I just wanted to put in a plug for Plumes & Parchments, my campaign that fits ideally into a Points of Light campaign, even though as I run it, it starts off in the Forgotten Realms. The campaign revolves around the Planarversity, a multiplanar academy for heroes.
Below is an excerpt, regarding the [url=http://esper.tiddlyspot.com/#[[Forest%20of%20Knowledge]]]Forest of Knowledge[/url], an enchanted wood surrounding the main campus of the Sigil branch of the Planarversity.
The Forest of Knowledge surrounds the Central Campus of [url=http://esper.tiddlyspot.com/#[[Sigil%20Planarversity]]]Sigil Planarversity[/url]. It is home to the largest Planarversity library at the eastern end of the forest, and the largest shrine to Solace, Demigod of Growth and Learning, at the western. The campus sits at the northern end of the Forest, and the [url=http://esper.tiddlyspot.com/#[[River%20of%20Remembrance]]]River of Remembrance[/url] bifurcates the forest, beginning from natural hot springs surrounding the campus and flowing southward through the forest and into the Astral Sea.
The forest surrounds the Central Campus and is populated with fire blossom trees. They grow from [url=http://esper.tiddlyspot.com/#[[Everburning%20Seeds]]]everburning seeds[/url], the holy symbol of Solace. The trees glow, giving off light from their leaves, following a cycle of darkness and light, corresponding to a regular 24-hour day. At their brightest, they give off the equivalent light of a sunny day. At their dimmest, they give off the equivalent of a full moon. The trunks and branches trees also give off heat, enough to keep the campus warm year-round: a cool summer day at their brightest, and a warm summer night at their dimmest. Fluctuations in light and heat among the forest are the cause of a constant warm breeze across the campus. The forest does not experience seasonal weather.
Spread across the forest is the vast outdoor library of the Planarversity. The books come from all across the planes, though the two largest sources are the Realms and the school itself. In the field of planar studies, the collection is second to none.
The fire blossom trees keep the air dry for the books, provide ample lighting, and despite their fiery nature, never burn anything except themselves. The planar nature of the campus also precludes any chance of precipitation or fog.
When fire blossom trees first sprout from the soil, they glow like faint fireflies. As they mature, the light from the trees brightens and takes on a reddish hue. Once a year, the tall trees blossom, covered in hot glowing white five-petaled flowers that steadily shift from white to pink to red over the course of a month.
The heat from the petals increases the surrounding campus to an almost summer-like heat. During the month-long bloom, classes across all Planarversity campuses are closed, overtaken by the [url=http://esper.tiddlyspot.com/#[[Fire%20Blossom%20Festival]]]Fire Blossom Festival[/url], open to all Planarversity students across all campuses.
In the final days of the festival, the blossoms catch fire, burning for days. The largest, most blossom-laden trees completely catch aflame. At the end of the festival, the trees are dotted with all that remains of the blossoms: tiny everburning seeds. The seeds take to the wind, and a few take root each year to grow new fire blossom trees. The end of the academic year is traditionally marked as the last seed has taken to the wind, and the new academic year begins when the first new fire blossom saplings appear, a few months later.
Located deep in the Feywild, this enormous cave flowing with life and pulsing with magic gives birth to the Waterfall of Alethernea, the magical flow intertwined with the water to make it travel upwards, launching the liquid to the sky of the forest around it. Permanent rain (called Alethernea's Cry by the locals) makes travel difficult, and the strange vegetation has changed to make the most of its weather. A traveler can easily encounter various new species there, who happen to emerge spontaneously from the Eye. Very few travelers would suspect they're standing in a place who exists both in the Far Realm and the Feywild, mixing the endless madness of the first with the infinite spark of life from the other, and giving birth to all kinds of creatures both beautiful and dangerous. Whether the planar juxtaposition happened naturally or was created by some unfathomable power is a question that no sage has answered yet, but from time to time a strange shadow can be seen lurking in the water...
*Sorry if i made grammar mistakes (not english-speaker), i'd be very grateful if you could point them to me, so i can correct those and learn proper grammar*
Sure, I'll offer one up. This is more a point of dark in my world than light, but it is where the big bad for my next campaign originates from.
Yethlyreom - The Dead City -Population: Unknown. The city is comprised of well over 40,000 undead already, with new rising every day to add to the lands already booming population. Only a handful of living creatures are permitted to live in the Dead City, and those that do are either minions to the Vile Master, or slaves to the cities populous.
