The Sign of the Ruddy Dragon
Any adventurer worth his salt has heard of the famous alehouse, “Ye Ruddye Draggon” and its well-known proprietor, Gorty Brewmann. Found midway between the Old West Gate to the hinterlands and the King’s Highway, a more pleasant tavern would be hard to find. This landmark has hosted numerous noble scoundrels over the years and many a band of heroes met for the first time within the pub’s comfortable common room.
Ivy covers the stones of the ancient structure, obscuring all details but the building’s crimson shutters and the sign, a brightly painted red dragon. The smiling beast appears to be enjoying itself; with a flagon held in one claw, it breathes gilt fire into the air. A bundle of grain hanging from the sign reveals that fresh ale is available, as always. No man alive has ever seen Gorty Brewmann run short on ale!
Within the common room, crossed swords and monstrous trophy heads hang on the walls, trophies from some of the land’s greatest heroes. The roomy chamber is filled with comfortable benches and well-crafted tables, much as it has been since the tavern first opened its doors 32 years before, in the reign of King Gygax the Bald. The place is such a landmark, most folk expect it to be unchanged in another 32 years.
Unfortunately, they may be wrong.
The Draggon has a Problem
A few weeks ago, Gorty Brewmann hired a charming young barmaid that had just arrived at the city. Innocent and naïve, sweet Alysta charmed every man that saw her. Few could resist her pretty face framed by blonde hair, her gentle blue eyes or her soft voice. Unfortunately, she wasn’t what she appeared; Alysta is a succubus, a demonic evil intent on corrupting all around her. She rapidly ensnared the pub’s employees with a web of magic and has begun spreading her evil beyond its walls.
To add to the danger, her sister and rival, Damarre, has come to join her at the tavern. A vision of green eyes and blazing red hair (obviously dyed) in a tightly laced bodice, Damarre appears to be a ‘bad girl’. Quite a firebrand, she is apparently looking for adventure and rebelling against her sister’s ‘virginal’ ways.
The two succubi secretly compete to see which of them can first corrupt each of the men that they encounter: Which strategy is more successful? Sweet, innocent Alysta, or naughty, rebellious Damarre? Together they plan to drain the very lives from the men around them.
The Master of the House
Gorty Brewmann may be justly famous throughout the shire for his rich golden ale, but he is not known for his strong will. The enchantments of the wicked sisters have completely confused and bewildered the poor old brewer. Gorty still seems decisive and alert when it comes to most matters, but anything regarding his two new serving wenches leaves him distracted and unable to concentrate. Gorty doesn’t even remember what happened to their predecessors, Gelia and Samara, other than they quit and only gave him one day’s notice (The first victims of Alysta’s mind games, the girls quit suddenly to run away with a band of gypsy rogues the succubi have had as allies for quite some time).
Despite his befuddled state and advanced age, Gorty is still an imposing figure. Over six feet tall, he carries a fair amount of muscle from all those years of heaving barrels of ale up and down the steps of his tavern’s cool cellars. He greets his customers with a hearty smile under his impressive handlebar mustache.
In the Kitchen
In the kitchen, “Bully” Bolden prepares the simple fare offered by the pub. He was one of Alysta’s first victims, and his health is failing under her ‘loving’ attentions. Pale and shaking, he appears to be quite ill. Bully had been consumptive for quite some time; now that his health is weakened, the disease is asserting itself. Gorty has ordered him to stay in the kitchen when customers are around, as his constant wheezing and hacking coughs would be bad for business. Soon, he will join the ranks of Alysta’s ‘special’ victims in the cellars. If treatment is offered by some well-meaning healer, he will refuse it, claiming that there isn’t anything wrong with him, “It’s just a little irritation from the smoke in the kitchen, thank you very much.” Alysta gets perverse pleasure from convincing the poor man that it would be “womanly” to get help, even as his health falls to pieces. Bully is cadaverously pale and quite skinny; he is also completely enthralled by Alysta. If one of the girls needs a “fall guy”, he will quickly claim to be a necromancer and make menacing gestures that only vaguely resemble spellcasting. If the “guests” from the cellars stumble to the attack at the same time, however, his charade may be more convincing.
Guests of the House
The tavern’s employees all live in a few small rooms above the tavern’s common room. Although Gorty isn’t running an inn, he does occasionally rent out one of the spare rooms when he takes a liking to someone. Currently, both of these rooms are occupied. The first of the tavern’s guests is Rognvald Veissenauger, a massively muscled barbarian with long dark hair and an atrocious foreign accent. Rognvald has come to this land to seek out a band of his sworn shield-brothers that has gone missing. Not the most capable of investigators, he has run out of leads and has been forced to sell his armor to cover his debts. As most of his clothing is made of heavy furs and woolens more suitable for his sub-arctic homeland, he prefers to wear a simple loincloth while in the city. It hasn’t occurred to him that this may make him conspicuous. Rognvald has avoided the company of the tavern wenches thus far, causing them quite a bit of confusion; after he gets to know the adventurers, he may reluctantly reveal why (See below).
