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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.


We D&D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, right!

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

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

Oh, and in a moment of clever Lux asks the captured Dral for the name of the Red Wizard of Thay- so, it’s Azbara Jos- and while you have been reading that name for the past I don’t know how long, the PCs have only just learned it.

This session however starts with a speech, which soon turns in to a love-in, Sgt Bobby (Pete) having had two weeks (between sessions) to think about things has something to say. It starts with ‘sorry’ and then goes on to explain his reasons for sometimes acting like a ‘petulant child’ (Pete’s words), it all started in his childhood… kidding, but he has his reasons- and now we know them. After the speech comes the glistening eyes, and the mutual love-in because we do indeed love Pete, who couldn’t- with his sad eyes and black t-shirt clad paunch. So, we’re all the best of friends again, in truth I wasn’t aware there was a time when we were anything other than the best of friends.

We move on, to a new emotional and spiritual plane. With the hope, postulated repeatedly and loudly by all four players, of smushing more of my bad guys and in general upsetting all of my plans. The Brothers of the First Light have found new impetus for their cause- they have rededicated themselves to pissing me off. Oh, how we (they) laughed- dagnabbit.

And so, now we are ready to plunge through the magical portal in pursuit of Rezmir & Azbara, only… Lux (Human Warlock) has remembered that when they were doing their reconnaissance of the castle, prior to the revolution proper, she spotted that the Keep in the centre of the structure had a glass roof, like an observatory. Lux stated at the time that she wanted to investigate this place when the fighting was done- and then she, and her comrades in arms, swiftly forgot all about it.

Well, now she’s remembered again (between sessions), and so… there are no dissenters, the Brothers of the First Light enter the lower floor of the Keep for a nose around. A very neat bedchamber on the ground floor contains a locked and magically trapped chest, at least that’s what Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) thinks, and is soon proved right when the trap goes off and the Halfling suffers minor acid burns. The chest is empty… of course, Azbara took his spellbook with him.

On the next floor up another very nice bedroom, with equally well-appointed adjoining rooms, gives up a chest full of cash, actually Dral’s emergency fund- he won’t be needing it. Then up another flight of stairs and in to the observatory proper- which is exactly what the chamber is. Lux explains to Sgt Bobby that the strange metal and glass device (the Fareseer of Illusk- although the Warlock actually thinks the device is just an odd-looking telescope) is used to observe heavenly bodies, nicely setting up Sgt Bobby (Pete) for a very crude reply.

At which point the four Gargoyles sitting atop the castle battlements suddenly leap in to life and shatter their way in to the observatory. Alas only Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) spots the stony monsters before they swoop in to attack- Watt (Human Bard) and Lux are both clawed, while Lummins is bitten- his Warding Flare fails to save him. The Priest of Lathander is not at all happy and immediately unleashes his Radiance of the Dawn- all of the Gargoyles suffer in the burst of holy light.

63 Gargoyles.jpg

Hotlips scurries away from the Gargoyle attacking her (Disengage) and then heads over- rapier in hand to help out Lux, moments later the Gargoyle facing the Warlock is beyond bloodied (Sandy knows how to get in her Sneak Attack). Lux finishes the beast off with a Shocking Grasp.

That’s the first one down- easy as.

Watt keeps a Gargoyle at bay and then stabs it with his rapier- the weapon (not magical) barely leaves a scratch, the Bard lets his colleagues know. Lummins’ Warding Flare fails again, and the Priest is bitten once more. The Gargoyle Hotlips avoided chases the Halfling Rogue down but fails again to land a blow (‘1’ & ‘1’).

Lummins fills the observatory with the spectral spirits of Lathander’s warriors of Light (he casts Spirit Guardians). Sgt Bobby hits the Gargoyle facing Watt twice, his magical longsword, cuts deep. Hotlips also stabs the Gargoyle she’s facing, but her dagger lacks the magical taint needed to really hurt her foe, Lux grabs at the creature and unleashes another Shocking Grasp (and another hit) but still the Gargoyle persists.

Then the initiative counter ticks around to one of the Gargoyles, and the beast is swiftly bested by Lummins’ Spirit Guardians- smashed to pieces.

Two down.

The Gargoyle facing Lummins however seems unconcerned by the ghostly attackers- it bites the Priest again (Warding Flare fails for the third time in quick succession)- he’s bloodied.

Watt gets his bow out (it’s magic) and sinks an arrow in to one of the two remaining Gargoyles, who are proving to be tough bastards, seconds later the same beast- beset on all sides by Spirit Guardians attempts to flee the scene and gets stabbed in the leg by Hotlips’ magical rapier and immediately ceases functioning, it drops to shatter on the floor.

Three down.

Just one Gargoyle left, still attacking Lummins, Sgt Bobby rushes over and stabs the elemental creature, Lux hits it with an Eldritch Blast, while Watt fires two more arrows in to it and then, at last, Lummins’ Spirit Guardian’s rip the stony bastard to pieces.

The fight is done, although for Jackie (Watt) and Sandy (Lux & Hotlips) it’s the start of the inquiry, the pair need more information- specifically, how and why were the Gargoyles so difficult to damage. Some monsters (the kindly DM states) are resistant to various forms of damage- fire, electricity, cold etc., while others require magic weapons to properly do harm to them. Certain, terrifying creatures combine both traits- with multiple resistances, and even immunity to some forms of damage. Somehow this rule has managed to evade both Jackie and Sandy, I am- they tell me, a ‘cheating bugger’ for not making this clearer. It’s a cross I am willing to bear.

Then the room gets investigated and it quickly becomes apparent that the telescope-like-device in the observatory is something far more fabulous, Lux identifies it after close inspection- it’s called the Farseer of Illusk. Even more remarkably she gets the device to work, although it produces a somewhat blurred representation- not of the stars, the device is not pointing upwards, but rather the lens points down slightly and to the west, the viewer shows the Carnath Roadhouse.

The Roadhouse is a wreck.

The compound walls have been torn down, or else burnt… or, perhaps not fire- something terrible has happened there. The roof of the main building is holed- smoke (or steam, or mist) issues from the opening. Just visible, although hard at first to ascertain, are the bodies of the fallen scattered around the compound.

And moving amongst them, very much alive, are the Dragon Cultists picking through the dead- the bastards.

Lux continues to watch through the view finder, when suddenly a Black Dragon the size of a cart-horse muscles its way out of the hole and on to the roof of the building. It roars and then turns to stare directly at the viewer, which causes the Warlock to shriek and rear up, and suddenly she’s back in the room. Lux tells her friends what she has seen, and less than a minute later a decision is made- it’s the most decisive I’ve ever seen them.

The Brothers of the First Light are heading for the portal- now, although if possible they’re going to come back for the Farseer of Illusk at some point in the future- they realise it would take hours to dismantle the device.

DM Interlude- just a note to say I didn’t really understand the image that the Farseer of Illusk was supposed to reveal to the PCs (in the Module), the fact that there are two Black Dragons, two Scaly Dreads is kinda- Meh! At least the effort it would take to make this some part of the story, and something of value to spy upon by the PCs, is… ridiculous. So, I went for the ‘giddy-up’ and showed the PCs the threat (the Black Dragon) and what it can do (the slaughter at the Carnath Roadhouse) and then implied it was heading the PCs way- it worked a dream.

Okay, back to the story-

En route to the portal below the following things are also achieved-

a) Snapjaw is thanked profusely, and informed that there’s a Dragon, possibly, heading this way. Snapjaw is intrigued- Lux describes the Dragon and Snapjaw is elated- it’s Scaly Dread- the Scaly Death Lizardfolk clan’s Black Dragon ruler. “Huzzah!” says Snapjaw. “Bugger that!” say the Brothers of the First Light, they’re not hanging around (even Pete, he’s been reborn) to see what Scaly Dread wants. That aside, Snapjaw is obviously overjoyed to have made the PCs acquaintance and informs them that they will always be welcome back in the Mere of the Dead (which is nice). Moments later two Lizardfolk- Gawp (Lummins) & Ping (Lux) swear to serve the named pair for a year and a day, as per their agreement. Woo-Hoo, although at least two of the Players are a little miffed that they’ve not been given Lizardfolk servitors too.

b) Lummins casts a Sending spell directed to Leosin Erlanthar (the Harper Monk the guy’s rescued), stating- “Following loot through portal Castle Naerytar, Mere Dead. Two days east Carnath Roadhouse. Friendly Lizardfolk here have Cult prisoners & info. Ware Dragon!”

c) Lummins heals himself, and then begs Watt for some more of the same- the Bard obliges; the Cleric is still wounded however, as are several of the other PCs.

The PC, after another quick chat, then attempt to take a Short Rest while waiting at the portal- they’d all really like to spend a few healing HD. However, their rest is interrupted only ten minutes later when Hotlips comes rushing back to her comrades. She’s been on watch up on the surface- the Black Dragon Scaly Dread has arrived and has started ‘punishing’ (for which read- ‘eating’) the Lizardfolk of the Scaly Death clan.

Snapjaw was the first to be eaten, the Halfling states- the revolution is well and truly over it seems.

The PCs therefore make immediate use of the magical portal, remember they’re expecting to be teleported in to a Dragon Cultist redoubt of some sort, they’re therefore as ready as they can be and primed for battle.

Episode 7: Hunting Lodge.

Which looks somewhat odd when they all instantly appear looking like a densely populated version of the silhouetted Charlie’s Angels- all in action poses with spells and swords ready for the imminent attack. They’re in a beautiful sun-dappled forest- whipped by a cooling wind, and standing between a pair of hefty looking menhirs, a well-trod track leads a hundred or-so yards to a large manor-style house. The PCs continue a while in their silhouette pose- not wanting to make a move, or a sound, just in case- but nothing stirs.


DMs Note- the PCs are all still dressed as Dragon Cultists, with Lux doing her finest impersonation of Frulam Mondath- Wearer of Purple (she has Disguise Self AT WILL), also she’s definitely back in charge of the gang- Pete’s revolution is over.

Another decision is quickly made, the PCs retreat a little from the manor house- they’re going to try to take their much-needed rest, and only then investigate the place- or at least circle around the building.

Which, of course, doesn’t happen.

Because I am a very bad man.

Thirty minutes in to their down time the PCs come alive as a pair of Trolls accompanied by a trio of Ambush Drakes come shuffling through the undergrowth- they were attempting to creep up on the PCs, but (alas) my dice fail to make it happen.


64 Lodge Trolls & Drakes.jpg

Seconds later Watt is bitten as a ferocious Ambush Drake dashes straight in to the middle of the adventurers, Hotlips ducks in to the undergrowth and then with her crossbow Assassinates one of the other two Drakes. The last Drake, and its Troll handler, suddenly disappear from sight- engulfed by Lux’s Hunger of Hadar, seconds later however the Troll emerges from the inky blackness- teeth chattering and burned by acid- and howling, but also very much alive, and very angry.

Watt unleashes a Shatter spell- wounding both of the Trolls, and also the Drake biting at his legs, the latter is almost broken by the spell’s fury. One of the Trolls claws and snaps at the Bard, but Watt evades the vicious bugger. Moments later the Ambush Drake caught within the Lux’s Hunger of Hadar also emerges from the globe of darkness- battered but not broken by the spell.

Sgt Bobby gets in to action, at last, and cuts a wounded Troll- although thanks only to some Bardic Inspiration. Lummins opens up with his Scorching Rays and both Trolls are burnt, and now neither are regenerating. Moments later Hotlips emerges from hiding behind a Troll and stabs the beast repeatedly. Lux goes for a Shatter spell- a badly wounded Drake dies, and one of the Trolls is hurt some more.

Just for info neither Troll has managed to land a hit yet- it’s my dice that are broken now.

Watt’s Thunderwave kills the last Drake standing and sends one of the Trolls staggering back, both beasts are now bloodied and worse, but neither is giving up- one tears in to Hotlips, the Halfling’s Uncanny Dodge prevents some of the hurt, but she’s left badly wounded.

Sgt Bobby cuts the Troll he’s facing twice more (one a Crit) and the beast screams loud enough to wake the dead. Lummins attempts to silence it with a trio of Scorching Rays and is off-target with every attack.

Hotlips stabs the Troll she’s facing one more time, and then dives in to the vegetation behind her and burrows through it until she’s well out of sight, and reach. Lux launches a Fire Bolt in to a Troll, the creature attempts to flee- it doesn’t get far, Sgt Bobby cuts it down.

Watt retreats, grabs out his bow, and moments later fires two arrows in to the last Troll standing, which screeching like a stuck-pig as it goes, also attempts to flee the scene.

The Brothers, keen to silence the beast, give chase- briefly, Sgt Bobby manages (at long range) to thunk a dagger in its back (with a Crit), Lummins hits it with a Sacred Flames, while Hotlips emerges again from hiding and fires a crossbow bolt in to the beast. Finally, Lux takes it down with another Eldritch Blast (and yet another Crit)- the PCs gather around the beast, which is regenerating- they stab and pummel the Troll’s broken body while Lux spams the Firebolt button. The creature is destroyed.

Phew x2.

That was a less than friendly welcome to wherever the hell the PCs are.

Now time to take that much needed rest…

Except less than a minute later another Troll- accompanied by half-a-dozen Ambush Drakes that snarl and growl, and snap but never move too far away from the great beast, strides in to view and barks in broken Common- “Make sign!”

The Troll is clearly a brighter than average example of the species (it talks). The creature wears a great mossy cloak, and now the PCs are close enough they can see it has two pairs of arms- most odd (and even more terrifying, Pete states- “two more attacks every turn- EXPLETIVE GOES HERE”).

The PCs immediately make the five-fingered/headed sign of Tiamat.

Trepsin (the four-armed Troll) nods, then takes in the scene- dead Ambush Drakes and crisping, still smoking, Troll corpses. It nods, smirks and then grunts “Sorry”, then, “Follow”, and then turns and strides off- Ambush Drakes excitedly following, heading back towards the manor house.

Do the PCs attack the creature?

Nope, somewhat reluctantly they follow- they’ve got their backstory sorted, they’ve used it a few times now, and besides- it’s mostly Lux (Sandy) and the more charming PCs (Watt & Lummins) that do the talking.

Trepsin the Troll, Lux learns the creature’s name, is swiftly pumped for information, Lux (& Watt) learn the following- the owner of the manor house is someone called ‘Talis’. That’s it.

Two minutes later the Brothers et al are deposited outside of the front door of the manor house- Trepsin simply states “Wait” and then steps inside, wiping his feet first, the Drakes- much cowed follow the Troll in.

Time passes- and the PCs chat, there’s a lot of what if’s explored, but they’re not actually that nervous- they’re a fairly confident bunch these days- whatever happens next they’ll be ready.

Five minutes later and the PCs are ushered inside, with Trepsin and his Drakes sent back outside again- so effectively behind them- the PCs are a little more wary.

Through a cloakroom and in to a well-appointed, but tatty and somewhat faded, entrance hall- with an ornate wide stair case heading up to a balconied first floor. There are wall-hangings, Gargoyle-like statues and ornamental suits of armour- the place is an old hunting lodge, latterly a few items of Dragon Cult memorabilia have been added to the collection.

65 Hunting Lodge Talis.jpg

Waiting for the Brothers et al are an array of Cultists on the stairs- three of the fellows are obviously Cult warriors or else hired muscle, they’re protecting the fourth member of the company. Talis the White, a short woman clad in pure white scalemail glimpsed beneath a Winter Wolf cloak, and armed with a wand topped with a blue gemstone which seems to shiver and mist the air surrounding it.

Talis perfunctorily makes the sign of Tiamat, and then snaps- “I was not expecting visitors. State your names and your business?”

And then the interrogation begins- I didn’t want to make it easy for the guys, this place could prove to be a pretty awesome combat encounter- and there are plenty of unseen monsters and traps that Talis can call on- a Freezing Armour Trap, Gargoyles, Kobolds, more Cultists and my favourite the Helmed Horror. So, if the Players are going to snake out of a great fight then they’re going to have to work for it.

