Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Dragon's Cough Part 1 (a D&D RC low level scenario)

Something new every now and then. A post with an adventure! Inspiration was yours truly being down with the sickness, thinking about how rare it is that people talk about sick monsters and what great adventure hooks those could make. I also wrote a post announcing this experiment here, so if you haven't read it, you might want to check it out. And here is the first part of that little scenario with a sick dragon ...


This is meant as a short level 1 adventure scenario. I always thought it's nice to give low level characters a chance to confront high level critters with a fair possibility of survival. In this case it's a 313 years old talkative and sleepy large green dragon with a heavy case of what goes as a bronchitis draconis, mucus and acidic coughs all inclusive. It won't be complete, more like a collection of (weird?) ideas for the DM to throw some meat at.

I'll use the D&D Rules Cyclopedia for the rules here, so Labyrinth Lord is a good bet if you look for compatibility.

The Dragon

Arez'kjolterr-Hunwellz'charou (a.k.a. Arez the Derisive) is really miserable right now. Mean and slimey coughs, feverish hallucinations and some outright nasty chest pains have kept him out of business for two weeks now and word already spread into strange places (see The Wizard in Part 2). Nowadays Arez mostly keeps hidden deep in his lair, nursed by a handful of his most trusted servants (meaning: the weakest, see The Black Ears Kneesnapper Goblin Tribe, Current Affairs in Part 2).

Arez the Derisive
  • AC -1
  • HD 12*** (69 hp)
  • Large Monster
  • Move: 120' (40') Flying: 300' (100')
  • (Ground) Attacks: 3 attacks with a +2 attack bonus each, for instance 2 CLAWS/1 BITE but also WING (36' range, save vs. petrification (with damage of the attack as penalty) or be stunned), KICK (saving throw vs.  paralysis or be knocked down) and TAIL  attacks (same against airborne enemies); CRUSH (surprised) enemies within 10' radius, save vs. death ray to avoid, ignoring the save (which means getting damage, of course) and bringing something pointy towards the dragon does double damage and get a +4 on the attack
  • (Air) Attacks: also +2 attack bonus to attacks; up to 5 attacks when HOVERING (2 claws, 2 kicks, 1 tail, always needs to land after 1 round hovering); may attack two times with claws when SWOOPING, will catch up to 2 victims if attack rolls are 18-20
Additional Notes to Combat (D&D RC, p. 170): "When a flying dragon attacks an aerial target, it gets two claw attacks and one bite attack, but cannot use wing, kick or tail attacks. When attacking a ground-level victim from the air, a dragon can use one Crush, Hover, or Swoop attack (as described below), but no two in combination."
  • Breath Attack: Cloud of Chlorine Gas 3 times per day in an 50' x 40' x 30' area
  • Damage: 3d8+4 for Bite/Crush; 1d10+2 for claws/kicks/wings/tail; current hp as damage for breath attack (save vs. breath weapon for half damage)
  • Save as: F24
  • Morale 9
  • Treasure: see below
  • Intelligence 12
  • 4750 xp
Spells (4/4/3): Charm Person (m), Hold Portal, Shield, Sleep (2x m), Ventriloquism (m) // Entangle (m), Invisibility, Locate Object, Mirror Image (m), Web (2x m) // Clairvoyance (2x m), Fireball (m), Haste (m), Hold Person

A sick green dragon is a sad thing to behold, cuddling his
favorite logs and being miserable and all that blues ...
Current Tactics

Arezkjol is weak as a kitten right now (has only a quarter of his hp) and knows it. He hides in a small cavern close to his most precious treasures (believing that they somehow support the healing process) accessible only by one small and hidden entrance (he has ways to get in and out of there, if need be). He spends his days with cuddling his favorite logs, light reading, heavy whining and lots of sleep (60 % chance that he is asleep at any given moment, with a 20 % that he's trying to get there if he's awake).

