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

jayoungr

Explorer
Your examples from HotDQ are well-documented. The only one I've noticed in RoT is Rath being able to concentrate on both fly and invisibility at the same time.
That was actually at the end of HotDQ. I have caught one similar small thing in RoT so far: Bonecarver, the shaman of Oyaviggoton, uses the statblock of a Druid but is said to cast cure wounds on Orcaheart if she gets the chance. The generic Druid statblock doesn't have that spell prepared, so you'll need to swap it out for another.

I'm not sure I'd agree that RoT requires less work to run than HotDQ. The adventure itself is solid, but there are so many side quests embedded in the narrative that you could easily spend 2 or 3 times the amount of prep work.
I should have said that it has fewer mistakes and awkward bits that need fixing in ways that are easy to blog about.
 
Well, I just hit the Well of Dragons/Ritual stuff in my prep. And it's actually one of the weaker points in the module - there's all kinds of potential "gotchas" buried in the text, mostly relying on the timing of the ritual. This is exactly the area where you will least want to wing it - there's a lot of events going on, many of which interact, and few of which are sufficiently detailed. So take good notes, and plot things in advance.

How long will the ritual actually take? It's implied 10 rounds (1 minute), but you might want to vary that. Longer will let you make the ritual forces tougher (and let you start the countdown earlier/farther away), shorter will increase the urgency. Either way, make sure you at least communicate the rough length of time to the characters before the assault (i.e. "a few minutes", "less than a minute", "several seconds").

There are (as written) dragons sacrificing commoners in the courtyard - at some point. Decide how long, when it starts, and how the sacrifices (or their absence) will affect the ritual. For that matter, how many sacrifices? At 1 commoner per 5 foot square, the prisoner chambers can hold approximately 750 people. More? Less? How many have already been sacrificed?

The red wizards are channeling all that sacrificial energy. How? Can the characters interrupt the energy flow directly? Do the mages support one another if attacked?

There are also a few enhancements you can make - as written, Severin doesn't really perform a critical part of the ritual (that's the Mask's role), moreover, he just sits there unresponsive while the players attack. Give him guards, or since only the Mask is needed, only place the Mask itself at the focal point, leaving Severin free to act.

The Red Wizards are opening a portal to Hell. It could be quite interesting to have a few devils pop out of it during the ritual (assuming it's long enough).
 

jayoungr

Explorer
Here's a link with stats for the individual dragon masks, should you decide to have some of the bosses wearing theirs and/or allow the PCs to get their hands on them:

http://tribality.com/2014/11/05/dragon-masks-tyranny-of-dragons/

***

Also, another editing mistake: Lady Laeral Silverhand is not supposed to be present until the second Council of Waterdeep, but the text implies she is present at the first council by giving her opinions on what should have been done with the dragon eggs. It's pretty easy to patch over; just be aware that the discrepancy is there, or it may trip you up!
 

jayoungr

Explorer
My group has just defeated Neronvain and Chuth by ambushing them when they went to meet Galin in the clearing near Altand. This was after they tried assaulting the lair and had to retreat after killing the ettins and some of the cultists in residence. The players have expressed their intention of going back and "cleaning out the lair" in the next session. Now that Neronvain and Chuth, plus the ettins, are dead, I'm afraid this will be a very boring session with just mop-up duty on the few remaining cultists. Any idea how I can spice this up? Roleplaying encounter ideas or something else to be the "final boss"?

If it helps, it will be about five days since the group's previous attempt to storm the lair. I thought of having some yugoloths residing in Chuth's old lair, and maybe putting a half-green dragon gladiator among the cultists, but I'm not sure those are interesting enough options. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
 

Syntallah

Villager
My group has just defeated Neronvain and Chuth by ambushing them when they went to meet Galin in the clearing near Altand. This was after they tried assaulting the lair and had to retreat after killing the ettins and some of the cultists in residence. The players have expressed their intention of going back and "cleaning out the lair" in the next session. Now that Neronvain and Chuth, plus the ettins, are dead, I'm afraid this will be a very boring session with just mop-up duty on the few remaining cultists. Any idea how I can spice this up? Roleplaying encounter ideas or something else to be the "final boss"?

