Welcome to Tanglewood Faire Plot in Aerune | World Anvil

Welcome to Tanglewood Faire

D&D 5e
Setting Agnostic

1-4 Players
Any Experience Level

Character Level 1-4
Or play one of the NPCs


You have been traveling with a merchant caravan for two weeks through rolling hills and quiet forests. It's early autumn and the trip has been pleasant and uneventful, aside from a few heavy rains washing out the road. Whether a passenger, a guard, or just a tagalong, you've enjoyed the relative security of venturing forth in the company of three dozen people.   Shortly after midday, the lead wagon of the caravan unexpectedly breaks from the road and guides the other carts to huddle up like a half-curled caterpillar. The merchants and guards who have been with the caravan the longest begin muttering excitedly amongst themselves, and you overhear that there is a small fall festival here, a few hours out from the next town. The caravan will continue tomorrow morning, but for now, a break in routine is welcome.   Your fellows are already disembarking, settling the mules and anchoring the carts before funneling towards a gap in the trees. Warmly greeting each of them is a short, plump human man whose ruddy brown skin and neatly-combed black hair are set off by a stunningly embroidered silk sherwani suit in crimson and gold. Past him, you can see the little faire--just a cluster of wooden booths and colorful oilcloth awnings scattered about in a tree-ringed clearing just off the road.   When you reach him, he gives you an earnest smile, an enthusiastic handshake, and a quick bow. "Welcome to Tanglewood Faire, friend! I am Rasud Ikha! Do not hesitate to ask me if you have questions about our humble festival!"   It's a lovely day, bright and cool, and you have a few spare coins in your pouch. Why not have a little fun?

Playing Faire

Bet Your Bottom Copper
  A bronze-colored dragonborn woman meets your gaze with a sly grin. With one hand, she flips a gold coin high in the air and catches it effortlessly. "Come to call on Lady Luck, traveler?" She opens her other hand and drops a pair of carven bone dice onto the weathered bartop before her, then nudges them towards you with one long, clawed finger.
  Entry cost: 1 gp minimum   Prize: 3x total entry cost   Notes for the DM on Gambling

Playing the game:
  • Player rolls 2d6 and adds the dice rolls together.
  • If they get a 7 or 12 in total, they win 3 gp (or 3x their entry cost).
  • If they do not, they can choose to pay another 1 gp. Player rolls one more 1d6 to try to get 7 or 12 in total.
  • If they get a 7 or 12 after anteing up, the player wins 6 gp.
    Holding Hands, But Make It Angry
      You see a stout, handsome figure standing atop a sealed crate, an empty stool to the left and the right. As you draw closer, you make out a brown-skinned dwarven woman dressed in a leather jerkin and skirt, muscular calves and arms bare. She claps her sword-callused hands together and shouts: "Next contenders, please! A free drink ticket to the winner of each arm-wrestling bout!" She spots you and gregariously waves you towards one of the stools.
      Entry cost: 1 sp   Prize: 1 Drink Ticket   Notes for the DM on Arm-Wrestling

    Playing the game:
  • Both characters make a Strength check.
  • The character with the higher roll gains ground, moving the clasped hands closer to their side of the table.
  • Repeat this opposing Strength check a minimum of three times until one character wins. The winner must have a total of 3 more successes than the other character. (Example: A has 4 successes and B has 1 success; A wins. A has 3 successes and B has 6 successes; B wins.)
  •   Likely NPC challengers:
    1. Keyde: 1d20+3
    2. Jhortigunt: 1d20+2
    3. Bearchaser: 1d20+4
    Eye on the Ball
      A lithe, winsome high elf whistles an intricate melody until he can catch your eye with a gleaming smile. "Friend, come, come! A game for every age! Find the ball in the cups!" His long hands dance deftly over a trio of amber-glass shot glasses, rolling a similarly-golden glass marble across the table between each cup with exaggerated slowness.
      Entry cost: 1 cp   Prize: a "good luck charm" that resembles one of the following (roll 1d6):
    1. a jet-black worrystone
    2. an antique key
    3. an unminted copper piece engraved with an asymmetrical symbol
    4. the dried, severed foot of a common songbird
    5. a river-smooth hagstone
    6. a doll's painted ceramic hand
      Notes for the DM on Balls

