‘D&D Waterdeep Dragon Heist’ Session 25
Dragon Heist session twenty-five: A Good Thing Done Bad
In the cold, dark room, the nuns began the ceremony to bring back Arvene. Alan, Dugg, and Joe sat in the foyer waiting anxiously. Occasionally sounds could be heard, and flickering bright light escaped through the gaps in the door frame. In another place, Arvene’s spirit was being pulled away mid-conversation. If the soul was willing, she would return to the living. Was the soul willing? Sure, why not?
Last night was the 25th session in our online Waterdeep Dragon Heist D&D campaign and a second failed faction mission in a row has left our players dealing with an unexpected character death and resurrection.
We have been playing via Discord and using Trello and D&D Beyond to keep track of characters and share campaign information, and streaming our sessions on Twitch.
Additional Dragon Heist supplements I’m using:
Residents of Trollskull Alley
Waterdeep: Expanded Faction Missions
Scrying into his handkerchief
The Press of Waterdeep
Dragon Heist: Expanded Faction Missions
Shard Shunners: a Zhentarim Faction Mission and DM’s Resource
Dugg, Earth Genasi Fighter – dungsweeper and estranged son from House Roznar.
Alan Crabpopper, Human Ranger – a private investigator and member of the Harpers.
Arvene Galanodel, Half-Elf Cleric – priestess of Tymora, fake harper. Ressurected.
Little Joe, Drow Sorcerer – channeling the spirit of John Wayne, secret member of Bregan D’earth.
Previously in Dragon Heist
During a mission from a mysterious haberdasher, the heroes suffered a catastrophic communications blunder. A tiefling girl, Advertence, was accidentally killed by Little Joe. They escaped the scene, but right now, only Little Joe and the man who is blackmailing him knows what actually happened.
Last session, after another failed faction mission to deliver a secret note to a reporter for the Waterdeep Wazoo, the party had to find a way to resurrect their fallen cleric, Arvene. Turning to the sisters of the temple of Tymora, they managed to revivify their friend, but she now has to face the turmoil and physical repercussions of dying in service. As they returned to Trollskull Manor in the early hours of the morning, they were surprised to see lights on and hear the sound of activity from within.
Lights on, who’s home?
It was dark as they made their way through the North Ward. And quiet. Not even the nocturnal Waterdeep residents were out this late. The cold drizzle was a refreshing tonic to the day’s scorching summer heat, and as Dugg carried Arvene home, Alan and Joe discussed the merits of cheating their way out of the deal. “I reckon we’d get away with it,” said Joe. “Those nuns cant be that holy…”
As they arrived back at Trollskull Manor, the lights were on and there was clearly activity in the house.
The session began with the party returning to their newly refurbished mansion.
At the end of the first chapter of Dragon Heist, the characters are given a base of operations in desperate need of an overhaul, and their mission then becomes getting the mansion back up and running. They have a few options to do this; my party made a deal with Mirt the Moneylender to pay for the refurbishment in return for 5% of all future profits. At the time, this seemed like a long way away.
Two weeks have passed over the course of the last 10-15 sessions, and every time they came back to Trollskull Manor, they found new areas beautifully renovated. When they got back to the base last night, they found it fully restored. They also found 40 Luskan refugees who had made the manor their new home.
After a misunderstanding outside the Luskan embassy, Joe had accidentally invited the refugees to stay at the manor. They had been let into the building by Gregory, an ex-apprentice glazier whom Dugg had unwittingly adopted. This all happened during the previous day, as the players were infiltrating the Waterdeep Wazoo and then desperately trying to revive Arvene, so when they arrived at 3 o’clock in the morning, they were not expecting to find the manor buzzing with activity. However, it had been a long day, so Alan, Joe, Dugg, and Arvene accepted Gregory and the Luskans at face value and settled down for a long rest.
In the morning, the party made the most of the fact that they now had 40 willing servants. Joe especially enjoyed sending Shorval and Shea (due to an apparent lack of imagination they all apparently had names beginning with “Sh”) out for croissants and coffee from the local café.
They now had to plan what to do next. Sitting in Joe’s room, the only place not teeming with eager Luskan helpers grateful for board, they sat down to plan their next move. Joe, being a drow and sensitive to natural light, had his room decorated in different shades of black, so Alan, ever-resourceful, took out his pack of chalks and began drawing Venn diagrams on the wall. Joe was not impressed.
Not dead after all
At this stage, Arvene, still recovering from her actual-death experience, remembered something she had seen in an out-of-body moment between dying and being revived. “Advertence is alive!”
However, no one believed her vision to be anything more than an hallucination and her persuasion roll (4) was not good enough to convince them. But she did manage to get them to agree to check out the submarine she saw beneath one of the ships in the docks, but they had lots to do before that.
First, Joe tried to convince the Luskans to leave the manor. He gave Shorval 25 gold pieces to make good for himself and his crew. Shorval promised to return Joe’s money with interest before the month was out.
