Following a recap of our current situation (the dragons have parted ways with Samsmelt, none too amicably, and are now heading for the Rift near Dragonville, where they believe the Chalice of Angels must be.
We have rewritten the Seer’s vision move so that, on a 10+, Kiddo tells the DM about her vision, and I get to ask 3 questions about it. She rolls and 11 and describes a forest (“Not the Forest of Men– one we don’t know”) with a bunch of baby dragons, who all breathe blue flames instead of regular orange ones. Mom presses her to explain how they are tied to the Darkness, but I insist that isn’t required– the visions are always tied to the Darkness, and sometimes the Seer doesn’t know how. Regardless, Kiddo claims that “it’s dark out, but there’s a full moon.” (This entire group of dragons is based on a children’s toy that Kiddo recently acquired.)
- Why are they awake? Because they’re nocturnal! (Yes, the 8 year old said nocturnal…. this kid knows her vocabulary!)
- Which House are they from? They aren’t from a dragon House.
- (Trying to push the narrative in a particular direction) Why is there the skeleton of a dragon nearby? There isn’t! I nod and accept this– I’ve offered a plot device, but it’s been rejected. Kiddo has narrative control right now.
I also make a couple of physical notes, based on the toy: they are deceptively cute, and their eyes can pop outwards.
The dragons are about to explore the Rift when Samera pulls them up short to talk about the vision she’s had. She doesn’t know if it’s a pressing danger or not. She tells Trogdor and Lydia about the vision.
Trogdor thinks about this, and decides that he’s read about the Feral Dragons of Forestonia in his books. They’re known for their blue flames, and are creatures of deep dark evil, who study petrification magic!
“Wait– were there any skeletons nearby?”
“Huh. Well, that’s not good….” He trails off, leaving it to everyone’s imagination what could possibly be going on when “no skeletons” is a bad thing.
Dad winks at me and Mom over the table. Dad is also a GM. Mom rolls her eyes and mutters that we shouldn’t have two GMs at the table– it’s hazardous to the health of our characters.
Meanwhile, back at the Rift, the dragons make a plan for entering the Rift to find the Chalice. Trogdor decides to cast a storm spell to empty the sea around the Rift of the water so they can go in without drowning. He rolls a 7 and loses control of the spell, but it is extremely powerful.
The vortex that is created is enormous and clears the Rift, but does so by lifting a wall of wind and water in a tremendous whirpool/hurricane over the Rift. The dragons attempt to fly into it– Lydia makes it through to the calm eye of the storm, but Samera is thrown out of the storm and against the nearby cliffs of Dragonville (6 on “act despite danger”). Trogdor careens out of the storm to find Samera, but he’s lost his glasses and almost doesn’t see the rocks ahead. Kiddo narrates throwing him her reading glasses, but those plop into the water, and Trogdor crashes into the rock, taking 1 Harm!
I have “taken the gloves off” in this session, and am ratcheting up some of the difficult choices.
I put the spotlight on Trogdor and Samera for a bit, while the two of them plan how to get back to the Rift while racing Samsmelt to the Chalice. They decide that Trogdor will stand by and distract Samsmelt if or when he comes by. I mean, he’s bound to come by, right? There’s a huge storm half a mile off the coast, here. Anyone not investigating is just not paying attention.
Spoiler: Samsmelt is not going to come.
We cut back to Lydia, who has arrived in the Rift. It’s dark, so she puffs out a flame to quickly see around her. A dozen pairs of eyes stare back, and there are a dozen answering puffs of blue flame in the darkness– ferals!
Lydia immediately uses Stone Moon magic to protect herself from petrification! She doesn’t have strong control over the magic, though, so her scales now ripple with blue flames! The flames give off light, though, and the feral dragons, who are also quite small, oooh and ahhh at her. They do not speak normal Draconic, though, and so she uses Spirit magic to grow an extra voice box so she can speak their tongue.
What she hears from them is strange and disturbing. They hail her as their Queen, and welcome her to their lair. She asks about the chalice. “What’s a chalice?” She talks to them about dragons. “What’s a dragon?”
These ferals have been isolated for a long, long time. They do not even know what they are. If they are tied to the Darkness, it is in the form of ignorance. Lydia heads further into the Rift, a dozen feral dragons following her.
Back at Dragonville, Samera takes her leave from Trogdor and dives into the vortex. She lands in the Rift and is met by a small group of ferals. She leaps up and slams down on one, piercing it with her horn and knocking it out cold. The other two are frightened and impressed. One slashes her with its tail, a brand that represents a debt she owes it (although the players aren’t aware of it, that one is among the eldest of the ferals, and the brand is a form of wergild for attacking his friend.) Samera does similar Spirit magic, and ends up with poor control over the language.
