The Festival of Lanterns is a home-brewed one-off adventure inspired by Halloween folklore and traditions. You can find it below and also download a PDF here.
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The Festival of Lanterns is a Halloween-themed adventure for Dungeons and Dragons. It has several adventure paths to increase or reduce its length and Halloween-ness. Please note, it is not level specific, so NPCs will require finding stats appropriate for the situation and your player’s levels. Use Appendix B: Nonplayer Characters of the Monster Manual to find stats appropriate for these situations.
This scenario assumes that the characters are camping on the side of the road when the wandering spirits surround them (for more information on the spirits, see “A Time for Spirits” section). The spirits, sensing that some of their own are in danger, lead the adventurers to Puicim.
As you are preparing to camp for the night in the dying hours of daylight, the air grows warm. You notice down the road a flame dancing in the air, growing dimmer as you watch. Then you notice dozens of these flames floating on either side of the road, forming a lit path that leads south.
The flame spirits no not emit heat and cannot harm the players. They can be a nuisance, though, and will pester the characters until they follow the path they have created. Eventually, the flame-lit path turns off the main road and towards the town of Puimcin.
“The villagers say not many adventurers find themselves wandering into Puimcin this time of year. They won’t say it outright, but I’m sure it has something to do with that tree. Indeed, the settlement is old and dark in more ways than one. I suspect good reason that the main road veers around it on the eastern side.” – Sir Abathor, Journal Entry in the Puimcin Cathedral
The wisps of flame lead you to the village of Puimcin, which is small and fairly isolated. It was built by settlers of a by-gone era whose gothic style architecture widely remains to this day. The dark wood and metal buildings are in stark contrast to the orange and red leaves of the autumn trees.
Beyond the border of the village is the massive Samuin tree, lingering on the edge of the wilderness. Its imposing form is only off set by the large gothic cathedral near the center of town. Gargoyle statues hang from its tall ancient towers. However, this time of year the people of Puimcin seem to have a spring in their step as they decorate their modest village with colorful decorations and empty lanterns.
The otherwise peaceful scene is disrupted by a commotion in the middle of the street, as a woman is yelling at a sickly-looking child.
If the characters approach or call out to the woman, they learn the following information:
- The woman is named Viv and is the mother of Dero, who the child in front of her claims to be
- Viv is convinced that Dero is missing, and the child in front of her is something else
- Dero wandered off to catch spirits a few hours earlier and was the last time anyone saw him
The child is actually a Changling (see “A Missing Child” section for more info). A successful Intelligence (History) or (Arcana) check will reveal the Changling for it’s true nature — a construct created by fairy magic to replace Dero.
Upon being outed, the Changling attacks the nearest person. The Changling has all the stats of a small boy, except it is considered a Construct. If the Changling reaches 0 hit points or when the sun fully sets, whichever comes first, it returns to its original form as a mundane tree log.
Anyone proficient with History could determine that Dero is alive, but being held captive by fairies. Otherwise, if the characters ask for information they will be guided to the archives in the old cathedral, which has some literature on the fairies in this area (see the “Lost-Glory” section).
From here the adventure can take a few different turns. For a more Halloween-themed adventure, go to “The Lantern Maker” section. Otherwise, the players can gather enough information about the fairies from the archives to go straight to “The Rescue” section.
The Lantern Maker
Whether the characters decide to go after Dero or not, the Festival Commissioner approaches them regarding the missing spirits. He explains that if they are not returned by dusk the following day their flames will extinguish and they will become corrupted fiendish ghosts (see “Enslaved Spirits” section).
For help finding the boy and the spirits, the characters are told to visit a hermit named Jack whose cottage is not far from the Samuin tree. As the characters approach the Samuin tree, read the following:
The massive Samuin tree stands atop a small hill on the edge of the forest. As tall as a watch tower, the tree’s bark is nearly black, making the few pumpkins that remain on its branches seem bright despite their wilting. At the base of the tree, which is as wide a house, are more pumpkins that are old and rotting. The pumpkins themselves have faces carved into them, all of which seem tired and sorrowful.
