Posts Tagged ‘dragons’


In the last two weeks, I showed off some new undead (skeletal dragons and husks), to help fill the undead Challenge Rating gaps in the fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons Monster Manual for my world of Enora. Today I’m continuing the parade of new undead with vampire dragons!

Vampiric Dragon

Vampiric dragons are the unfathomable result of dragons undergoing transitions to become potent, blood-sucking undead. Of the few such terrors that exist, most underwent the transition willingly. There are many reasons for a dragon to become a vampire, fear of death and increased power chief among them.

Vampiric Qualities. Like humanoid vampires, vampiric dragons do not cast shadows or reflections and have a thirst for blood. In their normal state, they are generally undistinguishable from their dragon counterparts who are not undead. Unlike normal vampires, vampiric dragons do not need to be invited to enter a residence and have nothing to fear from running water.

Feed and Slumber. When vampiric dragons feed, they can ravage miles of countryside or an entire city in a single night. Their thirst for blood is nigh insatiable, and a vampiric dragon can devastate an entire province before it slumbers, creating armies of vampire spawn to guard its lair.

Relief comes when the dragon decides to rest. Finally satiated, the beast enters a long slumber of one-hundred years before it wakes to feed again.

Undead Nature. Vampiric dragons do not require air. Since they have nothing to fear from running water and no need to breathe, many make their lairs deep in bodies of water.

Want the Template and as Sample Vampiric Dragon?

Here you go. I put them into a nice little PDF for you:

Vampiric Dragons

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The time has come! For the past month on this site I’ve been building a dungeon crawl in my homebrew campaign world of Exploration Age post by post. Well now I’ve revised, tweaked, and added to that adventure, Prison for Dragons, and put it all together in a nice, downloadable, FREE PDF. You can grab it in the link below or you can head on over to the Free Game Resources section of the site where it will live forever alongside plenty of other resources for your game like monstersD&D fifth edition rules modules, backgroundsspells, magic items, and more.

Prison for Dragons

Prison for Dragons is a fifth edition adventure for four to six level 12 PCs.

But wait! There’s more. I’ve got more links below of the individual dungeon maps, both with and without grids, for you to use however you like. Personally, I’ll be bringing them right into Roll20 as I play through with my group.

All these maps were made using Pyromancers‘ Dungeon Painter tool. I love it! So fast, easy, web-based and free!

Shuzal 1 Grid 57x66 Shuzal 1 No Grid 57x66

Shuzal 2 Grid 131x63 Shuzal 2 No Grid 131x63

Shuzal 3 Grid 100x100 Shuzal 3 No Grid 100x100

Shuzal 4 Grid 102x100 Shuzal 4 No Grid 102x100

Thanks to everyone who checked out the Prison for Dragons blog series and commented here, social media, and various other forums with great constructive criticism. Most importantly, a huge thanks to Nils Jeppe of Enderra for inspiring this series and adventure with last month’s RPG Blog Carnival theme of “Unusual Dungeons.”

If you play through the adventure (or just read it) let me know how it goes!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

It’s time for part seven of the prison for dragons series! If you’ve been following these posts than you know that the dungeon I’m building in each entry is inspired by last month’s RPG Blog Carnival theme, “Unusual Dungeons,” which was chosen by Nils Jeppe of Enderra.

The dungeon I’m creating is a prison made to hold dragons built by aberrations. Here’s all the blog posts I’ve written about the subject so far.

  • Part I – A general overview of dragon prisons
  • Part II – The historical background and character hooks of a specific dragon prison, Shuzal
  • Part III – A description of the area surrounding Shuzal and a table of random encounters
  • Part IV – The surface level of Shuzal’s ruined entrance citadel
  • Part V – The lower level of Shuzal’s ruined entrance citadel
  • Part VI – The upper level of Shuzal prison

So now it’s time to tackle Part VII – The lower level of Shuzal.

In this post I’ll be showing off the final level of Shuzal. The lower levels of the prison hold undead and insane dragons digging their way out of prison, hoping to wreak havoc on the outside world.

Shuzal Prison Upper Level

Shuzal LL Map

Made with Pyromancers Dungeon Painter

Shuzal’s cell block holds a group of metallic dragons trying to escape from the prison. Kerrinalastraya, the silver dragon dracolich, leads the escape thanks to a huge drill she forged from magic weapons found in the prison’s vault. The magic which turned Kerrinalastraya into a dracolich has warped her mind and she cannot stand living things. She believes undeath is the next evolution of all intelligent beings.

Maxathaltros, Kerrinalastraya’s brother and one Shuzal’s prisoners, is still alive and abhors what his sister has become. She keeps him locked in his cell, hoping he will come around once her increased power allows them to escape Shuzal. She still loves her brother and wants him to join her in dracolichdom.

When Kerrinalastraya transformed as a side effect of Sepora’s tampering with the magic of Shuzal, she went to every cell in the prison and gave the dragons a choice – swear allegiance to her, gain freedom, and join her in dracolichdom once freed, or refuse and be killed and brought back as a zombie. Many joined her, but others refused and she has made good on her promises. Now the prison creeps with undead and insane dragons, desiring freedom above all, carrying Kerrinalastraya’s hatred for the living in their hearts.

Features of the Area

Illumination. The walls of Shuzal’s lower level gives off a soft blue glow which bathes the entire lower level in bright light.

Ceilings. Perfectly circular tunnels with a 20-foot diameter connect the nexus (D1) to the cells. The cells have a 50-foot-high ceiling and the nexus has a 100-foot-high ceiling, unless otherwise noted in an area’s description.

D1 – The Nexus

The walls of this entire complex are covered in a soft moss which gives off a blue light, giving all you survey a deep blue twinge, as if you were viewing it underwater. Halfway up the chamber that light mixes with the red light of the above world to create something almost akin to sunlight. Tunnels with perfectly carved 20-foot diameters travel off in many directions from this chamber.

Far down two separate hallways, Fearagaxal and Reganavia, a pair of young bronze dragons watch the adventurers. These two appear calm and collected at first, but their minds have been warped by their long imprisonment. They desire violence and crave the chance to hurt something living in the name of Kerrinsalastraya. One of them might approach the PCs from a safe distance to learn their intent in coming there, and then attack. The dragons are fanatically loyal to Kerrinsalastraya and try to leave at least one of the PCs alive to be questioned by her.

If either of the dragons is reduced to half its hit points, it retreats back to area D16 and warns Kerrinsalastraya of powerful intruders.

Net. A net of psychic energy can be created and dropped from the ceiling in the nexus by a creature attuned to the Shuzal monolith in area C9. The net covers the entire area of the room and drops from the highest point in the ceiling to the ground. Creatures in the room must make a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw. Creatures who fail take 44 (8d10) psychic damage and are restrained. A flying creature who fails this saving throw falls to the ground and is prone, taking any fall damage as normal. Creatures who fail take half damage and are not restrained.

The net remains on the ground as long as the creature who activated the net remains adjacent to the Shuzal monolith or until that creature uses its action to dismiss the net. Creatures restrained by the net can use their action to make a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw followed by a DC 20 Strength saving throw to break free. The creature must succeed on both saving throws to free itself. A creature who moves more than half its speed over the ground where the net is must succeed on a DC 20 Dexterity saving throw or it takes 44 (8d10) psychic damage and is restrained.

D2 – Wyxilcotalises’s Cell Hall

Mixed with the blue light coming from the walls, a red light glows on the floor halfway down this hall.

The long hall to this cell contains a glyph which deals psychic damage to any non-aberration who reads it. The dragons know to avoid reading this glyph, which lets out a loud scream when activated. If the PCs read the glyph, Wyxilcotalises is prepared for them. Her initial instinct is to wait by the cell’s door and determine the PCs motives and capabilities. If she thinks they would be willing to help free her and kill Kerrinsalastraya, then she waits patiently for them, trying to appear non-threatening. If she thinks them incompetent or unwilling to negotiate, she strikes with her breath weapon as soon as they are in range.

