Monday, October 9, 2017

Monday Recap: Swamp Showdown
Will I ever run out of art for Kreev? The world may never know...
We managed to get a game of Dragonborn Quest in this weekend! Unfortunately it's going to be one of the few games I actually run this month. I did get an opportunity to play in a game as well this weekend, which may or may not be the subject of next week's recap. We'll see.

This story is part 6 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: Swamp Showdown

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), Cheskapen the mysterious monk (???), Dalyassa (Kreev's half-sister, recently rescued)

When we last left our heroes, the group had rescued Kreev's half-sister from near-certain death at the hands of the Black Dragonborn clan of Yarjerit. They decided to travel to the swamps of the lizardfolk, on the request of a slave they met in Gravengong, to see if the tribes could be of any assistance.

One evening after traveling, their companion Nazavur announced he was leaving the group. Not five minutes after his departure, a new figure entered their campsite, calling himself Cheskapen. He appeared to be from the Black Dragonborn clan Kepeshmolik, and the party drew weapons and demanded to know what he was doing.

Cheskapen said he was a monastic follower of Bahamut, the Platinum Dragon God of Justice. He was on a mission to find out more about Z'ildroth Salothzar, the tyrannical ruler of the new Dragonborn regime, and to destroy him. The group agreed this was a good thing, but demanded more information on his motives.
Like he'd tell you
Cheskapen said plainly that he was not who he appeared, and if he told them more they wouldn't be able to trust him. Faelynn wryly commented that they already didn't trust him, so he had nothing to lose. Still, the mysterious dragonborn kept his mouth shut.

The party reluctantly allowed him to join the group, making sure to keep an eye on him. Tofras, also a follower of Bahamut, tried his best to speak to the monk, but ended up having mostly one-sided conversations.

The party ventured deeper into the jungle, and eventually the overgrown soil gave way to swampy muck. Thick foliage clouded the light from the sky, and overgrown trees surrounded them like pillars. They walked single file, lead by Zovira. She had explored the whole island in her life, and did her best to lead the group towards the areas of the swamp controlled by Lizardfolk.

As they walked along the side of a pool, two tentacles snaked out of the water and grabbed Torrin and Dalyassa! The pair were dragged under the murky depths, and the group hurried to rescue them!

Nerithya quickly used her Trident of Fish Command to force the creature to let go of its victims, just as another one of the monsters exploded out of the surface of the water. The group had stumbled onto a pack of Froghemoths, which seemed intent on making them their next meal.

Despite being surprised, the group fought back with great ferocity. Tofras cast a Water Walk spell, allowing the group to avoid drowning. Ariann and Oddmund didn't fare so well, however, and were swallowed by a pair of the monsters. Faelynn and Nerithya rushed to their aid, while Zovira and Faerbor threw their all into the other two Froghemoths. Torrin managed to hit one with a crossbow bolt, and cheered for himself!

Kreev locked one of the monsters down with a Curse spell, while Nerithya forced her dominated Froghemoth to attack its ally. Their numbers diminished, the beasts fell one by one. Oddmund and Ariann were safe, but a bit sticky, having been vomited up by the recently-deceased monsters.

The group took a short rest to heal their injuries, and carried on their journey. It was already evening when they started seeing Lizardfolk sentries in the branches around them, watching their movement. Kreev held up the stone he had received in Gravengong, and one of the sentries motioned them through.
The Lizardfolk village was a series of thatched-roof huts suspended on stilts, connected by wooden walkways or paths formed by large roots. The village was busy, full of Lizardfolk wearing traditional garb and some wearing heavy cloaks. Faelynn and Faerbor, both used to colder climates, wondered how they could stand being in the hot and humid swamp in such heavy clothing.

The group was lead by a lizardfolk warrior to the hut of their Shamaness, Ba. Only Kreev and Zovira could enter the cramped hut, so everyone else waited outside, crowded around the entrance to hear.

Kreev presented the stone he had received in Gravengong, and Ba took it, thanking him for returning it. She said Kreev's coming to the swamp had been forseen, and she would help the group. Ba had powerful prophetic powers, and would call upon her God, Semuanya, to see what the group's next step should be.

Just then, one of the heavily-cloaked figures pushed past the group and burst into the hut. The cloak was pulled back, and the figure was revealed to be an old female Copper Dragonborn, a clan who had been hunted into hiding on the island!

The old woman asked the Shamaness for assistance with a birth happening elsewhere in the village, but Ba was already preparing to enter her trance. The group immediately had a lot of questions for this out-of-place Dragonborn, so they offered to help instead.

They were brought to a cleared-out area on the ground, surrounded by curtains of moss and vines. Ariann, Faelynn, and Dalyassa went into the Hatchery, while Tofras stood guard and Zovira tried to politely explain to Torrin what was going on. After a couple hours of difficult work, the trio of woman (and the old Copper Dragonborn lady) had brought a full clutch of copper-hued eggs forth into the world.

