The House in the Clouds (Runewild Preview)

The results are in! One of the stretch goals for the Runewild Campaign Setting was the inclusion of up to three additional mapped locations in the Runewild Gazetteer. We hit all three goals and let our awesome backers vote on which locations they wanted brought to life. (You can see a list of the locations they chose from here.) The backers spoke and now the Crypts of Maythorn Dun, the Tomb of the Feathered Serpent, and the Witch of East-Doom will be included in the finished book!

While the Crypts of Maythorn Dun was the clear winner (it’s my favorite, too), the rest of the voting was remarkably close. This next encounter, the House in the Clouds, was so popular we knew we had to find a place for it in the Runewild!

36. The House in the Clouds (CR 9)

  • Ma Spriggins (as a cloud giant) and her ward, Squaller (an ogre)
  • Ma Spriggins’ prisoners include a pegasus, an animated harp (Runewild Bestiary), and Prince Kumo, a magic fox (Runewild Bestiary)

The trees here end abruptly, as if this part of the forest was plucked from the earth and transported somewhere else. In its place stretches a field of delicate wildflowers. A silver chain, hardly thicker than a finger, is anchored to a ring in the center of the clearing. The chain reaches into the sky, its far end hidden in the clouds.

The Traitor’s Penance

At the onset of the Witch Wars, as the Runewild’s hags coalesced into a grand coven around Griselda (86), one witch stood to oppose her. Ma Spriggins was one of the forest’s most powerful witches, but even her magic was insufficient to challenge the Hag Queen. Rather than destroy her rival outright, Griselda sentenced Ma Spriggins to a terrible punishment. For the length of seven human lifetimes, Ma Spriggins would serve as godmother to Griselda’s ill-tempered son, Squaller.

Ma Spriggins has cared for Squaller nearly a century. With six lifetimes of her punishment left to serve, Ma Spriggins travels the Runewild in her floating cottage, gathering toys and baubles to occupy Squaller’s attention. Most recently, Ma Spriggins captured a magic fox named Kumo and presented him to Squaller as a pet. Unbeknownst to Ma Spriggins, Kumo is the newly elected leader of Foxhall, an enclave of magic foxes south of where her cottage now anchors (22).

The Floating Cottage

The silver chain that tethers Ma Spriggins’ cottage to the ground rises 300 ft. into the air before disappearing inside a bank of clouds. Ma Spriggins conjured the clouds to conceal her cottage, but PCs who make a successful DC 10 Wisdom (Perception or Survival) check notice the clouds remain unnaturally still even in a strong breeze.

The chain is too long to climb, but flying creatures can reach Ma Spriggins’ cottage with no trouble. The chain responds if tugged, and characters with a combined Strength of 20 or more can use the chain to pull Ma Spriggins’ cottage out of the clouds. The cottage sits on a berg of earth roughly 100 ft. across. With a minute of concentrated pulling, the berg can be brought low enough for creatures on the ground to clamber onto it. Releasing the chain causes the cottage to float back to its previous height like a helium-filled balloon.

Ma Spriggins’ magic anchors the chain to the ground. Only creatures with a combined Strength of 27 or more can loose the chain from its mooring. The chain can be severed, but it’s as strong as steel (AC 19, 10 hp, immune to poison and psychic damage). Releasing or destroying the chain causes the cottage to drift gently on the breeze in a random direction. Ma Spriggins immediately senses if the cottage is untethered and arrives in 1d4 + 1 rounds to investigate. If the chain is destroyed, Ma Spriggins can re-enchant it with three days work.

The Pegasus

Ma Spriggins’ cottage is a wattle and daub structure with a crooked, high-peaked roof. A low wooden fence encloses the yard. Tethered to the cottage’s front gate is a miserable-looking pegasus. The beast munches idly on a patch of purple heather as the PCs approach.

The pegasus’s name is Nebulon. Ma Spriggins captured Nebulon decades ago and kept the winged horse as her personal mount when Squaller tired of him. Years spent living with Ma Spriggins and Squaller have made Nebulon as foul-tempered as his captors. PCs who approach Nebulon must make a DC 16 Charisma (Persuasion) or Wisdom (Animal Handling) check. On a failure, Nebulon rears up and attacks the PCs with his hooves. Nebulon’s furious neighing alerts Ma Spriggins inside the cottage.

