A three-way tie between the choices: three dragons, three NPCs, and three extra-planar threats. This can only mean one thing. You get one of each.
As usual I will generally be drawing upon Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition rules, but most of the content here should easily be modifiable to any other system or edition you choose.
A Dragon – Vekhat, The Ghost Flame
Description: Ashen scales coat the heavily muscled body, a crown of pale horns coil uncomfortably from the elongated head and spill into ridges that run the length of the spine, and ragged wings sweep out from the broad shoulders that look incapable of holding the great grey beast aloft, and yet Vekhat is most terrible from the air. Her eyes are the lone point of colour, the colour of molten metal and just as luminous, they betray the power that coils in her blood, the infamous “ghost flame”, she can utter an invisible gout of heat that appears as less than a shimmer, beneath which flesh, bone, and steel melt like tallow.
Personality: Vekhat is a horrible monster, ignoble and cruel, a slaver and oppressor. In short she embraces the image of the tyrant dragon, and has the power to enforce it. There are plenty who believe that she suffers some terrible affliction that causes her scales to darken and her flame to be lightless, that her sickness drives her to greater heights of megalomania and madness. So far, no one has lived to prey upon this supposed insecurity.
Lair: To steal from the Ghost Flame would be an incredible feat indeed. Deep in a crevasse that opens into the molten heart of earth itself, a hollowed out cave of basalt and scoria accessible only by flight, or the twisted warrens of kobold servants, there is a palace of gold made of melted coin that she has fused into the walls. Fortunes in gemstones are embedded into the walls of gold, more flammable treasures are held high out of reach and protected from harm. Rumour would have one believe that behind that uniform golden wall there is a hidden chamber, a temple to a forgotten god who earned Vekhat’s hatred.
Minions: To fall in line behind Vekhat is to invite death daily. In addition to a legion of obeisant kobolds and dragonborn, adventurers who have forsaken civilisation for the promise of wealth, power, and glory find all of the above in her service as they lead the charge, laying waste to those cities and empires that fall under her shadow. She also commands a host of enslaved peoples who toil endlessly to strip every resource from their homelands in the name of their new Grey Empress.
An NPC – Tornil Marquet
The historian Tornil Marquet fosters a bad reputation for his approach to studying history. Discontented with digging up ruins and deciphering old texts, Tornil prefers to go straight to the source, digging up corpses and interrogating them through necromancy and black magic. His aim is not to disturb the dead or to summon up forbidden secrets, he’ll even accept his inevitable fate when death knocks upon his metaphorical door. He just prefers his history straight from the corpse’s mouth.
Description: Tornil is every bit the classic appearance of the necromancer, with fewer morbid adornments. He is thin, pale, balding, shortened by his hunched posture and advanced years, and yet they have not robbed him of his energy. Tornil is prone to quick movements, grandiose gesticulation, and long periods of time without sleep.
Personality: Persecution has made the old historian irritable and paranoid. His attitude towards strangers is brusque, almost aggressive, and he will vehemently defend his actions and methods against any aspersions cast against them, even imagined ones. Those he trusts are greeted with tea, but are otherwise treated much the same.
Home: A small tower in the Shadowfell, guarded by a solitary ghost, is a lone point of light in that endless plane of gloom and shadows. Doors on the ground floor of the tower lead to enchanted counterparts in inns and taverns across the material plane. The upper floors include a small library, study, simple bedroom, and a ritual room for conducting “interviews”. The skull “Wilfred” welcomes guests and intruders alike with cryptic messages presented in a hollow drawl, that often receive an argumentative response from Tornil.
Tornil is a bottomless well of historical knowledge, although he may not know everything himself, he can usually send groups off through the Shadowfell to talk to his own historical sources. He tends to request odd favours for his services, less interested in money than he is in unpleasant spell components, unsavoury artifacts, or more frequently information. He most commonly requests that the skull “Wilfred” be placed in various locations, such as the Historians Guild, or various churches around the world.
An Extra-Planar Threat – Crowns
The Bleak Eternity of Gehenna is a place of evil set free, an infinite expanse of darkness, reigned by four vast volcanoes, inhabited by devils, cruel gods, yugoloths, wandering liches, wicked lycanthropes, and twisted goblinoids. Tyrants and despots find homes here, many die here, but not all who fail to hold their power are willing to surrender their crown, forging on as disembodied heads that crawl on dozens of legs, balancing their crown upon their brows as a mockery of the power they once held, and yet still asserting their dominance over the weak willed who draw too close.
A Crown should not be encountered alone as it is broadly defenceless alone, but surrounded by half-witted and expendable minions it is a force to be reckoned with, possessing irresistible authority that it will enforce to achieve whatever mad goals it desires. These goals change daily, and range from overthrowing a competing power, claiming a body to be affixed to, or simply some unpleasant and immoral feast.
Small monstrosity, lawful evil
Armour Class 15 (natural armour)
Hit Points 72 (13d6 + 26)
Speed 20 ft
|STR 10 (0)||DEX 12 (+1)||CON 15 (+2)|
|INT 14 (+2)||WIS 9 (-1)||CHA 18 (+4)|
Skills History + 6, Intimidation +8, Persuasion +8
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 9
Languages Common, Abyssal, Giant
Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)
Innate Spellcasting. The crown’s innate spellcasting ability is charisma (spell save DC 16, +8 to hit with spell attacks). It can cast the following spells without expending material components:
At will: command, crown of madness
3/day: dominate monster
1/day: mass suggestion, geas (as a 9th level spell)
Summon Underling. (1/day) The crown may attempt to summon an ally to its side. It has a 20% chance of summoning a cambion, 20% chance of summoning an ettin, and a 10% chance of summoning a chain devil. The ally appears in an unoccupied space within 20 ft of the crown.
Bite. Melee Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8) piercing damage and the target must succeed on a constitution save (DC 16) or be poisoned for 1 hour. A creature poisoned this way is subject to the crown of madness spell.
Dungeon Situational will be taking a back seat while I work through a backlog of other ideas that have built up over the last few months, but will return eventually. I have plenty of other ideas for the series, but if there is anything you would like some inspiration on, or anything you would like to see from Dungeon Situational in the future, let me know in the comments section below, or on our Facebook page.