As the characters continue, add the following:
As you come to the other side of the tree, you hear chopping noises coming from a cottage whose proportions seem distorted. It is half as much taller than other cottages of its size. Various kinds of squash and autumn crops surround the structure. To the side of the cottage is a tall, lengthy humanoid with abnormally long limbs and a pumpkin for a head. It’s wielding a large axe, and with a powerful swing it cracks a piece of wood apart before turning it’s glowing gaze towards you.
If the characters communicate or approach the creature, they learn the following things:
- His name is Jack of the Lanterns, and he created the lanterns used for the Festival
- He is a Shepard of the spirits, caring deeply for their well-being
- He knows the location of a fairy ring and is willing to lead the characters to them
Jack-of-the-Lantern gives the players his own Jack-Lantern which will allow them to carry multiple spirits at once and return them to Puimcin. However, he explains that he is unable to follow them into Lost-Glory, lest he become enslaved like his flame spirit cousins.
For a more Halloween-themed adventure, go to the section “Trick-or-Treating” before moving on to the rescue.
The characters may enter Lost-Glory through any of the fairy rings in the nearby forest. If the characters recruited Jack, he will lead them to the nearest one. Otherwise the characters can find them with a Nature or Arcana check, they should have advantage if they read the fairy literature from the cathedral archives thoroughly.
Ahead you see a small clearing with several dozen large mushrooms growing out of the dew covered grass. As you get closer, you notice the mushrooms are arranged in a circular pattern about fifteen feet wide.
Entering the Feywild is straightforward, as simple as standing in the fairy ring for 7 seconds. As the ring activates, read the following:
After standing in the ring for some time, you notice the mushrooms on the edges shed hundreds of small glowing spores that rise up in a slow swirl. The trees around you begin to age before your eyes, sprouting new branches and dense moss on their newly enlarged trunks.
The luminescent spores that were once swirling disperse in the air and float naturally through the air, which carries a distinct scent of pine and grass. Through the thick and dense woods you can see a glimpse of light.
The castle is fairly well lit, so the light can be seen from a good distance. As the characters approach the castle, read the following:
Beyond the borders of the fewild forest is a modest castle, once a strong hold for a long-lost war. It has clearly not been up-kept, as its stone structures are full of cracks and partially collapsed portions. It sits atop a hill with three steeply-sloping sides. The castle forms an irregular pentagon, with buildings along the north and north-west sides enclosing a courtyard.
The main entrance of the castle is to the north and is closed with a large gate but no guards. There is a postern entrance on the west side that is hidden, but can be found with enough investigation. As they approach, the characters will have to avoid being detected by the 2 guards patrolling the wall that surrounds the courtyard.
If the characters scout the castle, they may find all or some of the following information:
- There seems to be a celebration, as the courtyard has over two dozen fairies dressed in costumes and dancing to music
- There are servants that seem to be captives of the fairies wandering the ground with food and drink. They range of all ages and races of creatures
- The wall and courtyard are guarded, and each guard has a lantern with one of the missing spirits
- There is a postern entrance on the west side consisting of a locked door
The fairies are well dressed in fancy gowns and suits. They are moving constantly, dancing, or constantly in conversation with each other, yet they all look utterly exhausted and miserable, despite their will to continue their partying.
This is because they are under a spell that causes them to be in a perpetual state of celebration. The source of the spell is the Basilica of Dusk located in the Hall of Glory. The spell also affects the servants and keeps them compliant the orders, but unlike the fairies they require rest, so they have 12 hours shifts.
The guards are armed with long swords and crossbows and are lightly armored. In addition, each one has a crude looking iron lantern, and inside is a flame spirit whose light is clearly dying.
Note: If any of the characters are under the influence of “Garrithuin’s Dusk”, they are unable to resist the urge to celebrate with the rest of the guests until the effect wears off.
Courtyard (tree and postern)
The courtyard is the main area of the castle, with dozens of fairies dancing, servants running around, and several servants wandering around with food and drinks to serve. Because of how busy it is, it is fairly easy for the characters to move through the courtyard without drawing attention.
