Vicious Venues10/19/2005

Unicorn Glade

The Unicorn Glade contains encounters of level 5-13
and is suitable for use with any D&D campaign.

This woodland jewel is hard to find, but breathtakingly beautiful. It features lush wild grasses green as rarest emeralds. A profusion of wildflowers adds other jewel tones, and a clear pond gleams like a sapphire. All this verdant beauty, however, pales next to the noble beauty of the resident unicorns.

Background for the DM

Generations ago, a powerful elder unicorn call Rey'in (along with a few allied clerics and wizards) established the glade as a sanctuary for unicorns in times of danger. During Rey'in's lifetime, the forest where the glade lies teamed with evil giants, humanoids, and dragons all bent on rooting out all good creatures and turning the whole woodland into a vast den of evil.

Rey'in chose a remote portion of the forest where the trees were both ancient and tall. Rugged hills surrounding the area made entry difficult. Many centuries of wind and wildfires created several natural clearings throughout the area, while succulent grasses and wildflowers grew in these glades and provided excellent grazing for unicorns. Rey'in created his sanctuary in the largest glade. Unicorns and other good sylvan creatures continue to use the glade to this very day. The current master of the glade is Taisias, a powerful celestial unicorn. A human ranger named Rebeca Bootes also helps protect the glade.

The glade has powerful magical protections (see Visiting the Glade), and most people have never heard of the place. A few tales about the glade have leaked out of the forest, but many folk usually dismiss them as mere legends or as flawed accounts of some locale hidden amid the planes. The glade is both real and entirely earthly, however.

About Taisias and Rebeca

Rey'in's bloodline has died out and Taisias has been assigned the task of keeping the glade safe and hidden. Exactly who has sent Taisias to the Material Plane is left to the DM to decide. Perhaps Taisias serves a woodland deity, such as Ehlonna, or perhaps he merely decided to take on the job himself. Taisias usually stays hidden in the glade. He relies on the resident unicorns and on Rebeca for news of the outside world.

Taisias (Celestial Charger): hp 155; MM 250.

Tactics: Taisias prefers to function as a strategist rather than battle foes directly. Doing so allows him to keep his presence on the Material Plane a secret. He doesn't shy away from combat when he deems it necessary, however. When trouble arises, Taisias usually sends a unicorn or Rebeca, or both, to look over the opposition and report back. He generally relies on Rebeca to drive off invaders and usually will help her with a prayer or bless spell before she goes off to battle. If Taisias chooses to join a fight himself, he chooses a key ally, usually Rebeca, and gives that character a shield other spell. He protects himself with shield of faith and protection from energy. He prefers to attack from a distance, using searing light and holy smite. When his offensive spells begin to run out during a long battle, he casts divine power on himself and closes in to melee. He picks out the most dangerous foe and uses his smite evil ability for his initial attack.

Rebeca has admired equine creatures since her youth. As a little girl, she loved horses and she yearned to meet a centaur or a unicorn. As an apprentice ranger, she worked alongside a herd of centaurs for the better part of a year, and finally met a unicorn one moonlit summer night. She eventually learned about Taisias and his glade and, through sheer persistence, met Taisias himself. The celestial charger quickly recognized Rebeca's dedication and her value as an ally. Today, Rebeca maintains a series of huts hidden near the glade. She moves among them throughout the year as she patrols the glade's borders. She discourages accidental visitors from approaching the glade and slays anyone hostile to unicorns.

Rebeca Bootes CR 10

Female human ranger 10
LG Medium humanoid
Init +3; Senses Listen +12, Spot +12
Languages Common

AC 20, touch 14, flat-footed 17
hp 59 (10 HD)
Fort +9, Ref +11, Will +5

Speed 30 ft. (6 squares); woodland stride
Melee mwk greatsword +13/+8 (2d6+2/19-20) or
Ranged+1 composite shortbow (+2) +14/+9 (1d6+3/x3)
Base Atk +10; Grp +12
Atk Options Favored enemy giants +6, favored enemy monstrous humanoids +2, favored enemy magical beasts +2,
Combat Gearpotion of hide from animals, potion of cure light wounds, potion of pass without trace
Ranger Spells Prepared (CL 5th):
2nd -- cure light wounds
1st -- delay poison (DC 12), longstrider

Abilities Str 14, Dex 17, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 10
SQ animal companion, evasion, link with companion, swift tracker, wild empathy +10 (+6 magical beasts)
Feats Blind-Fight, Endurance[B], Improved Precise Shot[B], Manyshot, Mounted Archery, Mounted Combat, Point Blank Shot, Rapid Shot[B], Track[B]
Skills Climb +12, Handle Animal +5, Hide +15, Listen +12, Move Silently +20, Ride +16, Spot +12, Survival +12, Swim +5
Possessions combat gear plus +1 chain shirt, +1 amulet of natural armor, +1 ring of protection, +1 composite shortbow (+2), masterwork greatsword, +1 cloak of resistance, +2 gloves of Dexterity, boots of elvenkind, silver and turquoise brooch (20 gp), 5 gp

Woodland Stride (Ex): Rebeca may move through natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain at her normal speed and without damage or other impairment. However, thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that are magically manipulated to impede motion still affect her.

