Friday, January 26, 2018

Enter the Dragon’s Lair: Son of the Sun

Good Evening,

A while ago I wrote a small dragon's lair for Kobold Press' Midgard setting (Ishadia it appears). Thought it might be nice to post it for all to read and hopefully enjoy. (I may have maps which I will find, scan and add.)

Son of the Sun
An inquiry for characters level 5-6

Introduction:
On a stretch of lonely road on the frontier of Ishadia, west of Mardas Adamat, a well-armed merchant caravan is destroyed by desert nomads armed with newly forged black sparkling weapons made of what the survivors called “dragon glass.” Some mumble of a shadow in the skies overhead, watching the raid unfold.

The government in Mardas Adamat receives word of the nomad attack on a caravan returning from Siwal in the Sarklan Desert. Normally this would be considered acceptable losses if not for the disturbing development. One of the survivors was found with a Dragon-forged arrowhead buried in his gut. The Tamasheq of Sarklan have never been so armed. An alliance of any sized Tamasheq tribe with any of the Dragon Lords or lesser Urmanli would be a problem. Fearing another incursion from the Mharoti Empire, the players given the recovered dagger and are dispatched to the west to investigate with all due haste.

Dramatis Personae:
Güneşin Oğlu - The “Son of the Sun” - a young Solar Dragon who has come to Midgard for reasons unknown beyond the joy of making items and collecting the offerings of his followers. In Dragon form his upper scales are gold with black flecks, as are his wings and tail. His underbelly is the black of the night sky dotted with golden stars. In human form, depending on his mood, his skin is either black flecked with gold or gold flecked with black.
  • Young Solar Dragon, CR 9
Ahmet Basarin - Charismatic priest of the Sun Followers.
  • Human (Tamasheq) Male Cleric, level 5
Ilfet Tarasa - Chief horse tender of the Sun Followers and girlfriend of Ahmet Basarin
  • Human (Tamasheq) Female Expert, level 3
Narique Tarasa - Leader of the Sun Followers and brother to Ilfet Tarasa
  • Human (Tamasheq) Male Fighter, level 4
Güneş Disciples - “Sun Followers” - The tribe of Tamasheq followed the Dragon out of the Sarklan to settle in the hills.
  • 20 level 1-4 Human Fighters
  • 40 level 1-4 Human Commoners
  • 20 Human non-combatant elderly and children
  • 60 horses, a dozen hunting dogs, two hawks and a dozen wagons
History:
A time ago, while wandering the Sarklan deeps, Ahmet Basarin was alone, and subject to visions. In one he thought he saw a tall man of gold-flecked obsidian skin crowned with a halo of golden fire. That image turned out to be the young Dragon, Güneşin Oğlu. Basarin bowed down to the Dragon, believing him to be a Mask of Aten, the Sun God. The Dragon smiled at the cleric but did not discourage him.

Ahmet returned to his tribe of Tamasheq and managed to convince their leader, Narique Tarasa, to uproot the tribe and follow and serve the Dragon. (In fact, Narique’s sister, Ilfet, prevailed upon him to support her lover, the addled priest.) The Tamasheq rode into the desert and trailed the Dragon as he followed a Ley Line, ending up across the border in Ishadia, at a narrow box canyon. Oğlu found this site to his liking - material and magic were plentiful.

The Dragon carved out his lair, built the altar site and placed the watch stones in an arc about the area. Oğlu, through Basarin as his “voice,” commanded the horsemen to raid nearby caravans for coin, supplies and resources. In return he supplied the nomads with dragon glass weapons that he creates at his forge.

On the Trail of Broken Glass:
West of Mardas Adamat, the main road crosses the slowly drying hills before reaching a line of ridges that divide Ishadia from the Sarklan Desert. The highway, dotted with heavily defended way station Inns and oases, separated from each other by a day’s caravan travel, passes through a gap in the ridge to follow a dry river bed into the wilderness. Two days before the border and that gap, the players discover the site of the attack.

