Dangers of the King’s Forest: Tenday Mold

1. Tenday Mold is a little bit of everything: mold, rot and fungus.

2. Should your character ask about it, he or she is likely to be informed that the dead god Moander bequeathed Tenday Mold unto Cormyr as a parting gift; something meant to trouble Cormyreans for all of eternity thanks to their efforts to see that deity driven out of the Forest Kingdom once and for all.

3. Others will tell your character that elves made Tenday Mold, and that the legends of elves ruling the region before there ever was a Cormyr are true. Tenday Mold was just one of several methods the elves used to slow the advance of humans into their woodlands, and that the elves “forgot” to take it with them when they left once and for all.

4. Of more practical concern to your character will of course be the question of just what Tenday Mold does. Accounts vary of course, because the chances of encountering someone who’s been infected and survived are small—DM’s choice, as suits the needs of the campaign—but most NPCs will tell you some version of the following: If you are caught in a burst of Tenday Mold and it gets on your skin in a warm, moist spot—such as under your armor, in your armpits or your crotch—or if you inhale a cloud of it, there is a good chance it’ll take hold and grow, much to your detriment. (DM’s choice on chance of being infected, and on a saving throw, if any, to resist the infection.)

5. Once it starts growing on flesh, Tenday Mold is nigh impossible to kill without killing or at least seriously harming the infected (i.e., it can be burned off, provided your character does not mind being set fire too; just as the infected flesh can be carved off). Druids know how to remove it safely, as do forest denizens like Dryads and Pixies—who are just as vulnerable to Tenday Mold as humans, elves, orcs, or any other humanoid creature—but you’d better be good at convincing such denizens to help you, or be quick to offer a favor in return for aid (read: accepting the equivalent of a [i]geas[/i] placed on your character as the healing takes place).

6. Tenday Mold does not only grow on skin. It bores into the body, devouring muscle and solidifying over joints, making a victim immobile within 1d4+2 days after infection. Once immobile, your character will come to smell so bad that anything living (i.e. that has to breathe) will be driven off. Thus can the mold can grow and kill its victims without interruption.

7. Magical healing in the form of one-spell-heals-damage clerical magic does not cure Tenday Mold; hit point loss is of course remedied, but the mold keeps right on growing—even if a character is returned to full hit points. The right combination of healing-type spells must be cast (DM’s choice as to what spells work, and in what order if multiple spells are required, plus any required Healing Skill check or not). Characters at full HP suffering from Tenday Mold remain in excruciating pain.

8. In 8+1d4 days your character’s body will be fully covered in mold and spores, your character will draw his or her last breath and die (assuming starvation hasn’t killed your PC already). Your PC’s corpse will be frozen in place, and will look like a statue covered from head to foot in thick, powdery mold. Your character is now the latest in a long line of green, gray and blue mold covered humanoid-looking forest statues to be found in the deeper, darker parts of the King’s Forest.

9. (For what it’s worth, the stench fades away after your character dies.)

10. A thick, calcified crust will have formed underneath the mold—this what maintains the statue shape. Mounds of puckered spores will have formed in the center of the various colored patches to be found on your PCs corpse. The spores are very sensitive to movement and to the presence of flesh and blood creatures; your PCs corpse will burst in a 20’ radius if anything the size of a Halfling or larger comes within the area of effect, be it humanoid or forest creature or fantastical beast.

11. Druids and rangers that sight your PC’s corpse will mark the area as dangerous and to be avoided. A goodly act among druids is to cast spells causing bushes or vines to grow swiftly around or over your dead character’s form.

12. Rangers trained in the King’s Forest know that Honeysuckle eagerly takes root on Tenday Mold. If it’s planted near your PC’s corpse, the vines will encase it in about a month. This living shell consumes the mold and spores, and in any case dampens the eruption of spores (which seem still able to sense living creatures that wander by), reducing the explosive radius to 5’. Such growth produces flowers of varying colors, and the leaves are tinged with hues of blood red and deepest blue.