Animal Companion (Ex): Rebeca has a light horse named Cletus as an animal companion. Rebeca and Cletus enjoy the link and share spells special qualities.

Link (Ex): Rebeca can handle Cletus as a free action. She also gains a +4 circumstance bonus on all wild empathy checks and Handle Animal checks made regarding her horse.

Share Spells (Ex): Rebeca may have any spell she casts on herself also affect her animal companion if the latter is within 5 feet at the time. The ranger may also cast a spell with a target of "You" on her animal companion.

Evasion (Ex): If Rebeca is exposed to any effect that normally allows her to attempt a Reflex saving throw for half damage, she takes no damage with a successful saving throw.

Swift Tracker (Ex): Rebeca tracks at her normal speed without taking the usual -5 penalty, or she can track at double speed at only a -10 penalty.

Wild Empathy (Ex): By making a successful wild empathy check, Rebeca can improve the attitude of an animal as if making a Diplomacy check to improve the attitude of a person. The ability normally takes 1 minute to use, and Rebeca and the animal have to be able to study each other (within 30 feet under normal visibility conditions).

Hook "Hello! What brings you here?" In a fight, Rebeca prefers to stay hidden among the trees and snipe at her foes with her bow.

Cletus (Light Warhorse) Animal Companion CR --

N Large animal
Init +2; Senseslow-light vision, scent; Listen +5, Spot +5

AC 17, touch 11, flat-footed 15; evasion
hp 37 (5 HD)
Fort +7, Ref +6, Will +2

Speed 60 ft. (12 squares)
Melee 2 hooves +6 (1d4+3) and bite +1 (1d3+1)
Space 10 ft.; Reach 5 ft.
Base Atk +3; Grp +10

Abilities Str 17, Dex 14, Con 17, Int 2, Wis 13, Cha 6
SQ 2 bonus tricks, evasion
Feats Endurance, Run
Skills Hide -2, Listen +5, Spot +5

Rebeca is a good-hearted soul who dislikes hurting anyone. Her usual approach to strangers who stray too close to the glade is to hide herself among the trees and greet them in a cheerful voice. Many folks have mistaken this voice in the trees for a dryad or other fey creature. Rebeca's skills at hiding and moving silently through dense undergrowth tend to reinforce the idea that she's something not quite of this world.

When fighting in a wooded area, Rebeca prefers to stay hidden among the trees and snipe at her foes with her bow (see the Hide skill description). If foes approach, she uses her woodland stride ability to move to a new hiding place. In more open areas, she rides Cletus, her light warhorse and uses her bow from horseback.

When she has unicorn allies to assist her, Rebeca fights in much the same manner. The unicorns stay out of sight while Rebeca fires her bow from hiding. If the foe locates the ranger and closes to melee range, the unicorns charge out of hiding and Rebeca takes up her greatsword.

The Setup

Player characters aren't likely to stumble on the glade by accident, but they might come across Rebeca's hut. If the characters have reason to delve into the lore of unicorns, however, they're bound to encounter a few references to the glade. Here are a few things that might bring the glade to the group's attention.

  • The characters hear or read an account of an ancient war that raged between good and evil in the forest. The good creatures won, but only because they had a hidden refuge. According to the tale, a few of the worst evil monsters still lie imprisoned in the forest, sealed away amid vast treasures of magic and gold.

The tale of the conflict in the forest is true. There may or may not be evil creatures imprisoned in the forest at the DM's option. If such creatures exist, they're likely to be evil outsiders held in place with binding spells or evil giants held in temporal stasis. Characters who go poking around their prisons may release the captives, who will not be grateful for the intervention. Rebeca and Taisias won't be at all enthusiastic about attempts to disturb the prisoners, and they might act to prevent the characters from finding them.

  • Local tales tell of a deadly place in the forest where the forces of darkness prevail and mortals cannot trust their own senses. To enter this place is almost certain death. However, if one can capture the guardian of the place (said to be either a fair maiden or an old man) one can drink from a magical pool and be cured of all ailments, including old age.

This tale is a twisted account of the glade and its powerful wards. The maiden and the old man are Rebeca and Taisias. The rumor of the pool is pure fancy, though it's a good bet that Taisias could be persuaded to use his considerable healing powers on a truly deserving person.

  • A bard's tale or song tells of a magical place where all the world's unicorns are born and where they all return when death is near. A single flower or blade of grass from this place is sufficient to charm any unicorn.

This is another distorted tale about the glade. The vegetation in the glade is luxuriant, but has no power over unicorns. Many unicorns are born in the glade, and quite a few choose to die there, but the glade isn't the source of all the unicorns, nor is it their sole graveyard. It is possible, however, that characters seeking some special material for use in a spell or magic item would do well to get a flower from the glade.

  • A hermit woman lives deep in the forest. She lives off the land, but those who do her a good turn can expect to receive aid from all the sylvan creatures, and even from the trees themselves.

