Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Recap: Dragonborn Quest Begins!

It's the eye of the dragon! Bwamp bwamp bwamp
No Storm King's Thunder again this week, as Cait was actually taking her exams. Good news, she passed! So, hopefully we'll have time for a session this coming weekend.

In other news, I am finally getting back to my homebrewed setting, the world of Ahneria. Some of the characters from my previous campaign are now on a brand new quest!

This story is part 1 of a series. The campaign was completed.
| Previous CampaignPart 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 |

Dragonborn Quest: To Distant Shores!

Cast of Characters
Jon: Dungeon Master
Will: Daardendrian Kreev, Red Dragonborn Bard, former prince who ran away from home for adventure
Megan: Daardendrian Zovira, Red Dragonborn Fighter, Kreev's aunt, champion of the clan
Bria: Druuga Faelynn, Silver Dragonborn Bard, avenged her sister and ready to head home
Michelle: Nerithya Finzerwin, Half-Drow Rogue, ex-cultist looking for a new purpose to her life
Matt: Caspian Atkins, Human Swashbuckler, famous explorer, been around the world and back... twice
NPC: Torrin, a clanless young Gold Dragonborn who is eager to go on adventures and become a hero
NPC: Oddmund, Nerithya's Shield Guardian, has a smiling face painted on his head

Before we start the actual play report, there's some backstory that should be told. This was imparted to the characters in-game, but it will be easier to have it all in one place and skim over the campfire stories later in the session.

Daardendrian Rhoyax: the first name in genocide
29 years ago, Daardendrian Kreev was born to the ruling clan of the Isle of Daardendrian, in the same year that his father, Daardendrian Rhoyax, finished his bloody coup to take the isle from the hands of the Gold Dragonborn clans. Rhoyax, however, wasn't satisfied with simply ruling his enemies and ordered the genocide of the Gold Dragonborn on the island. Zovira, Rhoyax's younger sister, helped carry out the slaughter.

Kreev's egg mother, Shreeva, raised her son on stories of a famous Silver Dragonborn Bard, Druuga Raavodar, who had fought in the coup and had left the isle to become a wandering hero. Kreev took to these tales, not knowing that Raavodar had left behind two children: twin sisters named Faerynn and Faelynn.

Kreev grew up knowing his father had done terrible things, and that Dragonborn could be held to higher morals. He spent more time away from Castle Daardendrian, gaining friends in taverns and music halls. Zovira, haunted by the genocide she had taken part in, began to adopt ideals that drifted away from those of her brother Rhoyax. Meanwhile, Faerynn and Faelynn left the island to seek their own adventures.

On Kreev's 25th hatching day, Rhoyax declared that Kreev would be his successor. Kreev, now dreaming of a life as a wandering bard, refused. The Daardendrian clan was in turmoil.

At the same time, one of Kreev's half-brothers, Krivxeros, was being asked to leave the island due to his strange and chaotic magic. Shreeva decided to help sneak her son off the island, with the help of Kreev's friend and local dock guard Myastan Faerbor. Rhoyax was furious, and declared that Kreev was exiled, never to return on punishment of death.

Kreev and Krivxeros (the latter whom had taken the name "Mr. Lizard" to hide his identity) explored the country of Garlancia for a few years, eventually meeting up with Faelynn, avenging Faerynn's death, and stopping the cult of Kam. They also picked up an ex-cultist, Nerithya Finzerwin, who had skills as a rogue and was willing to fight alongside the group.

However, all was not well on the Isle of Daardendrian. With Rhoyax's chosen heir exiled, the ruling clan was in turmoil. Rhoyax's younger siblings and children began infighting to claim the position of rulership, and another clan decided to take advantage of the situation. Over the course of two years, the clan's once-ironclad hierarchy fell apart.

My name is Favnir and I'm a big butt
The black dragonborn clan of Z'ildroth, normally Kobold slavers and assassins, took the opportunity to move in and decimate clan Daardendrian. Rhoyax was assassinated, as was much of his immediate family. Zovira fought back for some time, but eventually was forced to flee. She knew where Kreev had gone, thanks to her close relationship with Shreeva, and decided to head to Garlancia and retrieve the heir.

The red dragonborn clans were whittled down to very small numbers, and put to work as slaves in the mines. The black dragonborn, lead by Z'ildroth Salathzar and his enforcer Z'ildroth Favnir, began a campaign of slaughter against Copper Dragonborn, those who would most oppose their rule. The isle and the castle were renamed, and black dragonborn now ruled the Isle of Z'ildroth.