-Government: The Vile Master Tiberius commands the capital of the Black Lands, and controls their forces in name, but the Black Lands as a whole is lead by a far more powerful entity, who's name and goals have been forgotten by time. This being is simple called the Black Benefactor.
-Defense: Being a nation of undeath, the Dead City has no shortage of bodies to add to it's ever growing supply of soldiers.
-Inns: The Crypt; Soil Yard; Nezurd's Inn. Nezurd's Inn caters to those of the living persuasion, far and few between they may be in the Black Lands.
-Temples: The Temple of Orlloc; Virgin's Chapel (Spica); House of Cthon (Tyrania). Darker gods of Death, Evil and Necrotic energy are worshiped in Yethlyreom. Any sects of worship that pay homage to the gods of good are done so only by the Resistance, and are done so in secret.
Called the Necropolis by some, the Black Capital by others, Yethlyreom is a city of terror, pain and the foul stench of the crypt. It's walls were once home to an illustrious history. But when the Ancient Plague came eons ago, the city and it's people feared that their end was near. This is when the Black Benefactor came to Yethlyreom for the first time. With a promise of a means to survive the plague, he offered to give them immortality until they could find a cure for the plague. Like fools, the people of Yethlyreom took the offer. Since then, the city has been little more than an open wound, rotting more and more with every passing generation, while it's inhabitants descend deeper into madness as their Benefactor's cure continues even today to strip them of their humanity more and more.
Today, the Dead City is only one piece of a massive kingdom known as the Black Lands. The neighboring countries have been at war with the Black Lands for centuries, but no efforts in all those years have been able to encroach the forces of the White Kingdom into the Black Capital.
Yethlyreom is not just home to many dangerous creatures, but many groups operate for the Vile Master and his undead army from the Black Capital.
-Servants of the Rotting God: While there is no temple to the Demon King Cernunnos, the Rotting Servants serves the dark entities' wishes from the Black Capital. Often working to undermine the House of Cthon (being followers of Tyrania and the other Archdevils), the group is still under the command of Tiberius first and foremost. The Rotting God recognizes the power Tiberius and the Black Benefactor have in the mortal world, and commands the Rotting Servants to bow to all of their wishes in hopes that they will lend their might to Cernunnos on the Natural Realm.
-The Vile Ones: These undead have been personally "blessed" by Tiberius, and given the gift of Vile magics to improve their already terrible powers against the living. The Vile Ones serve as Tiberius' personal guard, but have also been known to lead the armies of the Black Lands against the White Kingdom's forces. Few have ever encountered one of the Vile Ones and lived to tell the tale. Even those that did were never the same.
-The Necromancer's Guild: Before the change, Yethlyreom once had a grand academy for the study and practice of many forms of magic. Now, the building is the home of the Necromancer's Guild, a group of powerful Vampires, Liches and other undead fiends that seek to raise their own powers by controlling smaller armies themselves. The head of the Necromancer's Guild use to be Tiberius, but his powers became so great that the Black Benefactor removed him from the position and placed him at the head of the Black Lands themselves. The current head is a powerful Alhoon named G'zlm'ch, who controls an army of Vampiric Mind Flayers.
-The Slavers Guild: Many Undead still require a form of sustenance in order to continue their terrible unlives. This often requires living people. Because of this, the Slavers Guild was adopted into the Black Lands. In exchange for protection and power, the Slaver's Guild would offer up live bodies to those that need them. While some human slaves are made into work horses for any menial tasks the city needs to be done, others are eaten out right following their purchase, with not a hint of discretion about the act. The Slaver's Guild is run by the Neogi, who have increased threefold in power since allying themselves with the Black Lands.
Hmmm, a lot of pages and info to go through to check for duplication, so I'm just gonna cross my fingers and hope no one has posted something like this.
The Dread Caverns: Local communities steer clear of the forest near their walls. Horrible things lurk in their, according to rumors. The animals all flee from the forests heart. The outskirts are overpopulated with all manner of animals, from harmless birds to viscious beasts, all afraid to venture deeper in. Rumor has it that deeper in are horrible monsters that defy description. Where even the plants covering the forest floor rise up to kill those who tread on them.
In truth what lies at the heart of the forest is a cave. The cave is home to a malicious, evil presence, so strong it warps the environment around, and turns it into an abomination of what it once was. Close to the cave the forest becomes a fetid swamp. People and animals alike become unsettled. Driven mad.
