#12: Princes of the Apocalypse, part #3
This week I will be covering Twenty Sided Store D&D Encounters sessions 4 & 5. If you are reading for the first time, you might want to read the articles in consecutive order starting with #10 Princes of the Apocalypse, part 1.
At this point in the story, it is very important to begin revealing major clues to the players so they can start to make informed decisions about what direction they would like to go next. I want to start building this up over several sessions so that Team DM has enough time to prepare subsequent sessions based on the choices the players make, rather than railroading the direction. This method does create quite a bit of work on the part of Master DM, but it does have a great pay off for your players and DMs in the end.
The key to making this work is to reveal information using the environment and NPC interactions. DMs will want to make sure the information revealed is ambiguous so there is room to mold the facts based on what happened at other tables. This is the part where communication with Team DM can get tricky, especially when managing a large group of DMs.
Ideally, each DM will choose a direction that is most interesting to them personally. That DM will then start dropping those clues and hints during the next few sessions. Each DM will hopefully reveal different information. When it comes time to pick a direction, we will gather all the players from all the tables and have them share their information, debate, and then decide together on the course of action they want to take next.
It is totally possible that players will not pick up on clues, or DMs will forget to start planting the seeds. I suggest that at the start of every session the Master DM makes a few announcements to the whole group recapping the known information pertaining to the main story threads. This will not only remind your players, but it will fill in new players joining in, and remind your DMs what has been revealed so far by other DMs as well.
In the first three sessions players became familiar with Red Larch, the people of the town, and their faction contacts. When the players learned that the town was being corrupted by Larrakh, who used the moving stones to manipulate the Believers, they tried to put a stop to it. The Believers who committed murders faced trial for their wrongdoings, but Larrakh had gotten away. Once the players felt the constable had the situation under control, they travelled south of Red Larch to Bargewright Inn to do a friend a favor.
Session # 4 – Bargewright Inn
This is the first time the players have really left Red Larch. The Bargewright Inn has many merchants and smugglers passing through as it is very close to Womford and the Desserin River. Using this Side Trek is a great opportunity to reveal more information about the Desserin Valley and start to put other locations on the map.
While the players uncover the mystery of the current situation at the Inn, they have the opportunity to learn about what else these NPCs might know that could tie in some of our story threads. In the adventure, the Bargewright Inn event solely focuses on what has been stolen from the Inn, but we used this as an opportunity to tie the Womford Rats to the stolen goods from Yartar. This gave the Inn Keeper reasons to want to escort his own supply run from Waterdeep, since supplies from Yartar were not making it down River. We also had Larrakh’s name in the guest book, so anyone on his trail could discover that he had passed through and stayed at the Inn recently. Some merchants in the common room could be overheard discussing some very valuable Dwarven Books and other items. The players could figure out they were stolen from the Missing Delegation and were sold at the market in Womford not too long ago.
End – Players learn who is behind the theft at the Inn and believe the Womford Rats may be connected.
Session #4 Beat
- Bargewright Inn – players arrive and meet Nalaskur who informs them about the keys and what is currently in the store rooms that needs protection.
- Players learn that the keys and gold have been stolen from the Inn and that someone might be trying to frame someone else.
- Players investigate and try to resolve the issue before Nalaskur returns in a tenday.
- During their investigations, players learn more information than expected that connects to the larger story threads. Larrakh’s name is in the guest book. Stolen Items from missing shipments from Yartar are being sold at the markets in Womford. A trader in Womford was selling Dwarven Books that match the description of those the Missing Delegation was carrying. The Delegation was headed South down the Desserin River towards Summit Hall and were last seen in Beliard.
- When Nalaskur returns, the players inform him what has happened.
- Nalaskur tells them about the shady deals in Womford, if they have not already picked up the clues from patrons of the Inn, or investigating goods stashed in the Inn’s storerooms.
What Was Covered
- Bargewright Inn [HC pg. 31]
- New Management [HC pg. 163]
Session #5 – Womford
After the players investigated the shady activity at the Bargewright Inn, they learned information that would lead them to investigate further connections in Womford. This location is overwhelmed by Pirates and Smugglers, who definitely would not take kindly to the meddling of do-gooder adventurers.
I wanted to use this location as way to confirm some of the players suspicions and provide an opportunity for the entire group of players to make a decision about what they wanted to do next. At this point the players know the delegation was last seen in Beliard, but had not made it this far south. They heard that Larrakh may have passed through Womford so they could continue to chase him down. They could also find out more about the missing books and the stolen goods from Yartar.
End – Players deal with the Romford Rats, find themselves lead into a trap that they have to get themselves out of, and learn that the shipments and Larrakh have already shipped out.
Session #5 Beat
- Arrive in Womford, get immersed in the smell and climate and people.
- Investigate the lead on the missing books & Larrakh.
- Find out about Gorm, Herek and Shadnil (clues to Rivergard Keep).
- Find out about Darreth who vanished a tenday ago from the villagers who are worried about him and witnesses who can describe the symbol the kidnappers wore on their robes.
- Hear all kinds of wild rumors about the Womford Rats.
- Shoalar hears about the Adventurers snooping around and sends Pike to meet with them.
- Pike leads them into a trap.
- They met Shoalar and learn about the pay off.
- They are able to link the smuggled goods from Yartar, the dwarven books, and Larrakh all having passed through this location, as the Genasi and his crew had recently ferried the goods across the river by Keelboats and sold a boat to Larrakh. Learn about all the possible locations in the Desserin Valley that are of interest as a possible lead to where Larrakh might be going, or where the Womford Rats might be smuggling the goods to.
What Was Covered
- Womford (HC pg. 39)
- Womford Rats (HC pg. 43 – 44)
Players will need to decide what to do next. Will they continue to explore more towns in the South or start heading North to Beliard? Will they return to Red Larch to report to their Faction Contacts first, or leave straight away? Will they take the road, the River, or travel the open wilderness? A player vote will determine what happens next and what team DM will plan in the following sessions. Stay Tuned to find out what happens in Session 6 & 7.
Dear Master Dungeon Master,
If one of the tables that I am running has players from many different factions how should I manage that? It is the first time that I am running a sanctioned campaign. In previous campaigns, I tried to keep players all on the same side. (I have 6 players, one of each faction and 2 members of the Gauntlet)
It is ok for all of your players to choose different factions. In most cases players choose factions based on their backgrounds. The important thing to remember is that all of the factions are on the same side and are working together. Each faction has independent goals that make them unique in the reasons behind the decisions they make.
In the elemental evil campaign each faction knows about a different item that the Missing Delegation was carrying and what its purpose is. As the players are uncovering clues, you can have players of different factions learn different things which will encourage the players of different factions to share information and work together to overcome obstacles.
Need advice? Want to share something cool you are doing for your store? Have any comments? Don’t be shy… Ask Master Dungeon Master!