Table of Contents - A handy way to check out my articles by topic
Follow me on Twitter
Check out the Power Score RPG Youtube Channel here.
You can reach me at
: powerscorerpg@gmail.com

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Secrets of Castle Greyhawk 15 - The Mirror Realm


A few years ago, I wrote a few articles about the original Castle Greyhawk. That's one of the first D&D dungeons, the place where Gary Gygax playtested the D&D rules. It is in the dungeons underneath Castle Greyhawk that heroes like Tenser, Otiluke, and Robilar ran around and became legends.

I'd wanted to run a Castle Greyhawk campaign for many years, loosely basing it on Gary's dungeon.

Recently, I was able to get this campaign going on the greyhawk channel. We play every Thursday at 1 PM EST.

The heroes
  • (Doug) Gusamon - a fungus-obsessed dwarf.
  • (Kikka) Lytria - A wood elf ranger who is trying to find her real parents.
  • (Dylan) Gundar - An evil dwarf covered in tattoos.
  • (Chloe) Aurora - A paladin with an angelic lineage.
Together, they've been making their way through the dungeons. There are 13 levels in all. I based the first three very loosely on the real ones. I really don't have a lot of time to prepare, so I've been relying on published products.

Level 4 is the undead level, using material from the Barrowmaze, a fantastic undead-themed dungeon made by Greg Gillespie. The dungeon has this pit in it that is spewing forth undead. The heroes need to bring a magic orb called the Fount of Law and toss it into the pit to destroy it.

The Mirror: Looking at what was left, I thought we might get to the final area of the Barrowmaze today. We didn't, primarily because of the mirror.

The room goes like this. If you look in this magic mirror, you are teleported to a quasi-realm where you have to fight an undead version of yourself. If you destroy it, you return to the dungeon.

The group were cautious and ultimately decided to all look at the mirror at the same time. It was literally explained to me that they wanted to "engage with the dungeon", which amused me greatly.

So, all 4 heroes appeared in the quasi-realm and had to fight their undead counterparts. Aurora turned two, using her gauntlet of palantis (a very cool item she'd found in the previous session). Gusamon got hit a few times, but the heroes weren't having too much trouble with the remaining zombies.

The group has a bunch of hirelings and sidekicks. Most of the names of the hirelings have names that are anagrams derived from the names of my players from years past:
  • Tumtut Brazen - A tall, athletic woman.
  • Ratty Lens - A pretty resourceful dude with a hunchback.
  • Jackie Moonshoe - A glamorous dame who lost her nerve a few rooms into the dungeon, and now spends her time shivering and smoking.
  • A dwarf the group rescued from a pit.
  • 3 mummy cats - new monsters from the adventure, called Nebanekhets.
Some of the hirelings looked into the mirror and were sucked into this quasi-realm as well. The dwarf was killed by his double, and the mummy cat did battle with a regular cat.

The heroes survived and returned to the room whence they came. Then, they did what heroes do. They tried to take the mirror and bring it with them.

That was another split-second decision for me. I knew that it would "ruin" some encounters, and my best bet is to say yes, but then spend a week thinking through the limitations so that they could get good use out of it without flattening the adventure completely.

They were excited about it and I figured, "ah, what the heck" and went along for the ride.

They soon came to an area where there were 8 cockatrices nearby (chickens that can turn you to stone). The heroes used their bat familiars to get the cockatrices to turn the corner and run right toward the mirror.

Poof. The cockatrices went into the mirror realm. I quickly made some rolls to see how many cockatrices defeated their undead selves. A round or two later, 4 emerged victorious. The group took down the rest.

So now I have a week to mull this over. What can I do with this thing?
  1. I could have it break. I don't want to go out of my way to break it. If it happens, it happens.
  2. There could be some kind of overlord int he realm who doesn't like all of the activity.
  3. Maybe entities on the other side start popping out at an inopportune time.
  4. If the group traps some undead in here, maybe their living selves can be reborn?
Not sure yet, but there are a lot of fun possibilities.

One thing that I am wary of is that the final room is teeming with monsters - skeletons, zombies, etc. I don't want the mirror to nullify it. I'll need to figure out a way for the mirror to add to it rather than detract from it in a way that is satisfactory for everyone involved.

Magic Items: This dungeon is old school, and part of old school means tons of magic items. I embraced it to a degree, and the players seem to enjoy getting all these cool, weird items.

Aurora, the paladin, has a 20 AC. I don't see many campaigns where magic armor comes into play. Imagine a paladin with +3 plate and a +2 shield? That's a 25 AC! That seems like it might cause problems.

So we got to a point where the heroes found the remains of a paladin, and there's a helm +1. It's got wings on it. I had to make a split-second decision. Do I want the paladin to have a 21 AC? Am I giving out helms that boost armor class?

I decided to go with it, mostly because a winged helmet is very old school and fun. I am worried about her AC, but there are other ways to affect a hero - saving throws, spells, status effects, etc.

You can check this episode out right here:


Watch Secrets of Castle Greyhawk Ep. 15 - The Mirror Realm from thegreyhawkchannel on www.twitch.tv

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Mordenkainen's Path of the Planes 23 - Allies or Enemies

A fairly long-running show at this point, Mordenkainen's Path of the Planes is a higher-level D&D campaign that I've been playing in on the greyhawk channel. The first section of the campaign placed us in Hell, and now we're in Barovia.

(Kelli) Bruilinde - A sassy bard who has a thing for Strahd. In real life, Kelli is an opera singer, so she actually sings her bardic powers on the stream!

(Elly) Lux - An intense, brooding rogue once linked to the evil Scarlet Brotherhood.

(Zippy) Shallot - A gnome wizard who is obsessed with defeating a planar threat named Morandagana. Shallot is a bit of a wild card.

(Me) Odos - A githzerai monk. Basically, this character was an excuse for me to use all the cool lore from my guide to the githzerai. Odos walks the planes and tries to understand the teachings of Zerthimon.

My D&D Character's Girlfriend: For me, the biggest thing on this show is the relationship between my character and Lux. We started off the campaign absolutely hating each other, but things changed when we kept trying to one-up each other in mid-combat.

I'm not sure if I've ever done a romance in a D&D campaign as lengthy as this one. It is a lot of fun, though I never quite know where the line is and I get worried about handling it properly.

There were two incidents in particular that signaled turning points in the relationship.
  • The Flower: I had found this frozen flower in a castle. Every time we rested in Hell, I'd check it to see if it had melted. It never did. When we got out of hell, I gave Lux a little speech about how the flower endured, just like my feelings for her.
  • The Camp: We actually camped right outside that wall in Barovia that I wrote about quite a bit in my review of Curse of Strahd. It was very cold, and so Lux and Odos were bundled up. She took me completely by surprise with an "I love you", which left me pretty much speechless.
At this point, our characters are very in synch and we have plans to move to an island together.

Battle Flirting: So far, it has been a lot of fun and added quite a bit. In combat, we've begun fighting in tandem. Between my stunning strike and her sneak attack damage, single foes don't last long against us. We continue to do acrobatic moves in battle, mostly just to impress one another.

Where does the whole thing go? Who knows? I've cooked up some backstory complications that may or may not come into play, but for the most part we just play it by ear.

In this session, we were in the Amber Temple, looking for a magic dagger. Barovia has been invaded by Vecna, and apparently this dagger is something both of them want.

First, we fought a demon and rolled a ridiculous series of critical hits. We kept hitting this fiend in the groin and frankly I felt sorry for it.

The Magic Dagger: Once the dagger was in our possession, we had to figure out what to do with it. I realize now that we didn't even study it to see what it could do! Shallot, being a difficult little guy, wanted to have it, but we've been burned by this dude before.

I personally want Strahd to have it, mostly because Bruilinde has a thing for Strahd and I get a kick out of seeing them interact.

Giving it to Vecna might mean the end of Barovia altogether, which would be odd.

I, Strahd: Then something weird happened. Shane, the DM, switched scenes. I was suddenly playing Strahd. Kelli was Madame Eva, Zippy was Kas the Betrayer, and Elly was a minion of Vecna's.

I got to moan about Tatiana for a few minutes and then made an alliance with Kas. Apparently we're going to go try to kill Vecna!

Crazy stuff! It's a fun show. You can check it out right here:

Watch Mordenkainen's Path of the Planes - Ep 23: Allies or enemies from thegreyhawkchannel on www.twitch.tv

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Orchard Episode 10: Erelhei-Cinlu

I've been playing in a game on the Greyhawk Channel called Orchard. It is run by Prorestarter.

I've written before about how I hate being a player, but lately I've felt that it is important for me to play as I tend to lose perspective as a DM and come off as too harsh or callous.

Here's the group:
  • (Tommy) Ciaran: He's a barbarian, a pretty dark character. So far in the campaign, he turned into a wendigo and lost an eye.
  • (Bree) Caeli: A rogue who is linked to the Suel empire. She grew up as a slave and is also a pretty dark character.
  • (Heavenleigh) Seraphina: A cleric who is sort of the "mom" of the group.
We are all members of a mercenary company called the Gilded Glaive. Each member gets a special fanny pack to hold our stuff. You have to earn these fanny packs!

My character is Neil Zarkanen, a friendly paladin of Boccob (god of magic). Right after he was born, his mom left him in a garbage pile outside the city of greyhawk when he was a baby. Clerics of Boccob took him in and raised him.

Playing a Good Guy: My character is a nice guy. I like playing nice guys or good guys. He tries to keep the group together and gets bothered when the heroes do something evil.

Both Ciaran and Caeli thought that Bael, one of the roaming dukes of hell, was cool. Bael traveled with us for a short time. Bael is not cool - he's raw evil. He's scum.

We have this weird sort of tension where my dorky-but-kind character tries to keep the heroes on the path toward goodness. It is an avenue ripe with dad joke possibilities.

DM Style: I really enjoy the way that the DM runs the game. Usually, due to my abominable attention span, I get bored pretty quick. Usually in D&D, there's a lot of sitting and waiting your turn in D&D. I get lost in my own brain and lose track of where we are and what we're doing.

The DM is able to keep everything moving really well, to the point that the time flies by more often than not. I think part of it is his use of background music. There's something about it that really helps a lot.

He also does something that fascinates me. He legit runs it like a TV show, even describing a camera panning over a scene. He's locked in to that take - we're in a movie or a TV show. He even one time described a scene where time slowed down and reversed, detailing arrows stopping in mid-flight.

