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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.

Nice stuff, as ever.

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

Stay safe and keep it coming. :)
 

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Goonalan

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Supporter
Nice stuff, as ever.

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

Stay safe and keep it coming. :)

Bugger, and now I'm reading it too.

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

Stay safe.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
We D&D.


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which just leaves Watt and Lux, still bloodied.

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

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

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

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

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

Answer: Not.

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

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

51 Lennithon.jpg


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

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

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

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

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

It gets very in/tense very quickly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This has got nasty very quickly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jackie is really not enjoying this fight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The fight is over.

That was titanic.

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

That was good.

That was also very close.

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

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

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

The Priest is always looking for converts.

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

Woo-hoo, the heroes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The war has begun.

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

See you then.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
We D&D.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

You live and you learn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

BLINK.

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

Welocme to sunny Thay!

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

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

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

To continue…

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

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

They’ve tamed Pete at last.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Brothers learn-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bastards.

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

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

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

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

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

Mess with the Players, it’s your job.

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

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

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

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

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

Or so I believed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Basically, Watt just pretty much wriggled out of everything.

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

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

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

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

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

8) Describe your feelings and thoughts about Szass Tam?

The question is never asked.

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

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

Results-

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The exchange is short and to the point.

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

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

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

He’s back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let’s see how that plays out.

Until next time.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
We D&D.

Session #63 The Fourth (and final) Council of Waterdeep.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 13
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 13
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 13
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 13
&
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 13

Secondary PCs.
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 8
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 8
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 13


This is session #63 of our game, but only session #22 of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

Just to say ahead of time, this wasn’t like our normal sessions, or rather it was for a short while- described below, but then the males of the species of our group (including me, of course) got excited and we decided to cut things short.

We also had Indian food, and not the usual Pizza- it was my choice.

It might have been my birthday.

So, lots of chatter this session, and the tangle that went nowhere in last session has been swiftly forgotten- at least by me, I’m not sure the Players even noticed. There’s also been a bit of chatter between sessions, a few e-mails back and forth- the other PCs/Players trying to get Sgt Bobby (Pete) to tell them what happened to him in Thay- he mostly avoids (initially by not replying to anyone for a while) the issue, eventually telling his colleagues he was “captured, tortured and interrogated”, the other Players are assured. Or, at least, they can’t be bothered to press the issue.

They’re all aware however that Pete (Sgt Bobby) is grinning a lot and muttering to himself more than usual.

Then on with it, and we’re back to Waterdeep, and the city is tense- the Dragon Cult attacks here are half-hearted, because the Brothers cleared out the main nest of Cultists in the City of Splendours some time back. However other cities, towns and settlements are suffering on the Sword Coast, with doomsaying Dragon Cultists in the streets, protected by mobs of latter-day adherents, while up above- every now and then great winged wyrms come calling, blasting buildings and people- causing fear and terror to hold sway.

All is chaos, or else if not all- then a sufficient portion of the populace are cowed and/or made to fear for their lives.

Meantime, back to our heroes…

The (fake) Blue Dragon Mask is passed on to the Harpers, and within the day it’s confirmed that the thing is yet another (although this time harmless) fake, and so at last we get into the final meeting of the Council of Waterdeep.

The usual folk are present, and with guards in the Council chamber from the off this time- the delegates however are fractious, the beginning of the session starts with a roll call of reports- Dragon Cult and Dragon attacks, the land is beset, although those locales and factions favoured by the support of the Chromatic Dragons have suffered much less, if at all.

As usual the Brothers (for which read Lux, and sometimes Watt) deliver their fantasy fiction version of a power-point presentation to let the delegates know what they’ve been up to since they last saw them, the following subjects are therefore discussed (some at length)-

!) The Brothers success in recovering the (fake) Blue Dragon Mask, alas the Cult traitor they were sent to rescue- Iskander, was already dead. Obviously, none of the Council members feel like celebrating this hollow victory- the Blue Dragon Mask, it has already been established, is yet another fake. But that however is only the tip of the iceberg in this discussion as it emerges that Xonthal’s Tower has since been acquired from the Brothers by Rian Nightshade (also present at the meeting). It gets angry-bad very quickly, particularly when a combination of Ontharr Frume (Order of the Gauntlet) and Taern Hornblade (Lords’ Alliance) let slip that Rian represents the interests of the Black Network- the Zhentarim.

This, of course, is news to all of the PCs/Players, except for Lux- who is a member of the aforementioned less than auspicious organisation. It gets to arguing, a little amongst the Council delegates, a lot (but briefly) amongst the Brothers of the First Light. The bickering circles for a while, but- let’s be honest here, Sgt Bobby and Hotlips aren’t bothered one way or the other, Lux is obviously all for it, Lummins rages a while- “The Zhent!” but goes nowhere with his tirade. While Watt- at first the most objectionable finally concludes that this can all get sorted out ‘after’ the Dragon Cultists are dealt with. So, in sum total- a brief spat, then back on with the Brother’s presentation.

2) Tales of the Brother’s away-day in Thay- dream interrogations (for the weak-willed, Lux’s words), the return of the gimp-suited and much abused Sgt Bobby, and finally the Red Wizard’s pledge to help in the finale against Rath Modar and his renegades. The delegates don’t know whether to laugh or to cry, this alliance has acquired some strange bedfellows, but needs must- it seems. Of course, throughout all the above the Brothers are staunchly supported by King Melandrach and Ambassador Brawnanvil, as well as their usual cheerleaders.

3) The DM then delivers two stirring sterling speeches, the first from Lord Isteval of Daggerford, and the finale, a bunch of fine-fine words (some of them I actually meant) from Lady Laeral Silverhand. Basically, the grinning DM says lots of nice things about the PCs, the decisions that they have had to make, and the limited time and the pressing situations in which they have had to make them. It’s a paeon to adventurers, and in particular the four fine folk that sit around our gaming table. At the end of which we get stuck into the Indian food, which has arrived a little early.

Happy birthday to me. Happy Birthday!

4) Then, after and during the repast, a bunch more chatter. It seems the Well of Dragons has been located, this after Lummins sent a Sending spell with the newly acquired information from Thay to his Harper contact- Leosin Erlanthar, while the Brothers were en route to Waterdeep. So, that’s that then- the war will be won at/in the Well of the Dragons, the last act (save for the wishing of luck and giving thanks) of the Council of Waterdeep is for its delegates to individually line up to deliver (and then barter a little) their pledges of support (and NPC-power) for the battle that is to come. You’ll see what I’m on about- keep reading.

Basically, it’s time for me to tot up the numbers on the Council of Waterdeep scorecard, and to tell the PCs (sorta) what they’ve won.

Just to say the Brothers were made (very) aware by the more friendly delegates that their selling Xonthal’s Tower to the Zhent did them no favours here. Lux braves the barbs out; Sandy however apologises profusely to her gaming companions, although- in truth, all of the PCs/Players thought that selling the tower was the right thing to do at the time.

So, the final scores-

The Harpers +11 (5/7/10)
The Order of the Gauntlet +9 (7/9/12)
The Emerald Enclave +6 (5/7/10)
& the various Lords’ Alliance delegates-
Lady Silverhand +12 (7/9/12)
Lord Neverember +10 (5/7/10)
Ambassador Brawnanvil +14 (7/9/12)
King Melandrach +14 (6/8/11)
Marshall Ravengard +11 (7/9/12)
Taern Hornblade +9 (6/8/11)
Sir Isteval +11 (6/8/11)

Just to remind you the numbers in parenthesis beside each faction show the scores the PCs need to achieve to gain 1 to 3 favours from each delegate. So, to gain three favours from the Harpers the Brothers would need to score 10 or more, they got 11.

Woo-hoo.

So this is how it works, and these are the choices the PCs have to make, I take the time (your glorious DM) to explain that they (the Brothers of the First Light) are going to war, and that they- in the form of all of their PCs (including their Secondary Characters) and a bunch more NPCs, and a swathe of other low-level NPC troops will be playing out the entire assault on the Well of Dragons. Or, at least, the caldera bit.

The Harpers help out by briefly presenting their findings, they’ve worked quickly and have a fair idea of the various entrances and openings that lead into the caldera of the inactive volcano, where they’re certain the summoning of Tiamat will take place.

So, the PCs need to equip their strike teams, of which there will be six- one for each of the entrances the Harpers have identified into the caldera, or at least the Harpers believe- one of the six entrances must lead to the finale. Surely.

We’ll get to a better explanation of these events (I promise) a little bit later on in this narrative, for now all the PCs need to know is that they have some favours to spend with the various factions in order to get the NPCs/troops they need to make their attack/s.

And so, much of the rest of this session is spent arguing about how they’re going to spend their various faction favours.

Each faction has available some or all of the following-

a) Faction specific troops (a bunch of low-level no-name NPCs),
b) A magical item (selected by a PC, and adjudicated upon by the DM),
c) Or, a high level (10th) NPC.

Just to make clear- one favour from a faction gains one item from the above list, two favours equal two choices, etc. Note the Brothers can select the same item multiple times- so, with three favours they can access two magical items and a bunch of faction specific troops, or any other combination (that adds up to three).

Furthermore we’re going to be playing all of these fights out on Fantasy Grounds, and over the coming weeks- each of the Players is responsible for one of the strike teams (that’s four in total), while the other two strike teams will be made up of the Brothers of the First Light who are going in the back door, and the Secondary Characters (and a few others) who are going in the front door. These last two strike teams will (mostly, as it turns out) be played around the gaming table.

