Dragon Heist – Session 1 – Welcome to Waterdeep

You can find a complete list of all Dragon Heist recaps here.

After a reading the Intro to Waterdeep to the players, we began.

Our party arrived together to the Yawning Portal; they had all been invited there to meet with a mutual acquaintance, Meloon Wardragon. Meloon knew each of them, although some only in passing. They made their way across the bar to his booth and sat, but only a few minutes later a brawl erupted between a half-orc patron, Yagra Stonefist, and a group of toughs.

From their great working knowledge of Waterdeep’s criminal elements, Rilderin knew that Yagra worked for the Zhentarim and that she was a decent sort. She also knew that the pack of thugs worked for the Xanathar Guild and their leader, Krentz, was an awful excuse for a human.

The party was torn on whether or not to get involved. They first looked to Durnan to see his reaction to the brawl; but beside his paying close attention to what was going on, the barkeep didn’t look like he had a stake in the fight. Zherxus asked Meloon his opinion, and Meloon noted Krentz was trash and that Yagra was ok – he’d rather not see her get pasted by a bunch of goons. That was good enough for the party – they made their way over to intercept the rest of the pack before they decided to intervene.

Moving fast from across the inn – and with a few of the them hitting with well-cast spells – the party managed to spook Krentz’s back-up goons. Babe made a point to spin out a mocking little ditty on his banjo, along with an very unflattering song. Yagra, who at this point had a stunned Krentz in a head-lock and was joyously punching him in the face, was well on her way to winning her fight. After the goons broke and ran for the door, Yagra hauled her unconscious opponent over to the door and threw him out.

“Let me buy you a drink,” proposed Rilderin.

“Yah!” yelled Yagra, “And then I’ll buy one for the rest of your crew!”

The pack all settled in at the bar and Durnan, still completely unperturbed, poured them all drinks. Zherxus’ eyes got wide as he realized he was going to be served with a tankard the size of his head, and he began to wonder if he could instead parlay his free beer into free food instead.

The party chatted with Yagra over beers and she talked up her family, the Zhentarim. At about that point, they realized they were hearing a chant pick up from among the customers: “Dip! Dip! Dip!”

A young man approached the bar, slapped down a gold piece, and started stripping to his underwear. Durnan handed him a silver bell and a wooden goblet full of beer. The man then went over to the pit and climbed up onto a seat at the end of a winch. With a couple of his friends beginning to lower him down, he quaffed his beer, threw his cup down into the well, and waved to the crowd. The crowd began placing bets at a furious rate – would he come up in three minutes? Would he have the cup? Would he never return?

After about a minute of lowering, the rope went slack on the winch – the man had made it to the bottom. Slowly the patrons returned to their conversations. Talking further with Yagra, the party learned more about the Yawning Portal and its history. Zherxus ended up wandering back over to Meloon and they also chatted about the inn. In the middle of this, from deep in the pit, they began to hear the tinkling sound of a bell. With a groan from the patrons that had lost bets, the man’s two friends began to haul him back up.

As the man crested the lip of the pit, he triumphantly held up the wooden cup. More groans and cheers erupted from bettors. The man, after making it over the lip of the pit, began to saunter back to the bar.

It was then that the troll hauled itself up over the pit after him.

The troll’s ropy mass was covered in stirges, most of which flew up in a cloud as it reached the light of the inn. It let out a roar as it got its feet under it to launch into the room.

“TROLL!” yelled Durnan. “Anyone that helps gets a free beer!”

The party scrambled towards the fight while most of the patrons did their best to move away. Zherxus, from his seat with Meloon cast Sleep – causing every single flying stirge to plummet straight back down into Undermountain.

Durnan, on his part, grabbed his sword Grimvault and lept effortlessly over the bar. He then ran into melee with the troll and cut it up quite badly.

“Good job on the stirges,” he yelled. “Get lamp oil!” Ermie then launched a firebolt at the troll which hit.

“That’ll do!” yelled Durnan.

Although the troll did not seem to expect such resistance from what it thought would be an easy meal, it did its best to fight Durnan. It landed a couple solid hits on the barkeeper, but nothing that would slow him down.

Clinks then, apparently stumbling aimlessly from the bar, wandered over into the fight and planted an arm into the troll’s midsection. This hit knocked the troll out, and it then fell backwards into the pit and was gone from sight.

