image: Drakkenhall map by Lee Moyer, as seen in 13 True Ways
From the moment I read the description of this city in 13th Age, I was hooked. A city governed by one of the more questionable Icons, always at the brink of war with the rest of the Dragon Empire. A haven for monsters and otherwise outcast citizens of the continent, horribly corrupt and treacherous with half of the it being a ruin. The shadow of the Blue and the Black reach far here, the Blue’s rule going unchallenged and unquestioned. This place was teeming with stuff to tinker with, even before the release of 13 True Ways. When that book came out, it opened up a whole new world (almost literally), and made me anxious to someday have my players go snooping around whilst being waist deep in danger.
It looks like dreams do come true, every once in a while. My Saturday game group is preparing to pack up and head to Drakkenhall in search of the Deck of Many Things, which is a key item in the overarching story being told. As I devour the information that 13 True Ways provides about the city, I grow more and more excited. The nature of the city will definitely take off some tension that the strict rule of New Port offers (in my game). I would imagine that they have a lot of murderhoboing to get out, and what better place? What makes it even better is the whacky and sometimes illogical laws that may be instilled by the corrupt creatures that run this pile of rubble they call a city. The sessions ahead are likely going to be very chaotic, a stark opposite to the way things have been going lately.
Deliberately throwing important pieces of the plot in vastly different settings for the players to chase can really shake up a campaign. Most interestingly, the party will be looking for a friend, making information gathering as to where to find him very interesting. Talking with monsters isn’t exactly something most of the party does… well, Lisbeth does but that’s besides the point. General disdain towards player races in the city will certainly increase tensions, with the watchful eye of The Black’s special forces creating paranoia and fear further. Thankfully that’s not the only “politically official” threat the party faces and they may get wrapped up in something they didn’t intend.
A tantalizing bit of info I’m not sure what to do with at the moment is that the city was never seized. It was given to The Blue under some sort of shaky agreement under a previous Emperor. It’s made clear that Drakkenhall didn’t always bear the name or monstrous citizens, it was once a respectable and mighty city in the Dragon Empire that plummeted into ruin and decay. There’s something hiding in this city’s history that caused this all to happen, and hopefully that’s something we’ll see in the upcoming Book of Ages by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan. However, for now, all I have is my own creativity and speculation to fuel the way my players experience the so-called City of Monsters.
The Three from 13th Age
The write-up in 13 True Ways has plenty of both fantastic and mundane details about the city that I believe will help me do it some justice. Perhaps the best part about this write-up (and the other cities’ too) is the 13 rumors. This little segment is a Petri dish for a GM to grow little adventure cultures out of. It’s absolutely beautiful, and will certainly serve me by creating more problems for the players than they originally planned and bargained for.
To further that point, there’s a segment with any and all vested interest the other Icons have in the city. Things are going to get complicated during the players’ stay in The Blue’s humble abode and could possibly take up the final stretch of our campaign (levels 7 to 10). With the deck being the primary focus of their little venture, they still have the looming darkness on the horizon that took their home of Ald Sotha. Time is of the essence, and they may have to attempt to recruit some monstrous allies to gain the deck, take back their home from Ossen, a terrible Lich hellbent on usurping the Lich King and plunging the continent into an age long darkness. But more of that in the campaign summaries.
I hope this has inspired you to read up and maybe include Drakkenhall in your home campaign. The city is seemingly one large dungeon that an entire campaign from levels 1 to 10 could easily take place in. Extract the ore from this impeccable mine of a setting.
Stay Metal \m/