Dungeon Master Assistance

A place to share thoughts and ideas about Dungeons and Dragons

D&D 5e – Combat Reference Sheet


2 sided Combat Reference Sheet

Download your free copy  HERE.

Many thanks to Jennifer Brahm for sharing her one page (printed front and back) cheat sheet. Using my Quick Reference Combat post as a basis, she created a wonderful game table reference sheet. I simply made a few corrections and cleaned it up a bit.


Check out this excellent post on “Keep Rolling Sizes”

Alignments can be confuzzling. Let’s try to put a spin on them.

Alignments have always been a headache for me in D&D. However, this method seems to be effective for determining alignment in playing characters. And since the words associated with each alignment are easily understood, it sometimes helps the players define their characters easily. Alignments have their place in D&D … so let’s find a way to make them useful to advance role-playing.


D&D 5e – House Rules for Creating a Ghost


Ghost Template

You can add this “Ghost” template to any aberration, animal, dragon, giant, humanoid, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, or plant. When a creature becomes a ghost he becomes semitransparent and can use an action to move back and forth between the material plane and the ethereal plane but he remains visible to creatures in both planes.

Physical Description

Ghosts are flickering remnants of their past lives, appearing as they did before death, however, they are semi-transparent and have a blue tinge to them that drowns out all color of their body.

If the ghost is still coming to terms with its death, its appearance may reflect how it died. For example, a ghost that had drowned in a previous life may be dripping with glowing water droplets that disappear as soon as they hit the ground. A ghost that died in battle, may still have the wounds it sustained open and flowing with silver blood.

Similarly, if the ghost instead is more transfixed by guilt or regret at its previous life it is instead wrapped in ethereal chains.

This is because the image of a ghost is controlled by its own mental state and the way it is transfixed by death or regret will manifest in the image it takes.

It is possible for ghosts to be completely free of regret or transfixed by its death, but it would mean that the only thing tying it to the material plane is the ghost’s own willpower, which makes the its bond to the material plane weaker than the other two types of ghosts.

A ghost uses all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.

Size and Type

The creature’s type changes to undead. He does not require air, food, drink or sleep. Size is unchanged.

Hit Points and Hit Dice

The creatures hit points and Hit Die remain unchanged


Ghosts have a walking speed of 0 and a fly speed of 40 feet

Armor Class

The creature’s armor class doesn’t change but it applies only to ethereal encounters. When the ghost enters the material plane its armor class becomes 10 + its Dexterity modifier + any magical protections.

Ability Scores

These remain the same as the creature had in life.

The ghost gains the following special traits:

Damage Resistances acid, fire, lightning, thunder; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from non magical weapons [Note that a ghost on the ethereal plane cannot be hit by physical weapons if the attacker is on the material plane. If the ghost is also on the material plane it can be hit only by magical weapons.]

Damage Immunities: cold, necrotic, poison

Condition Immunities: charmed, exhaustion, frightened, grappled, paralyzed, petrified, poisoned, prone, restrained

Senses: darkvision 60ft., his passive Perception remains as it had in life

Languages any languages it knew in life

Ethereal Sight. The ghost can see 60 feet into the Ethereal Plane when it is on the Material Plane, and vice versa.

Incorporeal Movement. The ghost can move through other creatures and objects as if they were difficult terrain. It takes 5 (1d10) force damage if it ends its turn inside an object. [Note that the ghost uses this movement when on the Material Plane. When on the Ethereal Plane he is visible but utterly silent to someone on the Material Plane, and solid objects on the Material Plane don’t hamper the movement of the ghost in the Ethereal. ]


A ghost retains all the attacks of the base creature, although those relying on physical contact do not effect creatures that are not ethereal except as described below.

The ghost gains the following actions:

Withering Touch, Etherealness, Horrifying Visage and Possession (Recharge 6) as described in the ghost listing in the 5E Monster Manual. [Note that a ghost must use the etherealness action to move from the Material Plane to the Ethereal Plane, or from the Ethereal Plane to the Material Plane. ]


When a spellcasting ghost is on the Ethereal Plane, its spells cannot affect targets on the Material Plane, but they work normally against ethereal targets. When a spellcasting ghost is on the material plan, its spells can affect ethereal targets and can also affect targets on the material plane normally unless the spells rely on touch. A ghost’s touch spells don’t work on nonethereal targets.

