Dragon Heist Session Eighteen: JB Nevercott
As night fell, Joe was pacing the taproom in the manor, trying to drown out the slow rumble of Dugg’s snores vibrating through the floorboards. As he turned to face the bar for the fifteenth time that night, he was shocked to see a shadowy figure seated on a stool. “What! Who are you?” he said. “Hi Joe, I believe you’ve got something of mine. The name’s Nevercrott. Call me JB.”
Last night was the 18th session in our online Waterdeep Dragon Heist D&D campaign and the mysterious JB Nevercott had a mission for the party. Our group was also finally reunited after a couple of sessions with absent players.
We have been playing our Dragon Heist campaign via Discord 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 Discord account so that I can stream battle maps for combat encounters.
Last night we had some connectivity issues with Discord. At stages throughout the session, each of us lost connection and, at one point, we all simultaneously lost connection together. However, we were still able to soldier on and by the end of the night, the issues appeared to be fixed.
I’ve been supplementing the Dragon Heist campaign book with material available on the DMs Guild. Besides using guides that flesh out the shops and NPCs of Trollskull Alley, like Residents of Trollskull Alley and Trollskull Alley a Waterdeep Dragon Heist DMs Resource. Last week, we finished the second of two sessions of an adventure supplement called Dung Work; this week I found one based on a faction mission from chapter 2 called Scrying into His Handkerchief, and had prepared to run this mini-adventure, which would hopefully take them up to chapter 3 and the next level.
Dugg, Earth Genasi Fighter – dungsweeper and estranged son from a noble family.
Alan Crabpopper, Human Ranger – a private investigator and member of the Harpers.
Arvene Galanodel, Half-Elf Cleric – priestess of Tymora, ex-city guard, ex-nun.
Little Joe, Drow Sorcerer – channeling the spirit of John Wayne.
Previously in Dragon Heist
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. Since arriving in Waterdeep, Little Joe has occasionally noticed himself followed by two mysterious drow. Each time that he tried to catch and talk with them, he failed. Until two sessions ago when they stopped and handed him an eyepatch and told him to expect a visit from a friend.
Last session, after two days helping out the Dungsweepers in the Trades Ward and being paid very well for it, they headed back to Trollskull Manor for a rest. Arvene had already beat them home and had met JB prior to Little Joe, although neither Joe nor Arvene knew about the other’s encounter.
Nevercott. Call me JB
Seated at the bar, much to Joe’s surprise, was a well-dressed man with a toothbrush mustache and a purple trilby hat. He was portly, but not fat, good-looking and just below average height. He had poured two glasses of brandy and passed one of them to Joe. “So, Joe,” he said, “I believe you have something of mine? From an associate?” Joe had no idea what he was talking about.
Before trying to work out what was going on, Joe cast Sleep on JB, hoping that he could knock him out while he gathered his friends. In 5th edition, to successfully cast Sleep you must roll 5d8 and hope that the result is greater than the remaining hit points of your intended target. Joe rolled 17. This was considerably lower than Nevercott’s hp, so instead of falling asleep he simply stretched, yawned, and downed his brandy. “Now then,” he said. “If you’re quite finished trying to send me to sleep shall we discuss business?”
JB explained that Little Joe had an eyepatch of his and that his friends—the drow who had been following Joe—had left it as a calling card. Suddenly Joe was interested. He was keen to learn more about the drow and had heard rumors of a secret drow organization. JB gave nothing away. He neither confirmed nor denied any such organization, “and besides, why would I be interested in a secret drow society?”
JB explained to Joe that he was a man with many contacts who could be a great patron for Dragonclaw Inc. But first they had to complete an initiation. A test of character that would see them break the law and examine their initiative. He asked them to steal a personal item, perhaps a handkerchief, from a noble. He had chosen Regnet Amcathra, youngest son of the Amcathra family, as he shared a jocular relationship with Regnet and it would amuse him. What he didn’t say was that he had found out the Regnet had recently become an advisor to Laeral Silverhand (current Open Lord of Waterdeep) and he hoped to use the item to Scry (magically spy on) him to as a way of getting close to Laeral.
Joe immediately accepted. He was very keen to impress JB. He was doubly keen when Nevercott handed him a purse with 50gp. “For expenses. You’ll need some new clothes. It is rather posh in the Gentle Mermaid where Regnet spends his nights gambling and drinking.” JB also stipulated precisely what was to be done with the handkerchief when it was retrieved, and whom it should be delivered to.
As JB Nevercott left, he reminded Joe that should they be caught in the act, JB would disavow ever meeting Joe.
Next morning, Joe excitedly woke everyone up and quickly recounted his story of the night’s events. Arvene was surprised, as she too had met JB Nevercott yesterday and he didn’t mention the job at all.
Their kitchen being not yet built and very understocked with breakfast goods, they decided to discuss their plan at Café du Pain over waffles. They quickly worked out a plan. Then changed their mind and made another plan. Then decided the first plan was best so went back to that plan. All the while they planned, I knew it was pointless—they never stick to a plan, especially Dugg, whose main character trait is: I always make plans. And then forget them.
Their plan was to try to win an item from Regnet in the casino. Joe would challenge him to a game and then raise the stakes. Meanwhile, as a back-up, Arvene would try to sit next to Regnet and pretend to be amorously interested while picking his pocket.
This was Dragon Heist at its best. Two great plans. What could go wrong?
