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

Sadras

Hero
Okay my two groups are now converging at the 3RD Council Meeting.

The SKT party left the Temple of the All-Father after it came down crashing on Harshnag and the Iymrith and journeyed out of the Spine of the World, low on resources and without much of their basic climbing equipment (as that had been carried by Harshnag). A tough trek, which saw them picking the easier paths despite loss in days, hiding and running away much of the time.

They made their way to the Valley of Khedrun before they had a chance encounter with Felgolos again. He filled them in on his wanderings and what he had learned as well as that he had been invited to the cloud giant fortress above Evermoor by Countess Sansuri (foreshadowing SKT chapter 9). The dragon dropped them near Mirabar where the intrepid adventurers sought out an official to tell their tale of what they had learned at the Eye of the All-Father. They quickly received an audience with Selin Remur, the marchion of the city (SKT pg 98) who decided it was high time that Mirabar should have their own Lord's Alliance delegate represented at these Council Meetings.

They along with Selin made their way to Luskan where they took a ship bound for Waterdeep to inform the Council of what they had learned. While in Waterdeep Leosin Erlanthar took the opportunity to schedule a private meeting with the two new delegates (Selin Remur of Mirabar and the tiefling Nightshade for the Zhentarim) who would be attending the Council just to bring them up to speed as two what had already transpired in meetings before.

Needless to say the characters were all up in arms once they found out that the Zhentarim had joined but moreso because Nightshade was accompanied by the remaining two Seven Snake members (Xolkin and Kella Darkhope).
The 7-snakes had tangled with the party before in Nightstone and had resulted in 5 7-snakes deaths, a PC death and another PC permanently scarred across her face. The meeting ended in a failure with the characters and snakes both drawing weapons, before Nightshade walking out and the Harper attempting to calm the situation and informing the party and Selin just how important the Zhentarim faction* be included, adding that "Personal vendetta's were immaterial given the ultimate goal of the Cult. Anything else paled in comparison to the threat of Tiamat."

Next session will include both groups at the 3RD Council Meeting. Fun, fun, fun!


*The Zhentarim claimed they had a dragon mask.
 
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Does anybody know of any side quests that would include a blue dragon's lair? My dratted players just came up with a good hook, but now I have to figure out how to tie it in to the overarching story!

I am cross-posting this to the Hoard thread as well.
 

Sadras

Hero
...opens the casket holding the (fake) Green Dragon Mask and instead of finding the Mask within she unleashes two spectral floating (giant-sized) heads- both bald Human males, although one of the two sports a large number of tattoos on and about his scalp.

“I am Severin, Wyrmlord- the Voice of Tiamat, and…”
“… and I am Rath Modar, your worst nightmare!”

(snip)

The casket and the Green Dragon Mask then dissolve, swirl and transform into a shimmering six-foot wide circular portal, a pulsing doorway to another (fiery?) realm...
So inspired by the above from this thread - and it just so happens my table is at the 3rd Council Meeting, but no fake Green Dragon mask, I have come up with something similar.
I will have one of Dagult Neverember's aides with 2 helpers abruptly interrupt the session and bring in a large wooden chest and immediately open it in the centre of the room....revealing the two heads

Rath Modar's head flies into the air and with a chorus of other voices behind him says...

Ancient Runes be Inked upon the Floor
Summon forth a Multi-Planar Door
Let one Establish a Link to the Astral Plane
And with Another
Bind Gehenna and Do the Same
Lastly, scream Avernus’s corridor through
And let them face their Enemy True

Needles to say the aide and the helpers are the first slain (one can always Speak with Dead afterwards)

Thus in addition to the ambush on the party, there is an attack on the Council Meeting - where the PCs fight the enemy for their own survival, have to save the delegates and hopefully close the portal. The portal is a large triangular shaped, 3-way portal, opening up pathways to three realms (Astral Plane, Gehenna and Avernus) from which pour out Githyanki (Tiamat's allies), Yugoloths (paid mercenaries) and Abishai (Tiamat's devils).

