Dragon's in the Spine
A Day in the life.
The city of Millford lies on either side of the Mill River, with great trade links to Toltec and Ferrin Castle to the east and Westgate to the west (shocking) and to the north via the river to Sindel. And from these there are links across the entire island.
This being the case traders and merchants flock to millford daily to visit the large market to buy and sell. Once a year towards the end of the harvest season some of the surrounding fields are repurposed for a huge festival and market. At this point there are people from across the country flock to the area, there are musicians and shows. There are traders from all across the country where you can buy almost everything.
The culmination of the festival is a huge bonfire with delegates from across all of the major religions both good and evil all using this time to pray to the gods to keep the country safe, food plentiful and that their own gods prosper and as such bestow their gifts onto their followers.
No one in living memory remembers why or when all the faiths agreed that this would be an agreed upon holy time so that no faiths normally against each other would cause fights or deaths if they were to meet at any other point throughout the year. If you delve into the history of the area there are references to an ancient ritual to bring balance to the world, and scholars believe that rather than an agreement between the religions this was more of necessity.
In the week leading up the the festival there are teams of people who build the largest bonfire possible. It is believed that the longer the fire burns the shorter and milder the winter will be. Some mages a few years before tried to magically extend the fire to see if they could assist the flames and as such calm the winter storms. However this only seemed to cause the fires to die fast and a horrific storm battered the region for almost a month. Causing devastation for the entire area as such they never attempted it again.
And so our story begins…
Each Character should have a role that they play within the city of Millford. Or at the least a roll at the time of the festival
Basic Plot Hooks
These are designed to be adjusted but are the basic ideas for possible roles. Each player can come up with their own hook but if they cannot use an adjusted version of these:
Acolyte: You are here for the ceremony of renewal, you travelled here with a small number of priests from your hometown. Either as one who will perform the rite or as a guard to keep them safe on the way.
Charlatan: Whether you are new to the area or this has been your home for all your life, you could hardly imagine a better place to ply your trade. There are hundreds of gullible people almost begging to be conned, and twice as many illicit card and dice games which you know if you wanted you could win. Even the normal risk of you getting caught is lessened there are now enough people lining the streets that you can blend in and be never caught.
Criminal: More people are in the area, more people is equal to more money and far more opportunities to cause mayhem. Whether you are a petty criminal who like to pick pockets, or whether you are a political assassin there are so many people to forge partnerships or targets all gathered in one convenient place. Just waiting for you to find them.
Entertainer: Maybe you are an actor, a dancer, a Juggler or an acrobat one of the many stages erected around the city will accommodate your talents. At least for as long as you are entertaining the throngs of crowds that are gathered to watch. Money can be made through tips or maybe you will be spotted by some of the upper classes who want entertainers to show off to their equally upper class friends.
Folk Hero: Having lived on the outskirts for sometime. Often having to keep your head down in case you were spotted by those you stand up to. However with this many people around you can relax a little more enjoy yourself. Maybe you use this time to get more people on your side. Plan for your next attack on the tyrant or monsters that you have fought for a very long time.
Guild Artisan : The perfect time to sell all of your wares. Apart from your day to day small sales this is the culmination of your entire year. If you plan well enough and find a good spot you can walk out of the festival a rich person. However competition is high this year. There are at least another 10-20 people selling similar items to you and half of those people’s stalls are in much better places.
Hermit: You have run into the city with an urgent message. You may hate civilisation but this was far too important for you to sit on the sidelines this time.
Noble : Perhaps you are here for the festivities going on, either going to the main event in one of the fancier areas which have been cordoned off to keep the riff-raff out whilst you sip on some of the finest wine from Windwell Castles vineyards. Or maybe you forgo the main event for some of the lavish parties held by local nobles. You could in fact be one of the nobles of the city and surrounding areas and holding these parties, either way this is the social highlight of the year not only for the common folk but for the upper classes as well.
Outlander: Although you know the way of the wild that doesn’t mean that you aren’t interested in one of the biggest cultural events of the year. Especially as having been in the wild seeing the beauty of it all in the past few months something has been wrong, it feels like everything is out of balance. Knowing that this ritual is supposedly to bring balance you want to see what it is and hopefully to be involved.
Sage: Having pored over ancient scrolls and tomes for an extremely long time you have had seen a lot about the ancient ritual of the harvest festival so you decided to take a step out of your research space and go and see it first hand. This could be your first ever trip out into the field, or you could be a hardened explorer either way this is something that you may have visited before but have never studied in depth and you want to get as up close to the ritual as possible.
Sailor: As a sailor you would have travelled through the port city to the north called sindal, you will have travelled on one of the many narrowboats that travel up the Mill River laden with wares and at this time of year people. You may have travelled from further afield on larger boats however due to the ford spanning the River at the center of the city no large ships can travel any further. Once in the city on one of your trips you were given shore leave so that you can enjoy the festivities.
Soldier: With the influx of people coming to the city the normal city guard cannot handle the influx of people so they have asked for assistance from the soldiers to help. Mostly they are patrolling to make themselves seen, a few cases of small drunken fights breaking out and some chasing down thieves. This is a huge change from the usual drills and harsh training routines so most of the soldiers are using this to relax for a few days.
