Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition
Hoard Of The Dragon Queen Episode Three, Part One
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 Pastor Solomon (Human Bard & Charlatan)
Vinnie as Joggi Hvolner (Dwarf Monk & Outlander)
The Cult of the Dragon have been robbing towns all over the Greenfields province. The heroes have been tasked with finding out about all of this. They infiltrated the cult’s camp and rescued Leosin; a half-elf monk who knows a lot about the cult. Joggi bought a bucket of guts, Gatt managed to resist murdering everyone and they made it home safely… even if they stank of guts.
First of all a couple of pieces of news about our campaign. The group actually bought miniatures from now on! We don’t use grids but we do employ the use of a whiteboard and sometimes a little tchotchke to represent your character is a nice touch. D&D uses something called, “Inspiration” in fifth edition. If you do something cool or play to your background traits then you get Inspiration. It’s a binary state so you either have it or you don’t. Last session we started cutting out bits of cardboard and writing characters’ names on them so I know who has yet to be given inspiration. We also have some for Mablung’s “Tides of Chaos” ability and the bonuses which Willen can bestow to people, labelled, “You’re Bard”.
The heroes returned to Greenest and needed a rest. They had levelled up in their travels and Gesh needed time to bond with his sword. Not in a creepy way, of course. Possibly not even in a sexual way. I’ve no idea but it involved a locked room and a lot of chanting. Gatt wandered about, Willen pondered what he would be able to scam out of people at the castle. As they were back to faffing, it was time to present a new mission!
Leosin and Governor Tarbraw Nighthill asked Joggi (the sensible one?) to travel south and scout around the camp again. They were surprised and disappointed, much like I was reading that this was what they would have to do. Leosin and his mate Ontharr Frume needed to know what the horde were up to next, if they were planning on moving out again. The players didn’t find out about that last session, did they? No.
There was a little bit of a quibble about lazy ways of finding it out; possibly sending people out to look for signs of travel. There weren’t many. Mablung suggested they ride to each nearby town to warn them. Alex asked me what the names of the nearby towns were and didn’t pick up that I was making a show of having to look in old Advanced Dungeons & Dragons campaign books just to find the answer to his question. If I can’t find the answer in the adventure, there’s a 90% chance it’s not pertinent to this story (65% chance for Hoard of the Dragon Queen thanks to all the missing information in the book). Alex didn’t pick up on this so I looked at the Intelligence stats of the party and passed Steve a note that Gatt remembered they’d already sent messengers out to warn nearby villages two sessions ago. Sometimes it takes a lot of work getting the group on track.
Despite their best efforts to avoid going to the bandit camp, they finally reached it and started spying from afar. The camp was mostly empty. There were a few guards here and there, a few dragon-dogs and a sign offering people a free tent if they didn’t mind bloodstains.
Vinnie must have been confused when he saw guards around the guard tower at the entrance to the camp, but not up it. He clambered up, fell off it and the perplexed guards were ridden down by the other characters. Joggi recovered his dignity a little by grabbing a broom and flinging it at an enemy. Brooms don’t have stats in Dungeons & Dragons, so we decided it would be an improvised weapon with the stats of a staff.
The camp itself was mainly filled with hunters who were packing up and heading off to hunt antelopes for the next people who would pay them, a couple of dragon-dogs trying to find body parts they’d buried and now the group. The big tent which was the blocked location in the last session had been packed up, but an interrogated stray cultist explained that their general was still in the hatchery.
Oh yes, they were here in their first dungeon! Woo! Well, kind of. I’ll admit I’m not a fan of dungeons as they make things slow and board gamey. This is fortunately a small dungeon, as shown here:
This one is filled with a ton of traps, as well as monsters. The biggest problem with this episode is that a lot of the traps were lacking details without the fixes I found online.
In an attempt at being sneaky, Willen cast invisibility on Gatt, who didn’t quite get that he could still be heard while invisible. As the invisibility didn’t carry over to Gatt’s “familiar,” a weasel called Tony, Mablung took him. After a quick lesson in that, Gatt crept past into the dungeon at Point A, handily not noticing the secret door which led to all the behind the scenes workings, marked accordingly on the map. He saw a bunch of bodies which looked like they’d been chest-burstered, decided there wasn’t anything to loot and walked down a set of stairs with giant purple glowing mushrooms on them. The steps were the first trap, turning into a slide and depositing him in a bed of hallucinogenic fungus (Point B). He suddenly saw the room on fire, the biggest pieces of fungus started moving towards him and a halfling was hanging from the ceiling. Oddly the last two were actually happening, not that he would know.
The screaming attracted the rest of the party, just in time to see the violet fungus smacking Gatt around the place. Joggi ran after him, falling into exactly the same trap but being a dwarf, was used to more potent drugs than those the fungus were shedding all over the place. Gatt was knocked to near-death, Joggi raged out and smashed apart the fungus.
They wandered through the cavern, avoided some bats and decided not to go in the big chamber of darkness and trash which was making horrific noise (Point C). It’s a shame as there were troglodytes hiding in there who had developed a primitive worship system based around being in what were effectively the cult’s bins. In the main adventure they’re a combat encounter (of course) but in the fix there were several options for what they could be. Still, brace adventurers that they were, they decided there wouldn’t be anything to loot in there. Technically they were right, but that’s because there’s almost no loot in the adventure.
As the group’s thief, Gatt scouted ahead to Point D and a point which annoyed Steve to no end. He saw the curtain of leather strips to the larder and despite actively searching, didn’t notice a trap. The curtain had poisoned fishhooks hidden in it, so when Gatt pulled it open, he was stuck and poisoned, reducing his maximum hit points (which were tiny already). Steve felt that as a thief, he should have had more opportunity to find them, but the Perception roll I’d made behind the screen wasn’t great, so alas, he didn’t spot it in time. The room went neglected after the trap as the group bee-lined to anywhere which wasn’t covered in poisoned curtains.
In travelling to Point E, the group heard loud noises and saw bursts of lightning from a distant pit. Gatt found a spiked pit trap which led to what turned out to be a guard drake enclosure. Mablung cast sleep on them and before the group went down a set of stairs, they detected ANOTHER trap.
I think they were officially done with traps now. We left the session with the group aware that there was a rolling boulder trap they were near to springing and a dragon-dog barracks ahead of them. The players were half-way through the dungeon and the episode, so they wouldn’t level up until next time, where they would find some boss-level enemies and Gesh would get a chance for revenge!
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.