Inside the cave the true power is evident. That of fear and deception. The cave plays of the fears of those that enter it. Spawning viscious beasts that frighten those who enter it to their very core. But the true fear of the cave is the unknown. Never being sure which threats are real, and which are imaginary. The cave creates illusions of things which aren't really there. Passages that went one way now go another so that those who enter become hopelessly lost. Harmless animals turn out to be deadly beasts. The deadliest threats sometimes don't exist at all, concealing either nothing at all, or deadly traps. But sometimes, the threats are real. How does one ever know what to fear and what not to fear.
So the name neads work, but basically, the idea with this is to scare the wits out of the players and make sure they can't guess what they're up against from one moment to the next. Pit them against things they're afraid of to know end. If your players are especially afraid of vampires or black dragons, put them in there. Or don't and make them think you did. Vary encounters between having imaginary threats, real threats, weak monsters that are actually powerful monsters in disguize, powerful monsters that are actually weak monsters in disguize. A variety of illusions. When the party thinks they know what to expect, throw something new at them. Make them wander into every encounter unsure of what they face and what tactics they should use. An encounter with a mindflayer and it's minions is scary, but what's worse is not knowing which is the minion, and which is the mindflayer until it's too late.
I'm planning on runing my players through this dungeon when they get close to paragon level. Have the challenge of it mark their passage into a new level of fame and power. I love the idea and can't wait to see how it goes in practice. I had the players fill out questionaires about their characters and included a question about fears specifically so I could plan encounters in this place. If anyone else uses it in their campaign, at any level, I would dearly love to hear how it went and whether or not it proved as frightening and unsettling to the players as I'm hoping it will.
Torog's Court is a fortress built long ago by followers of the Deity of Jailers, which fell to ruin and was restored by lawful good humans as a maximum-security death row prison. The kingdom has been overthrown in a revolution and the new government is insisting all convicts be released for fair trials. The prison warden is a righteous and traditional man, and refuses to hand over the prisoners in his charge to such an unstable government. The government has sent a militia which is stationed in the nearest town, two days' march from the prison. The warden decrees that if the militia marches, he'll execute every prisoner. The livelihood of the townsfolk consists largely of providing travel accommodations to the prison personnel and the many citizens who visit the prison to claim stolen belongings taken from the inmates and, if the courts permit, execute the prisoner who wronged them. Since the militia arrived, visitors who were at the prison have no way of returning, as all routes have been cut off. Tensions rise as the militia grows restless and the jailers brace themselves for a one-sided fight to the death.
Choose your side:
1) The jailers 2) The prisoners 3) The militia 4) The visitors 5) The townsfolk
The Shield: A tall range of jagged and rocky mountains that cuts across the land forming a natural barrier between the Goblinlands and the lands of men. Dwarvish legend holds that the mountains were raised by their deity as a shield to protect the young race but they were not enough. As treacherous as the mountains are the goblins are so numerous that some inevitably make it through, so their deity created the dwarves to stand guard against them.
The mountains are inhabited primarily by dwarves and dragonborn, the dragonborn living above ground and the dwarves living below. The dwarves and dragonborn are very active trading partners to the point where the dwarves live off of food primarily grown (goats, yak, grains) or hunted (mountain boar, bear, deer) by the dragonborn while the dragonborn receive nearly all of their mineral resources (metal, quarried stone, gems) from the dwarves. Many of the dragonborn fortifications have been built with dwarvish assistance.
Although there is a great deal of trade and support between the two groups there is almost no intermingling to speak of. The only dragonborn found in a dwarven city are travelers and about the only time you see dwarves in dragonborn villages are when they are there to trade or work.
Dol Kuzuhnd: One side of a great lake terminates against the mountains of the Shield. Cut into the side of the mountain is a massive tunnel big enough for a large ship to sail through. The tunnel is constructed like a medieval gatehouse with massive doors at either end. Guard towers carved from the living rock flank the doorway from elevated positions so that invaders would find themselves at a serious disadvantage and within the tunnel there are numerous openings to allow defenders to rain down crossbow bolts, rocks, and flaming oil on anyone inside.
Once through the second gate the tunnel immediately widens into a vast underground chamber containing the docks of Dol Kazund. This is where most trade between dwarves and men occur. Primarily the humans bring textiles and barley for dwarven ale which is easier to grow on the broader lands of the humans while the dwarves trade primarily weapons, refined metals, gems and jewelry and quarried stone.