Talis fires off questions- Who are you? Why are you here? Where have you come from? Who do you work for? What do you do for them? Who else do you know? Where else have you been?

With secondary questions added to dig deeper in to the PCs (mostly Lux with a little bit of Lummins & Watt) story.

We do twenty plus minutes of this, and the dice rolls are mostly okay to good, the Brother’s story is actually getting better every time they tell it, in essence- they were recruited way back when (remember Lux, Lummins & Watt are all ex-Cultists) they mention names. They (actually Lux says ‘I’ a lot- SHE did everything, that’s the kind of gal Frulam Mondath is, Lux has decided) established contact with Venomfang, a powerful Green Dragon based in the ruined town of Thundertree (which was where the Blessed Avengers first met (& converted) the now Brothers of the First Light). Frulam got promoted (repeatedly) a Wearer of Purple working with Cyanwrath, and for Rezmir in various camps- attacking a variety of places (including Greenest) and gathering loot. Then two months commanding the Cult loot caravan up the Sword Coast, to Waterdeep and on. Then through the portal to here.

The sticky bit, the part of their story that takes some dragging out, or else Lux (Sandy) has to sort of make up on the spot, is the why they’re here.

Lux’s answers wander about a bit for a while before settling on something like the following, note the Warlock was making Insight checks aplenty as she went on with her story- trying to read Talis’ reactions (if any). Sandy (playing Lux) started out like she was delivering her report to a ‘boss’ (and making sure that she looks good in the telling) and then changed her tack slightly (see below). Lux’s Insight checks revealed (perhaps) that Talis is no great admirer of Rezmir.

And so…

Lux goes on to explain that she and her comrades in arms have been working for Rezmir for quite a while now, and while the Half-Black Dragon is powerful, she is (respectfully) not yet a great leader. They were left to clear up the mess of Camp Dragonclaw when the place broke up. It was up to them to arrange, and then guard, the Cult loot on its journey north. Rezmir made her own way north, travelling in comparative luxury. They eventually arrived at Castle Naerytar just in time to witness a Lizardfolk revolution, and only just managed to escape the place through the portal (to here) with their lives. Rezmir- it appears, realised the way the wind was blowing with regard to the bolshie Lizardfolk at the castle, she fled through the portal yesterday. The Half-Black Dragon did not see fit to tell Lux and her comrades where she was going- or why?

Remember, every time I write ‘they’ above you need to imagine Lux (Frulam- actually Sandy, she’s a school teacher) saying “I” a lot and getting increasingly irate as she goes on.

As to why they are here? Beyond, obviously, the fact that they were fleeing for their lives- they’re also looking to catch up with Rezmir, to report in and let the Half-Black Dragon know that they are very much still alive, no thanks (respectfully) to her.

Talis is convinced- she offers Frulam (Lux) and her comrades food, advice and a deal- although she warns the PCs that they are going to have to make their choice whether to accept her deal very quickly- Rezmir did indeed pass through here yesterday, and clearly in a rush to get away. However, the Half-Black Dragon will be far away from here by some time early tomorrow…

The PCs are keen to learn more, but that’s for the next session.

The chatter at the end with Talis was great in places- I pushed them/Sandy hard (a bit), but I was eager for the story to head in this direction, so it was all just about the journey.

Remarkably Sgt Bobby (Pete) kept schtum more or less throughout, and when he did comment- once or twice, he towed the party line. I don’t know why I was surprised at the time, he did great back in Camp Dragonclaw.

More of the same next session, and I managed to get in a minor cliff-hanger, what’s Talis’ deal?
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The reason there are two Black Dragon's is because they are actual FR NPC's part of the rather famous Wyrms of North section of Dragon Magazine. Several named Dragons in the 5e Adventures are from those articles.


Ahhh… so, now I know. I've never previously been FR enabled, not read any of the books, or well... any of it except the core modules and bits of the various handbooks.

Apologies for my ignorance- it just didn't make sense (to me) in the context of the adventure, I could have perhaps found a way to work it in but it would have required a ton of backstory and ultimately (probably) an extended explanation from me. Two of the players (Sandy & Jackie) have never read any fantasy fiction, or played any other RPG- around the table, or on a PC/console. Pete and Rob on the other hand have played D&D and electronic games, but neither of them are experts with the rules, or the milieu.

I just thought I'd use the Dragon to get the PCs moving and crank up the threat, and also to try to let the PCs know that this is all about them- some of the more prescient bad guys, like the Dragon, recognise that the PCs are a threat. They're important to this story.

Thanks for the info, very much appreciated, and thanks for reading.


Ahhh… so, now I know. I've never previously been FR enabled, not read any of the books, or well... any of it except the core modules and bits of the various handbooks.

Apologies for my ignorance- it just didn't make sense (to me) in the context of the adventure, I could have perhaps found a way to work it in but it would have required a ton of backstory and ultimately (probably) an extended explanation from me. Two of the players (Sandy & Jackie) have never read any fantasy fiction, or played any other RPG- around the table, or on a PC/console. Pete and Rob on the other hand have played D&D and electronic games, but neither of them are experts with the rules, or the milieu.

I just thought I'd use the Dragon to get the PCs moving and crank up the threat, and also to try to let the PCs know that this is all about them- some of the more prescient bad guys, like the Dragon, recognise that the PCs are a threat. They're important to this story.

Thanks for the info, very much appreciated, and thanks for reading.

Yeah here is the article.

The stats are 3.5 so not useful for you, but the lore itself is a cool read. Wyrms of the North: Voaraghamanthar, "the Black Death"

Also no need to apologize. Stuff like this is normally just an easter egg.


We D&D.

Session #37 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #23 The Hunger of Hadar.

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

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

Note, this is session #37 of our game but only session #23 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

The Brothers of the First Light et al are through the rabbit hole- or else through a magical portal and to Lathander knows where; they’re in the hills (probably), in a temperate zone- so still not too far north on the Sword Coast (probably), and at present located in a Cult held hunting lodge of sorts. The hunting lodge is owned/managed/run (whatever) by a (very?) senior Dragon Cultist called Talis. As it turns out Talis and the PCs have something in common- neither of them like Rezmir (the Half-Black Dragon Cult boss) that passed through here yesterday.

Oh, and Talis thinks that the PCs are a bunch of Dragon Cultists, recently in the employ of Rezmir, led by Frulam Mondath (part played by Lux (Human Warlock)). The PCs are very convincing Dragon Cultists- the roleplay, and their dice rolls say so, and that’s good enough for me.

65 Hunting Lodge Talis.jpg

There’s a lot of chatter at the start of this session, I’d worked up a little script- or else made a bunch of notes ahead of time, here’s how it goes down…

So, Talis has a deal to offer, or else she’s happy to help Frulam (Lux) and her companions in their efforts to catch up with the Half-Black Dragon- Rezmir. She would prefer it if Rezmir’s scheme involving the transportation of large quantities of gold (the stolen loot) heading to Tiamat knows where, was to fail. In fact, anything that makes Rezmir look bad would be good for Talis. In actual fact, now she thinks about it, if Rezmir were to meet with a fatal accident, well… that would be tragic, but Talis would learn to live with it. Obviously, Talis will deny ever meeting Frulam (Lux) and her friends, and if in the future it came out that they (Frulam and friends = the PCs) were responsible for Rezmir’s fatal ‘accident’ then she (Talis) would be the first to call for their deaths.

Which is nice to know.

Talis adds a little incentive to the deal, if the PCs fail to stop Rezmir’s plan (the transportation of the loot) then she will tell her superiors that Frulam (Lux) and friends, she has come to learn, have been plotting to kill Rezmir. She further guarantees that her superiors will believe her.

And several Insight checks later the PCs (most of them) also believe this to be true.

This is just how Lux, Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) and Watt (Human Bard) remember the Dragon Cult to be- a bunch of backstabbing nasty bastards.

Particularly the management (ain’t it always the way).

So, last bit- Talis will supply the means and the method for Frulam (still Lux) and company to get very close to Rezmir, to walk right in through the front door of the Half-Black Dragon’s present abode- which is, she explains, the flying castle of a Cloud Giant.

This last nugget of information- ‘the flying castle of a Cloud Giant’ sends several of the PCs frantically searching through their notes (including Pete- Sgt Bobby, which is amusing because Pete doesn’t make any notes). Sandy (Lux) reminds the other Players that the Golden Stag they encountered on the caravan journey to Waterdeep said something about a flying castle (to Derek (Human Druid)).

Here’s the actual quote from the previous session (#15 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen)-

The Golden Stag assures Derek that he and his companions are on the right track, and that they must continue to follow the river of gold (translated later: the Cult loot) until they reach the castle in the sky (Oh!).

The PCs can’t remember exactly what the Golden Stag said however, only that there was a flying castle somewhere in their future… perhaps that’s all the Stag said (correct).

So, the PCs (actually just Frulam = Lux) take exactly 0.372 seconds to accept the deal, Lux even fishes about a bit for a reward- yes, they’ll stop Rezmir’s plan, but if Talis wants them to kill the Half-Black Dragon then there’s got to be something in it for Frulam.

The two feisty ladies exchange barbed comments, veiled threats, and wry smiles for a short while.

Or else I bark at Sandy and she barks back at me for a bit, mostly it’s trying to make each other crack up, or else giggle.

The deal eventually negotiated is- Talis will owe Frulam a favour, or else she will give Frulam a leg-up- ensure that good things are said about her and her colleagues in all of the right places. Obviously Frulam and company must continue to be loyal to Talis, and to stay silent, any whisper of disloyalty and Talis will send Trepsin (and plenty of others) to sort them.

So that’s the conspiracy sorted, and just to say I probably could have a done a lot of this chatter (we took over thirty minutes to get this far) via e-mail with Sandy between sessions. I didn’t do it that way because I wanted everybody to hear the deal, and although Sandy did a good 90% of the talking, I wanted to give the other Players the opportunity to react to the situation and/or get involved- and potentially to say, or do, the wrong thing.

Talis hands over a Dragon Cult banner, actually just a piece of cloth with five different coloured stripes- black, blue, red, green and white; it should be displayed by the PCs to demonstrate their Cult credentials. She also provides a pass-phrase “Tiamat, our Mother and Strength”, which needs to be said when the PCs enter the main gate of the Cloud Giant flying castle. Finally, Talis provides directions to Parnast, a village about three or so hours up the trail, the present location (parked) of the Cloud Giant flying castle- which is scheduled to depart this evening.

It’s early-afternoon now, and so there’s no time like the present- Frulam (Lux, still), and her companions, offer their thanks, and then depart- at speed.

The Brothers of the First Light are semi-overjoyed, and still the most remarkable thing is that Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter played by Pete) didn’t say a word- best behaviour throughout.

My spy in the group has told me that there have been lots of e-mails between players in the last few weeks or so, basically Pete has agreed to fall in line, or else to play nicely more often. Yes, Sgt Bobby (& Sgt Harald (Dwarf Fighter)) are going to be rough, tough, and nasty- but only when it needs to happen. When there’s roleplaying to be done then Pete’s going to mostly leave it to Sandy, Rob and Jackie- it’s the part of the game he least enjoys. Actually, that’s not quite true- Pete loves (in character) shouting (and swearing) making threats and the like, he’s just less happy when he’s trying to be nice and/or negotiate with people (NPCs), particularly those NPCs that his PCs hate i.e. Dragon Cultists. Sgt Bobby, remember, is the only member of the Brothers of the First Light that isn’t an ex-Dragon Cultist, his motivation is he hates the bastards for what they did to Greenest (and for Cyanwrath humiliating him). He wants all of the Cultists to die, by his hand- if he had the choice.

The Brothers of the First Light therefore head to Parnast, following Talis’ directions, an easy journey through pleasant countryside- they are definitely in the hills however. Note none of the PCs, or the Players for that matter, know where Parnast is on the Sword Coast map.

En route, and during a short refuelling break in play, the Players wonder what info Talis possessed that they could use, or that could be of use to them in the future- after a while they’re starting to question their choice of roleplaying (deceiving) their way through the previous encounter. If they’d have attacked the bad guys could they have won? Taken Talis prisoner and discovered lots more useful info?

It’s not even Sgt Bobby (Pete) doing the doubting- it’s Lux (Sandy) and Watt (Jackie).

The other topic of conversation for their journey is- Cloud Giants and their flying castles. Sgt Bobby (actually very much Pete, out of character) is about 90% certain that Cloud Giant flying castles are linked to a specific Cloud Giant- killing the Cloud Giant in charge of the place could cause the castle to… Pete, isn’t so sure of the next bit- cease to exist, fall apart, break-up?

Also, Sgt Bobby thinks, although he’s only ‘50% certain’- his words, and yes- I know you can’t be 50% certain; certain = 100%. Anyway, he thinks that Cloud Giants, in general, are vaguely Good, as in not Evil, or maybe they’re Neutral in their outlook. He’s less sure of this ‘fact’.

Lastly, and this is the truly insightful bit- Sgt Bobby (again, Pete) is 75% certain that Giants and Dragons don’t actually get on- again, this is in general, which makes a Cloud Giant working for Dragon Cultists a bit odd. But no odder than some of the other stuff that Pete has read in WotC modules over the years, and he’s read, played (and DMed) several editions worth.

Then, then comes my surprise- the PCs are travelling along a cart path, through dappled woods- with the sound of birdsong and the susurrus wind shaking the trees and bushes. An idyll.

Even the glistening, pulsing, ball of light that hovers a little way above and ahead of the PCs is soothing… hang on! There’s a glistening, ball of light hovering just a little way above and ahead of them… WTF?

The PCs come to a halt- the light does the same.

The PCs do nothing- the light does the same.

The PCs move forward, slowly- the light does the same, maintaining the same distance from the PC’s- about ten meters.

Various PCs try various things- Lux asks the light or should that be ‘Light’- with a capital ‘L’ what it wants- the Light makes no reply. Sgt Bobby continues to stand statue- ready to go for his blade, sword hilt in hand, Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) is similarly situated- the pair are ready for any attack. Watt casts a Light cantrip and bobs his Light spell up and down- attempting some form of communication.

Lummins however has the answer, “A Blessing of Lathander”, he cries and falls to his knees- and no sooner is the last syllable of his God’s name uttered then the Light bursts and engulfs the Brothers of the First Light.

Quick Cut and Jump Cut we tumble through the following scenes-

a) A crowded room full of people dressed in their finest regalia- Lords and Ladies no doubt, the sound of chatter, although this is no trifle or dance- the inhabitants of the scene look concerned. Suddenly silence- all of the Lords and Ladies looking upwards- concentrating, seemingly, on the absence of sound, the scene fades- although the last individual seen is Ontharr Frume (the Dwarven Paladin, the PCs patron, and Order of the Gauntlet contact).

b) Suddenly running headlong through a hedge maze, darting down passages- dashing past other openings- the sound of heavy breathing. Voices- distorted, that sound like Lux, or Lummins, or Watt, or Sgt Bobby*- “Run!” Gasping- out of breath, sucking in air- desperate.

Note *a different voice each time- see below.

c) Low light, the crack and crunch of footsteps sinking in to snow- a mirror white cold light- we’re looking straight ahead at a wall of ice, there’s something dark within the ice- step back, step back, the shadow beneath the ice gets bigger… and bigger… and bigger, as the viewer continues to take step after step backwards. The viewer is breathing hard now- clearly agitated- the shadow in the ice is revealed- a galleon, a full rigged sailing ship- main mast perhaps fifty feet tall- with full sail, and crewed- all of it encompassed by the wall of ice. The dead crew frozen to the rail, mouths and eyes wide, they stare out at the living.

d) Suddenly running headlong through a hedge maze, darting down passages- dashing past other openings- the sound of heavy breathing. Voices- distorted, that sound like Lux, or Lummins, or Watt, or Sgt Bobby*- “Run!” Gasping- out of breath, sucking in air- desperate.

