Sunday, August 28, 2016

The Dragon Hole


A dragon is carrying off our cattle.  Go kill it.

"But we're level 1!"

Just stab it when its sleeping.  Or poison it.  Here, take this huge bottle of strychnine.

Alternate Hook

There's a dragon living to the north, and not that far away.  We know this because we've been watching it steal cattle.  Let's go rob it.

"But we're level 1!"

Then it's a good thing we aren't going to be fighting it, huh?  Here, let's take these camouflage capes.

The Twist

There's not just one dragon down there.  There's six.  Siblings.

Your Travelling Companions For This Caper

Melenna, Thief 2, she is constantly smokes cigarettes, constantly putting things in her mouth to learn more about them, friendly, sarcastic, wants money, wants other people to take risks for her, wants to find her ex-husband Bonce and cut his nose off.

Melenna's interesting inventory: dogskin cloak, dagger rubbed in charcoal to make it less reflective, cigarettes, poisonous fingernail polish.

Madrigal, Fighter 2, the younger sister of Melenna, she is constantly hunting small animals and crushing them underfoot, unfriendly, paranoid, honorable, wants fame, wants to keep her sister safe, wants to graffiti her name ("Madrigal the Unmerciful") on available surfaces.

Madrigal's interesting inventory: intimidating helmet, shitty bronze cuirass vandalized with insults against someone named Pulgaro (a bear-fighter that she stole it from), tower shield with an eye motif, spear, chalk, tea, teapot, teacup, horse that is mostly used to carry her armor.

Approaching the Dragon Hole

The only features are vast stretches of yellow grass and a tall white stone that the locals call the Lonely Whore.  It's a good place to spend the night because you can climb up inside it onto a small ledge large enough for a half-dozen people.  Not ideal, since you can't see out, but it keeps you safe from the orns.

Random Encounters [d6] on the Way to the Dragon Hole

1. Dragon flies overhead, carrying a screaming cow.  (This is Garnos, whose scales are various shades of dark brown to dark red.)  If he spots the party (and he probably will), he'll circle once and then fly on.  He can't really do much with a cow in his claws.

If the party pisses him off somehow, he'll drop the cow on the nearest person (4d6 damage on a hit), do a couple flame breath strafing runs, and then perhaps try to fly off with Madrigal's horse.

2. Pack of 1d6+2 orns.  These are basically asshole chocobos.  They're a lot smarter than they pretend to be (sort of like that bird in Up).  They can be captured and domesticated quickly as long as they are fed a lot of food (they're carnivores), since they'll quickly realize that good behavior leads to steady meals, but they're also smart to pretend to be injured when they're feeling lazy.  They lack the strength and endurance of a horse, but they can easily out-sprint one and are much smarter.  They enjoy long baths and shiny things (which they swallow compulsively).

Of course, when they hunt you, they're basically just adorable raptors.

Orn:  HD 2  AC none  Talons 1d10  Move 15 (Sprint 21)  Int 6  Morale 7

3. Wagon being pulled by a pair of aimless, exhausted-looking horses.  A corpse or unconscious man is slumped over in the driver's seat.  The side of the wagon is painted with candles and suns.

The driver is Okren, a candlemaker.  He has a crossbow clutched in his arms and a whistle in his lap.  He is dead, and anyone who handles him without proper caution must also save vs. disease (ebola, 1d6 Str and 1 Con).

The horses are tired and thirsty, and will approach anyone who attempts to calm them down.

Okren was not a wizard, but he did learn how to make mandrogi (grass golems) from his parents.  Although the church condemns the practice as deviltry, it is not uncommon for merchants to use grass golems as helpers (and when the golems deteriorate, kindling).  There are currently 15 mandrogi aboard the wagon, and they have been given the command "protect the wagon from anything that I do not personally greet".  If the players touch anything other than the horses, the mandrogi will rustle around inside the wagon for a round before spilling out the back and attacking.  Each one carries a small grass-cutting knife, awl, or pair of scissors.

They look like five-pointed bundles of dried grass, tied with red string and with a 2x2 grid of the holy alphabet written on their chests.

Inside the cart is Orringale, who also caught the disease but is now mostly dying from dehydration.  She is too weak to rise from her bed.  As with Okren, anyone who handles her or her linens without the proper precautions risks contracting ebola as well.

