Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition
Hoard Of The Dragon Queen Episode Six, Part Two
Steve as Gatt (Gnome Rogue & Spy)
Alex as Mablung Raventree (Half-Elf Wild Mage & Noble)
Lee as Gesh (Dragonborn Fighter & Acolyte)
Jacob as Willen Kingsley aka Mockingbird aka An Elven Cultist (Human Bard & Charlatan)
Vinnie as Joggi Hvolner (Dwarf Monk & Outlander)
Jamna Gleamsilver (Gnome Murderhobo)
Liftron the Magnificent (Human lifter of all things)
Snapjaw (Leader of the Lizardfolk)
Tony the Weasel (Gatt’s familiar, a compulsive liar)
The party have been hired to find out where the Cult of the Dragon are taking treasure they’ve plundered from across the Sword Coast. They have allied with Snapjaw and some lizardfolk who are the outsourced labour of the Cult and their bullywug friends. The players have started to plan a glorious lizardfolk revolution.
The group levelled up! In D&D 5E there’s a thing called, “proficiency” which goes up steadily every few levels, scaling the characters’ ability to fight and do occasional non-fighty things as they go. Proficiency gets added onto attacks with any weapon people of your class and background can use. The same goes for any tools, saving throws and skills. Vinnie had a sudden realisation that he had only applied proficiency to two skills, instead of four. It does explain a good amount of Joggi’s consistent inability to succeed at things. Not all of it, but some. Vinnie made the adjustments, accordingly.
Back to the quest! In planning a glorious lizardfolk revolution, the party realised some apology should be made for Gatt straight up murdering one of their people. Snapjaw explained that they had murdered his brother, Jeremy, who was what their culture call, ‘a redscale’. The redscales are often expected to die on missions.
Just to show that there were some complex parts going on, here’s the tree of politics which were going on here. The group capitalised on some of it, but not others. Also there’s a note from the errata to remind me where one of the NPCs was supposed to be.
The group started to talk about plans to infiltrate the castle and Jacob hit upon the dark secret of this section of the mission… They have technically done their job. They don’t need to infiltrate the castle. The quest stated that they need to find how to navigate the Mere of Dead Men and where Castle Naerytar is. Yes. It would have been solved by the quest saying, “and stop them,” but I’ve not learnt my lesson and read far ahead so I can fix this book. If you’re looking at this to run the game, just add, “and stop them,” which will stop what I did here. I said, “I know, I know, this is a pile of hot garbage at times, you’re right.” Given Willen was a coward, of course he would want to go home now, so we decided to have it that he was convinced to come along by the others. It was rough but could have been an hour of chasing down and dragging a bard back towards the ominous castle. We decided to skip that.
Anyway, back to the quest. Again. Taking notes was really tricky at this point because plans upon plans were being made and scrapped almost instantly. Some of the key elements included smuggling the smaller members of the group in the treasure. Gatt and Jamna would definitely fit, but there were still some tall and/or fat members of the party. Then maybe go in as prisoners. Willen remembered that they were hunting him (even though the group didn’t know this) and said that they could knock out Liftron and have him dragged in as the grandson of Sir Kingsley. The group were told that the cultists here were almost all elves and part of a kind of Elf Nazi faction. They wanted to remove all non-elf humanoids with the help of Tiamat. So the solution was to knock out Liftron and make the rest look like elves, aka, the Liftron Elfcon. Well, it had a snappy name, but still a few difficulties.
The group shrugged off the need to have people look like elves, assuming that dragging in Liftron as a fake Willen Kingsley would be more than enough motivation to let them live. Then their scouting of the bullywug camp outside the castle showed them a human cultist being burnt at a stake despite being on their side… maybe the Elfcon part of the plan should stay.
Given that Joggi and Gesh wouldn’t fit in piles of treasure or be convincing elves with illusory pointy ears, they became Team Wall and decided to scale the side of the castle to get inside. Gatt decided that he was too impatient to hide in treasure. Team Elf were Mablung, Willen, an unconscious Liftron and Jamna hidden in/pocketing treasure.