On a successful check, Nebulon allows the PCs to enter the cottage unmolested. If the PCs need to escape Ma Spriggins’ floating island later in the encounter, another successful Persuasion or Animal Handling check convinces Nebulon to transport the characters safely to the ground. Nebulon’s attitude improves even further once separated from Ma Spriggins. At your discretion, a reformed Nebulon may serve a paladin or other noble-hearted PC as a mount.

Dealing with Ma Spriggins

Four rooms make up the interior of Ma Spriggins’ house. The entry hall functions as a combined dining room and sitting area. Cluttered with broken furniture and shattered glass (the results of Squaller’s tantrums), the hall is in a constant state of disarray. Off the entry hall are a kitchen to the east and Squaller’s bedroom to the west. A twisting staircase leads to a cramped attic space where Ma Spriggins works and sleeps.

Unless the PCs have flown or teleported to the cottage, Ma Spriggins greets them in the entry hall. Ma Spriggins is a wizened woman barely 4 ft. tall. She’s wrapped in colorful scarves and leans on a knotted staff taller than herself. As she speaks, eddies of dust swirl about her feet, growing more noticeable the angrier she becomes.

Ma Spriggins’ sole concern is keeping Squaller happy. Unless the PCs bring her some treasure or other fancy to amuse Squaller, Ma Spriggins demands the PCs leave at once, lest they disturb her irritable ward. She attacks if the PCs refuse or otherwise cause trouble for her. A confrontation with Ma Spriggins awakens Squaller (see below).

Quick-thinking PCs can befriend Ma Spriggins by offering to entertain Squaller. A successful Charisma (Deception or Persuasion) check opposed by Ma Spriggins’ Wisdom (Insight) convinces the hag to negotiate with the party. Ma Spriggins is always on the lookout for items she thinks might amuse her godson. She grants the PCs a favor if they fetch her one of these items:

  • The ghoul Ghazrek (8) possesses an enchanted mirror, a gift from his mistress Griselda.
  • A fey lion (Runewild Bestiary) might serve as an interesting pet. One of the cats haunts the forest to the north (51).
  • Ma Spriggins has never met Bormgastor, but she’s certain the dragonborn wizard must have something in his tower (32) to keep Squaller entertained.

Ma Spriggins resents Squaller, but Griselda’s magic compels her to protect the ogre with her life. If the PCs slay Squaller despite her efforts to keep him safe, Ma Spriggins is released from her duty. Overwhelmed with gratitude, she rewards the party with the animated harp in Squaller’s bedroom (see Squaller below). She then frees Nebulon and Prince Kumo and flies off in her cottage, leaving the Runewild behind forever.

Ma Spriggins’ small stature belies incredible strength. Treat her as a Small-size cloud giant whose type is Fey. Her staff is magically heavy and requires a Strength of 27 or more to wield. It deals 3d8 + 8 bludgeoning on a successful hit. Ma Spriggins carries no treasure but wears the key to Prince Kumo’s cage on a string around her neck.

Squaller

Squaller naps in his bedroom when the PCs arrive. An animated harp plays him a pleasant lullaby as he sleeps. At the foot of Squaller’s bed, a magic fox named Prince Kumo paces inside an iron cage.

Though he’ll no doubt tire of them eventually, the animated harp and Prince Kumo are currently Squaller’s favorite playthings. The harp’s magic isn’t potent enough to charm Squaller or put him to sleep, but the ogre enjoys its music, nonetheless. Prince Kumo uses illusions to keep Squaller entertained while he waits for an opportunity to escape.

The PCs must make DC 8 Dexterity (Stealth) checks to navigate Squaller’s bedroom without waking the ogre. Loud noises (such as combat with Ma Spriggins) rouse Squaller automatically. Upon awakening, Squaller flies into a tantrum. Squaller also throws a tantrum whenever he’s bored, hungry, or doesn’t get his way (nearly all the time, in other words). While he throws a tantrum, Squaller gains the following trait:

Tantrum: At the start of his turn, Squaller can choose to enter a tantrum. For 1 minute or until he ends the tantrum as a bonus action, Squaller gains advantage on Strength checks and Strength saving throws, a +2 bonus to damage rolls, and resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.