So, faction favours, what do the PCs get for all of their hard-earned work-

The Harpers +11 (5/7/10) = 3 Favours, which are spent on a bunch of Scouts, two Harper Mages & the services for the final battle of their Harper contact, Leosin Erlanthar the (10th Level) Monk.

The Order of the Gauntlet +9 (7/9/12) = 2 Favours, which are spent on a clutch of War Priests, and the company of Ontharr Frume the (10th Level) Paladin, for the finale.

The Emerald Enclave +6 (5/7/10) = just 1 Favour from the nature-lovers, which comes in the form of a heavily muscled no-necked (10th Level) Barbarian, who Pete soon after names Barbaric Bertram. I worry about him. Although, Sandy wanted Barbara.

& the various Lords’ Alliance delegates-

Lady Silverhand +12 (7/9/12) = 3 Favours, which garners the Brothers a squad of Waterdeep City Guards, and two heroes of the City of Splendours- a pair of (10th Level) NPCs- a Fighter and a Sorcerer.

Lord Neverember +10 (5/7/10) = again (and oddly- I checked the maths) 3 Favours also from Neverember which are exchanged for the services of a ragtag bunch of mercenaries- a mixture of Spys, Thugs & Veterans.

Ambassador Brawnanvil +14 (7/9/12) = and again, another 3 Favours are gained, and exchanged for the services of Dwarven Clerics, and Veterans, and a (10th Level) Priest of Moradin to lead them.

King Melandrach +14 (6/8/11) = and once more, all 3 Favours are earned, the services of more Scouts are acquired, with an Eldritch Knight (10th Level) to command them. Oh, and the Treant (Russell) will also be coming to the party, this after Watt (Jackie) made a heartfelt plea.

Marshall Ravengard +11 (7/9/12) = 2 Favours, which are exchanged for the services of Flaming Fist Veterans and Thugs.

Taern Hornblade +9 (6/8/11) = 2 more Favours gained, this time swapped for the services of six Knights in Silver (from Silverymoon).

Sir Isteval +11 (6/8/11) = lastly, the Brothers’ long-time fan, and 3 more Favours (natch) to buy the services of a trio of Purple Dragon Knights, a pair of Cormyrean War Wizards, and a Purple Dragon Knight Commander (10th Level Paladin) to lead the company.

So, just to make clear the PCs/Players have access to a small army (as described above) and of course their PCs (including the Secondary Characters). The good guys are going to be divided into six strike teams, each of which will pick an entrance to the Well of Dragons, and then battle their way through to the caldera- for the finale.

Or get slaughtered in the attempt.

If you’re interested, then each strike team will consist of 8 PCs/NPCs (two ‘characters’ in-game for each Player). When a PC/NPC dies then a reinforcement will arrive (from the army outlined above) until all of the reinforcements are gone… by which I mean, obviously, dead.

The newly arrived replacement NPC will be rolled for, from a table I created for the occasion. Note, what the PCs didn’t know at the start was that the NPCs arrive in CR order- lowest first. I don’t think they were expecting this, but y’know- mess with them, I’ve told you this before.

More obviously, I’m going to be packing the Dragon Cultists (all MAX HP) into the Well of Dragons, so- there are going to be casualties, that I can promise- because this has already happened, I was there- never mind ‘I saw it’- ‘I did it’.

But we’ll get to that.

Oh, and the PCs are going to get some other ‘special guest star’ reinforcements, which they didn’t know about until… well, until they turned up in the fight.

But again, we’ll get to that.

So, and this is the really surprising thing about this session- that’s it, that’s all we got up to- we started late, the food arrived early, and then it took over an hour-and-a-half after the Council of Waterdeep presentations to figure out what NPCs the Players wanted to co-opt from the various factions.

They had lots of choices to make along the way, and plenty to ‘discuss’, for which read bicker about.

Just to make clear Rob (playing Lummins) and Pete (playing Pete) argued for nearly 20 minutes over the relative merits of an Emerald Enclave Ranger vs an Emerald Enclave Barbarian. Pete won (natch) he got his Barbarian, remember- he called him Bert.

Last bit, because I don’t have anything else to write here- the Brothers of the First Light say their fond farewells to the members of the Council of Waterdeep (and get a few extra Potions, very mostly of the Healing variety), then load up the Flying Lighthouse with their mini-army and set course for the Well of Dragons.

The rest of the session, and a little extra time- and the intervening two weeks (via e-mail) were spent fine tuning the Players choices and rolling up their new NPCs on Fantasy Grounds.

See you next time- for the finale (nearly), or at least the start of it.

Stay safe.

Cheers goonalan
 


Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Sounds like there's some good fun coming up ... so I hope you're wearing your fingers to the bone typing it all up as rapidly as possible :giggle:

Alas the opposite is true- I'm way behind, I've had two weeks off work and all of a sudden there are jobs aplenty to be done... I'm hoping I'll get a wriggle on and write up some more in the next couple of days- I usually have 3-4 posts in reserve, I've only got one written and ready to go atm.

Cheers goonalan
 

Sadras

Hero
So I see you have forgone having higher level PC's, instead opting for secondary and many tertiary (support) characters. It seems like the better way to do this as you can have the body count rack up and play up the lethality and epicness of it all. My group is currently 11th level (adopted a slow levelling method) and the secondary group is 7th. We are just finishing the 3RD Council Meeting - ours is a mashup of ToD & SKT.
My groups missed the opportunity of obtaining Skyreach Castle. (TWICE!)

The second time the lower level group encountered it at the Draconic Council, when the Vampire Cultist was hoping to use the Draakhorn's secondary effects* against the 5 Metallic Dragons, incapacitate them, kill them, skin them and raise them as dracoliches in order to use them to reclaim the identity of the Cult from Severin. The PCs managed to stop Sandesyl's forces, save the Draconic Council, but failed to damage/destroy the Draakhorn or claim Skyreach Castle.

Your method of the PCs commanding a force from a flying fortress is alluring.
It will all depend on my PCs, if they will be able to fix the Ordning and secure a flying fortress from the Cloud Giants - thinking Countess Sansuri (SKT). There might be a possibility of an epic aerial battle between Skyreach and the Sansuri's fortress. Thinking airborne pirate-style boarding, ogres, griffons, giants & dragons with the Ancient Vampire Sandesyl being the climax, with a last minute plea to spare her, to help them against Severin, only to abandon them at the first opportunity.

And this awesomeness all happening in the air above caldera while forces of the Sword Coast and Tiamat battle it out below.

Sigh, I'm estimating we are about 20 sessions still away from that!

*Made-up, inspired from your posts.
 
Last edited:

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
So I see you have forgone having higher level PC's, instead opting for secondary and many tertiary (support) characters. It seems like the better way to do this as you can have the body count rack up and play up the lethality and epicness of it all. My group is currently 11th level (adopted a slow levelling method) and the secondary group is 7th. We are just finishing the 3RD Council Meeting - ours is a mashup of ToD & SKT.
My groups missed the opportunity of obtaining Skyreach Castle. (TWICE!)

The second time the lower level group encountered it at the Draconic Council, when the Vampire Cultist was hoping to use the Draakhorn's secondary effects* against the 5 Metallic Dragons, incapacitate them, kill them, skin them and raise them as dracoliches in order to use them to reclaim the identity of the Cult from Severin. The PCs managed to stop Sandesyl's forces, save the Draconic Council, but failed to damage/destroy the Draakhorn or claim Skyreach Castle.

Your method of the PCs commanding a force from a flying fortress is alluring.
It will all depend on my PCs, if they will be able to fix the Ordning and secure a flying fortress from the Cloud Giants - thinking Countess Sansuri (SKT). There might be a possibility of an epic aerial battle between Skyreach and the Sansuri's fortress. Thinking airborne pirate-style boarding, ogres, griffons, giants & dragons with the Ancient Vampire Sandesyl being the climax, with a last minute plea to spare her, to help them against Severin, only to abandon them at the first opportunity.

And this awesomeness all happening in the air above caldera while forces of the Sword Coast and Tiamat battle it out below.

Sigh, I'm estimating we are about 20 sessions still away from that!

*Made-up, inspired from your posts.

In all honesty I wanted to do more of the secondary character route but the players were much less inclined... they like 5 PCs in action (or else they discovered this along the way), but they'd prefer them to be the same five guys week after week. It all started with me wanting to wring the max out of chapter 1, and get them to play all of the missions presented there, also I was cautious because I had kinda railroaded (with some player help) into making PCs that were ex-Dragon Cultists. The secondary characters were second best throughout, in truth it didn't really work for me.

Keep in mind I was levelling up the secondary characters for the entirety of HotDQ, the secondary characters (save for Hotlips) only got the odd run out- some very odd.

The five main PCs are at the recommended level here, I think- apologies, I'm going from memory- I think I may have slowed them a little (but maybe only 1 level max) because I was just fed up of having to make every enemy max HP just to offer a little bit of a challenge.

In truth, and I appreciate this isn't selling what's yet to come, I messed up the climax of this one- or else I just made it much too complex. I've not written it up from my notes yet, but I remember it being a struggle at the time to get through it. It gets good at the very end (I think, again- from memory) but before then... there's a fair amount of NPC battles that are... on reflection, not my best idea to date.

You live and you learn.

Oddly the next session features the final assassination attempt on the PCs- the attack on the Flying Ice Castle, which I quite enjoyed because the players weren't expecting it.