Whew! Lots of backstory! But that tends to happen in these sort of ongoing story-campaigns. We now return to your regularly-scheduled D&D report.

Three weeks had passed since the fall of the cult of Kam. During that time, many of the heroes had gone their separate ways, either to new adventures or new responsibilities. Kreev, Faelynn, Nerithya, and Zovira had stayed behind in the grand city of Garton, partially to see the city rebuilt, and partially to gain the training they had been promised by accepting positions among the Knights of Garlancia.

However, now that their training was complete, Zovira urged Kreev to gather any allies he could and return to the island of his home, to stop clan Z'ildroth and find his mother Shreeva, who had been captured by the black dragonborn.

Faelynn knew of a famous explorer, Caspian Atkins, who could get them to the island on his ship, the Jessamine. They met with local philanthropist and Senator(ess) Sturly Stempleburgiss, who paid for their voyage out to the Isle of Z'ildroth as thanks for their service to the city of Garton.
Zovira and Torrin, the strong and stoic with the weak and excited
Caspian agreed, and the group was on their way. Zovira wrote letters thanking various allies and citizens for their help, Kreev threw a goodbye concert, and Torrin helped pack everyone's things. The young dragonborn was insanely excited to be going on adventure with real heroes.

Unfortunately, Garton was quite a ways inland from Caspian's ship, so the group boarded his keelboat and made their way along the Mane river towards the coast.

When they reached the fording from the Mane river to the Mari river, they were greeted by some familiar faces. Anna, the river pirate captain who they had worked with in Garton, was moored to the shore with her crew, which now included Rank and Crash, old allies from the fall of the Cult.

Caspian and Anna immediately exchanged sly remarks, apparently knowing each other from some previous adventure/heist/tryst. Anna offered the group a race downriver to the coast, and the moment Caspian agreed, the race was on!

The group sped past startled villagers and merchants along the trade road that ran parallel to the river. The pirates played dirty, and Kreev and Faelyn had their hands full repelling boarders and sabotaging enemy ships. Meanwhile, Caspian and his first mate Bromwell manned the keel, Zovira and Oddmund rowed with all their might, and Nerithya managed the sails while swinging from the mast.

She's well known for her booty
Torrin was on the prow of the ship, laughing and yelling with excitement, for the entire race.

The group navigated the river well, with Caspian's help. Crash tried to pepper them with javelins, and Rank pulled his signature backflip to try to rock the heroes' boat, but Faelynn's defensive magic prevailed. Finally, they were neck and neck with Anna's personal keelboat, the River's Bounty.

In the final moments of the race, Kreev cast Animate Objects to turn Anna's boat alive. He commanded it to capsize itself, and it yelled back "But father! I love her!" Kreev insisted, and Anna's now-living boat stopped in its tracks and flipped over. Anna gave a rude gesture to Kreev as she walked up to the underside of her ship.

The group had won the race, and as promised, Anna gave Caspian a small goblin skull with a special enchantment on it. Once a week, it could summon a fiendish goblin servant from the goblin afterlife, who would serve the person who summoned them. Caspian, already having more than enough crew, gave the skull to Nerithya. She immediately summoned Pug, a small, stupid goblin who was very grateful to have been freed from the eternal warfare of the goblin afterlife.

The group camped out under a willow tree for the night, sharing stories about the Isle and why they were going there. Bromwell, a man of few words, got along well with Oddmund, who couldn't talk. Zovira told Torrin about the slaughter of his clan, which he couldn't really comprehend. He didn't understand the implications of being clanless, and took it to be part of his "tragic hero back story". Zovira promised she wouldn't let anything ever hurt him, partially as a way to atone for the things she had done to his people.
Like this, but with more robots and dragons
The next day, the group sailed through the Hundred Marshes, a small swampland where the Mari river branched out before hitting the Sea. Torrin stayed in Caspian's cabin, which was full of all sorts of wild treasures and magic items. He had several similar goblin skulls already, as well as a device that granted a single wish (but turned the wisher inside-out) and a coin that acted as a permanent anchor whenever it was placed on the deck of a ship.

The group was attacked by several water snakes, and they told Pug and Torrin to hide in the cabin. Almost immediately, they heard Torrin shout "Oh Gods! His insides are everywhere!" Nerithya dismissed Pug, and the dead goblin's corpse was sent back to the afterlife.

