We had our lowest attendance for D&D Encounters this week – a mere 30 players – although I expect numbers will rebound somewhat next week as several players return from birthday parties and the like. We were also missing two Dungeon Masters – as it happened, from the tables who were missing most of the players – so we merged those two tables and Sam ran them through a D&D Expeditions adventure instead, for which I’ve heard a lot of praise of his DMing.
My own table was down to five players this week; one player has dropped out because they want to do other things during these evenings, another just couldn’t make it but should be back next week. We’d left the adventure about half-way through Episode 3, with the group having just dealt with Cyanwrath. They returned to the ambush drake’s chamber to have a short rest.
At this point, I needed to determine if they’d be disturbed while resting. A large part of that decision came down to the pacing of the adventure. Did they need a rest? Absolutely, they did. It’s not like they were just having one because they felt like it; they were having one because if they continued in their current state, they’d most likely die. I also considered whether Cyanwrath would be disturbed or if anyone else would notice; given the layout of the dungeon, this seemed unlikely. So, the group were able to rest undisturbed.
If, on the other hand, they were doing it merely to “game” the system, I would have disturbed their short rest with a wandering monster. However, I’m very aware of the flow of the adventure; if a group really needs to rest, then I’ll likely allow it.
Continuing on, they discovered the hatchery where the eggs were stored. They also discovered the Roper that guarded the eggs. (Yes, carefully studying the area tends to eliminate those nasty surprises). I’m very glad to report that the group then negotiated with the Roper, offering it fresh meat to let them past. The adventure suggests offering meat from the supplies the cultists have for the drakes, but the group had walked right past that room. Instead, they offered the bodies of the cultists they’d killed. (Waste not, want not?) The roper was somewhat dubious of the plan, but eventually they talked it into it. And named it Steve.
Kobolds attacked the party at the end of the negotiation, but it fared poorly for the kobolds, despite their use of glue and fire pots, by this stage, the group were very familiar with how to fight kobolds. The group debated on what to do with the eggs, but eventually settled on destroying them. Once this was done, they returned to Cyanwrath’s chamber and took the other route, which led to a chimney in the caves, with a rope ladder attached.
This lead to Mondath’s room, one of the Cult leaders. She was not pleased to see them, and – after calling for aid from the guards – attacked. This is one of those encounters I wish I’d run better; although she’s not a particularly important NPC, she deserved better than just being used as another monster. Dialogue with the players would have made her more than just a faceless cultist, but instead I played it merely as a really challenging combat encounter. It was complicated for the players by them not all being there at the beginning of combat; because they had to climb up the ladder, I only allowed one to enter each round. Despite that, they were able to eventually defeat Mondath and her guards.
The group discovered papers detailing the plans of the cult to move their treasure north – towards some person named Naerytar, or at least that’s what they concluded. They then went through the chambers of the caves they hadn’t yet explored, although there was little there for them to find.
With the group now knowing the destination of the treasure, the group were ready to leave Greenest and meet up with Leosin, the monk they’d rescued, in Elturel, where they could decide on their next moves.