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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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Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
We D&D.

Session #57 The Rise of Tiamat #16b The Third Council of Waterdeep Part 2.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 11
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 11
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 11
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 11
&
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 11

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 #57 of our game, but only session #16b of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

Only a short instalment this time, all that was left after the titanic fight earlier in the session.

And so, it’s all gotten a bit crazy, the later than usual (it took a good long while to get through the fight in the first half of the session) Pizza has been consumed, and the PCs are back in confused action.

The third Council of Waterdeep is a riot of colours, with Ambassadors and Kings et al being surrounded by their various guards and petty functionaries. There are fist fights as the various groups push and shove each other about to get clear of the area.

That is until Sgt Bobby (Pete) swings into action, the big lad stands on a table (actually on his chair around the gaming table) and starts shouting the odds, his speech- such as it is, is not stoic, heroic, or any other word ending in -ic. It is however very sweary and to the EXPLETIVE point.

In summary (and note I have exorcised the ‘language’ and replaced it with more friendly exhortations)-

“Where the Flipdiddly are you Nancypants going? The bad guys are all Flipdiddly dead. The Flipdiddly Portal is closed. You’re all still Flipdiddly alive. Sit the Flipdiddly down you Flipdiddlying Flipdiddlies.”

Then, of course, Sgt Bobby rolls a ‘20’ on his Intimidate check.

Lady Silverhand translates Sgt B’s Churchillian speech and grumpily, somewhat ashamedly (some of them), the third Council of Waterdeep sits back down again and soon after gets back to business, although a number of guards are allowed to remain in the chamber.

That went really well, and a nice surprise- Sgt Bobby (Pete) with a bit of chatter.

Note, Sgt Bobby was actually the third PC to try and calm down the situation, Lux and Watt both make attempts before big bad Bobby gets on the table, but the previous pair roll spectacularly low with their social skill checks (‘1’ & ‘2’, in that order).

Also note Dagult Neverember is bypassed for the rest of the meeting, his outbursts (mostly bad-mouthing the Brothers and in particular Lux) during the Dragon Cult attack have not made him any new friends. The rest of the meeting is chaired by Lady Silverhand and is all the better for it- although it’s still a confused mess in places.

Then comes the explanation, for what just happened- note the floating spectral heads of Severin and Rath Modar disappeared at the same time as the Portal. However, amongst the cacophony of insults from the Dragon Cult bad guys is a fair amount of gloating- basically, the Cult antagonists state, the Brothers and the Council of Waterdeep just got fooled again.

The result of which is a lot of sometimes garbled chatter followed by promises from the Brothers of the First Light that if they ever find anything like the Green Dragon Mask again then they’ll hand it over to the proper authorities, so it can be examined by experts.

In short- don’t do it again!

Then after a little healing, the meeting gets back into full swing.

The next topic of conversation is, of course, now they don’t have the Green Dragon Mask then things are ‘really bad’, and not ‘really good’, as the assembled dignitaries first thought.

The upshot of this twenty minute discussion is… Rian Nightshade (Special Advisor, and Zhentarim member... shh, that last part is a secret) reveals that she has received a communique from a high ranking Dragon Cult member, the guy wants to defect, and wait for it… drum roll… the fellow has got the Blue Dragon Mask, his ticket to freedom- he believes.

Well, we’ve been fooled before, and so it gets heated for a short while with lots of the delegates taking it in turns to point out the obvious- this could be another trap, or else just another wild-goose-chase.

However, King Melandrach and Ambassador Brawnanvil fully support whatever the Brothers want to do (these two guys are in the bag), also several of the other members of the Council are now firmly in the Brother’s corner, including Lady Silverhand, Sir Isteval & Ontharr Frume.

The Council of Waterdeep however is pretty much split 50:50 as to whether chasing the Blue Dragon Mask is a good/bad idea.

To help the PCs make their decision, Rian grabs out and reads (and then shows around) the actual document she received from the Dragon Cult wannabe turncoat-

“You don't know me, but we can help each other immeasurably. My name is Iskander, and I made a terrible mistake in joining the Cult of the Dragon. The cult's horrifying plans are sure to bring doom to all, but I can stop those plans with your help. Rescue me from the cult's clutches, and I will deliver to you the prize of prizes: the Blue Dragon Mask. Without it, Severin faces an insurmountable setback in his effort to call Tiamat back to our world. The mask is here in Xonthal's Tower, being studied and guarded by only a handful of wizards, including myself. The danger of my treason becoming known grows with every passing day, and if I'm discovered, I'll surely be killed. Please hurry, for the sake of everyone and everything you value.”

Furthermore Rian, and then the Harper representative- Remalia Haventree, confirm that Iskander, a mage who originally studied at the Hosttower in Leilon, is known to be a high-ish ranking Dragon Cult member- so, that much is true. Also, Iskander is purported to be a favourite of Jorgen Pawl, a senior Dragonsoul who does not hold with Severin’s ambitions for the Cult. Pawl is a traditionalist it seems; he thinks the way ahead for the Cult is the creation of more Dracoliches.

So, there’s that.

Discussions continue for a short while, Xonthal’s Tower it transpires is in the Greypeak Mountains, and about six days travel aboard the Flying Lighthouse.

The PCs dither for a while but the decision has pretty much been made- Lux (and therefore also Hotlips) are up for it, as is Sgt Bobby- it’s Watt and Lummins that have reservations.

The dithering doesn’t last long, the Brothers of the First Light tell the Council of Waterdeep that they’ll take the job and set off as soon as they can.

But first, one last topic to broach- the Red Wizards of Thay (via Lord Volmer) have offered to meet with the Brothers. The Red Wizards- the PCs further explain are not fans of Rath Modar, who it turns out has gone renegade.

More discussions follow, and again King M and Brawnanvil back the PCs, who are (it seems, most of them) keen to meet with the Red Wizards of Thay, although less so Sgt Bobby (but I’ve paid him to act this way- you’ll see) and remarkably Lummins, who is also (for some unknown reason, he didn’t explain himself very well) not keen on the meeting. Basically, he believes the Red Wizards are bad people, and not to be trusted. He’s not wrong there.

The surprise (for some of the PCs) is that other than King M and Brawnanvil all of the other members of the Council of Waterdeep are either dead against this course of action, or else erring towards caution. The final recommendation of the Council is (in precis)- don’t risk it, the Red Wizards are really bad people- their leader Szass Tam is a nasty bastard Lich, and not beyond taking sides with the Dragon Cult. This invitation is more than likely a trap.

Which sets several of the PCs/Players thinking, or else re-thinking.

Which soon after also causes us to take a second break in play as the grown-ups (some of the Players) bicker a while, it very quickly gets down to Sandy (Lux & Hotlips) & Jackie (Watt) versus Pete (Sgt Bobby) & Rob (Lummins). Girls versus Boys.

The result is a compromise (after another 15 or so minutes of chat), and surprisingly Pete’s idea- let’s go after the Blue Dragon Mask at Xonthal’s Tower, and if that proves to be a bust we’ll contact the Council of Waterdeep again with the intention of taking up the Red Wizard’s offer. Subject to any new information coming to light- a remarkably sensible suggestion, and one that the DM heartily approves of. Mostly because it was my suggestion, Pete was just playing the cards I had dealt him (remember I said a while back that I did a deal with Pete, well this is it unfolding).

Top banana.

That however is the conclusion of the third Council of Waterdeep, and time for me to share with you the new and updated version of Council of Waterdeep “Official” Score Table-

The Harpers +7 (5/7/10)
The Order of the Gauntlet +9 (7/9/12)
The Emerald Enclave +4 (5/7/10)
& the various Lords’ Alliance delegates-
Lady Silverhand +9 (7/9/12)
Lord Neverember +5 (5/7/10)
Ambassador Brawnanvil +12 (7/9/12)
King Melandrach +10 (6/8/11)
Marshall Ravengard +9 (7/9/12)
Taern Hornblade +6 (6/8/11)
Sir Isteval +10 (6/8/11)

Just to make clear all the members of the Council of Waterdeep were unhappy with the Brothers of the First Light for unleashing the fake Green Dragon Mask in their midst. Therefore, all members of the council deducted from 1 to 3 points from their scores, depending on how pissed off they were with the PCs.

For example-

Lord Neverember -3, he’s very pissed off.

Ambassador Brawnanvil & King Melandrach (and a few others) -1, hardly pissed off at all- some of the Council really believe that the Brothers of the First Light are the answer to their prayers.

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

Next stop for the Brothers, the Flying Lighthouse and a six-day trip to Xonthal’s Tower, but that’s the last-ish action of this session, because to finish off- joy of joys, the PCs are now Level 12.

That was quick.

The rest of the session is spent levelling up, see you next time aboard the Flying Lighthouse next time.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
We D&D.

Session #58 The Rise of Tiamat #17 Plot Fail- Bobby Gone.

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

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


This is session #58 of our game, but only session #17 of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

Just a quick note, we started levelling up the PCs at the end of the last session (to 12th)- and continued with this at the start of this one. At which point Sgt Bobby (Pete) discovered his guy should have been making three attacks (when he got to 11th), and not two- he was furious.

Great start to a session.

So, after the third meeting of the Council of Waterdeep the Brothers of the First Light are aboard the Flying Lighthouse and en route to Xonthal’s Tower, then… well, lots of stuff goes on, although let me just say ahead of times I messed up big style in this session.

But we’ll get to that...

Gah!

We therefore get through the following, although in a higgledy-piggledy order, i.e. we did a bit of this, then something else, and then went back to the first thing we were working at/on- it was a bit of a mess, we skipped about a lot. Nobody’s fault (except mine), just the way it goes sometimes, the session was also partially affected by real-world interruptions, which also didn’t help.

Also for some of the events explained below it was necessary to take one PC aside (at a time) and chat to them about what they were getting up to, this because several of the PCs were intent on doing secret stuff that they didn’t want the other Players to know about. Mostly I’m talking about Lux here.

But also, because I messed up big-time, but like I said- we’ll get to that.

Caveats out of the way, let’s get on.

So, six days aboard the Flying Lighthouse, here’s what the Brothers get up to, and while I’m going to write this out one day at a time, to make the narrative work. It didn’t happen in this order in the session, as I’ve already stated (repeatedly) it was a mess.

Day 1 aboard the Flying Lighthouse.

It starts well.

Maccath the Crimson (ex of the Hosttower in Leilon, rescued from Oyaviggaton by the PCs), knows something more about the wannabe Dragon Cult traitor- Iskander (who also studied at the Hosttower). The Tiefling is at present travelling on board the Flying Lighthouse (convenient) he contacts his associates in the Arcane Brotherhood and prepares a short presentation for the Brothers. At the end of which they know what Iskander looks like- male, human, nearly six-and-a-half feet tall, stick thin and gaunt with it. Also, a bit more about him- he’s well-travelled, urbane, but a bit of a worrier. Everything the PCs are told leads them to believe that Iskander could be the real deal- this might not be a trap. Funny how that happened, it’s almost as if the DM was setting the PCs/Players up again- giving them hope. They never learn.

Next up, Lux attempts to make contact with a couple of her Cult of the Dragon insiders/advisers, but in particular with the Vampire Sandesyl Morgia (last seen when the PCs captured the Flying Lighthouse). The only connection she makes however is with the Vampire- nobody else is taking her calls, as it were. So, Sandesyl is old skool, she (like Iskander) thinks that Severin is heading in the wrong direction with the Dragon Cult, she too is a big fan of Dracoliches. Anyway, Lux makes contact with Sandesyl, and her offer of the location of the corpse of an Adult Green Dragon (Chuth) is enough to secure the Warlock a little more info.