Note *a different voice each time- see below.

e) The Sword Coast seen from high above- high, high above- the drift of black smoke, cities and towns burning- Dragons on the wing, made tiny by the distance, at least a dozen of the creatures- suddenly a black wing, accompanied by a deafening roar, and the vision is gone.

f) Suddenly running headlong through a hedge maze, darting down passages- dashing past other openings- the sound of heavy breathing. Voices- distorted, that sound like Lux, or Lummins, or Watt, or Sgt Bobby*- “Run!” Gasping- out of breath, sucking in air- desperate.

Note *a different voice each time- see below.

g) A suitably creepy-looking stone chamber probably deep underground, lit by guttering torches- five red cloaked and robed individuals turn from the stone bier they are gathered around, they turn to face the viewer- all five are clearly Red Wizards of Thay. Behind them on the stone bier can be seen a body, or perhaps a corpse, of a sturdy looking Human- the physique and build a match for Sgt Bobby, although the face of the individual cannot be seen.

h) Suddenly running headlong through a hedge maze, darting down passages- dashing past other openings- the sound of heavy breathing. Voices- distorted, that sound like Lux, or Lummins, or Watt, or Sgt Bobby*- “Run!” Gasping- out of breath, sucking in air- desperate.

Note *a different voice each time- see below.

i) Light! Blinding LIGHT! Or else it should be blinding but it isn’t- the LIGHT! Is warming, healing, soothing- enlightening.

The PCs are suddenly back in the here and now, back in the hills and on the trail to Parnast- the glistening, pulsing light (the Blessing of Lathander)- slowly fades, to nothing.

No time has passed, the birdsong seems upon reflection to have been constant- uninterrupted, everything is as it is- which is as it was.

The next bit comes as a magnificent surprise for the Players- it’s time to level up again, all of the PCs are now level 7, that was a very short episode, and that was Lathander in action again.

And so, the break in play extends for a bit, for giggling and buffoonery- and spell selection, the casters have just acquired 4th level spells, and are indulging in what can only be described as raucous behaviour, some of it unseemly.

The Players are very happy indeed, mostly because they weren’t expecting it.

Also, because they think it is cool that they are the chosen ones… there’s lots of chatter and speculation about the various visions they have just witnessed, they think that their future holds the following (presented in the same order as the visions)-

a) Their patron Ontharr’s going to be in a meeting, they’re probably going to be there too- with lots of Lords and Ladies, then something happens… probably something bad- it usually is.

b) They’re going to get lost- possibly in a hedge maze, although that may just be a metaphor.

c) They’re going somewhere cold and icy, somewhere with a ship encased in an ice wall- do they have to dig the ship out (that would be cool- they say, and the DM takes note of it)?

d) Back in the maze, perhaps they have to get to places through the maze.

e) The Dragons are going to start attacking all over the Sword Coast.

f) Back in the maze some more.

g) They’re going to meet a bunch of Red Wizards of Thay, Sgt Bobby (perhaps) is fated to die (or else be captured)- and then be fiddled with by the aforementioned Red Wizards. Do the rest of the Brothers have to rescue Big Bad Bobby?

h) More maze time.

i) God is good- specifically Lathander who is very good.

Oh, and all of the PCs have taken an Extended Rest, although the encounter with the Light and the visions seems to have taken place in no time at all.

DM Interlude- I set this encounter up with Lummins (Rob), actually all I did was e-mail him and tell him he was going to see a Light at some point in this session and he would know it to be a servant of Lathander. I also warned him that I would be asking the other PCs what they were doing before I came to him- basically I wanted the reveal to come at the end, it worked like a dream (although see below). Obviously, I’m just setting up some of the stuff that’s to come in The Rise of Tiamat, I love a good bit of foreshadowing- particularly if I can work a bit of threat in to it- hence the body/corpse of Sgt Bobby on the bier with the Red Wizards. Don’t be afraid to do this- if Sgt Bobby dies then it will be Sgt Bobby on the bier with the Red Wizards, if he doesn’t die then it’ll be someone else- maybe someone the PCs know, maybe not.

And let’s face it if one of the PCs is going to fall it’s going to be the mad man Sgt Bobby, oft times he’s the only guy in the fight- the other four PCs preferring mostly to hang way back.

Great scene- although, a little confession…

Actually Lux (Sandy), and possibly Watt (Jackie), both figured out that the Light was a ‘servant’ or else ‘symbol’ of Lathander- I obviously just left that bit out of the above narrative to make me look good.

And so… Parnast.

Episode 8: Castle in the Clouds.

A small village, a dozen or more houses- neat and well looked after, a few head-down villagers move through the packed-earth square around which the few residences congregate. There’s a tavern, what looks to be a stable, and a shrine dedicated to… Bloody hell, also looming in and out of the cloud and fog is a massive (MASSIVE) ice castle with 40-foot-high walls (sized for Giants), complete with a number of blue-ice towers the tops of which cannot be seen. It’s… wonderous.

The PCs skip Parnast completely, and head straight to the castle- no time like the present.

Although the DMs not so sure about that- Rezmir (Half-Black Dragon Cult leader) has informed Captain Othelstan (the Cult boss of Parnast, a Dragonsoul) that the PCs could be coming this way. The good Captain has been ordered to detain them- fatally detain them, if necessary.

Therefore five (Cult) Guards rush over to the PCs to ask them to state their business- Frulam (Lux) displays the Dragon Cult banner, while the rest of the company make the sign of Tiamat. Frulam (Lux) then barks at the Guards for a while. My bad guys are on the backfoot- surely these can’t be the ones that Captain Othelstan is looking for- how could they have the banner, know the signs, and sound so convincing etc.

The (Cult) Guards ask the PCs to wait in the tavern while they get their boss- Captain Othelstan. Frulam (Lux) and her companions however are not missing the boat- if Captain Othelstan wants to come see them then they’ll be in the castle.

Last thing- has Rezmir already gone aboard? Lux asks, she’s clever. The out-of-their-depth (Cult) Guards confirm that the Half-Black Dragon entered the castle yesterday. Although the information comes only after an okay Persuasion check by Frulam (Lux), immediately followed by a ‘20’ Intimidate check from Sgt Bobby “Answer the Wearer of Purple you worm!”

The (Cult) Guards rush off, the PCs head on to the castle- displaying, again, the banner to the Ogres up high on the towers flanking the main gate, and whispering the pass-phrase- “Tiamat, our Mother and Strength”, as they enter passing between two life-size (25 feet tall) statues of Cloud Giants.

Then they’re in…

66 LOwer Courtyard.jpg

And bugger me they’re not entirely sure what to do next, beyond the gates is a massive open space- a courtyard of huge dimensions- long buildings nestle beneath the castle walls while across the courtyard is a massive ice structure which seems to support another courtyard above. There are a pair of open archways (giant-sized) there. The PCs, maintaining the pretence- nothing to see here, just a bunch of Dragon Cultists out for a walk, head towards the giant-sized arched doorways. Then away again, when Hotlips gets close enough to spy within- both archways lead in to an equally massive (giant-sized) chamber in which two bald headed Giants (both made of stone- you do the maths) are about their business.

The PCs instead make for a pair of giant-sized doors to the north, Hotlips listens at them briefly (nonchalantly) and hears nothing, then a moment while Sgt Bobby manages to lever one of the portals open- he has to strain a bit (bad dice roll) and then they’re in. To an echoey ice corridor nearly forty feet wide and over half that tall, another door to the north, only this time it is sized for humans, that’s good- the same routine- Hotlips listens- nothing, Sgt Bobby wrenches the door open. In to an empty bedroom, uninhabited at the moment- empty drawers and tables. The guys have wandered in to the enemy’s lair and found the nearest uninhabited chamber available- nice work.

Time for more chat.

There’s an awful lot of chat in this session.

You’re probably itching for a fight.

I was…

So, the PCs huddle in the room and basically go over their strategy, which is- we are Frulam Mondath, Wearer of Purple, and her Cult flunkies. We’ll go room by room through the flying ice castle rooting out the bad guys (Cultists/Everybody) while trying not to alert the rest of the base to our operation.

But I (the glorious DM) am keen to get going, alas they (the PCs) are keener to ramble on… the session was beginning to drift.

There’s a knock at the door- Sgt Bobby answers it and is confronted by a gang of Cultists- Dragonclaws, best guess- five of them.

Actually, they ain’t Dragonclaws- they’re Dragonwings (twice as tough) all five of ‘em.

So, here’s what’s been going on- the Cult Guards back in Parnast reported the PCs to Captain Othelstan (the Cult boss of Parnast, remember). He has come aboard the castle with some of his guys and gone to the barracks. Between the Cultists in the barracks and the Ogres up in the towers the bad guys have been directed to the PCs current location, or at least in to the same building. The Cultists are also going door to door- looking for the PCs, who are behind the first door they knock on.

They’re polite, the five Dragonwings, but they also immediately call for back-up, which in this instance means Captain Othelstone and his guys who are situated much further up the corridor- they’re on their way to visit with Rezmir. Basically, all of the bad guys are within shouting distance of the PCs.

There’s a bit of chat- Lux starts issuing orders, trying to get rid of the Dragonwings at the door, or else convince them they’re bad guys too and that they’re supposed to be here- the rolls are good, but the Cultists are still calling for back-up. The PCs (rightly) figure out that if they don’t start the fight soon, they’re going to be stuck in the room they’re in and facing much greater odds.

They know there are other enemies in the corridor- one of the Dragonwings keeps calling out to them, but they don’t know who, or what else- bad-guy-wise is out there.

Lux (Sandy) grins at Sgt Bobby (Pete), the pair have reached a new accord, the instruction is- “go get ‘em”, and so they do- without warning the PCs launch their attacks.

67 Dragonwings.jpg

Actually, it’s Hotlips that’s first to the kill- rushing the nearest Dragonwing and skewering the guy with her rapier through the heart (a Crit for 49 damage- that’ll do it). Dead. For good measure the Halfling terror Crits a second Dragonwing with her dagger (although much much less painful). Sgt Bobby cuts the same guy twice and it too expires.

Seconds later Watt Shatters the three Dragonwings left standing (and I fail three Saves in a row)- they’re all about bloodied in an instant. The spell also rocks the ice corridor and announces the PCs presence loudly. Lux’s Eldritch Blasts leave another Dragonwing badly wounded, while Lummins’ Burning Hands, alas, does little more than make the floor slippery.

At which point, and with the three badly wounded Dragonclaws also screaming for help, the PCs realise that there are lots more Cultists in the corridor- lots more.

Sgt Bobby rushes out to see, slicing at the badly wounded Dragonwings as he goes- he hits one of the buggers but fails to take it down (damage ‘1’ + bonuses x2)- Hotlips finishes it off, and then slays another with a Sneak Attack- the one Dragonwing still alive is off and running- back to his friends.

68 Captain Othelstan.jpg

The PCs move out in to the icy corridor- there are lots more Cultists at present reacting to their presence- and the ongoing slaughter. The PCs slipped the encounter in Parnast so I thought I’d help them out by herding Captain Othelstan and his comrades towards them (the new enemies include- Othelstan (a Dragonsoul), three Dragonclaws, six Guards and a Veteran).

The Cultists head towards the PCs, at speed- eager to make their acquaintance.

Watt hits the middle of the advancing Cultist crowd with an enhanced Shatter spell- and three of his four damage dice are ‘1’s, it’s happening again (although the last dice roll is an ‘8’). Moments later Lux settles her Hunger of Hadar on top of the whole gang. Save for the lone wounded Dragonwing- who is now the only bad guy still in sight. The Dragonwing attempts to slice the closest adventurer, Watt- but misses twice.

Sgt Bobby rushes to Watt’s side and cuts the Dragonwing down, then stomps forward- toward the inky black bubble that is Lux’s spell.

A terrified almost broken Dragonclaw stumbles out of the black- Sgt Bobby, with a little help from Hotlips cuts down the Cultist.

The pair can hear the screams of the dying.

What a bugger- the first time Lux used Hunger of Hadar I improvised a check (DC 10 Wisdom/Perception) for creatures caught within the spell to escape the blinding black (and the cold and acid damage). The first time she used the spell there was a Troll and Ambush Drake caught in its compass- they both escaped in the first Turn.

I fail a lot of checks this time- the other two Dragonclaws, and all six Guards are killed by the Warlock’s spell.

Note Othelstan also fails to escape the spell for a while.

The PCs Ready Actions, and basically exchange shrugs while they wait to see if any more Cultists are going to emerge from the black.

And so, when one does… the Cult Veteran in this instance, the bloodied fellow is hit by an arrow (Watt, the Bard has backed up a bit), and then by two Eldritch Blasts (Lux).

The Veteran half-heartedly goes for Sgt Bobby, big mistake- he gets cut down.

Then, nothing much happens, for quite a while- the spell lasts up to one minute- Lux keeps concentrating, her companions stand ready- ready to attack again.

So, here’s what’s actually happening- Othelstan has escaped the Hunger of Hadar spell, although on the opposite side to the PCs, the pocket of corridor he’s in contains a door- which opens to reveal two Red Wizards of Thay, drawn to the sounds of combat- and now confronted by Othelstan and the inky blackness.

Rath Modar (Red Wizard of Thay, the guy who fireballed the civilians all the way back in Greenest) orders Azbara Jos (the other Red Wizard of Thay, from the Cult caravan & Castle Naerytar) to Dispel the blackness.

Dispel Magic dispels all spells up to third level, but Lux casts the spell enhanced to 4th level- so I rule it’s a DC 14 check to Dispel Hunger of Hadar (is that right?). Obviously, the PCs and the Players, don’t know any of this is going on- this is all stuff I’m doing in my head. Don’t ask why? The illusion is stretched thin enough as it is. Anyway, so Azbara Jos Dispels Lux’s Hunger of Hadar- or else he would do if he didn’t roll a ‘3’, then a ‘1’, then a ‘3’ again- now obviously I could, and should, just wave the roll and have the Dispel Magic automatically succeed, but my OCD will not allow me to do this.

So, two high ranking Red Wizards of Thay stand around waiting for the spell to expire, one of the Red Wizard’s (Rath Modar) scowls, tuts and shakes his head at the other Red Wizard (Azbara Jos), who mutters something like “it’s never happened to me before… I must just be nervous.” Captain Othelstan, having already provided a succinct precise of the situation, just keeps his head down- waiting for the next bad thing to happen.

What the Red Wizards (and Othelstan, and the PCs) don’t now is that Rezmir (Half-Black Dragon) and his two XXL Guard Drakes are situated just to the south of the inky bubble, also eagerly waiting for the black to depart.

69 NO HADAR.jpg

At which point… the spell ends.

That however is the end of the session, and the PCs have a queue of readied actions (I wrote them all down) but they’ll happen next session- I get booed by the Players all the way out of the door.

Another enforced cliff-hanger.

There’s never been as much chatter however, they’re loving seventh level. Oh, and if the fight in the above write up seems very one-sided then be assured the Cultists got some attacks (and hits) in but nothing at all to worry the PCs. It has been a massacre thus far for my bad guys in the ice castle.
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We D&D.

Session #38 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #24 Fighting on/in Ice.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 7
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 7
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 7
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 7

Secondary PCs.
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 7
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 7
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 7
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 7

Note, this is session #38 of our game but only session #24 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

Apologies ahead of time- it’s a long-one.

69 NO HADAR.jpg

And so, we’re in a wide corridor inside the flying ice castle (prop. an unknown Cloud Giant) waiting for Lux’s (Human Warlock) Hunger of Hadar to run its course. Within the compass of the inky black spell are half-a-dozen or more dead Cultists. Over the far side of the inky bubble is a wounded Captain Othelstan (a tough Dragonsoul), and two Red Wizards (Azbara Jos and Rath Modar), also waiting for the spell to end- Azbara Jos has failed to Dispel the Hunger of Hadar spell three times already (he’s not popular).

Both sides however are as of yet unaware that Rezmir and her Guard Drakes are also waiting for the spell to expire, they’re situated just to the south of the spell’s black compass.

The PCs (and several NPCs) have a queue of readied actions- I wrote them down at the end of the last session.

