So, my friend wants to hunt a dragon…

So, my friend wants to hunt a dragon…

Jay wrote about having never encountered a dragon at the gaming table. It made me think about when dragons have hit the table in my gaming history – a few times in Burning Wheel, always dramatic and to great effect. Once a pair of orc teamed up with Dwarven kings to kill the beast and won be the skin of their razor sharp teeth. Another time the posse let Grazz’t loose in the Forgotten Realms to destroy a Great Wyrm. In 4e we had this glorious fight with a Green Dragon that really harnessed all of the best parts of 4e’s amazing ability to make battlefield teamwork fun.

But how would I do this right now for Jay. Maybe 5e or Old School Essentials or Worlds Without Number or World of Dungeons isn’t the answer, I think to myself as I look at Project Ampersand. Maybe the answer is putting just enough together and seeing how it goes.

Spears Subject Divider
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

What do I need to get this going? Thinking out loud, here, forgive me if it makes no sense.

3 tables, Copper, Silver and Gold 1-18 for rolling characters up. When you roll states you keep the dice. 1’s and 2’s allow you to roll on the Gold Table. 3’s and 4’s allow for rolls on the Silver Table and 5’s and 6’s allow for rolling on the Copper Table. The Gold Table is filled with magic shit and pets. The Silver Table is weapons and heirlooms. The Copper Table is mules, wheelbarrows, rope and other gear.

A few spellbooks with a few spells each. Don’t need too many to start. Tiamat’s Gift to the Dragon-Folk, the Devil-Folk’s Family Grimoire and the Wizard’s Guild Journeyman’s Tome.

Wrote a bit about what each polyhedral die does and there are a surprising number of rules hidden in there.

This is a role-playing game. If this is your first, I am sorry. If this is your last, I’m also sorry.

The Icosahedron, or as it is commonly known, d20, is for deciding violent conflicts. Its geometry and fell swings of fate appease the blood-thirsty saints of battle, of which there are 20 in number.

It is a cruel implement, prone to wild swings of chance because no matter your training and power, war is cruel. Woe to those who must roll it and glory to those who survive its use to see home and hearth again.

D12 is power only the arcane can bring. It is dragon-breath and balefire. 12 to honor the dozen fire-pits in the Flame Realms with its Elemental Princes and the 13th Pit, which we should never name so that nothing crawls out from it into our world.

d10 is for legendary steel swords fully awakened and named in the hands of a hero or villain whose name will be written in stone or stars, to honor the ten seats around the legendary council table.

d8 is for bloody carnage, with 8 sides to ward away the 8 Vampire Dukes when our blood is spilled.

d6 is for skill, help and knowledge to honor the 6 Arch-Mages and their friendship before the start of the Mage Wars.

d4 is for falling, traps, and other bloody messes that could lead to death. Four sides to this impliment to give each of the Petty Woes that lairs in each of the cardinal points.

NOTE: This Ampersand has nothing at all to do with those assholes who are calling themselves TSR. I started calling my D&D Houserules turned game Project Ampersand last year.

Spears Subject Divider
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

Elves, Dwarves, Devil-Folk, Dragon-Folk, Gnomes, etc. would be opened through play like DLC. New player options made available through adventuring – when a character shares an oath with said newfound heritage or shares a romantic bond with them.

In honor of the 16 HP Dragon and out of exhaustion at the amount of hit-points 5e creatures can have, nothing has more than 16 HP (did you know Stras wrote the 16 HP Dragon?!?!). If it is possible to fell it with steel and spell, the most it can have is 16 hit points. The most fearsome dragon’s breath, that melts steel and Rings of Power alike inflicts 3d12 (as would the most brutal wizard’s spell opening access to Hellfire or the Storm God’s Lightning).

Spears Subject Divider
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1916.1789

3 tables numbered 1-18, a little over a dozen spells, a map (that is whole other post) with a smoking volcano on the horizon where the dragon lives (unless we decide we want a dragon in the desert or swamp or haunted forest or glacier or on a golden or silver throne) and maybe a short essay about how in this setting, all dragons are tyrants…

Do you want to hunt a dragon?

NOTE: To the tune of, Do You Want to Build a Snowman?

