Saturday, September 5, 2015

D&D In case you missed it . . . Hoard of the Dragon Queen thus far

In Case You Missed It – Horde of the Dragon Queen so far . . .

The Sword Coast of Faerun

The group (Raiann, Jacen, Corrin, and Ferald) was heading to Greenest to meet with a merchant to travel as bodyguards. When they neared Greenest, they discovered the small town in flames and being attacked by a Blue Dragon. They rushed to town to assist in what way they could. They were able to save a family from a group of kobolds and escort them to the keep, which was acting as a safehouse for those able to escape the attack. It was clear they were the most formidable defense this town now had and it was up to them to help the town guard survive through the night.
Not long after arriving, a battering ram was able to knock down the gate of the sally port, and it was up to the players to defend the sally port while it was mended. During this attack, the Blue Dragon kept swooping in to take potshots at the keep, but the players were able to chase it off. It did not return during the assault that night.
After the dragon left and the group fended off the attack on the keep directly, they were able to catch a glimpse of Frulam Mondath, which Corrin (secretly being a spy within the Cult of the Dragon) was able to confirm was a high-ranking member of the Cult known as a Wearer of Purple. The Governor of Greenest, Governor Nighthill, then asked the group to kidnap a member of the Cult to find out what was going on. It was also noticed that it seems a group of raiders was trying to set the mill on fire. Investigate the mill and bring someone back for interrogation.
It was at that time Loran came out of the keep (a new player had joined us during our second session). Loran’s family was from Baulder’s Gate, but they owned the mill in Greenest. He was sent to check on things at the mill, when the attack happened. He joined the group as they went to investigate the mill.
Upon arrival, the group was ambushed by a group of spear throwers waiting in the loft. The fire was for show to lure out a hardy group of defenders. After defeating the cultists, the group waited for reinforcements, then went back to the keep with their prisoner. From him they learn that the Cult of the Dragon has been raiding towns and villages in the Greenlands for weeks and taking whatever of value they could find. Having gotten all the info they could, the group sought to see where else they could be of use.
Turned out the local temple was being assaulted and they needed to get the folks out quick. They were able to time the patrol of Kobolds pretty easily outside the temple and sneak right in and get the townsfolk taking refuge, along with the priests, out before anyone was harmed.
In the early morning hours after a long and arduous night, a Half-Blue Dragon named Langdredosa Cyanwrath strolled to the front gate - flanked by a large group of kobolds - demanding Greenest’s champion fight him in single combat. Raiann rose to the challenge and met him outside. She was unable to defeat him. Cyanwrath felled her, and laughed at the weakness that Greenest had to offer before kicking her in the face. He then called a full withdrawal from the town.
After getting some rest, they were approached by a monk to look for a fellow monk named Leosin  Erlanthar. He was believed to have been captured by the cult and taken to their camp. Governor Nighthill also asked the group to find their camp and gather what info they could. Another “two birds, one stone” situation. They then set out to track the raiders, which wasn’t too hard with the gigantic trail they left.
                On the way to the camp, the group discovered two groups of cultists: a group of lazy stragglers including some kobolds, and a rearguard set in place to stop any trespassers (or send a runner back to warn the camp).  The first group was approached by Corrin. They told him they were thinking of deserting  because it was not what they expected, and they were convinced to do just that. They mentioned the rearguard’s location to the group, and the two parted ways. Knowing the location of the rearguard, the group simply avoided them so as not to cause disruption in any way.
                Once arriving at camp, everyone just assumed they were cultists as well. There were many small groups rolling in with loot throughout the day and evening, so another group of five arriving near dusk was nothing out of the ordinary. The camp was packed, and a party was getting into full swing. Everyone was excited about their successful looting over the last few days. It wasn’t difficult to figure out what it was for. Many intoxicated cultists would greet any of the party that walked up to them by outstretching their right hand with all five fingers splayed and declaring “Praise Tiamat’s Glory!” Some would curl two fingers back to show her strength was still hidden.

