Wickerjack, a Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition adventure from Cryptwright, feels folkloric, without actually being folklore—a tricky proposition. This Dungeons & Dragons 5e adventure is purpose-built for a Halloween or Thanksgiving game, so it works hard to achieve authenticity. And it achieves its aim.
Since this is meant to be folkloric, it contains a harvest festival, wolf attacks, magic trees, a witch, and other tropes of the Fall festival horror milieu, but are used with originality.
This adventure is quite flexible, allowing a savvy DM to start and end their game in a variety of ways. This flexibility is on display throughout in the exposition, adventure hooks, and ideas. There’s a wonderfully detailed historical timeline that truly immerses you in how long the town has weathered its curse. That sometimes gives Wickerjack a Stephen King-esque feel.
The story revolves around the Cherrywood Annual Harvest Festival and Wickerjack, an ArchFey with easy to misunderstand motivations, some of which can be construed as evil. Wickerjack visits the prime material plane to, among other things, abduct children and grant boons to petitioners deemed worthy. When Wickerjack and his Amber Court are not in Cherrywood, the Winter Court is there and at odds with Wickerjack’s goals.
When taken as a whole, the adventure could be overwhelming to an inexperienced DM. But taken as intended—using the parts that fit your specific story—and only those parts—it becomes a very powerful and functional adventure set. You want werewolves? Done. Witches? Yes. Sea monsters. Fey. Ghosts. Curses. Even a slasher. All ready for reassembly into YOUR perfect Halloween adventure.
The characters, from Wickerjack and his Amber Court, to the Winter Court, they are counter-antagonists. Everyone is in a complex web of dangers and deceits. Everyone is a foil to someone else. Tensions, whether forward or under the surface, are amped up to 11.
The locations are all exactly what you want: a mill, graveyard, ruins of a chateau, meadery, wharf, Huntsman’s shack, bee farm (a personal favorite), orchard, et al.
WickerJack’s description is tasty: “Jack is invisible except by moonlight so he travels with a couple swarms who illuminate him. A towering stick figure made of dry rotted branches and a pumpkin over his decrepit face, a welcoming smile cut in. This ends up more disturbing than he intends.” He is a complex and deep character—as is this adventure.
There’s a dearth of art in portions of the book. Much of the art is filtered stock. Yes, they work, but I’d like to have seen both more quantity and more variety. The descriptions of characters, like Wickerjack’s Court, are delicious. There should be illustrations of most of them. There are region maps and battle maps aplenty, including a town map that reminds you how small Cherrywood is. Battlemaps are here for many of the scenarios and are excellent.
WHO’S THIS FOR?
For 3-5 4th-level characters. DMs who want to bring a seasonal flare to their campaigns, or to run a one-shot around the autumn holidays. It’s created in such a way that any number of smaller hooks can be their own stories. The intertwining stories often make you feel like you’re in a Grimm’s fairy tale.
To my surprise, there’s an accompanying recipe book. I haven’t yet made any of the recipes, but I’m intrigued enough to try! If anyone has made them, share your thoughts.
|Chris Valentine||Story, Writing, Editing, Layout, Design, Character Art||@cryptwright||@cryptwright|
|Trevor Dustin||Proofreading & Editing, Playtester|
|Jason Nielson||Proofreading & Editing, Playtester|
|Rebecca Valentine||Proofreading & Editing, Playtester|
|Nathanaël Roux||Art & Assets for Layout, Playtester||@freeners|
|Tedandres Mateo Valenzuela||Playtester|
|Tom Cartos||Maps & Map Assets||@CartosTomemail@example.com||@tomcartos|
|The Forgotten Adventures||Maps & Map Assets||@FrgtnAdventures||@forgotten_adventures||@theforgottenadventures|