This is Part 2 of my homegroup’s play through of D&D 5th Edition, Hoard of the Dragon Queen by Wizards of the Coast. If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, please do so.
***Warning, this play report may reveal spoilers for the Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat storylines. You have been warned.***
With the Old Tunnel secure, the party returns to the Keep in search of Governor Nighthill and their next quest. When they find him, he’s standing atop the Keep looking over the burning town of Greenest. His eyes are fixed upon a the town mill in the southwest. “The guards have spotted a new threat. Raiders are trying to set fire to the town’s mill. If it burns, we’ll lose our stockpile of flour and we won’t be able to grind more for months.” He goes on to tell the party that they need to head out now and save the mill, and that a group of town guardsmen will follow about fifteen minutes behind them.
Since the party had just cleared the Old Tunnel, they decide to use that to make the stream through town unnoticed and sneak up to the mill. When they are just outside of visual range, Kaladin and Pip decide to sneak up for a closer look. They are able to see four Cultists (one in purple robes) and a guard trying to set the fires. Suspicious of their activity, Kaladin observes them for a minute and realizes that their attempts to light the mill on fire are more for show and a ruse than a legitimate attempt at destruction. Pip relays this information to the other three adventurers behind them and rejoins Kaladin at the front. Meriele, counting on the element of surprise, readies her longbow and aims at the purple robed cultist.
“I’ll shoot him, but only to wound him so we can interrogate him and find out what’s going on.”
-Roll: Natural 20-
Her arrow flies true, striking the cultist in the back of the head, killing him instantly.
“Sorry! I didn’t think I’d actually kill him!”
The blow is enough for other cultists to catch sight of the adventurers and begin to charge. As they approach the monk, Kaladin sticks out his staff and trips up one cultist. He spins in the air with a Flurry of Blows and strikes another, who tumbles over his buddy in the chaos. Pip finishes them off with a quick Sneak Attack to the back. The guard and final cultist also rush forward in time to meet the two half-orks face to face. The battle is quick and ruthless.
With the exterior guard eliminated, the party takes stock of the mill and surrounding property. They see the front door open and a lift on the back side of the mill leading to a second floor storage level. They decide that the best course of action is for both half-orks to throw Pip, their halfling rogue, up onto the waterwheel so he can sneak inside and see if there is anyone within the mill. They throw Pip into the air… -Roll: Natural 1- and he flies far over the top of the wheel. At risk of falling almost 20 feet into the stream below (2d6 fall damage, which could kill a level 1 character), Pip reaches out and makes an athletic attempt at the wheel, hoping to grab on and save his life. He twists his whole body like a young contortionist, and successfully grabs the wheel and pulls himself up.
Once inside, he sees an ambush waiting within the mill. Five cultists and five guards line the edge of the upper floor, waiting for an unsuspecting adventuring party to walk in the front door. Each guard has a spear drawn and is holding it up in anticipation of their surprise attack. Pip sneaks his way back outside and tries to tell his friends about the threat. With his best miming and mouthing, he tells them everything he knows. Too bad no one in the party can understand him. They recognize that things are bad, but not exact details on the awaiting strike team. The other four devise a plan to breach the top floor and strike whoever is waiting up there for them. Thokk the Cleric will create the deafening roar of an earthquake and shake the doors while the other three ride up the grain elevator and rush in to take advantage of the ruse. Poor Pip has no idea what’s coming, and simply sits in the rafters watching for the first few seconds of the engagement.
When everyone was set, they struck. The doors shook and the roar of an earthquake filled the mill. The ambushers were taken off guard as Denokk bull-rushed them with his shield, pushing two off of the ledge, killing one of them. The others struck forth, slaughtering the cultists and guards in a matter of 18 seconds. The guard who survived the fall was the only one left alive. When he saw his cohorts lying dead, he surrendered to the party, claiming no allegiance to the Cult, and that his relationship to them was a monetary one. He told the party that they were raiding surrounding communities for loot and that Greenest was simply the next target on the list. He had heard something about dragon’s eggs at the camp, however.
Satisfied in their answer, they tied him up and left him to the town guard who had just arrived. The party returned to the Keep. By this point, it was already midnight and the party was tired, ready to rest. Knowing a full night’s rest was out of the question, they began looking for a place to lie down for an hour or two. But just as they did, they noticed a harrowing sight: the town sanctuary was surrounded, on fire, and full of innocent civilians. Lead by his oath and former life, Denokk urged the party into one last battle before bed. Seeing that there was no time to spare, the rest agreed and rushed forth through the Old Tunnel once again.
The sight they witnessed was a grisly one. At the front of the sanctuary, one group was beating at the door with a battering ram. The rear, cultists and kobolds trying to smoke out the citizens with fire. A third group of raiders circled the sanctuary screaming and yelling, instilling fear on those inside. As the rounding party made their way away from the back of the sanctuary, the party struck, easily killing the cultists and kobolds playing with fire. They broke through the back door to find almost one hundred men, women, and children in a frenzied panic. Kaladin steps forth and says “Hey, everybody! The path is open! Come with us!” Of course, nobody listens. He looks around and spots a half-elf priest who appears calm and collected. Kaladin approaches the priest and begs for the man to help gain control of the crowd, which he easily does. The whole time, the battering ram crashes against the front doors, splintering them and allowing a small sliver of light from the fires to peak through. While the rest of the party encourages the crowd out the rear, Denokk rushes to the front door and sets up guard.
“Denokk, now is not the time! We must run!” Thokk says.
“The door will not hold. We must defend them!” he replies.
Aware that they will not change the half-ork’s mind, Thokk, Kaladin, and Meriele join Denokk’s side and prepare to make a stand against the coming foes. Pip, on the other hand, has no desire to stay in the slaughter house, and sneaks outside to get a better view of what’s going on. At this point, the circling group is almost back to the rear of the sanctuary on the opposite side of the building from him. He could also clearly see the rammers taking swing after swing against the door. He draws his bow and tries taking them out one-by-one.
As the door splinters more, the party inside can also see their attackers and begin firing through the holes in the door at their foes. They manage to kill a few kobolds, but not before the door gives way and the attackers rush inside. Their dragonclaw falls quickly to Denokk’s blade, while a cultist and kobold are pummeled by the monk. Sadly, as the attack continues, one cultist bypasses the party and begins kills a young woman fleeing for her life.
Outside, Pip hears one of the cultists yell, “they are escaping! Get them!”
And that is where this session ends. Session 3 will be played this upcoming Saturday, so expect a play report in the days to follow.