Hoard of the Dragon Queen - MN

Strange Events in Baldur's Gate

Here is the list of strange events Ontharr Frume’s men have observed in Baldur’s Gate, as well as some of the progress the party has made investigating them.

1) Local exotic pets dealers have reported a spike in demand for lizards of all types, particularly magical varieties.

- Swalgar and Eris met an Orc Kitten Salesman, saying he had been pushed out of his pet shop on the docs by lizard dealers.

2) Local theives guild recently fell apart, subtle war going on among leading criminal families.

3) Two noble families – the Devingshires and Crompettes, have recently been drawn into a rivalry, though no one can figure out why.

4) Strange figures have been seen moving around the local brawling and wrestling rings, pulling aside winners and talking with them

- Beef did well at a fight, and was invited to a more exclusive fight later in the week.

5) Dueling with double-sided padded flails has become all the rage among the children of the local nobility

6) Benedict Hightree a minor noble and former guardsmen who came into wealth late in life has started up a large trade company with his son in law, Joriah Westland, despite neither having ever shown an aptitude for trade.

- Barakas has expressed interest in investigating this.

7) The local dwarven community has recently sworn off alcohol entirely.

8) All turnips entering the city have been disappearing from the docks, even when under heavy guard

9) A wandering troup of Gnomes recently passed through, and many local halflings have been imitating their exploits

- Darian found some of these Halflings, and has begun organizing them into a criminal circus.

10) The local homeless have been congregating in a monthly “Hobo Congress” discussing radical political ideas.

- Barakas has been proclaimed King of the Hobo’s, and is attempting to organize them into an information gathering ring.

11) Desertion among the city guard, particularly those assigned to guard the walls at night, has greatly increased.

12) A spate of armed robberies against small street vendors has been observed.

13) Local street urchins have been observed playing a new game involving seven nets, two balls, a rope, and discarded pieces of wood.

14) Drunks travelling home from taverns on Sunday nights have reported assaults my a man with a cape and a black mask, claiming to be “bringing justice to the night.”

15) Mysterious activity around Temple of Eros. Never had a major presence before, has been attracting a lot of people in the last few months.

16) Local orphanages have been completely emptied. While this would normally be a good thing, the “spooky demeanor” of their new “parents” has caused concern.

17) There has been a noticeable increase in wild eyed preachers wandering the streets and damning the gods.

18) Theaters have reported a dramatic increase in demand for plays with darker themes. Plays about the Binding of Tiamat have proven particularly profitable, though some theaters have reported negative reactions to the ending.

19) A chain of nautical themed shops, selling a dark and hot beverage reported to bring “Vim and Vigor” has recently set up business across the city. Despite charging exorbitant prices, they have done great business, and lines out the doors each morning are common.

20) Despite all this strange activity, and a general increase in crime and misbehavior, no murder has been reported to the city guard in the past five weeks.

Session 3

After a well deserved night’s rest, the party awoke to investigate the cave at the back of the cultists camp. Following Leosin’s request, they were to gather information about the cult’s activities, and hopefully destroy the dragon eggs maturing deep in the cave.

Upon waking, however, the party was stunned to discover Eris had come down with some horrible illness rendering her unable to do anything but trudge behind the party and heal them between combat. Never the less, the party moved to investigate the cave around mid-day, after Darian had scouted ahead and confirmed the main cultist force had left the camp.

Approaching the cave, Beef’s Orc Eyes noticed movement within the entrance. Approaching with caution, the party was prepared when two dangerous looking cult assassins ambushed them in the entrance, and defeated them while receiving only modest injury. While investigating their bodies, Barakas found several strange amulets depicting Tiamat, the five headed goddess of evil dragons. He collected them, and proceeded to find several more throughout the adventure. Ahead, the party saw a set of stars, descending into what appeared to be a fungal garden.

However, Beef alsonoticed a hidden passage toward the back, and set off without informing the party. He found a narrow passage through the rocks, and was slowed down enough for Darian to catch up. Reaching a fork, they headed north to find mostly emptied treasure room, and a single sleeping cultist who Beef bravely crushed into goo. The room was found to contain meager amounts of gold, which the party split amongst themselves.

