The Eldritch Flowering of Prydain

EF3.0 Battle of the Trees
What lurks beyond the treeline?

There is a battle waging across Britain. The towns and fields seem quiet, as they have been for a century during the reign of the Wulfings of Mercia and Powys. Common folk go about their tasks unimpeded by day. However, each evening, as the shadows grow long, there begins on the outskirts of every wood and copse the sound of clashing arms, war drums, and shouts. Occasionally, shepherds, farmers, and town guardsmen report having seen the shimmering forms of ghostly warriors, yet no attack ever seems to manifest. However, warriors are disappearing. Young, old, Briton and English alike, no community seems safe from the abductions. Could it be that the Waelcyrge have come after years of Christian peace to claim the bodies and souls of men who, but for the lack of battle, might have already fallen in bloody sacrifice to Woden? Such are the rumors of the eldest of the elders, who remember when Britain was engulfed in war and ruled by Pagan gods.

The High King of Britain has begun to deputize constables to serve as night watches throughout the land. You are among these constables, charged with patrolling the field boundaries and forest roads at night in search of these lost warriors. You do not need to defeat whatever forces may be lurking among the trees, merely bring back credible reports of what nighttime activities might be taking place, and whence they arise.

Orphans of Fairy

Orphans of Fairy is the first adventure in the Eldritch Flowering of Prydain Campaign, taking place in the second half of the seventh century of the Christian Era in and around an abbey in the mostly-Pagan British Midlands. Every year, dozens of children are abandoned at the gates and doors of monasteries around Christendom for various reasons, usually because their mothers are too poor to raise them. Most monasteries make it a practice to adopt these unwanteds, teaching them the ways of their order in exchange for years of work as field hands, tradesmen, and servants. Since they know no life outside the monastery’s walls and regimented cloistered existence, monastery orphans spend their formative years concerned only with the quest for spiritual redemption. Many go on to attain high ecclesiastic office.

There are some, however, whose origins were more mysterious than average. Often the children of unmarried women considered well past childbearing age, or of strange, beautiful elfin women who show up a year and a day following the pagan summer festivals with a child wrapped in rich, otherworldly silks, claiming that it is the son of some local swain, these are the Orphans of Fairy. They often do not cry or laugh, but are strangely silent most of the time, lending themselves to being taken in by contemplative communities. At first, they are usually raised like all the others, with needs being met by unmarried mothers who have found shelter at the abbey and are able to serve as wet nurses. After a few years, however, these unusual children prove to be a challenge for their guardians. They do not grow as quickly as the other children, and have strange, sometimes even animal like characteristics: oddly-colored hair and eyes, elfin ears, and slow development. Many remain speechless until well into their teens. However, once they do begin to talk, they are often eloquent, and have highly sought-after singing voices.

At Hwītmynster Abbey in the town of Oswestry in the Kingdom of Mercia, a newly-appointed Archbishop of Canterbury has called for a synod to take place at the Feast of the Ascention in the Year of Our Lord 665. To honor the new Archbishop, the Abbot of Hwītmynster has called for the formation of a children’s choir, drawing on the large population of orphans from the borderlands between the Welsh and English-speaking lands. The Orphans of Fairy are among those whom the monastery’s Prior has rounded up and brought like animals to the abbey in large cages on the backs of horse carts, some of whom make up members of the party. Other party members are lay brothers of the abbey and visitors, members of large parties of Athelings and their followers who will be celebrating the wedding of the King, who donated men and land for the expansion of Hwītmynster Abbey after his coronation, in the nave of the mynster on the day before the synod is to begin.

However, all is not well at this festive occasion. Some of the children have been disappearing. It seems, in fact, that it is the Orphans of Fairy who are failing to show up for choir rehearsal. Who will be next? And is there some foul play afoot?

