posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms! Council of Wyrms is the AD&D setting for playing as dragons and dragon-adjacent characters. I love the setting, and I remember very little about the actual mechanics, since my last time reading through it was when I owned the physical book, which I sold approximately seven years ago. It's by Bill Slaviscek, better known as a major Alternity dev, the guy who did Dark Sun Revised and a few other things for TSR. He also was involved in the creation of 3e and the development of Eberron. I think he works at Zenimax now on Elder Scrolls Online.

Anyway. Book One: Rules covers the creation of dragon PCs, half-dragons (introduced here, I believe) and demihuman kindred, AKA 'elves, gnomes and dwarves that dragons keep as pets and useful helpers.' Book Two: Campaign covers the broad setting of the game, its history and ways you might fit it into other settings. Book Three: Adventures is a campaign book and set of adventures for you to play as your various dragon-related characters. In theory, the game wants you to play either a metallic (good) or gem (neutral) dragon, but rules are provided for the evil chromatics, too, and frankly, I figure that if we're doing this, all the dragons are in this together even if some of them are jerks. They're still nicer than the humans and giants that are the primary enemies of Council of Wyrms.

The basic setting info we get in Book One is this: we're in a chain of islands known as the Io's Blood Isles, which legend holds were formed when Io, the Ninefold Dragon, spilled his own steaming blood upon the sea, which cooled into the island paradise (for dragons) that is the Io's Blood. Nowhere else matters, because that's where dragons live. They are at a somewhat uneasy peace with each other, each having their own lands to rule over, and their government is the Council of Wyrms, which largely exists to arbitrate disagreements between clans and keep wars from happening between dragons, as well as keeping watch for humans, who once almost destroyed the dragons. Demihuman kindred work with the dragons, whom they see as their natural superiors, and swear loyalty to dragon clans, because sometimes a dragon just needs a small, hairy biped to do a job. Half-dragons are born from the mating of polymorphed male dragons and demihuman women, and they suffer prejudice and try to find a place they can live in.

Dragon ability scores! They're the same as normal...but they work a little differently. Dragons do not get any bonuses to combat from Strength - those are all dependent on their natural weapons and size. Instead, Strength is used to determine maximum weight when flying or lifting, smashing down barriers or breaking bars and damaging various structures. Dexterity, again, has absolutely no relation to combat for dragons. It instead measures how well they can use their front claws like hands. Below 7 and those things are barely manipulators at all. 7-13 means you can use them for simple jobs like picking up larger pieces of treasure. Over 13 and you can do fine manipulations such as opening srolls or chests and using brushes. Even with an 18, though, you're never going to pick up something like a coin. Dragon mages and dragon priests, incidentally, must have at least Dex 13. Constitution does still boost HP and ability to survive resurrection and system shock (which can easily become involved when you polymorph, as fucking up your system shock roll there means you forget you're a dragon for potentially several years). Intelligence works pretty much as normal, though dragons get fewer noncombat proficiencies than normal and don't get spell immunity from it. Also it helps the aforementioned polymorphed dragons remember they're dragons. Wisdom is essentially normal outside of the magical defenses, which dragons have innate versions of instead. Charisma functions normally, but also ties into the innate fear ability dragons have. Rolling abilities is 3d6 down the line or whatever other method you prefer, because "It is the job of the DM to be familiar with the advantages and disadvantages of each method."

The PC races are the good and neutral dragons, elves, dwarves, gnomes, half-gold, half-silver and half-bronzes. (No other half-dragons exist, apparently.) There is info provided for Chromatics, however, they just aren't allowed because evil, I guess. Some things to note, as we get into racial ability requirements. Yes, some dragons are just flat better than others. Gold dragons are the best. Period. Silver and Red after that, then Bronze, Amethyst and Blue, then Green, Sapphire, and Copper, then Black, Brass and Emerald, then Topaz and White, then Crystal. That's simply how things are. Dragons all do get some big stat boosts, however - generally, a large boost to Strength, a penalty to Dexterity, a boost to Intelligence and Charisma, and sometimes to Constitution. Gem dragons also get Wisdom instead of Constitution, and are the only psionic dragons. Every type of demihuman or humanoid speaks their own language, and there's also chromatic, gem and metallic languages, spoken by those types of dragon. Lastly, there's High Draconic, a common speech among dragons that is used for diplomacy. Dragons automatically speak their family language, but not High Draconic.

Now, let's talk about the types of dragon. Gold Dragons are your wise, just and benevolent dragons, who see themselves as the voice of goodness and often become fanatically devoted to various quests. They are born with yellow scales that are only dotted with metallic flakes, which grow as the dragon ages, and are completely gold by adulthood. Gold dragons are Lawful Good and hate injustice. They typically lair in stone caves or stone buildings, which they modify heavily. They can eat just about anything, but prefer pearls and gems, and it's custom to bring those when visiting a gold dragon lord. Gold dragons are slow to anger and prefer to avoid violence, favoring diplomacy...but when justice gets involved, they are fierce warriors.
+7 Str, -3 Dex, +2 Con, +3 Int, +3 Cha.

Silver Dragons live in the subtropical southern islands and are naturally kind, helpful and friendly. They are born blue-gray with silver flecks, achieving full silver at adulthood. Their scales are very small - so fine that they appear invisible, making the dragons appear sculpted from solid metal. They are the closest to their demihuman vassals, eating the same food and often spending much time in demihuman form, even marrying demihuman mates. This is why there are more silver half-dragons than any other kind. They perfer to lair on mountain peaks near the clouds, and live among their vassals there, watching out for their red dragon neighbors causing trouble. They avoid combat whenever possible, except when facing highly aggressive or evil foes, and even then prefer nonlethal methods.
+6 Str, -3 Dex, +1 Con, +2 Int, +2 Cha.

Bronze Dragons are inquisitive shore-dwellers in the southern islands, leaving along seaside cliffs. They are cheerful and good-natured, enjoying riddles and contests. They find warfare fascinating and often look for just causes to champion. They are born with green-yellow scales with a hint of bronze, deepening in color as they age. They are quite fond of demihumans and become friends easily, but never live with them or marry them as the silvers do. They also love the ocean and enjoy eating sharks and pearls. They tend to be sort of dragon swashbucklers, seeing fights as a game and rarely taking threats seriously. They dislike killing in most circumstances, however, and will avoid it if possible, unless dealing with thieves or evil sea creatures, which they hate.
+5 Str, -2 Dex, +2 Int, +1 Cha.

Copper Dragons live in the southern badlands and hills. They are pranksters and jokers, proud and also quite greedy. They hate to lose, no matter what. They are born brownish-copper, becoming more coppery and glossy as they age. They enjoy hunting live prey, as much for the challenge as the food, and often organize hunts of poisonous creatures such as giant scorpions - they find ingested poisons to be harmlessly spicy. (Injected poisons work fine.) They tend to build mazes in their lairs, partly for defense and partly because they love puzzles. They enjoy witty and clever guests...but hate anyone who won't laugh at their jokes and have no patience for those who won't put up with their pranks. They tend to taunt and harry foes in battle until the foes either give up or make a mistake.
+4 Str, -1 Dex, +1 Int.

Brass Dragons live in the deserts of the central islands. They are sociable, talkative creatures with opinions on everything. They are born a dull, mottled brown, becoming a more burnished brass with age. They enjoy talking to guests in warm places, and often sun themselves on rocks. They actually become insulted if intelligent creatures do not stop to chat with them when they pass by. They can eat almost anything, but mostly just drink morning dew. They prefer to talk then fight, but consider blue dragons their special enemies.
+3 Str, -1 Dex, +1 Int.

Next time: Gem dragons.

Honorable and Regal Creatures

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: Honorable and Regal Creatures

Amethyst Dragons are the most powerful of the gem dragons. They live in the northern island mountains, near isolated lakes. They are born lavender and with translucent scales, which darken as they age. They tend to be detached, ignoring alignment conflicts as petty, inconsequential squabbles not worth their time. They see themselves as the leaders of the gem dragons, and mostly are. They find silvers and coppers foolish, and actively dislike reds and whites, but avoid making enemies and prefer negotiation to combat. They refuse to ambush foes or hide, and see even retreat as dishonorable, though they will flee if the only other option is death. They primarily eat fish and gems, and while they keep vassal demihumans, they let them largely do as they like. Most of them also keep an underwater cave to stay in when they feel the need to be secluded and secretive.
+5 Str, -3 Dex, +3 Int, +1 Wis, +2 Cha.

Sapphire Dragons live in the underground areas beneath the southern islands, mostly under the domain of the emeralds, though they own some of the surface as well. Sapphires are a beaituful blue, both light and dark, at birth, and are occasionally mistaken for blue dragons. They are the most militaristic of dragons, and are extremely territorial and distrusting of travelers. They train their vassals constantly in combat, but rarely actually conflict with the other dragons because they mostly live underground. Only the black dragons are in conflict with the regularly, and even they are hesitant. Sapphires prefer dwarves and gnomes as vassals, finding elves to be too much like their natural enemies, the drow. Dwarves are treated essentially as slaves, as they once warred on the sapphires, and gnomes have privileged positions in sapphire clans. Mostly, sapphires eat giant spiders. Alive, for preference. Despite their warlake natures, sapphires do not attack quickly, preferring to observe intruders and plan out how to deal with them...except for drow or dwarves not of the sapphire clans, who get attacked immediately. Others, at least, have time to make some gesture of parlay before being told to go away.
+4 Str, -3 Dex, +3 Int, +1 Wis, +1 Cha.

Emerald Dragons live in the tropical southern islands and are noted for being natural historians and lorekeepers. They are reclusive and somewhat paranoid dragons, born with translucent green scales that harden and take on many shades over time. They are obsessive in their need for privacy and defined territories. Mostly, they live near inactive volcanos, and only allow their most trusted vassals to approach their main lairs. They have many traps and alarms in those lairs, and prefer to observe intruders from hiding, conducting any diplomacy mainly through vassals. If forced to fight, the emeralds prefer stealth and ambush to disable foes quickly, retreating if the danger is too great. They are, however, very patient and always take vengeance. They can eat just about anything, but prefer lizards and giants. They get on quite well with the sapphires, and fear the greed of the reds, but mostly fight fire giants.
+3 Str, -2 Dex, +2 Int, +1 Wis, -1 Cha.

Topaz Dragons live in the coastal regions of the temperate islands, hiding their lair entrances underwater. They are clannish, private creatures that usually want little to do with others. They mostly keep vassals to appear prosperous, but do not want company. When born, they're a dull yellow-orange, but with age, their scales harden and become more translucent and faceted. They enjoy the smell of the sea and the feel of sea spray, but do not swim for enjoyment, though they do enjoy seafood. They are not especially malicious, but are socially unpleasant, lacking any real graces and often confusing others. They dislike visitors but avoid combat if possible. In a fight, they use tricks to distract foes before striking with claws and teeth. They are mostly indifferent to the problems of others, but dislike bronzes. Once they do decide someone is a friend, however, they are loyal unto death.
+2 Str, -1 Dex, +2 Int +1 Wis.

Crystal Dragons are friendly creatures that live in the northern islands and are mostly interested in studying the world. They are solitary, but welcome visitors. They are born with glossy white scales that grow translucent with age and are often dazzlingly bright in the light. They are mischevious, irresponsible dragons who rely on their vassals to run their domains. They love ice and snow castles, which are always open to the sky so they can do astronomy. The whites often prey on the crystals, and so fight them often. The giants, as well, often come for the crystals, who are the weakest of the dragons. The crystals prefer diplomacy to combat and are very charming. They prefer to eat gems and metallic ores.
+1 Str, +2 Int, +1 Wis, +1 Cha.

Red Dragons are greedy, covetous dragons that live in the tropical southern islands. They desire little more than to increase their territory and wealth, and all red dragons can recite to the smallest coin and youngest vassal their entire list of possessions at any time. They are born with bright scarlet scales that, while initially glossy, become duller and smoother as they age. They prefer to lair on mountain tops or other high places, to look over their domains. They consider even other reds to be competitions, but lesser reds will tend to obey their clan leaders. Their vassals are essentially slaves, with any treachery punished by death. The reds despise the golds as their greatest competition and threat, and also often compete for territory with coppers and silvers. Reds are exceptionally vain and overconfident, seeing themselves as superior to all others, and obey the Council itself only grudgingly, interpreting all laws in such a way as to benefit themselves above all else. They eat meat for the most part - particularly young maidens, sacrificed to them by their vassals.
+6 Str, -3 Dex, +2 Con, +2 Int, +3 Cha.

Blue Dragons live in the central deserts. They are possessive and contemplative, spending long periods in stillness and thought. They like to ambush prey and intrduers, and when not doing so, enjoy thinking about their accomplishments and admiring their domains. They are born blue and change little over time, remaining glossy even in old age. They can be just about any shade of blue. They consider anything in their domain to be their property, including their vassals. They are very territorial, always watching for spies and intruders to test their strategies on. They prefer surprise and long distance combat, avoiding diplomacy for the most part. They see themselves as brave and cavalier, enjoying challenges and tests. They store their hoards underground, and prefer collecting gems. They eat anything, but especially herd animals, and usually fight with the brass clans.
+5 Str, -3 Dex, +1 Con, +1 Cha.

Green Dragons live in the temperate forests, enslaving lesser beings. They are nasty, bad tempered and cruel, hating goodness in all of its forms and killing anything they can't control. They enjoy plotting intrigues and seeking power via plot and scheme. They see knowledge as power, and will gain knowledge by any means possible. At birth, they are a deep green, almost black, and grow lighter over time. Their lairs tend to be alive, made of the trees of the forest, warped by magic and other means. Evil seems to hang in the air around their lairs, and while they are cruel, they are also extremely protective of their vassals. They punish easily, but will allow no other to harm their toys. Green dragons love the taste of elf flesh, and occasionally raid the vassals of other clans just to get at it. They also enjoy frightening other beings and fighting, often toying with their prey and extending a fight or hunt as long as they can. They do, however, have honor - they will never break their given word. Besides elves, they can and will eat anything, including trees. They fight occasionally with the local giants.
+4 Str, -2 Dex, +1 Cha.

Black Dragons live in the southern swamps and jungles. They are angry, abusive creatures, with more cunning and malevolence than raw inellect. They are born glossy, but grow duller in sheen over time. They are chaotic evil and enjoy damp caves and caverns. They also love to swim and to collect precious metals. They are very selfish and territorial, and while they protect their vassals, they will leave them to die if a threat seems too much. They prefer ambushes over fair fights, and will use any advantage they can to win. They mostly eat fish and other seafood, and when eating land meats, they prefer to soak them for a time before eating. They are nocturnal by preference, feeling confident in darkness.
+3 Str, -1 Dex, -1 Int, -1 Wis, +1 Cha.

White Dragons are the smallest and weakest of the chromatics, living in the cold northern islands. They aren't very bright, but are excellent hunters who mostly leave the running of their lands to their vassals. They are impuslive and vicious, preferring to think in the short term than do any real planning. They act more like animals than most dragons, reacting in the now and living without regret. They are, however, greedy, and not to be underestimated. They are born with mirrorlike, glistening scales, but as they age, the sheen fades, and by old age they are turning a faint blue or gray. They prefer cold environments, and show little concern for actually running their lands unless danger is coming. They do, however, quite like to build ice castles, which they enjoy making as beautiful as possible. They collect gems, and while they can eat anything, they like food that has been frozen. In combat, they go full force as soon as possible, regardless of what they fight - which is mostly giants.
+2 Str, -1 Dex, -3 Int, -3 Wis.

Next time: Kindred.

No Halflings, For Some Reason

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: No Halflings, For Some Reason

Before demihuman stuff, I should note two things about dragons. First, they take a Strength penalty based on their age/level (which are tied together) - so at hatchling/level 1, they get -6 Str, but it goes up by 1 every age/level until they hit their racial Strength cap. These changes are applied after the adjustments for dragon type. Dragons can only be either Dragons, Dragon-Clerics, Dragon-Mages, or (if gem) Dragon-Psionicists, all of which cap at level 12, because that's when you're a great wyrm. However, dragon ages are also relevant to level - a hatchling/level 1 is from age age 0-5, very young/2 is 6-15, young/3 is 16-25, juvenile/4 is 26-50, young adult/5 is 51-100, adult/6 is 101-200, mature adult/7 is 201-400, old/8 is 401-600, venerable/10 is 801-1000, wyrm/11 is 1001-1200 and anything over 1200 is great wyrm/12. There are also charts for every dragon type to show what size their body and tail are and what their base AC, breath damage, spells and magic resistance are at any given level.

Now, kindred. What are kindred? Well, the dragons rule over demihuman vassals and partners - the dwarves, gnomes and elves of the isles. Their ability to survive to a reasonably advanced age by dragon standards is part of why the dragons like them, and they can pick and bond with one of these demihumans in mind, body and spirit to make them kindred. (In this game setting, if you play a dragon, you also get to have a secondary kindred character, to play as when your dragon is busy for several years, as dragons often are because of mechanics.) Your options are a dwarf, elf or gnome.

Dwarves are...dwarves. Short, stocky, like to dig in mines. They're the masters of physical labor for the dragons and also the backbone of most draconic clan military forces. (Because shit, the dragons aren't going to do all the fighting themselves, that'd be silly.) They are preferentially picked as kindred by the bronze, copper, emerald, red and blue dragons, though they're not uncommon as kindred to any but black dragons, who dislike them intensely. Elves are the bureaucrats, construction planners and artist-entertainers for the dragons, keeping the domains running and the dragons entertained. They also do a lot of the farming. Most commonly they're high elves because dragons like to have pet wizards. Elves are preferentially selected as kin by silver, brass, crystal, black and white dragons. Sapphire dragons won't even keep elf vassals, let alone bond with them, due to their intense hatred of drow (and therefore racism against elves), while red dragons won't bond with elves but will allow them as vassals. Gnomes are the most common demihuman in the islands for...some reason...and handle general labor and gemcutting. They are the preferred kindred of gold, amethyst, topaz and green dragons, who have no taste whatsoever, and are never chosen by brass, blue or white dragons, who do.

As noted, bronze, silver and gold dragons are the only metallics with the innate ability to polymorph, and so are the only ones to produce half-dragons. The book does not discuss the chromatic half-dragons, at least in Book One, however. Half-dragons are only ever born to demihuman women - a female dragon never has kids with a demihuman, and dragons using polymorph spells are infertile, apparently. Sure, okay. Interestingly, a half-dwarf half-dragon and a half-elf half-dragon are going to look identical...once they grow up. In childhood, they'll just have weird eyes or hair, but as they grow, they become tall and thin, no matter what demihuman half they are, and in adolescence they manifest dragon powers, which become more potent as they are used. An adult half-dragon is slender, lean and has pointy ears. Their skin is pigmented in the color of the draconic parent, but is normal skin. Their hair is thick and "luxurious" and is a deeper or richer shade of their flesh color. They have long fingers and talon-like nails. Their face has snake-like eyes, elongated features and tiny horns. They have no wings, tails or scales.

Dragons and dragon-clerics use d8s for hit dice, while dragon-mages and dragon-psionicists use d6s. However, anything about actually leveling up in any of those is not in this book. Your number of hit dice is based on your dragon type, modified by dragon age - so another reason golds are better than everyone else, they have more hit dice. Kindred and half-dragons use character classes and follow normal rules. They also have normal level limits. Half-golds can hit 10 as Clerics, 15 as Fighters, 14 as Mages, 10 as Rangers or 9 as Thieves. Half-Silvers have 14 as Clerics, 10 as Fighters, 11 as Mages, 12 as Rangers or 14 as Thieves. Half-Bronzes have 9 as Clerics, 14 as Fighters, 9 as Illusionists, 8 as Mages, 14 as Rangers or 11 as Thieves. AD&D!

Dragon saving throws are based on hit dice rather than level, with normal dragons using 'warrior' saves, dragon-priests using cleric saves, dragon-mages using mage saves and dragon-psionicists using psion saves. Also? A dragon must be the alignment of its dragon type. Period. It's in the rules. You must, no exceptions. Because D&D. Half-dragons and kindred can be whatever, but "usually" follow certain paths - lawful good for half-dragons, chaotic good for elves, lawful good for dwarves, neutral good for gnomes.

