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


3) Let the group fight the Dragon by his lonesome then leave, probably in triumph
Preferences? Thoughts?

I vote for option 3

Where did they take their long rest?

in my game the PCs also cleared out everything aside from the Ettins (who they made friends with ) and the Dragon.

Whilst they rested in the entrance of the cave, I felt that now that the influence of the cult was gone that the lair would return back to what it should be. I took inspiration from the Green dragon lair entry in the Monster Manual.

So the Party heard the sounds of nature returning back to the lair, but unless they wanted to sacrifice their long rest to investigate they would have to leave it alone. 8 hours seemed just long enough for it start happening for me.

Also meant that if the PCs wanted to return back into the lair they would find that the easy route back via the rooms the cult used was now full of vicious plants. If they head back that route then the dragon will be aware of them and can be prepared. Plus dragon can always escape via the pool and leave the cave to fight another day, leaving treasure behind so they can feel like they have won.

hope that helps

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Here's the Jotunmoot, extracted from my FG module. If you spot any problems or mistakes, let me know.
That looks great! I look forward to looking into it in more detail, but based on a quick glance, it looks very readable. Thanks for posting it!

1) Rewind to "you arrive outside the cave where the Green Dragon and his Rider lurk"
2) Figure out what the Dragon will do while they sleep all day - probably set up a TPK using "the Classic Cult is a criminal ring" assets
3) Let the group fight the Dragon by his lonesome then leave, probably in triumph
I'd talk to your group. Be honest, tell them that you weren't really prepped for the interrogation scene, and ask them if they'd rather have another try at it. If they don't especially care, then use your other options.

If they do go with the other options...why would Chuth hang around for eight hours waiting to be killed? It's not his regular main lair anyway. I'd have him leave while they were asleep.


Is this a moon, or is it a space station?
Where did they take their long rest?
In the Cult barracks room. No picket, no scout, no view of the entrance - just "we barricade ourselves in this dark dead-end room over here"

Hence my temptation to narrate a TPK.


Just popping in to post this image of Rian Nightshade with Zhentarim faction symbol.



Replacing the Mission to Thay

In the interest of keeping my RoT posts in one place, I'm just posting this here. I'll place links in the other places.

Earlier I placed a complete tansformation of my work on the Jotunmoot. It was more work than I thought it'd be to translate it over, and frankly most of the work was in the stat blocks, which can be easily generated. So for efficiency (and my sanity's sake) I'll just be posting without the complete stat blocks, just listing the compositions of the encounters, and only providing notes on the monsters themselves.

I call this section of the arc:
Off to See the Wizards

Part 1. The Ritualist
The ritualist is hiding in Candlekeep. Once a frequent visitor, he has now joined the ranks of the Avowed, and has advanced to the rank of Scribe.
The characters face the following challenges:
  • acquiring the entrance-gift
  • arranging to find the ritualist - the Avowed adopt aliases upon entrance, and the ritualist is afraid that Thayan Wizards or their agents, will be seeking him out to take his life.
  • speaking of Thayan Wizards, they do maintain an agent here, and once the characters manage to expose the ritualist she will summon a strike team. Said strike team will not pursue beyond the Court of Air.
  • the cultists, by this point, are actively watching the characters. They too, have a strike team nearby. They will attack to prevent the characters from talking to the ritualist - they will also pursue into the Library itself.

The Players
Mero Ganim, the Scribe; Wizard(Transmuter) 14, CR 11 (7200 xp).
Rostek Hospod, the Thayan's Agent; Rogue(Assassin) 15, CR 11 (7200 xp)
The Thayan Strike Team; CR 21 (30300 xp)
  • Archmage
  • 2 Chain Devils
  • Horned Devil
  • 3 Red Wizards
The Cultist Strike Team; CR 19 (21300 xp)
  • Dragonsoul
  • 3 Dragonfangs
  • Half-green dragon assassin
  • Half-red dragon gladiator
  • Mezzoloth
  • Nycaloth
Candlekeep's Gatewardens; CR 13 (8900 xp)
  • Khristos Primo; Dwarf Paladin(Oath of Vengenance) 11, CR 9 (5000 xp)
  • Knight
  • Mage
  • 2 Priests

Khristos, as the leader of the Gatewardens, also has a number of Lair Actions available to him.
Once per round, Khristos can summon aid from the watchers along the walls and in the towers. On his command, they provide one of the following:
  • Focus Fire:The archers on the wall focus fire on a single target, as indicated by Khristos. The target takes 18 (5d6) piercing damage. (Many more arrows miss.)
  • Volley Fire: The archers on the wall spread their attacks across every hostile target in the Court of Air or the Entrance Yard. Each target takes 1d6 piercing damage.
  • Conjure Elemental (1/day): The highest ranking priest in the tower will cast Conjure Elemental for Khristos, summoning an Earth Elemental.
  • Conjure Minor Elemental (3/day): Other priests in the towers can be called on to cast Conjure Minor Elemental on Khristos' behalf. The following will be summoned in sequence: 4 Magma Mephits, 8 Mud Mephits, 2 Fire Snakes.

Advantage on any roll to disrupt or analyze the rituals involved in summoning the temple and Tiamat herself. Additionally, with the information in hand, any character may add their proficiency bonus to the Arcana rolls, even if already proficient.

This is intended to be a RP-heavy section, hence the light detailing. As a general note, I've found that adding 10 hit dice to a PC-classed monster brings their CR into rough line. Generally, though, damage output is a bigger problem, especially if the PC is a spellcaster without a lot of direct damage. Then you just have to WAG their threat level. As for the Lair Actions (I love that concept!), yes, those arrow attack don't involve a to hit roll - there are a sufficient number of archers on the wall, that I felt this was the best way to model their capability. After all, assuming a +5 to hit for the archers, you'll only need 20-30 (on average) to get 5d8 on a single target, something I felt was quite reasonable. As for the group CRs, remember that the party is supposed to be 13th-or 14th level, and that this isn't part of a standard adventuring day. (I'm also GM'ing a party of 6 savvy players, who generally perform tactically well. I'm more worried that the combat is a little too easy on them.)

