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Arvan: Land of Dragons RELEASED!

Arvan: The Land of Dragons, the new campaign setting for Dice & Glory. It centers on the Age of Adventure and a burgeoning international trade and era of conquest. As well as the reclamation of territory from the supernatural forces that have dominated it for so long. This resulting from an extended Dark Age of Mad Mage-Lords and Dark Warlords. In addition, in the East an ancient empire struggles to slow its disintegration into smaller feudal princedoms. While its central theocracy seizes power for itself by focusing the chaos on the empires’ former Western colonies. Power is up for grabs for those willing to seize it.

The world’s technology level hovers between the late Iron Age and the High Middle Ages. No “Tolkienesque” classical player races exist with Arboreans (tree-men), Amazons, Fauns, Ratlings, Naga, unicorns, and Hill-Giants instead. Of course, there are still human beings. The world of Eu, the planet on which the setting of Arvan exists, has a healthy dose of dark mystery along with a patina of medieval grit. It has realistic underpinnings established for the fantasy of the world to exist on. Inspirations include ancient Rome, Greece, the ancient Americas, as well as Warring States Era China, with some influence from ancient Africa and the Celtic lore and history of Europe not to mention Ancient Greece.

The setting focuses on an “Age of Adventure” wherein the players and their characters can explore and engage the world. Players have a chance of making a mark on the world of Eu. The focus of the setting is adventure be it raiding and pillage, thievery, monster hunting, dragon-slaying, establishing trade routes, exploration, or conquest.

This setting was nearly 10 years in the writing and evolved after several years of role-play. The history of Eu and its cultures were constructed to provide a deep background for fantasy games that may stay as standard and shallow as they please or take a deep dive into the people and places of the fantasy world.

The PDF is available right now at DriveThruRPG.com and RPGNow.com!

The print edition will be available sooner than expected from Lulu.com but more on that later.

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The Cabal of Eight Pt.5: Thug Life

It was nearly two hours before the trio of mages was able to make it to the necropolis gates. All the way Where the thug led them.the air seemed to become increasingly still and just before the gates the wind itself seemed to fear making any sound at all. They stopped just outside of the gates at the ragged edge of an old irrigation ditch just before the old road.

Accordingly, they surveyed the pitch dark for the evident light of a campfire but all was black. Suddenly, a shape rose from the shadow gesticulating wildly. All three of the young mages recognized the senior thug. He was signaling them as silently as he could to DUCK!

As a result and almost as a reflex, their heads turned in unison past the overturned wagon and the body of one of the thugs to where the Wher dragon was butchering the dead horses with its teeth and claws. Immediately the mages jumped into the ditch and pressed themselves hard against its slanted overgrown sides.

After an hour, every thug and mage present had kept a keen eye locked onto the dragon as they waited the situation out, the Wher flew off back into the necropolis bearing the better part of a horse carcass. Consequently, Excor decided to stay where he was for the rest of the night and sleep in the ditch.

Gornix dashed over to the thugs who were held up by the overturned wagon. The older thug was somewhat upset. Apparently he owned the wagon and was a bit angry that it had been broken up and both draft-horses eaten by the dragon. Fauna simply stayed in the pit with Excor following his example as well as being more comfortable in the thick tangled grasses.

Finally, morning came, the great purple moon and its rings darkened a large portion of the blazing orange dawn. The young mages and the thugs quickly wolfed down their iron rations and used what of the grog they could salvage to wet down the hard tack. After breakfast they assessed the damage to the wagon, it was determined a total loss. As a result, the old thug went on a tirade about “that double-dealin’ dishonest soft-skinned shiesty fop! Easy money my @$$! It weren’t enough! Not by a long toss! Owe’s me a pair o’ good horse an a WAGON!”

The angry old man roughly wiped the spit from his beard and flung his arm clean. He walked over to the other two thugs.

Jenn (Fauna’s Player): “So. What do we do now?”

Cris (Excor’s Player): “We walk.”

Gil (Gornix’s Player): “What!? Anybody have a flight spell or something!? Nothing? My CON’s not good.”

Cris: “You got anything?”

Gil: “No?”

Excor marched off by himself and looking back at his companions shouted, “C’mon! Let’s Go!”

The three thugs grumbled, “Who the hell does that guy think he is?” between themselves. After a few seconds, they shrugged their shoulders and followed. Fauna and Gornix searched the broken wagon for rations for some unknown reason. However, they found nothing. Therefore, the pair had to run to catch up to their party.

Come noon the sun was high and blazing like molten platinum down onto the backs of the young mages and the surviving thugs. Accordingly, all were drenched in sweat and partially stripped of excess clothing. Road dirt smeared their faces and collected in dark patches to their sweat-soaked clothes. Fauna and Gornix were exhausted. A young thug, the youngest of the remaining three, dropped passing out from heat exhaustion face first into the pale rocky jaundiced dust of the road.

Barely even winded the elder thug and his pal continued on at a brisk pace ignoring their fallen compatriot as well as the mages they had hardly tolerated. Excor decided to wait after some thought and squirt some water from his waterskin onto his dirty sunburnt face. While the crunching trudge of the deserters faded into the heat-shimmering distance.

Regardless Gornix struggled over to the unconscious thug and splashed his face with some water. The young ruffian twitched showing that he was alive but he did not wake up. The remaining group decided to rest where they were. Fauna set up her pup-tent and slept. Gornix tried to help the sun-struck thug but was too weak and so stripped down rest under the arid shadow of a nearby rock.

Cris (to me, the GM): “Hey! Am I carrying that dagger? I sure I am I got it wrote down!”

Gornix as he waited for his companions to recover enough to continue to foot it to the city walls identified the dagger they had taken from the sarcophagus of Dag-Athar. All he could get from the obviously magic item was its mystical connection to a demon. Some runes blazed into view like fire along the curved golden blade.

Cris: “That’s it. I stop touching the thing and wrap it in a rag and stash it away!”

Cris (to Gil): “Hey man you want to carry the dagger!”

Gil: “No. No. I’m passed out right now.”

The day progressed and by late afternoon (approx. 3 pm) Gornix was fully recovered however Fauna and the thug were still out of commission. Gornix summoned a pair of earth elementals (again barely hitting the control roll DC) and had them carry the druid and thug. After an hour when the creatures melted back into the yellow road Fauna had recovered but the thug was still out.

They paused long enough for Gornix to render first aid and when the thug finally was able to stand, barely, the mage lent him his staff to walk with. They soldiered on towards Ezmer. It was not for several more hours (till about 9 pm) that they reached their goal, the city gates of Ezmer. The gates were shut tight.

This was because the gates shut every day at sundown only to open again at the first light of dawn. So, to one side of the gates was a wayfarer camp and to the other a gypsy camp filled with music and Southern Nomads dancing wildly around their roaring bonfires.

Fauna decided to “check out” the gypsy camp. As soon as a pair of nomads approached her showing signs of the mixed blood of humans, faun, and Naga she freaked and left to rejoin Excor who leaning against the city-gate.

Gornix, on the other hand, was trying to follow the thug that had his staff and lost him somewhere in the wayfarers’ camp. For this reason, Gornix rejoined his companions at the gate where they had set up to sleep in a corner against the great wood and iron gates. He cast clairvoyance focusing on his staff and on the strength of his vision, he urged his companions to the western aqueducts.

Finally, they stumbled to one of the gargantuan aqueducts that fed the city water from rivers miles away to the south. They observed the white stone arches as they stretched over the wide and deep stone-lined dry moat. Constructed behind the moat were the battle towers and city bulwarks. The three mages heard a slight chirping from above.

Gornix caught his staff, tossed to him by the thug he had doctored. The young man was above them on a ledge of the aqueduct. He signaled them up. The only words he spoke were in a raspy whisper, “Shh. Keep quiet and follow my lead.”

Therefore, they carefully edged their way across the aqueducting along the narrow bird-dropping encrusted edge. Occasionally they suffered the nip of a beak on a finger misplaced in a pecked out burrow. About midway across the span and only halfway from their goal the leading thug signaled them to stop and lean in against the stone. At this point if any of their grips failed the height of the fall and the impact on the stone lining of the moat would’ve killed any one of the four sneaks.

The young thug sent a twittering bird-call across the moat to the other side. Consequently from the top of one of the battle towers they could all see the yellow-white flash of a signal lantern. The young thug looked back and signaled them to follow. Finally, they continued to the other side where a watchman armed with a crossbow helped them down into the battlements of the bulwarks and from there the thug led them into the streets after sharing a special handshake with the man. Only Fauna noticed this but was unable to memorize the handshake.

Soon after, they were somewhere in the Southwest District of Ezmer navigating a narrow alley among the small crowded multi-story buildings. At this point, the young thug turned to Gornix as he started to duck into a dark and narrow side-alley. “You’re a good man. I would’ve left you.” Gornix began to try to say something back.

The GM (Me): “Dude he’s already gone.”

After getting their bearings, the group headed out to the Red Helm hoping that Draiga had their pay in hand.

To Be Continued…

The Cabal of Eight – Pt.3: Navigating the Necropolis

A light cool, breeze drifted over the irregular crowns of the tombstones, monoliths, and various stone Similar to the one on the tomb at the Necropolis.memorials. The air was strangely fresh having blown from over the ocean, up the Ezmerian cliffs, and onto the foot of the headland. The horizon was dull red with a brilliant yellow white slash in the west.

Excor (Played by Cris): “Man. We don’t wanna be in no graveyard past sundown! Sheesh.”

