One of the neat things about planning a home-brew fantasy RPG setting is the opportunity to take pseudoscience or mystical mumbo-jumbo from our world and make it real in mine. One of my goals for the players in my library D&D campaign is to get them travelling between the Feywild, the Shadowfell, and the material plane of their world. I think I will borrow ideas from several of Stephen R. Lawhead's books that in turn use the idea of standing stones and ley lines as plot elements. After all, the world which my players inhabit is old. It has ruins and monuments from forgotten civilizations. It is also filled with desolate wastelands and more recent ruins as a consequence of more recent world history.
I think the lore will be as follows:
There are standing stones and archways in forgotten corners of the world. These mark places where the boundaries between the planes are weak, and those with the proper equipment or unfortunate timing can cross through. A standing stone must be circled on foot until the tone from the chosen instrument falls silent. The view through an archway opening warps and twists, revealing glimpses of the other plane, and the way can be traversed until the tone dies. Without the right instrument, the process is hit-or-miss to say the least, and a success may result in an interplanar split party or other adverse consequences.
To reach the Shadowfell, the stone or arch must be struck with the Fork of Horripilation* as the day gives way to night, and twilight envelops the land. This artefact looks like a twisted wrought iron tuning fork, and it retains an unnatural cold even when thrust into a flaming furnace.
To reach the Feywild, the marker must be similarly struck with the Bell of Auroras, a copper handbell with a wooden handle that sprouts tiny vines and flowers along its length every spring. This bell has no clapper inside.
Obvious pitfalls for the player characters:
- The number and locations of these artefacts is unknown.
- The locations of the arches and standing stones are unknown.
- How to get back from these other planes is unknown.
I plan for these to be one-way keys, but the players and their characters may not know that.If they have both, they can move between the Shadowfell and the Feywild should they find appropriate markers on those planes, but they will need a third key to reach the material plane again. Can you think of other complications I can throw into the path of my players even after they start learning about the planes and the artefacts to traverse them? I have a green hag willing to offer partial truths, red herrings, or (for a price) useful prophesies already established in the game. I would also welcome ideas for the third planar gate key appearance and function. It needs to be similar to the fork and the bell, but distinct and somehow capable of exuding a sense of home for the players.
*Do you know what inspired the name of this artefact? Comment below!