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Thursday, August 23, 2018

Rivals of Waterdeep Episode 9

By Dylan Ramsey

You can watch this episode on Youtube.

Carlos Luna - Dungeon Master

(Surena Marie) Ashbourne - Half-Elf Ranger
(Cicero Holmes) Perrin - Halfling Bard
(Tanya DePass) Selise - Human Paladin of Tyr
(Shareef Jackson) Shaka - Tiefling Warlock
(Brandon Stennis) Rinn - High Elf Sorcerer

The party are headed to the Zhentarim safehouse. They can run the seawall, use a passage between the cliffs, or a tunnel under the city that is marked with the Xanathar’s emblem. Rinn asks Ziraj what he knows about the tunnel, and the half-orc admits that he and Levant never used them, since the Xanathar’s goons use the sewers to travel beneath Waterdeep--that’s why Ziraj haunted the rooftops. Duo the kobold says that he always used the tunnels, and they were pretty great in his opinion.

When Selise points out that she doesn’t have her armor, Ziraj notes that if they use the passage between the cliffs, they might have time to stop by the Jade Rose and grab the party’s stuff before the Watch confiscates it. They decide to go that way. Ashbourne drops some items and creates tracks around the entrance to the tunnel to make it look like they went down that way.

They navigate the passage between the cliffs. It looks like a place that locals who can’t afford or wouldn’t be allowed in the amphitheater would come so they could still hear any performances. Shaka peers through a crack to see guards setting up around the area to try and head the party off. Perrin starts talking through the mindworms with Ash, Nocnoc, and Shaka, planning to take a closer look. Rinn gets jealous and really wants a worm of his own. Selise tells him he’s made enough bad decisions for today.

Perrin sneaks into some bushes around the crack, and overhears two guards talking. One of them is complaining about the orders they have, because he knows about the passage between the cliffs and thinks they should be checking there, but the command is busy sending their men north. Perrin casts ‘Suggestion’ on the suspicious guard and convinces him that the passage wasn’t the escape route they used and to keep quiet about it. The guards form up and march away.

The party slip out of the crack and try their best to blend into a crowd of people exiting the amphitheater. Shaka goes up to a tiefling teacher named Robby Jellymint who is very excited because he snuck into the show and had the time of his life despite the insanity. They decide to get a drink together. Robby sounds exactly like Carlos’s tiefling sorcerer, Gilf, from the Dungeon Rats. GOOD. STUFF.

Ashbourne pays some beggars and gets them to start performing a song and dance very loudly, drawing some attention away from the party as they sneak through. Since Perrin is famous now, he rolls with disadvantage, but he makes it after using ‘Vicious Mockery’ to distract the guard he used ‘Suggestion’ on earlier, completely destroying his self-esteem. Rinn and Selise have Lavant’s blood on them, and are able to slip through by pretending to be performers. Really BAD performers, but performers all the same.

At the bar, Robby is coming over with beers to the table where Shaka is at when the rest of the party arrive outside. Ashbourne bursts in and shouts, “DAD! The chickens are loose!” at Shaka, who excuses himself to rejoin the rest of the party. Robby sadly drinks alone.

While headed through an alley, an intellect devourer leaps from the shadows and latches onto Shaka’s leg. He screams in pain as it assaults his body and mind, he uses ‘Hellish Rebuke’ and sets both it and his own leg on fire! His companions are able to yank the creature off. Perrin stabs it with his rapier, and Ash runs in to slice it in half. Shaka asks to be healed, and Perrin, Ash, and Nocnoc realize that the warlock’s mindworm was slain by the intellect devourer’s attack. Selise heals him.

Freaked out by that business, the party reach the Jade Rose. Duo scouts ahead, and tells them that there are guards inside. Mayor Melonie (I’ve been calling her ‘Melody’ all this time, and I feel like a dork--I thought for sure that was her name, I swear!) says through the mindworms that she moved their stuff out around back, but warns them to get out of here as soon as possible.

Ziraj says that the Zhentarim safehouse is about an hour south from here as they depart. That's where we end it.

Here's a clip of Shaka getting out of the bar with Ash's help:

Rivals of Waterdeep Episode 8

By Dylan Ramsey

Carlos is Dungeon Mastering today--awesome! Always love to see someone I haven’t watched run a game before. You can watch this episode on Youtube.

