I’m going to go ahead and get this out of the way now — last night’s Session 17 was my absolute favorite two hours of playing D&D with Adventurers League since I started back up playing seventeen weeks ago. I’ll go into some details in a bit and explain why it was such a great night, but I also received some great news from the Titan Games & Comics D&D event coordinator, Topher Kohan (@), last night — I had put my name in the hat as available to DM for eight sessions starting in January 2015, and Topher has graciously allowed me to join three other DMs for the eight Chapter 4 (Hoard of the Dragon Queen) sessions. As a long time AD&D DM who stepped away from the game for, oh… a few decades… I have to tell you that I’ve been looking forward to getting back behind the screen since I first examined the contents of the D&D Starter Set.
Chapter 4 will be for characters level 7 and under, and I expect to have many level 3 and level 4 players at my table that first night — returning Encounters players from the first 18 sessions, many who most likely capped at level 4. This will mean more difficult creatures and NPCs, more deadly traps, and a larger mix of character spells and feats. Should be fun.
And so, next week will be the end of my adventures with Niloshis Quietwalker, Half-elf Sorcerer. Maybe. Session 18 is the end of Chapter 3, and it’s a bit bittersweet as I’ve enjoyed playing side-by-side with a number of players these past few months. I want to give a big shout out to the following players — Kane, Paula, Sebastian, Ryan, Sean, Stephen and Sara, Andrew, and Jorg and Edna.
And, of course, I have to give a huge thanks to DM Martin. With the exception of one or two absences, Martin was my DM for Chapters 1-3, and he did an outstanding job of putting up with the antics at our table. Martin didn’t go out of his way to kill of players — he is that type of DM who is all about providing the players with just the right mix of danger and risks but always with a way out. (And Session 17 was a prime example as I’ll soon share.) Martin’s going to take some time off from DMing in early 2015 and will instead occasionally play. I don’t blame him — eighteen or so sessions is a good run, and he deserves to have some time on the player side of the screen.
You may be wondering why it sounds like I’m wrapping up the Adventurers League report this week instead of with next week’s final Session 18… that’s because for all intensive purposes, Session 17 was the real finale. A lot happened tonight, and even DM Martin admitted that we had finished the major arcs of the story, including defeating the Big Bad. I will be at Session 18 next week (unless there are any surprises) but after you read tonight’s summary of events, I think you’ll agree that tonight’s session feels like the conclusion… I suspect next week will be a mix of record keeping and roleplaying the end game.
Lastly, before I get to the summary, I should also make you aware that I don’t have any handwritten notes to share about tonight’s actions. Things were going so fast and furious, that I honestly was halfway through the two hour session before I realized I hadn’t been taking notes. But I did take a LOT of photos. So I’ll insert those here and there and maybe they’ll suffice.
*** 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 ***
Tonight’s gathering of players included our long lost Rolan D’Crits, wood elf ranger. In addition to Rolan, returning players included:
Essie – Human Fighter
Borax – Dwarf Cleric
Edna – Gnome Bard
Anton – Human Rogue
Umbra – Drow Ranger
Niloshis – Half-Elf Sorcerer
Yep… seven players. Missing was Chi, Human Fighter (and his human player). When we left Session 16, the party had destroyed two dragon eggs (one black, one green) and our sneaky Drow ranger was trying to sneak a second black dragon egg by the group. Wasn’t happening, and when the party left the large cavern and returned to the altar room, the question was whether we would try to take a short rest or flee the cave. And so, Session 17 started with all but Rolan in the altar room.
* We chose to try a a short rest. As we prepared, into the room ran two small kobolds who rushed to the chest that had a trigger for the room’s trap. I cast a Sleep spell on them, but it was too late… the trap was triggered and a green cloud of gas began to fill the room from six vents around the room disguised as black dragon mouths. @#$@#$.
* This altar room had three exits — one back to the egg cavern, another to the kobold room where we frequently rested, and a small circular recess with a hanging rope ladder — one side cut by one of the party members during a previous session and basically just a hanging rope at this point. At the top of the rope ladder was a hole into the room of the evil woman (name eludes me) and covered by a heavy carpet.
* Essie and Niloshis (me) had decided to do guard duty while the others slept. For some reason (that I’m still not clear on), Essie was knocked out. A Sleep spell? No idea. I ran for her to wake her up and was asked to roll a Perception check. I made it and could hear two large creatures running down the stairs from the kobold resting room more north. I dropped a bag of caltrops and ball bearings over the bottom two or three steps of the stairs and then ran for the rope ladder, yelling at my sleeping companions to wake up!
* Most of the sleepers were roused, but not the bard. The cleric chose to carry her. (Nice husband/wife team at our table, right?) Meanwhile, the drow is over in the corner trying to figure out what to do about his black dragon egg. I’m racing for the rope ladder, but three of my fellow adventurers still managed to get to the ladder before me. They climbed as far as they could on their turn, and were basically blocking anyone else from climbing the ladder.
* Meanwhile, down the stairs comes our long lost wood elf ranger, Rolan. He makes his Dexterity check but fails his Perception check (or vice versa — can’t remember) and jumps the caltrops but hits the ball bearings. Down he goes. He’s yelling at us that three drakes are coming down the stairs after him. And there you go — we’re heading up the rope ladder!
* As the rounds progress, DM Martin is drawing the gas cloud expanding. It hits a few party members who fail Constitution rolls and we discover it’s an acid cloud. Great. A few party members are able to run in the clear areas between where the gas is filling. Those party members attempting to climb the ladder are also having some fun… DM Martin has drawn a ten step image on his map that represents the order of the members climbing the ladder. Both Anton (rogue) and Edna (bard) manage to get to the top first, with Umbra carrying his egg against all odds… followed by Borax the cleric and then Niloshis. Rolan and Essie are having to take shots at the drakes who have now entered the room (and are also taking acid damage).