The spell ends and we get to fighting straight away…

Oh, but before we do the Players have been chatting about the vision/s they shared on the road to Parnast- when they were visited by an ‘angel’ of Lathander- a ball of hovering intense light. One of the scenes they witnessed included a great ice wall embedded in which was a galleon, at full sail, and with frozen crew also encased in the ice. The Players, at the start of the session, are speculating as to whether they are going to find the ice-locked ship here, after all the Cloud Giant castle is made of ice. They’re not, but I obviously don’t tell them this- they spend a good while in this session, and those that follow looking for the ship, or at least peering at random ice walls.

Back to the fight.

Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter), screaming and shouting terrible things (don’t ask), charges in to Othelstan & Azbara Jos (the lesser Red Wizard), at which point he’s out of actions, but exactly where he needed to be. Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) fires her crossbow and hits (with Sneak Attack) and… Azbara is bloodied in an instant.

Watt (Human Bard) hits Azbara with two arrows- the second is a Crit, and the Red Wizard drops.

That was easy- the Players are overjoyed, too soon- my friends, too soon.

Othelstan slices Sgt Bobby (& misses with two more attacks), Lux fires an Eldritch Blast in to Othelstan, and then a another (a Crit) in to the second Red Wizard- Rath Modar.

Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric) hits Othelstan with his Sacred Flames.

Rath Modar casts Greater Invisibility on himself, he’s seen enough already. He orders his Gargoyle to kill Sgt Bobby, and then departs the castle (which takes a few Turns yet).

The Gargoyle instantly obeys, flying out in to the icy corridor and clawing at the Fighter.

Sgt Bobby Crits Othelstan, but the Dragonsoul is not even bloodied, and then misses with his second attack & then again with an Inspiration Point.

Pete (playing Sgt Bobby) is neither furious, nor sweary… it’s most odd.

Watt hits Othelstan with his Dissonant Whispers, and at last the Dragonsoul is bloodied, and suddenly clutching at his temples, he’s off and running- Sgt Bobby slices Othelstan again as he flees.

The Dragonsoul however doesn’t retreat far, he rallies quickly and charges back in to the fight- cutting Sgt Bobby twice more.

At which point the PCs and the last remaining Cult bad guys (Othelstan & the Gargoyle) spot, and hear, Rezmir and her two Guard Drakes charging in to action.

The first Guard Drake gets to Sgt Bobby and bites him, the other repeats the feat with Watt.

Lux fires two more Eldritch Blasts in to Othelstan, a hit & another (bloody) Crit.

Rezmir, a female Half-Black Dragon, wearing a jet-black dragon-faced mask, and wielding a dull black greatsword (and dressed all in black- think female Roy Orbison with a Breath Weapon) rushes at Sgt Bobby screaming- “Prepare to DIE!”

Lummins hits the Radiance of the Dawn button (for 22 Radiant damage)- Othelstan would be dead if not for Tiamat’s Blessing (he automatically heals 20 HP), the Gargoyle, Drakes and Rezmir are also hurt.

Rezmir, having spent all of her actions, spends a Legendary Action- and slices Sgt Bobby with her magical greatsword- the Fighter is bloodied and beyond, and now also cannot regain hit points (a property of Hazirawn, Rezmir’s magical blade).

Note this last event brings further accusations of cheating from two of the Players- Sandy (Lux & Hotlips) and Jackie (Watt). I briefly explain the nature of Legendary Actions and casually mention the fact that there may be many (many) more obscure or one-off rules/skills/feats that give a variety of monsters a bit of added advantage.

The pair don’t sulk for too long.

Back to the action.

Sgt Bobby is slammed by a Guard Drake’s swatting tail, the Fighter cuts Captain Othelstan again- when will this bastard fall.

Seconds later a crossbow bolt suddenly sprouts from the Dragonsoul’s throat, Hotlips is hiding beneath a table and taking pot-shots, she had to spend her Inspiration Point to hit.

Othelstan is dead.

The Players are cheering again, although still worried that Rezmir may be a tough bastard.

Rezmir spends another Legendary Action to slice again at Sgt Bobby, I roll a ‘1’ to exultant cheers, a hit would have dropped the talismanic Fighter.

Watt shares a little Bardic Inspiration with Sgt Bobby (‘Come on Bob-EEE, Come on Bob-EE’) and then Thunderwaves the Guard Drake gnawing on his ankle, sending the beast skidding back. The respite doesn’t last long, the Drake rushes back in and bites hold of the Bard’s leg again.

Lux screams at Sgt Bobby to retreat (spoiler- he doesn’t) and then unleashes her Blight spell on Rezmir, the Half-Black Dragon fails her save but uses her Legendary Resistance, regardless the Blight spell hurts. Rezmir turns to stare for a millisecond at Lux, the implication being- she’s next.

Just to say at this point I’m trying to get Rezmir in to a position where she can use her Acid Breath weapon (and hit two PCs), but Sgt Bobby is pretty much on his own- with Lummins maybe twenty or so feet back, Watt another twenty feet behind Lummins, and Lux and Hotlips even further away. Basically, Bobby is on point with the other four hanging well back.

The bastards.

Still Rezmir is a tough bugger, the Half-Black Dragon cuts down Sgt Bobby (and there’s a collective sharp intake of breath- Pete, however does not explode), and then stomps over to Lummins (the next nearest PC- Lux is just too far away), calling a Guard Drake over to her side. The pair slice and bite at the Cleric of Lathander, who survives, but is now bloodied.

The Players are having doubts, expressed- at times- very loudly.

Lummins panics and hits the Radiance of the Dawn button again (and rolls another 22 Radiant damage) the Guard Drake biting Watt dies, Rezmir and the other Drake (& the Gargoyle) also soak up some more hurt.

The Priest isn’t done, a much-enhanced Healing Word for Sgt Bobby- and Pete’s back in the fight and grinning like a chimp, although Sgt Bobby is still sprawled on the cold floor atm.

Rezmir spends another Legendary Action and slices Lummins again with a Crit, the Priest’s Warding Flare, well… flares, and my attack is at Disadvantage, I roll again- saying goodbye to my Crit, and I roll a ‘2’, that’s right- a miss.

The Crit would, of course, have left Lummins unconscious.

The Gargoyle (which is on 1 HP) has done what it was told to do (at this point Sgt Bobby is still taking a dirt nap) it flees the scene, going after its master- Rath Modar.

The kindly DM elects to try again with another Legendary Action, Rezmir slashes and Lummins is cut badly (but not a Crit- damn them all to heck), and now down to ten hit points.

At which point Sgt Bobby gets back on his feet, and rushes in to the melee- he slices Rezmir, and then gets his Second Wind.

Double damn! Time for the Acid Breath- next chance I get, even if I can only target one PC.

Hotlips, still hiding under a desk, fires a crossbow bolt in to the side of Rezmir’s skull (with added Sneak Attack) it’s a Crit, and the blood drains from my face (your kindly DM). Rezmir, my bestest bad guy, takes 43 damage. That’s not good.

The Half-Black Dragon staggers.

I’ve also used all of Rezmir’s Legendary Actions so the Half-Black Dragon is going to have to tough it out until her next Turn.

Seconds later Watt’s Dissonant Whispers are also affecting the Cult leader- although once again the Bard’s damage rolls are incredibly low- three Psychic damage, Rezmir will take a paracetamol later.


Lux hits Rezmir with an Eldritch Blast, and then another (and another Crit) and rolls one below maximum damage. Rezmir is suddenly, and violently, engulfed in black fire flames- the mask that the Half-Black Dragon wears seems to fade and then vanish. Rezmir, over the course of the next ten or so seconds, is immolated- turned to nothing more than a smudge of black ash- she dies screaming in agony (which is suitably reassuring). That said a few of the Cult leader’s possessions are left sans owner on the icy floor.

There is much cheering in the house.

Although not behind the DMs screen. Rezmir wasn’t even bloodied when Hotlips got in the massive Sneak Attack Crit, she went from having 72 hit points to nada in a matter of moments.

Bloody Players.

There’s just one Guard Drake left, still fighting, the poor bugger doesn’t know when to give up, so Sgt Bobby and Hotlips team up again to kill the beast.

That’s that- the fight is done/won, and I feel empty inside- cheated, Rezmir was my best bet for a while, she could have been a contender, she could have given the Players a real scare.


The PCs chat for a brief while- what to do for the best, all around them is blood and gore- high contrast against the stark white-blue ice of the castle. Healing is the issue, the PCs need to get in a rest, they’re also keen to 1) get a look at the loot left on the bodies of the fallen, and in the newly emptied chambers nearby, and 2) clear up the slaughterhouse they have created.

And so, they chat (and relive their previous victory- gah!), and dither, and do neither.

Eventually they start on clearing the bodies away- dragging the dead in to the room recently vacated by the two Red Wizards, at which point they of course remember that they only killed one Red Wizard- no matter. Bodies away- then healing, that’s Lux’s orders.

Too late…

70 Stone Giant.jpg

Mid clean-up operation the giant-sized door at the end of the hall, the one Sgt Bobby had to pull a muscle to get in, is wrenched open (with ease) by Hulda. Hulda is one of the Stone Giants the guys (Hotlips) saw (and avoided) previously. Hulda starts up shouting (in Giantish) and pointing a lot at the dead Cultists et al- he’s not happy. However, Lux & Lummins- of course, both speak the Giant tongue, they translate- the most oft repeated phrases are “Silence! No noise!”, and, “What’s going on here?” Hulda also fetches his massive club out and starts waving it about.

The charming duo (Lux & Lummins) get to work, and even I have to admit it’s beautiful to watch at times (the bastards). Watt helps out with a few suggestions, but the Bard cannot speak the Giant tongue and so stays mostly in the background. The story is-

They’re Cultists (they all do the Tiamat sign-thing), there’s been a bit of a falling out, stated while pointing at the corpses of a dozen Cultists (nice understatement). Rezmir, the Dragon Cult has discovered, was planning to steal the loot for himself. She (Frulam Mondath- Lux (Sandy) is back in charge of the operation) was despatched, with her companions (Sandy wanted to say ‘underlings’ here but it was clear that few of the other Players would be less than happy), to take care of Rezmir- job done. Followed by a few ‘Tiamat Blessings’ and that’s all she wrote…

Lux and Lummins’ Persuasion checks are both 20+. Hulda grunts, and is about to leave, “Wait!” Frulam Mondath (I mean Lux) orders. She has questions, such as- Who are you? Who’s in charge here? Where are they? Are there anymore Cultists? When does the castle depart? Where is it going? And remember, she’s asking the questions in a manner that suggests she expects answers. Even Sgt Bobby has to admit that Lux has the biggest balls of them all. That said Hulda is persuaded only a little and intimidated hardly at all- “Blagothkus rules here”, the Stone Giant states, and then stomps off.

The PCs abandon the clear up operation, they need to heal quickly, just in case something else nasty shows up, there’s no time however for a Short Rest (not from the way the DM is grinning at them- and they’re absolutely right, I’m not letting them sit on their arses getting well again in my ice castle).

Therefore it’s time to break out the healing spells & Potions, and at the end of the cure-in all of them are still wounded (most only a little) while Sgt Bobby is only just above bloodied- and he’s got no more Healing Potions and had to beg three Cure Wounds spells (all low rolls- shame).

That done the Brothers of the First Light start checking the bodies of the fallen and investigating the nearby rooms.

There’s nothing left of Rezmir except for her dull-black greatsword (Hazirawn) and also a platinum necklace bearing a clawed emblem (Insignia of Claws), both items are magical, and are gathered up to be examined later.

A search of the Red Wizard’s former chambers reveals that the far wall can be made to disappear, or else to open on to an ice platform which is on the exterior of the castle. This, Watt speculates, is how the other Red Wizard escaped (correct). Little can be seen from the ice platform, at first, and then the clouds clear and the PCs realise that the castle has already departed, they’re thousands of feet up, standing on a thin shard of clear ice.

They get off the platform very quickly, and back in to the room.

At this point the Players also have a little chat about the Red Wizards- remember they’re still after the guy that fireballed the citizens of Greenest, they’ve killed Azbara Jos (the lesser Red Wizard) but they have a nagging feeling that the Red Wizard that escaped was the one that did the deed back in Greenest (and they’re right again- Rath Modar is the fiery killer).

The Brothers find a bunch of letters and a hefty ancient-ish tome- but all of the writing is in a language none of them can read (there’s a spell to help with that but none of them have it memorised atm), the language is Infernal.

Next up is Rezmir’s former rooms.

71 Rug Smothering.jpg

Hotlips isn’t sneaky enough (or indeed at all) and yet as the pretty carpet she’s walking on lurches up to engulf her the nimble Rogue leaps aside- I roll ‘5’ & ‘6’, plus bonuses, with Advantage, for the Rug’s attack. Gah!

And so- Hotlips’ rapier- slices, Watt- thunk-thunk of arrows, Lummins scorches with Sacred Flames, and Lux finishes the Rug of Smothering with a pair of Eldritch Blasts.

Better get to Ikea for a new rug.

The Brothers find a chest, Hotlips unlocks it (and thus avoids the trap) but it’s empty (Rezmir’s treasure teleported away when she died).

In fact, there’s very little treasure to be had.

At which point, a good thirty minutes after their chat with Hulda, the Stone Giant, the PCs retire (again) to the Red Wizard’s room- perhaps the kindly DM will allow them to get in a Short Rest.

Not a chance.

Forty minutes* later and Hotlips is on watch at the door, the Halfling spots the bad guys coming- they’re hard to miss (see below).

*You will note that the bad guys turning up forty minutes later is very deliberate, it’s me (the kindly DM) saying- you could have had a Short Rest. Thirty minutes after the Stone Giant’s appearance the Brothers start their Short Rest, forty minutes in to it the bad guys turn up – 30 + 40 = 70, or 1 hour ten minutes if you prefer, time enough for a one-hour Short Rest. I don’t know if they noticed at the time, but I did. Mwah, and indeed- Ha!

The bad guys spotted by Hotlips are another squad of five Dragonclaws (the PCs are wrong again- they’re Dragonwings- twice as tough), and… wait for it… wait for it… a number of very elaborately uniformed Ogres, all of them wearing great plumed ceremonial helms complete with tabards and the like. Ogre flunkies- cool.

I was expecting a chat, as were the Dragonwings.

The Players, having had their Short Rest disturbed, are less amenable.

They press the nuclear button immediately.

I’d like to discuss the Players thinking here, but… I have no idea what they were thinking- so a battle with five Dragonwings and six Ogres, this should be fun.

72 DWs & Ogres.jpg

The PCs fling the door open and start up with the artillery (of sorts)- Watt’s Confusion spell leaves a pair of the Dragonwings drooling, while Hotlip’s crossbow Assassination attack is deadly- a third Dragonwing falls dead- bolt through the throat.

The nearest Ogre is hit by two Eldritch Blasts, thanks Lux.

Lummins tosses a Fireball in to the mass ranks, none of the bad guys fall but the Fire damage is shared around.

The bad guys are screaming for revenge and remember while several of them are wounded (or else confused) only one Dragonwing is actually dead.

The first Ogre charges toward the former Red Wizard’s chamber, more or less filling the doorway- Sgt Bobby slices it twice (with a Readied Action). The Ogre fails and flails to club Sgt Bobby in reply.

One of the Confused Dragonwings suddenly spies an enemy- he cuts down one of his already wounded colleagues- with a Crit, and then shakes off Watt’s Confusion spell. What has he done?

The rest of the Ogres are closing in- although they can’t get past their colleague blocking the doorway, and Sgt Bobby who is also blocking the way- the permanent front line. The Ogres fling javelins, they’re terrible at it- no hits.

One of the Dragonwings gets in to melee, attacking Sgt Bobby- the guy is a screaming Fanatic, and good with a blade- Sgt Bobby is hit twice and back to being bloodied.

Watt is, as usual, working his way through his spell repertoire- a Hypnotic Pattern comes next, the spell leaves three Ogres and two of the Dragonwings staring at the pretty lights- Incapacitated.

