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We D&D- Tyranny of Dragons Part 2: The Rise of Tiamat #21 Away Day in Thay.

Nice stuff, as ever.

And I'm pleased to hear you've managed to get yourself an online group set up for lockdown - I'll get around to reading that thread when I've finished re-reading your Goodman Gang thread, which I'm still enjoying second time round (and which incidentally is, I think, the storyhour I was remembering from all those years ago).

Stay safe and keep it coming. :)
 

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Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
Nice stuff, as ever.

And I'm pleased to hear you've managed to get yourself an online group set up for lockdown - I'll get around to reading that thread when I've finished re-reading your Goodman Gang thread, which I'm still enjoying second time round (and which incidentally is, I think, the storyhour I was remembering from all those years ago).

Stay safe and keep it coming. :)
Bugger, and now I'm reading it too.

I can't believe I didn't name the Players, or intro them a little... but it was all a very long time ago- 13 years if the dates here are right (and they are) back when I was living in my batchelor pad. Back when it was wine, women and dungeons and dragons any (and every) night of the week. Although mostly Wednesdays and Sundays, from memory.

Stay safe.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
We D&D.


Session #61 The Rise of Tiamat #20b Lennithon.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 12
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 12
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 12
&
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 12
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 12

Prisoner of the Red Wizards of Thay-
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 12

Secondary PCs.
Left at 8th Level- we’ll get them back if (and when) they’re needed later on.
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 8
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 8


This is session #61 of our game, but only session #20b of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

The Brothers of the First Light have just escaped Xonthal’s Tower, with the (fake) Blue Dragon Mask, and have likewise just overcome a Dragon Cult ambush, the last of the bad guys from the Tower.

The fight won; the PCs have also just become aware that a great Blue Dragon is at present destroying the village at Xonthal’s Tower, which they visited earlier.

So, time for another fight- the Pizza’s gone, and the Brothers are straight back in action.

Just to remind you’re that all of the PCs are wounded, and the spellcasters low on spells, and in particular high-level powers.

It’ll take four rounds (the DM rules) for the Brothers to get from their present position- the clearing inside the hedge maze, to the village, and then on to the Blue Dragon.

The race begins, no time for healing or chatter, there’s a village to save.

Although the kindly DM decides to let each of the PCs spend one HD to heal, while they’re en route to the new encounter- because I’m really, really nice.

Which just leaves Watt and Lux, still bloodied.

However, as the Brothers are getting closer to the action, Sgt Harald suddenly exclaims- “That’s the same Blue Dragon-bastard that blasted Greenest!” And it is, this is Lennithon.

Note, Lennithon is also MAX HP (300+), but he’ll depart the scene, just like the module says, when he has 75 HP or less.

The Brothers arrive at the encounter, the Blue Dragon is somewhat distracted but spots the PCs arrival from the Tower and roars in fury-

"The mask, fools! The mask is what I've come for. Give it to me, and I'll leave these crawling ants with their miserable lives. The Queen is returning! Who are you to hope to stop her? Give me the mask!"

Which causes a little consternation in the ranks- this guy (the Blue Dragon) thinks that the Blue Dragon Mask is real, what’s the story here? What’s going on? Is it real or not?

Answer: Not.

But, right now, handing over the (fake) Blue Dragon Mask is not an option, the PCs are out for the kill- particularly Sgt Harald, who is (if you remember) a Dragonslayer, and more importantly the scion of a great Dragonslayer- Shieldmaiden Gazunda Hardaxe.

Lux quickly casts Fly on herself, Sgt Harald and Hotlips- although the Halfling actually scurries into cover inside a nearby building. Lummins, also takes to the air in his Winged Boots.

51 Lennithon.jpg


The village itself is on the way to becoming a wreck sporting at least two blasted buildings, the Dragon has clearly used its Lightning Breath Weapon several times already. Strewn about the main street are a score of villagers- dead, or else mortally wounded, many screaming in pain and fright. The rest of the inhabitants of the village are either fleeing or hiding- there’s no organised fight back.

The Brothers of the First Light need to save the village on their own.

Just to note the Dragon is at present hovering over the open space used for markets in the village, about thirty feet above the ground.

Watt is the first into action, the Bard fires two arrows of Dragon Slaying at Lennithon, and misses with both attacks, there is screaming around the gaming table.

Jackie throws a minor tantrum, and then is calmed and convinced to use her Inspiration Point to make that second roll again- and she misses for a third time.

It gets very in/tense very quickly.

The lesson learned is Lennithon has an AC in excess of 18.

Hotlips tries to Assassinate the great Blue Dragon, and also misses- OMG, the volume around the gaming table increases dramatically, then Sandy remembers that she too has an Inspiration Point to spend. She rolls again, and you could hear a pin drop.

