RQ Item #1: The Bottle

The depths of this well-sealed green bottle sparkle with a dim light, but not brightly enough to stand out. Its strange, fluting shape gives it an exotic look; the ancient label is in Auld Wormish. A rough translation is "Old Dragonewt Sweat. Bottled in Dragon's Eye by dragonewts."

The bleary old stranger who offers the bottle for sale knows little of its origins. It's a good vintage, from the South he thinks; he found it, or was given it by a kind lady, or won it in a card game, he can't remember. But he'll sell it for only 100L -- okay, 50 -- 10 -- one lunar, then, but no lower! He wanders off into the night.

Detection spells show that the bottle is faintly magical. Experimentation may reveal that it is virtually unbreakable: it has 50AP, 100HP, and regenerates lost HP at a rate of one HP per strike rank. It is impervious to heat, cold, and acid. The bottle contains an intoxicating and delicious green liquor. Its pleasant flavor masks a powerful kick: each drink has a cumulative POT 10, which does not take effect immediately. Ten minutes after drinking, the imbiber must roll CON vs the total POT of drinks taken. Failure results in deep, restful sleep.

But in sleep, strange dreams may come. On waking, the blurry-eyed imbiber sees a bizarre sight: a pink, transparent Scout dragonewt sitting nearby, watching him.

Some people see pink elephants; thanks to this bottle, the PC sees a pink dragonewt. But there's one problem: everyone else can see it, too. Dragonewts are bad enough when they're merely physical...

The dragonewt calls itself P'thurkk, Burrabit, and ocassionally Varuthan Varoshtok. It is entirely insubstantial: matter does not pose a barrier to it, and neither magic nor weapons affect it. It can cause a very faint physical sensation on living flesh if it wishes, but cannot move material objects.

The dragonewt can float up to five meters above ground surface, and at will can sink out of sight under the ground. In any case it cannot travel more than 30 meters from the PC who drank the largest quantity from the bottle, and if the PC tries to move away the dragonewt is dragged along.

In human terms the dragonewt is insane, of course. In that regard it's quite normal for its kind. But there's something more about it...if it were any other creature, it might be called a sense of humor. It goes on ghostly, comic rampages, imitating strangers -- it can stretch and distort itself hugely, though it rarely maintains a strange form for more than a few minutes. For added fun it can dive under the ground and reach up through their boots to tickle the feet of PCs, passers-by, angry soldiers, city guards...

But the dragonewt doesn't go too far. It amuses itself, and may get the party into embarassing situations; still, in the secret recesses of its mind, it means as well to the party as a dragonewt can (which would possibly be a frightening realization for the PCs). If they are in real peril, the dragonewt will do what it can to help -- in its own way.

The dragonewt can talk, but it will never convey its thoughts in a clear or readily comprehensible manner.

Surprise! One week to the day after the dragonewt first manifests, a second pink dragonewt appears -- this one apparently of the Warrior class. Its behavior is much the same, but less frenetic -- and its sense of humor is more suited to its nature. It amuses itself by startling people, or shadow-stalking them. In every other way, its abilities and limitations are the same as the Scout manifestation.

One week later, a pink Tailed Priest Priest joins the pink band. As weeks go by, more join the throng: another Warrior, a Scout, another Scout, a Warrior...most of these have little to say, although they're active enough.

The PCs may or may not realize it, but they are witnessing the full life-cycle of an individual dragonewt: its climb up and down the evolutionary ladder from death to death. Once its 137 lives are all present, no additional manifestations appear.

The Story: Some years ago a dragonewt managed to offend the Inhuman King. For no reason comprehensible by human logic, all of the dragonewt's many lives were somehow made insubstantial and imprisoned in a bottle, which was hurled away far from Dragon's Eye. Until the dragonewt and bottle return to that strange city, the dragonewt is cut off from the Dragon Path.

However, due to inexplicable draconic logic the dragonewt cannot tell anyone this; if it does, it loses all chance of restoration to the Path. It must somehow convince the PCs to return it and the bottle to Dragon's Eye.

If the PCs refuse or fail, they have a new long-term problem. If the dragonewt falls completely off the Dragon Path, its incarnations begin to disappear at the rate of one a week, starting with the most recent and ending with the original Scout. It's possible that this process could be hurried in some way, but that would likely require A) magical experts who would require a lot of money, or B) a minor HeroQuest.

If the PCs take the bottle and dragonewt back to Dragon's Eye, they will not be killed or permanently maimed. They have a chance to interact with many, many dragonewts, and earn the gratitude of P'thurkk (who re-manifests as a normal-looking Scout). The gratitude of a dragonewt can be a highly disturbing thing, of course! Depending on the effort made by the party to achive this quest, additional rewards may be given. The gift of friendship with all reptiles is possible, for example: forever after, all non-intelligent reptiles in their vicinity seek out and befriend the PCs. This is highly disturbing in areas with poisonous snakes -- the snakes would never bite the PCs, but it's hard to sleep with a rattlesnake cuddled next to you...

It's possible that some valuable metals or gems might be thrown at the PCs in Dragon's Eye, too -- with a liberal admixture of any other substance imaginable. And if the GM wants to introduce a long-term weird element to the campaign, the PCs might even gain P'thurkk as a slave/companion for the rest of its life.

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Copyright 1997 by Peter Maranci. Revised: October 20, 2000. v.2.0