DMing Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Episode 3, Session 5: Back into the Dragon Hatchery

At the end of the last session, the party escaped the Dragon Hatcher in Episode 3 after getting into a big fight, pulling some Troglodytes and Guard drakes from other rooms as a Kobold got away to sound the alarm. They camped about a mile out.

Player 9 has entered the game!

Yes, the group now has 9 players. However, 3 weren’t able to make it tonight so we still only had 6. This is pretty typical of how it is with this group and that’s fine. 1 player was busy painting their new house, 1 player had a birthday party for his teenage daughter, and the other player was hosting a guest from South Africa. We’re all busy adults with lives, so we just roll with it. Maybe this will turn into its own blog post: How I run my large group of adults with responsibilities.

Anyways, this player hasn’t played since 1st or 2nd edition, so everything was basically new to her. Since the group was so large, we just let her pick whatever class sounded fun to her as opposed to trying to figure out what the party needs overall.

Seeing as how the party was preparing to go back into the Hatchery, which at this point is being fortified (behind the scenes) and therefore a much tougher challange, I did a quick Kobold ambush at the player’s camp to give the new player a feel for combat before heading into the cave. 4 kobolds and 3 ambush drakes later, the party only took a few HP worth of damage.

Fortified Hatchery

As the party got close to the cave, they found it fortified with a wooden spiked barricade at the entrance.

The barricade was roughly assembled, and was basically a 5 foot tall pile of logs with horizontal beams laying across the floor with spiked logs laying above pointing outwards. Hidden beneath the logs was a DC15 to spot tripwire, which released sacks of flour that swing down from the cieling which the kobolds were planning on shooting with flaming arrows to cause a carbohydrate dust explosion. There were also kobolds hiding on the ledge above the cave entrance that threw jars of oil at the party to shoot flaming arrows at.

It wasn’t very successful as a few jars hit, 1 sack of flour hit, and then the kobolds all missed their arrows and ran away, resulting in some oily and dusty adventurers.

Chasing kobolds

The party chased the kobolds down through the concealed passage in area 2. Areas 12 and 13 were emptied at this point, and 4 kobolds were hiding in the smaller room off of Mondath’s Chamber (area 11). The wizard knocked one of the oil lamps onto the floor using Mage Hand, causing 3 of the kobolds hiding to prematurely fire their readied arrows at it, jumped out to throw a Fire Bolt cantrip at the one with the knocked arrow, and rolled a 1, accidentally setting the table on fire, and therefore the map and papers. 1 round before they were completely burned.

The party rescued the map and letter from the table in the center and killed 3 kobolds, but one got away. I changed Mondath’s Chamber so that the hole beneath the rug was really a stalagmight with a hole in the back of it. The last kobold ran down and into area 9, which was no longer the Dragon Shrine but simply a sort of hallway connecting areas 8,10, and 11.

Dragon Shrine and Egg Hatchery

This is where I modified the map and essentially combined the elements of the Dragon Shrine (area 9) and the Dragon Hatchery (area 10) into one large room.

From the players perspective (at the far side of the map):

“The dirt and stone floor of the cave becomes a polished stone walkway that spans 15 feet across, with a 15 foot drop on both sides. Curved stone steps descend to both sides immediately inside the doorway. Great polished stone pillars reach to the 45 foot naturally arched cieling. Between some of the pillars are hung 15 foot tall, rough leather and hide curtains. The cold air is damp and smells of rot. Several wooden barriers sit on the stone walkway, at the end of which is an elaborately carved wall with an altar. Standing before the altar, Cyanwrath and Mondath watch the doors, ready for battle.”

This was intended to be a deadly difficulty ‘mini-boss’ type encounter. The party would have to be extremely careful in how they went about it.

How half the party died:

There was no surprise as the Ranger (the white miniature in the upper center of the map) immediately shoot an arrow at Cyanwrath. The party ended up breaking the golden rule: they split up. The Ranger and Rogue ran down the stairs towards the left of the map as the Artificer focused on Cyanwrath from the stairs on the right. The wizard threw a fireball into the center area of the kobolds and barricades, causing them to disperse and drop down the 15 foot drop to either side. They were doing fine, but didn’t know there were two guard drakes guarding the egg behind the curtains in the lower left corner of the map, which ended up jumping the Ranger. Since the rest of the party was doing such a good job hiding from them, the guard drakes just continued to bite the ranger, ending his life food good.

Cyanwrath went full on rage mode seeing the Artificer that he already beat once and charged him, hurling his spear and knocking him unconcious. He did not want the Artificer to get back up, so he chopped him repeatedly to permanently end him.

The Wizard ended up rushing toward the shring at the bottom part of the map because he knew there had to be some eggs around, and he started a hostage situation.

“Let us go, or I destroy your precious egg!”

I think this gambit would’ve completely worked, but the party got a little greedy.

The Wizard wanted to take their fallen party members and get out, and wanted to take the egg with them to guarantee their safety. Cyanwrath replied those those who can walk out on their own may leave, and they have his word of honor that he will let them go. Mondath was furious, but Cyanwrath persisted.

The Wizard insisted they carry their fallen friends out. A Persuasion check, and Cyanwrath agreed… “You may carry one of your friends out.”

That was fun.

The party agreed to the terms, and decided to carry the Ranger out. The Cleric requested to say his last rites for the Artificer, but instead used his scroll of Revivify to bring the Artificer back to life. This enraged Cyanwrath, who immediately used his Lightning Breath, downing the Cleric. The Artificer, however, with his 1 HP and his armor of Lightning Resistence, took no damage and had a pretty epic last stand. Despite being shot in the back by the Rogues, Cyanwrath focused his fury on the Artificer until he was dead once and for all.

The Wizard destroyed the egg, and used scroll of Darkness to escape. Although Cyanwrath has Blindsight, he was so enraged he did not see the Wizard escaping.

In the end, the Wizard and 2 Rogues got away with the roars of Cyanwrath and shouts of anger from Mondath echoing behind them,

What’s left

Cyanwrath and Mondath are still alive, and 4 out of 5 of the black dragon wyrmlings have hatched from their eggs and are now hunting in the Greenfields. The party got the map and letter from Mondath’s Chamber, and are on their way back to Greenest to speak with Nighthill and Leoesin, and meet their new party members.