Recap by Great Dinn
As Powder Keg picks up the gold coins leftover from the elevator, a strange feeling envelops him, and suddenly, in his mind, the gold, all of the gold in the cave, is as precious to him as his brother is. He seems to make a slight mention of it, merely stating “huh” before sliding the gold pieces into his saddle bags.
Tempered Steel, interested himself in the gold reaches down to pick up a few pieces, and very quickly, the same feeling washes over him. The gold is all. The gold is everything. The gold is…quickly swiped by Powder Keg and shoved into his bag and the two begin to argue. It doesn’t take long before Powder Keg threatens to simply kill Tempered Steel if he should try to take the gold again.
Noticing the strange behavior of his teammates, Xencarn decides to see if he can investigate the potentially magical nature of the gold…by poking it with a hoof. Despite the direct contact, and the seemingly fast acting effects of the curse, Xencarn does not find himself enamored with the gold, and a few minutes later, Tempered Steel’s own adoration has been significantly reduced.
Having realized that there is some sort of curse or curse like effect going on, Firelight attempts to strip the magical taint from the one ally still obsessing over the coin. However, the pulse of magic that flows through Powder Keg doesn’t do quite enough good for the pony, only making him aware that he is in fact cursed. It unfortunately does not make parting with the gold any easier, despite a very, very, very difficult attempt to get rid of it. Just before he can toss the coins away, the desire comes back with full force, and he hugs the gold tightly to his body, as laughter begins to echo throughout the cave.
Before any more attempts can be made to separate Powder from the gold, he gathers enough of it to magically form a giant bust of a pony, which none of the party members recognize as Powder’s brother. Not that Flotsam has been paying much attention to the matter, as she’s been dealing with Craggy, who has found himself eagerly chomping away at various piles of gold and enjoying it quite a lot. When Flotsam does manage to put Craggy back into her saddlebags and returns to the group, she is disconcerted by the strange events occurring, and asks “Why is Powder Keg making arts and crafts?”
With the gold in a more centralized location, and thus not as easy to hide away in a bag, Powder Keg is more easily forced away from the object of his desires by the combined efforts of Tempered Steel and Firelight, whom Powder Keg continues to make numerous horrible threats towards. The group agrees to move forwards, further into the cave, but is stopped by Powder who refuses to leave the bust behind. Xencarn decides to solve the problem by using his previously summoned Zombie to pick up the bust and carry it with them. The Zombie doesn’t seem to be effected, so things appear to be in order to proceed.
Firelight examines the entirety of the events that occurred and realizes that the curse only seems to affect creatures that have picked up the gold and kept it within their possession. The revelation is accompanied by more of the echoing laughter from earlier and a voice that says, “So, one of you idiots figured it out.”
One of the nearby piles of gold loses its shimmer, fading from a lustrous gold to a pallid and cold gray, as the image of a young golden dragon appears on the reflection of the coins. Knowing magic when he sees it, Xencarn analyzes the image and realizes very quickly that it’s a mental projection from the dragon, Glaurung. A small interrogation occurs, as the group attempts to figure out what the hoarder’s scheme is, how he’s interacting with the group, etc, only to receive answers like, Glaurung is “only slightly dead,” various insults towards the parties proclivity towards craftsmanship (specifically the bust), yet more insults directed towards the fact that a filly is with the adventuring group, and ignoring a few questions entirely by stating that that would be “telling.” Glaurung’s image shifts from pile to pile before he finally introduces them to his City of Gold, explaining that it’s only sort of a death trap. But they definitely won’t be leaving.
Tempered Steel attempts to find the source of the projection by shuffling the gold piles with his hammer, but all it serves to do is shift the dragon’s image around slightly, before the image finally disappears, Glaurung finished with his harassment. The group decides to investigate the cave, following Xencarn’s magical tracking to the source of the projection within a palace on the opposite side of the city. Xencarn attempts to have his Zombie follow the group, but the undead monster fails to budge, not even as Tempered Steel attempts to knock it over. Fortunately, the hold on Powder Keg has lessened to the point where he can leave the bust behind, though every flash of glimmering gold draws his focus.
As they proceed down to the heart of the city, Xencarn explains to the group some of the information he’d discovered in Blue Moon’s notes. Namely, that Glaurung was one of the youngest dragons, but incredibly proud, with the most to prove, and that he was a trickster, who loved to deceive others. As they walk, the stone underneath their hooves shifts and changes, beginning to pave itself with gold. Between buildings, and lining the plaza are statues of Glaurung himself, a dragon in his prime, looking “adventurous” and “bold.” Flotsam notices with her keen senses that the statues have pressure plates in front of them, and Firelight is asked to press one with his telekinesis. The maw of the statue opens up, and a cornucopia of gold coins fall from the maw, pelting the area below with more of the cursed golden coins. After about twenty seconds, the flow of coins ceases, and the maw closes, no more gold to drop on whatever unsuspecting passerby triggered the trap.
