest of the blog as well. Thanks for the kind words.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Good thoughts Karl. Just throwing ideas at you:

    The Garden of Eden and making religion a part of the game, this really opens up a lot of possibilities. There are other locations where you can draw inspiration from and create scenarios for.
    'Dante's Inferno' describes Hell as having nice circles, so there could be something like that (each circle representing something different and having a different theme or monsters).
    Also, researching other religions, past or present might provide interesting ideas.
    Greek mythology comes to mind, and places like Mount Olympus or the underworld, Tartarus. Tartarus had a three headed dog guarding it named Cerebrus.

    ReplyDelete
  4. DnD has the Nine Hells actually. I believe the inspiration was taken from Dante. I guess they beat you to that.

    We also have a land of the dead, called the Shadowfell. I'll be sure to write about all of these more and more.

    Thanks Michal!

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