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5E Enhancing "Hoard of the Dragon Queen" (Practical stuff to try at your table!)

I have it placed in a chamber off from the roof of the main lair of Glazhael. The passage entrance is almost entirely blocked off by ice and frost, and is heavily obscured by ice stalagtites and frozen debris. Vampires should not be so easy to destroy so is likely going to be an ongoing threat even after they chase her off the castle. Many have cirticised the Op nature of skyreach - particularly with a vampire jsut as night patrol duty. I am leaving her in at full strength/threat but giving the party some slack through roleplay.

Sandyssel wasnt asked to guard/watch, but was offered a safe place for a lair that she coudl easily travel without the threat of being found by adventurers in wagons etc when travelling from town to town.

She doesnt care for Tiamat, living dragons or the Severin and his flunkies at all.
She has a long term goal - a dragon mount that suits her taste.
She has a short term goal - replace the two male elf spawn from the current PC group.

She selected the barbarian for business time/lair protection
She selected the warlock half-elf with 20 Chrarisma for party time

neither of them are her swawn yet... but the barbarian remains charmed, open and receptive
 
Skyreach isn't the dragon's lair. Why wouldn't it just flee to save its own life when it got hurt bad enough to think its life was in danger?

However, if the players are having fun it hardly matters.
I agree and that was my initial position, however the chief headkickers (rezmir etc.. ) were all still at full strength when dragon was told to flee and recover so would conceivably return next day to investigate. If Sandyssyl gets the chance she will finish off the dragon and raise it as a vampire spawn thrall!
 

jayoungr

Explorer
Now that Dragon Heist is out, it's a great resource for local color in Waterdeep. If you're running this as a DM, it's worth looking through that book for inspiration on how to handle the Waterdeep scenes in both this adventure and Rise of Tiamat.

If you don't have Dragon Heist, there are a couple of free excerpts on the Wizards site. The Waterdeep Code Legal lays out the punishments for various crimes that PCs might commit while there. And if you're planning a side trip to the Yawning Portal, or just need some NPCs, "Friendly Faces" has portraits and sample quotes to suggest personality.
 

pukunui

Adventurer
To add to what [MENTION=6702445]jayoungr[/MENTION] said, you can actually purchase Volo’s Waterdeep Enchiridion (the fluff piece at the end of Dragon Heist) separately on the DMs Guild. It’s worth noting, however, that it assumes the Tyranny of Dragons storyline has already taken place as Laeral Silverhand is Open Lord of Waterdeep.
 

jayoungr

Explorer
To add to what @jayoungr said, you can actually purchase Volo’s Waterdeep Enchiridion (the fluff piece at the end of Dragon Heist) separately on the DMs Guild.
Thanks for the tip about that! Here's a link:

https://www.dmsguild.com/product/254063/Volos-Waterdeep-Enchiridion-5e?term=Volo's+Waterdeep+En&test_epoch=0

Proceeds from this product go toward Extra Life, also, so it's for a good cause.

It’s worth noting, however, that it assumes the Tyranny of Dragons storyline has already taken place as Laeral Silverhand is Open Lord of Waterdeep.
She becomes Open Lord during Rise of Tiamat, so if that's the only problem, it could still be contemporaneous. (Haven't finished reading it yet myself.)
 

jayoungr

Explorer
Further reading on villains

Here's an interesting blog post on villain design in HotDQ:

Villain Design Hoard of the Dragon Queen

Some excerpts:

LC [Langdedrosa Cyanwrath] just wants to poke the defenders in the eye and gain more personal glory. It’s also very unlikely that a PC could win this fight alone at 1st level, and there’s a good chance he could beat a team of four or five 1st-level characters together. I mean, 4d10 breath weapon, good game – with average damage on a failed save, that’s an instant kill on anyone with 11 maximum hit points or fewer. He even sticks around long enough to inflict one failed death save. So there’s a pretty strong chance that a PC bites it in the opening Episode, which leaves a lasting mark on PC expectations in a campaign. It also establishes LC as a major grudge target for the players. Villains who go for pure showboating? Oh yeah.
As a side note, I feel like this Episode [chapter 4] wants to build a lot of tension with unresolved questions, but it underestimates the potential information-gathering strength of PCs. Be prepared to do a lot of ad-libbing here, if your PCs are nobles, mystics (good lord, but a telepath can waltz through a lot of this), anyone with detect thoughts, and so on. I wouldn’t exactly call these encounters red herrings, but I see a lot of potential for them to expand to fill whole sessions, if the DM doesn’t step in early to redirect the PCs.
Talis is a pretty well-sketched character, with understandable motives that the PCs will nonetheless find utterly unsympathetic. She’s still on board with “summon Tiamat, murder everyone, profit,” which the PCs have probably known about in detail for most of the adventure series to date. Anyway, she wants to screw over higher-ranking cult members to secure her own advancement. If this encounter works and the PCs form an alliance (but don’t force Talis to come with them to Skyreach), she stands to be a recurring villain on into RoT. If the PCs refuse, she can potentially present a decent climactic fight, but with her tiny number of hit points (58? Seriously?) and only three guards in the room at the start of the encounter, she’s probably dead before the rest of the adds shows up to support her. She might be dead before taking a turn, given the damage output I’ve seen from 6th level PCs – to say nothing of what a good silence could do.
And here's a Reddit post by someone called "damnedmage" with some fan-created backstory on Frulam Mondath:

https://www.reddit.com/r/DnDBehindTheScreen/comments/7t2nxq/hotdq_frulam_mondath/

When she was very young, Frulam Mondath's village was attacked by a black dragon whose acidic breath melted the flesh from villagers and tore the city assunder. Most who survived told the tale in horror and revulsion, but Frulam's troubled heart knew only pleasure at the sight of her hated abusers being destroyed. That day, Frulam Mondath pledged her heart to Tiamat, though she didn't understand what that meant, at the time.

In the twoscore years since, Frulam has learned much about what it means to devote herself to the Dragon Queen, and she has risen far in the Tiamat's service. When Severin Silrajin seized control of the Cult of the Dragons, Frulam saw an opportunity to serve her queen, and quickly rallied to Severin's call. Now, she is charged with the care and safekeeping of the several clutches of black dragon eggs entrusted to the cult.

As a wearer of purple, Frulam commands extensive respect from the cult of the Dragon, and has an entire cell of devoted cultists at her command. She reports only to Rezmir, and even Rezmir gives the aging priestess a great deal of leeway in the execution of her duties as the keeper of the clutch.

In addition to keeping the eggs of the black dragons, Rezmir has charged Frulam with collecting loot from the Green Fields to be used in the ritual of summoning Tiamat, and the Wyrmspeaker has presently made a stop in Frulam's camp to check in on her activities. It was this visit which prompted Frulam to call on the aid of Lennithon, in an effort to impress the Wyrmspeaker as they assaulted the town of Greenest.
 
For future reference: According to the MM (pg 11), "You can assume that a monster has 2d4 pieces of ammunition for a thrown weapon attack, and 2d10 pieces of ammunition for a projectile weapon such as a bow or crossbow."
Thanks! I've been trying to figure this out for a while. As a new DM with a group of brand new players, we are all learning on the fly!
 
Has anybody tried to extend this adventure past the final battle? For instance, having to enter the 9 Hells in order to kill Tiamet once and for all? For all I know, once we actually get to that point, we will be ready for a new adventure, but my players have expressed interest in actually leveling their characters to maximum potential -- yet there don't seem to be any adventures that go that far.
 

S'mon

Hero
Has anybody tried to extend this adventure past the final battle? For instance, having to enter the 9 Hells in order to kill Tiamet once and for all? For all I know, once we actually get to that point, we will be ready for a new adventure, but my players have expressed interest in actually leveling their characters to maximum potential -- yet there don't seem to be any adventures that go that far.
The last episode of 4e Scales of War AP concerns killing Tiamat in her home, so you could look at that. Should be on dmsguild I think?
 

jayoungr

Explorer
Has anybody tried to extend this adventure past the final battle? For instance, having to enter the 9 Hells in order to kill Tiamet once and for all? For all I know, once we actually get to that point, we will be ready for a new adventure, but my players have expressed interest in actually leveling their characters to maximum potential -- yet there don't seem to be any adventures that go that far.
The last episode of 4e Scales of War AP concerns killing Tiamat in her home, so you could look at that. Should be on dmsguild I think?
I tacked on the last five adventures of Scales of War (after running Palace of the Red Pasha as an immediate follow-up). The overall plot arc went like this: After being thwarted at being able to enter Faerun, and with the help of some rebel devils, Tiamat gained the services of a lich who devised a spell that would allow her to summon Bahamut to the Nine Hells. She then killed him and absorbed (most of) his essence, allowing herself to manifest outside of her prison. The PCs had to resurrect Bahamut, but he came back in a weakened state because Tiamat had absorbed so much of his essence. So they also had to obtain a magical artifact, the Arrow of Fate. When they fought Tiamat for the final time, it wasn't to kill her but to shoot her with the Arrow of Fate, releasing Bahamut's strength back to himself and making her unable to manifest outside the Nine Hells again, so effectively re-imprisoning her. (I'm just not a fan of god-killing campaigns; makes the gods seem way too small, IMVHO.)

