So, off again we go to slay the evil dragon... but what happens when said evil dragon is asking for a big favour with its dying breath... well, you decide...
After having been asked by the local village or town to get rid of the local dragon, the adventurer swiftly climb up the mountain.
While entering the lair, however, they find traces of an almighty fight, with the recently charred or torn bodies of a whole company of dragon slayers strewn in every direction. Going further in, they see the walls of the caves glittering with dragon blood, still wet, and broken lances testaments to the many wounds sustained by what must have been a tremendous beast. The footprints left in the gore by the dragon are easily larger than the group's biggest warrior...
after many turns and freshly broken bodies, the party will edge cautiously into the main chamber, and are confronted by a literal mountain of dead bodies from previous dragon slayers. Amidst the dead, lies a colossal female dragon, clearly mortally wounded, with lances protruding from her flesh and deep cuts to her wings, it is clear she has only hours to live.
'Come closer, approach Bellissa, I will not harm you now, and I would leave this mortal plain but for one thing, and perhaps you will help Dying Bellissa... What say you?'
'You are my last hope, adventurers. And I have no other choice but to ask for you help. Perhaps you came here to kill me, but as you see other men have already succeeded in this before you, and my fate is at this moment sealed... But make no mistakes humans, I fear you not, even now, I could kill a group such as yourselves easily before I pass to the next plane, but perhaps you wish to hear what I have to say'
'You see adventurers, I have business unfinished on this here plane, and will not live to finish it. My eggs were laid several moons ago, And are soon to hatch. Noble Adventurers I beg you to care for my young. This is my last chance to save them. none of my kind have responded to my plea, and without help my children will die.'
'Noble adventurers I beg that you take my eggs and see them hatch safely. you must help me. I ask this as a mother about to die, with little hope of seeing my children live. You are my only hope. Would you let defenceless sentient beings die? Would you watch while a child starves in front of you? I believed humans to be kinder than this. Perhaps I was wrong... '
'All in this here lair is yours to possess. And I offer a greater gift. I offer a pact that we will, you and I both, be forced to uphold. I willingly offer my blood to protect you, should you promise to guard my children from harm.'
'I shall part with the essences of power which courses through my veins, if only you will take care of them. I, Bellissa, hereby swears it. You will age as we age and see as we see, and until your death, the blood of the dragons shall flow through your vein. But be warned, betraying this pact is a curse worst than death and the abyssal plains will never hold as many horrors as you will bear if this pact is broken.'
'Noble adventurers, Old Bellissa would be most grateful. What say you...'
Bellissa is badly wounded and will soon die from her wounds. she however remains a formidable foe, and will still be able to kill a a party of 5 or 6 highly skilled warriors with relative ease, although she will not attack unless attacked first. There are several ways this could go:
They threaten the eggs:
If the eggs are threatened she will fly in a furious rage and tear the PCs to blood-soaked meat shreds. (armour an' all)
They refuse the offer:
If the PCs refuse the offer but do not attack, she will plead with them till her last breath, always remaining calm and forgiving any insult that they throw at her. (she will remain alive for about five hours)
They try to kill Bellissa:
If the PCs try to kill her she will defend herself but will not use lethal force, instead trying to restrain and reason them. (she is still a formidable foe and may crush someone by mistake)
They agree to help:
If they agree to help, she will ask all members to step forward and mix their blood with hers, sealing the agreement. she will then die, blessing the adventurers with her last breath: 'I did not think that humans wo... Thankyou adventurers, may the spirit of the great dragon forever protect you...Goodbye, Goodbye for now...'
The Dragonlings are approximately the size of a dog, and will be defenseless, slowly hatching from large eggs when the adventurers enter the next chamber. They should be described as adorable and utterly defenseless. the players should ideally really empathises with them. Their cries should have the same effect as those of a newborn child, and bring great emotions to the characters.
The Dragonlings, with no other parental figure in sight will naturally accept the party, and will try and cuddle up to the adventurers. Ideally, there is one dragon per adventurer.