Psychic Glyph Trap. Any PC who is within 20 feet of the 10-foot by 10-foot glyph in the middle of the hall and who can see it must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. A creature who fails takes 11 (2d10) psychic damage and on its turn must draw its most easily reached melee weapons and use its action to make a melee attack with advantage against itself. That creature must repeat the attack as its action on its turn for 1 minute as long as it is conscious and able to make attacks. That creature can repeat the saving throw on the end of its turn ending the effect if it succeeds. A creature who succeeds on the initial saving throw takes half damage and does not have to attack itself.

A creature who remains within 20 feet of the glyph after making a saving throw against its effects, must repeat this saving throw if it continues to look at the glyph.

A creature who knows the nature of the glyph is easily able to avoid looking at it. A character trained in Arcana can make a DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) check to determine the nature of the trap from afar by identifying the red glow coming from the trapped glyph.

D3 – Wyxilcotalises’s Cell

The smashed bars of this cell seem to be damaged from the outside in. The cell itself opens into a wide chamber with organized towers of metal scrap, mostly from the bodies of broken construct guardians, piled around the room. Amongst the scrap, a massive dragon with scales of brass sits breathing fire onto a pile of metal to meld it together while the beast works it with her claws.

Wyxilcotalises, an adult brass dragon, uses the scrap metal in her room to forge tools for Kerrinsalastraya’s escape plan. When the PCs enter she’s crafting a large container to hold the adamantine dust created by the massive drill to more easily transport it to area D13.

Metal piles. A creature can adjacent to a metal pile can use one of its attacks as part of the attack action to push it over onto another creature adjacent to the pile. The creature pushing the pile must make a Strength check contested by the target’s Dexterity check. If the creature pushing wins the contest, the target takes 11 (2d10) piercing and 11 (2d10) slashing damage and is knocked prone. If the target wins the contest, the target dodges the pile of falling metal and nothing happens. Either way the pile of metal cannot be knocked over again and the area where the pile was is now difficult terrain.

A creature can push a creature adjacent to a metal pile into the pile with a successful push attack. The target takes 11 (2d10) piercing damage and 11 (2d10) slashing damage and is knocked prone. The pile cannot be knocked over again and the area where the pile was is now difficult terrain.

Treasure. Amongst the piles there are 100 pounds of copper, 100 pounds of silver, and 40 pounds of gold. Each pound of material is worth 50 coins of its type. The pile of metal scraps in the far back of the room holds a radiant heart which requires a DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check to spot. The DC to spot the radiant heart is reduced to 15 if the pile is knocked over.

Wyxilcotalises. Wyxilcotalises has pledged her alliegance to Kerrinsalastraya, but mostly out of self-preservation and a desire to leave. The brass dragon believes the dracolich is insane, but would not dare contest the cell block’s defacto leader lest she be turned into a zombie. If she believes the PCs to be capable of killing Kerrinsalastraya and they agree to free her from the prison, she will aid them by giving them the radiant heart she found in the vault and hid in one of the piles of scraps and she’ll tell them the location of Kerrinsalastraya’s phylactery.

If Wyxilcotalises thinks the PCs aren’t capable of killing Kerrinsalastraya or they don’t agree to free her, she attacks them, attempting to keep at least one of them alive for questioning. If she’s on the fence about their capabilities, she will attack them as a test. If the dragon is reduced to half her hit points, she tries to bargain with the PCs for her life by telling them the location of Kerrinsalastraya’s phylactery.

Wyxilcotalises does not wish to face Kerrinsalastraya in combat and will not join the PCs in a direct attack on the dracolich. She wants to keep her options open in case the PCs fail.

D4 – The Zombification Lab Hall

When the PCs head down the hall, read:

This hall is masked in an orange haze which dances through the tunnel and glitters like fire.

The haze which covers this entire length of hall is mind-affecting poison Kerrinsalastraya activated long ago. The mists still remain because they do not bother the unbreathing undead inhabitants of Shuzal’s cell block and the few living inhabitants have learned to avoid this hall.

Mind-bending Mists. Any non-aberration, non-undead creature who enters or starts its turn in the mists must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or take 16 (3d10) poison damage and gain a random form of short-term madness.

A creature trained in Arcana or who has proficiency with a poisoner’s kit can make a DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) check to determine the nature of the trap. A creature holding its breath when navigating the mists has advantage on its saving throw. A strong wind dissipates the mists for 1 hour, after which time they return.

D5 – The Zombification Lab

The smashed cell door to this chamber does nothing to hold back the unpleasant odor coming from this room. Lumps of twisted steel bound together by the power of raw fire form a huge table in the middle of the room. Around the room, rotting dragon tails and limbs line the wall and a crystal in the ceiling pulses deep purple. The most obvious feature of the room are its guardians, of course. One massive undead gold dragon with torn flesh and exposed bone gives a low moans to two smaller undead gold dragons as you enter the chamber.

This cell used to be Kerrinsalastraya’s cell, which she transformed into a lab where she experiments with the bodies of her dragon victims. Sepora’s tampering with the aberrant magic of Shuzal warped the large crystal in the center of this chamber’s ceiling, which was designed to create an antimagic field in the cell in case a dragon got any ideas about spellcasting. The connection of the magic from the Shuzal monolith to the antimagic crystals was severed in one of Sepora’s experiments and this crystal absorbed a healthy dose of necrotic magic. That crystal turned Kerrinsalastraya into a dracolich and now serves as her phylactery.

One ancient dragon zombie and two young dragon zombies guard this room and attack any living creature who enters.

Dragon Body Parts. The dragon body parts in this room are mostly rotted through and through, however the tips of many of their claws remain intact. A creature proficient with smith’s tools can cut off the tips to make dragon bone arrows. These function as +1 arrows and there is enough bone material to make 50. It takes 1 hour to harvest all the material and 1 hour for the person crafting to make 10 arrows.

Kerrinsalastraya’s Phylactery. Any time a living creature enters this room, Kerrinsalastraya’s phylactery can sense its presence and location. If the zombies in the room attack, the crystal tries to defend its creations. At the end of a round of combat, the crystal casts bestow curse (save DC 18) on a random living target in the cell. The phylactery stops doing this once all the zombies in the room are dead.

Once per round as a reaction the phylactery can cast blight (save DC 18) on a creature which deals damage to it. The phylactery has AC 20, 100 hit points, and a damage threshold of 15.

If the phylactery is destroyed, all creatures within the room must make a DC 15 Reflex saving throw as the crystal explodes in a burst of necrotic energy. Creatures who fail take 44 (8d10) necrotic damage and 11 (2d10) piercing damage. Creatures who succeed take half damage.

Undead Rising. The crystal causes undead dragons to rise in a matter of days and affects non-dragon creatures in minutes. Any non-construct, non-dragon, non-undead creature who dies in this chamber rises as a zombie 1d4 rounds after it died.

D6 – The Vault Hall

The hall here is marred and marked, as if a creature with massive claws has scratched every surface.

Magic glyphs used to guard this hall. Slowly but surely they were scratched out by Kerrinsalastraya. She has put her own security measures in this hall leading to the old weapons vault. Eight wyrmling dragon zombies stand watch over the vault door at end of the hall which leads to the vault.

D7 – The Vault

Before the smashed, solid adamantine door multiple burn marks scar the floor, a sign that this entrance was once heavily trapped. Inside the massive vault seems empty.

Almost everything of value was taken from the vault to make Kerrinsalastraya’s massive drill. Yet, the adventurers could still find some things of use in the chamber, particularly a crystal embedded in the floor hidden by a pile of rubble.

Inventory Crystal. A successful DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check determines the piles rubble in this room was actually placed where it is by a creature because the pattern of dust suggests the rubble was swept from the place it fell into a pile. A successful DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check catches a glint of orange somewhere at the bottom of the pile.

The orange inventory crystal is embedded in the floor and it takes 1 hour of work for one creature to clear the area of rubble. For every creature that helps, the time is cut in half. So it takes 2 creatures 30 minutes, 3 creatures 15 minutes, etc.