He won't use his breath attack in here, because it might destroy some of his treasures and thinks that crushing enemies is kind of gross. But strenuous actions like fighting will provoke some coughing and that mucus is very acidic, if random. Every round of fighting the dragon has to make a save versus petrification (as F12 in this case) or cough the whole next round, spitting huge clumps of mucus all over the place. Everyone in front of the dragon has to make a save versus Dragon Breath to avoid getting slimed for 2d6-2 acid damage per round until the mucus is somehow scraped off or the victim is dead. There is a huge dry clump on one walls of the cavern with the sad remains of a goblin in it that could give hints.

This dragon's left claw is crippled, so he'll only do d6+2 damage with it. But don't be sorry for the sod, he's still as mean as they get ...

Territory & Lair

Arez claims a territory with a size of roughly 453 square kilometers (a radius of 12 km or about the size of San Jose) or twenty 6 km hexes. Mostly it's forest, of course, so any forest region in a campaign could be used here. Since it's a green dragon, it's very likely that he'll seek the proximity of some sort of civilisation to play his mean games with. He'll also have spies all over the place, even beyond his territory, to keep an eye on all interesting things, like adventurers out for some dragon blood, interesting artists and politics in general.

There is a (at the moment) a chance of 90 % that Arez's servants are aware of adventure groups above an average level of 4 travelling through the territory and the chance of 20 % that the sick dragon will be made aware of it. Low level adventurers will most likely get ignored, as everyone is either busy with real threats or looking for herbs.

The lair should be a well hidden cave complex with some clever and deadly traps (green dragon!). The inner sanctum will be fancy, artful even, and roomy with lots of wood ornaments. Among Arez's personal prisoner is the famous writer Gonimas Hirrenfort who's been missing for 5 years now, but quite happy where he is (see Minions and Contacts 2 in Part 3 for details).

The lair is surprisingly unprotected right now, as everyone is quite busy with helping the dragon getting healthy again (who is very demanding and unforgiving about the whole affair, of course) and protecting the borders of the territory as some of Arez's more clever enemies already start making moves testing those borders (see Final Notes). Still, there are traps, the dragon is hidden in a secret room with most of his treasure and there are still some guards left in the dungeon.

Noteworthy Treasure

Let it be known that random treasure generation with the D&D RC is detailed enough to threaten a brain aneurysm ... Anyway, here we are, the dragon's hoard:
  • Coins: 85.000 sp, 20.000 ep, 60.000 gp and 11.000 pp [preferrably in one huge pile to sleep on]
  • Gems (as per p. 226, D&D RC): 50 gp (3 gems), 1.000 gp (9 gems), 5.000 gp (6 gems), 10.000 (3 gems) and 1 fairly small diamond worth 5.000 gp [those are mixed with the coins]
  • Jewelry (as per p. 227, D&D RC): 2 anklets (2.500 gp and 3.000 gp); 5 bracelets (500 gp, 2 x 1.000 gp, 1.500 gp and 3.000 gp); 1 brooch (1.500 gp); 2 buckles (500 gp and 3.000 gp); 5 chains (500 gp, 2 x 1.000 gp and 2 x 1.500 gp); 1 clasp (3.000 gp); 2 lockets (2.500 gp and 3.000 gp) // 4 armbands (4.000 gp, 7.500 gp and 2 x 10.000 gp); 3 collars (4.000 gp, 7.500 gp and 10.000 gp); 6 earrings (4.000 gp, 4 x 5.000 gp and 10.000 gp); 3 four-leave clovers (4.000 gp, 5.000 gp and 7.500 gp); 5 hearts (2 x 4.000 gp, 2 x 7.500 gp and 10.000 gp); 6 leaves (4.000 gp, 2 x 7.500 gp and 3 x 10.000); 3 necklaces (4.000 gp and 2 x 5.000 gp) // 1 amulet (25.000 gp); 2 orbs (15.000 gp and 20.000 gp); 2 diadems (25.000 gp and 30.000 gp); 1 nonmagical ring (40.000 gp); 2 scepters (25.000 gp and 30.000 gp); 1 talisman (20.000 gp); 2 tiaras (15.000 gp and 20.000 gp) [he likes to look at those instead of lying on them, so they will be arranged in sight]
  • Special Treasure: "The Awkward Reluctance of the Elf Maiden" by Gonimas Hirrenfort (book, 133 (en), 120 gp in the normal market, but up to 1d50 times that much for a collector and with proof that it's from Hirrenfort) and "Ugly Gnome Gentlemen in Strange Situations", a  collection of short stories by Gonimas Hirrenfort (book, 147 (en), 1.000 gp but up to 1d20 times that much for a collector and with proof that it's from Hirrenfort) [He owns several more popular books, but his taste in stories is rather questionable and all the other books aren't really worth carrying around, especially since most are really big, because dragon ...]
  • Magic Items: Girdle of Teleportation (works like Helm of Teleportation, see p. 240, D&D RC) [This one is bound like a ring around one of his right claws at all times. It's his back up plan and how he entered his secret cave!]
His hoard will contain way more things than what is described here. Pelts, tapestries, more books and paintings, all that jazz, but this is what is worth mentioning. If the creature's lair is detailed, it might make sense to have it filled with more stuff to steal, but this is enough for here. The total worth of this hoard would be 712.270 gp (without the girdle or extra coin from collectors factored in) and that's already a lot.