Carlos Luna - Dungeon Master

(Surena Marie) Ashbourne - Half-Elf Ranger
(Carlos Luna) Nocnoc - Half-Orc Fighter

(Cicero Holmes) Perrin - Halfling Bard
(Tanya DePass) Selise - Human Paladin of Tyr
(Shareef Jackson) Shaka - Tiefling Warlock
(Brandon Stennis) Rinn - High Elf Sorcerer

Time slows down as the arrow that Ziraj shot at Ashbourne last time flies to meet its mark. Nocnoc yells, “KILL SHOT!” But it’s too late, the arrow strikes home before anyone can stop it, and she thinks,

“Mother... mother, I’ve failed you.”

She closes her eyes and feels a pressure slam into her shoulder, but... it doesn’t feel painful. She wonders if this is what death is like. Rinn sees something else however, a red blur leap in front of Ashbourne--it’s a kobold... the middle one. The pressure was the kobold’s body crashing into her after leaping in front of the arrow so it hit him instead.

Ashbourne goes over and craddles the middle kobold. Perrin’s charm spell wore off and the other two kobolds left, but the middle kobold, Duo... he stayed. The arrow pierced straight through him, and he’s bleeding out. Duo says that he’s never been a hero before... Ash removes the arrow and casts ‘Cure Wounds’, saving him! Made me tear up there--great opening to an episode. Well done!

When everyone turns from this scene, they spot Ziraj and Lavant, the tiefling woman with the eyepatch, standing together. Shaka tries to reason with the half-orc, clarifying that they are not friends of the Xanathar whatsoever! Ziraj points his bow at Ashbourne again and says that he knows that they aren’t friends of the crime lord, but the Xanathar wants “the girl with the claw” (if you remember, Ash has an enormous golden claw in place of one of her arms), for what purpose, Ziraj does not know, but he WON’T let the beholder get what he wants. Selise steps in front of Ash to shield her, and Rinn stands beside her--”You’re not taking my sister.”

Ziraj reveals that he works for the Zhentarim, the rivals of the Xanathar’s Guild. Lavant the tiefling keeps leaning in and whispering into his ear. Shaka turns to question her, and Lavant explains that Ziraj wasn’t firing at her to try and kill her, this whole thing--Shaka spotting Ziraj on the rooftop and finding the flyer that led them to this auction--it was all a setup to get them here, to lure out Ashbourne. Her and the kaleidoscope were both bait. Shaka is impressed.

The party want to forge an alliance with Ziraj, and reveal to him that they came to Waterdeep to rescue the people of Nightstone who were trapped by Graz’zt. That’s why they can’t just leave. They NEED the hoard of golden dragons that supposedly lies below the city. Ziraj is convinced to introduce them to the Zhents for safety’s sake. Selise is concerned because she’s a paladin of Tyr, and asks if she can get black armor if she joins. The answer?YES!

The amphitheater has cleared out from the commotion, when they hear a clap coming from the stage. A man in a blue uniform steps out of the shadows. He points out that he’s fine with the gangs fighting and killing each other out in the backstreets--it’s when they bring their problem here, to the houses of good people like the Cassalanters that it becomes an issue. He starts insulting everyone in the party and Selise begins to march towards him angrily. Ziraj puts his hand on her shoulder and whispers that this man is the Captain of the Watch, and that they’re currently surrounded by over one hundred armed guards.

Making a run for it, the party are able to escape up a stairway and onto the roof. They scale the cliff to the sea far below. Lavant stays behind to hold off the guards if they break through before the party make it all the way down the rope. Some archers notice the very shiny Rinn as he loses his grip for a moment. Selise catches him, but the archers open fire. Ziraj fires back. Everyone reaches the bottom except for Selise and Rinn, who feel the rope get wet and begin to unwind in their hands. They slide the rest of the way down, and get rope-burn! Ash and Shaka see with their darkvision that their companions aren’t wet with water--but with blood. Lavant’s blood.

Ziraj is shell-shocked. Shaka gives him a comforting hug. Ziraj is staring at the seawall, which is covered in centuries worth of graffiti--the history of gangs come and gone, of forgotten loves and silly jokes, the history of Waterdeep and her people... even those who the leaders and lords would rather not be remembered. The party empathize with Ziraj’s loss, they’ve all lost people close to them--”it’s a pain that hurts, and will never stop hurting.”

