Sunday, January 22, 2017

Player's Log: Dragon Assault

Alright, we're playing D&D this week for the first time in like a month so I can finally update my player's log! I'll probably be writing during breaks and after the game so for the time being let me break down the party again just for handy dandy reference and so you all know who I'm talking about.

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Pre-Play Reference Stuff:

We just got done playing The Lost Mine of Phandelver and are moving into Tyranny of Dragons at present. I haven't read it so I have no idea what's coming. Also, it's going to be full of fantasy names so expect me to spell them incorrectly because I'm not seeing them written. That said, it's a good time to start a proper campaign diary because we're only just now starting into this particular module.

My fiance, Josh, is DMing, and because we're all level 5 instead of level one due to Lost Mine, he had to amp some things up in the module so if you have played it or run it or for some other reason know it very well and things sound wonky that is probably why.

SPOILERS FOR TYRANNY OF DRAGONS (and possibly Lost Mine of Phandelver) AHEAD

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The Party:

Nicophel Arthainas - Moon Elf Wizard - Me : D - Robed and wielding the Glass Staff of Defense. He's quiet and observant, and considers himself the definition of a subtle wizard. (He isn't.) Nicophel does not like to be spoken to as though he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Varis the Illustrious - Elven Fighter - June - Big armored badass, his noble papers are faked, cannot say no to a challenge. He's arrogant and (kind of) short tempered, but unquestioningly strong and an amazing warrior.

Stalkurn XVI - Drow Rogue - Patrick - Stalkurn as Stalkurn always is (Yes this is actually the 16th Stalkurn Patrick has actually played). His personality traits literally say "Is Great" and his "Ideals" are "To be Greater". His bonds say "I love myself". That should give you an idea of who this guy is.

Iroh - Human Ranger/Fighter - Cody - Really fucking hates dragons and will always kill them. Also a bounty hunter so his other favored enemy is "humans". Is very probably named after the one from "Avatar".

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Baldur's Gate

We get off the boat in Baldur's Gate, and the very first thing the party wants to do is go shopping. We sell off vendor trash. This includes some dragon scales and claws from a dragon we slayed during Lost Mine, except for Iroh who kept his probably to make armor or something out of later.

Stalkurn gets his rapiers and gloves enchanted.

Nicophel basically trades a gold tooth that he's been carrying for some tobacco and pipe weed for the jeweled pipe he got last session. He gets a garnet that he picked up in a dungeon set in a silver band primed for enchanting later on and fitted for his index finger. He also buys a jade comb to send home to his twin sister, Sylthiel, to bribe her into moving his share of the gold from the mine from the bank in Silverymoon and into the family vault instead. He also sends a letter to Droop, the contents of which are not as important as the fact that we're thinking of him.

Varis considers buying new armor but it's too expensive right now.

Iroh commissions a set of studded leather armor and asks the leather worker to use the dragon scales and dragon bones he has for decoration (called it) and got that enchanted.

We spend the night in Baldur's gate and in the morning head east for Greenest.

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We Go East

When we get to Greenest it's on fire and being attacked by a dragon. When we finally get into town we see a family running, the mother of which is ready to help fight the eight kobolds that have flooded the street and we jump into the fray. We dispatch the kobolds easily.

The family gets out fairly easily after telling us that the kobolds are with cultists who brought the dragon with them. We let them know the road to Baldur's gate is clear and Stalkurn, Varis and Iroh keep an eye out for things to loot while Nicophel pretends he doesn't hear them saying that and goes to help civilians up to the keep, where the family we helped said was safest.

On the way up we see several groups of cultists going around burning barns and causing trouble. Nicophel throws a fireball into one of them killing a large knot of people instantly, and we book it away up to the keep before they can retaliate.

We participate in another skirmish with some cultists attempting to leave at least one alive for questioning. Varis comes in, incapacitates one cultist, lifts his sword into the air and declares that we should "Kill the rest!". We make short work of them.

Varis hog ties the incapacitated cultist and we finally make our way up to the keep. Our party is the last group through the gate before they close and bar the doors. Cultists begin to assemble around the base of the hill outside the wall.

Inside the keep the people are in chaos and disarray, most with only the clothes on their backs. There is an older human male with a bandaged face doing a headcount and keeping track of how many people have made it into the keep. We are probably the only ones here that look as though we're capable so he approaches us.

He asks us who we are, and Nicophel is the designated diplomat so he explains that we came here tracking some slavers. "But it appears you have bigger problems."

Varis asks about the raid and the man explains that the cultists only seem interested in looting rather than hurting anyone. The man, whose name we now know is Nighthill, calls for a dwarf named Escabert the Red who shows us to a gutted armory room we can use to interrogate the cultist.

