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Critical Spoilers: Season One – Tyranny of Dragons

A few months after each season of the D&D Adventurers League ends we publish a Critical Spoilers column in which we detail the official critical events of D&D Expedition and D&D Epic adventures as determined by the players and DMs who reported their results. What follows is a summary of each adventure and those events officially determined by the campaign’s players. It goes without saying, there will be Spoilers!

The season began in Madame Freona’s Tea Kettle with DDEX1-1 Defiance in Phlan, in which our heroes were introduced to the five factions: the Order of the Gauntlet (who were trying to rescue a tinker’s daughter from a secret prison run by corrupt members of the Knights of the Black Fist), the Harpers (who wanted help obtaining a possible dragon egg), the Emerald Enclave (who were trying to recover a dangerous magic item), the Lords Alliance (who wanted to clear out a draconic crypt beneath the Valhingen Graveyard), and the Zhentarim (whose representative Chaab needed rescuing from goblins working with the Cult of the Dragon).

In DDEX1-2 Secrets of Sokol Keep the lighthouse on Thorn Isle had gone dark. Bad weather makes the harbor particularly treacherous without the lighthouse. The characters traveled to Sokol Keep on the island to relight the lighthouse and find out why no messages had been forthcoming. From the servants, the characters learned that Igan Sokol and the rest of the garrison had disappeared. With the help of a friendly poltergeist, who would turn out to be the ghost of a cleric of Tyr named Harae, the characters were led to a shrine beneath the keep dedicated to Dagon, the Prince of the Depths. The characters discovered that the Black Fist garrison had slain Igan and accidentally reawaken the demonic shrine. The soldiers paid for their crimes in blood and the shrine was desecrated. Despite the adventurers success, the bad weather continued.

Doomguide Yovir Glandon of Order of the Silent Shroud and Knight Aleyd Burral of the Black Fist enlisted the aid of the characters in DDEX1-3 Shadow on the Moonsea. Coastal attacks along with rumors of dracoliches and ghost pirates moved the Kelemvorite to dispatch the characters to an island in the Stormy Bay. There they encountered inbred islanders and picked up the girl Elisande and a strange blind goat that followed them throughout their investigation. The characters discovered a cave in the woods and therein found a crude shrine. In the shrine they learned that the islanders have made a pact with Tiamat to rid themselves of a pirate threat, sending the pirates to Hell. Unfortunately the characters broke the pact and the pirates, now tainted by infernal energy, arrived just after the island was attacked by the Cult of the Dragon disguised as undead. With the aid of the villagers, the characters defeated both groups and learned that there was a schism in the Cult of the Dragon with one group still supporting the dream of aiding dragons achieve lichdom, while the new faction sought to bring Tiamat to Faerun. Both seek a Green Dragon Mask to gain an advantage over the other. The characters recovered a tome from the shrine that told them it was hidden in Kryptgarden Forest. Returning to Phlan, the characters delivered Elisande and the goat into the care of the Order of the Silent Shroud. They disappeared two weeks later.

The recovered tome leads into DDEP1 Corruption in Kryptgarden, where brave heroes representing all the factions assembled to fight the growing darkness in Kryptgarden Forest and recover the Dragon Mask. The mighty green dragon Claugiyliamatar (Old Gnawbones) was wounded in an epic battle as the heroes felled both the leadership of the Cult of the Dragon in Kryptgarden and Garbul, the champion of the Zartruss hobgoblin clan which was allied with the Cult. Furthermore, the heroes managed to kill a Thayan necromancer giving aid to the cult. Lastly, the heroes were able to secure the Green Dragon Mask from the Cult. Also of note, the Harpers swore an oath to King Witchthorn, a powerful dark fey lord. This prevented an alliance between the dark fey of Kryptgarden with Claugiyliamatar. The Zhentarim also achieved many successes for their organization throughout the battle. The Emerald Enclave…not so much.

Back in Phlan for DDEX1-4 Dues for the Dead, Doomguide Yovir Glandon asks the characters to go into the catacombs beneath Valinghen Graveyard and determine if the dead walk again. Along with Cassyt, a young acolyte acting as a guide, the characters descended. They discovered undead and some members of the Welcomers thieves’ guild who they rescued and then allowed to flee having learned a valuable lesson. The characters eventually encountered the necromancer, a Red Wizard named Rorreth who was searching for the Pool of Radiance on behalf of Rath Modar, another Red Wizard. While Roreth escaped, his undead laborers were put down and Cassyt spoke highly of the characters’ efforts to the Doomguide and her friend, Knight Aleyd Burral.

