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We D&D- LMoP Complete & Hoard of the Dragon Queen #023 The Hunger of Hadar.

Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Session #26 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #12 The Fields of the Dead.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 4
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 4
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 4
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 4

Secondary PCs.
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 4
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 4
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 4
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 4


Note, this is session #26 of our game but only session #12 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

The guys have signed on to a caravan heading to Waterdeep, their job (employed by Ontharr Frume, Order of the Gauntlet & Leosin Erlanthar, Harper) is to keep an eye on the loot-filled Cultist wagons, they need to find out where the loot is being taken. And why?

And so, the caravan at present…

Wagon #1 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Achreny Caravan Master & Sgt Bobby Guard Master + Ralph Little (Male Halfling) Teamster + Eldkin Agetul (Female Dwarf) Guard + Leda Widris (Female Human) Guard + Aldor Urnpolehurst (Male Human) Passenger- a dodgy lawyer?

Wagon #2 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Teamster (x2) + Orvustia Esseren (Female Human) Guard + Sulsedeg the Pole (Male Human) Guard (Very Tall) + Passenger (x2).

Wagon #3 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Cult Teamster (x2) + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?).

Wagon #4 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Cult Teamster (x2) + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?).

Wagon #5 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Cult Teamster (x2) + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?).

Wagon #6 Owner: Samardag the Hoper (Male Human). Cargo: Porcelain. On board- Samardag Wagon Master & Drek ‘the Magnificent’? (Male Human) Samardag’s NEW Bodyguard + Teamster + 4 NEW Guards (all Male Humans), one called ‘Badda’, another called ‘Morbadd’, maybe.

Wagon #7 Owner: Lasfelro the Silent (Male Human). Cargo: Unknown? On board- Lasfelro Wagon Master + Gargoyle + Wererond (Female Human) Teamster + Tyjit (Female Dwarf) Guard + Tardol (Male Half-Orc) Guard + Hotlips Houlihan Passenger + Green Imsa (Female Human) Passenger- with green skin!

Wagon #8 Owner: Oyn Evermor (Male Human). Cargo: Exotic Birds. On board- Oyn Wagon Master + Enom Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Hard Bonk Guard + Garlik (Male Human) Guard + Passenger (x2)- one of these guys is a Cultist.

Wagon #9 Owner: Beyd Sechepol (Male Half-Elf). Cargo: Beer. On board- Beyd Wagon Master & Lummins Beyd’s Bodyguard + Losvius Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Lux Guard + Lasmeer (Male Half-Elf) Guard + Radecere (Male Gnome) Passenger + Gamsy (Male Human) Passenger.

In addition, there are NOW eleven other folk travelling independently, but with the caravan, on their own mounts, including Derek Pilch (Human Druid), Watt (Human Bard) & Sgt Harald Hardaxe (Dwarf Fighter).

38 Journey Map 1.jpg

Now to the action, one more item from Day #2-

Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk) gets in contact with several other PCs early evening- he’s now certain that one of the passengers on his cart is a Cultist from Camp Dragonclaw, and that the feller has worked out who he is. There’s little time to formulate a plan, and so after a good 15 minutes of the Players squabbling about how to deal with the situation- and the DM getting fed up with them, Rob (playing Hard Bonk) takes things in to his own hands.

It goes like this; Hard Bonk gets the Cultist on his own and makes several desperate promises but gets nowhere- the sneering Cultist even tells Hard Bonk that he’s going to tell his friends who will ‘deal with him…’. Hard Bonk has heard enough, he skewers the Cultist with his shortsword (and a ‘20’), and then hides the body under the cart. Later Watt & Lux (Human Warlock) both Invisible, and with another casting of Invisibility on the corpse carry off the dead Cultist and dump him in a ditch in a farmer’s field, they hide the body as best they can.

None of the other Players are happy with Rob’s (Hard Bonk’s) solution, and yet the problem seems to have been solved, so… Let’s see what happens next.

Day #3

The caravan heads into the Fields of the Dead, although it’s a late start as one of the Oyn’s passengers is missing, funny that. Hard Bonk explains to Oyn that the guy decided to head back to Baldur’s Gate, and then rolls a second ‘20’ in a row for his Persuasion check, Oyn believes the story.

The Fields of the Dead is a broken and desolate land, with sparse vegetation, and very few trees- it’s also a fairly flat land, the only elevated parts look like great burial mounds, which they probably are. It is an empty place, the PCs hope.

The day goes well except when one of the independent travellers (during a rest break) viciously whips his horse- Derek Pilch (the Druid) intervenes and tells the fellow (a Knight, he thinks- actually the guy is a Noble) that he will help him by taking a look at his ‘stupid nag’. The Knight (Noble) is a little offended (at first), but then the Druid starts talking with the animal (the horse is called Trevor, or Trev; Sandy & Jackie insist it gets a name). Trevor (the horse) tells Derek that the Knight (Noble) is a vicious idiot. Derek nods along with the animal- while healing it, and while translating for the Knight (Noble), he makes up some stuff about the horse being a bit depressed! Derek explains a simple code to Trevor (Neighs, Whinnies, and Snuffles), so the horse can tell the Druid if and when the Knight (Noble) is being a vicious idiot again.

At the end of all of the above the Knight (Noble) Sir Lumsden F’tang thanks Derek for his trouble, if he wants to look after his horse then he’s happy to let him do so.

The rest of PCs are still taking the time to chat with the people they are travelling with (on the same cart), they’re trying to find out if there are any more hidden Cultists within their ranks.

Tonight, is the first time the caravan has to camp out in the wilds, the previous two nights were spent camped on the edge of a village.

Later on Hard Bonk is approached by Tardol (a Guard on Lasfelro’s wagon) specifically asking about Tain, who turns out to be the missing (Dead) Guard/Cultist- “What did he say before he left?” Hard Bonk replies “That he’d had enough and that he was going back to Baldur’s Gate”, and then rolls an ‘18’ on his Deception check. Tardol apologises for bothering Hard Bonk. Job done.

However, that means that Tardol is probably a Cultist too. Hard Bonk is convinced there are more disguised Cultists travelling on (all of?) the other wagons, he gets the word out to his colleagues.

Day #4

In the Fields of the Dead proper, a quiet day with more PC investigations- in search of disguised Cultists, although nothing untoward turns up.

Later Trev (the horse) signals to Derek Pilch that Sir Lumsden has been beating him again- Derek gets annoyed and confronts the Knight (Noble), he manages however to keep his cool and later to carefully explain that Trevor (the horse) is a thinking feeling creature, and that beating him is a very bad thing to do. Sir Lumsden sees red, and as it turns out he has a Knight bodyguard and a Wizard retainer, ostensibly to keep him safe on the road. The pair threaten Derek. It gets tetchy for a while but Derek is not backing down and is definitely not fighting anyone. Eventually Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter & the Guard Master) comes by and tells Sir Lumsden & Derek to pack it up, they’ve both been warned. The big man defuses the situation slightly but leaves both Sir Lumsden and Derek unhappy.

Later Derek suggests to others that Sir Lumsden and his colleagues are perhaps Cultists, the other PCs/Players are less certain, they mostly think that Derek (Jackie) wants them to be Cultists.

Another night camped in the wilds, although again without incident.

Day #5

The Fields of the Dead still, and another quiet day, with investigations continuing.

There are no incidents, and nothing much to report- and yet another night camped out in the wilds, the PCs are getting used to this caravan guard malarkey.

Day #6

Fields of the Dead, at the end of the day’s travel the caravan arrives at The Last Hearth, a walled and fortified roadside inn-cum-waystation, and the last bit of civilisation until the other side of the Trollclaws.

Derek visits with Trevor (the horse) who signals that Sir Lumsden has been at it again, whipping him this time. It kicks off again.

Eventually Achreny Ulyeltin, the Caravan Master, is persuaded by Sgt Bobby and Derek to call Sir Lumsden out, there follows a cautionary chat- “alright it’s your horse but it could save your life” etc. Sir Lumsden states that “if the nag dies I’ll just buy another one”, and then goes on to remind Achreny that he is a Noble and has influence, he could make it bad for the Caravan Master. Achreny doesn’t want that, and so reiterates that he is only advising Sir Lumsden, not telling him.

The initial blow-up (confrontation) between Derek and Sir Lumsden is loud and protracted, basically the evening’s entertainment, everyone at the inn stops to watch events unfold, including many of the guys from the Cult wagons.

Derek fumes, he’s needs a plan to deal with Sir Lumsden and his protectors.

Otherwise a pleasant night at the Inn, and a rest day tomorrow.

Day #7

Rest day at the Last Hearth Inn, and more investigations by the PCs.

Derek has a plan, but he’s not telling his colleagues about it- only that he will put it in to action sometime soon.

Day #8

Back on the road again through the Fields of the Dead, and later on (as usual) Trevor (the horse) indicates that Sir Lumsden has been beating him.

Derek is incensed, and will put his new plan in action tomorrow.

Day #9

Fields of the Dead.

Derek (played by Jackie) gets up very early and then with help from one of his colleagues (Watt, also played by Jackie) he sneaks over to Trevor (the horse) calming the other mounts nearby and then leads the horse away. Note the Druid is Invisible throughout the entire operation, but also making good use of his Speak with Animals. Trev is ridden through the wilds for a bit (with Pass Without Trace employed) and then after a chat with the horse, set free. Derek, still Invisible and very hard to track, heads back to camp, and then to bed.

Which is where Sir Lumsden finds him soon after he discovers that Trevor (the horse) is gone. The Noble gets very threatening…

It all kicks off again, the caravan is held up for an hour while Sir Lumsden (and his colleagues) investigate the situation- they find nothing untoward. Achreny (the Caravan Master) refuses to delay the caravan further, as he states- “there’s no sign of foul play, no tracks to be found, and nobody saw anything. Let’s get going.”

Sir Lumsden, of course, buys a new horse from one of the other merchants on the caravan, he pays way over the odds for it- he also fumes all day.

Later he beats his new horse.

Derek is obviously fuming too.

Jackie probably should have confided with her colleagues with regard to her Free Trevor plan, maybe one of them would have pointed out that there are at least a half-a-dozen ‘spare’ horses with the caravan.

The new horse, Derek later learns (via Invisible & Speak with Animals) is called ‘Alan’, he’s not happy- the Druid heals the beast.

It seems a new (or perhaps just better) plan is needed.

Day #10

The Fields of the Dead, although the landscape is changing, the caravan is entering the low hills and mesas of the Trollclaws, the going gets harder- they’re beginning to climb in to the passes.

A quiet day, except…

Sgt Harald’s lucky set of gaming dice go missing- Radecere, a Gnome passenger on Beyd Sechepol’s Beer Wagon was only admiring the dice yesterday.

Therefore (and predictably) …

Sgt Harald forcefully confronts the Gnome- lots of swearing and lots of threats. However, Radecere insists that it wasn’t him- he didn’t take the dice. Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) is close to the action, the Priest of Lathander surreptitiously puts up a Zone of Truth- Radecere is telling the truth, which Lummins tells Sgt Harald. The Dwarf, as swiftly, apologises sincerely and profusely, and then in the next breath accuses anyone (and everyone) else that’s standing around watching events of being “filthy thieving scum”, which obviously goes down well.

Remarkably one of the folk standing around alternating between outrage and denial actually took the dice- Gamsy, a Guard on Beyd Sechepol’s Beer Wagon, and a suspected Cultist. Lummins’ Zone of Truth is still up, and the Priest is certain that Gamsy is lying, he advises Sgt Harald of this. The effect is instant, Sgt Harald goes for Gamsy and in a fury beats him unconscious with his fists- with an Action Surge, surprise and two rolls for max. damage.

It all goes a little bit crazy for a short while, some folk try to grab Sgt Harald (not a great idea, some of them get hit), some other folk try to help Gamsy- they’re furious (other Cultists?). Then Sgt Bobby (Guard Master) & Achreny (Caravan Master) turn up, the latter is starting to think that this caravan is cursed. After listening to various arguments et al Achreny is convinced enough to search Gamsy- he finds Sgt Harald’s dice (marked with ‘HH’). The folk protesting Gamsy’s innocence mostly disperse very quickly, the thief is restrained (manacled- Sgt Bobby has a pair) and then chained to one of Achreny’s carts. Gamsy will be thrown off the caravan at the next stop, on the other side of the Trollclaws.

The rest of the day is without incident- thank heavens.

Note while the above vignettes were going on a number of other PCs were doing the legwork, investigating their fellow passengers and the other wagons, and thus the updated caravan rota looks like this. Thanks to Sandy again for keeping it up to date.

Wagon #1 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Achreny Caravan Master & Sgt Bobby Guard Master + Ralph Little (Male Halfling) Teamster + Eldkin Agetul (Female Dwarf) Guard + Leda Widris (Female Human) Guard + Aldor Urnpolehurst (Male Human) Passenger- a dodgy lawyer + Gamsy (Male Human) Prisoner- probably another Cultist.

Wagon #2 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Dalton Fix (Male Halfling) Teamster + Ren Stubby (Male Halfling) Teamster + Orvustia Esseren (Female Human) Guard + Sulsedeg the Pole (Male Human) Guard (Very Tall) + Dort (Male Human) Passenger- Cultist? + Chiggly Vonn (Female Human) Passenger- Cultist?

Wagon #3 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Rand Dupe (Male Human) Cult Teamster + Teamster + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?).

Wagon #4 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Cult Teamster (x2) + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?).

Wagon #5 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Cult Teamster (x2) + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?).

Wagon #6 Owner: Samardag the Hoper (Male Human). Cargo: Porcelain. On board- Samardag Wagon Master & Drek ‘the Magnificent’? (Male Human) Samardag’s NEW Bodyguard + Gond Bagshaw (Male Gnome) Teamster + 4 NEW Guards (all Male Humans), one called ‘Badda’, another called ‘Morbadd’, another called ‘Gork’ maybe (Cultists? Or just idiots).

Wagon #7 Owner: Lasfelro the Silent (Male Human). Cargo: Unknown? On board- Lasfelro Wagon Master + Gargoyle + Wererond (Female Human) Teamster + Tyjit (Female Dwarf) Guard + Tardol (Male Half-Orc) Guard- Cultist? + Hotlips Houlihan Passenger + Green Imsa (Female Human) Passenger- with green skin!

Wagon #8 Owner: Oyn Evermor (Male Human). Cargo: Exotic Birds. On board- Oyn Wagon Master + Enom Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Hard Bonk Guard + Garlik (Male Human) Guard- Cultist? + Lint Fermund (Male Half-Elf) Passenger- Cultist?

Wagon #9 Owner: Beyd Sechepol (Male Half-Elf). Cargo: Beer. On board- Beyd Wagon Master & Lummins Beyd’s Bodyguard + Losvius Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Lux Guard + Lasmeer (Male Half-Elf) Guard- Cultist? + Radecere (Male Gnome) Passenger- Cultist?

In addition, there are now eleven other folk travelling independently, but with the caravan, on their own mounts, including Derek Pilch, Watt & Sgt Harald Hardaxe and Sir Lumsden F’Tang & his two retainers (a Knight and a Wizard)- all three Cultists?

You’ll note that the PCs and Player’s paranoia is increasing as the journey goes on, it seems everyone is a potential Cultist. In reality the kindly DM has hidden 10 Cultists in amongst the passengers, the PCs have killed one (Tain- Hard Bonk’s victim), and another (Gamsy) is manacled and branded a thief, to be thrown off at the next stop.

After this session there’s a lot of chatter (via e-mail) about the Derek vs Sir Lumsden situation, some of the other players are concerned that Jackie (Derek & Watt) is ‘putting the operation at risk’, which I can just about see. Although, on the surface it just looks like an uppity Druid banging heads with an uppity Noble, what Jackie actually needs is some good advice about how to deal with the situation. Which, of course, is what I tell them… more next time.
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Session #27 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #13 The Trollclaws.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 4
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 4
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 4
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 4

Secondary PCs.
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 4
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 4
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 4
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 4


Note, this is session #27 of our game but only session #13 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

And so, the PCs are on the road to Waterdeep, keeping an eye on the Cultist wagons, and at the same time trying to discover the Cultists disguised as passengers et al, while staying undercover themselves.

It’s all go for the Players.

The caravan, at present, looks like this, apologies it’s complex but this is Sandy’s doing (Lux)-

Wagon #1 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Achreny Caravan Master & Sgt Bobby Guard Master + Ralph Little (Male Halfling) Teamster + Eldkin Agetul (Female Dwarf) Guard + Leda Widris (Female Human) Guard + Aldor Urnpolehurst (Male Human) Passenger- a dodgy lawyer + Gamsy (Male Human) Prisoner- probably another Cultist.

Wagon #2 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Dalton Fix (Male Halfling) Teamster + Ren Stubby (Male Halfling) Teamster + Orvustia Esseren (Female Human) Guard + Sulsedeg the Pole (Male Human) Guard (Very Tall) + Dort (Male Human) Passenger- Cultist? + Chiggly Vonn (Female Human) Passenger- Cultist?

Wagon #3 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Rand Dupe (Male Human) Cult Teamster + Teamster + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?).

Wagon #4 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Cult Teamster (x2) + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?).

Wagon #5 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Cult Teamster (x2) + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?).

Wagon #6 Owner: Samardag the Hoper (Male Human). Cargo: Porcelain. On board- Samardag Wagon Master & Drek ‘the Magnificent’? (Male Human) Samardag’s NEW Bodyguard + Gond Bagshaw (Male Gnome) Teamster + 4 NEW Guards (all Male Humans), one called ‘Badda’, another called ‘Morbadd’, another called ‘Gork’ maybe (Cultists? Or just idiots).

Wagon #7 Owner: Lasfelro the Silent (Male Human). Cargo: Unknown? On board- Lasfelro Wagon Master + Gargoyle + Wererond (Female Human) Teamster + Tyjit (Female Dwarf) Guard + Tardol (Male Half-Orc) Guard- Cultist? + Hotlips Houlihan Passenger + Green Imsa (Female Human) Passenger- with green skin!

Wagon #8 Owner: Oyn Evermor (Male Human). Cargo: Exotic Birds. On board- Oyn Wagon Master + Enom Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Hard Bonk Guard + Garlik (Male Human) Guard- Cultist? + Lint Fermund (Male Half-Elf) Passenger- Cultist?

Wagon #9 Owner: Beyd Sechepol (Male Half-Elf). Cargo: Beer. On board- Beyd Wagon Master & Lummins Beyd’s Bodyguard + Losvius Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Lux Guard + Lasmeer (Male Half-Elf) Guard- Cultist? + Radecere (Male Gnome) Passenger- Cultist?

In addition, there are now eleven other folk travelling independently, but with the caravan, on their own mounts, including Derek Pilch (Human Druid), Watt (Human Bard) & Sgt Harald Hardaxe (Dwarf Fighter) and Sir Lumsden F’Tang & his two retainers (a Knight and a Wizard)- all three Cultists?

On we go…

38 Journey Map 1.jpg

Day #11

Still in the Fields of the Dead, actually climbing in to the lower hills of the Trollclaws, perhaps the hardest and most dangerous part of the journey.

Things do not go to plan.

Early evening, after the day’s travel is done, Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) decides to go for a nose around one of the Cultist wagons- the Players have been chatting between sessions, they’ve decided to put some effort in to investigating the wagons, rather than just weed out the Cult spies in the passenger manifest. Anyway, Hotlips gets caught nosing around by a pair of surly Cultist Guards and is warned off (with threats made), and later reported to Achreny (Caravan Master) & Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter & Guard Master).

Later still the Halfling Rogue (still dressed like a dandy) gets a severe telling off by the pair, which is odd to watch around the table- Pete (Sgt Bobby) telling off Sandy (Hotlips), that’s a switch-around.

Lux (Human Warlock) has been talking to people all day, she’s fairly certain that she has identified at least three Cultists pretending to be Guards or Passengers, and is also 90% certain that the Cult wagons are going all the way to Waterdeep. See later for new caravan list, and Cultists identified.

Derek Pilch however (played by Jackie, and after a little help from her fellow Players via e-mail between sessions) tries a new approach to the Sir Lumsden and his predilection for beating his mount conundrum. The new approach starts with the Druid apologising profusely, and at length, to Sir Lumsden- and once again volunteering to take good care of all three of the group’s mounts. Derek goes on to explain that he is a Druid of the Land and that it hurts him to see the beasts suffering. Sir Lumsden eventually agrees to give the Druid a trial run after Derek puts on a show with Moss, his old Pony. Employing a Speak with Animals spell (surreptitiously) he gets Moss to go fetch his backpack, to put out a campfire (the curmudgeonly Pony pees on it) and perform a few other tricks. Sir Lumsden is mighty impressed.

Sgt Bobby, the Guard Master, has also had time to chat with the manacled Gamsy (caught stealing from Sgt Harald), he’s certain the guy is a Cultist.

Day #12

The Fields of the Dead, now travelling through the lower hills of the Trollclaws.

And so today’s action…

While travelling Lux attempts to sweet talk Sir Lumsden a little- it doesn’t go well, the Noble interrupts her spiel when he has heard enough and accuses her of being a cheap harlot just trying to charm him out of his pants and his inheritance. Lux has never been so insulted (although there’s plenty of time yet, and if she keeps rolling low, well… who knows), the Warlock extricates herself from the situation swiftly. Lux broods for the rest of the day.

Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) spots that one of the Guards (Garlik on Wagon #8) has a dragon embellished pommel on a hidden dagger (in his boot), another Cultist identified- he figures (rightly, as it happens).

A little later, around Beyd’s Beer Wagon the two Sgt’s Bobby and Harald establish a semi-permanent (every evening) dice school, Sgt Bobby wins big- and everyone is smiles, he’s making friends, and is very loud and likeable. Sgt Harald loses every game he’s in and grouches loudly, the other Guards are wary of the surly Dwarf. Several of them caution Sgt Bobby (individually and in-private) that Sgt Harald is a trouble-maker, which makes Pete laugh (he plays both PCs).

Later still Hotlips and Watt attempt to go for a mooch around the Cult wagons, Watt keeps well-hidden- but Hotlips is spotted before she can even get close. The Halfling is reported (again) to Achreny (Caravan Master) and Sgt Bobby (Guard Master) and gets another dressing down, she’s on her final warning- one more incident and they’ll kick her off the caravan at the next port of call.

For a while Hotlips can’t work out why she keeps getting spotted by the Cultists, then she figures it out- or else notices that Tardol (a Half-Orc Guard on the same wagon as her- and suspected Cultist) is following her. Everywhere she goes Tardol turns up a short while later. Damn!

Day #13

The Trollclaws proper, and a slow day, the gradient rises and the road/track is rough and ready, hardly maintained at all, the going is tough- the caravan is forced to travel for 12 long hours to get to a safe camp site for tomorrow’s rest day. The next seven days (at least) will be spent in the Trollclaws, this is the calm before the storm.

En route Watt tries to entertain folk with a song, he’s off key (rolls a ‘2’ plus bonuses)- Sir Lumsden pays him a silver to shut up, the Bard is suitably offended. The Noble is doing his best to offend all of the PCs (or else the DM is).

Later however the Noble is very complimentary to Derek Pilch, his horse (Alan) is performing well- Alan (the horse) confirms that Sir Lumsden has not beaten him for two days. Woo-hoo!

One of the Teamsters on a Cultist wagon gets in to trouble later on, a horse slips- the reins jerk out of his hands, the wagon almost lurches off the side of a high-ish pass. In all the excitement the Teamster (Rand Dupe) fractures his wrist. Lummins sets and splints it (and secretly applies a Cure Wounds spell), soon the hurt has entirely gone, Lummins explains he has magic hands. Rand is overjoyed to be without pain (and able to do his job) he confides to the disguised Priest of Lathander that the fellers he’s working for are a suspicious bunch, they’ve not let him near the load, and are reluctant to even say where they’re going and why. Alas Lummins pushes a little too hard for info and Rand clams up, he remains however very grateful, Lummins will no doubt be back at a later date to check on the wound, and with more questions that need answers.

Day #14

Rest day in the lower Trollclaws, preparation for the big push starting tomorrow- through the high passes and across Trollclaw Ford. There’s a bit more vegetation here in the hills, and so Achreny (Caravan Master) suggests to Sgt Bobby (Guard Master) that he organise a hunt, but not to stray too far. A bit of fresh meat may improve the mood, particularly as there may be tough times ahead on the road.

As it turns out there are plenty of volunteers to join Sgt Bobby on the hunt, including almost all of the PCs (although as per the rules the PCs only get to play five of their PCs), however (and once again) things do not go quite as planned.

Watt falls down a fifteen-foot scarp and ends up stuck in a ditch- it takes him thirty minutes to extricate himself from the predicament, fortunately there’s no-one about to share his embarrassment.

Lux however… the Warlock foolishly decides to bring down a deer with an Eldritch Blast- there’s not much left of the beast, and Sir Lumsden is around to see it and he laughs himself silly (although he’s also now slightly wary of the Warlock).

Lux is very unhappy, Sandy playing Lux realises (in hindsight) that bringing down a deer with an Eldritch Blast may not have been the sensible option, she goes bananas on Sir Lumsden- with swearing and everything. Which, of course, just makes matters worse, soon enough a crowd has gathered to join the Noble in his sport- baiting and laughing at Lux. Her attempts to Intimidate the Noble (she rolls a ‘1’) just seem to make matters worse. In the end Sgt Bobby has to rescue her from the (very small) mob, Lux stalks off to hide her shame for the rest of the day (again).

Sandy (who plays Lux and Hotlips) has gone and broken her dice, neither of her PCs can get anything done, she’s had lots of good ideas but is constantly being stymied by low rolls. Whereas some of her compatriots are just rolling high all of the time… seemingly.

Lummins also bags a deer, more impressively he manages the feat using just his spear. But the winner of the hunt, or else the most kudos goes to- Sir Lumsden, who brings down two deer and a wild pig, and delivers them field dressed to the pot.

Otherwise it’s a quiet day off.

Day #15

The start of the high Trollclaws, and it’s tough going all day.

Early evening, when the shadows are longest, Samardag’s the Hoper’s cart is attacked, a pair of Peryton silently swoop down on the wagon.

The first Peryton is on Gork, one of the new-ish Guards hired to replace Watt & Sgt Harald, before he even knows what’s going on, the terrifying beast tears open the man’s chest and rips out his heart, dead.

The screams from the wagon bring others running, remember the Players can select a maximum of five PCs for play in each of these encounters, their other PCs are elsewhere doing other things (fighting off-screen enemies), or else just too far away from the action.

35 Peryton.jpg

Before the PCs can get in to action Drek the Magnificent, supposedly an experienced adventurer but actually a farmer’s son- real name, Malcolm Turnip, is grabbed by the second Peryton and still screaming lifted half-a-dozen feet in to the air. The beast then butts its razor-sharp antlers in to the fellow’s face and upper body and gores Malcolm to death.

Lux’s Eldritch Blast rips in to the first Peryton, making off with Gork’s bloody heart.

Sgt Bobby scales the wagon, and then leaps at the second Peryton- slashing the beast wildly with his longsword. The Peryton drops the torn and broken body of Drek, as it loses height- Sgt Bobby hits again (with an Action Surge) and decapitates the beast (with a Crit).

Let’s face it Sgt Bobby looks v.v. cool right now.

Shame about Drek and all that but… very cool.

Seconds later Sgt Harald hits the first Peryton with a bolt from his heavy crossbow, while Lummins manages only a glancing blow with a Scorching Ray (the other two Rays are way off target). The badly wounded Peryton escapes the scene.

The adventurer’s named above are the heroes of the hour, and the five guys that joined the wagon at the last village before the Fields of the Dead are discovered to be the bored sons and daughters of farming families, and not a bunch of experienced adventurers. Samardag the Hoper, who hired the group, is distraught- as are the remaining three farmer’s kids, they just want to go home.

It takes a while to calm things down, but eventually after the roadside burial of the two fallen would-be-guards, the caravan heads off again.

Before the end of the day it becomes very obvious, both to Lux & Lummins, that they are being watched. It seems their displays of magic use have got the Cultist’s attention.

Later that night, while the caravan is camped out in the wild, the three surviving farmer’s kids get even more emotional- every sound in the night is a hidden threat, or else some terrifying beast about to attack. The whole campsite is awake soon after; such is the kid’s terror. Sgt Bobby tries to calm the situation and stop the trio from making so much noise. Sgt Harald wanders by, punches two of the kids out (nice Action Surge) and calls the one still conscious, and now no-longer screaming (funny that), a ‘sack of shi*’ and tells him to ‘Dwarf-up’. Tough love, in action.

The three farmer’s kids will be let off the caravan at the next port of call, The Troll’s Den- a fortified waystation and inn on the other side of the Trollclaws.

Oh, and Samardag the Hoper apologises profusely, and then offers a little extra money to Watt & Sgt Harald- the pair get their old jobs back.

