Let’s Play Horde of the Dragon Queen: Battle of Naerytar

Played September 17th, 2016

The party approaches Castle Naerytar with their new lizardfolk allies. The crumbling walls are surrounded by water, scalable by Robyn, the lizardfolk, and perhaps Arvensis, but all of the more heavily armored party members would have to leave their protection behind. Seeing no subtle route in, Thaemin and Cyanwrath agree that they’ve got a lizardfolk army so they may as well use it. Arvensis is not a fan of such an obvious route of attack, but he has no alternatives to suggest.

The small army charges Naerytar’s barbican under a hail of arrows and rocks from the bullywug defenders. The castle’s gates hang loosely on their hinges and there’s no barring them shut, so the battle is soon joined within the gate, with close to two dozen bullywugs and lizardfolk to either side. The bullywugs are quickly overwhelmed, in large part due to the heavy damage spat out by Ront, Cyanwrath, and Robyn, and retreat down the causeway to the central courtyard. Only a handful of lizardfolk and bullywugs wait in the courtyard, but as the alarm has been sounded, it’s about to get a lot more crowded.

Three heavy drakes join in the fighting, but even with their powerful jaws ripping lizardfolk limbs asunder, they can hardly even the fight between the routing bullywugs and the triumphant lizardfolk, let alone the powerful new allies the lizardfolk have found. The cult soon joins the fray to better effect, however. Eight dragonborn wielding scimitars wade in, and soon after a dragonborn champion leading a small army of cultists. Ront quickly plows through the scimitar-wielding dragonborn, Cyanwrath confronts the champion, Thaemin tries to keep the lizardfolk on their feet, but their numbers are beginning to thin under the weight of the opposition, made worse when bullywug reinforcements appear (the cowards had hidden in their barracks initially, but charged forward to confront the lizardfolk when the fight seemed to be turning in the cult’s favor).

A cultist lieutenant (of the same rank Cyanwrath once held), Dralmorrer Borngray, arrives to break the defense, leading six lizardfolk loyal to him and two more dragonborn champions. He and his champions fall upon Cyanwrath, who is barely clinging to consciousness with heavy healing from Thaemin. Even Ront, fending off the drakes and the cultist swarm, is beginning to wear out under the tide of enemies. Cyanwrath brings down Borngray with the aid of an arrow from Robyn, then hews down a champion, but the last seems primed to end him when Ront hacks him down the center from skull to sternum, his split brains spilling out onto the ground. Ront turns to confront the lizardfolk. “It’s cool,” Cyanwrath says, hefting his greatsword off the ground with a grunt of exertion, “I’ve got these guys. You should probably…should probably go protect Arvensis or something,” Cyanwrath gestures to Arvensis, who is standing behind the shieldwall of about eight lizardfolk who still remain in the fight, “yeah, you should worry about him. I got this.”

Borngray, as an elf Nazi who believes very strongly in a sort of racial destiny, is an excellent villain for roleplay with these heroes, who have all ended up with contradictory opinions on the nature of humanity/orcanity/draconity/etc. Ront believes he’s doomed to a life of war by his orcish blood, Thaemin thinks he is defined by his ideals and not by some kind of genetic legacy left by his sociopathic father, Robyn’s a free spirit who doesn’t really consider herself defined by anything, Arvensis believes strongly that his demonic heritage has an effect on him but that effect can be reversed if he understands it thoroughly enough, and Cyanwrath is a Nazi who thinks that Borngray is fundamentally correct but has the wrong demographic.

I’m very much hoping to get a chance to use Borngray again, since he was only around for a single round and had no chance to talk. He made his death saves, so it’s not off the table. Hopefully I can get the party into a dinner with Dr. No and they can talk about these things It’d bring up the question of what to do with Cyanwrath, whose desire to kill Rezmir and reclaim Hazirawn has overshadowed, but not eliminated or even especially reduced, his desire to see Tiamat deliver the world to the draconic races. It’d give Ront and Arvensis a chance to argue about their strongly opposed perspectives (each of these two not only disagrees about how racial destiny works, but are have their perspective on life largely defined by their opinions on that subject). I’ve gotta make this happen before the party reaches Parnast – at that point I want things accelerating towards climax.

Rezmir arrives, striking across the courtyard with four more champions and Hazirawn in hand. The courtyard has already been churned into mud and blood by the shifting boots of heavily armored combatants, there is hardly room on the ground for more corpses, but Rezmir and her champions manage to add a few more nevertheless. Cyanwrath runs to confront her and hews into her, driving her back with a series of vicious blows. Rezmir parries some blows and tries to roll with the others, but the second she manages to catch her breath, shadows spill out from her black dragon mask and she becomes virtually invisible. Then she hews Cyanwrath down. Ront goes to confront her next, but she draws back into the shadows again, and Ront is left to fight with the champions instead. He slays two of them in rapid succession before Rezmir emerges from the shadows to strike him in the back. She and her two remaining champions then bring him down.

The enemy is all but slain, but the lizardfolk have begun to waver. A quarter of their number are dead, and another half have fled for their wounds. Only a handful of enemies remain, but even after Rezmir departs, leaving her champions to finish up, the battle is uncertain. Robyn and Arvensis pull Cyanwrath to safety, Thaemin grabs Ront and drags him out while Snapjaw and what lizardfolk remain shield their escape. The handful of bullywugs and cultists remaining do not pursue.

The forces of both sides are shattered and exhausted, but in the end the cult still holds Castle Naerytar. On the other hand, most of the lizardfolk fled upon being badly wounded, while the fanatic cultists and the relatively flimsy bullywugs (who tended to go from healthy to dead with a lot less breathing room for retreat than the lizardfolk) have mostly been slain. After recovery, the lizardfolk will have a significant numerical advantage over remaining cult forces. On the other hand, this means giving the cult all night to prepare their defenses or evacuate the hoard.

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