So this session went a little… off.
The purpose of this chapter of Hoard of the Dragon Queen is for the characters to find out about the flying castle that is transporting the hoard. If you read some other reviews, likely they will mention this is just a filler chapter–yes, you can meet some interesting non-player characters, but most likely you will just kill them. So our party decided to storm this place because there was no clear direction on where else to go.
Inside, we climb to the second level and meet Talis the White, a minor villain who is willing to work with us to further her own goals. We ask questions, she tries to convince us to join forces, and we decide to leave the room and “Pharblex”–our way of saying “Jenga”. Please watch Critical Role if you do not understand that reference.
Here comes the plot armor.
In the split second it takes for us to exit the room and blanket the room in spell damage, the villains have jumped out the window, closed the door, and crossed 100 feet to the teleportation circles. Where I am expecting a stand-up fight at this point, but instead the villains will escape without so much as a scratch. So my character casts thunderwave, pushes the guard standing at the door away, and jumps out the window. I ask the DM what my character sees. He says that he does not want to tell me because it will affect the actions of the other characters. Now I have gone from annoyed to really annoyed. I told him to tell me in secret and then my character can convey what is happening to the rest of the party.
Let me stop here a moment. Some DMs get frustrated and make mistakes, however, this DM was clearly showing frustration and cheating in order to get what he wanted. I have no problems with DMs stacking the deck, making characters work for a prize, and running a challenge–but cheating? DMs can already control the entire world, not following the rules set out just annoys me–everyone play by the same rules or do not play. Go frustrate the characters, but when you do that to the players, problems arise.
Moving on. Through the previous conversation, we find out where we need to go–the village of Parnast–but on a DC 24 Survival check, we cannot find the path. The DM turns to me and says “that’s in the book”. No it is not. What is the point of cheating here? The characters need to move on from this scene since the enemies are all gone, we already got the clue that this chapters was meant to give, and no one is going to challenge the party as we move on. So finding a well-travelled path where wagons and heavily burdened pack animals carrying hoards of treasure takes a DC 25 because the DM was frustrated again? Punitive and petty. I rolled my eyes and mentally checked out. We passed the challenge because we stacked Bardic Inspiration and guidance and advantage together to roll a DC 27… and the DM said we get to move on. Yay for anti-climactic. Someone needs to listen to Gaming and BS and their GUMSHOE episode.
So any DMs out there reading this: check your ego at the door before the game. The players and characters are not against you, they are playing the story. If it affects you so much, you need to detach and play along with the game, rather than adversarial approach. I see way too many people DM in this manner, especially in public play. Shove the attitude and cheer on the players and characters, everyone has more fun that way.
Next session is a board game again.
Not much to say about my character at this point. I do not really get to play him as intended–he has turned more into a spellcaster than a self-healing tank. We are entering the flying castle, so hopefully we get to cross swords and spells at some point. Dragon, storm giant, an army of Cultists–I am of the mind to start a huge melee and see what happens.
But… what do I know…?