She loves her (now dead) husband and will mourn, but she is also a very practical woman.  She can be convinced to accompany the party to their destination, but has no intention of becoming an adventurer.  She has an 8-year-old son in the nearest major city, currently visiting with her sister.  She eats her hair when she is upset or nervous, and has a remarkably sharp sense of smell.  (Like, she can tell when her husband takes his jacket off, even though he's outside the wagon driving it.)

The wagon contains 120 normal candles, 40 scented candles

Mandrogi: HD 0 (HP 1), AC none, Tiny Weapon 1d6, Move 9, Int 0, Morale 12, highly flammable.

4. 1d20 friendly pilgrims.  They believe that they are on their way to the Pillar of Fire, but it is obvious from their path that they are going in the wrong direction.  In reality, they are being controlled by brain worms, who are subtly manipulating their hosts into searching for a hidden reservoir so that they can drown the pilgrims in it, and then spread their eggs into the water supply for the entire region.

(All of the water in Asria comes from water towers, which are big buildings that look a bit like parking garages.  The sides of them are honeycombed with waterfalls, and water flows out from them.  Each one is part of the prehistoric superstructure of the region--no one knows how they work or where the water comes from, but each is controlled by a different Water Baron.)

The pilgrims are helpful, friendly, and infectious.  Don't let them prepare your food.  If you watch them closely, you can sometimes see a worm squiggle across an eyeball.  They are in control of themselves 99% of the time, but if the worms ever feel truly threatened, the pilgrims will suddenly start shouting stuff like "Wolves!  Wolves among us!"  and try to defend themselves from what they honestly believe to be wolves (the PCs).

It might even be possible to collaborate with the worms directly.  Worms are pragmatic people.

5. Four villagers bringing a deserter from the paladin order back to the city of Asria, where the ex-paladin will probably be executed.  The villagers don't want to be here, and the ex-paladin definitely doesn't want to be here.

The paladin will promise to lead the PCs to a dungeon filled with loot if they free him.  (He is referring to the Long Halls of Luroc.)  His name is Pabu, and he deserted rather than burn down a building with chaos mutants inside it, badly injuring his commander in the process.

6. Halfling bandits armed with military-grade bee species.  They wear bee hives on their backs and communicate with their swarms telephathically.  They ride a wind-wagon (basically a big wagon blown around by sails--this works great for some reason).  There are 12 of them, but only two of them are bee-masters.

In the belly of the wagon is the daughter of an extremely unpopular water baron, whom they intend to ransom.  Her name is Belsey and she now has a bee insignia tattooed on her belly.  She's not a bad sort--brave, level-headed, practical, but also proud and a bit vengeful.

Down the Dragon Hole

The dragons live at the bottom of a 210' shaft.  It's actually not as undefensible as it sounds--the ground actually gets steeper the closer you get to the Dragon Hole, so it becomes impassably steep even before you get to the vertical part.

It's covered with vines and flowers.  Hummingbirds nest and feed among these vines.  Except that they're not really hummingbirds--they're surgeonbirds that feed on the dragons the same way that mosquitoes feed on humans.  (They're worth a lot to barber-surgeons, because of the anesthetizing properties of their saliva and how efficiently they can bleed people, not to mention that they're much more fashionable than leeches.)  They'll probably be the first threat that the party faces during their climb down.

The Reservoir

If someone falls into the Dragon Hole, they'll land in deep water.  This is the reservoir that connects to the aquifers in the surrounding countryside.  If the pumps stop turning, the whole region goes dry.

It's full of fish, as well as some of the tiny psychic whales common to the Underdark (which it connects to).

There are other ways out from down here.  If anyone ever lays siege to the Dragon Hole, the dragons will use these tunnels to escape and then sneak up on their attackers.

Ways to Kill Dragons

So, this is an adventure about killing dragons written for level 1 characters.  Obviously, if a bunch of level one characters roll initiative against a dragon, they've already lost, so I need to make sure that there are lots of ways to kill dragons in this dungeon.  Give the kids a chance.

And of course, you don't have to kill a dragon to rob them.

The general model is--small things can be stolen without the dragon noticing, but taking the really valuable pieces will absolutely result in one (or more) pissed-off dragons looking for you.

