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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We D&D.

Session #40b Hoard of the Dragon Queen #26b Review.

Just a few words (actually a lot of words- sorry) about what we got up to and how much, or little, we enjoyed the adventure. As with the previous review (of Lost Mines of Phandelver) I gave out a questionnaire to each of the Players at the end of the module, and then had an extended chat with the group via e-mail.

So, in episode order, mostly- although there are a few other things discussed, see the headings.

The Module Book

Apologies if lots of other people have said this already but, it’s a bit of a mess in places- daft errata, odd asides and a little higgledy-piggledy; at least to me- at times it lacks style, clarity and/or coherency. It feels like episode to episode, a bit of a mash-up. Also, the maps are too dark- too large, and yet too small, and worst of all- not that interesting. Here’s the caveat, I don’t mean the book is terrible, I’m mostly comparing it to Lost Mine which was very nicely written and presented. The plot/story of HotDQ is all good, and the potential action even better. Even the old skool players in my group were ‘stoked’ with the flying ice castle at the end, and the opening Dragon (Cult) invasion was a ripper. As to episode 2, when the PCs had to go place nice at the Dragon Cultist camp, then nearly 100 session later and the Players are still talking about it. The module itself is FTW, but it perhaps needed (at least) one more visit of the red pen before it went to print.

The PCs

The guys liked the fact (eventually- see below) that they were playing the converted Dragon Cultists from the previous adventure, and that I had encouraged them at the start to build their PCs with a few social skills. Except for Pete, of course, who duly ignored the latter request.

That’s not to say it was a smooth ride.

Jackie (playing Watt and the hardly used Derek) decided very quickly that she didn’t want to be playing a Bard (although, of course, she chose to play a Bard), she wanted to play a Rogue, like Hotlips. Oddly when I was writing the story up I kept stating in the text that Hotlips was played by Jackie. I’ve been back through and corrected my errors- so you’ll not find them. In the PC creation session Jackie ‘allowed’ (her word) Sandy to have a go at playing a Rogue (Hotlips). But she was maudlin for a good while afterwards, Jackie hearts Rogues, they’re her thing, actually up until this adventure they’re the only Class she has played ever, so… there’s that. In the last adventure Jackie played Nimbus (Tiefling Rogue) RIP, and Elvis Pickersgilly (Gnome Rogue).

Jackie changed her tune (very droll, tune- Bard, get it) when she realised just how versatile Watt was, as she stated, “he’s the master of nothing much- but very good at everything- cool spells, a bit sneaky, great ranged attacks, plenty of other good skills & powers, and tip-top when it comes to chatter”, which nicely sums up the Bard class.

Derek, the Druid, Jackie concluded was ‘funny’, but not something she wanted to try again.

Rob (Lummins & the hardly used Hard Bonk) was also unsure to begin with- he felt that he had to play the Cleric (the need for healing), and then… then he was particularly delighted when he got to fifth level and Fireball appeared on his spell list. By the time we finished the module he was full-on converted (get it- converted- Cleric, oh- I’m a wag). Rob will be playing Clerics more often, and chatty ones at that.

Rob had nothing much to say about Hard Bonk, the Monk, which is apposite because Hard Bonk gained a reputation for saying nothing much throughout.

Sandy (Lux & the party favourite Hotlips) heart Lux. Sandy also heart Rogues- she described Hotlips as a ‘sneaky revelation’. No issues here, move on.

Pete (Sgt Bobby, and the hardly used Sgt Harald) is just Pete- the seasons keep changing but Pete… doesn’t. Well, not much. The best thing you can say about him is he’s dependable- like the rain (kidding Pete).

And so to the module, or at least our journey through it…

Episode 1: Greenest in Flames (Sessions 1-5).

“There was too much of it”, said Jackie- and that would be my fault. I said at the start of this write up that I like to get my money’s worth from the published adventures- to do ALL of it. That said all the Players had positive things to say about how the scenario started- they arrive in Greenest and discover the place overrun with Dragon Cultists. Then they have to get to the Keep while preventing the townsfolk they pick up along the way from coming to harm. Nicely heroic, and a trial- with plenty to see, and hear en route. As Jackie said (actually insisted, rather than just said), however- “That should have been the end of the first episode.”

Meaning it was time to level up.

It took two sessions for the PCs to get back to the Keep, and another three to get all of the missions done. On reflection, and after observing the action from behind the DMs screen, I think that all of the Players were extremely disappointed that they didn’t get to level up when they got to the Keep. They wanted their reward, I think if I played HotDQ again- and I wanted to play through all of the missions then I’d level up the PCs up at the Keep (somehow) and then re-fit the missions for Level 2 and slow their progression later.

Again, none of the Players had anything bad to say about the missions, so I’m leaning towards my explanation (because that’s what we do, lean towards our own explanations). They particularly liked rescuing the Priest and the townsfolk from the Church of Lathander- and the first appearance of the Light of Lathander (automatic level up time). Pete described this event as, “Stonking!” So, that worked- and remember (particularly you Mr DM) that the game is (mainly) about just three things- fun & enjoyment (that’s just one thing), a (good, better still- great) story that keeps the Players asking questions and wanting to figure out the next bit, and good action- be it fighting, puzzles, discovery or chatter. It would be nice to get in some character development as well, perfect world, both for the PCs and for some of the NPCs.

Oh, and so while we’re at it- nobody particularly mourned the passing of Ray the Zealot, Pete likes to be in-charge, to be the loudest voice- when he has something to say. However, he also likes his PCs to be outsiders- all action and brave, but not the kind of people you’d particularly want to follow. Too abrupt. Too direct. Too… uncomplicated. Not always, but at times. That said Sgt Bobby, after Pete (and friends) knocked some of the sharper edges off the PC, started to enjoy being a part of the team. So, we got there in the end.

The use of eight PCs in this section was also not a universal success, again the Players weren’t entirely against it. See the level up thing above, they’d have preferred to be Level 2 and using the same four, scratch that- five PCs to complete the entire adventure.

It was at this point that the Players insisted that five PCs in action was the way to go, four was just “too dangerous” (?) according to Sandy.

Episode 2: Raiders’ Camp (Sessions 6-7).

Not one bad word about this section, from any of the Players, they all loved it- particularly the action at what became known as Camp Dragonclaw- with a bit of investigation, a bucket load of roleplay- lots of it with the PCs/Players put on the spot, and the ever-present threat. “I mean, we’re in their camp…”, Rob stated, “I was EXPLETIVE DELETED myself, not knowing what was going to come next.” They loved all of it- the bad guys, the situation, the story and most of all the fact that they had to keep making up the next part of the script- and roleplaying and rolling the dice to see how successful they were. Jackie thought that this was by far the best bit of the adventure, I had the Players score each episode out of 10- Jackie gave episode 1 a ‘6’, this one got a ‘10’. Point of fact it got a ‘10’ from all four Players.

“It was better than combat”, said Pete, which is high praise indeed.

If I played the scenario again, I’d pretty much do it the same way.

This episode, perhaps even more than the first, also helped to stoke the PCs/Players hatred for the Dragon Cultists- particularly the management (Rezmir and the Red Wizard that fireballed the good citizens of Greenest).

Episode 3: Dragon Hatchery (Sessions 8-10).

I’ll be honest, this was probably my favourite bit of the adventure, the Players also scored it high. There was a bit of everything here- good fights that left the PCs terrified in places- for some reason they got it in to their heads early on that they were exploring a ‘large’ Cult complex- packed with bad guys. They kept expecting more Dragonclaws to come running and make things even more difficult, this continued even after they had taken a few prisoners and interrogated them. They thought that they were constantly in danger, frightened to take a rest, while not wanting to retreat out of the cavern and by doing so allow the bad guys to escape.

I think I got them on the back foot right from the start- there were two or three fights in which I just threw everything at them, basically combining as many encounters as I could in to one great rolling maul. The Brothers managed to take down Cyanwrath and his Hit Point heavy Berserkers- this after fighting through two rooms of Cultists. Then, when they should have been resting, a host of Kobolds (& Urds) got in to action- it was the cumulative effect, for nearly two sessions they were fighting to maintain their foothold in the Cult lair.

The Players were also sore amazed when they managed to convince Frulam Mondath to give it up, with a lot of good work from Sandy- Lux. I think it was at this point that three of the Players (Sandy, Rob and Jackie) came to the conclusion that the way to go in future was not to just rush in to the fight. If an NPC had something to say then they were better off hearing it, their various social skill checks backed up with good roleplay could be as effective as the slaughter. Pete, obviously, took a little longer to get on board with this new (and alien) strategy. Sgt Bobby (Pete) was mostly of the opinion that the only good Cultist is a dead Cultist.

The interlude with King Urp (the Roper) helped to shake Pete’s old skool (maybe) style of play- the Roper did a lot of damage to Watt very quickly, and also proved to be very difficult to hurt. This fact only served to emphasise the ‘ask questions first’ strategy (or at least introduce it as a possible option) which was being promoted by the other three Players. It also proved to be a very funny and entertaining section of the adventure- the chatter amongst the Players about King Urp’s potential new homes, delivered in Estate Agent speak, “east facing aspect, with hot and cold running Troglodytes etc.” left many at the table crying with laughter.

As I said at the start, this section was the most fun for me- I had a ball with Urp, Mondath and Cyanwrath; I love a bit of bad guy acting.

The section also did well in setting up the next bit of the story, I didn’t want to rely too much on NPCs just telling the PCs what comes next- I’d rather have the Players extract the information about the caravan north full of Cult treasure from the Cult leaders directly. If there’s ever a choice between giving the PCs info or else getting them to track down and roleplay the information out of a bad guy/NPC, then the latter every time. Earning the info gave it extra weight and pumped up the Player’s kudos- they had achieved something.

Last bit, in this section Hotlips joined the Brothers of the First Light for the first time- and all was well with the world. As Rob said latter- “having the Rogue, Hotlips, that made things much easier…”

Everybody enjoyed the bar games in session 10, but that was nothing much to do with the scenario, just an excuse to drink beer and do silly things with dice.

Episode 4: On The Road (Sessions 11-16).

This… this was the least liked section of the adventure, although- there’s always a caveat with me. The problem was at the start the Players were straining to find something to do each day while the caravan plodded along, and a lot of the time it was rinse and repeat- the same thing every day for their PCs. It wasn’t until I made it absolutely explicit that they didn’t actually need to do anything at all for time to pass that things started to get good again.

It also didn’t help that the action was diluted (my fault again) there were eight PCs in play and on occasion (particularly with Derek the Druid) the good stuff was happening to one of the secondary characters, while the Brothers of the First Light were just marking time.

Up until this point Lux (Sandy) was mostly in-charge of things, on the caravan there was no need (really) to be issuing orders or else constantly making decisions- it was sit still, ask a few questions, and see what happens.

If I played this scenario again then I would make it crystal clear from the start that there was no need to ‘find’ things to do, just sit tight and observe- wait for events to happen.

Having said all of that there were many moments on the caravan journey that the Players really enjoyed, the following events received positive reviews in the questionnaires-

Pete loved the Peryton attack in the Trollclaws, the creature ripping the heart out of one of the wannabe adventurers, and Sgt Bobby of course got to play the action hero. Same again with the Hobgoblins attacking the crippled wagon high in the Trollclaws- Sgt Bobby, again, to the rescue.

All of the Players were left giggling like loons in the Terror Fungi session, particularly Jackie (playing Derek the Druid) who turned in to a doomsayer in a matter of moments. I remember her running around the dining table with her hands in the air screaming “We’re all going to die!” like it was only yesterday.

There were, of course, lots of other good bits- but overall- too much samey-same, and not enough new information about the Cult and their story, it was an endurance test for the PCs/Players rather than a thrill ride. Also, as stated previously, a lot of the action involved the Players secondary characters- they didn’t want (so much) to be playing these guys- they wanted the action to be concentrated on the Brothers of the First Light- Lummins, Lux, Sgt Bobby & Watt (and maybe Hotlips).

If I play the scenario again then the journey will only take half the time- three sessions maximum, skipping to the points of action, and rushing through the rest of the day-to-day. You live and you learn.

These six sessions also worked against me later on, play drifted and there was much more non-game-related chatter (and looking at phones etc.), for a while I thought I’d lost them (a bit), and I knew that there was yet more travel to come…

Episode 5: Construction Ahead (Sessions 17-18).

This episode proved to be very popular, just goes to show- all you have to do is keep adding more monsters to the mash. It also helped that is section of the adventure (kinda) serves as the climax to the previous episode- the showdown, of sorts, with the Cultists from the caravan. Also, the big reveal- the Cult treasure is heading in to the Mere of Dead Men, carried on the backs of Lizardfolk.

It was also very short and intense, and that’s nearly always a winner.

The Players loved everything about it- the battle to get to the Carnath Roadhouse, although that was just a bunch of random encounters done RAW. Some good fights- by which I mean the PCs slaughtered my bad guys, and the chance for Derek the Druid (played by Jackie) to climb on top of a wagon (her chair) and make frog noises. Another one of those moments that are going to live in the memory for a good while, long after the plot of the adventure has been forgotten.

I did good with the cliff-hanger at the end of session #17 (at the Roadhouse), this session seemed to revive the Player’s flagging (a little) interest. I also managed to put Sgt Bobby (Pete) on the spot here, he had to roleplay and try to explain why he was so certain that Hotlips didn’t murder the Cult guard in the previous episode. Pete’s always good value when you force him to roleplay- he says he hates it of course, but… the lady doth protest too much.

Also, a nice escape from the Roadhouse in to the Mere by the PCs at the end- dumping Jamna Gleamsilver in the process, the murdering Gnome- although none of the PCs/Players figured that the Gnome (and Lux) were in cahoots, and Zhents.

Episode 6: Castle Naerytar (Sessions 18-22).

Another very popular episode that had a bit (actually a lot) of everything- even the journey to the castle with Snapjaw was cool, Rob agreed- “Snapjaw was great”, Pete adding- “I was really unhappy that he died at the end”. I played Snapjaw like a fervent Marxist revolutionary- the Lizardfolk proletariat trying to overthrow their bourgeoisie (er… Bullywug) masters. Actually, just Master (singular)- I made Fartbox (Pharblex) the target of Snapjaw’s ire. The Players bought in to the Glorious Revolution big time, even going the extra mile to think up campaign slogans- “The best folk are Lizardfolk”, I’m getting that on a badge for work. I wouldn’t have been surprised if Sandy (Lux) had done a Powerpoint for the Glorious Revolution, with a SWAT analysis attached.

Then, of course, after the roleplay a hefty dose of pandemonium with the Strike Teams, and lots of bad guys versus the first appearance of Lummins’ (soon to be beloved) Fireball spell, and the PCs are kick-ass Level 5. They adored the crazy sprawling melee that lasted for hours.

The Players also (briefly) enjoyed having a Lizardfolk companion for each of their PCs to employ as canon-fodder. Although the arrival of their Lizardfolk helpers seemed to coincide with several Player’s dice going spectacularly bad. At times they just couldn’t roll high, there was a lot of despair to balance out the eventual joy- who knew a small plastic random number generating device could instigate such ire and fury.

It made me laugh.

Then at the end of the fighting there was just time for me to disappear Azbara Jos and Rezmir, which also served to rile the PCs/Players greatly- good. Ultimately however the ongoing ‘debate’ (that’s the polite word for it) between (mostly) Sandy (Lux) and Pete (Sgt Bobby) as to whether to heal up or to immediately chase after the fleeing Cult management, caused a great deal of consternation in the ranks. It was up in the air for a while, but of course it all worked out in the end, mainly because we’re all grownups.

I added a little impetus, and killed Snapjaw and wrecked the Carnath Roadhouse, with the visit of Scaly Dread, the Black Dragon, at the end of this segment. This “betrayal” (Sandy’s word) was not appreciated by several of the Players- apparently, I am “heartless”, this according to Jackie, they didn’t like it when the Lizardfolk started to die. Snapjaw was their ‘fwend’.

Honestly, you couldn’t make it up.

The titanic battle in the caverns below the castle, versus Fartbox and the Bullywugs, was much less titanic than it (possibly) read. The PCs handed me my derriere. No contest.

Oh, and Lux = Frulam Mondath, the first appearance of the Wearer of Purple, Sandy really got in to the role later on.

Episode 7: Hunting Lodge (Sessions 22-23).

Another favourite, I was on a roll- seemingly. Fighting Trolls proved popular, and nasty, and the intro to Trepsin, the four-armed Troll, his mistress- Talis, and her other Cult lackeys was all good. I also started to make it much more difficult for the PCs to get in a Rest, something I continued to do in the next episode. Keep kicking ‘em, that’s what I say.

I wanted to try to keep the impetus going in to the last section.

There were some great moments with Talis (me) and Lux (Sandy) during the roleplay in the lodge, point of fact all of the Players are very good at talking their way in (and even sometimes out) of trouble. It’s also good when it’s high-wire stuff, when the threat is obvious- Trepsin, Talis, more Cultists etc. Let the Players know that should they mess up then it’s straight to Initiative, or similar, keep them concentrating on saying/doing the right thing.

It worked like a charm, and now the Brothers (maybe) have a contact for the future, an actual Cult insider.

The promise of the ice castle, and a chance to kill Rezmir et al certainly fired them up for the next episode, and with the second Lathander based intervention and emergency level up- the Players were buzzing. I tried hard not to disappoint with the final episode…

Episode 8: Castle in the Clouds (Sessions 23-26).

So… to sustain the pace, the Players skipped Parnast (their choice) they wanted to get straight to the action, on board the flying ice castle, at which point I just kept hitting them.

I wanted the threat to be immediate- hence Othelstan and his gang coming on board the castle and hunting the PCs down, then bring on Rezmir, Azbara Jos and the next ‘to-be-continued…’ bad guy- Rath Modar. The Players very quickly figured out that it was the Red Wizard Modar that killed the civilian’s way back in Greenest, I made sure of it OOC. They have a new Cult hate figure, after despatching Rezmir.

In the fight with Rezmir et al I really tried to take a PC or two down, perhaps too hard, I should have used Rezmir’s Breath Weapon earlier instead of trying to save it until I could get at least a couple of PCs in its compass. Then a Crit Sneak Attack from that little bastard Halfling- Hotlips Houlihan, and I was sunk.

If I had just got Lummins down- Sgt Bobby was already dirt-napping, if only.

I’m kidding myself of course- if I had got Lummins down then the bloody Bard (providing he had spells left) would have just started rationing out the healing.

Enter the Stone Giant hippies to interrupt the PCs rest (briefly) and then a little later (when they really start to believe they’re going to get a Short Rest in) here come more Cultists and the (comedy gold) Ogre flunkies- nice hats!

The Players were getting annoyed (a little) with me at this point, not being able to rest and heal their PCs was becoming an issue- they had quickly grasped that I was doing this on purpose. Here’s the thing, it’s artificial- when the PCs are hanging on then everything that happens to them is a potential threat (and therefore dangerous- and therefore exciting). They had Healing Potions in their packs- they could have used them, but they knew that if they did then they’d have to be much conservative in their approach from that point on.

So, keep ‘em on edge, any way that you can- deny them the thing they need, it’ll make them appreciate it more when they finally get it.

I kept kicking the PCs/Players until they’d had enough- and then a glimmer of hope, Blagothkus- a chance for the PCs to explain themselves, and at this point even Pete (Sgt Bobby) was now fully on board with the plan. The Brothers were really starting to swing...

So, plenty of great roleplay and then the challenge- fix the remaining Cultists still on board the castle (the Vampire and Dragon) and get the ultimate sky-ride as a reward. Blagothkus didn’t want to fight the PCs, particularly as all but two of the Cultists were dead at this point, I just wanted to try to keep the threat rolling.

The PCs eventually get a rest- do some nice roleplaying and investigating, and then… they collapse the ice tower- and let’s be clear that was their intention, it was odd to witness, and I’m not one of those DMs that say “you can’t do that!” and get in a strop when the Players go off the page. But I’ll be honest here- I was thinking that. How is this a (good) plan?

A foolish plan then, but nothing more- the challenge (for me) was to give the PCs a get-out option, to make it tough- more threat, you need to convince Blagothkus that it wasn’t you that collapsed his ice tower or fight… well, everybody non-Cultist left on the castle.

The Players rose to the challenge, although between sessions they took to begging and cajoling in an attempt to get a do-over, but when it came to the crunch, they roleplayed their way out of it- and they were all involved, all of the PCs/Players facing in the same direction. Nobody wanted to fight Blagothkus and the Stone Giants et al- that would be just suicidal.

So, it worked out for the better- in the end.

Last stop the Dragon (& the Vampire), the fight with Glazhael was terrifying for the PCs, particularly after the Breath Weapon hit, but… over too quickly. I don’t know why I let Hulda the Stone Giant accompany them- he hit the Dragon for 27 damage with a rock! I also could have got the Vampire in to the fight earlier, but after the Breath Weapon the Vampire option just seemed liked a TPK waiting to happen.

Just to make clear, Rob and Pete had obviously been telling tall tails about Dragons- specifically big Dragons, i.e. Cloudchaser. None of the Players wanted to sacrifice their PCs, and so Sgt Bobby (Pete) & Hulda were the designated hitters for Glazhael. The plan for Lux, Lummins, Watt and Hotlips was not to get anywhere near the Dragon unless they really had to- to stick to the ice tunnels, dodge out- fire off spell or ranged attacks, then run (far) away (and, if possible, hide). When Sgt Bobby got Frightened it kinda, briefly, all fell apart. The backup plan, fathomed on the spot, was basically this- let Hulda the Stone Giant get murderised by the Dragon, get Sgt Bobby back up and running again and then go back to the original plan. It was at this point that several of the Players also started to appreciate Sgt Bobby (and Pete) a whole lot more.

Four of the PCs- Lux, Lummins, Watt and Hotlips (that’s a familiar list) really (really) don’t want to get killed- they don’t want to (unless they really have to) get anywhere close to the bad guys- they want to do their killing at range. Just less than sixty feet away from the monsters would be ideal for the ranged specialist/s and/or casters. Ridiculous, the only way this could possibly work is if they had a reckless idiot, preferably in heavy armour and with a big sword, that just rushed headlong in to every fight- regardless of the odds and gave his (or her) all to stop the monsters from getting to the squishy backroom staff.

We all HEART Pete, I mean Sgt Bobby, as it turns out.

And so to the finale- it seemed the obvious thing to do, to get the Vampire to kill the Dragon and give the PCs, who were still mostly broken an option- a way out. The Vampire would have murderised them otherwise. In the last scene around the table, with the Vampire measuring up the corpse of the Dragon for a new Dracolich- Lux, Lummins and Watt all had less than twenty hit points each (even after a brief bout of Healing). They were also all mostly out of spells, although Lummins had his Radiance of the Dawn ready and waiting.

Perhaps I should have thrown the Vampire at them- got her to call up a few (Bat) swarm mobs, stay out of sight until they arrive, and then attempt to take the PCs out one-by-one, with a bit of Charm for Sgt Bobby. I wanted to… but it was very late, and it seemed like a good (and funny-ish) way to end the piece… although, we continued for a few weeks afterwards via e-mail.

The Players loved the final episode.

If I played the adventure again there’s very little I’d do differently for these last three or four episodes of the adventure, it seemed to mostly work- a few tweaks here and there, but nothing major. Here’s the thing though- different Players, different adventure.

We D&D’ed good though, I think.

Just for info-

Players scoring for each episode (Max 40)
Ep 1 Greenest = 6 + 6 + 7 + 8 = 27
Ep 2 Investigating Camp Dragonclaw = 10 + 10 + 10 + 10 = 40
Ep 3 The Dragon Hatchery = 8 + 8 + 8 + 9 = 33
Ep 4 The Journey to Waterdeep = 5 + 6 + 6 + 7 = 24
Ep 5 The Carnath Roadhouse = 8 + 8 + 9 + 10 = 35
Ep 6 Castle Naerytar = 9 + 9 + 9 + 10 = 37
Ep 7 Talis at the Hunting Lodge = 8 + 9 + 9 + 9 = 35
Ep 8 The Flying Ice Castle = 9.5 (Pete, you bastard- I said whole numbers) + 10 + 10 + 10 = 39.5

Apologies, I much rambled.

