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5E RoT: Metallic Dragon Council

pukunui

Hero
Hi all,

The PCs in my Tyranny of Dragons campaign are headed in the direction of the metallic dragon council, and so I am starting my prep. Man, that chapter is sparse on detail. Not even a hint of a description of what the meeting place looks like, for instance.

I'm looking for some tips and details from DMs who have run The Rise of Tiamat already. How did you flesh out this council?

Where did the meeting take place - in a cave, in a building, out on a mountain prairie? What did it look like?

Did the dragons appear in their normal forms, or did they all shapechange into humanoid forms to make the PCs more comfortable?

How did you convey the information for each dragon? Did you have them just straight out demand concessions, or did the PCs have to work to figure out what the dragons wanted?


I have a week to sort this out. I would appreciate any amount of help to flesh this chapter out before then.

Thanks,
Jonathan
 

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robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
Supporter
I've not run it yet so I'm interested in seeing what others suggest too. This and the Thay chapter are very terse!

as far as the dragons go I plan for each have each have an objection (basically the past grievance) and an incentive (a desire for stability in the realms). Each has a 6 point score and starts at 3. If the PCs appeal to their incentive the score goes up by 1 point. If they remove the objection the score goes up by 2 points. Reach 6 and the dragon is onboard. Refuse to deal the objection score goes down by 2. Fail to appeal to their incentive score drops another 1 and the dragon leaves the council. I think the dragons start in dragon form and if their objection is removed they turn to human form?

Idea for the setting - a mountain aerie with nothing but a sheer drop behind the PCs and the dragons in front (within the aerie).

Anyway like you curious to hear actual play reports.
 

Sloblock

Explorer
hi

the chapter as written was pretty sparse...I inserted a couple of bits...

so I had the players asked to go to the Dragon meet as ambassadors, and for them to meet Elia at barn outside of Waterdeep.

En-route I gave the Players a hand out that detailed each of the dragons Handout.jpg this covered the types and I also put down the original status. This meant that I could fill in back ground and give the players something to ask at the meet.

So I inserted a dragon fight en-route that was pretty brutal, this was with red dragons which I hadn't used much up to this point. The PCs all fell to 0 as the Red dragon flamed them, I had the PCs wake up to the sound of the other Metallic dragons arriving to help.

Next the meeting, I used what Robus had which was the inside a large cave with the PCs on a raised platform.

The PCs then started with their introductions, for the copper dragon, I had it set the prisoners and hats puzzle. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoners_and_hats_puzzle , puzzle.png this worked really well and threw two of my PCs off as they tried to work it out.

So we went through what the dragons wanted and the PCs said that they would help

I then wrote a couple of side quests so that the PCs could complete the dwarf and elf tasks. The dwarf one was around getting assistance from a younger more progressive dwarf helping to oust Braunanvil from power. The Elf one i added in around the background of one of the PCs who was a noble elf.
 

Sloblock

Explorer
This and the Thay chapter are very terse!

yes this was very poor in comparison to other chapters I changed a bit for the Thay chapter and my players still remember this as one of their favourite interlude parts of the campaign
 
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pukunui

Hero
[MENTION=6790268]Sloblock[/MENTION]: Thanks for that. I like that you had the copper dragon ask the PCs to solve a puzzle.


As an aside, I find it too much of a stretch to accept that Elia can fly from Waterdeep to the Nether Mountains* in only two days, so I've decided that she'll make use of the Harper teleportation network (thanks SKT!) and teleport the group to Everlund, then fly them into the mountains to the meeting place.

I'm thinking about having them spot the dwarves with their captured cultist on the way. I will add in a red dragon of some kind to keep Elia occupied while the PCs deal with the cultists.

Then maybe on the way back I'll run the second "cult strikes back" episode. Maybe I'll have Elia just fly them down to the road to Everlund and let them make their own way back to the Harper portal. They can get attacked on the road.




*It's a distance of more than 700 miles. If she flies nonstop for the entire 48 hours, she'd have to be flying at 15 mph. If you add in some breaks, she'd have to travel even faster than that. According to the DMG, however, her normal flying speed of 80 feet translates to only 8 mph, and she can only fly for 9 hours a day. I suppose you could say that she flies for longer at the risk of exhaustion, but she'd still need to be moving a lot faster than she ought to be able to.
 

Eltab

Hero
The metallic dragons know that war is brewing, so they won't want to send their leaders someplace they can be ambushed. I like an alpine field with camouflage netting between trees. Not far from some metallic dragon's lair, so he can bodyguard the meeting. (Hmm, a mated pair, for extra security?) Caves / caverns would make sense too but gives me claustrophobia.

The ambassadors might travel part of the way in human form, to throw off any interception attempts. And all this might come up when Elia starts flying in a circular search pattern because she cannot find what she is looking for.

