Part VI: Murkendraw (Locations of the Swamp)

The Wild Beyond the Witchlight: Reimagined

Welcome to part six of The Wild Beyond the Witchlight: Reimagined, an expansion and alternative take on the The Wild Beyond the Witchlight campaign. Please check out the previous entries in the series before diving in here!

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Introduction

In our last article we went through the players arriving in the swamps of Murkendraw in the Feywild as well as the encounters between different locations. For today we’ll cover all of the locations themselves (except Downfall, which will be the next entry). Instead of alphabetical order, they’re in the order that the players are most likely to go to them.

Locations of the Swamp

Slanty Tower

Art by tzlynart

As the players approach the tower you can show them a map of the surrounding grounds. I used this map by Rich Robinson to represent the exterior of the tower. I also recommend increasing the height of the basket to at least 50 feet if you want your players to go inside (otherwise you can keep it as is).

As the players approach they will spot two harengon brigands who are preoccupied with watching the tower and the crashed swamp gas balloon. They’ve been ordered by Agdon to investigate the crash site for any treasure but are waiting for reinforcements before making a move. They serve as a replacement for the snakes, as they provide a better connection to Murkendraw at large.

While the brigands can be avoided, the party will need to be careful as they’ve laid a trap for anyone who may try to sneak up behind them. A carnivorous sod (Tome of Beasts 2 from Kobold Press) is hiding and lying in wait along the incline up to the tower. If you don’t have the book you can instead use three twig blights (Basic Rules). The brigands are also not the brightest and can easily be tricked (my players convinced them that Agdon had sent the party to investigate the tower).

Once the player’s reach the basket and speak with Talavar outside the tower you should adjust the encounter as follows:

  • Talavar was sent to Murkendraw as an effort by Queen Titania of the Summer Court to finally investigate the reason behind the wall of mist (yes, she waited 10 years; it is a backwater after all). Given this, Talavar needs to escape so he can tell his queen of the fall of Murkendraw to Bavlorna (reminder: not Prismeer!)
  • Instead of warning them about the snakes, Talavar will warn them of the harengons (but the party will likely be aware of them already)
  • While a noble fellow, Talavar will have nothing nice to say about the Winter Court and the unseelie fey
  • Don’t give Talavar a chance to speak much beyond this and asking for help

Did you say go inside the tower earlier? That’s not in the book. That’s true, but luckily Daniel Kahn’s supplement Inside Slanty Tower helps flesh out the inside and provide a map. This is completely optional. If you do decide to run it though, I would recommend the following changes:

  • On the second floor add an additional book called Volo’s Guide to the Feywild (see below for details). If you’re not familiar with the intrepid Volothamp Geddarm check out this article
  • On the third floor remove the decanter and the bit about the Geyser keyword. Instead, Elmer has finally found a way to purify the o ‘wells, but knows it won’t last if Bavlorna simply undoes his work and as a result needs to confront her about it. The party can find a single purification vial here that can be used to cleanse an o’ well (see the Gushing O’Well encounter). There’s also a lot of papers here, and it seems feasible that if the party shares the tower’s location that an interested party could reverse engineer the purification vial recipe
  • Ignore the portions about Inside Brigand’s Tollway and The Watcher unless you are using those supplements

Volo’s Guide to the Feywild
Wondrous item, uncommon

This book is a primer on the Feywild. Once per day you can read the book for 1 hour to make an Intelligence check with advantage to research information on a topic related to the Feywild. The information chronicled in the book is determined at the DM’s discretion.

If you do not run the Inside Slanty Tower supplement, then instead you will need to have your players get Talavar’s bird cage down another way (through the use of spells, climbing, etc.).

Once Talavar’s cage has been secured he will thank the party and share the information from the Roleplaying Sir Talavar section of the book. Make the following adjustments:

  • Do not include the part about Iggwilv’s Cauldron, Zybilna, and anyone being frozen in time
  • Instead of outright stating that Jingle Jangle has the key to his birdcage, Sir Talavar will suggest that Jingle Jangle, an avid collector of keys, may be able to help. Additionally, he will share that Bavlorna was the one who locked him up so presumably she has the original key but that seems like a dangerous avenue
  • Rather than offer his sword as a reward for helping free him from the cage, Talavar will simply offer his services. Most likely the party will be seeking their lost things and he is more than happy to be a tour guide around Murkendraw. However he will not enter Downfall and risk being recaptured, and thus will need to bid them adieu at that point (not to mention he needs to fly over the mist wall and report back to Queen Titania)
  • In the meantime, Talavar is happy to provide some items to aid the party in their effort. He shares that the party can find a Potion of Healing in the balloon basket. If you did not run the Inside Slanty Tower supplement, you can also have him offer his copy of Volo’s Guide to the Feywild as well

While the players can certainly leave Talavar at the tower until they get a key, I would have Talavar suggest that the party bring him in his cage along so nothing happens to him while the party is away. This will avoid any unnecessary backtracking.

