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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Rise of Tiamat - Chuth, the Green Dragon

Our 4th grade buddy Dark couldn't make it this week. Something happened with a book report involving Erik the Red, apparently.

The Party  
  •     (Zhentarim) Elf Rogue: In real life, played by Dark's dad.
  •     (Zhentarim) Gnome Rogue: Middle Schooler. We joke that his character lives in a garbage can.
  •     (Zhentarim) Elf Rogue: Middle Schooler. Often does "combo moves" with the gnome, throwing him at stuff to get Inspiration.
  •     (Order of the Gauntlet) Half-Elf Paladin: Middle Schooler. Oath of the Ancients.
  •     (Order of the Gauntlet) Half-Elf Fighter: The player is about 25 years old, knows the rules pretty well.
The Second Council of Waterdeep

The heroes looted Arauthator's lair. I threw in some magic items they'd missed from Hoard of the Dragon Queen, including the wand of winter and a bag of holding (everybody loves bags of holding).

Laeral Silverhand
They returned to Waterdeep and took part in the second council of Waterdeep. I had the factions react to what the PCs had done (some of them were mad that the heroes killed Varra the White). Ontharr Frume was not happy to see Maccath the Crimson, as he does not want to associate with the Arcane Brotherhood.

The adventurers received their next mission: Go to the Misty Forest and investigate a green dragon attacking elf settlements.

The heroes also met Elia, the woman with silver hair (they learned her secret way back in Hoard). She wanted to take the heroes to meet with the leaders of the metallic dragons soon.

Lady Silverhand, the new ruler of Waterdeep and a powerful wizard, teleported the heroes to Daggerford. From there, it was a relatively short trip to the Misty Forest.

Along the way I had the heroes stumble on a destroyed caravan, just to impress upon them the fact that the cult of the dragon is starting to run roughshod all over the Sword Coast.

The Misty Forest

The heroes came to a Misty Forest village called Altand. One of the players wanted this to be where his elf came from, which was cool. The heroes met his mother and cousin (who he came up with names for). The hero decided to leave the dog he'd adopted in Boaresky Bridge with his mom, which is a cool idea.

The deal in the village is that the leader cut a deal with the dragon and the wyrmspeaker - if they spared his village, he'd help them pick out other settlements to raid and destroy.
Our heroes figured this out very quickly. The guy has a pet raven. The gnome can talk to birds and small animals. The raven told him what was going on and the leader was exposed.

The leader, Galin, told the heroes where the dragon and wyrmspeaker were based out of. The adventurers headed out.

Along the way, there's this druid. She wants to see if the heroes are worthy of her aid against the dragon. So she has an "awakened tree" (like a treant, I guess) lie on her leg. As the heroes approach, she called out for aid. If the heroes helped her, she'd give them these magic garlands.

Well, our heroes came upon this scene and smartly scoped out the scene with perception, insight, you name it. They saw that the lady was a druid, and that there were some awakened trees about, including the one that was "pinning" her leg. It was very suspicious.

They left her there!

This was quite a development. If they had saved her, she'd give them the garlands, which would protect them from the dragon' spies. Without the garlands, the dragon will know they're coming and will attack them at the entrance of the lair!

The heroes got close to the lair and ended up in a battle with ettercaps and giant spiders. It is hard to hit the paladin, and he has some cool gimmicks to prevent bad guys from hitting his allies. He is a very good player.

The Dragon's Lair

The adventurers came to the lair. There was a waterfall that disguised a tunnel that led inside. Because the heroes didn't have the garlands, the animals of the forest had warned Chuth, the green dragon that they were coming.

Again, the heroes smartly surveyed the scene. It was quiet. They noticed a lot of small animals and birds watching them, nervously. Suddenly, the green dragon exploded out from behind the waterfall and took flight!

It used it's frightening presence, which hit only a single PC thanks to a new power the paladin has. It clawed and bit a rogue, dropping him unconscious. Chuth, the dragon, hovered in the air, breathing poison as the heroes fired arrows at it.

The paladin healed the rogue. Many of the PCs fled to the tunnel on the other side of the waterfall. The tunnel was steep and wet from the mist, so the heroes had to be careful not to fall.

What ended up happening was that the paladin stayed outside... alone... while the heroes popped their heads out of the waterfall and made ranged attacks.

The paladin then used misty step to teleport onto the dragon! He held onto it with his shield hand and legs, and stabbed at it with his sword (making dex checks to stay on it). This allowed the rogues to get their sneak attack damage!

The paladin wanted to cast a spell, but I noted it had somatic components, which meant he'd have to make hand gestures. He could try it, but he'd have to make a dex check or lose his grip on the dragon and fall. He decided not to cast.

In the tunnel, the gnome spotted a guilty-looking squirrel. The gnome can talk to small animals. The squirrel said, "Sorry. I had to tell Chuth you were coming!"

The squirrel explained that Chuth makes the animals spy for him on threat of death.

When Dark's dad found out about this, he impaled the squirrel on his arrow and fired it into the dragon! And he hit! It was awful and utterly hilarious.

The dragon was hurt bad ("bloodied" in 4e terms). The adventure says Chuth runs away when reduced to half of his hit points. It was time for it to flee... with the paladin on it's back!

I had a hard time deciding if the dragon could use it's legendary actions, like the tail attack, to try to knock the paladin off. I decided not to partly due to the torrent of complaints I was enduring at this point (I'll explain below).