Excor, Gornix (Played by Gil), and Fauna (Played by Jenn) were making their way across the impressive Ezmerian Necropolis proceeding in a north-easterly direction in search of their quarry: a tomb marked with a golden, grinning demon. They kept their bearing easily using a combination of Clairvoyance (courtesy of Gornix and Excor) and Fauna’s divination skill.

It had taken them almost 2 hours to get to where they were at and they knew they were real close. The strange place posed little hindrance to them in daylight though Fauna had almost stepped on a viper unknowingly. Fortunately Gornix had spotted the creature and warned her in time. He had taken the lead and led the group at a breakneck impatient and nervous pace. Suddenly, they found that they were lost.

Eeriness assailed the minds of the young mages brought to a ringing clamor in their brains now that they had stopped to catch their bearings. The groupings of the graves, the locations of the tumuli, the narrow paths, and wide avenues all bred a vague familiarity within the trio. It was only that they had a brief moment apart from their all-consuming goal that the realization hit them like an icy wave. The layout of the ages old Ezmerian Necropolis was identical to the current layout of the fair bustling metropolis of Ezmer.

Fauna took charge and pulled out a dowsing rod, and easily led them straight to the titular tomb, which was literally just around the bend of a large barrow. The tall age-worn monolithic stone stood among a small tight group of similar albeit shorter stones and was nestled in a sort of alleyway created by the surrounding above-ground sarcophagi and small mausoleums. All covered with heavy tufts of yellow grasses and weeds as well as a thick layer and clumps of stony earth. On the face of the tall stone was a deep carving of a grinning demon with a crown floating above it head inlaid with gold.

The group duly noted that the carven image in the stone resembled, greatly and probably not by coincidence (tee-hee), the banner of the Golden Devil West Company. The Hyvalian trading company, which specialized in slavery and spices, oversaw the Slavers’ Castle in the Slavers’ Quarter of Ezmer.

Excor cast Danger Sense and kept his concentration acting as the group sensor. The great purple moon was quickly fading into a faint shadow as the first stars of the evening began to shine. Fauna inspected the tomb.

At the base of the monolith was a pale coffin-shaped slab of slanted stone. She could see several fresh pry marks all around the presumed edge of the lid but the seal appeared to be intact. Fauna tested the capstone but it seemed immovable. She tapped at the weatherworn stone and contemplated trying to smash her way in but quickly abandoned that idea. They hadn’t the means. All the while the image of the grinning demon seemed to mock her.

Gornix searched around the perimeter of the tomb and found that the lid was a false one. It only appeared that there was a lid; it was a single piece of cleverly carved stone. There was no prying it open.

Gil (Gornix’s Player): “Why didn’t they take hammers to this?”

Cris: “They would assume it was magic if they thought the lid was real. Besides we don’t know what kind of protections this thing has on it.”

None of the mages was able to sense any magic over the tomb but they were picking up some ambient magic about the place.

Stumbling to the east side of the tomb Gornix located a large weed choked sinkhole. He climbed down and found a secret door down into the tomb half covered by the earthen wall of the pit. Recklessly he opened it and peering within found spiral stone steps winding down into the black earth.

Cris (to Gil): “Man! Watch it! You’re gonna get us KILLED!”

A loud groan emitted from a large dugout opening in the tumulus a mere 20 ft. across from them. Fauna immediately cast Invisible to Sight on herself blinking from view. Gornix fell to clearing the remaining debris in the way of the passage into the tomb. The sun fell into the sea and as the last rays of daylight extinguished Excor’s Danger Sense triggered.

The groan turned into a low rumbling growl. The young mages turned to see a pair of jewel-like eyes glaring with a multitude of angry colors as the creature emerged from its lair. It had bronze scales and gnarled claws on its four feet. Excor using his dragon-lore skill was able to discern it as a dragon, specifically a Wher.

Cris (Excor’s Player): “A DRAGON! Man, we’re only first LEVEL! You tryin’ to KILL US! How’re we supposed to fight this THING!?”

The GM (me):  “Who said ya had to fight it?”

Cris: “Yeah, well! Pfft! Whatever. We’re all gonna die.”

The Wher fully emerged from the burrow in which it was squatting and readied to pounce on any one of the three mages. Fauna’s invisibility didn’t seem to hide her from the dragon’s keen senses. Gornix ducked into the tomb entrance and made his way down the first few steps.

Gil (Gornix’s Player): “I stop after the first few to let the others in. Just in case! The steps are trapped. And I wait for those two.”

Excor cast Lightning Bolt at the dragon but dispirited as the bolt of white hot electricity harmlessly skipped off of its glistening hide. The foolish young mage stepped back towards the sinkhole stopping right next to an unseen Fauna. Thinking quickly Fauna snatched hold of Excor’s collar and leapt down into the ditch.

Just as the thing came bounding towards the pit, the druidess and the mage rushed into the stairway. Fortunately, the opening was too narrow for the beast to follow. It stayed for a few seconds testing the stone and earth with its claws. They could here its mighty lungs sniffing the air as it vainly plunged its maw at the opening.

Fauna (Played by Jenn)(to Gornix): “Okay lead the way.”

Gornix stepped carefully down onto each step and in turn tapped the next with the butt of his staff. After several agonizing minutes, they were deep underground having reached the bottom of the spiral steps. Fauna faded back into view her spell expired. The tomb air was stale, musty, and surprisingly dry. Gornix illuminated the crystal at the top of his staff.

Excor pulled out some steel and flint and lit one of his torches. Fauna extracted an oil lamp from her pack and lit it. Before them lay a long stone tunnel its other end shrouded in darkness. The tunnels walls were of chopped stone with monolithic supports. Large flat flagstones made its floor and its ceiling was of large flat stone sat against each other forming an angle creating a peaked ceiling. They were in some sort of vestibule or antechamber with a domed ceiling formed of stacked stone, the only other way to go besides back up into the maw of a hungry dragon was down the throat of the tomb of Dag-Athar.

Excor: “Well I’m not going first! I’m stayin’ back here at the rear. Go on, you go ahead.”

Gornix took the lead and slowly moved forward over the dusty flagstones tapping at them a little bit before stepping gingerly onto them. Fauna followed closely behind.

Cris (to me): “Oh yeah. I stay about 10 ft. behind her. Just in case.”

To Be Continued…

Arvan – Land of Dragons *Update*

The Bad News…

Unfortunately the Arvan setting will not be released on time due to the art simply not being done. We originally shot for a November 2016 release but a few unforeseen situations cropped up and the month of release kept getting pushed back until December. Of course, by the beginning of October we were out of money, the budget of the book was bust.

The Good News…

The art will be done and the book will be finished. So we have set a specific date of release. The date set is February 15, 2017. We will first release the pdf version through the normal channels and then by the end of March it will be available in its print edition.

The Arvan Setting

Dragons infest the land of Arvan a high-fantasy setting with the dark and brutal overtones of sword & sorcery. Set during the rise of an age of exploration and trade it’s a world fraught with the ruins of former ages inhabited by the folly of the Mad-Mages and dominated by Dragons!

Arvan The Land of Dragons

Player Races include Arboreans, Amazons, Fauns, Hill-Giants, Humans, Naga, and Ratlings!

The Book

This Dice & Glory world book includes a mass of general information on the planet and its peoples. Also a great many details about geography, flora, fauna, natural resources, places of interest, religions, cultural spheres, ethnic groups, and archetypal equipment for each of the 7 main regions of the sub-continent of Ar. There is supplemental and background information on the ancient nations of the eastern side of the continent, called Van. There is also introductory info on the world of Eu on which the continent of Arvan floats and a GM section dealing with time measurement and the multiple Moons of Eu among other GM-Only details!

250+ Pages!

Release Date: February 15, 2017

Written By: Robert A. Neri Jr.

Cover Art By: Jamie Noble <=== Facebook Link

http://thenobleartist.com <=== Website Link

A Quick Word about the Blog

For those of you who read my gaming blogs, the blog will return next week. Due to the Cabal of Eight campaign sessions being a little erratic my material is running up to the current game-play. Fortunately, we have a (hopefully) stable play schedule coming up through the holidays so it should resume weekly as usual. That is, weekly barring any information that may be given away to the players via the blog anyway.

The Cabal of Eight Pt.2: Wagon Ho!

The monotonous grinding of the wagon wheels going round and round against the yellow dirt had aEzmer City Seal from which the wagon traveled. hypnotic effect on all those riding in the back of the high-sided wagon. Gornix the Ivoran wizard sat silent his body wobbling occasionally with the movement of the wagon over the terrain. Excor, the Ivoran mage in Westlander clothing, lit his pipe and after taking a deep tug at it, tried to start up a conversation with one of the rough looking men they had met outside of the Red Helm at dawn that morning.

The young mages were accompanied and being driven by four toughs presumably hired by Draiga Skullshine. They were all Ezmerian but undoubtedly thugs drawn from the city’s underbelly. They were hulking brutes with deeply scratched and heavily lined features. All were in some sort of dirty and haphazard sort of studded leather armor.

The leader of the four thugs was the eldest, with wintry white hair and beard and a crevasse of a scar diagonal across his face that etched a notch into his punch-flattened nose. He sat next to the second in command the next eldest with peppered black hair and a bristly dagger-hacked beard. They were driving. The young mages and the last two younger thugs were all sitting uncomfortably in the bed of the wagon.

Excor (Played by Cris)(at the thug directly across from him): “So. This necropolis we’re heading to … ya got any info on it … er.”

In response, the ill-tempered bigger man spat a gob of snot at Excor’s feet then looked away towards the sky. The hired ruffians had been hostile to the 3 mages since the start of the trip; they hadn’t even given their names to the trio. Of course, the trip was miserable. All were soaked in greasy sweat. They had left the relief of the fresh gusts of the salty sea breeze far behind as they traveled south away from the cliffs and sea on the western trade road out of Ezmer.

