Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday Recap: Sojourn at The Saffron

Let's roll!
We had a chance to play Dragonborn Quest again this weekend! I'm very happy with the way this campaign has been progressing. The players tell me that this was one of their favorite sessions of the entire campaign, which is great because I'm hoping to wrap this quest up in the next couple months.

Of course, that means things are going to get a little more dangerous. So, it was nice to have a session where the players got together and pulled off a good old-fashioned casino heist!

This story is part 8 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: Sojourn at the Saffron

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, currently going through the Trial of Humility
NPC: Oddmund, Nerithya's Shield Guardian, has a smiling face painted on his head

When we last left our heroes, they had just returned from the legendary Mt. Draco, where they had met the Ancient Silver Dragon Chevnyl and learned about the history of the island and the Dragonborn themselves. However, at the last moment, their traveling companion Cheskapen (who turned out to be a Couatl in disguise) stole away their ward, the Gold Dragonborn Torrin, and the War Priest of Bahamut Tofras. He convinced Chevnyl to turn against them, and only through Faelynn's Teleport spell were they able to escape. They returned to Dovuaka, the Free City of Dragonborn, inside the walls of the Prisma School run by Faelynn's clan.

The group had also learned that their hated Death knight enemy, Z'ildroth Favnir, would be returning from the grave some time within the next week. He would return at the location of his death, which was right in the middle of the Dovuaka City Council chambers. Knowing they didn't have much time, the group got to work formulating a plan.

Zovira, Faerbor, and Oddmund formed the strike team, armed with scrolls of Fireball crafted by Faelynn and Faerbor in the Prisma archives earlier that day. Their goal was to cause a big distraction at a Z'ildroth diplomat's home, clearing a path for the others to sneak into the Dovuaka Council chamber. However, they were caught by Blackwing guards and forced to detonate their scrolls early. Using the fiery distraction, they slipped off into the night, back towards Prisma. Zovira was sure they had seen her face, though.

At the Council chambers, Kreev, Faelynn, and Nerithya saw several of the posted guards leave to check out the explosions. With the help of Invisibility spells, they snuck in and set up their plan: a Glyph of Warding that would cast Forbiddance and destroy Favnir when he returned. While Faelynn and Nerithya kept watch, Kreev began the hour-long process of casting the Glyph.

He was nearly finished when the guards returned, and one decided to inspect the Council chamber. Nerithya silently killed him, but in doing so came face to face with the patrol of guards behind him. The alarm was sounded, and using the door as a chokepoint, Faelynn and Nerithya held back the wave of oncoming Blackwing soldiers. Faelynn's disguise couldn't hold up, and she was sure the Blackwings recognized her clan. The School was in danger!

As Kreev finished casting the spell, Faelynn teleported the three of them back to Prisma School, where Zovira was waiting for them. She had returned a short time ago, and with the help of Druuga Belgar, the clan leader, had sounded an evacuation. The School had prepared tunnels in case of this event, and the party rushed down them. As they did, they could hear the pounding of Blackwing spears on the doors to the now-empty School.

They met back up with the Druuga clan in their hidden forest base, and collapsed in exhaustion.
As was foretold in a prophecy that already happened
That night, they all had a similar dream. They watched as an event from long ago played out: the fall of the wizard Avubafarihm (I learned how to pronounce this mid-session: Avooba-far-heem). His draconian soldiers were no match for the paladin Arrakas, who slew the wizard, as the party knew from Chevnyl's histories.

But then something different happened. The paladin Arrakas turned into Cheskapen, and he grabbed the Sun Amulet from Avubafarihm. He turned to a small Gold Draconian child, who now looked like Torrin, and pressed the Sun Amulet to the child's chest. Torrin screamed and disintegrated, as did all the other Draconians.

The dream ended for everyone but Kreev, who, before he woke, saw a pure white dragon flying down towards the mountain. It mouthed words he couldn't hear.

The party woke up all together, and compared their dreams. They discussed what the dream could mean, but ultimately decided the dream didn't have much impact on their current plans.

Their current plan was based on a set of Portal Keys they had obtained from high-ranking Chromatic Dragonborn around the island. These small amulets could turn elemental portals into passageways that lead inside Castle Z'ildroth. With three of them, they could bypass the entire city of Palaga and the outer defenses of the castle. They wanted to find a third one, and they had a target in mind: The Saffron, a grand casino run by Shestendeliath Zragrax, a Blue Dragonborn who controlled much of the underhanded dealings in Palaga.

