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

jayoungr

Explorer
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.
We lost 14 pages(!), including [MENTION=786]GuardianLurker[/MENTION]'s expansion of "Devilish Demands" plus the final version of "Breaking the Ritual." [MENTION=54629]pukunui[/MENTION] and I are doing what we can with Google cache, but in the meantime, I hope GuardianLurker will repost those pieces!
 

akr71

Explorer
Oh, crap! I saw the 'Breaking the Ritual' bit a couple pages back and did not realize there was a final. I may have copied it to my notes - I will check when I get home, tho' that may be edited somewhat for my campaign. I new we lost a bunch of pages, but didn't realize how much content was there...

Edit: it looks like I have 'Breaking the Ritual' I apparently did a raw copy and paste into a word document before making my own edits in a separate doc
 
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pukunui

Adventurer
Something I've just noticed: Rezmir is the only wyrmspeaker whose body is destroyed after dying. I wonder why that is. Something unique to her, or something they changed between the two parts?
 
Short Answer: It's almost certainly something they changed; she's also the *only* wyrmspeaker that appears with mask.

Rationalization Answer: Her death is the trigger for the mask's transport - her body is the fuel for the magic.

BTW: I haven't forgotten. Devilish Influences will be up shortly. I'll also shortly be looking for beta/proof-readers for the DMsG editions, PM if you're interested.
 
The Devilish Influences - Introduction

[h1]Introduction[/h1]
Tiamat is using the Cult of the Dragon to enter Faerun in a bid to consolidate and grow her power. After mortal ages striving and scrambling in the Nine Hells, her recent upsets have convinced her that her efforts elsewhere have cost her too much power. And rather than waste it trying to regain her throne against the very forces that deposed her, leaving her in the weakened state, she needs to regain her power elsewhere.

She has concealed this information behind a number of facades. Her outermost facade, Tiamat pretends that this is nothing more than a whim, or a distraction for her other infernal schemes against her competitors and oppressors. On her next layer within, she leads her opponents to believe that this is a effort to gain resources unopposed by the forces of the Nine Hells. Below that, she pretends that all her efforts are merely masking a permanent and full retreat away from Avernus and the other Hells.

The truth is hidden behind all of this - Tiamat is indeed planning to fully leave the Nine Hells, where she is both a prisoner and a Power, to take up permanent residence in the Realms, and once again rule. Furthermore, she plans on using her time in the Realms to break the bonds that tie her to Avernus, and become a fully embodied and incarnate deity whose home plane is the Realms.

Her efforts have had dividends. Her competitors in the Nine Hells have placed agents here in response to her machinations. They do not have a unified response, however.
The first faction is led by the Pit Fiend Bel. Once a ruler of Avernus, though primarily as a proxy for the Archduke, he never managed to consolidate his power. He wants Tiamat to stay in the Nine Hells, both to deny her resources, and to give him a chance to claim her power for himself. To that end, he has sent Lord Volmer to aid the party and the Alliance.

The next faction is led by the Archdevil Zariel, Duchess of Avernus. Having defeated both Bel and Tiamat, Zariel intends to keep her supremacy. Having Tiamat absent from Avernus gives Zariel time to root out Tiamat's agents and places of power in Avernus unopposed. More, she's convinced that Tiamat's retreat will reduce the dragon's power even more. To help achieve those goals, she has sent one of her best agents, the succubus Merisal to work against the efforts of the party and the Alliance.

The Archdevil Asmodeus, Archduke of the Nine Hells, however, knows the potential of Tiamat's maneuvers. In fact, the goal he suspects she is trying to achieve (and which is her goal in reality) is one of the reasons why the deities and other planar powers have negotiated the Prime Material Plane as a neutral no-man's land. His best outcome is achieved by not just stopping Tiamat, but punishing her for breaking the Treaty before any other planar powers notice. He also wants to prevent the other devils from gaining the same knowledge, so he is using two of his more covert agents to achieve his goals. Lord Volmer and Merisel are ultimately agents for the Archduke, despite their ostensible loyalty to Duchess Zariel and Lord Bel.
Merisel's schemes are a little less subtle than they could be, and the "allies" she pits against her opponents are over-geared, intending to increase her opponent's effectiveness against Tiamat. Lord Volmer's schemes are more straightforward; he directly grants the party favors and information to overcome Tiamat. In both cases, the agent's schemes are designed to corrupt or weaken the forces of good as well.

Lord Volmer's Schemes
* Devilish Demands
* Reading Is Good For You
* The Wyrm's Wyrd

Merisal's Schemes
* Death at the Council
* Mole or Double Agent?
* The Wyrm's Wyrd
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
About to start RoT and after reviewing the adventure, I'm really unimpressed with the Thay chapter. They're asking for a lot of improvisation here it seems. Would Dead in Thay be a useful source for some additional material?
 
The Devilish Influences - Lord Volmer's Schemes

[h1]Devilish Demands[/h1]
Shortly before the Alliance calls the First Council, but after the characters have arrived in Waterdeep, they are approached by someone who is obviously a noble's servant.
Daethun said:
I am Daethun, servant of Lord Volmer, Baron of the Dauntless Hills. He has heard stories of your prowess, and wishes to speak to you about the troubles threatening the North. If you agree, he would welcome you to a dinner at the Elfstone Tavern, at a time of your choosing.
If the characters push for more information,
Daethun said:
I know only that my Lord believes that he can aid you in your efforts. He has not told me how.
Daethun, in actuality is a Cult Fanatic, but is attached not to the Cult of the Dragon, but to a minor devil-worshiping cult. Lord Volmer is a Bone Devil in service to the Pit Fiend Bel, who once ruled the First Layer of the Nine Hells, Avernus. The Dauntless Hills are a region of Avernus, though knowing this is a DC 30 Arcana check. Determining that there is no region known as the Dauntless Hills on Faerun is a DC 20 Intelligence check. Characters with proficiency in Cartographer's Tools receive advantage on this check, as well as their proficiency bonus.

