|Please Note: use of the PDF version of this file is recommended. While every effort has been made to keep the text and graphics contents of both files identical (apart from page numbering which is irrelevant to the HTML version), there are differences in layout and the PDF is prettier and MUCH easier to print!|
This is the multiple-file HTML version of this game, and its use is recommended if your computer has speed or memory limitations or a slow internet connection, or if you are using Apple's Safari browser under OS X. If these aren't problems for you, you might find the single file version more convenient. It is divided into four sections - an index file, which contains copyright information and an index to all of the images used, a worldbook describing the game setting, the Forgotten Futures rules modified for dragon characters, and these adventures and other information for game referees.
The Death of Bon Agornin
The Biology of Dragons
The Rules of the Game
The Tenant of Copper Caverns
The Crimson Claw Assurance Society
Epilogue: Past, Present, and Future
Don't believe everything you read...
This is an authorised derivative work based on the novel Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton, and on its unfinished sequel Those Who Favor Fire. Its content has been approved by her, but nothing in it, other than direct quotes from the original texts, should be considered to be definite canon for this setting. Background details have been invented in areas where they were felt to be needed, and simplified to make the gaming aspects easier to handle. The only definitive sources for this world are the above works, and it's possible that any future works by Jo Walton that use this setting may contradict the game.
This section is written primarily for referees, and if you will be playing a character in any of the scenarios you are strongly advised not to read past this section. Knowledge of things to come won't make you a better player, or give you any special advantages; it just spoils a lot of the fun if you know what the referee plans to throw at you.
There are two full-length adventures below, plus an "omnibus" of short outlines with a framing plot. All of them were written for 3-6 player characters, but in a pinch can probably be run for larger or smaller groups. There are detailed stats for six characters below, used by the author for play-tests and demonstration games.
Nothing that follows is directly related to the events of Tooth and Claw or Those Who Favor Fire; it's probably best to assume that the adventures are set during the century or so between the two books.
Before running these adventures you will need to print out maps and other handouts, and may wish to purchase or build models and other props; for example, the second adventure needs a ship - a cut-out model can be downloaded from the author's web site, but some assembly is required - and possibly some models of sharks and other ocean creatures. It's worth mentioning here that models sold as ornaments or toys are usually much cheaper than those sold specifically for gaming purposes. See e.g. eBay for numerous models of dragons.
These characters have been used in play-tests and demonstration games. They are not a perfectly co-ordinated team of adventurers, just a semi-random selection of character types who might be thrown together by chance or circumstances beyond their control. Note that the character descriptions do not list money or much in the way of wealth or possessions, since they were varied from one adventure to another, and that some of the characters have been used in the examples of play in the rules.
Respected Segievel Yepragis - Author/ Journalist, age 220, Sex M
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 24ft, Tough 1pt
Wounds: B, F, I, I, I, C
Skills: Artist  (writer, penmanship), Brawling , Business , Flying , Linguist , (Migantine, Belshululine, Danithine), Marksmanship , Scholar  (The Yarge, Conspiracy Theories, Military history), Stealth 
Equipment: Notebook, pen and pencils, ink, assorted personal junk of little value, hat, gold hat pin
|Front claws x2||2||9||F||I||C|
|Rear claws x2 (Effect B+2)||No||10||F||I||C/K|
|Bite (Effect B+2)||No||10||F||I||C/K|
|Constrict (Effect B+1)||No||9||I||I||C|
|Tail Strike (Effect B/2)||No||4||F||I||I+KO|
|Armour = Body / 5 + Scales||-||2||-||-||-|
Notes: You are a conspiracy theorist /
"technothriller" style scientific romance writer, with several
moderately successful novels to your credit. You believe that the Yarge
are a clear and present danger to Dragonkind, and your novels try to
alert other dragons to this peril. You employ Sethod Woyime, a widow,
as your part time secretary / accountant. Unlike most male dragons you
have learned to hold a pen (despite claws) to write. You live in the
Migantine Quarter of Irieth, where you can study the Yarge while still
having the protection of draconic law.
Traits: Snob, Patriot, Rational Fear of Yarge, Nominally Religious, Confirmed Bachelor.
Blessed Kellis Derwig - Parson, Age 260, Sex M
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 35ft
Wounds: B, F, I, I, C
Skills: Actor (preach) , Brawling  (see below), Flying  (see below), Linguist  (Migantine, Lipahis, Yegithi), Mesmerism  (affects Yarge only), Scholar  (Religion, religious history, Yarge religions), Stealth 
Equipment: Holy books, pen and ink, cords for wings, hat.
|Front claws x2||2||12||F||I||C|
|Rear claws x2 (Effect B+2)||No||13||F||I||C/K|
|Bite (Effect B+2)||No||13||F||I||C/K|
|Constrict (Effect B+1)||No||12||I||I||C|
|Tail Strike (Effect B/2)||No||6||F||I||I+KO|
|Armour = Body / 5 + Scales||-||3||-||-||-|
Notes: A priest who has lost much of his
faith, and suffers from an unfortunate addiction to gambling. You try
to do Veld's work, but it isn't easy when you are increasingly unsure
that Veld even exists. You have had a succession of dead-end parishes,
and no hope of promotion within the faith. You would like to marry but
can't afford to, and don't know a suitable female anyway. You live at
your current church in one of Irieth's slum districts.
As a parson your wings are bound when you are in public and you may not fight under any circumstance, or fly except to save your life, or if there is no other way to tend to the spiritual needs of your parishioners - other dragons must respect your bindings and may not challenge you.
Traits: Bachelor, Orphan, Moderate patriot, Curiosity about Yarge, Addiction to Gambling.
Lieutenant Gethack Mothies, Soldier (invalided out), Age 120, Sex M
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 28ft, Flame, Thick scales 1, Fearsome
Wounds: B, F, I, I, C
Skills: Brawling , Flying , Marksman , Military Arms , Stealth 
Equipment: Rifle & 50 rounds, pistol & 30 rounds, field kit with various useful things (some rope, water canteen, a tent, gadget for taking stones out from between your claws, etc.), hat.
|Front claws x2||2||10||F||I||C|
|Rear claws x2 (Effect B+2)||No||11||F||I||C/K|
|Bite (Effect B+2)||No||11||F||I||C/K|
|Constrict (Effect B+1)||No||10||I||I||C|
|Tail Strike (Effect B/2)||No||5||F||I||I+KO|
|Flame (Radius Body/5 ft., Effect B/2)||2 ft radius||5||I||C||K|
|Hunting rifle, 2 barrels||No||10||I||C||K|
|Pistol, 2 barrels||No||10||I||I||C/K|
|Armour = Body / 5 + Scales||-||3||-||-||-|
Notes: You have been invalided out of the
army following an accident with a cannon - you have no hearing in your
left ear, and your face is best described as ruggedly handsome, for
somewhat scarred versions of "rugged" - Yarge find you fearsome for
some reason. You're lucky that your comrades didn't decide that you
were too badly injured to recover and eat you.
You have a small pension and have taken a succession of odd (sometimes VERY odd) jobs. Of course you have to be careful; you're an officer and a gentleman, so some careers (such as thug, which you think you might enjoy) are out of the question. You have rooms in Irieth.
Traits: Promiscuous, Indifferent to your family (younger son with no prospect of inheriting), Extreme Patriot.
Dignified Hathor Yoverack, Aristocratic young idler, Age 90, Sex M
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 21ft, Tough 1
Wounds: B, F, I, I, I, C
Skills: Actor  (comic songs), Brawling , Business , Flying , Linguist  (Migantine, Rasdogi), Marksman , First Aid , Mesmerism (usable on Yarge only) 
Equipment: Light Rifle & 20 rounds, several hats
|Front claws x2 (Effect B+1)||2||10||F||I||C|
|Rear claws x2 (Effect B+2)||No||11||F||I||C/K|
|Bite (Effect B+2)||No||11||F||I||C/K|
|Constrict (Effect B+1)||No||10||I||I||C|
|Tail Strike (Effect B/2)||No||5||F||I||I+KO|
|Light rifle, 2 barrels||No||8||I||C||K|
|Armour = Body / 5 + Scales||-||3||-||-||-|
Notes: You're just a young dragon-about-town
living on some of the income from your family's estate in the Southern
Mountains. Ghastly hole, and you really don't want to go near the place
while your father is alive, which probably means for the next couple of
hundred years. Meanwhile you live at your Club in Irieth, and have
occasionally visited Migantil and other foreign parts. You have a
strange talent for mesmerising Yarge - you just trick them into looking
into your eyes, and more often than not they'll do anything you want.
You have used this talent a few times for elaborate practical jokes.
You sometimes go firehunting (shooting) and have a light rifle for
birds. You have learned a little first aid following some hunting
accidents. You are usually accompanied by your servant, Chigal. You
suspect that he spies on you for your family.
Traits: Egalitarian (provided nobody too awful wants to be treated as an equal), Unthinkingly Devout, Eligible Bachelor, Curious about Yarge, Spendthrift.
Chigal, Indentured Servant, Age 220, Sex M
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 16ft
Wounds: B, F, I, I, C
Skills: Brawling , Flying  (but wings are bound), Thief , Stealth 
Equipment: Cloth cap
|Front claws x2 (Effect B+1)||2||6||F||I||C|
|Rear claws x2 (Effect B+2)||No||7||F||I||C/K|
|Bite (Effect B+2)||No||7||F||I||C/K|
|Constrict (Effect B+1)||No||6||I||I||C|
|Tail Strike (Effect B/2)||No||3||F||I||I+KO|
|Armour = Body / 5 + Scales||-||1||-||-||-|
Notes: You are Dignified Hathor's manservant,
and tend to think of yourself as the brains of the pair, although he
would disagree if he had any idea of your thoughts. Mostly your job is
to keep an eye on him, make sure his hats are clean and his room is
tidy and vermin-free, and report back to his father occasionally. You
live in the servants' hovel adjoining his club.
As an indentured servant your wings are bound tightly, even if they were released you would have trouble flying at first. The only reason why you don't run off is that you would be hunted as an outlaw.
You are a moderately adept thief, mostly going after good food and spirits. You are on the verge of alcoholism.
Traits: Misodrachist (hates most other dragons especially your employers), pious hypocrite (pays lip-service to the Orthodox Faith), family unknown, fear of Yarge.
Respectable Kitisel Hraden, Widow, Age 340, Sex F
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 22ft, Fearsome
Wounds: B, F, I, I, C
Skills: , Artist (Painter) , Brawling , Business , Flying , Psychology , Thief (forger) 
Equipment: Writing and painting cases with various interesting inks, samples of official paper, etc. Lock picks. Several fashionable hats.
|Front claws x2 (Effect B-1)||2||7||F||I||C|
|Rear claws x2 (Effect B+2)||No||10||F||I||C/K|
|Bite (Effect B+2)||No||10||F||I||C/K|
|Constrict (Effect B+1)||No||9||I||I||C|
|Tail Strike (Effect B/2)||No||4||F||I||I+KO|
|Armour = Body / 5 + Scales||-||2||-||-||-|
Notes: The world knows you as Kitisel Hraden,
widow of a captain killed by Yarge bandits, but 200 years ago you were
feted as Kinetika Hilideris, the actress and courtesan. Following a
brawl between rival lovers you became an embarrassment to the
aristocrats who had formerly professed to adore you - you couldn't hide
the fact that you were sexually active, and it became common knowledge
that you had never married. Eventually you were booed off the stage,
and had to accept that your career was over. You reinvented yourself as
Kitisel, with faked documents to "prove" your respectability, and have
been living off your savings and investment, and gifts from various
lovers, ever since. You have mature good looks - but Yarge find you
Traits: False widow, promiscuous, distrusts lawyers, pities Yarge (they have short lives and can't fly, and act so oddly when you're around), good investor, fashionable.
The great cave complexes occupied by Tiamath's noble families are the draconic equivalent of the largest Yarge country houses and castles, immense symbols of fortune and power. But natural caves in desirable locations are at a premium, and the largest are invariably occupied by the oldest and grandest families. Those of less exalted status may have to find alternatives, even if they can afford the country lifestyle. One such alternative is Copper Caverns, a copper mine that became uneconomical to work several hundred years ago and was subsequently converted to residential use.
The caverns are roughly 40 miles from the mines of Tolga, about the same distance from the Teltsie estate, as the dragon flies. The main surface access is a branch line from Spalt, a small village on the railway to Tolga; when it was built the Caverns were occupied by a director of the railway company who had the authority to order such an uneconomic project. Today the tenant of Copper Caverns must subsidise maintenance of the line to the tune of 75 crowns a year. There's a weekly service from Tolga, often suspended for two or three weeks at the end of winter due to the risk of avalanches, used mainly to bring in food and guests. Beasts can be driven overland from the Teltsie estate during the summer months, and some food comes in that way, but the route is impassable once the snow sets in.
The Caverns have had several tenants; while superficially a very attractive residence, they have very little grazing nearby and are completely snowed in from Icewinter to Thaw, so despite their impressive size they tend to be a rich dragon's folly rather than a serious country estate.
The current occupant is Illustrious Vimier Tenecel, best known as owner of the Irieth Journal and other publishing concerns in the capital. He's a genuine member of an old noble family, not a newcomer who has bought or married into a title, but his business interests are occasionally perceived as making the family a little "shop-soiled" amongst the nobility, though not as badly as though he were involved in something like the manufacturing industries. He has a reputation as a literary and artistic patron, and the guests at his frequent parties often include authors, poets, and other figures from this world. He is currently considered a likely candidate for the next vacant seat in the Noble Assembly, since the Journal generally supports the majority peace faction.
One of the obstacles to Tenecel's candidacy may be his wife, Illust Hethikah Tenecel, who has written three books claiming that the Church is repressing dragonesses and has suppressed the "true" Draconic religion, a matriarchal nature-worshipping faith in which the Mother-Goddess was Azashan! This isn't quite as crackpot an idea as it sounds, since some theologians have speculated along similar lines. They generally agree that the Yarge conquerors did most of the suppressing, and that the pre-Subjugation religions probably deserved it. However, her books aren't just theology or history; she describes rituals in far more detail than can be known from anything the archaeologists have found. As authority for these startling ideas she claims to be the last High Priestess of the cult, reincarnated.
They have one son, Dignified Captain Amer Tenecel, currently at home on medical leave following a skirmish with Yarge bandits on the South-East Frontier. Most dragons won't know much about him, but those with military connections may be aware that he has a reputation as a solid courageous officer who is popular with the soldiers he leads and respected by his superiors.
As the adventure begins the adventurers have been invited to spend a few days at Copper Caverns, to join the family and other guests in celebrating the New Year. There will be a ball on New Year's Eve, the food and drink will probably be good, and anyone seeking influential friends could do a lot worse.
|Troubleshooting: Some characters, especially members of the lower classes, may be unlikely guests at a wealthy party. Servants might accompany their employers; members of the criminal classes and other riff-raff may be another matter. Some possibilities for their presence include workmen enlarging one of the tunnels or repairing some other feature of the Caverns; temporary employees hired to help the servants cope with the number of guests; thieves casing the Caverns while pretending to be guests or servants; the lower-class lover or mistress of one of the guests, etc. The referee should discuss these problems with players and agree a solution before running the adventure. This adventure is not suitable for Yarge characters since it is set primarily in a cave complex with little artificial lighting.|
The host for the party is Illustrious Vimier Tenecel, a well-known publisher who is likely to become a Member of the Noble Assembly next Season.
As is well known, to obtain office Members must be supported by petitions signed by at least a hundred free male dragons. Obtaining the necessary signatures (in most cases a witnessed "X" since male dragons can rarely write) isn't easy, and in most areas well-oiled political machinery ensures that once a dragon has been elected, he will continue to receive support in subsequent years. The most common means for a newcomer to be elected are the creation of a new constituency or the death of a previous incumbent, with the party machinery throwing its weight behind a suitable replacement.
Currently one of the older members, Illustrious Yenalle of Tolgar East, is gravely ill and unlikely to survive the winter. Tenecel is the obvious replacement; he supports the same party, he's a major employer in Tolgar, and a personal friend of Yenalle. He's also rich enough to be able to take on the responsibilities of a member, such as paying the expenses of the party machinery that helps to keep him in office. He's agreed to take the seat, and the work of rounding up the necessary nominations is well under way. If there are no scandals or unexpected surprises he is almost certain to be elected.
There's one problem. While Yenalle and Tenecel agree on many issues, they are on opposite sides of a key political dispute, one that crosses party lines. Yenalle belongs to the majority War Faction, which believes that a "short victorious war" against the Yarge should begin now, while Tiamath has some chance of winning. Tenecel supports the minority Peace Faction, which has no faith in the idea that any war is guaranteed to be short or victorious, and would prefer to postpone it until it is unavoidable.
Members of the War Faction want massive investment in armaments; some of them are so anxious to see Tiamath well-protected that they have invested their own fortunes in the industry, and will lose everything if there is a general reduction in military spending. The Peace Faction would prefer to take things more slowly, acquiring financial and political influence in the Yarge world to dissuade war. Note that the Peace Faction also believes that war may eventually be inevitable; its members are just a little less convinced of the practicality of a pre-emptive strike without some other factor (such as a war between two rival Yarge nations) to stave off the full weight of Yarge retaliation. The most pessimistic members of this faction suspect that there are secret treaties between the Yarge nations to ensure that they will unite against any draconic threat, setting aside their own differences until the danger is past.
If Tenecel is elected in Yenalle's place, and there are no surprises in the other new Members, his vote will finally give the Peace Faction a large enough minority to force military appropriations bills to go to a second reading, causing delays at every stage of the procurement process. If Tenecel isn't chosen the next most likely candidate supports the War Faction, which would maintain the status quo and allow Tiamath to continue to develop militarily. To put Tenecel out of the running the war faction needs to discredit him somehow, but he appears to be doing nothing blatantly immoral or illegal. Now attention is shifting to his family and to events at Copper Caverns in general; a nice juicy scandal there might be exactly what is needed. His wife Hethikah seems the most likely target for intrigue - her weird beliefs and outspoken attitudes are beginning to attract attention - but it's always possible that their son could harbour some dark secret. Needless to say Tiamath's other political factions also have an interest in his candidature.
Give each of the adventurers a mission related to Tenecel's candidacy, to the caverns, or to the family in general - examples for the sample adventurers can be found below. Missions should give the adventurers goals which concern Tenecel. For example, the mission designed for Kellis Derwig could be adapted to any parson; the mission for Gethack Mothies might easily suit any soldier of similar age to Amer Tenecel.
Meanwhile a much more serious intrigue is about to begin, which may result in the death of Vimier Tenecel if the adventurers don't intervene.
The guests include Dignified Ereg Avageth and Dignified Goredigis Avageth, nephews of Illustrious Tenecel. Neither has much in the way of prospects; their mother, the late Oshenitara Avageth nee Tenecel, married for love, not money. Five years ago she and her husband were killed in a railway accident while touring Belshulath. Thanks to Yarge incompetence or malice the bodies decayed before they reached the brothers, so that they inherited little income and no flesh from their parents.
Illustrious Tenecel wasn't very sympathetic - he feels that they aren't children and ought to take more responsibility for their own lives - and now they are poor relatives, dependent on the rest of the family for charity. Somehow they've convinced themselves that killing Illustrious Tenecel and eating his body will help solve their problems - while they don't know the contents of his will, they're probably in line for some financial inheritance, and he's a large dragon. The snag is that if he disappears they won't immediately inherit, and if both nephews suddenly gain size it will be obvious what they did. The plan can only work if they can somehow provide airtight evidence of his death but delay eating his body. This isn't as impossible as it sounds; winter is approaching, and there's a glacier ten miles to the South-West which never thaws. Their plan, briefly, is to lure Tenecel out to the glacier, kill him, decapitate him, bury his body in ice, and dump his head where it will be found. Weeks later they'll return, dig out the body and share it. To make things less obvious one of them will stay close to the caverns and try to give the impression that both of them are around while the other is killing him. It's a risky plan, but if they play their cards right and don't give the game away it might just work. The snag is that they are incompetent plotters, forever whispering together and arguing (stopping and looking guilty whenever anyone notices them) and their behaviour should hopefully arouse everyone's suspicions, and lead to their undoing.
Optionally if Tenecel is killed there may be another suspect. Copper Caverns is generally considered to be played out as a mine, because the main lode has been exhausted and the value of the copper remaining is less than it would cost to extract it. Over the last few years the Yarge have begun to experiment with methods of sending signals via the electric fluid, conveyed through miles of copper wire, and the price of copper has begun to creep up to meet the demand. Tiamath's postal service and railways are on the verge of agreeing to construct a similar system, and it's a safe bet that the price of copper will rise again when there's a new local customer. The owners of Copper Caverns, a consortium trading as Tolga Mineral Rights Ltd., have decided that it's time to re-open the mine; residential use has never paid particularly well, and they hope to persuade Tenecel to end his lease thirty years early and give them vacant possession. One of the directors of the company, Respected Yoverack Huvager, is going to be at the party anyway, and his co-directors have asked him to discuss the possibility with Tenecel. They'll have a furious argument before Tenecel is killed, leaving Huvager as prime suspect. If the brothers don't appeal as murderers, perhaps Huvager will turn out to be the killer, perhaps someone else - several alternatives are discussed at the end of the adventure, including the adventurers!
Before running this adventure you are strongly advised to read the description of Copper Caverns that follows, decide which NPCs will be used and read the outline of events, remembering that things are certain to change as the adventurers get involved. This is a complicated situation, and referees should be ready to improvise as they handle it.
Your publisher, Vimier Tenecel, is likely to become a member of the Noble Assembly. You find this disturbing since you know that he has pro-Yarge leanings and in the past has required you to amend some passages of your books to make them less "offensive" to the enemies of all Dragonkind. You have heard that his election will tip the balance of the Assembly towards pacifism, and may leave the nation unprepared for the inevitable conflict that is to come. Friends with an interest in these matters have heard that you will attend his New Year's party and requested your help in eliminating him as a candidate. Obviously you need to do so without alienating him or harming his business interests - you still need a publisher! Whatever you do must be subtle. You have a week to think of something, and an inventive mind; it ought to be possible to find a way.
Illustrious Tenecel has invited you to attend his New Years party and conduct services on Firstday of the New Year. He has a reputation as a generous host, and your curate can take care of things at your parish - your superiors in the Faith want you to give him more experience for him, and it's not likely that the paupers and vagabonds who make up the bulk of your parishioners care. There is an unexpected consequence to your acceptance; your superiors tell you that Tenecel may be selected for the next vacant seat in the Noble Assembly; he appears to adhere to the Orthodox Faith, but he has friends who follow the Old Religion, and his wife allegedly has some very odd ideas about pre-Subjugation religions. The Church wants to be sure that he is genuinely Orthodox; maybe you'll learn something from his family and friends, or by watching events over the next few days. If you do well it may help your career - Veld knows you need some sort of miracle!
Captain Amer Tenecel, once a fellow cadet, is on medical leave and has invited you to his family's New Year's party. While your career was ended by your injuries, Amer expects to make a full recovery and seems to be destined for higher things, and he's chosen to rub that in your face by inviting you to the party. He's also engaged to Miregah Felandra, a beauty you've long lusted after, though it's your impression that the engagement is based more convenience than undying love - she'd be much pinker if that were the case. Maybe there's still a chance for you there, though you need to be discreet; Tenecel is about your size but much fitter, apart from his wound, and has a formidable reputation as a fighter. His father also has a lot of influence, and you've heard he's after a seat in the Noble Assembly; it wouldn't do to get on his bad side!
You've been invited to celebrate the New Year with the Tenecel family, friends of your parents (though you try not to hold that against them). Your father wants you to get in with the "arty" set, and suggested (not very subtly) that you might want to think about a career in publishing, which is old Tenecel's line of business. But that isn't his only motive; while you're at Copper Caverns your father wants you to take a look around the place, memorize the layout, and discreetly collect samples of rock from as many different areas as possible. It sounds silly, because everyone knows that the old mine is played out, but maybe there's something there apart from copper. With his industrial connections your father would know. What you know is that your father controls the purse-strings, and can make things very difficult for you if you don't do as he asks.
