January 16th is Appreciate a Dragon Day. A day that encourages everyone to explore the cultural significance of the dragon in your society and history. Dragons are a powerful symbol in mythology, from Europe, to Asia and throughout the world. So whoever you are and wherever you’re from, take a second and give a little love to these awesome mythical creatures.
Here at d20 Diaries, we’re celebrating Appreciate a Dragon Day by sharing our top five dragon adventures, because what would Dungeons and Dragons be, without dragons?
Answer? A lot less awesome!
So without further ado… my five favourite adventures that showcase dragons!
Guardians of Dragonfall
Guardians Of Dragonfall is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons written by Anson Caralya and printed by Paizo Publishing. Intended for 11th level characters, this adventure takes the characters to a legendary dragon graveyard on behalf of an aging gold dragon who has spent the last fifty years living as a human scholar. Upon arriving they discover something has gone horribly wrong. The eternal guardians of Dragonfall have abandoned their posts, leaving the graveyard unprotected–an event unheard of in the history of Dragonfall! This adventure takes the group through a wide variety of cool locations including the labyrinthine trenches of the Bonefield, the Emerald Shrine where green dragons deliver their sacrifices, the Throat of Shearphorus at the centre of the graveyard, and the Hall of Guardian’s Rest. This adventure has a few cool draconic characters, including the ghost of the previously mentioned gold dragon, and an insane bronze dragon. It also has a variety of draconic enemies including draconic skeletons, a tribe of half-dragon satyr’s, and even a draconic mohrg. This adventure is big, bold and tons of fun. Most importantly, it makes the player’s feel awesome. After all, sometimes even dragons need a hero!
The Black Egg
The Black Egg is a 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons adventure written by Steven Montano for Issue #106 of Dungeon Magazine. Intended for 12th level characters, this adventure begins with a meteor falling from the sky which completely obliterates a small town. Investigation sets the characters on a collision course with a mad wizard, a cult of half-dragons, and a powerful artifact that can summon and army of fiendish dragons to conquer the nation–perhaps the world! With some cool side characters including a group of mercenaries also intent on investigating the crater; some great twists and turns, and a ton of unique half-dragon enemies, this adventure’s sure to be a blast. To make it even better, make sure the town destroyed is a place your characters have been before (preferably more than once!) or a place they needed to visit. And what’s in the depths of the crater? I won’t give away much more, but I will say it’s called the Fane of Scales, and within is the mysterious Black Egg. An egg that’s nearly ready to hatch…
The Dragon’s Demand
The Dragon’s Demand is a Pathfinder module written by Mike Shel. Intended for 1st level characters and meant to bring them all the way to 6th, or possibly 7th level, this is a mega-adventure! It sets the player’s characters up to be heroes of the small town of Belhaim, only to have their efforts interrupt the plans of a fierce green dragon. The dragon eventually makes his displeasure known by attacking the town and demanding a massive amount of gold and treasure as tribute. Unable to pay, the characters are given one final job by the citizens: kill the dragon! But killing a dragon is no easy feat–especially not for low-level characters! They’ll need to prepare themselves, use their wits, and pray for some luck before taking on this bad-boy! With cool side locations including a deceased wizard’s home and secret laboratory, the tomb of a dragon-slayer, and a dragon’s lair (of course!), The Dragon’s Demand does an awesome job of showcasing what a dragon should do (or at least a classic villainous D&D dragon!): make plans, amass treasure, scare the heck out of everyone, subjugate entire tribes and towns, and kill whoever fails to obey! It makes dragons feel dangerous and powerful, something that’s often missing when dragons are used in adventures. With theatrics and a great use of build-up and suspense, this dragon feels like a challenge too tough to handle. It’s sure to get your player’s quaking in their boots! I highly recommend this module to anyone who wants to enjoy a great dragon adventure at lower levels.
Into the Wormcrawl Fissure
One of the highest level adventures on this list, Into the Wormclaw Fissure is intended for 19th level characters. Seriously! It’s the second last instalment of the Age of Worms adventure path put out by Paizo publishing back in 2006. Like The Dragon’s Demand, this adventure makes awesome use of foreshadowing, build-up and suspense to make the biggest, baddest, coolest dragon possible–Dragotha, an incredibly powerful dracolich. By this point in the campaign, the player’s have known their characters are going to have to oppose Dragotha in order to stop the Age of Worms for quite a while. They’ve curried assistance, cashed in on favours and done all they could to learn about her–which paid off. The previous adventure is spent hunting down and destroying her phylactery in the Citadel of Weeping Dragons (an awesome dragon adventure in itself!). With that taken care of, the characters can finally enter the Tabernacle of Worms to confront this terrifying undead dragon, and put an end to her for good. …If they can! This wicked foe is protected by huge undead chimeras, an awesome derro psycho mounted on a fierce wyvern, gargantuan worm beasts, and an entire cult to do her bidding. And if they do manage to defeat this terrifying CR 27 beast, her treasure trove is astounding! This adventure is awesome! If you ever get a chance to play the Age of Worms adventure path, I highly recommend you take it!
The Frozen Stars
Note: If you’re playing in my Reign of Winter Campaign, do NOT read this next entry!
