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?

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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. 

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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.

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On Hoard of the Dragon Queen, Episode III Remix, Part I

A moment before we get into the work of remixing Episode III.

I've seen a lot of people giving Wolfgang Baur and Steven Winter a hard time for this adventure path.

I don't think it's fair to say that the module is bad or a failure simply because it compares negatively to some of the best adventure modules ever written (e.g. Masks of Nyarlathotep). This was written on a deadline as work for hire. Wolfgang has written one of the best modules ever written (Kingdom of the Ghouls from Dungeon Magazine #70). HotDQ is a huge project on a tight deadline with a rule set that is still in flux. It's not supposed to be wildly creative, it's supposed to show off the system. So my attempt at remixing it and any comments made are not designed to reflect negatively on either of the designers. Lots of people are running HotDQ as written and it's going fine.

Those people aren't me and likely aren't in the OSR. Onward with the remix.

A Dungeon

Obviously this was marked as "Party's first dungeon" and someone came in and did it by the numbers. There's an awful lot wrong with this dungeon. How many people got poisoned to death getting a sandwich?

Still, let's start from the beginning:

Assuming the characters returned from either rescuing Leosin or failing to do so, someone, Tarbaw Nighthill, Escobert the Red, Leosin, whoever, tells the character's that they need eyeballs on the camp and they are worried about whatever is being held in that cave.

If for some reason, they visited the cave when they were at the camp the first time, everything is as I've remixed it below, along with additional notes about increased troop strength. It's likely if they investigate the cave in chapter II, they will end up captured and back to the situation where they are sent back to start this chapter as chapter III.

That would confuse me, except this is meant to be run at Encounters and in game stores, hence the sharp division between chapter II and chapter III. Hell, a lot of these changes alone can double or triple the running time of these missions, which might not fit in well to 2 hour encounter sessions.

Abandoned Camp

Most of the facts here as noted in the module are fine. The issue comes that there is absolutely nothing interesting going on in the abandoned camp. Oh, except some scouts, who don't talk to anyone, unless they do, and then they say as little as possible. 

Here's a table of interesting things going on in the abandoned camp:

  • Two of the scouts are fighting over a tied up villagewoman
  • A lone Dragon-Dog is furiously digging somewhere in the rear of the camp.
  • A single cultist is painting a large wooden signboard with the phrase "Free Couch" and an arrow.
  • A group of three cultists stands on the north side of camp arguing about which way to go.
  • 1d4 of the scouts are standing around cutting meat.
None of these people are actively hostile to the players, none of them care much about what's going on in the cave. 

The Dragon Cave

"Episode 3 is familiar territory: an old-fashioned dungeon. This one is a dragon hatchery manned by a handful of cultists, some monsters, and everyone’s favorite low-level foe, kobolds. In a larger sense, it takes what players learned in episodes 1 and 2 and puts it all to the test: problem solving, risk assessment, exploration, and combat." - Steven Winter
 Obviously "make a dungeon" is a different thing than "make the best damn dungeon ever".

Aside: Let me tell you, there are some super boring and terrible one page dungeons. Making a dungeon interesting is hard, so I'm going to take what Steve Winter says above and try to merge that with the most interesting thing I can manage.

The dungeon is not strictly linear, nor is it flat, so that's excellent. Since kobolds are often skinned as trapmakers, and the dungeon is full of traps, we're going to go full on trap agency with this.

Structurally, I would add a connection between room 5 and room 9, as well as a secret path from 2 to 11.

Room 1: Cave Entrance

There are several nude corpses in this room. These are cultists who have taken the worm, unsuccessfully.
 (Edit: This previously linked to a Google+ post by Hans Chung-Otterson. The relevant quote is repeated here, without permission: "Dragons lay clutches of eggs. Any single egg swarms with a dozen or so little worms, who all vie for dominance. They devour each other until the strongest is left, which hatches as a dragon. The same thing repeats itself in the clutch--the strongest dragon kills, eats, survives, and grows.
However, a dragon's egg can be broken and opened while the worms still squirm within. A human can swallow a worm, which then infests the lower intestine. The worm, feeding off of the human, deposits jellylike sacs of eggs into the stomach, which thrive in the acid. The human periodically (and very unpleasantly) hacks up a mass of grape-sized, soft eggs, which hatch, are fed on the blood of small animals, and quickly grow into adult kobolds.
You're not a true cultist until you've taken the Worm."