It’s a hit, and 52 points of damage, there is cheering- and we’re finally back to reality.

Lummins flies forward, towards the great Dragon- very brave, and then attempts to Banish the great wyrm- alas, he also fails.

Lennithon roars and rises to its full height and span, dread and fear wash over the adventurers and Lummins and Watt are Frightened and left cowering in fear. Hotlips only manages to pass her save thanks to a spot of Bardic Inspiration from the last fight that she still had to spend.

Then the great Blue draws in breath and a second later unleashes a Lightning storm (Breath Weapon)- Sgt Harald is frazzled and bloodied (67 Lightning damage will do that), while the bolt continues on and smashes to flinders the corner of the building in which Hotlips is hiding in.

When the dust settles the Halfling pops her head up- entirely unharmed, ah- the joys of Evasion.

This has got nasty very quickly.

But Sgt Harald (now on less than 50 HP) knows no fear, the Dwarf flies straight as an arrow into Lennithon’s face- the sturdy Fighter smashes the Blue Dragon three times, and then gets his Second Wind roaring unrepeatable curses at the great beast.

Just for info Lennithon has a little over 220 HP left.

The Dragon reacts in an instant- he smashes his tail into the flying Sgt Harald, but the Dwarf it seems is made of sterner stuff.

Lux, like Lummins, attempts to Banish the Dragon, not a chance- Lennithon fails his save but just employs one of Legendary Resistances to avoid the spell’s call. The Warlock flies for cover, all of her powers are now spent- it’s just cantrips from here on in.

A Frightened Watt cowers a little, and then has a great idea- the Bard offers Sgt Harald a bit of Bardic Inspiration (Motivational Swearing) and then casts Invisibility on the flying Dwarven Fighter.

Hotlips, the brave bugger, flies out of the wreckage of the building, and straight at Lennithon, stabbing the Dragon with her magical rapier, and another (Sneak Attack) hit.

The Halfling (smart lass) uses her Nimbleness in combination with her Cunning Action- Hide, and secretes herself beneath the hovering Lennithon, out of sight.

However, the Dragon is clearly frustrated by the pesky flying attackers and so flaps it wings furiously, batting an Invisible Sgt Harald out of the way- Hotlips however avoids the wing fury, but Lennithon moves closer to the other adventurers, and thus the Halfling’s hiding place is gone.

The Blue Dragon surges towards the Frightened Priest of Lathander- Lummins, who starts up his Bless spell, and then looks away- he can’t bear to watch.

The Dragon tears into the Priest, its bite attack bloodies Lummins. An instant later, the Dragon roars again- “Give me the Mask or I will tear you all apart!”

To make clear the threat Lennithon shreds the Priest of Lathander (who however manages to make all three of his Concentration checks). Lummins is down to approx. 20 HP.

At this point the PCs/Players are now arguing around the table about whether they should just give the (fake) Blue Dragon Mask to the wyrm. Or else tell the Dragon that the Mask isn’t real- that’s not going to go down well, believe me.

But Sgt Harald isn’t giving up, the Invisible Dwarf scoots back over to the beast, only to reappear fluttering just above Lennithon’s head, with his battleaxe buried in the Dragon’s skull. Three hits, including a Crit, and the great Dragon is unnerved, and now has just over 120 HP left.

Lennithon reacts with fury, swings its tail around again and attempts to bat Sgt Harald away, the Dwarf is hurt (and down to just over 10 HP) but he’s going nowhere. Pete, playing Sgt Harald, makes some very unsavoury comments, but mostly in Dwarvish- so, you wouldn’t understand.

Lux flies out- she was hiding behind a chimney stack and lets loose with an Eldritch Blast barrage- alas only one of her attacks is on target (but it’s a Crit), the Warlock swiftly swoops back into hiding.

Watt continues to cower, although he also has a little more Bardic Inspiration for Sgt Harald. The Dwarf however is apoplectic (or else Pete is) he rages back at the Bard, screaming at Watt to “get firing with his bow”. The Bard does as he’s told but is off target with both shots (at Disadvantage for Frightened), and then fails again to overcome his fear of the Dragon, with a second ‘1’ in a row.

Jackie is really not enjoying this fight.

Although, it would be fair to say that only Pete (and me) seem to be having fun.

But here she is to save the day, Hotlips flies over and skewers Lennithon right in the back of the head, and suddenly the screeching wailing great beast is keen to get the hell out of dodge (the Dragon is on less than 75 HP).

Just to make clear the Rogue’s intentions (and her lack of fear), Hotlips sticks her off-hand dagger in the beast’s eye (a Crit).

Lennithon beats its great wings and immediately flies up and away in one swift motion, turning to depart as swiftly as it can. The Dragon, during the manoeuvre, smashes its wings into Lummins and Sgt Harald, sending the pair tumbling (but still flying) clear of the beast.