Part 2. Revealing the Masks
Szass Tam's rule sent large numbers of Thayan wizards and scholars fleeing from his rule. Many of those possessed extremely rare books and knowledge. Of particular interest to the Alliance are the three Thayan exiles who each own one of the three surviving copies of "An Avatar's Tools: The Histories of Divine Artifacts Through the Ages". According to the information discovered by the Harpers and the Arcane Brotherhood, this book details other appearances of the Dragon Masks in Faerun. The Harpers are also certain that the Cult doesn't know this. The character's mission is to retrieve these books or the wizards before the cult discovers them.
The three wizards are located in Waterdeep, Neverwinter, and Luskan.

The wizard in Waterdeep is known as the Wizard of the Red-Feathered Hood. He makes his living as an information broker and investigator. He also has the reputation of being extremely ... cautious ... *cough*paranoid*cough* in arranging his contacts, and in conducting his investigations. No-one is known to have ever met him in person, and the few times he's been caught in public, the person under the hood has never been a wizard at all - an actor, an urchin, and a peasant, but not the wizard.

However, the contacts all start with reading the posting board by the Yawning Portal.

A notice on the posting board will lead to the next step. From there, lead the characters on a wild goose chase - except the goose is a disguised snipe. In short, the contact will always have been hired/given their instructions anonymously, and doesn't know who they'll meet next, they just have instructions for the next link. Sometimes, even that's misdirection - the Red-Feathered Hood has been known to use pickpockets to leave instructions on people's persons that the next contact tells them to look for. Sometimes, the contact is just an instruction. Characters who try to back-track the chain find themselves following another chain of instructions. Feel free to send the characters to *every* single ward of Waterdeep as part of the chain.

Eventually, the characters will be able to negotiate a price for the book. The wizard will discount the price if their antics amuse him. He'll also raise the price if the characters try to backtrack the chain, or otherwise annoy him. The starting price is 750 gp. The Red-Feathered Hood isn't interested in joining the Arcane Brotherhood or the Alliance. Once purchased, the characters will discover that the book is Volume 2 of 3. The other wizards must have the other volumes.

If the characters are not dealing with the Red-Feathered Hood first, the cultists are likely to have discovered the character's activity, and will be following them. In which case, the Red-Feathered Hood is likely to arrange one or more nasty surprises for the cultists (and for the characters if they don't enter the fight against the cultists). Aiding the cultists will have the Red-Feathered Hood end all discussions.
That's right, I didn't stat the Wizard of the Red-Feathered Hood. The PCs are supposed to meet him at all. In fact, my aim here is to make them paranoid and suspicious of how he always is one-to-two steps ahead of them. The ultimate answer is paranoid Divination specialist with a Charlatan background. If I was to stat him I'd make him a Wizard(Divination) 20, but I wouldn't place him any lower than 13th, to keep him in line with the others. Before you stat him, though I'd keep in mind on of the unwritten rules of GM'ing: If you stat it, your players will kill it. This guy isn't intended to be an actual opponent. In fact this entire scenario could even be played for laughs.

The Thayan exile in Neverwinter is the wizardess Sanura Hadad. She is known for her protective and time-keeping magics, and for her avid interest in history. She's authored a number of highly regarded scholarly essays on history, but she makes her living selling magical timepieces. She insists that these are not enchanted, or permanent.

She's also known to be a bit reclusive. She rarely leaves her well-known home, a walled mansion in the Bluelake District with a view of the Neverwinter River. The mansion is also known to be very well defended and protected. This is not unexpected considering that she established her presence before Lord Neverember's rise, some thirteen years ago. (She'll correct that number to 12 years, 7 months, and 9 days if mentioned in her presence.)

Arranging a peaceful meeting to discuss purchasing the book (Volume 3 of 3) is relatively easy. The meeting will be held in a specially-reinforced room at the front of the mansion, with Hadad attending via Simularum. If the characters investigate, they'll discover :
  • that the room is designed to channel explosions to the front wall, which is not reinforced (Architecture, DC 12)
  • that the wizard's desk in the room is protected by a number of spells (Spellcraft DC 16)
  • that the other furniture of the room is also spelled (Spellcraft DC 19)
  • that there are a number of mundane traps located about the room (Investigation DC 21)

If confronted with any of this information, the Wizardess Hadad responds:
"Not all of my potential clients are as peaceful or honest as I would like. I protect myself. Of course, this is all most unimportant, as you are both, are you not?"

She will reluctantly part with her copy of the book for 2400 gp. She'll also attempt to sell the characters some magical timepieces. She's also the most knowledgeable about the contents of the three volumes, and while she can't give definitive answers, she certainly could if the characters brought the other two volumes to her for consultation.

Characters who decide to try to acquire the book on their own are entering the lair of a paranoid high-level abjurer who has reason to fear for her life, and has spent 12 years, 7 months, and 9 days making a living with a high-end business in a lawless city. Her mansion is under a permanent Mordenkainen's Private Sanctum (preventing divination, teleportation, and planar travel), trapped, and aside from a few warn-aways and subdual traps (mostly along the mansion walls), her traps are designed to be as lethal as possible. Sanura is a firm believer in the adage "there is no such thing as overkill". Where needed, she's even reinforced the mansion to be able to deal with her traps structurally. For the most part, she also doesn't believe her traps should have a disarm option or a minimum safe distance (again, she's reinforced the mansion). Where this isn't an option (for instance, in her bedroom, or her workshop, or her safe), the disarm trigger is itself the subject of a trap, and that trap is usually protected by a glyph or symbol keyed only to her. She also habitually wears enough protections that she can, if needed, trigger her own traps to eliminate her opponents.

If she is the first visit, the characters encounter no other complications. If the characters visit her last, she'll be annoyed, as the cult has tried to penetrate her defenses, and suffered lethal failures. If she is the second visit, the characters will get to watch the spectacle as the cult tries to enter the mansion after their visit. If the characters decide to try and assault the mansion, the cult (or some local fools) try before they can, suffering the same deadly fate.