They depart for the Zhentarim safehouse.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Rivals of Waterdeep Episode 7

By Dylan Ramsey

The whole group is back! You can watch this episode on Youtube.

Aram Vartian - Dungeon Master

(Surena Marie) Ashbourne - Half-Elf Ranger
(Carlos Luna) Nocnoc - Half-Orc Fighter
(Cicero Holmes) Perrin - Halfling Bard
(Tanya DePass) Selise - Human Paladin of Tyr
(Shareef Jackson) Shaka - Tiefling Warlock
(Brandon Stennis) Rinn - High Elf Sorcerer

After having broken-off to find Rinn, Selise stumbles across Kelm the urchin boy. Kelm says that his job is to make sure that everything on the street works, and the party keep messing things up, so the sooner he can help her and get her out of here, the better. She grabs him, and Kelm points her to an exclusive club where Rinn went on his date with Zayor.

Rinn and Zayor are inside, and are the only people sitting in the VIP section. Zayor says that their next stop is the Grand Showcase. The auction there (where the mysterious kaleidoscope the rest of the party heard about is being sold) is collecting funds to maintain and restore the giant statue guardians that defend Waterdeep. Their glass table suddenly glows green as they get a call from the bouncer outside--Selise is looking for Rinn. She is very disapproving mom about the whole thing when she overhears the waiter say that Rinn has gone through “two beers in ten minutes”.

Carlos and Tanya improv the small-talk between Selise and the bouncer as they’re waiting for Rinn and Zayor. The bouncer notices she hasn’t even tapped her foot to the music coming from inside.

“They trained the rhythm out of me.”

Back at the party, Nocnoc and Shaka. Shaka spots the host for this evening--a dark-haired woman in a white dress decorated in scales with a dragon mask. She tells them that the kaleidoscope is from the time before the city, when the dwarves were first digging under Mount Waterdeep.

Chips ruffles as he lays in Ashbourne’s bag as the two silvery-masked women turn and disappear into the crowd. The fox bounds after them, darting between legs and under dresses. Ash rolls a NAT 20! She finds the women and notices that they have armor, battle scars, and swords under their costumes--the scent that she catches is familiar... it reminds her of the young lord who attacked them after they left Nightstone. They are Melra & Larla, and she overhears that they are the mothers of the lord and his brother, here to exact revenge.

Perrin commands his charmed kobolds to follow after the women. Before they go, one of them acts as a taste-tester for a meal being brought to Perrin and keels over dead--poison! Melra & Larla wanted him to “Perish... Unfitly? I’m saving them for the show.”

While Nocnoc and Shaka freak out about the poison (having heard about it through the mindworm connection), they are approached by a disguised Devonia, Graz’zt’s cambion daughter. She evidently has some time off and is here to enjoy herself.

Selise and Rinn arrive alongside Zayor in a carriage themed half-black/half-white like a chessboard. Zayor gets caught-up in some “high-society bullshit” while the paladin and sorcerer head inside. They see Ash slapping food out of people’s hands, and reunite with the rest of the party. When Selise hears about everything that’s happened since she left, she is flabbergasted.

“I may be a paladin, but you people make me drink!”

Perrin’s performance is about to begin, and he really isn’t worried about an assassination attempt, because they already tried and failed. The three kobolds watching Melra & Larla are stacked up in a lady’s coat like kids trying to sneak into a movie theater, and Nocnoc sidles up next to them like they’re his date. He gives the Middle Kobold a pep-talk. When they turn back, the women are gone! Shaka tries to find them and sees a magical shimmer amid the crowd, and believes that they are using magic to move around the party invisibly.

Lady Amalia Cassalanter comes up onto the stage and introduces Nicholas Fernsberry and Perrin Underbough, noting that the auction will be wrapping up at the end of the performance. Perrin leaps from platform to platform up a staircase, each lighting up as he plays his drums like a lightning bolt. He tells a tale of rising above your station. Puppets act out his tale to the side, controlled by Nicholas using magical runesticks. A projection of the world appears behind Perrin as he gives a closing speech,

“The world is yours if you work for it. The world is yours if you go for it. The world is yours if you believe it.”

