Lore-Win: Old Gnawbone and her Dramas
Over the course of the last year-and-a-bit, sitting around at home and watching dramas has become a more accepted pastime in the real world.
But, as it goes, over the course of a long enough time, everything is almost guaranteed to happen. So should we be surprised that a dragon beat us all to the punch and has been sitting around, watching dramas on the old crystal ball?
All the while, snacking away on some good old junk food.
Welcome to Lore-Win, the Dungeons and Dragons lore series. I, as always, am your humble Loremaster, Sokar. Today we’re delving into the woods and caves along the Sword Coast, between Waterdeep and Neverwinter to its north.
Here we shall return to matters of the draconic, and in particular the green dragon known as Old Gnawbone.
Nuisance of the Coast
Old Gnawbone, or Claugiyliamatar if you’d rather use her more unpronounceable, draconic name, is a green dragon who appeared on the Sword Coast in 1303 DR. She settled in a region known as the Kryptgarden Forest. This is a forest to the north of Waterdeep, along the west side of the Long Road that runs from Waterdeep up to the north of the Sword Coast.
Here, she made her home inside a cave known as the Deeping Cave. The origins of this name are lost to time, dating back to far before Old Gnawbone took up residence there. From here she lays claim to a huge swathe of the Sword Coast. From Waterdeep to Neverwinter, she counts as her domain. Certainly, this may only be true in her own mind but it is inadvisable to disagree with a dragon to their face.
Besides, whether or not she controls such a vast domain, she is no less dangerous.
Claugiyliamatar is known for being cunning, cruel, and paranoid. She has pulled off grand cons on powerful people and escaped unscathed. She likes to play with her prey, tormenting them to the point that some potential victims have escaped her clutches solely thanks to her preference to watch them suffer.
From her lair, Gnawbone is known to delight in the hunt. From time to time, she has been known to devour fields of almost-ripe grain before farmers can harvest it. She preys on food caravans travelling the roads, eating men, beasts, and cargo alike. She lifts whole carts away and drops them on houses in Waterdeep as an especially lethal celebration. And when orcs invade the land, she bloats herself on goblinkind and retires to her lair to sleep off the meal.
But her favourite prey are small bands of armed travelers. Especially ones who may have magic she can plunder.
You know, adventurers.
Pictured here: A fighter. The most adventurer of adventurer classes.
Source: Player Hand Book (5e)
Old Gnawbone earned her nickname due to a particular habit observed by those that survived encounters with her. Much like someone may chew on a pipe, cigar, or gum, Gnawbone liked to… well, gnaw on bones.
She specifically would carry about a corpse, munching on it like a snack whenever she pleased.
Dreams of Humanity
And this somewhat-human habit is indicative of Old Gnawbones’ grander dreams. Throughout her dealings with humanity, the green wyrm has come to be fascinated with human and elven women in positions of power.
So fascinated in fact, that she greatly enjoys watching their lives play out. You know, like a soap opera!
Within her lair, Claugiyliamatar has built up quite the collection of crystal balls. These, she uses to watch over those who fascinate her, and live vicariously through them. For the green wyrm wishes most of all to experience the hustle and bustle of the city in human form.
She wants to experience the usual city things that humans do. Like knifings in a back alley, for example. Not with human strength, mind you. Even in this human form, she wishes to maintain her draconic power.
Which leads to her second fascination, magic.
And really, can you blame her? It's MAGIC!
Source: Player's Hand Book (5e)
Gnawbone desperately desires the magic needed to transform herself into human form while still able to access her draconic abilities. Unlike Iymrith, Claugiyliamatar lacks the magical power to do so on her own. So she turned to hire a wizard instead.
The green wyrm hired the wizard Hyrix Greentree to craft a spell that would transform her as she wished. However, the wizard had other ideas. Once Gnawbone transformed, she would be able to call upon her draconic abilities. However, she would also be Hyrix’s charmed slave.
The end result of this deception is what you might expect. Old Gnawbone found out. Hyrix died painfully. And now, occasionally, his silent, screaming visage appears above the scroll he prepared.
Claugiyliamatar ignores it.
Outside of dropping the occasional wagon on houses, this leaves the green wyrm incapable of directly influencing the affairs of cities. This is why she has assembled a cadre of human and halfling agents.
Using these operatives, Gnawbone makes great profits on goods that she has made scarce by her attacks on trade caravans. They take the riches made on these sales and invest them into businesses. She finds great thrills in influencing affairs from the shadows as such, stirring up rivalries and gaining more influence from her coin.
Usually, Gnawbone herself is found far from the cities, though. In fact, she prefers to stay in her lair in the Deeping Cave, resting upon her hoard or watching her crystal balls. While she lounges, she has servants attend to her. These servants are men dressed in decorative manacles, and they polish her scales with ointments she designed. As payment, they are allowed to take one handful of her riches. Though if she ever suspects treachery from them, she has been known to roll over and crush them beneath her.
Brokengulf and Broken Towers
Sometimes, however, Gnawbone decides to take action herself. This often bodes poorly for wherever she targets.
One famous incident that displays her cunning, cruelty, and twisted sense of humor was when she targeted a Waterdhavian noble house directly. Disguising herself as a silver dragon, she tricked the lord Saerlin Brokengulf into hiring her to rid the lands of herself.
