"That damn priest," thought the Dragon, his thoughts playing back to the oddly long struggle with what should have been easy prey.
When most priests would have been up in the thick of it, laying on hands and whatnot, this one held back, singing odd songs. It took longer to dispatch them, and the priest had had one last surprise. While devouring the unarmoured priest, he bit something unexpectedly hard. He spit out part of a tooth and a horseshoe. Why was he carrying of those?
Since then, bad luck hung like an aura around him. Adventurers taking wrong turns away from his lair, some of his Wyverns getting lost while hunting, terrible weather, and finally this unending cold. Several parties of useless adventurers had tried to find a cure, but either gave up, got lost or met other fates.
So, apparently a god had it in for him. Now what?
The dragon was able to determine that it was The God of Small Things that he offended. Knowing that he could not destroy a divinity, even one as ‘weak’ as Arkon, he sought instead to make amends and free himself from his curse of bad luck.
His wyvern servants managed to find another priest of Arkon and brought the priest before him. After long negotiation, the dragon convinced the priest to help him. Casting an augury using various random odds and ends, the cleric told the dragon a long tale regarding Chard’s Folly.
Chards Folly is the name for the Farrier’s nail and horseshoe that had loosened through Arkons intervention, resulting in General Chard’s defeat and execution. After the battle was lost, and Chard gave his confession, a priest of Arkon was sent to the site to recover the nail, for surely it was a powerful relic. After months of searching, sifting, praying, and undoubtably, cursing, the correct farrier’s nail and horseshoe were found. This relic is considered the single most important relic of the Farrian sect of Arkon - the usual holy symbol of this sect is either a ring crafted from farrier’s nails, or a horseshoe. The original nail still holds a touch of Arkon’s power and the bearer gains the ability to call down Arkon’s favour on occasion. As the God of Small Things, this favour is very minor, being no more then what a mouse-sized being could generally accomplish. A strap could be cut, writing smeared, a candle snuffed, etc.
The price for the god’s forgiveness was for this relic to be returned to the Farrian sect. After the priest left, the dragon then bent his mind towards finding the god’s trinkets. Still of frail health, he would need others to help him, someone smarter then his wyverns.
Enter the PCS.
This short adventure is broken into five main parts and is of a rather linear nature.
The Offer Contacted by the wyverns (or an intermediary), who provided a token gem the value of a warhorse, the PCs meet with the dragon who will explain his predicament. He will offer the PC’s a reward in return for their bringing him the relics - Chards Folly.
Vendawan Acting on information provided by the Dragon, the PCs attempt to contact the odd and reclusive mage for the secret to bypass a dangerous trap guarding the relics.
Harad Wood With secrets revealed, or bravely pressing on without them, the PCs now need to traverse Harad Wood to get to the Crypt. There they will encounter the odd being Quidly before reaching their destination.
The Crypt The tomb of a lost Ophidian priest, it is guarded by a lethal trap. The PCs had best be prepared or face crushing defeat.
The Return Relics in hand, the PCs make their way back to the Dragon, to return the Relic and attempt to claim their reward…
Additional Ideas (6)
Act I: The Offer
Never dice with a dragon, and to deal with one is dangerous as well. Fortunately, this dark beast is both sick and desperate, so the dealing is less one-sided. He will meet the PC's in his false lair - earthen piles covered in a thin layer of coins, and various items dressed up by minor magics. His true lair will have been blocked off by tons of earth piled there by him and his servants. He will not reveal the true lair intentionally. The Dragon will offer up to the choice of his horde per pc, but if can get away with less, he will try, starting with 'his gratitude'. However, there are plenty of adventurers in the world, so they had best be deferential to him. He may be sick, but still is a dragon, and his wyverns could be a serious problem as well.
The task is simple - retrieve Chards Folly and bring it back. He will not elaborate on why he needs the item, other then to repay a debt. The Dragon has the following information available:
1. The relic provides good luck to the bearer, along with the ability to manipulate small events.
2. The relic was stolen from the nearby church of Arkon.
3. The relic was last located inside a mysterious crypt in Harad Wood, brought in by the thief who never returned.
4. The crypt is guarded by a dangerous trap which seemed nearly impossible to bypass (at least for his wyverns).
5. The dragon knows of someone who might know how to bypass it, a mage by the name of Vendawan. Vendawan is a scholar of the ancient cult, known as the Sha-Guthroians, which built the crypt, 6. This mage lives nearby in a well known estate. Additional information could be provided at GM's discretion, but the PCs best watch out extending the negotiations and cross examination.
Complication : As soon as the PC's accept employment with the dragon they will begin to suffer the effects of Arkon's disfavor. Arkon has no intention of making the retrieval of the artifacts easy, for the dragon, or his proxies. If they think of it, taking appropriate actions to appease Arkon themselves would greatly help them and could alleviate the effects. Otherwise, they will frequently be subjected to minor misfortunes at times which could make them members. See Table 1 for suggested misfortunes.
If they continue to interact with the Dragon after closing the deal, they could end up provoking a possibly deadly conflict. Assuming the PC's survive the encounter, and are his employ, the PCs either seek the aid of Vendawan or perhaps hurry towards Harad Wood directly..