Fauna the rogue-druid was gazing blankly out the back of the wagon at the road behind and the choking cloud of yellow dust thrown up by the wheels. She drifted back to the night before.

After Draiga had met with the trio in the basement of the Red Helm and essentially hired them to retrieve a certain item for him, Fauna took her bindle and left for her regular campsite, the central grove.

The Grove is a large open park consisting of a remnant and very ancient druidic grove with a central great oak. At its head in the north is an open well-manicured field with a central menhir circle. To the west of this circle of standing stones is a permanent executioner’s scaffolding. At the south end of the Grove are the remains of an ancient amphitheater sunk deep into the earth. All this situated as the city center. A dense cluster of shops, taverns, and residences surround this marking the circular border of the Old Market District. The Grove has its resident tender hired to maintain it via the City Council.

Fauna was familiar with the resident tender, he was also a rogue druid and in the habit of calling her “little sister”. His name was Anishi. He was tall, in his mid-thirties, and dark of skin, probably with some Creschan blood, with black hair burned short.

Fauna had just reached an isolated spot in the Grove and just settled down in the grass. She was letting the sounds of the crickets and wind rustled leaves take her into dream when suddenly she heard a noise. It was a small group stealthily creeping towards her position.

Jenn (Fauna’s Player): “I ready my staff! Nobody’s going to touch my stuff.”

Just then, she saw Anishi emerge from the bushes. He was wearing a bright blue robe with a yellow silk noose around his neck. Being especially eagle-eyed for the moment (she Natural 20’d the Spot check) Fauna noticed a line of similarly attired individuals save that they had full hoods over their faces with only the perforations of eyeholes to be seen in lieu of faces.

Fauna (pointing at the other figures): “Who’re they?”

With that Anishi stumbled back quickly to the others and it appeared to Fauna that a brief but excited conversation ensued. He stumbled back and asked Fauna a series of strange questions. She answered each in turn. He smiled and cordially invited to join their druids’ group. She would come again to the Grove, to the amphitheater, on the next full of the White Moon.

Fauna: “Um. What if I don’t. Agree.”

Anishi: “Oh then we’ll have to kill you. Track you down no matter where you are in the city or beyond its walls. And kill you.”

She agreed to their terms and the mysterious group shuffled on towards the old amphitheater.

Of course, she followed, stealthily enough to remain inconspicuous, all the way to the old amphitheater and down the parodos into the orchestra. She saw the lead figure walk to the lichen-spotted stone altar at the center of the orchestra ground. The figure chanted some arcane words and gestured over the elderly stone. Miraculously the altar moved to one side revealing a secret stair down into the earth under the old amphitheater. It was down this that all of the members of this strange group, Anishi included, disappeared.

Fauna had briefly contemplated chasing after them but the altar-stone immediately slid back into place as soon as the last blue-hooded head dipped below ground level. She spent a few minutes inspecting the stone and found some very faint inscriptions around it though weatherworn to near invisibility.

Several hours later at dawn, she found herself in the back of an old rickety wagon driven by the city’s worst crossing through the metropolitan bulwarks headed south. The wagon trundled through the titanic stone gatehouse that served as the city-gates onto the exceedingly long drawbridge that spanned the moat.

Land-side a network of stone-faced adobe and packed-earth bulwarks armed with state-of-art repeating torsion ballistae defend the city. In front of the stone-faced defense wall and at the foot of its crenelated palisades is a spiked trench that runs the length of the defenses. In front of that, is a packed earth berm and in front of that a deep and wide stone-lined dry moat open to the sea cliffs in the west and connected to the drain-works of the Tanners & Dyers Complex in the east to prevent flooding.

A sudden bump in the road shocked her back to the present in the sun beaten wagon and flying yellow road dust. The wagon had left the trade road behind and was now passing under the towering arch of one of the several aqueducts that fed the city. It was already mid-day and in view of this Excor was getting restless. The wagon continued west towards the river Wira. It wasn’t long before the wagon had turned completely around north to follow the river back towards the sea.

Cris (Excor’s Player): “C’mon! How far away is this Necropolis? They still use it right!? C’mon! It’s gotta be closer than this! It can’t be more than half a day from the @#$%*^& city! C’mon! People need to get back before dark after a funeral!”

The wagon began to slow to a stop and all could again smell the cool sea breeze flavoring the hot, dry overland air. Without warning, a massive shadow passed over them sending Excor into a panic. He had spotted the full-grown Brown-Fang dragon just before its shadow fell over the wagon.

The Elder Thug: “Oh. That. Don’t worry your pretty little heads. That’s just Gristle-Talon.”

Excor: “What! Who?”

The Elder Thug (champing down on his pipe): “Gristle-Talon, he guards the Slavers’ Quarter, the castle back in the city. He’s a mercenary. Paid really well from what I hear.”

The dragon’s mirror polished breast-plate blasted the on-lookers with reflected sunlight. As the flew the glare dimmed so that they could see the city emblem, an acorn and oak leaves, emblazoned on the chest as it passed swiftly over. The mages watched in awe as the dragon disappeared into the endless blue distance.

The thugs began unpacking some supplies. They were passing out wooden bowls, pouring a ration of ale, and a wad of bread-mash to each member of the expedition. Thus the thugs began to soften the mash into an oatmeal-like consistency with the ale and slurping it down. So, the three mages followed suit.

After taking a brief break for lunch the wagon continued a little farther finally reaching their destination sometime after mid-day. The mages and the thugs disembarked. The trio could see a massive tombstone crowded cemetery across the well-rutted wheel-ground dirt road.

The Elder Thug (pointing to the north-east of the massive cemetery): “Over there. The far side, err, second rung.”

Excor: “Where? Do ya know …”

The Elder Thug: “That’s all I was supposed to tell ya.”

The other three toughs were setting up a makeshift camp by the wagon. The elder thug turned and walked away towards them leaving the mages to their own devices.

Cris: “They better not leave us all the way the @*#$ out here.”

The young mages already knew what to look for in the Necropolis. The entrance to the tomb would be marked with a 10 ft. tall monolith on which was carved the gold inlaid countenance of a laughing demon with a crown floating above its horned visage.

To Be Continued…

New Setting – Arvan: Land of Dragons!

Dragons infest the land of Arvan a high-fantasy setting with the dark and brutal overtones of sword & sorcery. Set during the rise of an age of exploration and trade it’s a world fraught with the ruins of former ages inhabited by the folly of the Mad-Mages and dominated by Dragons!

The Land of Dragons

Player Races include Arboreans, Amazons, Fauns, Hill-Giants, Humans, and Ratlings!

This Dice & Glory world book includes a mass of general information on the planet and its peoples. Also a great many details about geography, flora, fauna, natural resources, places of interest, religions, cultural spheres, ethnic groups, and archetypal equipment for each of the 7 main regions of the sub-continent of Ar. There is supplemental and background information on the ancient nations of the eastern side of the continent, named Van. There is also introductory info on the world of Eu on which the continent of Arvan floats and a GM section dealing with time measurement and the multiple Moons of Eu among other GM-Only details!

250+ Pages!

Coming in 2016

Written By: Robert A. Neri Jr.

Cover Art By: Jamie Noble

http://thenobleartist.com

www.facebook.com/jamienobleartist

Dragons

They are both majestic and terrifyingly powerful beasts that dominate both the air and the land with their fearsome talons and vicious teeth. They wield the power of fire or poison and scales like shields. These great lizards have been used as symbols for heavenly or hellish might as well as to adorn the shields and banners of knights and kings. In fable and the popular mind they exhibit the penchant for kidnapping (and a peculiar appetite for) young maidens and stand as the ultimate examples of overwhelming greed when portrayed sleeping on hill-tall piles of treasure, their hoards of gold. Dragons are a staple, and occasionally the focus of, tabletop roleplaying games and, as several other ‘classic’ RP monsters they have been drawn not only from popular fiction but up from the deepest mists of time and mythology. “Described and feared by human cultures worldwide from the earliest times, the dragon exists in a vast range of forms and abodes in myth and legend.” [McGovern, Una, ed. 2007. Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained. Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd. Dragons]

Classically dragons are split into two primary classifications especially when it comes to mythological comparisons though the primary features of the RPG dragon are found mostly with one, the dragon of European lore but the contemporary idea of which seems to move ever closer to the mannerisms of the other, the Eastern Dragon, in both role-playing games and fiction. There is a stark contrast between to these two classic types so much so that they appear to be near mirror opposites. These two classifications are defined as The Eastern Dragon and the Western Dragon.