A creature who touches the crystal and makes a successful DC 12 Intelligence (Arcana) check is telepathically given a list of the items which were in the room before the aberrations left Shuzal. Most of the list is low-level magic weapons (like +1 longswords), however the name of importance which comes up is Servitor.

Treasure. Amongst the rubble is a small pouch containing potions Kerrinsalastraya clearly did not care about. A successful DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check spots the bag in the rubble which contains three potions of greater healing, two potions of flight, and three potions of firebreathing.

D8 – Collapsed Hall

This hall is blocked by a wall of adamantine rubble.

The hall here is blocked because Kerrinsalastraya intentionally triggered a falling ceiling trap the aberrations placed in the hall to shut Maxathaltros up. Their last meeting came about because Maxathaltros was filling the entire cell block of the prison with tremendous roars to annoy Kerrinsalastraya. His plan worked too well, for his sister tortured him to the point of near death and then set off the trap to seal off the sounds coming from her brother’s cell.

A successful DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check made near the wall allows a character to hear Maxathaltros’ renewed and now muffled screams of rage. A DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check allows a character to determine the pieces of rubble in the collapse are a little too perfectly shaped to be the result of a simple accident.

It takes 1 hour of work for one creature to clear the area of rubble. For every creature that helps, the time is cut in half. So it takes 2 creatures 30 minutes, 3 creatures 15 minutes, etc. If the rubble is cleared while Maxathaltros continues bellowing (instead of say, waiting for him to go to sleep), it could attract some attention. Four of the young dragon zombies come from area D10 to investigate.

D9 – Maxathaltros’ Cell

The locked cell door before you is the first you’ve seen intact. Thick bars run up and down and side to side to make up this cell door. Staring back at you with disbelief and wild eyes is a massive silver dragon who can’t seem to decide if he’s happy, confused, or terrified to see you. The dragon’s body is covered in wounds and its breathing is ragged and uneven.

Maxathaltros, the adult silver dragon, is the only dragon still held in a cell in Shuzal. He would rather die than join his sister in undeath and gain freedom. When the PCs arrive he hopes they could be his ticket out of Shuzal, but also fears they could just be his sister’s latest victims.

Cell Door. Maxathaltros’ cell has the only remaining intact door in the entire Shuzal cell block. The door is immune to all damage dealt to it from inside the cell. Outside the cell, the door is still tough, it is resistant to acid, cold, fire, lighting, and thunder damage and immune to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons. The adamantine door has AC 23 and 300 hit points. Long ago these doors were locked and unlocked by the Shuzal monolith in area C9, but Sepora’s tampering with the prison’s magic has severed that connection.

Maxathaltros. The silver dragon is in no condition to have a full on confrontation with his sister, nor does he desire to be the one to kill his kin. Still, he knows it must be done and implores the adventurers to do so. He explains that his sister’s mind has been warped and she is no longer the Kerrinsalastraya he knew before their imprisonment. He knows how bad it would be for the area around Shuzal if Kerrinsalastraya and her undead dragons managed to escaped. He tells the PCs that should they kill Kerrinsalastraya and then free him, he will lead them to his sister’s treasure hoard and let them take it all.

D10 – Wyrmling Cell Hall

Small cell doors lie in ruins all over this hall. A series of smaller cells line the halls here.

This is where the aberrations would keep any wyrmling dragons captured in battle, usually to be ransomed back to their parents for information or concessions. Kerrinsalastraya broke into the cells here and turned all the captives into zombies.

Each of the four cells at the end of the hall hold a young dragon zombie. The four zombies come out into the hall and attack as soon as they hear any creatures coming down the hall they don’t recognize.

Ceiling. The ceiling of the tiny cells here is only 10 feet high.

Kerrinsalastraya’s Scroll Stock. A cell at the end of the hall holds a small chest built into the floor. This was once a miniature vault. If Kerrinsalastraya finds herself in a situation where she might need to take refuge because the aberrations return in full force or powerful intruders try to take Shuzal back from her she is prepared. She can retreat to this hall and grab her collection of scrolls looted from the vaults.

The adamantine (AC 23, 100 HP) chest is locked. The lock can be picked with a successful DC 15 Dexterity check made with thieves’ tools. Note that a flame jet trap is built into the floor in front of the chest.

Inside the chest is one scroll of wall of stone, one scroll of antimagic field, one scroll of hold monster, and two scrolls of delayed blast fireball. The spell saving throw DC for these spells is 15.

Flame Jet Trap. The trap is triggered by a hidden pressure plate directly in front of the chest. Any weight of more than 20 pounds placed on the pressure plate triggers the trap. The pressure plate can be spotted with a DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check and the nozzle can be spotted with a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check. A character studying the area can determine the pressure plate is a slightly different color than the rest of the floor with a DC 10 Intelligence (Investigation) check. Wedging an iron spike or other object under the pressure plate prevents the trap from activating.

A creature who steps on the pressure plate must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw to avoid the sudden burst of flame which rises up from the floor. A creature who fails takes 22 (4d10) fire damage. A creature who succeeds takes half damage.

D11 – Young Dragon Cell Hall

Smashed cell doors line this hall. It seems that this hall held cells for dragons larger than wyrmlings, but not much bigger than horses. A strange, soft lullaby melody comes from somewhere within the hall.

After liberating the young dragons from this hall, Kerrinsalastraya has avoided this hall because of the music box trap.

Malicious Music Box.This self-operating music box is hidden within a panel in the ceiling at the center of the hall and plays hauntingly enchanting music. Any creature within 40 feet of the music box who can hear it must make a DC 17 Wisdom saving throw at the start of its turn. A creature who fails falls prone and must use its action to engage in a violent dance, throwing itself against the floor repeatedly, dealing 11 (2d10) bludgeoning damage to itself. The creature cannot move from the space it occupies under its own power and is under this effect until it can no longer hear the music box. On a successful save the creature is immune to the effects of the malicious music box for 24 hours.

The secret panel holding the music box is expertly crafted and requires a DC 20 Wisdom (Perception) check to spot, though a character can pinpoint where the sound is coming from with a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check. The ceiling is 20 feet high in the hall tunnel.

The music box is made of a magically treated wood and much tougher than it looks. It has AC 21 and 100 hit points.

Treasure. One of the young gold dragons Kerrinsalastraya murdered and turned into a zombie has managed to smuggle some pearls into Shuzal through its stomach (gold dragons love to eat gems and precious stones). In the cell at the end of the hall, there is a small hole (DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check to spot) the dragon carved into the adamantine slowly with its claws where it deposited the pearls and was rationing them as treats. There are still 18 pearls worth 100 gp each in the small hole.

D12 – Collapsed Hall

This entire hall collapsed when one of the dragon zombies set off a massive trap. It used to lead to a cell that was the home an ancient gold dragon, whose corpse now guards Kerrinsalastraya’s phylactery.

D13 – Druggulolo’s Cell Hall

A large shadow looms at the end of this hall. You can see a hulking zombie dragon, its silver skin hanging off as it patrols the hall.

The tight quarters make the fight with this adult dragon zombie brutal, as it blocks the hall with its form, using its bulk to stop adventurers from getting to the door and breathing necrotic breath as often as possible. A fight in the hall alerts Druggulolo the PCs are coming, who happily flies as high as he can and prepares a breath weapon.

D14 – Druggulolo’s Cell

The floor in this room is covered in waist-deep adamantine dust. Flying above is a cackling, gleeful dragon. Its scales shine with the greenish tint of copper coins. “Finally. Something to kill! Something to eat!” Drool falls from the dragon’s mouth into the pile of adamantine grit.

Druggulolo, an adult copper dragon, is one of the more fanatical and certainly the most insane followers of Kerrinsalastraya. He desires to be let free so he can unleash his fury upon his former tiefling allies who never came to free him. He misses the taste of food so the chance to eat some adventurers before turning into a dracolich is very appealing to him.

