The Wild Beyond the Witchlight: Reimagined
Welcome to part zero of The Wild Beyond the Witchlight: Reimagined, an expansion and alternative take on the The Wild Beyond the Witchlight campaign.
Part 0? Didn’t we already read the introduction article and Part 1? — Why are we going backwards? I could say time is fickle in the Feywild, but there’s actually a better reason. When I started this series I intended it as something to shape as I ran the campaign myself. However, after posting the introduction, it quickly became apparent that it was a bit confusing for you, the readers, to not have an outline to ground yourselves.
My goal here is to lay out my current plans for the campaign. Notice how I bolded that? While the adventure outline is important, I am leaving the door open — wide open, in fact — to makes changes. Why? you might ask. A few reasons:
- While I’ve of course read the entire campaign, I have not actually run it in its entirety, as my game is still ongoing. I often realize once I see some of these arcs in action that certain things work better or worse than I expected, and I want to be able to impart that knowledge to you
- The shower conundrum. Ever take a nice long shower and have idea after idea strike in the throes of a good scrub? Where am I going with this? I am always thinking about new concepts and I don’t want to not pursue a good one just because I released content already
- Have you ever heard of Chekhov’s gun? In short, if you read a book or watch a movie and there’s a dramatic focus on an item such as the shotgun on someone’s mantle, there’s a good chance the grizzled cabin owner is going to pick that baby up later when the zombies come knocking. Similarly, if I write content in a later entry that I wasn’t originally planning, it will feel more natural for players if I provide foreshadowing in earlier parts of the campaign
- Lastly, the community for this campaign is simply amazing. There is a unending stream of exciting new ideas and takes, and if something seems like a good fit I’ll probably try to work it in (with the creator’s permission, of course). The community also includes all of you! As you provide feedback I will definitely be taking that into account
If I’m open to changing things, though — how will you keep up? In the table of contents I’ll make sure to note when an entry in the series has been updated and what the main crux of the update was. If a section changes dramatically I may even re-post it to demonstrate the significance of the changes.
That’s enough of my ranting – let’s get to the good stuff.
What Do I Need to Know?
Although there’s too much to cover here, I want to highlight some of the key variations I will be taking from the campaign. As I mentioned in the introduction article, these are not necessarily the right, or even the best, concepts for the adventure. They are simply how I am approaching the reimagining and I hope you’ll find them as much fun as I do (or if not – just take the ones you like!)
Tasha, the Witch Queen
In the main campaign, the hags of The Hourglass Coven are given first billing. In WBtW: Reimagined, Tasha, also known as Zybilna, Iggwilv, Natasha the Dark, and so on instead steps into the spotlight. The hags will still play key roles but are receiving a bit of a demotion.
Tasha is D&D royalty, a legend created by Gary Gygax himself, and has a rich history as the adopted daughter of the “mother of all witches,” Baba Yaga. While the standard campaign tries to paint a redemption story of sorts for Tasha, I feel she is much more interesting as our BBEG (big bad evil gal). Also, let’s face it – her past is far more than a little checkered, with highlights including seducing demon lords and authoring the The Demonomicon (not to mention the disturbing treatment of Isolde in Van Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft). Do we really feel the most realistic outcome is that she reformed into a fairy godmother and was then subsequently trapped by the relative goofballs of the Hourglass Coven? I know my answer.
But wait, you say. Isn’t rescuing Zybilna the core goal of The Wild Beyond the Witchlight? In Chapter 5, the book describes how Tasha decides to abscond to the Feywild to escape her numerous enemies. A simple change is to go from “escape” to “temporarily escape” and we are all set. The witch queen, injured in a recent attempt on her life, is consolidating power in the Feywild. She has taken up position in both the Summer and Winter Courts, posing as Zybilna, a powerful archmage who can supposedly aid the two queens to defeat one another. As Tasha recovers and “advises” the queens, she takes more and more power from the Plane of Faerie for herself. This of course will have dire consequences for the denizens of the Feywild, not to mention those she counts as her enemies.
We’ll dive more into this later, and in fact I plan to dedicate an entire article to the The Witch of Perrenland, so keep an eye out for that in the future.