The characters are now faced with many options:
They made the deal but kill the newborn anyway:
Nothing less than death is suitable here, but the pact may slowly rot their flesh or mind, killing them with visions of horror and death, or they might be forced to turn their own weapons on themselves. This curse is irreversible by magic. it runs in their veins, and nothing less than bleeding to death will remove it. (funny that!)
they did not make the deal, and kill the newborn:
Gosh, you've got yourself a pretty heartless party. Its like shooting fish in a barrel. The newborn will not understand the danger, and when they see their sibling die might attempt to defend themselves, but they are much too weak to resist. Perhaps the ghost of the mother tries to defend her youngs, or perhaps the ghost will haunt the party until party death. Up to you.
They made the deal but leave the hatchlings to die:
Guilt will eventually consume them (its in their blood) and they will commit suicide. The mother definitely comes back and haunts them
They didn't make the deal and leave the hatchlings to die:
nothing happens, they get a large loot, some cool weapons from the dead knights and can go and claim a reward for killing the big bad dragon.
They didn't make the deal but care for the hatchlings:
Whoa! Fantastic. Unbeknownst to them, the mother comes back as a protecting ghost until the dragonlings are old enough to go out into the world (10-12 years), when she reappears again, and thanks them for protecting her brood. She then grants a small blessing on them, and speeds into dragon afterlife. The hatchlings take a long time to get used to their new surrogate parents, and will always remain detached, as soon as they gain the ability to talk fluently and breath fire (speak: 4-5 years; flying:7-10 years firebreathing: 8-9 years) they will strike out on their own. (they will be about the size of horses then) It will be necessary for the party to learn how to look after a baby dragon. How they do that is up to you
They made the deal and will keep to it:
The mother will rest in peace in the after life, and will be available for the characters should they need advice or guidance by simply thinking about her enough.
The Hatchlings will develop a special affinity for the humans, and strong bonds will be formed between man and beast. The Characters will each bond with one dragon in particular and this dragon will remain with the characters until the character dies. the development rate of a dragon is approximately the same as a human, although the dragons continually develop both physically and mentally. the characters will have to teach the dragons to speak, and generally take care of them as they would a infant. Most tasks however will come naturally, although the dragons will be very demanding in term of knowledge. Thus character's dragon will soon learn the character's skills and will slowly take on the personality of their surrogate. This is campaign changing stuff, so this might not fit the game being played. you could always have the party find an appropriate same-kind surrogate.
The players may also gain a plethora of abilities from the pact, linked to how much they care about the dragonlings. Their lifespan is tripled or quadrupled and they will often be able to take incredible punishment from any kind of weapon, and are almost immune to fires, magical or otherwise. They may be immune to magic too. (all this makes sense in term of game balance, since a man with a dragon friend is plain asking for trouble, although the balance is really up to you.)
Up to the adventurers really. They could all become dragon riders, or great scholars, helped by their dragon friend. Alternatively, they could also be corrupted by the newfound powers. This is where the fun really begins!
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? Responses (15)
An adventure that could lead to en entire series of further adventures...
This adventure is similar in some ways to The Wheezing Dragon. The plot will work best if there are some elements of moral ambiguity to the situation: Are dragons of Belissa's line irredeemably evil? Who attacked Belissa and why?
Protecting the eggs and hatchlings could be quite a challenge in itself: There are sure to be many who would like to seize such for themselves, or simply slay the creatures. Additionally, what treasure the dragon left behind might draw quite a bit of attention. The climax of 'The Hobbit' comes to mind, with armies converging on the site...
The rewards for helping the dragon need not be overpowering: A greater lifespan is a great 'in-game' benefit that has little effect beyond the roleplaying aspect (how many adventurers die of old age?), but immunity to spells or other combat-related resistances could become a major factor in future scenarios. An option would be to grant these powers to the adventurers' children; as the adventurers protect her children, so her power would protect theirs.
Hi, thanks Wulfhere.
Regarding the essential evil/good of dragons, I wanted to leave that to the GM, since I know that some settings have inherently evil dragons (eg coloured dragons in D&D), while others have a different view.
