Rivals of the Sun God, continued
Father of the Pharaoh
[It is assumed that in this case, the PCs have defeated the pharaoh, and disrupted the Ceremony of Sublimation.] This event is optional, and should only be played if the DM wants to challenge the PCs to their limits.
The party emerges from the pyramid, only to find themselves confronted by a very angry hooded serpent. Apparently it was the pharaoh's "time," and his father (the hooded serpent) had intended to use the Ceremony of Sublimation being performed in the pyramid, to consume the pharaoh. By defeating the pharaoh, the party has thwarted the serpent's plans. It attacks them immediatly, holding back nothing.
Modifications of the Ceremony of Sublimation are listed below (see Dragon Magazine #170: "From Hatchling to Immortal Guardian" for more details on the Ceremony of Sublimation). Text appearing inside of [ ] is information known only to the hooded dragons, and is not shared with their offspring.
The purpose of this modified Ceremony of Sublimation is not to further the dragon along on its path to Immortality, but to sustain it throughout the centuries providing the gift of eternal youth (in essence a form of immortality). Dragon spirits are not used during the ceremony, as the hooded dragons and their offspring have been branded renegades, and no support is given to them by the dragon Immortals. Instead the energy needed to power the ceremony comes from life forms under the dragon's control. Thus the Ceremony has a sort of defiler effect (as in Dark Sun) that over the centuries can turn the effected area into a desert wasteland. In fact this effect caused the formation of the Nithian Desert in both the Hollow World, and on the Known World.
The base chance for failure is 70%. This chance can be reduced by 1% for every 10,000gp of treasure stored in the complex (up to 100,000gp total), by 1% for each minor magical item, 2% for each major magical item, and 10% per artifact. Failure can further be reduced by 1% per every 10 levels of life force consumed (2% if the life force is draconic in nature). Thus a level 20 adventurer consumed by the Ceremony will lower the chances of failure by 2%, if that adventurer were draconic in nature it would be 4%.
Only beings that have willingly come to the complex can be consumed in this manner. For this reason half dragons often bring their own offspring to their complexes during Ceremonies so that they can be consumed. To succeed the dragon must roll (on a d100) above the chance of failure. A successful Ceremony will reverse the aging process by 500 years, plus an additional 100 years for every 10% over the level of failure that the dragon rolled. Dragons may succeed too well, and be reduced beyond the age of infancy, in which case they are lost. A roll that does not succeed will cause the dragon to age 100 years for every 10% that the roll is missed by. Thus it is, that timing is everything when performing the Ceremony of Sublimation.
The effects of the Ceremony actually take place rather rapidly. Items (and living beings) brought to the complex are consumed by the Ceremony in a matter of minutes. Life forces outside of the complex, but still within the dragon's radius of power, are consumed more slowly throughout the next couple of weeks.
At the completion of a successful ceremony, the dragon's age is reversed by 500 years (an extremely painful process) within the time frame of just a few minutes. During the next couple of weeks, as the Ceremony gathers life forces throughout the countryside, any additional age reversal is attained.
Omens of Coming
The Omens of Coming for this modified Ceremony are dire indeed. The surrounding land withers and dies. Crops fail, and heat and dust storms are on the rise. The very old, very young, or infirmed often die with horrified expressions left on their faces. Populations become weak, and may become infected with plagues.
The adventure ends at this point. The party can continue to explore the Hollow World, or try to find a way back to the surface. Either way adventures abound.
Copyright © 2000, John Calvin, based on material copyright TSR/WotC, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.