Last session was pretty emotional; it was Joe’s last one with us as his new job will conflict with our normal Monday evenings, and it was time to say goodbye to Bosun Barry Arrers… would he die gloriously retaking his old hometown of Thundertree, or would his efforts be in vain?
In Attendance: Loki Fastfoot (Darryl), Bosun Barry Arrers (Joe), Grimdark Stonelock (Trev), Carick “Mouse” Silverfrost (Liam)
Although Sildar and Gundren were eager for the group to make a move on the Forge of Spells, there was one last thing they needed to do before that; take back the town of Thundertree, which had been evacuated decades ago following a volcanic eruption, zombies, mutant plant monsters, blah blah. Also, Loki’s aunt had asked him to track down Reidoth the druid who was last known to be in Thundertree, plus there were promises of treasure from Mirna, whose family had owned a shop in the town and had hidden their valuables in the cellar. They loaded up Mr Redbrand, and they were set to go! But before that, we had a laugh piling on the cliches for Barry. Elsa approached him as they were about to head off.
“Barry, don’t go! I have a bad feeling about this!”
“In that case, I’ll do this one last job! Then we can get married and everything will be perfect and lovely forever!”
“And we’re going to go on that fishing trip when you get back, right Uncle Barry?”
“We sure are Timmy, we sure are!”
So off they toddle to Thundertree.
Upon arrival to the town, Reidoth the druid spots them from his lookout, and recognising Loki, he approaches them and warns them of the dangers to the town. Aside from the zombies and some giant spiders, there’s also some cultists… and a dragon. A young one, but still… dragon. I’d decided to take the twig blights out of the Thundertree adventure; these monsters are annoying pests who would pose no threat to the heroes and would only slow down play if included.
Reidoth also mentions that he’s seen a strange one-eyed creature around the ruins of the town, but he’s given it a wide berth. Yeah, guess who’s back after escaping the Redbrand lair…
Reidoth informs the heroes that the cultists are on the far side of the town, and the dragon has taken the old wizard’s tower as its lair. The group circles back round the town and approaches from the east side.
Upon arriving in the town square, Barry points out the grand statue of the legendary folk hero Palien, spear raised to the sky in triumph.
“That’ll be me up there one day.”
Oh, how cruel those words are in hindsight.
They break into the old barracks (the northern-most building) and easily dispatch the zombies inside. The zombie’s undead fortitude ability makes them tough to put down permanently with conventional weapons, but Grimdark’s sacred flame spell saves the day.
They then head south to the large farmhouse. Grimdark and Mouse head to the south door, while Barry and Loki take the north. Hoping to charm his way into the midst of the cultists, Barry knocks on the door and professes his urge to join the cult. He’s told to fuck off. Mouse immediately goes to Plan B, and uses thunderwave to smash down the back door (killing two cultists and KO’ing a third with the flying door), then steps inside and incinerates the rest with burning hands. Well, shit.
They question the remaining cultist, and he says that they were going to approach the dragon in the tower and offer tribute, because they’re the Cult of the Dragon and that’s sort of their whole deal. What they were going to do after that is kinda up in the air.
1. Make alliance with dragon.
Barry has the amazing/terrible (delete where appropriate) idea of masquerading as one of the cultists to try and trick the dragon. As he’s tugging on a set of dragon cosplay robes, the nothic shows up at the door. It remembers the group as the ones who gave it food and shinies, and they immediately start throwing silver coins to it to appease it. After a quick round of negotiation with their old acquaintance, they persuade it to help them in the fight against the dragon in return for the entire hoard.
“Oooo, lots of shinies for me! Fine, I help you. Call when you have need!” And off it scampers.
Finished with the cultists (stopping to grab the tribute of diamonds and the potion of flight that the leader had), the gang take a quick detour to wreck the shit out of some giant spiders and find Mirna’s family treasure, before they decide to head towards the tower.
Barry, in his borrowed dragon cultist costume, swigs the potion of flight and takes to the air. The others hide in the undergrowth near the tower.
“Dragon! Show yourself, mighty one, so that I may offer you riches!”
Sure enough, the young green dragon Venomfang stirs from his slumber and flies to the top of the wrecked tower.
“Amusing. The mammals can fly, when they have a mind for it. I accept your riches, silly little flying monkey.”
Barry throws the dragon the diamonds, and it adds them to the hoard.
“Now that you have taken my riches, perhaps you could leave this town?”
“Hmm. No. No, I don’t think so. I’m rather fond of it here. Now off with you, little flying money, before I lose my temper.”
“Yeah… well… ummm… fuck your face!” *fires bow*
And so we have a dragon fight!
