Played July 20th, 2016
Thaemin is in a general store restocking for the temple when a cottage outside bursts into flame. A quick examination of his surroundings reveals a blue dragon flying circles around the outskirts of town, breathing lightning down. Caravans that have come through both gates have begun to attack the town, pulling off the waterproof tarps covering the wagons to reveal swarms of kobolds.
The town guard are quickly overwhelmed by the surprise attack and superior enemy numbers. The villagers begin to flee towards the keep in the heart of the town. One small family in particular is fleeing past Thaemin, a pack of three kobolds descends on them and slits grampa’s throat immediately. A father leads them away, an older teenage son brings up the rear, and mother holds the hands of two children in the middle, all five of them pursued by the kobolds as soon as they finish stabbing grampa to death. Thaemin stands between the kobolds and the family and swiftly dispatches them, and the family is able to reach safety in the keep.
Thaemin’s first priority is the safety of Greenest’s Temple of Tyr, a well-fortified hall of justice on the edge of town. A family heads towards the temple just ahead of him, hoping to find shelter. The father of the family peers around the edge of the building at the corner to examine the building, and then he and his family flee. Thaemin listens in from a safe distance. From the sound of things, there’s something on the order of two dozen kobolds and at least a half-dozen humans surrounding the temple, shouting things like “come on out, won’t Tyr protect you?” “Aww, is Tyr afraid to fight?” Thaemin is displeased with the raiders’ insolence to say the least, but also horribly outnumbered, and they clearly aren’t able to get into the temple yet, so he leaves them for now and heads instead towards the keep.
As he crosses town, he comes across a pair of human mercenaries standing around what’s left of a family. Two parents lie on the ground with their legs maimed, surrounded by their dead children. One of the mercs has decapitated one of the kids and is laughing and taunting the parents with the severed head: “Help me, mommy, help me!” A cultist in a blue dragon mask watches with arms folded about ten feet away.
This scene wasn’t prepared in advance or anything. I just needed mercenaries doing some generically villainous things rather than standing around like MMO mobs waiting for players to come and kill them. The level of darkness here was kind of accidental, but it sure worked to get my brother engaged, so mission accomplished?
Thaemin attacks them, but these cultists and mercenaries are a fair bit more dangerous than kobolds and he soon finds himself pushed onto the back foot. The door to a nearby cottage splinters open, a mercenary tumbles through it and lands in a broken heap, and through the doorway steps Ront, the half-orc blacksmith of the town, wielding a greatsword. Between him and Thaemin, the cultist and mercenaries are quickly dispatched.
Most of the July 20th session was spent generating characters, so the actual gameplay was short.
Played July 21st, 2016
On their way into the keep, Ront and Thaemin note the presence of a dragonborn amassing an army of kobolds, cultists, and mercenaries in some buildings at the foot of the hill upon which the castle is constructed. The gates of the castle stand open to accept incoming villagers, but they’ll have to close it if that army begins to ascend the hill. Fortunately, they can’t camp at the gate without taking fire from the archers in the gatehouse.
After consulting with the town’s ruler Governor Nighthill, Thaemin learns that there’s a troop of ten soldiers who’ve been sent out from the castle to find more citizens and bring them into the safety of the castle. Thaemin suggests retrieving them to try and make an attack on the army being amassed and scatter them before they can attack, thus keeping the castle’s gate open. Nighthill gives his blessing to the mission.
Ront and Thaemin set out into the town. So far, the dragon has been avoiding the castle and its ballista defenses. He clearly doesn’t want any kind of fight, and has instead been patrolling the outskirts of the town, setting things on fire mostly at random. The outskirts of town happens to be where Thaemin and Ront are right now. The dragon comes swooping down the street across from the one they’re on, his wings tearing through the buildings to either side. The two of them are able to avoid the rubble, and fortunately the dragon does not even notice their presence. A few streets down, they find the guards, and Thaemin is easily able to convince the guards that he was sent by the Governor when he finds them, owing to his history in the town.
Can you tell that I’m floundering a little bit trying to hook up the party’s being in the town from the start of the attack with the Seek the Keep mission that begins the narrative? It doesn’t help that we decided we wanted the party to start out split up and come together over the course of the first mission, which means that if he happens to run into one of the side quests which, upon completion, would lead him back to the keep where I can get onto terra firma, he’ll be too drastically outmatched to seriously consider taking it on. This is what happened at the Temple of Tyr (which is the Sanctuary sidequest with the temple’s patron switched to match Thaemin’s backstory).
The party encounters a wagonload of treasure, but with ten soldiers in tow they have little difficulty carving through the horse-sized drake pulling it and its cadre of drake hound and cultist defenders.
So, this blog post gave me an altered encounter table to go off of, and I’ve been using that instead of the small and somewhat boring encounter table provided by Hoard of the Dragon Queen. This table replaces kobolds with dragon-dogs for reasons that remain unclear to me (I thought an explanation was included in a linked blog post, but now I can’t find it?). For the sake of some enemy variety in visuals if not mechanics, I decided to use drake hounds in some encounters and kobolds in others. I used the drake hounds here and then forgot to bring them up ever again.
When Thaemin and Ront return, however, they find that the size of the dragonborn champion’s army has increased since they left. By skirting around the edge of the hill, they get their force through the gates without confronting them, but Thaemin determines that the odds do not favor him even with twenty soldiers, mostly because he is uneasy about fighting the dragonborn without being able to count on some support from the guards.
Soon after, the dragonborn leads his attack, and Thaemin and Ront join the defenders on the walls. The ladder is raised to the wall loaded with a pack of kobolds on top of it, who leap off and engage in an immediate melee to distract the enemy while other troops come up behind. By knocking the attackers’ ladder down now and again, Ront is able to keep the attackers split up into relatively small and weak waves and prevent them from overwhelming the defenders, but this only holds them back for so long. As more and more cultists and mercenaries make it to the top of the wall, it gets harder and harder to find a spare action to knock the ladder down. The three guards accompanying them go down one by one, and then Thaemin goes down as well. Ront retreats into the gatehouse to make his last stand. There, joined by archers and Escobert the Red, he manages to defeat the enemy forces. The dragonborn champion has been directing the battle from the base of the wall, and growls his discontent at his troops’ defeat before returning to the cover of the buildings below to regroup. Thaemin has bled out and died during the battle.
In the Adventurer’s League, there’s a rule that all adventurers can receive “faction charity” revivals between the levels of 1 and 4, whether they’ve personally arranged a contingency for their death or not. I decided to extend this benefit to characters who hadn’t yet had an opportunity to join a faction. This deprives them of the XP gained for the session, but there wasn’t a whole lot to go around this abbreviated session anyway (we played a quick one mostly because my brother had enough fun with the last one to want to get back to it as soon as possible). The bulk of Thaemin’s XP deficit comes from everything he misses in the next session while waiting for a rez.