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5E Plot Summary - Sleeping Dragons Wake

If you are not DMing this adventure, don't ruin your fun by reading this!

Sleeping Dragon’s Wake can be run as a stand-alone adventure, but it really has been written as the middle section of a longer campaign. The adventure focuses on the party being in conflict with the Cult of Myrkul (introduced earlier in Storm Lord’s Wrath) and culminates with the party witnessing the return of the legendary evil dragon known as Ebondeath. As a stand-alone, it lacks a satisfying conclusion as at best it sets up the need for the party to decide if they are going to undertake a quest to face this great evil.

The module suggests presenting two quests first, helping the people of a nearby farming community in Leilon Point and investigating an apparent shipwreck at a lighthouse called the Tower of Storms. I suggest that Leilon Point be presented to the party first, as the events in this quest appear to be unrelated, but can later be tied in to the struggles between the cults of Talos and Mrykul presented in Storm Lord’s Wrath.

Leilon Point tasks the party with rooting out a clan of sahuagin that have been misled by Fheralai from the Cult of Talos to drive out the villagers. Though the story does not reveal this to the party and to them it may just seem that this event is just a spot of increasing chaos in the Sword Coast. It’s a straight forward location that provides plenty of combat.

The Death Knight Dreadnaught that is found at the Tower of Storms is a pretty cool concept. An undead Death Knight that has been created as a warship, sort of like the Flying Dutchman from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Having once been in the service to Ularan of the Mrykul cult and now a base for Fherelai of the Talos cult, it provides a great ability to add depth to a campaign that includes all three of the modules. Though not mentioned in the module, it also provides a means to reveal to the party the motivation behind the sahuagin attacks on Leilon Point. This could be done either through a journal entry, or by conversations with the death knight. There is also the consideration that this ship can be foreshadowed during earlier travels along the coast if the DM plans ahead.

Once the first of those two quest is completed, the adventure suggests that one of the two follow-up quests be made available. These two quests, Iniarv’s Tower and the Bronze Shrine, I also feel have a strong preference in which order they should be presented. Specifically, because the Bronze Shrine quest leads directly into the climax of Ebondeath’s return, should be presented to the party after all other quests have been completed. And to me, could easily be presented to the party not through the quest board, but directly from one of the ghost Sword of Leilon.

Iniarv’s Tower starts with the simple motivation of stopping a band of brigands from harassing caravans on the High Road, but reveals more sinister goings on with the appearance of undead and Myrkul’s cult activity. This quest does present creative parties with options other than combat, but does allow a less than subtle party the chance to assault a defended castle. Something that should prove difficult without intelligent use of magic or tactics. Either way, this quest should help the party to understand that the evil forces of undeath, as presented through the cult of Mrykul represent a real danger to the region.

The Bronze Shrine is the last of the quests that originate in Leilon, and leads directly into the final confrontation with Ebondeath in Claugiyliamatar’s (Gnawbone’s) lair. That’s why I feel it’s important to be presented to the party last, or when the DM feels this campaign needs to move onto the end game of Divine Contention. It presents the party with the challenge of freeing a bronze dragon from the control of demon. The situation encourages the party to rely upon finesse, diplomacy, intuition and investigation as the shrine is guarded by good aligned acolytes and the dragon herself is a force for peace and protection in the region.

Successful completion of the Bronze Shrine results in a blessing from Bahumat, a vision of Gnawbone attacking Leilon. To prevent that the party is tasked with entering the evil dragon’s lair and convincing the dragon not to attack the town. Making their way into an evil dragon’s lair is and should be a scary affair. It provides opportunity to fight, but the party needs to know when to fight, and when to rely upon the mercy, or disinterest, of a greater power. Once penetrating to the dragon herself, the party can then talk with the great wyrm and receive the task of putting old Gnawbone at ease by ending the undead attacks against her perpetuated by one of Ularan’s lieutenants, Viantha Cruelhex.

Tracking down and capturing or killing Viantha is straightforward, and ignoring that an ancient green drgon or her agents should have been able to have done so with ease, the party won’t have much trouble finding and dealing with Viantha. When the party returns to Gnawbone’s lair to complete their end of the bargain that saves Leilon, the great evil of Ebondeath arrives and posses the green dragon. Conceptually I find this a great motivator and lead in to the final adventure, Divine Contention, but as written I find it uninspiring, and will be something I work on to make it climatic and awe inspiring to my players.

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