Session 6 tonight wrapped up the first chapter (or episode — I’ve heard both naming conventions used) for the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure. With two more chapters left in Hoard, there’s much more left in this initial story to tell before the next big adventure, The Rise of Tiamat, can begin.
A lot of things happened during this night’s adventure… and after it. I’ll cover the details of the adventure below, but I wanted to talk briefly about my return to D&D with this new 5th edition and the Encounters scheduled events. Over the last six weeks, I’ve enjoyed playing in a campaign, but I’ve also had a great time making some new friends. D&D players come from all walks of life, and the mix of ages, genders, and backgrounds I’ve seen at the Encounters sessions tells me that the term “D&D player” is much harder to pin down in 2014 than it might have been in the 1970s and 80s. It’s never been easier to to be a geek than in today’s world — movies, TV shows, books, comics, manga, games, etc… it seems everyone has a geek interest these days (my totally un-geek sister surprised me years ago by telling me how deep she was into Moore’s Battlestar Galactica), and the renewed interest in D&D was fairly apparent last night when a new player joined our table — he’d never played D&D, only listened to some podcasts. But he joined right in and (hopefully) had a great time even though his character died in the first ten minutes of play… more on that shortly.
I also learned last night that Encounters characters will be capped (for a while) at level 4. You can still play your character, but you will gain no XP. I believe the reasoning behind this is that the Tiamat adventure is for characters starting at level 4 (or maybe 5). I’m probably going to be creating a new character shortly because Niloshis is now a level 3 sorcerer… if I continue to play this guy, I’m going to max out at level 4 probably well before the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure ends… and frankly it would be nice to have one or two more characters to choose from during play… or should the unspeakable happen as it almost did tonight. Niloshis had a few close calls, and it made me realize just how attached I’ve become to this half-elf sorcerer.
I’ve got a few more items to share with you, but let’s get to the night’s adventure. We didn’t go as long tonight as in previous sessions… there was only one major encounter to play out and it was both fun and stressful…
*** NOTE SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS BELOW ***
*** Do not read further if you wish to play in the Hoard of the Dragon Queen Adventure ***
*** NOTE SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS BELOW ***
Lifting my arms to cast a spell has quickly become impossible. The lack of sleep and the wounds we have suffered have taken their toll on my companions, and we are all in a daze from the previous day and night’s activities. Would I have turned down the payment and job to escort the wagon of supplies if I’d known our destination would be the target of a dragon attack? Probably, but it also wouldn’t have mattered. The news coming into the keep was that numerous towns and cities all along the coast are suffering similar attacks. No matter the location, I’m certain I would have found myself and those around me fighting for our lives. If I weren’t helping defend a keep or a sawmill, rescuing children, and fighting off attackers here… I’d be doing the same elsewhere. My group is now safely back in the keep, and I just want to fall down where I stand and sleep. I may do just that. The word from the lookouts is that the attackers outside the gate have disbanded and are scurrying away with their stolen goods. The gates will probably be open soon, and I’ll need to make my mind up about where to go next. Time to sleep and heal and restore my energy. But wait… someone on the tower is yelling and pointing. Will this night never end?
Tonight’s group consisted of the following:
Essie — Human Fighter (returning)
Rolan — Wood Elf Ranger (returning)
Anton — Human Rogue (returning)
Niloshis — Half-elf Sorcerer (my character, returning)
Kael — Human Fighter (new player — in every sense of the word!)
The big finale. We all knew it was coming, but seriously? A half-dragon man!??? Outside the keep, in walks this seven foot tall dragon-man creature (not a Dragonborn, but a humanoid-shaped dragon)… complete with surprises. Behind him are a dozen or more kobolds and a woman, a teenage boy, and two young children. Hostages. Great. The dragon-man yells out that he’s willing to trade the hostages for a fight — “send out your best warrior and fight me!”