Ghostly Equipment

When a ghost forms, all its equipment and carried items usually become ethereal along with it. The equipment works normally on the Ethereal Plane but passes harmlessly through material objects or creatures. A magical weapon however can harm material creatures when the ghost is on the material plane.

The original material items remain behind, just as the ghost’s physical remains do. If another creature seizes the original, the ghostly copy fades away. This loss invariably angers the ghost, who stops at nothing to return the item to its original resting place.

D&D 5E – House Rule – Pop-up Archer

Pop-up Dwarf

Pop-up Archer

As a DM, have you ever ran into this situation? I had a player that wanted to stay down below a low wall during combat and just stand up and fire his arrow on his turn and then duck back down. His reasoning went like this; He starts the round with total cover so he can’t be targeted. On his turn he uses some of his movement to stand up. At that time he would have half cover (he might argue that he had 3/4 cover) and with half cover he got +2 to his armor class and dexterity saving throws. However that would only come into play if an opponent had readied an action to fire at him if he stood up. Otherwise he fires his weapon and then uses the rest of his move to duck back down, perhaps even moving to another location along the wall first. Then he would have total cover again until his turn on the next round when he would repeat the same tactic. This would also work behind rocks or trees or barrels. If there was nothing to provide cover, he could simply lie down. If prone, missile attacks against him (if the attacker is more than 5 feet away) are made with disadvantage. Then on his turn, he uses half his move to get up from prone (if he remained prone his attacks would be made with disadvantage), fires his arrow and then falls back down prone until his turn on the next round.

This tactic appears to be allowed with the rules as written. But I don’t like it. It doesn’t make for cinematic, or heroic combat. At its extreme, it is just plain silly. Can you imagine everybody doing this on both sides? When combat starts everybody lays down. On their turn they pop-up, fire and fall back down. But, in extreme circumstances, this may be the only reasonable tactic. Think of a cowboy on the prairie surrounded by Indians. He has no cover except for sage brush. He must do what he can to keep from being killed. And bad guys hiding behind a low wall should get some benefit from staying down except to fire.

Here is my thinking on this dilemma.

1) Even though each character takes his action during his turn which is based on his position in the initiative order. The entire round only represents 6 seconds of game time. Everyone is acting at the same time and breaking it up into individual turns is a concession we make in order to make it a playable game. So even if you start and end your turn totally concealed, when you pop-up to fire you are visible to your opponents.

2) If you start your turn behind cover (or prone) you can’t easily see your target. So when you pop-up to fire you must first site your target before aiming and firing. You have a better chance of hitting it if you have the target in your sights at the start of your turn.

My house rules:

Total Cover

If you have total cover (other than from darkness or invisibility) at the beginning of your turn, any attacks you make by moving out from behind that cover will be made with disadvantage.

If you have total cover (other than from darkness or invisibility) at the end of your turn, any attacks against you will be made based on the most vulnerable position you occupied during your turn. These attacks will be made with disadvantage.

With these rules in place, you can still use the pop-up archer tactic, but you have disadvantage on your to-hit rolls and your opponents have a chance to shoot you, but they also have disadvantage.


If you are prone at the beginning of your turn, any attacks you make after standing will be made with a -2 penalty on the attack roll.

If you are prone at the end of your turn, any attacks against you will be made based on the most vulnerable position you occupied during your turn and will be made with a -2 penalty on the attack roll.

So you can stand up from prone, fire and then drop to prone on your turn, but you have a penalty on your attack rolls and you are more likely to be hit than if you had remained prone.


D&D 5E – Character Sheet Update


New and Improved Character Sheet

Download your free copy here.

My 5th edition Dungeons and Dragons auto-fill Character sheet has become very popular. Thanks to input from you, I have made some minor changes and added a major feature that will be of value to those of you with Rogues, Clerics and “Jacks of All Trades”.