Moving south down the fork, the party encountered an ambush in a crowded barracks. Swalgar bravely held the front line while Beef and Darian used their impressive athletic abilities to move through the crowded room and flank the enemy. Afterwords, the party patched up, and lined up at a barricaded door, and prepared to breach and clear.

Beef’s mighty blows knocked the door off it’s hinges, and left the guards braced against it prone on the ground. Past them, the party saw a lavishly decorated room, with a large central table, several impressive tapestries, and a pair of well stocked bookshelves. The room contained several cultists and guards, along with a purple robed woman who looked to be in charge. Recognizing her importance, the party prioritized attacking her, with Darian pulling off some Jackie Chan-esq ladder moves to strike her while was still sitting at her desk. Beef followed, leaping onto the table and performing another leaping attack into the center of the fray. While Barakas threw fire all over the place and Swalgar dueled with a single poor guard who was having a truly terrible day, Beef and Darian continued their assault on the cultists robed leader, who received healing and protective spells from her followers. Eventually, she was able to land a Hold Person on both of them, and made a break for a concealed rope ladder. However, Barakas took advantage of his accidental levitation to fling himself across the room and land a Thunderwave, killing the last standing cultist and sending his leader plummeting to the bottom of a pit.

After narrowly dodging a blast of lightning Langdedrose threw up the ladder shaft, the party cut the ladder and looted the room. At the leader’s desk, Darian uncovered a letter written in a language he didn’t understand, and something that appeared to be a ciper book. He also found an extremely impressive set of ceremonial robes, and a pair of scabbards decorated with draconic images. Barakas found several more of the amulets he was collecting. The party withdrew to the barracks, and rested for an hour.

After their rest, the party progressed down the stairs into the fungal garden. Darian scouted ahead a noticed the left path through the garden appeared to me much more used than the left, but as Beef made his way down to join him, he triggered a trap and tumbled down the right path, into a patch of angry, sentient fungi. The party moved quickly to rescue him, with Darian and Barakas using fire to quickly dispatch the dangerous, yet slow moving plants. After this, the party paused, noticed the cave opening into a wide, tall cavern ahead, and …

Session 2
The Camp

After a much needed rest following the raid on Greenest, the party (excluding Beef the Barbarian, who awoke early to lift) was woken by Mayor Nighthill with an ill thought out request to investigate the raider’s camp. The party accepted his truly absurd offer of compensation, and left with defector Fred in tow, to investigate the camp.

On the way out of town, they were approached by a monk who recognized Darian “Fire-Tongue”, and asked him to look for their mentor Leosin Erlanthar, who had been abducted during the raid while gathering information on the Cult of the Dragon. Darian agreed, snuck the young monk some liquor, and arranged for him and his companions to stay the night in the keep.

Initially, the party attempted to be stealthy, but stumbled headfirst into a group of mercenaries and kobolds who had fallen behind. Some fast talk from Darian convinced them they were interested in signing up with the Cult. The stragglers warned the party of a rear guard at a pass up ahead, which they were able to bypass through ciming a collapsed bluff wall. Darian and Beef raced to the top, with Darian winning by a hair’s breadth. Once the way was confirmed clear, the party scaled with the help of a rope, decided to not attack the rear guard, and proceed toward the Cult’s camp.

The party managed to enter without difficulty, despite their late arrival, but shortly afterwords Swalgar Grokensharn was recognized by a cultist. Swalgar chased after this cultist, and …dissuaded Eris “Stephanos” Vakarian from following. He met Langdedrosa Cyanwrath again, expressed his admiration, and was escorted from the camp. He spent the remainder of the chatting with the centuries and gathering information about the cult and it’s mercenaries.

From here, the party split up to investigate the camp, in their own unique ways.

Beef headed straight to the mercenary’s section of the camp, and proceeded to party the night away. He defeated another Half-Orc in an arm wrestling contest, impressed everyone around with Feats of Strength, and eventually made some money arm wrestling all comers with the help of Barakas .

Speaking of Barakas, he and Darian began the night by conning some money from a Cult of the Dragon paymaster. After this, Barakas asked some probing questions to Cult members, drew attention to himself, and eventually joined Beef around the camp fire.