The old woman introduced herself as Yapora. She told the group that the Copper Dragonborn had taken refuge here in the swamps, despite it not being the best place to raise the future of their clan, Drachedandion. For more information, they would have to speak to the clan's leader, Drachedandion Aqorel.
The group had trouble wrapping their heads around a character not optimized for combat
Aqorel's hut was much larger and well-kept than the lizardfolk's, reflecting her clan's former position as politicians and orators within the free city of Dovuaka. Aqorel herself, though, was quite young - far younger than any of the clan elders they had met on their journey so far. The Copper Dragonborn explained that she had taken over the clan after her mother, Qibireth, had been killed by Z'ildroth Favnir and his Blackwing squads.

Aqorel recognized Kreev and Zovira, and asked them for their story. Kreev told her what they had done up to this point, and their plan for redistributing power in the island to a council of Dragonborn made up of each color. Aqorel seemed hesitant, implying that the plan wouldn't work the way they wanted it to.

When pressed, she revealed that she and her clan had been building boats to escape the island. They didn't see a future here, and were going to leave within the next month.

Kreev knew that the Drachedandion clan would be invaluable in rebuilding a political system, and without the Copper clans, the eventual council would be incomplete. He asked her to stay as long as she could, hoping they could get rid of clan Z'ildroth quickly. Aqorel agreed to wait one month for Kreev to put a stop to Z'ildroth's plans.

Meanwhile, Cheskapen had disappeared, and the group decided to split up and look for him. Nerithya summoned a Goblin friend using a magic skull she had received, and sent "Gobs" to look as well.

Kreev, realizing that the Copper Dragonborn might be in danger since his group likely left a trail right to the village, cast a Forbiddance spell over the Shamaness's hut and the clutch of eggs, then posted a contingent of the group as guards for Aqorel's house.

Faelynn and her patrol finally stumbled across the missing monk. Cheskapen had left to find a quiet spot to meditate and scry for danger. Faelynn admonished him, and he replied that he had not been used to traveling with companions, and hadn't thought to tell anyone he had left.

Meanwhile, Gobs came back as well, crying because the Black Dragonborn he was looking for had hit him. Nerithya thought that sounded weird, and questioned him further. Gobs said the Dragonborn had been wearing armor and had friends with him.

Nerithya immediately ran off to warn everyone: Favnir had tracked them down and was closing in on the village. Kreev coordinated defenses: He and Faerbor would guard the Shamaness, along with a squad of Lizardfolk warriors and his fire elemental friend, Scoria.

Meanwhile, Nerithya would lead a Copper Dragonborn patrol, Oddmund, Gobs, Cheskapen, and Tofras in defending the eggs in the Hatchery. Finally, Zovira, Faelynn, Dalyassa, and Ariann would defend Aqorel. The groups got into position, Ariann summoning her own ally, an Air Elemental.

Faelynn and Nerithya decided to scout out Favnir's position. Faelynn cast Invisibility on the pair, and they snuck out together. They found Favnir, a green Dragonborn wearing nearly nothing but straps and blades, and the four Froghemoths from before, all travelling together. The Froghemoths were submerged underwater, and Nerithya tried taking control of it with her Trident. However, not only did it not respond, but the creature didn't seem concerned about the attempt.

The two invisible adventurers hurried back to the village. Kreev and Zovira discussed if it would be better to cut off Favnir outside the village, but the area was too open. It would be easier to guard the three points of interest than risk him evading their attack.
Here we go...
Finally, Favnir appeared. His companion, the green dragonborn, said that she had gotten him to the target, and was going to take her leave. Nerithya noticed that she also had a pendant around her neck, very similar to the one they had gotten from Perfyire. That meant she must be the green clan elder, Norixius Somelia.

Favnir laughed, and strode towards Aqorel's hut. At the same time, the Froghemoths exploded out of the swamp and attacked the Shamaness' hut and the Hatchery. They were the same Froghemoths from before, now undead, presumably thanks to Favnir's magic.

Ariann and Faelynn unleashed torrents of magic on Favnir, who advanced unflinchingly. His companion, nimble as a grasshopper, leapt out of the way of the blasts. Zovira and the Air Elemental rushed forward to meet their foe in combat, while Dalyassa and Aqorel fired off shots from the rear.

The Froghemoths stepped towards their targets and their undead flesh began to burn: Forbiddance was slowly searing their essence away. Faerbor and Nerithya rushed forward towards their respective enemies, and the beasts began to fall.

At that moment, Favnir unleashed a horrific blast of hellfire, heavily damaging the central group and causing Ariann to drop. The Air Elemental that had been under her control howled in fury and turned back towards the group. At that moment, the green dragonborn decided she had seen enough, and dashed away.

Zovira tore into Favnir, her Sunblade searing his undead flesh. He barely slowed down as he responded in kind, unleashing several devastating blows and a wave of destructive energy that threatened to take down Dalyassa. Fortunately, Aqorel was able to heal Ariann and Dalyassa, bringing them back into the fight.