    Playing the game with Perception:
  • The player rolls three successive Perception checks to keep track of the ball as it moves between cups.
  • The DC for the first check is 12. A success does not change the DC, but each failure raises the DC by 2. This applies for every Perception check.
  • If this character has played this game once before, the performer will cheat and use Sleight of Hand to vanish the ball on the third check; DC 17 Perception for the last check to catch him cheating.
  •   Playing the game with Charisma:
  • The player attempts to fluster or distract the performer with a Charisma check (Persuasion, Deception, Intimidation, or Performance). They must make three Charisma checks of their choice.
  • The DC for the first check is 15. A failure does not change the DC, but each success lowers the DC by 1. This applies for every Charisma check.
  • If this method is used, the performer declines to let this character play again.
    Hair of the Dog
      Raucous shouts and cheering draw your attention to a pot-bellied human man waving a sloshing tankard high in a toast. Nearby, a few individuals share hazy looks of disgruntlement after setting down a smaller mug. One of them turns away and heaves, and the human host roars a laugh.   Upon spotting you, he gives you a greasy grin, dips a clean mug into an open barrel of what could be gutter water, and sets it on the table for you. "Free Hair o' the Dog, mate! Keep three of 'em down an' you'll get a drink ticket for somethin' better!" You peek at the liquid inside the mug; it's dark and almost marbled, like silt stirred from the riverbed, and it smells swampy and acrid.
      Entry cost: free!   Prize: 1 Drinking Ticket   Notes for the DM on Alcohol Poisoning

    Playing the game:
  • There is no minimum or maximum number of participants for this game.
  • Each participating character must roll three consecutive Constitution saving throws against a rising DC of 13 (first roll), 14 (second roll), and 15 (final roll).
  • Any failures cause the character to gag, throw up, or otherwise lose the competition.
  • Any natural 1 rolls are Poisoned for 1 hour but take no immediate damage.
  • Any characters who succeed all three saves win the prize; there may be multiple or zero winners per match.
  •   Optional drunkenness rule: After this game, each participating character rolls a Constitution check against a DC of 12 + every Hair of the Dog they successfully drank. On a failure, the character is Drunk for 1d100 minutes or until cured by a Lesser or Greater Restoration spell. While Drunk, the character has disadvantage on all skill checks, disadvantage on Dexterity and Intelligence saving throws, resistance to Poison and Psychic damage, and advantage on saves against Charm and Fear.   Likely NPC challengers:
    1. Jhortigunt: 1d20+7
    2. Emeir: 1d20+5
    3. Pelyas: 1d20+4
    Truth or Faire
      A professorial gentlegnome in a neatly-pressed linen suit sits primly in front of a double stack of old books, eyeing each passerby over the rim of his half-moon glasses. "You there," he abruptly calls, looking you up and down. "Have you any culture? Enough intelligence, perhaps, to know famous books from infamous lies?" His white moustache bristles in a smirk, and he drums his knuckles on the leatherbound tome in front of him. The twin stacks have their spines facing inwards, hiding their titles.
      Entry cost: 1 gp   Prize: A pocket-sized Enduring Spellbook (common Wondrous item).   Notes for the DM on Nerds

