Content of the article: "SEEKING ADVICE: Night Hag Plot"
TLDR: My Lv. 6 PCs (Tiefling Warlock, Tiefling Barbarian & Half-Elf Druid/Ranger) are traveling to a Wood Elf forest community that is being plagued by a Night Hag. I am looking for ideas, feedback and suggestions to enhance the intrigue and nuance of my plot.
FULL VERSION: This will be a multi-session leg of an ongoing campaign in honor of Spooky Season (#Doot!)
A Wood Elf has sought the aid of the party. Their forest village is being victimized by a mysterious old woman (Night Hag) who is haunting their dreams, corrupting the spirit of the normally tight-knit community and has kidnapped the daughter of a prominent priestess who acts as the village elder. The Hag intends to corrupt the daughter and turn her evil so that the value of the daughter's soul will bring greater reward on the infernal market of the Abyss.
In addition, the village has recently experienced unsettling encounters with corrupted and deformed wood creatures that have turned hostile. Several nighttime patrols have been badly injured or killed. These creatures are suffering from the increased local influence of the Night Hag and from the campaign's BBEG, who is corrupting the campaign world as his power grows. Deer have grown abnormally large horns and teeth and are attacking like pack hunters; sentient slimes and molds are increasing in numbers; the normally ambivalent trees are slowly stretching higher as if to intentionally block the sun's rays and their bark is rotting and molding.
The PCs will be visited in their dreams by the Night Hag resulting in exhaustion and other penalties. This will persist until they defeat her. To help, they will be introduced to Auntie Maarta, a one-eyed, ancient elder of the Wood Elf community and a blend of midwife, healer and adviser. She will tell the party a fairy tale from the village about an old woman who lives in the forest, luring passerby deep into the woods by offering them their heart's desires until they are forever lost amongst unfamiliar paths and twisting trees. These poor individuals are never heard from again. Auntie Maarta will offer charms and advice to bolster the party before they go off in search of the old woman.
PLOT TWIST: Unbeknownst to the party, Auntie Maarta is the true Night Hag. The Hag the party will eventually encounter and fight is a doppelganger designed to throw the party off. She has lived amongst and preyed upon Wood Elf communities for centuries, traveling every few decades between tribes and assuming different identities to ensure her secrecy. Her charms and advice are designed to trick and subtly manipulate the PCs and possibly weaken them. The party would have an opportunity to discover this through subtle clues – the Night Hag they fight will only have one eye, her familiar may be the same as Auntie Maarta's, etc. However, I feel like there are some plot holes here that I'd like to get the community's feedback on.
QUESTIONS: How has she managed to be so successful perpetuating this activity over a prolonged period of time and why would each Wood Elf community not suspect her if these events keep occurring? How would her charms and advice mislead or trick the party? I'd also like to make the forest a maze that the party will have to traverse to reach the Night Hag encounter but am unsure how to run this mechanically without a map.
Thank you dear DM community for any ideas, advice or feedback you can provide.
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