Dragons’ Rage is an adventure for fantasy roleplaying games (RPGs). The gameplay is aimed at several low-level player characters (PCs) or a smaller group of mid-level PCs.
It plays well with many fantasy RPG systems - including S&W, OSRIC, AD&D, D&D, Dungeon World, Renegade and Renegade ~ Corruption.
- Dragons’ Rage can be played with one player acting as Gamesmaster (GM) or as a solo or team adventure.
- The dragons want what’s been taken brought back - and they’re burning up the countryside to get it!
- It’s up to you to calm or silence the dragons, but they’ll kill you for even trying.
- Can you to make your way through the raiding party’s outpost to try to save the lad who caused it all - and reach the dragons’ lair undiscovered?
- Along the way you may uncover forgotten crimes and, perhaps, solve a centuries-old murder mystery.
The scenario is designed to encourage GMs to get involved in the design:
- Slot in the stats for monsters and treasures from your system of choice.
- Add features to basic maps to quickly set out levels as you like.
- Choose from a variety of possible endings and outcomes.
- Close out or expand options to link to your own/ further adventures.
Published by Thistle Games
Copyright (c) 2012, 2013, 2014 David Morrison
Published: December 2012
David Morrison has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent publisher.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, items and incidents within the text are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or locations is completely coincidental.
The party is travelling along a military road that leads through a frontier region known as Hunters. The area forms one corner of the huge Torntooths mountain range.
Spindrift has more forests than high peaks, but there are hills and occasional mountains scattered across the region. A certain amount of land has been completely cleared and fenced for crops or orchards. However, these are pockets amidst the vast forests spread around them. It’s a thoroughly dangerous place known for regular monster attacks and humanoid raiding parties.
The larger settlements within Spindrift are either prosperous hamlets to the south or wooden defensive structures such as stockades and forts to the north. The forts are often positioned to block off the end of a valley leading to higher ground, where most raiders and monster dwell. Orcs, wolves, dragons and ogres are particularly prevalent.
Those living in Spindrift’s homes and steadings keep horses and wagons ready to flee to the nearest fort in the event of an attack by a war party. Some help is at hand in the form of an active military presence that patrols the region. This allows cavalry detachments to aid settlements under attack within two or three days. However, in the event of a monster break out or a large war party it can take up to a fortnight for a relief column to march in. Clearly, it’s wise for settlements to have some solid defenses in place.
The party emerges from an area of forest to see a village no more than a mile away. There are columns of smoke rising from the village and the surrounding farmland. They can also see two specks of dark red flying high above village in a largely cloudless sky.
If the party stay where they are for 15 minutes the twin dots of crimson will disappear from view as they fly off. If the party is in a rush to cover the distance of a mile or so to the village the two specks will get larger and the PCs are soon going to realize that two adult Red Dragons are heading straight for them. The beasts may circle once before falling upon the party, but time is short.
Getting caught out in the open by the dragons could easily be deadly, so the PCs will need to think about fleeing back to the forest, dashing to the village or burying themselves in the deeper pools of a meandering stream that flows through the middle of the open ground. If the party insist on fighting they will probably take a beating, but the dragons have spent most of their breath weapons and are saving what’s left to terrorize another village. As a result, the dragons are likely to back off from any tough resistance and will stop short of pursue the party into the smoldering wreckage of the village.
Whether the PCs arrive with the dragons chasing them or at a gentler pace, much of the settlement of Bitterveii - population 500 souls - is in flames. The stockade surrounding the settlement is particularly badly damaged and many of the cottages have burning, or burnt out, thatches and missing cornerstones, which appear to have been ripped out of the walls.
It’s also not at all clear where everyone’s gone and there are no signs of any casualties. A warning bell set next to the village well probably saved lives, but there are carts and wagons burning among the general wreckage - so it’s unlikely everyone tried to up and leave.
The structural damage - clearly marked by the dragons’ claws - is not great, but was enough to fan the flames on the already burning thatches - almost as if the creatures wanted to quickly brush them aside and look inside ever building.
If the bell is rung four times in quick succession - or after an hour - a camouflaged hatch in the ground opens and two spearmen climb out on to the surface. They don’t come out earlier without hearing the agreed number of rings in case an enemy is using the bell. The PCs may be able to find the hatch more quickly through thorough searching or magic.
The PCs are largely ignored as the villagers pour out of the bunker and hurry to assess the damage. However, the spearmen welcome you and you are directed to meet the village’s leader - Harken - a retired soldier dressed in the rugged garments of a forestry worker.
He is busy dealing with a gaggle of adults and children that have clustered around him and a young girl of about eight as they left the bunker. The girl is sobbing and trying to blurt out an account of how her brother stole a dragon’s egg from ‘up on the mountain’ and hid it under the floor. Some are looking around for the lad, but he seems to have run off.
Harken sizes you up and asks you to accompany the group. As the girl says there’s a dragon’s egg hidden beneath the slightly charred floorboards inside the child’s roofless home. Harken and the parents are beside themselves - especially when the girl adds that the lad said he was going to take his father’s spear and kill the dragons for attacking the village.
