“The air has become crisp and cool, the days have shortened and the nights only continue to grow longer. The final weeks of harvest approach, we can only hope for a bountiful batch before winter’s icy grasp. But we must vigilant, for the veil has become thin and mischief roams along the tall-stalked fields. Nothing is what they seem, I just pray that the fair folk be merciful this season.” – concerned farmer
The season of Halloween in the material world, is a period that marks the “darker” half of year as the days get shorter and the nights get longer. Which means several things: the veil between worlds are weaker, mischief is prevalent, and creatures of the night lurk in the shadows.
I grew up to those older fairytales of witches and boogymen taking children at night, along with wisps and spirits, the iconic Halloween creatures like vampires and werewolves populate the creative mindscape. So during the season of mischief and tricks, what can a DM do to spice up their game? How about a trip into the Feywild? If anyone has ever grown up watching The Nightmare Before Christmas, or other various Halloween themed movies in a similar vein, the creeps and ghouls of Halloween reside in a world parallel to the real world. Sounds familiar? Sure does, the Feywild is the natural mirror of the material world, the strange yet familiar vibe adds a refreshing air to a game, especially if the party is lured by a sprite or other fey during an equinox, for example.
There are plenty of hooks to choose that would lure the party into the Feywild, whether by choice or circumstance:
- Children are being kidnapped late at night in a small village, the villages plead with the party to help solve the mystery. Some say a song only heard by the children lures them to the woods.
- Something lurks within the farmlands, the farmer’s family asks the party to help deal with whatever creature has been slaughtering their cattle and ruining their crops
- The villagers have been having issue finding missing trinkets or small metal objects, there are reports of small, invisible giggles just before the items go missing.
- Feral creatures have been seen lurking not far from a small town, the townsfolk tried to hunt them down but many died in the process. They seek willing adventurers to slay the beasts and end their menace.
- A town is cursed at midnight every night to turn into farm animals, the townsfolk have no memory of their time in this form. The party stumbles upon this mysterious event and try to decipher the cause.
So what we got some hooks, now what sort of dangers and trouble can we toss at the party?
If you do decide to venture into the Feywild, the transition should be seamless, where the party is caught unaware that they have been transported into another world. Some fun monsters to toss at the players can be Blights, Hags, Pixies, Lycanthropes, Scarecrows, Will-o-wisp, any undead (including specters, ghosts, wraiths, etc.). I can even seek a corrupted Treant being a possible monster choice. Encounter structures I would recommend using the guidelines detailed in your Dungeon Master’s Guide (doesn’t matter which edition we’re playing, Halloween doesn’t discriminate).
What about a game session with no combat? A mystery perhaps? Well then that requires a bit more preparation for the DM, but I’ve known some to be quite devious with their intrigue. But it’s still a possibility. Always keep in mind the structure of a good mystery:
- The setup – set up the scenes and the hook that starts the mystery
- Suspects – always lead with suspects, have the party discern the culprit (if any)
- The twist – there’s always a twist or two in a mystery, whether it removes a suspect or only adds more questions to the mystery, it’s a powerful tool that adds layers to the plot
- The counter-twist – sometimes there are things that validate the twist or completely overwrites it, like the party chases one of their suspects who seemed to be a likely murderer, only to find out their alibi checked out but this suspect ran due to another alleged charge against him. Use this one sparingly.
- The lure – the effort where most crime solvers try to catch the culprit in the act, thus validating their suspicions
- The close/reveal – the moment of truth that determines if the crime solvers were right all along
There are some leeway when it comes to things like the twist and counter-twist, especially their placement, but this model is a good way to conceptualize a mystery. If you have players who are encounter-geared in their mindset, you can use skills challenges (which I talked about in 5E here) to help ease those players and still drive a convincing narrative. But I would go on the side of caution and encourage DMs to not rely on skills challenges are a means to an end to gamify the experience. Skill challenges do not need to be here at all, but like I said it’s an option for those more encounter-centric individuals.
One thing that a DM should always keep in mind for a Halloween centric session: Scary is good, terror is better, but creepy lasts longer. It’s good to scare your party, or showing them something terrifying, but creepiness lasts alot longer as it’s an itch in your playgroup’s heads. That off-putting doll? Creepy. Children that sing the same song in perfect unison at the same time? Sort of creepy. That murderer what loosely wears the faces of his victims using string and metal staples? You get the idea. It’s all about setting the mood, and once that’s established, you have the free reign to torment your party with things they’ll have nightmares about years down the road.
Now, let’s talk about the fey, or some instances the Greater Fey. If we find ourselves in the Feywild, we may encounter the lords and ladies that preside over the realm. There are Greater Fey that do not rule the Feywild but reign over their own pocket dominion of reality, which fits for the prospective that the Feywild runs on a different pattern and direction of time. So I give you a mock-up of a Greater Fey in the spirit of Halloween, now granted this was a just a quick monster I generated, there are some room for improvement and flavor but I shall leave that to you guys. Enjoy!
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