Thanks for your thoughts, it's great to see how other folk get through some of these mega-modules. I've just spent the last week or so (off work- holiday) thumbing my way through modules looking for a story, a scheme, an overarching plot- anything, for my VTT lockdown game- the Dark Squad.

Stay safe and well, and thanks again- very much appreciated.

Cheers goonalan
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
We D&D.
Session #64a Air Raid!

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 13
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 13
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 13
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 13
&
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 13

Secondary PCs.
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 8
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 8
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 13


This is session #64a of our game, but only session #23 of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

This isn’t the finale, because what do you know- I got them again. The Players think they’re going to be around the gaming table tonight for the first of their Strike Team attacks into the Well of Dragons, they think they’re going to be Playing their Secondary PCs (accompanied by a few new friends), well they’re not.

So, a day out of position (the Strike Team’s drop zone), with the Flying Lighthouse at full-steam-ahead and making its way over the Spine of the World mountains, the castle is attacked by a wing of Young Red Dragons- that’s right, five of ‘em. Although only three are initially in play, the (dastardly) DM has another two of the buggers in reserve.

But not for long.

The Players are therefore going to be defending the Flying Lighthouse however, not with their PCs- they’re too busy trying to stay alive, but we’ll get to this in the second half of this session. Instead the defenders are going to be the various NPCs that the PCs/Players have co-opted into staffing the walls of the Flying Lighthouse.

This then was a practice run around-the-table for the various Strike Teams that we’re going to be in action soon.

And so, the defenders of the Flying Lighthouse are-

1) Three tower top nests, as it were, of ballista firing Ogres (three Ogres atop each tower).

2) Two Copper Dragons- an Adult (named Kalaloo, known as Kal) and a Young (named Tararrdeboomdeyay, known as Tara) variant providing air support, donated by Taz the Ancient Copper Dragon.

3) Twelve Misty Forest Elven Eagle Riders (with their Giant Eagle mounts) also providing air support.

4) And lastly, twenty-five Misty Forest Elven Archers to man (sorry, Elf) the walls.

So, the Players are going to be Playing (for want of a better word) a bunch of NPCs, this news didn’t go down quite as well as I had expected. However, as I reassured the Players, this would only be for the first half of the session.

Let’s get to it…

The action starts when two of the Young Red Dragons swoop down upon the patrolling Young Copper Dragon, Tara, and almost tear the youngster apart (she’s reduced to maybe 30 HP in an instant), a moment later a third Young Red Dragon swoops down on an Elven Eagle rider (and his Giant Eagle mount) and bathes the pair in flame- they’re both destroyed.

Welcome to the fight.

52a Red Dragons Attack.jpg


And now the Players are a bit more motivated and pissed (at me, of course).

The Flying Lighthouse’s defenders swing into action, and… it’s actually not that impressive- the enemies are distant, and the wall defenders are spread out, and so at the end of the first turn of play the situation is- one of the ballista needs fixing (‘1’), one of the Young Red Dragons has taken a few arrow hits, while another has a ballista bolt stuck through one of its wings.

Then, alas Tara- the Young Copper Dragon, is ripped to shreds by its two Young Red Dragon attackers.

How’s that for motivational speeches.

Well, it worked.

Another newly arrived Young Red Dragon swoops down on the Adult Copper (Kal), and rips chunks from the great wyrm, while another Young Red Dragon manages to catch three pairs of Elven Eagle riders, and their mounts, in its breath weapon- all six defenders are incinerated.

It looks very bad, very quickly.

Several of the Players are aghast- what just happened?

Then the fifth Young Red Dragon enters the fray and incinerates a ballista and (almost) all of its Ogre crew.

It is however hit by a bolt from a different ballista, as it wings away.

There follows a very ragged cheer from the Players.

A Young Red Dragon hovers above a ballista tower and savages one of the Ogre defenders there.

A different Young Red Dragon swoops and incinerates (turns to ash) another pair of Eagle Riders and their mounts.

This is very bad.

The Ogres on the tower with the burning ballista fetch out a tub of javelins, one of the brutes manages to skewer a Young Red Dragon with a Crit.

The biggest cheer of the evening so far.

Meantime Kal, the Adult Copper Dragon gets bathed in flame, it spews a streak of scolding acid back at its attacker, the Young Red is bloodied, and screaming blue murder in an instant.

The Players are cheering again.

52b Red Dragons Attack.jpg


Then two more of the Young Red Dragons get stuck in, the first strafes one of the battlement walls and incinerates five of the Misty Forest Archers in one fiery gout, the second Red crash lands (on purpose) into a pair of Ogres atop one of the towers, and sends both large brutes crashing over the side of the Flying Lighthouse, and plunging to their deaths.

The groans around the table are getting louder.

Instantly, all of the remaining Ogres (somehow- telepathy) switch from firing their ballista to flinging their javelins, the Players keep missing with the ballistae, they need to be making more attacks.

At this point we’re thirty minutes and maybe five turns into the battle- two of the Young Red Dragons are badly wounded, two slightly injured and the last unharmed.

The defenders have lost five Misty Forest Archers, half (6) of the Eagle Riders (and mounts) and nearly half (4) of the Ogres. Oh, and the Young Copper Dragon (Tara) has been torn to pieces, while the Adult Copper (Kal) is just about bloodied.

So, overall- I’m kicking their arse with my five Reds.

The Young Red Dragons come up with a new scheme- they start to swoop up and into the Giant Eagle mounts, trying to rip the birds apart- and thus leaving their Eagle Riders to fall to their deaths.

Just plain cruel, which is why I did it.

But amidst my new found joy comes a pang of regret, the first of my Young Red Dragons falls- battling Ogres atop one of the ballista towers the terrifying wyrm is shot to pieces by a gang of Eagle Riders, it falls into the upper courtyard of the Flying Lighthouse and starts in on its death throes.

Seconds later however another Young Red Dragon spews flame on Kal, the Adult Copper, and it’s beyond bloodied.

The groaning chorus starts up again.

But not for long as Kal recharges and spews a spear of acid into its attacker- the Young Red is destroyed in an instant, also spiralling down to crash into the upper courtyard of the castle.

It’s all go however, another Young Red savages a Giant eagle and then delights in watching the former rider of the bird plummet to its death.

Meanwhile another Red spews fire on the last trio of Ogres atop a tower, destroying the ballista there and burning the Ogres badly.

Seconds later the third Red still alive spews fire and incinerates another four Misty Forest Archers.

This fight is going back and forth all of the time.

Then Kal the Adult Copper Dragon flies down from the upper section of the Flying Lighthouse and terrorises the first Young Red Dragon that he sees. The enemy Dragon is bloodied and then when it tries to flee- ripped apart (with a massive Crit).

There are only two Young Red Dragons left.

And then only one, as a massively wounded Red (on 10 HP) spirals down (away) and out of sight- never to return.

The last Red flees the scene, not badly injured, but now fleeing from the rampaging Kal- the evil wyrm grabs a Misty Forest Archer from the battlements and flings the Wood Elf over the side and to its death.

At bloody last.

The fight is over.

That was an hour of action, and eleven turns of play- a lot of theatre of the mind, I just kept on saying the Players don’t count squares just tell me what cool or dumb thing the defender is trying to do, then roll the dice and I’ll tell you how it goes.

The Players quite liked the action, but the were less happy to be playing a bunch of mostly low-level NPCs, only two of which (although very early in the action the two was reduced to one) had any cool powers- i.e. the two Copper Dragons.

It didn’t help at the start of the action that the PCs rolled a ton of dice and more or less missed every attack, also that half of the wall’s defenders were too far away from the action when the five Red Dragons first swooped in.

So, in the end- of the nine Ogres four are dead, and all those remaining are badly wounded (remarkably all five on less than 15 HP). Two of the ballistae have been destroyed.

Tara the Young Copper Dragon is dead, Kal very badly wounded (on approx. 20 HP).

Of the twelve Misty Forest Eagle Riders (and mounts) only two remain- heavy losses inflicted, while of the twenty-five Misty Forest Archers only nine survived the ordeal.

Victory, but at a cost.

More next time when we dip back in time, and the Cult of the Dragon Assassins get their chance against the PCs, this action- remember, is occurring at the same time as the Red Dragon attacks.

Now Pizza, then action. See you in a short while.
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
We D&D.

Session #64b Die Rolls.

Brothers of the First Light.
Lummins (played by Rob) Male Half-Elf Cleric of Lathander Lvl 13
Lux (played by Sandy) Female Human Warlock Lvl 13
Watt (played by Jackie) Male Human Bard Lvl 13
Sgt Bobby Markguth (played by Pete) Male Human Fighter Lvl 13
&
Hotlips Houlihan (played by Sandy) Female Halfling Rogue Lvl 13

Secondary PCs.
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 8
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 8
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 13


This is session #64 of our game, but only session #23b of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

So, while the wall defenders of the Flying Lighthouse are battling a flight of Young Red Dragons (count ‘em- five of them) the PCs are down below, in their meeting room (or so I told them) fending off assassins.

This is the Cult’s final attempt to slay the Brothers of the First Light, and so I thought I’d go all out and see what I could get done. Just for info the bad guys busting in on the PCs are two Dragonfangs and two Dragonwings lead by a Half-Red Dragon Gladiator- these guys are visible. Also present with Greater Invisibility cast on them are a Red Wizard of Thay, and a Half-Green Dragon Assassin- all enemies have MAX HP, so there should be no-excuse.

At least one PC has to end up dead, at least one…

Oh, but I’ve also got a big bad guy in reserve.