Most of the fairies are in a trance-like dance and will pay no attention to the characters unless directly engaged.
Along with the two guards patrolling the surrounding wall, there are two guards in the courtyard itself, moving about randomly with their lanterns.
The courtyard has entrances to most of the other chambers in the castle.
The cellars are living quarters for the servants. Half of the servants are currently off duty and are resting.
The servants have no belongings except clothing and bedrolls.
The storage areas contain food, beverages, furniture, and other luxury items.
If the characters search through the storage areas long enough they may find the following:
• 1d4 fairy trinkets whose value scale with the character’s levels
• 1d4 cure light wounds potions
• Grimoire of Garrithuin (see the “Grimoire of Garrithuin” section
• A number of costumes and wardrobes
The stables have been turned into resting areas for guests. There are several chairs and sofas, as well as tables with refreshments.
The stage holds the band, performing under the same spell as the guests. They have been playing so long that their instruments are out of tune.
The kitchen is full of servants, preparing food and drinks for the celebration. The head servant is a half-orc named Ront and seems very aware of what is going on. The characters may find the following information from him:
- He has been here serving for over 3 years
- Despite being aware of what is happening, the people here are under a spell being performed by the Castle’s ruler, a fairy named Queen Zeenith
- The spell only works on fairies and those that have been tricked into the fairies servitude, like themselves
- He has seen the missing boy Dero, and is probably located with the Queen in the Hall of Glory
The head servant will help anyway he can, but it is impossible for him to break his servitude to the fairies.
Garrithuin’s Keep is another area for guests to be entertained. There are around 8 guests in here with two guards protecting the entrance to the tower on the east side.
In addition to the two spirts that the guards have in their lanterns, there are also 3 flame spirits here being used for entertainment purposes. The spirits may be made to fight against crows, rats, or other vermin while the guests place wagers. They may be used as light sources for shadow puppets.
The tower beyond the keep leads to living quarters, one of which holds the dead body of King Garrithuin.
Hall of Glory
The Hall of Glory is a large lounging area that also serves as the Queen’s living quarters. It is by far the most decorated and taken care of area of the castle. The queen’s bed, chamber furniture, and throng are all on the far east side of the hall. The rest of the hall is used to entertain the guests.
At any given time there is at least a dozen guests in the hall along with 3 guards, the Queen, and Dero.
In the center of the hall is the Basilica of Dusk – a table of stone the size of a medium creature with various runes on it. The feeds off the Sambuin tree in the material plane and perpetually casts a spell that keeps the fairies and tricked servants under a spell of constant celebration. The basilica has 50 hit points and an AC of 14. If it is destroyed, the spell is broken (see “The After Party” section).
If characters search the Hall of Glory, they will find a locked chest. Zeenith has the key on her, and within the chest is her prized possessions (see the “Rewards” section for item descriptions):
- 1d4 Garrithuin’s Potions of Dusk
- Moundshroud Carapace
- 1 Changling Log
If any of the characters are under the effect of the “Garrithuin’s Dusk” the Queen may command them against their will, even to attack their fellow part members. They cannot be ordered to hurt themselves in this manner.
If approached, Queen Zeenith will recognize the characters as outsiders unless they can pass disguise checks. In talking with her, the characters will find out the following information:
- The Queen loves festivities, so much so, that she had her former King throw her a party destined to last forever
- Following the tragic death of her husband, the Queen was without an heir and adopted Dero after we wandered into her realm
- She finds the spirits lovely decorations to her party
- She is willing to return the spirits in exchange for the servitude of the towns people of Puimcin, one for each spirit, totaling 12
- She is willing to return Dero in exchange for the servitude of one of the party members
If the players persist without agreeing to one of her terms she will become hostile and order her guards to attack. The three guards in the hall will attack first, but others will show up. If one of the guards does down, Zeenith will command Dero to attack the party as well.
If the party manages to kill all the guards in the castle, the Queen will order the guests to begin attacking as well. The queen will not attack the party unless she is attacked.
If the Queen is reduced to 0 hp, the Basilica of Dusk will stop functioning (see “The After Party” section).
