Monday, June 12, 2017

Monday Recap: The Road to Gravengong
Over the misty mountains green...
We're back! Dragonborn Quest has returned, finally. Taking a month off of a monthly game is pretty rough, so this game lacked the massive political web that I created last time. Instead, they just wandered through the wilderness.

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

Dragonborn Quest: Dragon Politics

Cast of Characters
Jon: Dungeon Master
Will: Daardendrian Kreev, Red Dragonborn Bard, former prince, back to set things right
Megan: Daardendrian Zovira, Red Dragonborn Fighter, Kreev's aunt, champion of the clan
Bria: Druuga Faelynn, Silver Dragonborn Bard, avenged her sister, now to fix the isle...
Michelle: Nerithya Finzerwin, Half-Drow Rogue, ex-cultist looking for a new purpose to her life
Matt: Myastan Faerbor, White Dragonborn Fighter, Kreev's friend and owner of the legendary Axe of the Elders
NPC: Svihios 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
Other traveling companions: Tofras the Smiter (War Priest of Bahamut), Ariann the Wizardess (Faelynn's friend), Nazavur the Assassin (clanless and edgy)

The group had just finished gathering support in the Free Dragonborn City of Dovuaka, and with the council elections finished, they set out on the path towards the southern cities of the Isle of Z'ildroth. Their goal was to reach Gravengong and deal a blow to the Black Dragonborn slave market, hamstringing the Chromatic clans and forcing them to negotiate.

The group decided to take the standard paths towards Gravengong, as opposed to skirting around the coast or cutting through the jungle. They knew that they would encounter more travelers and danger this direction, so Kreev and Zovira took efforts to disguise themselves from immediate recognition.

Not long after they had set out, they came across a band of Green Dragonborn. After a brief scuffle, they interrogated those they had captured, learning that the Green clan was trying to transport a cursed club away from the island. Apparently, a Kobold had tried to get it to curse a Dragonborn. The group decided to allow their captives to leave.

The next day, Zovira came across a wandering Silver Dragonborn monk, who introduced herself as Chevnyl. She seemed to be fairly scatterbrained, more interested in looking at rocks than talking. She wasn't aware that the former Red Dragonborn King, Daardendrian Rhoyax, had been dethroned by Z'ildroth Salothzar, leader of clan Z'ildroth. Faelynn was immediately suspicious of the monk, but Nerithya liked her and they traded rocks.
Nice rocks!
The party ran into more Green Dragonborn, but these weren't simple couriers or game hunters. They were assassins from clan Norixius. Faerbor approached them, speaking calmly and being friendly, until he realized they were out hunting for Copper Dragonborn who had escaped Dovuaka. Then, the entire group ganged up on them and attacked! This time, they decided to not leave any survivors.

It was a few days into the journey before the group came across their first Blackwing patrol. Salothzar's goons were approaching the opposite way up the path, and the group set up an extremely successful ambush. Kreev animated some vines and restrained their captain, while the other Blackwings were finished off by the rest of the group.

Faelynn, who was well-versed in the art of interrogation, went to work on the squad's captain. The Black Dragonborn soldier was helpless before Faelynn's intimidating presence, and he spilled everything he knew. He told them Salothzar was taxing the Isle's merchants to amass a huge amount of gold. However, nobody except those closest to him knew why.

They also learned that clan Z'ildroth's champion, Z'ildroth Favnir, was personally behind the Copper Dragonborn hunts and massacres. They had recently had a close encounter with Favnir, which had ended with him gaining some sort of unholy power and Zovira losing her favorite sword. Apparently, as soon as Favnir had heard about the election of the Council of Dovuaka, he had started to make his way towards the city to put an end to it.

Zovira, after hearing the captain claim he didn't have anything else to say, beheaded him immediately. One of the other Blackwings began crying with relief, happy that he would be killed quickly instead of being interrogated by Faelynn. Faelynn responded by killing him herself. Somehow, young Torrin wasn't traumatized by this.

The middle leg of the journey was marked by Torrin catching lizards for dinner, meeting various travellers along the road, and fending off Green Dragonborn hunters. The group enjoyed exploring the wildlife and the various folks they encountered. They passed by some Dragonborn librarians who were happy to see Chromatic and Metallic Dragonborn getting along, and quite a few traders looking for wares or someone to share a fire with.