Above ground again for DDEX1-5 The Courting of Fire, the characters are asked by the Lord Sage of Phlan to investigate some thefts in Mantor’s Library. The first of the thefts led the party to follow the thief, Spernik, and his kobold minions into the Dragonspire Mountains. In the ruins of the Temple of the Scale, the characters captured Spernik and learned that the Cult of Dragon had sent him to recover a magical red dragon scale so that they could give it to the red dragon Scorlworyx as a gift to entice the dragon to ally with the Cult. Spernik was given to the Knights of the Black Fist to face justice and the relic was turned over to the Factions. Interestingly, the Zhentarim were recently seen returning to the ruins of the temple for purposes unknown.

For the second set of thefts in DDEX1-6 The Scroll Thief, the characters went in search of books that were stolen from three borrowers: the wizard Aya Glenmiir, the retired adventurer Marten Foss, and the noble Agin Lamarck. With direction from Knight Aleyd Burral and Scribe Master Cassra Brandywine, the characters tracked Ellison Berenger, the scroll thief, to the lair of a black dragon wyrmling, Rythnax, who was allied with the Cult of the Dragon. The party drove off the dragon, recovered the stolen information, and captured Ellison, turning him over to the Black Fist to face justice. In the end, the party determined that the attempt to frame the Welcomers for the crimes where actually the work of the Cult of the Dragon mercenary, Soares. There were rumors that the noble Agin Lamarck’s claim to nobility was tenuous at best, but the Lords Alliance assured the public that the Lamarcks are well-documented nobles of Phlan.

In DDEX1-7 Drums in the Marsh, drums had been heard coming from the Twilight Marsh nightly and each morning locals turned up missing. Following a trail of clues from the Crossing Inn, the party delved into the marsh where they crossed paths with Bogclaw, a lizard king. His father had been killed a month ago by Throstulgrael, a black dragon otherwise known as Velvet, who had recently arrived from the Flooded Forest. The dragon had demanded that the lizardfolk tribes compete for his favor by bringing him humanoids and livestock as tribute with the winning tribe’s chieftain being named king of all the lizard folk! With Bogclaw’s help in exchange for making him king, the characters snuck into the Ringcurrent Islands, freed the missing farmers and a dwarven merchant named Rolk with a minimal loss of life and left before Bogclaw could betray them.

At the start of DDEX1-8 Tales Trees Tell, the characters learned that a woodworker had violated the prohibition from entering the Quivering Forest and may have aggravated the elves and fey folk who had previously protected the town of Phlan from attack. Encountering the woodworker’s familiar, a portly imp named Pipyap, the characters learned that the woodworker was in fact a minion of the Cult of the Dragon sent to form an alliance with the fey at the expense of Phlan. Pipyap, unhappy over his master’s abandonment, joined with the adventurers. Eventually negotiating with the most powerful of the fey, a hag named Jenny Greenteeth, the characters were able to convince her not to side with the Cult, but were not able to get her to reinstate the pact. Phlan would no longer enjoy the protection of the fey of the Quivering Forest. Seeing the writing on the wall, Pipyap choose to part company with the characters.

The characters are hired by House Cadorna in DDEX1-9 Outlaws of the Iron Route to make the road to Zhentil Keep safe once again. Beset by the Gray Patriots under former Knight of the Black Fist Sahnd Krulek, and the Claws of Tiamat commanded by a dragonborn sorcerer named Jeralla, the Iron Route is no longer safe for merchants and the town is slowly starving. With storms blocking trade by sea and outlaws on the roads, the need for heroes grew dire. Heading to Grimshackle Jail, the party met with Rathene Fel who was a member of the Gray Patriots before being captured. In exchange for her freedom, she told the party that both bands of outlaws were meeting at King’s Pyre to discuss a truce and the joining forces for an attack on Phlan. The party headed to the landmark, but not before foiling an escape attempt by the famed minotaur pirate, Captain Walharrow. At the Pyre both gangs were dispersed, Krulek was captured, and Jeralla was slain. As the adventurers left for Phlan, they were set upon by the Burning Banner orcs who have arrived to serve Jeralla. A fight ensued with the characters being forced to flee and the Burning Banner’s chieftain, Narle Shieldbiter vowing revenge.

Unable to stomach the corruption among the Knights of the Black Fist any longer, Knight Aleyd Burral sought out the characters in DDEX1-10 Tyranny in Phlan. Concerned that Spernik still lived in Stojanow Gate Prison, untried for his crimes she sought trustworthy allies. While meeting on unusually nice day in the Laughing Goblin, the town was attacked by Vorgansharax, a huge green dragon sometimes called the Maimed Virulence. In the opening moments, the Temple to Kelemvor was laid low and its clergy decimated. Then the dragon attacked Valjevo Castle killing all who stood before the Cinnabar Throne: the Lord Regent, the masters of the town’s four major guilds, and the head of each noble house were believed dead. A Cult of the Dragon army streamed up from the sewer tunnels and from hidden holds of docked ships; taking townsfolk prisoner as tribute for their dragon master. In the fight to free some of the prisoners, Markoth, known as Fat Mar to many who frequent the Laughing Goblin, was slain. One of the rescued was Aya Glenmiir who bore news the Lord Regent still lived. So a plan was hatched to free the Lord Regent, with the aid of Elisande and the blind goat who appeared once again. Knight Aleyd Burral gave her life in executing the plan and her body would later be taken to Mulmaster where her brother Wylan, a cleric of Tymora would see her raised from the dead. After freeing the Lord Regent, agents of the Harpers infiltrated Stojanow Gate Prison and assassinated Spernik before he could free the prisoners there. With the aid of the Lords Alliance, the Welcomers and Cassyt the last surviving Kelemvorite in Phlan, the characters lead their charges out of the city, only to be attacked by Ixusaxa Terrorsong the leader of the Cult forces in Phlan. While she was driven off, Ector Brahms, Lord Regent, Knight Commander of the Black Fist, Defender of the Cinnabar Throne, was slain and his body destroyed. It was a great loss to the future of Phlan. Vorgansharax was now the new Tyrant of the Cinnabar Throne.

