About five generations ago, Fletcher’s Perch did not yet exist. A young couple, Anna and Bart Fletcher, a human couple, were traveling with their half-elf nephew, Andrew, looking for a new place to live. On their travels, they stopped by a forest and met a strange man dressed in bright colors and playing a gemshorn while sitting on a large stone near the forest. He called himself the Minstrel and encouraged them to call him the same. All afternoon and evening he talked with the trio and then, after Andrew had fallen asleep, he offered the couple a deal. If they gave him their nephew, he would give them a safe home. People from all over would come to find rest nearby and a small town with farms would flourish by the woods. Five generations (about 125 years) could rely on this safety. No monsters would trouble them. No disasters would harm them. All it would cost is their nephew.
Anna and Bart, perhaps drunk on the stranger’s wine and music or perhaps as sober as could be, agreed. They awoke the next morning in a house. Andrew and the stranger were both long gone. The Fletcher’s named their homestead Fletcher’s Perch. Over time it grew into a bustling town with productive farms, a good school, and frequent travelers bringing in new items and ideas. The Fletchers never told anyone about the deal they made and the child they lost, not even their own children.
Nearly five generations have passed and the stranger has come again to collect a new tribute to take to his home. This time he is approaching the children directly when the adults aren’t watching. The children call him the Dewdrop Man because one evening he pulled the dew from the grass and shaped it into animals and flowers. He is testing the children to find the one he likes best.
Deep in the woods is the portal to his home. It looks like a circle of polished stones, but the stones do not move if pushed, they do not lift if picked up. The ground amidst them seems common, but those who approach the circle hear a wind that isn’t blowing and odd music from no discernible source.
What’s Going On?
The Dewdrop Man [stats] is an Archfey who enjoys snatching children to decorate his halls in the Feywild. However, he draws a line against being a common thief. Instead, he makes deals. He wants the child gifted to him. He enjoys watching the family’s guilt as they enjoy his gifts. He also enjoys watching the child’s dismay as they realize no one is ever coming to take them home. While he is currently testing the children, his plan is to approach the parents of his favored child and offer them the deal. He prefers a gift over a willing child in his wake.
The Dewdrop Man’s influence over Fletcher’s Perch and its surrounding farmland has the following effects:
- Traders are drawn to the town. Traveling merchants like to stop by Fletcher’s Perch on their voyages.
- Most monsters have no interest in the town and surrounding farmland. This has no effect on nonmagical beasts. The forest is still dangerous. The fringes of the town and farmland are less protected as the Dewdrop Man’s power fades from those spaces. The more of an intelligence the creature has, the less affected they are by this effect.
- Long-term hungers or mental effects fade. If the players have a sword perpetually thirsty for blood, the blade is conspicuously quiet in Fletcher’s Perch. Werewolves retain their minds during the full moon. Ravenous monsters have their hungers sated. Temporary effects (e.g., confusion, rage) still work. The idea is to give these creatures a choice.
- The Dewdrop Man’s protections do not change people’s natures or their hearts and minds. People can be evil in Fletcher’s Perch.
The players probably should not fight the Dewdrop Man. Also, while he does tend to play his melodies on an instrument, he doesn’t need to. He can hum or sing them as well.
It is also important to note that magic cast within 100 feet of the polished stone circle in the woods can go a bit haywire. If the spell is 1st level or higher, the caster should roll 1d20. On a 16 or higher, the caster rolls on the Wild Magic table. If the effect doesn’t apply (e.g., requires sorcery slots), roll again. For the Dewdrop Man, roll 1d20 when he uses one of his limited spells.
What Can the Players’ Do?
People throughout the town and especially in the local tavern discuss two rumors that lead back to the Dewdrop Man. The first is the story children share with one another about the Dewdrop Man. Adults think the children have a collective imaginary friend and are mildly irritated or creeped out when the children talk about tests or bringing gifts or sacrifices to the Dewdrop Man. The other rumor is about Weyla Vandal, a local musician, who found a circle of polished stones deep in the forest one day. According to Weyla, she could hear music playing from the circle when she drew close.
If players investigate the children’s stories… The players can talk to both the parents and the children. The parents all share similar stories about the Dewdrop Man and how oddly their children are acting. One parent may have even seen the Dewdrop Man, but when they looked again, he wasn’t there. When the players talk with the children, they receive a description of the Dewdrop Man and of the various tests he’s put before them (e.g., playing music or singing, bringing him a gift of food to judge, trading compliments and insults). While the children won’t reveal where the Dewdrop Man is, the players can sneakily follow them one morning or evening.
If the players come across the Dewdrop Man, he most likely notices them right away with his passive Perception. He will play for them a song in which a desperate couple make a desperate deal and send their nephew under the hill. When speaking with the players without children present, the Dewdrop Man will be very upfront about what he is doing. He will mention that it has been a while since a child’s laughter and tears have sounded in his walls. He’ll also mention that no lasting harm would ever visit the child he takes. He is this upfront because he doesn’t fear the players.
If the players investigate Weyla’s discovery… The woods begin as fairly normal, but as the players walk deeper in, they should start noticing sprites and pixies among the trees as well as other fey creatures. They could also potentially run into a dangerous fey beast and need to fight. When they find the portal, they hear the same music Weyla described. If they enter the circle, they are transported to a maze-like mansion in the Feywild. The portal back to the Gytham Woods on the Material Plane does exist and is open, but they will have to find it. During their wandering, fey creatures attack them for intruding. Also, they find Andrew Fletcher’s diaries at various ages and drawings he made. From these they learn about what happened to him and how he plotted to escape.
When the Dewdrop Man has received his gift of a child and gone through the portal for the last time, it will disappear behind him.
The players have a bit of a dilemma: should they intervene? Is it their place to do anything? The town relies on the Archfey’s magic, even if none of them realize it.