What's the downside to that? None, as far as I can see. It doesn't hurt at all. It's weird that more DMs don't do it, now that I think about it.


Erelhei-Cinlu: In this session, we arrived in the drow city of Erelhei-Cinlu. This was very cool for me, as I ran a few sessions in this city with my Planescape group. I did a ridiculous amount of preparation for that game. Basically, I made a guide with a pencil and paper. I wrote about pifwafwis, crawl chariots, you name it.

We're dealing with a few issues:
  1. The Feywild is being corrupted by twisted evil.
  2. We need to destroy a number of temples to Tharizdun.
We needed to meet a women in a brothel. I got quite amused at the idea of my character in a brothel.

The other heroes kept the employees of the brothel from sinking their hooks into me, while Ciaran started drinking heavily. The rest of us hit the town and picked up some potions and gear.

This was essentially a "shopping" episode, which is something I used to hate. In this campaign, it was good because the entire group is good. I think we could do just about anything and it would be fun.

I bought some noble clothes and lolth-themed pajamas.

Slaves: Guess what came up again? Slaves!! Jessie used to have a thing for buying slaves in D&D, and here we are once again in a city full of them.

I thought that my character should try to buy as many slaves as he could and free them. Wandering around with a horde of 5 hit point slaves is obviously a recipe for disaster, but hey, I have to try, right?

Interestingly, Seraphina, the other good character in the party, was against it. She said we should try to foment revolution.

Here?? Now? How? As far as I could tell, we were just making a pit stop. How the heck are we going to create a successful slave revolt down in this thoroughly evil realm?

the goal was noble, but I just didn't see how it was possible.

The group further pointed out to me that these slaves likely were all messed up psychologically, and that they might not be able to survive on their own.

Ultimately I thought the best solution was to buy one "test" slave. At the very least, I can save one person, right? I'll have to keep them safe until we get somewhere that they can build a new life. That will be very tricky, but a fun challenge, in my opinion.

Mom: We ended with Ciaran rolling over in bed to see that the lady in bed with him suddenly looked like his mother. His screams echoed throughout the building.

You can watch this episode here:

.
Watch Orchard episode 11 Erelhei-Cinlu from thegreyhawkchannel on www.twitch.tv

Monday, December 3, 2018

PAX Unplugged 2018


PAX Unplugged is a large convention that took place in Philadelphia just a few days ago. These are the shows that the big Acquisitions, Inc. events are held.

This year's PAX was a bit special, as Chris Perkins has stepped down from the role of DM for Acq Inc. and Jeremy Crawford, the man in charge of D&D rules, took over.

Worth It?

I don't go out much and I like it that way. A lot of people I've met online were going, though, and something told me that I needed to go to PAX Unplugged, even if it made me uncomfortable.

I went, and I'm glad I did! It was exhausting for sure, but worthwhile. For me, the key to enjoying the con was to not sign up for anything. D&D games at a con with people you don't know are hit and miss. One annoying person will ruin a 4 hour session for me.

Fellow Traveler: I had to take two trains to get from New York to Philly. While waiting at Penn Station, some guy started telling me about how he was going to meet a woman who had just gotten divorced. Is it a date? No, he said. Just a friendly visit.

I tried to peel back the layers some more, but my train arrived and there was a mad dash to get in line.

It Begins

I got to Philly and met the first of many people: Garrett (he runs the Rappan Athuk campaign that I play in), met me at the Marriot that directly connects to the convention center where PAX was held.

We were staying in a large suite with a pair of huge beds, a massive TV, and plenty of furniture. It was so weird to meet him in person, in a "is this real?" kind of way.

Meeting the Waffle Crew

He told me he'd met the waffle crew, the heroes of Dice, Camera, Action, and he urged me to go and say hello. I was already feeling like I was in an out of body experience. Once I saw them, I felt like a ghost or something.

The entire group was right there at their table. I'd caught them right as they were wrapping up their merch table stuff, so there was no line at all. There was only one other person there. Know who it was? Kikka! She plays in my Secrets of Castle Greyhawk campaign.

The whole thing was so surreal that I felt like I was running on auto-pilot. I talked briefly with each member of the waffle crew. I made sure to tell Nate that him counterspelling Manshoon's power word: kill was epic and I talked with Jared about how the group seemed to be able to fill a 2 hour session even if Chris said nothing. Jared told me, "That's what we're going to try to do tonight."

Then I turned to Kikka and whispered these immortal words: "Sword of the Magus". Her character, Lytria, wields the mighty Sword of the Magus in Secrets of Castle Greyhawk. It's an item from the choose your own adventure book that got me into D&D in the first place - Mountain of Mirrors by Rose Estes.

As I walked away, I told Garrett that the con was already worth it. The crew was so nice to me. Anna told me that they had gone over my blog many times in the early days of DCA. I also got to thank Holly and Anna for appearing on Waffle Talk, my show that discusses Dice, Camera, Action.

Meeting Friends

So then, we're walking around, and we peer in a large room with tables. Who's in there playing a game? Grant Ellis, Kelli Butler, and WebDM Pruitt! I said hello to each. Grant gave me a firm handshake, Kelli (we both play in Mordenkainen's Path of the Planes) and I shared an E.T. finger touch, and Pruitt gave me a mighty hug.

We leave that room and I'm sort of reeling from the whole thing. I was in a place full of people who were happy to see me. It was far beyond what I expected. This was nothing like the cons I went to years ago, which were hot, sweaty, intense affairs full of dudes arguing about rules. Cons have completely changed, apparently.

Then I ran into Travis Boles, who is sort of like the man behind the curtain for WebDM. He gave me the most powerful hug I'd ever received in my life.

Character-Making Panel

We decided to go to a panel. People had warned me that PAX was all about waiting in lines. I was sort of dreading that aspect of it. There was a line, but it was well-managed and there was plenty of seating when we got in.

This particular panel was run by Ruty Rutenberg and Satine Phoenix. It was mostly about making interesting characters. I was most struck by how nice everyone was. From the crowd to the panelists, there was nothing but positivity in this hall.

The Legend of Ed

After that, we decided to go to 13, which is the Marriot restaurant. This was a pretty swanky little place.

Our waiter was a man named Ed. Ed is one of the greatest people in the multiverse. Why, you ask?
  • He delivered our appetizers in about 90 seconds.
  • He made sure people checked on us every two seconds.
  • He told us about places near the hotel that have good food.
  • He told us when they were open.
  • He WROTE US A LIST of those places and what to get from them!
  • He handed me the best burger I had in all of 2018.
This guy was amazing. I quietly swore that I would return to this restaurant on the following day. How could I not? We even discussed buying Ed his favorite food - it was pumpkin cheesecake with cream on it or something. Little did I know that 13 had dark secrets...

Brownest of the Brown Liquors: I don't drink, but it's a special night, so I decided that I'd have one if Garrett had one. And so, he ordered bourbon.

I'm just not an alcohol guy. It was painful beyond belief. Worse, this one little cup cost $18! Why?

Dice, Camera, Action Live

After that was the big event for me at PAX - the Dice, Camera, Action live show. Chris Perkins wasn't at this con. Satine Phoenix stepped in to sort of fill his role.

I met up with another online friend: Andy Hatton, from the Laughing Dragon Inn. Andy is like... your best friend. Everyone's best friend. He's just a great dude and a very good DM!

This show was pure roleplaying. All four characters revealed some secrets and we learned some backstory. There were quite a few funny moments.

Meeting More Friends: After it ended, I was approached by a few people who had recognized me from Waffle Talk and Dungeon Academy! I was a bit bowled over. There was one guy that I wish I could have talked to more, but there was a lot going on and he disappeared before I could continue to pick his brain.

At the same time, I met two of my Dungeon Academy players in real life. Dungeon Academy is full of players who more or less learned D&D through Dice, Camera, Action, so this was a very fitting venue to meet in real life.

It amuses me endlessly to pretend that I am the teacher and they are the students, and that this is some kind of field trip. They were great, of course, and it was very surreal. In retrospect, I think we really should have gamed together at some point during the convention.

Slumber Party: After that we headed back to the suite and met with our other roomies, Lindy and her husband! We chatted into the wee hours of the morning. I hadn't slept in a very long time and I passed out somewhere in there.

Bacon Questions: The next morning, we ordered some room service, which was phenomenal. I eventually realized that Garrett only ate half of each slice of bacon. There were four slices, and he left four halves. Why wouldn't he just eat two full slices?

I started to suspect that he was harboring some sort of inner demon. I looked at him in a new light.

Sweet, Sweet Silence: Being an extreme introvert, I stayed in the hotel for a few hours while he ventured forth into PAX. I love hotel rooms and I love the QUIET. I gleefully had both to myself for a few hours.

Then I got word that Garrett had found Lysa Chen! Lysa has written some great Adventurers League scenarios and she is one of the authors of Dungeons of the Mad Mage! She'd also played in a few of my online games.

At the same time, Shauna arrived at the hotel. We headed over to an RPG free play room and boom, I got to play live D&D with Lysa, Garrett, and Shauna.

Beyond the Wall

We played a game called Beyond the Wall, which has this whole shared creation element to it. There are a lot of die rolls involved on random charts (I love random charts). Lysa and I kept rolling the same numbers, so we decided that our characters were identical twins.

The story we ended up with is that we were skunk people living in a village named Stinkton that had been attacked by badgers. Both Lysa and I were secretly and separately carrying on an affair with a badger named Dug Diggity.

Lysa had cards from her upcoming show on the D&D channel called Tales From the Mists. I got one and it is in my wallet right now.

Dice, Camera, Action Q & A


Then came the Dice, Camera, Action Q & A. In the crowd, I could see another of my Dungeon Academy players in costume. It was Aya, dressed as Lilia (she's wearing the red hat)!

The Q&A was fun. I don't remember too much from it, other than the fact that there were a lot of questions about "what if you all die". Both Scotty and Brianne asked questions, which was pretty great.

After that, I met Scotty and Dylan from my Dragon Heist game, and Aya from Dungeon Academy, along with two of Aya's friends.

The Betrayal

Here is where I made my mistake. We all went out to eat. Where? 13.

Was Ed at 13? Yes. Was he our waiter? No!

Our waiter was rude and stand-offish. I didn't like the way he talked to us at all. It wasn't until after we left that I learned that HE BAD-MOUTHED ED.

