This is an upcoming adventure for my current campaign. As I haven't run it yet, everything here should be taken with a grain of salt -- it might need adjustments, enhancements, or any number of other things to flow smoothly. Any and all suggestions for improvement will be warmly received.
Introduction: A Cryptic Request
One morning, a cryptic note is found tacked onto the town message board, and no one knows from whence it came. The townsfolk have taken it down and brought it into the inn (or wherever the PCs are staying), and a crowd is discussing it in loud, excited voices. If the PCs request to see the note, this is what it contains:
Seeking: a party of no fewer than < INSERT PARTY NUMBER HERE > trained professionals to deliver a series of messages to three volatile and highly dangerous individuals.
Requirements: applicants MUST be able to parlay in pleasingly poetic prose
Rewards: very rich
Interested persons should endeavor to meet me at the location indicated on the accompanying map. If you manage to arrive within three days, the job is yours.
If asked, there is no one in town by the initials of “C.C.”. Furthermore, the location on the map is smack dab in the middle of a dangerous forest, one that the locals eschew for fear of the wild beasts living within.
Challenge 1: Getting through the forest
The party’s mystery patron knows full well the dangers that lie within the untamed forest, and intends to use them as a test of the heroes’ worth. Ferocious beasts, sudden cliffs and other hazards lie in their path, though these will taper off as the party nears its destination. There are very few trails here, so going will be slow. The GM should use this opportunity to challenge his or her players with inclement weather, rough terrain, landslides, and various difficulties with securing food, shelter, fire, etc.
Possible combat encounters: bears, cougars, wolf packs, or any monsters/magical beasts appropriate to your setting.
Act I: Meet the Bachelor
When the party finally reaches their destination they will be confronted by a large, boulder-strewn hill that sports several mammoth stone cairns, arranged in such a way as to make the whole hillside look like a crude castle or fortress. A yawning maw faces the heroes, and the sound of a deep voice muttering to itself drifts from within it. When the heroes approach, the muttering will cut off abruptly. The voice will issue a challenge, asking the party their business, before delightedly greeting them and asking that they step inside . . .
“Cockathewalk” Cornelius is an unremarkable adult dragon, his scales shining duly in the well-lit antechamber of his lair. He prefers to lounge upon his untidy bed of loose coins and jewels, which compromise the bulk of his hoard. There are, however, piles of assorted other valuables strewn here and there around the cave, and several full suits of armor (slightly charred) that stand against the walls in a crude attempt at decoration. The cavern itself is cloaked in layers of illusion, transforming this simple cave into a richly furnished bachelor pad, complete with an illusionary female dragon shaking her tail and making eyes at him from one corner of the room.
After pleasantries have been exchanged, Cornelius will answer the following questions:
Q. What’s the job?
A. The job! Yes, well, I’ve run into a bit of a snag in my love life recently. Nothing serious, I assure you, but I just cannot get any female to give me the time of day anymore. This year, however, I have written some poetry that is simply exquisite, and I know that the ladies will be impressed. Your job is simply to memorize my verses and deliver them to the lucky girls in my stead.
Q. Why don’t you do this yourself?
A. Ah ha, well, funny you would mention that. It seems that I have developed something of a reputation with the female population in these parts. I can’t imagine why. In recent years, the girls have gone all coy, and have taken to flying off as soon as they catch wind of me.
He will then give the party a list of three lady dragons that he has had his eye on for some time, describing them each in florid detail:
Zaulphiria -- “. . . long, comely tail and juicy hindquarters . . .”
Shadrevaen -- “. . . shapely neck and immaculately polished scales . . .”
Tjamaladara -- “. . . high head-frill and glittering claws . . .”
