D&D Diary – The Wild Beyond the Witchlight – Session 16

Off we go into the wild grey Yon-der. The story twists into the Wizard of Oz, and we fly straight to this land’s witch, er, hag.

Witchlight alt Title square
 I thot I saw a puddy cat!

When last we left our heroes, we had spent two sessions travelling from the Land of Thither and into the Land of Yon via a difficult mountain pass. Between woodland weddings and chimera jousting, we encountered a peculiar shopkeep named Dex who traded some of our more trivial magic items for some that we could actually use. Like my SpellGuard Shield that I am determined to make my DM regret giving me. Another item we regretted was turning Daithi’s halberd that he hallucinates can talk into one that actually does. It turns out this possessed polearm despises Daithi and wants to drive him insane, make that, more insane. Which happened immediately, dragging us into a forced and contrived player versus player roleplaying encounter that almost made me quit the campaign.

The problem for me is that I had such high hopes for this adventure of playing Alice in Wonderland filled with whimsy, wit, and wordplay. I didn’t expect everyone to be as engaged with the theme as I am, but I had hoped they would at least play along with the story. Most did, but those who didn’t drove me mad. Instead of interacting with the story, they insisted upon making the story all about them, forcing the other players to deal with them, wasting countless hours focusing on them instead of the adventure. I cannot tolerate such self-centered behavior. Don’t get me wrong, I love a character with private goals and motivations, but they should never detract from the story or (more importantly) other players’ enjoyment. But I’m determined to see the adventure through, so with gritted teeth, I’m still here.

Map Yon DM Map
The Land of Yon – DM Map. My favorite tiny detail is the kid flying a kite on the western edge. We’ll meet him later.

Of all the lands we’ve travelled, this is the grimmest one yet. (Get it? Grimm. The Brothers Grimm? Okay, I’ll stop.) Below, lie jagged rocky peaks and narrow slippery paths, while above, the sky is a permanent tempest of angry storm clouds. Bleak and treacherous, Yon is a land without hope. There is no sun in the Land of Yon, just a permanent grey lit only by the occasional flashes of lightning that all streak toward the wretched castle carved into the tallest mountain. That is Motherhorn, home to the hag Endelyn Moongrave, and our ultimate destination.

As our guide is pointing out all the lowlights of the land, two figures approach out of the gloom. One is a 3-foot-tall walking dandelion, the other is a slender female wearing a crescent moon mask. The dandelion immediately takes a defensive position, brandishing a rapier that I could use as a toothpick. It is protecting a large buzzing bumblebee that I hadn’t noticed before. The moon-faced female speaks, “Well, you’re certainly an odd group.”

I reply, “Actually, there are eight of us, so we are quite even, thank you.” See, I’m still trying to keep the spirit of the adventure alive.

WBTW Amidor
Amidor the Dandy-Lion. We get it WotC, you’re very clever. But I’m very disturbed the thistle has purple blood.

The dandelion is called Amidor and we had already learned that he can lead us to the final location when the time is right. That is, after we’ve completed some more trivial quests and collected enough plot coupons. So, we need to get this walking weed on our side. Amidor also completes the Holy Trinity of Guides for this adventure. We’ve had Clapperclaw the scarecrow, Squirt the oilcan, and now Amidor the dandelion. A sly homage to the Wizard of Oz, that surprisingly many in my group did not pick up on including the DM. I only wish that these three had some sort of desire that they felt could only be granted by the wizard, or, in this case, witch at the end of our journey. Amidor has vowed to help Gleam, so if we want this lawn parasite to help us then we got to help Gleam with her tale of woe.

WBTW Selenelion Twins
Gleam and Glister. I could never recall which one we were rescuing.