Sanura Hadad; Wizard(Abjurer) 16, CR 9 (5000 xp)
Lair Actions
Once per turn, Sanura Hadad can activate a glyph or symbol. Each glyph or symbol can only be activated once per room, and she must move if she wishes to activate more than one per room. Activating these glyphs or symbols does not break her concentration. Her options are:
  • Glyph of Fire: everyone in the room barring Sanura Hadad and anyone directly adjacent to her takes 10d8 fire damage.
  • Glyph of Acid: as Glyph of Fire, but 10d8 acid damage.
  • Glyph of Cold: as Glyph of Fire, but 10d8 cold damage.
  • Glyph of Lightning: as Glyph of Fire, but 10d8 lightning damage.
  • Glyph of Thunder: as Glyph of Fire, but 10d8 thunder damage.
  • Glyph of Prismatic Spray: as the spell.
  • Glyph of Color Spray: as the spell, 20d10 hit points.
  • Symbol of Death: DC 18 Constitution saving throw, die or 10d10 necrotic damage.
  • Symbol of Hopelessness: DC 18 Charisma saving throw, or incapacitated with despair for 1 minute.
  • Symbol of Insanity: DC 18 Intelligence saving throw or insane for one minute.
  • Symbol of Pain: DC 18 Constitution saving throw or incapacitated with pain for 1 minute.
  • Symbol of Sleep: Dc 18 Wisdom saving throw, or unconscious for 10 minutes.
  • Symbol of Stunning: DC 18 Wisdom saving throw, or stunned for 1 minute.
Yes, those lair actions are for *EVERY* room in the house. Not that I expect it'll matter, as if it comes to combat, it's sure to be over quickly. But if you really feel like staging a running battle through her mansion, feel free. Be sure to add LOTS more traps that she'll lure/manuever her assailants into.

The Thayan exile in Luskan is the Sea-Wizard Kontar Bahar. He's attached himself to the power structure in Luskan as a member of Ship Taerl, and also serves as a Magistrate of Luskan. His primary responsibility is to help Taerl and help serve as a counter to the Arcane Brotherhood for the Ships as a whole. He is a very visible presence in the city, along with his guards, the semi-retired remnants of an adventuring company known as the Opened Fist.

He's the least knowledgeable about the book - in fact, he didn't even know he had it, as it was part of a lot he purchased from an older wizard's estate. He is however, able to recognize the import of the volume, and thus won't part for it for less than 5,000 gp. Or the characters could do him a favor. Ship Taerl wants to rebuild the Upstream Span, and reopen the Mirabar trade route along Blackford Road. But right now, the span is control of various street gangs and monsters, and Taerl just doesn't have the strength to spare to clear it. Maintain it, yes, but not clear it. If the characters are willing to do that, he'll gladly give them the book.

Enc: Kontar Bahar; CR 15 (12200 xp)
  • Kontar Bahar, the Sea-Wizard; Wizard(Evoker) 15, CR 9 (5000 xp)
  • Darion Penna; Monk (Open Hand) 7, CR 5 (1800 xp)
  • Fedor Stratos; Monk (Shadow) 7, CR 5 (1800 xp)
  • Zera Petrou; Monk (Elements) 7, CR 5 (1800 xp)
  • Hyacith Polites; Bard (Valor) 7, CR 5 (1800 xp)
Kontar and his company should be built around tactical synergy. The monks and bard especially should all be big team players, and use lots of tricks to support themselves and their allies. (E.g. At one point, I considered giving Hyacith Hallucinatory Terrain, so she could appear to summon a thick fog, and place the surroundings into a dim light condition.) They aren't a real threat to the party, but can probably trounce almost anything else in the city, barring the Shiplords and the drow underlords.

To complicate matters, if this is the third volume being recovered by the characters, the cult will have planted rumors that the Thayans have hired the characters to deal with Kontar Bahar. As a first visit, there are no complications. As a second visit, the cultists will try to frame the characters for a theft from one of the ships. If the characters survive either Kontar or the frame-up, the cultists will attack them while the characters are still recovering.

Enc: Luskan Cultists; CR 11 (5950 xp)
  • Thirel the Cunning; Rogue(Thief) 9, CR 6 (2300 xp)
  • Dragonfang
  • Dragonwing
  • 2 Dragonclaws
  • 10 Thugs
The cultists are woefully underpowered compared to the party. But Thirel is a powerful "face" rogue, and might just be able to talk his way out of the character's clutches, if they catch him. He's a big proponent of "Let's you and him fight", and that's really the best option he has if facing the party.

Kontar's Favor

The Upstream Span is controlled by three gangs. The North Tower gang controls the tower gate on the north bank and two of the towers of the north wall. The South Tower gate is controlled by Kirat's Guard, and the span itself is controlled by a small band of rather intelligent scrags (aquatic trolls). The North Tower gang won't clear out without a fight, but if it's clear the characters could handle them (if say, they kill the scrags easily), the fight will only be a token. With a fair bit of persuasion (DC 23), they will agree to a peaceful restructuring under Ship Taerl's command. Kirat's Guard will agree to the peaceful solution much more readily (DC 16). The band of trolls will not agree, and must be eliminated.

Enc: North Tower Gang; CR 8 (2950 xp)
  • Bandit Captain
  • Veteran
  • 18 Thugs

Enc: Kirat's Guard; CR 9 (4950 xp)
  • Kirat (a Knight)
  • Knight
  • Berserker
  • 20 Pikeman
Pikemen are Thugs with short swords, heavy crossbows, pikes, and shields. Basically, these guys are a well-trained peasant militia. They've also set up their barricade with lots of oil-soaked hay bales, stone drinking troughs full of oil, etc. Kirat and the knight even have access to a poison known as Trollbane (DC 20 Constitution save; no damage, but trolls are unable to regenerate for 4 (1d8) rounds.)

Enc: The Scrags on the Span; CR 16 (14400 xp)
  • 5 Luskan Scrag; CR 6 (2300 xp)
  • Margarth; CR 7 (2900 xp)
A Luskan Scrag is a scrag (aquatic troll) with maximum hit points, 17 AC, and pack tactics. Margarth is a scrag with 14 hit dice, maximum hit points, 17 AC, and pack tactics. His attack sequence is also different. His three attacks are claw, vicious chain, vicious chain. He also has a special action - Ripping Chain
Vicious Chain
A vicious chain is a chain, barbed along its entire length, capable of entangling its targets.
Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6+4) slashing damage. DC 14 Dexterity saving throw or restrained. A restrained creature may make a saving throw every round; when freeing itself, it takes an additional 1d6 slashing damage.

