D&D Tales – Dragon Hatchery (Part One)

Adam continues his descent into roleplaying games in a new D&D campaign.

For our fourth night we had present Ravoprax the dragonborn druid, Artin the dwarven fighter, Carnicula the elven sorcerer, Red the human barbarian and Eldo the forest gnome cleric, with a couple of absences due to people having lives or something. We awoke in the town of Greenest, and wandered into the town square to meet the governor and our friend Leosin, whom we had saved last time from imprisonment in the dragon cultist camp. Presented with a map of the cave system at the back of that camp, ominously titled ‘Dragon Hatchery’, Leosin asked us to go and check it out, find out what was hidden there and try to scupper the plans of the dragon cult. He was heading off to the nearby town of Elturel, to discuss the cultist threat with a companion of his, and if we met him there after scoping out the hatchery we could get some more information a decent reward.

hotdq-episode-3-map

Our trip back to the camp was uneventful, passing through the blood stained area of the fight we had last time, the dead bodies now largely expended carrion. Using the ‘Speak to Animals’ spell gained from following the barbarian ‘Path of the Totem Warrior’ option at level 3, Red spoke to a crow that was pecking out the eye of a dead cultist, and asked it to fly ahead to the camp and scout it out for us. An hour or so later we approached the camp ourselves, the crow having not returned yet, and we saw that almost all of the tents, including the large command tent, had been burned to the ground as the cultists had packed up and moved on. The only cluster still standing was to the east, and as we walked up to them we saw a small group of hunters gathered around a cooking fire, slowly roasting a crow that they had shot out of the sky (it seems this power will only be useful if your DM isn’t a dick).

We started to talk, as they clearly did not want to try and fight us. They were simply hired by the cultists for aide, to help bring them food and other items – they weren’t exactly prepared to throw away their lives for the cult. However, they also weren’t keen on spilling all the secrets of the cult, as they would likely want them dead too for that. Carnicula used a ‘Friend’ spell on the leader, a timed charm that made the target trust the caster – for a limited time. Immediately afterwards, the target would know that they had been put under a spell. We used the chance to ask about the remaining cultists in the cave below, with a few kobolds, cultists and the lieutenants Langdedrosa and Frulum Mondath all still down there. Once the spell wore off, the mentally violated hunter spat on the ground in front of Carnicula, before they all packed up and walked away.

We headed to the cave entrance. Fortunately, the previously bright and sunny day that would have cast our shadows deep into the hatchery as we approached and spoiled the element of surprise had clouded over, with the credit largely being attributed to Eldo Timbers Cracklebang constantly praying to his tempest god Talos.

clouds

Praise Talos.

As we slowly tried to move in, it was clear that there were enemies laying in wait for us behind some of the large stalagmites inside. Red moved forward to reach around and grab an enemy, and as the waiting dragonclaw raised an axe to cut off her arm, Ravoprax turned into a bear and attacked him savagely. Red then drove her sword into his throat, ending him before two more of his fellows sprung into action, facing down the tag team of the barbarian woman and the bear-dragonborn-druid.

lightning attack

Further behind, an ambush drake jumped down from a ledge above right onto Eldo, ripping into the gnome and nearly one-shotting him. One of Eldo’s abilities is for an arc of lightning to strike anyone who melee attacks him, so with 1HP he managed to deal some nice retaliation damage to the drake. Then, with the help of a firebolt from Carnicula, he finished the ambush drake off with ‘inflict wounds’ – literally ripping the life from the now dried husk of a lizard. Meanwhile, Ravoprax took some substantial damage from one of the dragonclaws, losing the bear transformation. Backing off, he finished him off with a dragon breath. As Red fought the other, cutting open his stomach (which was miraculously kept in place by his armour), Artin finished him off with an arrow from a support position with the spell casters. Three kobolds then appeared at the end of the cave, and Red, after activating rage, ran up and cut one down. Artin ran in from the back and ruined the second, while Ravoprax used a thornwhip spell to grab the last and finish him off.