Amidst the anger at the boy’s actions - and the parents’ fears for the lad - an old man steps forward and removes the cloth wrapped around a magical sword. He faces the PCs and as the villagers watch says, “There are none of us here who can face one dragon - let alone two. They’re evil creatures and will try to kill anyone returning the egg as a lesson to the rest of us. You are the only ones here who might survive. I will give you this blade now if you will take the egg back to the dragons?”
“Aye and 1,000 in gold - all our wealth,” adds Harken, “if you save the lad.”
Several of the villagers aren’t so sure about fetching the boy, but all eyes are on the PCs as the whole community awaits their reply. If the PCs refuse they should think about leaving sooner rather than later, because the items they possess probably represent the villagers’ next best chance of returning the egg.
If the PCs agree to go the villagers will waste no time in offering provisions and the old man will hand over his +2 Longsword. Harken has a rough map of the surrounding area and is able to show the PCs where the dragons dwell.
The reptiles’ lair is on top of a craggy, jagged tooth of a hill - unfortunately there’s a complication. A pack of Orcs and their allies occupy tunnels in the lower layers of the hillside. They use the place as an outpost for spying on and raiding over the surrounding area. There could be 20 or more of them in there at a time and they are likely to be very hostile to intruders. It’s possible the lad sneaked past them, but someone of his size may have been able to climb the shattered rock on the crags without being seen by the dragons.
Before the party go Harken has the egg placed on a blanket inside a wooden box and says, “Don’t get caught in the open. The dragons will take the egg if they can and then finish you off.”
- Print or sketch a 3 by 3 chart for each level.
- Add/ remove corridors and tunnels to connect the rooms as you like.
- Place numbers on the map OR roll a D10 to locate each cavern or room.
- Add doors/ locks / secret doors or assume they are in use in particular areas.
- Add steps/ staircases/ ladders/ trapdoors/chutes between levels.
All three of the main levels are formed of caves. These were at one time shaped and fashioned to provide serviceable rooms with a sturdy wooden door at each entrance. The water supply, better ventilation in some areas and a series of fixed oil lanterns were also piped in at the same time, but these have fallen into disrepair and only function intermittently.
The orcs use a combination of extremely worn lantern fixtures, firelight and standard oil lanterns to maintain a dim, but steady light throughout the tunnels and inside most occupied chambers. The top level is out in the open, so there is usually sunlight or moonlight - depending on the cloud cover.
Attempting to scale the mountain is unlikely to help. The rock is fractured and fragmented, which means that handholds fall off and landslides are inevitable. There’s also the risk of being caught by the dragons, which are unlikely to be kind to anyone under the circumstances. It might be possible to return the egg to them at such a point, but they are wicked creatures and more than likely to deliver a warning by ‘shooting the messenger’.
PCs may attempt to use magic or magical creatures to get to the top. Ideally, they would not be equipped to do so, but if they do it is likely they will to run into one or both of the dragons. There might also be other dragons in the air, as the dragons’ rage becomes known to their allies. All are, again, unlikely to be merciful.
In addition, the dragons’ leave colossal blocks of solid stone lying over the entrances to the levels below when they are way and have some ‘guards’ watching over the place.
So, if players don’t fancy the mission they can move on. If they want to avoid the caves they can attempt to get in through the mountaintop, but they may then find it hard to explore further. They needn’t be prevent from doing so, but will go about the adventure in a quite different way.
Dragons’ Rage: Level 1
The caverns and tunnels on the first level are natural caves which have been modified and - where necessary – widened. The walls and ceilings are exposed rock. The interior is warm, slightly damp and poorly lit. It is most unlikely that the Orcs shaped and smoothed the caverns so effectively. The water supply is problematic at the best of times and the air is often stale or obnoxious. The doors, such as they are, are no .more than crumbling frames that have been patched repeatedly. The locks on the doors have either fallen out or corroded and snapped off.
Executioner’s Axe, Executioners’ block, heads on spikes, stocks, covered supplies wagon, (the wagon is set in an alcove, as the outside doors are large enough to allow it in and out).
As PCs enter it is clear that the caverns they are exploring are natural caves, which have then been expanded and carved by stonemasons at some point. A bear is attached to the wall by a long chain. This lets it attack those who enter without allowing it to escape. It’s hungry and will exchange bribes of food for safe passage.
The entrance hall also contains a set of unoccupied stocks, several rotting heads stuck on spikes, (some belonging to Orcs, others to captives), and a half slaughtered ox. The meat has been left lying out of reach of the bear. The soldiers in the guardroom may come to investigate a noisy or lengthy battle with the bear, but they are lazy and confident that no one will attack while both dragons are flying so often. In addition, the sounds of brawls and loud arguments often fill the tunnels.
Straw and pallets, skeletons and body parts, chains and manacles, bloodstains and rope, bowls of gruel and a pan of brackish water.
The six people in here are too starved and worn out to be of much help to the party. Between them they can give a good account of the layout of the first and second levels.
They are not sure exactly what each location is used for - but they can tell PCs how the caverns connect. They ask to be escorted from the dungeon, but will try to make their own way out if the PCs can’t or won’t lead them outside. If healed by 4hp each they could act as inexperienced soldiers – though none of them have any character class skills.
Firewood, ore, furnace, anvils, hammers and tongs and a trough.
The orc berserker who attends to the forge is working with limited resources. The forge runs at too low a temperature for anything more than making basic repairs to damaged weapons or fixing pots and pans. He is quick-tempered and bullying, so he can be relied on to attack using a heavy hammer.
