dragon heist

‘D&D Waterdeep Dragon Heist’ Session 55

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Dragon Heist session 55: Nar’l Xibrindas

Arvene politely explained to Ahmeargo that they were looking for a drow named Nar’l Xibrindas. The dour dwarf, clearly upset at being bested, but desperate for his failure to remain a secret from the Guild agreed to take them to Nar’l’s quarters. They arrived in the dark, sparse room. It was empty besides from a bed and locked chest. As they waited for Nar’l to return, Little Joe turned to Alan, still hand-cuffed to Ahmeargo, “So, now we’re where we want to be, do we just kill this dwarf?”

Last night was the 55th session in our online D&D Dragon Heist campaign and the level six heroes have kidnapped the Xanathar Guild’s second in command and are waiting in ambush for a turncoat drow.

The setup

We started playing Dragon Heist nearly two years ago and for the last six months have been on the cusp of its conclusion. We play online using Roll20’s digital tabletop platform, and use Trello and D&D Beyond to keep track of campaign information. We also stream all our sessions live on Twitch. To date our record number of simultaneous viewers is ten, although we have no way of knowing if any of those were deliberately watching our channel or if the accidentally stumbled upon our game while searching for videos of funny cats.

drahon heist

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
Dung Work
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

This session in particular made use of Heisting Xanathar’s Lair a supplement that helps develop and keep track of the latter chapters in the campaign.

Our Dragon Heist party:

dragon heist

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/Warlock – 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 have been 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, now in possession of the Elvis-impersonating Stone, the heroes headed to the Xanathar lair to complete a mission for Bregan D’Earth and perhaps find a key to unlock the Vault of Dragons. They were joined by four drow mercenaries, Aramis, Athos, Porthos, and D’Artagnon.

Now, let’s not be too hasty

Ahmeargo did not like the sound of Little Joe’s plan. It seemed a bit “final.” But he couldn’t afford to risk raising the alarm either. Xanathar would surely destroy anyone who managed to get captured in their own base, and the dwarf hardman would lose all authority over the Guild if word got out. He had to somehow get these idiot adventurers out of the sewers without anyone else noticing, it wasn’t going to be easy.

The session began with a quick summary of the elements in play:

  1. The adventurers had infiltrated the Xanathar Guild hoping to assassinate Nar’l Xibrindas.
  2. A group of four drow from Bregan D’Earth had met them at the entrance offering assistance.
  3. They had managed to capture Ahmeargo, Xanathar’s majordomo.
  4. They had seen Nar’l in the auditorium and witnessed the Xanathar (a beholder) giving a rousing speech to the guild members.
  5. They had become separated from the four drow.
  6. Ahmeargo had bargained with them to show them Nar’l’s lodgings in exchange for his survival.

The four party members, plus an angry Ahmeargo, were all in Nar’l’s room waiting for the drow to return. Alan handcuffed Ahmeargo to Nar’l’s bed as the others investigated to room, looking for proof that this was in fact Nar’l’s quarters. Little Joe, in his usual callous and unapologetic way, stripped Ahmeargo of his armor, searching for hidden keys or weapons. Meanwhile Arvene and Dugg assaulted a desk.

Revenge of the Desk

In a previous episode, Arvene was killed by a falling desk, so the sight of a large mahogany writing table there in the room, combined with the maddening whisperings of the Stone, sent her a little crazy. She was convinced that the desk must hold hidden secrets so began kicking and punching it, before unleashing her mace.

This emotional breakdown was made all the more incongruous for everyone present as her punches and kicks seemed to do nothing at all. She rolled very low on her strength checks and the desk hardly budged.

Then Dugg came along and tapped it gently on the side and it collapsed into a heap with a bang. This revealed a secret hidden compartment which they greedily rooted through, finding Nar’l’s leather bound spell book and a magical bag of holding that contained three large oak barrels. The barrel labels read “CAUTION. Smoke Powder.”

Ahmeargo was furious. This clearly showed that Nar’l had been smuggling the Xanthar Guild explosives out of the lair, and so Ahmeargo was now chomping at the bit to kill Nar’l himself. He refused to give the reason for the Xanathar stock-piling gunpowder.

Nar’l Arrives

As Alan taunted the restrained Ahmeargo, Little Joe was waiting by the door. He heard footsteps approaching, just in time to hide. No one else hid. The door swung open. Nar’l, a tall, skinny, grey-skinned elf with a poncho and leather trousers, stepped in. He was shocked to see so many people in his room. Especially the naked Ahmeargo handcuffed to his bed. Little Joe jumped out from his hiding place, but Nar’l was already too stunned for this to have any effect.

He dropped to his knees and began begging for his life. He knew the jig was up. He just didn’t know how or why. Or which jig.

This was one of those social encounters where everyone wanted to do something at the same time, so to make matters easier I had everyone roll initiative.