There were many groups of hunters in the area that supply food for the camp – they were  in and out at all times of day and night. The camp was full of a lot of cultists and kobolds to feed, so there was always food coming in.
Kobolds were easy to manipulate and were only used as tools by the cult.
Greenest was the largest and the closest raid to their camp. They had been staging raids all over the Greenfields for weeks to collect anything of value. All this loot was then stored in the cavern at the back of the camp, which was not accessible to everyone. 
Tiamat – the Mother of Dragons – shall return! And on that day, all nations of the world
A Wearer of Purple named Rezmir – who also happens to be a Half-Black Dragon - seems to be leading the charge. Frulam Mondath handles day-to-day operations. Cyanwrath is Mondath’s right hand. All three are present at the camp. The group couldn’t get anywhere near them.
Leosin the missing monk is of special interest to Rezmir

                The group was able to cause a distraction by spilling a party-goer’s beer to start a bit of a scuffle, and sneak Leosin and a few other prisoners out undetected. They brought them back to Greenest, where they were asked by Leosin to head back to the cultists’ camp and keep an eye on things. If anything were to leave, be brought in, or otherwise, he wanted to know as much as the group could find out.
Leosin offered to pay a decent sum to each of them once they arrived in the town of Elturel (where he would head out to in the morning), and told them to rest up and head out in the morning – the cult probably wouldn’t make any major changes in the time being. The group didn’t know, but Leosin was wrong about that. When the monk went missing, Rezmir ordered a full withdrawal of the camp and had them begin moving on with the treasure hoard.
They arrived back at the camp to discover this, much to their dismay. There were a few hunters itting around a fire they were able to chat up, but the hunters did do much more than grunt and give short answers. The group was able to find out that after the discovery of Leosin’s disappearance, Rezmir ordered the withdrawal, and they loaded a lot of crates onto wagons to cart them all out. Mondath, Cyanwrath, some guards, and the dragon-dogs (kobolds) remained. The hunters had a good-paying gig going on with the cultists. Though they were not cultists themselves, they were able to make a mighty fine living off of them.
The group decided to head into the cavern at the rear of the camp and dispatched a couple of guards, after the guards had set up an ambush for them. Further in the cave, they find a trapped staircase (the hard way) that causes Corrin to slide down the steps and discover (the hard way) a handful of Violet Fungi, which they eliminate.
In the following room was a large group of Stirge. They were  awakened by the characters as they moved noisily through the room, causing the normal bats they were hiding amongst to cause a blinding cloud of flapping, squeaking mess. The battle with the Stirge was difficult, so the characters decided to go rest in one of the (former) camp’s tents.
In the morning, they continued the exploration of the cave. They discovered a very odd locker full of various meat carcasses. The next room they came across was a room with a large cage in it. The cage was used to house several guard drakes, and their kobold trainers were in this room. The kobolds were easily dispatched, but the drakes were not fought. The group saw no point in this in fighting a few rowdy drakes.
The next room the group came across was the room used as a barracks by the kobolds. They were easily dispatched. The noise, however, alerted the warriors in the next room – Cyanwrath and a couple Berserkers – to the presence of some intruders. They are waiting at the bottom of a long and narrow staircase. This was a rough battle. As soon as Raiann (who was in the front) reached the bottom of the stairs, Cyanwrath laughed: “You survived! I don’t know whether to be disappointed or pleased! A bit of both, I think!” He then let out stream of frost breathe, which leveled most of the group.
Corrin was able to deal enough damage to weaken him. Raiann was able to recover from being knocked out and dealt the final blow to him. The Berserkers weren’t too far behind. The group then took a few minutes to exam the intricate designs carved into the stone walls: several dragons (most of which were black dragons) and a five-headed dragon emerging from a volcano. Under the carving of what they presumed was Tiamat, there was a large treasure chest which turned out to be trapped with a poison gas (and in turn nearly wiped the party all over again). The chest was lugged out of the room, and in it they found some jewelry which Raiann persuaded the group she should keep.