Day #16

High in the Trollclaws.

The caravan is subdued after yesterday’s deaths- and last night’s dramas (and lack of sleep). Achreny (Caravan Master) starts the day by giving a little speech about ‘all pulling together’. Then it’s Sgt Bobby’s turn to offer a few words, because the DM likes to put Pete on the spot every now and then. Sgt Bobby’s words of wisdom are, in essence, things will get better when we get out of the Trollclaws… probably.

Very stirring.

Later Sgt Harald observes another Cultist on his wagon, the guy has a belt buckle shaped like a dragon, so he must be. Right?

Lummins, casting about for something to do, decides to help Derek Pilch out with Sir Lumsden’s horses. Sir Lumsden is happy to meet Lummins- a hero in the Noble’s eyes after the Peryton attack. Lummins, unsure how to play it (Derek thinks these guys are Cultists), eventually comes down on the side of truth and introduces the Light of Lathander in to Sir Lumsden’s heart, and miraculously it works. Sir Lumsden wants to hear more and schedules another meeting with Lummins later on- which also goes smoothly. Note by the end of the day Sir Lumsden has promised to make a significant contribution to the Church, and also to attend a few services in Waterdeep, his final destination.

Sir Lumsden is a new-ish man, and much nicer to Derek (even apologising for his earlier behaviour), he and Lummins continue their campfire religious chats which on occasion also feature Sgt Bobby, who has also latterly seen the Light. Sir Lumsden and his crew are not Cultists, of this the Players are now certain.

Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk) however is certain that both Passengers and the other Guard on his wagon are Cultists, or else they all seem to know each other well from some previous encounter- less likely, particularly as they pretend otherwise at times.

Day #17

Still high in the Trollclaws, crossing the Trollclaw Ford today.

Midday and on a narrow pass approaching the ford one of the Cultist wagons takes a sharp turn and loses a wheel over the edge of the pass- the wagon is however saved, although some of the cargo comes loose and several boxes fall off, a pair of them split open- there’s a big to-do. The Cultist Guards from all of the wagons, and it is noted- a couple of other fellows (who the PCs have marked down as Cultists) from other wagons come to help clear up the mess.

Lux does a great job of distracting several Guards, playing the damsel in distress- with plenty of cleavage (Sandy’s idea, I want to make that clear). Watt meantime casts Invisibility on Hotlips, and the Halfling sneaks aboard the Cult cart, and is still there when it’s fixed and made ready to depart. Sgt Bobby is also one of the first on to the scene and has his elbows out- he helps to get the spilled loot back in to the boxes, and in the process spots several items taken from Greenest, he’s certain- including a Silver Teapot that belonged to Governor Nighthill. Sgt Harald also gets close enough to check out the hoard.

Hotlips meanwhile sits tight, she’s on the cart to try to overhear what the Cultists are talking about- nothing of interest, as it turns out, at least not before the spell’s duration expires. The Halfling has to get off the cart quickly and then down a scarp to avoid being spotted, resulting in bruised knees and ego. The Cultists overhear her struggle and stop the cart for a minute to take a look around, but they can’t find her, or anything wrong, and so head on again.

The Players were a little foxed at the time (and after via e-mail) they expected to get some more clues, eventually Hotlips comes up with an explanation as to why the Cultists were not giving away their secrets. The Halfling’s inspiration is dead simple- the Teamsters are not Cultists while the Guards and any Passengers very likely are.

The PCs will work to explore this new theory.

Later Hard Bonk joins the two Sgt’s card school and soon becomes an integral member of the company, he loses every hand he’s dealt, he’s incredibly popular with the other Guards et al- he seems unconcerned with his loses, ideal.

Day #18

The Trollclaws, and the weather suddenly gets worse- rain, lots of it. By the end of the day everyone is soaked, there’s nowhere to hide. To make matters worse the temperature drops and a few of the good folk are starting to look frayed and run down.

In areas with low visibility Sgt Bobby has to ride ahead and attempt to figure out the best parts of the track to take, Derek the Druid helps out on Moss.

Lummins during the evening gets around to see all of his disguised comrades, ostensibly to explain Lummins’ Patented Cultist Percentage-o-meter, see it in action on the caravan list below.

A tough, but quiet, day- only two more days in the Trollclaws, probably.

Day #19

The Trollclaws, and still the rain comes down.

Only an hour or so down the road and the caravan comes across a cart under attack. Fortunately, exactly five of the PCs are up with the lead wagon of the caravan, and in to action only seconds later…

36 Stranded.jpg

A group of Hobgoblins have surrounded a lone (and broken) wagon, beneath which a trio (at least) of Human defenders are taking cover and attempting to keep the Hobgoblins at bay. As the PCs, hidden by the rain, rush to help, the Hobgoblins abandon their positions and charge the defenders. Lux skids to a halt and fires a Shatter in to the midst of a clutch of Hobgoblins (and they all fail their saves) and slays three of the creatures in a thunderous burst. To make matters worse Watt repeats the trick, although only wounding two more Hobgoblins.

The charging Hobgoblins however are already amongst the defenders; the Hobgoblin Captain cuts down one of them. Sgt Bobby Action Surges his way as close to the action as he can and spins a dagger in to the Hobgoblin Captain’s back, “Fight me! Bastard!”, the good Sgt screams at the Captain. The large Hobgoblin nods, and then hisses at two of his colleagues who immediately flank their boss, then the trio set about taking Sgt Bobby down. The brave Fighter is cut badly (and repeatedly), Sgt Harald rushes in to help his comrade in arms.

Lummins fires Scorching Rays in to the melee, seconds later two more Hobgoblins fall, then the defenders formerly hidden under the wagon come out to join the fight, soon enough there’s only the Hobgoblin Captain left standing.

The smarter than the average Hobgoblin flees the scene, he doesn’t get far- an Eldritch Blast (Lux), an arrow in the back (Watt), a dagger in the back (Sgt Bobby) and lastly a Scorching Ray… or two (Lummins).

Dead, and of course the guy that comes out looking like the golden boy is Sgt Bobby, the lead wagons of the caravan arriving on the scene just in time to see the brave Sgt challenge a trio of Hobgoblins in order to save the cart’s defenders… and thus the legend grows.

Alas three of the defenders lose their lives in the confrontation, and again there are more burials by the road-side. However, two Guards and a young merchant have been saved from certain death. Ralf Hopscotch, Lumber Merchant, promises, well… lots of things, if the PCs/caravan can help them out of the Trollclaws and to The Troll’s Den and safety.

An hour or so later and the PCs (mainly Lummins and Derek Pilch with the ideas, and the necessary skills) cobble together a method of pulling the merchants wagon home rather than having to leave it here.

It’s slow going for the rest of the day, and after the stoppage the caravan has to carry on until late in the evening to make up for lost time, but there are no encounters and the weather at last takes a turn for the better- the rain stops, and the evening is cool rather than cold.

That however is the end of this session.

And this is the new/old/updated look of the caravan-

Wagon #1 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Achreny Caravan Master & Sgt Bobby Guard Master + Ralph Little (Male Halfling) Teamster + Eldkin Agetul (Female Dwarf) Guard + Leda Widris (Female Human) Guard + Aldor Urnpolehurst (Male Human) Passenger- a dodgy lawyer + Gamsy (Male Human) Prisoner (100% CULT).

Wagon #2 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Dalton Fix (Male Halfling) Teamster + Ren Stubby (Male Halfling) Teamster + Orvustia Esseren (Female Human) Guard + Sulsedeg the Pole (Male Human) Guard (Very Tall) + Dort (Male Human) Passenger (100% CULT) + Chiggly Vonn (Female Human) Passenger (100% CULT).

Wagon #3 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Rand Dupe (Male Human) Teamster (25% CULT) + Teamster + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?)- NO PASSENGERS?

Wagon #4 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Cult Teamster (x2) + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?) - NO PASSENGERS?

Wagon #5 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Cult Teamster (x2) + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?) - NO PASSENGERS?

Wagon #6 Owner: Samardag the Hoper (Male Human). Cargo: Porcelain. On board- Samardag Wagon Master & Watt Samardag’s Old/NEW Bodyguard + Gond Bagshaw (Male Gnome) Teamster + Sgt Harald Guard + Trell (Male Human) (75% CULT) + 3 Passengers (all Male Human Farmers sons, idiots).

Wagon #7 Owner: Lasfelro the Silent (Male Human). Cargo: Unknown? On board- Lasfelro Wagon Master + Gargoyle + Wererond (Female Human) Teamster + Tyjit (Female Dwarf) Guard + Tardol (Male Half-Orc) (100% CULT) + Hotlips Houlihan Passenger + Green Imsa (Female Human) Passenger- with green skin!

Wagon #8 Owner: Oyn Evermor (Male Human). Cargo: Exotic Birds. On board- Oyn Wagon Master + Enom Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Hard Bonk Guard + Garlik (Male Human) (100% CULT) + Lint Fermund (Male Half-Elf) (75% CULT).

Wagon #9 Owner: Beyd Sechepol (Male Half-Elf). Cargo: Beer. On board- Beyd Wagon Master & Lummins Beyd’s Bodyguard + Losvius Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Lux Guard + Lasmeer (Male Half-Elf) (100% CULT) + Radecere (Male Gnome) Passenger (75% CULT).

Wagon #10 Owner: Ralf Hopscotch (Male Human). Cargo: Lumber. On board- Ralf Wagon Master + Phineas (Male Human) Guard + Foldor (Male Human) Guard- both somewhat terrified by events.

In addition, there are now nine other folk travelling independently, but with the caravan, on their own mounts, including Derek Pilch, Sir Lumsden F’Tang & his two retainers (a Knight and a Wizard)- (all 0% CULT).

As you can see the Players are now voting on who is and who isn’t a Cultist, there are four of them (Players) and so 100% Cult just signifies that all four Players believe the individual is a member of the Cult. Remember that every day a maximum of five PCs get to make a roll of some sort as they attempt some form of activity or interaction. Remember, you’re seeing the results here rather than all of the awkward (or otherwise) conversations the PCs get themselves in to with the various individuals on the caravan (all potential Cultists).

Just to reiterate I have hidden 10 Cultists in the caravan (not including those on the Cult wagons), the guys- looking at Lux’s list above, have identified all ten of them- remember Tain, definitely a Cultist was killed by Hard Bonk right back at the start. Only that’s not the case, they’re mostly right with their selection but… well, they’ve got eight out of ten right so far. Note I haven’t told them there are ten Cultists hidden amongst the passengers, or indicated whether their selections (above) are right or wrong.

Also, worth noting that these sessions are much shorter than usual, and much more laid back- one PC gets in to a 5 to 10-minute conversation or activity, and then another- there’s a lot of rinse and repeat but the interaction (and chats) are all good. The Players have developed an approach, Sgt Bobby loud and jovial all the way through to Sgt Harald who is rude and in your face.

It seems to be working, although I think the Players are gagging for a bit more action (combat), I told them ahead of time that there would be a maximum of five of these sessions, I’m aiming to get through at least ten days of travel in each session- so there could be three more to come.

I also made it clear to the players that they could make the travel go quicker, they were nonplussed at this statement. I therefore explained again- I said at the start, and have reiterated in every session, that a maximum of five PCs can make a Skill Check or else get involved in some activity every day of travel. Again, the players were confused- ‘Maximum’, I explained is the key word in the sentence, the ‘Minimum’ number activities needed to complete a day of travel is zero.

In short if the PCs chose to just travel, and not get up to any investigations et al, then the day just passes- subject to any other encounters I throw at the caravan. We can spend the best part of thirty minutes to an hour playing through a day’s activity, or we can do it in five to ten minutes tops- depending on what they (the PCs) want to get up to.

Oh! Yeah!

Was the most repeated exclamation.

More next time.
 
Last edited:

Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Session #28 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #14 Terror Fungi.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 4
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 4
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 4
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 4

Secondary PCs.
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 4
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 4
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 4
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 4


Note, this is session #28 of our game but only session #14 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

And so, the PCs on the road to Waterdeep, keeping an eye on the Cultist wagons, and at the same time trying to discover the Cultists disguised as passengers et al, while staying undercover themselves.

And this is the new/old/updated look of the caravan-

Wagon #1 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Achreny Caravan Master & Sgt Bobby Guard Master + Ralph Little (Male Halfling) Teamster + Eldkin Agetul (Female Dwarf) Guard + Leda Widris (Female Human) Guard + Aldor Urnpolehurst (Male Human) Passenger- a dodgy lawyer + Gamsy (Male Human) Prisoner (100% CULT).

Wagon #2 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Dalton Fix (Male Halfling) Teamster + Ren Stubby (Male Halfling) Teamster + Orvustia Esseren (Female Human) Guard + Sulsedeg the Pole (Male Human) Guard (Very Tall) + Dort (Male Human) Passenger (100% CULT) + Chiggly Vonn (Female Human) Passenger (100% CULT).

Wagon #3 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Rand Dupe (Male Human) Teamster (25% CULT) + Teamster + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?)- NO PASSENGERS?

Wagon #4 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Cult Teamster (x2) + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?) - NO PASSENGERS?

Wagon #5 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Cult Teamster (x2) + Cult Guard (x2) + Cult Passenger (x?) - NO PASSENGERS?

Wagon #6 Owner: Samardag the Hoper (Male Human). Cargo: Porcelain. On board- Samardag Wagon Master & Watt Samardag’s Old/NEW Bodyguard + Gond Bagshaw (Male Gnome) Teamster + Sgt Harald Guard + Trell (Male Human) (75% CULT) + 3 Passengers (all Male Human Farmers sons, idiots).

Wagon #7 Owner: Lasfelro the Silent (Male Human). Cargo: Unknown? On board- Lasfelro Wagon Master + Gargoyle + Wererond (Female Human) Teamster + Tyjit (Female Dwarf) Guard + Tardol (Male Half-Orc) (100% CULT) + Hotlips Houlihan Passenger + Green Imsa (Female Human) Passenger- with green skin!

Wagon #8 Owner: Oyn Evermor (Male Human). Cargo: Exotic Birds. On board- Oyn Wagon Master + Enom Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Hard Bonk Guard + Garlik (Male Human) (100% CULT) + Lint Fermund (Male Half-Elf) (75% CULT).

Wagon #9 Owner: Beyd Sechepol (Male Half-Elf). Cargo: Beer. On board- Beyd Wagon Master & Lummins Beyd’s Bodyguard + Losvius Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Lux Guard + Lasmeer (Male Half-Elf) (100% CULT) Guard + Radecere (Male Gnome) Passenger (75% CULT).

Wagon #10 Owner: Ralf Hopscotch (Male Human). Cargo: Lumber. On board- Ralf Wagon Master + Phineas (Male Human) Guard + Foldor (Male Human) Guard- both somewhat terrified by events.

In addition, there are now nine other folk travelling independently, but with the caravan, on their own mounts, including Derek Pilch (Human Druid), Sir Lumsden F’Tang & his two retainers (a Knight and a Wizard)- (all 0% CULT).

After the chat at the end of the last session- about how to make thing go quicker by doing less, the Players are keen to get through a big chunk of travel in this session.

Also note at the start of each of these roleplay heavy sessions it has become the custom for me to ask the Players what they are seeking to achieve today, I did this for a variety of reasons- to keep them and me on track, to add impetus and/or direction- to get them to set goals or work towards a specific outcome, and also so that I can get a heads up with regard to their latest scheme.

They send e-mails between sessions you see, and my spy tells me that the traffic has increased dramatically lately. Some of the Players are itching to get in to action (Pete & Sandy)- by which I mean slay all the Cultists and… well, they’ve not planned that far ahead yet.

The compromise option put forward by Rob is a good old-fashioned kidnapping, or perhaps a disappearance. The Players at this point are trying to discover who is leading the Cultists on the caravan, and then borrow him or her and extract information from them.

Flaws have already been pointed out with this plan, by other Players via e-mail, like what are the Cultists going to tell us that we don’t already know? Also, I thought we were just supposed to be watching the Cultists? It seems however that Jackie is the only one who is along for the ride, happy to play the waiting game.

Just thought I’d let you in on the background noise.

And so…

38 Journey Map 1.jpg

Day #20

Out of the Trollclaws at last, the weather is better- a warm breeze, and no rain- there’s an air of relief about the caravan, they’re through the mountains, although ahead is another ten days or so travelling through the Fields of the Dead.

Lux (Human Warlock) makes a new friend, she bewitches one of the could-be Cultists, Lasmeer a Half-Elf also employed as a Guard on Beyd’s Beer Wagon. The two are in cahoots for much of the day, Lux is very interested in everything that Lasmeer mentions, at the end of the day he thinks he’s in with a chance.

Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric), on the other hand, is having to field questions of his own- when Lasmeer is not making eyes at Lux the Half-Elf Guard is subtly trying to find out about Lummins’ past, present and/or abilities, after witnessing the Priest of Lathander spray around Scorching Rays (vs the Perytons). Once or twice the Cleric gets close to losing his cool, and then foolishly let’s slip the fact he is an ordained Priest of Lathander- which just leads to more questions, like why the hell are you working as a Guard on a merchant caravan?

Handily Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter & Guard Master) shows up and talks at the trio (Lux, Lasmeer & Lummins) in an effort to deflect the Cultist’s enquiries, it works- a bit, the guy is still mighty suspicious.

That however is the only action (the Players are doing less), the caravan at the end of the day makes it at last to Troll’s Den, a fortified roadhouse and inn, also home to a contingent of Road Wardens. Rest and relaxation at last.

Day #21

The Troll’s Den.

Sgt Bobby (Guard Master) calls a meeting at which all Guards and Teamsters must attend, the topic- protocols if and when the caravan comes under attack, as with the Perytons. The talk is dull, but semi-informative, however the true purpose of the chat doesn’t become apparent until later- first the Guards are dismissed, Bobby (and a couple of the other PCs) want to chat some more with the Teamsters.

Then when the meeting with the Teamsters is about done several of the Brother of the First Light make a bee-line for any and all of the Teamsters employed on the Cult caravans. The PCs have brainstormed a new approach, the Teamsters (they presume) are not Cultists, they could however have vital information, things that they have overheard.

Again, there are mixed results, Lummins messes up again- frustrated the Priest of Lathander ends up shouting the odds at the Teamster he has paired with, it doesn’t go down well. Lux on the other hand (and again) has her guy eating out of her hands, and with spectacular results.

At the end of the rest day the Brothers are certain that the Teamsters are all hired hands, that the Guards on the Cult wagons are all ‘dodgy’ and that a guy called Trodd, a Guard on the first Cult wagon (#3 in the caravan) is in charge. Another Guard called him “Claw” and was reprimanded on the spot for doing so… oh and the Cultists are definitely going all the way to Waterdeep, and possibly beyond.

A good day for detectivising, except for Lummins who by the end of the day is now obviously being watched like a hawk by several could-be Cultists.

Note, the three traumatised farmer’s kids that were formerly pretending to be experienced adventurers are let off the caravan at the Troll’s Den, as is Gamsy (the Cultist who stole from Sgt Harald (Dwarf Fighter)) who is handed over to the Road Wardens.

Day #22

On the road again and in to the Fields of the Dead.

Or rather the caravan should-be except for the fact that the area surrounding the Troll’s Den, on all sides- and for as far as the eye can see, is covered with small purple fungi, there are actually millions upon millions of them. What’s worse several early risers at the Troll’s Den have been outside and interacted with the fungi- i.e. kicked a few over, the fungi reacted by emitting a moaning and/or screeching noise (although quietly)- as if dying. Worse still all of those that have been outside now find themselves… well, feeling low- teary and depressed, also a bit panicked.

News travels fast in the Troll’s Den, soon after all of the inhabitants of the place are atop the walls to witness the terrible sight. Eventually, after much chatter, Sgt Bobby (Guard Master) & Achreny (Caravan Master) head out to examine the phenomena first hand, Derek Pilch (the Druid, remember) tags along.

Sgt Bobby repeats the experiment, eventually clearing a swathe of the fungi with a scythe- the fungi do indeed moan a bit, like air-escaping, but Sgt Bobby is ‘not that bothered’. He continues to clear a path, Achreny however is clearly anxious and on-edge, with his hands clamped over his ears he quickly flees the scene.

And so, Sgt Bobby cuts a path, right up until the moment that Derek Pilch finishes his examination of the fungi- he is certain that they are highly toxic, and quite possibly magical in nature, he pronounces the land surrounding the Troll’s Den cursed.

And so, for all our good intentions to move our journey forward quickly we come very swiftly to a dead halt.

And before we start let me just add that Derek rolled a ‘1’ for his Nature check, the DM then rolled his random what happens next D20, and what do you know- me and Derek got snake eyes ‘1’ & ‘1’.

Bring on the chaos.

This is what happens over the next 8 hours (in game, just over an hour in around-the-table-real-world time)-

1) At least half-a-dozen would-be doom-merchants wildly and loudly speculate as to what terror the fungi represent, all of the myriad theories end in the death of all of those within the Troll’s Den.

2) Mass panic takes hold, briefly… Lux manages to calm a chunk of the populace down with a stirring speech.

3) Derek Pilch however is certain and loud- the fungi out there are killers, and Jackie (egged on by the dastardly DM- me) is loving the doomsayer-stuff, and rolling very high on her Persuasion checks, much to the delight (no really) of her fellow Players.

4) The panic and the doomsayers crank up the volume again, basically it’s the end of the world- the fungi are coming to get us!

5) Sgt Bobby, if anyone is interested, continues to protest (while still clearing a path) that there’s nothing wrong with the fungi, only they just make a funny noise when you uproot/kill them.

6) A fight (of sorts) breaks out back at the Troll’s Den, it was inevitable really- just a punch up and a bit of pushing and shoving, accompanied by cries of “We’re all doomed!” Nobody much gets hurt, although Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk) roundhouse kicks a couple of stable lads in to early next week.

7) I’m laughing like a drain at times, and Jackie is not far behind- several of the other Players (actually just Sandy) have yet to see the funny side of things.

8) Lux and Lummins in combo manage to calm the crowd (yet again), it is however agreed that no-one is going outside.

9) Four different factions (pick your favourite doom-monger) head off to different areas of the Troll’s Den compound to pump up the panic.

10) Note the Cultists effectively constitute one of these factions, they’re mostly sticking together but are also a bit panicked.

11) Sgt Bobby eventually convinces a bunch of Road Wardens to help him clear the path, one of the fellows runs back to the Troll’s Den, but the others grab scythes and get on with it- a little later the road-clearers stuff rags in their ears.

12) Later still, when nobody Cult-shaped is about to see, Lummins conjures a Flaming Sphere and adopts a scorched earth policy, he enjoys himself immensely.

13) Soon after the road ahead is clear, the fungi themselves look to be growing back but…

14) More stirring speeches are made to the various groups and factions, basically- the way ahead is clear, let’s get the caravan going again. Not everyone is convinced.

15) The above message is given a new twist, let’s get out while we can- which brings new energy to the brand.

16) Eight or so hours behind schedule the caravan departs the Troll’s Den, as do the Road Wardens.

And, at last, we’re back on the road again.

The rest of the day, such as it is, is without incident- everyone, but especially Derek Pilch, keeps very quiet about what just happened.

Although Jackie is still laughing about it. How to make a ‘1’ work for you.

Eventually…

Day #23

The Fields of the Dead, the weather is fine and there are no encounters or incidents.

The PCs continue to nose around the Cultist wagons, but a sort of truce has been called, the Players just want to get on, to make up time.

Day #24

The Fields of the Dead and another easy day, and an inn in sight at the end of it- The Red Fox, complete with compound, stables et al- ideal, particularly as it has been raining all day, on and off- more ‘on’ than ‘off’ at the moment.

The Red Fox is a big inn, room enough for everyone you would think, which is the case until four boorish tough guys start shouting the odds (four Veterans, they’re harder than you think), Sgt Bobby (obviously) takes exception and reprimands them, this doesn’t go down well. Sgt Harald (also obviously) is quickly to the flash point, he’s particularly assiduous- he brings the flash point with him.

37 Punch Up.jpg

It gets to a punch up, although (and slightly oddly) the other three PCs in the encounter (Lummins, Watt (Human Bard) & Lux) decide to leave the fighting to the two Sgt’s figuring they can take down the four surly fellows. How wrong they are… thirty seconds of slugfest later and of the four attackers one is about to collapse, another is hurting, while the last two are still as fresh as daisies. The two Sgt’s however are both bruised and bloodied- it’s a proper rumble.

Which is why Lummins, Watt & Lux have to help out.

Lux, not wanting to use any obvious spells gets her Shillelagh out and starts breaking heads, she’s not a great melee combatant however. Watt settles for insulting the attackers with some of his patented Vicious Mockery (Is that your hair, or is your head unravelling?), while Lummins supplies secret Healing Words.

The party of five adventurers are trying desperately not to look like a party of five adventurers.

The Sgt’s take down two of the four rough men, but then Sgt Bobby is knocked unconscious with a head-butt to the face (although seconds later back he’s on his feet thanks to Lummins). Lux batters Sgt Bobby’s attacker from behind- and sends the fellow running for the door. The last bad guy standing, very soon after, also takes to his heels.

The fight is won, and the crowd (mostly) cheers, although…

Reg Winkle, the owner of The Red Fox, is not happy and tries to chuck the two Sgt’s out of the inn- Lux comes to the rescue with some fine words, and a fair display of cleavage. Reg Winkle changes his mind, as it turns out there’s room at the inn for all of the Brothers of the First Light, and for the rest of the caravan.

A degree of normalcy returns, and everyone gets a good night’s rest, although Sgt Bobby has a sore nose, cheekbone, ear, both fists… he took a spectacular beating.

Day #25 to #27

Out of the Fields of the Dead, and on to the Trade Way at last, en route to civilisation.

We skipped through a few days in double quick time, with no encounters on the road to hamper the PCs, and their investigations are much limited.

The Players are still plotting on the other side of the DMs screen, they’ve figured out who the leader of the Cultists is- Trodd, a Dragonclaw (most likely) travelling on the lead Cult wagon. The plan is they’re going to kidnap the guy as soon as they can and pump him for information, if they can do this in a large town or city- best bet being Daggerford, they can also contact some of their faction acquaintances and perhaps even disappear the Cultist.

The problem with their plan, which they have (thankfully) already thought of, and are discussing- extensively, is they’re not sure what questions they are going to ask Trodd, or else what information he will have that will be worth their efforts.

And so, we go on, on the Trade Way, and all the way to the ruins of Castle Dragonspear and the makeshift settlement that has built up near it. The ruined castle is being repaired, although in a haphazard sort of way, clearly money for the project has ebbed and flowed, rather than being a steady stream.

39 Journey Map 2.jpg

Day #28

Dragonspear.

The caravan makes camp just outside of the settlement and spends a rest day with easy access to a few of the ‘everyday’ facilities they’ve been missing- including a tent tavern, and a small market with a variety of local traders (mostly produce), and a few other amenities.

A little light investigation, although we’re skipping forward with our story- the Players spend a bit of coin to acquire much needed luxuries for the road ahead, other than that… time passes swiftly until they’re on the road again.

DMs Interlude- I tried to find an up to date internet page to say what exists at Dragonspear, I couldn’t, therefore we’ll skip over this bit- I explained this to the Players. Is there anything out there?

Day #29 to #31

On the road to Daggerford, investigations continue, the Players have their kidnap plan prepared but are still reluctant to commit.

Easy travel, with other caravans and wanderers also using the road, in both directions- the weather is better, and the mood is good. With the PCs investigations reduced to minimal then the Cultists also reduce their watchfulness. Lummins and Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) are no longer being followed everywhere they go.

It’s very easy-going, that is until Day #32, but that’s in the next session.

The caravan at present-

Wagon #1 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Achreny Caravan Master & Sgt Bobby Guard Master + Ralph Little (Male Halfling) Teamster + Eldkin Agetul (Female Dwarf) Guard + Leda Widris (Female Human) Guard + Aldor Urnpolehurst (Male Human) Passenger- a dodgy lawyer.

Wagon #2 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Dalton Fix (Male Halfling) Teamster + Ren Stubby (Male Halfling) Teamster + Orvustia Esseren (Female Human) Guard + Sulsedeg the Pole (Male Human) Guard (Very Tall) + Dort (Male Human) Passenger (100% CULT) + Chiggly Vonn (Female Human) Passenger (100% CULT).

Wagon #3 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Rand Dupe (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Dirk Trumble (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Dragonclaw Trodd (Male Human) Cult Guard- in charge + Flerk (Male Half-Orc) Cult Guard - NO PASSENGERS.

Wagon #4 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Riley Bishoo (Male Half-Elf) Teamster (0% CULT) + Tel Munn (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Rem (Male Human) Cult Guard + Yad (Male Human) Cult Guard - NO PASSENGERS.