Darian snuck off to find Leosin. He found him tied up away from the rest of the prisoners in rather rough shape, and learned he had allowed himself to be captured to learn more about the cult’s activities. Leosin informed Darian that the cult had been raiding communities across the realms, and paying far too well for mercenary assistance with these raids. He had also learned of a Half Black Dragon named Rezmir, who appeared to be a high ranking member of the cult. Rezmir had visited the camp, but was not currently there, and had a clutch of Black Dragon eggs maturing the the cave toward the back of the camp. He asked Darian to investigate the cave when the main body of raiders left the camp the next morning, and assured him he could sneak off on his own without being noticed.

Eris performed a song for Langdedrosa about his valor and skill in battle, much to his approval. She was then instructed to perform for the mercenaries, and did so. After putting on quite the show, she investigated the camp, spending some time at the entrance with Swalgar and the guards, and some time attempting to talk her way into the cave, to no avail. As the night wore on, she returned to the mercenary camp, performed a bit longer than she was welcome, and drew attention to herself. When instructed by Cultists to let the hired help sleep, she claimed she was merely attempting to stir in them a love of Tiamat, which didn’t go over that well. She was praised for her enthusiasm, instructed to show up in the morning to begin initiation into the Cult, and told to go to bed.

During this whole kerfuffle, Darian and Beef restrained Barakas from joining in on Eris’s plan, and possibly making things much worse.

From here, the party sought to sneak out of the camp. They freed a pair of young prisoners, snuck out, and met up with Swalgar. The party decided to camp nearby, out of the way of the raider’s likely path, and investigate the cave on the morrow.

At some point along the way, Fred was lost. Did he fall in a ditch? Get lost? Rejoin the cult for their truly world-class compensation and benefits package? Or merely return to his dark fortress, to continue manipulating events across the Sword Coast, to eventually be revealed as the true mastermind behind these events? Only time will tell………..

OOC – Few notes. First off, expect the pace of leveling to slow down from here on out. The “episodes” into which the campaign is divided tend to get longer from here on out, and I will be padding a few of the duller ones out with some side plots related to the party’s backgrounds. Unless our sessions run very long, a level a session shouldn’t be the norm from here on out.

Also, last night i had a good time with the lighter, “drunken’s and dragons” tone. Obviously, we don’t need to chug skittles vodka every session, but I’d appreciate feedback if the rest of the group liked it as well. If we’d like the game to be generally irreverent and light hearted like last night, I can certainly make that happen

Session 1
The Raid on Greenest

The session began with the local harvest festival. Beef won a strong man contest, Darian and Eris performed for the crowds, Swalgar observed, and Barakas brooded and spread rumors amongst the local hobos.

As local’s Linan and Cuth Swift were attacked by Kobolds while heading back home with their kids. They ran back to the main festival area, were defended by the party, and proceeded to make their way to the keep. Darian did some kung foo roof ambush bullshit, Beef smashed a Kobold in half. Swalgar healed Cuth of his wounds after the fight, and Eris healed Beef’s wounds while appreciating his bulk.

On the way to the keep, the party ran into a group of guards and an acolyte of the Cult of the Dragon who were raiding a home. Darian continued to borrow moves from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Barakas decided the best way to defend this home was to burn it down, and Swalgar captured a mercenary who had been looting the house, who they later learned was named Fred.

At the keep, the party met local militia leader Escobar the Red, who was holding the gate before it was shut. The party proceeded to interrogate / traumatize Fred, leaving Eris somewhat frustrated at the ratio of Bad Cop to Good Cop. He revealed he was a mercenary hired to work for the Cult of the Dragon raiding local farming villages. He mentioned they were gathering wealth from the area, with the help of kobold tribes, and that there were eggs of some sort being held back at their camp. He agreed to lead them there after the raid, and cowered in the corner of his cell with a blanket and some cocoa. The party also met Mayor Nighthill, an old eccentric, possibly senile man who somehow managed to be elected leader of this town.

The party then pushed some raiders out of the Sally Port, In a crowded, close quarters fight, Beef was beaten up after charging in recklessly, Darian breathed fire, and Barakas shocked a lizard dog half to death with his Witch Bolt. Barakas then covered the entrance with a Minor Illusion, while Eris repaired the damaged gate with Mending, and the Sally Port was sealed.

The party then took a short rest, in which Eris put on a concert, Beef and Swalgar tended to their wounds, and Darian convinced Fred there was at least one nice member of the party. Mayor NIghthill then requested they deal with an apparent raid on the town’s Mill and food store, suggesting they take a secret passage that would drop them off at the river.