  • Added a space on the top of Page 1 for your character’s age.
  • Added a line in each Weapon box that can be used for additional information. For example, you may want to indicate if it is a Light weapon, or list other weapon properties, or a description, or a name.
  • Corrected a spelling error (changed “atack” bonus to “attack” bonus).
  • There are some class features with double proficiency bonus on some skills, for example, the Knowledge Domain Cleric and Rogue’s Expertise. The sheet can now calculate those.
  • “Jack of All Trades” adds half your proficiency bonus, rounded down, to ability checks you are not proficient in. The sheet can now calculate those.

If it isn’t obvious how to use these features, I updated my Character Sheet Instructions: Here


D&D 5E – Advantage/Disadvantage


When to use Advantage/Disadvantage

Essentially, an advantage allows you to roll 2d20, taking the higher roll result, whilst a disadvantage requires you to roll 2d20, taking the lower result. You never roll more than two dice because multiple advantage/disadvantage conditions don’t stack. If you have conditions that give you both advantage and disadvantage, they cancel each other out and you get neither.

It is up to the DM do decide if you get advantage or disadvantage on a roll. When trying to determine if a situation warrants an advantage or disadvantage, it may be helpful to review the specific situation listed in the PHB. This list does not include special abilities or magic spells or magic items.


  • If you have inspiration, you can expend it when you make an attack roll, saving throw, or ability check. Spending your inspiration gives you advantage on that roll.
  • Using a crowbar grants advantage to Strength checks where the crow bar’s leverage can be applied.
  • A magnifying glass grants advantage on any ability check made to appraise or inspect an item that is small or highly detailed.
  • A military saddle gives you advantage on any check you make to remain mounted.
  • When mounted – You have advantage on melee attack rolls against any unmounted creature that is smaller than your mount.
  • Helping another with a task (where your assistance could actually be of help) adds advantage to their check.
  • If you are hiding – “the Dungeon Master might allow you to stay hidden as you approach a creature that is distracted, allowing you to gain advantage on an attack before you are seen.”
  • When a creature can’t see you, you have advantage on attack rolls against it.
  • Attack rolls against a blinded creature have advantage.
  • Invisible creature’s attack rolls have advantage.
  • Attack rolls against paralyzed and petrified creatures have advantage.
  • An attack roll against a prone creature has advantage if the attacker is within 5 feet of the creature.
  • Attack rolls against restrained or stunned or unconscious creatures have advantage.


  • If you wear armor that you lack proficiency with, you have disadvantage on any ability check, saving throw, or attack roll that involves Strength or Dexterity.
  • If the Armor table shows “Disadvantage” in the Stealth column, the wearer has disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks.
  • Small creatures have disadvantage on attack rolls with heavy weapons.
  • In lightly obscured areas – creatures have disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
  • When attacking a target beyond normal range, you have disadvantage on the attack roll.
  • You have disadvantage when you use a lance to attack a target within 5 feet of you.
  • When you attack a target that you can’t see, you have disadvantage on the attack roll.
  • You have disadvantage on a ranged attack roll if you are within 5 feet of a hostile creature that can see you and that isn’t incapacitated
  • Blinded creature’s attack rolls have disadvantage.
  • Attack rolls against Invisible creatures have disadvantage.
  • Any level of exhaustion gives you a disadvantage on ability checks
  • A poisoned creature has disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.
  • A prone creature has disadvantage on attack rolls.
  • An attack roll against a prone creature has disadvantage if the attacker is more than 5 feet from the creature.
  • Restrained creatures have disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws and attack rolls.

D&D 5E – House Rules – Underwater -Depth and Temperature


Into the Depths

Underwater – Depth and Temperature

The water’s depth and temperature will determine a character’s survivability when they are under the water.


Depth CON Save Points of Damage
0-200 ft  none  none
201-250 ft  DC 10  1d6/minute
251-300 ft  DC 15  2d6/minute
301-400 ft  DC 20  3d6/minute
401-500 ft  DC 25  4d6/minute
501-1000 ft DC 30 5d6/minute
1001 ft or deeper DC 35  6d6/minute

The deeper a character ventures down into the water, the greater the water pressure. Freedom of movement and water breathing will not protect characters from either the crushing effects of deep water or the effects of cold. The indicated Constitution saves must be made one round after being at a certain depth. If the save is failed, then the damage is taken and another save must be made each minute until the character makes a Constitution save, after which further saves are not necessary. The character is then considered acclimated to that depth. Descending to a deeper depth range as indicated on the table, however, requires another saving throw be made.


