Dragon Heist: session seventeen point one: Arvene’s solo adventure
Arvene had decided she wasn’t interested in any more dungsweeping. So, taking her newly acquired Waterdeep Tram Travel Pass and her quirky sense of adventure, she headed off for a day on the tracks.
When one of our Dungeons & Dragons Dragon Heist players couldn’t make a session last week, I caught up with them before the next session via Whatsapp and DM’d them through their own mini-adventure. This recap recounts what happened.
The set up
We have been the main campaign playing via Discord and using Trello and D&D Beyond to keep track of characters and share campaign information. While this mini-adventure didn’t use Discord, having the campaign information available on Trello and DnD Beyond, both internet-based applications, meant that at any point over the course of the week we could send messages and consult campaign information wherever we were. Even if it was three o’clock in the morning.
Alan Crabpopper, Human Ranger – a private investigator and member of the Harpers.
Dugg, Earth Genasi Fighter – dungsweeper and 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 Inc. Their first few jobs were dangerous and almost got them killed several times over. But they did have some success, including saving Renear Neverember, and investigating wererats in the Field Ward.
In the meantime, in a rare moment of downtime, Arvene visited the local temple and received a tip that there may be some work in the Dock Ward. A traveling carnival, the Sea Maiden’s Fair, had recently docked and had put out calls for people with local knowledge to assist in orientation. Until now she hadn’t had a chance to follow this up.
Last session, Arvene and her fellow investigators took part in a successful mission to reclaim a stolen sword. Their mark was a human male whom they found sleeping in The Dripping Dagger. Having relieved the gentleman of his magical sword, Arvene also stole his wallet, which contained his annual Travel Pass for the trams of Waterdeep and a silver broach shaped like a harp.
Travelling the Trams
The first thing Arvene wanted to do was travel on the trams. Until now the party had received a very poor reputation from public transport operators of Waterdeep, mainly due to their treatment by Arvene’s drow companion Little Joe. Little Joe wasn’t here right now, and she had acquired a season pass, so she thought she’d test her luck.
Catching a tram was no trouble. A successful charisma check (17) meant she was charming and apologetic and so was able to ride. Then, before heading for the Dock Ward, she wanted to take a quick tour of the city. So she did.
First she went to the Sea Ward and stared at all the fancy rich folks strutting around, before checking in at the Temple of Luck, dedicated to her god Tymora. After a couple of small acts of trickery and mischief, she headed off to the Castle Ward to check out the six giant walking statues, before passing by Blackstaff Tower. Then, after an overpriced lunch in a luxurious café, she got back on the tram and headed down to the Dock Ward to see what she could find out about the Sea Maiden’s Fair.
At this stage I was very grateful that I had the Dragon Heist campaign downloaded on the DnD Beyond app on my phone. There’s no way I would have been able to access all this specific information on the wards of Waterdeep from the queue at the cinema.
Staking out the Dock Ward
At the Dock Ward she easily found the three ships that made up the Sea Maiden’s Fair. A good perception roll (17) meant she could tell that it appeared to be a sea-faring carnival. Two of the ships were docked and one was out in the harbor, 200 feet or so from the pier.
With an low perception (11), she took quite a while to find out more. This is what she discovered:
- The ships were called: the Hellraiser, The Heartbraker, and The Eyecatcher.
- The Hellraiser transports musicians and decorative floats and was docked.
- The Heartbreaker holds performers, strange creatures, and wagons, and was docked.
- The Eyecatcher is a more ostentatious ship, but was anchored in the harbor, so it was difficult to see what it carried.
- The crews appeared to be mostly human sailors, all wearing wide-brimmed hats.
Further investigation meant talking to people. Naturally, given her city watch background, Arvene gravitated towards a guardsman she could see keeping watch over the boats. A poor charisma check (9) meant she wasn’t given much to go on, except: the master of the fair is called Zardoz Zord, a flamboyant man who dresses very oddly. The crew of the ships are all men, who communicate with a thick elvish accept and use weird hand signals when talking.
Sea Maiden’s Fair
Arvene’s curiosity got the better of her, so she decided to board the Heartbreaker. She cast Disguise Self and took on the visage of a crewman of the ship. Boarding the ship was easy; the docks were very busy so no one noticed as she walked up the steps to the main deck. There were three sailors on deck mopping and cleaning and testing the rigging. She tried to eavesdrop on them, but didn’t hear anything interesting.
She explored the rest of the deck by picking up a mop and pretending to be a crew member. A strong performance roll (18) meant this was not a problem, but again she found nothing of interest, and eventually was told to, “Get lost,” by a ship mate having his dinner in the mess room.
As she was about to leave, she could feel her magical disguise waning; she made one last check of the wagons which were stored on deck. 19 stealth. 22 perception. There were four wagons. Three held nothing of interest, mostly just costumes and equipment for the carnival’s parades. The fourth wagon contained a number of sealed barrels and crates, and there was the distinct smell of ash and sulfur. One of the barrels was slightly open and Arvene could just about make out the gun power that was inside.
As she made her discovery she felt a strong firm hand on her shoulder. “I think you might be on the wrong ship,” came a thickly accented voice. She could feel her disguise slipping. She quickly made her excuses, “Oh yeah! These sea-legs have thrown me off!” And she fled the ship.
After the adventure at the docks she decided to head back to Trollskull Manor. Her passive perception is 13, so she didn’t notice the shadowy figure following her home. When she reached the front door it didn’t look like anyone was home. Then there was a gentle tap on her shoulder. “Excuse me. I couldn’t help but notice you by the docks earlier.”
The tapper was a finely dressed man with a toothbrush mustache and a purple trilby hat. He smiled warmly, with a mysterious glint in his eye that caught her off guard, “Nevercott,” he said, “JB Nevercott. May I come in?”
Arvene gulped audibly. He was rather dashing. As he told her of his occupation, “I’m a haberdasher, and I make the finest clothes. I’m sure I could make something that would complement your stunning beauty, if you let me.”
Arvene rolled an insight check to see if he was legitimately nice, or just being creepy. She rolled a 6. She thought he was the nicest man she’d ever met.
Nevercott was charming and warm, everything that her current adventuring companions were not. He asked questions about her, complimented her hair, and didn’t even mention the dilapidated nature of the taproom. Eventually, as night fell, he stood up to take his leave. A true gentleman. Much to Arvene’s disappointment. As he left he handed her his card and winked. “We’ll see each other soon enough, my dear.” END
I was quite proud that I managed to pull the story round to that final point. Especially as the session which Arvene missed ended with JB Nevercott somehow appearing in the taproom of Trollskull Manor offering Little Joe a job.
Having Tello and D&D Beyond accessible on my phone was essential for running this mini-adventure. I really enjoyed the fact that in the odd moment at work, on the bus, in the walk-in freezer at the supermarket, or wherever I was, I could check on either and update my player on their situation.
Running a game via text was also a new experience for me. I liked it, and will definitely try this again when someone can’t make a session.
It also helps that you can now ask Google to “Roll a D20 for me,” and Google does just that.
What did we learn?
DM Tip D&D Beyond is by far one of the most useful tools for any DM, whether playing in this rather obscure manner, or in a more traditional way; having the full campaign for Dragon Heist at the swipe of a finger makes double checking NPCs, quests, and locations super simple. Some people, understandably, may be reluctant to pay the full cost price of the adventure if it’s in digital form, especially if they already own the hardback, but in my opinion it is definitely worth the investment.
Next session, Arvene will rejoin the rest of the party, but will she reveal the exploits of her mini-adventure or will it be her little secret?