Brazier, woodpile and kindling, tinderbox, stools, cards, dice, lanterns and mugs of ale.
An orc Sergeant and three guards spend much of their time stationed here. They usually play cards and pay little attention to their duties. They’re quite noisy and easy to surprise. Especially in the evenings when everyone is swilling ale!
There is a weapons rack equipped with half-a-dozen spears set against one wall. It almost never gets used and is locked with a chain. The Sergeant has the key tied on his belt.
A workbench, a bunk, beakers, crucibles, flasks, pliers, wire, vials, spills, dishes, decanters, scales and weights, lanterns, fuel and tinderboxes.
The orcs’ incompetent Magic-User lives here. He’s not great at learning spells and even worse at casting them. However, at 2nd Level he does have two magic missile spells prepared, because he’s concentrated really hard on learning them. He lives fairly well, as the Captain has kept him isolated since the Magic-User learned how to make healing potions.
He will fight if attacked, but he really doesn’t like it here and the Captain’s downfall might offer a quick route to a different posting. If the party look in good shaped - and he’s approached with caution - it’s likely he’ll offer-up as many as four healing potions which he has set aside.
Stalls, hay, straw, leads, animal feed and manure.
Six hostile wolves are kept in pens originally designed for horses. They are quite well fed and used for hunting. If not surprised the orc charged with looking after them will attempt to unlock the bolts on each stall. The party may want to take him down as a priority, as he can open two bolts each round.
Crates, boxes, barrels of ale, crowbars, lantern oil, chopped wood, dried hams, salt, sugar, treacle, lumber axes, a woodblock and firewood.
The store is a disorganized shambles with barrels, crates and flasks of oil stacked in no particular order. The spillages of food and oil attract a d4 giant ants, which enter through burrows in the back of the chamber.
They are not particularly deadly on their own, but any sparks or flames may ignite the cave. This is going to burn fiercely with the help of wood chippings lying on the floor. Smoke will pour into the nearby caverns if the door is left open for long. Those on the same level are likely to be alerted and those in the Guardroom will come to investigate.
Balconies, heraldic shields, war banners, pit, chains and manacles, sand and blood, cage, bandages and body parts.
This is where the orcs come to settle their differences and to defeat prized captives. A 20’ deep pit is overlooked by a spit and sawdust floor - with two balconies set at a higher level. Painted banners showing crude images of severed heads, tusks and axes display the outposts ‘colors’.
A large cage at one end of the pit is used to keep dangerous combatants under control. It is currently occupied by four giant wasps that are being saved for an entertaining fight. Netting has been set aside to cover the pit when the wasps are release into it; and it’s a safe bet that the orcs are planning to use some of their captives to put on a show with the wasps.
The wasps are brighter than their captives suspect and the sight of an open door and a handful of possible opponents may see one of them using its powerful sting to break the padlock on the cage. This will release the wasps and they will try to escape. They only attack those who block their way or attack them first. Where they end up if they escape is up to the GM - but they are going to attack anyone seen as blocking or hemming them in.
Well, rope, buckets, ladder, trolley, basins and churns, and 12 barrels of ale.
The problems with the water supply throughout the caves make the well a real necessity. It was intended as a handy fall back in the original design of the caves, but the orcs’ slaves now have to carry jugs of water, and the ale that’s also stored here, up to the next level.
The PCs notice a backpack hung over a chair/ lying in a corner. It’s an emergency battle pack. The orcs take it with them when raiding far from base. It contains bandages, pliers, needles, fish gut cord and three earthenware flasks.
The first flask contains a dose of healing potion; the second contains a dose of a potion for resisting fire; and the third flask holds a dose of a potion that resists frost. Despite its value it gets left lying around, because no one wants to be the one to have to carry it.
Dragons’ Rage: Level 2
The caverns and tunnels on the second level are also natural caves which have been modified. However, the alterations here are much more substantial and the irregular surfaces and twists in tunnels and caverns on the lower level have been straightened out. A lot of money was spent on this level at some stage and it was built to last. Most of the doors are extremely worn with cracked frames and the locks either don’t function or aren’t used.
Oil lanterns are the main source of light. Fittings placed in the walls at regular intervals are refilled by the orcs’ slaves on a daily basis. They offer a low, guttering light - to save on the costs - but there is reliable, if shadow steeped, background lighting. The water supply and narrow ventilation tunnels built into this level don’t work so well and only function in fits and starts. If it has been raining on the mountaintop some of the pipes get cleared but, for the most part, the slaves have to make a lot of journeys to the well on the level below.
Weapon racks, leather armor and shields, secure doors, targets and dummies, hammers and tongs, anvils and matting.
This chamber has a locked door, but PCs can see inside through a metal grill. It’s important to close the door within ten seconds of opening it to prevent an hourglass-timed arrow trap mounted in the roof of the chamber from sending a volley of darts at the open door. Anyone just inside or outside the door at that point takes 2d4 hit points from a flurry of darts.
The armory holds a selection of swords, spears, scimitars and axes - which PCs can help themselves to. There are a couple of battered shields sat in one corner. They are just about functional, but the Orcs rarely use them, as it’s considered a weakness to use a shield instead of a heavier weapon or a mailed fist.
