Wyrms of the North Felgolos, "The Flying Misfortune"
Dragon Magazine #238
By Ed Greenwood with supplementary material provided by Sean K Reynolds
It's not often that the famous explorer, mageling, and sometime travel guide writer Volo admits to puzzlement about something in the Realms. However, Elminster chuckled frequently over the bewildered notations, queries, and counter-notations in Volo's entry on Felgolos, a dragon known to some sages and long-lived inhabitants of the western Heartlands and eastern Amn as "the Flying Misfortune" because of his long career of crashing into things, causing mayhem, and appearing in the midst of draconic battles, clashes of armies, archmages' spell-duels, and other spectacular events.
Felgolos is a juvenile male bronze dragon of sleek build, unshakable curiosity, and unfailing good nature. He refuses to make enemies or to be prudent, and he wanders Faerûn, intruding on the territories of other dragons and venturing into situations of great peril (when Dragon Cultists have urged a dracolich into making its first raiding flight, for instance, or Zhentarim wizards riding feywings rise aloft from Darkhold in great numbers, to mount a spell attack on some hapless city or other). Through years of this sort of peering about in perpetual wonderment, Felgolos seems to have led a charmed life. Although he has often been hurt and even forced to fight or flee in earnest many times, he has survived poking his nose into one danger after another and continues to blithely do so despite many warnings (and threats) as to his fate.
Born to a pair of magically mighty bronze dragons who've since used their Art to travel to other planes (where, presumably, they still flourish), Felgolos was taught to experiment, to observe, and to play with magic. When other hatchlings were exulting in tearing apart their first cattle, Felgolos was tinkering with a "pluck-and-grab" teleport spell that could uproot trees and stumps at his behest, so that he could make fences around his own stolen herd of cattle. When other young dragons were raiding their first villages, Felgolos was lying atop crags using spying spells to look around villages and learn how these strange creatures called humans and half-elves lived. His parents encouraged him to go on independent forays. When he wanted to play, they cast spells that linked their three minds and then worked magic together.
This upbringing has given Felgolos three unusual qualities: a carefree self-reliance that steers him well clear of the treasure-grasping paranoia that afflicts so many dragons, a knowledge (matched by few elves and even fewer humans) of everyday life of all things on the surface of Faerûn, and a mastery of magic far beyond the norm for his age (Felgolos is the equivalent of a 14th-level sorcerer, instead of the 3rd-level sorcerer typical of most bronze dragons his age).
If he ever turned to evil -- or to any aim or scheme in a determined, persistent way -- Felgolos would be a formidable foe. He seems incapable of this sort of behavior, however, treating opponents he faces again and again as some sort of amusement "laid on" for him -- never as enemies to be hated, feared, or slain.
Instead, Felgolos spends his days wandering aimlessly about Faerûn, peering at this and that. He stops from time to time to feed or whenever he sees something that interests him and trades information about what he's seen with folk he meets for other news. Felgolos is without guile and never lies outright, though he's often cryptic and omits important things for pranksome fun or to protect those he considers his friends. Certain hermits, sages, Harpers, and isolated mages (from Malchor Harpell to Elminster of Shadowdale) are among his favorite hosts; they always have news to impart. Many of these learned friends, of course, aren't above using Felgolos as an information-gatherer, or aiming him (rather as one goads a goat, or obliquely suggests something to a restless child without saying it directly and thus being refused) at particular places or folk to have him "stir things up." Elminster, for one, admits to sending Felgolos to "annoy and crash through" the work of the Zhentarim operating out of Darkhold (one of the reasons the Black Network hasn't been more dominant in the Far Hills area) or to check on activity in the vicinity of Hellgate Keep and Hellgate Dell.
The sage Velsaert of Baldur's Gate (a rising authority on the history of dragons up and down the Sword Coast) describes Felgolos as "an eternal wide-eyed blunderer, ignorant of draconic etiquette and ways, but more learned in the doings of humans and treants and hedgehogs than the wisest sage alive." Elminster says that Felgolos seems almost not to think of himself as a dragon and to have no interest in others of his kind -- other than to regard bronze dragons as trustworthy friends on sight.