Western dragons are the classic evil monster and have an appearance familiar to anyone who has had even a glancing association with popular fantasy fiction and/or role-playing games. They have bat-like wings, four limbs that end in nasty claws, crocodilian jaws studded with ripping teeth, a tail like a bullwhip, horns on the head (perhaps owed to their Christian religious symbology), and occasionally a barb at the end of the tail. “The classical Western dragon is a malevolent fire-breathing monster encased in an armour of shimmering scales, borne upon four powerful limbs with talon-equipped feet, and sporting a pair of huge leathery wings, plus a long tail tipped with a poisonous barb or arrow-headed sting.” [McGovern. Dragon] The European tail-barb however seems to be a recent, comparatively speaking, addition acquired by some dragons from the heraldic likeness, more reserved these days for dragon-like monsters such as Wyverns. “In nearly all modern representations the tail, like the tongue, will be found ending in a barb, but it should be observed that this is a comparatively recent addition. All dragons of the Tudor period were invariably represented without any such additions to their tails.” [Fox-Davies. 1978. A Complete Guide to Heraldry. Bonanza Books, New York. 225]

One of the most ancient stories involving dragons and the one that best demonstrates the shear ‘epicness’ of the creatures is the Mesopotamian creation myth wherein Marduk, the chief god of Babylon, hunts down and slays the she-dragon Tiamat. “Marduk searched the universe for Tiamat, his dragon mother. […] He spread his net across the void and caught her in it [.] Then, taking aim with his bow, Marduk shot an arrow between Tiamat’s open jaws, straight down into her heart. Then he disposed of Tiamat’s […] monstrous carcass. He split her skull and severed her arteries; he cleft her body “like a fish into its two parts,” from one of which he fashioned the firmament and from the other the solid earth.” [Constable, George, ed. 1984. The Enchanted World: Dragons. Time-Life Books. Alexandria, Virginia. 14, 18] From the very beginning dragons and the power contained in their awesome forms shaped, and in this case formed, the natural world. “Having positioned the celestial bodies, Marduk used Tiamat’s spit for clouds, placed a mountain on her head, and made an outlet from her eyes for the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris.” [van der Toorn, Karel. 1999. Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible, Second Edition. Brill Academic Publishers, The Netherlands. Tiamat] The dragon goddess stood as an embodiment of a single massive natural force, all the salt-water of the earth. “Tiamat is the personified primeval ocean [.]” [van der Toorn. Tiamat] In the Old Testament a term translated as “the deep” and that is etymologically related to Tiamat is frequently used not only as a designation of the primeval sea but also to denote the cosmic sea (Yam) on which the world floats, “and from which all water comes, as well as any large body of water, including rivers, and the depth of the sea and the earth.” [van der Toorn. Tiamat]

In Medieval Europe and England the dragon was a symbol of Satan and thus inherently evil and wielded a significant amount of supernatural power requiring a righteous (and blessed) hero to eliminate the beast. “In western myth battles with dragons symbolize the struggle between good and evil or the mastering of man’s base nature and reflect early Christian beliefs. Rescuing a maiden from a dragon represents the release of pure forces after vanquishing evil. Treasure-guarding dragons often signify the struggle to attain coveted inner knowledge.” [Wilkinson, Kathryn, ed. 2008. Signs & Symbols: An Illustrated Guide to their Origins and Meanings. DK Publishing. Dragons] Perhaps the best known examples of the medieval Western dragon popular today are the story of St. George and the dragon and that of Sigurd the dragon-slayer and Fafnir (the dwarf/dragon) in the Icelandic Volsunga Saga popularized by Richard Wagner in his 1876 Der Ring des Nibelungen (Wagner’s Ring Cycle). The dragon may have been acquired as a symbol of the devil by medieval Europeans due to the portrayal of the creatures in the bible; namely in the New Testament in Revelations, the Apocrypha, and in the Greek texts of the Pseudepigrapha. “The dragon has often a fiery appearance, behaves in an aggressive, insolent and lecherous way and often represents the powers of chaos, especially in primordial times. The dragon is sometimes connected with natural phenomena like storm, flood or drought.” [van der Toorn. Dragon] They are also, sometimes still, associated with serpents which are in turn related in symbolic terms if not also in appearance to the serpent in the Garden of Eden which tempted Eve with the apple. “A dragon is a fabulous winged crocodile, usually represented as of large size, with a serpent’s tail, so that dragon and SERPENT are sometimes interchangeable.” [Rockwood, Camilla, ed. 2009. Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase & Fable, 18th Edition. Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd. Dragon] This of course, continuing in the biblical vein, leads us to dragons as the ultimate symbol of evil as the serpent of the garden is taken popularly to be Satan in one of his favorite guises. “In most Mediterranean and European MYTHOLOGIES, SERPENTS are associated with evil, and dragons, a sort of super-serpent, are more evil still.” [Clute, John & Grant, John. 1997. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. St Martin’s Press, New York. Dragons] The concept of the dragon was originally inseparable from that of serpents and was in fact synonymous for ages.

This association and synonymy with serpents began with the etymology of the word ‘dragon’ itself. “The Greek word drakēn is related to drakos, ‘eye’, and in classical legend the idea of watching is retained in the story of the dragon who guards the golden apples in the Garden of the HESPERIDES, and in the story of CADMUS.” [Rockwood. Dragon] Later the romans appropriated the Greek word giving it a more recognizable form. “In Latin, the Greek word was converted to draco, and it came to mean “giant snake.” To the Romans the dragon was a giant snake, probably a python from India or Africa.” [Cohen, Daniel. 1982. The Encyclopedia of Monsters. Dorset Press, New York. 228] This serpent-dragon concept continued well into the middle ages especially in England. “Most British dragons… are of the worm variety – lacking wings and legs, with lengthy, elongate bodies, and emitting poisonous vapours rather than fire.”  [McGovern, Una, ed. 2007. Chambers Dictionary of the Unexplained. Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd. Dragon] In time the image of the dragon with its association with elemental and physical might was integrated into the heraldic arms of certain individuals and families. “Among the ancient Britons and the Welsh the dragon was the national symbol on the war standard. Hence the term PENDRAGON for the dux bellorum, or leader in war.”  [Rockwood. Dragon] It seems not until they were adopted as heraldic monsters gracing the banners of noble families and warlords did they begin to take on their more recognizable form. “The head of a dragon is like nothing else in heraldry, and from what source it originated or what basis existed for ancient heraldic artists to imagine it from must remain a mystery, … It is like nothing else in heaven or on earth. [T]he wings of the dragon are always represented as the wings of a bat[.]” [Fox-Davies. 1978. A Complete Guide to Heraldry. Bonanza Books, New York. 224]

By the end of the middle ages the Western Dragon had attained its classic appearance, monstrous attitude, and symbolic meaning. It was a powerful beast with breath of fire and an evil disposition which only champions of good could quell. Eastern dragons however were primordial beasts which were often beneficial to humankind. “Oriental dragons are very different from the dragons of the West. Oriental mythology includes many kinds of dragons, and collectively they influence and control every aspect of nature and the affairs of mankind. In stark contrast to their Western counterparts, Oriental dragons are exceedingly wise, are capable of flying without the aid of wings and (aside from spasmodic outbursts of anger) they appear relatively benevolent in their interactions with humanity. They are also revered – to the extent that many of the East’s most ancient and august human lineages claim direct descent from a dragon.” [McGovern. Dragon]

The Eastern Dragon appears as a scaled serpentine creature with the branching horns of a stag and eagle-talons on their four feet. They often have ‘feelers’ on either side of their toothy maw identical to those of a catfish, are portrayed as aquatic, and/or soaring playfully through the clouds with the ability to fly through the air without the aid of wings. “In China dragons were Associated with the weather and were thought to be rain-bringers; some of the country’s worst floods were attributed to humans upsetting a dragon. Chinese dragons were believed to control water, vital for crops. In contrast, western dragons control fire.” [Wilkinson. 36] In the East, dragons were powerful elemental beings to be revered and feared when offended. They wielded a significant amount of mystical ability and not just the ability to swim through the air as they did through water but the ability to exert a divine level of control over the weather and over the water in which they lived. “Dragons were held to exercise control over rainfall, and are often depicted playing with a ball or pearl (symbol of thunder) among the rainclouds.” [Whittaker, Clio. 2007. An Introduction to Oriental Mythology. Quantum Publishing Ltd., London. 38] Basically, Eastern Dragons brought immense elemental power with them being not just a powerful supernatural force in the world; they were of the world, a part of the very natural world that their existence would seem to defy. They combined certain mystical aspects of nature. “[T]he dragon began as a benign symbol representing the fertilizing waters of the serpent and the divine “breath of life” of the bird; the latter also associated with it sky deities and rulers. Later the dragon became symbolically ambivalent, and was seen as both creative and destructive.” [Wilkinson. Dragons] They also gained the power of symbolism absorbing and incorporating certain human aspects. “They are symbols of great power, spiritual and temporal, and are associated with wisdom, strength, and the creative forces of nature. They are revered and temples are dedicated to them.” [Wilkinson. Dragons] Seemingly as the Western Dragon carried the sheer physical menace and viciousness now associated with the RPG Dragon, the Eastern Dragon seems to have brought the mystical and elemental abilities as well as the superior spiritual attributes found to a lesser extent in humanity. Of course, the current trends in both pop-literature and roleplaying games have begun forging the two together along with heaps of personality. “The dragons of Chinese mythology, by contrast [to those of the Western sort], are usually benevolent. This tradition has facilitated REVISIONIST FANTASY about dragons of the Western sort.” [Clute & Grant. Dragons]

The RPG dragon draws from both mythological types as well as from popular fiction all hung on the skeleton of the war-gaming dragon. Dragons as did wizards, started as simple field pieces of surprising power on the fields of fantasy battles waged in the early heyday of miniature war-gaming. These dragons pretty much took solely from the Western type dragon requiring only the physical might and fire breath (not to mention the advantage of flight) on the field. They evolved as did the first major role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons, from the war game but were also injected with some new DNA found in certain works of fantasy fiction. These works are listed in Appendix N from the 1977 edition of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Masters Guide by Gary Gygax where he cites them as primary inspirations for the game. Of primary interest are the Elric books by Michael Moorcock and of course, the Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. Both of these series of books having much to do with the current form of RPG Dragons. When it comes to Moorcock’s tales of Elric, the morose albino black-rune-sword wielding dragon-riding prince, it is within the Dreaming City (not specifically cited in Appendix N but it was published originally in 1961, well within time to inspire Gary Gygax) that the form of the current era RPG dragon takes shape. “They were dragons, without doubt! The great reptiles were some miles away, but Elric knew the stamp of the huge flying beasts. The average wing-span of these near-extinct monsters was some thirty feet across. Their snake-like bodies, beginning in a narrow snouted head and terminating in a dreadful whip of a tail were forty feet long and although they did not breathe the legendary fire and smoke, Elric knew that their venom was combustible and could set fire to wood or Fabric on contact.” [Moorcock, Michael. The Elric Saga, Part I. Nelson Doubleday Inc. Garden City, New York. 305] To that framework built of the war-game field piece and fleshed out with the physical-ness of Elric’s dragons the next influence to add to the RPG Dragon, an element which would train the sights of greedy adventurers forevermore in their direction, is the work of Tolkien.

