Scenic Alleyways of Waterdeep

The party was promptly returned to Waterdeep by Elia, who couldn’t stick around, on account of the fact that she was needed back at Metallic Dragon HQ to help prepare for the new alliance.

The next step was to take the dragon’s compromises to the Council. The party’s barbarian was somehow elected to be the spokesperson, and ended up angering the council with his insanity. Thankfully, that scenario turned out to be a bad dream sequence, and the warlock came up with a plan: whenever he said the word “dijon”, the barbarian would spring into action, but until then he should keep quiet. Unfortunately, in discussing the plan and agreeing to use the word “dijon”, the barbarian heard the word “dijon” and immediately bolted into the streets of Waterdeep.

Going in, the party understood that their compromises might be a hard sell for the Council, and they were right. The bard lectured the Council of Waterdeep on the necessity of compromise and the importance of the alliance that the Council themselves sent the party to broker before the party dropped the bomb that they’d bartered 1/3 of the Cult’s stolen hoard in order to secure the partnership. Several Council members, lead by Neverember and Brawnanvil, were outraged. Lady Silverhand explained that the hoard wasn’t technically up for grabs: not only did it belong back with its rightful owners, but the cities represented by the Council knew they’d be facing a massive expenditure after the crisis and beyond the value of the hoard to cover reparations for those who lost their homes and families. The warlock countered by reminding the Council that dragons will be dragons and that treasure was a surefire way to appease them, a point supported by Sir Isteval, sworn enemy of dragons, but supporter of the party’s actions and in begrudging agreement that the dragon’s assistance was to be secured by whatever means necessary.

The second concession went over a lot better: handing over the dragon masks to the metallics. At first it looked like Hornblade would object to losing some of the most powerful (and potentially useful) magical artifacts in Faerun, but seemed to think better of dissent when no one else seemed particularly upset.

The last point was saved for later. The warlock wisely opted to hold back the demands for an apology from Brawnanvil until it could be relayed in private, so after the Council disbanded for the afternoon, the party secured an audience with Brawnanvil for later that night.

Meanwhile, the bard went out looking for the barbarian, whom the party realized could be doing a whole lot of PR damage if left to roam the streets shouting “dijon” at random citizens. During her search, however, she noticed a flash of purple robes ducking into an alleyway. Stealthing through the narrow corridor, she saw the robed humanoid enter into a building in a secluded courtyard.

With the barbarian reclaimed, the bard collected the rest of the party and returned to the alleyway. Still, the barbarian was frantically searching for “dijon” and ran through the courtyard shouting for the spicy mustard, which earned him a fireball to the back from a hidden cultist on a balcony overlooking the alleyway. Several other cultists poured in from other alleys and from behind doors. The bard grabbed the barbarian and used Dimensional Door to teleport the two of them to one of the balconies where a cult fireball thrower was firing from, while the rest of the party used the mouth of the alleyway as a choke-point through which to funnel the oncoming cultists. Although the party took several hits, they were able to plow through the cultists — except one, who seemed to have vanished into thin air.

+   +   +

The session got off to a slow start as we triggered several hallucinations in which the barbarian — who is under the delusion that he is actually a wizard — attempted to speak to the Council on behalf of the party.

The Council was obviously upset about the 1/3 share of the treasure leaving their eventual possession, although the vehemence with which some of the members protested the situation could be construed as having an agenda for the hoard beyond simple restitution.

The party rarely splits, adhering to the adage of “don’t split the party”, but in some cases having players go their different ways allows for different opportunities to present themselves, not always for the worst. When they’re all bunched up, an ambush is like a small war because the “ambush” part has to match or exceed the party’s strength. Plus, if they always travel in packs, then there’s always some level of assumed safety. More importantly, the Party With A Capital “P” means that I always have to address the Party and almost never get the opportunity to work with individual players.