The group fought the snakes for a while, as more and more came up from the swamp, before Faelynn realized that they were all connected to a pair of hydra swimming below the water's surface. Kreev polymorphed one into a fish and commanded the other one to eat the fish, and they sailed off as the two hydra battled each other.

They had sailed a few more hours when suddenly the keelboat was snared by two vine traps. Hundreds of lizardfolk appeared in the mists, demanding that Kreev speak to their shaman leader. Caspian warned the group that these lizardfolk were known servants of a Black Dragon which had moved into the swamp recently, and Zovira decided to go with Kreev to the Shaman's hut.

We move, five meter spread, no sound
The shaman revealed that he had seen a prophecy, which was about Kreev, and if Kreev heeded the old lizardfolk's words, he could leave peacefully.

He told Kreev the island was in grave peril, and the effect of the island could destroy all reptilekind. Dragons, Dragonborn, Kobolds, and Lizardfolk alike were in peril. The shaman said there were already people working against this, and they could be allies.

He also offered wisdom to Zovira: he foresaw that she was looking for a battle against a certain dragonborn. He warned her that if she did so, she would fall.

His final warning was to not trust the Gods, but to find those who would end the danger to reptilekind, and stop such a thing from happening.

The group was allowed to leave peacefully, and finally made it to the coast. They pulled into the small port town of Anesta and immediately met two guardians of the town, a one-armed fighter named Roger and a canny bard named Violet. Roger and Zovira immediately dueled, but Roger's odd one-handed fighting style overtook Zovira's armored defenses. Violet suggested drinks at the Lantern Lounge, and the party immediately took her up on it.

At the lounge, the group met the rest of the guardians of the town. Emma, a painter and monk, challenged Faelynn to an art-off. Everyone agreed Faelynn's sang was the true inspiration, and Emma gave Faelynn an umbrella that allowed her to change clothes in an instant.

Also like this, but more dragons
For the "contests", I adapted the 4e idea of a skill challenge. Basically, the players had to get 5 successes before they got 3 failures. They were required to use a certain ability score (for example, Dexterity for art) but they could use any skill to add their proficiency bonus (which Faelynn took advantage of with her Expertise in performance). Different proficiencies would be easier than others, e.g. making art with Insight was easier than Performance or Persuasion. I think it turned out well, but it definitely needs to be further adapted to include the whole group. One player doing the challenge wasn't as fun.

Meanwhile, Caspian and Kreev got talking to a wise-cracking wizard named William and his wife, a silver-tongued rogue named Ryona. William and Kreev had a contest of jokes, which Kreev handily won, and Ryona challenged Caspian to a contest of lies. Caspian, however, couldn't keep his stories straight, and Ryona quickly called him out on his lies, securing her victory. William gave Kreev a bundle of Snake Sticks (sticks that can turn into snakes) as his winnings, and Ryona gave Caspian a Wand of Fireballs as a consolation prize.

Violet challenged Nerithya to a spell contest, where two magic users recall spells that would beat the last spell their opponent said. Nerithya was just starting her magic training as an Arcane Trickster, so she decided to lie about spells and try to convince Violet certain spells existed. In the end, her deception won over Violet's spell knowledge, and Nerithya won an Elemental Crystal, which could absorb 100 points of elemental damage before shattering.

Meanwhile, Zovira, bitter about losing her duel, challenged Roger to a drinking contest. However, she lost again, and Roger started gloating. It didn't last too long, though, as Nerithya smacked him in the head with a large inflatable hammer she had stolen from a circus performer in Garton.

Sweet Jessamine, good times never seemed so good - a famous sea shanty, according to Caspian
The group set off in the morning, finally boarding the fabled Jessamine. Caspian's ragtag crew poured up from belowdeck in a very coordinated and animated fashion (according to Caspian, he had every crew trained in basic dance numbers) and set the ship to sail. Violet, William, and Ryona came to wish the group off, since Roger had a hangover and Emma was meditating.

The group set off into the notoriously rough waters of the Great Sea. Zovira and Faelynn didn't take to the ship well, disliking the moving boat beneath them. Caspian offered some ginger root to the two, which helped Zovira but not Faelynn. Oddmund also had a lot of trouble, his balance sensors made him fall over every time he tried to stand up. Nerithya eventually ordered him to just sit down instead.

They performed a lot of chores on the ship, and learned more about sailing a large vessel such as the Jessamine. First Mate Bromwell and Second Mate Davenport assigned them to chores, and taught them about how to care for and guide a ship. Caspian manned the helm, guiding the boat away from large waves and potential disasters.