It was still early in the day and, as they had time to kill and also needed some fancy new clothes, they headed to the Trollskull Tailors. This was run by gnome tailor Mungo Bumbleblast—a man Little Joe had previously tried to steal from, but had started to re-build a courteous relationship with.
Mungo was able to offer them some new fine clothes, and within budget. But first, Little Joe had to repay the remaining 5gp he owed. With great reluctance, he did.
It cost them 35gp to outfit the entire group and once done they were all very smartly dressed. Arvene was wearing a deep purple silk cocktail dress with a high slit and boa. Alan wore a khaki safari suit akin to Roger Moore in Moonraker. Little Joe wore a black tuxedo with a velvet jacket. And Dugg wore the same, only without a shirt and a novelty oversized bow-tie. They certainly all looked fancy.
Before heading off to the Gentle Mermaid, Little Joe had one more place to go. He had acquired some jewelry whilst dungsweeping and wanted to exchange it in a bank. He headed to the Cassalanter bank on Trollskull Alley and set up an account worth 100gp.
The clerks there were very welcoming and pleased to see him. They offered him a ticket to the upcoming Founders ball. Joe was very pleased with the encounter and noted that the Cassalanters must be a very nice bunch of people to run such a fine establishment.
As he left, he gave the clerk who served him a tip of gp. “Thank you sir,” the clerk dropped the coin into a charity pot on his desk, “The children thank you also.”
After the bank, the group headed off to the Gentle Mermaid to enact their plan. Along the way Alan way was keeping an eye out for anyone who looked like a wererat. He rolled a perception check (17) and didn’t see any. Some day he would.
The Gentle Mermaid is an exquisite gambling parlor located just west of the high road. Little Joe was excited to go gambling again, but the others reminded him of their mission. As they approached the opulent-looking, huge-balconied and turreted 4-story structure, they could sense the prosperity flowing into it. It reeked of wealth, if not sophistication and taste.
Weapons were not permitted in the building so they all placed their daggers and maces and short swords in golden trays and collected their receipt tickets before entering the main parlor rooms.
Alan and Dugg instantly started checking out the room as Joe and Arvene searched for Regnet. Alan rolled a good investigation check (16) and noticed the two conspicuous guards, trying to blend in and staring at the central table. Dugg, too, rolled well (19) and he overheard some noble whom he recognized gossiping about Regnet’s recent marriage. He also caught a glimpse of his cousin Esvele Roznar, but before he could approach her she disappeared into another room.
Meanwhile Arvene and Joe quickly located Regnet—he was the loud, loutish, spoilt-looking, posh-sounding drunk, sitting at the central table and boasting loudly of his successes so far that evening.
They moved in. As they approached, the seat beside him became vacant and Arvene sat down, and Joe chose one opposite. Regnet loudly welcomed the newcomers to the table, upsetting Joe by comparing his drow heritage to a smurf. “So how is Gargamel these days? Shall I call you Papa?” Regnet was clearly not a nice person.
It cost 1gp to sit at the table. But as soon as they paid they were brought sparkling champagne and canapés. The game they were playing was Eight Bluffs, a game like poker, but played with dice instead. The objective is to roll a hand that had a high a combination of numbers as possible—4 of a kind, a straight, three of a kind, two pairs, etc.
Joe wasn’t having much luck. He lost three in a row and was just about to give Arvene the signal to try her approach, when he had an idea. Sensing Regnet was drunk he said, “So my Lord Regnet, why don’t we make this game a bit more interesting?” He then proposed to bet his shoes against Regnet’s. Regnet wasn’t interested. But he did make a counter offer. “Let’s be really interesting. Let’s bet all of your clothes.”
Joe agreed. He lost the bet.
Not for the first time this week Joe found himself naked in public. As he handed over the pile of his brand new clothes, he paused. “Would you be so good as to provide me a handkerchief to cover my modesty sir?” Regent laughed, but could see no reason not to. With that, Joe stood up and without signalling the others, walked speedily towards the exit and out of the Gentle Mermaid. Once again, naked in the street with nowt but his cowboy hat and hanky for cover. But his mission was successful. So far. END
Another session without any combat. I had explained at the beginning of this Dragon Heist campaign that there would be a lot more exploration, integration, and role-play than in some other campaigns, and that’s certainly been the case so far, with almost half the sessions not featuring any combat. My players seem to quite like that though, especially as combat in 5th edition can be a bit clunky—especially if you’ve character is stunned or unconscious for an entire session.
This session was played using the Dragon Heist supplement Scrying into His Handkerchief from the DMs Guild. It’s a really great story that fleshes out one of the faction missions for the Bregan D’Earthe and helps to build some story and intrigue between some of the key players in Waterdeep.
My players instantly caught on to the clue in JB Nevercott’s name—never caught—however they haven’t yet worked out the true mystery behind this interesting NPC.
What did we learn?
DM Tip: Sometimes you’ve just got to let you players get away with it. The adventure supplement I was using did contain some ideas of how the heroes might get hold of the personal item from Regnet, but none of them quite ended in the manner Joe’s attempt did. However, there was no good reason for Regnet not to take the bait of the strange bet—he was drunk and loved a wager—and likewise there was no reason for him not to give Joe a small amount of dignity as he left.
Next week we pick up exactly where we left off. The adventurers have the personal item they need to complete the second stage of their mission and deliver it to the specific location JB stipulated. I’m sure my players remembered to take note of that very specific location.