Darian, with the help of another Mending cast by Eris, picked the broken locks and open the path. Swalgar walked brazenly out the gate, and somehow managed to avoid being seen by a patrol. He then convinced him he was a Cult Mercenary, and led them into an ambush. In the fight, Eris attempted to start a Kobold uprising, but but before this could happen the remaining Kobolds were crushed to goo by Barakas’s Thunderwave. The acolytes were quickly disposed of, and the corpses were hidden in the river. The party then found a boat, and proceeded downriver toward the mill.

At the mill, Eris and Darian scouted ahead, and found a two merc’s and a cultist acting like they were about to light the mill up. Confused by their unorthodox tactics (as well as some poor communication on the DM’s part) they charged in, and with the help of their late arriving reinforcements, managed to defeat the raiders. After this, more mercenaries hiding in the Mill that Darian had spotted earlier revealed this was just a poorly conceived ambush, and just decided to switch sides rather than continue working with the poorly led cultists.

After this, the party withdrew to the keep. and waited out the siege. Off stage, an indolent Blue Dragon conducted some half-hearted harassment of the barricades, but withdrew when hit by a single arrow from a guard.

As the sun was rising, a Blue Half-Dragon named Langdedrosa Cyanwrath used some hostages to challenge a defender at the keep to a duel, before withdrawing his forces. Beef and Swalgar arm-wrestled, and Swalgar won the right to enter the duel. Before he could even move, Langdedrosa blew him down with his Lightning Breath, and released the hostages, and left the battlefield. Barakas threw a Fire Bolt at him in spite, and Langdedrosa just turned the other cheek and continued his withdraw.

OOC – This was my first session DMIng in awhile, and it wasn’t perfect on my part. I’d appreciate any feedback you’d have to offer. Frankly, I wasn’t super happy with how this part of the campaign was set up. Originally, the keep basically acted as a quest hub during the siege, with no particular order to do anything. I cut a few encounters (a long hostage situation and a ranged duel with the harassing Blue Dragon) in order to stitch the encounters into a narrative that made sense, and to keep this to one session. The later episodes are more flexible and open ended, and look better overall. Looking forward to the next time we can play!

Session 0
Background Information

Our story will be told in the Sword Coast region of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. As I said in our planning meeting, we’ll be using the Greek Pantheon with Bahamut and Tiamat added, rather than the standard FR one, as it is enormous and overly complicated.

The Sword Coast is, relatively speaking, a prosperous and peaceful region. It has a large sea to the West, and the coast runs more or less straight north, from the relatively temperate region around Baldur’s Gate to the arctic region of Icewind Dale. The climate can generally be described as temperate, even the southernmost regions have real winters, and even the northernmost regions have warm enough summers to be relatively fertile.

Politically, there are no major states controlling wide swaths of territory. The three major cities of Baldur’s Gate, Waterdeep, and Neverwinter are the richest and most powerful polities, but they only control their immediate vicinities. Trade flows relatively freely across the region, and war is largely unheard of, with most elites concerned more with wealth than glory.

However, this does not mean the region is entirely peaceful. The very lack of large states and armies that prevents war also leaves large swaths of territory effectively unguarded. Bandits, Brigands, and Pirates are all common, Goblins, Kobolds, and Orcs regularly terrorize the countryside, and vicious beasts are a common sight outside the major centers of civilization. Beyond their walls, the map is in a constant state of flux, as settlers and entrepreneurs attempt to carve communities out of the wilds, with some prospering and others perishing.

The campaign starts in the (rather blandly named) city of Greenest, a small but prosperous commercial center of a farming region, located a few hundred miles inland from Baldur’s Gate. It is late fall, the day of a harvest celebration, and farmers from around the area have gathered to trade and celebrate. You all have, for various regions, found yourself at this celebration, centered in a large market area on the outskirts of the town.

While the mood is jovial, there is a sense of foreboding. Rumors abound that the Cult of the Dragon, mad worshipers of the imprisoned god Tiamat, have been stirring up trouble throughout the southern Sword Coast. Far more organized than the typical mob of raiders, they have stuck several nearby communities, and while the local farmers have been too occupied with the harvest to notice, some in the know fear Greenest may be the next on their list …

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