    Playing the game:
  • On each round, each of three participants rolls an Arcana or History check (their choice) to determine whether the book title given is real or fake. Each participant gets one point for each correct answer.
  • Q1: A Voyage Through Bound Ley Lines. DC 15 to determine as fake.
  • Q2: On Detecting Empty Places in the Astral Plane. DC 13 to determine as fake.
  • Q3: Magic on the Other Side of the Master's Lightning. DC 14 to determine as real.
  • Q4: The Origin of the Creation of Components and Enchantments. DC 12 to determine as fake.
  • Q5: The Lesser Key of Alchemical Castles. DC 16 to determine as real.
  • Tie-breaker (if necessary): "What was Carrow Lucier's famous treatise on the knitting technique theorized to have crafted the warp and weft of space-time as understood 350 years ago?" DC 15; highest roll above 15 gets the correct answer fastest and wins the game. (A: Foundations of Astrological Intarsia.)
  •   Likely NPC participants:
    1. Pelyas: 1d20+7 Arcana
    2. Bearchaser: 1d20+6 History
    3. Gilynore: 1d20+6 all Intelligence checks

    The Haunted Maze

      After the players have enjoyed a few games, it's time for the main attraction.  
    A shrill whistle shrieks across the festival, and you see Rasud Ikha, the smiling man who first greeted you, standing unsteadily on a tall stool. "My friends! Our most beloved attraction is now open! Come, come! Be brave! Explore the Haunted Maze!"   By the time you make your way over to the swiftly-growing queue, you can see what burlap tarps had previously hidden--a maze-like series of wooden halls, closed to the outside breeze and sunlight, guarded by a tall privacy fence. A human and a half-elf in matching guard costumes flank the entrance to the maze, ensuring each group has plenty of space between them.   While you wait, a halfling child no more than ten years old races up to you and grabs your hand. "Scuze me! I dropped my jewelry box in there! Can you look for it when you go through?" She stares up at you plaintively until you agree, then beams at you and scurries off.


      An ash-skinned tiefling boy, tall and lanky, grins crookedly at you. His white hair is disheveled and doesn't quite hide the blunted nubs of his oni horns. "What'll it be?"


  • Hair of the Dog - 1 cp
  • Goblin Juice - 3 cp
  • White Dragon Ale - 5 cp
  • Avalanche Stout - 7 cp
  • Mandrake Bitters - 1 sp
  • Sweet Pepper Wine - 3 sp
  • Troll Piss - 1 gp *
  • Sunflower Mead - 1 gp *
  • Celestial Fire - 5 gp *

  • * Not eligible for drink tickets.

  • Fish Biscuit - 2 cp
  • Cup of Roasted Locusts - 2 cp
  • Chicken Stick - 3 cp
  • Fruit Tart - 3 cp
  • Truffle Loaf - 3 gp
  • Pork Biscuit - 3 cp
  • Salad Roll - 4 cp
  • Green Chowder - 5 cp
  • Turkey Leg - 5 cp
  • Pint of Boar Stew - 7 cp
  •   Festival Specival, 1 sp
  • White Dragon Ale or Rain Wine
  • 3 Hardboiled Eggs
  • Baked Potato w/ Bacon, Cheese
  • Sweet Potato Roll
  • NPCs

    Keyde, half-orc (she/her)
    veteran caravan guard
    Braldeth Frostkith, dwarf (she/they)
    traveling minstrel
    Pelyas Amber, halfling (they/them)
    caravan medic

    Qibalar Fidenar, wood elf (he/him)
    caravan scout
    Bearchaser, goliath (she/her)
    caravan guard
    Emeir Bhushan, human (he/they)
    textiles merchant
    Jhortigunt, lizardfolk (they/them)
    professional hunter
    Gilynore Estrixo, half-elf (they/them)
    aimless tinkerer
    Tomorn Togglebell, gnome (he/him)
    traveling pickpocket handyman
    Notes for the DM on the Main Attraction

