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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Eldacar Posted - 27 Sep 2021 : 16:23:19
I happen to have acquired a copy of this new release. I don't have the physical book, only the D&D Beyond version, but I thought I might write a few early thoughts. I assume this is the right spot, since the adventure certainly isn't Realms-specific in its own right.

Specific Forgotten Realms references

For anybody who wants Forgotten Realms lore, there isn't much.

- An encounter with a man called Nib, a human commoner from Toril (Waterdeep), living in the Feywild. He was a slumlord who exploited his tenants, buying condemned property and renting it for exorbitant fees. He wanted to put his bad deeds behind him and his wealth to good use, so he was cursed to turn his gold into useful items for anybody who comes his way. Typical fairy karmic punishment sort of thing.

- A wood elf prince, Alagarthas, from Toril, specifically the Misty Forest. Again, cursed, this one attempting to find his way home. He took a bargain to defeat a green dragon and survive instead of dying, if he spent a year of life in the Feywild. Unfortunately time works differently in the Feywild, and the bargain was also not made in good faith.

- Elemic "the Excellent" is an actor NPC, male human from Toril. No more details on exactly where. (Other actors with him are from "The Known World", Sigil, and Tal'dorei).

- Sumai, a lawful good human commoner, again from Toril. He is waiting to see an Archfey for a deal/request. He has a carnivorous pumpkin (an awakened shrub, probably a cheeky Druid having a laugh) that he wants to stop devouring his livestock, without harming said pumpkin.

Tone

Rather than the devils of Descent Into Avernus, or horror of Rime of the Frostmaiden, it's fairly light-hearted, or rather I would say it can easily be made whimsical. It can get dark very easily if the DM wants to take it that route; I spotted several places on my quick skim where it would be easily adapted. You could do Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Pan's Labyrinth, or Maleficent.

Art

Pretty enough. Not the way that Paizo does theirs, but it's a riot of colour in some places in comparison with the reds of Descent Into Avernus or greys and "cold" colour in Rime of the Frostmaiden.

Plot

Very difficult to say much about this without the giant spoiler tag that is the mysterious Archfey known as Zybilna. Mentioning almost anything about her specifically will, I think, be a giant lightbulb moment for people. But let's see.

The general plot of the adventure is the Witchlight Carnival venturing around on a roughly eight year cycle. It arrives at a location and you can begin to take part. The idea is that characters have, by and large, never really been all the way into the Feywild before - they are experiencing it for the first time. They might interact with it in some way, or have history with it. So there are two options to set the story:

1) The characters will have visited the carnival as a child and snuck in without a ticket, which is theft, and had something stolen from them in fairy fashion as payback (options include, but are not limited to, the ability to keep secrets, ability to smile, three inches of height, artistic creativity, handwriting). Fate reunites them as adults and they are seeking to recover what they lost.

2) An aging warlock asks the characters to go to Prismeer (found using a fey crossing at the carnival) and find out what happened to his warlock patron, Zybilna, because he has lost contact with her. This is a more traditional adventure opening. Zybilna acts as a kind of fairy godmother to children, and each character who hears his description of her will remember her as being their fairy godmother for something that happened as a child (e.g. she was a midwife to their mother, she scared away a bully, she visited them as a child and healed them of sickness, they fell into a pond and would have drowned but she fished them out).

What will ultimately eventuate is that through the adventure hook, the players will enter the Feywild and travel to Prismeer, Zybilna's realm (one of many "Domains of Delight" in the Feywild). It is no longer the fairy realm it once was, however, because Zybilna, the Archfey ruling Prismeer, was usurped by three daughters of Baba Yaga: Bavlorna, Skabatha, and Endelyn, hags of the Hourglass Coven. They trapped her with Iggwilv's Cauldron* in Zybilna's palace.

Anyway. Players will aim to free Prismeer from the hags and restore Zybilna.

There are three "rules" of the Feywild realm of Prismeer in particular. Hospitality, Ownership, and Reciprocity.

