On Hoard of the Dragon Queen: Episode 8

Guido Kuip
More of Guido's Evocative Artwork!
This (final) section is made up of two distinct parts, with a bit of a rough transition between them. First, there's the village of Parnast and then the final confrontation in the cloud castle.

Episode 8 is the big, cinematic finish. We couldn’t close the adventure without high drama and life-or-death combat against major foes in a setting that players will remember for years. Some people will be surprised to hear that it isn’t a foray into a dragon’s lair. In fact, it’s about as far from that setting as it’s possible to be. -Steve Winter, Tiamat Tuesday


Another victim of page count and pacing, the idea of Parnast is evocative. It's a cultist controlled and influenced town that the characters must infiltrate to find access to the castle. 

Of course you can see the docked castle as soon as you enter town, and can access it by walking right up to it. 

In about 5 half-page columns, the text attempts to account for any one of a half-dozen situations at this point. The way that this situation is handled depends heavily on the outcome of the previous chapter, which is, as I think it should be. 

Here's an overview of the options:
  • Character avoid the lodge and enter town OR enter the lodge and fight Talis.
    • Characters enter town, see the castle, and try to track down Rezmir.
      • Character's take too long and the castle leaves
        • They use wyvern's to catch the castle
        • OR they fail to use the wyverns (or the wyvern's can't carry the whole party)
    • Characters enter the town, see the castle and storm it.
  • Characters enter the lodge and ally with Talis
    • Character's avoid the town and approach the castle to gain entry.
Initially, I found the single failure point of "Make a skill check to ride the wyverns" really bothered me. It turns out this isn't quite as big a deal as it seems. First, almost all of the options the character's have allow them to access the castle without needing the wyverns. Its on the ground when they walk in the town. They have to choose not to walk right up to it for a period of at least an hour, since that's how long it takes. Secondly, even if the castle leaves, it's likely the highest wisdom in the group is at least +3, and a check made with advantage (from aid another) versus a DC of 15 is certainly possible, although you can fail. And if you do fail, then you fail.

I had no idea when I read it what Rise of Tiamat would say. And it is a perfectly acceptable outcome for the players to just lose the castle if they let it take off and can't ride the wyverns. And complains of "I paid for the module, so the characters should get to play it" do not override how many points of failure the characters must hit to fail to get aboard the castle.

Note that there are other, non-explicit options for players to get aboard the castle. Rezmir doesn't know that he's been followed, and the castle is docked to allow treasure to be placed aboard. The characters can disguise themselves as cultists and attempt to get aboard the castle with the treasure. The adventure notes both these things, including that the castle is shrouded in mist, allowing the characters to approach without being seen. There is also the chance that a number of powerful people (Rezmir, et. al.) die early if the characters assault the front gate of the castle and win.

Skyreach Castle

I don't have a great deal to say about the interior of the castle, for the same reason most people don't. It's good.

Some notes are given about the importance of the crashed castle (if it crashes) and how it is dealt with in Rise of Tiamat, but that part was cut from the book. I'm tracking down information about it and will post it here. 

Both the cloud giants may have their spirits be in control of the castle. I believe it is much more entertaining to have a giant translucent face manifest representing their spirit and taunt the characters as it slams the castle into the ground, if indeed that is what happens. 

A dumb white dragon is indeed entertaining, best if he mis-uses words. 
  • I'm going to bisect you into a million pieces!
  • I'm going to decimate you all! (decimate means to destroy or remove one-tenth of something).
  • I am disinterested in anything you have to say (means "not biased").
  • You are exacerbating my patience (in lieu of exasperate).
  • I could create a nice derangement of your corpses! (arrangement).
  • Or I could comprehend you as prisoners. (apprehend).
  • Irregardless, (which is at best, means "in regard to" and at worst isn't a word).
  • That is a mute point. (moot is often frequently incorrectly used. It's a word meaning "something that requires further discussion" either due to complexity and time, or the need for more people to discuss it, which is something that happens at a moot).
  • For all intensive purposes (intents and purposes).
Watch as your players consider whether or not they should correct the dragon!

The hoard is very lackluster. Thousands of coins and a handful of magic items. Only one gem type. How have they been collecting treasure from all over the sword coast (or world even) and only come up with one type of gemstone in this haul?

If you don't have a favorite generator of your own, This one over at the donjon can generate a very random, interesting hoard that is likely filled up with loot that seems reasonable. I've found that these settings generate a very "realistic" hoard, or at least one more interesting than coins and a few gems and magic items.
  • 4 hoards
    • 4 x level 6, triple coins & valuables, standard items
    • 2 x level 9, triple coins & valuables, standard items
    • 1 x level 13, double coins & valuables, 50% items
    • 1 x level 18, standard coins & valuables, no items
      • This is more than the amount of treasure listed in the book (4-8x more) to more closely get a gold piece value equal to what's in the book, have only 2x level 6 and 1x level nine.
  • Check Generate more random numbers of coins
  • Trade 70% of coins for miscellaneous salvage
  • Check both gems and art objects
  • Check magic items
  • Check combine individual hoards into one hoard. 
The outcome of what happens with the giants and the castle is important in Rise of Tiamat. And losing or missing the castle is a perfectly acceptable way to have this adventure end. It only gets more difficult as Rise of Tiamat begins, and having this book with the possibility of failure, without it preventing the start of Rise of Tiamat good design. 

This concludes the first draft of Hoard of the Dragon Queen Remix by Hack & Slash. I'll be updating these original articles as I play through the adventure myself, and will be posting a central update/index/errata page after the start of the new year.

2014 is finished. 2015 begins. We are in the rise of a new golden age of gaming! I look forward to sharing it with you in the coming year.

Hack & Slash 
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On the Hoard of the Dragon Queen: Episode 7

Artist: Guido Kuip

The Hunting Lodge

This is the destination of the teleportation circle at the bottom of Castle Naerytar. The characters will not know where in The Realms (or even if they are in the realms) when they exit. They will however notice the much colder clime and the architectural features of the lodge.

There's also a big tonal shift here. The characters just finished with a huge running battle and chaos as they are trying to corner Rezmir, only to follow him through a portal to find a strange lodge in the center of a quiet wood.

Outside the Lodge

The players are going to encounter Trepsin the Troll, a four armed Baphomet worshiper. They have him caring about combat and mayhem, and have him as a throwaway villain outside the keep. It's more entertaining based on his description, if he's intelligent, and threatening. They have dialog for him as "What you want?" I think having him say things like, "I know you probably don't like fighting, but I do. Theres a sound that pulling an arm off a body makes that's nice. I like that sound more than I like you." "I'm sure if we met under different circumstances, we might be friends. But I think I'm going to have to eat parts of you while you and your friends watch. You'd be surprised how much of someone you can eat before they die. I'm going to try to set a new record."