Hotlips joins Sgt Bobby in the doorway, and with a little added Sneak Attack kills the Dragonwing there that sliced up her brave colleague.

The Ogres that are not incapacitated by Watt’s Hypnotic Pattern are confused (not by the spell)- why are their colleagues just standing around doing nothing? The trio start to shake their comrades out of their stupor.

“Kill them all!” Lux orders her companions.

It’s getting nasty.

Lux’s Eldritch Blasts kill one of the Hypnotised Dragonwings, and badly wounds another (the last Dragonwing standing) the Cultist shakes off the effects of Watt’s spell.

Lummins drops in another Fireball- although now it’s his turn to roll low damage (just 17 Fire)- one Ogre is killed, but all of the rest are now no longer incapacitated.

Sgt Bobby cuts down the Ogre blocking the doorway, and then races forward to slash furiously at the last Dragonwing standing- with a ‘1’. The Dragonwing also swings wildly in reply- no hits.

One of the formerly hypnotised Ogres rushes in to the doorway- and smashes Hotlips with its club, the Rogue employs her Uncanny Dodge but still it hurts.

Watt launches a Shatter spell in to the enemies (low damage again)- more Ogres are hurt, and the last remaining Dragonwing falls- at last.

Hotlips enters stab frenzy mode, the Ogre now blocking the doorway suffers- the Halfling is a terror (particularly with a Sneak Attack).

Lux hits the same creature with two Eldritch Blasts, one of them a Crit, it still stands.

Lummins fires up the Bless- there’s some hard yards yet to be done, particularly for Sgt Bobby- the Fighter is out in the corridor- an icy slaughterhouse; and taking on three Ogres. He’s taken a bit more of a beating - down to just below 20 Hit Points.

Sgt Bobby cuts another Ogre- twice, it’s badly wounded, but he’s still surrounded.

The Ogre in the doorway smashes Hotlips again, her Uncanny Dodge soaks up some of the hurt but the Halfling Rogue is now also well beyond bloodied.

Watt Shatters as many Ogres as he can get in the compass of the spell- damn it! All of the bad guys survive the ordeal, the Bard has got only one spell left.

Hotlips stabs her rapier in to the Ogre she’s facing in the doorway (with a Crit) it collapses and dies, the Halfling rushes over the body of the fallen Ogre and in to position behind one of the three Ogres that Sgt Bobby is fighting. The Halfling stabs the bastard (with added Sneak Attack) and the roaring Ogre is also beyond bloodied.

All that’s left of the fight is a beaten-up Sgt Bobby surrounded by three equally beat up Ogres, racing around behind this trio/quartet is Hotlips. Lummins, Watt and Lux- at last- make their way out of the former Red Wizard’s chamber and still keeping their distance start up with the artillery.

Lux’s Eldritch Blasts cause one of the Ogres to give up the fight, it screams- drops its club, and rushes back the way it came- to a pair of giant-sized doors that open out in to the Lower Courtyard.

“Kill it” Lux orders, “it cannot be allowed to get away.”

Easier said than done of course, the majority of the PCs are kinda busy.

Lummins fires his Sacred Flames in to the back of the fleeing Ogre- it doesn’t stop running, making it out of the doors and in to the Lower Courtyard.

A second badly wounded Ogre decides it has had enough of the fight- it too attempts to flee and following the same route, Hotlips is on the brute mere seconds later (and with added Sneak Attack) the Halfling’s rapier cuts deep- the Ogre falls- dead.

Two Ogres left- one facing Sgt Bobby, the other running for its life.

Lux and Lummins are both calling for the Ogre/s to surrender, both in Giantish and Common- the Ogres seem to be very loyal to someone. No surrender.

Sgt Bobby slices the Ogre he’s fighting- twice, a millisecond later Watt lodges an arrow in the massive brute’s skull- it falls- dead.

The Bard is off and running, out in to the Lower Courtyard- magical bow still in hand. The fleeing Ogre is perhaps twenty feet away and running hard- and now with an arrow protruding from its back, but still fleeing.

That is until the arrow in the Ogre’s back is joined by a crossbow bolt- nice grouping, and the last Ogre falls. Hotlips rarely misses.

The PCs, as always under Lux’s instruction, hustle out in to the Lower Courtyard, they quickly lasso the legs of the dead Ogre there, and then drag it back in to the corridor- out of sight. Alas they struggle for a short while to overcome the weight of the corpse (and inertia) but eventually get the dead body back in to the icy building.

Miraculously, and thanks partially to the fact that it’s now evening, they accomplish the task (they think) without arousing much (or indeed any) suspicion. Just to make clear- that’s what I told the PCs after Hotlips and a few others made a few (very low) Active Perception checks. Actually, the corpse removal operation was being observed by Wiglof and Hulda, the Stone Giants, and probably a few of the Ogres (maybe) up on the towers.

The PCs shut the doors, and… well, breathe.

That was a fairly energetic encounter, at the end of which Lux & Watt are only slightly wounded, while Hotlips & Lummins are both well beyond Bloodied & Sgt Bobby, of course, is down to six Hit Points. He likes to take it to the wire.

There follows another short bout of healing, during which the PCs quickly realise that really do need to take a Short Rest, they don’t have enough spell power remaining to get Sgt Bobby (and several of the other PCs up to anywhere near full HP). Or else they could use pretty much all of their Healing Potions- either way it’s going to leave them very short on healing resources should further need arise.

And let me tell you, none of the Players think the DM has done with them… they know me too well.

So, retreat, in to the Red Wizard’s former abode- a watch rota is drawn up- spying out of the door and in to the icy corridor, which fortunately is still (magically?) illuminated- the PCs hunker down, praying to Lathander, Lord of the Light, that they won’t be disturbed.

Guess what?

It doesn’t happen, only half an hour in to their second, third- I forget which, attempt at a Short Rest a randomly determined Hotlips (on watch) spots Hulda the Stone Giant nosing around in the passage. Hotlips tells her friends, who all come to watch at the door. The Stone Giant, cautiously, investigates the bodies of the fallen- not a thorough check just accounting for who’s dead, it seems. Hulda however takes care to stay away from the door behind which the PCs hide.

After a few minutes of nosing around Hulda heads back the way he came, and has a chat with someone at the door out in to the Lower Courtyard. Best guess it’s the second Stone Giant at the door (it is, he’s called Wiglof), the PCs cannot however hear the conversation- and can’t afford to expend spells to send an Invisible Hotlips over to earwig (listen in).

Soon after both Stone Giants head off again, and after a short while waiting to see what happens next- nothing, the PCs go back to their Short Rest.

Success. The DM is clearly a benevolent being- Hit Dice get spent and the PCs healing problem is resolved.

That however is the end of the session.

Apologies for the rambling who did what to whom in combat, but my notes are much better these days, we’ve taken to recording the sessions (on an oldish Nagra), and so I get to hear everything again- I just listen and type, skipping the parts where Pete and Jackie argue over who gets the last bit of Pizza. This session was about three hours long, and if you think we didn’t get a lot done then please remember we’re a very relaxed bunch, some evenings there’s quite a lot of chat and blather between the action, some of it even relevant to the game and the situation.

More next time, although we’re nearly at the end.
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We D&D.

Session #39 Hoard of the Dragon Queen #25 Stupid Idea plus ‘1’.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 7
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 7
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 7
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 7
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 7

Secondary PCs.
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 7
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 7
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 7

Note, this is session #39 of our game but only session #25 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario.

Oh, and you will have noticed that there are only five PCs present atm, the Brothers of the First Light are Lux (Human Warlock), Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric), Watt (Human Bard), Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) and Hotlips (Halfling Rogue). It got decided, mostly via e-mail a few sessions back- the Players are going to try to stick to using the same five PCs all of the time. The other PCs- Derek Pilch (Human Druid), Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk) & Sgt Harald (Dwarf Fighter) & the two NPC Lizardfolk- Gawp & Ping are elsewhere- back at the Hunting Lodge, or in Parnast, or else, well… somewhere that’s not here.

There’s no safety net any more.

There was a vote to see who the fifth PC would be- Hotlips won by a mile, for a variety of reasons, but mostly because of her Sneak Attack and her ability to employ it (seemingly) on every Turn- which makes her a killing machine. Also, she’s very sneaky, good with traps and, well… the ultimate (combat-orientated) all-rounder, hence she got the call. She wasn’t chosen for her sunshine personality- although Sandy continues to insist that she was.

DM Interlude- WARNING! There’s a lot of chatter in this session, it is however worth ploughing through it to get to the action at the end. I still can’t believe that they did what they did- just… well, read on and find out.

Back to the game, and we’re in the Cloud Giant’s ice castle- the PCs have just had themselves a less than relaxing Short Rest (waiting to get attacked) and are now however feeling much less beat up, particularly Sgt Bobby who had taken repeated pastings. They’re situated in the former Red Wizard’s chamber- they’ve cleared the immediate area of enemies, and treasure. They’re next job- after a bit of a creep around by Hotlips to see if anybody’s about- they’re not, is to tidy away the bodies- a bit late but never mind.

So, with two on watch and three shifting corpses- swapping over jobs at regular intervals, the Brothers get the slaughterhouse cleared up as best they can. The bodies of the (six) Ogres are dragged in to Rezmir’s former chamber, while the corpses of the other fallen (a variety of Cultists- including Othelstan & Azbara Jos, and the Drakes) are tossed overboard. You heard me right, the bodies are dragged out on to the ice platform (through the disappearing ice wall in the Red Wizard’s former chamber) and then scudded over the side, how’s that for littering- look out below!

The PCs have been undisturbed for over two hours by the time they get finished with the clear up- and they’re getting a little suspicious, or else twitchy, but Lux (Sandy) remember is still in charge, her thoughts are that they should attempt to get in an Extended Rest. Audacious- the PCs are up for it, after all it mostly involves doing nothing, and if they get away with it then they’re all back to full speed ahead.

Of course, it doesn’t happen.

The PCs do however get enough time to have a good look at the two magic items they found on the body of Rezmir, the Insignia of Claws is identified- partially, and will be passed on to Hard Bonk (Half-Orc Monk) when they see him next. The greatsword (Hazirawn) is very interesting, the blade even has a little chat with Sgt Bobby when nobody else is around to hear. This after it has been ascertained that it is magical (a +1 weapon- they think), but perhaps possessed of a dark spirit (I was particularly vague). The blade waits until it is alone with Sgt Bobby and basically says- “Pick me, follow your destiny Luke, etc.” that kind of thing. The Fighter however is a little reluctant, he’s a sword and board kinda guy. Pete, who plays Sgt Bobby, is cautious- and educated in the ways of random magical swords formerly possessed by evil villains, and yet he coverts it. Hazirawn is put away for now, to be revisited when the PCs are out of the mess they’re presently in.

As I stated previously- the Brothers don’t get their Extended Rest, at least not yet.

About three hours later a whole host of bad guys (maybe, let’s see) turn up- more plume helmed Ogres (nearly a dozen of them), the two Stone Giants (Wiglof and Hulda) and most impressive of all the Cloud Giant- Blagothkus, a twenty-five-foot-tall bearded and straggly-haired (and unkempt) monstrosity.

The Players are suitably impressed (and suitably terrified).

It goes like this- the host troop in, Ogres first- they march about a bit (badly) and then take up a variety of positions, six of the Ogre flunkies forming a wall of flesh facing the door behind which the PCs are hiding. Actually, the PCs are all watching the goings on having been alerted to the host’s arrival, the Giants are not at all stealthy.

Finally, Blagothkus makes an appearance, standing behind the Ogre wall he calls out to get the PCs attention, and then when he has got it, begins firing off questions?

It all boils down to- who are you? And what are you doing in my flying ice castle?

The DM does his best to impress upon the PCs that there is a world of hurt just outside of the door- if they want to pull the trigger (attack) then be prepared to suffer the consequences.

I needn’t have feared; the PCs are as nice as pie- they’d love to chat.

Lux is about to tell Blagothkus her lies- she’s Frulam Mondath etc. when Sgt Bobby has a thought, or else revisits an old thought, he’s still convinced (mostly) that Cloud Giants are not Evil (with a capital ‘E’). So, after a brief chat amongst the PCs/Players- and then a few subsidiary questions thrown at the Cloud Giant- they’re trying to get a read of Blagothkus’ demeanour, or mood, or possibly just his alignment, the PCs decide to change their story- to the truth, or else a version of it.

Lux and Lummins, as previous, and with Watt and even Sgt Bobby helping out in places, tell the story of the Brothers of the First Light- from Greenest to here, covering a majority of the action in-between, it takes a while. Blagothkus, although at times distracted is content to listen. To make things easier the conversation is mostly conducted in the Giant tongue, and so the Stone Giants also get to listen in. The pair seem to show more interest than the Cloud Giant.

And at the end of it all- well, the PCs various Skill Checks are just okay, none of them low, but then again none of them are high- all between 10 and 13, and that’s including bonuses.

Blagothkus decides not to decide, or rather he issues the PCs with a warning and also hints a little at his own story- the Cloud Giant is no friend of the Cultists, he has his reasons for allowing them to use his flying ice castle, but he’s not sharing them with the PCs. There are more Cultists aboard the castle, including a Dragon- this last piece of info causes some consternation within the ranks, I’m happy to report that Dragons still have the desired effect upon Players. The Dragon is below- if the PCs can kill or scare it off then they can have half of the Cult loot that’s down there- Blagothkus is keeping the other half. The Cloud Giant, after he finishes this chat with the PCs- he informs them, will go and tell the remaining Cultists in the flying ice castle (but not the Dragon) where the PCs are and what they have done (i.e. slaughtered their Cult colleagues). Basically, the PCs and the Cultists can settle their differences, he’s not getting involved.

To get a second audience with Blagothkus the PCs have to do three things (I do this a lot don’t I, it’s only looking back that you (I) notice it, there’s a lot of ‘do N things and earn a reward’, just an observation)-

1) Kill or scare off (cause to flee) the remaining Cultists in the ice castle.

2) Kill or scare off (cause to flee) the Dragon and secure the loot, hint it’s down below, and-

3) Not kill any more of Blagothkus’ Ogre flunkies, oh and also stop throwing corpses overboard.

The PCs are unhappy with the deal, but right now they’ll take it. This after Blagothkus allows them ten minutes to discuss the offer amongst themselves- the ten-minute pause turns in to a nearly thirty-minute (mostly OOC) conversation between the Players on a variety of subjects. The primary issue being the fact that if more Cultists come calling then they’ve got the Hit Points but not the spells, Lux is obviously on full complement, however Watt has only one spell slot remaining (2nd) and Lummins two (1x 1st & 1x 2nd).

The PCs/Players figure they need to persuade Blagothkus, somehow, to not tell the Cultists that they’re here.

And so Blagothkus’ deal is agreed to, however the PCs and in particular the charming trio (Lux, Watt & Lummins) all attempt to engage the Cloud Giant (and the Stone Giants) in a protracted discussion- about anything really. They’re trying to find a way to get on the good side of the Cloud Giant boss.

Lummins, casting about for something to say, starts up a conversation about the benefits of worshipping the Lord of Light (Lathander) this in an attempt to soften Blagothkus’ stance. Also, because Rob- playing Lummins, thinks it would be tres cool to convert a Cloud Giant to the Light.

At the end of his spiel he makes a Religion check ‘18’ (that’s a roll of ‘19’ minus one, Int is his dump stat), swiftly followed by a Persuasion check- that’s right, a ‘20’ (plus a wedge of bonuses). The table holds its breath, what’s a poor DM to do- I can’t just give it to them on a plate, and so…

Blagothkus is interested in Lathander, although reluctant to acknowledge the divinity of anyone/thing other than the pantheon of the Giants- still, the stories Lummins tells are enlightening. He’s going to think about things. It appears that the Stone Giant pair are also on the PCs side- they’re unhappy that the Cloud Giant is working with the Dragon Cultists and say as much.