This fight was amazing. They called on their nothic buddy who scampered in to pelt the dragon with its rotting gaze ability, Grimdark had his spiritual weapon flying around, Mouse was throwing out an almost endless salvo of magic missiles, and Loki was going all Matrix-style with his dual hand crossbows. On top of that, Barry was flying around and taking pot shots while Venomfang chased him in the air, trying to grab him with his jaws or claws, or blast him with his poisonous breath (I tweaked this down to 7d6 damage rather than the absurd 14d6 stated in the book; I wanted a fight, not a TPK!).
Grimdark and Loki rushed up the tower stairs so they could get closer to the dragon to chop it up. Barry lured Venomfang over, then doubled back and grabbed onto it, and starting stabbing it with his trident, Tested. Then Loki jumped on as well, and suddenly Venomfang had two heroes riding him! He managed to dislodge Loki, then took a swipe at Grimdark, who went flying onto the cottage roof, down to 0 HP. Barry broke off to stabilise the dying dwarf while Loki, Mouse and the nothic continued to bombard the dragon, whittling away its HP. However, Venomfang fought back, and sent the nothic tumbling down off the tower into its hoard. The nothic, mesmerised by all the gold, was out of the fight, despite the shouts from its “friends”.
Barry shouted to Mouse or Loki to get a healing potion down Grimdark’s throat, but the halfling was once again participating in a spot of dragon riding. With a shrug and no doubt a rueful shake of his head, Barry took to the skies again, trident and shield in hand. Mouse broke from cover and sprinted to the tower, getting halfway up the staircase. Unfortunately, Venomfang was also there, and recognising Mouse as the one who’d been pelting him with magic missiles, chomped the elf. A critical hit was a one-hit KO, and now there were two of the company down. Venomfang was wounded too, and enraged; common sense would’ve been to fly off and fight another day, but these mammals had hurt him badly, and now he had only murder on the mind.
The dragon knocked Loki off, and the halfling fell, but managed to grab the side of the tower. Venomfang, still with Barry on its back stabbing away, rose higher and higher into the air. Barry’s potion of flight had worn off, but he kept passing his saving throws to hang on, and kept plunging Tested over and over again into the dragon’s back, drawing roars of pain from it.
We put down the rulebooks and the dice, and got the wine out. Barry’s final act of heroism was approaching.
Venomfang managed to grab Barry in one of its claws, and held him in front of its face.
“You worm! You insect! After I have destroyed you and your pathetic friends, I will rain your torn corpses down upon the towns and villages of this land so that none may doubt my power! They will fear me! They will wail and plead for mercy, and I will show none, and it is all your doing! Now… die!”
With that, the dragon flung Barry to the earth. But Bosun Barry Arrers had one last shot left.
As he fell, he hurled Tested, that stupid trident that he’d bought on a whim with the earnings of his first real adventuring job. Despite not being as trustworthy as his bow, and nowhere as glamorous as Talon, it was still his favoured weapon.
Tested flew straight and true, and went into Venomfang’s gaping, bleeding maw, and out the other side, taking fragments of bone and brain with it. The dragon ceased its tirade, and fell to the ground like a ton of bricks.
As for Barry? He landed right where he’d always wanted to be, in a manner of speaking.
Barry Bosun Arrers died, impaled, on the ascendant spear of the his childhood hero Palien.
His friends recovered from their wounds, and recovered his body. They slew the nothic in a moment of cold, righteous fury. If it had continued to fight rather than succumb to its greed, Barry may still have been alive. Loki took a fang from the dead dragon and an ear from the nothic (we all cope with loss in different ways after all), and Mouse took stock of the dragon’s hoard while Grimdark said last rites over Barry’s body. Reidoth the druid approached them, and said he’d seen the whole thing. He said that he’d let the others of his order know of Barry’s great sacrifice.
They laid Barry to rest in a small clearing not far from Thundertree, burying him with his bow. Talon would go to his unborn child. Tested would rest – along with the skull of the dragon Venomfang – above the hearth of their pub, now renamed Barry’s Barrel Room.
By this point, the wine bottle was nearly empty, and we felt that we’d said a fine farewell not only to Barry Arrers, but also to our good friend and gaming partner Joe.
The journey back to Phandalin passed uneventfully. As they arrived back in town, Elsa ran to them, tear-streaked. While the group had been away, Sildar, Gundren and Iarno had all been murdered, the map to Wave Echo Cave was missing, and the elven barmaid Aelya was nowhere to be found.
As they took stock of the news, she asked the question they’d all been dreading.
Completed Quests: Seek out Reidoth the druid in the ruined town of Thundertree, find Mirna’s family heirloom in Thundertree.
Ongoing Quests: Go to Wave Echo Cave, find the Forge of Spells, get vengeance for your friends, and kill the Black Spider.
Ears Collected: Nothic
Dragons Killed: 1
Heroes Slain: 1
Excuse me I have something in my eye.