We D&D- Tyranny of Dragons Part 2: The Rise of Tiamat #24b Strike Team 1 Part 2 A Ton of Undead.


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Session #17 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #3 Once a Zealot...

Brothers of the First Light.
Ray the Zealot (played by Pete) Male Human Paladin of Lathander Lvl 1
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 1
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 1
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 1

Secondary PCs
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 1
Hard Bonk (played by Rob Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 1
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Dwarf Fighter Lvl 1
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 1

Note, this is session #17 of our game but only session #3 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

And so, atop the Greenest Keep battlements a great Blue Dragon swoops out of the black sky and strafes the area with its Lightening Breath- Governor Nighthill, Castellan Escobert the Red, the Brothers of the First Light, a bunch of Greenest Guards, and an assortment of other rough folk (including the players secondary PCs) are forced to scatter.

08 Dragon Attack.jpg

Three of the Greenest Guards are killed in an instant- tumbling screaming from the battlements, the great beast beats its wings once and then soars away, although already turning for another run.

And so…

Mission #1: Dragon Attack.

PCs taking part: all of them.

Mission Brief: Because the players have eight PCs in action here (two each), I doubled the module requirements, and so to make the Dragon cease its attacks they need to deliver 48 points of damage to it, or else two Crits. The mission is only a partial success if 15 or more Greenest Guards are killed- I didn’t tell the players that I wasn’t going to be targeting their PCs, but they soon worked this out.

I also rolled every round to see when the Dragon recharges its Breath Weapon, the minimum time the Dragon needs to turn and swoop in again to make another run was three rounds- oddly the first three attacks all occurred in the shortest possible time, the fourth attack didn’t happen for another nine rounds (because I couldn’t roll a 5-6 to recharge the weapon). Therefore, the N/PCs had plenty of time to get positioned, figure out tactics and take cover etc. between the latter attack runs.

On the Dragon’s second run it suffers, but only a little- Sgt Hardaxe (Dwarf Fighter, son of the Dragonslayer) fires a heavy crossbow bolt in to the beast, Ray the Zealot (Human Paladin, with help from a lot of Bardic Inspiration- +6 To Hit) buries a javelin in its flank, but the cheers that follow ring false as four more guardsmen are caught in the Dragon’s lightening blast and killed. On its third run the Dragon manages only to frazzle one Greenest Guard and is hit by an Eldritch Blast (Lux- Human Warlock), another crossbow bolt (Hard Bonk- Half-Orc Monk) & an arrow (Watt- Human Bard)- that’s more like it.

Then things go bad- or else the PCs dice rolls go bad, on the fourth Dragon pass three more Guards die, and only Lux manages to hit the beast with yet another Eldritch Blast. On the fifth none of the PCs manage to score a hit- and yet two more Greenest Guards are blasted. It’s not looking good, that’s thirteen Greenest Guards dead already.

That is until the sixth run when Hotlips Houlihan (Halfling Rogue) catches the Dragon in a vulnerable spot with an arrow from her shortbow (a Crit), which brings the damage dealt to exactly 48 points, the Blue Dragon curtails its run, gains altitude, and then heads elsewhere.

The Dragon’s departure is met with a roar of approval, Hotlips is hoisted in the air and cheered for a while.

Job done, and only thirteen Greenest Guards had to die to save the Keep.

Derek Pilch (Human Druid) is in a fury throughout this encounter, the Blue Dragon during its passes never gets closer than thirty feet from the battlements, the Druid (whose family were slain by a Green Dragon- he doesn’t like them much) had no spells, or even weapons, to throw, fling or cast effectively at the terrifying beast. In the six rounds of combat he managed to throw four daggers at the Dragon (all misses). Jackie, who plays Derek, is not best pleased- which is odd because all of her friends around the table were laughing like drains at her sweary frustration.

And so after the chatter has died down, and the terror has passed, its on with the other Missions, although there’s time for a little topping up of equipment first, particularly as every PC that had a javelin, spear or dagger (some were desperate- Derek) is now out of ammunition- all lost over the side of the Keep battlements.

And so…

Mission #2: Save the Mill.

PCs taking part: Ray, Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric), Lux & Watt- the Brothers of the First Light have got the call.

Mission Brief: Get to the Mill, via the secret sewer and the Greenest River, unseen- prevent the enemy from setting alight to the place, or else stealing the grain. Signal when the Mill is secured, and Sgt Markguth will lead a contingent to the area to keep the place safe. The good Sgt will then accompany the PCs back to the Keep. Prisoners should be taken if possible, and brought back to the Keep for interrogation.

Alas there are problems from the start, the Brothers emerge from the secret sewer at exactly the same time as a Kobold (x6) patrol is passing, it gets bloody- the guys know they can’t let the enemy discover the hidden way in to the Keep.

09 Kobolds in River.jpg

Several Kobolds charge in to the emerging Brothers, Lux is kept safe from harm by Lummins’ Warding Flare*- the Warlock stabs a Kobold dead, Watt’s Thunderwave leaves another three Kobolds dead and one barely standing- which tries to flee but doesn’t get far- Watt stabs it in the back. The last of the miscreants, also attempting to flee, is bonked on the head by Lummins with his mace and taken prisoner. Ray heads back in to the secret sewer to deliver the Kobold-shaped parcel to the Greenest Guards awaiting them there.

*Yeah, that’s not how Warding Flare works at Level 1, we worked this out eventually…

The Brothers head on, down the river and keeping out of sight- they hope, and to the Mill, outside of which are another clutch of Kobolds (just three of them), and another Cultist who seems to be on the lookout. The Kobolds have bought kindling but not enough, and they’re making a poor fist of getting the fire started- in fact…

10 Kobold & Cultist at Mill.jpg

The Brothers watch for a while- Lummins & Lux are suspicious, the Kobolds don’t seem to be doing anything much- the whole thing looks like a pretence. Five minutes later and they’re certain- there’s something very odd going on here, Watt goes for a little scout around (the Bard, when he wants to be, is very Stealthy). The Brother’s caution proves to be a wise move- there are another four Cultists (actually- Guard x4) hidden around the corner, watching- and every now and then surreptitiously signalling to the Cultist with the Kobolds.

11 Hidden Mercs.jpg

A trap? For them? If not, for whom? Hmm… how to play this?

First task then, re-position, and then attack the Cultists (Guards) observing the Mill- which turns out to be easier to do than they expected- the enemy seem to be solely intent on observing the Mill.

The Brother’s attack catches the mercenaries by surprise, however all of their efforts (including a Burning Hands spell from Lummins) count for little- all four Cultists (Guards) are wounded in the opening salvo, but none fall. The fight gets serious because the action is only twenty or thirty yards away from Mill. If it lasts another round (the kindly DM informs them), then it’s very likely they’re going to be spotted.

The fracas continues to go badly, the Cultists (Guards) are tough- Ray is speared, and all four of the bad guys are still in the fight and screaming loudly- the Kobolds and Cultist outside of the Mill eventually hear the rumpus and come running.

Eventually Lux takes down a Cultist (Guard) with an Eldritch Blast (her third attack and first hit, after spending her Inspiration Point), Ray is taking hits- the Paladin of Lathander is quickly down to three hit points and is being mobbed by the three Cultists (Guards) still standing. Watt shoots one of them dead, and the odds are looking better for the Brothers, although the Kobolds and the Cultist are on their way.

Lummins to the rescue, the Cleric keeps Ray on his feet with a Healing Word and then blasts another Cultist (Guard) dead with a Scared Flame. Then alas the Kobolds arrive and open up with their slings- Ray is very quickly back to being heavily wounded. The Paladin however manages to cut the last of the four Cultists (Guard) down, and then charges forward to menace the Kobold slingers- there’s no backing down for the Zealot.

The Cultist (who really is a Cultist- stat wise) with the Kobolds sees the Brothers in action and realises that the PCs are tougher than expected, the frustrated fellow runs back to the Mill screaming at the Cultists (x4) hidden inside to come out to play. Or he would do if he didn’t suddenly sprout and arrow from his back, his calls for aid die on his lips as he bleeds out in the street- Watt is yet to miss with his longbow.

The last of the Kobolds makes it to the melee, and stabs Ray the Zealot down to the ground (with a Crit). The gang of Kobolds rush on and in to Lux and Lummins, the Warlock and the Cleric are both stabbed, for good measure Ray fails his first Death Save.

Watt shoots a Kobold dead, after having to spend his Inspiration Point- his first miss of the fight. However, the two remaining Kobolds keep fighting, and seconds later Lummins is also down on the floor and bleeding out (his first Death Save is a ‘1’, that’s two failures in an instant).

Seconds later Lux is down, that’s three of them- Watt shoots the second to last Kobold dead and then emerges from his sniping position making terrible threats (in Draconic) towards the last remaining Kobold (which is badly wounded- on 2 HP), he Intimidates the creature- it flees.

Which just leaves the Bard with his three dying companions.

It goes like this- Ray bleeds out, three Death Save failures in a row; Watt gets to Lummins in time and feeds him a Potion of Healing, and then repeats the trick with Lux- the trio manage somehow to get themselves in to cover, dragging Ray’s body with them. They rob the dead Paladin of his Potion of Healing (Lux), and money (Watt, when the other two aren’t looking). Then they recover for a while (Short Rest) and then make their way, somehow, back to the Greenest River. There they meet up with Sgt Markguth and his men, the brave Sgt recovers Ray’s body (the PCs left the dead Paladin back where they hid up) and then the group head down the river, via the secret sewer, and back in to the Keep.

Mission failure, with the following caveat- the remaining Brothers are certain (somehow)- it was a trap, possibly/probably for them.

They did however take a Kobold prisoner earlier- Woo Hoo!

Remarkably there’s very little in the way of anger after the PC death. Pete is happy with the fact that he played Ray like a Zealot- the Paladin when faced with tough odds never for a second took the easy option, he charged in to the bad guys (repeatedly).

That however is the end of the session, after a little more stocking up (spending of XP) for the three guys that made it back to the Keep. Pete will be playing Sgt Harald Hardaxe in the next session, but also rolling up a reserve PC for the trials and tribulations that lie ahead.

More next time.

Turn 17 Greenrest 40.jpg

KEY: A= The Greenest Keep. B= Kobolds in the River. C= The Mill. D= Hidden Guards.
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We D&D.

Session #18 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #4 Save the Keep.

Brothers of the First Light.
Ray the Zealot (played by Pete) Male Human Paladin of Lathander Lvl 1 RIP
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 1
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 1
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 1

Secondary PCs
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 1
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 1
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Dwarf Fighter Lvl 1
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 1

Note, this is session #18 of our game but only session #4 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

Last we saw the three remaining members of the Brothers of the First Light, namely- Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric), Lux (Human Warlock) & Watt (Human Bard) were making their way back to the Keep, accompanied by Sgt Markguth of the Greenest Guard, with two of his men toting the body of Ray the Zealot, ex-Paladin of Lathander, who has seen the light (or rather is no longer able to see the light). He’s dead, Jim.

Meantime the town of Greenest has been captured, the Dragon Cultists are killing its citizens and all that remain of the townsfolk (save those still in hiding perhaps) are fled to the Keep.

However, back at the Keep things are not going exactly to plan either, a force of Cultists, Kobolds and mercenaries (Guards & Bandits) have made it to, and then through, the Keep’s sally port.

The enemy within (as they used to say in Bogenhafen, give yourself an XP point if you get this reference).

The players secondary characters (they’re going to have to think of a better name than that) are straight in to action to defend the Keep, and the townsfolk therein.

Mission #3: Close the Sally Port.

PCs taking part: Hotlips Houlihan (Halfling Rogue), Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk), Sgt Harald Hardaxe (Dwarf Fighter) & Derek Pilch (Human Druid).

Mission Brief: Get the bad guys out of the Keep- or else kill them (but also see below), close the sally port and get it fixed (the door is broken)- simple as. Oh, and try to take a few prisoners to interrogate later if you can.

However, before the PCs can get to the sally port they have to deal with this lot- a trio of Cultists, four Kobolds and a Guard are already in the compound and attacking the good folk of the Keep.

12 Sally Port 1.jpg

The fight starts badly- Sgt Harald gets stabbed by a rushing Kobold, he reciprocates and ends the little bugger, Derek Pilch entangles three of the would-be attackers. While Hard Bonk breaks a Kobold’s neck with his foot- nice work, or so you’d think. Then the PCs dice break, and they stop hitting- but not me (your glorious DM).

Sgt Harald gets sliced by a Cultist (a Crit) and is down and dying. My dice are working fine!

Derek Pilch stops a slingshot, with his face- the Druid is bloodied.

The players luck turns (maybe)- Hotlips tags a Cultist with her crossbow from hiding, and rolls snake eyes- minimum damage, you probably remember hearing the groans from wherever you were sitting at the time.

It’s starting to look bad.

Hard Bonk is stabbed by the Guard, I roll maximum damage- funny that, but it doesn’t end there, the Kobold standing next to the merc takes the Half-Orc down, or rather would have done if it wasn’t for his Relentless Endurance.

The ‘Phew’ is short-lived, seconds later another Cultist gets to work, and this time Hard Bonk hits the deck.

Derek gets to Sgt Harald with a Cure Wounds (and rolls a ‘2’ on the die, honestly the noise around the table), however the Druid also uses his Inspiration Point to club a Cultist to death. The players have completely forgotten that they’re supposed to be taking prisoners, it tends to happen when you’re teetering on the brink of destruction.

Sgt Harald gets to his feet, warhammer in hand- swings hard and misses by a mile, he gets his Second Wind.

Derek takes a hit from another sling shot, and manages to stay on his feet just (on 1 HP).

At which point Jackie (Derek Pilch) has a brainwave- they can spend XP in the Keep to receive healing etc. then why can’t they do it know? The DM is a kindly fellow- go for it. Derek calls out to the crowd- “Is there a healer, my friend (points to the fallen Hard Bonk). Will no-one help?” Fifty XP later and a young man dressed in the robes of an acolyte dashes out and lays his hands on the fallen Half-Orc Monk, a Cure Wounds is given and received.

Seconds later Hard Bonk is on his feet, soon after another Cultist hits the deck with a broken neck. For good measure the Monk also slices a Kobold in two.

Suddenly there are only three enemies left- a Cultist (Entangled still), a Kobold and a Guard- Hotlips badly wounds the Cultist (down to 1 HP), Derek’s Poison Spray kills the Kobold, and Sgt Harald thumps his warhammer in to the Guard’s skull- it shatters (the Guard’s skull- not Harald’s warhammer).

The fight is won, the last severely wounded and Entangled Cultist is punched unconscious (thank you Hard Bonk), they’ve remembered to take a prisoner at last.

There’re high-fives all around the table, and then a brief moment as the players spend XP to get themselves healed some more, or rather in game terms- the same Acolyte seen previously (the saviour of Hard Bonk) drags his master to the cause- the Priest employs his healing powers and then urges the heroes on towards the sally port, the screaming crowd points the way.

The heroes dash on and straight in to a second fight- only this time they get the jump on the invaders who have cleared the area around the sally port and are mid-investigations. Three Kobolds wander the quad, a fourth attempts to placate a large lizard (Ambush Drake), while at the sally port a rough-looking fellow (actually an Acolyte) looks out of the door- signalling the attacks success.

13 Sally Port 2.jpg

The players remember that they need to take prisoners this time.

And with that Hard Bonk rushes straight for the Acolyte- slices him with his shortsword, and then punches him unconscious- nice work. He spends his Inspiration Point, because he can, and badly wounds the Kobold (down to 1 HP) calming the Drake.

A note on Inspiration Points, as the scenario has gone on I have increased their rate of distribution- obviously in an effort to win friends and favour, but also because in this (my) version of the opening chapter of the module I am making sure there’s plenty of action. We’re going to be playing through all of the missions, and once again four PCs is proving to be one too few.

Hotlips shoots the Ambush Drake (with a Crit)- it’s heavily wounded, and then spends her Inspiration Point to do it again, another hit- the creature sags. Sgt Harald charges in and smashes it’s skull with his warhammer (and with another Crit), the beast dies and the battle is almost done.

Derek Poison Sprays a Kobold dead.

Hard Bonk kicks the already badly wounded Kobold in the throat- dead.

Which just leaves two more Kobolds hiding behind a statue and slinging with their slings.

Hotlips shoots one dead (yep, another Crit), one left, Sgt Harald charges in and with the haft of his hammer knocks it out, and another prisoner taken.

The fight is won, and with help from a wandering Wizard’s Apprentice (with Mending cantrip) the sally port is repaired, and then locked and barred shut.

Mission complete- and at a canter.

The players spend a little more of their XP, as the Brother’s of the First Light get back to the Keep (75% of them alive) and discover that they’re no longer the heroes of the hour.

And so, before we go on.

Introducing, although you’ve met him before, the newest member of the adventuring team, Pete’s new PC-

Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete)
Male Human Fighter Lvl 1 (Soldier background)

Big Bad Bobby, as he’s sometimes (affectionately) known is a large slice of Greenest Guard, a six foot two thick-set man with a voice like a foghorn, just how Pete likes his PCs. Bobby, at present, is hiding well the fact that his wife and kids are still unaccounted for, he watches from the walls of the Greenest Keep while his home town burns, thinking most likely his family are already dead. The thought is like a knife in his heart, and thus he volunteers to join the elite team- to find his family (dead or alive) or to make the bastards pay.

