Blinking in the light of the midday sun Alan, Arvene, and Dugg clambered out from the sewers. Arvene helped up poor Louis, who was still shaking from the shock of seeing the decapitated head of his best friend. Little Joe had exited first and they were surprised to see him talking animatedly with a pony-tailed man wearing an ostentatious hat, a red leather thong with matching boots, and two crossed bandoleers. Joe turned to his friends. “Erm, hi everyone. Meet Zardoz. My… friend?”
Last night was the 31st session in our online Waterdeep Dragon Heist
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 which lead to a player character death, we returned to our old friend Skype.
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.
Alan, Arvene, Dugg, and Joe have been through the mill. Two of them have died and been brought back. One is a secret wererat. One is being blackmailed by the leader of a secret society. One has been enlisted as a reserve dungsweeper. And one has a really bad stomach ache. Like really bad.
Last session, after a very protracted investigation (30 sessions’ worth; that’s 60 hours of gameplay!) the group finally ended the scourge of the wererats in Waterdeep. Now they’ve got the decapitated head of halfling wererat in a jar and two of the gang are suffering from severe nausea and cramps.
Not so secret any more
It took Alan and co. a couple of seconds to realize the tall, flamboyant man standing with Joe and the gunslingers was who Joe meant. The pause between “My” and “friend” made Alan curious. Arvene was sure she’d seen this man before but couldn’t work out when. And Dugg was admiring his red leather knee high boots.
The session started with a brief encounter of the weird kind. Once again my terrible Sean Connery accent came into play. I can only apologize to anyone who was watching on Twitch.
“Well,” Zardoz began, “It looks like you guys aren’t as disgustingly awful as I feared. Good job Joe. This is one step closer to getting Captain Staget on our side. You’ll make a fine member of Bregan D’earthe yet. I can see you’re all a little worse for wear—here take this.” He tossed a small sack that clinked as Alan caught it. “Fel’rekt, Krebbyg, let’s go before the watch arrives. I should think the Cellarer’s and Plumber’s guild will be very pleased to have their territory back. Now, get on home and rest, someone will be along soon with your next assignment.”
And with that he left, taking the two drow gunslingers with him, and leaving behind three very curious members of the party. This was the first time Alan, Dugg, and Arvene had interacted with Zardoz Zord and until now Joe had not let on his affiliation. Needless to say there was much animated discussion on the way back to Trollskull Manor. Joe’s secret was not so secret any more.
The journey home didn’t take very long, I’ve started to hand-wave most of the travel in the campaign to expedite the narrative. But I asked the party to describe one thing they were doing along the way. Arvene was looking after Louis, whom she had started to feel quite attached to; Dugg was listing his objectives: bath, sleep, bath, cure disease, bath; Joe stopped to make a deposit at the Cassalanter bank; and Alan was trying very hard to cover up the fact he was a wererat, even though no one was suspicious or asking any questions.
They arrived at Trollskull Manor in the early afternoon and found it very busy. Shorval, their tavern manager and the leader of a group of 40 Luskan refugees they had given shelter to (and employed, or maybe enslaved—that’s yet to be resolved), told them that they had made an impressive 323gp over the last few days.
However, they had now run out of booze and all of the associated guilds were refusing to deliver due to the adventurers’ poor reputation.
The party was surprised to hear that the guilds were upset until Shorval reminded them of the reasons why: rumors of burning down the Field Ward, menacing urchins, upsetting taxi drivers, breaking into the Waterdeep Wazoo, insulting the city guard, etc.
As they discussed how they could rectify the problem—perhaps Mirt the moneylender could help?—Dugg began feeling very unwell.
He didn’t know it yet but Dugg had contracted sewer plague the previous day—having fallen in the filth and then failed the corresponding constitution saving throws.
Detailed in the Dungeon Master’s Guide as a generic form of illness that incubates in sewers, symptoms of sewer plague include fatigue, cramps, and the infected character suffering exhaustion. He would also only regain half the normal number of hit points from spending Hit Dice and regain no hit points from finishing a long rest.