Lummins’ Bless spell expires, the Priest is on 6 HP, while Sgt Harald is on 9 HP.

Full disclosure- the three other adventurers are all bloodied as well.

The Priest of Lathander, still Frightened, has had enough- he rights himself and then launches a Fireball at the fleeing Dragon, the missile bursts on Lennithon- spewing flame, and now the screeching, screaming (and cursing) Dragon is straining hard to get away.

Hotlips fires a crossbow bolt at the beast, but… misses by a mile.

Less than thirty seconds later and the great Blue Dragon is just a dark shape in the sky.

The fight is over.

That was titanic.

You should have heard the sighs, and seen the sights- the sags, and the slumps around the gaming table as the air and tension are finally expelled. The Players are sated, post coital.

That was good.

That was also very close.

Oh, and Lennithon will be back, the PCs think this- the DM knows it.

There’s not much left of this session- the Brothers get into action, healing the good folk of the village, rounding up those sensible enough to flee and hide.

Lummins (still struggling with guilt after the Ice Hunters) offers the Church of Lathander to help in the rebuild, and perhaps to construct a chapel here, to provide protection and spiritual guidance to the villagers.

The Priest is always looking for converts.

Soon after, they’ve got things to do- the PCs head back up to the Flying Lighthouse, alas none of the spellcasters have the power left to muster a Sending spell to call for help, they’ll get this done tomorrow- and report their victory, and the fact that they have now got in their grasp the (fake) Blue Dragon Mask.

Woo-hoo, the heroes.

Last bit, which was mostly sorted out after the session, and via e-mail before the next gaming session. Rian Nightshade contacts Lux (the pair are Zhent-friends, remember) and offers her all manner of gifts to get her to convince her comrades to allow the Black Network to take control of Xonthal’s Tower.

The offer is- a bunch of magical items (all low level- Scrolls and Potions mainly, or else something +1) one for each member of the Brothers of the First Light, and 50,000 GP (to be divided fairly- 25,000 GP to be shared amongst the party members, and 25,000 GP for Lux).

Lux is very taken with the offer, and over the course of the intervening weeks (between this session and the next) convinces all of her comrades in arms to go for the deal. Obviously, the other PCs/Players still don’t know that Rian (and also Lux) are Zhents, they only know that Rian wants to buy the place.

The PCs quite like Rian, she fights well- and she’s smart and sassy in-game.

But that’s going to change, mark my words.

Then comes healing and Sending spells to Leosin (Harper agent) mainly about the situation in Xonthal’s Tower village, but also about the (fake) Blue Dragon Mask. Then wounds licked, the Brothers head back to see Lord Volmer, in his neat magical tent in the Upper Courtyard of the Flying Lighthouse.

The story is… next stop, Thay- it’s time, at last, to get Sgt Bobby back.

The Flying Lighthouse meantime flies on- back to Waterdeep, and beneath the Cloud Giant castle, the fields, and villages, and towns of the Sword Coast burn.

The war has begun.

More next time, in truth this was a very short session- we could have gone on but for a variety of reasons wanted to start with the Red Wizards next time.

See you then.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
We D&D.

Session #62 The Rise of Tiamat #21 Away-day in Thay.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 12
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 12
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 12
&
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 12
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 12

Prisoner of the Red Wizards of Thay-
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 12

Secondary PCs.
Left at 8th Level- we’ll get them back if (and when) they’re needed later on.
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 8
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 8


This is session #62 of our game, but only session #21 of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

This one didn’t go well, I had an idea- worked on it for an age (far too long) and then… it just didn’t play out, in truth my idea was too complicated, served little purpose (with regard to the plot) and fatally all hinged (sorta) on all of the PCs failing a really difficult saving throw (with disadvantage on their checks).

I shoulda figured it out in advance, these bastards are sooooo very lucky with their dice at times, but- I was just over-thinking it.

You live and you learn.

So, the Brothers of the First Light have explored Xonthal’s Tower, grabbed the (fake) Blue Dragon Mask, and defeated (fled the encounter) Lennithon, an Adult Blue Dragon. All in a day’s work.

They’re aboard the Flying Lighthouse and en route to Waterdeep, below them however the Dragon Cultists are abroad, and attacking settlements with a new-found zeal- the war for the Sword Coast is underway. The arrival of Tiamat imminent.

So, an ideal time for the Brothers of the First Light to take an away-day in Thay.

Oh, but last and by no means least, Lux has (between sessions) persuaded her colleagues to sell Xonthal’s Tower to Rian Nightshade (aka the Zhent). Obviously, none of the other PCs/Players know that Rian represents the Black Network, or that Lux does too.

