The Dragons' Claw Portals
By Robert Wiese
The Small Teeth Portal
Creating portals is expensive and requires costly materials. Thus, Valraxaxath needed a portal near a trade center where wealth was prized above all things. The Small Teeth Mountains in the south of Amn were perfect, and they are the home of a great blue wyrm, as well. Valraxaxath uses this site to trade with the people of Amn in Murann, and he has not slowed down at all even when the ogre mages took over this area. Rich caravans also provide a good source of treasure for hoards, and dragons from far away come to hunt riches in these lands. They can also use it to escape pesky adventurers who chase them too closely.
The portal is set in the mountains high above where most of the humanoids live. The portal is a triple-sized variable portal that uses keys to select each destination. The portal itself sits in a ring of natural rock hanging below an outcropping and can be reached only by flying creatures. If creatures fly through the portal and it is not active, they crash into the side of a rock face, which is extremely painful. It opens only four times a day.
The portal's default destination is a cavern deep underneath the Peaks of Flame in Chult, and those emerging from it come out in a spot far enough from the exit that those without knowledge of the area are not likely to find their way out before salamanders and other fiery creatures attack. These battles tend to happen quickly since the portal transports the creatures to this cavern while it transports all of their equipment to Valraxaxath's secondary hoard in the Wyrmbones (south of the Shaar). The spell analyze portal can show that the Small Teeth portal has several destinations, but it focuses only on the Small Teeth destination.
The other destinations link to the rest of the Dragons' Claw, and each has a key as follows:
- The portal to the Forest of Wyrms requires a dragon's breath weapon to activate. Breathe through the gate as you approach, and it sets for this destination.
- The portal to the Dragonspine Mountains requires a spell cast at the gate to activate it. Any spell will do.
- The portal to the Dragonjaw Mountains requires the user to speak the word "gem" in Draconic.
- 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.
The local humanoids, especially those in the ogre mages' armies, have noted green and white dragons flying out of, or into, the Small Teeth in the past year or so. Often these dragons return to the mountains laden with wagons in their claws. They even have reports that red and green, or green and white, dragons are cooperating. One survivor of a dragon attack says, "Two great beasts acted in concert, cutting off escape and countering our attempts to kill one or the other with distractions or devastating attacks from the rear. I survived only because the beasts thought I was dead." Tensions in the region south of the Small Teeth are increasing, but the all-out dragon attacks that some fear have not materialized. This is because Valraxaxath needs to maintain relations with his trade partners here, so he restrains the other dragons somewhat. North of the mountains is fair game for dragon raids.
How to Incorporate the Small Teeth Portal Into Your Campaign
- Player characters could stumble across two or three dragons attacking a very large caravan. The dragons flee or carry off the goods to the Small Teeth. Local lore reveals that at least one of the dragon types is not indigenous to the area, and the merchant hires the characters to track down her missing goods.
- Valraxaxath is having trouble with copper dragons in the Dragonjaw Mountains near Aglarond. Appearing as a human wizard/merchant in Murann, he asks the heroes to travel to these mountains and investigate the rumors that evil dragons are masquerading as copper dragons and disrupting the work at the gnome mines. Coincidentally, some copper dragons are playing tricks on the gnomes that look very suspicious. Valraxaxath (not using his own name) tells the characters how to use the portal to get to Aglarond, but leaves out the part about them having to fly to use it.
- A silver dragon flees two reds and uses the portal from the Dragonspine Mountains to the Small Teeth. The silver is near death, but the PCs find her as she plummets to the earth (scorched, of course). The reds disappear back through the portal. Before dying, the silver relates to the characters that the two mountain ranges are linked and suggests that they try to close the portal before more reds come through. Unfortunately, the silver does not have that great a memory, and was rushed anyway, and so she cannot recall where the portal is located.