July 15, 2020

Variant Rules | Into the Wilds

In this series, we'll be expanding on the work begun in our supplement of fairies and fariy tales, Fey Folio, by extending the world building, exploring additional mechanics, and fleshing out the Fey's fantastical world. Join us as we embark Into the Wilds.

Variant Rules

We introduced a number of environmental hazards in Fey Folio, but most of these are quite limited in scope, and it is left to the GM as to when and how they are implemented. This article is intended to expand on these optional rules with some more comprehensive variant rules that should make adventuring in the Feywild much more memorable. Also in today's post: a full reprint of our Weird Arcana table (a 100-entry alternative to the Wild Magic Surge table, since that is not included in the SRD).

Respect and Prestige
Worldly currency is a rare sight in the Feywild. Rather than the weight of your coinpurse, what really matters is how much respect you can command from your peers. A well-regarded fey noble never has to pay for anything, whereas a strange human, newly arrived from the Material Plane, may have trouble even getting served in a Feywild tavern. You can represent this in your games by giving the party a stock of Prestige Points that can be earned or lost through their words and deeds. You could even track separate Prestige scores for each faerie court, since they esteem different things and can provide different boons to their favored allies. Moreover, if a deed would be worth gaining Inspiration, it's likely worth gaining prestige.

Examples of things that bring Prestige:
  • Saving the life of someone more prestigious than yourself
  • Defeating a worthy foe in single combat
  • Giving someone a gift
  • Fulfilling a contract
  • Telling an exceptionally funny joke or pull off an elaborate prank
  • Solving a difficult riddle
  • Producing a great work of art
  • Telling a riveting story
  • Winning a debate or argument
  • Granting a wish
  • Accepting a defeat with good grace
  • Submitting to a geas
  • Taking on an apprentice
Characters can spend prestige on services, such as hirelings and favors. However, to gain an item, a character need only have enough prestige to be recognized by a merchant.

Deals and Contracts
Fey creatures believe that bonds with other people are the most important kind of power one can possess and consequently they take contracts very seriously. Both written and verbal agreements are viewed as binding, and anyone perceived to have breached a contract faces a severe loss of prestige. Moreover, if a character breaks a contract with a fey, they might be brought before an archfey, who can force compromises and mete out punishments far more effectively than any mortal court.

Justice in the Feywild
For the most part, faerie courts make and enforce their own laws -- or choose not to. Very often, the rules and the punishments for breaking them are strange, nonsensical or contradictory. Fey nobles have a habit of using trumped up or even outright false criminal accusations against those they dislike. Embroiling your players in a Kafkaesque courtroom drama could be a useful way to shift the tone of your game. The tables below could provide some inspiration for obscure laws and punishments that might crop up in the Feywild.

d6It is illegal to...d6d6
1 wearribbonsafter midday.
2 make a joke aboutthe number 3unless you write a poem of apology.
3 sellpaintin the presence of a druid.
4 insultsheepmore than once per day.
5 acknowledge the existence ofrosesfor profit.
6 burncoalwithout a licence.

d6The punishment is...
1 a geas with conditions selected by the plaintiff.
2 a fine, payable only in rare gemstones.
3 transformation into a duck for 30 days.
4 you must perform a comedic routine for the Court.
5 a curse of itchiness.
6 exile from an extremely specific part of the Feywild.

The Mutable Wilds
Deep in the Feywild, far from any kind of civilisation, mysterious powers gather. Even the most foolhardy fey creatures are wary of these places, for there the line between dream and reality becomes blurred, and nothing is impossible. Whenever a player character rolls 15 or more on a Wisdom (Perception) or Intelligence (Investigation) check in the Deep Wilds, the GM should invite the player to narrate what their character sees, rather than simply telling them what they find. The player's narration then becomes reality. Additionally, if any creature accidentally utters a phrase such as "I wish," "if only," or "what we need is," the GM should toss a coin. On a tails, that creature's "wish" is spontaneously granted, though the GM may decide to twist their words or cause the "wish" to go wrong in some way.