When you were a child your parents sold you into service; your first master was Vimier Tenecel, but he seemed to think that you were insolent, and within a few years he sold your contract on to the Yoverack family. As a result you lost all contact with your own family, and now can't even remember their names. This is the first time you've returned to the Caverns, and you plan to take the opportunity to snoop a little and learn more of your family. There may still be servants around who remember the circumstances, or papers related to your indenture or sale. And you hear that Tenecel is about to enter the world of politics; it would be nice to do something to mess up his chances and get a little revenge, if you can get away with it.
Vimier Tenecel was one of your lovers 200 years ago, but quickly distanced himself from you when you were disgraced. You had no problem with this, although a little financial help wouldn't have come amiss when you changed your identity. Like any other respectable widow you are expected to do Good Works such as helping charities; you chose to do so by visiting injured officers and soldiers in Irieth, and reading to them while they were bedridden. One of the patients you visited was Amer Tenecel, Vimier's son, who has now invited you to a party at his family's caves. It might be a little embarrassing if Vimier realises who you are, but it's a moderately important society event and tongues could wag if you decline the invitation.
Tenecel's home is a disused copper mine in a deep rocky ravine about forty miles as the dragon flies, or sixty by rail, from Tolga.
The entrance is a cave about 40ft up a hundred-foot cliff on the east side of the ravine; after traces of copper were found in the entrance to the cave system, the natural tunnels were cleared and expanded and the rubble was used to construct the access ramp and the track bed for the railway, which now terminates about a mile down the ravine - the last half-mile or so of track was buried by a landslide a hundred years ago and the tenant at that time refused to pay for it to be repaired; it was cheaper to end the line further from the cave. Guests arriving by train will find the walk pleasant; there is a levelled path, passing pens of swine and beeves (not shown on the plans), a pen of muttonwools and a barn. There is no grazing in the vicinity, apart from a vegetable garden fertilised by wastes from the animals and the caverns, so all fodder is ferried in by train, making it an expensive place to keep livestock.
Anyone flying to the Caverns will notice an irregular ring of stone blocks, each about ten by twenty feet and five feet high, on the cliff top. These give the impression of immense age and mystery, but in fact are just blocks put there to keep the rain out of old excavations; each block covers a hole drilled to find the mother-lode of ore, which originally occupied the area that is now the ballroom on the plan below. This was excavated over several hundred years, leaving a high-ceilinged cavity and a network of side tunnels originally used to search for more ore.
Miners continued to find ore in smaller and less accessible lodes until the falling price of copper made it uneconomic to continue. When this became clear, and a careful survey failed to find anything else worth mining, the mine was closed down for a few years, changed hands several times, and was eventually converted for residential use. The conversion consisted of clearing out the mining debris, closing some of the tunnels and expanding others, making the tunnels and chambers look less like a mine and more like natural caverns, digging alcoves to allow dragonesses to retreat from males, and so forth, in imitation of a natural cave complex. The plan shows the larger features but omits smaller details such as alcoves, doors and furniture.
The entrance is kept clear to allow visitors to glide in for a landing, although it's generally considered better manners to land outside and walk the rest of the way. Unusually this large entrance is accessible by ramp from the canyon floor; a more typical country home would have a small, separate and easily defended entrance for visitors on foot, and a main entrance with a large landing platform that was only accessible from the air. Instead the main concession to security is a pair of steel gates to close the entrance; they'd deter casual intruders such as Yarge bandits, but wouldn't stop a military assault.
As is customary the speaking room contains no valuables. One of the walls is carved with an intricate three-dimensional representation of the area around the Caverns as it was when they were still a working mine, another is a representation of Tolga from the air. The ceiling is painted to match the night sky, with inlaid flecks of quartz marking familiar constellations, and there is a mosaic map of Irieth inlaid into the stone floor. This isn't very detailed, and doesn't show anything unexpected or unusual. Conservatively-minded dragons will consider the chamber as a whole to be a little ostentatious and over-decorated, artistic dragons may feel that more could have been done with the space; whatever the opinion, they can agree that it's pleasingly gloomy, with little natural light past the entrance cave. Tastefully positioned lamps and patches of cultivated phosphorescent algae and fungi provide the little light dragons need.
A member of the family will probably greet visitors in the entrance when they arrive, and servants, family or guests may be encountered there at any time.
Guests who are staying for more than a few hours will be shown to the Long Gallery and one of the Guest Caves; another long cave running parallel to the gallery, but originally much less attractive to draconic eyes, has been partitioned into a dozen artificial caves with sleeping pits and niches for luggage, sized to house one or two dragons or a husband, wife, and dragonets. Unless there is some reason to do otherwise all of the adventurers will stay in one or another of these caves; by dragon standards they're equivalent to guest rooms, comfortable but not especially luxurious. Visiting servants sleep in the servants' quarters, which are considerably less comfortable. By custom and law anything can be left in a sleeping cave and will not be disturbed, but in practice most sensible dragons travel with a sturdy trunk and lock away any valuables they're not using. They can trust members of their own class, of course, but it isn't wise to put temptation in the path of servants. Any dragon with any pretensions to wealth carries a little gold for comfort, and spreads it out before going to sleep and clears it in the morning.
Basic etiquette for such sleeping areas is that everyone ignores everyone else, as though the caves were rooms in a Yarge hotel; what goes on inside them is entirely the business of their occupants, and nobody else. There may be a little discreet gossip, but no gentle-born dragon would be crass enough to say anything too publicly, for fear of causing a scandal or provoking a lawsuit or fight. Indiscreet behaviour elsewhere in the caverns is more likely to be noticed. For example, one of the guests described below is accompanied by a colleague who is also his mistress. Provided that she says nothing too provocative and avoids displays of affection outside their guest caves nobody will pay any "official" attention.
These caves are generally occupied in the evening and overnight. At other times servants may be around to clear up, but they are more likely to be deserted. They have doors which can be bolted from the inside, but do not have locks.
There's a natural pool at the end of the gallery, fed by a slow drip of water percolating through the rock. Some impressive stalactites and stalagmites give the area an organic feel, as do phosphorescent bacteria which light the pool with a dim green glow. The pool is the main water source for the caverns, at least thirty feet deep, and contains small blind cave fish which are considered an especial delicacy. Beyond it are three Dormitory caves, larger and a little less comfortable than the main guest caves, with multiple sleeping pits. They're mostly used to accommodate short-term guests who don't quite merit a guest cave to themselves; for example, they'll be used as rest rooms and for guests who stay on overnight for the New Year's Ball. Cave 13 is used by bachelors, 14 by married couples, and 15 by dragonesses.
The gallery itself is ornamented with several sculptures by prominent draconic artists; neat plaques identify the artist, date, and title. It's a display of art and wealth to rival any of the museums of Irieth, though care has been taken to avoid putting anything really valuable on display in such a public area. Taking pride of place in the centre of the floor near the dining hall entrance is a 35ft marble statue of a dragon, believed to be Samindran workmanship; it's at least a thousand years old and badly weathered and nobody is entirely sure who is represented, but it's assumed that it was a Majestic. Visiting dragonets must frequently be dissuaded from climbing on it, for fear of damaging it with their claws.
The adjacent high-ceilinged ballroom is by far the largest chamber of the complex, its floor levelled, sanded and polished to near-perfect smoothness. By day a very small amount of light penetrates from the roof - three of the stone blocks capping the old bore holes are made of white quartz, and a little light seeps through, though not enough to force dragons to shut their outer eyelids. There are thousands of flecks of gold-coloured copper pyrites in the walls, giving the area a gentle golden glow to dragon eyes - any Yarge that might visit won't see much without lanterns, of course. About the only criticism that could be made is that there aren't quite enough alcoves for a really big party - unattached dragonesses might find it difficult to retreat from male advances without blushing. Other communal areas such as the gallery and speaking room don't have this problem.
The dining room has efficient drainage channels and blood sluices, and is decorated with carvings depicting scenes of the hunt and field; dragons hunting with claws, teeth, guns, and flame, with prey including muttonwools, beeves, deer, even a Yarge princess. It's all enough to give anyone an appetite.
All of the family and guests, and possibly some servants, will probably be found in the dining hall at meal times; the ballroom will be used for some events planned for the holiday, and servants may be setting things up or clearing them away at other times.
The servant's quarters include the kitchen, used mostly to brew herbal teas and other hot drinks, for the skinning of carcasses, and for the servants to dine on leftovers; a pantry, used for foods of all sorts, smelling strongly of exotic teas and spices; and sleeping caves for the male and female servants. There's room for the staff and for the servants of visitors. A low ceiling gives barely three feet of head room for an adult dragon. These chambers are predominantly utilitarian without any of the artistic touches of the rest of the Caverns. There are some beautifully carved slates with religious messages (as on the right) but otherwise the only decoration is a large, mediocre and smoke-darkened painting of "Sunset over the Narrow Sea," by a dead and forgotten Yarge artist, which nobody wanted to exhibit elsewhere in the caverns.
The old mine workings are exactly what they sound like - narrow tunnels which followed traces of copper into the rock but weren't worth enlarging or converting to residential use. The ceilings are low, and adult dragons will have to creep along carefully to avoid banging their heads; they were worked by bound labourers, who tend to be smaller than free dragons. Dragonets love to play and explore the area, and there is nothing too dangerous there; the rock is hard and in no danger of collapsing. The map shows the main tunnels but there are many smaller side-tunnels and niches; it's the perfect place for a game of Hunt the Princess! The main tunnels don't so much end as choke with rubble and debris, and would probably go much further into the rock if excavated, but there is no reason to believe that there is anything worth finding if anyone does so; it's another rainy day activity for dragonets, who tend to find old nails and small fossils and occasional copper coins, but nothing valuable.
Note: if anyone with experience of mining takes a look they'll find green cuprous rocks and other evidence that there's still plenty of copper around - the mine was abandoned because the ore was worth marginally less than the cost of excavation, not because there was nothing left to be extracted.
The "family" part of the Caverns consists of a chain of natural caves used as Tenecel's office and library, some artificial caves similar to the guest caves (but a little larger and more comfortable) used for visiting family members, and some larger caves reserved for the immediate family.
Visitors wishing to see Tenecel are most likely to be taken to his office from the entrance or speaking room. Their first stop would normally be the office of his secretary; 'Spec Vebarie, a formidable elderly dragoness. Even when he's at home she organizes his time and makes sure that he doesn't have to handle too many interruptions. Unfortunately she's an employee, not an indentured servant, and has taken leave over the holiday period to travel to Tolga to supervise her granddaughter's wedding; she won't be back for a week. In her absence all ledgers and all business-related papers she supervises have been locked away in several strong metal-bound chests (BODY 10, lock Difficulty 8). The documents are arranged logically and neatly, and on her return she will soon notice if anything is missing or badly disturbed. Claw marks on documents and broken locks etc. will definitely be noticed! The keys are in Tenecel's desk. There's a small carving of Camran and the Tablets of Law (see the section on religion above) on a bookshelf which contains various business directories and books related to business and company law, otherwise the office is ornament-free and extremely tidy.
Papers related to Vimier's business or domestic purchases (such as the contracts of servants) are also in her files - there is nothing untoward about his finances, there are no real surprises in things such as letters to contractors and other businesses, but the papers concerning domestic arrangements include a series of increasingly curt letters from Tolga Mineral Rights about Vimier's tenancy of the Caverns. Anyone reading them will become aware that his lease expires in thirty years and that his landlords do not wish to renew it; in fact they would like to end it early. The reason is never explicitly stated by Tolga Mineral Rights, but 'Spec Vebarie keeps copies of letters she has sent, and Vimier makes several references to "the paltry value of copper, however it may rise" which make their motives reasonably clear.
One of the mission cards refers to the origin of a servant; if you use anything like this the records will also be filed in this office. In the case of Chigal the documents filed include his original bill of sale, with payment to an address in the poorest part of Irieth; this might be followed up in another adventure, with results to be determined by the referee.
The library has no real surprises; just shelves containing hundreds of books published by Tenecel's companies over the last three hundred years, bound volumes of the monthly Irieth Journal for the last fifty years, and some books and magazines from some of his rivals. A glass cabinet contains some real rarities, such as a first edition copy of the Yarge naturalist Lh'ook of Migantil's seminal work The Biology of Dragons, a first folio printing of Rasdarie and Nimuleris, and so forth.
The case also contains a trilogy of books by Illust Hethikah Tenecel; Priestess of Azashan; The Goddess of our Ancestors; and The Divine Mother. The first describes a series of dreams in which Hethikah gradually realised that she was a reincarnated priestess of the pre-Subjugation religion, the second and third go into more details of the religion and its practices. They make interesting reading for anyone familiar with the ongoing scholastic debate on the origins of the Draconic faith, mixing generally accepted theological and archaeological theories, speculation, and completely unverifiable "memories" of rituals and religious practices. Overall they are a very accessible guide to current theological thought, and if the sections on dreams are considered to be a fictional framing narrative the overall effect is not dissimilar to many other historical novels. Readers with an interest in theology won't find anything too exceptionable. Naturally she has spare copies which can be loaned to visitors, and will be flattered to be asked.
There are a couple of comfortable rock piles for readers to rest on, tables for supporting books at the optimum height for draconic readers, and some carefully placed patches of phosphorescent moss on the ceiling, set up to provide the perfect reading light. Several framed paintings and drawings decorate the walls, the originals of illustrations in some of the books. They range from landscapes and portraits to complex engineering diagrams, reflecting the diversity of his publications. There are also examples of the printer's art; a block of moveable type (if anyone can read mirror writing it's a page from the Book of Veld), an early woodcut printing block showing a carved image of an elderly dragon, a relatively recent line drawing of the Cupola station on a lithography printing plate, and a plate for a portrait of a female Yarge holding two swords which has obviously been engraved from a photographic original; studying the plate and reading the mirror-reversed caption will reveal her to be Keleg Dragon-Slayer.
The final cave of this chain is Tenecel's office, which has more bookshelves and cabinets of papers, a cluttered desk with dozens of pigeon-hole compartments and drawers, a locked gun cabinet containing a dozen shotguns and rifles in various calibres, a poorly stuffed fur-claw (bear) that demonstrates that taxidermy isn't one of the more widely practiced draconic arts, a large pendulum clock, and a well-made sculpture of his wife wearing an elaborate head-dress that looks more like a ceremonial costume than a normal hat. The cave has the slightly messy look of a working office - even at home Tenecel tends to spend an hour or two a day writing letters and reading the latest proofs, or just hiding out if he wants a little peace and quiet. A small locked chest (BODY 8, lock Difficulty 11) holds 258 crowns and some copper, the petty cash float that would normally be with 'Spec Vebarie. There's a second entrance which leads down to the uppermost of the family caves.
The family quarters are natural caves which occupy the lowest level, and offer more comfort and privacy than the guest caves. The uppermost has tunnels leading to several small caverns similar to the guest caves, but somewhat larger and more comfortable.
Cave [a] is occupied by Dignified Captain Amer Tenecel, son of the family and the principal heir. Ornaments include a wooden carving of him with several other officers looking out over the mountainous South-East Frontier, his commission in a neat wooden frame, a badly damaged rifle still bearing traces of Yarge blood, two bent Yarge swords, and other souvenirs of military life. A locked chest contains his field kit, rifle, pistol, and ammunition.
Cave [b] is reserved for 'Spec Vebarie, Vimier Tenecel's secretary. The fact that she occupies one of the family caves rather than a guest cave might be interpreted as a sign of unusual closeness to the family - suggesting that she might be something more than just a secretary. There has never been any hint of impropriety, but tongues wag. One theory is that she is Vimier's mistress, another that she's his daughter by an earlier mistress. Whether there is any truth to these rumours is left to the referee; she is otherwise treated as a valued employee, not a member of the family, but that may not be conclusive proof of anything. A chest holds three modest hats with room for more, her other luggage is with her. A table holds some tools and a half-completed carved slate, another religious quote.
Cave [c] holds Dignified Miregah Felandra, Amer's fiancée. She's not entirely happy about being accommodated so close to her fiancée, it smacks of impropriety, but she's prepared to put up with it if there's no better alternative. The cave is neat, kept tidy by her maid who is often present during the day.
Cave [d] is occupied by the Avageth brothers. The cave is littered with their possessions; both travel with an inordinate amount of junk and no servants to look after it. The debris includes books, knick-knacks and souvenirs, empty spirit bottles, and locked chests containing a few hundred Crowns apiece. Although neither would admit it, this is the current extent of their liquid hoards. They have a little income from their parents' estate, not enough for two dragons to live on in any style. There's a clue to their activities if anyone is looking for it - one of the chests contains a little gold and a copy of A Dragonet's Guide to Nature by the Blessed Jamanah, with two bookmarks. One is a page describing the effects of eating fresh dragon flesh, with the word "fresh" underlined several times. The other is a page describing Yarge food and Yarge experiments on keeping food fresh longer by storing it in ice. Again the word "fresh" is underlined.
The next natural cave is approximately equivalent to a Yarge parlour; it's more intimate than the speaking room, more of a private place. The ceiling and walls are inlaid with a decorative mesh of polished copper strips in an elaborate abstract geometric pattern. There are several small sculptures, all by leading draconic artists and probably more valuable than the larger works in the long gallery. Overall the impression given is one of restrained wealth and good taste.
A side cave was at one time used as a nursery; it is currently unoccupied.
Vimier and Hethikah normally sleep in the sleeping cave below, where a few hundred Crowns are spread to give the chamber a proper "homey" feel. The other furnishings include a makeup table for Hethikah, two cupboards full of hats, and bookshelves bearing an eclectic selection of titles, including several trashy thrillers and romances and a rare unexpurgated copy of Curious Mysteries of the Dragon Heart by 'Dragon Q'. A screen covers an escape tunnel, leading out of the Caverns and across the ravine, rising to the surface amongst boulders on the far side; the exit is covered by a heavy stone block and can't be opened from the outside. In the event that the Caverns were besieged by Yarge the tunnel would theoretically allow someone to sneak out and fly off for help, or attack the enemy from the rear. In practice opening it from the inside would be difficult for even the largest dragon (BODY versus Difficulty 14) since it is fifty-odd years since it was last tested and the pivots have corroded.
Finally, the undercave contains the portion of Vimier's hoard that isn't invested elsewhere, about 30,000 Crowns in gold. There is nothing (apart from custom) to prevent any dragon from sneaking in and attempting to steal from it, but of course nobody but the lowest of the low would do such a thing, and any thief would undoubtedly leave his or her scent and other clues. Both the Orthodox and Old faiths regard the Sanctity of the Hoard as a central tenet of their belief, with Hoard-Thieves reincarnated as lice or worse. Vimier knows the precise arrangement of the gold; if for any reason he can't sleep he descends to the hoard and checks it, perhaps counting one of the piles - if he were ever to notice a disturbance or come up short his wrath would be terrible.
This adventure has a large cast of NPCs, but some of them are there mainly as witnesses and innocent bystanders, who may be questioned but otherwise have little effect on events. It hasn't been felt necessary to give them a full list of skills etc. since the most important thing about them is personality. They can easily be reused in other adventures. There should be enough NPC guests to fill all the guest caves that aren't used by adventurers; if this leaves caves empty the referee should invent more guests. Caves 1-2 and 11-12 are unoccupied.
NPCs with names in bold italics can be omitted to make room for adventurers. Information in the "Murder plot" section relates to a murder committed by the Avageth brothers. Changes will be needed if there is another murderer.
Illustrious Vimier Tenecel, Age 389, Sex M
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 53ft, Tough (3 points), Scales (-2)
Skills: Brawling , Business , Flying , Linguist  (Migantine, Rasdogi, Lipahi), Marksman , Scholar  (Art, Art History, Sculpture, Yarge Art)
Quote: "Yes, it is rather a nice piece, though the casting wasn't as good as other examples of his work. They say that the mould was dropped and repaired..."
Equipment: See descriptions of caverns etc. Owns several companies and can draw on their resources.
Notes: Vimier is one of the wealthiest dragons in Tiamath, apart from the great land-owners, with a fortune estimated at more than two million Crowns. He runs his companies well, apart from an occasional tendency to micro-manage their affairs, and has a genuine love for art. He keeps the best pieces in his collection in the Caverns, but many more are on loan to museums in Irieth and Tolga, or displayed in the offices of his companies. His collecting has been criticised by some dragons who feel that it is an ostentatious display of wealth, but he is genuinely generous to charities etc. and this silences most of his critics. This generosity doesn't always extend to his nephews, whom he regards as wastrels.
He is concerned for the future of Tiamath and feels that the way forward is increased cooperation with neighbouring Yarge states, so long as the sovereignty of Tiamath isn't threatened. He's aware that he might be offered a place in the Noble Assembly, and sees it as an opportunity to put his views before a wider public.
He loves his wife but is unhappy about her beliefs; although reincarnation is part of the Orthodox creed, he's concerned that claims that Azashan was originally worshipped by dragons may be heresy, even though he knows that some theologians have put forward similar theories. He hopes that the lacklustre success of her books will do something to make her rethink her faith, or that their son's impending wedding will take her mind off her theories.
Traits: Egalitarian; Unthinkingly Devout; Happily Married; Internationalist.
Illust Hethikah Tenecel, Age 366, Sex F
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 44ft
Skills: Artist  (writer), Brawling , Flying , Scholar  (Spiritualism, Superstition, The Occult)
Quote: "Of course the nurturing nature of the mother-goddess must have seemed a threat to the patriarchal hierarchy..."
Equipment: Elaborate head-dress she believes to be appropriate to a priestess of the Mother-Goddess, sacrificial dagger, and any resources available in the Caverns.
Notes: Hethikah is in most respects an ordinary happily-married dragoness, who happens to have an unusual delusion; she believes that Azashan was the Mother-Goddess (which is an idea often discussed in theological journals, and has been since long before Hethikah's birth), and that she is the reincarnation of a 6,000-year-old High Priestess called T'Surk Walnor (which is not). She began to write about her "memories" forty-five years ago, and is currently working on her fourth book. Anyone looking at the manuscript will find it an inoffensive rehash of current archaeological theory combined with a plot that would be at home in any romance novel.
Murder Plot: She isn't expecting the murder, if it occurs, and will be heart-broken by the death of her husband, then practical about dealing with its consequences.
Politics: Shares her husband's internationalist views without being as heavily committed as he is; also a strong and outspoken supporter of improved civil rights for dragonesses.
Traits: Religious non-conformist; Happily Married; Reborn (believes she is a reincarnated priestess)
Dignified Captain Amer Tenecel, Age 137, Sex M - Family cave [a]
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 28ft, Thick scales 2
Skills: Brawling , Business , Flying  (currently cannot fly), Linguist  (Migantine, Rasdogi), Marksman , Military Arms , Signals , Stealth 
Quote: "Yarge bandits? They fight well and we've been killing the stupid ones for a couple of thousand years. The ones that are left are the cunning ones; a bit of a claw-full, but we can cope."
Equipment: Rifle & 50 rounds, pistol & 100 rounds, field kit, hat, various souvenirs.
Notes: Amer's father expected him to join the family business, and he has some training in the relevant skills, but eventually decided that he would first try life as a soldier. His father wasn't happy about this, but they have agreed to disagree, with the proviso that Amer will resign his commission and take over the business in the event of his father's death. He fervently hopes that it won't happen for many years. He is currently on medical leave; he was shot and one of the ribs of his right wing was broken during a spot of unpleasantness on the South-East Frontier. He can't currently fly since his wing is splinted, but expects to make a full recovery eventually. Meanwhile he's editing one of the books his father is publishing, a collection of military anecdotes, and finding it heavy going.
Amer has some interesting but ultimately irrelevant stories about his military experiences, some of them funny, others surprising; for example, he might mention that the Yarge bandits that shot him were actually on the run from the authorities in their own country, who warned his unit to expect their attack.
