‘D&D Waterdeep Dragon Heist’ Session 57

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Dragon Heist Session 57: Captain Staget, Nice to Meet You

Breathing heavily and badly hurt, Arvene and Alan dashed into the large room, just as ten scared bandits ran out. Two thugs were brawling in the center of the room, seemingly unaware of the environmental challenges, when suddenly another explosion rocked the lair and a large chandelier fell from above, pinning them to the ground. Dugg and Little Joe joined Arvene and Alan, just as the floor below began to shake as the sound of intense drilling rose upward.

Last night was the 57th session in our online Dragon Heist campaign and the level six heroes needed to make a quick escape.

The setup

We started playing Dragon Heist nearly two years ago and for the majority of that time have been on the cusp of its conclusion. We play online using Roll20’s digital tabletop platform, and use Trello and DnDBeyond to keep track of campaign information. We also stream all our sessions live on Twitch. To date our record number of simultaneous viewers to the nearest ten is ten. Although we have no way of knowing if any of those were deliberately watching our channel, or if they accidentally stumbled upon our game while searching for videos of pensioners wrestling their pets. It could happen.

dragon 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. Blue.

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, the Xanathar Guild, Bregan D’Earth, and the Cassalanters are all desperate for the stone too, and willing to do whatever it takes to get it. Throughout their exploits, the heroes have also had many dealing with Captain Staget, the moody, cigar-chomping leader of the City Watch; he’s a man who is often both friendly and angry at the same time.

Last session, now in possession of the Elvis-impersonating Stone, the heroes came face-to-face with Xanathar, the beholder in charge of the Xanathar Guild. They were about to be destroyed by them when Little Joe set off a series of explosions, causing the underground lair to crumble and collapse. Now, they have to decide if they should free the trapped prisoners before escaping the lair. But not before they see the beholder once more come shooting upwards through the floor.

A good deed

Dugg saw the two brawlers trapped under the chandelier and rushed to help. One of them clearly hadn’t survived the impact, but the other was grateful for Dugg’s aid. Flexing his muscles, Dugg wrenched the 100lb cast iron candle holder upwards, allowing the fighter the crawl out. He recognized the 8-foot minotaur from a fight he’d seen in the Yawning Portal and was happy to help him escape.

So the session began with Dugg doing a good deed and freeing the burly minotaur from his chandelier prison. Dugg rolled a natural 20 on his strength check to lift the chandelier. This was the first dice roll of the day and a good omen perhaps.

After trying to subsequently impress the minotaur with his shining charisma (he rolled a 3), Dugg was saddened to see him rush away, dodging falling masonry as he went. Then the sound of drilling grew louder. They realized this was the beholder rising through the floor beneath them, disintegrating the rock to make an escape tunnel.

They were keen to not be there when Xanathar erupted from the ground below.

Adrenaline Do Can Wonderful Things

Running into an adjacent room, Alan and Arvene realized they had entered the cells of the Xanathar Lair. The floor was still trembling and the sound of explosions ran through the underground complex. It was collapsing and they wanted to rescue anyone they could.

Inspired by witnessing Dugg’s feat of strength, Alan tried to imitate his friend by ripping the cell door from its hinges. He also rolled a natural 20 on his strength check. So, just as Alan pulled on the door, a tremor shot through the room causing the metal door to flex on its hinges allowing Alan to pull it free. He was just as amazed as the rest of them. Arvene was shocked into silence.

The cell had two prisoners; one was trapped under some rubble, the other dashed past Alan and Arvene for freedom. Arvene called out to Little Joe to stop him, but this sounded too much like hard work for the reluctant drow, so instead he pretended to fall over and let the prisoner escape.

The Man in the Iron Cell

Alan could see the man in the cell was badly hurt, so left the medicine-ing to Arvene while he explored the other cells. The prisoners in these cells had been less fortunate when the explosions went off and had borne the brunt of the collapsing walls. Alan feared he could do little to save them. So didn’t.

Arvene, meanwhile, was in shock once again. This time it wasn’t because of Alan’s unforeseen prowess, but the identity of the trapped prisoner. Captain Staget. A man they knew well as the head of the City Watch, someone they had many dealings with. Or so they thought.

He was badly hurt and unconscious, so before they could ask him how he came to be here, they had to get him out of the lair. Lifting people is more of a Dugg job, so Arvene let the strong man of the group fireman carry the limp captain from the cells.

