Dragon Heist session 59: 40 Luskan Refugees
It took Arvene a moment to realize who she was talking to. Golorr really was a monster. But they clearly had the power to help. She asked about the keys to the Vault of Dragons and realized that they may already be in her possession. Then, as quickly as she arrived in the Water Plane she was gone, returned to the Material and looking upon a skewered Skeemo Weirdbottle, the once Master of Magic for the Zhentarim, now a halfling shish kebab. The taproom of Trollskull Manor was covered in blood. Again. This was going to take some clearing up.
Last night was the 59th session in our online Dragon Heist campaign and having successfully defended Trollskull Manor from the Doom Raiders, our level six heroes are on the cusp of the adventure’s finale.
We started playing Dragon Heist nearly two years ago and for the majority of that time have been on the verge 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 is the same as if we were an unprofessional group of RPG fanatics who had never streamed before and had put no effort into marketing or advertising our game. Nine.
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:
Little Joe, Drow Sorcerer – scourge of the fenêtreman’s guild, member of Bregan D’Earth. Blue.
Alan Crabpopper, Human Ranger – a Harper and private investigator. A wererat in denial.
Arvene Galanodel, Half-Elf Cleric/Warlock – priestess of Tymora, bound to Golorr the aboleth.
Dugg, Earth Genasi Fighter – freelance dungsweeper and estranged son from House Roznar.
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 and engaged to a Zhentarim banker. 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 (500,000 gold pieces!), 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.
Last session, now in possession of the Elvis impersonating Stone, they had to defend their home from the Doom Raiders, an elite task force of Zhentarim agents sent by Manshoon to get back the Stone. Only with the help of 40 Luskan refugees and a tap dancing poltergeist were they able to hold off the assault. Now the heroes have the three keys needed to gain access to the Vault of Dragons, and a keen sense of urgency to get things done before Manshoon or anyone else sends more thugs after them.
Clearing up the Mess
There were bodies everywhere. This was going to take some serious cleaning up. Not something Little Joe was willing to partake in. So he went for a lie down while Arvene and Dugg mustered the Luskans and began taking the bodies down to the make-shift mortuary in the basement. In the tap room Alan was still in shock. Istrid had head his spinning. Could he trust her? He certainly wanted to. But she was one of the bad guys. Or at least she used to be.
The session began as the group were all getting over the morning’s assault on Trollskul Manor. They had only just eaten breakfast and were in the middle of planning their day when the Doom Raiders attacked. Those plans took a sharp left turn as they considered their options. There were eight dead bodies from the battle, as well as lots of potential witnesses. They were now also in possession of all three keys needed to enter the Vault of Dragons, they just had to find out where it was.
I had planned this to be a quick session. The idea was to set up the next chapter of the campaign—the Vault of Dragons. I had envisioned four conversations with NPCs—one for each player—and the intention was that these conversations would then pave the way for the finale. While that is kind of what happened, naturally there were other complications which I hadn’t planned.
The first conversation was between Arvene and the Stone of Golorr. Arvene was talking with Alan and Dugg about what to do with the bodies when the stone started whispering to her. “You and me baby, we’re on a roll, and now you’ve got all the keys to the Vault. Listen Baby, once I’ve got you this gold, you gotta do me a solid. Get me out of this stone Arvene and we can do wonders together. You and me gal. Now you got your keys, I can take you to the Vault, it’s in the Brandath mausoleum in the City of the Dead. Do it tonight, but I’ll go quiet once you’re inside. I can’t get involved with Aurinax, that’s your bag not mine baby. Speaking of bags—any thoughts on how you’re getting the treasure outta there? 500,000 dragons is a lot to shift.”
This conversation pretty much went as planned, and what followed was ten minutes of my players discussing what to do with the information. They decided to go to the Vault before any more of their friends died. They were going to take some of the Luskans with them to help carry the gold. We worked out that 500,000 gp would weigh 10,000 lbs, so they would need everyone they could get to carry it out of there.
Meanwhile, Dugg sent two of the remaining 40 Luskan refugees that lived with them after Tashlyn, the one Doom Raider who managed to escape, with orders to report back on where she went and whether there were more Zhentarim coming. This was a good move, and a sign of things to come.
The second conversation was between Alan and Istrid. The Zhentarim banker came clean about her history with the Manshoon and her role in the Doom Raiders’ assault. She had been compelled magically to take part in the attack, but didn’t know what the spell was. In fact it was a Geas spell. A particularly nasty form of compulsion that forces you to act in a certain way or take a lot of psychic damage.