The final adventure on this list is filled with as many dragons as you could possibly imagine–and more! Taking place on a wintery planet of dragons, in the middle of a war between the Drakelands and the Skyfire Mandate, The Frozen Stars is part four of the Reign of Winter Adventure Path. So what’s up with this war? The Drakelands are a tyranny of dragons of all kinds and colours as well as their draconic brethren (like wyverns, kobolds, and half-dragons) who believe that dragons should dominate the planet. The Skyfire Mandate is a coalition of Triaxians (furry elves primarily) and their Dragonkin allies (large sized, intelligent dragons who can wield weapons and objects in their front limbs, and who form life-long bonds with their riders). That’s right: it’s an evil dragon country versus a bunch of knights mounted on weapon wielding dragons! AWESOME! The characters land amidst this chaos in their Dancing Hut on the trail of Baba Yaga’s keys. One key lays with each side of the army, and they must determine how they’re going to get them. They can choose to ally with the Skyfire Mandate, earning themselves the chance to bond with a dragonkin of their own and fly through the skies on dragon back to oppose the draconic armies of the Drakelands! Or they can instead choose to ally with the mighty armies of the Drakelands and oppose the other, weaker races of Triaxus. Or they can try anything else they can think of: allying with both, double-crossing either side, double-crossing both sides, siding with none… The list goes on! The players get to discover this awesome conflict on this wicked planet and come up with any plan they want to obtain the keys they require. But, whatever they choose to do, your player’s characters are sure to fight or fight alongside dragons, dragon-kin, and a ton of draconic and winter themed beasts. The most powerful foes of all? Commaner Pharamol, the stalwart leader of the Skyfire Mandate’s Dragon Legion of Spurhorn, mounted atop his gold dragonkin Amerenth; the terrifying General Malesinder, a silver dragonkin and commander of the Drakelands army besieging Spurhorn; and finally, Yrax: Lord of the Howling Storm, one of the most powerful dragon warlords of the Drakelands! Come on! You know you want to play it! I know I DO!
And that’s all for today! Do you want to play any of the adventures listed above? What’s your favourite d20 adventure featuring dragons? Did I miss it? Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for stopping by! I hope you discover the wonder of a dragon today!
After playing a Pathfinder Society Scenario a while back with my husband and children, I expected to be playing a few more in the near future. They’re short, fun, and don’t require a long-term commitment. Since my husband’s already playing in two other long-term campaigns with family (Reign of Winter and Mummy’s Mask), and a campaign with my children (Carrion Crown), I figured this would work out well.
And we had fun! So much fun my husband got an itch to start another new campaign. Just the other day he asked my kids if they wanted to play Shackled City with him. They said yes, obviously, and they started planning characters together.
Wait. Shackled City?
For those of you who don’t know, Shackled City is a HARD campaign. Awesome. But hard. We’ve played it before and gotten up to the end of of chapter one with a whopping six character deaths. SIX. And I have a crew of great players.
And there’s my children, chattering happily with my husband over character concepts.
This was going to take some work.
Now, I’d need to put a fair amount of work into running Shackled City anyway. It’s an adventure path written for 3.5 and these days we play Pathfinder, so there’s some conversion required. Not much, but some. Pathfinder characters are stronger than 3.5, so that should work in our favour. But it was written for a group of 4-5, and we would be running three. Of course, my kids enjoy it when I play with them, so perhaps I’d make a character to be their fourth party member. Still, this campaign would be tough and, as much as my children know that sometimes our characters die and that’s okay…. They’re five and six. I’d rather they not have their little paper dreams tattered and torn and tossed in the trash.
I spent some time thinking while my children and husband worked on their character concepts. What would our creation guidelines be? How could we make this work and have a reasonable chance of success? There’s plenty of ways to allow your player’s a bit of a boost for their characters, but I wanted to keep it simple. I decided to have them create level two characters (instead of level one) with a 25 point buy for their ability scores (we usually roll 2d6 and add 6). They got to take one of the Shackled City traits (which provide a benefit and a penalty) and two Pathfinder traits with the option to take a drawback to gain a third Pathfinder trait. I granted them background skills, which is essentially an extra two skill points each level that must be spent on less-useful skills like perform, profession and craft. Rules for background skills can be found in Pathfinder Unchained. They got 1,000 gp for their starting gold (which is the wealth expected of a second level character). And lastly, I made a character to join them and round up the party size to four.
In only two days my husband and both of my kids had their characters ready to go, complete with a reason to know each other. The reason?
They’re in a band.
But before I tell you about their characters, I’m going to tell you about what they’re going to play.
THE SHACKLED CITY
The Shackled City is an eleven-part adventure path printed in Dungeon Magazine from March 2003 through until November 2004. In 2007 it was compiled in a hardcover edition that included supplemental articles, a collection of maps and player handouts, and an entire additional adventure. Shackled City was created for 3.5 Dungeons and Dragons and is intended to bring characters from level 1 to 20.
The Shackled City takes place in Cauldron, a merchant metropolis built into the caldera of a long-dormant volcano. Located amidst jungles teeming with dinosaurs and demons, Cauldron is far from any other major urban centres, although a few small villages exist nearby. Shackled City is an urban adventure path that has a heavy amount of dungeon crawls and political intrigue. It’s an awesome, fun campaign with a lot of twists and turns but, as mentioned above, it’s very challenging for low-level groups.