After a couple of near-death experiences, the group decided to take another rest out in one of the camp’s tents again. In the morning they awoke to find the hunters gone, but a lone Gnomish hunter returning with a supply of rabbits (a new player had joined our group). The hunter introduced himself as Toser, and was confused the cultists were nowhere in sight. He needed to sell his rabbits to make money, so Corrin bought them at a ridiculous price. Toser then joined up with the group to figure out more about the cult. He was secretly a Druid and was curious what was in the cave - he had heard the rumor around the camp of dragon eggs being kept.
They continued down to the shrine-like room Cyanwrath was killed in, then moved on to the next room, which turned out to be a cage 3 black dragon eggs were being held in, protected by a pair of guard drakes. A group of kobolds were also lurking in the room and ambushed the group. During this fight, the group discovered that Toser was able to shapeshift into a bear.
Once the drakes and kobolds had been defeated, the group discovered a Roper had been watching them the entire time. It was able to communicate with them (oddly enough), and tried to convince them they should be his food. They recalled the meat locker earlier in the dungeon, and Ferald offered to show him where it was. The group agreed to meet outside.
While Ferald was away with the Roper, the rest of the group tried to decide what should be done with the eggs. Corrin and Raiann wanted to destroy them, Jacen though they should be brought to Leosin, and Toser wanted to give them a chance at life – just because they were Black Dragons didn’t make them inherently evil, did it? They all decided the best course of action was to take them Leosin, and he could figure out what to do with them. Toser would carry one, and Jacen and Raiann would each carry one.
On their way out, they discovered a small group of cultists hiding near the exit. It turned out there was an entire path the group had missed on the way in. Up the path, they found two rooms used as barracks and storage by the remaining cultists, and also Frulam Mondath’s quarters. The dispatch all the guards and Mondath, and discover a map sprawled out on her desk.
The map had markings all over it noting the areas that were raided by the cult. It also had an arrow pointing from Greenest West to the town of Beregost, then North up the Trade Way. Next to the map was a note which read “Everything must be freighted north to Naerytar. Rezmir allowed us to keep some pearls, a ring, and a handful of small stones.” Her Cult of the Dragon Regalia was also in the room. The guards that were in the previous two rooms were also carrying elaborate scabbards designed with the Cult in mind, so the group decided to take these to help them blend if necessary. Corrin knew these were not part of the Cult’s regalia, but it couldn’t hurt their chances.
From the cavern, the group headed back to greenest to check in with Governor Nighthill. Here they found the owners of the jewelry from the trapped chest, which Raiann offered back to them. They were left horses by Leosin, which they used to then continue on to the city of Elrutel (200 miles, which took about 6 days).
They arrived at Elrutel and found Leosin at a well-known tavern named A Pair of Black Antlers. This was a rowdy bar full of members of the Order of the Gauntlet, who Ondarr Frume – Leosin’s ally andjovial Palladin of Torm – was the leader of. When the party arrived, Leosin and Frume told them to enjoy themselves. The group had a good time competing with several individuals in tavern including sparring, cards, and horse races (this involved going outside). In the evening, Frume’s squire brought them to a room where Frume and Leosin were sitting waiting for them. Frume, for once, looked serious.
                Frume and Leosin – as representatives of the Order of the Gauntlet and the Harpers respectively – are looking to form a resistance against the cult. The Emerald Enclave had agreed to join them as well. Frume and Leosin both offered the group a chance to join their orders. Raiann and Jacen chose to join the Order of the Gauntlet. Ferald and Corrin joined the Harpers. Toser wanted to meet a representative of the Emerald Enclave in Baulder’s Gate. Loran had no real interest in joining any of the groups so abstained, but still agreed the Cult needed to be stopped.
                The group’s new mission then became to blend in with the caravan the Cult was a part of to find out where the treasure was going, and to what ends.  It would take the cult 25-30 days to reach Baulder’s Gate, and the group was able to take a boat from Elrutel up the river to Baulder’s Gate to meet with Leosin’s contact Ackyn Selebon. The trip up-river only took 3 days. During the voyage, they were attacked by a group of Bullywugs and their Giant Frogs.