Ripping Chain
If a medium or smaller creature is restrained by the Vicious Chain, Margarth can use the chain to spin them around, freeing them, dealing an addition 3d6+4 slashing damage, and granting their opponents advantage until the beginning of the creature's next turn.


The Complete Book
If the characters have managed to collect all three volumes, they can glean they following information from them:
  • The actual powers of each of the dragon masks (Investigation DC 15 and Arcana DC 15)
  • Rituals on how to enhance the power of a dragon mask (Investigation DC 15 and Arcana 10)
  • A way to forcibly extract a dragon mask from the joined Mask of the Dragon Queen (Investigation DC 20 and Arcana 25).

To forcibly extract a dragon mask, a priest of Bahamut must suppress the Mask of the Dragon Queen's magic, at the same time the dragon head that is to be removed takes 10*the number of heads in the crown of the opposing energy. The dragon mask will rejoin the Mask of the Dragon Queen the following round if it is not separated from the crown. (Opposing Energy: White = Fire, Black = Lightning, Green = Radiant, Blue = Acid, Red = Cold)

If Sanura Hadad is consulting, the characters have +5 on all Investigation checks, and advantage on all Arcana checks.

3500 xp to each character for each Thayan exile they peacefully and legally acquire the book from. An additional 1500 xp if they manage to acquire all three volumes.
If the cultists manage to aquire some of the volumes, reduce the highest faction score by one for each volume the characters lose.

Edit: Spellcheck
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My group and I are about to start the Tower of Xonthal and then we head into the final battle…

I mentioned in an earlier post I am planning on keeping the action away from the PCs but need to write / plan out the battle that they see.

So does anyone who has played out the battle have any notes / help that they wish to share?


Up thread, I posted how I plan to handle the final battle.

If you use FG, you'll probably find this useful: http://www.fantasygrounds.com/forums/showthread.php?26949-Rise-of-Tiamat-a-more-climatic-end-battle

Here are the critical sections for the battle:
Breaking the Ritual
What the Characters Know About the Ritual
Summoning Tiamat bodily from Hell is a two-stage process. First, the Temple of Tiamat must be pulled from Avernus to Faerun, then a portal can be opened from within the Temple, from which Tiamat will emerge.
Calling Forth the Temple
Calling forth the Temple requires the following:
  • The bodies of 50 Huge Earth Elementals, soaked in the blood of enough devils to turn the earth to a thick mud.
  • The spine and skull of 5 metallic wyrmling dragons (one of each type), set with the gem corresponding to the color of the opposing chromatic dragon, each blessed by a cleric of Tiamat.
  • The blood of those wyrmlings, used to draw the outline of the Temple.
  • 50 good mortal humanoids, who will be sacrificed during the ritual.
  • 50,000 gold pieces

Once the materials are assembled, the wyrmspeakers will conduct the ritual. The ritual itself requires 25 minutes of chanting. When complete, the Temple will begin constructing itself over the next 5 days.

The wyrmspeakers are expected to be wearing their Dragon Masks. If the Cult is missing one or more Masks, for each missing mask the ritual will require an additional 50 mortals, an additional 10,000 gold pieces, and one additional day for construction. For example, if the Cult is missing the Black, White, and Green Dragon Masks, the ritual would require 50 Huge Elementals, the blood, spine, and skull of five metallic wyrmling dragons, 200 good mortals, and 80,000 gold pieces, and would then require 8 days of construction time.

Summoning Tiamat
Summoning Tiamat requires the following:
  • A hoard worth at least 500,000 gold pieces that will be claimed by Tiamat, and blessed by 5 priests of Tiamat.
  • 500 mortal humanoids, who will be sacrificed during the ritual.
  • 5 chromatic dragons, adult or older, one of each type.
  • 5 specially prepared harnesses that will be worn by the dragons.
  • 5 sets of ritual circles, used by the dragons and the spellcasters.
  • 5 sets of ritual spellcasters that will channel and control the sacrificed energy. A set is one or more spellcasters.
  • The combined Mask of the Dragon Queen, worn by the leader of the ritual.

Starting this ritual is quite simple - every ritual particpant says a minute long chant, then the dragons begin the sacrifices, which the ritual spellcasters channel to the leader. After all the sacrifices have been made, the portal to Hell will open one round later. The dragons do not have to finish their sacrifices in synchronization.

Vulnerabilities in the Ritual
Calling Forth The Temple
From the characters point of view, this ritual will be hard to interfere with. A DC 20 Arcana check (which cannot be made if the character is not proficient in Arcana) reveals the following:
  • The elementals and devil blood are only spell away, and can be preserved. The Cult cannot be prevented from acquiring them.
  • Based on intelligence, the gold and the sacrifices (for both rituals, barely) have been already acquired.
  • The wyrmlings should have been assumed to be acquired. If the metallic dragons are allied, they agree with this - unfortunately, 5 wyrmlings dying is well within normal, and their loss would not raise any flags.

Another proficient DC 20 Arcana check reveals:
  • The spine and skulls can be eliminated from the ritual by removing Tiamat's blessing, giving them burial rights in the name of Bahamut, then destroying them beyond recovery.
  • Killing the Wyrmspeakers will also interrupt the ritual.
  • Interrupting the ritual will cause a large energy backlash.
Interrupting the ritual deals 5d6 radiant damage, plus 1d6 radiant damage for every minute (or fraction thereof) the ritual continued to every being within the ritual circle, and a 50' ring surrounding the ritual circle. If any of those targets are good-aligned, they take a half as many d6's of necrotic damage. (E.g. if interrupted at minute 7, any good-aligned characters within the area would take 12d6 radiant + 6d6 necrotic damage.)