53 The Last Assassins.jpg


So, the visible assassins bust into the castle using command words/magic to get one of the external doors of the Flying Lighthouse open- and they just happen to break into the chamber in which the PCs are holding their impromptu meeting- funny that.

The (Greater) Invisible Half-Green Dragon Assassin attempts to take out Sgt Bobby with a poisoned crossbow bolt- Crit if it hits, with 7d6 sneak attack, and another 7d6 poison on the bolt, and… I miss. I roll ‘4’ & ‘5’ with advantage.

A crossbow suddenly thuds into the far wall of the ice chamber- that’s odd, but Hotlips is the only PC that even spots the attack.

The DM meantime gurns at the Players in agony...

The Halfling doesn’t have time to scream a warning (the DM insists) before the rest of the Dragon Cult attackers explode into action.

The low level mooks (Dragonfangs & Dragonwings) get into action first- Lux is sliced but the Warlock now has a big bag of temporary hit points, she’s got some new-ish power that allows her to cast False Life every day.

Watt loses maybe a quarter of his hit points as one of the Dragonfangs hurls an acid flavoured Orb of Dragon’s Breath into the Bard- not nice, it burns us!

The other two mook attackers- both with advantage and with both having multiple attacks, contrive to miss their targets. Keep in mind Lux, Watt & Hotlips are all AC 16, the other two PCs are at least one point better off (I think), but… screw my dice.

Hotlips is not surprised by the attack (all of the other PCs are) and so she gets into action next- she shoots (assassination attempt) the Half-Red Dragon Gladiator (who is, of course, yet to act) and almost bloodies it in an instant (50+ damage).

There is pre/semi-whooping around the table.

You know how I feel about whooping.

Oh, and by the way the Players quickly figure out that this is yet another Cult assassination attempt.

Next up, the (Greater) Invisible Red Wizard launches a Cone of Cold into the densest clutch of PCs (that’s all of them, I think). However between Hotlips’ Evasion, Sgt B’s Ring of Cold Resistance et al, really it’s only Lummins that suffers terribly, the High Priest of Lathander is bloodied in a frozen instant, the only PC to fail his save.

The whooping around the table is mostly silenced.

The Half-Red Dragon Gladiator gets to work on Sgt B, and misses all of its attacks (all with advantage)- Sgt B is AC 19.

That’s the surprise round over, and quite frankly- it didn’t go half as well as I expected. It was a good plan I had, but the dice done gone and broke it.

It gets worse- Lux (played by Sandy) scratching around for something else to do, and made cognisant of the fact that there is definitely a (Greater) Invisible Cult Wizard around… drops a Hunger of Hadar onto the largest portion of bad guys.

I hate that spell.

Just for info I/we have a house rule- anyone inside the horrible sphere of the spell must make a DC 10 Int/Wis (or similar) check (as an action) to discern the way out, a success is followed by a move to escape the freezing dark (and acid) sphere of hate. Fail to make the check and the individual moves one square in a random direction and remains within the darkness- and suffers some more. Unless, of course, the random move takes them out of the spell’s compass.

Well, form a queue because both Dragonwings, both Dragonfangs, the Red Wizard, and the Assassin are all caught within Lux’s Hunger of Hadar spell.

Gah!

Obviously all six enemies spend their next turn trying to escape the inky cold, however at the end of the turn one of the Dragonfangs, and (how did this happen) the Red Wizard are still stuck inside the hellish summoning. The Red Wizard also fails a concentration check and so loses his Greater Invisibility.

Meantime Sgt B is stabbed repeatedly by an escaping Dragonfang, while Hotlips turns the tables and does the same to the Half-Red Dragon Gladiator, the growling menace (after another 50+ damage roll, a Crit with sneak attack followed by another Crit for her off-hand dagger) is now very almost broken.

So soon? Say it ain’t so… but, it’s happening again.

A second later Sgt B gets his Second Wind and then puts the Half-Red Dragon down with Hazirawn, the first enemy to fall.

Followed swiftly by the second, Sgt B Crits (and then hits again) an already injured Dragonfang with Hazirawn, and it too expires.

Watt meantime conjures Mordenkainen’s Sword and slashes horribly (after a miss/Inspiration Point) one of the Dragonwings.

Paving the way for me to launch my still not spotted (Greater Invis) Half-Green Dragon Assassin at the unaware Bard, and I… miss, again- and with advantage (of course), and with both attacks.

Oh, and it’s about this time- when I’m asking Watt (Jackie) what his AC is, that the Players also figure out that there’s another invisible enemy somewhere outside of the Hunger of Hadar.

Just out of interest, how many of you would have fudged that roll- made a miss into a hit, I’ve had the assassin in position to deliver at least 14d6 damage (sneak & poison) plus weapon damage, twice now- and missed with three attacks. Would you have fudged the roll? I really wanted to, but I didn’t…

Lummins gets in position and conjures his Spirit Guardians, he figures the spirits will start beating on any invisible foes.

Lux likewise manoeuvres to gets some space to work her magic (and gets slashed by a Dragonwing doing so) she then starts up with her Eldritch Blasts. It goes Crit- hit- Crit and a Dragonwing is blown to pieces.

This is going doing down the tubes very rapidly.

Watt repositions, and I get yet another attack (of opportunity) on the Bard with my Greater Invis Assassin- I roll a ‘2’ and a ‘4’.

I should just give up now.

The Players are not quite sure what’s going on behind the DMs screen but they’re certain I’m not happy- the swearing and throwing of dice (away) is a bit of a give-away.

Note the Dragonfang and the Red Wizard are both still caught within Lux’s Hunger of Hadar spell, they both fail to escape again- DC 10!

For heaven sake- now I know why the Empire didn’t win in Star Wars- broken bloody dice.

But hey-ho, I still have half a chance here, you’ll see.

A Dragonfang climbs up into Sgt B’s grill and slices the Fighter twice more- he’s bloodied (as is Lummins atm). Hotlips skewers Sgt B’s attacker (with added sneak attack, of course), while the big feller swings his nasty sword (Hazirawn) and (f-me) Crits again, and then with an Action Surge hits some more. The Dragonfang is just about broken.

Then, at bloody last, my Half-Green Dragon Assassin manages to stab Watt in the back, and then rolls mostly low for his collective 14d6+ damage, although its enough to leave the Bard bloodied and way beyond (down to around 20 HP).

Ha! No cheering now is there.

Watt casts a Mass Cure Wounds, buoying himself and his colleagues, and then starts shouting about the fact that there is an invisible assassin right behind him.

Lummins has had enough of Lux's Hunger of Hadar (he's the plus one for the Dawn Lord, remember), and being unsure of who or what is attacking the Brothers of the First Light, he launches a Radiance of the Dawn and burns all the enemies close by- and all of the bad guy’s fail their saves- and he rolls massively high on his damage (29 radiant each).

Oh yeah, it was bound to happen.

Bound to- the Players dice are on fire.

The Hunger of Hadar is gone…

So, just to recap- standing a little away from the PCs (formerly in the Hunger of Hadar) are the Red Wizard and a Dragonfang, fighting the PCs is a second Dragonfang- while hovering around the edges is the still (Greater) Invis Half-Green Dragon Assassin. All of the enemies are bloodied, one of the Dragonfangs is on 3 HP only. The PCs are all just about bloodied, or thereabouts.

Lux fires off another salvo of Eldritch Blasts, the first attack accounts for the badly wounded Dragonfang, the second and third force damage missiles are fired at the (Greater) Invis Half-Green Dragon Assassin, or else into the square directly behind Watt.

Which is exactly where the Assassin is standing, still- Lux has to hit… a Crit, of course- silly me, and her third missile, well- that hits too, and now the Assassin is dead.

I’m going home.

I’m not playing this stupid game anymore.

Or else…

At that exact moment, when the scumbag PCs/Players (you decide) are whooping and doing their, quite frankly, childish dances, I drop a Max HP (about 300 HP, because you asked nicely) Adult Black Dragon onto the ice ledge, and then shoot a jet of scorching scalding acid into the PCs.

54 Here's the Dragon.jpg


Because I can.

I am the DM.

Hear me roar!

As opposed to RAW.

Sounds great doesn’t it, except that the only two PCs I can get in a row are Hotlips (Evasion and successful save = 0 damage) and Lux, who fails the save big time and is just about bloodied.

So, big entrance- lots of terror from the Players, but then not much change with the Brothers of the First Light’s health.

Bugger!

But I have a Dragon now…

Sgt Bobby, ignores/avoids the newly arrived Dragon and chases down the newly revealed and badly wounded Red Wizard of Thay- not even a Shield spell can save my guy, particularly as the Fighter hits and then Crits again- the Red Wizard falls.

The last Dragonfang stays back and keeps throwing Orbs of Dragon’s Breath into the mix, I’ll tell you when he hits.

Spolier- he doesn’t.

For good measure, after slaughtering the Wizard, Sgt Bobby moves over and slices the Black Dragon- which attempts to slam its tail into the big feller… and misses.

Hotlips follows the Fighter in, manoeuvring under and around the Dragon, the Halfling stabs the beast good (after spending an Inspiration Point for a miss).

Watt grabs his bow out and fires an Arrow of Dragon Slaying (after an Inspiration Point miss, also) into the beast, and then on 6d10 damage rolls 50+, well… that’s great.

Lummins meantime dumps another Mass Cure Sounds (and heals all of his colleagues for 29 HP each, that’s on 3d8+5, you figure it out)

What did I do wrong in a previous life?