Ok, this is a glorious thread, and I'm going to challenge myself to write up a few of my ideas so I can add to it.
I'm aiming for three points of light and three points of darkness, one each of village, town/city, and county scale; and three ways to use each one as the core of an adventure setting.
We'll start with the village-sized Point of Light.
The concept of the village in the shadow of the wizard's tower is a common one. Sometimes the village got there first, and the wizard moved in later; sometimes the village grew up around the tower. Gallowdell is one such village, a tiny point of light and safety in the midst of Hobgoblin-ruined wilds where every other village suffers constant raids and the threat of destruction. Gallowdell alone is safe in this blighted land, the hobgoblin marauders too afraid of arcane devastation to approach. Gallowdell is a little different, though...
The tower is mortared with blood and ground bones, decorated with flayed Hobgoblin skins, and topped with a perpetual corona of greenish-black necrotic energy. Gallowdell's resident wizard is a master of the Necromantic arts, a pallid, sunken-eyed Eladrin who has lived long beyond even his species' normal lifespan. The hobgoblins do not fear fire from the sky, but grasping claws from the earth; and Gallowdell's fighting men are not protected with arcane defences but by the innumerable walking dead who battle by their side. For all the evil associations of necromancy, though, Gallowdell's patron seems to have a heart of good under his deathly-pale skin. This is the village he grew up in, before the hobgoblin raids began, and he'll never let it fall to the raiders until the day he dies - and maybe not even then.
Gallowdell is protected by the usual palisade wall and a few archer towers, but the true defences lie under the many patches of disturbed soil in and around the village. The undead can rise up at a moment's notice to swiftly dispatch any intruder before politely burying themselves again. The necromancer is not a regular visitor to the village - he's far too busy with his studies - but when he does visit (twice a month or so), he is met by a mixture of fear and reverence. He's been around for so long, and is so instrumental to the village's safety, that he is accorded respect more in keeping with a minor god than a mortal Eladrin. Most don't know his name, and just refer to him as the Old Man.
Plot hooks involving Gallowdell:
The obvious threat:
The Old Man is dying. Constant exposure to necrotic energy and the chill winds of the Shadowfell have led him to contract a disease far beyond his powers to cure. He has never taken an apprentice, and it's far too late for that now - he has barely a month, by his best estimates. And with him dead, his undead servants will exanimate and crumble to dust or brittle bones. The village will fall to Hobgoblin raids within weeks. He seeks to escape the threat of death forever by achieving Lichdom, but he lacks the vital components of the ritual. He has precious little time and needs to conserve what strength he has, so he's looking to hire adventurers to retrieve what he needs. Do the PCs help him, knowing that aiding a necromancer become a Lich has potentially devastating repercussions should he prove less benevolent than he seems, and that the mind of the Undead is a strange thing that might quickly lose interest in the once-beloved village? Do they seek instead to cure his illness, knowing that with the Old Man's advanced age, this might only buy the village a few years? Or do they try to find another way to protect Gallowdell without the necromancer's aid, and leave him to die of the disease he brought upon himself?
The subtle threat:
The Old Man has taken on an apprentice, a young Eladrin lady from a nearby village who travelled the dangerous road on foot to see him. The people rejoiced at first, glad that their patron would have someone to keep him company, and happy that their protection was assured even after he had passed away. But then he began to visit the village less and less, and seemed more distant. New and more powerful types of undead have been sighted around his tower, and rumour has it that the Old Man has learned as much magic from his "apprentice" as she has from him. His attitude - once kindly if aloof - has become more cold and distant, even arrogant, and he seems more and more obsessed with his studies than with protecting Gallowdell.
The truth is that the Old Man's apprentice isn't mortal at all, but a Devil (most likely a succubus) assuming human form, steadily persuading him to abandon his duties in care of the village. The Devils plan to provoke the Hobgoblins into attacking when the Old Man is far to wrapped up in his work to protect the village, leaving every last man, woman and child slaughtered or enslaved. Then, with the Old Man mourning the village's destruction as his own fault, the infernal host will finally be able to tempt him to fall to Evil - in exchange for the power he needs to desecreate and reanimate the entire village and seek revenge on the Hobgoblins.
