The Dragonwall

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Havard
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The Dragonwall

Post by Havard » Wed Nov 02, 2016 6:05 pm

What is the Dragonwall? Who built it and why?

Are there any published adventures involving the Dragonwall? I recall being part of a campaign back in the 80s where we travelled along the Dragonwall. I wonder if it was based on any published material or just something from the imagination of the DM?

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Re: The Dragonwall

Post by Cthulhudrew » Wed Nov 02, 2016 6:58 pm

It played a large role in the novel Dragonwall, the second in the Horde Trilogy. Though I don't recall how much detail they went into about it there, I do seem to recall something to the effect of their being some kind of actual dragon that was used in the creation of the wall (either a spirit dragon or a real one turned to stone). IIRC (again, possibly faulty memory) it was the freeing of that dragon that allowed the Horde to invade Shou-Lung.

To the best of my knowledge, that is the most ever written/said about the Dragonwall. It receives some mention in the Horde Campaign boxed set, but doesn't reveal details/spoilers about the novel. I expect it is discussed at least briefly in the Kara-Tur boxed set as well, but I don't recall for certain.
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Re: The Dragonwall

Post by Nate Christen » Sun Nov 06, 2016 11:04 pm

Since I re-read Oriental Adventures and the Kara-Tur boxed set over the summer, some of this is relatively fresh in my brain.

The Dragonwall is indeed the petrified body of a great dragon named Pao Hu Jen, turned to stone using the Jade Mirror of Shih.

(This is, at least, how it's reported by the dragon Mei Lung Cheng Shan, who wrote that part of Volume I and who claims to have witnessed these events personally.)

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Re: The Dragonwall

Post by Big Mac » Thu Feb 01, 2018 5:05 pm

Nate Christen wrote:The Dragonwall is indeed the petrified body of a great dragon named Pao Hu Jen, turned to stone using the Jade Mirror of Shih.
The Dragonwall article on Forgotten Realms Wiki claims that the wall is a brick and stone wall inhabited by the spirt of Pao Hu Jen. That's not quite the same thing.

Has this been retconned?
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Re: The Dragonwall

Post by Cthulhudrew » Thu Feb 01, 2018 6:25 pm

It's not necessarily a retcon. I'd have to recheck Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms, but IIRC the information about the wall being the skeleton of the dragon is apocryphal; could be mythology, could be truth. It is one of those events that is so far in the past true information is at best uncertain, and I think the info is being relayed by an in-character narrator who may or may not be reliable, either (it isn't stated in out of character DM terms, in other words).

Even if it is true, it doesn't necessarily mean that the wall isn't also brick and stone. I'd think it very likely that it was fortified and expanded upon by man-made construction over time. Certainly battlements and walkways were probably not natural parts of the dragon's anatomy, so would need to be added. The dragon's skeleton being the backbone on which the wall was built- literally and figuratively- could certainly then collapse the entirety or parts of the structure, if it were disturbed.

(Given that the trilogy made liberal use of magic and spirits and mythology, up to and including having a dragon's spirit be instrumental in the collapse of the wall, I'd err on the side of betting that it treats the mythology of the wall being made of a dragon's skeleton to be fact. I don't own the Horde trilogy any more, so can't verify what info was provided in Dragonwall, alas. :( )
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Re: The Dragonwall

Post by Cthulhudrew » Fri Feb 02, 2018 6:56 am

I just reviewed the Kara-Tur and Horde sets. So, basically the Kara-Tur set is as I mentioned, in "narrative" style of presentation- describing the setting, but in the voice of a character who lives there. In the process of describing things, as Nate mentions above, the dragon narrator describes how the wall came to be and that he saw it with his own eyes. (When Pao Hu Jen was petrified.) It also mentions that the entirety of the wall- shape and fortifications and makeup (brick and mortar)- came about due to that original mystical transformation.

The Horde set is in third-person style (ie, direct informative reporting) and mentions that the Pao Hu story is its legendary origin, without verifying whether it is true or not. It does go on to mention that the wall is brick and mortar. An interesting thing that it does note is that- the two times that it was breached, by freeing a portion of the spirit of Pao Hu from two sections of the wall- it completely crumbled in those areas and was subsequently rebuilt, but that the rebuilt portions do not have the same invulnerability the unbreached sections have.

That implies to me one of two things:
1) The legend of Pao Hu's petrification is true, and the wall is the body of the dragon, or
2) The legend is only partially true, the wall was built by man and Pao Hu Jen's spirit was later bonded to the wall

Either way kind of amounts to the same thing, but going with #1 seems the most likely option. So the wall is brick and mortar, but it is also the petrified/magically altered remains of Pao Hu Jen, who remains bonded to most of the wall in spirit. Should he ever be entirely freed, the wall will completely collapse and any new portions of the wall will be regular old manmade brick and mortar construction.
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Re: The Dragonwall

Post by ripvanwormer » Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:12 am

Grand History of the Realms states the following:
Using the Jade Mirror, Emperor Tan Chin and his friend Kar Wuan trick Pao Hu Jen the Guardian into flying to the lands of the horse barbarians where they transform the dragon into the Great Dragonwall of Shou Lung.
So it seems to be treating the story as literally true.

Note that the dragon's body might have been transformed into bricks and mortar.

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Re: The Dragonwall

Post by Tonnichiwa » Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:50 am

I just read the Horde-Barbarian campaign setting about the dragonwall. It states the following:

"The Dragonwall is no ordinary fortification. Although made of brick and stone, it is imbued with the spirit of Pao Hu Jen, the mighty dragon. Because the spirit of this creature is the mortar for the bricks, the Dragonwall cannot be broken by normal siege equipment. Stones and drills have no effect on the fortifications. Only siege equipment of a magical nature or specially enchanted boulders can hurt the Dragonwall.

However, Pao Hu Jen’s spirit is not restful or happy. It was imprisoned here by the trickery of men. Although it cannot free itself, the dragon can tell others how it can be freed. If given a substantial sacrifice, something of great value, the dragon’s spirit can be released. No one has the resources necessary to free the dragon along the entire length of the wall, but the dragon does have the power to withdraw from designated sections, creating breaches in the Dragonwall.

When Pao Hu Jen’s spirit is withdrawn from a section of the wall, the departure is anything but quiet. The ground heaves and cracks, crumbling the now-mortarless wall. Some claim to see an image of the dragon’s spirit soar into the sky. Whatever they see, the end result is a collapsed mound of rubble and destruction.

Of course, releasing the dragon’s spirit is not easy. Sensibly, the Shou have not spread the secret of the Dragonwall."

It goes on to say that the Dragonwall is the best guarded secret in Shou Lung and even gives an adventure idea for spies stealing the information and trying to sell it to one of the tribes of the Horde Lands.

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