With the help of Faelynn's mother and the costuming department of clan Druuga, they prepared fancy clothes for their casino heist that could still conceal their weaponry. Faerbor and Zovira, in heavy armor, would act as the "guards" to Nerithya, who had perfected her story about being a polymorphed Dragon here for a visit. Faelynn would be her minstrel, and Kreev would be her consigliere. Oddmund, dressed up in a top hat and tails, would be the silent retainer. Kreev also prepared disguises for the group, making Faelynn, Zovira, and Faerbor appear to be normal Dragonborn. He himself donned his Hat of Disguise.

The night was falling as they finished up, and Faelynn teleported the group to the front entrance of The Saffron. Well-to-do Dragonborn nobles were arriving via carriages, and the sudden appearance of a group of people left some of them surprised. However, soon afterwards, a couple of Dragonborn wizards popped into view as well, so they weren't particularly out of place.

They entered the grand casino lobby, resplendent with marble floors and columns, ferns and vines decorating the walls, and a massive golden statue of Shestendeliath Zragrax himself in the middle of the room. While Nerithya surreptitiously lifted some gold from the pockets of finely-dressed Dragonborn, Kreev obtained 1500GP worth of wooden tokens marked with The Saffron's name and sigil.

They entered the main gaming floor and wandered for a bit, stopping at a table of very well-dressed Dragonborn. Nerithya played the consummate noble, holding her cards and whispering nonsense words into Kreev's ear while he played the game. Kreev bet strong and pushed hard, and ended winning 7000GP in tokens. He asked where an even higher-rolling table might be found, and they were lead to a glass-walled room overlooking the casino floor.
Dashing blue dragonborn, and rich too!
There, among plush couches and wild plants, sat Shestendeliath Zragrax himself, wrapped in fine robes. He offered Nerithya a spot at his personal gambling table, but the party declined for now. Zragrax offered them a small identification charm that they could use to get back to this area once they were ready to play in the real big leagues.

The party retreated and began to formulate a plan. They suspected that Zragrax had the Portal Key on his necklace, and there was likely an elemental portal somewhere in the casino's basement. The problem was, they could only see one way down to the basement: through Zragrax's room. It didn't help that the place was crawling with Blackwing Elite guards.

Suddenly, the entire casino shook slightly, causing glasses to clink and piles of tokens to fall over. A hush fell over the floor for a moment, but then the crowd relaxed again. The party wasn't sure what was happening, but they watched as Zragrax grabbed two Blackwings and headed downstairs. The way was clear!

Zovira, Faerbor, and Oddmund stood watch while Kreev cashed out their chips. Faelynn and Nerithya went ahead to scope out the basement and report back. Along the way, Nerithya looted Zragrax's safe, and found a magic ring of Water Elemental Command! They moved towards the stairs that Zragrax had just gone down. They were only a few steps down when they suddenly began choking and vomiting - their lungs were filling up with seawater!

Realizing it was a trap, they retreated back up the stairs and started looking for some sort of magical mechanism. Faelynn discovered a drawer full of identification charms they could use to bypass the trap, and grabbed enough for the entire party. They headed downstairs and found a large area with an abandoned card game, and the vault door. Nerithya saw that the vault couldn't be opened without a particular charm - likely something Zragrax would carry.

They returned to the party, and everyone went down into the basement. As they did so, another tremor shook the building. This time, they could hear the pounding of feet and screams from above, likely meaning the casino had been emptied of its patrons. The group found an elevator leading down to a dock area in a cliffside, and took it down.

(While this rumbling and shaking was playing out, the players kept guessing that someone was already performing a heist on the casino, since they had all seen Ocean's Thirteen. On the way down, Kreev's player asked me if it could possibly a famous Dragon Turtle from the island, Audon Hullbane, or Old Chompy. But we reminded him that Old Chompy's stomping grounds were on the North side of the island, not the South. It couldn't possibly be...)

When they reached the docks level, they were met with a terrifying sight. Audon Hullbane, a massive, ancient Dragon Turtle, was ramming the walls of the docks and obliterating the dock workers and Blackwings that were fighting her. The Shestendeliath champion, Yorjurn the Taskmaster, was directing the attack, while Zragrax was shouting encouragement from behind.
Nailed it
They also saw many different storage units, including one that contained dozens of aquariums filled with aquatic animals. Kreev and Zovira made towards the animals, while Nerithya crept up and stole Zragrax's necklace. Faerbor, responding to the call of his Axe of the Elders, joined in the attack on the Dragon Turtle, while Faelynn started casting spells and "missing" Old Chompy (and hitting Blackwings).

As Kreev and Zovira arrived at the tanks, they saw a large aquarium with a baby Dragon Turtle inside it. Suddenly the attack made sense! Zovira smashed through the glass of the tank, and Kreev polymorphed the carriage-sized beast into a tiny rat. He had a plan!