Not to mention, pissing off some dragons so much that they leave the Dragon Hole to go look for you is a great way to get them to leave their hoard unguarded.

Anyway, here are some ways to kill dragons, all of which will be present in the dungeon is some form or another.

Another Dragon
The six siblings don't get along, and have many pre-existing rivalries and hatreds that smart PCs can exploit.  Alternatively, it is possible to frame a dragon.  If the party can clandestinely move an item from one dragon's hoard to another dragon's hoard, that will probably be sufficient for a deadly duel (unless Vulpernia or Green Diama can break it up in time).  This is probably the best way to go about it.

There is a large section of cavern supported by three unsteady pillars of rock.  The dragons call it "The Arcade" and use it as a meeting place.  A hit from a dragon or a small explosion would be enough to bring down the ceiling.

Dragon Hunters
Many would-be dragon slayers have tried to kill Garnos over the years.  He admires their bravery, and sometimes keeps them around, usually with a broken leg and on top of a tall (60') ledge.  They know many ways to kill a dragon, and in fact, Garnos' lair is littered with nets, harpoons, anchors, hooks, ballistae, and small explosives that dragon hunters know how to use effectively.  But more to the point, they're huge, brutal, psychotic-by-default people who have a beef with big reptiles.

Aside from the Strychnine that the party might have been given before going into the Dragon Hole, there is also a poisonous mushroom in the lair: the elephant's foot.  Dragons have a low chance of dying from poison (20%), but even on a successful save, strychnine causes 24 hours of weakness and convulsions, and elephant's foot causes hallucinations.

Green Slime
It's in there somewhere, too.  Bear in mind that dragons can scrape off green slime patches just as adventurers can, and they're never without a fire source if they want to burn it off.  Feeding them green slime is a guaranteed way to kill a dragon, but it usually involves the dragon vomiting green slime for a few rounds.  (60' cone of green slime spray. . . Jesus Fucking Christ).  And don't forget the possibility of a runaway green slime chain reaction.

One of the eggs that the Emerald Egg keeps is a rotten (but still hatchable) cockatrice egg.  It will hatch into a baby cockatrice if a non-virginal woman urinates on it.  (This method of hatching a cockatrice egg is common knowledge, but it has the feel of a useless folk tale.)

Ashrendar keeps his greatest treasure underwater, behind a heavy iron grate.  If someone closed the grate behind him and locked it, he would certainly drown.

Circle of Death
The Emerald Egg has a circle that she uses to kill creatures and raise them as undead.  It wouldn't be hard to trick another dragon into entering the circle.

Dragon Psychology

1. Dragons hoard things.  It's compulsive.  They can't not hoard things.  If prevented from hoarding things, they'll go crazy and start hoarding shadows, or they'll pry off their scales and starting sorting those into piles.

This six dragons are siblings who share a mother, and their mother has banned them from collecting any precious metals or gems, since those are the things that she collects.

Dragons are incapable of sharing their hoards.  The trick to different dragons living together in harmony is to simply collect different things.  A mated pair of dragons might decide that one of them collects gold, while the other one collects everything else.

All dragons are insanely possessive of their hoard.  Many dragons name themselves after their hoards, or certain items in their hoard.  There have been dozens of dragons that called themselves "The Golden Hoard", or variations thereof.

2. Dragons are insanely proud of being a dragon.  You would be hard-pressed to convince one that a human is better than a dragon in any respect.  They also have no compunction about killing and eating anyone.  In the mind of a dragon, everything belongs to them, and so they approach negotiations with the sullen stubbornness of a child who has to negotiate with a bully for the return of a stolen toy.

But friendly, subservient humans are happily tolerated, as long as the human isn't carrying anything that looks valuable, and the dragon isn't hungry.  (And the dragons are rarely hungry--Garnos is a great hunter.)

3. Dragons are also intensely delusional.  Each dragon suffers from a different delusion.  If you want to have a positive social interaction with a dragon, you must play along with their delusion.

