Okay, before I even start sharing what took place during last night’s D&D Encounters event, I must issue a very STERN spoiler alert here. If you are a regular player and have a DM, you might ask your DM to read this post FIRST and decide whether they’re interested in running it. I tell you this only because if you continue to read, you’ll be exposed to some major giveaways for this week’s two-part adventure I’ve titled “A Bright Light.”
So, consider yourself warned. Further reading will most definitely well spoil some surprises regarding this mini-adventure. If that doesn’t bother you… keep reading.
*** SPOILERS BEGIN ***
Between Adventure League seasons 1 and 2 (for the 5th edition of D&D), there are a total of nine weeks of unscheduled play. Our event coordinator, Topher, asked his four DMs (I’m one of those) to try and cover the events in Chapters 4 and 5 of the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure book. Unfortunately, much of the content for Chapter 4 is lacking and puts a lot of responsibility on the DM’s shoulders to create encounters and adventures that happen to players during a long bit of travel. I tossed out the suggested adventures (each about a paragraph in length) and decided to create my own. For the first two weeks, my players (on the road between Greenest and Elturel) found a small cultist group performing a dark ritual on a baby black dragon deep in a cavern (Part I and Part II of “The Road to Elturel”). Following that adventure, my players spent two weeks on a river between Elturel and Baldur’s Gate and had a few encounters that included a mysterious cargo ship with a surprise guest in low cargo deck (Part I and Part II summaries of “Sholla’s Dream”).
For the next two weeks, I’ve wanted to come up with something unique and distant from the book, so the players have found themselves arriving in Baldur’s Gate after their adventure on the water.
Tonight’s players included:
Jimmy (the Page) – Human Bard
Rolan – Elf Ranger
Edaliu – Gnome Bard
Borax – Dwarf Cleric
Aramel — Human Warlock
Essie – Human Fighter
When the players arrived in Baldur’s Gate, they were immediately escorted to a gathering place for the Order of the Gauntlet. If you read the previous few reports, you’ll know that the players were sent by Leosin to Baldur’s Gate to try and obtain bodyguard/escort positions for a cultist caravan that would be arriving in BG shortly after the players arrival. Well, plans changed. The players met with Railic, the local leader of the Order of the Gauntlet:
Three nights ago, a caravan of travelers arrived from the south. We were able to confirm they were members of the cultist army, but this is not the group that we are expecting in the next day or two. This group was… different. They had a strange two-wheeled wagon, much smaller in size than a standard wagon, hitched and pulled by a single horse. Locked. No windows. Very odd.
Before we could decide an action, however, a local rogue group got a little aggressive. Some items were stolen from the cultists. One of the members of this band of rogues is an agent of ours, and he recognized the value of one of the items and sent word to me. The rogues were able to celebrate for about an hour before they were tracked and killed in their hideout. Our agent was also killed. This is the information he provided.
The players were given a simple handout of a coded message with the deciphered text written below:
But the group of rogues (including the agent) were found and killed by Pewna’s group before the Order could reach their agent. Pewna’s group hit the road fast, and now the players have been given the task of chasing down Pewna and finding that very important map.
As you can see, the agent intended to create a copy of a map, but we never received it. Pewna is one of the cultists’ elite leaders we identified, and we’d heard rumors that he would be in possession of a map that could lead us to the army’s rendezvous point for all of these caravans–somewhere between here and Waterdeep is all we know. We made a move on Pewna and his group early this morning, but we were too late. We missed their departure from the city by a few hours.
The players accepted the mission, and were joined by three members of the Order as they left on horse and began chasing the caravan. Late into the evening, something happened:
Sherlo (one of the members of the Order) points at a strange reddish light in the distant sky. It dives and ascends, then circles. Suddenly, a burst of orange-red flame shoots from the sky towards the ground. The light appears to circle again, another burst of flame is blasted to towards the ground, and then the red light disappears completely.
Murmurs of dragons started up. The ranger was itching to use the new magical item he obtained a few weeks back (a quiver that can charge up to a dozen arrows that deal extra damage to dragons). The ranger scouted ahead while the remaining party members continued to move on the road. After some time had passed, the ranger discovered the results of the sky attack:
Five wagons burn, plus an odd-shape two-wheeled version. Inside the larger wagons, the glitter of melted gold and silver can be seen mixed with the charred wood of the crates and chests that must have held numerous objects and coinage. The grass and sand are charred in a wide circle around what must have been Pewna’s caravan. A dozen dead horses, their skin blackened, lay on their sides near their respective wagons. Four half-orc bodies are found among the debris–burned badly.
The players joined up with the ranger and quickly figured out there was a shortage of bodies. Seven cultists (that included Pewna) and eight half-orc bodyguards apparently had disappeared. A loud scream or bellow was heard from the east, and the players began making their way in that direction, hoping to discover Pewna and retrieve the map. As the players made their way further into the forest, a strange red glow was seen through the trees a mile or so ahead.
There is no shortage of trees (standing and fallen) for your party to hide behind and move to and from as you move in the direction of the glow. With only the moon’s light, every tree seems to provide a shadow that requires a second look.
The snap of a branch startles you–it comes from the left where Sherlo’s shadow is seen.
“Sorry,” he hisses. And then a ball of green flame shoots out from a shadow and envelops his body. You barely hear his screams as more green flames begin to arc in your direction and strange shadows begin to move from tree to tree.
Session 1 – Session 2 – Session 3 – Session 4 – Session 5 – Session 6 – Session 7
Sessions 8-9 – Session 10 – Sessions 11-15 — Session 16 — Session 17 — Session 18
Session 19 – The Road to Elturel Part I
Session 20 – The Road to Elturel Part II
Session 21 – Sholla’s Dream Part I
Session 22 – Sholla’s Dream Part II
Roll an Adventure Using the 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide – Part III
Roll an Adventure Using the 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide – Part IV