* The bard manages to climb past the rogue on the ladder and with a successful hit and damage to the rug, slices it open allowing her to climb thru and into the room above. Anton follows. Umbra fails his strength check and has to decide between letting the egg drop or falling himself. He finally gives up the egg… it drops and cracks, and we hear the scream of a black baby dragon. #@@#$. He continues to climb up and enters the room. Rolan casts a wicked cantrip he’s picked up that hits the drakes with damaging thorns… some lucky rolls net him some initial damage plus some follow-up damage to those creatures adjacent.
* I head up the ladder but stop at the top. I burn a Sorcery Point to cast a twinned False Life spell at 2nd level (1d4 +9).. a lucky roll allows me to add 13 points to both Essie and Rolan who have taken some serious damage from the acid cloud and a successful drake attack or two.
* The egg is sitting at the bottom of the carved out vertical tunnel, and a bunch of us are taking shots at it, trying to destroy it. I cast a Firebolt cantrip and manage to roll a 10 for damage. Scrambled egg… it’s destroyed. A moment of silence for Umbra who is really really depressed.
* Up I go into the room… followed by Essie and Anton. We’re all in the room watching as DM Martin turns the three drakes around to head out of the altar room. Great… they’re smart and now we’ve got a race on our hands to get out of this cave.
* Umbra is looking all over the room, including under a single bed, hoping beyond hope for another hidden dragon egg. Not happening. Anton fails his lock pick roll and breaks off his tools in the lock. Our cleric tries to kick in the door and fails. I freeze the lock mechanism with Chill Touch and then one of the other party members kicks it again… BAM! Open. We leave the room and find ourselves in a 40 foot long hallway with another door at the end.
* Anton tries to open the door in a sneaky manner. An arrow misses him and sticks in the door. He manages to get a good look… and it’s not good. Six enemies of unknown strength and one really angry looking woman in robes. Oh, and they’re all behind furniture (beds?) that have been upturned and are providing 3/4 cover. Yay.
* We identify the exit out of this room… it’s back and to the right from the woman’s position. Our bard casts Invisibility on Rolan who makes his Sneak roll and manages to get almost behind the woman. I dash out and make it all the way to the exit where I’m facing this woman but almost hidden in the corridor from the other enemies. Anton follows. Two of them turn and come in our direction. Good thinking.
* Borax, Edna, and Umbra next leave the corridor. Borax casts a really cool Earthquake-like spell that shakes the ground. Edna follows it with a strange new spell that blasts the closest four enemies with some good damage. One of them goes down for good. I burn the last two Sorcery Points I have to create a single level 1 spell slot… I Sleep the two guards, hoping that rolling 5d8s will cover it. It does not. At our table, we had probably 8-10 re-roll tickets scattered between all our team. I burned one and rerolled… 32 points of Sleep spell…plenty to knock both of them out. WOO HOO!
* Every chance we get, everyone is targeting the woman. She raises her hands and we all freak… and she casts a Heal Wounds spell on herself. Evil cleric! Woot! She runs over, kicks one of the sleeping guards and wakes him up. She then takes her dual-strike with a halberd on me… but earlier the bard had cast a funny spell that consists of insults to lower the woman’s self-esteem. Can’t recall the spell name, but it’s hilarious. She fights with disadvantage, so she missed me with her dual-strike. Tough luck, lady.
* Anton wasn’t so lucky… she hits him with something nasty (or was it the guard? The dangers of not taking notes.) Anton is down to 4HP so he pulls WAY BACK down the exit hallway, and I didn’t blame him one bit. At this point, almost the entire party is attacking the woman with ranged and melee attacks. We manage to kill the last guard near the exit (the one the woman woke up) and that leaves a single enemy wondering why we’re all running away from him — as DM Martin says, the guy thinks he’s just evil incarnate and so intimidating none of us want to fight him. I think Borax just gets aggravated, because he finishes off the guy just as the rest of us throw everything we have at the woman. She drops and we finish off the last sleeping guard.
* We leave that room, find a split in the hallway and… session 17 ends.
All that’s left now is to get out of this cave. DM Martin confirmed that we’d dealt with the big dangers and it was all downhill from here… that remains to be seen, of course. But after tonight’s two room combat, complete with poisonous gas and deadly evil cleric… I don’t think a finale could have been more tense and dangerous… most of us are damaged, and a few are extremely low on HP. Will we take a long rest before running the gauntlet and heading out the mouth of the cave? We won’t know until next week, and it’s going to be a long seven days…
A few closing thoughts and notes:
* For those of you who have provided comments and emails, thank you for your support and kind words. If you had fun reading my summaries, imagine how much fun you’d be having if you were playing! Seriously… find a game in your neck of the woods and join up. And if you can’t find one… start one! A great place to start is the Adventurers League website here.
* Every week I thank the crew at Titan Games & Comics… and I’ll do it again. Mike, Katie, and Daniel are great hosts, and last night I believe we had a record turnout with 6 or 7 players at all four tables. If you’ve got a similar host, be sure to thank them profusely! In the Atlanta area and want to play? Visit Titan’s Meetup page and keep an eye out for sessions to start up again on January 7.
* Topher Kohan has done an outstanding job each week keeping up with the announcements, reminding players of key dates (and to RSVP!), and encouraging both DMs and players to “have fun and let’s play some D&D!” If there are any Wizards of the Coast folks out there reading this — PLEASE throw some love Topher’s way and do something nice for him. You’ve got a great representative there who goes out of his way each week to welcome new and returning players. (His wife even sent birthday cake for us all!) Thanks, Topher, for doing such a great job coordinating Encounters!
See you all here next week for the Session 18 report…