Sometimes (quite frequently in fact) the kobolds burst from the gut and chest of the bearer, after eating their way out. All the players can tell is that the corpses in this room look like they have exploded from the inside out. The dragonclaw guards hide as normal.
Chapter II: In Chapter II, there are triple as many guards (6 instead of 2), and several of the cultists have yet to die, but are weakly moaning as they are eaten from the inside out. Instead of attacking, they call for reinforcements. Note that if the players a subtle, they could possibly sneak in this room and charm/sleep/alpha strike this group before an alarm is sounded.

Room 2: Concealed Passage

Other than the detritus of the dragonclaws "readiness", this area is unchanged. The DC 20 perception check should be made into a DC 20 passive perception check and should be automatic (as noted) for anyone who actually walks into the darkness.

Room 3: Fungus Garden 

Oh, you keep the violet fungi, but on a successful attack or if the characters fall into the fungus patch, require DC 10 Constitution saves. On a failure, the character begins to hallucinate

  1. Everyone the character sees turns melty and then is replaced by a reptillian doppelganger.
  2. Bugs start swarming out of the walls and floor and are covering the character's hands and arms. 
  3. The walls and room catch fire and you are unbearably hot, willing to do anything to cool off.
  4. A monkey ran up and stole you Macguffin, and then hid in random team-mates backpack. Once you find him he only steals something else and runs away. If anyone tries to reassure you, they must be in on it.
  5. You feel sick and the walls are closing in and you know you are going to die any minute.
  6. Everything is just, really, really, funny. Laugh out loud funny. Ringing echoing laughs.
Also, there is now a halfling named Tom Haverford who is naked and hanging upside down from the ceiling. He's lazy and obsessed with looking dapper. Rescuing Tom puts you in range of the fungus. He is awake or unconscious as you desire.   
Traps: Stair Trap: Passive Wisdom (perception) 20, Active Wisdom (Perception) 15. Automatic if inspecting the stairs before going down. 
Violet Fungus: Intelligence (Investigation) DC 15 to spot the correct path through the fungus or Intelligence (Nature) 15 to spot the fungus.  

Avoidance: Cultists know where not to walk.

Room 4: Stirge Lair

So, you have to avoid cat-sized deadly mosquitoes to get something to eat? No. Just no.

The bat storm is a nice idea, but the thought of every cultist needing to make a DC 10 Dexterity (Stealth) check just to eat or go get a lizard is a bit far-fetched. What is this room now?

Empty. A big, creepy, empty room that echos and casts shadows everywhere. It's hollow and it echos and it's a bit creepy, and every time the players enter it, you roll a random encounter check because it's the center of the complex.

Be sure to mention the spears leaning against the east exit by the stairs.

Room 5: Troglodyte Incursion

A real opportunity is missed here. The room setup and the player skill focus is good. Troglodytes attack is dull. Here are some other options for Troglodyte interactions.

  1. Busy inscribing religious pictograms on the wall, plenty eager and polite to acquire new worshipers, centered around sexual acts and giving birth. 
  2. Torturing an unlucky cultist, who is eager to be rescued. Troglodytes not hostile to party, believe that they are making him very happy due to his mouth noises.
  3. Room seems like a convenient place for sexual activity.
  4. Busy holding off an underdark invasion of driders
  5. Trying to scrape together enough dope for a second bowl
  6. Just looking to hang out and have a beer like excellent dudebros. All around good guys, just waiting for their dark god to destroy the world. 
No matter what happens, they think the party is a bunch of real jerks and aggressive pricks if they attack them. During the fight they constantly complain about how mean they are and want to know why they are so hostile.

Room 6: Meat Locker 

So the trap is foreshadowed well by the placement of the spears above.  Them leaning against the staircase provides the clue and explanation needed for the larder trap. The room is empty otherwise, which is fine, though I'm a fan of rot grubs being around in old meats.
Traps: Poisoned Hooks: Passive Wisdom (Perception) 20, Intelligence (Investigation) DC 15; The book makes it sound as if the hooks aren't visible, leading to the conclusion that it can't be perceived, but it can be investigated. Of course, specifically inspecting the curtain for traps will automatically discover the hooks.
Avoidance: Planting one of the spears in the ground to push the curtain aside. 

Tune in for Part II of the Episode III remix later this week, for the other 7 rooms. 

Hack & Slash 
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