Tuesday, January 31, 2017

D&D 5e: Running Nightstone Part II (Storm King's Thunder)

The intrepid party approaches the entrance to the Dripping Caves
fearlessly led (from the rear) by the paladin and his magical mount.
In my previous post, I described some of the modifications I was considering to accommodate a higher level party. This week, I'll recap some of the sessions and talk about my group's foray into the Dripping Caves.

1) When the party arrived at Nightstone, it was being sacked by a Hobgoblin scouting party. I used bulked up numbers of Hobgoblins with extra Worgs and Goblin minions.

2) I tried to play the Hobgoblins intelligently. I used stealth and flanking (the military tactic, not the game mechanic) to gain Advantage where I could. I also tried to utilize missile fire as much as possible to get in a little more damage until the PC fighters could close.

Clearning Nightstone of Hobgoblins
3) After the Hobgoblin battle, a force of mounted Iron Circle soldiers (rough equivalents to Zhentarim in my game) arrived to "secure" the town. The soldiers were not openly hostile, so the party decided to go for diplomacy rather than get into another scrap.

4) A much larger force of Hobgoblins (and an ogre or two) invaded the next day forcing the PCs to work together with the Iron Circle. This was a replacement for the Orc battle and directed the party toward the Dripping Caves, as I had decided all this Goblin and Hobgoblin activity was due to a mysterious Hobgoblin warlord currently using the Dripping Caves as an outpost.

5) Arriving at the Dripping Caves, the party discovered not one, but two Hill Giants (probably from Grudd Haug) living with the remaining force of Hobgoblins. After the death of the giants, the Hobgoblins parleyed for the life of the remaining villagers. Rather than see more innocents die, the party agreed to the terms and the townsfolk were set free to return to Nightstone.

My players look on skeptically when they discover
the giant is "not quite dead yet."
6) When later returning to "clean up" the Hobgoblin threat, the PCs find a (mostly) empty cave with a reanimated Hill Giant Zombie (along with centipede swarms and carrion crawlers). The Hill Giant Zombie fight actually turned out to be one of the more entertaining encounters, with the carrion crawlers not only fighting the PCs but also attempting to snack on the dead giant.

Final Thoughts

All told, the adjustments made worked fairly well. The party did not have too much difficulty with the hobgoblins, but I made sure there was plenty of missile fire to keep them on their toes. I also upped the average hit points of the hobgoblin soldiers and their commanders.

Surprisingly, the PCs did not have that much difficulty fighting two Hill Giants, taking them down fairly quickly with concentrated fire, but when it came to the swarms of bugs and the reanimated Hill Giant Zombie, the bug swarms proved to be somewhat nasty (though they were helped by some critical rolls). All in all, I was able to milk several sessions out of Nightstone and we had a great deal of laughs along the way.

Dripping Caves central chamber ala Dwarven Forge

If you also happen to be running Nightstone, share some of your own laughs and experiences along the way.

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