Friday, July 2, 2010

The Wyvern of the Well

The Grey Palace and the Eminent Cathedral loom above Vornheim like a pair of claws reaching for the moon. Between the two of them, there is a square. In the center of the square, there is a well. At the bottom of the well lives The Wyvern.

The Wyvern of the Well is both wealthy and wise. For reasons now lost to history, each citizen of Vornheim has the right--once in life--to climb down into the well and demand the answer to one question from the Wyvern.

In exchange for this (always correct) answer, the Wyvern demands 700 gold pieces and will, in turn, ask the questioner one question.

What the Wyvern does with the answers thus accumulated from the people of Vornheim (or the gold, for that matter), or why it--being, apparently, omniscient--bothers to ask, is unknown.

Naturally, the questions asked of the Wyvern tend to be personal, local, and, of course, petty. How can I get this, will she like it if I do that, how do I get more whatever. It is conjectured that the Wyvern, knowing--as a consequence of its ancient, strange contract or curse--the innermost hearts of the people of Vornheim, despises them for the myopic schemers they are. However, no-one wants to blow their one question asking it.

Some philosophers speculate that the Wyvern is cursed to know nothing except the answers to whatever questions the people of Vornheim will one day ask to know and what they tell him. In which case it is likely that the Wyvern went mad long ago.

10 comments:

  1. Awesome stuff. I love to see monsters with cool and mysterious epic backstories. Something more than just an appropriate stat-block for the PCs to rub out. You made me think of the Sphinx and the plight of Thebes. I also like that its a Wyvern and not just another Dragon. Why is it people don't dig Wyverns? Personally I always thought they had more monster-cred than Dragons anyway, what with the poisoned tail-barb and all... :)

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  2. The Hero(s) the Legends speak of will be the only person(s) to have asked The Wyvren TWO questions!
    Time to TPK, rez, and BAM, your players are more special then when they started. I think I'll do this.

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  3. That's awesome!
    and it looks really cute too. in a creepy way. Does the Wyvern of the Well also have wings? it must be uncomfortable having wings when you live in a well

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  4. How much is 700 gp in your game? That is-- maybe I missed a post on DnD economics-- but that seems like a good price for low level adventurers, but a devastating price for your average city-person...or well, depending entirely on your in-story economy.

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  5. @mordicai

    700 g.p. is a devastating price. But then, so's college.

    Which is perhaps why so many citizens ask things like "How do I make 100,000 g.p. in one night?"

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  6. So... couldn't someone conceivably ask the wyvern what its deal is? Or does it always slip out of the question through some trick of logic, like "'Why are you in this well?' 'To answer questions.'"

    I guess a lot would also depend on the kinds of answers it gives. You said they're always true, but that doesn't mean they are comprehensive or practical. "'How do I make 100,000 g.p. in a one night?' 'Find someone who will pay you 1 g.p. every time your heart beats.'"

    I'm also curious what kind of thing it asks in return. I imagine either very mundane, nonsensical things ("Did you leave your hearth burning this morning?") or life-altering, soul-searching insights into the very being of the citizen ("Is your father a good man?").

    Can a citizen lie to it?

    (not intending this as a barrage of questions; I think this is an awesome idea and honestly want to hear everyone's thoughts)

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  7. @Chris

    -Someone could ask the Wyvern why it's in the well, but would YOU blow your one chance for an education on that?

    -In the tradition of genies and sphinxes everywhere, the Wyvern always gives the lamest answer it can get away with.

    -To see what it asks in return, you'll have to wait around and see what happens when Frankie met it during a game.

    -Can a citizen lie? Maybe. Depends on why the Wyvern is asking the question, whether it actually is omniscient, and several other factors left to the DM.

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  8. Thanks! In answer whether I'd ask the Wyvern that... in one of your sandbox games, no. But I can see a player doing it.

    Yeah, that's how I'd run it too. I imagine these sorts of things to not just possess knowledge, but covet it jealously.

    Actually I'll be more excited to see what Frankie asks it.

    If the theory the Wyvern only knows what it's been told is true... I dig the idea that for every question it's ever been or will be asked, it has asked the question of someone else in order to give the answer. Thus, once in a great while the Wyvern is actually wrong, because somewhere in the history of time someone decided to be a dick.

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  9. Neat! I have to wonder... did the cool wyvern mini inspire the background story or did the story already exist and the wyvern mini is just a bonus?

    (Sometimes I come across minis that are so well designed they seem to have an already existing mythology chiseled into their surfaces.)

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