An Outbreak of Dragons

December 18, 2010

I was just thinking about how to combine fantasy with body horror.

What if monsters are an infection?

So it’s late medieval times, the Black Death (that horrid outbreak of monsters) is long gone, and nobody’s seen a dragon in a century. However, there are a few families that keep practicing the dragon-slaying arts, teaching them to their children in case the wyrms ever return. But the siege weapons that were once used to bring down the great flying beast are all ancient and rusty. And with only 20+ people who know how to man them, half of them ancient themselves, and no officials manning their posts who know shit about how to conduct a quarantine after a dragon has been slain, nobody is ready for what’s about to happen.

Gravediggers and treasure seekers uncover part of a mummified dragon corpse deep in the desert, with the insides still fleshy and warm. Soon they are infected, turning into scale-covered beast-men with mouths full of fangs and a hunger for raw flesh. Many of them are slain in grisly street battles and entire cities are put to the torch and the sword, attempting to stop their spread, but it is too late. A few escape deep inside desert caves, where their scales molt off and their true form emerges.

The dragon-slaying families go to work, their rusty skills now the only chance of halting the disease. But they are hampered at every turn by kings and bureaucrats who think they know better or want to be heroes. When a dragon attacks Jerusalem and is finally brought down, no quarantine is declared, even though half the city is splattered with dragon blood. The sultan himself has the heart of the beast roasted and brought to him on a platter, the fool. Soon the holy city is teeming with monsters.

Somebody’s going to have to put an end to this, and nobody but the old slayer families and a few enlisted allies will do it. But that will mean enforcing the quarantine on their own, including killing some of their brothers, sisters, and kinsmen who become infected over the course of their messy job.

Hoo-rah.

7 Responses to “An Outbreak of Dragons”

  1. Gregor Says:

    Sounds like a job for AW?

  2. Fred Hicks Says:

    This is really compelling stuff, man. Some of your best idea-in-a-bottle work, honestly. I would read this novel/series/comic in a heartbeat. 🙂


  3. Gregor: Hmm, maybe. I could see John’s AW hack “The Eye of Chaos” (made to do Warhammer Fantasy) as possibly working. Warhammer in general might be a good choice, considering its the only game I can think of where monsters corrupt you (there’s also Freeport, I guess, but it’s very Warhammer-inspired). Maybe we still need a very light AW hack for doing fantasy, just a recoloring and moving some moves around, rather than the deep hacks of Dungeon World and some of the others. Maybe something like this could work as an Engel/Wormwood/Warhammer “crusaderpunk” hack, like the one I was working on for Agon. Hmm…

    Fred: Thanks, dude! One of these days I’ll retire and write some novels. Probably not anytime soon, unfortunately.

  4. Monica Says:

    You could use All Flesh Must Be Eaten and facilitate a game pretty easily. Instead of zombies, the outbreak is dragons. You’ll probably want the corebook and Dungeons and Zombies supplement to make the fantasy mechanics work.


  5. Haha, I got it! What if we say that Baldwin the Leper, King of Jerusalem (the guy played by Edward Norton in “Kingdom of Heaven”), was not actually infected with leprosy, but something much, much worse.

    The signs are all there. The old slayer families want to put the king out of his misery before he infects others or destroys the holy city, but Saladin’s army is outside the walls and some say we should wait until the king turns and use his draconic might against the Muslim hordes.

    Meanwhile, there are rumors of others becoming strangely ill, throughout the Levant. A storm is coming.


  6. Monica: All Flesh is a great suggestion, based on what I know of it. Unfortunately I don’t own it and have never played it, so it would take some extra doing. But I’ll definitely keep that in mind.


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