You can place the haunted glen in any forest, but the forest of Cormanthor in the Forgotten Realms is its default home. The adventurers can chance upon this place as they travel on some other adventure you have planned for them. As such, it is a curiosity, or a place to assuage their curiosity. This sidetrek is for player characters of 8th level.
Deep within the forest, a small path opens onto a clearing. Trees and brush surround this glenlike area, but a sense of dark deeds and sadness also presses lightly upon the senses of some who visit here. Visitors never seem to wonder about this though, since more interesting things reside within the glen itself.
The glen is about 100 feet across and vaguely oval in shape. The trees shade only the outer ring of the glen in a swathe about 20 feet wide. Thus, light from the sky can shine down on the center of the glen unimpeded (except on overcast days). Such places in the forest are not that common, and perhaps the prospect of open sky drew the former occupant to the place. Hearty, short grass once covered the clearing, and viewers can see patches of it here and there still, but longer grasses and some bushes have overcome most of this shorter growth over the years. Strangely, though, while it seems untended by anything, the glen has not become swallowed by the woods.
In the center of the clearing stands a small house. Roughly 20 feet square, it is made of logs and possesses a roof of thatch and woven branches. The whole structure stands without any need of joiners. One door set in the north side leads to a main room, and a second door on the east side leads to what was once a bedroom. The main room is 20 feet by 10 feet and takes up the entire northern side of the house. The south section is divided into a bedroom and a smaller room that was used for storage. Doors connect the main room to each of the other rooms on the inside; they stand slightly open and creak from age when moved. The bedroom has one window, and the main room has two windows on the north wall and one on the east and west walls. The windows were once shuttered, but the shutters are destroyed or gone.
The main room still holds a number of pieces of furniture and a few clues to the identity of the previous occupant. A trestle table stands in the center of the room, two wooden chairs of rough make stand against the interior north wall, and a third chair lies on its side under the table. The eastern interior wall has a shelf unit that stands 6 feet high and runs the length of the wall. The shelf holds the tattered remains of a leather book and a small collection of tools that a lumberer and woodcrafter might use. A number of dried leaves and small branches litter the shelves, too, and they probably were blown in through the open windows over the years.
The book is a journal that describes the life and times of a man who served in the local military as a scout, but retired some years ago to this place. The later entries describe a quiet existence in the clearing, and then the arrival of a beautiful fey woman. From the entries, one could infer that the woodsman eventually fell in love with the fey woman. Then the entries stop.
Debris from the forest clutters the floor, and a dark brown substance stains it in two places. One stain is near the chair that is under the table, and the other stain is close to the door from the main room into the bedroom. (The stains are animal blood; some creature attacked the woodsman's wolf companion outside and drove it into this room, where it died. Whatever killed it also took its carcass.)
A rough-hewn wooden frame of a bed lies in the northwest corner of the bedroom; it is nearly 8 feet long and 4 feet wide. Leather straps and wooden slats provided bottom support, and some rotten cloth remnants are all that remains of the mattress. Against the foot of the bed stands a wooden trunk with an intricate peg and slide lock made entirely of wood (equivalent to an average lock, open DC 25). Breaking the lock itself does not release the lid of the chest. The lock must be unlocked, or the chest broken. The chest contains two rotting sets of clothing, a handaxe, a light crossbow and 12 bolts, and some personal effects. All of these objects are in poor condition due to age.
The small storage room is lined with shelves and large wooden boxes set in niches on the floor. The wooden boxes contain odd remnants of foodstuffs that probably grew in the forest (nut shells, dried herbs, fruit rinds, that sort of thing). The shelves hold a few iron pots, some carved wooden bowls and utensils, and three now-empty baskets made of local leaves. The baskets once contained food, but forest animals have eaten every bit of it in the years since the house was abandoned.
Just outside and to the west of the door on the north wall stand two poles set in the ground about 8 feet from the wall. They once served as the supports for a lean-to shelter that connected to the wall; characters can still discern the connection locations on a successful DC 20 Search check. Lightning destroyed the roof of this lean-to long ago, and the small wood pieces that have not rotted away lie in the deep grass that grows in the clearing.
