Excerpts Archive | 10/26/2009
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Excerpts: Draconomicon: Metallic Dragons: Draconic Organizations

In today's Draconomicon: Metallic Dragons preview, we present a new draconic organization -- the Guardians of the Gate, who seek out portals to other planes of existence.

Draconic Organizations

Some metallic dragons are social creatures. Some enjoy lording over "lesser beings," or at least believe they have the right and responsibility to do so. Some are determined to teach the humanoid races to fend for themselves. And some just need allies or servants that can reach places they cannot. Whatever the case, metallic dragons are far more likely than their chromatic counterparts to found, take over, or at least participate in humanoid organizations and factions. For the dragon, this offers a degree of influence and a pool of potential agents that it might not otherwise have. For the players, it offers the opportunity for their characters to interact, knowingly or unknowingly, with one of these great, potentially campaign-altering creatures.

The following examples can be used as is, or can serve as models for creating your own organizations.

The Guardians of the Gates

Goal: A diverse group called the Guardians of the Gates seeks out portals to other planes of existence. In truth, its leader Irthossalur wants to control the portals that access Sigil, the City of Doors (see Chapter 6 of Dungeon Master’s Guide 2 or page 25 of Manual of the Planes). This steel dragon believes she is the first line of defense for the city, and she wants to uphold the balance of power the Lady of Pain (see page 190 of Dungeon Master’s Guide 2) has established.

Stated Goal: The Guardians are dedicated to watching over the portals that bridge the planes. In Sigil, the nature of the Guardians’ work is more widely known. The Guardians allow natives of Sigil to pass through portals freely, since the society has no with to anger the Lady of Pain.

Size: Moderate, with most members clustered in small groups at portal sites rather than gathered in one central location. Even the main headquarters has no more than two dozen members.

Alignment: Unaligned.

Philosophy: "The world should look after the world, just as the Feywild should care for the Feywild and the Shadowfell should keep to the Shadowfell. When the grasp of evil extends between the planes, all planes are put in danger."

History: The Guardians of the Gates formed shortly after the god Vecna managed what no deity had ever done: He entered the City of Doors. Though Vecna was eventually thrown out of Sigil, the steel dragon Virtraxentyr started the Guardians of the Gates to protect the City of Doors. At first, he and his draconic children protected only gates into Sigil, but he quickly realized how economically powerful a mapped network of dimensional portals would be.

The society quietly constructed sites that would disguise the presence of portals, sites that also became lairs for Virtraxentyr’s siblings and hatchlings. As the network grew, Virtraxentyr and his kin brought in more and more assistance by reaching out to humans, elves, and dragonborn.

Leadership: A protective steel dragon named Irthossalur is the current leader of the Guardians of the Gates. She spends most of her time disguised as a human known as Suzandra. The network of portals created over centuries of work has allowed Irthossalur to amass a great fortune in both material goods and interplanar knowledge. A council of twenty advisors, scattered across the planes, meets once a year to discuss business. Most of these advisors are Watchers, individuals who oversee specific portal sites.

Headquarters: Two buildings linked by a planar portal make up the Guardians’ headquarters. A small building in Sigil connects to a similar structure in the world, nestled within the quiet village of Hornburg. In Sigil, the Guardians of the Gates use a front organization called the Planar Explorer Society, whose headquarters is within the Clerk’s Ward. These two buildings also serve as Irthossalur’s lair, since she loves the cosmopolitan nature of Sigil as well as the quiet and reserved inhabitants of Hornburg.

Membership Requirements: Characters must prove themselves to a Watcher. When one of the Guardians’ permanent sites comes under attack by extraplanar foes, those who fend off the threat might be offered membership.

Structure: Around each portal the Guardians find, they set up a permanent enclave to guard and watch it. The Watchers who oversee these locations have a great deal of autonomy.

Activities: Most society members are explorers, spies, and scouts who secretly scour the world seeking functioning gates to other planes. Once a gate is discovered, the society establishes an appropriate cover operation to guard the location, such as an inn or a guard tower. Many of these sites also include teleportation circles, but the keys to operating these portals are kept secret. Teleportation circles that might have been compromised are destroyed. Portal seeking is a dangerous lifestyle, and those who undertake the challenge are richly rewarded by the Guardians.

Enemies: Any group or entity that plans an invasion between planes has reason to hate the Guardians. Fortunately for the Guardians, none of their enemies has devoted its full resources to dismantling the organization.

Rivals: Many powers within Sigil, and a smaller number in the world, oppose the restrictions the Guardians impose. Though natives of Sigil can pass freely, many travelers oppose the Guardians on principle, believing others should have the same right.

Guardians of the Gates Lore

History DC 13: Guardians of the Gates members scour the world for portals to other planes and protect those portals against incursions. Since the presence of a portal could incite panic in a quiet village, the society works in secret.

History DC 20: The society is spread throughout the planes, maintaining a vigilant watch over planar traffic. When the Guardians find an active portal, they set up a permanent site to guard it. Each site has an established leader, known as a Watcher. Each Watcher is in charge of a small team that works to ensure that the local communities are not affected by the presence of the portal. Members of any race can belong to the society, but individuals are assigned to locations where they will blend in with the local communities. It is believed their main headquarters is located within Sigil, the City of Doors.

Adventure Hooks

Once the characters are ready for travel between the planes, they can partner with the Guardians.

  • The characters come across a ruined tower invaded by a shadar-kai cult that has slipped into the world from the Shadowfell. If the heroes successfully fight off the invaders, the Guardians become patrons to the characters and provide further chances for adventures. The characters are tasked with tracking down additional portals to Sigil in unexplored lands. As the characters rise in power, they might be awarded an audience with Suzandra and be given more complex missions, such as destroying an archon stronghold that blocks traffic to the City of Brass or liberating a temple on a remote island in the Astral Sea that has been captured by devils.

  • A Watcher decides that the characters shouldn’t be allowed access to the gate hidden deep within an abandoned mine. This Watcher is a relative of Irthossalur and might fight the characters if they press the issue. If the characters cause the death of this relative, Irthossalur uses all her power to track down the murderers of her kin.

Excerpt Schedule

Monday Friday

October 19

Lore: Origins, Good vs. Evil

October 23

DM's Guide to Dragons: Subdual Encounters

October 26

Draconic Organizations: The Guardians of the Gates

October 30

Dragon Lairs: Tulkau Shayn

November 2

New Monsters: Orium Dragons

November 6

Other Creatures: Draconians

November 9

Hall of Fame: Jalanvaloss

November 13

Alternate Powers

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