    It's finally your turn to enter the maze, and the half-elf sweeps a thick, light-proof curtain out of your way. You step inside, catching the barest flicker of sparks and glimmers before the curtain falls behind you, cutting off the sunlight. You hear the thin wooden door shut, sealing you in. All sense of the outside world vanishes completely.   A hallway of darkness and diamonds stretches out before you, endless and fractaling in every direction. As soon as you take a single step, a thousand reflections of you do the same. The walls, ceiling, and floor are all mirrors.   Within those layers of illusion and glass, you see other things. Barely-luminous ghostly forms, swimming through the mirrored expanse. Some of them notice you and swirl like a dust dervish closer, cloaked in shadows and mist, faceless but for an open mouth stretched in a silent howl.   'Just illusions,' you think, until you see a levitating spectre cross the hall in front of you, clearly separating from each pane of glass before entering the other. The hairs on the back of your neck rise.
      The players are invited to explore the maze of mirrors. Rather than show them the map, narrate each intersection as they come across it and let them choose freely which way to go. Continue to describe the appearance and disappearance of the ghostly spectres in the mirrors as they proceed; the phantoms do often try to startle or unsettle the characters as they go.  
    If the players are curious...

  • The entire area is considered to be in Dim lighting unless the characters provide a light source.
  • The floor mirrors cannot be harmed. The ceiling and wall mirrors can be scratched or cracked but not shattered, and any damage done will be slowly repaired as if by a Mending spell.
  • A DC 12 Arcana check or DC 14 Religion check will confirm that the blue ghosts are arcane in nature, not actually undead. Physically touching or striking the ghosts confirms that they have some tangible presence, but they do not fight back, only fleeing or vanishing if confronted.
  • A DC 15 Arcana check will reveal hints that this maze seems to be in its own world, apart from the festival just outside these thin wooden walls.
  • A DC 19 Arcana check will reveal that they're inside a highly-customized Magnificent Mansion and that the ghosts are, in fact, the Unseen Servants from that spell.
  •   This map was made possible by Donjon and can be found here.
    Haunted Maze of Mirrors
    You reach a place in the mirrored maze where the appearance of straight halls and right angles shatters into too many facets to count, and a dim blue glow suffuses what looks like the end of the hall. The color is not that different from the spectres swimming through the glass all around you, but there is definitely a magical aura to this, and it pulls you forward with curiosity. Surely you are meant to look more closely...
      The portals throughout the maze act instantaneously and painlessly, but once a character begins to traverse one, they cannot back out--they will be pulled through. After the characters cross their first portal, they uncover something unexpected...  
    You cross through the dazzling mirrorway into a large chamber, fully reflective on every surface--but there is something genuinely bone-chilling about this room. A small object lies in the middle of the chamber, and you recognize it to be a toy jewelry box, open and empty.   A frigid breath hisses across the back of your neck as something twisting and pale detaches from the now-inactive portal behind you. A hazy shape in a ragged cloak hovers before you; ice-blue eyes gleam from the hollow infinity of its hood as it tips its head back and wails. Every pane of glass in the room shudders in response, and you hear a rattle of ancient bones as other things begin stirring in the reflections.   Roll initiative!
      A note on balance: If the players are at least level three, they should face one Pale Shadow, plus one Mirror Skeleton per player. If the players are lower-level, they can face the Shadow and a single Skeleton. If the combat still seems to be terribly unbalanced, have a helpful NPC join them halfway through the fight, having found their own way through the maze shortly after the players... or add another Skeleton.  

    Pale Shadow

    Medium undead, chaotic evil
    Armor Class 12
    Hit Points 16 3d8+3
    Speed 40ft

    6 -2
    14 +2
    13 +1
    6 -2
    10 0
    8 -1

    Skills Stealth +4 ( +6 in dim light or darkness)
    Senses Darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 10
    Languages Common
    Challenge 1/2 (100 XP)


    Strength Drain: Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 2d6+2 necrotic damage, and the target's Strength score is reduced by 1d4 . The target falls Unconscious if this reduces its Strength to 0. Otherwise, the reduction lasts until the target finishes a short or Long Rest.