Focusing on one or two players at a time can certainly be boring for the rest of the party, depending on how involved the current scenario ends up being, but I think part of our problem with us is that the Party Is All. We have some people who talk a lot, some people who talk A WHOLE LOT, and some people who say very little, in part because there are so many voices talking over one another because everyone is in the same place at the same time experiencing the same experience, and as a result no one can be addressed as an individual. Decisions are made sometimes by consensus, but often times it seems like everyone just goes with the flow because A) there’s not a lot of other options that would allow the party to take different routes (my fault), B) some folks are just feeling like throwing another voice into the fray would be drowned out or not really add anything new to the decision making process, or C) strength in numbers means never having to worry about the possibility of making a terrible, terrible mistake.

Because of the scenario, though, there’s not a lot of time or opportunity to split the party or for the party to really focus on individual paths within the same chapter, so I suppose it’s the impending deadlines that we can use as an excuse this time around.

We also saw the devastating results of Blight as the warlock turned a cultist to dust with a waggle of his finger, leading me to believe that I need a better class of henchmen for the future.


Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For

I think it’s safe to say that no one in these circles — the people this post advertisement will reach — is immune to cycles of interest and ennui regarding the games we play, or at a lower level, the kinds of games we play.

I’m sliding back into my phase of “I don’t know what I want to play”. I am obligated to get back into The Secret World, because it’s got just the right amount of creep for the Halloween season, despite the fact that I play alone and have never actually completed the Halloween event (I’m not holding my breath that I’ll fare any differently this season). I am actually making measurable progress now, which is one of my cornerstones to remaining interested in game.

I’ve also taken up the yoke in Elite Dangerous again. I’m still obsessed with Star Citizen, but there’s only so much to do with it right now: try out ships, fly around, and do repair missions and the one investigation mission for cash that’ll get wiped out eventually. And my system doesn’t run it all that well. Elite is still the imperfect beast it’s always been, with its limited engagement and single-minded route towards more money and bigger ships, but at least it’s working, and there are improvements on the horizon (get it!?). Except when I get blown up by NPCs, like what happened last night.

What I’m not doing is World of Warcraft. I cancelled my sub this morning after a discussion with a like-minded friend. My feelings about the situation were contained in the post previous to this one, and the situation still stands: too much themepark is showing through Blizzard’s sandbox attempt, and it’s just muddying the waters for me. I cannot take it to task for being shoddy. Even with my limited WoW experience, it’s their best expansion to date, but it seems to also be WoW‘s late foray into puberty: growing and changing, but really and painfully awkward.

Meanwhile, I bought the Destiny expansion, and instantly regretted it. I was originally not high enough in level to use it, but was also overlooked when my usual strike team decided to plow through it without inviting me. They completed it, and one member opted to not play it again from that point which left me high and dry, as half the fun of that game (2/3 the fun, really) was playing it with other people. I had put it on the shelf for months, and the only reason I’d taken it down was in anticipation of playing with others again.

I’m starting to get the feeling that I’m caught somewhere between wanting a really in-depth, thinking person’s game, and not having anywhere near enough time to devote to such a thing. I’ve still got Stellaris installed, and it’s a nightly contender but never gets the nod because I need several hours to feel like my sessions are worthwhile. TSW is fairly highbrow in this regard with its investigation missions, but I’ve been through them before at this stage and have therefor fallen back on looking up the answers. Elite fulfills the agency aspect of my need to forge my own way in the galaxy, but offers little else. Now what?

I have no idea. My friends will pretty much only play The Division, and only then on Monday night, or randomly through the week, so it’s pretty much the only game I have to play if I want to play with other people. I’ve taken to streaming with the newly repurposed Forge, but don’t have a groove there, or else I’m not streaming anything anyone wants to watch. All in all, my gaming time seems to be increasingly…pointless? Unsatisfying at best, I suppose. I don’t know if it’s restlessness, disappointment, or loneliness that’s causing the heavy sigh.