Little remains of the encounter. Organic pieces have been consumed by scavengers. Inorganic debris has been scooped up by scroungers. The rest scattered by the desert winds blowing from the gap. Survivors hurriedly buried their dead in a communal pit marked with a blessed fetish. Examination of the site reveals the raiders attempted to conceal their path which leads directly south.

The Black Orb:
A half day on horse to the south, the trail leads toward a hill rising in the distance. As you near the foot of the rise, you spot a square chunk of basalt, 3 feet on a side and 4 feet high. On top, resting in a slight depression is a spherical black glass orb almost as wide. Both radiate magic.

The following can be determined:

  • The orb is an alarm ward
  • It is connected to a point further south
  • It was created by a dragon within the year
  • The glass sphere is the same material as that of the recovered dagger, made from the basalt of the hills.
  • Placing the dagger against the sphere de-activates the alarm allowing all to pass into the hills
If the players trigger the alarm, the torches in the raider’s village burst into light, warning the Tamasheq. The Dragon also senses the breach.

The Followers of the Sun:
Several hours south by horse you can see a new village in the distance. Paths separate tents set in rows by the Tamasheq, surrounding more permanent structures built by the Drake, for the use of his prospective followers. Their horses trot about a corral along the northern edge. Paths lead to trails into the hills. Faint voices and noises - conversation, horses, tools, children laughing - are carried by the wind to where you stand. The paths are lined with wooden posts each topped with a black stone. A gift of the Dragon, they glow softly at night and blaze with light if the alarm is raised.

Just south of the village a section of hillside has been scooped away, forming an amphitheater of a sort, bare except for a dais, surfaced with thin slabs of basalt, rising five feet above the packed earth. The colors of the stone have been selected to form a large sunburst on the surface. Two iron poles, 10 feet tall and about 5 feet apart, are set in the center. A row of square pits lines the north arc. Here captives of the Tamasheq are hung in chains and offered to the Dragon.

If the alarm has not been raised there are no patrols during the day, but numerous Tamasheq walk or ride in and about the site. At night, two patrols of two riders each, circle the village and amphitheater about 50 yards out in opposite directions.

Typical activities at the village:
  • 2d4 Tamasheq gather and depart to hunt or forage in the surrounding hills, heading in any direction except directly south
  • 1d6 Children rush about the fields playing a game of some sort
  • 2 Tamasheq engage in a horse race about the village cheered on by 2d6 others
  • At sunrise or sunset 4d10 Tamasheq gather at the amphitheater where a tribal elder leads a service honoring their Dragon patron
Unusual activities at the village:
  • 2d10 Tamasheq gather and prepare to depart on a raid, taking any one of three paths northward out of the camp
  • The Tamasheq pull a prisoner from the pits about the amphitheater and chain him or her to the posts
  • A dark shadow rushing across the ground announces the arrival of the Dragon
Where the Light Sets:
Almost a day’s ride south, beyond the village, the trail ends in a basalt box canyon. Here the Dragon resides. If not at the village, or hunting in the wilderness, 50% chance the Dragon can be found here (25% of the time active, 75% of the time resting but aware).

The Dragon’s lair is about 120 feet wide and about 260 feet from the high basalt cliffs at the south end to the debris strewn field at the north. In the center of a circle of razor sharp fragments of rock and stone, sprinkled with a hoard of coins and the bleached bones of the dead, rises a single basalt spire 60 feet tall. The Dragon, when awake, frequently perches on the column and ponders the distance. South of the spire is a series of ledges against the cliffs, each about 10 feet high.

At 30 feet above the canyon floor, the ledge features a natural pool of unknown depth. The Dragon uses the pool to both bathe and cool his forged creations. Basalt columns, of various heights, surround the pool and are used as anvils and workbenches. Raw stone is heated with his breath to the melting point and then shaped with bare claws into various lengths and sizes. Edges are fashioned and ground to razor sharpness across the tops of the pillars. Sparks fly as the Dragon works the now enchanted black glass.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The High Ranges: The Eastern Approach

Returning to my #Southlands sandbox, The North Watch, with a #micromap considering the Eastern Approach.