This adventure log will contain spoilers for the D&D 5th edition Tyranny of Dragons adventure, Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Ye’ve been warned!
Once they were “safe” inside the temple of Chauntea, our heroes took a moment to take stock of the situation. The priest and acolytes were shaken, but unharmed. The priest, Eadyan Falconmoon offered healing to the heroes who saved him, but reminded them there was still a third group attempting to burn their way through the Sanctuary’s back door. After a quick planning session, the heroes execute their plan, then the attacking cultists and kobolds.
After eliminating the danger to the Sanctuary, they led Eadyan and his acolytes back to the keep. There, they were met by the Castellan who told them of the governor’s next cunning plan. The guards with families would usher their loved ones to safety through the old tunnel while the heroes and twenty volunteers would distract the dragon from the battlements. The Castellan was not convinced of the dragon’s resolve to destroy the town since it had been circling for hours now and Greenest was still standing.
The heroes agreed to lead the keep’s defenders in attacking the dragon. Tobin volunteered to try to talk to the beast, since he spoke Draconic. Meanwhile, Broken Sky had the remaining guards hide in the nearby towers and prepare to attack the dragon from afar through the arrow slits. He enticed it with promises of tribute and the dragon landed on the battlements to hear this human wearing cultist robes sing praises to him. While Tobin distracted the dragon, the rest of the heroes attacked! While Veya took a swipe from the dragon’s claws, she managed to land a mighty blow on its snout with her great axe. The beast dismounted the tower and flew away under a hail of arrows, abandoning the cultists looting the town.
When they returned to the ground floor of the keep, they were greeted with fewer cheers than they expected and some grim news: cultists were attempting to set fire to the mill. A proverb about “no rest for the wicked” came to mind (along with “no good deed goes unpunished”). Without the mill, Greenest would have no way of grinding grain for flour and it would severely damage their ability to make it through the next winter. The heroes once again set out.
At the mill, they saw some cultists setting fires outside and dealt with them, but they were either the most incompetent fire builders ever, or they weren’t really trying to set fire to the mill. Broken Sky snuck into the mill and spied multiple cultists lying in wait. He reported to his companions what he found and Zinnianna suggested talking to the mice and rats in the mill to swarm and distract the cultists so the could sneak attack them. As they were preparing to launch their attack, a group of guards from the keep caught up to them. They attacked the mill en masse and made short work of the cultists. They left the guards to mop of and returned to the keep.
Naturally, there was no time for rest. The heroes and Castellan were alerted to something happening outside. A sizable force of kobolds formed a ring around the keep entrance, and from their ranks strode an armored, half-dragon warrior. “Defenders of Greenest! This has been a successful night, and I am feeling generous. Do you see these four pitiful, useless prisoners? We have no need for them, so I will trade them back to you. Send out your best warrior to fight me, and you can have these four in exchange.”
Veya was still suffering from grievous wounds received earlier in the evening. Broken Sky volunteered to face the half-dragon. As he prepared himself, the creature paced in front of his prisoners. When the monk strode forth to meet him, the half-dragon swung his mighty blade, but missed Broken Sky. The monk responded with a furious attack that staggered the creature and knocked him back. The half-dragon snarled and unleashed his breath weapon. The bolt of lightning grazed Broken Sky, knocking the elf to the ground. Darkness took him. The half-dragon stood over him and sneered. He spit on the elf and threw his sword to the ground. “Is there no one here worthy to face me?”
He turned away in disgust and walked away from the elf’s smoldering body, directing the kobolds to release the prisoners. The kobolds follows him by rank, and the raiders left Greenest. Healers rushed out with the rest of the heroes and to their relief, found Broken Sky only mostly dead. After resting for most of the morning, the heroes bound their wounds and made ready to tackle their next task.
The Governor approached them and asked them to track the raiders. He felt they might be able to recover more intelligence about their purpose and perhaps, some of the stolen loot. On their way out of town, the heroes were met by Nesim Waladra, a disciple of a monk called Master Leosin. Master Leosin, who was known to Broken Sky, went missing in the night after pursuing a group of the cultists. He hoped the heroes could look for his Master while they were tracking the cultists. The followed the trail to a small camp where some cultists and kobolds were arguing over lunch.
The battle was brief. Without their leaders, the kobolds and cultists did not work well together and were divided and conquered with judicious use of spells and strategy. As the heroes took stock of their situation when the battle was over, the saw the trail left by the main group, leading further into the hills…
I actually gave out a LOT more healing than the adventure calls for. Officially, if they heroes can’t heal themselves, tough cookies. That might play well in organized play where there may not be group cohesiveness from session to session, but in an extended home campaign, it’s not terribly fun if they all die by attrition in the first two sessions before they even get out of 1st level. Other DMs out there may disagree and say that it’s more realistic. Neither approach is wrong and I decided since it was a new game with a new system and a new player, that I would err on the side of fun.
The rules for 5th edition still aren’t quite second nature, but this was only my fourth session running it over the last six months. We’re picking them up pretty fast, though, and I’m getting better at recognizing opportunities to hand out inspiration. I did have to hand out one “Let me finish before you interrupt me; there is a point to this!” Some of the adventure does rely pretty heavily on the players letting events play out rather than stabby-stabby grabby-grabby at every available opportunity. It’s not a bad thing; it just is.
Now that the first episode is done, I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of this plays out. It seems like Episode I is the biggest stumbling block to groups playing this adventure because it is SO difficult and doesn’t let them just do the stabby-stabby grabby-grabby thing (in fact, that’s an excellent way to die fast in Episode I). The pieces are on the board and the plot is in motion…