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My players have saved Thundertree for last

Rumors of there being a Dragon in the area enough to provide them caution.

They have cleared the Mine, driven away the bad guys, and found every existing magic item except one.

Of note, one has the Dragonguard armor that grants advantage against breath weapons.

They have been level 4 since entering the Mine, not quite level 5 however, obtaining level 5 only at the END of this adventure, this encounter/area included within that variable exp amount. They all took average HP each level up and are competent though not yet always tactical combatants. They know thier strengths, not how to compensate for weaknesses.

The party includes:

  • A Goliath Totem Barbarian
  • A human Vengeance Paladin
  • A Gnome Assassin Rogue
  • A Gnome who is a Divination Wizard, and
  • A Human Life Cleric in heavy armor.

The party is not meant to kill Venomfang, only wound it enough to send it fleeing and survive long enough to do such. My concern is their survival given the CR, damage potential, and breath weapon of Venomfang. I could normally fudge rolls...or not even roll at all...to ensure proper tension while still allowing survival in this encounter that will link them directly to Tyranny of Dragons; but we use a Virtual Tabletop and have asked that I don't hide my rolls. Letting the dice fall where they will with no "divine intervention".

A Flameskull nearly took them out while inside the Mine....with my fudge option taken from me, what chance do they have at bringing Venomfang to 1/2 HP?

Venomfang is a Young Green Dragon with 160 HP and an 18 AC with a Breath Attack that would be devastating in the tight tower that serves as it's lair: The dragon exhales poisonous gas in a 30-foot cone. Each creature in that area must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw, taking 42 (12d6) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one. 42 (provided I take the average) is enough to kill all except the Barbarian. Hence my conflict.

To add clarity to what I'm asking, as it has seemingly been found unclear:

Can this level 4 party survive long enough to drive off or slay Venomfang?

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marked as duplicate by Dale M dnd-5e Jul 17 '17 at 4:29

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Please answer in answers, not in comments. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk Jan 20 '17 at 2:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ I read the edit time stamps for both these questions and mine was asked nearly a year prior to the quoted 'duplicate' ...unless I misread the time stamps. Even a misreading shows mine asked in January and that one in March. Perhaps why it is only now being marked duplicate? \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Jul 17 '17 at 5:52
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You are the Dragon, you can let the party off easily without fudging dice

It all depends on your tactics and how (in)effectively you carry them out. The dragon is young and inexperienced with fighting humanoids, use that to your players' advantage.

Here's what I did when my group faced the Dragon:

(Un)spread out the Damage

My group had no healer, once a character was down, he stays out for the fight. The best thing to do, in my situation, is spread out the attacks (Bite and claws) throughout the party. Make sure to target the Barbarian with the bite as it deals more damage, then you can hit 2 other characters with the 2 claws. This way, the individuals in the group stay on their feet for longer and are therefore able to deal more damage before going down.

For your group, as you have a healer, I recommend doing the exact opposite. Take one party member down (don't kill him once he's down, though) with all 3 attacks and let the cleric heal him so he gets back up. Remember to change targets once that character goes unconscious, it might seem that you're bullying one specific member if you don't. Watch the initiative order, whoever goes just after the healer is the best target if you don't want any of the PCs losing a turn, then switch up to the next guy in initiative after he goes down.

This also goes for your breath weapon. Make sure that the dragon's breath hits only 2 people, at most. Be as ineffective as you can be with the breath weapon, perhaps the Dragon is particularly angry at the last guy who landed a hit, or shouted a taunt at him. The dragon then ignores the 3 PCs that are nicely clumped in another corner to unleash his breath on the lone guy.

(De)prioritize targets

A smart Dragon would kill the Healer first, and since you're hell-bent on not killing the PCs, hit the Barbarian first. Thanks to Rage, he can take a lot of punishment before going down so don't worry about hitting him too hard. Use the Barbarian to tank the damage, he will feel really strong and your PCs will survive long enough to take down the Dragon!

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Can they? Certainly. Mine did.

To be fair it required them to encounter the hermit druid and the cultists beforehand. By wiping the latter out and assuming their guise, they lured the dragon off its tower and with the help of a lucky crit from the paladin, and didn't just drive it off, they finished it.

That, however, I would consider a rare and unlikely outcome. With preparation and an escape plan, the party might be equal to the task of driving the dragon away. If it takes them by surprise, prepare for carnage.

So, don't be scared to forewarn the PC's (there are any number of ways). Otherwise, the simplest advice is simply to have your own DM escape route planned, should everything go south for the PC's. Perhaps the druid pops in to help. Perhaps the dragon simply doesn't want to kill the PC's, and turns them over to the cultists.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ When you say it required them encountering the Druid, Reidoth, what do you mean? I see nothing (as written that is) in the adventure that offers the group any assistance upon locating him than if they had not located him. Which isn't to say we, as DM's , can't change that. Just curious what you meant. \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Jan 19 '17 at 18:00
  • \$\begingroup\$ I certainly hope they find the Cultists first; as that is my primary segue way into the Tyranny of Dragons adventure arc. They did it with the Redbrands, I hope they do the same with the Cultist outfits. There is plenty foreshadowing that perhaps they should have a plan for this dragon. A sign posted by Reidoth, two very dead Giant Spiders near its lair.... I hope they get the hint lol \$\endgroup\$ – Airatome Jan 19 '17 at 18:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ By "required" I meant that it was a prerequisite of the lucky outcome they achieved. If they had just blundered into town without a care in the world, things would almost certainly have gone differently. By meeting the druid first, and getting a warning from him, and by encountering the cultists afterward, and listening in on their plans, they got a pretty clear idea of what they were up against. glhf :) \$\endgroup\$ – Neil B Jan 20 '17 at 9:25

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