Act 2: Vendawan
This eccentric mage had a great interest in the forgotten sect of the Ophidians, and has in his possession a prayer book which describes the necessary patterns. All the PCs need to do is convince him to let they at least look at it. Generally, Vendawan is reasonable and accommodating, so long as they let him at least examine whatever they loot from the tomb, he will be more then happy to allow them access to the book. However... Vendawan's domicile is well known to the townspeople of his village, and PCs will find it easy to obtain directions. They will of course also be warned that today is not a good day to bother him
Complication: When the PCs arrive, the mage is deep in the middle of one of his more dangerous experiments. As a result, magical defenses to deter visitors (illusions, non-lethal traps, etc) have been set out by his assistants. If the PCs wish to see him, they need either to somehow convince the extremely reluctant staff, or bypass these defenses to see him. If the PCs are unnecessarily destructive, then Vendawan will have nothing to do with the PCs, possibly teleporting them somewhere inconvenient.
It is possible - especially with Arkon's Disfavor, that the PCs will somehow disrupt the experiment in the process of contacting Vendawan. GMs are encouraged to be creative with the possible outcomes in this event.
The book is written in ancient script, and has no pictures. The PC's will need to translate it in some manner - perhaps with Vendawan's assistance. Translation errors could be dangerous... He will not allow the PCs to take the book with them.
Of course Arkon's disfavor could wreck any of the negotiations.
At least one of the pages of the book is damaged, missing or wrong. Vendawan is quite knowledgeable about many things, and could perhaps advise the PCs to petition Arkon to clear his disfavor. He does not have personal knowledge of the Crypt apart from knowing that the creation of the crypt and it's expensive defenses served to cripple the local cult and led to it's eventual downfall. He will not accompany the PCs - his current line of experimentation is important and is tied to celestial alignments.
Act 3: Harad Wood
This wild forest is largely shunned by humanity. There are legends of dangerous creatures, wild and fae, who haunt the mostly oaken forest. In truth, it is indeed the home of unfriendly Folk - no less the four separate Queendom's exist within the boughs. These realms have no precise borders and conflicts between the queens are commonplace.
It is in one of these border regions that the Crypt lies, in an area claimed by two queens, but controlled by neither. Instead, a rogue fae by the name of Quidly holds court, attended to by swarms of unusually intelligent selvaks.
Once a courtier of Queen Illsithia, Quidly was caught stealing from her. As punishment his shape-shifting abilities were shorn from him and instead he was forced into the form of a were-selvak. Banished as well, he retreated to one of the contended zones on the border of Illsitha's lands and took command of a group of selvaks in that area.
The selvaks posed little danger to most of the Folk, but have made life difficult for several villages of Glen Gnomes who live nearby. Now with Quidly leading them, the selvak ambushes have been more deadly and more then a couple of gnomes have been killed by the Selvaks. The Gnome's requests for aid from Queen Illsithia have been mostly ignored - she pays little attention to her duties as a queen - and the gnomes are bitter and resentful. If the PCs happen across the Gnomes, the Gnomes will attempt to make peaceful contact and then request aid against the selvaks. The Gnomes are aware of the location of the crypt and would be more then happy to help the PC's find the best route there if they help them against the Selvaks.
The Selvak lair is high above the ground in the boughs of oaks of unusual size. If attacked in force, the selvaks will retreat to their tree home. There they will engage the PCs in hit and run tactics, leaping from branch to branch to avoid counter attack. PCs without special skills or magic in climbing trees will be at a distinct disadvantage, especially with Quidly using illusions. Quidly will use his illusions to create false branches, distract with phantom selvaks and to hide real ones. In addition, the ground beneath the lair is seeded with many simple traps (punji-sticks, deadfalls and snares). These cannot be easily bypassed as the selvaks do not travel on the ground here - anything that does is either an enemy or prey. If the PCs do not make contact with the gnomes, then they will be blundering around a dangerous forest, tripping into the different realms of the folk. They may be subject to simple harassment - which will be very similar to the effects of Arkon's disfavor- or direct attack by the folk. They could even be captured and brought before one of the Queens for judgment.
Complication : The Selvaks posed no danger to the Wyverns, and so will not have been reported by them to the Dragon. The Dragon is ignorant of the situation and politics in Harad Wood.
Act 4: The Crypt
The Crypt is quite a simple location - from the outside, this place appears as little but an overgrown earthen mound. After clearing away some of the vegetation, the PCs can find a small passage that leads inward into darkness. Not far inside is the first of the 10 Pegoran Doors, arranged similarly to the Hall of Gods in the main submission. In this case these doors are exceptionally thick, nearly 2' thick. Unlike the Hall of the Gods, these are used in a much more deadly way. The doors are spaced barely 2' apart, so the hallway, 20' long, is filled solid with the doors. As each is successfully opened, it rolls out of the way for about 30 seconds, and then rolls back. As a result, one must be able to quickly open each door or they will be crushed as the doors roll back - apart from the first door, there is no safe place to stand. Each door has 3-5 contact points among scores of glyphs which need to be contacted in the correct order to unlock.
