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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Tyranny of Dragons - Hoard of the Dragon Queen Episode 1

I started a new group in Hoard of the Dragon. Yeah, I'm already writing one report but, hey, what the heck. I can write about what it's like to run the same public play deal with a different group.

For me, it's interesting. I know the material like the back of my hand so it should run more smoothly and I can foreshadow things much better. I can also work in other people's cool ideas. I sprinkled in some concepts from the Hack & Slash blog, namely:
  • The cultists are divided into the colors of the five dragons. So the raid on Greenest is being done by cultists in blue and black robes.
  • I added in the encounter where the dragon knocks over a stone building which collapses on the heroes.
  • I put in the idea that Escobar the Red has a drug problem, because Escobar is a pretty dry NPC.
Not Many Players

Seven people told me they wanted in on this game. Seven! And yet only three showed up. This actually worked out well for me, as I like smaller groups. I got some of them to use the PC backgrounds! The group:
  • Human Sorcerer: Played by Hack and Slash Guy. He took the "I dream about the world being destroyed by a creature with ten eyes" background.
  • Elf Wizard: Played by "the bad cleric" from way back when. He is a nice kid.
  • Dwarf Cleric: Took the "I was gravely injured by a dragon" background. He chose a black dragon. So, we decided his back had been burned by Voaraghamanthar.
Hella the Dwarf Cleric
The player of the cleric is new. He's about my age (30's) and he has a similar sense of humor to mine. His character's name is "Hella", and we proceeded to make terrible dad jokes about how "hella good" the cleric was.

I have a love for using dated slang as if it is cool, to get the younger people to groan. Air quotes really seal the deal.

The two younger players told him about some of my past terrible jokes, including one I'd forgotten about:

I had the heroes run into Lord Nizzle and the Knights of Shizzle. When it was time for them to charge into battle, they raised their blades and shouted, "For Shizzle!".

The new guy died laughing, I died laughing, and even the young players laughed. I was quite proud that this terrible joke scored big almost a year after it was first unleashed on my poor unsuspecting players.

Seek the Keep

Our heroes raced into Greenest. A wizard, a sorcerer and a cleric. I was very excited.. what an original party makeup. I scaled things down, worried they'd all die. They took out 4 kobolds quickly and rescued Linan Swift.

She fought alongside them, and was extremely effective. My dice were on fire tonight. They faced off against a lone ambush drake, who I was really worried about. I thought it might be too deadly. But they wounded it, and then the wizard dropped it with a sleep spell.

Governor Nighthill

The heroes raced to the keep just as the gate closed. They were healed by clerics of Chauntea. Escobert dropped crystals right in his eye, totally overwhelmed. He took them to the Governor, who dropped a quest in their eyes.

The Tunnel

The heroes used the secret tunnel. Their job was to go back into the city and rescue the villagers trapped in the cathedral.

The first time I ran this, the heroes did not disturb the rat nest, unlocked the grate and went outside.

This time, the group carefully examined the nest, saw rats in it, and scorched it with a firebolt. They took down the swarm (I only used one) with no problem.

They had a key to the lock on the grate. The deal here is that the lock is old and a PC has to make a DEX check to open it. If you roll low, the key breaks off. The dwarf proceeded to roll a one! Key is broken!

The party has no thief. I wondered what they'd do. Sorcerer proudly casts mending, which says right in its' description that it mends broken keys. How awesome is that?

So, he mended it, they unlocked the great, and moved on.

The Cathedral

There was a skirmish in the stream wherein Hella demolished the bad guys with her warhammer.

I had to reduce monsters here. Again, I was worried. The deal here is that the villagers are in a barricaded cathedral. The bad guys are outside, split into three groups:
  • Group 1 is using a battering ram to bash the doors in
  • Group 2 is walking around, throwing stuff and mocking the villagers
  • Group 3 is trying to burn the place but having no luck.
The heroes decided to try to get the jump on group one. This group had one dragonclaw (a cultist in blue draconic armor) and two cultists in blue robes.

This went poorly. My dice caught fire, and the casters couldn't hit. Hella tried to take on all three while the casters fired off range attacks, but the dragonclaw rolled a critical and dropped the cleric.

But, on Hella's next turn, she rolled a 20 on her death save! Hella healed herself and blocked a series of attacks as the casters frantically tried to take them down.

But then, a cultist rolled a critical and dropped Hella again! The sorcerer cast a spell that poisoned the Dragonclaw. Poisoned is a nasty condition. He has disadvantage to hit!

The casters dropped the two cultists, but the dragonclaw shook off the poison and cut down both of the casters.

We were looking at a total party kill.


The group thought it was pretty awesome. I explained that in Encounters, PCs 4th level and lower can be raised by their faction for free.

So what happened was, two of the PCs stabilized on their own. The wizard bled to death. The villagers in the cathedral took the opportunity to burst out of the building, swarm and kill the injured dragonclaw. They scooped up the PCs and raced to the keep.


It was a lot of fun. We will need one or two more player to make this work in the long haul. Heck, who knows, maybe this will end up as the only session. Bt it was definitely worth doing.

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