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The Next D&D 4E Homebrew: Fun with the Feywild’s Bright Beauty!

feywild castleD&D Gamers who have been following my blog for a while know that I’m a big fan of the Feywild.  I’ve got one of my D&D 4E campaigns spending substantial amounts of time popping back and forth between the mundane realm and the Feywild over the past couple years, and I’ve been trying to add details to the plane of the Fey as my heroes have spent more and more time there.

But one of the effects of the Feywild I’ve never felt was fully realized enough in my campaign was the concept of the “Bright Beauty”.  Described in the Feywild section in the Manual of the Planes, the effect of being in that otherworldly realm can sometimes be a mind altering experience.    It is a “tangible presence of magic in the Feywild is like nothing ever experienced on the mortal world”, and heroes traveling there “must constantly fight the Feywild’s call” to act out in a “wild” and “unrestrained” way.

In other words, I think it sounds like traveling in the realm of the fairies has a slightly maddening effect on mere mortals.

So I wanted to figure out a way to make the Bright Beauty a more dynamic part of the gaming experience at the table as my heroes journeyed across the Feywild.  And so I took a cue from how WotC handled the dark and pervasive emotional stresses of the Shadowfell in Shadowfell: Gloomwrought & Beyond with the Despair Deck, and created my own cards for the Feywild – the Bright Beauty Deck.

The Cards

The Bright Beauty Deck is made up of 18 cards representing strong emotions, and falling into three broad categories – Passion, Panic, and Euphoria.  There are also three additional cards which have other effects on how the cards are drawn and played.

Passion cards are effects of an up-welling of barely controllable emotions.  These include Desire, Envy, and Outrage.  Panic cards represent uncontrollable anxiety, which can cause unthinking behavior.  These include mental states like Hysteria, Shock, and Embarrassment.  And finally Euphoria cards cause feelings of intense excitement, overwhelming rational thought with powerful feelings.  Ecstasy, Lust, and Wonder are examples of the emotions that will affect heroes who draw one of these cards.

So while some of these emotions are not particularly unusual or even indicative of mental instability, they can be if taken to an extreme level.  But under the Bright Beauty effect, typical emotions so intense and strong that they become minor disabilities for mere mortals, and create some interesting role-playing opportunities as well.  Further, these effects can be represented in game terms by penalties which heroes will have to whether until they overcome the emotional storm!

How to Use the Bright Beauty Deck

I designed the Bright Beauty Deck to work similarly to how the Despair Deck from Shadowfell: Gloomwrought & Beyond.  The cards have a title of a emotion, and flavor text describing one way it might make a hero feel.  The card causes a particular minor penalty which affects a character for a while until it is brought under control using a Saving Throw.  Characters trained in a specific “key skill” gain a +2 bonus to the Saving Throw roll in order to overcome the effect.  And once the emotion is brought under control, the hero flips the card and uses the boon section as a bonus to their activities in and out of combat until the DM orders a discard.

When to draw a Bright Beauty Card:  Typically, characters will be asked to draw from the Bright Beauty Deck only occasionally, at specific times during an adventure or a quest.  Extreme stresses, such as a failed skill challenge or when presented with a powerful combat encounter (containing elites or solo monsters) will trigger a card pull.  Additionally, there are times when the heroes are in the presence or the domain of an Archfey, and they will have a surge of the Bright Beauty with which they will have to cope, so they would have to draw a card.

Triggers to allow a Saving Throw: Like the flighty nature of the creatures in the Feywild, the Bright Beauty emotions are quite mercurial.  Characters will be allowed to roll a Saving Throw for their Bright Beauty Card when certain events occur, such as:

  • Achieving half the successes of a skill challenge
  • Killing two sets of minions (6-8 monsters) in a combat
  • Killing a standard monster in a combat
  • Bloodying an elite or solo monster in a combat
  • Completing a combat or a skill challenge

Any or all of these triggers can be used to offer a Saving Throw to characters, mainly as often as desired by the DM.  Once a Saving Throw is made, the character flips the card, and gains the Boon listed on the card.

Discarding the card: Dungeon Masters have the ultimate decision when to as the players to discard their Bright Beauty card.  Typical triggers for a discard can be at the end of a combat or skill challenge, a short rest, an extended rest, or reaching a milestone.  DMs should never feel they have to even use the same discard trigger every time, and changing it up enhances the feelings that the effects are as wild and unrestrained as the realm of the Feywild itself.

Again, these are just guidelines for how I use the Bright Beauty cards in my own game – but DMs can feel free to use their own parameters as they see fit to match their own play styles!

Some assembly required…

You can assemble your Bright Beauty Deck by printing out the cards on card stock or heavy paper, and glued or taped to the backs – or not if you don’t carry about having a fancy backing.  Please note that I don’t have the backs quite lined up perfectly with the fronts, so doing two sided printing might not be a total success.

With 21 total cards in the deck, the Bright Beauty Deck can easily accommodate 4-6 players easily, without any duplicate cards appearing for up to about 3 draws, so players will get to see a lot of variety in their games.  As the Bright Beauty strikes characters on an irregular basis, it should enhance the strangeness of the Feywild and provide increased opportunities for role-playing, without being too much of a burden.

Please feel free to enjoy these cards, and I’d enjoy hearing back from readers about how they worked out in their campaigns, or just general feedback about the cards themselves.  I’ve included some Disclaimer blah-blahs at the end of this blog, but I hope that gamers will use and have fun with these cards to make their Feywild adventures more spectacular and memorable!

So until next blog… I wish you Happy Gaming!

bright beauty cards page 1 bright beauty cards page 2
bright beauty cards page 3 bright beauty cards backs

Disclaimer: These cards are not official products of Wizards of the Coast, although they can be used with Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition under the GSL (or any other edition they feel like).  Fantasy gamers are free to download and print these Bright Beauty cards for their own use only, and are not to be resold or reprinted for sale or commercial use.

About The Author

Michael is an Adept of a Secret Order of Dungeon Masters, and dwells in a hidden realm with his two evil cat-familiars, deep within the Vale of Wolverines, called by some "Michigan". He has been esoterically conjuring D&D Campaigns for nearly a Third of a Century, and has been known to cast ritual blogs concerning Dungeons & Dragons every few days with some regularity. Michael has freelanced for Wizards of the Coast, and writes reviews of D&D and other Role-Playing Game products on EN World News.


2 Responses to “The Next D&D 4E Homebrew: Fun with the Feywild’s Bright Beauty!

  1. Otto von Rheinsberg says:

    This is neat stuff. I’ve also been having a look at this area. I like the mode of Storytelling that the Feywild enables, and the whole thing does seem to be a bit of a vogue in movies & TV atm. Enjoying your articles.

    Paul (aka Otto von Rheinsberg)

  2. Thank you for the compliment! I hope you find some useful things here at Neuroglyph Games! :)

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