Next… downtime, the bit before the start of the next adventure.


We D&D.

Session #41 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #27 Next… Downtime.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 8
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 8
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 8
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 8
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 8

Secondary PCs.
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 8
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 8
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 8

Next… The Rise of Tiamat, obviously.

But first a little bit of in-between times, a look at what the PCs and Players got up to betwixt HotDQ and the start of TRoT, and there’s enough of this to constitute a session’s worth of activity.

Just to say in the real world we had a month off between the two scenarios, mainly due to holidays, and so we also had time to exchange hundreds of e-mails, I kid you not- hundreds of e-mails (thanks, mostly Sandy).

Basically, between the two scenarios the PCs had thirty days off- sorta, a tenday spent flying around in the ice castle (back to Greenest, and then on to Castle Naerytar for the Farseer) and then after a Sending spell from Leosin (Harper contact) on to Waterdeep, and then two more tendays in the City of Splendours. In short a month of downtime activities.

The lesser used PCs- Derek Pilch (Human Druid), Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk) & Sgt Harald Hardaxe (Dwarf Fighter) got up to, well… nothing much, they were put back in their boxes, and ignored.

The glorious Brothers of the First Light (and Hotlips (Halfling Rogue), chief hanger-on) they however got up to plenty.

Lux’s information exchange.

Lux (Human Warlock) did lots of stuff- because Sandy is like that. She’s keen.

However, for the first tenday the Warlock just kept her head down, after being drained by the Vampire, she kind of went in to hiding. Or else she was just waiting for her arrival in Waterdeep to swing in to action.

And boy did she swing in to action…

While in Waterdeep, Lux visited with the Harpers, and learned things- more Dragon attacks, and lots more Dragon Cult activity in the big cities (and even some of the bigger towns) of the Sword Coast. There’s something nasty brewing… Reports of physical attacks in Waterdeep, Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter, although mostly small stuff, but… the threat definitely is growing. Also signs that the Cult is recruiting in some of the less salubrious quarters of the aforementioned cities.

Harper Rank 2 = Harpshadow (Agent).

Lux also visited with her Zhent friends- and found out more of the same (see above). The Black Network however is very keen for Lux to carry on finding things out and, of course, protecting her/their position- they need to be in the know and ahead of the information war. Lux gets a big promotion, and access to more resources, including the names of a few helpers- should she need to call on them (in Waterdeep).

Zhent Rank 3 = Viper (Stalwart).

The Warlock also finds time to check in with some of her Dragon Cult contacts, firstly of old- alas no new info comes to light; and then some of her new connections. She contacts Talis the White, with a little help from her Zhent friends- we play out a nice exchange of veiled insults via e-mail. I’ll hold off revealing the new info gained for a bit. It’s enough to say that Talis is a little amused (& bemused) by Lux, the Cult gossip about events on board Blagothkus’ flying ice castle (as reported by Rath Modar, the Red Wizard that fled) leaves Talis not entirely sure which side is Lux on? She’s also a little frightened of her- which is the smart move.

Then Lux gets in contact with Sandesyl the old skool ‘may all of your liches be Dracoliches’ Dragon Cult Vampire, again the Zhent provide the gateway, the two hit it off almost immediately.

So, Lux gets the inside track on the big secret (from Talis (a bit) and Sandesyl (a lot- the Vampire has plenty to say, and an axe to grind))- the Cult are summoning Tiamat, the clock is ticking- there are five big bad guys- they each have a mask (Black, Blue, Green, Red & White- obviously). Severin (Red mask) is the new Cult boss, he’s the one making all the decisions. However, if the PCs were to get hold of one of the masks… things would be much harder for the Cult.

Also, Sandesyl will pay handsomely (payment offered in money, kind or info) for the intact(-ish) and fresh corpses of any Dragons Lux happens to locate, the Vampire has got the Dracolich bug.

That’s a lot to tell one of the Players up front- but it was a good (in character) exchange of e-mails, and lots of them- sometimes a dozen a day. Besides the Zhent, and the Cult insiders, and more importantly the DM get Lux (Sandy) to swear to reveal nothing of the above to her fellow Players/PCs. She can add flavour when the truth comes out but for now… Shhh, it’s a secret.

Hotlips and Gary.

Also played by Sandy, the Halfling Rogue has a brief chat with her Harper contact and gets hold of a few more Potions of Healing, and then when she gets to Waterdeep goes shopping for new clothes, and a new haircut. She also manages to establish a very weird relationship with the Ogre called Gary. The two are (sorta) dating, or at least the plumed helmet wearing Ogre (on his days off) takes to squiring the Halfling around Waterdeep. This after straightening things out with the authorities- sadly, Gary the Ogre is initially made to feel very unwelcome in the City of Splendours. A sign of the times, perhaps. Two things change the authorities (collective) mind- 1) Blagothkus (intermediary Hotlips & Lux) is persuaded to spend a lot of money in Waterdeep on a gargantuan restock of the ice castle, after all the Cloud Giant has just chipped a small fortune out of Cloudchaser’s icy lair. And 2) the threat that Blagothkus will come and do his shopping in person. It’s free drinks all round for the rest of the month for Hotlips and her new beau, Gary the Ogre.

Harper Rank 2 = Harpshadow (Agent).

Lummins and the Cloud Giants.

Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) played by Rob, spends the first tenday ensconced with Blagothkus, still working to try and convert the Cloud Giant to the worship of Lathander, he gets closer to it than he thinks- one good roll away in fact, sorry Rob. But the Cloud Giant is not for changing, he is however up for showing Lummins how to work the flying ice castle- which takes the Priest another tenday to get the hang of. The Priest even manages to make a connection with Esclarotta, the spirit of Blagothkus’ dead wife.

The Priest of Lathander however does not give up…

In the final tenday (of his downtime) Lummins manages to reconcile (and by doing so reinforce) the relationship between the two Cloud Giants. Blagothkus finally sees the Light, as does Esclarotta- both Cloud Giants are converted to the worship of Lathander, and in that moment (thanks to a ‘20’) the pair are granted a permanent link (kinda like an always switched on Speak with the Dead spell). The pair swear to do whatever is needed to help Lummins, and his cause.

Later, on the last day before the actions starts, Lummins reports this new info to his Harper bosses, they’re overjoyed- he gets a big promotion.

Harper Rank 3 = Brightcandle (Stalwart).

Watt is on song.

Watt (Human Bard) played by Jackie, accomplishes plenty, although all of the info the Bard finds out has already been covered in the sections above.

The Bard also spends a good tenday making a name for himself in the bars and clubs of Waterdeep, singing songs and telling tall tales about the adventures of the Brothers of the First Light. In short, and very quickly (thanks, as usual, to some cracking (Performance) rolls) he gains a reputation in the City of Splendours and makes a few new friends along the way.

Harper Rank 2 = Harpshadow (Agent).

And lastly…

Sgt Bobby Markguth’s new blade.

Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) played by the irreplaceable, irresponsible, irredeemable Pete. Sgt Bobby also gets up to quite a bit- first off after the Brothers et al depart Greenest it quickly becomes apparent that Bobby has moved his family in to one of ‘state rooms’ on the ice castle. And when I say family… fourteen members of the Markguth clan take up residence, including the cantankerous Old Man Markguth who is not at all happy to discover that there’s no tavern aboard the flying wonder. “It’s rubbish” is the Old Man’s much-repeated opinion, and “bloody freezing.”

The situation is however allowed to continue, and fester a little, until we get to Waterdeep- at which point Sgt Bobby uses his new-found fortune (garnered from the Cult treasure pile) to rent a house in the City of Splendours. The Markguth family move out of the ice castle and in to their new abode, soon after Sgt Bobby is pretty much back to being penniless.

He moves back in to the ice castle towards the end of the last tenday of his downtime activity, remembering why it was he left his family in the first place.

So far, so family, and funny.

Sgt Bobby does however do one more (terrible) thing, he attunes Hazirawn the ferocious (and semi-evil) greatsword, formerly owned by the Half-Black Dragon- Rezmir. This after cajoling, cussing, cursing and finally creeping out his very considerate DM- Sgt Bobby is a sword and board guy, the PC isn’t built for greatsword use, and yet… Hazirawn calls to him, and Pete wants it.

So, I ask Pete what he will give me in return, if I allow him to make some changes to his PC, to make Sgt Bobby more greatsword-enabled.

He offers me, well… anything, everything… certainly lots of things. Including for Sgt Bobby to start to pursue a more violently active form of terror (targeting the enemies of the Brothers et al, of course). In short, you ain’t seen nothing yet- Sgt Bobby (if I say the word, and allow Pete to re-do a few of his PCs skills and powers) will take the role of blood thirsty lunatic to the next level.

Keep in mind, three of the Players around the table will (and do) do anything they can to preserve their PCs. Pete ain’t built that way- if Sgt Bobby gets slaughtered, then there’s Sgt Harald just marking time in the rear with the gear, and the Dwarf hates (sorry, I mean HATES) Dragons. Of the two- Bobby and Harald, well… Bobby’s the nice guy.

So, what’s a DM to do- give in to Pete’s stupidity, find a compromise, or just tell him to do one.

You’re going to have to read on to find out.

Oh, and Sgt Bobby doesn’t even bother to call in to see his Order of the Gauntlet handlers in Waterdeep, he’s just too busy, or else can’t be bothered.

Next time… The Rise of Tiamat.


We D&D.

Session #42a The Rise of Tiamat #01a The First Council of Waterdeep.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 8
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 8
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 8
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 8
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 8

Secondary PCs.
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 8
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 8
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 8

And so, after last session’s downtime activities the start of the action proper, and remember- this is session #42 of our game but only session #01 of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

The Brothers of the First Light are in Waterdeep, a majority of them- over the last two tendays, have spoken to Leosin Erlanthar, the Monk Harper contact they rescued from Camp Dragonclaw. Ontharr Frume, the Dwarven Paladin- and Order of the Gauntlet contact, has however been missing, or else he’s not visited with the adventurers.

So, it comes as quite a surprise when the Brothers receive a ‘priority’ communication from Ontharr, basically they have twenty minutes to make themselves presentable and to get to the Lord’s Palace. The quintet (Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric), Lux (Human Warlock), Watt (Human Bard), Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) & Hotlips (Halfling Rogue)) arrive in a variety of states of flustered.

Episode 1: Council of Waterdeep, Part 1.

Leosin is around to meet them, and ushers the Brothers through a number of high-ceilinged rooms- most of which are packed with a wide variety of surly-looking guard’s officers, all of whom are wearing (or carrying) the pennants and flags of a selection of cities and regions of the Sword Coast. The Lord’s Palace is busy with it- and the Brothers are getting plenty of stares.

In five minutes flat the adventurers are through the crush and in to a rather pleasant and uncluttered large and well-appointed room, home to a massive semi-circular table- at which sit a sea of (familiar-ish) faces- all seemingly waiting on the PCs arrival. Looking expectant. Lux starts to speak and is shushed in to silence- behind the adventurers a mage waves his hands and incants, thirty seconds later and the room is magically sealed.

I wanted to impress upon the Players that this meeting was a) important, and b) secret.

Then the introductions begin, barking at the PCs for a while is Lord Dagult Neverember, Open Lord of Waterdeep, Lord Protector of Neverwinter, and according to his preamble the leader of the Lords’ Alliance.

The other members of the assembled interviewing committee, formerly titled “The Council of Waterdeep”, are as follows-
(Lady) Remallia Haventree (representing the Harpers & Waterdeep),
(Lord) Ontharr Frume (Order of the Gauntlet),
Delaan Winterhound (Emerald Enclave),
Lady Laeral Silverhand (Lords’ Alliance, Waterdeep & Mystra),
Ambassador Connerad Brawnanvil (Lords’ Alliance & all the Dwarf clans of the North),
Marshall Ulder Ravengard (Lords’ Alliance & Baldur’s Gate (Flaming Fist)),
King Melandrach (Lords’ Alliance & the Elves of the Misty & High Forests),
Taern “Thunderblade” Hornblade (Lords’ Alliance & Silverymoon), &
Sir Isteval (Lords’ Alliance & Daggerford).

I take my time with the intros in order to let the PCs know how important the assembled crowd is, with Leosin whispering all the while in the PCs ears.

And with Jackie (Watt) and Sandy (Lux) all the while making notes.

So, this is an interview, as it turns out- which wasn’t what the PCs/Players expected. Lord Dagult makes it clear that the PCs should be on their best behaviour from the outset, although Ontharr Frume softens the tone slightly by nodding, grinning and giving random ‘thumbs up’ signs to the various PCs.

Oh, and at this point I make the Players get up from their seats (character sheets in hand) and stand over the far-side of the room, facing me (I’m seated). The following topics are thoroughly investigated by the board- your glorious DM in essence fires questions at each of the Players in turn (although at random). They answer as best they can, and mostly at attention, and with the correct titles used for the various leaders (when they can remember them).

I may have to confess at this point, my first career was in the military, I have the voice- size and presence for the part. Although, there was a fair amount of giggling throughout the event.

And so, after each of the PCs takes a moment to introduce themselves, including their titles (which I give them a few minutes to make up, if they like). They are-

The Radiant Lummins of Lathander (Rob’s getting a bit big for his boots),
Lady Lux,
Sgt Bobby Markguth of the Greenest Guard, &
Hotlips Houlihan, Duke (actually Duchess, but who am I to argue) of Earl (of Greenest).

We then learn/play-through the following, and for each subject I’ve also included a little of the committee’s reaction to the Brothers of the First Light’s story- because that’s what we’re talking about, initially- what the heroes have been getting up to.

And so, the subjects discussed are-

1) The ownership, and present disposition of Castle Skyreach, or as it is now known- The (Flying) Lighthouse, I’m talking about Blagothkus’ flying ice castle. The PCs explain (actually mostly Lummins) that the place is fully operational, and theirs to employ as they wish.

The crowd go wild, several members of the board rise to applaud- astounding work, and a great start to the interview. I think I even set off a few party poppers- go atmosphere!

2) Speeches in support of the Brothers of the First Light by Ontharr Frume and Leosin Erlanthar- I try to say something nice about each of the PCs present.

A number of the committee smile, nod and show their thanks, several others look a little bored by proceedings.

3) The Brother’s adventures, the start of their story from Greenest to Camp Dragonclaw- including the capture of Cyanwrath & Frulam Mondath, and the presence of Rezmir and a Red Wizard of Thay (Rath Modar). Also, the destruction of the Dragon Hatchery.

At which point there’s a little bit of a kerfuffle, it seems that several members of the assembled council are not convinced that destroying the Dragon eggs would be their preferred outcome. The storm (such as it is- more just a squall) eventually passes- but not before I get the chance to ask, “Why did you do X?” lots of times and to a variety of the Players. I love putting them on the spot.

I’m really enjoying the start of this adventure module.

4) Then on to the caravan journey to Waterdeep, then to the Carnath Roadhouse, through the Mere of the Dead and to Castle Naerytar, and on through the magical portal to Parnast and eventually the ice castle- the (Flying) Lighthouse.

Particular attention is paid to the death of Rezmir (with a lot of questions asked about the mask he was wearing), and also the Red Wizard’s (Rath Modar) escape. The council are obviously delighted to hear that Rezmir is dead, however of greater concern is Rath Modar’s exit.

There’s also a fair amount of speculation about what the Red Wizard’s of Thay are doing mixed up with the Dragon Cultists.

The chat drifts a while, and the PCs are also encouraged to join in with the speculation.

At which point the interview comes to an abrupt end, well… sorta, two more things occur before we get to the abrupt end-

5) Lord Dagult Neverember ‘tells’ the PCs that they have been deputised to serve as agents of the Council of Waterdeep (this committee), he makes clear their responsibilities and also their (potential) rewards- money, titles and lands. Basically, they’re hired- the PCs questions are hushed in to silence. They’re supplied with written (and signed, and elaborately stamped) papers to this end. This is all done very quickly- the PCs don’t get a say.

6) Then the end- the sudden sounding of… well, nothing. Hang on, let me write that again. The meeting kinda breaks in to mayhem when suddenly everyone in the room stops, looks up and left (or right) and listens intently to… nothing, by which I mean the obvious (and profound) absence of (a) sound. The effect is unnerving, more than unnerving- seconds later there are shouting people banging on the doors to the chamber and demanding entry, concerned doesn’t cover it. Several of the higher-ups around the table are eventually ushered away by scrums of their guards.

What was that?

After the meeting has broken up, the absence of sound continues to repeat itself- seemingly at the same time on every hour, and throughout the City of Splendours- or else every waking citizen- all at the same time, stops what they are doing to listen to… nothing.

Every hour, as regular as clockwork.

The City of Splendours is on edge, it’s weird, and a little frightening- and no explanation is (immediately) offered. Something is going on… most likely something very bad.

The meeting above, with extended giggling time, lasted for something like an hour, with all four Players on their feet throughout.

The Brothers are then quickly ushered in to a follow up meeting with Leosin Erlanthar, Ontharr Frume, and joined latterly by Remallia Haventree (the ranking Harper delegate on the Council of Waterdeep).

The Brother’s orders, stated briefly before the council broke up, were to continue their investigations in to the Dragon Cult. Well, to that end, the Harpers have got a new lead.

Remallia explains, patiently and repeatedly (the PCs have a fair few questions)- some of the Dragon Cult leaders, known as the Wearers of Purple, wear Dragon Masks (like Rezmir, his (Black) mask disappeared when he was killed). These elite bunch call themselves Wyrmspeakers, there are five of them, although initially only two of them were known to the Harpers- Severin (the Dragon Cult leader) who wears the Red Dragon Mask & Rezmir (RIP) who wore the Black Dragon Mask. The information gathering organisation has in the last few days learned about another Wyrmspeaker- Varram the White, the White Dragon Mask wearer (obviously). Varram is reported to be a favourite of Severin’s. The Harper’s have further learnt that Varram, a surly Dwarf, has been spotted in a small hamlet called Boareskyr Bridge (over the Winding Water), on the Trade Way. Ontharr fetches out a map, the place is all the way back to the Fields of the Dead, near to the Trollclaws- both of which the Brothers passed through during their marathon caravan journey to Waterdeep.

Remallia would like the PCs to head there, immediately, and attempt to locate and capture Varram the White (and as importantly- his mask). The Harpers are convinced that the Dragon Masks are vital to whatever the Cult are planning.

The PCs are very quickly onboard with the idea, and soon after are on board the (Flying) Lighthouse, and en route to Boareskyr Bridge.

The rest of this session follows in the next instalment, however- just a brief heads-up about the Council Scorecard so far, the PCs obviously (at the time) didn’t know anything about this. They were however told by Leosin and Ontharr that all of the members of the Council of Waterdeep command great resources, which could be employed in the fight against the Cult of the Dragon. Basically, the PCs need to keep the high-ups informed and onside- Leosin and Ontharr are the PCs contacts, stay in touch.

And so, the scores on the doors after the first council session are-
The Harpers +3 (5/7/10)
The Order of the Gauntlet +5 (7/9/12)
The Emerald Enclave +1 (5/7/10)
& the various Lords’ Alliance delegates-
Lady Silverhand +3 (7/9/12)
Lord Neverember +2 (5/7/10)
Ambassador Brawnanvil +4 (7/9/12)
King Melandrach +3 (6/8/11)
Marshall Ravengard +5 (7/9/12)
Taern Hornblade +3 (6/8/11)
Sir Isteval +5 (6/8/11)

Note the numbers in the parenthesis, let me explain- at the end of all four council sessions the PCs need to score +5 to garner one favour from the Harpers, +7 would earn them two favours, while +10 would result in three. The numbers in the parenthesis therefore indicate the scores needed for one to three favours from each of the delegates.

Probably more of this in the next council meeting.

More adventure, although not much more, next time…


We D&D.

Session #42b The Rise of Tiamat #01b Into the Serpent Hills.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 8
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 8
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 8
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 8
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 8

Secondary PCs.
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 8
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 8
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 8

The start of the action proper and remember- this is session #42 of our game but only session #01 of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

Oddly Boareskyr Bridge is exactly (I mean- exactly) 500 miles away from Waterdeep, that’s five days travel on the Lighthouse, mostly at full-power ahead. The flying ice castle arrives in the region veiled in cloud. Blagothkus (and Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric)) generate a (minor) storm as it approaches- mainly to drive people indoors and keep away prying eyes (good idea- Rob).

The away team- the Brothers of the First Light, are landed, the PCs enter the hamlet- mostly a collection of tents although with a few wood and/or stone buildings, the largest and most imposing a small but sturdy keep. Home the PCs have been told by Ontharr to a bunch of soldiers from Elturgard. The PCs make a bee-line for this place, and then after an hour of standing around get to chat with a very stiff and serious old major. The fellow is very helpful, although only after he sees the Brother’s papers.

Alas the old major doesn’t know a great deal- only that a Yuan-ti camp infiltrator was killed approximately four days ago in Bolo’s Tentside Inn, the killer was reported to be a gruff Dwarf- name unknown. Soon after the PCs locate the aforementioned tavern, and interview the owner- Bolo, a tough talking female Halfling.

Bolo adds a few details to the story (after a bit of chat and a few gold coins are given over), the killer Dwarf was wearing purple robes (a bit of a giveaway) and accompanied by at least a dozen hooded/cloaked companions- all tall and thin, they could have been barbarian mercenaries. The Dwarf, before he killed the cloaked Yuan-ti, was asking about guides to the Serpent Hills, home to many Yuan-ti- Bolo warns. After the slaying the Dwarf and his company set off immediately and without a guide, heading straight for, you guessed it- the Serpent Hills. That was four days ago, as the major said.

The PCs have their target. Then a short debate- can we follow the trail from the air, from the comfort of the Lighthouse, not a chance says the DM- the group therefore buy up some trail rations (and some other bits of equipment) and then depart, in a rush to get after Varram the White.

Varram’s trail is easy to follow- his company were moving quickly and making no attempt to disguise their tracks. The Brothers spend the rest of the day and a night in the wilds- moving quickly through semi-cultivated lands in to cracked dirt plains studded with low hills and mesas, it’s an arid place- finally bedding down by a dry riverbed.

Then a second day on the trail- in the morning the PCs encounter a clearly visible, but unmarked, grave- it’s old, and therefore left undisturbed by the PCs. The Brothers press on and spend the last hour of light that day exploring a small ruin on the plains- an ancient shrine perhaps, but the stone of the building has been worn smooth by the wind. The Brothers make camp here, convinced that Varram and his company also camped hereabouts.

Remarkably nothing attacks them- I’m doing the Random Encounters RAW, as previous.

Then a third day, and once again the trail is easy to follow- mid-morning several discarded waterskins are found within one of a dozen or so ruined buildings, in what was (probably) once a hamlet.

Later the PCs come across the ruined remains of a much larger settlement, at least fifty ravaged stone buildings, some of them must have once been very large and imposing structures- time and the elements have scoured the place of its history. The ruined town (or temple complex?) is, thankfully, abandoned- although the PCs slow their pace and chose to pass around the outer edge of the ruins. Several of the PCs become agitated, mainly because the DM keeps getting them to make a variety of rolls. The kindly DM is toying with the PCs for a reason- read on. The PCs insist (to the DM) that they keep a close eye on the ruins as they move away from them.

And thus, they are mostly otherwise engaged when they walk around a butte and straight in to an ambush (of sorts), the temporary camp of a pair of Hill Giants hiding in the lee of the rise, and out of the sun.

01 Serpent Hills Hill Giants.jpg

The first Hill Giant spots Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) approaching and brains the warrior with its massive club, remarkably Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) is awake to the action- the Halfling hustles forward and shoots a crossbow bolt in to the great beast. Lummins is also quickly on it, targeting (his favourite) Fireball just behind the first Hill Giant, which burns- and screams, its hair on fire. The second Hill Giant stays back, grabs up a hunk of rock the size of Hotlips and hurls it at the aforementioned Halfling, the Rogue is hurt badly- and sent sprawling (for 25 damage, nice).

The Brothers are in a fight.

Sgt Bobby unleashes Hazirawn, his new (malicious) magical greatsword- the blade slices through the burnt Hill Giant’s flesh like a knife through butter- three hits (with Action Surge) for a total of 62 damage (lots of it Necrotic). The partially incinerated Hill Giant is left screaming and crying like a baby- and trying to get away as fast as it can. It’s going nowhere.