At present we have no idea what kindred get or do beyond 'be a dragon's special friend.' We do get some notes, however. First, to level up, a dragon has to be of the appropriate age, and get the appropriate amount of XP, which is where we get the first...attempts, at least, of balance. The stronger a dragon type is, the more XP it needs. So by max level, a level 12 gold dragon is going to need approximately a million more XP than a level 12 crystal dragon, to 'balance' being the stronger type. It' interesting attempt, I guess? It works poorly, IMO, because most groups I have known hate tracking XP. On that note: a dragon and a kindred will rarely be on the same adventures, so whichever is active on the adventure gets 75% of the adventure's XP, and the other 25% goes to the one that's not.

Anyway. Also to level up, a dragon requires a hoard valued in GP equal to the XP it needs to level up. So that's more balance. Also, the hoard requires a "certain amount" of magical treasure, detailed in Book Two. Once all the requirements are met, a dragon can level up, with each level up causing the dragon to go into a deep sleep for several months on top of their hoard, during which they experience a massive growth spurt and increase in size. The dragon sleep also grants an intimate knowledge of the hoard, allowing them a chance to recognize stolen objects on sight, which is important because "if large amounts of a dragon's hoard are stolen, the dragon becomes weaker and cannot advance further until the treasure is replaced."


I Am Surrounded By Proficiency Rules, Please Kill Me

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: I Am Surrounded By Proficiency Rules, Please Kill Me

Okay, so, proficiencies. This system is awful but dragons need to interface with it. Dragons get combat and noncombat proficiencies, rather than weapon and nonweapon. You get different amounts of proficiencies based on what type of dragon you are, and not all of them can be taken at hatching - some you need to level up to get. For the most part, though, you probably have 4 base combat proficiences and 3 base noncombat proficiencies. You gain 2/3s of a combat proficiency per level. Yes, you read that correctly. You get either 1 or 3/2s of a noncombat proficiency per level. Again, yes, you read that right.

Also, every dragon type gets a freew noncombat proficiency. Golds get Language (High Draconic), silvers get Kindredbond, Bronzes get Gaming, Coppers get Tease, Brasses get Debate, Amethysts get Etiquette, Sapphires get Appraising, Emeralds get Set Traps, Topazes get Trick, Crystals get Danger Sense, Reds get Intimidation, Blues and Greens get Tracking, Blacks get Swimming and Whites get Alertness. Dragons do get extra noncombat proficiencies from Intelligence, rather than extra languages - they get half that many, rounding down. Also, you never get combat specialization bonuses as a dragon.

Every combat proficiency takes only one slot, except Claw Attack, which everyone gets for free. Some cannot be taken until leveling up, however. Some noncombats take 2, and again, some must be taken only after leveling up. The combat proficiences are Aerial Combat (needs dragon flight), Bite, Breath Weapon, Claw Attack, Claw/Claw, Claw/Claw/Bite (can't be taken by hatchlings and needs claw/claw and bite proficiencies), Dragon Flight, Kick (non-hatchling), Plummet (non-hatchling), Roll (non-hatchling), Snatch (needs dragon flight), Stall (non-hatchling, needs dragon flight), Tail Mace (needs tail slap), Tail Slap (non-hatchling), Wing Buffet (non-hatchling) and Wing Spur (needs wing buffet).

Noncombat proficiencies are Alertness (hatchling allowed), Ancient History, Astrology, Burrow (hatchling allowed), Chanting, Danger Sense (hatchling allowed), Debate, Direction Sense (hatchling allowed), Endurance, Etiquette, Fishing (hatchling allowed), Gaming, Harness Subconscious (psionic only), Healing, Herbalism, Hunting (hatchling allowed), Hypnosis (psionic only), Intimidation, Kindredbond, Languages (Ancient), Languages (Modern) (hatchling allowed), Local History, Looting, Lore, Meditative Focus (psionics only), Mining, Navigation (hatchling allowed), Observation (hatchling allowed), Poetry, Psioncraft, Reading/Writing, Rejuvenation (psionic only), Religion, Rulership, Set Traps, Singing (hatchling allowed), Spellcraft (P), Spellcraft (W), Stewardship, Survival (hatchling allowed), Swimming (hatchling allowed), Tease, Tracking, Trick and Weather Sense.

I'm going to cover what some of this actually means, but not all. First, Aerial Combat allows you to actually fight while flying. Without it, you can't use any attacks in the air. It doesn't give attacks on its own, but does give a +2 bonus to all attack rolls when flying and attacking someone with less skill in Aerial Combat than you. (You can slot a proficiency more than once; there are not a ton of bonuses to doing so.) Bite lets you bite once per round for normal bite damage; without it, you only get half damage. Breath Weapon lets you fire off your breath weapon (or, if you are a metallic dragon, one of them - metallics have both a normal and a nonlethal gas breath weapon). Without it, you can't use it at all. Optionally, the GM may require Con checks after your third shot each day to see if you can keep going or have run out of breath weapon. Either way, you can only use a breath weapon once every three rounds, and you can't attack, cast spells or use magic powers in the same round as breath weaponing. Claw/Claw lets you attack with your claws twice per round, split as you like between foes. Claw/Claw/Bite lets you claw twice and bite once in a round. Dragon Flight lets Without it, you can't fly. Divebombing gives a bonus to claw attack rolls, and if you divebomb you can also make a wing buffet attack at the same time, if you land immediately after and have the proficiency. If you want to cast spells, you have to glide, causing you to slow down and lose altitude. Kick lets you kick people behind you and maybe cause knockback. Plummet superhcharges your divebomb to let you land on one or more targets and pin them. Roll lets you roll on top of enemies and crush them. Snatch lets you grab small enemies while flying. Then you can drop them or whatever. Stall lets you hover briefly in the air and, if old enough, make a blinding dust cloud. Tail Mace is a weapon you strap to your tail to increase tail slap damage. Tail Sla is an attack that stuns enemies that fail a save vs petrification. Wing Buffet attacks foes to either side and can cause knockdown. Wing Spur is a weapon to increase wing buffet damage.

Appraising is hilarious because while failure just means you can't figure out how much a thing is worth, 20 means you decide the item is valueluess. Danger Sense lets you spot traps or get an initiative bonus against enemies...but only if they were trying to hide. Healing is worthless because not only does it only heal like 1d3 HP per day, but it only works on other dragons unless you spend even more slots on it. Kindredbond is actually required for any dragon because without it you can't have a kindred. The game mandates taking it by 4th level. A bonded pair can communicate via empathic link, and get +1 to attack and AC when cooperating in battle. Looting is literally 'okay, you can tell which the most valuable things in front of you are for however much you can grab right now'. Mining is literally only useful fofr finding mining sites, as dragons don't actually mine - they get dwarves to do it for them. Tease lets you trick an opponent into attacking you directly and ignoring any magic powers or ranged attacks they might have, so it's actually really useful...but a 20 causes them to use their best attack on you. Trick, on the other hand, stuns the target for one round and makes them act after you the round after that, so also really good. But don't roll a 20, because that will stun you, instead. Rolling 20 is really bad in non-attack rolls.

We also get charts that tell us what innate abilities every dragon type gets as they age. Gold dragons, obviously, are the best. Again. Oddly, the ability to communicate with any intelligent creature is a percentage chance, rolled each time you level up, until youactually get it. Innate abilities are usable at will, function like spells and need no components. They take only mental command and have a cast time of 3, but you can only use one per round, and can't attack, breath weapon or cast a spell in that round. Innate spellcasting is also notable in that spell selection is entirely random. The GM either rolls randomly or chooses for you - the player explicitly has no control over it whatsoever. Dragon innate spells need no spellbooks or prayer - they just recharge after you rest. They do have verbal components, but only those, and the cast time is always 1, no matter what. When casting, a dragon can't attack, breath weapon, use special abilities or even fly except to glide. Dragons also get some powers in common - when within a few miles of their lair, they can automatically hear anything happening in it, and dragons always have a chance to detect invisible things. Plus, you know, the fear aura that kicks in at young adult.

Half-dragons also get some powers - claw attacks and breath weapons, of course, and also a few innate magical powers, most of which can only be used once or twice a day. There's a list, which you pick one power from at 2nd, another at 4th and a last at 6th level. Your claws come in at 5th level and the breath weapon at 7th. Also, any time you take one of the 'discretionary' powers, you must lose one demihuman racial ability - so you can trade in dwarven infravision, say, for the gold dragon ability to breath water at will.

Next time: Dragon tactics and breath weapons round out the first book.

Sample Name - Squidkiller of Clan Deepwater

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: Sample Name - Squidkiller of Clan Deepwater

Dragon combat is mostly standard for 2e. Dragon THAC0 is that of a warrior of level equal to their HD, dragon-priests use priest THAC0, mages use wizard and psionicists use psion. Also, a dragon's HDs determine the effective plus of their claws for getting past damage immunities, with HD 4-5 being equivalent to +1 weapons, 6-7 +2, 8-9 +3 and 10+ +4. Now, tactics of the dragons!

Golds prefer to use Detect Lie and Detect Gems before combat starts, for...some reason, then use their Bless and luck bonus powers to buff themselves. They heavily use magic in combat. They can either breath a 90 foot cone of fire or a 50 foot cloud of chlorine gas. Silvers will use their feather fall powers to stop projectiles and wall of fog or control weather to confuse foes before moving in. If very angry, they may use reverse gravity to fling foes into the air, while against aerial foes they will create and hide in clouds to ambush from. They can breath a cone of cold or a cloud of a paralyzing gas. Bronzes will prefer to bribe foes or use their repulsion breath to get rid of them before a fight, and often rely on ESP powers to learn the intentions of potential enemies. In a fight, they use wall of fog to blind a foe before charging in, and underwater, they use airy water powers to ensure their breath remains useful. They can either breath lightning bolts or a cloud of repulsion gas that forces enemies away.

Coppers like to tease and taunt their foes into mistakes, and will often use terrain to get out of enemy reach. They jump around a lot and often transmute rocks to mud and kick enemies into the mud. There, they either crush with walls of stone or grab enemies and fly into the air. Against aerial foes, they like to draw enemies into narrow areas and use their spider climb powers to maneuver while the enemy crashes into walls. They can either breathe a cloud of slow gas or a blast of acid. Brasses avoid combat when possible, and will make dust clouds and control wind to disorient foes before charging or grabbing. They also use their temperature control abilities to make foes uncomfortable, and the younger ones will flee if really in danger. They can breathe either sleep gas or a heat blast. Amethysts will attack first with their breath, then rely on psionics and magic. They refuse to ever hide or ambush, but will run if faced with death. Their 'breath' is actually them vomiting up a crystal lozenge that explodes with concussive force that can knock people out.

Sapphires begin combat with breath weapon, then move to spells and physical attacks, using its psionics and special powers to escape if overpowered. Their breath is a nearly inaudible supersonic blast that both hurts people and causes fear. Emeralds like to attack from ambush, using breath and claws to disable as many foes as possible but retreating if in real danger. Their breath is a stunning sonic blast. Topazes start with their psionics, then spells and innate powers, saving their breath and physical attacks until they get hurt. They will happily retreat or surrender falsely, using the chance to build to a hit-and-run ambush before actually fleeing. They breathe a magical strength-draining dehydration blast. Crystals use their charm person powers to avoid fights, and will use their breath to disorient foes, following up with spells and innate powers. They use physical attacks only as a last resort. Their breath is a cone of glowing shards that blind and cut.

Reds prefer to attack physically so as to leave treasure intact, and use their breath and other powers only against obviously powerful foes. They breathe fire. Blues prefer to attack with breath from a distance, to reduce risk to themselves. They then attack from above, using innate powers as needed. They have a lightning breath. Greens love fighting and stalk prey before they attack. Against a tough foe, they use their breath and then a combo of spells and powers. Against weak foes, they challenge quickly and rely only physical attacks, to keep the fight going as long as possible. They breathe clouds of poisonous chlorine. Blacks attack from ambush, using their special powers first, then breath, then claws and teeth. Their breath is an acid blast. Whites start with breath and powers, then charge into melee. They breath a cone of frost.

While most dragon disputes are handled diplomatically, the Council allows formal challenges - the Challenge of Claw and Wing. In a formal duel, two dragons meet at the Council Aerie, and must remain airborne the whole fight. The first to land for any reason is the loser, and the only weapons allowed are wings, claws and innate abilities - no breath weapons, spells or psionics. Anyone that breaks the rules loses. Note that any flying creature that hits half HP must land ASAP, and at 20% HP you can't even glide and just fall out of the sky. Due to the rules, these fights are rarely lethal - more often, someone hits half HP and is forced to land.

Next time: Book Two.

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posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: Shitty Image Quality Brought To You By Internet Restrictions

The Io's Blood islands are far from any human lands, located deep in the oceans and crossing from the northern Ice Sea through the Coral and Blood Seas, and on to the southern Burning Sea. All islands within the chain are ruled by dragons, who have a myth about their creation. See, the whole of the world was made by the great Io, the Ninefold Dragon, the Swallower of Shades, Great Emerald Wheel, the Concordant Dragon and Sire of All Creation. Dragons were his first and favorite children, but when he turned his attention to the world he had made, he found that despite all he had given them as natural gifts, they were not ruling over the world in harmony. Instead, they warred with each other incessantly. And so, Io came forth to his children to end the Dragon War, declaring: "If any dragon's blood should be spilt, let it be mine and mine alone!" And so he sliced his own belly, and let his fiery blood drop into the sea. Its power set the Ice Sea steaming, seperated the Blood and Coral Seas and set the Burning Sea alight. As the blood cooled, it formed islands, and Io sent dreams to the great sages of the dragons, urging each to lead their people to the islands formed by his holy blood, to live in true harmony as was the birthright of Io's finest children.

Once the migrations began, the Concordant Dragon left. He would not force his children to follow his dream, but he could not bear to watch if they failed. And so, Io traveled to other worlds, watching them for a time to keep from knowing if his children failed. Eventually, however, he returned - and while he found that his islands were inhabited by dragons, they were not at peace. Instead, they killed each other. Again he sought to guide them by dreams, but the Dragon War was so terrible that even these were ignored. Thus, he had but one option: to send his avatar, an immense great wyrm. Even this avatar could not end the Io came up with a new plan. He declared too his children: "If you want a war, I will give you war." And so Io went beyond the Blood Sea, finding a perfect enemy: the human tribes, who hated and feared the dragons but had far greater numbers. Io's avatar appeared to the humans, who thought it a god. He inspired them to fight the dragons, teaching the humans where to strike and how to fight that they might slay even a great wyrm, teaching them to make armor and weapons and great ships.

The dragons were utterly unprepared. They had fought the fire and frost giants before, but never anything like the massive fleets the humans sent, nor the dragon slayers that rode them. They didn't even notice the invasion at first, not fearing the small creatures that came on the ships. Not until the systematic murder of dragons began. The disorganized dragons were on the verge of destruction by the dragon slayers, but Io sent his avatar to three dragons - Exaurdon the Gold, Starratiel the Amethyst and Bloodtide the Red, who listened to the words of the Ninefold Dragon: "No one dragon clan can stop this horde, but together, unified as the many forms of Io himself, you can." And so the three united the dragons, making a great plan. Together, the dragons of the islands drove away the humans, killing the dragon slayers and destroying their ships. Individually, they could not defeat the army of slayers, but together, they could cover each other and slaughter the humans. Io rejoiced in their victory, certain now that his children would live in harmony...but again, he was wrong. With the humans gone, the dragons turned once more to internal warfare. Io was furious. Once more, Io sent visions to his three prophets. Exaurdon was shown a great aerie on a golden plain, where all dragons might gather. Bloodtide foresaw great, formal challenges to replace the murderous dragon wars. Starratiel dreamed of a great council to mediate between dragon clans. They came together once more, and so the Council of Wyrms was born.

The Io's Blood chain is over 60 islands, with many different climates. The closest land masses are to the far north and far south, the lands of the frost giants and fire giants respectively. The dragons know little of these lands, and even less about the others, in the far reaches of the world. They know of small, desolate islands, but those have very little in the way of inhabitants. In practical terms, the Io's Blood is essentially a world of its own, broken into three parts - the north, center and south. The northern islands' three largest are Everwinter, Barren Isle and Glacianta. These are cold, arctic islands, home to the white, amethyst and crystal dragon clans. In the far north, the blindingly white lands make daytime travel hard, as even the smallest bit of sunlight makes the ice a dazzling, blinding display, and by night, few places are as cold and black. The islands are home to many monsters - behirs, basilisks, remorhazes, ogres, kobolds, orcs and trolls. Dwarves and gnomes also live there, primarily as dragon vassals, and a few primitive human tribes survive, descendants of the ancient dragon slayers. Occasional frost giants wander the area in search of dragons to capture and enslave, to bring north to their homeland.

The temperate islands in the center are bordered by the Blood Sea in the east and the Coral Sea in the west. The largest isles are Exaurdon, Starshine, Jade and Emerald, as well as the Council Aerie on All Clans Island. There is also the important island of Fang, where young dragons are sent to test their skills against the wild beasts. The temperate area follows a regular seasonal cycle with abrupt switches between seasons, becoming warm and hot, then cold and frozen in turn.

The sputhern region is a hot, dry set of islands that move into tropical ones as you head further south. The desert islands include Rockshore, Aridia and Inferno, as well as the important (but small) Wizard's Isle, where dragons that seek to understand the arcane secrets of the world are taught. There is also the Forbidden Island, of which no elder will speak and from which no young dragon returns. The coppers, brass and blues command these lands. The jungles to the south begin on Bloodtide, and the other major islands include Fireshore, Flamestrike, Storm, Lightning and Oracle islands. These are home to black, red, emerald and silver clans, along with the underground sapphires, plus all kinds of monstrous prey, from yuan-ti to goblins to lizardmen to humans to the rare fire giant.

The gold dragons are divided into the clans Exaurdon, Justice, Resplendence, Sunblaze and Triumph. The silver dragons have clans Brightscale, Cloudwalker, Coldwing, Fog, Pinnacle and Summit. The bronze have clans Battlewing, Cliffwalker, Seaview, Tempest and Waveflier. The coppers have Becubard, Clawstrike, Cutharn, Fastwing, Highjump, Rockclaw, Stoneproud and Sunleap. The brass clans are Blisterclaw, Dewfeast, Drywing, Dustspinner, Hotwind, Sandtail and Sungazer. Several of the clans receive information in the book, while the GM is left to make up histories for the rest.

Clan Exaurdon is the largest, eldest and most respected gold dragon clan. It rules most of Exaurdon Isle, from the north forests to the central plains. It has two major cities - the City of Gold which overlooks All Clans Isle and is built largely of gold-plated buildings, and the city of Summer in the west, where the elves study magic and lore, and grow the city itself from living wood. Clan Exaurdon is believes strongly in freedom and grants more independence to its vassals than any other clan. It is a clan focused on learning and art, with vassals allowed to pursue their own interests and better themselves, as long as they serve and work in harmony with the dragons. The clan is led by the great wyrm Magnern the Gold, whose lair is deep beneath the City of Gold and whose hoard is believed to fill a chamber half the size of the city itself. He is far more concerned with ruling the island than anything else, leaving the clan's council seat to his daughter and lord advocate Aureen. His current kindred is the elf mage Luniel Sarrenth, who oversees day to day life in Exaurdon and who speaks for his master most of the time. While no clan is openly its enemy, most other clans are deeply envious of the wealth of Clan Exaurdon. Clan Resplendence in particular believes they are better suited to be the leading gold dragon clan and oppose Exaurdon in debate frequently. Firebrand the Red, leader of Clan Bloodtide, despises Magnern personally and so actively opposes Clan Exaurdon in council at every turn, always plotting ways to take the clan down. While he has never carried out any of these plans, Firebrand's hatred and jealousy are growing.

