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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hoard of the Dragon Queen - Carnath Roadhouse

Episode 5 in Hoard of the Dragon Queen is short. It's 4 pages long! I came into the store with the goal of getting through the whole thing in one night. We did, but I have found that we are falling behind in XP. Also, just a warning, this has major spoilers not just for Hoard of the Dragon Queen but also for Rise of Tiamat.

The heroes had just come off of a 60 day caravan trip where they are tracking the cult to see where they are bringing their ill-gotten gains to. In this chapter we follow the cult on another caravan trip for ten more days. Then we get to a roadhouse where the heroes are supposed to snoop around and eventually find a secret tunnel where lizardfolk are bringing the stolen goods to... somewhere else.

I fleshed this thing out quite a bit and still got it all done in 2 hours. Now that I have read Rise of Tiamat, I want to start start foreshadowing that stuff to try to make the whole thing feel more cohesive.

Foreshadowing the Council

This begins in Waterdeep. I decided to add in a scene in The Yawning Portal, the famous bar that has an entrance to Undermountain. I decided that some heroes who had gone into the entrance had gotten in a fight with a monster that caused a raging fire down there. This was to discourage the heroes from trying to go explore Undermountain and throw me for a loop.

I had Carlon Amoffel, the harper, introduce our heroes to Remallia Haventree (a harper who will be integral to the council in Rise of Tiamat) and the mysterious silver-haired "Elia" (a silver dragon in human form who will one day fly our heroes to meet with the metallic dragons).

I was also able to work in some material about the dragon eggs in Rise of Tiamat - namely, what the factions think should be done with the dragon eggs. Remallia suggested that the heroes use their baby black dragon as ransom. She assumed that the dragon was the child of a black dragon named Voaraghamanthar who lives in the Mere of the Dead Men to the north (he is detailed in an upcoming chapter in this book).

Our 4th grader who plays Dark the Dragon Sorceress was outraged! She declared that nothing will happen to Sparky, the baby dragon! Dark got into an argument with someone over this (I think it was her dad's rogue character). Dark tried to slap him, but suddenly the mysterious "Elia" grabbed Dark's hand to stop her. I explained to her that Elia had amazing strength. I told Dark that her blood felt charged up (she is a dragon blood sorceress. I do this thing where when she is around dragons, she can sort of sense them).

This lead to her dad tailing Elia. He followed her when she left the bar and saw Elia transform into a silver dragon and fly away. I was very satisifed as I think this goes a long way into making the world feel more magical and to give them the sense that they are in the middle of big things, and that all has yet to be revealed. Hopefully this will help excite them to see how things will play out.

Another Caravan?

This is an odd chapter. Our heroes did not exactly get along with the cultists on the last long trip. The adventure expects the heroes to sign on as guards with the cultists again... even though the cultists think one of the PCs murdered one of them on the previous trip.

This chapter also introduces a couple of cultist NPCs who I think should have been introduced in episode 4. One is a female who wants revenge for the murder. She is a veteran with 2 attacks per round and 59 hit points! It is expected that she will duel the PC to the death, and if the other adventurers jump in, 12 guards will attack them. Yikes.

I gave the heroes the option to follow the cult caravan at a distance rather than sign on with them.

XP Catch-Up
I had noticed that the PCs were way behind on xp, so I plopped down three encounters from the random encounter list:
  • 8 giant frogs (who were chasing giant lightning bugs)
  • 2 dumb ogres (who wanted a "snack" - a PC - and "stuff")
  • 1 angry Troll (I just wanted to see how they'd react to the regeneration. They rolled with it nicely)
The Carnath Roadhouse

After 10 days, the caravan arrived at this roadhouse. One party thief crept up and snooped around, which was pretty cool.

Then the party came up with a somewhat ridiculous plan where they tied up the gnome who the cultists thought committed murder on the previous trip to deliver to them. This is a bit goofy because the cultists would recognize the PCs from the long trip, right?

They rolled well on their deception and it was pretty hilarious. The vengeful female cultist wanted to kill him immediately, but the heroes convinced her to wait until dawn the next day. That gave them a night to sneak around.

They found a very cool secret door. It was a floor hatch with a box bolted to it, so that you have to tip the whole box to reveal the opening beneath. That is the kind of cool, classic stuff that I love in these adventures. 

The heroes went down and found a long underground tunnel. They followed it, and ran into nine lizard folk coming for some crates!

One of the rogues had a fun idea. He'd been saving some flasks of oil. He dumped them on and around the bad guys. Then Dark cast a firebolt spell on the oil! I asked her to roll just to see how big the resultant fiery blast was.

You know what she rolled, right? A natural 20! The players cheered and high fived our legendary sorceress. I had a few lizardfolk stumble out of the blaze like stuntmen in a bad rubbery costumes. They swung their burning clubs and spiked shields but were cut down immediately.

It was an awesome way to end the session.


This was fine. I am not too enthusiastic about this chapter - it feels like it's not fleshed out enough. But whatever, we are rocketing toward Rise of Tiamat!

I am going to look through the book and see if I missed some XP rewards. The PCs are 4th level, and they should be hitting 6th level now for Episode 6. I may need to force-feed them a pile of XP somehow next session.

I also reminded them about Inspiration again tonight. That's the mechanic where if they roleplay their flaws and backgrounds, they get advantage on a future roll of their choosing. They are having a hard time with it. I think what I need to do is give inspiration when the PCs do something fun like use the oil on the lizardfolk. I'll try that next week and see how it goes.


Anonymous said...

You know what happened with us? We started a brawl with the whole roadhouse, even the cook got involved. I loved it, we got to wait for next week to see what happens.

Anonymous said...

We have half the party masquerading as cultists. We did away with the vengeful cultist back in Waterdeep so the rest of the party are unknown.

We killed the lizardmen and plan on dumping the bodies back down their tunnel. Tidy up the murder scene and then stay at the roadhouse for another day to kill of the cultists there.

Sean said...

Anonymous: That sounds awesome. The roadhouse can go a million different ways. I feel like I didn't get the most out of it. Sounds like you are doing a great job. Thanks!