Mojitos for lunch
Before setting off to the Dock Ward to investigate Joe’s lead on the wererats, Dugg and Arvene insisted they pay a quick visit to Avi and Embric, their friends at the local forge. Sessions earlier, Mirt the Moneylender had lent Alan’s Bureau of Investigators a silver dagger each, but they had not kept them in good order. So, they paid Avi and Embric to fix the daggers and were now here to pick them up.
Whilst there, Avi the air genasi was keen to remind the party that they were invited to Embric’s surprise birthday party that night. The preparations had begun in earnest and Avi offered them each Somertime Mojitos, which they vigorously accepted. Arvene, still suffering from the effects of being raised from the dead mere hours earlier, found the effects of the mojito far stronger than usual.
Back in the Dock Ward
Thirst sufficiently quenched, they stumbled out from the forge and headed toward the Dock Ward. On the way, they rolled on the daytime encounters table from the Dragon Heist DM screen (7) and saw a group of bystanders glumly watching four members of the City Watch removing a dead body from a building and load it into a cart heading for the morgue. After checking it wasn’t Alma, the benevolent old lady they befriended in the first chapter, they moved on, relieved.
Once well into the Dock Ward, they had to try to remember where they were headed. Alan rolled a survival check to see if he could find the Pickled Mermaid, a tavern they’d been pointed towards; he rolled very badly (7). Luckily for Alan, three intoxicated half-orcs stumbled by and were able to direct them, after some ill-fated attempts at intimidation, to their destination.
The Pickled Fisherman
They had heard separately from both Captain Staget and Zardoz Zord that they might find out more about the Shard Shunners (the wererat gang) at the Pickled Fisherman. They had also been instructed to ask about a missing halfling called Dasher Shoebeedle. When they arrived at the large tavern on Boat Street, they found it run by a friendly halfling called Antonnetta and patronized almost exclusively by halflings.
At first Joe and Arvene stayed outside while Alan and Dugg investigated the bar. The bar was full, so Antonetta was too busy to answer any of their questions about Dasher or wererats, but she was keen to keep supplying them with half pints and pickled treats as they scoped out the tavern. Amongst the various patrons, including four young halflings celebrating a 19th birthday, Alan noticed a lone halfling with thick black sideburns and a permanent scowl clearly interested in Alan and Dugg’s investigations into the missing Dasher.
After a while Joe and Arvene entered the tavern and loudly announced their intention to find Dasher. The bar went silent and Alan noticed the surly halfling get up and go to leave the tavern. Alan followed him as Joe and Arvene ordered drinks.
The surly halfling felt Alan’s silver dagger press against his back. “Going somewhere?” Alan’s dagger and a strong intimidation check (17) was enough to convince Alton to stop, but when he asked about Dasher Shoebeedle, the surly halfling didn’t want to talk. “It’s not safe here,” he said. “Meet me at the Lady’s statue at midnight and we can talk.”
Alan decided to let Alton leave and gathered the rest of the party, all a little worse for wear for being deep in their cups. They had six hours before midnight so decided to return to Trollskull Manor and drop in at Avi and Embric’s party and then return to the Dock Ward to hear what Alton has to say.
As they arrived back at Trollskull Manor, the party was surprised to see it teeming with people. A flashing neon blue TM sign stood above the door. Inside, the Luskan refugees, all wearing orange t-shirts with a TM insignia embroidered on the sleeve, had transformed their empty tavern into a bustling business. A large man sat at the bar, loudly ordering another bottle of whisky. He turned around as Alan, Joe, Arvene, and Dugg entered. “Well blow me down! Look what you guys have achieved! I knew my money was well spent. Durnan be damned!” It was Mirt, and he was happy. “Listen, we need to talk.” END
One of the best elements of Dragon Heist is the impressive cast of NPCs and infinite voices you can lend to the vast city of Waterdeep. Recurring characters like Avi and Embric, and Mirt the Moneylender, are always fun to play and help to ground the players with a sense of the everyday. They are also an excellent opportunity to deliver some comic relief and deeper roleplay moments. Especially when you know what’s coming in the later chapters.
Arvene is still recovering from her death experience. She was revived by the nuns using a raise dead ritual and this has repercussions. For the next 24 hours she has a -4 penalty to her ability rolls and attacks. After a long rest it is reduced to -3, and then -2, and finally -1. By the fifth day she will be back to full health and ability. At the rate days pass in this Dragon Heist campaign, she may be still feeling the effects in 10 sessions time.
What did we learn?
DM Tip: Giving your players plenty of options is a great way to keep them guessing, and gives them agency to drive the story how they want. However, it can mean that there is a lot of time spent deciding what to do next or forgetting key elements and plot hooks. If your players forget things, you have to decide whether to let them go off on tangents which you know are false, or find a way to guide them back on the tracks. If you’re worried about railroading your players, let them make mistakes and chase red herrings. Sometimes it’s more fun to see the stories they come up with on their own. But you may not be comfortable doing this, however, so don’t be afraid to introduce NPCs that turn up to give not-so-subtle hints at just the right moment.
Next week we will have our first “live game” of this Dragon Heist campaign. We’ll pick up the action with the heroes having to decide either to go to a party or to investigate the first real evidence they’ve been given about wererats in 25 sessions. I bet they choose to party.