13. If the spores on your PC’s corpse explode, little is left behind. The shell in the shape of your PC’s body will be gone. All their flesh and bone is of course gone too. Anything your PC carried or wore that was incapable of rotting away will have been shot out in several random directions at the same time. However, if your PC’s corpse was covered in vines, all that didn’t rot can be found in a pile on the ground, covered in brittle bits of white that look like eggshells.

14. Wise adventurers know to look for human-high mounds of vines, and to carefully prod at them from a safe distance in the hopes of getting at whatever valuables might be found to lie inside.

15. Unscrupulous adventurers will lure or lead the unwary (such as other novice adventurers or the desperate) into the presence of Tenday Mold shells in order to set them off. After the explosion, the bad guys will attack and slay the unfortunates, then make off with whatever is revealed beneath the shells, as well as the property of the newly slain, as Tenday Mold settles quickly to the ground and then dies if it doesn’t find a new host to grow on.

16. Adventurers on the run from superior forces (or from one of the handful of Hill Giant-sized Owlbears that have reappeared within the last century in the King’s Forest) have been known to make for parts of the King’s Forest where Tenday Mold can be found, in the hopes of infecting their foes and creating a diversion by which they can escape.

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Let’s Start With A Hole In Some Dirt

1. So…something akin to a halfling’s den set into a low hill, but this is more of a long oval of dirt with a hole in one side that’s small enough to require a human to crawl in on hands and knees to get inside.

2. It’s well within the King’s Forest, off a path that was once a road wide enough to allow coach and horse traffic of the sort that includes important nobles and Crownsworn officials.

3. The path is little more than a foot trail now, and that too is fast disappearing. As is the mansion-keep that sat at one end of the path, the keep’s walls fallen down and grown over. The state of the mansion? That’s up to you, Dear Reader.

4. Outlaws like to camp in the area, because adventurers and the agents of nobles and debt collectors continue to seek out the mansion-keep. Easy pickings for fresh clothes, news, weapons and bedmates.

5. It used to be that explorers would come regularly, the adventurers to search for lost riches and the debt collectors to find anything worth hauling off and selling to pay for debts owed (even worked stone blocks can be resold). Nowadays the outlaws have to supply the rumors, which is fine because supply runs are necessary from time to time and such is a good chance to hear the latest news while spreading rumors (the better to determine if the Crown has finally decided to move en masse on the ruin and clear out anyone using it as a place to spring ambushes on the unwary).

6. The hole in the ground is set into one of two mounds of earth that flanked the road, a squat tower sprouting out of each mound. These marked the border of the estate in the woods that is now an abandoned ruin.

7. The left-hand tower collapsed in on itself, the fallen stone filling up the space within the mound. Some unknown force dashed aside the exposed tower over the right-hand mound, and bushes and ground cover overgrew it. The space inside the mound partially collapsed, but adventurers cleared out the splintered wood that was all that was left of the door that led into the mound of dirt (set into the estate side of the mound) and found nothing of value in the oval cavity beyond the ruined door.

8. The outlaw camp is small, maybe 10-15 persons depending on their health and their willingness to take in new additions. They like to keep moving through the woods, the better to keep from being caught.

9. A pair of rangers have tracked the outlaws, but haven’t moved against them. The outlaws are good at blundering into forest dangers and lingering traps in the ruins they explore (the ruin near the hole in the mound is one of a handful in the area–each suffered the same troubles that drove off or slew the occupants of the buildings that once stood proud in the woods).

10. In the wintertime, the hole in the mound stays warm and dry. There is a lingering magic there that once kept the place comfortable. The rangers use the space to rest in (it’s easier for one to rest while the other is on watch) and are careful to keep it hidden. The outlaws do not know about it.

Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?488643-5th-Edition-and-Cormyr-Flexing-My-Idea-Muscle-and-Thinking-Out-Loud/page7#ixzz4efkR7Dtx

Encounter Idea Inspired by the Artwork of Ryan Alexander Lee

Firstly, check out this wonderful piece of art by Ryan Alexander Lee:

http://ryan-alexander-lee.deviantart.com/art/Until-I-Say-350311505

The first thing I saw in Lee’s pieces was the axe. Secondly, I saw the skull.

But I didn’t see her face until the fourth or fifth time I viewed the artwork.

And here. We. Go.