Next time: Clans Sunblaze, Cloudwalker, Pinnacle and Tempest.


posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post


Clan Sunblaze is a relatively young clan, established on Sunblaze Isle only one draconic generation ago. It is nor ruled by Sunray the Gold, daughter of the original leader, Sunblaze. They rule all of Sunblaze Isle, including its mountain chain along the shoreline and into the sea. They were former members of Clan Justice that wanted more freedom than Justice's rigid laws allowed. While still Lawful Good, they interpret both of those things more broadly than Clan Justice does by far. They have barely 30 dragons in the clan, all fairly young, and even Sunray herself is merely a 324-year old mature adult. Most of the clan lives in the City of the Sun, in the eastern mountains of the island. They have few vassals in the city, as the liberal view on law and goodness is only for dragons, not vassal races, who must live in feudal villages around the mountain. Most of the island is still wild, with numerous monsters still living in the areas the dragons have not yet cleared out. Sunray is very young for a clan leader, forced into the role when her father unexpectedly fell in battle against the fire giants, though he did manage to win the battle before his death. Sunray believes that the red dragons of Clan Magma either caused the invasion or at least helped the giants, but she has no proof of this at all. She knows her small clan and relatively weak forces make her island a tempting target for the more warlike dragon clans, and she wants to grow her clan's numbers or build strong alliances to stave off that danger. Clan Sunblaze is on pretty good terms with the amethyst Clan Starratiel, who live on nearby Starshine Isle, as both oppose Starshine's other clan - the green dragons of Clan Verdiste, who see Sunblaze as weak and ripe for plundering.

Clan Cloudwalker is the most powerful of the silver dragon clans, maintaining its domain in the northern peaks of the Silver Mountains and the jungle surrounding them on Silver Island. Their domain's capital is Cloud City, due to the permanent cloud cover around the peak it is built on. It is actually made of solid clouds, thanks to potent enchantments. Here, the demihuman vassals mingle freely with the dragons, as well as living in villages in the jungle below. The clan's leader is the great wyrm Agrannus, a cheerful and kind old lizard who lets anyone into his borders that has a good heart and is willing to contribute. Those that do not do their part for society are cast out once it becomes clear that they will not do anything no matter what. For those that want to contribute, however, the domain is a virtual paradise. Vassal races hold many important positions, and some are even taken as lifemates by dragons. Agrannus' current kindred is the elf fighter/mage Ryella, is also his mate. She handles the domain's daily business, and is well-loved by the people. The dwarf Longbeard also serves an important role, designing and expanding Cloud City. While Clan Cloudwalker is peaceful, they maintain a very strong military due to their dangerous neighbors, the black Clan Nightshriek of Dark Swamp Isle, who are happy to raid the demihumans of Silver Isle, and the red Clan Vermilion of Flame Strike Isle, who are growing far too large and need to either split their clan or conquer new territory. Vermilion the Fourth sees the former as unacceptable, so he wants to take the Silver Mountains for his own, if he can just beat Clan Cloudwalker. So far, the Council has kept this from becoming an all-out war, but the tensions are still rising.

Clan Pinnacle also lives in the Silver Mountains, mostly on the two southernmost islands. Their city, Pinnacle, uses the same cloud enchantments as Cloud City, but on a smaller scale. While Pinnacle and the peaks are abuzz with activity, the rest of Pinnacle territory is practically deserted, save for monsters and animals. The clan prefers the high places they've built up. It is believed that a half-dragon settlement exists somewhere in the valleys, and rumor has it that the clan lord, Firstclaw, even encourages their presence. Some believe that the half-dragons are actually led by one of Firstclaw's own children, though none dare say it in his presence. Many half-dragons seek Pinnacle lands as a result of these rumors, braving the many dangers of the journey in hope of finding a home. Whether that home exists is unknown. Firstclaw himself rules from a floating cloud-castle above the island, hiding the summit where his lair extends down to a cave for his hoard. However, Firstclaw and the dragons of Clan Pinnacle spend most of their time polymorphed and living among the demihumans, which makes other clans look down on them, seeing it as a weakness or even a mental illness. Casual visitors often have trouble telling a polymorphed dragon from a normal demihuman in Pinnacle, and the vassals share much of the decision-making with their lords, with very blurred lines of authority. Pinnacle's main administrator is the gnome woman Cerellen, who handles most details so Firstclaw can deal with larger problems. The position of First Administrator is actually hereditary in her family. Clan Pinnacle is friendly with the other silver clans and trades with the clans of the Bronze Cliffs, but are often raided by Clan Vermilion in its desire to expand into their lands. They are also a frequent target of fire giants from beyond the Burning Sea, who hunt their young and their eggs to be taken as slaves and crafting materials.

Clan Tempest is one of the largest of the bronze clans, ruling from the city of Water's Edge to northern face of the Bronze Cliffs - around 250 miles by 100 miles on Fireshore Island. Most of its dragons live in cliffside lairs, with their vassals tending jungle plantations or seaside fishing villages, while clan leadership rules from Water's Edge, which is built into both natural and constructed caverns, with many aeries and rising towers from the cliffside. Clan Tempest has a very large military, both land and naval, though its navy is unsuited to the open sea rather than interisland travel. While the naval vessels are warships by design, they are mostly used for fishing these days. The great wyrm Whitescale rules over Clan Tempest. His name comes from a single white scale on his chest, and his always attended by a demihuman entourage, who challenge him with riddles and puzzles. He is largely inactive these days due to age, and mostly deals with business matters for the clan, leaving all else to his council of advisors and his three sons, Whiteclaw, Stormwing and Seatooth. Clan Tempest is always skirmishing against the black dragons of Clan Mire, who share Fireshore Island with them. They battle over the unclaimed jungle that seperates their two domains. They also sometimes battle against the topaz Clan Seaspray over fishing rights.

Clan Cutharn is a recently formed copper clan. They were once part of Clan Rockclaw, the eldest and most powerful copper clan, but after a complex prank against the Rockclaw clan lord failed to get a good response, the prankster Lord Advocate Cutharn was insulted that his ingenuity was not recognized. Instead, he was banished. The details of the prank remain a mystery, but it is known that it caused a permanent rash of red spots along Lord Venomtail of Rockclaw's tail. Cutharn's allies and vassals moved with him to the shores of Rockshore Isle and declared themselves a new clan. It took five battles and seven council debates, but they have finally received a seat on the Council of Wyrms...but peace remains uneasy. The largest settlement in their land is the village of Cutharn, built around a large mine. It is primitive compared to even the smallest Rockclaw city, Cracked Peak, let alone anything bigger, and is a massive, open-topped maze surrounding the mine, which mostly produces silver and gold. Cutharn was an adult when he broke away, but is now an old dragon with a stable domain. He personally attends all meetings of the Council of Wyrms, so his son Necuthus usually handles the domain itself and is master of its military. Cutharn believes in a strong defense to maintain peace with Clan Rockclaw. Cutharn's kindred, the dwarf Kennbred, oversees the mine and defense of the village. Clan Rockclaw still wants the land Cutharn took back, and they don't see Clan Cutharn as a real clan at all - just disobedient children to be punished and then brought back to the fold. However, now they must be less overt in their efforts, as the Council has declared Cutharn a clan.

Clan Dewfeast lives on the southwest desert of Aridia Isle, where they maintain the village of Trade Town. It is a trading hub between the north and south of the island chain and has always been a neutral site for other clans to use on long flights and trade delegations. The domain is also home to Brasstown, a desert city that is the clan's capital. Brasstown is known for its baked clay sculptures and sand aeries for dragons to bask on. While some vassals live in the city, most instead live in scattered desert villages built around oases. Brazzen the Brass leads the clan from his Brasstown lair and prefers to meet visitors while sunbathing. He loves to talk about all kinds of incredibly boring and nerdy trivia, but refusing his conversation is an insult, and he likes to punish insults by having people buried to the neck in sand in front of his bathing platform, so he can talk to a captive audience. He regularly attends Council meetings as well. The demihumans of Dewfeast have little in the way of freedom or power - they're basically servants. All positions of real authority are held by dragons, and while there are rumors of underground efforts at demihuman rights, no evidence of actual rebellion has yet been found. Clan Dewfeast is on good terms with most clans thanks to Trade Town, and even the chromatics like them. The only openly hostile clan is the blue Clan Lightningwing, who share Aridia Isle and want some of Dewfeast's land. The last battle between them became a brief war that killed 50 vassals and six dragons (totaling both sides), and the Council is now monitoring the conflict to avoid escalation, though Lightningwing and her young clan have been pushing the boundaries.

The gem dragon clans now! There are four amethyst clans: Corum, Majyst, Regalen and Starratiel. The sapphires have five, largely beneath Bloodtide and Fireshore islands: Battlecry, Boldtail, Glitterwing, Phlare and Warclaw. The emerald clans are Firelake, Flamestrider, Maragdus, Sharpwail and Sonis. The topaz clans are Deepwater, Dryair, Pazus and Seaspray. The crystal clans are Coldshard, Luckwing, Moonlight, Sparkle, Starlight and Sunlight. Again, we get a few clan writeups, with the GM left to come up with the rest.

Clan Majyst rules Majyst Isle and has been one of the most influential gem clans of the last few generations. Their capital city, Clear Lake, is carved into forested hills around a large freshwater lake, and it is mostly ruled by amethyst democracy. It's a community of scholarship and learning, which offers much freedom to both dragon and vassal. Gemmena, a great wyrm, rules the clan and sees herself as the champion of the neutral dragons. Many other clans do defer to her leadership, so she's not far wrong. She tries to keep her clan and its allies out of the metallic/chromatic conflicts, as long as those don't endanger any gem dragons. Clan Majyst has had some conflict with the white Clan Frostwind raiding them for food, however. Their main allies are Clan Seaspray and Clan Sparkle.

Clan Warclaw are sapphires that live beneath the northeast mountains of Fireshore Island. They rule from Bottomtown, a subterranean settlement under an extinct volcano, and are led by Phirebolt. Yes, Phirebolt. Warclaw's army of dwarves, dragons and gnomes are the best-trained of all the clans, and the clan spends most of its time either growing or maintaining its forces. Gnomes are the favored vassals of the clan, with dwarves largely left to menial duties, both in and out of the army. Warclaw refuses to use elves in any way. The clan defeated its enemies long ago, and has been at peace for three generations due to its reputation for martial strength, but they continue to act as if on the verge of war. Phirebolt, after all, follows his family's tradition of maintaining peak fighting condition, and he can remember the battles with the drow in his youth, and the dangers they represented. He swore he'd never allow such a thing ever again. His daughters, Phyre and Phlame (yes, really) command the elite lair guard, protecting Warclaw's caverns against all threat. Clan Warclaw maintains strong ties with Clan Sharpwail, who rule the lands under which Warclaw has settled, and the two clans trade and assist each others' defenses.

Next time: Clans Maragdus, Deepwater and Starlight.

We Are The Crystal Gem Dragons

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: We Are The Crystal Gem Dragons

Clan Maragdus lives in the central mountains of Bloodtide Island. Their domain is closed to all outsiders and visitors, and they are quite xenophobic, as are most emerald dragon clans. Those with legitimate business must visit the vassal towns along the border, where visitors are, if not welcomed, at least tolerated. Most of the vassals are dwarves and gnomes, who handle all outside relations even with other dragons. The central city of Quietfire, built on a volcanic rim, maintain Maragdus' library of history and lore, and while Clan Maragdus is paranoid, it is also deeply curious about the goings on around it, and know more of the island chain's history and the lands beyond than any other clan, they few of them ever see those lands personally. The ruler of the clan is the great wyrm Maragdus, and even his own subjects are not allowed in his lair, which he rarely leaves. Indeed, only his kindred, the gnome woman Greltha, is allowed in. She takes care of all of his needs, including meeting with others he doesn't want to see. Maragdus' son, Aldus, is utterly unlike most emeralds, being outgoing and friendly. He loves to learn things and make friends, and privately, Maragdus believes the young dragon had some kind of shock while in the egg. However, Aldus is still allowed to serve as the clan's representative on the Council of Wyrms. Clan Maragdus maintains a treaty with Clan Battlecry - not out of trust, but because Maragdus fears them less than he fears the red dragons of Clan Firetongue, who live nearby and have frequently raided Maragdus' vassal villages in search of treasure.

Clan Deepwater lives on the southwest shore of Exaurdon Isle and is quite insular. Their capital, Coral City, is built on the sea by a mix of magic and careful coral tending. They use sea elves to care for the coral itself, while dragon-mages and dragon-priests shape it with spells. Despite the beauty, however, they do not welcome tourism or outsiders. Their vassals are largely elves and gnomes, with the landbound elves farming and fishing on the shore and the gnomes living in Coral City as servants or in coastal villages. The master of the clan is Squidkiller, who rules from an undersea grotto. He often hunts sea creatures around Coral City, and he despises all intruders, dragon or otherwise, so has left standing orders to drive out anyone that drops by. He has no patience for the Council and rarely even sends a representative. The green Clan Treesplitter lives nearby and dislikes not controlling the Deepwater lands, so they are often in conflict. However, because Squidkiller refuses to bring this up to the Council, he may well lose some of his lands despite his fierce defenses.

Clan Starlight lives in the far north, on Everwinter. They are a carefree, happy band of crystal dragons who build snow towers and ice sculptures of great beauty. The master of the clan is Stargazer the Old, but he (like most crystals) is irresponsible and leaves much of the domain's maintenance to his kindred, the elf priest Estera Icestrider, who consults with him only on matters of great importance. Even the other dragons bow to Estera's lead, though she is always sure to make her orders sound like suggestions. Stargazer's son, Skyrunner the Mage, is the clan's representative on the Council, and spends most of his time at the Council Aerie studying magic and lore. Skyrunner wants to gain as much knowledge as he can to be better able to lead the clan once his father dies, but his mother believes he should just leave that shit to the demihumans and spend his time playing around. Clan Starlight is often in danger of frost giant slave raids or hungry attacks by the white dragons of Clan Icetooth, as well as general danger from the local monsters, as they are the weakest kind of dragon.

The chromatic clans! The red clans are Bloodtide, Firetongue, Magma, Scortch and Vermilion. The blue clans are Clearsky, Jagtail, Lightningwing, Sandshaper, Sharpbolt and Swiftclaw. The green clans are Darkcloud, Evilwood, Foulgrove, Jadress, Treesplitter and Veriste. The black clans are Blackmoon, Blackwater, Boghold, Lurker, Mire, Nighthunt and Nightshriek. The white clans are Chillblood, Coldfire, Desolate, Everwinter, Frostwind, Glare, Iceteeth and Illsnow. You know the deal.

Clan Bloodtide rules over much of Bloodtide Island from three cities of stone and lava, carved out by slaves. The largest is Malice, home of the clan ruler, Firebrand. The realm is an oppressive one, home to hordes of slaves with broken spirits. Steaming mist covers the streets, and the lava lights even the night with a dim glow. The normally unbearable jungle heat is made even worse in the mountain cities, but the red dragons enjoy it. Firebrand is a great wyrm whose reign has been long and influential. He despises gold dragons, particularly Clan Exaurdon, and sees them as the only real threat to him taking over all the islands. He's dreamed up many plots to get rid of them, but acts on none, as he is unconfident in success. Everyone near Clan Bloodtide feels threatened by their greed, and they need many slaves to maintain their mines and lairs. They are happy to raid others to get those slaves, and will even capture other dragons if they can get away with it.

Clan Foulgrove lives in the heart of the Emerald Forest and are constantly plotting their own advancement. The green dragons have warped the forest into vile shapes and structures to form the living city Foulgrove, which is 25 square miles of living caves. The plants are apparently in pain, for reasons, and the green dragons enjoy it. The ruler of the clan is Chlorr the Green, who demands every living being in the forest bow to her. She commands not only demihuman vassals but a tribe of bugbears who worship her as a god and a small drow tribe that serve as her taskmasters. Clan Foulgrove has spies everywhere, gathering information Chlorr can use at the Council. Clan Foulgrove has no allies, but will viciously use any weakness they find. Part of their land, however, has been taken over by a banshee, and even the dragons avoid this Groaning Wood now, as they have no more resistance to anyone else against the banshee's killing wail. Some say the banshee is the mad spirit of the forest in pain, while others believe she is the ghost of an elf once enslaved by the clan who will not rest until all of Foulgrove's elves are free.

Clan Blackmoon lives in the southern swamps of Storm Island. They've never been a wealthy or powerful clan, and they have neither cities nor even many villages. They control a single mine, and little else. Once, it seemed they'd be absorbed by Clan Mire, and even the Council didn't take them seriously. That's all about to change, if the clan's lord, Deathstream, has his way. While Deathstream isn't very powerful, he has made a secret pact with Infernis, a dracolich that dates back to the Dragon War. Infernis is the true master of the clan now, a former red dragon that once ruled Clan Magma in life. He died at the hands of the gold dragon Baraster before the dragon slayers came, and now, Infernis wants revenge on Baraster's descendants. He's been looking for servants, and has finally found them in Clan Blackmoon. Few of Deathstream's kin know about Infernis, and they just think Deathstream has gotten more ambitious of late and found some source of wealth. As long as things keep going well, though, they probably wouldn't care even if they did find out. Infernis' plan now calls for the conquest of Clan Jagtail and the island of Storm. Deathstream's kindred, the gnome Kuniff Dell, is terrified of Infernis and his influence on Deathstream. He leads the feral demihumans of the clan and believes Infernis has come to destroy the laws and customs of dragon society. He is deeply tempted to reveal the dracolich, but fears the wrath of Infernis and Deathstream.

In general, a clan's ruler is known as a dragon lord, with all other dragons of a clan being known as dominates. Dragons earn no titles by birth, but must all earn them. A dragon lord's second in command is the grand lord advocate, who is served by the lords advocate, then the advocates, then the grand lord dominor, then the lords dominor, then the grand champion, and at the bottom, the champions. Once a dragon is named a champion, they are on the path to authority in the clan. The dragon lord's family are known as lordlings, but have little actual power just from that. They get a few privileges, but must earn everything else. However, once they do get rank, they are often expected to serve at higher level than others...and with greater success.

Any dragon under the age of adult can be called 'master,' while older dragons are 'grand master' regardless of rank. This began in vassal usage, but now even dragons often use the terms. There's also formal rules of address in High Draconic. All dragons of higher rank are to be addressed by title, while those of lower rank must only be called by name. Equal rank gets name but a prefix of respect - 'ul' for dragons up to level 5, and 'ur' for above that. In meetings of many dragon types, there are also prefixes for each type - 'au' for golds, 'ag' for silvers, 'cn' for bronze, 'cu' for copper, 'zu' for brass, 'ys' for amethyst, 'ir' for sapphire, 'al' for emerald, 'op' for topaz, 'ry' for crystal, 'cr' for red, 'az' for blue, 've' for green, 'dr' for black and 'li' for white. So a young white dragon named Snowfire could be ul-Snowfire or li'Snowfire, if for some reason you wanted to sound like an idiot.

Next time: Not clans.

Cultural Dragon Something Something

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: Cultural Dragon Something Something

For the most part, the cultures of the Dragon's Blood are those of the clans that rule it. However, for the most part, in vassal villages and settlements, the vassals are allowed to express their own heritage and culture because no one actually cares. In areas claimed by multiple clans (or no clan), other cultures can thrive. Humanoid tribes of all sorts squat in these areas - sometimes as nomads or minor vassals, sometimes not. Most of these are primitive monster clans, little more than tribes of bugbears, ogres, yuan-ti or other such creatures. A few drow and duergar settlements exist underground, independent of the dragons, but try to avoid drawing attention to themselves anywhere near where a sapphire clan lives. The smallest group is easily the human remnant, the descendants of the few survivors of the dragon slayer fleet. They were trapped on the islands and lived as fugitives, and their modern descendants live on the run, hiding from dragons. They are usually ignored and left alone, however, unless they settle in large numbers and attract attention. They produce no dragon slayers any more - all of those now come from far off lands, when they come at all.

Dragons use the gold piece standard for money, but do not mint official coins much. Instead, they just assign a gold value to items for trade, and will as easily accept precious gems or metals as coinage, art, service or even magic items. It's essentially a barter economy that has developed a method of assigning a relatively objective value to things. Pretty much every domain has a signature 'native' industry - mining, metal or gemcrafting, producing food, making magic all depends on what the local vassals are good at and the local dragons want them to do. No clan is truly self-sufficient, and trade between clans is the basis of the dragon economy. Most economic labor is performed by vassals rather than dragons, who largely supervise at best. Dragons, after all, have better things to do. You know because they say so.