Gleam is the moon-faced elf and her first dilemma is that she is missing her shadow which has been cut from Gleam’s body by Endelyn and hidden somewhere in her castle. She is also separated from her twin sister, Glister, who is also trapped somewhere else in Endelyn’s castle. So, to get to the end of this gods-forsaken adventure we need get Gleam her shadow and her sister. Check. Let’s get going. BTW, the twins are part of an acrobat act in the Witchlight carnival. Glister wears a sun mask, and since Endelyn is prophesized to die at the sight of an eclipse, she has banished or hidden all images of the sun, hence the perpetual storm clouds in the sky. BTW part 2, the bumblebee, Pollenella, is Amidor’s paramour in some arboreal love tryst that is best left to the imagination. BTW part 3, we’ve been able to move this along pretty quickly because Daithi is still unconscious on the back of my blink dog, so he wasn’t able to rage and ruin everything.

As much as I’d love to storm the castle and complete this double reunion quest as quickly as possible, I know how this works. We need to find some allies to help us with the hag, and blah, blah, blah. So, we head off in the opposite direction looking for some new friends for us, or enemies of Endelyn, I’m not particular.

As we were traveling to wherever, we came across three billy goats gruff. But these goats have silver fur and golden hourglass eyes. They are either prophesy goats or they’re in league with the Hourglass Coven. Maybe we should just kill them. Before we can hack them to bits, they start spouting out some rhymed couplets, so I guess they’re prophesy goats and we let them live. One by one their poems begun.

Billy Goats Gruff
The Three Billy Goats Gruff. I truly wished they had been named Moe, Larry, and Curly of The Three Stooges. 

“When the moon obstructs the sun, creepy Lyn will come undone.” We already know this one, and the previous scene just told us the same thing. Last time, we couldn’t figure out the hag’s weakness if our life depended on it. Here, everybody knows the hag’s deal.

“Play to her passion, stick to the script; a cat, a horn, or shadow ripped.” So, we’re probably going to put on a show for the witch. The horn is probably the unicorn horn, and the hag likes to collect shadows. No idea what’s up with the cat.

And the final rhyme, “The fool’s scepter is the key.”… What, that’s it? Where’s the rhyme? That’s just lazy, WotC. Off the top of my head I got, “The fool’s scepter is the key; these things three, we foresee.” Was that so hard? No idea what it means though. Maybe there’s a Nilbog in our future.

WBTW Carnival Map Nilbog
Although unintended, at the end of the adventure, this fool’s specter is also the key to a challenging riddle.

Following the Rules of Reciprocity, I give the goats some goodberries that I found way back in Session 5. Later, I found out that if we had not followed these rules, then the goats sic some sort of monster on us. But do I get any thanks for following the rules and the spirit of the adventure. No, I do not. We continued our journey away from the witch’s castle, but fate, it seems, has a different plan for us.

Rolling on the random encounter table, we are still channeling The Wizard of Oz. A tornado bears down upon us while we’re stuck on a rocky trail with zero cover. Despite making my save, too many of us fail to grab onto something and apparently this was group effort, or the DM is sick of splitting the party. We are all sucked up into the swirling vortex. Like all good random events, the twister could deposit us in any number of locations, some good, some not so good, and some tragically bad. Guess which (or witch) one we get?

WBTW Amphitheater
During the adventure, I wish we had been shown this picture of the amphitheater. I found it’s geography very confusing.

Tragically bad. The tornado slams us onto a stone-cold floor of a giant open-air amphitheater. An amphitheater in the heart of the hag’s castle. And there the hag is, in the center balcony, staring down at us, proclaiming, “Oh good, more actors for my amusement. Go put on your costumes.” I guess we are performing for this witch after all. Those goats really called it. This is bad.

Even worse, Herbert has lost his pocket watch, which is funny because Herbert is a white rabbit with a pocket watch, and I never realized that he had one. Sir Owl, Shammer’s fourth or fifth familiar, has lost his top hat. The fact that this thing even got saving throw during the tornado shows how abused this familiar is. Even worser, my mushroom companion, Shitake, is long gone; nowhere to be found, lost to the wild winds. Along with the other mushrooms, Amidor, Squirt, and Elkhorn, but who cares about them?