Temperature  Degree F  CON Save  Points of Cold Damage
Tropical  >86  none  none
Warm  65-85  none  none
Cold  55-64  DC 10  1d6/minute
Frigid  45-54  DC 15  2d6/minute
Icy  32-44  DC 20  4d6/minute

Water conducts heat much more efficiently than air; therefore cold water causes much greater loss of body temperature than does cold air. It is also important for DMs to note that water becomes heavier as it cools until it reaches a temperature of about 37 degrees Fahrenheit (just above freezing). Below 37 degrees, as water crystallizes into ice, it becomes lighter so that ice will float on the surface of the water. Therefore, the bottom of any large body of water will tend to remain at 37 degrees F most of the year. The above table outlines the necessary saves and resultant cold damage from being in water at various temperatures. Unlike pressure, Constitution saves against cold damage from water must be made each minute, even after a successful save. The table assumes that the creature is not wearing anything that will provide meaningful insulation while in water. Normal clothing or armor is of no benefit. A creature wearing a watertight outfit that captures a layer of water next to the skin (like a wet suit) has advantage on Constitution checks against the cold damage. Smearing the skin with grease or fat, which repels water, will provide a +5 bonus to the necessary Constitution saves. Of course, magical forms of protection from cold also apply.

D&D 5E – House Rules – Falling



One of the great things about the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons is that it is vert light on rules. One problem with adding more rules is that if we add too many we run the risk of this edition devolving back into  3rd edition. However that will not stop me from suggesting potential house rules. Think of these as possible ways to address common issues that may arise during play.

Falling Damage: The basic rule is simple: 1d6 points of damage per 10 feet fallen, to a maximum of 20d6.

Jumping to avoid damage: If a character deliberately jumps instead of merely slipping or falling, the character receives no damage for the first 10 feet and on a DC 15 DEX (Acrobatics) check he receives no damage for the first 20 feet and lands on his feet. Thus, a character who slips from a ledge 30 feet up takes 3d6 points of damage. If the same character deliberately jumped, he takes 2d6 points of damage. And if the character leaps down with a successful Dexterity (Acrobatics) check, he takes only 1d6 points of damage from the plunge.

Falling onto Soft Surface: Falls onto yielding surfaces (soft ground, mud) also ignores the first 1d6 points of damage. This reduction is cumulative with reduced damage due to deliberate jumps and the Athletics skill check.

Falling into Water: Falls into water are handled somewhat differently. If the water is at least 10 feet deep, you must succeed on a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to enter the water without damage. Otherwise you receive 1d6 points of damage from any fall up to 20 feet of falling. Regardless of the save, you receive an additional 1d6 of damage for every 10 feet fall beyond 20 feet.

Diving into Water: Characters who deliberately dive into water take no damage on a successful DC 15 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check, so long as the water is at least 10 feet deep for every 30 feet fallen. However, the DC of the check increases by 5 for every 50 feet of the dive.

Landing on Your Feet: The official rule is that you land prone unless you receive no damage from the fall. I have no problem with this. However, I don’t think it would break anything if you allow the character to land on his feet if he makes his Athletics check.

D&D – Horse Descriptions



I have been looking through my files and ran across several that you might find useful. I will make adjustments for 5E as necessary and share them. First here is one I ran across a couple of years ago.

You can use these tables to determine exactly how tall, what color, and what distinguishing markings were on the horses at the stables when the characters go shopping.

Hands Light (1d10) Medium (1d8) Heavy (1d6) Draft (1d6)
13-3 (4′-7″) 1
14 (4′-8″) 2
14-1 (4′-9″) 3
14-2 (4’10”) 4
14-3 (4’11”) 5
15 (5′-0″) 6 1
15-1 (5′-1″) 7 2
15-2 (5′-2″) 8 3
15-3 (5′-3″) 9 4
16 (5′-4″) 10 5 1
16-1 (5′-5″) 6 2
16-2 (5′-6″) 7 3
16-3 (5′-7″) 8 4 1
17 (5′-8″) 5 2
17-1 (5′-9″) 6 3
17-2 (5′-10″) 4
17-3 (5′-11″) 5
18 (6′-0″) 6
The height of a horse is measured by hands at the shoulder, with the number of hands followed by the number of fingers.  There are four fingers to a hand, and in modern times each finger is equal to an inch.