As Durnan served the party their free beers (and Zherxus pondered how he could possibly drink a second whole beer), Meloon made his way over to the bar. After complimenting them on how well they handled both the brawl and the troll (“I knew you’d be good together!”), he tells them that he’d asked them all here to introduce them to a friend that has an urgent task they can perhaps help him with.

That friend turns out to be Volothamp Geddarm, the (in)famous chronicler and explorer. He explains to the players that his good friend and drinking buddy, Floon Blagmaar, went missing after they were out last night. He had last seen Floon at the Skewered Dragon, a dive bar in the Dock Ward. In return for their help, he will pay them ten gold each up front and one hundred more when they return with him alive.

Zherxus’ eyes went wide as he realized that he would, at the end of this, have thirty gold – more wealth than he’d ever possessed in his life. Then he realized that the second payoff was one hundred gold each, and his eyes got wider.

The party quickly agreed to find Floon on Volo’s behalf, and headed out into the night towards the Skewered Dragon. While making their way down into the Dock Quarter, they came across a bloody scene – a number of bodies on the ground, some bloodied men tied up, and City Watch all around. They were waved on and told there was nothing to see here. The party did notice, however, that at least one of them had the symbol of a flying snake tattooed into their neck – the same symbol that was on Yagra’s pendant.

They arrived at the Skewered Dragon and paused to come up with a plan. Mostly, Rilderin and Babe discussed how they wanted to try getting information out of what were likely to be unfriendly-to-hostile regulars.

In the end, Rilderin plied the bartender and one of the patrons with silver, and they told the party that after Volo had left, Floon stayed and drank with Renaer Neverember, the son of the prior and deposed Open Lord of Waterdeep. For another silver, the bartender mentioned that they’d been followed by some Zhentarim thugs when they left… but that they didn’t hear it from her. The patron added, for a silver of his own, that he’d seen them head east when they left.

Searching as they went, the party then left and headed east on Fillet Lane. Outside an odd storefront called the Old Xoblob Shop, they found a gaudy bas-relief necklace on the ground – the same one described to them by Volo as an easy way to identify his friend. A bit more searching turned up a trail of beads that led northwards on Zastrow street, then down a couple side streets and to an Zhentarim Hideout.

The party approached the warehouse at its lower level – which had a large, padlocked cargo gate and then a large closed door past that. The bead trail stopped there.

Thinking things over, the party retreated up to the main road and went around the perimeter of the building – and found some doors up there that led into office spaces. After working their way through the locked door, they found their way into the warehouse proper – and immediately saw the five kenku waiting in ambush on the floor level.

Zherxus then successfully snuck a ways south along the eastern wall and cast Thaumaturgy to create sounds that appeared to be people planning and fiddling with the main door to the first floor of the warehouse.

The kenku snapped into alertness and found hiding spots. Sadly, these spots were meant to shield them from people coming in from the outside… not the people behind them on the second floor

And that was where we wrapped up the night! We will start the next session with what looks to be a very bad time for the kenku.

GM’s Notes:

  • I was really pleased with how the game went – the start to Dragon Heist is super railroad-y, but given that we have a bunch of very disparate level 1 characters, that’s fine. That railroad will stop real soon.
  • The hook for them all knowing Meloon was really weak – we never fleshed that out appropriately before the game, and I forgot to do so until we were already playing. But the players just went with it, which I much appreciated.
  • The troll had been reduced to zero hit points, but could still regenerate – it had taken its turn after the firebolt, so was due to regenerate next round. After smashing into the first floor of Undermountain, hundreds of feet down, it then decided that discretion was the better part of valor.
  • We’re using LegendKeeper for our map of the city and for wiki-style articles for people, places, groups, etc. It’s been fantastic so far – it handles the giant high-res map of Waterdeep we’re using, and I have preloaded it with a ton of locations in the city that I can then toggle to be visible when they come into play.

One thought on “Dragon Heist – Session 1 – Welcome to Waterdeep

  1. Great stuff! It reminds me of my first few sessions of Waterdeep Dragon Heist. It went well up until they encountered the crime scene, and they furiously tried to talk to the Zhents that were tied up. Then, when they went to the Skewered Dragon, they were more interested in stealing the bartender’s cash register than in investigating Floon.
    Dragon Heist is probably not the best module to run at a high school Dungeons and Dragons Club.

    Like

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