Session 1 Advice
In running this session, remember getting to the keep is the dramatic climax of the session. Combat is much quicker in 5e, but the still take time. Most of these early fights don’t last more than 2 or 3 rounds. Since the Monsters are more numerous than the PC’s you may need to device strategies to keep players in the game. (Get them to roll for you, preroll to speed up etc)
Although quicker you still will have limits if play time is restricted. We usually only get 2 hours max, due to the young age of our players, but, as a DM, you can help stretch the number of encounters by* encouraging* and rewarding roleplay solutions to encounters.
Try to play up the confusion. Villagers are being driven out of their homes but aside from a few evil kobolds the rest of the raiders are happy if the stay out of the way. Also the raiders are not a cohesive force. The mixture of genuine cultist, mercs, and kobolds allows players to play up to this. Players who actively use the confusion to gain advantage should be given it. No one expect anyone other than uniform town guard to be armed and dangerous, so player can use this to move easily until the gather too many town folk.
The designated initial mission, can be ditched or alterered if your players are already motivated to get to the keep, or think up a odd strategy. In one case They came across them in a house they had sheltered in, in another they used the river throughout and it became apparant I didn’t need it.
In our adventures the players are guards working for the Governers Cousin, who has offered them a finacial reward to make sure his cousin is safe. The rescue of town folk is not part of that contract. I also use the milestone leveling system.
Remember how weak 1st level PCs are. in 5e. Try not to target low AC characters too much. We all hate to massage die rolls, but it might need to happen if you run too many combats prior to getting to the keep( and beyond). If kobolds form part of the attacking party, you can always have some detach and set off for reinforcements, giving the party a chance to turn the tide, while keeping true to the lore of the enemies.
Most of your players will quite rightly focus on the dragon. Everyone knows a dragon that size is a deadly foe that out-matches everyone, but you may need to point this out to newbies, and the odd old hand. They meta-gamed by arguing that a real dragon is patently too high a level and this must either be an illusion of some ‘fake’ creature. You can either state the reality via perception checking (DC5 to spot it is real) or better yet have the dragon destroy a party of villagers right in front of the PC’s
Try to use the Dragon as an encourager to get the guys heading for the keep. If they are taking refuge in a building have the Dragon toast the neighbouring house to get them moving. Most o
I used the Dragon as a great dramatic device as the heroes and villagers headed for the keep doors. I asked for dexterity based Saving Throws as the Dragon attacked and they dive for cover inside the gatehouse, to wrack up the tension. If a PC misses, either have any NPC’s in the group take the hit instead or have a guard jump out and save the fledgling heroes at his own expense. Nothing like guilt to provided a heroic motivation.
As ist sessions go this is pretty spectacular. A full adult dragon and a burning town, joined by a mystery and