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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