Posts Tagged With: Forgotten Realms

Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Session 6 – Merchants & Moneylenders!

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!

We rewound a bit because I realized as I read ahead in the adventure a bit, that the PCs need to go back to Greenest before heading to Elturel, otherwise they’d miss some good information. Game-wise, it effects nothing they did at the end of last session, so it was mostly an expository jump.

Our heroes enjoyed an uneventful journey from the raider’s camp caves back to Greenest. Mayor Nighthill greeted them and gave them instructions from Master Leosin to proceed to Elturest and meet with him a human paladin of Torm named Ontharr Frume. Despite the soggy weather, they packed up and did so, arriving at Elturest and its perpetual, brilliant light a few days later. They tracked down their contacts at a tavern called Wild Cats.

Ontharr Frume was a bulky, hirsute man, jovial and friendly. After conferring with our heroes, he and Master Leosin formulated a plan. He offered the Heroes of Greenest an opportunity to work with the Harpers and bade them to track the Dragon Queen’s minions to their final destination. They knew they would be joining a trade caravan heading north out of Baldur’s Gate toward Waterdeep and suggested the heroes could disguise themselves and hire themselves out to the caravan as guards. He gave them the name of an ally in Baldur’s Gate who could help them find work.

The heroes boarded a riverboat that would take them to Baldur’s Gate and formulated a plan of their own. They would join the caravan to spy on the raiders, but not as guards, rather as merchants! Flint Rockbottom was already an accomplished brewer, and the rest could just as easily be his guards and support staff as they could anyone else’s. When they arrived in Baldur’s Gate, they bought supplies for the two-month journey to Waterdeep and worked with Ontharr’s contact to put together a wagon and enough equipment to masquerade as sellers of beer and fine ale. While they were setting up their wagon and equipment they spotted the raiders affiliated with the Cult of the Dragon in the staging area. A palanquin was most conspicuous, its passenger hidden from view. Unfortunately, it vanished sometime in the night. A halfling, Tom Haversford, approached Rockbottom Brewery, offering his service as a tinker and repairman, but they turned him away.

While the others were planning their trip, Veya became antsy and engaged in some contests of strength at one of the nearby taverns. She left victorious, with a half-orc following after her, begging to breed with the one who bested him. When she returned to the caravan staging area, everyone was ready to depart: Rockbottom Brewery, Edherlri Lewel (exotic wood), Oyn Evenmor (exotic birds), Achreny Ulyeltin (furs and uncured hides), Lai Angesstun (scented cooking oils), three wagons carrying Cult of the Dragon members in disguise, and one wagon with settlers and drifters accompanied by various carts. For two months, they would travel together. What dangers did the road hold?

Much of the session was spent planning and preparing their wagon. The adventure assumes the PCs will hire on a guards and everything proceeds from that assumption (even in future chapters). I was more than happy to let them choose another route, however. I was dismayed that I could not find, anywhere in the adventure, what the Master Leosin and Ontharr Frume wanted the PCs to accomplish other than following the dragon cultists. I couldn’t find anything that said if the PCs would meet up with them further up the road, or anything like that. This is one place where the adventure would have greatly benefited from some sort of outline or summary at the beginning of the chapter. A list of objectives. A list of challenges. Something. I guess I’m supposed to read ahead and memorize the entire adventure or cross-reference it myself (the next chapter mentions nothing about Master Leosin or Ontharr Frume as far as I can tell). This could also be one of those things that slipped past the editors, like the missing number on the map of Greenest. 

Two month on the road. There’s a whole slew of events that are supposed to happen, but plenty of time for me to exercise some of my own creativity, or even brush off some older material, ripe for insertion. Who would know? I could easily run a whole campaign during these two months.

Exploding Homer HeadI know! The PCs will pass the time by playing a new game… Atomic Robo! An RPG within an RPG!

 

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Categories: D&D | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Session 2

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…

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