Benches, tables, rock pool, goblets, jugs of ale, trays and platters, weapons and armor, dice, packs of cards, broken bottles and jugs, orcish heraldic banners and wine skins.
The assembly room has a rock pool in the center of the floor. It’s a frequent drinking hole for the orcs when they’re off duty and is a mess of gnawed bones and broken jugs.
Four crocodiles lie unseen on rock ledges beneath the surface of the water. They will come out if there is any significant amount of noise in the chamber. PCs may spot the crocodiles eyeballs peeking out of the water if they stop to watch the water for a couple of rounds. However, the party may not get the chance to watch, as there are almost always d4+1 orcs in here.
The crocodiles don’t like the treatment they receive if they take a lunge at an Orc, but a brawl or fight quickly sends them into frenzy and they will then attack anyone nearby. They’ll also set off down the corridor given half a chance.
A large, green dish sits on a table on the far side of the pool. It’s circular, painted and piled with lumps of torn meat, which are sometimes eaten raw by the Orcs and sometimes thrown to the crocodiles. If lifted the dish is surprisingly heavy and clearing the dish reveals that a thick paint has been added over what is a solid silver disc.
There is an engraving of some kind in the center of the dish, but the PCs will need to find some way of removing the paint to view the image underneath. If they do uncover the design it shows two men and two women.
The man at the front is wearing a crown, while the lady at the front has a holy symbol marked on her head-dress. She is holding a rod with a flaming heart at the tip of the device. A lady standing behind her wears a coronet, but little can be seen of the man set alongside her.
Barracks and Washroom
Unmade beds, grubby blankets, ragged clothing, personal possessions, wooden chests and bunks.
There are usually 2d4 orcs sleeping and snoring in the barracks. They may be disturbed by fighting from nearby, but are for the most part dead to the world as a result of drinking ale before collapsing on to their bunks. Their personal possessions are largely worthless. All of them sleep by their weapons, so anyone planning on going in would be well advised to avoid giving them much warning.
Altar, statues, wooden carvings, benches, lanterns, censers, incense, offerings, pedestals, idols, oils, perfumes, cushions and unholy symbols.
The orcs’ religious devotion is not all it could be and their 4th Level Cleric stays in the chapel most of the time. He encountered the creature on the third level and believes it to be a manifestation of the orcs’ God of War brought forth from the crudely cut wooden idol that sits on the blood-spattered sacrificial altar at the back of the chamber.
A bell attached to the door warns him if anyone is about to enter, which allows him to hide in a secret closet behind the altar. This is mainly to create the impression the idol speaks of its own accord. If the party go in he may attempt to con them by speaking for the idol or cast spells from inside the closet before getting involved in any combat.
When forced he will use a +1 mace and a +1 shield to attack and to try to shout for help. He has a stock of a dozen jars of pickled brains - of various shapes and sizes - inside the closet. Most of the brain tissue may be meant for someone or something else, but there’s a metal dish, a fork and an attached blob of something viscous sitting in a niche beside the table.
Apartment and Wardrobe
Mirrors, toilet, clothes, footwear, screens and curtains, cupboards and closets, chests of drawers, coat and clothes racks, shoe racks, hats and costume accessories, sewing equipment, perfumes and creams.
The Captain’s quarters are surprisingly clean, fresh and tidy. A comfortable double bed, with a flowery bed cover, sits on one side of the room. Shoes, boots, two large wardrobes and clothes for a couple take up more of the space - and there’s a door to some kind of closet.
The Captain’s half-orc wife is generally found in the room or the closet - and she’s had about enough of the loutish, drunken orcs and the increasingly distant orc husband she was persuaded to marry.
She will gladly explain the layout and use of rooms on the second level, but has kept away from the third level for fear of the dragons. The Captain has not told her about the beast in the upper chambers. Though only a 1st Level Fighter the half-orc may see the party as her best chance of fleeing the place. As a result, she may be willing to distract guards on her way out or, perhaps, even consider joining the party.
Hall or Foyer
Benches, hearth, chairs, tables, flags, banners, and hunting and war trophies.
When they’re not out on a raid several orc berserkers use this as their den. They like to display scalps, skulls and similar trophies while drinking ale and singing battle songs. They will go to the Assembly Room and the Arena when the other Orcs are partying, but they’re more cautious about the Assembly Room since one of their number fell into the pool.
None of them like either the ogres or pickled food, so they insist that ale, bread and stew is brought by the slaves or the younger orcs. Each is armed with a throwing axe and a battle axe, so they are dangerous opponents. Their main entertainment involves hurling axes and daggers at a couple of oversized wooden targets. They might even be impressed by someone who could hit one of the human shaped targets right between the eyes at the first attempt.
Cauldron, crude shelving, tables, towels, pots, pans, open hearth, oven, forks, plates and cutlery, jugs, filthy mop, jars, meat and ale, a huge pile of unwashed plates, kitchen gloves, bucket and preservatives: salt, vinegar and spices.
There are usually no children in the caves, but the kitchen is a favorite hangout for three young, male orcs who are tired of listening to either the ogres or the Cleric droning on - and reluctant to go to the Assembly Room on their own.
The youths are also reluctant to spend too much time on weapons training, as the older soldiers give them a hard time. The orcs’ cook is more reasonable - so long as the young orcs help out with the food.