The party is given general directions to the territories of each female. Their job is to convince at least one of them to meet Cornelius in a glade near a distinctive mountain, on the night of the new moon (which is about a month hence). The heroes are NOT to tell the lucky lady whom she will be seeing, for that will likely scare her off (or “make her shy”, as Cornelius prefers to say). Instead, they are to deliver the poem and regale her with tales of the male dragon’s majesty, his power, his good looks (etc, etc, etc) thereby convincing her to agree to the mystery midnight tryst. If the party is successful, Cornelius will reward each of them with one item from his hoard, but only AFTER he has mated with one of the females. He urges them to hurry, for the dragon breeding season is as brief as it is sweet . . .
Challenge 2: The Poem
Cornelius will require that the PCs take down or memorize the following poem, and recite it word-perfect a few times just to make sure. Pointers to improve his verses will not be well-received.
THE SUNRISE OF OUR LOVE
Before I first saw you, the sun looked like an egg.
Now the sun looks like a mass of flames.
Like the heat of the flames
Of my lust for you.
My sweet, will you fan those flames to new heights?
Allow me to scour thy tender flower?
Desire me as I have desired you from afar?
And bring a little light to my lonely life
By saying you want me too?
Although you probably don't want me,
(Because nobody ever has)
I pray that you are The One who will freely
Entwine with me most passionately.
Act II: Meet the Ladies
The journey to each female’s lair should take between three and seven days to complete, depending on the hazards you choose to throw in the party’s way. In addition, each female will allow the party between two and four days to make their case to her, before she dismisses them entirely (using force, if necessary).
Challenge 3: Parlay with the females and convince one of them to mate with Cornelius
Each dragon has a very different personality, so the PCs will have to tailor their game plan based on observation of the dragon’s surroundings and lair. To this end, I have devised a points system that will help the GM monitor the party’s progress and chance of success with a given female. When a party first encounters the dragon, they will be at -5 points with her.
Conditions for Success: If the heroes manage to raise their score to +10 before the female dismisses them, it will count as a success. She will agree to go meet her mystery suitor at the agreed-upon location, upon the next new moon.
Conditions for Failure: If the party gains a -10 reputation with a female, she will chase them away. If they flee, she will be unlikely to chase them for very long, but she *will* try to kill them if they don’t leave. Additionally, if the party has NOT raised their reputation with her to +10 before their time with her is up, she will gently but firmly end negotiations with them.
Note of Caution: As is to be expected, Cornelius’ poetry is so bad that reciting it will practically guarantee a failure of negotiations with the current female. The party will have to come up with something better, or leave the poetry out altogether.
An “mature” adult dragon, Zaulphiria is doing the best she can to maintain her looks under the weight of her years. She is incredibly vain, and spends her days gazing into the clear, still pools that surround her lair. Gems are favored by her, especially emeralds, and she has a large collection of jewelry. Her horns have been gilded, her breath sweetened with large quantities of mint, and a huge emerald is embedded in her breast. Zaulphiria’s lair is immaculately kept, with the most prominent decoration being a wide assortment of mirrors and other reflective surfaces.
- Praise her looks (+5)
- Give her a gift (preferably expensive, one-of-a-kind, or jewelry) (+4, +3 for the next, +1 for subsequent)
- Tell her how much her would-be suitor thinks of her beauty (+3)
- Exaggerating Cornelius’ good looks (+2)
- Any other praise of Zaulphiria (+2)
- Any other convincing praise of Cornelius (+1)
- Bad poetry (Cornelius’, especially) (-3)
- Disrespectful behavior (-3)
A young adult dragon, Shadrevaen loves art and music and has a very high opinion of her own artistic ability. When the party first encounters her, she is likely to be singing to herself, the birds, or anything else that she can get to listen. Her lair is found next to the conjunction of two streams, mostly so that she can hear the lovely tinkling sound that the water makes. Wind chimes are hung en masse in the trees outside her lair, and she even has a “doorbell” of sorts (a selection of favorite songs will start playing when anyone crosses the threshold). Her hoard consists of many, many musical instruments, original transcripts of now-famous ballads, paintings, sculpture and other works of art. If the party performs for her, beware that she may begin “dancing”, and may accidentally crush the unwary.