Adamantine Dust. The cell floor is covered in adamantine dust from Kerrinsalastraya’s drilling operation. She leaves it in Druggulolo’s cell since he doesn’t seem to mind. The dust counts as difficult terrain. Medium and smaller creatures have the potential to sink into the dust. When such a creature ends its turn on the dust without moving from the spot where it started its turn, that creature is restrained. As an action a restrained creature can attempt to free itself and end the restrained condition with a DC 12 Strength saving throw.

D15 – Kerrinsalastraya’s Chamber Hall

The long hall here is eerily quiet at first. As you travel further down it you can here a whirring noise coming from the end of the hall.

Kerrinsalastraya is in this cell, which used to belong to the adult silver dragon guarding Druggulolo. She spends most of her time in this chamber working the drill, which is the noise the characters hear.

D16 – Kerrinsalastraya’s Chamber

A massive dragon made of bone and silver scales turns glowing red eyes toward you as you enter the chamber. Its massive head seems twisted in some sort of sick smile. Behind the dracolich a large pole extends from the ground into a massive hole in the ceiling. The dragon let’s loose a mighty roar. “You will not stop me. The hour of our escape is near. The world will learn – undeath is the future.”

Kerrinsalastraya is hellbent on getting out of Shuzal. Her drill is close to the surface and so she fights until the bitter end (especially if her phylactery is intact). She is arrogant and believes fully in her mission to turn the world into an undead paradise.

Earthquake. Kerrinsalastraya’s drilling has caused the magic of the demiplane to be unstable in the cell. At the end of each round, roll a d10. On a roll of 1-3 an earthquake occurs. Every creature standing on the ground must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

Kerrinsalastraya’s Drill. Kerrinsalastraya’s drill in this chamber is operated by any creature attuned to the object. To become attuned to the drill a creature must spend one hour touching the drill and communing with the magical energies of the former weapons now melded together.

A creature attuned to the drill can make the drill extend upwards or downwards at a rate of 20 feet per round. The drill’s maximum height is 100 feet and its minimum height it 10 feet. When the drill hits adamantine it begins to drill through it at a rate of 1 inch per day. At the start of the adventure, Kerrinsalastraya’s hole is 30 inches from the surface or Shuzal. Except for Servitor, all the weapons used to craft the drill are now useless. The drill is 10 feet around and weighs 10,000 pounds.

Servitor. The tip of Kerrinsalastraya’s drill is made with the artifact Servitor. It can be pulled from the top of the drill with a successful DC 20 Strength check.

Next Time…

…I’ll show off the unique creatures in this adventure.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival theme of “Unusual Dungeons” chosen by Nils Jeppe of Enderra has inspired a series of blog posts about some abandoned prisons built to hold dragons by aberrations. So far I’ve written about dragon prisons in general, the specific history of the prison of Shuzal, and the area surrounding Shuzal. Now I’m going to flesh out Shuzal post by post and hopefully have a nice dungeon to show for it in the end. My plan is to put it all into a PDF and throw it up on the Free Game Resources section of this site.

The Ruined Entrance Citadel

Shuzal Entrance Citadel Map

Built in Pyromancers online Dungeon Painter.

Shuzal’s entrance citadel lies in overgrown forest ruins, picked over by the ogres of the Ox Tribe. Having been exposed to the elements for thousands of years, the citadel’s roof has collapsed, walls have crumbled, and trees have grown right through the floor. While the Ox Tribe has some guards posted on this first level of the citadel, most of its members are out raiding or living life in the underground section of the complex.

As you trek through the forest, through the trees you can see curved stone structures rising from the ground. These walls seem to have grown as naturally as the trees growing amongst them. Though crumbling and forgotten there is no mistaking the strange curvature of the walls, identifying this structure as something built by aberrations.

Features of the Area

Illumination. Because there is no ceiling on the ruined citadel, it has the same illumination as the forest directly outside.

Crumbling Walls. The citadel’s 20-foot-high surface level walls are on their last legs. A Small or larger creature adjacent to a wall can use its action to make a DC 15 Strength check to know over a 5-foot section of the wall. Creatures on the opposite side of the wall must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw. Creatures who fail take 21 (6d6) bludgeoning damage. Creatures who succeed take half damage. Creatures who are adjacent to a wall can be knocked through the wall by another creature using the shove attack or a spell which causes forced movement. The creature being moved must be adjacent to the wall before the shove happens or spell is cast, otherwise the wall stops them in their tracks as normal. A creature pushed through a wall takes 21 (6d6) bludgeoning damage. Trying to climb one of the walls requires a DC 15 Strength (Athletics) check. Creatures who fail this check break the section of wall they are trying to climb, taking 21 (6d6) bludgeoning damage in addition to fall damage as normal. The ogres in this complex do not hesitate to knock over the walls to make more room for their bulk.

Open Spaces. The destroyed ceiling and crumbling walls of Shuzal mean that anything happening within the citadel can be heard in all other areas on this level of the complex, except in area A7, which has maintained its roof and door. If battle breaks out or a wall is destroyed, any Ox Tribe members in the complex converge on the source of the noise. Consider breaking enemies into waves based on the rooms they start in. If a fight breaks out, bring in a new wave at the end of the round whenever the PCs outnumber the enemies they are currently fighting. Keep the pressure on in this dungeon brawl.

Rubble. The Ox Tribe ogres have pushed the rubble into large piles which hampers less-than-ogre-sized creatures. Rubble is considered difficult terrain for Medium and smaller creatures.

Trees. The trees growing in this area are 20 feet tall and require a DC 10 Strength (Athletics) check to climb. Medium or smaller creatures who climb 10 feet or more into a tree have the benefit of half cover thanks to the branches.

A1 & A2 – Guard-Houses

As you enter the ruined citadel, gaping holes in the wall can be seen on both sides of the hall. A foul stench, laughter, and gross eating noises come from the West side of the hall. Low grumbling and the clatter of small stones on large stones can be heard from the East.

Eight ogres are on guard duty, four in each guard-house. In A1 the ogres sit eating the bodies of four dead human merchants and telling each other bawdy jokes. In A2 the ogres play a game with dice.

Treasure. The hungry ogres in A1 shoved the tattered clothing of the merchants into the corner of the room behind a pile of rubble and can be spotted with a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check. A character searching through the clothing discovers a blood-stained belt pouch containing 302 gp.

A3 – Tunnel Room

The most prominent feature of this room is the large, gaping hole in the floor, which drops 15 feet onto a ruined stone floor.

If the ogres are in this room, add:

Two large ogres turn to face you as you enter the room. One rushes toward you, the other heads for the hole.

This room used to be the aberrations well-guarded stairwell to the lower portions of the citadel. Now the stair well lies in ruin and two ogres stand guard. If trouble breaks out, one of the ogres heads down below to warn the rest of the tribe.

Tunnel. The tunnel here is really a hole in the ground which drops 15 feet. The height is high enough for large creatures (like ogres) to safely lower themselves down, but smaller creatures need to use rope, magic, or some other method to safely touch down on the lower level of the citadel.

A4 – Training Room

This long room has walls painted with faded frescos of dragons falling in battle before aberrations. On the side of the East wall, a large column painted with various targets lies in ruin.

If the ogres and oni are in this room, add:

An oni feverishly lectures two ogres who hang their heads in shame and fear.

This is the place where aberration guards would practice their combat tactics. Any who wished to access the lower levels of the citadel and the portal to Shuzal would have to pass aberration soldiers ready for combat. Now two ogres and an oni are here. The ogres came to blows over a shiny stone one of them found. The oni has taken the stone for herself and is currently lecturing the ogres about fighting each other while on guard duty.

Treasure. The oni carries a topaz worth 500 gp on a pouch in its belt.

A5 – Processing Room

This forgotten room has a smashed, divot-filled column which was once inlaid with some sort of stones. The smashed pile of rubble in the corner of the room was clearly an old piece of furniture.