But the grumpy DM (and the even grumpier Blagothkus) is adamant, a deal is a deal- he’s telling the Cultists everything; the Dragon needs to die- and no more killing his Ogre flunkies. IF (in capital letters- big ‘if’) the PCs complete the tasks he has set them then he’d be happy to hear more of Lummins’ stories of Lathander, and while he is being enlightened, he will allow the PCs full use of his flying ice castle. Obviously, he’ll maintain ownership and control of the place but if there’s anywhere the PCs want to go…

I’ll be honest- there was a lot of joy in the room when the above deal was made, Pete even kissed me- gah! He needs to shave.

So, kill (or scare off) the Dragon and the remaining Cultists, and no more slaying the Ogre flunkies- easy as.

Oh, and Blagothkus will order his Ogre flunkies not to get in the way of the PCs, and to only fight back if they’re attacked.

Eventually the Cloud Giant departs, although only after finally agreeing (after some more great rolls and roleplay, the bastards never give up) to tell the Cultists about the PCs tomorrow- the Brothers really bargained hard, and at the end all of them were involved in the chatter.

They had the poor DM on the back-foot.

Even the roleplay seems to be going better atm, with Sgt Bobby (Pete) now helping out and offering titbits of info garnered from many years RPing, mostly about the fact that Giants and Dragons (for the most part) don’t get on. I get that this is a bit ‘cheaty’, employing OOC info, but I’m not going to call Pete out (yet) because the new harmony is uplifting. I’ll have a word with Pete (on the downlow) later (although see below).

The PCs, however, are going to get their Extended Rest.

Woo- and indeed- Hoo!

After Blagothkus (and his Ogres) depart the Stone Giants decide to introduce themselves properly and then hang out with the PCs for a bit- which is fairly cool. Which of the PCs/Players imagined that at the end of the day they were going to be safely ensconced in a Cloud Giant’s flying ice castle and kicking back and relaxing with Stone Giants? The pair, Hulda and Wiglof, are strangely hippyish in their outlook, and with no love of Dragons that’s for sure. Just as Pete, I mean Sgt Bobby, stated earlier- and everyone’s happy.

The conversation with Hulda and Wiglof continues, the latter is the boss of the pair- and some sort of seer (perhaps). The Stone Giants are happy (after more good rolls and plenty of RP) to provide the PCs with a few more clues about their present situation-

1) They’ve not seen or met the Cult Dragon, but they have learnt that the creature is a vain White, called Cloudchaser. The creature is situated in caverns beneath the Lower Courtyard, they provide directions to the Dragon’s lair.

2) They know that there is another high-ranking Cultist (just one?) laired somewhere in or near to the Upper Courtyard (again they provide directions to the area). They fear that the lone Cultist is some form of Undead creature, of what variety they are unaware. They only know, from having spoken to the Ogre guards (their barracks are also in the Upper Courtyard) that the Undead creature is ‘terrifying’, and that it regularly ‘kills and eats’ Ogres. The Stone Giants believe that killing (or scaring off) this creature would certainly impress Blagothkus.

3) Furthermore, Wiglof and Hulda promise that they will talk to Blagothkus and try to persuade him to help the PCs (this after yet more good rolls) although at present, they warn, the Cloud Giant is particularly down- his wife, and life-companion, died almost a year ago to the day, hence him being a grumpy bugger.

The PCs are a little saddened by the Cloud Giant’s situation- mourning his beloved, they are however very much more delighted at the prospect of crewing on the flying ice castle. Sgt Bobby wants to know if they can schedule a brief stopover in Greenest, him turning up in the flying ice castle would certainly put a patch on the indignities he suffered at the hands of Cyanwrath and the Dragon Cultists back in his home town.

We stop for a vote- five to nothing (one vote per PC, therefore Sandy gets two votes- Lux & Hotlips), the PCs promise the brave Sgt Bobby that they will find time to visit Greenest- if they capture (as it were) the castle. Sgt Bobby has a tear in his eye, Pete on the other hand is grinning like a chimp.

And so, an Extended Rest- with no interruptions, the PCs remain in the Red Wizard’s former room- they like the idea of the disappearing ice wall escape route, and with Watt & Lux both having the Fly spell they figure they can transport all five PCs down to the ground in an emergency. That’s some good thinking right there.

The next morning, after an uninterrupted night’s rest (the PCs did however set watches just in case) the Brothers awake- fresh and new and back to a full complement of powers. Then for the next two or so hours they mooch- that is to say they figure that the Cult bad guy (singular?) knows about them now, so they’re waiting for him/her to make an appearance, they’d prefer the fight to happen here- in the former Red Wizard’s chamber.

Nothing happens.

The PCs resolve to continue waiting.

Nothing continues to happen.

The PCs wait another hour.

Nothing happens for another hour.

And so, after another brief chat that went a little like this- Sgt Bobby “Let’s at least go for a look around?”, Lummins, Lux, Watt & Hotlips “Mm’kay”, the PCs head out for an explore. This is where they go and what they see and do (and discover)-

1) The Stone Giants- Wiglof and Hulda are not in their room, Hotlips has a bit of a sneak around inside just to see what interesting things she can see/find- a huge cauldron and an equally huge chest. The Halfling Rogue however choses not to investigate either- all of the PCs like the Stone Giants and are conscious (and thankful) that these guys are on their side.

2) A storeroom (sized for Giants) which Hotlips struggles for a while to unlock, I made Giant locks harder to open, they require an added Strength check- which can be assisted. Within- food, lots of it, but nothing of interest.

3) Next up over the vast expanse of the Lower Courtyard to the nearest building which turns out to be a stable, Sgt Bobby has to strain to get the giant-sized door open again. Within are two Wyverns- which gets the PCs attention. “WTF is a Wyvern?” asks Sandy (Lux & Hotlips) although Jackie (Watt) was also quick on the draw. The upshot of the explanation is another question- “Why aren’t they Dragons?” which leads to a longer (and much less coherent) explanation- the answer in summary being- “they are Dragons, of a sort, just not real Dragons.” The best explanation comes from Rob (Lummins) “they’re lesser Dragons- the dumb cousins of real Dragons”, which will do for now. The physical differences are also pointed out, of course. The problem here, remember, is three of the guys are ex-Dragon Cultists and not really massive fans of Dragonkind.

4) The next question of course is why are their two Wyverns here? Which very quickly leads in to excited chatter about Wyvern flying- this after a brief search turns up saddles and harnesses for the flying mounts. All doubts about the Wyverns (and their Dragon/non-Dragon status) are swiftly forgotten, flying a Wyvern would be “way cool!” Pete sounds like a fourteen-year-old sometimes.

Eventually we move on.

5) The PCs investigate the Cultist barracks- it’s empty, they’ve killed all the Dragonwings on board the ice castle. It’s also at this point that I explain that the bad guys they were facing (and killing previously) were in fact Dragonwings- and not Dragonclaws as the PCs thought at the time. Remember (again) several of the PCs are ex-Dragon Cultists, they know about the hierarchy of the Cult- Dragonwings are twice as tough as Dragonclaws. The PCs also (with a little help from the DM) figure out that Othelstan was probably a Dragonsoul- which is pretty hardcore. There’s no treasure here, or anything interesting to find, they move on.

6) In to one of the towers situated either side of the main entrance to the castle, the PCs head up top for a chat with the Ogres there, shouting ahead in Giantish that they’re friends of the Cloud Giant. The three Ogres (Gork, Honk and Gary) are happy to chat- this after Lux makes nice for a while- “they’re lovely helmets!” Eventually the subject wanders towards the question the PCs most want to know the answer to i.e. the type and nature of the Dragon Cult Undead creature that inhabits the Upper Courtyard- “Oh, the Vampire” Gary the Ogre states, and then shivers. Gary the Ogre’s answer is afforded extra status when Watt, Hotlips & Lux (actually just Sandy & Jackie) all say (actually screech) at the same time- “A VAMPIRE!” It seems everyone has heard of them- and no one thinks the next bit is going to be easy.

We break for further chats about the nature of Vampires, and in particular in this fantasy setting, at which point I chose to tame a little of the OOC chatter- reminding Pete (Sgt Bobby) and Rob (Lummins) that their PCs perhaps know a little bit less than they themselves know. To simulate this, I get Jackie (Watt) and Sandy (Lux & Hotlips) to say what they know about Vampires- and then allow the experienced duo to add a little more in-game detail. Gary the Ogre (and Gork & Honk) are pretty much forgotten about- the PCs chat goes on for nearly twenty minutes real-time. It meanders a bit but eventually arrives at the following statements (Lux = Sandy = school teacher, made a list- like she always does)- Vampires hate sunlight, they can’t go out in it- it burns them (maybe); they also hate running water; they can be killed by a stake through the heart (or a silver bullet- dagger? Spear? Etc.); they have a lair/coffin somewhere in which they regenerate; they usually have followers and can summon stuff- like rats and bats; they can turn in to things- like a rat or a bat; they can climb walls and on ceilings- even upside down; they’re very charming and lastly, they’re very tough to kill.

Which is a great list, they missed a few but it’s an excellent start- and it worked well to blunt (a little) Pete and Rob’s OOC knowledge.

The PCs, after yet more chat, set themselves the following task- they must find the Vampire’s lair, they (very vocally) dedicate themselves to this endeavour. Sgt Bobby and Lux even shout about it for a while- they’re getting very excited. Then once they find the terrible Undead’s lair, they will destroy it- hopefully during the day while the creature is within its coffin.

All they need to do is to find the place.

Gary the Ogre overhears the kerfuffle, confidently he states- “She (the Vampire) lives in the crumbly old tower in the Upper Courtyard- right at the top, careful- the place is a ruin.” Gary goes on to explain that he, and his fellow Ogres, hate the Vampire (described as a ‘pointy-eared, pointy-toothed nasty old bag’), because she keeps drinking their blood.

So, the quest to find the Vampire’s lair is done- that was easy, next stop the Upper Courtyard and then the ruined tower, but first a little more chat with the Ogres. Several only average rolls are supplemented with hard cash- Sgt Bobby discovers that gold pieces can enhance his Charisma checks. Honk the Ogre has heard rumours that there is more than one Vampire- that’s not good. Gork the Ogre knows that the ruined tower can only accessed from above (the inside is filled with rubble)- furthermore he saw Blagothkus (the Cloud Giant) fly up there earlier this morning. The PCs figure this was to inform the Vampire Cultist of their deeds- they’re right.

Forewarned is forearmed, as they say- the Ogres however have no more info, the Brothers of the First Light therefore make straight for the Upper Courtyard- a central spiral staircase heads down to the Dragon’s lair, and up to the Upper Courtyard. The stair however is sized for- you guessed it, Giants (or at least for Ogres) so it’s a bit of a hike.

Note Blagothkus has indeed informed the Vampire of the PCs presence in his flying ice castle, and that the PCs have slaughtered all of the other Cultists (except the Dragon). The Vampire was not at all impressed with the news- but we’ll get to that (much) later.

The Upper Courtyard is very like the Lower Courtyard, although it is at present home to another half-a-dozen plumed helmet wearing Ogres that are practising some incredibly badly co-ordinated drill- at any one time the squad is marching in at least three different directions.

73 Ice Castle side on.jpg

The central structure in the Upper Courtyard has a number of ice towers, although only one is obviously a ruin- cracked and crumbling in places. The windows of the tower have all been sealed shut with ice, the only way in- as Gork the Ogre stated, is an ice platform about seventy or so feet up on which is located a door in to the interior, it’s another thirty feet up from there to the very tip of the roof.

The PCs take a while to have a good look around the tower, circling the structure to see it from all angles- then, what do you know, it’s time for another chat.

I did say there was a lot of chatter in this session, we’ll we’re almost at the end of that.

Just a warning- look away if you’re of a nervous disposition, it’s time for the PCs to try something incredibly stupid, and it was all Lummins’ idea. Here it is- brace yourself.

Lummins says, pretty much out of the blue- with no build up- “Why don’t I just put a Wall of Fire around the base of the ruined ice tower- maybe you pair (Lux & Watt) could hit it with a few Shatter spells in the same spot, and then we’ll see how structurally sound it is. Whadyathink?”

I’ll be honest, there was a lot of giggling, also a lot of ‘Can we do that?’, and, ‘Don’t you think Blagothkus will be pissed?’ As it turns out the answer to both questions the PCs reckon is ‘yes’.

The PCs (crazy) plan is basically this- collapse the tower and the Vampire laired in the upper section will either be crushed and killed in the fall or else will be thrown out in to the streaming sun light- either way afterwards the PCs will wade in and kill the Undead terror.

It’s obviously an incredibly bad plan (although I’ve heard worse) but who am I to tell them that. They’ve also not figured out that Vampires can turn in to a mist- Gaseous Form.

After only five more minutes of chatter- actually four minutes of continuous giggling and maybe a minute of Sgt Bobby chanting “Do It! Do It!”, well… they do it.

Although, get this- they’re going to Shatter the base of the tower on the southern side, so that it falls in that direction- I love that they’ve thought of that, that they have take a (singular) precaution, and thus have fool-proofed their (crazy) plan.

For those that are in to the whole verisimilitude thing then the tower is fifty feet wide and a hundred feet tall, with five-foot-thick walls of ice at the base (although remember it’s also a ruin). The structure contains the remains of three collapsed floors worth of ice-rubble. So, quick bit of maths. That’s 100 x 5 x… oh let’s say over 1,000 tons of ice.

Come on the ‘20’.

There are problems from the start- the Wall of Fire doesn’t reach around the entire structure- so Lummins settles for a sixty-foot-long and twenty-foot-high conflagration curved around the southern side of the tower. An instant later Watt and Lux fire Shatters spells in to the same spot- I get the guys to roll their damage, in the opening moments the ice tower takes 22 Fire damage and 44 Thunder damage.

I roll my usual D20 What Happens Next dice- it’s a ‘14’.

I report back to the PCs, “The ice tower is steaming furiously as the fire melts away the ice, after the quake of the Shatter spells subsides a small crack appears in the base of the tower, snakes up the side of the structure but only for a second- covering maybe twenty feet, and then… nothing, that’s it.” The disappointment is palpable, what next- any more ideas, but no- the PCs are committed.

Lux and Watt hit the tower with two more Shatter spells, while the Wall of Fire continues to burn.

Now before this I had in my mind the number 100, just because- 100 HP damage and something happens- that’s all. I know a 100 HP isn’t a lot but there isn’t anyone sat around the table that doesn’t want the tower to fall.

I can’t remember if the Players had been drinking, but I’m going to guess that the answer to this would be- ‘yes’.

I get the PCs to make their damage rolls again- another 16 Fire & 37 Thunder- the base of the tower has now sustained a total of 38 Fire damage, and 81 Thunder damage- you can see where this is going.

I roll my D20 What Happens Next dice- naturally it’s a ‘1’.

I lift my DMs screen so they can see it (the ‘1’), the Players parade around the table- each of them needing to witness the dice result for themselves, there’s a lot of sucked in breath.

Pete invents a new mantra, it’s basically a rude word beginning with ‘F’ repeated very rapidly, and sometimes loudly- the mantra continues throughout the following-

The southern side of the tower Shatters spewing out an avalanche of ice which very quickly turns in to a slushy landslide, studded with half-ton ice boulders, as it passes through the Wall of Fire.

Not exactly as the PCs planned.

The base of the tower is likewise wreathed in a boiling mist as a quarter or more of the ice rubble within the structure is instantly vaporized.

The avalanche of ice plunges down the southern slope and in to the Upper Courtyard. The ice tower shudders, and then staggers- it seems to lean southwards and then yaws sharply and goes back the other way- north-ish.

I say north-ish because I rolled a ‘1’ remember.

Accompanying the following action is a sound that would possibly serve as the intro to the end of the world (probably alongside Pete’s one rude word mantra), the tower plunges in to a blue ice tower just to the north west- taking out the middle twenty or so feet of the second structure. The blue ice tower, of course, duly collapses. The PCs briefly spy the two frantically waving (and plumed helmet wearing) Ogres atop the structure plummeting to their deaths.

