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September 25, 2012, 6:11 pm

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Cheka Man
axlerowes

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10 Dragon Lairs, Denizens & Hoards

By:

A grab-bag of draconic goodness, ready to plug into a variety of settings from Steam-Punk to Modern to Fantasy.

1. Airship Lair: This battle-ready zeppelin has been refurbished to suit the needs of a portly brass dragon, who won it in a bet several years ago. The top-deck has been stripped of furnishings and most of the walls have been removed, leaving a cavernous interior that the dragon fondly refers to as the "captain's quarters". The gondola hanging underneath the airship boasts room for twenty humanoid crew-members, along with the galley and general mess hall.

Entrance/Exit: humans usually enter the airship at dock through the lower deck, passing through the crew-members' living space. From there, they can either use a pulley-operated lift through the center of the zeppelin to reach the dragon's commode, or can take the emergency ladders off the side (a vertigo-inducing experience). The dragon, of course, can fly directly into its quarters through a retractable awning. It likes to leave it open on clear days, so that it can gaze out over the landscape.

Defenses: The airship comes equipped with front, rear and side-mounted gun turrets, six in total. It is capable of hitting an enemy airship from almost any angle, though its primary weakness is directly below (where the gun turrets can't target effectively). However, a fleet of 5 mini-fliers can be deployed to protect its airspace, should the need arise. All twenty crew-members have at least rudimentary combat training, and some are quite skilled with sword and pistol. And of course, there's the dragon itself . . .

Hoard: The entirety of the upper deck is stuffed with maps. Maps hang on the walls, lay piled on tables, or are rolled into the thousands of cubbies that the dragon had installed. The dragon keeps all kinds of maps -- treasure maps, ancient maps, maps of other realms and planes of existence. Many are one-of-a kind, or contain secrets that no library in the world has access to. Thankfully, the dragon is quite willing to bargain for access to his hoard. One simply has to serve a term of service aboard the dragon's ship as a crew-member (the length of contract to be determined by how valuable the map is). Don't expect to sell your copy, though. The dragon is quite capable of enchanting a map so only the bearer can read it. No sense in letting a good secret go to waste.

2. Pawnshop: Why waste your time hunting for treasures when you can let them come to you? This modern-day rust dragon resides in the largest pawn shop in Chicago, where he has been accumulating priceless junk for well over 100 years. Though he took human form in the early years to wheel and deal with the best, the dragon is now content to let his hand-picked human operators run the business. The pawn shop's employees are largely unaware that their employer is a dragon; all they know is that they get a bonus for bringing in an item good enough for the boss' "personal collection". Behind the counter is a trapdoor that leads down a flight of stairs into a cozy underground cavern that the dragon dug himself. The dragon spends most of his days here slumbering or caring for his collection. The cavern is dimly lit by a few flickering fluorescent bulbs, and the room is occasionally shaken by a passing subway.

Entrance/Exit: There are two entrances to the storefront (the shop door and the rear loading dock), and one entrance to the cavern below (the trapdoor behind the counter). The dragon has also excavated a hidden tunnel that connects his lair to the subway network in case he needs to flee.

Defenses: All pawnshop clerks are trained to use the shotgun behind the counter, and carry personal .9mm handguns on their person at all times. The dragon has lost many valuable finds over the years to robbery, and has ceased relying on Chicago's finest to protect his hoard.

Hoard: An eclectic mix of jewelry, undiscovered paintings, original Coca-Cola memorabilia (the dragon is very fond of the logo), and national treasures. Most items would sell at auction for 10 grand or more; some pieces are valued in the millions. In other words, it's a "picker's paradise".

3. Labyrinth: Preferring guile to raw combat ability, this black dragon ensconced itself on a deserted, rocky mountain centuries ago. In the beginning, it raided the surrounding towns for slave labor to build its impressive mountain fortress. The mountain is now covered from base to crown with a massive labyrinth, all natural features long since carved away. At the very top of the mountain lies the dragon’s golden hoard -- a vast wealth that tempts the foolhardy from all over the world into the labyrinth. Few ever return.

Entrance/Exit: There is only one way into the labyrinth: the massive gateway at the front. It stands unguarded and has no warnings posted, save for the twin statues on either side. Two massive angels stand as if bound to the posts, faces twisted in fear and pain.

Defenses: The labyrinth stands as a test for all who enter. It is nearly unnavigable, and the walls are often changed around by several nests of rock gnomes that the dragon has cultivated. If a hero makes it through before dying of thirst or hunger, he is allowed to challenge the dragon to a test of wits or combat. The reward is set as a single piece of the dragon’s hoard.