Campestri
Don’t worry, good buddy. I’ll tear this world apart to find you again!

I am seething. I really thought that the DM just decided to remove Shitake from the story. He didn’t bother anybody. He just sat on my shoulder and danced occasionally. He hid during combat, and I never abused him to “help” me, just to give me advantage on my rolls. What’d he ever do to you, DM!? Why didn’t he get a saving throw? Shammer’s stupid owl did! I seriously considered throwing the entire session into disarray, refusing to do anything until I found my mushroom again. Screw the whole campaign, I want my Shitake back! Never fuck with the players’ pets.

Nilbog long
This is the Nilbog from Volo’s Guide to Monsters. I don’t care what they say, this is Stagefright.

But as usual, I played nice and got ushered offstage and into wardrobe by Stagefright, a goblin in a jester’s costume with a clownish scepter. His stat block is a Goblin Boss, but he totally should have been a Nilbog. (Which is goblin spelled backward and as a monster is usually terribly disruptive to any game, but he would have worked here.) I guess the goats called this guy too. I will spend my entire time here unsuccessfully trying to get this scepter separated from this fool.

During our time on stage and in the dressing rooms, we met yet another dozen NPCs to make things more convoluted. Any one of them could have the key piece of intel we need to proceed. Twelve more pointless conversations with useless background characters. This adventure has too much NPC bloat. But I didn’t care about any of that. I am feverishly trying to work out how I can manifest an eclipse to occur using stage props or other methods. Incredibly, Thane (Shammer’s puppetmaster) is trying to do the same thing, and this is something that we end up bonding over in the coming sessions. But more on that later.

We ended the session here. In the next session, we will perform our Impromptu Improv in an attempt to win this hag’s favor. But it was too late to start it tonight. The timing was all off today, and the tornado really messed up the pacing. It wasn’t anyone’s fault tonight, but after last week’s infuriating session, I was in no mood for a humdrum one. I was bored and irritated. We were proceeding at a snail’s pace and I wanted to quit again. Even with Michael’s Daithi roleplaying unconscious for the entire session, we just cannot move it along. But next week’s “Play within a play” showed promise, so I vowed to give it one more week, and man, I’m glad I did.

WBTW Theater full
Here’s the offical pic of Stagefright giving an actor his lines from offstage. He’s a freaking Nilbog! He even has the same scepter.

Next week, something different, with a verbatim account of a phenomenal session and a well-timed affirmation about why I love D&D.

As always, after every boring, humdrum session, there’s always the next one to redeem itself, and Game On!

It’s a twister! It’s a twister – Zeke, in The Wizard of Oz. Who the heck is Zeke, you ask? He’s the farmhand who goes on to become the Cowardly Lion. The other farmhands are Hunk (Scarecrow) and Hickory (Tin Man). And now you know.

Wizard of Oz Twister
It’s incredible that the twister in this iconic scene is really just a burlap sack.

 

20 thoughts on “D&D Diary – The Wild Beyond the Witchlight – Session 16

  1. “BTW part 2, the bumblebee, Pollenella, is Amidor’s paramour in some arboreal love tryst that is best left to the imagination. ” What did no one ever explain the birds and the bees to you? They’re both pollinators, you see.

    Losing your pet with no option for return is a bad outcome for a random event, you’re right messing with the player’s pets is not a good idea for a DM unless they’re the kind that can be resummoned later.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah true, but the queen bee does not pollinate. But really I just wanted to know who is the catcher and who is the pitcher.
      Plus, it will be revealed what happened to the missing NPCs next week. But at the time, I was maaaaaad.

      Like

      1. I assumed it just looked like normal bee/flower relations, considering those already are sexual for the flowers. The bee just crawls on the center of the dandelion’s bloom. Yes, that means his ‘face’ is actually his genitals. Have fun interacting with that NPC now.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I think this is a mix-up because The Man with the Golden Gun is a movie where Zardoz fights Saruman, but Saruman, not Zardoz, is the one with the gun.

        Liked by 1 person

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