My group of players and I sat down for a virtual D&D game session for the new campaign I will be running: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist! This is a chronicle of their tale. (This post contains spoilers for “Waterdeep: Dragon Heist”)
Within the famous Yawning Portal tavern and inn of Waterdeep, five people are fated to meet. Jett, a male earth genasi wearing armor and a glaive, sits at the bar with a drink in his hand, watching the room and waiting to see if any outstanding bounties walk in or catch his eye. Alma, a female firbolg cleric of Tymora, sits at another table talking to Obaya Uday, a cleric of Waukeen. A half-elf with a fancy lute, Halfast, plays along with the tavern’s resident musician, Threestrings, to accompany the merriment going around the room.
The tavern doors open, and in walk Maggie Magpie, a female elf wearing wizard’s robes and carrying a staff, accompanied by a dwarf in simple armor named Roland Ironkeg, carrying a large wooden greatclub. The elf goes right over to Halfast, and the old friends greet each other and get a table with Roland.
Everyone starts to cheer for a group of headstrong and (probably) drunk adventurers who toast to themselves, pay Durnan a few dragons (which are what they call gold pieces in Waterdeep), and head for the rope elevator system that leads down into the huge well in the center of the aptly named Yawning Portal tavern.
Various patrons shout at them or jeer at them, wishing them well as much as they tease their imminent demise. With hearty smiles on their faces, the human, the elf, and the gnome disappear down into the well.
Everyone goes back to their business, as if nothing had happened.
Nearby, a brutish-looking half-orc woman named Yagra Stonefist is punched by a thug with facial tattoos and a bald pate. He shouts that she and her kind are wantonly killing his mates, and that she’ll pay for it. Yagra growls, and leaps across her table at the man, tackling him to the floor. A crowd almost instantly draws around the pair, including the man’s allies, who join the fight.
Jett rushes over to help his friend, Yagra, and inserts himself into the tussle. Maggie helps by shooting a firebolt at one of the bald man’s friends who tries to hit Jett. Roland jumps up, runs over, and tosses a man toward the bar. Halfast stands on his chair and starts playing energetic music on his lute to accompany the brawl, while Alma uses thaumaturgy to create flashes of light to add to the atmosphere.
Eventually, Yagra emerges victorious, leaving the bald man’s face looking like ground hamburger, but still alive. The crowd starts to disperse as Jett and Roland lead Yagra away and over to their table. Durnan picks up one of the bald man’s friends and shouts at him to “Get out!” And he glares at them all as they leave.
As they do so, however, they look and see that Jett, Roland, Halfast, Maggie, and Alma are all seated with Yagra.
They ask Yagra what that was all about, and she tells of the warring between the Zhentarim and the Xanathar Guild, and that the latter of which have taken to murdering her kind in the streets where they find them, as of late.
Alma gets clarification that “her kind” are, indeed, Zhents. Yagra shows her tattoo of a winged snake hidden under her sleeve on her upper arm – the symbol of the Zhentarim.
Not a moment later, screams of alarm and terror break out through the Yawning Portal as a monstrous creature climbs up out of the well. It has great black wings, shiny black scales on its bipedal body, and a horned head that resembles that of a black dragon. But it is not a black dragon, or even a dragonborn or half-dragon. It’s something that no one recognizes.
It roars, looking somewhat beaten already, and it holds the severed arm of a fair-skinned adventurer – probably one of the three that went down there earlier. A number of stirges accompany this monster, looking for new prey.
Durnan hops the counter, his huge greatsword in his hand, as he shouts at everyone to “Run!!” as he charges at the creature. Maggie stands up and shoots off a firebolt, but the spell does absolutely nothing to the monster.
Durnan starts slicing at it, doing some damage. Roland runs up and tries to take it down with a greatclub strike to the knee, but Durnan urges the dwarf to get back. Alma, Jett, and Halfast focus their fire and attacks on the stirges flying around the room.
The black creature swipes its claws at Durnan, and succeeds in biting Roland on the arm. Durnan takes the opportunity to lop off one of its arms, and then he beheads it with one wide swing. Durnan kicks the body into the well, and tosses the head and arm in after it, then goes back to the bar.