    Mirror Skeleton

    Medium undead, lawful evil
    Armor Class 13 (armor scraps)
    Hit Points 13 2d8+4
    Speed 30ft

    10 0
    14 +2
    15 +2
    6 -2
    8 -1
    5 -3

    Damage Vulnerabilities Bludgeoning
    Damage Immunities Poison
    Condition Immunities Exhaustion, Poisoned
    Senses darkvision 60ft., passive Perception 9
    Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)


    Shortsword: Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 1d6+2 piercing damage.
    Shortbow: Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one target. Hit: 5 1d6+2 piercing damage.

      After combat is finished, the players can choose to pick up the empty jewelry box, which is not magical but is heavy enough to be made of lead. When they're ready, the characters may use the portal again to reach , which will eventually lead them to the maze's exit.
    After a bit more thrill than you were expecting, you exit the haunted maze and step back into the cool, clean air and diluted sunlight. You scan the sparse crowd around you, but you don't see the halfling child who asked you to find her dropped jewelry box. You pause near the entrance to ask the half-elf managing the queue, but she simply shrugs. "I haven't seen any halfling children all day."
      The players can choose to take a Short Rest, get a drink or some festival food, or play more games. After their rest, or otherwise after a short time...  
    "You! You opened my jewelry box!" A familiar child's voice is shrill with anger, and you see the halfling girl from before stomping up to you, tiny hands curled into fists.   None of the people around you seem to react. In fact, they seem to be moving in slow motion, oblivious to the child and you. The edges of your vision blur into grey mist as a chill wind whips up around you and the little girl shrieks, "I'm gonna make you PAY!"
      Notes for the DM on the Boss Baby Battle

    For the duration of this combat, other festival-goers are considered immune to direct damage and should be treated as part of the setting. Nearby physical objects can still be interacted with as normal. Feel free to adjust the difficulty of this challenge according to the players' character levels and relative health after the maze encounter.  

    Li'l Poltergeist

    Small undead, chaotic evil
    Armor Class 12
    Hit Points 22 ( 5d8 )
    Speed Hover: 50ft

    1 -5
    14 +2
    11 0
    10 0
    8 -1
    14 +2

    Damage Resistances acid, cold, fire, lightning, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks.
    Damage Immunities necrotic, poison
    Condition Immunities charmed, exhaustion, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained, unconscious
    Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 9
    Challenge 2 (450 XP)

    Incorporeal Movement. The poltergeist can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. It takes 5 ( 1d10 ) force damage if it ends its turn inside an object.


    Life Drain. Melee Spell Attack: +4 ( 1d20+4 ) to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature.
    Hit: 5 ( 2d4 ) necrotic damage. The target must succeed on a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or its hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the damage taken. This reduction lasts until the creature finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0.   Telekinetic Thrust.
    The poltergeist targets a creature or unattended object within 30 feet of it. A creature must be Medium or smaller to be affected by this magic, and an object can weigh up to 150 pounds.
    If the target is a creature, the poltergeist makes a Charisma ( 1d20+4 ) check contested by the target's Strength check. If the poltergeist wins the contest, the poltergeist hurls the target up to 30 feet in any direction, including upward. If the target then comes into contact with a hard surface or heavy object, the target takes 1d6 damage per 10 feet moved.
    If the target is an object that isn't being worn or carried, the poltergeist hurls it up to 30 feet in any direction. The poltergeist can use the object as a ranged weapon, attacking one creature along the object's path ( 1d20+4 to hit) and dealing 5 ( 2d4 ) bludgeoning damage on a hit.

    As the pint-sized poltergeist fades into nothing more than a light breeze, the bustling festival scene around you returns to normal. People chat, joke, and curse their luck at the games, and only a few cock an eyebrow at your battle-haggard appearance.   Even if they don't realize that you just saved them from a malicious spirit, you feel in your chest the warmth--and exhaustion--of a job well-done. Time for a drink!

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