The in and out of character story of Dracontide

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The in and out of character story of Dracontide

Post by DM-Christian on Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:14 pm

I've been meaning to do this since the barrage of my discovering and then seeing to the distribution of the Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition headstart for our community.  Dracontide, mechanically speaking, purposely plays a lot like an MMO, and so almost nothing is lost by starting a new single player game (essentially a server reset) so long as your character themself is up to date and saved in your local vault.  That'll be a big help as we move forward with however much people want to play it single player, then hopefully transitioning to a publicly hosted game, then to build Weirdale itself once NWN:EE crosses the finish line of 1.0.  

We intend for Weirdale's module to be a vastly more accessible experience than Dracontide.  Paul and I had a long, productive talk recently where we confirmed each other's visions and intent, and laid down plans to facilitate a much more "worst-case-soloable" experience for everyone.  Let me make this very clear: folks running into snags in soloing Dracontide right now should not, by any stretch of the imagination, gauge their "skill at NWN" by how much Dracontide is kicking your ass.  Dracontide is a game from a different time, a game that was "trying to win" against powergamers in a game that had had all its prime builds figured out, a game that wanted you to take it (too) seriously.  We can turn down the difficulty, we can potentially edit a master, publicly hosted module if Beamdog gets their shit together in time for us to do that with Dracontide, but there's only so much we can nerf what is, in form and function, an extremely hostile environment to soloists, from a time when "you should have friends if you want to succeed."  It was, as we say, a different time.

But all of that mechanical knowledge doesn't help you know this world you all have in your hands to run around in.  Because it's built like an MMO, where every new game or server reset cannot be allowed to reset your progress as a player, there is only so much story the module delivers, because we can't use "one-off" quests like WoW does.  We told a lot of story via DM'ed events and our forums back in the day, and the current experience lacks that.  This forum entry will try its best to address that in an abridged but hopefully still entertainingly absorbed way.  Of course if you ever have any questions, asking them here or any other communication medium we have going is encouraged!

I shall be updating this thread in an ordered series of posts covering the past, the leveling game, and the late game aspects of Dracontide, and the lore you need to not be totally lost in a world that's... just "there."


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Part 1: The Past, and the blessings of the metallic dragons

Post by DM-Christian on Sat Dec 30, 2017 8:37 pm

When we say "the past," I mean the history of the Dracontide world of Aidar.  Dracontide is Weirdale's past in a lot of ways.  It is a previous chapter in an ongoing saga that now includes the world of Wish.  Aidar was the second NWN world to fit into this saga, and Dracontide the first persistent world module that I directed and organized the construction of with the help of a great many talented LARP and online gaming friends.  It is my hope and intent that a Weirdale module will be the second such persistent world module, constructed by our D&D group!

The history of Dracontide is fraught with one very potent and important theme: Dragons.  Dragons were, in the history of Aidar, the immortal rulers of the world.  It is not known if the world was simply the dominion of dragons worshipped in awe and fear when the gods came to smile upon it, but that is a plausible theory.  The gods did come at some point, and worked in close communication with the dragons, the pantheon of Mastraesa having within itself three dragon gods.  The smaller, more plentiful races of Aidar took the presence of dragon gods as a sign that the Mastraesan pantheon was the intended, all along present pantheon of Aidar.  The dragons did not mind this.  They were still feared, they were still loved, they were still dominant...

...Until that dominance became a problem.

The majestic Chromatic Alliance, protectors of many of the well intended, smaller races of Aidar, worked in harmony with these races, each dragon species adopting one of the most prosperous smaller races as their wards and beloved friends.  

Disciplined, serene Miragon the Brass, patriarch of his flight, took quite naturally to the desert griffon-like Avieds, making his lair beneath the deserts of Sora Tokai.

Kind, friendly Ferrel the Copper found a home watching over the "children of the world," the halflings of Dourgesburg.

The stalwart, hearty and grizzled bronze dragon known as Grandfather Thunder immediately made his domain the deepest parts of the Dwarven Kingdom, which his beloved allies  renamed after him: Thunder Hallow.

