While it works best in the plains or foothills, this locale really can go anywhere in the Realms. It could be close to the known home of dragons, such as the Forest of Wyrms or the Lizard Marsh in the Western Heartlands, or the foothills of the Deepwing Mountains in the Vilhon Reach. It could also fit very well into the plains of the Shaar or the Shining Plains. Even far-flung Vaasa could host this unique site. However, secret dangers make this place dangerous for lower-level heroes. This locale is suitable for four 12th-level player characters.
The road winds through the wilderness toward a known local curiosity. Stories in the nearby villages tell of the giant dragon's skeleton and the ruins beneath it, and these same tales hint at dark secrets of magic and brutality associated with the site. Dark rituals to Tiamat are performed there, say some. Others speak of lizardfolk tribes that have lived there and raided the nearby villages in years past. And others speak of a foul half-dragon wizard that resides in the ruins, planning dark deeds against the villages. These stories, and the nature of the site itself, pull a great many people to come and see this wonder of the Realms, and at one time some even stayed to study the bones and the ruins. No one in the last few years has disappeared at the site, or even suffered any harm. Nowadays people see the strange sight and continue on their way; the sages have studied and gone, so the bones are left in peace at night.
Getting to the Skeleton
Anyone in the region can describe how to reach the site, and some even hire themselves out as guides to the gullible. The road reaches a fork; to the left the road goes to the skeleton, and the right leads around it and on toward the next village. Trackers searching at the intersection see a great many tracks going toward the right road, though very few tracks go toward the left fork and the skeleton site.
Taking the left fork, one walks about a mile around some trees and a rock pile, and comes upon a strange sight indeed. The skeleton of a dragon sits in the center of a clear area about 600 feet across.
The Worn Remains
Most of the dragon's bones still arch upright, piercing the air, with the massive head lying on the ground facing the traveler. Many of the features that once marked the face have worn away with time and weather, leaving only empty eye sockets, a long nose, a few teeth, and a pair of curved horns. The neck winds backward to the massive torso, which sits on the ground with the ribs embedded in the earth. The space underneath the torso is over 100 feet across and 150 feet long, which some say makes it the most massive dragon ever to live on Toril. The remains of a tail stretch away across the plain; what remains clearly indicates that the tail was probably 150 feet long as well. Nothing remains of the wings or legs, though shattered bone fragments litter the entire area and have worked into the soil.
Within the torso, one sees the ruins of at least 12 buildings and a main square of some kind. The buildings look to be about 120 years old, and though they appear to be decaying with time, they are in decent shape. Most still have roofs, and the stone walls look to be laced with bones. Excavation would show that at least three towns have been built on this spot, and abandoned, since the great creature fell to the earth. Even the remains of a fortification wall surround the skeletal ribs (very minimal, but one can tell a wall stood there once). The ruins have been picked clean, and they now serve as only a curiosity.
No one knows how long this dragon has been here, or what killed it, or even what kind of dragon it is. Some sages (of a religious bent) theorize that the remains belong to some dead god, while others think that it might have come to this world through a portal and then found itself unable to sustain its life here. No portal to another world exists nearby, so those sages are hard-pressed to fill in the gaps of their theory, but one bright fellow suggested that the portal was destroyed in some magic cataclysm ages ago. The rural folk who have lived nearby for generations don't presume to theorize anything; the creature is dead, so they don't have time for worrying about where it came from. All they care about is that the peace that usually marks the area remains intact, and, until recently, that was its most notable feature -- though the nearby neighbors haven't yet discovered that this has changed. No longer are the ruins the safe curiosity that they once were.
Just a couple of days ago, new occupants arrived at the ruin site. Kaflaa, a half-dragon (deep) half-troglodyte and his band of gifted troglodytes found themselves forced out of their Underdark home a month or so ago, and they have been looking for a new place from which to exact revenge and gain power. The ruins seemed perfect to Kaflaa, who has draconic heritage of his own. He and his minions moved into the lower levels of the ruined buildings, and they have cleared enough room for themselves. They now occupy two former cellars of adjacent buildings in the ruined city; these cellars were built before the current ruins existed, which means they are effectively two levels down. From a cellar dating to the current ruins, a secret trapdoor leads down to their new base. Further, they have dug themselves an escape tunnel that goes westward and emerges in a clump of thick brush about 50 feet away from the skeleton.
Kaflaa and his minions come out only at night, and they spend the nights scouting the nearby territory. Since hardly anyone ventures out at night alone in this rural community, they have learned a lot without being discovered. They know the populations and locations of the surrounding communities, as well as what resources the communities are likely to have. They steal cattle to eat, but have only done so once and the owner has not even noticed that the cow is missing yet (since he has several hundred head and pays little attention to them). If encountered, the troglodytes would likely try to regroup and handle any adversaries together. They especially want Kaflaa, their powerful leader, to be present for any battle.
