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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    HalflingRangerGuy

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    Default Fey/Shire setting

    Hi everyone, I have an interesting concept that I'm looking for suggestions for resources I could turn to for either inspiration or world building.

    The players have asked to leave Faerun after a 4 year campaign, and asked me to build a world myself (pretty high compliment, but also scary). We were in Waterdeep for most of the campaign, so they want more pastoral.

    Here's the pitch I sent them:

    ---

    A world that’s quite limited in scope, it’s a series of connected valleys, linked by rivers, there are no mountain passes to leave and the area is magically shrouded from the outside world. The world was shrouded from the outside a hundred years ago, but nobody seems to know why.

    Low magic in terms of power, but lots of wild magic all around; fey creatures flit through the woods, with pixies, sprites and satyrs and dryads abounding. Even the trees occasionally speak to people. Though be wary, not all fey creatures mean well, and there are stories of hags and trickster fey that will kidnap wayward travellers.

    Within the valleys are dispersed communities, no real cities, and a mix of races. The valley floors are generally woodland, with wagon roads and river traffic making up the bulk of travel. As you go up the valley walls, there are communities of dwarves, goblins and others dug into the rocks. The entire chain of valleys probably only has about ten thousand humans, a few thousand elves and dwarves and so on. Few of the communities have much that resembles a standing army, when goblin raiding bands come down out of their mountain homes, farmers and townfolk gather the few weapons of the community and band together to defend their homes.

    The town has recently lost it’s scouting party, who went out to investigate a recent attack by goblins on a farmstead, and so they are canvassing for people to go and try to find out what happened. The town doesn’t have much in the way of fighters, and so they ask every day people to step up, offering what meager equipment can be mustered. Perhaps they ask someone that regularly goes into the woods on hunting trips and is known to be good with a bow, or a local blacksmith who has the muscles to be handy with a sword, or the brewer of beer that plays tavern sleight of hand games, or just the young singer that wants to go on an adventure!

    Everything is a bit more rustic, a bit more rough around the edges. Dangers are out there, but it’s also a place of stunning beauty, sometimes you can just sit by the riverside and watch sea nymphs dance and play.

    ---

    I'm pretty big on trawling through previous editions, independent stuff, DM's Guild etc, so any recommendations for works to look up for inspiration or mechanics would be great!

    As well, any thoughts on things I should keep an eye out for, or what I might want to consider would be fantastic!

    I have some interesting ideas for if the players venture outside of this area, but for now, I'd love suggestions for here!

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    I'd suggest deciding on what's rare or missing in this world. For example, spices and silks and other far eastern things? Are they present? Perhaps they can only be obtained by dealing with the Fey.

    What about things like salt? If you don't have an ocean it's much harder to get, but still pretty essential for life.
    Maybe the dwarves control the only major salt mine. The fortune of the dwarves isn't due to gold, platinum, or gems. Such things are rare due to the lack of mountains and good mines. Instead, the dwarves control the flow of salt enforcing a strict monopoly.

    Related to that, what are the politics of the world? Is there a central government of any kind? Is trade strictly barter or does someone mint coins? Are communities ruled by nobles? Democracies of some kind? Council of elders? Is there a common religion? Do the races share the same deities? Are there any ongoing feuds?

    Also I just noticed you specified the shrouding only happened a hundred years ago. That's not that long particularly for non humans. Do people still tell stories about the outside world? Do adolescents go searching for the way out?

    Those are just some quick thoughts that I hope prompt some ideas on your part, good luck!

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Ninja_Prawn's Avatar

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    Hey there!

    The first thing that jumps out at me about this setting is that your monster selection is going to be limited. Serious antagonists are either going to be goblins or fey (unless you want to focus on conflict within the valley communities, which doesn't fit the theme of a pastoral idyll), and goblins are never really serious. So... Who are the players going to fight?

    You've specified that there are no passes through the mountains... Are there also no 5th level spellcasters? Because you don't need a pass of you can fly. Perhaps the shroud has some kind of antimagic effect... I guess it would have to to block things like teleportation, scrying and sending. And is there any reason you couldn't tunnel under the mountains?

    I was thinking it might be interesting if the only way out of the valleys is to get taken to the Feywild (from whence you can get to other places). That would mean that there would need to be an agreement among the fey that that's always a one-way trip. So maybe that is enforced by the same people who set up the shroud...?