He is engaged to Miregah Felandra, a dragoness he met at a party during his last leave; she is visiting the Caverns over the holiday, and they intend to marry in Thaw. They don't have a huge amount in common, but their families have common business interests, his father publishes her poems, and his parents have been pushing him to father an heir given his potentially dangerous career. He regards it as a marriage of convenience, and is sure she does too.
He is the only surviving member of his clutch; one of two brothers died of scale rot at the age of seven, the other broke his neck flying into a tree eighteen years ago. There is nothing suspicious about either death, though the adventurers might initially think otherwise.
Murder Plot: He will be upset by his father's death, or any failed murder attempt, then coldly practical in dealing with its consequences. If the identity of the murderer(s) is revealed he will not be merciful.
Politics: Doesn't support either of the pro- or anti-war factions - he wants to see military spending continue at about its present level. He's in favour of rights for dragonesses and to an extent an egalitarian, although he is more interested in the idea of a meritocracy than complete levelling. He would like it to be easier for really deserving members of the common herd to rise above their stations, without wanting to throw away the aristocracy. These opinions are very much secondary to his patriotism and sense of duty.
Traits: Unthinkingly Devout; Engaged; Moderate Patriot; Fond of parents; Grudging Respect for Yarge; Sense of Duty.
Dignified Ereg Avageth (nephew of Vimier), Age 85, Sex M - Family cave [d]
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 16ft
Skills: Actor  (magician), Brawling , Flying , Marksman , Thief 
Quote: "And once more the cunning of the claw defeats the eye!"
Equipment: Selection of mechanical conjuring tricks, huge pistol and ammo, lock picks, two pairs of loaded dice.
Notes: Ereg expected to be a rich young idler - instead he's poor and has few skills that would help him to earn a living. He isn't personable or rich enough to be an eligible bachelor, so there is no hope of a bride with a rich dowry, and he has no useful contacts in (shudder) trade. He claims an innocent interest in the art of conjuring, but there have been rumours that he cheats when dicing. If dragons used cards to gamble (their claws make this impractical) he would probably be suspect in that area too. He isn't good enough to perform on stage; nearly all professional conjurors are Yarge (plus dragonesses at the most risqué music-halls), it goes with having fingers.
Murder Plot: He plans to use his acting skills and resemblance to Goregidis to cover for his brother's absence while he's killing Vimier. If Goregidis is caught he will of course deny all knowledge of his actions.
Politics: He's very much in favour of the status quo in politics; he wants the rich to get richer at the poor's expense. Unfortunately he's not rich, although he likes to think of himself as deserving to be so. He has no interest in war, except to avoid it.
Traits: Snob; Pious hypocrite; Orphan; Addiction (gambling)
Dignified Goregidis Avagath (nephew of Vimier), Age 85, Sex M - Family cave [d]
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 17ft
Skills: Brawling , Business , Flying , Marksman , Melee weapons , Thief 
Quote: "A thousand Crowns invested in railway shares at four percent would net forty crowns a year, compounded quarterly, if only we had a thousand Crowns to invest..."
Equipment: Yarge machete, huge pistol, rifle and ammunition, notebook, pen, bottle strong spirits.
Notes: Goregidis expected to be a rich young idler - instead he inherited little, tried to play the stock market and lost much of his inheritance, then lost most of the rest in a series of unwise law-suits. He's poor and has few skills that would help him to earn a living. He isn't personable or rich enough to be an eligible bachelor, so there is no hope of a bride with a rich dowry, and he no longer has any useful business contacts, since he has a reputation for suing his associates.
A book in his luggage has bookmarks at a passage describing the effects of eating fresh Dragon flesh, and another describing Yarge experiments on frozen food preservation. On both pages the word "fresh" is repeatedly underlined.
Murder Plot: Since he's a better shot than his brother he plans to carry out the assassination, while his brother covers for him. If he finds himself under suspicion he plans to lie as long as possible then claim that Ereg must be trying to frame him.
Politics: He has no interest in or knowledge of his uncle's politics.
Traits: Unthinkingly devout; Orphan; Insanely litigious
Dignified Miregah Felandra (Fiancée of Amer Tenecel), age 97, Sex F - Family cave [c]
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 27ft
Skills: Artist  (poet), no other relevant skills
Quote: "And for the honeymoon we were thinking Migantil then a coastal cruise..."
Equipment: Nothing relevant. She is accompanied by her maid, Alotho.
Notes: Miregah is beautiful and that delicate shade of pink which denotes a degree of chaste affection rather than unbridled passion. She is marrying for love, of course, at least as far as her friends are concerned, but the fact that one day her fiancée will become an Illustrious is definitely a plus, as is his family's undoubted wealth. Admittedly he's much older than her, but in a couple of hundred years the difference will hardly be noticeable. She just wishes that he'd give up his dreadful military career...
Murder Plot: Not involved, has no useful information, and will regard it as a horrible scandal.
Politics: A conservative with no particular interest in armaments, wants to keep her "social inferiors" in their place.
Traits: Unthinkingly devout; Snob
Respected Yoverak Huvager (Industrialist), age 210, Sex M - Guest cave 
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 17ft
Skills: Brawling , Business , Marksman , Science  (metallurgy, mineralogy)
Quote: "The underlying structure of the rock suggests quite a large untapped deposit remains, though exploiting it might be more trouble than it's worth..."
Equipment: Nothing relevant.
Notes: He's at the caverns as a guest, but he happens to be one of the directors of Tolga Mineral Rights, and the Chairman of the Board has asked him to try to convince Vimier to give up his lease early. Unfortunately Vimier will not take it well...
Murder Plot: Has an argument with Vimier shortly before his murder and, panicking, will lie about it at first.
Politics: He owns armaments shares but supports the peace faction, without actually doing anything to help them.
Traits: Unthinkingly devout; Happily married.
Respectable Nelorie Huvager (Wife of Yoverak), age 202, Sex F - Guest cave 
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 22ft
Skills: None relevant
Quote: "How horrible! Who could do such a thing? It must have been an awful accident."
Equipment: Nothing relevant.
Notes: A happily-married dragoness who has no great interest in politics or business.
Murder Plot: Innocent bystander, loyal to her husband and will support him if he lies about his movements.
Politics: Has some interest in the rights of indentured servants, would like to see an end to wing binding.
Traits: Unthinkingly devout; Happily married.
Glaris Avageth (Editor, The Irieth Journal), age 350, Sex M - Guest cave 
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 44ft, Fearsome
Skills: Artist  (Writer, editor), Brawling , Business , Flying , Marksman 
Quote: "The world of publishing was rocked to its foundations today by the tragic... no, make that horrific... the horrific murder of the Journal's publisher at..."
Equipment: Nothing relevant.
Notes: Avageth (no relation of the Avagath family, much to his relief) is one of Irieth's most experienced journalists, and has risen to the top in a very competitive business despite his lack of a title. He's at the party to discuss the Journal's budget and future plans with his employer. Like many male dragons he has never been able to write well, his claws get in the way of the pen, so is accompanied by Belcelith Dunnis, who will assist him and take
Murder Plot: He respects his employer and will be saddened by his death (or any failed attempt), and concerned at the effects it might have on the Journal, while at the same time realising that he's present at an enormously important story. If anyone tries to stop the news getting out they will have a fight on their hands!
Politics: He supports whatever his proprietor tells him to support, so long as it doesn't seem too insane.
Traits: Non-conformist (agnostic) but doesn't discuss his beliefs; Rational fear of Yarge; Mistress (Belcelith Dunnis)
Belcelith Dunnis (Reporter and mistress of Glaris Avageth), age 210, Sex F - Guest cave  (but sleeps in )
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 33ft.
Skills: Artist (writer / reporter) , Detective 
Quote: "Notable amongst the guests was Dignified Miregah Felandra, who wore a pearl-embroidered grey silk hat..."
Equipment: Notebook, pen, ink, several hats.
Notes: Belcelith and Glaris Avageth have been together for many years and their relationship (while officially employer and employee) is easily guessed. She is attractive and well-spoken, has a fund of interesting gossip, and blends in well with the literary and artistic set despite (or perhaps because of) her irregular lifestyle. She has mature good looks and an expensive taste in hats. She edits and contributes to the paper's arts and society columns, covers other stories as needed, and assists Glaris when his usual secretary isn't available. Male adventurers may assume that she is easily seduced; in fact she is completely loyal to Glaris, and he to her. She is working on a comic novel.
Murder Plot: Heard Vimier say that he had business to take care of on the morning of his death, knows no details.
Politics: Bored by most politics, but hopes that Vimier will pay some attention to improving rights for dragonesses.
Traits: Scarlet dragoness (claims her fiancée was killed by the Yarge); Feigned fear of Yarge; Fashionable
Eda Derwig (Romantic novelist), age 377, sex F - Guest cave 
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 17ft.
Skills: Artist (Writer) , Business 
Quote: "Oh, what a remarkable adventure! Do you mind if I make a few notes?"
Equipment: Notebook, pen, ink, two hats, a mantilla.
Notes: An authoress who regards everything she hears or does as grist for her plots. She has published thirty-seven novels and has a loyal readership of bored dragonesses. She is a grey spinster.
Murder Plot: Vimier publishes her books; she has everything to lose if he dies. She knows nothing useful.
Politics: She follows the Old Religion, and hopes that Vimier will help to improve the rights of members of her faith if he is elected.
Traits: Genuinely Devout; Spinster; Businesslike.
Blessed Ingen (Orthodox Parson and Theologian), age 400, sex M - Guest cave 
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 44ft.
Skills: Scholar (Theology, Pre-Subjugation Theology, Archaeology, History) 
Quote: "Of course there is some reason to believe that the pre-Subjugation faith was somewhat... ahem... different, but I for one would prefer not to romanticize such matters unnecessarily."
Equipment: Various holy texts, a hat.
Notes: A semi-retired parson from Tolga who will preach the Firstday service on New Year's Day if none of the adventurers are parsons. He considers Hethikah's work to be harmlessly inaccurate fluff.
Murder Plot: Not involved and knows nothing useful.
Politics: He's worried that Vimier will try to promote his wife's odd beliefs through the Noble Assembly. While they're harmless enough in themselves, they're potentially divisive if pushed by a member of the Assembly.
Traits: Genuinely Devout; Bachelor
Has Gelath (Economist), age 204, sex M - Guest cave 
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 34ft., Fearsome
Skills: Business 
Quote: "So as you can see, the underlying trend favours diversification of foreign investments..."
Equipment: Nothing relevant.
Notes: A pompous investment consultant who was somewhat surprised by his invitation. He has never met Vimier before, but understands that at some point during his stay he wants to be briefed on Tiamath's financial policies and tax structure, and the current status of international trade. He is accompanied by his young daughter Sebeth, a dragoness in her teens. His wife died while laying eggs; Sebeth is their only surviving child.
Murder Plot: He has no useful knowledge of the murder; will be alarmed by it, and worried for his daughter's safety.
Politics: He knows that Vimier expects to be appointed to the Noble Assembly, and has guessed that he will support the peace faction. He plans to invest accordingly. His political opinions are mainly attributable to his finances.
Traits: Widower; Over-protective father; Moderate Patriot.
Sebeth Gelath (daughter of Has), age 18, F - Guest cave 
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 10ft.
Skills: Athlete , Brawling , Business , Flying 
Quote: "Daddy is very worried about the exchange rate mechanism, but I think it will probably come out all right..."
Equipment: Nothing relevant.
Notes: A pretty child who will probably be a beautiful dragoness eventually, but will not be sexually mature for several more years. She has learned quite a lot about business from her father's books.
Murder Plot: If it occurs, she saw Yoverak enter the tunnel leading to Vimier's office about fifteen minutes before the body was found, and will leap to the conclusion that he is the murderer.
Politics: Mild support for the war faction.
Traits: Intellectually precocious; Justified fear of Yarge.
Respected Nalnegis Kellis (Pleader), age 352, sex M - Guest cave 
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 54ft., Flame
Skills: Actor (Legal arguments) , Scholar (Law) 
Quote: "And then, when the tension was at its height, I switched to my pleadingwig and asked the obvious question..."
Equipment: Watch, law books, hats and wigs.
Notes: An old friend of Vimier who has represented him in several lawsuits and is often invited to his parties.
Murder Plot: If a murder is committed he will try to keep things organized; he has no other clients present, so there isn't any conflict of interest. As an officer of the court he considers it his duty to take charge and keep things under control until police arrive from Tolga. He is accompanied by his wife and three young children; they also have an older son and daughter, both married, and expect to see grandchildren within the next few years.
Politics: He has no strong feelings on the war / peace division, but feels that the law is currently far too slack on debtors; he wants to see some of the old laws reinstated. He would dearly love to be a judge, and hopes that his friendship with Vimier may be a stepping-stone to the judiciary.
Traits: Lawyer; Law bore; Believes (mistakenly) that he is good with children.
Respectable Miviel Kellis (wife of Nalnegis), age 339, sex F - Guest cave 
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 27ft.
Skills: Nothing relevant
Quote: "Of course Penn is such a gifted pleader; everyone expects that he will be on the bench eventually."
Equipment: Nothing relevant.
Notes: An attractive motherly dragoness perpetually chasing after her dragonets. She is helped by her maid, Foharegis, who is staying in the servant's quarters. She is concerned that Ogefon is a little sickly, and tries to keep him away from priests and anyone else who can legitimately devour him.
Murder Plot: Not involved.
Politics: Wants more government support for medical research and hospitals generally. This is, of course, a contentious viewpoint given the attitude of both major faiths.
Traits: Happily married but slightly bored; she is thinking of finding a younger lover once the children leave home.
Ogefon, Vigal and Hethikah Kellis (dragonets), all age 12, sex M,M,F - Guest cave 
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 6ft.
Quote: "Last one down the tunnel's a stinky Yarge!"
Equipment: Nothing relevant.
Notes: Three overactive young brats
Murder Plot: Ereg plans to use the dragonets as his alibi, and they will tend to get under foot during the investigation. They don't know anything useful, but will try to make up something interesting if questioned.
Traits: Noisy brats. Ogefon is less active than the others and in bright light looks slightly green; a really strict Parson might suggest eating him.
Eda (Cook / Housekeeper), age 403, sex F - servant's quarters (Bound servant)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 11ft.
Skills: Business (household finances etc.) 
Quote: "Dinner will be served in twenty minutes, sir."
Equipment: Butcher's knives etc.
Notes: A typical servant, adept at skinning dead beasts and arranging them attractively, brewing teas and other refreshments, and running the day to day affairs of the household. She is in charge of the other indentured servants.
Murder Plot: Horrified but knows nothing useful.
Traits: Grey spinster; Snob
'Spec Vebarie (secretary) , Age 265, sex F - Family Cave [b] (but not present at start of adventure)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 29ft.
Skills: Artist  (calligraphy, engraving), Business , Linguist  (Migantine, Rasdogi, Lipahi), Marksman 
Quote: "I've reviewed the accounts and everything seems to be in order."
Equipment: Nothing relevant.
Notes: An honest secretary with an extremely good memory. She is a paid employee, not an indentured servant, and completely loyal to Vimier Tenecel. She is entrusted with much of the day-to-day business of his companies. She is in Tolga preparing for her daughter's wedding when the adventure begins, and her whereabouts can be confirmed by numerous witnesses. She is a minor legatee in Vimier's will, inheriting a few hundred Crowns.
Murder Plot: Not involved. If she learns of Vimier's death she will return to Copper Caverns to help the family manage his estate. If the adventurers are getting nowhere she might be useful as a detective.
Politics: Isolationist - would like to see Tiamath close its borders and keep all contact with the Yarge to a minimum; she regards them as dangerously unstable and doesn't want to see Tiamath dragged down with them.
Traits: Widow; Rational fear of Yarge; Genuinely devout.
Yethig (handyman / gardener / cattleman / etc.), age 200, sex M - outdoors or servant's quarters (Bound servant)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 22ft.
Skills: Riding 
Quote: "So thee wants the best beeves for t'banquet, do ee? I'd best go round them up then."
Equipment: Nothing relevant.
Notes: A strong bound servant who looks after the beeves, swine, and muttonwools, and takes care of the vegetable garden, day-to-day repairs, etc. He has an incomprehensible rural accent and secretly despises his employers.
Murder Plot: Knows nothing useful.
Politics: Supports servants' rights but has no contact with any political organisation.
Traits: Revolutionary; Pious hypocrite; Superstitious.
Mievel and Yeg (Tenecel maids), ages 132 and 114, sex F - servants' quarters (bound servants)
Alotho (Miregah's maid), age 225, sex F - servants' quarters (bound servant)
Foharegis (Miviel's maid), age 94, sex F - servants' quarters (bound servant)
All BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 5-7ft.
Skills: Nothing relevant
Quote: "Yes miss, at once miss."
Equipment: Nothing relevant.
Notes: Uneducated servants who are often found cleaning around the caverns. The visiting maids will most likely be found in their mistresses' caves when not in the servants' quarters. Mievel, Yeg, and Alotho are already grey, Foharegis is heading that way. Foharegis is only present if Miviel is present.
Murder Plot: If you need to plant clues they've seen or heard something relevant, otherwise not involved.
Traits: Grey or greying spinsters
Beirandra (hired servant), age 120, sex M - servants' quarters
Frelt (hired servant), age 186, sex M - servants' quarters
Both BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 17 & 19ft. Frelt has flame.
Skills: Actor  (Beirandra is primarily a musician, Frelt is a comedian)
Quote: "You roared... sir?"
Equipment: Nothing relevant.
Notes: Beirandra and Frelt are actors who work in the off-season as hired servants, supplied by an agency in Irieth. Thin and easily-snapped cords bind their wings to symbolize their status. Both are handsome, stronger and larger than the average servant, and reasonably good at helping to move luggage and other servant-like activities.
Murder Plot: If you need to supply clues they've seen or heard something relevant, otherwise not involved.
Politics: Optionally one or both of them has been planted by the Pro-War faction to create a scandal. For example, they might bring cooked or rotting meat to a banquet instead of fresh carcasses, or one of them might attempt to seduce a female guest.
Traits: Handsome, spendthrift.
The party is planned to straddle the New Year, with a ball on New Year's Eve. There is only one train a week, on Threeday, and most of the guests plan to arrive on the Threeday before the New Year and leave a week later. It's unusual to fly in since they will be travelling with luggage, servants, etc., but not out of the question; these items can be sent ahead of a dragon flying there directly, but it is impolite to arrive much later than your servants.
If anyone wants to travel to the Caverns with luggage on another day they can get off a main-line train at Spalt, the junction with the branch line to Copper Caverns, and hire drafters and a cart from one of the nearby farms. There's a rough cart track alongside the railway, but the journey is uncomfortable and slow. Without a wagon the only routes out on other days are to fly or walk. The only other surface route is across country from Teltsie, but it's little more than a cattle track, unsuitable even for carts.
While this adventure mostly describes the activities of the guests in residence, a number of additional guests will fly in for the ball, leaving late that night or the following morning (if they aren't too bothered about the religious niceties of flying on Firstday).
Mail arrives or is sent on the Threeday train; if there's a really urgent message on other days it has to be sent by flying courier from Tolga or Spalt, urgent outgoing mail must be taken to the station at Spalt.
The main events Vimier and Hethikah plan for the week are listed below then detailed on a day by day basis.
The detailed descriptions that follow assume that the Avageth brothers are the only dragons present who plan to commit murder. It should be amended or abandoned altogether if things are run or develop differently.
Most guests arrive; the family and servants (including hired servants) are already in residence, with the exception of the Avageth brothers who are detained in Irieth on business (they're actually dodging some of their creditors). Their luggage arrives ahead of them, and is taken up to the Caverns with the rest of the guests' baggage and other goods. As the guests arrive 'Spec Vebarie leaves for Tolga, saying a few words to some of the guests (NPCs she has previously met) before she boards the train. Anyone eavesdropping will know that she is going to her daughter's wedding.
No special entertainment is planned for the day, just the arrival of guests, good food, and pleasant conversation.
After an extended breakfast guests are invited to join a hunt in the hills south of the Caverns. It's a gorgeous autumn day with frost in the air, and the hunt soon finds some deer and muttonwools. Lunch is eaten outdoors, with the catches of the day shared amongst the guests and augmented with carcasses brought from the caverns by servants. Due to his injured wing Amer Tenecel can't join the hunt, and any parsons or bound servants must either follow on foot or miss the hunt altogether. The Avageth brothers fly in during the afternoon, annoyed to have missed the hunt, and are settled in by the time the hunters return.
In the evening the dragonesses and older dragonets play charades in the ballroom, while most of the adult males gather in the speaking room to gamble with dice. The game resembles Hazard, a game similar to Craps but rather more complicated. Referees may choose to use the real rules of the game, or use a series of luck rolls (SOUL versus Difficulty 6) to gamble honestly, or Thief skill versus difficulty 7 to cheat. Players should roll against each other and against NPCs, using the usual rules for opposed skill rolls. Ereg will cheat: If you are using the real rules of Hazard the referee should make a Thief roll any time that Ereg (or any NPC who cheats) gets an unfavourable dice roll; reroll one dice if the Thief roll succeeds, but the revised roll must be used, even if the result is worse than the original roll. Players make this roll for themselves. If anyone cheats any adventurers that are present should have the opportunity to notice, by means such as a Detective or Thief skill roll, a MIND roll to notice something amiss, an Acting (Conjuror) roll, etc. Optionally some of the NPCs may notice cheating by the adventurers, but won't spot Ereg unless one of the adventurers does so first.
Anyone caught cheating faces ruin. The only honourable ways out are to commit suicide; to attack and kill the accuser and claim to be innocent; or to publicly confess in church and renounce all titles and wealth. A less honourable escape route might be a change of name and move to a new location, in the hope that nobody will recognize the cheater, but again all titles and most wealth will probably be lost.
There might even be political repercussions; a serious cheating scandal may make it harder for Tenecel to get his hundred nominations, or make it more likely that he will be challenged at the opening of the Noble Assembly. It's to Tenecel's credit that he won't even think of trying to hush it up, regardless of the possible effect on his career.
If Ereg is caught cheating Goregidis will realise that it's a golden opportunity - he isn't that fond of his brother, after all, and will inherit Ereg's remaining money and flesh if he commits suicide (if Ereg dies in a fight Goregidis gets his money, after the winnings have been taken back, but the other combatant or combatants get the meat). Goregidis will deny all knowledge of Ereg's cheating and urge honourable suicide in the strongest possible terms. If Ereg doesn't fall for it he will suggest one of the other escape routes above, such as public confession. If Ereg somehow escapes his well-deserved fate (e.g. by claiming that his cheating was the prelude to a conjuring trick) he will nevertheless be thrown out of the Caverns by Tenecel and promptly disinherited. This makes him the obvious suspect in any subsequent murder.
If Ereg is eliminated the need to kill Tenecel immediately is reduced; Goregidis will have control of the remainder of their parents' estate, nearly doubling his income, and can try to persuade Tenecel that Ereg led him astray, and that he deserves a second change. Ereg won't like it, but it's a dragon-eat-dragon world out there, and sometimes you have to be cruel to be rich. Goregidis may even think of warning Tenecel against Ereg! There are several other possibilities:
None of the other NPCs are cheating. If any of the adventurers cheat then Ereg should be given a chance to spot the cheating. Naturally he will immediately denounce whoever has cheated him!
If any of the adventurers are caught cheating they should face the same penalties as Ereg; a fight to the death, suicide, ruin, etc. Dragons take their gambling seriously, and the merest whisper of a cheating scandal will be spread by everyone present. There may also be an assumption of guilt by association; "that's so-and-so, he was a friend of such-and-such, the dragon who cheated at dice at Copper Caverns."
|Troubleshooting: If one of the adventurers is accused of cheating the others may be tempted to lend a hand in e.g. lying for him, helping him fight his way out, etc. If anyone suggests this, the referee should mention the stigma attached to cheating and the likelihood that anyone helping will be tarred with the same brush. What they do about this is up to the players, but they shouldn't rush into things without knowing the facts.|
Provided that the evening doesn't end in allegations of cheating, the gamblers find their way to bed in the early hours of the morning and the night goes peacefully. If there has been some sort of scandal recriminations etc. will probably go on for hours, with events the following day badly disrupted.