Iskander is known to Sandesyl, he’s everything that Lux has been told and more- he dislikes the present management of the Cult, and Severin in particular; he’s no fan of the summoning Tiamat scheme, but a big fan of Dracoliches- he ticks all the boxes.

You’ve got to set them up to knock them down.

But there’s more, the Dragon Cult faction at Xonthal’s Tower have not been silent in their dislike of the present Cult management, rumour has it that Severin did indeed send the Blue Dragon Mask to the group for examination in an effort to sway them to his cause, the artefact was delivered to Xonthal’s Tower several months back by a great Blue Dragon called Lennithon. The same Blue Dragon that attacked Greenest… dun-dun-derr, Lux is informed of all of this.

She’s not happy.

Last bit, it is further rumoured that the Blue Dragon Mask should have been returned to Severin at least a tenday past, it hasn’t been.

Lux is very excited, so excited she doesn’t bother to hide how she acquired this information- she tells her colleagues everything.

The result being that three of the four Players are now convinced- this is it; this really is their chance to get themselves a Dragon Mask. Besides, as Pete stated at the time, “he can’t keep EXPLETIVING us over!” This observation is delivered while staring intently at me (your kindly DM).

I try to hide the hurt that Pete’s statement causes me, it’s not too difficult because I am EXPLETIVING them over (yet again). Apologies if I’ve let the cat out of the bag too soon, but there’s no Blue Dragon Mask to be found in Xonthal’s Tower.

But… Well, we’ll get to that too…

Keep in mind that the Players have no idea how or where this adventure ends, they however presume that the finale is going to be a face off against Tiamat, or else versus the other big bad Dragon Cultists (probably mid summoning ritual). But they also still think (the fools) that there’s a version of the ending that doesn’t involve Tiamat, and that they can prevent the summoning of the Mother of Dragons.

As I say- the fools.

So, all is good cheer and bonhomie- there’s an increased chance that Iskander is the right option.

Woo-and indeed-Hoo.

Also, M for Marflub and his Ice Toads, known collectively as the Toadalyser, re-interview the Brothers of the First Light, they want to know what the PCs have been up to since they last spoke with them. The Ice Toads are particularly interested in the Brothers fight at Boltus Pit, which the Players don’t quite understand. The battle at the mine didn’t seem to be that important to the PCs/Players, just a side quest, as it were.

Note, we don’t play this out- I just state that it is happening, and then deliver the results later on in the journey.

In other news Hotlips reveals she and Gary the Ogre are now engaged (don’t ask me where this is coming from), the pair spend the entire of the journey with a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on their door. That’s that.

Watt, well the Bard doesn’t get up to too much for the entire journey, mainly because Jackie has real-world problems to deal with, for almost all of this session, and so she spends less than an hour of it at the gaming table. Real life happens, even when it’s not supposed to. Kids!

Lastly, big bad Sgt Bobby who, it transpires, has moved Elsa (Orcaheart’s sister, remember) into his chambers aboard the Flying Lighthouse (he kicked his wife and kids out absolutely ages ago). The big Fighter thereafter walks around (on the few occasions he’s seen out of his room) with a perma-grin on his face. That’s another ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on a bedchamber.

Real-world Pete (Sgt Bobby) is back and forth to the table, helping his wife- Jackie (Watt) out with her real-world problems. In truth we should have just cancelled the session, but we didn’t.

Why didn’t we?

So, it’s mostly going to be Lux (Sandy) and Lummins (Rob) in action here.

That said Sgt Bobby also has a part to play (remember I had been plotting with Pete).

Day 2 aboard the Flying Lighthouse.

Toadalyser interviews with the PCs continue apace.

And now here’s where my failure begins…

I asked each of the PCs to come up with things to do during the six days of travel (although as it turns out I needn’t have bothered for three of the PCs- Hotlips, Watt and Sgt Bobby). I suggested maybe a bit of Downtime- if the PCs want, but if not then some other activity. I also reminded the guys that they stated in an earlier session that they wanted to make better use of their spells and powers to see if they could find out any more information.

Why the hell did I remind them of that?

I’m a fool.

And so, it comes to pass.

However, it doesn’t start well (for the PCs). Lux uses Contact Other Plane in an effort to have a chat with… are you ready for this… that’s right, Tiamat. The Warlock spends the rest of the day thinking (after the spell goes spectacularly wrong) that she is a Giant Spider, attempting repeatedly to climb walls (she falls off once or twice) and/or scurry around under tables and chairs. The worst moment comes when she tries to weave a web with her ‘spinnerets’. It gets very childish around the gaming table for a little while. Lux (Sandy) has to leave the room ostensibly to calm down, but actually to stop crying with laughter.

Day 3 aboard the Flying Lighthouse.

Lux regains her composure, later she surmises (after a bunch of skill checks) that the temporary madness (cured by Lummins- Greater Restoration) was caused by her Planar questions being intercepted by Lolth, or else some servant of the Spider Queen.

In conclusion, no help here.

Therefore, the rest of the spell-style divination is left up to Lummins, the Priest of Lathander, but we’ll get to that (sadly), but next up-

The Toadalyser boys are back with an answer, or else M for Marflub is.

So, the Brothers asked earlier ‘Where in the Sword Coast is the volcano in which Tiamat is going to be reborn/summoned/call-it-what-you-will?’ And, drum roll… the answer is, most likely in the Spine of the World mountains.

How the…?

The PCs/Players are back down to Toril with a bump- but we’ve just been in the Spine of the World mountains…

M (for Marflub) points out that he and his Ice Toad accountants are not 100% sure of the maths, but… Boltus Pit seems to offer no strategic value- there’s nothing to indicate that the contents of the mine, or its inhabitants, are of any great worth to the Dragon Cult. Admittedly Argonite Brawnanvil is the brother of Ambassador Connerad Brawnanvil (member of the Council of Waterdeep) but… the Toadalyser are not convinced.

So, the question is, as elucidated by M- why would the Dragon Cult attack Boltus Pit with such a large force, and for no obvious reason, the answer being, again as postulated by M, because the Pit is close to the volcano, and therefore a security threat. Hence the surprise attack, hence the fact that over 100 Dragon Cultists were in position. The Spine of the World mountains are dangerous, out of the way, difficult to get too and/or pass through. The most obvious answer is the Dragon Cultists are laired somewhere close to Boltus Pit, probably very close- it is likely they marched their troops there for the assault on the mine.

Also, the Spine of the World mountains are home to dozens of volcanos (both active and inactive), prior to the Dragon Cult’s attack on Boltus Pit the area was statistically speaking already the likeliest place for the Cult’s volcanic lair. So, it makes sense.

The Players are astounded and giggling like loons some of them.

Soon after and remember this is on day three of their journey, Lummins tells Leosin Erlanthar (Harper contact) via Sending, the new information- Leosin is very excited too.

The PCs/Players think that they are getting places. The new timeline, as made clear by Lux (Sandy) is rescue Iskander and grab the Blue Dragon Mask, investigate the Spine of the World mountains- find the volcano lair, kick Severin and Rath Modar’s ass.

Easy-Peasy-Lemon-Squeezy.

Then Lummins starts up with his spells, and the cacka hits the fan (eventually).

I was scrambling here, and it’s a little after this time that I start insisting on talking to some of the PCs/Players on there own (with none of the other Players present) which of course didn’t help an already disjointed session.

I needed to isolate Lummins (Rob).

So, Lummins has lots of spells he wants to cast, he starts with a bit of Legend Lore on the Green Dragon Mask- just because this is the last of the Masks that the PCs have had sight of (sorta, it was a fake, of course) they’ve also seen the Black Dragon Mask remember, it was being worn by Rezmir. Lummins learns a few of the Mask’s abilities, and its purpose- most of the info is already known to the PCs/Lummins, but it’s good to have things confirmed.

Next the Priest of Lathander attempts to Scry Iskander (the renegade Dragon Cultist they’re off to rescue), it’s a long shot- the spell fails.

Next…

Sgt Bobby disappears.

Yep, you read that right.

On the evening of day three of the journey the PCs discover that Sgt B’s… well, gone- as is Elsa. His chamber is empty, and it doesn’t look like he has packed for the journey. Although, Hazirawn is missing but his armour and everything else is still here.

Which leaves the other PCs in a bit of a pickle.

Obviously around the gaming table Pete (playing Sgt Bobby) is saying nothing, just grinning back at his friends.

Later, after a little more investigation, mostly by Watt- it becomes clear that Sgt Bobby has not been in his room (or anywhere else on the Flying Lighthouse) for at least a day. So, he probably ‘disappeared’ yesterday.

The Flying Lighthouse is searched, the big lad and Elsa are nowhere to be found. The PCs even check on the Wyverns- there’s none missing, so he hasn’t just flown off somewhere.

The remaining PCs are therefore in a bit of a panic, although the session is struggling to keep on going at this point, eventually we move on…

Day 4 aboard the Flying Lighthouse.

Lummins Scrys Sgt Bobby, and quickly locates him- the big lad is butt-naked and badly beaten, chained to a wall in a dank and dark looking prison.

The Priest of Lathander, and several other PCs, watch the Sgt Bobby show intently for the ten minute duration of the spell, in the tail end of the ninth minute, with mere seconds to go a figure walks into the picture, a hooded and robed Red Wizard of Thay, and then the spell ends.

The PCs don’t see the Red Wizard’s face, only from the rear, and then in shadow.

Bugger!

Lummins immediately Scrys Sgt Bobby again, and it’s the same picture, well… almost. The Red Wizard of Thay has his/her back to the Scrying sensor. The guys figure the Red Wizard is talking quietly to Sgt Bobby, they can hear snippets of the conversation they overhear/learn the following-

1) The Red Wizard present is, from the sound of the voice, a man.

2) He’s asking Sgt Bobby about various events, basically what the Brothers of the First Light have been up to of late. Sgt Bobby is answering the guy, and as far as the PCs can tell he’s telling the truth. Sgt B looks to be a broken man.

3) The Red Wizard refers to Hazirawn, several times.

4) Towards the end of the spell’s duration (in the last thirty seconds) a second figure enters the image- it’s Orcaheart, and in the big Ice Hunter’s has hold of Hazirawn. He draws the blade across Sgt Bobby’s chest, the (evil?) necrotic weapon drinks deep of Sgt B’s blood.

All of this stuff would have been much cooler, of course, if the session wasn’t struggling to stay together.

The remaining Brothers immediately instigate a second search of the Flying Lighthouse, which takes a while- Orcaheart is, of course, nowhere to be found.

The PCs, after a brief chat, have two theories- either Rath Modar has got Sgt Bobby, or else someone in Thay has. The former is by far the favourite, that is until Bonecarver, at last, gets to have his say.

Remember Bonecarver, he’s the Shaman/Chief of the Ice Hunters previously of Oyaviggaton, and he and a few others of his kind are still aboard the Flying Lighthouse, they’re not keen on settling in Waterdeep.

So, Bonecarver tells his story, which you already know- basically Orcaheart and his sister, Elsa, ‘joined’ the tribe six months before the PCs turned up at their iceberg home. Orcaheart defeated the then Tribal Champion and claimed the position, several other warriors of the tribe objected to the outsider taking the top spot, so Orcaheart killed a couple more of them. Bonecarver and Barking Seal (the previous Chief, assassinated by Hotlips- Oops!) figured that the only way to resolve the situation (without more deaths) was to officially announce Orcaheart as the new Tribal Champion. The pair figured that Orcaheart and Elsa were the spies of their Dragon master, Old White Death.

The PCs could have had the above information for free ages past, but they always seemed to be too busy to chat with Bonecarver and/or the Ice Hunters.

So, this is what me and Pete (Sgt Bobby) have been working on.

