D&D 5E Enhancing "Storm King's Thunder"

Motorskills

Explorer

This was all negotiation, it went very well, very tense. The party were very clear that they had to bring an end to the unfolding Giant - Smallkin war. The PCs know the sisters, Mirran and Nym, are bad, but also know they can't kill them, ideally not even attack them. they also know that bringing up Iymrith's true nature too early could backfire on them.

Inside the Throne Room are Serissa and her two most trusted advisors, her uncle Uthor and Omen-Reader Iymrith. (The sisters don't know she is a dragon, they don't even think she is bad, just the tough advisor that is needed in these dire times. If their parents cannot do the job, someone needs to step up, etc.)


In the anteroom are the representatives of all the Giant clans, backgrounds and motivations modified heavily for my needs.

It is decided a vote of the Clans is required as to whether the Smalkin can be allowed to speak to Regent Serissa. The exception are the Hill Giants, who everyone agrees are too stupid to be allowed to discuss important matters, and who have been relegated to guarding the Throne Room.

The Fire Giants are under formal truce with the PCs, following the exchange of Zalto's kids. As proper warriors they respect the agreement, and reluctantly abstain. 0 - 0
The Frost Giants hate the party (especially as they are known to have been stomping around with Harshnag) and vote against. 0 - 1
The Cloud Giants are presented with a letter of commendation from the gardener (Thullen) at Lyn Amaraal - they vote in favour of the party. 1-0
The Stone Giants listen to the case that the party make, that Thane Kayalithica was a religious zealot, whose views didn't reflect the majority of Stone Giants. The PCs do a great job, and the Stone Giants vote to allow the party to speak to the Regent. 2-1
The two sisters, representing the Storm Giants, vote against, havinf listed the very many crimes the party has committed against Giantkind. 2-2

The vote is tied. After a brief discussion, Nym goes to "brief" the Regent, and Mirran sends the party to the Smallkin quarters. Knowing that things are likely to go south, the party manage to convince a guard to bring the Cloud Giants to them. They present the information about Iymrith's true nature, and convince the Cloud Giants.

The Cloud Giants return to the anteroom. The party hear a ruckus upstairs, and decide to make a break for it. Using charm magic they get the guards to take them upstairs. The Cloud Giants are under arrest on Mirran's orders. The Frost Giant launches at the party (Epic version, berserker).

Mirran joins in, but everyone else stays on the sidelines. The PCs capture Mirran, and subdue (eventually!) the Frost Giant.

The party free the Cloud Giants and have them escort the party into the Throne Room. Even the Fire and Stone Giants are intrigued.

There's some back and forth, and then Iymrith lets rip - or at least her simulacrum does.

Order is soon restored.


Serissa places her sisters under guard, shows the party the Golden Goose poker chip, which they immediately recognise.

If the party commit to rescuing her father, killing Iymrith, she will write letters to the Smallkin communities and factions, offering a truce and negotiations. She even throws in the offer of a pardon hearing for Harshang (still alive in my campaign).
 
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Daern

Explorer
It's all coming down to the wire! Are they going to rescue Hekaton before attacking Imryth?
There was a bit of a feeling in my campaign of the blockbuster with one too many epic finales: Court, King, Dragon. Looking back I might have combined the rescue mission with Imryth (had her laired on an island where the prison boat was moored) or something.
 

Motorskills

Explorer
The party, now all L15, teleport to Yartar. One of their patrons is one of the twelve Waterbarons, the mother of Artan from Kraken's Gamble. They also have good relations with Hands of Yartar thieves' guild. With this help, and their previous investigation and interrogation of the Purple Lady, they work out that Lord Drylund is trying to take over the city.

They decide to go diplomatic again(!), which turns out to be the exact correct move. They learn that Hekaton was captured and placed upon a custom-built ship (commissioned by Drylund from a distant shipwright). Iymrith (divination wizardess) provided permanent prevention of scrying, and "a friend of Oosith's" provided prevention from psionics and telepathy etc. Drylund has only contacted the crew once or twice since the kidnap, he teleports to the Purple Islands to do so.

Slarkrethel kills Drylund before he can reveal too much more. but the party now have all the information they need.

They teleport to Neverwinter and present their information to the Factions. Instead of loaning them one of the boats in SKT, I said screw it, and gave them all five. :)

A few days later the assembled fleet heads to Grundbarg, where a straightforward negotiation sees the Jarl explain that the Morkoth has been sighted a couple of times in the past few months, always sailing in the same direction. After a disastrous attempt to pirate the Morkoth, the Jarl has ruled that ship completely off-limits to his people.

The party work out that the Morkoth is doing a slow circle of the Purple Islands. The Jarl is happy enough to send his fleet to kill everyone there, while the party's fleet attempt an interception of the Morkoth.

They know that Oosith is on board, and they have a reasonable readout of the other foes.