I use this opportunity to invite Kiddo to add a role-playing flourish to her game. “You have poor control over this language. So something about it makes it hard for you to pronounce. Think of an accent or way of speaking that works, ok?”
She nods and decides that, in Feral, she stutters. As a former stutterer, I’m a little taken aback by this, but she’s doing it well and without mocking.
She speaks haltingly with the ferals and comes to terms with them, eventually using song to soothe their ruffled scales. Side note: Kiddo has a wonderful voice.
Samera heads into the Rift, two ferals in tow.
We cut over to Trogdor, who has been lounging, with a teacup in claw, waiting for Samsmelt to show up. He now spots a pile of dug-up rock some ways off, and dashes out his tea to investigate. There, he finds a hole, dug into the earth. Samsmelt has apparently been hard at work, digging to find the Chalice. Trogdor chuckles to himself, and follows the dragon hole.
He follows this burrowed tunnel deep and down until he comes to what appears to be a softly caved-in section. He digs further.
Lydia, meanwhile, has been led into cavern containing a large hoard of treasure! An enormous pile of gold, larger than herself, sits in the middle of the room! Lydia glances around, looking for the Chalice. “Okay, where’s the Chalice?” she asks, but of course these ferals don’t even know what a chalice is!
Samera arrives shortly after, singing.
Trogdor breaks through the ceiling, but is not spotted by the ferals or his friends. From his birds-eye view, he sees the pile of gold, Lydia (wreathed in blue fire!), Samera, a heap of blue flame-spouting feral dragons…. and on the opposite side of the hoard from Lydia and Samera, just below where he’s peering out through the ceiling… a “statue” of Samsmelt.
Trogdor quietly drops down next to Samsmelt, identifying him as such. He spots a wooden case with the insignia of the chalice on it, and grabs it. He steps out to face his companions, and there’s a nerve-wracking show-down as Trogdor confronts Lydia and Samera about trucking about with ferals– who are known to be associated with the Darkness!
“They’re just misunderstood,” Lydia and Samera insist.
Meanwhile, the ferals are at full attention, their eyes bugging all the way out, because “he unstoned himself!” They have mistaken Trogdor for Samsmelt, who they thought was safely “stoned” behind the hoard.
Sorry! Bad GM! I forgot to mention that Trogdor used Spirit magic to make himself telepathic in this scene! He still can’t speak Feral, but he can telepathically talk to Lydia and Samera!
The party squabbles about this for a while, and eventually, Lydia convinces the ferals not to “stone” anyone.
Trogdor opens the case and discovers that the chalice is gone! In its place is a map to a chain of islands not previously known to Dragonia! Perhaps the ferals are from there?
Samera is the only one in the party who still has the type of Moon magic required to un-petrify someone, so she uses it on Samsmelt. Unfortunately, her spells go awry and she is half petrified herself, moving slowly as her wings and body become more rigid.
Lydia makes a vow to help the ferals be reunited with their forest-dwelling clan, and is imbued with an unerring sense of direction towards the forest-dwelling ferals.
Eventually, the dragons dig their way back out, but a cave-in happens just as they escape, trapping three of the ferals behind! Their piteous cries of “Our queen! Save yourself!” will haunt Lydia forever, but there is hope that perhaps they made it out through the Rift instead.
The four dragons and 11 ferals fly off, to find the forest ferals. We are nowhere close to solving the mystery of the petrified ancient dragon in the sea.
Mom and Dad, you can stop reading NOW! Below this are spoiler notes!
My notes at this point:
The ferals are the undeveloped offspring of the ancient dragon. They represent a House that was lost when the dragon was turned to stone. Without the Naming Ritual done in childhood, and then the Coming of Age ritual done at adulthood (a ritual our dragons have not undergone yet), they never fully mature or develop. The blue flame is part of the curse they carry from being descended from the petrified dragon. If the petrified dragon is never turned back, they will simply continue to be stunted little deformed wyrmlings, eventually overrunning whatever eco-system they become part of.
Meanwhile, if you recall, the ancient dragon is actually a Front of Darkness, so the feral dragons will continue to be corrupted by the Darkness that is the source of their lineage, at least until the party somehow neutralizes the threat of that ancient dragon.
The ferals embody willful ignorance and a disregard for the safety of others.
We have considered the merits of, instead of visiting Goblotonia for Goblin Quest, making a Dragon Quest hack where one plays a series of feral, stone-shaping dragons who die easily and have little regard for anything serious.