Istrid was able to tell Alan that, “Manshoon will stop at nothing to get the Stone. If he comes in person we’re all doomed.” Istrid explained that this version of Manshoon was a clone of the famous wizard from centuries earlier. One of the founders of the Zhentarim, Clone Manshoon is hiding in Waterdeep with plans to rule the city using the cache of dragons to bribe the Masked Lords. Clone Manshoon lurks in Kolat Towers in the Trades Ward. But, as she described all of this to Alan, blood began pouring from her ears, eyes, and nose, and she fell unconscious.
Alan panicked and tied her to the chair and asked another of the Luskans to watch over her as he went for help. Neither Arvene nor Little Joe were able to magically divine the source of Istrid’s malady, so they decided to let her rest where she was—tied to Alan’s bedroom chair—until they could work out how to help her. Alan really does have a way with the ladies.
The third conversation was between Zardoz Zord and Little Joe. Zardoz—the clandestine leader of Bregan D’Earth and Joe’s recruiter/handler—followed Little Joe as he went to a local temple to be healed. Little Joe noticed he had an unwanted shadow, just in time to turn around and come face-to-face with the red-leather-Speedo-wearing, ponytailed, bandoleer-sporting maniac. “To be truthful, Little Joe, I’m impressed. There’s not many men who can take on the Xanathar Guild, but you brought them to their knees—it’ll take months for them to recoup their lost ground and by then they’ll be too far out of the game. It’s a shame about my musketeers though, but collateral damage is necessary in war. Tell me, did the Xanathar survive? I assume it was he who took down my men?”
Joe stood in dumb silence as Zardoz excitedly spat his speech at the blue drow. He was in awe of Zardoz, and even though enigmatic leader was blackmailing him, he couldn’t help but do as he said.
“I have just one question for you Joe, I’ll ask once: Do you have the Stone of Golorr? And what do you plan to do with it? You know what lies in that vault? 500,000 dragons. Do you know what our organization could do what that kind of leverage?”
Joe nodded in silence.
“Hmm. I think it’s time you and your little cohort joined me for dinner. It’s time to put our cards on the table, so to speak. Come to the Eyecatcher tonight.”
Little Joe tried to tell Zardoz that he had other plans and that tonight was not such a good night for dinner, but Zardoz was already heading back into the shadows, his ponytail rocking side to side as he strutted away.
Little Joe went back to the manor and confessed everything to his friends. He came clean about how he was being blackmailed for killing innocent Advertence at the beginning of the campaign and that Zardoz was a very bad man and they should probably not go to his boat for dinner. They agreed.
The final conversation was designed to really twist the dagger in Dugg’s wounded heart.
Jeffrey, the second of Dugg’s apprentices, sad about his friend Louis, asked, “Mr. Dugg, do you think we can bring him back like Miss Arvene? If I find a diamond, Mr. Dugg, will you help me? Please? Mister Dugg, they say you’ve joined Bregan D’Earth? The Luskans don’t like it, Mr. Dugg. Scabbsy told me it’s them who made them leave Luskan. They had to exile because a man named Jarlaxle was turning it into some kind of Drow paradise, and slaving or hurting all the locals. Don’t join him, Mr. Dugg. Please.
Dugg promised to help Jeffrey and not to join the bad guys. They then all got together and finalized their plan for the night. It was going to involve everyone they knew in Waterdeep.
“So that’s the plan then,” said Alan. “We send four disguised Luskans to Zardoz as a distraction while we head for the Vault. Meanwhile, we get a message to Xoblob for Xanathar that Zardoz has his eyestalks. That will enrage the beholder and send him straight into Zardoz’s path. And when he gets there the four Luskans—Squirt, Shadow, Sunsa, and Schemee—all set off the barrels of black powder that we stole. That should keep everyone out of the way while we take the remaining 15 Luskans to the City of the Dead and take the 500,000 gp straight to the bank. Any questions? END
Right. So, it’s going to take me a while to process exactly what they are planning for the next session. I think it’s fair to assume that no one else’s Dragon Heist campaigns have ended up with the heroes being in charge of a small army of refugees, while Captain Staget and Istrid Horne, two entirely opposed characters, rest and recover in Trollskull Manor, overlooked by a 14-year-old ex-glazier’s apprentice.
What did we learn?
DM Tip: Be careful what you wish for. I always wanted to run a D&D game where the players really invested in their characters’ motivations, cared about the NPCs they met, tried to make a difference in the world, and were always aware of the consequences of their actions. I didn’t realize it would get this complicated.
I think next time we’ll just go for a straight forward dungeon crawl where there’s loads of zombies and they just have to kill everything that moves and not have to remember the name of 40 Luskan refugees that all have to have individual personalities.
Next week something happens. I have no idea what though…
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