D&D – Sleeping Dragon Wakes (Review)

With the next module in the series complete (aside from the tidy up) it’s a chance to review this one too.

Again, I think it is a pretty good module, with some interesting scenarios wound together into the story. I ran it without using the “Quest Board”, adding some story links to have the party get involved in things. Partly, so that I could control which parts I would need to prepare, but also, it fits with the story better. They were very much a part of the town by this stage, so having them look for jobs on a board made no sense. For a party that starts here, maybe it would fit?

A running battle with the sahuagin proved a challenge for the group. Later a similar, multi stage battle with some bandits could have really punished them, if the zombies and chimera waiting in the wings could have gotten involved. Some smart tactics helped them there. At the higher levels they are reaching, simply throwing a crowd of enemies isn’t really a challenge.

I gave them the full credit for getting in to meet the green dragon without having to fight almost anyone in the entire lair. They basically talked their way in, as they also did with the bronze dragon earlier. This made for some fun RP.

Overall a great part 2 of 3 adventure with a terrible “to be continued” ending. However, if you consider it all as one, then its not an ending.

For Roll20 users

Again, I added a bunch of maps, but nothing like the last module. I mostly reused a couple of maps with different creatures, to run random encounters, so not strictly required. The maps provided did a better job of covering the action. Might not be so for the next module.

And so it’s on to Divine Contention and the final showdown. The core of this is a long defence of the town itself as the two factions attack. It will really test the endurance of the group. It will also be interesting to see what they remember they have picked up (they have several healing scrolls that will come in handy – if they remember them!).

D&D – The Sleeping Dragon wakes!

The party left Old Gnawbones lair on a mission. They would find the necromancer responsible for sending the waves of undead against the lair and stop them. In repayment the dragon would…

Um, I will have to go back and see what was offered (Although it’s not actually important…. you’ll see why).

Oh, that’s right. If this gets resolved she has said she has no reason to attack Leilon (to try to get information). The party, as protectors of Leilon, are happy enough with this.

The party set out and started their search. Using the process from the module, they rolled to search.

And rolled 26. So supposed to be an instant success.

I decided that this was a little too easy, so had them successfully determine the direction and that it was a couple of days away. The first day passed uneventfully, but a group of wraith came across them overnight. The wraith, originally headed for the lair, attacked.

The fight went reasonably well for the party. A few hits were suffered, including several hit point drains. However, the party fought them to nothing, then spent a long morning recovering.

The search roll the next day was almost as high, so I let them find the necromancer.

The party came across the enemy in a small clearing, standing and casting something in the air. The party managed to get within a few hundred feet without being spotted.

The mage called a fire elemental, right in the face of the necromancer. As they did, her spell finished and a half dozen spectres appeared. The enemy took one hit from the elemental and dimension doored away from the fight.

The party charged in, not realising that all of their fire spells were only causing half damage (the same thing had happened against the wraiths, without being noticed). The casters attacking the wraiths from afar.

At this point the mage dropped control of the fire elemental, but by this time it had a spectre in its face so it was occupied.

The ranger spotted the necromancer and proceeded to inflict massive amounts of damage. It had no resistance to magical piercing damage. In two hits, 100hp after rolling two natural 20s. The highest damage I think I’ve seen from a player. As the rounds continued, she cast invisibility and tried to make her escape.

Hunter’s Mark meant the ranger could follow, and at disadvantage managed to hit her enough to put her down. The corpse became visible as the rest of the party was just starting to wonder why the ranger was suddenly shooting in a random direction.

The spectres were defeated and the fire elemental dismissed. The necromancer’s body was picked up and the party set off back to the lair.

After their success they were greeted cordially and escorted to the dragon.

However, in a set piece, she convulsed and lost control as a dark shadow could be seen entering her body. The spirit of the evil black dragon, The Ebondeath, now possessed her. The dragon rose up and fled the lair.

And there ended the Sleeping Dragon Wakes Module. Next session we will see if the party decides to loot the lair, though the druids may not be impressed with that approach. If they don’t, the druids are likely to offer some reward to track down and free their mistress. Equally, the party will want to pursue this clearly evil foe to protect the region.

From here the party will head into Divine Contention – when the two factions threatening Leilon are faced and their true intentions revealed.