Because flying on a dragon’s back and doing battle in the clouds is probably a whole different post using notes filed under Dragon-Riders of Atlantis, though the same system could get us there…

These designs and more in my Threadless shop – t-shirts of all kinds, mugs, stickers and even shower curtains…

Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons

Spending the Dragon Hoard without counting every copper piece

Spending the Dragon Hoard without counting every copper piece

The players have killed the dragon and dragged the treasure down from the mountain. Here’s a way to make the spending of those riches without having to do accounting and putting rolls onto the table. This system will create adventure-making problems.

PNG and PDF below.

NOTE: Very much inspired by the Resources system in Burning Wheel.

Spears Subject Divider Image
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a
The coins you swept off the floor, pryed from the scales of the dragon's corpse and dragged down the mountain are not only coins. They are a catalogue of civilizations destroyed by the dragon’s greed. Spending this kind of ancient coinage attracts attention. Your dreams have been strange since acquiring it, as if the dragon's arcane blood has seeped into the gold. When you spend money from the the Dragon's Hoard, tell the DM what you want to buy and in what marketplace you are trying to purchase this item. The DM will set a DC if it is possible to find such a thing in the marketplace. If not, the DM will let you know who the merchants' gossip networks say might have such an item or a map to a tomb where such an item could be found. If the item is common, the DM might just ask you to check off a gold coin or two (maybe three if it is really opulent) without a roll. When you roll, mark a gold piece off of the fortune below. You may add +1 for every gold piece you mark off of the fortune. If you succeed, you purchase the item without a problem. If you fail the roll, you do one of the following:
Characters draw attention from a dangerous faction
The purchased item/service has a complication
The merchant demands some adventurous skill bartering, wanting access to the characters’ unique skillset
1 Gold Coin Checked = 1 month room & board in most cities for 6 adventurers.
Spears Subject Divider Image
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.
Spears Subject Divider Image
From: https://www.clevelandart.org/art/1922.26.a

I’d give advantage if the character’s background match up with what they are purchasing – knights if they are purchasing armor or horses, spy buying poison, folk hero purchasing rooms or pipeweed in an inn where they were heroic, or a noble purchasing land or title (depending on the nobles’ relationship with money in the setting), etc.

If this looks familiar, I made something just like this for the Thursday Night Game last week but wanted something here that might be more useful. Coins are from the Cleveland Museum of Art.

These designs and more in my Threadless shop – t-shirts of all kinds, mugs, stickers and even shower curtains…

Blog of Judd Karlman from Daydreaming about Dragons

Not Random but Inspirational

The players are an Outland Exhibition Team (O.E.T.) operating out of Sigil. O.E.T.’s are city-funded adventuring parties that head out into the Outlands and restore balance to situations that arise there. When they return they sit down with the community where they live and discuss the philosophical and moral implications of their choices.

“I just want to point out that outsiders entering a community to restore some idea of balance is colonial nonsense that is harmful to the world.”

“Do you attend every O.E.T. community discussion to say this?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Fair enough. So noted…”

I rolled up the adventure and mapped out an outline using the Trophy Gold incursion structure (more on that in a future blog post). The players were heading to Xaos, Portal City between the Outlands and the Ever-changing Chaos of Limbo to stop a god-feud happening there. Gods from a dead Prime Material World were feuding and causing problems.

I decided that there was a rival group of assassins known as the God-killers on their way to Xaos to kill the feuding gods. I wasn’t sure of much else about them. Would they get there first or show up later to heighten the tension? Not sure.

I rolled on the Encounter Table for their first day of travel.

Lost Souls…Dead Adventurers. I think my encounter just told me that the God-killers are dead.

INTERESTING. I did not see that coming.

The gods heard about them and panicked. They set aside their differences for a bit, made sure they were killed and then went back to their in-fighting. If the players find out that they set aside their differences once, they can figure out how to get them to do it again.

It also was a nice way of giving an info dump because assassins who call themselves the God-killers definitely did their homework.

One of the God-killers was a Tiefling and asked Kuru the Halfling Thief to burn some incense at the shrine to Asmodeus back in Sigil. Love it.

For the next day, I rolled a 12.

DRAGON. Whoa.

On the third d6 I got a 6. The dragon is taking treasure. Cool. But from who? I rolled again. I could’ve chosen but I was curious to see what the table would say.

