Not ambition, but recklessness. Not goals, but fantasies. The mind tends to see things differently when one’s suffering from the foul dragon’s fever.
It is a rare and unknown condition. But it is true. The dragon’s fever appears from one day to the next. No one knows what causes it and not even the wisest sages or healers understand its origin. The world of men has made peace with this mystery and accepted it as part of their lives.
Fortunately, it is not lethal, but often the consequences of it are. Dragon fever makes a person become a ‘hero’. Farmer or knight, seamstress or damsel, the person abandons their current home and activities, grabs all the gear available, and starts their new life as an adventurer.
This is all in their minds, though. Despite their motivation, a stable boy still dies when facing a mere goblin. And even swordsmen will walk to their deaths if they think themselves capable of saving the world.
It is a horrible disease of the mind that kills without killing. It feeds chaos into the world and makes innocents look for danger. One of the strongest signs of someone suffering from this affliction is the incessant dragon talk, and believing one is capable of killing such a beast.
It has been a few decades since the historians in the capital found the dragon’s shrine in the mountain skirts. Since its discovery, people have come up with all kinds of stories and crazy theories about its origin.
Heal the Fever. The heroes are hired to heal Harold Dunn, a noble’s son. They are tipped about the location of the shrine and told that the spirit of an ancient dragon may heal the dragon fever. Is this true? (80 gp, 9 XP).
Dragon’s Blood. One of the characters suffers from dragon fever. This person believes they are in truth a dragon. In a dream, they learn the location of the shrine and they feel compelled to go there. In their vision, the spirit in the shrine can transform them (0 XP).
Destroyers. The characters are hired by the capital’s authorities. Their task is to destroy the shrine; a cleric of the royal court confirmed the presence of an evil dragon. He believes this shrine could be the source of all cases of dragon fever. Since people are desperate for a cure, and no other information has been found about this disease, they feel there is nothing to lose (120 gp, 11 XP).
Level 7 Adventure
- Danger. Risky. Check for a Random Event every 2 crawling rounds and after loud noises (3-in-6 chance).
- Light. Visible during the day. Area 6 is well illuminated but area 5 is dark. Denizens are dark-adapted.
|RANDOM EVENTS d6||Details|
|1||A group of twenty people (peasants) approaches. Three of them have come to be healed by the shrine. They have no proof this works, but they hope the myths are true.|
|2||Without intending to, a random character presses a brick on the wall (this can only occur in areas 4, 5, and 6). A heavy blade swings from one side of the dungeon to the other, hitting everything in its path (1d10 damage).|
|3||A tall, armored man (knight), followed by six thugs, arrives at the scene. The knight claims that dragons summoned him in a dream. He is to receive a message through the dragon shrine. He becomes hostile if the heroes want to enter too. Only he has the right to see the shrine and hear the dragon’s message, he claims.|
|4||The shrine’s magic sometimes breaks itself free and the world around it reacts in different ways. In this case, the bones in area 6 are reanimated. Eight skeletons emerge from the shrine or attack the heroes if they are inside.|
|5||A random character steps on a pressure-sensitive plate and triggers a trap (this can only occur in areas 4, 5, and 6). Poison darts are shot from the walls (1d10 damage).|
|6||Dragon fever strikes a character at random (DC 14 WIS). They immediately feel a compulsion to stand before the shrine. Their inner dragon is about to be born, they feel.|
1. Area Outside
The characters approach the shrine from this side. They can see the circles of power from here (areas 2 and 3).
- The Fever. If one of the characters is sick, they feel an impulse to run into the shrine to seek the dragons’ wisdom. This triggers traps (see Random Events 2 and 5)
2. East Circle of Power
Grass and dirt have taken over most of the stone tiles but some still surround the rune-inscribed circle. This is one of the two seals that empower the shrine (see area 3).
- Footprints. A barefoot humanoid was here recently. The tracks go to both circles of power and inside the dragon shrine. The tracks are recent (DC 12 WIS).
3. West Circle of Power
The second stone platform features a different rune pattern than its counterpart in area 2. Together, they spell a riddle (DC 13 INT). On a success, the heroes know this:
- The Circles. The stone golem in area 5 loses its power while two living creatures stand in both circles. They must remain there otherwise the golem activates.
4. Shrine Threshold
The face of a dragon is carved on the mountain rock above the entrance. Its features have been eroded by time and exposure. But enough details remain to infer that the author of this sculpture is a true master.
If the characters are too eager to stand before the shrine, they might not spot the trap on the descending corridor (DC 14 WIS). The steps slant downward and become a slide. All descending creatures fall right on top of the circle in area 5, activating a fire jet trap (see below).
5. Draconic Circle
A magic circle with a symmetrical pattern of lines and runes stands before two human-sized stone statues.
- Fire. Standing on the circle triggers the trap. Fire jets burn all creatures in the room. The victims take 2d8 damage (DC 14 DEX for half).
- Guardian. One of the statues is a stone golem. It stops all people. Even ones afflicted with dragon fever.
6. The Dragon Shrine
A grandiose sculpture of a red dragon dominates the chamber. Before it, a black steel cauldron holds a viscous red liquid. Countless bones lie scattered across the cracked dungeon tiles. In perfect harmony, eight columns flank the eerie chamber’s central hall.
Regardless of the characters’ reason to be here, six skeletons and three wights are their last obstacle. After combat, they are free to do what they wish in the shrine.
This adventure can end in many ways. Consider the following depending on the Adventure Hook chosen.
- Healing the Sick. The sick must drink from the red liquid before the dragon statue. This viscous, magical concoction represents the blood of a red dragon.
- Inner Dragon. The member of the party who had the dream suffers a transformation after drinking the blood. They become a half-dragon. The GM is free to decide how this may affect the abilities of the character in question. Or if this occurs to more than one character.
- The Shrine is Destroyed. The heroes trash the place and destroy the effigy. They spill the red liquid on the ground and burn the dungeon to ashes. A little after, they have a vision of an angered red dragon. Dragon fever does not subside either. Matters have just gotten worse…