It's also important to note the way this encounter is set up. If they do nothing, they are attacked by trolls and drakes, and then pursued by Trepsin and drakes. If they investigate the kennel, he asks them for the sign, which the players are almost certainly going to know. So it's possible all the encounters with Trepsin could be non-violent. In that case, his ruminations on torture, demonology, and suffering could be the stuff of legend in your campaign.

Note that there are several ways to enter the lodge, including going through the roof, which is the lair of some Preytons. It's not marked on a map, but is in fact, entry 22 of the upper floor of the lodge.

Lodge Interior

Area 12 isn't marked on the map. I assume it's in the upper northeast corner.

Other than that, the bottom floor of the lodge is an excellently designed encounter. There's hidden treasure, an eclectic collection of prisoners, servants who will leave the party alone or can be talked to, empty rooms, and some entertaining trick rooms. I'm likely going to run the lower lodge interior as written.

Lodge Upper Floor

There are a variety of rooms on the upper floor, but the main focus is on the encounter with Talis the White. She gets perhaps more characterization than any other non-player character in the adventure She even has an entry on the villians page on the Wizards of the Coast website.

Even so, her traits of, "knows a lot about white dragons" and "speaks reverently about dragons" are both obvious and dull. 

So, I'm going to make her (. . . randomly determines some personality traits from On the Non-Player Character. . .) groveling and stern. I think that this is a super interesting combination. Her sternness comes off as confidence, and the fact that she grovels when she speaks can come off as either sarcastic or sincere, leading to some confusion and interest on the parts of the players. It can not only be the way she talks to everyone, but makes it very clear why she didn't get the mask, and instead why it was given to the dwarf.

Note that this fight starts with the characters all taking 4d6+2d8 hit points of ice and bludging damage (save for half) along with making all the terrain difficult, and immediately draws every fighting person into the room. Also the two 60 hit point Veterans will cause problems if your casters can't disable them, because Talis, being a cleric, can heal them. I'm also pretty sure Kusphia is supposed to be a dragonwing not a dragonclaw

Also, a sincere nod to the quality of the treasure on the upper floor. Everything from the wand to the tapestries is well designed. 

Skipping the Lodge

Finally, we need to talk about skipping the lodge. Your players are going to skip the lodge. Or good players will want to. This is the most interesting part of this chapter! It's a test, right? 

What will happen, is that they will chase Rezmir through the portal. And then they will look for tracks. This is a DC 23 Wisdom (Survival) check. As an aside, where did they get the number 23? I think it's a general guideline that all difficulties are multiples of five. Whether it's 20, 23, or 25, someone is likely to be proficient in it. At worst, you are looking at a +5 bonus to the check with advantage. It's at advantage because the whole party will be looking for tracks, so they aid another, granting advantage to the high roller. Or, conversely, you can let everyone roll increasing the chances even further. 

It's super likely when they discover the tracks, that they just follow the tracks. This is known as staying on task and staying focused. This leads them straight to the next chapter and is accounted for in the module itself. That is the smart thing to do.

Except in this case, it's not. The party loses out on a possible ally, experience, treasure, and information about the cult that could make chapter 8 much more easy. But in order to do so, they have to say "We're going to let Rezmir wait, we'll explore this random building first." Conversely, it could be looked at as a reward for failing the search check, or perhaps to those players who are just at the table to explore whatever is in front of them, instead of actually trying to succeed at the mission. It rewards unfocused play. 

Now of course, you could clue them in that the Hunting Lodge is Chapter 7 and that they should explore it. Or, you could as a genuine choice, which is much more interesting. 

Wrapping up

It's explicit in the text to create some way for the characters to know to travel to Parnast if they enter the lodge in scorched earth mode. 

And it's important that they don't dawdle, or they can straight up miss the castle. We'll be looking at that next time, when we finish off Remixing Hoard of the Dragon Queen by taking a look at Chapter 8.

Hack & Slash 
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On the Hoard of the Dragon Queen: Episode 6, Part II

Castle Naerytar

Why do the cultists drag the treasure thousands of miles north, only to fly it back south only a hop, skip, and a jump from Greenrest?

A logical question, and the answer is pretty clear. The cult is collecting lots of treasure from lots of places, and don't want their plan to be discovered. Better to send the treasure far away from where Tiamat is being summoned and transport it, rather than risk everyone tracking down the central populated area everyone is sending the treasure. 

A castle, even one 15 miles into a swamp, that cuts off 700 miles from the trip is too good to pass up. 

Another feature of the castle noted in the adventure is that the location of several non-player characters isn't noted. This isn't an oversight, but rather a concession to the fact that the interior of the castle is a dynamic place, and people should be moving around through the castle in response to player actions. 


Elf Nazi is a great idea. I mean, Dralmorrer Borngray, member of Eldreth Valuuthra. (Which are elven nazi's). I imagine the best way of handling him, would for him to be just the nicest guy, who really doesn't mind the lesser races, and treats them favorably as cute pets, who all, eventually, must be put down. The encounter with the most henious and repulsive member of the cult should be the one that's the most friendly and nauseating. 

Pharblex Spattergoo is a great name! I've always run bullywugs as the most chaotic, repulsive, evil creatures in the world. Everything that isn't a bullywug is to be appeased if more powerful, otherwise tortured, raped, and eaten, not always in that order. Having the cultists share some of Dralmorrer's disgust, makes for an even more interesting dynamic, perhaps having some of the players fighting with the cultists somewhere in the castle. 

This also sets up the interesting dynamic where the players have to perhaps tolerate enormity because of the superior numbers of the bullywugs. If they are casually committing some great evil, and there's fifty of them, what will the heroes do? 

Finally, there's the lizard folk that have been enslaved by the bullywugs, after Pharblex killed Suncaller, their leader. They also are conflicted, in that they worship the dragon (though not the cult) and are clearly not human. Although easily (relatively) made allies, the alien primitiveness of the lizard folk should be played up. Sometimes they will attack each other for status, or perhaps meet some need instead of engaging in the current task. They might react aggressively or unpredictably to benign actions, and even if allied, might not care if another lizard-man gets himself killed. They also might be hyper-religious and mildly schizophrenic, hearing voices of their god, in the absence of Voaraghamanthar telling them what to do. Snapjaw as their representative should be more human.

Azbara Jos is an interesting encounter before open warfare starts. His intense interest and the unlikeliness of players to actually answer his questions make for a tense encounter. This is really a great opportunity to play up the stereotype of renegade Red Wizards and drop some background lore on the players during conversation.

As far as the dragon(s) Voaraghamanthar and Waervaerendor go, they've lived through the last four editions of Dungeons & Dragons. There's no reason these twins should be killed now. They are capital-P Powerful. Even well-equipped high level parties in Rise of Tiamat, should find two ancient, spellcasting, psionic, twin dragons decked out in powerful magic items and with an army of lizard-folk and dragon-dogs a titanic struggle. 