While throwing a tantrum, Squaller attacks the nearest creature he can see (including Ma Spriggins). If no creature is near enough to move to and attack, Squaller attacks an object instead. The PCs can end Squaller’s tantrum early by distracting him with an interesting bauble (such as a magical item) or an entertaining performance. Doing so requires a successful Charisma (Deception, Persuasion, or Performance) check opposed by Squaller’s Wisdom. Magic such as the calm emotions spell may also end Squaller’s tantrum.

Prince Kumo and the Harp

Prince Kumo’s cage is both locked and enchanted to prevent the fox from using misty step to escape. Ma Spriggins carries the key to the cage. A character using thieves’ tools can pick the lock with a successful DC 15 Dexterity check. On a failure, a howling whirlwind coalesces around the cage. The whirlwind prevents further tampering and alerts Ma Spriggins (as an alarm spell). A dispel magic spell cast on the cage removes these enchantments.

If rescued, Prince Kumo and the animated harp are grateful for the party’s assistance. Neither one knows how to land the cottage, but they use their magic to help the party defeat Ma Spriggins and Squaller. Once back on solid ground, Prince Kumo returns to Foxhall, where he informs his fellow foxes of the party’s heroism. The animated harp has no desires of its own and happily serves any PC who claims it (see the Runewild Bestiary for more information about animated harps).

Returning to Earth

Sliding down the chain that tethers the cottage to the ground requires three successful DC 16 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) checks. With each successful check, the character descends 100 ft. along the chain. On a failure, the character loses their grip and plummets to the earth, taking falling damage as appropriate. The party may also use magic or multiple trips on the pegasus Nebulon to return to the ground safely.

If Ma Spriggins is killed, the magic that keeps her cottage aloft fails. Slowly at first but with increasing velocity, the cottage tumbles from the sky. Its descent takes 30 seconds (5 rounds). At the end of this time, any creature still on the earth-berg takes 49 (9d10) bludgeoning damage, or half damage with a successful DC 16 Dexterity saving throw.

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Springtime Comes to Kidwelly (Seasons of the Runewild)

 

Springtime Comes to Kidwelly

The seasons of the Runewild turn in a rhythm as familiar as a beating heart. Everywhere except in Kidwelly, where an ancient curse locks the halfling village in winter’s grip long after the snow has melted elsewhere. In Kidwelly, spring doesn’t arrive until the Monax—a mysterious creature with ties to the Fey Realm—emerges from its burrow and ushers in the change of seasons.

But this year the Monax does not emerge. The heroes must venture into the Monax’s burrow to discover clues about the unscrupulous family that stole it, rescue the Monax, and return the creature so that springtime can once again come to Kidwelly.

The fourth installment in the Seasons of the Runewild adventure series is now available on DriveThruRPG. Springtime Comes to Kidwelly is an adventure for three to five 1st-level characters. It is designed to be played over the course of a single session (3–4 hours of gameplay). The adventure takes place near an enchanted forest known as the Runewild and can serve as an introduction to the Runewild Campaign Setting. You can also drop the adventure into an existing campaign.

The book includes:

  • A complete adventure
  • Advice for scaling to higher levels
  • A random table for the curse of spring fever
  • Two new magic items: sleepy dust and wizard’s weed

Musical Chairs (Runewild Preview)

One of the most exciting things about adding 50 more encounters to the Runewild Campaign Setting is getting the chance to tie up some loose ends the original 100 encounters left hanging. If you’re a backer of the Kickstarter campaign, you may already know about the Washer Widow, one of the many witches described in the setting. For those who don’t, the Washer Widow was a poor washerwoman who drowned her children rather than watch them starve during a harsh Runewild winter. One of the Widow’s children, however, wasn’t her own, but a newborn hag a coven of witches had placed into her care. As punishment for murdering their child, the coven transformed the Washer Widow into a sea hag.

