D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 16 Recap

Our heroes are lured into a trap at Nettlebee Ranch involving barbarian ghosts, earth cults, and evil halflings.

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Previously on “Princes of the Apocalypse”

Some group drama is bound to crop up in a role-playing world. I’ve been very fortunate to be able to DM for best friends I’ve known since grade school. For the most part we all get along swimmingly, with occasional disagreements being handled courteously and quickly. After tonight’s session the group may need to draw up their own group charter. I suggested “The Nettlebee Accords.”

After our party’s incredibly lengthy journey up a river through a keep and to grandmother’s house they go, I decided now’d be the perfect time to launch one of “Princes of the Apocalypse’s” scripted side quests.

Curse of the Fire Witch is a fun little event that lures our unsuspecting heroes into a trap. They’re called to a nearby ranch run by a halfling family of farmers and ranchers. The Nettlebees are worried about nearby fire cults and their livestock has been recently branded with the fire cult symbol. I used young son Warren (renamed from Watson in the book) as a wanna-be adventurer. An earnest scout that went to town to find help. He found our heroes.

They agreed to accompany him to his farm at Nettlebee Ranch, which I placed just outside of Red Larch to cut down on needless travel time. Doing this side quest required a bit of extra work in finding battle maps, as only the barbarian barrow mound is printed in the book. Thankfully I found some reasonable farm and farmhouse with a little Google Image searching.

d&dThe event beings with a mysterious investigation as to the hows and whys the halflings are being targeted. I let my players meet the halfling family, showing off Bertram as an asshole businessman and Wiggan as a hilariously inept old man (think Grampa Simpson). Mostly I just wanted to break out my silly old man voice.

After the meet Warren mentioned the clues surrounding the nearby barrow mound’s recent disturbance, and the party went to investigate. Inside they were cautious and curious, and I enjoyed playing up the well-written descriptions of the soon-to-be haunted tomb.

The barbarian ghost chief appears as a revenant, but he’s not hostile to the player. Any time I get to play a monster as a role-playing scenario is a fun one – like that time they met a lich and Kalinaar pledged his services!

I decided to go ahead and reveal Wiggan as the primary culprit while I sprung the trap – a cave-in and summoned earth elemental! The creature is large and beefy but went down relatively quickly against four fully-rested level six PCs. It has over 130 HP and I think lasted all of 2 rounds.

Another fun role-playing scene unfurled as they scrambled out of the tomb to find a small army of Uthgardt barbarians awaiting them. They also weren’t hostile, instead wanting to follow their ghostly leader into the ranch to slaughter all the halflings. This poses an interesting dilemma to our players, as I’d proven that at least Warren was a straight-shooter and probably not involved in his grandfather’s elemental cult dealings.

The party suspected as much and convinced the ghostly revenant to wait while they retrieved the guilty ones. I wanted to keep the excitement and tension going, however, and added a layer of competition to the barbarians. They too would try and root out the “bad” halflings – and probably loot and plunder a little on the side!

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The PCs chased after the barbarians, fighting them in the fields and rushing to help Warren defend his flocks. Talus instantly levitated the Uthgardt Chieftess, taking her completely out of the fight. The tribal warriors are basically just bandits, and went down very quickly.

From there they ran to the farmhouse to save the innocent members of the family. Here’s where the incident occurred.

Earlier Talus had levitated the chieftess. To avoid another awkward Shoalar moment, I had her frustratingly surrender after her warriors lay dead. Kalinaar wanted to use her to force the barbarians in the farmhouse to also surrender, but she warned that they probably wouldn’t listen.

I acted out the little scene to see how the PCs would react. Sure enough, the barbarians in the farmhouse ignored her proclamations. Everyone was shocked when Kalinaar decided to suddenly execute their prisoner when she failed to reign in the others. This was a custom berserker with challenge rating 3 that I never used, mind you. As a DM, this tells me that I should never, ever surrender to this party.

I let Kalinaar get away with it, even though I found the act (and his reasoning) cruel and malicious. He’s playing a unique Paladin/Fighter that follows his own personal code of conduct – one that often runs counter to the rest of the party. Talus was especially floored by the act, and the two characters often butt heads over moral decisions.

With their bargaining chip dead, the PCs simply rushed into the farmhouse and fought the barbarians. Thankfully for them they had not reached the family yet. I made it even easier by sequestering the guilty party – Betram and Wiggan, down in the cellar. Another easy combat round followed as the two awkwardly built NPCs (basically low-level clerics) went down quickly.

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The Uthgardt were all slain and the stolen treasures were recovered. Talus took a hard stance the second Kalinaar’s eyes glittered over the barbarian ghost’s old greatsword. He levitated the chest and wouldn’t even speak to him, heh. They successfully returned all the treasures to the Uthgardt revenant, and I rewarded them with the raven figurine, a bag of holding, part of the family’s fortunes, as well as four charms – which I still need to actually create.

We were able to do the entire side quest in a single session. I think everyone enjoyed the change of pace from a large dungeon crawl into a smaller series of more scripted and story-based events. Afterward the players talked a bit about how the should handle the discord that Kalinaar creates, and I suggested some kind of group charter that lays out their general “dos and don’ts.” Also, this party needs a proper name damn it.

I plan on punctuating more of these little side quests and events throughout the campaign. It’s a great way to break up the large dungeons and allow for some nifty role-playing. Hopefully the party will find a way to operate more harmoniously outside of tactical combat as well.

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

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

2 thoughts on “D&D 5E “Princes of the Apocalypse” Session 16 Recap”

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