Summoning Tiamat
From the characters' point of view, this ritual is easier to interfere with, but harder to completely stop as it can produce weaker results. A proficient DC 20 Arcana check reveals the following:
  • There are 5 "chains" of sacrifical energy flowing to the leader.
  • All 5 chains will need to be broken to completely stop the ritual.
  • Destroying the ritual circle is also a certain way of breaking the chain, but they will probably be hard to destroy, and heavily guarded.
  • Stopping the sacrifices is the most certain way of breaking the chain, but easy to guard against, and would involve fighting what is probably a powerful dragon. They could also be resumed.
  • The dragon has to kill the sacrifices with its body, not its breath weapon (I.e. bite, claws, and tail).
  • Having more than one spellcaster in the ritual chain grants finer control and redundancy. However, the spellcaster must be competent and reasonably powerful, capable of casting 5th level spells.
  • The ritual spellcasters and the dragons must be constantly concentrating on performing the ritual.
  • The ritual spellcasters are replaceable as long as the sacrifical energy flows.
  • Breaking a chain while the sacrifical energy flow will cause a large energy backlash.
  • A chain has to remain broken for 3 minutes to remain broken, but if the sacrifices are still continuing, it can be reforged with a minute's work.
  • The Mask of the Dragon Queen is the key - destroy it, and the ritual will also fail. Reaching it during the ritual is likely to prove very dangerous and difficult.

Determining how to destroy the Mask of the Dragon Queen is difficult (a proficient DC 25 Arcana check). For maximum effect, it requires a cleric of Bahamut and a metallic dragon of each type. For each participant in its destruction that doesn't match the maximal requirements, the Mask of the Dragon Queen receives a saving throw against each of the participant's efforts. If the participant is one of the maximal ones, the Mask receives no saving throw against the particpant's efforts. The steps involved in the destruction, which must be done in the order listed:
  • (Cleric of Bahamut) Cast Dispel Evil and Good on the Mask
  • (Gold Dragon) Deal 70 points of fire damage in one action
  • (Silver Dragon) Deal 60 points of cold damage in one action
  • (Bronze Dragon) Deal 70 points of lightning damage in one action
  • (Copper Dragon) Deal 60 points of acid damage in one action
  • (Brass Dragon) Deal 50 points of fire damage in one action.
  • (Cleric of Bahamut) Cast Divine Word on the Mask
  • (Cleric of Bahamut) Deal 10 points of damage from a DragonSlayer, or any magical bludgeoning weapon.
Each dragon can attempt its effort multiple times, as long as the dispel evil and good is in effect. Likewise the divine word, and the physical damage. If the dispel evil and good reaches its maximum duration before all the steps have been completed, the process must start over.

Interrupting the summoning ritual will weaken Tiamat, with some interruptions weakening her more than others.
  • Automatic Failure: Breaking the ritual lines on all 5 chains, destroying the Mask of the Dragon Queen, stopping the flow of sacrifices for all the chains for more than 3 minutes (30 rounds).
  • Critical:Breaking the ritual lines for a chain, stopping the flow of sacrifices for a chain for more than 3 minutes, preventing a Dragon Mask from joining to form the full Mask of the Dragon Queen, killing both wizards in a chain, removing the Mask of the Dragon Queen from the focal point for more than 5 rounds.
  • Severe: Stopping the flow of sacrifices on a chain for more than 2 minutes, killing a single wizard in a chain, causing an energy backlash, removing the Mask of the Dragon Queen from the focal point for 5 rounds or less.
  • Minor: Stopping a dragon or wizard from concentrating for more than 10 rounds.
As a Background Task
If the characters choose to assign this objective to another group, the most natural fit will be the allied wizards (regardless of whether the wizards are from the Arcane Brotherhood or Thay). As a background task, a successful resolution requires a successful DC 20 Intelligence saving throw. There will be a total of 5 such saving throws, one for each "chain". Each successful saving throw counts as a Severe weakening of the ritual.

Weakening the Dragon Queen
The actions of the heroes in and prior to this final battle can reduce Tiamat's power before she appears. Make a note of any weakening events, and their severity. A full strength ritual has 30 points. For each severity level:
  • an Automatic Failure: Remove 30 points.
  • Critical: For each Critical weakening, remove 6 points.
  • Severe: For each Severe weakening, remove 3 points.
  • Minor: For each minor weakening, remove 1 point.
Increase Tiamat's Hit Points to 900. Do not change any of her other statistics. Once all the point removals have been calculated, compare the result:
  • 30: Tiamat emerges at full strength, with 900 hit points.
  • 29: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 75.
  • 27: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 75.
  • 24: Tiamat's attack and breath weapon damage is reduced by 15.
  • 23: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 75.
  • 21: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 75.
  • 20: Tiamat cat only take 4 Legendary Actions.
  • 18: Tiamat loses her Regeneration trait.
  • 15: Tiamat loses her immunity to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons. It becomes resistance instead.
  • 14: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 75.
  • 12: Tiamat loses Limited Spell Immunity.
  • 11: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 75.
  • 9: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 75.
  • 6: Tiamat takes a -5 penalty to attack rolls, saving throw DCs, and to her AC.
  • 5: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 75.
  • 3: Tiamat can take only three legendary actions.
  • 2: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 75.
  • 1: Tiamat can only use her Legendary Resistance 3 times per day.
  • 0 or less: Tiamat is still trapped in the hells; the portal is completely uncontrolled for 1d8 rounds before it collapses completely. During its uncontrolled period, the portal will send a pit fiend, 2 ice devils, 4 erinyes, 4 horned devils, 6 bone devils, 8 chain devils, 10 barbed devils, and 12 spined devils. Only one group of devils will be sent a round, and the groups will be sent in exactly that order.
Once the score has been compared, apply all of the penalties at and above that point.

White Chapel
"The walls at the end of this chapel have been stoneshaped into a series of titantic arches big enough to let a gargantuan dragon pass through easily. The remaining walls of the temple are covered in murals depicting the triumphs of white dragons - winter or arctic scenes predominate, but there are also scenes from the Plains of Avernus with white dragons variously fighting devils, daemons, and demons. The walls are covered with dust from various white gems. Embedded in the floor is the symbol of a white dragon claw and tail striking, which glows a glaring white brightly enough to illuminate the entire chapel."

"A very large ritual circle, big enough to contain 100 people and a dragon, lies just outside the temple door, with a line of arcane symbols and runes extending into the middle of the chapel, where a much smaller ritual circle contains a red wizard."

The white wyrmspeaker (Talis) and her dragon ally (Arauthator) are sacrificing commoners (80-3d10) within the ritual circle. The stolen power of their sacrifices' souls arcs along the ritual's lines to red wizard, who channels the power up into the spire. The sacrifices have to be made by the dragon, who can sacrifice one commoner per attack ( or 4 per round if uniterrupted).