I developed additional possible PC actions during the conflict:
  1. Arcana maybe used to inflict damage on the portal (DC 15 inflicts 1d10+ Int Mod damage, DC 20 inflicts 2d10 +Int Mod damage);
  2. Religion (Faith) may be used to inflict area damage to all fiends (Yugolothos and Abishai) including the Enemy Force;
  3. Athletics/Acrobatics may be used to prevent wounds to a delegate (DC 15 prevents 1 wound, DC 20 prevents 2 wounds)
  4. PCs may inflict damage to the Enemy Force (refer below), where the I use the average AC, resistances, saves, immunities of all Combatants (refer below) to determine final damage dealt.
Each of the Delegates (12 in total - I have added a Lord's Alliance delegate from Mirabar) have special powers and when its your turn can determine which delegate assists you for that round and thus benefit from their power (so movement and positioning is not important - all ToM).
Delegate powers: Provide flanking bonus (+1 to hit), provide +1 AC, heal 1 wound to a delegate, inflict damage on the portal, cast Light (negating Darkness spells from Yugoloths and Creeping Darkness from the Black Abishai), or +1 bonus on saves, inflict 2d6 points of sneak damage (Rian Nightshade), gain advantage on a skill check.

Enemy Force:
Besides the actual listed creatures attacking the PCs there is an Enemy Force that wounds the delegates (rolled randomly on a D12 to determine which delegate is wounded). Each delegate may sustain 3 levels of wounds afterwhich they fall unconscious and possibly die. The Enemy Force starts off with (700 hit points - less one round of attacks by delegates on those stepping through the portal) and for every 50 hit points, inflicts a wound level to a delegate. i.e. Rolled randomly to see which delegate receives a wound and how many (delegates may receive multiple wounds in a round of combat).
During a combat round, each delegates (who is not unconsious) inflicts 1d12 points damage to the Enemy Force.

At the end of every second round the Enemy Force grows by 210 (70 from each portal door), thus making the destruction of the portal pivotal for the survival of the delegates.

Portal and Floating Heads:
The Portal cannot simply be dispelled. Dispel Magic closes but 1 pathway for a round, before it is reoppened again by Rath Modar. The head may also Counterspell, which it uses to protect the Portal.
Severin in the meantime hurls insults at the characters and delegates.
I'm thinking the portal hit points to be about +/-100-150 and one has to use Arcana to damage it.

Combatants:
All the while the PCs have their own creatures to deal with
1 Black Abishai, 2 White Abishai, 3 Githyanki Warriors, 1 Githyanki Knight, 2 Mezzoloths, 1 Nycaloth and the 2 floating heads (Severin & the Rath Modar) - complete with Legendary Actions.
Since this is the mass chaotic combat - I have also given the enemies an additional +1 bonus to hit (accounting for flanking).

Escape and the Succubus:
The exist to the Council Chamber are locked and barred. The succubus from Death at the Council is using her fiendish powers to manipulate key members of staff into doing her bidding..laying more breadcrumbs for the PCs to finally catch her and deal with her.

I am running this in two days time, will revert, and let you know if I approximated the numbers correctly. :geek:

We have 5 PCs (11th level) and 1 NPC (7th level). This will be their second deadly fight of the day.

EDIT: So just some feedback:
The numbers worked for our group - it was the 2nd major encounter for the day.
The delegate the PCs most teamed up with earned them a +1 on the scoresheet.
Furthermore one of the delegates died but was brought back via ressurection by one of the PCs (cost resources - crushed diamonds). That was a further +1 earned on the scoresheet for that particular delegate.
However, the githyanki PC raised the two dead aides as undead during the fight which resulted in Ontharr Frume and Sir Isteval being negatively affected by that (-2 and -1 respectively), particularly since the PC did not release the bodies when requested to (in-game reasons).
 
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LTL_Prime

First Post
Hey does anyone have the full "Devilish Influences" side quest pack that GuardianLurker posted in this thread a while back? I can only seem to find the first introductory bits, but not the resolution for that side quest.
 

jayoungr

Hero
Supporter
Hey does anyone have the full "Devilish Influences" side quest pack that GuardianLurker posted in this thread a while back? I can only seem to find the first introductory bits, but not the resolution for that side quest.
It must have been lost in the Great Data Munch of 2016. I had a look, but I don't seem to have saved it, unfortunately! @GuardianLurker did resurface last year--maybe this mention will bring attention to your question.
 