Assuming that nothing too upsetting happened the previous day or evening, Hethikah announces at breakfast that at noon she'll re-enact an "authentic pre-conquest Equinox rite" celebrating the New Year. Since she isn't stupid, and doesn't want to offend guests with more orthodox beliefs, she makes it clear that this is intended to be a historical re-enactment, not a religious ceremony. It will begin at nine forty, a half-hour before noon, and end at ten twenty or so, and will be held at the stone circle on the cliff above the caverns.
In the event the ceremony is fairly dull, not the orgy some prurient dragons might expect, the main highlights being Hethikah's curiously archaic head-dress and the slaughter of a muttonwool (standing in for a sacrificial Yarge princess, and a nice shared mid-day snack for the guests) at noon. Afterwards she invites everyone back to the speaking room, where she gives a talk on her version of ancient religion.
As the day goes on more guests (those who are not staying at the Caverns) start to fly in for the New Year's Ball that's planned for the evening; this won't be cancelled unless something very serious has occurred, since there is no easy way to stop the guests from arriving.
In all there will be about forty guests, including the adventurers but excluding dragonets. Those who are not staying at the Caverns have a long flight each way, but it's nothing too out of the ordinary for dragons in good health. Some fly from Spalt and other villages, others take a direct route from Tolga. Mostly they'll dance until the early hours of the morning then fly home. Several are accompanied by dragonets, if there is nobody at home to look after them; the younger dragonets are carried in baskets, the older can fly under their own power. While it's going to be an exciting party, the guests arriving (and the guests already in residence) aren't the crem de la crem of society - the real aristocracy will be at the Teltsie celebrations forty miles away.
In the afternoon most of the dragonesses will be seeing to their skin burnishing, hats, etc. A dragonet's party with games etc. is planned in the Speaking Room, mainly to keep the children out of the way while their mothers are busy getting ready for the ball. Any male dragons with usefully entertaining talents such as story-telling or singing will be expected to participate. In all there should be eight or ten dragonets present, enough to be a bit of a handful for the dragons running the party, ranging from ten to twenty years old (pre-adolescents and adolescents, with the oldest on the verge of sexual maturity). The aim is to tire out the dragonets before the ball begins, so that they won't be a nuisance; one of the maids is present to help manage them, and will be left to look after them for the evening.
If Ereg is still around he's expected to perform some magic tricks at the party; he and Goregidis have planned for this, and if possible intend to lure Vimier out of the caves and kill him while (apparently) busy with preparations for the performance. Unless someone intervenes it won't be hard for Ereg to pretend that his brother is also present; he'll be bustling around the props and making a nuisance of himself, and most sensible dragons will try to stay out of the way. Meanwhile Goregidis tells Vimier that he and Ereg saw a "huge furclaw" when they were flying to the Caverns the previous afternoon, and suggests that they go out hunting and bring it back as a surprise treat for the ball. Unfortunately Vimier can't go out; he has meetings planned and business to attend to. This derails the murder plan for the day.
If Ereg is dead or has been thrown out, Goregidis isn't a conjuror so isn't expected to participate in the party, except possibly by helping to keep the children under control, but will claim to be too upset to take part. If he has been injured, as in some of the options above, he has even more of an excuse not to join in.
During the afternoon Tenecel does indeed have a couple of business meetings planned, and if any of the adventurers are at the caverns on business this may be a good time to fit them in.
The Ball begins in the evening, and should be the glittering occasion that might be expected. Even if there has been a scandal the previous night the Tenecel family will try to put the best possible face on things, without attempting to hide the facts; if they deny it the truth is certain to leak out eventually, it's better to play things down without any outright refusal to discuss things. A cheating scandal thus becomes a "disagreement at the card table," a fight to the death or suicide is described as "settling things honourably."
One of the hired servants is a reasonably skilful drummer and provides the music for the evening; optionally, if any of the adventurers has pretensions to musical talent they could be invited to take a turn at the drums. If referees want to provide a sound track for this part of the evening, look for solo or group performances by military drummers without pipes and other accompaniment. There are several examples on YouTube.
During the dance try to give the adventurers things to do; encounters with members of the family and other guests, flirting, exploration of one of the disused tunnels, a quick search of Vimier's office while he's otherwise engaged, and so forth. There's no need to prepare much information about the extra guests; they won't be involved in the action, just mention them as being "a handsome young dragon who looks a little the worse for drink," "a group of attractive young dragonesses who seem to be giggling about something," "an elderly grey dragoness who is determined to flirt," and so forth. Use names from the list at the start of the character design section if needed.
Refreshments (snacks such as candied pears, fresh fowl and of course drinks) are served in the dining room, with one or another of the servants constantly bustling in with more platters and jugs of wine and fruit cordials. This might be a good opportunity if someone wants to sabotage Vimier's political ambitions, since no one servant is watching things constantly. Adding some old or cooked meat would be relatively easy. However, given the general level of alcoholic consumption it is likely to go unnoticed or may be passed off as a joke if none of the adventurers make a fuss about it.
At 19.75, five minutes to midnight, Vimier signals for the music to stop, and servants circulate with cups of wine and other drinks. As midnight nears Vimier proposes a toast to prosperity, health, and happiness for the New Year. All dragons have a good sense of time; it's part of their natural navigational ability, so he ends just in time for everyone to drink in unison at midnight. Then the drummer plays a spritely dance tune and everyone joins in to a fast dance, resembling a Yarge square dance, led off by Amer Tenecel and his fiancé. If her condition hasn't been changed by the attention of any adventurers with designs on her virtue, she "pinks" noticeably during the dance. If for any reason she doesn't there will be some whispered speculation that she has already been closer to Amer (or some other male) than is strictly ladylike.
After the dance the older Tenecels and Miregah Felandra retire for the night, leaving Amer as the family's representative for the remainder of the evening; the Avageth brothers are also present, if still in the caverns, but will be very drunk. Anyone talking to them or suggesting that it might be time to head for their caves will be treated to a long rambling discourse about their uncle's meanness, which implies some degree of resentment. If possible this should include a cryptic reference to "making things better" or "not taking things lying down" which might imply that they're up to something, but keep it vague. If players don't seem to be noticing anything this can get a little louder, with one brother trying to keep the other quiet, but be careful not to give too much away.
During the ball more gambling takes place in the speaking room; if Ereg hasn't already been caught cheating this is another opportunity to do so.
The dance goes on into the early hours, then the guests who aren't in residence fly home, with a minority (mostly dragonesses with dragonets, and anyone too drunk or tired to fly) sleeping in the dormitory caves and staying on for breakfast and the morning service before leaving. Note that it's generally considered irreligious to fly to chapel, but most dragons turn a blind eye to someone (other than a parson) flying home after the service; given the location there isn't really much alternative.
It's the Sabbath, and all good dragons are expected to attend morning service; the devout will also attend a short evening service. With the exception of servants everyone is expected to refrain from work and from unnecessary flight, although as noted above flying home after a service is generally ignored.
Copper Caverns doesn't have a purpose-built chapel; if there is to be a service a portable altar is set up in the ballroom, with religious icons on stands. Formerly a semi-retired parson lived in one of the guest caves, but he died two years ago and since then Vimier has fallen into the habit of inviting priests to stay for a week or two, as their duties and parishes permit, and conduct services in the ballroom on Firstday. If nobody is available the family flies to Spalt. Vimier hopes to make a permanent appointment before the parliamentary Season begins; each service is, in a sense, an audition. If none of the adventurers are priests the service will be conducted by Blessed Ingen.
Vimier is looking for someone who preaches interesting but relatively short sermons and won't have a problem with his wife's eccentricity, but might possibly persuade her to moderate her views. To be offered the position the candidate needs to preach an Orthodox sermon between a half and three-quarter hours long (40-60 minutes) and make a successful Actor (Preach) roll when he takes the Firstday morning service, with a shorter sermon and another successful roll in the evening, and handle at least one conversation with Hethikah reasonably sensibly; for example, a priest who interrupted Hethikah's "demonstration" or tried to exert too much authority probably wouldn't be offered the job. It's a good post for a Parson without much ambition, but given the location and transport difficulties may not suit an active adventurer. Vimier has enough "clout" with the Church to get someone he likes transferred to the Caverns. If the right candidate took the job he would be willing to pay for the construction of a small chapel, once he has solved his current problems with his landlords. If present, Blessed Ingen isn't really interested in the post; he's thinking more in terms of retiring to an academic position.
Since it is Firstday everyone is expected to spend the day quietly, with no hunting trips or strenuous sports. After the service several of the previous evening's guests make their farewells and fly off. Hethikah suggests that since there are several authors present, some readings might be an interesting way to pass the time - perhaps a favourite passage from an existing book, or an excerpt from the current work in progress. Since the ballroom is still set up for worship, and the weather is warm and dry for the time of year, she suggests going outdoors and combining the readings with a picnic; there's a natural amphitheatre a few hundred yards north of the Caverns' entrance, with excellent acoustics and plenty of comfortably smooth rocks to perch on that give a good view of the "stage." The closest rocks (shaded grey) have the best view and acoustics.
For adventurers this is most likely to be an opportunity to take a look around the caverns while most of the occupants and guests are out of the way; there are still a few servants around, but the family and most of the guests are outside. Anyone avoiding the reading completely is likely to be noticed, but as the afternoon wears on it should be easy enough to make an excuse to go back inside for a while. Vimier spends most of the day outdoors listening to the readings. Amer's wing is hurting and he decides to stay inside. He'll mostly be in his own cave but visits the library, kitchens, etc. and should be a wandering hazard for anyone doing anything that is supposed to be hidden from the family.
Hethikah is all too willing to read from her own work in progress, The Fall of the Temple, "a tale of the Subjugation." It's a turgid passage describing the pillaging of a draconic temple by the invading Yarge, the priestess-heroine's narrow escape from captivity, and the slaying of several dragonets and temple guards who try to slow the invaders.
Miregah Felandra has a new poem about nature called Snowfall on Distant Mountains and is pleased to recite it. It's actually moderately good poetry, but over-long to the point where her audience may become a little restless before the final verse.
Belcelith Dunnis won't be asked to read unless one of the adventurers has somehow found out about the book she's writing and mentions it to Hethikah. She's been working on her comic novel Kind Hearts and Dragonets for at least ten years, but only has a hundred or so pages written. If asked to recite she will initially decline, but with sufficient persuasion and at least one stiff drink can be persuaded to read a short passage in which the "hero," a lecherous young dragon-about-town with more money than sense, attempts to seduce an older and considerably wiser dragoness who has her own plans for his wealth. It's well-written and funny, but a little risqué by the standards of most dragon literature.
Eda Derwig's latest romance is still an untitled work in progress. It's about what might be expected from her, a melodramatic historical piece in which a handsome dragon engineer and beautiful young dragoness find true love while he is building the railway from Irieth to Tolga. The passage she reads describes the hero rescuing his love (whose claws are caught in the points) from the path of a runaway engine.
If you are using the sample characters, Segievel Yepragis will also be asked to read from his latest work. This might be an opportunity for some anti-Yarge propaganda or a vivid description of the horrible results of neglecting Tiamath's defences. Any other characters with a literary background will also be asked to read. If adventurers are skilled in other areas of performance art (such as drumming and other forms of music) they should also be encouraged to participate. None of this needs to be played out in detail; the adventurers should simply be aware that the readings are happening. If possible make up a few short examples of the NPC authors' work to quote as needed.
At lunch time servants bring out freshly-killed muttonwools and swine, devoured with gusto by the assembled guests. While everyone is digesting their meat the Avageth brothers (if both are still present) start another argument, lowering their voices if anyone seems to be paying attention. Anyone who sneaks up without them noticing will hear something along the lines of "mutter mutter get him alone mutter mutter take what's ours mutter mutter need a good excuse..." etc. Don't make it clear what they're up to, but make it clear that they're up to something, without being too blatantly obvious.
In the evening most devout or nominally religious dragons will return to the ballroom for another service; if Ingen is preaching he will speak on the subject of literature and the arts, all of which flow from Veld, Camran, etc., with reference to the readings of the morning and the lessons (if any) to be learned from their various themes. It's a little over-long but flattering to the authors.
No formal events are planned after supper; unless the adventurers suggest something else, a story-telling session begins in the speaking room. If any of the adventurers are at all well-known they will be pressed to tell stories of their exploits. Topics might include celebrities (draconic and Yarge) that characters have met, interesting places they've visited, exciting adventures and so forth. Since dragonesses are present the story-tellers will be expected to maintain some sense of decency, and particularly scurrilous stories should be avoided, but tall tales are another matter; nobody minds a little exaggeration although it's important not to lie... at least not too blatantly. As an alternative, a tall tales contest might be more fun ; "So tell me, General, exactly how did you defeat an entire Yarge army corps armed only with your bare claws, several yards of string, and two cloves of garlic?"
Hethikah plans amateur dramatics for the last evening of the holiday, and expects the guests to participate. The play is the classic farce Rasdarie and Nimuleris (described in the rules section), which every dragonet learns in the nursery. It poses an unusual challenge since several of the roles are Yarge. Companies lacking the requisite Yarge actors generally use dragons in the Yarge roles, wearing simple masks and speaking in high-pitched tones to convey the main Yarge features. Hethikah has several copies of the script, some masks, and roles for everyone; the principal draconic and Yarge leads, spear carriers, hatchling dragons, etc. The main characters are
If players ask for scripts give them the summary and a role, and tell them that they'll have to improvise the rest as they go along. They'll have the rest of the morning and afternoon to rehearse and get ready for their performances.
Meanwhile the Avageth brothers are desperate to "take care" of Vimier, if nobody has derailed things. There's no point trying to pretend that both brothers are in the caverns, so they might as well go out with Vimier and plead ignorance of his whereabouts after they've killed him. It'll look a little suspicious, but if neither of them has grown there will be no reason for anyone to think that they've eaten him
After breakfast they approach him again (if possible just publicly enough to arouse the interest of at least one adventurer) and remind him about the "enormous furclaw" they claimed to have seen a few days earlier. Vimier finally feels able to take the time for a quick expedition once he's taken care of a little business - a meeting with Yoverak Huvager who (although Vimier doesn't yet know it) wants to discuss his tenancy of the caverns. This will be a very acrimonious meeting, and anyone in the vicinity of his office should realise that some sort of argument is going on, even if they don't see Huvager. The meeting ends with Vimier refusing any suggestion of an early end to his lease, and shouting "I'll see you in court!" as Huvager beats a hasty retreat.
After the meeting Vimier gets his rifle and ammunition and prepares to go out hunting with his nephews. Meanwhile they can't resist another quick plotting session ("mutter mutter some sort of accident..." etc.) Don't make it clear what they're up to, but make it clear that they're up to something, without being too blatantly obvious.
If the adventurers have become involved in the play don't worry - if they missed all the clues it's unfortunate, but not the end of the world. Because if Vimier and the brothers leave without at least one adventurer deciding to tag along or follow them, a few minutes later Amer Tenecel will start to feel uneasy; he's subconsciously realised that there is something odd about the brothers' behaviour, and he's been a soldier long enough to take his instincts seriously. He can't fly after them himself, his wing is too weak, but maybe there just happen to be some stalwart adventurers around who can investigate for him...
Meanwhile, Huvager has gone out flying to calm down after his argument with Vimier. He'll return around the time that dragons start to realise that Vimier is missing, and if questioned will panic and try to minimise the argument. This may lead to his becoming a suspect. See below for later events.
Astute adventurers may wonder why the brothers were flying over the area at all - it isn't on a direct route from any populated area to the Caverns. If asked about this, they make a feeble excuse about getting "a bit lost" and take off in turn, but don't catch up with Vimier before he gets back to the Caverns. Time for them to try to think of another plan... If the adventurers ask for a more detailed description of the area mention the glacier amongst the mountains, hills, trees and other scenery. If they take a look at the glacier give them a chance to notice that there is an oddly regular hole in the ice, deep enough to hold a large dragon, with a lot of loose ice around it.
By now the brothers have only one chance left before they are expected to leave - they'll try to kill Vimier during the evening's performance. This possibility is discussed in more detail below.
The adventurers will be spotted if one of the brothers makes a MIND roll versus Difficulty 10 minus the number of pursuing dragons to notice them; e.g., if there are three pursuing dragons, Difficulty drops to 7 - this can be more difficult or an automatic failure if the adventurers make a serious attempt to avoid being noticed. If this occurs the brothers will change course to the ridge north of the glacier - the course change will be noticeable to their followers - then carry on as if they were accompanied openly, as above.
If they don't notice pursuit they continue on towards the glacier and eventually land. Vimier will be puzzled by the location - it isn't at all the sort of territory he associates with furclaws, there's nothing for them to eat - but gives the brothers the benefit of the doubt until they aim their guns at him.
Once this confrontation begins it will take a couple of minutes for the brothers to summon up the nerve to shoot Vimier; he'll be too surprised to think of fighting back at first. If the adventurers spot what's happening and push their speed they'll arrive in time to intervene. Any sort of distraction gives Vimier an opportunity to start fighting - although he supports the Peace Faction he's still a large and extremely tough dragon, he's carrying his own rifle, and it will probably take more than one shot to kill him. The brothers won't think of surrendering; once it's apparent that they intend murder, their only likely fate is execution, so they might just as well go down fighting.
Adventurers with a political reason to dislike Vimier might think of delaying a little, waiting until he is seriously injured or even dead before intervening. This is appropriately draconic, although there might be more to be gained by saving his life and earning his gratitude.
Vimier doesn't necessarily know that the adventurers want to help him until their intentions become clear; the brothers will assume that they're on his side. It's probable that with help he'll defeat the brothers; he may be shot along the way, but given his size and toughness it may not be fatal.
The aftermath of a rescue or his death are discussed in more detail below.
If nobody thinks of asking him, they can still spot Vimier and the brothers if they quickly fly high and look around; draconic eyesight is good enough that they will be able to see them several miles away, since they are headed away from the sun, while the adventurers will be hidden by the glare of the sun and almost invisible; there is no need to roll to see if they are spotted.
With such a long lead the brothers and Vimier will reach the glacier well before the adventurers arrive, even if they try to pile on speed, and the murder attempt will be well under way before they arrive. Bear in mind that guns are double-barrelled but slow to load, and that Vimier is tough and will put up a spirited fight once he shakes off his surprise. The result isn't by any means a foregone conclusion. Assume that the fight will start six rounds before the adventurers arrive at normal speed, three rounds if they immediately make flying rolls to accelerate. Both sides will use their guns first then start claw-to-claw combat once they're out of ammunition. This is potentially a long and messy fight, especially if the adventurers don't make it clear which side they're on.
The aftermath is discussed in more detail below.
If the brothers don't attack Vimier while hunting (which is the likely outcome if the adventurers accompanied them on the "hunt," or caught up before they reached the glacier) they will have one opportunity to make a last attempt in the evening. The play is the key; everyone is focused on the stage (the outdoor amphitheatre is used again) and someone lurking in the shadows should be able to get off a shot or two and beat a hasty retreat before anyone has time to react. It's by no means risk-free, and it has the disadvantage that the brothers won't get nearly as much meat, even if they succeed in killing Vimier, but by now the brothers are running out of ideas.
In order to make this work both brothers need to appear to be around the stage, and they will once again fall back on the idea of one dragon playing two parts; Ereg has volunteered to play one of Rasdarie's dragon friends, while Goregidis is supposed to be playing Nimuleris' father (and will be wearing a Yarge mask in the role). Crucially, the two characters are never on stage simultaneously, so it's relatively easy for one actor to play them both.
The plan, such as it is, is that they should be well into the second act as night falls, and in twilight conditions there will be a period of ten or fifteen minutes when everyone's outer eyelid is still shut and their ability to see into dark areas (such as the shadows further back from the stage) will be impaired. At this point there is a classic scene in which Rasdarie (played by Vimier himself) comes on stage with a group of friends (including Ereg's character), engages in some banter, then proceeds into a soliloquy to Nimuleris ["But soft, what scent through yonder cavern seeps..."] which is interrupted by her father after two or three minutes.
Goregidis will hide Vimier's rifle in a conveniently dark niche before the play starts, then sneak off during the first interval. After the interval Ereg will play both roles. Goregidis will get the rifle and open fire as the interruption begins on stage, fire both barrels at Vimier, then abandon it and circle the crowd in the confusion, getting the mask back from Ereg at the earliest opportunity. Since he will smell of gunpowder at this point he needs to spill something over himself to mask the scent; fortunately there will be cups of wine and other beverages where the audience are sitting, so that part shouldn't be hard.
It goes without saying that there are a few snags. There are no external suspects so it's obviously an inside job, and in order to make it work Goregidis needs to hide the gun before the play begins, then later move to his firing position without anyone noticing him. If the adventurers are at all suspicious of the brothers they should easily spot that he's up to something. The biggest snag, of course, is that there is no way for the brothers to ensure that the attack will succeed - Goregidis could miss, and even if he hits Vimier the wound may not be fatal.
Play this out fairly, using the plan of the ampitheatre above to work out the movements of characters; the stage is lit by a couple of lanterns, the area around the amphitheatre (the grey rocks) is occupied by everyone who isn't in the current scene, rocks further out from the stage are in shadow, and in twilight conditions the dragons will find it difficult to see what's going on. Just to add a little extra confusion some of the guests will assume that it's a surprise attack by Yarge bandits, and Amer will try to organise a defence.
Both of these murder scenarios lead to the same set of possible outcomes:
Vimier vanishes; one or both brothers are suspect but there is no hard evidence against them.
Amer and his mother organize a thorough search of the area where the brothers claim Vimier was last seen, probably finding the bloodstains etc. that the brothers have planted. Unless the glacier is checked within few days, the first snowfall will cover the remaining traces of Vimier's last resting place, and it will be more or less invisible until the brothers dig him out and eat him.
One of the hired servants (or a guest who isn't under suspicion) is sent to Tolga with a message for the local magistrate. A few hours later several Constables and a Lieutenant from the Tolga City Watch arrive. They'll want to take statements from everyone involved, and nobody will be allowed to leave Copper Caverns until the preliminary investigation is complete. This might take a couple of days, and guests who miss the Threeday train probably won't be happy, but the needs of the Law take priority.
There will be a strong assumption that Vimier is dead, but without proof it will take many years to settle his estate. Anyone else who can't be accounted for at the time he disappeared also falls under suspicion; this might include Ereg (if his cheating led to his eviction from the Caverns), Huvager, some of the other guests, and possibly some of the adventurers. Everyone involved can expect to be interviewed by lawyers and officials, but unless positive proof of the brothers' involvement is found they will never be charged. There's a period of confusion while the court appoints administrators to run the estate; fortunately Respected Nalnegis Kellis is already familiar with Vimier's business operations and with 'Spec Vebarie's help can soon get things back under control.
Things might be handled more rapidly by e.g. tricking one of the brothers into confessing or returning to the body, bringing in a tracker who might find traces of their presence at the faked crime scene, etc.
Eventually Vimier will be declared dead; his will is read and with the exception of some bequests to charity and servants, everything goes to his wife and son. The brothers will be dismayed to discover that their inheritance is one crown each, and would have been one bite each if his body had been found.
A couple of decades later the bones and other remains will finally reach the bottom of the glacier and will be found by hunters. There won't be positive proof that they're Vimier's remains, but it's enough to lead to another round of enquiries.
If they aren't caught the brothers become recluses, shunned by relatives and their few former friends, eventually declining into madness. They die paupers, their bodies sold on the meat market to cover some of their debts.
Vimier vanishes; the brothers somehow escape suspicion.