Now, to follow a brief chat about Pete- Pete plays (90% of the time) warriors (and the like), he hearts Dwarves because they are tough. Pete likes his PCs to be heroes and crusaders. This sometimes, makes him inflexible- this is the way I (implied- we) do it and this is the way it will be done. That kind of thing, but he’s loyal like a hound, he’s the player- or rather PC, that will hold off the advancing horde while his comrades escape, he loves it when his characters have a good heroic death does Pete.

So, that’s Pete- we love him dearly but he’s been pretty much riding the same horse for the last I don’t know how many years (20+), and he’s not looking like switching mounts anytime soon. He puts a toe in the water every now and then, he played Gaukus Grom as a (mostly quiet) sweetie in Lost Mines of Phandelver, but he’d taken a beating from his Mrs and was perhaps just keeping his head down and trying to play nice.

That’s it- point made, move on.

Next up a little light interrogation, the Brothers of the First Light & Sgt. Bobby Markguth get to work on the prisoners, they have two Kobolds, a Cultist and an Acolyte to play with, and so…

Mission #4: Interrogate the Prisoners.

PCs taking part: Lummins, Lux, Watt & Sgt Bobby Markguth.

Mission Brief: Simple- interrogate the captured prisoners and find out as much information as possible, do not kill them in the process. Report to Governor Nighthill.

The Kobolds- the difficulty is getting them to shut up, and to tell the truth, Sgt Markguth jogs their memory with a few backhanders across the chops. The Brothers learn that the Kobolds are working for the Cult of the Dragon, and specifically for someone they refer to as the “dragon lady”- they don’t know her actual name but she’s a robed Dragonborn (or some other variant- the players have not figured out that several of the bad guys are Half-Dragons) warrior of some kind with a big sword. The Cult is looting places and are based in a camp about a dozen miles away. One of the Kobolds mentions a cave containing dragon eggs at the rear of the camp. This last fact stirs the blood of the players.

The Cultists (including the Acolyte)- the interrogation proves to be a much tougher procedure, although the Brothers of the First Light do a bang-up job of trying to persuade the fellows that there exists a life better lived outside of the Cult, of which they are living proof. Later Lux returns for a solo visit with the Acolyte and attempts to Charm (Person) the fool- my saves are a ‘1’ and a ‘5’ (the Cult Acolyte has advantage on the save), and he’s putty in her hands. The Cultists mostly confirm all that the Kobold’s have told the PCs, Lux gets the Acolyte to draw a rather nice map showing the location of their camp, which is apparently home to several hundred Cultists (Wow!). They learn (again) that the Cult is collecting treasure “for the great horde which will usher in the reign of the Queen of Dragons”, but alas no more details. Lastly, they also confirm the presence of a clutch of dragon eggs under heavy guard hidden away in a cave at the rear of the camp.

Lux also learns the names of two of the Cult’s leaders- Cyanwrath (a male Half-Blue Dragon) who is in charge of the martial side of things, and Mondath (a female Human and Wearer of Purple- local leader type) who runs the show. Lux remembers seeing Cyanwrath leading an attack on the Keep.

Nice work!

DMs Interlude- a note about Friends and Charm Person, I applied the Dark Devotion (see Cultist stat block) to all members of the Cult. That said I’m always going to give the PCs a little bit of help- the interrogators, for the most part, are all ex-Dragon Cult members. Lux and Watt both have the Friends cantrip, high Charisma and good social skills, also Lux has the Actor Feat- which provides her with a few more bonuses depending on the situation. Please don’t think I worked any of this out before the game, I just decided the DC or advantage/disadvantage on the fly and tried to be consistent.

Back to the game…

At which point Nighthill and Escobert turn up for their briefing- Sgt Markguth reports their findings. However, Nighthill and Escobert have news of their own… not good news- they’ve located Eadyan Falconmoon, the Priest of Lathander is still in Greenest- he’s trapped in his church, along with at least two dozen members of his congregation. Worse still it seems the Cultists are searching in the area…

Nighthill has similar news for Hard Bonk, remember the Half-Orc Monk came to Greenest in search of his master- Leosin Erlanthur, it seems Leosin also didn’t make it back to the Keep. This information is supplied by Nesim Waladra, who is Leosin’s present apprentice, he was with his master trying to fight their way back to the Keep until they got separated.

And so…

Missions #5: Sanctuary.

PCs taking part: The Brothers of the First Light (Lummins, Lux & Watt) plus Sgt’s Harald Hardaxe & Bobby Markguth, because the players convinced me to allow them to take five PCs in to battle this time, four PCs has proven to be very scary (for them).

Note the Brothers & the Sgt’s are now outfitted (as best they can) to look like the invaders (Cultists/Guards) and being ex-members of the Cult of the Dragon (three of them) they’re fairly confident they know some of the signs and pass phrases.

We take a moment in-game to go through what the Ex-Cultists know about the Dragon Cult, in all honesty I’m surprised the players haven’t asked previously. I (your benevolent DM) supply them with a few typical pass phrases, and hand signals, and then talk through the ranks of the Cult (see page 14 of the module book) and answer as many of their questions as I can (and that the dice allow me to).

We go on… it’s turning in to an extended session.

Mission Brief: Get to the Church of Lathander, rescue the Priest and his congregation- return them safely to the Keep. Avoid, or else deal with, any Cultists that get in your way. Take more prisoners to interrogate if you can.

And so, we’re off again, and once more the Brothers use the secret sewer entrance to exit the Keep, and then follow the river bank down to the Church of Lathander, a remarkably easy run with lots of cover.

Then up through the trees and thick vegetation and to the rear of the church, it’s close to dawn- the holy hour of the faithful of Lathander, and therefore an ideal time to complete their mission.

In the half-light the Brothers spy on the back of the church, there they see a clutch of creatures, maybe five or six- exact numbers unknown, the group are hidden in smoke (and by the lack of light)- they’re trying to set fire to the building.

The Brothers act quickly, heading straight for the group not trying to hide their presence- although, again, the smoke and half-light is enough to keep them hidden. The two Sgt’s hang back- defensive formation, covering the rear.

Eventually ahead a Cultist steps out of the haze and demands to know who the Brothers are? He even makes a surreptitious hand signal- the three Ex-Cultists reply in kind, letting the fellow know that they are on his side.

14 Lathander Back Door.jpg

Lux and Lummins (both Friends enhanced) put on quite a show, basically they want to know what’s going on, and make it very clear that they are in charge here, and that they report to Cyanwrath directly (nice work Lux). There are two Cultists present, and six Kobolds who are attempting to set the fire. The PCs learn that the leader of this group, Dragonclaw Timon, is to be found around at the front of the church with another squad breaking in, at which point Lux signals for her colleagues to go to work.

Lummins helps out with the fire- he supplies a Burning Hands spell and five of the six Kobolds are instantly toast, Lux Eldritch Blasts one of the Cultists dead, while Sgt Harald turns the last Kobold in to mangled lumps with his warhammer. Alas Sgt Markguth and Watt both endeavour to miss the last Cultist standing, who therefore attempts to flee screaming.

The first syllable of the Cultist’s scream fails on his lips, Lummins grabs out his mace and smashes the miscreant unconscious (with a Crit).

The fire is quickly extinguished, Watt checks the door- it’s locked, the Bard unlocks it in a jiffy, alas the portal is also, very obviously, barred on the inside. Lux knocks loudly, while Watt goes for a bit of a mooch to see what he can see around the front of the building.

Watt works his way around and spots the aforementioned Dragonclaw Timon barking orders at two more Cultists who are using a portable battering ram to smash in the front doors of the church, a group of excited Kobolds wait to pour in to the building. Unfortunately Watt is spotted, the Bard panics and flees back the way he came (he forgot he is disguised as a Cultist).

Odd! Dragonclaw Timon sends a trio of Kobolds to go and see what’s going on, Watt arrives at the back of the church just in time tell Lux this.

However, while the Bard has been away Lux, with help from the two Sgt’s, and particularly Bobby Markguth, who it seems is known by everyone in Greenest, are being let in to the rear of the church, dragging their unconscious Cultist prisoner with them. The Kobolds arrive just in time to spot the door closing, see that the fire is out and their comrades are all dead.

That however is the end of the session.

Turn 18 Greenrest 40.jpg

KEY: A= The Greenest Keep. B= Church of Lathander- Rear. C= Church of Lathander- Front.
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We D&D.

Session #19 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #5: The Light of Lathander.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 1
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 1
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 1
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 1
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Dwarf Fighter Lvl 1

Secondary PCs
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 1
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 1
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 1

Note, this is session #19 of our game but only session #5 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

The three remaining members of the Brothers of the First Light, namely- Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric), Lux (Human Warlock) & Watt (Human Bard) along with the two Sgt’s- Markguth (Human Fighter) of the Greenest Guard, and Harald Hardaxe (Dwarf Fighter) are in the business of rescuing Eadyan Falconmoon (Priest of Lathander) and his congregation. Alas a pair of Dragon Cultists, and a clutch of Kobolds (six of them) lead by Dragonclaw Timon are trying to break in to the Church of Lathander.

Within the church all is chaos, particularly when the heroes arrive dressed as wannabe Cultists, this is quickly explained away as Sgt Markguth’s booming voice makes it clear that a) all is well, and b) he’s in charge (Pete is loving this by the way).

In the silence following Sgt Markguth’s speech a horn sounds, from just outside of the church- that’s not good.

Eadyan Falconmoon, an aged robed Half-Elf Priest of Lathander, is the only island of calm in the sea of the townsfolk’s fear. A crashing noise signals the fact (narrated by Falconmoon) that the Cultists have just broken through the first set of doors in to the church- there’s one more set of doors to go. His next words are however a little bit of a shock to the Brothers- he knows their names- odd, and odder still insists that he has seen them before, in his dreams. The Priest’s story gets very unhinged very quickly- there’s garbled talk of an angel of light, a revelation from on high of a world on course for apocalypse, subject to five damnations- scalding acid, choking gas, purging flames, freezing cold and lightning’s scourge. The adventurers stare open-mouthed for a bit (they don’t make the connection with Tiamat, but hey-ho), then the sounds (and sight) of the second door splintering drags them back in to the here and now. Time for action, mad Priest’s story later.

The heroes sprint to the far end of the church- readying their attacks, and then bugger me we roll for Initiative and… adjusted score in brackets- Watt 19 (22), Lummins ‘20’ (21), Harald ‘20’ (21), Lux 18 (20) & finally Markguth 19 (20).

So, my bad guys are in for a tough time…

15 Lathander Front Door.jpg

As soon as the doors burst open Watt is on the spot and in action with his Thunderwave- two Kobolds burst (in various places) while both of the Cultists suffer. Lummins hits a Cultist with a Sacred Flame, Sgt Markguth springs from hiding and flails and misses (with Advantage, of course). Kobolds spill in to the church- Watt & Sgt Hardaxe both get hit by the slinging little vermin. Hardaxe rumbles forward and smashes a Cultist down with his warhammer.

The remaining Kobolds and Cultist attack to no avail, the smirking Dragonclaw however cuts down Sgt Markguth in the blink of an eye, and then for good measure slashes the already wounded Watt, and the Bard hits the deck too.

That went from good to bad rather quickly.

However, I’ve been waiting for this moment.

Suddenly the rays of dawn’s first light like lasers search out the front door of the Church of Lathander, the church was designed for just such an effect. The light bathes the Brothers of the First Light, and the two Sgt’s- and stirs them to glory.

For the Brothers the effect of the light is instant, for the two Sgt’s first each a question- delivered in a woman’s voice directly in to their consciousness, time stops for their answers- “Do you accept the Light of Lathander in to your life as the one true God?” Pete, who is playing Sgt’s Markguth & Hardaxe answers for both- ‘yes’ & ‘no’ respectively. Sgt Bobby Markguth converts to the worship of Lathander.

And so the effect of the Light of Lathander- Sgt Harald Hardaxe is healed of all wounds, and buoyed as if he has had an Extended Rest.

The four worshippers of Lathander are healed of all wounds, benefit from an Extended Rest, and instantly attain Level 2.

There is much to cheer about around the table, followed by a short fifteen minute break for the players to level up their PCs mid-fight. An unexpected delight which they can’t wait to put in to action.

And so- Watt, bathed in light and grinning, gets back to his feet and hits the Thunderwave button again- the remaining Cultist and a Kobold are shredded, another Kobold and Dragonclaw Timon are left tottering- barely able to stand.

Lummins incinerates both survivors with his Burning Hands.

Sgt Harald smashes another Kobold dead- which just leaves two of the little buggers, armed with slings, the pair flee the church yapping all the way.

The PCs spill outside- Sgt Markguth ends one of the fleeing Kobolds with an arrow in the back, the other is Eldritch Blasted, but somehow manages to survive the experience and makes it out of sight.

The Brothers (all four of them- Sgt Markguth has joined the gang) and Sgt Hardaxe head back inside- it’s still however not time for Eadyan Falconmoon’s story. The next job is to get the good folk to safety- through the church grounds, into the thick vegetation down by the Greenest River, then on to the Keep.

There’s not even time to discuss what just happened.

The adventurers lead the townsfolk out at a rush, almost immediately a horn sounds again- and close by, then an answering call- the congregation is moving quickly but the townsfolk are beginning to panic- they can hear the sounds of yapping Kobolds- they must be close. It quickly becomes apparent that there are two groups of the enemy charging around the graveyard looking for them. The congregation cannot hide so well- there are nearly thirty townsfolk plus the Priest, Eadyan, and the adventurers. It quickly becomes obvious that a fight is on the cards, the Brothers pick their spot rather than attempt to take on the Kobolds & Cultists out in the open.

Just for info both of the enemy groups consist of a pair of Cultists, five Kobolds and an Ambush Drake, so this is to be a tough encounter.

16 Lathander Graveyard.jpg

Sgt Markguth orders Eadyan to get the townsfolk down and in cover- the Priest obliges, while the adventurers take pot shots at the first group of enemies approaching fast, trying to thin the pack out before they get in close. The adventurers are remarkably effective, so much so that 2nd Level seems like a revelation to the players- Lux takes down a Cultist with an Eldritch Blast and then picks off a yapping Kobold, Sgt Markguth shoots another Kobold dead, Lummins’ Sacred Flame has the same effect- another dead Kobold. Watt settles a little Bardic Inspiration on both Sgts & then shoots the Ambush Drake twice. Sgt Harald follows the Bard’s lead and sinks a heavy crossbow bolt in to the Drake also, the beast is almost spent.

The first group of attackers is looking very rag-tag, down to a Cultist, two Kobolds and a badly wounded Drake- still they press their attack. The second group of enemies rushing to the fracas will arrive in the next round.

The battle is not so clear cut- the Cultist and another Kobold are cut down, but then the second group of enemies arrive- Sgt Hardaxe gets stabbed (he’s always taking hits and his AC is high), Lux rolls a ‘1’ for her attacks two rounds in a row, while Sgt Markguth goes one better (sorta), he rolls a ‘3’ for his attack two rounds in a row- then gets mad, spends his Inspiration Point and rolls a ‘1’- the die in question gets an impromptu flying lesson out of the window.

Then it all goes pear-shaped for my bad guys, Lummins gets in to the middle of the two enemy groups, presents his holy symbol and calls on the Radiance of the Dawn. The effect of the blinding light is devastating- six Kobolds, a cultist and the badly wounded Ambush Drake succumb to the radiant burst, many of the survivors are also close to death.

My terrifying horde is reduced to one Cultist, one Kobold & a thankfully uninjured Ambush Drake. That’s it.

Sgt Harald charges in to the Cultist (and rolls a ‘1’, cue second die flying lesson) to compound his misery the Ambush Drake rips in to the Dwarf Fighter who seconds later is down and bleeding out.

The Kobold and Cultist exchange panicked glances and then flee.

Lux rolls her third ‘1’ in a row- she can’t bring herself to throw away her dice, Sandy (who plays Lux) has only got one set.

Sgt Markguth rushes over to defend the prostrate Sgt Hardaxe, the Fighter cuts the Ambush Drake (with a Crit), and then with his Action Surge finishes it off.

The fight is over, and Lummins Cures Sgt Hardaxe’s Wounds.

Twenty minutes (in-game time) and several fudged encounter rolls later (it’s time to wrap-up Episode 1) the Brothers and the congregation get back to the Keep, and with their latest Cultist prisoner still along for the ride.

The Brothers (et al) count their latest batch of XP, then spend some of it at the Keep topping up their resources. A short while later they also get to hear Eadyan Falconmoon’s story in full, although I’ll spare you the wandering narrative-

a) Eadyan had been visited by various apocalyptic dreams- all involving the destruction of Greenest in some way- a great conflagration burning the crops and houses, choking gas seeping from the earth, a terrifying lightning storm striking and destroying multiple buildings, a freezing fog that causes the temperature to plummet and lastly the Greenest river over-flowing- its still waters replaced by bubbling acid. In all of his dreams the townsfolk of Greenest suffer and die in droves.

b) At some point in every one of the various and terrifying dreams, five pairs of swaying (almost hypnotic) eyes would appear, seemingly super-imposed upon the visual action.

c) Eadyan thought he was going mad until he was visited by an angel (in his dreams) in the form of a ball of Lathander’s holy radiant light- the light spoke to him, told him to summon the Brothers of the First Light to Greenest. The angel showed him images of the Brothers and told him their names.

d) Last bit- where’s Ray?

The remaining Brothers recount the loss of Ray- slaughtered by Kobolds, as ignominious goes…

Eadyan Falconmoon frets over the loss of Ray- the leader of the Brothers of the First Light (which is universally met with laughter), the Brothers swear however that they will get over the loss of Ray.

Eadyan is certain that the Brothers are meant to be here in Greenest, to see the horror- Lathander has plans for them.