The massive ice tower, it’s forces almost spent- with only gravity to guide it, ricochets but only slightly off the blue ice tower and then thumps down in to a structure directly to the north, crushing much of the building.

Later the PCs will discover that this building is the (plumed helmet wearing) Ogre’s barracks.

Silence, well almost silence- only the sound of the six (plumed helmet wearing) parade ground Ogres being crushed and killed by the top half of the blue ice tower spearing down in to their midst.

Then silence, well not quite silence- there is, of course, the slow gurgling slushing shushing sound of the ongoing liquid ice avalanche on the southern side of the (former) structure as the Wall of Fire continues to blaze.

Oh, and Pete’s still going strong with his mantra.

Lummins stops concentrating on his Wall of Fire, it flickers and then is gone.

Lux has a nice line next, she says- “I think I feel sick…”

That however is the end of the session.

I get some funny looks as I pack up my stuff (we’re at Pete & Jackie’s place) I think it’s because I don’t stop laughing until some time early the next morning.

Jackie informs me much later that Pete stopped repeating his mantra some time the day after.

See you next week, believe me when I tell you that there were a lot of e-mails back-and-forth between this session and the next.

We’re getting very close to the end- the end of everything, perhaps, Blagothkus is not going to be happy.
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We D&D.

Session #40a Hoard of the Dragon Queen #26a The Dragon and the Vampire.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 7
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 7
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 7
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 7
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 7

Secondary PCs.
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 7
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 7
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 7

Note, this is session #40 of our game but only session #26 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen scenario, and possibly the last session for these PCs, maybe… but read on.

Oh, and apologies in advance but it’s a long one (possibly the longest yet)- it was an extended session, for reasons that will become clear.

But before the session starts- there have been lots of e-mails, certainly over fifty in the last week- the subject of all of the missives is of course the events at the end of the last session.

Just to recap the PCs figured that the Cult Vampire’s lair is in the top section of a semi-ruined tower in the Upper Courtyard. Then, after spending a good three hours talking to folk last session, and not fighting things- that’s important to remember, no release of tension, they decided to attempt to collapse the Vampire’s tower. Yep, you read that right- with a Wall of Fire spell (Lummins (Half-Elf Cleric)- it was all his idea) at the base of the tower, and four (enhanced) Shatter spells (two each from Lux (Human Warlock) and Watt (Human Bard)) fired in to the same spot. I was prepared for the tower to do something (when it got to 100 HP damage)- the something dependent on what number came up on my random D20 What Happens Next roll. The number revealed was (of course) a ’1’.

The tower collapsed as the PCs wanted, although not how or where they wanted- it also triggered a slush and ice-boulder landslide, hit another tower on the way down- causing it too to collapse and in doing so to spill the two Ogres (with plumed helmets) atop the second structure. The pair, obviously, fell to their deaths. The Vampire tower then collapsed in to a second building- later the PCs discover this to be the Ogre’s barracks. Oh, and the top half of the second tower plunges in to the Upper Courtyard and kills the six Ogres on parade practice there.

Just to remind you Blagothkus, the Cloud Giant, was very insistent that no more of his Ogre flunkies get killed- the collapsing tower managed to kill eleven of them in one fell-swoop.

I’m therefore going to chance my arm and say openly that the operation was only a partial success.

So, a week’s worth of e-mails from the Players, the subjects explored are as follows, and pretty much in this order-

a) Can we get a do-over? Answer- No.

b) If we all spend our Inspiration Points can we get another roll of the dice? (What my D20 What Happens Next dice?) It’s a nice idea and I think if one of them said it at the time last week then probably- Yes. But now- No, and please bear in mind we all hung around for at least another thirty minutes at the end of the last session before we went our separate ways- nobody thought to mention this then. So, no do-over.

c) Panic ensues, followed by a lot of garbled nonsense- a little bit of blame casting and then 3-2-1 and everyone’s back in the room.

d) WTF do we do now?

e) Oh, and just a note to say that I speculated in the last session that the Players had maybe had a drink. After questioning them a while I discovered that in fact none of them had had any alcohol at all. Perhaps that was the problem.

There are (eventually, when the ‘do-over’ is finally dismissed) lots of suggestions from the Players about what to do next, and it quickly boils down to the three following options (me and my lists)-

1) Tell Blagothkus the truth.

2) Run and hide for now, then kill the Dragon, and then probably have to fight and kill Blagothkus and friends (after all the PCs have killed quite a lot of the Ogres already).

3) Lie to Blagothkus.

Can you guess which of the three emerges as favourite, that’s right- option 3).

Just to say at this point the PCs are working (between sessions) on the assumption that the Vampire is dead, or gone, or… they’re hopelessly deluded of course.

The Vampire wasn’t even in the tower- yep, you heard that right. In a last-minute dash- after Blagothkus told her the news, the creature had her two Vampire Spawn transfer her coffin elsewhere. I’m not telling you where- you’ll have to read on to find out.

The two Vampire Spawn however were up in the tower during the collapse, waiting to ambush the PCs, one of them even survived the catastrophe and is at present lurking (badly wounded but regenerating quickly) in the wrecked Ogre’s barracks. The other, almost killed in the collapse, was flung out of the wrecked tower and in to the light- where it burned up.

Later- in-game, the PCs will find the scorched outline of the second Vampire Spawn and conclude that the Vampire is definitely dead.

Wrong, although I may have had a hand in propagating that particular (false) conclusion.

I am, as I have been told repeatedly and over several decades, a very bad man.

And so, a chunk more e-mails fly bye on the subject of what lie to tell Blagothkus.

I’ll not however spoil the surprise.

Let us therefore, at last, get on with the session- and just to say at the outset the atmosphere was just deathly, almost funereal. The Players fear for the lives of their PCs, and rightly so may I add.

So, to the action- the PCs first job, discussed at length between sessions, is to quickly gather information- they need to understand what they have done in order to make their lie (to Blagothkus) convincing. The group scurry around the outside of the central structure taking in the extent of their catastrophe, there are lots of things to see, including- yep, list time-

a) The crushed remains of the six Ogres on parade, hit by the spire and upper section of the blue-ice tower.

b) Twenty or so very much living Kobolds that spill out of a building to the far west of the Upper Courtyard, the fractious humanoids having heard a noise like the end of the world run around screeching and yapping (in their strange tongue) like the world is coming to an end. The PCs ignore the mob.

c) The ice-boulder-slush avalanche has stopped its flow and is refreezing- it is however a real mess, tons and tons of piled ice.

d) The scorched outline of an individual burnt in to the otherwise pristine white ice of the Upper Courtyard. The Vampire, the PCs figure, was thrown out of the tower during the collapse and in to the sunlight, and thus destroyed- exactly as they planned (the fools, fancy believing that). As I stated earlier, I may have had a hand in fostering this lie. This discovery however elicits only a modicum of joy from the PCs/Players.

e) The partially collapsed building over the north side is the Ogre’s barracks, the PCs discover this when three badly wounded Ogres emerge from the wreckage- one has lost his plumed helmet and is very (very) distraught. The poor feller is in tears. The first Ogre to scramble out of the rubble enquires of the PCs, the first people it sees (and sorta recognises, the Ogre in question was in attendance for the PCs meeting with Blagothkus yesterday) - “What happened?” Lux replies without hesitation, “the ruined tower just collapsed.” This last statement proves to be the epiphany, after a week’s worth of trying to make up a lie fit to feed to an incredibly angry Cloud Giant all suggestions made previously (between sessions) are binned in an instant. The lie is, simply- “the RUINED tower just collapsed” (note the emphasis), that’s it, after all- as Lux states, there’s nobody left alive who witnessed the event. Except the PCs of course. Just to say some of the PCs suggestions as what lie to tell Blagothkus were massively complicated- involving a variety of unlikely events. The epiphany is simple is best- “the RUINED tower just collapsed.”

At this point the Players caught a sudden case of ‘excited’, they were almost giddy with it- there are no living witnesses to their terrible actions. Although, a short while later…

f) Hotlips (Halfling Rogue) spots three plumed helmet wearing Ogres watching on from atop the massive squat tower to the east of the disaster area. The three, the Halfling concludes, probably saw everything- although there was a lot of boiling steam at the bottom of the tower obscuring events, so… maybe.


The PCs, for want of something to do- and trying to avoid the inevitable chat with Blagothkus which will take place sometime very soon (the Cloud Giant is on his way), rush in to the partially collapsed Ogre barracks in an attempt to save any wounded Ogres left inside.

Just to say I gave the Players a lot of leeway- in game it took over forty minutes to get to this point.

Anyway- in to the wreck of the Ogre’s barracks, at which point they encounter the Vampire Spawn, fully regenerated, and with only one thing in mind- to kill the PCs.

74 Vampire Spawn.jpg

The Vampire Spawn drops down from the ceiling on to Lux and grabs her, and then bites the Warlock- and now Sandy is screaming (‘I don’t want to be a Vampire!’). Oh, and the PCs think the Vampire Spawn is the in fact the Vampire, it would be poor form of me to contradict that assumption- besides, I wasn’t asked to comment. The Vampire (Spawn’s) bite with added Necrotic energy reduces Lux’s maximum Hit Points- which duly causes more yelps of dismay from Sandy.

Hotlips scrambles in to action, finds a pile of rubble to hide behind (she’s not going near the Vampire) and then opens up with her crossbow- a hit (with added Sneak Attack) but as with the Gargoyles back in Castle Naerytar her weapon seems to be much less effective against the creature.

Just to note, when the Vampire dropped in to sight, I made sure in my description of the humanoid that I stated it was a male of the species- and an Elf (when it was alive), it’s at this point that Hotlips (Sandy) started to get suspicious.

The Vampire was described by the Ogres in the previous session as being a- ‘pointy-eared, pointy-toothed nasty old bag’, so an Elf of some sort, but definitely female.

Sgt Bobby (Human Fighter) rushes in to action and slashes the Vampire (Spawn) twice, his magical blade bites deep (although he rolls low damage for both attacks- ‘1’ and a ‘2’ plus bonuses).

The Vampire (Spawn) is regenerating- it shrieks and screams as it drags Lux away with it and to the nearest wall, it bites the Warlock again en route- and now Lux is on (effectively) just 10 Hit Points (accounting for the Necrotic damage which is chipping away at her maximum HP). Lux/Sandy yells “I’m dying!”

Watt charges in and offers some Bardic Inspiration for Lux, basically screaming in her face to “Get away from the thing!”, which is easier said than done. He then fires a much enhanced Thunderwave in to the creature in an attempt to break the Grapple, and also to shove the thing through the badly cracked ice wall directly behind it, or else to collapse the structure further- remember the suns out. Vampire (Spawn) don’t like sunlight.

It works, the Grapple is broken, the Vampire (Spawn) is thumped back and the wall behind it cracks like crazy paving- shafts of light stream in, none of them alas find out the Vampire (Spawn).

Watt, because he’s clever (or else Jackie is) repeats the action with an Inspiration Point- the Vampire (Spawn) is thumped again in to the ice wall- and hurt some more (but still not yet bloodied, Regeneration is great). The wall itself continues to crumble and fall away, the creature is now completely encircled (and trapped) by burning shafts of light- but still, as of yet, unharmed by the sunlight.

I wanted to make the fight as tough as possible, so that the PCs continued to think that the bad guy was the Vampire, and not its Spawn.

Lummins gets to Lux with a much-enhanced Cure Wounds spell and then also spends an Inspiration Point to hit the Radiance of the Dawn button- the effect is terrifying, at least for the Vampire (Spawn) the Radiant burn instantly bloodies it and in the same moment negates its Regeneration.

Lux dives away from the creature and gets as far as she can from the terror, before turning and firing two Eldritch Blasts in to her former captor, the Vampire (Spawn) is now almost spent.

Seconds later Sgt Bobby cuts it down, Lummins spams the corpse with Sacred Flames for a short while, just to ensure that the thing is dead.

At which point, inevitably, Blagothkus can be heard roaring in anger and screaming threats outside.

I think I’ve said this before- Bugger!

But before the PCs head outside a quick check of the wrecked building reveals the corpses of three more (plumed helmet wearing) Ogres, the PCs do however remember to take a helmet with them for the distraught Ogre that has lost his pride and joy.

Then, as the PCs are exiting the barracks ready to face Blagothkus, Hotlips gabbles what she knows, or rather suspects- there follows a lot more frenetic chatter. The question raised by Hotlips is how come there are scorch marks outside (signs of a dead Vampire?) and yet they’ve only just fought and killed the Vampire. Also wasn’t the fight with the Vampire, well… rather easy. Last bit, and this is the real worry, the Halfling Rogue thought the Ogres said that the Vampire was ‘an old bag’, i.e. a female, the dead Vampire (Spawn) is/was a male.

The swift conclusion is the Vampire isn’t dead, or else they’ve not found the corpse- at which point several of the PCs make Monster Knowledge checks (Religion for Undead), and the DM tells them all about Vampire Spawn- which both Pete and Rob had forgotten even existed.

Bugger- the Vampire, the PCs are now certain- having seen the DM trying desperately to wipe the smirk from his face, is still very much alive, the dead ones were just Vampire Spawn.

They exit the building, weapons sheathed and with their hands in the air- surrender, to face the fury of Blagothkus.

It goes like this- lots of shouting from Blagothkus, in reply the PCs stick to their lie- ‘the RUINED tower simply collapsed’, the PCs were not involved. They tried, of course, to rescue the Ogres from their collapsed barracks, but to no avail.

75 Blagothkus.jpg

That’s the line, repeated indefinitely.

Note Wiglof and Hulda, the Stone Giants, are also present.

So, the roleplay is good- it always is, therefore it’s pretty much down to the rolls- all of the PCs (I insist) have to make a Deception check, if only to maintain a straight face and the correct body language during Blagothkus’ verbal barrage. I seem to remember standing on my chair (I’m a Cloud Giant, remember) with the module book in hand shouting at the Players, most exhilarating- you should try it.

I also made it clear OOC that if they mess up badly then the next rolls will be for Initiative, and they’d be facing the full force of the Giants- Wiglof and Hulda are honour bound to side with Blagothkus.

So, the scores (adjusted)- Sgt Bobby ‘14’, Lux ‘19’, Hotlips ‘20’, Lummins ‘24’ and Watt ‘27’; what the hell is a poor DM to do?

Wiglof and Hulda immediately begin to castigate Blagothkus- basically the ruined tower could have collapsed at any time. The Stone Giant pair, after a bit more very persuasive chat by Lux and Lummins (who both speak the Giant tongue, remember) state that they will help the Cloud Giant to make the tower/s anew.

Blagothkus is still very angry, although now he’s missing someone to blame.

Right on queue Lux (Sandy) finds the nub of the problem- “Who knows what the Dragon Cultists were getting up to in the RUINED tower…”

The Warlock adjusted Persuasion check is ‘28’, that’s fairly conclusive.

Blagothkus roars in anger- he’s found someone to blame- the Dragon Cult Vampire. He then asks/orders* the PCs to destroy all of the Dragon Cultists (the Vampire and the Dragon) or else get them off his flying ice castle (I go all Drill Sgt- “Get them off my flying ice castle!”). He goes on to say that the Vampire has moved down in to the White Dragon’s lair- yeah, that’s right- an Adult White Dragon and a Vampire, how do you like them odds? Hulda, the Stone Giant, soon after volunteers to accompany the PCs in to action- to even the sides a little, this after some more great RP and even better rolls from the PCs.

*Note throughout the above Blagothkus the Cloud Giant is see-sawing between fury and trying to maintain his cool- after all he believes the PCs have done nothing untoward, the bad guys are NOW quite definitely the Dragon Cultists.

There’s a bit of me that thinks that the Players are all a bunch of bastards for getting away with their idiocy, however a larger portion of my psyche is laughing like a drain and waiting to see how they do against the Vampire and the Dragon.

Oh, and Blagothkus is insistent, the Dragon Cultists need to be off his ice castle immediately, the PCs need to fulfil their part of the deal they previously agreed- NOW.