Team Elf had a bullywug bureaucrat to deal with on the gate to the castle, grilling them about their whereabouts while Team Wall swam through the moat, around crocodiles and up the slick but ruined walls. They had been given rough ideas about what the castle looked like from inside by Snapjaw. There were lizardfolk barracks which they would send messages to via Snapjaw, there was an area which the lizards never went, a tower in the centre with walls dividing the inner and outer wars, then a tower where everyone threw their trash. That sounded like a promising place to enter, but when Team Wall got closer, they noticed the thing living in the rubbish. An otyugh, which would eat anything the bullywugs and cultists threw in there. As someone who does far less prep than he probably should, I realised that otyughs are telepathic, so they could hear it demanding trash to eat.
The group managed to get over the pit of rubbish and spiky tendrils, up some stairs to a section of tower which was blocked off from the others. There was a chest which Gatt failed to open so Gesh smashed it apart with his hammer and they gathered the loot inside. Joggi found a hatch which led upstairs but it was covered in runes, dwarven runes. They said, “Powerful undead inside,” which sounded more like a challenge to Gatt than anything else.
Team Elf entered the castle and saw a bullywug bullying a lizardman, because bullywugs are the worst. They started pestering the guards about where the boss was as they had the grandson of Sir Kingsley to hand in. Apparently the leader of the camp was Dralmorrer Borngray, who lived in the central keep. Passing into the inner ward, Team Elf were told to keep away from the guard drakes who were on the lookout for invaders and humans. They walked into the tower where there were some cultists playing dice and walked up to Borngray’s office, oddly near to his bedroom where he was apparently resting. Looting commenced.
Team Wall had impulse control issues, but at least they’d learnt from their previous mistakes and sent Gatt up the outside of the tower where he could peek at what the ‘powerful undead’ were. He looked through the window and the rotted curtains, where astrological charts decomposed slowly on the walls and the air seemed to move by itself. Ghosts. That was enough to turn them away from going inside, so they needed to get back down to the ground floor without getting killed by an otyugh. They flung the treasure chest down into the reach of the creature so it would start attacking and then abseiled down while it was distracted. Yay! However there was a bullywug guard and his three angry guard drakes who Team Elf had bypassed. They charged the group who ran as quickly as they could into the keep where Team Elf were. The two cultists playing dice didn’t notice the presence of the team until Gatt had already killed one and hidden under their bed. Initiative was rolled and a fight ensued, while the drakes were trying to break down the door and get in. Borngray and a PA/cultist had already started to talk in a poncy way with Team Elf, only to have their banter interrupted by the fight downstairs. He summoned a rapier to his hand and cast thunder wave down the stairs at Gesh and Joggi. The guard drakes kept banging at the door, barking wildly.
Gesh swung his war hammer up the stairs at Borngray’s intern, aiming over Joggi’s head and smashing the boy’s head in. Gatt bounded up the stairs and stabbed Borngray in the face, then hid behind him (probably under his desk). Borngray couldn’t find his enemy, but could find Joggi, who he missed with a shocking grasp spell and then just plain stabbed with his fancy rapier. The drakes broke through and Joggi threw Borngray at them. Gesh’s thunder wave spell proved useless to the resistant drakes, but they were way more receptive to Mablung shooting fire at them. Um… Mablung… that keep’s interior is all wood. Oh dear. Mablung couldn’t really say much, instead his wild magic caused him to only be able to speak in pink bubbles (a language only Tony the Weasel would be able to speak). Gesh brought some of the (wooden) floor down while Mockingbird and Gatt looted Borngray’s bedroom. Gatt tried talking to Borngray’s pet raven, asking whether there was a way out aside from the ground floor which was now all on fire. The raven said he knew a way out and once uncased he flew up to the next floor. The group all ran up after it to an observatory, where the raven managed to fit through the gap between the domed ceiling and the telescope.
The room was large, with statues in each corner, a massive bronze telescope, some star charts and the smell of smoke coming up from the ground floor… from their only exit. Liftron (who they fortunately thought to wake up) was ordered to lift the telescope and the moment he grabbed it, the four statues came to life, ready to attack!
Notice: This is an entirely subjective experience both of Hoard of the Dragon Queen and of the session. Readers; if you think the sections I love or hate of this campaign are wrong, you’re welcome to your opinion as I am to mine. Maybe post your own account, I didn’t see many online and varying campaign reports could be interesting. My lovely players, this is how I remembered it all from behind my screen and from my half-legible notes.