Dragon Heist session 51: Toad
Meanwhile, Dugg decided to go in through the front door and came face-to-face with Amrath. He raised his silver hammer and attacked. “You fool!” she cried. “You’re too late. Manshoon is on his way. You’re doomed.” She waved her hands and called down a pillar of radiant light, but Dugg just managed to dodge out of the way in time. He smiled. If he’s going down, he thought, he’s taking this green-haired wench with him.
Last night was the 51st session in our online D&D campaign. We are playing through Waterdeep Dragon Heist, and have reached (potentially) the final chapter of the book. Our level five heroes begin the session within touching distance of the mysterious Stone of Golorr; and after 50 sessions, this is what the whole campaign has been leading towards.
We began 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 simultaneous viewers is ten. Last night, however, we continued our trial of Roll20, a digital tabletop roleplaying game platform. We were using the official Dragon Heist Roll20 conversion and, this was our eighth session using Roll20. We now consider ourselves to be passable laypersons of the platform.
As with most official campaigns, there are a number of unofficial supplements and expansions available on the DMs Guild to help bolster your game. Additional Dragon Heist supplements I’ve been using for this campaign include:
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 Resource
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. They are searching for the Stone of Golorr. It’s a mysterious object that will potentially lead them to a hoard of embezzled treasure, but they’re not the only ones on the trail. The Zhentarim (bad guys), the Xanathar Guild (also bad guys), Bregan D’Earth (more bad guys), and the Cassalanters (rich folks, and therefore probably also bad guys) are desperate for the stone too, and willing to do whatever it takes to get it.
Last session, the heroes finally located the Stone and began an assault on Yellowspire Tower—a Zhentarim hideout. They quickly dispatched the low level grunts through a combination of cunning and pure luck, and now found themselves split over the three levels of the tower facing the remaining Zhents. Dugg was on the ground floor with Amrath Sercent, the current possessor of the Stone of Golorr. Alan was on the second floor alongside an unconscious newspaper reporter and an angry kung-fu master. And Arvene and Little Joe were outside the tower dealing with the ever-growing pile of dead bodies that seems to follow this group around the city. And apparently “Manshoon [was] on his way.” Although they no idea who this might be.
Smoke gets in your eye
Alan, with his underpants over his head, covering his mouth and nose to prevent the smoke getting in, edged closer to the man in the white gi. He tried to suppress a cough, but spluttered, giving himself away. The man turned and took a defensive stance, arms raised across his chest ready to strike. Alan had lost the element of surprise, but not the surprising elements. He was, after all, naked except for his impromptu face covering.
My two favorite words to begin a session. And so, without further ado, initiative was rolled and we got underway, for once they all rolled high—I was pleased as this meant they were getting their good rolls out of the way before it really mattered.
Dugg Versus Amrath
Dugg went first and entered into a fraught melee with Amrath Sercent, where they both missed their attacks more often than not. Amrath was a tall, slender, green-haired elf priestess of Bane and her first move was to cast Divine Eminence on her mace, causing it to glow purple. It would also deal additional radiant damage if it ever hit Dugg.
Dugg was attacking her with his silver hammer. Or trying to, at least. Thanks to his 5th level extra attack ability and his two-weapon fighting, he has the potential to hit three times per round. On the first two rounds versus Amrath he missed all three attacks. She didn’t roll any better, so by the third round, something had to give.
Round three saw Dugg hit with all three attempts and he did a substantial amount of damage. She also managed to hit him with the additional radiant damage from Divine Eminence.
Dugg called out, “Give us the Stone and we will let you live.”
Amrath responded, “Take the Stone of Golorr and you will surely die.”
Alan Versus Ryu
Meanwhile, in the upper area of the tower, Alan fought the Zhentarim martial arts adept, Ryu. At first, Alan was keen not to affect the unconscious body on the floor, but after a round of trading blows with Ryu, he soon abandoned the pretense of caring.
By the third round, the room was almost entirely full of smoke, meaning they were effectively blinded. Alan was relying on his wererat keen senses, and Ryu had closed his eyes and was using his ki energy to guide his attacks. In an attempt to confuse his attacker, Alan lay down on the floor next to the unconscious reporter. His ruse worked and Ryu punched down into the chest of Sally Mantlepiece, unfortunately killing her in a single blow—there goes any chance of her revealing any of the intricate plot twists I had in store!
Alan, sensing he had the upper hand against Ryu managed to get in a couple more good hits, just as Little Joe bounded up the stairs coughing and spluttering from the smoke.
Joe Helps Alan (ish)
Little Joe cast a level 3 Burning Hands spell at Ryu, incinerating him. This was after a discussion regarding a Drow’s innate darkvision ability and whether or not smoke and fog counted as low light or if it was something else. I unanimously decided that darkvision would not help little Joe see through a smog cloud—much to his chargrin—but he still made his attacks, even with disadvantage, so I don’t think he’ll hold it against me.
With Ryu defeated, Alan and Little Joe searched the bodies. They found very little on Ryu, but Sally Mantlepiece had a small notebook, a pen, and a lanyard with a caricature of herself drawn onto it, which identified her as working for the Waterdeep Gazeteer, a vehemently anti-Zhentarim broadsheet, that the Zhents may or may not have been attempting to influence.