My One Issue With Legion


At this point a lot of words have been spilled over World of Warcraft‘s latest expansion Legion, most of which have been put forth by people who are much more familiar with the franchise than I am. I’m a casual WoWer at best; although I own all the expansions and have played each to varying degrees, I don’t do group content (for differing reasons), and I have no interest in the things that WoW tells us we should have interest in: raiding, loot, and the perpetual go-round formed by the two working in tandem.

There is something intrinsically awesome with Legion however. It seems to have more story than any of the other expansions. The design of the zones are top-notch. Some of the complaints from the past (garrisons) have been worked on (class halls) to great success. But one of the best moves, in my opinion, is also what’s causing me the greatest headache.

Legion is WoW‘s most sandbox-esque expansion to date. You have a mission to stop a demonic invasion, and in order to do so you need to collect class-specific weapons of legend. In order to do that, you take the floating city of Dalaran to the Broken Isles, a crescent-shaped landmass that is divided into several regions as well-demarcated biomes for the purpose of visual and narrative convenience. In expansions gone by, we’d expect to be dropped off on one coast of the continent and railroaded through each zone until we reach the final stages of the lore-driven story in some dark fel castle or some such, but Legion opts for a different tack this time.

Legion allows you to pick a zone to start in. Your pursuit of your weapons will take you all over the continent, as will the collection of followers for your class hall. This is made possible by Blizzard’s new scaling system. You may recognize this as a reverse form of adaptation of the system in Guild Wars 2 that down-levels the player, or from Bethesda’s “One Tamriel” initiative coming to The Elder Scrolls Online sometime in the future, which is kinda like the enemy scaling in The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim. Because the mobs scale to your individual level, you have the opportunity to move anywhere within the Broken Isles at any time in pursuit of your objectives while always being properly challenged (for another perspective on this, check out Pete at Dragonchaser’s post on his concerns regarding TESO‘s One Tamriel [First] [ Second] [Third]).

I’m finding this nifty, but severely off-putting. Last night I logged in, intending to do some treasure hunting for class hall resources, and found myself re-visiting a zone I’d already passed through but not cleared of the hidden treasure boxes. I looked at my quest log, and found that I had a lot of tradeskill quests, one mandatory dungeon run (which is another severe annoyance for me), one last weapon-harvesting chain, and a few nickel and dime quests. As I was running through this zone on my hunt, I came across several “!”, but skipped over them with the intention of coming back later.

That’s when I realized that Legion wasn’t working for my gameplay style. WoW is a game of linear progression, but Legion is a sandbox, and what we’ve got is some kind of genetic mutation that ends up short-circuiting of my need for progression. I’m leveling well enough, I’m collecting class hall resources well enough, and am upgrading my weapons and gear well enough, but that Legion‘s design makes it OK to be in a zone with all new quests even when a previous zone’s quests have barely been touched — actually, when the game specifically sends you to another zone before you’ve “completed” the current zone — and that’s not OK with me. Even though Legion allows this through the scaling measures, they still rely on the “!” design as the drivers in each zone. That means you’ll always have work to do, but a limited quest log to do it with, and for me, a limited amount of focus. All in all, they could have just blown the doors of the quest log limit and pre-loaded all missions for you so you could just do them organically while chasing down the story elements and it would have worked just as well (if not better).

The workaround, then, is to not leave a zone before it’s done, even if that means putting critical work (weapon stories, class hall followers) aside for later, but I’m not sure that would work, especially for the class hall follower collection which is a critical part of Legion thanks to the mobile app that Blizzard released a few weeks ago.

I guess my take-home message is this: Legion is extremely well done, but now that I’m at that midway point (level 106), I’m finding that the traditional issues I have with MMOs are still here. The motivation to continue is waning. At a similar point in other games, I’d be looking at a plateau of the same mechanics stretching out towards the level cap, and while it seems that Legion should avoid this, it doesn’t. In fact, it seems to be making things worse by allowing me to be anywhere and everywhere at the same time. It’s like levels never happened and everything is available to me. I know that others would jump in at this point and say that at 110 the world quests open up and everything changes, but that’s really the same thing as what MMO devs have insisted on for decades now, that “the real game starts at the level cap”, which is a particularly vile Kool-Aid I’ve never opted to swallow.