Hotlips fires a crossbow bolt in to the back of the Hill Giant’s skull- the bolt protrudes through the beast’s forehead (a Crit with Sneak Attack for 40 damage). The first Giant falls.

The second Hill Giant looks unsure for a moment- whether to fight or to run, the decision is entirely taken out of its hands. Watt (Human Bard) moves towards it- waves his hands while muttering (sing-song) arcane sounds- a second later and the Hill Giant is gone, squatting in its stead is a fairly small bright green frog.

Alas for the PCs (and later for the Hill Giant) the frog manages to leap in to a crack in the baked earth and thereby escape Watt and Sgt Bobby’s clutches. The Players however take a moment to applaud Jackie (playing Watt) they didn’t know the Bard could do that, several of them are hooting with laughter.

Then, when the PCs are ready, Watt stops concentrating on his Polymorph spell- the Hill Giant screaming, having just reverted to full size while wedged at the bottom of a narrow fissure in the hard-baked ground, reveals itself. Soon after the beast is persuaded to surrender- and then to chat (remember Lummins and Lux (Human Warlock) both speak the Giant tongue).

Odd-Nob, the Hill Giant, is treated well- prior to being released back in to the wilds he reveals (after much questioning) the following-

1) The Serpent Hills are home to many Lizardfolk, and their masters the Yuan-ti.

2) A bunch of people (Varram the White et al, probably) passed this way at least three (or maybe five- see below) days previously. Odd-Nob finds the concept of time slightly confusing, he uses the term ‘yesterthen’ to indicate any time already passed.

3) There are lots more ruins in the Serpent Hills, in short Odd-Nob is not sure where Varram is heading. In translation- the DM is not telling the PCs where Varram and friends are going; they’re going to have to continue to track the Dwarf.

The rest of the day (after a short bout of healing), and the night, pass without further incident.

The fourth day on the trail is a little more interesting- at midday the adventurers stumble upon the remains of a patrol from Elturgard, the group has been decimated- only three (from twelve) of them left alive. It seems they too have encountered Varram and his cohorts. This after a bit of back and forth between the two groups, the wounded soldiers are initially very wary of the PCs- they eventually agree for the Brothers to close with them (and to help/heal them).

Their story is they’re all that’s left of a long-range patrol, they encountered a Dwarf and his companions (Varram et al) approximately four days previously, they’re exhausted and more than a little disorientated- hence they’re a little unsure how much time has passed since the encounter. The Dwarf seemed to be asking for directions. Note- none of the survivors are able to answer the question “directions to where?” All of the troopers, including the captain of the group, involved in the discussion with the Dwarf and his company, were slaughtered. Perhaps their captain was not keen to provide directions, the soldiers heard raised voices- furthermore the captain was clearly disturbed by the Dwarf and his followers. Varram is variously described as being- short, arrogant, violent and awfully sweary (and very very angry). The three soldiers escaped with their lives because they were at the back of their group, and they ran- as fast as they could when they saw their comrades being slaughtered.

The Dwarf’s companions, described as ‘a bunch of tall, thin- cloaked men’, fought like furies.

Lots of good questioning by the PCs here, but I didn’t want to give too much away.

The three survivors are healed, given food and water, and also directions back to Boareskyr Bridge. The PCs add half a day to their march stopping to interact with the broken patrol- they spend the rest of their fourth day looking after the trio, and then part company the next morning.

Again, Varram’s trail is easily found- the fifth day is spent heading in to the Serpent Hills proper, the PCs pass around yet another ruined settlement, this one much larger in size- a town or else a small city- they do not however approach the ruins- the trail leads elsewhere, Varram didn’t stop here.

The Dwarf’s trail does however come to a conclusion at the end of the day’s travel, in yet another set of ruins hidden away in a canyon between two steep bluffs. The hills here are dotted with caves, the PCs therefore proceed cautiously, they quickly discover a (not long, maybe) abandoned campsite close by. Night however is closing in, the Brothers find a nearby ruin and make their own camp, the light fades quickly they therefore have no time to explore the area. The Brothers resolve to stay in hiding, and to keep a keen an eye on the (abandoned) campsite- and double guards for the night watch.

That however is the end of the first session of The Rise of Tiamat.
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We D&D.

Session #43 The Rise of Tiamat #02 Frottage, I would ask you to surrender all of your Philanderers.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 8
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 8
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 8
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 8
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 8

Secondary PCs.
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 8
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 8
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 8

This is session #43 of our game, but only session #02 of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

The PCs are camped in the ruins, at trails end- this, as best as they can tell, is as far as Varram the White and his crew journeyed in to the Serpent Hills. The PCs have found a camp, and more worryingly a clutch of freshly dug graves nearby. Night however is falling; the PCs therefore decide to rest up and watch what they presume to be Varram’s (abandoned?) camp.

Nothing happens for a good long while, it’s not until the wee small hours that Lux (Human Warlock) on watch spots a pair of Trolls nosing around the aforementioned camp, she quickly wakes her friends. Then after a very brief chat- the Trolls are getting closer, and the PCs are (of course) eager for a fight- they launch their attacks. It’s the start of the session- the Players are always eager for a fight at the start of the (game) night, or at least one of them always is. Say hello to Pete- Sgt Bobby Markguth (Human Fighter), he’s going to have a great session tonight.

Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) as usual drops a Fireball in to the mix, note at this point the PCs can only see two Trolls- there’s a third, a tardy fellow who has not yet caught up with his pals. The two Trolls scream- both in flames, a second later the closest takes a crossbow bolt to the side of the head (and is thus reduced from 72 HP to 8 HP in two hits) the latter courtesy of Hotlips (Halfling Rogue). Watt (Human Bard) fires an arrow in to the beast- it drops, for good measure the Bard fires a second arrow in to the other Troll- yeah, that’s right- the Players are so tough they’re pulling their punches. Jackie playing Watt usually goes through her spells in double quick time- word around the table is, she’s saving them for something big. Trolls, it seems, cut no ice with her.

Lux fires a pair of Eldritch Blasts in to the lone survivor (the PCs believe) then Sgt Bobby spends an Action Surge to get to the beast- he almost destroys the creature with two hefty swings of Hazirawn- his new magical (and slightly evil- Shhh, none of the other Players know this) greatsword.

Sgt Bobby cackles with glee, as the blood and gore fly. I’ve had a word with Pete, he’s got to do more monstrous roleplaying if he wants to keep Hazirawn.

Me and my big mouth.

Seconds later, the second Troll (cursed with low Initiative) is also taken down, the bodies of the fallen pair are quickly set on fire, the third Troll stays in hiding, the PCs have not got a scratch on them. The last bad guy has seen enough; he heads back in to the tomb complex double-quick time.

A short while later, during the clear up after the fight, Sgt Bobby (somehow- he rolled a ‘19’ plus bonuses) finds the Trolls tracks, they lead to a very narrow culvert (opening) in to the cliff wall. Furthermore, it’s clear from the tracks that one Troll escaped this way. The opening is too small even for Hotlips- and yet the Fighter insists that the Trolls came (and went) through here (he’s not wrong).

After shrugs the PCs return to their vigil, or else to sleep, and awake four or more hours later ready to face the day, and ready to continue their pursuit of Varram the White (and his mask).

After a brief scope around the ruins in daylight- nothing much else is found, the PCs investigate the broken statues that seem to guard the way in to a high cavern entrance- the cliff wall here is carved with the strangest of sights. The images depicted show stars and planets, faceless tyrants and kings, and a variety of other fantastical scenes including a many-headed dragon (Tiamat, of course) emerging from what looks to be a river of fire. I thought I’d throw that one in there. The skill of the carvers has however been lost in places, areas of the cliff-face have been worn smooth by the steady hand of entropy.

Then the scared and partially broken twenty-foot-tall statues turn to face our intrepid quintet.

03 Talking Statues.jpg

"Halt. You come before Diderius, ether walker and conduit of clairvoyance. Behold ye now his wondrous triumphs. Diderius extends wisdom, and Diderius offers knowledge. Which do you seek?"

Watt (Jackie), Lummins (Rob), Hotlips (Sandy) & Lux (still Sandy) chorus back more or less in unison- “Wisdom & Knowledge”, it seems they’ve got the hang of this.

Sgt Bobby (Pete) mutters “kiss-asses”, and kinda skulks about a bit.

A sign of things to come.

The statues reply- "Diderius shall grant you what you seek, but only if you heed him and continue to show proper respect!"

Watt quickly summarises- “This is Diderius’ home (and possibly his tomb)- he was a seeker of knowledge and wisdom, we should show respect, and listen to any other voices we hear.”

Lux begins pre-warning Hotlips, and more specifically Sgt Bobby- basically, the rough-house Fighter needs to be on his best behaviour.

Fat chance.

Up a ladder and in to the cave mouth- Watt notes the residue of an illusion here- depicting a simple but well-appointed tomb- then through a large stone door and in to a wide passage leading to another stone door. Six black stone statues of cowled and robed figures with staffs (Wizards?), arranged in pairs, guard the way to the far stone door.

Four of the five adventurers are suddenly struck by the same thought- "Some secrets are not meant for mortal minds to know. Look away from the darkness in which such knowledge hides."

No warning for Sgt Bobby though.

The statues turn in unison to face the approaching PCs, four of the five adventurers look away instinctively- Watt shouts for Sgt Bobby to “look away” also, but alas the Bard is much too late.

“There’s not even a face in here- shoddy workmanship”, Bobby states, while peering deeply in to the cowled recess of the nearest statue, the Fighter (the lucky bugger) makes his save. Pete is gurning like a fool (apposite) while Sandy & Jackie berate him, as per normal.

Hotlips leads the way- the group pass on and to the next door, and after a little caution in to the chamber beyond- a large domed room with a high-ceiling, with a balcony/ledge circling fifteen feet above. The entire floor of the chamber is an intricate mosaic- a knight with glowing sword fights against a Chimera (the PCs quickly identify the beast), the confrontation bathed in the rays of a glowing sun.

Suddenly the tiles start shifting- flipping over, turning… Lummins, Hotlips and Sgt Bobby spot the danger and are ready for the two-dimensional tile Chimera when it flies up from the floor of the chamber.

04 Tile Chimera.jpg

Alas, the highest of the PCs initiative rolls is Lux, and she’s surprised- the second highest is Lummins with an adjusted ‘7’, it had to happen one day. The Chimera takes flight, and while in motion bathes the PCs in flame- yep, all of them. It gets worse- all five PCs fail their saves, only Hotlips with her Evasion manages to soften the blow- that’s 37 Fire damage each, except for the Halfling.

There is swearing.

Much, much swearing.

I have never heard ladies swear so loudly, or so longly.

The tile Chimera takes off- heading up towards the ledge, Hotlips hits it with a crossbow bolt, while Sgt Bobby flails ineffectively with Hazirawn (that’s a ‘1’) as the creature gains altitude.

Just to note, three of the five PCs (Lux, Lummins & Watt) are bloodied- nice work.

Pete isn’t happy.

Lummins hits the beast with three (out of five) of his Scorching Rays, and then scurries away from his comrades. Hotlips fires another crossbow bolt in to the beast and runs in the opposite direction in to a shadowy corner to hide, the frustrated Rogue is aware that her crossbow bolts are doing very little damage to the brute, but the Chimera is fifteen feet up- in the air.

The PCs are trying to spread out- they don’t want to suffer the Chimera’s fiery breath again.

Sgt Bobby has the same problem as Hotlips, the Fighter throws a dagger at the beast (a hit, but for very little damage), he therefore gets his Second Wind and then screams at Lux- “make me Fly, witch!” (Pete’s sailing close to the wind already).

Lux goes one better- she casts Fly on Sgt Bobby and Hotlips, and then backs all the way out of the chamber.

The tile Chimera swoops down again, and tears in to Sgt Bobby- the Dragon head bites, the Goat head butts with its horns, and the Lion claws, all three hits- and now Sgt Bobby (Pete) is full on swear storm, and well below bloodied.

Remember Sgt Bobby was a sword and board guy- well, he ain’t no more with Hazirawn clutched in his murderous hands. He ditched two points of AC for his shield- and now he’s a much easier target.

The Chimera immediately attempts to fly up and away again- Sgt Bobby instinctively lashes out with Hazirawn and cuts through it, scattering broken tiles throughout the chamber.

A moment later Lummins gets to Sgt Bobby with an enhanced Cure Wounds, just as the big bad Fighter takes to the air- charging (swooping?) in to his prey, alas at the last moment the Chimera somehow turns side on- making it much harder for the warrior to connect with his greatsword (Disadvantage on his attacks).

Not for Sgt Bobby- two out of three of his attacks (with added Action Surge) are hits, the tiled beast is shattered and almost spent. Hotlips also floats up to savage the foe, but barely manages to scratch the beast (resistance and low damage rolls), and Watt’s much enhanced Shatter spell (really low damage 5d8 = ‘3’, ‘2’ & ‘1’ x 3, the Chimera saves for half) is also not enough. The tile Chimera is going to survive for another round of terror… Woo-hoo!

At which point Lux makes her way back in to the chamber, she had been watching the fight from the corridor- peeking through a gap in the door. The Warlock fires an Eldritch Blast in to the Chimera- it shatters spectacularly sending shards of tile ricocheting around the chamber (for a few points of damage for each PC, because the DM forgot about the Warlock and is now pissed).

That was a very nice fight, of course, the PCs- and Players are less inclined to agree.

The PCs, after a very brief chat, and some general grumpiness- they hate it when their PCs take a battering, and pointedly ignoring the door in the chamber marked ‘safe’ in chalk- retreat back the way they came. They, heads bowed (all of them), exit back through the corridor with the statue wizards, and all the way back out on to the ledge. A short rest is taken, uninterrupted, and with Sgt Bobby on guard throughout.

The Players are mostly sulking, there’s very little chat.

Just to note around the table when the PCs take a rest (Short or Extended) it often also signals a ten-minute time out for the Players.

Then, after much healing, they’re back in again, same routine- heads down as they pass the statues, and back in to the tile chamber. Hotlips is the first to spot that the tiles on the floor are slowly regenerating, the Chimera is being reconstructed. Sgt Bobby starts smashes up the regenerating tiles, that is until Lux and Watt barking at him to stop makes him reconsider his actions- or else he just can’t be bothered to argue with them. Watt and Lux’s concerns are as follows- 1) they’re supposed to be respecting the place, not vandalising it, and 2) Sgt Bobby is making a helluva noise.

We break for a brief time out (another), as the DM tries to placate the soon to be warring parties. Here we go again.

Back to the game…

Hotlips checks out the rest of the chamber- the door marked ‘safe’ (in chalk) opens in to a dank and dark area with a well in it (maybe), while the double doors to the north have something very heavy pressing on them from the other side. The Halfling Rogue, after a bunch of good to great rolls, correctly surmises that there has been a collapse beyond these portals, opening them would be foolish. Lastly there’s a downward sloping passage to the south east, not investigated yet.

In to the ‘safe’ room, there’s a well- with a rope and bucket, and a basin (of sorts) with a lever nearby. A short while later Lummins discovers there’s water in the well, the Priest of Lathander (with a little help from Hotlips to check for traps) empties the water in to the basin and then pulls the lever. The water (when the lever is pulled) disappears through a formerly plugged outlet and can be heard gurgling through hidden pipes within the wall.

Most odd.

Lummins, with a little help from his friends, repeats the action several more times- to the same effect, where does the water go? And, why? These are the questions the PCs need to know the answers to, it seems.

Hotlips is briefly lowered in to the well- the walls however are dotted with nasty looking red fungi that seem to weep a bloody substance; the Halfling gets in a bit of a panic (or else Sandy does) and is eventually hauled back up before the area below can be properly investigated.

Shame, I had a Troll down there waiting for the Rogue.

Back out to the mosaic chamber- the tile Chimera is definitely regenerating, after a brief game of guesstimate the PCs reckon that it will be ready to redeploy in about 24 hours.

Then down the sloped corridor- with Hotlips, as usual, leading the way.

Before the non-sneaky PCs even set off to follow the Halfling down the slope there’s a sudden grinding noise, the sun section of the tile mosaic on the floor swiftly slides aside and a ball of bones (skeletal parts) easily five feet in diameter shoots up through the newly revealed hatch and then goes bowling after the now scurrying Halfling- down the slope. The hatch of course closes up again.

Lux, Lummins and Watt scream a variety of warnings at Hotlips.

Hotlips spots the danger and screams some more.

Sgt Bobby laughs like a drain- “look at her go… her little legs…”, the Fighter dissolves in to belly laughs.

05 Run Hotlips Run.jpg

The result of which is… inevitable, the various bone limbs reach out to scoot the skeletal ball along the corridor faster- the Halfling is mown down, but only briefly (and for only 5 damage, thanks to Evasion) the skeletal ball careers on- in to an as yet unseen chamber, and somewhere there smashes to a halt.

There follows five to ten minutes of intense investigations, basically Hotlips has wandered in to the danger zone, so it’s now her job to find out how the trap works, and then to nullify it. The other PCs are not venturing in to the corridor until the fix is in.

Hotlips discovers two things- the very well-hidden pressure plate that activates the trap, she cannot however disarm it, a chalk outline is therefore scrawled on to the floor in the hope that the PCs will remember it is there and avoid it. Secondly a secret compartment set in to the wall- like a shaft for a dumbwaiter (which is exactly what it is). Hotlips could fit down the shaft easily, but she’s disinclined to do so, at the moment- maybe later.

So, forward- down the passage and in to another chamber, this one complete with faded tapestries on almost every wall, and with a shaft of light streaming in from high on the southern wall. There’s a door opposite the sloped passage, and nearby the shattered remains of the skeletal ball, also a much grander pair of stone doors to the north.

Again, a voice speaks, although only inside the heads of four of the five PCs-

"Humility proffered in the manner of Mystril shelters those opening the way to seeking knowledge."

All four PCs (three Players) automatically scream at Sgt Bobby- “don’t touch anything”, and then explain what they have heard.

Hotlips, meantime is sent for a sneak around the strange shaped chamber (a triangle with the pointy bit truncated) while the clever folk figure out the riddle- Lux works out what priests of Mystril do to show respect to their god- head bowed, hands held high as if holding a lamp. Lux and Watt quickly deduce that the way forward is through the double doors to the north, adopting the attitude of respectful Mystril priests.

Meantime Hotlips has gingerly lifted a few of the tapestries away from the walls- and found two upright sarcophagi embedded in the revealed stone surfaces- that’s not good, she concludes.

Which just leaves the plain looking door ahead to be investigated, no sound- no traps, the door leads in to a short passage with an identical door ahead, oddly the Halfling thinks she can hear crying coming from beyond the second door.

After a brief chat the PCs decide to head this way first, after Hotlips again checks the new door- and in to another oddly shaped chamber (the mirror of the first) although this placed is decked out like a study-cum-library, it’s very dusty here and alas the shelves are all empty.

Seconds later the sound of crying fades, and Ilda appears.

Ilda is a robed young human woman, and more disturbing- transparent, “she’s a Ghost”, Lux states confidently.

06 Ilda Ghost.jpg

The PCs decide to chat, which is fortunate as Ilda begins by screaming at the intruders- issuing dire warnings (and threats) should the PCs attempt to steal anything from the tomb of her master- Diderius. Watt and Lux swing in to action, with Lummins helping out here and there, the trio eventually convince Ilda that the Brothers are here in search of Varram the White, and his companions, and not here to despoil.

There follows nearly twenty minutes of roleplay during which the PCs learn the following from Ilda-

1) This is Diderius the Diviner’s tomb, and during his life his scrying chambers- the great Diviner was regularly visited by kings and emperors who paid him fortunes to work his magic.

2) There is a very powerful divination pool within the complex. Note Watt (smart ass) figures out that the well and the water basin they found earlier must supply the water to the divining pool.

3) Ilda is sad because before he died Diderius, her beloved master, accused her of losing one of his precious books, a tome called ‘Transubstantiality across Potentialities’. Ilda would (obviously) like the PCs to look for the tome.

Note the PCs rolls are high throughout the above, and the roleplaying suitably great- even Sgt Bobby gets involved at one point. Lastly-

4) Ilda is aware that there are at present other strangers within the tomb complex, she would say more- i.e. tell the PCs all she knows, but… she’s so sad, right now. If only they could find the missing book.

So, the PCs have a book to find. After polite adieu’s (they’ll be back) the PCs retrace their steps in to the previous chamber, make like respectful priests of Mystril, and push open the great doors to the north.

In to a throne room.

07 Throne Room.jpg

Sat on the massive stone throne is an unmoving, but regal looking, figure- robed and with a long white beard, and easily over ten feet tall.

And before the throne a pile of treasure- silver coins and jewellery, and at least one potion flask.

“Don’t!” Issued simultaneously by Watt and Lux, but a little too late because Sgt Bobby heads over to the treasure pile…

Then a voice, rich and eloquent, the figure speaks-

"Ye who seek Diderius's insight must first furnish tribute, that Diderius might work his mighty magic. Lay such tribute at my feet or depart."

There follows a ten minute, sometimes (very) tetchy, debate- the crux of the matter is this- the PCs quickly figure out they have to add to the treasure pile in order to pass through the door to the west, which they also figure is the direction they need to go. Sgt Bobby (Pete) in his own words- “don’t pay tribute to no-one”.

The ten-minute (very tetchy) debate centres on the fact that for a good while (about ten minutes) Sgt Bobby refuses to put money in to the pile, even when all of the other PCs (and Players) offer to supply Sgt Bobby with the money to pay to pass.

Lummins offers the good Sgt ten gold pieces, so that he can pay one- nine profit.

It’s still a ‘no’ from Pete.

Note, at the end of this session we have time to reprise the argument above, with three Players asking (maybe hectoring is a better word) Pete about why he is, and in quotes (for legal reasons), “such an arse?” Hey-ho, we’ve been here before. The crux of the matter (once again) is this- Sgt Bobby (according to Pete, and he should know) bows to no man. The other three Players offer the following counter-arguments (again)-

a) Sgt Bobby (Pete) plays ball and does what he’s told when it suits him- a variety of examples are provided.

b) Sgt Bobby is good at the things he does (mostly fighting stuff) several of the other PCs (played by his friends, including his wife) are good at other things- one of those things is roleplaying, and talking, and asking questions- and finding stuff out. Without the ‘finding out of things’ there can be very little fighting- the plot must go on etc.

c) More directly, why does Pete constantly make it difficult for his friends to enjoy the game.

There’s a few more arguments I’ve missed off the list, but the squabbling kinda wandered around a bit. It’s the above three points, and particularly the last one, that hit home (maybe, for a bit) with Pete.

Pete plays the “that’s what my character is like” card several times, at least once too many as it happens, as Jackie (his wife) eventually (at last) tells him to “grow up”, followed in her most exasperated voice by- “it’s just a game!”

But that’s for later… and, rest assured, if your eyes only skimmed some of the above then don’t worry because you’ll read it again, and again, and… well, we’re still playing and we’re still falling out.

So, eventually… all five PCs drop a gold coin in to the treasure pile.

The stone door to the west grinds open, and the massive bearded figure on the throne signals for the PCs to pass on, and so they do- Hotlips, as always, taking the lead.

The Halfling sneaks down a set of stairs, and peers in to the lit chamber ahead- at a large stone table a clutch of tall humanoid figures sit- all dressed in rough clothing. All five of the figures possess the strangest of beards which seem to consist of knots of writhing appendages- most odd. The quintet are all smoking (cigars) and playing cards, a very odd game of cards.

They’re playing an Infernal version of Happy Families (see later).

The Players didn’t get the joke either, but I was laughing all the while (inside).

The five figures are engrossed in their game, Hotlips can’t understand what they are saying- nor can any of the other PCs, they’re speaking in Infernal. However (after a ‘20’ Monster Knowledge check) the Halfling is certain that the creatures are Bearded Devils- all five of them.

That’s a lot of Devils.

The Halfling Rogue goes to sneak back to her friends, but is interrupted…

“You may as well come in. We heard the door open.” One of the Bearded Devil’s declares, in the Common tongue.