Wagon #5 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Greg Spockle (Male Halfling) Teamster (0% CULT) + Reg Trotter (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Gurp (Male Half-Orc) Cult Guard + Grelda (Female Half-Orc) Cult Guard - NO PASSENGERS.

Wagon #6 Owner: Samardag the Hoper (Male Human). Cargo: Porcelain. On board- Samardag Wagon Master & Watt Samardag’s Old/NEW Bodyguard + Gond Bagshaw (Male Gnome) Teamster + Sgt Harald Guard + Trell (Male Human) (75% CULT).

Wagon #7 Owner: Lasfelro the Silent (Male Human). Cargo: Unknown? On board- Lasfelro Wagon Master + Gargoyle + Wererond (Female Human) Teamster + Tyjit (Female Dwarf) Guard + Tardol (Male Half-Orc) (100% CULT) + Hotlips Houlihan Passenger + Green Imsa (Female Human) Passenger- with green skin!

Wagon #8 Owner: Oyn Evermor (Male Human). Cargo: Exotic Birds. On board- Oyn Wagon Master + Enom Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Hard Bonk Guard + Garlik (Male Human) (100% CULT) + Lint Fermund (Male Half-Elf) (75% CULT).

Wagon #9 Owner: Beyd Sechepol (Male Half-Elf). Cargo: Beer. On board- Beyd Wagon Master & Lummins Beyd’s Bodyguard + Losvius Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Lux Guard + Lasmeer (Male Half-Elf) (100% CULT) Guard + Radecere (Male Gnome) Passenger (75% CULT).

Wagon #10 Owner: Ralf Hopscotch (Male Human). Cargo: Lumber. On board- Ralf Wagon Master + Phineas (Male Human) Guard + Foldor (Male Human) Guard- both somewhat terrified by events.

In addition, there are now nine other folk travelling independently, but with the caravan, on their own mounts, including Derek Pilch, Sir Lumsden F’Tang & his two retainers (a Knight and a Wizard)- (all 0% CULT).

More next time.
 
Last edited:

Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Session #29 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #15 I’m Too Sexy.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 4
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 4
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 4
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 4

Secondary PCs.
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 4
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 4
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 4
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 4


Note, this is session #29 of our game but only session #15 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

Still on the road to Waterdeep, keeping an eye on the Cultist wagons, and at the same time trying to discover the Cultists disguised as passengers et al, while staying undercover themselves.

The Players are still talking between sessions of kidnapping the leader of the Cultist Guards (Dragonclaw Trodd) and interrogating and/or disappearing him with the help of their factions, this plan may or may not be put in to action in Daggerford. They’re still debating whether this is the right way to go.

And this is the new/old/updated look of the caravan-

Wagon #1 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Achreny Caravan Master & Sgt Bobby Guard Master + Ralph Little (Male Halfling) Teamster + Eldkin Agetul (Female Dwarf) Guard + Leda Widris (Female Human) Guard + Aldor Urnpolehurst (Male Human) Passenger- a dodgy lawyer.

Wagon #2 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Dalton Fix (Male Halfling) Teamster + Ren Stubby (Male Halfling) Teamster + Orvustia Esseren (Female Human) Guard + Sulsedeg the Pole (Male Human) Guard (Very Tall) + Dort (Male Human) Passenger (100% CULT) + Chiggly Vonn (Female Human) Passenger (100% CULT).

Wagon #3 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Rand Dupe (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Dirk Trumble (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Dragonclaw Trodd (Male Human) Cult Guard- in charge + Flerk (Male Half-Orc) Cult Guard - NO PASSENGERS.

Wagon #4 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Riley Bishoo (Male Half-Elf) Teamster (0% CULT) + Tel Munn (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Rem (Male Human) Cult Guard + Yad (Male Human) Cult Guard - NO PASSENGERS.

Wagon #5 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Greg Spockle (Male Halfling) Teamster (0% CULT) + Reg Trotter (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Gurp (Male Half-Orc) Cult Guard + Grelda (Female Half-Orc) Cult Guard - NO PASSENGERS.

Wagon #6 Owner: Samardag the Hoper (Male Human). Cargo: Porcelain. On board- Samardag Wagon Master & Watt Samardag’s Old/NEW Bodyguard + Gond Bagshaw (Male Gnome) Teamster + Sgt Harald Guard + Trell (Male Human) (75% CULT).

Wagon #7 Owner: Lasfelro the Silent (Male Human). Cargo: Unknown? On board- Lasfelro Wagon Master + Gargoyle + Wererond (Female Human) Teamster + Tyjit (Female Dwarf) Guard + Tardol (Male Half-Orc) (100% CULT) + Hotlips Houlihan Passenger + Green Imsa (Female Human) Passenger- with green skin!

Wagon #8 Owner: Oyn Evermor (Male Human). Cargo: Exotic Birds. On board- Oyn Wagon Master + Enom Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Hard Bonk Guard + Garlik (Male Human) (100% CULT) + Lint Fermund (Male Half-Elf) (75% CULT).

Wagon #9 Owner: Beyd Sechepol (Male Half-Elf). Cargo: Beer. On board- Beyd Wagon Master & Lummins Beyd’s Bodyguard + Losvius Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Lux Guard + Lasmeer (Male Half-Elf) (100% CULT) Guard + Radecere (Male Gnome) Passenger (75% CULT).

Wagon #10 Owner: Ralf Hopscotch (Male Human). Cargo: Lumber. On board- Ralf Wagon Master + Phineas (Male Human) Guard + Foldor (Male Human) Guard.

In addition, there are now nine other folk travelling independently, but with the caravan, on their own mounts, including Derek Pilch (Human Druid), Sir Lumsden F’Tang & his two retainers (a Knight and a Wizard)- (all 0% CULT).

39 Journey Map 2.jpg

Day #32

On the Trade Way to Daggerford, although the next stop of any note will be The Way Inn (a few days up the road yet). All is well with the caravan, and the weather is fine, they’re making good time. Fortune favours the travellers, a large herd of deer breaks cover and rushes across the road, there are maybe a hundred of the animals, and they’re almost all within bow shot.

The caravan instantly stirs and a dozen, or more, bows (and other missile weapons- although no Eldritch Blasts) are swiftly in to action, several of the animals are shot down, the caravan will eat well tonight.

Then the last animal crosses the road, and at a stately pace, a massive stag with a full rack, the great beast’s coat seems to reflect the sun, it has (seemingly) a pelt of shimmering gold. The sight is enough to stop all attacks, at least for a moment- at which point half-a-dozen (at least) members of the caravan abandon their duties and are swiftly in pursuit of the beast.

The hunt is on…

Derek Pilch (the Druid, played by Jackie) is not happy at the thought of the magnificent beast’s slaughter, he too is in pursuit- and soon after assumes the form of a young and healthy stag- he moves very swiftly, quickly outpacing the other pursuers. However, he is hampered slightly when hit by an arrow to the flank- they’re hunting him.

The other members of the Brothers of the First Light (Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric), Lux (Human Warlock), Watt (Human Bard) & Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter)) also join the chase, more concerned for Derek Pilch’s safety than the quarry- the Golden Stag.

Lux’s rush in to the woods is short-lived, she trips on a tree branch and still within sight of the caravan, is left sprawled on the floor (‘1’, Sandy’s dice are still broken). Sgt Bobby also cannot keep up with the pack, the pair wander back to the caravan.

Remarkably Watt is soon ahead of the chasing pack, although still not keeping pace with either of the stags, the pair eventually get away from their pursuers.

Then an odd thing, the last two chasers pull up and admit defeat in a clearing- they are Watt, and (Dragonclaw) Trodd. The pair chat for a while on the way back to the caravan, and with a little help from a Friends cantrip, by the time they get back to wagons they’re on first name terms and chummy.

We’ll get back to the caravan in a moment, all is not well there…

But first Derek and the Golden Stag- the great beast eventually comes to a halt in a dappled glade (where else would it stop) and then turns to the Druid, who seconds later returns to his Human body. The Golden Stag greets the Druid in Sylvan, which Derek doesn’t understand, eventually switching to a heavily accented, pidgin Common, which is Derek’s natural tongue. The Golden Stag assures Derek that he and his companions are on the right track, and that they must continue to follow the river of gold (translated later: the Cult loot) until they reach the castle in the sky (Oh!). Sadly, their path will be filled with hardship and blood. But to aid them, it offers Derek a Grey Bag of Tricks- and explains its use. The magical bag appears on the ground before the Druid, at which point the Golden Stag fades from view, it’s last words no more than a whisper, "Not all will survive ..."

Obviously, the above message is discussed at great length later by the Players, but for now let’s get back to the caravan.

The reason the deer initially rushed across the road, and in to the path of the caravan, was because a bunch of Ettercap and Giant Spiders were herding them (or else chasing them) in that direction. The deer (most of them) escape the Ettercap et al, the caravan however is not so lucky… and there are only three adventurers available to defend it, for now.

40 Spiders & Ettercap.jpg

Fortunately, Sgt Harald (Dwarf Fighter) is doing his job, the Dwarf spots the Ettercaps as they break cover and screams a warning. Battle is joined moments later. A pair of Ettercaps are quickly to the horses pulling the lead wagon, cutting the struggling (and now panicking) beasts free of their harnesses, up in the trees a pair of Giant Spiders shoot webs down on to the first two wagons, in the process Restraining many of the wagon’s riders.

Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) shoots one of the Ettercaps attacking the horses, and then scurries under the lead wagon and in to Hiding, Sgt Harald goes after the same beast and smashes it hard with his warhammer (after a ‘1’ followed by an Action Surge), the Ettercap is badly wounded. Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk) meanwhile goes all chop-socky on the second Ettercap, also badly wounding the creature.

The ambushers are not having an easy time of it.

To make matters worse for my bad guys Lux is now back to the caravan.

The Ettercap facing Hard Bonk fights back (and I roll ‘20’ twice in a row), seconds later the Half-Orc Monk is pretty beat up and bloodied. Lux hits back- firing an Eldritch Blast in to the beast, it too is bloodied.

The two Giant Spiders in the trees continue to fire webs down in to the melee, miraculously they both fail repeatedly to net Sgt Harald. Hotlips, still under the wagon fires a crossbow bolt in to one of the two Ettercaps trying to release the horses, both of these creatures are almost broken, one tries to flee and is smashed down by Sgt Harald.

Seconds later however a third Ettercap rushes out of the woods, surprising Sgt Harald and Biting the Dwarf, he shrugs off the hurt and pounds the beast with his warhammer.

Hard Bonk meantime sweeps the legs of the already badly wounded Ettercap, and stamps on the Spider-bastard a while, it lives- but only just (on 1 HP). The creature rolls and writhes and then jumps back to its feet and scurries for the tree-line, it makes it to safety- Hard Bonk is way off target with his Opportunity Attack.

There’s only one wounded Ettercap left in the fight, and the two Giant Spiders still in the trees (both of which have not hit once), although the Spiders are not in the fight for long- Lux fires a Shatter spell in to the canopy, catching both of the beasts in its compass, the wounded Giant Spiders have seen enough, seconds later they also flee the scene.

Hotlips fires another crossbow bolt in to the last Ettercap standing, which is now bloodied, it flees and is smashed in the back by Sgt Harald but manages still to scurry back in to the forest.

The five adventurers (Sgt Bobby turns up at this point, better late than never) briefly chase the fleeing creatures. The caravan however is saved, and Sgt Harald is the obvious hero of the action (which is a switch-around). The webs are cleared from the wagons as eventually the Golden Stag’s pursuers trickle back to their respective caravans.

At the end of the day Sgt Bobby, and Sgt Harald (with Derek Pilch in tow, mostly in the background glaring evily at people) visit with the six-or-so individuals that abandoned their posts in pursuit of the Golden Stag. Basically, its bollockings all round.

The caravan however, goes on…

Day #33 to #35

All is well with the world, the caravan is still on the Trade Way, en route to Daggerford, the weather is fine and the going is good. The adventurers do a little light prying (however not much- we’re moving quickly again), but no new information of any substance is discovered.

The last day is a rest day, Watt spends time with Dragonclaw Trodd, the two are becoming good friends, it seems the Dragonclaw has a past- a hunter until something bad happened to his family. Watt will continue to dig to see what he can find out, perhaps they don’t need to kidnap the guy, perhaps they can turn him to the Light.

Perhaps…

Day #36

On the Trade Way still, approaching the Way Inn where the caravan will stay the night, the oddity comes early in the day.

As the caravan rounds a bend in the road, a human head can be seen sitting in the middle of the road a hundred yards ahead. It’s actually a male Human buried up to his neck, unconscious but still alive. Sgt Bobby is first on the scene, the man has "Oathbreaker" painted on his forehead and is in bad shape- exposure and dehydration.

Sgt Bobby orders the caravan to halt and the feller to be revived and dug-out of the ground, there follows a bit of lively chatter as some of the merchants (and others) are not sure that this is a wise move, but Sgt Bobby insists. During the operation the man is revived with water and surreptitious healing provided by Lummins. The fellow, Carlon, in slow stages, tells his story- he was supposed to marry a woman only he discovered the family he was joining were desperate criminals. He broke his promise to the woman, terrified at the prospect of marrying in to the family- he fled, and was chased down to the Way Inn, and from there kidnapped by the woman’s brothers- beaten and buried up to his neck.

Not everyone is convinced by the story, particularly Lummins whose Zone of Truth is telling him the fellow is lying. However, the disguised Priest of Lathander notes when he examines him that Carlon has a Harper image tattooed on his arm, Lummins is also Harper- he therefore ignores the results of his Zone of Truth, at least until later…

Later at the Way Inn, and after Lummins has informed his colleagues about the situation, he and Lux get an extended chat with the fellow. Carlon tells the truth- he too was following a caravan full of Cultist loot heading north, only he was less successful, the Cultists discovered him and accused him of passing information on to known bandits (a fabricated story to make him look bad), only the other merchants on the caravan prevented them from killing him. The merchants could not persuade the Cultists to take Carlon on to the Way Inn, eventually they agreed to bury Carlon in the road to allow the God’s to decide his fate.

And here he is…

Carlon is also able to introduce the adventurers to his Harper contact at the Way Inn, a barmaid called Rachael, a secret meeting is arranged and attended- information is shared, Carlon’s caravan story is very similar to the PCs experiences. At the end of the chatter the PCs are pretty much convinced that their kidnap plan will not be needed, they just need to be patient until the end of the journey.

Day #37 to #39

Still on the Trade Way, through to the village of Bowshot, only two days short of Daggerford, which signals the start of the last leg to Waterdeep.

The adventurers (and many others from the caravan) spend a lively night in the Bowshot Inn, the place is jumping, mainly due to the fact that at present Bowshot is home to at least three dozen prospectors and would-be miners, silver has been found in the hills hereabouts.

The evening is raucous, with Watt (mostly) leading the charge- the Bard is on-song, even Sir Lumsden gets up to dance with Lux. A joyously drunken celebration of life… which turns to terror later on.

Watt makes a friend, Arietta- a buxom wench of easy virtue who he takes to his bed for the night, several hours later the Bowshot Inn is roused from its (mostly) drunken slumber by the Bard. Arietta, mid-ahem-congress, attempts to strangle Watt, what’s worse the beautiful woman’s features change, mid-throttle, to mirror the Bard’s own visage and physique.

Watt manages (somehow) not to panic, bloodied already and still being choked, he escapes Arietta’s grasp and then gasps out the words to a spell- his Shatter spell wrecks the room (and awakens the inn’s inhabitants in the process). The spell also knocks the wind out of Arietta who however quickly recovers and escapes through the window, seconds later an Invisible and naked Watt is after her.

The Bard eventually reveals himself, in all of his tumescent glory, when he once again sights a scurrying Arietta and hits her with his Dissonant Whispers- Arietta flees in to the dark and wilds- now badly wounded. Watt is thus discovered by the newly awoken inhabitants of the inn (he’s visible again) aroused and in the buff- he etches this moment permanently in to the brain of all of those observing him by breaking in to an impromptu rendition of “I’m Too Sexy” (Right Said Fred- look it up if you don’t know it). Many of the eyewitnesses are very keen to comfort Watt.

Eventually the inn returns to normality, and then to slumber.

However, after the humour comes a little more terror, in the morning the body of Dragonclaw Trodd is discovered in the yard of the inn- neck broken, the last anyone remembers is a tipsy Trodd also taking a young woman back to his private room.

Close call for Watt, but what was Arietta?

DM Interlude- she was a Doppelganger, as was ‘her sister’ Zelina, who killed and robbed Trodd.

Eventually the caravan moves on, although the Cult wagons are experiencing a little confusion, they seem to lack direction- funny that.

The journey however will continue in the next session.

And this is the new/old/updated look of the caravan-

Wagon #1 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Achreny Caravan Master & Sgt Bobby Guard Master + Ralph Little (Male Halfling) Teamster + Eldkin Agetul (Female Dwarf) Guard + Leda Widris (Female Human) Guard + Aldor Urnpolehurst (Male Human) Passenger- a dodgy lawyer.

Wagon #2 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Dalton Fix (Male Halfling) Teamster + Ren Stubby (Male Halfling) Teamster + Orvustia Esseren (Female Human) Guard + Sulsedeg the Pole (Male Human) Guard (Very Tall) + Dort (Male Human) Passenger (100% CULT) + Chiggly Vonn (Female Human) Passenger (100% CULT).

Wagon #3 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Rand Dupe (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Dirk Trumble (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Dragonclaw Trodd (Male Human) Cult Guard- in charge DECEASED + Flerk (Male Half-Orc) Cult Guard - NO PASSENGERS.

Wagon #4 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Riley Bishoo (Male Half-Elf) Teamster (0% CULT) + Tel Munn (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Rem (Male Human) Cult Guard + Yad (Male Human) Cult Guard - NO PASSENGERS.

Wagon #5 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Greg Spockle (Male Halfling) Teamster (0% CULT) + Reg Trotter (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Gurp (Male Half-Orc) Cult Guard + Grelda (Female Half-Orc) Cult Guard - NO PASSENGERS.

Wagon #6 Owner: Samardag the Hoper (Male Human). Cargo: Porcelain. On board- Samardag Wagon Master & Watt Samardag’s Old/NEW Bodyguard + Gond Bagshaw (Male Gnome) Teamster + Sgt Harald Guard + Trell (Male Human) (100% CULT).

Wagon #7 Owner: Lasfelro the Silent (Male Human). Cargo: Unknown? On board- Lasfelro Wagon Master + Gargoyle + Wererond (Female Human) Teamster + Tyjit (Female Dwarf) Guard + Tardol (Male Half-Orc) (100% CULT) + Hotlips Houlihan Passenger + Green Imsa (Female Human) Passenger- with green skin!

Wagon #8 Owner: Oyn Evermor (Male Human). Cargo: Exotic Birds. On board- Oyn Wagon Master + Enom Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Hard Bonk Guard + Garlik (Male Human) (100% CULT) + Lint Fermund (Male Half-Elf) (100% CULT).

Wagon #9 Owner: Beyd Sechepol (Male Half-Elf). Cargo: Beer. On board- Beyd Wagon Master & Lummins Beyd’s Bodyguard + Losvius Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Lux Guard + Lasmeer (Male Half-Elf) (100% CULT) Guard + Radecere (Male Gnome) Passenger (25% CULT).

Wagon #10 Owner: Ralf Hopscotch (Male Human). Cargo: Lumber. On board- Ralf Wagon Master + Phineas (Male Human) Guard + Foldor (Male Human) Guard + Carlon (Male Human) Passenger- Harper contact.

In addition, there are now nine other folk travelling independently, but with the caravan, on their own mounts, including Derek Pilch, Sir Lumsden F’Tang & his two retainers (a Knight and a Wizard)- (all 0% CULT).

More next time… we’re getting close.
 
Last edited:

Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Session #30 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #16 Dead Before Waterdeep.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 4
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 4
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 4
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 4

Secondary PCs.
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 4
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 4
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 4
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 4


Note, this is session #30 of our game but only session #16 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

Still on the road to Waterdeep, the caravan is approaching Daggerford.

The plan to kidnap Dragonclaw Trodd and interrogate him is obviously off the table, Trodd is dead and the Cult wagons are struggling to cope- lacking direction.

And this is the new/old/updated look of the caravan-

Wagon #1 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Achreny Caravan Master & Sgt Bobby Guard Master + Ralph Little (Male Halfling) Teamster + Eldkin Agetul (Female Dwarf) Guard + Leda Widris (Female Human) Guard + Aldor Urnpolehurst (Male Human) Passenger- a dodgy lawyer.

Wagon #2 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Dalton Fix (Male Halfling) Teamster + Ren Stubby (Male Halfling) Teamster + Orvustia Esseren (Female Human) Guard + Sulsedeg the Pole (Male Human) Guard (Very Tall) + Dort (Male Human) Passenger (100% CULT) + Chiggly Vonn (Female Human) Passenger (100% CULT).

Wagon #3 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Rand Dupe (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Dirk Trumble (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Dragonclaw Trodd (Male Human) Cult Guard- in charge DECEASED + Flerk (Male Half-Orc) Cult Guard - NO PASSENGERS.

Wagon #4 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Riley Bishoo (Male Half-Elf) Teamster (0% CULT) + Tel Munn (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Rem (Male Human) Cult Guard + Yad (Male Human) Cult Guard - NO PASSENGERS.

Wagon #5 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Greg Spockle (Male Halfling) Teamster (0% CULT) + Reg Trotter (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Gurp (Male Half-Orc) Cult Guard + Grelda (Female Half-Orc) Cult Guard - NO PASSENGERS.

Wagon #6 Owner: Samardag the Hoper (Male Human). Cargo: Porcelain. On board- Samardag Wagon Master & Watt Samardag’s Old/NEW Bodyguard + Gond Bagshaw (Male Gnome) Teamster + Sgt Harald Guard + Trell (Male Human) (100% CULT).

Wagon #7 Owner: Lasfelro the Silent (Male Human). Cargo: Unknown? On board- Lasfelro Wagon Master + Gargoyle + Wererond (Female Human) Teamster + Tyjit (Female Dwarf) Guard + Tardol (Male Half-Orc) (100% CULT) + Hotlips Houlihan Passenger + Green Imsa (Female Human) Passenger- with green skin!

Wagon #8 Owner: Oyn Evermor (Male Human). Cargo: Exotic Birds. On board- Oyn Wagon Master + Enom Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Hard Bonk Guard + Garlik (Male Human) (100% CULT) + Lint Fermund (Male Half-Elf) (100% CULT).

Wagon #9 Owner: Beyd Sechepol (Male Half-Elf). Cargo: Beer. On board- Beyd Wagon Master & Lummins Beyd’s Bodyguard + Losvius Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Lux Guard + Lasmeer (Male Half-Elf) (100% CULT) Guard + Radecere (Male Gnome) Passenger (25% CULT).

Wagon #10 Owner: Ralf Hopscotch (Male Human). Cargo: Lumber. On board- Ralf Wagon Master + Phineas (Male Human) Guard + Foldor (Male Human) Guard + Carlon (Male Human) Passenger- Harper contact.

In addition, there are now nine other folk travelling independently, but with the caravan, on their own mounts, including Derek Pilch (Human Druid), Sir Lumsden F’Tang & his two retainers (a Knight and a Wizard)- (all 0% CULT).

39 Journey Map 2.jpg

Day #40 to #41

On the Trade Way again, on to Daggerford- and so it goes, no encounters and good weather. Other than the ructions on and around the three Cult wagons, with Guards arguing with Teamsters and vice-versa, the travel is easy.

The Players, every now and then, are trying to help the Cultists out- offering advice and chivvying the gang along- they’re also laughing behind their hands, observing the Cult’s trials and tribulations, all the way to Daggerford where things change.

Day #42

41 Daggerford.png

Daggerford and a rest day, but there’s lots to do, the PCs achieve the following-

a) A variety of PCs meet with a variety of faction contacts, info is given and received, as is advice- keep watching, keep waiting- don’t upset the order of things, everyone wants to find out where the loot is going.

b) Several of the sneakier PCs (mostly Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) & Watt (Human Bard)) keep an around-the-clock eye on the Cultists, and here’s the thing- the Cultists have got their own contacts in Daggerford. A hooded and robed figure is spotted on and around the Cult wagons. Best guess the guy’s a Male Human- and clearly, he’s now in charge. This is actually Azbara Jos, a hired hand (sorta) and Red Wizard of Thay; Azbara doesn’t want to be in charge of the Cult contingent but they need leadership and he’s the man on the spot.

c) A variety of PCs spend money on topping up their equipment, a couple of them are stocking up on Healing Potions, this after burning through their stock previously, smart cookies.

Ralf Hopscotch (Wagon #10) and everyone on board of his wagon leaves the caravan.

Last bit of news- Jamna Gleamsilver, a Female Gnome, joins the caravan, a passenger on Beyd’s Beer wagon- also on this wagon are Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) and Lux (Human Warlock), the pair attempt a bit of chat with Jamna, she seems to be pleasant enough. Is the Gnome a Cultist? The Players suspect as much, but then again they think everyone is a Cultist.

Day #43

Back on the Trade Way, the last leg to Waterdeep, the weather is fine and the road, in places, is packed with travellers moving between the two large settlements, there’s plenty of trade it seems.

The PCs keep an eye on the Cult wagons, things are still a little haphazard but certainly an improvement on previous, the robed male in charge (Azbara Jos) doesn’t leave the lead wagon, he’s out of sight all day, and night.

The female Gnome however- Jamna Gleamsilver, is a curious individual- Hotlips observes her getting close to the lead Cult wagon on numerous occasions, she too seems to be interested in the Cultists, and in particular (perhaps) their new leader.

The Gnome is also taking an interest in the PCs, and in particular the Brothers of the First Light (Lux, Lummins, Watt & Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter)), it may be time for a quiet chat with Jamna, according to Sgt Bobby.

Note, Jamna is a Zhentarim agent, keen to find out what the Cult of the Dragon are transporting- and equally keen to have a chat with Lux, who (remember) is also a Zhent. Prior to this session I contacted Sandy (who plays Lux) and we had an extended chat via e-mail. Some of the following events were helped along (on the down low) by Lux who unbeknownst to her fellow Players was working with me to further Jamna (and the Zhent’s) cause.

Lots of chatter from the PCs today.

Day #44

Still on the Trade Way- another easy day’s travel, and there’s time later on for several of the PCs (including Lux) to meet with Jamna Gleamsilver, the inquisitive Gnome. This after Jamna had visited with a quartet of the PCs at their breakfast, pointing out to Lux the presence of flesh-piercing slivers of bone in her morning porridge, and then casually remarking “Dragon Cultists. Tsk!” before departing.

Two things happen after Jamna departs, the first- Lux, then Lummins, and then Watt “there’s hundreds of them!” all find more ‘flesh-piercing slivers of bone’ (aka oat husks) in their porridge- the collective ire of the PCs increases dramatically. And two- Lux volunteers to ‘check out’ Jamna, and if possible arrange a meeting at her earliest convenience.

Well done Lux (Sandy).

Also, some very nice- by which I mean very low, dice rolls there- searching/identifying the ‘flesh-piercing slivers of bone’ (aka oat husks).

The PCs don’t know who Jamna is, or who she works for, but they are (mostly) certain she’s not a Cultist. That’s all it takes to convince them…

And so, to the meeting.

In short, the PCs learn that Jamna has been hired (by authorities unknown, although hints towards the Lords’ Alliance) to investigate the contents of various wagons being transported to the north by disguised Cult of the Dragon followers. Jamna says more- there have been at least half-a-dozen of these Cult cargo trains heading in this direction in the last three months, also Cult activity is on the increase in the cities of the Sword Coast…

The PCs think (helped along by Lux) that they have at last made a friend.

You might at this point be asking yourself why doesn’t Lummins cast Zone of Truth about now, he usually does.

Here’s the thing, the one thing that 90% of the time happens just prior to Lummins (played by Rob) casting Zone of Truth is this- Lux (played by Sandy, partner of Rob) states- “Cast the Truth spell, you idiot!”

Lux (Sandy) keeps schtum.

The PCs tell all, or at least every bit of the plot they can remember, including details regarding the contents of the crates (riches!). Of course, Jamna already knows all of this- Lux told her, but the Gnome acts surprised, and very grateful- she may even be able to offer some sort of future reward.

Jamna however leaves her trump card for the end- the new Cult leader, he’s a… wait for it- a Red Wizard of Thay. Cue Player explosion- fury and threats of revenge. Remember, a Red Wizard of Thay was seen Fireballing innocents all the way back in Greenest- this isn’t that guy, but… well, he’ll do.

Jamna cannot explain how and/or why a Red Wizard of Thay is working for the Dragon Cult, but she’s keen to find out- as are the PCs, now.

Note we had a chat, back in the earlier session, for Sandy and Jackie’s benefit (mostly) about who the hell the Red Wizards of Thay are, and the (potential) nastiness they represent. Rob’s summary at the time was something like- “they’re the pantomime villains you hiss at- Ming the Merciless with cranial tattoos.”