At this point with a huge dragon clawing at their PCs, the Players are laughing like drains- Rob has tears in his eyes, some of this in reaction to his last roll- ‘8’, ‘8’, ‘8’; but mostly in reaction to my face/swearing/anguish/despair/disbelief- call it what you like. I’m still coming to terms with it.

Lux fires off another trio of Eldritch Blasts, the first of which hurts the last remaining Dragonfang, and with the ten foot shove component of the spell, sends the poor feller plummeting off the edge of the ice ledge (don’t worry he’s coming back). The other two Blasts are for the Dragon, which is also being menaced (and hurt) by Lummins’ Spirit Guardians.

The Black Dragon roars and unleashes its Frightening Presence, alas only Watt fails his save, the other members of the Brothers barely miss a beat.

The Dragon however goes Bite/Claw/Claw and Hotlips is suddenly a bloody mess (the Bite was a Crit) and in trouble, down to approx. 15 HP, even after a bit of Uncanny Dodge.

Then the Dragonfang with its limited Fly ability makes it back to the ice ledge and flings an acid Orb of Dragon Breath in Sgt B’s face (and another Crit- go me, for 49 acid damage).

Not so very cheery now are we?

But not for long- Sgt B lays into the Dragon again with Hazirawn, and a Crit, followed by a hit, and… (f-me, again) another Crit.

I think that’s Sgt B’s fifth Crit this evening (oddly they’ve all been ‘19’s).

My Dragon is bloodied and worse.

Then Hotlips sneak attack stabs it too, and the Dragon’s now well below 100 HP.

Note the Dragon is using all of its Legendary Actions between the above attacks, but is mostly missing.

Oh, and the Frightened Watt is soon after no-longer Frightened, and his Cure Mass Wounds recharges all of the PCs (another 25 HP back each).

Lummins piles on the pain with a Flame Strike (the Dragon saves thanks to its Legendary Resistance) but the Dragonfang is down to something like 6 HP and a mewling wreck.

Lux’s first Eldritch Blast ends the Dragonfang, her second and third smash into the Dragon, which spreads it wings and leaps into the air, and in the process flattens Lummins and Hotlips (knocks the pair prone).

It then gets the hell out of dodge, dropping beneath the Flying Lighthouse and immediately out of sight.

But that’s not enough it seems- Lux fires a Fly spells into herself, Sgt B and Watt (he’s great with the bow), the trio go after the Adult Black Dragon, you read that right- they chase it.

There follows a short theatre of the mind style chase sequence culminating, thanks mostly only to a ‘20’ with the Dragon escaping into dense cloud…

The Dragon was on 5 HP when it finally got away.

It was a great fight in truth, although perhaps only for the PCs, I could sit here and tell you that it was my dice what lost it for me, but I didn’t even get close to putting one of the PCs down, not really…

I could have picked a better location for the fracas, and spread my bad guys about a bit… but the door into the side of the Flying Lighthouse seemed to be the logical explanation, the most believable at least. Landing in the lower/upper courtyard was fraught with danger, and would have left my bad guys subject to many more NPC attacks. Likewise teleporting the bad guys in, well… I’ve done that already… so, this was my choice.

It certainly didn’t help missing three times with my Greater Invisible Half-Green Dragon Assassin, and then getting my Red Wizard (and all the others) caught in Lux’s Hunger of Hadar spell.

Still, the Players absolutely loved it- mainly because they butchered my guys, and that was a CR 20 encounter there (which, I mistakenly told the Players), admittedly it was a staggered- the Dragon didn’t arrive until the first batch of enemies was well and truly broken.

Gah!

Players!

Next time, well… I’ll kill some NPCs/Secondary PCs instead.
 


Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
We D&D.

Session #65a The Attack on the Well of Dragons

Brothers of the First Light including secondary characters
& Special Guest PCs (you’ll see)
& Player NPCs (you’ll see)
& Others (guess what- you’ll see)


This is session #65a of our game, but only session #24a of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

Actually this isn’t a session at all, this is me explaining to you what comes next, here goes- it’s a bit of a mess- not much of one you understand, not unravelable, just… it’s going to take a little time to fathom the best way to present what follows.

Let me try to explain (some more), the next action in this scenario is the various activities of the six strike teams (numbered 1-6) as they each pick an entrance into the Well of Dragons, and then attempt to fight their way through a swathe (or more) of Dragon Cultists (and friends) to the Temple of Tiamat at the centre of the complex. Hoping, some of them, to arrive in time for the finale of the piece.

The strike teams are-

Strike Team 1= Brothers of the First Light secondary characters (Derek Pilch, Hard Bonk & Sgt Harald Hardaxe) and some other guys made available to the Players after their successes in the Council of Waterdeep meetings.

Strike Team 2= A bunch of guys made available to the Players after their successes in the Council of Waterdeep meetings, led by a Purple Dragon Knight Paladin Commander played by Jackie.

Strike Team 3= A bunch of guys made available to the Players after their successes in the Council of Waterdeep meetings, led by an Emerald Enclave Barbarian played by Pete.

Strike Team 4= A bunch of guys made available to the Players after their successes in the Council of Waterdeep meetings, led by a Dwarven Priest of Moradin sent from Mirabar, and played by Rob.

Strike Team 5= A bunch of guys made available to the Players after their successes in the Council of Waterdeep meetings, led by a Sorcerer Hero of Waterdeep played by Sandy.

Strike Team 6= The original and best Brothers of the First Light- Sgt Bobby Markguth, Lux, Lummins, Watt & Hotlips Houlihan, accompanied by a few others (as above).

So, in reality two strike teams worth of PCs- the Brothers of the First Light and the secondary characters, and one strike team for each Player staffed by folk provided by the various factions on the Council of Waterdeep, that’s another four, which equals six in total.

Just to reiterate, each strike team has eight members, if one member of the team dies then there’s a list of other NPCs that are available, a die is rolled and the new member of the team arrives on the next turn. The list of extra NPCs is finite- drawn from NPCs provided by the various Council of Waterdeep factions. It’s also worth noting that the list of extras is arranged in CR order, lowest CR first. So, it’s likely (very likely) that new replacements are going to be low CR, and very quickly out of their depth.

What a shame.

The Players were not aware of this until it happened, as I say- shame about that.

The Harpers have provided a little info to the strike teams, basically the fact that each entrance to the Well of Dragons is guarded by a bunch of Dragon Cultists situated in a hastily made defensive blockade. What lies beyond this is unknown, but fear the worse and do it anyway.

This isn’t adventuring, this is a battle- this is war.

Real world 70-80% of the stuff that follows was played out on Fantasy Grounds, and because the action is just a series of fights then… well, all I’m working from here is the FG Chatlog, the problem being we played these fights in no particular order, just as and when the players were available.

So, there’s a bit to sort through- far more than I expected (in truth) but memory is a terrible thing, I’d forgotten how messy several hundred pages of Chatlog can get, particularly when on occasions I would run a fight/session with, for example- Jackie’s Strike Team, and as soon as that’s done switch to a session with Pete’s Strike Team. I should have thought to switch FG off and on again between these events, or else marked it somehow. Also the FG Chatlog is all well and good, but it’s only a bunch of numbers, I should have made more notes (in FG). But, I didn’t, and so…

There’s going to be a pause in the telling of this tale for a while, maybe. I just need to make more sense of what I’m seeing so far, and then to get some writing done. Or else there could be odd pauses here, I’ll post what I can, when I can- I appreciate that sounds obvious but I’d rather let you know now, just in case nothing appears here for a couple of weeks.

I could, of course, just provide a summary of the action, but… that’s not really my style. I figure I’m going nowhere, and I have all I need to get it done, and more importantly the inclination to do so- it might just take a little while.

So, there’ll be a bit more explanation in the write ups that follow, so you can make sense of it all- I’ll add a few pictures in to explain further, it’s not too complicated- just a lot of different PCs/NPCs and stuff going on (by which I mean mostly fighting Cultists and their pals, and sometimes getting killed).

You’ll see, promise.

I will however post an update when I get the next bit untaffled, it could go really smoothly, or else there could be an update and then an extended break. I’m on it, just on the back foot atm.

Stay safe and well.

Cheers goonalan.
 

Goonalan

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Supporter
We D&D.

Session #65b Strike Team 1 Part 1 Into the Well of Dragons

Brothers of the First Light B Team
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 13
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 13
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 13

& Special Guest PC
Ontharr Frume (played by Sandy) Male Mountain Dwarf Order of the Gauntlet leader and Paladin of Moradin Lvl 10

& Player NPCs
Wizard Nora (played by Pete) Female Human Harper Mage
Mongo (played by Sandy) Male Human Flaming Fist Mercenary Veteran
Gargomel (played by Rob) Male Hill Dwarf Order of the Gauntlet Priest
Lady Love (played by Jackie) Female Half-Elven Knight of Silverymoon.


This is session #65b of our game, but only session #24b of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

This is the B Team in action, the Player’s secondary characters, except of course for Hotlips (played by Sandy) who is part of the A Team. Note all of the secondary characters are now level 13, any other Special Guests have been made by the Player in FG- and are level 10.

55 Secondary Team Image #01.jpg

The gang's all here...

This is strike team number one.

The Player NPCs are statted as per the book, with a few considerations (but not many) for either Race, or else the particular Player’s peccadillos.

Note the Players obviously named their new NPCs, it’s not my doing, so don’t blame me.