What’s more the kindly DM adds to the mix- I state, rather reasonably (I believe) that the Dragon and the Vampire constitute the climax to the Hoard of the Dragon Queen. The Players know that there’s a second module that follows this one- Pete and Rob let the cat out of the bag months ago, and I’ve let them know that this adventure goes all the way to 15th Level. So, the Players are aware the Hoard of the Dragon Queen is only half of the story.

Still- the climax, the last big fight- victory, I am happy to inform them, will see them crewing on Blagothkus’ ice castle- while Lummins educates the Cloud Giant in the ways of Lathander. I also state that Blagothkus may not be so accommodating if he discovers that it was the PCs that collapsed the Vampire’s tower. But that’s tomorrow’s problem…

The PCs head back to the spiral stairway that descends in to the depths of the ice castle, in to the caverns beneath the Lower Courtyard. They don’t however head all the way down to the Dragon’s lair immediately, first up they talk tactics with Hulda the Stone Giant (and discover he throws rocks- they search a few out), and at the same time pump some healing in to Lux. The Warlock is particularly beat up, and her Hit Point maximum is much reduced, she needs an Extended Rest but the DM is insistent that the Brothers of the First Light get on with it, they do however get in a Short Rest (because I’m not cruel) and spend a few much-needed Hit Dice (and recover other Powers).

One way or another this is going to be the last session of Hoard of the Dragon Queen, and an extended one at that.

And so…

After the healing and Short Rest, the PCs and Hulda head down below, Hotlips (as always) is sent creeping ahead- and Invisible- the Rogue follows the tunnel in to the lower section of Dragon’s lair.

The massive cavern is split in two by an equally massive ice cliff- the Halfling, at present, can (obviously) only see in to the lower section. Ahead a mound of broken ice, studded- the Halfling thinks- with treasure, the Dragon’s hoard. The blue ice walls of the chamber reflect a little light which funnels in from the largest of the tunnels that exits the chamber to the east, clearly this tunnel leads to the outside of the ice castle.

76 Dragon.jpg

It takes a while for the Halfling to (think) she’s spotted the Dragon; the Rogue is fairly certain (although the dastardly DM wouldn’t say for sure) that there’s some sort of creature up on the ceiling of the giant ice chamber- more or less above the frozen treasure pile.

There’s no sign however of the Vampire, or her coffin.

Hotlips eventually backs up a way, returns to her colleagues- briefly, and then tramps up another one of the tunnels which exits in to the upper section of the Dragon’s lair, atop the cliff. The Halfling creeps forward to the very edge of the drop, thirty feet below is the other half of the massive cavern which she has already observed.

The Rogue thinks she can see something beyond the ice/treasure pile but can’t make it out for sure- it’s the Vampire’s coffin, hardly hidden at all- the Vampire Spawn didn’t have time.

Hotlips is however certain that she can see the Dragon high up on the ceiling of the cavern- spying down on the treasure pile below, and probably only fifty feet away from her position (she’s still Invisible remember).

DM Interlude- I was rolling opposed Stealth/Perception checks throughout Hotlip’s little adventure in to the Dragon’s lair, but even with +11 the Dragon didn’t spot (or hear, smell etc.) the (Invisible) Rogue. Not yet, anyway.

Hotlips reports back, and soon after there’s a plan- actually not much of a plan after nearly twenty minutes of sometimes strained discussion. The plan is mostly this- get in, blast the Dragon, retreat in to the tunnels and draw the wyrm on to the upper section- enter the Stone Giant and Sgt Bobby. That’s pretty much all of it. With the addendum- react to the Vampire when she turns up.

It therefore starts with an Invisible Hotlips creeping back in to the upper cavern and shooting the Dragon, which is also where it starts to go wrong- the Dragon spots (and hears) the Halfling’s footsteps in the ice and roars his disapproval. Hotlips, hurried, fires (and misses) and then goes running back to her friends- the Dragon takes wing, already in pursuit of the Halfling.

So, here’s how I’m going to play the White Dragon- fast and loose, get in there- kill everything, Breath Weapon soon as, flee if down to 25% of Hit Points- that’s it. The Vampire arises from her coffin in three Turns- or similar- and starts picking off the PCs one by one.

Then I roll Initiative for my bad guys- bloody hell, an adjusted ‘7’ (Vampire) and a ‘6’ (White Dragon). I should just take to cheating. Here’s how it plays out-

77 Dragon Upper.jpg

Hotlips flees screaming in to the nearest ice tunnel and gets as far away as she can from the White Dragon (Sandy’s taking no chances).

Hulda, the Stone Giant rushes out of another tunnel, roaring in fury, and then throws a fist sized (for a Giant) rock in to beast (for 27 damage- WOW, I’m not doing that again).

“Fight me filthy Wyrm!” The Stone Giant roars (in Giantish, which the Dragon doesn’t understand), but all the same gets the message across. Cloudchaser, real name- Glazhael, swoops towards the Giant.

The only creature in sight atm.

Lummins and Lux meantime dodge out of one of the other icy tunnels- the Priest of Lathander hits the Dragon with a Fireball, alas the flaming missile barely scorches the beast (only 12 Fire damage), while the Warlock slams one of her Eldritch Blasts in to it. Immediately the pair rush back in to cover, only just quick enough as Glazhael lands and then roars even louder- causing shards of ice to cascade down from the ceiling (Frightful Presence), but only one of the PCs (and Hulda) are left cowering in terror- Frightened by the wyrm.

Let’s see which PC it is.

Glazhael rips in to Hulda the Stone Giant, although my highest attack roll is a ‘6’ plus bonuses- so, just one hit. At this point Sgt Bobby with his Readied Action should leap in to combat but… the Fighter remains in hiding (he’s Frightened) and will not close with the beast (he then fails his second Save and continues to dither).

Pete isn’t at all happy.

Oddly his friends are equally unhappy with Pete, I mean Sgt Bobby.

Watt comes to the rescue (maybe) the Bard rushes out in to the open and starts up with his Countercharm song. I ask Jackie (playing Watt) to name the song and sing a little, we get a few lines of “I Predict a Riot” by the Kaiser Chiefs. The Bard adds a little extra Bardic Inspiration to the previously unflappable Sgt Bobby’s next Saving Throw.

This while the spooked Hulda is left fighting the Dragon- but not hitting, the Frightened Stone Giant is on the defensive. All of the PCs, except Watt, are still hiding in the ice tunnels.

Hotlips rushes out in to the open and stabs the Dragon in its backside (with extra Sneak Attack) Glazhael immediately (with a Legendary Action- slight cheat there) lashes the Halfling Rogue with its tail- that hurt. Hotlips dodges back in to cover, and specifically back in to the tunnel in which Sgt Bobby sits and quivers- too Frightened to even approach the Dragon.

Hotlips (played by Sandy) screams abuse at Sgt Bobby (played by Pete), which obviously goes down well. Please understand Sandy at this point is laughing like a drain- shouting something like “For the last X weeks you’ve been behaving like a macho bully-boy D-head and now you’re sat on your haunches s(h)itting in your pants. GET OUT THERE!!!”

Oh, how we laughed- except for Pete of course.

Hulda continues to defend himself, and by doing so overcomes at last his fear of the wyrm- he’s no longer Frightened.

Just to note- at this point the Vampire is only just emerging from her coffin.

And so, if the PCs are not coming out of the tunnels…

Glazhael turns to his right, as casual as you like, and fills the nearest ice tunnel with his freezing cold breath- Lux is left sprawled unconscious and dying, remarkably Lummins & Watt are both (only just) on their feet (on 9 and 4 Hit Points respectively).

The Players are screaming blue fury. Nothing has ever done that to them before.

I mention the fact that the Dragon could do it to them again, sometime soon…

At which point a grinning Sgt Bobby (at last) rushes out of the tunnel he has been cowering in- screaming (and swearing up an absolute storm), the Fighter is a whirl of blades (seemingly) he connects with his magical longsword, three times in quick succession (and with two ‘19’s, two Crits).

There is much whooping around the table, the fight-back has begun.

Seconds later Hulda also connects with his titanic stone club.

Glazhael is suddenly bloodied- the great wyrm beats its wings (another Legendary Action) flattening Sgt Bobby and Hulda (and hurting both) and then leaps in to the air.

It’s not yet time for the Dragon to flee, but it is time to get a little distance from the melee bastards- Sgt Bobby and the Stone Giant.

Lummins fires an enhanced Healing Word in to Lux- she lives, and then rushes out in to the open, the Priest of Lathander then fires a second Fireball in to Glazhael, the Dragon roars in agony (and, at last, good damage rolls).

Lux drags herself to her feet, and then stumbles out after the Priest, the Warlock hits the Dragon with her Blight spell, the Necrotic energy leaves the great wyrm wracked in pain, and now below 25% of its original Hit Points.

Just to note the Dragon has either saved or used its Legendary Resistance to pass every Saving Throw so far.

Glazhael roars in terror… and flees, as quickly as it can go- swiftly swooping down and then out of sight in to the largest passage exiting the massive ice chamber, to the east- and towards the light.

The PCs stand statue- Hulda and Sgt Bobby gingerly climbing to their feet.

The newly realised silence is suddenly broken by a strangled roar (it sounded like the Dragon?) followed by a WHUMP, like the sound of a very large object (maybe something the size of… well, a Dragon) falling hard in to packed snow and/or ice.


The PCs (and the Players) are still awaiting the arrival of the Cult Vampire- the fight with the White Dragon only took four admittedly very frantic Turns to play out.

Eventually, when nothing happens for a good while- except for some emergency healing, the PCs filter down- still battle ready, through the ice tunnels and in to the lower section of the Dragon’s lair. Hulda, the Stone Giant, accompanying them, and enlarging the tunnels as he goes.

Once in the lower section Hotlips sprints for the larger east tunnel through which the Dragon departed at top speed. Oddly, the Halfling is fairly certain she can hear a voice coming from that direction.

She’s right.

Fifty feet down the tunnel is the dead body of Glazhael, the White Dragon, standing atop the fallen beast is an ancient gnarled old woman (actually an Elf, to be more accurate- a dead Elf), muttering to herself and seemingly measuring up the Dragon’s corpse.

The Vampire, Sandesyl Morgia, turns and waves at Hotlips- “Coeeee!!” she calls, somewhat disarming the Halfling Rogue. “I say, if you help me to flense the beast I will allow you all to keep your lives! Fu-Fu-Fu-Fu*”

*Fu-Fu-Fu-Fu is the best I can do with letters/words to replicate the sound I made, Sandesyl’s laugh is akin to the sound Hannibal Lecter makes during his initial interview with Clarice Starling, in Silence of the Lambs.

The Vampire repeats her offer when all of the PCs are gathered, and then takes a moment to explain what ‘flense’ means- to cut the flesh from the bones. The PCs are a little wary, but… thinking about it- what a way to end the session and the scenario.

We’ve been playing now for approaching five hours, and two of the Players were supposed to leave early tonight- they’re flying off on holiday in the morning.

It’s actually Sgt Bobby and Lux that are the first to agree to the Vampire’s offer, and they’ve not agreed on a lot over the course of this adventure.

That however really is the end of the session, although in the style of an epilogue the following is achieved over e-mail in the days and weeks following (and yet another list)-

a) The Dragon is flensed, during which the PCs take the opportunity to introduce themselves to Sandesyl Morgia (the Vampire) and ingratiate themselves a little. Sandseyl, it seems, is an old skool Dragon Cultist- she hates the new management (someone called for Severin) and thinks likewise that their plan- to summon Tiamat to the Sword Coast (WTF?), is the wrong way to go. She’s sticking to making Dracoliches… much safer, she states.

b) Eventually Sandesyl departs the castle- with great gouts of summoned Bat Swarms carrying away the bones of Glazhael the dead White Dragon.

c) The PCs spend a good while over the following days chipping free the Cult treasure hoard, this after they are given accommodation aboard the flying ice castle by Blagothkus. The treasure includes a selection of magic items (one for each PC, they get to choose for themselves- one +1 item or the equivalent).

d) Lummins spends time exchanging stories and information with Blagothkus and manages to somehow lift the Cloud Giant’s dark mood.

e) The first destination for the flying ice castle is, as promised, Greenest- Sgt Bobby gets to lead the PCs (and Blagothkus, Hulda & Wiglof) in to his home town. The celebrations continue for several days (and nights).

f) The second destination for the flying ice castle is a return to Castle Naerytar, which the Brothers of the First Light discover is now abandoned. The adventurers reclaim the Farseer of Illusk and gift the device to Blagothkus- although some changes are going to have to be made for the Cloud Giant to use it- it’s a size issue. The eventual idea is to situate the Farseer in the yet to be constructed new tower (to replace the fallen RUINED tower).

g) All of the PCs are now level 8.

h) Oh, and the PCs get a chance to go through the letters and books they managed to locate in the Red Wizard’s chambers- this includes a great tome called Beyond the Iron Gates. The book is written in Infernal, it describes various forms of devil summoning. The final chapter of the eldritch tome describes the use of a massive summoning ritual requiring the sacrifice of hundreds of souls to bring Tiamat bodily out of the Nine Hells and into the world.

Which nicely leads us on to our next adventure.

Thanks for reading, back in a short while (I'm going to take a couple of weeks off probably) with the second and final instalment of the Tyranny of Dragons- The Rise of Tiamat.

Oh, last thought- I bottled it with the Dragon and the Vampire, when the Dragon fled the Vampire could/should have taken over the fight against the PCs- but that may have been fatal, as in TPK fatal. Three of the PCs- Lux, Lummins & Watt were on less the 10 Hit Points… so I chose the road less travelled by and had the Vampire kill the Dragon. Actually the previous explanation is a little contrived, the reality is I chose the course of action described above because it was very late and two of the Players had to be awake something like five hours later to drive to Manchester to catch a flight to sunny climes. We were out of time and I just thought- find a neat ending, and it worked. Besides the bio in the module for Sandesyl the Vampire clearly states she’s not taken with the present Dragon Cult management and still enamoured with the thought of crafting new Dracoliches- it therefore seemed the right thing to do.

Until next time.

Cheers Goonalan

A quick note for the next adventure. The White Dragon of the next adventure Arauthator "Old White Death" is mistakenly called an adult white dragon when he is ancient, which is corrected in the other 5e adventure he can appear in. (Plus being Cloudchaser's father, it makes sense that he is much stronger) This makes more sense with the fear of him that everyone has, and the insistence the PC's not mess with him. (and his early retreat threshold of 100 hp, cause he is not willing to risk himself over a secondary lair and hoard.)

As he is stated to be smarter than the average white dragon and interested in magic. I would recommend giving him the variant Dragon Spellcasting. Plus it would be fun to see how your players react to a single monster they don't think they can actually beat.


A quick note for the next adventure. The White Dragon of the next adventure Arauthator "Old White Death" is mistakenly called an adult white dragon when he is ancient, which is corrected in the other 5e adventure he can appear in. (Plus being Cloudchaser's father, it makes sense that he is much stronger) This makes more sense with the fear of him that everyone has, and the insistence the PC's not mess with him. (and his early retreat threshold of 100 hp, cause he is not willing to risk himself over a secondary lair and hoard.)

As he is stated to be smarter than the average white dragon and interested in magic. I would recommend giving him the variant Dragon Spellcasting. Plus it would be fun to see how your players react to a single monster they don't think they can actually beat.

Alas, I would if I could but I can't, as I said (but only once, and very briefly- so, easy to miss) in my first post we actually started playing this game several years ago. When I started writing this story hour we had already played 98 sessions of D&D (from memory, I may have to go back and check what I wrote in the first post). We finished Hoard of the Dragon Queen in our 40th session of play, so I've another 58 sessions to write up just to catch up to where (and when) I started this malarkey. We've, obviously, played plenty more sessions since then...

So, Rise of Tiamat is done, as is Princes of the Apocalypse- starring the Blessed Avengers (Myrium and the gang from Lost Mines), and then we started on... well, you'll see.

But thanks for the advice, and the interest- it is always very much appreciated.

Cheers Goonalan

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