Tag Archives: fantasy

Treasury of Games: Dragon Altar

A cliff overlooking the eastern sea, six miles from the town of Layton (known for the roast boar prepared at the inn of the Bowman’s Pony), “Dragon Altar” is said to be where kings and queens of old were joined together by no lesser officiant than a true dragon. A weathered stone monument at the highest point describes the ritual in the ancient tongue of dragons. Only a few scholars can read the marks in this fallen age, but the ritual not only binds two souls in matrimony, but involves the dragon’s pledge to protect them and their lands. Since it is said that when dragons pronounce their own speech, the words are magic itself, enforcing the truths pronounced by the dragon, the ritual is thought to have made a mystical connection between the dragon, the monarchs, and the land. Some scholars believe this accounts for the reported longevity of these ancient rulers, when they were not killed in battle.

Sadly, dragons have been absent from the land for many years. When the king from beyond the eastern sea came with his men and ships and the power of foreign gods and conquered the land, his people knew nothing about the traditions linking the dragons and the kingdom, save that dragons were in service to their enemies. Then, later, the remaining dragons were seen as feral menaces to be eliminated, because they had lost their connection with the land and the people had forgotten the traditions which would have made dragons their allies. Now, dragons are legends, and haven’t been seen near these settled lands in generations.

Weddings are still held at the Dragon Altar cliffs, though, in front of the slab where the words most cannot read are inscribed. High ranking officials of the land travel to these cliffs to be seen honoring the old traditions, not knowing what those really were. If a pair were to find a true dragon and enact the true wedding ritual of this altar, they could obtain a connection with the land which has been absent for centuries. Besides being able to command the loyalty of a dragon, the lands belonging to a pair so mated will be blessed with fertility (as will the pair themselves). The humans in the bargain gain the ability to properly pronounce the speech of dragons, and thus perform magic in their way. The dragon gains the ability to transform into a human at will, and may dominate the minds of any humans who owe loyalty to the pair it is joined to. The three may speak to each other in the tongue of dragons at any distance as well, though they may not lie in that speech – for attempting to do so will levy a curse, because peaking in dragon language makes magic, and speaking lies in it will thus twist the speaker. Dragons might learn to lie to each other without twisting themselves, but between those bound by oath at Dragon Altar, the oath ensures any lies among the three will be punished. Some possible ways the liar might be twisted:

1 Hears all speech as lies.

2 Sees people who are not there occasionally.

3 Fails to see people who are there occasionally.

4 Can’t hear people who aren’t first perceived by another sense.

5 Colors are muted and hard to distinguish.

6 Both eyes change to random colors, and hair changes color and natural shape.

Ian Price is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem.

Treasury of Games: Annihilation Pool

There is a shallow pool (just deep enough to submerge a person of average height to the shoulders) in a tidal hollow, ten miles from the nearest town. The location is known to a sect of monks who revere the place as holy.  They make spiritual journeys to the place as a form of ritual purification. The monks know the place as the “purifying tide,” but the rest of the locals call it the “annihilation pool.”

The pool itself is clear, and fresh water despite the tide flowing into it again and again. No animals exist in it, not even their bones, not even insects or other small creatures. Any which stray in vanish and are never seen again, and most instinctively stay clear. People fare differently. When a sentient being enters the pool, the magic in it reflects the person’s inner desires. Because nonsentient animals are entirely a collection of hungers and needs, they are consumed to feed the magic. People have a variety of desires, though, and some are less destructive than base selfish hungers. Surviving a dip in the pool requires either a buddha-like freedom from all desire, or an outward-focused altruism or protective desire which sacrifices the self in favor of the good of others. The monks who regularly visit the pool are sometimes entirely hairless – this reflects early failures to achieve a freedom from all desire before entering the pool. However, all the surviving monks have at least eliminated most of their earthly desires. Entering the pool with any selfish earthly desires in your mind causes it to burn like acid, consuming you from the outside in. The stronger your desires, the more of you is consumed. The best of the monks with complete divestment of their earthly desires have no scars because entering with no desires at all is simply a pleasant bath.

A dip for a truly altruistic or heroically protective individual is different: the pool will deplete some of its store of magic to heal and bless the character who meets these criteria. Wounds up to and including recent death (within the past day) can be healed, and the blessing conforms to the others-focused desires the character holds. If the character is generally altruistic, then from now on, they gain a small amount of luck (about +5% chance of success) whenever their action would help someone else. If their desires are to protect someone or something, then the blessing applies only to that endeavor, and is more powerful for being more focused (more like a +20% chance to succeed at appropriate actions). This aspect of the pool is not well known, and only the elder monks know of it; with a very good relationship with said elders, they will share the story of a man who fell in battle protecting the town from coastal raiders. His grieving loved ones took his bod to the pool to set it in there to be dissolved, hoping to keep it out of the hands of the raiders who would have disrespected him by stringing his corpse up to discourage others from fighting back. However, the pool’s magic reflected their pure love and respect for their guardian, and his love for and desire to protect them in return. He was restored to health, whole and hale, and returned to town and drove the raiders off for good. The healing effects have also been noted from time to time on monks who are more kindhearted and generous in relieving the suffering of those outside the order than usual (not all in the sect believe in this practice, but some believe that relieving suffering is necessary to ultimately free the world from harmful desires).

Ian Price is the creator of Kitsune: of Foxes and Fools and Bad Decisions, and has contributed to the Ghouls, Carthians, and Chronicler’s Guide books for Vampire: The Requiem.