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Dungeons & Dragons 3.5: Escape from the Forest of Lanterns

Escape from the Forest of Lanterns

Be careful what you read! You often find magic tomes that have an effect on those that read them, but here's a truly evil effect... being dumped into a bizarre adventure based on children's fairy stories. A bit trite even if you like them, pure torture if you don't.

The DM is provided with a synopsis of the adventure, a list of encounters, scaling information, and some plot hooks to get the party trapped... er, I mean, involved in the adventure. As the adventure involves a visit to a demiplane, you can run it from anywhere although there is a suggestion for a start-point if you are using the default world of Aereth. This demiplane consists of a massive dark forest and there's plenty of information to help you set the scene. It's not just the strange location, weird things happen to the party too - but there's full coverage on how to handle that as well. Turning them into children, perhaps... but SIX years of age sounds a bit young.

The adventure proper begins when the party examines what turns out to be an animated book of children's stories. It proves to be very chatty and friendly, and eventually asks if it may tell a story to the whole party when they are together - perhaps of an evening seated around a campfire or otherwise taking their ease. And so it tells the tale of The Warty Witch and the Forest of Lanterns, about two young children who got lost in said forest and defeated the Witch to escape. The book then suggests that it might be fun to see it all firsthand...

Needless to say, the Forest of Lanterns to which the party are transported (whether or not they think it might be 'fun') is darker and nastier than the storybook version. There are plenty of wandering monsters and set-piece encounters to keep the party 'entertained' and even those who will talk rather than fight are unfriendly.Indeed there's a nasty undercurrent through the entire adventure, with assorted creatures attempting to toy with the party, messing them about for their own amusement. Somewhere in the middle is the Witch's cottage (made out of gingerbread of course), which has two floors, a tower and a dungeon underneath.

The adventure should end with the defeat of the Witch and the discovery of a way to get home, but there are other options... even the dire one of continuing in similar vein with a series of such adventures - a couple are outlined and suggestions of other modules you could adapt are provided. Be sure your group actually like this sort of thing. It's well put together but the whole concept is one that they may find repellant. It's not for me... although I may be inspired by the magical book to create one that can transport a party to places I'd actually enjoy visiting!

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Reviewed: 25 October 2018