D&D Waterdeep Dragon Heist Session 29
Dragon Heist session twenty-nine: What’s love got to Drow with it?
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!”
Last night was the 29th session in our online Waterdeep Dragon Heist D&D campaign and our party continued to explore the lair of the wererat gang in search of Dasher Snobeedle. They had just discovered a hit list of intended targets and were shocked to see that some of their names had made the cut.
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.
As we’ve been on a bit of a dungeon crawl lately, I have been using some dungeon tiles from Dwarven Forge, mixed with some 3-D printed ones for this session. This was my setup.
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
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 was 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, only to be rescued by two drow gunslingers who had been following the party. Sadly this was 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, last session they went back to the wererat hideout and began “taking out the trash,” while searching for the missing halfling Dasher Snobeedle.
The list Joe held was torn and tattered and some of the names had been crossed off. If he didn’t know any better he would assume this was a hit list. Names of those the wererats had been hired to assassinate perhaps? As he looked over it a couple of names caught his attention. The first was Mistress Hamshackle—wasn’t she the one who they were sent to find in the first place that started all this wererat nonsense? And Zulgos Halberd. He was the head of the Dungsweeper’s Guild; what could he possibly have to do with all this? Joe scratched his head. He wasn’t made for solving mysteries. That was Alan’s department.
The session began with a short rest in the hallway before heading into what they correctly assumed was the final room of this dungeon. During the rest they pored over the list of names Joe had found, all except one or two they had heard of. But, because nobody takes any notes, no one really remembered.
Mistress Hamshakle was the half-orc proprietor of the tavern in the Field Ward that they burned down near the start of the campaign. Mirt had sent them to find her because he owed her money, only for them to discover she had been killed by wererats.
Zulgoss Halberd was the goliath cleric who was the head of the dungsweepers guild. The party had helped him out when some of his workers took some last minute annual leave. They were surprised to see that he was now dead, according to the list at least.
Jalester Silverman was a local in the Yawning Portal tavern, whom they briefly met in the very first session. What his connection to all this was they didn’t know.
Mirt the moneylender and Istrid Horne were both loan sharks that they had dealings with in the past. Gaxly Rudderbust was a newspaper reporter for the Waterdeep Wazoo, and JB Nevercott was the mysterious haberdasher that had recruited Little Joe into Bregan D’earthe.
The rest of the names they recognized, but hadn’t met. What connects them all, they had no idea. Apart from that someone wanted them all dead.
This was all part of me sowing the seeds for the ultimate “big bad” of the campaign. Someone whom they have already met, but not realized was evil. If you know anything about Dragon Heist and how the seasons play into the narrative (spring, summer, autumn, or winter, each have a different main villain connected to them) then you might recognize that we are playing the summer version.
A Short Rest
While the party had a short rest in the foyer, the two drow gunslingers who were traveling with them stood guard. Just as Alan and co. were finishing their break, the door to the final room slowly opened and a young, hesitant face peeked through.
“Tony? Tone? You there?” The young face disappeared. They could hear his voice beyond the now slightly ajar door. “No, I can’t see him. OK, OK, I’m going. Yes, I’m going.” The halfing appeared again and cautiously made his way down the hallway where the two drow were holding their breaths, back to the wall, guns raised.
The sound of a muffled pistol was enough to notify my players that the hafling didn’t make it back to the main chamber. They could hear the two drow sliding his body along the floor and dropping it into the sewer canal that ran through the hallway. They didn’t have very long before he would be missed.
So, fully healed after their short rest and with some of their abilities recharged, they decided on their marching order and burst into the main chamber where there were eight more wererats waiting for them.
I wasn’t sure if I should allow them a surprise round, especially seeing as the wererats almost certainly would be on guard after hearing numerous gun shots, but I was feeling generous, and they hadn’t realized quite how outnumbered they were about to be.
As they piled through the door, Alan led the charge; he was followed by Joe, then Dugg, then the two drow, and finally Arvene.
During the surprise round they all focused on the two wererats that were waiting by the door. They managed to take out one, thanks to two critical hits, and by the end of the round the second one was very badly hurt.
As each player had their turn, I slowly revealed a little more of the room which they had blindly charged into. It was a large cavern lit by torches that lined the walls. A river of sewage flowed through the middle of the room and a large pool sat in the center. Above the pool was a 20-foot platform with two sets of stairs leading up to it. On the platform was a dais by which a wererat priestess stood, hands raised in the air, carrying out some sort of ritual. Around the room, they could see seven more wererats, one of whom was much larger and more muscly than the others. They had fought and killed a “beefed up” wererat before (Tony), and it turned out this was his brother (Karl). Karl was not happy about his brother’s demise.
From the top of the dais, the priestess (Rottina Turner) called out, “So, you think you can disrupt our plans? Alton, this is your mess, clean it up!”
Alton was the wererat who had tricked Alan previously and had bitten him, turning him into a wererat too. So, when Alan saw Alton react to Rottina’s call, he instantly knew who he was aiming for next.