Yeah… sorry. Not happening. Rolan sets up on a tower, bow drawn and pointing at this thing’s head. We’re all debating about whether to trust this guy, and DM Martin has us roll a Perception check. Of course I roll a 19 and understand that this dragon-guy is lawful and sincere and honorable (well, as honorable as an evil dragon-man holding hostages can be). He’s truly willing to exchange hostages for a fair fight. Okay. But who?
Look, I’m no hero. I know when I’m over my head. And this… thing… standing outside the gate with his sword held high? What chance would I have? My companions felt the same, but we also didn’t like the thought of those children remaining outside the keep’s gate. While we debated, one of the injured watchtower guards yelled out. He recognized the woman as his sister and the children as his niece and nephews. He was willing to go and fight, but his injuries were obvious — he didn’t have the strength to lift a sword and could barely walk. Then we heard this stern voice assure the injured man that his sister and her children would be saved. I looked for the source of the voice and realized I’d seen this stranger mingling in the crowds. He had some minor scrapes and burns, but he looked strong and confident. He introduced himself as Kael, and told the keep’s marshall to open the gate. He was going out. Normally, it’s Chi who gets me into trouble, but Chi had been called away with Griffon to assist the tunnel’s guards with a small group of kobolds. This time around, it was Essie who was going to get me killed. Essie wasn’t letting Kael go outside without an escort. “Just in case that creature doesn’t uphold his end of the deal,” he said. “Care to join me?” I looked at Anton — he was lingering back in a shadow as is his habit. I could tell he didn’t like the idea of those children and their mother being outside with those foul creatures any more than I did. Rolan yelled down from the tower — “Go on. I’ve got your backs.” Thanks, Rolan. How do I get myself into these situations? Essie, Anton, and I joined Kael and walked out side the small opening in the gate and readied ourselves. My instincts told me this wasn’t going to go well…
What could go wrong? A seven foot tall dragon-man, a dozen kobolds, hostages, and all my spell slots used up. Oh, and no cleric tonight. Yeah, this is going to go south real quick. Things looked promising right away — the dragon-man agreed to send the woman and children closer to the gate and assured us if the fight was honorable the hostages would be set free when done.
So here’s the deal — Kael was a new player. NEW. Never played D&D before. But he knew that a lawful good alignment meant he had to play the hero. And he did. He demanded the children be allowed to return to the keep before the fight began — the woman remained. Kael then walks right up to the dragon-man, lifts his sword in salute and the fight begins. He lost Initiative, of course, so the D-man attacks first. And DM Martin rolls a 1. Seriously! We might pull this off! The D-man slips on the gravel and misses, but doesn’t fall down. Uh-oh. Kael gets his swing — and a hit and some good damage. Or so we think. D-man follows with a hit that drops Kael to 1HP. Oops. Kael follows up with one more solid hit… and then he’s killed by D-man. Dead. Welcome to D&D!
True to his word, the D-man yells out for the hostages to be released and turns his back to walk away. But then he takes a cheap shot at the dead Kael, taking away one of Kael’s three Death Saving Throw slots. Really? While I’m running to the woman to grab her and pull her back to the keep, the cheap shot at Kael was all our Wood Elf Ranger needed. Rolan pops off an arrow (from the safety of the tower, remember) to teach the D-man a lesson. At least it hit. If we’re going to rumble, let’s rumble. I turn and fire a Firebolt at the D-man and completely miss. Of course, now the D-man is screaming for the kobolds to attack. Great…
With kobolds running down on our position, what happened next was unbelievable. This evil creature opens his jaw and this bolt of lightning flashes out in the direction of Essie and me. I tried to dodge, but it was just too fast. I felt a burning up and down my side, and my vision blurred. The bolt missed Essie who had managed to stabilize Kael, and Essie positioned himself between a small group of kobolds who were attacking the woman. High overhead, we heard the marshall’s voice yelling out for the archers to fire. A single kobold dropped near us as the arrows rained down. During the confusion, I tossed a Firebolt at the nearest kobold and set it ablaze. It dropped at the same time as Rolan killed another of the small creatures. I turned to look for the dragon creature, but in the noise and confusion it had disappeared…
I tried to position myself a bit back from the attacking kobolds, but three of them rushed me. Two additional hits had me really worried. The D-man’s lightning attack dropped me to 12HP and the kobolds dropped me to 5HP. Another lucky hit and I would be down. Meanwhile, I took out another kobold with a 10DMG Firebolt while Anton took some damage and the guards took out two more kobolds with arrows. Tonight, it was Firebolt for dinner… I took out another kobold with another max damage 10DMG Firebolt. Essie and Rolan cleaned up the remaining Kobolds.