Placing the Lines
The Ritual Lines:
AC 18, HP (20+3d10)x10+(10/commoner sacrificed), damage resistance to all non-magical weapons, immune to spell damage of any type.
Using the pointer tool in Fantasy Grounds, draw a circle 10' in diameter, and center it on the Red Wizard in the middle of the chapel.
Next, draw a circle 50' in radius, and place the center just inside the tip of the chapel. This will place the dragon just inside, at roughly the 8 o'clock position.
Next, draw a single line connecting the centers of these to circles, beginning in the large circle, and extending to the small circle.

  • White Wyrmspeaker (Talis)
  • Ancient Red Dragon
  • Red Wizard

The Red Wizard in the ritual circle and the dragon performing the sacrifices must both maintain concentration to channel the soul energy. Concentration can be regained (and the channeling restored) with a full round action, during which the ritual participant is incapacitated.

Talis and Arauthator will attack the characters if they interfere with the sacrifices, attack them, or 5 rounds after the characters attack the red wizard.

The red wizard attacks if the characters attack him, or 5 rounds after the characters have stopped the sacrifices.

Talis, Arauthator, and the red wizard all attack if the players attack the ritual lines.

If Talis and Arauthator are killed, an Ancient White Dragon will resume the sacrifices, if possible, 20 rounds after their death.

If the Red Wizard is killed, a replacement will arrive 10 rounds after his death.

If the ritual lines are broken, this chain is permanently broken.

If the characters can stop the flow of sacrifices for 30 rounds, this part of the ritual will have to be restarted, which takes 10 more rounds, and requires a dragon and red wizard.

If the characters can prevent the red wizards (here and in the spire) from channeling the soul energy to Severin for 15 rounds, the energy starts to collect within the smaller circle, and two rounds later explodes dealing 12d8 poison damage to all within the chapel (no save). It also deals 6d8 damage to the ritual lines (which are neither immune nor resistant to this damage).
The other chapels are similar, just change the colors. However, the Red Chapel is a little different. Since Severin is the Red Wyrmspeaker, the dragon's companions are different. The red chapels encounter is:
  • Rath Modar (Archmage)
  • Ancient Red Dragon
  • Dragonsoul
  • Dragonfang
  • 2 Dragonwings

Blue Spire
"This spire rises above the floor of the chapel, its irregular walls with innumerable and irregular patches of those walls rendered a translucent blue. Floating 50 feet above the chapel, the walls of the spire towering another 100 feet above him, floats a red wizard."

"The wizard is held immobile and crucified by a stream of the soul energy. It enters his body vertically through his feet, and emerges horizontally in five colored beams from his feet, genitals, heart, throat, and the crown of his head. Those five beams braid themselves together and merge with the other streams of soul energy to form a kaleidoscopic, multicolored whorl of energy that rises into an inverted funnel of energy that stretches up to the upper reaches of the temple's central spire."

  • Red Wizard

While in the stream the wizard is immune to all magic, resistant to all other damage, and paralyzed.

The wizard can be pushed out of the stream with a DC 20 Strength check. If this done with a shove, grapple, or some other personal physical contact, the attacker must make a DC 20 Dexterity save or take 12d8 radiant damage. If the attacker fails the Dexterity save, they must make a DC 20 Strength save or take the wizard's place in the stream. If the player tries, he can attempt to control, redirect, or purify the soul stream. Each requires the character to first make a DC 25 Constitution saving throw, followed by a DC 30 Wisdom check to succeed.

If the wizard takes 10 hit points of damage total (1/4 his maximum), he is no longer paralyzed, but is restrained.

If the wizard takes 20 hit points of damage total, he leaves the stream and downs a potion of greater healing.

If the wizard leaves the stream, for the next five rounds every target (other than the red wizard) within 40' of that point must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw, or receive 6d8 radiant damage, or no damage on a successful save. At the end of five rounds, the stream connects directly to the portal, and the portal is reduced 5 feet in radius.

If the characters manage to prevent the red wizard on the chapel floor from channeling the soul stream to this wizard, this wizard will take 2d4 psychic damage per round (a successful DC 15 Wisdom saving throw each round reduces this by half).

If this wizard dies, he is replaced in 15 rounds.
The obvious color changes apply for the other spires.

The Great Aspe (The centerpoint between the Spires)
"50 feet above the temple floor, at the base of the central spire, a large multicolored whorl of energy rotates. Looking up, you can see that the whorl actually forms a funnel, with the tip of the funnel above the mouth. Colored bolts of lightning - red, green, blue, black, and white - shoot from one side of the funnel to the other, descending down to the mouth of the funnel."

"At the mouth of the funnel, the lightning flares and intersects with other bolts. Where the bolts intersect, a small translucent disk remains behind. Eventually, the mouth of the funnel will be filled by those disks."

Any character that makes an active DC 20 Perception check can determine that they can see through the disks, and that what they see on the other side of the disk does not match the inside of this temple. In fact, the characters are seeing through small portals straight into Avernus itself, something that can be determined with a DC 15 Arcana or Religion check. The mouth of the funnel is 40 feet in radius, and the funnel is 50 feet tall.

Every round, there is a 20% chance that one of the inhabitants of Avernus emerges from the portal. This chance increases 20% a round, until something emerges, which resets the chance to 0.

Great Apse Portal
  • (01 - 20) 1 Imp
  • (21 - 38) 1d3 Imps
  • (39 - 54) 1d6 Imps
  • (55 - 68) 2d4 Imps
  • (69 - 78) 9-16 Lemures
  • (79 - 89) 1 Spined Devil
  • (90 - 94) 1 Spined Devil, 2 Imps
  • (95 - 97) 1d3 Spined Devils
  • (98 - 99) 1d6 Spined Devils
  • ( 100 ) 1 Erinyes

"The peak of the funnel of energy reaches to here, 100 feet above the floor of the temple; the central spire rises another 150 feet to a peak of striped crystal - one color for each of the chromatic dragons. At the very peack of the funnel, it separates once again into five colored beams. Each of those beams curves caressingly around the man floating in their center to plunge into one of the 5 mouths of the Mask of the Dragon Queen. Contrasting with the energy flowing over his body, the man's body is contorted in obvious pain. The man, most likely Severin, the leader of the Cult of the Dragon and the Red Wyrmspeaker is guarded by a force of devils - four angel-like devils with red feathered wings and 8 small winged and spiny devils - arranged in a pyramid around the man, a feathered angel and 2 spiny devils at each vertex."