Tempered Steel questions the quality of this trap, claiming not to get it, as Powder explains that the “joke” is simply killing the ponies that enter the cave with the gold they intended to get. Glaurung’s image appears on the gold beneath their hooves, and grins, confirming “You gotta admit, it’s a hoot.” Tempered Steel approaches the statue, keen to poke something else he doesn’t understand with his hammer, while Glaurung goes on to say that it’s a shame that they aren’t going to take the time to explore the city, since he worked so hard on it, and that it’d be a shame if they missed the real treasure that lay in wait. After all, not all that glitters is gold.
Powder counters the claim by stating that the “secret real treasure” Glaurung’s referring to is just a bunch of dead ponies. Glaurung laughs, and says that since the curse took the worst hold of Powder Keg, he must be on Glaurung’s wavelength, to which Xencarn responds “So, you’re both stupid then?” Glaurung laughs, and admits he walked right into that one. Before the group can begin another round of forty questions, Glaurung feigns boredom, and disappears. Powder Keg tells the group to continue, but the idea of a bluff is brought up for exploring the city, then a double bluff, and a triple bluff, but before the conversation can get any more ridiculous, they continue their progress. They have to get through the city anyhow to reach the palace.
The group arrives in the Main Plaza, where even more statues of Glaurung sit, even more daring in appearance, and looking like the dragon equivalent of a hero or adventurer. There are four buildings that line the Plaza, each distinct from the houses and buildings previously passed, and etched with Draconic writing. Xencarn reads them with his arcane knowledge of Draconic, and notes that they are the Hall of Marks, the Hall of Magical Knowledge, the Hall of Artifacts, and the Money Pit. Within a half-second of reading it, Xencarn enters the Hall of Magical Knowledge, eager to get his hooves on some necromantic tomes. Flotsam, Powder Keg, Firelight, and Doctor Javolt all follow closely behind, some eager to stop Xencarn, others just going along for the ride.
Xencarn is not disappointed when he enters, finding an enormous library, with shelves upon shelves upon shelves of books. Anything that could be named could be found here. Xencarn immediately looks for books on Necromancy, and is immediately rewarded with the first book that comes to his mind, “The Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy.” Before he can reach it, Powder Keg tackles the zebra, eager to prevent yet another party member from being cursed. Javolt sees the book that Xencarn was going for, and picks it up from the shelf, effortlessly dodging Firelight’s similar attempt to tackle him. The donkey scientist opens the books, and skims through it, and as he reads, he finds himself understand the entirety of it. He gets the fundamental concepts of necromancy, to the point that he feels he himself could cast spells. Fortunately, the good doctor doesn’t care for magic, and puts the book back on the shelf. Xencarn, still trapped underneath Powder Keg’s body, asks for the book from Javolt, but before he can hoof the book over, Powder Keg takes it with his magic, and “fixes” it into a useless ball of paper, ink, and binding. Naturally, this leads to yet another argument.
Tempered Steel, meanwhile, has entered the Hall of Marks, curious what the name could mean. As he enters the building, he finds stained glass windows lining the walls. Images of Celestia, Luna, dragons, ponies, a young Discord, a blue dragoness, and many other things beyond the minotaur’s understanding. At the end of the hall is an open book, being written in by a quill with no hand to guide it. Being the only thing of notable importance, Tempered Steel approaches the book, then turns to one of the golden walls, asking Glaurung what it is. Despite a fuzzy connection at first, Glaurung explains that it’s a book of marks, a book listing all of the creatures he’s conned in life and in death. The open page has two very, very recent additions, one of which is still being filled out. The first is Powder Keg, the day’s date, and the note “Formed a bust of a pony out of fake gold.” The second reads Xencarn, the day’s date, and the note “Tricked into fighting with his allies over a bunch of fake books.” Tempered Steel attempts to flip through the book, but is knocked away by the pen, which is still trying to finish the last entry.
When it finishes, Tempered Steel flips through the book, going back a few pages to see recent entries that include a group of ponies wasting away in Boneyard Cave, a pony having his treasure fade to dust as he tries to sell it, and Sharp Edge, who’s “magical weapon” broke as he tried to use it against a Steel Ranger. Tempered Steel flips to the “end” of the book, or attempts to, only to find it continues endlessly. With that knowledge in mind, he begins to flip back, aiming for the front, for the first cons the dragon committed.
