Dragons in the world of Cloak and Coin

Though there are a number of creatures that have draconic blood, Greater Dragons are rare. Dragons are large, reptilian beasts. The most powerful of the intelligent races, they are the apex of a predatory chain. An ancient race, they have seen the rise and fall of innumerable empires. For most people, dragons had become a part of legend and myth. The Severing, however, changed all that. For centuries, the dragons lay in deep slumber waiting for a new epoch. While sleeping, the dragons had been sustained by the threads that connected them to the other planes. When those threads were cut, they began to awaken.

Greater dragons share many traits. They tend to be large and powerful with scales of iridescent metals – bright copper, pale silver, shining gold, and dark iron. Though mankind may categorize dragons by the color of their scales, this has little meaning beyond physical appearance and basic ecology. For example, iron dragons tend to be the largest of their kind, while silver dragons are the smallest. Copper dragons, their scales sometimes taking on lighter golden hues, tend to be closer in size to iron dragons.

Dragons get their sustenance from the magical essence and spirit that is found in all living things and in magical artifacts. Generally, this means that these powerful predators can live not only on flesh but also on ancient relics and treasures. Dragons vary in tastes and moral behavior. Though they consider other intelligent races as lesser beings, there are some dragons that choose to sustain themselves solely on relics and treasures. There are others who believe that only an emotionally agitated sentient creature provides sufficient nourishment. Better one suffering elf every month or so than a score of content ones.
It should be of no surprise that creatures as powerful as dragons tend to be arrogant and haughty. They recognize their superiority and place in the world.

Aside from this broad pattern, every dragon has a unique personality. A fearsome looking dark hued iron dragon can be compassionate and generous to those with whom it shares a domain, while a regal copper dragon can be malicious and cruel.

All dragons have the capacity to take on a humanoid form. In this form, dragons look like tall, lithe humans. Skin tones tend to correspond to their draconic form. Though difficult, it is possible for the observant person to realize when she is in the presence of a dragon by looking for subtle signs. The eyes of a dragon tend to be flecked with metal while patches of skin here and there may still bear fine draconic scales.

Inspiration and Peril

The follow rules expand on rewarding and using Inspiration and introduces Peril as a parallel rule for game masters.

In Cloak & Coin, Inspiration is momentum and opportunity. It reflects players taking the story and driving it forward rather than dithering. Peril is tension and the potential for things to go wrong. Peril reflects the threats and obstacles that can challenge players. Inspiration builds as the characters are encouraged by their successes and draw on their personality, while peril increases the threats and challenges when their foes capitalize on their mistakes.

While Inspiration is a clear reward to players, Peril should not be seen – or used – as punishment. Peril occurs when characters may have lost momentum or pushed themselves beyond their limits. Peril ratchets up the tension and creates new opportunities for dramatic moments. The use of Peril should always add to the narrative.

Inspiration and Peril are a pool of points. Each pool is filled by the actions of the players. The players draw from the Inspiration pool and the GM draws from the Peril pool for certain benefits.

There are two ways players can earn Inspiration. First, any time a player rolls a 20 on the d20 for an ability check or a saving throw, a point is added to the Inspiration pool. Second, the GM can award Inspiration for good roleplaying. For example, when a character acts in a way that is true to their personality traits, ideals, bonds, and flaws; or, when a character adds a unforgettable moment of drama or levity to a scene.

The Inspiration pool can have no more than six Inspiration at any time. One Inspiration is removed from the pool every time the characters take a short rest. The pool resets to 0 at the end of a long rest.

Inspiration can be drawn by any character to spend on the following benefits:

• Spend 1 Inspiration when you make an attack roll, saving throw, or ability check. You have advantage on that roll.
• Spend 1 Inspiration to re-roll an ability check. You may spend this inspiration after you make a roll but before you know the result of that roll.
• Spend 2 Inspiration to add a +5 bonus to an attack roll, saving throw, or ability check. You may spend this inspiration after you make a roll but before you know the result of that roll.
• Spend 1 Inspiration to expend hit dice up to your proficiency bonus to gain that many temporary hit points. These temporary hit points last one hour.
• Spend 1 Inspiration to recover a feature that refreshes on a short rest.
• Spend Inspiration to recover a spell slot. The amount of Inspiration spent is equal to the level of the spell slot recovered.
• Spend 1 Inspiration to take a disengage, dodge, or help action as a bonus action.
• Spend 2 Inspiration to automatically pass a death saving throw.
• Buy off Peril. You can spend one or more points of Inspiration to buy off one or more points of Peril.

There are three ways that Peril is added to the Peril pool. First, any time a player rolls a 1 on the d20 for an attack roll, ability check, or saving throw. Second, when the players are slowing down their own momentum by dithering, the GM can add a point as a warning to the players that they are handing over initiative. Finally, when players have no Inspiration, they can buy Inspiration by increasing the Peril pool. But, there is only so much Peril players can place themselves in. Players can increase the Peril pool by no more than 3. This ability to buy Peril refreshes after a Short Rest.

The Peril pool can have no more than 8 Peril at any time. At the end of a long rest, Peril always resets to 2. In other words, if there is less than 2 Peril in the pool, it goes up to 2; if there is more, it drops down to 2.

Peril is more amorphous in use than Inspiration. It should primarily be used as narrative tool to add tension and impetus to the character’s actions.

By spending Peril, the GM can add a complication to a roleplaying or exploration scene. For example, in a roleplaying scene, perhaps an NPC who was friendly to the characters has a more neutral stance during a negotiation. During exploration, maybe the dungeon has an additional trap. Again, Peril is meant to add an interesting challenge, not punish players.
For 1 Peril, the GM adds a minor complication. This should be no more than a nuisance, not a serious threat. For 2 Peril, the GM adds a major complication. Though not life threatening, this should require the players to think through the problem and use resources. A good rule of thumb is that a minor complication should be equivalent a easy difficulty skill check (DC 10) or a trap that causes a setback, whereas a major complication would be equivalent to a hard difficulty skill check (DC 20) or a trap that is dangerous. Once a Peril has been spent to add a complication, it can also open the opportunity for the players to come up with a complication for a more collaborative narrative.

During combat, Peril can be spent in more direct ways:

• Spend 3 Peril to increase the difficulty of a combat encounter. An easy encounter becomes medium, a medium encounter becomes hard, and a hard encounter becomes deadly. Of course, this also increases the XP value of the encounter!
• Spend Peril to allow a creature to make up to two additional attacks. One extra attack costs 2 Peril. Two extra attacks cost 5 Peril.
• Spend 1 Peril when a creature makes an attack roll, saving throw, or ability check. The creature has advantage on that roll.
• Spend 1 Peril to take a disengage or dodge action as a bonus action.