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Postfest V, Part III: Coiled Dragons of the Hool Marshes
Posted on Sun, September 11, 2005 by Dongul
wolfsire writes "
Tucked into a copy of “The Magical Properties of Gemstones” by Mage Tenser, found in ruined library of an old abandoned mansion outside of Saltmarsh, Keoland, there is a curiously preserved undated letter addressing Coiled Dragons of the Hool Marshes.


Coiled Dragons of the Hool Marshes
By: wolfsire
Used with permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

Worthy Nofnic,

As you agreed, swamp dragons normally are of little interest to any reasonable gnome. But, as you also know, I am quite fascinated with the idea of one day setting my eyes upon the Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty. It has led me, at least in my research, to the dark waters of the Hool Marshes and far beyond. Too often has the Lion Throne, which long kept that treasure, marched south upon the sea-brigands and braved that mire. Too often have ne’er-do-wells sought refuge there; and far too many Black and Coiled Dragons lurk therein for it not to be possible, even likely, that the Jacinth would have made its way into the hoard of some fell beast if it passed that way, as I think it did. So, to various tomes I bent my spectacles, and those referencing Coiled Dragons first as they, like the Jacinth, have a connection to the West.

To some it might seem strange that Coiled Dragons, so different from the chromatics and metallics native to the Flanaess, would inhabit the Hool Marshes. It is now known that Coiled Dragons were originally from to the Far West, beyond even the Bakluni lands, where the Celestial Imperium and Dragons Island lie. There they are called Pan Lung. I have found that there are numerous sources for this information, from scholarly accounts of mythical tales brought east by the Brazen Horde, documented during the reign of Tavish the Great, to more recent rumors from drunken pirates that tell of a Bakluni-philo-phobic Suloise mage who settled in Hepmonaland in part to understand why migrating Bullywugs worshipped one such dragon. It is said that that Coiled was later slain by a Black Dragon. There are no accounts that such worship exists in the Hool, but is understandably of great interest to pirates as both Coiled Dragons and Bullywugs have been dangers to them since before the Toli occupation the Marshes and because Coiled Dragons are known to cooperate with the dominant humanoid race there, the Lizardmen.

Some differences have been noted between the Coiled of the Hool and those of the Far West. They are more reclusive and have never been known to make an appearance in civilized lands. They tend to have the more subdued colors of green, blue and black, in combination, whereas those of the Far West are usually described as being brilliantly and predominantly red, yellow or white. Those of the Hool also tend to be somewhat smaller, if that is the right term for a serpentine beast over fifty feet in length, almost never reaching the huge size more common in the western variant.

What I have recently discovered is that Coiled Dragons, similar to those of the Far West, also inhabits the Far South. Few captains have braved the voyage beyond the Densac Gulf, due to the regular monsoons and numerous sea monsters along the eastern Coast of the Amedio. However, it has happened more than once and been documented. There the Vohoun Ocean is dotted with many island chains inhabited by dragons, the Coiled among them. Some are even of purple hue. There is even a body of water there of interest within an empire of the so-called Nipponese people, who apparently are culturally related in some degree to the far western Bakluni. It is called the Sea of the Dragon Kings, reminiscent of Dragons Island.

What does this have to do with the Hool Marshes? It suggests a possible route and reason for migration, which ultimately bears on my search for the Jacinth. Certainly, with their ability to fly invisibly, Coiled Dragons would have little difficulty moving to any place on Oerth, save perhaps across such barriers as the Sea of Dust. But their desires would have been critical to any migration. They prefer swamps and marshes. Whether they ever inhabited such regions within the old Suloise or Bakluni empires before the Twin Cataclysms devastated those lands may never be known, but I have my doubts.

I strongly suspect that beyond the Flanaess, in the Far West and South, there is a human mentality that reveres, and not simply fears, dragons, more so than what has been suggested about the early Flan. Furthermore, I postulate that there is something in the character of Coiled Dragons that desires to be revered, but that they do not have the temperament to cultivate such reverence, even though, like all dragons, they can inspire fear as they age. Rather, I think they are drawn to, and have been carried along by, such reverence.

