GameJoy: Three Different Ways to Use ‘The Wild Beyond The Witchlight’

The best D&D adventures and modules are the ones that are replayable, offering up a variety of tools, monsters, and setting details to be used in your home campaigns. Even if the latest D&D hardcover adventure isn’t to your players’ tastes, quite often the best ones have one or more things that can be re-used or re-skinned; location or dungeon maps, unique monsters or NPCs, and encounters or plots that can be reworked to any adventure or setting.

The Wild Beyond The Witchlight is one such adventure. If you’re new to this one, check out my impressions of it at the link here. It’s a visit to a colorful fey-themed carnival that becomes an adventurous romp through the land of Prismeer, a domain within the Feywild. What I love best about the book, other than its abundance of amazing art and maps, is how versatile it is when used either for parts or to supplement an existing campaign.

The Witchlight Carnival can be used all on its own as a one-shot adventure of PC’s relaxing and visiting a travelling carnival. The setting of Prismeer provides enough faces and worldbuilding to be a jumping off point for a whole Feywild campaign (like the kind you can run using our FREE PDF, Into the Feywild). The book also stands alone as a solid little bestiary of feywild native creatures and monsters.

Here, I’d like to outline a few unique ways I’ve thought of using The Wild Beyond The Witchlight, other than just running the adventure straight from 1st level as intended. There’s a ton of content in this book, and here are three ways of using it differently.

1. The All Fairy Campaign

TWBTW assumes all the player characters have ties to the Feywild, but otherwise call the material plane their home. The ‘All Fairy Campaign’ assumes the opposite, and turns the structure of the campaign on its head.

Each player character chooses fairy as their race. They’re a group of Feywild natives who were temporally frozen in the Palace of Heart’s Desire by the magic of Iggwilv’s Cauldron. Somehow, their magical bonds have just been released.

Instead of being tasked with travelling to the palace to try to stop the coven or rescue Zybilna, the party’s goal is to escape the palace, flee Prismeer, and get to the Witchlight Carnival in order to deliver an important message to Mr. Light and Mr. Witch. Saving the captives in the Palace is beyond the party’s power at 1st level, but both Mr. Witch and Mr. Light are trusted friends.

If the players want more variety than just fairies, they can also play harengon, dryads, satyrs, goblins, and eladrin. All of them Feywild natives captured at the same time, and united by a common need to escape.

This turns the campaign from a slow whimsical trek through the unknown, to a fast paced escape through familiar (but not too familiar) Feywild locales while being chased be the servants of the Hourglass Coven and the League of Malevolence. 

Each area the PC’s need to pass through is guarded by a member of the league: Kelek, Zargash, and Zarak. For an added threat, have Warduke be a recurring antagonist, tracking and trailing the fairy PC’s as they escape. He might block them at crossroads, or spring traps on them if they linger too long in one area or another. If he’s defeated, perhaps he re-emerges elsewhere, bearing scars of the last encounter. He doesn’t go down for good until the PC’s are just about to cross over to the material plane.

This turns the adventure from a Wizard of Oz or Alice in Wonderland style romp of chill exploration at the players’ pace, to a madcap flight through the wilds of Prismeer, trying to suss out who has access to a portal to the material plane and the Witchlight Carnival.

Possible locations of such a portal are The Inn at the End of the Road, Bavlorna’s Cottage, Little Oak, within Nib’s Cave, and in Lockbury Henge. Choose one of these locations, and have the PC’s have to discover it by searching for rumors and information at each new location they visit.

2. The Isekai Campaign

 “Look, a dungeons and dragons ride!” These words are cemented in D&D fans of a certain age, as they herald the start of the 80’s D&D Saturday morning cartoon. Well, TWBTW starts in a very similar fashion: a travelling carnival appears, holding within it a portal to a fantastical world of myth and magic.