    To build on Cardew's point about things that may be missing, there are probably a lot of services that aren't called for very much (bookbinding/selling comes to mind), and there may only be one shop in the whole region that caters to them. It would make sense, I think, if all of these 'only X in the valley' shops are clustered together. That way it's easy for people to do their monthly/annual trip into 'the town' to get those specialist products & services.

    Also, do these people raise cattle? Cows need large expanses of grassland, and it sounds like you don't have that. Hill-farming communities are usually more reliant on sheep and goats, in real life. Without large numbers of cows, things like leather might be rare...

    Finally, if you'll allow a bit of shameless promotion, you might like this fey-themed book that I worked on. It's got monsters, spells, magic items and various other things to add a bit more sparkle to your enchanted forests.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    HalflingRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    Thomas Cardew
    - Thanks! Those are all really good points, we don't play much of an economics game, but I'll be putting some thought into those points, and helps lead me towards more flavour descriptions!

    Ninja_Prawn

    The limited baddies is definitely something I'm considering.

    In terms of Fly spell etc, I'm intending to build towards an adventure to find out why this smaller world is magically locked from the rest of the world, with some ideas for how to do that. I do really like that feywild idea!

    Good points about having limited things available, and how people would be able to get to them, definitely reinforces my idea of really mapping out the whole of the area before play.

    Really like the idea of having wandering herds of goats and sheep, as well as hide vs leather availability!

    Thanks for the shameless plug! I may well pick it up! I was really looking for some source material that might help build some inspiration and that looks similar to what I was looking for!

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    sandmote's Avatar

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    The description sounds like a demiplane, much like Barovia. Swapping out the vampire theme for a fey one, basically.

    For additional monsters to fight, I have taken to having yokai default to being fey, partially to round out the number of fey for the party to deal with. This might help fill out what the party has to fight. Also check out the Fomorians in the monster manual, which are supposed to have been cursed by the fairies in an ancient war (based on the giants of Irish mythology). The swordwings from 4e could also fit (although they might need quite a bit of finessing to work).

    For the map, I'd maybe have a small inland sea the rivers flow to, basically to explain why you can't try sailing away. But yeah, the products most expected from a major city are likely to either be rare or nonexistent. As an alternative to NP's suggestion, you could maybe have small local communities that specialize in a particular product and trade caravans taking products from one town to the next. Paper records from one town, a second specializing in shoes, and so on. It would give an automatic way to distinguish whichever settlements to party travels through.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    HalflingRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    Oh wow, I feel really blind for not thinking of where the rivers would, for lack of a more impactful word, go.

    Definitely going to consider that for when I build out the map, thanks!

    Fomori are a great suggestion to add! I'll definitely check out yokai and swordwings.

    I really like the idea of really drawing down the available luxuries. The Waterdeep campaign was super "yeah, you can definitely get that" since it's the centre of civilization. The players loved that campaign, but want thematically different, so this will be much more rustic, as per request.

    I'm thinking since all towns are quite small, there will be the small town that happens to have a high-ish level wizard, or the town where there just happens to be a temple with a cleric that sells healing potions, etc. Very disaggregated, my background is in human geography, so I'll just go with a non modernized economic model :P

    I love the suggestion of having each town known for having someone good at something. "You enter the town of byford, it's known as a place to ford the river, but also where there's a pretty good cobbler these days."

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Ninja_Prawn's Avatar

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    Never underestimate the value of a good cobbler! You should make your players suffer exhaustion if they march anywhere in 6-month-old shoes.
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  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    A few of the things that come to mind.

    1) Rivers go places....if you have a lake big enough to run your water cycle this is a pretty big area. Which conflicts with the few thousand of each major race thing. If it is smaller then it needs a drain (potentially deep under the surface) and for clouds to come over the mountains and bring rain/snow.

    2) okay even without passes to make things easy people can still climb mountains. Just look at Ozzy for example. A stubborn player will quite likely want to know what he will hit at this "edge of the world" issue. Especially if there starts being hints that the adventure chains is leading to figure out why. What does it look like? What happens when you keep pushing into it? Given a couple of levels and the ability to light things on fire some players will want to poke this mysterious barrier unless they have a good idea why not to. Endless mountains wrap around to other side of world? Mists like Ravenloft? Giant Ice Cliff? Increasing cold damage every round past special line on the ground?