Hospitality: When a friend, enemy, or stranger enters your home, you are expected to be gracious and accommodating to them until such time as they prove by word or action to be undeserving of hospitality.

Ownership: You must not steal from a friend, an enemy, or stranger. To take something that doesn't belong to you without the rightful owner's permission is a crime and unforgivable breach of etiquette.

Reciprocity: When a friend, enemy, or stranger offers you a gift, you are obliged to accept it and offer something of comparable value (be it a gift or service) in return. Such reciprocation does not need to be immediate.

As another one for Prismeer, children are protected by a very powerful magic enchantment. Any child in Prismeer who would take damage as a consequence of another creature's actions vanishes in a burst of multicoloured light, spirited away to a safe corner of the realm to be unharmed and unreachable until Zybilna wills the child to return. They can't be located or scried upon with magic until this changes.

* The cauldron is very potent in "story weight" and players are unlikely to be allowed to ever get it for themselves. Among other things, if the cauldron is broken during the adventure then the "Shared Spellcasting" trait of hags across the entire multiverse disappears until it is remade.

Overall

All told, it is a fairly basic plot in its foundation. Go to fairyland, free it from hags, and the "good" (Chaotic Neutral) queen will be restored to power.

For NPCs and the like I will have to delve more deeply into it to determine if the NPCs and meat on the skeleton is worthwhile. At first glance it may be more useful, at least to me, as something where I can simply rip out encounters and other bits and pieces for other things, rather than running it as a full adventure.

There's a few "new" magic items (Snicker-Snack the intelligent vorpal sword who likes fighting evil; also a bunch of items that were in Xanathar's before now), but no new spells. I was mildly disappointed with no new spells, actually. Given certain things, I expected to see at least a couple.

The backgrounds are straightforward. Feylost gives a fey mark (e.g. flowers bloom or wilt, player's choice, in their presence) and has the feature of Feywild Visitor, where a spirit of the Feywild might visit the character and chat with them about things while they sleep, and Feywild Connection, where friendly fey creatures will most likely help them if they're lost in the Feywild. There's also the Witchlight Hand background, which reads to me as "be a carnie, except fairy".

Two races, one being Fairy. Fey creature, small size. You have a couple of cantrips and start with a flying speed. It's potentially quite powerful, especially the Fey typing (Hold Person? What Hold Person?). The other is a Harengon, or rabbit-person. Humanoid, medium or small size (player's choice when selecting), Perception proficiency, slight boost to Dexterity saves, a rabbit hop jump, and (*sigh*) "hare-trigger" granting proficiency bonus to initiative rolls. What a miserable pun.

Quite a few worlds are represented. Oerth, Eberron, Sigil, Tal'Dorei, Toril, and Krynn. The only one that I didn't spot anybody from was Athas, but that makes sense in my head given that Athas is, well, Athas.

The "Rule of Three" from Planescape makes an appearance too.

For mechanics, there's not a lot in the way of unique mechanics, unless you count the "nonviolent solution" theme. Admittedly it's a big theme. It can simply be a fun Wizard of Oz kind of adventure - they make a big deal out of how none of the encounters need violence to solve them, which is technically true. On the other hand, violence in several of said encounters is very much going to cut the proverbial Gordian Knot, so I'm uncertain how well this will work in practice.
15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Gelcur Posted - 23 Oct 2021 : 00:50:45
quote:
Originally posted by sleyvas

Well, all I can say to that article is I've gamed with young and old, and it was the young folks that were always afraid to roleplay. I honestly believe that it was my willingness to talk in a goofy squirrel voice and actively pretend I was 9 inches tall and unfamiliar with the common tongue that made them realize it was okay to worry less about the rules and spend more time playing their characters.

You know it was odd too, when I was younger, when I had girls play they took to it quite readily, but the younger groups I've played with in recent years, its actually the women that seem more afraid to act. Of course, I'm basing this on my own experiences, and it might be a regional thing, or a personal thing. It was just something I noted and thought was odd.