1. In the first piece, it appears the dead guy was looking to chop some wood. Looks like he didn’t get to use any of the wood; rather, the wood is using him. For an encounter where the players stumble upon the scene in Lee’s piece, I’d describe the corpse wrapped in tree roots, and then show the artwork to the first PC to approach within 5′ of the corpse.

2. Dryads come to mind. Maybe the dead guy (or gal — you never know) was a defender of the woods. Somebody the Dryads liked. Maybe one of them even loved the fallen warrior.

3. Perhaps a lonely nymph longing for affection is finding it in the fallen warrior, for lack of anything living to touch.

4. Maybe the fallen warrior is the first of many dead warriors to be found in the area, and whatever felled them all lurks in the trees and the roots, which are all one living entity located deep within one of Cormyr’s three largest woodlands (the King’s Forest, the Hullack Forest, or the Hermit’s Wood). The plant thing elected to destroy the small force assembled to take whatever it is the entity guards–something rare; something of value to wizards or priests or merchants.

5. Perhaps the fallen warrior lay on a slope. If the PCs move up the rise, they come upon a sun-filled, oval shaped depression in the earth, about a half-mile to a mile long, where the trees are fewer in number than the densely-packed-with-trees forest that extends for miles in every direction. The undergrowth is sparse among the trees in the depression.

6. Sunlight finds its way to the ground easily into the depression, which is filled with yellowed bones picked clean and encased in armor. There are no helmets visible. Gauntleted hands still clutch weapons and shields, the former all appearing to point upwards and the later resting more or less on edge, while tree roots run like a nest of snakes over the armor, at once embracing it and imprisoning it.

7. All of this is visible from the edge of the rise, just past the first body the PCs encountered. The view does not suggest a graveyard—or perhaps it’s not the view but the feeling/vibe the oval clearing gives off. Death happened here in abundance, but that which grows has spent time taking in the dead and their accoutrements while time passed without concern for the dead.

8. Any PC who lingers at the perimeter in lieu of walking down the other side of the slope into the clearing begins to feel as though he or she is being watched. It’s a nagging feeling, and one that isn’t shared by any PC that elects to walk into the clearing to get a better view of the bodies or peer at the trees whose roots have become like manacles and chains imprisoning the dead. In fact, anyone walking in the clearing hears nothing at all, except for their footsteps and any other noise they make (remember, [URL=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXVGIb3bzHI”%5D%5BB%5Dutter silence is pretty creepy[/B][/URL]).

9. There is no great oak or other dominating-over-all tree in the clearing—should any PC think to ask—but there is a mound of war helms dead center. It’s not hard to spot, if a PC walks a ways into the clearing. The helms are not the same. Some are simple utilitarian things. Others are decorated with antlers or wings, and sport long snouts, spikes and grim visages.

10. As one moves closer to the mound of helms, it becomes harder and harder to hear anything. Within ten feet of the mound, a PC can’t even hear themselves if they shout at the top of their lungs. The air feels denser, too. Not hot or humid, just thick, as though some intangible resistance is present. It’s like being in a dream where you’re trying to run, but you can barely move your feet.

11. Should a PC persist and ultimately touch any of the Helms, some interesting (and deadly) things happen.
11a. First, white glowing ovals appear within each helm, like pupil-less eyes, while everywhere in the clearing the hands of the corpses holding onto weapons and shields all let go. The sound of all the weapons and shields falling a short distance to the ground is heard by all—even the PC(s) at the mound of helms—and the sound is deafening.
12a. Second, the oppressing weight in the air around the helms vanishes, and the helms fly off in all directions to hover over the corpses, while the weapons and shields rise up in the air at about chest-height, one set of weapon/shield to each glowing-eyed helm.

12. The helms and weapons attack, seeking to swarm PCs, to give no quarter, and to slay the PCs quickly and efficiently. Whatever the force is that animates the helms and weapons produces no body to attack. A helm, weapon or shield can be attacked readily enough, though mundane attacks are unlikely to destroy them quickly enough to keep a PC from being chopped to pieces and slain.

13. PCs who escape out of the clearing are not pursued if they can make it over the edge and down past the slope on the other side. That initial corpse depicted in Lee’s artwork effectively marks the boundary of danger.

