Sunday 12 February 2012

Jaggerbad Skyhouse

In January I had my first article published in Dungeon magazine: "Jaggerbad Skyhouse", a tavern strapped to the back of a colossal iron dragon. I've been waiting for months to see this published, as I actually wrote it back in June 2010. I remember my initial submission was very spontaneous. I was browsing the D&D website during my lunch hour, and noticed that their submission window was just about to end. I fired off a quick pitch and then promptly forgot about it. As it happened, I struck lucky: they were doing a new series on taverns, and my submission looked like it may fit the bill.

The "Jaggerbad Skyhouse" (or "Nucleuft") as it appeared in my 3E campaign log. Note the guns!
Jaggerbad Skyhouse was first conceived back in my 3E days, where it served as an exclusive flying hotel for the Gnome King. No planar travel, and certainly no Summer Queen, but the atmosphere was the same. I played a one-on-one adventure there with my friend Giles, whose gnome illusionist unravelled a high-flying assassination plot conducted by a shape-shifting succubus.

I figured I'd need a twist to tie it into 4E lore, so I made it skip between planes and connected it to the Court of Stars. One of the things I really like about 4E is that push towards planar adventuring in the Paragon and Epic tiers, so I figured DMs could use something that actually gets them there. I also love the feywild, so I wanted to write something that felt true to that. Lastly, I knew Giles would curse my name forever if I didn't slip Miramar in there somehow: so there she is, number 10 on the NPC table,"Gnome Illusionist riding a Beholder" (Stacey's 4E character also smuggled himself in at number 4: "Turbaned, gold-painted dwarf").

One of the great things about submitting to Wizards is wondering who they'll get to draw your cover art. In my case, I got lucky. They commissioned Adam Paquette, and if you've seen the picture, I think you'll agree his rendition of the Jaggerbad is truly wondrous (sadly it hides behind the paywall). On the day it was published I was headed down to Cornwall, and it went live just as my taxi turned up. I risked missing my train while my painfully-slow internet connection spooled the picture through - but it was worth the wait, and I had a smile on my face that lasted the whole journey.

Bracken would like you to join him on an adventure...

I think the article's gone down well. I've had a great comment here on the blog, and the comments over at the Wizards site and on EN World have been incredible.

Last year, I introduced the Skyhouse into our ongoing 4E campaign. For my players, it was like being part of an early screening. As it happened, only one member of the group made it on board, so I had the other players take on temporary roles. Interestingly, the character that made it belonged to Giles (so for sanity's sake I took his 3E character off the random NPC table!)

The encounter we played was intentionally very weird, with a strong fairytale theme. It's sometimes difficult to pull these ones off: you have to counterbalance all those twee moments with a healthy dab of darkness. In a sense, if you're going to lay on some Labyrinth, you'd better serve it with a side order of Pan's Labyrinth.

Anyway, I thought it would be a nice present to write it up and serve it as a companion piece to the Dungeon article. So here it is: a side-trek for any level that takes your players on a strange, dreamlike journey through the tavern's upper floor.



  1. I have only just, years later, discovered the Jaggerbad Skyhouse, and I wanted to let you know I consider it a great addition to D&D. I'll actually be using it tonight as a means of explaining how our Eladrian character fled her royal destiny and escaped the Feywild.

    Bravo, Sir.

    1. Thanks, Damon! Jaggerbad Skyhouse still stands as one of my favourite pieces of writing for Wizards. I love the hook you've got going there. Sounds like your player may be indebted to Fly for that journey, which could spell trouble later!

  2. I fell in love with the concept when this was first published, and I finally got a chance to use it as a setting for my 5E campaign (slightly tweaked). Thanks so much for coming up with this fun location.


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