Squaring off against the Cult

This section describes the behavior and actions of the principals involved. I only note this to say it's good. It places the power in the hands of the DM. It explains what people do and why. It describes a variety of things that happen that don't dissolve into combat. If you've read many adventures in Dungeon Magazine, this is a good example of better. 

Outside the Castle

There is little of interest here in the actual description. I think the key thing I would do, is have some outside interactions among the bullywugs and lizard folk outside the castle. A sample of ideas is below. There's always the classic trope of portraying the local relationships as the characters enter the castle, but some more interesting options are below.
  1. Bullywugs are dragging of someone in cultist robes who is screaming "I'm a cultist! Let me go you stupid beasts!" in terrified fear.
  2. A lizard-man and a bullywug are about to fight!
  3. A strangely dressed merchant with a small cart sits at the north of the Bullywug camp, and has some strange magical items for sale
  4. A portal hangs open in the air, and a giant finger reaches through into the bullywug camp, where they are falling all over themselves to worship the intrusion. 
  5. The camp is under assault from some of the dead that inhabit the mere of dead men. Bullywugs, cultists and lizard men are allied in driving them off. 
  6. The lizard men are performing a ceremony to appease Voaraghamanthar in the open.

Inside Castle Naerytar

So, first the bad. The interior maps are muddy, are labeled with alphabetical numbers, with the floor number in front, and the maps aren't aligned the same way (North on the level 2 map is towards the top, whereas on the level 1 map it's right.) This is intended to be mitigated by the letters matching up, but they don't, sadly. 

Secondly, the method used to describe the castle is poor. It's described as a site based adventure, but what it really is, is a background for the players to enact a plan against. The excessive verbiage isn't the worst it's ever been in a module, but it is very unlikely the players will be exploring it room by room (although that's a possibility). The map is ok. It makes sense. But it's not clear at a glance for a DM running it, what types of hazards are nearby for players moving quickly through the complex during a running battle. 
Drawing on the Tact-tiles like this
My plan, is that I am going to print out digital copies of the maps, Then I'm gong to mark the relevant areas for me. I'm going to take the Tact-tiles I own, and draw out the interior spaces in the castle ahead of time, and use shorthand on my physical map to note the hazards and occupants. I'll also likely design a single sheet, listing all the inhabitants of the castle, so I can track the delicious murder as it occurs. 

Then, I'll verbally describe the castle and their movements through it, till open conflict breaks out, and then run the rest as a mobile running battle throughout the castle. 

Various notes and observations about the interior:
  • Most of the treasure is kind of uninteresting and seems to be presented in a 'work for work's sake' manner—why give different value for all the gems, if the gems are all just generic gems? But the fact that Pharblex has the latest in womens fashions in his inner chamber sets up a pretty entertaining encounter.
  • What are the characters doing here? There isn't a quest at this point, so it's interesting from their perspective. Certainly locating where the treasure is going is probably the main possibility, but thats going to be accomplished by default if they survive. So they have a lot of options. Free as many Tiamat/dragon worshiping lizard men as possible? Try to chase down Rezmir or Azbar to keep them from escaping? Loot the place?
  • It's likely they won't get much treasure, since the sooner they follow through the gate the better. 
  • I'm happy to see that the farseer of Illusk is still here and works in the same manner as it does in the earlier material. 
  • I'm fairly ok with the utilitarian nature of the castle. After all, it's simply the site that the characters will have a conflict in, but the underneath of the castle is a little plain. I'm going to play up the weirdness of the statues and such.
I'm going to have the cultists be White Dragon Cultists (The Pale Eye of Tiamat)
  • Use the Cultist Generator
  • Bullywugs are just the cessation of the universe manifest
  • The lizard folk are empty shells, who seek a core to wrap themselves around. 
  • Nothing in the universe cares for any other thing.
  • We shall bring Tiamat rest so she may dream the world to come!
  • Dralmorrer seeks to kill all things but himself, when his own destruction is the purest kind.
  • We believe in nothing!
  • This isn't fair! Why are you doing this?
The White Dragon cultists have several specialized troops inside the castle. First are the white women, who have their skin stretched down to cover everything but their mouths, and they have no hair. Their bite is powerful and drains levels.

They have several albino lizard-men they have converted. These lizard men have had their insides shelled out and are filled with a white paste. When they take melee damage, the person gets splattered with this paste, doing 1 point of damage a round. It can be scraped off by using your action. The damage is cumulative. By taking 1d6 points of damage, they can voluntarily vomit this material out onto a target, doing a continuous 1d8 points of damage every round on the albinos turn. They are mindless. Nothing living remains. 

They carry bags of white serpents. Treat these each as a single swarm of poisonous snakes that the cultists throw as a ranged weapon. They have a ridiculous number of these bags. 

Hack & Slash 
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On the Hoard of the Dragon Queen: Episode 6, Part I

Let's get this series finished before the end of the year when it's time for me to run it.

Before going any further, I'd like to take a minute to say Hoard of the Dragon Queen and Rise of Tiamat together is worthy of being a classic. Here's why:
"Tyranny of Dragons is a big, sprawling adventure that covers many levels of play and a huge swath of the Forgotten Realms. This book outlines the overall structure of the adventure and presents many episodes and events with which to challenge the characters as they investigate the nefarious plots of the Cult of the Dragon. This is not, however, a script to be read allowed with stage directions that must be followed. Tyranny of Dragons does not hold your hand and guide you step-by-step from the story's beginning to its inevitable conclusion. Instead, it presents people, creatures, locations, and situations for the adventurers to explore and interact with in a constantly changing, lively way.
You, the Dungeon Master, play a vital role. The creators of Tyranny of Dragons have tried to foresee the most likely courses of action that the characters might take in the adventure. However, D&D players are curious and unpredictable, and Faerun is immense and filled with possibility. In a scenario as open-ended as this one, it is all but guaranteed that at some point during the adventure—and possibly at many points—the players will develop their own ideas about how to handle a situation or how to deal with the cult. And just like that, they'll be off and running in directions that aren't covered by this book. These kinds of situations put a DM's skill to the test—but they also produce some of the greatest gaming moments and memories".—Rise of Tiamat, Steve Winter 
It doesn't say Hoard of the Dragon Queen.

It doesn't say the Rise of Tiamat.

It says "Tyranny of Dragons".

This is not an introductory module. This is not an intermediate adventure path. This is a two book supplement for skilled Dungeon Masters that describes the most important events taking place in the Forgotten Realms. It's supplemented by events in Adventurer's League that take place around the Moonsea. And it leaves a ton of space open for your own adventures.