EF1.2: Choir Rehearsal
Eve of the Royal Wedding

With Talorc as their guide, the party arrives at Hwītmynster Abbey Saturday, May 3rd, although Talorc himself stays behind among some old ruins north of Oswestry called Caer Ogyrfan. The Synod of Hwītmynster will take place at the arrival of the Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishop Agilbert of Dorchester. Agilbert is a Frankish-speaking advocate of Roman authority who has recently begun to eject Celtic Abbots and Bishops from their positions and replace them with hand-picked clergy of his choosing.

This is the day before the royal wedding between King Wulfhere of Mercia and his bride, Princess Devona of the Pictish Kingdom of Waerteras. The following Thursday will be the Feast of the Ascension, and the Synod is scheduled to begin anytime between Tuesday and Thursday.

Fleshing out the map
...using an experimental system based on Appendix A of the DMG

I’ve drawn the major components of Hwītmynster Abbey and have used creating the rest of Oswestry AD 664 as an opportunity to playtest some new Appendix Q rules (my term for addenda to the AD&D canon). I am still wrestling with the choice of an underlying rules set for this campaign. I love AD&D, but I want to use race=class from B/X-BECMI. By the end of it, I probably will end up with some custom house rules which may be incorporated into the Earthly Realms system I’m developing. However, race=class can work in AD&D if one runs nonhumans as described in the Monster Manual rather than in the Players’ Handbook, and swipes the advancement, to hit, and saving throw tables from B/X.

So about the map, and the town generator I’m trying out. The map is four sheets of regular 8 1/2 × 11 inch paper glued onto a larger sheet, about half of which is taken up by the extensive Hwītmynster Abbey. I began generating the town from the main doors of the cathedral-like Mynster, and in general treat passages as streets, chambers as open areas, rooms as buildings, stairs as slopes, and doors as gates (unless entering buildings). I increased the scale somewhat. I added new categories of crimes and events to replace monsters and traps. I’ll post the entire Random Town Generator here as well as on the Dragonsfoot fand Obsidian Portal fora once I work out the bugs. I’ll post the map here, but with only pieces available to players at a time. I wish there was a way to have a complete map be unlockable area by area.

Recent Events

The Kingdom of Mercia is recovering from a period of extreme upheaval after the death of the popular King Penda and the brief reign of his eldest son Peada. Penda, through battle and diplomacy, earned the title of Bretwalda, High King of the British and Anglian Kingdoms. His son, however, could not fill the power vacuum left by his father, and ended up ceding the northern part of his own Kingdom of Mercia to his father-in-law, King Oswiu of Northumbria. King Peada soon found himself fighting on the losing side of a rebellion of his Ealdormen, one of whom is rumored to have been behind his assassination. The rebellion soon spread throughout the thirty kingdoms of the Ænglisc, led by a collection of clerical Witena and lay Ealdormen. Wulfhere, Penda’s second son and current heir, though being acknowledged the rightful King of Mercia and all its client subkingdoms by the Celtic Rite, is far from being universally recognized. If he can win the support of his people by throwing a large wedding celebration, as well as by brokering a deal between the Celtic and Roman Churches, recently estranged from each other at the Synod of Whitby, perhaps he will live to become a great Bretwalda like his father. If his plans do not succeed, the anarchy that has seized the land will surely continue, and the English may well be driven back into the sea as promised by their Briton enemies to the west, south, and north.

EF1: Orphans of Fairy
An adventure for 2-6 Earthly Realms characters, levels 0-4

You are trapped.

You have been brought against your will to an abbey in a small border village between the Anglian Kingdom of Mercia and the Prydannic Kingdom of Powys. Some of you may be soldiers captured during the Anglian Uprising that restored Wulfhere, son of Penda, to the Mercian throne and pushed the Anglian frontier west to the Mountains of Cumbria. Others may be halflings who have been sheltering in abbeys across the land, hidden among human children. Thieves, magic-users, elves or dwarves, if present, are spies who were attempting to gain information about the proceedings at the abbey without being seen, but were caught and gaoled to await the Abbot’s justice. Clerics are members of the abbey who were placed under the Abbot’s care as children, but who yearn to see the outside world now that they have come of age.


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