Features Archive | 12/1/2011
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By Miranda Horner

Y our group of stalwart adventurers has demolished its latest threat, and the search for treasure begins. After all, even if the heroes aren't really interested in gold or fortune (though some might very well be), having the funds to increase one's ability to handle future threats is a bonus. Plus, well, the heroes just might stumble across that magic artifact that you've carefully placed somewhere in your campaign....

Until you get to that point, though, you need treasure of other sorts. Some of it can be magic, yes, but sometimes you just need the mundane shiny things that heroes can pocket until they hit town again. But does it really have to be mundane? Why not liven things up a little by providing odd, but pricey trinkets. Maybe add an adventure hook that you can tailor to lead your crew into a new part of your setting. Put some lore into each item to give it a bit of a history. Or, if all else fails, drop in an item that helps gently nudge the characters back on track if they've wandered off so far that you might as well start a whole new adventure.

You can revisit past "Treasure" articles for other ideas, or jump right in to see what three items you could potentially add to your game tonight. This time, we turn our attention to the Feywild and provide you with treasure that can help you bring Heroes of the Feywild into your game.

Serendipity: A Summergleam Wood Pixie Lute

Of a size suitable for pixies, this six-course lute is crafted primarily from a warm, honey-hued wood that shimmers with a hint of burnished gold, so the body of the lute has an overall natural glow to it that draws the eye -- especially in sunlight. The headstock has been carved to resemble a swan's head curling in and down. The rosette is six-tiered and forms a stylized star. The lute's pegs, fingerboard, and neck are formed from or veneered with a deep red wood that complements the shade of the body's tones. In the right light, a viewer is given the impression that flowering vines run along the base of the bridge, as well as the neck and fretboard. The gut strings have an amber hue. When played, the lute has a lighter-toned sound that evokes images of motes dancing in the sunlight and the feeling of light, refreshing breezes.

Appraisal Value: 2,000 gp

The lighter wood that makes up the loot comes from the summergleam tree, which grows only in the Feywild, and the darker wood is that of the heartsworn tree, another native of the Feywild. See the lore section below to help you introduce both types of trees to your game, plus introduce the name of this particular lute: Serendipity. You can also add to this item's importance in your game by using the following adventure hook.

Serendipity's Opposite: Adventure Hooks

The artisan who crafted Serendipity also crafted a darker lute in the same time period. Created from the wood of the deepdusk tree, Winterheart (the name of this particular lute) has a naturally dark hue that a light coating of varnish has brought into lustrous life, and striations of pale blue glow faintly when the wood is in a dim or dark location. Its accents are similar to summergleams', but instead of coming from the heartsworn tree, they come from a specific tree in the Maze of Fathaghn called Sorrow's Surcease. The wood from Sorrow's Surcease has a silvered tone to it, lending the lute a colder edge in terms of color palette. When played, the notes seem to strike the listener to his or her very heart with sharp-edged sound. The song of Sorrow's Surcease is a dark one, and a tale tells of heartbroken mortals seeking to find solace at the base of this tree.

Adiel's Duet: A human bard named Adiel seeks Winterheart. When he hears that the adventurers have Serendipity, he finds and approaches them to ask for their help in locating and retrieving the dark lute. If asked, he states that his intention is to play Winterheart while another skilled musician plays Serendipity. He has a theory, backed by an ancient tale of the Feywild, that when both lutes are played in a duet along with vocal accompaniment, that this transports the listeners in such a way as if they are physically in the story told within the song. Neither lute is magical when played alone, but together, they do create effects of wonder and awe.

Of course, Adiel has someone in mind to sing opposite him -- that is, if nobody among the adventurers has talent at playing the instrument and singing -- but finding her and persuading her to perform with Adiel is another adventure entirely.

Placement of Winterheart is up to you, and Adiel might have a hint as to where it is. (You could lead the characters into the Feywild to locate it.) The final challenge: Figuring out a way to play these extremely small lutes. Adiel's candidate isn't exactly the size of a pixie either, but the bard's sense of dark humor does not decrease an underlying hope that he can make his current dream come true, even if he shows he has a general dislike for flittery, sparkling beings such as pixies. (Consider this, too: Perhaps Adiel isn't what he says he is. If you give him a secret identity and hidden motives, consider making them long-term so that you can use him to introduce some of the machinations of the various Feywild factions.)

Surcease of Sorrow: A young woman named Gwynn has gone missing, and her closest relative, Bran (perhaps introduced to the party when trying to sell Serendipity), asks the adventurers to help him find her. Gwynn recently discovered that the person she loved most in the world was not as he seemed, and Bran thinks that his sister might have sought to travel to the Feywild to cast herself at the foot of Sorrow's Surcease. She had become obsessed over the past year with tales about this tree, and she shared some of the details with Bran, which he then shares with the adventurers. He has an idea of how she would have reached the Feywild; the manner in which she could get there is left to your discretion, but it could involve the use of Serendipity. Bran also reveals that he believes that perhaps the fellow who broke his sister's heart, called Cienna, is the one who introduced his sister to the tale of Sorrow's Surcease.