In truth all of the PCs/Players like Rian, she helped them out in the battle at the third Council of Waterdeep, and then gave them a clutch of Greater Healing Potions for their venture to Xonthal’s Tower. The Brothers think (because Lux has told them this) that Rian is an ex-adventurer, a famous Rogue.

Back to the here and now, a short chat with Lord Volmer in his magical tent, and…

BLINK.

The Brothers of the First Light suddenly find themselves in a waiting room in a dark stone keep, high ceilings, little in the way of adornment- the reception committee, tirelessly awaiting the Brother’s arrival, consists of two dozen well-armed and armoured soldiers. All of them quickly identified by Lummins as undead- Wight’s to be exact.

Welocme to sunny Thay!

Lord Volmer, the Bone Devil diplomat- motions the PCs towards a pair of great stone doors, and offers a few last words of advice (he’s not going in there), “Be careful of what you say, and the way that you say it. Oh, and remember who you are saying it to.” The nine-foot-tall skeleton with a scorpion’s stinger-tail offers, with a grin, and a swirl of his cloak. Lord V is still dressed as if he is about to attend the theatre.

After a brief chat- basically instructions for Sgt Harald (that’s Pete) shut up, don’t say a word- please, don’t get us into any more trouble. The Brothers stride forward, the great doors open as they approach, into an equally austere and yet magnificent stepped sided council chamber (like a very sombre Greek forum), yet more Wight soldiers guard the chamber (another two dozen).

DM Note- remember Pete (playing Sgt Bobby & Sgt Harald) told his fellow colleagues a session or two back to forget about Sgt Bobby because he wanted to play Sgt Harald for a bit. Well, that’s all changed. Pete wants Sgt Bobby back, and his friends around the gaming table are made aware of this, on a (very) regular basis.

To continue…

As the Brothers enter the chamber the equally imposing door opposite silently swings open and striding in comes an armoured woman as cruel as she is beautiful, accompanying the raven-haired temptress (that’s the look she’s aiming for, and hitting every time) are a coterie of red-robed and heavily tattooed Wizards of Thay.

Tharchion Eseldra introduces herself as the mistress of Nethwatch Keep (the Brother’s present location), and the voice of Szass Tam. The Brothers introduce themselves, and Sgt Harald is really trying hard to impress- he’s surly but holds off with his usual flippant insults.

They’ve tamed Pete at last.

The conversation is short and to the point, Tharchion Eseldra makes the opening gambit-

"We find ourselves bound in common cause against common enemies. Those who sought to destroy us in ages past now seek to destroy you. Our thirst for vengeance is strong, as is your thirst for continued life.”

"Our enemy has become your enemy. We know their weaknesses and the ways of destroying them forever, without destroying their usefulness. You have the opportunity to discover their hiding places in your struggle against their cult allies. Together, we can remove them as a threat to us both.”

"Our agent will return with you to your city of Waterdeep, there to serve as our liaison to your council. What you learn of the enemy, he will relay to us by means of our own. You need only find the enemy. We will deal with them, as is our custom.”

“I am authorized by our eternal master, Szass Tam, to say these things, for I act in his name."

But, of course, the Brothers have questions- the first of which being “Where’s Sgt Bobby?”, but the DM is playing this his way- as and when Eseldra deigns a Red Wizard steps forward to answer the PCs queries, questions beneath her regard are dismissed in an instant, the atmosphere is strained in here.

Also, no amount of high social skill checks, it seems, can bend (much) the pattern of this drama.

The Brothers learn-

1) The mutual enemies discussed are of course the renegade Red Wizards of Thay, led by Rath Modar, who are working with the Dragon Cult, ostensibly to manufacture the Dragon Masks and to guide the Cult hierarchy through the summoning ritual needed to bring Tiamat to the Realms.

2) Rath Modar, and all of his Red Wizard friends, also seek to rule (or else destroy) Thay/Szass Tam. They’re renegades- that’s what they do, and they are therefore hated by the present ruler of Thay.

3) Eseldra is very well informed regarding the plot, the Dragon Cult is already preparing for the ritual to summon Tiamat and are situated within the caldera of an inactive volcano, which they have named- the Well of Dragons. The volcano is situated in the Spine of the World mountains, and after further enquiry around thirty miles north of Boltus Pit. Note, the specific location of the Cultists is a revelation to the PCs, Lummins immediately asks whether he can make use of a Sending spell to pass this information on to his superiors. “Later, perhaps”, is Eseldra’s reply. Just to note I included this new piece of information to demonstrate to the PCs/Players that the power in Thay was prepared to deal, and that their offer was genuine (sorta). The first bit of info is for free…

4) Then we get on to the Sgt Bobby-situation. The low down is this- “Yes”, the Red Wizards of Thay have Sgt Bobby, they assure the Brothers that the Fighter “has suffered, but only a little”, but is now “just fine.” Actually, “better than fine”, Eseldra adds- with a wink and a slight grin. The Brothers are reassured- that sounds like Sgt B, and Pete is back to grinning- even as a prisoner (with his PC beyond his control) he is, for the want of a better word- making his mark on his captives. Furthermore, Sgt Bobby “will be returned to you when you depart this place.” The Brothers argue for a while, remarkably Sgt Harald stays quiet- he (Pete) is just enjoying the ride, eventually the other PCs let it go. Let’s get this deal done, get Bobby back, and then get on. In truth no-one is missing Sgt Bobby (that’s not a bad thing to say, read on) because Sgt Harald pretty much does exactly (and I mean, exactly) the same job.

