5E Enhancing "Rise of Tiamat" (Practical stuff to try at your table!)

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Out of interest, why do you say this? I just ran my group through Greenest in Flames, so I'm a fair way away, but I know that Steve Winter said he wanted to let the players get the masks, while WotC were resistant to that idea.
My group also has the black dragon mask. They've mostly used it to bluff their way into places. It's not been tremendously game-changing IMHO.
 

pukunui

Adventurer
Out of interest, why do you say this?
It's a long story.

1) While the description of the Mask of the Dragon Queen states that you only need two of the lesser dragon masks, elsewhere it says you need all five. I asked Steve Winter which was correct, and his response was: "Both, at the time they were written. In HotDQ, we weren't allowed to let PCs capture any masks, which was a dramatic problem. By RoT, Wizards came around to our thinking, sort of, but it was too late. The whole adventure is built around the idea that all 5 masks are needed to kick off the ritual."

2) Later, when I confessed to him that I regretted letting my group get their hands on the black mask because they'd gone and given it to Lady Laeral Silverhand (from whom I reasoned it would be practically impossible to steal back), he replied: "Well, that's why we worked so hard trying to choreograph things to keep the masks out of the PCs' hands. Just having it stolen away despite all Laeral's inevitable safeguards would seem like cheating."

He suggested I do something big, like have some Red Wizards actually kill Laeral to get it back. I went with a massive assault on the vulnerable Field Ward district of Waterdeep and a number of smaller attacks throughout the rest of the city, all designed to split and district the city's defences while the cult tried to a) assassinate the PCs and b) steal back the mask. In the end, the cult failed to kill any of the PCs, and I decided it would still be too cheap to allow the cult to have the black mask back ... I don't want the players to feel like nothing they do matters, but that still leaves me with the dilemma of how Severin is supposed to get his ritual going with only four masks.

I know that having a mask is listed as one way to weaken Tiamat, so I suppose I could just ignore the idea that Severin needs all five. When they finally see the combined mask, it'll just be missing the black head.

That being said, I'm begin to wonder if the whole "five masks combine into one mega-mask" thing is a bit too silly. Makes me think of those Transformers and such that could combine into a mega-robot. Maybe the Mask of the Dragon Queen should be a separate item to the other masks.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
I know that having a mask is listed as one way to weaken Tiamat, so I suppose I could just ignore the idea that Severin needs all five. When they finally see the combined mask, it'll just be missing the black head.

That being said, I'm begin to wonder if the whole "five masks combine into one mega-mask" thing is a bit too silly. Makes me think of those Transformers and such that could combine into a mega-robot. Maybe the Mask of the Dragon Queen should be a separate item to the other masks.
I'm in the same boat. I think for me it just makes the ritual harder - ohh more sacrifices are perhaps needed, so keeping a mask means that you're condemning more people to die?! Holy moral dilemma!
 

pukunui

Adventurer
I'm in the same boat. I think for me it just makes the ritual harder - ohh more sacrifices are perhaps needed, so keeping a mask means that you're condemning more people to die?! Holy moral dilemma!
Hey, that's not a bad idea!

To be honest, it has actually worked in my favor a few times. For instance, when they found Neronvain's journal, I stuck an entry in there that talked about how Severin had ordered all the other masks to be returned to the Well of Dragons after the PCs captured the black one (and Varram temporarily lost the white one). My players found that sensible - and it will tie into my de-emphasizing of the blue mask in the Xonthal's Tower brief. ("We've got evidence that all the masks were sent to the Well of Dragons on Severin's orders. Why then is the blue one at this other place?")
 
Summoning rituals are a weird element in general. Call of Cthulhu adventures have long suffered from the problem that, if the players win, they get an anticlimax as the bad guy never arrives. The adventure just kind of ends without the dramatic big note. However, if the bad guy arrives, everyone dies. D&D lets you have them fight the bad guy - different power scale - but it doesn't get away from the anticlimatic nature of actually stopping the ritual.

This leaves the DM with two options: let the players stop the summoning ritual, and thus have no boss fight to end the adventure with, or have the thing arrive anyway, in which case the players might well deduce that there is no time pressure (can't stop it, regardless of how fast you run) so they might as well take things nice and slow. Neither one feels perfect, unless you manage to have a sufficiently impressive 'high priest' equivalent conducting the ritual, against whom the party can have their boss fight.


The Dragon Masks are kind of this problem writ large. Do you want the players to be able to stop Tiamat from arriving? If so, they can get the masks. If, however, you want them to be able to fight the creature which, remember, is on the cover of the book, then either they cannot get the masks, or the masks are irrelevant for the ritual. I'm kind of leaning towards the latter; the masks are very powerful artefacts that Tiamat has given to the cult and which will help them conduct the ritual better, but they are not actually required. In other words, each mask they find will reduce her stats, as outlined in the back of Rise, albeit without much support in the adventure for the idea.