- Good poetry, love songs, etc (+4, +2 for the next, +1 for each additional)
- Musically themed or artsy gifts (instruments, artwork, sculpture, etc) (+2, +1 for each additional)
- Praising her voice, poetic skills, etc (+5)
- Exaggerating Cornelius’ creative genius (+2)
- Any other praise of Shadrevaen (+2)
- Any other convincing praise of Cornelius (+1)
- Bad poetry (Cornelius’) (-4)
- Disrespectful behavior (-1)
- Insulting her voice or artistic sensibilities (-3)
An adult dragon in her prime, Tjamaladara is not one to rest upon her laurels. She places physical prowess above all other considerations, and is incredibly competitive in hunting and other sports. Her lair is decorated with the stuffed and preserved heads of her more impressive kills, and she loves to relate stories of her victories to all those that will listen. Her collection of military hardware is truly unparalleled, and adorns every inch of wall that is not taken up by her trophies. She rests upon a bed of helms, shields, animal and monster skins. When she is not out hunting, she spends her time cleaning and sharpening all of her natural weapons, and practicing using her tail as a whip.
- Listening (with rapt attention) to her long-winded hunting stories (+2)
- A gift of big game, a hunting trophy, a finely-crafted weapon, etc. (+3, +2, +1 for each subsequent)
- Praising her strength, hunting prowess, grace, agility, etc (+4)
- Exaggerating Cornelius’ power and “manliness” (+2)
- Any other praise of Tjamaladara (+2)
- Any other convincing praise of Cornelius (+1)
- Bad poetry (Cornelius’) (-2)
- Disrespectful behavior (-2)
- Insulting her hunting skills or physical attributes (-3)
If the party has convinced at least one female to meet with Cornelius, they will return to his cave to find him sated and very grateful. And, surprise! The lady dragon has decided to stay with him for the long haul. (The illusionary female dragon is gone, by the way). She will be swooning at him the whole time the party is there, commenting on how she “never expected such prowess” from dear old Cornelius.
Cornelius will be in a hurry to finish the picking and choosing from his hoard, and will therefore be more likely to part with items that he would normally have thought long and hard about. Once the party has selected their reward, he will shoo them gently but firmly from his cave, and the party will hear giggles, then moans issuing from his lair almost as soon as they depart.
Cornelius will, of course, be very disappointed if the party does not manage to secure a female for him, but may still reward them with a modest amount of coin for information about each female’s preferences and personality.
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? Responses (19)
This is wonderfully offbeat. I don't tend to use dragons in this way in my campaigns, but this sub is so smooth, clever, and uncluttered! PERFECT for a one-night stand type of game!
The point system is fun, the juicy hindquarters made me lol, and the droll and light-hearted tone of the plot is great.
I could even see this as an entry in a Dungeon Magazine. Its tight!
Just thinking now, I would add an Imp maybe. Perhaps Zaulphiria's creature. Intrigued by the PCs visit, she sends her imp after them (to the next two), to see just what exactly they are "up to". Perhaps the Imp further impedes or annoys the characters, (with its impish ways) as they deal with the other two dragons.
Another thought is if the PCs convince 2 or even all 3(!) of the dragons to visit with Cornelius, further hijinks and possibly even blood-shed (scale-shed?) could ensue.
Just thinking out loud. Love the premise.
Ha! I had just assumed that the party would call it quits after their first success, but I can imagine them pressing on under the right circumstances. Perhaps I should add a third conclusion to cover that eventuality. Honestly, I think that the females would kill Cornelius outright for the insult to their dignity, then go after the players, but that might be a bit harsh.
The imp or other familiar is a nice touch. I might keep that in mind, if the party is having too easy of a time of it.
Great feedback Muro!
Wow. Very nice. Looks like a great little side-trek that can be used without much hassle. As Muro said, it is crisp, clean, and fresh in presentation and creativity, but not too strange as to cause complications.
A great way introduce the party to the ways of dragons, without making them a deadly threat, Good work.
Really amusing and sweet in it's own way. Love is such a nice thing in general.
Could be a nice change of pace.