All Clans Isle was once part of the personal domain of the dragon Starratiel, way back when. She moved her clan to Starshine Island and gave up her own to be the site of the Council of Wyrms. Every clan sent vassals, mainly dwarves and gnomes, to build the immense council aerie, while Exaurdon, Starratiel and Bloodtide came up with the rules. Starratiel gave her clan to her eldest son and dedicated herself to being the council caretaker, with her balanced and neutral perspective. To this day, the council caretaker is always an amethyst of lineal descent from Starratiel herself. The Council's laws are, at least theoretically, drawn up from the laws laid down by Io, as stated by the Custodians of Concordance. One wyrm from each clan sits on the Council, and their primary goal is avoiding clan wars. All Council decisions are final and binding on all dragons, no exceptions, and when disagreements cannot be resolved, they are to be solved by the Challenge of Claw and Wing in the sky above the aerie.

The Council is strictly divided into two bodies - the Platform of Wyrms, who vote, and the Platform of Dominates, who do not but can partake in debate. The members of the Platform of Wyrms are addressed as Councillor, or Grand Councillor for great wyrms. Every clan has a right to one representative on the Platform of Wyrms, but no dragon under the age of 1000 years may be a councillor, so not all clans can exercise their right. Relatively young clans often have no wyrms in membership. Further, some clans who do have wyrms choose not to attend meetings without a good reason (in their own minds). The Platform of Dominates, on the other hand, covers every dragon. Period. Any dragon of rank may sit on the Platform of Dominates, and often a clan's official Council representative will be a lesser ranking, younger dominate who does not vote. In practice, attendance is limited by space, so not all dragons can attend, but the Council will rarely hold meetings in the open air to allow more speakers. The Platform of Dominates may do anything except take part in the final vote, and even the children of clan dragon lords can't break that rule. Half-dragons and vassal races have no standing in the Council whatsoever, and are often barred from even attending meetings. If a meeting is so barred, any non-dragon who remains on the aerie is killed.

The Council Aerie is a massive artificial cave structure built on an island of rolling plains and hills. It is 16,000 feet long and at its highest point 5000 feet tall. It's made from a single piece of stone taken from a mountaintop on Exaurdon Island, and took 50 years of constant labor by many vassals to complete. Magic was used, but even so, it was a set of many great feats to make. There are fifteen entrances, equidistant, around the top of the aerie. Each is meant for one of the fifteen dragon types, and by tradition only those dragons may use the appropriate entrance. The custodians of the Aerie may use any portal, and are considered by law to belong to all clans simultaneously due to their duty in raising hatchlings and protecting the aerie. The aerie also has many basking surfaces for dragons to rest on and observe formal challenges from. Most of the interior is a great meeting hall, 10,000 feet long and 4000 wide. It is nearly 5000 feet high, with stone perches throughout the top 2000 feet. Tunnels lead to visitor lairs suitable for every dragon type. The Platform of Wyrms, obviously, get nicer ones. The custodians use some other caves as lairs, treasuries and hatcheries for the eggs that each clan must provide the Council.

The current Grand Custodian is the great wyrm Mykell. She and her family keep the Council operating, assisted by one tribe each of elves, gnomes and dwarves as well as a small group of dragons from the various clans. She moderates the debates, monitors decisions, keeps the records and oversees upkeep of the island and aerie. She is a dedicated devotee of the council's ideals, and she knows more history of the islands than just about anyone. When the Council meets, her word is law, to ensure debates do not devolve into chaos. However, she cannot vote except to break ties, in which case she is required to vote and may not abstain. Mykell does not use her authority lightly or without cause, and has kept the Council running smoothly for centuries. Everyone respects her, and she is always fair and balanced. Once a decision is reached by the Council, she sends one of her younger assistants to carry out the details, and only ever leaves the island herself in the most sensitive situations. She is usually able to persuade everyone to obey the Council, but will not hesitate to call a session to punish those who refuse to obey her words or implied threats. However, her goal is always to ensure compliance, never to humiliate. In rare situations, she may even assemble a strike force of dragons to enforce the Council's will. Between sessions, she and her attendants keep the island in good repair, mostly with the work of the vassals that serve them. Each clan tithes gems to the aerie annually, and the custodians also care for the treasures of the Council - magical items, gold, gems and objects of unusual origin, mostly.

The last and most important function of the Council custodians is to care for eggs. Every 25 years, each clan must turn one egg over to the Council, to be cared for in the Aerie hatcheries. These hatchlings are then raised by Mykell and the custodians, to be taught not just about their type and clan but also how to work together, in the way that Io commanded long ago. They serve the Council on various tasks, learn skills and engage in quests. Once they become juveniles, they are sent home and the next set of hatchlings takes their place. A few stay on as permanent custodians, to help teach the next generation. Most Custodians of Concordance, however, are descended from Starratiel. They are the priests of Io, promoting harmony among dragons, and few outside the council custodians recognize the religious connotations of the job. They keep their worship private and secret, even from the hatchlings they train, as most dragons would balk at the Council having obvious religious overtones. The Custodians of Concordance see it as their job to ensure the balance among dragons is never broken, to avoid another Dragon War.

A meeting of the Council can be called by one of three means. First, the Grand Custodian may call a meeting at any time, for any valid reasons. Mykell usually waits until enough petitions have piled up to fill an agenda before she summons a meeting, but will not hesitate if an emergency comes up or important information must be shared to the whole of dragonkind. Second, any dragon over the age of 1000 may summon the Council by use of an orb of Io, one of the magical artifacts given to each clan. Permission is not required, but tradition holds that this method should only be used for issues of crucial importance to the whole of dragonkind, rather than anything limited to mere single clan or dragon type. Otherwise, send your petition to the Custodians. Finally, a meeting of the Council can be called by a 'consensus of advocates.' At least three dominates of advocate rank or higher are considered a consensus, provided that they are all of different dragon types, and no more than two are of the same family (chromatic, metallic or gem). The consensus must take their request either to the Grand Custodian or a dragon lord, and tradition holds that this dragon is then honorbound to call the Council forth via the orbs of Io. Once the Council is asembled, the consensus is to address them, though they are still bound by council rules.

Next time: What exactly is an orb of Io, anyway?

The 89 Dragonballs

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: The 89 Dragonballs

So, every clan possesses an orb of Io, and a matching orb also rests in the Council aerie. Any dragon of wyrm age or older can activate the orbs. When one orb is engaged, it forms a communication connection to the other 88. Through this, the wyrm can then speak to anyone near an orb. Anyone is able to hear and respond once the orbs are active, with the wyrm that activated them visible in the depths of the orbs. Activating an orb, however, is very taxing and the connection lasts only a brief time, so long conversation is impossible. Typically, the messages limited to necessary information - that a council has been called and everyone should attend. Sometimes, a topic will be mentioned. Once the summons has been issued, the council will meet in one dragon week - that is, 15 days.

Currently, there are 88 clans scattered throughout the islands. Each has an orb of Io and the right to one vote, but because not every clan has a wyrm, there's only actually 54 voting councillors. A quorum for the Council is half of its membership, so at least 27 wyrms must attend for a meeting to be held. A meeting begins after one week (again, 15 days), plus however much time it takes to reach quorum after that. It doesn't matter how many dominates show up - it's only the councillors that count for quorum. At that point, the Grand Custodian calls order and no one can leave until the debates are ended and all votes are complete. Every item on the agenda must be sponsored by either the Platform of Wyrms or the Platform of Dominates, and the sponsoring dragon must come forward to speak on its behalf. Through a mix of magic and good acoustic architecture, no one ever has to shout - the council chambers make everything audible. Once the item is presented by its sponsor, debate begins. Speakers have a set period of time based on their age, with the custodians measuring time in what I assume is a giant hourglass of some kind. Wyrms speak first and have the longest allotted time, while dominates speak after and have shorter. A member of the Platform of Dominates may only speak once on any given issue. Wyrms, however, are given a second chance to speak after the first round of debates ends. In the debates or the period after, councillors are expected to put forth potential solutions. The Grand Custodian selects the best of these and puts them to the vote, calling on the wyrms to render their votes or alternative proposals. Once a decision is reached, the custodians may form a task force from any dragons present to work out the details needed to enforce the ruling.

To speak, a dragon must be called by the Grand Custodian, and the order of selection is one based highly on tradition and respect for age. The arrangement of the agenda is entirely at the whim of the Grand Custodian, who usually tries to keep important items at the start of the meeting. The most common petitions are related to conflicts between dragon clans - hostile actions, disruption of trade routes, encroaching on hunting grounds, that kind of thing. Rather than war, the clan that is injured brings its problem to the Council in hopes of resolution, or at least prevention of further violence. The Council also arbitrates new territories, trade agreements, resource rights disputes, succession in cases where no other process exists and all the other major disagreements that dragons can come up with. Further, their purview covers any issue that could potentially affect more than one clan, such as plans for natural disasters, monster problems, invading outsiders or rogue dragons causing trouble. The most dangerous potential threat is the return of dragon slayers, and it is the one the Council is most watchful for.

The Council takes the threat of humans very, very seriously. They are shortlived, but they breed incredibly fast and in massive numbers. The Council maintains a very sharp watch on the island humans, because while they are few and primitive, the potential exists for them to rediscover dragon slaying. Thus, if any human tribe becomes too large or advanced, the Council sends a force to wipe them out. A few clans hate humans so much that they don't even wait - they just catch and eat the humans whenever they spot them.

The main job of the dragon PCs is to be the team of council wards, at least in early levels, and get missions handed to them by Mykell. It gives you a solid starting point for the characters to get to know each other despite being all from different clans and types. That usually gives them time to develop their personal goals for once they hit juvenile age and no longer need the Council to keep tossing them work. Eventually, they'll hit Wyrm and get to be one of the leaders of the Council, determining grand direction for the islands. They also keep the PCs from totally going off the reservation, because there...well, there is a dragon government of sorts, even if it's a very lax one, and if things get too fucked up, the dragons will send dragon cops.

Dragons are, on the whole, patient and rather laid back, compared to lesser races. They live for over a millenium, and so they see time differently than even elves, who to dragons are only slightly less of a brief, flighty existence. Most dragons are very patient, and they each tend to find some goal or task to obsess over for centuries, whether that's a particular field of lore, a political aim or something else. They tend to see everyone else as easily distracted and indecisive. Their anger can last for centuries, and their vengeance is often slow in coming - but it always comes, even if it's on descendants of the original targets. Dragons have no real desire to live for the now, as they have an endless supply of 'now'. They rarely hurry, and prefer to do something right over doing it fast. However, all that time means finding a way to not be bored. Often they enjoy puzzles or challenges, whether benign or malicious, or plotting to overtake their rivals. Some seek out knowledge and lore, becoming experts in some field and mastering it utterly over the centuries. They might study planes one at a time, or a particular trait found in various magical beasts, or master architecture in various styles. They rarely consider shorter-lived creatures as anything but inferiors, as they seem to be born and die so quickly, all while the dragons grow stronger.

Even an elf might live at best to 750, while a dwarf or gnome could hope for 450 to 500 years. A human, only 130 or so. A dragon can live for upwards of 3000. Thus, even the kindredbonded demihumans become...fragile. A dragon could have as many as 20 kindred over the course of their life, usually taking them on in adolescence and letting them retire when they become venerable. They seldom feel they fully know even this closest demihuman friend by the time the demihuman dies, and so it is far more common for a dragon to not feel much friendship for demihumans at all, save for their kindred and those related to them.

The keeping of hoards has many reasons - magical, biological and psychological. Precious metals, gems and magic items are key in dragon growth as they age. Dragons, unlike most beings, do not grow slowly over time. They maintain themselves in one physical size for a period, then undergo a massive growth spurt, cycling between stability and growth through their lives until they hit great wyrm and are as big as they will ever get. To facilitate this growth, a dragon needs three things. First, they need to be old enough. Second, they must accumulate enough life experience (in the form of XP). Last, they need a treasure hoard equal in gold piece value to the XP they needed. Get all those and you can achieve massive growth in a process known as 'shedding.' The dragon literally and metaphysically sheds its old age, mindset and skin, coming out with a new body and stronger mind. This process takes several months, during which the dragon enters 'dragon sleep,' a deep coma during the shedding. Once this is over, a sheath of scales is left behind. A portion of this is given to the dragon's vassals, to be made into armor and shields by tradition, while the rest is balled up and buried under the hoard, to enhance the dragon's ties to it. Over time, the sheath transforms into an appropriate metal or gem worth (age level*1000) gp. The dragon in dragon sleep gains an intimate knowledge of its bonded hoard, learning more about every object in it. A hatchling has a 40% chance to recognize any object in its hoard on sight, with the chance rising at every level. This connection also allows for the lair clairaudience power we mentioned last book. During dragon sleep, a dragon is incredibly vulnerable, so one's lair should always be kept secret and protected even from family and close friends, with traps and wards against intrusion or loyal vassals to guard it. A dragon cannot be awakened from dragon sleep early by any means.

The hoard is mechanically divided into two parts - the 'bonded hoard' and the 'accumulating hoard.' The bonded hoard is the part you've used to gain levels, while the accumulating hoard is what you've gotten since your last dragon sleep. If you lose any of your bonded hoard, you have some problems. First, until you get it back, you can't level up. Second, you start to lose powers as stuff goes missing. With the loss of part of your bonded hoard, you lose one power per time period - up to a year, for a small loss, to every six months, for a total loss. Your lost ability is chosen randomly by rolling on a table. If you lose all abilities of a single category, you fucking die from sheer loss of will to live - so if you lose all your THAC0, all your Armor Class, all of your HP, all your saving throw bonuses, all your innate abilities or all of your spells, you die. Period. You may regain abilities by recovering the stolen items, or by replacing them with treasure of equal value. You do at least get a vague sense of where your stolen shit is if you get close to it. Once it's back in your lair, all your powers immediately come back. Replacing it is harder - you must enter dragon sleep with the replacement hoard as if you were leveling up from your last age level to your current one, regaining all lost abilities over the course of the sleep and severing your tie to the old treasure.

Next time: Mating and crossbreeding.

Love and Marriage

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: Love and Marriage

So, every dragon type approaches family and mating in different ways. Concepts like fidelity, mates and partnership mean different things to different dragon types - and even to different, individual dragons. On the whole, the metallic dragons are most likely to mate for love. They frown heavily on inbreeding, even between very distant kin, and especially between siblings (most dragons forbid that, except black and white dragons, who don't care). Gold, silver and bronze dragons are usually completely monogamous and refuse even to take a new mate after their partner dies. Some of these will take on humanoid form to mate with a demihuman vassal and live with them in their polymorphed state, as well, and will be just as faithful to the demihuman mate as they would be to a dragon one. In these cases, a male dragon can impregnate a female demihuman with a half-dragon child; female dragons can never be impregnated by demihumans by any means. However, even for dragons that willingly lifemate with a demihuman, half-dragon children are socially unacceptable. Dragon society finds these creatures repugnant, and so they are rare. They are outsiders, at best, in the society of both dragons and demihumans. Brass dragons, meanwhile, are very dedicated to their spouses. They will remain with the same mate their entire lives, though if the mate dies, they will usually seek out a new partner. Copper dragons, on the other hand, change mates frequently in search of new experiences, at least until reaching mature adult growth, at which point they tend to settle down with one mate for the rest of their life.

Chromatic dragons tend to be greedy and selfish about who they mate with, regardless of the genetic or social consequences of their choice. Red dragons in particular prefer to have strong-willed and lusty mates, though they rarely share a lair. They have frequent love affairs, usually of short duration. Blue dragons are territorial by nature and will usually choose only a single mate for a long period of time - sometimes as many as four age levels - before they move on to the next. Green dragons are naturally polyamorous, and will often have intricate arrangements with multiple partners whom they move between. This can be polygamous, polyandrous or both, with no preference for any particular setup. Black and white dragons are the least formal of all chromatics - they mate when the mood strikes, essentially like very large animals. They do not seem to understand or care about love, and rarely seem to even notice the idea of inbreeding as a problem.

Gem dragons vary a bit more. Amethysts tend to be highly local in their approach, seeking out the optimal partner for the creation of ideal offspring, and rarely bring love or even pleasure into things. Emerald and sapphire dragons prefer to take single mates for long periods, but for different reasons. Emeralds prefer the security and protection offered by a trusted mate, while sapphire dragons tend to select mates for prestige and status. Topaz and crystal dragons mate with willing partners essentially whenever they feel like it, but are more selective about inbreeding than white and black dragons.

All dragons tend to favor their own type when choosing mates - gold with gold, red wth red. Sometimes, however, this is not the case. In most cross-type matings, there is no viable offspring. When two dragons of the same family but different types mate, there is a 30% chance that a viable clutch will result. For different families - a chromatic and a gem, say - the chance is only 5%. The number of eggs and their incubation period is always determined by the mother's type. For each egg, roll 1d8. On a 1-4, the hatchling is of the type of the parent with more Hit Dice. On a 5-7, it's of the type of the parent with fewer Hit Dice. On an 8, the hatchling has a mixed appearance and a combination of abilities of its parents, determined by the GM. However, mixed appearance crossbreeds are seen as abominations by most dragons. Chromatics tend to kill them immediately, while metallics banish them to other domains (or, rumor has it, other planes entirely). Gem dragons, however, hold that no dragon can ever be an abomination, and so will often raise them as a full member of their clans.

Dragon mating is neither entirely reptilian nor mammalian. Eggs are fertilized in the female body by the act of mating with a male, and are then carried for the first quarter of incubation, allowing a leathery, flexible shell to form around them. Then, the female lays her eggs in her lair (or, sometimes, a shared lair for the mated pair). Once the incubation period ends, assuming no complications, the eggs hatch into dragons. A female dragon can bear fertile, viable eggs from young adult through to very old stages of life. At venerable, they are no longer able to lay eggs. Males remain fertile until the wyrm stage. On average, a female dragon can bear one viable clutch during each fertile age category. Copper, brass, black and white dragons have a 40% chance of being able to bear a second clutch, while other dragons have only a 25% chance. No female dragon ever lays more than two clutches in one age category. Most dragons bear a clutch of 2-4 or 3-6 eggs, but Topaz, Crystal, Black and especially White dragons can be more prolific, with whites managing 5-9 eggs per clutch. Also, the more powerful a dragon is, the longer the incubation period, randing from 12 months for crystals to 24 for golds. However, dragon eggs are prone to 'cracking', a disease which causes them to shatter before the end of the incubation period. Every egg has a 40% chance of suffering from cracking. If an egg suffers this, roll a d10. On a 1-7, it happens in the first 3/4 of the incubation; the egg is nonviable and the dragon inside dies. On an 8-10, it happens in the final quarter and the dragon within will survive if it passes a Con check.

As dragons age, they never suffer from weakening of body or mind. They don't age gradually, either - remember, cycles of stability and massive growth. The first spurt is actually fueled by a precious metal or gem that the mother eats, which then gets passed into the egg with the embryo. It must be of an appropriate type for the dragon, and worth at least (hatchling's HD*1000) Gp or more. For each point of Con and Str the hatchling has, the metal or gem will lose 100 gp of value when the egg hatches, as that value is used to fuel the hatching and growth process. The remains will become the first piece of the dragon's bonded hoard. Many creatures ascribe magical properties to these precious metals and gems that are found in dragon eggs, but other than their efficiency when used as spell components, no intrinsic magic has ever been documented. The hoard fuels every subsequent growth, as discussed, but after hatching its value is not reduced. In the great wyrm stage, the dragon may use its hoard to fuel one final transformation, which we'll get to in a minute.

At some point in great wyrm status, a dragon will finally feel all the effects of old age in a single moment - the dulling of the mind and weakening of the body. This is known as dragon's twilight, and while it isn't feared, it's not welcomed, either. It Dragon's twilight takes place at some point after the 1201st birthday. You take the Con score and multiply by 100 (for metallics), 75 (for gems) or 50 (for chromatics) and add that value to 1200. That is the first possible year in which twilight can strike. AT that point, and every year thereafter, the dragon makes a Con check. Success and it only loses a point of Constitution. Failure and it enters twilight. (If the dragon's Con hits 0, it automatically enters twilight.) Twilight is...well, death by old age. In one sudden, pent-up rleease, the dragon's body and mind fail. Of course, that assumes a dragon makes it to that age - which is not guaranteed, given the monsters, disasters and presence of hostile dragons. The use of raise dead spells cannot resurrect a dragon, but the resurrection or wish spells can. However, the cost is extremely high, especially for young dragons, and few elders even have the ability to use those spells. However, the Council does have methods of resurrecting young dragons, and will use them for wards of the Council, so that's good for the PCs.

