My home group recently started the Hoard of the Dragon Queen adventure, officially kicking off our most recent campaign (after a lengthy summer break). This play report will double both as a story of what’s going on in the adventure as well as my thoughts on the product in play. I’m still trying to drag backstories out of my PCs, so the sections about them may change. So for now, enjoy!
WARNING: This Play Report will contain spoilers to the plot of Hoard of the Dragon Queen. If you wish to play this adventure on your own, you may ruin the plot for yourself. You have been warned.
Kaladin- Human (variant) Monk.
Kaladin is a wandering monk who follows the Way of the Road. Wherever the road takes him, he follows. (More to come, hopefully).
Pip- Lightfoot Halfling Rogue.
Pip is a 19 year old halfling with a rather odd ambition. He wants to be the world’s most infamous thief. After years of burglarizing in the city, he is ready to take his craft to the next level by plundering caves, catacombs, and dungeons. To do that he has banded himself with an eclectic group of adventurers who now seem to have been caught up in a struggle against the evil Cult of the Dragon. Pip may be a burglar but he is not without a conscious and has reluctantly postponed his ambitions of plunder in order to defend the innocent under siege.
Denokk- Half-Ork Paladin of Bahamut.
Denokk wasn’t always good. Upon reaching the age of accountability, he found himself called to the sea and joined a pirate band. During a coastal raid, Denokk’s crew came across a temple to Bahamut. Inside, Dragonborn women and children hid for safety while their men were slaughtered in the streets. Feeling the call from a previous life (and well guarded secret), Denokk turned against his crew and defended the temple. Denokk swore his life to Bahamut’s service and has been wrestling with his new and old lives ever since. To complicate matters worse, Denokk is not what he appears. He hides a draconic secret within him. Maybe his service to Bahamut will repay the sins of his past, and his true form can be restored.
Thokk- Half-Ork War Cleric.
Thokk comes from a troubled background. -More to come-
Finnallen- Wood Elf Druid:
Rachel’s character grew up in the forests surrounding Greenest. From her earliest memories, she was always drawn to the wild and the natural world surrounding her forest home. While out exploring the nearby mountains with her mentor, an avalanche overtook them and separated them. Lost and separated from him, she began wandering aimlessly until she stumbled across our party of heroes and joined them on the road to Greenest.
Chapter One- Greenest in Flames
Dusk is approaching as the party nears the town of Greenest. Having completed a delivery of some lost treasure inland, the group is eager to hit the coast and return out to sea where they belong. But first, they must stop in Greenest for some unfinished business. As they crested the hill overlooking Greenest, the town was obscured by thick smoke, flames, and the form of an adult dragon making attack runs on the city. Thokk looks at the rest of the group and says, “Why don’t we go around?”
–Pre-reading the adventure, I knew this would happen. “You all are level one. Here’s a dragon attacking a city… der der der!”
As Kaladin looked on, he noticed that the dragon wasn’t giving its full effort in the attack. (Yay Perception checks and trying to get the party back onto the railroad) The party decided to sneak their way to the edge of the town to get a closer look at what was going on. Everyone took to the tree-line and moved under the slowly increasing cover of darkness- except for Denokk, who was clanging along in his chainmail like it was nobody’s business- until the events of the city came into view. As they looked on, they could see groups of kobolds and cultists in black and purple robes running back and forth causing general mayhem.
Kaladin and Pip, the two stealthiest of the group, decided to venture forth together for a closer look at what exactly was happening in this town. They kept to the shadows for the first block or two until they spotted a group of kobolds and cultists terrorizing a young human family. The dad and three children ran on as mom stopped, unsheathed a sword, and decided to sacrifice herself and protect her family. Not wanting to watch this happen, Kaladin and Pip jumped forth to protect the woman from her pursuers. The rest of the party noticed their friends joining the melee, and decided that they had to take part two. Denokk and Thokk rushed forward toward the frey while Finnallen fired her longbow from the woods.
Once the heroes had dispatched the attackers, the woman informed the party that they had to make the Keep for safety. As they made their way toward the Keep, they came across another band of Kobolds, this time attempting to drag a large chest down the road to obtain the loot inside. In a foolhardy attempt at bravery, Denokk rushed forward, shield down, and pinned one of the kobolds against the chest. In the process, he left himself open to the other five kobolds in the group to surround him and begin pounding him into dust with their daggers. The mission of the rest of the party quickly turned to that of rescuing their companion rather than saving the town, which they managed to do before he met an early demise. The group decided to spare the life of one of the kobolds for later interrogation, binding him with rope and putting him upon Denokk’s wounded shoulders.
