HDQ2.02: Traitors and Dragon-breath

The level two heroes for this session

In alphabetic order

Brog Firebeard, Life Cleric of Chauntea;
Kalanar, Great-weapon style Fighter;
Lapis, two-sword Rogue;
Worm, Mobile Monk;
Zebedee, Bladesinger Wizard

and introducing Kael Stormborn, Great-weapon-style Fighter

THE STORY SO FAR

Greenest under attack! The heroes sneak past raiders, who seem to be a mix of kobolds and cultists, to the Temple of Chauntea. From here, they must bring dozens of trapped parishioners back to the keep.

A Relic Lies Below

Lapis dourly lines up a file of his fellow townsfolk and leads the way down to the stream again. He has to lift the weaker among them, not really his forte but he manages just fine. Behind him Zebedee continues to use his performing abilities to jolly more townsfolk along. “Just grab the belt of the next on,” he coaxes. Worm heaves them quickly over the wall, one after the other, and tries to keep them from wandering away to “where there’s a fine gap” somewhere else!

Meanwhile the priestess, Curtier, claps Brog on his shoulder:

“The goddess appeared to me in a dream. She said one bearing her symbol would come, and to him I should reveal the treasure below.”

She has Brog heave on a hidden lever, stiff with age. The entire altar unlocks, and the two push it aside, revealing a crypt. And inside, a heavy stone sarcophagus. Brog clambers down, inspects the lid, and hustles out to get help.

Luckily Kal is still there, fetching his longbow, dropped during the fight. The two have the muscle, added to scimitars Brog picks up as he returns, to lever the lid off.

Loot

Holy symbol of Chauntea, silver and jade, worth 250gp

Mole-whacker: Blessed martial melee weapon, unique, requires attunement, weight 2lb
Versatile bludgeoning d8/d10
Mole-whacker appears to have an ivory haft and platinum head. The symbols of Chauntea (fertility, seasons) are scrimshawed into its haft. The head has hidden dwarven runes of blasting that can be read by those with Eyes of the Runekeeper or similar spells.

To hit/damage bonus: Mole-whacker has a bonus of (Proficiency-1) up to a maximum of +4 for Proficiency 5 (level 13+).

Divine charges: Mole-whacker allows its wielder to Channel Divinity more times than normal. At level 3, 7, and 13, an additional channel above normal is allotted.

While-wielding powers: Grasping in one or two hands the wielder gains:

Tier 1 power: the wielder gains Protection from Evil.

Tier 2 power: the wielder gains Protection from Energy. The wielder’s choice of energy type can be changed during a long rest.

Tier 3 power: the wielder gains Beacon of Hope.

Return of heroes

Despite the time pressure of filing around 40 souls out, over the wall, through the brush, into the stream, and along it to the secret tunnel, the heroes manage it! Of course there are a few scares – like the kobold that hears something but, on going to look, doesn’t notice the escape! Or as they approach the tunnel, hearing a patrol, and having to ask everyone to stay still… and the patrol not managing to hear that!

Lapis gets proactive! He skedaddles away from the conga-line of townsfolk and clashes his shortswords together! As the patrol races that way, he slips away and uses Mask of the Wild (his heritage) to hide in the brush. The tunnel is still a secret!

It is a line of weary and cold townsfolk that clamber out of the keep’s donjon cellar. Last to emerge are Curtier and Brog. And already the congratulations are nearly over…

No rest for the weary part 1 – on defense

Escobert if loud in praises is also fast to direct the heroes to tasks at hand. Worm to report to the Governor, Lapis to Watch Sergeant Markguth, Zebedee up to Bambine, Kalanar to fill a gap on the walls where the other adventurers were (they’ve been sent off on another mission) and Brog, well, other than tending any guards that are still battered, he can begin attuning that hammer.

  • Nighthill seems to trust Worm more, now that he has done a hero’s work. He takes the monk aside out of earshot and explains that Leosin showed up about a month ago, on Harpers business. The dragon cult was plotting something widespread in the Greenfields. He had with him another monk, a youngster… unfortunately Nighthill doesn’t recall much about him, or at least says he doesn’t. Leosin intended to join the cult under an assumed identity and see what was really going on.
  • Markguth has heard a rumor that some of the watch is working with the enemy. That would explain why only half have made it back to the keep. He asks Lapis to speak to each of the men on the walls to discern their loyalty. (Lapis, remember, is the town Investigator.)
  • Bambine is right up in the turret, along with two of the watch. She promises Zeb two more spells, and hands him her spellbook…
  • Kalanar stands at an occupied corner, rather than where he was supposed to, and is pumped for information by Athall, an affable but traitorous watchman. As Kal’s lips flap freely, Lapis interrupts and Athall soon breaks down (he rolls a nat1 on Deception!) Two more of the watch hurry to help bind him…

Dragon attack! Kal dies!

