The Dragon of Dungeon
The city-state of Dungeon is a metropolis built upon a mostly-subterranean fortress created during darker times when people needed protection from the outside world. Those times are now past, and the people are able to live freely upon the surface again. However, in those dangerous times, power was consolidated and centralized within the subterranean bastion–it is still the primary storehouse of goods and treasure, and the location of the prison, the garrison of the region’s large military forces, and the palace of the ruler.
Thus, the city was named for the fortress, and is simply called Dungeon.
The ruler of Dungeon, even when it was only a fortress, has always taken the title the Dragon. The Dragon is both military commander and absolute ruler of the city. The Dragon always has two lieutenants, always female (the Dragon’s gender varies, but thanks to various potions and magic, dragons are so long-lived that there have only been a few), and always spellcasters.
The first of these lieutenants, the Medusa, commands the Dragon’s elite peacekeeping force, the Basilisks. She and her troops are always concealed in hideous and terrifying masks. In times when the city itself is under attack, the Basilisks call upon the help of another elite unit, the Manticores, who wield a variety of unique (and devastating) ranged weapons.
The Dragon’s other lieutenant takes the title the Lamia, and she commands the Dragon’s secret police and spies, called the Stalkers. They have a reputation of being so good at what they do that most people believe them to be invisible. The people of Dungeon fear being taken in the night by the Stalkers and thrown into a secret location, known in whispers as the Mind Flayer, for interrogation at the hands of the Beholder (from which, no one returns). The Beholder sees all.
Both lieutenants have equal authority over the rowdy rabble that the makes up most of the Dragon’s military which he uses to hold sway over the surrounding lands. These non-elite troops are simply called the Outer Ranks. The slang term “ork” is often used derogatorily, but the orks have claimed it as their own.
The people of Dungeon are kept safe by this large military, but supporting it has been onerous. Although the city has its upper class, most of the citizens are poor and toil throughout their lives just to survive. The poorest of the poor, who are without actual jobs, are referred to as the carrion crawlers for obvious and horrific reasons. Others not quite so downtrodden have to face the threat and danger of the city’s three prominent thieves’ guilds, who call themselves the Shadar-Kai, the Skulks, and the Bugbears. The fact that the guilds can exist at all in a place with such powerful peacekeepers suggests to some that they are in fact paying off the authorities, perhaps giving money even to the Dragon himself.
In the city, retired soldiers who are now old men (and thus few in number, because life is dangerous in and around Dungeon) gather together to whisper secrets. Although dismissed as “owlbears” by most, these men are actually wise and have seen much. A few say that a savior with the power to overthrow the Dragon lies imprisoned in the prison below Dungeon, particuarly watched over by the Medusa. This mysterious figure–if she is even real–is referred to as Catoblepas. It is said to even look upon her is punishable by death.
In such a setting, do the PCs fight against the Dragon, and attempt to undermine his rule? Do they attempt to plunder the subterranean portion of the dungeon? Or do they work for the system, hoping to attain their own unique ranks amid the hierarchy–it is said that titles such as Wyvern, Golem, Efreet, and others have been used in the past.