D&D 5E Holdenshire chronicles - have anyone run it?


First Post
I have a bunch of friends who have never played a pen and paper RPG and they want to give it a try. My 5th edition books arrived last week so this is the right chance to use them.

I want to run Holdenshire chroncles. Have anyone run it? any comments, recommendations, or advice about your experience?


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Well, that was fun
Staff member
I have! If you have any specific questions, I'd be happy to answer them. :)

Though I ran the Pathfinder version, so the specifics of the 5E version I'm not 100% familiar with. [MENTION=6777571]Jumblejacks[/MENTION] did the conversion on that.


Hi! I'm James, the editor for EN5ider. I can answer any questions you have about our 5e version of Holdenshire/To Slay a Dragon. :)

I have been content to stalk the forum for months, but for this I break my silence. It's been a little while since I read through the adventure series (I read it as it came out, then again all together when the last part came out), but at the time I remember feeling that the middle adventure had several major issues that turned me off to running it, so I'll ask about the parts that I remember.

1. What motivation would the characters be given to go to the various towns, help out, and acquire the magic dragon-slaying gear? The end of the first adventure leaves them with the quest to go east and kill the dragon/save the kids.
2. Tying in with number 1, wouldn't it take forever to travel all the way to the dragon's mountain, let alone go hex crawling and doing the side quests? Why hasn't the dragon eaten the kids yet?
3. There's at least one part of the hex crawling that doesn't make sense to me. The characters are supposed to be looking for... I think a kidnapped unicorn. Every time they enter a hex, they are supposed to roll a perception check. What if they fail? They just have to try every other hex and then start the search over and hope they find it this time? Or do I only call for the perception check in that hex, thus basically giving away that there's something significant there for them to go snooping?


I think there are several ways of handling any of these bits; as an old-school style adventure, the goal is to give the GM a lot of agency in how the adventure is run. In any case, this is how I would personally run it!

1. I would have the existence of the dragon-slaying artifacts be made explicitly clear to the PCs in-universe. Maybe when they receive the dragon-slaying sword. Alternatively, a proud Cirothe could send kobolds to egg the PCs on ("I'll bet you can't get the awesome magic tools, heroes. Neener neener!").

2. That's definitely the largest weakness of the hexcrawl format. If this were a plot-heavier adventure, there would probably be a reason made explicit in text. But in the end, it's the question of why Bowser just keeps Princess Peach in the castle. As much as I personally dislike the trope, the kids and the damsel are in distress solely to be motivation to the players. If you want it to make sense, though, I would make the captives vital sacrifices to a ritual that only happens when the planets align (etc.), and that date is quite a ways away. This has the added benefit of putting the PCs on a clock. It's a long clock, but a clock nonetheless.

3. My two ways of dealing with this are:
a. The Schrodinger's Unicorn approach. Call for a Perception check in every hex when they start searching for the unicorn. If they succeed, it's in that hex. If it's not, search another one. Pretty gamist and non-interactive, but it's sufficient.
b. The Just Tell 'Em approach. Dispose with the Perception checks entirely and just tell them it's in that hex (or within one of four adjacent hexes?) and have them check it out. When they make it to the right hex, run the appropriate encounter.


The adventure mentions Cirothe's spellcasting several times; in fact the whole point of one of the major artifacts is to disrupt her spells. But she doesn't have any spells!

Using the "Dragons as Innate Spellcasters" sidebar we can give Cirothe 5 spells of up to 5th level, each 1/day, without affecting her CR. Spell save DC is 19. That's not too shabby.

I'm curious what spells people would give to a legendary red dragon. Here's what I'm thinking so far:

animate objects -- This is a good spell to soften the party up. Cirothe can cast it and then dive into the lava for a round or two while the party beats on several animated boulders.
dominate person -- Another good one for spending a few rounds hiding in the lava. Personality-wise, I think a dragon needs this spell.
hypnotic pattern -- When her breath weapon is not recharged yet, but the party is clumped up, this may be a good alternative to hold them for a few rounds, so she can focus on one dangerous character.
mirror image -- A pre-combat buff that doesn't require concentration and may soak up a few hits.
wall of force -- Good for dividing the party (note that the hemispherical version grants no save!). I'd allow the Hammer of Vengeance to break the wall.

The main strategy is to buy time (by dividing the party, incapacitating them, etc.) while waiting for breath weapon to recharge, since the dragon's breath weapon is by far the most devastating attack on the board. Several of these spells are concentration spells but my reasoning is that dragons have really good Con saves so she should be able to maintain them much of the time.


Who did the art for the NPC portraits? I'd like to find some portraits in a similar style for some of the NPCs that lack portraits, particularly the elves and dwarves in Act II.

Epic Threats

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