Returning Dero and the Spirits
If the characters return with Dero and the Spirits, they are praised by the towns people, whose Festival of Lanterns has just begun. As a reward, the townspeople will give each character a Salemstick as well as a Lantern of the Lost (see the “Rewards” section).
If the servants of Lost-Glory follow the characters back from the feywild, they will also be accepted as guests, taking temporary shelter in the old cathedral.
The characters will be given the nickname as the “Heroes of Lanterns.” For future festivals, the townspeople will create masks of the heroes’ faces and use them during the celebration.
A Time for Spirits
The Festival of Lanterns honors and celebrates the dead, the spirits, and citizens alike. We commemorate their sacrifices and celebrate their memories. We laugh in the face of death.
Every year around the end of summer, the Samuin Tree begins to wilt. Its pumpkins rot and fall, releasing their spores into the cool evening night. But the blooms on this tree are ghastly, for its pumpkin fruit are carved in the shape of the dead, and its spores are the burning flames of the spirits.
These spirit flames wander the land, lost without their pumpkins to call home. But in honor of the dead, the local townsfolk open their village to the spirits. It is then that the townsfolk use dying light of the spirits to celebrate with them during the Festival of Lanterns and commemorate their lives.
When the Festival is over, the spirits burn with a bright flame once more, and are returned to the Samuin tree, now in bloom with a new harvest of pumpkin lanterns, to keep lit all year round.
A Missing Child
While chasing a spirit into a nearby woods during the Festival of Lanterns setup, a child named Dero stumbled upon the fairy circle leading into Lost-Glory. The child was abducted by the fairies and replaced with a Changling.
The Changling is a tree log animated with magical energy and looks like Dero, but with a sickly appearance and prone to throwing tantrums. An Wisdom (Insight) or (Perception) check will reveal the child as abnormal or not a child at all. A successful Intelligence (History) or (Arcana) check will reveal the Changling for it’s true nature — a construct created by fairy magic to replace Dero.
Take the Fair Face of Woman, and Gently Suspending, With Butterflies, Flowers, and Jewels Attending, Thus Your Fairy is Made of Most Beautiful Things
The forest near Puimcin is full of strange and dark happenings. Most notably, it is the location of a fairy circle, a ring of mushrooms that outlines a latent portal into the Feywild.
In this particular area of the Feywild is Castle Lost-Glory, an ancient and crumbling fairy fort of a bygone era. A very peculiar and deprived sect of fairies still inhabit the ancient castle, unable to unstick themselves from the magic of the nearby Samuin tree. They rarely wander from the safety of their ruin and perpetually entertain themselves with lavish balls and dances.
But for anyone outsider unfortunate enough to find themselves in the realm of Lost-Glory, the fairy people do not hesitate to harass, coerce, and manipulate them. Often they will be used for entertainment or as pawns for mischievous schemes that the fairies cannot be bothered to do themselves. These captors are usually tricked into servitude and the conditions of release are nearly impossible.
The Fairies also used the child’s lantern to capture wandering nearby spirits and trap them in their castle in the Feywild. The spirits are being used for various forms of entertainment for the Fairies, who have the magic to manipulate them.
Despite the cruel act of enslaving the spirits of Puimcin’s ancestors, they face another threat. If the spirits are not returned to the Festival of Lanterns by the end of the following day, they will lose their integrity and become foul and abhorrent ghosts capable of injuring the Samuin tree and the towns people.
The spirits must be transported in lanterns and returned to the festival for their flames to be reignited.
The fairies will not consider allowing the adventurers into Lost-Glory without the proper ceremony. The fairies here are strange and extravagant in their attitudes and customs. Entering their domain means performing a ritual of mischief and delicacies. Something they call Trick-or-Treating.
To perform the ritual, the characters must dress in costumes and enter the fairy rings in the nearby forest. Here they must propose an ultimatum, asking Trick or Treat. Any character not in the fairy ring cannot perform the ritual, and will not gain any tributes.