Day 5 aboard the Flying Lighthouse.

Lummins Scrys on Sgt Bobby again, the situation is unchanged, the big guy is however now unconscious, or else asleep- he’s definitely alive.

And Pete is still saying nothing around the gaming table.

Just grinning.

Lummins Scrys Rath Modar (another long shot, although at least the Priest has seen Rath once or twice). The spell however ends in abject failure, Rath rolls a ‘20’ for his save, so for a little light entertainment I allow the Red Wizard to briefly glimpse who is Scrying on him (Lummins). There follows a large dollop of neural feedback and Lummins is left unconscious for the rest of the day.

This isn’t going as well as Lummins (Rob) thought.

Note, Lux is wary of using Contact Other Plane again, the only divination-like spell she possesses, mainly because it requires a DC 15 Int check or else bad things happen, for all her bright ideas Lux has an Int of 10.

She’s also called in plenty of favours recently from her other contacts, and her Warlock patron- so, that’s a bust.

It gets frustrating.

The PCs are trying to figure out if they should just attempt to Teleport to wherever it is that Sgt Bobby is being held, although the DM has advised them that this course of action is not without risk.

They’re stymied, and so decide to do… nothing.

Day 6 aboard the Flying Lighthouse, arrival at Xonthal’s Tower.

It falls apart…

Lummins is conscious at last, the Priest of Lathander Scrys on Sgt Bobby once more, he’s still chained to a wall, and more importantly still alive. Then he casts Commune, and the Priest of Lathander is put in contact with an avatar of his deity, actually a Deva by the name of Halogen. Note Halogen is keen to let Lummins know that he has met the Brothers of the First Light previously, he was the ball of pulsing light the guys met on the road to Parnast.

Halogen, as it turns out, is a ‘big fan’ of the guys.

So, that’s nice.

Lummins, using the Commune spell (three yes or no answers only), asks Halogen the following-

1) Is Sgt Bobby in Thay? YES.

Oh Bugger.

2) Is Rath Modar in Thay? NO.

Note Lummins (Rob) is of the opinion (before he asked the above questions) that Rath Modar is actually still working with the Red Wizards of Thay, the Red Wizards in fact are (possibly) the real enemy- there’s some massive twist in the end. I don’t know how he got here, but y’know- so be it.

Just for info Watt (Jackie) and Lux (Sandy) also believe that Rath Modar and the Dragon Cultists are holding Sgt Bobby, and that they’re going to use him as a bargaining chip.

Maybe to try and recover the Blue Dragon Mask, after the PCs rescue Iskander and grab it.

It’s funny the stories that Players make up to fill in the gaps when they’ve only seen part of the plot.

The clue stated previously, and several times, is that Hazirawn was manufactured in Thay, the blade has another master, Szass Tam.

I figured- think big.

But then we get to question three and remember I have got Rob (Lummins) in the kitchen for all of the above, and away from the gaming table and his friends. So, he’s scratching around for a third question.

The bastard.

Then he remembers the plot, as I say… the bastard.

He therefore asks, and this is pretty much how he said it, beautifully worded isn’t it-

3) “Oh, is the real Blue Mask Dragon-thingy in Xonthal’s Tower?” NO.

If he hadn’t have used the word ‘real’, I coulda got away with it.

Rob (Lummins) just looks at me, over the breakfast bar in his kitchen. “What do you mean- NO?” But the Commune spell is over, and besides “NO”, I believe, requires no further explanation.

So, I do a deal with Rob (Lummins). Not that I have much to offer him, except to try to keep the game (and the plot- such as it is) going.

So, we come to an agreement- Lummins is going to get a special DM favour (to be bartered for later, i.e. when Lummins really needs something). Rob therefore agrees to cast his spells in the order reported above, and that the revelation that the Blue Dragon Mask is NOT at Xonthal Tower only comes to light late on of the sixth day of travel…

That then is how it goes down- Lummins (Rob) keeps quiet, only revealing his Legend Lore spell results, and then his Scrying attempts, before finally letting the other PCs/Players know that they’re heading in the wrong direction at the very last minute.

I’ve always liked Rob/Lummins- he’s a great feller.

So, Lummins emerges from his chambers and tells his fellow adventurers that Rath Modar doesn’t have Sgt Bobby, the Red Wizards of Thay do- and that he’s in Thay somewhere. Furthermore Orcaheart (and most likely his sister- Elsa) are traitors and working for the Red Wizards. Orcaheart has also taken possession of Hazirawn.

Remarkably it’s this last fact that draws the biggest gasp from Lummins’ audience- all eyes turn to stare at a (grinning) Sgt Bobby.

Then, best bit for last, Lummins states that the real Blue Dragon Mask is not in Xonthal’s Tower, they’ve been had- again.

Maybe.

That however is the end of the session, as stated many times previously- it was a mess.

Just to make clear, the events above didn’t happen in the order I have presented them here, in reality Lummins cast his spells in a different order, and on different days to those listed above. Basically, he cast Commune on day four of the journey. The above changes to the narrative were ‘sorted out’ in the kitchen between me and Rob (Lummins), in an effort to make it all work.

The other PCs were (some of them) later brought in on the deal.

Not great, but there you have it…

See you next time.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
We D&D.

Session #59 The Rise of Tiamat #18a Rescue at Xonthal’s Tower, maybe...

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

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

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


This is session #59 of our game, but only session #18a of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

Warning, it gets a little tetchy before the calm.

So, the Brothers of the First Light (except for Sgt Bobby- see below) are aboard the Flying Lighthouse which is at present parked close to Xonthal’s Tower. The Flying Lighthouse is (as usual) hidden by a raging thunderstorm.

The PCs are in place to make their attempt to rescue Iskander, a Cult of the Dragon turncoat that has in his possession the Blue Dragon Mask, the bargaining chip (he believes) to buy his freedom. Or so the Brothers have been told.

However, Halogen- a Deva representative of Lathander has been in touch with Lummins, this via a Commune spell, and informed the Priest that the aforementioned real Blue Dragon Mask is not present at Xonthal’s Tower.

Actually, that’s not all Halogen has confirmed or denied- it also seems that Sgt Bobby has been captured (by Orcaheart and his sister, Elsa) and has been whisked away to Thay, where he is being held prisoner- possibly by Szass Tam, the big Red Wizard cheese (and Lich), ruler of the foul territory.

Note, if you’d not worked it out- the above events (the capturing of Sgt Bobby) is my version of the Additional Encounter which appears at the start of the module entitled Death at the Council. Elsa (Orcaheart’s sister) is a Succubus, while Orcaheart is… well, you’ll have to read on to find out. Regardless the pair have subdued Sgt B and whisked him off to Thay.

Also note I cleared all of this action with Pete (who plays Sgt Bobby) a while back, actually I made a deal with him, but we’ll probably get to that too.

Oh, and for the Death at the Council encounter, I just thought that if there’s a Succubus in the building then I’m going to throw her at one of the PCs rather than have the guys attempt to root her out. In yer face… rather than a second hand menace.

Now, read on…

Last session was a bust, Rob (Lummins) connived with me to make the narrative work, although the session itself was problematic and made even more mundane because of real-world issues. But we’re back on it now, and this time without interruptions.

The PC/Player fight is, to begin with- do we turn back around, head to Thay, or Waterdeep, or the Spine of the World mountains, or else… well, what do we do?

The verbal fracas between the Players (actually only three of them) that follows is made all the more bizarre because the Players have in total maybe a dozen different plans and suggestions, and eager points that they desperately need to make (which generally involves talking over each other).

We get nowhere and are none too fast about it.

It’s difficult to say where the session actually starts, and the argument stops, because the above topic has been flung around on e-mail for a while between the last session and this one.

Eventually, and I really do mean- eventually, we’re easily forty minutes into the session, and the kindly DM has informed the Players (several times) that the Flying Lighthouse is idling, they’re doing nothing in game time now, and at last there are maybe only two sides left to the argument (sorry, discussion) the Players are having.

Which are-

1) Let’s forget Xonthal’s Tower and go and rescue Sgt Bobby from Thay, and keep in mind Lord Volmer and his magic tent are still parked in the courtyard of the Flying Lighthouse. Also, Lux and Lummins have been to check and Lord V is keen to Teleport the PCs safely to Thay, so it’s a free ride and achievable in an instant (plus actual rescue time).

And...

2) Let’s go find out what’s going on at Xonthal’s Tower anyway, this second suggestion doesn’t even get mentioned when the argument about what comes next first kicks off. It’s only later, when Watt wants to know the exact wording of Lummins’ question (during the Commune spell) that this option starts to build a little momentum. Here’s the thing, Lummins (Rob) can’t remember the exact wording of his question regarding the presence (or absence) of the Blue Dragon Mask at Xonthal’s Tower.*

*Please keep in mind that when we started playing D&D 5e we, more or less, played every week; then- inevitably it dropped down to bi-weekly, at present we guarantee (by hook or by crook) to play twice every month, and have kept to the schedule so far. The problem with this is there are sometimes three weeks (or more between) sessions. Obviously, I record most of these sessions (including the last one) on an old Nagra, and when I forget to do so (or forget to just turn the bloody thing on) I make copious notes after the game.
So, the arguments, such as they are- the fury’s gone, rumble on for a short while more until, eventually, the three PCs/Players arguing come to an agreement.

Note I said three PCs and Players in the above- Hotlips (played by Sandy) doesn’t much have an opinion, also Sgt Bobby (and therefore Pete) is in Thay, and therefore contents himself in either grinning or else sloping off to the garden to smoke while his colleagues debate the present situation.

So, an agreement- the deal is the Brothers are going to rescue Sgt Bobby (Teleporting to Thay), and then come back to the Flying Lighthouse and make a decision about Xonthal’s Tower, whether or not to venture in.

It’s all agreed.

That is until Pete (Sgt Bobby) wanders back to the gaming table, and as it turns out- he doesn’t want rescuing yet!

What?

Which is pretty much what the other Players said at the time around the table, only with more swearing.

Here’s the low-down, Pete has done a deal with me (the kindly DM) and has advanced Sgt Harald Hardaxe, his secondary PC, to Level 12. The surly Dwarf is (surprise, surprise) aboard the Flying Lighthouse. Basically, Pete fancies playing the Dwarf Fighter for a while, just to remind himself what (if anything) he’s missing. He’s been looking forward to it… for ages (well, for about three sessions).

Therefore, the last 10-15 minutes of the argument/discussion are wiped out in an instant.

The other Players are soon after persuaded, this after then kindly DM assures them that he will not move the timeline (for Tiamat’s arrival, or not) forward, until they have completed their investigation of the Tower, and the rescue (or not) of Iskander.

Basically, they can have the next bit at Xonthal’s Tower for free.

And thus, at last- after nearly an hour of bickering, it comes to pass.

Although it’s already time to order the Pizza, therefore while waiting for food to arrive, and then throughout the consumption of the feast the PCs land the away team, as stated above (with Sgt Harald swapped out for Sgt Bobby) and venture into Xonthal Tower village, a small (but well established) settlement that is situated just outside of the hedge maze that surrounds Xonthal’s Tower (proper).

The away team don’t bother with their Dragon Cult disguises, they decide they’re playing the part of the good guys. They spend a large proportion of the rest of the day (now they know they’re not against the clock, they’re kicking back) visiting various establishments in the village and talking to a variety of folk. They learn the following-

a) The villagers are very guarded, it takes high social skill checks, or else free spending to get them to say much at all.

b) The villagers are very much against the Dragon Cult (which they know have been attacking elsewhere on the Sword Coast), although at present they’re keeping their heads down.

c) Xonthal’s Tower has been inhabited (they’ve seen lights in and around the Tower) for almost a year now.

d) They’ve also heard unearthly noises coming from the Tower, particularly of late (the last few days).

e) The villagers where unaware that the present inhabitants of Xonthal’s Tower were members of the Dragon Cult (until the PCs told them). However, that also makes sense of the next bit…

f) Some of the villagers recall seeing (some of them on at least two occasions) a great Blue Dragon fly in and hover for a good long while up above the Tower.

g) The only way into the Tower of Xonthal is through the hedge maze.

