HOARD OF THE DRAGON QUEEN Author Steve Winter Clarifies A Few Points!
  • HOARD OF THE DRAGON QUEEN Author Steve Winter Clarifies A Few Points!

    From a conversation over on the WotC forums, writer Steve Winter answered a few questions about Hoard of the Dragon Queen, the first adventure in the Tyranny of Dragons storyline. Most of these questions were asked by WotC forum member CitizenKeen, with a few by Lady_Auralla, Osgood, and dipplayer. [threadcm]http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?361347-Steve-Winter-Clarifies-a-few-HotDQ-Issues[/threadcm]

    The Map of Greenest: As discussed elsewhere (I assume from the Encounters version of Hoard), the map of Greenest (page 10) lacks a [complete] key. It is numbered without anything referring to those numbers numbers three and four.

    Once upon a time, certain mission headings included numbers to indicate which map keys they were associated with. Somewhere along the way, those numbers disappeared. 1 is the Keep, 2 is where the tunnel emerges along the stream, 3 is the temple, and 4 is the mill.

    Camp: On page 48 in the Castle Naerytar description, it refers to the Red Wizard Azbara Jos being in the camp of the cultists, but there is no reference to him being in the camp.

    The locations where Azbara Jos hangs out are noted on page 54, entry "1V, West Guest Rooms" (which should actually read "1V, W. Guest Rooms").

    Dragon Hatchery: The Cave Entrance (page 21) says that there are two dragonclaws guarding the entrance in section 1. However, in section 12, Guard Barracks (page 27), it says that any given time, four of the guards are keeping watch in section 1.

    This is a relic of the changes in stat blocks during writing. One entry refers to dragonclaws (challenge 1), the other to guards and cultists (challenge 1/8). When the episode was written, some if not all of those types had names and stat blocks that were different from what they have now. We tried to smooth all that out before the adventure went to press, but we undoubtedly missed a few spots, and this is one. Given what lies ahead, I'd go with two dragonclaws at the entrance and change entry 12 to indicate that the guards maintain a two-man watch at the entrance.

    Trade Way Events: The table doesn't match the described events. While I assume "7. The Golden Hind" refers to "The Golden Stag" (though that means they changed the gender at some point), "8. High Holy Day" doesn't appear in the descriptions. "Payback" is the only mini-episode that doesn't appear on the table, and is described after the Golden Stag, but that's not a nothing error.

    High Holy Day was removed from the adventure late in the development process and replaced with Payback. Obviously, the table should have been corrected, but wasn't. [Thaumaturgical note: Steve mentioned this event during one of the session at Gen Con. Check out the Tome Show Podcast about Hoard of the Dragon Queen if you want more info.]

    Roadhouse: Strongroom: On page 40, the trap door requires a DC 10 Wisdom (Perception) check to find. On page 41, the trap door requires a DC 15 Wisdom (Perception) check to find.

    Ideally, characters will devote time to searching the room thoroughly and therefore will find the trapdoor without a die roll. If they talk to the stable boys or to Gristle Pete, they'll get the clue that makes them suspicious of this room. If they do none of those things but just rely on a quick die roll, then DC 10 probably is preferable to prevent them from hitting a dead end. My recommendation, though, is to make them think through the mystery and not just toss dice around.

    Briferhew's Room: Listed as item 7 in the descriptions, it does not appear on the map.

    The small room in the upper left corner of level 1 should be labeled 7. It should also have a door.

    Hunting Lodge Map: There are numbered rooms/areas 1-15 but no label for 12, even though it is described in text (page 67, map page 66). Surmised that area 12 is the top-right room with a window.

    Castle Naerytar: Castle map (page 51) descriptions indicates 5 is a moat and 6 is a gate, but no 6 on map and 5 is where the gate is.

    Correct in both cases.

    Hazirawn: The magic item (page 94) has inconsistent damage when attuned. In the first paragraph, it says that you deal an additional 1d6 damage when you are attuned with the weapon. In the second paragraph under Increased Potency, it says that when you are attuned, "you deal an extra 2d6 necrotic damage (instead of 1d6).

    The error is in the the last sentence of the first paragraph. It should state, "If you are _not_ attuned to Hazirawn, you deal an extra 1d6 necrotic damage when you hit with the weapon." Then everything else falls into place and makes sense.