And it was a great place to stop the session, as I haven’t read any of the next module and had NO IDEA what to do next. So I have some homework…

D&D – A new Dragon

After a rest in the castle they had cleared, the party headed out. They had found a trail of footprints. It lead in about the same direction as they were headed in their search for the green dragon.

After a while, they noticed a stange flickering light ahead. As they continued, they realised they were gaining on it. More details became clear, something bright and firey and some humonids along with it.

Closer again, and it was a flameskull, leading a group of ghouls.

The party opened up at range with a fireball, causing significant damage to their enemy. The ghouls turned and charged, but the party continued to fight from range, with the rangers arrows doing some serious damage. The ghouls went down before they even reached the group. The flameskull had just enough time to launch a fireball of its own before it was taken down. That fireball hurt the party, with the mage almost dying from the attack.

With the enemy down, the party dithered about for about 10 minutes before they remembered that flameskulls (which they have faced a long time ago in the Phandelver Mines) need to be destroyed before they return. They started the hour long process to create some Holy Water. Flameskulls take an hour to regenerate. Now think back to the start of the paragraph.

So up pops the flameskull. It got a couple of fairly ineffective shots off before it was brought down again. I let them have a percentage chance that the almost finished water was holy enough for them… success.

With that out of they way, the party continued into the forest. The trail kind of ended as they approached a cliff with a set of cave entrances. A strange green glow emanated from the openings.

They moved closer, wary, but with nothing to actually fight. The mage started to prepare a teleportation circle to get them up to the highest entrance. Part way through, the Wood Wodes attacked.

Ever since the party cleared the town of ThunderTree, way back in the Lost Mines, the paladin has been carrying around a magical axe called Hew. Hew has the property of doing maximum damage against wood creatures. The party had cleared all of the twig blights before it came across the axe and since then have not faced a wooden creature. Well apart from doors, which the large dragonborn paladin has failed at knocking down the entire adventure!

Wood woads are made of wood.

With Hew and a pyro mage the woads had little chance. A few in the party caught a club hit or two, but not enough to really threaten them.

The mage redid the teleportation circle, sending them up into the lair.

They passed the caged owl bears and found themselves in the camp of The Gnawbones. Druids who worshipped the resident dragon.

There were two druids in residence, but a conversation started and the druids softened their attitude when they discovered how many undead the party had slain. Undead that were a constant pressure on the lair here. The party was approved for an audience with Old Gnawbones.

The followed the druids into the lair proper, finding Old Gnawbones struggling to end the constant undead threat to her lair. She just couldn’t find the source, even with several magical scrying stones.

Some earnest discussion ensued, and the party agreed to search the forest for the necromancer who was sending their minions against Old Gnawbones. The margin struck, the party retired to the druid camp to set out in the morning.

D&D – and zombies

The broken battle continued in this session. 

Seeing that most of their company had fallen, including the leader, the last two bandits threw down their arms and came clean on everything that they knew.

The party listened, but every quickly decided that they needed to dispatch the remaining threats behind each door before too much time passed. The chimera was sounding decidedly unhappy, so they started there. A pet of the bandit boss, the animal was already incensed by her death. Just as I was about to have it burst out to disrupt the conversation with the surrendered bandits, the party opened the door.

With the platemail wearing dragonborn paladin holding the doorway, the chimera found getting out of its room rather difficult. Coupled with several mighty arrow strikes from the ranger, the chimera barely got a breath attack before it found itself very quickly dead. 

Next, they decided to drop the large room of zombies. With a great fireball, that destroyed the locked door and engulfed the entire pen, many zombies fell before the fight even started. The ogre zombies proved a little more sturdy, and there was a few rounds of fighting before they fell. 

At this point, I had a long line of dead tokens stacked off the map and the party is starting to find that it has only a few spell slots left, or not a lot of arrows etc. Once again, a long running battle has pressed the party towards their limits. 

One final door, and 3 zombies try to attack the party. Using a similar approach, blocking the door with the paladin, the party finds that while they don’t hit much harder, they take a lot more to put down. 

With the fall of the last zombie the party paused for a breath. During the distraction the bandits had fled, but that won’t have any lasting consequences. The bandits are running for Neverwinter and to find some other work to do.

With the keep theirs, the party secured the buildings and pulled up for a well-earned rest. They will continue to look for the dragon next session….

