Let’s Play Hoard of the Dragon Queen: Construction Ahead

Played August 27th, 2016
Arvensis: 4477

Cyanwrath: 6723
Robyn: 4265
Ront: 6072
Thaemin: 4078

The cult caravans halt for only a day in Waterdeep, and during that day the party spends their gains, ill-gotten and otherwise, hands off the black dragon hatchlings to a woman named Elia, who Arvensis’ academic contacts put the party in touch with. She spends most of her time in the wild speaking with metallic dragons, who have accepted her as sort of an honorary hatchling dragon due to her friendship with Otaarylliakkarnos, whom Cyanwrath immediately shortens to “Otie.” Most of the party soon follows suit, because seriously that is way too long a name. Elia promises to get the hatchlings to Otie, and assures Cyanwrath that Otie will raise these as though they were her own brood and do all in her power to make them good and true creatures. Cyanwrath is mostly just glad that they’re going to live, at least until young adulthood, which is several decades away and in any case a dragon’s life to young adulthood is about as long as Cyanwrath’s entire life will be, so even if they go evil and Otie ends up killing them, they can hardly complain. And hey, there’s three of them, maybe they’ll end up killing Otie and carve out a few fiefdoms for dragonkind, or better still, maybe they turn Otie to the dark side. Tall order for hatchlings, but hey, he can dream. After a very definitely not tearful shut up Thaemin farewell to the hatchlings, Cyanwrath rejoins the party as part of the caravan heading out to Neverwinter.

If anyone ends up taking the “keep the eggs” route, you need the eggs to hatch eventually, because they’re explicitly stated to have been left behind because they’re about ready to. I recommend spending more time on the dragon hatchlings than I did. We never even got around to naming them, and they didn’t have distinct personalities, which would’ve made this farewell less poking fun at the idea of Cyanwrath having a soft side and more of that, but with a bit of sincerity to it because we’re actually saying goodbye to some tiny NPCs with names and feelings and stuff. Another missed opportunity.

The caravan isn’t really heading to Neverwinter so much as to Carnath Roadhouse, an inn on the way to Neverwinter that was abandoned during the Spellplague and since reclaimed and used as a supply depot to repair the road from Waterdeep to Neverwinter, which was another casualty of the Spellplague. It’s a fairly short trip with a fairly large caravan, wending past the Sword Mountains and the Mere of Dead men, adjacent to which is the roadhouse, but even with the short length of the trip the caravan falls under attack multiple times from orc raiders out of the mountains, lizardmen out of the mere, and a human warlord and rival to the orc tribe. The attacks are repelled, albeit only after heavy casualties to the guards. Over a quarter of them are wiped out, but the party pulls through and arrives at the roadhouse.

Played August 28th, 2016
Arvensis: 4791
Cyanwrath: 7060
Robyn: 4882
Ront: 6410
Thaemin: 4916

My brother enjoyed the random combats well enough because it meant more XP, so that’s one point for mechanical rewards papering over patches of sparse content. I wish it had a bit more for me to do besides run NPCs, but this adventure path was produced on a harsh deadline and is generally quite good, so I’ll forgive this weak spot.

A bit of snooping around quickly reveals that the treasure hoard goes into the warehouse strongroom, the only key to which is held by Bog Luck, half-orc foreman of the warehouse, and that the treasure then does not come out. This is clearly not the cult’s Tiamat summoning site (Rezmir was here recently, the laborers staying here report, and she’s certainly not around anymore, nor are most of her escorts), so they must be getting the treasure further on somehow or another. A friend of the cultist murdered just before the party entered Waterdeep is also spreading rumors about Cyanwrath, claiming that he’s a backstabber too cowardly to face others in a straight fight ever since he got smacked down by his last boss. Cyanwrath is clearly going to murder this person, and Robyn decides she may as well take the opportunity to break into that strongroom.

Robyn climbs up the wall of the warehouse, slips past the guards, picks the lock on the strongroom, and finds it full mostly of the cult’s treasure. She pilfers some of their loot first, hundreds of gold, some valuable gems (a banded agate takes the cake valued at 300 gold) and some masterwork crossbows with gold inlays and gems, plus a powerful healing potion. Her greed sated for now, Robyn starts looking around for how treasure is getting out of this place.

Outside, Cyanwrath has cracked the cultist’s skull through her helmet and she’s dropped. Her allies have rushed to her aid and Cyanwrath is standing between them and their fallen comrade. The guards and laborers exchange a few coins from the bets on the fight. The cultists attack Cyanwrath, and Ront and Thaemin wade in to support him, while Arvensis keeps out of it.

Inside, Robyn discovers a hidden tunnel. A crate has been nailed down atop it so as to hide it, and though the crate is empty and easy to tip aside, the nailing down proofs it against casual nudges. Robyn slips back into the warehouse proper as the fight outside dies down, the cultists mopped up by Cyanwrath and Ront. A few attempt to flee, but are shoved back into the circle by the jeering laborers and guards. In the aftermath, greedy laborers run to ransack the cultists’ rooms, but Cyanwrath clears them out with a single deathly glare. Inside the party finds wealth, but little in the way of clues. Correspondence only indicates that they should bring the treasure as far as they already have and indicates that it will be transported from here into the Mere of Dead Men, but having already found the tunnel, this is not much of a revelation.

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