The Dragons' Claw Portals
By Robert Wiese
The Dragonjaw Mountains Portal
The Dragonjaw range is home to clans of gnomes, who make jewelry, tools, and inventions. They then trade these things and iron to the humans in the nearby city of Milvarune. A small number of copper dragons live in the mountains, too. Copper dragons aside, the presence of gnomes with gems and metals and other goods is a strong temptation, and Valraxaxath felt it behooved him to link this area to his portal network. The copper dragons might not be interested in his plans to bring more wealth to dragons, but plenty of blue, red, and white dragons find the gnomes not only good wealth sources, but tasty as well. Unknown to many in Thesk, a few chromatic dragons have moved into the Dragonjaws and have begun preying on the gnomes in a quiet way. The gnomes know, of course, and do not know where these new dragons have come from, or why their copper dragon friends don't know either.
The portal is located, like the others in this network, in the highest peaks. This one, however, is in a cavern that once served as the lair of a copper dragon. Valraxaxath killed it some thirty years ago. The portal is actually set in the cave opening to the lair and is triple the normal size for a portal. One uses the portal from the outside, and those arriving appear in the cave and depart through the portal aperture. This portal works four times per day, and, to reach any destination, one must activate it by a key. It is variable, with no default destination. Valraxaxath did not want anyone appearing in the cavern and then accidentally being sent somewhere dangerous.
The keys and destinations are as follows:
- The portal to the Small Teeth Mountains requires blood from a freshly killed (within the last 8 hours) humanoid or animal.
- The portal to the Dragonspine Mountains requires a spell cast at the gate to activate it. Any spell will do.
- The portal to the Forest of Wyrms requires a dragon's breath weapon to activate.
- The portal to Rethild requires Valraxaxath himself as the key; unless he uses one of the other keys, Valraxaxath always goes to Rethild when using this portal.
With few in the area even knowing that a problem is brewing, the new dragons have had an easy time starting hoards. They are moving slowly, because a rash of dragon slayers entering the hills would be bad for their plans. The gnomes have increased their defenses, but they are still working under the "lone dragon" paradigm, and they are in for a rude surprise.
How to Incorporate the Dragonjaw Mountains Portal Into Your Campaign
- A clan of gnomes can ask the characters to protect a caravan bound for Milvarune. Two dragons attack it at once. After the carnage, the dragons divide the spoils, and each takes a laden wagon and flies away. One flies to the portal and the other to a lair. Since the portal looks like the entrance to a lair, it might take the characters a little while to figure out what is happening.
- The Golden Way, the trade route between for Kara-Tur and Faerûn, ends in Thesk. It is a prime target for bandits, and some people notice a sudden rise in bandit-related activity. The characters are asked to patrol the region and keep the bandits from attacking the next caravan due in two days. Bandits do take the caravan, but they don't keep their wealth for long. The bandits have a lair in the Thesk Mountains, and the dragons of the Dragonjaws steal the stolen loot from the bandits' hideaway. The characters have to find the lost loot to prevent a major problem in the area, and the trail becomes quite complicated.
- Another creature, perhaps a spellcasting manticore or a gorgon, has discovered the portal here and one of the keys (choose based on creature used). It uses the portal to raid or maraud or spy at both locations. If spying, then it has some humanoid form that it can take. The characters somehow become involved; perhaps the humanoid form matches that of one of the characters. They must find out who the spy or marauder is and how it is getting to safety.