BA-BOOM! The crowd goes wild. The hairs on the back of Ash’s neck stand up. One of the ropes up above is cut and a sandbag comes flying towards Perrin! Nocnoc is able to fling his Humming Bird arrow and impale the bag RIGHT before it hits the bard. The bag is yanked to the side and brushes against Perrin’s face. There is a yell and a boom as one of the masked mothers leaps from the stage rigging, sword drawn, coming towards Perrin!

Perrin stomps on the ground as he casts ‘Shatter’ to try and blow the woman away, but the other mother appears with a magical shield in front of her, and they withstand the blast. Selise charges in from the front row and tries to cast ‘Hold Person’ on the shield-bearer, but she resists. People in the crowd start to realize what’s going on as weapons fly and blood spills, and they run, screaming.

Nocnoc asks the Middle Kobold if he wants to be a hero, and they start making their way towards the stage. Nocnoc’s arrow and the kobold’s throwing dagger both strike--thwoom, thwoom! Shaka fires off a pair of ‘Eldritch Blasts’ at the same woman, but only one hits. The shield-bearer furiously deflects the second, and the blast hits Nocnoc instead! She goes to her wounded wife and they both disappear.

In all the commotion, Ashbourne notices a woman with a package under her arm running from the building where the auction was being held as arrows are fired at her from the rooftops of this palatial compound by Ziraj!

Nocnoc action surges and goes for the running woman (who Aram calls “Lavant”) alongside Ashbourne. Shaka fires an ‘Eldritch Blast’ in front of her feet with a NAT 20 and knocks her onto the ground! Her mask tumbles off, and a sapphire eyepatch falls off from her face. Nocnoc brings down his Dragon Fang into her shoulder as she scrambles back to her feet. Ziraj fires his bow at Ashbourne...!

That’s where they call it!

Monday, August 6, 2018

Hell's Belles Episode 7

They are playing through a classic Planescape adventure, The Great Modron March, converted to 5th edition.

The Party

DM Mazz

(Shauna) Levity - Tiefling Monk linked to Glasya
(Chloe Christine) Lyra - Tiefling Paladin
(Hadeel) Miga - Tiefling Rogue an urchin who lives by the sea
(Lysa Chen) Mercy - Tiefling Shadow sorcerer from Ravenloft
(TK Johnson) Gille - Tiefling Paladin
(Holly Conrad) Durge - Tiefling Bard college of whispers, member of the Dustmen

The group is now level 6. They appear in Sylvania, a planar party town. There is a giant table of food and drinks that moves of its own accord. There's a tower of skulls, an inn shaped like a dragon head that dips in to water to "take a sip".

For Mercy, this is like a horror movie. The confetti, the popping.

The modrons begin marching through the town. The people of the town are painting and decorating them, including S3-4N.

Their friend Chastity spots them. She explains that this happens every time the modron march comes through.

Pentar is in rat form somewhere (Kayle was having internet issues and can't make the game).

Levity brings the group to the dragon inn. Mery spends the night sweeping confetti. Miga wants to jump in the pile.

There's a dwarf and a really drunk bauriar. An individual staggers into the bar. Instead of a hand, it has a modron claw. It's got metal plates on it.

Miga rolls a total of 28. She uses her scorpion tail flail and attacks the hybrid monstrosity.

Lyra realizes that this creature is chastity, with modron parts surgically added to her body.

Mercy summons a shadow wolf. During the casting, the group sees the marks of Tenebrous on her.

Miga hides in a pile of confetti. S3-4N helps out by adding more confetti to the pile.

The group subdues Chastity.

Mercy backs into a corner. The wolf walks up to her, and connects to her shadow. Mercy screams until it fades away.

S3-4N tells Miga that it's defeated. Miga pops out of the confetti pile. She takes several handfuls of confetti and adds it to her inventory. S3-4N is loaded up with confetti.

The group examines Chastity. She wakes up, and stares. She doesn't seem to recognize the group. Her memories have been removed, apparently.

Chastity has been restrained using the immovable rod. The group tells the barkeep not to press the button on the rod, or everyone will die.

The heroes do some exploring. They head into the woods, following Chastity's trail. They spot two individuals in black.

The thugs are actually pretty nice. They lead the group to a torture facility. The heroes explore it and come upon a room where they see a mad scientist. Mercy hangs back in the foyer. She sneaks around.

Mercy finds blueprints and a journal full of notes. She rushes to find the group.

Miga, Lyra and S3-4N stay outside, looking around, ready to act if they hear screams.