About 30 feet west of the house stands a second small building: a stable. It too is made of logs and is 15 feet long and 10 feet wide. Its thatch roof has partly rotted away. Within is a single stall with a water trough, and the bedding material is long gone. A shelf mounted on the back wall holds a bridle and bit, a comb and brush for horses, a rotting feedbag, and a few leather straps that could have multiple uses. (The horse ran into the forest and escaped the slaughter.)
The Story Behind the Location
Once upon a time, a woodcrafter lived in this place alone save for his horse and a wolf companion. Once a scout for some local military, he retired here when he found himself passed over for a promotion that he felt was due him. He lived here awhile and built the structures here by himself or with the help of cooperative forest creatures. A loner at heart, he relished the quiet and tried to maintain peaceful relations with the forest fey creatures and animals.
Some time ago, a fey nymph visited him, fell in love with him, and enticed him to fall in love with her. This love was his undoing, for his paramour was an evil fey from the Unseelie Court. She and a group of evil fey creatures came one night and captured the woodsman, and in a night-long dance ritual stole his soul, or at least a part of it. The ritual so affected the trees that they can no longer grow in the clearing. They carried the body into the forest and hid it; later, animals ate it. Part of his spirit remains, seeking wholeness or rest, but unable really to affect the world around him. (This is the darkness or sadness that presses upon the area.) His former lover knows that his spirit continues in the glen, and alternately fearfully avoids him or comes to taunt him. The whim of fey creatures is hard to understand.
If the player characters spend time here, they can encounter the ghostly woodcrafter (a ghost that cannot affect the physical world and can barely communicate) and possibly the fey woman that stole his existence as well. She is not very dangerous on her own and relies on her wiles to distract foes from harming her. If she feels threatened, she retreats and returns with 1d4+2 satyr allies.
Glynara: Female unseelie nymph sorcerer 4; CR 9; Medium fey; HD 3d6 plus 4d4; hp 20; Init +1; Spd 30 ft.; AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +3; Grp +3; Atk +4 melee (1d4+1/19-20, +1 dagger); Full Atk +4 melee (1d4+1/19-20, +1 dagger); SA charm, corruption of beauty, corruption of nature, spell-like abilities; SQ low-light vision; AL NE; SV Fort +2, Ref +5, Will +9; Str 10, Dex 13, Con 11, Int 16, Wis 15, Cha 20.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +15, Climb +10, Concentration +6, Diplomacy +15, Hide +7, Intimidate +7, Knowledge (arcana) +9, Knowledge (nature) +9, Listen +10, Move Silently +7, Sense Motive +8, Spellcraft +9, Spot +10, Ability Focus (charm), Ability Focus (corruption of beauty), Alertness, Combat Casting, Dodge.
Charm (Sp): Any creature that sees the unseelie nymph must make a DC 18 Will save or fall in love with her. This ability works as the charm person spell cast by a 7th-level sorcerer. If the creature is male, he treats the unseelie nymph as the love of its life and the center of his universe, and he will do anything short of ending his own life, or violating his basic ethos, to please the unseelie nymph. Those charmed by an unseelie nymph will not leave her side while the charm is in effect, and they will defend her to the death. (Note: Defending one's love to the death is different than throwing oneself off a cliff simply because the beloved wished one to do so.)
Corruption of Beauty (Su): Once per week, an unseelie nymph can permanently drain 1 point of Charisma and 1 point of Constitution from any creatures under the effects of its charm ability. The range of this ability is 30 feet, and each affected creature can make a DC 18 Fortitude save to resist this effect. A male takes a -2 circumstance penalty on this saving throw, since he would willingly give the unseelie nymph anything it requests.
Corruption of Nature (Su): An unseelie nymph can twist and corrupt nature itself. For every week that an unseelie nymph lives in an area, she twists, deforms, and kills the plants, and fouls the water. Fouled water cannot support life, so any fish in a lake that becomes fouled by the unseelie nymph die the following week. The unseelie nymph first affects the area around her designated "home," and then she extends her influence in circular patterns of increasing size. Each week the unseelie nymph can corrupt a circle of radius 150 feet, but successive weeks' circles add on to the first. Thus, in the first week the unseelie nymph corrupts a circle of radius 150 feet centered on her home. The following week, the circle of area affected grows to a radius of 300 feet, and in the following week the circle of effect grows to a radius of 450 feet. The maximum area that can be affected by a single unseelie nymph is a circle with a radius of two miles, and this takes 71 weeks to accomplish. Any plant in the area that is sentient and self-willed or controlled by another creature, such as a druid's oak or a treant, can make a DC 18 Fortitude save to resist the effect each week that it remains in the area. Creatures that make this saving throw cannot identify the source of the effect simply from being attacked by it. This is a Charisma-based ability.