The threat from within:
The Church of Pelor has been steadily expanding throughout the land, and several years ago the message of Pelor arrived in Gallowdell. At first tolerant of the undead as the only thing keeping the village alive, the village's local priest has begun stirring up trouble. The relationship between the Peloric faithful and the more pragmatic villagers has grown horribly tense, and although the Old Man has chosen to distance himself from the whole thing, it's only a matter of time before tensions boil over. And when that happens, an awful lot of people are going to die. If the Old Man's faithful followers wipe out the local followers of Pelor, it's likely that word will reach the large temple in the capital - and news of a village protected by the undead turning on and murdering a harmless priest and his congregation will not go down well with the order of Paladins, who may organise a Crusade to wipe Gallowdell off the map. Conversely, if the Pelor-worshippers turn on the other villagers, the Old Man will be forced to send in the undead hordes to intervene - with the same inevitable result. Even if Pelor's faithful somehow triumph over the Old Man and topple his tower, who will be left to protect Gallowdell from the rapacious hobgoblin hordes?
Gallowdell and the Old Man give you a good opportunity to explore the morality of Necromancy - it lets you show that not all Necromancers are evil madmen who want to conquer the world or kill everyone they meet, and that Necromancy is dangerous but not inherently evil and corrupting. Depending on your take on Necromancy and the general tone of your campaign, the Old Man can be presented however you like: maybe he's a kind-hearted soul who is friendly towards the players but happens to study a much-maligned school of magic; or maybe he's really quite creepy, more comfortable around the dead than the living, but still cares about his village deep down. The Gallowdell adventures probabl work best at Heroic level - they have the right "save the village" feel to them. The hobgoblin hordes can be replaced by any generic threat of appropriate level. Happily, there are mindless undead available at every tier and level, so the Old Man's servants can be tuned to suit. He's probably best represented by an NPC than a monster if the PCs decide to fight him, but it's your call. The Succubus could be any level-appropriate Devil in human form.
On an island near a continent in the cold north lies a well guarded fortress. This fortress is in reality a monastery dedicated to Pelor the sun god. The only inhabitants are the fortress guards and a large group of monks wich only stay here for three months each summer but then leave with some of the guards on some sort of pilgrimage to the south, only returning again nine months later.
Though the monks talk to no outsiders some guards have contact with the outside world and come to nearby towns to trade. The monks grow vegtables and brew beer on the island but the island seems to be the only fertile place in the cold north. The guards claim the monks like to stay here over the summer months to stay close to their god Pelor but the sun here shines longer during the summer months.
Rumors however claim that the monks are guarding some sort of an artifact, a prisoned demon that Pelor himself lcoked in this big golden box, but it needs a huge amount of sunrays for power to keep it locked. The monks supposedly travel a far way to another fortress monastery on the southern hemispheres during the winter to follow the longer sunny days there.
For all that magic can heal the most grevious of diseases or wounds, there is still very little that can be done for illnesses of the mind. Often, all that can be done for the insane is to lock them away, to keep them safe - and to keep others safe from them. The sanatorium at Elmsgrove was one such place, a hospital for the sick of mind, run by an order of monks who had pledged to help those that magic could not cure. The chief Abbot of the order, in between his tireless work to help the invalids in his care, would study ancient books of lore and magic in the hope of finding a way to cure the inhabitants of the Sanatorium. After some years, he became aware of the connection between the behaviour of lunatics and the alignment of the stars, and grew convinced that the answer to his questions lay somewhere in the night skies. He purchased the finest telescope that the Sanatorium's funds would allow, and began to study the heavens.
Late one May Eve, after tirelessly tending to the insane from dawn to dusk, then working at his telescope until well past midnight, he trained the great magnifying lens on the green corpse-light of the star Gibbeth, and then fell fast asleep. When he awoke the next morning, his mind was not his own, and the sickly green light of Gibbeth burned like a grim lantern in his eyes. He took the rusty iron ring of keys, and unlocked each and every cell. The inmates of the sanatorium knelt down and worshipped the being that wore the Abbot's body, and they slaughtered the monks in a violent frenzy, and nailed their rotting corpses to the outside of the Sanatorium's clock-tower.
Elmsgrove Sanatorium is a place blighted by the influence of the Far Realm and the vile glare of Gibbeth. During the night, that malign star shines down as bright as the moon on Elmsgrove. It shines through the clouds. It shines through the stone walls, and the halls of the sanatorium are lit by a ghastly green light. After so many decades, the land is hideously twisted by the Far Realm's influence, but the former inmates still live there, their madness beginning to show outside their minds, warping their bodies and the world around them. Rumour has it that the Abbot still lives, with Gibbeth's eldritch tentacles burrowed into his tormented brain.