For now he was writhing on the floor, desperately clutching his stomach and calling out for Jeffrey—his glazier apprentice from a few sessions previous—to come to his aid.
Flavoring the last egg
As the party tried to work out what to do next, Alan, who had the severed head of Dasher Snobeedle in his satchel, started getting hungry. He went to the bar and returned with a large jar of pickled eggs and began eating them. It was at this point that they realized Alan’s bag was getting a bit smelly and “goopy.” So, leaving one egg in the jar to add flavor, Alan placed the decapitated head into the brine and put it on the table.
Dasher stared back at them with an accusing smile that they all found quite unnerving. I felt this was the least I could do, considering they had decided to unnecessarily decapitate the corpse of the person they were trying to rescue. Rest assured there will be consequences eventually, but for now they’ll have to put up with Dasher’s disquieting grin.
Meanwhile, as Alan “flavored the last egg,” Arvene began penning a letter to Captain Staget, the leader of the Dock Ward Watch. They had narrowly avoided falling foul of Staget before and he had set them the task of eliminating the wererats and uncovering corruption in his force. They really wanted him to like them.
The letter of the law
Using the paper bird they were given at the beginning of the campaign—a magical parchment that flies through the air to its intended recipient—Arvene wrote out the letter and sent it to Staget. He received it within five minutes and sent his reply, to which Arvene then immediately replied also.
Mission Success. Celarer’s and Plumber Guild substation 32c liberated. 30-40 wererats dealt with. Shard Shunner’s hit list found; looking to provide protection. Hostage liberated, now at bar. Love and Kisses Arvene G.
p.s. Dasher dead – definitely killed by wererats. We killed the wererats.
Cellarers and Plumbers will be pleased. 40 dead wererats = 40 dead bodies. Where ‘dat? Hostage details please. Dasher dead 🙁 Parents will be mad. You’re telling them, not me. What news of you-know-what?
No worries, bodies flushed down sewer. Don’t worry R.E. Dasher’s folks, we’re on it. We still haven’t found what you’re looking for. Hostage boy Louis is fine in our care. Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool. I will call you soon. X
Just as Arvene sent the final missive to Staget, she leant out of the window and watched the paper bird flutter across the street. As she turned back to address the room the whole manor shook with the sound of an explosion.
This is what I’d been waiting for. I’d intended that the fireball would happen as soon as they arrived back at the mansion, but they had so much they wanted to do that I thought I would wait until a lull in the action. An hour and a half into our two hour session and what I planned to happen at the beginning finally did.
Windows rattled as the roar of the explosion filled Trollskull Alley. Charred bodies and anguished screams flew through the air. A thick cloud of acrid smoke billowed outward from the blast, which seemed to have occurred right outside the door to Trollskull Manor. END
Playing RPGs allows you to do things that in real life you would or could never do. The possibilities are literally endless. So why is it that given any opportunity at all, people, and by people I mean the disreputable and shameless players I sometimes call friends, gravitate towards the most heinous and despicable acts? There really was no need to chop off and pickle the head of Dasher Snobeedle. But for every dastardly act there will be consequences. I keep a list. And even if the campaign ends up going on forever and we never finish the actual story, there will be repercussions.
Also, one of my players did this:
It goes with the t-shirt I had made of the party. It’s the uniform for the TM Bar that the forty Luskan refugees wear. On the reverse are the 40 names, which he spontaneously asked me to provide.
What did we learn?
DM Tip: As your campaign progresses, and your players reach higher levels, don’t be afraid to embrace hand waving. It will save you time and allows you to quickly get from A to B to expedite your story. By “hand waving” we mean not making your players roleplay every single situation, journey, or minor encounter they come across. Rather than spend a whole two hour session traipsing across the city, you can say, “It takes three hours to get there and nothing interesting happens along the way.”
Next week the investigation begins. Will they react in time to investigate before the watch arrives? Will they discover who set off the fireball? Will anyone eat the last pickled egg? Two out of three questions the answer is going to be “no.”
WE ARE AMAZON ASSOCIATES
This post was last modified on December 9, 2019 2:05 pm
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