Apparently it went like this. Garrett said, "Ed says that the philly cheese steak here is the best in the city."

Waiter: "Ed only works, goes home, and comes back to work. Do you really believe what Ed has to say?"

Why on Earth would you ever do that? I worked in retail/customer service for a long time, and I am BAFFLED. Bash your co-worker in front of a customer?

Shiftspice


There's been this running gag in my games about Shiftspice. Shiftspice is a magic item from the Planescape: Torment computer game. I was excited to put it in my game, and was dismayed when the group thought it came in little packets, like ketchup at McDonald's.

So at this convention, Scotty actually made and gave out shiftspice packets! And he gave me shiftspice in a corked bottle, as it was meant to be presented. It was amazing.

Transgender Representation in RPGs Panel 

Then we hit up another panel about Trans representation in games. Shauna and Kikka were on this panel. Grant Ellis was running it.

From what I understand, some of the panelists weren't expecting too many people to show up. The room was pretty packed. There were tons of people in attendance.

I wanted to go to this panel for a few reasons, one of which being that I don't know how to handle trans topics in my games. I'm always afraid I might accidentally do something offensive.

One thing that got mentioned a lot is the helpfulness of this document: The Trans Language Primer.

Esper Genesis


After that, fate stepped in. Somehow I got invited to play in a special game of Esper Genesis, a sci-fi D&D game. Who ran it? DMs Guild Adept Rich Lescouflair, who created the game! The players:
  • Lysa Chen
  • Nerdarchy Dave
  • WebDM Jim
  • Shauna
  • Garrett
  • Me
I think Lysa is the one who put this all together. I have been on Nerdarchy a few times and I was so pleased to get to sit next to him and roll some dice together in real life. WebDM Jim is just a great dude.

We had a bit of time to look at our pregens and check out the Esper Genesis hardcover. What I really like about Esper Genesis is that it is similar enough to 5e that it's very easy to learn. Many of the powers are just re-skinned spells.

Also, the art that I saw was really good. My character was a "dendus". Check it out:


Our Mission: In the game, we were mercenaries. We were hired to deliver some encrypted data to a woman in a night club. We were at a space port where a new, huge ship had arrived.

We took one look at the ship and wanted to steal it, but we stuck to our assigned mission. I was an engineer and Lysa was "A captain, not THE captain". She was a cat-person. I suggested that she was really a "Cat-pin", and the groans at the table were mighty indeed.

The Cat-pin and I did not get along. Our rivalry culminated in a dance-off at the night club. We both rolled really bad, so the real losers of the dance-off were everyone who had to witness it.

It turns out that we'd been tricked. The device holding the data did something else entirely. We ended up in a shoot-out with a gang of villains.

We chased them on hoverbikes. Dave sped up to the last bad guy and suplexed him off the bike. Dave rolled a natural 20!

There was more content to play through, but it was late, so we stopped there. It was a lot of fun!

Back in the suite, I told Shauna and Garrett about how I'd watched every Phantasm movie over the last week and how weird/good/bad they were. I passed out somewhere in there.

Going Home

The third day for me was all about getting home. I said farewell to my new friends and carefully made my way to the train station. The trip went fine until the final leg.

As we approached my stop, the conductor told me that only the last few car doors would open. I'd need to make my way through most of the train to exit.

I dutifully got my stuff together and awaited my announcement. It came. I got up. An elderly couple in front of me also got up. They blocked my path. They got their luggage off of the overhead rack. They slowly made their way to the back of the first of many cars. The door was closed. The lady didn't know how to slide it open. She had a lengthy discussion with a passenger about it.

We weren't even close to the back of the train. We missed our stop. I couldn't believe it. I was flabbergasted.

We got off at the next stop and were given a voucher. We had to take another train BACK to get home. We had to wait an hour.

So we sat there in this train station, me and the old couple. I told them about PAX. The guy told me he went to "trapper conventions". I didn't ask about different types of bear traps, but I wanted to.

We got on our train and, this time, we didn't miss our stop.

I got home!

Final Thoughts

I'm so glad I got to go to PAX. Next time, I think I'll try to plan some more games with friends, although I did really enjoy being free to do whatever I wanted (or nothing at all).

Not a Lot of Free Stuff: I expected to get more free stuff than I did. I got almost nothing and I bought almost nothing. A lot of the dealer's room was full of board and card games, which I really have no interest in.

Cost: It actually wasn't that expensive at all. A 3-day pass cost $60. The trains cost a bit more. The hotel would have been expensive if not for sharing a room with Garrett. Once you're in the Con, there's not much to pay for. You just play games!

If there's a PAX near you, you definitely might want to consider going. It was a lot of fun.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Guide to Waterdeep: Dragon Heist

Welcome! This will hopefully be a guide that will help you, the DM, prepare to run Waterdeep: Dragon Heist.

I'll be working on this over the course of a week or two, and I'll be adding to this post every day.

You can order the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist Dice right here.

Links

Durnan's Guide to Tavernkeeping
Blue Alley - A low level adventure that you could fit into chapter 2.
Unseen Waterdeep - A new villain you could use.
Waterdeep: City Encounters - This has a ton of mini-adventures set in Waterdeep.
Rats of Waterdeep - A low level adventure that would fit in Chapter 2.


Levels: This adventure is for characters who are levels 1-5. Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage is a "companion" adventure, and it will bring these characters all the way to level 20. Mad Mage comes out in November 2018.

Syrinscape: Just so you are aware, Syrinscape has sound sets for this entire adventure. That includes NPC dialogue! You just push a button and the group hears an actor deliver the boxed text. It's very handy, and you might want to check it out.

Short Version: 500,000 gold coins are hidden somewhere in Waterdeep. The Xanathar (a beholder crime lord) and the Zhentarim (a criminal syndicate) are at odds.

Synopsis: The synopsis in the book is great. Here it is in bullet point form:
  • Lord Neverember embezzled money while he was ruling Waterdeep, but he wasn't able to extract the money before he was ousted.
  • The location of the hoard is known only to the Stone of Golorr, an item that can alter memories.
  • The vault containing the treasure is guarded by a dragon.
  • The Xanathar had the stone, but it was stolen. Xanathar thinks that the Zhentarim stole it, but it was actually stolen by a rock gnome. 
Involving the Heroes:
  • Volo, author of Volo's Guide to Monsters, asks the group to find Floon Blagmaar, a friend who disappeared.
  • Once the group investigates, they find out that he was kidnapped. The Zhentarim took him, thinking he was Neverember's son.
  • Volo rewards the group with a deed to a building! 
  • Once the group settles in to their new home, a fireball goes off nearby. Investigating reveals that Neverember's spy is now dead and someone has the Stone of Golorr in their possession!
Pick a Villain: You, the DM, need to pick a villain. Each is linked to a season.
  • Spring: The Xanathar (beholder). 
  • Summer: The Cassalanters (devil-worshiping nobles).
  • Autumn: Jarlaxle (drow swashbuckler).
  • Winter: Manshoon (founder of the Zhentarim).
Backgrounds:

Noble: If you're a noble, you might be associated with one of these:
  • House Amcathra: horse-breeders/wine-makers. Motto: "We trample our troubles."
  • House Margaster: Shippers, bulk traders. Motto: "Nothing is beyond our grasp."
  • House Phylund: Capture and sell monsters. Motto: "What you fear, we master."
  • House Rosznar: Shady smugglers trying to rebuild their reputation. Motto: "We fly high and stoop swift."
Factions

I'm going to incorporate all of the information on pages 34-40 so that it is all in one place.

You can be part of a faction, either one of the usual ones (Emerald Enclave, Harpers, Lords' Alliance, Order of the Gauntlet, Zhentarim) or one of these:
  • Bregan D'aerthe: Must be a drow. Mercenaries who work for the swashbuckling drow, Jarlaxle.
  • Force Grey: You must swear an oath to defend Waterdeep.
Recruiting and Missions (page 34): Once the heroes hit level 2, factions might try to recruit heroes and give them tasks. Here's how that goes down.


Working the Missions In: I've been running Dragon Heist, and I am having a hard time fitting all of these little missions in. Each party member is part of a different faction, so that's a lot of stuff to work in to each chapter. In chapter 2, it's pretty easy, but frankly I'm not entirely sure how to fit it into chapter 4. Wait until after the chase is completed?

Another issue is that, for me, the mini-missions don't have enough detail. One of literally involves bringing an item to someone. It is almost entirely up to you to turn that into something.

Just be aware of this and plan ahead!!


Bregan Daerthe: 3 drow gunslingers (page 201) follow the group and leave them a black eye patch. The next day, good ol' J.B. Nevercott pays them a visit.

Missions:
Level 2: Steal a handkerchief from a noble.
Level 3: Tip off a gossip rag about devil..uh.. orgies.
Level 4: Guard a captive for three nights. Tons of stats for this one.
  • Ott Steeltoes (page 214, cultist stats MM pg 345)
  • Iron bands of bilarro (DMG pg 177)
  • 6 bugbears (MM pg 33)
  • 4 commoners (MM pg 345), 4 intellect devourers (MM pg 191)
  • Beholder zombie (MM pg 316)
Level 5: Go to the Xanathar's lair (page 100) and kill Nar'l Xibrindas (page 211, drow mage MM pg 129). Nar'l is in room X18, page 107.

Emerald Enclave: A white cat approaches potential recruits and invites them to meet with Melannor Fellbranch (druid, MM pg 346) at Phaulkonmere. There, Jeryth will grant members a charm of restoration (DMG pg 228).

Missions:

Level 2: Deal with 3 scarecrows (MM pg 268) terrorizing a farm.
Level 3: Patrol a graveyard and deal with 6 skeletons (MM pg 272).
Level 4: Root out doppelgangers (MM pg 82) at the Yawning Portal.
Level 5: Find and kill 2 grells (MM pg 172) in the city. Reward: Charm of heroism (DMG pg 228).

Force Grey (Gray Hands): The blackstaff, Vajra (pg 217) uses a sending spell to invite recruits to come to Blackstaff Tower.

Missions:

Level 2: Climb a mountain and meet with Hlam (page 204).
Level 3: Confront a young bronze dragon (page 108) that has been swimming in the harbor.
Level 4: Figure out what Meloon's problem is.
  • Meloon Wardragon (page 210)
  • Azuredge (page 189)
  • Intellect devourer (MM pg 191)
  • Wand of secrets (DMG page 211)
Level 5: Kill a mind flayer (MM pg 222) get some potions of resistance (DMG pg 188)

Harpers: Recruits get a message via paper bird (page 191). Mirt (page 211) is their main contact. 

