Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
Dragon Heist session 43: Wild Magic!
As they stalked through the courtyard, Dugg could feel the nimblewright detector buzzing and whirling wildly. The robot was close. It directed them to an alleyway. Little Joe pushed his way forward. He saw amongst a pile of garbage a hunched over figure covered in a well-worn cloak. Casting Mage Hand he reached out to grab and lift the cloak. As he did, Joe suddenly remembered why you don’t cast magic in the Court of the White Bull. Wild Magic surged around him as he was magically lifted from the ground. As he began to fly upward, his body duplicated. Once, then twice, and then again so there were now four floating Little Joes. They hovered in the alley just as the hunched over figure leapt up. It was the nimblewright they were after. And he had two swords. ROLL INITIATIVE!
Last night was the 43rd session in our online Waterdeep Dragon Heist D&D campaign and the level 4 heroes had cornered a rogue robot down an alley. The only problem was that every time someone cast a spell, a random magical effect occurred. It was going to be an interesting session!
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. Last night our record number of viewers rose to ten.
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 I set up my some 3-D printed tiles ready for the alley-based combat.
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
Fireball – A Waterdeep: Dragon Heist DM’s resource.
Waterdeep: City Encounters
Dragon Season: A Waterdeep Dragon Heist DM’s resource
Our Dragon Heist party:
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 guild, 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 drow secret society. And one has been enlisted as a reserve dungsweeper.
Last session, they were on the hunt for a mysterious nimblewright (a robot) that was in possession of the stone of Golorr (a thing). Their search led them to the Court of the White Bull, an ancient marketplace where strange magical effects occur whenever a spell is cast. In an alley off the main court they found the nimblewright. Little Joe approached, and before he realized what he was doing, cast mage hand to lift the shroud covering the robot. Sparks began to fly and magical energy fizzled in the air as random affects took hold. The nimblewright stood up, drew its weapons, and dashed towards the group.
You call that a surge?
Little Joe bounded up into the air, his four arcane clones circling around him as he took off over the alleyway. Below him Alan, Arvene, and Dugg stood facing the nimblewright. It drew a sharp shortsword and equally pointy rapier, and started pacing toward them. Dugg drew his shortsword and silver hammer. Alan drew his swords too. Arvene shrugged. It was going to be one of those days. She sent a prayer of blessing up to Tymora and the magic of the Court took hold. Her spell failed, and she began shouting loudly. Very loudly.
Thus the session began with my favorite phrase, and my new favorite scenario. As they rolled for initiative, I quickly began consulting the Wild Magic table looking excitedly at the things that might happen.
The Wild Magic in the Court of the White Bull means that every time a player casts a spell of any kind they must roll percentile dice (d100s) and consult the Wild Magic table in the Player’s Handbook as a surge of Wild Magic occurs. There are 50 options on the table, but if this gets too repetitive, I also had a homebrewed Wild Magic table prepared just in case.
Examples of the Wild Magic effects which can occur include:
“You cast levitate on yourself”
“Your hair falls out and grows back within 24 hours”
“You turn into a potted plant for the next minute”
“You are frightened of the nearest creature”
“You cast grease centered on yourself”
“For the next minute, you must shout whenever you speak”
The last one is what had affected Arvene. Her shouting would be sure to attract unwanted attention. If the bright flashing lights, sounds of battle, and general fracas didn’t already.
Dugg and Alan both attacked the nimblewright, and both managed to hit one out of two attempts. However, they did little damage as it was resistant to piercing and slashing attacks. Meanwhile Arvene’s bless spell failed and she started to shout loudly about her failure. Then Little Joe, flying 20 feet above the alley and still surrounded by three duplicate clones, cast firebolt at the nimblewright. He hit dealing a single point of damage. So far, in one whole round, the four adventurers had managed a total of four points of damage. At that rate this was going to be a very long battle.
Having cast a spell, Little Joe then rolled percentile dice once again. This time he rolled 01: “Roll on the Wild Magic table at the start of each of your turns for the next minute.” Let the chaos begin.
Alan and Dugg continued to assault the nimblewright. It showed no capacity for negotiation so they felt they had no choice but to destroy it before it harmed anyone else. This was in consistent with their instructions from Valetta at the House of Inspired Hands. “If you discover the nimblewright, please destroy it and we will pay you handsomely.” Even if it wasn’t attacking them, the promise of reward would have been incentive enough.
Meanwhile Arvene and Little Joe continued to cause Wild Magic surges as they cast spells into the fray. First, Arvene cast bless on her companions. This caused all creatures within 30 feet to turn invisible. Little Joe instantly lost his invisibility when he cast minor illusion and then burning hands. Due to his roll of 01 earlier, he now had to roll three times on the Wild Magic table: he began randomly teleporting 20 feet every six seconds; he created a fog cloud centered on himself; and he grew a long beard made of feathers. Little Joe was beginning to enjoy the Wild Magic a little too much.
