Many a Dungeons & Dragons player laments the fact that, despite the game’s name, they too often don’t encounter dragons in their sessions. Dungeons abound, yet dragons elude them. In the DMs Guild adventure Last March of the Tyrant Wyrm by Jean Lorber, you can finally present a dragon to your players. But this time it’s different. This dragon, despite his evil past, regrets his misspent youth and has one wish: to die. However, there are several interested parties who would rather see that he live. Even still, there are some who desperately want him to die…and not in the name of justice.
Last March of the Tyrant Wyrm
Writer(s): Jean Lorber
Publisher: DMs Guild
Product Length: 63 pages
Available Format(s): PDF
Tyrant Wyrm is a 63 page DMs Guild adventure for PCs levels 4 through 6 that will take 8 to 12 hours to complete. Billed in its introduction as a “journey of the spirit” this adventure is poised to test your players’ morality as much as it is their cunning and resourcefulness. This adventure goes beyond the age-old question of whether anyone is beyond redemption and instead leaves you wondering about the implications of such redemption, granted or not.
This adventure opens with a bang. In my opening paragraph, I mentioned the scarcity of dragons in many people’s campaigns. After playing this one, players will be able to say that they’ve literally seen a dragon fall from the sky. After a red dragon, named Scoriaptrak, crash lands in front of the adventurer’s, they will soon discover he is despondent and suicidal. I realize that makes it almost sound like an open and shut case. Suicidal dragon? Kill it and earn easy XP, after inquiring about its hoard of treasure, of course.
But as I’m sure you could guess, things are rarely so straightforward. Especially in D&D. There are quite a few people interested in keeping the dragon alive. For one, there is Kefleek, an aged kobold, and Scoriaptrak’s oldest friend. A group of good-aligned elves. A dragon cult (who wants to persuade him to resume his evil machinations). And, potentially, even Bahamut himself. Then there are a few who want him dead. There’s a necromancer who would love to add a reanimated dragon to her growing forces. And there is also a prowling blue dragon eager for a kill.
To play this adventure as intended, players must understand that its goal is redemption. They should feel compelled to help the dragon. The author introduces clever mechanics to work towards that goal (think of karma in Fallout, if you’re familiar with those games) with redemption dice. They can earn these dice each time they encourage NPCs towards redemptive acts that the dragon witnesses.
It’s explained in the backstory that Scoriaptrak was formerly despotic and greedy, but after spending 30 years of tortured imprisonment he realizes his former life was a life wasted. He’s lost his will to live. But dying simply isn’t enough. He needs to venture back to his lair and end his life there. Sort of like how the One Ring can only be unmade in the very fires in which it was made. He made a friend during his imprisonment (recently deceased which further aggravated Scoriaptrak’s depression) who aided in his awakening and, in the process, caught the attention of Bahamut. It’s up to the players to assist Scoriaptrak’s atonement (via redemption dice) as well as escorting him back to Mount Carnass. If they succeed, it will make the final showdown all the easier. Even still, nothing in this adventure is a foregone conclusion.
Aside from standing toe-to-toe with some of this adventure’s baddies (undead, a necromancer, a blue dragon, etc.) the real challenge here is in roleplaying the characters who will be caught in a complex web of motivations from all the many NPCs. Will they go the knight-in-shining-armor route and just outright defy anyone who stands in their way? (Bear in mind that keeping a red dragon concealed is no easy feat.) Or will they feel compelled to mislead, or ally with, evil to give their own plans a better chance? This is a great adventure that affords the players a lot of agency to dig deep into roleplaying their characters.
- redemption dice mechanic (similar to Bardic Inspiration and awarded to players each time they inspire the red dragon towards redemptive acts) for tracking Scoriaptrak’s progress towards redemption
- adventure guides players along nicely without railroading them
- lots of detailed information on successfully roleplaying a red dragon whose evil notions have mostly left him
- provided hooks are well-considered and versatile (i.e. for the greater good vs. personal altruism vs. “pertinent information” for advancing your campaign)
- Kefleek’s speech patterns are unnecessarily juvenile. Kobold or not, a character with a 14 intelligence shouldn’t be forced to speak thusly: “NO! YOU betray ME! I wait for you. All kobolds die, leave. I stay! For YOU! For Lord! And you come back! I so happy! I give you new plans! But you no care for me! You no want destroy, rule.”
- little to no background information on Scoriaptrak’s torturer and why a kobold has teamed up with a red dragon in the first place