Evil schemes are afoot in Cauldron. Driven by the dreams of an insane demon prince, bizarre cultists known as the Cagewrights are plotting something foul. Something they’ve been working towards for centuries. To prevent their agenda and save Cauldron, your player’s will have to explore cursed underground complexes, brave haunted jungle ruins, slay mighty dragons, and perhaps, even bind themselves to a layer of the infinite abyss.
The first adventure in the series, Life’s Bazaar, begins with a chance encounter that soon sees our characters investigating the abduction of four children from a local orphanage. But these children are not the only ones to go missing, dozens have disappeared over the last few months alone. And their fate lays entirely in your player’s hands…
Without further ado, let’s take a look at our band (literally) of brave characters!
Falco Rhiavadi is a member of the prominent Rhiavadi noble line. A rich and powerful family, the Rhiavadi’s are currently lead by Falco’s aunt, Thifirane. Unfortunately, Falco is clearly a bastard. His father was a foreigner by the name of Kenji Ozawa. Unable to hide his parentage, and refusing to give the boy up, Falco’s mother kept him close, and treated him as any other member of the family. Brazenly keeping Falco around caused no small amount of friction within the Rhiavadi family. Much of that anger was directed at Falco’s mother, while Falco was treated as an outsider and an embarrassment.
Despite this, Falco was given a thorough education at Bluecrater Academy, where he again disappointed his family by ending all of his practical studies and joining the music program. He made plenty of friends there, including Mick Frimfrocket (a gnomish pianist and comedian), Rabbity Castalle (a rabbitfolk dancer with a pet panther), and Valius (an artist and cleric of Shelyn). Valius inspired Falco to find faith in Shelyn, the goddess of love and art, while Mick and Rabbity eventually formed a band with Falco, named Boople Snoot. Recently the band’s name was changed to Dinorabbit. Falco plays the flute, and is an accomplished orator.
When Falco was a teenager, his father, Kenji, heard tales of a dragon outside the city and set out to pay homage to the proud beast. Unfortunately, dragons in the Inner Sea are not the same as dragons from Tian Xia, and Kenji was devoured. In grief, Falco called out for the power to keep those he cared about safe. A colourful thrush appeared to him–clearly a gift from Shelyn herself! The bird said its name was Ruby, and promised Falco the power to keep the people around him healthy. She even hinted at the possibility of bringing Kenji back to life. Elated, Falco took the bird home with him, and they’ve been inseparable ever since.
Unfortunately, Ruby is a rude, cantankerous bird, who is very protective of Falco. She gets offended and complains whenever Falco prays to Shelyn instead of Ruby herself. Ruby acts like a normal songbird in public, sweetly whistling as an accompaniment to Falco’s flute music. In private, Ruby complains, demands fealty, and generally is a grouchy pain in the butt. Falco loves her dearly.
Now twenty years old, Falco is a well-groomed, handsome man with an easy smile and a winning personality. He lives in a small flat paid for by his family, and rarely ever attends noble gatherings or does anything practical. Instead he spends his time making music with his bandmates, visiting his friend Valius’ art studio, or socializing in the Tipped Tankard Tavern. He also volunteers to use his healing powers at the local church of Kurgess. His love of life, art and music is boundless, and Falco is the driving force behind his band’s performances and music. He is the heart and soul of Boople Snoot Dinorabbit.
Mechanically, Falco is a shaman who has formed a lasting bond with the life spirit. Ruby is his spirit animal and conduit to these spirits. He’s a human of mixed Taldan and Tien descent. With the ability to channel positive energy, and the healing hex, Falco is a healer first and foremost. He selected extra channel, and selective channel as his feats to further enhance his healing powers. As a shaman, his spells prepared can change each day, but so far when expecting danger he’s prepared burning hands, entangle, obscuring mist, and his spirit spell: detect undead. His favourite orisons include detect magic, dancing lights, daze and stabilize. Though he prefers not to engage in violence, Falco began the campaign with an elaborate dagger, and a very fine walking stick which he is more than capable of using to defend himself. Falco is my husband’s character (and his third character to attempt the Shackled City Adventure Path).
Mick Frimfrocket is a gnome with dark blue skin, bright pink hair that stands straight up on his head, and light blue eyes with flecks of red around his pupils. He’s energetic, bold, and loves nothing more than a good laugh! Mick grew up in the gnomish enclave of Jzadirune, located underneath Cauldron. He was brought to the surface when he was only a child, in order to escape a strange disease afflicting the enclave, called the Vanishing. Unable to remember much of anything from this time, but plagued with nightmares of people fading away to nothing in front of him, Mick is curious about his youth, and the family and home he cannot recall. Once he reached the surface, Mick was taken in by the poorly funded Lantern Street Orphanage. Due to his fondness for playing tricks on people and making jokes, he got into a lot of scuffles with the other kids, and quickly learned his way around a fist-fight. His time at the orphanage was happy, but LONG, as Mick was never lucky enough to be adopted (apparently prospective parents don’t like it when you put salt in their tea instead of sugar, trip them in the hallway, or make illusions of dinosaurs stomping through the adoption office…). Most of the staff he once knew who worked there have moved on now, or passed away.