The Washer Widow is one of my favorite witches in the Runewild, but the question has always remained: what happened to the Widow’s human child? Thanks to one of our fabulous Part of the Art-level backers, I can finally answer that question!

123. Musical Chairs (CR 6)

  • Four satyrs play musical chairs with four animated chairs (Runewild Bestiary)
  • Brackenglyph (a spellcasting satyr) directs the game
  • A fey-touched boy named Drake (as a scout) and his blink dog companion
  • Treasure in a locked chest: DC 15

Priests of St. Adso built this trailside chapel at the height of the Aruandan Conquest. Beautiful stained-glass scenes once filled the chapel’s windows, where now only crumbling stone tracery remains. The chapel’s vaulted ceiling has collapsed, leaving most of the building open to the sky. A sprightly fiddle melody plays from the ruins. As the PCs approach, they spot goat-headed figures cavorting in the chapel’s shadowy interior.

Brackenglyph

Brackenglyph, the oldest satyr in the Runewild, has served no fewer than four hags in his lifetime. Of these, he murdered the last three, and from them stole the magical power he now wields. Foul-tempered and half-insane, Brackenglyph commands a retinue of other satyrs enamored by his spellcasting abilities.

When the PCs first arrive, they find Brackenglyph and his minions engaged in a game of musical chairs. To liven up the game, Brackenglyph magically animates the chairs so that the satyrs must compete not only with each other, but with the chairs themselves. Drake, a human boy Brackenglyph holds captive (see below), provides music for the game on his violin.

The PCs can make Dexterity (Stealth) checks opposed by the satyrs’ Wisdom (Perception) to enter the chapel unseen. On a failure, Brackenglyph spots the PCs and demands they join the game (see Playing Musical Chairs below). If the PCs refuse or become hostile, Brackenglyph orders the chairs and satyrs to attack the party.

Once engaged in battle, Brackenglyph’s minions fight until the characters are subdued, pursuing anyone who tries to flee. Brackenglyph avoids direct combat, preferring to dart in and out of cover while casting spells. He retreats if the battle turns against him, taking Drake as a hostage to cover his escape, if possible. Treat Brackenglyph as a normal satyr with the following Innate Spellcasting trait, which increases his CR to 5 (1,800 XP):

Innate Spellcasting. Brackenglyph’s spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 13, +5 to hit with spell attacks). He can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:

At will: detect magic, eldritch blast (2 beams)

3/day each: haste, hold person, misty step, shield

1/day each: animate objects (no concentration needed), greater invisibility

Brackenglyph and his minions frequent the ruined chapel but have no true home. Brackenglyph parades captured PCs about the forest like war trophies. Once he tires of the characters, he either disposes with them in some entertaining way (such as by forcing them to fight magically animated objects) or brings them to a hag to be sold.

Drake

Though he appears to be a human in his mid-teens, Drake is nearly as old as his captor Brackenglyph. While Drake was still an infant, a coven of witches snatched him from his crib and replaced him with a child of their own. Drake eventually grew up and escaped his abductors, but ever since he’s wandered the forest, his youth preserved by the Runewild’s strange magic. Unbeknownst to Drake, his human mother transformed into a hag soon after he was kidnapped. Drake’s mother, the Washer Widow, is found in location 50.

Tall for his age, Drake is a handsome, quick-witted youth. His carefree smile and musical talent win the hearts of mortals and fey alike. His magically extended lifespan has made Drake immune to fear or worry. His bright eyes change color with his emotions, another side effect of his prolonged exposure to the Runewild.

Brackenglyph captured Drake several weeks ago and quickly grew fond of the boy. The satyr keeps Drake’s feet shackled (reducing his walking speed to 10 feet) but otherwise treats him as a favored pet. Drake’s shackles have no key (Brackenglyph casts animate objects to open them), but a character using thieves’ tools can pick the lock by making a successful DC 15 Dexterity check. Breaking the manacles requires a successful DC 20 Strength check.