If desired, the 3rd door will not open if the 1st door is held open. The thief Edreal was naturally unlucky - he had stolen Chard's Folly to offset fate's heavy hand. Through its influence and blind luck, he managed to make his way through the Pegoran Doors, but ran afoul of an additional obstacle. The burial chamber at the end of the Pegoran Doors is infested with a deadly crypt fungus. It can be avoided by powerful magics which grant immunity to poison, diseases or remove the need to breathe, or one can simply wear a cloth mask of some sort. Edreal took no such precautions and quickly fell to the deadly fungus. Spores cover every surface and are kicked up easily.
The chamber is simple and unadorned - the walls are carved stone with no carvings or details of note. In the center of the chamber is a similarly unadorned sarcophagus, still closed with a heavy stone lid. At its foot are the moldering remains of Edreal. Everything organic has been infested with the fungus, leaving little intact apart from a corroded dagger, a few buckles and Chard's Folly. Fishing through the remains will definitely subject the searcher to the spores. As for the sarcophagus, it contains naught but dust and spores - the remains have long since decayed away and the cult did not believe in burying items of value.
Complication : Replace the empty Sarcophagus with an undead creature of your choice.
Complication : Add a trap to the Sarcophagus itself - perhaps the room begins to fill with sand.
Act 5: Endgame
Assuming the PCs have managed to obtain the relics, they need to make their way back through Harad's wood and back to the Dragon's lair. With the relic in hand, they will find their luck changing - the bearer will not be subject to Arkons Disfavor, especially if it is actively used.
The final negotiation with the Dragon is perhaps the most hazardous point of the adventure - the Dragon will seek where possible to twist the wording of their agreement to get out of any payment. If the Dragon is out-negotiated, the PCs still will be selecting their 'prize' from his dummy treasure room, and so are unlikely to get much of value, but... Arkon is not done with the Dragon.
If the PCs have managed to be selecting their reward Before turning Chards Folly over, then during their selection, a minor cave-in will reveal a small opening to the true treasure room, a vision of wonder with shiny coins and glimmering gemstones. His treachery revealed, the PCs will need to handle the encounter carefully to avoid a dangerous battle with the Dragon and his wyverns. The PCs may be still be able to negotiate a peaceful settlement - the Dragon will be cautious until he holds the relic. Properly handled, each PCs should be able to get away with an item of great monetary value (or other item at GMs discretion, of course). On the other hand, if they turn the relic over prior too early, they will be roughly escorted out by the wyverns with scant opportunity to pick their reward. Discovering that the items are worthless at this stage (magic, skill, etc) could easily lead to a confrontation as well.
A series of Unfortunate Events
All of these events are more likely to occur where they will cause the most damage and disruption.
1. Buckle securing a saddle releases.
2. Sheath ceases up, slowing drawing of weapon.
3. Painful migraine headache arrives, temporarily impeding spells and most skills.
4. Important item dropped while in precarious position (while looking over bridge, etc).
5. Sparks from campfire carry unusually far, possibly causing a fire.
6. Horse rears, startled by a figment.
7. Critical component (key, spell component, spare bowstring) misplaced, taking longer to find.
8. Muscle spasms kick in, making precise efforts difficult.
9. Unfortunate flatulence.
10. Meat spoils, possibly causing food poisoning.
11. A comment made is misheard, badly.
12. Beverage spilled upon something non water-resistant (books, tinder, small fire, etc).
13. Important item is misused and breaks.
14. Bug swallowed or enters ear.
15. Stinging insect randomly stings someone.
16. Sudden rainstorm.
17. An attempt to gauge direction or distance fails, badly.
18. Laces on footwear comes undone.
19. Buckle on armor releases or ceases up.
20. Visor on helmet malfunctions and blocks vision.
CodexChards Folly ( Plots ) Mystical - Side-Quest
A simple mission for a Dragon, but of course, nothing is ever simple with Dragons.
Pegoran Doors ( Dungeons ) Any - Doors
"The Pegoran saw the circle as the link between this world and the next," the mage said. Before he could pontificate further, "So the door rolled in Raygar to send him to the next?" the rogue blathered, "What a mad peoples!"
Selvaks ( Lifeforms ) Fauna - Forest/ Jungle
While Selvaks have some resemblance to their timid and weaker cousins - squirrels, they are far from cute and fluffy.
The God of Small Things ( Systems ) Divine/ Spirit - Defining
For want of a nail a horse was lost
For want of a horse a rider was lost
For want of a rider a message was lost
For want of a message a battle was lost
For want of a battle a kingdom was lost…
Which serves as a warning not to get on the wrong side of the God of Smalll Things.
The Wheezing Dragon ( Plots ) Discovery - Side-Quest
Jaelric the Black, Shatterer of the Countryside isn’t feeling up to par. And he needs a little bit of help.
Vendawan ( NPCs ) Campaign - Mystical
An old, wise and learned wizard, he tends to forget more about the world than most people have learned, most often the most basic things.