Hoard: A massive pile of glittering gold, jewels and other treasures. Typical fare, really. It lies exposed at the very top of the mountain, however, where it gleams enticingly in the sunlight. The golden glow of the treasure is visible from miles away, and has given the mountain a legendary reputation.

4. Fairy Glen: A secluded glade, deep within an enchanted forest. There is a cozy dry cave to one side, where the young dragon makes its bed, and the entire clearing is bordered with a ring of giant red mushrooms. Flowers and ferns carpet the ground, and several exotic trees stand with faces seemingly carved into their trunks. Butterflies float lazily through the golden sunlight that filters through the trees, lending the entire glade a magical feel.

Entrance/Exit: None really. You can approach this glade from any side, but you will have to step through the ring of giant mushrooms to enter. Many common folk have superstitions about fairy rings, and one of this size might be especially dangerous . . .

Defenses: See Hoard.

Hoard: This young dragon is unusual in that it has chosen a living hoard. It has ranged far in its half-century of life, capturing fey of all types and bringing them back to its glen. There is no real pattern to the mix: you’ll find will o’ wisps next to dryads; grigs, nixies and nymphs; satyrs, leprechauns, pixies and even a few elves. The dragon seems to feel an overwhelming desire to catch them all, in order to complete its collection. Controlling all of the fey is no mean feat, and it is often all the dragon can do to keep them from escaping. Thankfully, the ring of mushrooms provides a barrier that few of his captives can cross without permission. Not all of the fey are at odds with the dragon; he works very hard to befriend them, in fact. Many of them would rise to the dragon’s defense, if he were threatened.

5. Gladiator’s Ring: Sgt. Michaels is perhaps over-fond of telling travelers how the local garrison came upon a wounded dragon, and managed to imprison it. Their weapons were ineffective against the beast’s diamond-hard hide, so they instead overwhelmed the beast with buckets of water that quenched its weakened flames (losing no fewer than half their number in the attempt). Afterwards, they chained the beast to an immovable stone and would have left it to rot were it not for the greed of the city council. They sensed an immense opportunity in the captive dragon, and ordered a gladiator’s ring to be built around the beast. And so the dragon has laired in his prison for ten long years, with naught to eat but the flesh of the dangerous or foolhardy, come to challenge it to mortal combat.

Entrance/Exit: The lair is set up like an outdoor theater, with many entrances and exits for the weekly crowd of onlookers. There is a main gate, through which large or exotic beasts are brought in occasionally.

Defenses: The dragon has been chained to the very center of the ring, and its tether allows it a roaming radius of 50 feet. It is always hungry, and flies into an insane rage at the slightest provocation. The stands have been built well back from the reach of its flames, but an inner corral of metal ensures that the combatants have no such luxury. Random boulders and other debris have been scattered across the floor to provide cover. Additionally, there are guardsmen who try to ensure that only registered combatants (either criminals or fortune seekers) can get through to the inner circle.

Hoard: The dragon has had to make do with what it can scavenge over the past decade. Besides the weapons and armor of the dead (if they are at all valuable), the dragon has also collected every bit of jewelry from the bodies of the slain, and every spare coin that has been hurled at it by drunken spectators. The sum of wealth, while not much by dragon standards, has come to be known as the “dragon’s lottery”. The mayor of the city has declared that anyone who manages to slay the dragon gets to keep the entire hoard, thus ensuring a steady stream of desperate or foolhardy contestants to entertain the crowd. The city council makes a killing on the tickets, of course.

6. The Patron’s Palace: Over the past several centuries, no single force has shaped all of Art as much as the Patron. The Patron lives in a mansion designed by none other than Hugo de la Rothcherre, an architect who rose to international prominence several centuries ago. The Patron is always watching the current trends in artwork through his network of informants (mainly art professors and a few connoisseurs), and will arrange for the kidnapping of the most promising young up-and-coming artists. As an mature red dragon, the Patron has little trouble “convincing” the newcomers to produce several original works of art for his private collection. Those who manage to please the beast are then allowed to leave; the others are slain. There is an upside, however. Being captured and released by the Patron practically guarantees the career of any young artist, so it’s actually a highly desirable fate.

Entrance/Exit: When Hugo was captured by the dragon early in its career, it was an infuriating experience for the young architect (who was rather hot-tempered). So, while he designed a palace of special magnificence, he also included several secret passages and hidden doorways that the dragon has yet to discover. While he was forced to destroy all his blueprints before leaving the palace, Hugo reconstructed them from memory (in secret, lest the dragon find and destroy him). Those blueprints were gifted to his successor, lost in a bet, nearly destroyed in a fire, and have since disappeared.