The cook’s latest specialty is pickling and there’s a strong smell of vinegar in a kitchen packed with jars of pickled and half-pickled animals. There are some extraordinarily disgusting jars of whole mice, rats and dragonflies that have been pickled alive; but the current fad seems to be for pickling brains.
They are being jarred as a single item, but it’s kind of hard to tell exactly which brain might have come from any particular type of creature. That said several larger jars contain sizeable brains, which must have come from humans, humanoids or other large mammals. There is also a plentiful supply of ham, bacon and salt, which is used to refresh a half-empty cauldron full of stew.
The stew has a bug-speckled, brown crust over the top, but it is actually very fortifying. Anyone eating a full bowl of the stew while injured can gain a D4 on their health. There must be a dozen or so servings left.
Refectory or Mess Hall
Tables, benches, goblets, plates, serving dishes, soda bread and ale, jars of pickled food and two lit braziers.
The ogre chieftain responsible for keeping an eye on the Captain holds court in the Mess Hall when visiting. He can’t be seen to socialize with the orcs in their Assembly Room, so he stays here with his aide and tries to lord it over anyone who arrives to eat.
He’s been visiting more often and is after any juicy gossip that might allow him to have the Captain replaced. This is because he has taken it as an insult that the rules say he has to sleep in the barracks - due to the Captain’s wife having the right to retain the only comfortable bed in the place. The chieftain and two other loyal ogres are good with the pickled food, but there are no brains among the half empty jars.
Pallets, benches, bandages, blood and body parts.
The orcs’ duties and livelihood are all about raiding, taking slaves or taking and ransoming valuable captives. This involves frequent combat and neither the Cleric nor the Magic-User can match the demand for healing – not least because the Cleric knows how to harm, but not how to heal.
Consequently, the field hospital is always busy. Six wounded orcs - two of them badly wounded – lie in cots. They have their weapons beside them, but the four that can fight must do so at -2 to hit and -2 to damage. The medication – mainly ale – sits beside the cots. A slave does what he can to tend to the badly wounded, but both are within hours of dying of their own accord.
A human girl wearing tattered clothes and with a muddied face turns a corner and nearly barges straight into the PCs. When she sees they aren’t orcs she quickly hugs the PC who looks most injured and says, “Good luck!” She then disappears round another corner.
After sixty seconds or so the PC who was hugged feels rejuvenated and any ability points lost so far are restored – along with up to 4d4 of damage. If asked her name the girl will reply, ‘Hope’, as she skips away. If the PCs attempt to detain her she will simply smile and disappear while still in sight.
Dragons’ Rage: Level 3
The caverns and tunnels on this darkened level are to all intents and purposes rooms. Plasterwork and expensive fixtures and fittings are spread throughout. The heavy wooden doors are locked, but the timber is now so fragile and petrified that it’s easy to punch holes in them.
Much of the level has been sealed from the outside for centuries and in some areas this has resulted in slow decomposition and drying which leaves many non-metallic materials liable to burst into a cloud of dust or to crumble almost on contact. There is slightly better ventilation and more natural, organic decomposition in areas the red dragons’ have torn open.
Apart from the Captain and the Cleric, the orcs stay away. PCs may want to try to use magic to talk to the dead. They may have little chance of success after so many centuries - if the story is to remain a mystery. However, if a GM prefers the number of centuries can vary and/ or a suitable scroll could be made available.
Desiccated corpse, pill boxes, lamps, chests and trunks containing clothes and silver, an hourglass run dry, baskets, jugs, chairs, tables, cabinets, sofas, a painting, rugs and carpets, vases.
The builder of the cave complex and former ruler of the region stays here most of the time. He surrounds himself with memories from before the fateful day which led to him becoming a wraith. He now holds sway over the Captain of the orcs who is terrified of him - and the orcs’ Cleric who is in thrall to him.
The dragons are evil and, as with the Orcs, they allow the wraith to remain while it serves as a shield against possible intruders. It knows about the dragons’ egg and wants it for itself - to drain the egg’s energy. However, the creature has already been torn by their claws for so much as glancing in the chambers they occupy.
Everything in the room looks tidy and in good order – if thick with dust. That includes the once beautiful woman sat on a high chair wearing a long dress. She is clearly the lady the PCs may have seen wearing a crown in the engraving on the second level and/ or on the face of the broken statue in the shrine on this level. However, she has been dead for centuries in a chamber kept sealed by the wraith.
As with the library, everything perishable – including the seated corpse – has turned to tissue paper. As a result, any disturbances may cause the corpses flesh to crumble or explode into dust. This would enrage the Wraith - and any use of flames may trigger a dust explosion. Whether removed carefully or simply picked-up the woman’s ruby necklace and earrings are worth a total of 2,500 old pieces. The wraith may try to get the PCs to follow it out of the room.
An unlit hearth, heraldic flags and banners, trophies, tapestries, reliefs and a silver throne.
The trappings of decayed wealth and good fortune are displayed throughout this dry, dusty chamber. Enamel wall panels record the deeds of great heroes - and the faded, painted ceiling shows scenes from the conquest of a land. Non-metallic items are all perished and liable to collapse into dust. The risk of a dust explosion is lowered by the volume of the chamber.