The players spend a good ten minutes talking about Eadyan’s dreams, and the presence of Tiamat- the cat is out of the bag, Pete and Rob both know where this scenario is going, and now all the players do. They also briefly discuss their miraculous rise to second level- the healing Light of Lathander, consensus is- neat!

And so…

The Dragon Cultists are leaving, clearly loaded down with the treasures they have plundered- Greenest has suffered terribly with several buildings still in flames.

And yet there’s one last Mission for the Brothers, or at least one Brother. Cyanwrath, who up close it can be seen is a Half-Blue Dragon, stands outside of the gates to Greenest Keep, with a contingent of Kobolds, and more importantly with Sgt Markguth’s wife and kids.

Cyanwrath makes clear the rules to the following game-

Mission #5: Dragon Champion.

PC taking part: Sgt Markguth as it turns out, with a few buffs from others.

Mission Brief: Face Cyanwrath- one on one and to the death (or at least unconsciousness- Lummins the Cleric is on standby), regardless of the outcome the Dragon Cultist leader swears he will free the woman and her children.

17 Cyanwrath.jpg

Sgt Markguth goes in to battle with a little extra Bardic Inspiration and Lathander’s Blessing.

It begins, of course, with a bit of chatter- “So, you’ve been pretending to be working for me? (It seems our heroes’ actions have been noted) Let’s see if you’re good enough to work for me?” Cyanwrath is much too fast for the heavily armoured Sgt Markguth, the first cut of his greatsword is a hit (and a Crit for 14 damage), the second slash is… well, another hit, and Sgt Markguth is down and dying.

That didn’t last long.

“You failed the test. Not good enough.” Cyanwrath addresses the fallen Sgt and then stabs him once more for good luck, then stalks off as the thirty or more Kobolds yap and threaten, quickly surrounding their master.

Watt and Lummins are swiftly to Markguth with a pair of Cure Wounds spells- he lives.

So, Sgt Markguth gets his wife and kids back, however they also get to witness his defeat, and now he is haunted by that thought. Sgt Marguth (and Pete) swears (actually Pete swears a lot) that Cyanwrath will die by his blade.

That however is the end of the session, and also the end of Episode 1, it’s over, at last.

The heroes…

18 The Heroes.jpg

And on a happy note (well, from my POV).

Between sessions the rest of the PCs are levelled up- they’re all Level 2 now.

Turn 19 Greenrest 40.jpg

KEY: A= The Church of Lathander. B= Greenest Keep. C= Cyanwrath & Sgt Markguth Duel.
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We D&D.

Session #20 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #6 Camp Dragonclaw.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 2
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 2
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 2
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 2
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 2

Secondary PCs
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 2
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Dwarf Fighter Lvl 2
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 2

Note, this is session #20 of our game but only session #6 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

We’re on to Episode 2: Raiders’ Camp.

So it begins again, the Brothers et al spend a little XP re-equipping, this after getting in their first Extended Rest for some time- they’re all Level 2 now. However the first caller they have on waking is Governor Nighthill, he has a proposal for the adventurers. Simply put he wants them to follow the invaders back to their camp and if possible to infiltrate the place, he has questions that need answering-

1) Where is the camp?
2) How many raiders are there?
3) Who are their leaders?
4) What is the motivation for these attacks?
5) If they plan to strike again, where?

The adventurers are also asked to recover any stolen goods they can, but Nighthill insists the answers to the five questions above take priority. He is willing to pay them 250gp each, which is a goodly sum of money.

The players talk amongst themselves for a while, clearly this task requires a great deal of roleplay, are they up for it- the answer is of course, yes. It helps that the guys already have a map to the camp provided to Lux (Human Warlock) by the Acolyte that she Charmed previously, they’re fairly certain they know who the leaders are (Cyanwrath & Mondath), also they fear the raids are motivated by a desire to build a hoard/horde fit for Tiamat.

Nighthill also introduces Nesim Waladra, apprentice to Leosin Erlanthar, who is still being sought by Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk); the fear is Leosin has been captured by the raiders. Nesim is concerned for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that his master has been investigating the raiders for the last three months. He may have vital information that could help to combat the Cultists, so gather information and a rescue mission.

The PCs stock up for their new mission, in particular Lux buys (or rather is gifted- she spends a little XP) several bottles of spirits and some fresh food- she’s a smart cookie, figuring out that food and booze are as good as passwords. That done the group get on the trail- note Hard Bonk is going to the camp so that there’ll be no problem recognising Leosin Erlanthur, also because the players have convinced me that five PCs is the future (for now), and they wanted for each of them to have a go at playing two PCs at the same time- it’s Rob’s turn with Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) & Hard Bonk for this mission.

Down the track they go- the trail is easy to spot, also easy to spot is the fact that the Cultists are weighed down- they’re carrying the spoils of their raid.

About four hours later the Brothers spot a campsite, full of bickering Cultists (x4) & Kobolds (x8), the two groups seem to be arguing about the best way to cook a chicken (actually several chickens)- the Cultists want it with chips, the Kobolds favour a more immediate approach to the problem- kill it and eat it raw.

Either way the opportunity is too good to miss, the order however (from Lux- it seems she’s now in charge, Lux is of course played by Sandy- she likes being in charge) is to take a few of the Cultists alive.

19 Kobold Stragglers.jpg

Watt’s (Human Bard) Thunderwave only kills one Kobold, and now he’s stuck out in the open. Lux Eldritch Blasts a Cultists dead (obviously that one wasn’t going to be taken prisoner), while Lummins’ Burning Hands spell kills another two Kobolds and a Cultist. Sgt Markguth (Human Fighter) does as he’s told and rushes in and knocks a Cultist out cold with the flat of his blade. Hard Bonk uses his Step of the Wind to get to the last Cultist left standing- and then hits the guy three times (including Flurry of Blows) and rolls ‘1’ damage every time- the Cultist survives on one hit point.

So, mixed results from the surprise round.

The action starts in earnest and Hard Bonk is hit by a slinging Kobold- Lux Eldritch Blasts the miscreant dead. Meanwhile the last remaining (badly wounded) Cultist attempts to flee. Sgt Markguth cuts down a Kobold and goes chasing after the escaping Cultist- the tide breaks and the other Kobolds are also off and running. Hard Bonk chases one down and knocks it out, Watt repeats the formula.

Lux Eldritch Blasts a fleeing Kobold to pieces- she’s giggling like a loon, and enjoying playing a good guy who has a bit of bad guy about her.

The last Cultist however is getting away, and there’s only Sgt Markguth that’s close- he can’t overtake the fellow so he skids to a halt, grabs out a dagger and… THUNK, his aim is true- he kills it.

The adventurers scour the camp and gather their prisoners- they have a Cultist and two Kobolds, all securely tied, to chat with.

Also time for a short rest- the Brothers et al make chicken and chips and then start their interrogations with the Kobolds- which proves to be a waste of time- “there’s a dragon in the camp”, the first Kobold states- which gets the adventurers attention. Not to be outdone the second Kobold claims that there are two dragons in the camp, a bidding war erupts- the two Kobold prisoners finally settle on their being seven dragons in the camp- all of them different colours. Frustrated the Brothers et al turn to the Cultist prisoner for info.

The Cultist however is saying nothing, that is until Watt gets creative- “tell us what you know, or I’ll set the Sarge on you”, Sgt Markguth screams his demands in the guy’s face- most unnerving. “Or worse still I’ll introduce you to Lux”, Watt adds- Lux whispers in the Cultist’s ear and the next moment he’s in tears (‘20’), he spills the beans.

There’s a rearguard it seems, between here and the camp- note when I read this info in the module (that the Cultists give over the fact there’s a rearguard) I thought to myself- I’m not playing it that way, the PCs are going to have to ask directly otherwise they can find out about the rearguard the hard way. Sgt Markguth asks directly, he’s played by Pete- Pete buys and reads (and DMs) WOTC modules. What can you do?

The Cultist goes on to describe the layout of the camp, with a cave at the rear- “they call it the Nursery”. From the details the Brothers et al draw a map of sorts (which looks a bit like the place).

The next debate is what to do about the rearguard- Sgt Markguth is for doubling round and attacking it from the rear, Lux is for just going around- Lummins, Watt & Hard Bonk side with Lux. Sgt Markguth (violent Pete) argues for a while but Hard Bonk settles the argument- “we have been tasked to infiltrate the camp- gather information and to rescue Leosin- the fat man (Nighthill) said nothing about attacking and killing.”

What to do about the prisoners is a dilemma, right up to the point that Sgt Markguth kills the Cultist and frees the Kobolds, nobody seems unduly concerned, we move on…

An hour or so later and Watt, scouting a little ahead with Hard Bonk, spots the rearguard- or else where it’s likely to be, the Brothers et al spend an extra hour or so making a wide arc- going around the position, and then on to the camp.

The adventurers spend a great deal of time discussing how they’re going to infiltrate the camp, and then they see how poorly guarded it is, with stragglers still filtering in, so they just march in- no-one stops them, or asks for a password, or… well, anything.

DMs Interlude- at this point I get the PCs to make their Charisma checks to see if they’re going to get recognised at any point during their time in the camp- they of course don’t get to see their rolls (in the Dice Tower on Fantasy Grounds), nor do they know what the rolls are for. We have a winner- see later (next session).

Camp Dragonclaw Text.jpg

The Brothers et al, under Lux’s supervision, spend the next twenty or so minutes generally having a wander- through the lower reaches of the camp (Level 1) noting the presence of lots of Kobolds (over a 100, best guess) and the fact that there seem to be half-a-dozen hunters who are supplying food to the camp.

Further in to the camp (Level 2) are the tented accommodations of the Cultists et al, many of the tents bear Dragon Cult insignias, the Brothers of the First Light know about the factions within the cult- each attuned to the worship of one of the five types of chromatic dragon. This place looks much better organised, although there are lots of groups of men standing around, drinking- eating and telling tall tales about their heroics in Greenest.

They also note the presence of the guard towers, the cavern at the rear of the camp, and a very obvious command tent. The latter two areas are heavily guarded, no-one approaches the command tent without being intercepted by at least one Guard (there are four Guards in total) each accompanied by a large (and vicious-looking) Guard Drake. The Brothers give the area a wide berth, and instead concentrate their observations on the cavern at the rear of the encampment for a while.

The cavern entrance is also, and similarly, heavily guarded- however a line of wagons are waiting there to be unloaded- Kobolds and Cultists alike are gathering what are obviously the spoils garnered from the raid on Greenest and taking them within. Actually it is only the Kobolds that are taking the items in to the cavern, under the direction of a uniformed Cultist- possibly a Dragonclaw or a Dragonwing. It’s very well organised, a military operation.

DMs Interlude- I decided ahead of time to give the players a little time to wander before I started messing with them in the camp. You’ll see what I mean about messing with them below.

The Brothers et al have still not located where the prisoners are being kept however, note as well as the questions that Nighthill wants answering they’re also still on the lookout for the robed figure they saw casting a Fireball in to the Greenest General Store, they want to find out who this guy is so they can make him pay.

And so, after an hour or so of aimless wandering (and having still not spotted the prisoners) the players are at a bit of an impasse, it seems they’re going to have to talk to people. The three original Brothers of the First Light have made sure that Sgt Markguth and Hard Bonk are up to speed with regard to the typical signs and pass phrases that the Dragon Cultists use. The decision therefore is to split in to two groups- Lux & Sgt Markguth; and Lummins, Watt & Hard Bonk and to go for a wander and find someone they can ingratiate themselves with and ask questions- they also sorted out their backstories on the way to the camp.

However things do not go exactly as planned, having agreed all of the above, and also a time and place to meet up again (in an hour or so back at the entrance to the camp), the Brothers et al are approached by a Cultist (possibly a Dragonclaw) and barked at for a while- which is scary for a bit but with the ex-Dragon Cultists doing 99% of the talking it goes okay.

Dragonclaw Pang it quickly becomes obvious is looking for bodies to fulfil a variety of positions, and so the adventurers (somewhat to their dismay) find themselves being given various tasks to complete. Their initial panic wears off quickly, Dragonclaw Pang’s authority more-or-less legitimises their presence in the camp- basically they’ve just got themselves a hall pass.

And so, for the rest of this session, and for the first part of the next, the Brothers et al are running errands, obviously in-game we went around the table with each of the PCs getting their opportunity to act out the next bit of their task, however from a narrative perspective it’s far easier if I write this out one PC at a time.

DM Interlude- mechanics wise to complete their allotted tasks each PC had to make a minimum of five Skill Checks- three of the checks using (any) social skill, plus one Investigation or similar check, and one other check of their choice. Obviously they can make more than five checks, but that’s the minimum. They set their own DCs for their checks (minimum DC 8), so they can play it safe and make five DC 8 checks, or else they could stretch themselves- obviously successful checks at DC 15 garner more info, and impress more folk than checks at DC 8. Basically they decided how tough each challenge is going to be for their PCs.

And so-

1) Hard Bonk the Watcher.

Hard Bonk is given the easiest task by far, simply put the Monk gets guard duty- Dragonclaw Pang orders him to go fetch two other Cultists (Renk & Tadd) from the camp (Pang points in the general direction of the Cult tents). Then to head up to the Guard Tower above the plateau and relieve the guards there, basically to stand guard for the next 3-4 hours until they’re relieved… and that’s it.

Remarkably Hard Bonk has no problems with the first (and hardest) part of the task- he’s not the most talkative, and certainly not very charismatic. The initial problem then is finding Renk & Tadd, a majority of the surly Cultists are happily boozing and telling tall tales and in no mood to help him, that is until the Half-Orc starts barking at them and dropping Dragonclaw Pang’s name repeatedly. Thirty minutes later and Hard Bonk has rounded up the pair of recalcitrant Cultists and is now atop the high watch tower on guard duty- and there he (and they) remain for the next four hours.

Note Hard Bonk chooses to play dumb with Renk & Tadd for the first three or so hours of his duty, he answers questions with grunts and nods, or else with the minimum amount of information necessary to redirect the conversation away from him. He’s remarkably good at it- I figured the Cultists, beyond their homicidal (or otherwise) desire to see a world ruled by dragons, also had (or still have) wives, children and family- in short a past. So, I dreamed up a couple of dozen questions with which to pester the various PCs as they went about their interactions. Hard Bonk escaped my interrogation and gave nothing away. That said in the last hour of his watch the Half-Orc suddenly switches tactics- he has questions of his own, the Cultists however are not buying the abrupt change in Hard Bonk’s demeanour (his low Investigation & Deception rolls don’t help either). It gets tense very quickly- “Why do you want to know?” is the repeated reply. The guard duty eventually ends- and the trio are relieved, Hard Bonk has learned a few things (from Nighthill’s list of questions) but nothing substantial. He has however also alerted the suspicions of the pair- soon after duty Renk & Tadd go back to their tent and start to gossip about Hard Bonk- there’s something not quite right about the Half-Orc.

Obviously, the players are not aware of this… yet.

2) Watt the Messenger.

Dragonclaw Pang has a good job for Watt, he will be serving as his runner for the next four or so hours, delivering messages to all and sundry around the camp- from getting the Kobolds to do Dragonclaw Pang’s dirty washing, to checking on operations at the Nursery- the offload of the treasure garnered in the Greenest raid, to asking the Hunters to get more meat. It’s all go for Watt- running back and forth, he certainly gets to see all parts of the camp, including where the prisoners are kept. He even gets a good look inside the entrance cavern to the Nursery- there’s nothing much to see, it extends back in to darkness. Watt, at the end of it all, is the talk of the camp- people love his bawdy tales and gossip. On the one occasion he has to bark at a Cultist for not taking him seriously, the poor fellow almost soils himself, and then scurries to comply- passers-by, including a very hefty looking Dragonclaw (Gahn), compliment or else give nods of approval- good work, that man!

In short Watt receives a letter of commendation from Dragonwing Pang at the end of his shift, and the promise of a recall- Watt is Pang’s go-to guy. Watt also learns all there is to know about the camp, and more or less everyone in it- he can answer every one of Nighthill’s questions and has more info besides. Like the fact that this operation is being repeated elsewhere, and that the treasure from all of the operations is being sent north- there’s a caravan heading that way sometime soon. Also, the fact that the missing Monk- Leosin Erlanthur, is indeed being held prisoner, and that the Monk is being kept alive (and questioned- actually tortured) on special instruction of Rezmir (another Half-Dragon (Black)), who founded this camp and is by far the highest ranking Cultist present.

Lastly, and perhaps the most frightening piece of information that Watt learns, is that the fellow that Fireballed the General Store in Greenest is a Red Wizard of Thay, name unknown- however the evil bastard has apparently left the camp already- his talents needed elsewhere. The obvious implication being that the Red Wizards are involved in the operation- that’s not good news.

Just for info four of the five skill checks Watt makes are over ‘20’, and he set the DCs fairly high (he’s a risk taker) and all combined with excellent roleplay- the cheeky chirpy chappie who never fails to get things done. Watt (played by Jackie) has a blast.

Last one for this session, the other two guys next week.

3) Lummins the Shifter.

A simple task, possibly beneath the in-disguise Priest of Lathander- he thinks so, and carps about the fact endlessly, Lummins is tasked to help-out (later on to oversee) the Kobolds and Cultists shifting bags and boxes filled with items stolen in the raid. As with Watt, Lummins is up to the task- although not in the same league as the Bard. Over the course of the next four hours Lummins gets to see how the items taken from Greenest are at first sorted- with many of the best treasures being packed away and sealed safely and securely in crates, while the more mundane (but still saleable items) are stored much less efficiently in sacks and barrels. The horde is being packed away ready for a long journey and made to look like ordinary trade goods. The richest packages are even given an extra layer of straw topped with another layer of much less valuable items placed on top- the treasures beneath hidden from all but close inspection.