Back in the Hall of Magical Knowledge, the group attempts to prove to Xencarn that the books are clearly fake. They first manage to convince Xencarn to look at them magically, and he notes that there is something strange about them, but it could be anything. Then Flotsam pulls out a book that she immediately asked for “How to Care for Cragodiles.” Xencarn is only somewhat convinced, citing a very, very advanced organizing system. Then Powder Keg says that the next book he pulls out will be “How to Prove to Xencarn That He’s a Fucking Idiot.” Xencarn is, reluctantly, convinced. Meanwhile, Javolt has left the room, with nopony actually aware of the fact.
Javolt has moved to the Hall of Artifacts, attempting to examine them for anything “scientific.” None of the amazing inventions in front of his eyes seem to fit the bill, only resulting in a scoff from the good doctor, and the appearance of Glaurung on the side who states that “he needs something to work with.” Javolt speaks with Glaurung on the difference between “Science” and “Technology,” and delves into a multitude of non-sequiturs that only serve to piss Glaurung off, and make him disappear, leaving Javolt alone as he yet again wanders out of the room, looking for something else to examine.
Tempered Steel reaches the initial entries seeing only a long list of them in Draconic, which the minotaur cannot understand or read in any way. He continues to flip to later and later entries, looking for something he can read, but as he approaches the ones in Common tongue, he finds that there’s nothing worth looking at. He continues ever forwards, approaching more and more recent dates, until he finds a name he recognizes. Thunder Spear is in the book. And he shows up many, many times, along with a group of ponies that must have been his travelling companions. The final entry for Thunder Spear is recent, and merely states “Broke his will for finding treasure twenty years after dedicating his life to it.” Tempered Steel closes the book, and returns to the Main Plaza.
The whole of the party reconvene in the center of the Plaza, excepting Javolt, who is found only a few moments later, with Glaurung screaming “Hey! Hooves off!” as Javolt flies out of the Hall of Marks riding Glaurung’s Book of Marks. The group watches as Javolt flies high into the air, overlooking the entirety of the city as the book struggles to throw off its unintended passenger. Javolt takes this opportunity to look around, seeing anything they might have missed, only to stumble across a hidden cove not visible from the city proper, underneath the palace. Before he can look closer, the book teleports out from under him, dropping him into the city below as Firelight runs to catch up with the doctor, and slow his fall with magic.
Mostly unharmed, the group discusses what to do next, only to be marched towards the alcove that Javolt noticed during his flight by the heedless ignorance of discussion by the mad donkey scientist. Tempered Steel takes a moment to look into one of the houses while the group nears the alcove, and notices a pony skeleton resting at the bottom of a large pile of gold. The similarity to the other houses indicate that they all have similar contents. As they approach, they find the alcove is covered in a giant golden gear-like door, akin to a S.T.A.B.L.E. Nearby is a golden computer, which Javolt examines, eager to do some science. It asks for a password, and Javolt puts in Glaurung for kicks. It beeps, and states that only four attempts remain to open the terminal. Flotsam, and Xencarn offer their services to help Javolt hack it, each familiar with either mechanics or the magic that powers the device. Javolt makes a small adjustment to the terminal, and it responds that there are now six attempts remaining as the screen loads a series of potential passwords.
The group discusses what to put in at first, and decide on Construction, which responds that five of twelve characters are correct. Before the next decision can be fully agreed upon, Javolt punches in Civilization, and the terminal opens, listing one available command.
Open S.T.A.B.L.E. Door.
The enormous gear releases steam and pressure, grinding and crushing stone as it rotates and slides open. Behind the door is an unexpected treasure. A small room, lit by a single hanging light, which rests over a container containing a large gold and black egg. A dragon’s egg.
The group enter the small room, examining it from as many angles as possible, only to find it simply contains the container, the lamp that Flotsam identifies as a heat lamp, and a wall etched with more Draconic writing. Tempered Steel leaves the room and approaches the golden door, the only golden reflective source nearby, and attempts to converse with Glaurung. The dragon does not respond. The group discuss what this egg could be, some thinking it may be Glaurung himself, others thinking that it’s a new dragon entirely that Glaurung is helping to hatch. Before the group can look any closer, Glaurung’s image appears and he tells them, with simple fury to Get. Out. Of. That. Room.
The group says that they won’t, and Xencarn asks Glaurung to translate what’s on the wall. Glaurung scoffs, and says that Xencarn can do it himself. Xencarn does just that, reading:
“Here we protect our next generation for the fated day,
When the dragons rise again.”
