This session, my players followed the tunnel they’d discovered during the last session through to the Mere of Dead Men, a large salt-water marsh that sits between Waterdeep and Neverwinter, created when a wizard caused the land to become flooded to win a battle many centuries ago. I let the players know of its origins as they made their way through its stinking surrounds. After a day’s travel, they came upon an empty camp from which the lizardfolk had taken the treasure over the water to their lair. With night closing in, they set up watch and camped on the raised stone slab which was one of the only dry bits of land about.
Phosphorous (Paul) was on watch when the lizardfolk returned, paddling their canoes into the shore. He alerted the rest of the characters and they ambushed the unsuspecting lizardfolk. There was some talk of capturing them, but it was quickly forgotten by the spell-casters who were happily flinging around damaging spells, and the archers likewise were unable to take non-lethal shots. Despite this, the group were still able to capture one of the lizardfolk, who quickly forgave them killing all his friends (they had been bullying him), because he saw them as the potential liberators of his folk from the cruel bullywugs!
Bullywugs? It seemed that the cultists had a base in a nearby castle where they’d got both bullywugs and lizardfolk working for them. The bullywugs were oppressing the lizardfolk, so the lizardfolk wanted the bullywugs stopped. It’s quite likely the lizardfolk would be disappointed by what occurred.
The next day, the group moved off to the castle, where their friend got them past the initial lizardfolk and bullywug guards, and they settled into some serious “get the cultists” action. For the most part, they sneaked around, finding small groups of cultists and killing them. They avoided the bullywugs for the most part, dashing the hopes of the lizardfolk. (Actually, I think I didn’t really express to them how much the lizardfolk wanted the bullywugs gone instead of the cultists. Oh, well!)
The cultists, on the other hand, were having a very bad day.
The players were very interested to find the leader of the cultists, but she wasn’t in residence, although they discovered notes in her chamber detailing a magical portal beneath the castle and directions on how to use it.
The major battle happened at the end of the session, where they came across a great hall where the cultists were sorting through the treasures they’d accumulated – although there were fewer treasures than the group expected. Perhaps they’d already been taken through the portal? The cultists put up as much as a fight as they could, but the players had surprised them and took full advantage of the situation. The group reassured the kitchen staff that they weren’t here to kill them, and exulted in finally having found a lot of gold. There were a couple of questions about who the treasure actually belonged to, but returning it seemed somewhat infeasible at the present time.
So ended the session. This was the first part of episode six, which I estimate will take three of our 2-hour sessions to complete. There are probably between six and eight sessions left in the adventure, which means we should complete Hoard sometime in the New Year. I’ve been looking through Rise of Tiamat, and it looks like a very enjoyable adventure, albeit one that makes a lot of demands on the Dungeon Master. I’m planning to run that adventure after Hoard, although it does make the timing a little tricky as we move into the next season. It may be possible to have a couple of longer session to enable us to finish it in time. I guess we’ll see!