New Conditions
Some status effects are more likely to be encountered in the Feywild. The following effects should be formalized as Conditions when adventuring in the Plane of Faerie. Additionally, these effects can now be relieved by some or all of the spells lesser restoration, greater restoration, heal, and power word: heal, as noted in the Condition descriptions.
Dazed. A dazed creature has disadvantage on attack rolls and Dexterity saving throws. Any creature that is immune to being stunned is also immune to being dazed. Can be cured by all four restoration spells.
Hallucinating. A hallucinating creature gains the Sunlight Sensitivity trait, treats all ground as difficult terrain, and can never succeed on an ability check or saving throw against an illusion even if it would normally be able to discern the illusion through truesight or similar abilities. Can be cured by greater restoration, heal, and power word: heal.
Muted. A muted creature cannot speak or perform the verbal components of spells. Can be cured by all four restoration spells.
Shimmering. A shimmering creature is outlined in faint light. Attack rolls against them have advantage and they cannot benefit from being invisible. Can be cured by all four restoration spells.
New Environmental Hazards
As if the hazards in Fey Folio weren't enough, here are some more you could experiment with!
Pixie Pranks. Swarms of tiny, invisible creatures are always watching you, in the Feywild. Whenever a party of adventurers takes a short rest, there is a good chance one of these fey will attempt to play a prank on the party. Unless someone in the party keeps watch and succeeds a DC 17 Wisdom (Perception) check, roll on the table below to determine what kind of tomfoolery has taken place:

1 40 lb. of rocks is added to one of the party member's backpacks.
2 A random item is stolen from the party.
3 One party member has their shoelaces (or similar) tied together, causing them to fall prone as soon as they finish resting.
4 1d4 days' worth of rations is eaten.
5 The entire party has graffiti painted onto their faces.
6 If the party has multiple types of potion, the labels on two random bottles are swapped.
7 One random container in the party's possession is sealed with an arcane lock. The password can be found by solving a riddle left nearby.
8 A stink bomb with an overpowering floral scent is set off just as the party finishes their rest. It is impossible for them to smell anything else for the next 10 minutes.
9 Revolutionary propaganda is whispered into the ears of the party's mounts, draft animals, pets, familiars, and/or animal companions. For the next 24 hours, a successful DC 16 Wisdom (Animal Handling) check is required in order to get any of them to do anything.
10 One random party member is covered in glitter. They cannot benefit from being invisible until they spend 10 minutes washing it off.

Storybook Heroics. Whenever a creature reduces another creature whose level or CR is higher than its own to 0 hit points using a nonmagical weapon, that weapon counts as magical and its wielder has advantage on attacks against other creatures of the same species as the one it just slew for the next hour.
Weird Arcana
Sometimes the turbulent magics of the Feywild will manifest as random effects. When that happens, you must roll on this table and apply the result. If the table requires you to cast a spell, it always uses Charisma as the spellcasting ability; any saving throw required by this table will be equal to 8 + the caster’s Charisma modifier + the caster’s proficiency bonus. You never need any spell components to cast these spells, you do not need to concentrate on them, and you cannot choose to end them before the end of their duration.