This last fact is put to the test for a while, with a flying Lummins (and then also Lux and Watt) failing repeatedly to approach the Tower. The Tower, the PCs eventually decide (after a lot of helping from the kindly DM), exists on another plane of existence.

In short, the only way in is through the hedge maze, as they had already been told.

Therefore, they approach the area and see the following scene play out…

A Human male dressed in black robes stands on the balcony of Xonthal’s Tower, waving something over his head. It's hard to make out details from this distance, but it might be the Blue Dragon Mask (then again, it might not).

"Heroes," the figure screams, "they saw you in the village! I've taken the mask, but they'll realize it's missing within minutes! Look for me beneath the tower, for it's the only place I have a chance to hide. This is the key that will let you teleport into the dungeon." As he speaks, the figure holds aloft a second item-some sort of glimmering, white object.* "I will leave it behind after I use it, but others may find it before you do."

*I didn’t want the PCs to know that the key they needed was hourglass shaped, I wanted them to have to work a little harder.

The speaker suddenly looks over his shoulder as another figure dashes out onto the balcony. A flash of blades and spell-fire erupts. Then the figure who spoke pitches his attacker over the railing before dashing back inside.

Dun-dun-derr…

The Brothers of the First Light, rush into the hedge maze.

But that, already, is the first half of the session done.

See you in the next bit.

Sorry, but that's what happened- Players!
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
We D&D.

Session #59 The Rise of Tiamat #18b Rescue at Xonthal’s Tower, really.

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

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

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


This is session #59 of our game, but only session #18b of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

The Brothers of the First Light, rush into the hedge maze. This mainly because Pete fancies playing Sgt Harald Hardaxe for a while, and also because the kindly GM has given the Players the green light, the Brothers know (or else believe) that the real Blue Dragon Mask is not at Xonthal’s Tower.

However, I have assured them that their actions here will not impact the timeline of events played out elsewhere (ostensibly we’re talking about the summoning of Tiamat here).

So, through the hedge maze and to Xonthal’s Tower to rescue the Dragon Cult turncoat- Iskander, let’s see how it plays out.

The first thing to note is the hedge maze is well maintained, this in contrast to the overgrown version that Lummins (et al) saw when they attempted to fly over the obstacle, a by-product Lux states (after a nice Arcana check) of the fact that the hedge maze and the Tower exist on some parallel plane.

43 Hedge Maze.jpg


A short walk in and the Brothers encounter an open area with eight exits, arranged at the eight points of the compass. Just to mark clear- north, north east, east, south east, south, south west, west and north west. There’s a sundial (gnomon) in the centre of the clearing- and nothing else, it therefore gets investigated. The sun’s shadow on the gnomon points north, which is odd because it shouldn’t be- the sun is actually setting. It’s dusk.

“We follow the arrow” Sgt Harald states, and if Pete can work it out…

The Brothers of the First Light rush north, and through more windy hedge maze passages- although this passage has no other exits, they dash eventually into a second clearing, the mirror of the first- with eight more exits and another sundial.

The sun’s shadow on the gnomon points north… and east.

There follows a short debate- do we split the party? Half head north, half head east… or do we go north east- the way in-between. After less than two minutes chatter the Brothers have made their decision- they head north east.

Then another short hustle through the hedge maze and what do you know, they’re in another identical clearing. Only in this one the sun on the gnomon points north, south east & south west. The debate between the Brothers (and the Players) lasts less than thirty seconds- they tramp south, at speed.

A minute later, after yet another uninterrupted hedge maze passage is… you guessed it, a fourth clearing, and soon after- confusion.

The shadows on the sundial point to the north east, south east, south west & north west. It takes a while (just over three minutes, so not really a while) but eventually Hotlips the Halfling Rogue states- “X marks the spot”, and then steps into the sundial- she disappears.

A couple of the Brothers hesitate for a while, maybe another minute of prevarication, before they too climb into the gnomon- and appear in another unbroken passage of the hedge maze, which when followed… you guessed it again, leads into a fifth (the final, but the PCs don’t know this) identical clearing.

The shadows on the gnomon here point in all eight directions of the compass.

This foxes the PCs for a while, to the point that Sgt Harald tries to climb into the sundial again- this obviously doesn’t work, and the surly Dwarven Fighter falls on his ass.

Lux, Lummins and Watt pretty much all figure it out at the same time- the only thing left that they’ve not stepped into is the hedge of the maze itself. Watt leads the way, and instantly vanishes from sight- the Brothers rush to follow and find themselves, mere seconds later, at the foot of Xonthal’s Tower.

“That was easy”, Lux states, and the DM is forced to concur.

The hedge maze took the PCs/Players approx. thirty minutes (real-world) to get through, but less than half of that time was spent actually trying to figure out which direction to go next. In truth, at least around this table, it did seem a little easy- but, I suppose, there’s good reason for that.

So, Xonthal Tower clearing- and the Brothers investigations begin again, in short this is what they quickly discover-

1) The dead body of a robed Dragon Cultists- the guy that Iskander (presumably) threw from the balcony above, the corpse has a few coins but nothing else of interest.

2) A straight path that runs from the clearing back out to the village, “the easy exit”, as Lux states.

3) There are no doors into the tower itself.

4) There is however an active Teleportation Circle within the clearing, identified by Lux with a little help from Watt.

5) The balcony of the tower is also inaccessible, it is surrounded by some sort of force-field, this nugget comes courtesy of Lummins who flies up to investigate. The Priest of Lathander also spots movement in the chamber beyond the balcony- several more robe wearing Cultists, he thinks. Lummins flies up and out of the way before he’s spotted.

6) Last up. further investigations by Lummins during his aerial reconnaissance discerns that there’s some sort of lens mounted device on the roof of the tower, he cannot however approach too close, it seems the force-field extends all around the Tower.

There follows a further five minutes chatter before all five Brothers step into the Teleportation Circle, all posed at the ready for attack, and… BLINK, they appear on a small dais situated in what they presume is a chamber within the tower (it is).

44 Audience Chamber.jpg


The circular stone chamber’s walls and ceiling are etched with a variety of geometric designs (which Lux, the only one interested, fails to identify). Also, in the chamber is a meeting table surrounded by comfy chairs, a series of shelves (holding a variety of mundane items) and about fifteen feet above a pair of balconies which jut out into the room- positioned above and to either side of the arrival point.

Investigations continue, and yet another body is discovered- hidden under the table, and another robed Cultist, a woman- killed by a Poisoned blade. The Brothers spend some time searching the shelves, and beneath the table, and with Lummins flying up to the balconies- each holds a quintet of chairs, they're just raised seating/viewing areas. The Brothers find nothing, that is until Watt heads back to the dais they Teleported into and discovers a variety of odd shaped sigils on the wall there.

The Brothers quickly figure out that the sigils represent (probably) other areas within the tower, basically press one and… BLINK, off they pop.

Which leads to more questions, ostensibly it boils down to-

a) What do the various symbols mean? Where do they Teleport to? The symbols depicted are- a chair, two chairs, an upside-down ‘L’, a rectangle, a flame, a star, a square, an hourglass and a triangle pointing to the right.

b) Should we all get into the Teleporter at the same time, or should we send someone ahead (for which read Hotlips)?

The PCs remember that the Cultist on the balcony (Iskander?) brandished some sort of key, but they were too far away to tell what shape the key was. Of secondary concern- do they need keys to operate the teleporter?

However- they soon figure, the answer to this will become apparent, if and when they try to use the Teleporter.

The chatter continues for a while until decisions are made, all of the Brothers will be teleporting together, and their first selection is the upside-down ‘L’. The reason, you ask, because it looks like it could be to the balcony.

BLINK.

And the PCs are suddenly stood inside a circular metal chamber, there are (almost) the same (Teleportation) symbols (but not the ‘two chairs’- odd) set into the wall behind them- thankfully the chamber has a door ahead. Hotlips sneaks out to investigate and steps out into a magically lit corridor, she’s ten feet away from a robed Cultist who is backing out of another unseen chamber, calling out- “There’s nothing here, let’s try…” At which point the Cultist suddenly shuffles left a step, and then collapses- the Halfling Rogue’s crossbow bolt having passed ear-to-ear, almost, the bolt lodges there (a Crit).

45 Closed Chambers.jpg


Just for info there are six (now five) Cultists and two Cult Fanatics on this level of the tower, all with MAX HP, of course.

A second later a concerned Cult Fanatic steps into the doorway, sees his dead colleague and Hotlips standing close by. The shouting and screaming begins- the Fanatic’s Spiritual Weapon (a curved dagger) suddenly appears and stabs Hotlips. The Cultist fires up his Shield of Faith and then backs into the chamber, screaming loudly for his friends.

Oh, and the Brothers are not dressed like Cultists, they didn’t want to.

Sgt Harald Hardaxe shoves his way out of the metal Teleport chamber, pushes Hotlips aside and then heads towards the sound of the screaming Cult Fanatic, into a messy (recently searched?) bedchamber- he hits the guy twice with his magical battleaxe, but that doesn’t shut him up.

Watt and Lux follow Harald, the Bard bow in hand, he sinks an arrow into another Cultist who dashes into the bedchamber, but the screams and shouts are spreading- there are plenty more Cultists here it seems. Lux hits the newly arrived Cultist with an Eldritch Blast- it dies, and then hits the Cult Fanatic with another Blast, its bloodied.

A second Cult Fanatic creeps up on Hotlips, Shield of Faith switched on and Spiritual Weapon set to play- Hotlips is stabbed again. More Cultists come running, and suddenly Hotlips is facing down a Fanatic and four Cultists back out in the central corridor, although…

Last to exit the metal Teleport chamber is Lummins, he’s trapped in the passage with the Cultists and Hotlips. The Priest of Lathander summons his radiant Spirit Guardians, and then goes nuclear with Radiance of the Dawn (and then rolls 19 radiant damage). Three Cultists and the badly wounded Cult Fanatic are all sent to their graves.

Overkill.

Seconds later Hotlips cuts down another Cultist, and then fires a crossbow bolt into the face of the second Cult Fanatic (and another Crit) it too dies screaming.

The encounter is over rather quickly, and Lummins has to cancel his Spirit Guardians before he’s had use of it, a brief search around the area- more ransacked bedchambers reveals this level of the tower is now empty. The Cultists are searched (as are the revealed bedchambers), and a little more coin is found.

However, the upside-down ‘L’ symbol clearly didn’t indicate the balcony area, time to try again.

The Brothers cram back into the Teleport chamber and select a different sigil- the star symbol this time, they figure this is the top of the tower (they’re not wrong).

Oh, and they ready actions for when they appear- just in case.

They’re smart fellows.

BLINK.

46 Observatory.jpg


And in the centre of the chamber is a massive telescope array, the rest of the mechanism that Lummins spotted previously poking through the top of the tower (when he was flying around inspecting the place).

The Brothers are taken aback (“Oh. WOW!”).

Lummins, Lux and Watt forget themselves and head forward to inspect the huge mechanism, the shelves and cupboards around the device are packed with other astrological paraphernalia- the chamber seems to be otherwise empty.