5) There follows a brief debate regarding why Sgt Bobby was taken at all? The PCs have already figured out how- Sgt B unconscious (or similar), grabbed and Teleported (or similar) to Thay by Orcaheart and Elsa. This section of the discussion is the tersest, with Lux getting in a few catty swipes, and with Eseldra swiping back. The answer- “because if we didn’t have Sgt Bobby, you wouldn’t have come here…” Which even Lux agrees, makes sense. We therefore (eventually) move on.

6) Next up, who the flipdiddly is Orcaheart, and his sister, Elsa- the answer is, of course, “the pair are agents of Thay.” That’s all the Brothers need to know. Again, the PCs delve a little deeper (or else try to) for a short while. But I (your glorious DM) am saying nothing. I realise, of course, this could get to fighting- and there are a few raised voices here during the chat, but for the most part with the powder kegs (Sgt Bobby or, at a push, Sgt Harald) in abeyance, there’s very few actual insults and/or breaches of etiquette from the catty/chatty PCs. The Brothers are keen to get out of Thay with their missing party member back, and a deal of some sort agreed.

7) More chatter follows- the future plans (such as they are) of the Council of Waterdeep, and specifically the Brothers of the First Light. Actually, it’s Lux that offers some version of the following- “Well, we’ll head back to Waterdeep, see what the high-ups want, and then scoot over to the Well of Dragons and deal with Tiamat et al”, paraphrasing a little, but you get the drift. Confidence is running high it seems, although that’s always the way with Lux.

8) Then more chatter about the previous actions of the Brothers of the First Light- again, the chatty trio do all of the talking, and succinctly describe what they’ve been up to so far.

Remarkably, through all of the above the PCs tell no lies, they dissemble a little- but then mostly to cover their own failings, or else their lack of knowledge (they forgot some stuff and missed out entirely their meeting with the Great Dragon Council). However, on reflection, this didn’t seem to be done on purpose. They just skipped a bit of their story- and remember most of the Players are relying on Lux’s (Sandy’s) notes, so- no big deal.

Also note, I didn’t ask the PCs any tough questions here- just what happened? What did you do next? Why did you do that? That kind of thing, I don’t think the Players ever particularly thought to tell a lie.

So, the module says at this point that all of the PCs should make a DC 20 Persuasion check, and that’s a tough check, particularly with the penalties listed in the module (and also for the two less charismatic PCs- Hotlips, and the Charisma sink that is Sgt Harald). That said Watt, Lux and Lummins- the chatty, for which read Persuasive, trio all come good. Just to make clear- Hotlips and Sgt Harald say almost nothing for the entirety of the above exchange, they do however both fail their checks (of course).

Eseldra bids the Brother make themselves comfortable and assures them as guests of Thay their lives are perfectly safe here (very reassuring, but why tell us this?). She will report back to her master, Szass Tam- there will be a follow up meeting in the morning to conclude the deal, and to return “a refreshed Sgt Bobby” (her words) to the fold.

A table is brought in, the best foods and wines are made available- although Eseldra and her colleagues depart (no small talk), the PCs eat alone (after checking for Poison), and then retire to their lavish rooms. The Brothers however have a little chat before they are divided up (they are given separate rooms). The word is- just try to behave, let’s get through this- the chatty trio (particularly Lux and Watt) really are in charge here.

So, to sleep- and none of the PCs even try to venture out of their rooms, although all of them make some form of an attempt to secure the door to their chambers, or else construct some sort of trap/trigger should anyone attempt to enter, with varying degrees of complexity in their attempts.

Note Hotlips created an elaborate trap which would shoot a Poisoned crossbow bolt into anyone attempting to entire her room. Sgt Harald, on the other hand, just flung his plate armour, and all of his other metal attire in a heap before the portal- anyone trying to enter the Dwarf’s room silently would first have to shove aside over 100 lbs of clanking metal junk.