It is apparent that horses of the same height may fall into different categories.  The girth and weight of the horse and its overall build and musculature have as much to do with the “size” of a horse as its height.

The color of the horse and its markings may be rolled on this table.  This is not an all-inclusive collection; some horse colors may have black markings (socks and stockings, mostly), and all markings are individual to the horse, but this list gives sufficient variety for play.  1d20 is rolled to determine what color the horse is (the first two columns), and the remaining columns express the probability of the indicated markings.  If the horse has socks or stockings, roll 1d4 to determine how many it has. Socks and stockings are rolled separately and, although a horse may have some socks and some stockings, it can’t have a sock and a stocking on the same foot….

1d20 Horse
Mane &
Mane &
1-2 Brown Pinto  –  –  –  –  –  –
3 Black Pinto  –  –  –  –  –  –
4-6 Chestnut 8 10 6 6  –  –
7-10 Bay 8 10 6 6  –  –
11-12 Buckskin  –  –  –  –  –  –
13-16 Gray  –  –  –  –  – 5-6
17-19 Black 8 10 6 6 20  –
20 White*  –  –  –  –  –  –
*White horses are rather rare; most “white” horses are light-skinned Grays, and the referee may allow a roll to determine whether any particular Gray horse appears white, especially if it does not have dark markings.

But is it a boy or a girl horse?  From an historical perspective, occidental cavalry at the time of the Crusades rode stallions almost exclusively, while their mid-eastern opponents had an equally strong preference for mares; however, the first battle fought in the spring gave both sides an understanding of the disadvantages of this situation, and more geldings appeared (on both sides, I suspect) thereafter.  These balances reflect more the modern situation than the historic ones; the referee might determine that characters of a particular class or race will always ride one or another type.
1 Stallion
2-3 Gelding
4-6 Mare

Dragon Hunt – Chapter 2, Part 12 – There is a Dragon in the Palace


The grand marshal announced loudly, “Qewaxon the Great, Grand Wizard to the court of King Athyert Veray and his guest, representing the city of Rockport, Sir Olorry Gleamheart, exalted Paladin of Heironeous, leader of the military sodality of crossbowmen, archers, swordsmen, clerics and wizards of the first order dedicated to serving the deity Heironeous!”

The wizard Qewaxon and the paladin Sir Gleamheart were standing just inside the gilded entrance doors. All eyes were on them as they proceeded forward toward the king on his throne that set atop a low dais at the far end of the huge throne room. The room was decorated with many colorful banners and tapestries. Light was shining in through many large stained glass windows. The walls and columns were of the same gold infused marble as the hallway they had just left. A second floor visitor’s gallery ran along both sides, crowded with gaily clad lords and ladies, all straining to see the activities below. Under both galleries stood castle guards with shields and spears in hand. Behind the two rows of guards were knights and attendants, clerics and holy men, military and civilian authorities, land holders, and others.

They stopped at the foot of the dais. The wizard stood impatiently. The paladin unsheathed his sword and, holding it point down rested its tip on the polished floor in front of him, lowered his head, shifted one foot forward and lowered his other knee to the floor. His looked resplendent with his heavy white cape draping to the floor behind him but he felt inadequately dressed, having left both helm and shield in Rockport.

King Veray, dressed in his red velvet robe with ermine collar and golden crown, was sitting on his massive golden throne. He addressed the paladin, “My wizard informs me that you wish to address the crown. I declared this a day of open court with the purpose of meeting each of the knights before the start of the tourney. Tell me what business you have that is so urgent as to interrupt this day of festivities.”

The paladin remained silent, on one knee and head bowed.

“Arise, Sir Gleamheart!” commanded the king. “Don’t waste our time by having me repeat myself. Or have you been struck dumb by being in my presence?” At this the king smiled broadly at his joke and looked around at his assembled guests who responded with light laughter.