If the characters do not agree, Daethun will meet with the characters again on a following day. This time, he is able to inform them that his Lord has information about the Cult's power structure and the location of key items for the Cult's purpose.

If the characters still do not agree, Daethun presents them with a Runestick of Heal as a gift, and implores them to meet with his employer.

[h3]Runestick of Heal[/h3]
[sblock]
A runestick is a special one-use item, that essentially serve as scrolls that anyone can activate. They are typically made of varying materials, usually durable and costly. The cost and durability of the material usually increase with the level of the spell. Once used, the runestick disintegrates.

Runesticks are generally valued as 3 times the worth of an equivalent scroll, and a category rarer.

This particular runestick contains a 100 point Heal (as per the spell), and appears to be granite stick with a spiral vein of quartz running its length.
[/sblock]

If after, three tries, the characters decline Lord Volmer's invitation, proceed with the main adventure. The follow-on interlude of "Reading Is Good For You" will not be available, and the interlude of "The Wyrm's Wyrd" will not feature Lord Volmer's forces.

[h2]Dinner with Lord Volmer[/h2]
Daethun leads the characters to the Elfstone Tavern, where he accompanies them as they are lead by the host to an opulent private dining room.

Daethun leads you to a three-story tall-building whose corners appear to be anchored by massive oak trees that tower above the roof. It's sign is a pane of clear blue glass in the shape of a oval gemstone. Blue dancing lights orbit about and through the glass. You can see the leafy tops and trunks of other trees over the roof.

As you enter the inn, you are struck by the earthy smell of an old forest. The interior is dimly lit by silver-flamed torches along the walls and in chandeliers hanging from the branches of trees that are growing up through the center of the tap room. You are greeted by an elven lady who introduces herself as Yaereene, of House Ilbaereth. She leads you up some stairs to the top floor and a pair of large doors with two large half-elves standing guard to either side. After Deathun introduces you as Lord Volmer's guests, the guards open the doors, and Lady Yaereene leaves you.

The largest half-elf you have ever seen rises from his seat as you enter the room. He must easily stand 9 feet tall. Behind him, are two more half-elf guards, with a large, white, hooked polearm leaning against the wall between them. You are vaugely aware of a pair of elven serving maids as the giant elf approaches you.
Lord Volmer said:
Greetings! I am Volmer, Baron of the Dauntless Hills. I am glad to meet the Heroes of Greenrest. Hopefully, we can aid each other against the forces arrayed against the North. But first, dinner!
Lord Volmer will push off any talk of business until after the meal, though he will happily make small talk and answer innocuous questions.

  • Why are you so big? It is the result of a spell a fiend cast upon me. Though it does cause me some pain, it is better than many of the curses I have heard inflicted on other less fortunate souls, and I fear what might occur if it was removed. So I leave it be.
  • What is the polearm made of? Bone harvested from a fiendish predator that plagued the Dauntless Hills.
  • Where did you get the polearm? From the hands of the bone devil who cast this spell on me.
  • Where are the Dauntless Hills? Far, far, from here. I have traveled a journey that cannot be measured in miles, days, weeks, or months to be here, so I can aid the fight against the Hell-dragon. But let us save talk of that unsavory task until after we have finished this wonderful dinner. Would you like some more of this elverquisst?
  • Why do you register as a fiend? I suspect the fiendish energies involved in this spell cast upon me.
  • Who is the Hell-dragon? I do not like to use her name, as it attacts her attention. Here, I believe you know her as the Queen of Dragons. She has also been called the Five-Headed Dragon, the Chromatic Mother, Takhesis, and Tiamat.

Lord Volmer has mastered the art of telling lies with truth, so trying to discern any lies in his responses is much harder than normal (Insight DC 17 at disadvantage). After dinner has concluded, Lord Volmer will begin to actually discuss business.

Lord Volmer said:
Let me more formally introduce myself - I am Lord Volmer, Baron of the Dauntless Hills, Warden of the Northwestern Pass, and vassal to the Lord Bel D'avern. I have traveled here, far from my homeland, on behalf of my lord, to aid you and your allies in your struggle against the Hell-dragon and dupes and minions. Unhappily, my homeland is distant enough that there is little direct material aid I can provide, and my delegation is small enough that I fear attracting the attention of the Hell-dragon's forces. Thus I am reduced, against my desires, to only providing aid covertly. First and foremost, what I can provide is information. How much do you know of the Hell-dragon?
Lord Volmer is probing to see if the characters know Tiamat's basic history (A DC 15 Arcana or Religion check that can only be made by characters with proficiency in those skills.) If they cannot, he provides it to them. They might also suspect (Arcana DC 22, proficient only) that Lord Bel D'Avern is the Pit Fiend Bel, a Lord of Avernus.

Lord Volmer said:
From her domain in the First Hell, Tiamat, strives against the Duchess Zariel, the ruler of the First Hell appointed by the Archduke Asmodeus, and the Pit Fiend Lord who overthrew Tiamat when the Archduke found her incompetent. Zariel works to see the Hell-dragon gone, so she may consolidate her power. The Pit Fiend Lord seeks to prevent the Hell-dragon from escaping his watch and power. The Helldragon must defend herself and her plans from these as well as you and your allies, diverting her attention from those small details that could fully ensure her victory.

For instance, this is not the first time she has tried to invade the Prime Material plane. My homeland suffered the last time she tried, so I seek to ensure her failure now, as she failed then. The details of her last attempt can be found in a tome known as "The Avatar's Tools: A History of Relics and Artifacts", and while normally I am sure she'd work to remove these works into her hoard, I am also sure that her attention has been diverted enough to forget this small detail.

I am here in Waterdeep as its status as a trading and magical metropolis makes it an ideal place to discover leads on obscure lore. It is also an ideal place for my secondary mission - expanding what little trade there is between my homeland and your land.