This refers to Rebeca, and it's mostly true. Rebeca doesn't care for visitors, but anyone who befriends her has a powerful bargaining chip when dealing with most other residents of the forest where she lives. Evil creatures of the forest, however, feel an extra dose of ill will toward anyone who claims to be Rebeca's friend.

Visiting the Glade

The glade is about two miles long and a half a mile wide. It lies amid the wooded hills like a lake filled with colorful flowers and waving grasses. As noted earlier, the glade is hard to find, thanks to several layers of magical protection that Rey'in and his allies provided. The exact details of the glade's ward are left to the DM, but it is most likely that they represent an epic spell (see the Epic Level Handbook), or elven high magic (see the Forgotten Realms CampaignSetting). The wards have the following effects:

  • The whole area is cloaked with a screen spell. Anyone viewing the glade sees a grove of ancient hardwood trees. The save DC against this illusion is 35.

  • The whole area is protected with an effect similar to a repulsion spell, except that there is no saving throw. Affected characters turn around and move away from the glade. They don't notice that they have done so until they are at least 100 yards away from the glade.

  • The whole area has a dimensional lock spell.

Any of the three effects can be dispelled. The caster level is 25. A successful dispel, however, merely suppresses the effect for 1d4 rounds.

Unicorns and ki-rins are immune to all three effects. (For example, unicorns can use their teleport abilities within the glade despite the dimensional lock effect.) Anyone Taisias invites into the glade becomes immune to all three effects for 24 hours. Taisias can grant up to four other creatures the power to give access to the glade. Currently, only Rebeca and one or two trustworthy unicorns who call the glade home have this privilege.

Rebeca's Huts (EL 5-10)

Rebeca keeps four plain huts with wooden walls and thatched roofs within a half mile of the glade. Each has a lower floor with a stable for Cletus and one or two equine visitors and an upper floor with basic quarters for Rebeca. She keeps each hut stocked with basic supplies such as firewood, acorn flour, dried fruits, and some preserved meat. Rebeca spends a total of about three months out of each year at each hut, but she moves between them randomly. This allows her to keep an eye on the glade and keeps enemies guessing about where she is. When she's absent from a hut, Rebeca keeps the place unlocked. Needy travelers are welcome to her supplies.

Creatures: As noted earlier, Rebeca lives in one hut along with Cletus, her warhorse. Rebeca's statistics are given in the About Taisias and Rebeca section.

Though Rebeca doesn't guard her empty huts, some of her friends do. When Rebeca is absent, one or more of the following creatures are in residence or lurking nearby.

Centaurs (1-2): hp 26 each; MM 32.

These fellows usually are out hunting and have decided to use the unused huts as a base for a few days. If asked, they claim the hut belongs to their herd.

Pixies (2-4): hp 3 each; MM 236.

The pixies usually don't harass Rebeca, but they'll play their tricks on any visitors Rebeca hasn't told them to expect (and sometimes they'll even play pranks on folk they know the ranger has invited). The pixies are familiar with the local rumor about the hermit woman and will use their illusion powers to impersonate her. If someone takes the bait, the pixies send them all over the forest on silly errands such as finding a toadstool with exactly seven yellow spots, a triple acorn, or even the night's first moonbeam.

Werebears (2-4): hp 62 each; MM 170.

This could be a family group or a troupe with 1d4 brown bears for company. The werebears usually pose as woodsfolk of some kind and they often are engaged in some sort of woodsy task, such as gathering acorns or mushrooms. Like the centaurs, they claim the hut is theirs.

The Glade Proper (EL 13)

If characters get a glimpse of the glade in its true form, they see a vast meadow bordered by ancient trees. Throughout most of the year, lush grass grows ankle high to a human and wildflowers make splashes of color here and there. A spring-fed pond has crystalline water and a fringe of reeds and cattails. In winter, snow usually blankets the glade, but a few patches of bright green show through here and there.

Creatures: Taisias dwells here along with a grace of regular unicorns.

Taisias (Celestial Charger): hp 155; MM 250.

Unicorns (3-6): hp 42 each; MM 250.

See the About Taisias and Rebeca section for notes on Taisias's demeanor and tactics. When non-unicorns enter the glade, one of the regular unicorns approaches the visitors while Taisias and the remaining unicorns keep their distance.

About the Authors

Skip Williams keeps busy with freelance projects for several different game companies and was the Sage of Dragon Magazine for 18 years. Skip is a co-designer of the D&D 3rd Edition game and the chief architect of the Monster Manual. When not devising swift and cruel deaths for player characters, Skip putters in his kitchen or garden (rabbits and deer are not Skip's friends) or works on repairing and improving the century-old farmhouse that he shares with his wife, Penny, and a growing menagerie of pets.

Penny Williams joined the roleplaying game industry as Game Questions Expert for TSR, Inc. in the 1980s. Since then, she has served as RPGA Network Coordinator, PolyhedronNewszine editor, and Senior Editor and Coordinating Editor for the RPG R&D Department at Wizards of the Coast, Inc. Now a busy freelancer, Penny edits for several game companies and runs the online playtesting program for Wizards products. When not enhancing the cruelty of the deaths PCs will suffer at the hands of designers, Penny puts up jam, works jigsaw puzzles, and tutors students in math and science.

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