So, how do you get around this death by old age? There are several legends. The GM may decide the truth of any or all of them. First, some great wyrms transform themselves into guardians of the land. Before twilight kills them, they take their hoard to a location that suits their nature. Then, they enter a final dragon sleep, consuming the hoard and becoming one with the landscape, transforming into a feature such as a hill, grove, mountain, lake or desert. Legend holds that young dragons can seek out these slumbering guardians for advice, while some say that only part of the hoard is consumed and will go searching for the rest of the treasure, hidden somewhere in the terrain. Second, other great wyrms will hide their hoard in various locations and then depart the islands as twilight approaches. It is believed that they go out to some island on the Blood Sea to die, a legendary dragon's gaveyard covered in bones and wyrm scales.

Third, some have seen great wyrms consume their hoards in total. It is believed this is an effort to enter a new level of existence, transforming them into a semidivine status where they serve as companions to the god Io and travel the planes at his side. Fourth, some wyrms just...disappear. Some say they continue to grow and advance, becoming so large that this world could not contain them and instead pass on to some mythical dragon homeland that awaits the strongest and most powerful dragons.

And finally, a method that's definitely real, but is only used by some evil dragons. Via a mix of arcane and evil spells, these dragons turn themselves into undead dracoliches. These creatures are very rare, for even the chromatics hate and fear dracoliches. When one is discovered, the Council will gather an entire draconic army to destroy it.

Next time: Rogue dragons and religion.

God Says Dragons Are Just Better

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: God Says Dragons Are Just Better

There's three different kinds of thing referred to as 'rogue dragon'. The first is just a dragon that goes against its basic nature - a good-aligned chromatic or evil metallic. These dragons are tolerated, but usually feel more comfortable joining another dragon type's clan. Their shift can be slight, such as remaining good/neutral/evil but shifting from lawful to chaotic, or more radical - good to evil. The latter is a much more tense situation. These things tend to be created by traumatic experiences, radical shifts in belief and outlook on life, deep rebellion against the establishment or years of careful thought and weighing of options.

The second kind of rogue is a dragon who jsut refuses to obey the clan leaders. This is most rogues - they protest the plans and agendas of their clans, and rather than be killed or suffer in silence, they strike out on their own. Sometimes, this leads to a new clan forming, but more often, these become lone hunters, surviving in less populous regions. They seldom go too close to clan lands, but sometimes are forced to steal or even kill other dragons to survive. In those cases, the Council may be called on to deal with them.

The final type of rogue is a menace to everyone - a dragon suffering from some form of violent insanity or holding radical beliefs that are dangerous to society. These dragons tend to either have a mental illness or suffer some obsessive ambition. The mentally ill are pitiable, suffering from terrible fear, anger and delusions, and on bad days, striking out at anything nearby, ravaging the countryside out of terror, thrill or a belief that it was the correct thing to do. Overdeveloped senses of good or evil can also produce this result, when a dragon becomes an extremist. A gold dragon who decides to wipe out the evil dragons, for example, or a red dragon who becomes obsessed with being the evillest of all evils. These are the most dangerous rogues, and the Council is often called on to put them down.

The dragons of the Io's Blood do worship gods, but have very little in the way of organized religion. Dragons have no churches, as most have the innate ability to cast divine spells without needing to even pray for them - only dragon-priests pray for spells, and they get more for their worship. Dragons also tend to see themselves as the children of gods, so why worship so obsequiously? However, that is not to say they don't ever pray. Those dragons who practice regular worship are the minority, but do exist. They respect that which they see as supernatural (which doesn't include their innate abilities - those are totally natural). Some of these even study clerical magic and become dragon-priests, intermediary agents of the gods. The most organized and secretive draconic priesthood is the Custodians of Concordance, who serve the great Io. Others pledge themselves to other gods but lack any formal organization. Most dragon-priests are seen as eccentrics who have been touched by the gods in some unique manner. Most dragons pay no daily homage, but do respect and revere their deities - and, in turn, their priests.

The greater god Io, the Ninefold Dragon, is the chief god of the Io's Blood islands. He is a god of many aspects, who contains within himself all alignments and whom, the dragons say, created all things. Through his infinite grace, he allowed other gods to shape portions of his creation to suit their own children, but dragons, being the first and best children of Io, received the greatest gifts and powers. Io is rarely directly involved in life and almost never makes his presence known - save for the time he sent his avatar to end the Dragon Wars and establish the Council of Wyrms. Few dragon-priests pray to Io save for the Custodians of Concordance. His holy symbol is an eight-pointed star with a central rising spoke.

Chronepsis is the intermediate draconic god of fate, death and judgment. He has seen all existence through to the end of time, but has sowrn never to speak of it - or of anything. The mute god guards his knowledge carefully and dispassionately. Chronepsis is true netraul, and few dragons worship him directly, but all respect his power. His few direct followers are typically found among the amethyst clans. His symbol is a set of brass scales beneath a harp. Aasterinian is a lesser goddess, the daughter of Io and goddess of play, pleasure and invention as well as the messenger of the draconic pantheon. She is Chaotic Neutral with good tendencies, and her followers revere that which is new and fun. Many gem and metallic dragons favor her, particularly among the brass and copper clans. Her holy symbol is the Morning Star.

Bahamut is the lesser draconic god of goodness and the metallic dragons. He is Lawful Good and is quite active, granting visions to good dragons that serve him. He often wanders the planes, polymorphed and disguised, and is said to debate with Io the value of evil in the world. Gold and silver dragons most commonly follow Bahamut, whose holy symbol is the Pole Star above a milky spiral. Tiamat is the lesser draconic goddess of evil and the chromatic dragons. She is Lawful Evil, and she spurs the chromatics on to greater pride and cruelty. She despies the Council of Wyrms and its harmony, but will not make over threats towards it, for Io himself established it. The chromatics worship her most, primarily among the reds, blues and greens. Her symbol is the five-headed dragon.

Faluzure is Night Dragon, the lesser god of undeath and decay. He is Neutral Evil and hates the other gods. He meddles in the world quite often to ensure that enough death occurs to sustain his being. Only the most twisted and evil dragons follow him, primarily those who have or will become dracoliches, and his symbol is the dragon's skull. Chaotic dragons have also been known to follow Elemtia, the demigod of elementals, while lawful dragons have been known to follow Arcanic, the demigod of magic.

Next time: Dragon magic.

Dragons Are Like Wizards, Except Not

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Council of Wyrms: Dragons Are Like Wizards, Except Not

All dragons can tap into magical power, in the form of their ability to naturally cast wizard and/or priest spells, without use of components, spellbooks or tools. However, some dragons also want to study true magic, and follow the path of the dragon-mage. Dragon-mages can cast spells in the same way as normal wizards - memorizing them, using simple gestures, spell components and magic words. They must gather their spells in spellbooks, because in learning to cast arcane magic of more variety, they lose access to their innate spellcasting, and must instead do spell research and gather magical scrolls and transcribe them. However, they do also get the ability to make magic items, which most dragons simple cannot do. Still, dragons have no fear of magic, as some species do. They have a distaste for the undead, being both alive and able to smell things, but they don't dread them. After all, dragons are (if you were to ask them) inherently superior and able to defeat all foes without much trouble.

Dragons love to wear rings, bracers, earrings and other forms of jewelry. Some even carve runes or symbols into their scales as a form of artistic or enchanted tattoo. Some of this is social, but some is also practical, in the form of magic items. They do not utilize crafted weapons...most of the time, but dragons have invented two particular forms of weapon that are unique to them. The first is the wing spur, a wicked hook that is worn in pairs on the edge of the wings. This makes their wing buffets deal +2 damage. The second is the tail mace, a sort of metal tail glove with sharp spikes, worn on the tip of the tail. This makes the tail slap deal +4 damage. These items can be enchanted, of course. Dragons otherwise have little use for magic weapons.

The holy symbols wielded by dragon-priests come in two types. First, many wear ornate jewelery around the neck bearing the symbol. Second, a more permanent symbol can be gained by carving the symbol into one or more scales. Both can be used as a focus for divine magic, and many dragons feel the carved scales show greater devotion. Most other magical tools - weapons, cloaks, robes, etc. - are more often found in the hands of demihuman vassals, as dragons have little use for them. However, dragons have developed magical items suitable for their own use, primarily crafted either by dragon-mages or vassal mages. Potions, certainly, are extremely common, and most dominates have access to many at any given time. However, potions of dragon control are very, very illegal in the Io's Blood, and by Council decree, mere possession of such power by a non-dragon is grounds for execution. For a dragon, there is also punishment, but usually not death. As a side note, you remember how I said a while ago that the orb of Io takes a lot of power to activate? Specifically, it costs six wizard spell slots or their equivalent. Those are just gone for the day. Poof. Once active, the orbs pick up any voices within 20 feet, for two rounds, plus one round per extra spell slot spent by the activator.

Now we get a chapter on how to run campaigns with all this material. Players should, in a dragon campaign, either do a dragon and kindred or a half-dragon. They should pick a clan, and with the GM's approval can make up whatever details they like about that clan. To make life simple for everyone, the first 25 years of life should be spent as wards of the Council, and book three has some useful starting adventures to do that with, but from there you can develop things as you like - just wandering and fighting shit, or getting involved in epic-scale events, or politics, or seeking personal power. Whatever, dragons can do all that shit. The book explicitly does not recommend, however, mixing dragon PCs with other campaign settings. Dragons are, it says, too powerful and disruptive to be integrated easily...and dragons advance too slowly, taking years to gain one level while normal adventurers could get to the upper levels in that time. Half-dragons, however, are closer to traditional PCs and might be able to integrate well. Their powers are useful, but not overwhemling compared to normal demihumans. If you want to do a guest shot for one adventure with a dragon, maybe that'd work, but not for any real length of time, it says. The book also says to calibrate how much XP you give to how many adventures you want to run per age category - so each adventure should give maybe 15-25 percent of what a mdsized dragon PC needs to level up. This is decent advice, except of course for the part where different dragon classes have wildly differing XP requirements.

Now we get the different kits that dragons can use. Dragons are required to pick a kit - dragon, dragon-mage, dragon-priest or dragon-psionicist. That said, you can pretty cromulently run a game where everyone has the dragon kit. The dragon kit, after all, is basically the standard issue dragon. Anyone can use it, and it's basically a general-issue 'how to do dragons' kit. On top of the normal dragon racial bonuses, a dragon PC begins the game with one item in its bonded hoard (you know, the original egg lump). However, to reach every 3rd level, it must have at least 200 XP worth of magic items per current age catefory in its hoard. Silver and gold dragons may instead substitute art objects worth 500 gp per age category. They must select kindredbond proficiency by 4th level.

A dragon-mage learns how to perform arcane spellcasting rather than develop their own innate spells. In the time between hatching and reaching 1st level, they receive a spellbook and training from another dragon-mage. The spellbook of a 1st level dragon-mage contains read magic, detect magic and three 1st level spells selected by the GM, which should include one attack spell and one defensive spell. However, the dragon-mage no longer receives any innate spellcasting whatsoever, instead gaining spell slots as it levels up. At 1st level, that'd be a single 1st level spell slot. Dragon-mages must have Int and Dex of at least 13. They receive one fewer combat proficiency than a normal dragon of their type, but receive wizard spellcraft as a bonus noncombat proficiency at 1st level. They must take reading/writing proficiency at 1st level and kindredbond at 4th. On top of the egg-lump item that normal dragons receive, they get their spellbook and collection of spell components. Starting at adult age, they can create magic items as other mages can. However, to level up, at every age category they must add one o more magic items to their hoard, worth at least 300 XP per current age category.

A dragon-priest dedicates themselves to one of the draconic gods and serves a role...similar to a cleric, except without the religious structure around it. They are essentially a traveling church all in themselves, bringing the words and visions of the gods to other dragons. Between hatching and first level, they receive visions from their chosen god, and starting at first level they gain spells as if they were a cleric, losing all access to their innate spellcasting. Dragon-priests must have Wis and Dex of 13 or better. They begin play with one fewer combat proficiency than their type normally gets, but get priest spellcraft as a bonus noncombat proficiency. They must take religion proficiency at 1st level and kindredbond by 4th. At 1st level, they receive or create a holy symbol for their deity, on top of the egg-lump item they have as a hoard. They also get an additional noncombat proficiency slot at 1st level, and starting at adult age may make magic items as a cleric can. However, to level up, every second age category, they must add one or more clerical magic items to their hoard, worth at least 200 XP per current age category, and at least half that total must be in clerical scrolls.

A dragon-psionicist must be a gem dragon, as only the gem dragons get psionic powers. Further, their alignment must be non-chaotic, and they must have Con of at least 11, Int of at least 12 and Wis of at least 15. (Note: Crystal and Topaz dragons can still join the class, but must shift their alignment to Neutral.) Dragon-psionicists get access to their psionic powers at 1st level, at the cost of losing their innate spellcasting and psionic abilities. They also receive one less combat proficiency than normal for their type. They receive the psioncraft noncombat proficiency free at 1st level, and must take kindredbond proficiency by 4th level. Like everyone else, they get their egg-item. They gain PSPs at each level equal to 10% of the normal total listed for their dragon type in the Monster Manual or equivalent listing, but are not restricted to the sciences, disciplines and devotions of their type. To reach every 4th level, they must have in their hoard at least 200 XP in scrolls per age category, and one or more 'living' ioun stones of different types, the amount going up each time.

Next time: Dragon riders and half-dragon kits.

The Kit You Can't Actually Use

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Council of Wyrms: The Kit You Can't Actually Use

First we get a list of acceptable demihuman kits, with the note that any kindred must take kindredbond proficiency. The list includes the Complete Book of Dwarves, the Complete Bard's Handbook, the Complete Book of Elves and the Complete Book of Gnomes and Halflings. Well, presumably the gnome half, as there aren't any halflings in Council of Wyrms. We do, however, get a new kit: Dragon Rider. Any demihuman fighter can become a dragon rider, and so can a multiclass fighter with Str 14+ and Wis 15+. Dragon riders must take proficiency in: longsword or shortsword, lance, and a missile weapon of some kind. They get the aerial riding proficiency free, however, with dragon specialization. They are required to take kindredbond proficiency and survival proficiency in their dragon master's favored terrain. Dragon riders cannot use shields, but get a free saddle for their dragon master. Why would you be a dragon rider? Well, when a dragon rider is mounted on their master, both dragon and rider get a +1 AC bonus (which, remember, makes your AC go down, not up, because down is better) and +1 to attack rolls. Also, both are considered to have 360-degree vision in the air. However, when fighting seperately, both dragon and rider get -1 to all attack rolls. Also, they get (4d4)*10 gp.

So in practice, you take the kit to get -1 to attack rolls, because the game specifically says you're never really going to be playing dragon and kindred at the same time.

Half-dragons are allowed to take any kit their demihuman half would be able to, except dragon rider, and a few from the Complete Book of Humanoids are also namedropped. There's also two new kits specifically for half-dragons. First, the Exile. Any half-dragon can be an exile, but most are thieves and most are either neutral or chaotic. Exiles get survivial proficiency free, and receive an extra nonweapon proficiency slot at chargen. Those with thieving skills get an extra 15 points to spread among them. However, they get a -3 reaction penalty with all NPCs, because everyone hates half-dragons and especially exiles. They also only get 3d6 gp to start rather than the normal amount.

The other half-dragon kit is the Ward, a half-dragon with a draconic patron. Any half-dragon can be a ward. They get Etiquette proficiency free, and about once a year, they will receive aid when they most need it. Plus, they get (5d6)*10 gp to start! All for the low, low cost of a -1 reaction penalty with all NPCs.

And, of course, there is a human kit: Dragon Slayer. Dragon slayers are human warriors that worship Io but consider all dragons to be imperfect copies of the true dragon god. To become a dragon slayer, you need Str 14+, Int 10+ and Con 12+. Dragon slayers favor weapons that are large and do heavy damage, such as long swords, awl pikes, bardiches, glaive-guisarmes, spetums, bastard swords, two-handed swords and tridents. I typed that out just for the excuse to type 'glaive-guisarme.' Dragon slayers get dragon lore proficiency and tracking (dragon) proficiency for free, along with the ability to speak one of the three dragon family languages. They cannot use any armor except the special dragon slayer armor they get. They get that army free, however, and at 4th level, it develops magical abilities due to a longstanding pact with Io. When facing dragons, the armor becomes plate mail +1, and once per level, the dragon slayer may attempt a quest to increase the bonus by 1, to a max of +5. Dragon slayers also usually try to get ahold of useful magic weapons for dragon fighting, such as dragon slayer swords +2. Dragon slayers begin play with (5d4)*10 gp, but are required to spend some of it on the suit of armor that will be their unique, special armor. They can never use any other armor than that one, remember.

On top of this, dragon slayers get a number of benefits inherently. They are immune to dragon fear entirely. They get +2 to attack rolls against all dragons, and +4 against the dragon type they hate most. They get a damage bonus equal to their level against dragons. When they are attacked with breath weapons, they save for no damage and even on failure only take half. A successful save also negates any special effects of the breath. They grant these abilities to their mount, as well, except the damage bonus, and their mount is always either a powerful warhorse or a flying mount of some kind.

Further, at 1st, 4th and 7th levels, they get to pick one of three attack powers. First, they can learn a wing attack, allowing them to target a wing at a -3 penalty to ground the target dragon for 1 round per point of damage dealt. Second, they can learn a breath stun, allowing them to target the gullet at a -4 penalty to lock off the breath for 1 round per damage dealt. Finally, there's the great blow, which allows the dragon slayer to choose to expend any number of HP and then make an attack at -4. If they hit, they deal extra damage equal to the amount of expended HP.

What's the cost? First, dragon slayers get a -4 reaction penalty with all dragons. Second, they use the Ranger/Paladin XP track instead of the Warrior one.

Next time: Adventures!

Wherein Newborns Are Attacked By Monsters

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Council of Wyrms: Wherein Newborns Are Attacked By Monsters

There are four adventures in this book - Not the Draca (designed for 4-6 hatchlings), Color Blind (for 4-6 level 3 dragons), The Terrible Alliance (for 4-6 level 4 dragons and their kindred at once), and Stolen Hoards (for 4-6 level 6 dragons). They're pretty much designed to be all done by the same group, since there's a number of interconnecting characters. Not the Draca, specifically, is designed to be the first adventure of a dragon campaign, pitting the just-hatched party against a group of ogre egg thieves. It's designed to give a feel for playing as dragons. Also, it specifically notes that you should have the players roll on a table from book one to randomly select what kind of dragon they are, so that...

Council of Wyrms posted:

to ensure each player doesn't choose to play a gold dragon or other powerhouse.

Yeah. So, what's the adventure overview? We're in the Council Aerie hatcheries for this, as the eggs are about to hatch. However, rather than the dragons and vassals meant to receive them, there's a bunch of ogres! The ogres are led by Krug Bonebreaker, a new leader among the ogres due to successful raids on the topaz and green dragon hatcheries elsewhere in the isles. The ogres have dug a secret tunnel into the hatchery and have been waiting for the perfect moment. The aerie is mostly deserted as the adventure begins, as a Council session has just ended and everyone wants to go home, leaving only a few vassals and custodians behind. The ogres plan to loot the eggs for the metals within, sell some to the frost giants and eat the rest. They have 14 ogres ready to go, and Krug's pretty smart for an ogre, so he's actually got contingency plans for every scenario...except the eggs hatching mid-theft.

Which is what happens. If the PCs do not attempt to stop Krug and his thieves, the ogre will decide they are weak and try to kidnap them as slaves, so the PCs really have no option but to fight the ogres. Each PC, however, has to make a Con check as the adventure starts to see how long it takes them to get out of the egg and adjust to life. Depending on their Constitution and whether they passed or failed, they will generally be in hatching shock for between 7 and 14 rounds. Whoever rolls best is also the one to notice things first.