To that end, I need your help. I came prepared with a number of gifts and valuables for trade. However, our information about Waterdeep was a little outdated and a number of our more expensive trade items are less valuable than we thought. However, I know of an obscure trove in the upper levels of Hallister's Maze that has not yet been plundered and is reputed to have some very worthwhile replacements. Would you be willing to retrieve those items for me, in exchange for the items they will replace?
[h2]Refusing Lord Volmer's Offer[/h2]
If the player's refuse Volmer's offer, he lets them go peacefully. Other adventurers will be glad to raid the hoard for him. He will not, however, involve the characters again. The follow-on interlude of "Reading Is Good For You" will not be available, and the interlude of "The Wyrm's Wyrd" will not feature Lord Volmer's forces.

[h2]Attacking Lord Volmer[/h2]
Through any number of means, the characters may discover both that Lord Volmer is a bone devil, and decide to attack him. While he doesn't fear death, as he knows he will reform at full strength in the Nine Hells upon his demise, Lord Volmer and his cultist allies will retaliate.

[h3]Enc: Lord Volmer's Delegation[/h3]
[sblock]
  • Lord Volmer, a Bone Devil Wizard (Enchanter) 11, CR 11
  • Daethun, a Cult Fanatic
  • 2 Cultists
  • 4 Veterans
[/sblock]

[h2]Accepting Lord Volmer's Offer[/h2]
The trove Volmer is revealing is a real one. It is also one that the Celestials were intending for a later use. It is a relatively minor cache, and Lord Volmer intends to distribute the items to good-aligned people, so none of the normal celestial responses will be triggered. It will, however, deprive the intended users of easily accessed resources. It also establishes Lord Volmer as a reliable source of information for the greedy adventurers that might seek him out.

Getting to the trove will be easy for the characters. The high levels of Undermountain have been cleared enough that there are few monsters left, and the ones that are are wise enough to leave adventures of the characters' level alone.

Without Lord Volmer's instructions, finding the trove would be impossible. As it is, the characters can locate the trove, but Lord Volmer is careful to inform them that he does not know how it is defended, beyond "probably very well". He also tells them that there is a particular gemstone, art object, and magic item he is interested in, and that he must have.
The Outer Door to the trove is trapped. Lord Volmer doesn't know this, or how to open it. The door is set in a 5 feet wide, 5 feet deep, and 10 feet high alcove.

[h3]Trap: Outer Trove Door[/h3]
[sblock]
Medium, Trap (Mechanical), unaligned
AC 17; HP: 50; Speed 0 ft.
Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha: 10 (+0)
Saving Throws: None
Damage Resistances: Bludgeoning, Slashing, Piercing
Damage Immunities: Fire, Cold, Lightning, Thunder, Necrotic, Radiant, Poison, Psychic
CR: 3 (700 xp)

Detection: This door is guarded by a well-crafted trap. With a DC 18 Investigation check (or a DC 22 Perception check), a character may noticed the slightly miscolored line of plaster covering the thin, blade-wide gap that separates the door from the corridor. Or perhaps the fact that the irregular flagstones in the floor form an actual single piece. Or may be that the cracks in the wall actually form a straight line, despite their apparent meanderings.

Disabling: Disabling the trap is exceedingly difficult. If the characters had the key, they could stand on the pressure-plate and open the door safely. But they don't, and without a great deal of work, it's impossible to avoid the pressure plate. Using skills to figure this some method to do this is a DC 15 check for any appropriate skill, followed by another DC 15 ability check to employ the method. Opening the door takes a DC 18 Dexterity check with Thieves' Tools. Failure triggers the trap. This trap can be triggered repeatedly. Failing by more than 10 raises the DC of the check to open the door by one for each such failure.

REACTIONS
Trap triggers with someone standing on the pressure plate: Melee Weapon Attack. +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 24 slashing damage. If the trap rolls a 20 on the attack roll, the target takes an extra 6d6 slashing damage. Roll another d20. If the trap rolls another 20, the target loses their hand above the wrist.

Trap triggers without someone standing on the pressure plate: Melee Weapon Attack. +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 4d6 slashing damage.
[/sblock]
[h4]Designer's Notes[/h4]
[sblock]
Why write up a trap as an actual monster? In this case, the traps are the primary opposition of the characters, not just incidental obstacles draining resources and time from the characters on their way to a larger goal. It is also easier to incorporate the trap into a virtual table top, like Fantasy Grounds or Roll20.

Estimating CR is trickier. Since traps are generally passive , and generally one shot, a good rule of thumb is to take the offensive CR established by the DMG's Quick Monster Stats chart and divide it by 2, ignoring the trap's AC and HP.
[/sblock]

The outer door emerges into a room with three doors and a riddle.
The past is closed, the future hidden, the end unforgiving and merciless. When the three are open, the seeker's sign shall find the way.
The leftmost door is made of finely crafted wood, reinforced with iron bars. The center door is made of marble, carved to show a mountain lake. The right door is made of polished, untarnished, featureless bronze. All three doors have obvious key holes. The expected heroes would have keys, the characters will have to pick the locks. All three doors are also trapped.

[h3]Traps: Inner Trove Doors[/h3]
[sblock]
The doors stats are listed as Left/Center/Right where they differ.

Medium, Trap (Mechanical, Magical), unaligned
AC 15/17/19; HP: 40; Speed 0 ft.
Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha: 10 (+0)
Saving Throws: None
Damage Vulnerabilities: Fire/Thunder/Lightning
Damage Resistances: Bludgeoning, Slashing, Lightning, Thunder/Bludgeoning, Slashing, Piercing, Fire, Cold/Bludgeoning, Slashing, Piercing, Fire, Cold
Damage Immunities: Piercing, Cold, Necrotic, Radiant, Poison, Psychic/Lightning, Psychic, Necrotic, Radiant, Poison/Thunder, Psychic, Necrotic, Radiant, Poison
CR: 5 (1800 xp)

Detection: Observant characters can spot the strange bits of inlaid ironwood/stone/bronze right in front of the door, right in line with where the door's locking bars would be if the door was swung open. Investigation DC 13, Perception DC 16. Any one with Arcana may recognize the inlays as ancient dialect of Netherese (DC 17). If they have the Netheril language, they can read them as a folk invocation of protection.

