Waterdeep Dragon Heist
Dragon Heist session 38: The Great Nimblewight Hunt
As they entered the small attic room above Valetta’s office, they heard a metal clicking sound coming from the darkness. Two bright eyes peered out from the shadows and Dugg recognized the silhouette from the balcony earlier. Nim couldn’t talk, so Valetta translated the odd robotic hand signs. Weird mechanical limbs and a gaunt metal face gave the robot a sorrowful look. It turned out he was lonely. So he had created a friend. But that friend escaped and was likely the cause of all their troubles. Well, some of them at least.
Last night was the 38th session in our online Waterdeep Dragon Heist D&D campaign and our level four adventurers were on the hunt for a nimblewright.
We have been playing Dragon Heist online via Skype, using Discord, Trello, and D&D Beyond to keep track of campaign information, all whilst streaming our sessions live on Twitch. To date our record number of viewers is eight and a half.
My DM setup ranges from a single laptop when I’m not anticipating any combat or have forgotten to prepare anything, to two laptops, a webcam, some photography lights, my Dwarven Forge terrain tiles, and a handful of badly painted minis. Last night it was just a single laptop, my notebook, and pen.
Additional Dragon Heist supplements I’ve been using for this campaign:
Residents of Trollskull Alley
Waterdeep: Expanded Faction Missions
Scrying into his handkerchief
The Press of Waterdeep
Shard Shunners: a Zhentarim Faction Mission and DM’s ResourceShard Shunners: a Zhentarim Faction Mission and DM’s Resource
Fireball – A Waterdeep: Dragon Heist DM’s resource.
Waterdeep: City Encounters
We were without Little Joe our drow sorcerer last night, as Brexit had made him too angry to play, but hopefully he’ll be back next week and we can forge a bright, new, dystopian, apocalyptic future together.
Dugg, Earth Genasi Fighter – freelance dungsweeper and estranged son from House Roznar.
Alan Crabpopper, Human Ranger – a harper and private investigator. A wererat in denial.
Arvene Galanodel, Half-Elf Cleric – priestess of Tymora, fake harper. Resurrected.
Little Joe, Drow Sorcerer – scourge of the fenêtreman’s guid, member of Bregan D’earth. ABSENT
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 drow secret society. And one has been enlisted as a reserve dungsweeper.
Last session, after an encounter with a gang of devil-worshippers in an alley way, the heroes made their way to the House of Inspired Hands, at the Temple of Gond. They were searching for clues to the perpetrator of a fireball that killed 12 people outside their mansion, and had been directed here to find out what they could about a mysterious “puppet man.” It turns out, this puppet man was a rogue nimblewright—a weird robot—created by Nim. Nim handed them a device that would help them scour the city for this nimblewright, which they took and left the House of Inspired Hands to continue their search.
With the odd buzzing and click coming from the detector, Alan, Joe, and Dugg made their way along the long corridor of the temple towards the grand entrance hall. A robed dwarf was busy sweeping up the remains of the broken stained glass window and frowned in Joe’s direction as they left. “Oh, by the way,” called Valetta from behind them, “I forgot to mention. If you do find this rogue nimblewright, it really must be destroyed without any fuss. We can’t afford for the whole world to know that we can’t keep our creations under control now, can we.”
We started the session with a quick recap for Arvene who missed last week. While Alan, Joe, and Dugg explored the House of Inspired Hands and learned all about Nim and his creation, Arvene waited outside the temple. Keeping an eye out for trouble, reducing the amount of work the dungeon master had to do. That was the plan at least.
The heroes were inside the temple for almost an hour, and Arvene isn’t very patient, so her player asked what she was doing during this time. I hadn’t decided, so I asked them roll on one of the tables from the Waterdeep: City Encounters supplement to find out. This was a dangerous decision and could have completely taken over the session.
Thankfully, however, it turned out she had a very helpful encounter with a griffon rider and a criminal-at-large.
In this campaign, the griffon riders of Waterdeep are an extension of the police force and are based in the Halls of Justice. They work closely with the Lord’s Alliance and can often be seen roaming the skies keeping the peace from above. Arvene’s encounter began with her noticing a shadow looming over her. She glanced upwards to see a griffon passing low above the street with its rider leaning over the edge, scanning the roads for something.
A good perception check (19) from Arvene revealed the griffon rider’s quarry. A dark, hooded figure slumping from shadowy doorway to doorway was trying to stay hidden from view. Arvene didn’t recognize them, but realized this must be whom the rider was after. At this point the rider was heading in the wrong direction.
Arvene wanted to help, but didn’t want to get her hands dirty by tackling the criminal. So she used a Thaumaturgy spell to make the flames in lamppost by where the criminal was hiding glow purple. This had the desired effect and the griffon rider, instantly noticed the purple flames and sped towards the hooded figure, who gave chase and ran down an alley. The griffon rider followed, nodding thanks at Arvene as he did.
The hunt begins
Joe, Alan, and Dugg exited the building just as Arvene was feeling pleased with herself and the group recounted their exploits and decided to head back to Trollskull Manor to rest before starting their search for the nimblewright.