If the PCs speak with Drake, he’s surprisingly unconcerned about his captivity. Drake’s been held prisoner before—by creatures much worse than Brackenglyph—and he assumes he’ll find a way to escape eventually. All the same, he’d rather be free than not. If the PCs rescue him, Drake tags along with the party until another adventure finds him. A well-traveled Runewild wanderer, Drake can share the following information:

  • Brackenglyph has never said so aloud, but Drake believes the satyr plans to sell him to the Whitebone Sisters, a pair of bone hags who live east of the chapel (11).
  • When Drake first escaped the witches who kidnapped him, he found refuge with the Ruasidhe. If they’d like, Drake can lead the PCs to the elves’ territory (17).
  • If the PCs ask Drake about his previous captors, he describes his time as a prisoner at Sweet-Tooth Keep (132).

Treat Drake as a scout with a Charisma of 20 (+5) and a Performance skill of +9. Drake speaks Sylvan, which he uses to communicate with his loyal blink dog companion, Asa.

Playing Musical Chairs

If the party agrees to Brackenglyph’s game of musical chairs, play out the scene as you would a normal combat. As the game begins, roll initiative separately for each of the satyrs, the animated chairs, and any PCs involved in the game.

Each round on their turn, the PCs can attempt to sit in one of the animated chairs by making a successful grapple check against the chair. Alternately, they can shove another creature out of a chair by succeeding on a Strength (Athlectics) check contested by the target’s Strength (Athletics). Brackenglyph pointedly overlooks attempts to “cheat” at the game (such as using magic or violence), so allow the players to come up with alternative strategies to win the game, as well.

On their turns, the satyrs use their actions to claim empty chairs or shove their way onto occupied chairs (including chairs occupied by other satyrs). The animated chairs either Kick the creature nearest to them or attempt to unseat a creature grappling them. At the end of each round, any creature not sitting in a chair must withdraw from the game. Brackenglyph then removes one of the animated chairs, and another round begins. Reroll initiative at the start of each round until the final chair is removed or no players remain.

Unfortunately for the PCs, the outcome of the game has little effect on Brackenglyph’s attitude toward the party. Once he’s grown bored, Brackenglyph orders his minions to attack the PCs, in the hopes of capturing one or more of the characters. Whether they win or lose, however, the PCs may use the raucous game as a distraction to rescue Drake or steal Brackenglyph’s treasure (see below).

Treasure

PCs who search behind the chapel’s altar find a locked treasure chest which Brackenglyph uses to transport his wealth. Like Drake’s shackles, the chest has no key, but a character using thieves’ tools can pick the lock with a successful DC 15 Dexterity check. The chest contains 900 cp, 8,000 sp, 1,900 gp, 100 pp, 13 gems worth 100 gp each, and a potion of flying.

In addition to this treasure, Brackenglyph’s horns are threaded with seven silver rings, each worth 25 gp. Drake carries nothing of value other than his violin. An exquisite instrument of Aosidhe make, the violin is worth 250 gp.

Longer Encounters (Runewild Preview)

I’m still hard at work cranking out stretch goal encounters for the Runewild Campaign Setting. Thanks to our 400+ backers, we’ll be adding 50 more encounters to the Runewild. Fun locations are the bread-and-butter of any sandbox campaign, so I’m delighted to add 50% more of them to the setting!

What’s more, three of the 50 extra encounters will be longer, fully mapped locations suitable for an entire session (or more) of game play. I have seven of these larger encounters sketched out, but we’re letting backers decide which ones get developed.

If you’re a backer, you can vote on which encounters you’d like to see here. If you’re not a backer, let me know what you think in the comments. And if these encounters seem like your jam but you missed the Kickstarter campaign, you can pre-order the Runewild now!

Tomb of the Feathered Serpent

The thrushkin built this tomb centuries ago to safeguard the bones of a previous incarnation of their god, the Feathered Serpent. Abandoned when a dragon drove the thrushkin from Feather Lake, the shrine may hold the very magic the bird-folk need to reclaim their home. An avian-themed deathtrap dungeon.

The Crypts of Maythorn Dun

A wicked fey lord is imprisoned in the crypts beneath an ancient Runish keep, along with the ghosts of his three mortal brides. Will the PCs align themselves with one of the brides, their vengeful father, or the fey lord himself?

