Hoard of the Dragon Queen – session 16

This is the third-last session report on Hoard of the Dragon Queen. Yes, my group has actually finished the adventure, but I’m a few weeks behind in writing session reports. I’ll catch up this week, so I’m all ready to report on The Rise of Tiamat when we begin that in the very near future.

The last session had seen the group gain as an ally a renegade cult member, who gave them the information they needed to sneak aboard the flying castle that the Cult of the Dragon were using to transport the treasure. Disguising themselves as cultists, they made their way into the Village of Parnast, near which the castle was currently “parked”.

The group were not interested at all in investigating the village, instead – after getting directions – moving directly to the castle. And what a castle it was! Spires of stone and ice lifted up to the sky, the castle sitting in a broad ravine near the castle. It wasn’t in the best of the repair, and was thousands of years old, but it would serve the cult well. A few last wagons with supplies (and treasure) moved into the castle as the players entered, their disguises working well. Now, at last, they could discover what they were up against!

The players were quite impressive this session as they spent it exploring the castle rather than getting into fights. Having good intelligence is really important in a situation like this, because the party were quite outnumbered. The castle was dominated by two great courtyards, one above the other, with a number of buildings around the outskirts of the courtyards. The buildings on the lower level had been taken over by the cult, and the group discovered the location of the barracks, the stables (with wyverns!), the kitchens (with kobolds!), and the rooms used by the cult leaders. They were unable to pick the lock on Rezmir’s chambers, which is possibly quite as well as she was inside at the time, and they also disturbed two Red Wizards deep in conversation, including their “friend” from the caravan, before excusing themselves and withdrawing. Luckily for them, the group were well disguised enough that he didn’t recognise them!

An open chamber containing a pair of stone giants performing some sort of ritual was avoided by the party. Things were already problematic enough!

The players, having explored the lower level, now made their way to the upper courtyard. There they were confronted by a number of ogre guards who served the cloud giant that ruled the castle, Blagothkus. The group were quick-thinking enough to not mortally offend the ogres, and were escorted to the cloud giant. Blagothkus was not in a good mood, and he was really not happy with the cultists aboard the castle. This was actually not the best situation for the group, who were currently impersonating cultists! They were very restrained and very respectful and somehow managed to get out of the interview without killing anyone or being killed. This was a great triumph.

Except, in the terms of the adventure, it wasn’t. Blagothkus could actually be a pretty good ally for the group, but the group didn’t pick up on his disdain for the cultists and instead just concentrated on not offending him. Without his help, the rest of the adventure would be really, really difficult, but the party was still alive so we’ll take that as a success.

Slipping away from the ogres, the group explored a crumbling tower to discover the lair of a vampire (another of the cultists), who was guarded by two vampire spawn. They quickly retreated, and discovered one more door that was impossible to open. Without the use of a knock spell, they were unable to proceed further.

Their last business of the day was entering the icy tunnels beneath the castle, where the group discovered the hoard that was being transported to the main base of operations of the cult. There was just one problem: a large white dragon was guarding it. Danielle’s rogue (Vanilla) flattered the dragon outrageously, and the group made their way back to the main castle, where they would rest before actually beginning their attempt to take over the castle.

Oh, and at some time during their explorations, the castle had taken off. It was now heading south, towards the heart of the cult’s activity. The stage was set for the final part of Hoard of the Dragon Queen!

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