At which point a Dragon Cult Wizard (Jorgen Pawl) opens the door (he was on the balcony), he’s seen enough- these guys are not fellow Dragon Cultists, screw the telescope, he drops an Ice Storm into the chamber (pretty much covering all of it).

Several Players scream.

Lux takes the full force of the freezing cold hail, while Hotlips scurries behind the telescope and avoids hurt entirely- the other Brothers suffer only slightly (they make their saves). The fight begins in earnest, as the Dragon Cult Wizard (Jorgen Pawl) ducks back out on to the balcony.

Watt, dodging falling hailstones, follows the Wizard out- and discovers there are three Cult Fanatics, as well as the Cult Wizard on the balcony. The Bard screams for his friends, and then enhances a Thunderwave spell and unleashes it on the Cult Wizard, who is hurt and slammed against the railing of the balcony. Alas the Cult Fanatic standing beside the Wizard is less fortunate, the Dragon Cultist is flung over the edge of the balcony and falls to his death.

Lummins (Flying) follows the Bard outside but is out of actions, the Cult Wizard pulls out all of the stops and hits the Priest of Lathander with a Cone of Cold, he's merely chilled, and buffeted a little.

At the same time, within the observatory chamber the freezing hail stops falling.

The two remaining Cult Fanatics try to tag Lux with Inflict Wounds spells, one succeeds, and then both attempt (but fail) to stab the Bard with their newly conjured Spiritual Weapons.

Moments later Sgt Harald scurries out onto the balcony and with an Action Surge hits the Cult Wizard with his magical battleaxe. Hotlips arrives on the scene a mere second later and stabs her magical rapier into the Cult Wizard (with yet another Crit, for 56 damage) and that’s all she wrote for Jorgen Pawl, he’s dead.

Watt basically tries the same trick again, this time attempting to Thunderwave the two Cult Fanatics attacking him off the balcony, he’s half right- one of the foul Cultists is sent over the edge and to his death. The other just thumps back into the railing. The Bard offers the Cultist to surrender but the Fanatic just keeps on screaming threats.

Lummins hits the Fanatic with a pair of Scorching Rays, while Lux follows up with her Eldritch Blasts- and two more hits.

The badly bloodied Fanatic (on 4 HP) flings himself at Lux, another Inflict Wounds and now the Warlock is bloodied and beyond (great damage roll 3d10 = 10, 10, 8).

At which point Sgt Harald stomps over and slices the poor bastard in half.

Encounter over.

Short but very sweet.

The bad guys in the tower are just going to unload on the PCs, they’re terrified of what’s going on here.

I know that Jorgen Pawl is supposed to be a Dracolich guy, but I just wanted the bad guys in Xonthal’s Tower to be all out for themselves, they want to capture Iskander, but they’re as intent on defending their lair.

The Cultists and the observatory chamber are searched, there are a number of mundane astrological items, and notebooks, and old (and new) star charts- a treasure trove, for someone interested in the study of the heavens.

Which Lummins is.

The item that really interests the Brothers however is the hourglass-shaped key that is found on the body of the Dragon Cult Wizard (Jorgen Pawl). Now they recognise it, this is what Iskander (maybe) was clutching up on the balcony earlier.

Next stop… wherever the hourglass-shaped key takes them, there’s a matching symbol on the teleport circle.

But first a short rest in the observatory, with Hotlips and Sgt Harald standing next to the teleporter- in case someone tries to ‘port in.

Which they do… but that’s for next time.

A much better session this one, and although the fun has kinda gone out of the PCs exploration of Xonthal’s Tower they enjoyed the hedge maze, as short as it was, and they’re enjoying their time within the Tower, so far.

Just to note, Pete had the following to say about the differences between Sgt Harald and Sgt Bobby, the former has, his words, “a shed load more hit points”, but “can’t hit for EXPLETIVE”, and does, “EXPLETIVE all damage”.

So, he’s missing Sgt Bobby (and Hazirawn) already.

Next time.
 


Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
Have been reading this over the last couple of weeks and have now sadly caught up. Particularly enjoying the OOC comments. Keep it up!
I promise to.

Not seen your smiley biscuit face for many a year... although, I'm a semi-old git these days, so forgive me if we spoke two weeks back and I have since forgotten. That's a thing now- for me.

I think I've written up most of the rest of this campaign, oddly, I've had a little extra time on my hands of late.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers Goonalan
 

You're not mistaken. I followed your "Disunited Kingdoms" thread*, but never really got into the 4e one. And I'm a fully old git these days.

You stay safe and well too.



* A title that seems horribly prescient given the (real world) events of the last few years.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
You're not mistaken. I followed your "Disunited Kingdoms" thread*, but never really got into the 4e one. And I'm a fully old git these days.

You stay safe and well too.



* A title that seems horribly prescient given the (real world) events of the last few years.
I have no idea what my 'Disunited Kingdoms' thread is, or indeed was- and I've just been back through 19 pages of forum posts/threads started, and then 10 pages of the Story Hour Index- are you sure that was one of mine?

Although, see previous, re Old Git.

Oh, and have you seen my slippers, because they're gone too?

Toodles.
 

I thought that it was one of yours ... with names that were puns on real UK place, like Ghoul and the Isle of Wights.

Maybe it was not you though - I can barely remember what I watched or read yesterday most of the time, let alone several years ago.

No idea where your slippers are, sorry.* I'd offer you mine but I don't know where they are either.

Cheers


But have you looked under the settee - that's where my wife's usually are.
 


Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
I thought that it was one of yours ... with names that were puns on real UK place, like Ghoul and the Isle of Wights.

Maybe it was not you though - I can barely remember what I watched or read yesterday most of the time, let alone several years ago.

No idea where your slippers are, sorry.* I'd offer you mine but I don't know where they are either.

Cheers


But have you looked under the settee - that's where my wife's usually are.
Now I want that to be one of mine... but, I don't know- I vaguely remember drawing a map of the UK and making a campaign there- with name changes like the ones you described. I seem to remember the drawing of the map being more fun than the actual campaign.

Surely that was back in the day when ENWorld, meant Eric Noah- apologies if the spelling's bad.

I thought you popped up (but I've not checked- time's an issue) in this one-


But it could have been this one-


Apologies for the shameless plug for old SHs.

Thanks for playing a while, there's a new SH starting soon, and I've not decided how to play it yet (because the game's only one session in) but I think I'll revisit the above and try for something a little more like the previous.

Although, I also like th chat from my side of the DMs screen- perhaps I'll try to combine both.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan
 


Now I want that to be one of mine... but, I don't know- I vaguely remember drawing a map of the UK and making a campaign there- with name changes like the ones you described. I seem to remember the drawing of the map being more fun than the actual campaign.

Surely that was back in the day when ENWorld, meant Eric Noah- apologies if the spelling's bad.

I thought you popped up (but I've not checked- time's an issue) in this one-


But it could have been this one-


Apologies for the shameless plug for old SHs.

Thanks for playing a while, there's a new SH starting soon, and I've not decided how to play it yet (because the game's only one session in) but I think I'll revisit the above and try for something a little more like the previous.

Although, I also like th chat from my side of the DMs screen- perhaps I'll try to combine both.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan
Yeah, if I'm not making Disunited Kingdoms up completely it was probably the ENWorld of a couple of incarnations ago.

I think I recall both those other storyhours vaguely - I'll have to (re)read them (not that I actually need more distractions from work, but ...)

Cheers
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
Apologies for the shameless plug for old SHs.
I wouldn't know which ones I should read, if someone doesn't plug them :) And considering I have more time with this COVID madness, its either reading yours, or starting to write a fork of my current one.,
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
We D&D.

Session #60 The Rise of Tiamat #19a Elementals Go Home!

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

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

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


This is session #60 of our game, but only session #19a of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

This was a great (GREAT!) session, but mostly in the second half.

The Brothers of the First Light are in Xonthal’s Tower, battling Cult Fanatics and Mages in order to rescue Iskander (a Cult of the Dragon turncoat) who has the Blue Dragon Mask in his grasp.

The PCs however know that the Blue Dragon Mask located here is another fake- although, a little doubt still exists for a few of the Players, this could be another DM trick- this could actually be the real Blue Dragon Mask. It’s mostly Lux (Sandy) that thinks this, sometimes Players just get caught up in their own version of the story/plot.

Good.

So, they’re looking for Iskander, who is in the strange basement beneath the Tower (he told them this)- and now they’ve found a glimmering key- which he also showed to the Brothers earlier, when they spotted him on the balcony of the tower. The Brothers are therefore ready to put it to the test, after a short rest, of course.

But I’m not playing ball.

Forty or so minutes into their relax time and the Teleporter buzzes and six more Cult Fanatics (on MAX HP) spill into the chamber and straight into the fight.

Please remember I play Cult Fanatics as hot-blooded screaming, spellcasting, maniacs- there’s something about the word fanatic that makes me want to do that.

However, Sgt Harald and Hotlips are on stand-by, the pair are watching the Teleporter for the arrival of potential enemies, and their shouts and screams (and bloody attacks) alert the rest of the Brothers to the fracas.

The point of doing this (from a DMs POV) is to frustrate the bastards (and use up their resources), the PCs rest is disturbed- therefore no healing, and of course- to keep the buggers on their toes. I employed the same tactics in the Flying Lighthouse, when they first went there i.e. before they effectively owned it.

47 Surprise Fanatics.jpg


The first Cult Fanatic, its Shield of Faith buzzing, launches itself off the Teleporter and stabs at Hotlips in a frenzy, the Halfling Rogue ducks and dances, and avoids the Cultist’s dagger.

A second (also Shielded) Fanatic tries to get at Sgt Harald with an Inflict Wounds spell, but the screaming Cultist can’t find an inch of the heavily armoured Dwarf’s flesh to touch.

Hotlips drops a shoulder and then scurries left to Sgt Harald’s side, and skewers the Fanatic there with her magical rapier (and Sneak Attack), the babbling Cultist is not quite bloodied.

Then it’s time to unleash Sgt Harald (Pete’s new/old ride), the Dwarf Fighter swings high and well-well wide (‘1’) but then connects with his next mighty shot with his battleaxe (‘20’ = Crit). The Cultist Fanatic is all but broken, and so Sgt Harald does it again (‘20’ = Crit, two in a row).

The Cult Fanatic is eviscerated.

Pete (playing Sgt H) does several laps of the gaming table, hands in the air (like he just don’t care) and whooping like a 7-year old who has had too many sugary treats.

He’s 50 years old, it’s just so unbecoming.

To make matters worse Sgt Harald then rushes into the remaining scrum of newly arrived Fanatics (four of them) that are just stepping off the Teleporter. He begins screaming Dwarven insults (which they don’t understand) in their faces. It’s very Intimidating.

Pete, it seems, has got a new lease of life.

Oh, EXPLETIVE. That’s good.

The four Cult Fanatics surrounding Sgt H attempt to shut the Dwarf up, the quartet attack with blades, Spiritual Weapons (two of them) and Inflict Wounds spells, and a pair of them have already got their Shield of Faith spells going.

The result of which is one measly hit, a dagger slice for five desultory hit points of damage.

Pete is unbearable.

The the rest of the odd squad turn up and make their feelings known.

Lummins flies up and circles around the telescope- so he can see the action, and then unleashes his Radiance of the Dawn, and only one of the five Fanatics makes their save, they’re all hurting. Worse still I have five Concentration checks to make, for their various ongoing spells, I pass one of them.

There’s a pattern forming.

Possibly a spiral downwards, keep that in mind for later (the other half of this session).

The last of newly arrived Fanatics dashes at Lux and is thumped in the back en route to the Warlock by Sgt H- the Dwarf’s on fire (not actually on fire you understand, he just keeps rolling high, the bastard). The Cultist however makes it to the witch (Lux) and grabs her with an Inflict Wounds spell, Lux’s smile doesn’t falter, my damage roll 3d10 = ‘1’, ‘1’ & ‘2’.