Defenses: The whole place is covered with sophisticated alarms and traps, to stun and capture the unwary. The Patron likes to maintain human form for the most part, and so also employs a whole entourage of servants, including guards to patrol the grounds. Oh, and good luck even finding the Grand Exhibition Hall without an escort.

Hoard: The Grand Exhibition Hall hosts hundreds of original, never-before-seen artwork by some of the most famous names in art history. And, because so many of his victims become world-renowned artists later in life, the dragon’s hoard only increases in value over time.

7. The Great Tree: Only the dragon knows from whence she procured a viable twig of the Tree of Life, or what it cost her to coax it to root within the forest floor of her home – such things never come without a price. Yet root it did, and the dragon has spent the past millennium tending to her prize. Under her care, the sapling became a tree of special magnificence, easily twice as tall as any other tree in her forest home, and twice as wide at the base as the average house. Carefully, so carefully, the dragon dug out a large burrow underneath the tree's roots and lined the walls with treasure that she deemed too common or damaged to be part of her main hoard.

Entrance/Exit: The dragon spends most of her time in the branches of her tree, using the burrow below mainly for treasure storage and sleeping. As such, there is only one way in and out. The lowest branches of the tree are still 30 feet above the ground, but the bark is so rough that it can act as a natural ladder.

Defenses: Realizing that the tree was vulnerable to scaling from below, the dragon planted and carefully maintains several species of vine that wrap around the lower trunk. These range from the mundane (thorny brambles and poison ivy) to the fantastic (vines with flowers that release sleeping powder or shoot darts that induce powerful hallucinations). If the would-be climber makes it past this gauntlet to the first of the great branches, he will then have to contend with the denizens that the dragon has encouraged to nest there. Wasps and bees of incredible size, rare and dangerous birds and even a few pixies and sprites. The more valuable the fruit on a given branch is, the higher up it is generally grafted, and the more dangerous the nests on that branch.

Hoard: The dragon did not choose her tree by happenstance. Once it had rooted well, she wasted no time grafting branches of other trees to its trunk, relying on the magic of the Tree of Life to sustain them. In the early days, she ranged far to find samples of rare and magical trees to add to her collection – golden apples, cherries that cure any illness, pears that can feed a crowd of thousands from one piece. There are hundreds of varieties to choose from, including some that are long extinct in the world at large. Now, however, the dragon prefers to deal with those who come seeking one of the tree's fruits. She will normally send the caller on a quest to find a new branch for her tree, though she may also trade for other things to fulfill her own inscrutable purposes.

8. The Jewelled Corpse: In an age where magic has faded and fantastic beasts are remembered only in legend, the very last dragon toils against the fate of his kind. Far away from the microscopes and the prying minds of humanity, a vast corpse rests on the desert sands. Piece by piece, the ancient beast has assembled it from the bones and scales of his ancestors, until the entire thing resembles a macabre quilt stretched over a gaping ribcage. The dragon has bound his own soul into the work, and has pulled together nearly every scrap of magic remaining in this unbelieving world to knit it all together. Shadows of muscle, tissue and blood rise in nearly tangible workings. It is very nearly complete.

Entrance/Exit: The corpse is approachable from almost all sides, though one would have to choose whether to sneak down the side of a mountain or approach from the open desert.

Defenses: The dragon has largely relied on the terrain to keep his work safe. He has hidden it in the lee of a mountain range, smack dab in the middle of the most inhospitable desert on the planet. There is little of value to attract mortal attention to his domain, and the dragon has been secure in obscurity for the past several centuries. Still, he has not left everything to chance. Nearly all of his magic is bound up in his work, but the dragon has still dug out pit traps and created other terrain defenses to slow an invader down. The dragon will repel any incursion with extreme prejudice, though he may seem to welcome visitors at first (long enough to gauge the threat and kill them when they least expect it). He will use all of his ancient cunning to prevent even one witness from escaping to tell tales.

Hoard: Dragon bones and scales are mostly curiosities on the market these days, but there are some knowledgeable buyers who seek them as a source of residual power or ritual focus. However, there is one prize that even the most modern treasure hunter would kill for: the Heart of Tiamat, a ruby the size of a Volkswagen Beetle that is the focus of all the dragon's work. The dragon believes that the Heart will begin to beat once his work is complete, giving rise to a new era for dragon-kind when the great mother dragon rises once again from the desert floor.