Each of my players controls one of the baddie groups, assists me to DM the fight. I used reskinned Yuan-Ti, "Krakenbrood"

Captain Daggerdark - standard MM Archmage (controlled by me)
First Mate Rool - hybrid build: Krakenbrood Mind Whisperer, Warlock of the Great Old One, L10 Rogue Assassin
12 Krakenbrood Pit Masters
4 Kraken Priests
1 Aboleth - Lord Oosith from Kraken's Gamble - they really wanted this guy dead

And le piece de resistance....
1 "Elder Brain Mindwitness", octopus-beholder-aboleth thing which was wrapped around Hekaton - I also managed this thing during the fight, a hybrid of the Elder Brain and Mindwitness both from Volo's. Really nasty. :D
Along with everything else stolen from both monsters, I allowed one Legendary action per player, easier maths for me, nastier for them. I also allowed the AOE Mindblast, when recharged, to be used in the same round as the eyestalk attacks.
Yummy! :D

Hekaton is submerged in a "bath", in which Oosith swims. He's not been there long enough to benefit from Lair actions, but the Elder Brain Mindwitness has.

The party are well aware that they will be detected from distance, they also know they need to be in and out fast - they have worked out that the REAL BBEG is a psionic Kraken. The Bard puts Mindblank on himself, everyone else benefits from Non-Detection (another great move by the party - they were not to know, but this made a big difference in the fight with the Elder Brain Mindwitness)

The battle begins with ranged missile fire between the ships. I handwave that all the Priests and Pit Masters lose half their HP. Daggerdark throws up Globe of Invulnerability and the Elder Brain Mindwitness provides a Wall of Force, so he and Rool are unaffected. This fight is all distraction to allow the party to get on board. The party is relying on their (legal) Conch to teleport them and Hekaton away.

As soon as the battle is underway, the party gets on board, and decimates the mobs with fireballs and annihilate Oosith. I immediately start to think maybe I have badly understatted the battle....

But in reality, it soon becomes apparent that they left too many of the Pit Masters alive, and split too early to tackle the different threats. The Bard and Sorcerer came under melee pressure, the Paladin, Ranger, and Druid really started to struggle against the Elder Brain Mindwitness.

The Ranger gets stunned to death, the Druid and Paladin are downed at different points. The Elder Brain Mindwitness hasn't really taken much damage. They regroup (sans Ranger) and decide to go full throttle for the Elder Brain Mindwitness. This works, allowing them to finally clean up.

An amazing fight, I'm really proud of the rebuilt encounter, and the way my players used the baddies under their control to best effect.

But....

For some reason the party is planning to tow the Morkoth back to Neverwinter (they just love the design LOL), crazy bad decision.

So I paused the game for the day, with Hekaton still chained up, slowly returning to consciousness. The party is low on spell slots, but have recovered hit points.

They will need to deal with Hekaton and then Slarkrethel will arrive if they don't change their mind.....

Good times. :)
 
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Motorskills

Explorer
I have sent out an invite to a couple of former players, who have had to drop out for various logistical reasons, see if they want to join me for the big finale, help me DM. One of my players has built me a cardboard amphitheatre!


That will leave the players free to control their own PCs, plus a pet Storm Giant.

Team Bad Guy will consist of (first draft):
Iymrith - yes this time it is finally her! I've done a lot of research on how to run the fight, best advice seems to be to ignore her HP loss until the time is right for her to retreat underground.
1 traitor Storm Giant, per the book (played by the nicest, quietest, player I have. :D )
2 Mummy Lords, perhaps with some extra bennies
Some undead naga things and/or a toned-down reskinned dracolich
A bunch of undead mobs, TBD, mummies as a default, but a "terracotta army" of skeletons has some appeal. :D
Some giant gargoyles, stats TBD
Swarms of regular gargoyles (going to figure out "swarm rules)

Still mulling it over, ideas welcomed. :)

The party will be at least L16 when they get to Iymrith's lair, ideally L17, so they get to enjoy a taste of the Tier 4 options.
 

Motorskills

Explorer
It's all coming down to the wire! Are they going to rescue Hekaton before attacking Imryth?
There was a bit of a feeling in my campaign of the blockbuster with one too many epic finales: Court, King, Dragon. Looking back I might have combined the rescue mission with Imryth (had her laired on an island where the prison boat was moored) or something.

Yep, that was / is a concern of mine as well, I have ping-ponged hugely on the issue. But I think I got the balance about right.
 

pukunui

Legend
Something that's been bothering me is how Iyrmith doesn't bother to use an alias while masquerading as a storm giant in Maelstrom. If the so-called Doom of the Desert is really as famous as she's made out to be, then surely *someone* in Hekaton's court would've heard of her before. Even if they haven't, once the PCs come on the scene, it's super-obvious ... not just because she's using her own name but also because of her blue dragon-themed headgear. It's almost like she *wants* to get found out!
 


Motorskills

Explorer
Something that's been bothering me is how Iyrmith doesn't bother to use an alias while masquerading as a storm giant in Maelstrom. If the so-called Doom of the Desert is really as famous as she's made out to be, then surely *someone* in Hekaton's court would've heard of her before. Even if they haven't, once the PCs come on the scene, it's super-obvious ... not just because she's using her own name but also because of her blue dragon-themed headgear. It's almost like she *wants* to get found out!