This then is the attack on the Well of Dragons, one strike team is going to enter each of the different ways into the volcano complex, and attempt to fight their way through to the Temple of Tiamat in the middle (although, keep in mind they don’t much know where they’re heading- only in).

55a The Big Map.jpg

Strike Team #1 are heading in here.

Each of the entrances to the Well of Dragons is defended by an array of Cult of the Dragon guards, this entrance (1a) is staffed by one Dragonfang, six Dragonwings, 12 Dragonclaws & four Guard Drakes. Likewise each entrance contains a fortress structure- very similar to the one in the image a little below.*

*Very similar, as in exactly the same, a lot of what follows (and there’s a lot of it) was played out on Fantasy Grounds. Although some of the action also took place around the table in the real (but not a lot).

The Brothers of the First Light et al have got great intel, this thanks to the PCs high scores in the Council of Waterdeep elements (see previous) of the adventure. Therefore the strike teams have been informed of what lies ahead- they know what to expect i.e. the size and shape of the defensive structure, and a rough estimate of the type and number of defenders therein.

Note they have no idea of what lies beyond the fortresses at the entrance.

This info is enhanced a little (a lot) by Derek Pilch the Druid (played by Jackie), who Wildshapes into a bat and goes for a flutter about a bit, sticking close to the mostly high ceilings of the cavern tunnels. We’ll get to what else Derek learns a little later.

But for now, kick ass begins with the first gate.

Just to note Derek is also Stoneskin enhanced atm, the rest of the gang- when they get close enough to Ontharr Frume, also do a little extra radiant damage when they hit (in melee) thanks to the Paladin’s Crusader’s Mantle.

56 North Enemies #01 vs Secondary Team.jpg

The Dragon Cultists await...

It starts with Wizard Nora Fireballing the front gate, which helpfully destroys the offending portals in an instant. Note, this act will be repeated at the start of each of these strike team attacks (or something similar), also all of the attacks are happening simultaneously.

Alas several of the enemies are also caught in the Fireball blast, the two nearest Dragonclaws are incinerated in an instant, and then the charging, shrieking good guys flood in, the attack on the Cult of the Dragon has begun.

Lady Love is first to the charge, the Silverymoon Knight cuts another Dragonclaw in twain (that’s olde worlde for ‘in two’) with her greatsword, while the steadfast Derek Pilch strides forward and Thorn Whips yet another Dragonclaw dead (with a Crit, Jackie is really starting to like her Druid).

Gargomel, the Order of the Gauntlet Dwarven Priest of Moradin, accompanies Derek into the thick of the action, and then summons his Spirit Guardians to the attack- the spectral Dwarven souls, armed with ghostly hammers and axes, start to take their toll on the Dragon Cultists.

Note this spell- Spirit Guardians, is probably the most effective in this encounter- doing a chunk full of damage every turn.

Lady Love is sliced repeatedly by flailing scimitars wielded by a pair of Dragonclaws that are trying to shut the Knight down.

One of the Guard Drakes gets to Derek and starts chewing on the Druid’s leg, his Stoneshield however protects him, at least long enough for the Dwarven Spirit Guardians to slaughter the already badly burnt and heavily wounded beast.

Meantime Sgt Harald smashes another Dragonclaw down.

Just for info at this point the PCs are pushing their way in to the hastily constructed, and now smouldering in places, fortress. The Dragon Cultists and their Drakes are trying to drive the PCs back out the way they came. The melee is mostly a scrum of bodies, stuck in the choke point just inside the gates.

Hard Bonk slices a Dragonclaw with his magical shortsword, and then goes chop-socky crazy and beats the foe down dead.

The Monk takes a moment and spots a high ranking Dragon Cultist giving orders on the battlement ten feet above where he stands.

Seconds later the Half-Orc is atop the battlements and punching the fortress commander (the Dragonfang) in the mouth with a Stunning Strike, but the Cultist resists, and then with a sneer screams for reinforcements.

Rob (playing Hard Bonk) suddenly realises that he’s on his own, and there are more enemies closing, he may have to hang on for a while until the cavalry arrives- very prescient.

The Players are loving this by the way, the males of species- Pete and Rob because they seem to relish combat more than anything. While Jackie and Sandy are just enjoying the fact that they’re playing more melee (toe-to-toe) orientated characters for a change- “it’s so liberating, you don’t have to think about anything much.” Sandy’s summary of the situation is readily acknowledged by a gleefully nodding and grinning Pete.

Wizard Nora (in the rear, played by Pete) finds a little high ground to work from and then throws another Fireball into the mix, the fiery conflagration accounts for another of the slavering Guard Drakes, but also wounds another half-a-dozen more Cultists.

The bad guys are however fanatics for the cause, and not for surrendering- they surge forward, and not back.

Derek Pilch however has a better idea, the Druid Entangles four of the Cultists, and the Brothers of the First Light (et al) move forward, and in- they suddenly have a little bit of space to work their magic and fury.

Meantime, on the battlements Hard Bonk’s chickens have well and truly come home to roost, the Monk is surrounded- slashed repeatedly by the scimitars of a pair of Dragonwings, and then twice more (for a horrendous amount of damage in total) by the Dragonfang. Hard Bonk is bloodied in an instant (actually down from approx. 100 HP to 30 HP), and left crying out for help (so much for his stoic Kane/Kung-Fu image).

Sgt Harald to the rescue, the Dwarf rushes through the Cultist’s front line (taking AoO’s as he goes- all misses, he’s AC 20-something) all the way (after an Inspiration Point to Move again) to Hard Bonk’s side. The Dwarf Fighter starts wailing on the enemies massing on the Monk and immediately takes a newly arrived Dragonclaw down.

Hard Bonk feels the love (from Sgt Harald) and gets his arse in gear, the Monk cuts down one of the already wounded Dragonwings beating on him.

Meantime several of the Entangled Cultists are alas Restrained within the compass of Gargomel’s Spirit Guardians- they’re made to suffer, big time.

Ontharr Frume, back in the front line (oxymoron), starts work on the Guard Drake’s (there are still two of them left) liberally making use of his Divine Smite.

Another Dragonwing falls victim to Gargomel’s Spirit Guardians, the spectral Dwarven slayers have inflicted a metric ton of hurt- just great in close quarters. Seconds later the Guard Drake Ontharr is presently wailing on also succumbs to the ghostly Dwarven spirits.

Just one of them left.

Lady Love meanwhile cuts down yet another Dragonclaw.

Note- it’s only when I get a bunch of Cultists at a single PC/NPC that I can get the hits in (thanks to Pack Attack, and the extra damage the Cultists get for Fanatic Advantage).

Gargomel continues concentrating on his Spirit Guardians, for something to do he also takes his battleaxe to an Entangled Dragonwing and beats the poor, already badly wounded, bastard to death. However the Dwarven Priest of Moradin doesn’t have things all his own way- another pair of Dragonclaws get to him and take turns to slash the Dwarf horribly- he too is bloodied and beyond (down to 10 HP or so).

Back on the battlement and Hard Bonk has more company, and the Half-Orc Monk is taking hits again, and soon after down to less than 10 HP. Rob (playing the Monk) is really starting to worry.

Sgt Harald goes all out to help the Monk, his magical battleaxe striking repeatedly, and yet the Dragonwings (and Fang) are soaking up the hurt.

The Monk however cannot last- he expends all of his Wholeness of Body healing, which gets him back up to just about bloodied. Then follows up with a Flurry of Blows and takes down another badly wounded Dragonwing.

The enemies are almost/mostly broken, but still rallying around their Dragonfang commander.

Ontharr Frume is next up on to the battlements, more Divine Smite follows- and now the Dragonfang is taking a beating, and soon after it too is bloodied and beyond.

Lady Love, Knight of Silverymoon- at last, accounts for the second Dragonclaw that was threatening her, and blocking her progress into the fortress- freed up she rushes in.

Mongo, who I’ve not mentioned so far, keeps on swinging and keeps on hitting- the Flaming Fist Mercenary Veteran however has not accounted for a single enemy so far, there’s always someone else around to steel his kills.

Gargomel, the Priest of Moradin with his battleaxe, takes down the Guard Drake Mongo has just beaten to a bloody pulp (almost)- and now that’s all of the Drake’s dead.

Sgt Harald Hardaxe goes the Dwarf version of ape crazy on the Dragonfang- it goes, Crit, hit, Crit- and the Cult bastard is dead.

There is cheering, you know how I feel about bloody cheering.

Suddenly the Dragon Cultists are looking very thin on the ground, but not retreating- this is to the death, these are the fanatics.

Two more Dragonclaws fall- the last two, and suddenly there’s only one Dragonwing left in the brawl.

Hard Bonk meantime smashes up, but not down, the last standing Dragonwing- Wizard Nora, now looking to preserve her spells, hits the Cultist with a Fire Bolt, while Derek Pilch ends its life with a stinking Poison Spray.

That took just six turns to get through, but over and hour-and-a-half to play out on FG, the joys of mass combat, get used to it there’s a lot more of this to come.

Note the rule here is that any PC/NPC automatically recovers 50% of lost hit points for free (its assumed they’re using potions and scrolls et al provided for each strike team). Any further healing required must come from the PCs/NPCs own resources.

And so Strike Team 1 rumbles on, and further in to the complex- along broad cavern passages, the main thoroughfare lit by torches spaced at regular intervals. On into the lair Naergoth Bladelord (the PCs, of course, don't know this), and his assorted undead servitors, but that’s for… well, sometime after- we’ll get to it.