The Cult of the Dragon sought to control the magic of silver pyramid of Sorcerer’s Island in DDEX1-11 Dark Pyramid of Sorcerer’s Isle. The party traveled to the pyramid from the home of the resistance in Denlor’s Tower at the behest of the Lord Sage. There they found not only the cult, but agents of the Red Wizards, both trying to claim it for their own. Allying with some of the mutant lizard folk trapped within, the adventurers were able to deal with both groups and the slaadi who were corrupting the power of the tower to bring the chaos stuff of limbo into Faerun. The spread of polluting chaos of the pyramid was stopped.

Acting on a intelligence that the dragon Throstulgrael was visiting Vorgansharax, Rolk contacted the characters in DDEX1-12 Raiders of the Twilight Marsh. If the dragon was in Phlan, it was not in its lair and its horde was unprotected. Rolk sent to the characters to a lizard folk contact who claimed to know the location of the lair. The party found the contact was the lizard king Bogclaw whose tribe has recently been attacked by Throstulgrael, only furthering his desire to direct them to the dragon’s lair. On the way to the lair, the party crossed paths with two of three hag sisters whose third sister has been taken hostage by the dragon. The characters traded with the hags, making a number of deals for strange things that the characters thought had no value. Only the Harper who had previously dealt with King Witchthorn was refused, being told they no longer had what the hags wanted. The adventurers found their way to the lair in the ruins of the Hall of the Black Bull, where a demonic cult once flourished. Here the characters freed a number of prisoners, including the missing hag, from a band of kobolds and trolls. Eventually the characters were confronted by a returning Throstulgrael. During the combat the black dragon underwent a ritual and was turned into a dracolich and left, no longer concerned with the petty annoyances of the adventurers. The threat of Throstulgrael remains unresolved.

The resistance’s hideaway of Denlor’s Tower had been taken by the forces of Vorgansharax at the open of DDEX1-13 Pool of Radiance Resurgent. The resistance had relocated to Grimshackle Jail north of Phlan. There the characters learned that a group of cultists was being dispatched from Phlan, lead by Ixusaxa Terrorsong, to recover some powerful magic item. Unsure of their purpose the adventurers followed them north to a crater in the Ticklebelly Hills at the foot of the Dragonspine Mountains. Fighting their way past the orcs of the Burning Banner tribe and their chieftain Narle Shieldbiter, the adventurers found their way into the crater where they found the Cult’s party dealing with a stone giant over the Pool of Radiance! In the battle that ensued the giant was defeated but Ixusaxa once again fled. This time she bore a sample of the Pool back to Vorgansharax. In the days following Ixusaxa’s return, the Maimed Virulence has been acting strangely seeking information of the outside world and current events that he should already know. At this time, the Cult’s forces made a stronger push to eliminate the resistance and Vorgansharax sealed off the town with a magical thicket.

With DDEX1-14 Escape from Phlan it became clear that the defenders of Phlan do not have the numbers to retake the town, nor the resources to care for all the refugees. The time had come to seek aid elsewhere but before they could leave, the characters were dispatched into the town to rescue three key citizens that would be crucial if Phlan was to have a future:  Madame Freona, The Lord Sage, and Jhessail Greycastle of the Black Fist. Using a teleportation circle in Sokol Keep, the characters breached the thicket and made their way into the city where they also encountered Ellison Berenger the scroll thief who had escape the prison during the coup. Ellison, like many other citizens of Phlan, joined with the characters as they stealthily rescued all three of the prominent citizens. Fleeing the occupied city, the characters, along with the refugees, began the several month journey to Mulmaster where they hoped to find aid.

So ends the first season of the D&D Adventurers League, but the saga continues.







Greg Marks
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Author: Greg Marks

Greg Marks is an evil mastermind directing his criminal army of precocious felines from the birthplace of gaming: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. He and his cat minions have worked on products for multiple editions of Dungeons and Dragons including Complete Scoundrel, City of Stormreach and Dragon Magic.

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