Early in Princes of the Apocalypse it is repeatedly suggested that the Sumber Hills have been experiencing unusual weather lately. To reinforce that theme, I developed a set of random unusual weather tables for use while running the adventure.
Random Unusual Weather In Sumber Hills
Roll once per day on each of the tables below to determine how the weather is out of the ordinary. With these tables, there is around a 41% that some sort of strange weather will happen on a given day. If results happen too frequently or infrequently, the DM should feel free to reroll or just decide that something does or does not happen.
The DM can decide that unusual weather happens at any time during the day, or at multiple times, depending on what makes the most sense with the results on the table and what the PCs are doing. A sudden thunderstorm can break up an otherwise uneventful day of travel, or disrupt a night camping under the stars forcing the PCs to find shelter.
The duration of the events are also up to the DM’s discretion and what makes the most sense with the results rolled. For instance, unseasonable hot or cold temperatures might last throughout the day (and return to normal the next day), but a tornado is more likely a single event. Because later events in the story tend to amplify the weather and produce greater, longer effects, it’s probably best to keep these random strange weather events limited to a smaller period of time: a sudden, violent storm that develops quickly and stop just as abruptly a few minutes or an hour later; a series of small tremors that last a few minutes and then stop.
Connections To Random Encounters
There are several random encounters (p.30) that, when paired with an appropriate weather event, can help get across the idea that the strange weather is tied to the various cults. For instance, a sudden violent downpour may indicate that nearby is a group of water cultists (“Water cult marauders” encounter) gathered at the shore of a small pond upon which as water priest is conducting a rite of Olhydra. If you roll for random encounters and unusual weather at the start of the day, and both occur, feel free to let one inform the other, e.g., if the random weather is tremors, then instead of using the random encounter rolled, change it to something involving the earth cult (and include a priest or other magic user). Or if the random encounter is fire cult related and something came up when you rolled for random weather, change the weather to unusually high temperatures in the area around the encounter.
Be prepared for your players to draw the wrong conclusions about random strange weather. For instance, if you randomly roll up tremors the same day that they make it to Feathergale Spire, they’ll probably think the Feathergale Knights were responsible. You could mitigate this by having the strange weather correlate more closely with the Haunted Keep that best reflects it (i.e. high winds near Feathergale Spire, downpours closer to Rivergard Keep) but the randomness of the weather and its possible lack of correlation with places the PCs visit may also help hint at the fact that there is something larger happening and many factions at work.
I used the Weather table (DMG p109) as a starting point for this set of tables. You could easily include the light wind/precipitation from the DMG tables in the ones I published above; I opted not to for simplicity and to accentuate abruptness of the unusual weather.
If you plan to run Hoard of the Dragon Queen with miniatures, here are a few suggestions on what you might use and how many you’ll need in Chapter 1. The counts are based on the maximum number you’re likely to need at one time, not the total that appear in the chapter.
Castellan Escobert the Red
Dwarf Maulfighter (Desert of Desolation 4).
Unfortunately, this miniature doesn’t have a red beard.
Unless, of course, you repaint it.
Village Priest (Angelfire 12).
Governor Tarbaw Nighthill
Purple Dragon Knight (Dragoneye 7) or
Dragon Knight (Dungeon Command: Heart of Cormyr)
Langdedrosa Cyanwrath, Half-Blue Dragon
Half-Red Dragon Fighter (Tyranny of Dragons 36).
You’ll just have to pretend he’s blue. There don’t appear to be any good prepainted miniature options for a half-blue dragon/dragonborn short of painting one yourself.
Lennithon, Adult Blue Dragon
Blue Dragon (D&D Attack Wing).
Although a bit small, I like the Attack Wing version of this Blue Dragon because it can be made to fly high over the battlefield by adding multiple pegs (something that’s not possible with the Tyranny of Dragons version).
Linan Swift, her husband, and children
Healer (Archfiends 9)
Man with Hoe (Reaper Townsfolk V)
Townsfolk Children (Reaper)
These reaper minis are metal, not plastic.
Human Fighter (Dungeons of Dread 35 or 4eGD4/5 Promo)
Doomdreamer (Legendary Evils 11) or
Cultist of the Dragon (Archfiends 48)
Ambush Drake (x2)
Guard Drake (Tyranny of Dragons 22).
