D&D Waterdeep Dragon Heist Session 28
Dragon Heist session twenty-eight: Rivers of filth
Ears still ringing, and body still wobbly, Arvene stepped forward. She could see the wererat, beginning to recover, getting ready to turn tail and run. All that lay between her and it was 25 feet of stone paving and 5 feet of sewage. She raised her crossbow, drew back the trigger, and fired. Straight into the wall. The wererat snarled at her and ran for the door, ducking under the bolt, just as the sounds of approaching swords and gnashing teeth grew louder.
Last night was the 28th session in our online Dragon Heist D&D campaign and, after a four-week hiatus, our party started deep behind enemy lines.
We have been playing via Discord and using Trello and D&D Beyond to keep track of characters and share campaign information, all whilst streaming our sessions on Twitch. However, after a few recent issues with Discord involving microphones not working leading to a player character death, we returned to our old friend Skype. For us, playing via Skype is a bit like going back to a fast food restaurant where you recently got food poisoning. It’s a certainly a risk, and there’s always the worry that the next mouthful will be the one that causes all the explosions and upset, but you can’t resist the lure of that sweet, sweet sticky-chili-beef.
Additional Dragon Heist supplements I’m using for this campaign:
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 ResourceShard Shunners: a Zhentarim Faction Mission and DM’s Resource
Our Dragon Heist party:
Dugg, Earth Genasi Fighter – dungsweeper and estranged son from House Roznar.
Alan Crabpopper, Human Ranger – a harper and private investigator, secret wererat in denial.
Arvene Galanodel, Half-Elf Cleric – priestess of Tymora, fake harper. Resurrected.
Little Joe, Drow Sorcerer – channeling the spirit of John Wayne, secret member of Bregan D’earth.
Previously in Dragon Heist
After a failed faction mission, the party resurrected their fallen cleric Arvene. Then they received a tip-off that the wererat gang they have been searching for were lurking in the Dock Ward. Following this lead, Alan arranged to meet a Halfling called Alton at midnight, but when he got there, he was ambushed and almost killed.
Last session he was rescued by two drow gunslingers who had been following the party, but not before he was bitten by one of the wererats. Now, secretly suffering the curse of lycanthropy, Alan returned to Trollskull manor and the gathered the rest of his companions. With the two drow in tow, they went back to the wererat hideout and began “taking out the trash,” while searching for the missing halfling Dasher Snobeedle.
The great wererat mystery
Before the giant snarly rat-creature made it to the door, Dugg swung with his silver hammer and connected mightily with the wererat’s chin. Its eyes crossed, rolled back, and it fell back with a splash into the river of filth that divided this section of the sewers. The party looked around expecting to see more wererats arrive, but for the moment at least no more adversaries came.
The session began still in initiative from last time. I made it clear that the sounds of the gunshots still echoed around the dark, dank sewers. So more enemies would be on the way soon. The area they were in was a long, dark passage way that had an open sewer running through the middle. I had built a small set using some of my 3D D&D terrain.
For the last few sessions I have been running Shard Shunners: a Zhentarim Faction Mission and DM’s Resource from the DMs guild. My players first became interested in the wererats in Chapter 1, where they are very briefly mentioned in passing, and they have been trying to get to the bottom of the “great wererat mystery” ever since. Even though at that stage, as far as I was concerned, there was no wererat mystery in my Dragon Heist campaign. Luckily the DMs guild supplement was able to help me bulk out this storyline a little (or a lot!) and now, 28 sessions later, we’re finally getting to the bottom of it.
River of filth
We remained in initiative after Dugg had dealt with the only conscious enemy. Each member of the party had begun the session with their own secret problems. Alan was a wererat and nobody knew about it. Arvene had recently died and was still suffering a -3 penalty to all her rolls. Joe had contracted sewer plague last session, but wasn’t aware. And Dugg was really, really hungover.
All feeling worse for wear, they looked around the passage way, searching for somewhere to set up an ambush. However, before they got a chance to prepare, more wererats arrived on the scene.
First Little Joe, who smelled strongly of sewer-liquid, having fallen in the slurry last session. He found a room adjacent to the main sewer passageway and fired two firebolts blindly into it. Miraculously he hit a wererat with each blast and they quickly dashed out from the room to meet the rest of the party.
Alan, who was struggling to keep his newfound wererat beasthood under wraps, leapt across the fecal torrent and attacked the wererats. He was using a silver rapier and each time he struck his foes, he felt a pang of pain and regret which he didn’t understand.
Arvene was worried that more wererats might be coming, so she attempted to barricade the doors behind them and yelled to the two drow to hold off firing their guns. She didn’t want them to alert more enemies.
More enemies arrive
Within a couple more rounds, there were four more wererats battling the party in the sewers. The drow had dropped all pretense of stealth and were firing loudly, Alan was giving in to his feral nature, Joe was having a lot of success with his silver hammer and make-shift baseball bat covered in silver coins. Arvene was desperately trying not to die again.