I used the idea that the Big Blue in the Ascore Desert had only ever been called "The Doom" for the past 250+ years. And I sold that from Day One, when showing the players the map.

Only Felogolos would typically call her Iymrith, because he knew her by that name from way back when.

50 -100 years ago Iymrith started to ingratiate herself with Giantkind as an Oracle of exceptional skill. None of the Giants would know the name Iymrith - even if they did, it was just an unfortunate coincidence. It wasn't too long before Iymrith the Seer was promoted to the highest levels of Giantkind.

That helps makes Felogolos even more useful to the party, albeit the Flying Misfortune doesn't realise the importance of the information he takes for granted.


(I played fast and loose with the longevity of Giants and Dragons, seemed to work fine).
 
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pukunui

Legend
That's a neat idea. Going by the book, it would seem that the storm giants of Maelstrom don't pay any attention to the dragons that live up on the surface, but once they find out that Iymrith is a dragon, they discover her story and the location of her lair quite easily.


Anyway, moving on ... my players are still working their way through Scourge of the Sword Coast, but I've begun thinking about how to foreshadow SKT. They got some magic beans in a previous adventure, and there's one left. I'm going to have it sprout a beanstalk when they plant it. The stalk will lead to Zephyros' tower. Just for fun, I'm going to make it so the air cultists are already there, and the PCs arrive just in time for Zephyros to ask them for their opinion on the cultists' proposal. Should be a fun little scene.

Anyway, assuming all goes well, Zephyros will chat with them afterwards and tell them a bit about the Ordning and such. He'll then warn them that "a storm is coming that will shake the earth all the way down to the bottom of the sea" or words to that effect.


In Scourge, my players are headed to Firehammer Hold next. I saw earlier in this thread, someone suggested having the friezes in the Hallway of Dragons depict dwarves fighting Iymrith. I'm going to use that. There are two friezes, though, so I'm going to have the other one depict dwarves fighting Klauth. I'm not sure if I want the friezes to have labels identifying the dragons, but I'd like to at least make them somewhat identifiable.

So for Iymrith's frieze, I'll describe it as being a bunch of dwarves fighting a blue dragon in a ruined city on what used to be the shore of a sea but is now a desert. Perhaps the frieze will be entitled "The Doom of the Desert". If the PCs are interested, they might be able to learn that the scene is set in the ruins of Ascore (I get the impression that the sea disappeared and the dwarves left long before Iymrith showed up in the area, so I figure the frieze depicts a dwarven expedition to the ruins that encountered her).

As for Klauth's frieze, I'm not sure what title to give it, but I'll make it obvious it's him because he'll be a red dragon dual-wielding wands. I might have the dwarves be identifiable as being from Mirabar, and the location can be somewhere in the Spine of the World.
 

Davelozzi

Explorer
Hey all, I haven't posted in this thread in several months because I was doing the Lost Mine of Phandelver lead into Storm King's Thunder that was discussed earlier in the thread and was focused on that. I did use some of the tie in ideas discussed earlier in this thread between the lost mine and the fire giant/drow plot, and in my game Nezznar the Black Spider is the thirdson of the drow House Xorlarrin. Anyhow, the party just finally tracked him down and killed him last session and just have a little bit of mopping up to do with the Forge of Spells before they are done with {i]LMoP[/i] so now I need to start leading them into the giant plot. They found a letter from Nezznar to his matron mother explaining that the Forge of Spells doesn't look like it is going to fit the bill for Duke Zalto's purposes and that they should focus on his brother's mission to find the elemental powering the forge in Gauntlgrym. Only my game is pre-Spellplague and pre-the rediscovery of Gauntlgrym, so at this point my players' plans for tomorrow's session is to wrap things up in Phandelver than head to Neverwinter and research both Gauntlgrum and Duke Zalto.

So things are going pretty good so far. I have very little time to prep tomorrow's session but I am cool with winging it for the most part, however I was thinking of having some sort of giant encounter on the road to Neverwinter to set the stage for what's happening in the North at large. I might do hill giants since they are the lowest ranking/CR giants (my guys are only 4th level) but am debating other options (especially since I see the hill giant thing being mostly focused on the Dessarin Valley and they're pretty far from Graud Haug. I could have sworn that there was an encounter written up somewhere with a single frost giant (or maybe two) on the High Road returning to his ship on the coast with a bag of ill gotten gains, but I can't seem to find it anywhere. Does that ring a bell with anyone?

Anyhow, any comments about any of this are welcome, or thoughts on if I'm heading for a TPK if I break out a frostie, but the main thing I am looking tonight is a point to where the above mention encounter may be written up, if I didn't imagine it. I looked through Storm King's Thunder fairly thoroughly and couldn't find it but I also downloaded A Guide to Storm King's Thunder and some other stuff a while back and wondered if it might have been something from one of those sources? Thanks in advance for any help!
 

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