The archmage Malchor Harpell once commented that Felgolos "seems to have more bounce (buoyant good humor and optimism) than anyone I've ever known -- and probably more than any entity active in Faerûn today, short of Tymora herself." Certainly the adventurer Toross of the elves, known for his boundless energy and high spirits, tried to accompany the Flying Misfortune for a time (riding on his back, as a trusted friend) and later described the experience as "exhausting . . . his gusty high spirits wore me down as winter gales tear through leafless branches."
Felgolos has never shown any evidence of cunning or prudence, but great good luck seems to accompany him -- always preceded by clumsiness and a pratfall or two. He is said to be quick and expert in his use of spells, especially when surprised and attacked, but he seems to have few other accomplishments beyond sensitivity to the needs of others, wisdom in the ways of ail surface-world living things, and accomplished storm flying. He loves to ride the wild winds of gales, lightning storms, and even hurricanes. He never seems to take harm from the crackling aerial discharges or tearing winds, however, no matter how furious the weather.
Some sages have even advanced the theory that Felgolos is the avatar of "a sleeping god" or "a child of Akadi." No "certain death" dealt to him seems to be final, and no foe seems to be able to destroy him utterly, though he has been badly beaten many times. His typical response to these defeats is to forget about the battle -- though not who his foes were -- rather than to seek revenge. If there is some hidden divinity to Felgolos, or even just a favor of Tymora guarding him, the Flying Misfortune is honestly unaware of it.
Elminster says the secret behind Felgolos' astonishing survival dates from the twenty-odd years following the departure of his parents. They tried to keep him safe by offering his service as a steed to a certain archwizard of Halruaa, one Thongameir "Stormspells" Halargoth. Stormspells was a kindly old collector of rare plants and mosses who liked nothing better than to fly across half Faerûn looking at wilderlands, stopping for a picnic luncheon, scooping up a few specimens, and then wending his way home to Narthtowers, a mountainside keep in northern Halruaa that simply bristled with intelligent carnivorous bushes, vines, and similar deadly specimens. Felgolos was happy to take him on such "poking around seeing things" jaunts, and they got on famously -- despite several close calls, such as the time they landed in the middle of an encamped orc horde one night, or the time they interrupted a conclave of hundreds of gathered spirit naga in a jungle valley deep in Chult.
Such adventures made Thongameir aware that Felgolos could make them both far safer if certain spells were worked upon his draconic steed. So he cast a mighty and permanent manyfold magic on the bronze dragon. The spell's secrets have presumably, with Thongameir's death, been lost -- though some of their secrets may exist in written form, somewhere within the now-overgrown Narthtowers. Interested adventurers are warned that the plants growing there have slain several young and ambitious Halruaan mages.
It could be said that the Flying Misfortune has no true lair but rather a score of favorite sleeping spots. Most of them are shallow depressions in high mountain ridges, where he won't be disturbed. He does, however, have a few places where he keeps things, and some might judge these to be "lairs." In both the Thunder Peaks range and the Troll Mountains, Felgolos frequents mountain-locked high valleys where he can drink from lakes and keep free-ranging herds of stolen rothé, sheep, goats, and cattle for food. The one in the Thunder Peaks has a mountainside cavern large enough to hold Felgolos (if he crawls in) and some keepsakes. These include a huge canopied bed (for humans to sleep in relative comfort, if the dragon should bring them here), a small sailing ship (in case Felgolos ever finds someone who needs one), and even a castle drawbridge the Flying Misfortune once tore away from a fortress so that he could spill the mounted knights on it into the moat, one by one, after giving them an entertainingly wild ride in his claws as he dove, looped, and swooped around the battlements.
In another cave somewhere along the Sword Coast, Felgolos has a growing collection of wagons gained from Zhentarim. Whenever he swoops low to look at a caravan owned by the Black Network, its guards fire crossbow bolts or spells at him. The Flying Misfortune responds by snatching up a souvenir wagon, beasts of burden and all, and taking it away to add to his hoard. If it contains people (Zhents often transport bound captives under other cargo, and sometimes they ride in their own wagons, particularly when guarding precious goods) or food, Felgolos often empties it en route. Zhents are typically dropped into a lake after a terrifying dive toward its waiting waters, but otherwise Felgolos does nothing but store the stolen wagon. He doesn't care if others find his "ghost caravan" and pilfer from it. Indeed, he often plucks a wagon up to take to a traveler on the road whose own conveyance has lost a wheel or overturned.