1Your arms stretch out to double their normal length, increasing your reach by 5 feet until the end of your next turn.
2You shrink to Tiny size for the next minute.
3You can take two reactions instead of one between now and the start of your next turn.
4A random item of clothing you are wearing becomes unbearably itchy. You have disadvantage on ability checks until you take the item off and wash it.
5A jaunty hat appears on your head. It disappears after 1 minute.
6Your ears expand to enormous size for the next minute. You have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing during that time.
710 gold pieces appear in your pocket.
8If you have spell slots, you lose one of the highest level you have available.
9You grow a tail and cat ears, which can only be undone by a remove curse spell.
10You are instantly cured of any diseases, poisons or curses that are currently affecting you.
11The next time you are forced to make a saving throw, it is an automatic success.
12You cast the spell lightning bolt in a random direction.
13You cast the spell slow centered on yourself.
14You can understand all spoken and written languages for the next hour.
15If you don't have all your hit points, you gain temporary hit points, which last for 1 minute, equal to the number of hit points you have lost.
16For the next 24 hours, you gain darkvision out to a range of 120 feet.
17You cast the spell blur on a random creature within 60 feet.
18You cast the spell polymorph on yourself, transforming into a hamster.
19All of your ability scores become 7 for 1 hour.
20Your hair turns to pink-and-blue stripes for 10 days.
21Your weight increases by 2d6 pounds.
22One creature of your choice within 30 feet falls prone in comical fashion.
23If you are a spellcaster who prepares spells, you can immediately change which spells you have prepared.
24If you are wearing armor, it starts to fall apart. Your AC while wearing that armor is reduced by 1 point until you have a chance to repair it during a short or long rest.
25Your skin turns to diamond until the start of your next turn. Whenever you would take damage during that time, you take no damage but instead regain hit points equal to the damage that would be dealt.
26You feel extremely lucky. The next time you roll a 1 on an attack roll, ability check or saving throw within the next 24 hours, you can re-roll the result. You must accept the second roll.
27You forget everything that has happened to you in the last 10 days. Your memories can be restored by a remove curse spell.
28Your eyesight becomes as sharp as an eagle's. For 24 hours, you can see clearly and in detail over distances up to 10 miles.
29For the next 10 minutes, you (and only you) can hear the sound of distant windchimes.
30You cast the spell stinking cloud centered upon yourself.
31Your legs start dancing a jig of their own accord. Your base movement speed is halved for the next minute.
32For the next minute, every time you attack with a weapon, it makes strange noises like zworp and woup.
33If you are a spellcaster, you can immediately cast one spell of your choice from the spells that you know or have prepared, without spending a spell slot or using an action.
34Each creature within 90 feet of you is pushed 5 feet in a random direction. If a creature would be pushed into a creature, wall, or immovable object, it takes 1d6 bludgeoning damage.
35Your senses become incredibly alert for 1 minute. No creature within 120 feet of you can hide from you for that duration.
36One random item in your inventory turns into a flute.
37Your head doubles in size, but halves in weight until the beginning of your next turn.
38If you are carrying a quiver, bolt case, or bullet pouch that is not full of ammunition, it is magically refilled with ordinary arrows, bolts, or sling bullets as appropriate. If you have multiple containers, you can choose which one is refilled.
39You are able to hear the surface thoughts of every intelligent creature within 60 feet of you for the next minute. If there is more than one creature in this radius, you must use your action if you want to focus in on any one creature's thoughts.
40You are charmed by the nearest creature until the end of your next turn, regarding them as a trusted friend.
41Your voice becomes a deep and sonorous baritone for the next 10 minutes. You have advantage on Charisma (Performance) checks involving singing for that duration.
42A rainbow-colored circle of force surrounds you. Until the end of your next turn, you have advantage on Dexterity saving throws.
43Your Strength score is reduced by 6 (to a minimum of 1) until the end of your next turn.
44A seagull swoops down and attempts to steal a weapon from the nearest hostile creature (they can keep hold of it with a Strength or Dexterity saving throw). If they are unarmed, they instead get pecked for 1d4 piercing damage. If no hostile creatures are nearby, the seagull lurks menacingly, but otherwise does not cause any trouble.
45For the next 24 hours, any domestic cats you encounter are inexplicably friendly towards you.
46For the next hour, whenever you see natural rocks or stone, you hear the voice of a dwarf inside your head, describing to you in excruciating detail what sort of rock you are seeing, what it can be used for, where it is usually found, how it is formed and various other mundane geological lore. For the duration, you have advantage on Intelligence checks relating to stonework.
47An entire egg appears in your mouth.
48You and each creature within 30 feet of you becomes invisible until the beginning of your next turn.
49You feel cool and well-hydrated. For the next 8 hours, you have resistance to fire damage and are considered to be adapted to hot climates. You do not become thirsty or need to drink for the duration.
50If you are attuned to a magic item that has charges, all of its remaining charges are immediately drained.
51For the next hour, anyone who presses their ear up against you will hear whooshing ocean waves.
52You experience a flash of creativity and inspiration. If you are proficient in one or more types of artisan's tools, you immediately learn the recipe/design for one magic item (determined by the GM) that you did not previously know.