    3) What is the weather like? This will really effect what people can grow and thus eat, weave, dye with etc. Something modeled on Spain would be quite different than Scotland or tropical Africa.

    4) with a low population spread out like you said you'll have different social order. Basically as communities get larger they rely more on social position and rules (like politeness for whatever that means locally) because you need ways to run interactions with someone who is basically a stranger. In socieities without large groupings like that we see far less social stratification. There is a whole field of sociology devoted to this that a quick scan of may be useful.

    5) look at the many farming implements that just get modified and stuck on a stick to become a polearm....forks, axes get a spike and called a helberd, do it with a metal hammer and we call it a lucerne hammer, use a large chef knife and we get a glaive....these modifications were common in militias that were raised quickly (sure there were purpose made ones too-and they worked better and are generally more focused on by historians for mostly good reasons). Militias sounds like what you are describing in terms of dealing with the goblins.

    6) It may be worth trying to differentiate the valleys, even just socially. Because otherwise travel won't feel like it does anything. Even just changing maples to birches and what the local taverns serve will do a bit.

    7) focus on things that make daily life go round. Carrot festivals may well be important events. As could be a monthly "market" aka swap meet. And similarly what do people do when they are done for the day? Sounds like food is pretty easy most of the time...so entertainment? who and how?

    8) DnD style magic is really good at giving answers. Especially when you can talk to the gods. And so how the local temples deal with their isolation, what their position is on what it is etc will be important.

    9) What do goblins eat? I mean when they are not steeling your neighbor or his sheep? because while that might be feast for them there are not enough humans to keep them fed. They can't JUST be parasites if they are going to keep their own numbers up? Maybe they are summoned from somewhere? If not what do they do when not raiding?

    10) Cattle do fine in most type of forests. Aurouch were basically native to them. Herding is nowhere near as efficient but was pretty common that way. Also see Swiss cattle systems.

    11) Figure out resource needs. Metals? Iron, Tin? etc. But also things like fuel to smelt those things, who makes your tools to do any other job? Milling grains and who can build a mill? But also skills - who CAN build a mill? why can they?

    12) You kinda imply that being cut off is new? what was life like before? How did society/societies react? Do long lived races like Elves or Dwarves have members that remember those days? What is remembered and by who could be very important to how people view "getting back" to that system.

    13) It seems like you are going Shire like...which kinda implies rural idealism....which implies food is not too hard to grow enough of. Dealing with the constant threat of starvation may well crimp the adventuring style. So I get that...but if food is reasonably plentiful then I would expect the population to grow quite quickly...Now a lot of this is going to be mitigated by how long they have been isolated, how many people there were to start, and how big the place is. But still something to consider, especially for the long lived races.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Orc in the Playground
     
    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    I love the idea of this setting! I think that making goblins more "fey-like" would be a good way to make them both more interesting enemies and more a part of the setting. Drawing on stories of goblins in different mythologies and folklores, your goblins could be capable of shapeshifting into certain animals, disguising themselves as stones, or even turn invisible. There could even be a "goblin-king" that is some kind of corrupted fey! I ran a campaign with a lot of fey in it once, and I used a redcap (a goblin-like fey that dyes its hat in blood) that could teleport between shadows to lay the hurt on a low-level party. They spent a whole session trying to research and figure out what it was and how to stop it, leading to a very memorable encounter.
    Currently worldbuilding Last Haven: a setting formed on a titan's corpse! If you have a moment, I would love your feedback!

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    EvilClericGuy

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    Definitely go for the demiplane vibe. Have your barriers be mists. Be surprised if the players bring up Ravenloft. Let them run themselves in circles with coincidental similarities that you have no real intention of turning against them.

    Look at the old Basic/2E Thunder Rift setting for a stand alone valley.

    There's also the old Badger's Hollow setting here you could mine for ideas:
    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=195479

    You've got a fascinating setting here. Have fun with it!

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Halfling in the Playground
     
    ClericGuy

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    Ooooh, this sounds really cool! I like the idyllic setting, it reminds me of Llorowyn a little bit. Going with that connection, I like the notion of making goblins more feylike.

    About the rivers: they could just flow outwards, and then straight up in the mountains, rivers into the sky, and evaporate into mist. It doesnt have to be viable according to the laws of nature if it adheres to the laws of magic and narrative. Imo, this would be a cool visual and an explanation of why you can't sail away.

