One of the things that I've never ceased to dislike about China is the appalling long school day. It's not conducive to being creative: just look at my AS class this afternoon. Bias in the media was the topic. "What do you think?" I asked. I should've said, "What? Do you think?" They had plenty of time to discuss the questions I put to them, but my exhortations to them last year to be creative and imaginative seem to have been forgotten over the summer.
Fortunately in spite of the school day here I managed to find the energy to finish off Test of Fire. It starts with Xerefri turning up in Sayre to fetch the heroes. The adventure makes much of the damage he causes, but rather than having the company remonstrate with him, I had some belligerent woman accosting him about his thoughtless damage to the town, which allowed him to explain insurance and its invention in Amn or the Nine Hells.
I didn't waste too much time taking the party to Keening Delve. I left the slaads out because they're a.) stupid frog monsters. Er, well… That's it! (And that's all the excuse I need.) In fact, I dispensed with all of the monsters in the Delve apart from the final group. The problem was that the monsters would simply attack anyone passing through the caves, which left me wondering how Bashumgarda's disloyal opposition could come and go without getting beaten up.
The narrowness of some of the passages was an issue, but I let the party employ stone-to-mud spells (not 4e?) so that they could all get through. There were places which were pointlessly narrow which I flagged as annoying. Nicoramus, who is a spirit troll, was not keen on jumping into a pool of elemental fire to enter the City of Brass.
I found Estumishu's demand that the party should assassinate Bashumgarda to be repetitive because this plot device had already been used in Tyranny of Souls. I also found it philosophically objectionable. If Estumishu wanted Bashumgarda dead, he should've done it himself or sent his people to do it. In effect, the PCs are being asked to replace one unelected tyrant of a foreign power with another.
I turned the journey across the City of Brass in series of skill challenges which involved Gunpowder telling some outrageous porkies. (Kingdom lied about his height and was Bashumgarda's top spy; Saecula had non-regulation breasts; Nicoramus wasn't visible enough.) All right, I'm not so keen on a lot of tedious fighting, preferring cunning to brutality. It only lasted until they entered the Furnace where some fighting was unavoidable although I let Gunpowder ask an afrît pyre master about how they got water into the City of Brass for visitors who might need it.
By the time the adventurers headed to the Pavilion of the Eternal Flame I'd forgotten that they'd aready been told about Tiamat's plan to harness the power of Elemental Chaos (no definite article required). The white dragon firelord was a little silly to say the least because here's a creature which sends up clouds of steam which not only grant concealment but also stop it from seeing anything. I had it blunder cluelessly about while the PCs tried to disconnect the power of Elemental Chaos from Tiamat's army.
I skipped the main part of the battle against Namissi because I had too many other ideas bouncing around inside my head, but I ought to go back to it and say something more.
I had Bahamut whisked off to Empyron to be cured and then had him conveniently arrive back just in time for speeches with Estumishu and they mutually and insincerely congratulated each other on their successes.
In reality, the battle for the City of Brass would probably be waged over weeks and months; but Tiamat doesn't like to be kept waiting and the afârît are just going to have to wipe their own posteriors.
And thus I head off to deal with the final adventure, Last Breath of the Dragon Queen in which, once again, the Heroes of Overlook must assassinate the leader of their enemies. Now where have I seen that plot before?