We immediately find out their leaders wear purple (small side note, everything Stalkurn puts on automatically turns purple and last session we stole some of the cultist regalia, this is going to be fun) and their encampment is to the east through a mountain pass and they keep their looted goods there as well as the slaves we've come to find. We find out there are a couple hundred cultists and an unknown number of mercenaries.

Iroh brands the cultist on the palm so that when he does the cultist hand sign it will be very easy to tell he's one of the ones we allowed to live so that we'll know he's a primary target for killing if he ever goes back to them. When we release him Stalkurn steals his pants.

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CQC Looking for the Back Door

We return and report what we found out to Escabert, who seems impressed by the amount of information we were able to find out in such a short amount of time. The problem is the church is under siege and there are people there who will want to come to the keep for safety and they can't open the doors to let them in or to let us out. He tells us there's an old tunnel that runs below the keep and hasn't been accessed in many years, and that there is a small chance there's something dangerous down there.

We find ourselves in a tight corridor infested with a very large number of rats. The party agrees and Nicophel tosses a Flaming Sphere into the swarm. A few of them die but the rest are only angered by it and at this point we're involved in another skirmish. The rats prove to actually be extremely difficult to kill. At this point we the party on a meta level realize we're dealing with a swarm.

When we finally kill all the rats (that the DM assures us usually wipe level 1 parties) and continue on our way.

There is a rusted metal gate at the end of the tunnel, more of a grate than anything, and it's so old it's caked with mud and plants and "you hope that's it". Varis attempts to smash the lock on the gate with an axe and rolls a natural one and hurts himself. Stalkurn finally reaches around him and picks the lock instead.

Varis kicks the door open and draws the attention of yet more cultists and kobolds in the process. These, we dispatch far more quickly than the rats, and get out of the tunnels to head for the church.

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Going to Church

We take the back alleys to the church, finding a couple of people hiding poorly in a haystack on the way. Stalkurn directs them to the tunnel that leads into the keep.

Stalkurn explains to us that this is the church of Chuntea, a goddess of grain and farming. There are groups of raiders circling the sanctuary and some scorch marks on the stone where some stupid kobolds tried to light it on fire anyway. They have a battering ram that they're attacking the front door with.

Stalkurn is still wearing his pilfered cultist gear that turned purple when he turned it on automatically, so he puts his mask on, walks around to where the cultists are and says "You all, there, what the fuck are you guys doing?"

The kobolds get out of his way and the highest ranking cultists says, "Eh, some towns folk held up in there, and they've got all sorts of religious shit in there too. I'm sure that's all valuable."

"Mate, you're going to waste this much time battering down a church when there's everything in the rest of this town?"

The cultists actually make very reasonable points during this dialogue and Stalkurn doesn't manage to convince the cultists to leave. We find out, however, that there are other cultists around the back trying to set the back door on fire and Nicophel takes off to go see what that's about.

We pretend to help the cultists break into the church, Varis stepping forward to axe the door open rather than set it on fire like the dumb kobolds are trying to do. It takes him two swings, but he does manage to crack it enough that we can see inside the church. The townsfolk who notice the back door is going down freak out and run deeper into the church.

Stalkurn and Varis are inside and Nicophel and Iroh are in the back, so we pincer the cultists and kobolds and handily slaughter them all. We make a plan to let them in the front door and kill him from the inside and a half elven priest tells us he also thinks this is a good idea. His name is Eadyan. (I had to ask how to spell that the DM pronounced it Eden)

Varis closes the door behind the last kobold that enters with the battering ram and begins the onslaught.

It's really a blood bath, it wasn't even fair for the cultists how easily we killed their asses. So we then proceed to put on our cultist disguises and pretend to usher the villagers through the town when actually we're escorting them to the tunnel so they can go into the keep and be safe.

From up on the ramparts someone lets us know the mill is on fire. From there, Stalkurn wants to go to the dragon where the army is amassing, Varis wants to go to the encampment (which we have decided is not a tactically sound decision due to the fact that they would realize we were outsiders since we'd be showing up without the rest of the army) and Nicophel wants to go to the mill. From there it's basically Iroh's decision what we do.

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Dragon Assault

The dragon starts to attack the keep while we're trying to make up our minds what we're doing. Escabert quaffs a potion and jumps off the rampart literally onto the dragon and we go in to help. Stalkurn and Nicophel both fail their saves and run away and Varis didn't want to do this in the first place so he's directing civilians and not risking his life against the dragon.

Our ranger Iroh, who was the only one who passed his save and has favored enemy against dragons, fucks it up so badly that it retreats.

So we start evacuating people and a humanoid that everyone here appears to be afraid of comes up slow clapping for us and says that we put up a bit of a fight and that he's feeling generous so that we can have his four prisoners if we send our best fighter for single combat. Varis has had his confidence shaken but we do manage to convince him to take the challenge.