Dragonclaw Barlow is overseeing the operation, and like Watt, Lummins soon becomes the Dragonclaw’s favourite, much to the chagrin of several of the other Cultists- who’s the new guy? The Priest is barked at for a while by his jealous work colleagues, and with no suitable come-back. A little later one of the more envious Cultists (Lummins is getting all the easy jobs) squares up to the Priest of Lathander. It comes to nothing however, Dragonclaw Barlow intervenes and to make matters worse for the other jealous Cultists he decides to slope off for a smoke and leave the now smirking Lummins briefly in charge of the whole operation.

Lummins, as with Watt, learns all there is to know about the activities of the camp- the names of all of the leaders (Rezmir, Mondath & Cyanwrath, in that order) and more importantly that the Nursery is home to many interesting things including a clutch of dragon eggs, all of the treasure taken from over a dozen raids, and that Mondath- the camp commander (and his side-kick Cyanwrath) both spend a majority of their time in the caverns.

All in all, it has been a successful mission so far, at least for the three PCs discussed above, which brings us to the end of this session. Can the PCs carry on the good work- well, yes and no, as you’ll see next time?
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We D&D.

Session #21 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #7 Captured!

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 2
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 2
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 2
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 2
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 2

Secondary PCs
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 2
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Dwarf Fighter Lvl 2
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 2

Note, this is session #21 of our game but only session #7 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

Just to remind you, the adventurers are in Camp Dragonclaw (at least that’s what we’re calling it) pretending to be junior Cultists in order to discover the answers to Nighthill’s questions (see below), and if possible to effect the rescue of Leosin Erlanthur, Hard Bonk’s (Half-Orc Monk) master.

Nighthill’s questions-
1) Where is the camp?
2) How many raiders are there?
3) Who are their leaders?
4) What is the motivation for these attacks?
5) If they plan to strike again then where?

After a brief wander around the camp the adventurers are accosted by Dragonclaw Pang and given a variety of tasks to do, in the last session Hard Bonk, Watt (Human Bard) and Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) all completed their duties with varying degrees of success. Now for Lux (Human Warlock) and Sgt Markguth (Human Fighter).

Remember for each of these tasks the PCs have to make a series of checks- mainly using their social skills, but also do a little bit of Investigating to see what answers they can fathom for Governor Nighthill. They do however get to set their own DCs for the Skill Checks (and can go as low as DC 8). Also remember that all of these events are happening at the same time- when we played this I went around the table with each PC doing a little more of their allotted task (with subsequent Skill Checks) before moving on to the next PC.

Warning- this is a long session, I kept trying to wrap it up with a cliff-hanger (you’ll see) but the players wouldn’t let me, they insisted we keep on playing.

4) Lux and the Kobolds.

Lux gets the dirtiest job going, much to her chagrin, Dragonclaw Pang orders her to round-up a dozen or so Kobolds- march them to the hunters and demand as much meat as possible, butcher it and then grab a cart and deliver it to the Nursery. Lux isn’t happy, she wanted a task with an opportunity to get close to one of the high-ranking Cultists and she’s stuck with trying to organise lowly Kobolds.

The first thing she has to do is get along with Dragonclaw Sek, who is the Kobold liaison, Sek is a nasty fellow- and creepy with it, although Lux is a sweetie with him- and then a little strict when Sek gets too seedy, the fellow is soon cowed and later left somewhat in fear of the Warlock (as are most NPCs, and some of the PCs).

Soon after a dozen Kobolds are efficiently rounded up- Lux is very strict with them, going as far as Eldritch Blasting an empty Kobold tent just to demonstrate her powers, the little miscreants are herded to the hunters. The hunters also try the surly act, but it gets them nowhere, soon after the rough rangers are helping the Kobolds with the butchering, and even go as far as to provide a cart for the chopped-up meat.

Lux delivers her bounty to the Nursery in style, and early, and with the Kobolds marching in a (ragged) formation behind the cart- causing a great number of Cultists to stop and stare at the procession en route. In short Lux also gets noticed, and the reports back to Dragonclaw Pang are exemplary (although still not quite up to Watt’s standards).

Lux is also in-line for a commendation, and all without once being a teacher’s pet.

She also picks up enough information to answer all of Nighthill’s questions, and on top of that she gets to briefly nose-around a short way inside the Nursery cavern- while within she spots a pair of Dragonclaw’s that suddenly ‘appear’, there must be a concealed door somewhere close by.

Which just leaves Sgt Markguth.

5) Sgt Markguth’s swordplay.

Dragonclaw Pang takes one look at the hefty Sgt Markguth, and after checking that he can swing a sword, orders him to grab a dozen or so Cultists and give them a thorough work-out. Pang was in Greenest, and as he states, “some of these fellers may know plenty about dragons, but they sure as hell know nothing about swords.” Pang is ex-military, and he can tell that the Sgt has served, although atm he’s not prying.

It takes the Sgt a good while to get some men together to even do the training, he lacks in subtlety, and being ex-military, he figures that riling and insulting people is the way to go about things- it sorta works, a bit.

Then, however Markguth gets in to (ahem) the swing of things, he’s a drill Sgt- this is his bread and butter, and soon after there’s a queue of volunteers. Big Bad Bobby knows all there is to know about swords, and how to motivate others to get better at using them. There’s a brief moment when an uppity Cultist takes offence at something the Sgt has said (which I can’t repeat here) but the situation is quickly resolved- Markguth bests the fellow quickly and efficiently and then gives him a few whacks to remember him by. At the last he even throws an arm around the formerly-fuming Cultist and manages to straighten him out a little.

Then Dragonclaw Gahn comes by- Gahn has a reputation, he’s a swordsman too. Gahn watches for a good while- nodding his approval every now and then. Eventually he goes over for a chat- he’s very polite, although he asks a lot of questions which Markguth only just manages to deflect. Then, as he’s about to leave (phew, I’ve survived thinks Pete) he asks if he could possibly fight Markguth- a demonstration bout, nothing serious- practice swords (and subdual damage). Big Bad Bobby ain’t for backing down, and so they fight.

Which draws a crowd, and as the fight goes on the crowd gets bigger- maybe thirty or forty bodies are clustered around the sweating pair, cheering (mostly) Gahn on. Even Hard Bonk spots the action from high up on his watch tower.

20 Bobby vs Gahn.jpg

Gahn gets in the first blow, then the fight settles down to a lot of swatting and slashing- all ineffectual, that is until Sgt Markguth lands a couple of big hits, having already used his Action Surge- to no effect, he is forced to use his Inspiration Point. Gahn is heavily wounded, and not at all happy about it- the crowd have gone quiet.

At which point Gahn loudly declares “I know who you are… I saw you fight Cyanwrath!”, a few seconds later (after taking another hit from Markguth) the Dragonclaw- realising he’s close to unconsciousness, calls for the assembled Cultists to grab Sgt Markguth- the assembled watchers hesitate, unsure.

Just for info when the PCs entered the camp they all had to make a secret Charisma check (DC 5) to see if anyone recognised them from Greenest, Sgt Markguth had -4 on the check, he fought Cyanwrath. Pete (who plays Markguth) rolled a ‘2’, for an overall -2 on the check.

Several more of the assembled Cultists recognise Sgt Markguth, they draw weapons and close in. Markguth attempts to escape the closing circle of enemies, first off he batters Gahn in to unconsciousness, then he attempts to burst through the crowd- he fails and is forced to fight half-a-dozen scimitar wielding Cultists. He kills one of the miscreants but the other five manage to beat him in to unconsciousness with the flats of their blades.

Sgt Markguth is dragged away, captured.

So, three successes (Watt, Lux & Lummins), one dodgy (Hard Bonk) and one absolute failure (Sgt Markguth).

At this point I ask Pete (playing Sgt Markguth) to leave the room (but to take his dice and character sheet with him)- we’re going to be doing his stuff away from the table and away from the other players. I call for a break in play while we resolve the situation.

Markguth is dragged over to the prisoner’s compound, and a short while later his interrogation begins, the other players guess what’s going on but are totally unaware of the outcome below, in short they don’t know how much (if any) danger they are in.

Markguth’s interrogator is Dragonclaw Gahn, healed by a Cult Priest, and eager to reclaim a little lost pride- the Sgt however is not answering questions, even after a beating- then the torture begins, culminating in Gahn breaking the Sgt’s fingers and then cutting off two fingers from his right hand (Pete is really not happy about this). And yet still the Sgt says nothing (he keeps making Constitution Saves and Checks- mostly with ease).

Then Cyanwrath (the Half-Blue Dragon Cult leader) turns up, and it gets worse for Markguth- soon after he cracks, the Sgt tells his story, he states that he came to the camp on his own to join the Cult, although his real reason for doing so is to get close to Cyanwrath in order to kill him- he explains that having been humiliated in front of his wife & kids, and in front of his people- the townsfolk of Greenest, then he has nothing left to live for. He may as well die trying to kill Cyanwrath, or else join the Cult and forget his old way of life.

It’s a doozy of a story, and Markguth (Pete) plays it well- he has one chance at a Deception check (he’s +3, because of good roleplaying, he’s got no bonuses for the Skill) he rolls a 16.

Cyanwrath goes for it- he’ll fight Markguth again in the morning, this time however to the death, and before the assembled masses, if the Sgt wins then he can join the Cult, or else he can leave this place. Cyanwrath doesn’t care which, and will make the arrangements with his superiors prior to the fight, obviously Cyanwrath’s superiors will not allow the Sgt to leave the camp- so it’s join the Cult or die, but this fact is unspoken.

Meanwhile, back around the table, and with Pete still out of the room.

The last instruction issued by Lux, prior to the sudden appearance of Dragonclaw Pang, was to meet up by the entrance to the camp, so that’s where the remaining four adventurers head- eventually. At which point they discover, of course, that Sgt Markguth is missing, or else unaccounted for.

They go looking for him, after agreeing to meet back at the camp entrance/exit in another hour. Remarkably almost all of the PCs struggle- they find people to talk to, role-play their questions well, and then roll… a ‘4’, or something similar. Eventually Lummins learns of the sword practice gone wrong, and the Sgt’s arrest. Also that Markguth is at present being kept with the other prisoners but that the area is off limits atm, as he’s being interrogated by Cyanwrath et al.

Lummins informs his comrades of events and soon after the foursome head over to the prisoner’s compound, it’s crowded there- it seems word has got out about a ‘spy’ in the camp. The place is also very heavily guarded with Dragonclaws and Drakes aplenty, making sure that no-one gets too close to the new prisoner.

The adventurers spot Dragonclaw’s Pang, Barlow & Sek- Lummins, Watt & Lux head over to chat with the three ostensibly to find out what’s going on. The Dragonclaws are happy to discuss the situation- it seems there’s a big pow-wow going on in the prisoner’s tent. Even Rezmir is present (the PCs have heard of Rezmir but not as yet seen her), the players are not quite sure what to do, OOC there are two schools of thought- attack, and probably die trying (or get captured), or flee the camp now. As it turns out events take over- Rezmir (female Half-Black Dragon, the big boss) exits the tent looking like thunder, a few minutes later Frulam Mondath (Wearer of Purple, the camp commander) exits- also looking like thunder, then Cyanwrath sticks his head out of the tent and points at the PCs (they think) and then screams for Dragonclaw’s Pang, Barlow & Sek.

Phew! That was close, the three Dragonclaws hot foot it in to the Prisoner tent.

A minute or so later and Pang sticks his head out of the tent and calls for Watt, Lux & Lummins- the players are not sure what to do. Has Pete (playing Sgt Markguth) told the Cult about them?

It's make your mind-up time...

The PCs head in- inside the tent are ten prisoners, eight anonymous individuals (for now) and two very badly beaten fellows- Sgt Markguth and a skinny human who they correctly assume is the Monk they have come to rescue- Leosin Erlanthar.

Also in the tent is Dragonclaw’s Gahn, Pang, Barlow & Sek, a bunch of nasty Cultists toting various torture devices and Cyanwrath.

“These three?” Cyanwrath asks Pang, who nods to confirm, and the players don’t know whether to start the fight now or else wait and see.

Wait and see wins the day.

Cyanwrath finally addresses Lux, Lummins and Watt, he tells them that he will be fighting Sgt Markguth in the morning, and that it is vitally important that the prisoners (and Markguth in particular) be guarded until then, as they have distinguished themselves recently then Cyanwrath is trusting Lux, Lummins and Watt with guard duty.

The players are grinning like chimps, Lux fawns over Cyanwrath a little, which the Half-Blue Dragon leader doesn’t mind at all.

However also on guard duty is Dragonclaw Gahn, for the Dragonclaw it’s a punishment- for the PCs it’s a chance to get promoted.

And so, it comes to pass that three of the PCs (Lux, Lummins & Watt) along with a very angry (still) Dragonclaw Gahn are put in charge of guarding the prisoners.

All the PCs need now is a plan to get out of the camp with the prisoners… at which point I tried to get the players to end the session, but they weren’t having it, and so, we go on...

Lummins manages to cast Cure Wounds on both the Sgt and Leosin, whilst pretending to strike them and spit in their faces (with a wink for each). Later when Gahn is being distracted by Lux, Watt gets the full story from Sgt Markguth, who is only pretending to drift in and out of consciousness.

There’s a little more role-play, mostly keeping Dragonclaw Gahn from cutting “that bastard’s face off”, that bastard being Sgt Markguth. The PCs also receive two visitors- the first is Hard Bonk who brings food for the guards, and also has a sneaky chat with Leosin- the Monks are equally pleased to see each other.

The second visit is by Dragonclaw Pang to make sure things are all good and that Lux, Lummins and Watt are okay, he even brings them a Guard Drake to help with protecting the prisoners. The PCs role-play their way through the visit, all three PCs attempt to befriend the Guard Drake, alas the creature is having none of it, it’s ferocious (highest Animal Handling check is an adjusted ‘7’).

A little later the PCs come up with a plan- it goes a little like this.

At 2 AM Hard Bonk heads back to the tent- Lux, Lummins and Watt hang back and allow Dragonclaw Gahn (who is still fairly furious) deal with the intrusion- at which point Watt and Lux stab the Dragonclaw in the back- he’s dead before he hits the deck. However, the Guard Drake goes berserk, at least for a second, Hard Bonk (next in Initiative) steps over and rolls a ‘20’ on his Animal Handling, seconds later Gerty (the Guard Drake) is slobbering over the Half-Orc Monk’s face.

Hard Bonk convinces his master, Leosin, that he’s being rescued- Leosin is initially disinclined to go. Sgt Markguth helps out by volunteering to punch Leosin out (actually the Sgt is in no fit state- broken hands, and missing fingers remember).

Next up Lux heads out and rounds up half-a-dozen Kobolds (Intimidate ‘20’), the group recover their meat wagon and head back to the prisoner’s tent. Lummins (with help from the Kobolds) locates a bunch of empty barrels and crates (remember he was in charge of unloading the treasure in to the Nursery earlier), while Watt writes an official looking document from Dragonclaw Pang ordering them to go and pick up supplies- hard tack and the like. Watt served as Pang’s messenger boy remember, the falsified document looks authentic.

Soon after the prisoners are finally cut free and packed in to crates and barrels and hefted on to the cart, Dragonclaw Gahn (RIP) is tied to the post which Sgt Markguth formerly inhabited. The Kobolds guard the cart/tent while the guys get the above done.

Lux, Lummins, Watt & Hard Bonk (with Gerty the Guard Drake) and their sextet of Kobold helpers head for the exit, Lux shows the Cultist Guards their orders and also spreads a little cheer with the booze and food she picked up back in Greenest. The Cultist Guards wish them well.

Off they go, travelling in style by cart- the camp doesn’t discover the prisoners are gone until around dawn, at which point the PCs are halfway back to Greenest- having already slaughtered the Kobolds.

21 Kobold Slaughter.jpg

Just for info the Kobolds are ordered to stand in formation, to attention, at which point Watt hits them with a Thunderwave killing three in an instant and wounding the others, Hard Bonk goes chop-socky crazy and takes another two out while the last- fleeing for his life, but not getting far, is Eldritch Blasted by Lux.

There is much joy in the ranks.

That was maybe six and half hours of play.

This session turned out to be one of the player’s favourites- when they tell stories of their adventures in the Hoard of the Dragon Queen, 99% of the time they start here. They kinda loved it- being put on the spot and having to repeatedly role-play their way out of trouble, it definitely brought out the best in all of them.

Better than combat was how several of them described it afterward.

There’s more, but next time- also they (or rather Hard Bonk) has a pet Guard Drake, we’ll see how long that lasts.
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We D&D.

Session #22 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #8 Cyanwrath!

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 2
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 2
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 2
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 2
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 2

Secondary PCs
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 2
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Dwarf Fighter Lvl 2
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 2

Note, this is session #22 of our game but only session #8 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

So, the Brothers of the First Light (& Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk)) head back to Greenest, en route (and after slaughtering the Kobolds) they get the former Cult prisoners out of their barrels and crates et al. There follows a comprehensive Q&A session- they find out where each of the rescued folk come from- nearby villages which have all been attacked by the Cult. They also discover any more info they know about the Cultists, and their camp. Most forthcoming, and very well informed, is Leosin Erlanthar- Hard Bonk’s former master.

Which is a pain in the backside for me because I had prepared the Players a written test in lieu of their interview with Governor Nighthill, back in Greenest, but they kinda just make me tell them all of the answers. So, no test.