The ancient silver dragon warrior named Krystal, in the guise of a beautiful human woman, had fallen in love with a man who had just happened to be the heir to the throne of the righteous and wintery human kingdom of Thewsward.  She made her lair in their snow capped peaks, but spent much of her time seeing to the business of being queen to a nation of paladins that adored her and showered her with blessings in the name of their god Luthen.

Finally, Gothiel, the eldest and wisest of the flight of golden dragons followed the song in his heart to the ancient elven forest kingdom of Talatharon.  The elves welcomed the dragon with open arms, and used their considerable magics with his to move his palace in the clouds to the sky above their boughs, to share their upward glance with the sun itself, the symbol of their goddess Amalthea.

The metallic dragons discovered that they were, while in mortal form, physically compatible with the races allied to their cause, and the magic of these couplings would beget a seperate race entirely that appeared to be some kind of elf with metallic skin.  Demi-god-like majestic, these dragon elves would become the closest protectors of the dragons' respective lairs.  The metallic dragons also founded knighthoods belonging to their mortal mates and champions, each devoted to the special bond the the metallics shared with their allies, and the dsiciplines of wisdom and light that the dragons tried to bless their friends with.

Anyone who knows anything about dragons, however, knows that metallics are rarely the only dragons on a world attractive to dragonkind.  This was indeed true of Aidar, and perhaps to the ruin of all.


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Part 2: The Chromatic Empire, and the threat to all races of the bright world

Post by DM-Christian on Sat Dec 30, 2017 9:16 pm

It is hoped, for any world, that the people that live upon it can find prosperity and peace, but where there is prosperity there is envy.  Where there is peace and comfort, there are other eyes looking to dominate and steal all of that well meant hard work.  Not every race under Aidar's goddess-blessed sun knew the love of the metallic dragons.  Trolls, giants, orcs, bugbears, goblins, and other races and species of baser intent skulked and crawled in darkness, waiting for opportunity for foul play and pillage.  Humans who did not fit within Thewsward's bright ideals organized, as humans do in their brief, burning lives, to find a common ground in their unworthiness of "Luthen's light."  These races, these peoples found themselves their own "allies," allies that validated their defiant independence, allies that gave them hope that by force they might expand their dominion...

...For it was inevitable that these darker intents would be the siren's song to the equally selfish and malicious Chromatic dragons who were ruled, largely through fear, by the legendary might and rage of the ancient red dragon Ashreyna, ruthless Empress and matriarch to the Chromatic Empire.  In Ashreyna and in the Empire was the chance for the elves, dwarves, halflings, avieds and Thewswardian men of the world to know fear, to be destroyed, and so everyone who wanted that pledged their alliegance to Ashreyna.  Indeed, everyone not protected by a metallic dragonflight who wanted to live pledged their allegiance to Ashreyna as she demanded on pain of death, and her thralls hoped and prayed that she might live forever to see to the utter ruin of the haughty races beneath the metallics' shield.

Directly beneath (or depending on who you asked, beside) Ashreyna was her lord Marshal and general of her armies.  Cyclonius the blue, champion of Var'Duul, lord of the unliving, forged a knighthood of his own of ruthless and loyal men who walked in lock step with the Empire's ideals, just... doing it while wearing the iron hand of Cyclonius and their nation of Ximo, not the red dragon tabards of the Empire itself.  After all, Cyclonius, like all chromatic dragons, always had an eye on his future, no matter what that future entailed.

As if drawing their numbers from the likes of trolls and bugbears wasn't bad enough, Ashreyna and the empire could also count on the twisted monstrosities pulled from the corrupted nightmarish imagination of Chlorianara, the most mad of green dragons, and "mother" to so many horrific abominations.  Chlorianara claimed the island of Philoden and filled it with her twisted playthings, her "children," as well as her very poisonous presencs that wafted over the island in a green mist emanating from her lair.  Chlorianara was indeed responsible for the creation of "dragonspawn," a dark and far less natural parallel to the metallic alliance's race of dragon elves.

