Last week’s session ended with the PCs defeating the Orc Pale Chief (who was really a Wight). Unfortunately the toll was high as the Pale Chief killed the Halfling Rogue before the fight ended. The PCs took a much needed short rest back in the barracks of Harpshield Castle and that’s where we picked things up this week.
At Hairy T North in Toronto we ran four tables this week. The 4e table was back up to six players, the solo D&D Next table was holding strong with six players and the double cohort Craig and I were running using D&D Next had seven players. Our group consisted of the following PCs: Elf Ranger #1, Elf Ranger #2 (new player), Elf Cleric/Rogue, Human Monk/Barbarian, Drow Paladin, Dwarf Fighter (new character, returning player), and Half-Orc Cleric.
Although the PCs defeated all the monsters last week they didn’t have time to explore the dungeon. After the characters took a short rest they scoured the dungeon for valuables and treasure. They didn’t find much aside from the coins they found on the bodies last week, the Delimbiyr Bloke they took from the Pale Chief and a map the sneaky PCs found before they fought the Gricks.
Knowing that a few Orcs escaped during the fight the PCs felt it best that they leave Harpshield Castle before dark. As they emerged back in the castle’s courtyard one of the Rangers noticed a carrier pigeon. A message was attached to the bird’s leg.
Heroes of Julkoun,
I hope this message finds you well. Things in Daggerford are taking a turn for the worse. Duke Maldwyn Daggerford’s behaviour has become more erratic. His attitude towards the refugees is worsening.
Despite your heroic deeds in Julkoun, your reputation is being sullied by Maldwyn. I will continue trying to sway his opinion of you but suggest you take your time returning.
My friend, Jekk, has not yet returned from Firehammer Hold. Perhaps you could visit Firehammer Hold before returning to Daggerford? I would be grateful.
May Lathander be with you.
The party had two viable options in front of them. 1) Return to Daggerford, return the Bloke to the Duke and try to get back into his good graces, or 2) head to Firehammer Hold in search of Jekk and let Sir Isteval try to smooth things out back in Daggerford.
The party’s newest member, the Dwarven Fighter, knew a little bit about Firehammer Hold from his travels and from Dwarven folklore. It’s a temple-fortress dedicated to Haela Brightaxe, a dwarf hero-goddess who grants luck in battle. Last he heard a few of Haela’s faithful followers are still stationed at the hold.
After a debate among the group they decided to head for Firehammer Hold.
It took the party about two weeks to reach Firehammer Hold. The entrance was near the top of a gravel path that climbs two thousand feet along the wall of a valley overlooking a wooded area. Weary from travel the PCs wasted no time exploring and headed up the path towards the entrance.
They passed a 10-foot-tall Dwarven statue on their way up the path. The Cleric and both Rangers decided to stop and check it out. The statue shows a Dwarf pointing to his right and holding a coin in his left hand, but they didn’t recognize him. A shield was nailed to the statue’s chest. Painted on the shield was a broken red crossbow. The PCs recognized this as the symbol of Laduguer, a Duergar deity. Fearing that Duergar might be inside Firehammer Hold they ran as fast as they could to catch up to the party before they went inside.
Hostel Entrance (#2)
On their way to the main doors they passed by a 7-foot-tall carving of a Dwarven warrior near a set of stone doors. A sign in written in Dwarvish, Elvish and Common next to the door said “Welcome. Rest easy until audience is granted.” The PCs decided not to stop there and continued onward.
Main Entrance (#1)
When they reached the main entrance they faced two huge doors. The doors were 12-feet-tall and 10-feet wide, and made of stone. Numerous Dwarves were carved into the rocks surrounding the entrance. The PCs decided not to use the stone knocker and instead tried to push their way inside unannounced. However, the door was firmly locked so the PCs gave up and returned to the hostel entrance.
Hostel Living Room (#2)
The party cautiously entered the hostel. The door was unlocked and opened easily. Inside the living room was sparsely furnished but quite welcoming.
Southern Bedroom (#3)
The room to the south had four bunk beds and four small chests.
Northern Bedroom (#4)
The room to the north had six bunk beds, six small chests, and a wooden book case on the north wall. None of the rooms in the hostel were occupied.
The PCs decided to rest here for the night. However, the Monk and Ranger #2 wanted to scout the area a bit more first. They returned to the main entrance and tried knocking. When nothing happened they started heading back down the road.
Side Entrance (#13)
The Ranger’s keen senses allowed him to notice a side entrance partly hidden off the main road. When the PCs searched it they found no traps so they opened it and went inside. In the room firewood was stacked neatly along one wall. Movement in the next room quickly got their attention.
Two Duergar guards snap to attention and grabbed weapons as soon as they saw the PCs. The Monk ran in to engage them in melee, killing the first one before he could do anything. The Ranger stayed safely back, fired his bow and scored a hit. The Duergar turned and ran. He called out but these PCs didn’t understand Dwarvish. Before the Duergar cold get very far the Ranger shot another arrow and dropped him.