The Fae Courts and the War of the Seasons
In The Wild Beyond the Witchlight the campaign takes place in Prismeer, a single self-contained domain within the greater Feywild. ForWBtW: Reimagined we will forgo Prismeer and instead take a more traditional and expanded approach to the Feywild — a land split into four domains representing the seasons:
- The Summer Court (The Seelie Court)
- The Winter Court (The Unseelie Court)
- The Fields of Spring
- The Pastures of Autumn
The Summer Court, and the seelie fey, are ruled by the Queen Titania. Meanwhile, the Winter Court and the unseelie fey are led by Queen Mab, also known as the Queen of Air and Darkness. The two are sisters embroiled in a constant rivalry, but it is not a matter of good and evil. While the seelie fey are known for their beauty, and the unseelie for a colder nature, there is no inherent morality to either party. Ten years prior to the beginning of the campaign, tensions rose to a boiling point as they had many times in the past, culminating in conflict between the seelie and unseelie fey known as the War of the Seasons.
While the ultimate conclusion was yet another stalemate, the conflict had a number of side effects. In the Fields of Spring, Oberon — the Green Lord — was the unofficial ruler of the land. After the war, he was nowhere to be found. The Fae goblins, led by the Goblin King Great Gark, leveraged the power vacuum to seize control of much of the land. Similarly, in the swamps of Murkendraw, the hag Bavlorna Blightstraw created a thick impenetrable mist to block off the region from the rest of the Feywild, neatly setting herself up as the most powerful figure in the domain. This mist only surrounds Murkendraw, unlike in the standard campaign where the different parts of Prismeer are silo-ed off.
With ten years since the war, tensions between the Summer and Winter courts are rising again, and a single figure, our favorite witch and creature of great and terrible power, works in the background to take advantage. When the players arrive to the Feywild, this is the state they will find it in.
While the party’s lost things will indeed be stolen by the minions of the Hourglass Coven in WBtW: Reimagined, it is all instead at the behest of Queen Mab. The hags send on their stolen goods to the queen, who stockpiles them as magical weapons for the next war with the Summer Court. It is for this very reason, the connection to her long-lost sisters, that Tasha decides on the Feywild as her place of residence.
As a result of all of this, it is not necessary to determine which hag has the party’s lost things (as per the “Keepers of Lost Things” section in the book), as the answer is none of them!
The following is my high-level plan for how I am laying out the WBtW: Reimagined. As I call out in Part 1, I am utilizing milestone leveling and have listed levels accordingly below, but you are welcome to instead use XP if you wish (you will just need to manage XP on your own).
Character Creation (More detail in Part 1)
- Your players will create two character sheets: one as children and one as normal level 1 adults
- The party is made of characters who all attend the same magical school (but are not necessarily wizards)
- I recommend Blackstaff Tower in Waterdeep as that is the origin from my personal campaign and will require fewer changes on your part, but you can select anything you choose
- Players should be made aware of the campaign’s focus on the Feywild and that they will need to choose something important that will be taken during the prologue
- 10 Years Pre-Campaign
- The Summer and Winter courts clash in the War of Seasons, which ends in a stalemate
- Oberon, the de facto lord of the Fields of Spring, disappears. Great Gark and his goblin forces seize the Green Keep
- Bavlorna Blightstraw blocks off Murkendraw from the rest of the Feywild with a wall of mist
- 8 Years Pre-Campaign
- Queen Mab employs the Hourglass Coven to steal from the patrons of the Witchlight Carnival to build her war stockpiles
- Events of the prologue (see Act I below)
- 6 Months Pre-Campaign
- Tasha, the Witch Queen, pursued by her enemies and grievously injured, flees to the Feywild. She disguises herself as an advisor to Queen Titania of the Summer Court, as well as Queen Mab of the Winter Court (by claiming to serve Queen Titania only as a way to serve Mab’s interest). In reality, Tasha is pitting them against each other
Act I: Beginnings
- Lost Things Prologue | Level 0
- The campaign starts with an air of whimsy as the players, as first-year magical school students, go on an idyllic childhood trip to the Witchlight Carnival. Things take a turn for the worse when the members of the party all have something precious stolen from them by the minions of the three hags of the Hourglass Coven
- The Interlude | Level 1
- Eight years pass as the players come into their own and take part in the relatively quiet life of magical study during their last year of school
- The Witchlight Carnival | Levels 1 – 2
- The Witchlight Carnival has returned and is as equally full of games and wonder as it is of danger and secrets. Will the players find their lost things from eight years past or something else entirely?