    On the issue of being able to fly over mountains, have you considered banning flight mechanics, as Kaveman26 does? It would help with maintaining your grip on the group and maintaining a semblance of boundries, without resorting to endless rings of mountains and such... Idk, maybe it doesn't fit your group or playstyle, it just popped into my head (having read several Kaveman logs before the great server blight)

    i'm looking forward to hearing more about this setting!

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    I remember the Ravenloft realms. One was a prison for a trio of hags. This could be it. In that scenario goblins all worked for the hags.
    Finding a way out just leads to another Ravenloft Realm. To bring this land back to their world the hags must be killed and hopfully no other creature of evil is bad enough to keep this prison in the mists of RavenLoft.

    a Lot of the realms in Ravenloft were beautiful by day...it was at night when things got dicey.
    The Vistani were gypsies who had the ability to freely travel the various realms. some of them are evil...some are neutral...none are good.

    Let the player revel in the idylic splendor of their little world and slowly let the true horror dawn upon them...

    Ravenloft draws in visitors from many worlds. You could have a fine coach drawn by white horses arrive in town quite lost. They are very Elizabethan (unlike the locals). Another visitor could be a well know NPC from the Waterdeep campaign, also lost with no idea how he got there.

    As for monsters you have dark Fey. the Wild hunt. Use the stats for Worgs and describe a white stag that is carnivorous...
    Simply dress up regular monsters in a fey disguise. Finding silver in an area beset by a werewolf would be an adventure in itself.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    You could include more evil, and twisted classic fae themed enemies. some of the old stuff is weird and creepy
    example: the Sluagh, rejected spirits who steal souls and are dangerous and destructive, but they can enter through west facing windows. Window thing aside, you can use them as dark fae spirits that steal peoples souls.
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    Another example: the Fachan. they were horrifying to behold, and can stop someone's hear by looking at them. They have one of everything: one eye, leg, arm, etc.
    No comment.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Troll in the Playground
     
    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    If you want goblins to have a really fey aspect, you could make them 'reproduce' by parthenogensis.

    In one game I'm in, goblins don't reproduce sexually or asexually. Instead, goblins just spontaneously form in a place already inhabited by goblins when the conditions are right. Those conditions being a relatively dark and isolated area (e.g., nobody sees a goblin form, even other goblins, but they form) where there is enough space, food, and water for the current goblin tribe to support more goblins.

    The new goblin is an adult and has basic skills (goblin language, knows how to do basic goblin things). They are also loyal to the tribe and can recognize their own tribe. Each tribe of goblins, in a sense, has a 'hive mentality'. They aren't telepathically linked nor can they sense where other tribe members are, but they instantly recognize members of their tribe as one of their own (a gob, in their tongue). Anything else, even goblins of other tribes, are nob. Goblins instinctively hate and, if able, try to kill nob.

    If a goblin tribe is too big and there is a shortage of food, the tribe may split. Instead of one hive, there's now two, and they instantly start fighting until one wins.

    Thus, the goblin population can stay small if the other races keep it under control, or explode if they get more territory and food.

    In the setting I'm in, goblins are a result of a wild magic or some ancient curse, but just being manifestations of fey energy or spirits materializing also makes sense.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Lizardfolk

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    On parthogenic goblins, if they appear wherever people aren't it makes it impossible to fix permanently. Any wilderness slowly fills with them until they pour out, so Rangers literally exist to clean the woods.
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  16. - Top - End - #16
    Orc in the Playground
     
    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    I like the idea of fey being so integral to this setting! I am curious about how living in a valley full of fey magic and creatures would affect the local villages? How much would the townsfolk know about the fey? I'm picturing something somewhat-similar to the Witcher, where the general population lives in fear of hags, darklings, and fey goblins, and has to call in "specialists" like the party to come deal with them? Or, alternatively, are people used to the fey, interacting with fairies regularly and making deals with the dryads of nearby woods? There's a lot of potential story hooks there!
    Last edited by Sam113097; 2020-03-23 at 02:00 PM.
    Currently worldbuilding Last Haven: a setting formed on a titan's corpse! If you have a moment, I would love your feedback!

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    Love the setting idea. Limited access to resources, and small populations could make for some very different experiences compared to your previous campaign.

    So the settlements are in a series of valleys right? How are these arranged? This could really influence movement between towns:

    In a line, must pass through ‘valley C‘ to arrive at ‘valley b’ etc. this would encourage most populations to be towards the center for better trade unless resources at the ends (village A and village Z, or whatever) are rare enough to pull populations that way. Mines at the start of the river, lake at the end.

