Campaign Diary #9: Enter the Dragon…

The following is one of my Campaign Diaries, where I recap the latest game of Dungeons and Dragons that my friends and I play. Click here for the Campaign Diaries in order, click here for a “Who’s who” style summary, and click here for a Dungeons and Dragons introduction post!

The Diary

The Descent.

After the party defeated the demon Krampus, they checked out what else was in the strange green sack that the beast had trapped the boys Carp and Henry. Naoise was the smallest, so they lowered her into it. After she got inside, all she could see was a 4-foot room lined with cloth. It turned out that the bag was a Bag of Holding, and there were some other items inside. Naoise clambered out and Gryff turned the bag upside down, spilling out thousands of gold and silver coins.

“We should get back. Although the blizzard has died down the children are still cold,” said Lana of Parilla. She was hugging her son Henry as well as the halfling boy Carp. Both boys looked scared and cold, but somehow relieved at the same time.

“Of course, you’re right. We should go back to Phandalin. Qelline will be eager to know her son is alive and well.” agreed Reynarín. The group gathered up the coins and threw them back into the sack, and began the descent.

Lana of Parilla

Over the next few hours, Lana told the group her own story. She grew up in a small village far south from Phandalin, known as Parilla. “It was a simple farming village. Everyone was a farmer, except the miller, my father.” When she was 6 years old a goblin tribe led by a bugbear attacked the village.

“When the bugbear raised it’s club to smash attack my father I screamed. I held my hands out in front of me and then… Fire jetted out from my fingertips. Magic. I had magic and I never knew it.”

Lana saved her village that day and continued to protect it until very recently. She met a man who was a nomadic warrior and married him. He had to go north to his homelands near Phandalin, so Lana, her husband Blasio and their son Henry made their way north.

“That was when we were attacked by the Krampus and it’s minions. We tried to fend it off but… Blasio was badly hurt.”

“Daddy? Is Daddy okay?” Henry piped up.

“Yes sweetie he’s fine he- Oh my god.”

The party followed Lana’s eyeline and saw Phandalin in the dawn light, being attacked by a green dragon.

Attack of the Dragon

“Nooo!” screamed Reynarín, dropping to her knees in shock. They were still more than two miles from town, and there was nothing they could do. The dragon roared ferociously and belched forth a vile green and purple smog from it’s mouth, causing more screams of terror and pain to emanate from the town.

“Come on!” called Dovogholz, who began to charge towards the town, “We can’t do anything standing around here! Move it!” Knowing that the dragon would be gone before they arrived, the party began to run towards the town. As they did a foul smell of the dragon’s breath began to waft through the air towards them. The stench of chlorine, acid and ammonia filled their nostrils. Once they were close, Lana offered to hang back with the children as the rest of them saved the town.

Just then the dragon, it’s green and yellow-tinged scales glinting in the sunlight, took off and flew north-east out of sight, roaring as it did so. It’s attack was over. They were too late.

A paper model of a green Dragon standing on a battle mat.
The Dragon of Thundertree. Paper miniture from Printable Heroes.

The Aftermath.

Once they made it to the town the party were devestated to see many buildings were destroyed, some on fire, and others on the brink of collapse. There were people crawling on the ground vomiting, others pulling their loved ones from collapsing buildings and corpses scattered the street.

The entire party got into action, each of them using their own skills to help. Dovogholz used his strength to help lift heavy beams and debris out of the way and off victims. Naoise, small, light and quick, ran into collapsing buildings to see if there were any survivors and helped them when she could. Reynarín ran to the sides of the wounded and sick and began to heal them. Theon used his spell Unseen Servant to scout for survivors while Gryff ran to Alderleaf farm to see if Qelline had survived the attack, as well as deliver the news of her son. She had, but her farmhouse had been destroyed utterly.

The townsfolk and the party worked tirelessly throughout the day to save those they could, and ease the suffering of those they could not. As they did so, Theon noticed that the buildings that were attacked were all buildings that the party themselves had been to. He kept this information to himself.

As they spoke with survivors they discovered that the dragon had come from Thundertree, Gryff’s home town.

As the sun began to set, most of the town had finished the immediate repairs, cleared the dead, and most of the wounded were now stable. The party settled down for the night, ready to continue the repairs in the morning, all except Theon and Gryff.

Theon still hadn’t told the group that he believed the dragon was looking for them, and it was beginning to eat him up inside. He still kept silent however, hoping none of the others would begin to feel his guilt.

To Thundertree.

Gryff, in the meantime, couldn’t sleep as he felt he was responsible too. Thundertree was his birth-place, and he needed to clear out the vile dragon that now called it home. He originally took the job from Rockbreaker because it would get him close to Thundertree, but he had let other things distract him. Not anymore.

So when Gryff asked the group to join him in an expedition to Thundertree, Theon joined instantly, quickly followed by the others. Although all of them were eager to take down the beast, it was Gryff himself who doubted the strength of the group. Waiting until the town was mostly awake and repairing the building, Gryff clambered to the top of a large pile of rubble and called to the townfolk.

“Phandalians!” he cried, “Yesterday you were all devestated by a vicious and needless attack by a despicable dragon! Do you wish to take that lying down? Do you think that the beast will not return should we not show our strength!? Come with us to Thundertree, bring our weapons and shields and FIGHT for your kin!”

“It’s a fucking DRAGON!” replied one of the townspeople, and they all ignored him and returned to their work. Rejected, Gryff and the others bought some fresh supplies and left for Thundertree. Frank, Naoise’s husband, stayed behind to help with the repair effort.

The Eruption

Knowing that it was a two day march to Thundertree, the group talked on the walk, asking Gryff about Thundertree and why it was abandoned.