I’m thinking that my plan at this point is to put the game aside. I played it semi-religiously when it launched, having done the pre-release events every single day and getting some serious levels for my Mage (though nothing like the power-levelers achieved), so maybe it’s just burn-out at this point. I’d been contemplating this for a while, since I realized that I couldn’t complete the first weapon story arc without doing a dungeon run, which made me much more sad than it did angry. Overall, I think that Legion is probably the best move Blizzard had to make in order to justify WoW‘s evergreen position as the #1 MMO in the West, but I can’t fault them for not getting everything 100% awesome for me, personally, at this time. I’m hoping that coming back to the game maybe in 2017 will give me fresh perspective and a renewed desire to make the push through the final four levels (at least on my main character).

How To Train Your Dragon



The party wasted little time getting the act together, and none too soon: Turns out Lady Elia had a trick up her sleeve, and that trick was turning into a silver dragon in the fortress courtyard, freaking out the animals and making uninformed citizens panic at the sight of a dragon suddenly in their midst.

Elia — her real name being Otaaryliakkarnos, in WotC’s typical alphabet soup fashion — flew the party to the meeting place high in the mountains, and along the way provided them with a dossier on each of the dragons they would be meeting with.

Protanthur: proud and distrustful of humanoids. He’d be the party’s greatest opponent.

Ileuthra: A wise dragon who spends his time walking the planes of existence and consorting with gods. He would be judging the party’s arguments most strongly.

Nymmurh: Already given over to the humanoid cause because of his relationship with Lady Dala Silmerhelve of Waterdeep, so at least the effort was starting at absolute zero.

Tazmikella: A dragon who has spent a good part of her life in human form, living among humanoids, and has gotten burned by the younger races more times than she could count.

And herself, of course, but no one asked her about her position on all of this Cult business.

True to her word, Protanthur turned out to be a tough nut to crack. By and large, the dragons were all on the same page that something needed to be done, but the dragon clans weren’t sure that there was any benefit to entering into a formal alliance with the humanoids. If their paths crossed in pursuit of some mutual goal, then so be it, but there was no point to a formal alliance. To the long-lived dragons, this subtle distinction apparently meant something.

The party presented their case to the best of their ability. A united force of humanoids and dragons could only be stronger than if either group went it alone, and the party attempted to enumerate the ways in which their contributions could benefit the dragons. They walked a fine line between obsequiousness and a show of over-confidence in the abilities they were touting, but the dragons weren’t entirely on board. The party spoke of the benefits of humanoid knowledge to a dragon who moves through the planes of existence with ease. They described war to creatures who had fought in battles than humanoids knew only as legends. Most of all, they tried to sell the “triumph of the human(oid) spirit” as their greatest asset, but that turned out to be the dragon’s — or at least Protanthur’s — sorest spot.

Each dragon had some beef with the humanoids. Taz had first-hand experience with the two-faced nature of humans, elves, and dwarves. Otaaryliakkarnos clan sought restitution from the dwarven kingdoms for their careless hunting of her ancestors (and from having made a suite of armor from the skin of one in particular). Protanthur’s ire was reserved for elves and tieflings specifically, each of which were represented in the party, but his greater issue was that humanoids, with their short lifespans, couldn’t amass the wisdom that leads them to make good decisions. Humanoids were corruptible and weak, and prone to infighting over transient elements that they’d never live long enough to enjoy. He stated the it was humanoid frailty — of life, of character — as an excuse for a “get as much as you can, while you can” attitude that had wreaked havoc across the realm for centuries. In short, humanoids were why Faerun couldn’t have nice things.