Telemy Hill

Art by tzlynart

How do you introduce a massive walking hill? My recommendation is to start with the opening provided by u/CasparGlass.

You hear a distant rumbling, growing louder and louder, as the ground begins to tremble and shake. A colossal mountain bursts out of the mists, under which a hundred feet pound into the swamp. It will be on you in a moment: what do you do?

As per CasparGlass’ guide, at this point give your players a chance to find a way to get up onto Telemy Hill (such as a DC13 Athletics check) and punish failures with 2d6 bludgeoning damage as the players are buffeted aside by the hill’s feet (I reduced this from the recommended 3d6 given the low amount of hit points our Level 2 party is bound to have).

From here I will borrow heavily from u/Phaerlax’s A Nightmare in Telemy Hill. I chose to skip the meenlock encounter as I felt like there had been enough combat at this point, but you can definitely run it if you’d like. If you do though, remove the part about Jingle Jangle opening the cage – we will instead use the A Deal Struck section below.

After the players make their way past the Awakened Trees and scale the hill to Jingle Jangle’s dwelling, read the following:

Worn stone steps lead down into a chilly den, and you detect a subtle scent of iron in the air. From a distant spot within the chamber, sputtering candles illuminate a multitude of keys dangling from taut strings that crisscross the walls. Hundreds of other keys lie strewn across the dirt floor.

As you take in the scene, you hear the sound of keys jingling as a goblin emerges from the dimness pacing. She wears a coat lined with metal keys and carries a flail that has padlocks for heads. She mutters “First they stole Jingle Jangle’s truffles. Next, they’ll want Jingle Jangle’s keys. Someone ought to give them a good shaking down so they know what it feels like!”

A Deal Struck

From here we’re going to change things a bit:

  • Jingle Jangle does not just conveniently have the key to Talavar’s cage. However, in addition to being a collector of keys – Jingle Jangle has taken up key making as well and might be able to help
  • As per the Rule of Reciprocation though, the goblin won’t do this task for free. She will impart the tale of how she was beaten and robbed by Agdon’s brigands and ask the party to retrieve her truffles in exchange for crafting a key
  • If the players agree to the deal, Jingle Jangle says she will get on with creating the key and will meet the party at the Inn at the End of the Road once they have the truffles (this will prevent back-tracking as you can conveniently position the roving inn wherever the party is later on)
  • Remove this bit of information from the encounter: “The best guide in Hither is a pincer-clawed scarecrow named Clapperclaw. It hangs around Downfall and knows the way to the neighboring realm of Thither, which is ruled by a hag named Granny Nightshade.” Why not just have the party meet Clapperclaw naturally?
  • Otherwise the meeting should play out as usual with Jingle Jangle sharing her cautionary tale about the hag Bavlorna Blightstraw and more information about Agdon

The Inn at the End of the Road

Rather than have the inn be a random encounter, I explicitly placed it on the map at the location on the map below. That said, the inn does move, so if there’s a time when it makes sense to show up (like the party desperately needing a rest) you definitely should do it.

When you players arrive at the inn read the following:

In front of you is a squat, three-story structure with a slate-shingled roof and worm-eaten wood walls. Dozens of tiny orbs of pale light buzz about the exterior like flies and smoke rises from its stone chimney in cottony puffs. Unlike most buildings you’ve encountered this one is slowly crawling across the swamp on fleshly legs, rocking and heaving as it does so. As you approach it stops and lowers itself as if to allow you entry and you catch the smell of hearty stew.

While there are a lot of resources out there that liven up the inn, I wanted to keep it more sparse to reflect the fact that Murkendraw has been trapped inside the wall of mist (plus I will have more bustling tavern once the players reach the Fields of Spring). As a result, only Tsu and a bullywug named Splork are present when the party arrives (though for a bit of fun consider adding the magical broomstick from u/GoofySpook’s take on in the inn). If you’d like to use a map to represent the inn I recommend this one by Meditating Munky.