For example, say you are talking to Garnos, who believes that everyone is trying to kill him.  He will probably tell you that everyone is trying to kill him, then ask you if you are here to kill him.  Any claim that you don't want to kill him will be met with skepticism and hostility, since you are challenging his personal narrative.  Not only are you a (would-be) murderer, but you are a lair as well.  Once you play into his delusion, however, you have a lot more

The Dragons [d6]

Here they are: the six siblings, presented in approximately the order that they would be encountered if the party explored the Dragon Hole in order, from the bird-infested top to the flooded bottom.

You can also roll a d12, to see if the random encounter is for the dragon or for members of their drakencult.

It's not a mega-dungeon.  I honestly want something more modest, close to 50-60 rooms, but we'll see how that goes.  Ideally, each dragon's lair would also be modular, so that a DM could pop it off and use it in isolation, as a one-shot.  So, not only would it be a dungeon full of dragons, but it would be d6 Random Dragon Lairs as well.

1. Garnos the Bestial
Hoard: Alcohol, Bones, Weapons
Drakencult: Berserkers who have drank of his blood.
Distinctive Marks: Darker scales, scarred eye.
Delusion: Everyone is trying to kill him.

Garnos doesn't talk much.  He's a draconic primitivist--he thinks that dragons shouldn't be talking in the first time.  He does all the hunting for the family, and he gets to keep all the bones.  His chambers are filled with bones: cows and horses, but a few human as well.

Garnos is the dragon who does all the hunting for his siblings.  When a dragon is sighted flying around the surrounding neighborhood, that dragon is Garnos 90% of the time.  (But people have a hard time telling the siblings apart, which is why they only think a single dragon lives in the Dragon Hole.)

He collects the dragonslayers that come after him, and usually keeps them prisoner.  He sometimes gives them false chances to escape or attack him--he is just watching them to see what tactics they use.  He is familiar with the harpoons, poisons, and hooks of dragonslayers.  Prisoners are given several opportunities to drink his blood.  Those that refuse will be killed.  Those that drink it will go mad and become his loyal berserkers.

Garnos also likes to get drunk, and keeps a few barrels of whiskey in the back.  He gets blackout drunk on about 5% of days, but doesn't otherwise drink.  The other dragons don't know about his occasional alcoholism.

He'll only bother talking to you if you can succeed in making him really, really curious.  Otherwise he'll just eat everyone he comes across.

His berserkers are a motley bunch, mostly ex-knights and other dragonslaying types.  Some wear rusty armor, others wear patches of dragonscale, and a few other berserkers have begun to sprout patches of scales themselves.  Their leader is a woman named The Third Fang of Garnos; she has cut off one of her breasts (to shoot arrows better) and tattooed a dragon's face over the scar.

The berserkers tend to the Armory, which is sort of like a museum of weapons and torture devices.  It's metal as fuck.  Like, floors made of swords, axes made from smaller axes.

If Garnos really wants to fuck you up, he'll put on his armored helmet.  The frills help protect his neck (a dragon's weakest spot), the horns help him impale other dragons, and when he clenches his mouth closed, the nozzle on the front helps him focus his fire breath (180' line instead of a 60' cone).

Garnos is secretly training his drakencult to kill all of his siblings.  However, he is worried about his mother, and doesn't have the will or the power (he believes) to kill her.  So, he hesitates.

2. Volectra the Painted Dragon
Hoard: Plays and Playwrights
Drakencult: Actors, who struggle to remember their real names and are a very distinct caste from the caged playwrights.
Distinctive Marks: Covered in jewelry, gauzy tapestries, or painted murals.
Delusion: Everyone is jealous of her beauty.

Volectra is the smartest and the most vain of the dragons.  She could be a mastermind, but her vast intellect is turned inwards, toward herself.  And she is a beautiful dragon.  Perfumed, too.  She is planning to one day travel to meet the elves, since she has heard about their many beautiful things (and the two would probably get along famously.)

Her lair is covered in mirrors.  She has the largest drakencult, actors, tailors, and jewelers.  They wear blinders and hoods when they leave her quarters so that they will not look at the other dragons (-2 to hit).

If she ever enters combat, she would probably just flee to get her siblings.  Not out of cowardice, but she just doesn't like getting blood on her.  It stinks.  All of this is forgotten, of course, if you actually piss her off.  Pissed off dragons are remarkably similar in attitude.

