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!
After taking a month off to regroup (because my players totally broke the sequence of events in the adventure as written, and also certain things that were poorly-described in the book… etc., etc.)
While traveling through the swamp back toward the camp the cultists had been using as a waypoint, our heroes came up with a plan to ambush the cultist caravan. Using the Dragon Mask and his purloined robes, Tobin would impersonate Rezmir’s replacement while everyone else hid and waited for his signal to attack. The cultists were curious to hear the latest news from what appeared to be one of their Wyrmspeakers and gathered ’round, save for the lizardfolk. Flint popped out of the canoe and fireballed the group of cultists while the others attacked. They made short work of the unprepared cultists and the lizardfolk surrendered, offering information in exchange for their lives.
The lizardfolk told them about the cult’s operations: they carted the treasure through the swamp to the castle, then sent the loot through a portal in the basement of the castle. The lizardfolk wanted nothing more than to kill the bullywugs in the castle, and with the cult leaders, dead, they saw their opportunity to wage war and claim Castle Naerytar for their own. Our heroes left the lizardfolk to their crusade and began the long trek back to Waterdeep.
Once in Waterdeep, they called a meeting of the Radiant Shield to discuss what they learned. While they waited for the word to go out and the members of the council to gather, Ontharr Frume treated them to dinner at the Yawning Portal. He knew a wizard who might be willing to purchase the Farseer of Illusk from them. They met with Ontharr and the old man the morning of the Radiant Shield meeting and he offered them a magical bag full of treasures in exchange for the artifact. Seeing the practical need for magical weapons and armor in place of a giant magical telescope, they gladly accepted the trade. They also got rid of the evil, intelligent sword, placing it in the hands of Ontharr Frume, believe the paladin was the best man to deal with the evil-weapon’s fate.
During the meeting with the Radiant Shield, our heroes learned the old man performed some divinations for Ontharr Frume and learned the cult was loading the treasure onto a Cloud Giant’s citadel and flying it to the Well of the Dragons. Since they returned to Waterdeep, they would never be able to return to Castle Naerytar, go through the portal, and intercept the cult before the flying citadel took to the sky. Therefore, they would ride with Waterdeep’s griffon cavalry in an attempt to intercept the castle.
Days of flight later, they caught up to the citadel. Approaching under cover of darkness, and with the aid of silence spells, they leapt down into the citadel’s upper courtyard. At night, the citadel’s grounds were shrouded in fog. Our heroes found their bearings as a figure approached through the fog. They hid. The vampire warden slid by them, some how not noticing the intruders hiding in the fog. As the foul creature passed, they realized they were now surrounded by an enemy of unknown power while on a flying castle a mile above the ground.
The only way out was through….
It was after the ambush that we discovered we’d been using Inspiration wrong. Some how, we got it in our heads that Inspiration could be used for re-rolls, and that seems to not be the case. Moving forward, we won’t use it that way anymore. It would have greatly altered the outcome of several battles thus far, including the ambush where Zinniana used up three characters’ Inspiration to make that initial stealth roll.
I’m sure I messed up some details of the session; real life kept intruding when I was trying to write this and I’ve forgotten some details. They have completely skipped the Wilderness Lodge now (too bad; I was going to set up my Lincoln Logs). It seemed to be the best way to get things back on track and incorporate their cleverness at retrieving Greenest’s treasure and their skill at picking their fights. But now, they’re in the upper courtyard of the flying citadel with no way out, and technically one fewer level than they really ought to have at this point. The next session will determine the future of this campaign. Skyreach Castle will test their cleverness like nothing else has so far. It was such a great “Oh Crap!” moment when they realized they’d just enacted the D&D version of the D-Day -1 nighttime parachute landings… without a ground invasion to back them up in the morning.
And yes, they really did give Hazirawn to an NPC paladin to dispose of; they were worried it would make one of them go on a party-killing spree.