Traditional fairy-stories and fairy-lore are a perfect fit for the surreal tale. There's a whole land out there, somewhere, that's not on any map, with invisible entrances in hills or at the bottom of lakes that are only open sometimes. Follow an enchanting melody or a spectacularly unusual beast into the deep woods and you are likely to be "fairy-led", stumbling into this unnatural realm.
In this D&D variant, all monsters other than ordinary animals and humans come from fairy-land. Elves, dwarves, and halflings do, too; despite the differences in appearance and ability, all three are considered one group, "Fae", and are considered the same species as humans, just fae-touched. Any half- or full-fae offspring, regardless of specific parentage, has a random chance of being one of the three. Player character fae are called "changelings" and grow up in human society, possibly with no memories of fairy-land.
Magic only works as described when in fairy-land. Otherwise, spells only take effect by coincidental events: roll 1d6 per spell level for the number of days the effect is delayed.
Example 1: Read Languages allows a character to decipher codes or inscriptions in a foreign language after 2d6 days of study.
Example 2: a Fireball spell will cause a victim to burn himself 3d6 days after the spell is cast.
The delay roll is interpreted as hours instead of days if the caster performs a mundane action that would produce a similar effect.
Example 3: Casting Read Languages and then studying books on a foreign culture would allow deciphering a text in a language from that culture after 2d6 hours.
Example 4: A Cure Light Wounds cast while preparing an herbal poultice and praying continually can restore hit points after 1d6 hours.
Clerical turning is an exception. The undead are considered part of the otherworld, and it is the task of priests to keep the otherworld at bay. In fact, a cleric can attempt to turn or dispel fae creatures and phenomenon as if it were undead of the same number of hit dice. Treat minor phenomena as skeletons.
Caves, ruins, and mundane dungeons are not treated as "Dungeon Level 1," but as wilderness, stocked with vermin, wild beasts, and outlaws. Unless occupied by humans, the only traps in such places are pits and deadfalls. However, sometimes people wander into fairy-land, or are taken. It's never certain: roll dice for PCs in the following situations:
- reading a magical inscription or scroll: 1d6
- traveling by twilight: 1d6
- visiting a spot known as "fae-touched": 1d6
- seeing something "fae-touched" (aside from changelings): 2d6
- being "fairy-led" or following someone who is: 3d6
- seeing or using magic: 4d6
There will be more in an upcoming post.