Last time I introduced the Airy Peaks, talked about the premise of this megadungeon, and the way I found to have a successful campaign around a megadungeon that lasted. Check that out here:Welcome to the Airy Peaks. Today I want to dive into the Dragon’s Plot and how that can help inform the story of the megadungeon known as the Airy Peaks.
The Dragon’s Plot
From last time, we know the fearsome dragon Eyetog is trying to become a death god – some dragons just have ambition after all – and he already has a plan for how to do it.
- Consume a god of death
- Collect enough energy to ascend
- Fashion himself a body that can hold the energy of a god and infuse that energy into the body over time
Each of these tasks has its own complications or if it’s already been done, has left an aftermath of some sort in its wake.
Consume a God of Death
Gods are no joke, even to mighty dragons. I knew this when I started planning it out so I just decided it had already happened and the gods of this world weren’t super important, only that a death god wasn’t around anymore. It could possibly be a clue later in figuring out what Eyetog was up to, and maybe a clue in determining how to stop him. In the end the Dead Gods of the world of the Airy Peaks became a living breathing part of the campaign, inspired and created by one of the players at the table because of a move on their playbook. I took that inspiration and we went pretty crazy with it. That led to the story of a god of death of a mostly forgotten pantheon of gods having been summoned by Eyetog and then consumed in a great battle within the Airy Peaks.
I didn’t have that when the campaign started. I did have an idea that magic was weird in the Airy Peaks and that the barriers of existence were thinner. What I didn’t have was a why for that. I like having whys. It helps when players ask questions that need answers. It means I have something I can improvise on. The death of a death god and the fight this god and Eyetog had were a perfect reason for the oddness of the magic in the Airy Peaks, at least the reason the barriers of existence were thinner. There is another reason magic is so bizarre in the Airy Peaks and I’ll get to that right now.
Collect Enough Energy to Ascend
Energy is not the easiest thing to come by and when you need enough energy to become a god we’re talking about over-the-top amounts. I also didn’t really want it to be a timer or anything in this campaign. When the characters finally got to the dragon I wanted it to be a throw down with the worst thing they’ve ever run into in this game, not something they could really thwart without having to fight it. This meant the collection of energy had to be a story beat and an oddity of the Peaks.
I also had this vision of the caverns of the Peaks all being suffused with a low level of light radiating from the very stone of the surfaces, casting the characters in an orange glow. With that imagery and the idea of needing a ton of energy I came up with this:
The Airy Peaks are a giant soul battery. Anything that dies within the mountain and it’s nearby outskirts has its soul drawn into the stone of the Peaks for Eyetog to consume as he grows.
Deciding this made two things make sense for the setting.
- Magic is weird because there’s so much ambient energy around, so wild effects can occur pretty regularly.
- There’s always this low level glow in most of the caverns. If there’s not it’s because some other magic is suppressing it or that part of the mountain has died for some other reason.
Fashion a Body and Infuse it with Energy
I needed Eyetog to not be involved right away – at least not his dragon form – so I decided he was sleeping on his giant horde of treasure somewhere in the mountain. I decided he was doing this because to become a death god you can’t just suck up a bunch of energy in five or six minutes. If you did that you’d explode. I mean someone else could just decide that is how it is but it didn’t work for my personal head-canon or for the playability of my setting, so I decided to go that way.
Once I decided this I asked myself, “Well, what happens if a party of adventurers finds his lair? Do they just stab him in his sleep?” Probably not. If this dragon was smart enough to come up with this idea, he’s probably smart enough to protect himself.
Now I get to where the rest of the monsters in the complex come in. Eyetog needed help, so I gave him assistants and guardians. A lot of them actually. Then I wanted a story for why these guardians would even come here and help Eyetog. I also needed a way for more monsters to replace the ones who were killed by adventurers. I mean part of the plan is to feed souls to the soul battery of a mountain. So how to solve this problem? The White Fangs and Many Eyes.
The White Fangs and Many Eyes
The White Fangs are one of the aspects of Eyetog’s personality that he learned how to split off and give a semblance of sentience. These White Fangs are a spiritual entity. They can communicate, grant power, and invade the dreams of creatures of a less savory morality. This is the way Eyetog can reach out into the world to recruit creatures for his plan. He invades their dreams, finds out what they desire, and offers it to them in exchange for service. He’s essentially making Faustian deals with many creatures, luring them to the Peaks — one such creature is Many Eyes.
Many Eyes is actually a decrepit entity that’s lost the use of their body, has become feeble, bitter, and yet, they can see everything. This creature has a power to manifest some eyes and control the eyes of any creature it kills. These eyes that float about – often in a swirling mass or flock – allow Many Eyes to see everywhere, can fire eye beams with a large variety of effects, and can phase through solid objects as if they weren’t there at all.
Eyetog promised Many Eyes a functioning body as soon as Eyetog achieved his goal of godhood, in exchange for helping keep an eye over his Airy Peaks. Many Eyes serves as spymaster, informant, general, and horrible adversary to any who would oppose the dragon. The worst part is no one knows that Many Eyes’ true form is that of a feeble old body hidden deep within the Airy Peaks. There, behind a metal monstrosity of gears, fire, and magic, Many Eyes watches, plans, and moves the machinations of the White Fangs forward — all while hoping to someday soon have personal autonomy once again.
Two of Many
The White Fangs and Many Eyes are just two of the many creatures which exist in the Peaks, but all of them have reasons for being there. This is just giving creatures reasons to exist in places. It can help with improvising a game or having interactions when you’ve decided you need a different beat in your game since you just had four fights in a row. Then again you can just dispense with all the reasoning and just put those monsters in the way for your players to bash and let the story come from there.
Next time I wanna talk a little about the Airy Peaks’ overall map, and the numerous caverns that exist within. Until then I hope you find a little adventure in your lives and let me know what you think of the Airy Peaks so far.
The header art is by Drew Smith