Up in the turret Bambine gasps, as a shape blots stars out, then yells: “Flee!”

The watchmen are too slow, but Zeb gets his Bladesinger skates on and zips down the ladder to safety. He hears, but does not see, Bambine’s voice change, deepening and speaking the same language as the great dragon above. He sends a gout of lightning and the watchmen die. Bambine shouts down:

“Keep my spellbook safe, Zebedee! We shall meet again! Find and save the eggs!”

Then there is a great impact as of something tearing itself up out of the turret and flapping away.

Elsewhere on the wall the knot of men securing Athall only discovers their danger as someone screams “DRAGON!” – a gout of lightning blazes along the parapet! Lapis hurls himself off and down to safety, but all of the others die instantly – including Kal!

The flapping of wings above fades off into the distance… was it just one pair of wings?

Brog hurries up to the scene and finds Worm staring in fascination at the twisted dead bodies. Brog lays hands on Kal but shakes his head: the soul has fled beyond his powers.

No rest for the weary part 2 – mill relief

Zebedee, Lapis, Worm and Brog have little time to mourn. They are to escort three loyal watchmen towards the mill. Their brief is to retrieve the other adventurers and leave the watchmen to guard the place, along with any further loyal men they sweep up while passing through the town.

Words of omen – as they reach the ford they meet two watchmen and a cloaked figure. Lapis’ keen eyes note than as he holds up a hand to welcome the elf back, Roy the watchman has a hand concealed… and has whispered something to the cloaked figure. Zeb is primed and ready too.

As Roy brings up his concealed knife Lapis sways aside and it merely scores his armor! Zeb wastes no time on parlay! He snaps off a Caustic Brew that begins disintegrating both Roy and the cloaked cultist! The other traitor watchman promptly surrenders!

“I’ve never seen someone die from acid before. Curious” – Worm

“You’re a VERY strange fellow, you know that?” – Zeb

“You’re not the first person to say that, gnome” – Worm

Searching the icky remains of the cultist, Zeb fishes out papers detailing plans!

Loot

12 gold coin

Plans for assembling loot taken from across the Greenfields and sending it “to Rezmir the masked, for the great work at hand.” The plan notes the success of decoy attacks around Berdusk and estimates five days leeway before the Hellriders can react fully. It looks as though the note is very recent so most of the five days must still remain.

Kael Stormborn

They reach the mill, finding it safe. The other six adventurers are taking it easy, having had a tough fight against an ambush set-up. When Kael Stormborn, the mob character previously known as Geller, learns that this party has lost its swordsman, he decides to join them. The other five are well provided with martial types, he explains.

They leave the skeleton guard of three watchmen, and all head back, with two prisoners: the mobs captured an acolyte of the cult, who must know more than their previous prisoner, a lowly kobold.

Kal’s player has rolled up a fighter from scratch, and as the mobs had reached level 3 by defending the mill and capturing a ranking prisoner, Kael the new character advances to that. The mobs are there for this very purpose. I discussed the deadliness of HotDQ with players before the campaign and this seemed the best compromise between parachuting in an unknown character, and trying to mind sidekicks. I used solo tools to check mobs progress, such as hiding the wagon, and attaining missions.

DM

No rest for the weary part 3 – sally-port breach

It is the small hours when Zeb, finally reaching the end of scribing two spells from Bambine’s spellbook, hears Escobert’s roar:

“Alarm! They’re inside the walls!”

Zeb alerts Worm who alerts Lapis and so these three are first to run from the barracks to the south-west service building in the keep. Escobert is desperately holding off kobolds and a four-legged draconic looking creature, as large as a big wolf!

The fight is brisk but each character is well able to take the fight to the enemy. Kael and Brog join, the latter sadly dropping his sacred hammer at a Command from an acolyte, but the former avenging Kal by killing the green guard-drake. A horrid gout of acid from Zeb at his enemies the kobolds has the acolytes fleeing, save for one that is burned by acid and whom Brog keeps from dying. Another prisoner! The intruders managed to open the keep’s sally-port from the outside… unless another traitor still lurks within!

All characters advance to level three!

But they have no more than a…

Short Rest

…before dawn begins lightening the smoke-stained skies and the watch sounds alarm: as the session ends, a battered lone figure approaches from the town square!

DM Note

I did not find the place to add Worm’s cross-examination of the kobold in, I hope to round all the questioning up into one place next blog.

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