Mark S. Cookman
20 Things to Find in a Witch's Lair
This is the second of my October posts for 2016. Today, we are going to explore another spooky location; this time we'll be discussing the lairs of witches. The first question that you must answer when designing a witch's lair is, of course, which witch? In other words, what kind of witch is this lair for.
Numerous elements must be considered about the NPC before the lair can be planned. This is NOT a one-size fits all kind of situation. Here are some of the questions the GM must consider:
What is the witch's alignment?
Where do her powers come from?
Does the witch live far from people or does she blend in among them?
Do people know she is a witch or is she concealing her identity?
What are the climate and terrain in the area like?
Does the witch choose more often to help people or to hinder them?
Once you have some of this basic information the type and style of lair will begin to form in your mind. Now all you have to do is record the details. Let me give you an example that we will base today's list from.
Name: Ivy Villosa
Powers: 8th Level Druid with Herbalism proficiency
Ivy chooses to live in the Daerkwood, far away from most people. She has never claimed to be a witch, a druid, or a spell caster of any kind. Yet whisperers named her the green witch. The Daerkwood is a primeval forest in a temperate climate. Ivy doesn't turn away those who need help, but she doesn't go out of her way to help the villagers either.
With just these few facts about the NPC, you can begin to fill in the blanks in the rest of the picture of Ivy's lair. Even though Ivy lives in a temperate, primeval forest, she doesn't seem the type to live inside a large candy-covered pastry cabin, nor does she seem the type to live in a hut that walks around on giant chicken legs. Honestly, Ivy doesn't seem like the type of "witch" to have a traditional lair at all. Remembering to apply the rule that all places the PC's might explore should be interesting or unique, plus given her mastery of the Wild Shape discipline, I'd put Ivy's Lair about 275' up in the high branches of a Mountain Ash tree. The quickest way up is to turn into a bird; you have to be able to turn into a squirrel (or similar-sized creature) to be able to maneuver through the tunnels to the various chambers that hold the few possessions that she keeps.
Some old fishing gear that looks like it hasn't been used in years.
A silver dog whistle
A small cache of gemstones worth about 3,000 gp.
A collection of mistletoe, yew, spruce, holly, and oak parts divided up and stored in pouches to be spell components.
An herbalist's work table with a mortar and pestle, scales, tools, several different types of herbs, as well as previoulsy created potions and tictures.
A detailed map of the surrounding forest enscribed on a tanned dearskin.
Personal letters written in a script that no one can fathom. (It is coded druid's cant, but who knows what the witch hunters will call it)
Skulls of various creatures including humans and demi-humans.
A medium-sized wooden trunk full of items needed for overland travel, such as a backpack, rope, iron rations, etc. Basically it's an adventurer's kit, but it is OLD.
A pair of well-read tomes on herbalism and plant identification.
Several small barrels of collected rainwater hidden throughout the branches of the tree.
A small collection of personal clothing, items and trinkets.
A large chamber (in the tree) filled with various edible fruits, nuts, and berries.
A collection of highly-detailed carved wooden animal figurines.
A dragon chess set in the middle of a game. Neither side appears to be dominate at this early stage of the game.
A small piece of star quartz crystal set up to be used as a magical focus.
A natural-colored hammock that blends in completely with the foliage of the tree.
A well-used black cauldron that is clearly employed for cooking up gods know what.
A small broomstick that is only good for sweeping.
An unfinished adventurer's journal, which tells the tale of a young druid and her party of friends exploring a nearby cave system some years ago.