We move on, to the dream interview (scratch that, interrogation) of the PCs, it goes a little like this, just to note- none of the PCs are Elves, so they all have to sleep (perchance to dream)-

So, for all five PCs, within their dreams the Red Wizards come- each PC dreams of being chained and trapped within some vast heated cauldron, observed by a flying Red Wizard who communicates telepathically with the dreamer. Asking questions…

First up a DC18 Wisdom check made with Disadvantage, to see if the PCs can deflect the Red Wizard’s interrogation, and remarkably (although not so much if you think about it) Lux & Lummins do just that. Therefore, both have a slightly troubled night’s sleep but are otherwise unconcerned by events. No, nightmares for these two.

Just for info- Lux’s save (+5 for Wisdom) with disadvantage, she rolled an ‘18’, followed by an ‘18’, so she whupped it. While for Lummins’ save (+9 for Wisdom) with disadvantage, he rolled a ‘9’, followed by a ‘9’, spooky.

The bastards.

And that result pretty much butchered my plan- I had taken great pains to try to extract some information from the PCs which could prove to be useful later on down the line, this in order to persuade a few of them over to Thay’s cause (perhaps, or else to mix things up a bit).

I may have been brewing another little subplot, but after this session- that all went in the bin.

So, the rest of what follows was enjoyable, but mostly a holding pattern- nothing much came of it all.

However, to make this work- around the gaming table (or rather not around the gaming table) I take each PC aside (into the kitchen) one at a time to play out their dream interrogation. Note, I did this for every PC- even for the two that do not suffer any ill effects- Lux (Sandy) & Lummins (Rob). Point of fact I got these two guys in the kitchen first (individually), I told each of them that they’re PC has “a slightly troubled sleep but wake in the morning refreshed” and then get them to make daft noises (like yelp, shout “Noooooo!”, and then swear at me- just a little, but loudly). I also made clear to the PCs/Players that they’re not allowed to tell their colleagues anything that went on in here- except to say that their PC had “a slightly troubled sleep” and to leave it at that.

Bit of theatre never went amiss, it also built up the tension nicely.

Mess with the Players, it’s your job.

So, to the three that are getting interrogated, just to say ahead of time I wrote up eight questions (like the book says), how the PCs answered them- well, that’s below. My advice, write these up ahead of time, even if only just in note form, and ask the same questions to all of the PCs, that way you can get some nice cross-referencing of the answers done after the event.

I also figured out the correct order to get the other PCs in the room for their interrogations, which was-

Sgt Harald first, because the Dwarf knows next to nothing, he was last in-game back in the Hoard of the Dragon Queen module, and then only briefly, so this is going to be a short chat.

Hotlips second, again because she started out as a secondary character, and is in fact Sandy’s secondary character- in-game the Halfling doesn’t much care for the plot of this module, she’s out to please herself. In short, another PC that’s not going to know too much, and who cares even less.

Watt, last of all, because the Bard is part of the original line-up, the Brothers of the First Light. But more importantly he comes last because Watt passed his DC20 Persuasion check with Eseldra, he’s going to know the most, and also be the toughest nut to crack. The hardest interrogation, hence I saved him to the last.

Or so I believed.

That established, eight questions, although remember each PC only needs to answer five questions ‘successfully’ to conclude their dream-time interrogation. The questions come complete with the PCs answers, and Persuasion/Deception checks- note I gave the PCs a +2 bonus to their Persuasion check if they were actually telling the truth, I know that doesn’t sound right but there must be some way for low Charisma guys to sound believable-

1) Why have you come to Thay, the real reason?

Sgt Harald: “To rescue Sgt Bobby and do some sorta deal with the red-guys, I ain’t seen no red guys though.” (True, and Persuasion Check = Success (1)).

Hotlips: “To get back Sgt Bobby and do some sort of deal.” (True, and Persuasion Check = Success (1)).

Watt: “To rescue Bobby and do a deal with the Red Wizards.” (True, and Persuasion Check = Success (1)).

2) Tell me everything you know about Severin, the leader of the Dragon Cult, and what he is plotting?

Sgt Harald: “What’s a Severin? Oh, the Cult big-bad guy, he’s after bringing Tiamat back. That’s all I know.” (True, but Persuasion Check = Fail, Sgt Harald suffers pain (still 1)).

Hotlips: “Severin, the Cult leader, he’s trying to summon Tiamat, to take over the Sword Coast. I’ve seen his flying spectral head once, but otherwise… he came over as a bit of an EXPLETIVE. I don’t like him. I don’t know what else he’s up to.” (True, but Persuasion Check = Fail, Hotlips also suffers pain (still 1)).

Watt, the Bard doesn’t shut up about the Dragon Cult/Severin plot- every detail he can remember, and he’s thorough- Jackie (playing Watt) brings in her book of notes to refer to. We go on a while. (True, and Persuasion Check = Success (2)).

3) Tell me everything you know about Rath Modar, and in particular his future plans?