53Your movements become supernaturally light and graceful for one minute. You can ignore difficult terrain and leave no footprints in soft ground for that duration.
54A swarm of shimmerlings (see here) appears in a random space within 30 feet of you. Its behavior is determined by the GM and it disappears after 1 minute.
55You cast the spell water breathing on yourself and up to 9 other creatures.
56If you are in initiative order, everyone rerolls their initiative. A new round starts using the rerolled values.
57Your hair turns into snakes for one minute. The snakes are under your control, but are not strong enough to lift objects on their own, nor can they cause any damage with their bites.
58For the next 24 hours, you develop an intense phobia of animals. For the duration, whenever you come within 60 feet of a Small or larger beast, you become frightened by it.
59A hazy mist surrounds you for the next minute. You are considered to be lightly obscured from the point of view of any creature more than 30 feet away from you.
60You have advantage on death saving throws you make for the next 24 hours.
611d6 ravens appear in random unoccupied spaces within 30 feet of you. The GM determines their behavior.
62Your Intelligence score becomes 21 for 10 minutes.
63You are rotated 180 degrees in your clothes. If you are wearing light or medium armor, your speed is halved until your armor is removed. If you are wearing heavy armor, you are incapable of moving and have disadvantage on ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws until the armor is removed.
64You become proficient in all skills for 1 hour.
65You smell like summer flowers for the next 8 hours.
66You cast the spell haste on a random creature within 30 feet.
67A powerful archfey takes an interest in your struggles. The first time you are reduced to 0 hit points in the next hour, they immediately teleport to your location and stabilize you. The GM then determines their behavior further.
68A cow falls from the sky at a random point within 60 feet of you. Any creature underneath it must make a Dexterity saving throw or take 16 (3d10) bludgeoning damage. If you are indoors, the cow smashes through roofs and ceilings until it hits the ground. If you are underground, re-roll this result.
69If there are any undead within 120 feet of you, you feel a tingling sensation. You can tell how many undead there are, but not what types or precisely where they are located.
70For the next hour, if you begin your turn with fewer than half your hit points, you regain 1d6 hit points.
71You burst into flames, taking 1d4 fire damage. You continue to take 1d4 fire damage at the start of each of your turns until you or another creature uses an action to extinguish the flames.
72You have resistance to cold and fire damage for the next minute.
73If you have a familiar or animal companion, it gains the ability to speak Common for the next 10 minutes.
74One random creature within 120 feet of you that has an Intelligence score of 5 or more must make a Charisma saving throw or immediately roll on the Short-Term madness table.
75Your body begins to hum with stored magical energy. The next time you make an ability check, you instead make a Charisma check with advantage to channel the stored magic into whatever it was you were trying to accomplish.
76A dose of heartfreeze poison (see the poison section) slides down your throat.
77Roll on this table twice and apply both results. If you get this result on one or both of the secondary rolls, ignore it.
78You are clear of thought and have advantage on Wisdom saving throws you make for the next hour.
79All locks within 60 feet of you are instantaneously opened.
80You become ghostlike, as per the spell etherealness, for the next minute.
81A cold rider (see Fey Folio, Tundra Update, or use a wight instead) upon a warhorse skeleton with plate barding appears in a random location within 300 feet of you. The rider is hostile towards you.
82For the next week, whenever you need to make a choice, a Tiny angel and devil appear on your shoulders to debate the morality of the situation.
83The next spell you cast counts as being cast from a slot level one higher than whatever slot you expend.
84Beams of furious arcane energy erupt from your eyes. Choose a creature that you can see to take 2d8 fire damage.
85You regain all of your expended hit dice.
86A banana peel appears under your foot when you next move, causing you to fall prone and lose the rest of your movement.
87You say all your thoughts aloud for the next hour.
88All of your ability scores become 18 for 1 hour.
89For the next 24 hours, your hair and fingernails grow at 100 times the normal rate.
90If you are outside, heavy snow falls in a 1-mile radius of you for the next 24 hours. If you are inside or underground, re-roll this result.
91Your bones liquefy, collapsing your body into a meaty pile until the beginning of your next turn. While liquefied, you are paralyzed. When this effect ends, you re-solidify instantly, but are no longer wearing or holding anything.
92You cast the spell detect magic.
93All of the possessions you are holding, carrying, or wearing (including your clothing), are teleported to random locations within 30 feet of you.
94The next attack roll that you make that does not have disadvantage automatically hits.
95Disembodied dramatic music cues accompany all of your actions for the next 24 hours.
96All your currency is transformed into chocolate coins for 1 hour. After this time, all uneaten coins return to their original material.
97A knight appears in a random space within 30 feet of you. It is under your control but disappears after 1 minute.
98You are struck with the sudden sensation that you're not real―none of this is real. Thankfully, after a moment, the feeling passes.
99You feel refreshed and restored. You instantaneously gain the benefits of a short rest, including the opportunity to spend hit dice.
00Every attack roll you make on your next turn is a critical hit.