Act II: Into the Feywild
- Murkendraw (Hither) | Levels 2 – 4
- Transported to the plane of the Fae, the players find themselves in the vast swamp known as Murkendraw. To escape the wetland, the PCs must navigate the Haregon band led by Agdon Longscarf, the politics of a dysfunctional bullywug court, and the clutches of the frog-like hag Bavlorna Blightstraw
- Domain of Spring (Thither) | Levels 4 – 6
- After escaping on a swamp air balloon from Murkendraw, the party lands safely in the Fields of Spring. After a stop in the Fey town of Vale Crossing, they learn not is all well in the Feywild, as the Summer Court has seemingly gone entirely quiet. But closer to home are the dangers just outside of the village. The hag Skabatha Nightshade lords over the twisted workshop of Loomlurch while goblins rule from the seat of power of the land of Spring — the Green Keep
- Yon and the Winter Court | Levels 6 – 8
- With order returned to the Fields of Spring, the party ventures into the frozen wastes and the domain of Queen Mab to finally track down their lost things. In order to confront the Queen of Air and Darkness at the Winter Palace, they must first make their way past Endelyn Moongrave and her theater of horrors
- Fomorian Frenzy | Levels 8 – 9
- When they finally make it to a ball hosted at Mab’s seat of power, she will only aid the party if they investigate the sudden resurgence of the monstrous fomorians after hundreds of years of them being magically sealed away in the Feydark. The party travels to Mag Tureah, the fomorian fortress, and learn that the culprit was none other than Queen Mab’s advisor Zybilna, who freed the creatures in return for the throne of the Winter Court. When confronted, the disguised Tasha denies nothing and instead makes a brutally violent escape into the dark
Act III: The Doom Foretold
- Returning Home | Levels 9
- Having triumphantly retrieved their lost things, the party is provided with a fey crossing by Queen Mab to return home. Unfortunately, due to the unstable passage of time in the Feywild, more than a year has passed. The party learns that in the meantime the city was victim to a disaster – an invasion from the Feywild, an attack aided largely by a local criminal guild de-activating the city’s defenses. As a last-ditch effort to prevent these events, their school headmaster is able to return the party back in time to when they would have returned back without the strange time-warping effects of the Feywild
- Note: For my Waterdeep based campaign, the organization is the Xanathar Guild featured in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
- Days of Future Past | Levels 9 – 10
- With a new lease on life in the past, the party seeks out the head of the criminal network to find the origin of the attack and preemptively put a stop to it. Their efforts yield fruit — the invasion apparently originated from the Summer Court. Without better options, the party decides to return once more to the Feywild to investigate the Queen Titania’s seat of power
Act IV: The Witch Queen
- The Summer Court (Palace of Heart’s Desire) | Levels 10 – 12
- Once at the Summer Court, the party quickly realizes the reason for the recent silence from the land of summer. The entirety of the palace’s inhabitants have been knocked into a magical sleep. But that doesn’t mean it’s empty. The palace is overrun by the minions of Zybilna, as well as the roosting Jabberwock, a fearsome dragon-like creature.
- After freeing the palace’s denizens they learn that Zybilna, posing as an advisor to Queen Titania, was at fault for the palace’s fate as a first step to seize the Summer Court for herself. Furthermore, they uncover the disturbing secret that Zybilna is in fact Tasha, the Witch Queen herself
- Tasha the Archfey | Level 12 – 14
- Despite the initial failures of her plots to seize both the Winter and Summer Courts, Tasha has recovered from her long-lingering injuries and travels to Mithrendain, the Autumn City with keys stolen from the two Fae courts. There she seeks to take the power of the city’s Citadel Arcanum and raise herself up as an Archfey
- With the help of the Summer Court, and some unlikely allies, the party follows Tasha’s trail in an effort to stop her before she becomes too powerful and invades the Material Plane once more.
I hope this was helpful to set the stage for The Wild Beyond the Witchlight: Reimagined. If you haven’t already, check out Part 1 of the series.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any comments, questions, or suggestions and… see you in the Feywild!
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