The meeting ends with promises of future info-sharing and smiles all round.

Job done Sandy.

Note the Players are desperate to know if the Red Wizard of Thay (Azbara Jos) on the caravan is the fellow they saw back in Greenest, the DM is happy to inform them that they have no idea, because a) they’ve not had a good look at Azbara yet, and perhaps more importantly, b) they also didn’t get a good look at the Red Wizard of Thay spotted in Greenest.

The Players are therefore only 85% certain that the bastard on the Cult wagon was the guy that done it. Pete (very effectively) arguing that it would be ridiculous to have two Red Wizards of Thay in the scenario… I’ll let that statement stand. He’s slipping- I thought he had read this adventure.

A good day for the PCs, a better day for the DM.

Day #45 to #48

Three more pleasant days on the Trade Way, although still no sign of the hidden Red Wizard of Thay, Hotlips and Watt have both been for an Invisible sneak-around, there’s nothing to see- the Red Wizard is not coming out.

That is until…

Day #49

Or rather very early in the AM of day #49 and all is not well with the caravan, and in particular with the Cultists, the body of Flerk, a large lump of surly Half-Orc and Cult Guard on their lead wagon, is found. Flerk is dead, stabbed in the back- uproar follows. As do the following events-

a) The Cultist Guards are up in arms- Hotlips is accused of the slaughter (the Cultist Guards hate Hotlips). Pushing and shoving with raised voices for a while.

b) The wound on Flerk was inflicted by a short sword, Hotlips has a short sword, although she never uses it because she has a +1 Rapier (Jackie is playing Hotlips like a female equivalent of a Fop or Dandy). Clamour for the Halfling’s arrest/skip-straight-to-execution increases.

c) At which point the Cultists also discover that at least one (loot) box has been broken in to and items taken. Attempts are made to forcibly search Hotlips. The Halfling eventually agrees to be searched by Sgt Bobby (Guard Master)- nothing untoward is found.

d) Impasse- lots of threats and shouting.

e) Achreny (Caravan Master), Sgt Bobby (Guard Master), and… who’s this- the new Cult leader, the Red Wizard of Thay (although his tattoos remain undercover), eventually quieten things down. There are no tracks to be found, and no evidence to suggest that Hotlips (or indeed anyone else) murdered Flerk. Nothing can be proved.

f) The incident will be reported to the authorities in Waterdeep, the caravan eventually sets off- maybe three hours late- there’s still lots of grumbling from the Cultist Guards.

g) Nearly twelve hours later the caravan arrives at Waterdeep, late evening- the PCs scramble to keep tabs on the Cultists who take their wagons and head around the city to the northern gate.

Sometime between events f) and g) several of the PCs have a chat with Jamna, basically “did you kill Flerk?”, the Gnome is also armed with a short sword, and of course she denies it, but… Lummins remembers to cast his Zone of Truth. Jamna is lying.

The PCs are not sure how they feel about this new info, in point of fact it is Lux (Sandy) that manages to head the confrontation off at the pass. Anyone that kills Cultists can’t be all bad… she argues.

And so, the caravan makes it to Waterdeep, the PCs get paid and make their hasty goodbyes to their fellow travellers- several of them (including the two Sgt’s) are offered permanent jobs, but alas have to politely decline the offers.

It’s the end of the session, almost, just a last-minute scramble by the sneakier members of the group (Hotlips & Watt) accompanied by Jamna, to follow the departing Cultists. The trio discover that the Cultists (and their loot) have moved in to a rickety old warehouse near the north gate, at least another half-dozen Cultist Guards (and others) have joined the group.

Jamna states that she is going to continue to follow the Cult cargo, to see where it goes, note she ‘states’ this- she doesn’t ask. The guys are a little wary of the killer-Gnome, but… they’re pretty certain that she’s one of the good guys, just a bit vicious with it. Popular opinion amongst the PCs is that Jamna is a nasty Thief hired by the Lords’ Alliance to follow the loot, she got greedy and decided to help herself to a few of the treasures- hence the murder.

They’re remarkably accurate, as usual, although none of them suspect that Lux and Jamna are Zhent, I don’t think anyone even mentioned the Black Network.

And that’s all we have time for (it was a fairly short session) except to level up- the journey to Waterdeep is over, the Cult cargo is still in sight, and the PCs are now all Level 5.

And this is the caravan at the end of the journey-

Wagon #1 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Achreny Caravan Master & Sgt Bobby Guard Master + Ralph Little (Male Halfling) Teamster + Eldkin Agetul (Female Dwarf) Guard + Leda Widris (Female Human) Guard + Aldor Urnpolehurst (Male Human) Passenger- a dodgy lawyer.

Wagon #2 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human). Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Dalton Fix (Male Halfling) Teamster + Ren Stubby (Male Halfling) Teamster + Orvustia Esseren (Female Human) Guard + Sulsedeg the Pole (Male Human) Guard (Very Tall) + Dort (Male Human) Passenger (100% CULT) + Chiggly Vonn (Female Human) Passenger (100% CULT).

Wagon #3 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Rand Dupe (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Dirk Trumble (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Flerk (Male Half-Orc) Cult Guard – DECEASED + Azbara Jos, Red Wizard of Thay (Male Human)- Cult leader of some sort?

Wagon #4 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Riley Bishoo (Male Half-Elf) Teamster (0% CULT) + Tel Munn (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Rem (Male Human) Cult Guard + Yad (Male Human) Cult Guard - NO PASSENGERS.

Wagon #5 Owner: Dragon Cult. Cargo: Loot? On board- Greg Spockle (Male Halfling) Teamster (0% CULT) + Reg Trotter (Male Human) Teamster (0% CULT) + Gurp (Male Half-Orc) Cult Guard + Grelda (Female Half-Orc) Cult Guard - NO PASSENGERS.

Wagon #6 Owner: Samardag the Hoper (Male Human). Cargo: Porcelain. On board- Samardag Wagon Master & Watt Samardag’s Old/NEW Bodyguard + Gond Bagshaw (Male Gnome) Teamster + Sgt Harald Guard + Trell (Male Human) (100% CULT).

Wagon #7 Owner: Lasfelro the Silent (Male Human). Cargo: Unknown? On board- Lasfelro Wagon Master + Gargoyle + Wererond (Female Human) Teamster + Tyjit (Female Dwarf) Guard + Tardol (Male Half-Orc) (100% CULT) + Hotlips Houlihan Passenger + Green Imsa (Female Human) Passenger- with green skin!

Wagon #8 Owner: Oyn Evermor (Male Human). Cargo: Exotic Birds. On board- Oyn Wagon Master + Enom Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Hard Bonk Guard + Garlik (Male Human) (100% CULT) + Lint Fermund (Male Half-Elf) (100% CULT).

Wagon #9 Owner: Beyd Sechepol (Male Half-Elf). Cargo: Beer. On board- Beyd Wagon Master & Lummins Beyd’s Bodyguard + Losvius Dark (Male Halfling) Teamster + Lux Guard + Lasmeer (Male Half-Elf) (100% CULT) Guard + Radecere (Male Gnome) Passenger (25% CULT) + Jamna Gleamsilver (Female Gnome) Passenger and fellow investigator/Cultist-killer (CULTIST 0%).

In addition, there are now nine other folk travelling independently, but with the caravan, on their own mounts, including Derek Pilch, Sir Lumsden F’Tang & his two retainers (a Knight and a Wizard)- (all 0% CULT).

Next time.
 
Last edited:

Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Session #31 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #17 Random Encounters Are Go!

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 5
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 5
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 5
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 5

Secondary PCs.
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 5
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 5
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 5
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 5


Note, this is session #31 of our game but only session #17 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

Waterdeep, the PCs and the caravan (and the Cultists) have made it to be the big city. The Cultists at present are encamped in a warehouse near the northern gate. The PCs are of course all over it- checking out faction contacts, while the sneakier members of the team are keeping a weathered eye on the Cultists.

Oh, and the PCs have a new friend- Jamna Gleamsilver, a killer-Gnome, and possible agent (or hired hand) of the Lords’ Alliance. Jamna is also keen to discover where the Cultists are taking the loot, the PCs are not entirely sure how they feel about Jamna, particularly as they’ve now had time to reflect- damn!

Jamna is a Zhent, Lux (Human Warlock) is a Zhent- and the other PCs (and Players) do not know this, oh the intrigue.

And so…

Episode 5: Construction Ahead.

First up the Cultists- Hotlips (Halfling Rogue), Watt (Human Bard) & Jamna are (mostly) on look-out, on the day after the caravan arrives in Waterdeep the Cultists start their activities, a delegation heads to the offices of the High Road Charter Company and books on to another caravan heading north, on the High Road. Oddly the new caravan is not heading to Neverwinter or Leilon, the next two cities up the Sword Coast. The caravan is instead heading to a road repair waystation called the Carnath Roadhouse, maybe 200 miles (10 days travel) further north and situated in or near the Mere of Dead Men (not a pleasant place).

The later information comes courtesy of Lux, Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) and Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) who also visit with the High Road Charter Company. The place is run by an old Guard Captain called Andrew Briferhew, who the guys befriend almost immediately. Several of the PCs also hire on as Guards- both Sgts, Lux, Lummins, Watt and Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk). Briferhew is glad to have them. Two other strange fellows also buy themselves a birth (as it were) on the caravan- a small fat man on a cantankerous pony that has seen better days, Derek Pilch (Human Druid); and a foppish young female Halfling, Hotlips Houlihan.

Note, Lux also discovers that Briferhew has hired several of the Cultist Guards for the caravan journey north.

The gang’s all here, and (obviously) looking forward to another ten days (maybe) of caravan duties, I say maybe because there’s a chance that the Cultists will turn off the trail at some point and go their own way. At least that’s what the Players are thinking at present, they’re ready for them.

What’s left of the day is spent getting in a few chats in with their various faction contacts, and here’s the news- a Half-Black Dragon (Rezmir) was seen in Waterdeep ten days previous, obviously the Cult leader was travelling incognito but the Harper’s spotted him. The spotting made all the easier by the fact that Rezmir was travelling with a retinue of at least a dozen mounted guards. Oddly, Rezmir and his men only spent a short time in the city, the entourage was last seen heading north on the High Road, the same direction the PCs and the rest of the Cultists are heading.

Funny that.

The next day the PCs renew their acquaintances with the various members of the Dragon Cult Guards, which obviously doesn’t go down well- there’s even a bit of catcalling before the new caravan north heads off. The Cult Guards really don’t like Hotlips (she was implicated in the murder of a Half-Orc Cult Guard- Flerk), oddly their dislike of the Halfling actually takes the heat off the other Brothers of the First Light et al.

Jackie (who plays Hotlips) is loving it by the way, and deliberately riling some of the bad guys, it’s going to end in violence- mark my words, and I should know because I’m going to be rolling their ‘to hits’.

And so, six wagons (each with two pairs of draft horses), twenty or so Guards et al, another twenty labourers, and half-a-dozen assorted passengers and hangers-on head out. First point to note- the Cult loot has been broken down in to smaller boxes and incorporated within the load, they’ve got rid of their wagons.

Next point of note- there’s no Red Wizard of Thay (Azbara Jos), he’s been left back in Waterdeep (probably), the Cultists however seem to have gained a new leader type. A little later Watt learns that the new guy is called ‘Renk’, he’s a nasty looking fellow (Male Human), another Dragonclaw (probably, or maybe a higher rank- a Dragonwing?)

There’s lots to chat about for the Players, and to speculate on- their best guess (atm- subject to change) is that they’re going all the way, to the Carnath Roadhouse. Their reasoning being the Cultists no longer have their own wagons- they can’t just head off in to the wilds- can they?

The worst-case scenario, brought to the attention of his colleagues by Rob (playing Lummins & Hard Bonk), is (paraphrased) ‘what if the Cult just stage an ambush-style attack and kill us all- no witnesses. Then they can go where they like?’

And so the paranoia begins.

Oh, and there’s no extensive list of who is travelling on which wagon for this journey. All we, and you, need to know is that all eight PCs are present, if anything kicks off then they can use a maximum of five of their guys in the action- the others are presumed to be elsewhere fighting their own fights, or just doing their own thing. Each day five PCs can do one thing- make a skill check and/or roleplay a bit, whatever- if they chose to skip their ‘one thing’ then the days, and the caravan, moves quicker- and we get to the Carnath Roadhouse all the sooner.

The Players have learned this lesson.

And so, they’re moving fast, and doing little or no investigating- just watching, and waiting.

Except for Hotlips of course, who every now and then is continuing to bait several Cult Guards- her favourite being Tardol, a very large slice of Half-Orc (and brother of the dead Flerk). Tardol has to be restrained, several times… but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves.

The High Road is a dangerous place, the Mere of Dead Men more dangerous still.

And just let me say, I’m still doing the random encounters RAW, let the dice fall where they may.

Day #1

Late on- on a forested section of the High Road the caravan is hit on both sides by an ambush- a rabble of Orcs accompanied by a lumbering Ogre who stops the lead wagon by flinging a massive spear in to one of the Draft Horses pulling it.

And so with one eye on their fellow Cultist travellers (thank you Rob) it kicks off big style, and several of the Players (Pete) are grinning like chimps- combat at last. It helps that we randomly rolled to see who the mystery fifth PC would be in action (the default adventurers are the Brothers of the First Light- Lux, Lummins, Watt & Sgt Bobby)- the dice came up ‘Pete’, he has both of his Sgts in the fracas.

I swear you’d need a chisel to get the grin off his face.

42 Orcs & Ogre.jpg

Lummins screams a warning as the spear-flinging Ogre rumbles in to view- Sgt Harald (Dwarf Fighter) leaps off the lead wagon, totters forward as fast as stumpy little legs can take him, and then smashes the Ogre with a Crit, followed by another hit (Level 5 and two attacks- whoopee), and then an Action Surge- and another hit. My 60 HP Ogre has eleven left… me so sad.

Seconds later Watt’s Shatter spell rips in to a bunch of Orcs rushing from the woods, there are many casualties. Sgt Bobby meantime charges to Sgt Harald’s side and skewers the Ogre’s straining heart with his longsword, the great beast crashes to the ground- dead. The Fighter continues his run to meet the next Orc in line and slays it too.

Lummins opens up with his Scorching Rays, while Lux fires her Eldritch Blasts- it’s a slaughter, the few Orcs left standing (up and down the caravan) are instantly repulsed and flee back in to the woods- screaming and running for their lives.

The caravan is, Briferhew states, ‘blessed by all of the Gods.’ The results in- one horse killed, another wounded (although not badly), one labourer knocked unconscious (but soon revived), and another with a nasty cut (fixed). It’s a miracle.

Note the results of the PCs combat prowess will be reflected in the casualty count for the rest of the caravan- the PCs fight well and win easy, then the caravan (and its inhabitants) are safe; should they fight badly… then the body count will rack up. The Players are, of course, informed of this- after the first fight.

The caravan stops briefly- to search the fallen (for info and/or coin), and to make repairs to people, animals & property.

There are no obvious signs that the Orcs and Ogres were anything to do with the Cultists, reports further suggest that several of the Cultists fought well in the action, particularly the new leader Renk who according to Briferhew is “a vicious bastard”, said with a grin.

Day #2

The journey continues, a pleasant day and good mileage.

Day #3

Another easy day of travel, all is jolly and well- save for Hotlips who is still winding up the Half-Orc Cult Guard, Tardol.

Much later on, after the day’s travel is done, the peace is shattered when a bunch of Trolls wander in to the campsite and attempt to grab something tasty and scarper with it… the PCs only have to fight one Troll of course.

43 Troll.jpg

The first issue being that when the Troll launches its attack on Sgt Bobby- on watch, he’s ready for it, as is Lummins- the Half-Elf is a light sleeper.

Sgt Bobby slashes the Troll horribly, its inhuman screams are loud enough to wake the dead (and the other PCs in this encounter). The Troll replies in kind and soon after Sgt Bobby is yelling and screaming too- although the major difference being the Troll is visibly regenerating. Seconds later Lummins fires three Scotching Rays in to the beast, and the screaming really gets going.

Hard Bonk (the randomly generated fifth PC in this fight) leaps out of his bed and goes all chop-socky on the Troll, alas he’s mostly off-target. Sgt Bobby however is a whirlwind with his magical longsword- a hit and a Crit, the Troll is bloodied and smart enough (just) to know it has stopped regenerating (It Burns Us!). It flees and gets cut again by Sgt Bobby in its dash for freedom.

The terrible beast escapes in to the night, still screaming.

And once again the caravan is saved, or else blessed by the Light of Lathander. One Guard- a Cultist as it happens, is slaughtered and dragged away in to the night (by a different Troll), half-a-dozen more men and beasts are injured- none seriously. Briferhew is relieved, and yet more than a little worried, he has made this journey a dozen or more times, he’s led caravans that have been attacked- but never twice on the same journey.

Hang on to your hat Captain Andrew Briferhew, we’re about to break some records.

Day #4

Wouldn’t you know it- all is well with the world, it’s like last night and the screaming Troll was all just a bad dream. The weather is beautiful, the going easy.

Day #5

And another pleasant day, that is until the Ogres and Orcs try their luck for a second time, or else this is a different group- oh and I added an extra Ogre to the bunch the PCs had to fight just to crank it up a little.

Oh, and it’s Hotlips’ turn to be the fifth PC in action, fortunate really because it’s the Halfling that spots the ambush maybe a second before it happens (‘20’), and then an instant later shoots an Orc dead.

44 Orcs & Ogres.jpg

Watt’s on the ball- the Bard casts a Hypnotic Pattern which keeps one of the Ogres, and an Orc, out of the action- the pair grin at nothing and watch the pretty colours. Lux meantime stops a javelin- that hurt, while Lummins (unaware until this point of the threat) somehow manages to avoid getting cut in two by charging greataxe wielding Orc’s (multiple attacks with Advantage- all misses, my dice are broken).

Then the second Ogre lumbers in to action and smashes its greatclub in to Lux, knocking the wind out of her but not however addling her brain, the Warlock tags the brute back with her Hellish Rebuke. Seconds later Lux strikes again- the Ogre suddenly staggers back, almost spills its club, it has been Blinded by the Warlock.

DM Interlude- and those were the first two spells that Lux has hit with that have not been an Eldritch Blast, to the best of our collective memories.

Sgt Bobby hurries around to Lux and Lummins at the rear of the wagon, and finding the blind Ogre there slashes the thing terribly, it’s beyond bloodied (after another Action Surge and another hit). Hotlips also hops down from the wagon, and then dodges between the Ogres legs to poke her magical rapier in to the beast’s back, or else as far up as she can reach. The Ogre falls- dead.

Lummins at last gets in to action, his Spiritual Weapon stabs an Orc, Lux finishes it off with an Eldritch Blast, and then kills a second with another Blast. The attackers are soon spent, those left standing flee back in to the woods- the Ogre Hypnotised by Watt is swiftly surrounded and cut down, while the Orc is captured and made to tell what it knows.

Which as it turns out ain’t much, these guys are in a different gang than the Orcs that attacked the wagons previously, the only clue the PCs manage to get out of the fearsome fellow is that there’s been lots of activity in the Mere of Dead Men in the past few months. The Orc doesn’t know what’s going on there, but things are stirring.

And for the third time the caravan is fortunate- two deaths, a labourer and a Guard, and a dozen wounded- a couple seriously, although several of the PCs spread a little surreptitious healing to keep everyone they can alive. The odds being what they were then the outcome could have been much much worse, again Briferhew gives thanks to the heavens.

The rest of the day, and night, is without incident- thank the Gods.

Day #6

Yet another pleasant day on the High Road, all is well with the world.

Day #7

And again, the only blot on the horizon being the Mere of Dead Men, the caravan gets its first sight of the place when it stops to rest for the evening. The swamp looks foreboding.

Day #8

The caravan heads in to the Mere, the road has been raised and banked- the journey to the Carnath Roadhouse is ostensibly to deliver more lumber and labourers to the place- to continue the work reinforcing the High Road, and thus increasing the trade heading north to Neverwinter.

The place is creepy, and quiet- with a continuous rolling wet mist which seems to seep in waves across the desolate road. Sounds likewise are either magnified, masked or sometimes distorted (hopefully).

It’s a tense journey, although there’s not long to go- the caravan should arrive at the Carnath Roadhouse sometime during the early evening of the tenth day of travel.

Camping in the swamp is also creepy, there’s no place to go off the road and so the wagons have to just line-up for the night.

The Giant Frogs signal their presence for hours, their attack however comes at around midnight… and Derek Pilch is on hand for the event (he’s the fifth PC for this encounter).

45 Giant Frogs.jpg

The amphibians (remarkably) get surprise- Sgt Bobby & Lux are both bitten (& Grappled & Restrained), however both escape their attackers in style. The good Sgt flings his attacker back and slices it, the Giant Frog is left very badly wounded with one leg almost severed. Lux hits her attacker with a Hellish Rebuke- it burns, and then fires Eldritch Blasts in to it at close range, resulting in a dead Giant Frog.

Then the artillery/battlefield control guys get in to action.

Watt’s Hypnotic Pattern leaves a couple of Giant Frogs temporarily paralyzed- watching the pretty colours. Alas Lummins’ Radiance of the Dawn cancels out Watt’s good work- the Light of Lathander effects all of the Frog attackers, a trio of the poddling hoppers (there were eight to begin with) are killed outright, all of the other Frogs left in the fight are also scorched by the radiant Light.

It’s a massacre, and so…

Derek Pilch climbs on to the lead wagon, casts Speak with Animals, and then orders the remaining Giant Frogs to flee (actually Jackie climbed on her chair, flung her arms out wide and croaked at us for a while, I’ll be honest some of her ‘croaking’ was bit second rate but… she made her point well). I ask for a Persuasion Check, Jackie rolls… you guessed it- a ‘20’.

As an instant Reaction all of the remaining Giant Frogs flee back in to the swamp… all of them, not just the ones attacking the PCs, in ten seconds flat all of the Giant Frogs are gone.

Silence.

After the event several members of the caravan who witnessed Derek’s croaking (and its instant effect) are awed. Derek, hereafter, is referred to (mostly in whispered tones) as either the ‘Frog God’ or the ‘Frog Whisperer’, or simply the ‘Frog Man’.

It’s all they talk about for days- particularly as Lummins Radiance of the Dawn kinda set up the entire event- it lifted the gloom and put the spotlight on Derek’s performance.

Jackie is really starting to like Derek…

DM Interlude- this game has lots of rules that enable players to get up to (and DMs to adjudicate) lots of mucho cool stuff- but it’s fuelled by imagination. Just priceless, I’m wiping tears from my eyes even as I write this.

There are no real casualties of the Giant Frog attack- a few individuals on the caravan are scratched and bruised (a bit) but that’s all.

Day #9 and #10

And that’s the end of the barrage of Random Encounters as generated by my crazy dice, the last day and a bit are easy as, the swamp gets darker, the stench more pungent, and the sounds of the wild things more disturbing- but there are no more encounters.

DMs Interlude- just to note to say that I played the Random Encounters fast and loose, the Players were keen to get in to combat, I was as keen to make my mark on them (briefly) and then get my surviving (and out-matched) bad guys out of the mess they had got themselves in to swiftly. Even the Players were amazed at how tough their PCs had become- 3rd Level spells and Powers, devastating.

And so about midday on the tenth day out of Waterdeep the caravan arrives at the Carnath Roadhouse which is a recently repaired walled compound, and supply depot for the labour and lumber employed to maintain the High Road, a rough and ready place.

46 Carnath Roadhouse.jpg

The caravan moves in to the compound a wagon at a time for the cargo to be unloaded- Hotlips and Watt detach themselves from the crowd and have a sneak around, the Halfling notes that some of the cargo is being directed by the large Half-Orc in-charge (Bog Luck) in to a separate secure storeroom. The pair figure that Bog Luck is a Dragon Cultist (they think), and that he is directing the Cult loot straight in to the secure storeroom.

It takes much of the rest of the afternoon to unload the wagons and then time for the new arrivals to find themselves a bunk, rest-up a bit, get changed and freshen up. Most of the inhabitants of the place (new and old) eventually head to the Kitchen area upstairs- food is prepared and several barrels of ale are broached. Several hours later the Cultists (and others) are starting to get surly and drunk.

The PCs get together for a chat (prior to joining the other ‘rough’ fellows in the Kitchen)- Watt and Hotlips are tasked with keeping an eye on the loot, basically they’re told to break in to the secure storeroom, find out where the loot is and see if they can figure out where it is going next, and how. In short, have a good look around for anything that needs finding. If there’s nothing to find then they’re not to let the loot out of their sight, at least for a while- oh, and one of them needs to report back what they have found. I gave the Players a good ten minutes to figure out their plan. The sneaky pair slope off to get things done.

However back in the Kitchen things are getting tetchy, particularly as the evening goes on and the booze continues to flow. The source of the upset is of course the Cultist Guards, and in particular Tardol, the massive slice of Half-Orc and brother of the dead Flerk. Tardol bad-mouths Hotlips all night- calling the Halfling out several times. The PCs (and in particular Sgt Bobby) defend their comrade vociferously, while explaining that Hotlips is unwell atm, and sleeping in her room. Tardol makes several attempts to pay a visit to the Halfling but is restrained repeatedly- by his fellow Cult Guards, by Andrew Briferhew, and eventually by the PCs…

Hotlips and Watt (both Invisible) meanwhile go for a wander around the waystation, and find nothing much untoward, and then head to the storeroom. Hotlips breaks in and the pair scope the place out, they quickly discover the Cult loot- all of it is in the secure chamber, as they suspected. There follows a brief discussion as to whether they should steal some of the loot for themselves, obviously you don’t need to know the outcome of this chat*. The pair, after a long search, also discover a hinged section of flooring that see-saws up to reveal a hidden tunnel, at this point their Invisibility has worn off.

Watt is just about to go back upstairs to spread the news when there’s a rattle at the door- Bog Luck, the Half-Orc caretaker of the Carnath Roadhouse, comes in. There’s a scramble to get hidden.

47 Storeroom.jpg

Upstairs meanwhile the nastiness has been cranked up, Briferhew cannot control the situation- Sgt Bobby (and a few other PCs) are trying to (a bit, Sgt Bobby is just calling Tardol names)- but there’s nowhere else for the encounter to go- Tardol punches Sgt Bobby in the face and then draws his blade.

48 Tardol vs Sgt Bobby.jpg

And thus, we end on a cliff-hanger, I more or less had to refuse to stop playing in order to do so- the Players were not happy, I think my bad guys are going to suffer next session for making them wait. I was attempting to increase the tension, I seemed to have provoked fury… LOLz.

More, of course, next time…

*The pair helped themselves to a few select items, but shush… don’t tell the others.
 
Last edited:

Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Session #32 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #18 Snapjaw.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 5
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 5
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 5
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 5

Secondary PCs.
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 5
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 5
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 5
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 5


Note, this is session #32 of our game but only session #18 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

We’re in the Carnath Roadhouse, following the Cultists and their (phat) loot, although the tension is high right now. Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) is facing off against Tardol, a very large slice of Cultist Half-Orc Guard who really wants to kill Hotlips- (Halfling Rogue) she killed his brother, (untrue but meh!) but has been drinking hard and will settle for rearranging Sgt Bobby’s features. While downstairs in the secure storeroom Hotlips and Watt (Human Bard) have just been disturbed by the entrance of Bog Luck, another Half-Orc, but this guy is the caretaker of the Carnath Roadhouse, and obviously another bloody Dragon Cultist.

And so around the table we do the fights simultaneously, in an attempt to crank up the tension- if Bog Luck gets away then the PCs may have to fight a lot of folk at the Roadhouse, or else come up with some other convincing story.

47 Storeroom.jpg

Downstairs- Bog Luck enters the room and spots Watt straight away- but not however Hotlips, the Half-Orc rushes Watt- swearing and shouting, and grabs the Bard. At which point Hotlips hits Bog Luck from behind, and eventually (after an Inspiration Point ‘1’ followed by ‘Lucky’ reroll = hit, phew that was close- there were screams around the table until Jackie figured out she had been saved by the reroll) manages to take the hefty Half-Orc Cultist down (by one hit point). It’s all subdual damage- Bog Luck is grabbed, tied, bagged, etc.

That’s the tension over.

48 Tardol vs Sgt Bobby.jpg

Upstairs- Sgt Bobby is punched in the face- Ow! That hurt. Tardol the Half-Orc is a Veteran, it quickly becomes apparent (blades out) he’s trying to kill Sgt Bobby, plenty of the Cultists in the room are also baying for blood. Andrew Briferhew, and the PCs are trying to stop the thing turning in to a riot.