Spell-Like Abilities: 1/day -- dimension door. Caster level 7th.
Sorcerer Spells Known (6/8/4; save DC 15 + spell level): 0 -- acid splash, dancing lights, detect magic, flare, prestidigitation, touch of fatigue; 1st -- expeditious retreat, mage armor, ray of enfeeblement; 2nd -- invisibility.
*Terrain-Dependent Skill: Unseelie nymphs who have chosen the forest as their home have a +4 racial bonus on the Climb skill, and this skill is considered a class skill.
Possessions: +1 dagger, ring of protection +2, amulet of natural armor +1, bracers of armor +2, wand of magic missile (caster level 7th, 26 charges), potion of displacement, 2 potions of cure moderate wounds.
Glynara's Satyrs: Male satyr barbarian 3; CR 7; Medium fey; HD 5d6+5 plus 3d12+3; hp 44; Init +2; Spd 50 ft.; AC 21, touch 12, flat-footed 21; Base Atk +5; Grp +7; Atk +7 melee (1d6+3, head butt) or +7 ranged (1d6/x3, shortbow); Atk +7 melee (1d6+3, head butt) or +7 melee head butt and -1 melee (1d4+1/19-20, dagger) or +7 ranged (1d6/x3, shortbow); SA pipes; SQ damage reduction 5/cold iron, fast movement, low-light vision, rage 1/day, trap sense +1, uncanny dodge; AL NE; SV Fort +5, Ref +7, Will +7; Str 14, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 11, Wis 15, Cha 17.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +11, Diplomacy +5, Hide +14, Intimidate +11, Jump +10, Knowledge (nature) +8, Listen +19, Move Silently +12, Perform (wind instruments) +11, Spot +14, Survival +5; Alertness, Dodge, Mobility, Spring Attack.
Pipes (Su): One of Glynara's satyr can play a variety of magical tunes on his pan pipes. Usually, only one satyr in a group carries pipes. When he plays, every creature within a 60-foot spread (except satyrs) must succeed on a DC 15 Will save or be affected by charm person, sleep, or fear (caster level 10th; satyr chooses the tune and its effect). In the hands of other beings, these pipes have no special powers. A creature that successfully saves against any of the pipes' effects cannot be affected by the same set of pipes for 24 hours. The save DC is Charisma-based. One of Glynara's satyrs often uses his pipes to charm and seduce especially comely women or to put a party of adventurers to sleep and then steal their valuables.
Rage (Ex): The following changes are in effect as long as one of Glynara's satyrs rages: HD 5d6+15 plus 3d12+9; hp 60; Grp +9; AC 19, touch 10, flat-footed 19; Atk +9 melee (1d6+6, head butt) or +7 ranged (1d6/x3, shortbow); Full Atk +9 melee (1d6+6, head butt) or +9 melee (1d6+3, head butt) and +1 melee (1d42/19-20, dagger) or +7 ranged (1d6/x3, shortbow); SV Fort +7, Will +9; Str 18, Con 16; Jump +12.
Trap Sense (Ex): Each of Glynara's satyrs has an intuitive sense that alerts him to danger from traps, giving him a +1 bonus on Reflex saves made to avoid traps and a +1 dodge bonus to AC against attacks made by traps.
Uncanny Dodge (Ex): Glynara's satyr can react to danger before his senses would normally allow him to do so. He retains his Dexterity bonus to AC even when flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker.
Possessions:+2 studded leather, dagger, shortbow, quiver with 20 arrows.
Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, "The Unseelie Nymph" website article, Player's Handbook, Monster Manual, Dungeon Master's Guide.
About the Author
Robert Wiese is a veteran of the RPGA offices, where he worked for seven years and has been a member since early 1991. In that time he has written over 60 adventure scenarios for the club, a couple of articles for Polyhedron, and the Living Force Campaign Guide (the last one with Morrie Mullins). He also got the Living Greyhawk and Living Force campaigns off the ground and into the hands of wonderful members to develop. Now he works at the University of Nevada at Reno in the Biochemistry department, proving that you never can tell where you'll end up.