Campaign Ideas: Hunting the Teratic Tome’s 10 Venerable Dragons

The Pitch: You have a pile of scrolls, copied from the Teratic Tome by an unknown monk, with the rare pages that detail the powers, habits, and preferred habitats of the evil Venerable Dragons. Information in hand, you will hunt these monsters and the vile cults that serve them across the worlds.

I’d photocopy pages 25 to 42 of the Teratic Tome, hand it to the players and ask them to start making a plan.

The Venerable Dragons are ten in number. Ancient and vitriolic, they regard themselves as a weary decadarchy who bear the burden of governing the lesser beings. These ten dragons cannot be subdued, nor will they show mercy to their opponents. Found in long-forgotten places, sleeping under thick layers of dust or mud, these horrid creatures cause nothing but misery when awakened.

Teratic Tome by Rafael Chandler

What I’d say to the table: Make characters who are driven to hunt these ten dragons to the ends of the known worlds and beyond. There is no right way to do this. This is going to be a campaign on hard mode, no secret betrayers, please. As long as the scrolls of the Teratic tome are safeguarded a TPK will mean we just make the new characters that end up with the scrolls.

Some questions to inspire ideas:

Why do you hunt these dragons?

Did one of them take something from you or destroy someone or something you hold dear?

Are you a hunter who wants to pursue the ultimate prize?

Is there something of great power that you could make from their bones or flesh?

I’d like the group to have a way to travel. Maybe that is the main choice as we begin the game, is how do you chase these draconic monsters?

Your crew has…

…a Well of Worlds, beneath a tower on the tallest mountain. The world below was decimated when these ten dragons decided its end was nigh. Some say the monk who copied the scrolls you hold dear was born here and this world’s apocalypse was the price it paid.

…a skyship, originally made to hunt Forest Whales that fly above the Ocean Forest’s treetops, it was refitted to traverse the portals that lead from world to world (Inspired by the Serpent Gates books 1 and 2 by A.K. Larkwood).

…a Worlds Map, made by the Nomad Seers who walked across all of creation, drawing the most beautiful and detailed map of the worlds and the spheres’ movements across time (inspired by the Wanderers of Ashann from A Naturalist’s Guide to Talislanta).

What game could we run this in?

Old School Essentials, Cairn, Errant, Troika, Ironsworn, Spell and Blade (in playtest), the Whitehack, World of Dungeons and Worlds Without Number all come to mind as possibilities.

Might have to write up a follow-up blog post with a quick Into the Odd hack (as I’ve been doing lately).

Here’s how I would run this as straight-up Into the Odd. In the marginalia of the scrolls the monk writes a screed about how the Bastion’s leaders and elders refused to listen to his warnings, that the Underground isn’t ruins from a previous city but a complicated machine meant to hide Bastion and this world from the Venerable Dragon’s sight. But it is now broken beyond repair and the dragons will surely attack when they next wake. Decades ago the monk headed out into the Deep Country, hoping they might be lucky and perish before the attack occurs. “My hope is that these scrolls end up in the hands of someone with more bravery than I can muster.” I’d stat up each of the 10 dragons as a 16 HP Dragon.

If you use the idea I’d LOVE to hear about how it goes.

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