Hairable Terrain — A Beardomantic Encounter for 5E D&D
For our April Patreon rewards we released Hairable Ideas, a follow up to last year’s Beardomancy. This proved one of our most popular products ever! Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons players and Dungeon Masters alike enjoyed adding beardomancy magic to their campaigns and player wizards following this new Arcane Tradition. One of the players in Nerdarchist Ted’s D&D In A Castle 2019 campaign played a School of Beardomancy wizard as a matter of fact. So when April rolled around this year we knew we wanted to take another trip to the Beard Dimension and came up with lots of new spells and subclasses drawing on beardomantic energy. Of course there’s monsters and magic items too, but one of the snippets left on the cutting room floor was Hairable Terrain, an encounter based on the content and a play on our classic Terrible Terrain material. Since Hairable Ideas is now over at Nerdarchy the Store we thought it would be fun to include this encounter here on the website in a post. So let’s get into it.
From the dark corners of the Beard Dimension
A renowned dwarven barber and stylist, Mehdrash Silvershear operates an upscale salon serving the needs of the local community for whom coiffage is an important part of life. The wise dwarf invested in the space just over a year ago after a patron shared a rumor about a strange new kind of magic called beardomancy. Mehdrash, a savvy business owner in addition to his skill with a pair of scissors, researched the potential phenomenon. He managed to track down a beardomancer, an elven wizard named Yunaesthalanthalas, and through her reached the small beardomancy community.
After determining what he believed to be an optimal place to set up this new shop, convenient to the growing beardomancy cohort, Mehdrash found success caring for these specialized haircare needs. The dwarf is also spectacular with shears and business grew as quickly as the magical whiskers of a beardomancer.
But Mehdrash is in trouble. Several weeks ago while his young human apprentice Bognar prepared to close up the salon one night, a strange customer arrived seeking service. This person was an evil Shaggy Soul sorcerer, whose connection to energies from the darkest corners of the Beard Dimension manifest as strange hair-related powers. The sorcerer, Shaggoth, was covered completely in long hair from head to toe. After Bognar snipped a single hair, Shaggoth got up, thanked him for the service, paid including a comb of growth as a tip and left.
A few nights later Shaggoth’s evil plan came to fruition. The comb of growth, so near to the strong beardomantic energy of beard trimmings from Mehdrash’s frequent beardomancer customers, absorbed tremendous amount of power and spawned a crinis spinner.
The loathsome fiend began it’s vile work with poor Bognar, who the creature strangled to death with his own locks and then fashioned a host body in the likeness of the apprentice barber. The crinis spinner fashioned a lair for itself beneath Mehdrash’s salon, which continues to grow in power as the fiend collects more hair.
Urban/Barbershop or salon
Hirsute bearded devils (2)
Angel’s lock, arcane razor, spell scroll of blessing of Samson
The adventurers arrive in town from their latest quest, laden with treasure and weary from travel. Once they’ve had an opportunity to relax and get a room at the local inn, an elven woman named Yunaesthalanthalas contacts the characters in a most unusual way. The woman, who goes by Yun, is a powerful beardomancer and appears in their midst through the transport via beard spell, stepping forth from the beard of one of the adventurers or a nearby commoner if no adventurers have a beard from which to step forth. Yun explains that she learned of the party through beardgury and believes they can help with a serious threat to the area. (Beardgury and transport via beard are spells from Beardomancy, the precursor to Hairable Ideas.)
She explains that a fiend from the Beard Dimension called a crinis spinner slipped from that place into the world. Its presence threatens not only her fellow beardomancers but any and all creatures with hair. The creature is obsessed with hair, which it harvests from its victims skulls and uses to construct a lair. Yun offers to reward the party with an angel’s lock and a powerful scroll of beardomantic magic containing the blessing of Samson spell if they can find and eliminate the threat. She suggests visiting Mehdrash’s salon in town to begin the investigation.
Locating the salon is no trouble at all. The place opens daily a couple of hours before noon and closes in the early evening. Mehdrash arrives about 30 minutes before opening and his apprentice Bognar comes in the afternoon, closing up shop each night after the master stylist leaves about an hour or two before the end of the business day.
Characters who remain outside observing the salon as customers come and go during business hours see Mehdrash plying his trade through storefront window, joined later in the afternoon by Bognar. None of the characters see Bognar arrive and enter the salon, but those who succeed on a DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check notice something very peculiar after a magnificently bearded male human leaves the salon. A sizable clump of hair, not unusual to see around the salon, seems to follow the man, snaking forward and swirling about in the breeze not far behind him.
The clump of hair is actually a hirsute bearded devil. Two of these fiends serve the crinis spinner as spies and shock troops. Whenever a beardomancer visits Mehdrash’s salon, one of the devils follows the wizard to learn where they live, returning later with the crinis spinner to murder the beardomancer and add their magical hair and whiskers to its lair. Following and keeping up with the fiend, assuming any characters detect its presence, is a skill challenge requiring four successful DC 16 skill checks. If the party accumulates three failures, the skill challenge fails and the hirsute bearded devil eludes them. A character may only make a skill check for a skill they have proficiency in, and each character may only attempt a particular skill check once. Encourage players to explain what skill they wish to use and how it could help. Feel free to suggest these appropriate skills for this skill challenge:
- Arcana. Recognize the magical nature of the hair clump and keep it in sight.
