Hoard of the Dragon Queen review: ep5 Construction Ahead

Just a short episode, and this one is the ‘espionage’ one, clocking in at only three pages plus art.

Spoil… Oh you know the rest…

So the caravan stops at Waterdeep for a day giving the party a chance to stake out the baddies and plan next steps. There’s some Realms exposition here: the road north has been succumbing to the expanding marshes, but the new boss of Neverwinter has been pushing to build new roads. So, work parties and equipment regularly leave Waterdeep to get to the road-head. This is the parties ‘in’ to get on board the latest leg of the haul to the as yet undisclosed final stop of the loot train.

The single location for the bulk of this episode is a reclaimed roadhouse, run by a ‘burly half-Orc’ called Bog Luck (still not going overboard on characterisation then. Not even an illo). This is where the caravan stops and unloads for the duration, giving the party the chance to put the whole operation under surveillance.

The goods are taken through a secret tunnel by lizardfolk allies at night. That’s the secret, and the info that the party needs.

The episode assumes that this will be done by stealth, with eavesdropping, burglary and ninja skills. Maybe I’m just a jaded old DM but, as with the last episode, I have a feeling you’ll be rolling initiative before too long. In fact, one of the cultists aggressively pursues a showdown at one point. I’m still not sure what it is that’s stopping the whole thing turning into a massacre. To be honest it might be one of those occasions where the DM just has to break the fourth wall and say ‘listen guys, you need to approach this one quietly, just trust me.’ Shame, but there it is.

This episode doesn’t result in a level up, as it’s potentially quite short. That said, it’s also potentially a great session if everyone gets into the right frame of mind and action. It’s probably going to involve some characters more than others, but in the hands of an agile DM this could be a tight and interesting session. I approve.

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