As it is written, a sensible party will have little difficulty achieving their goal; the challenge depends mainly upon the ease with which they can discover each dragon's fancy.
Tjamaladara might detest falsehood, being straightforward; she could test the PCs' mettle as well, deciding upon their performance whether they're worth wasting time at all.
Shadrevaen could react favorably to behavior patterns seen in romanticized works, and less well to a pragmatic approach. A knight-in-shining armor or minnesanger might be the best negotiator, especially if putting on sufficient pathos. She could want the PCs to capture a famous bard for her (and locking him in a cage like a bird).
Zaulphiria, even though vain, might have the tooth of suspicion gnawing at her - what if she no longer looks her best? Carefully worded, an offer of lasting beauty-enhancing treatments would be worth a ton of bonus points. Badly phrased, it would get the PCs a massive minus.
Good reply, Echo!
A well-written submission based on an amusing concept of novelty.
A nice, fresh take on dragons in gaming. This is the kind of adventure that would really push the players to be creative (and the GM, too, as he works to keep things interesting.)
HA-HAAH! This one really amused me! Well done Dossta!
I can't believe I didn't vote on this. I read this when it came out a year ago, wrote up a whole adventure around it, I had pre-equal and other events associated with it. The style you took to the roleplaying wasn't/isn't really mine so I wasn't as warm to this piece as I have been to some of your others. I also agree with Echo in that it is a little too linear to be a GREAT adventure. Yet it should be an amuzing one. But anything that does what this did, inspires fan fiction, is really fantastic, this is funny. If I would suggest anything that hasn't already been said I would say play up the subversive anti-adventure feel to the whole piece, the straight line to success, the simple charactizations of the dragons, and the relatively few choices the players have make this much less of the satire it could be.
Again though just is case I am not clear, this is a really great write up in my book. -damn well formatted too, please help me with that if you ever get the tiem. I read it and wanted to make it my own. What more can you offer a gamer?
Thanks, axlerowes. I'd love to see what you did with it sometime! I agree that the adventure is a bit linear, but it was meant to be a quickie 1 or 2 session romp for some new players. It could definitely be elaborated on.
Wonderful! It draws a whole new aspect out of the dragon mentality. This is really nice and succintly written. Genius Dossta. Real Genius. 5/5
The only piece missing is that dragons like to live in scary, hard-to-reach places. I would want to wedge a challenge in Act II before the parlay. Here's what I'm thinking:
Zaulphiria the Vain lives in a fantastic and beautiful abandoned dwarven mine. The players would have to battle cave monsters and traps to parlay with her, and she would be even more upset if they were to damage her lovely home trying to reach her.
Shadrevaen the Artistic lives in a forrest that holds several elven shrines. Though most of the elves were chased out, the beauty and inspiration of nature keeps a few artistic elves around. The players would have to convince the elves to let them pass and maybe even fight a few elven spirits to parlay. Shadrevaen may be upset if the players carelessly harm the talented bardic elves she has grown to appreciate.
Tjamaladara the Mighty lives is a mighty keep that she took by force. She has raised many war dogs and a few trolls to guard her home and scare off visitors. She would think very little of someone who did not show their might by facing her guardians in fair combat. She would likely think very little of anyone who approached her by sneaking around.
This extra challenge gives the players something to think about and plan in advance. I'm sure you could think of a better lair for each dragon to match your setting and power level, but you get the idea.
Good point, Omega! If I ever get around to rewriting this one, I will definitely want to flesh out the dragon lairs. I really like your suggestions, so would you be OK with me using them (and possibly modifying them) in the sub?
Also, this gives me a great idea for another 30s submission . . .
30 Dragon Lairs/Dens? Woo-hoo!
Actually did this at one point, but it came out as a set of 10 instead of 30. Will try to do another 20 at some point.
Omega and Echo suggest excellent ways to complicate this bare-bones adventure (very low combat), but I think it ultimately accomplishes what it sets out to do.
This is quite good - a little too fairy tale for my taste, but that does not diminish the quality.
The added suggestions help as well.