I'm going on to nearly 25 years of D&D and throughout that time we have had a fairly even mix of both men and women, this includes DMs. The thing most these players had in common was they didn't quite fit in anywhere else in society. So I find this whole gatekeeping concept kind of garbage. D&D has always been for anyone willing to not care what society thinks of them. If anything wizards is doing the exact opposite, in an effort to be as acceptable and socially correct by today's standards they need to keep virtue signaling.

One more data point but yes I too found that historically women tended to be better RPers and men tended to be better rules lawyers. Both were good to have at the table at different times. I can't speak for younger "modern" gamers.
TBeholder Posted - 23 Oct 2021 : 00:25:15
quote:
Originally posted by Eldacar

...
or rather I would say it can easily be made whimsical.
...
Witchlight
...
Carnival
...
across the entire multiverse disappears until it is remade.
...
Snicker-Snack
...
Quite a few worlds are represented. Oerth, Eberron, Sigil, Tal'Dorei, Toril, and Krynn.
...
The "Rule of Three" from Planescape makes an appearance too.

This sounds like an usual postmodernist parade from the usual "creative - or at least collaborative - community".
In the great traditions of "returned Toril to its former non-peanut status through a convenient plot hole".

quote:
Originally posted by Gary Dallison

in order to summon a huge giant made of marshmallow to destroy the world.

A witchlight marauder would be more appropriate for the task.
But it was edited out during optimization for maximum product placement of remakes, leaving an artifact title already approved for the cover.
Assuming the classic editorial methodology of Spellfire Saga era is alive, that is. Rather than simple cheerful principle of "ZOMG! We found another wiki-word!"
Gary Dallison Posted - 22 Oct 2021 : 22:07:08
He turns into a dog-bear and then gets it kn with the keymaster in order to summon a huge giant made of marshmallow to destroy the world.
sleyvas Posted - 22 Oct 2021 : 21:44:35
quote:
Originally posted by TKU

I don't think the character would be causing a stir at all under most circumstances. 'Grumpy grognard named THACO' is the sort of self-effacing humor that would probably get a chuckle out of the sort of people it's poking fun of normally.

Making him a 'gatekeeper' though recontextualizes all of that from being good-natured fun into something much more mean-spirited and denigrating. 'Gatekeeper' has become a pretty loaded word particularly of late with which to broadly paint critics of 5e in regard to several controversial directions wotc has chosen to develop the game. WoTC really doesn't need to be fanning the flames of fandom toxicity like this IMO.



Ok, I'll bite... what's the problem with "gatekeeper"?

NM, google-fu works
https://blog.guildredemund.net/2017/12/23/dd-is-a-problem-for-the-rpg-hobby/

Well, all I can say to that article is I've gamed with young and old, and it was the young folks that were always afraid to roleplay. I honestly believe that it was my willingness to talk in a goofy squirrel voice and actively pretend I was 9 inches tall and unfamiliar with the common tongue that made them realize it was okay to worry less about the rules and spend more time playing their characters.

You know it was odd too, when I was younger, when I had girls play they took to it quite readily, but the younger groups I've played with in recent years, its actually the women that seem more afraid to act. Of course, I'm basing this on my own experiences, and it might be a regional thing, or a personal thing. It was just something I noted and thought was odd.
Gelcur Posted - 22 Oct 2021 : 19:56:23
quote:
Originally posted by TKU

I don't think the character would be causing a stir at all under most circumstances. 'Grumpy grognard named THACO' is the sort of self-effacing humor that would probably get a chuckle out of the sort of people it's poking fun of normally.

Making him a 'gatekeeper' though recontextualizes all of that from being good-natured fun into something much more mean-spirited and denigrating. 'Gatekeeper' has become a pretty loaded word particularly of late with which to broadly paint critics of 5e in regard to several controversial directions wotc has chosen to develop the game. WoTC really doesn't need to be fanning the flames of fandom toxicity like this IMO.


Nailed it. I like a good joke as much as the next guy. But we don't need the game license holder to be creating more of a schism. But they have made it abundantly clear that not only will they not be catering to old players but that old players are just bad people. That's ok, they obviously don't need my money.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 17 Oct 2021 : 18:07:16
They could have tweaked the name just a hair, keeping the origin without being blunt about it. Add another letter or switch syllables or something -- Thalco or Cotha or something.