  • Severin

The group of devils at the apex of the pyramid serve as coordinators and reserves for the other devils. The others will not leave their apex until commanded by the apex erinyes, though they will engage in ranged attacks. Unless directly attacked, at least one devil will always be watching for other threats.

Each erinyes is capable of summoning, and will summon spined devils by preference.

The energy acts as a variant prismatic wall, protecting Severin. Unlike a normal prismatic wall, this variant only has five colors -
  • Red - unchanged from a normal prismatic wall
  • Black - deals acid damage as if it were the orange layer of a prismatic wall.
  • Blue - deals lightning damage as it were the yellow layer of a prismatic wall.
  • Green - unchanged from a normal prismatic wall.
  • White - deals cold damage as if were a normal prismatic wall.

Furthermore, this variant orders the layers (from outside inwards) as white, black, green, blue, red.

Severin is incapacitated until the energy's protection is dispelled. The next round, he will be able to act as normal. Severin consumed a Potion of Flying, but he will not leave the center of the funnel.

Once the energy's protection has been dispelled, Severin (and the Mask assuming he is still wearing it) can be pushed out of the focal point with a shove attack and a DC 25 Strength check.

The Mask of the Dragon Queen can be removed from Severin's head (assuming he's still alive and resisting), with two successful grapple attempts.

If the Mask of the Dragon Queen is removed from Severin's head, and not restrained, it will float (under its own power) back to the focal point in one round. It takes no special effort to capture and restrain the Mask in this state.


Example: There's a random encounter early on, when the players are probably going to be level 4 or 5, that pits them against something like 4 assassins from the MM. Problem is, those assassins turned out to be CR 9 each.


The NPC Assassin is one of the most front-loaded creatures for its level of the whole of the Monster Manual.

Some CR 9 creatures would make a good challenge for a level 4-5 party. The Assassin not so much, since it could conceivably insta-kill two PCs before the party can even act...

...much less four of them...

Replace them with Thugs. Once the party sports 70 hp or so, you can have *one* Assassin plus one Thug per party member, though.


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.
On the other hand, if you decide one of those spells is from a potion, you're fine.

Meaning, small "cheats" from NPCs aren't usually a problem and can easily be handwaved/explained.



The NPC Assassin is one of the most front-loaded creatures for its level of the whole of the Monster Manual.

Some CR 9 creatures would make a good challenge for a level 4-5 party. The Assassin not so much, since it could conceivably insta-kill two PCs before the party can even act...
Steve Winter has explained that this was an artifact of the monster stats being in flux while they were writing the adventure. Probably they were more like Thug stats at the time they were inserted. And originally, they were slaads! The full explanation is quoted in this post on the other thread.


Steve Winter has explained that this was an artifact of the monster stats being in flux while they were writing the adventure. Probably they were more like Thug stats at the time they were inserted. And originally, they were slaads! The full explanation is quoted in this post on the other thread.
Discosco said as much in his post I responded to, so my post wasn't written in horror over the unfairness of it all... more a visceral reaction: "of all the NPCs in the MM they had to choose the pointiest of them all".

Thanks though! I guess it would have been even worse if the L4 party was ambushed by four Archmages... :p


My group has finally restarted this adventure!


1. I made Neronvain female. This was mostly for the sake of variety--otherwise, there's only one female wyrmspeaker, and she's the first one to be defeated. The illustration is fairly androgynous, so it works either way.

2. Be prepared in case the PCs ask what Neronvain did to get him/herself banished. I was caught a little off-guard by the question and quickly improvised that "she" had joined the Eldreth Veluuthra. Since I have an all-human party, that had the benefit of being something they would all agree was bad enough.

Council of Waterdeep "2.5"

I'm inserting "The Frozen Castle" into Rise of Tiamat right after "Death to the Wyrmspeakers." To facilitate this, I also inserted an extra Council of Waterdeep session. Here's what happened at it:

1. Follow-up on defeat of Neronvain and Chuth.

2. Introduction of Rian Nightshade. I'm running "Death at the Council," so I said she's sitting in the spot where the aide who committed suicide used to be. I'm hoping that will encourage the party to talk to her when they investigate, so they'll actually find out who she is.

3. "Fallen Hero": Cylanestriel, whom the PCs had met on their way to the Tomb of Diderius, reports to the council on her experiences at the Well of Dragons. She has seen Severin the Red, Galvan the Blue, and Rezmir's replacement, a male half-elf whose name she didn't catch. She has also seen the preliminary preparations for raising the Temple of Tiamat (though she didn't realize that's what it was), suggesting that the cult is moving toward the summoning ceremony.

4. Follow-up on the Council of Metallic Dragons. This just consisted of stating that the dragons have agreed to join the alliance and that Elia is present as their official representative.

5. The Arcane Brotherhood has made a proposal to contact the Red Wizards of Thay and see if they might join the alliance. So far, they are the only ones in favor of the idea.

6. I meant to work in "Power of the Cult" by having a representative from the south (Ontharr Frume, maybe) report on how the cult's agents had been demanding tribute from communities like Berdusk and Scornubel. If I have a session 2.75, as seems likely, I'll work it into that meeting.

Question: The Cult Strikes Back #2

I'm having some trouble trying to figure out where to work in another cult attack. The first one happened on a deserted street when the PCs were completely fresh; I don't want to do that again. The book suggests having it happen when they're tired and depleted of resources, and ideally in a location full of innocent bystanders. I only have three major segments left before the end of the adventure--the Frozen Castle, Xonthal's Tower, and the mission to Thay--and none of them seem like appropriate times to have a cult attack. Plus, the group has learned teleportation circle, so they always travel back that way once they're tired at the end of a mission.

