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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hoard of the Dragon Queen - Hazirawn

Azbara Jos
5th edition Dungeons & Dragons is doing extremely well in our store. We have four tables going and every one of them is filled to capacity. There is literally no more room in the building.

Factions

I was a bit worried coming in to tonight's game. I am not too good at using factions in dungeons. I decided to just take it one step at a time and to try to roll with it. There's so many moving parts, it is difficult to juggle everything.

The adventurers had allied themselves with the lizardfolk and were set to take out the bullywugs in Castle Naerytar. My main concern in scenarios like this is that sometimes the PCs expect 30 NPCs to come with them from room-to-room in the dungeon. That makes the dungeon fairly useless and brings up all sorts of issues.

Planning to Finish the Campaign by March
 
Before we started, I asked the players if they were willing to do some extra sessions over the holidays. Looking at The Rise of Tiamat, I am worried we won't get to the end. It would suck for use to get to 12th level in March and then have to decide whether to finish Tyranny of Dragons or start the new Elemental Evil storyline. I want us to be done and ready by the time the new season rolls around.

The players agreed to do a couple of bonus sessions on Sundays over the next few weeks. Hopefully it all works out. They seemed happy about it.

The Lizardfolk Raid

The heroes waited until night and led 30 lizardfolk allies into the barbican. The bullywugs questioned the heroes. A couple thieves crept up to the roof and got the bullywugs up there to come downstairs. Then the lizardfolk attacked the bullywugs.

Thus began the scenario where our heroes explore Castle Naerytar to the backdrop of lizardfolk slaughtering bullywugs.  It was a quiet operation in the beginning - this was intentional on my part, as I wanted something special to happen a bit later.

The Dagger of Venom

The adventurers went into the chapel (1l.) and killed some dragonclaws. There was a wooden statue of Tiamat. I hate missed treasure, and there was a magic dagger in a secret compartment in the black dragon Tiamat head.

I tried to give them a clue by having Sparky the baby black dragon claw at the black dragon head. A rogue picked up on it, and found the dagger of venom.

The group, made up mostly of kids around the age of 13, freaked out. This is only the second magic item found so far. The first one was a lousy +1 bow. There is something about handing out the certificates that really gets them excited about getting a magic item.

Stealth Gone Wrong
 
After some excited rolling-off, the heroes searched some adjacent rooms. I decided that all the loud arguing alerted the cultists upstairs. The cultists came down and were also slaughtered.

Two rogues crept up the tower alone, snooping around. Split the party, they did! We have a party with 3 rogues, a paladin, a fighter and DARK THE DRAGON SORCERESS so there's a lot of sneaking, hiding and creeping in these sessions.

The pair of rogues went up to the third floor and found Rezmir's room. They didn't check for traps or anything. They set off her wardrobe trap. Both rogues were sprayed with acid (the damage of which was whittled down thanks to rogue abilities) and the acid destroyed the contents of the wardrobe.

The adventurers regrouped and went back out into the courtyard. They decided, to my delight, to go to the Great Hall...

Showdown in the Great Hall

1Q. is the Great Hall. It's a room where there's a ton of stolen treasure and a lot of guards - cultists, dragonwings and drakes, depending on the time of day.

When preparing this, I had decided that if possible I wanted the heroes to have a chance to encounter the uber-bad guys. The idea in the adventure is that once chaos breaks out, Rezmir (she's the big villain of this book, more or less) and the red wizard Azbara Jos flee through the portal in the basement.

I wanted the heroes to stumble on a meeting between Rezmir, Azbara and the two Castle Naerytar leaders - Dralmorrer (the elf) and Pharblex Splattergoo (the bullywug leader).

I had the idea that the PCs could see this meeting, maybe do some eavesdropping and then decide what to do from there. With the meeting over, I'd have the bad guys retire to their rooms. The PCs could theoretically follow Rezmir to her room. I was kind of amused just to see what they'd do given this scenario. I couldn't guess.

Rezmir's Evil Sentient Sword

Rezmir is loaded with magic items. She has the black dragon mask, Hazirawn the evil sentient sword, and some magic gloves.  I wanted them to have a chance to interact with the bad guys in any way they choose. At the very least, we could foreshadow who the big bad guys were and build to big battles down the road.

The heroes smartly peeked in the hall and listened to the conversation. I dropped a lot of factoids that they could learn from Talis the White in the next chapter - there's a flying castle, the cult is working with a white dragon called Glazhael the Cloudchaser, etc.

The heroes excitedly convened and plotted. The plan was for two PCs to burst into the room, posing as cultists, and warn that the lizardfolk were on a rampage. Then once the guards were away, the heroes could pick off a leader or two.

I made sure to describe Rezmir's badass items. The players demanded to see the art of the bad guy NPCs.

Dark is played by a 4th grade girl. I showed everyone Rezmir's picture and said: "Rezmir is a black dragon lady and she is a super-evil bad guy!"

Dark excitedly and earnestly shouted: "I am a super-evil good guy!"

The plan didn't go so well. They burst in to the room and yelled that there was an attack. Azbara Jos immediately recognized the heroes from the caravan journey. And also... the heroes rolled a 1 on their deception check.

A massive melee ensued. Some heroes were by one entrance, most were at the other one. Rezmir and Azbara decided to head downstairs and head to the portal.

The Fateful Disarm

The party fighter would have none of this. Rezmir had LOOT! He fired a range attack on her - a disarming strike. She dropped Hazirawn. He ran over, taking some opportunity attacks and snatched it up.

He and the PCs focused on Rezmir, all of us rolling natural 20's. It was crazy. Rezmir was staggered by a critical, then she responded with a critical (she has 2 legendary actions per round). She dropped the fighter with her acid breath.

The PCs started dropping. One of the rogues ran across the courtyard where lizardfolk were slaughtering the bullywugs in 1G. He started leading them back, telling them that their hated enemy Pharblex Splattergoo was there.

Rezmir has 90 hit points. She was down to 26. She and Azbara Jos fled as Dralmorrer fired off magic missiles and Pharblex readied a thunderwave.

About 3 PCs are down. Lizardfolk are on the way. We had to stop there, as we ran out of time.

Overall

It was a great session. I was wondering if the PCs would get their hands on the black dragon mask. It looks like it's going to get away. They'll have one more chance to snatch it in chapter 8, but that's a tricky proposition.

Very good game!

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