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During a visit to a tavern you notice a help wanted poster pinned to a board behind the barman’s counter. The poster is looking for mercenaries to retrieve six magical tomes from a ruined castle, located in a swamp a few days’ travel away. The reward is unspecified but negotiable and could be in gold, gems or other methods of payment. The bottom of the poster is signed by an administrator from an unknown noble family.
If you ask the barkeep about it, the man shrugs and says he doesn’t know that much regarding the job as the noble family isn’t from this region, but that he was given contact details to forward onto anyone who was interested.
If you get in touch with the administrator, the man invites you to meet him at the tavern come nightfall. When you arrive, you find the tavern completely empty with only a few candles lit, having been wholly reserved for the administrator. He is a lithe, blond haired man with green eyes framed by round glasses sitting at the back, enjoying an expensive repast of wine, cheese, select fruits and roast meats. When you talk to him, he smiles with uncannily white teeth.
The administrator welcomes you but makes no effort to share his plentiful food and drink. Should you request any he becomes offended and haughty. The man explains that the land the ruined castle lies on–from which you are to recover the spellbooks–was once prime farmland, but after a disaster, the levees burst, flooding the area and turning it into a swamp. You get the sense that this man is shady, but he tells you honestly that these days blackscale lizardfolk are common in the region and you should expect to encounter them while recovering the spellbooks.
If asked more about the tomes, the administrator explains that before its destruction, the castle held a great library within its undercroft. The grand treasures of this library were the 6 Tomes of Versig. They were believed lost to history until recently, and his master greatly wishes to add them to his collection. They add a unique perspective to battle magic said to be highly valuable in combat as it turns common tactics on their head.
Should you ask the administrator about his master, he says he serves a busy man who is a collector, which is why he sees to his master’s affairs instead.
After negotiating pay, the administrator claims you’ll be paid your full fee once you return with the spellbooks. Should you request pay now, he staunchly refuses; looking down his nose at you and disparaging the loyalty of mercenaries. He claims it’s not personal, but you will only receive your pay after he has the volumes and can see they haven’t been damaged by combat or the swamp. If pressed on payment in advance, he offers to throw in a bonus afterwards, once he has the spellbooks, as a compromise.
Heading off, you make your way to the swampland. When you begin to trek through the mire, you pass overgrown ruins from a village, and crumbling stone levees that appear to have been partially crushed in places as if attacked by a giant beast.
Reaching the ruined castle grounds, you encounter a group of blackscale lizardmen who attack aggressively. On their bodies, you might notice that burned into their shoulders is a draconic rune signifying that they serve the “Most Sinister One”. If inspected closely, you’ll note that the mark was made by acid, and the bodies carry a number of vicious scars, as if often beaten or tortured.
Making your way to the lower levels of the castle, you’re accosted by a black dragon who has made the ruin her lair, as well as more of her lizardmen followers.
The black dragon accuses you of coming to assassinate her on behalf of one of her dragon rivals, who have always hungered for her land. She hisses that it doesn’t matter, you’ll end up like all the rest. She’ll try to fly overhead, dropping a sphere of darkness and attacking with acid, before submerging herself into the surrounding ponds and trying to pull you in while her minions attack. The water pools are all connected by underground tunnels, so she can swim between them throughout the complex.
The lizardmen fight viciously to the death, seeming more terrified of what will happen to them should they fail, than of their demise. Should the black dragon die before they do, the survivors flee.
Once the battle progresses enough for the black dragon to see the possibility of losing, she begins threatening cruel tortures to try to intimidate you to give up. If that fails, she promises vengeance before trying to flee, using the water as cover.
After she is defeated, when you recover the 6 spellbooks, if you read them you find they’re not spellbooks at all but rather, books on the previous Lord’s genealogy, his taxes, and other mundane affairs.
Should you pilfer the dragon’s treasure hoard, among the treasures you find a worn leather journal which stands out to you due to its boring appearance amidst all the splendor. If you read it, the journal appears to have belonged to the previous Lord of the castle, and talks about his torments by the black dragon, Ohanix. It tells of how the Lord and his men drove her out of the swamp before the castle was built and the land drained for farming, when he didn’t know how cruel black dragon’s were. He spent his life building a prosperous village here, ignorant of her wrath. Ohanix waited until the Lord grew old, before taking her vengeance. She slew all his descendants and destroyed the levees; drowning many of the villagers in a great flood, and melting those who tried to climb out of the water with acid. Ohanix returned the land to a swamp and ruined everything he built, intentionally letting him survive to see her move into the remains of his castle, over the bodies of his dead family. At the end of the journal there is a significant amount of blood, suggesting that the Lord didn’t part with it and live to tell the tale.
Returning to the town for your reward, the administrator is nowhere to be found and the barkeep says he hasn’t seen him in days. The man doesn’t know where the administrator went, as–oddly enough–no-one saw him leave. But, anyway, on more pressing matters, there have been rumors of a green dragon glimpsed flying nearby! Can you believe it?!
The black dragon was in fact correct, unknown to you the administrator was a green dragon who had been plotting the black dragon’s end for sometime. He used you as pawns to get rid of her, so he could take over her territories.
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LUKE: The founder of Seafoot Games, Luke's been making maps and RPG games since he was a child, and spent over a decade creating his own game systems from scratch to play with his brothers. That was before he discovered other TTRPGs existed. Now, he paints the realistic grimdark fantasy battlemaps we're known for, helps write adventures as needed, and spends his free time printing and painting 3D minis, as well as working on his forever in-development TTRPG system.
BEB: Luke's wife, Beb's been writing, painting, and graphically designing things her whole life. She published her first book when she was 20, alongside a handful of sci-fi short stories, and was responsible for writing almost all of our adventures until mid 2022 when Steve joined the team. Now she mostly creates the outlines for the adventurer's guides with Luke, graphically designs documents, handles the bookkeeping (or as she likes to call it, bureaucrat wrangling), and manages the website—but she is slowly delegating these responsibilities, so she can focus on raising her and Luke's beautiful son.