Have I mentioned how much I love mythology and folklore yet? No? Ok then…
I LOVE mythology and folklore!! I especially love incorporating folklore into my RPG settings in new and interesting ways; introducing opportunities for empathy and “gray area” while still staying faithful to certain key elements of the original tales. One example of this is the Iyasteran take on Red Caps.
The first Red Cap tales originate in Anglo-Saxon and Scottish folklore, which depict the goblin-like creatures as murderous and malevolent beings who attack travelers. They wield sharp axes, wear iron boots, and wear bright red caps that are said to have been soaked in the blood of their victims.
The Red Caps of Iyastera have a couple of key differences: First, their caps are red because they are “born” from red fairy rings, rather than the despair of lost and wounded souls– they’re are actually quite offended if you suggest such a horrible thing!
Second, they do retain their infamous tempers, but with a very different kind of motivation…
When the Lucky 13 found themselves transported to the Feywild, they quickly learned how easy it is to get lost: they were immediately separated after passing through the portal. Two passed through without issue, while others found themselves in a field of enchanted mushrooms, in the den of a sleeping beast, or dropped in the middle of a Sprite village (quickly being surrounded by the angry denizens)!
Once they were able to free themselves from their respective challenges, they decided to keep track of their progress by leaving a mark of some sort behind them…small notches in the trees as they passed by. A couple of days later, the party is forced to learn the error of their ways when a band of very angry Red Caps bursts into their campsite. Unlike in the tales from our plane, these Red Caps aren’t just roving the planes looking for blood to spill…they have a very specific role in protecting the trees in the Fey forest.
The trees in the Feywild are more aware than those in the Material Plane and, although they cannot speak in the same way humanoids can, they are able to send messages whispering through the canopy of leaves, to the Red Caps’ watchtower miles away. A call for help when intruders disrespect the forest or cause unnecessary harm…so when they came upon our unsuspecting heroes, they were full of righteous park ranger rage!
Unaware of their transgressions, the Lucky 13 sprang into action and fought off the band Red Caps until just one remained…and the truth of their attack was revealed. To make amends, the party helped bring the wounded Red Caps back to the watchtower and promised to help protect the forest in any way they can. In return, the last Red Cap gave the party one of their special tools: the Barktongue Axe (you may recognize it from this month’s Patreon updates)!
Armed with this gift, the Lucky 13 continued on their journey…hopefully a bit more mindfully this time!