‘D&D Waterdeep Dragon Heist’ Session 32 – Fireball!
Dragon Heist session 32: Fireball!
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.
Last night was the 32nd session in our online Waterdeep Dragon Heist D&D campaign and our group has finally begun Chapter 3: Fireball!
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.
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 Resource
Fireball – A Waterdeep: Dragon Heist DM’s resource.
Dugg, Earth Genasi Fighter – dungsweeper and estranged son of 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, member of Bregan D’earth.
Previously in Dragon Heist
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 they returned to Trollskull Manor, or the TM Bar, as it’s now called, and found that in their absence business had been booming. Just as they were celebrating, and deciding on their next course of action, the walls of the manor shook with the force of an explosion just outside.
Dragon Heist FIREBALL!
Alan, Arvene, and Joe all dashed out of Trollskull Manor and into a courtyard filled with smoke and screams. A wave of Joe’s hands and a gust of arcane wind dispersed some of the fumes so they could see what was going on. It was carnage. There were corpses lying strewn on the ground, charred and blackened with soot from the blast. Arvene noticed a boy, hiding behind a barrel on the far side of the square. As she went to him, Alan and Joe tried to work out what had happened. They recognized a couple of the bodies, but were too late to help them. They counted 12 dead in total. Someone, somewhere, had a lot of explaining to do.
The session began with the three party members in the square trying to ascertain as much as they could before the guards arrived. I had told them they had five minutes to find out what they could, so they quickly went around trying to identify some of the bodies.
Surveying the devastation
There were 12 people caught in the blast, seven they recognized and five they didn’t. All of the seven were locals they’d seen around Trollskull before. Two were close friends: Embric, the fire genasi, and Gwenda, a harper and the owner of Books, Books and More Bloody Books.
But it was the five people they didn’t recognize that drew their attention. Two were human males, wearing dark cloaks with Zhentarim markings. One was a gnome with no obvious distinguishing marks. The last two were half-elf females, dressed like nobility, but none they had met before.
Time was ticking, so while Alan and Joe investigated the bodies, Arvene looked for witnesses. She found the boy behind the barrel was called Matrem; Fala Lefaliir, owner of the local pharmaceutical apothecary shop; Olive Mungoblast, wife of the local tailor; and Jezrynne Hornraven, another noble she didn’t recognize.
Arvene comforted them and with a very strong Charisma roll (21) convinced them all to take shelter inside Trollskull Manor, where she would interrogate them later.
The Watch arrives
After five minutes of checking out the scene, the Watch arrived, lead by Sergeant Seath Cromley and Barnibus Blastwind, Honorable Member of the Watchful Order of Magists. They quickly took control of the crime scene, as 20 or more other guards arrived, cordoned off the area and began taking notes.
Sergeant Cromley approached Alan and began questioning him. He told them that they would need to go back inside the manor and await further instructions. “As you can understand,” he said, “you’re going to have stay closed until we get to the bottom of this and we’re sure that your customers or yourselves weren’t the intended targets. It shouldn’t take more than a month.”
Hearing that the bar might be closed for a month was all the motivation they needed. Instantly they started forming plans of how they could solve the mystery themselves.
“That would introduce too many variables into an already confounding equation,” said Barnibus to their offer of assistance.
“Trust in the Watch,” Cromley added dismissively.
Interrogating the witnesses
While all this was happening, Dugg was laid up inside the manor, suffering from cramps and nausea caused by Sewer Rot. He was rolling on the floor of his bedroom, clutching a large pickling jar to his chest and moaning for help. Eventually Jeffrey, his latest apprentice, appeared with some green tea. ”It’s made from Mork-root, so should make you feel better,” he said. It did relieve some of Dugg’s symptoms, just enough for him to be useful once more.