This is a stupid game.

Lux reacts with a Hellish Rebuke and when the fire goes out on the Fanatic he’s bloodied.

Then the Warlock steps away from the Cultist, who swishes his dagger wildly at her- and misses, and fires two Eldritch Blasts into the fellow, lifting the Fanatic ten feet into the air and smashing him against the wall of the observatory.

Every bone broken in his body the Cultist falls (ten feet to the floor) dead.

Sandy (playing Lux) mimics Pete and does her own lap of the gaming table, whooping like a clown.

This is a stupid, stupid game.

Not content the Warlock fires a third Eldritch Blast into one of the four Fanatics still hassling Sgt Harald.

Hotlips rushes in to help Sgt H, and skewers another Fanatic dead with her rapier (and Sneak Attack), and then for good measure spins a dagger out into the face of a second Cultist (and rolls max damage).

Boy, is this encounter going badly.

Sgt Harald enters a battleaxe fury, he swings and misses, and then… and then… the big hairy bastard Crits twice in a row once more, a Fanatic is decapitated, while a second Cultist is left holding his guts in, and only just alive.

Watt fires an arrow into the only other Cult Fanatic left standing.

The Cult Fanatics are however… well, fanatical (I’m playing these guys kamikaze style)- the remaining pair Shield of Faith up, and then both attempt to tag Sgt H with their Inflict Wounds spells- not a chance, the armoured Dwarf is too well protected, and keeps the Cult duo at bay with his nasty battleaxe.

Lummins, half-heartedly, hurls a Sacred Flame into one of the two Cult Fanatics still standing.

DM Note- when the Cleric starts casting Cantrips (unless it’s low level play) then the fight is over.

Lux however is all business, the Warlock unleashes three more Eldritch Blasts in quick succession, and blows the two remaining Cult Fanatics into ragged chunks of bloody torn flesh.

She’s a very bad lady.

But, y’know, all business when it comes to killing.

Note Lux’s Eldritch Blast now has a ten-foot push element to it, she’s spamming this button, she loves it.

The encounter is over.

The bodies are searched, although at least two of them have been reduced to smeared viscera, then the corpses (et al) are taken outside and thrown off the balcony- don’t ask me why, the PCs/Players are in a funny mood tonight. All that’s found on the fallen foes is a handful of gold and silver.

The Brothers of the First Light are however going nowhere yet, they’re committed to taking a short rest, and so… for all my earlier threats, I let them- I don’t have enough enemies left in the tower to keep wasting them here.

So, rest, and healing- time for their super-powers to recharge.

Then the glowing hourglass-shaped key taken from the Cult Mage (Jorgen Pawl) last session is brought out and touched to the hourglass sigil on the Teleporter, and…

BLINK.

The Brothers appear in another chamber, this one without light, that is until Lathander- in the shape of Lummins intervenes, and then we’re exploring again, with Hotlips (as usual) checking the way ahead.

But first up, Sgt Harald’s Dwarven senses are tingling- he’s certain that the chamber the Brothers are now in is underground, they’re in the basement, and on their way.

The Players are grinning like loons.

There’s a fair amount of that this session.

The arrival chamber is empty except for the bodies of three more dead Cultists, and (of course) the Teleporter. The corpses are briefly investigated- one has been stabbed to death, the other two killed by force magic, possibly. A little more coin is found and mostly pocketed by the very sly Hotlips.

There’s a blood trail leading into the next chamber- a wrecked rest room, with a table and several chairs, smashed and broken, and liberally strewn around the room, all is chaos here- there’s also blood and flesh on the walls, floor and even a little on the ceiling. Worryingly standing guard, seemingly, in the ruined and bloody chamber are a trio of large Elementals- two ten-foot-tall earthen hulks (Earth Elementals, obviously) and behind the pair a similarly sized column of quietly roaring (oxymoron?) fire (a Fire Elemental).

“Don’t take another step.” Watt cautions and Hotlips obeys, the Brothers of the First Light do not enter the chamber.

They do however take a real good look around, there’s lots more gore in the chamber, more Cultists died here, and a single set of bloody footsteps heading into the corridor north.

There are also dozens of scrolls and books strewn about the room, all either singed or torn or battered and bloody, and trampled underfoot. There is however an intact large (closed) chest over the far side of the chamber, resting on its side- on the floor.

48 Elementals.jpg


But how to get rid of the Elemental guards?

It takes a while (about twenty minutes of chatter) but the Brothers figure it out, and so- Lummins casts Tongues on Lux, and then the Warlock uses her Mystic Arcanum- Mass Suggestion, and tells the three conjured Elementals to, “Leave this place, never to return, your duty is done here.”

My saving throws for the Elementals are, and in this exact order- ‘3’, then ‘2’, then ‘1’. The Elementals therefore depart, the last guy to go- the Fire Elemental (save = ‘1’) favours the Brothers with dopey wave and a daft goofy grin (sorta) before leaving. Like the thick (but harmless) kid who always sits at the back of the class (once upon a time, I was he).

That was easy- encounter over.

Hotlips cautiously steps into the broken chamber, nothing happens, the Rogue therefore makes a beeline for the chest, while the rest of the Brothers follow in and start examining the rest of the room and its contents.

A minute or so later and Hotlips fails to find the trap on the newly discovered chest- with a ‘1’, a sudden burst of magical energy encompassing all five adventurers, they’re hit with a Slow spell.

Only Lux and Lummins fail to save against the magic, however the Slow effect is not much of an inconvenience, both pass their follow-up saves less than ten seconds later.

The Brothers shrug off the mishap and get back to business.

The chest is eventually opened by Hotlips, there are a trio of Elemental Protection (Fire & Earth) scrolls within- a bit late. The rest of the chamber is likewise searched, the papers and books are beyond salvage, but look to be mundane and not magical in nature, anyway.

At which point the Pizza arrives and we’re at our usual mid-session break, and the joy around the gaming table knows no bounds. The Players are all very happy campers at the moment, reliving their victory (massacre) versus the Cult Fanatics, and telling each other how clever they are for figuring a way to send the Elementals home.

Gah!

Stupid game.

But, more of it next time.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
We D&D.

Session #60 The Rise of Tiamat #19b Sgt Harald Pops Out of Existence.

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

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

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


This is session #60 of our game, but only session #19b of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

The Brothers of the First Light are beneath Xonthal’s Tower, looking to find and then rescue Iskander (a Cult of the Dragon turncoat) who has the Blue Dragon Mask in his grasp.

The PCs however know that the Blue Dragon Mask here is another fake- although, Lux (Sandy) still believes that it could all turn out for the best in the end. In short, she thinks that I (your kindly DM) am double bluffing them, and that somehow the Blue Dragon Mask here is going to turn out to be the real thing.

Hope’s a funny thing.

SPOILER ALERT- the Blue Dragon Mask here is a fake.

In the interest of full disclosure.

The PCs are actually mostly playing through Xonthal’s Tower because Pete fancies playing Sgt Harald Hardaxe, so- there’s that.

But let’s just get on, the Pizza’s finished and there’s a blood trail (actually bloody footsteps) heading north from the chamber previously inhabited by the three Elemental guards. Hotlips scuttles ahead, however there’s also a short passage to the north west- ending at a plain door. The bloody footsteps are quickly forgotten about, and the Halfling is redirected here. The chamber beyond the unlocked door is a Wizard’s Lab (with lots of equipment and books), and complete with a (stationary) swirling whirlwind (about ten feet across, and the same high) at the far end of the chamber.

Cautiously the Halfling Rogue creeps in, followed soon after (when it’s deemed safe) by Lux, Lummins and Watt- Sgt H is left to guard the door and the corridor beyond.

There are a clutch of shimmering sparkling gems caught in the strange swirling column of air.

Hmm, the stupid thing, Lux and Watt think (and then say)- would be to try to get the gems out of the vortex. There follows a bit more chat, and then finally a decision- nah, let’s leave it.

The rest of the chamber is very cautiously investigated, it seems to be a mixture of mundane (alchemical/magical theory) papers, and other associated (but also mundane) lab equipment. In short, nothing to get excited about- apart from the swirling strangeness.

The Brothers therefore shut the door behind them, north it is…

The corridor descends a long and increasingly dark (at first) flight of stairs, note- I made this set of stairs much longer, and therefore, deeper (as it were). Then the twinkle of lights ahead, and… stars.

Or, as it should be- “My God, it’s full of stars!”

The corridor continues into space, or as I described to the PCs/Players- at the bottom of the stairs on the right-hand side of the passage is a doorway, all as normal, however ten feet beyond the doorway the passage disappears, or else ceases to exist.

Beyond the jagged stone end to the passageway are the heavens, the glittering lights of stars and far off worlds, and every now and then a comet or meteor whizzes by…

Ohhh, my…

Maybe fifty feet, and/or a world/lifetime away, across the shimmering twinkling starfield, the corridor continues…

Lots of expletives follow this description of the situation.

But before we get too far into it, there’s another doorway. The Brothers are very keen to check this out, even if only to put off the question- how the EXPLETIVE are we going to get across that?

The door opens into a beautifully appointed circular (and domed) study-cum-library, with bookshelves on every wall- all equipped with ladders, in the centre of the chamber is an ornate (and very big and expensive) desk strewn with papers, maps and charts.

The chamber is investigated, it quickly becomes apparent that there are lots of ‘expert level’ books here. Given time the PCs (at least the learned three- Lux, Lummins and Watt) would like to spend a while going through the collection and taking what they need.

But, not now.

Reluctantly (for three of the PCs) the Brothers leave the room and are back into the silent hallway that ends in… space.

How to do this?

Well, the Brothers start with the simple/easy solution. A sturdy rope is tied around Hotlip’s waist (and then grabbed by Sgt H and Lummins) and then the Halfling is told to scamper forward. After a bit of grimacing, she does… and walks swiftly across the space-scape without interruption.

Note, as stated in the module I made a meteor attack on Hotlips en route to the other side, but I rolled a ‘1’, so decided just to tell the PCs that several distant meteors flash by.

Whooooo… that’s nice.

So, now there’s a rope tether to the other side.

Next across, and fastened to the rope, is Sgt Harald- the tank, the PCs/Players figure that if Sgt H can get to the other side then the other PCs should be able to do it easily.

Sgt H has a Dexterity of, from memory, ‘8’.

I lied, I just went and looked it up, Sgt H has a Charisma of ‘8’, his Dexterity is ‘12’.

So, off goes Sgt H- and he’s barely ten feet into his journey when he’s hit full force by a meteor about half his size, he’s hurt and knocked clean off the ‘walkway’.

He falls- at the same moment Hotlips (one end) and Lummins (the other) brace themselves and hold fast to the rope, to no effect- it quickly becomes apparent that the rope has been broken by the comet’s impact.

As I stated earlier… he (Sgt Harald, that is) falls.

Screaming, and quickly out of sight.

At which point Pete (playing Sgt H) is stood up at his end of the gaming table, gripping the wood like his life depends upon it, and glaring at me.

How to defuse the situation?

“Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Sgt H falls from top to bottom, again- and once more the Dwarf quickly descends out of sight.

And then…

“Neeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

Sgt H falls by, yet again.

Which gets the smile I’m fishing for, and Pete relaxes.

But only for a second- Lummins (he’s the eagle-eyes of the group) shuffles out onto the strange space-walkway, just a few steps, and then watches as Sgt H comes around again- the Bard follow’s the Dwarf’s trajectory, Sgt H is falling (seemingly) in an ever-decreasing spiral. Which is obviously very odd.