It's not perfect, but it is under the dual constraint of needing to be palatable for public play, as well as hitting what I assume is a tight page count. A company like WotC doesn't have the freedom to double (triple, quadruple) page count just because more stuff was turned in, like an OSR publisher like +James Raggi.

So this series is my answer to how I'd solve the issues in the adventure. +Daniel Davis has another. You will have your own. And the adventure is one of the best that's ever been published by the brand holder of Dungeons & Dragons. It contains surprises and creative things I'd never thought I'd see in an official product.

Someone out there might say "Why am I paying for the adventure if I have to do extra work?" That person obviously isn't playing Dungeons & Dragons 20 hours a week, if ever. I've never run an adventure that didn't require a lot of extra "work", or as I like to call it, "fun". Even one-shots that I've run include pre-generated characters, pictures, props, etc. You're paying for not having to come up with structure, ideas, names, history, calendars, and plots—you're paying for a framework to put your own creativity over, which is exactly what a module series about an evil cult trying to destroy the world does!

Episode 6

This is one of the best sections in the book. (Crazy spoilers abound ahead!!)

Link to another chnitzy map
You travel through the Mere of Dead Men to reach Castle Naerytar, where various factions of the cult vie for power! There are a bunch of different ways to approach what happens in the castle, but first you have to reach it. 

I started this section by looking into the Mere of Dead Men and the Dragon(s) that inhabit it. There's an extensive article on the dragons from Dragon Magazine #257 that provides a lot of insight into the area and the dragons. In addition, there is a series of adventures into the Mere from Dungeon Magazine 69-73. Here is the map from that series of adventures, with each of the sites listed detailed in the series.

This series of adventures also revolves around the black dragons and their quest for powerful magic items and it provides a lot of history. A whole miniature campaign can be played in this section of the adventure.  I almost certainly will run it as a miniature hexcrawl, allowing them to investigate and explore any of the sites in the swamp that seem interesting. A short summary of the relevant parts of each adventure from the magazine are listed below.

Slave Vats of the Yuan-Ti, Dungeon 69: Iniarv's Tower was the tower of a Demi-lich. Wolfhill's house was a front for human cloning experiments of the Yuan-ti. The hill has an aura of causing spells to misfire and creatures to grow to gigantic size.
Ssscaly Things, Dungeon #70: There is a tribe of lizard men called the Three Towers Tribe. There is an abandoned fort near the Mornhaven towers. Spells within 1 mile of the towers have a 1 in 4 chance of becoming permanent. The towers were built by elven sisters, who tried to sink them to contain a demon.
Dreadful Vestiges, Dungeon #71: Holk House was a sanctuary for priests of Eldath, goddess of peace, pools, and springs, now haunted by spirits of Myrkul worshipers. Holk House is now partially submerged, and protected by powerful wards that nullify transmutation and conjuration spells. The last known resident was a cursed blackguard.
Mistress on the Mere, Dungeon #72: A half-elven wizard built Castle Naerytar (maybe). It was inhabited by Adele Astrolara for a while, a member of the Academy of Stargazers, a female only guild of mages. She was secretly a penanggalan. There is a ruined road of logs and mud heading northeast from the castle to the high road. 
Eye of Myrkul, Dungeon #73: Chardansearavitriol (Ebondeath) a great dragon built his lair in 631 DR, and vanished in 922 DR, secretly becoming a dracolich, and eventually a demi-dracolich. The Ulhtower exudes a radiance that prevents the turning of undead and grants all devout followers of Myrkul and undead a protection from good effect. 

The Mere itself is difficult to traverse. Here is some text from the Eye of Myrkul. 
Travelers in the Mere of Dead Men find the saltwater swamp to be a slow and treacherous passage. In many places the dark waters are deep enough to permit a flat-bottomed skiff to pass, but in other locations small islands rise from brackish pools and are overrun with riotous twisted vegetation. The ancient remains of long-fallen humans, demi-humans, and orcs are scattered everywhere as are the bones of many less identifiable creatures. . . Beings with movement rates of 12 [Ed. 30 feet] can cover approximately two miles a day in the swamp. . . given the thick vegitation, skiff-borne travelers through the Mere are reduced to a base movement rate of 4 [Ed. 10 feet] and can cover approximately eight miles per day, assuming ten hours of travel. 
And it is filled with many deadly creatures
Encounters within the Mere are frequent and often deadly. The DM should check for a random encounter six times per day, with a 4-in-10 chance of an encounter. . .The DM should feel free to add any additional random encounters appropriate for a relatively cold, salt-water swamp set in the northern Realms. In particular, many monsters unique to the marshes and swamps of the Realms make their homes in the Mere, including aballins, alguduirs (swamp dragons), flying fangs (flying snakes), gulguthydrae, meazels, nyths, sewerms, skuz, slithermorphs, swamp rohches, thessalhydrae, and xantravars (stinging horrors). Also, many of the more commonly known denizens of cold marshes and swamps are  found within the Mere, including behirs, bullywugs, giant leeches, giant lizards, hydrae, lizard men, muck-dwellers, scrags, shambling mounds, snakes, toads, and will o'wisps. . . encounters with undead of all sorts—particularly ghouls, skeletons, and zombies—are common in the western reaches of the Mere. 
I would use that information as the basis for a wandering monster and hexploration table. I'd provide links to Wizardawn, which is what I would use to generate it, but it appears to be down currently.

Travelling to the castle

The two hundred miles north of Waterdeep they travel will put them on the north side of the Mere, which is pretty much where they will have to be to have the castle be 15 miles away. This apparently means they will be travelling south into the swamp. 

The movement rates in the module appear to be consistent with those above. Somewhere around 7-8 miles a day. There is a clearly marked trail that the characters can follow, but at the scale it is at, there should be a lot of interesting sites visible from either side as they travel, perhaps tempting them off course. 

Our first bit of navigation of a skilled challenge begins here. If the characters use the campsite, they are approached by lizard-men, who "won't negotiate or converse with characters", but their number also contains a lizard-man named Snapjaw, who can become an ally. 

This, I believe is a feature, not a bug—an encounter where the point is to punish those players who take a scorched earth policy to enemies, and reward those who think to take prisoners. 

Random Encounters

As mentioned, the book contains a bunch of interactions that are more like wandering fights, whereas constructing a table using the options above will give a much more Forgotten Realms flavor to the adventure. I would share my person encounter table, but considering the content of some of what I'm going to use, I'm not entirely sure it's covered under the OGL. Googling the monsters above should give you what you need. 

Keep tuned for the second part of Episode 6, the castle itself. . .

Hack & Slash 
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On Hoard of the Dragon Queen: Episode 5

There is a missed opportunities here.

Considering the importance that Waterdeep plays in Rise of Tiamat, you would think that they would take the short jaunt through the city to foreshadow some of those events.