The third round saw Alan attempt to guess the command word that controlled the nimblewright. One-by-one, he called out the following: “Aubergine,” “Hot pants,” “Wererat,” “Holistic medicine.” This had no effect. There was no command word that controlled the nimblewright. I wasn’t going to tell him that though.
In round four, Dugg and Alan managed to grapple the now substantially damaged nimblewright. They had all lost their invisibility—apart from the confused housewives and angry veterinary nurses in the adjacent buildings less than 30 feet away—and so Dugg held the robot in place as Alan, still calling out random command words, pummeled the nimblewright.
Meanwhile Little Joe, still flying, teleporting, duplicating, and really enjoying himself, cast firebolt once again. This time the Wild Magic effect was to confuse himself and begin attacking the nearest creature—one of his own duplicates, as his skin turned a vibrant shade of blue. His spell hit his target, however, destroying the nimblewright and send cogs, screws, and metal parts flying about the alley.
Combat over, the heroes regrouped. Arvene was still invisible and panicking that she had finally become a ghost. Alan and Dugg searched the remains of the nimblewright for clues and Little Joe considered casting more magic to make the surges continue.
Just as Dugg discovered a note in the robot’s remains, Arvene alerted them to footsteps approaching the alley. It was the city watch. Alerted by the fireworks, smoke, loud bangs, shouts, and general mayhem of the alley.
Five city watchmen rounded the corner. One they recognized as Gary the corrupt policeman from the Gralhund Villa event, the others were new faces. It quickly transpired that these new faces were also clearly corrupt cops and working for the Zhentarim. They insisted that Alan and co. must have the stone of Golorr and began threatening them. Alan, never one to back down, drew his shortswords ready for a fight, Dugg cracked his knuckles, Little Joe glided down behind them, and Arvene shrugged again. This time she cast command at the two lead cops. Both halted in the tracks as instructed, but the accompanying Wild Magic surge sent Arvene to the Astral Plane for the rest of her turn.
Thoroughly confused and partially intimidated, the remaining three cops decided to leave the heroes to it. “You clearly don’t have the stone. Oh wait. Does anyone else hear that? Sounds like some crime going on over there. Stop thieves!” And they ran off pretending to chase criminals.
As Arvene returned, Alan and co. decided to head away from the scene of the encounter.
They decided their next stop should be the House of Inspired Hands. Perhaps Valetta could shed some light on the nimblewright. Maybe she had a method for retrieving its last instruction? Either way, there was a reward in it for them and that was enough. So they headed up the north road towards the Sea Ward. Dugg remembered the scrap of paper and uncurled it. It was a map and it had “Thrakkus” written on it with an “X.” END
We concluded the session at the house of Inspired Hands, where the party all leveled up as they took a short rest. Technically you should only level up on a long rest, but as this is the start of a long chain of events that might not be for a while, and they really need the power boost. At level five they all get some pretty exciting power upgrades, higher level spells, and extra attacks. This is really going to come in handy.
I also enjoyed this session as I got the chance to use some of my cool Combat Risers. These are the clear plastic stands which I used to indicate when a character is flying; they are made by a company called Combat Tier and really help to add an additional dimension to your game—even if you’re only playing via Skype.
What did we learn?
DM Tip: Make your own Wild Magic table. In fact, make you own tables for anything. If you have spare preparation time before your sessions, then creating random tables is both fun and rewarding, even if you never end up using them. It’s a great way to get your imagination going, or of getting past writer’s block.
In our campaign, Little Joe has a tendency to jump through windows whenever his player gets bored—this happens a lot and probably means I need to work harder on engaging him as a player, or that he’s living out some childhood ambition. So, when I had a couple of spare minutes, I decided to create a random table so that the next time he jumps through a window I can have some recourse prepared, not as a punishment, but as a way of hiding my amazement that he actually did it again. So, here are some things Little Joe can expect to happen when he next jumps through a window: landing on the back of a dung cart; breaking up a mugging; landing on a couple in flagrante delicto; the window is actually a portal into a bad guy’s lair; he lands in an open sewer; and two orcs are passing the window carrying a trampoline which he jumps right onto and gets catapulted straight back into the room he jumped from.
Next week they’ll see what Valetta has to say about the nimblewright and hopefully set off on the final stages of the campaign. Chapter four begins a chain of events that will potentially climax in the heroes getting their hands on a cache of 500,000 gold coins. Either that or they’ll spend the rest of their lives casting spells in White Bull Court just to see what further chaos they can cause.
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