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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Hoard of the Dragon Queen - Dragon Attack

We just finished up the second session of Hoard of the Dragon Queen at the game store. I was excited about this session, because I had planned on running the blue dragon encounter. Yes, in this adventure, the 1st level adventurers have a skirmish with a blue dragon that has over 200 hit points.

The store went from one table with 7 players to three tables with a total of 18 players! 5th edition is bringing them in, that is for sure. The question now is whether we can keep them.

In last week's post, I mentioned that a player brought his daughter who decided to try playing this week. Once in a while, you come across a legendary D&D character. Tonight, this 7 year old girl debuted one of the most epic characters of all time: Dark the Dragon Sorceress.
Greenest was under attack by an army and a dragon. Our heroes had arrived at the village, rescued a family and hacked their way through the hordes to get to the safety of the keep.

The heroes were hurt badly. The adventure says they can take a short rest if they like. They did so. Then Escobar the Red asked them to meet with Governor Nighthill, who was up on the parapet overlooking his besieged town.

He had a bandage on his head, his arm was in a sling and his tunic had a blood stain on it. He recruited our heroes (who angrily demanded gold!) to sneak through a never-used secret tunnel to go back into the town to rescue citizens barricaded in the temple of Chauntea.

The Secret Tunnel:

There's a rat's nest where rats attack if the PCs disturb it. They did not. Pretty cautious on their part! I was impressed. The exit to the tunnel has a rusty lock on it. The key or thieves' tools will break off in it on a bad roll, which is a very cool little detail.

Upon exiting the tunnel, the heroes crossed a shallow stream and were spotted by cultists and kobolds. A battle broke out. The father of the little girl stealthed around and backstabbed some enemies, while his daughter - DARK THE DRAGON SORCERESS - fired off ranged spells and then closed in with her dagger for the kill.

Yes, that's right. Dark has a freaking 17 strength and she will not hesitate to stab you to death. She took down a kobold and I asked her to tell me how she killed it. She said "I stab it in the arm!"

At the end of the night, she showed me drawings of her character. She had been working on them with her dad as we played. I really wish I could have taken pictures of them to post here, but I wasn't sure if that was appropriate to ask. One picture was of Dark, who is sort of gothic with face paint and red hair. And then there's a cutesy picture of the 225 hit point blue dragon, with big shiny eyes with horns whose tips end in hearts. It was beyond epic.

The heroes mopped the floor with the bad guys and made their way toward the church while clinging to shadows.


This is a nice, elaborate encounter. There's scared citizens barricaded in the church. Outside the church (which is gigantic) are three groups of bad guys. One group is trying to use a ram to bash the door open. Another group is trying to set a fire by the back entrance. The third group is circling the place, throwing stuff through the windows, hooting and hollering.

The heroes stealthed to the back, took positions behind or on nearby buildings, and then took out the bad guys in a quick but deadly fight. Those kobolds with their advantage when an ally is adjacent are pretty deadly.

Our heroes busted into the church, calmed down the villagers and hustled them out before the front door was bashed in. Dark first declared to me that she wanted to stay in the church - alone - to take on all the bad guys!

After some discussion, she changed her mind. She was going to go with the group, but keep her eyes peeled for pursuers or enemies and take them out.

Cool, right? OK, so I had to see what would happen. So I described the scene with our heroes leading the poor villagers through the ravaged village, with Dark at the rear trailing behind, angrily keeping her eyes peeled for bad guys.

A single kobold rounded a corner. I asked her what she did. "Fireball!"

Yes, she cast fireball on one lone kobold, blowing him to smithereens. She couldn't cast that spell, but I didn't care. I was dying laughing.

Soon after, she spotted another one in a building. Fireball again! The whole building exploded!

The villagers were brought to the secret tunnel. That rats' nest was not disturbed. The villagers were rescued.

Dragon Attack:
Before the adventurers could catch their breath, there was an explosion from outside the keep. The blue dragon was attacking!

This encounter is pretty scary. I really wonder how it went in other stores. If the DM does not make it crystal clear that this monster is MUCH more powerful than the party, you are going to have serious problems. I made sure to do as the adventure advised and told the heroes that the breath weapon did 66 points of damage to a guard.

The deal here is that the dragon hovers above the wall breathing lightning down on the guards, killing d4 of them per round. While it waits for its' breath weapon to recharge, it flies up higher into the night sky. Once ten are dead, the PCs get less XP for the encounter.

The players' reactions to this situation were understandable. One player was certain that this was an illusion. Others hid behind a wall. Most of them, interestingly, tried to parlay with it. Even Hack and Slash Guy, he who charges every monster every time, tried to talk to it. The players couldn't understand what the idea was behind this encounter (the gimmick is that they need to do 24 points of damage to the dragon to get it to go away, which is a sort of difficult thing to convey to them).

Dark has dragon blood or something. Thus, she reasoned, the blue dragon probably liked her. I agreed! They entered into a telepathic dialogue (don't ask me, it just seemed like a fun idea at the time). Through this psychic conversation, Dark learned of the Cult of the Dragon's plan.

Her father in real life was playing a rogue. He saw that the blue dragon seemed to respect Dark, so he suddenly told the dragon that he was going to kill Dark if it didn't go away!

And what did Dark do? She tried to stab her dad's character!

She missed, but Dad cleverly made it look like he had been stabbed. The dragon, shocked by this turn of events, was hovering above the wall. Our heroes suddenly rushed onto the wall and unleashed ranged attacks. A critical hit was scored with a javelin, and a flung dagger found its' mark. The dragon was wounded and soared off into the night.

The guards let out a cheer! They thanked the heroes profusely. Then came my favorite part. I said, "The guards cheer, thank you and pat you on the back."

Then the little girl playing Dark told me she was grabbing the hand of the guard who patted her back.

I didn't get what she meant. Was she going to hold the guard's hand? How cute.

"I break his hand" she said, smiling.

So... a guard patted her on the back and said, "Well done!" Dark's eyes narrowed. She snatched his hand, crushed it in her mighty grip and stormed away as the shocked guard clutched his wrist and howled in pain. The guards and the party stood stunned as Episode 1 came to an end.

This was one of those classic sessions where everything goes right. Sometimes public play royally sucks, but this one was a 10 out of 10.


Boric G said...

That. Is. Awesome.
Completely and utterly.

Sean said...

Boric: Thanks! She is a sweet little kid, you don't expect her to do these things.. she doesn't know the rules (yet), but she has a better grasp on the character/roleplaying side of things than almost anybody in that store.

Brandon Paul Salinas said...