- Insight. Anticipate the hair clump’s behavior and movements.
- Investigation. Notice subtle clues about the hair clump’s activity.
- Perception. Keep a sharp eye on the hair clump without losing sight.
- Stealth. Remain unnoticed by the hair clump or it’s quarry.
- Survival. Pick up tracks and signs of the hair clump’s passing.
You might consider giving characters advantage in this skill challenge if they have existing connections to beardomancy or the Beard Dimension. Beardomancy has grown fuller and lusher over time. Character options and new content including the Hirsute Creature Template and new monsters, magic items and spells in this encounter can be found in these sources:
- Hairable Ideas
- Entangle Your 5E D&D Characters with New Beardomantic Feats
- Taking Chances
Confronting the crinis spinner in its lair puts adventurers on the razor’s edge of peril. The fiend spun a lair thick with the shorn locks of beardomancer and mundane folk alike, burrowing deep into the earth beneath the salon where Mehdrash and Bognar sweep the clippings into a convenient deep natural vertical shaft. In the darkness below the crinis spinner gathers power and stimulates the growth of dark beardomantic energy into the Material Plane.
Adventurers can discover the lair several ways. Following one of the hirsute bearded devils back to the shop, they’ll see it return to the hair disposal tunnel. Tailing Bognar will lead to the disguised crinis spinner’s attack on a new victim, which adventurers can intervene with like they do. In this situation the crinis spinner’s overwhelming motivation is escaping back to its lair.
Reaching the lair itself involves descending 100 feet down the vertical shaft beneath the salon. The entire shaft is covered in hair clippings, making it difficult terrain. In addition 2d6 hirsute dretches hide within the spun hair to attack nonfiends descending the shaft.
Characters who search through the clippings along the walls of the shaft who succeed on a DC 16 Intelligence (Investigation) or Wisdom (Perception) check discover odds and ends of remains from the crinis spinner’s victims. Feel free to roll on the trinket chart or your favorite random chart of stuff. You might also consider sprinkling in clues or hooks to other adventures or individual character backstories. Among these findings is an arcane razor, all that remains of an agent from the Order of the Whisker. (This organization isn’t a thing…yet! Name subject to change.)
Unless the adventurers follow Bognar into its lair while the crinis spinner is aware, they will find the fiendish creature at the very bottom of the shaft in a round chamber 30 feet across. The creature’s Woven Chrysalis hangs suspended 10 feet off the ground by ropy strands of hair tethered to the walls and ceiling.
This is the part where the adventurers fight the evil fiend from the Beard Dimension.
If any character brandishes the arcane razor the crinis spinner reacts with great alarm and must make a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw. If it fails it becomes frightened of the character holding the arcane razor. It can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. A character can expend all of the arcane razor’s charges and target the crinis spinner, which must succeed on a DC 16 Constitution saving throw or be stunned until the end of its next turn. Let the player know their character feels a tremendous surge of beardomantic energy and they can choose to expend all the charges this way but don’t tell them what the effect will be. For such a powerful effect you might have everyone make a saving throw, with any failures causing hair loss but without the stunning effect.
A character who uses their action to scour the chamber and succeeds on a DC 25 Intelligence (Investigation) or barber’s tools check discovers the crinis spinner’s Control Comb, a finely crafted silver comb with an inscription in Dwarvish that reads “It’s not just a haircut, it’s an experience.” This is Bognar’s comb, given to him by Mehdrash as a gift. Breaking the comb, which has AC 15 and 10 hit points, destroys the source of the crinis spinner’s power, preventing it’s rejuvenation and immediately banishing the fiend back to the dark corners of the Beard Dimension from whence it came.
Yun takes the news of the crinis spinner darkly serious. She rewards the characters as promised, and if shown the arcane razor she’ll explain the the Order of the Whisker are a handful of researchers studying the Beard Dimension. While not a member herself Yun could potentially get a message to the order if any characters wish to find out more.
This is a fast and dirty encounter so there’s likely many complications!
Who is Shaggoth and what other evil is the sorcerer up to? Are there more crinis spinners loose in the world elsewhere? What exactly is the Order of the Whisker and is there opportunity for further adventure through them?
Introducing quirky material like beardomancy could be a one time divergence from your ongoing campaign or lead in whole new directions. If players begin developing paranoia about hair, you’ll know they’re hooked. In the course of this encounter they witnessed a woman emerge from a person’s beard, devilsh clumps of hair stalk a person through town and a hair obsessed demon on a murder spree. I’d certainly think something was up and want to know more about it.
People seem to really enjoy our explorations into the Beard Dimension so we’ll keep sharing our findings one way or another. Have you woven any beardomantic magic in your games? I’m planning to play a Path of the Barbhairian in an upcoming game if for no other reason than to use their Brutal Balayage feature. Lemme hear your beardomantic stories!