Of course, Waterdeep is a complicated beast, and we are already at the page count for the product. I don't know what I'd cut to do it justice. In a home campaign, I'd certainly consider integrating at least a description of the cosmopolitan city, as well as perhaps an encounter or two to foreshadow the events in Rise of Tiamat. Maybe meet a nobleman on the road. Perhaps a run-in with Mirt.

What is in the Waterdeep section is a confusing data dump that explains why the characters are headed north to a road that doesn't go anywhere. There are no choices to be made here, and no time available for the characters to do much, so the best solution is to check with your players that their goal is still following the treasure, and then just narrating the sequence of events, rather than forcing them to jump through hoops, such as "Making them ask if there are any jobs on the caravans heading north." and "Asking around about a half-dragon".

If this isn't done, you're going to have an expectation problem. Even if you don't know that Waterdeep is one of the most populated and richest cities in the realms, you know that it is a city, and characters are going to expect to have a ton of options. But the reality is, the adventure doesn't provide any decision points till you actually reach the construction outpost. If you present the characters with a "What do you do once you reach the city?" you'll only generate bad-will if you then reply, "Well, if you do anything but follow the cultist wagons, you'll lose them."

Now, you have more options in a home game, of course. This isn't the only caravan the cultists are using to move north. It's perfectly acceptable to let this caravan go, now that you know they are meeting in Waterdeep to head north, and follow the next caravan up, giving the characters time to enjoy the splendors of Waterdeep, complete side quests, go shopping, and do what have you.

The important thing here during this sequence is to communicate and manage expectations.

Northbound, Again

There's a lot here that baffles me a little bit. 

First, Ardred Briferhew seems to be a non-entity in the course of the adventure. It's just a name for a boss guy, and doesn't even represent any sort of trope or archtype. Let's make him Garrulous and a Risk-taker, and he happens to be a living saint of Lathander. He doesn't want anything to do with the saint bussiness, but that doesn't mean he can avoid it. 

This way, when the players talk to him, he'll mention all the history about the road, area, and how even though its raining, greatly increasing their chance of encountering hydra and swamp wyrms, not to mention the supposed lair of the black dragon Voaraghamanthar, they should leave now in poor visibility to save time. 

Second, I can't see having time to use the random encounter table north of Waterdeep at an actual public-play session of encounters. I mean, you've got two hours for the whole thing to play out. For a home campaign, it's a decent wandering encounter list—excepting the fact that it's a wandering fight list, not encounter list. 

Here's a modified list of encounter possibilities:
  • 1-14 No Encounter 
  • 15 Twelve Human Bandits
    • 1 Looting a group of Bullywug corpses
    • 2 Hauling treasure back to a lair
    • 3 Lying in ambush
    • 4 Setting up camp
  • 16 One Troll
  • 17 Four Orcs and an Ogre
    • 1 Arguing over food
    • 2 Playing keep away from the ogre with a goblin head
    • 3 Lecturing the ogre about Orc religion
    • 4 Fighting Lizard-folk/Lizards (encounter 19)
  • 18 Two Ogres
  • 19 Three lizardfolk and giant lizards
    • 1 Lost, looking for the way back to the swamp
    • 2 Having some bullywug trinkets for sale
    • 3 Looking to sell some human slaves
    • 4 Lying in ambush
    • 5 Totally chill, just moving through.
    • 6 Engaged in a religious ritual
  • 20 Six Lizardfolk (as encounter 19)
  • 21 Eight giant frogs
  • 22 Twelve Bullywugs
    • 1 Arguing over who the best Bullywug is. Wants the humans to decide.
    • 2 Ambushing lizardfolk
    • 3 Eating/Molesting slaves
    • 4 Offering to buy slaves from caravan, betrays if any offer is made.
    • 5-6 Attacks
Also, note the small nod to the rules in flux where "Assume the monsters and the travelers are at high readiness before these encounters".

Carnath Roadhouse

Episode 5 starts as a continuation of episode 4’s road journey, but the destination is more puzzling. In episode 4, characters knew that the great city of Waterdeep lay at the end of the trip. In episode 5, they are headed through perilous territory north of Waterdeep toward a camp where supplies are stockpiled for the workers who are rebuilding the road to Neverwinter where it skirts the Mere of Dead Men. What starts out as a straightforward guard job turns into a spy mission—a little something for the rogues in the party who never get to do enough sneaking around in the dark. Along the way, loose ends from episode 4 might also get wrapped up.—Tiamat Tuesdays, Steve Winter
It's interesting because this is a puzzle to be solved and there are a lot of ways to go about it. The problem is, that if those ways fail, what happens next?

This is not the most challenging issue in this adventure. For instance, even if they fail to pick the lock on the door (a 1 in 400 chance), they can still try to steal the key (or even break the door down). The question is what if they do fail.

This section of the module also has formatting issues. Who are the non-player characters involved? Once the goods are delivered, what purpose do the characters have for staying more than one night? You're entering sub-arctic/arctic territory, what time of year is it? (Waterdeep, now 200 miles to the south, is literally Ontario.)

Here's an NPC reference:

  • Ardred Briferhew—Human leader of caravan
  • Bog Luck—Half-orc camp superintendent
  • Wump—one of four stableboys
  • Three unnamed stable boys
  • Gristle Pete—Human cook
  • Cult of the Dragon—Likely the same ones that traveled north with the players
    • Larion Keenblade—cultist and thief from cultist
  • Other Escorts and Wagon Drivers
A good way to handle this whole section is to frame it as what it is. Where are the goods headed? Make it clear that that's the goal. Then, you can take some time to characterize the various NPC's, have some nasty weather to justify the players staying for a night or two, and play it out, letting the players take whatever action they want to continue to try and track the goods, so they can get onto the next section of the module. 

In a worst case scenario, more cultists and cult goods should be showing up in another ten-day or so, allowing the characters to sneak into the encampment at night.

If the goal is stated clearly ("Where do the goods go?"), then the Dungeon Master should be able to follow up on the players ideas to make the session as engaging as possible. Several encounter ideas are suggested by the module itself, and based on the non-player character interactions or the Dungeon Master's creativity, several more should present themselves. 

Hack & Slash 
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On Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Episode IV Remix: Part II

Baldur's Gate

Your characters could have up to a ten-day to hang out in one of the largest and most well known cities in Faerûn. 

Sure, no problem. Wing it.

Here's some background information on Baldur's Gate. This metropolis has over 100,000 people in it. The best that can be done in such a situation is to ask the players what they are doing, and have a good city encounter table. I'm not going to supply one—I'd probably use a Judge's guild product. 

I suggest a small sidequest, introducing some non-player characters (perhaps even one of the ones making the journey north) and using this section as an outlet for your creativity.

At my home table, I expect the ten-day in Baldur's Gate to take an entire session or two.

Hiring Out

This table is great. The best part is, the players will in almost every circumstance get hired out to different people. This leads to the biggest problem with this section in general.