Varis walks down the path to the mill. The creature he's fighting is at least seven feet tall, covered in scales and has reptilian eyes. Behind him are the four slaves (a woman, a teenaged boy in a blood soaked tunic and two children) being prodded by kobolds. The children are released immediately but he keeps the woman as insurance that no one interferes in their single combat.

Varis gets hit by the huge dragony creature and all of the cultists cheer. At this point our party are holding our breaths. Nicophel buffed him with a shield spell before he went in but that was all we could do for Varis before he went into this. He manages to hit once, at least, but it's very clear immediately that this is not an even fight.

Varis and the dragon bastard lock blades for a moment before the dragon bastard smirks and breaths lightning in Varis's face like an evil twat. Iroh discerns at this moment that the bastard is a full blooded half dragon, not a dragonborn. It's also at this point that we decide there are far too many kobolds for Stalkurn to reasonably go and assassinate them all and save the woman, Varis is locked into this single combat and if we step into save him it will be at the expense of the woman's life.

They both explode into a flurry of strikes and parries as the party and the assembled cultists and kobolds look on holding their breath. The half dragon breaks his series of blows for a moment and steps back to use his breath weapon again. Both of them appear hurt but neither looks ready to cave yet.

The half dragon darts back and throws a spear at Varis. It speeds past him, landing point first into the dirt as Varis presses the offensive, closing the distance between them and swinging. When the half dragon opens his maw again we know before he does it what he intends. Varis has been very quick getting out of the way of his breath weapons so far, but he's still taken quite a bit of damage.

With another pair of swipes of his sword, Varis drops the half dragon. The kobolds rush in to retrieve the fallen half dragon and meanwhile Varis turns to the keep and raises his sword in victory.

Nicophel gives Varis a healing potion and for the first time since we got here everything is quiet as the cultists withdraw. At this point it's probably around two in the morning and Varis stalks off to go find Escabert stuck in the mud.

Escabert brushes it off like he didn't just fall a couple hundred feet and he and Varis walk back to the keep. The party follows. Escabert found it difficult to believe that so many people lived through that and says he has the party to thank for all of this.

We assist the villagers in organizing themselves to find safe places to sleep for the night and organize their watches, which Stalkurn takes part in. Iroh sleeps on the ramparts so he will be in a convenient place to shoot if necessary and Varis goes to the church. Nicophel actually stays inside the keep because it's a quiet place to study.

At this point we take a level break.

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Encampment

We meet at the end of the road leading out of the city to the east and Nicophel attempts to smoke some of the tobacco he bought out of his filigree pipe and ends up coughing up a lung because he's never done that before, and Stalkurn just shakes his head at him.

Nighthill approaches us at the exit and asks us if we'd be willing to locate the raider's camp and do away with them for good, offers us a reward.

"We do have to eat so we're not going to say no," Nicophel tells him.

"We'll do about anything for the right amount of money," Stalkurn says.

There are two kinds of people.

Anyway he also gives us a crate of 10 healing potions. Iroh and Stalkurn take two each and Varis and Nicophel take three. Varis because he takes a lot of damage and Nicophel because he has all of 35 hit points and the party knows that if they need one of then Nicophel is prone to sharing.

We all put our dragon costumes on. Stalkurn's outfit just turns purple passively so we literally cannot have him disguise himself as anything less than a wearer of purple so we're going to have to be really super careful not to get caught by any of them. It's fortunate that he's stealthy.

On our way out of town a man with a busted leg asks us to go find his master, Leosin, an elf that was taken by the cultists. Disappeared the night before. The man gives us Leosin's broken staff and Nicophel casts mending on it and just carries it casually to return to the man. He tells us Leosin has been investigating this cult for months and that the information he has might be invaluable.

Varis asks Nicophel if he's quite finished with the pleasantries he's exchanging with the injured man and Nicophel gives a small smile and tells him that he is before we take off. We soon realize that the tracks on the way back to the encampment are deeper than the tracks too.

Nicophel's hypothesis is that they were loaded down with loot on the way back and Iroh soon confirms this theory.

We enter the mountains and eventually we see smoke rising in the distance. We assume we've arrived at the encampment and make a plan for the party to go in cloaked (all of us are wearing the normal disguises except for Varis who is in a purple trimmed robe but not the full purple version) and find out where the wearers of purple are so that Stalkurn can avoid them more easily. But it turns out to be just one small fire.

Over this campire there's a bird of some sort being roasted by a human wearing the same underclothes the cultists wear, but the weapons appear to be leaning up against the rock. There are kobolds in a corner and we're spotted as we come around the corner, but being in disguise it doesn't cause much trouble between them.