Your vision remains blurry, and the bright light outside your shell nearly blinds you after spending long months in the dark confines of your egg. Still, you force your eyes to open wide as you look around for your draca—your mother—or some other dragon to welcome you into the world. For a moment, you can barely determine the difference between one blurred shape and the next. Then you focus on one image nearby.
It is the shape of a large creature, but not the shape of a dragon. It stands upright on two legs, not down on four. No wings emerge from its back, no tail sweeps majestically behind it. It has long, greasy hair falling around a head that has no tapered snout. Its hide is a dull black-brown, covered by warts instead of scales. Whatever this creature is, it's not a dragon—but it carries an unhatched dragon egg!

But before they can confront the ogres we need to review what hatching shock is! While in hatching shock, a dragon gets -2 to attacks and does not apply their usual bonus to combat. They also get a -2 penalty to AC (which, because AD&D, makes their AC go up by 2) and they get -2 to all ability and proficiency checks. After this, we get literally three pages of exposition for the GM, before the PCs can confront the ogres. First, hatchlings instinctively possess their starting proficiencies, having learned them subliminally in the egg, by listening to the speech around them and by natural knowledge. Dragons also know their name and clan when born, because their parents will have whispered it to the egg, and the vassals of the Council have spent time lecturing the eggs on how to be dragons. The hatchlings also instinctively recognize each other as clutchmates - basically siblings, at least for now. That said, they have no idea what ogres are.

Krug and his gang of 14 ogres are brave thanks to their past successes in stealing eggs and have spent a lot of time digging their tunnel. Krug himself is ten feet tall, has Int 10 (making him a a pretty smart ogre) and uses a giant club. He also wears a necklace of dragon scales. He's got 872 gp worth of gems and gold and is smart enough to plan rather than just charge in. The rest of the ogres are normal ogres. Three are guarding the three metal egg carts they brought, whose size is unnecessarily given to us (5x7x12 feet). Each ogre has a club and 1d6 gems, each worth 2d6 gp. Some also have spears. The ogres are likely to see the PCs as a source of wealth at first, as frost giants love dragon slaves and they're dealing with the giants. Once they start to fight, however, Krug will realize they're a real threat and will use the terrain and his crew to his best advantage, seeking to subdue or kill the party before finishing the job of theft. If more than six ogres go down, Krug will order a fighting retreat with whatever eggs they've managed to grab. If Krug dies, the ogres will flee in panic, though they will fight to defend themselves as they run. Krug is pretty tough - 33 hp, AC 3 and 2d6+6 damage vs Medium or Small foes (or 1d6+6 vs Large ones). The other ogres are vary from 12 to 27 hp, have AC 5 and deal 1d6+6 to small/medium or 1d8+6 to large foes (with spears) or 1d6+6 to small/medium and 1d3+6 to large (with club).

Next time: About the Aerie Hatchery and fighting ogres.

I actually like Not the Draca.

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: I actually like Not the Draca.

We're going to need this map to understand the hatchery. The area marked 1 is the entry corridor. It's too small for most dragons, so Hatcheries 13, 14 and 15 (that'd be the cave complex here) are mostly tended by vassals. Krug learned this from a drunk dwarf vassal, so I guess there's bars in the isles where an ogre can go uncommented on. Sure, why not. Anyway, that's when Krug started his plan. He's had two ogres stand watch at the entrance, killing the two gnomes who'd been working in the area. They have a cart with three eggs in it, and could be surprised if the PCs take out the hatchery ogres in their starting area without a ton of noise. If they are aware of the dragons, however, they'll take up a defensive position and throw spears until the other ogres can arrive for help.

Location 2 is Hatchery 13, and it's where Krug and six of his boys are hanging out. They've got 21 unhatched eggs in there, examining them for precious metals and so on. There's a secret passage the connects the area and location 3 (Hatchery 14), which Krug and the ogres are unaware of. Krug has a 1 in 6 chance to notice it for each round he spends searching, but he won't start until he knows a fight is going on, and if he searches during a round, he can't take any other actions besides giving out orders. Two of the six ogres in here have spears, and the ogres are mostly trying to fill their cart with eggs. If they become aware of trouble, two will flee with the cart and Krug will take the other 4 to go fight.

Location 3 is the largest of the hatcheries, Hatchery 14, but has the fewest eggs, and it has a big stone pillar that divides it in half. This is where the hatchlings awaken, in the northeast corner. There's three ogres in the area with an empty cart, and one of the ogres has an egg. These guys are the first event of the adventure. They've left the gnome vassal assigned to the PC eggs for dead, but she's only unconscious. However, she will die if she gets no help within two hours of her injury - and at the start of the adventure, she has only 1d6+6 turns left, and will die on a random round in the final turn, determined by a d10 roll. (Remember: 10 rounds to a full turn in 2e, and each round everyone gets to act.) There's two secret passages to the other hatcheries, which no one but the gnome is aware of.

Location 4 is Hatchery 15, and it's where the ogres broke in through with their tunnel. There's three ogres inside, hunting for the eggs Krug wants most - red, gold, silver, amethyst and sapphire. They have a cart and one of them has spears. At the first sign of danger, they'll shove eggs in the cart and flee, with one remaining behind to stop pursuit and hold the tunnel, which is Location 5. The tunnel's about 13 feet wide and 11 feet high, and if any ogres escape through it, they'll be off the aerie in minutes. If the PCs can alert the custodians within a turn of an ogre's escape, however, the ogre will get caught before getting away.

So, we finally get to Event 1. The ogre gets initiative automatically, puts down his egg and grabs for the smallest PC. If he hits, he does no damage but will try to shove the PC in a sack. After that, roll initiative normally. If the PCs don't attack, the ogre will keep stuffing the caught PC into the sack, then head off to show them to Krug. The other two ogres will hang around doing nothing unless the PCs try to leave. In 1d6+2 rounds, Krug and his six ogre pals will arrive with sacks for the other PCs. If the PCs fight, the capturing ogre will fight back but his two buddies will just sit there making fun of him for 1d4+1 rounds, because the PCs are literal newborns. After that, or if a PC attacks them, they'll join the fight. If one of the ogres gets taken out, the other two will try to escape and warn Krug.

Once the ogres are either down or have fled to meet with Krug, Even 2 begins. The gnome they left for dead wakes up despite her wounds, and speaks to the hatchlings. She explains that she is Sviliffa, meant to welcome them into the world, and is very sorry she fucked up. She's dying and the ogres are trying to steal dragon eggs. She asks the PCs to stop them, because while ogres are strong, dragons are better. She tells the PCs about the secret passages and wishes them luck and Io's guidance. Then she falls unconscious again. She will die, as outlined above, unless help is summoned before her timer runs out.

The PCs now get to do what they want, but eventually, Krug is going to notice them, and Event 3 begins when he does. They might be able to ambush him if they took out the three ogres quietly, are lucky and work together. In that case, Krug fights in location 2. Or maybe Krug comes and gets them because they didn't start a fight. Krug will start the fight in Location 3, then. Or maybe the guards spot them. At that point it's a running battle through Locations 1, 4 and 5, as Krug tries to capture or kill the PCs, starting with spear throwing and then sending two ogres to each PC at the least. Krug will join the fight personally only when he sees an advantage - he's not impulsive or stupid, and will strike only when he can make a difference for his side. Otherwise, he'll hang back. He initially shows no respect for the PCs and will talk to them in ogrish baby talk. He will become extremely angry if things go poorly for him, however.

If Krug dies, the gang will try to flee, but will fight back if pursued. If the PCs don't manage to beat or drive off the ogres, they will be captured or killed. Captive PCs will be taken and sold to the frost giants, but the DM is encouraged to give the PCs a chance to escape before the meeting with the frost giants, as the giants are way more than baby dragons can handle. If Krug is killed and the gang is defeated or flees, however, things are looking better. Among Krug's possessions is a gold coin from the halls of the frost giant raider Odifal, and the custodians who arrive will realize that this means the ogres have been raiding for the frost giants, who will need to be dealt with eventually. Any fleeing ogres can be captured or killed if the PCs alert the custodians in time, and if Sviliffa isn't dead yet, she will be healed by them as well. Mykell will, eventually, take the PCs and meet with them, but neither she nor any of the others will apologize for what happened - dragons are strong and must deal with these things.

Next time: A white dragon fucks up repeatedly, like a particularly dim dog.

Help I Am Trapped In A Wood Cage

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Council of Wyrms: Help I Am Trapped In A Wood Cage

Color Blind is an adventure for level 2-3 PCs. Basically, the party goes to visit a dwarven village in amethyst lands, where they discover that the dwarves have captured a six-year-old white dragon and want to kill it as quickly as possible. The PCs have to find a way to convince the local amethyst dragon that something weird is going on, then find out what before the white dragon gets killed.

Specifically, the PCs are visiting Dwarftown, one of the vassal villages of Clan Majyst. Each of the three village elders, Hammerim, Malletal and Naluri, have a secret they'd kill to keep hidden, and each one has been threatened by the white dragon. Hammerim is the overseer for the village metallurgists, and he's been selling a pretty good chunk of Dwarftown's mining output to Clan Evilwood, without approval. The white dragon wandered into a secret meeting between Hammerim and the green dragons, and Hammerim is utterly certain that the white dragon noticed the meeting and the metal changing hands.

Malletal is the head of the guard, and while his job includes patorlling hte forest, for the last few years he's taken an annual bribe in diamonds to ignore a white dragon hunting party that shows up every year to catch food in the woods. The white dragon was a member of that hunting party, and his capture could reveal Malletal's corruption.

Naluri is a village elder who is actively betraying Clan Majyst and helping the frost giant chief Odifal plunder the islands. She recently met with him and received word that he was coming for the Majyst, which she has wanted for al ong time, as she blames Gemmenna, head of Clan Majyst, for hurting her family long ago. Naluri hates dragons and wants revenge, and her recent meeting with Odifal convinced the frost giant to focus on Majyst Isle...but she was witnessed by the white dragon.

The white dragon was captured by the dwarves, and all three elders are trying to get Keryst, the local amethyst, to let them kill him. The PCs' arrival has made Keryst order the dwarves to stand down and give proper hospitality first, however. The PCs are there to pick up a golden ring that Mykell commissioned from Hammerim a few months ago, and it's entirely luck that they've shown up when they did. The white dragon cearly wants their help, but he's not very good at talking and isn't very smart. As the PCs investigate the forests, they can find lots of evidence...but will begin to suffer 'accidents', as the three entirely unrelated corrupt dwarven leaders each try to protect their secrets.

Before we get to the events, though, we have 10 pages of backstory to get through. The six-year-old white dragon is named Snowfire, and he's from Clan Frostwind. This is his first time on the annual hunting trip, and it was meant to be a training exercise for him. He's not very big for a white dragon and he only speaks chromatic, which he can neither read nor write. He does know how to fly and fight, and he's learned to hunt from his elder brothers, but he's been heavily wounded by the dwarves and has only 14 hp rather than his normal 36, so even if he wasn't locked in a big wooden cage, he would be unable to fly. He still has no idea how to use his breath weapon. He met with Malletal alongside his brothers, and they let him hand over the diamonds to the dwarf so he would feel important. The hunting party went through the forests, and Snowfire found a stag, but he got distracted by a meeting between some dwarf lady and five frost giants, allowing the stag to escape. He has no idea what was said during the meeting and is terrified of frost giants, but he did notice that the giants gave a gift to the dwarf.

At that point, two of his brothers chase a herd of deer out of the forest, get attacked by the frost giants and are killed. Snowfire screams in terror and runs away, chased by the giants. The giants send Naluri after him after they lose sight of him, and tell her to kill Snowfire to silence him. Snowfire flees blindly in the forest, ramming into trees repeatedly, and accidentally stumbles on Hammerim and a small group of green dragons. Hammerim and the dragons attack him but don't do much damage. At this point, Naluri has taken command of a dwarven patrol and given chase, while Hammerim has sent the green dragons away, but not before they slashed Snowfire's throat, rendering him unable to speak. At this point, the dwarf patrol finds Snowfire, injure his vocal cords further and are about to kill him when a young dwarf named Torvin prevents him from being killed, saying that Keryst of Clan Majyst should decide his fate. Snowfire is shoved into a cage, his wounds still untended, and left there. He has no idea what the dwarves are doing and does not trust them, and he can only try to tell his story in gesture, which he isn't very good at. However, examining him reveals that some of his wounds were made by dragon claws, rather than dwarven weapons. Should Snowfire be fully healed, his voice will return, but until then he can't speak, and even if he could, he doesn't understand anything he saw.

Hammerim is the chief metallurgist of the village, with access to all the raw and processed ore Dwarftown produces. He's been selling metal to the green dragons of Clan Evilwood for several years and has grown used to the wealth from that. He is greedy, secretive and will do anything to keep his money flowing. He's already murdered one dwarf and gotten away with it. He believes Dwarftown produces a surplus of metal and if he can make some cash on it, there's no harm. He is certain that Snowfire has caught onto his scheme, and had to hide his latest payment in the forest. He plans to collect it as soon as the white dragon is dead. He is terrified that Keryst will discover his secret, and believes that Keryst's talk about increasing output and productivity is because the dragon suspects him. He claims that Snowfire tried to eat him and desperately wants to kill him. He will, however, hand over Mykell's gold ring if asked and will happily take the pearl offered as payment, in hopes of getting rid of the PCs ASAP.

Malletal is the head of the militia and personally leads the forest patrols. He's very good at it, and he's kept many monsters away. However, he loves diamonds. A few years ago, he ran into a group of white dragons poaching deer, and was about to have them arrested when one of them offered him a bag of diamonsd, so he let them go. This year, the dragons brought Snowfire with them and even let him offer the diamonds over. Malletal honestly thought that was very sweet and that Snowfire's a good kid, but he's afraid that the dragon will reveal what's been going on. Snowfire has been gesturing at him to ask for help and giving him the puppy eyes, and while Malletal doesn't think anyone's noticed, he wants to get this over with before anyone does. Malletal is an extremely powerful warrior with a magic warhammer and feels very guilty about letting the white dragons do their hunts. He will do anything he can to keep that secret, and has sworn that no matter the bribe, next year they won't be allowed back. Malletal is using his position as commander of the guard to convince Keryst that Snowfire is a danger to the community and needs to die for his poaching.

Next time: Naluri and Keryst, among other things.

The Bad Ideas Dragon

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: The Bad Ideas Dragon

Naluri is the chief administrator of Dwarftown, handling all its day to day problems. She reports directly to Keryst, and outwardly plays the fawning servant. The truth is, she sees Keryst as an idiot dupe. She uses a magical short sword when combat is unavoidable and always has a potion of amethyst dragon control on her person, in case of emergencies. She hates Clan Majyst due to her grandfather. See, her grandfather's father was dragon lord Gemmenna's kindred, but when he got too old, her grandfather was set to take his place. However, after only a few weeks, Gemmenna dismissed Naluri's grandfather, saying he felt no affinity for the guy. This, at least according to Naluri's grandpa, utterly disgraced the family. Nalrui believes it, and she wants Clan Majyst to pay dearly for that disgrace. Six years ago, she heard about frost giant activity in the north from Malletal, and on one of the annual trading trips, she slipped off and met with Odifal. She nearly died before she could convince him to listen, but has since been handing over information on trade routes, patrols and even dragon flights. She's been earning trust just for this day - when she's finally gotten to meet Odifal and convince him to go after Majyst. Odifal was about to agree when Snowfire and his brothers arrived, and he has told Naluri that if she can't kill Snowfire and signal his raiders by the sunset of the next day, he's going home and ending their partnership. Naluri is trying to hurry the trial along and kill Snowfire as quickly as she can, but if she fails, she plans to rush the shoreline and send the signal anyway. If the giants are killed, oh well, as long as they cause as much damage as possible first.

Keryst is the amethyst champion in charge of Dwarftown. He wants to make his name by making it more productive, and he visits every few months to check in and give suggestions on how to get more ore out of the mine or how to process it more efficiently. He otherwise allows the vassals to take care of themselves, and until the PCs arrived, he'd planned to let them handle the Snowfire matter entirely. Now, however, he wants to use it to impress the PCs so they give Mykell a good report on him. Keryst does believe in justice, but he doesn't especially care about Snowfire, whom he sees as an invader that needs to be punished. Once he puts on a little show of presiding over the trial, he plans to turn the thing back over to Naluri and the other dwarves unless the PCs convince him otherwise. His job is twofold - if the PCs have no idea what to do, he's there for the GM to toss a few suggestions or hints, and if the PCs are doing too well and solving things too easily, he's there to be a problem for them to have to deal with. Otherwise, he can just stand back and let them do stuff.

The map is pretty self-explanatory, for the most part. Location 5 is the rock that Keryst suns himslef on and oversees the village from. Location 7 is Naluri's house. It's nice, but not as nice as Hammerim's or even Malletal's. She lives alone, and all of the evidence of her plots are in her house - a few of Odifal's gold coins, a dragon slayer sword and a second potion of amethyst control, none of which she will retrieve unless she sees no other option. They are all hidden in her secret hiding place in the house. Location 8 is Hammerim's house, which is so opulent it's actually quite gaudy. He, his wife and his three kids live there, and there's a secret room full of gems from Clan Evilwood, though a PC's going to need an appraising check to determine where they're from. Location 9 is Malletal's house, less rich than Hammerim's but nice. He and his wife live there, and his diamonds are in a secret room as well. An appraising check will reveal that they're from the white dragon mines. Snowfire's in Location 10 and has no chance of escape in his current condition. The keys are held by Malletal and his lieutenant Torvin. Location 11, the smithy, is also the metallurgy plant. More dwarves work there than anywhere else. A check of the inventory records will reveal that 15% of the metal is missing. This is the stuff Hammerim gave the green dragons, and if questioned, the smith will reveal that Hammerim took a load of metal into the forest that day. Location 12 is the home of the chief smith, along with his wife and four kids, but they will only cooperate if Keryst orders them to, as they aren't especially fond of most dragons. There are no priests or healers in the village, and if the PCs request a healer be sent, they're going to have to send for a cleric from the nearest city. The cleric will not arrive before Keryst's deadline passes.

What deadline? Well, that brings us to Event One. The PCs arrive and find the dwarves getting ready to execute Snowfire, but Keryst stops them to greet the PCs. If the PCs identify themselves, everyone is quite respectful and Snowfire will realize the PCs work for the Council, trying to get their attention as best he can. Then he'll fall unconscious. If the PCs ask what he did, Naluri will try to tell them to mind their own business, and Keryst will say that they don't have to worry about it. It's going to take some good arguments to convince him otherwise - most notably, someone bringing up the claw wound on Snowfire's neck would do it, but it's not the only possibility. Whatever convinces him, Keryst will set the PCs to investigate the situation, as long as they're respectful. However, Hammerim will pressure him to give a deadline, and he does: six hours. If the PCs can't find anything to save Snowfire by then, he will be killed.

Event Two is to explore the forest. Torvin will happily take the PCs to the area where Snowfire was captured and explain what he knows of what happened. Hammerim will also give his version of events, leaving out any details that might incriminate him and painting himself as a brave hero fending off an insane white dragon. He and Malletal will insist on accompanying the PCs, while Naluri remains behind. The clearing is full of signs of battle, and an observation check or penalized Int check will reveal a number of weird things. If the roll succeeds by 3 or less, the PCs spot dragon tracks - at least three different dragons were standing there for a time, and a tracking check will reveal them as green dragons. If they succeed by 4-6, they also spot wagon tracks, which a tracking check will lead to a wagon in the foliage, obviously dropped from a great height. (The green dragons emptied it of metal and dropped it.) They also spot that part of the foliage was destroyed by poison gas, such as a green dragon's breath. If they succeed by 7-8, they notice that there's also dwarf tracks, left by someone who stood with the green dragons for a while. Success by 9 or less also reveals the sack of jewels Hammerim hid, which an appraising check will reveal were made with techniques and materials used mostly by Clan Evilwood.

Hammerim is likely to become very defensive here and blame the PCs for trying to sow chaos on Mykell's orders, declaring that he does not trust the Council and it's all a conspiracy. If the PCs suggest that maybe Keryst is going to want to question the guy, Malletal will order the guards to return Hammerim to the village. The PCs can also make a tracking check to trace Snowfire's path through the woods, leading them to the shoreline. It's pretty obvious where he was when they get there, and an Observation or Int check will reveal more details.