Missions:

Level 2: Meet up with a talking horse (draft horse, MM pg 321) and root out Zhent operatives.
Level 3: There is a gazer (page 203) trapped in an old lady's (commoner, MM pg 345) shop.
Level 4: Recruit a gang of doppelgangers (MM pg 82).
Level 5: Infiltrate a fancy party hosted by Remallia Haventree (page 214) and root out Jarlaxle (page 206).

Lords' Alliance: Recruited by Jalester Silvermane (page 205).

Missions:

Level 2: Protect dungsweepers for ten days. Commoners (MM pg 345), carrion crawler (MM pg 37), guards (MM pg 347).
Level 3: An evil adventurer (bandit captain, MM pg 344) is recruiting kenku (MM pg 194) for the Xanathar Guild.
Level 4: Stop the Zhentarim (thugs MM pg 350) from recruiting a red wizard of thay (MM pg 347).
Level 5: Take out a Zhentarim assassin (Ziraj the hunter, page 201).

Order of the Gauntlet: Savra Belabranta (knight, MM pg 347) invites recruits to the Halls of Justice.

Missions:

Level 2: Break up a fight between Zhents and Xanathar agents (thugs, MM pg 350).
Level 3: Figure out the identity of the Black Viper (stats on page 196).
Level 4: Stop a gang (wererats, MM pg 209) from harassing an inn.
Level 5: Deal with 5 spined devils (MM pg 78) who were summoned by Gysheer Omfreys (cult fanatic, MM pg 345).

Zhentarim: Yagra (thug, MM pg 350) sends a flying snake (MM pg 322) with a message to potential recruits. The agents will report to Davil Starsong (page 199) and, later, Tashlyn Yafeera (page 200).

Missions:

Level 2: Save a drunk sailor (bandit, MM pg 343) from a drow gunslinger (page 201).
Level 3: Deliver some potions from Skeemo (page 200) to the Black Viper (page 196)
Level 4: Track down a missing noble. Wererats, MM page 209.
Level 5: Chase down and capture Skeemo (page 200). He might get to Kolat Towers (page 148).

Allies

Each hero can choose one of the following people as an ally/friend/associate. All of them hang out in the Yawning Portal (pictures of each of them are on page 221):
  • Durnan (pages 202-203): He runs the Yawning Portal, a tavern that contains an entrance to the mega-dungeon Undermountain in it.
  • Bonnie (doppleganger, MM pg 82): A friendly barmaid
  • Mattrim (bard, pg 195): A bard who has a thing for Bonnie.
  • Jalester Silvermane (pg 205): A fellow haunted by the recent death of his boyfriend.
  • Meloon Wardragon (pg 210): A legendary hero, member of Force Grey.
  • Obaya Uday (priest, MM pg 348): A priest from Chult, she is hoping to find magical treasures in Undermountain for the merchant prince, Wakanga O'tamu.
  • Yagra Stonefist (thug, MM pg 350): A half-orc who likes to arm wrestle. 
Getting Arrested

The one thing that immediately sticks out to me are the notes on characters getting arrested (see page 10 and page 222). This adventure takes place in a city, which has laws. Often, especially among newer players, the heroes end up breaking many laws in broad daylight.

Handling this as a DM can be very tricky. The session can come to a screeching halt and things can get a little weird. How lenient should you be? Are you ready to run a jailbreak by the seat of your pants?

I would say that you should warn your group before you start. Remind them that this is a city with laws, and explain how you'd handle them getting arrested. Will you hand wave it or play it through?

Chapter 1: A Friend in Need

The whole thing starts off with a bar fight. It's Krentz and 4 flunkies (bandits, MM pg 343) vs. Yagra (thug, MM pg 350). As written, Yagra is beating up Krentz but his four cronies are about to step in.

Remember that unarmed strikes do 1 bludgeoning damage, plus strength bonus.

Round 3: Something crawls out of the well! A troll (MM pg 291) and nine stirges (MM pg 294)! Durnan (stats on page 203) fights the troll, the group fights the stirges.

Once the Battle Ends: The group meets Volo (stats on page 218). The group is hired to find Floon, who was last seen at the Skewered Dragon.

What Happened to Floon:
  • Floon met Volo at the Skewered Dragon. Drank and gambled for a few hours.
  • Volo left, and Floon hung out with Renaer Neverember. 
  • They were walking to Floon's home, and 5 Zhentarim abducted them.
  • They were interrogated in a warehouse in the Dock Ward. 
  • Agents of the Xanathar came in and killed the Zhents. 
  • In the chaos, Renaer got free and hid. The Xanathar's people took Floon, thinking that he was Renaer.
  • Floon is being guarded by kenku agents of the Xanathar, held captive in the sewers.
Searching for Floon (page 23): The search will probably progress like this:
  1. The Docks: Poking around the Docks first reveals the cops arresting some Zhents. 12 guards (MM pg 347), 3 bandits (MM pg 343). 
  2. Xoblob's: The group will see Xoblob's shop. Inside, they can learn that Xoblob (deep gnome, MM pg 164) saw Floon get abducted. One of the bad guys had the tattoo of a winged snake, symbol of the Zhentarim.
  3. The Skewered Dragon: At the Skewered Dragon, the group can learn that the abductors have been seen in a warehouse on Candle Lane. The door has the symbol of a snake on it.
  4. Candle Lane: This is it! The Zhentarim Hideout on page 24.
The Zhentarim Hideout: Basically, the group busts in and will have to deal with some kenku agents of the Xanathar. They can find Renaer and do some looting. Then, the city watch busts in and tells the heroes to leave this stuff to the cops.

(page 24) Z1. Main Room:

Points of Entry: All of the entrances lead to the same big room. Locked. DC 12 Athletics or DC 10 Dex with thieves' tools opens it. Knocking alerts the 4 kenku (MM pg 194) in room z1.

The group will find 5 dead Zhents. These kenku are agents of the Xanathar.

Kenku Speech: Remember, kenku speak only through mimicry. On page 194 of the MM, it says: "When mimicking voices, they can only repeat words and phrases they have heard, not create new sentences."

(page 25) Z2. Storage Closet: Renaer is hiding in here (his entry is on page 215, his "swashbuckler" stat block is on page 216)

(page 26) Z3. Secret Room: I don't really understand how this room looks from the outside. Doesn't it stick out? If you're walking around the outside of the building, isn't it obvious? It probably won't come up. This room leads to the upstairs rooms.

(page 26) Z4. and Z5.: There's some stuff up here!
  • 4 paintings worth 75 gp each
  • 15 trade bars worth 50 gp each.
  • Junk: Moth-eaten bolts of cloth, spoiled olive oil, soiled sandals, etc.
  • Rats (MM pg 335)
  • A paper bird (pg 191). I get a kick out of this thing.
(page 27) The Watch Arrives: Hyustus Staget and 12 veterans (MM pg 350) show up. He doesn't give the group a hard time, especially if Renaer is with them. Hyustus gives the group a copy of the code legal (page 222).

Tracking Floon

The kenku can direct the group to a manhole cover in a back alley. You could also have citizens tip the group off, but that might be a little bothersome to some players. I mean, if the group had been asking around previously, in theory they should have found out this info and they could have skipped the warehouse entirely.

The Sewers
  1. The group can follow chalk markings, each bearing the symbol of the Xanathar.
  2. After an hour of travel, the group will have to deal with a gazer (page 203), a baseball-sized beholder.
  3. They find a ladder that leads up into The Spouting Fish, a tavern.
  4. Following the markings for another 5 minutes leads to Q1 (page 29). This is a Xanathar hideout.
(page 28) Xanathar Guild Hideout

Q2. Watch Posts: Two sleeping goblins (MM pg 166).

Q5. Sleeping Area: Zemk (duergar, MM pg 122) and, if he survived the bar fight at the Yawning Portal, Krentz (bandit, MM pg 343).They are barricading the door to area Q6 because there's a gray ooze all up in there.

Q6. Lavatory: So.. we got a gray ooze (MM pg 243) in the bathroom. All sorts of fun (?) stuff you can do with this!

Q7. Boss Fight: Apprentice wizard (page 194), mind flayer (MM pg 222), intellect devourer (MM pg 191). The mind flayer will leave. If the group tries to mess with the mind flayer, it will use dominate monster (PH pg 235) WIS save DC 15, concentration up to 1 hour.

Grum'shar AC 10 HP 9 +2 to hit, 2 (1d4) damage.
  • (cantrip) Fire Bolt (PH pg 242) rg 120, +4 to hit, 1d10 fire dmg.
Level 1 Spells (2 slots)
  • Burning Hands (PH pg 220) 15-foot cone, DEX save DC 12, 3d6 fire dmg, half on successful save.
  • (reaction) Shield (PH pg 275) +5 to AC until the start of your next turn. No dmg from magic missiles.
Once per Long Rest, when reduced to 0 hit points, he drops to 1 hit point instead.

Floon: He's got one hit point left. If the group saves Floon, he hugs them.

Treasure:
  • Spell book: Burning hands (PH pg 220), disguise self (PH pg 233), false life (PH pg 239), shield (PH pg 275), unseen servant (PH pg 284), witch bolt (PH pg 289).
  • 2 potions of healing (DMG pg 188)
  • 16 gp, 82 sp, 250 cp
Q11. Back Door (pages 29-30): If someone nabs the mind flayer's portal key and uses it, they end up in X22. (page 110) in Xanathar's lair! They'll be stuck between a bunch of kuo-toa and Ahmeargo.

Q12. Hostel Cellar: Wererat (MM pg 209) Roscoe will try to scare the group off.

Roscoe Underbough AC 12 HP 27 +4/+4 to hit, 5 (d6+2) dmg/4 (d4+2) dmg and CON sv DC 11 or be cursed with wererat lycanthropy.
  • Immune: Non-magic weapons except silver.
  • Advantage: on saves vs frightened.
  • Small: Can move through the space of a Medium or larger creature.
Rewards: Volo gives the group  the deed to a historic building. The group will have tomeet with Kylynne Silmerhelve at the courthouse. She makes it official and collects a transfer tax of 25gp, which Volo will pay if he has to.

The group hits level 2!