Pip, the ever-curious thief, wanted to claim the contents of the chest for himself. He picked the lock and looked inside to find… a doll and a scroll with the picture of a young human family and the words “Just the three of us, forever” written on the back. Disappointed in the lack of gold, Pip left the chest in the middle of the road. Finnallen picked the scroll out of the box, and joined the rest of the party on their journey toward the Keep.
As they approached the Keep, a voice called out, saying “Hurry! The gates are closing!” The heroes looked behind them in time to see a large hoard of kobolds, mercenaries, and robed cultists rushing toward them. As the last member of the party entered the Keep, the large main gate closed behind them with a crash. Safely inside, they decided to search for the town leader- Governor Nighthill. Nighthill was standing atop the Keep overlooking the burning city with bandages around his arms and head, clearly caring more for his town than his own personal well-being. He excitedly greeted the party, asking for their assistance in defending the town from the onslaught. The first task was to open a long-unused tunnel that lead from the Keep to the town river as a secret entrance and exit from the Keep for the party and any stragglers in need of rescue out in the town.
Once down in the old, abandoned tunnel, the party began losing interest in carrying their prize around and decided that now was the time to ask questions of the poor kobold. They woke him up and asked what was happening.
“The dragon-lady told us to attack the town!”
“Which dragon lady?”
“You know, THE dragon lady!”
“Oh, right, that’s helpful. What do you want?”
“We are here to destroy the town and gather loot!”
“And you think that you’ll be successful?”
“Hey, didn’t you see that giant dragon flying around overhead? With him, how can we lose? He’s going to fly down and burn… wait, he’s blue, they breath ice… FREEZE you all, and we’ll come along and crush you, and then he’ll eat us kobolds, and it will be glorious!”
(One of my players began laughing so hard he couldn’t breath, then said that if he could give the DM inspiration for utilizing kobold lore, he would. Should have taken him up on that…)
None too impressed with the little kobold’s answers, the two orks decided to take matters into their own hands. Denokk looked at Thokk, smiled, and held the poor kobold upside-down by the feet.
“Hey hey hey! What are you doing?!”
Thokk drew his warhammer and began to swing…
“Uh oh… this is going to hurt…”
…and crushed the creature into the wall.
Kaladin, monk of the road, was none-too-happy about the heartless execution he just witnessed, and began ripping into his teammates about the sanctity of life and respect for those who are prisoners. The two orks seemed shaken by the human’s passion, and vowed to never repeat the stunt again.
The tense moment of intra-party conflict was interrupted by two rat swarms who were awakened from the crash of flesh and warhammer against the wall. The party was bitten many more times than they expected and almost fell to the tiny attackers before scaring the survives away.
With all of their distractions taken care of, they arrived at an old, rusty gate at the end of the tunnel, overlooking the riverbank and the night sky beyond. Using an old key provided by Escobert the Red, leader of the Keep, they managed to open the door quietly just as another raiding party approached the gate. The raiders seemed intent on finding stragglers hiding in the reeds, giving the party a few moments to hide and come up with an ambush plan. The raiders approached the tunnel entrance, passing by one-by-one without noticing the tunnel or party, until a tiefling cultist (rolled a crit and) looked straight into Thokk’s face. “There they are!”
The half-orks both rushed forward and met the foes in the reeds, crushing a kobold and wounding several others along the way. Kaladin went tumbling out, kicking and punching at the tiefling until she fell. But this battle was not without bloodshed, as the remaining kobolds managed to take down Thokk. The party finished off the remaining enemy combatants and awoke Thokk with a healing touch from Denokk. They licked their wounds and returned inside the keep for their next mission.
And this is where the first session ends. Session two should be posted in the coming days (hopefully). The first episode has lasted two, almost three sessions so far, making me think that too much information and too many fights were crammed into the episode. I mean, if the point of the book was to be played at gaming stores as part of the D&D Adventure League, then this first episode is WAY too long. Who’s going to sit in a gaming store for 8 hours if they are trying to learn or decide to play a new game? I almost feel like each episode should be about four hours, not the 6 or 7 that we’ve already put into it. Maybe that’s just me. See you next time.
Kyle Blomgren is the founder of Flat Top Gaming. He loves tabletop gaming, watching others play tabletop games, singing, and spending time with his wife and daughter.