If it helps, it will be about five days since the group's previous attempt to storm the lair. I thought of having some yugoloths residing in Chuth's old lair, and maybe putting a half-green dragon gladiator among the cultists, but I'm not sure those are interesting enough options. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
I replaced the 'as-written' bad guys with some wood elf warriors that Chuth and Neronvain coerced into fighting for them by taking family members hostage [I had the hostages tied up on the ledge in the main cave, including a severely poisoned wizard]. It made for some interesting "what do we do!?" moments before my bloodthirsty murder hobos started taking damage... /sigh
 

Eltab

Villager
The players have expressed their intention of going back and "cleaning out the lair" in the next session. Any idea how I can spice this up?
- Put something in the underwater passage that would let Chuth sleep soundly at night, knowing the guard has his back.
- Have another Cult cell (copy the original 10 guys) stripping the lair bare - gotta protect our secrets, and Neronvain had plenty ! (Hide his diary in a dusty dark corner somewhere.)
- A 3e Cult criminal muscle cell is guarding the place or trying to set up an ambush. Necromancer plus 2 bodyguards plus 10 cannon-fodder.
- Some kobolds just happened to show up just now, looking to take service under Chuth, no idea what's been happening here.
- Swarms of Small Animals (the animal spies that green dragons collect around their lair) attack anybody who tries to clamber around the waterfall. They WILL NOT go inside, just sound the alarm and detain intruders.
 

jayoungr

Explorer
Well, as it turned out, I didn't need much of a change at all to make the encounter dramatic. I had planned a whole new "boss fight"--a Red Wizard and a few yuguloths staking out Chuth's lair--but I ended up scrapping it because the PCs were pretty tapped out by the time they got there, thanks to a couple of additions to previous rooms. (Also because it was getting late and I knew we wouldn't have time for another big combat that night, and we're going on hiatus until spring, so I wanted to get to a good stopping point.)

The additions I made were to add half-green dragon gladiators to areas 4 and 5 (one in each area), and mages to areas 5 and 6 (also one per room). I also changed the dragonclaws to dragonwings and gave each one (IIRC) 37 hp. They never got to do much damage, but at least they stayed up for more than one fireball and soaked up some party resources.

The PCs wound up in the Y-shaped passage fighting off everyone in areas 5 and 6 from both sides at once, including the two mages. That made for an exciting capstone to the evening. One of the mages got into a veritable magic duel with our wizard, using counterspell and shield against each other. I decided the mages were evokers (because they probably would be), giving them the ability to sculpt their allies out of spells. And the dragonwings kept our melee fighters distracted enough that the the gladiator stayed up for a while, and the enclosed space meant that he got to use his dragon breath effectively because the PCs couldn't spread out too much.

I made up the stat block for the half-green dragon gladiator by mashing together the Gladiator and Half-Red Dragon Veteran stat blocks, and then substituting the green dragon's breath weapon. Basically, anywhere the Gladiator and HRDV stats differed, I took the higher option.

Half-Green Dragon Gladiator

Medium humanoid (human), any alignment
Armor Class 18 (chain mail + shield)
Hit Points 112 (15d8 + 45)
Speed 30 ft.
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
18 (+4) 15 (+2) 16 (+3) 10 (+0) 12 (+1) 15 (+2)

Saving Throws Str +7, Dex +5, Con +6
Skills Athletics +10, Intimidation +5
Damage Resistances Poison
Senses blindsight 10 ft., darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 12
Languages any one language (usually Common)
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)

Brave. The gladiator has advantage on saving throws against being frightened.

Brute. A melee weapon deals one extra die of its damage when the gladiator hits with it (included in the attack).

Actions

Multiattack. The gladiator makes three melee attacks.

Spear. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. and range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 11 (2d6 + 4) piercing damage, or 13 (2d8 + 4) piercing damage if used with two hands to make a melee attack.

Shield Bash. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 9 (2d4 + 4) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, it must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.

Poison Breath (Recharge 5–6). The gladiator exhales poisonous gas in a 15-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw, taking 21 (6d6) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

Reactions

Parry. The gladiator adds 3 to its AC against one melee attack that would hit it. To do so, the gladiator must see the attacker and be wielding a melee weapon.
 
Last edited:

jayoungr

Explorer
The Cult Strikes Back

This was the first major happening for my group; it occurred on the night before the first Council of Waterdeep. The group was attacked on their way back from the theatre. I used this map of a city street. I majorly beefed up the encounter, putting in two black half-dragons and four or five Dragonfangs. It still wasn't a very dangerous encounter for a fully-rested party, though; it just took them a long time to wear down the attackers. I tried to make one get away, but ranged attacks ftw, I guess. I had the assassination of Remalia Haventree's husband take place on the same night, so presumably that group got away to report back to their superiors.

By the way, I've been reluctant to use those dragon breath orbs because I don't really want my PCs to start carrying around bags of them retrieved from dead cultists. It does take away some of the cultists' best attacks, though. I might say they require attunement by an initiated cult member.
 
Last edited:

jayoungr

Explorer
Council of Waterdeep Resources (part 1)

Attached to this message is a one-page PDF with the council member portraits from upthread. I uploaded it to Roll20 as a handout to give the players a visual reference for who was present. I'm working on a second page to add Laeral Silverhand and Rian Nightshade.

