Dragon Heist, Session fifteen: Dungsweepers & Dragons
As he reached the doorstep to Trollskull Manor, Little Joe heard footsteps behind him and spun ’round. The mail man, in his blue shirt, cap, and short shorts, was not fazed by the steam rising from Joe’s clenched fist. “A letter for Mister Dugg Duggson,” he said, and handed over a folded parchment sealed with the Dungsweepers crest. Joe took it. It was an offer of work. He considered burning it, but then remembered they could really do with some extra cash.
Last night was the 15th session in our online Dragon Heist D&D campaign and our heroes had a rather un-glamorous job to do.
Last week we weren’t able to play due to general apathy and a shared sense of malaise. However, this week we were (almost) all recovered and much more content with the current state of the world. For a couple of hours at least. Our ranger Alan, however, was still feeling the pressures of being the guardian to a surly cat, so he wasn’t able to play.
The set up
We have been playing via Skype and using Trello and D&D Beyond to keep track of characters and share campaign information. I have also been using a second laptop with its own Skype account so that I can stream battle maps for combat encounters.
Last session, however, we tested out using Discord instead of Skype and it went really well. The sound and video quality were much better and there was a lot more functionality as well. This week we continued to use Discord and had intended to set up some “bots” that might enhance our game—background music, sound effects, that sort of thing. However, it turns out that if you want to have a server that runs “bots” like this then you can’t also have a video chat, so we opted for the video and made do with our sorcerer improvising the sound effects. Whether we wanted him to or not.
Alan Crabpopper, Human Ranger – a private investigator and low-level thug. ABSENT
Dugg, Earth Genasi Fighter – estranged son from a noble family.
Little Joe, Drow Sorcerer – channeling the spirit of John Wayne.
Arvene Galanodel, Half-Elf Cleric – priestess of Tymora, ex-city guard, ex-nun.
Previously in Waterdeep
Alan, Dugg, Joe, and Arvene met in Waterdeep and formed a small independent private eye company called Dragonclaw Investigates. Their first few jobs were dangerous and almost got them killed on numerous occasions. But they did have some success, including saving Renear Neverember.
Meanwhile Dugg, being a very savvy earth genasi, had found a side hustle to bring in some extra coins. He joined the Dungsweepers Guild as a reserve sweeper, hoping this would be more glamorous than it sounded. It wasn’t. So far he hadn’t been called upon to work, but last session he received a letter requesting some immediate assistance.
Dungsweepers & Dragons
Dear Dugglass, I hope you’re well and you and that your friends have settled into to your new home? As I mentioned during your interview we don’t have any consistent work for you at the moment, but something has come up and we could do with a little help. It just so happens that the Russo brothers all need to be away from work for a couple of days to attend a family funeral. This leaves us somewhat in the lurch as, as you know, that’s half our workforce. The four lads are back at the end of the week, but until then we are four good men down. Could you and your friends help us out? It would mean a lot to us and might go a little way to mending some of you guys’ problematic reputation. If you can help, meet me at the Gentleman’s Respite in the Trades Ward tomorrow at noon and we’ll get you orientated for the two days’ work. Of course we’ll pay you for it, and you never know what you might find in the trash. Zulgoss
The initial reaction to the letter was to say “No, why would anyone choose to do this?” Then they re-read it, and saw that it could be a wise PR move, especially considering their current reputation. And they needed the cash.
“How have we got such a bad rep?” asked Arvene.
Maybe it was when they burned down a tavern in the Field Ward? Or when Little Joe threw rocks at children in the street and tried to con every shop keeper he met? Or perhaps it was their continual rudeness to tram drivers? As DM I was letting them know that these interactions matter in Waterdeep, and unless they want life to get very hard, they will have to start building bridges across the city. Instead of incinerating them.
“Well I’m not doing it,” said Alan and he walked out the front door of Trollskull Manor and had an adventure all of his own. Last time a player couldn’t make it for a session they ended up joining the Dungsweeper’s Guild, I wonder what choices Alan will make while his player is away?
To the Trades Ward
Dugg was very keen to take the job and impress the members of his guild, and somehow he managed to convince Little Joe and Arvene to join him. So they made their way south from Trollskull Alley to the Trades Ward.
Along the way I had them roll twice on the “Daytime Scenes” table from the Dragon Heist DM Screen. First they rolled 86 and passed a modest funeral procession headed to the City of the Dead. This was apt as it showed them a part of Waterdeep they hadn’t seen before, and strengthened the plot hook of the Russo brothers attending a funeral.
The second roll was a 78 and they passed two elderly Waterdhavians who were loudly speculating about the characters’ backgrounds and business. Little Joe didn’t like this at all and demanded “Justice!” from the old coots, but they pretended not to hear him and walked away. Joe decided not to weaken their reputation by attacking pensioners, even if they did deserve it.
Meeting the crew
After stopping at the Yawning Portal to touch base with Durnan and Bonnie, the party eventually arrived at the Gentleman’s Respite in the Trades Ward. Here they met Zulgoss Halberd, a goliath cleric who introduced them to the dungsweepers they would be working with. Cole, Jasper, Faith, and Kamlann all welcomed the newcomers and they began their rounds of dungsweeping.
Faith, a young heavily tattooed tiefling, was the chattiest sweeper and complimented Little Joe on his choice of clothing—he has been wearing a bright yellow Kill Bill jumpsuit since being mugged and left naked in the street last session. Luckily for him it matched the hi-vis clothing the dungsweepers wore so he didn’t feel quite so out-of-place.