See you in a bit.

Stay safe.

Cheers goonalan
 

Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
We D&D.

Session #65c Strike Team 1 Part 2 A Shit-Ton of Undead

Brothers of the First Light B Team
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 13
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 13
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 13

& Special Guest PC
Ontharr Frume (played by Sandy) Male Mountain Dwarf Order of the Gauntlet leader and Paladin of Moradin Lvl 10

& Player NPCs
Wizard Nora (played by Pete) Female Human Harper Mage
Mongo (played by Sandy) Male Human Flaming Fist Mercenary Veteran
Gargomel (played by Rob) Male Hill Dwarf Order of the Gauntlet Priest
Lady Love (played by Jackie) Female Half-Elven Knight of Silverymoon.


This is session #65c of our game, but only session #25c of The Rise of Tiamat scenario.

This is the B Team back in action, the Player’s secondary characters, except of course for Hotlips (played by Sandy) who is part of the A Team. Note all of the secondary characters are now level 13, any other Special Guests have been made by the Player in FG- and are level 10.

The Player NPCs are statted as per the book, with a few considerations (but not many) for either Race, or else the particular Player’s peccadillos.

Note the Players obviously named their new NPCs, it’s not my doing, so don’t blame me.

Strike team 1 has fought its way through the initial Dragon Cultist encounter, at the entrance to the tunnel they’re following- which hopefully leads to the Temple of Tiamat, and the big shebang finale.

Note Derek Pilch has been scouting, in bat form, and knows (a little) of what lies ahead. The Druid’s Wildshape reconnaissance has revealed to him a series of caves leading to a small ancient temple (maybe) chamber- the tunnels here are choked with undead. In point of fact all Derek has seen here are the shuffling zombies (although there are plenty of them) and a few higher level undead foes massed in the temple area. I didn’t allow the Druid/Bat to see the full army roster for the encounter that awaits the Strike Team, that would spoil the surprise.

Strike Team 1, head further into the tunnels, following the broadest (and well lit) passage, and suddenly the advance party spot a clutch of Skeletons ahead.

Note this encounter starts out with twelve Skeletons, divided into two equal groups, each led by a Minotaur Skeleton- one group to attack the front of the PC/NPC column, the other to attack the rear.

57 Undead A vs Secondary Team.jpg

Skeletons!

Mongo, the Flaming Fist Mercenary Veteran, is the first to spot the foes- he dashes forward and cuts the nearest Skeleton to pieces, and then begins shouting to his comrades as there are more undead closing fast- including a Minotaur Skeleton.

Ontharr Frume fires up his Crusader’s Mantle, a little extra radiant damage should serve his comrades well.

The happy-go-lucky (sorta) Paladin gets the smile wiped off his face when charging around the corner (and then into him- horns first) comes the aforementioned Minotaur Skeleton, and that’s a Crit for just short of 30 damage. The sturdy Dwarf however stays on his feet, and then starts screaming for help.

Several more Skeletons surge forward and move to surround Ontharr and Mongo, the latter is now also taking hits.

Hard Bonk, with incredible speed is quickly to the forefront, his Flurry of Blows enhanced chop-socky madness accounts for three more Skeletons with his bludgeoning fists and feet.

Mongo, however, is still taking hits.

At which point the second group of Skeletons make themselves known by charging into the rear of the good guys.

Remarkably half-a-dozen attacks and not a single hit from my bad guys- sucks to be them, particularly when Sgt Harald grabs out his warhammer and smashes another three of the bony bastards down.

This is happening quickly, time to get my staggering Zombies into action.

Derek Pilch is still in battlefield control mode, and what better than a little bit of Entangle, suddenly grasping plants sprout from the dirt of the cavern passage and clutch at a trio of Skeletons, including one of the Minotaur’s. What’s more, this tactic has also mostly blocked the passage of my staggering horde of approaching Zombies.

Bugger!

Spying the undead pile on Gargomel, the Dwarven Priest of Moradin, summons another swirl of Spirit Guardians, and then heads forward to get as close as he can to the undead horde.

Too close, a Skeleton breaks through and slices the Priest (with a Crit), and Gargomel is back to being bloodied.

Wizard Nora, Harper Mage- right at the back of the pack is also overrun, she therefore Misty Steps away from the Skeletons that were surrounding her.

Gargomel meantime grabs out his battleaxe and Crits, and then hits, the Skeleton Minotaur that is facing him, the undead creature is almost spent, and seconds later it’s broken- as Hard Bonk gets in a few more devastating blows.

Over the course of the next ten or so seconds five more Skeletons also succumb to Gargomel’s Spirit Guardians, the Dwarven Priest of Moradin is manoeuvring nicely in order to have the most effect with his undead trashing spell.

Wizard Nora does little more than mark a Minotaur Skeleton with her Fire Bolt, while Lady Love- Knight of Silverymoon, continues missing, she’s not rolled anything above a ‘5’ so far.

At which point the staggering horde of Zombies officially become the front line.

58 Undead B vs Secondary Team.jpg

Bring on the Zombies!

Note, the PCs can see another dozen Zombies closing in, what they don’t see (at first) are the pair of Ogre Zombies that about to attack them from either side… and the Beholder Zombie that is chugging contentedly towards their rear.

Mongo, still at the front of the pack- and still hitting all the while, starts shouting loudly as the flood of shambling dead flesh slowly but inexorably shuffles forwards.

The order is, as given by Derek Pilch- the Druid seems to have taken command, the strike team need to dispose of the (two) remaining Skeletons quickly, and then get back into the main passage to defend the squishier folk from the approaching Zombie horde.

Ontharr Frume (unused to taking orders, and Played by Sandy, and so doubly so) gets on it. The Paladin of Moradin applies a chunk of Divine Smite and smashes the last Skeleton Minotaur down, and then rushes over and repeats the trick for the last Skeleton still standing (but without the Smite).

Hard Bonk decides to play the hero, the Half-Orc Monk rushes into the thickest scrum of the approaching Zombie horde, the chop-socky specialist is seconds later completely surrounded, although he does manage to smash one of the shambling undead down. He assumes his Patient Defence stance (Dodge) and over the course of the next ten or so seconds avoids all of the Zombie’s flailing attacks.

The Monk’s heroism gives the rest of the strike team the time they need to manoeuvre and to get themselves positioned for the approaching fracas, the Monk smashes another Zombie down- the plan is working well, and then brilliantly as Derek Entangles the knot of shambling undead (and also Hard Bonk, briefly).

The passage ahead is effectively plugged, the Zombies cannot progress through the Entangle zone, and the pack of grasped undead there.

Nine targets for Derek’s Entangle spell- eight Zombies and Hard Bonk- they all failed their saves.

Great work.

Made even better again when Gargomel plods forward and sets his Spirit Guardians on the trapped and Restrained undead foes, Wizard Nora uses the opportunity to get a little target practice with her Fire Bolt, Lady Love joins in with her crossbow- and yet another Zombie falls.

Mongo dashes in and cuts another Entangled Zombie down, the Players are kicking back and taking it easy- I should probably do something about that.

Ontharr Frume even has time to Lay on Hands and heal some of his wounds.

Seconds later Hard Bonk escapes the Entangling plants and then punches and kicks a hole in the undead scrum that surrounds him- killing another Zombie in the process, he tumbles out of the Zombie pile up- grinning.

And then another Zombie falls to Gargomel’s ghostly avengers.

There is cheering around the gaming table- this is a cake-walk.

That is until the first Ogre Zombie lurches out of a side passage and flails wildly at Sgt Harald, the Dwarf however is unphased, the sequence is hit, Crit, hit- and the monstrous Zombie is left staggering.

Hard Bonk takes a blow to the head from a flailing Zombie, as he’s delivering yet another beating- I mention this because it’s the first time that I have managed to land a hit for an absolute age.

Then however Derek Pilch starts shouting, this as the second Ogre Zombie looms into view- the strike team scurry to reposition.

But still they have things in hand- the Entangled Zombies ahead are being handled easily by Hard Bonk and Lady Love, the rest of the warriors are facing off against the Ogre Zombies- with the squishier members of group protected in the centre. Note Gargomel with his Spirit Guardians is repositioning himself each turn so that he can encompass the maximum number of the undead in his terrifying spell.

All is well with the world…

At which point Ontharr Frume, fighting one of the Ogre Zombies, spots the approach of the Beholder Zombie. The Dwarf Paladin of Moradin cuts down the large undead foe before him, and then with an Inspiration Point races towards the undead monstrosity, making threats as he goes- his Vow of Enmity.

Note in the tight passages here the Beholder Zombie is struggling to get aloft, making it much easier to hit. They like killing stuff it seems, and I’m happy (at times) to be the enabler.

Hard Bonk meantime keeps smashing Zombies down, he manages to take three badly wounded enemies to the floor in one extreme chop-socky turn.

The Half-Orc gets punched again by a flailing Zombie, again- I just thought I’d mention it- it doesn’t happen often.

All is still well with the world…

Then Ontharr gets hit by the Zombie Beholder’s Disintegrate Ray, and he’s back to bloodied in an instant, but thank Moradin the Dwarf still exists.

The strike team, and the Players start screaming and shouting- good, that’s how I like it.

Sgt Harald rushes to Ontharr’s side and starts wailing on the Zombie Beholder with his magical battleaxe, while Derek Pilch gets to Ontharr with a Haste spell.