Along the way, Dugg was using the detector, which they were told will let them know if a nimblewright was within 500 feet. Halfway through the North Ward the detector began buzzing, whirring, and flashing and they followed the signal to the North Ward Watch House, somewhere they had previously encountered wererats and devils in a cell.
They spent some time in the Watch House, talking to the guard on duty, Ryan. To begin with he was not impressed by Alan’s Bureau of Investigators. After all, they were responsible for the previous watch captain being fired. But once Arvene and Dugg left Alan to do the talking, a solid charisma check from their leader (18) left Ryan practically eating out of his hands.
My Achy Breaky heart
Ryan was happy to answer all of Alan’s questions about nimblewrights, including the fact that there was one in the Halls of Justice in the Sea Ward and one at the Sea Maiden’s Fair in the Dock Ward. He also took Alan to see the Watch’s nimblewright.
In the staff area of the Watch House there was a billiards table, a sofa, and a large glass case that stood from the floor to the ceiling. Inside the case stood a skinny, metal, humanoid figure. “What is it?” asked Alan.
“Just put in a dragon and you’ll see.” Ryan pointed towards a coin slot next to a large red button on the side of the glass case. Alan inserted a gold coin.
Immediately the nimblewright sprang into action. Shuffling rhythmically from left to right as a mechanical voice blurted out the lyrics to Billy Ray Cyrus’ Achy Breaky Heart. Clearly this was not the nimblewright they were looking for.
Thanking Ryan for his help, and whistling the tune as he went, Alan led Arvene, Dugg, and Joe away from the watch house, with a promise not to let Arvene come back.
Back to Trollskull Manor
Back at the Manor, they received a letter from Mirt the Moneylender thanking them for their work defeating the wererats and requesting a meeting to offer more work. Meanwhile Dugg instructed Jeffrey his apprentice to test the device throughout the night to ensure the nimblewright didn’t come within 500 of the house without them noticing. Then he went to sleep.
Alan spoke to constable Crowley about the investigation into the fireball and Joe discovered that when you ask a random stranger in a pub to “deal with a local competitor” it can end in said competitor and their place of business being transported to the center of Avernus in the nine hells. Poor Frewn.
After a long rest, the party decided to go see Mirt on the way to the Halls of Justice. On at the Halls, their plan was to see if they could borrow a griffon and circle the city using the detector to quickly find the nimblewright. This was a good plan, and one actually suggested in the campaign book.
Halls of Justice
After seeing Mirt the Moneylender and receiving another side-mission, they headed to the Halls of Justice to see if theirs was the nimblewright they were after. It wasn’t.
Like the nimblewright in the North Ward watch house, this one had a simple function and had clearly been in place for a very long time. Alan noticed the layers of dust on it, suggesting no recent movement. Certainly it hadn’t been in Trollskull Alley setting off any fireballs lately.
They did, however, get accosted in the Halls by an elderly, gnomish tour guide who mistook them for her group. She then led them around the entire Halls of Justice: a six-hour tour complete with views from each of the 16 high towers, before ending the at the fabled griffon stables.
Just as Nora their guide was wrapping up the tour, reeling off a long list of the names of griffons currently housed in the stables, Arvene spotted a familiar face dismounting one of the griffons. It was the same rider whom she had helped the day before. Getting his attention by creating a purple flame she tried to persuade him to give her a ride around the city to “see the sights.”
She was very convincing.
A flight to remember
With the nimblewright detector in one hand and Alec Traybake gripped tightly in the other, Arvene was taken on a whirlwind tour of all Waterdeep. From the magnificent walking statues to the slums of the Dock Ward, she took it all in and was able to scan the whole city for nimblewrights in less than two hours. Six times the detector went off and she noted the location of each. She already knew about the ones in the House of Inspired Hands, the North Ward watch house, and the Halls of Justice, but now they had to decide where to investigate next: the decrepit Kolat Towers, the Sea Maiden’s Fair in the Dock Ward, or Grallhund Villa in the North. END
Although purely roleplay with no combat, this was a fun and unusually constructive session and I was impressed that my players didn’t get too distracted or go off on any wild tangents. They also didn’t upset any NPCs. I wonder if they’re starting to see that if they treat people nicely then nice things might happen in return. Probably not.
The Waterdeep: City Encounters supplement from the DMs Guild is definitely one of the best resources available for Dragon Heist DMs. There’s so much content and it really helped fill in a gap for me. The whole session pretty much spun out from it, with Arvene’s encounter at the start of giving the party the inspiration to pursue the nimblewright from the skies.
What did we learn?
DM Tip: When you introduce a lot of locations all at once, try to have just one stand-out element for each location for your players to remember. Otherwise it can be a bit too much like an information dump, where they forget everything six seconds later. For the griffon rider’s aerial tour of Waterdeep, I had decided that there would be six locations that would set off the nimblewright detector and for each place I found an image and created a three-word description. I’m naively hoping that sharing the images and having the brief descriptions will ensure my players can recall the details without too much prompting on my part next time we play. It almost certainly won’t work like that in reality though. But I hold on to my naive optimism tightly. It’s all I’ve got.
Next week they’ll have to decide where to investigate next. Each of the remaining locations is potentially fraught with peril and danger, so it may well be the final session. But I hope not.
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