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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Plane of Færie Gazetteer: dTír na nIontas (Wonderland)

by Adam Frank


The world of dTír na nIontas (THEER nah NIN-tahs) is an ever shifting expanse one moment filled with light and color, the next with fear and darkness. It is one of the many dream worlds within Faerie and thus is mutable in many things. There are many different environments within dTír na nIontas from sandy beaches to magical forests, even a large hedge maze culminating in a beautiful castle.
When one enters dTír na nIontas if doing so outside of a dream one must always enter from the East Ocean. The tides in this place are ever changing sometimes from minute to minute but often times from second to second causing huge swells and waves. The currents of this ocean will always guide a traveler inward to the coast. These currents are more and more difficult to fight the farther from the coast one travels; due to this extreme hindrance no one knows if the East Ocean has a west coast.
The beach itself located at the coast of the East Ocean is populated by a strange race of awakened animal people who are consistently dodging the ever changing tides and trying to get dry. It has never occurred to these people to move from the coast and it never will. The changing tides here flow in and out about one quarter mile mercilessly covering and tearing at these people’s homes.
Having passed the East Ocean one enters the Everwood in one of two places depending solely upon the mood of the entrant. The Shine and The Murk, there is only ever one path and it is not unknown for an adventuring party to embark together upon this seemingly innocuous road and be separated once they enter into the Everwood. If one completely understands the mutable nature of this world it is not unheard of for them to be able to completely skip the Everwood into the beginning of the dwelling grounds of the denizens of dTír na nIontas an area known as The Queen's Ways.
The Shine is a very lighthearted place with creatures that resemble things out of dream that appear to be foods or playthings like the Bread-and-Butterfly Loafs or the Rocking-Horse Fly’s, and even the Musical Leapfrogs. There are always new beings being discovered here as new dreamers and adventurers traveling these parts are consistently dreaming up new things by design or not. The road through The Shine is many miles long and it seems to vary per person who wanders this path. Those who dwell in The Shine tend to be light-hearted and fair they will do what they can to help a dreamer and to warn the adventurers of the dangers they may face along the way.
The Murk, conversely, I a terrifying dark place populated by dangerous beings. It is the birthing grounds of the Jabberwoks and Bandersnatches. Many who enter The Murk never awaken, it is a place of unending nightmare and fear. The path commonly becomes overgrown here and winds back upon itself. Those who have taken up residence here are nothing if not cruel and unhelpful to a pointless degree; commonly harming themselves simply to make life even slightly more difficult for an adventurer and the stay here that much more nightmarish for a dreamer.
At the end of the Everwood is The Queen's Ways. The Queen's Ways have many dangers from meeting up with the queen, a renegade group, a group of guards, or even the air itself (every 24 hours a player must make a Will save DC 15 or suffer 1d2 points temporary wisdom damage). Here the one path branches into many different roads going all directions wooden signs pointing down every road bearing some variation of the term “My Way” designating that all ways are her ways. This is where most of the population of dTír na nIontas lives. All here are subservient to the Queen of Hearts if not out of choice, out of fear. It is a place dominated by homes created by these creature that resemble anything from a single tree to even a small home with a thatched roof cottage, however the dweller dreams it to be. As one progresses further down any of the ways that take one closer to the hedge maze the homes get larger and more elaborate as the traveler enters the Noble's dwellings. Continuing down the road's one will eventually meet the hedge maze.
Here it is not uncommon to see the Queen's gardeners fussing about the roses growing among the maze painting the white ones, of which there is no small shortage, red; or pruning the dying roses. The maze itself is huge and long with no given guides here and many creatures and lost souls wandering within. If one makes it through the ten mile long and twenty mile wide maze you will be treated to the Queen's Court.
Arguably the most beautiful place in dTír na nIontas, the Queen's Court is consistently filled with feasts, games, fanciful nobles of all races and even the odd court of justice. It stretches from end to end as far as the eye can see. In the center of this wondrous place, juxtaposed from the incredible natural beauty surrounding it is a bloody wooden block the grass around it, what still lives, is stained red with still wet blood, the thick wooden block has many grooves dented in it made by the axe sitting by the side of the block. A red basket reeking of old blood stained by the years of carelessness sits at the base of the block.
The Queen of Hearts herself, the ruler of this great land, is most often seen here in the enormous courtyard of her castle. She is a fat woman always in a red gown with an ornate red crown on her head adorned with hearts cut from every jewel imaginable. Ruled by her passion she always shouts be they shouts of joy at winning a rousing game of croquet, her favorite game, ofttimes played with living creatures; or shouts of rage, her face turning as red as her dress as she shouts “Off with their head!” A threat carried out immediately and with great pomp. One may, depending on the mood of the queen, convince her to have a trial but these trials are always heavily weighted to the queen's favor and more nonsensical than actually useful, though they have been known to occasionally sway the queen and allow the accused to keep their head on some occasions even declaring them nobility of dTír na nIontas. It is believed that the Queen will eat the brains of those who's heads she orders removed from their previous resting places and will feed them to her court (This is patently true though no one would dare accuse the Queen herself for fear of losing their own head. The purpose behind this is doing so makes the imbiber immune to the wisdom draining aura of the world itself for 1d3 days, the effects stack and eating partial brains will gain you temporary immunity to a minimum of 12 hours).
The Castle itself is a very basic place, large certainly but very little of note exists beyond the court. At a close inspection the stones are all shot through with veins of copper and red crystal. The castle itself seems to grow from the ground having no definitive foundation. It has grand ramparts to defend against those who would try to siege it, rooms of all sorts, a large entrance hall, and the kitchens. The kitchens take up almost the entirety of the ground floor and are always buzzing with activity; cooks bustling here and there making sure the meals will be ready at a moment's notice for the Queen. The head cook, a very dirty looking woman has learned much about cooking brains, the most important thing about it though is to spice the flavor up and she has many different peppers to do so. There are entire spice cabinets within the kitchens dedicated solely to different types of pepper as the cook has become quite fond of it. Surrounding the castle is a moat stained blood red, either by the blood of those slain on these grounds or by some natural algae.
dTír na nIontas is a place of great power, the birthplace of laughter some say but others have seen the darker side from The Murk to the dark rage of the Queen of Hearts foul moods. They know this is a place to be feared, to always have one's guard up, and to run if the need arises. Here one can discover massive gardens filled with flowers chatting and singing happily only to notice the malice beneath the music and smiles. This place is where nightmares are born, this place is where no one can come back completely sane. (If you travel to dTír na nIontas any of the wisdom loss one suffers lingers and can only be repaired by a greater restoration spell, miracle or wish). No one travels to dTír na nIontas lightly when they know the lurking secrets past the Everwood.