Mistwell

Legend
One thing I am starting to love about this era of D&D is no matter what adventure WOTC puts out, the combined brainpower of the community works immediately and hard to enhance it to be the best adventure it can be. DMsGuild provides the financial incentive for people to make enhancements that others will love, which encourages others to do the same, so that even a mediocre adventure (to start) can end as a superb adventure.
 


WiLLyRS

Villager
Just want to report my experience with the Xonthal's Tower maze: my players didn't get at all what Shadows to follow, After 2 sessions and one long rest inside the maze I run out of rooms with the players still at the second sundial.
So, after another wrong path, I have them teleported to the maze entrance, surrounded by cultists that had hours to get rid of their traitor, organize search groups and call for lennithon.
They fought with the cultisti for a couple of turns, then the dragon came: "The traitor is dead. The mask is safe. I want to be there when Tiamat arrives and you want to be there to stop us: I aknowelege your strenght as you already killed some dragons of us. Aknowelege mine and let's not fight for nothing here: go away now and I will not destroy the village here!"
My players freaked out as they were tapped out of everything, and before the dragon realized that he could indeed win, they fled with a teleport.
Mission failed, but It was awesome!
 

Averlade

Villager
Just want to report my experience with the Xonthal's Tower maze: my players didn't get at all what Shadows to follow, After 2 sessions and one long rest inside the maze I run out of rooms with the players still at the second sundial.
So, after another wrong path, I have them teleported to the maze entrance, surrounded by cultists that had hours to get rid of their traitor, organize search groups and call for lennithon.
They fought with the cultisti for a couple of turns, then the dragon came: "The traitor is dead. The mask is safe. I want to be there when Tiamat arrives and you want to be there to stop us: I aknowelege your strenght as you already killed some dragons of us. Aknowelege mine and let's not fight for nothing here: go away now and I will not destroy the village here!"
My players freaked out as they were tapped out of everything, and before the dragon realized that he could indeed win, they fled with a teleport. omegle
Mission failed, but It was awesome!
Needless to say the characters were all up in arms once they found out that the Zhentarim had joined but moreso because Nightshade was accompanied by the remaining two Seven Snake members (Xolkin and Kella Darkhope).
 
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GuardianLurker

Explorer
Death at the Council

This adventure is intended to be run just after the First Council, while the characters are in Waterdeep reporting on the results of their first mission.

When the Cult of the Dragon contacted the devils of the hells for their aid, the Duchess Zariel arranged for Merisal to answer their summons and aid them.

Merisal's Cover

Merisal has assumed the form of a female minstrel, and joined a band of other female minstrels, who are extremely popular with the richer patrons and nobility in Waterdeep. To include a number of the senior aides and functionaries of the Alliance Council.

In her cover form, Merisal is a half-elven minstrel/harpist named Perral. Her bandmates are Meliranna, a singer/drummer, and Vestila, a lutist/flautist. Perral is blonde and buxom, Meliranna is brunette and athletic, and Vestila is red-haired, tall and slender. All are extremely beautiful, flirtatious, and skilled performers. They consciously chose to associate together to widen their appeal. Each have their dedicated admirers. Perral's admirer is a Paladin of Lathander, and a member of the Order of the Gauntlet, name Garalt. Meliranna strings along three admirers - a minor noble of Lord Neverember's court, Lord Athil du Hornkest, Hirst, squire to Sir Isteval, and Badtholem, apprentice to Lord Hornblade. And Vestila has two - Yvenne, a maid at the Waterdhavian Palace, and Delliana Silvermist, a notable Waterdhavian fiancier.

A Herring's Spy

Delliana Silvermist is using Yvenne to gather inside information on the Alliance's logistical needs, so she can negotiate better deals with the Council. In addition to their mutual connection through Vestilia, Delliana has addicted Yvenne to a drug that only she can supply. The drug is an aphrodisiac derived from certain fiendish plants.

Delliana was in turn, introduced to the drug by Merisal disguised as Vestilia, who also introduced Delliana to an actual supplier from Skullport. Vestilia is also prone to using other artificial enhancers, and the supplier is also her normal supplier. The supplier (Dark Doug) actually gets his actual supply from Merisal in the guise of a female drow, who he knows as the Lady Theloma. If the characters track Lady Theloma, they find her house, staffed only by an old gender-indeterminate housekeeper (Merisal again), who says she doesn't know where her employer goes, but she's sure that the house isn't Lady Theloma's, and that Lady Theloma is almost certiainly not what or who she appears to be. The housekeeper doesn't care. The gold is real, even if her employer isn't, and she's careful to make sure that's all she knows.