Instead, the dragon flew up in the air... 170 feet... then 250. It was so far away from the rest of the party that the archers had disadvantage to hit it. Their shots all missed.

Then, on the dragon's next turn, I had it try to shake off the paladin. I made it an opposed strength check. I rolled a total of 20. The paladin had a +3 to his roll. He failed.

The paladin fell 250 feet, taking 96 points of damage! Amazingly, he did not immediately die. He landed in a tree and rolled death saves... he was unconscious.

The dragon flew away and the heroes tracked down their friend and rested, healing him.


Todd White said...

Well said, well written. Thanks for the insight!

I'm running my first public game in a week. I'm slightly nervous!

Patrick Henry Downs said...

Re: the "It's not fair" player
Calling something broken and the impulse to contact customer service is entirely a video game thing.
Just google "this game is broken" and I bet you that every link that comes up is related to some Call of Duty forum or video game review.

Jason Raabis said...

I imagine this sort of player problem is not just a function of public games, but can strike anytime you assemble a player cast where you don't know every individual personally.

Sean said...

Todd: Just know your material and you're good to go! Be ready to answer questions about class features... try and do that before the game starts. Good luck!

Patrick: Yeah it seems like video games have conditioned some players to expect a careful balance. But even then, most video games have a few encounters that are frustratingly hard..

Jason: Agreed!

All of you use G+.. maybe it is time for me to start using that..

Anonymous said...

Here is the thing. Back in the days of 2nd ed. people knew not to mess with a dragon, now any wannabe farm boy picks up a sword and says he can be a Dragonslayer (reference to Chasing Amy intended).

This will teach them to have a plan, if you play a melee ground and pound character expect to have issues with fly monsters. I feel your player was being a baby, please keep us apprised of the situation, I would have told him to walk.

Something to keep in mind, was your table aware things would get harder? If they were use to a cake walk, then indeed this must have been a rude awakening.

Anonymous said...

Awesome post! Re: “Not Fair” player, I can’t help but wonder if 4th edition may have set up some expectations as well. It was much more heroic than other editions and went to great pains to make sure the tactical bar was always level. In a lot of ways, 4e was designed specifically to appease players who would complain about fairness in earlier editions.

For example, by this level in 4e, the players would have a dozen powers and likely one could allow him to target a flying creature and anchor it to the ground when it flies by or maybe one of the dozen magic items they are supposed to have would allow him to fly himself.

Fifth edition expects players to live within more severe limitations, which is easier for those of us who cut our teeth in versions 3.5 and older. Seriously, my old school paladin would have killed (only evil creatures, of course) to have the options 5e paladins have, but maybe 4e players feel limited. Doesn’t excuse his behavior and he should apologize next session, but I’m just throwing out a theory that may help explain it.

Bronk said...

The problem with the 'not fair' guy might not be that he's having problems with conflating D&D with a video game or having edition woes... it could be that he's too 'into' his character and can't wrap his head around the bad luck he's having.

That mentality would actually be great for player retention, but would probably need a response more along the lines of 'Your guy is just having a rough patch', or 'This is the part of the story where your hero falters, so that his victories later will be even more awesome.' It could also be that telling him it was just a game broke him out of a bubble of suspension of disbelief, which might have been jarring.

I guess he could be just a badly socially adjusted guy, I suppose! Or maybe on the spectrum somewhere.

I just finished reading your blog (backwards!) and read one of your game logs that you had linked to. Whoa! I think it's pretty cool that you can keep your public and private games so separate... In Knights of the Dinner Table terms, I think you're like BA in your public games, and like Nitro in private! Cool! I also think this 'not fair' guy is acting more like Newt from Nitro's table. Good luck with dealing with him!

Sean said...

Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I was in the hospital but now I am recovering.

Anonymous: They've fought a number of dragons, and I ran them all the same way. They fly and breathe. I will talk to this player on Wednesday (I missed the game last week).

Anonymous: This player has played 3e and 4e, so he's accustomed to varying levels of difficulty. This player is one of many who seem to feel that if the game doesn't cater to their character's strengths, then the game is flawed or poorly-designed.

Bronk: I think it might have to do a bit with video games.. I think he is a bit socially awkward too, but heck, so am i... all I ask is that players be mindful of their behavior and apologize if they've crossed a boundary.

You read one of my summaries.. awesome. My home games are with special hand-picked players that fit with my mindset and sense of humor.

DM Buckley said...

Awesome recap blog! I've been using other people's blogs to prepare for my own group and yours quickly became a fave. My guys are currently in Castle Naerytyr. Keep up the good work / ideas for me to steal, and if you are interested, here is my recap blog. We spent a few sessions of home brew tying Lost Mines into HOTDQ:

Sean said...

DM Buckley: Thanks! I am quite amused that your group split up and met with Voaraghamanthar. "Slippery Pete" is a hilarious PC name, too. Your blog is awesome, keep up the great work!

JamEngulfer221 said...

Where is the complaining character? I see him nowhere in this.

Sean said...

JamEngulfer221: I think I edited some stuff out of this post a while back because I just cringed at the idea of the player in question one day stumbling on this summary. It's hard to figure out what is OK to write about and what should be kept private. I am trying to give an accurate picture of what DMing in a store is really like, but I'm also trying my best not to be a douche about it.