The players will likely start by chatting up Tsu so let’s address her first. Given how we’re handling Zybilna and the lack of Prismeer in the reimagining, we’ll need to give her new motivations and information.

Tsu Harabax has had a hard time of it with her inn being cut off from the lands outside of Murkendraw
  • Instead of seeking to restore Zybilna to power, her wish is that the wall of mist comes down so people once again travel to Murkendraw from across the Feywild (and to her inn)
  • Given the lack of guests, Tsu is happy to share any thoughts on her mind with the party
    • Tsu still doesn’t have anything positive to say about the Hourglass Coven. “Before Bavlorna, this inn was the talk of Murkendraw. Now with the fog – who is going to stay here? Certainly not the bullywugs.”
    • She shares that Murkendraw was once the domain of the Summer Court and under the rule of Queen Titania, though admittedly on the outskirts and not often visited. However, after the War of the Seasons Bavlorna sealed it off with a magical mist. The people of the swamp (bullywugs, harengon, stilt walkers) tried to fight her off but were defeated by the hag’s lornlings and taxidermy creatures
    • She doesn’t know much about the war but states that it was one of many between the Summer and Winter Courts 10 years ago. She’s convinced the Winter Court must be somehow involved with Bavlorna as why else wouldn’t the Summer Court have rescued them by now?
    • The swamp also used to be home to the hag Baba Yaga, the Mother of all Witches, but she left a long long time ago or is dead; no one really knows
    • If asked about the party’s lost things she won’t know much other than that Murkendraw is filled with thieves between Agdon Longscarf’s band and Bavlorna’s lornlings. She also brings up the town of Vale Crossing in the Field of Spring as a potential place to look as it’s a melting pot of Fey and people from the Material Plane (this will be a new addition to the campaign once we get there)
    • If Vale Crossing piques the party’s interest she says there’s probably no way to currently get there given the impassable mist unless the party all sprouts wings
  • Rather than promise to restore Zybilna to power, Tsu will offer a free stay and long rest (not meals) in exchange for a promise to help bring down the wall of mist. For food and drink I would instead recommend using this menu from Poofimatree
    • Tsu, more of a pragmatist than most Fey, will take a trade or coin in exchange for meals. For prices I recommend 1 gp for the specials and 5 sp each for the breakfast options, drinks, and desserts
    • Given the power of some of the items (such as the Caramel Fritters) you may want to limit how many Tsu has available (or make them lose their magical potency over time if the players are saving them for later)

Spork is a squat bullywug who the party will find enjoying a drink at the bar. He recommends the caramel fritters if asked, and will share the following with the party:

  • Spork is from a town of mostly bullywugs called Downfall. Downfall is ruled by King Gullop XIX and the soggy court
  • The town is surrounded by high waters and requires a boat or raft to get to
  • The court of Downfall takes themselves very seriously and it wouldn’t be wise to mock them. He isn’t the biggest fan of all of the politics and enjoys quiet drinks at the inn when he can afford it
  • Bavlorna also lives in Downfall and is the real power there

Remember if that the players visit the inn after Downfall and helped Octavian that he will be also be here.

Brigand’s Tollway

Art by tzlynart

When the players come to confront Agdon, I found it strange that they could essentially just walk right up to the brigand prince. As a result I used this map by TEHOX to kick things off before they got to the stump itself. As a result, when reading the intro text, replace “Three hundred feet away” with “In the distance”.

I ran the map as follows (but adjust as needed if you use a different map):

  • The party starts at the bottom and is looking to exit out at the top right to get to the stump
  • I placed three groups of harengon here. Near the top left there should be a harengon brigand and a harengon sniper, while near the top right there is a harengon brigand and a harengon brawler. At the bottom by himself is a sole harengon sniper actively keeping lookout
  • If you want to lighten the mood, perhaps some of the harengon are chanting the Agdon Longscarf march (or this alternative version based on Gaston from Beauty and Beast by u/alientonx)

COMBAT TACTICS
If the party is sneaky, the sniper to the south can be knocked out or killed without alerting the others (use a DC 14 Stealth check for sneaking past him), but otherwise the sniper will yell for help on his turn. From there the party can either try to fight their way out or stealth to the exit. A fight with either of the groups in the north will likely draw in the others nearby. Avoiding combat altogether is difficult, but is possible if the group near the top right is drawn away somehow (such as through a distraction) or if the party are particularly smooth talkers.