9. Clockwork City: Stormhaven was once the wonder of the mechanized world – a clockwork city that could run itself, right down to the mechanized chimney sweeps. It's engineering was so perfect, its streets and buildings so precise and colorful, that eventually it attracted exactly the wrong sort of attention. Mad geniuses of every stripe came in droves to either see what they could learn, or to prove their own superiority through attempted conquest. Eventually the city council tried to mitigate the damage by creating a contest to be run once a year, granting the winner the prestigious (and largely ceremonial) title of Mayor of Stormhaven. After that, things went swimmingly for several decades. Eventually, the contest proved to be Stormhaven's downfall, largely due to the exuberance of one of the contestants (who brings a life-sized clockwork dragon to a science fair?!).

Entrance/Exit: After flushing out all of the fleshy meat-creatures hiding in its new domain, the dragon settled into the city and established its dominance over all the lesser mechanized beings. Stormhaven bent to its will, and shut all its gates and barred all its sewers. No entry may be gained except through force (which will alert the city defenses) or through air drop (which is inadvisable given the dragon).

Defenses: All lesser mechs have been permitted to carry out their former functions, provided that they also respond to an invasion. The chimney sweeps may sweep chimneys at precisely five past noon, but they will ALSO wield the whirling brooms of death at any meat-bag foolish enough to show its face during their shift. The trick, then, is in timing an invasion just right; preferably when the most dangerous units are scheduled for their daily maintenance, or are due in another part of the city. The dragon itself has been programed to emulate a real dragon most impressively, and it will behave in a manner stereotypical for dragons (except that it keeps to a very, very precise schedule when rampaging). An adversary could probably count on it to do “exactly what a dragon would do”(™) given the circumstances -- no surprises.

Hoard: The city itself is a prize worth fighting for, as whomever controls it also controls several major shipping lanes and a magnificent port. There are also countless people who would pay for the chance to return to their homes and businesses. Finally, there is the matter of all the gold left within the vaults of the city's many banks (which the dragon has now piled within City Hall). It spends every day from noon to 5:30 polishing, weighing and counting its collection. It even “sleeps” on it at night (“just like a real dragon” ™).

10. Doll House: Long, long ago a wounded vampire came across a clutch of recently hatched dragonlings while on the run from a renowned vampire hunter. Crazed with hunger, the vampire fell upon the hatchlings, draining each within a few seconds. He had just started on the last when the mother returned and promptly squashed him to a pulp. Unfortunately, the dragonling succumbed to the vampirism several days later. Trapped in a body no larger than a house cat, with its mind and instincts likewise unable to mature, the little dragon relied entirely on its mother for 10 long years. Eventually though, she sought a new home for her child. She dropped the cat-sized dragonling on the roof of the palace and took wing, leaving it to fend for itself. Since then, the tiny dragon has taken up residence in the Princess’s doll house -- a lavish structure the size of a small cottage, with over a dozen elaborately decorated rooms.

Entrance/Exit: The doll house was created to be accessible, with access panels to all of the rooms. The dragon, however, has sealed off the human access to the main dining room and uses it for its sleeping quarters.

Defenses: The dragonling has been using its vampiric powers to completely dominate the young princess’ mind. She probably doesn’t even realize that there is a dragon in there, in truth, but will still act to keep others from investigating it too closely. The little dragon has also created a small force of ghoulish servants -- mostly mice, rats and a few cats -- to provide a regular source of nourishment and a last line of defense against an invader to its tiny realm.

Hoard: Using the dominated princess to full advantage, the dragonling has garnered an impressive little hoard. There is expensive jewelry (which the princess can’t remember stealing), a few magic items that were originally commissioned for the princess’ own protection, and hundreds of random coins and expensive baubles. Additionally, the doll house itself is stuffed ever-fuller with expensive miniatures as the nobles strive to garner favor by catering to the princess’ well-known obsession with the thing.



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Comments ( 20 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Dossta
September 25, 2012, 18:11
0xp
Update: This was originally going to be a 30, but it got too darn long. I'll eventually figure out if I should post the rest in subsequent submissions, or just update this one. Doll House idea inspired by this: http://www.msichicago.org/whats-here/exhibits/fairycastle/
Voted Mourngrymn
September 25, 2012, 19:22
0xp
2 and 7 thus far are my favorites, will update my vote when it is complete but so far I enjoy the read.
Dossta
September 26, 2012, 11:46
1xp
I was actually hoping it could be judged as a complete submission right now. The word count is already pretty high up there, and making someone slog through 30 of these in one go seemed a bit sadistic :P
Voted Murometz
September 25, 2012, 21:52
5xp
Super-solid!

Basically, 10 one-night mini-campaigns for the dragon-lovers. I also like the quick-and-neat, Entrance/Exit, Defenses, Hoard format. everything you need to know, and easily malleable.