 

We pressed on, moving down a corridor and into a nearby room where we found a cultist asleep and snoring loudly. We put on our various stolen robes, with Eldo balancing on Carnicula’s shoulders to wear the bear-sized robe we created last time. We started to talk to him, unconvincingly as we all threw terrible rolls. Eldo managed to hit Carnicula in the face, and when he cried out in pain from within the robes the cultist threw knives at him. Red tried to attack him, and failed so badly that she fell prone on the ground. Fortunately the bad luck didn’t continue, Ravoprax killed the man and we moved on. But not before looting the body, as is tradition.

As we pressed on, we came to another room. It appeared to be a barracks, now largely bare except one man drinking at the table, wearing ostentatious purple armour and an ornate dagger and scabbard with a dragon design. Ravoprax, Carnicula and Red all decided to stumble in, pretending to be drunk, while the others waited at the door…

Come back next time for the conclusion of the Dragon Hatchery episode, including lightning, infanticide and vengeance!

Adam

 

 

 

D&D Tales – Talos Would Not Approve

Adam continues his descent into roleplaying games in a new D&D campaign.

For the third session, nearly our whole adventuring group was present. While Daria the monk lay upstairs in the inn recovering from rat inflicted wounds, and Amber the ranger was away at army, Eldo Timbers Cracklebang, Artin Holderhek and Carnicula Vorator all approached the town of Greenest. Trudging into a town still slightly smouldering and aflame they found a relief effort under way following the attack from the dragon cultists. In the square they found the town governor in discussion with Ravoprax, Nausicaä and Red, all now level 2. He had been telling us about a purple cloaked woman who oversaw the sacking of the tax wagon, stealing gold as part of the cultist plan to raise the dragon queen Tiamat. Welcoming the new recruits, Governor Nighthill requested that we all as a group follow the cultists that lay waste to Greenest and scout their camp to find out their plans.

buster army

We were then approached by a hooded man, who asked us to look out for Leosin Erlanthar, his brother in arms. Both Red and Artin were familiar with Leosin, in fact he had summoned both to Greenest to help with the cultist problem. During the fighting the previous night, Leosin had been knocked out and captured. It is imperative that the cult doesn’t find out what he knows about their plans.

The group headed down the road after the debris and tracks of the cultists. Ravoprax, as a level 2 druid, used the Wild Shape ability to transform into a hawk to scout ahead. A mile in front he saw a group of cultists and kobolds gathered round a cooking fire. We sneaked up and Carnicula cast minor illusion, making the image of a small dragon made of fire float above the camp. All the enemies bunched together, falling down before the apparition. Red, after I asked the DM how solid a massive nearby boulder was, attempted to knock it over onto the kobolds. It was such a terrible idea it needed a total score of 25 to succeed… and it didn’t. So Red smacked face first into the boulder, knocking out a tooth.

wile eThe cultists and kobolds all turned to attack the nearby fighter and barbarian, and one hit a critical on Red that would have killed pretty much anyone else – barbarian HP is pretty decent even at level 2. Ravoprax then turned into “a motherfucking bear” (Wild Shape is probably my favourite ability so far) and bit one cultist’s head straight off, tore through another’s shoulder and took out his chest, and mashed the last to the ground,  Eldo burned up two kobolds with Sacred Flame, and Red cut two in half with a swing of her great axe. Nausicaa again “sassily” crossbowed one and Artin killed another.

bear

Carnicula, having been absent from the previous game, complained that this all wasn’t as hard as we had let on and, despite the fact that he had kept to the outside of the fight, he thought there had been no danger. An ambush drake then appeared behind him and nearly killed him in one hit, while another confronted Ravoprax. Carnicula hurriedly tried to heal himself and hide from the first one behind a tree, doing an awful job of it. Red and Ravoprax, in his bear guise, made short work of the other ambush drake. Finally, together with Red, Artin finished off the other ambush drake before it ate Carnicula.

ambush drakeWe looted and healed, and Carnicula tried to quietly cut off a portion of one of the cultists to eat, rolling terribly. As Eldo seemed the most disgusted, he cast a mental message pretending to be his god Talos, convincing Eldo to trust him and stay close to him. The players then started holding hands. It was weird. We also stole the cloaks of the cultists, and Eldo decided to stitch two together to make one for Ravoprax specifically in his bear transformation, meaning we were left without enough cloaks for everyone. Ravoprax scouted ahead again as a hawk, and soon we came to a large camp with high walls and a single entrance.