 

In particular the Hobbit, the work of his cited in Appendix N and so a direct relation, and the dragon Smaug which is present within. Smaug, a flying fire-breathing beast, seizes the dwarven kingdom of Erebor under the Lonely Mountain for himself and covets the unbelievable mass of treasure within as his hoard atop which he slumbers. “There he lay, a vast red-golden dragon, fast asleep; a thrumming came from his jaws and nostrils, and wisps of smoke, but his fires were low in slumber. Beneath him, under all his limbs and his huge coiled tail, and about him on all sides stretching away across unseen floors, lay countless piles of precious things, gold wrought and unwrought, gems and jewels, and silver red-stained in the ruddy light.” [Tolkien, J.R.R. 1997. The Hobbit. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston. 184] Of course, Tolkien modeled Smaug after the traditional European mythic dragon in particular Fafnir; Smaug is greedy, covetous, and pure malignant evil, a perfect example of the classic Western Dragon. Tolkien’s Inklings compatriot C.S. Lewis attributed the same quality to his version of the monster equating it more however as a symbol of greed, one of the seven deadly sins. “Dragons are emblems of covetousness – when, in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952) C.S. Lewis’s Eustace is turned into one, it is by thinking covetous thoughts about the horde he has come across. Wagner’s Fafner has similarly opted to change into a dragon in order to better guard the CURSE-ridden hoard for which he has already sacrificed his brother. Though dragons like Tolkien’s Smaug are typologically related to the Satanic dragon of Christianity, their hoard derives from the Norse version of dragonishness. This is at once one of their defining characteristics and their Achilles’ Heel; it is because he has suffered a theft from his hoard that Smaug emerges, and is thus killed.” [Clute & Grant. Dragons] This hoarding trait is definitely present in RP Dragons if not one of their primary distinguishing traits.

Other works attached details to the RPG Dragon and explained details and behaviors of dragons in order to increase believability and foster reader immersion. These works used, and some continue to use, techniques known as Rationalized Fantasy, that is “stock fantasy elements are given a rationale that provides them with internal consistency and coherence.” [Clute & Grant. Rationalized Fantasy.] These works add in taxonomies, species, detailed or not so detailed explanations of draconic physiology and anatomy as well behavior even psychology. These works includes the likes of the Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey, The Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickinson, the Dragon Jousters series by Mercedes Lackey, and the more recent Temeraire series of books authored by Naomi Novik.

These types of fantasy novels add in multiple details fitting dragons into the natural world making them powerful, majestic, but still fearsome beasts that may be preternatural but very much animals with a niche all their own – they like the rest of the animal kingdom including the whole of humankind are biological entities with a definite anatomy. Peter Dickinson’s work, The Flight of Dragons, is a testament to the rationalization of fantastic beasts laying out a blue-print for how the various aspects of the mythical creature could fit into the mundane world. “[M]y theory is that the particular specialisation of dragons was that they evolved a unique mode of flight. They grew to their enourmous size because size was necessary if they were to fly successfully. They breathed fire because they had to. Their “blood” had seemingly magical properties because a particular chemical reaction was necessary for their mode of flight. And so on. At the remoter fringes of the theory I think I can show how the life-form that evolved through this specialisation came to prefer for its diet young ladies of noble breeding.” [Dickinson, Peter. 1979. The Flight of Dragons. Perrot Publishing Limited. 16]

However, the foremost of these works would be Anne McCaffrey’s the Dragonriders of Pern where the dragons were differentiated from each other by the colors of their scales to which size was also attached (Gold, Bronze, Brown, Blue, Green, with gold being the largest and green the smallest); a sort of color-coding as it were. The Pern series of books are more sci-fi than fantasy and the Pernese dragons are described as genetically modified versions of Pern’s native fire-lizards only resembling the mythical dragon in that they resemble fire-breathing winged dinosaurs, in fact dubbed “dragons” due to that resemblance by the planetary colonists that bred them. When it comes to mating the Pern series of novels are very descriptive mostly from an emotional angle. The Pernese dragons share a telepathic link with their riders and influence the sexuality of their riders and others around them particularly evident during the described mating ritual. The sexuality of the Pernese dragons does have a definite relationship with the sexuality of their riders and to whom they will “impress” due to their intense tele-empathic bond, later clarified by the author herself [McCaffrey, Anne. 2000. Pern’s Renewable Airforce]. This talk of dragon-sex brings us to a strange behavior attributed to dragons in the popular imagination and myth, the awkward habit of kidnapping maidens.

“Dragons’ legendary habit of devouring maidens is something many fantasists have tried to rationalize. Because dragons are seen as solitary, they have to have some sort of sexuality, and eating virgins fits the bill.” [Clute & Grant. Dragons] This component of the draconic personality is often ignored or simply left out by most contemporary fiction and role-playing games. It was added by medieval literature.  “In medieval romance captive ladies were often guarded by dragons.” [Rockwood. Dragon] An element of this strange trans-species draconic sexuality can be found in the Eastern Dragon as well. “Dragons represent the male yang element.” [Whittaker. 38] The philosophy behind Ying and Yang is that apparently contrary, not necessarily opposing, forces have an element of each other within themselves because they are interconnected. Ying and yang are an indivisible whole with Yin being the passive and/or feminine element and Yang, the dominant/male element.

In most of the fiction mentioned previously, dragons are used as either massively powerful weapons or, especially in Smaug’s case, the primary threat of the story which must be overcome. In all of these cases dragons are just essentially plot devices for the most part, the dragons in Temeraire are much more integrated as characters, however as Fiction Narrative and RPG Narratives are completely different dragons are primarily used in RPG’s as campaign-enders or set-pieces as the great threat marking a sort of chapter or book-end in a tabletop campaign. They are ideal foils for Player Characters, great lumbering powerful beasts with fiery breath and a penchant for constructing or at least occupying complex often maze-like lairs which probably evolved in game-play starting as simple cave-lairs and quickly becoming something more complex as gameplay demanded. The penetration into the depths of a dragon’s lair can be a campaign in and of itself. “As often as not, whether intelligent or bestial, dragons are the hunter, not the hunted. Standing as they do as a gate between life and death and as flesh-and-blood beings that are nonetheless magical in their essence, they are LIMINAL BEINGS often connected with the getting of wisdom rather than merely enemies to be confronted. A conversation with a dragon is always a kind of duel, a struggle to refuse hypnotism or mastery.” [Clute & Grant. Dragons] RPG Dragons typically are not just a random encounter.

The dragon has evolved from a term essentially describing only a sharp-eyed serpent to a majestic beast representing primordial supernatural power. This traditional malleability of the dragon continues especially in the fantasy today not just as a symbol but as a literalized creature with certain authors building their own details not just to increase reader interest but also believability onto the mythical framework, the most influential in the realm of roleplaying being Michael Moorcock, Ann McCaffrey, and, of course, Tolkien. The mythical dragon is the root of certain RPG tropes when it comes to dragons: dragon-slayers (Marduk), half-dragons (the Chinese dragon). The malleability of myth and the additions of fantasy authors have inspired the dragon-rider and the draconic character in roleplaying as well. The idea of dragons not only in RPG’s but in mythology itself seems to change to suit the role the creatures are set to play but have always represented an epic and earth-shattering experience wielding massive amounts of primordial magical power. “Mythology reveals the dragon as both creator and destroyer and involves epic themes such as cosmic chaos, creation, and rebirth.” [Wilkinson. Dragons] Dragons have evolved from the idea of gigantic serpents into a vast array of fantastical animals with their own biology and anatomies as varied and numerous as water on the face of the earth. “There is a particular affinity between dragons and water in all its natural forms: seas, rivers, lakes, rain.” [Whittaker. 38]

The first RPG dragons were derived from fiction which borrowed from myth and took their form from war-games. Dragons in RPG’s have a deep and long lineage and thus can be very useful to the creative and clever Game-Master. Dragons can be built and designed by the GM using the transformative fictive elements found in popular fantasy fiction, and many already have been. The GM should think of specific links to their setting such as special adaptations that would bind the native dragons inextricably to that setting. Creating believable dragons helps to not only surprise the players but grounds them within the campaign world providing a deeper level of immersion; the same result desired by the fiction authors via the same method. Coloration, scale patterns, the presence of hair, and any number of odd physical features or bizarre powers are all options. Dragons continue to evolve in the human mind shaped by the immense creative forces contained therein and so will continue to evolve and change with not only literature but also with fantasy roleplaying games in general.

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 30: The Slayers Have Arrived

It took just about two days to backtrack and find the old rowboat that they

Guild Mark of the Black Wings Hirok-Nor Chapter

Guild Mark of the Black Wings Hirok-Nor Chapter

had abandoned upon surmounting the White Heath. Vorwulf used his jeweled gold closed helm and enchanted the craft with the Mysterial Chariot spell. In an hour and a half they were at the gates of the Hill-lander town of Aáhké. The gate guards’ shields were all now painted with the arms of the town: a gold chalice before a split field of white and red with a golden mace and sword crossing behind the chalice. As the slayers plus Xanto the Wasp approached the captain of the guard asked Vorwulf, “Wha’ happened ta’ ya’a fellas?” Vorwulf proceeded to go into full-on brag mode. Before the triumphant ranger/dragon-slayer could finish his self-aggrandizing speech the captain waved them through and as soon as they were through the gates the group split up almost immediately. Though they had been victorious and were reveling in the afterglow they appeared haggard, covered in road dirt, covered in scabs, and were still exhausted.