Finally, after a day and a half of travel, the island was in sight. Caspian looked out and saw a ship heading their direction, flying pirate's colors. Kreev, Zovira, and Faelynn also recognized the clan's flag, and informed everyone that this was a ship of clan Delmirev, a blue dragonborn clan of pirates.
They're here to steal your stuff!
Caspian readied his ship's grappling hooks, and as the ship closed in, fired them. Caspian and the adventurers ran across the lines to the enemy ship, even as dozens of pirates swung onto the Jessamine. Bromwell, Oddmund, and the crew defended their ship while the party of heroes attacked the enemy vessel.

Zovira and Nerithya immediately began to murder any pirate that got in their way. Caspian, enraged at the attackers, took a risky move and used his new Wand of Fireballs on the enemy ship. However, it turned out that Ryona had actually given him a Wand of Fire Balls instead, and a group of the pirates were suddenly subjected to a painful and incurable jock itch. Caspian cursed Ryona but seemed to enjoy the wand overall.

Kreev, surrounded by pirates, pulled out his lute and strummed a set of chords that seemed to resonate powerfully across the deck of the ship. He ordered the pirates to give up the fight and leave their ship, and to everyone's surprise, they did! The pirate captain was suddenly left alone with only two remaining crew, who decided to join their companions and jump ship as well.

Faelynn used her Dimension Door spell to get Zovira up to the pirate captain, but he immediately leapt off his ship. However, instead of hitting the water, he grabbed a rope and swung into a lower-deck window. The group was sure he was going to try to destroy his ship while they were on it, and Zovira jumped down after him. However, her heavy armor caused her to slip, miss the window, and fall into the water.

Caspian and Nerithya dashed into the lower decks to find the pirate captain, with Kreev close behind. Fealynn leapt down into the water to save Zovira, who was in danger of drowning as well as being attacked by the now-displaced pirates.

The pirate captain had set fire to some oil barrels belowdeck, and even as Caspian and Nerithya attacked, he turned tail again and leapt into the water with his crew. Caspian and Nerithya tried their best to keep the fire at bay while Kreev summoned a water elemental to douse the flames.

Just give me a minute, this chord progression is complicated...
Meanwhile, Faelynn used another Dimension Door and got herself and Zovira back onto the Jessamine. After spitting up water, they both helped Caspian's crew clean up the remaining pirates.

The rest of the pirate crew was beginning to swim away. Kreev worried that they might tell everyone on the island that he was coming back, and sent his water elemental after them. Nerithya, using her Trident of Fish Command, called for a group of dolphins and a couple sharks to assist. In the end, a massive, epic (and mercifully offscreen) water battle ensued that ended with Kreev's water elemental returning after the pirate crew had been finished off.

Caspian, who was quite close enough to the island for his own comfort, decided to give the ship to the adventurers in exchange for most of the gold that the pirates were carrying. Fortunately, the group had learned enough ship technique to get the rest of the way to the island. Caspian bid the group farewell, setting course southward, to the infamous lost Selenium Isles! Bromwell spoke for the first time, uttering his catchphrase, "Not again..."

The four adventurers brought their ship into the harbor (which really means they gently crashed it into the docks) and disembarked, donning hoods and illusions to stay out of sight. They looked up at the Dragonborn city of Dovuaka.

Dovuaka extended up the hills of the island, a large city known for being the safest place for non-reptiles to stay on the island. The streets were busy and the docks were populated, but the group noticed that they didn't see many non-dragonborn or Copper Dragonborn among the crowds.

Suddenly, a guard patrol marched up to them, lead by a white dragonborn with a massive glaive on his back.

"Hey! No pirates on the docks!"

The Free City of Dovuaka: get yer political turmoil right here!
We stopped there for the session. The white dragonborn is actually Matt's real character for the campaign, Myastan Faerbor. I just needed a character he could play for a single session, and Caspian Atkins fit the bill.

I'm very excited about this campaign. I had a talk with my "Dungeon Mentor" before writing it, and I got some good advice that really is going to help shape the story in a better direction. If you have the chance, I highly recommend playing some games under a more experienced DM and then picking their brain for advice on your own campaigns. It's incredibly helpful, especially when they aren't in your game and can give objective help.

Not sure when our next session of this campaign will be, but stay tuned next week for more Maze of the Blue Medusa, and possibly more Storm King's Thunder.

Thanks for reading!

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