Having defeated the giant stone spider monster, the players expected to be marched through the streets in a parade with flowers and money and maybe some kind of reward.
Boy were they wrong.
While they fought the monster, the city guard was notably absent, as was the team of adventurers that worked for the rival dragon, the rival dragon that was supposed to have controlling interest in the town and clandestine peerage over it’s Prince.
When they returned to the city, they found their rivals waiting at the gate, and they were given 24 hours to dissapear.
You may immediately think that is very harsh. What you are not aware of is that the players are mixed up in a game of Dragon Xorvitaal, and lethal conflict between pawns is not only normal, but expected. That 24 hours head start was a gift and a token of respect.
Their rivals wanted them gone so they could investigate why their town guard, a well paid mercenary group called the Ebon Spear, had chosen that moment to stay in bed instead of acting against the spider, but the players didn’t know that.
They decided to take the deal and boogie.
They met up with their wizard friend (remember naked mage?) who, in an entirely forced and contrived coincidence, was entertaining a visitor when they arrived, their dragoness patron, Inshallah the Silver.
She and Audrafinn the archmage were discussing current events and we’re glad to see the players. The sky was opening again and the demons were coming back… soon. It was unclear how soon.
Now, this demon invasion I had been hitting them with as ham fisted foreshadowing as I could, and I needed to bring that to the fore.
Audrafinn explained that she had built her wizard tower to observe the Demon Wastes, the blasted and corrupted lands left over from their last invasion, and she told them the sky had opened again, but only just a crack.
Inshallah told the players that in times of great threat the dragon game could be “paused”, so that all pawns could focus on a problem that threatened the world, and by extension, the game itself.
She said that she had already contacted the Games Master and a great council of dragons had been called, all of the local players at once and their best pawns, to discuss the Pause.
As her best pawns, the players were going to accompany her…
They flew in the back of the dragon, a feat of wonder and awe that was glossed over in favor of getting the PCs back to the part where they killed stuff. Decending into the northern desert, they saw the location they were heading to.
Beneath them was a platform, a natural stone mesa made of reddish stone. It was over a hundred feet across and possibly two hundred feet tall. On the top, waiting for them, was a colossal ancient gold dragon. Inshallah explained to them as they landed that this was Grendontorth, the Games Master.
The Games Master was forbidden to play, she explained, but his rule was unquestioned. He was a cleric of Io, the draconic god of neutrality, and the meeting place was holy ground, consecrated to Io. No one dared question Grendontorth here. Even if they did, he was still an ancient wyrm gold dragon.
The rest of the dragon players arrived shortly after the heroes did. There was a green dragon that refused to look anyone directly in the eye and was pointedly trying to look bored flanked by lizardfold, a spastic little bug-eyed white dragon with a twitch and a cadre of barbarians, a fang dragon clad in full plate and nursing fresh wounds on his legs and chest and traveling with an ogre, and lastly Thanadrukk, the black dragon, the players nemesis, accompanied by the same party that had been hounding them the entire time they were staying in Bechamel.
The cast had assembled, and the Pause was announced, to much grumbling and complaining from the dragons. Business concluded, the dragons mostly left, leaving the players, Inshallah, Grendontorth (who lived there and wasn’t leaving) and Thanadrukk.
They chose not to talk to him, even under flag of truce.
Unsure how to proceed they asked Grendontorth if he had any ideas. The dragon told them that while he was not allowed to play the Game, he still had agents in the world, and he had instructed them to figure out a way to stop the demons.
He had this idea that if the Elochian gnomes could be found, their magical talents could be used to either seal the tear or at least assist in battle against the invasion once it broke through.
Armed with this knowledge, and facing a ticking clock, the players decided to set off and find the gnomes!