Planes Leaking Into The Prime

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Samloyal23
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Planes Leaking Into The Prime

So, I am working on a few different campaign settings of my own, and one of them has a section that has been taken over by Arawn, the Celtic god of the Underworld. So this region, which expands or contracts its borders depending on his level of influence, fades into his Outer Planar realm. The it is still part of the Prime Material Plane, but the deeper you go into it, the more like his domain it becomes. At some point you take a step too far and leave the Prime without even noticing it.

So, what kinds of effects and encounters should character run into while travelling there? What hazards should there be? Any specific NPCs based on Celtic lore who should be there? I am open to suggestions...

Palomides
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Which Direction?

I guess the first thing to ask is what you think of when picturing the Celtic underworld. Are you thinking of a land of languishing dead like the Grey Wastes or something truer to Celtic myth which generally viewed the afterlife in positive terms?
If you embrace the positive Tir naNog (Land of Youth) take, the encounters would be more inspired by Feywild/Elysium themes (I personally placed the island that King Arthur was sent when he died and sailed off on the plane of Elysium).

sciborg2
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I think this is an

I think this is an interesting question, and I don't necessarily think it's either/or. There can be a fey quality to it, maybe a Dark Souls type land that seems empty save for spirits and fey. But even the fey might be of the dead as well rather than the living.

Perhaps the dead and living co-exist at these boundaries. Admittedly it's been some time since I read On Hallowed Ground, which I think gave Arawn a realm of some sort...maybe mix in that place's characteristics.

Samloyal23
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For campaign purposes, I see

For campaign purposes, I see the Arawn as an antagonist, so his realm eating pieces of the Prime is a Bad Thing, a creeping darkness that gains and loses territory as the politics of the region goes back and forth. It is a looming threat in the background of the campaign.

Palomides
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Starting Point

Based on the Welsh tradition (the Irish might be a bit different), the Celtic afterlife was a bit different than most in that it had more than one ruler - similar to the semi-warring tribes of the Celtic world.

One epic details Arawn and his kingdom being bordered by a rival kingdom led by a being called Hafgan. Ultimately, Arawn defeats his rival to become the most powerful of the afterlife's warlords.
So, you might have Arawn's actions in the mortal realm being a reaction to the politics of the afterlife. Some possibilities:
-Hafgan has been regaining territory in the afterlife at a surprising speed so Arawn's activities in the Prime are gamble to regain power that was lost
-With his power consolidated, Arawn now has turned his attention to gaining more power in the Prime. In this case, the weakened Hafgan might become an ally or a rallying point for your PCs. (But if Hafgan rises to dominance, there is no guarantee that he won't be even worse)

Regarding Arawn himself, he was often depicted as a patient hunter. ("Long is the day and long is the night, and long is the waiting of Arawn")
While an apt metaphor for death, it also defined a lot of his "recreation" with many tales of him hunting stag in the wild (and woe to you if you poach the game that Arawn had been chasing). So I could see a lot of dark atmosphere being created by themes of the PCs being stalked and toyed with by this powerful entity. Themes of "The Most Dangerous Game" and other tales where a person is hunted like an animal.

Arawn is served by the Cŵn Annwn or "Hounds of Annwn" who have an eerie baying (possibly the ancient Celts conflated the cries of migrating geese with the sound of baying supernatural hounds). I could see these dogs being intelligent and serving a role similar to Tolkien's Nazgul: creating fear, hunting down foes of their master that are beneath his immediate concern, etc.

Another factor to possibly include was that Arawn could also be generous. There are many tales of him bestowing great kills upon which his friends could feast. If you want to keep Arawn a menacing figure, this generosity could be more arbitrary. He might terrorize a person and then grant a gift for the "amusement" the mortal brought by surviving through the night; but he might just as likely be annoyed and mercilessly kill the individual who denied him his victory. A foe that the PCs can't predict can be terrifying if done right.

Samloyal23
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I totally forgot about Hafgan

I totally forgot about Hafgan, I need to read up on him. Cŵn Annwn would fit well in the setting I am working on, I need to find stats for them. The fey and Celtic gods are perilous, even when they are being nice, they are still kind of fucking with you, it is part of what makes them so compelling.