All of this is Merisal just setting up a smoke-screen, and corrupting mortals for fun. After her initial setup, Merisal's entire involvement is just in the drug re-supply. She's just been letting all involved do as they like. Nor has she charmed anyone - it's just been good old-fashioned seduction.

*Quest: An Unpickled Herring
If the characters are integral in breaking Yvenne of her addiction, she is capable of recounting to the players that she was always a little confused by Vestilia - she was wildly inconsistent in her behavior, and sometimes, she'd swear she caught Vestilia using one of Perral's gestures or turns of phrases. She always wrote it off as the drugs or Vestilia's long friendship with Perral.

Award XP as if the party had defeated a group of CR 7 monsters equal in number to the party. Increase the character's reputation with the Emerald Enclave by 1.

*Quest: A Line Unwound
If the characters fully investigate this line AND they conclude or suspect that none of Delliana, Yvenne, or Vestilia are Merisal's disguise, award XP as if the party had defeated a group of CR 9 monsters equal in number to the party.

If the characters conclude that the Housekeeper is Lady Theloma, award half the listed XP, or the full XP if they actually force the housekeeper to flee, her deception revealed.

A Smoked Herring

Meliranna is a doppleganger. She is not engaged in any plots. She's (It's) just trying to breed, and Meliranna's role is well-suited to this. The doppleganger is completely innocent of all of Merisal's plots.

*Quest: An Unsmoked Herring
If the characters prove Melirana's innocence, or recruit her as a spy, award XP as if the party had defeated a group of CR 3 monsters equal in number to the party.

Also, increase the character's reputation with Lord Neverember by 1.

Just a Hint of Herring

If the characters investigate Perral, they can discover that in addition to her minstrelry and harping, she also has a reputation as a petty thief. The most she's ever stolen though is only enough to get her escorted out of town. She's also widely known as a troublemaker, and a card shark.

Merisal established her cover some months back, arriving in a ship at Baldur's Gate, then traveling a winding route through the Heartlands to Waterdeep. If the characters spend the time and effort, including an in-person visit to Baldur's Gate, they can reveal Perral to be a false cover. Merisal's real nature however, is still concealed. By the end of this, however, Badtholem will have already investigated Lord Athil, and both corpses will be long past the time limit for speak with dead.

Not a Herring

Merisal's actual effort is for much higher stakes. Using Vestilia's form, she's seduced Lord Athil, and worked a few blackmail-able events into the seduction as well. She hasn't concealed her connection to the Cult, nor the fact that she is a shape-changer. She is using Lord Athil ruthlessly and recklessly to gain the Council's secrets. She has even had some minor success in her plan - Lord Athil isn't particularly sneaky, and a number of people have noticed a change in his behavior.

The characters can detect Lord Athil's nervousness and guilt easily (DC 12 Insight check, passive). Likewise, tracking him to a rendevous is almost trivial. In fact, if the characters don't get suspicious on their own, Badtholem tracks down, and confronts Lord Athil the night of the last Council briefing, just before the characters would leave for their second mission.

If this happens, Lord Athil's and Badtholem's absences are noted the following morning, and news of their deaths is reported to the council. If the characters investigate, they can obtain the bodies to question using speak with dead, or they might use commune to discover the spy.

Badtholem: I waited in the shadows until I saw the traitor Athil meet someone who appeared to be a female drow. I saw him pass her some of Lord Neverember's confidential documents, and heard them speaking together, though I was unable to hear the words distinctly. When I approached closer, the drow revealed her true colors. She changed into a red-haired fiend with bat's wings and a devil's tail. Lord Athil seemed briefly surprised, but when I tried to stop the fiend defended it long enough for it to paralyze me with some form of slime it threw from its hands. Then it cast some spell on me while Lord Athil watched. When it kissed me, I wanted it to, even as I felt my life drain away.