The group asks for the origins of the egg, and Glaurung answers, after a few moments of silence, that it’s been there since just after the war, and goes on to explain exactly how this dragon egg will hatch. Glaurung is feeding the egg the enormous amount of magical energy, and life energy of all the ponies that have entered his cave, or fallen prey to his tricks. The question is asked if he plans to make zombie ponies, to which Glaurung responds that it isn’t his style, that’s more Nidhogg’s thing. Firelight attempts to hatch the egg, only to find his magic being absorbed and dissipated by the container. This attempt, and the examination of the container that follows pisses Glaurung off, and Tempered Steel leaves the alcove, going to examine the palace quickly.
The floor begins to rumble, and a growl echoes throughout the cave, bits of stone and dirt falling from the ceiling. The group manages to make Glaurung even angrier, as Tempered Steel approaches the gates of the palace. Before Xencarn and Javolt can examine the container further, it disappears as another rumbling echoes throughout the cave. The palace gates burst open as an enormous dragon, teeth of swords, scales of gold, wings of silken tapestry, burning rubies for eyes, and riches beyond imagination littering its flesh, comes out, getting close to Tempered Steel. The others leave the alcove, now certain that they won’t be safe as the egg is gone, and arrive in time to watch Tempered Steel dodge a bullet-like spray of golden coins from the dragon’s maw, impacting the ground and leaving impressions in the rock where they land. Glaurung grins wickedly as Tempered Steel tries in vain to convince him that they don’t have to fight, but the dragon is long past reasoning. The group prepares themselves, and the fight with Glaurung begins.
A white light bursts from Firelight’s horn and an aura of white energy surrounds himself and his teammates, giving them some additional protection from what’s sure to be a nasty fight. Javolt grins madly, and the cape around him discharges, shocking the donkey and sparking enormous, dangerous ideas in his brain. The discharge from the cape bursts and strikes Glaurung’s head and wings, but nothing seems to happen. Flotsam rises to the air, and pelts Glaurung’s face with one of her patented Nail Bombs, which causes the riches on the dragon’s face to shift, ever so slightly. Powder Keg attempts to strike at the dragon, but his attack doesn’t even phase the golden scales, and Glaurung takes the opportunity to make his move. The fanged beast lowers his head, and rushes towards Javolt, who manages to just barely dodge the assuredly lethal blow, and then follows up by spinning around, swinging his enormous tail at the group, who manage to duck or jump over the vicious attack. While Glaurung attempts to regain his footing, Xencarn unleashes a burst of necromantic magic that drains some of the energy from Glaurung’s head, at minor cost to the Zebra, and Tempered Steel follows up with a strike to the head which doesn’t budge the golden shell, but fractures whatever lay underneath.
Firelight, seeing the damage done to Javolt by his own attempt at idea invigoration, attempts to heal the Doctor, which assists with the Doctor’s own devices to bring him back up to a more steady state. That, in turn, allows Doctor Javolt to unleash the full capabilities of his electro-cape and all of its associated devices, which arc in an enormous beam of light and electricity towards Glaurung’s face, peeling back the layers of gold and jewels to reveal a skull, animated by unknown forces. Flotsam lays a bottle cap mine in front of Javolt, hoping to prevent her ally from taking any more damage should Glaurung focus on him for the horrible blow, and Powder uses his explosives, directed towards the place Tempered Steel earlier shattered, to splinter the skull and send it tumbling to the ground, leaving Glaurung headless. Despite the missing head, Glaurung manages to roar in pain, and strike at the group, flapping his enormous wings and raining bits of golden hail that brush past the party, before striking once again with his tail. Unfortunately, this time Tempered Steel and Xencarn are not so lucky, and find themselves struck by the whip-like appendage, but fortunately for them, the disorientation caused by the loss of his head makes Glaurung’s blow weaker, and even more fortunately, Flotsam and Doctor Javolt find an opportunity within the attack to strike back, Javolt letting off another arc of electricity that causes the gold to drop from the tail while Flotsam plants another Nail Bomb that breaks the appendage off at its point of connection. Xencarn takes a moment to focus his energy, and then attempts to drain Glaurung’s soul from his body parts, focusing on the right wing. The dark energy eases past Glaurung’s golden armor, but doesn’t manage to strip everything away from the wing. Tempered Steel follows up with another blow to the wing, which manages to do significant damage to the bone structure, and gives Steel a better idea of the dragon’s weight in attacks.