Treachery!

dragon heist

Just as they began making their exit, running through the crumbling, collapsing lair, the sound of drilling stopped. It was replaced by a snarling, hideous voice.

“Treachery! Treachery!” cried Xanathar, as he sent an eye-ray towards Arvene. Miraculously, she dodged the beam and the beholder was more interested in making his own escape than continuing to harry the heroes.

I was amazed at Arvene’s ability to continually dodge the beholder’s eye beams. The death ray that she only narrowly avoided would have definitely killed her if it hit, but she rolled high and was able to escape.

Eventually, they all made their way out from the lair and onto the street outside, with Dugg still carrying the unconscious Captain. They were in Bale Street in the Castle Ward and could feel the ground beneath them trembling as the tremors and explosions of the collapsing hideout below shook the street. They decided it was time to head home before anything worse happened.

Captain Staget, Nice to Meet You

Arriving back at Trollskull Manor they had to contend with the defenses implemented by Louis and Jeffrey, Dugg’s two young apprentices. Both boys were strays who Dugg had taken under his wing, along with the 40 Luskan refugees they’d somehow managed to house within their mansion. Louis and Jeffrey had taken Dugg’s instructions to fortify their home very seriously, so that now there were paint tins ready to fly from the ceiling, toys cars and ball bearings on every step, and a flamethrower rigged up to the back door. Dugg was very impressed. Added to this, the 40 refugees had set up patrols and were armed with make shift crossbows and halberds ready for the inevitable attack from one of the many factions who wanted the Stone of Golorr.

But before they could do anything about the two obvious Zhentarim agents that the Luskan’s had seen patrolling the manor, Alan’s Bureau of Investigators needed to speak with Staget. The only problem was that he had no idea who they were.

First Arvene cast her restorative magic on him, and then Little Joe and Dugg both tried to persuade Captain Staget that he knew them and they had history. But Captain Staget revealed to them that this couldn’t be the case. He’d been a prisoner of the Xanathar Guild for over six months. Well before he was supposed to have first met the party.

This certainly caused a few sharp intakes of breath. How could this be the case? They’d met Captain Staget many times, had completed missions for him, even going undercover in the precincts to root out corrupt watchmen on his behalf. Someone had been paying them for fools.

Staget couldn’t give them any more information. He was tired and hurt and needed rest. So three of the Luskans—Schemee, Slolita, and Sofia-Margarita—all attended the poorly captain, taking him to Arvene’s room to rest.

Resting seemed like a good idea, so the party took the opportunity to take a long rest and recover themselves before anything else bad could happen.

Under Siege!

As the heroes gathered for breakfast, Jeffrey and Louis updated them on the night’s events. The Luskan patrols had spotted the same half-orc and gnome circling the manor throughout the night and they were sure they were Zhentarim operatives. Dugg praised Louis for his initiative in setting up the defenses. He really was a good apprentice. Then, there came a knock at the door. Louis looked to Dugg for approval to slide the shutter open to see who it was. Dugg nodded. Louis motioned to slide the shutter across, but was stopped in his tracks as the pointed end of a spear was thrust through the opening skewering the apprentice through the heart. Louis slumped to the ground. “Give us the Stone!” a voice bellowed from outside. “Manshoon demands his vengeance.” END

Afterthoughts

I feel bad about the Zhentarim murdering Louis like that. On reflection, it seems like quite a cheap shot, but it did get the reaction from Dugg I was looking for. The party needed a bit of a push in the right direction, another reason to hate the Zhentarim, and that seems to have worked.

Also, the reveal of Captain Staget not being who they thought he was throughout the whole campaign has them double-guessing everyone they’ve met so far. I think I’m going to enjoy the mistrust this creates and they’ve already come up with a terrible plan to discover the real person who’s been pretending to be Staget that involves a lot of make-up and a fake murder trial. I can’t wait. 

What did we learn?

DM Tip: Be really careful whom you kill. And only do it when absolutely necessary. (That’s a good general life tip too.) You never know how your players will react to the death of a beloved NPC, especially one which they have taken under their wing. And although they may well have killed, tortured, and defenestrated many innocent characters over the course of a campaign, when the shoe is on the other foot they may not take it very well. And anything that adds an additional layer of unpredictability to an already chaotic group of people is one more headache for an already tired and weary dungeon master.

Next week the players will have to defend their home from assault, all while coping with the death of a much loved character and the revelation that Captain Staget is not who they thought he was. Surely nothing else bad can happen. Right?

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