For those who don’t know the Hoard of the Dragon Queen module from Wizards of the Coast is pretty brutal. Right of the starting gate characters can and have been killed during the intro session when players find themselves rushing to aid a city under siege by an army of mercenaries, kobolds, and literally a dragon! Now I don’t hate this module by any stretch of the imagination, as a matter of fact I like it quite a bit. I know there is fair amount of hate out there because some players and DMs felt that the module forced players down a chute where death was the most likely outcome.
This to me is an example of why adventure modules need good DMs behind them. You need someone whose going to read through it, consider the party, and adjust the game as needed. When I ran our first session for the podcast I made some changes and adjusted the adventure to make it less lethal, while still keeping things challenging. We were playing with a party of five and nearly all of their characters were combat focused. One of them almost died within the the first minute of the first encounter.
There are tons of great bloggers out there who provide tips for running this module, so there’s already a wealth of information available online if you want to tweak the adventure. You could also listen to our playthrough if you want to see what changes I made myself. What I want to propose is different than simply altering the adventure.
Run the module as written and lets say your entire party dies or only one or two characters makes it out alive shall we? Now that might frustrate some players but assuming everyone is game for more have them whip up new characters with direct links to the old ones, and the survivor can join up with the new party. Now the new player characters have a direct link to the previous events and an obvious reason for wanting to pursue the antagonists. Obviously preface that first game by warning players that the module you’re running is going to be lethal, don’t just spring it on them. You might consider bumping the second group of player characters up to level three as well just to give them a bit of buffer against another party wipe.
Anyway that was just a thought that came into my head and I thought it might be worth sharing.
Here’s a link to episode one of our playthrough of Hoard of the Dragon Queen if you’re interested: http://outofcharacter.buzzsprout.com/13127/282736-episode-29-hoard-of-the-dragon-queen-part-1