Saturday, September 15, 2012

Twisted Fairytales

"Shall I lead you through this haunted wood?" 
- Line I've Had in My Head for a Story for Years Now...

Out of all the Dungeons and Dragons characters and story ideas that I've read, my favorite has to the be the Feywild.  A magical, fairy-tale like reflection of our world, the Feywild is home to all sorts of magical, wondrous beings such as elves, satyrs, nymphs and pixies.  The evils of fairy tales also exist within, such as hags, cyclopes, and witches.  Things are not always as they seem within the Feywild, as many of the creatures can change shape to that of a more pleasing form.

About six months after I first got into the game, I subscribed to D&D's online magazine for the first time.  As I scrolled through articles and looked through all the new content, one of the articles caught my eye.  It was called Court of Stars: The Prince of Frost.  Written by Keith Baker, it opened my eyes to the Feywild and the potential of the villains that could dwell within.


The Prince of Frost.  Art by Wayne Reynolds
The basic story for the Prince of Frost was that he was once a joyful, kind eladrin (high elf) who's love rejected him for another.  His heart froze then, and his hatred and disdain for mortals grew, and so now he schemes, plotting against them and looking to cover the entire world in endless winter.  His servants are lovers of ice and darkness, and his humor is twisted and cruel.

This article created such a crazy amount of inspiration for me.  I sought to create a campaign based around the seasons, with the Prince of Frost as the final villain who was in charge of all the evils going on.  Needless to say, that campaign never finished (the very beginning was more of an introductory game for a couple of new players), but the character (and his other fey brethren) have stayed with me and my entire D&D inspiration.

Mini I would use for the Prince of Frost.  A Lord of the Rings High Elf (painted by me!)
 At the time I read the article, I began trying to find as much information on the Feywild (and other inspiration/ideas).  Unfortunately, there wasn't much to go by.  There were articles here and there, and just various monsters to look up in the Monster Manual to try and incorporate from there.  Fortunately, three months later, another Court of Stars article was released.

A setup I created for another dungeon that I realized could make a good throne room for the Prince of Frost.  He needs more lackeys present though. 
 Court of Stars: The Bramble Queen was written by Ari Marmell, was another great addition.  The Bramble Queen was another twisted, cruel fey who basically used plants, needles and thorns.  While I was still working on how to incorporate the Prince of Frost, the Bramble Queen was much easier.  In the early game with my players, I had a group of corrupted elves who had certain plant-like growths with their bodies.  They used a lot of poisons and thorns.

The Bramble Queen by Tyler Jacobson
I even made a disciple of the Bramble Queen who was creating most of the initial trouble.  I called her the Thornchilde, and made her a mini boss of sorts.  It was my first real foray into creating an antagonist for my players, and I was excited to play the whole thing out.

Mini for the Bramble Queen, the Warden of the Wood
The next Court of Stars article really didn't go live for over a year.  At the beginning of last December, the Mother of Witches, Baba Yaga herself went live in Court of Stars: Baba Yaga by Alana Abbott.  This character has been around in D&D for a long time, and when I had started researching the Feywild, her name always came up as a monstrous hag and curse weaver.  I really enjoyed this article because it gave new players like a myself a chance to understand the hag.  There was also a adventure published alongside her, Baba Yaga's Dancing Hut by Craig Campbell.

The mini I would use for Baba Yaga, a howling hag
Last November (before Baba Yaga was released), Wizards of the Coast published a book called Heroes of the Feywild.  It gave a lot of insight into the world of the Fey, as well as their backgrounds and mythology.  It mentions the fey power players and gives a lot of good advice and guidance for players who want to run Feywild inspired heroes.  It is probably my favorite D&D book, simply because of all the Feywild goodies and inspirations it gives.

The last Court of Stars article to be released was written by myself.  Court of Stars: The Trinket Lord  went live a few weeks back.  My goal was to create an unaligned/neutral fey that players could interact with in various ways, not just as an enemy.

The Trinket Lord by Tony Foti
The feedback I've received online for the article has been very positive (if there's negative stuff, I haven't seen it).  Needless to say, I'm very humbled/awestruck by the things I've read.  Being able to contribute to something I feel very passionately about is always an amazing experience, but to have it received so well just adds to the happiness of it.

As indicated in the summary paragraph of the Trinket Lord article (on the WotC website), the question of where lost things go plays a big question in the role of the Trinket Lord.  I created a map of ways to possibly find entrance to the Trinket Lord's demesne from Dungeon Command tiles.  My goal was to create a maze with lots of different options and ways to players to explore and be unsure of what lurks ahead.

Made from 4 Dungeon Command sets
There's a lot of narrow entrances and ways to explore.  The magic circles could be teleportation circles (something quite common with fey powers), and there's lots of underbrush and growth.  When describe what players see, they will never quite know what lurks around the next corner.  Maybe displacer beasts?  Owlbears?


On a side note, I really want a cool owlbear miniature, but I've yet to get myself one.  Hopefully in a future Dungeon Command set.

In the article, I've also mentioned the Trinket Lord's golems, made from various scraps and broken items.  I only have a clay golem miniature, which was unmentioned in the article, but I think it could work.  Maybe it's a golem created from broken pottery, glass and other artistic things, held together by mud and other melted pottery.


For a miniature of the Trinket Lord himself, I've always thought to use Gnome Tinkerer.  It's always been my favorite gnome miniature, and just seems to fit the Trinket Lord.


And that are all the Court of Stars articles to date.  I highly recommend taking a look at those articles, or revisiting them, as they provide great inspiration for villains or Feywild adventures.  They've greatly inspired me and my Dungeons and Dragons journey.

On a side note, I got this new miniature, and I really want to build a fighter or a knight just to use him.  His shield is also inspiring me to create an entire new culture/continent with a lot of faces carved into buildings and everyday objects.


As always, leave your comments below and be sure to follow me on Twitter @artificeralf

4 comments:

  1. These all seem cool. I see why you like them. (:

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  2. Those wilderness tiles look very nice!

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  3. I had no idea you wrote that Trinket Lord article - I loved it!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed it! The whole thing was a very positive experience. Looking forward to the possibility of getting some more articles published.

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