Sgt Harald: “What’s a Rath Modar? Oh, he’s helping the Dragon Cult to bring Tiamat back. I’m gonna destroy that bastard when I catch up to him.” (True, and Persuasion Check = Success (2)).

Hotlips rants for a good while about Rath Modar, Fireballing the folk in Greenest, doing lots of other bad things and then taking great pleasure in telling the Brothers all about them, she finally ends with- “I don’t know what he’s up to, except helping the Dragon Cult to take over the world. I’m going to kill the bastard for what he did in Greenest.” (True, and Persuasion Check = Success (2)).

Watt, the Bard also doesn’t shut up about the schemes of Rath Modar- every detail he remembers, and again he’s thorough- Jackie (playing Watt) brings in her book of notes to refer to. We go on for a while. The Bard with his +9 Persuasion (and also +9 Deception, of course) takes the Red Wizard’s dream interrogation in his stride, happy to answer freely (so far) while making mental notes about the questions the Red Wizard is asking. (True, and Persuasion Check = Success (3)).

4) Tell me anything, and everything, significant about your past- including any secrets you are keeping?

Sgt Harald attempts to resist answering this question, and after scurrying about his PCs Character Sheet (Pete, eventually), employs Indomitable to make an additional save to attempt to wake up- the same DC as the original check- he fails and is wracked with pain. Note the Dwarf Fighter is actually trying to avoid telling the Red Wizards that he is a Dragonslayer, and by birth the only remaining heir to Shieldmaiden Gazunda Hardaxe (a very famous Dragonslayer). This fact Sgt Harald wishes to take to the grave- he’s telling no-one. The surly Dwarven Fighter therefore attempts to deceive his interrogator. He tells the Red Wizard that he is ashamed of the fact that he killed an innocent in his youth, and in cold blood with his bare hands- when drunk, it’s a good switch-out story. (False, and Deception Check = bloody hell, a Success (3), rolled ‘18’ and he’s -1 on the skill). Afterwards I remind Pete (playing Sgt Harald) that the Dwarf is also a member of the Order of the Gauntlet. He forgot (and see Hotlips below)- not a deception, although in point of fact Sgt Harald has pretty much nothing to do with the Order of the Gauntlet anyway. To the best of our collective knowledge (me & Pete) Sgt H has never reported to the organisation even once. He’s not a big fan of the one-for-all-and-all-for-one formula, he’d rather just be left alone to get things done. He’s very much more- one-for-one, the one in question being himself.

Hotlips is not sure what to say, except for the fact that when she was a kid her family were a mess- alcoholic father, no money, and their farm was attacked and burnt out- livestock slaughtered, by a band of Orcs, it wasn’t good. It’s like a counselling session for the Halfling Rogue. (True, and Persuasion Check = Success (3)). Afterwards I remind Sandy (playing Hotlips) that the Halfling is also a Harper, she forgot- not a deception, although in point of fact Hotlips has pretty much nothing to do with the Harpers anyway, she stopped reporting to them in the previous module.

Watt: “I used to be a Dragon Cultist…” Watt goes on to explain why he isn’t with the Cult anymore. “Likewise, I’m a member of the Harpers…” Again, plenty of detail is provided- but no ‘startling’ revelations, the Bard doesn’t have anything (much) to hide. (True, and Persuasion Check = Success (4)).

5) Tell me any and all secrets that you know about your comrade Lux?

Sgt Harald: “Lux, she’s a mean witch, and a cruel bitch- I guess they ain’t secrets though. She’s always scheming, but I don’t know no secrets about her.” (True, and Persuasion Check = Success (4)).

Hotlips, but remember Sandy plays both Lux & Hotlips, but she digs into the Warlock anyway- “She always wants to be the boss, she keeps secrets- makes decisions without telling any of us. She’s in deep with some dodgy folk- connections with the Dragon Cult, I think she used to be a member. I don’t know any secrets about her, but I bet she knows some secrets about the rest of us.” (True, but Persuasion Check = Fail, Hotlips suffers some more (still 3)).

Watt attempts to deceive (sorta) the Red Wizards with his answer to this question, the Bard tells his interrogator that “Lux is a scheming bitch, with more secrets than anyone he has ever met. But- and this is significant, he doesn’t know much more than the obvious. She’s a Harper, when it suits her, she was a Dragon Cult member- like me, but again- that just seems like something that she did for herself. She’ll talk to anyone, and will make any deal- I think, in order to get ahead.” We umm and ah for a while with Watt (Jackie’s) above answer- it’s the truth, in part, but in reality, Jackie suspects there’s a lot more going on. Jackie (Watt) as it turns out thinks that Lux has been doing deals with a bunch of other bad guys- maybe the Zhent, perhaps the Dragon Cult itself, certainly with other Infernal representatives etc. Note, Jackie isn’t making accusations here, nor is she upset with Lux (Sandy) doing this, she appreciates, that this is just the kind of sneaky scheming bastard character that Sandy is playing. Playing really well, as she makes clear. So, we go for a Persuasion/Deception check. (False, and Deception Check = Success (5) and interrogation over).