Disabling: The keyhole is the disarming mechanism for the trap; if the key is inserted, turned to unlock the door, then pressed in farther and turned the other way, the locking bars fully retract into the door. Otherwise, they protrude just enough to contact those inlays. Unlocking the door is a DC 16 Dexterity check with Thieves' Tools. Disarming the trap can be done with the same roll, but requires a DC 21 check. Characters who unlock the door, but fail to disarm the trap may make a DC 13 Perception check to determine the locking bars have not fully retracted. Anyone watching the locking bars spots this automatically. The lock can be attempted more than once, and if the characters have successfully disarmed any of the other Inner Trove Doors, they make the disarm attempt at advantage. Opening the door without disarming the trap triggers the trap. So does rolling a 10 or less on the attempt to disarm the trap.

ACTIONS
Trap
The trap exhales fire/sound/small web of electrical bolts in a 20-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 16 Dexterity/Constitution/Dexterity saving throw, taking 55 (10d10) fire/thunder/Lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

REACTIONS
Rearm
The trap rearms once the door is closed. Once the trap is disarmed all subsequent attempts to disarm it have advantage.
[/sblock]

Each door opens into a hallway. Each hallway is lined with wood panels along the walls, floors, and ceiling. Starting and stopping 5 feet from each end of the hallway are intricate carvings, depicting scenese from various scriptures, myths, and legends. Each hallway ends in another door. That door cannot be opened while the other door is open, is made identically, and is nothing more than an unavoidable trap.

[h3]Traps: Trove Hallway Doors[/h3]
[sblock]
The doors stats are listed as Left/Center/Right where they differ.

Medium, Trap (Mechanical, Magical), unaligned
AC 15/17/19; HP: 80; Speed 0 ft.
Str, Dex, Con, Int, Wis, Cha: 10 (+0)
Saving Throws: None
Damage Vulnerabilities: Fire/Thunder/Lightning
Damage Resistances: Bludgeoning, Slashing, Lightning, Thunder/Bludgeoning, Slashing, Piercing, Fire, Cold/Bludgeoning, Slashing, Piercing, Fire, Cold
Damage Immunities: Piercing, Cold, Necrotic, Radiant, Poison, Psychic/Lightning, Psychic, Necrotic, Radiant, Poison/Thunder, Psychic, Necrotic, Radiant, Poison
CR: 10 (5900 xp)

Detection: Observant characters can spot the strange bits of inlaid ironwood/stone/bronze right in front of the door, right in line with where the door's locking bars would be if the door was swung open. Investigation DC 13, Perception DC 16. Any one with Arcana may recognize the inlays as ancient dialect of Netherese (DC 17). If they have the Netheril language, they can read them as a folk invocation of protection. A Perception check DC 13, or any ability to detect magic reveals that the inlays glow with a blend of arcane and holy power.

Disabling: The trap cannot be disabled, though it seems to respond to the same techniques as the inner doors.

ACTIONS
Trap (Recharge 4-6)
The hallway fills with holy fire/noise/lightning. Each creature in the hallway must make a DC 17 Dexterity/Constitution/Dexterity saving throw, taking 55 (10d10) fire/thunder/lightning damage plus 55 (10d10) radiant damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. Fiends and undead receive double damage.

REACTIONS
Extinguished/Silenced/Grounded
The trap immediately stops making attacks if the door is closed, the Left/Center/Right Inner Trove Door is closed, and there are no creatures in the hallway. If not all of those conditions hold true, after one minute the Left/Center/Right Inner Trove Door closes, then after another minute, this door closes, then after one more minute, the attacks stop. At that point the trap resets.
[/sblock]

The actual entrance to the trove is hidden in the first five feet of the hallway. An Investigation check (DC 23) will reveal that there is a square patch of slightly miscolored wood on the right wall of each hallway. Knocking three times on each of these panels will cause the first five feet of the left walls to sink into the floor, revealing a short passage that leads to the trove itself.

Determine the contents of the trove by rolling once on the Treasure Hoard table equal to the party's level, then rolling once each on the 5000 gp Gemstone, 7500 gp Art Objects, and Magic Item Table I. The last three are the items Lord Volmer cares about.

Lord Volmer is will to give all the coins and other gems to the party. He will negotiate for any art object worth at least 2500 gp, and for any rare or better magic item. He is will to trade the art objects for an equivalent value of gems and art objects worth 750 gp or less. As for magic items, he'll trade the players for the few he has. Of course, you should ensure that at least one of these items is a character's dream item.

That dream item should have two Minor Properties - Wicked and one random one (reroll any 3, 18, and 20). Any quirks it has should be slightly warped, to reflect Lord Volmer's intended corrupting influence. So a Confident item would make the user Overconfident, a Repulsive item makes the wearer want to clean themselves, a Hungry item's blood must be given unwillingly, etc.

[h2]Outcome[/h2]
In addition to the rewards listed above, Lord Volmer will extend his aid to the players whenever asked, usually for trivial favors in return. He will try to keep his infernal nature concealed, acting only as a man of wealth and taste, at least until they are too far in debt to him to break free. By his preference, Lord Volmer will act as an arranger, networking contact, and information broker, rather than offer concrete aid. Concrete aid will need a task or quest to be completed, such as Reading is Good for You. Wise and insightful characters that manage to discover his infernal nature and his acutal allegiances should worry about being in debt to one of the Archdevil Asmodeus' personal agents.

