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Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Rise of Tiamat - Xonthal's Tower

We played another session of The Rise of Tiamat at the game store last night as part of the Dungeons & Dragons Adventurer's League program.

Something is happening to the group. Ever since that week where the substitute DM ran the game (the session where, I was told, "everybody argued") the players have very little patience for each other. Tonight's game started off very free and fun, but by the end I was really working to keep things moving.

With a home game, you're playing with people you know and that you've invited, presumably because they will make a good group. At a game store, it's just a bunch of people who show up. I got supremely lucky with group, as I really like them. But the age difference between the players seems to be causing problems.

The Party

  •     (Harper) Elf Sorcerer: Played by a 4th grader, she is Dark the Dragon Sorceress   
  •     (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. 
  •     Mezzoloth: Played by the fighter's dad, who played old D&D and is new to 5e.
Last week we went through the hedge maze. This week, our heroes had to make their way through Xonthal's tower, a weird and magic place. They are trying to find a cult defector who apparently has the blue dragon mask. They had spotted him on the tower balcony, who told them he'd wait for them in the dungeon and waved an hourglass key that they'd need.

The heroes come before a room with a teleport circle and a metal wall panel adorned with 9 symbols. Each panel has a different symbol: rectangle, a chair, fire, an hourglass, etc. When you press one, the teleport circle glows and teleports you to a room in the tower.

The adventurers all stared at it (I made a handout), and Dark immediately pointed out that the bad guy was waving an hourglass key, so they should probably press the hourglass button. She just sees right through the game a lot of times. Most people get lost in the details, but she is very sharp.

Pressing the hourglass is locked - you need to touch it with the hourglass key.

The heroes ended up pressing the star, and going right to the bad guy with the hourglass key. His flunkies had just 33 hit points. The heroes tore through them. Jorgen managed to get off a fireball, but most of the PCs have some way to mitigate or negate the damage completely. They killed the dude and got the key.

They used the key to go right to the dungeon.

Dungeon Teleporter: The room they appeared in had three dead bodies. Their defector, Iskandar, had killed them and fled further in.
 
Elemental Checkpoint: This is an area guarded by 2 earth elementals and a fire elemental. The deal here is that there's a locked box that has scrolls of protection against these elementals. I'm not really swure how the PCs could get them without battling the elementals. Invisibility, I guess, but not many people sneak in, grab the loot, sneak out, then kill the monsters.

They had no problem taking out these enemies. The adventure seems scaled way too low for my PCs.

Laboratory: This is an awesome room with a whirlwind that has 8 elemental gems floating in it. The adventurers decided to leave it alone.

Cosmic Hallway: I love this area! Basically they have to cross a bridge that passes through the cosmos! The heroes did a lot of testing and throwing things into space. Then they tied a rope to Dark and she crossed. A tiny meteor swarm came out of nowhere and she almost got knocked over the side, but she made her saving throw.

The heroes would come back here a few times, to throw green goo into the cosmos and for Dark, with a rope tied to her, to float out into space for a minute.

Storage Closet: Old, moldy spell components. Xonthal's been gone 100 years.

Time Chamber: The come upon Iskander's dead body. He has the blue dragon mask. Also in this room are two giant hourglasses. The heroes take the mask and try using it. They start to suspect it's a fake and begin debating what to do about it.

Dark really wanted to wear the mask but another PC had claimed it. She got a little upset about it and this is where the group started to unravel a bit.

Using Hazirawn's detect magic ability, the fighter saw that there were magic diamonds in the hourglasses. These are really cool consumables that let you teleport 30 feet. Handy!

The party debated more: Should we shatter the hourglasses? They didn't.

Taraz the Fair: This room has a fire genie in it. He is trapped in the room due to magic. A thin line of salt keeps him bound and he is desperate to be freed.

He has a chessboard and claims that Xonthal told him he could be freed when Taraz beats him at a game of chess. Dark was nice enough to play him in chess and lose on purpose. She really wanted to force the genie to be her servant.

Basically, Taraz will lie his face off to convince the PCs to free him. He hints stuff about granting wishes.

The group pretty much came apart at this point. Dark wanted him to be her servant. Others wanted to kill him. Others wanted to just leave the genie in the room.

Ultimately, they freed the genie. Then, for some reason, a rogue tripped him as Taraz walked out. The genie flipped out and the party begged Taraz not to attack him. The genie was allowed to throw the rogue around a little to regain his honor.

Taraz ultimately ditched the party with plane shift. I just wanted him out of there because this whole thing completely grinded the game to a halt. At that point I was in almost emergency mode, as the group had grown somewhat frustrated with each other and I wanted to get things back on track.

Also, while I had spent an hour or two making handwritten notes, I had gotten mixed up and confused a number of times while running this scenario. It was loud in the store and I was off my game.
 
The Dragon

The heroes exited the tower. A blue dragon was attacking the village outside the maze. It was Lennithon, the dragon they'd run into in the very first episode of Hoard of the Dragon Queen.

The heroes got to the village, climbed on rooftops and fought the dragon. They lured it down by promising to hand over the dragon mask, and then unloaded on it. The dragon got off frightening presence and nearly dropped the fighter with a claw/claw/bite. It used wing attack to scatter and injure them. But when it tried to escape (it was bloodied quickly) the heroes finished it off.

We Are Almost Finished

The mask is a fake. This is the thing I hate most about these adventures - the masks keep getting dangled in front of the PCs but they can't actually get them.

This session started out awesome but kind of came apart as it went along. The tower itself is very cool. They missed a bunch of rooms that I really wanted to run - there's these black dragon bone. I was going to say they were the bones of Sparky's mother and have her ghost appear and tell the heroes the secret of Voaraghamanthar.

We're going to play on Sunday, and then we should finish the campaign next Wednesday!

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