If you do more of these, I would *love* to see a few less 'high-fantasy' dragons and more 'dark', bizarre, and unconventional types.

really like 5, 7, and 8!
Dossta
September 26, 2012, 11:48
0xp
Glad the format works!
Voted valadaar
September 26, 2012, 10:33
0xp
I think this one _is_ complete as it stands, though there is always room for more.

It has more content then many complete '30's I have seen in the past.
Mourngrymn
September 26, 2012, 11:46
0xp
I whole heartily agree, however the title states it has plans to be a 30... and I can't wait for the rest of them to be added as I enjoy them a lot.
Voted Strolen
September 26, 2012, 12:30
0xp
2 and 6 were my favorites. Great list, 10 is plenty to work with and leaves it open for some great additions by others!
Voted axlerowes
September 26, 2012, 20:44
1xp
This is horribly horribly good, each once could-should be a short story. In fact if you hadn't been published, i would suggest expanding on this, a collection of short stories about you ten dragons. You are wasting this on this site. You cover, sci-fi, steam punk, modern fantasy, crime fiction, classic high fantasy and so on. Really I think you could do a lot with this, i would buy the book, and if I was publisher I would commission this based on the this treatment. Thank you for writing this. Seriously talk to illustrator this would make a great comic as well.

I dig the Zepplin, and the pawnshop based on their literal use of dragons and scenery. The last three, really change tones, you move away form the giant powerful magical beasts and into other realizations of the dragon mythos. Damn you this is good, I would join the dragon guild but I am not sure I could keep up.
Dossta
September 27, 2012, 11:40
0xp
You flatter me, sir. I would very much like to get published one day, but haven't figured out what I want to write yet -- gaming stuff or novels/stories. Comments like this are very encouraging, so thank you for taking the time to read my work. :)
axlerowes
September 26, 2012, 20:48
0xp

One thing, chicago doesn't have a subway

Dossta
September 27, 2012, 11:41
0xp

It doesn't? Wikipedia told me that the Chicago 'L' has portions that are below ground . . .  Either way, the pawnshop would probably work out in New York just as easily.

Strolen
September 27, 2012, 14:36
0xp
Technically it is the "L" and it is elevated...more or less. But it goes under occasionally, if only into darkness in many cases. I grew up there and memory is fog as you take some things for granted.
Voted caesar193
September 26, 2012, 21:29
6xp
This should be a cartography guild sub, not the dumb strolenatis! Its got the whole flavor of cartography- maps, Here There Be Dragon signs, and maps. Anyway, great 10. One question- for the Labyrinth, why couldn't somehow just fly over the maze? The simplest thing would be to put a ceiling on it, but you said that people could see the glint of the gold, which means there's a hole in the ceiling. You could have the dragon kill the "cheaters," but for me that doesn't match the dragon's- someone who spent the time to make a giant maze- character and personality.
Mourngrymn
September 26, 2012, 22:04
5xp
I realize it wasn't stated but if I were to use this I would think of a strong, gale force wind that kept flying creatures other than the dragon from flying above the maze. Possibly a darkened cloud that is always present that strikes would be flyers and cheaters out of the sky with lightning, tornados, and the like.
Voted Cheka Man
September 27, 2012, 23:18
0xp
I liked 7 and 8 best.
Voted Phaidros
March 14, 2013, 5:42
0xp
Simply fantastic! Hope you make 20 more of these great and original lairs!
Voted Dozus
February 3, 2014, 7:33
0xp
Great detail and diversity.
Voted Silveressa
April 18, 2014, 1:40
0xp
Nice diverse list, and can be used in Shadow Run with a touch of modification. It also has wider use with simply replacing dragon with "pirate base" or "rebel strong hold" for post apocalypse and other settings.
Voted Kassy
June 21, 2014, 4:52
0xp
This is a good list Dossta! Well done :)

Have a 5, and I'll chuck in a Golden for good measure! Which also clears my list of Golden subs to vote and comment upon.


Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

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In the far reaches of a long-lost wilderness, there stands a forgotten town inhabited only by children. Though they appear normal enough, their eyes burn with madness, and they speak in a foreign, archaic tongue. Nearly a millenia ago, a powerful spell had gone awry, or maybe it had succeeded - in any case, it ended up blessing, or cursing, an entire generation of children with agelessness. However, as the centuries passed, the children's parents grew old and died, the buildings of the town crumbled to earth, and even the civilization itself faded into history, becoming lost to time. All that remained were the children, driven mad by the psychological toll of living for hundreds of years beyond their age. In time, most children died, killed off by fighting amongst themselves, while many others were driven to suicide. Only a small handful remain, and they are a strange people indeed.

Ideas  ( Locations ) | January 12, 2008 | View | UpVote 2xp


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