She keeps a clear distinction between her "uncreative" drakencult and the artists that actually write the plays and design the jewelry.  Painters and playwrights are kept in cages, while her cadre of painted and perfumed humans wander around, pursuing beauty, and responding to whatever name Volectra decides to call them.  (Most of them struggle to remember their real name.)  Sometimes they wear costumes, but more commonly they are naked with their clothing painted on: bakers, soldiers, prisoners, kings.

If the party befriends her (and she is probably the easiest dragon to befriend), she will want them to stay and produce beautiful things for her.  Unless the party has a better idea, she will want them to perform a play that one of her playwrights has written about her.  (I intend to type up a 5 page play in 3 acts, yes.)  The characters (and players) would just read their lines and try to survive the plot of the play, which involves a lovers' duel to the "death", a flurry of arrows, and escape from a burning city (which ends with Volectra burning down her own wooden set--she loves this shit).

In this play, the PCs will play the parts of competing lovers, a beloved princess, a flatulent dwarf, and her brother Garnos, who is depicted as an oaf.  (He will be pissed if he hears of you mocking him.)

If she thinks that your beauty threatens to eclipse her own, she will try to mar your beauty.  Preferably by eating you, but if that is not possible (e.g. because you have joined another dragon's drakencult, or claimed the same), she will simply deface you.

3. Vulpernia the Shepherdess
Collects: Cute Animals, Cute Birds, Nice Smells
Drakencult: Dusty women dressed like lambs, who refer to Vesperna as "The Shepherdess".
Distinctive Marks: Larger than her siblings, white scale on her neck.
Delusion: Everyone is a spy for someone else, except for cute things, which are trustworthy.

It would be a mistake to categorize Vulpernia as "the maternal dragon".  She looks after her siblings in her own way, yes, and she is largely in control of the lair.

The cave swallows are her spies. Although she doesn't command them directly, they nest in her chambers, and she has learned their language in order to interpret their chatter.  (Cave swallows can echolocate and build nests on the wall using only their spit.)

She has a petting zoo.  Her favorite is currently a baby camel.  The party may sometimes find it wandering the cave--it's pretty fearless.  The petting zoo fence made from the ribs of Samathorn.

She as Volectra are twins, hatched from the same egg, and they are thick as thieves.

Her siblings respect her because she killed Samathorn, their seventh clutch-mate, who defied their mother by hoarding gold.

4. Ashrendar the Architect
Collects: Architecture and Portraiture
Drakencult: Muscular librarians.  One has an ioun flail in a phylactery on his head.
Distinctive Marks: Thinner, missing tail-tip.
Delusion: Believes that the world is going to end, and he may be some great prophet or saint who can see patterns in history that no one else can.

Ashrendar collects architecture--pieces of buildings that he likes.  Just grabs a cupola and flies off with it, that sort of thing.  No gargoyle is too ugly, no weathervane too tacky, for his collection.

And what he cannot carry off, he reconstructs.  A long time ago, he began abducting architects and masons.  Their children and grandchildren now build reconstructions of famous buildings in his section of the lair.

The Amphitheater of Balangua, the Hundred-body Crucifix of Habellion, the Bastion of Medurak. . . all of these things are recreated in Ashrendar's chambers (although not always to 1:1 scale).  There is even a model map of the countryside, depicted with the accuracy that only flight can provide.  (An accurate map of the country is a treasure, by the way).

Her Drakencult are librarians, who have memorized large amounts of books.  Ashrendar cannot read the tiny text in books (and dragons are far-sighted anyway) and has his drakencult read to him instead.

Each member of the Drakencult lives in a miniature building, with which they share their name.  Like, one of them might live in a 1:40 scale model of the Castle Iagatro, which is only a 10x15x stone cabin in real life, and that muscular librarian's name will also be Castle Iagatro.

He is moderately interested in current events, but his true passion lies in history, and anyone who can fill in his (modest) gaps of knowledge will be a treasured mealtime companion, of course.  The experience will be a bit like a tea party, except with charred beef and stale cave-water as the only dishes.

Aside from that, Ashrendar is a bit of a shut-in.  He's the nerd of the dragons, and his conversations with other dragons leaves them feeling awkward and unsure of how to respond.

