Fey should be weird things, unfamiliar and odd and horrid. Satyrs are perhaps some of the more approachable, at least in the tabletop fantasy game tradition, where they’re just lovable scamps with a penchant for partying. But what about when their revels take a dark twist? What greater, stranger fey show up when they go hunting for human parties to crash, then ruin, and finally make violent?
The Trumpeter of the Dark Woods is such a creature, designed to haunt a party of heroes beneath the shadowed boughs of the forest when they’ve trespassed where they should not have. It can step handily from tree to tree, unleashing a blast of damaging noise before using its fear-causing abilities to keep heroes away from its fey allies – who’re likely harassing the enemy with their own bows and spells. It should take advantage of limited lines of sight to follow its enemies, taunting them with musical performances and mocking jigs.
The inspiration and art for the Trumpeter of the Dark Woods come from a 15th Century Book of Hours. It is part of the Public Domain Adventures series, all based on works in the public domain.
TRUMPETER OF THE DARK WOODS
Medium fey, chaotic neutral
Armor Class 14 (natural armor)
Hit Points 71 (13d8+13)
Speed fly 10 ft.
STR 12 (+1) DEX 8 (-1) CON 12 (-1) INT 14 (+2) WIS 10 (+0) CHA 14 (+2)
Saving Throws Wis +4, Cha +2
Skills Perception +2, Performance +8, Stealth +1
Senses darkvision 60ft., passive Perception 12
Proficiency Bonus +2
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)
Magic Resistance. The trumpeter has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Detect Celebration. The trumpeter can magically detect intelligent creatures having any form of festival or celebration up to 5 miles away. It knows the general direction they’re in but not their exact locations.
Darkwood Step. By moving into an area of shadow, the trumpeter can instantly teleport to any other shadowed area within 60 feet. Both shadows must be caused by some natural terrain feature, e.g. it cannot be caused by a creature or man-made object like a building.
Basso of Blasting. Recharge 5-6. The trumpeter blows on its horn, causing a destructive musical blast in a 45-foot cone. Each creature in the cone must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw. On a failed save, a creature takes 4d6 thunder damage and is deafened for 1 minute. On a successful save, a creature takes half as much damage and isn’t deafened. Creatures and objects made from glass or crystal have disadvantage on the saving throw and take 8d6 thunder damage instead of 4d6. The noise of the blast is audible up to 600 feet away.
Hornblow of Horror. The trumpeter plays an unsettling tune on its horn. Any non-friendly, non-fey creature within 60 feet of the trumpeter must make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw or be frightened for 1 minute.
Two-Handed Trumpet. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 7 (1d12 + 1) bludgeoning damage.
“Beware the shadowed woods,
where satyrs play and frolic-
Though they offer you fine goods,
or a cure for baby’s colic.
For their trumpeters oft play,
such a melancholy tune-
The last you’ll ever hear,
it leads you to your doom.”
-From a Peasant’s Song
At the largest Satyr revels, those sponsored by the foul fey monarchs like those of air, or darkness, the trumpeters of the dark woods appear. Bloated, floating creatures of odd comportment, their ability to blow upon a horn is nonetheless quite incredible. Either levelling a swathe of threats to the revels with one blast on their massive trumpets or inspiring deep dread with another tune. Indeed, their instruments are so large that some trumpeters even wade into melee, wielding the weapon like a greatclub.
While they do float slowly along, the trumpeter’s ability to move into one shadow and exit another allow them to skirmish quite unpredictably alongside a battle party of satyrs or other fey.