[h1]Reading Is Good For You[/h1]
This is a classic item-fetch quest. The players must retrieve a key and map; in return, Lord Volmer will give them each one ability boosting book of their choice. In this case, the map and key are located in a temple filled with xenophobic elementalist monks, who are also in service to an obscure good god.

This is intended to be run as a sequel to Devilish Demands, and may occur either during the Rise of Tiamat itself, or as a transition to any post-ritual/cult invasion activities by the party.

[h1]The Wyrm's Wyrd[/h1]
Lord Volmer sends the characters after The Wyrm's Wyrd, the original dragon-slaying sword. It is an artifact. It is also stored in a vault protected from infernal influences (along with a number of other items and weapons). Breaking into the vault using Volmer's aid will break that protection; and breaking in without his aid will severely weaken it.

This is intended to be run as the finale to "Devilish Demands" and "Reading Is Good For You", as well as "Death at the Council" and "Mole or Double Agent?"
 

pukunui

Adventurer
About to start RoT and after reviewing the adventure, I'm really unimpressed with the Thay chapter. They're asking for a lot of improvisation here it seems. Would Dead in Thay be a useful source for some additional material?
Probably not. It's a big multi-party killer dungeon. What plot there is involves trying to stop Szass Tam from draining a bunch of captured Chosen in order to attain godhood.

I suppose if you wanted to have the Thayans "test" the PCs, you could have them get thrown into a part of the dungeon or something.
 
Yes, lots of improvisation, especially with regards to the dream sequences. Keep in mind though, that Mission to Thay is supposed to be the last mission before the assault itself - it's one of the reasons its so short, to pick up the pace as the characters get nearer the climax. If you want to extend it, or think it likely, I'd move it to some point earlier in the story.

As to Dead in Thay, I can't speak to it directly, but I've gathered from other comments that the adventure itself is intended for much less experienced characters than the party is likely to be.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Probably not. It's a big multi-party killer dungeon. What plot there is involves trying to stop Szass Tam from draining a bunch of captured Chosen in order to attain godhood.

I suppose if you wanted to have the Thayans "test" the PCs, you could have them get thrown into a part of the dungeon or something.
Yeah the reviews are not good. I did find this on DMsGuild: http://www.dmsguild.com/product/191053/The-Citadel-at-Thaymount

basically it would be nice to have some map of the city so that I can at least have something to work from.

Edit: Reading more closely I see they're teleported to a keep. I've found something that will suffice for my imagining : dungeons_and_dragons_map_by_firstedition-d30s9lu.jpg
 
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The Devilish Influences - Merisal's Schemes

[h1]Death at the Council[/h1]
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.

[h2]Merisal's Cover[/h2]
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 and Captain of the Waterdeep Guard, 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.

[h3]Merisal's Dupes[/h3]
[sblock]
  • Badtholem, a Commoner
  • Dark Doug, an Assassin
  • Delliana Silvermist, a Noble
  • Garalt, a Knight
  • Hirst, a Guard
  • Lord Athil du Hornkest, a Noble
  • Meliranna, a Doppleganger
  • Vestilia, a Commoner
  • Yvenne, a Commoner
    [/sblock]

    [h2]A Herring's Spy[/h2]
    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.

    [h3]Quest: An Unpickled Herring[/h3]
    [sblock]
    Quest Reward: 2500 XP.

    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 the listed XP, and increase the character's reputation with the Emerald Enclave by 1.
    [/sblock]
    [h3]Quest: A Line Unwound[/h3]
    [sblock]
    Quest Reward: 3900 XP

    If the characters fully investigate this line AND they conclude or suspect that none of Delliana, Yvenne, or Vestilia are Merisal's disguise award the XP listed above.

    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.
    [/sblock]

    [h2]A Smoked Herring[/h2]
    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.

    [h3]Quest: An Unsmoked Herring[/h3]
    [sblock]
    Quest Reward: 700 XP.

    If the characters prove Melirana's innocence, or recruit her as a spy, award the XP as above.

    Also, increase the character's reputation with Lord Neverember by 1.
    [/sblock]

    [h2]Just a Hint of Herring[/h2]
    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.

    [h2]Not a Herring[/h2]
    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 said:
    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 said:
    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 indict 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.

    [h2]Catching a Fish[/h2]
    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.

    [h3]Mersial herself[/h3]
    [sblock]
    Merisal, a Succubus Bard 14, CR 7

    Merisal has laced her clothing with thread made on Celestia, and wears a perfume made from celestial flowers. Together, this prevents her from registering as a fiend as long as she is shapechanged. She does not register as a celestial, just not a fiend.

    [/sblock]


    [h2]Outcome[/h2]
    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.

    [h1]Mole or Double Agent?[/h1]
    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", during the Rise of Tiamat.

    [h1]The Wyrm's Wyrd[/h1]
    If she can, Merisal will try to fool the party into performing the assualt on the Vault of Fate (where the Wyrm's Wyrd is stored). If she can't set this up herself, she'll "betray" Lord Volmer's efforts. The two agents do know of each other, and will work together.

    If the party is not allied with Volmer, she'll tell the party that one of Asmodeus' own agents has arranged for the Vault of Fate to be assaulted, and that the Vault's protections must not, for the Good of All, be broken by the forces of Evil. She'll give the party a magic item intended to enhance the Vault's protections which should prevent Volmer's assault (or any other such efforts) from succeeding. The item will do exactly that - as long as no-one uses a special mystical key to deactivate it, collapsing the wards. Merisal doesn't have the key, nor does she know where it is or how to use it. If the party is allied with Volmer, she'll try to get them to distrust him deeply enough to install the Ward Enhancer.

    If she has to work on her own, as the party is opposed to Volmer, she'll try to get the party to believe that the Ward Enhancer was stolen from the Vault's defenses, and needs to be returned.