Thoughts on Part 1

So that's a dragon in all its glory. The way it's set up a low level group should have a chance (and a couple of heart attacks) facing this creature and getting away with it. Although it's very unlikely that they'd actually kill it. And stealing from it might be another stupid idea with lots of repercussions. But who am I to tell players that :)

Part 2 will mainly be about minions, contacts and enemies of the creature with some adventure hooks to get the adventurers in trouble (I originally planned to have all in one post, but it wouldn't stop growing). It'll feature a senile but competent poisoner and some mean goblin tribe going by the name Blackear Kneesnappers, among other strange things.

Ideally this is an NPC that will be around for a long time. Introducing it early in the game for the characters to dupe could make for an excellent campaign villain, for instance. But there is a variety of options to use this critter somewhere in your game. Even just as a story.

And finally: random H treasures are a pain in the neck to make. I hope someone out there appreciates that level of detail ...

Anyway, I hope this is already somewhat useful and illustrates what I was talking about the other day. More of the same in Part 2, maybe as early as end of next week, but definitely the next post I'll make here. Comments and suggestions are, as always, very welcome. And please tell me if it gave you an idea or two for your games!


  1. Wow. I hope you get sick more often :-)

    Well, I don't know what the Cyclopedia says about potion creation, but in the game I'm designing I would get a cleric, a druid and a wizard together around a cauldron to whip up a huge potion combining Cure Disease with Sleep - a potion known throughout the realm as Knyghtquil. The villainous duke hires the PC's to deliver it to the dragon and then hires a group of NPCs to sneak in there after the PCs have left to clean out the dragon's horde, pinning the theft on the PCs. The rest of the adventure is spent with the PC's having to deal with a very angry (yet now healthy) green dragon and then eventually having to track down and steal back the treasure for the dragon.

    1. Yeah, well, I thought I'd try my hand at adventure writing, so thanks! And "No, thanks!" to having a bronchitis any time soon :) I don't need that one anymore ... Would have to check about how potions are made in the RC, but what you propose should work very well in D&D, too. And I really like the heist routine you describe. Poor players :) I have something different in mind, but would quote you in part 2 as an alternate approach.

    2. I thought about this again today while sitting in traffic.
      A sick green dragon blowing snot?
      That's probably where green slime comes from.

      Just a thought. A very gross thought :-)

    3. Another great adventure seed! "Find the source of the green slime plague that's destroying the forest ..." Follow the trail of snot :-D

  2. LOve it .
    It reminds me of the old Castle Greyhawk module in all of the very best ways.. Dead goblin glued to the wall by sick Green Dragon Phlegm... now that's an image!

    1. Thanks, Mark! You know, I'm 100% sure I saw something like that goblin glued to the wall in a movie or tv show or something. But I just can't find it (it's not Ghostbusters ...) and googling "slimed guy movie" doesn't help either ... my Google Fu failed me.

  3. I can imagine googling "slimed guy movie" is a rabbit hole I don't want to go down.

    1. Still want to know what movie that was, though ...