So far we've only made it through Episode 1. Literally finished it last weekend. Here's my comments I guess...
- Healing - Think about dishing out a few Potions of Healing before the adventure gets rolling. Dunno if I'd say "Everybody should get two!" or anything, but you should probably hand out a few. Maybe to the Cleric? Or maybe be ready to dish out a few more here and there if the need arises (though that could get risky, because they might have to survive an encounter to acquire the items that could save them). Maybe from the the Governor or Escobert the Red, once the party reaches the keep. Even through it does state Nighthill will offer them a pot or two, I don't think he offers until after the dust has settled. Why all this Potion of Healing talk? Episode 1 only takes place in the span of like 6 hours. If you have them run down just a couple of the suggested missions, then factor in a random encounter or two, the party might end up having 3-5 combat encounters in the 3-5 hours that the episode runs. If they want to save villagers, capture cultists, etc - they definitely won't get to take a long rest. Frankly, I had a hard time trying to justifying a short rest. People are dyin' out there, man! This is a raid. This is happening - right - now. It's really kinda "Go-go-go!", or at least that's how I saw it. If they're anything like the players in my campaign, if your spellcasters don't expend all their spell slots in the first encounter, I'd frankly be stunned if they hadn't by the time the 2nd or 3rd one roles around. By that point, they will be scairt. Outta healing and starin' down the barrel of another encounter or two. Now, for the record: this did create alot of really juicy suspense for the party, and I have to admit I enjoyed myself a little too much making them squirm. :>
- Missions I Ran in Episode 1 - (1) "Seek the Keep" (2) A random encounter while the party rescued more villagers. (3) A sort of half small encounter, half theatrical encounter when I morphed the "Half-dragon Champion" encounter into a final run to the keep by the party with their rescued villagers where the half-dragon and a small armor of cultists almost reach them before they can reach the keep. (3) "The Old Tunnel" with its encounter. (4) "Prisoners" was completed with the Old Tunnel encounter, plus I merged it into (5) another encounter where (on the fly, I made up) a group of kobolds chasing a young girl who was fleeing towards the keep, the party rescued her, and she told them she'd first tried to reach the Temple of Chauntea but it was being besieged by cultists who were "Trying to burn it down right now! You must help them!". Which led to (5) the "Sanctuary" encounter. After the party rescued the people in the Sanctuary mission, it was on to (6) the "Dragon Attack". That was it. By then, the party had nuthin' left. Spells slots were gone, Potions of Healing were gone, Heal Kits couldn't be used on anybody anymore, and frankly the party was a frazzled and jittery group who were possibly gonna walk away with like PTSD.
- Missions I Skipped in Episode 1 - "The Sally Port", because it made sense to run it middle-late part of the night, sometime after "The Old Tunnel", but by then the party was long out of spell slots so I chose not to run it. "Save the Mill" I just flatout skipped, because again: the party was almost completed drained of healing for most of the night. "Half-dragon Champion" because I pretty much hated the design of that encounter. As mentioned, I merged it into "Seek the Keep" and didn't actually have a fight with Cyanwrath (I wouldn't have let it happen, frankly).
- The Dragon - It worked as designed for the party that I ran through Episode 1, though it should be pointed out that I made it relatively clear when describing what they saw in "Greenest in Flames", that it didn't see the party. That while they did just witness an actual adult blue dragon blasting away at this small village, that not long after it makes its little strafing run, it kinda disappears into the smoke, and the night (the sun is just setting). I then waiting until they were like right on the edge of town, and just about to begin "Seek the Keep" before I started describing how they could hear the roar of the dragon in the distance, and that they hear the detonation of another lightning attack (probably on the other side of town), etc. I then dropped a bit of background flavor here and there, where they'd be constantly looking over their shoulder, swearing they just saw some huge shape fly by overhead through the smoke, but it's too dark to tell, stuff like that. Building suspense basically, but never actually letting them see the dragon (until the "Dragon Attack" scene).