I’ve drank at the Inevitable three times. The first time was after the troll charge on Hearra Keep; a claw missed me by an eyelash and killed the warrior next to me. The second time was after surviving a shipwreck on the Little Daggers coastline; things in the water there would make a devil think twice. The third time was heartache, and tonight, tonight I drink at the Inevitable because I turned fifty and surely death now rides at me full tilt. So come, sit, drink—tell me how you cheated death and why you’ve come for an ale at the most perilous bar in the world…
The Inevitable is a short fifth edition scenario that challenges four 2nd- to 3rd-level characters, and it includes the alehouse drake, a creature from the upcoming Tome of Beasts book from Kobold Press!
There is a tavern in a remote corner of the world that claims to be the most perilous place to drink in the known lands. Though it has many names, most call the place the Inevitable. It is built inside the skeletal remains of a slain ancient red dragon; the main bar is located in the beast’s ribcage, and the walls make use of the dragon’s sturdy bones. The front door is through the flank somewhere just above where the leg meets the hip. The bar itself is made from a polished shinbone; the stools are knuckles and the benches are scavenged vertebrae from the neck. All of this makes the Inevitable an impressive place to drink, but what makes it the most perilous is this: the slain dragon’s mate lies in deep slumber only a few feet away. The sleeping dragon will wake, and when it does it will see a bar built in the corpse of its companion and it will bring the end; it is inevitable. Today, warriors and heroes travel to the Inevitable as a pilgrimage when they have avoided certain death. Perhaps the PCs have made this journey after an adventure of their own, or perhaps they stumble across the Inevitable in their travels. You may locate the Inevitable where you wish.
Adventure Element A: NPC
Barkeep Ramus (Barbarian, 10). Beery philosopher, fatalist, claims to have supped with death itself, wry smiler.
An enormous man stands behind the bar; the tankard he cleans looks ludicrously small in his meaty fists. His face, shoulder, and arm are badly scarred from fire and when he smiles it always appears as a wry grin.
Ramus built the bar after he’d heard of the extraordinary circumstances of the slain dragon and its slumbering partner. A veteran adventurer and survivor of countless battles, Ramus has no illusion about his future if he remains here. He believes things happen for good reason, and rarely intervenes if conflict occurs in the bar. If his tavern is seriously threatened, he throws the troublemakers out in a rage.
Adventure Element B: Thazzy the Alehouse Drake
The Inevitable is the home of a very friendly alehouse drake with a tendency toward mischief. What she enjoys most is misleading the gullible, and she does so at every opportunity. Thazzy and Ramus have an understanding, and the two get along well. The drake often uses its calm emotions ability to diffuse tense situations or help a patron through a bad night. Thazzy welcomes new faces enthusiastically, often with a free drink and a mouthful of lies and tall tales.
Adventure Element C: Stories Told and Heard
One compelling feature of the tavern called Inevitable is the dearth of stories being told. The patrons of the place are universally adventurous types, and their stories often turn on near misses and luck. Countless adventures await PCs that converse with the Inevitable’s colorful characters. Conversely, the place is an excellent stage for the PCs to tell their own tales. All Charisma (Performance) checks made while telling a tale gain advantage in the Inevitable owing to the bar’s epic location.
Area 1: General Description of the Tavern
A square two-storey building has been built inside the ribcage of a slain dragon. The main floor serves as tavern capable of seating several dozen patrons. The chairs, stools, table, and bar are all made from draconic bones. The bar’s entire north wall is formed entirely of tall shutters, opened to look out upon a fearsome sight; a sleeping red dragon lies a stone’s throw away—its chest rising rhythmically as it dreams. A fat drake flaps about the place and grins broadly as you arrive.
Except for Ramus the barkeep and Thazzy, the bar is empty on the night the PCs drink at the Inevitable. A few minutes into their drinks, four shaken travelers arrive and sullenly sit at a table near the door. They are another adventuring party, who, after listening to Thazzy the drake’s lies, attempted to plunder a nearby abandoned temple. Their quest went badly, and the four of them have been dominated by an immensely powerful lich who now uses the poor souls as thralls. Upon learning of the bar and the sleeping dragon nearby, the lich has sent the adventurers back to the Inevitable to act as its eyes and ears. When the quartet enters, read the following:
Into the bar arrive four disheveled travelers: a female elf in robes whose long unkempt hair is decorated with leaves and twigs, a human male in mud-caked armor, a female halfling whose bisected cloak hangs by a thread, and a male dwarf recently separated from his ear.
All stand awkwardly before abruptly taking a seat near the door. A DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check made while observing the newcomers reveals that their movements are jerky and sudden; rarely do two move at the same time. Attempts to communicate with them result in unblinking stares. A DC 12 Wisdom (Insight) check reveals they are behaving as though they were puppets.
Ramus is not phased by the arrival of the adventurers. Thazzy flits up to a bony rafter and watches them for awhile. They do not order drinks. After a time, the elf walks to the window looking out onto the sleeping dragon. She stares at it for too long. Eventually the elf turns from the window and begins screaming at a tremendous volume.
Thazzy dives toward you in a panic, the elf’s horrible screaming ends abruptly, and she begins an arcane incantation.
“I didn’t think they’d actually go in there! Bad, bad spells!”
The drake shakes its head and the elf ceases her casting; she seems calm for a moment before wheeling to face you.
“Such trouble,” mutters the drake. Ramus stands perfectly still behind the bar—he stares off, lost in reverie.
Ramus is paralyzed by the lich’s foul magic. A DC 10 Intelligence (Arcana) check reveals the elf cast a spell at a very high level; the elf is considered silenced for the first 2 rounds of combat. Thazzy begs the PCs to help her defeat the lich’s minions and offers them a great treasure if they do so. The elf (druid), human (thug), dwarf (priest), and halfling (spy) fight to the death. Faced together all at once, the four thralls offer a deadly CR 7 encounter. To scale down the challenge, the lich may control only two thralls per round. The uncontrolled take no actions or reactions on their turn. The thralls otherwise defend themselves normally. Thazzy can assist the PCs, or she can busy herself with waking Ramus. As the enemies are slain, each say a single word to form the sentence “I will have all.”
The adventurers carry basic equipment relevant to their roles. The priest’s holy symbol has been desecrated by the lich using several obsidian gemstones (3 x 10 gp gems). Ramus rewards the party with free drinks and a room for the night. Thazzy is very likely to provide the PCs with a tale of treasures and adventure suitable for their level; she may exaggerate a little.
What happened to the hoard of treasure normally found near sleeping dragons, and how was it removed without waking them? Where did Thazzy send the dominated adventurers and what further actions might the lich take now that it has seen the sleeping dragon? Does Thazzy accompany the PCs for a short time, leading them to promised adventure—and certain peril?