There is no official 5th Edition Ambush Drake miniature, but the Ambush Drake will do in a pinch. And for the ambitious, you can always repaint it.
Doomguard (Bloodwar 47)
Shadar-Kai Warrior (Lord of Madness 42)
The cultists are described as not wearing any particular regalia and are made up of, at least in part, mercenaries. These minis seem to fit the bill.
Cult of the Dragon Enforcer (Tyranny of Dragons 20)
Mostly matches the picture on page 71 of Hoard of the Dragon Queen, makes you wonder why the miniature got a different name.
Prisoner (Promo repaint D&DC54) or
Prisoner (Night Below 40)
Caravan Guard (Angelfire 1)
Keep Defenders (x20+)
Sharn Redcloak (Demonweb 44)
Human Town Guard (Lords of Madness 22)
Dalelands Militia (Archfiends 2)
Greyhawk City Militia Sergeant (Night Below 13)
Human Crossbowman (Dragoneye 5)
City Guard (Giants of Legend 23)
A selection of guard miniatures to man the battlements of the keep. Want their stats to match the minis? Add the following to the Guard statblock:
Armor Class: 16 (chain shirt, shield) or 14 (no shield).
Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8 + 1) piercing damage.
Glaive/Halberd. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 10ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d10 + 1 slashing damage).
Crossbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, range 80/320ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8 + 1) piercing damage.
Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8 + 1 slashing damage or 6 (1d10 + 1) slashing damage if used two-handed.
Kobold Slinger (DDM4 27)
Kobold Fighter (Tyranny of Dragons 5)
Kobold Soldier (Angelfire 44)
Kobold Skirmisher (Dragoneye 35)
A majority of the time you won’t need more than 5 or so kobolds, but the “Sanctuary” mission involves 22. Although the Kobold stat block is statted out with slings and daggers, I chose to include minis bearing spears/javelins and bows for variety.
If you want the stats to match the minis, just add the following:
Javelin. Melee or Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5ft or range 30/120, one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.
Shortbow/Crossbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 80/320, one target. Hit: 5 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.
Winged Kobold (x1)
Dragonwrought Kobold(Dragon Queen 32)
Swarms of Rats (x2)
Rat Swarm (Pathfinder Skull & Shackles 2) or
Rat Swarm (Savage Encounters 28)
I prefer the paint job and the sculpt of the Pathfinder miniature, but the flatter D&D mini makes it possible to slip the figure underneath another when they’re sharing the same space.
Anirion Wood Elf (Reaper Bones)
Balto Burrowell Gnome Wizard (Reaper Bones)
Juliette Female Sorceress (Reaper Bones)
Lem Iconic Bard (Reaper Bones)
Mother With Children (Reaper Bones)
Townsfolk: Innkeeper (Reaper Bones)
Townsfolk: Blacksmith (Reaper Bones)
Townsfolk: Grandmother (Reaper Bones)
Townsfolk: Village Rioter (Reaper Bones)
Townsfolk: Strumpet (Reaper Bones)
Townsfolk: Undertaker (Reaper Bones)
Townsfolk: Wench (Reaper Bones)
Man with Hoe (Reaper Townsfolk V)
Man with Sickle (Reaper Townsfolk VIII: Village Mob)
Woman with Rolling Pin (Reaper Townsfolk VIII: Village Mob)
Man with Pitch Fork (Reaper Townsfolk VIII: Village Mob)
The Reaper Bones minis are great for when you need to throw in a few townsfolk (“Seek the Keep”, “Wandering Encounters”, “Sanctuary”). Since they are unnamed NPCs I just use the unpainted miniatures.
The non-Bones minis in the list are made of metal.
If you’re planning on running Hoard of the Dragon Queen and using miniatures, you might considering drawing the encounter locations in Chapter 1 on a wet or dry erase battlemat. To make things easier, I’ve taken the map of Greenest found in the adventure and overlaid a grid to use as a reference for drawing. Each square is 5 feet by 5 feet. The map comes in two versions: one with an all black grid, and a second with a semi-transparent black grid. Both are linked below.