Pete (who plays Sgt Bobby) helps matters by attempting not to kill Tardol, he’s inflicting subdual damage using the flat of his blade. The pair exchange blows- some hits, some misses, there’s even a Crit in there from Tardol. After a few rounds they’re both bloodied and hurting- with neither combatant seemingly ahead, although the Sgt has a third or so fewer hit points (to begin with) than the Veteran. In reality- he’s losing the fight but doesn’t know it.

That is until the good Sgt gets his Second Wind, which is followed by the Vet missing all three of his attacks, and then in the next round missing all three again- Sgt Bobby keeps hitting Tardol until he is forced to yield (on 4 HP). At which point Sgt Bobby tries to defuse the situation with a speech, “That’s enough of this, we’re all here to earn money- I have a wife and two children. I am certain the Hotlips didn’t kill your brother, you need to let it go…” Which causes a few of the baying Cultists to stop and think, but not Tardol- “How do you know she didn’t kill him? Why are you so certain?” And... “Err…”, Sgt Bobby (Pete) realises he can’t tell the Cultists that the real murderer was Jamna the Gnome (the PCs suspect- correctly), and so prevaricates and backpedals furiously- “We all need to learn to get along”, that kind of nonsense.

Tardol and a number of the other Cultists are up in arms- “What do you know?” Sgt Bobby sounded very certain that it wasn’t Hotlips that done it, the Cultists (correctly) suspect that he knows who the murderer is, or else he knows more than he’s saying.

Sgt Bobby splutters- “I investigated the death, Achreny (the Caravan Master) helped me- the Halfling was not the killer.” His Persuasion roll is an adjusted 13, which is okay, he keeps repeating the mantra, still floundering a little. That is until Lux (Human Warlock) gets to work on Briferhew (and a few others) persuading them that this charade has gone on long enough. Eventually Briferhew steps in and shouts the drunk-ish Cultists down, the entertainment is over- the Kitchen closed, the ale stoppered and confiscated. The disgruntled Cultists et al mostly retire to their rooms, although a few hang around to fix up Tardol (he’s taken a beating remember- from nearly 70 HP to 4 HP). “This isn’t over…”, the Half-Orc declares and growls a bit at Sgt Bobby and co.

Phew!

A short while later Watt visits with his colleagues and reports back- they have accidentally captured Bog Luck (Whoops!), they’ve located the treasure, and also found a trap door- which has not been investigated yet. After a bit more sneaking back and forth by an Invisible Watt, ostensibly to make sure where all the inhabitants of the Roadhouse are, the PCs are eventually lead down to the secure store room.

Hotlips lets the PCs in, and Bog Luck is conscious now, a long-ish Q&A follows, during which the adventurers discover the following-

Note, at first Bog Luck is reluctant to talk, it takes a while to loosen his tongue, actually it’s Sgt Bobby that makes the difference- Lux, Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) and Watt (the Charmers) roleplay well but then roll low on their checks (all three of them messing up has never happened before). The good Sgt steps in and threatens to cut Bog Luck’s throat, and then rolls very high for his Intimidate, the Half-Orc tells what he knows, or at least some of it-

Bog Luck is a Dragon Cultist- has been for years and years.

The Cult loot will be collected overnight by a bunch of Lizardfolk (using the trapdoor) and carried through the Mere of Dead Men to a ruined castle and Dragon Cult headquarters. Bog Luck doesn’t know the name of the place, or its location- only that it exists.

The Brothers of the First Light et al have more questions, Bog Luck has a few more answers- but not too much info, he’s low level- and in his own words, “just directing traffic”. The most interesting new nugget of info garnered is that the ruined castle is the domain of a Half-Black Dragon called Rezmir. The PCs have been on this guy’s trail since the very start.

Meantime Hotlips, with Sgt Harald (Dwarf Fighter) watching her back, check out the secret trapdoor, it leads in to a damp tunnel, the pair investigate further- very carefully, the passage goes east for 200 yards and exits in to a heavily screened hideout on a dry section of the Mere of Dead Men.

Meanwhile back at the interrogation, Bog Luck makes a variety of promises in an attempt to save his miserable life, he swears he won’t tell anyone if they let him go- Lummins remembers (after Lux kicks him) to fire up the Zone of Truth. The Half-Orc is lying- not about the castle et al, but about not telling anyone.

The chat continues for a while- a few more questions while the Zone of Truth is still working, and then… Sgt Bobby cuts Bog Luck’s throat, and holds him down until he stops struggling- it’s fairly brutal. There’s a brief pause while several of the Players check their moral compasses, as it turns out they’re all okay with the slaughter, no ethical conundrums here.

The PCs stuff Bog Luck’s body in an empty crate, and then chat (for twenty minutes or so- real-time) about what to do next. A variety of suggestions are put forward- kill all of the Cultists at the Roadhouse, leave now and head in to the Mere to find the ruined castle (how hard can it be), or else ambush the Lizardfolk when they turn up to collect the loot. This last suggestion (made by Lux) is the favourite for a while, that is until the following doozy gets voted in to the number one slot.

Note Lux also suggested that they inform the murderous Gnome- Jamna (her Zhent contact remember) about the situation, the other Players are really not keen- Lux has to back off her suggestion sharpish.

And so, here’s what happens…

An hour or so later all of the PCs have exited the Carnath Roadhouse through the secret passage and are at present standing in the screened clearing in the midst of the Mere, as is all of the Cult loot (still in boxes). The PCs however are all dressed up as Dragon Cultists, Lux is even wearing some of Frulam Mondath’s gear (and she looks like her remember)- she looks like a Cult leader.

The PCs wait, and get in an Extended Rest (because I am a nice DM) while keeping watch for the Lizardfolk, who eventually turn up just before dawn. There are a lot of Lizardfolk (actually 12) and they’re initially not too pleased to see the PCs. That is until Lux introduces herself as Frulam Mondath (the Lizardfolk have no idea who Mondath is) and then starts hissing orders in Draconic- pick up the stuff and take us to the castle. The grim Sgts flank ‘Frulam’ and look, well... determinedly tough and no-nonsense. ‘Frulam’ continues barking at the Lizardfolk, and, well… this is all very familiar- “sodding Dragon kneelers.”

The Lizardfolk grab the loot and head back in to the Mere, the PCs (sorry, Dragon Cultists) follow on.

It worked.

Nine hours or so later (and with Random Encounters rolls still RAW- nothing) the group arrives at another hidden campsite in the Mere. There they are told they will rest for the night, or at least until another batch of Lizardfolk turn up (in canoes) to take the loot (and the PCs) on the last leg of their journey to the castle (the Lizardfolk don’t know what the castle is called either). The Lizardfolk accompanying the PCs state that they will rest here the night and then head back to the Carnath Roadhouse to see if there’s any more loot to pick up in the morning.

So, a night in the wilds with a bunch of Lizardfolk, waiting for another bunch to turn up.

The PCs (and Players) chat some more- how to play this? The problem is the Players have plenty more questions they’d like answering about where they are heading- like what awaits them. The Players want to question the Lizardfolk but are trying to figure out how to do it without arousing too much suspicion.

Then, because the Players are still chatting and not doing anything much, the second group of Lizardfolk turn up in canoes- there are another nine of them, so that’s 21 Lizardfolk and 8 PCs sitting around the campfire making polite chitter-chat.

The Players eventually agree on a strategy to get some more info out of the Lizardfolk- Lummins and Watt decide to double team a random Lizardman and see what they can find out. Note plenty of the PCs speak Draconic so there are no language issues, having said that the pair discover that one of the Lizardfolk- a fellow called Snapjaw, speaks a fair amount of the Common tongue.

Later the pair get Snapjaw on his own and attempt to pump him for info, the Lizardfolk is remarkably amenable- and keen to tell what he knows, and as keen to bad-mouth some of the inhabitants of the Cult castle, the story is-

a) The place is a big ruined castle- with lots of buildings, many falling down.

b) Present are a bunch more dragon kneelers (Cultists, obviously), lots of proud Lizardfolk of the Scaly Death Clan (natch), and lastly the fiddling flibblings- the Bullywugs, led by FartBox (actually Pharblex Spattergoo).

c) Fartbox killed the Scaly Death Clan’s leader- a Shaman called Suncaller.

d) Snapjaw (and the Lizardfolk in general) hate the Bullywugs, who have been put in charge of them.

e) Scaly Dread (the Clan’s Lord and Protector- a Dragon of some sort the PCs think) has apparently done a deal with the dragon kneelers.

f) Scaly Dread seems to not care that the Scaly Death Clan are suffering at the webbed pads of the stinky Bullywugs.

g) The Cult has two leaders at the castle- an Elf in charge of the day-to-day called Dral (Dralmorrer Borngray) and the High Lord- Rezmir, a Half-Black Dragon (Woo-hoo!). Both are present at the castle atm, at least they were when Snapjaw left the place.

h) The castle has several levels, including stairs that go ‘down in to the ground’- down below is full of cursed Bullywugs- may the great Scaly Dread burn their blubbering hides. The dragon kneeler leaders also go ‘down in to the ground’.

i) Snapjaw, every now and then, makes it clear that overthrowing Fartbox and his Bullywug bastards is high on his wishlist.

In point of fact the conversation went on for quite a while (real-world) time, with the PCs roleplaying well, and rolling good to high- and asking useful questions, and I (your glorious DM) do so want the PCs to learn about the potential for a Lizardfolk rebellion, and so…

The PCs are up early the next morning- nothing untoward occurs during the night, first thing they do is have a chat amongst themselves- a new plan is being hatched.

Then goodbye to the Lizardfolk that got them here through the swamp- the PCs don’t mean to (they can’t help themselves) but several of the tough dragon kneeler Cultists (the PCs) say goodbye and thanks to the ‘nice’ Lizardfolk. Which, from the POV of the Lizardfolk present is just, well… odd.

Then in to the canoes and to the castle, the journey should take around six or so hours…

Random Encounters done RAW, and… nada.

En route the PCs put their new plan in to action, basically half way through the journey they ask the Lizardfolk to stop to eat, at which point they isolate their favourite Lizardfolk- Snapjaw. Watt, Lux and Lummins- the chatty folk with Social Skill bonuses to burn, get to work on Snapjaw and are quickly convinced- thanks to another Zone of Truth spell that he’s telling the truth. Snapjaw doesn’t like Cultists in general but seems to like them.

After another brief chat amongst themselves the PCs decide to go for it, figuring they can- worst case scenario, kill Snapjaw (and the other Lizardfolk if necessary) if things go badly wrong. So, they tell Snapjaw- they are mighty heroes (what now?) come to destroy the Cult of the Dragon, and in the process kill Fartbox and the Bullywugs and set the Scaly Death Clan free, perhaps Snapjaw could help them. The gang have still got their Zone of Truth up and running- Snapjaw is obviously shocked but recovers well- soon after he’s very keen to get on board.

Note I played Snapjaw as a budding (Marxist- the Glorious Lizardpeople’s Revolutionary Cadre #1) revolutionary. Later, after much more chatter the Players got on board with the concept and worked between sessions on a few choice brand slogans.

“The best folk are Lizardfolk.”
“Bullywugs are bullies- it’s in the name!”
“Bullywugs are Gutterslugs!”

And a few others I choose not to remember.

The chatter continues for an age, almost beyond bed time- eventually I get the Players back in line and on with the scenario.

In the last (very brief- excitement was running high, the Lizardfolk revolution is indeed going to be glorious) section of this session the PCs achieve the following-

a) Arrive at Castle Naerytar- have a chat with some perimeter guards and ferment revolution a little (the Players are starting to get a little giddy at the idea). Lummins in the end convinces the Lizardfolk to attend a secret meeting later in the evening.

b) Sneak in to one of the Lizardfolk longhouses, aided and abetted by the cover of darkness- it’s early evening now.

c) Convince another dozen or so Lizardfolk around and about to attend the secret meeting later on.

Note Snapjaw is doing the intros and the charming members of the Brothers of the First Light (mostly Lux, Lummins & Watt) are stirring the pot- “Do you hate the Bullywugs, all the time telling you what to do?”, “They killed your leader- Suncaller, are the Scaly Death clan going to take that?”, and, “Where’s your Dragon Lord now? You need help. We can help you to get your pride and/or spirit and/or fight back.”

That kind of thing- we accomplished some of this last task via e-mail after the session finished, I must say the e-mail activity could be characterised as ‘high’, I think one day I got 27 e-mails in total. As with many modern revolutions the internet played a significant part in the Glorious Lizardpeople’s Revolution.

More next time.
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Session #33 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #19 The Glorious Lizardpeople’s Revolution Part 1.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 5
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 5
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 5
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 5

Secondary PCs.
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 5
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 5
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 5
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 5


Note, this is session #33 of our game but only session #19 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

We’re in a Lizardfolk longhouse just outside Castle Naerytar- not that the PCs, or the Lizardfolk for that matter, know the name of the place. The PCs have followed the Dragon Cult loot to here, in point of fact they were involved in transporting the loot over the last leg of the journey. They’re also aware that Rezmir (Half-Black Dragon) Cult leader is laired here. The castle is also home to a bunch of Dragon Cultists lead by someone called Dral, a tribe of cruel Bullywugs lead by Fartbox (Pharblex), and lastly the Scaly Death tribe of Lizardfolk.

The Brothers of the First Light et al have made a positive impression on one of the Lizardfolk- Snapjaw, the young warrior is keen to overthrow the Bullywugs (and to a lesser extent the dragon kneelers = Cultists). The PCs are also keen to make this happen and are therefore in the process of stirring up the Lizardfolk- the scent of revolution is in the air.

Late in the evening, in the Lizardfolk longhouse, the charming Brothers of the First Light (mostly Lux (Human Warlock), Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) & Watt (Human Bard)) and Snapjaw are cajoling at least two dozen rapt Lizardfolk- “Do you hate the Bullywugs, all the time telling you what to do?”, “They killed your leader- Suncaller, are the Scaly Death clan going to take that?”, and, “Where’s your Dragon Lord now? You need help. We can help you to get your pride and/or spirit and/or fight back.”

The Lizardfolk are rapt because the PCs are really putting on a show-

Lummins is using repeated castings of Thaumaturgy to enhance and delight (like a crazy Signer), his finale involves a casting of his Spiritual Weapon (a glowing spear made of light) which hovers around the longhouse stabbing at imagined enemies.

Lux is using repeated castings (At Will for her) of Disguise Self to assume a variety of faces during the section of the PCs lecture in which they talk about the story of their journey up until this point. For her finale she swoops around the longhouse courtesy of her Fly spell.

Watt does a lot of the talking, usually Friends enhanced, but he also makes use of his Disguise Self spell. For the finale he works his way through his full repertoire of musical expertise- starting with a haunting flute solo, then a rousing viol chorus, then to pan flute for a lilting refrain and culminating in a Jimi Hendrix style bagpipe thrash-about.

The Players have been planning this, there have been far too many e-mails sent between the last session and this- it’s been hectic, and a little bit joyous. There’s even a narrative to their presentation, and major themes- the corrupt dragon kneelers and vile Bullywugs, the Brothers of the First Light’s story (from Dragon Cultists to seeing the Light of Lathander) illustrating their journey to salvation- and their desire for revenge. The finale juxtaposes the Brothers journey with the plight of the Scaly Death tribe- the answer, rise up- shake your chains to earth like dew which in slumber have fallen upon you (to paraphrase a genius).

And so, after a clutch of skill checks by all of the participants (all with a variety of bonuses) it’s all down to one roll (heavily weighted towards the PCs because of their planning, previous successes and great RP) because… well why not.

And ‘15’ plus bonuses, that’s over 20… the crowd go WILD- the Glorious Lizardpeople Revolution has truly begun.

The Players however have yet more plans to put in to action, and so after a night in the Lizardfolk longhouse the next day sees a variety of activities, their plans are very good-

a) The two Sgts hold meetings with a variety of Lizardfolk- sizing up their qualities and questioning them about the Cultist and Bullywug forces, the pair also learn that there’s another leader type at the castle at the moment- from the Lizardfolk’s description it sounds like the Red Wizard of Thay from the caravan is also here.

b) Reconnaissance #1 Lux (Invisible & Flying) goes for an hour long fly about, around, and through as much of Castle Naerytar that she can get to.

c) Reconnaissance #2 Derek Pilch (Human Druid) goes for a hop about (as a Giant Frog), ostensibly investigating the Bullywug huts, later the Druid Wild Shapes in to a Crocodile and goes for a swim in the castle moat- very relaxing, although there are plenty of other Crocs in there.

d) Reconnaissance #3 Watt & Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) (both Invisible) go for an hour-long incursion in to the castle proper to see how far they can get and what they can spy. The pair get a good way in, even going so far as to investigate (albeit briefly) a few of the buildings arranged around the Outer Ward.

e) There follows a further Q&A session with a number of Lizardfolk that serve within the castle, at the end of which the PCs have a rough-and-ready, but accurate, drawing of the castle marked with the locations of various groups of inhabitants.

f) Lastly, more planning- the order of the attack takes shape.

And that’s all for the day, the PCs have used a majority of their high-level spells in order to achieve the above, and about an hour or more of real-world time to get it done. They’re ready, all that’s left is to wait for the perfect time to strike.

Another night in the longhouse, followed by the rest of the next day spent in final preparations (including a further bit of reconnaissance done by a group of Lizardfolk lead by Snapjaw), the attack starts early evening.

Note in-game every PC has been allotted an individual Lizardfolk for them to play (eight PCs with eight Lizardfolk), that’s right- for the attack they are going to use all eight PCs- two groups of four. So, each Strike Team contains four PCs and four Lizardfolk.

If their allotted Lizardfolk dies then they don’t get another one, unless (and the PCs know about this) they can convince the Lizardfolk that serve Dral within the castle to join the revolution- in which case they get another four Lizardfolk as potential replacements.

As with the PCs horses two of the Players (Jackie & Sandy, of course) insist that the Lizardfolk accompanying them on the attack be given names, and so we have- Swampy, Gawp, Ping & Pong, Gumbo, Big Claw, Bungle and George.

It only takes twenty or so minutes to figure the names out.

Ho-hum.

Then the attack, starting with both Strike Teams creeping up to, and then launching themselves in to the Barbican, with one of the Strike Teams rushing straight up the stairs to attack the Bullywug inhabitants of the upper floor.

We play both fights at the same time, which proves a little difficult to do- there are a lot of combatants, for the sake of the narrative I’ll describe one and then the other.

Strike Team #1 = Lummins, Lux, Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) & Watt (the Brothers of the First Light) plus four Lizardfolk.

49 Barbican Lower.jpg

The ten Bullywug ‘guards’ and their two Giant Frog companions are taken by surprise- Lummins fires in a trio of Scorching Rays, all hits- three Bullywugs are badly wounded. Lux’s Eldritch Blasts kill two others, Sgt Bobby and the accompanying Lizardfolk rush in to melee and account for another two between them. That’s thinned the pack somewhat.

Last up (as planned- the PCs are on it) is Watt who fires up his Hypnotic Pattern, and only one Bullywug and both Giant Frogs are unaffected by the spell. The ‘guards’ have been decimated.

Seconds later Lummins’ Sacred Flame takes down the only compos mentis Bullywug left standing. The two Giant Frogs however attempt to flee the scene, leaping over the PCs to get to the exit, one makes it out of the Barbican- the other is cut down. The fleeing amphibian doesn’t get far, already wounded, it succumbs to Sgt Bobby’s flung dagger.

Meantime the Lizardfolk take the opportunity to attack (and slaughter) the Bullywugs affected by Watt’s Hypnotic Pattern. The fight is quickly over, with no hits taken by the good guys- very few of the bad guys got chance to attack, they were mostly concentrating their efforts on either dying or fleeing. The body of the fleeing Giant Frog is quickly recovered (when the coast looks clear) and then hauled back and thrown in to the moat.

Things however are a little more fraught upstairs, Strike Team #2 dashes through the fight downstairs, ignoring the action, and straight up the stairs and in to the nine Bullywugs that are just waking up to the fact that they are being invaded.

Strike Team #2 = Derek, Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk), Hotlips & Sgt Harald (Dwarf Fighter) plus four Lizardfolk.

50 Barbican Upper.jpg

The PCs (after their reconnaissance, and interviews with the Lizardfolk) know that there’s a drum situated in the Upper Barbican which beats the rhythm of castle life, and of course sounds the alarm should the castle be attacked.

They need to knock out the alarm system.

And so…

Derek is first in to action with an Entangle spell which causes all of the Bullwugs close to the drum, who are only just getting to their feet, to be Restrained by the sprouting vegetation. The effect however doesn’t last- a lone Bullywug gets free and then fights its way through the tangle of plants and to the drum. Hard Bonk arrives at the same spot just in time to kick and punch the poor bugger to death.

The remaining Bullywugs unaffected by the Entangle spell also do their upmost to reach the drum- Hotlips cuts one down and badly wounds another. Sgt Harald repeats the feat- one dead, one bloodied.

The Bullywugs are being decimated- they immediately devise a new plan- FLEE!

First choice is down the stairs- although that’s not going to end well, Strike Team #1 (or as you know them- the Brothers of the First Light) are downstairs.

Of the three Bullywug’s left standing (and not Entangled) two head for the stairs, leaping over the PCs that block the exit, it doesn’t go well for either of them- Sgt Harald chases one of them down and slaughters it, the other is Thorn Whipped to death by Derek.

The last Bullywug attempts to leap from the battlements down in to the moat, it leaps in to the air and… Hotlips thunks a dagger in to it- the creature is dead before it hits the water.

As happened downstairs the Lizardfolk rush in and slaughter the one remaining Entangled Bullywug.

The Barbican is taken, all of their enemies are dead. Remarkably none of the PCs have taken a single wound, however all of the Lizardfolk upstairs have taken hits- a pair of them are bloodied already, but the attack is a rip-roaring success. The entire assault is over in under thirty seconds and with a minimum of fuss- a little bit of a light-show but not visible from any great distance, and fairly quietly done.

The plan is working.

So, next up- Strike Team #2 settle in to the Lower Barbican, they’re job is to hold the place- from attacks within and without, a pair of Lizardfolk are left upstairs on watch- the beater for the drum is located, the PCs have devised their own signalling system using the instrument. It’s very basic the PCs system- one of the Lizardfolk will beat the drum loudly and repeatedly should the Barbican come under attack by a force that will surely overwhelm the defenders, or else some other event takes place that demands the attention (and attendance) of Strike Team #1.

Next up Snapjaw, the would-be leader of the Lizardfolk Revolution is ushered in to the Barbican- he’s got a job to do, he joins Strike Team #1.

That done Hotlips goes for a brief sneak about along the Causeway and to the edge of the Outer Ward, there are just two Bullywugs hopping about there, neither of them are aware of the attack it seems.

Strike Team #1 moves up the Causeway and then briefly in to action.

51 Outer Court Bullywugs.jpg

Very briefly- the nearest Bullywug succumbs to a dagger in the throat courtesy of Sgt Bobby, while the other is scorched and cindered (to death) by Lummins’ Sacred Flame. The Brothers et al wait for thirty seconds- nothing stirs, and then order the Lizardfolk to go retrieve the fallen Bullywug corpses, which are then ferried back to the Causeway and thrown over the crenelated battlements and in to the moat.

It’s feeding time for the Crocs.

Just for info I’m rolling my random ‘What Happens Next?’ D20 every time the PCs et al do something that generates noise and/or light- just to see if something good, or better still- something bad happens, come on the Wandering Monsters.

Next stage of the plan is to go and check out the Lizardfolk Guards that are loyal to the Dragon Cultist leader Dral. Snapjaw is going to attempt, with a little help from a few of the PCs, to persuade the group to come over to the Scaly Death Clan’s side.

Through the Forge, which is empty at this time of the night, and in to the Lizardfolk’s Ready Room within the north east tower. The Lizardfolk within are less ready than expected- sprawled around the room relaxing, they do however leap to their feet and start barking questions when the Brothers et al enter in. At which point we get in to the roleplay…

More of Dral’s Lizardfolk Guards come to join the hastily assembled meeting as the talk progresses, within a minute of their arrival there are easily twenty Lizardfolk facing the PCs et al, Snapjaw however is in the centre of the action.

At the end of twenty or so minutes of roleplay including rehashed versions of the speeches from the previous Lizardfolk presentation, three of the four PCs aiding in this endeavour roll high (15+) and so Snapjaw seals the deal. The Lizardfolk Guards however are not as committed (yet) to the cause. Basically, the PCs get an extra two replacements should any of their eight Lizardfolk accomplices fall. However, if Snapjaw and/or the PCs bring back the head of Fartbox (Pharblex), the Bullywug leader, then the Lizardfolk here will truly join the cause (and the PCs get the maximum four replacement Lizardfolk).

It’s the end of the session, and the DM on a whim wants to make the Lizardfolk a little more valuable to the PCs, Snapjaw promises the Brothers of the First light that should the following conditions be met-

1) Fartbox (Pharblex) killed and all of the other Bullywug’s slaughtered or else routed.

2) The dragon kneelers (Cultists) likewise routed, or surrendered, or killed.

3) Fartbox’s loot, and perhaps a few other ‘interesting’ items found elsewhere in the castle gifted to the Scaly Death Clan.

4) The ruined castle likewise given to the Scaly Death Clan.

Then the Brothers of the First Light’s (just Lummins, Lux, Sgt Bobby & Watt) Lizardfolk helpers will swear (Snapjaw will make sure of this) to serve them for a year and a day. Basically, the four main PCs are given the opportunity to grab themselves a hench-Lizardfolk each, obviously they have to meet the conditions above, and (more importantly) keep the guy they have been allotted alive for this to happen.

The Players are much impressed by this kind offer, all of them keen to have their own Lizardfolk domestic. The Glorious Lizardpeople’s Revolution just got even more interesting.

Several of the Players enquire over e-mail during the days following the session as to whether the Lizardfolk can become PCs in their further adventures. Give ‘em an inch…

We’ll see.

The revolution continues in the next session; this was a fairly short one.
 
Last edited:

Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Session #34 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #20 The Glorious Lizardpeople’s Revolution Part 2.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 5
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 5
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 5
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 5

Secondary PCs.
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 5
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 5
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 5
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 5


Note, this is session #34 of our game but only session #20 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

Also note parts of this session are written in the style of an eleven-year-old writing an essay about what they did on their holidays- there’s a lot of “and then…”, and, “and then…”, get my drift. Apologies, it ain’t literature, it’s a sprawling melee going round by round.

The Glorious Lizardpeople’s Revolution is underway, the PCs (Strike Team #1- Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric), Lux (Human Warlock), Watt (Human Bard) & Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter), or as you know them the Brothers of the First Light) and their Lizardfolk accomplices have entered the castle, killed some Bullywugs, and persuaded a bunch more Lizardfolk to join their crusade to “throw off the yolk of the Bullywug oppressors!”, that kind of thing.

Meanwhile Strike Team #2 (Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk), Hotlips (Halfling Rogue), Derek (Human Druid) & Sgt Harald (Dwarf Fighter)) and their Lizardfolk accomplices are holding the Barbican- the only way in to the castle (that I can see on my map).

Oh, and just to make clear the PCs have not changed their attire- they are all still dressed like Dragon Cultists, with Lux attempting to pass for a leader type, possibly Frulam Mondath.

The next part of the plan involves an attack upon Fartbox (Pharblex) and his Bullywug minions, the trick is to do this without alerting the rest of the castle, it’s early evening- dusk, and there are still folk about. The PCs chose this time so that those not blessed with Darkvision can still see well enough to fight.

But before we get in to it, just a word about the rota of monsters (in the Hoard of the Dragon Queen book), and specifically the Dragon Cultist foot soldiers et al, the PCs are looking forward to meeting- the numbers in the book just don’t add up, and there’s nothing I can see in the errata.

According to the book there are-
16 Cultists (12 in 1q & 4 in 2n) although only beds for 5 (2r),
4 Dragonclaws in 1q, with beds for 4 in 1n, and
1 Dragonwing (2n) although there are beds for 13 of the tough guys (7 in 2t & 6 in 3r).

I figure many of the Dragonwing bunks are actually the sleeping quarters of plain old Cultists. I therefore decided ahead of time that there are 20 Cultists, 12 Dragonclaws & 3 Dragonwings at the castle, maybe a few more of each if the PCs are having a too easy time.

Anyway, the Revolution continues.

Next up Fartbox (Pharblex) and the Bullywugs must die- the Scaly Death clan insist- the PCs also need to return here (the north east tower) with the head of Pharblex, this will ensure that Dral’s Lizardfolk guards join the revolution.

First up however, an Invisible Watt goes for a sneak around the Outer Courtyard, which the PCs are going to have to move through (a short way) to get to the Bullywug’s lair (the Lower & Upper Barracks).

The Bard returns in ten or so minutes, and still Invisible, he tells what he knows- there are more than a dozen Cultists over in the Great Hall (being used as a canteen) they’re shooting the breeze and feeding at least two hefty looking Guard Drakes. The only other building with any signs of life is the Bullywug’s chambers- the croaking coming from within is intense, there are a lot of the buggers in there.

