Monday, April 10, 2023

For Love Of A Black Dragon - Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure Monster OSR Ecology

 Hoping that everyone had a fantastic Easter holiday & last week a copy of Troll Lords Monsters & Treasure made it's way to my doorstep. And over the holiday weekend I began to look into Castle & Crusade Dragons. Yes I should be reading more Dark Sun but let's put that on hold for a moment. Instead I dived into Monsters & Treasures Dragons. 

Dragons are one of the main antagonists that we've used in our games. One has to be careful to really dive down into the nature of thier dragons. Because dragons are not simply another monster to be encountered in a dungeon. 
Instead we treat our dragons as indivdual NPC's extremely long lived & highly dangerous NPC's that can easily TPK an entire adventuring party. Dragons are the center point for an adventure or a campaign. They are the economic driver and pivot point for an area. 
They can even be the source of royalty for an area. With the recent debacle over at Wizblows about 'half elve's' it has me thinking about our dragons within our campaigns. 
For my money the black dragon is one of my favorite of the Chromatic dragons. An evil and dangerous swamp dweller able to manipulate and move through the circles of the underworld. Black Dragons in our games are behind some of the 'thieves guilds' and other criminal organizations. And this goes back into events that we've done in our Adventurer,Conqueror, King rpg campaigns The underworld of criminality is a awash with the scum & stench of the underworld so black dragons feel right at home. 

Artwork used without permission from 
LadyofHats - Own work

So what makes the black dragon such an attractive villain? They survive where nothing else can in foulness & they have an incredibly vicious nature. They are almost always a part of a familial unit as well. So they actually do fit the mafia stereotype very we have in popculture. And this is coming from a person of Italian descent. 
Blackdragons can use polymorph spells or abilities to start families within the local populations and further wrap thier claws deeper  around the criminal underworld. Black dragons should be a major NPC force within a campaign. They could deal with players a patrons, vile villains, and even possibly as mentors. 
Black Dragons loss in a region or swamp could create a major power vaccuum allowing all kinds of evil to try and move into a campaign area. The black dragon remains an old favorite because of the fact that they could easily become a problem for anyone wanting to use a 'reptile or serpent' cult within an area. They could be the head of or a major player in a serpent men cult in campaign. 
And this ties into N1 Against the Reptile Cult By Douglas Niles. When we had used this gambit the module's villain was one of  our Black Dragon's operatives who had gone rogue. The party soon found itself up to thier necks in the machinations of the 'O Serpente' family of  royals who were the land owners of the town. This turned a rather bland town search into a out & out investigative romp. 
Black Dragons are beyond a challening enemy and highly dangerous. They should only be used for experienced parties of old school gamers and hobbyist. 

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