14. PCs who remain in the clearing can attack the corpses (remember, it’s stumbling-over-roots terrain near any corpse, so adjust movement speeds accordingly). Doing so is the same as attacking an unconscious foe, so unless a PC is being swarmed by flying swords, it’s a no-miss attack. Dashing the brittle skulls (all the bones are brittle), ripping away the armor, and hacking at the roots imprisoning the armor will do damage to the animated helm/sword/shield form linked to that corpse. Note: DM’s who enjoy memorable visualizations can tell PCs that whey they hack at the roots, the roots sever as easily as hacking at exposed flesh, and the roots bleed bright red blood.

15. All of this kind of goes against the caressing, sort of cuddling nature of the artwork, so perhaps there is a Dryad or Nymph lurking near that corpse, who appears and begs the PCs not to destroy her beloved. She could explain the story behind the clearing, and in so doing give more adventure hooks to the PCs, or advice that can help them if they’re already on a quest and can’t deviate, all in return for the PCs agreeing to go back into the clearing and recover the one helm that the Dryad promises them didn’t animate, and return it to her once-mortal beloved.

Ideas For New Arcane and Divine Spells in 5E

What follows are some ideas for arcane spells. Some of these could be divine spells as well.

1. “Spell Mime” – This spell creates an illusionary humanoid figure. That figure mimes the somatic gestures, as well as the movements required to handle material components, for the last spell that was cast in the area of the Spell Mime’s effect. The figure continues to mime in this manner until the duration of the Spell Mime ends. While this spell is in effect, it grants advantage to any arcane or divine caster that attempts to identify the spell the being mimed. This spell does not produce sounds related to verbal components. The figure is faceless.

2. “Spell Scribe” – This spell creates a temporary illusionary arcane script that shows the formula for casting the last spell that was cast in the area of the Spell Scribe. The script appears on any flat surface the caster designates, but this surface cannot be smaller than an area proscribed by the width and length of the caster’s hand, nor can the surface area be longer or wider than the caster’s height. If the last spell cast was memorized from a spellbook then the script created by the Spell Scribe duplicates the arcane writings of the spellcaster that cast that spell. If the last spell cast was not memorized from a spellbook then the script appears in the form and style of the caster’s own arcane writing style.

3. “Spell Chime” – This spell temporarily links the caster to an object that can be manipulated to produce sound (a lute or a warhorn, for example, or something like a large church bell). For the duration of this spell, any time the caster successfully casts a spell, the object linked to the caster sounds off. This spell automatically fails if the caster is attuned to three magic items. It’s duration automatically ends if the caster becomes attuned to three magic items.

4. “Spell Echo” – This spell recreates any and all sounds produced by the last spell to have been cast in the area of the Spell Echo’s effect prior to the Spell Echo being cast. Secondary sounds are not produced. A secondary sound would be any sound produced as a result of the spell, such as a grunt of pain from being slashed by a Blade Barrier, or the sound of a statue toppling over after it was struck by a Bigby’s Hand spell. Note: The sounds of the blades slashing a creature, as well as the sound of the conjured hand striking the statue, would be produced by the Spell Echo. This spell lasts as long as the spell whose sounds the Spell Echo is recreating.

5. “Spell Informant” – Once cast, this spell lingers in an area designated by the caster. Any time a spell is cast in that area, the Spell Informant sends a magical message that appears in the mind of the spellcaster. This message gives the name of the being that just the spell. Upon delivery of this message the Spell Informant ends. A caster may not have more Spell Informants active than his or her highest spellcasting level. If the being that is being identified is known by multiple names, the Spell Informant uses the last name the being was called by.

6. “Blood Coins” – After you cast this spell, you may select a number of coins no greater than five times your caster level. If any of the coins you select have been touched by someone other than you who has either committed a murder or assisted in the commission of a murder within the last 24 hours, then those coins will begin to ooze blood. The coins bleed for a number of rounds equal to your caster level, or until you spend a bonus action to end the spell.