As they set off on their days work they were given either a brush or a shovel and rolled athletics skill checks to see how well they handled their equipment. Little Joe and Dugg both rolled well so were OK (both rolled a 14). Arvene did not (6), so she repeatedly dropped her broom and the professionals gave her a hard time for it.
After an hour or so of collecting refuse they came to the Trades Ward mortuary. The Dungsweepers Guild holds the traditional rights to “glean the sweepings” and the crew were excited about what they might find. However, as they were collecting the bins and trash from the back of the building they heard a scream coming from inside. Suddenly a door swung open and a halfling female in a white overcoat dashed out from the building chased by a mummy.
The dungsweepers reacted slowly. Stepping back and holding their brooms and shovels outward like lances, the adventures recognized a chance to enhance their reputation and stepped forward to intercept the wretched mummy.
Combat lasted a couple of rounds and once Little Joe realized fire damage worked very well the fight ended quickly. However, the mummy did manage to do some damage to Dugg, who also succumbed to its Dreadful Glare causing him to become frightened. The main issue for the party was they were not dressed or prepared for fighting. They weren’t wearing armor and didn’t have their weapons. Aside from Arvene’s and Joe’s spells, all they had were brooms and shovels to fight with.
During the encounter the sweepers held back and tried to keep their horse from bolting. However, they were very grateful to the party for helping defeat the mummy and Little Joe was allowed to keep the gold ring worth 25GP that he looted from the mummy’s corpse.
After moving on from the mortuary—once Dugg had rebuked the clerics for letting a mummy escape—the dungsweepers moved on to their next location; Arvene continued to drop her broom, while Cole and Jaspers mocked her poor performance.
After a couple more stops they came to the Court of the White Bull, a livestock market named after a destroyed tavern that was named after an albino cow. Here they lamented their choice of profession as the horses, sheep, cows, goats, and pigs that were traded there seemed to create far more work for them than they really thought necessary. Only Dugg noticed the sign that read “Warning: Magic Prohibited.” But for now that didn’t matter—magic cast here generally has the reverse effect than intended due to the lingering magic from the battle that destroyed the tavern years ago.
As they were preparing to leave the market a yell went out and a wild horse began stampeding through the courtyard. Dugg acted fastest and jumped on the stallion and tried to calm it down. This required two skill checks. First, acrobatics, which he passed (14), then animal handling, which he failed (3). Dugg was flung from the horse and landed Back to the Future-style in a pile of dung, “Manure!” he yelled. “I hate manure!”
Hours later they finished their first day of dungsweeping and headed to the Felzoun’s Folly. This was regular haunt of the Dungsweeper’s Guild and they told Dugg that there might be some extra work for them when they got there.
Sure enough, as they arrived they were greeted by Felzoun Thar, a bristle-beard dwarf who ran the tavern and used it for fencing stolen merchandise. “I got a job fer’ ya,” he called out. “Bring your cart ’round the back.”
Once around the back they saw a terrified looking Halfling tied to a chair. Felzoun explained that the Halfling, Harol Fastfoot, had stolen a magical sword from him and they needed to get it back, “Maybe a bath will sort him out. Roll that chamber pot barrel over here!”
In spite of Arvene protestations Dugg complied and began pouring the barrel over the Halfling. Little Joe was not happy and charged in to stop the interrogation, casting sleep on one of the Dungsweepers. “You can’t do that. He’s only a child!” he shouted, mistaking the diminutive Halfling man for a much younger human. Eventually the situation was resolved and a couple of charisma persuasion (15) and intimidation (11) checks meant Harol gave up the information needed. “I unloaded it in Spendthrift Alley to some human with a limp.”
With that information, the party knew what they had to do.
A Heist Planned
Back in the tavern the members of Dragonclaw Inc. discussed their plans for getting the magical sword back. They knew the tavern where it was being kept, and had a rough description of its owner, but little else. Arvene volunteered a plan, “If I go to the bar and ask for the man with a limp, say I’ve got a ‘rendezvous’ with him, perhaps they’ll show me to his room. Then I just signal you guys and away we go.” It was a terrible plan. But they agreed anyway. “Right, let’s go then.” END
After two sessions that focused on Alan, this game and next week’s sees Dugg as the main focus. I’ve been trying to ensure that each player gets their own share of the spotlight by setting up sessions that focus on their characters. So far it seems to work and my players are enjoying sharing the limelight this way.
This session (and next week’s) was based on a module from the DMs Guild called Dung Work. It is adapted from one of the “faction missions” in chapter 2 for the Lords Alliance and I’m hoping to use this as a segue into the party meeting Jalester Silvermane, an NPC who can offer them more missions as the campaign progresses. It’s a really well put together supplement that I highly recommend for anyone who has party members that might be interested in either joining the Lord’s Alliance or the Dungsweepers Guild.
What did we learn?
DM Tip: When running a campaign or a module from the DMs Guild, you should never be surprised if your players pick up on the smallest details and think they’re the biggest. The magical sword is mentioned in the Dung Work supplement only in passing, but Arvene and Little Joe decided this would be a great way to impress their new associates, so next week they’re going to try to steal it back. Fortunately this happened at the end of the session, so I have a week to work out how this could happen. Needless to say, I was not prepared for this outcome.
Next week my players will attempt their first heist of the Dragon Heist module; it’s only taken 15 two-hour sessions to get there. We’ll also find out exactly what Alan has been up, maybe he’s joined the circus, fallen down a well, or eloped with an owlbear.