Baulder's Gate

                Upon arrival in Baulder’s Gate, everyone decided to go their separate ways, and chose to meet up later at the bar. Loran went home. Jacen and Corrin decided to hang out together now that they were home. Raiann wanted to follow Corrin because she was getting suspicious of Corrin (no one at this point knew of his connections to the cult). Toser wandered around the wilderness for a bit just outside of town. Ferald chose to play his lute in several bars to try and make some gold. 
                Corrin trusted Jacen and Raiann enough to bring them to Grand Duke Portyr, whom it turned out Corrin was working for the entire time. He explained to the Grand Duke everything he had discovered in the Greenfields. The Grand Duke asked him to keep an eye on things and wished him luck.
                [Written entirely by me to add flavor to the adventure]

After leaving the Grand Duke’s, Corrin and Jacen both felt the sensation of someone pickpocketing them. They reached into their pouches and discovered that nothing was missing, but instead there was note written in Thieves Cant: “The Bee and the Bagpipes.” BB’s was a very popular tavern in Baulder’s Gate, and it was a common hangout for anyone looking for anything. BB’s drew a large crowd. It was infamous for never closing its doors to customers, for the heavy stock of honey-based brews, and also for never having a moment pass in which bagpipes cannot be heard. The tavern employed a rotating shift of performers to ensure that the music never stoped (8 performers total, giving each performer a 4 hour shift 5 days a week).
                When walking in to BB’s, Corrin saw an old contact of his from the Thieve’s Guild sitting in the corner. It was an elf named Sly. Sly was adamant that even though there were enough seats for the three of them to sit that Raiann needed to sit at another table to avoid arousing suspicion. She refused, and Corrin agreed that she was okay to stay with him.
                The Guild was worried about the reappearance of Corrin’s old partner Lianna. Lianna was also Jacen’s mentor when he first found himself on the streets. She had disappeared after Corrin and her failed to steal from Grand Duke Portyr (which is how Corrin become employed under him). Sly explained she had resurfaced recently after being assumed dead and demanded help from the Guild. She claimed she needed them to cause a distraction, but would not give any more information than that.
                The Guild needed Jacen and Corrin to find her. The Guild was unable to tail her because she was far too observant. With Corrin and Jacen searching for her, it wouldn’t seem like the Guild was involved – and that couldn’t be known. Several members had seen her running around town, but she had been seen visiting Ackyn Selebon pretty often. The three decided to check in with the rest of the group as discussed, and head to Selebon. The group decided this was the next natural step and they headed to the Blackgate section of Baulder’s Gate.
Upon reaching Selebon’s stand, they asked him several questions, which he answered to the best of his ability. Seleborn told the group that he had been suspicious of her from the get-go. She had no ties to the merchant class, and had been attempting to procure passage for a northbound caravan. He had talked to his contacts in the Harpers, and had even asked a few fellow members of the Emerald Enclave, but no one had reported back to him.  She had not left the city going North, and that’s all he knew right then. Several members of both the Emerald Enclave and the Harpers had gone missing while trying to tail Lianna.
He wanted them to sneak into crime scenes to try and gather info. He was very clear that the City Guard could not know of the Harper’s the Enclave’s or Lianna’s involvement in anything going on. If the Guard got involved, they would not be able to get the info they needed out of Lianna.
He was also able to induct Toser into the Emerald Enclave.

They decided to spend one night doing a steak-out on Selebon’s place to see if any members of the cult came at night. It didn’t pan out very well. Ferald pretended to sleep outside the tavern across from his place, and ended up not sleeping at all. Corrin had cast the Alarm spell on his front door, only to have it go off when a drunk stumbled into the door. The whole steak-out was a bust. The decided to instead follow Selebon’s idea and start looking for murder scenes.
They discovered pretty quickly how to fast-talk the guards into allowing them a look at the murder scene. They discovered from these scenes that in almost all cases the kill came from two daggers to the back from the same assailant, and the body was then dragged (literally) to the location it was found. They continued this for three nights before they discovered a pattern in the murders: all the crime scenes appeared in the Eastway by the docks. All the deaths were members of either the Harpers or the Emerald Enclave, and were all excellent trackers (as found out from Selebon).
The last crime scene they investigated was different than the rest of them. They were attracted there by a lot of screams not far from their location. Upon arrival they found a body that had been killed right on site. There was seemingly not enough time to remove the body. Corrin recognizes Lianna at the site – she wasn’t able to get away from the murder scene before civilians came around the corner, so she had pretended to be a civilian herself – seconds before she sees him begins to slink away
Corrin quietly tells the rest of the group that he saw her, and they decided to tail her. Loran sends his invisible demon familiar into the sky to keep an eye on her, so they easily follow her to a building where the demon could not see into. They then relied on their tracking skills to go through a few alleys and arrive at a small inconspicuous building.
This building was the safehouse Lianna was using, and inside she was found with several low-ranking cult members. She tried to convince Jacen and Corrin that joining the Cult would make them stronger. They could all work together again. They of course denied this request. Lianna was too smart to stick around to answer questions, and used her Scroll of Teleport, leaving the group to fight the handful of cultists. In the corner of the room, Corrin found a Headband of Thief’s Light – which the group decided he could keep (being a thief without darkvision) – and he put it on to discover he couldn’t take it back off.