Chapter 2: Trollskull Alley

This chapter is very wide open. The group gets their home, and then they are recruited by factions. Each faction has some mini-adventures for the group to go on. There is also a rival who wants to put the group's business out of business.

A possible pattern would be for you to run one mini-adventure, and then one of Emmek's schemes, then another mini adventure, until you run out of stuff.

It seems like this chapter is meant to take weeks, and maybe months.

Foreshadowing: It seems like a good idea to, if possible, let the group get a look at a nimblewright (page 212) - perhaps at a temple of Gond. And maybe, maybe have Dalakhar be a customer of theirs. Dalakhar gets a look at the group and realizes that he should bring the Stone of Golorr to them.

This is potentially dangerous, because if he dies, it screws up the fireball at the start of chapter 3. Maybe it's a better idea to make up a close friend of Dalakhar's? And then that close friend also dies in the fireball in chapter 3?

Renaer and Dalakhar: On page 49, it is revealed that Dalakhar is spying on Renaer. So far, in this adventure, Renaer seems to be a good NPC to use to keep the heroes on track. He's also an opportunity to keep Dalakhar close. If Renaer is near the heroes, then Dalakhar might be, too. 

The map of their new home is on page 223.

Lif: He's a specter (MM pg 279) who, at first, won't be thrilled with the heroes. As a bartender, he can be won over.

The Neighbors:
  • T2. The Bent Nail: Tally (commoner, MM pg 345) Sells wooden weapons and shields.
  • T3. Steam and Steel: Embric (bandit captain, MM pg 344) and Avi (priest, MM pg 348). They sell metal weapons and armor (PH pages 145 and 149)
  • T4. Corellon's Crown: Fala (druid, MM pg 346). Runs a greenhouse and sells potions.
  • T5. Tiger's Eye: Vincent Trench (rakshasa, MM pg 257). Private detective! Usual fee: 50 gp.
  • T6. Book Wyrm's Treasure: Rishaal (mage, mm pg 347). Bookstore. You can copy spells from spellbooks for a fee (pg 33).
  • T7. Sewer Access: It's a manhole.
Factions: The group might be recruited by factions. I wrote about all this in the above "faction" section.

Open For Business: There's a snazzy little "tavern keeping expenses" sidebar on page 41. At the end of every tenday, roll a d100+10 and check out the chart in the DMG on page 129.

Guild Representatives: If the group opens a business, they might have to deal with some guild people:
  • Broxley Fairkettle (Innkeepers): Nice guy who just wants the group to follow regulations.
  • Hammond Kraddoc (Brewers): Tries to get the group to offer different guild-endorsed drinks each month, has a scribe sidekick, and doesn't like adventurers.
  • Justyn Rassk (Butchers): Delivers chopped meat, always demands extra money, not a nice guy.
  • Ulkoria Stonemarrow (Protectors): She can scribe glyphs of warding on the group's home for a price.
Rival: Emmek Frewn runs Frewn's Brews. Volo had outbid him on the building now owned by the heroes. Emmek wants to run them out of business.He took out a loan from Istrid Horn and he will actually pay off the wererats to ruin the group's business.

Emmek has a whole bunch of schemes outlined on page 42.

Events: There are events detailed further on in the book that look like they should be used in this chapter. Check out Trolltide Slaughter on page 100. Xanathar sends monsters loose during a celebration. 

Running Frewn: This one was also tricky to run. I felt really clumsy pulling off the Frewn stuff as written, so I switched it up. The group had their grand opening, and the wererats tried to ruin it. A battle broke out.

I had introduced an NPC Adventurer named Silver Silverton who had silver armor, weapons, eyes and hair (my campaigns are stupid). That way, the group could use his gear to harm the wererats if need be. It worked out very well.

The group hits level 3!

Chapter 3: Fireball

A fireball explodes near the group's home!

This one is a bit complicated. Here it is, step-by-step.
  1. A gnomenamed Dalakhar has decided to bring the Stone of Golorr to the adventurers.
  2. House Gralhund has teamed up with the Zhents.
  3. In exchange for a promised cut of the treasure hoard, they are giving shelter to some Zhent assassins, who are led by Urstul.
  4. The Gralhunds hired their own agent to keep an eye on the Zhents. 
  5. The Gralhund's agent is a nimblewright (page 212), a humanoid construct.
  6. The nimblewright used a necklace of fireballs to blow up Dalakhar just when he was nearing the group's home.
  7. The Zhents were also caught in the blast! Urstul survived, snatched the stone of Dolorr off of Dalakhar's corpse, and returned to the Gralhunds.
  8. Urstul is obviously furious, and he wants to talk to Manshoon before doing anything else. The Gralhunds are sensing that he is going to back out of their deal.
Clues: The crime scene has 11 dead bodies, one of which is Dalakhar. He's got sewer stuff on his boots, and a pouch with gems in it. Another corpse has a Zhent tattoo on it. Speaking with the witnesses is huge! The group can learn so much, and they can get their hands on a necklace of fireballs (DMG pg 182).

Speak With Dead: This spell gives the group tons of information, detailed on page 46.

Guards: After a few minutes, a whole bunch of cops show up. 12 guards (MM pg 347) and a griffon cavalry rider (page 197).

Officials: After 20 minutes, Saeth Cromley (pg 215, veteran MM pg 350) and Barnibus Blastwind (pg 195) arrive along with 20 veterans.

The House of Inspired Hands

After talking to Jezrynne Hornraven, the group might realize that the "puppet" she's talking about could be an invention from the church of Gond. At the church, the group quickly learns that a lonely nimblewright made another nimblewright, who took off into the city. The group is given a "nimblewright detector" to follow it.

Making the leap from puppet to Gond seems a little hard. I'd definitely trot out some clockwork Gond stuff in chapter 2 so that the players are up to speed and could theoretically connect these tings themselves.

Finding Nim's Creation: This could take days. If the group is affiliated with the Lords' Alliance, they could ride on a griffon (MM pg 174). They might end up finding the nimblewrights on Zardoz Zord's ships, but this is a false positive. Dinner with Zardoz is detailed on pages 48-49, and takes place in area J10. on page 134).

Zardoz: In case you're wondering, Zardoz the NPC is based on the character Sean Connery played in an old movie called Zardoz. He wears a very revealing outfit.

Renaer: Renaer can keep the group on track. It is revealed here on page 49 that Dalakhar has been spying on Renaer for months.

(page 50) Gralhund Villa

This is where the nimblewright is!

If the group goes in and makes noise, the neighbors alert the watch. A mage and 6 veterans show up.

The Nimblewright Detector: This will require a bit of finesse on your part. Make sure to keep the detections non-specific. The umbrella on the detector spins fastest at the villa, but it doesn't point to the exact location of the nimblewright. The nimblewright is meant to get away with the Stone of Golorr, so you might want to wait until the group gets involved in a crucial encounter. Before the encounter, the detector is spinning very fast. After, it's spinning slower. The nimblewright has left the premises.

G1. Locked Gates: Arcane lock PH pg 215.

G2. Yard: The balcony can get the group to G17. on page 55.
  • Hurv Taldred (cult fanatic, MM pg 345)
  • 2 mastiffs (MM pg 332)
  • 3 shadows (MM pg 269)
G3. Coach House:
  • 4 draft horses (MM pg 321)
  • Maladar, riding horse (MM pg 336)
  • Ike the stableboy (commoner, MM pg 345)
  • Horseshoes of speed (DMG pg 175) gives +30 feet to the horse's speed. That means that Malakar has a 90 speed!
G8. Great Hall: Two Zhents (thugs, MM pg 350) stand over dead bodies. The group can hear fighting upstairs, where three zhents are fighting four Gralhund guards in G13. (pages 53-54).

G10. Den and Trophy Room: Hawk (MM pg 330).

G12. Family Library: Opening the tome without Lady Gralhund's key summons 3 specters (MM pg 279) who vanish after 1 minute.

G13. Upstairs Foyer: 3 Zhents (thugs, MM pg 350) vs. 4 Gralhund guards (veterans, MM pg 350).

G15. Guest Suite: Urstul is trying to bash a door in to get at Lord Gralhund.
  • Urstul Floxin (page 216, assassin stats MM pg 343). Remember, he only has 50 hit points.
  • Orond Gralhund (pages 213-214, noble stats MM pg 348)
  • 3 flying snakes (MM pg 322)
G16. Master Bedroom: These two are watching the battle at G13.
  • Yalah Gralhund (page 220, noble stats MM pg 348)
  • Hrabbaz (page 205)
G19. Servants' Wing: 9 commoners (MM pg 345)

Aftermath: Istrid, one of the Doom Raiders (pages 198-201), asks the group to hide her out for a while. The cops are cracking down on the Zhentarim in the wake of the deaths at Gralhund Villa.

Running Gralhund: This place is a bit complicated! What helped me was to draw out the map and write down who was where, right there on the map. A lot of NPCs are clumped together during the chaotic brawl.

Also, the half-orc Hrabbaz is really, really tough. To somewhat circumvent this, I had him try to grab a hero and throw them off the balcony, rather than just straight attack them and do piles of damage. It worked out really great.

Chapter 4: Dragon Season

Who did the nimblewright bring the Stone of Goloor to? Depends on which bad guy you want to use!

(page 57) Caught at Last: The group can resume searching for the nimblewright (stats on page 212). It is hanging out in a pile of garbage. It has given the stone away and immediately attacks the adventurers. 6 guards show up as the battle ends (veterans, MM pg 350). The guards don't make any connections here.

Encounter Chains by Villain: This chapter is a mix of encounters for different villains. I'm going to re-organize things by villain. That should make it easier for us to run without wading through all of the other stuff.

The Xanathar (Spring)

(pg 58) The Map: The name: "Grinda Garloth". The Dock Ward neighborhood of Mistshore.

(page 60) Weather: Heavy Rain: (disadvantage on Perception checks). Thick Fog: From midnight to noon, disadvantage on perception and visibility reduced to 30 feet.