7. “Forge Echo” – This spell may be cast on any object that was made by an ironsmith. The spell reproduces the sound of the smith’s hammer as it was being used to forge the object the spell was cast upon. If multiple smiths worked an object at the same time, all their hammers sound off.

8. “Similarity” – This spell causes an item of clothing worn by a creature within the spell’s range to appear identical to another item of clothing of the same kind worn by a different creature within the spell’s range. For example, the dust and mud covered boots of a passing mercenary may be made to temporarily resemble the clean, ornate boots of a nobleman riding in the other direction. At higher levels, the caster may select multiple of the same kind of clothing item to appear identical. For example, the travel robes of a party of adventurers may be temporarily made to resemble the robes of one of the king’s guards manning the castle gate that the PCs wish to get past. This spell ends after one hour, or when any of the clothing items involved in the spell become separated by a distance longer than the range of the spell.

9. “Coin Curse” – The caster may select one object no larger than a sack or a small chest when this spell is cast. If any coins within the object are removed by any creature other than the caster, the coins deliver an electric shock to the creature. This causes 1 HP of damage. At higher levels, this spell may be cast on larger objects. If cast as a 9th level spell, this spell may target the dwelling of the caster (such as a tower, castle, dungeon abode, or the lair of a dragon).

10. “Forge Sacrifice” – This spell requires at least one metallic object produced from metal smelted in a forge. If the object is placed within a cold or otherwise inert forge, that forge becomes instantly hot enough to melt ore and extract metal. This effect lasts for one hour per object sacrificed. Only 24 objects may be sacrificed in this manner per casting.

Read more: http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?488643-5th-Edition-and-Cormyr-Flexing-My-Idea-Muscle-and-Thinking-Out-Loud/page7#ixzz4eYA7o0TV

Of Kelemvor and the Raven Queen

1. By the year 1491 DR (approximately the current game year in the Forgotten Realms), one may find in certain temples of Kelemvor that the deity is being depicted not strictly as male, but also female. Such places include the Vault of Restful Dead (in Cormyr), and in various lesser temples as may be found throughout the Heartlands as far west as the Sword Coast.

2. Some worshipers living near these temples have purchased special coins of oversized make (about as large as a human palm) that depict Kelemvor in profile on one side and a woman on the other. Just what boon these coins are meant to grant remains a topic of debate throughout the Heartlands.

3. A rare few of the coins—those possessed by priests of the aforementioned temples—show a panther on one side and a raven on the other.

4. These changes have not gone unnoticed; scholarly debate among sages versed in divine lore rides the merchant roads in the form of letters, broadsheets and competing books of sagely lore and thought on the topic of Kelemvor’s “changing face.”

5. Those same roads carry itinerant priests of the Lord of the Dead accompanied by armed and armored Doomguides, the former carrying messages in their minds that are meant only for the most holy ears of the high priests of certain Kelemvorite temples, where debate over the behavior of the priests of lesser temples has risen to the level of concern, but not quite alarm.

6. The contents of these messages vary; some decry the changed face of Kelemvor and call for any priest espousing such ideas to be rooted out and banished.

9. Others council patience, and claim that if these change be a true one then Kelemvor will reveal the truth in due time.

10. If it not be a true change, then the deity will reveal this as well, and then work can begin to cleanse the faith of the influence of whatever interloper power is at work.

11. At least two sages—one in Priapurl, the other in Baldur’s Gate—claim knowledge of a deity of death with a reach that spans many worlds, but whose influence is not yet great in Faerûn, and both sages refer to this deity in their writings as the Raven Queen.

12. This last fact is the only point of agreement between the two sages: the first is Haphstil of Priapurl, who catalogs and publishes (often without consent) the most sacred of divine rights, chants, prayers and other activities of the worshipers of several deities; the second is called Alcalebra and she is as much seer as sage, and she may be found in the disrespectfully named (in Alcelabra’s opinion) community known as Little Calimshan, within the city of Baldur’s Gate.

13. Haphstil claims that Kelemvor is simply growing as a deity, and becoming more accessible by doing much the same as other, older deities have always done in the Realms by manifesting as man or woman as the situation requires–the resemblance to the Raven Queen being only superficial in nature.