There could also be a planar portal (to the Feywild? a demi-plane?) which they know is secure.
 

pukunui

Hero
[MENTION=6803337]Eltab[/MENTION]: Yeah, I was just thinking that this chapter is really begging for something magical. Like a path behind a waterfall that leads to a magical grove (that could very well be on another plane). Maybe it's Protanther's lair even.
 

Sloblock

Explorer
@Eltab: Yeah, I was just thinking that this chapter is really begging for something magical. Like a path behind a waterfall that leads to a magical grove (that could very well be on another plane). Maybe it's Protanther's lair even.

Liking the idea of a magical grove for the meeting place, a sacred dragon place if you like.
 

pukunui

Hero
Liking the idea of a magical grove for the meeting place, a sacred dragon place if you like.
I was thinking about a secret mountain grove I vaguely remember from Neverwinter Nights 2. There was a dragon there too, although I think it was an evil one.
 



gweinel

Explorer
In my campaign there is one beautiful coastal city called Evergem. Evergem was one of few cities of the world which survived from an apocalyptic force that hit the continent. The true reason of its survival is known only to one creature: Nectisaryx. Nectisaryx is a Topaz dragon who have loved a human female named Evergem some centuries ago. After her death he built a big mount on the coast, near to his lair to honor her which eventually came to be quite popular with the locals. The mount became a village, the village became a town and the town became a city and the initial annoyed Nectisaryx decided that this was the best way to make immortal his lost love. He polymorphed to a fair hair and bright eye noble and ruled the city which renamed it as Evergem.

When the apocalypse hit he used all his magic to protect his beloved city and all his psionic abilities to erase this deed from the minds of his people. Exhausted he fell to slumber for many decades. When he awoke many things has changed: his city was mostly submerged to the sea since the sea level was rised after the apocalypse and a new one was built beside the drown part city. He found this turn of events wonderful since he had a whole town as his new lair with a peak just in the center of it: the mount of Evergem. This time he didn't reclaimed the leadership of the city (he was bored to lead again these puny humans) but he watched from below the sea how it prospered as it became a great trade center.

When the Cult of Dragon emerged, early in their campaign, they targeted the riches of Evergem. Nectiseryx decided to intervene. Although he was strong enough to defend the city he was forced to reveal his true form to his foes. From that time his neutral and indifferent stance against the affairs of the dragons changed. He choose side, and the side was the Order of the Canary, the order of the good metallic dragons of the continent. He became a powerful ally of Tazmikella, the Copper Dragon, and when she mentioned that a group of brave (and foolhardy) heroes sought to destroy the Cult of Dragon he proposed to host a meeting with them.

Nectisaryx found it would be a great idea to hold a meeting under the sea, next to the crowded city of Evergem, in a big mount of a very beloved human who rest in peace.
 
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Eltab

Hero
I'm thinking about having them spot the dwarves with their captured cultist on the way.

When I ran that scene, the PCs were travelling by ship from Neverwinter to Waterdeep. I made an opportunity to point out that the guy in charge of the Assassin Team* was wearing his Purple as a uniform, but this captured cultist was wearing his Purple more like a cape. The Green Wyrmspeaker wears his Purple as a royal robe, which is a hint.

* The guy in charge of the assassin team was the sergeant from the town outside the Flying Castle. He had murdered a PC in cold blood, so the player's new character made a bee-line at him once she made the connection: he had also stolen the old PC's Oathbow; I opened the ambush by shooting her in the back with it and she hears a soft whisper "Swift death to my enemies".
The "light bulb" look on her face made the research worth it.
 

discosoc

First Post
Honestly, by the time my group got to that point, I think people were just kind of tired of fighting the same dragon cultist enemies, so we mostly skipped over the dragon council. It seemed more like the designers were wrapping up the book to meet a deadline and the intern pipes up with the question "hey, we have this whole campaign about dragons, but where are the good ones?" And then everyone just kind of looks around dumbfounded before the intern was given 20 minutes to "write something up before I fire off the final revision to the printers."
 

I've not read the book cover to cover, since my group has shown little interest in the idea of playing it thus far, but this chapter and the Thay one really bummed me nevertheless. These were the two that I was really interested in reading, because Good Dragons and Red Wizards are full of awesome roleplaying potential, but the book is just so flimsy on the subject. It's hard not to compare it to Harshnag in SKT, or Ezmerelda & Rictavio in CoS, and wonder how they would have handled the same idea in one bigger book.

The core problems seem to be:
* How do you make the scene fun for the players?
* How do you communicate what the Dragons want, without a really mechanical 'go up to NPC, hit use, and then listen to canned speech'?
* How do you make it more than just a long walk to a simple conversation?
* How do the NPCs' requests become more than just 'make Persuasion roll'?