Oh, and Hard Bonk releases Gerty the Drake, it seems all of the other players think it would be mighty cool to have a Guard Drake as a pet- Rob’s not keen at all.

So, back to Greenest and an interview with Nighthill, the players answer all the Governor’s questions- after hearty thanks comes payment, and all of the PCs are Level 3 now- cue mass Level up.

Meantime, Sgt Markguth (Human Fighter)- now missing two fingers on his right hand spends every hour he can getting to grips with his sword, and his new fighting style, and seeing his family of course. Cyanwrath, however- he swears (repeatedly) is going to die at his hands.

The PCs get a day’s rest- they are after all, effectively, now unemployed. Then Leosin Erlanthar comes around with Hard Bonk and offers them 150gp each to head back to Camp Dragonclaw and find out yet more info-

“After all you’ve done already for me personally and for the people of Greenest, I hate to ask anything more from you. But the need is great, and I dare to hope that you can aid me one time more. I need you to return to the cultists’ camp. You know your way around it now. If the cultists are preparing to conduct another raid, or a large body of them marches away, or if anything substantial is carried into or out of that cave, I need to know. If you have a chance to get into the camp and look around again, that would be the ideal way to spot anything that's changed. “

“I don’t recommend letting yourselves get captured,” Leosin adds with a wry smile.

The Brothers of the First Light are up for the task according to Lux (Human Warlock), although this time they’re taking Hotlips Houlihan (Halfling Rogue) with them in place of Hard Bonk, mainly because it’s Sandy’s turn to play two PCs at the same time, and she’s been dying to give the Rogue another run out.

The Brothers agree to meet Leosin in the city of Elturel after they have completed their new mission, the Monk is also keen to introduce them to a friend of his- Ontharr Frume, a Dwarven Paladin of Torm who shares his concerns regarding the Dragon Cultists.

And so…

Episode 3: Dragon Hatchery.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 3
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 3
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 3
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 3
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 3

The PCs stock up and head out again, to Camp Dragonclaw.

And… the camp is gone- broken up, burnt out (or at least the Kobold tents are), there are just two of the Hunters hanging around, the Brothers (dressed as wannabe Cultists of course) wander over for a chat. The Hunters are semi-surly until they spot Lux and quickly figure that they are talking to the guys that ‘bust’ out of camp previously.

Their attitude changes dramatically, they’re very cautious- in the end Lux and Watt (Human Bard) convince them to tell what they know, which is- there was lots of drama after the PCs left camp with Leosin and the Sgt. It was kinda crazy for a while, with the ‘high-ups’ mostly running around shouting at people. The same afternoon the camp started to break up, and by early evening 90% of the folk had left- heading off in small groups mostly, and in different directions.

Which just leaves? Watt and Lux ask.

A bunch of Kobolds and Cultists, guarding some of the ‘high-ups’ (probably Frulam Mondath and Cyanwrath, after further questioning)- and whatever else is in the ‘Nursery’. The Hunters turn to point at the cave at the rear of the camp.

Lux thanks the pair, distributes a few treats (booze) and then tells them to bugger off or else she and her colleagues are going to arrest them, or kill them- the Hunters skedaddle fast.

And so…

The Brothers of the First Light head in, skirting around the right-hand side of the valley area, passing the empty prisoner’s tent, and all the way around to the cave entrance- they sneak up on it.

And spot a lone Dragonclaw within.

22 Going in to the Cave.jpg

Only there’s another Dragonclaw that has not been spotted.

Lux issues her whispered orders- take the bastard down!

Lux (played by Sandy) hits the fellow with an Eldritch Blast and then Hotlips (played by Sandy) assassinates the poor bugger with a crossbow bolt through the throat (and 34 damage on a Crit), Sandy is a giggling like a loon- she likes Rogues and loves the Sandy show.

At which point Sgt Bobby, running forward- spots the second Dragonclaw, unfortunately for my bad guy the PCs get to act again in Initiative (after the surprise round) and seconds later the fellow is surrounded. Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) orders the Dragonclaw to surrender, and then rolls a ‘20’ on his Intimidation check.

The guy is quickly frogmarched out of the cave and in to the nearest serviceable tent, and there he is interrogated, the Brothers learn (thanks mostly to Watt & Lux, as usual) that Cyanwrath and Frulam Mondath are in the cave with a bunch more guards, and that they are guarding a clutch of Dragon eggs, then the Cultist clams up. The fellow is tied up (and down) and dumped (hidden) in the tent.

The Brothers head back in to the cavern, cautiously- they’re looking for a concealed door, or so Lux believes- it’s Sgt Markguth (of all people) who finds it.

Hotlips is sent sneaking in and discovers a snoring Cultist guard clutching a little treasure in an otherwise empty chamber, the Halfling Rogue pockets the treasure for herself and then knocks the bad guy unconscious.

Alas while Hotlips has been looting her comrades decide to do a little sneaking of their own- they’re less successful, Watt trips over his feet (‘1’) and almost falls in to a barracks room rammed with Cultists (actually eight Cultists and trio of Guards).

23 Guards.jpg

The chamber comes alive, with several of the bad guys calling out and heading down a passage to the east, worse still a heavily armoured fellow blocks the passage in to the barracks chamber- Lux, Hotlips & Sgt Bobby all attempt to get past the guy, alas they all fail to shift the Cultist (actually a Guard).

Watt fixes the issue by firing a Shatter spell in to the centre of the chamber- killing five of the room’s inhabitants in the blast, including the Guard blocking the entrance.

“After you.” The Bard grins and directs Sgt Bobby in to action.

The good Sgt, also grinning, dashes in to melee with the three remaining Cultists who are now backing up to block the passage to the east.

Lux hits one with an Eldritch Blast, then Hotlips suddenly appears out of the shadows and stabs the fellow dead. Sgt Bobby cuts down another and then with an Action Surge decapitates the last (‘20’).

The Brothers are still grinning like loons (or at least the Players were- they’re liking how tough they are at 3rd Level), they rush in to the eastern passage.

There’s a Cultist at the end of the passage, watching the way, Watt shoots an arrow through the guy’s black heart, another Cultist appears at the exit of the passage and slashes at Lummins who is now (somehow) leading the Brother’s charge. The ineffectual pair swat furiously at each other but fail to connect, seconds later Hotlips fires a crossbow bolt in to the Cultist’s gut and kills him.

Watt is the first to emerge in to the next chamber, a bedroom-cum-study for a high-ranking individual, namely Frulam Mondath. Mondath Commands Watt to “DROP!” but the Bard ignores the request, and instead yells to his colleagues to catch up.

There are two more Cultists (actually Guards) between Frulam and Watt.

The rest of the Brothers et al begin to arrive, as Frulam takes emergency measures- she throws a rug aside and climbs down in to a formerly concealed hole, an escape route?

Lux hits one of the Guards with an Eldritch Blast, Sgt Bobby closes in and kills the foul fellow, then charges again and gets in to the last Guard’s face.

24 Frulam Flees.jpg

Meantime Watt and Lummins circle the action, the Bard shoots Mondath, while the Priest of Lathander follows up with a Guiding Bolt (after spending an Inspiration Point for a miss)- the Cult leader is bloodied in an instant, however she descends to the cavern below- leaping down the last ten feet. She’s off and running, and screaming for help.

Lux hits the last Guard with an Eldritch Blast and then screams at the fellow to surrender- it works, the bad guy is on 2 HP and surrounded by the bodies of his broken colleagues, the Dragon Cultist drops his weapon and kneels, head bowed down- awaiting the inevitable.

Ten seconds later he looks up and he’s all alone…

Hotlips scrambles down the hole- after Mondath, the Halfling Rogue half-falls, tumbles and gets in position to spin a dagger out and in to the fleeing Mondath’s back.

Seconds later Sgt Bobby, Watt & Lummins also come scurrying down the ladder, tripping over each other in pursuit of the screaming Cult leader.

Mondath bursts in to a much larger cavern chamber, the walls of this cave are covered in intricate carvings lit by shadowy tallow lamps- the motif is Dragons in all of their glory (especially Black Dragons). Standing in the centre of the chamber is Cyanwrath (Half-Blue Dragon), and three thick-set Cult goons (Berserkers). The Half-Blue Dragon nods and one of the goons pads forward greataxe in hand.

Mondath doesn’t stop running until she’s hidden out of sight, then she spams the Cure Wounds button.

Back in the chamber above the surrendered Cultist hears a noise behind him, he turns- just in time to be smashed in the face by Lux’s Eldritch Blast.

At which point Sandy (playing Lux here, and previously Myrium the Blessed in Lost Mine of Phandelver- she had a thing about being ‘good’) grins at her fellow Players- “It feels good being bad!”

Back down below Hotlips backs up when she spots the Berserker approaching, she awaits the arrival of Big Bad Sgt Bobby- the two combatants go to it. Sgt Bobby stops the flat of the Berserker’s greataxe with his face, and dazed swings wildly.

At which point Hotlips appears out of the shadows behind the Berserker and sinks both of her blades in to the brute- with a Crit on the Sneak Attack for a total of 39 damage for both hits. The Berserker doesn’t even register pain (not even bloodied).

The Brothers renew their efforts, Watt is inside the brute’s head with his Dissonant Whispers, Lummins Blesses his companions and then conjures his Spiritual Weapon.

Sgt Bobby Crits the Berserker, seconds later Hotlips follows up with a rapier and dagger combo (the latter another Crit) and the Cultist goon is spent.

There was consternation in the ranks when the Berserker kept being still alive after the PCs kept hitting him, a collective "how much damage is this guy soaking up?" was beginning to register.

The Brothers move forward, Lux catching up at last, over the Berserker’s broken body and in to the chamber proper… Cyanwrath- and two more Berserkers await them (the guys are not happy- this is going to be nasty), and for the observant (Lummins & Hotlips) there’s Mondath hiding just around the corner.

25 Cyanwrath.jpg

The PCs and Cyanwrath chat a while- as the DM attempts to run down Lummins’ Spiritual Weapon and Bless spells. Eventually- when the PCs figure out what I’m doing, Cyanwrath challenges Sgt Bobby to a fight- one-on-one, just Cyanwrath and the Sgt- winner takes all, complete surrender if the Sgt wins.

At which point Mondath objects, however the offer is swiftly rejected, Sgt Bobby (Pete) simply states- “Not likely, you’re way too good for me…”, and after the smile, “but against us… CHARGE!”

And I get Initiative with Cyanwrath, the Half-Blue Dragon meets Sgt Bobby’s attack with a… Miss, and a… Miss. Damn! Action Surge… and… a MISS!

Hotlips appears and stabs Cyanwrath in the leg, Lummins’ Spiritual Weapon also connects with the Half-Dragon, then the Priest of Lathander grabs out his holy symbol and bathes the chamber in his Lord’s blessed light- Radiance of the Dawn. However, Lummins’ superpower is more of a damp squib, to begin with only one bad guy fails his save, and then the damage is rather underwhelming.

One of the Berserkers smashes Lummins, his Warding Flare fails to save him, the Bless spell instantly expires and the Priest is left bleeding badly.

Watt fires off a Thunderwave, catching Cyanwrath and one of the Berserkers.

Mondath, in the background, helps out with a Mass Healing Word for his Cult comrades.

Lux attempts to Blind Cyanwrath but the Warlock’s magic is not strong enough, the Half-Blue Dragon yawns and sends forth his Lightning Breath- Hotlips is hurt, Sgt Bobby is almost broken.

Lummins recovers quickly- he fires a Healing Word in to Sgt Bobby, and then thumps Cyanwrath again with his Spiritual Weapon, the Priest however pays the price as the Berserker facing him smashes him again (down to 5 hit points).

Watt unleashes another Shatter spell (then rolls 7+7+8 for damage, the bastard)- Cyanwrath falls, while one of the Berserkers is also caught in the blast.

“Hold them!” Frulam Mondath screams at the two staggering goons- and then runs.

The Berserkers are less certain, weapons up but edging back towards the exit.

Lux hits one with her trademark Eldritch Blast. Truth be told Sandy is struggling with her selection of Warlock spells, they all seem very hit or miss- her words. Point of fact I’m not sure that Sandy has actually hit a creature (ever) with an offensive spell other than Eldritch Blast.

Hotlips stabs a Berserker.

Lummins hits the other with his Spiritual Weapon, and then for good measure Crits it with his Mace- it’s not enough, the Berserker smashes the Priest of Lathander down with a Crit of his own (for 22 damage).

The second Berserker, now very badly wounded, attempts to flee- no chance, Sgt Bobby cuts him down.

Just one Berserker left, also badly wounded, and still backing up- the Brothers try to persuade the guy to surrender.

Watt gets to Lummins with a Cure Wounds, and the Priest opens his eyes, just in time to see the last of the action.

Sgt Bobby slashes the Berserker, and then gets his Second Wind, Lux fires an Eldritch Blast in to the goon (with a Crit), while Hotlips finds flesh with both of her blades- and still the Berserker stands, and Rages (all of the Berserkers are using Relentless Attack all of the time- hence lots of Crits against them) slashing at anyone that comes close to it.

That is until Hotlips strikes again, as does Lummins- now back on his feet, who is at present trying his hand at being a melee combatant- the last enemy falls.

The fight, at last, is over- it was glorious, a rolling maul- three combat encounters rolled in to one.

It’s at this point however the Players discover two things- one, Cyanwrath is only unconscious- sweet joy abounds, and two, by the sound of the screams and shouts coming from down the north-west passage more enemies are coming. Kobolds, by the sound of things- lots of them.

Hotlips is sent to check, the Halfling reports back- “Kobolds. Lots of ‘em. Some of ‘em flying!”

26 The Kobolds are coming.jpg

This news is less joyfully received, the Brothers swig down Healing Potions- very quickly, and retreat a little to get themselves better situated. But that’s for next time…

The first sustained combat of this campaign- the fights in Episode 1 (Greenest) were much shorter, although no less brutal in places. It took us over 90 minutes to play out this last combat, but that included quite a lot of missing, in places, and also plenty of chatter, asides and mouth’s stuffed with Pizza at inopportune moments. The Players however were loath to do the wrong thing, and so sometimes took their time. I have to keep reminding myself that two of the players (Sandy & Jackie) have only played 22 sessions of D&D (or any other RPG) ever, only six months’ experience. That’s not to say their bad at it- far from it, they’re just a little more cautious, and whisper it… thoughtful.

Anyway, more next time, and we’re still loving it.
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We D&D.

Session #23 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #9 Fight or Flight?

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 3
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 3
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 3
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 3
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 3

Note, this is session #23 of our game but only session #9 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

26 The Kobolds are coming.jpg

Cyanwrath is only unconscious, and there are Kobold noises (aplenty) coming from the northern passage. The injured PCs swig down Potions of Healing as another wave of enemies comes rushing.

Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) screams a warning and then shoots the first Kobold in to the chamber dead, she backs up a way and slinks in to the shadows.

Three Urds (flying Kobolds) swoop in, the trio are carrying rocks, following on are another half-a-dozen Kobolds- Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) cuts one down. The oddity being that other than Hotlips that’s the only hit in the entire Combat Turn (that’s right- 14 combatants, 14 attacks & two hits).

Hotlips shoots an Urd down, then once again slinks back in to the shadows.

More Urds swoop in to the chamber, more rocks rain down (Encounter = 6 Urds & 6 Kobolds) and Sgt Bobby is the target of most of the missiles, he’s hit repeatedly and suffering (down to 6 hit points).

One of the Urds is spectacularly off target- it smashes the skull of one of its earthbound brothers.

Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) takes out another Urd with a pair of Scorching Rays, another is slashed by Sgt Bobby when it swoops down to stab at the Fighter, but only wounded.

Watt’s (Human Bard) Thunderwave is less thunder, more rumble (he rolls snake-eyes for damage 1 + 1, and all but one of the Kobolds make their save). To highlight his failure an Urd swoops down and stabs the Bard in the back.

That was Watt’s last spell.

Hotlips suddenly appears, shoots the offending Urd out of the air, and then disappears back in to the shadows.

Yet another Urd swoops down and stabs Watt- the Bard is now heavily wounded, and a second later he’s cut again by a Kobold (and down to 5 hit points).

Meantime Sgt Bobby is likewise stabbed by an Urd, the Sgt stumbles, sags and then falls- he’s out cold.

Lux (Human Warlock) Eldritch Blasts an Urd dead- it’s the first time she has hit in five rounds of combat.

Lummins gets to Sgt Bobby with a Cure Wounds, and now he too is out of spells.

Sgt Bobby staggers back to his feet and cuts down a Kobold- there’s only two of the little buggers left and one more pesky Urd.

One of the Kobold stabs Watt (with a Crit), and now the Bard is down and dying, his first Death Save is a ‘1’, and he’s at death’s door- one more failure and he’s done for.

Hotlips shoots and kills the last Urd, and then rushes over and feeds Watt a Potion of Healing (with a little help from an Inspiration Point).

The last two Kobolds are in retreat, Sgt Bobby is still menacing them- he gets stabbed again when he gets too close (he’s down to 2 hit points).

Lummins hits a Kobold with his Sacred Flame- dead, the last Kobold left attempts to flee but Sgt Bobby cuts it down.

The fight is over- none of the PCs have any spells left, or any other helpful powers for that matter- between them just a few (maybe three) Potions of Healing, which are distributed to the very badly wounded. The order to retreat doesn’t need to be given, Cyanwrath (after being tied up- and punched in the face once or twice by Sgt Bobby) is dragged back to the entrance cave.