A. Encounter 2 - Mistshore (page 65): The stone is brought to Grinda Garloth, who refuses to give it to the Xanathar Guild. Members of the Xanathar try to take it by force.
  • The Kraken's Folly: A beached pirate ship that is home to 4d6 bandits (MM pg 343).
  • Grinda's Residence: She's a mage MM pg 347. In a chest with a glyph of warding (PH pg 245) is a key to the Garloth family mausoleum.
  • The Apparatus: Grinda wants the group to use her apparatus of kwalish (DMG pg 151) to scour the bottom of the harbor. A giant shark (MM pg 328) might attack.
B. Encounter 4 - Mausoleum (page 69): The group learns that Grinda's rat familiar hid the stone in the City of the Dead.  The group is followed by a gazer (page 203). Before the heroes arrive, a halfling necromancer snatches the stone. At night, there's two guards (MM pg 347) guarding the gate and inside, Sir Ambrose (knight, MM pg 347) watches over things.
  • The Key: The heroes find a key made by Elaspra Ulmarr 
  • Ambush: As the group leaves the crypt, they are ambushed by 4 duergar.
  • The Key Maker: The group will need to go to Elaspra's shop and learn who she made the key for (Volkarr Kibbens, who lives in the windmill).
C. Encounter 10 - Converted Windmill (page 86): A clue leads the group to a windmill in the Southern Ward. The grave robbers here tell the group to check out a cellar complex. In W2. there are d6+1 squatters (commoners, MM pg 345).
  • Shovel-Wielding Flunkies: Volkarr and Urlaster are in W7 (commoners, MM pg 345).
  • The Necromancer: They'll surrender quickly. They say that a necromancer named Losser has the stone. Losser lives in a cellar complex...
D. Encounter 9 - Cellar Complex (page 83): The necromancer is being attacked by agents of the Xanathar. In B2., anyone immersed in sewage for a minute must make a CON save DC 11 (DMG pg 257). It takes d4 days to kick in, and the character gains a level of exhaustion and does not regain hit points from long rests. In B9b. there is a mimic (DMG pg 220).
  • Dandymops: Under a powdered wig shop called Dandymops is the lair of Losser. 
  • Break-In: Breaking in to the shop might attract the city watch (2 veterans, MM pg 350).
  • B6. has three beds.
  • B8. A kenku (MM pg 194) and the gazer (page 203) are standing over Losser's dead apprentices.
  • B10. 12 skeletons (MM pg 272) will attack the adventurers. 
  • B11. Piles of bones yet to be animated.
  • Losser Lost: When the heroes find Losser, 3 kenku (MM pg 194) are facing off with Losser and 2 skeletons (MM pg 272). 
  • The Stone Went Thataway: It turns out that Losser has already handed the stone off to two other kenku.

E. Encounter 3 - Street Chase (page 68): The adventurers chase the bad guys to the Old Tower. The kenku (MM pg 194) starts 60 feet away. This is one of those deals where the stone HAS to get away, so you might want to make the challenge here more about just keeping the kenku in view rather than catching up with it.

F. Encounter 7 - Old Tower (page 76): The heroes might be able to force the kenku to hand over the stone. In O3. this tower has treasure!
  1. Faulty wand of magic missiles (DMG pg 211).
  2. Potion of healing (DMG pg 188) mixed with a potion of flying (DMG pg 187). Potion miscibility table DMG pg 140.
  3. Cracked driftglobe (DMG pg 166)
  4. 2 paper birds (page 191).
The kenku runs inside this tower.
  • Hello, Children: The kids Nat, Jenks, and Squiddly (page 63) are here.
  • Taken: The kenku (MM pg 194) takes Squiddly hostage.
  • Avert Your Gaze: Once the group has the stone, three gazers (page 203) show up and try to snatch the stone.
G. Encounter 1 - Alley (page 61): Either the group has the stone, or the gazers snatched it. Either way, the heroes end up in an alley where more Xanathar agents have set up a final showdown.
  • Commoner MM pg 345
  • As the group avoids bear traps in the alley, they're ambushed.
  • 8 kobolds MM pg 195
  • Morga, a bugbear MM pg 33
  • 1 intellect devourer  MM pg 191
Once this is dealt with, the group has the stone! When someone attunes to it, they can sense that the entrance to the Vault of Dragons is in a theater called the Pink Flumph. 
H. Encounter 6 - Theater (page 73):The group uses the stone and finds that the entrance to the Vault of Dragons is in a theater in the Castle Ward. Lots of commoners (MM pg 345) here.
  • Harper: One actor, Yaliek Iltizmar, is a bard (page 195) and a Harper who might notice the group snooping around.
  • Crabby Owner: The owner, Iokaste (commoner, MM pg 345), has no time for the group's shenanigans.
  • Extortion: A faerie dragon (MM pg 133) named Wishes might catch on to what the group is doing here. It will demand some of the loot.
  • The Vault: The entrance is in P8. The group will probably need a knock spell (PH pg 254).
The Cassalanters (Summer)

(pg 58) The Map: The name: "Cassalanter". The City of the Dead.

(page 60) Weather: Heat Wave: During the day, heroes with no water must make a CON save DC 10 (disadvantage if wearing medium/heavy armor). Failure means they gain a level of exhaustion (PH pg 291).

A. Encounter 4 - Mausoleum (page 69): Two cultists were betrayed by their own. These traitors headed for the windmill. At night, there's two guards (MM pg 347) guarding the gate and inside, Sir Ambrose (knight, MM pg 347) watches over things.
  • Dead Cultists: Entering the Cassalanter Mausoleum, the group sees two dead cultists and another that is unconscious.
  • Betrayal: If they revive the unconscious cultist, they lear that her name is Vaelle, and that she was betrayed by her friends.
  • To The Windmill: Vaelle will tell the heroes that the traitors, Arn and Seffia, likely took the stone to the windmill.
B. Encounter 10 - Converted Windmill (page 86): The group comes here, tracking the cultists. Two spined devils snatch the stone away. In W2. there are d6+1 squatters (commoners, MM pg 345).
  • W7. Arn and Sefia are in W7. 
  • Devil May Carry: As the group explodes in, 3 spined devils (MM pg 78) come in through the window and are given the Stone of Golorr.
C. Encounter 5 - Rooftop Chase (page 72):The heroes chase the spined devils.
  • Fly Low: The devils are 100 feet away and they fly low to avoid getting the attention of the griffon riders.
  • Alley Swoop: After a quick rooftop chase (include jumping of gaps between buildings?), the devils swoop into an alley.
D. Encounter 1 - Alley (page 61): The stone is brought to a coach.
  • Carriage: The spined devils hand the stone to a bearded devil (MM pg 70), who is in a coach pulled by draft horses.
  • Imps: There are 3 invisible imps (MM pg 76) on the roof of the carriage. 
  • Doppel: Inside is Willifort Crowelle (doppelganger, MM pg 82).
  • Driver: It is driven by Haru Hamatori (commoner, MM pg 345).
  • Chase: The carriage takes off, and the group is meant to chase it.
E. Encounter 3 - Street Chase (page 68): The group chases the coach. Street urchins snatch the stone.
  • Roll Init: The hire-coach starts at 120 feet away and rolls initiative with a +0 modifier.
  • Round 3: The crowd in the street blocks the coach, so the doppelganger takes off on foot.
  • Stolen Stone: Nat, Jenks, and Squiddly steal the stone from the doppelganger and get lost in the crowd.
  • The Grate: Looking around (judging from the next section, this search should take an hour or so), the heroes realize that the kids went through an iron grate into a cellar complex...
F. Encounter 9 - Cellar Complex (page 83): The adventurers chase the kids to their hideout and get the stone. The city watch arrests the group for crimes. In B2., anyone immersed in sewage for a minute must make a CON save DC 11 (DMG pg 257). It takes d4 days to kick in, and the character gains a level of exhaustion and does not regain hit points from long rests.
  • Sewer Smell: The stench down here causes the group to be poisoned (PH pg 291) unless they have perfumed scarves.
  • B7. The stone is in hereunder a rocking chair (mimic, MM pg 220). Nat tried to attune to it and she freaked out. The kids ran to B4.
  • B4. Nat warns the adventurers that the stone is alive.
  • Busted: As the heroes emerge from the sewers, 12 watch veterans (MM pg 350) arrest the heroes.
G. Encounter 8 - Courthouse (page 80): The person in the coach tries to steal the stone back while the heroes are in court. This place has guards (MM pg 347), veterans (MM pg 350), and at least one knight (MM pg 347).
  • Habeas Corpse Us: The group is charged with disturbing the peace. If they resist arrest, they are also charged with hampering justice. 
  • Stone Stays: When arrested, the watch does not take the stone from the heroes.
  • Jail Break: The doppelganger replaces a member of the watch and tries to free the group, hoping to follow them and snatch the stone from them.
  • Judge: If the group sees through this and sticks around, they appear before the judge in d6 hours. 
  • Attunement: Once attuned to the stone, the adventurers sense that the entrance to the Vault of Dragons is in the Sea Ward.
H. Encounter 7 - Old Tower (page 76): The stone directs the group to a tower that is being renovated. O3. This tower has treasure!
  1. Faulty wand of magic missiles (DMG pg 211).
  2. Potion of healing (DMG pg 188) mixed with a potion of flying (DMG pg 187). Potion miscibility table DMG pg 140.
  3. Cracked driftglobe (DMG pg 166)
  4. 2 paper birds (page 191).
The tower is owned by Esvele Rosznar. She will want to split the money with the group. Her stats are on page 196.
  • O1. She has 4 guards (MM pg 345) in 01. 
  • O2. She's meeting with guild members to get the building up to code.
  • O5. The vault entrance is in here.
Jarlaxle (Autumn)

(pg 58) The Map: The name: "Fenerus Stormcastle". The Trades ward. Fenerus is a well-known lamplighter.

(page 61) Weather: Autumn Wind: Disadvantage on ranged attack rolls and Perception checks that require hearing. The wind extinguishes small fires.