One two hour session isn't enough for players to experience 1/10th the content available in Chapter 4. It's not a problem that they get hired out to separate people because that's bad. It's a problem because it's good.  Two months of travel condensed into as many hours seems difficult to do. 

My suggestion if you're running it for encounters is to pick the one or two people or events that stand out best to you and ignore the rest. If you're not running encounters, then taking the time to meet several of the NPC's and following the players down side paths and having multiple encounters can be a pretty rewarding experience for the campaign. 

Fellow Travelers

So this section is great. What's even better is the admonishment in the beginning—use these when you need an NPC or to spice up the journey, change them however you like. 

Random Road Events

I know some people have complained about these, but I like nearly all of them.

Adventuring Life

Ousting imposters in revenge for losing their vaunted position and having them get more money from it? Sounds awesome. I'd spend some time fancying up the group, giving them a name, each of the members a personality. 

Animal Abuse

This also is great, especially how it plays out if no one does anything. 

Bane of the Mountains

There is a bit of a missed opportunity here with the Preytons, being that they are pretty fascinating creatures of myth. A little addition of having one of the characters dream of a human shadow standing over them, only to turn and see a vicious stag might lend additional weight to this encounter.


This is interesting, because it's almost as much in the player charater's interest to keep it covered up as it is the cultists. It's important that the treasure reach the goal, so the players know where the cult is headed.

Everything has a Price

Again, this punishes (entertainingly) players who think everything in Dungeons and Dragons is straightforward. What can the players do in this situation? How's it resolved? These are not negative questions, but interesting ones. It's especially helpful to make sure this is a player character's magic item, because boy-howdy will the player be invested.
There's some danger of fiat here ("The item automatically disappears overnight"), but it's not too far a stretch because it only occurs if special precautions aren't taken and the person taking it won't be who the player suspects. It's very unlikely the player will never go to the bathroom, sleep, or be distracted.

Fungus Humongous


The Golden Stag

This is absolutely the best encounter out of the bunch. Mythic, interesting, and with a touch of the strange. It's seeing things like this in published adventures that lets me know the spirit of the OSR has taken hold.


It's interesting that there's the opportunity for an ally here, but he is quite vaguely described. I would think it's more important to at least give a sentence or two to his personality. The encounter is made extra interesting if he's off putting or offensive.  

No Room at the Inn

This is a good encounter to pull if the characters seem to be getting frustrated. It's a simple straightforward opportunity to put the smackdown on some jerks that deserve it. (Note that "Assassins" are not the correct monster type for this encounter. Each Assassin is an CR 8 encounter. I believe substituting knights or spies makes for a more appropriate encounter.)

"Regarding the "No Room At the Inn" road encounter -- That encounter has a long, sad history. The original version was very different, because the villains were not assassins but young green slaads polymorphed into human form and out to cause trouble. Playtesters loved the original encounter because of the twist -- no one expected slaads in that situation. 
But then young green slaads disappeared from the MM and we were instructed not to use them in this encounter. We cast around for alternatives and found no really good ones, but assassins were at least close to the slaads in power -- as they were then written. In hindsight, we probably should have dropped the encounter entirely and replaced it with something else, because making the villains into just a bunch of human a**holes took all the charm out of the situation. But it had been such a hit with playtesters, we hated to lose it." - Steve Winters

Roadside Hospitality

An old trope to be sure, and not particularly suited for encounters play. It is more than somewhat likely if the two ladies can get someone off into the woods, that four attacks at advantage doing 4d6+4 each can drop a PC. How to run this depends on your party, right? If successfully replaced the PC is dead, and is then responsible for playing the part of the Doppelganger. If you're looking for some ideas on what they want, I've talked about them before.

Spider Woods

A nice large combat, and it's only one of the many encounters! Can we talk about how nice that the big tactical combat encounter is in the minority of these options? Because that's nice.


An interesting tactical situation that the players can attend to. It's interesting that solving it causes at least as many problems as fixes.

Planned Road Events

And this is the biggest problem with this section of the adventure. Let's talk about Recognized first. You, at some point, have gone on a road trip with some other people. Didn't at the end of that trip you know them all, waaaay better than you knew them before? 

Here we are talking about going on a deadly road trip for at least sixty days. There isn't a single person on this trip you won't meet or get an idea about by the end of the first week. How come none of the non-player characters are cultists? You'd know them all, staying separate or no. This is a missed opportunity. Cultists are people too. You can use my book On the Non-Player Character to generate their personalities, or try Daniel Davis's Random Cultist Generator over at Detect Magic.

Murder Most Foul is the second problem. It's a cutscene. The players cannot affect the outcome and have no ability to discern what actually happens. This is literally how it is presented "And then one of the cultists was stabbed to death. They accuse you. There's no way to tell what happened. All the cultists hate you now Tom. They hate you. The end of episode 4."

This episode is very much a amusement park ride—Steve Winter says as much:
"Episode 4 sends characters on a long road journey. Because The Rise of Tiamat is set in the Forgotten Realms, we wanted to let characters see some of the countryside and learn a bit about their world before they risk their lives further trying to save it. Faerûn is a colorful, endlessly interesting place, and it would be wasteful not to capitalize on that with a dollop of life on the road." -Steve Winter, Tiamat Tuesdays
Presenting it that way, letting the characters know they have to track the treasure in order to stop the Dragon Cult,  prevents a lot of railroad bucking. Why not steal the treasure? Why not kill the cultists? Well, the treasure and cultists are your only links to the cult. Lose them, and what's next, besides letting them take over the world?

Hack & Slash 
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On Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Episode IV Remix: Part I

Episode four is where a lot of awesome is found.

When I'm writing an adventure for someone, I've got to assume that they have the skills to pull things off. There are these points in this adventure (A blue dragon attacks the town, you've got to walk into the enemy camp, a half-dragon leader who far outclasses the party challenges them) where if handled by a poor Dungeon Master, can lead to player disbelief, disengagement, and dissatisfaction.

That's what this series is—simply my take on how I would present and run things to prevent that. Steve Winter has faith in me (and you) that we can move beyond his page count constraints to do that.

There are a lot of unfair comparisons being made. What are some of the best adventures and most memorable modules? Caves of Chaos? Elemental Evil? Phandlever? Thracia? Each of those are these giant environments with many moving parts that players can manipulate. That was not the directive for this book. I run linear non-jaquayed dungeons all the time, but I run them as sites on a hexmap or quest options for players to explore or ignore as they please (with the appropriate consequences of course).

What we are talking about here is what makes a good adventure for a player to buy? What makes a good adventure for a DM to run at encounters? What are the assumptions of each and how do we negotiate those? How much does the module require of you to do that?