Dragons are known for their magic, and perhaps the most powerful sorcerer on Aidar was Khryos, an ancient white dragon whose ambition was only reined in by his legendary pining and lust for the Empress herself.  While the Empress Ashreyna found Khryos repulsive and puny, she made sure never to give him a definitive rejection, keeping him guessing, hoping and selfishly "loyal," if distant and busy on his iceberg attached to the island of Ghelidos

For every dominant female, there is one who fell short, who knows she herself is formidable, and deserves a place of power herself, who keeps her "friends" close and her enemies closer... just in case someone should happen to find themselves poisoned or otherwise assassinated.  Acrydana the black was such a creature, skulking on her swampy island of caustis with nothing but her legion of black dragonspawn assassins and the bugs that fed on lost souls for company.

While the metallic dragons wanted peace and prosperity for their wards and allies, of course their might and power would be called upon to defend them from the dangerous and unprecedented unity among fiends that the Chromatic Empire represented.  

Of course this would lead to war, sadly and destructively, beginning a dark chapter for Aidar...


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Part 3: The war in the sky that changed the world

Post by DM-Christian on Mon Jan 01, 2018 8:16 pm

The Gods of Mastraesa were and are a pantheon whose influence shone down over multiple worlds, including their home world of Krynn, the politically tumultuous world of Fayden, Dracontide's world of Aidar, and others.  As such, it might seem at times that the previously mortal lives of these gods would find them "distracted" as gods, not entirely focused on one world unless it was through the prayers of the people that relied upon their grace and power.

When those prayers turned particularly terrified, threatened and hopeless on the world of Aidar, that world got their full attention, and earning the attention of the Gods, more importantly the wrath of the gods, is something even dragons must fear.

And so it came to pass that all out war filled the skies of Aidar, flights of dragons tearing each other asunder, raining blood and monstrous bodies upon the land, dragonspawn and dragon elf felling each other from the heavens as draconic knighthoods of the smaller races defended homes and saw to the citizenry.  It was a slow-bleeding apocalypse of scaled doom that filled streets with terror and blotted the sun with massive and multitudes of reptilian soldiers.

The gods were extremely furious at this, and at one point contemplated simply wiping out dragonkind to teach them a lesson, but Argentia, Kargus and Adraxius, the three draconic gods, would plead the case for a different measure.  It was Relmar, keeper of the script and god of adventure who quieted the arguing by proposing a compromise: Give the dragons a chance to call a world-saving ceasefire, let their purported wisdom be seen as the salvation of the world, or their ignorance be the doom of their kind.  The gods agreed to issuing a single warning, and Relmar's champion, a prismatic dragon songstress respected by both armies named Harmony would be given the task of informing the warring dragons that the gods were not pleased, and that they continue this war at their own peril.

The metallics were mostly willing to immediately stop the killing.  Grandfather Thunder, ancient and stubborn, was almost willing to roll the dice that the war might be played out to rid the world of chromatics, and Krystal had inherited her husband's zeal to purge the world of evil, but Gothiel's warm wisdom received sighing nods of assent: This war must end.  Their wards were in danger.  

Unfortunately, Ashreyna simply was not hearing any warning by any god ever.  Truth be told, while not a champion or an officially pious soul, Ashreyna's heart beat with the hate of Reyanne herself.  The goddess of hate had a special place in her black, burning heart for Ashreyna, and that clearly manifested in the form of the red dragon Empress' unwillingness to stop killing until every metallic dragon was dead and the entire world part of her hoard.  Cyclonius tentatively agreed that annhilation of the metallics could continue... but he alone among the chromatics prepared for the worst.  Cyclonius was malevolent, tyrannical and vile... but he was not stupid, and as a champion of a god who ruled over the dead, he knew that if the gods were sending a warning, contingencies must be prepared, because the gods did not bluff.

...And, indeed, they were not.
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