I once made an NPC that was an awakened fox, and named him Davios. Nothing really stands out, about that name... But he was specifically named after a BattleTech character, Hanse Davion, who was nicknamed "the Fox." Just a single letter tweaked, and it's less obvious what the origin was. I wanted the reference there, but I didn't want to slap people in the face with it (which was also why I didn't base the name off of Hanse).

That's one of the things that bugs me about this current batch of designers at WotC: it's not that they include in-jokes (which has been done for years, in D&D and in the Realms), it's that for every in-joke or pop culture reference they include, they put a big sign pointing at it so you can't help but see their "clever" jokes on display.
TKU Posted - 17 Oct 2021 : 17:35:08
I don't think the character would be causing a stir at all under most circumstances. 'Grumpy grognard named THACO' is the sort of self-effacing humor that would probably get a chuckle out of the sort of people it's poking fun of normally.

Making him a 'gatekeeper' though recontextualizes all of that from being good-natured fun into something much more mean-spirited and denigrating. 'Gatekeeper' has become a pretty loaded word particularly of late with which to broadly paint critics of 5e in regard to several controversial directions wotc has chosen to develop the game. WoTC really doesn't need to be fanning the flames of fandom toxicity like this IMO.
Zeromaru X Posted - 17 Oct 2021 : 16:48:24
quote:
Originally posted by George Krashos

quote:
Originally posted by Brimstone

Isn't this the book with Thac0 the Gatekeeping Clown in it?



You're kidding, right?

-- George Krashos



I guess they intended it as a joke (a grumpy clown who hates kids and is a gatekeeper), but some folk didn't like it at all.

https://twitter.com/rhineville/status/1436740440594608136?t=bhPJs1iWEttu22S0mnIcUg&s=19
Gary Dallison Posted - 17 Oct 2021 : 11:03:27
If you are going to do something like that at least make it non obvious

"Two Hits" Aiy-Cee-Oh

Then describe him with his pallid white skin but deeply flushed bulbous nose.



Looks like we are back to the Netheril Boxed set level of game design.
Brimstone Posted - 17 Oct 2021 : 10:17:57
I wish George.
George Krashos Posted - 17 Oct 2021 : 08:27:44
quote:
Originally posted by Brimstone

Isn't this the book with Thac0 the Gatekeeping Clown in it?



You're kidding, right?

-- George Krashos
Zeromaru X Posted - 17 Oct 2021 : 03:53:12
Yes, this is the book.
Brimstone Posted - 17 Oct 2021 : 03:28:01
Isn't this the book with Thac0 the Gatekeeping Clown in it?
Wooly Rupert Posted - 17 Oct 2021 : 00:52:17
I was intending to buy this book, today... But I didn't.

I prefer to buy WotC books from Amazon or eBay, where I don't have to pay cover price, and where I don't feel like I'm directly giving my money to WotC.

But I had to go to my FLGS this day, for Free RPG Day... I like the free stuff, but I know it's not free to the retailers -- they have to pay for all that stuff they give away. So I always make a purchase, and not just some $5 thing, when I go to Free RPG Day.

I was going to buy this book, today, so I'd be making my obligatory reasonable purchase... But then I saw the 13th Age core book. I know a lot of folks have raved about that system... So I didn't give WotC money, I did give my FLGS money, and I got a lot of free stuff. Everyone wins but WotC!

(I do still intend to get this one, but I have to wait -- gonna be getting some credit from NobleKnight.com for some stuff I'm sending them; part of it will go towards this book)
Alaundo Posted - 28 Sep 2021 : 10:34:27
Well met

Many thanks for this summary and analysis, Eldacar. Very useful and will save a lot of effort and wondering by many, i'm sure. I have the tome myself, and found it intriguing but have yet to delve in in detail. Always keen to understand if there are any Realms-specific entries, so you work here is ideal for me personally.

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