In all of the Flying Misfortune's lairs one may find odd coins (even a chest or coffer of wealth in the "ghost caravan"), but Felgolos doesn't collect or value coins, gems, or jewelry.
Felgolos seems to be a contented loner, but he sometimes teams up with a bored archmage (even one of the Seven Sisters, perhaps, seeking a momentary vacation of sightseeing and prank playing) for an adventure or two, or even comes to Shadowdale or Candlekeep for aid. The sages of Candlekeep so value his knowledge that they now eagerly trade lore with him; Elminster or Jhessail can furnish him with a little spell-muscle or a human ally.
Felgolos roams Faerûn more or less freely, ignoring the territories claimed by other dragons or creatures. By and large, such entities have learned that it is easiest to ignore the intrusions of the Flying Misfortune; fighting or trying to entrap him always carries a cost, and the bronze dragon clearly has no intention of carving out a domain of his own, seizing treasure, or competing in any lasting manner for food.
The bronze dragon is, however, sensitive to the needs and desires of others, and he tends to avoid the home ranges of mated dragons whom he knows are rearing young. The danger of war, wizards' duels, and the like is not a deterrent to Felgolos, however -- news of such things is likely to attract him.
The Deeds of Felgolos
The favorite prey of Felgolos is any sort of herd animal he can swoop on from above when he comes upon them in his wanderings; he finds having to hunt deliberately for food to be tiresome. He doesn't seem to have any favorite spells, watering holes, or hunting grounds -- doing things differently (and recklessly) all the time is life itself to the Flying Misfortune. His lack of planning and prudence often leads to the mishaps that have earned him his nickname -- but it is fatal to believe that Felgolos never learns from his battlefield mistakes nor recognizes individuals who've done him harm in the past.
Felgolos spends most of his days wandering Faerûn, spying on the deeds of others, playing pranks on them or aiding them as the whim takes him, and looking for fresh fun (or at least interest).
Felgolos is famous for two things: tearing off the tallest tower of the Citadel of the Raven and using it as a club to swat enraged beholders out of the sky (after they rose all around him), and for the frame teleport spell he (or perhaps Stormspells) developed -- which he uses to enter (or partially enter, for a good look around) areas whose entrances are too small for his body. He has used this spell to eavesdrop on covert meetings of conspirators (in one instance posing as a "stuffed dragon head" on a wall), bedchamber conferences, secret priestly rituals, and even wizards at work on their spells.
Felgolos: Male juvenile bronze dragon Sor 14; CR 22; Large dragon (water); HD 15d12+45 plus 11d4+42; hp 169; Init +0; Spd 40 ft., swim 60 ft., fly 150 ft. (poor); AC 23, touch 9, flat-footed 23; Atk +19 melee (2d6+3, bite) and +14 melee (1d8+1, 2 claws) and +14 melee (1d6+1, 2 wings) and +14 melee (1d8+4, tail slap); Face/Reach 5 ft. by 10 ft./10 ft.; SA breath weapon (80-ft. line of lightning), breath weapon (40-ft. cone of repulsion gas), spell-like abilities, spells; SQ darkvision 400 ft., immunities (electricity, paralysis, sleep), low-light vision, Thongameir's master spell, water breathing; AL LG; SV Fort +13, Ref +10, Will +16; Str 17, Dex 10, Con 17, Int 18, Wis 17, Cha 20.
Skills and Feats: Concentration +20, Diplomacy +15, Hide -4, Knowledge (arcana) +18, Knowledge (history -- the North) +26, Knowledge (local -- the North) +28, Knowledge (nature) +22, Knowledge (nobility and royalty -the North) +20, Listen +16, Search +9, Spellcraft +29, Spot +13, Swim +11, Survival +12; Combat Casting, Expertise, Extra Slot (4th level)*, Extra Slot (5th level)*, Snatch, Spellcasting Prodigy (sorcerer)**.
Breath Weapon (Su): Once very 1d4 rounds, Felgolos can breathe either an 80-foot line of lightning or a 40-foot cone of repulsion gas. The lightning breath deals 8d6 points of electricity damage (Reflex DC 20 half). Any creature caught within the area of the repulsion gas must make a Will save (DC 20) or be compelled to do nothing but move away from Felgolos for 1d6 + 4 rounds. This is a mind-influencing compulsion enchantment effect.