The PCs/Players scramble for some way of getting to the spinning Dwarf, with the following caveat- that it doesn’t involve any of them risking themselves by stepping out onto the space-walkway, they’re not keen on that idea at all.

The chatter continues for perhaps another five minutes, with me (and sometimes Pete) barking at the other PCs/Players- what are you going to do?

All is confusion- the best they can come up with, and then agree upon, is to firstly- shout at Sgt H, ostensibly to ask him- “Are you alright?”

The answer eventually comes back, “ifeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelsickkkkkkk.”

Followed by, “Iwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaantogetoffnowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!”

The Brother's next (I hesitate to say best) idea is to somehow lasso the falling Dwarf- I don’t think they’ve got taken into account the gravity of the situation (if you’ll excuse my pun). When the lasso idea goes badly wrong- the flung loop of rope just floats off in a (seemingly) random direction, they make an immediate improvement on the scheme.

They’re going to shoot the falling/spiralling Dwarf.

Yep, you read that right.

Watt and Hotlips are given the onerous task (why are they grinning like loons then?) of firing at Sgt Harald- but first of all they need to tie a rope to their respective arrow/crossbow bot. How do they do that?

Too silly.

And so, yet another lump of speeding star-rock (a small meteor) thumps into the spiralling Sgt Harald and reduces the Dwarf’s downward/outward spiral considerably.

Time to up the ante.

Sgt Harald is spinning and swirling like a top.

Shooting him (with ropes tied to arrows/bolts) is not going to work, Lummins however reckons he could make the shot with his spear.

Oh God. What are they thinking?

But, too late.

POP!

Sgt Harald has reached the epicentre of his spiral-spin.

Or so it seems.

The Dwarf pops out of existence.

And I did it all so suddenly that the Player’s faces are frozen in time- gawping, with “what now?” expressions.

I point Pete (playing Sgt Harald) to the door of the kitchen, I have some bad news to deliver, and it needs to be in private.

The other three Players around the table are left mouthing.

So, I get Pete quickly into the kitchen, and then tell him in three seconds flat to keep quiet, and that Sgt Harald is safe and well, but that I want him to swear and rage at me, a lot- and right now, as if I had just told him that Sgt H is, in fact, dead. But he’s not- I promise, reassuring him again.

Swear and rage, that’s right in Pete’s zone, he doesn’t need to be told twice.

Thirty seconds after Pete’s tirade (let it all out, deep breaths) I pop my head back around the kitchen door and tell the other Players to take a break, and that I’m going to need a few minutes more with Pete.

Later, after the session was over, the three Players left in the room- Sandy, Rob & Jackie confessed that two of them thought that Sgt Harald was dead/lost-in-space/gone, and that Pete was genuinely raging/upset/angry.

Jackie (Pete’s wife) kept quiet around the gaming table, even when the other two guys asked her opinion- truth be told she knows the old git (Pete, not me) too well. If Sgt H was dead, she suspects that Pete would be in the garden smoking, swearing and kicking (mostly) inanimate objects.

Back to the kitchen- just me, Pete, and Sgt Harald.

The Dwarf suddenly falls ‘through’ a solid stone ceiling and then slams hard into the floor of another beautifully appointed study.

He’s hurt, but more importantly, where the hell is he?

As it turns out, after a few minutes spent investigating the place, he is in (as already stated) another beautifully appointed study- possibly a Wizard’s workroom (is Pete’s metagame suggestion).

There’s a door, Sgt Harald opens it- there’s a bookshelf attached to the other side of the door, the conjoined door swings open and reveals, the library-cum-study room with the domed ceiling the Brothers found earlier.

At which point half-a-dozen swirling spirals of scattered papers funnel up into the air, as if taking part in some crazy dance, the swirling paper whirlwinds (actually Paper Swarms) attack the Dwarf Fighter- all of them.

49 Paper Swarms.jpg


Sgt Harald receives paper cuts aplenty (although, they’re just cuts- Sgt H has ‘20’ Constitution and the biggest bag of hit points the world has ever seen- at 12th level he has something like 130). The Dwarf, even after his adventure in space, is not even bloodied.

Sgt H starts screaming for his colleagues, and then weighs in to the “paper-bastards” (his words) with his magical battleaxe- he Crits, then hits- and a Paper Swarm is gone (shredded), then he fixes on a second swarm, and… Crits again.

Pete is a bastard.

He does his hands above his head (as if scoring a goal) run around screeching thing, again.

It annoys the hell out of me, every time.

The Players, back in the other room and at the gaming table are alerted that things are definitely okay when Pete (who’s still in the kitchen with me), the silly bugger, (and as described above) starts whooping, shouting and laughing like a drain.

There goes the surprise and/or suspense.

So, I leave Pete for a while and then head back to the gaming table- what have the other PCs been doing since Sgt H blinked out of existence?

As it turns out, not much- although it has been less than five minutes between then… and now.

Therefore, to make things a bit more difficult, remember Lummins edged out on the space-walkway to get a better look at the spiralling Sgt Harald, well a second after the Dwarf popped out of existence the Cleric of Lathander is hit by a much smaller meteor.

The fist-sized space boulder clips Lummins, and it’s only his quick thinking (and a very good skill check)- and his Winged Boots, of course, that save the day- he gets back off the space walkway- tout suite.

Then the PCs mostly prevaricate.

And as I’ve stated already, the secret’s out of the bag- Pete’s whooping with delight has assured them that Sgt H is healthy and well. It doesn’t help my cause that the gurning idiot also puts his head around the door while I’m talking with the other Players, and asks “Can I come back in yet? Have they found me?”

So, we get on with things.

But before we do, just to say- I wanted a bit more oomph from the space-walkway-tiny-meteor encounter, so I added a bit of levity, gravity, and fun (and 2001)- and it worked well until spaceman Pete opened his big mouth.

Sorry, back to it…

The four Brothers in the passageway suddenly hear Sgt Harald swearing and shouting, the noise is coming from the study-cum-library, the chamber they only just investigated.

They rush in… in time to see Sgt H caught in a paperwork maelstrom (we’ve all been there).

He’s a sight for sore eyes, as is Pete back around the gaming table again, and with a perma-grin in place.

It gets to fighting, and it’s the Brother’s favourite sort of fight- plenty of enemies, and easy.

Lummins barges his way in and begins laying fiery waste to the Paper Swarms- he conjures up five Scorching Rays, all hits, and decimates three of the swirling vortices.

Hotlips and Watt open up with the artillery, and another Paper Swarm spirals out of existence.

Suddenly there’s just one left… not for long, two more Paper Swarms form from the scattered scrolls, Lummins takes paper cuts, as does Sgt Harald.

Lux Eldritch Blasts the last Paper Swarm menacing Sgt Harald to pieces.

And this is getting me (the kindly DM) nowhere fast, so I unleash another eight Paper Swarms into the chamber, or else the literary vortices spontaneously form- mostly concentrated around the fat Dwarf, Sgt Harald.

That’s all of the enemies in play for this encounter.

The Dwarf takes a few more cuts, but then gets his Second Wind and starts laying waste to his writerly foes, and yet another Paper Swarm is shredded.

Lux is assailed by another Paper Swarm, her Hellish Rebuke scorches it to a cinder- instantly, that was 58 Fire damage (the Paper Swarms are Vulnerable to Fire, of course).

Lummins, also beset by the swirling monstrosities unleashes his Radiance of the Dawn (but with low damage rolls), only one more Paper Swarm dissipates, another is taken out by Hotlips and her crossbow. While Watt also continues to fire his bow into the attackers.

Lux Shocking Grasps another Paper Swarm to frazzled ash, there are only four left in action, a majority of them still surrounding Sgt Harald.

Lummins starts up with his Scorching Rays again, he destroys the Paper Swarm still menacing Lux- three left, this is easy. Too soon- and then with a stray Scorching Ray (and a ‘1’) sets a bookcase on fire.

Oh bugger!

Hotlips & Watt continue with the artillery, and soon after another Paper Swarm is spent- just two left.

Lux goes again with her Eldritch Blasts, and then one left, and then- at last, none.

The Brothers of the First Light scramble, they all rush to stifle the fire, which burns for only a minute or so- smothered by a hasty collection of blankets and bedrolls, mostly thanks to a flying Lummins.

And the fight is over.

Sgt Harald is back with his (sorta) friends, all is well with the world- although the PCs have expended plenty of their spells and other resources.

The Players are keen to take another short rest, possibly a long rest- and to swap out a few spells (during the long rest, maybe) in an effort to deal with astral walkway problem.

There follows ten to fifteen minutes more chatter amongst the Players, three of them are definite that they should take some form of rest, alas the one dissenter is Sgt Harald (Pete) who just wants to “get on with it.”

But that’s as much as time allows, we’re at the end of the session, and the Brothers have made very little headway, they loved the action in the session itself, but are frustrated to find themselves still chasing the fake Blue Dragon Mask.

I fear there’s going to be a rush to get to the end in the next session.

See you then.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
We D&D.

Hi there, just to say that while my tabletop game is on hold at the moment, and has been for a while- for obvious reasons. I have however managed to scramble together an online game, we've called it- Dark Squad.

You can find it here-

Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel.

Thanks for reading, stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers Goonalan
 

Nthal

Lizard folk in disguise
We D&D.

Hi there, just to say that while my tabletop game is on hold at the moment, and has been for a while- for obvious reasons. I have however managed to scramble together an online game, we've called it- Dark Squad.

You can find it here-

Dark Squad in the Sunless Citadel.

Thanks for reading, stay safe and well you lovely people.

Cheers Goonalan
Glad that you could; some of mine have been successful in transitions, others can't even start properly.

But keep safe all the same.
 

Goonalan

Adventurer
Supporter
We D&D.

Session #61 The Rise of Tiamat #20a Iskander at Last aka Hotlips FTW.

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

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

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


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

The Brothers of the First Light are beneath Xonthal’s Tower, and still looking to rescue Iskander (a Cult of the Dragon turncoat) who has the Blue Dragon Mask in his grasp.

The PCs however know that the Blue Dragon Mask here is another fake- although, Lux (Sandy) still believes that it could all turn out for the best in the end. In short, she thinks that I (your kindly DM) am double bluffing them, and that somehow the Blue Dragon Mask here is going to turn out to be the real thing.

Hope’s a funny thing.

SPOILER ALERT- the Blue Dragon Mask here is a fake.

Last we left them the Brothers of the First Light had just recovered Sgt Harald who had made his first spacewalk (actually space-fall, may be more accurate), this after the Dwarven Fighter was hit by passing meteors causing him to tumble off a very odd walkway. The walkway in question requires those taking the path to gambol/gamble through the heavens to get to the other side.

In recovering Sgt Harald, the Brothers have also discovered the presence of a secret chamber, a spell study- hidden behind one of the bookcases in the study-cum-library chamber they investigated previously. The new chamber is therefore thoroughly searched, more take-ables (mundane Wizardly items) are taken, but nothing of interest.

A further search for secret chambers reveals another hidden door behind a bookcase, the observation room is found, an empty chamber save for the ten foot crystal pane that floats in the air. The scrying portal (Lux quickly establishes) shows a fiery vista- Lummins speculates, that they’re viewing the Abyss, or else some other Hell.

There’s a control rod for the scrying sensor (think CCTV camera) which Lux tries (and fails) to manipulate, eventually Hotlips is deemed the best suited to play this game- but even she struggles to control the thing.

Frustrating, and yet none of the PCs are certain that anything they do here will help them traverse the problematic space-walkway.

Now, back to the argument about taking a short or else a long rest, or as Sgt Harald would have it- no rest at all, “let’s just get on.”