Adventure hooks to Elmsgrove Sanatorium:
For the avaricious:
Although the monastic order at Elmsgrove were far from wealthy, their Abbot spent years studying the stars. His notebooks would be of incredible value to a Star-pact warlock, or to anyone interested in the Far Realm. And after all these years, that telescope might have become a powerful tool in the hands of the right mage.
For the virtuous:
Nobody deserves the torment that the Sanatorium's inmates have been put through. Putting them all to the sword, and burning the building itself to the ground, could only be a mercy. Besides, the blighted land is growing slowly, year after year, and for miles around Gibbeth is the brightest star in the sky.
For the curious:
The corruption about Elmsgrove is legendary, but nobody really knows the original cause. The connection between the Far Realm and madness is well known, but poorly understood: everyone knows that contact with the Far Realm drives people mad, but Elmsgrove seems to be living proof that the connection works in reverse as well, and that a concentration of madness can attract the energies of the Far Realm. Is it all a terrible coincidence, or did the monks really bring Gibbeth's baleful gaze down upon themselves by amassing so many lunatics under one roof? And how have the insane survived for so long in a completely uninhabitable area?
Elmsgrove makes a good one-shot, or it can tie in with a wider plot arc concerning the Far Realm. It's particularly good if you have a star-pact warlock in your character party! It can work at any level and tier, although it's probably best in late Heroic or early Paragon. I'd favour late Heroic, since Foulspawn are an ideal representation of the asylum's occupants - but there are Far Realm related entities at a wide range of levels, and if nothing else, plenty of other monsters can be re-skinned as mutants and Far Realm aberrations. At Paragon tier, the Abbot could be perfectly represented by a Scion of Gibbeth (from the MM 2).
Sometimes, when a chromatic dragon dies, it leaves a permanent mark on the world - an area of land perpetually distorted to that dragon's nature. Black dragons leave corrosive swamps, white dragons leave frozen wastes. And the older the dragon, the larger the warped area. In most cases, this makes the area dangerous and all but uninhabitable. There are exceptions...
Cykraskar was a truly ancient Blue dragon, who in his long life inspired many legends and made a great many enemies. He was ultimately slain by other dragons - a pack of them who, contrary to their nature, worked together to take down the ancient Blue. At the moment of Cykraskar's death, a great thunderstorm erupted, rapidly spanning to cover thousands of square miles. This area, wracked by constant wind, rain, and hail and blasted by massive thunderbolts every few seconds, was considered a dead loss - the farmland was rapidly flooded, the roads turned to slush under constant rainfall. But a dragon as old as Cykraskar is bound to have a horde, and the rumours that it had not yet been found began to attract adventurers. One of them was the gnome artificer Jenson Abernathy, who - although he failed to locate the horde - saw great potential in the storm-wracked lands where others had seen only ruin. His shrewd mind calculated the tremendous magical energy that must be present in every one of the frequent lightning bolts, and when he left the land it was not because he had given up the search for the horde as so many others had done, but because he had found a new mission, and needed reinforcements.
When Jenson returned with a cartel of Gnomes well-studied in the arcane arts, and a veritable convoy of craftsmen, survival experts, warriors, and builders, he had all but forgotten about the horde. He had far grander designs on his mind, visions of great copper-tipped towers to catch and channel the lightning. The first tower built was the smallest, but it served as proof of principle - every thunderbolt for half a mile around was drawn unerringly to the spire, and there charged the great magical batteries that Jenson had designed and built. Before long, the stored magic was being put to good use, and the tent-village that had grown up around the tower was being replaced with a more permenent settlement. Abernathy and his clan were now convinced: Cykraskar's death-throes were the dragon's last, accidental gift to the world.
The land now known as Cykraskar's Blessing is a city-state in its own right. Though the land is useless for farming and all food has to be imported, the governors are wealthy beyond imagining, for the entire land is dotted with great copper-tipped towers that gather and store the constant lightning, where it is used to manufacture magical artefacts which can be sold at a high profit. The land only has a few small towns apart from the central city of Drakespire, and the main employment is in magical crafting, building and maintaining the great towers, and work in Drakespire's large standing army. The houses have to be of solid and water-tight construction to withstand the near-constant rain and wind, and need deep foundations to stand in the muddy ground, so the architecture tends towards the functional rather than the beautiful. Lights in the towns are kept on constantly, for the thick layer of cloud above all Cykraskar's lands blots out the sun.