Sweet-Tooth Keep

During the Witch Wars, a hag named Doddy Sweet-Tooth built a castle to rival the greatest Aruandan stronghold. Sweet-Tooth Keep stood until the young Queen Esmerelda and her companions burnt it to the ground. Honey golems, swarms of ginger-bread men, and a hungry troll now prowl the melted ruins.

Dame Briar’s Bower

A fey lord named Dame Briar once served as an assassin for mortals seeking vengeance. Now, she kills for anyone who offers her a drop of blood. Can the PCs survive the maze of thorns that stands between them and Dame Briar’s inner sanctum?

The Goodwife Tree

A witch may live a thousand years, but the Goodwife Tree has outlasted them all. The witch who controls the tree can grant her lovers eternal life (of a sort), but only if they first brave the dangers found within the tree itself.

The Witch of East-Doom

One of the Runewild’s greatest secrets isn’t within the forest, but beneath it. The gnomes of Deepdoom Hall have toiled unseen for centuries, and now their tunnels stretch the entirety of the Runewild. The just Queen Firba rules the western half of Deepdoom Hall, while her wicked twin sister Abrif controls the Hall to the east. Can the PCs infiltrate Queen Abrif’s stronghold and put an end to her evil magic?

The House in the Clouds

A silver chain reaches into the sky, its far end hidden inside a cloud that hangs above the tree tops. To placate her foul-tempered son, a hag named Mother Spriggins fills his floating cottage with treasures stolen from across the Runewild. Mother Spriggins’ recent spoils include an animated harp, a flying horse, and Prince Kumo, the future king of the werefox enclave of Foxhall!

See the Satyr (Runewild Preview)

I’ve described the Runewild as a dark fairy tale setting, but the “dark” part of that description sometimes makes me hesitate. With talking animals, goofy witches, and ogres that literally shed their heads, there’s much about the Runewild that’s light-hearted.

And then the PCs run into something like this…

115. See the Satyr (CR 4)

  • Kergan Dartell, a curiosities dealer (as a commoner)
  • A ghost haunts Kergan’s stuffed satyr

The first time the PCs pass through this hex, they encounter a curiosities dealer named Kergan Dartell on the trail between Wexmore Abbey and Ill Hollow. A gregarious Aruandan man in his 50s, Kergan makes the trip from Caerfell to Ill Hollow and back several times each year to gather Runish artifacts and other trinkets. He transports his treasures in a garishly painted wagon drawn by his loyal draft horse Juniper.

Kergan’s wagon makes a terrible racket as it bounces along the trail. Parties that prefer to let Kergan pass have ample time to withdraw into the forest before he comes into view. Otherwise, Kergan cheerfully hails the PCs once he spots them.

Treat Kergan as a commoner with Intelligence and Charisma scores of 14 (+2) and a +4 bonus to Charisma (Persuasion) checks.

Wagon of Wonders

With the bravado of a ringmaster, Kergan promises to sell the PCs anything their hearts desire. He invites the party inside his wagon to peruse his wares. Within Kergan’s wagon is a cramped sleeping area at the front and a curtained alcove towards the rear. The rest of the space is given over to an array of shelves and cabinets, all crammed with odd baubles and trinkets.

Assume Kergan has at least one of any mundane item the PCs wish to purchase. Kergan’s wares aren’t high quality, but a story accompanies each item. What appears to be an ordinary dagger, for example, might once have been used to murder a Runish prince, while a length of fraying rope might be woven from witch’s hair. Kergan believes his own stories, but how much truth there is to them is left for the GM to decide.

A handful of Kergan’s goods are magical. Each time the PCs encounter Kergan, he also has for sale 1d4 + 1 minor magical items either chosen by the GM or rolled randomly on the Goblin Trinkets table (see Magic of the Runewild).

PCs who search Kergan’s wagon can make a DC 12 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check. On a success, they discover a compartment hidden beneath the front seat of the wagon. The compartment contains a hand crossbow with 10 bolts, a vial of antitoxin, and a pouch with 200 cp, 130 sp, 70 gp, and 3 gems worth 50 gp each.