Upon reaching adulthood and moving out into Cauldron on his own, Mick took the the street corners to tell jokes, play pranks, and generally have a laugh as a busker. He made enough coin to enrol in the music program at the Bluecrater Academy, where he learned to sing and play the piano. There he met Falco Rhiavadi, and Rabbity Castalle, an eclectic pair of people who soon became his best friends and bandmates. In addition, Falco also invited Mick to live at his luxurious flat with him, and they became room-mates.
Mick is an inspiring, funny, exuberant fellow who constantly tries new things. He’s worshipped at least four different gods, eats the strangest things he can get his mouth around, and is constantly insisting the band change their name. The most recent change was from Boople Snoot to Dinorabbit. An ironic change, since it was him who suggested they be named Boople Snoot in the first place. He likes to make fires when he’s bored, both illusory and real, and finds constant joy in the fact that no flame ever flickers the same. He has an obsession with pigs–though he’s never owned one–and collects every piece of art, or toy pig he can get his hands on. He’s also a fan of learning new languages, and currently can speak seven: Common, Dwarven, Elven, Gnome, Halfling, Sylvan and Tien.
Mechanically, Mick is a multi classed monk and a bard (prankster). He’s carries no weapons, instead fighting with his fists or throwing whatever objects happen to be nearby as projectiles. He also carries alchemist’s fire, LOTS of alchemist’s fire, but has never had a chance to actually THROW any alchemist’s fire. This saddens him greatly, as he thinks it would be a spectacular sight! He uses his bardic performances to inspire his allies and mock his enemies. He makes use of his gnomish magic to make magical lights, phantom sounds, perform minor magic tricks and speak with animals. With his bardic magic he can detect magic, set flammable objects on fire, and summon his favourite piano. He can also cast cure light wounds and biting words, a spell that lets his words physically harm an enemy. He chose weapon focus (unarmed strike) as his feat, while monk granted him the feats improved unarmed strike, stunning fist and throw anything. Unfortunately, Mick’s not very clever, which doesn’t let him take advantage of the monk’s bonus AC ability. Despite this, Mick doesn’t wear armour. Instead he has a collection of potions he drinks to increase his AC, including mage armour and shield. Mick is my six year old son’s character.
Rabbity Castalle is a rabbit folk with soft white fur and a few patches of blue on the tips of her ears. She wears fancy clothes, and lots of beautiful jewelry, all in her favourite colour: blue. Sapphires are her favourite gemstone. She loves water and rain, and thinks its horrible that the government has let the lake at the centre of town become so stinky and polluted! She has a connection to water of all kinds and can make it obey her commands–most of the time. In addition to shooting it from her hands, and using it as a shield, she can create water, clean water, create mild currents in bodies of water, make extremely slippery puddles of water appear on surfaces or objects, and dry wet creatures. The heat never seems to bug her.
Rabbity is lucky, nimble and quick. She’s a beautiful dancer, and eventually saved up enough money to attend Bluecrater Academy. She joined the music program, and further honed her craft. There she met Falco Rhiavadi and Mick Frimfrocket whom she eventually started a band with.
Rabbity’s best friend is a panther named Panthy, who she has trained to let her ride on its back. Panthy can also act terrifying, follow Rabbity, and perform minor tricks like rolling over, shaking a paw, and dancing. Rabbity and Panthy typically perform together before the band goes on stage.
Rabbity works at the Tipped Tankard Tavern as a waitress. Because of this, the Tipped Tankard has become a meeting place for her bandmates, and they can often be seen there, eating, drinking, or performing in their band. Rabbity rents a room from her friend, Aeris (a local locksmith), and eventually Rabbity convinced Aeris to join their band as a drummer.
Mechanically, Rabbity is a kineticist tied to the element of water. Her panther is purchased and trained, but not an animal companion. She is my five-year old daughter’s character.
Aeris Caldyra is a locksmith born to the historic Caldyra family, and the business-minded Halar’s. It is said that the first Caldyra were brothers who accompanied Surabar, the founder of Cauldron, deep into the jungles in order to bless any settlements and boundaries he erected with the aid of their goddess Alseta. A respected but sparse family, the Caldyra name is still remembered fondly by historians. Aeris and her father, Edwin are the last of the Caldyra’s in Cauldron.
Her mother’s side of the family are successful merchants and businessmen from far off Qadira. Practically nobility, the Halar’s were rich beyond imagining and powerful, maintaining the ears of both the Satraps and extraplanar beings. Magical powers and the blood of elementals has long been recorded in their family histories. They have spread throughout the world, although the local Halar’s are little more than rich merchants and business-men. Unlike the Caldyra’s, the Halar’s are a vast family, with dozens of them living in Cauldron at the moment. Although Aeris’ mother, Kiriel socializes with them often, Aeris has always felt out of place among her extended family.