Note, Hotlips Stealth check was a ‘9’, she’d forgotten about that.

All five PCs descend the stair to see the Devils, who continue at their card game talking in the Common tongue now.

“Cokbox, I would ask you for all of your Murderers.”
“I have no Murderers, Snotflinch. It is now my go.”
“Frottage, I would ask you to surrender all of you Philanderers.”

The Bearded Devil named Frottage hands over two cards.

“There are my Philanderers, Cokbox- well played.”
“Most thank you, Frottage.”

The PCs are ignored, until a seething Sgt Bobby (somehow, he’s en route to being offended) draws his sword (Hazirawn) and makes for the Devils, at which point the closest of the quintet points at a set of stairs exiting the chamber to the south.

“I think you’ll find that Varram went that way”, the Bearded Devil (actually Frottage) simply states.

That however is the (frustrating) end of the session.

There’s a lot of “this is mad…” from several of the Players, and then we descend rapidly in to the bickering described above.

More action, less falling-out, next time.

Remember, as Bill Hicks used to say- it’s just a ride.

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We D&D.

Session #44 The Rise of Tiamat #03 The Throne Guardian Toll Booth.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 8
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 8
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 8
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 8
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 8

Secondary PCs.
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 8
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 8
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 8

This is session #44 of our game, but only session #03 of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

After a brief falling out last session, we’re all back in-game, and in a much better place…

The PCs are mid-conversation with a pack of five Bearded Devils, the Devils are polite and insistent- the much sought Varram the White has ventured down the stairs exiting to the south of this chamber, and about an hour ago. The Devils are keen that the PCs should know this.

The PCs are, of course, highly suspicious of the Devils- several of them (okay, at least one of them) is looking for an excuse to start killing the infernal bastards (that’d be Pete, I mean Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter)).

Lux (Human Warlock) and Watt (Human Bard) however swing in to action with the chat, the pair quickly ascertain that the five Bearded Devils work for Varram but are ‘off-shift’ at the moment, one of the Devils (Frottage, again) mumbles something about “union rates”. It also becomes obvious to the chatty pair that the Devils know a lot more than they are telling.

Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) wants to fire up his Zone of Truth and start asking a few more hardball questions but the Devils (politely) object.

“It would be awfully bad show if you just started casting spells on us, that’s prejudice. How would you like it if we cast spells on you? I’d like you to think about that for a minute, please. How would you feel? You’d be upset wouldn’t you?”
Frottage states.

Sgt Bobby isn’t happy at all, but Pete’s having fun with it- rather than being an ass.

Eventually after ten more minutes of hilarious (in places) roleplay a deal is struck- Frottage and friends (Cokbox, Snotflinch, Phlembandit, and Peewee) are willing to say more- lots more, but only if they’re paid 200gp, five minutes later and the price is down to 150gp.

Note the Bearded Devils all look like George V, only with small stubby horns and snake-like beard appendages.

The chat continues, how does this work in your game, quite often I imagine the film version of our game- during which in instances like this one, the PCs (every now and then) break from the action to huddle up (US Football style) and chitter-chat in hushed whispers amongst themselves.

While the monsters… well, look mystified.

Finally, a decision is (nearly) made- the PCs are going to go back to Ilda the Ghost and see what she thinks (and/or advises) about the presence of the Devils et al. Don’t ask me how we got here, but that’s what happens.

The thing is the Players are not sure how to play this. Violence is an option, of course, but they also want to find out what the Devil’s know.

Anyway, so the PCs (after apologies) retreat out of the chamber, back up the stairs and past the ten-foot-tall fellow on the throne- paying 1gp each as they exit, and then back in to the dusty empty library and to Ilda.

Note the PCs only have to leave an offering when they pass through the door in to the Devil’s chamber, however at no point did I tell them this- so that’s 10gp for the Throne Guardian so far.

Ilda, after listening to the PCs for a while- mostly shrugging along to their story, states that she is also prepared to tell the PCs more (about this place) but only if they- a) retrieve the lost book, and b) kill or clear out the despoilers within the tomb (that means the Devils and Varram the White).

The PCs chat some more. It’s very chatty tonight- we’ve been in-game for nearly an hour at this point.

Then- there’s a plan. I’ll not spoil the surprise except to say that all members of the Brothers of the First Light are in agreement.

The PCs say adieu (they’ll be back) to Ilda once again, head through the throne room- paying the Guardian (15gp now) and down the stairs in to the Devil’s chamber. Lummins has cast his Zone of Truth spell already. Lux hands over 150gp and the Devils agree to five minutes of questioning.

Five minutes real-time the (firm, but fare) DM states, and then takes an age with the Devil’s much considered, and often verbose, answers.

Remarkably all five PCs get involved with the Q&A.

Note, Lummins is using his Zone of Truth, the Devils however have Magic Resistance, and remember they are also aware that the spell has been cast. They have advantage on their saves versus the spell, and yet all of them fail to do so, also remember that Lummins is aware that they have failed their saves.

So, they’re telling the truth- and seemingly happy to do so… the PCs learn, in the order that the questions are asked-

a) Within the tomb the Devils have fought and killed undead creatures.

b) Varram has lost his Dragon mask.

c) Varram and the Devils are here to consult the Divination pool- actually the Devils use the term ‘Looking Pool’, sadly it takes over two minutes to determine that the ‘Looking Pool’ is in fact the Divination pool- shame that. They’re going to use the ‘Looking Pool’ to find out where the lost Dragon mask is.

d) The Divination pool is further on in to the complex (and not down the southern stairs).

e) The Devils work for a fallen angel (now Archduchess of Avernus) by the name of Zariel.

f) Zariel wants Tiamat out of the Nine Hells.

Time’s up!

Oh, how I laughed- actually, the PCs/Players were a little less amused, particularly with my rambling shambolic answer to c) which took over half the allotted time to get said.

Just as an example answer d) went a little like this-

Watt: “Where is the Divination pool?”
Frottage: “Err… [Frottage looks around the room for several seconds]. If that’s north [Frottage points north]. And that’s south [Frottage points South]. Like on a compass!”
[SILENCE] Eventually…
Frottage: “Do you understand me. North? South? Like on a compass?”
Watt (and all other PCs): [Screaming & yelling] “Yes, we understand.”
Frottage: “Sorry, I just wanted to make sure- and there’s really no need to shout!”
[SILENCE] Eventually…
Watt (and all other PCs): [Screaming & yelling] “Yes, we understand.”
Frottage: “Well it’s over there [Frottage points in a vaguely westerly direction].

As I say, I think it went very well.

So, that’s the first part of the plan- now the second bit, time for the PCs to get their money back- the hard way. But the Bearded Devils are ready and waiting- there’s no surprise round for the scheming two-faced PCs, my poor sweet Devils- betrayed when they were just trying to be helpful.

08 Bearded Devils.jpg

Sgt Bobby rolls a ‘20’ for his initiative (the bastard) and with an Action Surge (and Hazirawn) kills Frottage (my innocent, beautiful, young Frottage). Bobby screams his delight and then seconds later is surrounded by all four of the remaining Bearded Devils who enter a frenzy- remarkably he’s only hit once, but the glaive wound bleeds profusely.

Watt fires two arrows in to the nearest Devil (the first a Crit), the Bard knows the Devils are Magic Resistant and so is doing this old skool. Lummins hits the Radiance of the Dawn button, and then kick starts his Spiritual Weapon- one of the Devils is now badly wounded- the room is bathed in the Light of Lathander. Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) enters Stab Fury Mode, and seconds later another of the Devils is also badly wounded.

Lux fires Eldritch Blasts at the two badly wounded Devils- one dies (Peewee), the other only just survives.

The Devils are really not winning this fight.

As if to emphasise this point Sgt Bobby (and Hazirawn) cuts down the other badly wounded Bearded Devil (Snotflinch), and then savages a second- the Devils have had enough, alas Sgt Bobby hasn’t. With an Inspiration Point the Fighter decapitates the badly wounded Phlembandit.

Which just leaves Cokbox, who drops to his knees, and swears he’ll be good- and cries out- “I say, would you mind awfully not slaying me?”

After five more minutes of chat the PCs finally oblige, the Bearded Devil- Cokbox lives, for now- more questions follow, although the price eventually agreed is to allow Cokbox to leave the tomb alive, after his interrogation.

Oh, but before that Watt and Lummins manage to staunch the bleeding wound on Sgt Bobby, the Fighter is soon all better again (well, almost).

Lummins fires up his Zone of Truth again, and the PCs learn the following from Cokbox-

1) Down the stairs to the south is the treasure vault, home to a bunch of undead guardians. Cokbox is not sure what sort of undead the guardians are- he describes them as ‘spectral’ and when that doesn’t suffice he states that they are also ‘floaty’, and ‘rather upset’.

2) Varram the White has been gone for some time (over an hour), he went on to the Looking Pool (to the west) with a bunch of his Dragon Cultists, they have not returned. The Bearded Devils were playing cards in effort to determine which of them was going to go looking for Varram and his friends.

3) The last orders Varram gave the Devils was to wait here and attack anyone (or thing) that emerged from the treasure vault. “Which would have been us if we followed your directions”, Watt helpfully states. Cokbox shrugs and replies- “What can you do? We’re Devils- what did you expect?”

The PCs have lots more questions but alas Cokbox has reached the outer limits of his knowledge regarding Varram et al.

After more chatter it is agreed that the PCs will escort Cokbox out of the tomb complex- this after first getting the Devil to swear not to re-enter the place. Thirty minutes later and the adventurers are back in the room- Cokbox is outta here.

Note- the Throne Guardian has now taken 25gp from the PCs total, there’s a job in this.

So, we’re back in the Devil’s chamber (now sans Devils), the options are- the stairs down to the treasure vault (and undead), or else further in to the complex and to the Divination pool (and Varram and company). There’s a vote, 5-0. The treasure vault and the undead it is.

So, Hotlips leading the way the Brothers descend the stairs- the Halfling Rogue checking every step of the way down. The only item found is an open hollow space (a shaft going up) in the wall and strewn about the remains of the dumbwaiter that went in the shaft. Best guess the opening emerges in the sloping corridor above this area, as found previously by Hotlips.

The PCs press on to a door, untrapped, and then Lummins fires up the Bless spell and they head in- to a well-appointed bedroom-cum-study, very nice. Cautiously the PCs enter, spread about a bit- snooping, but swords and spells in hand (as it were).

Which is fortunate as seconds later the undead arrive- through the walls.

09 Theyre coming through the walls.jpg

Suddenly Spectres (four of) and Wraiths (two of) are charging through the walls of the chamber- swooping and flying at the PCs. Lux fails to Banish one of the Wraiths. Sgt Bobby and Hazirawn slice a Spectre clean in two- it fades to nothing with a hollow scream.

Hotlips is briefly hemmed in to a corner by a Spectre, the Halfling however manages to dodge past the ghostly undead and get in behind a Wraith reaching for Sgt Bobby. The Rogue stabs the creature with her magical rapier, the undead creature howls in pain.

Watt uses his Dissonant Whispers to cause the second Wraith, threatening Lummins, to flee the area- the undead scurries back through the nearest wall, “It’ll be back”, the Bard warns.

Lummins shrugs, nonchalant, hoists his holy symbol of Lathander in the air and incants- Turn Undead, the three remaining Spectres are ripped to shreds, the Wraith- the only undead remaining in the chamber (for now) doesn’t even blink.

There’s a brief pause in the game as the Players stop to applaud Rob (Lummins), they love these kick ass moments when one PC hits the sweet spot.

Lux fires an Eldritch Blast in to the Wraith, Sgt Bobby (with a little Bardic Inspiration) savages it- the Wraith is cut clean in two, and fades to nothing. Seconds later, with all of the PCs ready and waiting, the second Wraith flies through a wall and straight at the hateful Priest of Light- Lummins.

Some of the PCs (alas) have readied actions- the bastards, when did they start learning the rules.

Hotlips dodges in to stab at the undead foe with her magical rapier, Watt- while waiting for the Wraith’s return has got ready his magical bow- the Bard fires two arrows in to the fiend. The Wraith hate in its burning eyes, however makes it to the Priest- and throttles Lummins, or at least has a real good go. I roll a Crit- Yay! For 40 Necrotic damage. Lummins fails his Constitution save- his hit point total is reduced by 40 also, he’s down- and dying.

The Wraith, seemingly grinning- or is that the DM, attempts to flee through the opposite wall, fate or rather karma gets in the way, Lux kills the undead beast with another of her Eldritch Blasts, a Crit- as it happens. What goes around comes around.

Seconds later of course Lummins is back in the land of the living and gasping for air, courtesy of the Bard’s healing song.

Gah! Bring me more Wraiths.

Still Lummins’ hit point maximum is reduced to about twenty, the debate that follows is short and to the point, although in a non-confrontational way you understand. The PCs are going to search the room (for treasure) and then retreat for an extended rest. Note all of the PCs really took a beating fighting the tile Chimera, they’ve all spent 75% of their healing hit dice already.

So, the room is taken apart in search of, well… anything, there are lots of books on the shelves (some valuable), and between the bed and the wall a crumbling copy of a tome called- Transubstantiality across Potentialities. The tome Ilda is searching for- quest complete, they just need to return to the quest-giver. There’s also a silver ewer and some fine goblets- yoink, they’re taken; and in a chest a whole bunch of stuff- a pair of scrolls, a ring, and several beautiful (and immaculate- no rot) silk robes. Plenty of things for the PCs to examine during their forthcoming extended rest.

Hotlips also finds a secret compartment, actually just a loose brick that slots out of a wall- there’s nothing hidden there, then the Halfling notes the runes carved on the inward facing side of the brick. Lux and Lummins examine the object and determine the runes constitute some sort of magical ward (skill checks okay but not great). The brick is broken- the runes, well… ruined.

Then retrace their steps (yet again) and the PCs head all the way back to the library, with another 5gp for the Throne Guardian (30gp so far) on the way.

That Throne Guardian is well minted, as the youth say around here (probably about a decade ago, I’m an increasingly old git).

The rest of the session is played out swiftly, we’re over time already and the Players are keen to park their PCs in a well-earned extended rest. A bit of what follows is added on later via e-mail.

Back in the library Ilda is shown (but not given) the missing book, only shown because the PCs want to first hear what the Ghost has to say, which is this-

1) An age ago (or more) a bunch of Yuan-ti and their Lizardfolk servitors broke in to the tomb, they explored deep in to the complex and have been using it ever since as a hide-out, and of course making use of the Divination pool.

2) The Divination pool exacts a price for its use- in blood, the more it has been used the greater the price that has to be paid. The Yuan-ti, Ilda has observed on her spectral travels through the tomb, sacrifice humanoids (et al) which they capture in the Serpent Hills in order to make the Divination pool work. The implication being (which the PCs understand) is they too will have to sacrifice a sentient being in order to activate the device.

3) The pool allows the scryer to see past (or through) a variety of magical protections that would otherwise block the watcher.

4) The pool can also exact a high price on the scryer, several of the Yuan-ti, Ilda has observed, were rendered insane by the device, berserk style insane… so, there’s that.

Ilda completes her assessment of the situation.

However, the information gathering process does not run smoothly, between info point 2) and info point 3) Ilda notices that the PCs have been stealing from the tomb- to wit the silk robes and items taken from the ‘treasure vault’ (actually Diderius’ bedroom). She’s not happy- it gets fraught for a while, particularly when Sgt Bobby starts waving Hazirawn about.

Eventually Lummins and Watt (bad rolls from Lux) calm things down and we get to info point 3) and then 4) at which point things get twitchy again when Ilda starts screaming at the PCs to “Now, go and kill this wretched Dwarf- Varram”, and then starts yelling that the PCs should kill all of the other intruders, specifically the Yuan-ti. Basically, Ilda loses it…

Next stop however for the PCs is a snooze, but Ilda is insistent that they act now- remember she’s a crazy Ghost and the PCs represent her best chance (for centuries) of getting rid of the intruders.

In the end Watt prevents the fight from starting- the Bard roughly shoves the missing text- Transubstantiality across Potentialities, in to Ilda’s spectral hands, instinctively she grasps the book- and in that moment her spirit is finally laid to rest.

The PCs make camp where they are, set watch and settle down to investigate their new-found treasures, and of course to get a much-needed extended rest.

The tomb is deserted, not much (save the lone Troll, and the Yuan-ti- and I’m saving these for a rainy day) could stumble upon the encamped PCs, I’m speaking from a Wandering Monsters POV, so- the Brothers of the First Light rest easy.

Next session, well… more of the same.
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Awww...I rather liked Frottage.


I did too, it was semi-remarkable at the time, I came up with the names of the Devils in four seconds flat, they all introduced themselves of course- I think it was Watt the Bard (Jackie) that got me to make up their names on the spot, the Devils were a little put out that the PCs found their names so amusing.

They were incredibly polite throughout the chatter.

Cheers goonalan


We D&D.

Session #45 The Rise of Tiamat #04 Shot by Both Sides.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 8
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 8
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 8
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 8
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 8

Secondary PCs.
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 8
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 8
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 8

This is session #45 of our game, but only session #04 of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

The PCs are still in the tomb of Diderius the Diviner, they know all about Varram the White- he’s lost his Dragon mask and has come here to use the Divination pool to try and find it. They also know which direction the Dwarf and his followers went (and didn’t come back from). The Brothers are also aware that the Divination pool requires the sacrifice of a sentient being to use it (grisly, choices- do the PCs make such a sacrifice?) and that the device can drive the scryer insane- nice!

Rise and shine the PCs complete their extended rest, and then on with their adventure- and Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) is feeling much better today after playing with a Wraith last session.

First up however a division of the spoils garnered from Diderius’s bedroom- that’s a Ring of Poison Resistance attuned by Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter)- he’s the front line and possibly fighting Yuan-ti sometime soon, the PCs presume. This after Sgt Bobby stakes his claim to the item and delivers a short lecture on the Yuan-ti, in summary they’re a bunch of nasty (poisonous) bastards, like Drow- only with scales. There are also a couple of scrolls, taken by Lummins- both Protection from Energy. The silver ewer and matching goblets also turn out to be magical, although their use is unclear at present- Lux (Human Warlock) grabs the set.

Then, back to the chamber in which they encountered the Bearded Devils, paying the Throne Guardian en route (35gp collected so far). The Throne Guardian has been christened “Tolly” (Toll Booth) by Watt (Human Bard)- he’s a laugh-riot.

Then through the Devils former chamber, and cautiously on- Hotlips (Halfling Rogue), of course, leading the way, in to the Divination pool chamber. There’s a dead Dragon Cultist on the floor, and signs (perhaps) of a fight here. There are two pairs of stone double doors leading from the chamber- Hotlips determines that the southern doors are blocked- as per the pair of doors they found earlier in the tile Chimera chamber. The presumed collapse has effectively made the way in to this chamber all the more difficult (funny that) effectively blocking the short cut. No sound from the northern doors… they’re left alone for now, although not before the Halfling determines that they are neither trapped nor locked.

The rest of the chamber is searched, arrows are found- stone-tipped, with intricate snake-carvings on the arrow heads- these are the weapons of the Yuan-ti, its swords drawn and spells ready for the PCs. The Divination chamber (and pool) is swiftly forgotten- the Yuan-ti attackers came through the northern doors.

Ready… Sgt Bobby barges the portals open… and the Fighter stumbles in to a tomb.

Diderius’s tomb to be exact.

The (crazy) warrior approaches a sarcophagi situated in the raised centre of the chamber, on the walls of the room are frescoes of weird and wonderful humanoids- seemingly performing magics and rituals.

A feeling as much as a voice- the conscience of four of the PCs is suddenly pricked- ‘it would be disrespectful to disturb anything here- everything should remain as it is’, four of the PCs instinctively (they believe) sense.

Three (or four- depending on whether we’re counting PCs or Players) shout varieties of “DON’T!” at Sgt Bobby (that’s Pete).

Watt follows up with a gabbled explanation, basically- “don’t touch anything.” Sgt Bobby (now a team player) takes a step back, although still ready for action.

Watt, eventually, heads forward to examine the sarcophagi, as he climbs to the top step of the dais a voice booms out from within the stone coffin-

"You approach Diderius in repose. I know what you seek."

And then-

"Yuan-ti have taken the one called Varram beyond their portal in the northern wall. Be prepared, for I shall open the way to peril."

Diderius only gets to ‘the way’ when all five PCs (four Players) once again shout “DON’T!”, or else some variation on the theme.

There follows a slightly weird conversation in which the PCs queue up to shout at the sarcophagi, while- of course, Diderius within booms his replies.

For reasons of delight, and comedy, I even throw in a few “you’re going to have to speak up a bit”, and, “can you hear me now?”, from Diderius within his sealed tomb.

Oh, how we laughed.

Anyway, a fractured conversation with Diderius follows during which the PCs learn that there’s a secret door on the northern wall of the chamber (quickly found by Hotlips), and that beyond it lies the domain of the Yuan-ti. Diderius, as it happens, is as eager as Ilda the Ghost was for the PCs to clear out the scaly intruders.

The PCs are on full resources, Lummins hits the Bless spell and then he and his colleagues’ ready actions, finally Watt growls for Diderius to open the way…

Kick ass!

10 Diderius Lizardfolk.jpg

The concealed doors grind open to reveal a rough stone cavern passage guarded by two Lizardfolk (initially with their backs to the PCs), the passage leads on in to a small cavern chamber, there are more Lizardfolk there. Then it gets bloody- the Lizardfolk are caught flat-footed, Watt Shatters the first few, alas they all survive but the cavern continues to rumble and shudder throughout the rest of the action.

Sgt Bobby cuts down the nearest two wounded Lizardfolk, the second is cleanly decapitated (a terrible Crit) then runs on in to the newly revealed cavern chamber (with an Action Surge) and for good measure slices another of the Lizardfolk, miraculously it survives the experience. Hotlips follows the Fighter in- scurrying in to position the Halfling Rogue cuts down a third Lizardfolk warrior.

Lux and Lummins walk forward in to the newly revealed passageway, firing Eldritch Blasts and Sacred Flames, respectively- yet another Lizardfolk falls, only two (of the six) defenders are left alive.

Then, just as the Lizardfolk are about to start screaming for reinforcements, that bastard Sgt Bobby cuts the last two enemies down. That was the end of my six Lizardfolk- I didn’t even get to move one or else make an attack- my D20 (Initiative) is broken.

The chamber is taken, and without the alarm being raised- the PCs, cautiously, move on- or else Hotlips (briefly) takes a look ahead.

There’s a bridge, ten feet wide and sloping down- it looks slick and dangerous, although at present the span is home to a clutch more Lizardfolk (six more), the Halfling also spots (at least) one of the dreadful Yuan-ti (actually there are two Yuan-ti Malisons present). The bad guys have heard noises, obviously- they’re heading the PCs way. Hotlips scurries back to let his colleagues know.

11 Lizardfolk Bridge.jpg

The PCs don’t hang about, they unload- Watt strides down the stairs and unleashes an enhanced Thunderwave- one Lizardfolk is killed outright, another two and the nearest Yuan-ti are also injured. The force of the spell sends the injured trio stumbling backwards, remarkably none of them fall from the treacherous bridge.

Sgt Bobby arrives screaming and making threats- he chops the nearest Yuan-ti’s head off, ho-hum, it’s going to be one of those sessions.

Just for info a few weeks back I was conversing with my friend James, a fellow DM who has also played through the Tyranny of Dragons adventures. He asked me “What’s the nastiest thing in the adventure?”, I shrugged and replied- “Tiamat!” He shook his head and said- “Hazirawn, that bloody sword”. I know how he feels.

Seconds later Hotlips arrives on the scene and kills another one of the Lizardfolk.

At which point terrifying necrotic darkness stops play- or rather, Lux arrives and settles her Hunger of Hadar over the remaining enemies (I think she was feeling left out)- there is much screaming from within the caustic black bubble.

And remember the enemies are situated on a very slippery, sloping bridge- bathed in cold and acid, and of course- darkness. I said it wouldn’t be my day.