Vor was already sitting down to a table at the Red Ram Tavern with a full tankard of ale and a bottle of whiskey before he realized that he had forgotten to officially arrest the Wasp and detain him as was his duty. He just shrugged and began to put one on. Meanwhile Grom the shaman had kept his head about him and followed the Wasp as soon as the group split going in all different directions. He lost sight of him for a second and the Wasp was gone. He had lost him. Magiia the dragon-blood-warrior was already headed to her room at the inn intent on spending her time refining more dragon-blood potions. Grom joined Vor and later they both spent the night in Maggi’s room.

Come morning before even Vor could wake, the shaman had already tracked down the Wasp and about an hour after sunrise had guided the group to a make-shift tavern consisting of a canvas tent and a covered wagon next to the Aáhdrahké distillery in the West Quarter along King’s Walk. When the slayers arrived they saw Aáhdrahké clansmen everywhere and what appeared to be a caravan queuing next to a small courtyard. From a carriage bearing the mark of the Aáhdrahké, a blue bull with white horns before a solid green field, painted on it stepped the Xanto. He was in native finery with a cape of black silk with the embroidered clan mark on display, a pair of soft felt shoes with jeweled buckles, and a fine silver capped walking stick.

Vorwulf (played by Cris): “You! Wasp! Get over here! You’re under arrest by the authority of the Blackwings Dragonslayers Guild of Hirok-Nor!”

Xanto immediately jaunted over to the slayers filled with nervous energy: “Friends! Friends! What a surprise! Hehe. Um, can’t we work something out make a deal. C’mon we’re friends right? C’mon! I saved your @$$es up there in case you were not aware! Guys?”

Grom and Maggi kept a stoney gaze with hard expressions directed at jittery and smiling Wasp-mage.

Vorwulf (gesturing to the clansmen): “This man here, Xanto the Wasp has a PRICE on his head! The Blackwings guild will pay any man here who manages to bring him in.”

This started Xanto to start raising himself up and down on his ankles trying to shush the irritated alderman. “Wait! Wait. Hold on friend for just a second.” The skinny mage turned and spotting what appeared to be a noble or at least someone of importance wearing a similar outfit but with a tartan across his chest who was exiting the main building. He ran up to this man, a full-blood faun, and it appeared for the next minute or so that they were arguing but soon enough the noble gestured his men and they brought forth an iron chest from the strong-carriage in the caravan line.

Magiia (played by Jenn): “Oh no. What’s this guy up to NOW?”

Grom (played by Gil): “Don’t worry guys I got ‘em. Maybe I can turn ‘em all into chickens.”

The strongbox was opened and the noble paid out the 10,000 gp bounty on the Wasp’s head in gold talons to the slayers which they happily accepted.

Gil: “Hey. Why are they protecting this guy?”

Cris: “It’s whatever he took from the mushroom; you KNOW he took a piece of it or something.”

Vorwulf (looking the Wasp right in the eye): “If you ever step foot in Merdna or we catch you anywhere near Hirok we’re gonna arrest you and ship you to Chago!”

The Wasp (with s#*t-eating grin): “Don’t worry it’ll all get squared away! Are we not on good terms again? Besides I’m headed south. Maybe we’ll share a drink together!”

He took his leave at about the same time the slayers took theirs them being eager to get back home.

They soon picked up some supplies (mostly bottles of whiskey) and headed south back to Hirok-Nor and their adopted hometown of Merdna. While coasting down Barbarian’s Tread the surpassed the Aáhdrahké caravan noticing it too was going south.

Grom: “Man! Is he gonna make us arrest him?”

Jenn: “Heh. You really like him don’t you?”

Gil just grinned and shrugged.

After a couple of days and a battle with some Night-Trolls and a Formorian they arrived back in Merdna. The workman were assembled and digging ditches for the foundations of their guild house and dismantling the West Gate and setting a temporary palisade around the construction site. They arrived at the Hopping Rat and could see that Bers’ memorial statue had been finished and was standing in their courtyard. As soon as they entered Og and Trasknor (Grom’s & Vorwulf’s protégés respectively) whom were tending the place got them up to date on happenings round town leaving Ebor the bartender to man the board. Kyrahma had been spotted by them both transformed back into an amazon on the night of the green moon smashing the place up before she ran away, they haven’t seen her since. The framing for the guild house will be up by next summer; the foundation excavations are proceeding. Street crime even with the tat-eyes on the street is getting bad as more and more of former Black Soldiery are filtering in the cheap black paint cleaned off for the most part. Vezik the druid had sent a leather wrapped parcel for them in the back that had arrived a few days before. So the slayers went into the back past the tat-eye ratlings, no doubt agents of their criminal “guild” keeping an eye on the place, to see what it was. The slayers took the rest of the day off and on the following day spent it wrapping up business.

They had gotten the deed for Raven’s Eyrie in Grom’s name instead of the guilds from Lord Vorahd and Vorwulf sent off a magical pigeon to the Chago Blackwings. Vorwulf also used the 150 star-metal ingots from the group treasury to commission some breast plates, and axe & spear heads for the gate guards. As a celebration that evening Vorwulf opened the carved stone bottle he had purchased from Ole’ Twist back in Aáhké (see the Dragonslayers III Pt.20) in the rear storeroom of the Rat. They proceeded to ‘battle’ the whiskey elemental that exploded from it. Grom attempted to tackle the thing but belly-flopped onto the table and had his head engulfed in whiskey, he soon passed out due to extreme inebriation. All the while Vor and Maggi were scooping bits of the unfortunate creature up in their gold chalice and fine drinking horn. It was Maggi that drank the last gulp as Vorwulf passed out cold after his fourth or fifth chalice-full. The ferenoi stumbled out into the tap-room and “hung out there” until dawn.

Next afternoon, about the time all three had finally sobered up, they were given a letter from Xanto which he had left with Ebor. The Aáhdrahké caravan had passed through town the previous night and the Wasp had dropped in for a drink. The message ran as thus:

 

Too bad we couldn’t have a last drink together but I’ve gone South to a place called Skullhead to see some friends, brothers by the name of Dracorian. I’m sure you’re unfamiliar. Anyway.

Ciao!

P.S. – The wand I used to transfer that one book to the other is behind the seal.

 

They sat around thinking about it for a while until near the end of the day when it struck Magiia. She checked the area for the seal that had been stamped on some of the oldest bottles in the cellar and found a stone above the hearth bearing it. She reached up to the gryphon seal above the hearth and found it opened having a hollow behind it. Within the hollow they found a golden rod and a scroll describing its use. They could finally transfer the Tome of Dragonslaying from the troll-tome back to its rightful binding.

 

****

 

Grom the Shaman took up residence in Raven’s Eyrie where he began his research into things arcane. Magiia spent the rest of her life on constant dragon-hunts alternating between that and bouts of heavy drinking in the Hopping Rat. Vorwulf was eventually officially named guild-master of the Hirok-Nor chapter of the Blackwings Dragonslayers’ Guild, and spent the rest of his life funding repeated expeditions into eastern Cleft-Rills in search of the ultra-rare Brown-Spine Dragon he’s sure was there but to no avail so it may still be there somewhere. The Tat-Eye Ratlings kept up their end of the contract with the Blackwings and rose to a level of power equal to that formerly enjoyed by the Crossed-Staffs had been dominating the region and frequenting the Hopping Rat which has a massive mural along one side of the outside walls portraying Magiia slaying the red dragonlord with the other two standing behind her, commissioned by Maggi of course, and the statues memorializing Dead-Eye and Bers stand in the courtyard of the Hopping Rat marking their graves the urns containing their ashes being buried at the statues’ feet. After the erection of the guild house, the Blackwings became the biggest name in dragon-slaying in the pan Norusk/Hirok-Nor/Cleft-Rills region.

The End of the Third Dragon-Slayers Campaign (played between February and September 2015).

Finis.

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 29: Dueling the Dragon Lord

The Courtyard - 'X' marks the mushroom!

The Courtyard – ‘X’ marks the mushroom!

The great red dragon was at least 50 ft. in length not counting its powerful tail and extra-long neck. Its head was crowned with several spear-long ivory horns which ran along the spine in a ridge of spikes on its back to the end of and studding the tail. Its dark red scales resembled dark red shields battle-worn each but all still true. Three skulls of adult dragons, species unknown, hung clunking about its neck on a necklace alongside a shield-sized golden medallion covered in dragon-scratch. On a single claw was a carved jade ring like the one taken from the steel-helmed juggernaut which Vorwulf wore as an arm torque.

