A Fey’s Lair – Finished!

I’m pretty happy that I stuck to my schedule and published the last piece of my D&D side-trek adventure series on the timelines I’d set for myself. In truth, I missed the “end of summer” by one day, but I’ll put the blame on that to my wonderful friends and family who proof-read the production. Feedback is a two-edged sword, it makes your product better but you end up revisiting pieces of your work that you thought were finished. A Fey’s Lair is now available for purchase on the DM’s Guild.

Overall, I’m quite happy with the experience to date. Late last year I set myself a goal to publish a D&D adventure module on the DM’s Guild. Early on I realized that the realities of work and family life would limit my ability to deliver the product I’d initially envisioned, and so I decided to chop my idea into three pieces. The smaller scope helped me stay on focus and things published more quickly.

One of the hardest pieces of creating these products was changing how I write for it. Although D&D adventures share some similarities with story writing, they are not stories. I needed to scale back my exposition and focus on what a dungeon master was looking for. I still believe I need to improve in this area, but I think I’ve made significant progress, particularly if you compare my first production A Fey’s Anger to the new publication A Fey’s Lair.

So what’s next? 

I’m super excited to have been invited by Jeff C.Stevens to submit an adventure for a compilation he’s putting together. I consider Jeff to be a successful publisher on the DM’s Guild and so I’m honored to receive the invite. I also have a couple small submissions being considered for community publications – one on magic items and one on villains. Crossing my fingers, something may come of this as well.

Beyond that, I’m not sure what I have planned. I do know however I’ve enjoyed catching the writing bug and look forward to crafting my next adventure!

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Horrific Necklace – Cegilune’s Lament

What better magic item to give to a powerful hag than the shrunken head of a rival, hung from her neck like a pendant?

Introducing Cegilune’s Lament, a legendary magic item that Dread Polly Mudmouth possesses. She’s the main villain behind my next D&D adventure F3 – A Fey’s Lair due to be published on the DM’s Guild this coming weekend.

This adventure is the last of a three part series. F1 – A Fey’s Anger, and F2 – A Fey’s Evil are already available there for purchase.

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Open Source Art

I’m nearly finished my latest D&D adventure for the DM’s Guild. I’m hoping to have it posted there at the end of next week. Although I’d love to commission artists to craft work to include in my productions, at this point my sales are far too small invest in this. One day soon though I hope!

In the mean time I’ve made do by seeking out open source art that matches the story I’m  crafting. I’m exceedingly pleased with the fantastic art that I’ve been able to find. I thought I’d share a couple of artists whose work and style fit nicely into the adventure’s I’ve written.

Arthur Rakham (1867-1939) was a prodigious illustrator whose work brought remarkable life to numerous books. Here’s a piece I included in the new production. I thought it was a perfect fit that matched the description of a gnome tinker I have in the backstory of the adventure.

Another favorite of mine from the same time period is John Batten (1860-1932). He was another book illustrator and has fantastic illustrations of fairy tales that fit the mood of my work. Here’s one I used that i thought was a good match for a member of the unseelie court.

I strongly believe that including this type of imagery really helps bring to life the adventure’s I’ve written. I’m amazed at the remarkable work that is available if you look for them!

 

 

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Dread Polly Mudmouth

The villain behind my Fey’s Bargain adventure series is the Dread Polly Mudmouth, an ancient green hag who has plagued the countryside for years untold. She set up the events behind both F1 – A Fey’s Anger and F2 – A Fey’s Evil, but she doesn’t actually make an appearance until the next side-trek, F3 – A Fey’s Lair due for publication on the DM’s Guild later this month.  I’ve included a current draft of my villain below.

By wonderful happenstance, Sly Flourish (Mike Shea)  recent posted a great article Running Hags on his website. I heartily encourage you to take a read through as it provides some great ideas for running hags, which can come in handy when trying to run Dread Polly Mudmouth in my coming adventure.


