Warning! Spoilers ahead for the Wild Beyond the Witchlight. Proceed with caution.
16 years later, our heroes rejoined in their village, Barreltongue, that they all grew up in. A couple of the childhood friends remained in the village, while others went out into the world to do various things. They all felt the hole that was left by the item that they lost so long ago at the carnival. They’ve gathered back with news of the Witchlight Carnival returning. With hope in their hearts, they search for their lost items.
Connecting the session zero and session one was a little different for consistency. I have players that wanted to be able to play different ages than what would match up with the other players from session zero. I told them that they would need to create a backstory that would give a reason as to why they aged differently from the others. My players came up with some really creative means of retelling these backstories. One of my favorites, the halfling found a spellbook that made him age significantly when he attuned to it. He also believes that he’s a wizard, but really is a sorcerer.
I leaned a bit on my players for connecting the timeline. I was really thinking about how Stephen King’s It brings the group back together after so many years apart. Though, instead of a weird killer clown, we have the carnival that stole something from each of the players. I gave them the choice to decide how long it has been since they were last at the carnival (as long as it was a multiple of eight). From there, they all met up as a group at a local tavern and reconnected with each other before heading to the carnival.
The Witchlight Carnival was such a fun place to have my players explore. I learned a lot about the characters that their playing and how they’re going to act to different situations. They did stray away from looking for their lost things for the first half of the carnival, but by the end they went to the carousel and found out where each of their items are located, who took them, and a secret about each of the hags.
I did make a change to how the players interacted with Mister Witch and Mister Light. I personally didn’t want my players to have to manipulate the owners into giving them information. After the party performed at the Big Top, The owners invited them to the staff area to have a conversation. One of my players rolled a Nat 20 while they we’re talking with the owners. They got the whole story about the carnival and about Witch and Light. They told the players to go about the carnival until the crowning of the Witchlight Monarch. Once the Monarch would be crowned, they would meet them at the hall of illusions.
Need to Improve
As a DM, I messed up during the carousel. I was so excited about them getting to learn about where their missing items went that I just jump right into them trying to figure out the puzzles… without the background of why. The lesson I learned is to breathe and read the section again quick before going to the middle.
Tips and Tricks
- Keeping track of the Map. As a virtual DM, I use an app called EncounterPlus. Through this app, I’m able to have the map displayed to all of my players, while still having markers up for me to be able to reference what each area does in the carnival. This was such a help since I wasn’t constantly trying to find the information on everything that was going on for each section. EncounterPlus is available for Apple products. The link can be found below! But if you don’t have access to the app (or something like it) maybe a printout of the map with the page number or small note that gives a little background of each area.
- Tracking Time in the Witchlight Carnival. Since there are Timed events, you need to keep track of how much time your players are spending in the carnival. I basically moved the time tracker forward one every time the players participated in a larger carnival event. Anything that was small or just a stall, I didn’t move the tracker forward.
Carnival Background Music Playlist:
EncounterPlus App: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/encounterplus-for-d-d-5e/id1170693487
The Portal Animation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1pMmwIoAr_k-V07QNJr7zmBMDwc80i8md/view?usp=sharing