Or will they…. It will be Valentine’s Day for the next session and (assuming we are not all out entertaining our real life valentines) I am looking about for a short little sidetrack to run them through. There are a couple of possible options in DMs Guild and I have a couple of ideas myself…

D&D – Zombies again

Well the Leilon game has restarted. Most of the players got the message over various socials so we had 4 in attendance. About normal for us anyway.

When (before Christmas) we left our party, they’d just defeated a collection of zombies that charged out of the scrub at them. The fight ending up with a single armoured fighter who had been chasing the zombies (her colleague had died in the fight). The party and the fighter had an initially strained conversation, but it eased off as each side worked out where each other stood.

The party helped build a rock cairn for her colleague, accepting her story that they had been all that was left of a caravan that had been attacked by the zombies. The pair had decided to follow and either stop, warn or assist anything else they came across. With the zombies taken care of, she said she would head to Neverwinter and find more work. (At no point did the party check any of her conversation. She was lying through her teeth, not even her name was real. Ah well).

However, some of the party became suspicious when she left. She didn’t head towards the main road, rather deeper into the forest. A couple of them followed until she started down a trail, still heading “the wrong way”. They went back to the party and the party moved to follow and investigate. (Our fighter was headed back to the bandit gang she came from).

The party eventually came across a ruined keep in the forest. After some recon of the area, the party split. With 3 approaching the gate and 3 covering them, hidden in the surrounding trees. They could see several guards on the walls and more through a large hole in one wall.

The party assumed that the fighter had come here, and name dropped to no response. (She had actually come back, but due to her failure to hide the zombies or destroy the party, the bandit leader had her killed). The party was invited in (the 3 they could see) and a little conversation was had. The party enquired about the group (mercenaries apparently, enroute to Neverwinter – not true). They warned them about the zombies (the bandits had a whole stash of zombies themselves). This was really a pretext for the bandit leader to get them in the walls to kill them, to keep the secret of the zombies.

In classic ambush style, the bandits attacked as the party went to leave. Several things helped the party. The paladin had sensed a great number of zombies in a nearby room, but was unable to say anything without revealing it. And someone did an insight check, it was clear the leader was lying. And the other party member figured that the camp looked like it had been here for sometime, not the couple of days that the leader described. Everyone was suspicious. Outside, the others had moved to see through the hole in the wall as soon as they saw the gates shut behind the party. So there wasn’t much surprise when the bandits attacked.

Battle ensued. The members in the courtyard put up a good defence, but most of the damage was done by the ranger and wizard launching ranged attacks through the hole in the wall. The bard cast his (continually frustrating for a DM) Hypnotic Distraction and distracted half the bandits. The guards on the walls started shooting arrows into the fray as well.

Initially it looked more even than most fights. However with half of her bandits distracted, the leader made a run for a room at the base of one of the towers, where her pet chimera was kept. She never made it, but her death scream caused the creature to cry out. The party figured something nasty behind door number one.

Door number two was revealed to have something behind it too, when the bard came up against it during the fight. The moans were clearly audible and instantly recognised. And the paladin revealed there were definitely zombies behind door number 3.

The bandits did intend to release these into the party, but were prevented from door one and two simply by being cut down when they attempted to move in that direction. The wizard secured door 3 with a Wall of Flame cast across the courtyard, cutting the bandits off from it.

An exciting session had to cut off in the middle of this fight. With only 2 bandits standing, things could calm down shortly.

I imagine the party will move to eliminate the remaining threats piecemeal, which will make it easier for them. It’s something they are very at good at setting up even in a melee, so with each group behind a door, I think it will be easy to keep them seperate. However, there are a LOT of zombies behind door 3. The chimera sounds scary, but this crew has killed 2 dragons in short order. I don’t think the chimera on its own will be much of a problem.

I am planning on having the last couple of bandits surrender. This won’t stop the party from having to deal with the other creatures as the bandits don’t control them (with the death of the chimera’s owner). But they might get some intel that could set things up for later….

D&D – Defeating the Sahuagin.

Through the trickery of post scheduling, this entry was written after it was posted……

After clearing the first cavern, the party moved through the caves looking for more sahuagin.

And they were not disappointed. However they did not expect a giant shark zombie with legs! This kept a passageway blocked as several sahuagin used other exits to try and flank the party.