“Back when I was a baby, my father was the master woodworker and carpenter of Thudertree. He repaired doors, handles, shovels, but he was an artisan before a craftsman. He would carve intricate works and really made beautiful pieces. Lords and Ladies of Neverwinter would often send servants to Thundertree to give my father commissions.

“One day, Mt Hotenow erupted suddenly, and the whole town froze. My father often told me of how the smoke went to high in the sky it seemed to have swallowed up the sun. He grabbed me and fled. My mother didn’t escape. If it wasn’t the earthquakes or the large bombs of magma that killed her, it was the plagues in the days afterwards that did.”

Reynarín stepped forward and put a hand on Gryff’s shoulder, “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. I never really met her, don’t know what I missed. In fact, I never was here. My father never brought us back.”

DANGER! Plant monsters AND zombies! Turn back now!

Later that day they made camp and continued on to Thundertree the next day, coming into the ruined town from the north. Most of the buildings of the town had collapsed from the volcanic eruption some 30 years prior, the ones that still stood were either overgrown with plants or in ruin.

The group made their way through the town fighting plant monsters, zombies and even a giant spider or two. Eventually,/image they came across a building that had a door, and when they approached a bearded man who introduced himself as Reidoth welcomed them inside.

A grided representation of a town. There are 16 buildings all connected by dirt roads and paths, and seperated by many bushes and thickets.
Yes, I drew this by hand, yes, including the grid underneath, no, I have no life.

“You must all get out of here. It’s amazing that you’ve made it this far,” he said. “Why are you here?”

“A green dragon attacked my hometown of Phandalin,” said Reynarín, “We believe it’s made its lair here and we hope to slay it.”

“Her name is Venomfang, and you don’t stand a chance of destroying her. She’s a dragon. DRAGON.”

As Reidoth tried to convince the party to leave, they began to talk openly about robbing him if he didn’t aid them. This made the man transform into a grey squirrel and flee.

The Thundertree Dragon

As the group began to explore Thundertree further, a booming voice filled the air. They searched the skyline for the source and saw the green Dragon perched atop a high tower on a hill in the centre of the ruined town.

” Adventurersss! I know you’re out there. Talking to that druid, I presume. I can sssmell your foul odor. I know that druid wantsss me to leave. Coveting my treasure. Undoubtedly I’m sure you do, too. Ssso if it’sss a battle you want, I will provide it, but I hope to parley. If you value your livesss you ssshould hear me out. I come carrying, asss the human custom goesss, the white banner of peaccce. Ssstep into my lair and no harm ssshould come to you.”

The group eyed each other cautiously, wondering what the best course of action would be. Could they trust this green creature? The one that attacked and destroyed much of Phandalin? They began to approach the tower, cautious and careful, wanting to talk with the beast but still being ready for battle.

Venomfang the Thundertree Dragon

The party edged slowly up the hill, passing the bodies of three dead giant spiders. At the top of the hill stood a round tower with a cottage attached. Both were in good condition, although half of the roof of the tower was gone. As the adventurers approached the base of the tower, Venomfang called out to them.

“Let us put aside our weapons. To be welcomed into a lair of a dragon is a trust and honour no dragon dare go against! I’m issuing the draconic guest rite. May Tiamat strike those that defy this rite down!”

The group looked to Dovogholz who merely shrugged at this “guest rite”. He had never heard of it before, but he wasn’t a true dragon.

“We approach, but we are armed!” called Gryff, an arrow notched in his bow.

The group entered the tower, only to see Venomfang crawling the walls up high above them. The monster impossibly huge, but that only put further fear in the hearts of the group, they all knew this was a young green Dragon.

“I’m glad you’re armed, you see- ” Here Venomfang began to whisper. “I need a favour. Yes. Close together, now. I’m offering you a deal. Closer. I must whisper. There’s another nearby dragon who has a better lair. She’s my sister and her name is Verslexia and those spiders outside were once her spies. If you’d slay her I’d gladly leave this place at once with all my treasure. No problem at all. I will rid myself of this place and vow never to return.”

“How can we trust you?” asked Gryff, a bead of sweat dripping down his temple.

“You can’t, fools!” and with that the Green Dragon of Thundertree opened her mouth and spewed forward a thick smog of vile green gas.

Gryff, Naoise and Theon instantly passed out, while Reynarín and Dovogholz barely managed to hang on…

The green dragon towers over 5 adventurers, three of whom are knocked out on the ground.
And here we see Venomfang ready to have some dinner.

Are Gryff, Naoise and Theon dead?

Can Dovogholz and Reynarín survive?

Will this group of adventurers ever learn to be polite?!

Find out the answers to these questions and more, next time!

Behind the Screen!

Here we discuss what happened on the DM side of this game. If you are one of my players, don’t read here please!

A view of the DM Screen from the DM's perspective. A dragon and minis can be seen beyond the screen.
dav

So Iw as really looking forward to the dragon fight, and decided to change things up a little. As written, Venomfang doesn’t really tie in with the rest of the story of Lost Mines of Phandelver, so I gave the group a more emotive reason to go after Venomfang by having her (oh and I changed the gender from “it” to “her” just for fun) attack Phandalin.

It was nice seeing the players try to help the town in a more rescue vein than “point us in the direction of things you want deaded.”

As for Venomfang herself, it was easily the most fun I had as a DM yet. I took a LOT of inspiration from this comment by Redditor /u/BrosEquis about how to make Venomfang work better. I think the best part of coming into DMing late is the huge amount of advice and tips that are out there.

I also decided that to end the game early, right when three players characters were OHKO’d by a single breath attack just made the players instantly ask “When’s the next session?!”

Be sure to come back next week to find out if they survive or not!

Conor

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