Arvene Helps Dugg (Ish)
As Little Joe ran up the stairs to help out Alan, Arvene dashed to the ground floor of the tower to Dugg’s aid. Like Little Joe, she managed to strike the killing blow against her party member’s assailant, and as Arvene’s Sacred Flame spell ended all that was left of their elf foe was a pile of shouldering ash and a smooth, green pebble, the size of Arvene’s palm. The Stone of Golorr. Amrath’s final words as she melted into the night were, “You fools, Manshoon knows. He’s on his way.”
Arvene Won’t Be Lonesome Tonight
As Arvene picked up the Stone of Golorr, it automatically attuned to her (I sped this up, as I thought it was more fun than waiting for a long rest). Three dimples along one side of the stone opened up revealing three golden eyes that stared into Arvene’s soul.
Stone of Golorr
A voice accompanied the eyes’ stare. It resonated in her mind, in an increasingly ostentatious Elvis impersonation. “Well, hello, Baby. I thought it was about time you’d get to the Heartbreak Hotel. Tell me what you want and I’ll make it yours. You and me, we’re going to go far. Let’s just forget these suspicious minds.”
However, before Arvene could really begin to understand what the Stone of Golorr was trying to say—or even that it was saying anything at all—a popping sound came from the basement downstairs, which Little Joe recognized as a teleportation spell, so they all gathered at the entrance of the tower and decided to run away. They wouldn’t get far.
They tried to run, but were immediately faced by a six-foot-tall wall of arcane fire. Turning, they saw the fire’s source: a human man, in sleeveless white robes, arms covered in snake tattoos, and fury in his eyes.
“Give me the Stone,” he called out, “and your suffering will be reduced somewhat.”
Dugg was not impressed. “Reduced somewhat?” he mimicked. “How about we don’t give it to you, and instead we run away?”
Manshoon was not messing about. “Be quiet, you sniveling Toad.” He reached out his hand and arcane energy flowed out towards Dugg. Followed by a popping sound and the smell of swamp water. Alan, Joe, and Arvene all gasped as Dugg was turned into a toad. “Oh, sh..”
The battle with Manshoon was fast and fierce. In order to keep his concentration on the Polymorph spell, and Dugg being a toad, Manshoon could only cast spells that were cantrips (weak offensive spells) or did not require concentration. But he was still a powerful wizard, so he wasn’t limited too much. To make matters worse for Alan and Co., Arvene was being more and more influenced by the Stone’s psychic mutterings. “Let’s you and me amscray outta here, Baby.”
Dugg remained an ineffectual toad for the entire fight, as Arvene, Alan, and Little Joe each scored good hits and took down his health. He was looking worse for wear when Alan picked up the toad, latched it onto the shaft of his arrow and fired it at Manshoon. The arrow hit and Toad-Dugg ended up tangles in the Wizard’s decorative robes.
Manshoon was livid. These paltry investigators should have been dealt with by now. Casting Misty Step, he teleported 30 feet away, to a position where he could catch the three of them (Alan, Arvene, and Joe) with a single Lightning Bolt. The electricity bounded from the end of his staff and struck Alan and Little Joe squarely. Arvene somehow managed to escape, as Little Joe and Alan both lay unconscious on the floor. Now only Arvene stood to face Manshoon. She left out a prayer and a divine bolt from the sky struck the bloodied mage. He yelled as his eyes bulged and melted in their sockets, dripping down his cheeks. The rest of his body followed suit, turning from flesh into snow, leaving a mushy pile on the ground. For a second, the toad looked surprised, sitting as it was on a melting heap of snow. Then, “pop!” Dugg reappeared where the toad once was. “That was odd.” END
Wow, what a fun session! My players really got into roleplaying and at the end, as we finished, they all said how excited they were for the next session and to see where they go from here. I have been suffering a little from D&D burnout; I’m currently playing three times a week. But a session like last night’s really helps the motivation to keep going.
I also surprised myself a little last night. Right up until the last second, I had no idea the Stone of Golorr was going to sound. I had researched how others had done this online, and the consensus was to make the Stone a dark, brooding, scary character. Of course, in a moment of insanity I decided to play him as Elvis. In Waterdeep, Elvis lives, albeit it as a disembodied Aboleth with knowledge of a secret vault full of money. Just like the real Elvis.
What did we learn?
DM Tip: Sometimes lots of combat is a good thing. Dragon Heist is a primarily roleplay-focused campaign, and like it or not, there’s not a whole lot of opportunities for players to let loose with all their heroic might. So, when they do get a chance, even if they really enjoy the roleplay aspects of the rest of the game, they’ll likely make the most of it. This session was made up almost purely of two successive, but quite different fights. The first was a relatively easy affair with low level bad guys and some interesting combat conditions (smoke, multiple levels, Stone of Golorr, etc.). This let them get used to combat mechanics and remember their interesting abilities. The second fight was a straight-up boss fight: a wizard, way more powerful than the individual party members, with a grudge. This then forced them to think about working together, as it quite quickly became a life or death scenario.
Next week the fallout from the battle will begin. They have the Stone of Golorr. They’ve spent all this time searching for it. So now what do they do?
WE ARE AMAZON ASSOCIATES