Instead of starting the campaign in the forgotten realms or another fantasy setting, set it in our real world. The players are all humans, maybe idealized self-insert versions of themselves if they like. The Witchlight Carnival is a ‘planarversal’ travelling place that can appear on any world, and this season it decided to show up in the PC’s home town. One way or another, the PC’s end up transported to the magical fairy realm of Prismeer, where in order to be sent back home they must defeat the League of Malevolence and the Hourglass Coven.

Instead of choosing a background from the Player’s Handbook, players can roll on the following table to determine who their character is and what things they start with. DM’s feel free to adjust and change this table as needed for your players’ tastes.

d12      Ordinary World Background
1.         Student
2.         Social Media Influencer
3.         Retail Worker
4.         Stay-at-Home Parent
5.         Small Business Owner
6.         Barista
7.         Fast Food Worker
8.         YouTuber/Twitch Streamer
9.         Sidewalk Musician
10.       Librarian
11.       Landscaper
12.       College Dropout Working Through Their Issues

 All of these backgrounds start with 1 skill or tool proficiency they feel suits the background, but nothing else. Characters gain 1 extra skill of their choice every even level gained (2nd, 4th, 6th, etc), up until 10th level. The PC’s immediately gain the skills, proficiencies, and starting items of their class once they arrive in Prismeer.

The human PC’s only starting items from the real world include anything they would realistically have in their pockets. Cell phones and other small electronic devices work as intended, but their batteries are slowly dying. Every time they use a battery powered device, have the player roll 1d20. On a roll of 1, the device’s battery is dead. Each successive time used, the battery dies on a roll of 1-2, then 1-3, and so on until the device’s battery is dead. 

Of course, this is no easy task for stay-at-home moms, college students, and social media influencers, so each of the human PC’s gets to choose a D&D class to embody. Now they can take on the role of adventurers.

More commonly this storytelling trope of ordinary people finding themselves in a fantasy world is called an Isekai. It’s a Japanese genre of fiction that trades a lot in comedy and fantasy wish-fulfillment. TWBTW is a campaign that’s ideally designed to support such an adventure.

3. An Unexpected Domain For Ravenloft PC’s

The Feywild is considered to be the bright mirror to the material plane, contrasted by the dark mirror of the Shadowfell (where Ravenloft takes place). As such, the Feywild has a lot in common with the Domains of Dread in terms of scope and scale; the big difference being their atmosphere and tone.

However, if you’re looking for a new destination for your PC’s in a Ravenloft campaign, the domain of Prismeer is one that can very easily be adjusted to suit the dread and gloom of the Shadowfell. It’s already home to an evil coven of hags and a cabal of malevolent spellcasters. Toppling the Hourglass Coven is a worthy endeavor for the Keepers of the Feather or a group of monster hunters fresh out of Barovia.

Of course that’s the easy alteration to make. What’s more challenging, and potentially way more fun, is having morally ambiguous PC’s from Ravenloft arrive in Prismeer, either by fate or fluke.

Dhampirs, undead reborn, hexbloods, lich patron warlocks, and other macabre adventurers have to make their way through the colorful fairytale land of smiling happy denizens to get what they want. Are the PC’s here to conquer Prismeer? Are they searching for something on behalf of Strahd or another darklord? It’s up to you and your players, but this campaign setup turns the atmosphere of TWBTW on its head; allowing you to really play up the events of the campaign as a kind of fish out of water comedy.

Imagine The Wizard of Oz if the main characters were the Universal Monsters instead of Dorothy and company. Would they throw their hats in with the Hourglass Coven or stand against them? The League of Malevolence could become a group of allies, or the PC’s could undermine them and take the league over. Iggwilv the Witch Queen could be as much an ally or patron as an enemy.

This presents an off-kilter way of playing TWBTW that could make for a mini-campaign or a connected series of one shots. Depending on how mature your players are, it could also be an instep towards playing *thunderclap* an evil campaign.

The choice is yours.

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