This forgotten room is where polymorphed dragon prisoners were brought for processing. The column, once full of magically charged gemstones, forced a permanent zone of truth spell in room. The pile of rubble in this room is a smashed stone desk which held the files of the aberrations, since plundered or lost to the ravages of time.

Treasure. A DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals there is still a large spinel worth 250 gp on the underside of the column. A character can reach under and try to pry out the spinel with a DC 15 Strength check.

A6 – Golem Workshop

A smashed bench and some rusty old tools lie on the round in this room. Faded frescos on the wall depict various aberrations assembling guardians of stone, flesh, and metal.

If the clay golem is here, add:

In the middle of the room stands a silent statue made of clay, resembling a human with tentacles for arms.

One of the onis of the Ox Tribe found this old golem workshop and managed to magically reprogram the clay golem here to work for her. The clay golem guards this level of the complex and runs toward any sounds of battle and attacks any non-Ox Tribe creatures it comes across.

A7 – The Key Room

As the adamantine door opens, a heavy purple mist floats out of the door around your ankles. Inside the room, a great adamantine chest sits behind a huge creature made of iron. Its three heads look your way as it raises its sword. Its feet crush the skeletons of ogres as it moves toward you.

This room was setup long ago by the aberrations to guard one of Shuzal’s portal keys. The ogres have left the room untouched after many attempts to get to the chest failed thanks to the iron golem guardian and the mists within the room. This room is entirely enclosed, has a 20-foot high ceiling, and is shrouded in darkness, though opening the door and leaving it open allows for light from the outside to penetrate the room. The iron golem here does not join battle unless it can see intruders (and it considers the Ox Tribe intruders as well). Its main function is to guard the chest.

Jammed Door. The adamantine door (AC 23, HP 100) to this room has been jammed by the ogres. It can be forced open with a DC 20 Strength check.

Mists of Madness. This mist covers the entirety of the floor in area A7. When a living creature shows any sign of above animal intelligence (such as speaking, casting a spell, using tools or a weapon, etc.) while standing within the mists, the mists rise up and try to enter the creature’s lungs. When the mists try to enter a creature’s body, that creature must first succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. If the creature fails that saving throw, it must then succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or gain one form of long-term madness. Creatures who are aware they are standing in mists of madness have advantage on the Constitution saving throw. A DC 15 Intelligence (Arcana) check reveals the nature of the trap. A strong wind forces the mists to dissipate in 1d10 rounds.

Treasure. The adamantine chest (AC 23, HP 100) is locked. The key to this chest is long forgotten, but a DC 20 Dexterity check made with thieves tools picks the lock or a DC 20 Strength check forces the lock open. If the lock is forced open with a Strength check or if a creature attempts to pick the lock and fails, the poison mister trap (see below) triggers. The chest contains a Shuzal portal key, a rod of planar entrapment, and fifteen pearls carved to look like eyes (worth 100 gp each).

Poison Mister Trap. A nozzle connected to a vial of poison gas is hidden in the chest’s lock. When the trap is triggered the nozzle creates a 15-foot cone of gas originating from the lock. Creatures within the cone must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. Creatures who fail take 22 (4d10) poison damage and are poisoned for 1 hour. Creatures who succeed take half damage and are not poisoned. A DC 20 Intelligence (Investigation) check allows a character to deduce the trap’s presence from alterations made to the lock to accommodate the nozzle and vial. A DC 15 Dexterity check using thieves’ tools disarms the trap, removing the nozzle and gas vial from the lock.

A8 – Offices

A huge pile of rubble indicates that all of the stone furniture in this room was smashed and pushed into a pile.

If the ogres are here, add:

Eight ogres sit around the body of a fallen comrade, solemnly praying.

Once the prisoners of Shuzal were processed, their information was brought here and poured over by various aberration intelligence officers. Now eight ogres hold an impromptu funeral for a friend who died on a recent raid before bringing him below to be buried.

A9 – Forgotten Room

This room is so badly damaged it’s almost impossible to tell what its former purpose was. It does not seem to have much of one now.

This room’s outer wall is easier to break. A DC 10 Strength check is all that is required to knock it over. A DC 15 Intelligence (Investigation) check reveals the wall is weaker than the others.

A10 – Armor Storage

A huge pile of rubble sits in this room next to a tree which seems to have grown taller than the others nearby. Rusted pieces of metal sit here and there on the ground, perhaps once pieces of something greater.

Long ago the aberrations stored armor here. Now the highest tree in this section of the forest grows from the floor. The tree is 40 feet high and climbing to the top allows a person to see over the rest of the complex, since all areas have no ceiling except A7.

A11 – Weapon Storage

Rusted blades, spears, and hammers lie about this room.

If the oni is here, add:

At the center of the room, an oni meditates beneath a tree.

The oni in this room is trying to get in touch with the aberrant magic of the ruin. The aberrations once kept their weapons here.

Treasure. The roots of the tree are covering an old deerskin bag, which can be spotted with a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check. Removing the bag from under the roots requires a DC 15 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check. If the check fails by 5 or more the bomb of horrors in the bag goes off.

Next Time…

…we’ll get to the lower level of this dungeon!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Last week I wrote about the prisons for dragons built by aberrations. Then I wrote about the specific history of one such dragon prison, Shuzal, and provided some adventure hooks to give players a reason to visit the aberrant ruin. Today I’m going to discuss encounters which can occur around Shuzal.

Before I get going let me send a shout-out to Nils Jeppe over at Enderra. He’s hosting this month’s RPG Blog Carnival and the theme is “Unusual Dungeons.” That great choice inspired this series of blog posts. For a general overview of what a dragon prison is check out the first post in this series. For the specific history of Shuzal and quest hooks to get your PCs headed there, check out the second post in this series.

In this post I’ll give you a description of the area surround Shuzal’s entrance citadel and tables for random encounters PCs may have on their way to the ruin.

Shuzal and surrounding area

The Great Bear Forest

Shuzal is located within the Great Bear Forest between the Aeranorian colonies of Paqual and Lumberton, the tiefling Amber Spire, and the village of the Bear Tribe. The Great Bear Forest is chilly and mysterious. Every morning the woods are covered in thick mist and the sounds of animals calling and responding to one another fills the ears of the tribes and colonists. This routine ends with the baritone call of the great bears. The Bear Tribe describes their namesake as elusive, enormous bears infused with spiritual energy by their gods. The bears protect the wood, and lumberjacks from Aeranore have been warned many times that if they continue their work they will be marked for death.

Towns and Settlements

PCs could be based in one of the following settlements or pass through them on their way to Shuzal, depending on the hooks used. The small descriptions below can be expanded upon. Assume the colonies and the tiefling spire have a place to buy most mundane goods and services, while the Bear Tribe does not offer much in the way of goods and services for sale, but might be willing to barter in exchange for items or favors from the PCs.

Lumberton (Colony Population 1,500) Lumberton is a community of humans and gnomes focused on exporting lumber all over Canus. The companies here dream to one day expand and overtake one of Taliana’s main exports. The elves and halflings of Taliana currently does not see this colony as a threat, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t keeping a watchful eye.

Paqual (Colony Population 2,500) Nobleman Sydal Freedrock has convinced the people of Paqual that they should not be subject to the rule of Icillia IV, who sits on a throne across the sea and does not understand the problems of the Verdan colonies. He wants Paqual and Aeranore’s other colonies to rise against Icillia IV and declare themselves a separate nation. Trying to garner support, Sydal will soon make his own claim for Paqual’s independence, with or without the other colonies. Many of Paqual’s citizens agree with this separatist attitude, though some Aeranoreans see Sydal as a power-hungry tyrant who desires a kingdom of his own.

Amber Spire (City Population 30,000) The Amber Spire is home to some of Verda’s most isolationist tieflings. Outsiders cannot enter the walled city unless accompanied by a tiefling who has legitimate reason to enter the spire (as deemed by the guards). The city is built upon itself with winding roads which lead the way up to its pointed top. The tieflings here often specialize in the aburjation school of magic and train with great weapons. Like many of Verda’s tieflings, they rarely leave the walls of the spire without good reason and are suspicious of any outsiders who enter their city.