Changelog: 07/16/2020: clarifications to hallucinating condition. References for shimmerlings and cold riders added.
20/07/2020: result 33 on the weird arcana table, spell must be one you know or have prepared.


  1. Awesome! Really cool stuff.

    Respect and prestige are very similar to Theros's Piety mechanic, btw.

    Is a creature with truesight immune to hallucinations? What about one with mind blank, or charm immunity? Can it be cured with any spell?

    1. Oh, cool. I haven't actually read the Theros book so thanks for pointing that out. I'll have to make sure we don't step on their toes too much if and when this all gets published.

      The conditions should be seen as a work in progress. The list will probably change and expand over time. For hallucinating, I would rule that truesight does not foil it (and I'll add wording to that effect), but the clause "effects of similar power used to affect the target’s mind" in Mind Blank should protect against hallucinations.

  2. Would you say that these might be a good table for wild magic surge? Or is that way too much? Cause all of this is great and hilarious.

    1. Yes, this is absolutely intended to be usable as an alternative to WMS. When we wrote it, we counted up the proportions of good/neutral/bad outcomes on the WMS table, and used the same proportions for Weird Arcana. It should work fine as a direct replacement.

    2. You may want to alter it slightly though (at least I did, myself): the entries that refer to the character's weapons, armour o prepared spells might very well be moot for a sorcerer.

    3. That's fair. We made an effort with this one to be less sorcerer-centric, since our other Feywild material introduces a number of situations where the weird arcana table is called for, which could potentially be triggered by people other than sorcerers. But if you *were* using this solely for a wild magic sorcerer, there probably are a couple of entries that are a bit irrelevant.

    4. Indeed, I understand that! Just pointing it out ahead of time in case anybody else would like to use it as a wild magic surge table as well.

  3. If your skin turns to diamond, can your insides be seen?

    Option 33 allows Wish, Clone, etc. Should probably be reworded to "a spell on your list of a level you can cast".

    47 does not specify egg species. A phoenix egg appearing in your mouth will HURT.

    68: fetchez la vache!

    1. Diamond is only clear when it's cut in very specific ways, so probably not. But I don't mind if a DM rules otherwise.

      Good catch, that is definitely what we intended.

      Indeed. DM's call!

      In soviet Feywild, cow pets you!

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  5. Weird Arcana could be improved by making the 9 effect take place on 9 through 99, nya~.

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