Once the party makes it out, I then took them to this map by Eightfold Paper (their Autumn variant) to represent the stump area. To start with, we will need to adjust Agdon’s backstory here. Rather than the business with Zybilna, I changed the story that he attempted to steal from Bavlorna herself and was pinned by the hag as a result. Bavlorna saw an opportunity with Agdon though, and made the deal to free him from the magical nail in exchange for the best prizes from his raids. From there his fellow harengon chopped down the tree to let him down.

Rather than have Agdon suddenly appear next to the party I instead set the map with a standard confrontation between the party, Agdon (seated on his carved wooden throne), and Agdon’s compatriots (I reduced Agdon’s allies to just one harengon brigand, one harengon sniper, and one harengon brawler to make the fight more even). Then before, rolling initiative I played off Agdon’s speed by having him appear beside one of the PCs.

That said, you should give the party a chance to parley with Agdon. The brigand prince will likely be a bit wary of immediately fighting a group of PCs that already somehow made their way into the heart of Brigand’s Tollway. That said, Agdon won’t give up the truffles for Jingle Jangle cheaply. He’ll likely want a significant portion of magic items (he has to pay a tax to Bavlorna after all) or perhaps even the return of Talavar himself.

If the players do fight and defeat Agdon then they can find the following treasure (remember Agdon’s scarf is not removable):

  • A Lucky Clover (see below)
  • 2 Arrows of Faerie Fire (see below)
  • A Potion of Healing
  • Stolen diamonds worth 10 gp
  • 4 rations
  • Jingle Jangle’s stolen truffles
  • Anything the harengon have previously stolen from the party

In either case, if the players successfully get the truffles then they should advance to Level 3 if you are using milestone leveling. If you’d like to give the party a chance to explore the stump itself, you can use the maps and descriptions from Daniel Kahn’s Within Brigand’s Tollway supplement (but be careful to remove anything referring to Zybilna).

Lucky Clover
Wondrous item, uncommon

The clover looks ordinary except it has four leaves. Consuming one the clover’s four leaves while outside of combat grants you one luck point. You may only have a maximum of one luck point from the clover at any given time. This point may be spent in accordance with the lucky feat in the Player’s Handbook (p. 167). Once all four leaves are consumed the remains of the clover fade out of existence.

Arrow of Faerie Fire
Weapon (arrow), uncommon

An arrow of faerie fire appears as a standard arrow with a thin, sturdy wooden shaft and feathered tail. The shaft of such an arrow is flecked with painted dots resembling glitter. If a creature takes damage from the arrow, they must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw. On a failure, the creature is outlined in colorful light for 1 minute as per the faerie fire spell. Once an arrow of faerie fire deals damage to a creature, it becomes a non magical arrow.

WHAT IF MY PARTY DIES
The fight with Agdon can be a tough one for a Level 2 party and there’s a potential chance for a TPK (total party kill) if a fight breaks out. If you want to avoid a TPK (which I would recommend given how early in the campaign this is), then instead do the following if things go south:
– Have the harengons knock out or stabilize players who are rolling death saving throws and at risk of dying
– While the party is unconscious, Agdon and his merry band should rob the party of all of their magic items and consumables (the harengon have no use for money and plenty of non-magical armaments). The items will be stored at Brigand’s Tollway so that if the party comes back later for Round 2 they can recover them
– The players should not advance to Level 3; instead level them up when they are successful at the Proving Grounds in Downfall
– Agdon and crew will deposit the party with Bavlorna at Downfall. Bavlorna will keep them locked up but will free them in exchange for a simple fey pact… (see Downfall section in the next article!)

Resources

I have highlighted some of the resources I used for this portion of the campaign below. Some of these are for locations within Murkendraw not covered in this article.

Art

Music

What’s Next?

We’ll pause here for now so find a lily pad and a nice cool drink, because next time we’ll heading to Downfall and finally meet the hag Bavlorna Blightstraw. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any comments, questions, or suggestions and… see you in the Feywild!

6 thoughts on “Part VI: Murkendraw (Locations of the Swamp)

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