After the surprise round, which gave everyone a sense of the location, it was time for the wererats to make their attacks too. The battle took up the whole of the rest of the session and it took seven rounds to conclude the fight. Because there were so many wererats I decided to make things easier by grouping them together in initiative and using static damage for their attacks. This didn’t make them any less deadly.
Alan vs. Alton
Apart from the first round of combat, where Alan blinded one wererat and almost fell into the sewer, Alan spent the whole fight battling his new nemesis Alton. They fought on the steps leading to the priestess’s platform, and every round they had to roll dexterity saving throws to see if they could keep their footing.
Alan knew that wererats were immune to almost all forms of non-magical damage, but because of his newfound wererattedness, he refused to carry any silver weapons. But, he had an ace up his sleeve. At the start of the fight he cast Hunter’s Mark on Alton, meaning that every attack he made, he could add an additional amount of magical damage to his attack.
Eventually this tactic paid off and even though he was stabbing at Alton and the wounds appeared to be healing immediately, the magical damage was doing the trick.
By the final round of combat, both were looking badly hurt, and Alan was barely fighting the urge to give into his bestial nature and turn into a wererat. Each time he dealt damage he had to roll a wisdom saving throw to see if he could resist, and somehow he managed it every time. Eventually Alton failed his dexterity saving throw to stay on the stairs and fell onto the stone floor below. Alan took the opportunity to leap onto him and killed Alton as he landed.
Arevene and the Arvenes
Arvene was still recovering from her mortal wounds inflicted by a falling mahogany desk a couple of sessions earlier, so she kept to the periphery of the fight and tried to stay out of harm’s way. To aid her, she cast Mirror Image. This created three identical duplicates of herself that followed her around. These duplicates made it impossible for any attacker to hit her, so she was successful in avoiding harm.
As Arvene and the Arvenes circled around the combat, the two drow gunslingers focused on taking out Karl. At one stage the giant ferocious wererat (Karl) dropped one of the drow to zero hit points and Arvene only just managed to save him in time with a Healing Word spell.
But, in the end, the two gunslingers managed to defeat Karl and then turned their attention to one of the wererats who was fleeing the battle. They didn’t realize it, but this was Dasher Snobeedle, the halfling the party had been sent to rescue. He had been turned into a wererat and had joined the Shard Shunners gang.
Grease is the word
Joe, meanwhile, focused on Rottina. As the party’s resident spellcaster it made sense for him to attack the priestess. Rottina began the encounter by casting a Stinking Cloud on everyone as they ran through the door. For the next two rounds she only used cantrips to attack, so she could maintain concentration on the cloud. However, as soon as the party realized they could move out from the cloud and not have to spend their turns retching and reeling, which they roleplayed in equal measure, she dropped the cloud and tried to cast Hold Person on Joe to stop him attacking. He resisted her spell, but that just made her angry.
By the final round he had scrambled up to the platform where she was. He dodged the carefully placed Grease spell which she cast to prevent anyone climbing the stairs, and faced her. By this stage Dugg, who had been Rambo-ing around the room during the fight, meticulously taking out wererats around the perimeter, had made his way to the top of the platform also. The two of them flanked her, so she had no chance. After a couple of well-timed Burning Hands spells from Joe, Dugg scored the killing blow, knocking her from the 20-foot platform into the bubbling muck below.
As the fight came to its conclusion, only one wererat was left standing. The rest had been offered a chance to turn themselves in, but refused, facing death and glory instead. The final scrawny wererat ran for the exit, just as Dugg realized who it was. “Dasher!” he called out. “Stop. We can help you.” But he was too high on up on the platform above the melee and his voice didn’t carry. As Dasher reached the door, one of the drow fired their last silver bullet. It stuck him between the shoulder blades and as he fell to the ground, his body reverted to its natural state. There on the ground, in a pile of his own blood, lay Dasher Shobeedle. His parents were going to be very upset. END
I really enjoyed DMing this session. The module I was using, The Shard Shunners Faction Mission, was a really good mini dungeon crawl. Perfect for my players and exactly what Dragon Heist is missing.
Sometimes, when it’s just combat, a session can get a bit stilted, especially if your players don’t take the time to roleplay. Last night, however, was probably my favorite DMing experience of Dragon Heist so far, as they all really thought about playing their characters, and so the battle was so much fun to play. It’s just a shame that this isn’t actually an official part of the campaign—I hope that’s not too damning a statement: the best bit of our campaign so far is the bit that isn’t in the official campaign at all…
What did we learn?
DM Tip: Using average damage and grouping enemies together is a good way of speeding up combat. When there are so many elements to a battle, it can feel like a long time between a player’s turns. So, any way which helps you to expedite this is worth considering. I also didn’t roll for attacks made between NPCs—i.e., the drow allies when they were fighting the wererats. Instead, I just described what happened, which made the whole process a lot quicker.
Next week our Dragon Heist party will have to decide what to do next. Do they try to revive Dasher? They did find the materials needed to do this, but definitely had other plans for that 1,000gp diamond. But there is a reward for Dasher. Will it be worth it though?
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