It’s the season of fey thanks to Wild Beyond the Witchlight. We at StartPlaying have many silly Dungeon Masters who are eager to weave a Feywild tale with you, and maybe pull a few tricks along the way. The only regrettable thing about Witchlight is that it ends so quickly, only taking players to level 8. So to help you keep the fun going, we looked up some neat folklore and fairy tales from different cultures. Feel free to drop these into your Witchlight campaign as you like, or use them to start a brand new quest!
The Harp of Dagda
This Irish tale serves as perfect inspiration for bards. Dagda was a god who watched over the Tuatha dé Danann people. He was said to have a magical harp made of wood, gold, and rare jewels. The harp would only respond to Dagda’s touch, and those who heard its song experienced bliss like none other.
The history gets violent here, which means you might need to make some adjustments to fit into the more roleplay-heavy Witchlight campaign. An enemy tribe called the Fomorians raided the great hall of the Tuatha dé Danann and stole Dagda’s harp from where it was displayed. They hung the harp in their own hall as a sign of victory and promptly held a feast. Dagda was not happy, to say the least, and walked right into the Fomorians’ hall. He called to his harp, which flew to him like Thor’s hammer. There he played three chords that struck down the entire Fomorian force.
The story goes that Dagda played one chord that sent every Fomorian into a weeping fit, another into hysterical laughter, and a final one that put everyone to sleep. Clever DMs probably already see how Dagda’s harp would make a wonderful magic item. It has the sleep and hideous laughter spells built in, and it’s pretty easy to homebrew or rework the weeping into something like fear. Dagda could be an archfey instead of a god. As to how a lucky bard gets the harp… well, that’s for your table to figure out.
Charms to Ward Off Fairies
Sometimes a player character will want to avoid interacting with the fey altogether. Which is an odd choice when you’re playing a Feywild-based campaign, but also totally valid. Winding up with a twisted deal can be just as bad as getting into deadly combat. If the DM wants to be nice, they can offer up some of these means to protect oneself from the fey.
Certain legends say that wearing one’s clothing inside out and carrying four-leaf clovers are ways to ward off minor fey. Several cultures believed that bread was an effective deterrent or offering for fey. Bread was seen as a symbol of life and humanity’s dominance over the forces of nature, which many fey represent. Bells have a debated role in driving away fairies. Many tales say church bells kept fairies away, while others say seelie fey put bells on their horses. Perhaps bells only work to stave off the darker unseelie fey. True names are another powerful force against the fey. Some believed that a fairy’s name could be invoked to summon it and force it to do a favor.
Wild Beyond the Witchlight has some creative hag variants, but there can always be more! Cegua is a folklore spread in several Central American countries. She is said to appear in the dead of night, usually near a water source. She appears to be gorgeous from behind, using her silhouette to tempt men off the beaten path. Once they’ve strayed far into a nearby forest or canyon, the Cegua will reveal her horse face and bite the man to mark him. This leaves the victim in a state of terror even after he wanders back to town.
La Cegua could act as a more direct threat as the party travels the Feywild. If players want more combat in Witchlight, you could adjust a hag’s stats to create a Cegua with more physical power. Some versions of the legend say that she actually has the hind legs of a horse, giving her great speed to chase down victims. Other tales say Cegua work in groups, specifically targeting adulterous men that stay out late. A Cegua could be a great way to mess with that bard or rogue who loves going off alone for shenanigans…
The Dokkaebi is often called the Korean version of a goblin. They fit well into most D&D campaigns and the Feywild in particular, as they are often depicted as pranksters or obstacles that must be appeased to continue on one’s journey. You could substitute Dokkaebi for your average goblins to get a more unique aesthetic. They do have special lore, however, and offer a fun interaction for players who like devising creative solutions.
Dokkaebi have been known to challenge travelers to wrestling matches. They are more skilled than their appearance suggests, and some legends say they can only be beaten if attacked from their right side. Dokkaebi are also said to wear magic clothing such as a hat that grants the wearer invisibility, which could make for a pleasing reward for adventures that defeat or trick them.
The Tortoise and the Birds
This African story tells of a time when food was scarce and the animals of the land were starving. A generous group of people living in the clouds invited all who could fly to join them and eat. This was great for birds and no one else, leaving a hungry tortoise to beg his feathered friends for help. They hatched a plan to each take a feather from themselves and attach it to the tortoise so that he would gain the power of flight. It worked because folktale, but the tortoise got greedy. He ate most of the food. The birds, angered by how the tortoise repaid their kindness, took back their feathers and stranded the land animal in the clouds.
The story ends with the tortoise jumping from the clouds and injuring his shell forever, explaining why tortoise shells are broken into sections. But perhaps your adventuring party can weave a different yarn. Does the wizard use featherfall to float the tortoise down safely? Does the barbarian throw him to the clouds to skip the whole bird thing altogether? And what does the tortoise reward them with? Does he betray their goodwill as well? In the Feywild, all of these folktales are yours to tell as you (and the dice) see fit.