Bear Tribe (Village Population 400) The half-orcs, humans, and orcs of the Bear Tribe live a peaceful life in their small settlement of longhouses. They are friendly toward outsiders though they believe the Aeranorians in Lumberton and Paqual are angering the spirits within the great bears by taking more lumber than they need. Though they are not at war, the Bear Tribe has many great fighters and accomplished shaman who can spring into combat a moment’s notice and keep the village from harm.


PCs traveling to Shuzal may choose to take the trail between Paqual and Lumberton, which they may travel at normal speed, or they may cut through the forest, through which they travel at half speed, unless they are using a special mount or magic item. One hex on the map above equals 50 miles.

Random Encounters

While traveling in the Great Bear Forest the PCs may encounter all sorts of people and monsters. Roll a d20 three times for each day the PCs are traveling in the forest, once for morning, once for afternoon, and once for night. On a roll of 18-20 a random encounter occurs.

Use the table to determine what type of encounter occurs. For encounters marked with an asterisk use the descriptions provided after the tables.

Great Bear Forest Random Encounters
d12 + d8 Encounter
2 1d6 + 4 great bears*
3 1 morchia and 1d6 cult fanatics*
4 1 tiefling archmage*
5 1 fleeing merchant*
6 1d4 trolls
7 1 Ox Tribe oni and 1d8 Ox Tribe ogres
8 1d8 + 8 giant toads
9 Tribe (friendly) 1d4 druids and 1d6 + 2 berserkers*
10 1d6 + 5 Ox Tribe ogres
11 Lumber merchant caravan*
12 2 human gladiators and 2 human mages*
13 Tribe (hostile) 1d4 druids and 1d6 + 2 berserkers*
14 1d2 + 1 mammoths
15 1d8 + 8 dire wolves
16 1d4 hill giants
17 1 behir
18 1 roc
19 1 young gold dragon flying overhead
20 1 abandoned lumberjack mech


Use the descriptions below for encounters marked with an asterisk.

Druids and Berserkers

Members of a tribe of bugbears, hobgoblins, humans, half-orcs, githzerai, gnolls, goblins, kalashtar, orcs, or any combination of these humanoids might cross paths with the PCs in the forest. These tribal warriors are decorated with the patron animal of their tribe (decided by the DM). Friendly warriors might belong to the bear tribe.

Fleeing Merchant

The PCs come across a human lumber merchant who is alone in the forest. The merchant’s caravan was attacked by the Ox Tribe ogres. The merchant wishes to return to the safety of Lumberton and will pay the PCs 50 gp each to act as escort.

Great Bears

Everything around the PCs goes silent and then enormous, majestic bears traveling in a pack cross their path. Unless provoked the bears pass by peacefully. If the PCs are on their way to Shuzal to stop the ogres, one of them receives a charm of animal conjuring as a gift from the bears.

Human Gladiators and Mages

The PCs come across members of the Explorers’ Guild or Society of Seekers searching for new aberrant ruins.

Lumber Merchant Caravan

This lumber caravan is on its way to Paqual with a fresh order of lumber to ship to Aeranore or on its way to Lumberton to get more lumber to send over seas. They are friendly and able to provide directions, food, and water to the PCs.

Morchia and Cult Fanatics

This morchia and its Aberrant Alliance followers stalk the forest for victims for the morchia to devour.

Tiefling Archmage

This spireless tiefling was kicked out of the Amber Spire years ago for violent tendencies. If it sees the adventurers it stalks them, trying to separate them and pick them off one at a time.

Up Next

Coming up… the first layer of the dungeon!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Thanks to the inspired RPG Blog Carnival theme of “Unusual Dungeons” (chosen by Nils Jeppe over at Enderra) this month I’m going to be building you a dungeon for use in your home game. In my last post I described the general history and layout of Exploration Age’s dragon prisons, one of the world’s many types of aberrant ruins. Today I’m going to get specific and write about a single dragon prison. Hopefully when all is said and done the dungeon will be appropriate for PCs of 12th level.

World Map of Canus

World map of Canus

Shuzal and surrounding area

Shuzal and surrounding area

Prison Overview

Deep in the halls of Shuzal a sinister force warped by corrupt aberrant magic has gained control of the prison’s lowest level. While many prisoners have been turned by this evil, Maxathaltros, a silver dragon, cowers in his cell, waiting for a savior or death to come his way.


Shuzal was an important prison for the aberration forces. During the war many important metallic dragons, their allies, and weapons were contained within its walls including a pair of silver dragon twins who were ancestors of the architects of the tiefling race. Maxathaltros and his sister, Kerrinalastraya, were well into adulthood when they were thrown into Shuzal. The aberrations mistakenly believed the twins knew a secret to unmaking the tieflings, who were the metallic dragons’ allies. For thousands of years the twins were tortured at the hands of aberrations for information that did not exist.

As the aberrations on Verda found themselves close to ruin at the hands of the dragons and the tieflings, their methods of interrogating the twins became more extreme. Kerrinalastraya was killed in her cell during an interrogation. The aberrations searched her cell for any information she might have hidden away, found nothing, but left her cell door unlocked as they fled the demiplane on which the prison was built leaving active constructs and traps behind to guard the prison itself. The dragons and tieflings laid waste to the citadel on the Material Plane which hid the entrance to the demiplane, but never found the portal.

More millennia passed as the dragon prisoners sat in their cells, sustained by the magic of the aberrant demiplane. The boredom made some insane. Yet other dragons, like Maxathaltros, held onto hope that they might one day escape and rejoin their kin.

On the Material Plane a clan of ogres, the Ox Tribe, moved into the ruins of the citadel once guarding Shuzal. The tribe has a fearsome reputation for devouring the flesh on any living being, preferring to dine on anyone intelligent. Their residence there has remained virtually uncontested for thousands of years.

500 years ago Akros Sepora, a spireless tiefling from the Amber Spire shunned for her practice of necromancy, found the ruins of Shuzal. Using a bevy of powerful spells she managed to evade detection from the Ox Tribe. Luckily for Akros the ogres had a burial ground which provided her with undead bodyguards. She entered the demiplane after uncovering a portal key in the rubble of the ruin. Her undead defeated the construct guardians and traps on the ground floor of Shuzal and she has ruled there ever since. Taking advantage of the agelessness effect in the demiplane, Akros has had centuries to perfect her dark craft. She rebuilt and reprogrammed some of the constructs, ventured back into the Material Plane for more ogre corpses, and became obsessed with the aberrant magic of the demiplane which causes allows her to live without the need of food, water, or aging. Her goal is to find a way to harness that magic and bring it with her to the Material Plane. Akros is getting bored in her small home of Shuzal. The first place she plans to bring her undead army is back to the Amber Spire. Perhaps a destructive display will teach the city which scorned her to respect the art of necromancy.

Akros does not venture down to the cell block floor of the prison for she fears the dragons and even greater terror which she created. 200 years ago her tampering with the aberrant magic of Shuzal corrupted the corpse of Kerrinalastraya, turning the dragon into a dracolich who now rules the cell block floor. Kerrinalastraya abhors anything living and killed all the sane prisoners. Her victims were raised as zombies who now roam the cell block floor, helping her search for a way to exit the demiplane. She kept the insane prisoners alive for they keep her entertained. Her brother also lives though locked in his cell. Maxathaltros hates what his sister has become, but she still loves him. When she finds a way out of Shuzal, Kerrinalastarya hopes her brother’s gratitude will change his mind about her new form.

Recently Akros ran out of fresh ogre corpses from the burial grounds of the Ox Tribe and has begun picking off living ogres to swell her undead ranks. The Ox Tribe knows that some of their own have gone missing in the night and want to punish the person responsible.