So here are the results for my remaining bad guys-
Lizardfolk #3 (#1 and #2 are already dead) hurt by cold, attempts to back away- falls off bridge- dead.
Lizardfolk #4 hurt by cold, burnt by acid- dead.
Lizardfolk #5 hurt by cold, attempts to flee- falls off bridge- dead.
Lizardfolk #6 hurt by cold, attempts to back away- very slowly, very cautiously- falls off bridge- dead.
Yuan-ti Malison #2 (#1 is already dead) hurt by cold- flees to go and tell his friends.

Yeah that’s right, when Lux calls an end to her Hungar of Hadar spell there’s only one dead Lizardfolk body on the bridge, so either the rest went over the side or else they got away. The PCs are unsure which.

Hotlips crosses the bridge- she very quickly discovers that it’s very dangerous (slippery), although Sgt Bobby strolls across right after her- no bother (thanks Pete, just for info DC 14 Dex save required- Pete rolls, with bonuses, exactly ‘14’, as he said at the time “easy”).

At which point the other three PCs are getting a bit fretful- “What happens if I fall off?” etc. Lux solves the problem by casting Fly on herself and Lummins, the pair then guide Watt (who makes the save easily anyway) across.

Lux even has the time to fly down to investigate the pit- it’s deep (approx. 100 feet) and full of snakes (actually Yuan-ti young) and the bodies of several Lizardfolk.

Sandy (playing Lux) really doesn’t like snakes- this is hard for her. The Yuan-ti, I predict, are going to suffer.

Meantime while the trio have been making their way across the bridge the escaped Yuan-ti Malison has found some friends. Sgt Bobby and Hotlips, who have gone a little ahead, spot more enemies on the way, unhappily (for them) the Yuan-ti and Lizardfolk spot them back.

We’re on again, and the fiendish DM decides to activate a few (we’ll see how many) Yuan-ti combat encounters at the same time, the call has gone out- defend the lair.

So, heading to the fight are another seven Lizardfolk, two more Malisons and a Pureblood.

12 Lizardfolk & Yuanti defence.jpg

Hotlips is hit by an arrow, and it hurts her- the poison on the missile packs a punch (thank heavens for her Stout Resilience). To make matters worse the closest Lizardfolk rush in to attack, seconds later another poisoned arrow snags the Halfling (with a Crit) only her Uncanny Dodge keeps her from unconsciousness (I’ve turned this situation around very quickly- go me!).

Hotlips disengages and gets the hell out of dodge- rushing to Watt’s side “heal me please”, she begs with her puppy dog eyes- while leaving Sgt Bobby to hold the fort. The Bard’s much enhanced Cure Wounds almost rubs away all of her hurt (Cure Wounds 4th Level = 8+8+7+7+5).

Lummins meantime conjures a Flaming Sphere in to the midst of the Lizardfolk, Sgt Bobby gets to work- the Fighter with Hazirawn cuts down two Lizardfolk and then retreats (yep- you read that right) to the stairs, forming a wall of steel with Lummins. Lux, flying still (although not very high, they’re in an 8-foot-high corridor) fires Eldritch Blasts in to her foes.

The Lizardfolk continue to press forward, a Malison herding them towards the PCs, the Yuan-ti Suggests to Lummins that Sgt Bobby is actually a Yuan-ti infiltrator- the Priest of Lathander is entirely unconvinced.

Hotlips, now hidden in the rear, fires a crossbow bolt through a Lizardfolk warrior’s face- it dies. Watt stays back and fires a maximum enhanced Shatter spell in to their attackers- two more Lizardfolk fall, there are only two left alive, and the three Yuan-ti leaders of course.

Lummins moves forward and directs his Flaming Sphere to roll forward down the passage, in to the remaining Lizardfolk and a Malison, he then fills the passage with his Radiance of the Dawn- both remaining Lizardfolk fall.

Sgt Bobby follows up- and cuts the Malison down, then rushes on and straight in to the Pureblood, who attempts to ward off the Fighter with a Poison Spray- no chance, Hazirawn leaves the snake woman almost dead.

Lux flies forward and slams a pair of Eldritch Blasts in to the Pureblood- dead.

So, time for me to get another encounter in here- I’m losing snake men all too quickly- and so, the retreating Malison wakes up the snake horrors (like Helmed Horrors) only suits of armour filled with swarms of snakes…

The first of the terrors comes thumping down the stairs out of the passage dead ahead of the PCs position.

13 Snake Horrors.jpg

Remarkably Lummins identifies the nature of the new enemy in seconds (I forget what Monster Knowledge style check I got him to make- he rolled a ‘20’) The Priest of Lathander is taking no chances- he attempts to pepper the beast with his fiery missiles (Scorching Rays) but only lands one hit. The Priest also rolls his Flaming Sphere in to the new enemy.

Sgt Bobby gets in to action, and a miss even with a dollop of Bardic Inspiration, he makes up for the poorly aimed attack with a Crit, the snake-filled Helmed Horrors are resistant to Necrotic damage, however the creature is still bloodied.

At which point the second snake-filled Helmed Horror stomps down the stairs and Crits Sgt Bobby back (for max damage = 20) and with a little extra poison damage for good measure, and then hits again (without the Crit this time).

A Yuan-ti Malison appears at the top of the stairs ahead of the PCs and starts up with the artillery- poisoned arrows, but keeps missing.

There’s consternation in the PC ranks, they need to get past the Helmed Horrors quickly and to the archer.

Hotlips steps in and with added Sneak Attack leaves the first Helmed Horror teetering on the brink (on 1 HP).

Watt hits the pair with a Shatter spell- the creatures’ innate magic resistance deflects much of the pain but the first Helmed Horror falls.

Lummins gets to Sgt Bobby with a much-enhanced Cure Wounds, the Fighter is out front- as always- soaking up the hurt. The Priest also dismisses his Flaming Sphere, the fiery ball has so far inflicted exactly zero damage to any of the enemies. Sgt Bobby also gets his Second Wind, and then continues hacking at the last Helmed Horror.

The last Helmed Horror is happy to go toe-to-toe, it continues to slice the Fighter back.

The flying Lux meantime misses with her fifth Eldritch Blast in a row.

It’s Sandy’s turn to be the sweary angry Player this session.

The Yuan-ti Malison at the top of the stairs at last manages to sink a poisoned arrow in to Sgt Bobby’s, it would have tagged him again but for Lummins’ Warding Flare.

Big bad Sgt B is leaking hit points fast.

Hotlips Crits the last snake-filled Helmed Horror standing, and with extra Sneak Attack, but its with her off-hand non magical dagger- the thing just keeps on fighting, although seconds later Watt thuds an arrow in to the beast- it totters.

Lummins attempts to spread a little Faerie Fire around, the bad guys make their saves- the Players are getting a little more angsty- if Sgt Bobby goes down (and he’s getting close) then the soft-underbelly is exposed.

Sgt Bobby slashes the last Helmed Horror again, and still it stands- it cuts back- twice (Warding Flare fails to save the Fighter) and now both Sgt Bobby and the Horror are on less than five hit points.

Hotlips to the rescue- the Halfling cuts the Helmed Horror down, the Yuan-ti Malison at the top of the stairs skedaddles sharpish- off to tell the big boss.

However, not before sowing a little confusion in the crowd- Sgt Bobby succumbs to the Malison’s Suggestion- the warrior now believes that Hotlips is a Yuan-ti infiltrator.

The Fighter lets his colleagues (surreptitiously) know what’s going on when he starts shouting and screaming that the Halfling is a “Yuan-ti fiend”, then he almost cuts Hotlips in half (bloodied in an instant).

Hotlips gets away from Sgt Bobby.

Watt with a great Arcana roll figures out what’s going on, and the cure. The Bard fires an arrow in to Sgt Bobby’s back- and a Crit (for 15 damage) and the Fighter drops. Although now (after a Save) he's no longer subject to the Yuan-ti’s Suggestion.

Oh, how we laughed.

Even Pete (Sgt Bobby).

The Bard however isn’t finished, he moves forward and spots the fleeing Yuan-ti Malison, then sinks an arrow in to its back.

Lummins fires a much-enhanced Cure Wounds in to Sgt Bobby and then joins the pursuit of the last Yuan-ti.

The chase continues through several chambers, Sgt Bobby (still on low-low hit points) in the meantime scrambles to his feet- grabs up Hazirawn and heads off in a different direction to all of his colleagues, Pete states he’s going to ‘get ahead’ of the Yuan-ti.

More remarkably he achieves his aim, the last Yuan-ti Malison (about two turns later) opens a door only to find the Fighter closing in on the spot, seconds later Sgt B Crits the creature, and then for good measure repeats the feat- double Crit for a total of 75 damage, it dies.

The fight is over, and the Players are giggling like loons.

Pete, or as he is now known- NEW Pete, even has time to compliment his wife (playing Watt the Bard) on her shooting- nice work.

And that, apart from the sharing of XP (although we’re using milestones and the PCs have more or less give up on ‘spending’ their XP), is the end of the session- great work, and the only Yuan-ti left in the complex are the guards in the Hatchery, and the mob in last scene finale in the Temple.

That last fight was five encounters in to one, and took over two hours to play-through, although in all honesty we’re a very relaxed bunch- there are lots of questions and/or observations between declarations of actions and subsequent die rolls.

More next time.

The Players are kicking back and killing stuff- nice and relaxed, lots of fun- why can’t it always be this way?


We D&D.

Session #46 The Rise of Tiamat #05a Varram the White

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 8
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 8
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 8
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 8
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 8

Secondary PCs.
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 8
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 8
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 8

This is session #46 of our game, but only session #05 of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

The PCs have just survived a sustained attack by a minor horde of Yuan-ti and their Lizardfolk servitors- last count 19 Lizardfolk, three Yuan-ti Malison, a Yuan-ti Pureblood and two Snake-filled Helmed Horrors met their makers in the rolling fracas which took up over three-quarters of the last session.

In return Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) mostly thanks to Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter), and Sgt Bobby (several times) took a beating- Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) pumping Cure Wounds in to the Fighter every other turn to keep him (and Hazirawn) in the melee.

The PCs do a little light searching about, and then choose to camp out in the corridor on this side of the bridge- they have good sight lines and are in need of a short rest (particularly Sgt B & Hotlips, although Lux (Human Warlock) also wants her spells back).

In truth I’ve not got many Yuan-ti left to play with in the complex, there’s a guard or two in the Hatchery, and the set-piece ending in the Temple. Let them have sandwiches (and spend their HD), I think in all honesty we’re more or less done here.

Oh, but just to note the shrine in the meditation chamber, former home to snake-filled Helmed Horrors, gives up its treasures- although Sgt Bobby has to lift Hotlips up to get at the large gems set in the eyes of the statues of Yuan-ti deities there.

Later, after their rest, the PCs discover the Hatchery, basically a twenty-foot-deep pit containing thousands of young Yuan-ti, and several enemy nursemaids (three Purebloods, an Abomination and the Yuan-ti young the equivalent of a Snake Swarm). Hotlips discovers the place during a minor sneak-about, she tells her friends. I set the PCs a Stealth DC 12 check- no failures allowed, to sneak back in to the place, all PCs succeed at the check (except for Sgt Bobby- who magnanimously chooses not to make the attempt)- and, it’s open season.

14 Hatchery.jpg

After the smoke clears and the rumbling stops (Watt (Human Bard) = Shatter, Lux = 2x Eldritch Blast & Lummins = Fireball!) the Snake Swarm is dead, as is one of the Purebloods, the other two Purebloods are also bloodied, but the Abomination is still healthy-ish.

The Abomination slithers up and out of the pit and then barges its way past Watt & Lux in search of the exit, the Bard slices the fleeing beast with his rapier (and a Crit).

Seconds later Watt is in pursuit of the massive snake-thing, alas his Hypnotic Pattern has no effect on the Yuan-ti.

The Purebloods in the pit try to lure Lummins and Hotlips down to play with them (with Suggestions)- alas neither is up for the game (they both make their saves).

Lummins heads off after the Abomination- it’s getting away, he fires a trio of Scorching Rays in to the beast (all hits). Hotlips follows on and tags it with her crossbow and then, at last, Sgt Bobby catches up with the action- Hazirawn to the fore, soon after the Abomination is dead.

The PCs have however all run off and left the Purebloods alone and unguarded in the Hatchery, the pair therefore climb out and head in to action- attacking the rear of the PCs. One hangs back and opens up with her bow- all misses alas, the other rushes forward and slices Hotlips- two Eldritch Blasts later and the melee attacker is dead.

The Pureblood archer is eventually plugged by Watt, the Yuan-ti dies in the exchange of fire.

Job done.

After more sustained giggling by the Players, they love slaughtering stuff- who doesn’t, and a little light healing (mostly Potions- the casters are almost out of spells) the PCs move on… there’s only one place left to visit- the Yuan-ti Temple.

The heart of the Yuan-ti settlement, a huge chamber with giant stone serpents along the east and west walls, the open mouths of the statue snakes spew guttering green flames.

The leaders of the Yuan-ti are here and arrayed before the PCs in all of their fine snake-regalia- that’s three Purebloods, three Malison (one escaped from an earlier encounter) and the Yuan-ti Abomination priestess.

Bound before the Yuan-ti’s vile altar is a portly (sweary, although gagged) Dwarf- Varram the White, the despicable Dragon Cultist.

Watt, Lummins and Lux head in to chat mode, Pete (I mean Sgt Bobby) keeps Hazirawn drawn- although in truth no-one wants a fight, the PCs are low on spells and Sgt Bobby is still bloodied- Hotlips is also down a few hit points. The Yuan-ti know how tough the PCs are- they wouldn’t be here otherwise.

It’s deal time- and quickly thrashed out.

15 Yuanti Temple.jpg

The Abomination priestess is happy for the PCs to take Varram, the only proviso being the Brothers of the First Light need to head back out the way they and came and swear never to return- like, right now.

Deal done.

Even Sgt Bobby is on board with that!

Varram is grabbed, examined briefly to make sure he’s the real deal- he is, and then the PCs turn tail and troop all the way back out the tomb- paying Tolly another 5gp on the way out.

The tile Chimera in the first chamber has still not regenerated, and the PCs don’t need the Divination pool (just yet- maybe) they’ve got Varram. The plan is to head out in to the ruins and then have a little friendly chat with the nasty Dwarf.

Varram, ungagged is particularly foul-mouthed (mainly because I like swearing in a Scottish accent) in the end Sgt Bobby punches the little freak unconscious- classy.

The PCs emerge in to the semi-light, it’s getting dark, and walk in to an ambush- half of the Brothers of the First Light are down the ladder from the cavern mouth when they notice there’s a reception committee waiting for them. Or else, the reception committee emerges from hiding and makes itself seen and heard.

Here’s the thing, the PCs have taken a beating (some of them)- they’re low on spells (I may have mentioned this already) so, I thought why not. I took one of the groups from the additional encounters in the module- Monstrous Uprising and jazzed it up a little- added a few extra bodies but more importantly maxed all the bad guy’s hit points.

Y’know, for kicks.

So, Cremmolate, the Half-Red Dragon Veteran, steps forward and demands the return of Varram the White, the Dwarf awakes from his enforced slumber to grin and gurn (and swear) at Sgt Bobby. The Fighter punches Varram out cold again.

Which doesn’t make Cremmolate happy at all.

There are 24 Kobolds, arranged in bunches surrounding the tomb’s exit- each ‘bunch’ is led by a Lizardfolk- with a few more Lizardfolk guarding Cremmolate (ten Lizardfolk in total- and remember there’ll all max hit points).

Anyway, the chatter only goes on a short while- the Brothers are a little worried about the numbers of bad guys but, they’re not going to hand over Varram. Basically, Sgt Bobby gets the nod- so the conversation circles for a short while until Sgt B is in range of Cremmolate, then it kicks off.

16 Ambush.jpg

Sgt Bobby (who keeps rolling ‘20’ for Initiative) rushes in to action swinging mightily with Hazirawn- his target Cremmolate, the Half-Red Dragon Vet of course, he misses three times in a row (that’s a wasted Action Surge- right there). Pete is hurting bad.

To make matters worse several of the Kobolds start up with their slings- Sgt Bobby takes a hit- and then another.

There’s laughter in the ranks, my but we’re all playing very nicely this evening.

Watt drops an enhanced Shatter in to the closest batch of Kobolds- five dead, and their Lizardfolk minder is hurting too.

Lummins drops a Fireball in the middle of the largest concentration of bad people- more Kobolds die, as does a Lizardfolk- several more are left badly wounded, the Priest of Lathander spends his Inspiration Point and gets the Bless spell going.

Sgt Bobby gets hit some more, including whacked in the face by a Lizardfolk warrior’s shield, meantime Hotlips hits Cremmolate with her assassination attack (and for 44 damage- that hurt bad).

Lummins gets stabbed, and then thwacked (a Crit) by a different Lizardfolk warrior’s shield attack.

And then… and then… Lux, still up the ladder- observing her colleagues fighting below… and then… the Warlock drops a Hunger of Hadar pretty much in the same spot Lummins’ Fireball landed.

There’s a whole lot of screaming going on, but not from Cremmolate- who steps out of the inky black bubble of doom and unleashes his fiery Breath Weapon on Sgt Bobby and Hotlips. Sgt B takes the full hit, and is bloodied in an instant, while Hotlips with her Evasion skill manages to avoid all of the flaming terror (she hides behind the statue like Sgt Bobby).

Sgt B’s not having that, a hit followed swiftly by a Crit later and Cremmolate is dead already.

Which wasn’t part of my plan.

Cremmolate had 120 hit points (or thereabouts) and an AC of 20 or so.


The Kobolds try really, really hard… Lummins takes a sling shot to the noggin (head), Hotlips is stabbed in the gut.

Sgt Bobby (now a screaming fury- Pete is acting out the part) cuts down the first two Lizardfolk that manage to escape from the Hunger of Hadar- he also gets his Second Wind.

This is a massacre.

Ooops! Too soon.

Watt fires a Shatter spell in to another clutch of slinging Kobolds- six of them are killed in an instant, the Bard has one spell left (Level 1).

Ooops! Way too soon.

Lummins strides in to the largest concentration of enemies (taking five AoO en route- all misses) positioning himself just outside of the Hunger of Hadar bubble. He fires up his Radiance of the Dawn- the holy light dispels the inky black terror (because that gives me a tiny chance to inflict a little more hurt on the PCs). However, the radiant burn also accounts for another seven Kobolds and one more of the Lizardfolk.

Now we’re really in to massacre territory.

Hotlips kills another Lizardfolk, Watt offs a Kobold- Lux manages to kill two more with her Eldritch Blasts from up on high.

Bravely all the bad guys left standing attempt to flee the scene… they run screaming.

It’s a duck shoot.

Albeit briefly, there are only four bad guys left alive- four Lizardfolk.

Sgt Bobby goes running after the nearest badly wounded Lizardfolk, and seconds later Crits it dead.

Watt grabs out his bow- Crits another- dead, and then another- Crit- dead. That’s right three Crits in a row.

There’s one surviving Lizardfolk just about to make it to safety- y’know, off the map- Lummins goes in pursuit (because now it has become a game for the Players- can they kill ALL of the DMs bad guys- no survivors). Anyway, where was I- Lummins goes in pursuit, he gets close enough and slams a Sacred Flames in to the poor bastard’s back. Hotlips wings it with her crossbow, and the icing on the cake- Lux’s (Crit) Eldritch Blast causes the last guys head to just ‘pop’.


Do you do that in your games? Allow the Player that delivers the killing blow to say just how the bad guy gets it?

Soon after the PCs have done checking the fallen (and giggling- there’s been a lot of that this session), there’s little to find except for some random coins and gems on the Half-Red Dragon Veteran, Cremmolate.

The PCs head back to their camp in the ruins, a little later they decide to clear away bodies of the fallen- not wanting to attract more attention to themselves. They settle in for the night- this after taking a few hours to find out what Varram the White knows, which in summary is this (note the collective PC thoughts/reactions appear in parenthesis)-

1) The Dragon Cult is going to attempt to summon Tiamat to the Forgotten Realms (nobody is shocked to learn this).

2) There are five ritual masks- Red, Blue, Black, Green and White, all are needed for the summoning to work (yep, thought as much).

3) Severin is the leader of the Cult- he wears the Red mask (yep, we know this).

4) Rezmir wears the Black mask (ahem- well, he did- Varram it seems is a little out the loop).

5) Varram wore the White mask- until he lost it (How did he lose it?).

6) Varram thinks the mask was stolen- possibly by an extraplanar being (favourite is a Demon or a Devil- interesting?).

7) Galvan wears the Blue mask (that’s a new piece of info).

8) The Red Wizards of Thay are helping out with powering the ritual somehow (the PCs obviously ask why the Red Wizards would do this- Varram just shrugs).

Of course, Varram doesn’t just tell the PCs all of the above, mostly the info is extracted via the silver-tongues of the chatty trio- Watt, Lux and Lummins; although Sgt Bobby also gets to play ‘bad cop’ once or twice.

There follows a medium sized debate- not the long and winding stuff (mostly bickering) we’re used to, but also not just a five-minute affair- basically the PCs (and Players) spitball for around half-an-hour (while eating Pizza, natch- we seem to always order Pizza).

The theme of this particular tune is do they head back in to the Tomb of Diderius and make use of the Divination pool to discover the location of the missing White Dragon mask?

Obviously, there are a number of problems with the plan, as enunciated around the table at the time-

a) The PCs are probably going to have to fight the tile Chimera again, and nobody is keen to do this, not even Sgt B.

b) They promised the Yuan-ti they wouldn’t head back in to the tomb. Meh- actually none of the PCs have a problem with this, consensus is ‘screw the Yuan-ti’. DM Interlude- I will of course double the numbers of the Yuan-ti left in the lair (and max their HP) in an attempt to put a crimp in this plan (and for dissing my snakey bad guys).

c) The PCs will have to make a sacrifice to activate the Divination pool, actually the only PC that has a problem with this is Lummins- on religious grounds. The previous statement makes more sense when you know that the sacrifice is obviously going to be the foul-mouthed Dwarf- Varram the White.

So, we circle for a while.

Then, finally, the decision gets made, which is- nah, let’s leave this place with Varram the White, get back to Waterdeep on board the Lighthouse, and see what the grown-ups have to say.

Watt puts it best- “if they want to sacrifice someone to find out where the White mask is then let them do it themselves…” Very sensible.

Less sensible follows-

The PCs head off back to Boareskyr Bridge.

After two days trekking through the Serpent Hills- with no new encounters (done RAW) the PCs (although mostly Lummins) remember that they have access to the Sending spell, the Priest of Lathander therefore messages Blagothkus the Cloud Giant. They provide the big guy with directions to their present location, and less than half-a-day later they’re back aboard the flying ice castle- the Lighthouse. Next stop Waterdeep.

If only they had remembered to do this earlier.

But before we get to Waterdeep it’s time to level up- that’s right, the PCs are now Level 9.

Then… well, the time just flew by (around the table)- or else we dithered for a good long while (over the Pizza). Also, I wasn’t keen to have the PCs just dash back to Waterdeep and then charge in to the next part of the adventure. I don’t want to set the pace too fast at the beginning of this module- a bit of slow burn. Things are happening with the burgeoning Dragon Cult but it’s not an overnight plan, it’s going to build for a while yet.

So, the Players levelled up their guys, and then with five days aboard the Lighthouse en route to Waterdeep, and then an extra bit of downtime back in the City of Splendors. Time for a little ‘me’ time for the Brothers of First Light between adventures.

That however comes in the second part of this session, only a short downtime interlude.

See you there.
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We D&D.

Session #46 The Rise of Tiamat #05b Downtime in Waterdeep & the Lighthouse

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 9
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 9
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 9
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 9
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 9

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

This is session #46 of our game, but only session #05b of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

The PCs have recovered Varram the White from the Tomb of Diderius, the Dragon Cultist Dwarf has lost his White Dragon mask- possibly stolen by an extraplanar creature- favourite is either a Devil or a Demon.

The PCs are back in Waterdeep- I wanted the adventure at the beginning to be less hectic, not too fast-paced, we’ll get to that later when it’s encounter after encounter.

And so, we decided to have two-and-a-half tenday’s worth of downtime activities (that’s 25 days for those bad at maths- five days on the Lighthouse returning to Waterdeep, and twenty days in the city) for each PC.