Urchin: Millford is a city, cities have slums. Slums contain urchins. This is a good time for you there are more and more people who may be kind and give you some spare change or maybe you will find a kind merchant who will give you a temporary job for a week so you have money to buy the food and maybe a roof over your head for a few nights. Perhaps in your wildest dreams you imagine some life changing moment where all the fates line up and you are whisked away from your life on the streets to do great and daring thing. All you know for certain is that you cannot miss the festival.
Just as the sun is setting on the 7th day of the festival the main event is beginning. Bells are ringing all around the city, the stores and inns are being closed in order for everyone to make their way to the field where the ceremony will begin.
You each arrive to see a huge bonfire around 20 foot in diameter and at least 30 foot high. It has been made out of all sorts of things. Some trees have been felled for it, some furniture and a lot of rubbish gathered from the markets in the days leading up to the lighting. As the sun sets and the only lights are now from the many lanterns in the area are allowing those without darkvision to see from the main square a procession begins. Three high ranking members of each of the major religions walk through the town and then through the crowd to encircle the bonfire.
The order of procession is:
(each of the groups to decipher which gods they belong to require a religion check DC 10 for the ones which aligned well with the characters own religion, DC 15 for the ones that are actively against their religion and DC 20 for those which have no correlation between them. They obviously know their own god. If the player can come up with a good reason that they would know more of them I will accept it)
- Olidammara, God of Revelry. CN – Laughing Mask
- Ralishaz, God of ill luck and insanity CN – Three bone fate casting sticks.
- Kord, God of athletics and sports CG – Four spears and four maces radiating out from a center point.
- Tritheron, God of liberty and retribution CG – Triskelion
- Erythnul, God of envy and slaughter CE – Blood drop
- Iuz, God of pain and oppression CE – Grinning human skull
- Tharizdun, God of eternal darkness CE – Dark spiral
- St, Cuthbert, God of common sense and zeal LN – Circle at the center of a starburst of lines
*Wee Jas, Goddess of life and death LN – Red skull in front of a fireball
*Heironeous, God of chivalry and valour LG – Lightning bolt
*Pholtus, God of light and law LG – Silver sun
*Rao, God of peace and reason LG – White heart
*Ulaa, Goddess of the hills and mountains LG – Mountain with a circle at its heart
*Hextor, God of war and discord LE – Six arrows facing downwards in a fan
*Beory, Goddess of nature N – Green disk
*Boccob, God of magic N – Eye within a pentagram
*Celestian, God of stars and wanderers N – Arc of seven stars inside a circle
*Ehlonna, Goddess of woodlands NG – Unicorn horn
*Pelor, God of the sun and healing NG – Sun
*Incabulos, God of plague and famine NE – Reptilian eye with a horizontal diamond
*Nerull, God of death NE – Skull with a sickle
*Vecna, God of evil secrets NE – Hand with an eye in the palm
Each of the groups contain three clerics. One at the front carrying a banner emblazoned with the symbol of the god, followed by a high priest holding a large holy symbol, and then a final cleric carrying a hooded lantern on a pole (think shepards crook).
At the front of the procession are 2 guards dressed in their finest armour and ceremonial gear. Then after the first are two bards. Then the second set of clerics 2 guards then the third followed by two bards and so on till the end.
( GCBCGCBCGCB ect.)
As they reach the bonfire they spread out and form three concentric circles. The innermost circle is the clerics, then just beyond them is the circle of bards and finally between the bards and the crowd are the guards.
Slowly the crowd goes silent, as the bards strike up a slow dirge-like song. The clerics start chanting, each of the clerics that holds the lantern slowly walks forward. As they all reach the center at the same time they reach up, unhook the lantern from the pole that they all carry and as the music pauses they all throw the lanterns onto the bonfire causing it to erupt into flames. When the bards resume the music they start playing a more upbeat song and the chanting starts again with a more hopeful tone to it.
After a few moments alot of people start to fall away from the crowd to go and enjoy the celebrations that are starting across the city.
If the players wish to head off they can.
If they are outside they feel the temperature drop as a low fog drifts out from the mountains. A few people remark as this is not a usual weather for this time of year but nothing worrying about.
Those investigating the fog may spot a large cloud which seems to be travelling fast towards the city.
DC 17+ Realise it isn’t a cloud. It’s a huge white dragon.
If none of the party do something that causes panic random pleb will call out that a dragon is heading straight for the city.
This causes mass panic so people are running back and forward the guards are trying to regain control and telling people to get into the city and hide.
The dragon swoops towards where the ceremony is still taking place and blasts the bonfire with its breath weapon of a cone of ice. Once the freezing clouds have dispersed everyone nearby can see that all the clerics are either dead or close to dying.and there are over 100 other people lying close to the bonfire all in various states of injury. Some of them do not look like they are going to make it through the night. People are running in all directions some towards the injured to try and help, others are fleeing the scene trying to find somewhere to hide. People in the crowd are being pushed back and forth, a few people fall who proceed to get trampled by people who aren’t looking where they are going until they are dragged out by guards.
