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The Dragon's Lair

by Sean Meaney

Sheb the Dragon Slayer positioned himself above the natural chimney and looked down. The narrow shaft dropped a hundred feet straight into the Dragonís Lair. Indeed he could see the beast sleeping. There would be no need to confront the Kobold hordes who guarded the caves.
Sheb stepped off the edge with the Spear and locked his boots into the stirrups at the base of the iron head as he descended with increased speed toward the slumbering foe.
The power of the impact severed the Dragonís head from its spine and smashed Shebís legs. The Beast twitched until it was still leaving the broken warrior lying on a bed of gold, smiling through bloody teeth. He wondered if there was a Potion of Healing hidden in the small horde.

A Dragonís Lair should never be that easy to penetrate. Such a vault represents hundreds of years if not millennia of occupation by Dragons. In a way the Dragonís Lair is its Ultimate Cultural Artefact Ė but if that is the case, why is it a bare cave with nothing more than a Pile of gold when the PCs show up?

RANK: 0
DRAGON: Small White, Small Black
DESCRIPTION: This is the Lair of a young Dragon. These Small beasts have access to first level spells and any Magic Item they might have in their small horde. They must rely on Charmed Minions armed with small magic items to keep an eye on the surrounding territory and alert them to any threat.
They can detect and discern the nature of any Magic Item that comes their way. They can read magic and other scrolls and written documents.
They are most vulnerable when asleep and will balance the safety of having their lair entrances guarded by other monsters against the prospect of being attacked by those Monsters. If it were abandoned tomorrow Ė there would be little sign that a Dragon was ever there.

RANK: 1
DRAGON: Small Green
DESCRIPTION: This Lair is out in the open; its Young Dragon has the ability to employ charmed minions with small magic items, Read Spells and non Spell Documents, Detect and Analyse Magic Items, With access to second level magic It can sleep in the open invisibly, and It can directly observe its Territory using clairvoyance without the need to break cover. Certainly it could easily be abandoned.

RANK: 2
DRAGON: Small Blue, Large White, Large Black
DESCRIPTION: This Dragon Lair is the first to be considered a magical Artefact. Apart from enchanting common magic items; the Lair Ė Treasure can be stored on permanent Floating Discs out of reach and invisible, The Walls of the Cavern can be enchanted as a Crystal Ball or a camera obscura allowing real-time observation of pretty much anywhere with access to second level spells.
Dragons being a cheap bugger, this cultural Artefact will likely be only usable by a dragon cutting the enchantment cost. Mirror Images and Invisibility allow the Dragon to pretty much shift his image by fifty feet from where it really is even when asleep. Charmed minions can be armed with Small Magic items.

RANK: 3
DRAGON: Huge White, Huge Black, Large Green, Large Blue, Small Red
DESCRIPTION: This lair is a more powerful version of the Rank 2 Lair. The Dragon with access to third level magic might arm Charmed or un-charmed Minions with Light magic, but the Horde will have Magic items of increased power. Wands of Lightning bolt, or Fireball will accentuate the ordinary breath weapon. Spending more time awake, the Camera Obscura increases the volume of intelligence coming in to the Dragon. It can be protected by a network of wet wells and air chambers.

RANK: 4
DRAGON: Huge Green, Large Red
DESCRIPTION: Even with the Camera Obscura, the Charmed and Un-charmed Minions armed with Magic, and the Armoury of regular Magic items, it is never enough. With access to fourth level magic these lairs can have Dragon only port Keys allowing movement into inaccessible or walled off caves. The Dragon might have set up a fake lair lined with ice or fire walls and nested with some charmed monster that likes the climate, the Dragon lair concealed behind a lair populated by Ice or Fire Salamanders or some other charmed monster. Hallucinatory Terrain changing the very reality that the PCs perceive beyond the very limits of the Lair.

RANK: 5
DRAGON: Huge Blue
DESCRIPTION: This Lair is enhanced by the Dragonís Capacity to create Constructs of up to 18HD in Power as Guardians for its Inner Sanctum. An Army of Golems who will tear Intruders a new behind. Invisible Monstrosities and Mechanical Drolems who can pretty much devour an Adventure Party. Charmed Monsters and Minions, armed with Magic, the Capacity to see you coming the instant you pick up a sword and swing it make this Lair a horror in the Making and the Dragon a force to be reckoned with.

RANK: 6
DRAGON: Huge Red
DESCRIPTION: This lair is a horror. With access to fifth level magic, the Dragon has the capacity to enchant flying lairs. Giant Invisible Wooden Egg-shaped fortresses hovering over the land where the Red Dragon makes his easily located home from which he can strike anywhere in the World. The Lair still armed with Guardian Constructs that will make your PCs fear that they are about to anger a Wizard, Secret Vaults carved in the heart of mountains accessible using dragon only teleport stones, used as prisons and vaults anywhere in the world or beyond.
Armies of Undead can be deployed at the Dragonís behest to assail kingdoms given prep time. With Magic Jar the Dragon can effectively become any NPC to whatever outcome he/she so desires Ė including King. The Lair itself can become everything/anything.

THE GOLD DRAGON
RANK: A
DRAGON: Small Gold
DESCRIPTION: The Small Gold Dragon can pretty much pass itself off as a Name level Fighter or a Wizard of up to 6th level allowing it to pretty much apply for Baron or Lord in any Kingdom, or set up its own, Craft Minor Magic or even his/her own Camera Obscura/War Room allowing everything to be watched and observed.

RANK: B
DRAGON: Large Gold
DESCRIPTION: This applies to the Large Gold Dragon who is a somewhat more powerful version of the Small Ė now passing as a 7th-8th level wizard or name level fighter with Titles and Dominions but able to craft Magic Items, Camera Obscura Surveillance Systems.

RANK: C
DRAGON: Huge Gold
DESCRIPTION: The Huge Gold Dragon can enchant flying Ships of Wood passing themselves off as Wizards of Considerable Talent but also moving to a mobile Lair. Likewise armies of Guardian Constructs to guard the Castle and wage war with enemies all watched and guided from a Camera Obscura/War Room; and at the heart of it a Dragon with intelligence on every little secret.

Given the Level of Power commitment a Lair Represents to a Dragon, is it any wonder then that the Kingdoms waging War in your Campaign could just as well be Gold Dragons going at it with the Most Powerful Reds in some terrible conspiracy that even the PCs at their highest ranks will be pawns in.
Now consider the Power of the Immortal Dragons...the sort of angry ball of rage who could enchant a flying mountain and land it on your kingdom from space.