One of the biggest issues that has come up is that Hoard of the Dragon Queen starts with the players seeing a blue dragon attacking a town. How players react to this has to do with their expectations and previous play experience. The problem with 5e groups is, you have grognards playing with Type III series people playing with Type IV series people and each group has wildly different expectations of what occurs during play. Some expect that they are heroes and should go to the town because they are the ones to save it. Others expect that they are playing people who recognize that they are mortal and choose to stay away from dragons at all costs!

A 4th edition blog I've been perusing recently about the realms, called appropriately enough "My Realms" had this to say about Phandelver:
"From reading the reviews of Lost Mine before I had it in my hot little e-hands, it seems the presence of a 16 hit dice green dragon in the Ruins of Thundertree clearly presented a problem that few level 3 parties would be able to overcome. In fact, it would appear that its breath weapon alone, by virtue of its size and average damage, would be sufficient to wipe out many a level 3 5E party.
While the obvious solution is to make the dragon a younger age category and thus more level-appropriate (and the green dragon has to be left in the adventure because it's depicted in the cover art), the purpose of this post is to suggest some other ways to make the dragon encounter still work but have it involve negotiation because it seems the dragon has a problem." - Starter Set Sandbox 3: Ruins of Thundertree
I feel it's completely ok for players to run across creatures they can't kill (because sometimes they can). It's not that one of these styles is correct and the other is incorrect. It's that if you're not running a certain type of adventure, then your skills as a Dungeon Master come in at making that type of adventure work at the table with your players.

A lot of groups have looked at the Blue Dragon in Hoard of the Dragon Queen and gone—"We go save the town!".  This doesn't mean that the table has a good Dungeon Master. The skill of a good Dungeon Master is solving the root of the problem: Are you able to collapse previous play experience, expectation, and the adventure in front of you in an entertaining way while causing as little cognitive dissonance as possible?*

There's a key, crucial, insight here that what makes a tabletop adventure good isn't some narrated moment, it's when the players feel that their actions have meaning.

Episode 4: On the Road.

The core of this situation makes a lot of sense. They have to track the caravan, because they don't know what the plan is, where the dragon cult is based, or what's going on. Tracking the stolen goods is a great way to find this information out.

There's a throwaway line about making the 200 mile trip from Greenest to Elturel in six days with optional encounters. At D&D encounters, this should be quickly handwaved. But for a home table, it's a great opportunity to break out the calendar, whether tables, and random monster encounter tables to give the characters an opportunity to feel like they are part of a living, complex, and dangerous world. There's no pages available for that information in Hoard of the Dragon Queen. 

There's a bunch of really important balls to juggle in the air here.
  • The whole land of Elturgard is bathed in undead killing light that shines night and day.
  • Did you mention Ontharr Frume and Elturel when the monk was talking earlier? This whole adventure goes down much easier if you make it clear at the start of part three that adventure 4 begins by going to Elturel to fine Ontharr Frume. 
  • Player's hate hoop-jumping and wasting time. That's how the adventure in Elturel starts.
I hate when players hate things. When they arrive in town, they are directed, as per the adventure to the "A Pair of Black Antlers Inn". Once there, if they try to talk to Leosin or Ontharr, they are told ears are everywhere and preparations are being made for a meeting on the night of the morrow. This means they have all day today and tomorrow to engage in whatever they want. This both explains why they are having to screw around and also frees them to follow up on things that interest them. 

Elturel has a population of 17,000 in 1479. This is a large city, which means it has a lot of stuff for sale. Any item in the range of 8-10,000 gold can be found within it's walls. So shopping is a possibility, as well as someone willing to buy dragon eggs or wyrms.

I would create a schedule of events, much like a convention, along with the standard shopping and city encounters and present it to the players. The key factors here being that A) they can't attend all the events and B) various small bonuses are acquired for engaging in or participating in the events. Ontharr already seems to be running a small festival.

I've done things like this before and they are a lot of fun for the players. Simply create a schedule of events like so:
Time Events Events Events
8:00 AM Feast & Speech
9:00 AM Foot Race Archery Contest Horseback Riding
10:00 AM Archery Contest (cont) Horseback Riding (cont.)
11:00 AM Pie Eating Contest Archery Contest (finals) Horseback Riding (finals)
Midday Lunch Festival Lunch Festival Lunch Festival
1:00 PM The Concubine of Sass Tam (Play) Arm Wrestling Dancing Contest
2:00 PM The Concubine of Sass Tam (Play) Arm Wrestling Dancing Contest
3:00 PM The Concubine of Sass Tam (Play) Drinking Contest Dancing Contest (finals)
4:00 PM Talent Exhibition Drinking Contest Wrestling Contest
5:00 PM Talent Exhibition Drinking Contest Wrestling Contest
6:00 PM Dinner/Open Mic Dinner/Open Mic Dinner/Open Mic
7:00 PM Open Mic/Socializing Open Mic/Socializing Open Mic/Socializing

And so on. The next day could have sparring/weapon training/a cook-off/ whatever.  Note that this timing will also conflict with their ability to go shopping or accomplish other tasks in the town.  I'd resolve contests with a series of d20 rolls, however you wish, contested, against target numbers, etc. Providing some color to competitors could also provide possible recruitable henchmen. Placing or winning in a contest would provide a small bonus. Examples for winning or placing in the archery contest might include: Here is a 1d6 you can roll to add to any damage from a ranged weapon, or you may choose to make 1 ranged shot at advantage, to even giving out 1-10 magical +1 arrows or a mildly enchanted bow, with a minor enchantment like whoever uses it has proficiency in it.

The important thing is you have fun creating the table and the contests, and the players get two days of game time to mess around and do fun things.

At the appointed time the characters can meet with Ontharr and Leosin, and receive the quest to catch up to the caravan headed to Baldur's Gate.

The Mission

The only thing I have to say here, is I really like the costume change bit. It's suggested that the characters alter their appearance, and now being third or fourth level it is a good time to do so. This is a pretty common trope and works well in a visual sense, for those players who focus on RPG's that way.

Part II examines Baldur's Gate and the various ways to manage travel on the road.

*An example of this is casting in armor. I never had any problem creating good in world reasons for casting in armor—or even just saying, "Them's the rules of the game we are playing." But enough people did and it created enough of a problem that the current version of the game just says "f&*% it. Everyone can cast in armor." This is a correct solution. 

Hack & Slash 
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On Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Episode III Remix, Part II

Dragons are not creatures like you and I.

The beginning of this was pretty standard room and trap fare, but when the players leave after encountering the dragon creche, they should say—that's not like any dungeon I've ever seen!

So in each of the dragon and dragon spawn chambers, there's going to be environmental effect, some that do the battlefield game of a little extra damage. Others that whisper dragon to the part of your brain that recognizes them as master.