This is highly unlikely, but might be possible if suspicion falls on someone else. The most likely reason for this to happen is if the adventurers assume that they are too incompetent to be the true killers, and decide that someone else must be responsible. For example, they might hear about Vimier's argument with Respected Yoverak Huvager and decide he's the real villain, then "help" pin the crime on him.
If there are no suspicions the brothers can carry on with a normal (but somewhat impoverished) life, and are no worse off than they were before; once they eat the body both will be larger and healthier, in fact. They will continue to pin their hopes on the eventual resolution of Vimier's affairs, not knowing what his will really contains. After the reading they will become extremely bitter and may start to make slips which eventually lead to their unmasking. If the adventurers have meanwhile helped to convict someone else this is likely to get very messy...
Vimier is killed; the brothers are known to have killed him.
This proceeds much as above, but with witnesses (presumably the adventurers and possibly others, especially if an attack during the play goes wrong) who can verify that the brothers were to blame. For example, the adventurers might interrupt the assassination on the glacier, but too late to save Vimier. Naturally there will still have to be an investigation by the authorities, and it may end up being the adventurers' word against the brothers, but there should nevertheless be a much faster resolution. With definite proof of Vimier's death the will can be read immediately, his wife and son immediately take over the running of his businesses, and so forth.
If they are caught the brothers will be tried, probably convicted and eventually executed, their flesh shared between the remaining members of the Vimier family and those responsible for their capture - this might include the adventurers, members of the city watch, possibly all of the members of a large mob. Otherwise they spend the rest of their lives on the run, possibly hiding out under assumed identities, deprived of the status and wealth they expected. If they have reason to blame the adventurers for this fate they may decide to retaliate, eliminate witnesses, etc.
Vimier survives a murder attempt.
This is in many respects the best solution; nobody will be foolish enough to suggest that Vimier would lie about an attempt on his life, and if he helps to subdue his attackers he will be considered something of a hero. This has the potential to advance his political career, which may not suit all adventurers, but that won't immediately be obvious. With Vimier alive and the brothers destined for execution the case is soon over, although some or all of the adventurers may have to appear in court.
If for any reason Vimier can't identify his attacker - for example, someone shoots at him in the dark but nobody is caught - the situation will be tense, and there will probably be a lengthy investigation of everyone present at the Caverns. This hopefully won't be a problem for most adventurers. If it is they probably only have themselves to blame.
This shouldn't be an especially dangerous adventure - essentially the dragons have to stop Tiamath's most incompetent murderers - but it gives the adventurers a lot of opportunities for social networking and (possibly) immense gaffes that will destroy their standing in society. Give everyone involved
The brothers may not be the murderers. Optionally, they are bumbling incompetents, trying to summon up the nerve to kill Vimier, who attract attention while the real criminal is taking care of business.
Dignified Captain Amer Tenecel
The motive is greed. His wing has healed well enough to let him fly, though he pretends otherwise. He will find a way to lure Vimier out of the Caverns, meet him somewhere several miles away and assassinate him then fly back. It's in his interests to have the body found as quickly as possible, of course, so a murder site somewhere along the railway between the Caverns and Spalt is probably best.
Illust Hethikah Tenecel
She's known about Vimier's adultery for many years, but when he invites one of his mistresses (possibly Kitisel Hraden, possibly someone else) to the Caverns she decides that she's had enough. She has nothing to gain by hiding the body, so whatever she plans will be relatively simple - for example, she might shoot him in one of the side tunnels during the ball, with the noise of the shot drowned by the drums, quickly do something to cover the scent of gunpowder (such as spilling a little wine on her hands), then return to the ball. With dozens of extra guests around solving this will be tricky.
Respected Yoverak Huvager
Their argument (described above) escalates to a fight, Vimier lunges at Huvager who grabs Vimier's rifle and fires in self-defence. It's technically dragonslaughter, not murder, but his lies will make things worse.
Nalnegis Kellis and 'Spec Vebarie
Vebarie is Vimier's illegitimate daughter, but has no prospect of inheriting. Kellis is just greedy. They aim to give Kellis control of Vimier's companies and loot them before he is finally declared dead. Kellis planted the idea of the bear-hunting expedition to lure the brothers and Vimier to the glacier, and will use meetings and other excuses to keep Vimier in the caverns until Twoday, when 'Spec Vebarie has an alibi arranged. She is an expert shot and unusually strong, and plans to kill all three on the glacier.
Finally, an adventurer could be the murderer; alternative mission cards for the sample characters are provided below. Only one adventurer should be a murderer, the others should be unaware of the plan and should be given mission cards from the start of the adventure. Similar motives can probably be prepared for most other player characters.
Your publisher, Vimier Tenecel, is likely to become a member of the Noble Assembly. This is disturbing since he has pro-Yarge leanings and has required you to amend some passages of your books to make them less "offensive" to the enemies of all Dragonkind. His election will tip the balance of the Assembly towards pacifism, and may leave the nation unprepared for the inevitable conflict that is to come. Moreover, you have discovered that you are receiving only a fraction of the royalties you should be entitled to, and your agent seems to be unable to force Vimier to give you your full entitlement. If Vimier is killed the company will be run by his son, a soldier and patriot who will undoubtedly heed your warnings and reward you accordingly, or at least pay you your full due. Your patriotic duty is clear; Vimier Tenecel must die!
Illustrious Tenecel has invited you to attend his New Years party and conduct services on Firstday of the New Year. He has a reputation as a generous host, and your curate can take care of things at your parish - but you know that his invitation is actually a demand. Tenecel caught you cheating at dice when you were still a young curate, and has used his knowledge to blackmail you ever since. Essentially you are his spy inside the Faith, and you have become aware that he and his wife are secretly working to undermine the foundations of the Church and spread a hideous distortion of the truth based on supposed "memories" of former pre-conquest incarnations. His wife is just a dupe, but now he wants you to lend your name to the alleged "authenticity" of her stories. You've decided that it's time to put an end to this evil - Vimier Tenecel must die!
Captain Amer Tenecel, once a fellow cadet, is on medical leave and has invited you to his family's New Year's party. While your career was ended by your injuries, Amer expects to make a full recovery and seems to be destined for higher things, and he's chosen to rub that in your face by inviting you to the party. Fortunately you planned to find a way to attend it anyway - you have learned that his father, Vimier Tenecel, is secretly in the pay of Yarge interests and planning to take office as a member of the Noble Assembly, with the declared intention of working for disarmament and peace with the Yarge! Amer seems to suspect nothing, which means that you will have to take things into your own claws. Your patriotic duty is clear; Vimier Tenecel must die!
You've been invited to celebrate the New Year with the Tenecel family, friends of your parents. You have never told them that you hate Vimier Tenecel. When you were a child you overheard him talking to a parson, mentioning three of your dearest friends as "unhealthy" and "looking a little green"; within the week all three had been marked as unfit and eaten! You have since discovered that Vimier received a share of the flesh for his wife, who was trying to lay more eggs; fortunately she failed to conceive, but who knows how many other dragonets have been sacrificed in Vimier's attempts to further his dynasty? One thing is clear; it must never happen again. You have an opportunity to protect future hatchlings from this evil dragon, but there is only one way to be sure that he never has another chance at fatherhood. Vimier Tenecel must die!
When you were a child your parents sold you into service; your first master was Vimier Tenecel, but he seemed to think that you were insolent, and within a few years he sold your contract on to the Yoverack family. As a result you lost all contact with your own family, and now can't even remember their names. This is the first opportunity you've had to return to the Caverns, and you plan to use that chance to find out more about your family, if there are still records or servants who remember your purchase, and take a fitting revenge on the dragon who ruined your life. Vimier Tenecel must die!
Vimier Tenecel was one of your lovers 200 years ago, but quickly distanced himself from you when you were disgraced. You had no problem with this at the time, although a little financial help wouldn't have come amiss when you changed your identity. Recently you have learned that Vimier didn't just distance himself from the scandal - he orchestrated it, taking care to keep his name out of the gossip, since his wife was starting to suspect. It has taken you several years to find a way to get close enough to take your revenge, but you befriended Vimier's son when he was hospitalised, and he has now invited you to a party at his family's caves. You have changed your name and appearance, and with luck Vimier won't recognize you until you have taken your revenge. Vimier Tenecel must die!
Tiamath's best source of foreign revenue is the financial services and insurance sector, with long-term investments and institutional insurance (of public buildings and structures such as bridges) a speciality. For some reason Yarge who would never trust dragons with their livestock or princesses are happy to give them large amounts of gold. The main reason for this, of course, is that all of Tiamath's financial institutions follow strict codes of conduct, whose penalties are literally draconian; anyone defaulting on a debt or failing to meet their contracted obligations is likely to end up penniless, eaten, or worse. For Tiamath there are many advantages; the Yarge may be more reluctant to go to war against a nation that holds much of their gold, and insures much of the property that would be at risk if a war occurred.
Over centuries Tiamath has acquired enormous influence in shipping and other forms of international commerce; favourable insurance rates are offered to vessels registered and paying taxes in Irieth and flying the dragon flag. The government encourages the trade indirectly, by giving preferential treatment to banks and insurers with an international presence when handing out government contracts. So long as there are no problems it's a nice little earner for everyone involved, and a good way to boost Tiamath's international presence indirectly.
The snag, of course, that if things go badly overseas Tiamath's investors may lose a lot of money. A run of bad luck - a few shipwrecks, a collapsed bridge or dam, or the destruction of a major public building - could have serious repercussions for Tiamath's economy.
The Crimson Claw
One of the oldest and most respected insurance companies in Tiamath is The Crimson Claw Assurance Society, a subsidiary of The Crimson Claw Bank. Their sign, instantly recognizable throughout the known world, is a red wooden replica of a dragon's claw. The bank is either the second or third largest in Tiamath, with assets estimated at 250 million crowns, and leads the field in foreign business. Similarly, the insurance society is the market leader in foreign insurance.
In common with most of Tiamath's financial institutions, very little is known of the organisation of these companies; their annual report occasionally makes a cryptic reference to "The Directors," but in Tiamath involvement in commerce is not something to boast about; while everyone assumes that the company has several nobles amongst its directors, very few outsiders know their names.
It may be useful to mention the bank or insurance company some time before running this adventure; for example, in earlier adventures you could give players handouts that might include cheques issued by the bank, newspaper cuttings with advertisements for their insurance services on the back, and so forth. Don't mention it so often that players become suspicious, just keep it in the background as a well-known name. One of the optional ways to start this adventure assumes that all of the adventurers owe money to the bank, another that they are stockholders or in search of a loan for some purpose of their own.
The Crimson Claw Assurance Society insures roughly twenty percent of the vessels of the the Migantil merchant fleet, and most of these vessels fly Tiamath's flag and are registered in Irieth. In recent weeks four of these ships have disappeared without trace; all belong to Ithelar Coastal Lines (ICL), a company which happens to have several outstanding loans with The Crimson Claw Bank and other Tiamath financial houses. If they have genuinely been sunk, and the bank can't prove that there is some sort of fraud or conspiracy that would make breach the terms of their insurance and loans, there would be a major impact on the Crimson Claw in particular, and Tiamath's banks generally.
All that is known is that all four ships were heading east along the south coast route from Migantia to East Danith, shown on the map above. They disappeared in average weather (neither better nor worse than usual) somewhere between Voldor and Kosp, on the coast of Rasdogah Erofal. The only intervening port is Stottle on the island of Lipahis; Yarge agents of the Society have questioned the harbour master there, who says that the first and third ship docked normally, the other two never arrived. This is confirmed to some extent by cargo records. Unfortunately Lipahis and the smaller islands between it and the mainland are a principality of Rasdogah Erofal, whose Sultan notoriously hates dragons and claims to be a dragon slayer (although evidence for this feat is a little thin on the ground). Employees of this government are unlikely to be very helpful to dragons or their agents.
The aim of this scenario is for the adventurers to be concealed aboard the next ICL ship headed for East Danith, and see if they can find out what's going on.
What is happening, in fact, is that pirates from the Yegith Archipelago, led by celebrity psychopath Keleg Dragon-Slayer, are sinking the ships with the aid of their secret weapon; the Old One, a sea serpent which can sometimes be persuaded to attack ships if attracted by rhythmic drum signals. Their main reasons for this are religious - the serpent is their god, their victims will be sacrificed to feed it. Of course the pirates steal anything valuable that remains afloat. Keleg has targeted the ICL ships precisely because they fly the Dragon flag - she wants to kill more dragons, and has guessed that doing this will attract their attention.
Exactly how the adventurers become involved in this situation is left to the discretion of the referee. Some possibilities:
The last of these options is discussed below; the others will need a little preparation by the referee. Remember that some players react badly to coercion; if so another option may be preferable.
|Respected Ogethon Retalath, 25 ft, age 301, married.
BODY 9, MIND 5, SOUL 3, Business 7, Tough (1 pt), Armour -2
Quote: "I'm sorry, but you've been given ample opportunities to repay your debts, and unfortunately business is business..."
Notes: Retalath is totally devoted to the bank and his superiors, and if anyone attempts to intimidate him he will ring a small bell; a moment later several large thugs arrive to keep the peace. He has a desk loaded with scrolls and ledgers, but generally relies on an extremely good memory - if any record is damaged he will add a ten crown per document copying fee to the relevant dragon's debt. His hobbies include wine tasting and throwing elderly debtors out into the midwinter snow.
The Crimson Claw, 120 ft, age 625, single.
BODY 40, MIND 7, SOUL 2, Business 12, Tough (6 pt), Armour -8, thick scales, flame
Quote: "Ahhh... The debtors..."
Notes: The Crimson Claw, or CC as he is known to his business associates, is Director of the Bank, the Assurance Society, and several other companies. He is physically too big to get out of the cave without major excavation, but he doesn't care; he's on his hoard, several million crowns of his personal fortune plus millions more of the bank's money, and will eat anyone who tries to tamper with it or causes problems. CC renounced all other titles on becoming Director, and won't discuss his life prior to the appointment - adventurers may guess that he has noble blood, but will never know for sure.
The adventurers are summoned to a meeting with their bank manager, Respected Ogethon Retalath of the Crimson Claw Bank, to discuss their overdrafts. If adventurers would normally have lots of money, tell them that they are encountering "temporary cash flow problems," that they have been defrauded by a business partner, or give them some other reason why they are currently living on borrowed money.
If anyone tries to avoid the meeting (e.g. by ignoring the letter or making some excuse) a few toughs turn up to escort them to the bank, whether they want to go or not. If he has to do this Retalath will begin the meeting by noting an added cost of five crowns per thug employed, to be added to the relevant character's debts.
Retalath sees all of the characters together. If anyone objects he will mention that there is a twenty crown fee for private interviews. Whether the interviews are public or private, he asks a few questions to confirm the identities of the characters then asks them about their debts (let players come up with their own excuses in 30 seconds or less without hesitation, deviation, or repetition) then rejects their arguments and asks them to wait. When everyone has been interviewed he informs them that they have been summoned to meet the Director of the bank, The Crimson Claw. No other name is given, and if asked Retalath seems puzzled by the question. There has always been a Crimson Claw since the bank was founded three thousand years ago - he is either a VERY long-lived dragon or it is an inherited title.
Retalath and several guards lead the adventurers through a series of heavily-guarded gates and down to the lowest vaults. As they go down describe corridors that gradually become tunnels that look older and more natural until it's obvious that they're either in a real cave or a very good imitation - either would be staggeringly expensive in Irieth, where it's generally believed that the only large natural caves are those occupied by the Law Courts.
Eventually the final tunnel leaves them into a huge chamber, several hundred feet across and so dark that even dragon eyes have trouble adapting to it. In the centre of the cave is a huge mound of gold coins, surrounded by a litter of old rotting bones, mostly those of beeves and swine, but including at least one or two Yarge and a couple of dragons.
Naturally the escort makes sure that none of the adventurers are close enough to the gold to take samples. Have them wait until someone says or does something then mention that the dark shadows at the top of the mound seem to be moving. Something black, monstrous and absolutely enormous is moving towards them - a dragon so vast that they are having trouble seeing it for what it is. Even on all fours he towers over them.
"Good morning. I am informed that your credit limit has been exceeded, to such an extent that the... prudent thing to do would be to sell your bodies as meat. At least we would recoup some of our losses."
Probably someone will object. If so CC knows a little about each of them, enough to make it clear that he can't be fooled. For example, if you are using the sample characters:
Segievel Yepragis: "I believe that your next novel is nearly two years late, and that your publisher has requested the return of your advance. What will you do when they summon you to court, Yepragis? How will you repay the money you owe them, let alone the bank?"
Blessed Kellis Derwig: "Blessed Kellis. I'm so glad that you were able to come. Have the gambling halls closed today?"
Lieutenant Gethack Mothies: "Lieutenant, I understand that you yourself loaded the cannon that injured you. Self-inflicted wounds... unfortunate, but at least you were luckier than your sergeant and his corporal. And your wounds did remove you from the frontier just weeks before Yarge bandits attacked your company. Were there many survivors? Are they still bitter about their defeat?"
Dignified Hathor Yoverack: "You are a wastrel from a noble family, Dignified Yoverack. I hope that you are not relying on any inheritance to pay your debts."
Chigal (Hathor's servant): Will be ignored unless he does something to attract attention. The Crimson Claw knows who he is and that he is a spy, but won't use the information unless there's good reason to do so.
Kitisel Hraden: "My dear Miss Kinetica, it is so good to see you again." If she corrects him he says "ah yes, I had forgotten your - ahem - marriage. My mistake..." and smiles.
He goes on "Now as I was saying, in the old days we would have confined you to the debtors prison, fattened you up a little, and eventually sold you as meat, but the government frowns on that sort of thing these days, blasted namby-pambies. So unless you happen to be interested in an alternative we'll have to have you declared bankrupt and sent to work off your debts in the Mines of Tolga, dreadful hole. Still, should only take ten or fifteen years if you're lucky..."
If anyone asks about the alternative he explains that the bank is sole owner of the Crimson Claw Assurance Society, which insures more than 22% of Migantine merchant ships, and nearly half the Belshulath fleet. "You may be aware that many Yarge ships now fly Tiamath's flag to take advantage of our low insurance rates. Until now it has been a profitable business for the bank..." He explains about the missing ships as above.
If the adventurers agree to help they will join the next ICL ship on the coastal route and resolve the matter by whatever means seems best. If they can solve it to his satisfaction their debts will be cancelled and there may even be a small reward. If they can't solve it they'd better not even think of coming back... "Retalath will arrange things with you."
|Troubleshooting: If all of the
adventurers refuse to co-operate, CC sighs and says "take them away."
Armed guards pinion the debtor's wings then take them off to the
Debtors Court, where they will be sentenced to spend the next decade or
so in the mines of Tolga. Theoretically it's possible to appeal this
sentence, but in practice condemned debtors have no money to pay for
lawyers. Briefly describe several months or years of backbreaking hard
labour before a forgotten relative dies, leaving one of the adventurers
just enough money to pay off everyone's debts (or the heir's debts plus
a good chunk of money to start again, if the other prisoners are left
in the mines).
If a minority of the adventurers refuse, they'll be taken off as above, and won't be seen again until long after the adventure is over. In either case, anyone who doesn't take part in the remainder of the adventure will have a reputation as a debtor even after their debts are cleared, and will barred from many professions, treated as a poor matrimonial prospect, etc.
The next ship on the route is a freighter, the Rose of Migantia. It will sail from its home port Migantia (the capital of Migantil) in four days. If the adventurers leave the following morning they'll arrive in Migantia a few hours before it sails. The Crimson Claw's agents there have made arrangements for the dragons to board secretly and use the hold space as their accommodation.
Questions that might be asked:
The adventurers may think of other questions, of course, if so the referee should improvise whatever facts are needed. They may also want to pack or buy extra equipment and supplies; anything reasonable and affordable should be allowed.
|Dungan M'Laden, Yarge, age 40, married.
BODY 4, MIND 3, SOUL 3, Brawling 6, Business 5, Linguist 4 (Belshulathi, Draconic)
Quote: "I'm afraid it is a bit cramped..."
Notes: M'Laden is ICL's warehouse manager, and loyal to the company. He can give adventurers any of the information on the previous page if they don't already have it. He suspects that the government of Rasdogah Erofal may have something to do with the missing ships, but without any real evidence.
The first stage of the journey is the railway trip from Tiamath to Migantia, about 300 miles aboard a narrow-gauge Yarge train that has basic accommodation for dragons but travels frighteningly fast, sometimes as much as 40-50 MPH. The wagons for dragons are uncomfortably narrow and have open tops but high sides, making it difficult to stretch wings properly - the high speed means that they can't easily take off and fly alongside the train, as they would normally do on Tiamath's railways, though there are a few uphill stretches where the train slows and this is possible. As far as the dragons are concerned it's a boring ten hours or so with a few short stops before the train rolls into Migantia. At one of the stops a vendor sells freshly-killed muttonwools for two Crowns a head, lepus (rabbits) for a Crown, well over the usual Tiamath price, otherwise there is no food suitable for dragons on offer unless they want to try the ridiculously small portions of cooked meat, cheese, etc. that Yarge prefer. There are three or four other dragons on the train, travelling on business or as tourists, but nobody any of the adventurers knows.
The train arrives in Migantia in the early evening, and is met by Dungan M'laden, a Yarge working for Ithelar Coastal Lines. He's been warned to expect the right number of dragons travelling as a group, and will do his best to talk to them inconspicuously. ICL have offices and a warehouse a few hundred yards from the station. The route takes the adventurers through bustling Yarge-filled streets, and anyone who is at all phobic about them should optionally roll MIND against difficulty 4 to avoid a panic attack. Along the way they may notice that the streets are cleaner and better lit than those of Iriteth, with glowing white lamps burning sewer gas. Dragons don't need street lighting, of course, since they can see in the dark.
In the warehouse M'Laden has laid on a few muttonwools, tea, etc., and a cellar for the dragons to sleep in overnight. It's a bit Spartan by dragon standards - there are no mounds of gold and it's obvious that they are in a building, not a cave - but reasonably acceptable. M'Laden can answer any questions the adventurers may have about the route, the missing ships, etc. as outlined above and below.
M'Laden has arranged for the adventurers to be loaded aboard ship the following morning, in large crates labelled as containing fragile glass ornaments. There will also be muttonwools aboard as their food, shipped as deck cargo, and a real cargo, some small printing presses destined for Danithsul, the final port of the run, which take up a little too much hold space for comfort, and smaller crates for some of the intermediate ports. She also carries a few sacks of mail.
There aren't any passengers scheduled for the first leg of the trip, but the company's contract for the route requires them to carry passengers if they have valid tickets and there are cabins available, and some may board at the later ports. The Crimson Claw Assurance Society is not prepared to pay for the cabins to prevent this, and ICL is already losing money on the run by giving the dragons most of the hold space. The dragons may think that this is poor security - if so they are at liberty to stay below decks if passengers come aboard, it's all that M'Laden can suggest.
Loading should go reasonably smoothly; at first light the dragons are asked to get into their individual crates on flatbed wagons, which drafters pull out to the quayside. After some jolting and a good deal of swearing by the dock-workers the crates are hoisted up into the air by steam crane, lurching uncomfortably, then lowered down into the forward hold. Once all of the dragons are aboard M'Laden quietly taps on the crates, and says "They're just loading the deck cargo and your provisions, you ought to sail in about an hour. You'll have to stay in the crates until they've dropped off the harbour pilot, the steward will let you know when it's safe to come out. Have a pleasant voyage, and good luck."
The Rose is a copper-sheathed wooden-hulled paddle steamer with cargo holds forward and a few cabins for Yarge aft. The holds are large enough to accommodate all the dragons with some spare room for cargo, but they will be a little cramped. She has a crew of nine, is BODY 55, and travels at about 15 knots in good weather, 10 knots or less in heavy seas.
A PDF file of printable sheets to make a simple cut-out model paddle-steamer and other boats is included on the distribution CD-ROM and available from the author's web site. The cutout Yarge sailors and pirates will also be useful.