Basically, Watt just pretty much wriggled out of everything.

6) Tell me any and all secrets that you know about your comrade Lummins?

Sgt Harald: The Priest? He’s always going on about Lathander, he’s alright, I guess. I don’t know much about him. (True, and Persuasion Check = Success (5) and interrogation over).

Hotlips: “Lummins, he’s tried to convert me to the cause (Lathander) about six times already. Lummins doesn’t have any secrets, none that I know- he’s just… well, Lummins. He’s very dull.” (True, and Persuasion Check = Success (4)).

7) Tell me any and all secrets that you know about your comrade Sgt Bobby?

Hotlips: “Big bad Bobby, he dumped his wife and kids in Waterdeep to go chasing skirt (women). He drinks too much and swears a lot- like, all of the time, and he’s a stubborn argumentative bastard. He has the nasty sword- Hazi-something, which I reckon he sleeps with. Although pretty much none of that’s a secret, don’t tell him- but I think he’s great. Obviously, he’s a pain in the backside though, and an absolute idiot.” (True, and Persuasion Check = Success (5) and interrogation over).

8) Describe your feelings and thoughts about Szass Tam?

The question is never asked.

Note I mixed up the order a little, because I messed up once, and then I deliberately messed up a second time when it just made sense to change the order of the questions.

Also note, questions 5. and 6. are significant because Lux and Lummins both passed their saves and therefore didn’t get interrogated in their dreams. While question 7. is relevant because Sgt Bobby has already been through the test, several times- the Red Wizards are just checking his answers.

Results-

Sgt Harald, Hotlips and Watt all awake after a night of disturbing dreams, they’re all a little less rested, but not significantly so.

So, my big plan just didn’t work, I didn’t get to talk to the right people- or else enough of the right people. I wanted to expose a few hidden loyalties here, in particular Lux’s- put the Red Wizard’s claws into the Warlock and see what I could get her to do to try and keep her secrets safe.

In truth I over-thought this section/session massively, thinking about it afterwards there was little to gain from any of it. I’m fairly certain that none of the Players had any idea what the purpose of the interrogations was, except to advance the immediate plot.

So, eventually- and believe me all of the above took an absolute age, far too long, we move on… at last.

The next morning and the Brothers are back in the meeting hall, the same chamber as yesterday- for a full breakfast- served by Wight servants (slightly unnerving) “Sausage, sir?” while a pallid undead wretch holds out a salver full of meaty bangers and proffers a fork.

I decided, after my failure above, to inject a little humour into proceedings- you need to be quick on your feet (at times) in this game.

A short while later and the room is cleared and Eseldra and her attendants are back, and with Sgt Bobby- in full gimp costume, because its funnier this way, and being restrained by two equally gimped (and lobotomised/undead) Ogres.

The exchange is short and to the point.

Eseldra tells the Brothers that “her master, Szass Tam will help the alliance- the Brothers need to get close to the ritual/summoning of Tiamat- snap the fingerbone given over (as a Bonus Action) and their Red Wizard saviours will appear.” Simples.

Three PCs all answered five questions successfully, so… the PCs win again.

Much more chatter (inevitably) follows, at the end of which Sgt Bobby is shoved back in to the grateful, but slightly squeamish- the gimped-up Sgt Bobby it appears is also greased-up like a hog, clutches of the adventurers.

He’s back.

Moments later, courtesy of another Teleport spell (and with Lord V) the Brothers depart and are back on the Flying Lighthouse.

A short while later and Lord Volmer and his retinue are also gone.

The PCs/Players are not quite sure what just happened, except they got Sgt Bobby back (so Pete’s happy- and see below) and they also secured a few more allies for the big fight.

And by the way the PCs/Players have heard enough now, the silly idea they had that they were going to somehow prevent the summon Tiamat ritual from happening has gone from their minds. They’re also (correctly) of the opinion that there can’t be much of this adventure left to play.

Although, I’m going to drag it out- just watch me.

So, that’s the end of the session, except for the fact that the Players are now 13th Level.

Next time it’s the fourth (and final) session of the Council of Waterdeep, so more chatter to come before the big finale.

Last bit, just for info I told you I’d made a deal with Pete earlier- to get him onside with the holding hostage of Sgt Bobby, what did I give him? Well, Hazirawn is even nastier now- and so is Sgt Bobby, he’s also shifted his alignment a little more to the dark-side, which I’m going to count as a victory.

Let’s see how that plays out.

Until next time.
 

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters

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