Sir Gleamheart rose, sheathed his sword and responded, “Your highness, I am indeed humbled in your presence. I beg your pardon for this interruption in your day but I chose neither the day nor the time for this audience. It has been thrust upon me by circumstances beyond my control.”

“Well you are here now,” said the king. “So get on with it.”

Looking around at all of the now solemn faces impatiently waiting to hear what he had to say, he began to understand the fear that the city guard had experienced when suddenly required to speak before the guests in the governor’s hall only a few minutes earlier. He decided to ignore the others and concentrate only on the king. He said, “I have come to ask for your help. An ancient red dragon is on the rampage in my homeland. The church of Heironeous is funding an expedition and has chosen me to lead it. I have assembled a group of fighters and enlisted the help of a renowned dragon tracker to find his lair se we can defeat him there. What I need is as many willing volunteers as you can spare to come with us on this quest. The more able fighters we have, the greater will be the chance of our success. They will of course share in any hoard found in his lair.”

The king turned to the wizard, “And what do you know of this?”

Qewaxon said, “The dragon is Abraxas. There are many ancient scrolls in our library describing his ruthlessness. It is well known that he lairs in the black mountains and some claim to know which mountain, but there is no record of anyone ever locating the lair, at least none who have survived. From what I have been able to piece together from current reports, a few years ago an item from his hoard went missing. He is too proud to admit that it may have been stolen, but he is certain that someone has it and is refusing to return it to him. At first he made a few vailed threats and destroyed a few villages. The more time that passes, the more obsessed he has become.”

The king asked, “What is this missing treasure?”

The wizard replied, “No one knows for sure. Abraxas has convinced himself that the thief is keeping it from him and knows perfectly well what it is. He has only referred to it as some type of gem.”

To Sir Gleamheart the king asked, “When is this quest to begin?”

“It was to have begun yesterday, Sire. We had assembled the party in Rockport when the dragon attacked the city and destroyed all of our wagons and most of our provisions. Although we lost only a few men in the attack, a large number have since resigned from the quest leaving us shorthanded and prompting my appeal here today. We should resume as soon as possible. I have already sent forward the scouts to mark the trail.”

“I am sorry for the suffering of your people, but what you ask is quite impossible,” said the king. “Even if I had the fighting men to spare, it would take several months of hard travel for them to reach Rockport from here.”

Gleamheart said, “Couldn’t your wizard teleport them there, as he brought me here?”

The king said, “Being a stranger here, perhaps you are unaware of my decree forbidding all knights and fighting men the use of magical teleport spells into or out of the Golden City of Wheathorp, except in emergency situations or by the expressed consent of the king.”

“Pardon my asking,” said Sir Gleamheart, “but why would you have such a decree?”

“Because it is too dangerous,” said the king. “Four years ago a group of adventurers left here by teleport spell to stop a goblin invasion it Landshire. They were successful, but when they returned, there was a mishap. The wizard’s teleport spell landed them three miles out to sea. Only the wizard survived.”

“If I might add,” said the wizard. “Even if we had the king’s approval, I can only cast a single teleport spell each day.” Before the paladin could remind him that he had already teleported twice today he added, “I used an old teleport scroll to travel to Rockport today and used my one teleport spell to bring you here. The point is, I can take a maximum of 8 willing creatures with me. For me to teleport a large number of fighters from here to Rockport, along with their mounts and provisions, would take several weeks.”

“There is no reason to discuss this further,” said the king. “I will not give my consent.”

“But your majesty, surely …”

The king interrupted him, “Yours isn’t the only mountain in my kingdom with a menacing red dragon. Also, between your mountain and here is a swamp with a black dragon that is stirring up trouble. I have blue dragons in the deserts and green dragons in the forests. I even have white dragons in the frozen north. That doesn’t even count all of the metallic, the so-called good dragons, that are disrupting civil order. Surely you don’t expect me to send troops to deal with all of them. That is why I have local leaders throughout the kingdom that maintain their own troops. As much as it pains me to say this, you and your governor must deal with this dragon on your own.”

He paused a minute and then asked, “What did you say this dragon’s name is?”

No one noticed the nearly invisible ball floating near the ceiling. Someone was magically scrying on these proceedings.