This is the do or die bit of the plan, and also the contentious bit- the PCs would rather attack the Cultists first, however Snapjaw and the Scaly Death clan have insisted that Pharblex and the Bullywugs die first (I wanted to make it a little harder for the Players).

And so, Strike Team #1 (Lux, Lummins, Watt & Sgt Bobby- all dressed as Cultists, remember) with their Lizardfolk accomplices stride across to the Lower Barracks, swing open the door and step inside- the croaking stops instantly. The chamber is a filth pit, with a good foot or so of wet slippery mud on the floor, and a slightly less substantial covering on every surface. Not that there are a lot of other surfaces- save for a set of stairs leading up (from which the sound of croaking comes) the chamber is empty- except, of course, for the mud and twenty-something Bullywugs.

DM Interlude- Just for the sake of the narrative the four Lizardfolk present are- Ping (controlled by Lux), Gawp (Lummins), Bungle (Sgt Bobby) & George (Watt).

All of the Bullywugs stare intently at Lux- she looks like a Cultist leader, remember. Lux takes this in her stride, at least for a short while, that is until it turns out that none of the Bullywugs can understand anything she is saying (she actually said something like- “We are Cultists- take us to your leader- Fartbox”), she starts with Draconic and then scrolls through all the languages she knows.

52 Lower Barracks Bullywugs.jpg

Bullywugs speak Bullywug- there’s no other languages listed for them. I guess the leader types have a smattering of the Common tongue, maybe they all understand a few words of Common… let’s see.

Silence for a bit, save for the sound of croaking coming from above, Sgt Bobby nudges and points to the stairs- several more Bullywugs are descending from above- investigating their comrades sudden silence.

Lux tries again with her question- this time in the Common tongue and louder- and with a bit of mime, and I get her to make a roll- any Skill that will fit the bill, she tries Performance (after all, she’s an ex-Actor).

Lux rolls the lowest number on the dice.

I roll my Random What Happens Next D20, I roll a ‘1’ too- this has happened before.

How to reward two ‘1’s?

There’s not enough gone wrong, from a DMs perspective, for the Bullywugs to just launch an attack, after all the PCs look and sound like Dragon Cultists, Lux is just not making much sense (to them).

So, if the Bullywugs can’t attack…

So, here comes the chaos- the PCs four Lizardfolk accomplices decide at that exact moment that their revenge can wait no longer- the generous DM therefore gives the quartet a surprise round- and unleashes them upon the gawping Bullywugs, I even let the PCs make their Lizardfolk’s rolls- nice of me.

Seconds later and the closest three Bullywugs are dead, another barely clings to life, and then… then, it all goes crazy.

Bullywugs flee, fight, scream and… well, they hop around an awful lot.

And so, in no particular order- Lux Shatters three of the Bullywugs- dead, plenty more of them hop in to the murderous Lizardfolk, spears in hand- Gawp & Ping get stabbed.

Then Lummins does the maths (counts the squares in the room) and lets loose a Fireball, and all is madness- it doesn’t end well (for the Bullywugs).

Rob (who plays Lummins) has been waiting to do this for like, ever (actually since he got to Level 5 which was probably last session, I’ve told him a million times not to exaggerate etc.).

It takes a while for the super-heated steam to clear, the flash fire also bakes hard 90% of the mud in the chamber- there were 18 alive-alive-o Bullywugs in the room six or so seconds ago, now there are just six.

Also caught in the blast is Gawp (Lizardfolk), the creature is reduced to 4 hit points- some sacrifices have to be made, Rob states (& Gawp is Lummins’/Rob’s Lizardfolk- so no harm done).

The Bullywugs formerly descending the stairs flee back the way they came- panic croaking all the way, while the remaining Bullywugs in the Lower Barracks attempt to get the hell out of dodge- the only exits are however- up the stairs (several of the PCs are heading that way), through the doorway (also blocked by PCs atm) or through a window-sized opening in the back wall and from there down in to the castle moat.

The scramble begins.

One Bullwug gets out of the window before the exit is plugged by a pair of foolish amphibians who fight each other to be the next to escape.

The four Scaly Death Lizardfolk warriors are not idle- they charge in to slaughter the fleeing Bullywugs.

53 Upper Barracks Bullywugs.jpg

The PCs however are keen to get upstairs (they think that’s where Fartbox (Pharblex) is), and leading the charge is Sgt Bobby. The Fighter rushes to the top of the stairs and spies the barracks above, there are ten more panicked Bullywugs here (but no obvious leader type). Sgt Bobby orders the amphibians (in Common) to surrender. Alas the Sgt doesn’t have time to wait for a reply, he cuts the nearest Bullywug down (after missing two attacks and spending an Inspiration Point to try again- a Crit follows). The chamber is only slightly less filthy than the one below, with rotten reed bed-cum-nests everywhere, there is however a door to the west, and (more interestingly) a large chest swathed in chains- treasure.

Note Sgt Bobby’s failures to hit, this will become a recurring theme- not just for the Fighter but for many on the PCs who are mostly (remember) +5 to +7 to hit.

The Lizardfolk however have a much lower to hit chance- and yet they seem to hit all of the time, and the same people are making the rolls.

With the same dice of course.

It would be very frustrating if that kept happening, for say… maybe 2-3 hours.

Let’s see children.

Lux is next up the stairs- Eldritch Blasting as she goes, resulting in one dead Bullywug and another wounded, and like Sgt Bobby she also calls for the Bullywug’s to surrender. The evil amphibians are not convinced, or else they don’t understand a word Lux (or Sgt Bobby) are saying.

Lummins is next up the stairs, after first guiltily casting a Cure Wounds on Gawp, his Lizardfolk accomplice.

Watt, smart fellow, settles in the doorway to the building and begins plugging away at the few remaining Bullwugs below with his bow, the Bullywugs are being ably chased around the chamber by the Scaly Death Lizardfolk. It’s a shooting gallery with leaping targets- the Bard doesn’t miss often.

Back upstairs the three PCs cannot as yet get in to the Upper Barracks chamber, the remaining Bullywugs rally (briefly) and surround the stairs- stabbing furiously with their spears at anyone that approaches.

DM Interlude- I’ve made twenty-or-so Bullywug attacks so far (about half against Lizardfolk- 50% hit rate) but no hits as of yet on the PCs- not for the want of trying (and with Aid Other/Help to get Advantage). That said Lummins had to make use of his Warding Flare to ward off a Crit.

And so Lummins, Lux & Sgt Bobby are reduced to fighting the Bullywugs on the stairs- Lummins destroys another with his Sacred Flames. Watt, seconds later, comes to their help- a Thunderwave clears a few Bullywugs back but fails to kill any of the hoping bastards (his damage roll was something like ‘4’, nice one).

The PCs keep missing their attack rolls, and when hitting rolling spectacularly low for damage.

Meanwhile, down below Ping (Lizardfolk) cuts the last Bullywug down- two have escaped out the window and in to the moat, the other 22 are dead. The rest of the Lizardfolk head upstairs, just as Sgt Bobby cuts his way (at last) through the Bullywugs blocking the top of the stairs. That’s enough fighting for my bad guys- all of the Bullywugs left standing (5 or 6 of them) flee the scene. They hop en masse through the western door and in to the Stable Loft, Lux gets after them- Eldritch Blasting as she goes- and missing (she’s only hit once so far, Sandy’s dice are really broken).

Then Sgt Bobby misses twice more, Lummins once more, and Watt (with his bow) is just wide of the mark. The Players at this point are screaming at their dice, at each other, themselves, me- and several inanimate objects that have somehow contrived to ‘get in their way’.

Remarkably the Scaly Death Lizardfolk are much more accurate than the PCs- Ping (again) takes down two Bullwugs on his turn.

Which obviously goes down really well with the Players- they can’t hit with their PCs, while they’re hitting over 50% of the time when rolling for their Lizardfolk. It made me laugh at the time.

And so the last four Bullywugs flee through the Loft and then leap down in to the Stable below, Sgt Bobby spins a dagger in to the back of one of the amphibians- and kills it- the three remaining amphibians make it to the doors of the Stable, where they’re croaking up a racket.

Watt heads back downstairs in a rush, the Bard attempts to head the Bullywugs off, or else to get close enough to shut them up (permanently) before they attract attention.

54 Outer Ward Cultists.jpg

The Bard skids to a halt just as he exits the building- in the middle of the Outer Courtyard are easily a dozen Dragon Cultists (and a trio of leashed Guard Drakes), several of the Cultists are heading in his direction. Watt thinks back, what could have alerted the Dragon Cultists to their presence? A Shatter spell? Fireball? Thunderwave? All of the above in quick succession? Too late now, the secret is out.

Watt (dressed as a Cultist remember) waves at his fellow Dragon Cultists and limply states “it’s all under control- Bullywugs Tsk!”

He rolls something beginning with ‘3’ for his Deception check, plus bonuses of course.

At that exact moment the Stable door bursts open and the first panicked fleeing Bullwug hops out- two more equally panicked Bullywugs follow behind accompanied by the sound of Lux’s Eldritch Blasts (both misses- again) echoing after.

It’s all got a bit out of control.

Bugger it.

Watt spends an Inspiration Point and fires an enhanced Shatter spell in to the nearest concentration of bad guys- three Dragon Cultists are killed in an instant, the Dragonclaw holding the leash of the Guard Drake can barely stand (on 2 hit points), the Drake is merely scratched- but enraged all the same. Watt screams for help and then takes a step back in to the building.

The four Dragonclaws (one very badly wounded) take charge of the situation- immediately sending Cultist runners to go get Dral & Rezmir, of course the PCs don’t know this- or even see this.

The badly wounded Dragonclaw unleashes his Guard Drake and then retreats, the Drake charges in to the building and attacks Watt, who is joined at this point by his Lizardfolk companion- George, that’s nice- they’re going to die together.

A second Guard Drake rushes in to the building, and at Watt- four attacks (between the two Drakes) and all misses. It’s contagious.

Sgt Bobby and Bungle (his Lizardfolk companion) join Watt & co in the melee, as do several Cultists and a Dragonclaw.

Back in the Outer Courtyard Lux exits the Stable and takes in the scene- three Bullwugs hopping off north (to the Inner Ward), while a Dragonclaw with a Guard Drake and a quartet of Cultists are coming her way, and at speed. Ping (her Lizardfolk companion) joins her, Lux fires an Eldritch Blast (a hit at last- oh, and one more miss) in to the Dragonclaw, then starts screaming for back up. Lummins has to run hard to get to her side.

55 Outer Ward Cultists Part 2.jpg

And so, we have two fights- at the Stables Lux & Lummins (with their Lizardfolk friends- Ping & Gawp) versus four Cultists, a Dragonclaw and a Guard Drake; and in the Bullywug’s (former) lair Watt & Sgt Bobby (again with their Lizardfolk friends- George & Bungle) against a Cultist, a Dragonclaw and two Guard Drakes.

Of course, we play both fights at the same time- Watt opens up with an enhanced Thunderwave, the Bard is in the process, as per usual, of expending all of his spell inventory in consecutive rounds. The two Guard Drakes and the Dragonclaw suffer- and are pushed back, the Cultist is killed outright.

Bungle cuts down the Dragonclaw, there is much joy- the Players cheer and holler, then one of the Guard Drakes rushes in and bites Bungle’s head clean off.

The cheering stops- Bungle the Lizardfolk (beloved of Sgt Bobby, that’s crazy Pete) is no more.

Pete is not happy.

Sgt Bobby rushes in and slices in fury at the killer Guard Drake, he misses- twice, he actually missed three times in a row- he screamed that he would spend his Inspiration Point to attack again- rolled a ‘3’ and then was swiftly informed by me that he had already spent his Inspiration Point. That went down well.

The second Guard Drake grabs George in its jaws and shakes the Lizardfolk like a ragdoll, smashing its skull repeatedly on the floor and walls.

George dies.

Jackie (playing Watt, and George the Lizardfolk) is really not happy.

Skip to the other fight at the Stables- Lux is set upon by Cultists and slashed repeatedly, the Warlock bleeds- and now Sandy is unhappy too, Lux doesn’t usually get anywhere near combat (and/or danger).

Lux thins out her attackers with a Shatter spell- two Cultists and the Dragonclaw briefly throw crazy shapes and then sag to the floor- spirits and bodies broken.

Lummins fires off his Burning Hands- the remaining two Cultists are incinerated in an instant, while the Guard Drake is now badly hurt.

Seconds later Gawp & Ping rush in and finish the Drake off.

Easy!

This fight is done.

And so back to the former Bullywug lair- Watt spams the Thunderwave button, the building shudders and again both Guard Drakes are hurt (a little bit- he’s still rolling very low for damage) and pushed back a bit.

Not for long- both Drakes rush back in to action. The Bard is bitten, and seconds later Sgt Bobby is slammed by the second Drake’s hefty tail and left winded.

Sgt Bobby is on maybe seven hit points.

Did I mention that Pete isn’t happy.

Sgt Bobby slashes the nearest Drake for 21 damage, including 8 from Bardic Inspiration- Watt has only just remembered to use this- they’re desperate and have been scanning their Character Sheets for any ‘spare’ powers et al.

Watt stabs a Guard Drake with his rapier, he’s fed up of rolling low damage with his spells, the beast is now very badly wounded, it still however has the strength left to bite Watt again, and now the Bard is beyond bloodied too.

The other Drake hits Sgt Bobby with its tail again- the Fighter almost falls (down to 1 Hit Point).

At which point Lux and Lummins arrive to save the day. Note there are a few Dragon Cultists (actually a pair of Dragonclaws) still observing from the Outer Courtyard, but they’re waiting on reinforcements and the arrival of their bosses- Rez and/or Dral.

Lux, armed with her Shillelagh (fed up of missing with her Eldritch Blasts) attacks (and hits) one of the Guard Drakes, Lummins hits the same beast with a Sacred Flame, Sgt Bobby cuts it down (thanks only to some more Bardic Inspiration, without it he would have missed twice more).

There’s just one Guard Drake left in the fight- which has been going on now for something like eighteen rounds- starting with the initial attack on the Bullywugs in their lair.

Lummins catches the last beast with another Sacred Flame (it’s bloodied- at last), the Guard Drake however hasn’t finished- thrashing around it bites Lux- the Warlock is now also beyond bloodied.

Watt steps out of the action and grabs out his magical longbow, and… ‘1’.

It was an emotional moment- well, for me- I had tears in my eyes I was laughing so hard.

Gawp & Ping (the Lizardfolk) catch up with the action and wade in to the Guard Drake- three hits out of four attacks, it’s easy this… the Players are (sorta) furious, however the last Drake is nearly down.

Lux steps in with her Shillelagh, and… ‘1’.

I swear some wee came out.

Lummins burns the beast with Sacred Flames- it dies.

The fight is over, only…

“Who are you? What do you want?” In the new found silence the PCs hear shouting coming from the Outer Courtyard, it’s Dralmorrer Borngray who is killing time waiting for Rezmir (Half-Black Dragon Cultist boss) to arrive on the scene.

56 Outer Ward Dral.jpg

The charming PCs (Lux, Watt & Lummins) exchange pleasantries with Dral (but do not as of yet step out of the building), and we break for a bit of chatter- Dral is trying to buy the PCs off, or else find a way for them to go away (or join the Cult). The PCs are keen for the Dragon Cultists to surrender or die- the last option favoured repeatedly (and loudly) by Sgt Bobby, who is taking every opportunity to insult Dral and his host.

The PCs eventually get their confidence back- a round or two of swigging Healing Potions will do that- the quartet (actually sextet including the two Lizardfolk survivors- Gawp & Ping) move out the building and in to the Outer Courtyard. There are a lot more Cultists in the Outer Courtyard- that’s not good, and so the PCs latest plan is to try to subtly and surreptitiously move around towards the exit (the Causeway)- just in case even more Cultists turn up.

Also in order to get a good look at their enemies- to see who and what they’re facing, they spot Dral (Elf Dragon Cult Wearer of Purple), a pair of plain old Cultists and maybe eight Dragonclaws (actually 6 Dragonclaws and a pair of Dragonwings- they’re tougher still). The PCs however can’t see Azbara Jos (the Red Wizard of Thay) hiding away in the rear.

The chatter goes on a while- with nothing much getting agreed but plenty being said- Pete (playing Sgt Bobby) is still taking every opportunity to insult the Cultists, until…

Lummins (played by Rob, normally the mild-mannered placid guy) catches everyone on the hop and launches a Fireball in to the middle of the Cultists. He rolls 33 damage on 8d6- the Bastard. Only Dral (bloodied- he took full damage), both Dragonwings and one Dragonclaw (on 3 HP) survive, oh and the hidden Azbara Jos of course.

The Players are laughing like drains- right until Rezmir accompanied by yet more of her Cult buddies steps out of one of the other buildings (the Chapel).

Rez’s Cult buddies include 10 Cultists, four more Dragonclaws and another Dragonwing.

The PCs fall back a bit…

Rezmir isn’t messing about, she immediately (and loudly) orders Dral to destroy the PCs (should he fail to do so then she will kill Dral herself)– then a bit of chat for the PCs (“you again- you’re too late, and now you’re going to die”), and then strides off, catching up with Azbara Jos, and heading for the Teleportation Circle below the castle.

Dral flips out and screams at the Cultists to charge/kill/slaughter the PCs, he really embraces the role.

57 Outer Ward Rez.jpg

Watt launches another Shatter spell- four Cultists die. Dral fires three Magic Missiles in to Sgt Bobby, another one of the charging Cultists gets to the Fighter and slashes him with his scimitar, and a Crit- Sgt Bobby is briefly bloodied. He gets his Second Wind and then Crits and kills one of the already wounded Dragonwings.

The PCs retreat back to the entrance to the Bullywug’s former lair.

Dral orders a quartet of Cultists (a wounded Dragonwing & three Dragonclaws) to go through Stables and circle in behind the PCs.

Lux meanwhile takes down a wounded Dragonclaw with another Eldritch Blast.

Lummins, saving the best to last- grabs out his holy symbol and fires off his Radiance of the Dawn- and bugger me but I miss a lot of my saves. Five Cultists and three Dragonclaws succumb to the Radiant burst.

The only bad guys left in the fight are a badly wounded Dral, a Dragonwing & a terrified Cultist- oh and the other four Cultists Dral just sent in to the Stable to circle around the PCs.

Dral screams for the Stable guys to get back here, and then rushes to cut at Sgt Bobby with his longsword- he slices the Fighter, and Sgt Bobby is bloodied again. He cuts back (a ‘1’ and a miss), they really are rolling low.

Pete stomps around swearing for a bit, although that’s no biggie- it’s his go-to response for all such situations.

The Dragonwing also slashes Sgt Bobby, he’s back down to 5 Hit Points.

Pete goes swear-nova.

The Dragon Cultists previously heading to the Stables come rushing back, and double move straight in to the action.

Lux takes down another badly wounded Dragonwing with her (now) dependable Eldritch Blast. She calls for the Cultists to surrender- the Cultist foot soldiers eager to give it up look to Dral, but the High Elf fights on… The PCs make note of the exchange- knock Dral down and they’re done.

Ping and Gawp (the big hitting Lizardfolk) take down the last two Cultists.

Sgt Bobby hits Dral- at last, and the High Elf surrenders.

The other Cultists also throw down their weapons, and at last- the fighting is over, at least for a bit.

The entire snowball encounter took a little over two hours to play out- real time.

The captured Dragon Cultists are tied and bagged, and then frogmarched back to the Barbican, and Strike Team #2. Strike Team #1 are spent, and we break for a good thirty minutes while the Players refresh and replay various sections of the epic fight.

The PCs are taking a Short Rest, and then get to interrogate Dral and the captured Cultists.

DM Interlude- Sgt Bobby spends his Hit Dice to heal and rolls 1, 2, 2, 2 and 2- he’s still bloodied! Pete is apoplectic- the other Players are obviously laughing like drains.

I may have smirked once or twice, y’know- just to join in.

And so, the rest of the session is spent in Q&A with Dral and the captured Cultists, the PCs learn more about the layout of the castle and what chambers are where- Dral is very honest, he wants to live, and bargains furiously for his life. Lux eventually states that all of the Cultists will be allowed to live- and possibly to claim a new life for themselves, a good life- the Cultists just need to change their ways and embrace the Light.

I think was channelling her previous PC- Myrium the Blessed.

At this point there are no further Cultists left in the castle- that was all of them, Rezmir and Azbara Jos have already departed the scene- obviously the PCs don’t know this as of yet but they’re fairly certain they’ve wiped out a large chunk of the bad guys.

After a brief chat amongst themselves, and then another chat with Snapjaw, the PCs decide to head down below next- they’re going to find Fartbox (Pharblex) and destroy him (and the Bullywugs), as promised.

Oh and Strike Team #1 has been rounded out with two Lizardfolk replacements joining the throng to replace the fallen, we have- Jar-Jar (Watt) & Binks (Sgt Bobby).

But that’s the end of this session.

Again, my apologies for the stylings on an eleven-year-old with the narrative.
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Session #35 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #21 All Bullywugs Must Die.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 5
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 5
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 5
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 5

Secondary PCs.
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 5
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 5
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 5
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 5


Note, this is session #35 of our game but only session #21 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

The Glorious Lizardpeople’s Revolution is more-or-less done, although the Players don’t actually know this yet. The PCs have infiltrated Castle Naerytar, killed the Bullywug defenders of the Barbican, persuaded the Lizardfolk guards formerly loyal to Dral to come over to their side, killed hordes (34 in total) of Bullywugs (but not Fartbox = Pharblex), and in the process drawn the attention of the Dragon Cultists. Then in a massive battle (lasting 20+ turns) they defeated Dral (Elven Dragon Cultist leader of the castle’s defences) and all of his Cultists (including 12 Dragonclaws & 4 Dragonwings)- taking a good few of them prisoner (including Dral). Alas during the confrontation Rezmir (Half-Black Dragon high ranking Cult leader) escaped in to the tunnels below the castle, along with Azbara Jos (Red Wizard of Thay).

After a brief rest, much of which was spent interrogating Dral & the captured Cultists the PCs have learned more about the layout of the castle, including the fact that Fartbox (Pharblex) and the Bullywugs are down below guarding some sort of magic portal to who knows where, which more than likely has very recently been used by the fleeing Rezmir & Azbara.

The PCs have obviously got more questions to ask but after their brief rest their keen to get on below, figuring they’ll leave the upper levels of the castle until later to explore (or else the Lizardfolk can explore them). Their prisoners (including Dral) are left with members of Strike Team #2 (Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk), Hotlips (Halfling Rogue), Derek (Human Druid) & Sgt Harald (Dwarf Fighter)) also present are plenty of friendly Lizardfolk now being ordered around by Snapjaw- the instigator of the Glorious Lizardpeople’s Revolution.

Oh, and two of the Brother’s Lizardfolk accomplices were killed in the last session, the replacements are Jar-Jar (Watt (Human Bard)) & Binks (Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter)), joining Gawp (Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric)) and Ping (Lux (Human Warlock)). That’s right- each PC has a Lizardfolk servitor to play-in-game.

The Players obviously don’t know that they have slaughtered or else captured all of the Cultists (yep, every one of them), however they’re beginning to suspect that there are very few enemies left- after all they’ve just been able to take an undisturbed Short Rest. Also, members of the Scaly Death Lizardfolk clan are cautiously venturing in to the castle- there are no reports of further enemies. The PCs however are concentrating their efforts on slaughtering Fartbox (Pharblex) and his Bullywugs in order to complete their part of the deal they made with Snapjaw and the Lizardfolk. They’re obviously also in pursuit of Rezmir and Azbara.

And so, next stop the Great Hall, now being used as a dining hall and sorting room for the Cult loot arriving at the castle, there’s a pile of treasure here- although a few brave Lizardfolk have already found the hoard and taken a good chunk of it. Then through to the south west tower- the way down, although first a brief encounter with a clutch of Giant Centipedes.

The encounter starts badly for Sgt Bobby (ain’t it always the way- just ask Pete), the Fighter is searching around a partially waterlogged mostly-empty chamber when a pair of Giant Centipedes rush out to attack him- the first bites in to his heel and injects its foul poison. Sgt Bobby is back to being bloodied. More Giant Centipedes reveal themselves…

58 Centipede Tower.jpg

Lummins kills one with a Scared Flame, Sgt Bobby misses both of his attacks (Pete is furious, as usual- and we’re maybe fifteen minutes in to the session) and then gets his Second Wind. Binks (Lizardfolk) smashes another Centipede dead- there are still three of the beasts in the mix- although there’ll be another five joining the fight in a turn or two, sometimes I like to hold a few monsters back, I find it annoys the PCs more. Ping (Lizardfolk) kills another two of the small beasts- note all the PCs are rolling low and missing a lot, and I appreciate you must be sick of me writing this but… that’s what happened, again. Lux blasts the last Giant Centipede down with an Eldritch Blast.

The PCs, and Players, visibly sag- they’re fed up of their mostly broken dice, at which point five more Giant Centipedes scurry in to action. Told you- helluva annoying.

Sgt Bobby presses forward in to the nest and cuts another down, Jar-Jar (Lizardfolk) wades in and cuts two of the beasts down- the Lizardfolk are still doing great in combat. Ping (Lizardfolk) gets bitten, as does Sgt Bobby (yet again).

Note Watt’s first three attack rolls in this fight were ‘1’, then ‘2’, then ‘3’- so at least he’s improving. After three rounds Sgt Bobby had rolled three 1’s, as had Lux. By my reckoning the PCs made 15 attacks in total- in the first three rounds (Lummins has been casting Sacred Flames- no attack roll) nearly 50% of them (7) have been 1’s, while 12 of the 15 have been misses- the Giant Centipedes are AC 13. It’s a funny old game, as they say, and the Players after this fight are absolutely furious.

Gawp & Ping (Lizardfolk) kill the last two Giant Centipedes- which (again) doesn’t help the Player’s moods, although of course they are rolling for the Lizardfolk, it’s just when they get to their PCs that their (same) dice break.

The fight is over- the room (and ground floor of the tower) are searched- there’s nothing interesting to be found. Sgt Bobby pleads with his comrades for some healing, but Watt and Lummins are reluctant- they’re preserving their spells as they’ve not got many left. The Sgt has to make do with a few more Healing Potions.

The Brothers et al move on, down the stairs and in to the subterranean lair of the Bullywugs, the first chamber is brightly lit by two lanterns, a natural cavern with running water- Watt finds plenty of muddy Bullywug tracks heading to and from both obvious exits. The Brothers head south east, down two flights of stairs and in to a very muddy chamber, suddenly a pair of Bullywugs leap from hiding and launch themselves at Sgt Bobby.

59 Mud Room Bullywugs.jpg

Sgt Bobby although surprised has enough about him to keep both of them at bay. Lux Eldritch Blasts one of the pair dead. Another hidden Bullywug launches itself at Lummins, the Cleric fends it off, and yet another repeats the trick- this time latching on to Sgt Bobby’s leg with a bite (and a Crit, lordy lordy- that’s a turn up, me Critting Sgt B).

Oh! Pete is going Kray-Zee.

The Lizardfolk charge in to action, they hate the Bullywugs- Ping takes one of the bastards down, as does Jar-Jar, as usual.

Unseen by the adventurers another pair of hidden Bullywugs hop off to report the news of the PCs arrival to Fartbox (Pharblex), this isn’t going to be easy for the adventurers, the amphibians are on home turf.

Watt fires an arrow in to the last Bullywug standing, Sgt Bobby finishes it off- the fight is done.

DM Interlude- I’ve tripled the numbers of Bullywugs in the lair, just because… well, why not- Bullywugs have proved to be very easy to kill, let’s see how it works out.

The PCs don’t hang about- they move on quickly, through the tunnels and down a treacherous flight of slick and muddy stairs- although they all make it down without any issues. Straight in to another filthy cavern chamber, again thick with mud- the place is like a furnace, and the air is damp and foetid- it’s swamp-like, and hellish.

Watt and Lux prevent their colleagues from rushing in- the pair observe the chamber (with help from Lummins’ Light spell). Sandy (playing Lux) is soon back in charge of the situation, for the first time in a long while, they’re going to be moving slower now- more cautious. The tactic pays off immediately- there are nests of Centipedes all around the chamber- the Bullywugs are leading the PCs this way, Lux believes.

60 Mud Room Centipede Swarms.jpg

There follows a short debate, Pete (playing Sgt Bobby) is all for onwards- always onwards, Sandy (playing Lux) argues that they should at least check out the other direction, rather than waste their resources wading through encounters here. It’s soon three against one, the Brothers of the First Light and their Lizardfolk helpers turn tail and head back the way they came.

Back to the first chamber and then to the other exit, north west in to another open chamber bisected by a fifteen-foot drop- there’s a crane of sorts here, probably used to move the Cultist loot- Lux observes. Which confirms, she confidently states, that this is obviously the right way to go. Pete (Sgt Bobby) keeps quiet.