The grand fittings of a court are all in place, but the chamber is otherwise empty. Apart from a bleached skull sat on the throne. A large, rust-free key is stuck inside the skull. Anyone who lifts the skull with bare hands feels a short draining effect and loses d4 Charisma. The skull will probably have to be smashed to remove the key, which allows access through the locked doors on this level. The wraith may attempt to lead the PCs here to draw them away from his apartment.
Shelving, chairs, desks, tables, books, manuscripts, lanterns, magazines, catalogues, directories, atlases, lenses, bookmarks and four ivory paperweights.
The contents of the once grand library are extremely dusty, but everything looks intact. Except for a desiccated corpse slumped over a desktop with a jeweled +2 dagger jutting out of its neck. It is slumped over an open book, which is dyed crimson with the blood of the murder victim.
All the rest of the books are now made from a paper turned almost to dust - and any disturbance within the chamber is likely to result in the disintegration of some or all of the contents into a cloud of chaff. This dust could easily ignite while in the air if exposed to any sparks or flames. Prising the bloodied book from the hands of the dust and tissue skeleton means snapping its head and fingers off. However, the book itself has somehow/ magically retained enough moisture to remain readable.
Turning the first bloodstained page reveals traces of legible text below. If the dagger has been removed fumes start to rise from the bloodstains and they rapidly coalesce into the form of a Shadow.
It will attack without any provocation or any regard for the contents of the room until it is destroyed or until the dagger is jammed back into the neck of the now headless and, presumably, ‘dusted-down’ skeleton - assuming enough of the neck remains to do so.
The fist-sized paperweights have ivory skulls as bases with a clear crystal orb embedded in the top of each skull. They are worth 750gp as they are. However, they can be ‘powered’ by casting electrical spells at them. After 25hp of charge each the orbs start to glow with red, green, blue or white light.
Clasping one in both hands, shaking it and staring into the orb transfers a batch of the library’s practical knowledge to the bearer. This effects, in order, Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma – delivering a lasting +1 to a PC. However, this will only work once/ PC and any attempt to remove a paperweight from the library only results in all those within the chamber being electrocuted for 25hp each. If there is more than one person in the library at the time the current jumps between them and may ignite dust or papers.
* - See Level 4 Room 1 for the dragons’ location.
Bed of silver and gold of 20,000gp and 30,000sp, a treasure chest containing a +2 protective ring, a scroll of six magic user spells, 6 potions and a +3 Spear.
The dragons have turned this former meeting room into their internal lair by tearing a wide hole in the ceiling. A pile of rubble lies behind the double doors, but the wood in the doors is fragile and won’t put up much resistance.
The lair is plugged from above if both dragons are in flight. However, one or both of them may be nearby at any time. When one or both of the dragons is in the garden, a slab of rock placed over the entrance in the roof is likely to be off; and they are probably going to hear anyone trying to make off with their treasure.
The GM can decide whether or not one or both of the dragons are present or in the garden. Alternatively, roll a D6 with a 1 indicating both dragons in the lair; a 2 that 1 is in the lair and one in the garden; a 3 that both are in the garden and likely to hear any noise. A 4 can be taken as a dragon returning or checking the lair.
If they are resting in their lair they won’t hesitate to attack someone breaking in. It is likely the party will be interrupted at some stage if they try to remove all of the treasure in the dragons’ absence.
The dragons would have to start tearing down walls to hunt them inside the third level, but the PCs need to be very careful to use a diversion and/ or cover of night when leaving the caverns if the dragons have caught them in the act of stealing their treasure or returning the egg.
* - See Level 4 Room 1 for the dragons’ location.
Mobile made of rocks and crystals, a low fire, a ‘bed’ of 2,500 gold pieces.
A large block of rock seals the door from the inside, but there’s a crack at one point where a child of ten or younger might get through. Dwarves or halflings would need to be very slender to get in. So, if there are no children with the party, the gap needs to be widened to gain access.
Alternatively, entry might be gained from above as the hole in the roof is large enough to allow the dragons to get in. However, they’ve placed another massive, flat slab of rock over the hole. This is where the dragons kept their egg and planned to see it hatch.
If the party makes it this far with the egg they can leave it here and, providing the Wraith doesn’t get in, stop the dragons’ attacks on nearby forts and villages.
The mobile includes several clumps of uncut rubies, which will glisten if caught by the light from a lantern. If these are taken, at 500gp for each of eight clusters, and if the dragons find out who did it . . . you’ll likely meet again.
Beds, cupboards, washrooms, bedding, a small number of deliberately abandoned items and two chambers containing personal possessions.
This area is split into a series of apartments arranged as cubicles with sliding doors. Two larger apartments have locked doors, but the rest are open or able to be opened. Most of the cubicles have been abandoned and stripped of almost all personal belongings. However, the two larger cubicles appear untouched.
Each of these contains a small, private lounge, a washroom and a sleeping area. The one on the left is sparsely furnished, with only a few items set out, including a seemingly undecipherable prayer book, a string of prayer beads and a cupboard full of robes. There is also a selection of religious paraphernalia, such as a silver censer and a case of candles, tucked in the bottom drawer of a wardrobe.