Despite being surrounded by a bustling family of merchants Aeris Caldyra has always felt less interested in business than she has in the gods. She felt like an outsider among the Halar family and with her parents. Only her Grandfather Marzio, a High Chamberlain of Alseta and the last of his faith, truly understood her. They were incredibly close, and despite her parents protests that she take up a worthy trade and get her head out of the clouds, Marzio trained Aeris in the ways of Alseta’s faith. She went with him on tours throughout the city to bless doorways, gateways and arches, to inspect the city walls for defects and repairs, and to ward peoples homes and businesses against danger. He knew a great deal about engineering, the history of the region, demons and, of course, religion. He was a good man and a good priest, but his focus was always more on helping people and Cauldron than it was on proselytizing and spreading Alseta’s worship. His followers were small in number, but many respected him and his work. He had working relationships with all four of the other churches in Cauldron as well as the Mayor’s office and the town guard. Alongside him, Aeris learned her religion and what it meant to be a good priest and a good person. Unfortunately, when she was only eight years old Marzio died. …And it was all her fault.
Aeris had accompanied Marzio on his rounds throughout Cauldron to inspect the walls and gates. By mid-day she was tired and begged her grandfather to take her for a treat at a local candy shop. He told her to wait until they were finished for the day, as he had packed them a picnic lunch, but Aeris had insisted, and Marzio never could say no to his beloved granddaughter. On the way to the candy shop they passed a mugger painted with a black and white face (a member of the criminal gang the Last Laugh) accosting a banker of Abadar. Marzio leapt in to assist the man, brandishing his holy symbol and attacking with his longsword, but he was ambushed by the muggers comrades. Stabbed in the back, Marzio fell, and faster than Aeris could blink the gang was upon him: beating, stabbing and stealing his coin. Aeris’ screams summoned the guard, but by the time they arrived Grandfather Marzio was dead, both he and the priest of Abadar had been robbed and the Last Laugh thugs had fled. Aeris snatched up his holy symbol and sword — the only valuables the thieves had left behind — and cried for days. Her grandpa was dead because she was a spoiled brat who wanted a candy! This was all her fault! Broken hearted, Aeris couldn’t bear to tell anyone he was dead because of her.
Life moved on. Aeris’ parents sold Marzio’s home and shrines to members of the Halar family. They were torn down and remodelled. The few followers of Alseta’s faith turned to Abadar for guidance, and soon the only place Grandpa Marzio’s religion lived on was inside Aeris herself. She was a poor excuse for a devotee and knew she would never be a Chamberlain like her grandpa had been. Aeris’ parents insisted she take up a trade and prepare for running her own business one day, so she studied to be a locksmith. Her locks could protect people. It was a trade her grandfather and Alseta would appreciate. When she became an adult Aeris was gifted a townhouse of her own, with a business space downstairs. She turned it into a profitable little locksmith’s shop. She rents out her spare room to Rabbity, a quirky little rabbitfolk who was in need of a home.
Now twenty years old, with blond hair, braided on one side, and mismatched eyes (one blue, one green), Aeris is a charismatic, cheeky woman. She’s always smiling or ready with a quip. She endeavours to be kind, honest and courteous. She doesn’t brag or lie (often). She’s strong of faith, but never proselytizes. She tries to keep up the duties her grandfather did. She blesses doorways (as she installs locks), prays to Alseta as she passes through thresholds of all kinds, inspects public archways and gateways for damage and repair work, and patrols the town walls looking for damage and wear.
Aeris never interacts with people she suspects of being criminals. When she discovers such people she always ends her interactions with them immediately and reports them to law enforcement. Most of the town guard think she’s a rubber-necker or a liar—another nosy citizen who makes fake and unnecessary reports. When she can stand it not more, Aeris takes the law into her own hands, seeking retribution against the criminals no one will punish. She sneaks into their homes and safe houses to rob them before slipping out again. She donates her stolen goods to fund civic projects, charities or local churches. Despite the good that comes of these misadventures she always feels horribly about it afterwards, believing her grandpa and Alseta are displeased with her actions. Her prayers the days following are always filled with promises to never steal again, which she inevitably breaks.
To this day Aeris has an intense hatred of the Last Laugh Thieve’s Guild, and to a lesser extent other groups of gangs and organized crime. She’s always tries to step in and help stop crimes when she sees them (another reason the town guard is not fond of her). Despite her hope that she’ll be able to foil or disassemble the Last Laugh one day in honour of her grandfather, she is disregarded by them. A fact that hurts her more than she admits.
Aeris aspires to embody the four virtues of Alseta’s faith: Courtesy, Duty, Honesty and Humility. She believes that it is very important to protect people. She thinks that undeath and portals to dangerous planes are thresholds that should never have been opened and in the off chance she encounters such threats she would react strongly to stop or close them. As a follower of Alseta she also believes she must act as a fair arbiter to disputes. She tries to uphold the law.
Recently, Rabbity convinced Aeris to join her band as a percussionist. A fateful decision which caused her to meet Falco and Mick, and will inevitably set her on course to save her entire city….