The horde has still not been found, although most have stopped looking, assuming that by now somebody must have looted it and kept quiet about it.
Plot ideas for Cykraskar's Blessing:
The obvious threat:
A blue dragon, rumoured to be one of Cykraskar's descendants, has arrived, and has set up lair atop one of the region's mountain peaks just within sight of Drakespire. Rather than fight to clear a territory for itself, the newly-arrived dragon seems to be busy creating magically-fuelled servants for itself, using the thunderstorm as a source of power just as the Gnomes have done. The local Kobold tribes, who once served and worshipped Cykraskar, have rallied to the new arrival in the hope that it will protect them from the Gnomes, who would love to see the vicious little bastards wiped out. Many of the Kobold tribe leaders are proclaiming that the dragon will level Drakespire and set up a new Kobold utopia in the ruins, and that the tribes should prepare for war with the Gnomes.
Although the Kobolds aren't a threat except in huge numbers, the Gnomes' defences mostly rely on lightning-based weaponry and magic, and will be precious little use against the dragon if it does decide to attack. As yet, it hasn't shown any interest in communicating, and people are speculating wildly about what it really wants, and if it really a descendant of the great Cykraskar.
The hidden threat:
Years and years of continuous rain have done more than just turn most of Cykraskar's Blessing into a quagmire. They've also flooded large parts of the Underdark. The inhabitants have been driven ever closer to the surface by the rising water, and a few of them have broken through into the lower tunnels of the iron mines around Drakespire. The nameless hordes of the Underdark, displaced by the rising waters are disordered and with no unifying force behind them and would only pose a threat to Drakenspire by sheer numbers and the element of surprise, but one creature in particular is more dangerous. The floods have allowed an Aboleth, usually confined to the very deepest subterranean lakes, to swim almost to the surface and begin sending out minions to investigate the surrounding lands. At the moment, it merely lurks and studies with alien curiosity and cold, passionless detachment. Whatever its ultimate plans, its servants will begin infiltrating the towns, the research stations around the lightning-towers, and the great city of Drakespire, in preparation for... what? An attack? A covert takeover? Or an attempt to expand the storm, flooding more of the Underdark and expanding the Aboleth's watery domain?
The threat from within:
One of the Gnomish mages has been studying the perpetual storm closely, and has discovered something incredible - within the heart of the storm, Cykraskar's soul still lives! The storm is, and always has been, sentient, still fuelled by the incredible force of the ancient dragon's undying willpower. It allowed Drakespire to grow in the hope that one day, it would find a suitable disciple to carry out its wishes - and now, it has found that disciple. This gnome, swayed by the dragon's charisma and promises of the secret location of the horde, has begun an ambitious project of engineering. In his workshop, an artificial dragon takes shape, crafted of steel and brass, with great glass lenses for eyes and a colossal battery for a heart. Armoured and articulated, with blades for claws and teeth, waiting to be hooked up directly to the greatest of the lightning spires, and the ritual to be completed so that Cykraskar's immortal soul can flood down into its new body in a titanic bolt of lightning. Then the dragon will live again, with metal where once it had bones and scales, lightning where once flowed blood, raw magic holding it aloft where great wings once beat.
Maybe the inhabitants of Cykraskar's Blessing would fall to their knees in worship of the reborn dragon, eager to pay tribute to the being that their entire society is founded around and named after. And maybe the ancient being might even let them live.
The land of Cykraskar's Blessing only makes sense if some level of "magitech" is present in your campaign - Eberron is probably the perfect place for it, for example. The adventure hooks work at a range of levels: the new dragon's Kobold servants can be run as either a credible threat at early Heroic tier or a trifling nuisance at later levels. The mechanical dragon, on the other hand, is a reanimated ancient blue dragon powered with the very best of Gnomish magitech, and although it could be used as an opponent at any level, it would feel odd for it to be a lower than epic-level threat. It's probably best represented by a custom-designed Solo monster, although if you don't want to go that far, you could use a slightly modified Blue dragon, or a Dracolich with all the damage types changed to Lightning and Thunder. The underdark threat is designed very much with an Aboleth in mind, which is a good Paragon-tier threat, but this could be replaced with something more or less nasty at other levels.