    Also, please feel free to discuss the lack of clarity regarding passive Perception in Hoard.

    Like monster stat blocks, the Perception rules were not yet in their final form while we were writing. Several skills, but Perception and Stealth in particular, took an approximately 175-degree turn in how they work somewhere around the middle of the project*, necessitating significant, retroactive sweeps through the manuscript trying to keep everything up to date. Because we knew things would be missed in those sweeps, we also minimized our references to certain rules, to cut down on the amount of work, delay, and risk those searches and redesigns involved.

    * I saw another relic of this process while answering one of your questions on episode 3. The guards at the mouth of the dragon nursery are noted as having "normal readiness." When the episode was written, that phrase had a specific, rules-related meaning, according to the then-current DMG manuscript. I don't think that rule will exist anymore when the DMG is published. That's one of the many unavoidable hazards of simultaneous development.

    My one concern above: IIRC (don't have Hoard in front of me) the Castle episode refers to Azbara's presence at the cultist camp, episode 2.

    At the camp (episode 2), Jos would stay in Rezmir's command tent (2).

    I noticed two other things while searching for answers to some of these questions.
    The bodyguards outside Rezmir's tent in episode 2 are meant to be impossible for PCs to overpower. At one time, Guards filled that role, but they were since downgraded to challenge 1/8. Those guards should be replaced with Veterans (challenge 3).
    On the Level 2 map of Castle Naerytar, key letters H and K should be transposed. The arsenal is above the forge, and the three vacant rooms are in the NE tower.

    Can you give us a run down on how the readiness was going to work so we can decide wether to include it or not in our own games please.

    The rules on surprise at one time contained this:

    Each creature and character makes a Wisdom saving throw against a DC that corresponds to its readiness. The readiness DC for characters is determined by their travel pace. For monsters, it depends on their degree of alertness, as shown below.
    Alertness / Readiness DC
    Low = 15
    Normal = 10
    High = 5

    I take it that a failed roll meant discovery or suspicion?

    A failed roll meant the monster or NPC was surprised.

    Glad I found these clarifications. Any chance we will see an erata document with updated maps and the like Steve?

    That would be a question for Wizards of the Coast. Wolf and I wrote the adventure and Kobold Press packaged it, but WotC is the publisher.

    In episode 6, I don't see where the NPC Dralmorrer Borngrey is expected to be, except the limited time when he is in his sleeping chambers. And there is a conflict between some text that seems to indicate that Rezmir will be in the castle (page 48) and then some text that seems to indicate she won't be (page 46).

    Any guidance?

    There is also a lack of direction on how the overall situation at the castle might develop, especially what the denizens thereof might do if the PCs are holed up somewhere taking a long rest, for instance.

    The situation in episode 6 is entirely open-ended. We didn't want to script NPCs' locations or motions. Guidance is given in certain cases; where nothing is said, it's up to the DM. When Rezmir is at the castle, she's in charge, and she could be anywhere the person in charge might go: in the library, in her chambers, in the Great Hall supervising the sorting of loot, outside the castle dealing with bullywugs or lizardfolk, in her office consulting with Borngray and Jos, in the dungeon watching loot being transported to the Lodge, in the courtyard watching lizardfolk at drill. As SiC, Borngray has most of the same options. The castle is meant to be a site in motion, not a store window display where everything and everyone is frozen in place until PCs come to attack them.

    Rezmir is definitely at the castle when characters arrive, but she might not be around for long. She evacuates immediately if an attack develops. She leaves within a day or two if characters drag things out.

    Until castle denizens become aware of the characters' presence, they go about their normal routine. Once they become aware of non-Cult infiltrators in the area, they'll react in whatever manner the DM thinks is most appropriate and most exciting for the players. There are too many possibilities for us to enumerate all of them. That's one of the facets of D&D that makes it so brilliant; there's a human brain behind the screen, constantly reacting to the changing situation and intelligently guiding NPCs by weighing far more factors than any remote author or programmer can account for.

    So my guidance is, internalize the personalities of the principal NPCs and the factions, look at the developing situation from their viewpoints, and have the NPCs do what it makes most sense for them to do.