For all of these, it seems to me that you almost want to have the Dragons first meet the players collectively, setting out the basic thoughts of the council, then have them each withdraw to a separate 'room', with further conversations between the players and each Dragon at that point. When you're not trying to juggle 5 or more NPCs in the same conversation, it should be much easier to then have their desires and personalities come through. Contests of skill and morality, like the Copper Dragon mentioned above, also appeal; perhaps the Brass (are they the warlike ones?) wants a demonstration that the players can win the battle, through the medium of a chess game or whatever, while the Gold will interrogate the party in a word association game to see how they view the world (and thus learn their morality). Ideally, I'd want this to be a full session by itself, so that it assumed the importance that suggests, and I'd also want enough encounters on the way to get there to make the whole thing feel like an ordeal.

For the meeting place, I'd be tempted by a Dragon Graveyard. Could be contrary to expectations (instead of lofty palaces and harps, they get arid wind and the buzzing of flies), and might help to add a serious tone to affairs. An implicit question - 'why risk joining our revered ancestors on your behalf'? - that would make the players think. It might be a bit too heavy though, and risk setting the Good Dragons in the role of antagonists in the players' minds.

Final thought: the Oracle at Delphi is really hard to get to. It's up a big steep mountain, not particularly close to the major cities of Greece, and it gets really very hot indeed. Just getting to the place was gruelling, which is itself an important element in the act of homage to the gods; dragging a big cart full of gold up there really did take a lot of effort. I'd want this whole segment to have the same feel, I think. The Good Dragons may be Good, but getting their aid will take more than just wandering down the road and giving a nice speech.
 

pukunui

Hero
The core problems seem to be:
* How do you make the scene fun for the players?
* How do you communicate what the Dragons want, without a really mechanical 'go up to NPC, hit use, and then listen to canned speech'?
* How do you make it more than just a long walk to a simple conversation?
* How do the NPCs' requests become more than just 'make Persuasion roll'?
Exactly!


For all of these, it seems to me that you almost want to have the Dragons first meet the players collectively, setting out the basic thoughts of the council, then have them each withdraw to a separate 'room', with further conversations between the players and each Dragon at that point. When you're not trying to juggle 5 or more NPCs in the same conversation, it should be much easier to then have their desires and personalities come through. Contests of skill and morality, like the Copper Dragon mentioned above, also appeal; perhaps the Brass (are they the warlike ones?) wants a demonstration that the players can win the battle, through the medium of a chess game or whatever, while the Gold will interrogate the party in a word association game to see how they view the world (and thus learn their morality). Ideally, I'd want this to be a full session by itself, so that it assumed the importance that suggests, and I'd also want enough encounters on the way to get there to make the whole thing feel like an ordeal.
I really like this.


For the meeting place, I'd be tempted by a Dragon Graveyard. Could be contrary to expectations (instead of lofty palaces and harps, they get arid wind and the buzzing of flies), and might help to add a serious tone to affairs. An implicit question - 'why risk joining our revered ancestors on your behalf'? - that would make the players think. It might be a bit too heavy though, and risk setting the Good Dragons in the role of antagonists in the players' minds.
It's an interesting idea, but I'd be wary of using it in this campaign, considering that the final battle takes place in a dragon graveyard (the Well of Dragons).
 

Ah, of course, I'd forgotten about the Well of Dragons. That chapter seemed surprisingly dull, so I never focused on it in my skim reads of the book - I was more impressed by Xonthal's Maze, and curious about the political chapters.
 

Eltab

Hero
A model to handle the Dragon Council:

The Traveler Book has a 4-page adventure in it where you have to go through bureaucracy to get a permit. Everybody sends you to somebody else, only one guy can sign the darn thing. If you can get a copy and thin it down a bit, it might help you organize your thoughts.

The adventure also includes a 'day planner' schedule mechanic. I wish I'd thought of using it for the Waterdeep Council in the first place. It would be useful here, too.
 

Steven Winter

Explorer
Lots of good ideas here.

Our outline for this adventure was way too big to fit in 96 pages. Some chapters were culled entirely while others, like this one, had to be shorter than we liked. Two factors weighed heaviest in that decision. First, no matter how we staged the encounter, it would disappoint people by either being too majestic or not majestic enough. Second, some groups live for this sort of encounter, but others are bored to distraction by them and would rather skip over them entirely. So rather than expend a lot of pages for little gain, we opted to present the bare bones and let DMs frame the encounter to suit their players.

If I had it to do over, I'd try to squeeze two more pages for this chapter out of somewhere else--I think two pages would just about do it justice--though I have no idea off the top of my head where they'd come from.

Steve
 

Eltab

Hero
If I had it to do over, I'd try to squeeze two more pages for this chapter out of somewhere else--I think two pages would just about do it justice--though I have no idea off the top of my head where they'd come from.
Maybe cut the Thay chapter (also suffers from lack of space) entirely and put the whole page count into the Dragon Council, doing a robust job on it? One well-done highlight of the campaign, instead of two anemic under-formed ideas competing for limited resources.

P.S. To date, the climax of my group's campaign was facing Arauthator in his lair. (We got interrupted by IRL and are in stasis in the Green Wyrmspeaker's hideout.)
 

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