Kreev managed to turn one of the Froghemoths into a spider, making it quick work to finish off the other. However, the lizardfolk patrol attacked the spider, forcing it to change back to its original form. However, with one monster dead, Kreev and Scoria were able to handle the other while Faerbor raced towards Aqorel's hut to provide backup.

Near the Hatchery, the Copper Dragonborn patrol unleashed their breath weapons on one of the Froghemoths, causing it to roar in pain. Oddmund got swallowed again, but this time Nerithya was quick to cut him out of the creature's belly. Cheskapen was swallowed as well, but managed to punch the creature from the inside so powerfully that it fell over. Gobs ran up and kicked it to death, but in the process died himself as the creature rolled on top of him. Satisfied, the group began to run towards the central hut as well.

The Air Elemental was on a rampage, and created a gale-force whirlwind in the middle of the party. Ariann was thrown against the wall of the hut, and landed with a sickening crunch. Faelynn was more fortunate, landing on soft dirt, but no less injured by the force.

Meanwhile, Favnir, having shaken off several debilitating spell thrown his way, managed to bring Zovira down to her last legs. She lay on the ground, barely able to defend herself, ready to accept an honorable death. However, Favnir simply ignored her, striding past and into the hut.

Aqorel was pressed against the back wall of the hut, and without a sound, he decapitated her with his Sword of Sharpness. He then turned around, and, despite having taken massive damage from the dozens of attacks by magic and lightblade, said "Now for the rest of you."

Zovira pulled herself to her feet, her pride and honor broken, prepared to claim them back. However, Faerbor rushed up and finally reached the hut, shooting a volley of Magic Missiles into the Death Knight's chest. Then, another volley. Dalyassa followed it up with a round of arrows, but by now the Z'ildroth monstrosity was no longer moving. He simply stood there.

Zovira, enraged at the cowardice of her opponent, killed the Air Elemental in a single slice. Kreev finally made it to the central hut, and placed the Death Knight's corpse in a Forcecage before burning it away with Forbiddance.

The group was silent and somber as Yapora collected Aqorel's remains. Tofras used Revivify to save Ariann's life, but there was nothing he could do for Aqorel.

Yapora told the group that she would honor Aqorel's agreement: the Copper Dragonborn would stay for one month in hopes that clan Z'ildroth would be defeated, then they would leave by boat. Since they weren't going to be fighting any longer, she insisted the party take the Drachedandion clan artifact.

It was a magic rapier that called out to Faelynn. It bore the name "Answerer", and it could communicate with its wielder via simple emotions. Faelynn felt a connection to the sword, which Yapora told her shared many of the same values she did. It was the first sentient weapon the group had come across, and it seemed to prefer the hands of another metallic Dragonborn, like it's own clan.
Not happy
Zovira bitterly collected her old Sword of Sharpness from Favnir's ashes. The blade had turned black, and she felt pain about using the corrupted blade. However, she took it anyway, bequeathing her lightblade to Kreev.

The next morning, the group met with Shamaness Ba, who had found much information from her divination.

Z'ildroth Salothzar had gone on a pilgrimage to distant lands, based on his studies of ancient texts and ruins on the island. When he returned, he was bearing some object that prevented anyone from scrying upon him, even now. However, based on information other creatures had learned, he was using the object to gain unholy power, growing in size and strength. The heroes confirmed this was what they knew so far.

Ba told them that Salothzar had taken a special interest in Mt. Draco, upon which sat a long-abandoned tower. Inside where many books and magic items she didn't understand, but it was here that would provide the answers that could help the group understand what Salothzar sought.

Kreev told Ba that they had so far avoided Mt. Draco because of the legends of an Ancient Dragon that lived upon it. Ba responded that the dragon had left the mountain, and was travelling the island disguised as a Silver Dragonborn monk.

Faelynn immediately remembered that they had already met the monk in their travels! Nerithya had traded rocks with the strange monk while they had travelled to Gravengong.

The group decided to head up to Mt. Draco. However, Dalyassa and Ariann elected to stay with clan Drachedandion. Dalyassa wasn't much for fighting and cared more about her clan's survival than the island's, and Ariann had brushed a bit too close to death for her liking.

Satisfied, the party left the swamps, heading towards Mt. Draco, looming in the distance.

Sometimes you just find the perfect image
I felt the session went fairly well! I am finally getting comfortable making these epic-level combats that can feel scary and have a lot of impact. The problem, I think, is that the game ends up revolving around combat. Afterwards, the players felt there wasn't much story between the two battles, even though combat vs story was about 60%/40%.

Some of that comes from the players, since if people want to play a fun and fanciful game then there's not much I can do about it. But I can also push to invest people in the story further. I need more hooks, more mysteries, and more actionable plot!

Just because I've got the basics of running a game down, doesn't mean I can't improve my storytelling!

Thanks for reading!

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