Spell-Like Abilities: At will -- speak with animals; 3/day -- polymorph self (change to one new form and back per use). Caster level 14th; save DC 15 + spell level.
Spells: Felgolos casts spells as a 14th-level sorcerer.
Low-Light Vision: Felgolos can see four times as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar low-light conditions, and twice as far under normal light conditions.
Thongameir's Master Spell (Su): This powerful, enduring spell was cast upon Felgolos by the archmage Thongameir. It has three effects; all three function only against effects that are subject to spell resistance. If the attack is one that affects multiple creatures, other creatures are affected normally and Felgolos is unharmed (Thongameir's magic doesn't protect anyone other than Felgolos himself). Like actual spell resistance, Felgolos can suppress this ability when he wants to accept certain spells.
All Enchantment effects that would affect at Felgolos have no effect other than to cure a number of hit points equal to one point per spell level of the magical attack. Hit points in excess of his normal total remain for one day as temporary hit points. Successive enchantment effects simply cure more hit points or give him more temporary hit points (these temporary hit points do not stack with themselves, so if he is at full hit points and hit by a 9th-level Enchantment spell followed by a 1st-level enchantment spell, he has only 9 temporary hit points). Effects without a spell level do not give him hit points but still do not affect him.
All Necromancy magics cast at Felgolos have no effect other than to give him a limited fast healing ability for one day, restoring hit points per hour equal to 1 hit point per spell level of the necromantic attack. This effect has brought the dragon back from apparent death more than once. Multiple Necromancy effects do not stack; he gains the most favorable rate of limited fast healing from the attacks directed against him (so if struck with a 9th-level Necromancy spell and a 1st-level Necromancy spell, Felgolos heals 9 hit points per hour for the next day). Effects without a spell level do not give him fast healing but still do not otherwise affect him.
All Transmutation magics of 5th-level or higher cast at Felgolos have no effect except to allow the dragon to cast a single teleport spell (caster level 25th) at any time within the next day. Multiple Transmutation effects give him multiple uses of this teleport spell, each with its own time of expiration. Transmutation effects of less than 5th level have no effect whatsoever, but do not give him the ability to use teleport.
Water Breathing (Ex): Felgolos can breathe underwater indefinitely and can freely use his breath weapon, spells, and other abilities while submerged.
Sorcerer Spells Known (6/8/8/7/7/7/6/3; save DC 16 + spell level): 0 -- detect magic, disrupt undead, flare, light, mage hand, mending, open/close, prestidigitation, read magic; 1st -- alarm, comprehend languages, launch item, message, sleep; 2nd -- detect thoughts, fog cloud, Igedrazaar's miasma*, invisibility, protection from arrows; 3rd -- Mestil's acid breath, clairaudience/clairvoyance, tongues, unknown (presumably his healing spell); 4th -- arcane eye, improved invisibility, locate creature, scrying, spell enhancer; 5th -- Bigby's interposing hand, passwall, prying eyes, snatchport*, transmute rock to mud; 6th -- frame teleport (new spell, see below), true seeing; 7th -- teleport without error.
*This spell may be replaced by a teleport object.
Whim, curiosity, and a desire to revel in constant fun govern every act of Felgolos. He is likely always to find fresh trouble to blunder into, and he will always like helping creatures who are lost or in need. Sooner or later, such acts are bound to bring him his death, yet he has cheated certain doom so often that it is hard to say what, if anything, can destroy him. Perhaps the claims of sages about his divine nature are true.
The Flying Misfortune has always been interested in magic -- both watching others work it and experimenting on his own. He prefers to develop his own spells rather than to gain them from others via seizure or trading; however, spellbooks, spell scrolls, and magic items are among the few things the Flying Misfortune does like to acquire in his wanderings. Where he keeps them, no one knows.
About the Authors
Ed Greenwood insists that only Elminster knows which gates link our real world with Toril, Oerth, and Krynn. He does admit that he's wandered the back streets of Waterdeep more than once in the Old Mage's footsteps, though -- and he has a bathrobe that reeks of truly strange pipesmoke to prove it. Elminster said that the torn and patched blue terrycloth was the only clothing Ed owned that was good enough for his debut in the City of Splendors.
Sean K Reynolds is a game designer, computer artist, and philanthropist currently working for Black Isle Studios in Irvine, California. He prefers a shower to a bath. You can find more about him at his website, www.seankreynolds.com