Dealing with Kergan

Kergan sells his goods at five times their normal listed value, although a successful Charisma (Deception or Persuasion) check opposed by Kergan’s Wisdom convinces him to part with any item for only half as much. Similarly, Kergan may purchase items from the party at half their normal value, but an interesting story and a successful Charisma check convinces him to double what he’d normally pay. Kergan is always open to trades, as well.

Kergan doesn’t need an excuse to swap stories with the party. Kergan’s only reliable information relates to the settlements along his route, but if the PCs sort through his tall tales, he shares the following:

  • Kergan recently sold his entire supply of fey wards to followers of the Church of the Black Horn in Ill Hollow. If Kergan is heading to Ill Hollow, he’s instead stocked up on such items and expects to make a killing once he reaches the village.
  • Kergan isn’t aware the Thistlewhip children of Kidwelly have gone missing, but he says that if they wandered into Wobbly-Odd Wood, he’s not surprised. Kergan gets the feeling he’s “being watched” whenever he travels through the Wood.
  • When the PCs inquire about the history of some trinket, Kergan claims he got the item at the Goblin Market, a fey marketplace where magical items are bought and sold (see Magic of the Runewild).

The Stuffed Satyr

The most interesting thing in Kergan’s wagon isn’t for sale, but he’s willing to let the PCs peek at it for a silver piece each. Once he’s collected payment, Kergan parts the curtained-off section of the wagon to reveal his rarest treasure: a stuffed satyr. The satyr’s skin is leathery and its hair patchy, but otherwise the satyr seems well-preserved. A silver pendant marked with arcane runes dangles from the creature’s neck.

If asked about the satyr’s history, Kergan explains that an Aruandan lord once kept the creature as a slave. When the satyr died, the lord had the satyr stuffed to honor its years of service. The Throne War eventually forced the lord to abandon his Runewild estate, and the satyr passed through several hands until Kergan finally acquired it.

As distasteful as Kergan’s tale is, the satyr’s true history is even more unsettling. PCs who examine the satyr can make a DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check. On a success, the PCs discover subtle stitching hidden beneath the satyr’s fur, as if a goat’s head was simply sewn onto the body of a man. Though an excellent counterfeit, PCs who’ve encountered an actual satyr don’t need to make the Investigation check—they see through the deception immediately.

The “satyr” did once belong to a noble, but that’s where the truth of Kergan’s story ends. Over a century ago, an Aruandan lord decapitated the lover of his unfaithful wife. He then replaced the man’s head with that of a goat and had the resulting hybrid stuffed as a gruesome trophy. The satyr decorated the lord’s front hall until his wife pushed her vengeful husband from a tower window.

PCs who make a successful DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) check recognize the satyr’s pendant as some sort of protective talisman. A detect magic spell cast on the pendant reveals an aura of abjuration magic. Kergan believes the pendant ensures the satyr’s soul rests peacefully, and he’s not entirely wrong. In fact, the lord of Kergan’s story had the pendant made to prevent the ghost of his wife’s lover from returning to haunt his corpse.

While the satyr wears it, the pendant functions as a protection from evil and good spell that affects only the satyr. Once removed, the pendant loses its magic, allowing the lover’s ghost to return and possess his body. Treat the ghost as a satyr with the Construct type until his body is destroyed, at which point he continues attacking as a ghost.

The ghostly lover manifests as a naked human man holding aloft his own decapitated head. Driven mad by his death, the ghost ignores anyone who tries to communicate with him. He attacks all living creatures until he is destroyed.

She Sells Secrets (Runewild Preview)

One of the things I was most pleased about the successful Kickstarter campaign for the Runewild Campaign Setting was hitting so many stretch goals to fund additional content. Thanks to over 400 amazing backers, 50 additional encounters will be added to the book!

I’m in the process of writing these encounters now. Here’s the first of them, a run-in with another of the Runewild’s witches, Gabbie Bleech.

101. She Sells Secrets (CR 3)

  • Gabbie Bleech, a green hag, sells secrets
  • Gabbie’s curse: DC 12

The corpse of young woman hangs in a noose strung from a beech tree beside the trail. The branch supporting the woman’s weight groans as her body sways in the breeze. Though her dress is weather-worn, her corpse seems only a few hours old.