Vorwulf shot a dragon-bone arrow from his longbow which shattered harmlessly on the magic shield that appeared around the monster, its gold medallion glowing brightly. He activated an item gaining a magic shield of his own. Grom as soon as he caught sight of the legendary beast, the one which had wiped out his tribe leaving only him and his protégé, froze in his tracks a victim of his own panic. The dragon’s throat inflated with a hideous sucking sound, its jaws gaped and a white hot blast of fire shot out as it swept the entire area its back to the burgeoning millennium mushroom. Vorwulf took shelter behind the large stones under the ruined archway avoiding all the damage, Grom the shaman and Magiia however took the blast surprised that half of the damage bypassed their protection from fire dealing quite a bit of damage. Mags stopped her charge and drank down a healing potion. The first drake swooped over the rocks near the entrance to the courtyard and snapped at Vorwulf whom parried easily with his superior quality bronze buckler. The third and fourth of the three fire drakes swooped down at Maggi with their claws and caught her off guard as she ran towards the “big one” intent on “tasting his blood”. The flames of battle rose to a rage very quickly, three of the Drakes lashed out at Vorwulf as he tried to keep rounding the edges of the battle field using his bow more on them than on his main target as intended and the other Drake continued to pester Maggi. Grom fought top overcome his fear but eventually had to resort to casting Dispel Fear on himself. The dragon cast Hold Person on Maggi stopping her before she could get a blow in; she fortunately was still able to activate the Shield ability on her Bronze Helm. The dragon then turned and gupled the Ferenoi down following a massively powerful bite. Grom rushed forward eager to join the fray.

Maggi’s shield beginning to waver in the volcanic acid-bath of the dragon-lord’s stomach, Maggi was able to shake off the dragon-magic with a Natural 20 (the ONLY way she could’ve done so). Two of the Fire Drakes continued their assault against Vorwulf who was able to deflect their claws with his buckler. He quick-drew his swords and struck back concentrating his blades on the first of the two dealing some damage to the beast. Grom ran forward towards the dragon-lord and drew his morning star of Supernatural Might. The dragon glanced back keeping an evil green eye on the mushroom. Then as Maggi used all her might to slash with axe into the walls of the monster’s stomach it vomited her up. The Drake that remained near the dragon lunged at the shaman. The other drakes continued after the ranger, he continued to hack and slash at them. Maggi stood up and struck at the dragon-lord causing the second charge of his shield to be knocked down. The dragon stomped on her a great blast of dust mixed with the swirling coal smoke. Mags was able to work her way form under the dragon’s gigantic claw the way greased by the dragon-vomit which she was covered in as well as her own blood which flowed freely from her mouth and nose. The two Drakes fighting Vorwulf finally dropped their black blood spreading over the white ground where they fell. Maggi pulled herself up desperately trying to stay conscious (she made a Recovery check versus the stomp).

Jenn (Magiia’s player): “I’m on K-O points here!”

Grom dropped from the sky to her side with the third Fire Drake on his tail.

Vorwulf knocked an arrow and shot at the dragon-lord finally dispelling the monster’s magic shield for the final time that day. Grom tried his morning-star against the dragon’s hide; he found he was quite ineffective barely scratching a single scale (he did three points of actual damage to it). Maggi activated her shield and let loose a power-attack at the dragon who easily batted the whistling blow to the side. The last drake snapped at the shaman wounding him. The dragon struck at Maggi dispelling her shield with a single blow. Grom again tried his weapon against the dragon-lord (this time dealing about six points of actual damage). Maggi wound her body up and smashed her axe into the last drake felling it in a gory spray of blood and organs. Vorwulf was launching dragon-bone arrow after dragon-bone arrow at the red monster. He activated his boots of Fleet of Foot and the Eyes and Ears of the Dragon ability on his coif. Nearly all his shots at the dragon missed so he shot an acid-arrow at the monster which had little to no effect. In the ensuing struggle Maggi was forced into another recovery check to avoid losing consciousness and Grom used the Heal ability on his mithral open helm to being the Ferenoi back up to almost full health. She was able to counter a claw strike but dealt very little real damage with that blow. Then all of the slayers let loose a united frustrated groan as the red dragon-lord with a wave of its nasty claw summoned four more fire drakes. Its tail swept at both Maggi and Grom, the Dragon-Blood Warrior was able to get out of the way but the shaman took a great deal of bludgeoning damage and was forced into a recovery check to remain standing.

Jenn: “Well at least its shields are down.”

Vorwulf shot an arrow deep into the first newly summoned fire drake. Maggi hacked into the third, the nearest to her, hurting it. The dragon unleashed its horrific breath weapon for a second time sweeping the area forcing Grom to dodge into a nearby pit to avoid it and imminent death, Mags was barely able to absorb the damage she couldn’t avoid. Her life was now hanging by a thread though the bleeding was cauterized. Vorwulf had been just out of the area of effect. The drake on Maggi struck and she countered wounding it blood gushing. The first and second flew after Vorwulf; he was able to avoid their claws and teeth. The third leapt into the pit after the shaman. Grom in mid-fall was able against the odds, to quicken Bestial Might on himself magically morphing into his bizarre winged and furry form. He set himself down on the uneven ground below realizing he was in a high ceilinged vault which was choked with fallen stones and ruin. Up ahead he could see a strange glimmering light where the tunnel intersected with another; he briefly considered trying to seek out the Wasp whom they all believed to be down here somewhere. He ducked behind an amorphous pile of spider-webs, stones, and broken wood as he could hear the snarling of the incoming drake. Above ground the dragon snapped its jaws at Maggi who avoiding the blow lashed out and nailed it dealing it some decent damage. Vorwulf pulled out his great axe, he had run out of dragon-bone arrows, and engaged the drakes that were attacking him. Maggi dueled the dragon and drake while underground the shaman drank down a potion of Barkskin while trying to keep hidden as he could hear the drake trying to sniff him out. Before he stepped out he activated the Mage Armor ability on his necklace and made a run for it running past the beast and leaping into the air while it gave chase. No sooner had Maggi backed off and drank down a healing potion than she felt the claws of the drake raking her ribs (she rolled a Natural 1 versus the blow). The shaman burst out of the pit and swept over Maggi’s position. The drake on his tail was blur as it zoomed out of the pit and attempted a dive attack on him but floundered unexpectedly and smashed face first into the ground (it had rolled a Natural 1) at full speed killing itself.

Vorwulf closed with the dragon-lord, two drakes following him, Maggi struck at the drake still on her wounding it badly, and Grom also let loose a power-attack with his morning star on the same target dealing some damage. The dragon turned towards the mushroom which was now much taller and glowing with a strong and very pronounced eerie white light. The drakes continued their assault. Grom flew up 100 ft. above the dragon. The dragon swept its tail at Mags and she deflected the blow with her axe and countered it burying her axe in its hide. Vorwulf concentrated his attacks against the drakes using the magical speed granted by his boots to deliver a series of power-attacks felling two of the remaining three. The dragon unleashed a Swarm of Magic Missiles to little effect and then a claw at Maggi forcing her to recover. She was again in dire straits. Vorwulf, after dropping the two drakes, drank down yet another potion of healing.

Vorwulf then redoubled his efforts on the remaining drake dropping the already blood-ragged beast before it even had a chance to act. Maggi chopped into the dragon again. The dragon turned itself around to face the slayers and moved forward trampling Maggi then turned its face up unleashing a blast of its lethal breath at the flying shaman who was just able to get out of the way. Grom flew over near the tail end of the dragon struck at it; his weapon glanced harmlessly off of its armored hide. Vorwulf stepped back and exchanged his great axe for his cutlass and the Dragon Bane Longsword with the large rock-crystal pommel stone. The runes on the blade read, “Suck the Breath & Drink Deep the Dragon’s Blood”. Maggi power-attacked the dragon again wounding it and both Vor and the shaman focused their efforts towards cutting the monster to ribbons. It unleashed a Hold Person spell on Vor but he was able to resist, barely. They continued fighting it slowly making headway as its wounds began to multiply, Grom buzzed around striking and moving. The dragon-lord struck out at the flying shaman but missed only due to the constant Displacement spell emanating from the magic robes he wore. Using his magical speed Vorwulf continued to subject the great monster to a death by a thousand cuts.

All three of the slayers battled on for the next two rounds with their greatest enemy, all taking their share of wounds, their armor getting torn and dented. Maggi took the brunt of the dragon’s rage spending much of that time surviving by recovery-check and the shaman expending all of his healing touches per day. Grom found himself underfoot and was nearly crushed to death but fought his way out after struggling for two turns. At the beginning of the ninth round all including the dragon were badly wounded, bleeding, and filthy. All but the dragon were nearly out of breath nearing their threshold for exhaustion. Some of the dragon’s wounds closed and any bleeding stopped.

Cris (Vorwulf’s player): “S#*t! This is the last round and my boots are done. My armor’s nearly gone too.”

Jenn: “I’m out of potions! My girl’s bad, real bad right now!”

Gil (Grom’s player): “Yeah I’m hurt. My helmet’s out of Heal but I got some healing spells left.”

Cris: “Save ‘em. If we survive we’ll need ‘em.”

Grom swooped by the dragon doing a flyby attack dealing only a handful of actual damage. Vorwulf pulled a potion of Healing from his dragon-hide bandolier and downed it. Mags rushed forward again and let loose a powerful blow into the monster opening a deep and bloody gash. The dragon blasted its breath at Grom again and he dodged. Vorwulf moved over to Maggi and she surged forward again laying her axe into the dragon’s side. It reared and rushed forward trampling both Vor and Mags laying them out and leaving them bloodied and struggling to get to their feet in a cloud of choking dust. Grom did another flyby gliding down towards Maggi’s twitching figure. Realizing that it was nighttime Vorwulf activated the Cape of Bat Flight and shot straight up into the weird green night and drank down his last potion of Heal. Grom dumped his last potion of Heal down Maggi’s throat saving her life. The dragon lunged at Vorwulf striking out with its claws and tore into the airborne ranger wounding him badly. Its tail whacked Grom wounding him. Vorwulf, desperate, flew at full speed to the dragon and as he flew above its neck he canceled the cape’s effect and in midair went into a leap attack with both weapons.

Me (the GM): “Um, dude. you’re gonna wind up right next to him and he has an attack left.”

