D&December 2017 – W2D7 – Oddities – The World Serpent Inn

DnDecember2017

This is a really tough one. The fantasy universe is full of oddities of various types and sources. In creatures we have strange beings such as the were-mole and aboleth. In magic items we have things like the belt of gender change. The list of odd planar locations seems to have no end. But there is one oddity that has endlessly fascinated me since I first came across it: The World Serpent Inn.

About the Inn

There is a TV trope referred to as the “Inn Between Worlds“. This is a place that wanders from place to place. A building that appears and disappears, seemingly at random. It serves as a portal between worlds and in one variety or another is often used as a means of crossing over between realities. The World Serpent Inn is the D&D equivalent of it. 

It’s been around since the days of AD&D and received a big treatise in Dragon Magazine #351 (which I still have around somewhere). The Inn can be used by travelers to easily get from Krynn to Greyhawk to Faerun or to just about any plane that exists in the D&D cosmology.

There’s a large common room that changes from time to time. Numerous passageways filled with doors. Some of the doors lead to rooms and some of them lead to various otherworldly destinations and times. The passageways and doors are not fixed constants, either. They seem to change at random, appearing and disappearing and changing where they lead.

The Dragon magazine article detailed a number of cool side quests and adventure hooks that could be undertaken from the Inn. One example was a door that leads to Istar just days before the gods of Krynn blasted it into oblivion.

My Usage

The Inn is something that I’ve co-opted for my own purposes within the Wyrmfang Chronicles. In my usage, the Inn has a new co-owner, Aeduin (my cleric of the Smoking Eye from the Shackled City adventure path). He has given it a permanent home on the plane that he now controls, Occipitus. Much remains the same, but there are a few notable differences.

The bartenders who work behind the bar are three medusae, sisters that he rescued from somewhere. Neither he nor they talk about the where or how of it. New patrons may wary at first, but the sisters never turn anyone to stone unless they are causing problems. They are, in effect, the bouncers. 

Another change is that there are many more hallways and doors than there were previously. Aeduin has turned the Inn and the plane of Occipitus it now resides in, into a place of neutrality where friends and enemies may come to negotiate, discuss, or just drink together. Fighting is strictly prohibited. One may see elves from Silvanesti seated around a table with those from Evereska. Or mind flayers and githyanki negotiating over some piece of the Ethereal. Even the occasional avatar or demi-god may drop by for a drink or two.

Red Dragon Inn by Fish032
Red Dragon Inn by Fish032

D&December 2017 – W2D3 – Abyssal/Fey

DnDecember2017

I may have mentioned once or twice that I hate fey. They’re nothing more than an annoyance. As for abyssal creatures, my favorite is probably the glabrezu demon. There’s just something about a half demon, half crab that can cast spells that is oddly amusing and appealing at the same time. 

Another part of it is the experience that my bard turned cleric had on Occipitus during the Shackled City adventure path. We had some fun interactions with a glabrezu, among other demons. 

D&December 2017 – W1D5 – A Moment of Triumph

DnDecember2017

Hmm, this is a difficult one. I’ve been a part of many moments of triumph over the years. Most, sadly, I have forgotten, but one does stand out. We were running the Shackled City Adventure Path. As with many modules, we re-located this one into the Forgotten Realms setting. I don’t remember exactly where now. It was somewhere in the far south or southwest, perhaps Chult or Halruaa.

My character was a bard named Aeduin Tharn. The son of a merchant from Raven’s Bluff, his father had gone missing somewhere in the Cauldron region during a trade expedition. As a result their family came upon hard times. Aeduin set himself the task of finding what had happened and restoring the family’s name.

Fast forward several in character months of adventuring and several class levels later. The party found itself in the Plane of Occipitus. There was a great pillar of fire from a massive skull. Within the skull, the party found itself battling for control and their lives. A sacrifice was required, a part of the Test of the Smoking Eye. A life would had to be sacrificed to the pillar, either willingly or unwillingly. The victor would gain control over the domain of Occipitus.

The party’s foe was going to make one of them an unwilling sacrifice. As the party fought against the enemy’s minions, one of their number was being dragged helplessly toward the pillar of fire. Try as we might we could not stop our companion’s progress toward it. We had only a couple of rounds left before our friend would die in flame.

Aeduin (and I for that matter) saw no other solution to the problem. He was in a position to save their companion, so he made a decision. He threw himself willingly into the pillar of fire. At the time, I fully expected that was the end of Aeduin. I figured he was dead and the party, having defeated their enemies in Occipitus, could go on and I would create some new character to join them back in Cauldron.

Chris, our DM, told me afterwards that he knew that if anyone was going to willingly sacrifice themselves in the pillar, it was going to be me. Over the next few days, he gave me the choice to restore Aeduin to life. Aeduin was reborn. I converted all of my existing character levels from bard to become a cleric of Occipitus, complete with the Smoke-eye template. Aeduin returned with his left eye replaced with a smoking, smoldering fire instead. Gave him an ominous look.

That moment, even more than when we eventually returned to Occipitus and Skullrot to defeat the forces of Adimarchus, are what stand out for me about Aeduin. He eventually completed the path as a 20th level cleric of Occipitus and now holds dominion over that plane.