An obsidian mirror with a white pearl handle is the one real indulgence in the room. If grasped the handle turns as dark as the surface of the mirror. Holding it once or twice makes a PC a d4 less charismatic each time. Holding it a third time results in a pair of bloodshot eyes appearing on the surface - you sense it/ them seeding a thought in your mind but the mirror goes black again and you’re not at all sure exactly what happened.
It is up to the GM to choose what to introduce here, but a solo player can opt for a suggestion, which invites the PC to be reckless at the next opportunity. Something more sinister is an option for GMs.
Most of the other items are close to disintegration due to age and the dry air. The cubicle on the right is cluttered and shambolic – with a bed that has been left unmade for hundreds of years and clothing still strewn around. There’s lots of dust due to thin papers completely disintegrating over time and this worsens if the PCs move around.
A thorough search will reveal a sealed, ivory case, which shows no sign of age and seems to be enchanted. If a PC uncorks the top a scroll of six magicians’ spells can be pulled out. They are still in mint condition and even though the written magic is arcane it is based on the language of magic - and can be used by a Magic-User. The spells it includes are for the GM to select to suit the gameplay. They can also be rolled randomly using players’ system of choice. PCs may be on their last legs at this stage, so something protective might be useful.
Pots, pans, basins, rags, towels, sinks and basins.
The dragons tried to punch their way in through the roof of this chamber and dislodged sections of the ceiling while doing so. They weren’t far off cracking the roof open, but moved to try another spot before breaking into the scullery. This left mounds of rubble resting on top of the cupboards and sinks of a chamber once used to serve refreshments on this level.
PCs can see silver cutlery and a golden tray jutting out of the rubble. However, the roof is in a fragile condition and partly propped up by fallen stone. Any attempt to recover the expensive ceremonial trays, goblets, plates and cutlery calls for considerable care. A PC may be able to pick items to a value of 1,000 gold pieces from the rubble with a successful roll against traps, but the party is going to have to go to greater lengths if they want all of the 4,000 gold pieces stuck in the rocks and plaster.
If the PCs do find a way to recover all of the items they come upon four elaborately engraved silver goblets. Each has decorative markings related to one of the four elements; a name plate; a face plate; and a base with slots that might allow them to fit together if the adjoining pieces were present.
The name plates at the base are worn and inscribed an unknown language, but the face plates show two men and two women. The man on the fire-themed goblet wears a crown; the man on the earth-themed goblet holds a wand; the woman on the air-themed goblet wears a coronet; and the woman on the water-themed goblet holds a rod. The face on the air goblet is identical to the face on the broken statue on the mountaintop.
Swimming pool, towels, filters, diving boards, mosaics and cubicles.
Grand mosaics once lined and adorn the walls of this custom made swimming pool. Many of the small tiles now lie in piles beneath their original position, because the grout dried and eventually crumbled. The water in the pool has not circulating properly for countless years and has largely evaporated. The fluffy sludge that remains contains little or no actual water.
It does, however, release odourless fumes from a fermenting fungus growing in the dried muck. Anyone inside the chamber will feel giddy after two rounds and lose a point of Strength after four rounds. Staying for another two rounds costs a point of Dexterity - and so on. These effects last for 24 hours. The mosaic tiles can be recovered with care, but it would take at least an hour to piece just one of the eight panels back together. Unless magic such as a limited wish were available.
Statue, suits of armor, offerings tables, censers and incense, a font, pedestals, podiums, oils and perfumes.
The temple is as dry and as dusty as much of the rest of the level. Each wall displays a row of four suits of archaic plate armor. However, the most striking feature is a 9’ tall bronze statue of an ancient warrior deity set at the far end - its name and worshipers long forgotten by the time the party arrives.
It is also hard to miss several papyrus-like skeletons spreadeagled across the floor beneath the vestiges of their robes. Each skull has been crushed with a single blow to the side of the head and dried bloodstains still faintly mark the tiled floor.
Judging by the proportions of the hips most of the corpses are female. One lies with a rod resting just a couple of feet from the skeleton. Her head rests on the crushed stems of three roses. The rose blooms still sit just in front of the skull - their living red petals faded to a pale, pink paper. All three will burst at the slightest touch or breeze.
The silver rod has a ruby heart with a flame rising from it at the top and matches the appearance of the rod shown in the carving on the second level. At present it is unclear how it operates or what it does. Perishable fixtures are as prone to some of the same easy disintegration that occurs in other areas on the same level.
It would have been ghastly to witness the bodies as they desiccated and turned to tissue paper over many, many years. A really close inspection of the statue may reveal a peculiarity, as the very center of both eyes flicker occasionally. From the right height and angle it looks almost as if there’s another set of eyes forming the pupils of the statue’s eyes.
The Captain may be encountered in one of the tunnels on the third level. The wraith hasn’t drained him of all life energy or gone to attack his troops, because the Captain has been supplying the creature with captives and underlings to drain.
The officer is under orders to do this and to allow the Cleric to feed the monster all the brains it wants. The bodies of the victims of draining have to be dissolved in a puddle of holy water almost as they’re drained - to prevent them turning into wraiths.
Consequently, the Captain carries four flasks of holy water when it’s time to feed the wraith. He may have the boy from the village and the water with him - depending on whether or not he’s already fed the wraith.