There's an ongoing 5E conversion of "Scales of War" at this blog: https://5escalesofwar.wordpress.com/ . I had to do the last few adventure conversions myself, though, as I got ahead of the blog. For the final adventure, instead of regular chromatic ancient dragons, I used what my players called "off-brand dragons" from a variety of third-party sources, notably the Tome of Beasts. I cut out the whole "brood mother" thing because it didn't make sense with how I'd reworked the plot.

"Last Breath of the Dragon Queen" (the final adventure of the series) is in Dungeon magazine, issue 175. I started my sequence (after a bridging adventure) with Grasp of the Mantled Citadel, which is in Dungeon 171.

***

I've also talked to someone who re-worked The Doomvault Tales from the Yawning Portal) as a high-level dungeon and made that the gateway to killing Tiamat, but I don't have many details on that.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Has anybody tried to extend this adventure past the final battle? For instance, having to enter the 9 Hells in order to kill Tiamet once and for all? For all I know, once we actually get to that point, we will be ready for a new adventure, but my players have expressed interest in actually leveling their characters to maximum potential -- yet there don't seem to be any adventures that go that far.
My campaign continued past the end of ToD by reworking Out of the Abyss as a high level adventure (16-20) where the PCs have to combat various demon lords rampaging around the underdark. It looked fine on paper but it's actually turned into a bit of a monotonous slog - it turns out there's not a lot of variety in the underdark and each community they encounter is kind of similarly messed up by the demonic urges. They're at level 19 right now and we're looking at the final conflict in Menzoberranzan so it should be over soon... Unless the wizard does good on his threat to wish it all away and we do a hard shift to another climax entirely! :)
 
I tacked on the last five adventures of Scales of War (after running Palace of the Red Pasha as an immediate follow-up). The overall plot arc went like this: After being thwarted at being able to enter Faerun, and with the help of some rebel devils, Tiamat gained the services of a lich who devised a spell that would allow her to summon Bahamut to the Nine Hells. She then killed him and absorbed (most of) his essence, allowing herself to manifest outside of her prison. The PCs had to resurrect Bahamut, but he came back in a weakened state because Tiamat had absorbed so much of his essence. So they also had to obtain a magical artifact, the Arrow of Fate. When they fought Tiamat for the final time, it wasn't to kill her but to shoot her with the Arrow of Fate, releasing Bahamut's strength back to himself and making her unable to manifest outside the Nine Hells again, so effectively re-imprisoning her. (I'm just not a fan of god-killing campaigns; makes the gods seem way too small, IMVHO.)

There's an ongoing 5E conversion of "Scales of War" at this blog: https://5escalesofwar.wordpress.com/ . I had to do the last few adventure conversions myself, though, as I got ahead of the blog. For the final adventure, instead of regular chromatic ancient dragons, I used what my players called "off-brand dragons" from a variety of third-party sources, notably the Tome of Beasts. I cut out the whole "brood mother" thing because it didn't make sense with how I'd reworked the plot.

"Last Breath of the Dragon Queen" (the final adventure of the series) is in Dungeon magazine, issue 175. I started my sequence (after a bridging adventure) with Grasp of the Mantled Citadel, which is in Dungeon 171.

***

I've also talked to someone who re-worked The Doomvault Tales from the Yawning Portal) as a high-level dungeon and made that the gateway to killing Tiamat, but I don't have many details on that.
Thank you. This was just what I needed.
 
One of our kids is leaving (we foster, so this is a semi-common occurence) and the other kids decided that meant we should end Lost Mines and get started on this new campaign. They also decided we needed to continue to top level if we could, so I bought Red Pasha and The Scales of War. Let's just say that my printer is not too happy with me and made me go buy more ink today.

And yes, I know I could have left them in PDF form, but it's easier for me to print them out and put them in a binder, especially the Scales of War episodes.
 
Since we have decided to play through Scales of War, Bahamat's avatar is going to pop up here and there throughout the campaign, including right before the players enter Greenest. (Characters are going to be drawn to his campfire, even though they have been travelling solo.) Also, since one of my players has the Gold Dragon background, she is eventually going to discover that she is actually one of Bahamat's canaries.

I was sort of hoping that one of them would get the Talis as best friend background, because one of them has Talis killing her family and she is out for revenge, but the dice didn't play along.
 

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