Nymmurh was Protanthur’s foil, however. The younger dragon had spent much time on both sides of the current argument, some among his clan debating the situation, and some among his confidants in Waterdeep. As the one who felt most at ease in both camps, he could only remind Protanthur that while everything he said about the humanoid races was accurate, the fact that they were still around despite centuries of strife and fallen empires spoke volumes as to their tenacity and will to survive. No, they didn’t need an alliance with them, he agreed, but that being the case, there was no good reason not to ally, and the only reason Protanthur was holding out was due to his bias against the younger races.

As the dragons disengaged from the party to discuss the matter amongst themselves, the party regrouped to consider their options at this point. It was mentioned that maybe they could sweeten the pot a bit if they offered the dragons a part of the Cult’s treasure hoard in exchange for an alliance. If the dragons returned and Protanthur’s position remained unchanged, there might be no other option. The party seemed hesitant to stoop to common tit-for-tat, though, possibly believing that doing so would offend the ancients and ruin whatever logical arguments they had spent the past hour and a half making for their case.

As the dragons reentered the grotto, most still had reservations, but were in a better mood to bargain. Although Otaaryliakkarnos figured that the suit of armor made from her ancestor was lost to history, she requested a formal apology from a representitive of the dwarves for their centuries of drunken revelry that they called the dragonmoots that usually ended with the slaughter of her kin. The party stated that they couldn’t speak for the entire dwarven nation, but Otaary seemed to be very insistent that they try in exchange for her support. Ileuthra had one contingent request: that once the dragon masks were recovered, they be given to the metallic clans for safekeeping. While he was cool on the idea of an alliance himself, he was concerned that the masks left in the well meaning but relatively weak hands of the humanoids would eventually be too much of a temptation, and if an alliance was the price they had to pay for the humanoids to agree to hand over such powerful artifacts, then so be it. In a more casual conversation with Taz, the mention of a cut of the treasure got her attention, and she suggested that Protanthur’s current internal struggle might be swayed by a promise of a portion of the spoils. Because, dragons.

In the end, Protanthur begrudgingly agreed to the alliance in exchange for 1/3 of the Cult’s hoard. It would no doubt be an uneasy alliance, with one side desperate for the help of the other side which appeared to be unengaged in the process, but the party requested that the dragons sign a written agreement that they could take to the Council as a formal declaration of the alliance.

+   +   +

I was both excited and terrified of this session going in. It’s difficult enough to RP a single character; it’s very difficult to have to RP several characters over the course of an adventure; it’s stupidly daunting to have to RP several characters simultaneously during the same session. Not only that, but to have to RP dragons, and to give them some air of ancient wisdom, aloofness, and hubris and self-centeredness, all while trying to not agree with the logical, very humanly relatable points that the players were putting forth, in the name of playing the characters.

Each of the dragons had three traits: desire, attitude, and concession, as well as a bearing such as angry, unfavorable, neutral, and favorable. Their desire is what they wanted in the context of the module, which was the cessation of the Cult’s rituals. They differed from the Council’s approach in that their dragon pride made them believe that they could and should go it alone, not because it was “a dragon problem”, but because they’ve got the “long view” of life in Faerun, and have collectively decided that the pattern of humanoid races is one of general dumbassery. They were quick to remind the party that it was a human’s perchance for corruption that started the whole Cult business in the first place.

During the negotiations, it was basically two against one: the bard and (oddly) the tiefling warlock took the initiative to argue the case. Their positions were very Star Trekish: yes, humanoids can be selfish and dickish, but there’s so much potential there…swap the party for Jean Luc Picard and the dragons for Q and I think I’d seen that episode before. But as a person I couldn’t find any fault in their argument; as dragons, I had to.