The wererats were no match for the party of level 3 adventurers. Especially since Alan and co. had managed to secure silvered weapons before entering their base. So after a couple more rounds, a well-timed Bless spell, and two critical hits from Dugg, the heroes were once again catching their breaths before continuing their exploration of the rats’ nest.
They had cleared out the first main passage and two adjoining rooms, one a barracks and the other a kitchen, and were just about to delve deeper into the sewers when they heard heavy footsteps approaching in the dark. Anther wererat dived at them from the darkness, this time it was much larger and meaner-looking than the rest, and it carried a gigantic glaive which it swung with deadly accuracy.
Just as the party was catching their breath, and debating whether they should attempt a short rest, the alpha rat showed up.
For this enemy I was using a modified wererat stat block, I had maxed-out its hit points and added better armor to increase its AC, as well as giving it a stronger two-handed weapon which dealt more damage. At first this seemed like too much and my players didn’t stand a chance, but they soon out maneuvered him. Having superior numbers and actually working as a team for once meant they could take out this enemy fairly painlessly.
The coup-de-gras came as Alan grappled the alpha-rat from behind, leaving Dugg and Joe to wail on it with silvered weapons and Firebolt spells. Both Alan and Dugg scored critical hits during this flurry of attacks and, much to their annoyance, Little Joe dealt the killing blow after they had reduced it down to 1HP.
I awarded each of them inspiration as I was quite impressed with how they worked together. Except Arvene, of course, who was exploring a different room, chatting to a young, timid halfling chef called Louis who was hiding in a kitchen cupboard.
Loot the rooms
Having dealt with the immediate threats, the group decided to thoroughly loot the area in true computer game fashion. They found four hand crossbows and 120 crossbow bolts. Little Joe tried to take the lot, then realized, unlike in a computer game, that he couldn’t possible carry 120 crossbow bolts at once. So he tried to improvise a make-shift quiver. I got him to roll an intelligence check to see how successful he was (8). He did not manage it. Meanwhile, neither Alan nor Dugg, both of whom were watching, admitted to Joe that they carried crossbow quivers that could hold up to 60 bolts. They just waited for him to give up and walk away, before quietly collecting the bolts and storing them for later.
The corridor they were in led to a T-junction. To the left was where the alpha-rat had entered from. Right was a locked door. They chose to go right.
Little Joe had learned Knock when he leveled up, and was excited to use the spell again so cast it on the door. He had forgotten that further to simply opening any locked door, the spell also caused a very loud knocking sound that echoed noisily around the sewers.
The door opened into a small utility room that had been converted into a master bed chamber. A queen-sized bed, a big chest, and two bookshelves were squeezed into the tiny space. Joe quickly scanned the books, which were mostly cookbooks, books on lycanthropy and stories about halflings filled with obscure arcane lore.
The room wasn’t big enough for the whole party to enter, so, as Little Joe explored, the others took a couple of moments to compose themselves. A second loud knocking sound came from the small closet room as Joe magically attempted to open the large wooden chest. He must have been successful because from outside they heard him rummaging about. Then they heard him gasp. “Hey guys, take a look at this list. It’s got your names on it!” END
This was a fun session, mostly combat and exploration, but still plenty of good roleplaying from everyone. And for the first time in a while, our technology didn’t let us down, and we weren’t beset by crying children wanting our attention.
The list that Joe found seems to be some kind of kill sheet and is a collection of names, most of whom the party have heard of or met before. I shared the list via our Trello and it read:
Mistress Hamshakle DEAD
Zulgoss Halberd DEAD
Jalester Silvermane DEAD
Mirt the Moneylender
Arvene Galondel DEAD
As well as the four crossbows and 120 bolts, they also managed to loot 182 gold pieces, 14 platinum pieces, one large diamond worth 1,000gp, an enormous emerald, and a spell scroll. This is conveniently well-timed as they are already in debt to the nuns who revived Arvene by exactly one large diamond worth 1,000gp.
What did we learn?
DM Tip: Modifying creature stat blocks is a great way of adding variety to a large group of enemies. If you’ve got a situation where your players enter an area where the enemies they’re likely to face are all the same, i.e., halfling wererats, it can be a bit monotonous if they all have exactly the same features. You can do this by rolling their hit points, changing their weapons or armor, or even adding additional features from the Player’s Handbook, like a barbarian’s Rage ability or a fighter’s Second Wind. This worked really well in this session and when the alpha-rat entered the fray they could see that he was bigger and fiercer than the others and it meant my players altered their approach to defeating it.
Next week in our Dragon Heist campaign we continue to explore the rats’ nest in search of the missing Halfling and they will come face-to-face with Rottina Reedfellow, the leader of the Shard Shunners gang, and the party’s first real spellcasting adversary. Will we see another PC death? That all depends on the quality of the internet connection.
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