With Karzoug amassing what could probably be considered a "very impressive" hoard of wealth, has anyone leaned into the possible concept that the Runelord of Greed may have had outside forces guiding his desire? Perhaps the voices and entities that helped shape him when he was a young man were not those of demons, but of dragons? Maybe he felt a kinship to them, one apex predator to another? It was mentioned briefly in the AP that there are few souls more greedy than those of dragons. What if some greedy draconic influence was in play with Karzoug, either as a powerful ally or... something more?
Basically, has anyone played up a draconic angle in their Rise of the Runelords campaign? If so, how did you approach it?
I did but not necessarily as a motivation for Karzoug.
I went for a more GDQ feel for the second half (Giants and Drow from the old AD&D feel) beginning with the latter half of Runelords part 4. In a nutshell I'm combing elements of the last three Giantslayer AP volumes.
We haven't gotten that far in the campaign yet, but my plans will make Arkrhyst the White Dragon in Runelords book 5 a major "neutral" player imc.
I'm placing the Frost Giant town of Skirgaard at the base of Rimeskull (they share Rimeskull with Arkrhyst) and it's largely abandoned. Berkvildr has awakened Skirkatla to find and destroy a witch PC and her companions (long player specific backstory connected to this).
Most of the giants had already left to Xin-Shalast months ago to assist in Karzoug’s awakening. Arkrhyst was a former ally of the Frost Giant Jarl and wants to parlay with the PCs for valuable information if they agree to cleanse Skirgaard of the witch and undead giants. He knows the location of Xin-Shalast and will offer it (along with the new location of the Runeforge) to the PCs as payment as he wants Rimeskull for himself. Depending on how the PCs do at Xin-Shalast he may help them until they get too close to Volstus as he fears falling under his control.
I made Runeforge less a research library and more of an actual forge. The fire giants in the Mindspin mountains (iirc from Giantslayer 5) are the only ones who remember the ways to make Runeforged weaponry. While their ancestors were slaved to Karzoug along with other giants, the fire giants want to see how things pan out first against some of the human settlements before they commit forces. In the mean time, they have agreed to supply Karzougs forces at Xin-Shalast with arms out of fear of Volstus (BBEG of Giantslayer 6), and they were the ones that "forcibly donated" the younger dragons to the Stone Giants raid on Sandpoint to appease Volstus at the request of Mokmurian (IMC he's second in command to Volstus who truly leads the giant army). If the fire giant king sees things are going poorly for him against the PCs hew will try and negotiate with them (mostly because he also wants his red dragon companion/mount back from Volstus). He will give them a command phrase to use if they can sever Volstus' control over it. Then I'll have the red turn on Volstus and help against the army of frost giants.
I plan on using most of Book 5 of Giantslayer instead of Book 5 of Runelords.
My plans are always changing though as we get closer. Originally I was substituting Book 5 of shattered star and placing the runeforge in Guiltspur. Cadrilkasta the Blue used to be Karzoug's personal mount and knows his return is imminent. The blue does not want to return to servitude (as well as relinquish control of Guiltspur which he sees as his now), and is actively preparing to defy him upon his awakening by seeking alliances and aid from Leng.
I'm leaning to Giantslayer 5 over Shattered Star 5 still but who knows.