The mad scientist is always looking for people to use for experiments. Durge asks if he's looking for an apprentice. He says he had an apprentice but she left. Her name was Nyssa.

He's trying to fuse modrons and humans to make the perfect creature.

Mercy creeps around some more. She uses disguise self to look like one of the thugs. She checks some rooms. She hears clanking and whirring, and she smells modron blood. There are cages. In them are 5 modrons with parts missing. In another cage, there are tridrones missing hands and plates.

In another room are people, huddled in terror. They're afraid Mercy is going to take them. The captives are of many races - human, githzerai, and bariaur.

The group goes to another room where there are sensory stones, magic memory containers. Levity and Durge jump the mad scientist. Durge blinds the scientist and then she stabs him.

The scientist teleports away (or becomes invisible). Durge thunderwaves the place, cracking plinths and trashing the place.

Mercy breaks the cages open. She frees them and leads them out of the building. They immediately starts heading back to the march. Miga throws confetti and cheers the rescue.

Durge touches one of the sensory stones. She experiences the memories of someone's happy childhood. Gille touches one, and experiences what it's like to be a miserable drunk. Levity touches one, and she experiences the memories of... Chastity. Levity pockets it.

Gille sets fire to the place. Levity loots as many sensory stones as she can. Gille stands and stares. Then, once she leaves, he burns that room, too.

As the group watches the place burns, Lyra swears that she will destroy all of the knights of the tachyrym.

Miga worries that she started the fire with her wand and she tries to apologize. She gives the wand to Lyra. Lyra tells her it wasn't her fault and gives Miga the wand back.

Gille watches the fire and thinks it's beautiful. He weeps.

Hell's Belles Episode 6

You can watch this episode right here.

The group is playing through a classic Planescape adventure, The Great Modron March, converted to 5th edition.

The Party

DM Mazz

(Shauna) Levity - Tiefling Monk linked to Glasya
(Chloe Christine) Lyra - Tiefling Paladin
(Hadeel) Miga - Tiefling Rogue an urchin who lives by the sea
(Lysa Chen) Mercy - Tiefling Shadow sorcerer from Ravenloft
(TK Johnson) Gille - Tiefling Paladin
(KaylaPentar - Tiefling linked to Zuggtmoy
(Holly Conrad) Durge - Tiefling Bard college of whispers, member of the Dustmen 

The adventurers are in the office building. It's been a few months since the modron abduction incident from episode 4.

Lyra is back, and she's brought gifts for everyone:
  • Mercy: A cloak of gleaming. It can never get dirty. Mercy is extremely into this. 
  • Levity: A pole of collapsing. You can use an action to shift it between a 10 foot pole and a 1 foot rod. Levity gives Lyra a multi-colored stone - it's a sensory stone! You can record memories in it. 
  • Pentar: A staff of flowers. With it, you can summon any kind of flower that you want. Pentar offers a respectful handshake and scrambles down the stairs.
  • Durge: An instrument of scribing. It will animate and write things on its own. Durge declares that this is an excellent gift for the Dustmen faction.
  • Gille: A cloak of billowing! When Gille poses, the cloak billows. Gille loves it but tries to play it cool and tells her it's pretty nice.
  • Miga: A wand of pyrotechnics. Lyra says it's only for emergencies. Apparently it sends up flares. Miga promptly begins to wait for an emergency. It is also known as the "emergency stick."
Pentar makes a gigantic corpse flower in the basement.

There's a scratching sound at the door. It's the talking cat. He is looking for his niece - Durge. He's checking up on her and seeing how she's settling in to the place.

The cat says that the modrons are marching up a river in the Beastlands and it is poisoning a river there.

Gille made a statue made of cheese. Miga tastes it. She vanishes for 7 minutes. She had gone to Limbo. While there, she used all the charges on her emergency stick.

The heroes travel to the Beastlands. Lyra takes a deep breath. She loves the Beastlands. There's tall grass, it's a vast savanna. Jysson directs the group. He sits on Durge's shoulder and indicates a direction.

A pair of faeries fly up to the group and call for help. Pentar wants to eat them. She takes a bite from one of their shoulders. He calls out, "Oh, Fianna! I am undone!"

He's OK. Durge drops a pamphlet on him. Jysson reminds the group they don't want to make an enemy of the seelie fey.