    Circular could be interesting, but what would hinder people cutting a path through the mountains in the center separating the valleys?

    Interconnected network of valleys, this would make moving between villages easier I’d think, at least quicker access to the whole region.

    As mentioned by others, I think It would be good if each valley had its own specialty, due to climate/geography/resources/location etc. some valleys could be cold, other warm, wet/dry.

    If the river runs through all valleys, I could see it being important for trade.

    The whole setting could be a socio-economic experiment managed by a group of high level wizards to test the influence of interaction with fey entities on rural populations.

  18. - Top - End - #18
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    HalflingRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    Neat feedback! Thanks!

    The game has been running for five sessions now, and the players have really liked the pastoral elements, how it's much lower powered than a regular world, but still feels fantastical because of the fey elements.

    The layout of the valleys has given me a lot of thought thanks to this thread, and I'm still working on a map of the region.

  19. - Top - End - #19
    Orc in the Playground
     
    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    Quote Originally Posted by Patmeister View Post
    Neat feedback! Thanks!

    The game has been running for five sessions now, and the players have really liked the pastoral elements, how it's much lower powered than a regular world, but still feels fantastical because of the fey elements.

    The layout of the valleys has given me a lot of thought thanks to this thread, and I'm still working on a map of the region.
    Glad to hear it! I love the concept, and I'm glad your players have as well. What are the primary enemies you've been throwing them up against in this setting?
    Currently worldbuilding Last Haven: a setting formed on a titan's corpse! If you have a moment, I would love your feedback!

  20. - Top - End - #20
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    HalflingRangerGuy

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    It's been mostly goblins to be honest.

    I had a good Redcap encounter, and another boggle based encounter.

    I've added a Nilbog that is at war with the goblin camp that they've been investigating too, to add to the oddity of it all. I also make sure to add bits of flavour to the air, as they left town a group of pseudo-dragons were dancing and playing in the water of the river they were crossing over. Oh, and a gelatinous cube!

    They saw an owlbear and chose not to engage during a random encounter where they saw it coming.

    Definitely adding a lot of levity here and there.

  21. - Top - End - #21
    Troll in the Playground
     
    Yakk's Avatar

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    Default Re: Fey/Shire setting

    A few things.

    (a) Introduce some "instability" in the world the players can interact with. The world should be stable, and something the PCs interact with changes everything.

    I'd label these things Chapters.

    Chapter 1: Meet the new world, and finding a place.

    Chapter 2: The world changes, and the consequences.

    Chapter 3: What is behind the curtain.

    One advantage to creating a world is that you can build it to break. The world and the campaign arc are one and the same thing.

    (b) The idea of people living in valleys connected by rivers; read Riverworld.

    Note that natural rivers split as you go upstream, and join as you go downstream. If you don't want a linear world, then there is going to be multiple sources and one sink for the water.

    Exploring the sink -- the end of the river -- becomes interesting. There should be some reason why they haven't explored it before? Ideally this barrier should be surmountable in chapter 2.

    If the world is linear, then there will be both a sink and a source. Exploring either is interesting, and can have different consequences.

    (c) Break the world up into pieces. What if there are valleys that are not easy to navigate from one to the other? Then "opening up a new valley" becomes a phase change.

    This can be instigated by either the PCs, or by NPCs. Both are interesting plots.

    In the NPC instigation, during Chapter 1 evidence of other people from "elsewhere" shows up. This may or may not connect to the main Chapter 1 plot. Chapter 2 then starts with it being obvious; there is an invasion happening or about to happen.

    In the PC instigation plot, after Chapter 1 an NPC provides some new technique to open up new valleys. The PCs get to do this, explore a new area, and instigate change. This can lead up to finding the start/end of the river.

    Chapter 3 can then be about what happens when you find the start/end of the river -- what is really going on, and how it changes the entire perspective on the world. Maybe the world is a huge life-battery for a Fey queen, who instigates and consumes emotions of the beings in the river valley for her own ends in the "real fey". To escape and defeat her, you'll have to save the people of the valleys, then defeat her in the feywild.

    Or maybe it is a nature preserve some god created to shelter some beings from an apocalypse in the real world. And the climax battle is against the force that destroyed reality, who is now coming for the valleys.

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