Dragons’ Rage: The Mountaintop
The dragons’ garden is a plateau with a lake, low trees, a shrine and a natural cavern formed by a jutting rock ledge. There is enough shelter from the weather for a wide variety of mountain plants and flowers to grow here. If the dragons are elsewhere it is likely they will have left two large slabs of rock resting over the entrances to the chambers below. It requires the strength of one of the adult dragons to slide one of the slabs out of the way - and both to lift a whole slab.
At present the dragons are mainly concerned with searching nearby villages and pressuring the inhabitants to return the stolen egg. As a result, they are in flight several times a day.
However, they do need to return to the mountaintop to rest and they have some help in keeping an eye on the garden - a flock of a dozen black crows. These scavengers will fly to warn the dragons of intruders in return for the scraps of meat the dragons throw to them.
The dragons are in the habit of sleeping on the bed of silver and gold in their lair and will remove the slabs and check on their treasure on a regular basis if they are in the garden.
For now the dragons aren’t really interested in the rest of the rooms and caverns below. Their treasure chamber and the room torn out for the egg are all they have use for. Moving further into the upper level would mean ripping out supporting walls and, possibly, being vulnerable to attack while doing so. More underground space would be useful with a young dragon to protect, but not while it is very young.
They are aware of the wraith after it tried to intrude into their lair when they first arrived. The creature appeared to suffer greatly from their blows and lacked the power to drain their energy. So far as they know, it has learned to stay well away from them. If they see the wraith again they will not hesitate to set it on fire, which could risk igniting the whole upper level.
Overhanging rock, rock slabs, plants, dragonflies, earth, nightingales, flowers, and a lake.
The chance of encountering the adult dragons depends on the circumstances. Check when the PCs get close and allow a 60% chance of one or both being present or arriving. If at least one is present roll a 50% chance to see if both are there. If they are asleep in the garden or the lair it’s probably safe for PCs to go into the empty nurture chamber. Make a check every 10 rounds until a dragon/ s appear. Fighting the dragons outdoors is likely to be very dangerous, as they’ll use their breath weapons and chunks of rock to avoid close combat and soon wear the party down.
Walls, a roof, a statue, curtains, stained glass, carvings and lanterns.
It is taking a considerable risk to approach the shrine if the dragons are near or likely to return. This is not a religious shrine. Instead it contains a broken statue of a beautiful woman and piles of stained glass smashed from its lead frames. The base and lower body are standing intact, but the upper body has toppled on to the floor and the arms were broken in the fall. A crushed coronet lies beneath the torso, but it has been beaten or hammered and was not simply buckled or crushed by the statue. The crown still holds several rubies and could be salvaged for sale at a price of 1,000 gold pieces plus d4 500 gold pieces depending on the skill of the repair, i.e. 1,500 gold pieces if it just gets melted down and sold. The stained glass is beyond repair as it is, but an hour spent on partial reconstruction of the mosaics found elsewhere and an hour spent trying to assemble one of the piles of glass beneath the eight frames will reveal that they share the same border. Fixing the mosaics can, therefore, allow and speed up the reconstruction of the stained glass panels by guiding the start of the repair of each panel.
GMs’ Gameplay Options
- What if the egg breaks? It might start out at AC8 with the shell at 20hp. A wooden box could improve this to AC7 and add 5hp; while a sturdy metal container would improve the AC to 5 and add 15hp. If the Orcs get it they’ll probably attempt to pickle it and eat it – apart from the Cleric who might take it to the Wraith. If the Wraith does get it and drain the energy what happens? The young dragon could still hatch and be born undead and/ or the Wraith could gain extra powers or a Draconian change of form as a result?
- The egg hatches and possibly imprints on the first creature it sees?
- The eyes inside the statue in the grand temple are those of the queen/ princess – held there in magical stasis until released?
- There are almost enough slaves, dissidents and captives to form a militia?
- One or both dragons appear when the PCs enter their lair or the nurture chamber? This needn’t be a deadly assault and might well involve a dragon peering through a ceiling or a wall without turning into any kind of battle to the death.
- Does the dragons’ treasure contain items that might give the PCs some chance of fending off the dragons?
- How are the four goblets slotted together and what would the effects be – restoring the court to the past?
- The stained glass and the mosaic tiles need hours of work to unravel and might offer an account of events in the past or act as a conduit for the return of the former inhabitants if the goblets are reunited?
- Who do the eyes in the obsidian and pearl mirror belong to – they might also be the eyes in the statue?
- What, if anything, was implanted by the gaze in the obsidian mirror?
- The powers of the sacred rod with the flaming heart - and how to activate them?
- Do players really need/ want to have the whole story spelt out? Better to let players arrive at their own theories or conclusions unless they insist. Clearly, the Cleric is the obvious villain of the piece – probably blaming the magician for the disappearance of the queen/ princess? When the king/ overlord found out . . .
- What is Hope up to - just one of her dreams venturing into another reality?
- Is there any way to preserve/ save some of the incredibly fragile documents in the library?
- If the blood is gone from the book in the library can the contents still be read?
- Not tough enough - more Shadows or Wraiths - turn the Shadow into a Wraith and the Wraith into a Specter?
- The third level could burst into flames or explode - this might be limited or PCs could be given a bit of help to cope with any raging fires? Dust explosions depend on the density of the dust, so it is not hard to limit these. However, a large explosion or a widespread fire could easily devastate areas like the library and the apartments.