As the group walks, they see that S3-4N getting lost in the tall grass. Miga holds him up so he can see above the grass.

A giant scorpion suddenly attacks the group. A pair of elephants come charging up as well. The larger elephant attacks Gille.

As the battle progresses, the group starts gaining animal traits. Gille gains fur, Lyra sprouts feathers, S3-4N has cat ears (the group loves this).

Jysson explains that the longer amount of time you spend in the Beastlands, the more like an animal you become.

The combat is resolved, and the group spots the modrons. They are marching, and the heroes notice that there are some people accompanying them. There's a force field lining the march, and there are winged elves. One approaches the heroes.

There's a tree called Ilifar-of-the-wind. Pentar approaches it and casts speak with plants. She asks the tree what is happening. It slowly explains that the elves put up a barrier to stop the modrons.

The force field has forced the modrons to march in the river itself.

There are robed people chanting. They're cleansing the land to the best of their ability. There are thorns on one bank. A female druid emerges and greets the group. She tells the heroes are disturbing their ritual.

 The druid explains that the blood war spilled over here and tainted the land. The druids are enacting a ritual to slowly remove demon ichor from the land.

Lyra and Gille, both paladins, try to help cleanse the land.

Durge has almost completely transformed into a rat. Mercy's hands become hoof-like. Is her mage hand also a hoof? A mage hoof?

Gille's face changes. He sprouts whiskers. He looks like a tabaxi.

S3-4N grows a kitty tail. Now he has... catnip packets. No. He's confused. He asks Miga why he had grown a tentacle. He looks Jysson, who is asleep. He copies Jysson.

The heroes finish the ritual and cleanse the land. They are brought to the Seelie Court, and are rewarded with gifts:
  • Mercy: A decanter of endless water. She tries to grab it with her hoof-hands.
  • Pentar: A glass jar with a thick mixture that smells like aloe. It's healing ointment.
  • Levity: A rope of climbing.
  • Durge: Dust of disappearance.
  • Lyra: Brooch of protection.
  • Miga: A driftglobe.
  • Gille: An immovable rod.
The group loses their animal traits. Most of the heroes are relieved.

The group leaves the court and emerge into an orchard of apple trees. There's a portal here - it leads to the gate-town of Sylvania. Levity smiles and says, "We're going to have some fun here."

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Rivals of Waterdeep Episode 6

By Dylan Ramsey

We have a small group this week, only Cicero, Shareef, Carlos, and Surena are here. You can watch this episode on Youtube, or as a podcast.

Aram Vartian - Dungeon Master

(Surena Marie) Ashbourne - Half-Elf Ranger
(Carlos Luna) Nocnoc - Half-Orc Fighter
(Cicero Holmes) Perrin - Halfling Bard
(Tanya DePass) Selise - Human Paladin of Tyr
(Shareef Jackson) Shaka - Tiefling Warlock
(Brandon Stennis) Rinn - High Elf Sorcerer

Selise is worried about Rinn after everything that’s happened and goes off to find him while everyone else heads back to the Jade Rose. Tonight is the Festival of the Moon--a celebration to Selune--and throngs of masked citizens parade through the streets. There are floats and everything. It’s essentially Waterdeep Mardi Gras. They have to reroute under a bridge because of the parade to reach their inn.

Shaka notices eight children playing and scampering behind them, he yells at them. Chips lets out a whine and Ashbourne realizes something is very wrong. As Nocnoc turns around to tell Shaka to chill out, he steps into a puddle, and the steel teeth of a bear trap suddenly clamp down on his leg! The “children” throw off their costumes--they’re kobolds! A bugbear drops from above to flank the party.

Ash hits the bugbear with an arrow, and Shaka leans down to try and pop the bear trap back open. He isn’t strong enough to do it alone, but Nocnoc helps with a NAT 20 and yanks it apart. The half-orc tosses it at the nearest kobold and it bites down on the poor little bastard. Perrin uses his Rod of Rulership on the kobolds, and half of them are charmed for 8 hours!!! The kobolds stab their former comrades, while Nocnoc action surges and uses his Humming Bird and Dragon’s Fang on the bugbear, destroying him! The mayor barely has enough time to scream before it’s all over.

Perrin orders his kobolds to put their costumes back on--they’re going to be his bodyguards at the party tonight. Nocnoc shouts back at Shaka for yelling at the “kids”, “That was an overreaction!”