This made for a long fight, with people charging up and down the caves as sahuagin seemed to keep appearing behind and beside them. As always though, the party managed to do more damage than was done to them and be the last ones standing.

(Ah, no, now I remember, I have only missed one session… this finished part way through the session and then I started the Bronze Shrine to get part way through that before the session ended.)

So after picking through the remains of the cave, telling the village of Leilon Point they were safe, the party returned to Leilon proper. And that’s where the next entry picks up…

DnD – Fighting the Sahuagin

Fish people… or shark people or something was attacking a village near Leilon. The Council asked our intrepid party to investigate and save the village. Just the job for them, so they grabbed their kit and headed up the road.

There, they found the village of Leilon Point all locked up. Carcasses, burnt fields and closed shutters all pointed to there being trouble. The head man let them in and told them what they knew. A few days ago, the village had been attacked and it had been several times since. The fish people who did it have taken over a cave system down by the beach.

“Say no more” and the party headed for the beach and the cave.

Entering the cave, the first thing that they saw was a set of heads on spears, with some bodies lying in the cave further back. As they crept in to investigate they also spied a cavern to their left with a group of these fish people milling about.

As the ranger approached the bodies there was crack of thunder, with the ranger and a couple of others taking some damage. It also alerted the sahuagin in the next cave, who started to come closer to investigate.

The party charged in…. well mostly the monk really. The paladin and the rest joined in, but the monk was I the thick of it…. and this would bring him to the brink very quickly.

Against 5 Blademasters, 4 warriors and a priestess, this was one of the toughest fights the party has seen so far. The Blademasters, in full plate, were as hard to hit as the party’s paladin and with 3 attacks, did similar damage. The warriors proved to be easy kills, when the party could get to them. And the priestess managed to get off a few spells before the party’s casters fired back.

The fight saw a couple of fireball spells go off, dropping the warriors but the Blademasters were made of sterner stuff. The monk also found that charging into the middle of group, to end up with attackers on three sides, who hit often and hard, was quickly bringing him close to death.

The party is catching its breath, but has no idea what is coming next. They found this fight hard, though a couple of them made good points.
“We’re level 8 now, we should expect some tough enemies”
“Yes, the sahuagin are tough fighters.”

I let the players know after the fight, Sahuagin also gain advantage whenever their opponents are injured. They smell the blood and go into a frenzy.

So the first cavern is clear, but there is more to come. Sleeping Dragons has begun.

D&D – Lost Mines Found

Well, time for a bit of an update here. Our scribe has been slack the last few sessions, so I don’t have their entertaining missives to include. Hopefully soon.

Well our intrepid bunch finally found time to head to the mines. The group had returned from Cragmaw with Gundren and the map, much to the joy of Sildar. A rest in Phandalin and they headed to the mines.

Again, they spent their time going left at every junction. Remind me to tell Wizards of the Coast to put some bosses on the lower right of a map occasionally – then my group won’t find them 4 rooms into the dungeon. This happened with Glasstaff and happened again here.

After a brief encounter with a skeleton, they came across the boss. Well, Gundren’s brother, Nundren first. A fight with some spiders and then they killed The Black Spider, only to find it was a doppelgänger. A chase ensued with the enemy rousing the guards and another fight was joined. A well aimed crossbow killed the BS right at the start of this combat but the bugbears fought until death.

So this left the rest of the mine to explore.

Which they did. Alston was almost killed, nearly my first player kill, during a fight with a flaming skull. They killed it and in a race against time, managed to douse it with holy water just seconds from it reawakening.

Sadly, one of the players left us during this part. He’s found another group local to him and can’t commit as many days as he needed to play all the groups.

So the Furious Five fought on, clearing the dungeon and returning to enjoy their rest in Phandalin.

Only rumours of a dragon abound.

And then an orc band tried to raid for supplies as it passed through.

A well timed fireball put that to an end.

A surviving orc gave them some clue as to where they might find the dragon as well. What will they do?

I’m now linking it to the end of the “Dragon of Icespire Peak” module. This came in the new Essentials Kit and isn’t something any of us have played through before. From the finish of that, I plan to move into the other 3 included modules, starting with “Sleeping Dragons Wake.”

Part way through I also subscribed to Roll20 and I have to recommend the Dynamic Lighting function. It certainly adds to the experience on the maps.