The Players are really not sure what to do for the best, after using up the Potions they’re all on or around half hit points, except for Lux who has not taken a single hit yet- yep, you read that right, she’s always in the rear with the gear.

The Players don’t want to retreat out of the cave because that would mean giving whoever’s still within the Nursery (Frulam Mondath for one) the opportunity to get out, although there could be another exit.

By the same token the guys have no idea what other enemies are within the cavern complex.

They’re certain (looking at the DMs face) they’re not going to get the hour they need to take a Short Rest.

Hotlips is sent to scout, oh bugger, the Halfling spots Mondath and her friends coming, more Kobolds (including another Urd) and at least two Guard Drakes.

It’s decision time- fight or flight!

Or chat…

27 Frulam Break Out.jpg

Lux calls out, “Wait!”, and remarkably Mondath agrees to parley, figuring that she’s no martial expert- she has four Kobolds (including one Urd) and three (barely trained) Guard Drakes at her disposal, and that’s all she’s got. She has seen with her own eyes the Brothers take down Cyanwrath and three of his Berserkers, and a dozen other Kobolds. She figures it's time to talk.

And so, we go back and forth for a while (about twenty minutes or so around the table)- the essence of it is that Lux (with others chipping in) wants Mondath to surrender- nowhere to go, a chance to buy her life etc. Mondath however wants the Brothers to retreat, at which point she will lead her troops out, and then flee the area.

Which means, as Lux (Sandy) says- “there’s no other way out of the caves, they have to come through us”.

As I said, the chatter goes back and forth- some good rolls, some just average- for both parties, the Players however are winning the war of the words (they’re making more good rolls because there are more of them, and they’re Aiding Other repeatedly), and so (your kindly DM) states that it’s all down to one contested roll- any Social Skill Check.

Lux rolls for the Brothers, she rolls a ‘20’, and I roll for Mondath (who else would it be), I roll a ‘1’.

Mondath surrenders- and the PCs are amazed, that was a big-time bluff. Lux and her silver tongue, and her weighted dice (kidding, don’t hurt me Sandy).

The Kobolds and Drakes, after a long chat with the former about what lies ahead within the cavern (answer, not much- but the PCs are still reluctant to believe them), are let go- Mondath however is hogtied and bagged, she’s captured.

The Brothers want to interrogate their prisoners, but they also want to (need to) take a Short Rest. They retire to the Guard’s chamber, clear away the bodies and then set watchers- they just need an hour.

And an hour is what they get- Hit Dice are spent, and Watt strikes up his Song of Rest, at the end of which only the Bard is still injured.

After the rest Lummins, Lux & Watt take it in turns to interrogate Cyanwrath, and then Mondath, while Hotlips and Sgt Bobby stand guard.

Watt & Lux are a nightmare when they’re working in conjunction, and their dice are hot- the trio make six Skill Checks over the course of the next quarter of an hour, five of them (adjusted) are 18+, and so the results in-

Cyanwrath gives up bits of info about what else lies within the caves, he also let’s slip that “the treasure is heading north”- when pressed he clams up, or else the Half-Dragon has reached the end of his knowledge.

Mondath tells all, she sings like a canary- and by the end of the conversation is full-on terrified of Lux- “there was lots of treasure- a vast horde fit for the Dragon Queen of Destruction. It’s all heading north- Rezmir is in charge of arranging a caravan”. She doesn’t know the final destination of the horde- “…only north. They’ll be setting off from Baldur’s Gate in about a month from now.”

Meanwhile, while the chatty PCs have been having fun, back out in the main passage a quartet of Kobolds, swinging buckets (filled with their favourite mushrooms) and yapping happy tunes (the PCs cleared the bodies away earlier so there’s nothing to see) come strolling along, oblivious.

28 Kobold Patrol.jpg

Hotlips panics (a little) and shoots the first Kobold dead.

Then after figuring what she has done, and seeing how far her colleagues are away from her, she starts shouting very loudly.

Sgt Bobby has to spend his Action Surge in a headlong charge to get to the action, he arrives just in time to cut another Kobold down.

The two surprised Kobolds left standing have different (but the same) ideas at the same time- one runs further in to the cave- screaming, the other runs out of the cave- also screaming.

Hotlips races after the first and after a short chase manages to sink a crossbow bolt in to the fleeing varmint, remarkably Sgt Bobby repeats the feat- only with a dagger at long range. Both dead.

Hurrah! Followed by a stern telling off for Hotlips- let whatever it is that’s passing- pass, only tell us what it was that went past, and above all- Stay Hidden! Phew, that was close.

The PCs are terrified that there are more bad guys close by, even after interrogating the other bad guys- they have trust issues (the Players, that is).

In truth there are only four more active-ish members of the Cult left within the Nursery- four Kobolds to be exact, there are a few more ‘neutral’ monsters still within the caves, but in reality, the place is pretty-much empty.

Only the Players don’t know this, they still think the place is fraught with danger.

The PCs spend another hour or more doing more clearing up- moving bodies around (hiding them), and then cleaning up, and perfecting their best Cult Guard/Initiate look. They, of course, also place sentries- and draw up a watch rota- who doesn’t like a spreadsheet.

As I say they’re scared, although unwilling to give up their position, they’re going to attempt an Extended Rest, they’re still after all out of spells et al.

As stated earlier, there’s nothing much left in the caverns, and there’s just no point in having another Kobold patrol come calling. The PCs get their much-needed Extended Rest.

Cyanwrath & Mondath are tied up (some more), gagged, double-bagged etc. and with a little help from Hotlips’ picks they’re locked in the former treasure room.

Time to explore the bits of the cavern the Brothers have previously been and seen, to search for treasure and more clues- the PCs find some nice scabbards (all Dragon themed) which become useful additions to their disguises. In Frulam Mondath’s chamber they discover her notes- which confirm what they already know, also a set of Wearer of Purple regalia (which Lux, naturally, takes a fancy too) and a key.

Then on in to the Dragon Shrine in which they fought Cyanwrath and his Berserkers- the Brothers have a good long look at the central Dragon carving- “Tiamat will be re-born from a volcano”, is the final summary of the action depicted.

Which is obviously remarkably accurate, but also fairly obvious.

Hotlips meantime finds a fancy chest, and she has a key, it fits and within is (lots of) treasure.

Still no new enemies encountered so far, Phew!

The Brothers head up into what they know is the Dragon Hatchery.

In which four bored Kobolds have been waiting for them, they’ve seen the bodies Cyanwrath's Berserkers, and have been hiding in the Hatchery keeping their fingers-crossed and hoping that the PCs would just go away.

Alas, it’s not to be.

Hotlips sneaks in to the chamber, to the south a shadowy depression with a set of rickety barred stairs leading down in to the lower area. A natural cavern below, with stalactites and stalagmites. The Halfling Rogue thinks she can see a Guard Drake down there. The place is safe Hotlips tells her colleagues- come on in.

29 Dragon Hatchery.jpg

Thirty seconds later, with the Brothers all peering down in to the depression, the Kobolds unleash their missile attacks- Watt & Sgt Bobby are both caught in the double blast of Fire Bombs, then the Sgt is hit by a Glue Bomb and Restrained.

There is much cursing, most of it directed at Hotlips.

Sgt Bobby breaks free, and in a screaming (all very naughty words) charge (Action Surge as usual) he flings himself in to the midst of the Kobolds and cuts one dead.

Lummins canters up to the second depression, in which the three remaining Kobolds cower, and sprays the trio with his Burning Hands- all dead.

One of the Guard Drakes in the original depression rushes out in to the open and starts growling and roaring…

Watt shoots it.

It yelps and flees.

At which point four lash-like tentacles whip out from what was previously an inanimate stalagmite and fail to lasso anyone… my dice hate me (that was four attacks with Advantage- four misses, honestly- what can you do).

The formerly inanimate stalagmite now looks like a terrifying snarling rock monster.

There’s a WTF moment, and then Pete & Rob explain (briefly) what a Roper is, and why running away is probably the best option.

And so, having explained to Sandy and Jackie how nasty a Roper is the Players, of course, attempt to fight it.

Lux however has got an idea, “fire and retreat to the back wall”, she calls out- she figures (correctly) that because of the slope the Roper cannot see the PCs if they retreat, and so the PCs fling spells and missiles, and then scarper back- they all have better Initiative than the Roper (on ‘6’).

Sgt Bobby and Lux miss the target (the later with a Ray of Sickness- she’s still not hit with anything other than an Eldritch Blast). Lummins fires off his Radiance of the Dawn- the snarling Roper is not at all happy, the already injured Guard Drake is also caught in the radiant burst of holy light. Watt’s Shatter spell leaves both Guard Drakes bloodied, while the Roper is also caught in the blast. Last up- Hotlips shoots a crossbow bolt in to the Elemental (and then rolls max damage- 11), the Halfling Rogue scurries back in to hiding.

The Roper is enraged- oh dear, it’s coming, the Brothers can’t see the Elemental brute but they can hear it (very slowly) climbing out of the depression.

I double move the stony-bastard, who has so far lost 27 hit points, almost to the top of the slope- it’s just coming in to view.

Fight or flight? For the second time of asking.

The Players are still not backing down.

Sgt Bobby races forward and attacks- no chance, his blade clangs off the Roper, Lux’s Eldritch Blast misses the target, Lummins starts up his Bless spell and then conjures his Spiritual Weapon (and another miss).

Watt rushes forward and unleashes a Thunderwave, the Roper scrabbles at the dirt but is pushed back down the slope, the damage to the Elemental is minimal, but it will have to climb part the way up again.

It does so- with ease, and then unleashes its whip like lassoing tendril attacks- and I miss three out of four attacks, but not the last one- Watt is snared (Grappled & Restrained), and then Reeled in to the Roper’s maw and ripped almost to shreds.

Watt stops screaming and starts dying- a Crit from the Roper for 37 damage and the Bard is unconscious.

The Roper roars, “Kneel before mighty King Urp and beg his forgiveness, or I will feast upon this puny morsel!”

Lux is quick to order her colleagues to obey, although the other PCs were already halfway down to their knees.

Lummins, clever fellow- without being seen casting, fires a Healing Word in to Watt and saves the Bard, at least for a little while longer.

And so, the inevitable chat, although it’s a one-sided affair- King Urp has demands, there’s no negotiation.

Urp wants food- at least ten jelly-meat sacks (he means corpses), and he wants treasure- coins by preference, a fine levied for having the audacity to try attacking him- although gemstones taste nice too. King Urp is keeping hold of Watt until the guys return with a feast of flesh and treasure fit for an Elemental King.

And so… the four remaining Brothers head back to where they stashed the bodies of the dead Cultists, ferry them back to the pit and throw them in. Next up they hand over all the treasures they gathered from Frulam Mondath’s locked chest- in total 1800gp of stuff.

While they’re completing the above operation, they’re also taking the time to get a good look down in to the Roper’s pit, they’re fairly certain there are at least two dragon eggs down there.

And so, after 5-10 minutes of fawning before King Urp, Lux starts bargaining, “would it please mighty King Urp to sell the Dragon eggs below?”

Urp has further demands, although in truth they’re very (very) similar to his previous demands- he wants more coins and gemstones, and more jelly-meat sacks- and if the PCs want to come down in to his lair then they’ll need to find him a new place to live, with better access to jelly-meat sacks and treasure.

After a brief chat the Players go for the deal, heading off briefly- with Watt having been released (and healed some more), they pool their resources off screen (although not all of them contribute everything to the pot). Then return ten minutes later with the new collective treasure- more gold and silver and a few gems and jewels alike- it’s enough, although no amount of bargaining can relax King Urp’s other demands- more jelly-meat sacks, and a new lair.

Sgt Bobby is all for attempting to destroy the eggs from up on the ledge, but his colleagues are dead against it for two reasons- a) Urp will attack again and probably kill and then eat them all, and b) there could be more eggs down there that they cannot see from here.

In truth a) is reason enough, Sgt Bobby (Pete) is very brave, some would say foolhardy.

That however is the end of the session, more next time- I know I’ve said it before but it was glorious, I’m loving the Nursery action.
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We D&D.

Session #24a Hoard of the Dragon Queen #10a House Hunting for King Urp.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 3
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 3
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 3
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 3
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 3

Note, this is session #24 of our game but only session #10 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

Actually this is #10a, there was a lot got done in this session, and via e-mail before and after.

The Brothers et al have found the Dragon eggs in the Nursery, they were in the Dragon Hatchery- go figure. Alas the eggs are being guarded (sorta) by a Roper, King Urp- Urp is terrifying, they’ve looked up the 5e Roper between sessions (the bastards), even Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) is now against attempting to fight the tough bugger.

In order to appease King Urp the PCs have to provide the Roper with more jelly-meat sacks (corpses will do), and a new lair. So, easy…

The PCs take a short rest to chat and figure out what comes next, their best idea is to go on and see what else they can find further in to the Nursery, remember for some reason they still think there are more bad guys (specifically Cultists) in the cavern complex. There isn’t but… shhhh!

And so, the Brothers follow the northern passage- from which the Kobolds emerged much earlier, and in to a rough (Kobold?) barracks- there’s a little treasure here (mostly piles of copper coins), nothing significant. Then a set of stairs up, which are trapped- Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) discovers this the hard way. Luckily as she’s sneaking ahead she’s the only one caught in the trap and manages to dodge most of the hurt. The stairs emerge in to another Nursery-style chamber, complete with lower section reachable by barred stairs- it looks to be empty.

However, Hotlips spots activity elsewhere- to the south east (active Perception roll- ‘20’), there are some hefty-looking humanoids moving about, she sneaks back to get her friends.

30 Trogs.jpg

A minute or so later and hugging the southern wall of the chamber the PCs are watching a group of Troglodytes (identified by Watt (Human Bard)) who are ferrying about a bunch of jelly-meat sacks, actually animal carcases supplied by the camp Hunters and stored in the Meat Locker- food for the Drakes et al. The Trogs are slinging the butchered animals down in to another depression to the north.

Problem solved!

The Brothers attempt to kill the Trogs.

However, before they do that Hotlips spots a furrow dug in to the cavern floor, and then covered over. The Halfling Rogue is not sure why- a trip hazard? Maybe. She makes her colleagues aware, the trap (such as it is) can just be stepped over- she thinks.

Then the attack- swift and brutal.

Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) hits the nearest Trog with a Sacred Flame, Hotlips fires a crossbow bolt in to its chest (after a Lucky ‘1’ reroll) it dies.

Lux (Human Warlock) hits the next Trog with her patented Eldritch Blast, Watt finishes it off with an arrow to the abdomen- two down.

Sgt Bobby leaps (actually steps over) the trap and charges in to the third Trog- just coming up the stairs ahead, he slashes it- Lummins hits it with another Sacred Flame- remarkably it lives, Sgt Bobby is clawed but Lux fires another Eldritch Blast in to the beast, and now it’s dead.

The last Trog emerges from the lower chamber, charging up the stairs straight at Sgt Bobby, it stops short of its target, briefly registers surprise, and then drops dead- with another of Hotlips’ crossbow bolts embedded in its gut.

The fight is over… although.

Suddenly the cavern chamber before the PCs is a swirling mass of Bats, disturbed by the fighting, several of the adventurers are engulfed by the blinding Bat Swarm, an inconvenience until the PCs realise that in the midst of the Bats are a bunch of Stirges (10 of them).

31 Stirges & Bats.jpg

Two of the blood-suckers get their proboscis stuck in to Lummins, before the Priest even realises what’s going on, he feels wobbly (down to 6 HP after blood-loss). Hotlips suffers also. Lummins pulls out the big gun- Radiance of the Dawn, a sudden burst of blinding holy light- all but one of the Stirges are killed in an instant, the Bat Swarm is likewise decimated. The few winged creatures left alive flee the scene.

The Brothers nose around the area (after Watt heals Lummins a bit) and head down the stairs in to the Meat Locker containing animal carcases brought in by the Camp Hunters. Hotlips briefly gets snagged on the trapped curtain at the entrance but manages to avoid the Poison. There are lots of jelly-meat sacks here, King Urp is going to be very happy- the Trogs also dropped lots more meat- some of it ripe, it smells bad. The depression to the north seems to be full of junk and filth- including yet more animal carcases thrown down there by the Trogs.

Lux summarises, “three potential lairs (the Drake Nursery, the filthy depression, and the Meat Locker) and lots of jelly-meat sacks, let’s get back to Urp.”

The PCs can see the cavern north leads back to the main entrance to the Nursery, they’ve not been this way- and so… through a natural fungi filled cavern, the group split in two to pass through- there are two different pathways through the vegetation.

32 Violet Fungi.jpg

Hotlips and Lummins take the wrong trail, there are five Violet Fungi hidden here. The pair are ambushed by the Fungi who set too flailing their necrotic limbs, it’s a mess- Lummins takes a beating (again) down to 1 HP (after a Crit) the Violet Fungi are each making multiple attacks. The PCs are soon in panic mode- Hotlips fares slightly better but is still hurting (and down to 7 HP).

Sgt Bobby wades in slashing furiously, and with an Action Surge takes down the first Fungi he gets to. Hotlips meanwhile gets the hell out of dodge- she Disengages, scuttles away and then shoots another of the Fungi dead with a Crit hit from her crossbow.

Lummins is less fortunate, the Priest falls, succumbing to yet more necrotic tentapod hits. Lux spams the Eldritch Blast (with an Inspiration Point) which takes down another of the Violet Fungi.