I might also outline to the players that once the final battle starts, they get X amount of time until Tiamat gets summoned - X being equal to the fastest possible route, so they cannot stop the ritual - but that there is also Y and Z amount of time until the ritual progresses to the point that they can make up for the missing masks. This way I can get time pressure, while also getting my boss fight, and the players' accomplishment in getting the masks has an appreciable part in the finale.
 

jayoungr

Adventurer
My players didn't object to the blue mask being fake. They already had the black mask and the green mask by then. It also might have led to another interesting plot point down the road. Before the assault on the Well of Dragons, the party infiltrated for a recon mission. They used the fake blue dragon mask as a prop to help their cover as agents of Galvan the Blue, and they intended to switch out the fake mask for the real one if they got the chance. (As it happened, they blew their cover when they mass-teleported out a bunch of the intended sacrifices, so they didn't get the chance.)
 

cmad1977

Adventurer
Enhancing "Rise of Tiamat" (Practical stuff to try at your table!)

As I understand it, from the item description at the back of the book, Severin really only needs 2 of the masks to form the necessary 'mask of the dragon queen'. Granted, without all 5 Tiamat is slightly weakened. So getting one or more masks doesn't really matter... by which I mean, should the party acquire the black mask and the blue, the ritual will still continue as planned.


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pukunui

Adventurer
As I understand it, from the item description at the back of the book, Severin really only needs 2 of the masks to form the necessary 'mask of the dragon queen'. Granted, without all 5 Tiamat is slightly weakened. So getting one or more masks doesn't really matter... by which I mean, should the party acquire the black mask and the blue, the ritual will still continue as planned.
To quote Steve again: "The whole adventure is built around the idea that all 5 masks are needed to kick off the ritual."

Now, obviously, we can change that. I'm going to have to, or else my group stopped the ritual when they gave the black mask to Laeral.

I like the idea that, without the mask, the cult is going to have to sacrifice more people. It could lead to the PCs choosing to give the mask back in order to save lives.
 

cmad1977

Adventurer
To quote Steve again: "The whole adventure is built around the idea that all 5 masks are needed to kick off the ritual."
Ok. I'm just saying. The description of the mask says that once two are joined it forms the Mask of the Dragon Queen. To me that means only two of the masks are needed to start it. Naturally Tiamat is gonna be PIISSSED/weaker.

Whatever works.


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pukunui

Adventurer
Yes. The adventure is inconsistent with regards to how many masks are needed. It says all five in some places, and only two in others. As Steve said, this was because WotC changed their minds partway through the process.
 

VeiledMage

Visitor
Well, now I know which things to put up on DMs Guild first... :D.
I'll re-post them when I get home tonight.
I just started running my party through Rise of Tiamat after HotDQ, and the suggestions and extra content from everyone here are terrific!

I looked on DMs Guild, but didn't find anything authored by GuardianLurker or anyone else on this thread. Is there content on the DMs Guild, or is this thread the best place to look?

Thanks.
 
I just started running my party through Rise of Tiamat after HotDQ, and the suggestions and extra content from everyone here are terrific!

I looked on DMs Guild, but didn't find anything authored by GuardianLurker or anyone else on this thread. Is there content on the DMs Guild, or is this thread the best place to look?

Thanks.
If you're looking for battle maps, I have made a ton and you can use them if you want, here's the link:

http://michaelarkangel.deviantart.com/gallery/

they are FREE, so enjoy!!!
 

pukunui

Adventurer
I looked on DMs Guild, but didn't find anything authored by GuardianLurker or anyone else on this thread. Is there content on the DMs Guild, or is this thread the best place to look?
Yeah, there's not much on the DMs Guild for this adventure.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Where the heck is Xonthal's Tower? The book gives absolutely no guide. And where is the Well of Dragons for that matter?
 

pukunui

Adventurer
Where the heck is Xonthal's Tower?
It's at the base of the Greypeak Mountains, on the slopes of Mt Hlim, which appears on some of the older maps, I believe. It's between the mountains and the Marsh of Chelimber. If you're looking at the map of the Sword Coast from HotDQ, Mt Hlim is the big peak at the bottom of the Greypeaks to the left of the "s" in "Mountains".

And where is the Well of Dragons for that matter?
It's on the map, near the far right side. It's at the east end of Skull Gorge, near Darkhold. North of the Marsh of Tun.
 
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pukunui

Adventurer
I made some pics showing the teleportation symbol panels for Xonthal's Tower.

Panel for the audience chamber:
Xonthal's Tower Teleportation Panel (A).jpg

Panel for all other floors:
Xonthal's Tower Teleportation Panel (B).jpg
 

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