During the days, one or another of the troglodytes watches the ruins and what visitors do there. So far no one has approached where they are hiding, and the band is ready to dispatch anyone who does. Troglodyte stench would be an obvious giveaway even if no troglodytes are seen. They attack if they feel they will be discovered. In this case, they come at intruders from the cellar and from the secret escape tunnel, hoping to pin them down.
Kaflaa plans to remain in hiding for another month and build his supplies, and then begin to strike at caravans and farmers to spread terror. Eventually he plans to assume control of the region and attract more of his race to his banner. If his plans succeed, he will lead his army against the hated duergar and drow that drove him from the Underdark.
Kaflaa: Male half-deep-dragon/half-troglodyte ranger 5/blackguard 3; CR 11; Medium dragon (reptilian); HD 5d10+15 plus 5d8+15; hp 54; Init -1; Spd 30 ft.; AC 25, touch 9, flat-footed 25; Base Atk +9; Grp +14; Atk +14 melee (1d4+5, claw) or +16 melee (1d8+6/19-20, +1 longsword) or +9 ranged (1d8+4/x3, masterwork composite longbow [+4 Str bonus]); Full Atk +14 melee (1d4+5, 2 claws) and +12 melee (1d6+2, bite) or +14/+9 melee (1d8+6/19-20, +1 longsword) and +13 melee (1d63/19-20, +1 short sword) or +9/+4 ranged (1d8+4/x3, masterwork composite longbow [+4 Str bonus]); SA breath weapon (30-ft. cone of flesh-corrosive gas), command undead 3/day, poison use, smite good 1/day, stench; SQ aura of despair, aura of evil, dark blessing, darkvision 90 ft., detect good, favored enemy elves +4, favored enemy dwarves +2, immunities (charm, paralysis, sleep), low-light vision, wild empathy +5; AL CE; SV Fort +14, Ref +5, Will +4; Str 20, Dex 9, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 10.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +3, Concentration +6, Hide +10, Intimidate +3, Jump +8, Knowledge (arcana) +2, Knowledge (dungeoneering) +1, Knowledge (religion) +2, Listen +8, Move Silently +9, Spot +7, Survival +7, Tumble -1, Cleave, Endurance[B], Improved Sunder, Multiattack[B], Power Attack, Track[B], Two-Weapon Fighting[B], Weapon Focus (longsword).
Breath Weapon (Su): Cone of flesh-corrosive gas (acid) 30 feet long and wide, 6d8 points of damage, Fortitude save DC 14 for half damage.
Command Undead (Su): Three times per day, Kaflaa can command or rebuke undead, forcing them to obey or cower from the channeled power of his deity. He turns undead as a 1st-level cleric would.
Poison Use: Kaflaa is skilled in the use of poison and never risks accidentally poisoning himself when applying poison to a weapon.
Smite Good (Su): Once times per day, Kaflaa may attempt to smite good with one normal melee attack. He adds a +1 on his attack roll and deals an extra 3 points of damage.
Stench (Ex): When Kaflaa is angry or frightened, he secretes an oily, musklike chemical that nearly every form of animal life finds offensive. All living creatures (except troglodytes) within 30 feet of Kaflaa must succeed on a DC 14 Fortitude save or be sickened for 10 rounds. Creatures that successfully save cannot be affected by Kaflaa's stench for 24 hours. A delay poison or neutralize poison spell removes the effect from the sickened creature. Creatures with immunity to poison are unaffected, and creatures resistant to poison receive their normal bonuses on saving throws.
Aura of Despair (Su): Kaflaa radiates a malign aura that causes enemies within 10 feet of him to take a -2 penalty on all saving throws.
Aura of Evil (Ex): The power of Kaflaa's aura of evil (see the detect evil spell) is equal to 3.
Dark Blessing: Kaflaa applies his Charisma bonus on all saving throws. (This modifier is already figured into the statistics given above.)
Detect Good (Sp): Kaflaa can use detect good at will, as the spell.
Favored Enemy: Kaflaa gains a +4 bonus on his Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks when using these skills against elves. He gains the same bonus on weapon damage.
Against dwarves, he gains a +2 bonus on these skill checks and on weapon damage rolls.
Blackguard Spells Prepared (caster level 3rd): 1st -- cause fear, inflict light wounds.
Ranger Spells Prepared (caster level 2nd): 1st -- entangle.