After sealing the deal, Gnawbone returned to her lair and scried upon the noble to discover where the promised reward for such a bounty was kept. Swooping in, Gnawbone proceeded to devour the men guarding the prize, destroy the location, and make off with the riches. Next, she created an illusory battle between herself and her silver dragon disguise.
In the course of this “battle”, Gnawbone smashed fences, scared livestock, and just generally tore the place up before the two “dragons” vanished behind a mountain. Taking the guise of her silver persona once more, she returned to the Brokengulf lands and perched upon a house. There, she demanded her payment, lest she destroy the house she perched upon.
Terrified of the wyrm, Brokengulf scrambled to find a replacement reward and piled it into a boat, which Gnawbone carried away. She proceeded to spend a leisurely ten days sorting and counting her newfound riches, stashing them away in hidden lairs.
But her plan had not yet ended. After transporting her hoard to her mountain stashes, she returned to the Brokengulch lands. This time, she wore no disguise and landed at their towers. There, she angrily demanded twice what the “silver slayer” had been paid lest she devour the whole family. When Lord Brokengulch tried to stall for time, she toppled the grandest tower present and crushed three of Lord Brokengulch’s sisters.
She got her reward—though it nearly bankrupt the house as a result.
Satisfied with her rewards, Gnawbone returned to her lair, destroying the rest of the Brokengulch villa casually as she left.
There, she laid low while the rest of her plan unfurled.
The forces of Waterdeep took to the Kryptgrave Forest, seeking to destroy a green dragon bold enough to attack a noble of the City of Splendors. Unknown to them, a rival green dragon had been making himself a home in the forests, challenging Gnawbone’s dominion over the region. The army found this young, rambunctious dragon and assumed they had found their culprit.
Waterdeep breathed easier, safe in the knowledge that they had slain a threat. Meanwhile, Gnawbone sat smug in the knowledge that she had eliminated a rival, and gotten rich doing it.
Threats to Power
The upstart green dragon’s demise is no surprise, however. Gnawbone does not take kindly to other dragons who encroach on her territory, something that she has shown time and time again.
A lasting reminder of this exists in Lance Rock. This landmark appears as if a boulder were hurled down, piercing the ground from some great height. And it looks that way, because that’s exactly what happened.
Scrying upon a brash red dragon who enjoyed the look of the region, Gnawbone waited until the hunting wyrm had eaten his share of deer and found a nice, quiet place for a nap. At which point she picked up a boulder nearly as big as herself, and dropped it upon him.
In general, Gnawbone doesn’t care for other dragons. She turns away suitors, and doesn’t care to raise wyrmlings. Though, she is noted to have at least one green dragon son.
Of course, there are some threats that even Gnawbone dares not try to deal with. More powerful dragons are one such threat, and Gnawbone prefers to stay out of their notice. She also fears what would happen if more powerful mages—such as the Blackstaff—came to confront her. And while Gnawbone enjoys taking scraps of magic from any adventurers foolish enough to confront her, she does try to keep her name out of the public eye lest these greater dangers appear on her doorstep.
One known tactic she uses is to employ bards, spinning tales, and singing songs of the dragon Gnawbone who once inhabited the land.
Yet other, less-known threats exist as well. For as clever as Gnawbone believes she is, the mages of Waterdeep, Neverwinter, and more recently, Silverymoon are well aware that she is scrying upon them.
None dare interfere with her preferred programming directly, but some do create illusionary tales of drama for her to watch. One mage from Silverymoon in particular has captured Gnawbone’s attention with scandalous scenes of a handsome young green dragon who has taken the form of a dashing human and courts highborn ladies. Many of her agents in the city have been noted to be looking for this individual, though their search has borne no fruit.
What they have borne, however, are curses. Or rather, spells targeted at their master. Without their knowledge, of course. In her presence, these spells are supposed to send Gnawbone into a deep slumber, at which point the cities may send adventurers to deal with their draconic nuisance.
Unfortunately for them, none of these have had the intended effect. Fortunately for them all, Gnawbone hasn’t noticed and passes off any distortions as defensive spells meddling in her shows.
More recently, Gnawbone has rebuffed an adventurer who asked for her aid in slaying a drow-dragon. During the Rage of Dragons, she battled with other green wyrms who forced her to flee her domain. In the process, she encountered a group known as the Cult of the Dragon, who offered her lichdom.
It seems that she didn’t take them up on the offer.
Still, Gnawbone dreams of being able to attain human form. She dreams of becoming a Queen, perhaps of Waterdeep, and if she can’t hire a wizard…
Well, there are other options.
Gnawbone has considered finding magically inclined orphans and raising them as a friend. A friend that they may feel indebted to. Indebted enough even to craft a specific spell, perhaps. She uses her crystal balls to try and find a handful of suitable candidates. That way if one “goes bad”... she has others to fall back on.
But whatever her long-term plans may be, it will be up to your DM if they effect your party. And she may just play a little role in Storm King’s Thunder. Plus, if you’d prefer her in card form, you can get your Old Gnawbone at the Tower!
Until next time, may fortune favour you.