The passage the Duergar fled down had two portcullis dropped. However, something had easily bypassed the gates by melting away the bars. The two PCs pulled back to the side door and awaited more attackers.
Charcoal Storage (#14)
As no other Duergars emerged right away, the Monk quickly checked the side room. It contained basins full of charcoal.
The PCs waited another minute and no more guards came to investigate. The Monk decided to run back to the hostel and get the party. Ranger #2 positioned himself with his bow at the ready near the doorway where he could clearly see if anyone was approaching from deeper in the dungeon.
Back at the Hostel
I did not DM this group but here’s the short summary I got afterwards. The Paladin and Cleric decided to go back to the main entrance not long after the Monk and Ranger #2 left. They also knocked on the door and also got no response. The Cleric/Rogue, Fighter and Ranger #1 all decided to get some rest. While the PCs slept, Duergars snuck into the hostel and attacked them. Things looked grim, but the Cleric and Paladin retuned to help. The Cleric rushed into the hostel to engage in melee while the Paladin stay outside and shot in with his crossbow.
When the Monk came running back to the hostel looking for reinforcements to join him at the side entrance the Paladin shouted to the others inside that he was leaving and that they should follow as soon as the mopped up the bad guys.
Side Entrance (#13)
Ranger #2 didn’t see or hear anyone while he waited for his allies to return. When the Monk and Paladin arrived the three PCs proceeded deeper into the dungeon, through the Guardroom and past the area guarded by the melted portcullises.
Mine Cart Station (#16)
The next room was the terminus of a mine rail. Rails on the floor led to a passage in the north wall. A mine cart sat on the rails and was connected by a chain to a winch on the far wall. Another passage south led to a door. On the far wall were narrow window slits.
As the Monk stepped into the room two Duergar guards threw spears through the window slits at the party. The Monk fired his crossbow at them but they were hard to hit through the narrow slits. The Ranger also tried to shot through the small opening but failed.
The PCs took cover and tried to return fire but the Duergar were too well protected. Behind the PCs the rest of the party began to filter into the Mine Cart Station. The Duergar threw more spears into the target-rich environment and scored a few hits while taking none.
Finally the Cleric/Rogue managed to get a bull’s-eye despite his disadvantage (he rolled an 18 and 19) killing the first Duergar with one shot. The second Duergar took an arrow from Ranger #1 before he decided to flee. The PCs ran up to the narrow slits but realized they couldn’t get through to follow him.
The PCs quickly searched of the room but all they found were a few crates full of iron ore.
Looking for another way to follow the Duergar, the PCs opened the door to the south. Inside the room was a massive furnace used to smelt the raw ore. This was a dead end as there were no other ways in or out of the room.
The heroes gathered back in the Mine Cart Station and after a brief discussion decided to follow the rails and head down the mineshaft. That’s where we’ll pick things up next time.
This was another great session. Using the dungeon tiles and minis is really helping the players get a better sense of what’s going on as they begin another dungeon crawl.
The party again decided to divide and conquer this week. It made for a really dynamic session as so much was going on at the same time by three different groups of PCs. We got a lot done this week and I think the party will have no trouble finishing their exploration of Firehammer Hold in the next two sessions. That will leave us with one week to wrap up loose ends and set the stage for the next season.
Before the group left Harpshield Castle I gave them every opportunity to search for loot but not one single player said that they wanted to look for secret passages. There were three areas hidden by secret doors that they missed, all of which had magic treasure. I felt bad denying them these rewards that they so clearly earned, but if they PC didn’t find the secret doors, then that’s just too bad.
The addition of the carrier pigeon was something we added. We didn’t want the party to go all the way back to Daggerford and then go all the way back to Firehammer Hold. It seemed silly in-game. We also wanted to give the PCs a chance to hit Firehammer Hold while still in possession of the Bloke. By giving them the message they got new information but couldn’t ask questions. They still had to decide what to do, but now had good reasons to go to either location.
How was your session this week? How many locations outside of Daggerford has your group made it to so far? Has anyone found the Bloke and returned it to Duke Daggerford? How did that go?
- Pre-generated characters: Visit our D&D Next Pre-Generated Character Library where you can download the level 2 pre-gens that came with this season’s adventure.
- Maps: A two-part poster map came with the Launch Weekend kits. If you want your own copy you can now download the poster map. Half is the map of the Sword Coast, half is the detailed map of Daggerford.
Recounting Encounters Podcast
Recounting Encounters is a weekly podcast I record with fellow Toronto DM, Craig Sutherland, and Marc Talbot (Alton) from 20ft Radius in which we recount that week’s experiences with D&D Encounters. We share the highlights from our respective FLGS and we talk about what worked, what didn’t and what we might have done differently. Find all episodes of Recounting Encounters on iTunes.
Note: New episodes of Recounting Encounters will be available in our D&D Encounters Archive and on iTunes on Wednesdays moving forward. Now DMs can listen before they play.
Visit the Dungeon’s Master D&D Encounters Archive for all of our ongoing weekly coverage as well as other great D&D Encounters articles and resources.