Here's my stab at making an image for Rian Nightshade, for the time when she's an unknown Council participant.

Rian_unknown.jpg

Does anyone know where I can find a "clean" Zhentarim faction image that I can use for when her allegiance becomes known?

I'm still looking for a good picture to represent Laeral Silverhand. Her official pictures are all small and/or in black and white only.
 

Attachments

Last edited:

Eltab

Villager
I'm still looking for a good picture to represent Laeral Silverhand. Her official pictures are all small and/or in black and white only.
There is a portrait of Laeral in 3e _City of Splendors: Waterdeep_ that you may find useful (although the art style is nothing like the other pictures you are using).
 

jayoungr

Explorer
There is a portrait of Laeral in 3e _City of Splendors: Waterdeep_ that you may find useful (although the art style is nothing like the other pictures you are using).
Is that the one that's on her Forgotten Realms Wiki page? I could probably work with that one if I could only find a larger version of it.

Here's the image I'm using for Laeral:
Not bad! I'll use that as a backup. She looks nicely dignified, but I'd really like to find a picture that's showing a little less cleavage. Sadly, any image search that includes the words "fantasy" and "woman" tends to get me pinup shots! :hmm: :erm:
 

jayoungr

Explorer
Council of Waterdeep Resources (part 2)

Attached is a handy guide I made for myself with the main participants at the Council of Waterdeep. For my own reference, I took different-colored highlighters and drew around the names so they were grouped by faction.
 

Attachments

jayoungr

Explorer
No worries. I really didn't like any of the official images of Laeral so I made my own.
What did you use to make it?

EDIT: I should explain that the reason I'm looking for a different picture for Laeral Silverhand instead of using the one that @vandaexpress posted on the first page is because I'm thinking of using that portrait for Elia instead. I found a text-free version of it using Tineye.
 
Last edited:

pukunui

Adventurer
What did you use to make it?
I should clarify that I merely photoshopped an image I found online. The original image was of an elf in a white dress. According to the old 2e supplement, The Seven Sisters, Laeral has "emerald-hued eyes", and I'm sure I read somewhere that she has a preference for lavender, so I recolored the eyes and dress as well as making the ears look more like a human's. I probably should've made the hair silver as well, but then she's got blond hair in that one bit of art that shows her in RoT (the one where everyone's arguing over the dragon mask).
 
Last edited:

pukunui

Adventurer
As an aside, I feel I should mention that the image used for Governor Nighthill in HotDQ technically should be an image of Lord Neverember. It matches images of him from other products (including the view of him in the council image in RoT), as well as his description in RoT, which makes mention of the fact that he is rarely seen without a wine glass in hand.
 

jayoungr

Explorer
The Tomb of Diderius

Not a lot to say about this except that I wish I'd played up the final confrontation with the yuan-ti priestess more.

I usually play with this group over Roll20, but I knew I was going to be doing this session face to face. To speed up drawing the maps on a battle mat, I made a note of the dimensions of the various rooms for quick reference. In the case of irregularly shaped rooms, I noted both the widest and narrowest dimensions in any given direction. Here's the list in hopes that someone else will find it a time-saver.

1. Entrance Plaza
2. Antechamber (10 x 30)
3. Watchful statues (20 x 50)
4. Mosaic chamber (40 x 40)
5. Well chamber (diameter 40)
6. Hallway (10 x 90)
7. Throne room antechamber (40/20 x 70)
8. Throne room (30 x 50)
9. Study and library (40/20 x 70)
10. Dining hall (40 x 50/60)
11. Treasure vault (30 x 30)
12. Divination pool (80 x 40)
13. Crypt of Diderius (40 x 30)
14. Ss'tck'al entryway (30 x 20)
15. Bridge (10 x 40)
16. Meditation chamber (50 x 60 at widest point in each direction)
17. Yuan-ti Quarters (40 at widest point in each direction)
18. Long hallway (10 x 100) (after bend: 10 x 70)
19. Hatchery (40 x 40)
20. Lizardfolk den (30 x 30)
21. Prison (30 x 40)
22. Temple (50 x 80)
 

vandaexpress

Villager
Someone earlier asked about where to get clean faction images for use with the portraits. They can be found in the D&D Fansite kit which you should be able to download from Wizards here: http://dnd.wizards.com/articles/features/fan-site-kit

Seconded on the Governor Nighthill portrait being Lord Neverember. In fact, I think if you find the artist's deviant art account, he has that picture labeled as Dagult Neverember. Good thing, too. There's not many good pictures of the guy (the one I used was ripped from a comic).
 

Advertisement

Top