I must admit, generally speaking I despise the Dragonlance saga - Fizban, kender, railroads - and yet I recognise that there are some enormously creative set-pieces that I would really like to run one day. The problem though is, like George Lucas's prequel trilogy, sometimes the attempts to lighten the tone end up reducing everything to low (and unfunny) farce.
Yes Fizban, I am looking at you.
One of the set-pieces that I simply adore is found in DL10 Dragons of Dreams and it seems like something that would fit well in my Silver Marches: In Search of the Unknown campaign, particularly as a companion adventure to The Nameless Dungeon which I covered in two previous posts (part one and part two).
3.5E's Lost Empires of Faerûn mentions the following in relation to the descendants of the fallen elven kingdom of Eaerlann who dwell in the High Forest in former Eaerlanni lands:
The Council of the Wood (Caerilcarn) is a group of wood elf elders and moon elf nobles who share a common dream of raising a new Eaerlann, a dream that is slowly coming to fruition. Through the group's efforts the settlement of Talltrees (the ancient site of kingdom's capital) was built and the new settlements of Reitheillaethor and Nordahaeril were founded. The Caerilcarn also cooperated with the army of Evermeet during the fey'ri invasion lead by Sarya Dlardrageth, successfully massing an army of wood elves at the Lost Peaks and breaking Sarya's pursuing orcish forces. The Caerilcarn is headed by Morgwais, the Lady of the Wood, and is led by its spokesman Yrind Morninglight.
I noticed this when I was looking at the background material for The Nameless Dungeon and I started to wonder what would have happened to this council in the century or so since the Spellplague particularly in the context of The Nameless Dungeon suddenly seeing some traffic again: why haven't these elves and eladrin noticed?
That made me think of my gaming bucket list and my desire to run DL10 Dragons of Dreams: the Caerilcarn and the wood elves and moon elves (aka eladrin) that it leads are no longer present on Toril. Instead, they are prisoners in a strange dream realm created by a potent eladrin lore-gem (a selu'kiira) in the possession of a green dragon warlock whose infernal pact is with Malkizid the Branded King:
Adapting the Adventure
In the original Dragons of Dreams, the elven lord Lorac Caladon stole an artefact known as a Dragon Orb and then found himself trapped by the artefact with his kingdom in some sort of nightmare realm. The adventure requires that the PCs either awaken Lorac or slay him so that his land may be freed from the Orb.
To make it more interesting, the means by which Lorac can be awakened is determined by the players flipping three coins - to simulate their characters throwing three coins into a magical pond - and then the results determine what the PCs' three objectives are. I rather like this even though I won't be using it.
I think I will make this selu'kiira an heirloom of House Starym, a sun elf house known for its racism, evil and relationship with the (essentially) dead power Moander, the former deity of rot and corruption. An eladrin wizard of the Caerilcarn examined this lore-gem after it was recovered from an Eaerlanni ruin only to find that it overwhelmed his mind and, in a manner similar to that described for Lorac in the original adventure, used his nightmares (or at least the elven equivalent) to entrap all of the eladrin and elves subject to the rule of the Caerilcarn.
This nightmare realm exists entirely within the selu'kiira and the green dragon that possesses the lore-gem can use its power to entrap others (basically it is an attack vs Will with a single effect: the PC is removed from play... until escape!). And that's how the PCs end up inside... unless, of course, they defeat the green dragon first in which case they may find themselves entering the lore-gem willingly in order to free the elves.
Inside the nightmare realm it is essentially Groundhog Day for the entrapped elves. No matter what they do they find themselves alive and whole again. Even insanity lasts but a short time before the afflicted elf appears in his or her house as if having just left reverie. They are also unable to escape in and of themselves and need the PCs' help.
A short version could simply require the PCs to defeat a monster of some sort: another green dragon, a warped and twisted version of the eladrin mage who accidentally activated the lore-gem, or even an aspect of Moander. However, it might be better to require the PCs to perform a series of tasks that might include:
- Bring hope back to the elves by defeating Treerazer, a fiend in the service of Malkizid which stalks and torments them "daily";
- Purify a temple of Corellon (this could be a skill challenge) that is hidden in shadow and, indeed, haunted by shadow demons. This will give the PCs access to a scroll containing a High Magic ritual of purification - Daoin'Teague'Feer: Starshine Upon the People which is described more fully in 2E's Cormanthyr - that the PCs will need to...;
- Find the original mage who is now corrupted into a plant-like monstrosity by the power of Moander and perform the Starshine Upon the People ritual to cleanse him of this evil.
Treerazer does not appear in the original adventure but, rather, comes from the Second Darkness adventure path from Paizo for Pathfinder. I want to use Treerazer largely because of the art:
The return of the New Eaerlanni eladrin and elves to Turlang's Wood should be a significant event in the campaign and the players should feel like their PCs are major league heroes for what they have accomplished. And I suspect that the elves will be rather generous with their rewards....
I really like the idea of including the Eldreth Veluuthra - these are Nazi-like eladrin and elven supremacists - within the nightmare realm of the selu'kiira. What if they have completely given themselves over to the evil of the Branded King and thus they constantly harry the party as the PCs seek to free the other elves?
What if the green dragon warlock is able to enter the nightmare realm of the selu'kiira but, like the entrapped elves, is unable to be permanently slain there? The PCs may defeat the dragon only to find when they return to Turlang's Wood that it is not only very much alive, it also knows their battle tactics intimately.