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.
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 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.