A. Encounter 1 - Alley (page 61): The heroes look for Fenerus, whose home has been ransacked by the Xanathar guild. Laeral Silverhand herself steers the group toward the cellar complex.
  • An apple cart crashes toward the group. This is Squiddly's fault (page 63).
  • The house of Fenerus has been trashed. 
  • Laeral Silverhand herself is here. She tells the group that agents of the Xanathar have brought the stone to a cellar complex. 
  • She says that once the group has the stone, they should meet with her again at the Seven Masks theater.
B. Encounter 9 - Cellar Complex (page 83): The group finds a fake stone. In B2., anyone immersed in sewage for a minute must make a CON save DC 11 (DMG pg 257). It takes d4 days to kick in, and the character gains a level of exhaustion and does not regain hit points from long rests.
  • B5. 2 goblins
  • B6. 1 half-ogre (MM pg 238) that is poisoned (PH pg 291), disadvantage on attack rolls and ability checks.
  • B7. 3 duergar (MM pg 122), 1 gazer (pg 203). Thorvin Twinbeard (pg 216) works on a mechanical beholder.
  • B8. Duergar (MM pg 122), 3 kobolds (MM pg 195). Korgstrod has the stone - he doesn't know it is a fake replica. 
  • B10. Troglodytes (MM pg 290).
  • B11a.  Gibbering mouther (MM pg 157), spell scroll of darkvision (PH pg 230). 
Once the stone is obtained, it is assumed that the adventurers go to the theater to meet with Laeral Silverhand.
C. Encounter 6 - Theater (page 73): Here, Laeral meets the adventurers again. She asks them to interrogate Fenerus. Lots of commoners (MM pg 345) here.
  • Shiver Me Timbers: A theater where sailors are admitted for free!
  • Fake: Rongquan speaks to the group on behalf of Laeral. He can tell the stone is a fake and will urge the group to go talk to Fenerus and find out where he stashed the real stone.
  • Trouble: If the heroes give Rongquan trouble, 4 drow gunslingers (page 201) start gunslinging and they don't stop until someone is dead.

D. Encounter 8 - Courthouse (page 80): Fenerus wants immunity for his crimes. He knows where the stone is, and this information must be extracted from him one way or another. This place has guards (MM pg 347), veterans (MM pg 350), and at least one knight (MM pg 347).

Long Story Short: All of this section comes down to a pretty simple thing - convincing Magister Barch to help. She's got a wild talent - detect thoughts. Once she uses it on Fenerus, she can tell the group where the stone is. He hid it in a tower in the Dock Ward.

E. Encounter 7 - Old Tower (page 76): Fenerus says to check out the old tower in the Dock Ward.Agents of Jarlaxle nab the stone first and make a run for it. O3. this tower has treasure!
  1. Faulty wand of magic missiles (DMG pg 211).
  2. Potion of healing (DMG pg 188) mixed with a potion of flying (DMG pg 187). Potion miscibility table DMG pg 140.
  3. Cracked driftglobe (DMG pg 166)
  4. 2 paper birds (page 191).
The tower is under some special effects:
  • Anti-Magic: The interior of the tower is under the effects of an anti-magic field (PH pg 213).
  • S-Words: There's a bunch of inanimate flying swords (MM pg 20) in here.
  • O3. The stone was in O3., but just as the group is getting there, 3 drow gunslingers (page 201) snatch it. We're gonna have us a rooftop chase. 
F. Encounter 5 - Rooftop Chase (page 72): Our heroes chase Jarlaxle's agents.They start 40 feet away and just double move their way to Mistshore.

G. Encounter 2 - Mistshore (page 65): The heroes chase the drow to the shore. Rising up out of the water comes  a clockwork dragon turtle! The drow climb on its back. The heroes need to snatch the stone away from them.
Big Belchy AC 18 HP 75
  • (One time only) Cloud of Steam: 30-foot cube, DEX save DC 14, 22 fire dmg, half on success. 
  • Immune: Poison and psychic dmg.
  • Reduce to 0: Sinks to the bottom of Deepwater Harbor.
Once a character attunes to the stone, they can learn that the vault entrance is in an old windmill.

H. Encounter 10 - Converted Windmill (page 86): The stone directs the group to the home of a famous painter. This is where the entrance to the Vault of Dragons is.
  • Khalain: This is the home of a very bitter painter named Kalain (bard, page 195). She has the power to make her paintings animate.
  • Vhaspar: This dude rents a room. He's a priest (MM pg 348).
  • Danger: Khalain thinks the group are assassins sent from Lord Neverember, and she summons a displacer beast to kill them.
  • W4A. The vault entrance is in W4A.
Manshoon (Winter)

(pg 58) The Map: The name: "Thrakkus". A butcher shop in the Field Ward.

(page 61) Weather: Blizzard: Disadvantage on Perception checks, visibility 60 feet, extinguish small fires. Snow on the ground is difficult terrain. Extreme Cold: Those exposed to the cold must make a CON save DC 10 at the end of each encounter or gain 1 level of exhaustion (PH pg 291).

A. Encounter 10: Converted Windmill (page 86): The butcher, Thrakkus, hides the stone in a meat delivery. In W2. there are d6+1 squatters (commoners, MM pg 345).
  • Butcher: The windmill is a butchery run by Thrakkus.
  • Berserker: Thrakkus is a berserker (MM pg 344).
  • The Stone is Gone: If the group questions Thrakkus, they learn that the stone was in a meat delivery sent to Cuttle's Meat Pies. Overseeing the delivery was a fellow named Justyn Rassk.
B. Encounter 1 - Alley (page 61): If they follow the delivery cart, the group witnesses a hand-off. The Zhentarim have the stone!
  • Attack: As the group follows the trail of the meat cart, they are ambushed by 5 bugbears (MM pg 33), agents of the Xanathar.
  • Zhentarim: As the attack is underway, Avareen (spy, MM pg 349) hands the stone of Golorr to Vevette (swashbuckler page 216). Inside, Zorbog (thug, MM pg 350) is watching, while Ott Steeltoes (page 214) is tied to a chair. 
  • Run: Vevette takes to the rooftops and the group gives chase.
  • Cuttle's Meat Pies: I'm not sure exactly when the heroes are supposed to talk to her, but the owner is not fond of her Zhentarim neighbors, who reside in L1.
C. Encounter 5 - Rooftop Chase (page 72): The adventurers chase the Zhentarim on icy rooftops.
  • Start: Vevette starts 60 feet away from the group. There is a blizzard in progress. 
  • She's Getting Away: She has advantage on all rolls and is meant to get to the theater...
D. Encounter 6 - Theater (page 73): The Zhent agent hands the stone to a bard who is attending a play.
  • Tickets: Vevette has a ticket.
  • Ghost Greeter: The theater has a ghost (MM pg 147) as a greeter. He's friendly.
  • Buy A Ticker: The group will be expected to buy a ticket.
  • Hand Off: Vevette takes a seat and quielty hands the stone over to Agorn (bard, page 195) and Amath (priest, MM pg 348). 
  • Harpers: Watching from the back row is the Harper, Remalia Haventree (page 214).
  • More Chase: When the heroes catch up, Vevette runs away and the group is meant to chase her.
E. Encounter 3 - Street Chase (page 68): The heroes continue to chase the stone.
  • Start: She starts 30 feet away.
  • Caught: The group can catch her now. She does not have the stone.
  • Pick up the Trail: The heroes can learn that Agorn has the stone and is likely in Mistshore from either Vevette or Remallia.
F. Encounter 2 - Mistshore (page 65): The group loses the trail, then hears that it is in Mistshore.
  • Whoa: So... Agorn has gone home to.. smother his mother to death with a pillow. The group walks right in on it.
  • Ambushery: On their way out of the building, 9 Zhentarim thugs (MM pg 350) attack. Two harper spies (MM pg 349) might jump in to help the adventurers.
  • Where is the Stone? Questioning the driver of the carriage that brought Agorn here, the group can learn that the stone is probably with Amath, who was dropped off at an old tower.
G. Encounter 7 - Old Tower (page 76): A simulacrum of Manshoon confronts the adventurers. O3. this tower has treasure!
  1. Faulty wand of magic missiles (DMG pg 211).
  2. Potion of healing (DMG pg 188) mixed with a potion of flying (DMG pg 187). Potion miscibility table DMG pg 140.
  3. Cracked driftglobe (DMG pg 166)
  4. 2 paper birds (page 191).
03. Amath (priest, MM pg 348), 4 acolytes (MM pg 342) and 3 flying serpents (MM pg 322) are in a prayer ceremony. They've formed a circle around their prisoner, Shan Chien (commoner, MM pg 345).
  • Shan: Shan writes a broadsheet called the Targe. It deals in politics. These priests of Bane want to use him to control the flow of information.
  • The Stone: Amath has the Stone of Golorr!
  • Manshoon: As the group defeats the priests, a simulacrum (PH pg 276) of Manshoon (page 209) shows up. The group should run - it is very powerful. It will continue to hunt them. 
  • Attunement: Once a character attunes to the stone, they will learn that the entrance to the vault is in the Brandath mausoleum in the city of the dead.
H. Encounter 4: Mausoleum (page 69): With the stone, the heroes discern that the entrance to the Vault of Dragons is in the City of the Dead. At night, there's two guards (MM pg 347) guarding the gate and inside, Sir Ambrose (knight, MM pg 347) watches over things.
  • Neverember: This crypt is linked to the deceased mother of Renaer Neverember. He can get the group safely past the treant.
  • Guardian: The mausoleum is guarded by a treant (MM pg 289). It will let the group go in if Renaer is with them.
  • Trap: The first step has a glyph of warding (PH pg 245) on it.  
  • Crypt: If the group disturbs Uld's crypt, 6 crawling claws (MM pg 44) attack. There's a headband of intellect (DMG pg 173) in there.
  • Vault: The vault entrance is beneath the illusion of a collapsed passage.
Vault Keys

The heroes have found the entrance to the vault! But wait, there's more. The heroes need to find three items that act as keys to open the vault. You can choose which three keys you want to use from a list on page 90.

Finding a Key: Spend 1 day, 5 gp, and make a DC 15 Investigation check. Failing one of these checks by 5 or more means that the bad guys sends flunkies out to attack the group and steal the stone of golorr.
  • Xanathar: 5 goblins (MM pg 166) and either a bugbear (MM pg 33) or 4 wererats (MM pg 209).
  • Cassalanters: 2 imps (MM pg 76), 3 cultists (MM pg 345), and either a cult fanatic (MM pg 345) or 4 spined devils (MM pg 78).
  • Jarlaxle: 2 drow gunslingers (Page 201) and 6 drow (MM pg 128).
  • Manshoon: 4 martial arts adepts (page 209) and there is a 50% chance that either Vevette (swashbuckler page 216) or Agorn (bard, page 195) is with them.
Keys: These keys are used in V1. on page 94, there's writing on the doors and everything. Here's some quick page references:
  • Bronze Dragon Scale: Young bronze dragon (MM pg 108), apparatus of kwalish (DMG pg 151).
  • Performance of "Your Beardy Face": The jar is in C3, page 120.
  • Unicorn: "T18" is a typo. The stuffed unicorn is in C18, on page 122
Vault of Dragons

V3. Stairs and Fresco: Getting enthralled by the fresco might seem like a surefire party-splitter. Just keep in mind that all the group has to do is damage it to break the effect.

