(inspired by myth, tale, and metal)
A few of the things that inspire me when I create story lines and NPCs for role playing games are mythology, fairy tales, and knight stories. I love trying to bring that mystery and whimsy to the table, trying to really make the game feel like a fantasy.
So, in that context, here is part One of a three part series- NPC and Adventure Ideas: Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Enjoy.
Who They Are
You’ve heard tale among the common folk of wise women in the forest, living alone in a cottage where they tend a garden and give council to passing strangers. They never ask for money, but their wisdom always has a price.
The Maiden, Mother, and Crone are three women that live alone in an old forest, though usually a days walk near a small village or town. As their title suggests, they consist of a young lady, a middle aged woman, and a wizened elder.
Of course, they are much more than they appear…
The Maiden – young, bright, vibrant
She always appears youthful and vibrant, with hair that is the color of gold or sun-lit straw. She has bright blue eyes and a smiling face. She is usually encountered laying down seeds, or tending to cages of rabbits or the cottage apiary.
Her personality is a colorful one, and she is generally cheerful and playful. This borders on flirtatious. She enjoys talking and seems full of energy. Even so, those who spend a small amount of time with her can tell that she also possesses a bright intelligence as well as mischievous wit.
She is usually dressed in a simple white summer dress, belted with a golden chord around her waist. Depending on weather she may wear a bright green hooded cloak.
The Mother – warm, hard-working, crafty
A middle aged woman with deep green eyes and auburn hair. Her face is etched with laugh lines and a few creases. She is quieter than the maiden, and tends to sit and listen. Her advice is always warm and maternal, though she also seems to like to joke every once in awhile. She is usually encountered pulling up rooted vegetables, collecting honey from the apiary, or harvesting from the garden. She also likes to play a simple folk harp, and sings with a very beautiful voice.
She generally wears dark greens or browns, preferring simple robes with no ornament.
The Crone – wise, silent, elderly
She is the quietest one, saying only those things that seem to need to be said. She always wears a black hooded cloak, and she has white hair like winter snow. Her eyes are dark brown, nearing to black. She seems very old, but not frail, like some inner strength animates her body.
She spends most of her time in the cottage, generally fussing over the kitchen cauldron or hanging dead rabbits to be skinned. She also loves to knit, and when sitting her hands are always in motion creating blankets or socks. On her belt always hangs a small sickle that she never seems to use.
The preceding is the outward appearance of these women, and how the PCs would perceive them without delving. In truth, these women are magical.
They are for game purposes considered fey.
The three spend their time at their cottage, and like to be around common folk. They tend to be very irreverent towards nobility. They also tend to keep a low profile, and only those in the nearby vicinity know of them, and then only as three odd women in the wood.
The area around their cottage is their ‘domain’, and those with knowledge or skill to see will notice that the area is enchanted to suit their purposes. The plants are greener than they should be, the flowers brighter and animals more gentle.
You approach the cottage on a midsummer’s day, the sun shining brightly but not uncomfortably. You hear the sounds of birds, the chatter of animals, and the buzzing of bees. The cottage sits in a wide clearing, made of stacked stone with a roof of bundled straw.
Out front, a young maiden scatters seeds as chickens surround her, clucking and pecking. When she sees you on the worn path, she smiles, and raises a hand slowly in welcome.
Adventure and Story Ideas
- Warlock’s Fey Pact – The three could grant a person fey power in return for a bit of their soul or spirit.
- Oath of the Green Knight – The three could grant their favor to a knight dedicated to protecting the commons and the natural world.
- Wisdom or Boon in Exchange for a Task – The three charge no money, but they can ask for a favor in return for information.
- Quest Hub for a Quest Line – The three could be a focus for quests, providing a line of adventures dealing with them and their background.
- Contacts for Knowledge/Lore – The three could be a contact for the party.
The first two things that came to my mind when thinking about these remarkable women were Warlocks and Paladins. I believe The Maiden, Mother, and Crone trinity would make a wonderful focus for either a Fey Pact Warlock or a Green Knight type of Oath for the paladin. So in this way, they can be used as background for a character. I can also see them as the sort of people who would give a Quest for a questing knight in return for their favor or a boon.
The women tend to dislike to meddle much in the affairs of others, preferring to give advice and see how things turn out. They do, however, love gossip, and tend to know all the best gossip of the village near them without ever going there. They are friendly to all, though can be mischievous if the mood suits them.
As far as adventuring purposes, the wise women could grant a boon in exchange for a favor from the party. Or could be a way to give your players advice within the confines of the game for an ongoing adventure. I will detail a more complete adventure idea later.
The three women are sitting when you enter the cottage, which seems bigger on the inside than it looks like from outside. The inside of the cottage is filled with clutter and items, many of them homemade. Books line leaning shelves, baskets filled with near everything are stuck in every corner. A large cat lies on top of a stack of errant books, purring lazily.
The maiden sits by a large table, painting a small wooden figure. The mother sits by the fireplace, plucking at a simple wooden harp. The crone sits in the corner, next to a large cauldron. She does nothing, but looks at you from within her hood.
For Play Purposes
In game I would assume the women to be mid-level fey individually, but to together possess a lot more power. They would avoid direct confrontation, however, preferring illusion and enchantment.
The Maiden and the Mother I see as Neutral Good, and the Crone I see as True Neutral.
The biggest purpose I see for this set of NPCs would be as a quest hub, providing a quest line for the party that would slowly reveal who they are and their true purpose, whatever that might be. They could also be used (or be used after those quests) as a contact for lore and knowledge, providing the players with valuable advice for their current adventures.
So there is Part 1, and I hope it got those creative juices flowing. The next part will deal with their setting, most importantly their magical cottage as well as items they possess and how the party might obtain them. It will also provide ideas dealing with coming across the cottage while the three are not home. The part after that, part 3, will be a more complete and involved adventure idea.