While deciding what to do, whether to send for word back to Greenest or go in, Artin scaled down the scree on the side of the camp, sneaking in for a closer look. Aware that there were at least the numbers attacking the town the previous night, and potentially more, Red, Nausicaa and Ravoprax adopted a more careful approach. Using two cultist cloaks, and relying on reverence for dragonborns, the three walked in the front entrance with Ravoprax leading. while Eldo and Carnicula went around the top of the camp, staying hidden but level in case support is needed.

The camp seemed quiet, but nearby were four dragon claws overseeing prisoners chopping wood. After some very high charisma checks, we chatted to them, We convinced the leader Bishtar to give us two of the slaves, and we took them to one side. They were of little help though, just telling us roughly how many enemies there were (too many to fight) and begging us to help them and the others. On the other side of the camp, Artin approached a large tent and lifted up a peg in corner, seeing a woman in a purple cloak yelling at a blue half-dragon (Langdedrosa), berating him for wasting time with the adventurers the previous night rather than securing the tax wagon and the treasure.

Meanwhile up on the ridge, Carnicula drank some of Eldo’s dragon blood from his bottomless flask (from the first night, as winner of the Ring of Punchfight). As the DM rolled for the result, Carnicula looked on excitedly as he expected to get some sort of magical dragon powers… then all of his hair fell out.

dragons blood

Next to the command tent was Leosin, tied up. Artin moved in to try and rescue him, while Eldo cast a fog on the guard tower as a distraction. Ravoprax and Artin freed Leosin and helped pull him up the ridge. The dragonborn then convinced Bishtar that up at the entrance we lost the first two slaves, and sent him and the remaining dragon claw to go and help find them, saying he would guard the last three slaves. He freed them, and as Bishtar and his friend got to Red and Nausicaa they were dispatched quickly. Before we departed, Carnicula again drank another shot of dragons blood, and rendering everyone nearby (so just us) vulnerable to piercing damage. So we left the camp pretty quickly.

Back at Greenest Leosin told us he was part of ‘The Harpers’ who stand for justice and against tyranny. He needs to talk to his superiors, and will talk to us later about dealing with the dragon cult. We got a small reward for our efforts and a free stay at the inn while we planned our next move.

…finally Carnicula had one more shot of dragons blood, and turned invisible.

Everyone levelled up, so Red, Ravoprax and Nausicaa all hit level 3. This is when most classes can start making choices for specialities to get more interesting abilities. For me, as tempting as ‘Path of the Berserker’ was, I decided on the other barbarian option of ‘Path of the Totem Warrior’ for Red as it should be a little more interesting and fun.

Come back next time as we continue to investigate the dragon cult, and almost certainly stop the raising of Tiamat before she lays waste to the entire Sword Coast.

Adam 

D&D Tales – Not Playing Around Any More

 Adam continues his descent into roleplaying games in a new D&D campaign

Following on from the first session where we rolled for stats and had an all out brawl against each other to get a handle on our new characters, we had the real start of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen campaign. Present for the evening was Ravoprax the dragonborn druid, Daria Do’Urden the half-drow monk, Nausicaä the half-genasi (genie) bard, and my character Red, the human barbarian. All of our characters had been troubled by dreams that compelled them to head to the town of Greenest. We all approached the Green Fields area, south east of Baldur’s Gate, at the same time. As we reached the top of the hill, we saw the town burning, with an adult Blue Dragon hovering above and attacking.

We entered the town from the south, and were met by a fleeing family protected by a woman with a shield. Running after them were 8 kobolds; reptilian humanoids that worship dragons. Outnumbered and without any real planning, we ran straight in. The group made short work of two kobolds, but the largest took to the sky just out of reach. After Ravoprax, clearly terrifying the villagers with his appearance, took out another two with a lightning breath, the flying beast knocked him out by dropping a rock on his head.

Dropping a rock.
On his head.

Their numbers and our low level was proving more perilous than we had expected. Using the ‘Rage’ ability (as in life, my favourite response to any situation), Red took out two more, Nausicaä “sassily” shot one and Daria broke another’s neck by punching it so hard.