Shaka looks at everybody, “Don’t. Trust. Kids.”

Ash and Nocnoc investigate the bugbear’s body. Ash finds a tattoo of a beholder on his wrist--they were minions of the Xanathar (NAT 20). Nocnoc cuts himself on a hidden blade and is knocked out by the poison on it (NAT 1). Ash picks him up with her golden claw arm and carries this enormous half-orc with absolutely no problem.

At the Jade Rose, Shaka finds that Nicholas Fernsberry sent a letter detailing information he dug up on Ziraj. Evidently, Ziraj has a personal beef with the Xanathar, and might have gone after the party if he thought they were involved with the crime boss. Given that they just took out some of the Xanathar’s thugs, Shaka hopes that they can prove that they aren’t friends of the beholder. He and Perrin go back to try and get proof from the bodies.

When they arrive however, the bodies are gone. Perrin notices a form on a rooftop however and tells Shaka they should be “Peering Up” instead of looking down. Shaka ‘Misty Steps’ to the roof and sees Ziraj leaping from rooftop to rooftop, already too far for the warlock to catch up. He *does* see that Ziraj dropped a note mentioning an auction and museum showing tonight at 10 o’clock, being held by the Cassalanters at their estate. AT LAST, our final villains from Dragon Heist are mentioned!

Back at the Jade Rose, Nocnoc wakes up and asks what happened. Ash tells him he got hit by a smooth criminal.

“I got hit by?”

“Struck by.”

“A what?”

“A smooth criminal.”

Mayor Melody walks in with 5 glass jars--each has a mindworm inside it. Perrin and Shaka return as the mayor explains that mindworms are Underdark critters that can allow people to telepathically communicate with one another when placed in the ear. She says that if they keep the worm in there for multiple days, it might eventually take over their bodies, but they shouldn’t have to worry about that.

When Shaka puts his mindworm in, he is sucked into his own mind, and his goldfish patron angrily tells him to stop letting people parse through his thoughts. Shaka tells his patron that he has to know that he won’t let his companions find out about their agreement. The goldfish swims towards him and morphs into a huge beholder, “DO NOT PRESUME WHAT I KNOW!” Shaka jolts back to reality.

The party head to the Grand Showcase, Perrin and Ash taking a carriage sent because of their amazing audition. Nicholas Fernsberry is going up right before them. Nocnoc hears something tinkling in his bag and finds a vial with a note on it inside the magic torch that Fora the Blackstaff gave him. It reads, “The others can’t deal with that monster, Ziraj. When the time comes: drink this.”

While Perrin and Ash get ready, Nocnoc and Shaka go to the auction hall. They’re trying to figure out how to get their hands on the weird kaleidoscope being sold tonight, but see someone run through a door and slam it behind them out of the corner of their eyes.

Perrin gets Ash to find him some feathers, because they are “going to fly high today”. The stage crew happily sets things up for the performance. Perrin is hoisted up by a rope and tells Ash that they’re going to take “the stairway... to heaven.” Ash notices two women in gray robes and mirrored masks staring at them and the hair stands up on the back of her neck.

Dylan’s musings on the adventure:

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a few weeks now, but I really hope that Aram’s approach to the four villainous groups (Xanathar’s Guild; Zhentarim; Bregan D’aerthe; Cassalanters) is how they are actually presented in the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist adventure. There’s no clear villain, but all of them and their machinations are present--it really feels like everyone is after this treasure.

Meanwhile, it’s pretty obvious on Dice, Camera, Action! that Chris Perkins wants the Waffle Crew to go up against the Xanathar. Despite building up the Zhents as baddies in Season 3 and the start of Season 4, they’ve disappeared. Heck, we haven’t even HEARD about Jarlaxle or the Cassalanters in DCA yet! (though I do have a theory that, since the drow seem to have gunpowder in their arsenal now, Warrington Munt’s conspicuous absence might guide us into a plot involving them).

I think giving players the initiative to choose which villain they want to go after (rather than the DM picking one from the start, as they *seemed* to imply at the Stream of Many Eyes, with each villain being linked to a specific season) makes for a much better adventure. If it's not up to the players, then there is no tough choice to decide which villain you want to stop and which you’re alright allowing to get away with their schemes. Sometimes, handing the reins over to your players is a DM's greatest tool.