The crew consists of the following Yarge, all from Migantil:
All of them are a little uneasy about following the route of the missing ships, but reasonably positive about carrying dragons - they think that if there is trouble dragons may be able to handle it. This attitude may change, of course, if the dragons go out of their way to be unpleasant, or try tricks such as mesmerizing the crew. They're receiving hazard pay. The captain has enough rifles for all the crew in a locker in his cabin, and most of the crew routinely carry weapons, or know where to find them quickly in an emergency.
The map shows the ports of call and principal ocean currents:
The first part of the journey takes the Rose out of Migantia, South through the Narrow Sea (actually a combination of fjords and saltwater lakes, excavated over several ice ages, which nearly splits the continent in two), then South-East along the Migantine coast to Torsine.
Once the ship is in the main channel of the Narrow Sea it's generally out of sight of inhabited areas - there are forested hills to either side of the channel, and the main population centres are inland - but it passes an occasional ship headed the other way. If the dragons are out on deck or flying overhead they'll notice such ships long before they're in clear telescope range, giving them ample time to get below decks. The weather is warm but there's a brisk wind and the sea is choppy, with waves reflected unpredictably by the channel walls. Dragons don't get seasick and will find it quite pleasant on deck, a little like riding a train on a windy day.
Conditions in the hold are a little cramped but tolerable. The main problems, as far as dragons are concerned, are that it's made of wood (which might be awkward if anyone has flame and accidentally coughs), and doesn't feel very solid compared to a real cave. For the first night or two they will sleep poorly. If there are dragons of both sexes the close proximity may be embarrassing, and problematic for virgin females, but there are two holds; if some of the cargo is shifted the females can occupy one hold, the males the other. M'Laden didn't think of this, since he isn't an expert on draconic biology, but if someone suggests this before the crates are loaded they will be split accordingly.
The deck cargo of muttonwools will be ample for the dragons, provided that they don't get too greedy; more can be bought at any of the ports that they're visiting. Needless to say the animals won't be happy about close proximity to dragons, especially if they see the dragons eat. Big-city dragons may be a little squeamish about eating live food, but the sea air should give everyone a hearty appetite. Any remains (skin, bones, etc.) dropped overboard are instantly attacked by several razorteeth (sharks) that are following the ship and swimming in its bow wave; some of them look big enough to give even dragons a hard time.
BODY 10-15, MIND 1, SOUL 1, Brawling BODY-2; Bite, Effect BODY+2, Damage A:I, B:I, C:C/K
Wounds: B[ ] F[ ] I[ ] I[ ] I[ ] C[ ]
At nightfall the Rose finally clears the last small islets at the mouth of the Narrow Sea and heads South-East along the coast towards Torsine. The sea is smoother but the waves are higher, and with a prevailing wind from the West the ship makes good time, dropping anchor a few miles out from Torsine in the early hours of the morning to wait for the harbour pilot.
Since the Rose hasn't left Migantine waters there isn't a customs inspection, and at about half past seven* she finally docks in Torsine.
|*||Equivalent to approximately 9 AM in Earth terms; since the days and hours are longer than Earth, it is actually twelve Earth hours since midnight, five more Earth hours to noon. This shouldn't be important, unless you want to remind players that this isn't Earth|
Torsine is very obviously an industrial town - the dark satanic mills, smoke, and smell make that clear. It's one of the main centres of the Migantine firearms and munitions industry, and while dragons aren't forbidden to go ashore, they will be discouraged from entering the industrial areas. If they are noticed paying a lot of attention to factories etc. the authorities will assume that they are spies, and send out troops to escort them back to the ship "for their own safety". The town's defences include cannon and marksmen who have trained for combat with dragons; while they aren't as paranoid as the authorities in Rasdogah Erofal, who tend to shoot first and ask questions later, they will interpret anything that looks like an attack as the prelude to a dragon invasion, and act accordingly.
If you have to play this out, use squads of 20 soldiers with steam cars in support:
Typical Solder: Age 32, BODY 4, MIND 3, SOUL 3, Brawling 7, Marksmanship 6, Melee weapon 7, Military Arms 6, Signals 4.
Equipped with big rifle, bayonet, helmet (armour 2 to head only).
Officers are MIND 4 and carry heavy pistols and swords, but are otherwise identical.
Steam Car: Large (BODY 18) self-propelled steam wagons with room for a driver and six soldiers, top speed 25 MPH. Armour 4 on sides, Armour 5 on top. There are gun ports on all sides; the occupants (as soldiers above) carry big rifles, there is one forward-pointing mounted gun with three barrels:
Tri-barrel Cannon: Effect 14, A:I, B:C/K, C:C/K
The barrels cannot be fired simultaneously but can be fired in successive rounds; the gun cannot be reloaded from inside the car. It can be swivelled to approximately 45° either side of the car.
If the dragons are determined to keep a low profile they'll probably stay in the hold anyway. Eventually some of the smaller crates are unloaded and more are loaded; they contain sporting rifles, consigned to a gunsmith in Stottle. If any of the dragons take a look (damaging the crates and annoying the crew, who will have to explain it to the shippers) they'll find good quality sporting guns, exactly as described in the manifest, designed for use by Yarge and too small and lightweight for dragons. There are also some bullet moulds, but no paper cartridges or percussion caps.
If anyone was hoping that no passengers would board they're quickly disillusioned; fourteen Yarge bound for a wedding in Kog arrive soon after the ship docks - they spend the remainder of the morning moving their luggage aboard and being noisy in the aft cabins and on the aft passenger deck. The group includes women and children, and dragons who know anything of Yarge behaviour will consider it unlikely that they are involved in anything dangerous. However, three of the passengers are soldiers (as above) and have their dress uniforms (including rifles for firing a salute at the wedding) in their luggage.
The ship sails with the afternoon tide, and if there are no unfortunate incidents is roughly halfway to Kog when night falls. The weather remains calm, and all other things being equal will arrive off Kog in the early hours of the morning, and sail in with the morning tide.
If the dragons aren't trying to stay hidden, or come out of hiding once the ship sails, all of the passengers will soon be aware that there are dragons aboard; the soldiers immediately get their guns, and children are kept below decks. There's nothing extraordinarily unusual about dragons travelling this route, but outside the big cities the Migantines aren't entirely blasé about seeing them. Reassurances from the crew should keep things from getting out of hand if the dragons don't do anything too foolish.
If the dragons stay hidden two of the obligatory cute kids will somehow work their way forward a few hours after the ship has sailed and discover them. They are twins, a boy and a girl aged twelve, BODY 2, MIND 3, SOUL 2, no special skills, and look to be about the right size for a snack.
Kog is a fishing port, as will probably be obvious from the smell. If there have been no incidents en route the Rose unloads its passengers and some more of the small cargo and mail, and loads several barrels of pickled and smoked fish for shipment to Voldor. Eight passengers board the ship; no large groups this time, they seem to be travelling alone or in pairs. Even if the dragons make a specific attempt to find out as much as possible about the passengers they won't discover anything unusual about them, since there is nothing to be found.
On this leg of the journey the Rose sails in the early evening and runs into bad weather within an hour of leaving port - a gale blows up from the East, slowing her to a crawl. The wind is too strong for dragons to fly off the ship; they would soon be left behind, and in such bad flying conditions their endurance is halved. Most of the Yarge passengers are ill; dragons will not be, since their inner ears and brains are better at coping with the sort of movement. Whether or not the dragons have succeeded in hiding up to this point, it's time for an emergency that will give them a little more exposure. For example:
As soon as the Rose docks several customs officers come aboard to search the ship and passengers (including dragons) for contraband. They'll be warned that they may not leave the ship under any circumstances, and that the penalty for flying over the Sultan's territory is death. By now the adventurers may have formed unflattering opinions of the Sultan, but they would be advised to keep them to themselves; the penalty for public libel of the Sultan is imprisonment or death. The customs officers are backed by soldiers (use the troops described above) who won't hesitate to board the ship if an offence is committed. However, they are poorly paid and easily bribed; a Crown or two will persuade them to turn their attention elsewhere. Of course any gold left lying around (if the dragons have tried to make the hold feel more like home) will be confiscated as contraband.
They're interested in the guns consigned to East Danith, of course - and will open two or three of the crates to check that they are described - and in the printing presses, checking that no seditious type has been set up ready for use. But since there is nothing to find they will gradually lose interest in the holds.
While the search continues a crowd slowly gathers on the dockside, apparently waiting for something to happen. They don't seem to be particularly hostile, but there will be excited murmurs if any of the dragons makes his or her presence known. If questioned about this the customs officers shrug and say "they're peasants, who knows what they're thinking?" If anyone wants to question the onlookers, remind the dragons that they aren't allowed on shore. The crew members also have no idea what's going on; until the customs search is over they also aren't allowed ashore.
After an hour or so another group of soldiers arrives at the dock escorting a prisoner. The arrival is heralded by shouts of "Keleg!" which soon become a repeated chant. All of the Yarge, including the crew, seem to know the name. The crew start rushing around with shouts of "Tidy up!" "Prepare the best cabin!" and so forth.
While the crew are too busy to answer questions, any dragon who studies Yarge affairs can roll against Difficulty 6 to remember hearing of Keleg. But if possible delay recognition until she announces herself.
Keleg Dragon-Slayer has spent the last few days in town, and has made her opinion of the Sultan a little too public. She's being deported on the first available ship which (apparently by chance) is the Rose. In fact she was planning to travel aboard the Rose anyway; all that the deportation accomplishes is to save her the price of a ticket. Although she's a prisoner she's also a celebrity, and as soon as she is on the gang plank the commander of the escort bows and hands her a bundle of two sheathed scimitars and a bow case, while minions carry her trunk and two large bass drums aboard. She pushes the sheaths into her sash and turns to the crowd, then draws one of the scimitars and holds it up above her head. With renewed cheers she shouts "All right, you knows my name. Don't wear it out! You knows one thing that is true. I is leaving this country for now, your Sultan don't like true things. Now go, before de Sultan's men decide you knows too much. Go!" As she shouts the last words the peasants look around, seem to realise that there are police and soldiers present, and leave rapidly. She sheaths her scimitar, boards the ship, and says "I is Keleg of de Yegith Isles. Some calls me Keleg Dragon-Slayer. You has a cabin for me?" The Captain bows and welcomes her aboard, leading the way below decks. If any of the dragons are in view she grins, showing pointed teeth, and says "Later..." before following the Captain.
Keleg Dragon-Slayer - Celebrity psychopath, Yegithi priestess and pirate (age 35)
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (sing, dance, drums) , Athlete (swim, run, gymnastics) , Brawling , Linguist  (Draconic, Lipathi, Migantine), Marksman , Melee Weapon , Martial Arts , Riding , Stealth , Thief . 7 Bonus points.
Weapon Mult. Effect A B C 2 Scimitars 2 11 F I C/K (always carried Longbow 2 8 F I C/K (in luggage) 3 Daggers (as hand weapons) 2 11 F I C/K (always carried) (thrown) 2 8 F I C/K Fist / kick 2 7 B B KO Wrestling No 7 B KO KO/I Armour (dragon hide jerkin) N/A -2 - - - (under clothing, torso only)Quote: "I is Keleg of de Yegith Isles. Some calls me Keleg Dragon-Slayer."
Equipment: Drums, clothing, various perfumes and oils, a lodestone, weapons etc. as above.
Notes: Keleg is a genuine dragon slayer, although she engineered the circumstances that earned her the title. Tiamath's missionaries were funding their work by excavating old Yegithi temples for gold and antiquities; she spread a rumour that there was a temple on her parents' farm then killed the first dragon to dig there, partly to avenge their insult to the pagan gods and partly to earn her name as a Dragon Slayer. She and her followers aren't cannibals, despite the usual name for the Archipelago, but have eaten dragons.
Keleg is stunningly attractive to other Yarge (dragons won't notice), especially since she is a Dragon Slayer and has the ritual tattoos to prove it.
She tries to fight in places that give her the best advantage; for example, in buildings where a dragon will feel cramped and unable to fly, anywhere that she can dive into water to escape flame, and so forth. Since the most effective dragon attacks are the teeth and claws, she will manoeuvre to get above and even onto the back of her opponent and attack vulnerable points such as the eyes, base of the skull etc.
She cannot be mesmerised - the truly insane rarely can - but she is capable of faking it to gain an advantage.
Role Playing: Keleg is arrogant, self-assured, and probably the most dangerous Yarge anyone will ever meet; unless she is deliberately trying to avoid attracting attention she tends to be the focus of every eye. She is never uncertain. Despite her honourable title she is a mass-murderer with a callous disregard for Yarge and Draconic life.
Special Note: Given the pervasive influence of certain TV shows, it is possible that at some point you will slip up and call this character a Vampire Slayer. You are strongly advised to practice saying the name and title (as in the quote above) several times before running this scenario.
Once word gets out that Keleg has boarded a ship carrying dragons, the crowds start to return to the dock, anticipating a fight. In fact Keleg has no intention of fighting until she is ready, and part of her game plan for becoming ready is to keep the dragons guessing about her intentions. Meanwhile the customs men finish their search and leave, another half-dozen passengers board, and the pickled fish are unloaded and some barrels of dye are taken on board, addressed to a fabric manufacturer in Kosp.
The Rose sails with the evening tide, bound for Stottle, where she is supposed to take on coal for the remainder of her journey - it's cheaper there than anywhere else along the South coast. Along the way Keleg plans a surprise for everyone aboard.
Keleg's plan is relatively simple; she intends to use a lodestone to interfere with the ship's compass, and lure it off course towards the South. By morning she will be half-way to the Yegith Archipelago, over the deep crevasse where the Old One lives. As the sun rises Keleg will start to play her drums, claiming that it's a rite of her faith. The real purpose is a signal to a fleet of pirate boats waiting in the area, whose crews are also ready with drums. By timing the drumbeats carefully they can attract the Old One's attention and lure it towards the ship.
As the Old One rises all of the razorteeth in the area will flee, leaving the way clear for Keleg to dive into the sea at the last moment and swim to safety. Meanwhile the Old One should tear the ship apart and eat most of its passengers and crew; afterwards the pirates will finish off the survivors. If possible Keleg plans to kill the dragons too, but she believes (mistakenly) that they don't have the endurance to fly back to shore once the ship sinks.
The dragons won't see any more of Keleg until after the ship has sailed; as night falls anyone on deck should notice her in the wheelhouse, staring down at them impassively. In fact she's planting the lodestone that will lure the ship off course, but nobody should know that. The night will be overcast, making accurate star navigation impossible. By morning the Rose will be many miles off course.
|Troubleshooting: If for any reason the
dragons ask to see Keleg, she'll eventually come to the forward deck to
talk. If they seem to want to fight she tells them that she's taken
religious vows, and she can't oblige them until after "the Old One, the devourer of things, has risen" when "the stars are right."
She doesn't mention that she's talking about the following morning if
all goes as planned. If asked for a more precise time frame she says
that she'll have to pray to him for an answer; she'll start doing so
tomorrow at dawn.
If anyone insists on attacking her she'll fight without mercy, with the crew witnessing and making sure that it's a fair one-on-one fight. Keleg will use all possible tactical advantages to ensure that she wins; she's entirely capable of throwing a dagger into a dragon's eye, dodging so that an opponent falls into the sea with the razorteeth, and so forth. She would greatly prefer to avoid a fight until all of the parts of her plan are in place, but has no doubts about her ability to defeat any random dragon.
On a more peaceful note, if the dragons want to ask her about the dragon she's previously killed she'll explain that he was "desecrating the temple of me ancestors" but won't mention that he was tricked into doing so. She doesn't know the dragon's name, but he was about thirty-five feet long and didn't have bound wings, so wasn't a parson. If anyone thinks to ask if the body was wasted she'll say "no"; they had to cook him for a long time, but he was "pretty good once we got the herbs and spices right." This should be a great relief to anyone who was worried that the body might have gone unconsumed, though of course it would have been better if he had been eaten by relatives. She doesn't mention the dragon-skin armour she wears under her outer clothing to protect her torso; not because she is worried about hurting their feelings, but because she doesn't want to give away a tactical advantage.
If any of the dragons think of searching the bridge after seeing Keleg there (and can find a way of convincing the crew to let them do so), they won't find the lodestone; instead they'll find a scroll containing a "magical" charm to protect the ship from dragons, which Keleg has left in a rather more obvious location to divert attention from her actions. It has no real power; it's just a piece of paper.
Overnight the Rose steers 10° south of her intended course, catching a current that sweeps her past Lipahis and half way to the Yegith Archipelago. At dawn the crew will still be trying to find the ship's exact position when Keleg comes out on deck to "Praise the Old One" with her drums.
Keleg plans to play a simple repetitive tune* on her drums, to attract the Old One and the pirates who are escorting it towards the ship.
|*||In play testing the tune used was the opening drum beats of an instrumental version of Queen's We Will Rock You, looped before the other instruments began to play, but any repetitive pattern of a few notes will do.|
Assuming that nothing disrupts Keleg's plans, she takes her drums onto the aft deck at dawn and sits facing the rising sun (visible through a light morning mist) as she starts to drum. The noise disturbs the dragons if they are still asleep or below decks. As the sun slowly rises above the horizon she continues to play. Although her concentration seems to be on the drums, she is fully aware of her surroundings and ready to defend herself - playing one-handed while holding off a dragon with one of her swords if necessary.
During the lull between one set of drum beats and the next a faint echo of the sound can be heard. On the next repeat it seems a little louder. Keleg smiles, and without missing a beat says "The stars are right, and the Old One is rising."
For a while longer there's nothing to be heard except Keleg's drums, if nobody is trying to stop her from playing, and the sound of more drums, the volume gradually rising. It's already too late to stop the attack - by the time the adventurers can hear the approaching pirates, the Old One can hear the ship's engines and the thrash of her paddle wheels.
As the mist lifts the indistinct shapes of a flotilla of small boats appear out of the mist. There are six rowing boats, each big enough for four to six Yarge, with two larger fore-and-aft rigged cutters capable of holding twenty or so. On their own they're incapable of keeping up with the Rose, especially if she heads into the wind, but they have already led the Old One into striking range and it is considerably faster than any current ship. On seeing them the crew of the Rose run for weapons - they know a Yegithi pirate fleet when they see one, and they won't be pleased about it. Unless someone stops her Keleg plays on until the Old One appears, then (if she isn't already fighting someone) dives into the sea, now clear of razorteeth which have sensibly fled, and swims towards the nearest boat or cutter.
Pirate Rowing Boat - Holds 4-6 Yarge pirates with large rifles and other weapons as below. One of the pirates in each boat plays drums. Maximum speed 6 knots, BODY .
Pirate Cutter - Holds 8 Yarge pirates (the rest of the crew are in the rowing boats) with large rifles and other weapons as below. Both cutters are equipped with one cannon apiece.
Cannon: Effect 14, A:I, B:C/K, C:C/K - one shot per 5 rounds, range 200 yards.
One of the pirates in each cutter plays drums. Maximum speed 10 knots, BODY .
Pirates - BODY [4-6], MIND [2-4], SOUL [1-3], Brawling [Body+2], Marksman , Melee Weapon  All are armed with a rifle and 1-2 other weapons, plus their fists etc.
Weapon Mult. Effect A B C Rifle No 12 I C K Pistol No 10 I I C/K Scimitar No Melee+1 F I C/K Dagger (as hand weapon) No 11 F I C/K (thrown) No 8 F I C/K 1-3 Grenades Radius 4 ft. 10 F I C/K (Ceramic pot grenade with lit fuse) Fist / kick No BODY B B KO Wrestling No BODY B KO KO/I
Any dragon flying over to observe the approaching fleet sees the two yachts, each followed by three of the rowing boats, travelling in two parallel lines about a hundred yards apart. In the water between them something immensely long and sinuous seems to be swimming under the water, its outlines too vague at first to be meaningful. Gradually they become clearer and a tail rises from the sea, soon followed by the first of several loops of its body and eventually a gigantic head. As it exhales long streams of steamy moist air spread from its nostrils. It seems to focus on the ship and swims towards it, much faster than the ship can evade.
The Old One - Giant Sea Serpent, age 1200-ish, Length 270ft
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Brawling 
Wounds: F [ ], I[ ], I[ ], I[ ], I[ ], C[ ], C[ ]
Constrict, Effect , A:C, B:C/K, C:K
Bite, Effect , A:C, B:C/K, C:K
Tail smash, Effect , A:I, B:C, C:C/K
Notes: Sea Serpents are a species of the Draconis class, huge aquatic relatives of dragons generally believed to be mythical or extinct. The Old One may be the last of its kind, at least in the comparatively shallow coastal waters. It lives in a deep crevasse and normally eats fish, razorteeth, giant squid, whales, etc. A slow steady rhythmic beat (much like the drums or the pounding of a paddle steamer's engines) will arouse its curiosity and bring it to the surface, where it will perceive the ship as food and attack it. There are naturalists who would give anything to see one in action. It's to be hoped that the adventurers will appreciate the privilege. Note that eating the body of the Old One, or any other giant sea serpent, does not confer the same benefits as eating real dragon flesh. They're not closely enough related to dragons to have the same effect.
Role Playing: It's big and it can smash ships. It's also female and lonely. If a male dragon gets close enough for it to smell him, it will suddenly turn pink, break off its attack, and try to grab the dragon in its mouth and drag him into the water to mate. This will drown the dragon eventually, but allow a few escape attempts first. It will be annoyed if jilted.
Models: Large resin Loch Ness Monster models are readily available as ornaments, usually in four pieces designed to be left on a flat surface to represent the parts of the monster above water; a head, two half-loops of body, and a separate tail. They are much cheaper than any equivalently-sized gaming model.
The aim of this scene is for the pirates to attack the ship but fail to sink her; she should then limp back towards the closest port, Stottle. Try to keep things as confusing and exciting as possible, with something for all the dragons to do. For example, one of the dragons might think of dropping a heavy weight onto a pirate yacht, another might prefer to stay on deck ready to flame any pirates who come too close. The pirates will be firing cannon and rifles as soon as their yachts and boats get in range, although if the Rose tries to escape they won't catch up until the Old One has damaged the ship sufficiently to slow it down.
If Keleg is fighting one of the dragons she'll try to keep the fight moving and distract them and the crew from the approaching dangers. If she can, she'll give the crew the impression that the dragons are responsible for the attack and she's trying to protect the ship! She'll keep fighting until the Old One catches up with the ship, or it looks like she's about to be killed, then dive into the sea and swim for the comparative safety of the pirate fleet. Whatever happens she shouldn't be killed at this stage, unless the adventurers have made sure that there is absolutely no doubt - for example, by holding her in both front claws and flaming her or biting her head off. Short of that, she will miraculously escape. There's nothing wrong with giving players the impression that she's dead - for example, she might be fighting a dragon until the ship is hit by a cannon ball - when the dust settles she's gone and there's a gaping hole in the deck. If necessary she'll play dead - for example, in one play-test Keleg pretended to be a floating corpse until one of the dragons plucked her from the water, and promptly found a sword at his throat. When her attack failed to kill the dragon she dived into the sea from several hundred feet up, apparently preferring death to capture, only to reappear a few days later.
The Old One's attacks and cannon fire from the cutters are essentially random, targeting the ship rather than its occupants (though the Old One will happily gobble up Yarge or dragons as it smashes the ship). The pirates won't fire while the Old One is attacking the ship. For these attacks the Effect attacks the BODY of the ship, initially 55.
Dropping something (such as a printing press, BODY 8, or piece of the ship's ballast, BODY 3) requires a marksmanship roll against Difficulty 7 to hit the smaller boats, Difficulty 6 for the cutters, Difficulty 5 to hit the Old One. Ask players to state the height they are dropping from and any evasive manoeuvres they may be taking (which can add to the Difficulty).