Kerrinalastarya has unlocked a vault within the cell block which kept many of the aberrations magic weapons. The aberrations emptied most of the vault when they fled Shuzal, but the dracolich did find enough weapons that she has begun constructing a massive drill, which she believes can slowly dig her a path through Shuzal’s adamantine ceiling to its surface.


The following hooks can be used to get PCs into Shuzal.

Ogre Raids

Caravans on the trail between Paqual and Lumberton have been attacked repeatedly by a large group of ogres. The PCs are hired by Falan Neleare, owner of the Neleare Lumber Company, to clear out the ogres. He knows the task is dangerous and will give them 100 gp for the head of every ogre returned to him. If the PCs are members of the Explorers’ Guild of the Society of Seekers this contract may come to them through these organizations.

Portal Key

Datas Lantandra, an venerable tiefling librarian from the Amber Spire, has become obsessed with searching aberrant ruins. The old tiefling has been researching nearby ruins and recently discovered a strange gemstone in the spire’s aberrant collection which he believes to be a portal key to Shuzal. He hires the PCs to delve into the ruins of Shuzal’s entrance citadel, find the portal, and bring back any books, letters, or tomes they might find. Datas agrees to pay the PCs 1,000 gp for every book or letter they find, and can be convinced to pay more for interesting aberrant artifacts.

Dreams of Maxathaltros

Maxathaltros has been trying to reach the Material Plane for thousands of years by creating a powerful version of the dream spell. When the PCs are resting within 1000 miles of the ruins of Shuzal’s citadel they receive a vision of Maxathaltros begging them to come and free him from his prison. He offers to take them to his treasure hoard on the northern most cliffs the Harpy Mountains if they free him. Should they free him, Maxathaltros is true to his word. Much of his hoard has disappeared in the millennia he was trapped, but he did keep a chest of hidden booty. The gems, coins, and art within the chest are worth 50,000 gp. The chest also contains 3 rare magic items of the DM’s choice.


While searching another aberrant ruin, the PCs find the journal of an aboleth general for millennia ago. The journal is written in Deep Speech (which is a written language in Exploration Age) and has mostly been lost to the ravages of time. There is a legible passage which mentions receiving spoils of war from allies across the sea including a magic war pick of extreme power liberated from the corpse of a dwarf. The ruby-headed pick was sent to Shuzal for safekeeping. A PC who succeeds on a DC 15 Intelligence (History) check knows this weapon could be Servitor, one of the Tools of Order. Any dwarf PCs from Bragonay or PCs who have done research about the Tools of Order know this automatically.

Coming Soon!

Does Kerrinalastarya have a phylactery? If Akros is so obsessed with living forever why doesn’t she just become a lich? You probably have a lot of questions about this dungeon and its inhabitants, but do not worry. Answers are coming your way.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

This month’s RPG Blog Carnival theme is “Unusual Dungeons (and other such locations)” chosen by Nils Jeppe over at Enderra. Is that an awesome theme or what?

In my homebrew setting of Exploration Age ruined settlements and structures from an age when aberrations ruled Canus dot the world map. These aberrant ruins come in many forms. My favorite is a prison designed specifically for holding dragons!

The only dragon no prison can contain.


History of Dragon Prisons

The aberrations warred for thousands of years with the dragons for control of Canus. During that time the aberrations used powerful magic to create special prisons designed to hold dragons. These prisons needed to be powerful indeed to contain such mighty creatures.

The aberrations eventually lost the war with the dragons, abandoning their surface structures and retreating into The Underdark. Many of their prisons remain standing thousands of years later with magic and horrors untold.

Entrance Citadels

No dragon prisons actually exist on the Material Plane. Each prison is held in its own special demiplane created by the aberrations. The hidden entrances to these worlds are found within labyrinthine ruins of aberrant citadels. Like most aberrant structures these ruins go deep into the ground rather than rise into the sky to afford better protection from flying dragon enemies.

The aberrations left these strongholds behind causing them to be overrun with all manner of creatures seeking a free home. Orcs, goblins, gnolls, lizardfolk, kobolds, and more make the place home usually without ever knowing its previous purpose. Even if the portals are found in these ruins, opening one requires obtaining its key, a small gem with a strange aberrant symbol engraved.

Aside from the denizens who call the ruin home, there may be some active traps from the time of the aberrations. These traps are typically magical, mind-altering obstacles which the resident monsters have learned to avoid.

Prison Demiplanes

Once through the portal and into the pocket dimension, adventurers find themselves in a small plane of fixed size. The portal lands them on strip of barren earth sandwiched between the edge of the plane and a moat of liquid psychic energy. This strip of land and moat run along the plane’s borders creating an island at the center of the plane. Upon this island sits the prison itself, and imposing structure of black hewn stone, shaped and carved by the strange magic of aberrations.

Inside the demiplane living creatures require no food or water to survive and do not age. A powerful ritual to create this effect was enacted by the aberrations for two reasons. First performing the rituals, expensive and time-consuming as they are, was less expense and life-threatening than trying to feed, house, and clean up after growing dragons. Also as dragons age they grow in power so it was to the aberrations’ benefit to halt the aging process of these beings.

The few aberration guards who patrolled the prison fled years ago when their kind were driven underground. Of course these demiplanes never housed many aberrations to begin with. Even behind bars dragon prisoners are dangerous so the aberrations built construct guardians. These guardians are still operational, patrolling the demiplane’s border and moat as well as the inside of the prison. All of these constructs are linked together by magic so when one senses trouble, all other constructs are alerted to prepare for battle.

Ground Floor

If the moat, walls, and guardians outside of the prison can be overcome, adventurers find themselves on the ground floor of the prison itself. No dragons dwell on the ground floor. Rather, more construct guardians roam an open air fort complete with towers, a guardhouse, and an enormous hole in the center of the ground.

The adamantine guardhouse is where the aberrations who ran the complex lived. These now abandoned buildings have a training room, private quarters, and a war room for meetings and communication with the world outside the demiplane. The war room often features a crystal ball which allows observation of all areas of the cell block floor and direct communication with the entrance citadel and other aberrant ruins. The strange and varied body shapes and habits of aberrations are accounted for in these structures. There is often a hidden, locked, trapped chest within these guard houses which contains scrolls of levitate.

The constructs are trained to use the powerful psychic cannons mounted on towers around the complex. These cannons stun invading creatures while the rest of the guardians clobber them to death. The constructs immediately attack any creature they do not recognize.

Perhaps the most prominent feature of the prison’s ground floor is the large hole in its center. The top of the opening is covered with a magic, translucent barrier which allows only non-dragon creatures to pass through. The next level of the prison, the cell block floor, is 100 feet below and the only way to reach it is through the opening. Aberrations and constructs who could not fly used the scrolls of levitate when they needed to head down to the cell block floor. The controls for turning this barrier on and off are within the guardhouse.

Cell Block Floor

The central area of the cell block is directly underneath the opening on the ground floor. Several long halls branch off from the central area in several directions for 500 feet in different directions like spokes in a wheel. Should the dragon escape its cell, it still has a far way to travel down a cramped hall before it can use its breath weapon. These halls have adamantine gates every 100 feet which were meant to be slammed down and locked in case of a dragon escape. The central room also features a psychic net which can be activated from the guardhouse in the ground level to subdue any escaping dragons.

The prison’s most powerful construct guardians roam the halls of the cell block level, ready to destroy any intruders who might free the dragons. Traps which affect the mind and cripple intruders with necrotic, psychic, and radiant damage are found on the bars of every cell and along every hall.

The bars of each cell neutralize any spell or attack which deals acid, cold, fire, lightning, poison, or thunder damage as well as any breath weapon which passes through them. Standing in front of the bars allows a person to see everywhere within the cell. Aberrations would stand at the bars and torture dragon prisoners using their psychic abilities. The dragons had no place to hide. Sometimes the dragons would die during these interrogations and their massive bodies would often be left in the cell until the prison ran out of space and the cell was needed for a new captive.