There are two Fungi left- chasing, very slowly, the Halfling Rogue Hotlips. Watt panics (a little- the PCs somehow think these guys are tough, it’s the 4 attacks/round thing that has got them flustered) and lets loose a Shatter spell, and then rolls 7 Thunder damage, both Fungi save and go staggering on after Hotlips.

Note- Watt is almost out of spells again; he tends to get through them remarkably quickly.

Lummins, forgotten about, fails his first Death Save. Sgt Bobby cuts down the second to last Violet Fungi, while Hotlips shoots the last one and then runs off to Hide. Lux hits it with another Eldritch Blast- and still the plant monster staggers on. Watt remembers about Lummins and gets to him with a Cure Wounds. The Priest of Lathander drags himself back to his feet, grabs out a spear and flings it at the last Violet Fungi- killing it, at last.

The guys were scared… and panicked, it takes a little while for them to calm down- they’re also argumentative- fractious, trying to find someone to blame. To make matters worse Hotlips fails to find the trap on the stairs ahead and ends up on her backside when the lower steps collapse- there’s lots of huffing and puffing. They’re not in a good mood- particularly as several of the PCs have taken a beating, are out of spells and powers, and really need another rest.

The PCs head back to the guard room they cleared out earlier, check on Frulam Mondath and Cyanwrath and set watchers, then get in another Short Rest (at the end of which Lummins is still wounded). The PCs are buoyed and a little amazed that they seem to have been everywhere in the Nursery, they were expecting to find more bad guys.

Eventually they go get King Urp, the Roper, it takes an age- nearly an hour for the Elemental monster to get from his present lair to the location of the three new potential lairs. Lux and Watt go all estate agent (realtor) and describe in glowing terms the selling points of each new lair. In short- 1) the Drake Nursey looks just like King Urp’s former home sweet home, 2) the other depression (Troglodyte Incursion) has a double ledge thing going on, and is full of ‘quality’ filth- add the possibility of passing snacks (more Troglodytes), or possibly future followers for King Urp (still Troglodytes), and finally 3) the Meat Locker is snack-tastic, with jelly meat sacks just lined up waiting for him.

King Urp is delighted, he even tears up a little- ‘you’ve all been so nice, so very, very… nice! And to think I was going to eat you!’ King Urp sees the bigger picture, he’ll take all three lairs, and alternate between them… the deal is done, the PCs are free to investigate his old lair, and claim the Dragon eggs there.

The PCs check in again on Mondath & Cyanwrath- Cyanwrath is still out cold while Mondath is coming around- they re-check her bindings and then punch her out again (thanks Sgt Bobby)- and one more for Cyanwrath, for good luck.

33 Wounded Guard Drakes.jpg

Back to the Dragon Hatchery, King Urp’s former lair- there are two wounded Guard Drakes scampering about down in the cavern. Lummins fires up a Light spell or two and then the PCs attempt to kill the Drakes from the safety of the ledge. The first Drake strays in to the open and is taken down quickly with an Eldritch Blast, crossbow bolt (Hotlips) & Sacred Flame. Alas the second Drake plays hide and seek with the PCs, it takes forever to put the beast down but the PCs are not taking any risks, or expending any more resources than they have to. Also at this point the Pizza et al turned up and folks were content to go around the table rolling repeated ranged attacks with all manner of negatives/disadvantage- as long as they can keep filling their face.

Eventually they kill the second Drake and head down in to the Hatchery, they locate two- and then three eggs.

There follows a short debate- Lux proposes they keep one of the (Black) Dragon eggs, perhaps they could sell it, or use it to trade- the other PCs are not at all keen. It seems Sandy (playing Lux) has gone the other way, towards the dark side. Eventually all three eggs are smashed open- inside the half-formed remains of baby Black Dragons.


And that’s the Nursery is done, fully investigated- the PCs go for another stroll through the lair just to make sure that they’ve not missed anything, they haven’t, then ship out, with their three prisoners (a Dragonclaw, Frulam Mondath & Cyanwrath) back to Greenest.

They’re all Level 4 now. We break for Level Up time- the PCs get to advance their stats, always an exciting time (apparently).

We continue after the Level Up break in the second part of this session- it was another long one.

The Players loved the Nursery, and in particular how tough it was, and how on edge they were throughout their stay.
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We D&D.

Session #24b Hoard of the Dragon Queen #10b Beer & Bar Games.

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

Note, this is session #24 of our game but only session #10 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario, actually this is the second part of session #10- another extended one.

And so after their exertions in the Nursery it’s back to Greenest, and rest and recovery- two days off to get healed and top up (a little) on equipment- particularly a few more Healing Potions. The adventurers are the toast of the town, and celebrated in the inns and taverns, in a short ceremony they are all made honorary citizens of Greenest (at least the PCs that are not already citizens of Greenest), and then awarded a few ribbons and named ‘Defenders of Greenest’.

In truth however we get through this bit rather quickly, the PCs have an appointment in Elturel with Leosin Erlanthar, the city is 200 miles away- seven days by horse. It’s a good job then that Leosin has seen fit to leave the PCs money to buy horses and equipment, and so next up we have the naming of the mounts-

Why do we have to name the mounts every time, in truth I have no idea, I only know that Sandy and Jackie insist, therefore it comes to pass.

Derek Pilch (Human Druid) is riding his own ancient, cantankerous and very feeble looking Pony called Moss.

Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk) buys a Riding Horse and names it Horse, he’s an uncomplicated fellow.

Hotlips Houlihan (Halfling Rogue), for reasons lost to time, buys a young male Pony which she equips with a straw hat, she calls him Lay-Zee Boi.

Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) buys a Riding Horse and names him Lightstrider, or else Lightrider, he’s not sure which as of yet.

Lux (Human Warlock) buys a beautiful top-condition (she pays extra) Riding Horse and calls him Quickfoot.

Sgt Bobby Markguth (Human Fighter) invests some of his own money (actually a lot of his own money) and purchases a fine Warhorse which he names Rocky.

Sgt Harald Hardaxe (Dwarf Fighter) has his own massively obese Pony, called Fat Nelson.

Watt (Human Bard) buys a Riding Horse and calls it Sparky.

And thus, concludes the naming of the mounts, let’s move on…

To Elturel- 200 miles in nine days, the PCs are slowed somewhat by the fact that they are escorting a covered wagon containing their prisoners (a Dragonclaw, Frulam Mondath & Cyanwrath). The group is also accompanied by half-a-dozen hired guards and a pair of waggoneers. There are no encounters, it’s an easy ride- I wanted to get to the next bit.

Oh and that’s right, all eight adventurers are taking the trip, however the rule is if anything happens (like an encounter) then the Players can have five PCs in play at any one time, the other three PCs are fighting their own enemies off-screen, or else doing their own thing.

City Elturel.png

Elturel, capital of Elturgard on the Chionthar River- a bustling city (certainly in comparison to the town of Greenest), the most obvious sight the Gift of Amaunator. This is a pilgrimage for the Brothers, worshippers of Lathander. I do a short spiel (mostly lifted from the interweb) about how Amaunator (thought to be a deceased deity) revealed himself to be Lathander after the Spellplague.

We’re not going to go deep with this however, the PCs want to get on, and so…

To the tavern A Pair of Black Antlers, there the Brothers et al meet with Leosin Erlanthur (and get paid) and tell their story about events at Camp Dragonclaw, including the fact that Rezmir (Half-Black Dragon) is on his way to Baldur’s Gate to get a caravan together to transport the looted treasures north. The adventurers also hand over their prisoners to Leosin, who it seems is not short of friends of his own, the Monk is delighted with the PCs and offers to pay for their food and board for as long as they are in Elturel.

However, Leosin is also very keen that they meet a friend of his- Ontharr Frume, a Dwarf Paladin of Torm who is also interested in the activities of the Dragon Cultists.

34 A Pair of Black Antlers.jpg

Ontharr Frume is not what the PCs expected, or else he looks exactly like they expected- a big, fat (big-boned), massively muscled and loud Dwarf. Frume however is also a party animal, the evening is entirely taken up with drinks and games, there’s no mention of the Dragon Cultists. It’s all very jolly, Frume insists the evening start with a pint of Dwarven Best Bitter (and accompanied by DC 8 Con check) and is followed by another pint before each of the following challenges. We’re having an evening off from playing D&D- it’s just foolishness and dice rolling for the rest of this session (I had warned the Players ahead of time, they were all up for it).

And so, the first challenge takes place outside of the tavern, a test of the PCs horse-riding skills, a short (and fairly easy) obstacle course for them to steer their mounts around, set up in the yard of the Inn- most circuits completed wins, simple as.

Note out of the game the Players have to drink (a stubby- small bottle of beer) before each challenge, if they want to- and they do. They also have to contribute £1 (real cash money) in to the pot for each of their PCs taking part in this challenge (and for all of the other Challenges). This includes your friendly DM (although I will not be drinking)- I put £2 in the pot, £1 for Ontharr Frume and £1 for Leosin Erlanthar who both are taking part in the first challenge (and all of the others, probably).

So first challenge, which the PCs are cajoled in to getting involved with, the rules are simple one Animal Handling Check DC 10 for first circuit, the DC increasing by 1 for each additional circuit. The PC can attempt some other task (any Skill Check- a different one for each circuit) to get bonuses on their Animal Handling check (example Watt performed a dirty poem, Sgt Bobby at one point sang a song, Derek Pilch ate his dinner, Lux attempted a little trick riding etc.) Basically the guys can use one other Skill (which hopefully they have a good bonus in) to increase their chances of completing another circuit, as long as they can make the role-play work.

Several of the guys were keen to perform their tasks- Pete (Sgt Bobby) really did sing (‘Onward Lathander’s Soldiers!’ as it happens), an extra (at least) +1 was awarded if the guys acted/orated their parts- i.e. made fools of themselves a little.

But first up the pints of Dwarven Best Bitter have to be accounted for- Hard Bonk & Derek Pilch are both feeling the heat (-1 to all rolls) after the first pint, things go very badly for Lux (she rolls a ‘1’). The Warlock is tipsy already (-3 to all rolls).

And so on to the results of the Horse-Riding Obstacle Course (after Drinking Beer and while Making a Fool of Yourself) Challenge.

In last place comes Sgt Harald Hardaxe on his massively obese Pony Fat Nelson, the Dwarf falls off his mount before he gets to the end of the first circuit, not drunk- just a crap rider (or else low roller).

Hotlips, Watt and Lux both only manage a single circuit each, Hard Bonk finishes a second circuit, while Sgt Bobby Markguth goes one better with three. Such a shame, Pete (who plays both Sgts) had high hopes for his main man- Sgt Bobby riding Rocky his newly acquired Warhorse.

Ontharr Frume manages five circuits, Leosin completes one more- six, Go Me!

However, they all pale in comparison to Lummins- the Cleric of Lathander manages eleven circuits of the course- while reciting poetry, juggling balls, telling bawdy jokes and a variety of other activities. Surely he’s the winner.

But no, Derek Pilch, all the while whispering in the ear of his plodding Pony Moss completes twelve of the slowest circuits ever seen, and then retires- having also eaten his dinner in the saddle. As Derek states, “it’s not really about the winning” (which is the kind of thing you can get away with saying when you have won).

Note several of the Players used Inspiration Points to reroll their Skill Checks (and also wheedled and cajoled in an attempt to attract extra bonuses, or penalties for others), I’m fairly certain they think it is all about the winning.

£10 hard cash available for prizes- Derek (played by Jackie) gets £5, Lummins (played by Rob) gets £2, and Leosin (your friendly DM) gets £1 back. The extra £2 goes in to the pot for the eventual winner of all events- 3 points for 1st, 2 points for 2nd and 1 point for 3rd- most points at the end picks up the pot (Pot = £2 atm).

There’s a lot of laughter to be had, and a fair amount of needle and this is only the first challenge.

Then they all drink again, back inside the tavern- Watt is now a little lightheaded, while Lux is starting to slur her words- even Ontharr Frume is a little tipsy. Sgt Bobby however is loving it (‘20’)- he sings a song (thanks Pete), it’s bad but there are lots of grins (and an extra +1 on all his Skill Checks in the next event), Ontharr approves massively.

Next up is Arm Wrestling- Lux and Hotlips decide to sit out the contest, mainly because Strength is their dump stat and they both have minuses on their Skill Checks- Lux is on -4 atm. Also it’s easier if there are only eight competitors.

Note for victory a competitor needs to win two contested Strength checks in a row, they can supplement their Strength checks by making a subsidiary Skill Check to apply bonuses (or even penalties to their opposition). They can use any Skill as long as they can make it work from a role-play POV, although a different Skill must be used each round- most often the PCs employed Skills to distract or attempt to put off their opponents. Watt distinguished himself by making up rhyming couplets, all of them uncomplimentary (actually, when I say ‘all of them’… see below).

The matches are drawn at random- which causes nearly as much excitement as the competition itself.

First up, Hard Bonk vs Leosin- the former apprentice takes on his master, and loses in a little over ten seconds (in two rounds).

Second match, Sgt Bobby vs Derek Pilch- heaven knows why Derek thought he would get involved (although he may have secretly been spell assisted), either way Sgt Bobby wins in style (in two rounds).

Third match, Sgt Harald vs Lummins- Lummins offers a modicum of resistance- mainly by insulting Sgt Harald but the result is never in doubt. Sgt Harald pins the Cleric of Lathander (in three rounds).

Last of the first round matches is Ontharr Frume vs Watt- oddly Watt looks to be winning when Frume turns it around and slams Watt’s arm down (in four rounds), having also semi-successfully burped his way through the opening lines of ‘He’ll Be Coming Through The Mountain When He Comes”, an ancient Dwarven ditty (your DM clearly has the skills to pay the bills, and please note I don’t even drink alcohol so the shame was all mine).

And so to the Semi-Finals, again drawn at random-

First semi is, Leosin vs Sgt Bobby- It’s a close call- back and forth, and the longest match to date (five rounds) but Sgt Bobby wins.

Second semi is, Sgt Harald vs Ontharr Frume- a titanic battle which goes on longer than all of the other bouts combined (nearly, fourteen rounds to be exact- including one in which both combatants rolled a ‘20’), Sgt Harald takes the victory in the end.

The 3rd Place Arm-Wrestle-Off.

Ontharr beats Leosin out of sight (in two rounds).

And so to the Final.

Sgt Bobby vs Sgt Harald, or Pete vs Pete- and the second longest bout as it goes back and forth with neither participant able to get two successes in a row, Sgt Bobby wins at the last (after ten rounds)- Hurrah!

And we distribute the prize money, £8 to share out, so that’s £4 to Sgt Bobby (Pete), £2 to Sgt Harald (still Pete) and £1 to Ontharr (me, the DM). The Pot for the overall winner now stands at £3.

Next- drink more beer.

After which Derek tells a few bawdy jokes, the Druid is drunk-ish. Lux (Sandy) attempts to chat up Lummins (Rob- they’re about to be married in real life). Hard Bonk the Half-Orc does a little dance… it had to be seen to be believed. Sgt Harald grins a lot but doesn’t say much- he’s a little glassy-eyed.

Next, we play Darts- three darts each, using ranged bonuses and simple as- lowest score each round drops out. All ten contestants are up for it, and everyone pays their £2 (£1 for each of their PCs), including yours truly.

Loser of the first round is Lummins, then Ontharr (he’s not happy, neither am I), then Lux, then Watt, then Hard Bonk, then Derek Pilch, then Sgt Bobby. Which just leaves three- Leosin, Sgt Harald & Hotlips.

And in third place is- Leosin, bit of a surprise there, very good bonuses and the Monk is built Dex heavy.

Second place is… Hotlips, which is obviously unexpected, the Rogue has the best Ranged bonus of all of the PCs and NPCs, and yet…

Sgt Harald Hardaxe wins the event, for the last maybe three rounds of the competition Harald’s lowest unadjusted roll is a ‘15’, I know this because I went back and checked my notes- I write everything down.

So, £5 for Sgt Harald (Pete), £2 for Hotlips (Sandy) and £1 for Leosin (me), and now there’s £5 in the Pot for the overall winner.

Then another little drink, after which Lux alas is unconscious, while Hard Bonk & Derek Pilch can barely stay on their feet.

The last competition is Anything-Goes Style Sparring in which the PCs can use their Dex to Grapple and Hold (which also inflicts subdual damage), or their fists et al with Strength checks to inflict the same.

As with all of the previous competitions contestants can use any of their other skills to get bonuses on their attacks, as long as they can weave whatever action they are doing in to the narrative. Examples of this include Hotlips throwing a pint of beer in Ontharr Frume’s face, Lummins attempting to deceive Sgt Bobby “Watch Out!”, and a variety of other tricks and deceptions.

Lux & Derek chose not take to part because the pair are just too drunk, which leaves us with eight participants- which is ideal, and so…

The combats take much longer than I expected to play out because the damage is low and because the PCs can decide for themselves when and if they ‘give up’, obviously when they hit 0 HP then they’ve lost. All damage is 1d6 plus bonuses (and mostly subdual) for either maintaining a hold, or else hitting opponents with fists/legs/head/chair etc.

The first bout is Sgt Harald vs Hard Bonk, and it goes on a while, particularly as Hard Bonk gets Sgt Harald in a headlock, and then after the sturdy Dwarf gets free he knocks him on his backside at least once. However, for all of Hard Bonk’s tricksiness the Dwarf never misses with his sly rabbit punches, and on one occasion his horrible (Crit) head butt. The Monk gives up the contest after five rounds, just prior to being knocked unconscious.

Ontharr Frume vs Hotlips, a bit of a mismatch, however as with the above fight the Halfling Rogue gets in a couple of decent (sneaky) strikes but again Ontharr rarely misses, Hotlips is slapped down in three rounds.