Possessions: +2 chain shirt of silent moves, +1 longsword, +1 short sword, masterwork composite longbow (+4 Str bonus) with 40 arrows, cloak of resistance +1, brooch of shielding.
Kaflaa's appearance matches his troglodyte blood, with the exception of the black shiny scales covering his skin. He is arrogant and proud, and not that smart, but he does possess cunning. He also looks to the long-term. He speaks Draconic and Undercommon only.
Troglodyte Rangers (2): Male troglodyte ranger 7; CR 9; Medium humanoid (reptilian); HD 9d8+18; hp 58; Init -1; Spd 30 ft.; AC 21, touch 9, flat-footed 21; Base Atk +8; Grp +9; Atk +9 melee (1d4+1, claw) or +11 melee (1d8+2/19-20, +1 longsword) or +8 ranged (1d6/x3, masterwork shortbow); Full Atk +9 melee (1d4+1, 2 claws) and +7 melee (1d4, bite) or +9/+4 melee (1d8+2/19-20, +1 longsword) and +8/+3 melee (1d6+1/19-20, masterwork short sword) or +8/+3 ranged (1d6/x3, masterwork shortbow); SA stench; SQ animal companion (viper; link, share spell), animal companion benefits, darkvision 90 ft., favored enemy humans +4, favored enemy elves +2, wild empathy +7, woodland stride; AL CE; SV Fort +10, Ref +4, Will +4; Str 12, Dex 9, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 14, Cha 10.
Skills and Feats: Hide +11, Listen +10, Move Silently +8, Spot +10, Survival +12; Endurance[B], Improved Two-Weapon Fighting[B], Multiattack[B], Point Blank Shot, Precise Shot, Track[B], Two-Weapon Defense, Two-Weapon Fighting[B], Weapon Focus (longsword).
Stench (Ex): When a troglodyte ranger is angry or frightened, he secretes an oily, musklike chemical that nearly every form of animal life finds offensive. All living creatures (except troglodytes) within 30 feet of him must succeed on a DC 14 Fortitude save or be sickened for 10 rounds. Creatures that successfully save cannot be affected by the troglodyte ranger's stench for 24 hours. A delay poison or neutralize poison spell removes the effect from the sickened creature. Creatures with immunity to poison are unaffected, and creatures resistant to poison receive their normal bonuses on saving throws.
Animal Companion: Each ranger has a Medium viper as an animal companion. Its statistics are as given below.
Animal Companion Benefits: Each ranger gains the following benefits from his companion.
Link (Ex): The ranger can handle the viper as a free action or push it as a move action. He gains a +4 bonus on all wild empathy checks and Handle Animal checks regarding the viper.
Share Spells (Ex): The ranger may have any spell he casts upon himself also affect the viper if desired. The viper must be within 5 feet of him at the time of casting to receive this benefit. If the spell has a duration other than instantaneous, it stops affecting the viper if he moves more than 5 feet away and does not affect him again even if he returns before the duration expires. The ranger may also cast a spell with a target of "You" on the viper (as a touch range spell) instead of on himself. The two can even share spells that do not normally affect creatures of the animal type.
Favored Enemy (Ex): Each ranger gains a +4 bonus on his Bluff, Listen, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival checks when using these skills against humans. He gains the same bonus on weapon damage.
Against elves, he gains a +2 bonus on these skill checks and on weapon damage rolls.
Woodland Stride: Each troglodyte ranger may move through natural thorns, briars, overgrown areas, and similar terrain at their normal speed without suffering damage or other impairment. However, thorns, briars, and overgrown areas that are enchanted or magically manipulated to impede motion still affect them.
Ranger Spells Prepared (caster level 3rd): 1st -- magic fang, resist energy.
Possessions: +2 chain shirt of silent moves, +1 longsword, masterwork short sword, masterwork shortbow with 40 arrows, 2 potions of cure moderate wounds, potion of bull's strength.
Troglodyte Wizard: Female troglodyte wizard 7; CR 9; Medium humanoid (reptilian); HD 2d8+4 plus 7d4+14; hp 44; Init -1; Spd 30 ft.; AC 15, touch 9, flat-footed 15; Base Atk +4; Grp +4; Atk +4 melee (1d4, claw); Full Atk +4 melee (1d4, 2 claws) and +2 melee (1d4, bite); SA stench; SQ darkvision 90 ft.; AL CE; SV Fort +9, Ref +3, Will +7; Str 10, Dex 9, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 10.
Skills and Feats: Concentration +13, Hide +8, Knowledge (arcana) +10, Knowledge (the planes) +9, Listen +1, Spellcraft +12, Spot +1; Empower Spell[B], Eschew Materials, Multiattack[B], Scribe Scroll[B], Signature Spell (scorching ray), Spell Mastery (scorching ray), Spellcasting Prodigy.
