A key part of the setting of Fourth Wing is the brutal way that conscripts are weeded out from the ranks of the Dragon Rider cadets at the beginning of the first year.  They are subjected to brutal tests of their abilities.  For the most part, they’re even allowed to kill each other.  I think any Dungeons and Dragons game that wants to strike the same tone as Fourth Wing will need to reflect how the first year up to the Threshing impacts the characters.

Basgiath War College Map
Official Map of Basgiath War College from Fourth wing

In order to do that, I want to borrow an idea from another TTRGP, Dungeon Crawl Classics (DCC). In DCC, players start out with four “Level 0” characters.  For 5e, I suggest using commoner stat blocks, or at least use the commoners stats as the base stats. Each player should take 4 commoners.  They should name them and select backgrounds for them.  After that, each character should have a bond to one other character, one place, or one person in the world.  In the end most of these characters will die.  When 3 of a player’s PCs have died, the last one is their character for the game.  If a player makes it to the Threshing with more than one living PC, they can choose which one they want to continue with, and the other will become an NPC.

A commoner stat block makes a good first year conscript

I recommend playing this like a montage of their experiences at the start of their time as Dragon Rider conscripts. Here are what I think the essential components are:

  1. Stairs to Parapet
  2. Parapet
  3. Dragons
  4. Challenges
  5. Gauntlet
  6. Threshing


Roleplay the characters through the climb up the tower to the parapets. Let them make any connections or enemies they’d like to along the way. Then it’s time for them to check in their names and run the parapet.  Each character must pass a DC 5 ability check or fall from the parapet to their death. That should knock out about ¼ of the PCs. Hopefully some of your players will kill others. Even better!

Meet the Dragon

Next the players get introduced to the dragons. We all know how that goes. The dragons will attempt to intimidate them. The ones that run are ashes or dragon chow. I would set DC of 5 Wisdom, even though the dragon stat blocks I’ve created are much higher. Graphically describe the deaths of any conscripts who run.  


Next are the challenges.  Lower casualty rates here.  Let your players square off against each other for a good round of fights.  Hand to hand only.  Players may attempt to kill or maim each other’s PCs.  They won’t have access to a mender like Violet did, because their mommy’s not the boss here. 

The Gauntlet

The Gauntlet is up next.  Player Characters who were injured in previous may have disadvantage here. Walk each surviving PC through the 9 elements of the obstacle course.  Each element requires a DC 5 acrobatics or athletics check to pass.  If a player rolls a 1 on any of the checks, they must make a DC 5 Dexterity save to attempt to catch one of the ropes that line the course.  On a fail, the PC is killed by falling from the course (RIP Aurelie). I’ve created a diagram of the gauntlet for use in-game.

The Threshing

That just leave the threshing.  Players should choose from their surviving PCs who will pair with a dragon, and what will happen to the other survivor.  The DM should offer a range of dragons for them to choose from.  Congrats!  You’re Dragon Riders most of the way through the first year!

I’m working on a drawing of the Gauntlet to use as a player aid.  Should be back with that soon, but for now, check out some of our other Fourth Wing content.

Categories: Fourth Wing

1 Comment

Gauntlet: Fourth Wing - Dungeonsports Coliseum · April 2, 2024 at 9:24 am

[…] Gauntlet in Fourth Wing is a key features of the first year. You can find a full description in the first book of The Empyrean series. It is a vertical […]

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