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Tuesday, June 16, 2015

HotDQ: Ep. 1: Greenest in Flames (part 2)

Last time, we left our player characters (the PC:s) in the  middle of the first episode. They had arrived in a beleagured Greenest, vowed to help the townsfolk, found an old tunnel under the keep and saved some villagers from being burned alive inside the temple of Chauntea. The night had more in store for them, though, as this action-packed episode continued.

The Dragon Attack

While the rain kept falling, the PC:s  stealthily arrived at the keep and returned the saved villagers to the courtyard. Governor Nighthill was suitably pleased, but regretted that he couldn't offer any rewards until the night was over and the damages could be calculated. The PC:s managed to trick an unwilling Escobert into providing his own healing potions, however.

Suddenly, explosion-like loud noises erupted from the parapet. The party headed up the ladder to find several guards under attack by the large blue dragon himself! Groups of guards fell to a single lightning blast as the azure reptile swooped by. They soon realised that they couldn't do much about the situation, although Kerr had to be talked into not jumping onto the dragon mid-flight.
Back in the safety of Nighthills headquarters, the PC:s learned that the local mill was under attack by invaders in dark cloaks. Through a spying glass, they also spotted the invader leaders on the town square; a large half-dragon and an armored woman seemed to be in charge of the looting operations. Governor Nighthill was also very interested in securing a prisoner to be interrogated once the PC:s made it back.

Save the Mill

Once again the PC:s set out through the tunnel and stealthed off towards the mill. They spotted some raiders carrying sacks and a chest on the bridge they had to pass, but decided not to compromise their cover. In the dark, rainy night, it was easy reaching the mill in the outskirts of town.

The raiders were still there, and still trying to set fire to the building. Kerr sneaked up to one of them that looked like a spellcaster and assassinated the raider quickly. The party followed up in their surprise round by throwing axes and daggers which all hit their marks. In a dying breath, the last raider threw his torch inside the mill, alerting Garros, who set after it. Victor decided that one of the raiders would make a fine prisoner, so he knocked him out with “the blunt edge” of his large warhammer.

Inside the mill, Garros looked around and failed to see the four men who an instant later threw their spears at him. They mostly missed, however, and jumped down or used the ladder to finish the cleric off. Kerr and Victor heard the noises and split up, with Kerr climbing up to the second floor and sneaked in through a window. The fight continued but ended with four dead raiders and the PC:s hardly damaged at all. Outside, they saw a familiar figure. Frulam Mondath had set up the trap and now applauded them and commented that they would be a harder nut to crack than she expected. Victor sprang at her, but with a flick of her hand, he fell, paralyzed, like a slab of rock to the ground. Mondath disappeared into the night.
Prisoner

The knocked-out raider was carried back to the keep and up to Nighthills quarters. The Dragon was nowhere to be seen, so now there was some time to question the raider. Victor carried out an elaborate water torture scheme and the PC:s learned that they were dealing with the Cult of the Dragon. Nowadays, the cult planned to free the Dragon Queen Tiamat from the nine hells and was now collecting a hoard of treasure in order to accomplish this. They also learned Mondath’s and her sidekick Cyanwrath’s names and that the raiders had set up a large camp from which they launched their attacks and maybe even roosted some dragon eggs.

The Half-Dragon Champion

The fighting and looting started to calm down after a couple of hours. The rain stopped falling and the party watched the first sun rays find their way through the clouds. Suddenly, a booming voice gathered the party on the keep walls. Cyanwrath, the half-dragon, was standing outside with a retinue of mercenaries, dragon cultists and lots of kobolds. He addressed the keep and demanded a duel with a champion of their choosing. In return, he would release some prisoners.
Victor of Prestor finally rose to the occasion and headed out to face Cyanwrath. He put up a remarkable fight, surviving multiple attacks from both a halberd and a greatsword and damaging the half-dragon, but ultimately fell to Cyanwrath’s lightning breath. The nobleman’s world appeared to fade away, almost in slow-motion, while medics rushed to his side and the raiders finally left the sacked village.

Thoughts:

This part of the adventure had everything: some stealth for the rogue, a fight in different levels (the mill), roleplaying (the torture scene in particular), some bad-ass showings from the cult’s villains and a hero’s ending.

I chose not to run the sally port mission since it doesn’t contribute much to the story and we were already a little tired of fighting against similar foes. As we’re using the milestone system, the characters didn’t miss out on any XP from this either, not to mention that I didn’t have to explain what a sally port is. I liked introducing Mondath early, so that Cyanwrath wouldn’t steal the spotlight completely.

All in all, it was a great afternoon and both players and DM were already looking forward toward the next episode.

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