ROLL INITATIVE!

“Are you…?” Narl’l began. “Did he? Look, hear me out,” he pleaded. “Don’t kill me. I can tell you… stuff.”

A couple of rounds of increasingly obscure torture techniques later and the poor drow was lying on the floor with his shoes tied together, clutching a soft toy beholder, babbling all of the secrets of Bregan D’Earth. Little Joe would have been furious at the Nar’l’s disloyalty if he hadn’t volunteered to keep watch outside the room.

At first Alan and Co. weren’t interested. They just wanted to do their job and get out. However, he soon started talking about Jarlaxle—a name they had only heard in whispers previously—and his lust for power, gold, and the Stone of Golorr. It turns out that Jarlaxle is the hidden leader of Bregan D’Earth and also the secret lord of Luskan, and he is trying to steal the treasure in the Vault of dragons to buy his way into the Lord’s Alliance, a confederation of cities and towns that band together against common threats. This information intrigued the party and they heard out the scared drow, much to Ahmeargo’s annoyance. He had just got come around to the idea of someone killing him.

Drow Assault

From the other side of the door Little Joe couldn’t hear what was going on inside. He did, however, hear four footsteps approaching from down the corridor. It was Aramis and the other three drow from earlier on. Joe acknowledged them and stood aside to let them into Nar’l’s room, closing the door behind them as he remained outside.

As soon as they saw Nar’l on his knees, the drow all lifted their firearms and shot the captive. Four loud cacophonous gun shots filled the hallway outside; Little Joe smiled. This was what they were here to do after all. Arvene screamed and dashed to administer aid to Nar’l, but he was already dead.

Now, inside the room, there was something of a Mexican stand-off. Aramis and co. turned their weapons on Arvene and demanded the Stone of Golorr be handed over. She refused and Alan and Dugg stood in their way, weapons drawn, furious that they had been duped by the four drow.

Another fight quickly followed in which any stray bullet might hit one of the many barrels of smoke powder Nar’l had managed to stash behind the bookcase in his room. To add to the chaos Alan cast Fog Cloud filling the room with smoke and giving everyone disadvantage on their attack rolls.

Fireball!… AGAIN

It took three rounds for the untrustworthy drow to be defeated; Alan, Dugg, Little Joe, and Arvene showed no mercy in finishing them off. This was in no small part aided by the Stone of Golorr’s constant badgering of Arvene to bring him “blood and sacrifice,” which she did in dramatic fashion by smashing a bead of her Necklace of Fireballs against Aramis head, causing the whole room to be engulfed in a blazing inferno. Somehow this didn’t set off the barrels of smoke powder—I was a little disappointed to be honest. I rolled as many dice as I could think of excuses for, but not a single 6.

The fireball did kill the four drow attackers, and almost took out the heroes too. Both Alan and Little Joe experienced the full brunt of the explosion, both taking a massive 31 points of damage.

The Dust Settles

Ahmeargo couldn’t believe his luck. The fog cloud offered the perfect cover for him to sneak out of the room. So, clutching a furry soft beholder plush close to his naked body, he swiftly made his way down the corridor and back to his rooms. As he crossed the threshold a booming blast echoed mightily around the halls. He smiled. Soon the whole force of the Xanathar Lair would be upon those idiot adventurers and no one would have to know they got the better of him. END

Afterthoughts

A really great session with some truly tense moments of roleplay and battle. Every time a gun shot went off in the confined quarters I rolled d6. On a 6 the bullet would hit one of the barrels of smoke powder and there would be an explosion. I laid this out to my players and rolled the die using Roll20’s die rolling function so they could see the rolls happen. Somehow, even after 8 rolls, there was no 6, so no big explosions. Apart from the ones caused by Arvene that is…

Also, I enjoyed some of the trinkets found in Nar’l’s quarters, especially the soft beholder plush teddy. Alan gave this to Ahmeargo to hide his modesty and so now, the once powerful dwarf is sneaking around his own evil lair with nothing but a soft teddy to hide his modesty.

What did we learn?

DM Tip: Don’t be afraid to change your plans on the fly. Prior to the session I had no intention of the four drow revealing Jarlaxle’s betrayal to the players. I was saving this until a later in the campaign, perhaps even the finale. However, thanks to a flippant exchange between Little Joe and Arvene, the four drow got angry and showed their true colors. My players really responded well to the big reveal—the first of many to come—and I was pleased this is how it turned out. It just felt like the right moment for this to happen and added an additional element of controlled-chaos to the already fraught encounter.

Next week they have to try and escape from the hideout. Will they get out before Ahmeargo raises the alarm? Or will he aid their escape to hide his own failings. Or will they stumble upon Xanathar alone in his lair, contemplating the futility of existence and fall foul of his disintegration rays? Anything’s possible, right?

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