The lower half of the chamber is even more foetid, and with a thick mist ahead- Lummins and Watt make use of their Light spells, although there’s nothing much to see- ahead a crossroads of sorts, the mist seems to thin in to the passage straight across.

The Brothers et al move forward- in to another seemingly empty chamber, although over the far side is something interesting- a permanent teleportation circle, discovered and identified by Lummins. The Priest and Lux explain that they’ll need the password or pass-phrase to use it- but where does it go?

At which point however the bad guys arrive- en masse, there are no other exits from this chamber- a solid stone wall at the PCs backs. Bullywugs come hoping out of the mist (ten of them, although there are plenty more to come), making enough noise for the PCs to hear their croaking approach.

61 Bullywug ATTACK.jpg

It kicks off- Lummins hits the first with a Sacred Flame, Sgt Bobby steps forward and finishes it off. The wave of Bullywugs hop in to the midst of the good guys- Gawp is speared several times and badly injured, Jar-Jar is likewise hurt- the Lizardfolk soak up the hits.

Watt lets loose a Thunderwave- more Bullywugs suffer, one dies.

Lux screams a warning- another ten or so Bullywugs hop through the mist and in to action, and by the sound of things there’s another wave of attackers coming (there is, be sure of it). She Eldritch Blasts another Bullywug dead.

Just for info I think I went for 30-something Bullywugs, plus Fartbox (Pharblex) in this encounter- I wanted to try and swamp the PCs.

And from without the chamber an echoing croaky voice starts makes threats in broken Common- “GREAT Pharblex and his MIGHTY horde will destroy you puny dryling ghosts!”, and, “Attack my sweet babbling Bullywugs- feast on the flesh of the stenchless ones!”, and, “I Feel Like Human Tonight!” (to the tune of ‘I Feel Like Chicken Tonight!’). That kind of thing- Fartbox (Pharblex) finishes casting his Barkskin spell, he will follow in with the third and final wave of attackers.

I just wanted to let the PCs know that this is the big one.

Jar-Jar gets stabbed again. Lummins blasts another Bullywug dead with his Sacred Flames. Sgt Bobby cuts another two down (and bugger me but the PCs are now hitting all of the time) but is bitten again for his troubles. Gawp gets stabbed again, he’s on 1 HP.

Jar-Jar gets stabbed again, I think I’ve said that before- the Lizardfolk is now also heavily wounded, he does however manage to kill another Bullywug. Watt fires a Shatter spell in to the mix resulting in more injured Bullywugs, but no deaths (he’s still rolling low for damage). Lux screams in frustration this time- both of her Eldritch Blasts are misses. Binks (another Lizardfolk, remember) stabs a Bullywug dead.

62 Bullywug ATTACK Part 2.jpg

There’s a lot of them…

Jar-Jar gets stabbed again, as he does at the start of every turn it seems, he’s down to 3 HP. Lummins moves in to the front line and unleashes a Burning Hands- five Bullywugs are incinerated- Woo-Hoo. Sgt Bobby cuts another down. Watt wounds another four (and again- low damage rolls) with yet another Thunderwave (his very last spell). Lux follows up with a Shatter, directed straight in to the middle of the third wave of Bullywugs (there are another 16 Bullywugs in the third wave)- seven of them are killed in an instant.

Pharblex follows the third wave in and fires an Entangle spell in to the PCs and Lizardfolk, alas only Watt & Ping fail their saves and are Restrained by the sudden sprouting plants. Seconds later the Bard is bitten by a Bullywug- a Crit.

Jar-Jar is stabbed again- remarkably for only 2 damage, so the Lizardfolk is now on 1 HP, the same as Gawp. Lummins moves in to the front line and unleashes his Radiance of the Dawn- and revealed by the dazzling light (now sans foggy mist) there are only five Bullywugs and Fartbox (Pharblex) left standing (nine killed by the radiant burst).

Sgt Bobby screams something fairly savage, and unbroadcastable, and then rushes straight at Fartbox, taking Opportunity/Reaction attacks (all misses) as he swerves his way through the remaining Bullywugs. The magnificent Fighter hits Fartbox three times in quick succession (with added Action Surge) all hits- of course (and for 32 damage in total).

Pharblex flees the scene, screaming for his comrades to “FLEE the terrible dry-ones!”, Lux fires an Eldritch Blast in to the retreating Bullywug boss.

Meantime Binks gets both stabbed and bitten, the Lizardfolk fights back and slays two of the fleeing Bullywugs. Watt escapes his Entangled-ness and kills another. Gawp takes another Bullywug down- so there’s just one left, and Pharblex who has already escaped the chamber. Thirty-seven went in, two came out.

The pair only escape for a short time however- Lummins Sacred Flames the common-or-garden Bullywug- it dies, while Fartbox (Pharblex) is chased down by the now grinning Sgt Bobby- he blocks the creature’s path and orders it to surrender, using the language of the gutter- I may add, oh- and in the Common tongue.

Soon after the rest of the Brothers of the First Light and their Lizardfolk companions turn up- at which point the PCs have to switch to stopping the Lizardfolk from immediately offing Fartbox. It doesn’t help that Fartbox is wearing the rotting head of Suncaller (the Scaly Dread clan’s Shaman, remember) as a hat.

A little provocative.

Eventually the PCs calm the Lizardfolk down with the promise that they will hand Fartbox over to them when they are done with him- all bargained out in Draconic, a language the PCs hope that Fartbox doesn’t understand (he doesn’t).

And so Fartbox (Pharblex) is dragged back in to the chamber in which all of his former Bullywug comrades lie dead, and then interrogated. I’ll be honest- it gets graphic and adult briefly, Sgt Bobby is not holding back. Some people are all talk, he’s all action- over the course of next twenty or so painful minutes he doesn’t ask a single question- he leaves that to Lummins, Lux and Watt. Sgt Bobby takes care of the stabbing and breaking of things (mostly limbs).

Basically, the Brothers of the First Light torture Fartbox a while, and learn… well, nothing much. They hardly need Lummins’ Zone of Truth (his last) spell, the Bullywug leader knows the names of all of the Cult leaders but not much else. Nothing about the teleportation circle- save that it exists. It seems that Pharblex is just the hired help, the PCs are less than impressed.

The rest of the session, which is quite a chunk of time- another hour or more of play, was a bit of a failure, two of the PCs- Sgt Bobby & Lux (Pete & Sandy) have a minor disagreement or two about what the group should do next.

Sgt Bobby who is out of Hit Dice for healing and has maybe one Potion of Healing left- and is bloodied still, is keen to get back to Dral and extract the password or phrase for the teleportation circle (by any means necessary) or else tear the castle apart to find it. Then fire up the circle and leap in to the unknown.

Lux favours a more cautious approach- none of the PCs have any spells left, they’re bloodied or thereabouts- and, and this is the winning entry- they need to get word somehow to their various faction bosses about where they are and what they’re doing. Although the Warlock has no-clue how to achieve the latter task.

The argument rumbles on for a good while.

While the PCs are still cogitating, they go for a stroll around the home of the Bullywugs, parading a manacled and gagged Fartbox (Pharblex) around the caverns, shouting out threats as they go- and forewarning any remaining Bullywugs that they are coming, and that they have Fartbox. Note, there are a dozen or so more Bullywugs still alive down here, and a similar number of Giant Frogs, however my monsters mostly stay out of sight- and as it turns out there’s nothing else to find in the caverns beneath the castle.

Note Fartbox has been beaten to within an inch of his life (on 1 Hit point), the Bullywug is done for, and so- soon after, they PCs return to the surface- still arguing, although it’s pretty much three on to one at this point. The three are for the cautious approach- search the castle- find the teleportation password, or get it from Dral, and then take an Extended Rest before heading through the portal.

Taking an Extended Rest will also solve the problem of getting the information out, Lummins can use a Sending spell to send a brief message to Leosin Erlanthar, his Harper contact.

And yet still they’re arguing.

It’s not that I don’t see both Players POVs- Pete is all for getting on with it, he loves the danger because it’s exciting- and he seems entirely cool with putting his PC at risk. The other Players are much less excited by the prospect, they want their PCs to have a better chance of living- full HP, spells etc.

Over the course of the next hour there are thirty-seven (or around about that number) attempts to persuade Sgt Bobby to get on board with the program. But what happens if the teleportation circle takes us right in to the middle of a Dragon Cult stronghold- without spells and still wounded? That gets said, thirty-seven slightly different versions…

Eventually Sgt Bobby goes for a lie down to think about things, while Pete goes in to the garden to kick things.

The remaining three adventurers, while Pete’s away- for much of the last hour, get a bunch of stuff done.

They accomplish the following-

1) Fartbox is handed over to Snapjaw, the Lizardfolk- in a moving ceremony, flay the Bullywug alive and then feed him (still alive, just) to the crocodiles- which is nice.

2) Dral, and several other Cultists, are re-interviewed (without menaces this time), although no new info is obtained, it doesn’t help that PCs don’t have a Zone of Truth spell to employ (because Dral does know the password to the portal, he also knows where it goes).

3) The Chapel building is searched top-to-bottom, after all this is where Rezmir was holed up- a slew of useful information is located (and some other gew-gaws), including- of course the password- “Draezir” for the teleportation circle.

4) The PCs take an Extended Rest, and awake Level 6 adventurers, at which Pete comes back in from the garden and levels up Sgt Bobby.

The levelling up however signals the end of the session, the argument wasn’t that bad really- just irreconcilable for an hour or so.

Everybody who needed to (sorta) apologised later via e-mail, and all was instantly forgiven and forgotten (fingers-crossed), obviously we’ll put that statement to the test in the next session.

Till then.
 
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Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Session #36 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #22 Talis Meets Frulam.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 6
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 6
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 6
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 6

Secondary PCs.
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 6
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 6
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 6
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 6


Note, this is session #36 of our game but only session #22 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

Oh, and did you notice- they’re all Level 6 now- Woo, and indeed, Hoo!

If you remember there was a little bit of a falling out at the end of the last session, which resulted in Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter played by Pete) going for a wander to think about things. So, were back- all of us rededicated to the cause, it’s happy families all the way for the Brothers of the First Light from this moment on.

Yeah, right!

Last session ended with the PCs having captured Castle Naerytar, in the process destroying Fartbox (Pharblex) and his Bullywug minions, capturing or killing all of the Dragon Cultists (including Dral, a Wearer of Purple), and in the process freeing the Scaly Death Lizardfolk from the yolk of tyranny. Damn that yolk, the albumen isn’t too bad, but the yolk…. Don’t get me started on the yolk!

Alas Rezmir (Half-Black Dragon Cult leader) and Azbara Jos (Red Wizard of Thay) have fled through a magical portal located in the Bullywug caverns beneath the castle, the PCs have since located the password to this portal, and then taken an Extended Rest- this decision being the source of the last session’s falling out. Sgt Bobby was desperate to press on, even though he and the rest of the PCs were fairly (very) low on resources- no spells and few hit points.

Oh, and in a moment of clever Lux asks the captured Dral for the name of the Red Wizard of Thay- so, it’s Azbara Jos- and while you have been reading that name for the past I don’t know how long, the PCs have only just learned it.

This session however starts with a speech, which soon turns in to a love-in, Sgt Bobby (Pete) having had two weeks (between sessions) to think about things has something to say. It starts with ‘sorry’ and then goes on to explain his reasons for sometimes acting like a ‘petulant child’ (Pete’s words), it all started in his childhood… kidding, but he has his reasons- and now we know them. After the speech comes the glistening eyes, and the mutual love-in because we do indeed love Pete, who couldn’t- with his sad eyes and black t-shirt clad paunch. So, we’re all the best of friends again, in truth I wasn’t aware there was a time when we were anything other than the best of friends.

We move on, to a new emotional and spiritual plane. With the hope, postulated repeatedly and loudly by all four players, of smushing more of my bad guys and in general upsetting all of my plans. The Brothers of the First Light have found new impetus for their cause- they have rededicated themselves to pissing me off. Oh, how we (they) laughed- dagnabbit.

And so, now we are ready to plunge through the magical portal in pursuit of Rezmir & Azbara, only… Lux (Human Warlock) has remembered that when they were doing their reconnaissance of the castle, prior to the revolution proper, she spotted that the Keep in the centre of the structure had a glass roof, like an observatory. Lux stated at the time that she wanted to investigate this place when the fighting was done- and then she, and her comrades in arms, swiftly forgot all about it.

Well, now she’s remembered again (between sessions), and so… there are no dissenters, the Brothers of the First Light enter the lower floor of the Keep for a nose around. A very neat bedchamber on the ground floor contains a locked and magically trapped chest, at least that’s what Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) thinks, and is soon proved right when the trap goes off and the Halfling suffers minor acid burns. The chest is empty… of course, Azbara took his spellbook with him.

On the next floor up another very nice bedroom, with equally well-appointed adjoining rooms, gives up a chest full of cash, actually Dral’s emergency fund- he won’t be needing it. Then up another flight of stairs and in to the observatory proper- which is exactly what the chamber is. Lux explains to Sgt Bobby that the strange metal and glass device (the Fareseer of Illusk- although the Warlock actually thinks the device is just an odd-looking telescope) is used to observe heavenly bodies, nicely setting up Sgt Bobby (Pete) for a very crude reply.

At which point the four Gargoyles sitting atop the castle battlements suddenly leap in to life and shatter their way in to the observatory. Alas only Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) spots the stony monsters before they swoop in to attack- Watt (Human Bard) and Lux are both clawed, while Lummins is bitten- his Warding Flare fails to save him. The Priest of Lathander is not at all happy and immediately unleashes his Radiance of the Dawn- all of the Gargoyles suffer in the burst of holy light.

63 Gargoyles.jpg


Hotlips scurries away from the Gargoyle attacking her (Disengage) and then heads over- rapier in hand to help out Lux, moments later the Gargoyle facing the Warlock is beyond bloodied (Jackie knows how to get in her Sneak Attack). Lux finishes the beast off with a Shocking Grasp.

That’s the first one down- easy as.

Watt keeps a Gargoyle at bay and then stabs it with his rapier- the weapon (not magical) barely leaves a scratch, the Bard lets his colleagues know. Lummins’ Warding Flare fails again, and the Priest is bitten once more. The Gargoyle Hotlips avoided chases the Halfling Rogue down but fails again to land a blow (‘1’ & ‘1’).

Lummins fills the observatory with the spectral spirits of Lathander’s warriors of Light (he casts Spirit Guardians). Sgt Bobby hits the Gargoyle facing Watt twice- Talon, his magical longsword, cuts deep. Hotlips also stabs the Gargoyle she’s facing, but her dagger lacks the magical taint needed to really hurt her foe, Lux grabs at the creature and unleashes another Shocking Grasp (and another hit) but still the Gargoyle persists.

Then the initiative counter ticks around to one of the Gargoyles, and the beast is swiftly bested by Lummins’ Spirit Guardians- smashed to pieces.

Two down.

The Gargoyle facing Lummins however seems unconcerned by the ghostly attackers- it bites the Priest again (Warding Flare fails for the third time in quick succession)- he’s bloodied.

Watt gets his bow out (it’s magic) and sinks an arrow in to one of the two remaining Gargoyles, who are proving to be tough bastards, seconds later the same beast- beset on all sides by Spirit Guardians attempts to flee the scene and gets stabbed in the leg by Hotlips’ magical rapier and immediately ceases functioning, it drops to shatter on the floor.

Three down.

Just one Gargoyle left, still attacking Lummins, Sgt Bobby rushes over and stabs the elemental creature, Lux hits it with an Eldritch Blast, while Watt fires two more arrows in to it and then, at last, Lummins’ Spirit Guardian’s rip the stony bastard to pieces.

The fight is done, although for Jackie (atm playing Watt & Hotlips) and Sandy (Lux) it’s the start of the inquiry, the pair need more information- specifically, how and why were the Gargoyles so difficult to damage. Some monsters (the kindly DM states) are resistant to various forms of damage- fire, electricity, cold etc., while others require magic weapons to properly do harm to them. Certain, terrifying creatures combine both traits- with multiple resistances, and even immunity to some forms of damage. Somehow this rule has managed to evade both Jackie and Sandy, I am- they tell me, a ‘cheating bugger’ for not making this clearer. It’s a cross I am willing to bear.

Then the room gets investigated and it quickly becomes apparent that the telescope-like-device in the observatory is something far more fabulous, Lux identifies it after close inspection- it’s called the Farseer of Illusk. Even more remarkably she gets the device to work, although it produces a somewhat blurred representation- not of the stars, the device is not pointing upwards, but rather the lens points down slightly and to the west, the viewer shows the Carnath Roadhouse.

The Roadhouse is a wreck.

The compound walls have been torn down, or else burnt… or, perhaps not fire- something terrible has happened there. The roof of the main building is holed- smoke (or steam, or mist) issues from the opening. Just visible, although hard at first to ascertain, are the bodies of the fallen scattered around the compound.

And moving amongst them, very much alive, are the Dragon Cultists picking through the dead- the bastards.

Lux continues to watch through the view finder, when suddenly a Black Dragon the size of a cart-horse muscles its way out of the hole and on to the roof of the building. It roars and then turns to stare directly at the viewer, which causes the Warlock to shriek and rear up, and suddenly she’s back in the room. Lux tells her friends what she has seen, and less than a minute later a decision is made- it’s the most decisive I’ve ever seen them.

The Brothers of the First Light are heading for the portal- now, although if possible they’re going to come back for the Farseer of Illusk at some point in the future- they realise it would take hours to dismantle the device.

DM Interlude- just a note to say I didn’t really understand the image that the Farseer of Illusk was supposed to reveal to the PCs (in the Module), the fact that there are two Black Dragons, two Scaly Dreads is kinda- Meh! At least the effort it would take to make this some part of the story, and something of value to spy upon by the PCs, is… ridiculous. So, I went for the ‘giddy-up’ and showed the PCs the threat (the Black Dragon) and what it can do (the slaughter at the Carnath Roadhouse) and then implied it was heading the PCs way- it worked a dream.

Okay, back to the story-

En route to the portal below the following things are also achieved-

a) Snapjaw is thanked profusely, and informed that there’s a Dragon, possibly, heading this way. Snapjaw is intrigued- Lux describes the Dragon and Snapjaw is elated- it’s Scaly Dread- the Scaly Death Lizardfolk clan’s Black Dragon ruler. “Huzzah!” says Snapjaw. “Bugger that!” say the Brothers of the First Light, they’re not hanging around (even Pete, he’s been reborn) to see what Scaly Dread wants. That aside, Snapjaw is obviously overjoyed to have made the PCs acquaintance and informs them that they will always be welcome back in the Mere of the Dead (which is nice). Moments later two Lizardfolk- Gawp (Lummins) & Ping (Lux) swear to serve the named pair for a year and a day, as per their agreement. Woo-Hoo, although at least two of the Players are a little miffed that they’ve not been given Lizardfolk servitors too.

b) Lummins casts a Sending spell directed to Leosin Erlanthar (the Harper Monk the guy’s rescued), stating- “Following loot through portal Castle Naerytar, Mere Dead. Two days east Carnath Roadhouse. Friendly Lizardfolk here have Cult prisoners & info. Ware Dragon!”

c) Lummins heals himself, and then begs Watt for some more of the same- the Bard obliges; the Cleric is still wounded however, as are several of the other PCs.

The PC, after another quick chat, then attempt to take a Short Rest while waiting at the portal- they’d all really like to spend a few healing HD. However, their rest is interrupted only ten minutes later when Hotlips comes rushing back to her comrades. She’s been on watch up on the surface- the Black Dragon Scaly Dread has arrived and has started ‘punishing’ (for which read- ‘eating’) the Lizardfolk of the Scaly Death clan.

Snapjaw was the first to be eaten, the Halfling states- the revolution is well and truly over it seems.

The PCs therefore make immediate use of the magical portal, remember they’re expecting to be teleported in to a Dragon Cultist redoubt of some sort, they’re therefore as ready as they can be and primed for battle.

Episode 7: Hunting Lodge.

Which looks somewhat odd when they all instantly appear looking like a densely populated version of the silhouetted Charlie’s Angels- all in action poses with spells and swords ready for the imminent attack. They’re in a beautiful sun-dappled forest- whipped by a cooling wind, and standing between a pair of hefty looking menhirs, a well-trod track leads a hundred or-so yards to a large manor-style house. The PCs continue a while in their silhouette pose- not wanting to make a move, or a sound, just in case- but nothing stirs.

Phew.

DMs Note- the PCs are all still dressed as Dragon Cultists, with Lux doing her finest impersonation of Frulam Mondath- Wearer of Purple (she has Disguise Self AT WILL), also she’s definitely back in charge of the gang- Pete’s revolution is over.

Another decision is quickly made, the PCs retreat a little from the manor house- they’re going to try to take their much-needed rest, and only then investigate the place- or at least circle around the building.

Which, of course, doesn’t happen.

Because I am a very bad man.

Thirty minutes in to their down time the PCs come alive as a pair of Trolls accompanied by a trio of Ambush Drakes come shuffling through the undergrowth- they were attempting to creep up on the PCs, but (alas) my dice fail to make it happen.

Trolls!

64 Lodge Trolls & Drakes.jpg


Seconds later Watt is bitten as a ferocious Ambush Drake dashes straight in to the middle of the adventurers, Hotlips ducks in to the undergrowth and then with her crossbow Assassinates one of the other two Drakes. The last Drake, and its Troll handler, suddenly disappear from sight- engulfed by Lux’s Hunger of Hadar, seconds later however the Troll emerges from the inky blackness- teeth chattering and burned by acid- and howling, but also very much alive, and very angry.

Watt unleashes a Shatter spell- wounding both of the Trolls, and also the Drake biting at his legs, the latter is almost broken by the spell’s fury. One of the Trolls claws and snaps at the Bard, but Watt evades the vicious bugger. Moments later the Ambush Drake caught within the Lux’s Hunger of Hadar also emerges from the globe of darkness- battered but not broken by the spell.

Sgt Bobby gets in to action, at last, and cuts a wounded Troll- although thanks only to some Bardic Inspiration. Lummins opens up with his Scorching Rays and both Trolls are burnt, and now neither are regenerating. Moments later Hotlips emerges from hiding behind a Troll and stabs the beast repeatedly. Lux goes for a Shatter spell- a badly wounded Drake dies, and one of the Trolls is hurt some more.

Just for info neither Troll has managed to land a hit yet- it’s my dice that are broken now.

Watt’s Thunderwave kills the last Drake standing and sends one of the Trolls staggering back, both beasts are now bloodied and worse, but neither is giving up- one tears in to Hotlips, the Halfling’s Uncanny Dodge prevents some of the hurt, but she’s left badly wounded.

Sgt Bobby cuts the Troll he’s facing twice more (one a Crit) and the beast screams loud enough to wake the dead. Lummins attempts to silence it with a trio of Scorching Rays and is off-target with every attack.

Hotlips stabs the Troll she’s facing one more time, and then dives in to the vegetation behind her and burrows through it until she’s well out of sight, and reach. Lux launches a Fire Bolt in to a Troll, the creature attempts to flee- it doesn’t get far, Sgt Bobby cuts it down.

Watt retreats, grabs out his bow, and moments later fires two arrows in to the last Troll standing, which screeching like a stuck-pig as it goes, also attempts to flee the scene.

The Brothers, keen to silence the beast, give chase- briefly, Sgt Bobby manages (at long range) to thunk a dagger in its back (with a Crit), Lummins hits it with a Sacred Flames, while Hotlips emerges again from hiding and fires a crossbow bolt in to the beast. Finally, Lux takes it down with another Eldritch Blast (and yet another Crit)- the PCs gather around the beast, which is regenerating- they stab and pummel the Troll’s broken body while Lux spams the Firebolt button. The creature is destroyed.

Phew x2.

That was a less than friendly welcome to wherever the hell the PCs are.

Now time to take that much needed rest…

Except less than a minute later another Troll- accompanied by half-a-dozen Ambush Drakes that snarl and growl, and snap but never move too far away from the great beast, strides in to view and barks in broken Common- “Make sign!”

The Troll is clearly a brighter than average example of the species (it talks). The creature wears a great mossy cloak, and now the PCs are close enough they can see it has two pairs of arms- most odd (and even more terrifying, Pete states- “two more attacks every turn- EXPLETIVE GOES HERE”).

The PCs immediately make the five-fingered/headed sign of Tiamat.

Trepsin (the four-armed Troll) nods, then takes in the scene- dead Ambush Drakes and crisping, still smoking, Troll corpses. It nods, smirks and then grunts “Sorry”, then, “Follow”, and then turns and strides off- Ambush Drakes excitedly following, heading back towards the manor house.

Do the PCs attack the creature?

Nope, somewhat reluctantly they follow- they’ve got their backstory sorted, they’ve used it a few times now, and besides- it’s mostly Lux (Sandy) and the more charming PCs (Watt & Lummins) that do the talking.

Trepsin the Troll, Lux learns the creature’s name, is swiftly pumped for information, Lux (& Watt) learn the following- the owner of the manor house is someone called ‘Talis’. That’s it.

Two minutes later the Brothers et al are deposited outside of the front door of the manor house- Trepsin simply states “Wait” and then steps inside, wiping his feet first, the Drakes- much cowed follow the Troll in.

Time passes- and the PCs chat, there’s a lot of what if’s explored, but they’re not actually that nervous- they’re a fairly confident bunch these days- whatever happens next they’ll be ready.

Five minutes later and the PCs are ushered inside, with Trepsin and his Drakes sent back outside again- so effectively behind them- the PCs are a little more wary.

Through a cloakroom and in to a well-appointed, but tatty and somewhat faded, entrance hall- with an ornate wide stair case heading up to a balconied first floor. There are wall-hangings, Gargoyle-like statues and ornamental suits of armour- the place is an old hunting lodge, latterly a few items of Dragon Cult memorabilia have been added to the collection.

65 Hunting Lodge Talis.jpg


Waiting for the Brothers et al are an array of Cultists on the stairs- three of the fellows are obviously Cult warriors or else hired muscle, they’re protecting the fourth member of the company. Talis the White, a short woman clad in pure white scalemail glimpsed beneath a Winter Wolf cloak, and armed with a wand topped with a blue gemstone which seems to shiver and mist the air surrounding it.

Talis perfunctorily makes the sign of Tiamat, and then snaps- “I was not expecting visitors. State your names and your business?”

And then the interrogation begins- I didn’t want to make it easy for the guys, this place could prove to be a pretty awesome combat encounter- and there are plenty of unseen monsters and traps that Talis can call on- a Freezing Armour Trap, Gargoyles, Kobolds, more Cultists and my favourite the Helmed Horror. So, if the Players are going to snake out of a great fight then they’re going to have to work for it.

Talis fires off questions- Who are you? Why are you here? Where have you come from? Who do you work for? What do you do for them? Who else do you know? Where else have you been?

With secondary questions added to dig deeper in to the PCs (mostly Lux with a little bit of Lummins & Watt) story.

We do twenty plus minutes of this, and the dice rolls are mostly okay to good, the Brother’s story is actually getting better every time they tell it, in essence- they were recruited way back when (remember Lux, Lummins & Watt are all ex-Cultists) they mention names. They (actually Lux says ‘I’ a lot- SHE did everything, that’s the kind of gal Frulam Mondath is, Lux has decided) established contact with Venomfang, a powerful Green Dragon based in the ruined town of Thundertree (which was where the Blessed Avengers first met (& converted) the now Brothers of the First Light). Frulam got promoted (repeatedly) a Wearer of Purple working with Cyanwrath, and for Rezmir in various camps- attacking a variety of places (including Greenest) and gathering loot. Then two months commanding the Cult loot caravan up the Sword Coast, to Waterdeep and on. Then through the portal to here.

The sticky bit, the part of their story that takes some dragging out, or else Lux (Sandy) has to sort of make up on the spot, is the why they’re here.

Lux’s answers wander about a bit for a while before settling on something like the following, note the Warlock was making Insight checks aplenty as she went on with her story- trying to read Talis’ reactions (if any). Sandy (playing Lux) started out like she was delivering her report to a ‘boss’ (and making sure that she looks good in the telling) and then changed her tack slightly (see below). Lux’s Insight checks revealed (perhaps) that Talis is no great admirer of Rezmir.

And so…

Lux goes on to explain that she and her comrades in arms have been working for Rezmir for quite a while now, and while the Half-Black Dragon is powerful, she is (respectfully) not yet a great leader. They were left to clear up the mess of Camp Dragonclaw when the place broke up. It was up to them to arrange, and then guard, the Cult loot on its journey north. Rezmir made her own way north, travelling in comparative luxury. They eventually arrived at Castle Naerytar just in time to witness a Lizardfolk revolution, and only just managed to escape the place through the portal (to here) with their lives. Rezmir- it appears, realised the way the wind was blowing with regard to the bolshie Lizardfolk at the castle, she fled through the portal yesterday. The Half-Black Dragon did not see fit to tell Lux and her comrades where she was going- or why?