Any successful flame attack on a boat will probably start a fire which could easily set off gunpowder (if there is a cannon aboard) or otherwise cause horrible amounts of damage. Of course the pirates are well aware of this, and if they see a dragon attacking at low altitude (the only way to get a good shot with flame) they'll concentrate all guns on it. Keep things moving and don't worry too much about playing out every last detail of the combat by strict rules - if something seems dramatically right, such as a flame attack setting the sails of a cutter alight, then that's what happens. Eventually the Rose will sink or the pirates will break off the attack; if she isn't otherwise distracted the Old One will break off the attack and head for the deeps as soon as she takes two Injuries or a Critical injury, even if the pirates are otherwise winning the battle. The pirates will break off if Keleg is killed or seriously wounded, if at least three boats or both cutters are sunk, or if the Old One leaves and the Rose isn't already sinking.
Assuming that the Rose or the dragons eventually arrive in Stottle, one way or another, and the survivors tell their story, there will be a huge fuss - most of Keleg's fans won't want to believe that she led the attack, and some conspiracy theorists may suspect that the dragons were really responsible, and mesmerized her to make her take the blame. The Rose will probably need some repairs if the ship survived at all, otherwise it will be two or three days before the next ship on the route arrives. Meanwhile the Prince issues a proclamation outlawing Keleg (if she isn't definitely 100.00% dead beyond all possible doubt) and sends messengers to Voldor and Kosp to warn of her treachery.
Meanwhile, if Keleg did survive and escape she is mustering her remaining forces for a renewed attack on the dragons. If she is (apparently) definitely dead her lieutenants decide that their dubious honour (and pirate-cred) requires them to avenge her.
Two or three days after the battle, when the Rose is nearly ready to sail or a replacement ship is due to arrive, the pirates have infiltrated several marksmen into the port, where they move to the roofs of buildings overlooking the Rose. If Keleg survived she plans to challenge the largest and fiercest dragon (or whichever dragon has given here the most trouble) to single combat, otherwise her lieutenants intend to strike without warning. Unknown to Keleg, her lieutenants have decided that they can live without her type of insane bravado, and do better business if they don't have to worry about the Old One. They don't intend to wait out her challenge if they can make their betrayal look like they are trying to "help" her; as soon as all the dragons are in sight the snipers will open fire. None of them will be aiming at her deliberately, but accidents happen… Meanwhile another pirate fleet will attack from the sea, the pirates intending to cause as much chaos as possible and burn the port if they can get away with it. Use four cutters and eight boats as above. Naturally things aren't going to go as planned - the dragons probably won't be easy victims, and the Prince has guessed that there might be more trouble. There are four armed steam launches waiting in inlets to either side of the port, as soon as the pirates attack they will come out to attack them from the rear.
Steam Launch - Holds 12 Yarge sailors and marines armed with large rifles and cutlasses; stats as for the pirates above. Each launch is equipped with a rifled cannon.
Cannon: Effect 13, A:I, B:C/K, C:C/K - one shot per 4 rounds, range 250 yards.
Maximum speed 12 knots, BODY .
Additionally, the Prince has a little surprise for the pirates and for the dragons - the Lipahis Flyer is a dirigible airship carrying six sailors:
The Lipahis Flyer: Hydrogen-filled steam-propelled armed dirigible; the engine runs on pressure from a cylinder filled with high-pressure steam; there is no boiler, and range is limited to about 20 miles before the cylinder cools or pressure is lost. It is armed with a steam cannon, firing balls via pneumatic pressure, and holds five Yarge sailors armed with crossbows (to avoid any chance of a gunshot igniting the hydrogen) and darts, designed to be dropped onto targets such as dragons or boats. Stats for the crew are as for the pirates above, but add Pilot , Military Arms  and Mechanic .
Maximum speed 20 knots, BODY 
Steam Cannon: Effect 12, A:I, B:C/K, C:C/K - one shot per 3 rounds, range 300 yd.
Darts: Effect 6, A:F, B:I, C:C/K - designed to be dropped vertically
Firing the cannon reduces the Flyer's range significantly, and will only be done as a last resort. Additionally, If the cannon is actually fired the Flyer lurches and loses power and stability for the next 2D6 rounds, diving or rising uncontrollably until the crew can get the ballast re-stowed. A dragon may be able to help, but flame anywhere near the gas bag will cause a catastrophic fire.
There are also squads of soldiers ready for any attack, as in Torsine but without the armoured cars. Try to keep things as confused and fluid as possible, with dragons and soldiers chasing the pirates around the port area, desperate hand-to-hand fights on the dockside and across the warehouse roofs, and so forth, with the dragons probably participating and having a hard time distinguishing friend and foe. Keleg will do her best to kill at least one of the dragons, if she isn't killed in the crossfire, but should at last be seen to be seriously injured or killed, if possible captured alive by the dragons. Eventually the pirates should be soundly defeated, but try to ensure that the dragons earn a good deal of the credit for the victory. For the next few days, while the Rose is repaired again, they will be feted by the citizens of Stottle, hopefully earning more good-will by good behaviour. They will be invited to a banquet hosted by the Mayor of Stottle - the Prince of Lipahis won't put in an appearance, since it would be politically unwise to be associated too strongly with dragons given the attitude of the Sultan of Rasdogah Erofal, but the food and wine will be acceptable, and after a few speeches the dragons that took part in the battle will be presented with large gold medallions by the Mayor. if the medallions are later weighed and assayed they'll be found to be worth about 30 crowns apiece. If the dragons killed Keleg, or captured her, they will be given a reward of 500 Crowns to be split as they like.
Eventually the Rose loads up on coal and a few passengers board for the next stage of the journey, from Stottle to Kosp.
Hopefully the dragons will now assume that the worst is over, and they're nearly right. However, there's one more loose end that may need to be tied off.
If the Old One was close enough to a male dragon to scent him and turn pink she will now be following the ship and feeling somewhat rejected (unless she killed the dragon in question, in which case she will be looking for another mate); in either case she has been surfacing to follow the scent of dragons since she was first encountered, and finally catches up with the ship about half-way between Stottle and Kosp. The first intimation of this is a distant moaning roar during the night; if the dragons fly to investigate (remember that they can see perfectly well in the dark) they'll eventually spot the Old One five miles behind the ship, but slowly catching up.
The adventurers may have some cunning plan for dealing with the sea serpent - for example, a raft packed with barrels of gunpowder, ready to tow behind the ship and kill her at a suitable moment. If so encourage them to use it. If not, they need to find ways to distract the monster and keep her from attacking the ship again. And the best distraction is, of course, a male dragon...
Play this as a love-sick sea monster trying to catch up with the object of her affections, and unable to understand why her advances are being rejected. If she isn't stopped she will eventually attack the Rose again, but shutting down the engines will make her lose interest. The best tactic is probably for a male dragon to lead the Old One away, or distract her with food - a few muttonwools dropped into the sea might help, or something larger if the dragons have brought something suitable along with them. Try to discourage them from using Yarge, it won't win them any friends.
Eventually the Old One will probably be injured so badly that she dives for the deep ocean, or lose interest in the ship for some other reason. Once she's out of the way the rest of the run is uneventful, and the Rose reaches Kosp in the early hours of the morning.
At Kosp the Sultan's men board to investigate the reports they've received from the Prince of Lipahis. They want to know every detail of Keleg's attack on the ship, and make sure that the information is spread by story-tellers and Rasdogah Erofal's newspapers. The Sultan aims to discredit her, and really doesn't care how he does it. Needless to say the police and reporters sent aboard the ship will be amazed that such a legend has finally been defeated, but that won't stop them from blackening Keleg's name as ordered - if it takes the testimony of a hated dragon, then that's what it takes. After their questioning the dragons may think that the Sultan's attitude to dragons must be improving, but any attempt to leave the ship will still be rebuffed - the Sultan really doesn't want dragons anywhere in his country, and doesn't care if he hurts their feelings.
In the afternoon a deck cargo of timber is loaded, destined for Danithsul in East Danith, and the ship sets sail for an entirely uneventful run of 350 miles, arriving late the following afternoon. If anyone was expecting the Old One to re-appear they'll be disappointed.
At Danithsul there's an unexpected welcoming committee - Respected Ogethon Retalath representing the Crimson Claw, and the Yarge Dungan M'Laden representing Ithelar Coastal Lines. They've taken the long railway journey through Belshulath, North Danith, and East Danith to meet the ship, and are naturally keen to learn every detail of events. If the adventurers have done well they will be able to report that the threat to shipping is over; unfortunately the insurers will have to pay out for losses caused by piracy, but at least they can be sure that the company hasn't been defrauded. This cheers M'Laden considerably, but leaves Retalath feeling depressed; the adventurers can probably live with that.
Unless the adventurers particularly want to experience another long sea voyage M'Laden will be happy to pay their rail fares back to Tiamath; it frees up the hold, and means that the ICL won't have to feed the dragons. The total distance is about 500 miles, but since most of the journey is made at Yarge speeds, not the sane 20mph or so of Tiamath's lines, it will only take three days.
Once back in Tiamath the dragons have to wait a couple of days before the Crimson Claw is ready to see them. He will review their actions and question them about Keleg, the pirates, the attitudes of the Yarge government officials they've encountered, and anything else that seems relevant.
Bonus points should be awarded for heroic actions, for saving lives and improving Dragon/Yarge relations, for making the referee laugh, or anything else that seems appropriate. This is potentially a dangerous adventure, but a maximum of ten bonus points per player is probably sufficient reward. Don't forget to reward entertaining cowardice! If anyone has been eaten all of the effects on BODY and abilities come into play before the next adventure is run.
Finally, if the Old One was rejected she's still out there somewhere, looking for her lost love…
This is an optional short sequel for characters who participated in the earlier adventure. Forty years have passed, and the Rose of Migantia has long been forgotten. Or has it? Someone isn't so sure…
Any surviving dragons receive letters written in moderately good Draconic, with tiny Yarge lettering:
I have the pleasure of inviting you to participate in the Corporation's most ambitious production to date, to be entitled Keleg and the Dragons. It is to be telling the story of Keleg Dragon-Slayer and her association with pirates, and of the events of the voyage of the ship Rose of Migantia. It is my understanding that you were present aboard the ship, and may be able to help ensure the accuracy of our production; since many of the non-draconic participants in these events have since died, we would welcome any information you can provide. Should you perhaps be interested in a more active part in our production it might also be arranged; there are, of course, several roles for dragons. In either event we are able to offer a most generous honorarium depending on the level of your participation.
Please to be
making contact with our Tiamath bankers, the most eminent Crimson Claw,
to make financial and travel arrangements, if this appeals. I am,
It's unlikely that the dragons will know much about mutoscopes in general, or the Mutoscope Corporation in particular, but anyone with an interest in Yarge current affairs, or investments in Yarge businesses, can probably shred some light on the subject.
Briefly, the Mutoscope is a weird invention by which Yarge can allegedly see a moving image in a rapidly-viewed series of pictures. No dragon can perceive this illusion - to dragons a series of images is simply a series of stationary images, even if shown at many times the speed a Yarge would use.
To make these images the Yarge use engravings based on a new invention; photography. Roughly one picture in five starts out as a photograph, requiring an exposure of twenty to thirty seconds; the rest are modified variations of the first, showing several intermediate stages of movement. They are viewed through a hand-cranked machine, the mutoscope. A typical mutoscope performance has about a thousand pictures, viewed over a minute or so. Typically they show a simple story, aimed at the lowest common denominator of the audience - a comic fight, some spectacle of the natural world, a short theatrical performance, scantily clad dancers, or whatever else seems to be in demand. Any dialogue is shown as white text on a dark background. Each viewing costs a penny, compared to a crown or more for a typical play - while the play usually lasts a couple of hours, there is apparently a large audience which prefers entertainment requiring a much shorter attention span. Currently they are very popular in all of the Yarge nations.
The Mutoscope Corporation is entirely genuine, as is the project. What the adventurers won't initially know is that the plan is to make an epic - running to five minutes and requiring a bank of that many mutoscope machines - that is very much a whitewash of Keleg Dragon-Slayer, written especially to "set the record straight" about this beloved folk heroine. The reason for this is simple; Keleg is still around (even if the dragons think they killed her), and has script approval!
Unknown to the corporation, there is a second plot - Keleg is now confined to a wheelchair and is secretly terminally ill. She plans to provoke the dragons into killing her, so that she can go out in a blaze of glory and give her daughter Tiadra (who is present but incognito, apparently just an actress who is playing the role of Keleg) the opportunity to avenge her death and become a dragon-slayer in turn.
Unknown to Keleg, there is a third plot - Tiadra has no intention of becoming a dragon-slayer; she has no problem with her mother dying heroically, but no interest in avenging her death or following her example. If Keleg is killed Tiadra will stand well back and pretend to be overcome with grief (she's a better actress than she initially appears) then return to the Yegith archipelago to claim her inheritance, a fortune plundered during Keleg's piratical reign.
|Troubleshooting: If the adventurers ignore the letter, don't force them to participate in the production. They'll later see glowing Yarge reviews of the epic, which make it clear that accounts of their involvement in the story have been horribly distorted, but by then it's too late.|
Assuming that some or all of the dragons are interested in taking up the offer, the bank will give them rail tickets to Migantia and fifty crowns apiece to cover their travel expenses. The journey hasn't changed much in forty years, neither has Migantia when they get there. If they've arranged things properly a young Yarge will be waiting to meet them at the station, show them to a nearby hotel which has good cellar accommodation for dragons, then escort them to the studios.
The Mutoscope Corporation has three warehouse-sized "stages" near the docks. The buildings are all much the same; glass roofed, with all of the apparatus of a stage set but the audience replaced by a leather and wood bellows plate camera. There's more lighting than any theatre the dragons will have seen before; mirrors to reflect sunlight, gauzy awnings to diffuse it, and gas-powered lime lights for use if it's cloudy. Everything on the sets looks lavish; think "Bollywood" and you won't go far wrong. Since it's impossible to tell a complex story with the available tools the producers go for spectacle - for example, scenes set in the pirate's lair will have dancing girls, fire-eaters, mounds of fake gold coins (actually gilded wood), and so forth. There's no colour or sound in the final product, but having everything look realistic helps everyone get into the right mood.
Don't go into technical details about the processes involved in making Mutoscope epics unless the adventurers express an interest. All they really need to be aware of is that they require hundreds of carefully posed photographs, each slightly different from the one preceding it, taking 20-30 seconds per photograph; during each photograph everyone must stand completely still. Between exposures everyone stretches, then assistants rush in with tape measures to carefully position everyone to the next carefully choreographed pose, waits while the director screams at whoever is now in the wrong position, and does it all again. And again... and again... and again...
As soon as a photograph has been taken the photographer hands the plate to his assistant, who rushes it off to be processed. Next it is handed over to the artists and engravers who convert everything to printing plates and interpolate the missing pictures. It takes several hours to produce each second of the final epic - and occasionally there's a problem, and it has to be done over again.
While dozens of Yarge are involved, the adventurers will eventually be introduced to the cast and crew listed below; naturally there are other actors, extras, and technicians of one sort or another, but don't bother to name them unless someone actually asks.
Garth Talbod, director, an intense Yarge with the dictatorial manner of a drill sergeant. He feels that no day is complete if he doesn't get to make at least one actor cry.
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Artist (theatrical director) , Business , Brawling 
Jamez Olen, photographer, a short red-headed Yarge who wears thick glasses. On the set he is usually immersed in the details of his work, with a couple of assistants adjusting things, measuring the distance from the lens to each shot, and so forth. He appears to have no personality outside his work.
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Artist (photographer) 
Tiadra Keela, an up-and-coming Yegithi actress who is playing Keleg. Nobody in the production company is aware that she is actually Tiadra Kelegdottir, Keleg's daughter. She is lithe, acrobatic, and (apparently) an indifferent actress who happens to look a lot like the young Keleg.
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (sing, dance, drums) , Athlete (swim, run, gymnastics) , Brawling , Linguist  (Draconic, Lipathi, Migantine), Marksman , Melee Weapon , Martial Arts , Riding , Stealth , Thief . 3 Bonus points.
Weapon Mult. Effect A B C 2 Scimitars 2 9 F I C/K (carried on set) 3 Daggers (as hand weapons) 2 6 F I C/K (always carried) (thrown) 2 6 F I C/K Fist / kick 2 5 B B KO Wrestling No 5 B KO KO/I
Quote: "I'm sorry, I'm not quite sure of my motivation in this scene."
Equipment: Clothing, various perfumes and oils, weapons as above.
Notes: Tiadra has spent her life in her mother's shadow, and has no intention of avenging her death. She seems to have a very draconic view of life; she plans to play along with things until her mother is dead then walk away with her money. Tiadra is very attractive to other Yarge (dragons won't notice), and with fake tattoos and swords looks and sounds a lot like her mother did forty years earlier. Although Tiadra doesn't yet know it, she is the daughter and only natural heir of the Sultan of Rasdogah Erofal.
Role Playing: Tiadra spends a lot of time pretending to be just another actress, and hoping that her mother won't realise that she's more interested in money and acting than in going into business as a dragon slayer.
Avageth Rimalin, the only dragon in the company, aged 155. He's a distant cousin of the aristocratic Rimalins but has no title. Although he's on a salary and won't lose out if other dragons become involved in the action, he'll still be jealous of their involvement. He's worried that they might decide to go into the business and eventually compete with him for roles.
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Length 23ft, Tough 1pt
Wounds: B, F, I, I, I, C
Skills: Actor (Mutoscope) , Brawling , Flying , Linguist , (Migantine, Belshululine), Stealth . Standard draconic attacks etc., no flame.
Equipment: Assorted personal junk of little value, hat
Notes: An indifferent actor who failed to impress the sophisticated audiences of Tiamath, but turns out to be reasonably good at standing still for extended periods. He will pay unwelcome(?) attention to any dragonesses.
Traits: Snob, Nominally Religious, Promiscuous.
R'Nald Traven, playing the Sultan of Rasdogah Erofal, a pirate chieftain, and other roles. A plump pompous actor with a drinking problem, who fancies himself as a master of disguise provided that the disguise is a change of clothes and a false moustache or beard. Like many Yarge he has military experience and skills.
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (Mutoscope) , Brawling , Melee weapon , Marksmanship , Military Arms . He owns (but rarely carries) a large pistol, and in most of his parts has a sword of some sort.
Carmorn Thatcher, playing various female roles. A statuesque woman prone to temper tantrums. She thinks that she should be playing Keleg, and regards Tiadra's selection for the role as an insult.
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (Mutoscope) , Brawling (especially throwing fragile ornaments) 
The adventurers' first impression should be that things are completely chaotic. When they arrive, a scene set aboard the Rose of Migantia (which for the purposes of the production has a large ballroom) is being prepared; technicians are moving props, wardrobe assistants are helping the actors (those mentioned above, plus a dozen or so other actors and extras) into their costumes, and so forth. Tiadra is reading the script aloud, and pouting as she slowly says "I... I am Keleg, some call me the Dragon-Slayer. Look, I'm sorry; I just don't seem to have much motivation here." She sounds totally un-threatening, even to dragons.
From behind the dragons an unmistakable voice says "Like this. 'I am Keleg. Some calls me Keleg Dragon-Slayer.' You want them to feel the fear."
When the dragons look round they will see an elderly Yarge female in a wheelchair. Despite her age Keleg still bears the faded tattoos that mark her as a dragon-slayer, and radiates a presence that will make even the toughest dragon think twice before trying anything silly. The end of a sheathed scimitar is visible under her coat.
Keleg Dragon-Slayer - Aged Celebrity Psychopath, Former Pirate (age 75*) *57 Earth years
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (sing, drums) , Athlete (swim) , Brawling , Linguist  (Draconic, Lipathi, Migantine), Marksman , Melee Weapon , Martial Arts . 2 Bonus points.
Keleg Dragon-Slayer - Aged Celebrity Psychopath, Former Pirate (age 75*) *57 Earth years
BODY , MIND , SOUL , Actor (sing, drums) , Athlete (swim) , Brawling , Linguist  (Draconic, Lipathi, Migantine), Marksman , Melee Weapon , Martial Arts . 2 Bonus points.
Weapon Mult. Effect A B C Scimitar 2 8 F I C/K (always carried) 2 Daggers (as hand weapons) 2 7 F I C/K (always carried) (thrown) 2 6 F I C/K Fist 2 5 B B KO
Quote: "What can I say? I got old!"
Equipment: Drums, clothing, various perfumes and oils, wheelchair, weapons etc. as above.
Notes: Keleg's history is complicated (see above and the Trouble Shooting box below), but she is still a psychopath, and still has no respect for draconic life, and very little respect for any other Yarge, with the possible exception of her daughter. She regards Tiadra as a grave disappointment; she expected her to be much more enthusiastic about slaying dragons, since both of her parents are dragon-slayers. Keleg believes that if she is killed Tiadra will naturally avenge her death.
She cannot be mesmerised - the truly insane rarely can - but she is capable of faking it to gain an advantage.
Role Playing: Keleg is arrogant, self-assured, and probably the most dangerous Yarge anyone will ever meet, even in her weakened condition; unless she is deliberately trying to avoid attracting attention she tends to be the focus of every eye. She is never uncertain. Despite her honourable title she is a mass-murderer with a callous disregard for Yarge and Draconic life. She has recently learned that she is incurably ill, and believes that she has nothing left to live for apart from ensuring that Tiadra carries on the family legacy. She will be happy to die to ensure this result.
Troubleshooting: If any of the adventurers think that they killed Keleg forty years earlier, the explanation is simple; in the excitement and smoke of battle she used a stunt double! Dragons have never been very good at telling Yarge apart, and one of the other pirates was a cousin, who looked enough like her to fool them and was also wearing a dragon-hide jerkin under her clothing. During the fight Keleg literally tripped over her double's body and fell into the sea, or otherwise inadvertently left the fight, leaving the body in her place. Later she was captured and imprisoned in the Sultan of Rasdogah Erofal's harem, which is why she dropped out of sight for many years. Eventually she escaped, pregnant, inflicting wounds en route that ensured that the Sultan has no other heirs, and spent the next few years on the run. Since then she has led a long and active life, which has unfortunately included some crippling falls and other injuries. She still has as much willpower as ever, and the same charismatic personality, but she's confined to a wheelchair and will never walk again.
Exactly what goes into this epic depends on what happened when the original adventure was run. Generally speaking events shown in the script run more or less as the dragons remember, but at every step their and Keleg's actions and motivation will be distorted to make her seem an innocent pawn of a fiendish draconic conspiracy. The five episodes have the following titles and summaries; feel free to make changes if things went differently:
- Keleg and the Sultan - The Sultan of Rasdogah Erofal tries to seduce Keleg, who virtuously spurns his advances. In retaliation he has her sent into exile, and sends a letter to an unknown recipient. The episode ends with a cheering crowd watching her board the Rose. In the last seconds of the episode the letter is seen again, with a dragon's claw running down the text and pausing at the words "Blacken her name!" The final words shown are: To be continued...
- Dragons Discovered! - Aboard the Rose Keleg realises that all is not well. The crew are acting strangely, as though mesmerized. If the dragons were initially revealed to be aboard by children (as on page 138) the script shows them mesmerizing the children and debating whether or not to kill them, the children freed accidentally and running to Keleg, and so forth. In the final scene Keleg goes to confront the dragons, and is mesmerized by them. "And now that you are in our power," the final lettering reads, "we will destroy you." To be continued...
- Mesmerised! - In a trance, Keleg goes to the deck and starts playing her drums. Soon the pirates and Old One appear, apparently summoned by Keleg but in reality controlled by the dragons; exactly how isn't made clear. Keleg slowly breaks free of the spell, as the dragons pretend to be trying to fight off the attack, taking care to avoid doing much damage to the pirates or Old One. In the final moments the dragons scream "Kill her!" and swoop down to attack Keleg. To be continued...
- Dragon-Slayer! - It's time for the big Keleg versus Dragon fight, most of the fourth episode. It moves around the deck, into the ballroom (with several cannonballs ploughing through the background) then back on deck again. Finally, as Keleg is about to kill the most dangerous dragon, another explosion blows her off the deck and into the sea. The dragons are seen aboard ship, congratulating themselves on having killed her and made it look like they were defending the Yarge. To be continued...