Here, the rumors of one such dragon being worshiped in Hepmonaland by migrating Bullywugs come into play. The worship testifies to reverence, although given the apparent lack of it in the Hool, I suspect that worship is not quite ideal for them. The migration was reported to actually involve the carrying of a dragon egg and suggests that they might have inhabited the Amedio Jungle. Jungles are not the preferred habitats of the Coiled, but within such lands are many lakes, ponds, swamps and other wetlands. Furthermore, recent investigations have revealed that in the ancient past, well before the appearance of the Olman, there existed in the Amedio an intelligent, bullywug-like people, probably somewhat civilized insofar as they have left evidence of their existence, which were later displaced by a vicious subterranean troglodyte civilization that was associated with Black Dragons. This information makes it quite possible that over thousands of years, Bullywugs and their ancestors brought Coiled Dragons from the islands of the Vohoun Ocean and were driven north to the islands of the southern Azure Sea. From there it was but a step to the Hool Marshes.

This would help explain their relationship with Black Dragons. Any two large predators will contest the same ground and the Black and the Coiled are very closely matched. But for the almost cat-like indifference of the Coiled, it might be the stronger with its higher intelligence, sleeplessness, constricting ability, and numerous spell-like powers. However, in those rare cases when it has been witnessed, more often than not it has been the Black acidic breath and evil, willful determination that prevailed. Likely, it is the dialectically reclusive and associative nature of the Coiled that keeps them from being driven from the Hool. I think they instinctively settle near communities, awaiting discovery, while at the same time generally doing what they can to prevent it, such as hiding and eating unfortunate passersby. This would ensure their survival because either they cannot be found by the Black or they are protected by those more capable of directing their exceptional abilities and supported by strength of arms.

This interplay between the Black and the Coiled has immediate application to any search for the Jacinth as two powerful and unique Lizard Kings presently rule in the northeastern Hool Marshes. Although, I have been able to discover little else about them, it is said the King Sakatha of legend still exists and is assisted by a very old Black Dragon, while a new King Yiss has arisen and is assisted by an exceptionally rare huge very old Coiled. Whether these King are at odds, pitting their dragons against each other, or is an alliance, reining in the differences between their dragons and marshalling their power for greater conquest, is unknown, perhaps even to them. However, I cannot help but think that this involves the interplay between the lizard-gods Semuanya and Sess'innek, as their personalities seem to be reflected in those of the dragons.

So you can see that if indeed the Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty is in the Hool, and not simply lost forever at the bottom of some nameless bog, negotiating the powers that be there could be greatly facilitated by an understanding of the motivations of Coiled Dragons. For these reasons, I think we should seek to encourage this understanding, and assist any likely adventures brave enough to enter the realms of the Kings Yiss and Sakatha.

May your gold always glitter,
Master Blom Twinklecut of Longspear

P.S.: It occurs to me, although I have read no account of it, that it is possible Coiled Dragons have migrated up the Javan River and settled in the Rushmoors. It would be worth it to investigate that possibility if for no other reason than to see the mortification on the dour faces of the Knights of the Watch, if they were to find that out and know of their origin.

Sources:
Fiend Folio
Monster Manual
Green Nightmare: The Amedio Jungle, Part I,, Oerth Journal 4, by Roger E. Moore.
Greychrondex Version 4.2, by Steven B. Wilson at Canonfire!
Greyhawk Adventures map of Oerth
Wyrms of the Flanaess: Gouthogg by Osmund-Davizid at Canonfire!
Posts in the Canonfire! Forum: Wyrms of the Flanaess and Ur-Flan strongholds
Adventure modules I1, Dwellers of the Forbidden City, I2 Tomb of the Lizard King, I7 Baltron's Beacon, U1 Secret of Saltmarsh and U2 Danger at Dunwater
Gods of Greyhawk, available at:
http://www.cmc.net/~rtaylor/greyhawk/gods/semuanya.html
"
 
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Pan Lungs in the Flanaess (Score: 1)
by Osmund-Davizid on Mon, September 12, 2005
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Well put!

As alluded to in the article, I found that oriental dragons were out of place in the Flanaess - but this article helps explain why this particular variety seems to keep popping up in old modules.  This is as good an explanation as any and done in a good scholarly style. 

Good article in that it also incorporated the various sources in a way to be useable as springboards to other adventures.

This gets a solid 4 stars from me! Great work! 

O-D



Re: Pan Lungs in the Flanaess (Score: 1)
by Wolfsire on Mon, September 12, 2005
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Hopefully, it also gives them less of an alien feel.  That was part of my intent associating them with local monsters, working with the colors and using the less oriental name.  Thank for you comment O-D, and thanks for the inspiration.



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