We do finally reach the encampment, leaving Stalkurn outside so that we can figure out where the wearers of purple are and find a way to avoid them. When we get in there most of them are unmasked and casual but Stalkurn is a drow and would totally stand out so we still have to do what we're doing.

We find up near the top of a plateau there's a well decorated tent outside a massive cave mouth.

When we get into the human part of the encampment Varis fails his charisma check so badly that people notice and Nicophel casts an illusion on him quickly to make him look human. Meanwhile someone notices there's some blue blood on the blade Varis is carrying.

Meanwhile back in the kobold camp Stalkurn is just chilling and not even actively trying to do anything.

They tell Varis to go lie down in an area that's in plane sight, and Nicophel asks him how much he trusts him. Varis says not very much and Nicophel tells him he needs to trust him more and tells him he could put him into a fake deathlike state and act like he died on the mat there.

Everyone goes back to what they're doing and we do find a minute for Varis to change out of the high and mighty robe and into a more normal one so we can disappear back into the crowd. Nicophel meanwhile illusions his own face to blend in and Varis goes back to get Stalkurn.

Iroh sees the slaves mining against one of the cave walls on the plateau above under the watchful eye of four fancier cultists (called it). We find out that they will be making for Baldur's Gate soon.

There is no way we can take on this entire encampment by ourselves so we decide to rescue the slaves and then ride for Baldur's Gate. Lucky for us no one guards the prisoners at night so we have a fairly easy job getting in to rescue them. Leosin is not here and the other prisoners tell us that they've been beating him badly and keeping him in a different place.

Nicophel casts Spider Climb (and sits in the slave tent to just focus on that) on Stalkurn, who quaffs a potion of invisibility and goes to rescue Leosin. Meanwhile Varis and Iroh go to spirit the rest of the slaves away with the use of "Pass Without Trace".

Stalkurn finds Leosin chained to a whipping post and easily unlocks his shackles. He proceeds to carry him down the mountain still with the use of spider climb. Leosin wants to stay behind because he hasn't gotten to see what's going on in the cave yet and we manage to convince him to leave with the rest of the people. Stalkurn meanwhile sneaks back into the cave still under the effect of Nicophel's Spider Climb spell and goes to see what's going on in there.

Immediately inside the cave Stalkurn finds that it's a big one, very wide and tall. Big enough to house a dragon. Stalkurn goes farther into the cave and finds a massive shrine to a dragon deity inside it. He also finds large dragonlike creatures in there. Stalkurn picks the lock the dragonlike mounts are behind and leaves the gate open so they can get out or wreak havoc on the encampment.

He then finds a bunch of lumps hanging from the ceiling, casts dancing lights very quickly so he can see what they are and most of them are rotting deer carcasses. He also finds a shit pit. Once we get out and a safe distance away, Leosin tells us what he knows.

He tells us the camp belongs to the cult of the dragon (Varis: No shit.) and that not everyone here is a full fledged member of the cult. A lot of them are mercenaries, and many of them are still working their way up to acceptance. The kobolds worship dragons and are here because there are some high ranking half dragons in the group.  The humans treat the kobolds like shit, however. The cult has been ranging far and wide to try and get treasure, Greenest was the closest one to them, the biggest of the towns they've attacked and the most profitable. Most of their slaves die and are then fed to drakes.

The cave in the back of the camp is off limits to anyone who hasn't been cleared by Mondath and Rezmir, who plans on hatching a clutch of dragon eggs in there. He is the one who set up the camp a couple months ago and is a black half dragon. The half blue dragon is Cyanrath, who is Mondath's right hand and is seldom far from her side. Tiamat is the goddess the cult is centered around and are trying to amass a horde to bring her back from the nine hells.

The treasure is in the cave. Stalkurn laments that he didn't find any of the good stuff.

We decide that if they succeed in rezzing Tiamat we're fucked along with the rest of the world so this is definitely our fight and we plan to go to Baldur's gate and enlist more help. We head back to Greenest with the slaves and that is where we leave off for the night.

Leosin thanks us but also requests that we return to the camp to take care of whatever goes on in the cave. We arrange it so that Leosin sends someone to warn Baldur's Gate of the assault and we agree to go back to the caves and take care of what's going on there while the bulk of their force leaves for the North.

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So it's 3 AM, the session is over, I had a hell of a lot of fun, everybody had at least one good character moment this week which is awesome. Hopefully we don't end up cancelling next week. I actually wrote most of this during play and I think it went pretty well so I'll be doing it again next time we play more than likely.

What I Learned Today: GPS stands for Global Positioning System, Blog is a truncated compound of the words "web log". "Truncated" means to shorten something by cutting off the top or end of it.

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