Mechanically, Aeris is a suli bloodrager (spelleater and urban bloodrager archetypes). Instead of causing her to get out of control, Aeris’ bloodrage manifests as an unnatural calm, as she more fully embodies the will of her goddess. In addition to empowering her body, Aeris gains fast healing 1 while bloodraging. Aeris is the group’s trapfinder and main melee combatant. She has the destined bloodline, as she’s blessed by Alseta to achieve great deeds. Her suli blood, courtesy of the Halar side of the family, grants Aeris energy resistance to acid, cold, electricity and fire, the ability to speak a wide variety of exotic languages, and the ability to wreathe her weapons in the elements for a few rounds a day. Her feat is incremental elemental assault, which lets her use her elemental assault ability one round at a time instead of all at once. Aeris is my character for the Shackled City. Although strong, quick and skillful, nearly all of Aeris’ abilities only function for a certain number of rounds each day, meaning she’s likely to run out of them FAST. Especially in an adventure so combat heavy in the beginning.
With our characters created, and the campaign prepared, the members of Dinorabbit (the band formerly known as Boople Snoot!) head out to dinner to celebrate their one year anniversary at a fancy local restaurant, the Coy Nixie.
But fate has bigger plans for this quirky band of friends. Cauldron needs them!
I hope you enjoyed reading about our new characters who are going to brave the Shackled City. Check back soon to read about their continuing adventures.
Have you ever played the Shackled City? What kind of character would you make for this campaign?
Let me know in the comments below!
Until then, enjoy!
The Shackled City Adventure Path is a difficult to get your hands on adventure path published in eleven separate Dungeon Magazines, or available in hardcover from Amazon here or from Paizo Publishing’s website here. The first adventure, Life’s Bazaar is available in Dungeon Magazine Number 97 from Paizo Publishing’s website here.
A few days ago my son decided he wanted to make a villain to join me and my daughter’s evil characters on their dark and shady adventures. We spent some time together, and Professor McMaan was born! But where, oh where, would a bunch of villains hang their hat? And what kind of adventures would they go on?
A good question!
When my daughter first told me she wanted to make an evil girl, instead of another hero, I thought long and hard about where she would live, and what she could do. Would she live in a large city and try to hide her misdeeds amongst the masses? Would she live on the outskirts of a secluded village and hide her evil under a cover life of lies and deception? Would she live someplace where no one cared what she did, and shady dealings were considered normal? For answers, I turned to my daughter.
“Who are you?” I asked her. “What kind of evil girl are you going to be? What does she like to do that’s so bad?”
“Oh, Mom!” she exclaimed happily. “I was a nice doctor lady, who lived near the woods and made medicine and stuff.” Suddenly she switched to her ‘spooky voice.’ “And one day I was out in the woods and I found a rabbit! Oooooo! But it was not a normal rabbit, it had wings like a fairy and it looked very… very… adorable!” She wiggled her fingers in an ominous fashion and make more spooooooky sounds. “Oooooo! So I took the little rabbit home and it made whispers in my head! It taught me magic! But ya’ know what?! It was a demon rabbit! And the demon rabbit told me to do mean things like make zombies! And I liked it! And now I am a necra– necROmancer!”
“Oh! I almost forgot!” she exclaimed. “I am also very nice and pretty, and that is a LIE! I am pretty and very mean! But I act nice because the demon rabbit taught me how to lie really good. Oh! And I can shoot fire at people.” She made some expert fire blasting sounds for emphasis: “WHOOOOOOSH! Burny burn!”
Absorbing this for a few moments, I concluded. “Dear… That’s awesome.”
We ended up making her character an aasimar witch with the grave walker archetype and a flying rabbit familiar tied to the elemental patron. Witches have a variety of spells that let them create undead, including zombies, skeletons, and (later) more powerful undead like ghouls and ghosts. The elemental patron would add some damage dealing spells to her list including the level one spell: burning hands, which will let her shoot a cone of flames at her enemies. The gravewalker archetype, found in Pathfinder’s awesome hardcover: Ultimate Magic, would allow her some nifty death themed spells in addition to the elemental spells granted to her by her patron and two awesome abilities: aura of desecration, which empowers negative channeled energy and makes undead harder to harm with positive energy, and bonethrall, which lets her take control of any undead within her aura of desecration that isn’t hers. The only downside: gravewalkers have creepy dolls made of skin for familiars instead of animals.
With big teary eyes (my daughter can cry at will), and her bottom lip stuck out sadly, my then four year old daughter tried her best to convince me it would be alright if she had a demon rabbit instead of a demon rabbit doll. Knowing it was only us playing–and mostly verbally on walks to and from kindergarten–I caved. Besides, she’d already found some artwork she wanted to use as her familiar (pictured on the sidebar) and decided on a name: Farris.
With her class decided, my daughter chose an alternate racial trait for aasimars, which grants them sharp nails or claws. She chose the cauldron hex, granting her a witches cauldron and the ability to brew magical potions. She finalized her spells, feats and traits, chose her gear and named her: Lorelei.
Then it was my turn. But before I made a best friend for the good doctor, I needed to know where we lived.
Taking into account her backstory, we decided Lorelei and Farris lived on the outskirts of a secluded village. She hides her evil deeds and necromancy behind a public life as a doctor, midwife and herbalist. Her maxed out ranks in bluff and diplomacy should keep her ‘friendly’ cover intact at low levels, and as long as she didn’t do anything too absurd she should be able to successfully lead a convincing double life–for a while at least. But where, exactly would this small village be?
