When I got to the store, I learned of a wrinkle. We had... a watcher.
You've probably had this experience. A friend of a player is in town and doesn't want to play - they just want to watch. In my experience, the watcher almost always ends up as a distraction.That's mostly because watching D&D is really boring. I always try to get the watcher to play an NPC with simple stats, mostly just to keep them from being a problem.
This episode is super-short. It just lists the five dragons, who they are and what they want. It's up to our heroes to negotiate with them. The DM is left to "unpack" and flesh it out.
- (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.
Our heroes flew on the back of the silver dragon Elia aka Otaaryliakkarnos. It's a two day journey. I had a pair of chromatic dragons attack, so that the adventurers could have a pretty epic battle on the back of a silver dragon. I used a red dragon (Thraxata from the first assassination attempt) and Arveiaturace, the insane white dragon mate of Arauthator. Dark and our paladin figured out who Arveiaturace was very quick. I was very impressed!
The battle was ok. I have learned now to always start dragon fights with frightening presence. Leading off with the breath weapon is deadly, but at this level the PCs have a lot of ways to mitigate the damage. They slew Arveiaturace and Elia killed Thraxata.
The Metallic Dragons
Obviously the first issue they had to overcome was the fact that the group has a baby black dragon with them. It actually says in the text that one of the dragons believes that all metallic dragons are made in the image of Bahamut and thus they must be good, which means that they believe that all chromatic dragons are in the image of Tiamat and therefore must be evil.
There was a nice bit of debate which never dragged. The heroes had to make some concessions in order to get the dragons to join the council. It went like this:
Gold Dragon: Was promised a share of Tiamat's hoard and an apology from the elves for the dracorage mythal (basically, it's a spell that the elves had used in the past to cause the dragons to periodically go insane and battle each other).
Brass Dragon: Was promised a share of Tiamat's hoard.
Silver Dragon: Was promised an apology from the dwarves for slaying a silver dragon during a "dragonmoot" (a dwarven dragon hunt).
Bronze Dragon: Was promised a share of Tiamat's hoard.
Copper Dragon: It turns out a PC had a dagger of venom stolen from her hoard. The PC, our gnome who likes trash, graciously gave it back along with some gold.
The metallic dragons were so impressed that they gave the PCs three arrows of dragon slaying.
I modified this "drop-in" encounter from page 7. Dwarves have captured a high-ranking cultist but are in peril. Our heroes are flying on the silver dragon and see a few dwarves being chased by an army of cultists. The heroes first had to convince Elia to help the dwarves (she doesn't like them). The dragon scattered the army while our heroes defended the dwarves from some ogres and a half-red dragon.
I felt like this didn't challenge the PCs enough.
Death at the Council
|The Yawning Portal|
To try and throw the PCs off the scent in a meta-game way (after all, why do I have a poster map of a bar on the table and why are we playing out this innocent night out on the town unless there's an encounter?), I placed another group of adventurers in the bar, drunk. This way, the meta-game players might think the intent of this encounter is to have a barfight with rival adventurers and will be caught unaware when the subterfuge takes place.
For the other group, I used heroes from another DM's campaign, Australia's own Merric Blackman. The heroes:
Flint - Paladin
Mordacai - Fighter
Music - Tiefling bard
Ice - Ice sorceress (she casts ice spells. Dark immediately sensed she was a rival!)
Darius - Monk
Kai - Warlock
The heroes were drunk, and music was warbling loudly off key. The heroes took the bait and began to interact with them. "Leosin" charmed the gnome rogue and summoned the barbed devils with a consumable charm.
The PCs loved the bar fight that they had in Hoard of the Dragon Queen and were overjoyed to play through the sequel. Here's some of the highlights:
- A barbed devil tried to slide the gnome down the bar, but Dark saved him and slid the devil down the bar instead.
- A devil pummeled the mezzoloth with a stool, rolling a critical.
- A devil used hurl flame with a shot glass to create an enhanced jet of fire.
- A devil swung on a chandelier and dropkicked people. The paladin pulled him down..
- Dark's dad and the fighter continued to drink, watching the battle, bemused. Dark's dad bet the fighter 10 gold that he could jump up on the chandelier, cut the chain, and drop-stab the devil. He did - the devil was killed.
- A devil tossed the poor gnome into the bar wall lined with liquor. Then a devil used hurl flame to shatter the liquor, igniting it and causing a massive explosion. The gnome jumped into a trash can for safety, and like in the infamous Indiana Jones refrigerator scene, the can was hurtled across the bar and the gnome stepped out unharmed (his thief abilities pretty much staved off all of the damage).
- As the place burned, the other elf rogue grabbed Music, the drunken tiefling bard, and carried her out to safety. He gave her a potion of healing. He asked me if she could join the party. I doubt that, but I'm sure we can do something cool. I doubt the other party would like the idea of this group "stealing" the bard.