Remember, every time I write ‘they’ above you need to imagine Lux (Frulam- actually Sandy, she’s a school teacher) saying “I” a lot and getting increasingly irate as she goes on.

As to why they are here? Beyond, obviously, the fact that they were fleeing for their lives- they’re also looking to catch up with Rezmir, to report in and let the Half-Black Dragon know that they are very much still alive, no thanks (respectfully) to her.

Talis is convinced- she offers Frulam (Lux) and her comrades food, advice and a deal- although she warns the PCs that they are going to have to make their choice whether to accept her deal very quickly- Rezmir did indeed pass through here yesterday, and clearly in a rush to get away. However, the Half-Black Dragon will be far away from here by some time early tomorrow…

The PCs are keen to learn more, but that’s for the next session.

The chatter at the end with Talis was great in places- I pushed them/Sandy hard (a bit), but I was eager for the story to head in this direction, so it was all just about the journey.

Remarkably Sgt Bobby (Pete) kept schtum more or less throughout, and when he did comment- once or twice, he towed the party line. I don’t know why I was surprised at the time, he did great back in Camp Dragonclaw.

More of the same next session, and I managed to get in a minor cliff-hanger, what’s Talis’ deal?
 
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MonsterEnvy

Explorer
The reason there are two Black Dragon's is because they are actual FR NPC's part of the rather famous Wyrms of North section of Dragon Magazine. Several named Dragons in the 5e Adventures are from those articles.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Ahhh… so, now I know. I've never previously been FR enabled, not read any of the books, or well... any of it except the core modules and bits of the various handbooks.

Apologies for my ignorance- it just didn't make sense (to me) in the context of the adventure, I could have perhaps found a way to work it in but it would have required a ton of backstory and ultimately (probably) an extended explanation from me. Two of the players (Sandy & Jackie) have never read any fantasy fiction, or played any other RPG- around the table, or on a PC/console. Pete and Rob on the other hand have played D&D and electronic games, but neither of them are experts with the rules, or the milieu.

I just thought I'd use the Dragon to get the PCs moving and crank up the threat, and also to try to let the PCs know that this is all about them- some of the more prescient bad guys, like the Dragon, recognise that the PCs are a threat. They're important to this story.

Thanks for the info, very much appreciated, and thanks for reading.

Goonalan
 

MonsterEnvy

Explorer
Ahhh… so, now I know. I've never previously been FR enabled, not read any of the books, or well... any of it except the core modules and bits of the various handbooks.

Apologies for my ignorance- it just didn't make sense (to me) in the context of the adventure, I could have perhaps found a way to work it in but it would have required a ton of backstory and ultimately (probably) an extended explanation from me. Two of the players (Sandy & Jackie) have never read any fantasy fiction, or played any other RPG- around the table, or on a PC/console. Pete and Rob on the other hand have played D&D and electronic games, but neither of them are experts with the rules, or the milieu.

I just thought I'd use the Dragon to get the PCs moving and crank up the threat, and also to try to let the PCs know that this is all about them- some of the more prescient bad guys, like the Dragon, recognise that the PCs are a threat. They're important to this story.

Thanks for the info, very much appreciated, and thanks for reading.

Goonalan
Yeah here is the article.

The stats are 3.5 so not useful for you, but the lore itself is a cool read. Wyrms of the North: Voaraghamanthar, "the Black Death"

Also no need to apologize. Stuff like this is normally just an easter egg.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
We D&D.

Session #37 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #23 The Hunger of Hadar.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 6
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 6
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 6
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 6

Secondary PCs.
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 6
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 6
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 6
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 6


Note, this is session #37 of our game but only session #23 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

The Brothers of the First Light et al are through the rabbit hole- or else through a magical portal and to Lathander knows where; they’re in the hills (probably), in a temperate zone- so still not too far north on the Sword Coast (probably), and at present located in a Cult held hunting lodge of sorts. The hunting lodge is owned/managed/run (whatever) by a (very?) senior Dragon Cultist called Talis. As it turns out Talis and the PCs have something in common- neither of them like Rezmir (the Half-Black Dragon Cult boss) that passed through here yesterday.

Oh, and Talis thinks that the PCs are a bunch of Dragon Cultists, recently in the employ of Rezmir, led by Frulam Mondath (part played by Lux (Human Warlock)). The PCs are very convincing Dragon Cultists- the roleplay, and their dice rolls say so, and that’s good enough for me.

65 Hunting Lodge Talis.jpg


There’s a lot of chatter at the start of this session, I’d worked up a little script- or else made a bunch of notes ahead of time, here’s how it goes down…

So, Talis has a deal to offer, or else she’s happy to help Frulam (Lux) and her companions in their efforts to catch up with the Half-Black Dragon- Rezmir. She would prefer it if Rezmir’s scheme involving the transportation of large quantities of gold (the stolen loot) heading to Tiamat knows where, was to fail. In fact, anything that makes Rezmir look bad would be good for Talis. In actual fact, now she thinks about it, if Rezmir were to meet with a fatal accident, well… that would be tragic, but Talis would learn to live with it. Obviously, Talis will deny ever meeting Frulam (Lux) and her friends, and if in the future it came out that they (Frulam and friends = the PCs) were responsible for Rezmir’s fatal ‘accident’ then she (Talis) would be the first to call for their deaths.

Which is nice to know.

Talis adds a little incentive to the deal, if the PCs fail to stop Rezmir’s plan (the transportation of the loot) then she will tell her superiors that Frulam (Lux) and friends, she has come to learn, have been plotting to kill Rezmir. She further guarantees that her superiors will believe her.

And several Insight checks later the PCs (most of them) also believe this to be true.

This is just how Lux, Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) and Watt (Human Bard) remember the Dragon Cult to be- a bunch of backstabbing nasty bastards.

Particularly the management (ain’t it always the way).

So, last bit- Talis will supply the means and the method for Frulam (still Lux) and company to get very close to Rezmir, to walk right in through the front door of the Half-Black Dragon’s present abode- which is, she explains, the flying castle of a Cloud Giant.

This last nugget of information- ‘the flying castle of a Cloud Giant’ sends several of the PCs frantically searching through their notes (including Pete- Sgt Bobby, which is amusing because Pete doesn’t make any notes). Sandy (Lux) reminds the other Players that the Golden Stag they encountered on the caravan journey to Waterdeep said something about a flying castle (to Derek (Human Druid)).

Here’s the actual quote from the previous session (#15 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen)-

The Golden Stag assures Derek that he and his companions are on the right track, and that they must continue to follow the river of gold (translated later: the Cult loot) until they reach the castle in the sky (Oh!).

The PCs can’t remember exactly what the Golden Stag said however, only that there was a flying castle somewhere in their future… perhaps that’s all the Stag said (correct).

So, the PCs (actually just Frulam = Lux) take exactly 0.372 seconds to accept the deal, Lux even fishes about a bit for a reward- yes, they’ll stop Rezmir’s plan, but if Talis wants them to kill the Half-Black Dragon then there’s got to be something in it for Frulam.

The two feisty ladies exchange barbed comments, veiled threats, and wry smiles for a short while.

Or else I bark at Sandy and she barks back at me for a bit, mostly it’s trying to make each other crack up, or else giggle.

The deal eventually negotiated is- Talis will owe Frulam a favour, or else she will give Frulam a leg-up- ensure that good things are said about her and her colleagues in all of the right places. Obviously Frulam and company must continue to be loyal to Talis, and to stay silent, any whisper of disloyalty and Talis will send Trepsin (and plenty of others) to sort them.

So that’s the conspiracy sorted, and just to say I probably could have a done a lot of this chatter (we took over thirty minutes to get this far) via e-mail with Sandy between sessions. I didn’t do it that way because I wanted everybody to hear the deal, and although Sandy did a good 90% of the talking, I wanted to give the other Players the opportunity to react to the situation and/or get involved- and potentially to say, or do, the wrong thing.

Talis hands over a Dragon Cult banner, actually just a piece of cloth with five different coloured stripes- black, blue, red, green and white; it should be displayed by the PCs to demonstrate their Cult credentials. She also provides a pass-phrase “Tiamat, our Mother and Strength”, which needs to be said when the PCs enter the main gate of the Cloud Giant flying castle. Finally, Talis provides directions to Parnast, a village about three or so hours up the trail, the present location (parked) of the Cloud Giant flying castle- which is scheduled to depart this evening.

It’s early-afternoon now, and so there’s no time like the present- Frulam (Lux, still), and her companions, offer their thanks, and then depart- at speed.

The Brothers of the First Light are semi-overjoyed, and still the most remarkable thing is that Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter played by Pete) didn’t say a word- best behaviour throughout.

My spy in the group has told me that there have been lots of e-mails between players in the last few weeks or so, basically Pete has agreed to fall in line, or else to play nicely more often. Yes, Sgt Bobby (& Sgt Harald (Dwarf Fighter)) are going to be rough, tough, and nasty- but only when it needs to happen. When there’s roleplaying to be done then Pete’s going to mostly leave it to Sandy, Rob and Jackie- it’s the part of the game he least enjoys. Actually, that’s not quite true- Pete loves (in character) shouting (and swearing) making threats and the like, he’s just less happy when he’s trying to be nice and/or negotiate with people (NPCs), particularly those NPCs that his PCs hate i.e. Dragon Cultists. Sgt Bobby, remember, is the only member of the Brothers of the First Light that isn’t an ex-Dragon Cultist, his motivation is he hates the bastards for what they did to Greenest (and for Cyanwrath humiliating him). He wants all of the Cultists to die, by his hand- if he had the choice.

The Brothers of the First Light therefore head to Parnast, following Talis’ directions, an easy journey through pleasant countryside- they are definitely in the hills however. Note none of the PCs, or the Players for that matter, know where Parnast is on the Sword Coast map.

En route, and during a short refuelling break in play, the Players wonder what info Talis possessed that they could use, or that could be of use to them in the future- after a while they’re starting to question their choice of roleplaying (deceiving) their way through the previous encounter. If they’d have attacked the bad guys could they have won? Taken Talis prisoner and discovered lots more useful info?

It’s not even Sgt Bobby (Pete) doing the doubting- it’s Lux (Sandy) and Watt (Jackie).

The other topic of conversation for their journey is- Cloud Giants and their flying castles. Sgt Bobby (actually very much Pete, out of character) is about 90% certain that Cloud Giant flying castles are linked to a specific Cloud Giant- killing the Cloud Giant in charge of the place could cause the castle to… Pete, isn’t so sure of the next bit- cease to exist, fall apart, break-up?

Also, Sgt Bobby thinks, although he’s only ‘50% certain’- his words, and yes- I know you can’t be 50% certain; certain = 100%. Anyway, he thinks that Cloud Giants, in general, are vaguely Good, as in not Evil, or maybe they’re Neutral in their outlook. He’s less sure of this ‘fact’.

Lastly, and this is the truly insightful bit- Sgt Bobby (again, Pete) is 75% certain that Giants and Dragons don’t actually get on- again, this is in general, which makes a Cloud Giant working for Dragon Cultists a bit odd. But no odder than some of the other stuff that Pete has read in WotC modules over the years, and he’s read, played (and DMed) several editions worth.

Then, then comes my surprise- the PCs are travelling along a cart path, through dappled woods- with the sound of birdsong and the susurrus wind shaking the trees and bushes. An idyll.

Even the glistening, pulsing, ball of light that hovers a little way above and ahead of the PCs is soothing… hang on! There’s a glistening, ball of light hovering just a little way above and ahead of them… WTF?

The PCs come to a halt- the light does the same.

The PCs do nothing- the light does the same.

The PCs move forward, slowly- the light does the same, maintaining the same distance from the PC’s- about ten meters.

Various PCs try various things- Lux asks the light or should that be ‘Light’- with a capital ‘L’ what it wants- the Light makes no reply. Sgt Bobby continues to stand statue- ready to go for his blade, sword hilt in hand, Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) is similarly situated- the pair are ready for any attack. Watt casts a Light cantrip and bobs his Light spell up and down- attempting some form of communication.

Lummins however has the answer, “A Blessing of Lathander”, he cries and falls to his knees- and no sooner is the last syllable of his God’s name uttered then the Light bursts and engulfs the Brothers of the First Light.

Quick Cut and Jump Cut we tumble through the following scenes-

a) A crowded room full of people dressed in their finest regalia- Lords and Ladies no doubt, the sound of chatter, although this is no trifle or dance- the inhabitants of the scene look concerned. Suddenly silence- all of the Lords and Ladies looking upwards- concentrating, seemingly, on the absence of sound, the scene fades- although the last individual seen is Ontharr Frume (the Dwarven Paladin, the PCs patron, and Order of the Gauntlet contact).

b) Suddenly running headlong through a hedge maze, darting down passages- dashing past other openings- the sound of heavy breathing. Voices- distorted, that sound like Lux, or Lummins, or Watt, or Sgt Bobby*- “Run!” Gasping- out of breath, sucking in air- desperate.

Note *a different voice each time- see below.

c) Low light, the crack and crunch of footsteps sinking in to snow- a mirror white cold light- we’re looking straight ahead at a wall of ice, there’s something dark within the ice- step back, step back, the shadow beneath the ice gets bigger… and bigger… and bigger, as the viewer continues to take step after step backwards. The viewer is breathing hard now- clearly agitated- the shadow in the ice is revealed- a galleon, a full rigged sailing ship- main mast perhaps fifty feet tall- with full sail, and crewed- all of it encompassed by the wall of ice. The dead crew frozen to the rail, mouths and eyes wide, they stare out at the living.

d) Suddenly running headlong through a hedge maze, darting down passages- dashing past other openings- the sound of heavy breathing. Voices- distorted, that sound like Lux, or Lummins, or Watt, or Sgt Bobby*- “Run!” Gasping- out of breath, sucking in air- desperate.

Note *a different voice each time- see below.

e) The Sword Coast seen from high above- high, high above- the drift of black smoke, cities and towns burning- Dragons on the wing, made tiny by the distance, at least a dozen of the creatures- suddenly a black wing, accompanied by a deafening roar, and the vision is gone.

f) Suddenly running headlong through a hedge maze, darting down passages- dashing past other openings- the sound of heavy breathing. Voices- distorted, that sound like Lux, or Lummins, or Watt, or Sgt Bobby*- “Run!” Gasping- out of breath, sucking in air- desperate.

Note *a different voice each time- see below.

g) A suitably creepy-looking stone chamber probably deep underground, lit by guttering torches- five red cloaked and robed individuals turn from the stone bier they are gathered around, they turn to face the viewer- all five are clearly Red Wizards of Thay. Behind them on the stone bier can be seen a body, or perhaps a corpse, of a sturdy looking Human- the physique and build a match for Sgt Bobby, although the face of the individual cannot be seen.

h) Suddenly running headlong through a hedge maze, darting down passages- dashing past other openings- the sound of heavy breathing. Voices- distorted, that sound like Lux, or Lummins, or Watt, or Sgt Bobby*- “Run!” Gasping- out of breath, sucking in air- desperate.

Note *a different voice each time- see below.

i) Light! Blinding LIGHT! Or else it should be blinding but it isn’t- the LIGHT! Is warming, healing, soothing- enlightening.

The PCs are suddenly back in the here and now, back in the hills and on the trail to Parnast- the glistening, pulsing light (the Blessing of Lathander)- slowly fades, to nothing.

No time has passed, the birdsong seems upon reflection to have been constant- uninterrupted, everything is as it is- which is as it was.

The next bit comes as a magnificent surprise for the Players- it’s time to level up again, all of the PCs are now level 7, that was a very short episode, and that was Lathander in action again.

And so, the break in play extends for a bit, for giggling and buffoonery- and spell selection, the casters have just acquired 4th level spells, and are indulging in what can only be described as raucous behaviour, some of it unseemly.

The Players are very happy indeed, mostly because they weren’t expecting it.

Also, because they think it is cool that they are the chosen ones… there’s lots of chatter and speculation about the various visions they have just witnessed, they think that their future holds the following (presented in the same order as the visions)-

a) Their patron Ontharr’s going to be in a meeting, they’re probably going to be there too- with lots of Lords and Ladies, then something happens… probably something bad- it usually is.

b) They’re going to get lost- possibly in a hedge maze, although that may just be a metaphor.

c) They’re going somewhere cold and icy, somewhere with a ship encased in an ice wall- do they have to dig the ship out (that would be cool- they say, and the DM takes note of it)?

d) Back in the maze, perhaps they have to get to places through the maze.

e) The Dragons are going to start attacking all over the Sword Coast.

f) Back in the maze some more.

g) They’re going to meet a bunch of Red Wizards of Thay, Sgt Bobby (perhaps) is fated to die (or else be captured)- and then be fiddled with by the aforementioned Red Wizards. Do the rest of the Brothers have to rescue Big Bad Bobby?

h) More maze time.

i) God is good- specifically Lathander who is very good.

Oh, and all of the PCs have taken an Extended Rest, although the encounter with the Light and the visions seems to have taken place in no time at all.

DM Interlude- I set this encounter up with Lummins (Rob), actually all I did was e-mail him and tell him he was going to see a Light at some point in this session and he would know it to be a servant of Lathander. I also warned him that I would be asking the other PCs what they were doing before I came to him- basically I wanted the reveal to come at the end, it worked like a dream (although see below). Obviously, I’m just setting up some of the stuff that’s to come in The Rise of Tiamat, I love a good bit of foreshadowing- particularly if I can work a bit of threat in to it- hence the body/corpse of Sgt Bobby on the bier with the Red Wizards. Don’t be afraid to do this- if Sgt Bobby dies then it will be Sgt Bobby on the bier with the Red Wizards, if he doesn’t die then it’ll be someone else- maybe someone the PCs know, maybe not.

And let’s face it if one of the PCs is going to fall it’s going to be the mad man Sgt Bobby, oft times he’s the only guy in the fight- the other four PCs preferring mostly to hang way back.

Great scene- although, a little confession…

Actually Lux (Sandy), and possibly Watt (Jackie), both figured out that the Light was a ‘servant’ or else ‘symbol’ of Lathander- I obviously just left that bit out of the above narrative to make me look good.

And so… Parnast.

Episode 8: Castle in the Clouds.

A small village, a dozen or more houses- neat and well looked after, a few head-down villagers move through the packed-earth square around which the few residences congregate. There’s a tavern, what looks to be a stable, and a shrine dedicated to… Bloody hell, also looming in and out of the cloud and fog is a massive (MASSIVE) ice castle with 40-foot-high walls (sized for Giants), complete with a number of blue-ice towers the tops of which cannot be seen. It’s… wonderous.

The PCs skip Parnast completely, and head straight to the castle- no time like the present.

Although the DMs not so sure about that- Rezmir (Half-Black Dragon Cult leader) has informed Captain Othelstan (the Cult boss of Parnast, a Dragonsoul) that the PCs could be coming this way. The good Captain has been ordered to detain them- fatally detain them, if necessary.

Therefore five (Cult) Guards rush over to the PCs to ask them to state their business- Frulam (Lux) displays the Dragon Cult banner, while the rest of the company make the sign of Tiamat. Frulam (Lux) then barks at the Guards for a while. My bad guys are on the backfoot- surely these can’t be the ones that Captain Othelstan is looking for- how could they have the banner, know the signs, and sound so convincing etc.

The (Cult) Guards ask the PCs to wait in the tavern while they get their boss- Captain Othelstan. Frulam (Lux) and her companions however are not missing the boat- if Captain Othelstan wants to come see them then they’ll be in the castle.

Last thing- has Rezmir already gone aboard? Lux asks, she’s clever. The out-of-their-depth (Cult) Guards confirm that the Half-Black Dragon entered the castle yesterday. Although the information comes only after an okay Persuasion check by Frulam (Lux), immediately followed by a ‘20’ Intimidate check from Sgt Bobby “Answer the Wearer of Purple you worm!”

The (Cult) Guards rush off, the PCs head on to the castle- displaying, again, the banner to the Ogres up high on the towers flanking the main gate, and whispering the pass-phrase- “Tiamat, our Mother and Strength”, as they enter passing between two life-size (25 feet tall) statues of Cloud Giants.

Then they’re in…

66 LOwer Courtyard.jpg


And bugger me they’re not entirely sure what to do next, beyond the gates is a massive open space- a courtyard of huge dimensions- long buildings nestle beneath the castle walls while across the courtyard is a massive ice structure which seems to support another courtyard above. There are a pair of open archways (giant-sized) there. The PCs, maintaining the pretence- nothing to see here, just a bunch of Dragon Cultists out for a walk, head towards the giant-sized arched doorways. Then away again, when Hotlips gets close enough to spy within- both archways lead in to an equally massive (giant-sized) chamber in which two bald headed Giants (both made of stone- you do the maths) are about their business.

The PCs instead make for a pair of giant-sized doors to the north, Hotlips listens at them briefly (nonchalantly) and hears nothing, then a moment while Sgt Bobby manages to lever one of the portals open- he has to strain a bit (bad dice roll) and then they’re in. To an echoey ice corridor nearly forty feet wide and over half that tall, another door to the north, only this time it is sized for humans, that’s good- the same routine- Hotlips listens- nothing, Sgt Bobby wrenches the door open. In to an empty bedroom, uninhabited at the moment- empty drawers and tables. The guys have wandered in to the enemy’s lair and found the nearest uninhabited chamber available- nice work.

Time for more chat.

There’s an awful lot of chat in this session.

You’re probably itching for a fight.

I was…

So, the PCs huddle in the room and basically go over their strategy, which is- we are Frulam Mondath, Wearer of Purple, and her Cult flunkies. We’ll go room by room through the flying ice castle rooting out the bad guys (Cultists/Everybody) while trying not to alert the rest of the base to our operation.

But I (the glorious DM) am keen to get going, alas they (the PCs) are keener to ramble on… the session was beginning to drift.

There’s a knock at the door- Sgt Bobby answers it and is confronted by a gang of Cultists- Dragonclaws, best guess- five of them.

Actually, they ain’t Dragonclaws- they’re Dragonwings (twice as tough) all five of ‘em.

So, here’s what’s been going on- the Cult Guards back in Parnast reported the PCs to Captain Othelstan (the Cult boss of Parnast, remember). He has come aboard the castle with some of his guys and gone to the barracks. Between the Cultists in the barracks and the Ogres up in the towers the bad guys have been directed to the PCs current location, or at least in to the same building. The Cultists are also going door to door- looking for the PCs, who are behind the first door they knock on.

They’re polite, the five Dragonwings, but they also immediately call for back-up, which in this instance means Captain Othelstone and his guys who are situated much further up the corridor- they’re on their way to visit with Rezmir. Basically, all of the bad guys are within shouting distance of the PCs.

There’s a bit of chat- Lux starts issuing orders, trying to get rid of the Dragonwings at the door, or else convince them they’re bad guys too and that they’re supposed to be here- the rolls are good, but the Cultists are still calling for back-up. The PCs (rightly) figure out that if they don’t start the fight soon, they’re going to be stuck in the room they’re in and facing much greater odds.

They know there are other enemies in the corridor- one of the Dragonwings keeps calling out to them, but they don’t know who, or what else- bad-guy-wise is out there.

Lux (Sandy) grins at Sgt Bobby (Pete), the pair have reached a new accord, the instruction is- “go get ‘em”, and so they do- without warning the PCs launch their attacks.

67 Dragonwings.jpg


Actually, it’s Hotlips that’s first to the kill- rushing the nearest Dragonwing and skewering the guy with her rapier through the heart (a Crit for 49 damage- that’ll do it). Dead. For good measure the Halfling terror Crits a second Dragonwing with her dagger (although much much less painful). Sgt Bobby cuts the same guy twice and it too expires.

Seconds later Watt Shatters the three Dragonwings left standing (and I fail three Saves in a row)- they’re all about bloodied in an instant. The spell also rocks the ice corridor and announces the PCs presence loudly. Lux’s Eldritch Blasts leave another Dragonwing badly wounded, while Lummins’ Burning Hands, alas, does little more than make the floor slippery.

At which point, and with the three badly wounded Dragonclaws also screaming for help, the PCs realise that there are lots more Cultists in the corridor- lots more.

Sgt Bobby rushes out to see, slicing at the badly wounded Dragonwings as he goes- he hits one of the buggers but fails to take it down (damage ‘1’ + bonuses x2)- Hotlips finishes it off, and then slays another with a Sneak Attack- the one Dragonwing still alive is off and running- back to his friends.

68 Captain Othelstan.jpg


The PCs move out in to the icy corridor- there are lots more Cultists at present reacting to their presence- and the ongoing slaughter. The PCs slipped the encounter in Parnast so I thought I’d help them out by herding Captain Othelstan and his comrades towards them (the new enemies include- Othelstan (a Dragonsoul), three Dragonclaws, six Guards and a Veteran).

The Cultists head towards the PCs, at speed- eager to make their acquaintance.

Watt hits the middle of the advancing Cultist crowd with an enhanced Shatter spell- and three of his four damage dice are ‘1’s, it’s happening again (although the last dice roll is an ‘8’). Moments later Lux settles her Hunger of Hadar on top of the whole gang. Save for the lone wounded Dragonwing- who is now the only bad guy still in sight. The Dragonwing attempts to slice the closest adventurer, Watt- but misses twice.

Sgt Bobby rushes to Watt’s side and cuts the Dragonwing down, then stomps forward- toward the inky black bubble that is Lux’s spell.

A terrified almost broken Dragonclaw stumbles out of the black- Sgt Bobby, with a little help from Hotlips cuts down the Cultist.

The pair can hear the screams of the dying.

What a bugger- the first time Lux used Hunger of Hadar I improvised a check (DC 10 Wisdom/Perception) for creatures caught within the spell to escape the blinding black (and the cold and acid damage). The first time she used the spell there was a Troll and Ambush Drake caught in its compass- they both escaped in the first Turn.

I fail a lot of checks this time- the other two Dragonclaws, and all six Guards are killed by the Warlock’s spell.

Note Othelstan also fails to escape the spell for a while.

The PCs Ready Actions, and basically exchange shrugs while they wait to see if any more Cultists are going to emerge from the black.

And so, when one does… the Cult Veteran in this instance, the bloodied fellow is hit by an arrow (Watt, the Bard has backed up a bit), and then by two Eldritch Blasts (Lux).

The Veteran half-heartedly goes for Sgt Bobby, big mistake- he gets cut down.

Then, nothing much happens, for quite a while- the spell lasts up to one minute- Lux keeps concentrating, her companions stand ready- ready to attack again.

So, here’s what’s actually happening- Othelstan has escaped the Hunger of Hadar spell, although on the opposite side to the PCs, the pocket of corridor he’s in contains a door- which opens to reveal two Red Wizards of Thay, drawn to the sounds of combat- and now confronted by Othelstan and the inky blackness.

Rath Modar (Red Wizard of Thay, the guy who fireballed the civilians all the way back in Greenest) orders Azbara Jos (the other Red Wizard of Thay, from the Cult caravan & Castle Naerytar) to Dispel the blackness.

Dispel Magic dispels all spells up to third level, but Lux casts the spell enhanced to 4th level- so I rule it’s a DC 14 check to Dispel Hunger of Hadar (is that right?). Obviously, the PCs and the Players, don’t know any of this is going on- this is all stuff I’m doing in my head. Don’t ask why? The illusion is stretched thin enough as it is. Anyway, so Azbara Jos Dispels Lux’s Hunger of Hadar- or else he would do if he didn’t roll a ‘3’, then a ‘1’, then a ‘3’ again- now obviously I could, and should, just wave the roll and have the Dispel Magic automatically succeed, but my OCD will not allow me to do this.

So, two high ranking Red Wizards of Thay stand around waiting for the spell to expire, one of the Red Wizard’s (Rath Modar) scowls, tuts and shakes his head at the other Red Wizard (Azbara Jos), who mutters something like “it’s never happened to me before… I must just be nervous.” Captain Othelstan, having already provided a succinct precise of the situation, just keeps his head down- waiting for the next bad thing to happen.

What the Red Wizards (and Othelstan, and the PCs) don’t now is that Rezmir (Half-Black Dragon) and his two XXL Guard Drakes are situated just to the south of the inky bubble, also eagerly waiting for the black to depart.

69 NO HADAR.jpg


At which point… the spell ends.

That however is the end of the session, and the PCs have a queue of readied actions (I wrote them all down) but they’ll happen next session- I get booed by the Players all the way out of the door.

Another enforced cliff-hanger.

There’s never been as much chatter however, they’re loving seventh level. Oh, and if the fight in the above write up seems very one-sided then be assured the Cultists got some attacks (and hits) in but nothing at all to worry the PCs. It has been a massacre thus far for my bad guys in the ice castle.
 
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