Success by 3 or less will reveal the indentation left by a large object in the sand, mostly obscured by the rising tide but clearly something large and heavy that was beached there for some time. (This was left by the frost giant boat.) On success by 4-6, the PCs also spot some tracks in the sand that, a tracking check reveals, were made by large, booted humanoid feet for the most part, with a smattering of dwarf, deer and white dragon tracks mixed in, though the white dragons are larger than Snowfire. Success by 7-8 will also reveal movement in the forest, which, if investigated, turns out to be five marine scrag trolls eating one of the dead white dragons, which was killed by large blades, too large for any dwarf to wield. The trools will remain hidden if the PCs don't notice them, coming out after 50 minutes to return to the sea, and they're willing to fight to keep the corpse. Success by 9 or better, a PC also finds one of Odifal's gold coins. That guy just keeps dropping those! On a success by 10 or better, the PCs also notice that one of the trees has been coated with oil. This was prepared by Naluri to signal the frost giants, and if cleaned off, it's going to give her trouble later. The PCs can also make a tracking check to follow Snowfire's trail even further, to the northern clearing where they met with Malletal.

There's very little there, but Malletal becomes quite nervous when they arrive. An observation or Int check will reveal that this is where the white dragons landed - there were three of them, and there was a dwarf there at the time. The dwarf left calmly. Success by 3 or better will also reveal a fallen diamond near the dwarf and dragon tracks. There is nothing else there.

Whatever they find, Event 3 begins when the PCs return to the village. Keryst will listen patiently to their report, and the PCs may or may not notice a pair of dwarves approaching the cage from different directions. One of them will draw his axe and charge, and as the guard moves to intercept that one, the second will try to slip a plate of food into the cage. The PCs must decide what to do, but the plate is actually the more dangerous threat. The guard will get knocked out of the way and injured by the axeman, whose name is Mordiak. He lost his family to a white dragon half a year back and wants revenge. The guard won't fight back after that, and Mordiak will try to kill Snowfire in the next round, attacking him unless killed or restrained, ignoring Keryst's calls to stop. Keryst will restrain Mordiak on the fifth round, but Snowfire could easily be dead by that point, as Mordiak deals 1d8+3 damage, even if his Thac0 isn't great. The other dwarf is a young woman who got ordered to give Snowfire a meal by Naluri. If she is not stopped, Snowfire will eat the food when he gets a chance, ingesting a very fast-acting poison. Even if he makes his saving throw, he takes 1d4 damage per round until he dies or the poison is neutralized. If he fails, he takes 1d6 per round instead. Keryst could be convinced to use his innate ability to neutralize poisons, perhaps by pointing out that the mystery could threaten Clan Majyst itself unless Snowfire's knowledge is revealed.

Next time: Naluri decides to fuck things up.

The Bad Ideas Dragon

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: The Bad Ideas Dragon

Event 4 happens when the PCs either get close to discovering Naluri's corruption or convince Keryst that Snowfire needs to live and be questioned. At that point, Naluri becomes desperate, chugs her potion of amethyst dragon control and orders Keryst to protect her from the PCs. To keep the adventure going, the DM is instructed to assume he fails his save, which is pretty reasonable, especially for AD&D. Naluri maintains her control for 5d4 rounds and will use his abilities as best he can to keep the PCs from following or stopping Naluri. However, he does retain enough control to avoid using lethal force. After the potion wears off, he's going to be out of it for a few rounds.

The PCs will probably be able to catch up to Naluri at the beach where Snowfire saw her meeting the giants. She has her magic sword and a flaming torch, but not the dragon slayer. (Probably, unless the GM believes it necessary. If so, she also has the second potion.) If the PCs couldn't get past Keryst before the potion wore off, they arrive just as Naluri is going to set fire to the tree. If a few PCs chase her while someone keeps Keryst busy, she's just lighting the torch and arriving. Either way, she wants to signal the giants and is going to shout about how Gemmenna betrayed her grandfather and fuck all amethyst dragons. If the PCs cleaned off the tree before, however, it's going to take her quite some time to get the fire started. If the oil is there, it lights in a single round. Once the tree is lit, the PCs have three rounds to douse it before it's bright enough for the giants to spot.

Naluri will do her best to keep the PCs away from the fire, but she's not a warrior. If the PCs are faster than her, it shouldn't be very hard to stop her or to smother the fire in time, especially if they charge the three, tear it from the ground with dragon strength and hurl it into the sea. The DM is instructed to allow any reasonable plan to succeed if it's put into play fast enough. No matter what, however, Naluri is fighting to the death, and it's going to take a hell of a lot of effort to keep her alive, if the PCs even want to try.

Keryst is, should the PCs win, more than happy to give them the 4000 gp worth of treasure that Naluri was hiding in her home. If Hammerim's corruption was also uncovered, he is stripped of his rank and shamed, and Keryst hands over the 8000 gp worth of jewels the green dragons gave Hammerim and assure them that the dwarf will be punished. If Malletal's corruption is revealed, Keryst will also give the PCs 6000 gp in diamonds, taken from Malletal's collection. He will lose his position as leader of the militia but will be allowed to stay in Dwarftown in a lesser capacity, as his crimes were the least bad. Should Snowfire still be alive at this point, Keryst will spare his life and let him go home, as Snowfire did not invade maliciously and was not trying to hurt anyone, just learning to hunt and getting winter food.

Should Naluri's signal work, however, things are different. The frost giants will arrive in 1d4 hours - too soon for help to be called or arrive. Keryst will ask the PCs to help defend Dwarftown as best they can. Odifal isn't stupid, though, and recognized the possibility of Naluri fucking up. He sends only one of his three boats to the shore, leaving the other two to retreat if things go bad. Only twelve giants are in the landing crew, and once they realize Naluri is not there to help them, they will launch a flare to call for a retreat and will try to sail away. If they must, however, they will fight to the last breath, and they hit fucking hard - 2d8+9 damage in melee, or 2d10 with thrown rocks. If the signal never came, then Odifal and his crew just sail away. The threat is delayed for a time either way, and the PCs have more evidence to bring home to Mykell about frost giants, along with her gold ring.

Next time: The Terrible Alliance

Snowfire's Awful, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: Snowfire's Awful, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

So, The Terrible Alliance assumes the PCs are level 4 and have just woken up from dragon sleep. They're preparing to finally leave the Council Aerie and head back to their clans. But first, Mykell has one last job for them. This scenario assumes that Snowfire and Krug Bonebreaker both survived their into adventures, but has some replacements if they didn't. Anyway, Snowfire (or some rando white dragon if he died) has just showed up at the Council with news about giants around Clan Frostwind's lands. He says he was flying near the coast when he saw a giant ship enter a cliffside cave, and he's pretty sure that's where the giants are hiding. Mykell has asked the PCs to investigate this before they leave. With Snowfire's help, the PCs head to the cave, but while they could just fly in, that's super dangerous so it's probably etter to send the kindred in to scout through a smaller connected cave. Eventually the PCs will go in and have to face down a bunch of powerful monsters that work for the frost giants, and at last face Odifal and his dragon slayer allies, who have been preparing a massive fleet to invade one of the islands, to support the dragon slayers in their war. If the PCs win, they'll have time to rally the locals agianst the warship fleet and father a draconic army.

So, first, our requisite backstory. The white dragons of Clan Frostwind and the amethysts of Clan Corum live on Glacianta, the island in question here. Snowfire told his clan leaders about the cave, but they weren't interested, or perhaps were scared, so he went to the Council directly. Clan Frostwind has suffered the most in Odifal's raids, and they are terrified of him. The clan leaders have decided the best way to deal with Odifal is to hand over a hatchling or two rather than suffer mass battles. The amethysts consider the giants a problem but not a major one, having had less raids done to them. They just keep watch, rather than going out of their way to hunt the giants down. Should the PCs approach Frostwind with evidence of the invading frost giant army, they're going to have to get past suspcion, fear and the clan's tendency to xenophobia, but with Snowfire's aid it should be easier, as long as they're respectful. Frostwind will send 30 dragons to fight the armada, ranging in age from young to old, and each with teir own vassal warrior. Clan Corum will need compelling evidence to help, but if presented with it in the form of, say, dragon slayer armor or one of Odifal's battle maps, would send 15 dragons ranging from juvenile to mature adult age. However, neither group will send any help to clear out Odifal's cave.

The raider lair is located in a series of frozen caves on the southeast shoreline, formed by a 'river' of seawater which has allowed them to dock in one of the natural chambers. On top of the raiders and their servants, there's monsters in there. Some, such as the ice trolls, will cooperate with the giants, while others, like the remorhaz, are hostile to everyone. At any given time, two pairs of winter wolves patrol the caves from Location 12 to Location 22, and there's a 10% chance of running into them each turn. If the caves are on alert, it's a 30% chance and the wolves have a frost giant accompanying them.

The frost giants follow the raiding chief Odifal, and have been active in the Io's Blood chain for nearly 30 years, focusing on attacking vassal villages and lone dragons. Odifal has employed ogres to steal dragon eggs and tempted disgruntled vassals to betray their masters, and even gotten other monsters to cause chaos. From his first raid, he has loved plundering - it gives him meaning. Further, his own brother was killed by a white dragon, and he wants vengeance. This and the value of white dragon hide is what has focused him on Clan Frostwind. Recently, the raiders met up with a pair of humans from lands beyond the Islands during a trading trip past the Ice Sea. They were dragon slayers, and they convinced Odifal they could help him, if they were given an army to lead. Eventually, Odifal convinced the other frost giant chiefs to help him, and now, one of Odifal's ships leads an armada of eight giant ships, loaded down with a total of 240 frost giant warriors. Its not a huge army, but it's going to be enough to hurt Frostwind and Corum real bad. The ships will arrive in 24+1d20 days after the PCs reach the lair.

Odifal himself is a savage, dangerous fighter who especially hates white dragons. He leads by example and has never yet fled a fight, but if things are going badly, he is not above doing it. He is a powerful and very smart warrior whose only blind spot is his hatred of dragons. He's a tough foe - AC -2, 106 hp, THAC0 5 and 2d8+12 damage in melee with his magic battleaxe, or 2d10 damage with thrown rocks. On top of that, he's got a ring of fire resistance and two scrolls of protection from dragon breath. His raiders are pretty tough as well - AC 0, 2d8+9 damage in melee and similar amounts of HP to their boss. He has a band of 30 raiders right now.

Now, the dragon slayers. The force of dragon slayers Io's avatar recruited waaaaaay back when, they were nearly wiped out. Those who survived in the Io's Blood wilderness are savages, without any of their old power. Those who continued the line in human lands, however, maintained the dragon slayer traditions, albeit in fewer numbers. They are a band of religious warriors dedicated to Io, retaining the knowledge to forge the armor and weapons of the slayers. They do not, however, have the skill to make the great ships needed to cross the seas, and most humans have no interest in beginning the ancient war again anyway. The dragon slayers are rare, now. Very rare. The band in human lands has sent two of their best to scout the islands and find out what the dragons are up to these days. Their names are Daress and Kandoz, and they've been in the islands a few months before meeting the giants. Daress saw the chance to strike without needing human forces, who currently have no way to transport an entire army to the islands anyway. She convinced Odifal that with her help, he could win a war against dragons - that she and Kandoz could teach the giants how to fight dragons properly. They don't actually expect the giants to win, however. They expect them to cause enough damage to weaken a few clans, which can then be used as starting points in the renewed war against the dragons. The DM is told that they may want one of the slayers to escape to become a recurring villain later. Daress is pretty tough - AC -1, 87 hp and capable of 1.5 attacks per round for pretty massive damage against dragons - especially gold dragons. Kandoz isn't quite as good - AC 0, 76 hp, but he hits harder and is focused on silver dragons.

Please ignore the seam - this was a map drawn in two halves on facing pages.

Location 1 is the Ice Sea 'river' that cuts through the caves. It enters via a 150x300 crack in the rock, and fills the are to about 50 feet below the top of the gully the river follows, with many caves on either side. The giants have built docks along it for their ships. There's massive icicles hanging from the ceiling, which form an obstacle to flight and are nearly 100 feet long. Location 2i is constnatly guarded by three frost giants watching for intruders. If they need help, they can call in the ogres from Location 3. They also have a large gong to signal the lair with, a table and chairs, some frozen meat and six boulders for each guard. Location 3 is home to the ogre tribe that works for the giants. Four very tough ogres guard the first chamber and chat with the ogres across the river, play with their pet polar bears, or sleep. In theory they're meant to be guards but they're lax because nothing has ever threatened them. If the lair is alerted, however, one will head to location 5 to warn the ogre chief and the rest of the tribe, while the rest will fight alongside the polar bears and ask the giants for help (or help them if the invaders attack the giants first). The polar bears are by far the greater threat.

Location 4 is the ogre refuse chamber, where the ogres leave the frost giant garbage in order to be able to check it for treasure. They have a kidnapped green dragon hatchling in the chamber, chained to one of the walls. They like to abuse it, and it is weak and sick due to lack of good food and water. It fears anyone who approaches, even the PCs, and is too weak to help in any case, but Clan Darkcloud will be grateful to see it returned alive. If the lair is not alerted, four teen ogres will be busy fucking with the dragon and will stand little chance against dragon PCs, though they could be a problem for kindred. If the lair is alerted, only the dragon is in the chamber.

Next time: The return of Krug Bonebreaker or his Chinese knockoff cousin.

Krug Is Here, Unless He Isn't

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: Krug Is Here, Unless He Isn't

Location 5 is the common room for the ogre tribe. They cook, sleep and live here, for the most part, working as domestic servants for the frost giants as well as guards and raiders. Besides the chief, eight guards (for of whom are at Location 3 most of the time) and 18 warriors, there are 22 ogre women, 12 youths and a shaman. Krug, if he survived Not The Draca, is the chieftain and will remember any PCs that hurt him significantly 26 years ago. If Krug died, he is replaced by a statistically identical leader instead. The shaman and leader hang out together, and the leader also has four of the ogre guards as bodyguards. The ogres are very loyal to the frost giants, having profited greatly under them, and will fight to the death. There's a secret passage connecting the ogre chambers to the frost giant great hall, 50 feet wide and 30 high. The ogres use it regularly to do their duties, while the giants will use it only in an emergency. The ogres also have a small collection of gold and gems, worth 3,368 gp. Krug or his body double has gotten tougher since Not The Draca - he's AC 1, 48 hp and armed with a +1 halberd and a potion of extra healing. The shaman can cast a handful of spells (cure light wounds, magical stone and chant) and has a potion of fire breath. Also he wields a lucern hammer, because exotic polearms. There honestly isn't a significant difference betwene the ogre men and women except that the women are unarmed.

Location 6 is a cave occupied by a small yeti clan that serves the frost giants. They guard the small caves overlooking the Ice Sea in exchange for food and some metals that they find pretty. If the kindred sneak in through those caves, they have a 70% chance of being found by a yeti guard, and the noise of combat will attract the other 5 yetis plus the occupants of locations 7 and 8. The yetis have a small amount of treasure worth 913 gp. Location 7 is occupied by a pack of wild winter wolves who like the yetis but don't care much about anyone else. They do not serve the frost giants, but tolerate their presence. They will defend their territory against all intruders, using their frost breath before rushing into melee. There are five noncombatant wolf cubs protected by one of the winter wolves, who gets a bonus to combat against anyone that gets too close to them. Location 8 is a side chamber full of snow from a cracked ceiling, containing a trio of deadly white puddings - one hidden in the snow (with a 50% chance of going unnoticed) and two hanging from the ceiling. They will team up to fight dragons, too, and they hit fucking hard - 7d4 damage each. Lighting and physical attacks will cause the puddings to split into two smaller puddings after dealing the damage, and this is bad - while they have less HP, each pudding hits just as hard as the larger one they used to be. Best to use fire.

Location 9 is a cave occupied by a tribe of 12 ice trolls who trade with and buy slaves fro mthe frost giants. They keep a smmall pool of water in the cave that they try to fight in, so as to activate their regeneration. If kindred enter the area they control (this and Location 10), the ice trolls will try to capture them and throw them in the slave pens. If the intruders are dragons, they will send a few trolls to warn the giants. The leader of the ice trolls is slightly stronger and uses an actual long sword, and will always rush to the front of the fight. Beyond that, the trolls are not actually very good at all. They have treasure with 6,650 hp, plus a pearl of power they took from a captured wizard (now dead) that allows a mage to recall one 2nd level spell per day. Location 10 is the slave pen, where their captives are kept and fed until the trolls decide to eat them. Currently, the captives are four gnomes from Clan Frostwind, two kobolds and a half-dragon elf, though the trolls are unaware the elf is a half-dragon. If the PCs free them, only Nadrus, the half-dragon will be willing or able to help - the rest will take their chances returning home in the wilds. Nadrus will not help if treated rudely, however. This area also has an icy pool for the trolls to fight from. Nadrus himself is half-silver and...honestly, he's not very good at fighting and will probably get killed. His claws let him attack twice, but only for 1d4 each. He does know how to use a bow or a sword, at least.

Location 11 is the lair of two remorhaz. It's full of ice pillars that block vision, but there's signs of dangerous monsters inside. The floor is full of ice that is slippery even for dragons, causing -4 to hit and -2 penalty to AC. The remorhaz are vicious and will attack even dragons, with the first attacking from ambush and the second hanging back 1d4 rounds before also ambushing unless someone is specifically watching out for more monsters. The remorhaz are very, very dangerous - AC 0 without a called shot, and they do 6d6 damage on a bite and can instakill anything less than 14 feet tall if they roll a natural 20. Plus, anything that touches their back takes 10d10 heat damage, and nonmagical weapons melt on contact. The location marked A is a concealed entrance into the frost giant lair. Odifal smashed it open and sealed iwth a thin lair of ice while the remorhaz were out hunting. If intruders breach the lair, the giants can smash the ice to release the remorhaz into their cave, and can flee through it in an emergency.

Location 12 is the frozen lagoon. The giants have built three docks, and currently two of the boats are here, with the third dock empty. If the giants are not alerted, there's a 1 in 6 chance that 1d4 giants are working on the boats. If the giants are alerted, however, half of the giants from location 15 are here, along with Kandoz the dragon slayer. As long as Kandoz is alive and not in melee, he is assumed to be giving orders that let the giants get +1 to hit and damage. Two giants also stand ready with a pair of double ballistae aimed at the chamber entrance, marked as Location B. Each ballista takes only one operator and can fire two projectiles before it must be reoladed. The projectiles do 3d7 damage (or 2d6 to human-sized targets or smaller) and take two rounds to reload, with a THAC0 of 9 when used by a giant.

Location 13 is the treasure cave of the frost giants. It is full of gems, vassal weapons and armor, precious metals, dragonskin and other treasure, worth 139,826 gp. It is also where the gear of any kindred PCs go if/when they get captured by the giants. There's a colony of six ice toads in the cave that serve the frost giants in exchange for a portion of the treasure - 9875 gp in gems. Any nongiants that enter will be attacked by the toads. 3 per round will use their spheres of cold, since they take a round to recharge between shots, so they split it for constant coverage. If the intruders seem really tough, a toad will flee to alert the giants. The toads are honestly pretty weak by dragon standards, though the cold spheres they radiate can sting.

Location 14 is the cave of the giants' domesticated winter wolves. If the giants aren't alerted yet, eight wolves will be there. If alerted, however, the cave is empty. Location 15 is where the giants sleep. It has room for 30 raiders, plus extra spears and boulders and the personal wealth of the giants, who each have 1d10*100 gp. If the raiders are not alerted, 20 giants will be in the chamber, lounging around. If they are alert, half will be in location 12 and half will be in location 21. Location 16 is the prison. Any captured kindred will be kept here, stripped of gear. Currently, the giants haven o prisoners, but the cage is pretty tough and has a complex lock.