I do plan to have a fair amount of time in Waterdeep between each of these episodes, so that could possibly provide the location with innocent bystanders, but just hanging around Waterdeep doesn't usually deplete the party's resources at all. Unless I could work it in with the succubus from "Death at the Council" somehow, maybe? A succubus is only CR 4, so I don't think she'll pose much problem for the party, really. The easiest solution is for her just to disappear when they get too close.

Anyone have any ideas?


Heh. The easiest solution in the old days would be to have the cult attack the party in the place where they're sleeping, while they're sleeping. Especially if you've established the area as "safe", so they aren't posting watches. This of course, gets you casters without spells, etc.

In 5e, the equivalent would be to attack during a long rest, but that doesn't have quite the same effect. Still, if you work it right, you should at least be able to catch the casters with their utility/non-combat spell load outs prepared.


For attack number 2

I had a fight in a market stall in Waterdeep, the lead up was some traveller types asking the PCs if they had recently been to Boreskyn bridge? ( the first encounter I ran on the outskirts of said place ). They said yes and then we had a fight including a quick chase scene as one of the cultists fled.

PCs took a few knocks due to them not being fully combat ready whilst out basically shopping


Well, I may have figured out where to have that second cult attack. The PCs are teleporting to Silverymoon on their way to investigate what's happened to the Frozen Castle, and this seems like a perfect place for it. But I'm worried that it won't seem credible; according to the entry at the Forgotten Realms wiki, it sounds like the place is well-defended and bristling with magic. But it might be a good chance to play up how the cult of the dragon is raiding all over the place...the defenders are stretched thin trying to help out other communities? I'd love to find an excuse for the PCs to meet Alustriel Silverhand, too. (She is still out there as leader of the Silver Marches, right? The wiki made it sound like she was.) Maybe on their way back.

Does anyone know much about Silverymoon? Any good opportunities for local color that I shouldn't miss?


Alright... for a minute there I thought we lost [MENTION=786]GuardianLurker[/MENTION]'s Giant Moot, Arcane Brotherhood and Breaking the Ritual sidequests/re-writes

We did lose some, but nothing significant I think. I had a couple posts about using Talis the White as the new White Speaker.


Looks like we lost all of my little posts about Waterdeep and Boareskyr Bridge and the like. I am attempting to recover them from the google cache.

Allocating Metallic Dragons
Steve Winter said:
I suppose a decent rule of thumb would be that each dragon councillor that ended Friendly provides enough dragons to protect two territories, and each that ends neutral has a 50/50 chance to provide enough for one. But it was left indefinite so DMs could adjust to suit their own conditions and preferences.

If players were brilliant during negotiations, 2 dragons per friendly faction is warranted. If it was a tough slog, even friendly factions might provide only one. DM's input is vital.

Arthagast Ulbrinter
So while the book just says that the cult assassinates Ulbrinter without giving any reason why, the Tyranny of Dragons webcomic makes it so that the white dragon mask ends up in his hands after being stolen from the Zhentarim (who found it in Neverwinter). The cult then kills Ulbrinter while recovering the mask.

I'm not going to have that happen in my campaign, although it's possible that it could happen with the black dragon mask, given that I let the PCs recover it from Rezmir instead of having it teleport to the Well of Dragons. I thought that was a bit cheap. Anyway, depending on what the PCs do with Rezmir's mask, it could ostensibly end up in Ulbrinter's hands, in which case the cult might assassinate him during the recovery attempt.

That being said, for my campaign, I'm going to fast forward the campaign a month or two, during which time Ulbrinter will wine and dine them around Waterdeep in an effort to drum up support to oppose the cult's activities. The cult will assassinate him in an attempt to shut him up, which, of course, backfires on them.

The front of Ulbrinter and Haventree's mansion:

An interesting tidbit from Ed Greenwood's new novel, Death Masks: There is mention of Waterdeep's Field Ward being burned down by dragon attacks. It doesn't specifically mention when or why, but it would be reasonable to assume that this happened during the Tyranny of Dragons period.

The book also makes it quite clear that Laeral is losing magical power, and not just because of the edition change. Apparently her body isn't truly immortal, and she's having to sacrifice magical power to keep her body going. She admits to herself that she is forgetting spells, and that she would barely be able to stand against a member of the Watchful Order of Magists and Protectors, let alone multiple enemy archmages as in days past.

It also makes it clear that Mystra wanted Laeral to become Open Lord of Waterdeep because of the fall of the Silver Marches. There's a scene where Laeral shares a memory with Elminster where Mystra tells her that she has other plans for Alustriel and now it is Laeral's "turn to sit on a throne". Mystra wants her there to fend off people who might be anti-wizard or something.

I mention all of this because I intend to make use of it in my campaign. I allowed the PCs to acquire Rezmir's black dragon mask at the end of Hoard. Last session, I had some cultists attempt to blackmail the PCs into giving it back by threatening to kill innocent people at a market. The PCs refused, and while the cultists managed to kill twenty people, they were ultimately slain or driven off. The players chocked it down to a lesser evil, as they reckoned many more would be killed if the cultists got the mask back.

Anyway, I am now going to have the cult mount a major operation to get the mask back. They are going to send dragons to attack the Field Ward (and possibly other parts of the Waterdeep, as Ed says the city's dragonward waxes and wanes and no one really knows which wards are adequately protected at any given time) as a distraction while a bunch of Red Wizards led by Rath Modar break into Laeral's home to recover the mask. Given that she's a lot weaker than she's letting on, it shouldn't be *that* hard for them to do so.

RE: Waterdeep's dragonward.

In previous editions, a dragon needed to be touched by the Dragonstaff of Ahghairon in order to be able to bypass the mythal. The last known wielder of the staff, Maaril the Dragon Mage, disappeared after the Spellplague, and the current wielder of the staff is classified info (Ed can't say due to an NDA).

There is good news, however, as Ed says the staff is no longer needed for anything other than altering the properties of the mythal itself. The Blackstaff, the Open Lord, the Masked Lords (by vote), and the highest-ranking officers in the City Watch are all able to grant a dragon permission to enter the city.

Just mentioning it in case it is of any use to anyone.

Boareskyr Bridge
I found this cool image of Boareskyr Bridge online. It's from the new Siege of Dragonspear game.

Also, if you're wondering how to pronounce "Boareskyr", the original FR grey box guide has it as "Boar-reh-SKYR".
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