Other likely questions for Batholem:

  • Why did you follow Lord Athil? I was jealous.
  • What do you think of Vestilia? Glad that my beauty is innocent of being a spy.
  • Were you aware that Meliranna is a doppleganger? My Meliranna? I assure you, she is not, cannot be, a doppleganger. None such could pass the inspection I gave her.
  • What do you think of Perral? A lesser supporting light to my Meliranna's star.
  • Who do you think the shapechanger/succubus/erinyes is masquerading as? Vestilia. Her corrupt nature betrays her. I saw the debauchery she engages in. No pure maiden she.

Lord Athil: When I first saw her, I thought she looked like an angel. When I heard her play, I felt life lift me up. And when I heard her sing, I thought heaven itself was singing through her. Fool. When she showed an interest in me, I didn't question why, I just counted every blessing I had never earned. Fool. It wasn't until I was too deep to see anything but her that I discovered her false nature. At first I thought her nothing more than some doppleganger trying to worm its way into high society. Then she tricked me into attending a cult meeting. I though I could turn her. Fool. Or discover her handlers. Fool. But she played me beyond that. But at the end, I discovered nothing was left of me but a puppet, and that I had betrayed all I had loved to the very forces of Hell. Damned fool.

  • *Who was she? I don't know. At first I thought her Vestilia, but after I discovered her shapechanging, I noticed Vestilia dining with Yvenne. And I saw Meliranna in the streets while I was out walking with Her. And met Perral in the market when all three of us stopped to smell the flowers at a cart. So I don't know - all my obvious suspects are false.
  • What did you reveal to her? (Lord Athil recounts the briefing information giving by the Lady Harper and the party.)
  • Did you know Meliranna is a doppleganger? (Lord Athil looks confused.) But I already told you she isn't the shapechanger. For one, I'm pretty sure the horns and wings indicte her as a fiend of some kind. Wait. You mean the real Meliranna was a doppleganger as well? (Lord Athil laughs uproariously.)
  • What do you think of Perral and Vestilia? Never trust Perral in a card game. But given her lover's a paladin of Torm, I'm pretty sure she's not a fiend. As for Vestilia, I'm afraid the poor girl has gotten into something that will be the end of her.
  • Where were the Cult Rituals held? In a seedy brothel in the South Ward. I don't remember where though. Most of my attention was on Her, not where we were going.

Catching a Fish

If the characters investigate Lord Athil before Badtholem does, they walk into a scene carefully prepared by Merisal. Carefully hidden in a concealed alcove (Perception DC 21), she cast a Major Image just before Lord Athil enters the room, with an image of her in her drow form pacing about the room. Thanks to her scrying, she knows the characters are nearby, so if she can she times things so Athil is giving her a satchel containing the documents just as the characters burst into the room. She then proceeds to do a number of things, as soon as she can. She casts Mass Suggestion ("Preserve your honor and fight to the Death. Death before Dishonor.") on Lord Athil and as many other characters as she can (Lord Athil voluntarily fails his save). She changes her illusory self to appear as one of Bel's erinyes, as if an alter self spell failed. Then she Teleports herself and the satchel away to a safe place, dropping the illusion, and leaving Lord Athil to the mercy of the party.

Outcome

Merisal has gone to great lengths to both reveal her presence, conceal her identity, and to weaken and corrupt as many people as she can, while still retaining her freedom. If, despite her work and the long odds facing them, the characters manage to definitively discover that she was Perral, that her usename is Merisal, or that she is a succubus, award XP as if she had been defeated in combat. (2900 XP)

Regardless, if the characters have an opportunity to interrogate Lord Athil or witness the satchel exchange, they earn 1800 XP.
 

GuardianLurker

Explorer
The follow ons for the Merisal side. These never got fleshed out because the main adventure was getting awful long as it was, and I didn't feel the need to add more content.

Mole or Double Agent?
If the characters have managed to turn Talis or some other cultist, intelligence provided by them, lead to a mission by the alliance, which turned out to be a trap/ambush. However, the ambush/trap was set up for the mission as planned, not as executed, and Talis (or whomever) is still responding.

Is there a mole in the council?

Is Talis a double-agent? Has she been compromised? Turned?

This is intended to be run as the sequel to "Death at the Council".

Wyrm's Word
See Volmer's side.
 

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