Location 17 is the kitchen. Two ogre women usually work here. They're put of Krug's tribe. The giants' winter wolves also let their pups play here, but they will not fight. If the giants are alerted, the area is empty. Location 18 is the larder, full of moose and deer carcasses and butchered meat. The cave is currently full, as a hunt happened recently. Location 19 is the tample and home to the giants' shaman. If the giants are not alerted, there's a 50% chance of the shaman being here and otherwise in Location 21. If the giants are alerted, the shaman is in Location 21. The holy items and treasure here are worth 16,921 gp.

Location 20 is the cave the dragon slayers live in. If the giants are not alerted, they'll be in here. They will not die for the giants, but will attack as best they can to win or escape. If needed, Kandoz will die so that Daress can escape. If the giants are alerted, particularly if dragons have been spotted, the slayers split up. Daress goes to Location 21, while Kandoz goes to Location 12. There's spare dragon slayer armor in here, plus the wealth of the slayers, worth 8,250 gp.

Location 21 is the great hall of the giants, used for meeting and common activity. Odifal has set up his thrown here. Chained to each side of the throne is a juvenile white dragon. Odifal captured them as halflings and has raised them himself. They are essentially primitive savages by dragon standards, loyal to Odifal and willing even to fight other white dragons if ordered. If the giants are not alerted, Odifal has a 50% chance of being here. If he isn't, he's in Location 22. If the giants are alert, Odifal makes his stand here with 10 giants, the shaman and Daress. There's a double ballista behind the throne, which Odifal will fire at foes until they get too close. The giants will fight to the death. Daress, however, will flee through a secret passage if it seems the giants will lose. One of the passages is the ogre one, while the other exits into the wilderness. The location also has a number of scrolls - letters from the frost giant chiefs to Odifal about the war plans. Location 22 is Odifal's chamber, where he lives with his three wives. If the giants are alerted, only the wives will be here, but they're as fierce as any frost giant. Odifal's personal treasure is worth 16,632 gp.

Next time: Events.

Frost Giant Time

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: Frost Giant Time

Event 1, of course, is Snowfire (or his clone) showing up at the Council as the PCs are getting ready to leave. He reports on seeing a frost giant longboat heading into the cliffside caves. He'll answer anything he can about the region, the cliffs, what he saw and Clan Frostwind, though he's kind of nervous if asked about the clan. This is because the clan leaders dismissed him and he's afraid the PCs will, too. Mykell will wait for the PCs to volunteer to help, but if they don't, she will point out the trouble they've had in the past with frost giant raiders and asks them to do this one last job for her before going home.

Event 2 has Snowfire lead the PCs to Glacianta's shore. If the PCs just fly in, they go straight to the dungeon crawl. Snowfire won't accompany them inside - he's too afraid. If the PCs scout the area, they can find four entrances - the main entrance, two smaller caves with humanoid footprints leading to them and a larger fourth cave. The two small caves are too small for dragons, however. (These are the troll and yeti caves and the remorhaz cave.) If the PCs send their kindred in to scout, we go to Event 3 after some dungeon crawling.

Event 3 could happen anywhere, depending on what the kindred do inside, by themselves. At some point, the cave's inhabitants will probably defeat them. Instead of dying, however, the kindred PCs are merely knocked unconscious, if badly hurt, and thrown into the giants' prison in Location 16. It is possible for them to escape on their own, but odds are this is just more incentive for the dragons to go in themselves.

Event 4 occurs if the PCs begin to overwhelm the giants and defeat them. One of the giants will run over to Location A and smash the ice wall, releasing the remorhaz from Location 11 into the main cave complex. The remorhaz are curious, hungry creatures and will come investigate. Check the location the PCs are in. Subtract 12 from that number, then roll 1d6. That's how many rounds it takes for the remorhaz to arrive on the scene...assuming the remorhaz are still alive, anyway.

At some point, however, the PCs are likely to meet Odifal, probably in Location 21. This triggers Event 5 - the final battle. In most cases, it'll be him, his pet dragons, the shaman, half of the giants and one of the dragon slayers, probably Daress. Odifla's wives and the winter wolves may also be present. Odifal will direct the battle as intelligently as he can, focusing his allies on the strongest dragons while letting a smaller number of giants keep the weaker ones busy. He will spend his time manning the ballista behind his throne until he's forced into melee. If it is obvious that the giants cannot possibly win, Odifal will try to flee through a secret passage, but odds are he's going to go down fighting.

The adventure ends with Odifal's defeat. The game wants one of the slayers to escape and become a recurring foe - probably Daress, but Kandoz is fine too. The PCs will become aware from the stuff they find that the frost giant fleet is coming, and the GM is instructed to figure out a session where they rally the white and amethyst dragons of the island to go defeat the fleet and turn back the invasion, perhaps even getting aid from the Council. Where it goes from there is on the GM.

Next time: Hammerim's back, and this time it's personal.

One Very Angry Dwarf

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: One Very Angry Dwarf

Stolen Hoards is the tale of the revenge of Hammerim. You remember, the corrupt asshole from Dwarftown who was selling metal to the gren dragons? Well, he wants revenge for having been utterly disgraced. Obviously, this adventure assumes that Hammerim's treachery was revealed during that adventure. It takes place when the PCs are adult dragons, and the DM could technically replace Hammerim with someone else the PCs have angered, but that's gonna be a lot of work. As adults, the PCs will largely have been working for their clans and themselves, coming together a few times for adventures over the last 75 years, but not usually working for the Council. Now, they need to come together to deal with the mad plot of a dwarf that wants to ruin them, and has been working very hard to be able to.

It's been over 90 years since the Dwarftown adventure, when Hammerim lost his position and was later cast out of the village. In that 90 years, Hammerim has been plotting and planning. Using the wealth he'd hidden outside the village for an emergency, he bought what he needed for his plan, and the time is finally right to enact it. He's turned a small island off Rockshore into his base, building it into the side of a mountain over the years with the aid of a clan of duergar and a group of drow, both natural foes of dragons (for some reason). With their help, Hammerim has built a deathtrap maze designed to weaken and kill dragons. The duergar brought the muscle, the drow brought the magic, and Hammerim brought the mad genius, promising wealth, dragon torture and magic items from the dragon hoards. Hammerim doesn't want any of the goods anyway - he just wants to ruin the dragons that ruined him. Hammerim has named his stronghold the death maze, and filled with monsters and traps. All he has to do now is lure the PCs in.

He does this by stealing part of the bonded hoards of each PC. The total stolen from each PC is 40,000 gp plus (1d6*10,000) gp. This theft happens before the adventure begins and cannot be prevented by any means. All the thefts occur simultaneously, as Hammerim employs many duergar. When the PCs realize their hoards are robbed, each can only find a singlue clue that will lead them to each other, and only together can they determine where to go. From there, they will travel to the island lair of Hammerim, finding a few pieces of their hoards at the mouth of an apparently natural cave leading into the mountain. Within, they must fight their way through the death maze, against drow, duergar and magically charmed monsters that will try to murder them. At the end, they must face Hammerim and his pet golems to reclaim their hoards.

The GM starts the adventure by just telling the PCs that their hoards are missing. Each finds a chunk of rock, obviously a piece of a shattered tablet. When the PCs each touch their rock, the word 'Dwarftown' appears on the fragments, which radiate magic but do nothing else. The PCs should remember this name and realize that they should contact each other. When they do, they can fit the stones together to form the table, which will then glow and reform with a message: 'Come to the smallest island off Rockshore's northwest shore. There you will find what you have lost.' The PCs can easily find the island - that's where the real trouble begins.

So, backstory. Hammerim has been building the death maze caves for 90 years, and his hatred has consumed him utterly. He cares for nothing but revenge, abandoning even the hedonist pleasures he loved in earlier times. He started out drifting from island to island after his exile, befriending kobolds, orcs and other monstrous races before he met Zoberraz, a drow. He lived with the drow for a time, and with the help of Zoberraz, he developed his hatred into a solid plan. Together, they found the island, and Zoberraz convinced the duergar clan to help them. Hammerim has memorized the names and features of the PCs and learned everything he can about them. In the end, he will fight to the death, no matter how bad it gets. Either he dies or the dragons do. He now has plate mail +3, a battle axe +2, three potions of extra healing, a potion of fire giant strength and a potion of invulnerability. He will use the latter two just before the PCs approach him.

The duergar are led by Kolar, who has pledged his clan to aiding Hammerim. They have built the maze over these past decades in exchange for the promise of most of the treasure hoards. They lurk in strategic positions in the maze. However, if more than two thirds of the clan dies or if Kolat himself dies, the rest will flee. Kolat has both a warhammer +1 and a short sword +2, but compared to Odifal last time around he's not really much more of a challenge. The duergar are slightly worse than him, but there's 40 of them.

Zoberraz and her drow have been plotting against the islands for years. They aren't strong enough to act directly but have stolen treasure over the years. Zoberraz herself is a powerful fighter/mage with enchanted black chain mail, a dagger +2, a short sword +4, a stone of controlling earth elementals, a censer of controlling air elementals, a bowl of commanding water elementals and a brazier of commanding fire elementals. These items were used to summon and bind the elementals in the maze. Zoberraz sees Hammerim as a chance to really strike a blow against the dragons. If the maze works, it can be reused. If not, well, all that's lost is time and one obsessed dwarf. She is sure she and her warriors can escape if the dragons win. Zoberraz is very evil and hates dragons almost as much as Hammerim does. However, she hates all dragons, not just the PCs. She will avoid putting herself and her followers in danger if she can, but will not shy from a fight. She uses her magic powers to her best advantage, lurking in the back. And she's a pretty good mage - up to 6th level spells. She has 30 drow warriors, too.

This is a dungeon crawl without any real special events - just descriptions of the chambers and what happens in them. The ceilings are only 150 feet high, making it very hard to fly and impossible to use aerial combat. Location 1 is the maze entrance. Here, the PCs find a trail of stolen items - around 1000 gp from each hoard. It's unclear if they were left on purpose or not. Any PCs that examine the area can make a dragon senses check to spot the concealed metal doors, but there's not much that can be done about them. They will close as soon as all the PCs enter location 2, and they're very strong and heavily reinforced, plus wizard locked and normal locked.

Location 2 is the Hall of Statues. Each statue is a 20 foot tall dwarf, made of stone or metal. They are neither enchanted nor threatening. About 500 gp from the hoards can be found leading into the three passages out, carefully scattered so that two dragons' goods are in front of each passage, to try and get them to split up. If they do, well, the book suggests running encounters from one group and then the next, cutting between them regularly.

Next time: Elementals.

One Very Angry Dwarf

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: One Very Angry Dwarf

Location 3 begins the elemental passages. It's the home of a water elemental that leaps between two ponds, attacking as it goes. It does not want to be here and does not like anything that's going on, and it's working out its frustration at having been summoned on any dragon it sees, as fast as it can. It will remain on the plane until it is defeated, Zoberraz dismisses it or the summoning device (hidden in Location 7) is destroyed. However, due to the narrow passages of this area, the dragon PCs will likely be forced to spread down the hall and face two elementals at a time. Further, once two dragons enter the chamber, the duergar hiding in the walls will slam the doors shut, cutting the chamber off from the rest of the party.

Location 4 is the fire elemental's room. It has two giant braziers and a fire elemental hanging out in one of them. Further, the room is so hot that any dragon not immune to fire or heat will take 1d4 damage per round. The elemental just wants to burn everything and will attack one dragon at a time. Like the other elementals, it will remain until defeated, dismissed by Zoberraz or the summoning device in Location 7 is destroyed. The fire elemental is eager to fight, as the sooner the dragons are destroyed, the sooner it can go home. This room also has a secret door leading to Location 7, which can be spotted on a dragon senses roll, but which is only large enough for human-sized creatures.

Location 5 is the earth elemental's room, and it's full of dirt. The earth elemental lives in the pit of soil that fills the room, and its eyes are precious gems from one of the stolen hoards, chosen at random. It will focus on the owner of said gems, if possible. It will work with the other elementals to fight the PCs if possible, particularly the air elemental in Location 6. Same rules apply - defeat, get Zoberraz to dismiss it (ain't happening, by the way) or destroy the summoning device. The ceiling is only 100 feet high here, so flight is essentially impossible, except via magic.

Location 6 is the air elemental chamber, and it actually has a 700 foot ceiling, so you could fly if you wanted. The air elemental prefers to attack after the PCs fly, or if they reach the center of the room, or if it has a chance to help the earth elemental. Same rules as all the others.

Location 7 has two secret entrances on its east and west walls. The area's designed for humanoids, only 10 feet tall and 75 feet wide. Zoberraz keeps the elemental summoning devices here. She and 12 of her drow will remian in the location until the PCs get past Location 7, at which point Zoberraz will leave to meet up with Hammerim in Location 16. However, if the PCs somehow enter the chamber before the elementals are defeated, Zoberraz will lead the drow against them...until it seems the dragons are too strong for them. At that point, she'll order them to retreat and will flee to Location 16 via teleportation or dimension door magic.

The path through Location 8 contains a group of 18 duergar, armed with nine ballistae. Six are mounted on a high platform on one side, while the other three are on a platform in the opposite side. Two duergar man each one. They need to be reloaded after every shot, and each shot has a range of 960 feet and causes 3d6 damage to large creatures. It takes them four rounds to reload each ballista, and they're not very accurate. However, they fire three ballistae each round once the PCs enter, to try and game the reloads. They are unlikely to succeed at more than a single shot each, however, and as soon as the PCs attack them, they will flee through secret passages designed for demihumans. If the dragons rush them, however, and head for the south doors, there are a pair of metal doors that will slam to cut off their exit, allowing all the ballistae at least one shot. Once the duergar flee, however, the doors will open to Location 10.

Location 9 appears to be a safe dead end, but is actually a pit trap that will activate as soon as one dragon of 15 HD or more (or two smaller dragons) enter it. Once that happens, the floor opens up and drops the occupants 100 feet down onto a spike pit. A Dex roll at -4 will let you prevent the fall through flight, but otherwise the dragons take 6d6 damage, between gravity, their weight and the spikes. Any dragon that survives can make two Str checks to climb out, but if either fails, they fall back in and take 3d6 (if the first fails) or 6d6 (if the second does).

Location 10 is a chamber with four stone statues in it, each shaped like a 20-foot dwarf. Attempting to enter by any direction but the north will reveal that the doors leading to Lcoation 8 are closed and wizard locked. If they arrive from the north, the doors will shut behind them. A dragon sense check will reveal an invisible drow warrior sneaking to Location 9, trying to reach Location 7 under cloak of a potion of invisibility from Location 15. He didn't expect the dragons to get here in time, see. If captured, he will reveal some of the maze's backstory...but first, they have to deal with the golems. Three of the four stations are stone golems commanded to kill dragons. The fourth is not magical in any way. The golems are larger than normal to better fight the PCs, and also are enchanted with haste. They will not stop fighting until the dragons are dead, they're dead or Zoberraz tells them to. Once they're down, the PCs can capture the drow, who will tell them only that the maze was made for the sole purpose of their destruction, in revenge for Dwarftown. It will take powerful psionics to make him reveal Zoberraz or Hammerim's names.

Location 11 is a garbage pit, 30 feet deep in some areas and 15 feet deep in others. A dragon sense check will reveal a pair of giant slugs hiding in the garbage. They will spit acid at the dragons for three rounds before closing for melee, and if forced into melee they will instead bite. They do pretty good damage and have good HP, but they're not very hard to hit.

Location 12 is the bulette chamber and the third major split from the start. It's full of packed earth and four bulettes, which Zoberraz has enchanted to stay in the room. They'll attack anything that enters, so the drow and duergar avoid this area religiously. Once the dragons enter, two of the bulettes will start doing the jaws fin thing in front of them while the other two come in from below to ambush. The floor is actually a 50 foot pit full of dit, and the bulettes will swim below the surface to try and ambush after every attack. If a bulette ghets reduced to 10 hp, the enchantment on it will break. However, it will keep fighting as long as the PCs are present. There is, however, a 40% chance that it will attack one of the other bulettes if it comes within 10 feet of them.

Next time: More golems. So many golems.

Imagine hating someone so much you dedicate a third of your life to building a death trap.

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Council of Wyrms: Imagine hating someone so much you dedicate a third of your life to building a death trap.

Location 13 is the clay golem chamber. It has two giant clay dwarf statues, which in fact are two oversized clay golems. They are a really tough fight - dragon claws and teeth can't hurt them, just tail sweeps or other blunt weapons, or magical powers. The golems will fight until defeated, destroyed or Zoberraz instructs them to stop. It is possible that the dragons will flee to Location 14; this is a very bad idea, as it is trapped. Meanwhile, two duergar were about to leave when the dragons enter, on their way to the passages in the wall that lead to Location 8, which do not appear on the map. The duergar will attempt to hide behind non-golem statues, but can be spotted with dragon sense checks. If they are, they will both be utterly terrified and cannot give coherent answers, but a Cha check at -6 will get them to explain that Hammerim built the place, Kolar is their leader and they very much do not want to go near the south passage at all for any reason. Also of note - damage from the clay golems requires a 17th-level caster's heal spell or better. The PCs can get that at All Clans Island if and when they get out.

Location 14 is a trap, as noted. It's got two statues in it and otherwise appears empty. The moment anything living enters the chamber, however, lightning flashes around the room in a sudden, blinding display. This deals 6d6 electrical damage to anyone in the room, and if they fail the save for half damage, they are also stunned and will be attacked again the next round. This will repeat until they make the save. Obviously, dragons immune to lightning can handle this trap easily, and the lightning stops when everything living either dies or leaves the room.

Location 15 is an even worse room. It appears to be just a room full of mold, plants and fungi. Once everyone enters it, however, another set of metal doors slam shut an an olive slime creature that, at one point, was a juvenile black dragon will attack the party from the east. In the west half of the room, there is an olive slime waiting on the ceiling to drop onto the first dragon that gets near it. That dragon has to make a save vs poison to even notice the slime landing on it, and any other dragon must make a dragon sense roll to spot it on the PC it landed on. If no one notices it, the host will become protective of it within 2d4 hours. In 1d6+6 days, the host will be transformed into an olive slime creature, no save. Meanwhile, the olive slime creature has only one goal: infect the rest. It has a 10% chance on hit of infecting its target. Once it does, it will move on to the next. Those infected are treated the same way as the dragon the slime drops on. Location 15 is basically an awful hell pit.

Eventually, the PCs will make it Location 16. If the group has been seperated or has ignored most of the maze, however, the room is sealed behind metal doors that resist even magical unlocking. Hammerim wants the PCs worn down before the final fight, and the duergar keep him informed of how things are going. However, he also wants all the survivors assembled so that he can give his evil speech, against the advice of Zoberraz. Only when everything is ready will the doors be opened. All of the treasure is in Location 16, except for the stuff previously noted. When the PCs finally enter, the doors seal shut behind them. There are six iron statues of 20 foot tall dwarves, four of which, of course, are iron golems.

Hammerim will set the golems against the dragons. Of note: magic electrical damage slows the golems, while magic fire damage heals them. All other magic bounces off. Every 7 rounds, the golems will also release 10x10x10 poison clouds. Cubic clouds, because...iron golems. Hammerim spends his time hiding behind the southern treasure mound. After 1d4 rounds of combat, however, his anger takes over and he rushes out to fight, shouting constantly about the crimes he believes the PCs have perpetrated against him. He will fight to the death. Zoberraz is hiding behind hte western mound, invisible, and is using a projected image to monitor the battle, possibly protected by a wall of force to hide that it's not real. If she is attacked, she will fight until she can escape. Once Hammerim attacks, she'll cast spells to help him, but is always ready to flee if needed. If Hammerim dies, she is going to run like hell.

Once Hammerim and the golems are down, the PCs can find the controls for the doors, built into the south wall. Of course, they're not meant for dragon claws, but the PCs will surely find some way to operate the delicate levers. Zobarraz and her crew will flee, and with them, the magic on the maze will fade. The golems will become inert and harmless, while the trapped monsters will flee for the exits. The PCs can take their time to gather up their treasure, release all the locks on the doors and make their way out. Zoberraz and Kolar can easily return to be enemies of the dragons again - especially since Zoberraz's ultimate plan is to conquer the islands, somehow. The GM is left to decide how that's going to go. The book again notes that anyone infected by the olive slime is going to be permanently transformed into an olive slime creature in 1d6+6 days unless someone notices it and removes the infection.

The End.