The only thing the dragons had in their favor (aside from their racism) was their long view of the world. They had seen some shit, and have noticed the patterns. They don’t feel that they could trust that humanoids were doing this for any other reason than selfishness which would eventually devolve into the usual squabbles between their nations. While humanoids were certainly good at war, one dragon asked, point blank, “how can we be sure you’re not just going to turn on one another once the Cult is defeated and go to war over the spoils?” Hopefully, no one could really answer that — they could speak on behalf of the Council, but they couldn’t really speak for the Council, after all. It wasn’t so much that the dragons were trying to be right, but they had to seem entirely uninterested and unconvinced that there was a benefit to them doing something they really didn’t want to do with people they’d rather not do it with.

That’s where the concessions were supposed to come in. Before the party left Waterdeep, Sliverhand attempted to impress upon the party that for the purpose of these negotiations, they were the Council. Part of the point of the scenario was (minor spoiler for the party members who read this, but probably not really) to put the party in a difficult position: yeah, they had the authority to wheel and deal, but after they made promises to the dragons, they would then have to convince the Council to actually make good on those promises. In this, the dragons can only be proven to be correct in their fears: humanoids aren’t as unified in their support for one another as the dragons are, no matter how dire the circumstances are that they’re staring down. I didn’t use all the concessions, because by the time all of the speechifying was done we were abutting our quitting time, and there was still the final go-ahead that needed to be nailed down. After 1.5 hours of talk, throwing in the towel because the dragons lined up to make demands would seem really stupid. Plus, the broaching of the subject of concessions was supposed to be part of the empowerment of the party. They could have outright asked “what can we do to win your support?” and I think the scenario could have been over in about 15 minutes.

But we got some good RP out of it, and hopefully everyone enjoyed themselves. True to form, though, the party’s wildcard Dimsdale Butterstick the Perpetually Scintillating — the barbarian who’s convinced he’s a wizard — almost derailed the negotiations with his unique brand of outbursts, but someone produced a whole bunch of crumpets from their adventuring rations which kept him busy throughout most of the proceedings. At the end, though, once the crumpets had been consumed, the warlock summoned some pretty lights to amuse the barbarian, which actually worked because he failed his Wisdom saving throw.

Good times.

A Little More Conversation

The party was summoned before the Council of Waterdeep upon their return to…eh…Waterdeep. They had turned Varrum the White over the Council’s “Hospitality Ambassadors”, and were on their way to their debriefing.

The Council had redecorated since last the players were there, most notably that Lord Neverember was apparently no longer in charge of the quorum. Lady Silverhand now occupied the Big Chair, but no one at the table offered to elaborate. It was obvious that Neverember was displeased and detached from the proceedings.

Lady Silverhand congratulated the party on returning with Varrum in tow, a sentiment that was echoed by Lord Brawnanvil of Mithril Hall. Brawnanvil was eager to put Varrum on trial for a laundry list of transgressions against the dwarven races. On the other side of the coin was Delaan Winterhound of the Emerald Enclave who saw Varrum’s presence as an unnecessary distraction. He cautioned the Council and the Party against Varrum’s well-known duplicity, and warned that his presence in Waterdeep could be putting the city and the Council’s operations at risk.

Still, Lady Silverhand would not overlook this opportunity to wring valuable intelligence from their prisoner, and sent the party down to Varrum’s interrogation in an act of “good faith”. Perhaps the party — having just rescued Varrum and providing him with asylum — would put the dwarf more at ease.

Varrum was eager to talk. He told the party about the goals of the Cult, the purpose of the Wyrmspeakers and the masks their carried, and about the Thayan’s involvement in the Cult’s proceedings. By and large he was cooperative, which put the party immediately on the defensive.

Once back in the council chamber, a new face had appeared, but before introductions could be made, the warlock had a request: he wanted just two minutes to question Varrum without anyone else in the room, a request that had been denied by the chief interrogator Lady Maquette. Mithril Hall was supportive, but the Emerald Enclave pointed to this diversion as proof of Varrum’s disruptive nature. Lady Silverhand granted the warlock’s request, interested in wringing any and all information from their captive before they had to resort to more painful methods.