Since Pathfinder’s my favourite RPG and Campaign Setting, it would be in Golarion, of course. But Golarion’s a large place and there are plenty of little villages that could fit the bill. I ended up choosing one that has a special place in my heart: Falcon’s Hollow. As the old Dungeon magazines published by Paizo came to an end back in 2007, Paizo launched a series of modules and variant rules for Dungeons and Dragons which would eventually become their own ruleset, Pathfinder, while Dungeons and Dragons branched off into 4th edition. With no desires to relearn the rules to 4th when I had only recently accomplished mastering 3.5, I decided to give the budding Pathfinder campaign setting a try. The first adventure I got my hands on was the very first one they printed: Crown of the Kobold King. This dark little adventure took place in the awful, horrible town of Falcon’s Hollow, and its surrounding forest, the Darkmoon Vale. With a free prequel adventure, Hollow’s Last Hope available for download online (STILL a free download, give it a try!), a sequel, Return of the Kobold King, due out shortly thereafter (ALSO a free download), and a supplement book (Guide To Darkmoon Vale) available for purchase, I had plenty of time to grow to love the little town and its dreary desperation.
Falcon’s Hollow is better understood as a lumber camp run by a greedy, amoral lumber company known as the Lumber Consortium. The lumberjacks work long hours in the dangerous, fey-filled forest and live in dismal shacks provided by their employers. All the shops that sell gear and food are controlled by the Lumber Consortium–who charge massive fees for basic necessities–as are the law courts, and the town guards. Even the hardest working and thriftiest lumberjacks soon fall so deep into debt to the Consortium they have no chance of getting out of it. These people work non-stop just to get by in this hopeless, dreary town. Their families find what work they can, either working as lumberjacks or in the few shops and bars around town. The Consortium in Falcon’s Hollow is run by a corrupt, mean fellow named Thuldrin Kreed, and his right hand man is Boss ‘Payday’ Teedum, a pug-nosed man as vile as his employer. The only source of justice is the sheriff–who refuses to bow to the Lumber Consortium despite threats of violence and worse.
Against this backdrop I placed Lorelei’s herbalist shop, replacing the town’s original herbalist with her (for now…). And her first adventure? Hollow’s Last Hope. It was perfect! So when a mysterious sickness made more than half the town ill, and Boss Teedum came knocking on her door to bully her into curing this plague–or else!–even my daughter’s evil girl was moved to finally find a cure.
It’s been quite a few short adventures since then, and Lorelei and Farris have had a blast. With burning hands and grasping corpse her go-to level one spells, and boneshaker her level two spell of choice, she’s had a lot of fun shooting fire, making dead bodies trip and grapple her enemies, and painfully grabbing peoples skeletons and dragging their bodies around the battlefield. She keeps a collection of corpses, carried around in a cauldron by her skeletal minions, for the inevitable time when her current undead minions are destroyed (always keep some raw materials laying around!).
In addition to saving her town from illness, she’s gone grave robbing, treasure hunting, and visited cursed locations in the hopes that more powerful undead can be researched there–and that she can learn the secrets to crafting them (or at least mind control some!). As for undead under her control, she’s had zombie crows, human skeletons, kobold zombies and her current favourite: the ghost of a cannibalistic druid.
She’s made friends along the way (and killed others!), including her best friend, Kilarra Bloodborn. A tiefling kineticist (blood kineticist archetype (from Occult Adventures, one of my favourite d20 books of all time) and dark elementalist archetype (from Horror Adventures)) who sacrifices humanoids to her demonic patron, Shax, in order to gain dark powers. When she shoots blasts of blood at her enemies the howling faces of her sacrifices can be seen in its depths, bound to her in their torment. With a skeletal hand that loses flesh the more she uses her powers, and regains flesh each time she rests, shrunken heads woven into her hair, and the habit of painting cards with the images of the people she’s sacrificed, Kilarra’s one disturbing room mate. She was heavily inspired by this amazing art shown in the sidebar.
The first time I described the very creepy Kilarra with her skeletal hand walking through Falcon’s Hollow, my daughter smiled.
“Oh, Mom! My girl runs right up to her and looks at her hand. She takes it and she tells the scary lady: ‘You’re beautiful!’ Because I think her IS beautiful. My girl wants a skeleton hand! But, I don’t think people would like doctors with skeleton hands much.”
It was a friendship forged in blood and corpses.
There’s other’s she met along the way. Kiyla, a little girl who fights with a unicorn’s horn as a sword and loves to dance. The only problem? The music she loves best is the cries of tortured, wounded animals. I swear I didn’t make that up. It was my daughter. And let me tell you, it is creepy as heck when this pretty little girl starts to dance ballet whenever an animal’s in pain.
And now, Professor McMaan, my son’s mad scientist who likes to trap souls inside the bodies of the dead or dolls that he’s created. His piece de resistance is his pig familiar, within which he trapped the soul of his rival, Professor Piggs.
But on what adventure would the newly expanded four person party embark upon?
Having made a name for herself saving Falcon’s Hollow, Lorelei, Kilarra and Kiyla recently returned from an extended vacation where they visited haunted locales in the area. Coming back to Falcon’s Hollow to find a new herbalist has moved into town in her absence–Laurel (that witch!)–Lorelei decides she needs to make this backwater town remember why they need her!