You may also note that I'm listing out the DC's and skills for each trap, because apparently the rules weren't finished yet. Many of the rooms are using verbiage from older drafts of 5e ("Readiness scores and Incidental spotting")

Room 7: Drake Nursery

So the gate blocks off this pit which is where the ritual to create a guard drake is performed.

What is this ritual? I'm so glad you asked! Instead of consuming a worm from a dragon egg, the victim—a cultist or captive who has committed some offense or crime—is forced to drink the blood of a dragon of the color of the guard drake they are to become. Blue in this case. This cup-full of dragon blood is enchanted so that the victim falls catatonic, but completely aware of their surroundings. Paralyzed with eyes open, a dragon egg worm is released on the face of the victim where it promptly seeks out a burrows into an available eye. It makes its way to the brain, at which point, it begins transforming the person in to a guard drake. As noted in the description, the drakes can understand draconic and any language they knew in life—because the mind of the person transformed is whole within the beast. Trapped inside an alien body they no longer control, they suffer as prisoners for the entire life of the creature, which, since barring accident or murder, guard drakes appear to be immortal, can be a long time.

So, they got that going for them.

Oh, there's also some dragon dogs here, who take it as their highest priority to release the drakes from their pen.

Environment: Besides the overwhelming scent of Ozone that the drakes (and all blue draconic creatures produce) anytime anyone speaks while fighting with blue drakes, everyone hears what they say come from the mouth of the blue drake and people regularly hear the people they are fighting with make loud draconic roars. Anyone making a melee attack against a blue drake must succeed at a DC 10 Wisdom save or find themselves having switched places with the drake. No long term affects result from this besides disorientation.

Traps: Spike trap: Passive Wisdom (Perception) 15, Intelligence (Investigation) DC 10, or discovered automatically if testing the floor ahead of the party. 20% chance per character to take 1d4 piercing + DC 10 Constitution save vs. poison. Causes confusion for 1 minute if failed, for 1 round if you succeed.

Avoidance: Avoid stepping on the camouflaged floor.

Chapter II: There are triple the number of Dragon-dogs and drakes in this chamber.

Room 8: Dragon-dog Barracks

Oh, look, a boring room with some treasure and monsters. 

The first thing to note is that this room looks like a frat house, but instead of having beers, they have people. Half-eaten rotten corpses lie everywhere, flies are swarming around, vomit and crap lie in piles. Anyone performing melee in the room has to make a DC 10 Dexterity check each round to avoid slipping and giving them disadvantage on their attack. Also, everything in this room is surprisingly flammable!

Traps: Collapsing Ceiling: Passive Wisdom (Perception) 15, Wisdom (Perception) DC 10, automatic if checking the stairway; 50% chance to collapse the ceiling on the person following.

Avoidance: It's only half the step, so it can be avoided by going down the correct side of the stairway, instead of needing to skip a step. 

Chapter II: Very active with double the number of kobolds here.

Room 9: Dragon Shrine

The black shrine to Tiamat.

Zero Content: First, any writing not devoted to Tiamat flares up and burns to ash as soon as there is a line of effect from the shrine to the person carrying it.
Void of the Black Wing: Secondly in front of the shrine there is a black vortex. It's a ball of inky purple blackness about the size of a soccerball floating in front of the shrine, and black-purple tendrils stretch throughout the room. Anyone taking damage in this room must succeed at a DC 15 Constitution save or take another 1d4 necrotic damage. This is stored in a pool that dragons and draconic creatures can access as an action to grant themselves hit points.

TrapsTrap Name: Passive Wisdom (Perception) 15, Intelligence (Investigation) DC 15, automatic if the chest is inspected for traps.  Description: The chest requires a DC 10 Dexterity check to unlock, and a DC 15 Dexterity check to disarm. On a failure to disarm the trap is set off. Taking real world measures to bypass the trap work (i.e. figuring out a new way to depress the plate. Removing the rear of the chest with flame paste, et. al.)

Avoidance: Keys man, keys. Rezmir has the key. 

Aside: If Cyanwrath is dead, he's not here. The bezerkers could be half-dragons also. Personally, I'd have him use his breath, cut down anyone that's weak, pump back up on hit points, and then flee using the bezerkers for cover. Why he fights to the death is beyond me. Plus, players love to chase down a bad guy. Also, Cyanwrath owns a potion of fly.

Chapter II: Cyanwrath has his full guard compliment of 8 half-dragon bezerkers.

Room 10: Dragon Hatchery

You know where you don't want to be?

A dragon hatchery

Environment: The walls in this room ooze acid. Every minute spent in the room by a non-draconic creature requires a DC 15 Constitution save or you take 1d8 acid damage from the burning to your lungs.

The guard drakes in here are black guard drakes.
Festering wounds: Black drake attacks do 1d6 points of damage the round after the successfully strike a foe as the wound festers and burns.
Disco Confusion: When in bright light, mirrored reflections of the people around it dance in a confusing holographic array, making ranged attacks take place at disadvantage.
Persistence of Memory: Sometimes, after fighting these drakes, the world forgets your name.

Sweet, anyone want to try and raise a black dragon? At this stage they are still worms, allowing the characters to create 10-100 dragon dogs or guard drakes, if they have a penchant for such things, but they only have a tenday (this is Forgotten Realms, remember?) meaning each day 1-10 worms are eaten by the other worms.

Also, sticking an out of depth roper in here is a nice nod to the Sunless Citadel Debacle.  I see you Steve Winter.

Chapter II: There are eight eggs here, and twice as many guard drakes

Room 11: Frulam Mondath's Chamber

No changes. Mondath needs a personality, since she's not given much of any text until this point.

Random generation says she's: Fanatical and Cautious, she's a physical fitness buff and has a narrow bering. She views herself as having the spirit of a dragon and is tired of the constant shit she has to take from everyone.

Nice that her actions and motives are dynamic. Sanctuary and her potion of Invisibility I just gave her should give her a fighting chance to flee from the party.

TrapsCarpet Pit: Passive Wisdom (Perception) 10, automatic if looking or checking for traps; I prefer cumulative sum for falling damage, as Gygax intended it. 1d6+2d6+3d6=6d6 falling damage for the 30 foot fall. If you are running this and you cringe at that, then I promise you after puberty, you'll enjoy it a lot more. 

Avoidance: Don't step on the sagging rug.

Room 12: Guard Barracks

The guards that are left here should be engaged in a touching ritual, where they are gleefully worshiping Tiamat. The details of this should be strange and mildly to severely disturbing. Adjust to taste. The important part is that they are totally stoked about what they are doing, super friendly to party members, and actively encourage them to join in.

Room 13: Treasure Storage

If woken up and not killed outright, this cultist doesn't want to be in the cult anymore, and instead wants to be a henchman. He's socially awkward and laid back and is interested in minutia. His name is Rank Magus, and he has a long neck.

Hack & Slash 
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