    She's willing to go to great length's to get the party to do what she needs, including letting them capture her, and "revealing" her plans. She's not worried about dying, she knows she'll reform back in her home.
 

jayoungr

Explorer
Something I've just noticed: Rezmir is the only wyrmspeaker whose body is destroyed after dying. I wonder why that is. Something unique to her, or something they changed between the two parts?
Could be a half-dragon thing, I suppose. But I also wonder if it was an artifact from an earlier draft, since Rise of Tiamat suggests she could be rezzed in between adventures and reappear later.
 

pukunui

Adventurer
But I also wonder if it was an artifact from an earlier draft, since Rise of Tiamat suggests she could be rezzed in between adventures and reappear later.
Yeah, that's what got me wondering about it. That, and the fact that the text says nothing about Varram immolating if he gets killed ... but then he hasn't even got a statblock, so ...

Anyway, I've asked Steve Winter. I'll post here if he responds.
 
I've got bad news all. Not terribly bad, but I apparently did not write down *all* of the revisions.

I've got the Ritual Guards, and the half-dragon devils.

I did not write down the "statue" version. (Sorry Jay.) So I'll have to reconstruct some things. However, I still remember the basics so it shouldn't take too long. Instead of incorporating the revisions into the old post, I'll repost a complete update separately.
 
Battling Tiamat - Objectives

The characters are an integral, even pivotal, part of a large Alliance of forces. To succeed at preventing Tiamat's Return, the Alliance needs to succeed at a number of objectives - the players, acting as the Alliance Lords may assign those forces to one of more of the objectives, and depending at how effective the character's efforts were on behalf of the forces, those forces may be more effective at completing those objectives. Objectives being attempted by forces other than the characters themselves are "background" objectives. Characters should only perceive how the background tasks are going by second-hand reports or movie-style cutscenes.

[h1]The Results of Superior Morale[/h1]
Using the Council Scorecard for your campaign, calculate the expected maximum expected results for each faction. Then compare the actual results to the following table:
HarpersOrder of the GauntletEmerald EnclaveLady Laeral SilverhandLord Dagult NeveremberAmbassador Connerad BrawnanvilKing MelandrachMarshall Ulder RavengardTaern HornbladeSir IstevalCONDITIONEFFECT
< 5< 7< 5< 7< 5< 7< 6< 7< 6< 6Minimal SupportFailure of assigned Objective, or alternatively disadvantage on the attempt's check.
>= 5>= 7>= 5>= 7>= 5>= 7>= 6>= 7>= 6>= 6Full SupportCan attempt Objective at normal chances.
>= 8>= 11>= 8>= 11>= 8>= 11>= 9>= 11>= 9>= 9Superior Support (1.5x full, round up)Advantage on assigned Objective
>= 10>= 14>= 10>= 14>= 10>= 14>= 12>= 14>= 12>= 12Inspired Support (2x full, round up)Advantage at +3 to assigned Objective
MaxMaxMaxMaxMaxMaxMaxMaxMaxMaxMaximum (Fanatical) Support+2 to rolls of a specific type (Faction Dependent)
All Strength, Intelligence, and Charisma saving throwsDamageAll ability checksAll Wisdom saving throwsThe save DC for 10 chosen spellsPer die to all healing rollsAll Dexterity saving throwsAll non-spell attack rolls.All spell attack rollsAll Constitution saving throwsFaction Benefit

[h1]Objective: Destroying the Draakhorn[/h1]
One of the primary objectives of the assault at the Well of Dragons must be to capture and silence the Draakhorn. While destroying the Draakhorn will not interrupt the ritual, it does strengthen the chromatic dragons and weaken the good ones.

The characters may choose to take on this mission, or one of the other strike teams may. If one of the other teams takes on this task, the background resolution is a DC 20 Consititution saving throw.

If the task is failed, the good dragons fight at disadvantage, while the evil dragons fight at advantage, and the DC for all draconic frightful presence has increased by 4.

Success at this task means that all dragons fight normally, and all the DCs for draconic frightful presence are reduced by 2. Success is acheived if the air elemental blowing the Draakhorn is killed or banished, and the Draakhorn is prevented from sounding again, either with a permanent guard or somehow silencing the horn.
While the Draakhorn is an artifact, and will repair itself over time, it can be damaged long enough to make a difference for this battle.

[h3]Draakhorn:[/h3]
[sblock]
AC 21, HP 100; Immune to nonmagical weapons, vulnerable to magical piercing and thunder damage. The horn can be destroyed by reducing it to exactly 9 hit points, then while standing in front of it while it is being blown, do more than 50 hit points of thunder damage to the interior of the horn. It heals 1 hit point of damage per day.
[/sblock]

[h1]Objective: Against the Legions[/h1]
The Cult of the Dragon has prepared a massive legion to aid Tiamat in conquering the world once she arrives. Dealing with this force is the primary responsibility of the forces raised by the Alliance, aided by the Giants if the negotiations were successful.

The characters are unlikely to be responsible foar the success of this objective, as the effort is just on too large a scale for them to be effective. As a background task, a successful resolution requires a DC 20 Strength saving throw.

Success frees more of the Giants to assist in "Assaulting the Temple", lowering the required DC by 3.

Failure means in takes longer to break through the cult's lines, allowing the cult to sacrifice more of the commoners. The number of remaining commoners in the chapels' ritual circles is reduced to 60-2d10, and the ritual lines hit points are increased to (40+2d10)x10+(10/commoner sacrificed).

[h1]Objective: Against the Dragons[/h1]
The Cult of the Dragon has used the Draakhorn to call a large number of chromatic dragons to aid in, and witness, Tiamat's arrival. Most of these dragons are young or have just entered adulthood, but there are a few older (and even ancient) dragons as well. This is the reason the alliance with the metallic dragons is so neccessary. The metallic dragons will insist on leading the effort to secure this objective. If the metallic dragons did not join the Alliance, this objective will fail.

A successful resolution as a background task requires the metallic dragons to aid the Alliance, as well as a successful DC 20 Dexterity saving throw.