Oh, but just to note Varram the White is, of course, handed over to the proper authorities- the Harpers as it happens.

And so, for this series of activities the rules are the PCs can make a maximum of five (mostly different) skill checks during their downtime (with associated roleplaying), each skill check (success or failure) will allow the PC/Player (and me, your glorious DM) to craft a little more of their story.

We started these activities in the session but continued with several of them via e-mail, they got complicated in places- and some folk were less keen to divulge their secrets (you’ll see below).

It went a little like this-

Lady Violet Spoon.

Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) decides to make a new persona for herself, this in light of her new Level 9 Rogue feature- Infiltration Expertise, and so Lady Violet Spoon, young(-ish) dashing and beautiful, the debutante Halfling heiress to the Spoon fortune (her family hold the patent for the spoon) is created. Hotlip’s downtime (in Waterdeep) is spent, well… spending madly on new clothes and the finer things in life. Lady Spoon with her rugged Ogre bodyguard (Gary) attempts (rather well- but see below) to inveigle themselves in to the various parties and soirees of the gentry of Waterdeep. The city is in flux of course, the terrible non-sound keeps… well, not-sounding (the Draakhorn). Hotlips did a little Investigating for her new persona, and then got on with a few mostly social skills checks to see how well her subterfuge plays. The answer is badly, but… and this is a big- but, the younger members of the moneyed set in Waterdeep are happy to play along- if Hotlips Houlihan wants to pretend to be Lady Violet Spoon, then… why not? Remember Hotlips, during her last downtime, had already got herself noticed by being squired around the city by Gary the Ogre, she also has a habit (exhibited even in game) of talking about herself a) all of the time, and b) in glowing terms- all of the time. So, the Infiltration Expertise experience is not a roaring success, but Hotlips has a great time of it anyway, and she and Gary are extended open invitations to any future highborn social events.

That’s it- no investigations of Cult activities for the Halfling Rogue, just a whirl of social engagements.

Watt Detective Work.

Watt (Human Bard) spends his downtime in Waterdeep finding things out, have you noticed that Jackie (playing Watt) has started taking the lead more often- we have around the gaming table. So, Jackie/Watt is quite obviously in to this (this being D&D) she’s determined to do better (her words) in this the second half of the adventure.

Watt goes detecting- back under cover, as a Dragon Cultist of course, and he does indeed find things out- including the location of a large cell of active (scratch that- fervent) Cultists with a base in the Waterdeep sewers (ain’t it always the way). He also learns the names of a couple of the leader types and even snakes his way in to the lower echelons of the management committee- as a scribe, no less.

Me and Jackie continue with Watt’s downtime adventures via e-mail, I’ll not say too much for now because… well, the PCs are now going to be visiting with the Dragon Cultists in the sewers, in a later encounter.

That’s enough for now- except to say the Cultists in Waterdeep are really starting to act up- they’re armed and ready for insurrection.

Oh, and Watt gets promoted.

Harper Rank 3 = Brightcandle (Stalwart).

Lux Burns the Candle at both ends- as usual.

As previously Lux (Human Warlock) spends her downtime in pursuit of more power and/or information for herself, in particular the Warlock choses to investigate the extraplanar powers which may (or may not) have been involved in stealing the White Dragon mask from Varram the White.

A combination of sources of information are put to the test by Lux- the Harpers (she plays them like a fiddle), the Black Network (the Zhent are very keen to help, and to gather more information), the Church of Lathander (she’s a worshipper, remember) and of course Lux’s own shadowy Undying patron. All sources are enquired of…

The result of Lux’s networking is a single name- Lord Volmer, a Bone Devil diplomat. Lord V is happy to meet with Lux at some point in the near future, at a place and a time of her choosing, to this end the Warlock is given access to Fast Eddie (an Imp messenger-boy) who sets up home in Lux’s room on the Lighthouse.

Lux is very happy.

The DM is happier still- I worked this story very well to get the Bone Devil from the Devilish Demands encounter in to play.

Note, Lux also tried to contact Sandesyl, the Dracolich obsessed Cult Vampire she (sorta) befriended in the last adventure, this through agents of the Black Network- alas the Vampire is otherwise engaged (but she’ll be back later). In translation Lux rolled low on this particular check.

More of Lord Volmer later.

Sgt Bobby’s goes Airborne.


Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) spends his entire downtime period learning how to ride the Wyverns that are stabled on the Lighthouse. Actually, that’s what he tries to do- but there’s no-one about to help him, and he doesn’t think to ask around elsewhere (like in Waterdeep, Pete!). So, he struggles with it- at the end of the downtime the Fighter can cling-on to the flying beasts okay, but he’s not cracked the steering lark. The Wyverns are of course suitably terrified of the big feller (his Intimidate and Athletics checks to boss the beasts about are all high). It’s a shame his Handle Animal (et al) checks are so bad- he doesn’t manage to break a ‘10’.

So, more of the same during a later patch of downtime for Sgt B, he’s not got the swing of things yet- but a great idea from the big guy.

Lummins, Master of the Lighthouse.

The Priest of Lathander, the Cloud Giant couples’ new best friend, spends the entire twenty-five days continuing to gain mastery of the flying ice castle. Simple as, and success.

He also locates and employs a clutch of Gnomes in Waterdeep to fit the Farseer of Illusk on to the top level of the newly constructed ice tower, built by the two Stone Giants (Wiglof & Hulda) in conjunction with Blagothkus.

Rob (who plays Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric)) actually spent the last forty or so minutes of the session ‘re-doing’ (his word) all of his spells- basically sorting through them again to check what he’s got and what he’s going to need in the future.

It’s kinda daunting the number of spell choices the Cleric has to make.

So, Lummins masters all of the skills of the Lighthouse, and the Farseer is fitted- and can now be used to pinpoint activity on the surface, even from up high- which will in due course prove very handy.

That then is the end of the session (and the extended e-mails), and very neatly done- downtime over and the PCs are ready for their next adventure, which is fortunate really- because here it comes… next time.
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We D&D.

Session #47 The Rise of Tiamat #06a Sgt Bobby vs Orcaheart- Lummins FTW.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 9
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 9
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 9
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 9
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 9

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

This is session #47 of our game, but only session #06a of The Rise of Tiamat scenario, this session is in two parts because… well, we went on and on- with the chatter, read on and you’ll find out why.

So, back in Waterdeep- downtime activity done, and the PCs are gathered together for a meeting with various members of the Harpers- Leosin Erlanthar (the rescued Monk) is of course present to guide the PCs through proceedings. The Brothers of the First Light are also introduced to Lady Dala Silmerhelve, a Winterhaven noble with a degree of expertise. She starts the briefing-

“The disturbance that's been sensed across the Sword Coast is the Draakhorn- an ancient device whose sounding alerts dragons across Faerun that great events are unfolding. It's impossible to say what the sounding means, but the dragons hear it clearly and will eventually answer its call.”

That’s not good.

Lady Silmerhelve continues-

“The Sea of Moving Ice was the last known location of the Draakhorn. No one can pinpoint its present location from the sound, or even verify with certainty that the relic is still in the northern sea, but the search must start there. The one person who could tell us more is a Tiefling Sorcerer called Maccath the Crimson. No one alive knows more about the Draakhorn than her, but the Arcane Brotherhood, of which she is also a member, hasn't seen her for three years. She was investigating the Sea of Moving Ice when she disappeared.”

The PCs have a few questions, Silmerhelve goes on to explain that the Arcane Brotherhood are a league of mages based in the city of Luskan, at the fabled Hosttower of the Arcane.

Maccath then is a high-ranking mage who specialised in the study of Dragon-kind, and reportedly after exhausting the resources of the Hosttower set sail to investigate Dragons and their lore first hand.

To that end she sailed north, in to the aforementioned Sea of Moving Ice, in search of an ancient White Dragon known as ‘Old White Death’.

The PCs questions done Lady Silmerhelve continues-

“Maccath reported her progress to the Hosttower by way of Sending spells. Her last report spoke of seeing Ice Hunters paddling their sealskin boats toward a huge iceberg, flattened like a plateau across its surface, but ringed by icy peaks. She had intended to follow the Ice Hunters and investigate the iceberg. After that, no more reports came. Attempts to find Maccath using scrying and other magical means located only her ship, adrift and heavily damaged. Some of the ship's crew were seen dead, but no sign of the Tiefling Sorcerer was ever found. However, the lair of an ancient White Dragon would no doubt be protected against scrying magic. If Maccath is alive, in addition to the lore she can share regarding the Draakhorn, the Arcane Brotherhood would be most grateful to get her back.”

Any more questions?

As it turns out no, the PCs are revved up and ready to depart- although first a little shopping for clothing and equipment for their time in the Sea of Moving Ice, basically foul-weather/cold wear (including snowshoes, but not crampons).

Then a look at Frostskimmer, a rigged-out and crewed longship which is on standby to take the PCs north- alas the offer of Frostskimmer doesn’t cut any ice with the Brothers, they’re taking the Lighthouse. There’s a brief bit of chatter when questions are asked as to whether they can lift the Frostskimmer out of the water and lodge it in to the lower caverns of the flying ice castle- but the project would take far too long to achieve. Note the PCs are now working the Lighthouse in to their version of Tracy Island (of Thunderbirds fame).

Later the same day the Lighthouse departs, heading towards the freezing north. The kindly DM has no problem with this- why not.

It takes the best part of seven days for the flying ice castle to travel six hundred miles to the Sea of Moving Ice- at which point an around-the-clock watch is sorted out for the Farseer of Illusk, the Brothers are going to attempt to spot the odd-looking ice berg, and/or the Ice Hunters from the air.

Remarkably on their first day in the region (and this is done RAW, of course) Lux (Human Warlock) at the Farseer spots a small group of half-a-dozen fishing boats (actually hide canoes). The boats are inhabited by fur wearing humanoids- the Farseer is not powerful enough to make out details, that is until the Lighthouse descends (covered by a cloud bank) to take a closer look.

The fishermen fish, Lux (after chatter with Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric)) decides to keep observing the group- her patience pays off, about six hours later the fisherfolk head for home with their catch- the light is still good, it usually is in the far north.

The canoes return to a mountain-ringed flat-middled massive ice berg, in the centre of the plateau is clearly located a clutch of lodges and many more tents and igloos.

The PCs discover Oyaviggaton on their first day of searching, and again, this was RAW, with no bonuses for using the Farseer.

No time like the present, the Lighthouse begins to spew out its snowstorm (with thunder and lightning extras) and then descends to drop the away team- the Brothers of the First Light, all swaddled in furs.

The Lighthouse, of course, ascends again in to the heavens to watch and wait.

An hour or so later, with the storm now spent, the PCs (fresh as daisies, in their snowshoes- no Exhaustion) tramp in to the outer reaches of the Ice Hunters settlement, spotting first a row of preserved bodies- frozen in ice. Watt (Human Bard) and Lux investigate- best guess several of these fine folks were from the south, although... perhaps the people are a little less than friendly around here.

Soon after the Brothers are met, initially by a clutch of Ice Hunter guards.

Things are tense for a while- particularly as the two groups have no common language.

The Ice Hunter guards are quickly out of their depth, at which point Barking Seal (the Chieftain), Bonecarver (the Shaman) and Orcaheart (the Village Champion) and a dozen other warriors and assorted onlookers come to see what’s going on.

Note, the PCs initially have no idea what the Ice Hunter guards are saying (in Uluik)- Lummins however quickly solves the problem with a Tongues spell when the Shaman turns up. Point of fact the two leader types- Barking Seal and Bonecarver, it very soon becomes apparent, are not at all pleased to see the PCs.

Watt, the Bard, starts the chatter by explaining that he and his colleagues are “Sky Gods come to talk with the Tiefling Sorcerer called Maccath who lairs here.”

It gets tetchy for a while but the three chatterboxes (and some great skill checks) are enough to calm the situation. The Ice Hunters however continue to claim that they have no idea who Maccath the Crimson is, and when the Brothers go on to ask about the ancient White Dragon- Old White Death, the pair simply state that the Dragon died many years past.

The conversation circles for a while, with Barking Seal and Bonecarver taking it in turns to get frustrated and yell (every now and then) at the PCs to “leave now or suffer the consequences.” After nearly thirty minutes of roleplay- back and forth, the PCs are no more forward with the endeavour.

At which point Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) draws Hazirawn and starts making threats (through a translator), the tetchiness increases- particularly when Orcaheart (the Tribal Champion- seven feet tall and big with it) stomps forward and starts grunting back at the warrior.

Eventually a deal (sorta) is done- the two champions will fight, if Orcaheart wins then he claims Sgt Bobby’s belongings- and the Brothers of the First Light have to clear off and leave the Ice Hunters in peace. If Sgt Bobby wins then the Brothers will be allowed shelter and food, and in the morning (this is all happening on a crisp and clear night) Bonecarver and Barking Seal will answer all of their questions.

It's the best deal they’re going to cut, and Sgt Bobby (Pete) is up for it.

My poor Orcaheart, he doesn’t know what’s about to hit him, or should that be poor Sgt Bobby… we will see, the diabolic DM (who me?) has a few surprises yet.

Note the fight is until ‘last blood’, which means there’s no killing blow but one combatant or the other needs to be rendered unconscious.

Then, however Bonecarver (the Shaman) insists that the contest be without magic- the Shaman with a few spells of his own detects that Hazirawn is indeed a magical blade, and that Sgt Bobby also wears a ring with mystical powers (actually Resist Poison). So, the rules are no magic, no healing allowed- just brute strength and toughness.


This new turn of events leaves the PCs a little unsure of how to play it, except for Sgt Bobby of course who swiftly states that he’s up for the challenge.

And so, it comes to pass…

17 Orcaheart.jpg

Oh, and just to say I maxed Orcahearts hit points- I am a very bad man.

The violent pair circle each other for a while, Sgt Bobby goes to attack but the crowd begin to boo and hiss- what’s this? The crowd close in- jabbering and pointing furiously at Sgt Bobby, the melee comes to a grinding halt.

Bonecarver (the Shaman) quickly explains- the fight starts with insults- “What now?” is Sgt B’s (Pete’s) reply. The Shaman explains the Ice Hunter way- basically, in the first three rounds each combatant offers insult to the other, the winner of this opening tirade gains favour from the gods and may make the first attack (game terms- gets Initiative, and gains an Inspiration Point to use in this fight only).

Sgt Bobby is of course up for this too- he’s not a wordy fellow but he’s got pretty much all of the insults and associated swear words covered (believe me).

I won’t bore you with the round-by-round swear-off, only the highlights- Orcaheart offers non-pithy comments for two rounds, and then comes out with the most profound of swear-sults for his third attempt. He compares Sgt Bobby to ‘a fatted sea cow (sea lion, probably) with shrivelled dugs (old wrinkled breasts) which bleats in terror as the ice master approaches with its massively engorged flesh harpoon’ (err… in translation- you’re fu…). Which gets a laugh.

Sgt Bobby, in reply, makes ribald remarks of a delicate nature, making mention of Orcaheart’s obesity and probable learning difficulties, the Fighter also touches on the big lad’s parentage.

Sgt Bobby gets a +2 on his Intimidate roll, I get +2 and Advantage- bonuses as adjudicated by the other Players around the table (thanks folks).

Orcaheart (that’s me) rolls a ‘2’ & a ‘3’, Sgt Bobby rolls a ‘20’.

It is rarely fair- the D20 lieth nearly all of the time- or so, it seems to me.

The crowd go wild for Sgt B, Orcaheart insists that the excess weight he is carrying is due to his- a) ‘big bones’, b) a glandular condition, and c) his slow metabolism, all of which contribute to his difficulty keeping trim.

Lummins keeps translating all the chatter.

And so, to the fight proper… and we’ll go round-by-round because, well… you’ll see.

Sgt Bobby gets in the first cut but then manages to miss with his next two attacks (and that’s his Action Surge spent, already). Orcaheart swats and swipes (shield and spear combo) but fails to connect. The big Ice Hunter feller has got three attacks it seems, that’s a slight worry.

Sgt Bobby slices a deep gouge in Orcaheart’s thigh (a Crit- but remember this is a plain old longsword Sgt B is fighting with- not Hazirawn), and yet still the Ice Hunter Champion, seemingly unconcerned, continues swatting and missing.

To make matters worse (for me) Bobby finds the sweet spot yet again- another Crit, and Pete is loving this by the way- sans magic, it’s all Sgt Bobby’s beef that is winning the day.

Orcaheart keeps on swinging and missing- three attacks as usual, and my highest roll is a ‘4’.

Them dice!

First blood, and the early rounds, to Sgt B.

Sgt Bobby hits again, and the Ice Hunter crowd are getting boisterous, and not in a good way.

Orcaheart gets heart- he slams his shield in to Sgt Bobby’s face and then stabs the Fighter twice in quick succession, the second hit a Crit (and that’s 36 damage to Sgt Bobby in that round- that hurt) the Players get a little quieter around the table.

Sgt Bobby slices the big Ice Hunter right back, and then gets his Second Wind, but it’s not enough- Orcaheart hits again, and then follows up with yet another Crit, and now the chatter around the table has almost stopped.

Sgt Bobby is bloodied, Orcaheart isn’t- Pete is asking, and I’m very happy to tell him.

Sgt B cuts Orcaheart, more of a nick than an actual hit you understand.

He spends his swear-gained Action Point- and misses.

Pete is starting to look worried.

Too soon…

Orcaheart growls, raises his shield above his head and slams it down on Sgt B, woozy the big man attempts to side-step and instead steps directly in to the path of the Ice Hunter Champion’s spear- and another Crit, (three in three rounds- although that’s actually nine attacks). To make matters worse, as Sgt B brings up his shield to block a follow up blow he overbalances and is speared again.

Sgt Bobby’s on 3 HP.

Now’s the time for Pete to look worried- and oh, so he is.

This really isn’t going to plan.

Lummins tries to save the day, or at least to prolong the agony, the Priest of Lathander aims a surreptitious 5th Level Healing Word at Sgt Bobby, which is spotted by Bonecarver- and instantly called out.

Although not before Sgt Bobby gets some much-needed relief.

Barking Seal orders the Ice Hunters present to “Seize the Intruders!”, which is obviously instantly translated by Lummins.

It kicks off big style, the fight is on… an epic battle, surely.

The fracas lasts approximately 6 seconds- Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) combat rolls in to the arena, brings up her crossbow and shoots Barking Seal in the head (assassination attempt)- DEAD.

And I mean spectacularly DEAD, Barking Seal has approx. 6 HP, Hotlips’ assassination inflicts 41 damage, all told.

A second later Sgt Bobby flings away his longsword and grabs out Hazirawn, he slices Orcaheart real-good, and now the Village Champion is screaming (bloodied and beyond).

Bonecarver, the Shaman, takes charge and yells for the Ice Hunters to slaughter the intruders, and to unleash the sled dogs, there are a lot of snarling dogs in camp- this is going to be fun.

Note this encounter involves Orcheart (Gladiator), Bonecarver (Druid), 25 Ice Hunters (Tribal Warriors) & 12 Sled Dogs (Wolves).

The Shaman then Entangles (with tendrils of ice) Sgt Bobby and Hotlips, or at least attempts to- remarkably it’s Sgt Bobby that quickly breaks free, Hotlips is caught in the spell’s icy clutches.

Soon after the Halfling is stabbed and then bitten twice- the Ice Hunters initially focus their attacks on Hotlips (the assassin- remember), and Sandy (playing Hotlips) is not at all happy.

Sgt Bobby is also very quickly surrounded, he’s being attacked by Orcaheart, four sled dogs and three Ice Hunters, incredibly (with ten attack rolls, every one of them with Advantage) the Fighter keeps all of his attackers at bay, not a scratch on him.


Hotlips, is stabbed and then bitten again.

This is going badly for the PCs.

A large group of sled dogs and Ice Hunters close in on the other PCs, the squishier members of the group who are so used to standing at the back- that’s Lummins, Watt & Lux.

Lummins ignores everything that is going on, the Half-Elf Priest of Lathander strides through the rush of attackers, taking seven AoO (only one hit) en route, and then hoists his holy symbol upon high and fires up- the inevitable- Radiance of the Dawn.

There are 34 enemies in the compass of the burning holy light of Lathander.

Seconds later the light begins to fade, the battlefield is strewn with the fallen, the three remaining (from 12) sled dogs whine and screech mostly in terror, barely hanging on to life. Five Ice Hunter still stand, although four of these were situated outside the radius of the radiant light. Orcaheart flees (on 6 HP) briefly- the massive Trible Champion, blinded by the intense light, runs in to a handily placed ice-covered boulder, and is left knocked out and sprawled upon the floor.

Bonecarver (the Shaman, on 3 HP) falls to his knees before Lummins and weeps, in between tears begging for his people to be spared, even offering his life to save the tribe.

It’s at this point that (and expanded upon very soon after) that the PCs start to question what has occurred here, specifically the theme of their question is- are they, in fact, the bad guys? I think it started with Rob (playing Lummins) who said, “I don’t think I should have done that.”

There’s quite a lot of chatter between PCs (and the Players), interspersed with Bonecarver’s story- and the answers to the PCs various questions, here’s the usual list of what the PCs learn-

a) The Ice Hunters have been made to stay here at Oyaviggaton, servants (and prisoners) of Old White Death, the great Dragon who lives below.

b) The Tiefling (the ‘horned one’) the PCs are looking for is also being held by the Dragon, she’s also down below.

c) There are also Ice Trolls, Ice Toads and Kobolds below- all servants of the Dragon.

d) Bonecarver further shows the PCs the entrance to the caverns below and describes the layout of the upper level of the place (I drew the guys a very crude map). The Dragon’s lair is below this level- Bonecarver has never been within.

The PCs have lots of follow up questions, but the info above is about all of the detail that Bonecarver can remember, what with him being a broken man and everything at the moment, his tribe having been decimated and all…

The Players/PCs spiral for a while, there’s a hefty chunk of self-reproach from Rob (Lummins) and lots of apologies offered to Bonecarver, Sgt Bobby even goes and wakes up Orcaheart (by peeing on him- Pete, you dirty dog). Eventually the big Village Champion is made comfortable.

Note the conversations here (aided by the arrival of take away food) went on for over an hour, mostly a spiralling re-run of the Radiance of the Dawn moment, and suggestions of how to play it differently if a similar situation were to arise again. They take it seriously, this game- at times, the morale implications of their actions, even in a fantasy fiction- the Players are, by their own admissions, attempting to play the good guys here.

So, in conclusion, killing all of the Ice Hunters was the right thing to do in this situation, but not something the Players (and their PCs) want to repeat, other (less violent) avenues should be attempted, as previously stated- should the situation arise again.

The (slightly) redeeming outcome of the situation is that (unsurprisingly) Sgt Bobby, and Orcaheart start getting on like a house-on-fire (very well). They both appreciate fine weapons, love fighting- hate role-play, have pain-in-the-backside families that nag-nag-nag, and hate taking orders.

The roleplay, and associated PC chatter, continues even after the take away food has been consumed- then, at last, the PCs head on- vowing to slaughter Old White Death and set the Ice Hunters free.

Bonecarver, doesn’t look at all impressed by the Brothers “hollow words”. However, Orcaheart is so caught up in the moment he vows to accompany his new best friend Sgt Bobby in to the icy depths of the berg and see the challenge through.

Also, Pete (Sgt Bobby) rolled another natural ‘20’, this time using a Charisma-based skill check (I forget which) he’s never done that before. Also, I’m trying to ease Pete in to the world of role-playing games, and to present to him strange new options which do not involve just slaughtering everything in sight.

Keep in mind that Orcaheart, I’ve already described the guy to the PCs, is a seven-foot-tall- sumo-sized feller, clad in furs and smeared in seal fat, with a thick mop of black-on-black hair (Beatles cut). Also, after Lummins’ Tongues spell expires the big lad and Sgt B are reduced to mime.

Me and Pete ended the session with a little comedy gold, trying to mime various inanities at each other across the gaming table- there were tears in my eyes, I’m not sure everyone got the joke.

Anyway, not long left of this session, after the mountain of chatter, and one very long short rest- the PCs descend in to the Dragon’s lair.

But that’ll be in the second part of this write up, see you there.
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We D&D.

