The world of Sleeping Dragon is an ancient one. For several tens of millennia, civilisations had risen and fallen, with each new civilisation built upon the foundations of the old. In times of old, adventurers would venture east over the World’s End Mountains and into the wild, untamed wilderness that lay beyond, in search of the abandoned complexes that littered the Eastern territories, filled with the treasures of those earlier ages.
Glory and wealth was the prize that drew Adventurers to the East; but death was often their reward.
Of course, that was then, and in the now-tamed world of the Sleeping Dragon, adventuring is very different.
Adventuring now is both a hobby and a sport; that is, there exists a professional level at which it’s a competitive sport, broadcast to a watching audience of tens of millions; while at amateur level it’s a hobby or pastime.
The professional sport of adventuring, usually referred to as “ASport”, is played in huge indoor arenas. Teams of five – typically comprised of warriors, wizards, scouts, “priests”, and bards – take it in turns to get to the end of a timed and scored “run”, facing on the way physical obstacles, puzzles, and animated constructs.
Meanwhile, at the amateur level, groups of men and women spend time in what passes now for wilderness, camping, hunting, and exploring (where exploring typically consists of hiking, rock climbing, or caving).
A large industry has grown up to support the amateur hobby, of which perhaps the best known is the leading chain of adventuring goods shops, Pete’s Adventure Warehouse, famous for the series of adverts staring grey-haired founder Pete himself. At any branch of Pete’s, adventurers can stock up with camping, climbing, and hiking equipment, dehydrated food, navigational gadgets, potions, swords, bolts (essentially magical laser-guns), wands, and even Pete’s classic own-brand combat cigars.
As they say. “If you can’t get it at Pete’s, you probably don’t need it. And if you could have got it, but didn’t, it’ll probably turn out that you did need it.”
From the Sleeping Dragon…
The commentator shuffled his papers as the production assistant finger-counted down to zero and the little light beside the camera went red.
“And we’re back. I’m Brod Rellend, with me is Kren Krennella, and you’re watching Lastday Night AdventureSport on EBS1, bought to you in association with StayFresh toothpaste, the toothpaste that leaves your breath fresh all day, every day.”
He took a quick glance at the slightly rumpled middle-aged man sitting next to him, received a quick nod in return, and then resumed speaking.
“We’re just moments away from bone-crunching action, with Blade’s Marauders scheduled to be making the first run of the evening in a little over two minutes. Now there have been a lot of rumours swirling around the ageing legend over the last few days, so what should we be looking out for, Kren?”
His middle-aged companion took a last sip from the something-on-ice that sat on the desk in front of him, and then spoke.
“Well Brod, firstly we’ll be looking to see if he comes out at all. We know that after three heavy defeats in their last three outings the rest of his team are unhappy.”
“I think unhappy’s an understatement. Isn’t Denbi Tallfellow suing the league for speciesist discrimination?”
“That’s what the rumour mill says, Brod, but I hope it’s just the news-slates trying to sell copy. It would be a new low for the modern game and a sad, sad day.”
“Not how it worked in your day, eh, Kren?”
“Certainly isn’t. In my day you took your lumps in the arena and then went out and got drunk and perhaps picked up a girl or two. Now they get one scratch and they’re off to see their psychological consultants. The whole game’s gone soft, if you ask me!”
The first commentator chuckled.
“Well, you’re here to be asked Kren, and you’re certainly never scared to give us answers. Are there any other problems we should be looking out for in the Marauders?”
“Would that be in addition to the fact that their leader’s the wrong side of thirty and looking to be on an inevitable slide to retirement, Brod?”
“Sugar-coating it as always, eh, Kren?”
“Just calling it how I see it, Brod.”
The first commentator threw in another chuckle. “One minute,” said the voice of the producer in his earpiece.
“So, in addition to that, what should we be looking out for, Kren?”
“Well, like I said Brod, it’s not even certain that we’ll be seeing them at all. Some highly placed sources have told me, off the record, that his sponsorship deal with Pete’s Adventure Warehouse is up for renewal and that they’re looking to end it.”
“That would be a blow for him, right Kren? Pete’s have sponsored him since pretty much the start of his career, haven’t they?”
“Fifteen years, at record levels. Landmark deal. But like they say, Brod, everything comes to an end.”
 As befits a pseudo-European setting, the Sleeping Dragon is in many ways an analogue of Europe. But like many a roleplaying setting written by American authors, its past history fuses this pseudo-European setting with a very American style concept of a “wild frontier”. Although now gone, the continuing myth of the frontier endures to this day, and this myth highly influences the attitude the citizens of the Empire have to weapons, with the result that when it comes to walking into a shop and purchasing a lethal ranged weapon, it has much more in common with twenty-first century America than twenty-first century Europe.
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The Sleeping Dragon is now available for pre-order on Amazon Kindle at an introductory price of 99p in the UK and 99c in the US (it’s also available in all the various international Amazons at the equivalent price in local currency). If you like what you’ve read here, then please consider pre-ordering it.
The Sleeping Dragon will be published in February next year, in both Kindle and paperback formats.
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