The last Ogre Zombie standing is still taking a beating, however the brute strikes back and smashes its massive morningstar into Mongo- that hurt. The Flaming Fist Veteran has the last laugh- he cuts the undead down and then rushes over to help Hard Bonk out, seconds later another Zombie falls to his blades.

Of the twelve (normal) Zombies that started the encounter there are only two left- and the Zombie Beholder of course.

But that doesn’t last long, not long at all.

A Hasted Ontharr Frume (10th Level Paladin) with Divine Smite attached to every attack goes bonkers on the already wounded Zombie Beholder, it’s destroyed- taken down in two turns. Players, gah! Ontharr dishes up 98 damage in just three attacks.

Note the passages here are only fifteen or so feet high, and the Zombie Beholder is not exactly the most dextrous/agile/clever of enemies- also, I didn’t want to make it too hard for the Players.

Seconds later Hard Bonk smashes the last two Zombies down, and the way ahead is clear, there’s no time like the present. Derek, earlier- when he was in Bat form and scouting, spotted more (higher level, possibly) undead in a temple/catacombs area ahead. The strike team have a bunch of spells and buffs timing down- therefore they rush on into the next fight.

Actually, it’s the same fight- if the PCs had not rushed ahead I would have brought the bad guys out to greet them.

59 Undead C vs Secondary Team.jpg

Naergoth Bladelord!

The place is a ruined catacomb like temple, rededicated (possibly) to some dark god (Tiamat, remember), present are a trio of undead (identified as Wights). I have a speech prepared for Naergoth Bladelord- a premium (bad bastard) Wight with max HP- that’s 198, I was going to make a few threats, develop the story a little “you’re too late… even as etc.”, but… the strike team just rushes in and starts hacking my bad guys to pieces, they are disinclined to listen to anything that Naergoth (or the DM) has to tell them.

Just for info there are ambushers here again, two groups- four Ghouls and a Ghast in each, waiting to get into the action, also there are another two Ghasts hidden in the two western sarcophagi.

Note Naergoth is CR 11, and this is still the same encounter, so the PCs have not had a chance to heal, only a few running repairs.

Although. They possibly could have, however with various powers about to expire they decided just to rush on in.

Mongo, is- as always, the front line- the Flaming Fist Vet races to the nearest Wight and starts slicing the undead creature, although without a magical weapon his attacks are somewhat blunted.

The Wight takes guard and grins back at Mongo, the Mercenary knows this is going to hurt, and it does- Mongo is heavily wounded, and worse- the undead’s Life Drain much reduces his max HP- and he’s not going to get an extended rest anytime soon.

However, Ontharr to the rescue, the Dwarven Paladin suddenly appears at Mongo’s side and with a Divine Smite (Crit) followed by a hit, smashes the now panicked undead down.

That was easy- the Players think, and then verbalise- how nice for me.

And then Hard Bonk with his magical shortsword, and magical fists & feet, beats the second Wight well beyond bloodied, but not for long- Sgt Harald rocks up and with a Crit and ends it.

At which point rushing into the mix, at strange ad hoc intervals, come eight Ghouls and two Ghasts, and the Players really start screaming.

Derek gets to Mongo with a Cure Wounds, while Gargomel gets his Spiritual Weapon up and running- and thumps a Ghast (after his Spirit Guardians, at last, expires) and then again with his battleaxe with a chunk of extra radiant damage added- the Ghast is very quickly heavily wounded.

At which point Naergoth Bladelord, who retreated a little earlier to avoid the sprawling charge of the strike team, grabs his terrible longbow out and shoots a necrotically enhanced arrow into Hard Bonk, that hurt a lot.

Then one of the Ghoul ambushers gets to Gargomel’s and claws the Dwarf Priest, he’s again down to less than 10 HP. Mongo also takes another hit, the Flaming Fist Vet is well beyond bloodied, however he has enough about him to take another Ghast down.

The Mercenary rushes on to Naergoth, to prevent the Wight from firing his bow again, take care- the Wight’s longsword is going to hurt at least as much.

Another Ghoul gets to Gargomel and the Priest is down, throat torn out- note there’s no unconscious, or Death Saves for the NPCs- they live until they die.

Rob, Playing Gargomel, gets to make the first roll (actually this was the first roll ever) on the Reinforcements table, Corporal Jones rushes into the action, alas the good Corporal is a member of the Waterdeep Watch, and has maybe 10 HP, so… Rob’s not pleased, and there’s money on the new NPC not lasting long.

The still Hasted Ontharr cuts another Ghoul down, and then starts in on the next in line.

Meantime Hard Bonk also makes it to Naergoth and starts up with chop-socky magic, the 200 HP Wight takes a bearing, and also succumbs to the Monk’s Stunning Strike.

Corporal Jones stabs his spear into a Ghoul, with a Crit- possibly the biggest cheer from the Players for the whole fight.

Note, somewhat remarkably not a single member of the strike team have succumbed to the Ghast’s stench aura.

Sgt Harald smashes yet another Ghoul down.

At which point the two Ghasts hiding in the sarcophagi within the room- exit their lairs and rip into Corporal Jones, the poor bastard doesn’t last the turn- he’s slaughtered.

Rob gets to make a second Reinforcements table, guess what- another Waterdeep Guard, welcome… Corporal Smith, let’s see if he sticks around a little longer.

Derek Pilch tries increases morale with a Mass Cure Wounds.

The melee rumbles on, Mongo- Flaming Fist Vet, is the first to feel the effect of the Ghast’s Poisonous stench. The Mercenary however slashes and cuts hard at Naergoth- and a Crit (although his blade isn’t magical).

Ontharr slashes and cuts another two Ghouls down- the enemies are thinning out.

Hard Bonk, alas also succumbs the Ghast’s Poisonous stench, the Monk misses all of his attacks on Naergoth- who is also now no-longer Stunned.

Sgt Harald ends another of the Ghouls- there’s just two left, and two Ghasts, and Naergoth, of course.

Wizard Nora, who hasn’t be able to effect the fight too much- and is also preserving her spells, when she can, ends another Ghast with a clutch of Magic Missiles.

Naergoth, no-longer Stunned, rips into Hard Bonk with his longsword- seconds later and the Monk is out cold on the floor, unconscious and dying, which just leaves Mongo trying to keep the nasty bastard Wight at bay.

Ontharr Frume gets to Hard Bonk with a Cure Wounds, and then goes back to killing Ghouls- another one dead, just one more left.

Hard Bonk meantime leaps back to his feet and starts in on Naergoth again, a second later and the Wight is Stunned once again, and at last- bloodied.

Sgt Harald cuts down the last Ghoul… they’re getting there.

Derek Pilch gets to Hard Bonk with another Cure Wounds, he needed that.

Lady Love, Knight of Siverymoon, cuts another Ghast down- just one left, and Naergoth, who now no longer Stunned, cuts Mongo again.

At which point Ontharr unleashes another Divine Smite, and a follow up hit- the Wight is now heavily wounded. Hard Bonk follows up with a Crit with his magical shortsword, and seconds later- after a roundhouse kick to the side of the head Naergoth is down.

Just one screeching Ghast left, and so the Monk moves over and goes to work on the undead creature- it doesn’t last long, Hard Bonk takes it down and the fight is eventually won.

A little breather and then the strike team, after a bit more healing, move on- following Derek Pilch’s instruction, the Druid- while he was scouting the area, spotted an area further on- the treasury, and he believes in the same direction is the Draakhorn, the great call to battle for the chromatic dragons, silencing this device could help to win the war.

Note, here’s the roster for strike team number 1, at present-

Brothers of the First Light B Team
Derek Pilch (played by Jackie) Male Human Druid Lvl 13
Hard Bonk (played by Rob) Male Half-Orc Monk Lvl 13
Sgt Harald Hardaxe (played by Pete) Male Shield Dwarf Fighter Lvl 13

& Special Guest PC
Ontharr Frume (played by Sandy) Male Mountain Dwarf Order of the Gauntlet leader and Paladin of Moradin Lvl 10

& Player NPCs
Wizard Nora (played by Pete) Female Human Harper Mage
Mongo (played by Sandy) Male Human Flaming Fist Mercenary Veteran
Gargomel (played by Rob) Male Hill Dwarf Order of the Gauntlet Priest RIP
Lady Love (played by Jackie) Female Half-Elven Knight of Silverymoon
Corporal Jones (played by Rob) Male Human Waterdeep Guard RIP
Corporal Smith (played by Rob) Male Human Waterdeep Guard


More of this kind of thing next time.
 


Goonalan

Hero
Supporter
Very cool. I love how you're handling this.

Thanks, I think back at the time we were approaching the finale and it was holiday season, as it were, and all of us were heading off somewhere sunnyish, but at different times- so it was going to get messy, or else we were going to have to put the game on hold for approx. a month and a half, no biggie- at the time.

There was also a lot of chatter on the way to here, particularly from Pete- "let's have a big battle, on Fantasy Grounds, can we?" that kind of thing.

So, sometimes it was all of the Players around the VTT, but at other times it was just a choice selection of the playing committee- one of the couples and me, or else (and more often) just Pete, Rob and me at the VTT.

That said, all of the action with the Brothers of the First Light, and with the Secondary characters involved all of the Players either at the table or the VTT.

The ladies fell out of love, a little, with the endless fighting of the other Strike Teams, as could you- we'll see.

Stay safe, I've found the next bit I need to write up for this lot (in the Chatlog mess) so I'll get on it.

Goonalan
 

Halloween Horror For 5E

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