Let’s Play Hoard of the Dragon Queen: Worst Festival Ever

Played August 14th, 2016

The following day, Thaemin meets Frume at the gate as instructed, where Frume and his most nimble squire are preparing a horse race. Frume invites Thaemin to join, and Thaemin agrees. Ront and Cyanwrath join the race as well, each hoping to beat the other, and Robyn decides hey, why not. The flag is waved and each of the riders urges their mount on.

Frume bolts right out the gate and leaves everyone else in the dust as they race across the bridge and through the streets of the city. Frume quite easily maintains his lead as they begin to tear down the main road of the city towards the castle at its heart, while Thaemin and Ront battle for second place, and a dozen feet behind Cyanwrath and the squire are similarly neck and neck. Robyn’s bucked from her horse early on, and while she swiftly remounts, she is left far behind. The race turns from the castle into narrowest, most twisted streets of the city as the track loops around towards the gate. Ront pulls ahead of Thaemin, and the squire pulls ahead of Cyanwrath alongside Thaemin. Frume is over the finish line well ahead of everyone else, Ront pulls into second, and Thaemin slips behind to place fourth behind the squire. Cyanwrath thought he was angry when the squire managed to pull ahead, but dear gods he is furious when Robyn comes from behind to leave him in last place.

The racers each rolled Animal Handling, then Athletics, then Animal Handling, then Acrobatics, and then Animal Handling again. Each roll represented one leg of the race. After each leg, the rolls were totaled to determine who was in the lead. I’m still finangling with my chase rules, so rather than bust those out, I went with this straightforward system instead.

Congratulations and consolations are handed out. The riders leave their exhausted mounts to the stable hands to recover their breath and join the townspeople as they head towards the festival square. The melee tournament occupies the remainder of the morning, and Robyn decides she’ll sit this one out. Ront, Thaemin, Cyanwrath, and Frume join in, along with another of Frume’s squires, this one tall and powerfully built rather than thin and lithe. Another three contestants fill out the rest of the roster, Gondarus, a tall and powerful local champion of Elturel, Captain Lee, head of the guard, and Sir Isslan, a knight come from Cormyr to join the Order of the Gauntlet under the auspices of Helm, the god of protection.

Ront beats Gondarus down quite handily, but Thaemin is unable to hold against the might of Frume’s powerful squire. Frume himself is knocked out by Cyanwrath, and poor Captain Lee is the first to taste the skill and fury of Sir Isslan. Ront avenges Thaemin’s honor by defeating the squire. Cyanwrath if placed firmly on the back foot from the very beginning of his fight with Isslan by a stunning blow to the head, and while he manages to hold his ground for a time afterwards, Isslan defeats him in the end. Ront and Isslan both proceed to the final bout. Isslan’s skill is matched evenly with Ront’s fury, the two coming at one another again and again and each time stepping away a bit more bruised than before, but both of them refuse to fall and grant victory to the other. Ront is shaky on his legs when Isslan presses his attack, but Ront manages to bob and weave around the attacks and slam his wooden sword into Isslan, knocking the formidable knight off of his feet and claiming the championship for himself. Cyanwrath’s only consolation is that he’s won the last two duels he had with Ront, and this doesn’t really count as a defeat. Ront never beat him personally. Still, he resolves to defeat Isslan in the jousting competition in the afternoon and restore his wounded pride.

This was just a series of one-on-one fights. I was originally going to have it be a free-for-all, but my brother wanted duels and I figured hey, why not.

Before the jousting competition, however, as high noon comes, is the archery competition. Robyn Hood decides this is more her speed and joins up along with Cyanwrath and three locals. Each round of the competition, everyone fires one arrow. The one whose arrow is farthest from the bullseye is eliminated and a new round begins. Two of the villagers are quickly trounced while Robyn and Cyanwrath make their marks well enough. In the third round, Robyn hits the bullseye dead-on, but Cyanwrath and the remaining local archer hit the same ring. The judge uses a marked piece of string to measure exactly how far from the bullseye each arrow was and delivers his verdict: Cyanwrath is eliminated. The joust, he says to himself, he’ll have it all back when he wins the joust.