Session #47 The Rise of Tiamat #06b Barry the Suspicious Kobold.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 9
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 9
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 9
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 9
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 9

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

This is session #47 of our game, but only session #06b of The Rise of Tiamat scenario, the second part of a very long (and chatty) session.

In the first part of this session the Brothers set off for the Sea of Moving Ice in search of Maccath the Crimson, a female Tiefling Wizard- expert on Dragonkind and member of the Arcane Brotherhood. The Tiefling expert ventured north three years past in search of the lair of an ancient White Dragon- Old White Death. The Harpers have set the PCs to this task, as the Draakhorn continues to sound across the Sword Coast, alerting all of Dragonkind that a time of change is at hand.

Lux (Human Warlock) managed to locate Oyaviggaton, the last known (presumed) location of the Draakhorn and/or Maccath the Crimson, on the first day of looking. Soon after the PCs land and then more or less decimate the Ice Hunter tribe that makes its home on the massive iceberg- less said about this the better, see the previous write-up.

Next up the Brothers head below, in to the White Dragon’s lair, accompanying the gang is Orcaheart (Sgt Bobby’s (Human Fighter) new best friend) a seven-foot-tall four-hundred-pound man mountain with greasy black hair. Note without Lummins’ (Half-Elf Cleric) Tongues spell the PCs (mostly Sgt B) are reduced to miming instructions (because even after all these years it’s still funny) to the Tribal Champion, who is also not that bright.


But just to note- Sgt Bobby has also had to spend all of his healing HD (during the previous Short Rest) to get anywhere close to full HP, so he’s going to be reliant on other people healing him (save for a few minor potions in his possession) from hereon in.

The first problem, of course, is the descent in to the body of the iceberg- the stairs, a good way down, are treacherous- at least for mere mortals. Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) has no problems with them but quickly spots the bigger issue. Those descending behind her may quickly get in to trouble- and therefore descend rather more rapidly and bring all of the adventurers tumbling down.

There’s a brief discussion, and then Hotlips descends the rest of the way- scouting ahead, stealthily, in to the ice cavern below- there’s a pile of supplies here, the cavern is dimly lit (there’s an oil lamp rammed in to the wall a little outside of the entrance to the cavern) and its very cold.

Hotlips skips back up the stairs to tell her friends, and then descends again (with no difficulties whatsoever) to guard the way.

The other PCs (with Orcaheart bringing up the rear- not the best plan) rope themselves together and then follow her down, the dice gods favour them- Gah! The PCs reconvene moments later at the bottom of the slippery stair.

The same issue however swiftly arises again, the circular thoroughfare outside of the entrance cavern undulates- with slippery slopes, and as slippery rises- the PCs are sorely in need of some crampons, or something very similar.

The Brothers therefore attempt a variety of improvised solutions to the balance problem, and then put these to the test by descending the nearest slippery slope ahead. Hotlips, of course, skips down the incline, and then quickly (and Stealthily) scopes out the next (massive) chamber ahead.

So, large (and high-ceilinged) is the cavern that it seems to generate its own micro climate- a wet fog rises from the ice floor and walls, obscuring (for a while) the inhabitants of the chamber- to wit, a clutch of Kobolds that are working on one of the walls- seemingly polishing the ice. Hotlips also notes that there are the frozen remains of several (Frost) Giants embedded in the walls of the cavern.

I was going to scare the Halfling with the frozen Giants, but her Perception was something like a ‘19’ plus bonuses.

More importantly Hotlips, over the course of the next few minutes of her observations, also discerns that the Kobolds are wearing crampons, she scuttles back (still unseen and unheard) to tell her friends. Basically, the shoe shop has just opened- they just need to relieve the Kobolds of their footwear (and then set about resizing).

Fortuitously all of the Brothers manage to scramble down the slope and to the entrance to the Hall of Giants, the problem arises when Orcaheart comes waddling after, the big lad misses his footing and manages to careen in to the newly revealed chamber, yelping and spluttering as he goes.

A surprise round is out of the question- still, just a bunch of pesky Kobolds.

18 Slippy Kobolds.jpg

However, the big guy sliding in to the chamber, and in to the Kobold’s vision is an Ice Hunter (Orcaheart), and thus no-one to be feared. Then the PCs make themselves known and start up with their chatter.

DM Note- any movement in here and the PCs need first to make an Acrobatics check- DC 8 to shuffle about (half move) DC 12 if they move any further or faster. Just for kicks.

Watt (Human Bard) is the first in to chatter-action, swiftly Persuading the Kobolds that he and his colleagues are Dragon Cultists (although the PCs are not dressed in their Dragon Cult costumes atm) and that they have come to meet with their Dragon-boss, Old White Death.

Lux, and Lummins add to the chorus, and the Kobolds are swiftly sold on the PCs story- although, there’s a strand of doubt festering in the gang- Lummins is obviously wearing a holy symbol of Lathander, and while the Kobolds don’t recognise the symbol one of the little buggers is suspicious (Shh… Lummins rolled a ‘1’, the rest of the PCs rolls were great however).

Long story short- the Kobolds are persuaded to give the PCs a guided tour- first stop the abode of Maccath the Crimson, who the PCs need to have a chat with first- apparently, before their meeting with the Dragon.

First however the Brothers of the First Light beg the Kobolds, even offering to pay, for some suitable footwear (they all offer shiny-shiny gold) the Kobolds bargain the PCs up to 2gp per shoe fitted (bespoke) with crampons.

And thus, we move in to the inevitable (over-used?) fantasy trope, the Kobold shoe-fitting scene.

I told you the shoe shop was open.

In the midst of the procedure the PCs fail to notice that one of the Kobolds exits the chamber, less than a minute later the intrepid (and most suspicious) Kobold returns, with friends- to wit a pair of Ice Trolls.

Soon after it all kicks off.

19 Slippy Kobolds & Ice Trolls.jpg

The suspicious Kobold who fetched the Trolls (let’s call him Barry) screams a warning to his shoe-fitting colleagues, and then fires a sling bullet into Lummins, that breaks the Priest’s reverie. Seconds later the first Ice Troll is on him, only his Warding Flare prevents the creature from savaging the Half-Elf.

The Kobold crampon-fitters attack en masse, with daggers and slings- all bar two miss their intended targets, or else they just scratch and dent the PCs armour (all Kobold attacks with Advantage- Gah!) The pair of Kobold assassin’s (not) both stab Hotlips at the same time. She barely notices the scratches left by their pathetic daggers.

Watt is the first of the PCs to react, his Thunderwave sends a pair of Kobolds spinning, clearing them out of the way, but killing neither.

Orcaheart roars and stabs a Kobold to death, and then wounds another badly- Sgt Bobby roars back at the Ice Hunter and very quickly mimes his pleasure. I think it was I HEART U.

Sgt B stomps forward, to the Ice Troll heading his way- and slices one of the creature’s arms clean off with Hazirawn, and then follows up with a titanic strike which cuts the creature off at its knees (two big hits and a Crit for 42 damage) with his Action Surge.

Orcaheart blows kisses at his hero.

The bromance is doing fine.

Hotlips attempts to stab her Kobold attackers back, she rolls a ‘2’ and a ‘2’- Sandy is not best amused.

Lux gets some distance from the Kobold crampon-fitters and then fires two quick Eldritch Blasts in to the already semi-broken Ice Troll- the creature shatters (remember Hazirawn doesn’t allow a creature to regain hit points- subject to a DC 15 Con save).

Lummins lofts his holy symbol- oh dear, we’ve been here before, and hits the Radiance of the Dawn button- six Kobolds die screaming, the two situated outside the power’s sphere survive (of course) the ordeal. The lone remaining Ice Troll also suffers in the blinding radiant light.

Seconds later Barry the (suspicious) Kobold, who brought the Ice Trolls to the party, runs screaming out of the chamber, the alarm is in the process of being raised.

The other surviving Kobold (singular) also attempts to flee the scene, it doesn’t get far- Watt chases after the varmint and plugs it with an arrow, and then for good measure fires a second missile in to the back of the last Ice Troll, which is still trying to smash Lummins down.

The Ice Troll continues to claw at the Priest of Lathander, But Lummins’ Warding Flare saves him for a second time.

Orcaheart rushes over to the developing melee, and Shield Bashes the Ice Troll- remarkably the big Ice Hunter knocks the beast Prone, and then follows up with his spear and stabs the creature twice in quick succession.

The DM is high-fived across the gaming table by Pete- “That’s my boy”, he’s a very proud father-figure to young Orcaheart.

Sgt Bobby, with a wink first for Orcaheart, goes chasing off after the last fleeing Kobold- two successful DC 12 Acrobatics checks, an Action Point, and a single to hit roll with Hazirawn later and the Kobold yelps coming from the corridor beyond- suddenly stop.

Less than ten seconds later Sgt Bobby returns to the chamber bearing the broken and decapitated form of Barry ‘the blabbermouth’ Kobold.

Love is… my friends, love is…

In the meantime, Hotlips stabs up the fallen Ice Troll (at last), Lummins bathes it in his Burning Hands- and yet remarkably the creature is tough enough to stagger back to its feet- and then to tear in to Orcaheart. The resolute Ice Hunter doesn’t show the hurt- not in front Papa Smurf- Sgt Bobby, who is about to re-enter the chamber.

Watt fires a final arrow in to the beast- the Ice Troll falls, moments later Lux closes in and spams Fire Bolts in to the creature- seconds later it shatters.

That, as the two tough-guy Fighters rush in to each other’s arms- probably, is however (at last) the end of this session.


We D&D.

Session #48 The Rise of Tiamat #07 That is How it is Done.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 9
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 9
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 9
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 9
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 9

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

This is session #48 of our game, but only session #07 of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

After the extra-long last session this one was brief in comparison.

The Brothers of the First Light, with their new accomplice- Orcaheart, the man-mountain Ice Hunter Tribal Champion are at present investigating the caverns beneath Oyaviggaton, the home of Old White Death, also Maccath the Crimson, and perhaps the Draakhorn.

In the last session the PCs discovered the hard way that the icy lair is very slippery (who would have guessed) they have rectified this situation by slaughtering a clutch of crampon-wearing Kobold servitors (and a pair of Ice Trolls) and soon after modified their own footwear to make it more non-slip.

Then, after a plod around the huge cavern- the Hall of Giants, to see the sights, Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) is sent out scouting again. The stealthy Halfling completes a circuit of the icy corridor- from which many more chambers exit. The passage however is at present uninhabited (I’m doing the Wandering Monsters RAW, as usual, although in truth making far more rolls than I should), but the Halfling can hear other creatures moving around in a couple of the exiting caverns.

The Rogue, with the rest of the Brothers et al following on a way behind, discovers a series of inner chambers including a storeroom with another set of stairs going up (probably in to the Ice Hunter settlement- correct). Also, in the chamber is a sick-looking Ice Hunter villager, Hotlips sneaks up on the guy and knocks him unconscious (friendly). Then- through a complex of chambers- a larder full of dead things, a junk room, and on in to another cavern containing a bunch more Kobolds- most of whom seem to be resting, or else off-duty. The Halfling returns to her comrades to report back, soon after the aforementioned Kobolds are effectively surrounded- PCs moving in to block both exits to the chamber.

You can guess what happens next- to begin with there were twelve Kobolds at rest in the chamber.

20 Surprise Kobolds.jpg

Watt (Human Bard) shoots a Kobold dead, Lux (Human Warlock) Eldritch Blasts another (also dead) and then badly wounds a third. Orcaheart stomps in and Shield Bashes the nearest enemy prone and then stabs the little bugger- dead, the big Ice Hunter stabs yet another, which squeals and attempts to flee, seconds later the Kobold is engulfed in Lummins’ (Half-Elf Cleric) Sacred Flames- dead. Hotlips assassinates a fifth Kobold, while Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) charges in with Hazirawn and slays another pair.

In short, a massacre.

The five remaining Kobolds, cower or else try (foolishly) to flee the scene…

Watt plugs two more running Kobolds- both dead, while Lux’s Eldritch Blasts account for two of the cowering individuals (she’s cruel) and suddenly there’s only one wounded Kobold left standing.

Five minutes later and the chamber has been searched, and some nice scrimshaw found, the last Kobold has been trussed-up like a turkey, interrogated- briefly and violently (thanks Sgt Bobby & Lux) and then made to lead the PCs (on a leash, of course) about the rest of the ice complex.

The Kobold gives over the following info-

a) Old White Death is in his lair below- the Kobold shows the PCs a nearby hole in the ice (actually a slippery chute) that descends rapidly in to the White Dragon’s lair. Hotlips, briefly, checks this out- there’s not much to see below, a massive cavern shrouded in icy mist, the PCs quickly decide to find a better way down. Note the Hafling almost falls down the chute when the ice ledge surrounding the chute gives way, she doesn’t though- because she’s a dextrous bugger.

b) There are a bunch more Ice Trolls laired on this the upper level, the Kobold is persuaded to take the Brothers to this place next.

c) Maccath the Crimson is also laired nearby, and within the Tiefling’s chambers is another (easier/more accessible) way down in to the Dragon’s lair- next stop after the Trolls.

d) Also, there are some Ice Toads laired close-by, the Brothers figure they’ll skip visiting these guys, if they can.

So, after fifteen minutes roleplaying, for which read pushing, shoving and shouting (and no Random Encounters- bloody dice), the PCs head off to kill the Ice Trolls.

The Ice Trolls lair is a tall and narrow chamber- unadorned, seemingly, and swathed in freezing mist- it’s getting cold in here. Hotlips sneaks a good way in, she can see two Ice Trolls (there are another two hidden at the far end of the chamber, obscured by the mist). The Halfling is about to sneak back to tell her friends when the nearest Ice Troll stomps towards the exit of the chamber, off out on patrol, the Rogue (correctly) suspects.

No time like the present.

21 Surprise Ice TRolls.jpg

The Brothers of the First Light and their Guest Slayer- Orcaheart, launch their attacks.

Hotlips’ opening crossbow bolt to the back of the head almost does the job, the assassination attempt inflicts 58 damage (that’s a lot) and leaves the Ice Troll floundering, the bolt still sticking out the creature’s skull.

“Where go I”, the creature asks in the Giant tongue, and then is set on by the rest of the adventurers, Hotlips- in the meantime buries herself in the snow- out of sight, nice Stealth check.

Lummins strides in to the cavern and fires a Scorching Ray in to the confused Ice Troll (a Crit), and then two more fiery rays (a hit and another Crit) in to the second Ice Troll, which lurches out of the icy mist ahead, both Trolls roar in pain.

Orcaheart (Guest Slayer) waddles forward and in the most uncoordinated fashion flings a spear in to the exiting Troll’s chest, the beast shatters- dead.

Sgt Bobby doesn’t look that impressed, the fat bastard Ice Hunter is doing his job- stealing his kills!

The love-in between the warriors it seems is over.

Sgt B rushes forward- screaming threats (in Common) at the second Ice Troll, which is too far away for the Fighter to get to (and he hates throwing things, it’s melee or nothing (mostly) for Sgt B).

Lux fires two Eldricth Blasts in to the Ice Troll (it’s bloodied), Watt follows up with two pin-point accurate bowshots and the last Ice Troll standing (that the PCs know about) is left staggering and screeching in pain.

The creature doesn’t scream for long, Hotlips pops out of a snowbank and thunks a crossbow bolt through its eye and in to its brain, the beast shatters.

Melee over- or so the PCs think.

At which point the two Ice Trolls hidden in the icy mist come charging towards the slowly (but casually) advancing Sgt Bobby- Hotlips shouts a warning.

Alas Lummins cannot resist, the Priest of Lathander is the first to pull the trigger, he drops a Fireball in to the charging Trolls- the massive creature’s rush is somewhat curtailed (and their Initiative sucks- ‘3’ & ‘6’).

Orcaheart flings another spear- and hits again, while Sgt Bobby spits on his hands- hefts Hazirawn and positions himself between the two, still rushing in, Ice Trolls.

“This is how you do it.” The warrior declares, pointedly looking at Orcaheart (played by me- your glorious DM).

Pete rolls a ‘2’, followed by a, ‘2’- so there’s that. Sgt Bobby has no Action Surge, nor does he have an Inspiration Point, so… Pete’s not very happy at all.

The air is blue… dirty blue for a good long while.

Although the other Players (and the DM) sitting around the table are enjoying his distress.

“No, this is how you do it!” Hotlips declares with a grin.

The Halfling Rogue’s (Sneak Attack) crossbow bolt sails way-way-wide, she also rolls a ‘2’. Hotlips is played by Sandy- keep that in mind, although not for long…

Lux stomps forward wielding a crooked smile and conjures a Fire Elemental behind the Ice Trolls- the flaming bastard gets in to action, soon after both Trolls are burnt with one on fire. Lux is also played by Sandy.

“That is how it is done.” Lux declares.

The Ice Trolls scream- trapped between the flaming Elemental and the mental Sgt Bobby (and the rest of the PCs).

The first Ice Troll (not on fire) attempts to flee the scene- dodging past the PCs and out of the cave, to try to raise the alarm- soon after it begins to seriously doubt its chosen course of action, this after being sliced by Hazirawn, and then tagged again by the Fire Elemental.

It plunges on and is swiftly stabbed and clubbed by a myriad other PCs as it somehow manages to dodge through the crowd, and almost to the exit of the cavern- screaming up a storm as it flees.

The second Ice Troll attempts the same manoeuvre, after its colleague has cleared the way (of AoOs) it overtakes its fellow Ice Troll and makes it all the way out in to the corridor that circumscribes the icy lair.

The Brothers, obviously, quickly turn-tail and chase back after the fleeing pair.

Lummins is the first to (nearly) catch up with the pair, the Priest of Lathander lays down a carpet of flames with his Burning Hands, and the badly wounded Ice Troll shatters and explodes.

Only one Ice Troll left to chase down.

Orcaheart catches up with the last Ice Troll- Shield Bashes it from behind but cannot bring it down- so stabs it instead. A frustrated Sgt Bobby alas cannot catch up with the action. Lux also has problems getting her Fire Elemental turned around, and back in to the fight.

The last Ice Troll is going to get away.

That is until Hotlips makes another crossbow bolt-to-skull connection, this after the Halfling’s first attack roll- with all the PCs looking on (and willing her on) in expectation, is a ‘1’. The ‘Lucky’ Halfling follows the ‘1’ with a ‘20’, naturally.

The fight is over.

Although out in the icy corridor the Brothers et al are faced with a new problem.

North of their position, in the large circular passageway, are situated three white-on-white very large (human-size) Toads, make that Ice Toads. Before the PCs can react the furthest Ice Toad from the PCs suddenly starts making gestures (of peace/welcome) and speaking in Draconic.

“I am Marflub, Comptroller of Oyaviggaton- state your business and be Accounted for!”

22 Marflub.jpg

Which causes a little PC confusion- how do you react to that?

Well, as usual with the chatty PCs, with a lot more chatter, although Sgt Bobby waves Hazirawn around quite a lot, and not to be outdone Orcaheart also offers a token threat- shaking his spear and shield at the creatures.

The Ice Toads don’t even react, they’re very sluggish- and dour, for zealots.

However, there’s no fighting, wiser heads prevail- which is happening a whole lot more these days.

The chatter goes on for a bit, although not too long as the Brothers are keen to get out of the corridor (knowing the DM is still making Random Encounter checks).

Eventually Marflub invites the PCs in to the Ice Toad cavern, which is equally bewildering- more Ice Toads squat and scratch on parchment, making notes- adding up rows of columns and generally behaving like Monks/Scribes/Accountants.

Every now and then, usually in reaction to some proclamation or other from Marflub (the obvious leader of the pack) the rest of the Ice Toads in the chamber chorus back odd statements, like-

“All Praise the Double-Entry”,
“The Time of Great Accounting”,
“Accounting Adds Joy”,
“On-Balance”, & finally,
“Improve the Bottom-Line.”

Yes, that’s right- for some reason (spur of the moment) I played the Ice Toads as Monkish/Cultish type Accountants, serious and slightly dour.

So, over the course of the next thirty or so minutes of roleplaying (as the food arrived to the gaming table) the PCs learn the following-

1) The Ice Toads really don’t want to fight anyone.

2) They work for Old White Death- because it is interesting. Most odd!

3) They know everything about what it takes to run a financially secure Iceberg/White Dragon lair.

4) Old White Death is down below. Check, we know this already.

5) They’ve also been helping Maccath the Crimson to compile and record lots of her findings- also, very interesting work.

The Brothers are either bored (but slightly amused- that’s you Pete) or else amused (but slightly bored- everyone else) with Marflub, his info, and his fellow Ice Toads.

I had a giggle with it however, with Marflub finally asking the several of the PCs (in a slightly lewd/lascivious way) if could he ‘thoroughly audit’ them.

Pizza (probably) finished, the Brothers et al depart the Ice Toads, not friends exactly, but on nodding terms, and head off to find Maccath the Crimson, their Kobold guide leading the way.

Note throughout the previous fight with the Ice Trolls I rolled a D20 every round in the hope that I could get the Kobold guide to wriggle out of his bonds and escape the PCs- I think I made seven rolls in total, the highest of which was a ‘9’.

So, no.

The Kobold guide leads the PCs on, around the circular passage- the traversing of which is made much (much) easier by the PCs new crampons, and to yet another icy cavern.

Unfortunately, as the Brothers et al gaggle in to the first icy chamber (without scouting ahead) they’re ambushed by yet another… Ice Troll.

23 Ice Troll Surprise.jpg

The roaring beast leaps out from its hiding place and savages Watt, the Bard is clawed and bitten, and bloodied in an instant.

Then Watt discovers that the Ice Troll has got the highest Initiative, and so after the Surprise turn the creature does it all again, however thanks partially to Lummins’ Warding Flare the Bard only takes a single hit- a bite, and a Crit at that. Jackie, playing Watt, is not amused.

That is until Orcaheart leaps in front of the Bard and wards the Ice Troll away by heroically Shield Bashing it in the face, and then stabbing it in the leg for good measure, while yelling “I Safe YoU I Will!”

Orcaheart’s been learning the Common tongue, the DM kindly explains.

The Ice Hunter warrior grins at Sgt Bobby, several of the Players enjoy the moment, even Pete’s grinning.

Lummins in the meantime gets to Watt with a much-enhanced Cure Wounds, while the Bard Thunderwaves the Troll out of the way.

Lux hits the beast with a Fire Bolt…

Then, at last…

Sgt Bobby rushes in, yelling- as he goes “This is how you do it” (actually Pete whispered the line while wincing at his dice), and…

Slices the Ice Troll, with a (big) hit and a follow up miss, not bad- but not that impressive.

Seconds later, after having to wait an age for Sgt Bobby to get in position, Hotlips makes another crossbow bolt to the brain connection and lifts the top of the Ice Troll’s lid, the creature tumbles and shatters.

Melee, and the session, over… we finished on time this week, for about the first time in forever.


We D&D.

Session #49 The Rise of Tiamat #08a Penguin-Slayer!

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 9
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 9
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 9
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 9
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 9

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

This is session #49 of our game, but only session #08a of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

Last session the Brothers continued to explore the icy lair of Old White Death, the White Dragon, and continued their slaughter- a dozen Kobolds, and half-a-dozen Ice Trolls were all dispatched. The PCs also encountered Marflub, the Ice Toad Senior Accountant, and chatted with the odd fellow for a good long while- alas the strange Ice Toads mostly served to confuse the poor PCs, who decided in the end to leave them be. The last stop on their circuit was the cavernous ice home of Maccath the Crimson, in which another Ice Troll was encountered, and slaughtered before the last session came to an end.

The Brothers, you will remember, are searching for Maccath the Crimson (they’ve not encountered the Tiefling as of yet) and also for the odd not-sounding Draakhorn.

Oh, but before we begin just to say Orcaheart is played by me (your glorious DM) but sometimes with a little consultation with the Players, I sometimes ask “What do you think Orcaheart would do?”, actually I ask that question a lot with any NPCs I’m playing. I find the Players often have better (or else different) suggestions that are often worthy of consideration. Just wanted to make this clear.

