January 16, 2014

The Lake of Woe

The Lake of Woe is a salt lake in an unpeopled corner of wilderness. It is fed by springs descending from the glacial peaks to the east. Five years ago the lake was fresh. When the dragon Brinewing was driven from the western shipping lanes by the sea kings she blocked the lake’s outlets and let it grow brackish. Now the lake is desolate, denuded of all but the hardiest plant life with shores littered with the mummified remains of creatures that have displeased her. The only movement on the shores of the Lake of Woe today are the clouds of flies which cover everything like a vile black carpet.

Brinewing is a salt dragon. She measures thirty feet long in a sickly yellow, muted by a thick crust of salt that has built up on her scales from bathing in the Lake of Woe. She is not particularly intelligent but is vain, territorial, and easily enraged. In place of fire she breathes clouds of superheated salt which burn and desiccate. Her lair lies in the most inhospitable southern sections of the lake on a peninsula of stone and crenelated salt. During the day she is more likely to be found sunning herself on the shores to the east of the lake or flying paranoid circles over her watery territory. The only creatures she permits to approach her presence are her ‘pets,’ the brine shrimp which infest the waters of the lake and can grow to an enormous size.

Hidden in the hills to the west is the Clay Palace, a monastery of salt monks dedicated to achieving enlightenment through self denial and desiccation. The Clay Palace proper is a compound of mud brick building on the shores of the lake, but the coming of Brinewing drove the the monks away. Now it lies abandoned, a ramshackle monument to the dragon’s dominance. The survivors carved out rows of cells along the canyon walls south beyond the dam the dragon created from shattered mountain pinnacles. Here they are protected from the dragon’s sight by overhanging stone. The wisest of their order are little more than leathery husks. Their minds are only lightly tethered to their almost immobile bodies, and drift throughout the region like silent ghosts. Should something threaten the monastery can steal the water from less enlightened monk’s bodies and achieving a lurching mobility. Their mental wanderings have left them utterly without empathy and terrifying in combat.

  1. The buzzing clouds of salt flies become impossibly thick, sucking the moisture from bare skin and creeping into mouths and noses
  2. Salt mephits
  3. The salt crust covering the ground here gives way, uncovering a large sinkhole. Contains: 1-salt water 2-nest of hungry brine shrimp 3-jagged old bones 4-caustic mineral bath 5-meditation chamber of a salt monk 6-treasure
  4. A gale kicks up a wall of acrid dust, cutting visibility to mere feet and scouring unprotected flesh, it lasts for 1d6 hours
  5. 1d6 pilgrims to the Clay Palace. Either 1-3 arriving, or 4-6 departing
  6. The wandering psyche of an elder salt monk
  7. Mummified remains of the dragon’s victims, a quarter of the time the corpses will rise as undead: 1-2 caravan, 1d6 humanoids, 1d4 pack animals 3- 1d6 wolves 4-2d8 herd animals 5-bats 6-giant eagle
  8. A quartet of salt monks carrying the body of an elder on a palanquin
  9. The blasted wreck of a small village, 1 in 6 are inhabited by something horrible
  10. Mirages appear, hauntingly real until touched: 1- rows of saltwhite children 2-oasis 3-attacking army 4-crystal castle 5-apocalyptic vision 6-the dragon
  11. The rainbow-colored crust around this dried pond is a potent drug: 1-2-hallucinogen 3-4-stimulant 5-6-deadly poison
  12. Brinewing appears

More info on Brinewing, the Clay Palace, and a map forthcoming!


  1. Very cool...may have to add this somewhere in my little campaign world.

    1. Thanks! I'm hoping it's very useful once I have the map and critters stats done.