Remarkably Sgt Harald (Pete) wins the day, the Brothers will keep trying to figure a way across, at least for a while.

So, back to truncated corridor, the vast vista of space- with meteors flashing by, and in the distance- the other half of the corridor, and the end (the PCs think) to their problems here in Xonthal’s Tower.

Much more chatter follows, and then… Hotlips, without announcing it, just rushes across the void- and to the other side, easy.

Hotlips (Sandy) has an idea.

“I’ll just go and see what’s over here…”

And so, while her comrades dither, prevaricate, or else shout for the Rogue to “Come back you fool!”

Hotlips goes on, as stealthily as she can, the corridor ends in a crossroads (of sorts), a plain wooden door ahead, a passage east- with a light at the end of it, and the sound of singing (perhaps) coming from that direction. To the west however the bloody footprints go- Hotlips follows.

To another plain wooden door, and then after checking it for locks and traps, and anything else she can think of, the Rogue opens the portal and enters a very strange chamber.

Suspended by a lattice of taut chains are two fifteen-foot-tall hourglasses, their time spent, the sand pilled in the lower bulbs. The Halfling Rogue examines the mechanism for a while, there seems to be a way to turn the timer’s over- to start the flow of sand, and time (perhaps) again.

But does she want to try?

Hotlips remembers her quarry, and then follows the bloody footprints to the sprawled and very dead body of a very tall Dragon Cult Wizard- Iskander, she believes (and she’s right). Clutched in the fellow’s hand is the (fake) Blue Dragon Mask. Without thinking she grabs the artefact and then dashes back the way she came.

Ignoring all else.

All the way to the space-walkway, at which point she screams and shouts at her (still) waiting comrades and waves/flaps the (fake) Blue Dragon Mask above her head- “Iskander’s dead. I’ve got the Mask”, and with that she’s off again- racing across the void.

A shimmy as a trio of meteors come close, but then Hotlips is back to her friends, and grinning like a loon.

As is Sandy (who plays Hotlips).

And the other Players around the gaming table, who have been holding their breath- or else offering whispered suggestions- all of which have been shushed into silence by Sandy (Hotlips) and/or me, at last come alive again.

It gets raucous.

It’s early in the session but we have our hero- Hotlips, for the win.

Just to say the space walkway trap really (and I mean, really) fazed them, the spellcasters generally have attacking spells, cures and a few others for controlling monsters; they don’t tend to pick any ‘useful’ spells. Obviously, it doesn’t help that there’s no Wizard in the party.

It also didn’t help that the Players had (particularly between sessions) somehow built up the difficulty of traversing the strange space-walkway. Just for info it’s a DC10 Dexterity check to get across- but the Players watched three people step out onto the space-bridge, and two of them get knocked off, they thought it was a DC16, or DC18 check- they speculated about this for a good while.

Shame they didn’t all get across, there were some nice gewgaws to play with (for a DM) on the far side of the void, I was going to mess with the PCs, and time itself, if they had flipped the hourglasses over. Likewise, I was looking forward to getting the Efreeti, Taraz the Fair, into action- he would have promised the Brothers the Moon-on-a-Stick to escape his present confinement, that would have been fun too.

Ah, well- onwards…

But now the Brothers of the First Light have the (fake) Blue Dragon Mask, and they want some answers- they therefore head back to the study-cum-library chamber and settle in for a rest. Time for Lummins to fire-up his Commune spell and ask his Deva pal Halogen a few more questions.

So, rest and resolution.

Lummins has three yes/no questions, they are, with the answers-

Is this the real Blue Dragon Mask? NO. Well, that’s that then…

Is the real Blue Dragon Mask located somewhere in the Spine of the World mountains? YES.

Then after some more discussion with his colleagues-

Is it likely that we will have to battle Tiamat? YES.

So, that’s settled.

In truth the PCs/Players are left in a bit of a grump- nobody in their right mind believed Lux when she stated repeatedly that this could be the real thing- the genuine Blue Dragon Mask. Sandy (playing Lux) was of the belief that the fiendish DM was in fact (somehow) lying to the Brothers. She genuinely believed that there was a twist here…

The other Players were much less convinced, and yet they all still hoped.

So, the moods not great, but we get on- after a short rest in the study-cum-library, and a little extra time spent selecting some choice books to steal from the bookshelves, the PCs head on- or else, out.

Using trial and error the Brothers make further use of the Teleporter, first back into the Tower proper, then back to the arrival chamber, and then out- to the Teleporter in the clearing outside of Xonthal’s Tower, where the last remnants of the Dragon Cult are waiting for them.

That’s two Cult Mages and five more Fanatics, all with MAX HP and better still… with surprise.

50 Tower Clearing.jpg


The first thing the Brothers know about the situation is when a Fireball erupts in their midst, a second later and an Ice Storm hits. Then the Fanatics rush in, and it gets nasty, and at this point Lummins is on approx. 30 HP (from full), while Watt and Lux are just about bloodied. Hotlips with Evasion manages to dodge almost all of the harm, while Sgt Harald just soaks up the Fire and Cold damage- he has a ton of hit points.

A Cult Fanatic stops Watt in his tracks with a Hold Person, three more Fanatics try the same trick on a variety of other PCs, alas (for me) they all make their saves.

Then, inevitably, the fight back starts- Lummins fires up his Blade Barrier- while ascending in flight, one of the Cult Mage’s attempts to Counterspell the Priest but fails- and so a swirling five-foot-thick wall of blades encircles the largest concentration of Cultists. Then with his Inspiration Point the Priest of Lathander casts a Lesser Restoration on Watt, and the Bard is no longer Paralyzed.

A Cult Fanatic comes charging through the Blade Barrier, and is shredded and bloodied in an instant, and yet the Fanatic doesn’t slow up it gets to Watt with an Inflict Wounds spell- or rather, nearly, at the last moment the Cultist slips on the ice surrounding the Brothers and ends up sprawled before the Bard (‘1’).

The Counterspelling Cult Mage finds himself momentarily bisected by Lummins’ Blade barrier, he escapes the terrifying blade-storm (at a price), and then applies Greater Invisibility to himself.

Watt launches a max-enhanced Fireball into a clutch of Cultists, they burn but mostly struggle on, seconds later the same three enemies are encompassed by Lux’s terrifying Hunger of Hadar- which is proving to be the go-to spell for these occasions.

Those within the inky sphere, needless to say, suffer considerably.

Sgt Harald steps over and with his battleaxe decapitates the Cult Fanatic sprawled before Watt.

There are now no other visible enemies to attack- two Fanatics and a Mage are flailing within Lux’s Hunger of Hadar spell, while two more Fanatics are trapped within the Blade Barrier (but they’ll be out in a second). The last enemy, a Cult Mage is, of course, manoeuvring and Invisible.

Moments later a heavily wounded Cult Fanatic escapes the Blade Barrier, rushes at Sgt Harald but fails to make an impression on the Fighter, or to land a hit. A second follows suit through the Barrier, it emerges bloodied and worse, and then also fails to connect with Watt.

A second or so later and a Cult Fanatic manages to stagger its way out of the Hunger of Hadar, and then get to Hotlips with an Inflict Wounds, and that hurt.

Lummins flies about a bit- there’s no-one left trapped in his Blade Barrier, and yet he lets the spell run, for good measure he unleashes his Radiance of the Dawn, two Fanatics are left mostly broken, while a third is killed outright.

Hotlips stabs another Fanatic dead, and then moves off and injures a second- the only enemy the PCs have in sight at the moment.

Watt spreads a little loving with a Mass Cure Wounds.

At which point the Cult Wizard with the Greater Invisibility spell gets himself position and unleashes his Cone of Cold, the freezing ray engulfs four of the five PCs (and, alas, a Cult Fanatic)- there is screaming around the table- particularly when I roll 49 Cold damage. Then, as it turns out, all of the PCs (except Watt) make their saves. Oh, but the Fanatic caught in the blast is turned into an elaborate ice sculpture- he’s dead.

Watt’s bloodied, Lux is close to it.

The Cult Mage, of course, doesn’t appear when he casts the spell- Greater Invisibility you see.

Alas there are now no enemies in sight- a Cult Mage and a Fanatic are still struggling within the Hunger of Hadar, while the second Mage is of course still scooting around with his Greater Invisibility cast.

Lux therefore takes to firing Eldritch Blasts into the area she thinks the (Greater) Invisible Mage is standing- she’s not even close.

More remarkably Sgt Harald kinda repeats the trick only with instant success.

Let me explain, we play mostly at the gaming table with a big ol’ Chessex Battlemat, with a bit of terrain drawn out on it (i.e. for this fight just the position of the Tower). The PCs recently engulfed by the Cone of Cold managed to tell which direction the spell came from. Lux used her turn to fire her Eldritch Blasts into three of the twenty something squares on the mat that could be home to the (Greater) Invisible Cult Mage- all were misses. So far, so good… then Sgt Harald (Pete) wanders into Cult Mage’s suspected firing arc. The Dwarf is swatting with his battleaxe, and the first square he selects to attack- is where the Mage is standing.

EXPLETIVE typical.

Of course, (with Disadvantage, remember) he hits… and then he hits again (and the Wizard fails his Concentration check the second time around), and there he is… so, Sgt Harald hits the Mage again.

Then with an Action Surge, he hits the Mage again, and the Dragon Cult bad guy is down to just less than 20 HP.

At which point the other Cult Mage, at last, comes to his senses and escapes Lux’s Hunger of Hadar spell, he too makes full use of his Greater Invisibility spell.

The PCs however are unaware of this event.

Just for info, there’s one Cult Fanatic still trapped within the Hunger of Hadar. To escape the spell (to remember the way out) I ruled way back when that any creature inside the inky black must make a DC10 Wisdom or Intelligence check to move towards the exit. Otherwise the inhabitant of the Hunger of Hadar would just stand statue (very low roll), or more likely wander in a random direction (and hopefully at some point find their way out). Anyway, the Cult Fanatic within the black has failed to find the way out four times in a row so far, he’s on 6 HP and still stuck in the hurty-bubble.

I thought when I set DC10 to escape that it would be easy for my bad guys to get out, I thought I had got one over Lux/Sandy by setting the DC so low. However, I have lost countless bad guys to Lux’s Hunger of Hadar spell, the spell has proven to be the bane of any (and every) encounter in which Lux uses it.

Lummins, still flying, at last cancels his Blade Barrier spell, and then surrounds himself with his Spirit Guardians, flying forward to make sure the visible Cult mage is within range.

Unbeknownst to the Priest both Cult Mages are actually now within the compass of his spell.

The jammy (lucky) bastard.

Then, however Hotlips gets to the visible Cult Wizard, and stabs the guy up real pretty like- he’s dead.

So, we’re back to no enemies in sight- one Fanatic still trapped in the Hunger of Hadar, and a (Greater) Invisible Cult Wizard who is actually in range of Lummis Spirit Guardians, but hasn’t been spotted (at all) by the PCs, they think this guy is still inside the Hunger of Hadar.

Suddenly the aforementioned Spirit Guardians start flashing and slashing with their radiant swords, a second later (after I roll a ‘1’ for the Cult Mage’s concentration check) guess who appears, and the PCs readied actions are manifold.

The last Cult Mage left standing is swiftly shot twice by Watt, and then Eldritch Blasted to pieces by Lux.

Back in the inky bubble the last Fanatic silently expires.

Encounter over.

That however is the first half of the session, the Pizza has arrived.

I only have time to tell the Brothers of the First Light that now the action is over they can see, and hear, the great (by which I mean HUGE) Blue Dragon that is laying waste to the village close to Xonthal’s Tower.

More of this in a bit.
 

COMING SOON: 5 Plug-In Settlements for your 5E Game

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