So, while the Watch set up shop outside, Arvene, Alan, Dugg, and Joe began talking to the witnesses. This is what they learned:
Martem Trec ducked right behind a rain barrel once the explosion went off. Then he heard a “plop” and found a shiny necklace in the barrel. Arvene convinced him to hand it over and realized it was a magical necklace of Fireballs.
Fala Lefaliir saw someone limping away from the scene. “He was badly burned and casting glances behind him as if being followed.”
Jezrynne Hornraven was convinced she had seen a “puppet-man” on the rooftops hurl something into the crowd that caused the fireball.
Once they had gleaned this much information, the party attempted to put the clues together. As they were doing this, Seath and Barnibus re-entered the tavern and asked if they could commandeer one of the rooms as a base of operations. Joe generously offered his room.
Circle of Truth
Once set up in Joe’s room, the police persons called in the adventurers to ask a few questions. On the floor was a circle in chalk. Seath explained that this was a Zone of Truth ritual and any questions they had to ask would be done so inside the circle. The party agreed to this and entered.
They each had to make a charisma saving throw to see if they were affected by the circle. Alan and Dugg failed and so could not lie. Arvene and Joe passed, so they could lie. Seath then explained that Barnibus would know which of them had passed or not passed, and so a very complicated game of Truth or Lies got underway.
Barnibus asked the following questions:
To your knowledge is there anyone in Waterdeep who may want you eliminated, dead, or defeated?
How many residents currently reside in Trollskull Manor?
What is your relationship with Floon Blagmaar?
Have any of you been around anyone performing enchantment magics within the last 24 hours?
What do you know of Jarlaxle Beanre?
Can you or anyone in your charge perform a Fireball spell? Are you registered?
There is a strong conjuration aura coming from your mansion. Conjuration is often connected to rituals that bring the dead back to life, could you explain this?
Do you recognize any of the deceased? And could you speak on their behalf to give permission for a ritual necromantic spell?
During the interrogation Alan and Dugg mostly stayed silent, except when Alan accidentally revealed he was secretly a wererat and Dugg admitted to liking Maroon Five. Arvene and Joe mostly told the truth. Mostly.
They had to be reminded who Floon Blagmaar was (someone they rescued in the first chapter), and none had heard of Jarlaxle Benare (although they’ve all definitely met him).
At the end of the questioning, Barnibus stepped forward into the circle and said that they could ask him one question and he would answer truthfully.
It took them a good 10 minutes to decide on the question, but they went with: “What do you think happened?”
Barnibus took a deep breath and began to sum up the crime scene. “It seems there are three conclusions to draw from what I have discovered so far. First, the gnome was running from armed pursuers, of which there were three. The third person who was chasing the gnome is not among the dead. Second, the gnome and his pursuers were moving towards the tavern when the fireball went off. Third, neither the gnome nor the pursuers saw the blast coming.” He took another breath. “I think. It’s all a bit confusing to be honest.” END
Finally, a bit of investigation and intrigue to get the heart of Dragon Heist Fireball! underway. It’s only taken 32 sessions!
Last night’s was a session with lots of NPCs, which meant many dubious accents to keep track of. I started off with Seath and Barnibus having Cockney and German accents respectively, but I’m pretty sure they switched back and forth at least twice during the session, until they both ended up sounding like the love child of Jason Stratham and Christoph Waltz.
The party was sad to see some friendly NPCs caught in the blast. Their postman Jebidiah Catflap and Embric the fire genasi were both well-loved characters. Hopefully this will spur them onto find out who is responsible.
What did we learn?
DM Tip: When running an investigation-encounter like this it can be difficult to know how much to information to spoon feed your players. While you want them find out everything by themselves, sometimes you just have to signpost the clues and make sure they get them. Otherwise you can end up 32 sessions down the hole and no closer to solving anything. As long as you make it fun, your players aren’t likely to mind.
Next time we play will be after the Christmas break when the investigation will—hopefully—continue. The heroes must follow the trail to find out who this mysterious puppet man is and why he’s been throwing fireballs all over the place.
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