Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Adventure Hook

If it hadn't been for the box of chocolates on the table this morning I would have missed this holiday entirely.  As for my penance I'll be sharing with you an adventure born out of an intriguing premise I had read a while back, either in a forum or magazine.  Afterwards I'll have to quickly run to the store to pick up ingredients to make ravioli in a brown butter sage sauce.  Bon App├ętit

Classified Ads:  Dragon Slayers Wanted
The Premise
It's Valentin'e Day (or if your playing Star Wars it's another excuse to bring up Life Day!) and a blustery pair of lovers have gotten to squabbling as one of them may have forgotten the holiday.  The furious spouse leaves and contacts the PC's to have them oust their forgetful ex-partner.  For the writer's sake, on account of tiresome pronouns, the furious spouse will be a voluptuous woman, clad in a form fitting evening gown of varying shades of dark red.  The forgetful partner will be described as a wealthy, eccentric, balding old geezer in the suitable attire of a hermit.

The Hook
When the scorned lady approaches the PC's she tells them a story they cannot refuse.  Her and her husband were having a fight and she stormed off.  Within moments of her departure a large red dragon swooped down and decided to make their reclusive home their own.  At this point she has to stop and explain that her and her husband have chosen the hermetic lifestyle, free of societal agonies and on a quest for enlightenment concurrent with their religious views.  This would be a good point for any inquisitive PC's to glean more information on her or perhaps to notice any contradictions in her story (hope those improv lessons have been paying off DMs!)  She speaks quickly and often in run on sentences in a constant stream of consciousness (nice try writer!)

"Our home lies past the dense uncivilized jungles of the mongrel men, around the ashen lake and then deep in the mountains.  In fact, we are living in a cave, not the most luxurious of places but we reside in a simple ascetic hut located within this cave, nay a cavernous complex.  Why else would this magnificent--I mean maleficent dragon come to roost?

You'll have to excuse me it's been so long since I've conversed in this tongue--well that is to say we've been gone so long that a new dialect appears to have popped up and it certainly doesn't help that it is not my native tongue.  Oh my native tongue?  Well I'm sure you haven't heard of it, although it has roots in many different languages, including elvish, dwarvish and oh my even goblin, how splendid a diaspora is.  But that's enough about me, I do hate to prattle on about myself and especially of my old life, I always seem to unintentionally come across as condescending and that is the last thing I want come off as to you bold; daring; and if I might add handsome adventurers."

The woman is obviously flustered and will work her charms and considerable wealth to lure the PC's into ousting her husband from their reclusive home. She has a few rubies and emeralds on her that match the sparkle in her eyes as well as various jewelry and promise of greater treasure ahead with which she can use to bargain down the road if the PC's lose their confidence or their patience.  She knows a very safe way to and from her home that will highlight the scenic vistas and all but avoid dangerous encounters.  This would be a good point to allow the PC's to get to know her, and question her if need be.

DM's, feel free to make up this information on the fly since she will be too.  If you've read all the way to the end you may want to consider popping in an encounter with the subservient mongrelman or a pack of superstitious dragon worshiping goblins at the ashen lake to give the PC's clues to the real nature of this quest.

The Confrontation
When the PC's get there the cavern complex is actually, exactly as she describes.  Yet there is no dragon in sight.  In fact, something seems a bit peculiar, there are plenty of tracks showing the passing of large scaled beings (Dragon's most likely) however there appears to be some variations in the tracks meaning there may be more than one.  You may suggest to the PC's that this was more than they signed up for and our scorned spouse will have to ante up the deal.  She'll promise her husbands considerable wealth as a dowry and she will marry (she mentions her husband was likely eaten by now) the one who slays the dragon and give to him her most treasured possession.  A magic ring that allows one to change shape and size at will, particularly useful for slipping through cracks in a stone or under a doorway.  Tantalize them with visions of Mr. Fantastic until they're gung-ho and ready to go dragon slaying.  The bride to be will lead them through a set of passageways, well worn with the passage of feet (the couple's presumably), ash likely blown in from the ash lake and ceilings no higher than an ogre.

They descend deeper and deeper into the cavern complex and come across the simple hut with thatched yellow roofing and humbly constructed walls.  Branches litter the floor, likely firewood that was blown about with the dragon's passage.  As they approach the hut they hear the sound of a snapping twig behind them.  Turning around they are face to face with a large red dragon, who looks at them with equal parts curiosity and disdain.  Still, how did it sneak up on them and how did it manage to squeeze through that passage they came through which was rather small comparatively.  The PC's have no time to contemplate this conundrum as the Dragon quickly snatches away their potential blushing bride and rears back his head preparing for a gout of fire (ending his first turn allowing the PC's a chance to act).  Curiously in the next turn he breathes his fire upward at the last minute, scorching the top of the hut and lightning it's roof on fire.  Each round afterwards molten stalactite drips down and they must make a saving throw to avoid being the volatile drippings for as long as they stay in the area.  The Dragon will not under any circumstances release the damsel in distress and will fight to the death on the ground without fleeing.  It speaks a language they do not recognize although they may pick up bits and pieces if they happen to speak elvish, dwarvish or goblin.

The Twist
When the battle is done and the PC's are licking their wounds it's time to spring the trap on them.  Enough clues have been dropped that they may even be expecting this.  As they are patching each other up our happily widowed spurious spouse activates her ring, a matching one the PC's found on the now dead dragon.  She transforms into a crimson dragonness, smiles a toothy grin and thanks the PC's for their help.  For their service she will spare their lives but if they retaliate she will rain down fire upon them, a smoldering flame she has been tending since her husband ousted her from their home.

She is particularly short tempered and if the PC's try to bargain or enact diplomacy she may erupt in violence towards these lesser races deciding to eat them instead.  The PC's can fight, but the odds are against them with two back to back dragon fights.  They can also run through the network of passages intertwining this complex which she knows better than the rest of them.  If they do flee she will instead play with her food for her own amusement.  Any that slighted or rejected her will be roasted and eaten, any that were fond of her will be kept as pets, the lucky few will escape.

Perhaps I spoke too soon when I said lucky.  They still have to get back home.  Past the tribe of goblins that worship the nearby dragon(s) as god-like creatures.  The ashen lake which conceals an undead hydra beneath it's depths, a large expanse of jungle filled with mongrel men who swore allegiance to the dragons as well as all the other dangers posed by travelers low on coin and supplies.  If the PC's make it back they'll surely have a story to tell and vengeance to swear.  Beware Cugel's folly though, revenge may sustain you but that single minded devotion can lead to your downfall!

Happy Valentine's Day!