Meanwhile, another new face recently arrived in the area: Professor McMaan, a foul scientist from Sandpoint who was forced to abandon his research and flee before the law caught up with him. Newly arrived to Falcon’s Hollow he spent the last of his savings on building a new secret laboratory, underneath an old hut in the woods outside town. After settling in he went to check on his nearest neighbours, expecting lumberjacks or thugs, he was surprised to discover a herbalist’s shop–with strange moaning sounds coming from it’s basement. After sneaking into Lorelei’s home and discovering the necromantic experiments hidden in her secret lair, Professor McMaan has been biding his time, anxiously awaiting the moment his delightful new neighbours return home from their trip!
As soon as Lorelei, Kilarra and Kiyla get back home, Professor McMaan’s at their door, knocking happily and introducing himself as “a fellow bad guy and professor of dead things!”
Lorelei was intrigued and insisted Kilarra NOT sacrifice him. Yet.
My kids had a blast introducing themselves to each other, sharing dinner at Lorelei’s home, and giving each other tours of their secret labs. By far, the majority of our session was spent on them talking and play acting as their characters, showing off drawings they’d made of their homes and pictures they’d discovered on Pinterest of their furnishings. Professor McMaan had a particularly dashing shelf of pickled eyeballs and brains to share that my son found on a halloween board.
Unfortunately, their dinner party was interrupted by a rude knocking. Boss Teedum was back, demanding that Lorelei get her things together. Five kids in town–Mister Kreed’s son included–have gone missing, and they’re sending guards to get him back (him, not them, because all Mister Kreed really cares about is his own son). They’re expecting the kids to be hurt–the stupid brats!–and they’re going to need a doctor in case Kreed’s boy is hurt.
Realizing this is her chance to make the folks of Falcon’s Hollow remember why they need her, Lorelei graciously accepts the Boss Teedum’s ‘offer’ (orders) on one condition: her friends accompany her.
Not caring whether or not Lorelei’s weirdo friends die, Boss Teedum accepts, telling Lorelei that the guards set out in only a few hours. Then he stomps off.
Lorelei is thrilled. She quickly hurries to her necromancy lab to pick some of her weaker, more lively-looking undead. She selects two zombie rabbits and two zombie crows from her collection, each kept in cages (they’re not under her control right now, and are very dangerous) she picks them up carefully and puts them in her cauldron (it’s an animated object now, and can walk around on its own. Usually she rides inside it). With some backup undead ready to go, and her handy ghost cannibal creepily haunting her every step, Lorelei’s excited to set off for the Darkmoon Vale.
The guards are creeped out by their new travelling companions, but it matters little. The cannibal ghost kills them in their sleep, and soon the four heroes villains are by themselves.
They follow the trail of the children (Kiyla’s a magnificent tracker) to a burnt down orphanage long thought to be haunted. It seems the children dared each other to spend the night camping nearby. After exploring the campsite they decide to check out the ruins in case any delightful new undead are lurking in its halls. They’re not, but they do find signs that whatever fire claimed the orphanage was not what it seems. They find a secret torture chamber made to contain and harm a werewolf. A werewolf that seems particularly small sized… The werewolf is nowhere to be seen–burnt in the fire, perhaps, but the orphanage matron is there, long dead with her throat torn out.
Lorelei decides she doesn’t want that body, and uncharacteristically leaves it behind. Why? We’ve accidentally stumbled upon one of my daughter’s recent fears: lycanthropes.
Nervous and jumpy, my daughter expressed fear. Now, this might seem normal, but my daughter’s encountered lycanthropes in D&D before, and never had a problem with it. The last one she met was a wereshark by the name of ‘Bloody Frennick’ who she made friends with and insisted join her pirate crew. In all honesty, I thought she’d welcome a little werewolf girl into the group as a friend! Deciding it was best to let my children fight the mysterious werewolf and put an end to the suspense rather than leave it out and have them nervous and paranoid the rest of the adventure, we took a short snack break. When we continued they met a young girl, who tried to trick them into the deep, dark forest, with promises of how she and her friends were ambushed and dragged into the woods. She gestured to the trail that… yes, it did seem to belong to the five children, but Lorelei knew better. This girl was NOT a child from Falcon’s Hollow! She was a werewolf!
A battle ensued with Lorelei hatefully exclaiming: “She’s lying! I think she’s a werewolf! Kill her just in case!”
Although it should have been a tough fight, Lorelei’s cannibal ghost made quick work of her, and she was unable to escape. Lucky for my daughter’s conscience, it was a werewolf, as she proved when she transformed during the fight.
With the terrifying werewolf dealt with we wrapped up for the night.
But not before Professor McMaan scooped up the girl’s body for his experiments.
Concluding our first session of Crown of the Kobold King, we packed up our dice and minis and put our villains aside for a while. Even undead need a rest sometimes. The children of Falcon’s Hollow would have to wait for rescue for another day.
Soon it was dinner, and my kids moved on to play Pokemon in the other room while I cooked.
I learned a valuable lesson that day: Werewolves are terrifying. Weresharks are not.
I don’t know about you, but I’d be WAY more scared of the shark.