Monthly Archives: November 2014

On the Road 2 – DM’s Notes

This session was essentially a detour from the main plot of Hoard of the Dragon Queen.  The module as written calls for the party to arrive in Baldur’s Gate several days ahead of the cultists with the assumption that they’ll simply pass time waiting for their targets to arrive.  This seemed like a wasted opportunity for exploration in one of the most iconic cities of the Sword Coast.  I’ve been enjoying the Tyranny of Dragons story line overall, but one of my few complaints is that there are large portions of it that lack supporting details.  I would’ve preferred to see a bigger book at a higher price that included more information (or ANY information about the cities that the adventure passes through.  For example, I believe that the journey from the Dragon Hatchery all of the way to Baldur’s Gate covers 2-3 pages of the book.  As such, I came up with this week’s adventure largely using material from the recently published Murder in Baldur’s Gate sourcebook.

I used the city material as my setting but decided to pass on the whole “return of Bhaal” story line.  One “evil god tries to return to the Realms” story line per campaign is plenty for me.  Anyway, I took them through several of the more interesting areas of the city and tried to highlight some of the disparities between rich and poor in Baldur’s Gate.  I also wanted to emphasize the influence of the Guild so they seemed like the perfect villains to use in this case.  Who knows?  Maybe they’ll show up later in the employ of the Cult of the Dragon.  I’ve been mostly using published material since starting with this particular group, so it was slightly nerve-wracking to put together an investigation-based adventure of my own.  It took me several revisions to get to the point where I felt like I had left enough bread crumbs to follow but in the end it came off as I had hoped.

Overall, this was an enjoyable romp through the city and a nice break from dealing with potentially world-shaking events.  Next week: back to stalking the Cult of the Dragon as they carry their ill-gotten treasures northward.

On the Road 2 – Emmerik’s Report

Arriving in Baldur’s Gate after some few short days of river travel (with Caelum still ill – this time mostly from snake venom) the group found Pry in a riverside tavern while they shared a drink with Captain Mailk (of the barge they had traveled on).

But the time of relaxing was not to last.  A large explosion rocked the docks and the squad, rushing to see what had happened, found the Captain’s vessel at risk due to the fire ravaging the ship docked in the next slip.  Swinging into action the squad members prevented the fire from spreading to the dock and neighboring vessels.  Just as swiftly the squad made itself scarce, after learning that the captain of the damaged ship was of the litigious variety.

Traveling through the city, with a porter to push a wheelbarrow full of Caelum, the squad met with Aeckyn Selebon to discuss caravans and “infiltrating” one. The matter of determining which caravan the cultists were in, however, was not resolved.

The squad took up accommodations at an inn frequented by traveling guards and mercenaries, where they were approached by a functionary of one of the city’s Dukes.  The Duke, it turned out, had had some of important cargo (a type of amber) stolen from the vessel which had earlier exploded in the harbor. There was quite a bit of reward, and prestige, at stake if the squad could recover the goods.

So the squad went about questioning sailors, low-level criminals, fireworks makers, and old grannies drinking tea, before they got a lead to an abandoned weapon store.  Upon entering the (seemingly) abandoned building the squad was set upon by thieves and an animated set of armor.  A hard-fought melee resulted in Dag, Faurgar, and Starag all unconscious and a few thieves dead, with one thief prisoner.  Dag and Pry again coordinated their interrogation and learned that the “client” who had hired the thieves was a Calamshite healer (witch doctor to the locals).

As Captain Malik happened to be a Calamshite the squad asked if he would accompany them to the “Little Calam” village outside of the city, to which he eagerly agreed.  The squad quickly was in the presence of the healer but, when the topic turned to the amber, the situation became tense.  Apparently the healer had hired the thieves to steal the amberdyne because it was a necessary ingredient in a remedy to cure an otherwise-fatal disease that had infected a pair of men.

The squad negotiated for the unused portion of the amberdyne, in return for their silence in the matter, and returned that amount to the Duke.

On the Road – DM’s notes

As you’ve seen, I’m running the Hoard of the Dragon Queen as my first campaign using the release version of the 5E rules.  Up until this point I’ve stayed fairly close to the script since Episodes 1-3 all tie pretty closely together.  Moving into Episode 4, there was a long stretch of travel where minimal detail was provided.  Since I’m running this as a home campaign and not as public play, I decided that this was a missed opportunity and created some material to fill in some of the gaps.

The player running Pry was unable to attend the last session, so that seemed like a good chance to tie up a loose end with Frulam Mondath.  The module as written doesn’t make any further use of her down the line and gives no direction as to what she might do if she managed to escape the party in Episode 3, so I left it up to the player to decide how things would play out.  You can see the results in Emmerik’s write-up of the last session.

A journey by boat seemed like a good chance for a combat encounter and I was pleased with how it played out.  Caelum’s player had to call in sick at the last minute, so he was the lucky one to be attacked first by the swarm of venomous snakes summoned by the lizardfolk shaman.  The humorous part about that aspect of the encounter was that the ranger (Dag) critically failed his nature check to identify the snakes, so he repeatedly assured the group that they were harmless and that Caelum would be totally fine.

The farm encounter was inspired by a simple flip through the incredible new Monster Manual.  Again, it was mostly about doing something other than deal with world-conquering dragon cults for a little while.  I started from “ankheg attack” and worked my way back to why the ankhegs might be a problem.  It was a lot of fun to play and the farmers sort of spontaneously morphed into characters from the Dukes of Hazzard somewhere along the way.

I have a little more home-brew material ready for when the party arrives at Baldur’s Gate.  It’s such an iconic city within the Realms that I’d like to try and give the group a little taste of it before they’re hustled onward to deal with the whole “Tiamat taking over the world” issue.