Thanks to his sister's hints, he's not entirely sure that Cienna was human as they had both initially thought: perhaps he is from the Feywild? (In this case, perhaps Cienna is exactly what they first thought he was, but he could be fulfilling a pact of sorts to the fey. In fact, maybe the plan all along was to lure Gwynn into the Feywild; perhaps she is the key to something larger, and the adventurers stumble onto it.)

History or Nature (moderate DC): Based on the description, the lute's name is Serendipity, and its origin is the Feywild. The wood that forms the lute is from the summergleam tree (a warm, honey-colored wood with gold highlights) and the heartsword tree (a rich, red wood).

History (hard DC): Tales tell of a lute that is the twin to Serendipity in terms of shape, but that is crafted of darker materials.

Nature (hard DC): The wood that was used to make Serendipity was willingly given by the tree; if Winterheart is used, the same is true of the wood that went into the crafting of Winterheart.

Silverlight Crystal Vial

A small crystal vial glows softly with a silver-limned green light, seemingly catching the available illumination and retaining it. The vial's stopper is crafted to appear as the crown of an oak tree and the vial is the trunk.

Appraisal Value: 1,000 gp

Though the glow of the vial is faint enough that its only use is to allow someone to find it in a darkened location, it can serve other purposes in your campaign. For instance, it might provide the characters with their first introduction to a hamadryad adventurer. The vial contains a small sample of what seems to be wet, earthy soil. In truth, the soil is that of a hamadryad's favorite spot in the Feywild. Where you place this vial in your campaign can help you determine exactly what involvement this hamadryad might have in the future adventures of your group, plus flesh out her immediate history.

Regardless of where the vial is found, the hamadryad returns to retrieve it, and, if it's gone, seeks out those who took it (namely, the adventurers). When she finds them, she watches them for awhile to see if the group seems amenable to diplomacy and persuasion. If so, and if they return the vial, she is grateful and could provide a boon, such as guidance in the Feywild. If she doesn't think the group will part with the vial willingly, she tries to retrieve it with stealth. In either case, if the soil isn't in the vial anymore, her first goal is to replenish it: She loves to open the vial from time to time just to smell the soil.

Arcana or Nature (hard DC): The crystal that forms the vial comes from Astrazalian in the Feywild. It was grown and formed into the vial's shape by artisans trained to create such artistry. Some scholars claim that the crystal is a living creature since it repairs fractures within a few days, but this self-repairing ability fades one hundred years and a day after its creation. At that point, the glow will fade.

Gold Horn Caps with Mesh

Two gold, elongated caps have an ornate mesh of gold chain between them. Each cap has a mechanism that seems to allow it to tighten or loosen with the press of a button. Small diamonds sparkle in the mesh, forming a star.

Appraisal Value: 4,000 gp

The caps can be fitted to the horns of a creature, such as a satyr, in such a way that the mesh lies lightly over the head. If a character thinks to wear it on his or her hair, he or she discovers that the mesh itself is so finely crafted that it doesn't catch hair—it's almost a solid fabric with its intricate and delicate weave.

You can use this piece of jewelry to introduce satyrs (and potentially other fey) into your campaign. Feel free to work with a player to adjust the hook to allow for the character's introduction into the party if the player is amenable: the satyr mentioned could be the player's character, or perhaps a member of the group retrieving the piece can transition into a player character.

An Unwanted Gift: This particular mesh once belonged to Illonius, an adventuring satyr who gifted it to someone else who was in dire need. Unfortunately for him, when he did so, it triggered an enchantment that immediately allowed the one originally gifting it to Illonius's to know that it was no longer on Illonius's person. When the adventurers find it, a group of fey from the Feywild is on its way to retrieve it so that they can return it to its original owner. The fey group first seeks to bargain for its return (use the appraisal price as the upper limit of gold the fey offer). If bargaining fails, stealth might suffice at a later date. Depending on how the characters handle this, they could gain favors with the Court of Stars -- or earn its enmity.

As for Illonius, his intent on giving away this piece of jewelry was twofold: The person needed it for funds (and the fate of this person is up to you), and he had never particularly cared to wear horn caps, but felt somewhat bound to wear them given that they were a gift. The lady who had gifted him with the jewelry would understand why he gave it away, he feels, and would have approved of the action.

About the Author
When Miranda Horner isn't editing, writing, playing with graphics, or monkeying with websites, she's gaming, drumming, singing, dancing, exercising, reading, playing with assorted cats, hanging out with friends, and crafting. (Not all at once.) You can catch her giggling merrily and being silly on Twitter (@mirandahorner) if you're so inclined.

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