14. Alcelabra claims that Kelemvor is still young by divine standards, that he yearns for companionship, and that he has found it in the Raven Queen, herself a diety Alcelabra is certain is already taking advantage of the situation, and who will someday subsume Kelemvor entirely.

“Dragon Dreams Of The Forest Kingdom”

1. Catchy title, don’t you think?

2. There are more dragons sleeping in lairs in the Thunder Peaks and Stormhorns than you might imagine–far more.

3. If all of these dragons were to wake up and go gallivanting through Cormyr, raiding and eating and causing mayhem as they went, they’d all of them be breaking treaties and Draconic Law.

4. Draconic Law bound the mighty black dragon Thauglorimorgorus, when that creature lost a Feint of Honor to the elf Iliphar, known widely in Cormanthyr to the northeast as the Lord of Scepters. And so rule over the Forest Country passed from dragon to elf in the Year of Good Hunting, -205 DR.

5. 231 years later, the Fair Folk of the Forest Country bound themselves by treaty to the human settlers that lived along the southern coast of Iliphar’s realm. And so rule over the Forest Country passed from elves to humans in the Year of Opening Doors, 26 DR.

6. Humans have ruled what is now called the Forest Kingdom for fourteen and a half centuries. But the dragons who were once vassals of the mighty Purple Dragon–as Thauglorimorgorus was known–remember when all the forests and mountains were called the Lands of the Purple Dragon. Likewise the dragons that came to the mountains after elves and men took over, the former quietly settling in and waiting.

7. The madness that overwhelms all dragons in the Realms bathed Cormyr–and much of the Heartlands–in destruction. No treaty or Law of Dragons could prevent what occurred in 1018 DR, Year of the Dracorage. If the rumors were true then Old Thaug himself was pulled out of his slumber only to die an unworthy death at the hands of humans of the Forest Kingdom.

8. Yet the dragons that survived saw an opportunity to raid the lairs of their less fortunate kin. Some did this immediately, while others saw first to the defense of their own lairs and the slaying of rivals sure to come knocking at the door, before searching out that rival’s lair to take all that could be found. But the lair of Thauglor was never found. Or at least, it was never found in the decade or so following the Rage of Dragons.

9. As the dragons settled back into their lairs, they wondered, “Whither Thauglor?” If [I]the[/I] Purple Dragon was truly slain, did it not follow that a grand hoard lay unguarded? The rumblings that ran scattershot through the Thunder Peaks and Stormhorns over the next decade were not earthquakes, but draconic shivers of delight at the thought of so much treasure waiting to be claimed.

10. Some dragons shivered in fear, however, knowing as they did that Thauglor was no mere trickster, but a cunning dragon that had defeated all challengers once century after the next. To hunt for Thauglor’s lair was to court disaster–but even they could not resist.

11. The search for Thauglor’s lair continues in modern-day Cormyr. Bold adventurers oft proclaim they are searching for it, and these are almost certainly not agents of any of the sleeping dragons that lair in the mountains that surround Cormyr on three sides.

12. Humans and members of the other lesser races who do search for the Lair Most Coveted do not realize they are doing the work of dragons. The few that do often end up dead. A rare few are given to understand just who they are working for; for some this is a thrill, for others a terror. Regardless, the work continues.

13. To be thrall to a dragon is to carry a mark. Usually a tattoo or other subtle mark not easily visible, such as the image of a dragon’s head no wider than a fingertip placed behind one’s ear that is the color of the dragon to whom the thrall is bound.

14. Such individuals are pieces on a grand chessboard that all the sleeping dragons can see in their mind’s eye while they sleep.

15. The minds of sleeping dragons ride the ebb and flow of magic. Simply casting a spell can lure to one’s self the Sleeping Eye of a dragon. The caster won’t see the eye–it’s something far more subtle than the invisible sensor from a [I]Scrying[/I] spell–nor will the dragon speak or try to communicate through it. The dragon is after all sleeping, and the eye only watches.

16. Sages have speculated over how sleeping dragons can seem unaffected by centuries of slumber; how they move about as though the changing world never passed them by. The answer is simple: The mind of a dragon remembers what it sees in its sleep. Older dragons are capable of seeing many events at the same time. The eldest can ever so subtly influence these events–if they relate to magic.