If successful, the Alliance has control of the skies, and a strike team can try to enter the temple through the spires or roof.

If the effort is a failure, some of the chromatic dragons are able to break free of the aerial combat and reinforce the Temple. In this case, the DC needed in "Assaulting the Temple" is raised by 3.

[h1]Objective: Assaulting the Temple[/h1]
This is the objective that involves a large force penetrating to the Well of Dragons itself, and then assaulting the Temple of Tiamat itself to allow the strike team inside to disrupt the ritual. While the characters are likely to be a part of this force, it is unlikely that they will be the group responsible for the success of this objective.

If the characters have successfully forged an alliance with the Giants, the Giants will volunteer to lead this effort, in addition to supporting the Alliance forces against the Cult's Legions. The primary opposition to the assault are the dragons conducting the sacrifices, plus the few chromatic dragons that can break away from the aerial combat in the skies above.

As a background task, a successful resolution requires three of the opposing dragons from the chapel to fail on a Strength saving throw with a DC equal to the character's average level + 3.
If fewer than three dragons fail their save, there is no effect on the ritual or weakening of Tiamat. If three or four dragons fail their save, Tiamat suffers a Critical weakening, as the flow of sacrifices is disrupted. If all five of the dragons fail their save, the ritual suffers 2 Critical Weakenings.

If at least one of the opposing dragons fails its Strength saving throw, the force assigned to Breaking the Ritual (most likely the Characters) is able to safely enter the Temple itself.

If none of the opposing dragons fail its Strength saving throw, the force assigned to the Breaking the Ritual must figure out how to enter the Temple when all the entrances are not just guarded, but fully occupied by a fully alert dragon conducting sacrifices. If the Breaking the Ritual objective is being conducted in the background, the assigned forces are at -3 on their attempt.

[h1]Objective: Breaking the Ritual[/h1]
[h2]What the Characters Know About the Ritual[/h2]
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.

[h3]Calling Forth the Temple[/h3]
[sblock]
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.
[/sblock]

[h3]Summoning Tiamat[/h3]
[sblock]
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 participant 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.
[/sblock]

[h2]Vulnerabilities in the Ritual[/h2]
[h3]Calling Forth The Temple[/h3]
[sblock]
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 also take a half as many d6's of additional necrotic damage. (E.g. if interrupted at minute 7, any good-aligned characters within the area would take 12d6 radiant + 6d6 necrotic damage.)
[/sblock]

[h3]Summoning Tiamat[/h3]
[sblock]
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:
  1. (Cleric of Bahamut) Cast Dispel Evil and Good on the Mask
  2. (Gold Dragon) Deal 70 points of fire damage in one action
  3. (Silver Dragon) Deal 60 points of cold damage in one action
  4. (Bronze Dragon) Deal 70 points of lightning damage in one action
  5. (Copper Dragon) Deal 60 points of acid damage in one action
  6. (Brass Dragon) Deal 50 points of fire damage in one action.
  7. (Cleric of Bahamut) Cast Divine Word on the Mask
  8. (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.
[/sblock]

[h2]As a Background Task[/h2]
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. Failure, of course, allows Tiamat to enter the Forgotten Realms.

[h1]Objective: Stopping Severin the Archmage[/h1]
While it is most likely that the characters will attempt this task themselves, the may assign it to a different group. The most natural fit is one of the other strike teams. As a background task, a successful DC 20 Charisma saving throw is needed to acheive the objective.

If the attempt is successful, the ritual suffers a critical weakening. A failure has no additional effect.

[h1]Preventing the Temple's Arrival[/h1]
If the players have been speedy and efficient, they may have enabled the Alliance to put itself on a war foooting fast enough. to actually begin the assault on the Cult at the Well of Dragons before the cult can begin the ritual to summon Tiamat.

If the characters manage push to Fourth Council meeting to Day 60 (from the First Council), or earlier, the may be able to prevent the temple from being summoned at all. In this case, the only objectives that still matter are:
  • Destroying the Draakhor
  • Against the Legions
  • Against the Dragons
Additionally, award the characters XP as if they had defeated a CR 28 monster.

If the Fourth Council began after Day 60, but before Day 65, the Temple has not yet been fully called onto the material plane (the ritual itself is conducted on day 61). If the Alliance force (or at least the party) arrive at the Well of Dragons on day 61, see Breaking the Ritual for how to interrupt the ritual calling the Temple. The characters will also need to achieve:
  • Assaulting the Temple

Additionally, award the characters XP as if they had defeated a CR 26 monster.

If the Fourth Council is held after Day 65, the characters must deal with the situation as presented. The ultimate penalty, of course, is to arrive after the Summoning Ritual has successfully completed. If you choose to have this penalty in play, be sure to communicate that fact, as well as the time left, to the players without ambiguity, and as early as possible (i.e. no later than the Second Council's mid-mission meeting).

Reason: Forgot an objective.
 
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Battlling Tiamat - Approaching the Well

As the characters and the forces commanded by the factions of the Council of Waterdeep approach the Well of Dragons, they should have no doubt that they are moving deep into enemy territory. The landscape for a hundred miles in all directions is a grim harbinger of what Tiamat's rule would mean for the world.
Little remains in the territory surrounding the Well of Dragons, and the constant drone of the Draakhorn has forced the local animals to flee or driven them mad. A handful of villages in the area are bloodstained ghost towns, and every farmstead is a charred ruin. The few survivors you encounter are headed in the opposite direction, all of them watching the sky for the telltale shape of a dragon on the wing.
Chromatic dragons patrol the area by day and night. You can call for DC 12 Intelligence (Nature) or Wisdom (Survival) checks to determine whether the characters find shelter or camouflage themselves in time to avoid a passing dragon. Alternatively, simply ask what precautions the characters are taking against being spotted and judge for yourself whether that will keep them safe. Sticking to wooded areas, following ravines, spending as little time as possible on open ground, and even dressing as cultists are all useful ploys.

