Let’s Play Hoard of the Dragon Queen: To Elturel

Played on August 14th, 2016
Thaemin: 2,909
Ront: 3,326
Arvensis: 3,267
Robyn: 3,310
Cyanwrath: 5,264

The party recovers the eggs and returns to Greenest. Leosin has already left by the time they return, but he left a message behind with Escobert the Red, requesting the party meet up with him at Elturel, capital of Elturgard, which lies further down the trade route between Baldur’s Gate and Cormyr from the Greenfields (including Greenest). With the roundabout route the cultists are taking, and with their being weighed down by wagons and traveling on foot rather than by horse and by river, the party has a strong lead on them, so the party decides to oblige.

Along the way, the party spots an ogre and a small band of orcs leading about a dozen captive humans and elves along the road. Robyn Hood lays an ambush and the party attacks as soon as they draw near.

I had originally envisioned this as the ogre seeing the party and attempting to bribe them into looking the other way with about 50 gp. I fully expected them to refuse (the only person who’d even consider the offer is Cyanwrath, and he’s not going to give up his allies in the hunt for Hazirawn for pocket change), but I thought it’d be nice to show that while these guys are in fact evil, they’re still trying to make a living and would like to avoid unnecessary fights with well-armed opponents if they can manage it. Just because they’re bad guys doesn’t mean they’re video game red dot NPCs. I really should’ve realized that these guys were so blatantly in the midst of an act of evil as to trigger a KoS reaction from my brother, who started rolling for initiative before they even got within shouting distance. Oh, well.

The ogre’s wielding a small tree and the orcs fall upon the party in a storm of swords. One of them, wearing a wolf’s head hood, remains behind the lines and paralyzes Ront. Arvensis blankets the battlefield with scorching rays aimed at the ogre and shaman, the stray missiles setting the long grass ablaze. Robyn volleys on the ogre, her arrow splitting into thorns to hit the nearby orcs. Cyanwrath and Thaemin carve into the enemy orcs to thin the crowd while the backline focuses on the big enemies. Ront joins them once he breaks free of his paralysis.

My brother generally tends to spread his attacks out between multiple targets. I do this too, but only because neither cultists nor orc marauders are very coordinated, so they just attack the nearest target and end up splitting attacks between the front line (or occasionally they outnumber the front line by enough to loop around the back and attack Robyn and Arvensis). I’m not actually sure why my brother does it, but it makes sense that a party that consists primarily of whoever happened to have PC levels in Greenest when it was attacked wouldn’t be very coordinated either.

After half the orcs and the ogre have dropped, the remaining orcs’ morale begins to waver. The shaman attempts to rally them, but fails miserably, and the orcs flee. The shaman, with his frontline crumbling, runs as well. Those with ranged attacks pick off a few more enemies on the way out, while Thaemin sets about freeing the prisoners and claiming the supplies carried by the fallen orcs and the ogre. The captives explain that they were taken from a handful of minor villages in the Greenfields, and that they’ve heard rumors of other villages being attacked as well. It seems some of the less scrupulous inhabitants of the region are taking advantage of the dragon cult’s raids to do some damage of their own. The food recovered from the orcs will be enough to get the captives to Elturel, from whence they will hopefully be able to find their way back to the villages they were taken from.

This encounter was not explicitly written into Hoard of the Dragon Queen, but it was advised that there be an encounter on the way to Elturel, so I took one of their hooks and elaborated on it a bit.

The party arrives in Elturel and meets with Leosin at the Black Antlers Tavern, where he introduces them to his friend and ally Ontharr Frume, a paladin of Torm, the god of courage, in full plate armor. While Thaemin speaks with Frume of their adventures so far, Leosin quietly takes Robyn to a hidden back room. He isn’t entirely working alone, he explains, but has instead been working with a secret group called the Harpers, dedicated to shattering the power of the tyrannical and granting power to the helpless and carefully guarding knowledge (especially magical knowledge) to ensure it does not fall into the wrong hands. While the Harpers have no territory per se, their strongholds are mostly in Cormanthor, and they have few agents out here on the Sword Coast. Leosin’s followed Robyn’s career as a bandit/smuggler with a heart of gold from a distance, and now that she’s been embroiled in the mess with the dragons, he’d like to formally induct her into the Harpers. This is done by giving her a pin. The Harpers aren’t big on ceremony.

Robyn’s first mission as a Harper is to go to Baldur’s Gate and await the arrival of the Cult of the Dragon, then follow their wagon train until she finds out where they’re taking the hoard and if there are any wyrmspeakers besides Rezmir. They got a good long look at Leosin while he was captive, but they’ve barely seen Robyn at all. Switch out her green clothes for red and she’ll probably be halfway unrecognizable. Robyn accepts the mission, and mentions she’ll try to get her party to follow her.

Arvensis is waiting for her outside the back room. Paranoid and perceptive, he’d noticed her leaving and listened in on the conversation within. He promises not to reveal Robyn’s secret to Thaemin or Ront (and obviously not Cyanwrath, whose identity as a defecting cultist has been kept from the others – he’s keeping his distance from Leosin to avoid recognition).

Frume informs Thaemin of an alliance between the paladins, clerics, and other faithful of various churches to stand against evil on the Sword Coast. This alliance has been working informally, particularly against the Cult of the Dragon working as the muscle to back up Leosin and other investigators, but tomorrow they’re going to formally join forces. The alliance, known as the Order of the Gauntlet, will be accepting new members into their ranks after they’re officially united against evil at the end of a festival the next morning, and Frume invites Thaemin to stick around and join. Since they still have quite a lead on the cult, Thaemin agrees. Frume tells Thaemin to meet him at the Elturel gate the next morning.

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