In episode 1 the Cult of the Dragon attacked the town of Greenest in search of gold, silver, and other valuables. The Human Cultists were accompanied by Kobolds, Drakes and even a Blue Dragon. Thanks to a daring band of adventurers, the town and many of the locals were saved. The evildoers eventually retreated; carry what loot they could as they fled south. The PCs took a much needed, and well deserved rest before following the cultists to retrieve what possessions they could and discover more about what motivated these attacks.
Note: I’ve decided to adjust the way I denote the title of these posts. Since the adventure is divided into episodes (chapters) I felt it made a lot more sense to indicate what episode my post covered. With different groups completing episodes at different speeds this should make it easier for DMs to find notes on the exact session they want.
As we continue to attract new players at Hairy T North in Toronto we’ve had to open another table – that brings us up to six. The numbers broke down like this: table 1 (DM Craig) six players, table 2 (DM Hillel) had five players, table 3 (DM Tim) had six players, table 4 (DM Derek) has six players, table 5 (DM Chris) has six players, and table 6 (DM Wayne) had four players. That’s six DMs and 33 players. We had to move into the space where folks play Magic and ask the Magic players to cram into the space where we used to run D&D Encounters.
My table had the following PCs, all returning from previous weeks: Tiefling Bard, Drow Sorcerer, Tiefling Warlock (formerly Tiefling Bard), Halfling Rogue, Elf Rogue, Dragonborn Fighter. The Halfling Rogue was still level 1, but the rest of the PCs were all level 2.
Episode 2: Raider’s Camp
Tracking the Raiders
The day after the attack on Greenest, Governor Nighthill walked the streets of his town assessing the damage. In daylight things weren’t as bad as first thought. Many building were damaged and looted, but few were actually destroyed by fire. For the most part it was just scorched walls and roofs. Things were bad but they could have been so much worse had the PCs not been there to intervene.
After the PCs awoke, Governor Nighthill invited them to a town council meeting. With the townsfolk safe for now, the next priority was information gathering and possibly recovering some of the stolen property. The Governor asked the PCs if they would be willing to follow the path of the raiders. It was a potentially dangerous task, so he agreed to pay each of them 250 gp. A tidy sum meant to offset the risks.
The Halfling Rogue made a convincing argument for a heftier payout, but the Governor stood firm. He suggested if the Rogue felt the task too dangerous that he was welcome to help the carpenters rebuild the town while the heroes took on the perilous assignment. This shamed the Rogue into compliance.
The Governor asked the PCs to find out the following details:
- Where the raiders’ camp is located.
- How many raiders are there.
- Who are their leaders.
- What’s motivating these attacks.
- Where do they plan to strike next.
He added afterwards that he’d be grateful if they could recover any valuables that were stolen from the town, but this was secondary to the info gathering. Material possessions can be replaced. The PCs agreed, resupplied as needed, and headed south after the Raiders late in the afternoon.
The people of Greenest estimated that there were close to 200 raiders who participated in the attack. Although some raiders were killed at least 150 of them fled south when the fighting ended. The path they made was not subtle. The PCs had no trouble following it.
After a couple of hours of trekking through the countryside, up and down the rolling hills, and walking through the tall grass (that had been trampled), the PCs spied a thin plume of grey smoke in the distance ahead of them. It was too small to be from a burning structure; more likely it was a cooking fire. The PCs proceeded more cautiously until they found the source of the smoke.
In a small, bowl-shaped valley the PC easily spotted a group of raiders who’d stopped to make dinner. The heroes took precautions to hide in the grass that had not been trampled as they observed. The raiders group was made up of five Humans and 10 Kobolds. No scouts or sentries were posted anywhere that the Rogues could spot. Fifteen opponents were too many for the party to fight easily. They decided to wait for it to get darker and see if anything changed.
After a short while the Bard realized that the Kobolds and Humans didn’t seem to be getting along. The Kobolds kept to themselves and the Humans did likewise. Both sides seemed to throw insults at the other frequently. The party decided to use this animosity to their advantage.
One of the Human Cultists was manning the cook fire and called everyone over to eat. The Humans and Kobolds jostled as they all grabbed a bowl of stew and then separated to either side of the camp to eat.
The Sorcerer decided to use her Message cantrip to send a message to one of the Kobolds who seemed particularly put off by the Humans. Unfortunately the Sorcerer didn’t speak Draconic. So the Dragonborn Fighter helped her translate her message into Draconic. After a few practice attempts at saying the phrase she felt ready to cast the spell.
“The stew has been poisoned,” magically whispered in the ear of a Kobold. That was all it took to set him off. He threw down the stew and repeated what he’d heard not caring where the voice originated. The Kobolds seemed eager to have a reason to fight the Humans so they all dropped their food and drew weapons. One of the Cultists, the leader of this band tried to calm the situation down by speaking soothing words in Draconic to the Kobolds. It did not work.
Two Kobold slingers hit the cook with their bullets knocking the unsuspecting man unconscious. The four remaining Cultists all drew weapons and stepped back cautiously. The Kobolds attacked in pairs, two slinging, while four other pairs engaged the closest cultist.
The Kobolds all scored some quick hits on the Cultists but none fatal. The PCs decided it was time to step in and help the Cultists. If anyone could answer the questions they sought it was more likely to be the Humans than the Kobolds. So the PCs with bows fired at the Kobolds, while the Warlock and Sorcerer attacked with spells. Five of six attacks hit, three being crits (advantage helped a lot).
The Kobolds didn’t give up just because a few of their ranks fell. They regrouped and managed to drop two of the Cultists. The PCs spent another round firing into the melee carefully targeting the Kobolds only. Fewer shots hit, but more Kobolds were killed. The cult leader quickly turned and gave a salute to his unseen allies calling out an audible “Thank you.”