5. Scabbermoth the Phlegmatic
Collects: Cats and Broken Things
Drakencult: 15 naked old men, led by Amado the massage-goblin.
Distinctive Marks: He's a fucking droggin, so he's a scaleless albino dragon with pink skin and bad dandruff.
Delusion: That nobody likes him, and everyone says mean things about him.  (This one is actually true, though.)

Scabbermoth lives in the lowest levels, nearest The Emerald Egg.  He lives beside a pool of water, since long soaks are the only thing that soothe his many rashes.  He spends most of his time with just his eyes showing above the surface of the water, wandering in and out of dreams.

His halls are filled with collections of lost and broken things: one room full of broken chairs, another filled with unpaired shoes.  One room is entirely devoted to books that have become unreadable through mold.  Another room is filled with lengths of string that are too short to be useful, each arranged on top of tables, each broken in a different way.  Another is filled with Scabbermoth's scales, which he carefully collected when they started falling out in his youth.

His hallways are also filled with cats.  He prefers white cats, because they remind him of himself.  Quite a few of them are three-legged, because Scabbermoth saw them leaping and realized that they were not broken, and all of his possessions must be broken in some way.

And yes, there is a room that is full of severed cat paws.  Unlike human eccentricities, dragons have the time and power to follow their manias to dreadful heights.

His servants are wretched old men, cast-offs from his siblings, who cheerfully tell Scabbermoth about how much more magnificent his siblings are compared to him, even as they scrub the lice off his back and rub liniment into his aching joints.

He breathes fire rather than phlegm, and the stress of combat has a chance to make him suffer a seizure after a couple of rounds.

He is pathetic, and he knows that he is pathetic, but even a pathetic half-dragon has his pride.  If you are dealing with him, you must be careful not to insult him, but telling him about all the other insults that other people and dragons have heaped upon him will soothe him.  That matches how his model of the world lives; that matches his delusion.

Despite his low station, he is intensely loyal to his siblings, and lives vicariously through them.  He knows all of their secrets (because horrible old men love to gossip).  He knows about Garnos and Vulpernia's incestual couplings and what they produced.  He knows about The Emerald Egg's necromancy.  He even knows what happened to Mother.

6. The Emerald Egg
Collects: Eggs, Tombstones, Clocks
Drakencult: Ghouls wearing porcelain masks, heavily perfumed.
Distinctive Marks: Green eyes.
Delusion: That Mother is still alive, knows everything that transpires in the Dragon Hole, and disapproves enormously.

The Emerald Egg will tell you that she doesn't collect anything, but that's a lie.  And if you look at the things you collect (eggs, tombstones, clocks) you can sort of see a theme.  Her most precious treasure is the Emerald Egg, from which she derives her name.  It sits in a silver cup atop a feathered throne.

(Normally the siblings would be prevented from accumulating any gems or precious metals because those belong in their mother's hoard, but the Emerald Egg was allowed to keep this single emerald because it is obviously an egg in addition to being an emerald.  It is a sign that she carries Mother's favor.)

She has a lot of eggs.  I've already mentioned the cockatrice egg, which is still hatchable.  There's also one of Vulpernia's incest eggs here, with the deformed embryo inside still giving proof.  And there's also an "angel egg", really the shrunken corpse of a angel whose god has died, which is basically a black-hole grenade.  And there's also a wooden egg with a keyhole in the front and a wooden key beside it; it contains a demon who will try to trick/bargain into its release.  (The Emerald Egg uses it for consultation, but even she isn't foolish enough to open it.)

The Emerald Egg believes that she is collecting Time.  She believes that she is eating it up.  She swallows it with every breath.  And as she has grown larger, she has begun swallowing more and more Time.  How else can you explain how quickly time seems to go now, compared to her childhood.  If you confront her with this, she will destroy you.

She is completely insane, but at first interaction, she will seem to be the most rational and composed of her siblings.

She functions as the voice for her Mother, and has convinced all of her siblings to never come to the lowest level, because Mother is very sick, and very disappointed in all of them.  Only she is allowed to talk to Mother, and only she can deliver Mother's messages.

Once Garnos guessed the secret.  He declared that Mother was dead, and that the Emerald Egg was manipulating them.  But then the Emerald Egg went to fetch Mother, and their Mother did indeed appear at the bottom of the reservoir and chastise the siblings.