Kobold

In the whole of our previous campaign, our first KO didn’t come until the final fight. This time we had one in our first, and more to come during the evening. The DM wasn’t playing around any more. We grabbed and questioned the last kobold. They were commanded by the half-dragon Langdedrosa, who had ordered them to gather treasure. The cultists were planning on raising Tiamat, the Dragon Queen. Apparently they were doing this non-violently, but as that was clearly total bullshit we killed the remaining kobold. The thankful villagers asked who we were, in case they needed to call on us again. The DM had been bothering us for a potential name for our adventuring company for a while…

“We’re the Feministas!” (cue theme music, which we decided was the start of Whiplash, and Charlie’s Angels style posing)

With more cultists on the way, we all ran to the keep to talk to the Governor. He told us the cultists were raiding the tax wagon, and begged us to go through the sewers to save people trapped in the temple. Then we could secure a path of evacuation for everyone to the nearby forest.

Normal rats. Not even ones that are either geniuses or insane.As soon as we entered the sewers, Daria was swarmed by rats and knocked out as they gnawed at her. Normal rats. This party was not the hardy adventuring bunch we were used to being. We pushed them back with torches, healed her and threw rations to them. Sneaking out the other side, we spied a cultist in the bushes. Ravoprax entangled him, and Nausicaä put another to sleep. Nearby, kobolds were about to burn the temple, so Red eviscerated one and Nausicaä performed a Kirby style sword flip from Smash Bros. to kill the other.

kirby

The people in the temple refused to leave, not trusting the dragonborn Ravoprax as cultists and a dragon were currently attacking their town, so Red told them to run for the hills. Meanwhile the sleeping cultist drowned, as we left him face down in the river. We revived him, as he looked more important than the concious one, passing this act off as some form of lazy water-boarding. We dumped the first cultist into the sewer as rat bait, then headed back to the keep to question our captive.

At this point Amber Braunanvil, the mountain dwarf ranger, joined us for the rest of the evening, sitting down and simply stating that the room “smells like nerds”. Accurate. We questioned the cultist and learned of a camp to the south east, ‘Skyreach’, and that they have nearly gathered enough gold to raise Tiamat, after raiding several towns. We chucked him to the rats too, and looked out at the square.

There was around 50 kobolds, far too many for us to fight, along with 12 cultists and the half-dragon leader. They surrounded a gallows with an old man and several children lined up to it. On the ramparts of the keep we were given siege crossbows to fire at the circling dragon. Instead, we tried to save the civilians. Amber fired a bow and rolled a natural 20, cutting all of the ropes of the nooses, but cultists grab the prisoners and put knives to their throats. While we dithered and decided what to do, the dragon killed two guards. More time wasting, and he suddenly struck and dealt huge damage to the whole party, knocking out those with lower HP (all forgetting, again, that we are still level 1) before flying off.

blue

Langdedrosa then issued a challenge, saying that if one of us fights him one on one, with no interference from either side, then he’ll let the hostages go. If we don’t meet his challenge, he’ll kill them and walk away with the gold anyway. As the character with the most health, and possibly most set for melee combat, Red decided to go. She walked out into the square to face the imposing half-dragon.

I was fairly worried at this point, as the DM had made it clear that things would be more unforgiving. I was expecting a Viper Vs. Mountain sort of deal, ending with my character being wiped out and flat out killed at level 1. The fight went as well as it could have done, with Red rushing in with rage straight away. Nausicaä taunted him from the ramparts (fairly tamely), somehow causing minimal damage. However, the half-dragon, clearly much more powerful than the barbarian, smashed her with a double attack, bringing her to her knees. With a sword at her throat, he gloated that he was a man of his word, sparing her life as she stared down at the dirt.

As he and his cultists left, their treasure claimed, Red swore blood vengeance against the half-dragon who defeated her so easily. The hostages were free and the town was safe, but the group could do nothing to stop the dragon cult from furthering their plans.

The five of us all levelled up, but this session taught us that our first campaign really was a beginner’s adventure. Characters were KO’d by falling rocks and swarms of rats. Things were about to get much more dangerous, and if we weren’t more careful we’ll be in serious trouble.

Adam

 

Next instalment here!