Meanwhile, Nerithya and Zragrax made their way back to the elevator and hurried to head up and out of danger. She continued to play the part of innocent casino patron, just a bit lost, is all. Faelynn saw a strange figure drop from the sky into the water outside the cavern docks - she recognized him as her father, Druuga Ravodaar, who had abandoned her as a child to go adventuring.

Zovira took a running start and flung the rat as far towards the water as she could. Kreev released his polymorph spell mid-flight, causing the creature to change back into a Dragon Turtle before it hit the water. It just barely missed Ravodaar, much to Faelynn's disappointment. Sighing, she leapt into the water and swam out to save the drowning adventurer.

Meanwhile, Nerithya and Zragrax got on the elevator and began lifting to safety. It was then Nerithya pulled her rapier and threatened to kill Zragrax unless he told her everything. He sobbed, told her that the elemental portal was located in the vault, and his key could open the vault. Satisfied, she killed him and kicked his body off of the platform.

Old Chompy, finally seeing her child returned, shook her attackers off and retreated back into the water. She thanked the party in a massive, deep voice, and Zovira bowed low. With the threat of the Dragon Turtle gone, the Blackwings turned to fight those who had intruded - and now that Faelynn's disguise had washed off, they had a good idea who the party actually was.

Fortunately, Kreev had Feebleminded the clan champion, and they mopped up the rest fairly quickly. Nerithya cast Invisibility, allowing her to hide from the reinforcements and let them on the elevator. She then cut the chains holding up the platform, and they tumbled to their deaths.

With a moment to breathe, Faelynn confronted her father. It turned out he was on the casino balcony, and had been trying to steal tokens in the confusion upstairs. Kreev, who had grown up hearing tales of Ravodaar's more heroic exploits, was deeply disappointed. Faelynn thought it was about par for the course.

Suddenly, Faerbor collapsed. Since he had slain the clan champion of Shestendelioth, his Axe of the Elders had decided to allow him to take on the next stage of his trials. He regained his skill with weapons and magic, but his strength was reduced to that of a normal humanoid. Suddenly, he couldn't wear his plate armor or wield his heavy weapons.

The group loaded his armor and glaive into their Bag of Holding, and found him a set of leather armor to wear in the meantime. He would be much less useful in combat until he could defeat another worthy opponent.

The group traveled up the elevator and to the vault, finding a large portal to the plane of elemental water, and Nerithya already there and filling her own Bag of Holding with a mountain of gold coins. As they entered the room, a golden statue (like the one in the lobby) came to life and raised a rapier at them. It asked Nerithya if these intruders were allowed into the vault.
Sometimes you come up with something before you find art and it's hard to find art for it but then you do and it's awesome
She said yes at first, but Faerbor's axe called to him again. The statue would be a worthy foe, and complete this new trial! The group decided to go ahead and take on the monster, despite being somewhat beaten up.

They all dogpiled the golem, making sure Faerbor got his hit in. As they did so, it activated, turning its sword on the group. The gold in the vault's store also sprung to life, an enchantment on it causing it to rise up into a whirlwind of flying coins.

The party demolished the golden statue, Zovira scoring several strong hits with her new sword Darkness. Meanwhile, Kreev summoned his Fire Elemental friend Scoria, who blasted flames at the coins flying through the air.

Once the gold statue had been defeated, though, Nerithya ordered the coins to retreat. They obeyed her, since she was wearing Zragrax's amulet. The group watched as Faerbor's strength returned, but his skin was rimmed with frost. The final trial, the Trial of Ice, had begun. He had to stay focused and aware, or he would be consumed by ice and become a frozen statue.

The party needed a rest badly, and realized that the vault was probably the safest place in the casino. They closed the door and set up their beds.

In the morning, they used a spell scroll to inscribe a Teleportation Circle in the vault, and Faelynn teleported them back to the Druuga secret base. Not wanting to waste any time while Faerbor was turning to ice, they immediately had Faelynn teleport them back into the vault, after dropping off their spoils and Ravodaar.

They reappeared in the vault, and, using the Portal Keys, stepped through the elemental portal.

They appeared in the front hall of Castle Z'ildroth, where familiar architecture had been changed to depict Black Dragons. Kreev and Zovira had finally returned home.
Salothzar, I'm hoooome!
We stopped there for the night. I'm excited! I expect Castle Z'ildroth will take a couple sessions to get through, and it will be a great place to reveal the rest of the lore I'm putting into the quest. Even now, there are still mysteries to resolve!

Thanks for reading!

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