The Council was engaged in a run-down of status reports from their kingdoms, but the stories were all the same: villagers and small cities were being emptied of their populations as people fled ahead of impending Cult attacks. Houses, barns, inns, and other personal properties were being razed by dragon fire, and precious possessions were being stolen from the wreckage. The massive movements of people along the Sword Coast was projected to overwhelm the strongholds of Waterdeep, Neverwinter, Baldur’s Gate, Luskin, and others. The Council’s reports echoed Varrum’s statements that the Cult’s attacks had two purposes: to acquire as much treasure as possible for the return of Tiamat, and to overwhelm the Council member’s resources and sow confusion in a bid to keep them occupied.

Winterhound seemed particularly vociferous after the unusually glowing report from King Melandrach of the Misty Forest. Melandrach claimed that Cult raiders had been repelled once he ordered the forest kingdom’s defenses increased, and boasted of confidence that his people were safe. Prince Alagarthas, Melandrach’s youngest son, countered the King’s claim with evidence gathered by his people in league with the Emerald Enclave. They felt that the Cult had merely been repelled but not defeated, and that they were surely biding their time until they could discern the weak points in Melandrach’s new defenses. A stern rebuke from his father through the invocation of his missing brother and rightful successor Neronvain, silenced Alagarthas, driving him from the room.

With the bickering complete, Lady Silverhand introduced their newest visitor as Lady Elia, a representitive of the metallic dragons of Faerun. The Council had been insistant with the metallics, begging for an audience in which they would plead their case for assistance in their fight against the Cult. Their diplomatic missives had been received, but no word had been received regarding their reception. Silverhand was quick to remind the Council that it was foolish to try and appeal the dragon’s sense of decency, since what was life and death for those at the table was merely a blink of a eye for dragonkind; instead, they needed to state their case to the draconic council as diplomats and, if necessary, to make concessions that would win the metallics over to their cause. Lady Elia was the first response the Council had received, and they were eager to take it. It was the Council’s decision that since the party had the most experience with the dealings of the Cult, they would be best suited to provide the dragons with answers to whatever questions they might demand answers to before making their decision. Lady Elia mentioned that she needed to return to her council as quickly as possible, as their deliberations were still ongoing in her absence. The party agreed to leave that evening.

As the Council adjourned, the party was stopped in the hallway by Alagarthas. He pleaded with the party to come to the Misty Forest to stop the impending Cult assault, warning the players that it might be a matter of hours, or a matter of days before their defenses were compromised and his people slaughtered. Winterhound supported Alagarthas’ request, but the party felt that treating with the dragons was far more important to the needs of the council. Angry beyond words, Alagarthas left the party with a confused Winterhound in tow.

+   +   +

I ended up spending more time preparing this scenario than any other, I think, and I believe it paid off. I got to cover all of the bases that I felt were needed at this point in the module, although I was worried about halfway through that it was turning into an exposition dump.

Varrum’s presence is supposed to be a boon for the Council; he fucked up, pissed off Severin, and believes his life in the Cult to be over. But Silverhand’s warnings were accurate in that Varrum is an opportunist. He knows that he has nothing to gain from lying to the Council, but his life no doubt depends on being as truthful as he feels he needs to be, for as long as possible.

Since Varrum was a member of Severin’s inner circle, he’s got a lot of information — but not ALL the information. The Cult’s structure in our version of the module has the power concentrated with Severin. He has advisors who handle the military aspects, so the current job of the Wyrmspeakers is to corral chromatic dragons of their mask’s color who might be resisting the call of the draakhorn, but also to go where Severin deems necessary, quickly, and without question. This isolates Varrum from Severin’s details, but also keeps him apart from other Wyrmspeakers. He mentioned to the party that this was a potential weakness in the cult: since the Wyrmspeakers operated independently at Severin’s sole command, cornering any one of them could lead to the Council gaining possession of one of the masks.

And if you notice that I’m ending abruptly at this point, you’re right.