If you are familiar with my show, The Dragon’s Horde, then you will also be familiar with the concept of “the sleepy dragon list.” For those of you not in The Horde, the sleepy dragon list is a bit of an albatross hanging from my dungeon mastering neck. In brief, it is a shorthand list of ideas that I have for items, adventures, NPCs, and such. Items on the list include things like “He thinks he is a werewolf. He is not” or “weird (sexy?) key.” Then there is the infamous “sleepy dragon.” It has dwelt within the list for nigh 4 years now, and I have yet to remember what the heck I wanted to do concerning a sleepy dragon. Despite this, I have continued to expand my sleepy dragon list with tons of narrative seeds to get a story on track. One of the most frequent questions we get on the show is from new DMs asking how to get things started. To this I say, ask no more, friends; Pendragon has 7 adventure introductions to get the creative juices flowing!
1) The Herd
In the city of Sherrack there is a small village nestled within a grassy basin. Here, traders and farm hands amble about their day selling, harvesting, and discussing the recent goings-on over at Gumby’s farm. As of late, the resident octogenarian and shepherd has had quite the ordeal keeping his flock alive. Every day or two several of his flock go mysteriously missing; stranger yet, more sheep emerge from the woods to to fill their place the following day. Little do Gumby’s neighbors know, that he had recently developed an acute fear of his impending mortality and has turned experimenting on his flock to find the secrets of immortality. And little does Gumby know that the Divine have their eye on him and have sent a couple watchdogs his way in the form of sheep whose wool cannot be sheared.
2) Maiden Voyage
The Briny Steed had seen much better days on the sea. Now it rests patiently in harbor, waiting for its next (and probably final) voyage. Through bribery, philandering, and “oh, come on’s” the wannabe captain, Earl Stoutheart has managed to convince the party to commandeer the vessel and sail it across the Scattered Sea. The gang lies in the belly of the ship, waiting for nightfall, but when the time arrives, they emerge to a sight most strange. The ship has already departed on its own accord and seems to be in command of its own heading. It is a ship’s turn to do some commandeering for a change, and the party is along for the ride of a now sentient maritime vessel.
3) Alcohol Poisoning
You haven’t heard of the Drinking Hat?! Why, it’s the finest saloon for miles around. Well, it used to be anyway. Built in the husk of an abandoned grain silo, the proprietors of the bar have converted it into a massive, multi tiered drinking house. Tubes snake their way from the mountain of barrels above down to the respective patron, but I wouldn’t go there if I were you. Recently, a group of thieves guilders met an unfortunate end after having their drinks. They could have chosen any number of barrels to sip from, but the poor sods must have gotten one that had been tampered with. Some say it was just bad luck, but I say differently. I say they were assassinated. On my honor as guild master Roan, those responsible for the death of my men will pay with more than just coins.
The bardic hall in Brint is known nationwide for being the home to more than its fair share of celebrities. The flying Charnelli twins. Finnigan the wondrous. Heck, even Mertick and his performing bear Bathsalts have stopped by on occasion. No one expected a show stopper from Cleopatra though, but a show stopper it was. Everyone assumed she would live and die as a modest tailor until she took the stage to sing. The issue is, no one will ever know how the show actually went, because no one ever left. The morning after her performance, the the owner of the hall found the entire crowd dead in their seats! She has since been arrested for murder, but she says she is innocent and they simply dropped dead in the middle of her act. Cleopatra’s head is on the chopping block, and your party may be the only ones who can prove her innocence.
Let it never be said of Matilda that she was anything but a saint. Known for her meek generosity, Matilda enlists the help of the party to help her with a job a little outside the capabilities of a sweet aged woman. The thing is, locals are tired of the stagnant water of the swamp nearby, and they plan on draining it completely. This is all fine and good for most people, but not ‘ol Matilda. She informs the party that she left a large cache of treasure in a lockbox somewhere within the belly of the marsh. Should they find it, she would be more than happy to give them a cut of the booty. The party drudges around in the murky waters, following Matildas instructions closely, but when they arrive, not only do they find treasure but also a corpse clutching the lockbox. Upon further investigation, it appears that the body is wearing a locket with a picture of Matilda inside. Upon further further investigation, the party hears a group of locals approaching. Upon further further further investigation, the party is discovered by the locals (Matilda included) ripping the lockbox from the arms of a dead man. “That’s Harold!” Matilda shrieks, “And that is my lockbox!” Turns out Harold had mysteriously disappeared a year ago, taking both his and his wife’s savings with him. Matilda weeps in the arms of the closest friendly local, but what’s that? Did she just glance over and smirk?
6) The Call Of Pazuzu
(I incorporate something similar to the following in each of my campaigns. This cult is kind of like my signature; I would love to know if this inspired an adventure of your own). Your party is headed off for a new adventure in unfamiliar territory. About a day from their destination, a group of naked elves and humans approaches with open arms. They inform the party that they are thrilled to see new faces and are about to, in short, start a celebration. Whether they join the naked folk or not, the party has to pass by the strangers’ camp which has a massive, half finished totem looming overhead. The nudists are busily gathering scrap wood to finish the totem, and they gleefully sing, dance, and try to rope the group into helping. Despite their cordial, unsuspecting nature, these individuals have been waiting a year for that particular night to summon their favorite pestilence demi-god, Pazuzu! An otherwise silver moon slowly begins to shift to a blood red crimson; then, with the totem complete, Pazuzu in all of her pestilent glory animates the statue and chooses it as her personal avatar. Whoops.
7) The Bane Of My Existence
The role of an effective storyteller can be a daunting task, especially since most of the work of a Dungeon Master happens in real time, but having good narrative seeds chock full of possible hooks and intrigue can make the job that much easier. Nothing feels worse than getting to the table and not feeling like you have enough content to work with; veteran and beginner DMs alike know this. Hopefully you can find ways to plant these seeds if you find yourself in a pinch, and maybe you can start crafting a Sleepy Dragon list of your own! A brief aside, if you come up with a cool answer to the Sleepy Dragon conundrum, feel free to tell me about it at TheDragonsHordeCast@gmail.com so we can feature it on the podcast!
Andrew Pendragon is a veteran role player, Dungeon Master, and story teller. His work can be seen featured on outlets like the Chilling Tales for Dark Nights podcast and Youtube channel BlackEyedBlonde, but he takes the most pride in his High Level Games affiliate podcast The Dragon’s Horde where he, alongside his co host, answers listener submitted roleplay questions and weaves them into a false-actual-play adventure!
Picture Reference: https://www.deviantart.com/legend13/art/Sleepy-Dragon-s-Teddy-275967993
I am become death, destroyer of worlds.