Robyn Hood centers herself, fires an arrow, and ends up just outside the bullseye. It’s a good shot and should be enough. Then the local steps up and fires a shot of his own, also hitting just outside the bullseye. Robyn holds her breath as the judge approaches and…Robyn is eliminated, leaving the local no-name the champion. She goes to find a stiff drink and sits down with Arvensis, who has been reading a book at one of the banquet tables since the horse race in the morning.

This was just a ranged attack with a longbow. Lowest total is eliminated each round.

The joust is a series of lists with the first to three points winning the round and advancing to the next stage of a single elimination tournament. Each hit is worth one point if the opponent’s shield is struck, two if the lance shatters, and three if the opponent is unseated. Ront is exhausted from the melee still, so Thaemin and Cyanwrath are the only party members to joined, though they are rejoined by Frume, Lee, Isslan, and both of Frume’s squires. Filling out the tournament is Coranlass, an Elturgard paladin of Ilmater, the god of martyrs.

Thaemin first jousts with the lithe squire whom he lost the horse race to, and early on the two strike each other’s shields, however the squire then shatters his lance on Thaemin’s shield, taking the victory. Cyanwrath handily overcomes Coranlass to advance to the next stage, while Isslan beats out Frume’s larger squire and Captain Lee beats out Frume himself. Isslan makes short work of Lee in the following bout, while Cyanwrath jousts against the more lithe squire. Cyanwrath can’t seem to land a single hit on his target, however, while his own shield is struck again and again. He is shamefully beaten 3-0 by the lithe squire, who goes on to get crushed by Isslan.

Needless to say, he soon joins Robyn in her cups.

An Animal Handling check was used to gain advantage or disadvantage on attack rolls, and then lance attacks were made a 2d8+STR damage (for the sake of this tournament, I imported a rule from 3.5 wherein lances deal 2d8 instead of 1d8 if charging from horseback, which I’m only applying to tournament lances in tournament conditions in order to give the damage range I was familiar with rather than have to calculate a new one). 10 damage was one point, 15 damage was two, and 20 or more was three. We didn’t bother to play out the final joust, since all the PCs had been eliminated.

The jousting partition is cleared away, and an altar with five hollows is placed in its stead. The sun has begun to set, although Elturgard is as ever bathed in the light of its own undead-slaying orb. A number of paladins and clerics of assorted gods stand behind it, facing the crowds gathered at the banquet tables to one side. Ontharr Frume steps forward, holding a small idol of a clenched gauntlet, the symbol of Torm. “Today has been a bright day! Yet darkness gathers about. We shall not shrink from the darkness, for no sacrifice is too great to preserve the light! Torm, the god of courage, pledges his warriors to the Order of the Gauntlet!” He sets the idol into one of the five depressions in the altar and steps back.

Another paladin steps forward, this one with the scales of Tyr emblazoned on his breastplate, holding an idol of the scales in one hand. “Justice must prevail! All that is wrong shall be set right again! Tyr, the god of justice, pledges his warriors to the Order of the Gauntlet!” He places the scales of Tyr into another depression on the altar and steps back.

Now steps forward another knight, this one in the heaviest armor of all, a massive tower shield in one hand and an idol of a gauntlet holding aloft an eye in the other. “No evil can breach our defenses, and not the tiniest gap shall be left for some wicked thing to crawl through! Helm, the god of protection, pledges his warriors to the Order of the Gauntlet!” He places his idol onto the altar and steps back.

Another knight steps forward, this one with skull emblems on his pauldrons and a ribcage on his cuirass. “The innocent dead cry out for vengeance! Their cries will not go unanswered! Kelemvor, god of the dead, pledges his warriors to the Order of the Gauntlet!” He places the idol of Kelemvor, a bony hand clutching scales of justice, onto the altar, and steps back.

A cleric steps forward now, draped in a ragged red tabard. “We shall endure all the nightmares this world has to offer, and still we shall prevail! When all darkness has been washed away by time, we shall remain, and rejoice! Ilmater, god of martyrs, pledges his warriors to the Order of the Gauntlet!” He places the idol of Ilmater, two hands tied by a red cord, onto the altar and steps back.

All five of them now speak as one: “We are the Order of the Gauntlet! When evil strikes, we strike back!” And applause sounds throughout bright night of Elturgard.

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