Sgt Bobby vs Lummins, another mismatch- Sgt Bobby takes a couple of early hits, but never misses and puts Lummins down in five rounds.

Watt vs Leosin turns out to be the toughest fight of the opening combats, it takes nine rounds for the Monk to convince the Bard to give up the bout, Leosin has taken a bit of a beating at the end of the fight, the surly DM just wouldn’t give up.

And so, to the semis, note the PCs can use their HD between bouts to Heal the subdual damage inflicted in previous fights, a couple of PCs also made use of Healing Potions (imagine), and one early loser (Lummins) also made a little money on the side selling Cure Wounds spells.

They’re taking this nonsense very seriously.

Sgt Harald vs Leosin, and the Monk decides to try to pile on the hits rather than go for the grapple, the tactic seems to be working, however- as with the previous fight in every exchange Harald gives as good as he gets. Even when Leosin manages to Crit the Dwarf twice in a row (in the same round) Sgt Harald just soaks up the hurt. In the last round of the fight with Harald on 4 HP, and Leosin on 8 HP (only subdual damage remember), the Monk misses both of his attacks and the Dwarf Action Surges and takes Leosin down. Seven rounds of frenetic slugfest.

Ontharr vs Sgt Bobby, the pair dance around each other for a while, then it turns in to a stand-up boxing match (while screaming insults at each other, and then laughing about it). Sgt Bobby is very good but no match for Ontharr (the DM), the Paladin of Torm takes the Greenest Guard Sgt down (yeah, that’s right Pete).

A while later we play out the third-place contest, after the two Sgt’s have begged, borrowed and cajoled their colleagues (and passers-by) in to providing any form of healing (or Buff) they can get hold of-

Leosin vs Sgt Bobby, another drawn out affair with the Monk grappling and holding, but again Sgt Bobby has the stamina, Leosin surrenders when he’s below 10 HP, Pete is approaching Rapture.

The Final.

Sgt Harald vs Ontharr- another war of attrition which is over however remarkably quickly when Ontharr Crits twice and Sgt Harald misses repeatedly. The Paladin of Torm takes down his brother Dwarf in just four rounds.

And Pete sulks for maybe half-an-hour (and via e-mail for the rest of the week).

So, another £8 to distribute- £4 for Ontharr Frume (to the DM- that’s me), £2 for Sgt Harald (Pete again), and £1 for Sgt Bobby (more Pete).

And the overall winner- Sgt Harald Hardaxe who claims the extra £6 in the Pot, the craggy fat Dwarf managed two second places and a win, 2nd overall is Ontharr with a win and two third places, 3rd Sgt Bobby with a win and a third place.

Not even Sgt Harald’s overall win can chip the frown from Pete’s brow, Sgt Bobby was/is his ‘golden boy’, he was supposed to win the fighting and then take the overall title. Pete had done the maths ahead of time…

I tried to give the less physical players a way in, allowing them to use their other skills to con or divert, or else enhance their chances in some way- and several of the players were happy to use a variety of spells along the way. Derek Pilch with his Speak with Animals as he guided his Pony Moss around the obstacle course, the Druid also employed Enhance Ability to attempt to get stronger for the Arm Wrestling. Lummins was Bless-enabled when it counted, and Watt tried a few spell-related schemes to increase his chances.

That however was the end of the session, just short of three hours of random dice rolling (and drinking), much fun was had by all (except Pete, apparently). Also, the guys very much approve of Ontharr Frume, time to hear what he has to say to them next session, and back to the adventure.

Loved it.
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We D&D.

Session #25 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #11 Mostly Admin Week.

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 #25 of our game but only session #11 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

The morning after the bar games, the PCs wake with sore heads in the ‘A Pair of Black Antlers’ Inn, in the city of Elturel- their host Leosin Erlanthar, Hard Bonk’s (Half-Orc Monk) former master, introduces them once again to Ontharr Frume, the Dwarven Paladin of Torm.

After yesterday’s fun and games, it gets down to serious very quickly, at breakfast in a private room- when the servants have left, Ontharr and Leosin outline their strategy. They want to employ the PCs to go to Baldur’s Gate, find the Cultist wagons (full of loot) and follow them- if that means signing up for a trade caravan heading somewhere north (very likely) then that too. They don’t want the Cultist wagons interfered with, they want them followed- they need to know where they are going with the loot, and for what purpose?

The PCs contend that the hoard is being gathered in order to placate Tiamat, or… and that’s where their story falls apart. How is Tiamat going to get her loot? Is she coming here? That would be very bad. Very bad indeed- Ontharr, Leosin and the DM emphasise, to grins.

Are the Brothers et al up for it? You bet they are.

And so, Episode 4: On The Road.

Ontharr dishes out money for the trip (expenses- 50gp each), and explains details of the ship that will take them to Baldur’s Gate, and passes on a few other items- places to stay in Baldur’s Gate, and best of all a contact- Ackyn Seleborn. Ackyn will help the PCs to locate the Cultist wagons, and to get hired as Guards (if they want to) on any caravan that the Cultist’s join.

The PCs and Players have questions, like-

1) Wont we be recognised? Good question, Ontharr & Leosin suggest that all of the PCs purchase new equipment (he’ll pay, but don’t go crazy), get their hair cut or dyed, or… well, do something to make themselves look different. The PCs are okay with this.

2) But what if we are recognised? Answer- stop whoever it is that has recognised you from telling others, any way that you can- although don’t get caught doing so, the object of this mission is to follow- not to slaughter. This last point is emphasised.

3) How do we communicate with you? Answer- Ontharr & Leosin are both members of (different) factions, both of these factions have contacts in the various towns and cities of the Savage Coast- just ask around. The pair say a little more about their respective factions (Order of the Gauntlet & the Harpers respectively), and then make their sales pitches- do any of the PCs want to join? Answers further below.

The PCs, or rather Lux (Human Warlock), has one more minor (but important) concern-

4) What are you paying us? Lux (or rather Sandy) has turned in to a mercenary bugger. Leosin pulls out a beautifully cut ruby, easily worth over a 1,000gp. The PCs can claim this when they find out where the loot is going, and what it is being used for? The PCs agree.

Next up the PCs are given the full spiel, why they should join either the Order of the Gauntlet (speech by Ontharr) or the Harpers (speech by Leosin). At the end of it all the PCs are now members of the following factions, note some of these decisions are made there and then around the game-table, others are made later via e-mail-

Sgt Bobby Markguth (Human Fighter)- Order of the Gauntlet.

Derek Pilch (Human Druid)- None (secretly a member of the Emerald Enclave, none of the other PCs/Players know this).

Sgt Harald Hardaxe (Dwarf Fighter)- Order of the Gauntlet.

Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk)- Harper.

Hotlips Houlihan (Halfling Rogue)- Harper.

Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric)- Harper.

Lux- Harper (secretly also a member of the Zhent, none of the other PCs/Players know this).

Watt (Human Bard)- Harper.

And so the same day the PCs head out in to the city out to attempt to change their appearance, also note that because this module is somewhat lacking in Magic Items for the PCs to find then Ontharr and Leosin also agree to supply them with a Magic Item each, providing the PCs have the XP to pay for it (see much earlier about using XP to pay for stuff). And so…

Sgt Bobby Markguth- is gifted a Longsword +1, and wields it with glee, the good Sgt also dyes his hair black and starts growing his beard, he also buys some second hand, worn (and rough) clothes- he’s going for the scruffy mercenary-look.

Hard Bonk- gains a Ring of Protection +1, and then shaves his head and facial hair off, he also opts for the mercenary look. He exchanges his usual scruffy clothes for some different, slightly scruffier, clothes.

Lummins- gets a suit of Half-Plate +1, he also shaves his head and beard off and buys new (old) clothes to make him look more like a mercenary or hired guard, somewhat less tidy than his usual immaculate look.

Lux- gets given a Wand of the War Mage +1, and then dyes her hair jet black and gets it cut shorter- she now looks a bit like Frulam Mondath (remember she’s also carrying Mondath’s Wearer of Purple style apparel). It should also be noted that Lux has the Actor Feat, and the Mask of Many Faces Eldritch Invocation which allows her to cast Disguise Self, At Will. She’s primed.

Watt- gains a Longbow +1, and then shaves the hair from his head and face- as per Lummins, he also buys some scruffier mercenary style clothes.

Note for the most part no (or else very few) Cultist’s left alive have seen any of the guys below, so their disguise is much less important-

Derek Pilch- No magic item- Derek doesn’t have the XP needed to spend on a Magic Item, and he doesn’t make any changes to his appearance because he has only been used in play once, and that was inside Greenest Keep, the Cult members have never seen him before.

Sgt Harald Hardaxe- is given a suit of Plate +1, he is reluctant to change his appearance, stuck in his ways, he attempts to scruffy himself up a bit, but not too much. Several of his colleagues suggest that the stiff as a brush fat Dwarf should go for brightly coloured baggy hareem pants and curly gold slippers et al. Harald is not happy with change, or indeed with his colleague’s suggestions. In the end he settles for combing his hair slightly differently, arguing that all of the Cultists that have seen him are dead now, and that he has worn the same thing for the last half-a-century (at least) and that he’s not changing now.

Hotlips Houlihan- gains a Rapier +1- and thereafter grins like a fool, she has her hair cut and dyed red, she looks trendy rather than scruffy. She also buys herself some fancy clothes, mainly because she has never had any fancy clothes before.

And so…

Three days later the PCs arrive in Baldur’s Gate, on their first day in the big city they find stabling for their horses, and locate Ackyn Seleborn, as it turns out the fellow owns an equipment business that specialises in outfitting trade caravans and the like, which is very convenient.

It is however another five days until the Cultists are spotted in Baldur’s Gate, in the meantime Lux (Zhent) and Derek (Emerald Enclave) also secretly make contact with their respective factions- (done via e-mail after this session). It seems both the Zhent and the Emerald Enclave are very keen, now that they have been informed of events, that the Cultists are followed, and more information gathered.

Eventually the PCs spot a palanquin being guarded by a bunch of guys they’re fairly certain they recognise from Camp Dragonclaw- they follow the rag-tag bunch through the city, or rather Watt & Hotlips do, Invisibly. The Cultists hire an empty warehouse for their portered goods, and the next day, conveniently, hire wagons from Ackyn Seleborn- and from there sign up for a caravan that is leaving Baldur’s Gate bound for Waterdeep the day after.

Watt & Hotlips decide to check out the Cult warehouse (again Invisibly) during the night- the pair spot the Cult guards just in time, the place is locked up tight and all entrances seemingly barred from within. The pair however manage to find a way in via a loose section of boarding, they enter and have a nose around- find the goods that are being transported and investigate. Watt messes up big style and drops a box full of gold and silver items (‘1’)- the warehouse comes alive, within thirty seconds there are a dozen Cult Guards searching for intruders, and the Half-Black Dragon, Rezmir, barking orders. The Cultists run around like headless chickens, Rezmir is making threats- “If we find you…” Hotlips’ performance throughout is faultless- the sneaky Halfling is not detected at any point. Watt (who is also doing his best impression of a headless chicken) gets lost a little in the warehouse (in the dark) but eventually manages to make it back to the loose plank, and then get out just in time. Seconds later the Cult find the loose board and follow it out, swords drawn and shouting the odds- close call.

Earlier in the day, with the help of Ackyn, the PCs attempt to hire on to the same caravan as the Cultists, and again all of the PCs are going on the trip.

And so, here’s how the hiring goes…

Lummins- hired as a bodyguard for Beyd Sechepol, a Male Half-Elf Merchant with a wagon full of Beer, Lummins is overjoyed at the prospect- free ale!

Lux- tries her best to get hired on with the Cultists but it all comes to naught, in the end she is hired as a Guard on Beyd’s Beer Wagon, her duties include keeping the ruffians from the ale, and to sell and serve the beer- she’s a barmaid, and she’s not happy.

Watt- hired as a bodyguard for Samardag the Hoper, a Male Human Merchant transporting precious (and fragile) porcelain. Samardag seems to be a very pleasant man, Watt is happy in his employ.

Sgt Harald Hardaxe- is also hired by Samardag the Hoper, as a Guard.

Sgt Bobby Markguth- the big man’s skills are immediately obvious, he lets people know that he has served in a variety of guard-type positions, and also rolls a ‘20’, after some discussion amongst the Merchants he is hired as the Guard Master for the entire caravan. He will probably ride up front with Achreny Ulyeltin (Male Human Merchant) who is the senior Merchant and Caravan Master for this journey. Sgt Bobby is as happy as Larry.

Hotlips Houlihan- the Halfling dandy decides to travel independently, as a passenger, she pays for a birth on Lasfelro the Silent’s wagon. Lasfelro is a Male Human Merchant transporting… well, no-one knows for sure and Lasfelro isn’t saying. What is known is that Lasfelro has a Gargoyle perched on the top of his wagon, the winged beast is chained to the vehicle- guarding whatever he’s transporting. Hotlips is very keen to find out…

Derek Pilch- like Hotlips, Derek is travelling independently only he has gone one stage further, he will make the journey on his own pony (the redoubtable, but old, slow etc.) Moss.

Hard Bonk- hired as a Guard by Oyn Evenmor, a Male Human Merchant who is carrying dozens (if not hundreds) of exotic birds. Hard Bonk’s duties include cleaning and feeding the birds... which later in the journey he will actually start to enjoy. Oyn is a bit boorish however.

And so, the next day, and with the PCs in their new positions, the caravan heads off for Waterdeep- will the Cultists go the full distance, let’s find out.

There are nine wagons in the caravan, they travel (mostly) in the following order-

Wagon #1 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin. Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Achreny (Caravan Master) & Sgt Bobby (Guard Master) + Teamster + Guard (x2) + Passenger.

Wagon #2 Owner: Achreny Ulyeltin. Cargo: Furs & Hides. On board- Teamster (x2) + Guard (x2) + 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. Cargo: Porcelain. On board- Samardag (Wagon Master) & Watt (Samardag’s Bodyguard) + Teamster + Guard (Sgt Harald + 1).

Wagon #7 Owner: Lasfelro the Silent. Cargo: Unknown? On board- Lasfelro (Wagon Master) + Gargoyle + Teamster + Guard (x2) + Passenger (Hotlips + 1).

Wagon #8 Owner: Oyn Evermor. Cargo: Exotic Birds. On board- Oyn (Wagon Master) + Teamster + Guard (Hard Bonk + 1) + Passenger (x2).

Wagon #9 Owner: Beyd Sechepol. Cargo: Beer. On board- Beyd (Wagon Master) & Lummins (Beyd’s Bodyguard) + Teamster + Guard (Lux + 1) + Passenger (x2)

In addition, there are nine other folk travelling independently, but with the caravan, on their own mounts, one of these is Derek Pilch.

DMs Interlude, the mechanics of the journey are- each day a maximum of five PCs (the Players decide which five) get to do one thing, maybe to find someone or something out? To investigate or else use some other skill or take part in some other activity in order to learn information. Obviously, there may be other encounters along the way that are extra to the activities the PCs get up to. On rest days (every 7th day of travel) five PCs can do two things each.

Furthermore, it will take approx. 50 days to get to Waterdeep, if that’s where the Cult are heading- all the way.

The Players understand the rules and so we begin-

Day #1

The caravan spends the day passing through a variety of villages outside of Baldur’ Gate, heading for the Fields of the Dead, which is rumoured to be not nice at all, and probably the hardest (and most dangerous) part of the journey (except for the Trollclaws). The PCs spend the time getting to know the other NPCs on the carts they are travelling on. Remembering that for those PCs with jobs (all of them except Hotlips & Derek) then their duties take up 10-12 hours each day, and then there’s guard duty at night when the caravan stops to camp (with more guards needed for the duty when they are in the wilds). The guard rota is done by Sgt Bobby (Pete has to do admin, I gave him a list of names for all of the guards- he had to draw up the rota- Hah!). Sgt Bobby does however get to know the names of all of the guards, and personal bodyguards on the caravan. Note the Cultists refuse to have anything to do with Sgt Bobby’s rota, they will set their own guards.

Day #2

Bad news already. Watt & Sgt Harald, at the end of the second day, are sacked (fired) by Samardag the Hoper. This after the he hires a bunch of very tough looking adventurers in the last village before the Fields of the Dead. Watt is unhappy, he tries to convince Samardag to change his mind but instead just gets a few extra coins (as a pay-off) and a sincerer ‘sorry’, Samardag is however certain of his choice. Sgt Harald (yeah, Pete) however is furious- apoplectic, he almost gives the game away by mouthing off about his heroics in Greenest but manages to shut up at the very last moment (Lux threatens to remove the Dwarf’s balls a little later if he tries that again). The newly unemployed pair take to their mounts and join the independent travellers, to say they're pissed off...

Also, Hard Bonk is certain that one of the passengers on the wagon he’s on is a Cultist (the PCs hadn’t thought about that possibility), in fact the guy is one of the fellers that he spent an afternoon on watch with- he’s also fairly certain that the Cultist is trying to figure out exactly where he has seen Hard Bonk previously. Remember the Half-Orc Monk has shaved his head and face, and scruffied himself up a bit.

38 Journey Map 1.jpg

And so, at the end of the first session, which is now, the PCs have figured out a few more details about the inhabitants 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- 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, Watt & Sgt Harald Hardaxe.

The above list was the Player’s creation- Sandy (playing Lux) the school teacher insisted that the sheet was kept up to date, and she can be pretty insistent, ask around.

Lots of chatter and lots of admin this week, it’s a different kind of game…
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