D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 15 Recap

Backtracking to Rivergard Keep we defeat the remaining forces. But returning to town comes with a surprise attack of hell hounds!

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Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

Recorded and uploaded a day later due to out-of-town player. Thank you for your patience!

We’ve definitely hit the record on consecutive battles and sessions without a rest. According to my calculations, the party last rested in shifts while traveling up the Dessarin River toward Rivergard Keep. That was Session 13!

Since then they’ve defeated the entirety of Rivergard Keep, as well as the guards posted inside the Temple of the Crushing Wave. After that battle they were feeling drained and exhausted. Not to mention they’d reached enough experience for level 6 after the first few battles in the Keep. My rules state that they can’t level up outside of a Long Rest.

So although they’d reached a new massive dungeon, they opted to pull back to heal up, level up, and rescue the hostages they had found in the Keep.

On the way out I sprung a little trap using the last few enemies in the Keep I had left – Drosnin the priest and a few reavers and bandits. The party doesn’t operate in a vacuum, so leaving enemies behind and then backtracking through a dungeon comes with some interesting consequences.

In this case, Drosnin destroyed the boat they came in on, with the previously shackled Shoalar no where in sight. Their horses were screaming, still locked in the hold as it listed out to the water, just as our heroes came back on their little row boat. The fight was on!

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This was far from a difficult fight. One priest, two reavers, and three bandits is an “Easy” encounter for a level 5 party. However, as I mentioned, the party hadn’t rested in a very long time. Everyone was almost completely out of spell slots (and ki points for Miri), and potions of healing were being downed after the last fight in the Water Temple.

My players continue to impress with their mobility and tactics around the battlefield. Kalinaar teleported up to the cliff to attack Drosnin, Kethra went to save the horses, and Miri took on the reavers. Talus absorbed countless crossbow bolts like a champ, heh.

I had fun giving a villainous monologue with Drosnin, especially since I didn’t really do anything with Grimjaw in the last session. Things got pretty dicey with Kalinaar getting down to 2 hit points before he went on a Cleave-happy killing spree, killing the last three wounded enemies in a single turn!

With their boats destroyed but horses unharmed, the party opted to travel overland. I admit I forced their hands a bit on this one – I didn’t want to put them through the ringer of another river journey. The former hostages assured them that Red Larch was a perfectly fine destination. I didn’t have them encounter any problems getting back. But that’s because I had one last trick up my sleeve.

d&d“Princes of the Apocalypse” has some neat scripted events that take place during certain milestones of the campaign. Most are designed to show off the fear and power of these elemental cults, and give a real sense of impending doom rather than just a series of static dungeon crawls.

I decided to launch the “Fiery Fangs” encounter just as our heroes were retiring for the evening in the Inn. Launching a combat encounter in a normally safe spot took them by surprise, but they treated my horror set-up (the demonic beasts emerging from the fireplace) with good-natured weariness. It reminded me of the Western hero who sighs as he puts down his glass of whiskey to deal with some threat.

Since my party was dangerously wounded – both Kalinaar and Talus were literally near death, I allowed them to drink a potion of healing before combat began. Without even knowing what hell hounds are capable of the party split up, so my fire breaths weren’t quite as effective.

Hell hounds can do a mess of damage with it though (6d6!) and Talus wisely decided to spend the majority of the fight invisible or plinking with his crossbow from afar. I was fully prepared to have the beasts retreat if things got dicey, but the PCs pulled through and killed all three. It helped that two of the PCs have fire resistance.

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The beasts left behind collars with the fire cult symbol – the one cult they haven’t really interacted with yet. That may change as I introduced the first side quest of the adventure – the Curse of the Fire Witch. Warren Nettlebee (I renamed Watson, heh) was in Red Larch trying to get help for his family’s ranch. He believes they’re being targeted by the fire cult, and the PCs offered to help out.

Not all of the Side Quests included in the campaign book seemed interesting or doable, and now several of them are too low level. This one should be perfect, however, and I like the role-playing opportunities it will provide. It also comes as a nice break between the big dungeon crawls the PCs have been involved in. Onward to Nettlebee Ranch next week!

Recorded every Sunday night, uploaded on Mondays. Subscribe for our weekly adventures!

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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