What would happen if heroes failed and the title villain comes to power in Rise of Tiamat? Fifth edition Dungeons & Dragon’s first storyline, Tyranny of Dragons, is truly epic. It sees the characters clash with multiple chromatic dragons of great power to prevent the rise of their goddess, Tiamat, from the Nine Hells. As with many D&D campaigns, I imagine most of the groups that played through this adventure are victorious… but what about those who were not? What happens in that version of Faerûn?
The end of the adventure offers three inspiring paragraphs about what becomes of the world and how to continue the story if the characters fail to stop the Cult of the Dragon from summoning Tiamat. These three paragraphs got my brain going and inspired me to continue the tale, setting the stage for a campaign set in a Faerûn were dragons reign!
In this new world where Tiamat rules, chromatic dragons hold all the power. A decade after their dragon goddess’ rise, dragons have laid waste to almost the entirety of the surface world and parts of the Underdark with no special treatment for the mortals in the Cult of the Dragon. The cult burned with the rest of the world. The dragons let Faerun run wild and different chromatic dragons rule the regions where they are most comfortable. Mountains, ice, marsh, lava, and more have taken the place of mortal settlements. Here, dragons spend their days hunting, feasting, searching through ruins for treasure, and battling against each other for dominance. It all pleases their goddess, who revels in the chaos the world has created.
Despite the violence of dragons, all still bow to Tiamat. It was under her leardership that most of the world’s metallic dragons and giants were killed or driven into the Underdark. Tiamat keeps her consorts and most loyal subjects close and can assemble an army of dragons at nearly a moment’s notice. Her ultimate goal is to snuff out the few remaining bastions of mortals who stand against her. Tiamat knows these humanoids nearly stopped her rise to power and must snuff out all who defy her.
Desperate Bastions of Mortals
All Faerûn is not lost. While most mortals died in the acids, fires, poisons, snows, and storms of dragons, there are those who survived. Waterdeep stands thanks to Ahghairon’s dragonward, a powerful enchantment that keeps dragons out of the city. Here the Council of Waterdeep still meets to discuss rationing supplies and what to do with all the city’s refugees. Every day in the overcrowded city people starve, disease spreads, and the people threaten to tear themselves apart. The council can barely hold Waterdeep’s walls together, let alone come up with a plan to send Tiamat back to the Nine Hells.
The situation in the Underdark is not much better. Evil humanoids, like drow and duergar, illithids, and criminals like the Xanathar Guild that call the place home were unwelcoming to those brave few who made it into the dark tunnels, slaughtering or enslaving those who entered. Even communities of svirfneblin and myconids sealed their entrances, fearful that dragons were not far behind the surface refugees. Despite all this, there are places within the Underdark where surviving surface humanoids gather and try to take shelter, constantly wary of hunting dragons and other dangers within their new, terrifying home. Many of the communities that survived the last ten years have a metallic dragon or giant leading them, but even these places experience loss more often than not.
A Spark of Hope
The odds against mortals are overwhelming. How could they hope to survive in a world ruled by dragons, let alone fight back? On the tenth anniversary of Tiamat’s rise, hope comes in a strange package. A devil from the Nine Hells appears in Waterdeep, demanding to see the council. The fiend claims to be a messenger of Bel, former lord of Avernus, first layer of the Hells. Bel wants to see Tiamat returned to Avernus and knows of a way to do so… but can the characters trust the disgraced devil prince? His words are the only hopeful ones to be spoken in years…
You Can Play in this World!
I was asked to create an adventure for me to run at small convention… in France… in a castle… with other awesome dungeon masters like Jeremy Crawford, Satine Phoenix, Ruty Rutenberg, Orion Acaba, and Tim Mottishaw! If you’re interested in playing a game in this dragon-dominated Faerûn (or in a different adventure created by one of these amazing DMs), then check out the event! I will be running a game in this world there.
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