“His name is Abraxas your majesty,” replied Gleamheart.

“Abraxas… Abraxas… I know that name,” said the king. “I was told tales of him when I was a child. A monster to scare children. As I remember the stories he has a complete lack of feeling or compassion. He is big and mean but you and your group should have no trouble defeating him. As I understand it he is a weak gutless coward who was not even able to prevent a thief from walking into his lair and walking out with whatever he desired.”

The magical scrying ball disappeared and the room shook with the sudden appearance of a gigantic red scaled beast that filled the space from the gilded entrance doors to the backs of Gleamheart and the wizard. Abraxas had materialized and he was angry. His head rose well above the heads of the observers on the balcony and he stood with his tail flicking behind him. His wings were raised above his back nearly scraping the ceiling above. The room filled with the smell of burning sulfur as whiffs of smoke puffed out of his flaring nostrils.

Many were overcome with a fear that could not be controlled. There were screams as people pushed and shoved to stumble down the narrow stairways and out through the closest exits. Many a brave lord positioned himself between his lady and the dragon but for others fear overcame valor as they pushed their way to safety. Only the bravest knights and guards remained steady. Sir Gleamheart felt no fear as he drew his sword to protect the king. Being near the fearless paladin gave Qewaxon the courage to dash up the dais and cast a protection spell that surrounded both himself and the king.

Abraxas spoke in a thunderous voice that could be heard over the screams, “Lies! These are all lies! I am not …” He was stopped in mid-sentence by a spear hurled by a guard who was standing near his right foot. The spear pierced the frill that swept back from his jaw. He quickly turned to face his attacker. Flames of anger licked up from his eyes and nostrils. A cone of fire roared from his mouth engulfing the guard and everyone behind him. The flame boiled up the back wall as the gold veined marble blackened and cracked. Banners and flags were set ablaze. Those who didn’t collapse in the blast ran from the area with hair and clothing on fire.

Other guards and knights threw spears and fired arrows. Most either missed their mark or simply bounced off the dragon’s armor-like scales. A few found a crack between scales or hit with enough force to penetrate but Abraxas ignored them as he crashed his tail against the columns supporting the left balcony, knocking them out from under the gallery causing it to come crashing down upon those beneath and spilling the panicked guests out onto the lower level resulting in a great number of casualties. The blood-curdling screams of a knight split the air as Abraxas bit his arm and tore it off above his shoulder. At the same time, the dragon’s sword-like claws fatally slashed open a frightened noble.

Sir Gleamheart took the hilt of his long sword in both hands and charged the dragon. The air surrounding Abraxas rolled in waves from the heat of his body. Gleamheart threw all of his weight into his attack as he landed a tremendous blow with his sword into the dragon’s chest. The sword crunched through scale and muscle to bury itself nearly to its hilt. Abraxas slapped Sir Gleamheart away with the back of his hand, as one might swat away a bothersome fly. The blow sent the paladin flying back up the dais where his head met with the corner of the throne and he collapsed unconscious into a heap at the king’s feet.

As he plucked the sword from his chest, Abraxas said, “If my treasure is returned I might decide to sleep another 50 to 100 years. Otherwise I will destroy your entire kingdom.”

The gilded doors flew open and all of the knights that had been waiting in the hall started running in with sword spear and lance.

With a roll of his eyes as if he were simply tired of the fight, Abraxas disappeared as suddenly as he had appeared.

After the fires had been extinguished, Sir Gleamheart healed, the dead removed and the wounded tended to, King Veray declared the tournament canceled and ordered Qewaxon to provide all the teleport spells that Sir Gleamheart required. He declared the defeat of the dragon that destroyed his throne room to be a royal quest and that all volunteers that joined the quest would have the gratitude of the crown. There was no shortage of volunteers. Most of the knights who had arrived from across the realm to prove themselves in the tournament were eager to join their peers in an actual dragon hunt. The king also promised to provide all weapons, mounts, equipment and supplies they might need.

Back in Rockport, Governor Patrick broke the seal on the message Qewaxon had left. It bore the royal seal of King Veray. It was a royal decree levying a 20 percent tax on all recovered dragon hoards.


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