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Day 3: In which I slowly learn that buying Forgotten Realms is like pissing away money

Day 3: First dungeon you explored as a PC or ran as a DM.
Hmm… my memories here are a bit foggy. I think it was either the first dungeon from the Starter Set or the one from the Forgotten Realms campaign setting box. The first one was nice, the latter taught me that FR is horrible.

No, come to think of it, it was the one from the FR set actually. (from the book on Shadowdale in the boxed set: “Beneath the Twisted Tower”)

The Forgotten Realms seemed to be a good idea at the time. Most of the material that was translated at all was set there, if it wasn’t generic, and the boxed set was one of the first products then-current AD&D publisher Amigo translated into German.

Of course once I actually read the whole thing I noticed what a strangely incoherent place the Realms really were. In my youthful ignorance I thought it might play better than it actually looked on paper, but soon after I noticed that no, sometimes you can’t polish a turd.

I don’t even know anymore what exactly made me think that way, there were so many things wrong with it in many subtle ways. Political systems didn’t fit together, cultures were in weird places in relation to each other, sometimes expies for Earth-cultures were doubled or tripled (how many Egyptian cultures are there actually on Faerun?), and everything was full of overpowered showstealing munchkin NPCs.
I ran the guys through the dungeon in Shadowdale and killed off one of them. Hilarious antics followed.

Well. I don’t know. The problem was that the Realms never clicked with me.
I did buy a few more products afterwards, but never really used them. I suffered from a bit of scarcity-induced gamblers’ fallacy: I already spent so much money on stuff, lets try to buy some more to get something out of it! And the fact that the only things I could get for AD&D were Forgotten Realms things didn’t help.
It never got better though. The Harpers sourcebook showed me that there are even more showstealing NPCs around, the Cult of the Dragon was bland like cottage cheese, only the Guide to the Underdark gave me some ideas for some fancy monster lairs. I think that one was the only one I ever used, and then it was for a campaign set in Mystara.
FR kept on being bland and untinteresting and pointless. Oh, but the computer games were a bit of fun. I played Baldurs Gate and a few of the SSI games.

Hmm… I guess that was not what people want to hear. On the other hand I killed my first PC in that scenario, but that is a story for another day.

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[Traveller] Dragonhunters of Trane

Dragon, by Hokusai.

Dragon, by Hokusai

Okay, this is some wild scenario I put together for my last Traveller session. I think it was quite a success, mostly because the players loved the chance to go hunting dragons with a Grav Tank. Also, a few times, when the dragon really came close to ripping of the armor of the tank, one could hear this certain panic out of their voices…

Dragonhunters of Trane

There are dragon in the wilderness of Trane.

The planet mostly lives of fishing and whaling the imported sperm whales. The local wildlife is not necessarily dangerous in most cases, except for one: dragons.

The Trane “dragon” is an amphibious quasi-reptilian predator, looking similar to oh-so-many other “dragons” in charted space. Even before the human settlement came about it nearly grew extinct due to lack of resources, and then was hunted even further down by the early settlers. For some time it seemed like the creature was completely extinct aready.

This changed with the introduction of sperm whales into this environment. With the success of this experiment the sperm whales were left to multipy nearly unchecked, only slightly decimated by the small industrial whaling of the planets inhabitants.

This also proved to be a new resource for the near forgotten predators: Within a short time the dragons multiplied again to unprecedented levels. Even worse: with the new food resource being larger than the previous ones sizes of the predators increased as well over time, with the largest and strongest members of the species favoured over the others. This turns out to be rather to the disadvantage of the dragons themselves. While the smaller and shorter members of the species can fly (or at least glide) in the low gravity of the world, as soon as they reach a certain size they loose this ability due to pesky physics interfering.

The landbound dragons are the prime reason why nearly everybody on this planet, despite it’s otherwise rather peaceful demeanor, is carrying a weapon when travelling farther from the shoreside wilderness. People might not actually lock their doors but they will keep their guns ready to defend themselves against now near-starved dragons. One of the bigger specimens of dragon now obviously has found an alternative foodsource that matches the whales it cannot reach anymore: Something is slowly raiding automated cattle compounds of the Sorenson Agricultural Products company.

As the cattle compounds are lying in a rather calm inland patch, far from the dragons’ coastal habitat, this is rather a surprise. But not a big one. Jorn Sorenson (AA7669), owner of SAP LIC, needs something done about this: his faclities are mostly automated, and even with their normal weapons at hand he and his few assistants might not be able to do anything against a dragon as big as this one.

He needs help.

He needs some dragon hunters.

He is just on the way to ask for offworld assistance when he notices that the travellers, one or two of which should have a background in the military, are currently on the planet. Or maybe he just left a note at the local bulletin board asking for someone to give some asisstance. “Dragonhunters needed. Contact J. Sorenson at Tranhavn Imperial Hotel”

The dragon, it turns out, would be rather big. Bigger than any dragon encountered so far. That’s why they decided to bring in the big guns. Which might be a problem in this case: the local weapon shop (there is exactly one on the planet) does not actually have anything bigger than a rifle. Why would anyone need anything bigger on this world after all? Nothing ever happens here and for any normal dragon a gun is enough.

If the travellers don’t have any big guns on hand there is a way though: old Cranky Holly, an ex-Army collector of tanks, is living somewhere in the North, close to the Arctic circle, playing war against himself. But he might just borrow them one of his tanks if they ask nicely. After all they might use it to hunt the largest dragon ever seen on this world.

If it was really a dragon. It’s not. Instead it is a group of alien (Aslan) pirates (they call themselves privateers) who have decided to use a coastal cave as their base of operations for short raiding trips to the surrounding systems. Mostly to Romar. They are currently in waiting for a specific convoy from the Hierate that should arrive soon. They have it perfectly planned out how to raid that one. And if they do they might get enough dustspice to buy themselves an own planet somewhere. Their reason for the raids on the cattle compounds is rather simple: meat. They like meat. But they have been holed up in this place for a while and really really are craving anything else but fish. They have a small base of operations somewhere on the coast (they ARE pirates after all) and just sneak out to raid cattle from the SAP. They figure that they can blame it on the dragons and even go to lengths of leaving artificial footprints whenever they do that. They figure that until anyone can really bring in big gae hunters from outside they should long be gone. [one clue that it’s not really one of the dragons they completely missed when creating their dragon hoax: according to the footprnts at the raided sites the dragon would have have gotten away from the compound by lifting off, carrying multiple cows somehow; the characters might find that out if they look a bit more closely]

Not that this would be the first thing the characters will notice about the dragons. Because there are some big dragons breeding close to the SAP facilities. But they aren’t as big as the one that is supposed to raid the cattle compounds. Of course they only might find out AFTER they just nearly got killed hunting down the dragon that is there: “Sorry but this dragon could not have done it. It’s feet are about 30% smaller than the ones we found.”