Merchants. Makes sense. More simple than a dragon mugging an angel but sometimes simple is good.

I described the players arriving to a one-inn town with a merchant caravan leaving as a thunderstorm began. The players noticed right away and asked the inn-keeper why they were leaving into a storm. She told them that the caravan had a delivery that was time sensitive (what was that about? I’m still not sure and I’m not sure I ever will be) and so they left despite her warnings. She said that the storm wasn’t natural and they were leaving into doomful circumstances.

The next morning as the players were leaving, lightning-scorched survivors from the caravan were in the common room, talking about how they survived a dragon attack the night before. The blue dragon had attacked the caravan and pillaged its treasures before flying away.

I decided the rest of the journey went by without a hitch. I roll every day or two of travel.

Why did I roll these encounters? There weren’t any fights.

That is okay. Friendly and neutral encounters are fine. We’re into our third session. It fleshes out the world. I get to learn about what the characters are like.

The players could’ve gone after the caravan and talked them into staying. They could’ve decided to hunt the blue dragon. For now it is just color.

Sometimes I roll. Sometimes I choose. Sometimes they players sprint headlong into a brewing situation that has nothing to do with the oncoming adventure. Sometimes they hang back and smoke a pipe in the rain, under the eaves of the inn. Sometimes the players’ actions make something on (or off) the table obvious, so the encounter for that day is taken care of. Sometimes they get the jump on the encounter and other times they encounter will get the jump on them. It all depends on the circumstances and what the fiction demands.

I’m not calling them random encounter tables anymore. They’re Inspirational Encounter Tables.

I wrote up 2 pdf’s with Inspirational Tables in them. Please check out Silver Swords of the Lich Queen or Raven Queen vs. the Ghoul King to see more.

https://www.dmsguild.com/browse.php?author=Judd%20Karlman

Dragon-rider, Choose Your Dragon!

Gygaxian: These are ancient dragons that can live for centuries, only becoming full grown when they are well over a thousand years old. They are intelligent, use magic and will mate with damn near anything that moves, breeding half-dragon children all around their lairs. They gather treasures around them in great quantities and often choose their morality, climate and religion based on their breed. Gygaxian dragons can change shape and possess breath weapons based on their breed. These dragons are said to be strongly linked to the foundations of magic.

Inspirations: D&D (the second D)

  • Choose breed: Red, Blue, Green, White, Black, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Copper
  • Where is your dragon’s lair? What guards it while it is away and why doesn’t it trust the guardians it left?
  • Choose 3 spells your dragon can cast once a day: Charm Person, Web, Magic Missile, Read Magic, Detect Magic, Read Languages
  • Does your dragon worship the Platinum Emperor, Paladin-Lord of Justice or the Chromatic Queen, Demon-Lady with Five Heads?

Pernese: Some monsterists say these are not dragons at all but merely specially bred fire-lizards. These dragons’ riders disagree, sometimes not so politely. These dragons form a powerful bond with their riders and have other psionic abilities, including gaining access to a quasi-dimensional space, flight-enhancing telekineses and weak telepathy. Their fire-breathing is done through the digestion of firestone that causes an alchemical reaction in their second stomach.

  • Choose a mutation: Gold, Bronze, Brown, Blue or Green
  • Name a socially awkward emotion of yours that your dragon picks up on due to your bond.
  • Choose 1 of 3: plenty of firestone, plenty of food, plenty of money

Inspiration: Dragon-Riders of Pern

Olde Valyrian: These dragons were bred  to serve the ruling class of a fallen empire and give its freeholds military superiority. Their civilization has fallen, making their draconic breeding pool shallow and their training protocols misguided. These dragons can live centuries, growing to tremendous sizes and breath fire at temperatures that can melt metal and cook knights in their armor.

Inspiration: Song of Ice and Fire

  • Is your dragon so large that it can fit a warhorse in its jaws and blots out the sun or is it smaller and more maneuverable?
  • Has your dragon been left wild and stubborn or beaten and frightened by its ignorant trainers?
  • Choose One: Dragon Prince, Dragon Princess, Dragon Knight, Lucky Vassal

 

https://shopofjudd.threadless.com/designs/daydreaming-about-dragons