Gabbie Bleech

Gabbie Bleech, a green hag with a weakness for gossip, once sold secrets to anyone willing to pay. To silence her, Gabbie’s coven sisters wove a curse that rendered her mute and strung her body here. Gabbie’s curse prevents her from escaping the noose, but through force of will she’s recovered the ability to answer 12 distinct questions (see the She Sells Secrets table for more information).

Dealing with Gabbie

Gabbie uses her Illusory Appearance ability to appear as the corpse of a beautiful human woman. Physically inspecting Gabbie’s body uncovers the deception, as does a successful DC 20 Intelligence (Investigation) check or any magical effect capable of piercing illusions. A detect magic spell cast on Gabbie reveals auras of illusion (her Illusory Appearance) and powerful necromancy (her curse).

The PCs can attempt a DC 12 Intelligence (History) check to recognize Gabbie. On a success, the PC recalls Gabby’s backstory, as well as the following children’s rhyme:

Gabbie Bleech

Swings from the beech

She sells twelve secrets

A silver each

PCs who check Gabbie’s pockets find them stuffed with silver coins (37 sp total). If any of the coins are stolen, Gabbie’s eyes snap open and she targets the thief with vicious mockery. Except for when she answers questions, this is the only time Gabbie speaks. Even attempts to communicate with Gabbie telepathically fail.

Gabbie’s Curse

Freeing Gabbie from her curse is as simple as loosening the noose around her neck. Gabbie thanks PCs who free her but offers no reward for their kindness. Shortly after being released, Gabbie turns invisible (using her Invisible Passage ability) and retreats into the forest. At the GMs discretion, the PCs may encounter Gabbie Bleech later in the campaign.

Characters who free Gabbie become targets of the curse that silenced her. Each PC must make a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, the character can speak no more than twelve words chosen by their player. (Have the players of cursed characters create a list of the words they’re allowed to say.) While cursed in this way, spellcasters can’t cast spells with verbal components. The curse is permanent until ended by a remove curse spell or similar effect.

Table: She Sells Secrets

Gabbie Bleech’s curse prevents her from speaking normally. However, if a character places a silver piece in Gabbie’s pocket and asks one of the following questions, Gabbie answers. Gabbie accepts no other payments, not even coins of greater value. Questions don’t need to be precisely worded, but Gabbie can’t speak about topics other than those listed below. The GM has the final say as to whether Gabbie answers a question and what information she provides.

She Sells Secrets

All Through the Long, Dark Night

Long Dark Night

In generations past, the villagers of Widderspire marked the eve of the winter solstice by leaving out gifts for a fey creature named Ember John. After the Aruandans conquered the Runewild, Aldric Widderspire, the village’s new lord, became determined to end this practice. He trapped Ember John in an iron cage and sunk the fey to the bottom of Widderspire Pond. Today, the inhabitants of Widderspire commemorate Ember John’s defeat by gathering around Widderspire Pond each winter solstice to exchange gifts, drink warm cider, and skate on the pond’s frozen surface.

Though banished from the mortal realm, Ember John is still alive. Recently, one of John’s sprites, the icy-hearted Jack-o’-Frost, located John in a frozen corner of the Fey Realm. Instead of setting free his master, Jack stole John’s magical staff and proclaimed himself the “Lord of the Long, Dark Night.” Jack and the other sprites now head to Widderspire to seek vengeance against the mortals who defeated them nearly a century ago.

The third installment in the Seasons of the Runewild adventure series is now available on DriveThruRPGAll Through the Long, Dark Night is an adventure for three to five 1st level characters. It is designed to be played over the course of a single session (3–4 hours of gameplay). The adventure takes place near an enchanted forest known as the Runewild and can serve as an introduction to the Runewild Campaign Setting. You can also drop the adventure into an existing campaign.

The book includes:

  • A complete adventure
  • Advice for scaling to higher levels
  • Stats for a new monster: the giant ice toad
  • Two new magic items: Ember John’s sack of embers and the staff of winter