And so, to the action…

So, the Brothers (at last) remember themselves and send Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) sneaking forward, however stealth is not needed- moments after the Ice Troll falls Maccath the Crimson, and her two very nervous Kobold servitors, step out of the ice tunnel ahead. The Tiefling Wizard is also nervous, frightened for her life, but also excited at the prospect of rescue.

"Have you come to save me or to kill me? Not that there will be much difference between the two." Maccath asks.

24 Maccath At Last.jpg

The chatter begins- and of course, the majority of the talk is done by Watt (Human Bard), Lux (Human Warlock) and Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) the chatty trio. The threesome quickly persuades Maccath of their identity, and of their intentions, soon after the group head back in to the Tiefling’s chamber, and then from there a short time later in to the nearby Scriptorium.

The lengthy conversation encompasses the following-

a) Maccath traveled to Oyaviggaton to learn more about Dragonkind, alas her curiosity almost proved her undoing- Old White Death was initially very inhospitable- capturing the Tiefling and killing the crew of her ship (later the PCs are taken to see Maccath’s ship and crew- encased in ice, note this image is a repeat of the PCs strange encounter back in session #37, when they were visited by the Light of Lathander en route to Parnast).

b) Maccath however managed to persuade the White Dragon of her worth- the Tiefling has been made to examine and study many items from the Dragon’s hoard, including extensive writings stolen from the Arcane Brotherhood.

c) Maccath has been studying these writings and serving the Dragon ever since her capture, alas many of the rituals she has translated have been used by Old White Death to protect the Dragon’s lair and make it more difficult for Maccath to escape, or for observers (Scrying) to detect her presence. She thought she had sealed her own doom… that is until the Brothers of the First Light arrive on the scene.

d) Maccath wants to depart the lair and will do all that she can to help the PCs, but… she MUST be allowed to take her work, and the lost lore of the Arcane Brotherhood, with her.

At which point the PCs are led in to the Scriptorium, between chatter the more curious members of the Brothers begin their search (with Maccath helping) of the facility.

The chatter however goes on (for bloody ages- it was a very chatty and relaxed session), the Brothers further learn that-

e) There is a large chute that leads down from the Scriptorium- easy(ish) to get down but difficult to climb back up- the tunnel descends in to Old White Death’s lair, and near to the spot that the Dragon usually rests. That’s good to know. There are other submerged entry and exit passages in to the Dragon’s lair below. Old White Death has more than one escape route it seems.

f) Most of the information that Maccath needs to take with her in order to continue her studies is located in the Scriptorium, although there are also important documents in the Dragon’s lair below (which the Tiefling describes to the PCs- basically, the PCs have to rescue these items to get Maccath to leave with them). In short, the Brothers are going to have to ‘deal with’ the Dragon- I added this last complication because I figured the PCs with the benefit of the Flying Lighthouse could reasonably just convince Maccath that their flying fortress was safe from Old White Death and then just depart with the Tiefling- with no final showdown with the Dragon. I didn’t want that to happen.

g) Maccath hands over a Ring of Cold Resistance, and two Arrows of Dragon Slaying- which are taken by Watt, he’s the bow-guy. Ownership of the Ring is disputed for a good long while- Hotlips wants it but several of the PCs argue that it should go to Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) who is, after all, the front-line guy. Sgt B is going to be the Hit Point soak if and when the final confrontation with the Dragon occurs (they think, how wrong they are/were). In the end Sgt Bobby gets the ring- swapping it out with his Ring of Poison Resistance in the forthcoming Short Rest.

I think the Resist Poison Ring was taken by Lux in the end, although I’m not certain.

Note, in a touching moment during the Short Rest Sgt Bobby also hands his +1 Longsword over to Orcaheart, they’re friends again, and in each other’s manly arms soon after- big hugs. Obviously Orcaheart doesn’t know how to use the blade very well, he initially thinks it is some kind of spit to skewer and cook food… a little while layer the magical sword is christened by the big man- ‘Penguin-Slayer’, which is suitably niche.

h) The Draakhorn is no longer in the lair, it was taken six months ago by a bunch of robed figures that came to treat with Old White Death, from the Tiefling’s description the Brothers quickly work out that these fellows were Dragon Cultists. Eventually, after a million hints from the DM (I exaggerate not), the PCs finally figure out that the leader of the Dragon Cult group was most likely Talis the White, who they encountered in the Hunting Lodge near Parnast a while back.

This is good news for Lux because she has (sorta) kept in contact with Talis, actually she has asked various questions of the Dragon Cultist leader but has received only one (useful) reply. Keep in mind that Lux (Sandy) and me regularly exchange e-mails between sessions, in the form of missives and notes exchanged with her various information sources, mostly delivered by her friends in the Black Network.

So, the guys have to fight the Dragon- there follows a bit of exploration, mostly done by Hotlips, and also a thorough search of the Scriptorium, and the PCs own backpacks- this in an effort to stumble upon a stray magic item or two that will help their situation.

The Players have been fretting over the Dragon fight for the last few sessions- I’ve been trying to build it up a bit you see.

The take-away food arrives (early) and the Players break to connive and scheme for a bit (a lot) longer.

Note some of the texts in the Scriptorium are quickly identified as containing ‘dangerous lore’, Watt states confidently (after a ‘20’) that continuing to read these texts could implant terrible messages in the reader’s psyche. Hotlips steals one of the ‘naughty’ books, Lux grabs about half-a-dozen- bedtime reading for the Warlock.

The PCs do however locate a metric tonne of scrolls (although only about half-a-dozen they can actually use) and so the plotting and planning continues- and the Player’s Handbook spell section (in particular) is pawed over.

Hotlips’ scouting session in to the Dragon’s lair is not a great success; the Halfling is roped up and then lowered down the slope from the Scriptorium and in to the massive hollow space below. The place is filled with freezing mist, undulating icy surfaces (difficult terrain, and worse)- and with very little open (and flat) space, and I think I’ve mentioned this already- its massive. At least the Halfling thinks the place is, she doesn’t get to (or dare to) explore far.

The Dragon cannot be seen, although the Halfling Rogue is fairly certain she’s spotted Old White Death’s treasure pile… so, there’s that.

After an inordinate amount of time a plan of attack (sorta) is decided upon- Lummins uses a bunch of Protection from (Cold) Energy scrolls on himself, Watt & Hotlips. While Lux will make use of a scroll of Fire Shield for the same effect (and more) when she thinks the time is right to do so- Sgt Bobby already has Maccath’s Ring of Cold Resistance. So, the Dragon’s Cold (Breath Weapon) problem is kinda solved.

I did say the Players are planning this attack.

The next problem is getting about in the chamber below- to this end Lux casts Fly on herself, Sgt Bobby & Hotlips- the three aviators then assist their (roped) comrades down the slope and in to Old White Death’s lair.

DMs Interlude- I really wanted to kill at least one of the PCs, there- I’ve said it now. I tried my best.

So, the Brothers manage to get down and into the ice cavern, and from the ledge they arrived on down again on to the lowest level of the area- with the flyers keeping watch and also assisting the roped trio safely down.

Remarkably, save for a few slips and fumbles (to no great effect) the Brothers get down to the ice quickly and without incident- the Dragon’s treasure (as spotted earlier by Hoptlips) is located, it is however scattered over a large area and mostly sealed in, well… ice. Getting it out will not be easy and will be time consuming… so several of the PCs start at it (the DM decides there are ten items here- mostly old tomes, that Maccath needs to continue her study, soon after the Players know this too).

A minute or two later and the PCs have located three items that Maccath needs and have managed to get one of the tomes free of the ice.

Still no Dragon.

The Brothers therefore continue to chip away at their task, and to find more of Maccath’s (& the Arcane Brotherhood’s) lost tomes.

Lux’s Fly spell however is running out, therefore (after a brief chat) all of the flyers ascend- although Lux stays in sight, hovering just above the treasure-recovery trio (Lummins, Watt & the big lad- Orcaheart). Sgt Bobby and Hotlips meanwhile head off in to the icy mists to do a circuit of the cavern- just to see if there’s anything else they’re missing out on (like a big ol’ White Dragon).

Obviously soon after the tough guy duo head off Old White Death comes out to play.

It goes like this- Lummins, Watt and Orcaheart are chipping away at the ice and recovering lost tomes (and a little side loot- to be determined later). Lux is hovering thirty or so feet above the trio, Old White Death is biding his time in the water beneath the ice… that is until he emerges at a rush from the nearest section of open water and bathes the intrepid trio in his icy breath weapon.

25 Old White Death.jpg

Alas, not quite- the Dragon is spotted moving beneath the ice by Orcaheart (‘20’) who then gets Initiative and charges in to Old White Death as soon it emerges from the water- stabbing its forelegs twice in quick succession with his newly acquired magical longsword, ‘Penguin-Slayer’.

Then the breath weapon hits- Watt and Orcaheart are frosted good, while Lummins barely feels the icy blast (Resist Cold & Save).

The PCs start screaming for Hotlips and Sgt B to get back to them… Hotlips hears her comrades and the flying pair are soon after heading back- it’ll take them three rounds double-moving to get to the action.

Orcaheart meantime attempts to play the hero, keeping Old White Death at bay (he Crits the Dragon but for not much damage) which just makes the wyrm mad- it slams its tail in to Orcaheart (the big lad is bloodied).

Watt scrambles back a way, grabs out his bow and fires- an Arrow of Dragon Slaying- and rolls a sodding ‘20’ Crit- for 61 damage.

There is whooping.

I hate whooping.

It’s so… gah!

Just to say the module states that when Old White Death takes 100 HP damage, he’s outta there, well, he’s taken just short of 90 HP damage and we’re only in the opening moments of the fight.

Bloody dice.

Oh yeah…

Watt fires again- yeah, the second Arrow of Dragon Slaying- he misses.

The whooping stops.


Lux attempts to Banish Old White Death, a Legendary Resistance later and the Dragon is still in the game- the Warlock’s spell fizzles.

Old White Death starts off with his Frightful Presence, alas only Lummins is affected, the Priest of Lathander edges away from the great wyrm. Then the Dragon recharges its breath weapon (thank you) and tries again with the frosting- the result of which is Orcaheart is left barely able to stand (approx. 15 HP) while Lummins is bloodied and terrified.

The Priest of Lathander continues to back away from Old White Death, although unleashing his Radiance of the Dawn as he retreats- the Dragon barely notices, but Hotlips and Sgt Bobby benefit from the glowing beacon, as does the Priest himself- Lummins is no longer Frightened of the great beast.

Old White Death slams Orcaheart with his tail again (and the big lad is on 1 HP)- the (Brave) Ice Hunter fights on- stabbing the Dragon twice more with Penguin-Slayer.

Old White Death is officially bloodied and is now over 100 HP down.

So, I cheat- and give the Dragon another 50 HP, because… well, too soon.

Watt keeps moving, casting a Mass Cure Wounds as he goes for cover, Lux meanwhile continues to hover above the action, the Warlock however is out of powers- she therefore unleashes a pair of Eldritch Blasts, one of which hits the Dragon.

At which point I further complicate matters (for the PCs) by having a Scrag emerge from another of the watery pools- the creature bustles to Watt and unleashes heck- three attacks and three hits, the Bard is bloodied (and screaming- as are the Players around the gaming table).

Old White Death meantime recharges his breath weapon again (thank you dice gods) and unleashes his freezing fury for the third time in three rounds, and for the third time in a row on Orcaheart and Lummins (Watt only got caught in the first attack). Remarkably both (make their saves and) survive again- Lummins is beyond bloodied while Orcaheart has 3 HP.

Old White Death backs up a way, so that Orcaheart can no longer reach the beast.

Lummins calmly assesses the situation (by which I mean Rob takes ten minutes to decide what to do this turn) and then fires off a salvo of Scorching Rays- the first fiery missile hits the newly emerged Scrag, alas only one of the other four missiles hits its mark- Old White Death.

And now the Dragon has taken over 150 HP damage- Damn!

So, time for the finale…

Orcaheart takes a couple of steps back, rushes forward and then flings himself straight at Old White Death in the freezing water (using a little Bardic Inspiration- thanks Watt, en route). The big-boned Ice Hunter arrives Penguin-Slayer first, skewering the great wyrm between the eyes (for about 13 damage, but it looked good).

The Dragon roars and rages, eventually tossing Orcaheart (and Penguin-Slayer) thirty feet in to the air and away- the big hunter lands hard and then lies motionless on the ice.

Old White Death meantime roars once more- loud enough to shake the entire berg and loose a cascade of icicles from the ceiling- and then submerges and gets the hell out of Dodge.


26 Scrags.jpg

Then a second Scrag lurches out of another of the watery pools and attempts to tear Lummins apart- the aquatic Troll tries really hard, Lummins is left on 9 HP.

Alas it is at this point that a flying Hotlips, crossbow at the ready, hoves in to view- and seconds later buries a crossbow bolt in the nearest Scrag’s back, Watt meantime escapes the other Scrag by turning Invisible and running off. This audacious move however swiftly turns sour- the slightly confused Scrag- now sans adversary, rushes over to join the attack on Lummins. The Priest is being torn apart by two Scrags… seconds later he falls.

The still flying Lux hits one of the Scrags now towering over Lummins’ body with a Fire Bolt. Hotlips, also flying, keeps shooting and hitting with her crossbow.

The Invisible Watt meantime gets to the fallen Orcaheart and with a Cure Wounds revives the big man- although the Bard quickly scuttles away. Orcaheart later believes he was visited by the one true God and given his life back in exchange for a lifetime of servitude*.

*Note this interpretation of events only takes shape a week or so after the session, this after a conversation roleplayed out via e-mail between Orcaheart and Lummins (the Priest of Lathander).

Orcaheart later explains that he saw a blinding LIGHT, and then he was back in the world with a whole lot of loving Lathander in his heart.

Lux meantime thumps a Fire Bolt in to the other Scrag, she’s alternating, at which point Sgt Bobby flies in to the same beast, avoiding its threshing claws, and Hazirawn’s it to death (with an Action Surge).

Orcaheart then staggers to his knees, then up to his feet- grabs up Penguin-Slayer and (retrofitted) yells out, “For the Light of Lathander!” and charges the last remaining Scrag which is going to grab Lummins’ body (the Priest of Lathander).

The Scrag has had enough (and is only one hit away from death) it flees, diving back in to the water.

The fight is over.

The interminable whooping begins again- there’s a new hero in the pack- Orcaheart!

The rest of this session in the next section.

Apologies for a few weeks off but work is busy-busy and there’s been a whole lot of Christmas going on.
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We D&D.

Session #49 The Rise of Tiamat #08b Downtime & the Cult in Waterdeep.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 9
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 9
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 9
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 9
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 9

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

This is session #49 of our game, but only session #08b of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

Old White Death has fled Oyaviggaton, the Brothers of the First Light are victorious again- mostly thanks to Orcaheart who Bravely (it’s a Skill the NPC has) stood in front of the White Dragon and took a thorough beating (the Sgt B role) while slashing the great wyrm repeatedly with Penguin-Slayer.

There is talk of PC-onification, Orcaheart may get a Class and Level, we’ll see- actually, you’ll see (I know what goes on).

So, Oyaviggaton is taken, the berg is the PCs to explore- this process goes on a while, particularly as several of the Players have been conniving between sessions.

Here’s what goes down-

First up the Dragon’s treasure pile is chipped from the ice and sorted through, and the good stuff either snaffled by various PCs or else ferried up to the Flying Lighthouse. Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) gets a pair of Winged Boots, and there’s a Bag of Holding to be found (taken by Lux (Human Warlock)) also a few more potions- but nothing too powerful. They’re kicking my backside as it is…

Next up (and believe me when I say that this bit takes a while) the Brothers et al have a chat with Marflub and the Toad Accountants- the PCs have been talking between sessions (as stated previously). They want Marflub to join them on the Flying Lighthouse (no reason particularly- they just like the idea, I think) and so we spend a while negotiating the Ice Toad Accountant’s services. It takes a good twenty minutes to finally thrash out the deal (actually a signed Croaktract of Employment). Marflub and pals are eventually engaged to help with the Brother’s tax situation, and also to research and develop other PC-originated projects, don’t ask because at this stage I had no idea what the Players were up to.

The negotiations are repeated with Bonecarver (Shaman/Chief) and the rest of the Ice Hunters and their families- basically, join us aboard the Flying Lighthouse.

Note for some of the PCs this is a chance for them to get a few more conversions of faith in (Lummins) for others it’s just a fun/funny part of their story.

And so, after at least another forty minutes (real-time) of giggling and deal-making the Flying Lighthouse departs the Sea of Moving Ice- heading back to Waterdeep and the Council of the same name.

Just to say the Flying Lighthouse is now more or less fully staffed, obviously Captain of the establishment is Blagothkus (Cloud Giant) and his ‘spirit’ wife, second in command is Lummins. The crew consists of a nearly a dozen Ogres (including Gary the Ogre, Hotlips' (Halfling Rogue) boyfriend), a pair of Stone Giant hippies, a dozen Ice Hunters (lead by Bonecarver) and their families.

Along for the ride are also Maccath the Crimson, Tiefling Dragon-expert; Marflub and his Ice Toad Accountants; Orcaheart, the Ice Hunter hero; a pair of Lizardfolk warriors called Gawp & Ping (servants to Lux and Lummins) and finally a pair of, as of yet, untamed Wyverns (Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) is working on this).

So, the Flying Lighthouse is back to full complement, or thereabouts.

The PCs (and Players- more so) are overjoyed that they seem to have acquired a fully-staffed secret base, as it were- the Flying Lighthouse is their Tracy Island.

So, with about an hour of the session left to play we go for a little more downtime style activities- it takes two days to load and prep the Flying Lighthouse, eight days travelling time back to Waterdeep, and then once back in the City of Splendors the Brothers have another tenday to wait for the next Council of Waterdeep meeting.

Also, the PCs are now level 10- so, that comes first.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 10
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 10
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 10
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 10
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 10

Also note on the way home the Flying Lighthouse passes over several settlements that are either smoking ruins, or else have been decimated in some other manner. The first time the Brothers spot one of these they descend to investigate, the Farseer however shows no signs of life, still the PCs land and spend an hour or two investigating a small settlement called Gawth (south of Luskan and the Blackford Crossing). No survivors are found, and it quickly becomes obvious that this was a Dragon-attack…

Over the next few days the Brothers spot more ruined settlements, another one every other day- each is investigated (although at altitude) using the Farseer, all of the places have been attacked by Dragons, or Dragon Cultists- is the (well-founded) presumption.

I wanted to up the tempo a little, although not too much.

Note Lummins uses Sending spells to communicate some of the devastation, and the success of their own mission to the Brothers’ contact Leosin Erlanthar, representative of the Harpers.

So, after leveling up their PCs the guys have approx. two tendays worth of downtime activities to get through. The first tenday aboard the Flying Lighthouse, the second in Waterdeep ahead of the next Council of Waterdeep meeting. This is what they get up to-

The End of the Party for Hotlips.

Hotlips is having her hair done, so the first tenday aboard the Flying Lighthouse is onerous to the Halfling, she wants to be back in Waterdeep and out with Gary the Ogre- Paaaarty! She therefore spends the first tenday travelling and ‘jazzing-up’ her party attire, she convinces (= pays) several of the Ice Hunter women to help with her make-up, give her a new haircut (mohawk-style) and to accessorize. I’m not sure that Hotlips (Sandy) is taking this downtime stuff seriously enough (who am I kidding, I love this).

The second tenday spent in Waterdeep is more of the same please- Hotlips infiltrates several social events for the rich and famous of the City of Splendors, only… things are less than splendid- all the rich kids are looking nervous. The older generation of monied folk spend much of their time at these events quizzing the Halfling- the party scene in Waterdeep has all but disappeared. Hotlips is not impressed- play hard, party hard- that’s her (and Gary’s) motto.

Watt’s it all about?

Watt (Human Bard) tries to learn a little more about the Flying Lighthouse in his first tenday of downtime- he does okay, and by the end of the time has a basic grasp of how everything works- he can fly the ship.

The Bard’s second tenday in Waterdeep is much more undercover, Watt the detective gets back to infiltrating the group of Dragon Cultists that are hatching plans in the City of Splendors (as per his last downtime). His great work (and great rolls) comes to fruition a day before the next Council of Waterdeep meeting is set to take place. The Brothers of the First Light attack the Cultists sewer lair- see later for more on this. Note Lux also helps out with this project- see below.

Lux hears a whisper.

While still aboard the Flying Lighthouse Lux receives a message, a Sending spell from Talis the White (the Dragon Cult boss from the Hunting Lodge near Parnast). Talis shares her concerns- the Dragon Cultists in Waterdeep are plotting a major attack in the city sometime very soon. Lux obviously knows that Watt has infiltrated the Dragon Cult group in Waterdeep. The Brothers of the First Light are therefore in the right place and at right time to stop the Cult attack, by slaughtering the Dragon Cultist bastards- see later. Note Lux spends both tendays contacting her various sources seeking more information, Fast Eddie (her Imp servant aboard the Lighthouse) is also keen for Lux to meet with his boss- Lord Volmer, the Bone Devil diplomat. It seems Lord V has an offer to make, Lux is a little unsure of how to play this because… well, she’s consorting with Devils- and none of the other Players/PCs know this as of yet. How to broach the subject…

Let the Light in.

Lummins is proselytising up a storm, by which I mean the Cleric of Lathander is out spreading the word to anyone that will listen, and folk can’t get away from him during the first tenday (spent aboard the Flying Lighthouse). By the end of the travelling time the Priest has converted Orcaheart to the Light, even convincing the big feller Ice Hunter that it was Lathander that cured him back in the fight with the Dragon (actually it was an Invisible Watt, but that’s by-the-by). Several other Ice Hunters are also interested in the teachings of Lathander, although Barking Seal (Shaman/Chief) is much less impressed by Lummins’ activities. Finally, the Priest also attempts to convert Marflub and his Ice Toad chums to the cause- the Toads are much less impressed, the Priest’s attempts to convert the amphibians is mainly met with bored shrugs. As Marflub states at the end of the Lummins show- “Religion is all very well, but the bottom line (Chorus from the other Ice Toads- “Bottom Line”) is all that is important!” Basically, the Ice Toads don’t get religion, they believe in the ‘Great Accounting’, and that’s all they need.

Damn Wyverns.

Sgt Bobby spends both tendays attempting to finally master Wyvern-riding, I allow the players to make two rolls (whatever skill they choose, and that fits in with the activity) per tenday of downtime and base their successes on the results.

Sgt Bobby makes absolutely no headway with his training- four rolls, highest adjusted is an ‘11’, lowest adjusted roll is a ‘10’- so that’s three ‘10’s and an ‘11’- nice grouping, but no cigar. Wyvern-riding continues to allude the Fighter, and Pete’s not that happy about that.

Downtime activities over, we skip to the day before the second Council of Waterdeep meeting, a sudden burst of activity at the Waterdeep branch of the Dragon Cult and the Brothers of the First Light are back in action. Albeit briefly (we went on a while this evening), in to the sewers and against the Dragon Cultists.

Note the map used for illustration here was not the map we used at the time, I actually don’t remember which map that was.

So, Watt leads the Brothers of the First Light in to the Dragon Cult’s sewer lair, and then… well, it’s a massacre.

27 Cult Sewers 1.jpg

And when I say a massacre- Lummins bursts in to the first chamber packed with Cultists and hits the Radiance of the Dawn button- six Cultists die screaming, Watt fires two arrows in to the Cult Fanatic leader (dead). Hotlips assassinates another, Sgt Bobby chops the head off another.

Remarkably two Cultists escape the first encounter and go running off in different directions- but Watt knows the way.

We play through a second encounter, same as the first- 10 Cultists (maybe 8-10 HP each) and a Cult Fanatic (leader), it quickly becomes apparent- the enemies present are not worthy of the name, the Brothers of the First Light very quickly (the first two encounters are both over in one round each) get to the finale.

The Cult leaders.

The Brothers are just about to bust in on the bad guys, who have obviously been alerted to the attack, when the session (at last- I had to improvise a bit with this one) comes to an end.

28 Cult Sewers 2.jpg

I had a plan however, the PCs are facing subpar enemies for a reason, although this mob- the Cult leaders are a little more threatening. As I said- I had my reasons, which you will find out, next time.
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