Cris: “S#*t. Damn. I uh…, Yup, he’s gonna kill. Ah..uh..Oh SCREW it, screw it.”

He threw himself towards its long and vulnerable neck with both weapons and as it turned it left itself open to his attack stretching its throat out for the Dragon Bane weapon in the ranger/dragon-slayer’s right hand (it rolled a Natural 1 to auto-parry). The first cutlass struck and laid open the hide to the muscle and the longsword sliced a bared artery, letting loose a virtual rain of steaming red-hot blood. He thumped to the ground on his feet and he, Grom, and the newly risen Magiia all had to dodge the dragon’s corpse as it convulsed in its death throes and fell with a crash. It was then that they saw that the mushroom which huge by then, it was starting to convulse madly jerking to and fro then suddenly it seemed to collapse in on its self, shrinking and shriveling into a nasty black mass then to nothing.

Cris: “Whatever the Wasp’s doing he’s doing it.” The others nodded in agreement.

There was a crack as of thunder and the energy of the leyline which the millennial thing had tied up and was sapping was suddenly freed exploded back into activity. All three of the slayers were injured by the explosion of magical energy. The strange green glow which had flooded the sky began to subside as the green moon began shrink away back into the darkness. The slayers looked about them and then to each other. They were all horribly wounded, completely battle-worn and utterly exhausted. Now all they had to do was travel back to town.

 

To Be Concluded…

The Dragonslayers III Pt. 28: Follow that Wasp!

The slayers had gathered together the booty they looted from the corpses of the Sons of the Dragon including the unfortunate Archer. After Vor shot a few arrows to dispel the shield around the enemy bowman Grom had flown in above the half-dragon and cut his throat. Before the coup-de-grace they had agonized for a while over that decision. Vorwulf checked the juggernaut’s corpse, Maggi was searching the charred remains of Nose Bone, and Grom stripped the gear from the dead archer and flew it down to his companions. Their take comprised of a black lacquered composite shortbow probably with the True Strike ability on it, a large jade bracelet from the juggernaut which Vor was determined to wear as an arm torque, a superior quality spear that was magic but what it did they didn’t know, 4 superior quality throwing glaives which were also magical, a mithral arrow with red fletching definitely magical, 2 potions of Heal, a gold ring with a large emerald, and a pearl ring. They knew the massive mace that the juggernaut had wielded had the Thunderblast ability on it since it dealt quite a bit of damage to Maggs but that they left. They also left the gold medallions bearing the mark of the dragon that each of their enemies had also worn. They didn’t care about the bits of armor and none seemed to be holding any money or jewels. They packed their near gear away and readied to get back on the move.

Grom cast Restoration II on Magiia, she had been hit by one of the Draconian’s envenomed glaives. The shaman also decided to take the time to cast Impervious to Elements (Fire) on both himself and Vorwulf as it had served Maggi well in the battle. They took a look around mainly trying to locate Xanto the Wasp if he was anywhere near. He jumped out from behind a crumbling archway enwrapped in very dry vines.

The Wasp: “Guys! Hey! Over HERE! Let’s go its opening! It’s opening!”

He gestured to the darkening evening sky they could see the green moon was filling the sky with strange, green light and they now noticed that everything had a sickly green pallor cast over it. The Wasp extracted a small crystal sphere with a gold bee trapped at its center. He mumbled a quick spell over the orb and it disappeared with a pop leaving behind the gold be which immediately began to buzz and flew swiftly ahead the Wasp burst after it with his own blurring buzzing wings.

“C’mon Fellas!”

The Blackwings jaunted after the mischievous mage. Vorwulf took the opportunity to down his brand new Heal potion restoring himself to near full health. They proceeded through the weed & vine choked twists and turns of the maze-like ruins at a brisk pace leaping over sudden piles of dirt and stone and jerked to dodge unexpected obstructions and large fallen lichen patched blocks. All the while they were moving towards the pillars of black smoke which were all the more visible and appeared as hideous black pillars against the weird shimmering green sky that crackled with the blue-white bolts of magic energy from the active leyline which ran through the dead-center of the ancient city. They noticed the red-orange glow which began to bow over the shattered battlements more and more, tell-tale dragon-sign or at least the obvious light of a very large fire or fires.

The Wasp rounded a corner through a narrow but very tall archway and suddenly dodged to the side buzzing crookedly through barely avoiding the blade of a fairly large bipennis axe. He had nearly been cut in two by the surprise blow (at least in his retelling of it). Before the slayers stood near identical creature to the juggernaut but more lithe and wearing a polished steel helmet with a red-dyed horsetail tassel at its crown with large deer antlers mounted on either temple. The only differences besides the scant difference in build form the first juggernaut this one also had a jade bracelet on his left wrist and was wielding a long superior quality double-ended heavy bipennis axe. He ignored the Wasp whose buzzing was barely audible and was out of sight and turned towards the 3 slayers and took a fighting stance.

Cris (Vorwulf’s Player): “Ahh! I wondered where this guy was. Let’s do this.”

Gil (Grom’s Player): “Oh yeah, the guy the hunter told me about.”

Magiia charged and power-attacked with her axe but her blow was batted to the side with an unnatural ease and she suffered the very effective counter-attack wounding her badly in the very first exchange of the fight. Vorwulf lunged in simultaneously drawing his paired weapons and struck, the big-guy kicked a blast of dirt into his face but to no effect and he landed his double blows dispelling the magic shield, the half-dragon’s medallion burst with a golden glow. Grom stayed back and used his Rod of Magic Missiles which again hit the medallion’s shield. The half-dragon took a step back and slung one-end of his double-ended weapon at Maggi’s ankle trying to trip her nearly succeeding but ultimately failing to throw her on her back. He struck out with the other end at Vorwulf hacking into his armor and dealing a fair blow to the ranger/dragon-slayer.

Maggi struck out again but was again easily parried. Vorwulf followed with his paired swords and hit wounding the 10 ft.-tall brute and Grom sent another blast of magic missiles dealing no damage. The dragon-son swung at Maggi again but this she successfully parried the end aimed at her and struck back with a counter-attack smashing he axe into him unleashing a gout of red-hot dragon blood. With a roar the monster lashed the other end of his weapon at Vorwulf hitting him again. Maggi struck again wounding her enemy mortally but he was still on his feet. Vor followed up a second later dropping the half-dragon in a shower of gore. They made a quick check for the Wasp but he was nowhere to be seen. What they couldn’t know was that he was heedlessly buzzing along urging on companions who had ceased to follow quite some time ago.

They quickly looted the half-dragon’s corpse with Vorwulf putting on the jade bracelet as an arm-torque. They followed the path they though the Wasp had taken and soon could see his yellow and black striped form buzzing under an archway into a large high-walled courtyard where the ominous columns of black smoke were visible floating above the disintegrating battlements. It was fully dark now save for the weird lights of the green moon and the crackling leyline. The Wasp motioned for them to follow and he buzzed through the arch into the courtyard.

Cris: “Damned Wasp!”

Vorwulf: “HEY! WAIT UP!”

Vorwulf with the other two in tow moved swiftly to follow the Wasp through the tall archway between two half-ruined square towers. The group found themselves in a large triangular courtyard blocked on one side by a high hill of rubble and bush where several ruined buildings were scattered about. There were a few large gaping holes where the ground had fallen in and up ahead the group could see another archway between a pair of capped towers a large but badly defaced statue of white stone stood in front of each representing, possibly, wizard-like figures. Through that arch lay a larger courtyard where the dragon obviously lay as the red glow was shedding a bloody light over the triangular courtyard and a steady rain of fine black soot was raining down. The path under the arch was choked with two very large pieces of pale stone blocks.

The Wasp suddenly turned sharply to the east and buzzed through a large breach in the larger courtyard’s wall. Vorwulf sighed probably tinged with exhaustion more than frustration. He decided to try stealthily creep through the archway into the large courtyard hoping in vain to gain any kind of advantage. He moved around the last block in the path and saw before him a mostly barren courtyard bounded by mostly ruined 20 ft. battlemented walls. There several massive piles of burning coals and wood burning hotly placed at three corners around the place and several large cave-in holes in the ground and between all these at the center lay the dragon with its face peering at a small pale object that had a blinding crackling aura about it. It was the mushroom which seemed to increase in size as he looked on. He shot his eyes ot the east trying to spot for the Wasp. He caught sight of a yellow and black blur through the smoke of a smoldering coal field shooting across a short span of the courtyard and down into a nearby hole.

Vorwulf [more mumbling than anything else]: “Damned Wasp.”

He looked back as the rest of the group caught up with him being only a step behind. Suddenly the bone-white stalk of the millennial mushroom shot up and grew to at least 10 ft. in height in a second and its aura burst with white energy and the crackling energy of the leyline suddenly collapsed in on itself falling into the mushroom and disappearing all the while all sound seemed to just stop and everything seemed to freeze dead still for just a moment. The sky was a uniform dull green dominated now solely by the light of the weird green moon with only the pinholes of stars with which to share the night sky. The gigantic red dragon turned its horn-crowned head, the 3 dragon skulls slung around its neck clunking with strange music, its evil green eyes meeting those of Vorwulf. This was an ancient dragon.

It was also a dragonlord and a hybrid, its blood a mix of a Great Horned and a Chromatic Red dragon. Just as he realized this he heard Maggi’s war-cry echo out from behind him the frantic beating of her feet against the ground as she charged followed. The dragon, which still looked uninterested in them as it believed them no threat, waved a claw casually. Three large Red Drakes appeared near it and with a single beat of their wings they were roaring at the slayers through the air.

Vorwulf knocked a dragonbone arrow.

To Be Continued…