V4. Hall of Moradin: Black pudding (MM pg 241)

V5. Secret Room: Ring of warmth (DMG pg 193).

V6. Hammer and Anvil: Arcane lock (PH pg 215).

V9. Main Vault: Adult gold dragon (MM pg 114), dragonstaff of Ahghairon (page 191)

The heroes are going to have to try to convince the dragon to hand over the gold. Options:

Convince the dragon that they came on Lord Neverember's behalf: Each character in the dragon's line of sight must make a Deception check vs the dragon's Insight check (the dragon has a +8 to the roll). If one character fails, the whole group fails.

Convince the dragon that this money was stolen and should be returned to the citizens of Waterdeep: Character must make a DC 18 Persuasion check.

Intimidate checks auto-fail. All checks after this have disadvantage.

The dragon can't be charmed, as it uses its Legendary Resistance to block it. After one attempt, all future Charisma checks against the dragon have disadvantage.

Leaving the Vault: on the way out.. bad guys try to jump the adventurers.
  • Xanathar: 6 bugbears (MM pg 33) and a gazer (page 203) and either Noska (page 213, thug MM pg 350) or Nar'l (pg 211, stats drow mage MM pg 129) and his grell (MM pg 172).
  • Cassalanters: 3 cult fanatics (MM pg 345), 3 cultists (MM pg 345), and a doppelganger (MM pg 82).
  • Jarlaxle: Jarlaxle (page 206) shows up along with 3 drow gunslingers (page 201).
  • Manshoon: Manshoon's simulacrum (page 209), Agorn, Vevette, and 3 thugs (MM pg 350).
Reinforcements: If the heroes have joined factions, allies might show up to aid them in this battle:
  • Bregan D'aerthe: Jarlaxle (page 206) and 3 drow gunslingers (page 201).
  • Harpers: Mirt (page 211) and 2 swashbucklers (page 216).
  • Emerald Enclave: 3 swarms of rats (MM pg 339).
  • Force Grey: Meloon Wardragon (page 210). If the group's enemy is the Xanathar, Meloon (page 210) actually turns against the heroes.
  • Lords' Alliance: Laerel Silverhand (page 207), Jalester Silvermane (page 205), 6 veterans (MM pg 350).
  • Order of the Gauntlet: Hlam (page 204).
  • Zhentarim: The Doom Raiders (page 200). If Manshoon is the villain, Skeemo turns against the group.
Adventure Conclusion: So... what happens if the group gets the gold? It goes like this:
  1. The Harpers, Lords' Alliance and the Order of the Gauntlet ask the heroes to return the gold to Waterdeep.
  2. Laeral will let the group keep 50,000 gp.
  3. If the heroes don't return it, the group is charged with robbery. 
  4. If they try to flee the city, they are captured and imprisoned. The Happrpers and Lords' Alliance will pursue them "tirelessly". 
People will come asking for loans:
  • Emmek Frewn: He owes the Zhentarim money.
  • Davil Starsong: Actually asks to donate tot he Zhentarim.
  • Floon has gambling debt.
  • Volo wants them to fund an expedition.
  • A masked lord wants 10,000 gp and in exchange, the group will have political influence.
The heroes should be 5th level at the end of this!

Chapter 5: Spring Madness

Xanathar Lair Actions: In the beginning of this chapter, it says that we should review the "beholder's lair" section in the Monster Manual (MM pages 26-27). Xanathar has access to lair actions. It can:
  • Create difficult terrain.
  • Walls sprout grasping appendages that can grapple.
  • Form eyes on walls that shoot eye rays!
Xanathar's Stats: Xanathar is a beholder (MM pg 28). It wears three magic rings on its eyestalks:
  • Ring of Invisibility: (DMG pg 191) Xanathar becomes visible if it attacks someone.
  • Ring of Mind Shielding: (DMG pg 191) Xanathar is immune to having its mind read, alignment detected, or whether it is lying. A very cool note here is that if Xanathar dies, its soul enters the ring and can telepathically communicate with the new wearer. Maybe this Xanathar could communicate with the next Xanathar.
  • Ring of Resistance (Force): (DMG pg 192)The ring has a sapphire gem and Xanathar takes half damage from force.
X2. Watched Hall: If the group doesn't notice the scrying sensor in here, the 5 dwarves in X16 (page 106) see them and can warn the Xanathar of the intrusion.

X3. Beholder Zombie Guard: 1 beholder zombie (MM pg 316), 4 gas spores (MM pg 138).

X5. Horror's Alcove: It likely won't attack the heroes unless they damage it. Animated armor (MM pg 19).

X6. Pit of Blood and Fortune: If Xanathar is here, it is invisible.
  • Crowd: 10 bandits (MM pg 343), 5 bugbears (MM pg 33).
  • Ushers: 2 goblins (MM pg 166).
  • Fight: There is a battle going on. A minotaur (MM pg 223) is fighting Samara strongbones (spy, MM pg 349).
  • Interference: If the group jumps in, the arena spectators attack.
Blood and Fortune: On page 114, gladiatorial tournaments are described.
  • There are four teams of 3 creatures each.
  • There are 3 fights, each with a short rest between them.
  • Fights end when a team is disqualified, incapacitated, or dead.
X7. Cell Block: Prisoners:
  • Cell A: Groz (half-ogre, MM pg 238), Umpok (minotaur, MM pg 223), Charwohl (orog, MM pg 247)
  • Cell B: Xia Shung (bard, page 195), Claudio (noble, MM pg 348), Arthright (swashbuckler, page 216)
  • Cell C: Raelyn, (drow, MM pg 128), Zaibon is in X24. on page 110.
  • Cell D: Samara (spy, MM pg 349).
X8. Hall of Statues: Flutterfoot the jester (deep gnome, MM pg 164) blurps out a riddle. He has dust of disappearance (DMG pg 166).

X9. Guild Barracks: 10 extremely drunk bandits (MM pg 343).

X10. Noska's Quarters: Noska (page 213, thug MM pg 350) is either here or in the arena. His pet rust monster (MM pg 262) is in a wooden cage.

X11. Ahmaergo's Collection: So... this guy "fetishizes" minotaurs. He's got a mini maze in here that, if touched, triggers a maze spell (PH pg 258). If the stuffed minotaur is touched, a minotaur skeleton (MM pg 273) comes out of it and attacks.

X12. Ahmaergo's Quarters: It's a maze! there's a trap in it that might collapse the who thing on the heroes, doing 10 bludgeoning dmg. Treasure includes a potion of healing (DMG pg 188).

X13. Thorvin's Workshop: Thorvin Twinbeard (page 216, commoner MM pg 345) is in here building what is basically a trash compacter that can crush stone statues. He's got an albino gazer (page 203) sidekick.

X16. Panopticus Guard Station:These apprentice wizards (page 194) sleep with one eye open and their brains are half-on.. They can scry into some key rooms:
  • X2. (page 102)The entrance hall
  • X6. (pages 102-103) The arena
  • X23. (page 110) A slimy room with kuo-toa in it.
  • X28. (pages 111-112) Where the bandits are celebrating the capture of a watch captain.
  • X32.(page 112) Stairs.
X17. Promenade: Ahmaergo (page 193) is in here doing an inspection.

X18. Audience Chamber: The Xanathar (page 220) is in here giving a speech as a psychedilic light display fills the room. Listening to this are 12 bandits (MM pg 343), 2 duergar (MM pg 122), Nar'l Xibrindas (drow mage, MM pg 129) and his grell bodyguard (MM pg 172).

X19. Xanathar's Sanctum: This room is a big deal!
  • Spores: Cause short term madness (roll on the chart on DMG pg 259).
  • Ott Steeltoes: He's crazy. Stats page 214, cultist MM pg 345.
  • Chest: In the big fishbowl is a chest. among the gemstones is the stone of golorr (page 192).
  • Abduct or Kill Sylgar: If the group messes with the fish, it says on page 100 that Xanathar will become enraged. The beholder will start killing random minions.

X20. Dream Nullifier:This thing stops the Xanathar from dreaming another beholder into existence.

X23. Antechamber of Madness: The floor is difficult terrain, and there are kuo-toa servants of the mindflayer in here. 1 kuo-toa whip (MM pg 200), 6 kuo-toa (MM pg 199).

X24. Extraction Chamber: There's a drow (MM pg 128) prisoner in here. The mind flayer (MM pg 222) is getting to ready to use an intellect devourer (MM pg 191) on it.

X25. Food For Thought: There are 2 commoners (MM pg 345) in here. The mind flayer is planning on eating their brains. One is catatonic, the other is a raving lunatic.

X26. Devourer Spawning Pool: This is where the mind flayer (MM pg 222) turns brains into intellect devourers (MM pg 191). There ore four of them in here!

X27. Prison: The bad guys have captured Hyustus (veteran, MM pg 350), a member of the city watch. The kuo-toa have a statue to a god they made up named Garshoogah.

X28. Guild Recreation Hall: 10 bandits (MM pg 343), 2 goblins (MM pg 166). They are celebrating the capture of Hyustus, who is held in room x27.

X30. Xanathar's Gourmet Kitchen: 7 kobolds (MM pg 195) and 2 gazers (page 203) cook up fine gourmet meals for the beholder.

X31. The Other Kitchen: In this kitchen, Bepis Honeymaker (commoner, MM pg 345) is happy to see the group. He thinks they are here to relieve him of his duties.

X33. Crypt of Xanathars Past: What a great room. 1d4 gas spores (MM pg 138) might appear.

X34. Wizard Tombs: Eyes of charming (DMG pg 168).

X35. Nar'l Xibrindas's Office: In here, the group can grab Nar'l's spellbook and a bag of holding (DMG pg 153).

X36. Secret Room: 20 kegs of smokepowder (page 192). Only Thorvin Twinbeard (page 216) knows about this room.

Trolltide Slaughter: When are you supposed to run this? It seems like this fits in Chapter 2. Xanathar unleashes blind trolls during trolltide. The heroes help the guards fend them off. Veterans (MM pg 350), Troll (MM pg 291). Remember, blinded means attack rolls against the blind creature have advantage, and its attacks have disadvantage.

Chapter 6: Hell of a Summer

Sorry for the delay, I'm getting my butt in gear now.