 

Dread Polly Mudmouth

Dread Polly Mudmouth is an ancient and powerful fey creature who has tormented mortals by granting them twisted bargains that ultimately lead to sorrow and regret. The mummified head of a sea hag who was caught within one of Dread Polly’s schemes hangs about the old hag’s neck augmenting the evil fey’s power.

Medium fey, neutral evil

Armor Class 17 (natural)

Hit Points 90 (12d8 + 36)

Speed 30 ft

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
16 (+3) 12 (+1) 16 (+3) 14 (+2) 14 (+2) 16 (+3)

Skills Arcana +4, Deception +5, Perception +4, Stealth +3

Senses Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 14

Languages Common, Elvish, Draconic, Sylvan

Challenge Rating 4 (1100 XP)


Amphibious. Dread Polly Mudmouth can breathe air and water.

Innate Spellcasting. The Dread Polly Mudmouth’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 13). She can innately cast the following spell, requiring no material components:

At will: dancing lights, minor illusion, vicious mockery.

1/day each: ray of enfeeblement, charm person

Mimicry. Dread Polly Mudmouth can mimic animal sounds and humanoid voices. A creature that hears the sounds can tell they are imitations with a successful DC 14 Wisdom (Insight) check.

Horrific Necklace. Dread Polly Mudmouth wears the shrunken mummified head of a sea hag as a necklace hung from her neck. Normally Dread Polly Mudmouth uses her Illusory Appearance ability to hide its appearance.

However, if any humanoid that starts its turn within 30 feet Dread Polly Mudmouth while she wears the necklace and it is visible in its true form, that humanoid must make a DC 11 Wisdom saving throw. On a failed save, the creature is frightened for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, with disadvantage if the necklace is within line of sight, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a creature’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the creature is immune to the Horrific Necklace for the next 24 hours.

Unless the target is surprised or the revelation of the necklace’s true form is sudden, the target can avert its eyes and avoid making the initial saving throw. Until the start of its next turn, a creature that averts its eyes has disadvantage on attack rolls against the hag.

Removing the necklace from Dread Polly is a traumatic event for the hag. If this occurs without her consent, she must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw or be Stunned for 1 round.


Actions

Claws. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d8+3) slashing damage.

Death Glare. While wearing her Horrific Necklace, Dread Poly Mudmouth may target one frightened creature she can see within 30 feet of her. If the target can see the hag and her Horrific Necklace, the target must succeed on a DC 11 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or drop to 0 hit points.

Illusory Appearance. Dread Polly covers herself and anything she is wearing or carrying with a magical illusion that makes her look like another creature of her general size and humanoid shape. The illusion ends if the hag takes a bonus action to end it or if she dies.

The changes wrought by this effect fail to hold up to physical inspection. For example, the hag could appear to have smooth skin, but someone touching her would feel her rough flesh. Otherwise, a creature must take an action to visually inspect the illusion and succeed on a DC 20 intelligence (Investigation) check to discern that the hag is disguised.

Invisible Passage. Dread Polly magically turns invisible until she attacks or casts a spell, or until her concentration ends (as if concentrating on a spell. While invisible, she leaves no physical evidence of her passage, so she can be tracked only by magic. Any equipment she wears or carries is invisible with her.


Playing Dread Polly Mudmouth

Backstory

Dread Polly Mudmouth is an evil hag who setup the events at the center of the the Fey’s Bargain Adventure.

She is utterly evil and loves nothing more than to weave a web of lies to entrap the unwary in a bad bargain. She revels in breaking the spirits of once happy souls and corrupting righteous ones to the ways of evil. These are the only things that bring joy to her endlessly tedious existence.

Appearance

The Dread Polly rarely appears in her normal form, using her Illusory Appearance ability to appear less threatening. Recently she has adopted the guise of Lidea, a once noble woman who became one of the hag’s victims. In this form, Dread Polly appears as a disheveled human woman of indiscriminate age, clothed in a ragged dress that once was of the finest quality. She walks with a stoop and wears a large pendant made of small woven branches hung from a hempen rope about her neck.