Firelight uses his magic to once again patch up some of Javolt’s wounds, then pulls out his sword, focusing the sharpened edge and magic within it to strike through the Dragon’s scales. Flotsam lets loose another collection of explosives that rock the dragon’s wings, and Powder Keg tosses a well-aimed grenade into the hole where Glaurung’s skull once was, and the resulting explosion blows off what’s left of the right wing. Glaurung swipes blindly at the party members, unintentionally aiming at Powder Keg and Xencarn, but failing to hit the two, and then following up with another beat of his remaining wing, which launches debris towards Xencarn and Tempered Steel. Xencarn flees before he can even be caught in the strong gust, but Tempered Steel merely stands his ground, planting his hooves and defiantly staring down the headless dragon. Glaurung takes a few moments to recover himself, bringing his mind out of pure bloodlust and back into calculated thought. Xencarn once again uses his necromantic abilities to drain some of the energy from Glaurung’s left wing, and Tempered Steel follows it up by bringing out his Thunder Hammer, and striking the wing at close range. The impact causes Glaurung’s entire body to shake, shifting the gold, and loosening the armor.
Firelight takes advantage of Tempered Steel’s attack to set his sword alight, and focuses his blow at the wing. The molten sword tears through the golden covering, and severs the armor from the wing and chars the bone underneath. Javolt smiles madly, and once again shocks himself to encourage new ideas, only nearly killing himself in the process, as Flotsam launches one last grenade to the left wing, which completely annihilates the ashen bone, leaving Glaurung as a set of claws. Powder Keg attempts to strike but Glaurung retreats, or seems to for a brief moment, before the gold constructing his body melts, and reshapes, forming into an enormous version of Glaurung’s skull that rushes towards the group, roaring in pain and fury. The party strikes back, using all of their combined might, and the gold bursts apart, scattering across the floor and landing at the party’s hooves, Glaurung’s bones jutting from the piles, his roar gone.
Xencarn takes a moment to analyze the bones, and discovers a deep, hidden magical energy, that feels very familiar. It takes a moment, but he realizes that Glaurung’s bones, and the soul within them, are responsible for the Fool’s Gold curse. Still, ever the schemer, Xencarn attempts to bind that soul to the tome of Magic that he brought with him, but despite his best efforts, it fails. The group agree to get rid of the bones the only way they know how, blowing them up.
As one group gathers the bones into a pile, the other approaches the palace, eager to see what lay in wait behind the closed doors. As the explosion that destroys Glaurung’s bones rocks the cave, a reptilian scream echoes through the halls, and a pulse of golden energy spreads from the site of Glaurung’s demise. The pulse passes through the party with no harm, but as it passes through the golden city, and the palace, and all of the riches that lay in sight, it turns them into a fine gold powder, before disappearing into dust. All that remains in the cave are the party, torches, bones, and a small horde just behind the palace. The group nears the treasure, the reward for their hard work in the cave, and notice that the container and the egg lay on top. Tempered Steel opens the container up, and the group decide to try hatching it one more time. Firelight pours all of his energy into his magic, and all of that magic into the egg, each member of the party providing what they can to assist the unicorn with his task. The egg glows with Firelight’s aura, then the glowing stops, absorbed in the same way as before.
And then the egg cracks.
Small claws reach through the crack in the egg, opening it ever wider, breaking more and more of the shell, until a baby dragon pops out, and lands in the golden pile underneath it. It has dark scales, almost black in color, with golden highlights, spines and fins. But before the group’s eyes, the baby dragon grows, and shifts, getting larger, and maturing to drake size, before it opens its golden eyes, and looks at the group for the first time. They narrow, and a gruff female voice speaks to the group.
The effects of this particular adventure has leveled up our adventurers, and they have received a boon for their efforts! The choices were
Travelling Merchant – Merchant can appear anywhere in Dragon’s Maw to help.
Team Pet – New NPC gets skills that can be used as a partner for the whole party.
Dragon’s Maw Radio – Keeps everyone up to date on things in the maw + music, interviews
Instant Reputation – Reputation spreads and the party can influence
Forced March – When travelling between location, fast travel (sort of)
And the group has chosen “Team Pet.” We welcome to the party Aurelia, who is honestly not much of a “Pet.” But that doesn’t mean the other boons are out of reach, or mutually exclusive…
Dear Princess Newbiespud,
Today I learned that this campaign is going to have some pretty awesome bosses. I mean, I expected it, what with the dragons and all, but I wasn’t expecting a golden golem, and man that was awesome. Also, I learned that Tempered Steel is likely going to be found in the dictionary next to Technical Pacifist. His efforts at Diplomacy are to be respected, even if they seem super inappropriate when fighting aforementioned awesome bosses.
Your Faithful Student,