Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Eating a Dragon Heart

Sigurd/Siegfried sucks his thumb after burning it while
cooking Fafnir's heart--he is about to understand birdspeech ...

[after slaying the dragon Fafnir] ... Therewith Sigurd cut out the heart of the worm with the sword called Ridil; but Regin drank of Fafnir's blood, and spake, "Grant me a boon, and do a thing little for thee to do. Bear the heart to the fire, and roast it, and give me thereof to eat."

Then Sigurd went his ways and roasted it on a rod; and when the blood bubbled out he laid his finger thereon to essay it, if it were fully done; and then he set his finger in his mouth, and lo, when the heart-blood of the worm touched his tongue, straightway he knew the voice of all fowls, and heard withal how the wood-peckers chattered in the brake beside him--

"There sittest thou, Sigurd, roasting Fafnir's heart for another, that thou shouldest eat thine ownself, and then thou shouldest become the wisest of all men."

And another spake: "There lies Regin, minded to beguile the man who trusts in him."
But yet again said the third, "Let him smite the head from off him then, and be only lord of all that gold."

And once more the fourth spake and said, "Ah, the wiser were he if he followed after that good counsel, and rode thereafter to Fafnir's lair, and took to him that mighty treasure that lieth there, and then rode over Hindfell, whereas sleeps Brynhild; for there would he get great wisdom. Ah, wise he were, if he did after your redes, and bethought him of his own weal; 'for where wolf's ears are, wolf's teeth are near.'"

Then cried the fifth: "Yea, yea, not so wise is he as I deem him, if he spareth him whose brother he hath slain already."

At last spake the sixth: "Handy and good rede to slay him, and be lord of the treasure!"

Then said Sigurd, "The time is unborn wherein Regin shall be my bane; nay, rather one road shall both these brothers fare."

And therewith he drew his sword Gram and struck off Regin's head. ...

("Chapter XIX: Of the Slaying of Regin, Son of Hreidmar", The Volsung Saga, translated by William Morris and Eirikr Magnusson, 1888, retrieved online from Sacred Texts)


Drawing from this instance of Sigurd/Siegfried gaining magical knowledge from the heart of Fafnir (not a true dragon, you might say, being a dwarf transformed by curse into a worm, but bah! a dragon I call him) ... and also from the parallel story of Finn cooking the Salmon of Knowledge, burning his thumb on it, sucking his thumb, and thus gaining knowledge ... in my game, eating the heart of a dragon earns a character magical wisdom, strength, lore, or other strange powers.

Several dragons have been killed over the course of the years, and several hearts eaten, and several powers/advantages gained ... and once I even got a player (my wife!) rolling her eyes at bonuses to her character's attributes, a most coveted use of the wish spell in the ancient days--and she just rolled her eyes! D&D players--you just can't please 'em.

Anyway, for dragon hearts I use a d12 table, because I like the variety without it being overboard. A friend of mine who took to B/X D&D with alacrity and who has hosted a longstanding campaign when I wish to play, took my table and ran with it, adding all kinds of bells and whistles, with saves, percentile dice, etc.--and my characters have taken advantage, believe it well, when we have slain dragons in his game--but I retain the simple d12 table for my game. (Actually, several ... I keep losing them)

So here's the current incarnation:

Eating a Dragon Heart

1 - comprehend languages at will

2 - 1 first level spell, determined at random; can be used even by a character in armor, like an Elf

3 - 1 second level spell, determined at random; can be used even by a character in armor

4 - (1-2) +1 Strength, (3-4) +1 Dexterity, (5-6) +1 Constitution

5 - (1-2) +1 Intelligence, (3-4) +1 Wisdom, (5) +1 INT, +1 Charisma, (6) +1 WIS, +1 CHA

6 - dragon skin, -1 AC, -1 reactions

7 - dragon awe, +1 reactions, enemy Morale -1

8 - dragon power, +1 to hit, +1 to damage

9 - dragon eyes, +1 reactions, charm person 1/day

10 - +1 STR, DEX, CON, max 18

11 - +1 INT, WIS, CHA, max 18

12 - 1 first and 1 second level spell, determined randomly, may be cast by armored characters

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