Some people then turn and realise that the bonfire is out and due to the ice that was sprayed on it won’t be able to be relit.
Slowly the guards usher the the people still milling around the field back to their homes.
The next day just before midday the bells of the town start ringing and guards are wandering the street which are directing people towards the town square (number 17) where there is going to be an announcement. Upon the arrival of the players notice that there is a larger than usual presence of guards and soldiers each carrying longbows knocked but not drawn trained on the sky.
Suddenly a loud noise seems to echo amongst the hundreds of people gathered around drawing all of their attention to the balcony jutting from the second floor of the town hall on one side of the square. Everybody suddenly goes silent waiting to hear from the Mayor, who walks out flanked by four of the major nobles of the area. The Mayor Enerdhir, an elf who spent most of his life a a merchant until he rose in power and won a mayoral position around 15 years ago, steps forward to the edge of the balcony and raises his hands for silence.
“Citizens of Millford, and those who are visiting our beloved city. Last night we all witnessed the devastation that was caused last night at the festival. Never before has this city, nay country has seen such a thing happen in living memory.
I have called you all here to reassure you of what I am doing in order to track down the beast and slay it. I have emissaries of the mages guild who are pooling their knowledge on the best ways to defeat the beast. I have also sent a large force of men out into the mountains to track the beast to its lair so they can make sure that they have destroyed the dragon and any spawn it may have created.
I ask of you that you remain calm and go about your day to day lives I want you to understand and to be reassured that we have everything under control and beyond that I ask you that for the time being stay away from the dragon spine mountains. My office will be letting you all know any updates on what is happening and when it is safe to use the mountain pass again.
If you have any questions please let one ask one of the guards know and if they are unable to answer they are under strict instructions to pass a message onto those who can answer and let you know as quickly as possible.
Once again I ask you do not go hunting for this dragon on your own. The dangers of going against this beast are far too high and we cannot allow any more deaths to happen at the claws of this terrible monster!"
And with that he turns swiftly away and retreats through the door that the came through with the others following him.
Once the doors close behind them the noise in the square suddenly crescendos with people all speaking about what they had heard. The crowd seems to be split with those who are happy with what the lord is doing and believe that this will all be sorted within the week, and those that think that he isn’t doing enough.
All Players must roll perception check to see if they can notice the street urchins trying to slip something into their pockets. (Opposing roll d20+7 (Dex 16( 4 for expertise) Those who notice can decide whether or not they take what they are being given or just stop the kid and they run off into the crowd.
Those who fail or take the flyer see that its an advert offering 2-4-1 drinks at one of the local taverns.
(Number 7) The Tavern is called “The Sage and the Cauldron” who’s innkeeper is called Folco Bairnell who is a middle aged halfling, he used to be an adventurer however after a horrific accident which killed the rest of his party and left him scared all down the left hand side of his body he left the lifestyle in favor of a quiet life in Millford. If the party ask about what he thinks about the situation he believes that no ruler has ever dealt with a situation like this in an effective way. If the party ask about his advertising scheme he laughs and explains that the urchins he hired had been sneaking in for a couple of weeks to steal food or money from his patrons so now he hires them to give out the fliers and makes sure that they are all well fed and if they need help he’s there.
The players sit down at any of the heavy wooden tables or comfortable armchairs surrounding the hearth., and are offered one of two meals either a selection of cured meats and cheeses with a hunk of freshly made bread for 2sp or a portion of roasted rabbit with stewed vegetables for 3sp. There is a selection of ales both local and some from further a field, nothing is fancy here it is the epitome of comfort even though the common room down stairs is packed with people. After a while a small group of bards start playing some old folk songs, the kind that everyone knows the lyrics to, which everyone around the players starts singing along to. (Use Peter Hollens/Hank Green Hobbit drinking medley as reference).
As one of the songs comes to an end the room suddenly lulls into silence all apart from a booming voice echoes “I DON’T CARE WHAT THAT POMPOUS KNIFE-EAR SAID WE SHOULD ALL BE GOING UP TO THOSE MOUNTAINS AND HUNTING DOWN EVERY LAST DRAGON UP THERE”
After a heartbeat where all eyes turn to the well built half orc in the corner with his rotund dwarven drinking partner. The dwarf in a gruff yet sheepish voice “Renamar, calm yourself I know your brother died and you know that I drink for him but we need to think sensibly lets give the lords their time to sort it out. Then if they haven’t done a good enough job we get a load of people together and sort it out ourselves. Does that sound reasonable?”
At this point the other patrons go back to their drinks and start up their conversations again. If the players continue to listen they can hear what is being said.
Renamar sighs, leans over to take the dwarfs hand and gives him a half smile while saying "You always know what to do Dalnir, he was more than my brother he was my closest friend through all the shit that went down with that ogre.
“But no-one could have expected that we would be up against the only ogre that has ever existed in history that has enough brain cells to have the capability to cast spells.”
At this the noise in the bar gets so loud that you can no longer hear anything that is said in the conversation, but shortly after the dwarf goes to the bar to get more drinks for the two of them.
The players can go to the bar and try and find out more information if they wish