This was possible because the Emerald Egg is also a wizard.  She is capable of polymorphing into her siblings, and even into her mother.  She can even polymorph into humans.

Apart from her hoard of mostly rotten eggs, she keeps her necromantic chambers separate.  She has her bonepile, and a few other necromantic dabblings.  Her ghoul servants all wear masks, and are heavily perfumed.  They dress like nobles, and if her siblings have ever noticed her servants climbing on ceilings or gnawing bones, they've never brought it up.

There's a weird sort of tension among the dragons.  The Emerald Egg speaks for her mother and herself, while Vulpernia speaks for the other siblings.  (Except for Scabbermoth, who is like the kid that no one wants to have on their team.)


There's a secret here, but you can probably guess it.

A secret tunnel leads to huge cavern.  At the back of the cavern, another hole in the ground, 50' across and surrounded by gouges of missing rock.  Scattered around this room is enough gold to buy a small barony.

If the PCs just take this gold and leave with it, they'll probably get away.  Green Diama doesn't come here often, so it's an easy haul.

But shine your light over the hole, and you'll see the glimmer of more gold, deeper down.  Much more gold.  This is Mother's hoard, and it contains enough gold to buy a small kingdom (i.e. unbalance your campaign entirely).

And I do mean ludicrous, cartoonish amounts of money.  When you get down there, the biggest risk is that you'll be crushed under one of the stacks of coins when your companions decide to sled down the hill of gold riding a golden plate.  A Smaug-level hoard.

But there are dragonbones there, too, under the gold.  The PCs will find them after they start looting the place.  This is what is left of Mother, who has nearly finished being turned into a dracolich by her daughter.  So this lowest level of the dungeon is really just a gold-coated TPK.


  1. This is really great stuff.. though my favorite line is "basically just adorable raptors" lol

  2. It has this air of decadent decay. It's written like opium smoke sits in the air just before very very late becomes early. And it starts out jolly and fun and gets more and more cruel and convoluted and eccentric and delicious and I love it.

    1. My review of your review: initially rambling, it mirrors the original subject matter beautifully. Initially ripe with purple prose, it terminates in a personal endorsement, bucking the common trend.

      Aside from that, I actually do like writing adventures with mundane beginnings and wtf endings. In one of my current games, the party went after a lost cat and ended up in a plague city while a rat cult does PLOTS.

    2. My review of your review of my review: Yes.

  3. The best adventure about dragons I have read so far and maybe the best use of a dracolich in any adventure.

  4. 'Gold-coated TPK'

    Made me laugh. A very enjoyable read, I'm going to run this at some point!

  5. Hey, if you were using the dragon types from the monster manual what kind of dragons would this family be? I mean I guess it doesn't matter but I'm curious. Also I'm definitely gonna run this for my group. I really like the encounters leading up to it and the weirdly relatable while also delightfully alien mindset of the dragons.

    1. All dragons breath cones of fire. Most dragons are brown, with pale blue bellies (see also: countershading) although exceptional individuals sometimes get reddish, greenish, or goldish (like how humans are sometimes blond or red-headed, but mostly we're just black and brown).

      Anything else is un-American.

    2. Damn! Red as the blood that flows through the veins of all Americans! But see I'm Canadian and by definition and before anything else un-American(if Canadians can agree on any cultural identifier besides geniality it's that we're not American), so I'm sure that's why I feel the need to clutter things up with colours. Everyone knows our blood is basically rainbow maple syrup, while our dragons are the all inclusive colours of the rainbow!

      But yeah, I was thinking red too.

  6. Why are all of the best rpg things I've ever seen in blogs, incomplete, and needing an edit pass or 3? They're also about 60%-70% things you wrote. Do you have a job? Quit and finish any of this amazing crap. Gah.

  7. This is just incredible. Now I need a group to play this adventure.

  8. Me: "I'm pretty good at writing RPG content."
    _Reads even 1 sodding Goblin Punch article_
    Me: "Oh hey, I'm not fit to hold a D20! Neat."

  9. I know it's been more than five years, but some things still bug me. Who is "Green Diama"? Is it another name for the Emerald Egg, or Mother? And where the hell did "Vulpernia's incest egg" come from?