If the characters travel to the Well of Dragons independent of the Alliance forces, the each Alliance faction will be degraded on level of effectiveness, as flights of chromatic dragons will attack the army's column. The same holds true if the characters follow behind the main column.

If the party travels as scouts (or with the main body of the Alliance forces), they will be attacked five times by a flight of chromatic dragons. Each flight may be spotted by a DC 10 Perception check.

Flying to the Well of Dragons is problematic. Whether they're on metallic dragons or flying under their own power, the characters will be attacked by those same flights of chromatic dragons long before they reach their destination.
If the party succeeded in their negotiations with the mettalic dragons, and they wish to fly,
  • if the negotiations were minimally successful (3 friendly, no unfriendly), they will have to fly under their own power.
  • if they managed to end the negotiations with 3 friendly draconic factions, and the remainder neutral or receptive, a young dragon from each friendly faction will volunteer to fly the characters to the Well of Dragons.
  • If they managed to end the negotiations with all the draconic factions friendly to them, one adult bronze dragon, and a young dragon from each of the remaining factions will volunteer.

If the characters manage to drive off 3 flights of chromatic dragons, the attacks will end. To drive off a flight, every dragon in the flight must have been reduced to less than 50% of their hit points, or one-third of the dragons must have been forcibly grounded in some manner.
[h3]Encounter (Flight of Chromatic Dragons)[/h3]
[sblock]
  • 1 Adult Black Dragon
  • 1 Adult White Dragon
  • 2 Young Blue Dragons
  • 2 Young Green Dragons
  • 4 Young Red Dragons
[/sblock]
 
Battling Tiamat - Facing Tiamat

(Doing this a little out-of-order, but the Temple Interior is where all the complex shtuff happens, and it's getting late, so...)

[h1]Facing Tiamat[/h1]
When the forces of good have been deployed and the battle begun, the characters will take on the most important goal of assaulting the Temple of Tiamat. Making their way through the caverns beneath the caldera provides a number of options for reaching the temple.

Whether the characters fight Tiamat directly or prevent the summoning ritual from being completed depends on their actions during the final battle. But when the characters see Tiamat's heads forcing their way through the Red Wizards' portal, they will understand that this is no mere monster they face. As should be clear from her statistics in appendix A,
Tiamat is a god. If she manifests through the portal at full strength, she can demolish multiple 15th-level parties with ease. A huge battle against Tiamat while her temple collapses to ash and bone is a memorable way to wrap up a campaign-but the characters might not survive as anything more than memories.During the battle in the temple, read the following text aloud 2 rounds after the summoning ritual has successful completed.
The magical maelstrom filling the central apse of the temple suddenly splits open with a crack of thunder.The gargantuan heads of five dragons begin to tear and gnash their way out of the rune-lined pit of fire that forms there. Tiamat the Dragon Queen is about to burst bodily from her confinement in the Nine Hells and enter the world.
[h2]Tiamat's Appearance[/h2]
Tiamat's heads enter the battle starting on the second round after the ritual is completed, in the following order: white, black, green, blue, and red. Her red head announces the Dragon Queen's full appearance in the sixth round after the ritual is completed. Until that round, Tiamat can make use only of her bite attacks and breath weapons. This gives the characters a last chance to try to weaken the Dragon Queen before she appears.

Once Tiamat appears in full, she spends as many rounds as necessary to laughingly devour her hapless servants five at a time-Rath Modar, any remaining Red Wizards, then Severin (or his corpse, as long as it is wearing the Mask of the Dragon Queen ). Unless the characters manage to inflict more than 10% of her total health in a single round. The following round, either after she's devoured her servants or the party has proven itself a threat, she turns her wrath on the adventurers.

[h2]Weakening the Dragon Queen[/h2]
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 of weaking event:
  • 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.

Once all the point removals have been calculated, compare the result:
  • 30: Tiamat emerges at full strength, with maximum hit points (900).
  • 29: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 75 (825).
  • 27: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 75 (750).
  • 24: Tiamat's attack and breath weapon damage is reduced by 15.
  • 23: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 75 (675).
  • 21: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 75 (600).
  • 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 50 (550).
  • 12: Tiamat loses Limited Spell Immunity.
  • 11: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 50 (500).
  • 9: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 50 (450).
  • 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 50 (400).
  • 3: Tiamat can take only three legendary actions.
  • 2: Tiamat's maximum hit points are reduced by 50 (350).
  • 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, all with the half-red-dragon template. 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.

If all the above penalties are successfully applied, Tiamat is effectively reduced to a challenge rating 18 foe-but that's still a deadly fight for four 15th-level characters. Without all of the reductions, the characters stand little chance of surviving a battle against the Dragon Queen, much less winning it.

[h2]Banishing Tiamat[/h2]
If the characters reduce Tiamat to 0 hit points, her Discorporation trait kicks in. The portal collapses as the shrieking Dragon Queen disintegrates and is dragged back to Avernus. She will remain trapped there until someone else can recreate the conditions of the ritual and try again to free her.

[h2]Ruthless Play and High Stakes[/h2]
Except as noted above, Tiamat should not be arbitrarily weakened in the interest of a fair fight. Presenting the Dragon Queen as anything less than a deity undercuts the whole adventure. Characters who tangle with Tiamat must know that they are in the fight of their lives.No individual's survival matters against the goal of stopping the Dragon Queen's return, and heroes sometimes die for the greater good. Certainly, fallen characters can be raised again if Tiamat is defeated. And if she's not defeated, dying might not be the worst option.
 

jayoungr

Explorer
Yeah the reviews are not good.
Taken on its own as a dungeon, and ignoring the surrounding text, Dead in Thay is great. But it would take a bit of work to level it up to where your PCs will likely be by the time they are ready for the mission to Thay. (I'm thinking of reworking it as a high-level thing for later in the campaign too, post-RoT.)
 

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