- Revenge of the Sultan - Keleg somehow swims ashore and tries to summon help. To her horror the Sultan arrives! Dozens of soldiers surround Keleg and take her prisoner, while the Sultan gloats that there is no escape. Time passes (indicated by a calendar with days then years ripped off) and eventually the Sultan has her dragged to his bedchamber and gloats again; "All believe you to be dead, and a murderous pirate! Now your beauty will be mine!" Keleg seizes a scimitar from one of the guards, uses it to kill several guards in rapid succession, and drags the Sultan to the window. Another guard tries to stop her and accidentally stabs the Sultan in a very sensitive area. Keleg dives out of the window, and the story ends with her riding off to freedom aboard a fiery steed, with the caption "Now you know the truth of my life, and the lies that have been told about me by my enemies. I am Keleg Dragon-Slayer. One day I will have my revenge." The End - followed, a few seconds later, by a question mark.
The dragons may want to correct the "facts" of the story, and anything they say will be listened to by Talbod, apparently taken very seriously... but ultimately ignored. Since there is no draconic audience for Mutoscope performances he isn't worried about losing sales by offending dragons - if anything, dragon hostility would make the series more popular. On the other hand he does want the dragons to act for him, it isn't going to be very convincing with only one dragon on stage, and if they seem to be unwilling to participate in Keleg's distortion of events he will pretend to take them seriously, and make a few apparent changes that can be cut out or presented differently in the finished epic. Sets include the ballroom, the bridge of the ship, the hold, the deck, docks, and so forth. If dragons are shown flying they must perch on sturdy beams, carefully painted to merge in with the background of the "sky," and stay still while pretending to be gliding or flapping their wings.
Props include backdrops showing distant scenery, a huge papier-mâché sea serpent, several boats, and so forth. Weapons are generally real, not dummies - many Yarge have military or martial arts training and would spot fakes. Guns are loaded with dummy cartridges, of course, nobody wants accidents.
The whole process is muscle- and brain-numbing tedious work, and if the dragons are "acting" they must eventually start to roll their MIND against increasing Difficulty to stay still during each photograph. Avageth and Talbod will both be somewhat scathing if anyone fails and ruins a shot.
It's likely that the adventurers will be very suspicious of Keleg and anyone she associates with, and she is counting on manipulating their paranoia to ensure that they kill her. Exactly how she does this should be tailored to the players; generally they shouldn't need much convincing. She wants her daughter present, to give her an excuse to declare blood feud on the dragons, but doesn't want to make it too obvious that this is her motivation. For example:
- Keleg makes sure that the dragons overhear her telling Tiadra that she won't be able to play her properly until she understands her religion; "we goes down to the water at dawn, and I show you how to play the drums like they should be played." Once there Keleg starts to drum as though summoning the Old One, encouraging Tiadra to join in on smaller drums. If the adventurers remember the last time this should be enough reason to want to stop them. Tiadra will naturally comply, Keleg will keep playing. If the dragons try to force Keleg to stop, she will make sure that they have no choice other than to kill her. The Old One does not put in an appearance; she never ventures into the treacherous waters of the Narrow Sea.
- While showing Tiadra how to handle a knife for one of her scenes Keleg "accidentally" throws it at one of the dragons, and doesn't even try to pretend to be apologetic about it.
- Keleg starts talking about "the good old days" when dragons knew their place and would have known better than to come anywhere near a dragon-slayer. Make this as insulting as possible, preferably when one of the dragons is supposed to be standing still for a photograph.
- Keleg runs her wheelchair over someone's tail.
- All else having failed, Keleg drops a few crowns when a dragon is nearby then goes after him or her with her scimitar, claiming that the dragon tried to steal her gold.
End Game: The Next Generation
Sooner or later Keleg should succeed in provoking a dragon or dragons into killing her, expecting that Tiadra will slay her killer. Run the fight fairly; if Keleg happens to get in a lucky blow and injures or kills a dragon she will definitely die happy. Whatever happens, her dying words will be "Avenge me!"
Tiadra waits until she is quite sure that Keleg is dead then says "Sorry, Mummy. That really isn't my idea of fun." This may surprise the dragons, or they may already be suspicious of her. Whatever, she makes quite sure that they realise that she isn't a threat, and helps them deal with the authorities (who will otherwise assume that they have murdered their old enemy Keleg). If possible she persuades them to help make the remainder of the epic; if they are unwilling, photography will carry on without them. The end result will be Keleg's version of events.
This shouldn't be an especially dangerous adventure - essentially the dragons have to fight one little old lady who wants to be killed - but getting through it intact and without being branded as murderers should be good for a few bonus points. As always reward good role-playing, humour, etc.
Optionally, a few weeks after the dragons return home they receive a letter from Tiadra; while going through her mother's papers she's discovered proof that she's the rightful heir to the Sultan of Rasdogah Erofal. If they are willing to help her claim her throne, she might be able to make things much better for dragons visiting that country... The dragons may or may not choose to follow up on this and help her. If they do they should eventually learn that Tiadra is just as dangerous as her mother, in her own way; a cunning and extremely ruthless plotter who regards her allies as expendable, especially if she can use them as scapegoats in her plans, and dragon involvement may be considered an act of war.
Amazing Things Every Dragonet Should Know
The Blessed Jamanah is perhaps the best-known and most beloved author in Tiamath. Parson of a quiet country parish, he has ample time to devote to his literary career. Over the last four hundred years he has published a succession of educational books for dragonets, each a model of clarity and accuracy, covering science and natural history, the arts, history and geography, and of course religion. His fame isn't just confined to Tiamath; since his books are easy to read, and give a good idea of the draconic view of things, they are widely read by Yarge students of the draconic language and culture.
Exactly how the adventurers come to know him is left to the referee; they might be neighbours, friends, fellow authors, fans, or related to him. They should not be employed directly by Jamanah or his publishers. Whatever the reason, they will become aware of a crisis that threatens to bring his career to an abrupt halt.
For more than two hundred years A Dragonet's Book of Amazing Natural Science Wonders has enthralled young readers. Three years ago a young engineer happened to dip into his childhood copy, and discovered a dozen small errors in physics, astronomy, and basic calculation. For example, the original text of the section on the calendar (see above) defined the second as the time for a drop of water to fall thirty feet from rest; in fact, the correct distance is fifteen feet. Jamanah seems to have mixed up the distance and the rate of acceleration due to gravity - or someone else involved in the production of the book made the mistake at a later stage, and Jamanah never noticed. It's an easy mistake to make, but in Jamanah's mind that is no excuse.
The snag is that after two hundred years nobody can remember who is responsible for the errors. Was Jamanah a little careless in his writing, or did someone make several mistakes while setting up the type? Since these errors were discovered Jamanah and his publishers have been frantically going back through all of his books, looking for more mistakes. Unfortunately they've found some - nothing quite as blatant, and nearly all of them at least a hundred years old, but nevertheless mistakes Jamanah regards as inexcusable. Someone should have caught them, either Jamanah or the publishers' readers and editors. He prides himself on his accuracy (and sometimes worries if the pride is sinful), now he worries that he has been deluding himself and his readers.
Currently Jamanah is working on a new title, Amazing Things Every Dragonet Should Know, a wide-ranging book which answers many of the questions he has been sent by dragonets over the last four centuries. It covers natural history, science, geography, astronomy, Yarge and Draconic culture, travel, religion, history, etc. He's as sure as he can be that everything in it is correct, of course, but some of the information is years old, and refers to fields that can change rapidly such as Yarge engineering; some comes from dubious sources; some may be difficult to verify, or require subjective opinions. He's decided that before the book sees print every fact in it must be checked, as far as is possible. And given his parish duties and the wide-ranging nature of the book, there's no way that he can do it all himself. As a result Jamanah and his publishers are trying to call in every favour they can, to get as much fact checking as possible done as quickly as possible, preferably with independent verification. About half of it is routine research that can be done by any competent hack, but the rest will need more effort.
Exactly how the adventurers become involved is left to the referee. For example:
- They happen to have information on something that isn't common knowledge, e.g. eye-witness details of the death of Keleg Dragon-Slayer (see the previous adventure).
- They are going somewhere that the book describes: "While you're visiting Samindra would you mind taking a look at the old ruined temple South of the capital? There's a theory that dragons built it..."
- They're involved in some field that's relevant to the book: "I'm sure you're right to say that the atom is indivisible, but can you prove it?"
- They've already said something that relates to one of Jamanah's topics, but he needs a little evidence - this is especially effective if they've wildly exaggerated something; "The Sea Serpent was five hundred feet long? How in Veld's name did you measure it?"
- One of them has an unusual skill that can be used to answer one of the questions; "You're good at mesmerism? Now that's interesting, a lot of my readers would like to know more about that..."
There are dozens of other possibilities; what's important is that the question asked is something that one or more of the characters is likely to be able to answer, but not without a certain amount of work, some nosiness, and so forth. Even an easy answer can lead to complications, of course; for instance, in the examples above:
- Keleg's heir probably won't be too happy about an entirely accurate account of her death, and if the optional ending for the adventure was used she may now be in a position to make life very awkward for anyone who blackens her mother's name.
- The Samindran temple may be full of booby-traps or venomous snakes, or contain information about the ancient Draconic religion that the adventurers might prefer to keep suppressed; perhaps the ancient dragons worshipped Azashan, or ate healthy dragonets, or warred against each other rather than the Yarge.
- Splitting the atom isn't exactly a trivial exercise, and the consequences of proving that it's possible might be much more serious than expected. Dragons need to take a long-term view of things, decades and centuries rather than months and years.
- Are the adventurers really going to find the Sea Serpent and measure it? If so, how, and how do they plan to survive the experience?
- Finding Yarge subjects who are prepared to be mesmerized, even in the cause of educating dragonets, may not be entirely straightforward...
Some of the questions relate to matters that can cause serious arguments; "why don't Yarge eat their young?" is a good example. A few of the ideas behind the questions are just plain wrong, years out of date or based on "facts" now known to be erroneous.
Once the adventurers provide an answer, they will be asked again and again. There isn't a huge amount of pressure involved; try to present it as doing a favour for someone (such as Jamanah or his publisher) who may eventually be able to do a favour for the dragons. It's always "While you're in the neighbourhood would you mind looking into this?" not "Go there and find this out."
There is no need for there to be any connection between one question and the next; there isn't a plot here as such, just a book that needs a lot of answers. Of course this research may be used to disguise other activities; for example, dragons working for Tiamath's intelligence service might be given a cover as dilettantes researching some obscure fact for Jamanah, which requires them to visit odd corners of the Yarge nations. Or dragons who have been helping Jamanah may suddenly find that the intelligence service wants to recruit them.
Following are some questions to set the ball rolling; there's no need to prepare dozens in advance, since this is intended to be an intermittent theme for adventures, not a full-time job. The first few have Jamanah's answers, and some suggestions as to how the adventurers might verify them; it's up to the referee to create a few complications, and decide where the truth might lie.
Q: What are "pets" and why do Yarge keep them? A: Dragons visiting the Yarge lands are often surprised to notice the presence of many domesticated animals which are not kept for food, used as drafters or mounts, or otherwise utilised in a manner that we would recognise. These animals are often referred to as "pets."
Generally speaking pets provide some Veld-given capability which the Yarge do not themselves possess; for example, various species of small carnivore kept to eradicate smaller vermin, which have the agility and speed so obviously lacking in most Yarge. Larger carnivores are used as hunting animals, sent to retrieve or chase down wounded prey. Some animals have no obvious utility, but exhibit what the Yarge regard as aesthetically pleasing coloration or song. There have been suggestions that Yarge may also have curious emotional responses to pets, much as they do to their hatchlings, but this seems unlikely in the extreme.
Plot: The obvious way to investigate this is for the dragons to find a few Yarge who own pets and ask them about them. There are snags, of course; for example, most of the Yarge who actually live in Tiamath don't own pets because they tend to get eaten by young dragons. Dragons visiting the Yarge countries will find that asking about pets tends to lead to an automatic assumption that the dragons want to eat them; for some reason very few Yarge seem to think that this is a good idea. Questions about the psychology of pet ownership will make the Yarge think that the dragons are planning some sort of strange psychological warfare, and so forth. As an experiment the dragons might think of buying a few pets and seeing if they experience any of the benefits claimed by the Yarge. They might even start an interesting new fashion! Q: Is the Sultan of Rasdogah Erofal really a dragon-slayer? A: Although it seems unlikely that anyone would falsely claim to have slain one of Veld's creations, it is a fact that very few Yarge have the ability to kill an adult dragon without resorting to firearms. In the event that one of them manages such a feat "for good reason," if such there can ever be, he or she is widely celebrated as a mighty warrior, and feted in the Yarge nations. For this reason there may be occasional false claims. In recent years there have only been two dragon slayers reported; the Sultan of Rasdogah Erofal, and Keleg of the Yegith Archipelago. There is no doubt whatever about Keleg's claim; her first fight was witnessed by numerous Yarge, and subsequent attacks on other dragons have shown her to be a formidable fighter. In the case of the Sultan, however, evidence is lacking. Since the Sultan's word is law in his land the claim will not be disputed by any of his subjects; elsewhere it is regarded with a good deal more scepticism. Plot: This will only work well if it is run after The Crimson Claw Assurance Society and Masters of the Mutoscope. The question is a real can of worms. The Sultan hates dragons and will not allow them into the country; he's also reportedly near death (or may be dead already if the dragons helped Tiadra at the end of Masters of the Mutoscope). Tiadra's claim to the throne of Rasdogah Erofal rests largely on being the daughter of two dragon-slayers; if it were revealed that her father wasn't a dragon-slayer it would weaken his claim to the throne, and by implication hers. Jamanah obviously doesn't know that Keleg is already dead, so this correction alone should be useful. Unless, of course, Jamanah knows something the adventurers don't... Keleg is well-known for coming back from apparent death. Q: Why does the Yarge Ambassador open each session of the Noble Assembly, why are the bells of the Cupola rung seventeen times before sessions begin, and what is the origin of the Cupola drums? A: The ritual of the opening of the Noble Assembly dates back to the end of Tiamath's subjugation by the Yarge, and our subsequent liberation. The Yarge Ambassador is present to acknowledge our freedom, and explicitly names and acknowledges the assembly of free dragons in his opening address. The drum-heads are made of the skin of the last Yarge Governor of Tiamath, deposed and killed by our rebellion, while the dragonbone sticks are leg-bones of the puppet "king" the Yarge imposed as nominal ruler under the Governor's direction, who died with the Governor. The reason why the bells are rung seventeen times is open to debate; legend has it that a Yarge sentry began to ring the alarm bells of the Governor's palace as the rebels broke in, and was killed after the seventeenth peal. The speed at which a bell is rung relates to its weight and the way in which it is hung, not the strength of the person ringing it, so would be much the same for a Yarge as for a dragon. Assuming a delay of four to five seconds between peals, as with the current Cupola bells, this would suggest that the palace fell in about a minute. While unlikely, this might be plausible given a surprise attack at several points and some delay in sounding the alarm. Plot: Regardless of the true history, this may be an example of Jamanah missing the blindingly obvious. Is it really likely that the drums have had the same Yarge-skin heads for nearly 5000 years? No matter how well preserved they might be, eventually they would succumb to wear, decay, or moths. It's also unlikely that dragonbone would last so well, even when preserved in a glass case at the Cupola. When were the heads last replaced, and by whom, and who knows about it? Presumably some dragons, but are the Yarge completely in the dark?
The true history of the ceremony is another can of worms, forgotten by the dragons and contradicting much of what they think they know about their history. See the epilogue towards the end of this file for the unpleasant truth.
Q: Does magic exist? A: There is magic in all things, of course; the magic of their creation by Veld. Many would argue that it resides especially in Dragonkind. How else to explain draconic flight, our longevity, the way we grow by eating dragon flesh, or the other unique features of our species? In legend there are other forms of magic, of course; spells to change form or cause illusions, to blast a foe with lightning or smite him with disease. The church teaches that Camran cast out the wizards, but the scriptures say little of their powers. Yarge legends depict some dragons as powerful wizards; our legends do the same for some Yarge. Certain mystical societies claim to know more, but seem reluctant to produce much evidence and can probably be dismissed from serious consideration. If there was ever any truth to these tales, it is that the ancient wizards are no more, and that we and the Yarge sometimes explain our own failures by crediting our enemies with more power than they really possess. Plot: Members of a group of dragon mystics (a cult which claims ancient secret knowledge) have somehow convinced themselves that magic still exists; their main evidence is an ancient scroll which seems to say that the key to power is to consume the flesh of a dragon who must meet certain requirements which apply to one of the adventurers. Either the adventurer has been bred especially to meet the needs of the prophecy, or the adventurer is simply the first dragon in many years to meet it (e.g., a blue-scaled male hatched on a Sixday, the special leap day that is added to the year every 82 years). He or she must be killed or eaten on another special day, and at a specific location. Possibly Jamanah has been tricked into persuading the adventurers to investigate the cult's activities; possibly he's involved in them.
Whether or not real magic actually exists or works in this setting is up to the referee; as noted earlier, it is not recommended. If sacrifice doesn't appeal, an apparent magical order might be an elaborate scam, set up to peddle "ancient occult knowledge" at vast prices and eager to pull in more suckers.
Another possibility is that a serious investigation of magical legends will reveal that dragons and their related species were created by Yarge magicians who wanted fearsome monsters to protect their homes but underestimated their creations. The first dragons turned on their masters, destroyed them, and used the last vestiges of their magic to attain their full size. There is no other magic in the world because dragons absorb it from their environment and by eating each other. This implies amongst other things that there might still be magic in countries that ban dragons (such as Rasdogah Erofal) or on the continents that dragons have never visited. In such a situation dragon flesh will definitely be the most potent source of magic around; if any Yarge magicians remain they will be very interested in acquiring some. But if dragons actually absorb magic, Yarge wizards (especially player characters) may find that attempts to use magic against dragons backfire, making them bigger and stronger, and that consuming dragon flesh has unfortunate side effects, their exact nature left to the imagination and sadism of the referee...
Q: Why is our unit of measurement, the foot, the size of a dragonet's foot rather than an adult dragon? A: Most of the units of measurement we use derive from the Yarge; if you were to examine the hind-foot of a male Yarge closely you would discover that it is indeed approximately a foot long. Until the Conquest most dragons had little to do with measurement; we worked with natural materials, as Veld intended, and judged things such as distance and time by instinct. This was sufficient for the work of digging caves etc. After the Conquest the Yarge required the construction of castles and other structures which needed accurate dimensions, and forced Dragonkind to use their existing units. As time went by historians believe that the advantages of measurement became clear to dragons, and the units continued to be used after we regained our freedom. While there have been several attempts to devise a more Draconic measurement system, there seems to be little advantage in doing so, and several disadvantages; most notably, much of our trade with the Yarge requires common standards. With the advent of more complex engineering, steam, etc. they have become indispensible. There are small variations between the Draconic foot and those of our neighbouring countries; at various times they too have attempted to reform their systems of measurement, or impose an exact standard across entire nations, with slightly different results in each case.
Tiamath's Standard Foot is marked on a bar of gold currently held by the Department of Weights and Measures and stored in the vaults of the Treasury. Several other standards are also kept there, and are periodically used in the measurement and verification of weights for science and commerce.
Plot: While there's nothing wrong with these facts, if the adventurers happen to make any enquiries about the official Foot they will be arrested, questioned about their reasons for asking then pressed into service as patriots (or for whatever other reason seems appropriate).
A Treasury clerk has made an unfortunate error and included the Standard Foot in a shipment of gold bullion destined for the Archon of the Edawoon Republic (see the section on the canal project above). The bribe payment is supposed to be completely secret, and it will be difficult to get the standards back once they reach the Archon. The adventurers must somehow intercept the gold en route to the Republic and replace the bars with an equivalent weight of bullion. Needless to say there isn't any easy way to warn the diplomats and couriers who are transporting the gold, who are naturally going to be just a little suspicious of any dragons who turn up out of the blue and demand access to the treasure, no matter how good their identification and story may be. They must also be careful not to drop or otherwise damage the Foot, since gold is soft and a little damage might change its length slightly.
If all else fails a new Standard Foot could be made, based on one of the Official Feet (made of durable steel) issued to government inspectors etc., but it won't be exactly the same as the previous one, and everyone will know it. There's no long-term effect - fortunately engineering and science haven't yet reached the level of accuracy where such a small change would be catastrophic - but if you can't trust the Treasury and the Department of Weights and Measures, who can you trust? Some loss of confidence is inevitable.
Some more questions for the adventurers to ponder; Jamanah's answers and the adventures they might lead to are left as an exercise for the referee:
- Why is Tiamath's railway gauge different to that of other nations?
- Why do dragonesses blush? Why do sick dragons turn green?
- What is the population of Tiamath, and is it changing?
- Who is the richest dragon in Tiamath?
- How long can dragons live, and who is the oldest dragon in Tiamath?
- Will photography ever improve to a point at which it can be used inside a proper cave?
Epilogue: Past, Present and Future
A Yarge princess watches admiringly as soldiers stack the corpses of their last victims for burning in the aftermath of the Conquest.
This book has tried to give the Draconic perspective of the world it describes, and occasional glimpses of the Yarge viewpoint. Neither side has all the facts; they're distorted, sometimes deliberately, to give the most favourable version of events. The reality of Tiamath is mostly forgotten by the dragons, and little more than a legend for the Yarge.
Historically, the Yarge conquered the dragons and the dragons surrendered unreservedly, converted to the Yarge religion, and were forced to live in Tiamath; a reservation under Yarge domination. This much is more or less common knowledge, unpalatable as it may be. But there was never a rebellion, and all of the Draconic tales and "history" of the struggle for freedom are distorted echoes of the truth. This is why the Yarge Ambassador still opens the Noble Assembly; the Yarge still consider themselves to be ceremonially in charge, approving the opening of the Assembly and the elevation of Eminents and other nobles. They consider themselves to have veto powers, and have never quite realised that dragons now see things differently.
One of the less palatable facts hidden by the legends is that the aristocracy are for the most part descended from collaborators, the "trusties" who could be relied on to keep the rest of the dragons under control, and were given positions of power when the Yarge gave Tiamath its nominal independence. This is likely to come out sooner or later, and may be the spark that leads to rebellion.
Sooner or later, and probably sooner, there will probably be another major Yarge War (as opposed to border skirmishes); a World War of all Yarge vs. all dragons. The most likely trigger would probably be the appointment of a new Majestic without restraints on his powers; the Yarge have tolerated some previous rulers with limited mandates, such as currency reform or the suppression of banditry, others have been assassinated or died before the Yarge took action, but as communications improve and populations rise on both sides any new appointment will be seen as an aggressive act. Meanwhile the dragons are desperately short of lebensraum, and beginning to see a war as the only way to gain the space they need. Tiamath is hemmed in by enemies, but to Draconic eyes they are separate groups of enemies, to be played off against each other and possibly conquered one by one. The fact that there is only one Yarge "Ambassador" is an indication of their error; the Yarge will present a common front if there is war.
By the time of Those Who Favor Fire tensions are rising. In this generation there will be an all-out war, and one that the dragons will not win. Yarge countries that normally hate each other will unite to fight a real threat coming from Tiamath; it's many hundreds of years since they've had to do so, but there are still secret treaties in place, and war plans drawn up to counter any Draconic threat, backed up by a growing military-industrial complex that dwarfs anything the dragons can field.
Think of Germany at the end of the nineteenth century, arming for war, its leaders convinced that victory is inevitable. And remember the ruin that followed.
You don't have to do it that way, of course. Maybe common sense will prevail, or someone will find a formula for a peaceful long term settlement between dragons and the Yarge. Maybe the dragons and Yarge will be forced to unite against some form of external threat. It isn't likely, but for now at least Those Who Favor Fire remains unfinished, and the future is moot.
~ Index ~ Worldbook ~ Rules ~
~ Single-File Version ~ Contents ~