The dragon creature had disappeared into the night, and the kobolds were no more. We rushed to the fallen Kael, and the marshall opened the gate and sent out a party of healers to tend to the night’s hero and the woman. They pushed us away and called up some mighty prayers. I’ve never seen such an amazing sight — Kael’s wounds closed and I could have sworn I even saw a partially severed arm reattach itself. We were on alert for more attacks, but it wasn’t necessary. The fight was over. The attackers were gone. We’d survived the night, but the town had taken some devastating losses. Kael was escorted back into the keep and praised for his bravery. Me? I found a pile of straw in the shadows of a small storage shed and fell asleep. I’ll worry about tomorrow… tomorrow.
A huge congratulations goes to DM Martin — he did a great job wrapping up Chapter 1 and prepping us for Chapter 2 that starts next week. He awarded Kael two Potions of Healing, and even better… he finally allowed our characters to grab that Long Rest that we really needed.
Some closing comments for this week:
* XP and Gold — 80XP and 6GP were awarded to each of us. It put me just a hair over 1000XP so I’m well on my way to level 4.
* Recordkeeping — You can download my 3-page adventure log PDF for Session 6 here.
* Tussle with the Tarrasque — If you missed the live streaming event of this previous Sunday’s level 20 adventure, you can watch the recorded session here. It should be PG, but I may have missed a choice word or two. PG-13 possibly. Parents may want to take a listen first. If you’re curious about high-level spells and combat in 5e D&D, you’ll get a LOT of ideas and examples in this four-character event.
* Titan Games & Comics — Another big shout-out to the crew at Titan for hosting the Encounters event. Not only do they give a discount at the register just before the night’s event, but they still award re-roll tickets for each $5 or more purchase (max of 2). If you want to join the D&D game, check out Titan’s Meetup.com signup page here.
* Leveling Up — Most characters have now reached level 2 — my sorcerer has hit level 3 due to my playing in a weekend D&D event a few weeks back. Expeditions is starting up in Atlanta with the first Sunday of each month consisting of a 3-4 hour length adventure, and XP earned in these can be applied to the same characters you play in Expeditions. Level 2 offered up a few bonuses, but level 3 is really going to let me upgrade my sorcerer a bit. I’ll probably update my original post on this character’s creation and discuss where I take Niloshis next… keep your eyes open for that follow-up post soon.
* Session 7 — Next week! Our characters are all rested up, spell slots reset, and HP fully healed. The challenges really ramped up from Session 1 to 6, and I don’t expect things to get any easier. I’ve got to decide whether to play Niloshis next week or create a new character. There always seems to be a shortage of clerics, and I’m seriously considering creating one and playing next week. Lots of ponder…
* Invitation To Share — In a couple weeks, I’m wanting to put together a post for GeekDad.com about player’s experiences with the new 5e and Encounters/Expeditions play. I’m inviting all readers to email me a small writeup — keep it to 250 words or less, please, and I reserve the right to edit a bit for space. Include your character name, class, level, and anything special you’d like to say about 5e rules, Encounters, Expeditions, or even a memorable encounter. I’ll collect them all and share with our readers. If I get a LOT of submissions, I may split it into multiple posts. (And if you’d like to give a shout-out to your gaming group or hosting location, feel free!) Email your submissions to jim (at) geekdad (dot) com.
That’s it for this week… see you next week with the Session 7 report.