The second of the guests is a recent arrival, a traveling minstrel named Leigen. He claims to have Elvish blood, but this may be an affectation; he certainly doesn’t look elvish, with dark hair and bushy sideburns. Leigen is well skilled with his cittern, but he has atrocious taste in music. If there is some tune that his audience is guaranteed to detest, he will somehow get the urge to perform it. It’s not that can’t play or even compose skillfully, it’s just that he has alarmingly poor judgment. If it is conceivable, his taste in clothing is even worse, as he is fond of the gaudiest colors imaginable. It just doesn’t occur to him that other people find his taste appalling. Gorty hasn’t yet realized that Leigen’s poor performances of the last few nights were not flukes; when he does, Leigen is likely to be thrown out on his ear.
Alysta and her “sister” Damarre each have their own room. Alysta’s is cluttered with stuffed animals, drawings of rainbows and unicorns, and other such nonsense (stolen from one of her victims before she first arrived at the tavern). Damarre has let her room become a complete sty, with debris and filthy clothes flung about haphazardly. She also has several books lying about, each by a noted libertine or freethinker.
An Unfortunate Vintage
Down in the cellars, five additional “guests” are resting. A search will reveal that several barrels in the cellar have been filled with dirt. This soil is from holes that were recently dug under some of the barrels, holes that hold five rotting zombies. They are the remains of previous victims that the succubi decided wouldn’t be missed. The succubi have ordered them not to get caught, but if someone attempts to exhume them, they will attack him. The holes are packed with salt around the zombies, in a (vain) attempt to keep the smell down. The cellar smells rather unpleasant.
Things Go Wrong
The Ruddye Draggon is best used as a companion to other, more structured adventures. It can add flavor with seemingly minor encounters, until some of the main characters start dying and the succubi decide to move more directly against the heroes. There are a lot of things that can go wrong at the Ruddye Draggon, and the heroes may decide to help:
1.) The Sound of Music: Leigen, the tasteless bard, will strike up a popular song about the valiant rebels that stood up against King Gygax’s soldiery when they tried to increase taxes. Unfortunately, this occurs just a few minutes after a large group of old soldiers sit down. They’ve just been thrown out of another establishment, so they are good and drunk already and spoiling for a brawl. After the ensuing chaos, if the heroes are helpful, Leigen will no doubt want the most charming of them to become his mentor and agent. He really could use the help…
2.) A Personal Problem: Rognvald has a problem that he doesn’t dare mention. You see, a year ago he angered an old witch-crone and she cursed him that he would have no good fortune with the ladies. Since then, things go wrong whenever he’s alone with a woman. He’s awfully frustrated and is likely to pick a fight with anyone who appears to be getting anywhere with one of the serving wenches. Friendly or sympathetic characters may be enlisted for their aid in breaking the curse, but he has no idea how. He’s very attracted to Damarre, but he avoids her because he’s afraid that something will go wrong again. It’s probably the only thing preserving his life…
3.) Band of Brothers: Rognvald’s old shield brothers show up: Gundar, Hanse, Franz, and Erent. It doesn’t take long for the girls go to work on them. Alysta particularly enjoys encouraging fights, especially if she can act all upset and try ineffectually to break the fight up. Damarre prefers to suggest suicidal dares to men who are already drunk, such as, “I bet that you couldn’t get the teeth of that Cave Viper in the old quarry and return here by dawn!” It’s about even which of them will instigate the highest body count.
4.) Attack of the Necromancer: The girls need to get rid of the bodies that slowly accumulate in the cellar. The easy solution is to march them off somewhere in the middle of the night and have an impromptu “Insane Necromancer” attack. Few people will ask questions when the zombies are ordered to wander down the road, killing anyone they meet. If a “Power Mad Necromancer” is needed, Bully will be recruited to fill the role. The girls will even give him an old black robe and ceremonial dagger they have stashed with the zombies in the cellars (Aren’t they generous!).
5.) What Were We Thinking?: The previous serving wenches, Gelia and Samara, need to be rescued from the rogues that they foolishly ran off with. They send a message to Gorty, carried by a crow that one of the girls had tamed. Unfortunately, Gorty’s too befuddled to figure out what to do. Once rescued, they will be found to be completely confused about why they left the pub in the first place. The succubi will welcome them back, eager to find new humiliations for them…
6.) Hail the Conquering Hero: Gorty’s son, Gortham (Gorty, Jr.) returns home after serving in the military for several years. He’s ready to take over operation of the alehouse so that his old man can finally retire. It won’t take long for the girls to get him under control, and then dad becomes superfluous…