I think that you are right: it would be as harder moral choice if the dragon was perceived as evil in the general mind. This however does not mean that the dragons have to actually be evil, just that the general populace find her (or dragons in general) evil. I am personally of the view that all sentient being should have a choice, including in the game world. If I was running this I would probably make Bellissa in the moral 'grey zone', making the choice more difficult by not tainting the dragonlings with evil (in which case they might just slaughter them without guilt), but making sure that the adventurers know of 'wrong' moral choices by their mother.
I really like the idea about her power protecting the adventurer's children as long as they protect hers! it makes sense and is much neater than granting them anything beyond the already existing loot. Although it might not work for all parties...
Certainly the hatchlings bring problems of their own, which is why this can really be approached as a stepping stone to other adventures. I especially like the idea of the heros having to look everywhere for instruction as to how to care for a baby dragon, making them run around to find draco-nannies if you wish. I also imagine that a nice loot will only compensate the added trouble that the hatchling cause, rather than be a true reward.
The image of newborn baby dragons is so sweet. 5/5
I, too, have a softspot for dragons. This is a nice and simple sub that is adaptable to pretty much any situation. An excellent first sub, DD. :)
You might could complicate things by throwing in a monk of the Tagma Drakontas. The monk might assist the PCs, or walk in at just the wrong moment: when Bellissa breathes her last and the PCs are standing over her. The zealous monk jumps to conclusions and a standoff is made.
Actually I was thinking of adding some kind of human acolyte initially. Eventually they were cut out simply because I could not see why Bellissa would let her kids go with the un-prepared adventurers if the acolyte was already well versed in dragon lore and customs. But having them walk in at the wrong moment, it would be really interesting to see how the players react. Lots and lots of potential for trouble!
The order would also be a fantastic addition to the world where this initially happens. They could provide guidance, help, and tips when found. Or, they could be a constant thorn to the PCs, believing them unworthy and self interested, and unsuitable to care for dragonlings... I like that a lot actually. The order adds the depth that makes it fit into the gameworld.
Now, once I find out how to add linked subs.....
This one came out well.
A few minute spelling mistakes, but an excellently fleshed out submission.
Updated: spelling mistakes rooted out!
Very nice, it has it's poignant moments and as Cheka said, the idea of baby dragons is a cute one, akin to the round precious moment's like creations found in ceramics boutiques, rather than dragons hatching like voracious insta-predators.
Three thumbs up.
Have found suitable picture: http://elfwood.lysator.liu.se/art/n/e/nelson/baby_dragon.gif.html should give an idea...
When I think of baby dragons, I always think of the ones from the film Dragonslayer:
They were kind of nasty, bat-like reptilian monstrosities...
A VERY good first post indeed!
My only concern is the with absolutes - the curse is 100% unremovable, etc. Don't agree with those, but I can easily change that :) However, if the curse was removed, the benefits would go too, possibly causing the adventurers to revert to their true age.
Nicely done and well written!
I imagine that as a pregnant creature, it had to feed/terrorize more often, and thereby causing the towns to request the king to send a battalion of knights to dispatch the known, but up until now dormant threat. And was it only justification to retrieve the kingdom's stolen/lost item. This adventure spark has set my plot fire ablaze. Thanks.
I am looking for what my players will do after this current campaign ends. This will fit in, and solve.
I know it's late but I am young to the forum. I like the possibilities here.
Just . . . wow. My soft spot for dragons might be messing with my judgement here, but really, who wouldn't want a dragon as their friend? The only concern I have is that, once the dragonlings are a bit older, they become formidable companions. It's a lot of power to grant an adventuring party, especially early in their careers.
Some ways to offset this:
General prejudice of the population against the dragon-friends. They might have a hard time finding work after this.
Weapons with anti-dragon powers now work equally well against PCs.
Perhaps only allow one or two dragonlings to survive, to be cared for by the whole party rather than by each member. If the party ever splits, expect custody disputes to ensue.
These are rather small nitpicks to an otherwise excellent submission. Have an HoH!