The most memorable group they came across, however, was a band of Green Dragonborn wanderers. They were hermits of clan Xukei, a philosophical bunch who had an extremely negative outlook on life. They asked Nerithya if she had any difficulties in life, and she told them how all of her old friends had either left or been killed, and she was looking for a way to feel less alone. They commiserated, claiming the only true state of any being was alone.

After refusing a breakfast of Faerbor's homemade waffles (and eating gruel and rocks instead!), the Xukei took their leave of the group. The adventurers were confused, but afterwards had some good laughs at the strange hermits.
Faerbor: master waffle maker, hates the hot weather
As the group drew closer to Gravengong, they began to come across more Blackwing patrols. Fortunately, the patrols were relatively small, and the adventurers were strong. Kreev used Mass Suggestion on one, and Ariann cast Evard's Black Tentacles on another group to keep them from fleeing from Faelynn's Fireball spell. And after each successful capture, Faelynn got more information for the group.
They learned Salothzar had shut down the Temple of Tiamat, an odd move for the Chromatic leader. He had also been sending Blackwing patrols up Mt. Draco, where a powerful dragon supposedly lives. However, none of them had returned, and nobody knew why they were still being sent up. Because of these and other factors, not all the Chromatic clans supported Salothzar. In particular, the more philosophical clans, the Xukei and the Punidail (a white Dragonborn clan), thought Salothzar's actions were short-sighted and destructive.

They also started to learn things about Gravengong, the mining city that served as the hub of the Black Dragonborn clan's slave trade. Clan Yarjerit, the second-largest Black clan, ran the place, keeping the Kobold and Lizardfolk slaves in line. Their champion, Baldaar, was a formidable fighter with a whip containing demonic power. Zovira was eager to fight him and test his mettle.

The group passed within sight of Castle Z'ildroth, formerly Castle Daardendrian. They knew they would have to retake it someday, but for now the adventurers moved past it, avoiding confrontation.
They are literally everywhere on the island.
After fighting a few more Green Dragonborn assassin gangs, they finally arrived at the city of Gravengong. The city's central fortress loomed over village-like groups of barracks and slave pens, teeming with slavers and slaves alike. To the north, a cliff face reached out of the earth, riddled with entrances to the mines that supplied the Isle's main source of wealth.

The group decided that they wanted to learn more information about the city and its patrols before they made their assault. They began to explore the jungles around the city, allowing Torrin to make secret marks to help them know the area much better.

They avoided being seen by random travelers, and fended off Green Dragonborn hunters and Lizardfolk. They were surprised to see an ancient Behir, Moudan the Scale Eater, slithering through the jungle, but fortunately, he wasn't interested in fighting them. The group was quite relieved.

After a few days of hiding out in the forest, they finally found a couple more Blackwing patrols to interrogate. They learned more about what Favnir had been up to since their last encounter: he had returned to Dovuaka and killed the Council Chair, Kimbatuul Quilmeila. He had replaced her with a Black Dragonborn council member, the first Chromatic Dragonborn ever on the council.

Additionally, Favnir's unholy transformation in their last encounter was no simple zombification. Favnir now possessed the powers of a Death Knight in service to Salothzar. His strength had only increased thanks to his servitude.

They also learned the vital information about Gravengong they needed. The city was dealing with a faction of Kobolds called the Duulo, who had been revolting against clan Yarjerit. Their leader, Guks, was hidden among the slaves.

Unfortunately, the last thing they learned that Kreev's mother, Daardendrian Shreeva, wasn't in Gravengong. She and her clan were being worked in a new quarry closer to the city of Palaga, under the watchful eye of Castle Z'ildroth. If Kreev was going to find and free his mother, he would have to weaken Z'ildroth's hold on Palaga first.

Fully rested and prepared to start their attack on Gravengong, the group set out to incite a slave revolution and cripple the Black clan's hold on the island!

Favnir: a battle for another time...
This game was entirely built off of a system I came up with where the players drew random cards to determine what they encountered. It was actually pretty cool, except I vastly understocked the deck with Blackwing encounters, so the players ended up wandering around longer than expected to find all the lore.

We talked about it afterwards, and despite the system having a lot of streamlining needed, they liked the mix of random encounters, benign interactions, and environmental features. It helped that the players got to relay how they fit into the situation, as well.

I think I'd use this system again, but definitely weighting the encounters more towards the player's goals. I'm not sure when I'll get the chance, since the next game (whenever that will be) is going to be the attack/revolution in Gravengong.

Thanks for reading!

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