Stench (Ex): When the troglodyte wizard is angry or frightened, she secretes an oily, musklike chemical that nearly every form of animal life finds offensive. All living creatures (except troglodytes) within 30 feet of the wizard must succeed on a DC 13 Fortitude save or be sickened for 10 rounds. Creatures that successfully save cannot be affected by the wizard's stench for 24 hours. A delay poison or neutralize poison spell removes the effect from the sickened creature. Creatures with immunity to poison are unaffected, and creatures resistant to poison receive their normal bonuses on saving throws.
Wizard Spells Prepared (caster level 7th): 0 -- detect magic, mage hand, ray of frost (+3 ranged touch), touch of fatigue (+3 melee touch, DC 14); 1st -- mage armor, magic missile (2), ray of enfeeblement (+3 ranged touch), shield; 2nd -- invisibility, scorching ray (+3 ranged touch), touch of idiocy (+3 melee touch), web (DC 16); 3rd -- fireball, fly, haste; 4th -- fear.
Spellbook: as above, plus 0 -- acid splash, arcane mark, dancing lights, daze, detect poison, disrupt undead, flare, ghost sound, guidance, light, mending, message, open/close, prestidigitation, read magic, resistance; 1st -- cause fear, charm person, feather fall, identify, sleep; 2nd -- bull's strength, ghoul touch, knock, see invisibility; 3rd -- dispel magic, hold person, suggestion; 4th -- contagion, greater invisibility.
Possessions: Cloak of resistance +2, headband of intellect +2, wand of magic missiles (5th-level caster, 50 charges).
Troglodyte Cleric: Female troglodyte cleric 7 of Laogzed; CR 9; Medium humanoid (reptilian); HD 9d8+18; hp 58; Init +3; Spd 30 ft.; AC 21, touch 9, flat-footed 21; Base Atk +6; Grp +6; Atk +6 melee (1d4, claw); Full Atk +6 melee (1d4, 2 claws) and +4 melee (1d4, bite); SA rebuke undead 3/day (+0, 2d6+7, 7th), stench; SQ darkvision 90 ft.; AL CE; SV Fort +10, Ref +1, Will +8; Str 10, Dex 9, Con 14, Int 8, Wis 16, Cha 10.
Skills and Feats: Concentration +6, Hide +2, Knowledge (arcana) +1, Knowledge (religion) +1, Listen +4, Move Silently +3, Spellcraft +0; Eschew Materials, Improved Initiative, Multiattack[B], Silent Spell, Spellcasting Prodigy.
Stench (Ex): When the cleric is angry or frightened, she secretes an oily, musklike chemical that nearly every form of animal life finds offensive. All living creatures (except troglodytes) within 30 feet of her must succeed on a DC 13 Fortitude save or be sickened for 10 rounds. Creatures that successfully save cannot be affected by the cleric's stench for 24 hours. A delay poison or neutralize poison spell removes the effect from the sickened creature. Creatures with immunity to poison are unaffected, and creatures resistant to poison receive their normal bonuses on saving throws.
Cleric Spells Prepared (caster level 7th): 0 -- create water, cure minor wounds (2), detect magic, guidance, resistance; 1st -- bane (DC 14), bless, cure light wounds (2), inflict light wounds[D] (DC 14), shield of faith; 2nd -- bear's endurance, bull's strength (2), hold person (DC 15), silence (DC 15); 3rd -- bestow curse, contagion[D] (DC 16), cure serious wounds, dispel magic; 4th -- cure critical wounds, inflict critical wounds[D] (DC 17).
[D]Domain spell. Deity: Laogzed. Domains: Death (death touch 1/day, damage 7d6); Destruction (smite 1/day, +4 on attack, +7 damage).
Possessions: +2 chain shirt of silent moves, wand of cure moderate wounds (50 charges).
Game Resources: To use the material in this article to its fullest, check out the following resources: Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, Player's Handbook, Monster Manual, Dungeon Master's Guide, Player's Guide to Faerūn.
About the Author
Robert Wiese is a veteran of the RPGA offices, where he worked for seven years and has been a member since early 1991. In that time he has written over 60 adventure scenarios for the club, a couple of articles for Polyhedron, and the Living Force Campaign Guide (the last one with Morrie Mullins). He also got the Living Greyhawk and Living Force campaigns off the ground and into the hands of wonderful members to develop. Now he works at the University of Nevada at Reno in the Biochemistry Department, proving that you never can tell where you'll end up.
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