While the prisons were made to hold dragons, others might be contained within the cells. On Verda, tieflings might be held within some of the cells if they were captured alongside their dragon allies and the same might be the case for shardminds on Findalay or Parian. Even traitorous aberrations or morchia could be contained within the cells. The cells have also been used to hold objects of great value since the prisons are so well guarded.

Now that thousands of years have passed, each cell block floor could be different from prison to prison. The magic in a cell’s bars might have weakened or malfunctioned allowing a dragon to escape. The freed dragon still cannot leave the prison because of the magical barrier above, but might have liberated its dragon allies, or kept them locked up to torture for entertainment, or have reprogrammed the constructs to follow all of its orders. The life-sustaining magic of the demiplane could become corrupt and raise the fallen corpse of a dragon turning it into a dracolich. What have dragons done to their cells in the thousands of years of solitude? Were they driven mad? Did they have some way to cast spells or practice magic? How might they react to people? These decisions are all up to the DM.

Keep It Rollin’

I actually like this dragon prison thing so much, I’m going to build one for you level by level. Maybe at the end of it all I’ll give you guys the whole dungeon in a PDF. Next time!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, a few Round Tablers got together for the second time to find out just what high level play was like in the new fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons. So Mike Shea crafted a grueling combat experience for Chris DudleyJoe Lastwoski, Liz TheisTopher Kohan, and me to throw down with the toughest 5th edition monster known to us – Tiamat! If you missed the livestream, check out the videos below! Wrap-up Round Table podcast to follow.


If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

UPDATE: The statistics for these catastrophic dragons have been moved, but fear not! You can now grab them in a totally awesome Pay What You Want PDF on the DMs Guild.

Thank you for all the feedback. Catastrophic dragons have been revised and added in full PDF glory to the Free Game Resources page on this site. You are all awesome! I really need to thank John Four over at Roleplaying Tips for the inspiration. He picked the theme of races for last month’s RPG Blog Carnival. Killer stuff that got me thinking about how much I loved fourth edition’s catastrophic dragons and if there was a way to bring them into fifth edition. Here we are a month later and I’ve brought the blizzard, earthquake, tornado, typhoon, and volcanic dragons fifth edition ruleset.


But Wait… There’s More!

A dragon who cannot cast spells is like French onion soup with cheese. Yes, technically it is indeed the thing it claims to be, but I’m pretty disappointed with the result. Catastrophic dragons, like their chromatic and metallic counterparts, can cast spells. Instead of relying on Charisma, their spells use Intelligence. Why? Well, mechanically it’s because catastrophic dragons have lower Charisma scores and higher Intelligence scores than other dragon types. Also, everyone (including me) loves a good story reason for game mechanics so here’s mine.

Much of a catastrophic dragon’s innate magical ability is used in holding its new raging elemental body stable. To keep from exploding, catastrophic dragons must focus their natural magical energies on controlling their chaotic forms.

This does not mean a catastrophic dragon cannot learn to cast spells. Many pour over ancient tomes and texts, learning magic long forgotten, and some even create their own spells which they are eager to show off.

Because these spells are learned and not innate abilities of catastrophic dragons they use the following variant rule.

Variant: Catastrophic Dragons as Spellcasters

Some catastrophic dragons keep spellbooks, just like wizards. A young or older catastrophic dragon can cast and prepare a number of spells per day from its spellbook equal to its Intelligence modifier, requiring material components as usual. The spell’s level can be no higher than one-third the dragon’s challenge rating (rounded down). The dragon’s bonus to hit with spell attacks is equal to its proficiency bonus + its Intelligence bonus. The dragon’s spell save DC equals 8 + its proficiency bonus + its Intelligence modifier.


Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 12.38.07 PM

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

UPDATE: The statistics for these catastrophic dragons have been moved, but fear not! You can now grab them in a totally awesome Pay What You Want PDF on the DMs Guild.

Few disasters work as quickly and devastatingly as a tornado. The terror of these catastrophes can be seen in movies like Twister and The Wizard of Oz, but the true horror is even worse as seen in real life articles and news reels. When it comes to disasters, tornadoes strike fast and without warning. The same happens when a tornado dragon rolls through town. It isn’t looking to chat or for treasure. It’s looking to kill.

Quick Recap

If you haven’t been following the blog, I’ve been busy converting the fourth edition D&D catastrophic dragons to fifth edition mechanics. So far I’ve done the typhoon, blizzard, earthquake, and volcanic dragons. I’m hoping to get feedback on these baddies from you all and then I’ll add them to the Free Game Resources section of this site. Anyway here’s my story for catastrophic dragons in fifth edition, pulled from earlier posts.

Catastrophic dragons were once chromatic dragons who desired more than a hoard and a lair. For while others stole and hid from the humanoids over whom they claimed superiority, these dragons knew that all other life in the multiverse should be bowing to their will. Power is a far greater reward than any material possession and as the smartest and strongest in the land, dragons deserved to be in charge. Any thought other than this was impractical and stupid. These dragons tried to convince their brethren to leave their caves and make the humanoids submit to their will.

The other chromatic dragons did not like this sudden interest in the affairs of lesser beings and so with greater numbers they did come together. They banished their radical kin to the elemental planes. For hundreds of years these rebellious chromatic dragons were locked in seas of fire, ice, wind, and stone. Those who did not die were shaped by elemental forces and remade into catastrophic dragons.

Each trapped catastrophic dragon has its imprisonment tied to the soul of a chromatic dragon on the material plane. If one of these gatekeeper chromatic dragon should die before it can pass the responsibility onto another, the catastrophic dragon can leave the plane of its imprisonment and wreak havoc on the world.

Catastrophic dragons once wanted to dominate all life in the multiverse. After years of suffering the harsh terrain of the elemental planes, their minds are warped and they desire only to kill all those inferior to them, especially chromatic dragons whom they hate above all others.Their memories are long and catastrophic dragons do not forget their betrayal at the hands of their kin. If they escape their bonds, they may keep a hoard, but usually only for the purpose of attracting other dragons and killing them.

Tornado Dragons

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 12.38.07 PM A solid mass of tearing, howling wind creates the body of the tornado dragon. Its form is constantly moving, and the dragon itself can barely sit still. If one comes across a calm tornado dragon, be wary indeed! For surely their rage is approaching a boiling point which cannot be contained.

Restless Rage. Tornado dragons are constantly on the move in search of something new to destroy. Being idle gives them time to reflect on their pain and suffering in the elemental planes, and they distract themselves with their labor of devastating all life. Tornado dragons use every ounce of energy they have wreaking havoc on the world and then retire to their lairs for long periods of time to rebuild their energy and heal their wounds. During these rests, the rage boils in tornado dragons’ hearts and it is only a matter of time before they explode forth, eager to ravage the land once again.

Angry Liberators. More so than any other catastrophic dragon tornado dragons are driven to find gatekeeper chromatic dragons and slay them to free their catastrophic brothers. Often while resting they perform divination rituals to find the closest gatekeeper chromatic dragons. These rituals determine which direction their next swath of destruction will travel.

A Tornado Dragon’s Lair

Tornado dragons prefer to be outside wreaking havoc and destruction as often as possible but they do claim lairs as sanctuaries where they can rest and heal. Usually a tornado dragon’s lair is great ruined structure, possibly destroyed by the dragon itself. Pyramids, arenas, castles, and palaces are the kind of enormous ruin a tornado dragon might claim. They prefer structures on wide open flat planes. The ruins are concealed with illusion magic, and guarded by elemental creatures.

The inside of a tornado dragon’s lair is littered with all manner of magic and mechanical alarms which can alert the dragon to an intruder’s presence. If the dragon is inclined, it will seek out the intruder itself to fight in the halls, or it may trigger one of its devious traps, which often involve the collapsing of a room, or the entire floor of a structure.

When the dragon does face foes in its lair, it prefers to confront them in an area with plenty of space, to make the most of its catastrophic aura. These open spaces often have flimsy barriers, made to look sturdy. Intruders may hide behind these barriers, thinking themselves safe right before the dragon’s wind rips it apart exposing them.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!