Roll a d20, on 11-20 the fairies are impressed with the characters costumes and present them each with a bag of candy. On a 1-10 the fairies are unimpressed, and you roll a d6 to determine the mischievous trick that is played on the characters.
1-2: The characters are pelted with rotten eggs
3-4: The mushrooms surrounding the fairy ring release a strange gas. The character make a Wisdom save (determine the challenge based on their level) or characters become marked with Garrithuin’s Dusk
5-6: Explosive pumpkins appear in the fairy ring and explode. Characters within 20 feet of the fairy ring must make Dexterity saves (determine the challenge based on their level) or take fire damage. Whether they succeed or not, they must also make Wisdom saves, or become marked with Garrithuin’s Dusk
After 3 tricks and/or treats are performed the last fairy ring used will open to the characters to be used to enter the feywild. Continue to “The Rescue” section.
Grimoire of Garrithuin
The Grimoire of Garrithuin is a tome of former king of Castle Lost-Glory. Reading through it, the characters will find several pieces of lore about the castle:
• King Garrithuin was married to Queen Zeenith
• He recognized that this castle was in the exact same location as the Samuin tree but in different realms and that the magical energy on the tree leaked into the Feywild realm
• His fairy queen was jealous of the towns people of who held a festival every year that she could not attend. He created the Basilica of Dusk that could use the magical energy of the Samuin tree to compel anyone in the castle to partake in festivities
• This effect is known as “Garrithuin’s Dusk”
• After having the Basilica active for days, Garrithuin was to confront his wife, worried about holding their guests captive to their ever-lasting party. That was the last entry.
The After Party
If the Basilica of Dusk is destroyed or the Queen is killed, Garrithuin’s Dusk is removed from all characters, as well as the party guests and servants.
The guests will immediate seek to leave, having been trapped in there party state for an unknown number of years. The servants are all from the material plane, and will seek the character’s help in leaving the feywild.
Wondrous item, rare (requires attunement)
While wearing this cloak, you have advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks. In an area of dim light or darkness, you can grip the edges of the cloak with both hands and use it to fly at a speed of 40 feet. If you ever fail to grip the cloak’s edges while flying in this way, or if you are no longer in dim light or darkness, you lose this flying speed.
The cloak can stretch to fit two medium creatures or one large creature in addition to yourself. When you do so, creatures underneath your cloak also gain advantage of Dexterity (Stealth) checks.
While flying, you can carry up to two medium creatures or one large creature that grip your cloak when you take off. Creatures must make Strength (Athletics) saves to hold on.
Wondrous item, rare
Salemsticks acts as a broom of flying found on page 156 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. It is made of wood from the Samuin tree.
Lantern of the Lost
Wondrous item, rare
This lantern has 4 charges. Speak the command word and expend 1 charge to light this hooded lantern for 6 hours, shedding bright light in a 30-foot radius and dim light for an additional 30 feet. Good or neutral undead creatures become friendly towards the bearer of this lantern while they are in the lantern’s light.
While lit, you may expend a charge to turn all undead creatures within the lantern’s light into jack-o-lanterns. An undead creature within light range of the lantern must make a Constitution save (DC 13) or be turned into a jack-o-lantern for 1 minute.
Every dawn the lantern of lost regains 1d4 charges
Garrinthuin’s Potion of Dusk (Inhaled)
A creature subjected to this poison must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or burst into song and dance, and must repeat the saving throw at the start of each of its turns.
After two successful saves, the poison ends.
Wondrous Item, rare
The changling log has 1 charge. Spec the command word and expend 1 charge to polymorph the log into a Small or Medium humanoid you have seen. It has the same statistics, other than its size, are the same as a commoner (Monster Manual page 345).
The changling polymorph will behave and speak like the creature it is imitating, but will look sickly and act moody. The changling remains polymorphed until its hit points reach 0 or after 24 hours, whichever comes first. When that happens it reverts back to log form.
Every dawn roll 1d10. On a 10, the log regains 1 charge.
Each creature within 20 feet of an exploding pumpkin must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw, taking 2d6 fire damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Creatures that fail the Dexterity save must also make a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw, breaking into song and dance on a failed save for 1 minute.