Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition
Hoard Of The Dragon Queen Episode Four, Part Three & Episode Five
Steve as Gatt (Gnome Rogue & Spy)
Alex as Mablung Raventree (Half-Elf Wild Mage & Noble)
Lee as Gesh (Dragonborn Fighter & Acolyte)
Jacob as Willen aka Mockingbird aka Lenet the Loquacious (Human Bard & Charlatan)
Vinnie as Joggi Hvolner (Dwarf Monk & Outlander)
Jamna Gleamsilver (Gnome Murderhobo)
Liftron the Magnificent (Human lifter of all things)
Tony the Weasel (Gatt’s familiar, a compulsive liar)
The group are caravan guards, spying on the Cult of the Dragon who are lugging their looted hoard up to the Mere of Dead Men. They’ve made friends with a second dodgy gnome and have just been attacked by eagles with stag heads.
As a quick aside, this was the first session not run in my flat. We had to play on a Tuesday and I forgot to check the calendar. A flatmate had a girl round, so we had a last second relocation to Alex’s place. I was very impressed at how quickly and efficiently the group switched location, mainly because of how slow and odd they have been with problem-solving in the game. Speaking of which!
I got scared when prepping this game as I thought the monsters I’d ambushed them with were immune to all basic forms of weapon damage (slashing, piercing, bludgeoning). It turned out they were only resistant, so they would be able to defeat them, it would just take a while. The three perytons attacked and none of the group knew anything about how to deal with them. They didn’t even know their name and dubbed them, “Stagles”. Mablung was frozen in fear, having not made a saving throw to avoid being surprised. He was struck by the talons of one of the stagles (I think the first damage I’d dealt to the coward in the whole campaign). He raised a magical shield to dodge getting gored. Gatt was quickly turned into a stagle chew toy, being clawed by talons, antlered and his dying body locked tight in a stagle’s mouth.
Mablung used his wild magic and accidentally summoned a trifaced modron into this plane. A modron is basically a robot dice with several weird faces. Mockingbird tried to communicate to it but the dimensional shift and attempt to communicate made it run away screaming. The modron’s scream unnerved most of the group.
Shocking everyone, Gesh started using his magic both to cast a shield around himself and also to throw poison magic at the stagle with Gatt in his mouth. It did very little damage but the stagle threw up while keeping Gatt held tight in his jaws. Mablung hid under a cart, then Gesh made the stagle throw up over Gatt again while it was trying to fly away.
Joggi tried vaulting off a tree to fight a stagle and missed, hitting the floor pretty embarrassingly. Mockingbird managed to persuade the stagle magically to let Gatt go and leave. As it was about to, Joggi and Jamna murdered it, leaving the thing on its’ back with Gatt’s body held aloft like some kind of blood and sick-covered trophy.
There was a rumbling from back in the waggons. The group realised that the pair of owlbears in the waggon were waking up. They needed this to be over quickly. Joggi knocked himself out after a scythe-flinging mishap. Mablung cast sleep on the stagle, hoping to keep things down and not agitate the owlbears.
It was too late, however. They woke and shook the waggon over. A caravan guard went inside to see what was wrong and was disembowelled by the gargoyle who was enchanted to kill anyone who went inside other than the waggon’s owner. Gatt and Joggi were woken up by Willen as the owlbears broke free and started killing caravan guards. The whole caravan started trying to speed past them, one tipped over and the players raced to join in with the people fleeing the owlbears. Eventually, after a few more casualties, they were safe and the owlbears were back in their natural habitat.
At night, they searched for somewhere to wash Gatt off as the blood and vomit was starting to harden and the stench was bothering everyone. There wasn’t any, but Mablung started casting illusions of puddles to have Gatt throw himself into the ground. Mockingbird got a glimpse of Rezmir (the dragonborn villain) in one of the cult’s carts while he was invisible and stalking them.
Gatt was framed for the murder of one of the cultists who Jamna had killed and robbed, leading to a lot of robed and non-robed figures following him around. Mockingbird made notes and realised a lot of them were caravan guards who they didn’t suspect at all until now. He passed his notes to Gatt whose only conclusion was, “These people have no robes.” Well done, Gatt (the smartest person in the party, lest we forget).
Finally, the group arrived in Waterdeep! Woo! Mablung’s employer had been murdered by owlbears, but the rest had contracts to settle before following the Cult of the Dragon further north. The thing is, those cultists looked like they weren’t stopping. Gesh bull-headedly decided to try and force his employer to pay him, even though that meant several hours more work. Joggi played the race card to his dwarf employer and was allowed his money early. Mockingbird’s dodgy lawyer employer gave him the money and vanished into a crowd. Gatt ignored his payment and chased the cultists. After enough bother running around and trying to telepathically communicate with the group, Mablung cast sleep on Gesh’s employer who fell in the water. He was “saved” by Gesh and Mablung who demanded Gesh’s early payment in return for saving him.
The cultists were hanging around a dodgy merchant with a sign saying, “Help desperately needed!” The owner, Ardred, was carting building supplies out to people fixing the road between Waterdeep and Neverwinter. People didn’t like travelling up that way, especially as it went through the Mere of Dead Men. It paid reasonably and in short bursts as people tended to abandon their posts and run back to Waterdeep. The group signed on as caravan guards (sigh) so that they could follow the cult’s caravan and remain inconspicuous.
The road out of Waterdeep quickly showed signs of disrepair, drawing near to the coast and through several swampy patches of land. The only signs of civilisation were roadside taverns which seemed a lot more amenable to the Cult of the Dragon. It had reached the point where the cult were fairly open in this land. One such tavern had a bunch of cultists and their dragon-dogs who were asking for, “Sir Kingsley’s Heir.” We went into a bit of Kingsley’s background, that five dragons tried to fuse themselves together into an avatar of Tiamat and he killed them all. Willen acted awkwardly among them but even the other player characters didn’t know who he was, so in theory he was safe. Gatt antagonised them, so they left before a fracas could resume.
The caravan stopped a couple of days later as there were some orcs on the road. And an ogre. The group decided that they would have a look at what was going on. From a distance they looked like orc worshippers of Gruumsh, the war god, trying to pressure an ogre into joining their cause. Joggi’s limited knowledge of religion told him that they appreciate a display of force so he stripped off and started shouting at them. To most onlookers, the dwarf had simply gone mad.
Gatt used the nearby marsh to sneak up on them underwater, using a reed to breathe. The orcs decided they were done with Joggi’s weird attempt at diplomacy and attacked him, so Gatt jumped out of the mud, fell on his face and hid again. Mablung peppered them with magic missiles, Mockingbird mocked them and Gesh thunder waved them. The orcs ran and Joggi failed to chase them down. Gatt asked his weasel familiar if he spoke orc and of course Tony did. Mockingbird tried to pay the ogre to leave the road and he ate it. Apparently the ogre was the simplest of his family, sold into slavery by his siblings and finally found himself free. The orcs saw the ogre on the road and tried to conscript him to the army of Gruumsh.
Joggi, after a few days of constant failure ended up falling into the ogre’s arms and weeping. The scene of a naked dwarf in the rain, in the arms of an ogre, was a bit of a strange mental image for the group. Joggi told the ogre to follow his dreams and do whatever he wanted to do. Shem, the ogre, was spurred on by this and decided that what he wanted to do most of all was to destroy Waterdeep. He bounded off to the south and the group decided that this was not their fault at all.
Finally, after all of this travel, the group arrived at a road house up on a hill, looking over the labyrinth of rocks and misery which was the Mere of Dead Men. They had finally reached their destination!
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.