[End of the DM-Original Story]

After the situation with Lianna had been reported back to Sly, the group hung around Baulder’s Gate waiting for the Cult to start making their way through. This took about 20 days. Once the cult arrived and started setting things up with a caravan, the group got hired on to the same caravan with no problems.
The journey north took nearly 40 days. Several events took place on the way, but the most important was when the caravan stopped in Daggerford. At this point, another new player joined our game (this was the last one, but we were about to lose the two players who previously joined the group late) in the form of Clarissa, Cleric of Zeus. Also joining the group was Jamna Gleamsilver (a gnome rogue who seemed altogether someone to be cautious of) and Azbara Jos (an odd looking man wearing robes wearing a wool cap). Jamna seemed very interested in everything Azbara was doing, but the two never talked. Azbara only communicated with Cult members, which seemed odd because no one from the Cult had been friendly towards any individual for the entire trip. It was also noticed by Raiann that the man had a shaved head with strange tattoos, which was common of folks from Thay.
A few days after leaving Daggerford, the group starts to notice Jamna seems interested in the group, and she also gave the impression she picks up every bit of information possible about other people and her surroundings (including noticing them watching her).
A few days South of Waterdeep while the group is sitting down for breakfast, Jamna approached them and fished a piece of curled bone out of their oatmeal. She explained the cult had placed it in the bowl and when swallowed, the bone would uncurl and to pierce their guts in slow and agonizing death. She then casually walked away and told them she would meet with them that evening.
That night she came to them once everyone had seemingly one to bed. She knows they don’t work for the same people, but share an interest in stopping the Cult of the Dragon: the enemy of my enemy is my friend sort of situation. She tries to get as much info from the group as she can, and only tells them that Azbara is a Red Wizard of Thay in return. A few members of the group were able to discern that Jamna was not telling everything she knew, though there were no lies. No one pushed her for more info, though.
Two days later, the camp awoke to a murder near one of the Cult’s wagons. It was a cultist who was killed. Another member of the Cult blamed Raiann, claiming it was her since his friend was killed by a sword (Raiann wielded a pair of scimitars). Upon closer inspection, it was discovered the killing blow probably came from a short sword and not a scimitar, but the cultist claimed the group was trying to cover up for one of their own. Another person in the caravan suggest that the cultists (unknown to be cultists) open up the wagon to make sure nothing was taken, and the quickly drop the subject. For the remainder of the trip, all the cultists glared at the group with disdain.
Once arriving in Waterdeep, the group noticed the Cultists heading straight for the north gate to look for another caravan. They found out that the Cult was planning to head further north, and it would be two days before they left. This time, the caravan was part of the High Road Charter Company – a group of guilds trying to help rebuild the road to Neverwinter and the former city itself. The journey north was 200 miles and would take 10 days. This is when the gaming group lost Toser.
Their day in the city proved useful for Corrin. He was able to discover that it was Jamna who had killed the cultist on the last caravan. She also was insistent that she would be staying with the party until she found out what was happening with all the treasure the Cult had amassed.  
Joining the caravan north once more, 10 days later they found themselves at an old Roadhouse which was now used as a hostelry. Everything from the cult wagons was unloaded into a warehouse room. Loran sent his demon into the room to keep an eye on things. The demon discovered that all the stuff from the cult was then brought into another room inside the warehouse, and the second room was kept under lock-and-key by the half-orc Bog Luck that ran the hostel.
After everyone went to sleep, the group decided to check out this locked room. They found the room partially empty – a lot less was in here than the caravan had brought in. The reason for this became apparent when they found a secret hatch in the floor, and a lot of the loot in a secret underground passageway. In this passage were several lizardfolk hauling the loot, which the group dispatched of very quickly. They followed the passage to its muddy end, to find it let out just behind the tree line near the roadhouse and down into the Mere of Dead Men. They followed the obvious tracks the lizardfolk had been using for a while.
The mere, as one might expect, was very wet. After a full day of travel, they stopped to rest at what looked to be a small camp made by the lizardfolk. Just past that camp, “dry land” gave way to nothing but bog. While resting up, a group of lizardfolk came towards the camp from the way the group was heading towards. They dispatched these lizardfolk easily, and one of them surrendered in the end. He spoke in a pidgin common, mixing in a lot of Draconic, so Raiann eventually just communicated n full Draconic with him.
The lizardfolk introduced himself as Snapjaw. He was not happy with the way they were treated by the Bullywugs the Cult used for their work. The Lizardfolk were treated as second-class citizens.  He believed the group was his way of ending this mistreatment for good. He offered to show them the way to Castle Naerytar if they would help him. The group agreed to help.

This was the end of the last session, and Loran has since left the group as well. Raiann has chosen to swap from being a dual-wielder to a 2-hander. Ferald has decided to become Gnome Wizard who specializes in Illusions. Corrin and Clarissa have both decided not to make any changes. Corrin still has no idea what the curse on his headband is.