If forced to protect herself, Dread Polly will drop her magical disguise and appear in her frightening hag form. Hung from the hag’s neck is a gruesome pendant consisting of a shrunken, mummified sea hag’s head whose sickly white eyes still seem to twitch and look about.

Personal Characteristics

Traits:

  • Borrrrrrring. I’m sooooo disappointed. It looks like I’ll eat you after all.
  • You’ve got to do something nice sometimes otherwise these pitiful mortals will stop coming and then where would I get my entertainment?

Ideal

  • Cruelty. Nothing is sweeter than watching a holier-than-thou mortal beg for mercy.

Bond

  • Nothing is more important than myself. I will do whatever necessary to wring some enjoyment out of this tedious existence.

Flaw

  • Eternity can get pretty boring. I can be distracted by something unique or interesting.

Combat Tactics

Dread Polly is not stupid. She has survived as long as she has because she is smart enough recognize dangerous foes and avoid undue risk.

If threatened she will rely upon her minions to protect her. She frequently uses Vicious Mockery from a safe distance and will cast Ray of Enfeeblement on powerful opponents. If given the opportunity, she will make use of her horrific necklace’s Death Glare ability.

When she truly feels endangered by powerful opponents, she will readily use her Invisible Passage ability to flee to preserve her life. She is happy to bide her time and plan her vengeance, even if it takes years to do so.


The great image in this post is cropped from “A Visit to the Witch” from 1882 by Edward Fredrick Brewtnall.

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New Map for A Fey’s Lair

Here’s a sneak peek at a tactical map that will be included with my next production.

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Play Test Musings

Last evening I had the pleasure of running a play test for a new Dungeons and Dragon’s adventure that I hope to publish later this summer. I had one scheduled player drop out at the last minute but I was lucky enough to coerce a pair of friends to join in and keep the group at a reasonable size.

Whenever I DM a game , I find it usually takes me a few minutes to become immersed in the story and feel connected with my players. For this play test I had to spend some time summarizing the backstory from previous adventures that have led to the events of this session.

As I did this,  I was surprised to notice a welling of self-doubt that I don’t often deal with when playing my favorite game. I had to consciously beat down this flare up of “impostor syndrome”. I find that I am often reluctant to sharing things that I’ve created with the people who are close to me, so perhaps having friends participate made me more self conscious than usual. Whatever the cause, my players helped me moved me past this insecurity.

This session reminded me of how much fun DM’ing is when you’ve got good players at the table. They were all engaged and worked together as a team, trying to let each other’s characters shine throughout the night.

Overall the play test was a success. The game’s run-time was pretty close to what I’d hoped and my players seemed engaged throughout the duration. The group confirmed many of the design ideas I’d incorporated, while also inspiring me with ideas on how to enhance them encounters. What I found exceedingly valuable was that the players revealed interactions I hadn’t considered during my initial design. My finished piece will be that much better because I’m able to include a few components that may address some of these previously unforeseen interactions.

I can’t wait to get back to work and finish the new publication. I hope others will enjoy the finished product as much as I’ve enjoyed crafting it!


Attached Art: A little self-reflection in this post made me think of this classic image from The Ghost Tower of Inverness by the late great Jim Roslof.

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Kind words are nice to hear

I was thrilled to receive some feedback today from an internet friend who’d picked up my two published side-trek encounters from the DM’s Guild. Here’s what they wrote:

I read through A Fey’s Anger and just got A Fey’s Evil. I really like both adventures- twists, seldom-used foes, and interesting encounters that give the players (and DM) a lot of options. I will incorporate A Fey’s Anger into a group I’m forming with some people at work. 

Congrats- and I’m looking forward to A Fey’s Lair!

Being a newbie to this writing game, I can’t think of a better thing than to hear someone’s enjoyed what you’ve put work into. And given it’s a gaming product, to hear they intend to use it for their own game is just fantastic.

It’s inspiring to think that somewhere in that vast ocean of online readers, a couple folks might actually like what your doing.

What a great way to end the day.

David Trampier’s classic image seemed to be a perfect fit for this post.

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