Hoard of the Dragon Queen, sessions 13-14

Things have been pretty busy around here as we reach the end of the year, so I’ve fallen a little behind with updating my blog. Here’s a combined session report for sessions 13 & 14 of Hoard of the Dragon Queen, which brought my group to the end of Episode 6.

We finished the last session with the group having cleared out most of the cultists from Castle Naerytar, except for the central keep, although they didn’t know this at the time. Their initial explorations in the thirteenth session concentrated around the north-west tower, which had been used as bedchambers for most of the cultists they’d already killed in the main hall. They also discovered the stairs down to the caves below the castle, but they chose not to explore them yet.

From the tower, they were able to see into the inner courtyard, where a number of guard drakes were on watch. The window didn’t give a good vantage point for archery, although that didn’t stop Adran (Lewis) from trying; leaning out the window with someone holding onto him didn’t seem like quite the easiest way to fight them.

At this point, the group saw a couple of cultists leaving the central tower and walking towards the great hall. Most of the players raced downstairs to intercept them; others dallied a bit and Adran finally decided that climbing down the wall was a preferable way of getting there. Neither of the cultists knew what hit them as the party’s rogues ambushed them once they entered the hall. Lewis discovered that getting to the bottom of the tower just made him the only target the guard drakes could attack! Much hilarity ensued, with drakes chasing party members around the courtyards, while some of the more mischievous players barred the doors to the Great Hall, preventing the fleeing members from returning to safety! (Cue Yakety Sax).

Eventually, the group got serious again and slew the drakes. They then focused their attention on the central tower. The cultists within had locked the door, so rather than trying to pick it, they decided that climbing the tower and getting through the open top, which had been converted to an observatory, a much better idea. It was, too, although it was great seeing Adran failing his Athletics rolls to climb it rather spectacularly. We were much amused when he used a climber’s kit to anchor himself 20 feet up, only to realise it would only stop him falling more than 30 feet… he promptly fell back down at that point.

The first to the top put a rope down to allow everyone to climb up, only to be attacked by gargoyles as he did so. During the battle, one more character entered the combat each round, although the first up was rather savaged by the gargoyles by the time the last arrived!

With the gargoyles defeated, the group perceived a slow hand-clap from nearby: Dralmorrer Borngray, the leader of the cultists in the castle, had been much amused by their battle. He taunted the group and finally attacked along with the rest of his cultists. Unfortunately for Borngray, the party was nowhere near as depleted as he’d hoped, and soon the cultists were dead and the party were looting their corpses. And that is where we ended the thirteenth session.

The fourteenth session saw the party actually heed the cries of Snapjaw, the lizardfolk who had led them here in the first place, as the group confronted the bullywugs. The bullywugs and their leader, Pharblex Splattergoo (see awesome picture) had realised the cultists had been defeated, and in the time when the party had rested after defeating Borngray, had taken control of the remainder of the castle. Their moment of glory had come!

Alas for Pharblex, it was a very short moment of glory as the bullywugs were slaughtered by the party, who, by this stage, had some extremely powerful magics at their command.

The remainder of the session was spent exploring the caves beneath the castle. There wasn’t that much here – a few stray bullywugs and giant frogs, for the most part. A gray ooze was avoided (along with its treasure; sorry, guys!) and the group found the magic portal they’d learnt about in Rezmir’s chambers pretty easily.

One thing gave them trouble: retrieving the treasure that Pharblex had in his underground lair, which was protected by a number of traps. The group were dreadful at disarming the traps, and eventually set them off with magic that allowed them to remain outside the room; they then fled from all the spores that erupted from the chest after it was opened. After having a rest, they returned to find the spores settled, but the chest was empty! I pointed out they’d gotten quite a bit of loot from Borngray, and they prepared to step through the portal to what they feared was the lair of a black dragon, having seen it through the telescope in the observatory…

And that could wait for the next session!

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