The Cultist killed two more Kobolds and the final two slingers decided to run rather than engage in melee. The PCs shot them too, just for good measure. They didn’t want anyone escaping.
With only two Cultists still conscious the Elf Rogue and Tiefling Bard (both dressed in Cult of the Dragon robes they’d acquired in a previous session) walked down to the camp to speak to them. The leader again thanked them for their help and asked who they were and more importantly why they’d come back for this group of stragglers.
The Rogue said they were sent back to make sure no one was following the main group. The leader took her at her word since the PCs had helped them fight and these two were wearing cultist robes. He then called out for the rest of the party. Although he couldn’t see them he could count and knew that more than two people assisted the fighting. The rest of the party reluctantly came out from hiding and slowly walked down – all except for the Halfling Rogue. He felt his small size would quickly give him away and blow their cover so he remained hidden.
The Elf Rogue realized that once the non-human PCs arrived on the scene the remaining Cultists would realize the PCs were likely lying. So she waited for him to turn his head and then knocked him unconscious with the pommel of her dagger. On cue the Warlock used his spell to drop the other cultist.
With all the monsters and NPCs down, the party cleaned up the scene. The removed all the loot that the Kobolds were carrying and hid it. Then they took all the Kobold bodies and tossed them off the beaten path. They tied up all the cultists, none of whom were actually killed, and blindfolded them all.
During a search of the bodies, the Sorcerer found a Harper pin on the Cultist who was the cook. As a Harper she felt an obligation to do something. She decided to slip a note into his pocket. How he handled this discovery remained to be seen.
With things cleaned up the PCs decided to awaken the leader and interrogate him. They kept the blindfold on so he couldn’t identify them. He remained calm when he awoke and asked the PC who they were and why they’d captured him.
The Warlock said they were a secret sect of the Cult of the Dragon, however, the leader didn’t believe him. The Dragonborn Fighter spoke to the captive in Draconic. The leader answered in Draconic that he was an important member of this sect of the Dragon Cult. He was impressed with the way the PCs acted and saw their value. If they truly wanted to become part of the Cult of the Dragon he said he could arrange it. He offered the Dragonborn a position of authority over the rest of the party if they joined.
The Fighter was unsure how to answer and since none of the other PCs spoke or understood Draconic they couldn’t offer suggestions. He said he needed to discuss it with his comrades. The PCs stepped away to decide how to handle things. Eventually they felt that they should let this cultist bring them back to the camp and allow them to join. The Halfling Rogue felt it best to be unseen and told the party he’d follow them secretly in the shadows, acting as a wild card in case things went bad.
The PCs returned to their prisoner and accepted his offer. When they removed the blindfold he asked where the loot had gone. If they returned to the camp without the Kobolds (no big loss) that was one thing, but without the loot, that would not be acceptable. So the PCs retrieved all the hidden loot. The cult leader asked to have his hands unbound so he could carry as much loot as possible. The party agreed to let him play pack mule.
They decided to leave the other four unconscious cultists where they were. They untied them and removed their blindfolds. Once the PCs infiltrated the cultists camp and learned what they could they’d “remember” that some of the other cultists were still on the road and would offer to lead a group back to retrieve them.
Once they were loaded up with stolen treasure, their new cultist friend led them south towards the Dragon Cult’s campsite. The terrain got rockier and eventually the path led between two rocky outcroppings. The PCs were weary and cautious. They stopped to adjust their heavy packs of loot while they looked for any signs of an ambush. They spotted two guards atop the rocks. We’ll see how the party deals with these guards next week.
After rocketing through episode 1, I decided to try and slow things down a bit for episode 2. I felt that we focused so much on combat in episode 1 that I didn’t really give the players a chance to role-play and develop their characters. Knowing that there is plenty of opportunity for non-combat solutions I deliberately let the players make more of the decisions rather than throwing options at them.
I was very impressed with how the players handled the encounters with the stragglers. It could have played out a few different ways, but given some time to weigh options the players had their characters make really smart choices. After taking some unnecessary beats during episode 1, the players have learned to act with more caution. Although there was only one combat encounter this week the PCs managed to avoid taking any damage at all. This should reduce the likelihood that someone will need to rest before the end of the episode.
We’ve had a lot of questions about how the factions play into D&D Encounters. Regrettably they don’t. I mean, they do since this is public play, but there is nothing explicitly written into the adventure. I felt that I needed to inject some faction action into the story which is why the PCs found the Harper pin on the cook. Unfortunately he was not revived so they still don’t know what his story is.
Throughout episode 1 the PCs fought Cultists, Acolytes, Kobolds, and Drakes. Guess what? They fight more of them in this episode too. I realize it makes sense for the story, but it’s already starting to get boring and I feel the combat encounters are getting repetitive. I may have to tweak things a bit just to add some flavour to the upcoming encounters.
How is your group progressing? Are you into episode 2 yet? Are you getting bored of fighting the same handful of monsters? Have DMs added faction details into their adventure so far? How has that worked?
Download the D&D 5e Basic Rules for free from the Wizards of the Coast website.
Looking for pre-generated characters? You can download five Pre-Generated Characters (5e) that were provided with the D&D Starter Set in one convenient PDF.
Recounting Encounters Podcast
Listen to Derek Myers, Craig Sutherland, and Marc Talbot (from 20ft Radius) recount our weekly experience at D&D Encounters. We share the highlights from our respective tables 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 every Wednesday. Now DMs can listen before they play.
Actual Play Podcasts
Each week we record our D&D Encounters session and make it available to you for download every week. These recordings are made in a loud, crowded game store so at times it may be difficult to hear everyone. Some language may be inappropriate for all ages, although we try to keep it as family-friendly as possible.
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.