17. And with all that out of the way, I think the next best question to ask is: What do the sleeping dragons that lair around modern-day (1491 DR) Cormyr see? Who do they focus on? And what do they truly dream about when the focus of their sleeping minds turns away from the world to ponder ideas or tactics, and imagine outcomes? What does Cormyr under their dreaming draconic thumb look like? And when they are awake, what moves will they make to see their vision turned into a reality?

18. This is fodder for a DMs Guild sourcebook.

Birds of the King’s Forest: The Dwarfbeard Finch

Knowing something of the more mundane creatures and fauna to be found in places like the King’s Forest, in Cormyr, is good for Dungeon Masters running campaigns where the Player Characters are low level.

Likewise for generating encounters that help to break the tedium of rest, quest, fight, rest.

Let’s start with one of the more colorful–and covetous–birds to be found in Cormyr’s largest woodland

********

1. Dwarfbeard Finches are so named for the thick, colorful feathers that adorn the face and breast of male finches.

2. Dwarfbeard males are of one solid color, usually black or deep blue. Females tend to colors ranging from rock-grey to dun-brown. From beak to tail, a typical male finch is about as long as a handkeg is tall. Females are about half again as large as males.

3. The “beards” of male finches appear during mating season. Males inflate their cheeks and breast, causing the feathers over their faces to extend outward like mustachios and curl downward into the feathers of their breast, the later flowing downward past the finch’s clawed toes. Beard feathers change color during mating season: vibrant reds, wholesome browns, straw-colored blonds and loamy blacks. A rare few are the color of snow.

4. Dwarfbeards have not been sighted anywhere else in Cormyr since the forested lands north of Suzail were cleared away and separated into what would one day become the King’s Forest.

5. Males build nests on sturdy branches, over the point where another strong branch grows out from the first. The nests are round and one side is built up into a sort of half-dome roof over the nest.

6. A female finch will land on one of the two branches that run out from the junction that the nest is built on. The male finch will come out from the nest and scamper, elaborately preen, dance and wiggle up and down the other branch, doing his best to coax the female towards the nest.

7. This process almost always fails if the male hasn’t placed a shiny object in the heart of the nest. If the object is suitable, the female will enter the nest, and then the male must sing for as long as it takes for the female to settle in. If she does then the birds will mate, and become a mated pair for life.

8. During the nesting season, male Dwarfbeards are notorious for landing in groups on forest travelers wearing items of clothing and jewelry that shine or flash in the sunlight. Likewise on anyone carrying gleaming magic items or richly adorned armor and weapons (a longsword with a ruby set in its pommel, for example, or armor burnished to a bright sheen). The birds will peck and poke with their long beaks, seeking to dislodge an item and to carry it off before another finch gets it. More than once this has given away the position of an adventurer ignorant of forest lore.

9. Forest goblins and hunters will sometimes lay out glimmering objects in the center of box traps, in the hopes of catching a small meal. These same individuals will climb trees and raid Dwarfbeard nests in the hopes of finding a bauble that can be sold for coin, despite the risk of falling to their deaths or of losing an eye or finger to the sharp beaks of males finches.

10. The lore of Dwarfbeards becomes unreliable as one travels further from the forest. In Suzail, innumerable tales have been printed in chapbooks that claim Dwarfbeards have a knack for finding lost treasures. In Arabel, it’s common to claim that a small lost item that can’t be found was stolen by a Dwarfbeard (Dwarfbeards are pure forest dwellers, mind, and the few that have been trained as pets or coerced by magic into stealing never stay long with their masters). In villages throughout Cormyr, children are told that male Dwarfbeards continue to embroider their nests with jewels, necklaces, rings and coins. Likewise that the easiest way to send an adventurer up a tree is to tell them a mated pair of Dwarfbeards lives in it.

11. One tale told throughout Cormyr claims a stubborn finch made off with the sapphire-adorned crown of an early king of Cormyr (though just who the King was varies from one telling to the next), and that the crown was used as a frame to build a nest around while the largest sapphire was plucked from its setting by the finch and placed in the center of its nest to attract a mate.