Alma jokes that someone ought to buy them a drink. Just then, a voice perks up from behind an overturned table, offering to do just that if they’ll hear him out. A portly man with a perfect mustache and beard, and a telltale floppy hat, invites them all to sit down at his table (which he sets upright), and introduces himself as the famous, celebrity chronicler Volothamp Geddarm.
He offers the group ten dragons each up front to find his missing friend, Floon Blagmaar, and ten times that amount if they can bring him back to him alive. They question ol’ Volo, and he reveals that his well-dressed and handsome friend was last seen at the Skewered Dragon in Dock Ward, where they were having drinks together two nights ago. He has not heard from Floon since then, and is worried sick for his friend.
They accept his quest, and get paid, even if some of them are a bit skeptical on the veracity of Volo’s claims and the legitimacy of his information (Volo tries to sell them a copy of his book, “Volo’s Guide to Monsters.”) And so they set out from the Yawning Portal together.
While on the streets, they come to an area that’s cordoned off by Waterdeep’s policing force, the City Watch. Looking through the small crowd that has gathered, the group sees several bloodied corpses lying about the area, with three blood-covered human men in black leather armor seated under arrest between two City Watch officers.
They try to question the City Watch officers nearby to see if Floon might be one of the victims, but they report that no one of his description is present, and tell them to move on. They try to do so, but someone shouts from behind them, “Stop him!” The group looks to see one of the men that was under arrest running straight for them. Maggie uses her staff to trip the man, sending him face-first into the cobblestones.
Officers run over to apprehend the man, while a City Watch captain follows over to express his gratitude. He introduces himself as Captain Hyustus Staget, and tries to help them with their search. Alma asks if they have someone matching Floon’s description in lock-up, maybe in the drunk tank. Staget says that the name sounds familiar, but he doesn’t recall seeing anyone with that description, but he’ll check as a favor for stopping the Zhentarim criminal.
As Staget sends them on their way, he reminds them to keep their weapons firmly locked at their hips and to not get mixed up any more with the Zhents or this conflict, to leave it to the Watch.
After the sunset, the group reaches Dock Ward and starts to make its way toward the Skewered Dragon. They stop, however, when they see an odd shop painted all purple called Old Xoblob’s Shop that features a horrifying stuffed beholder in the front window.
They go inside, and find everything painted or tinted or dyed some shade of purple. An old gnome sits on the counter smoking a pipe, and invites them to look around at his exclusive curiosities.
They look around, but finally ask the gnome if he knows anything about Floon. At first, he doesn’t remember, but then recalls something about Floon’s description. He says, however, that ever since taking a gaseous spore to the face in Undermountain all those years ago, his memory has just not quite been the same. If only he could remember…
Halfast buys a piece of sheet music, which helps to jog the gnome’s memory. He says he does remember that he saw someone matching Floon’s description getting jumped by five men just outside his shop the other day. One of them even had a tattoo of a winged snake on his neck. He says he’s trying to remember something else, but just can’t seem to get it…
Halfast saves the day again by promising to come perform outside his shop to draw buyers in if he can give more information. The gnome agrees and says that it was actually two people matching Floon’s description, walking together, who got jumped and dragged away so frightfully. But that’s all he knows.
With that, the group leaves Old Xoblob’s Shop and heads for the Skewered Dragon. Jett mentions that, if they need to, he can check with his friend Yagra to see if she knows anything about the Zhents that seemingly took Floon and this other person who looks like Floon.
And there’s the end of session 1 for Waterdeep: Dragon Heist! I’m so excited about this campaign, because it’s so cool! Just reading through the book makes me want to play it myself. But I’m happy to be running it this time.
So, yes, we have our characters all set up and ready to go – you can read more about them in my session 0 post. And it was a lot of fun to see them start on their quest. We have a pretty spellcaster-heavy party here, with only Jett being the really “physical” one as the fighter. Everyone else is either a cleric, a bard, a druid, or a wizard.
Now, all of those classes have some great damage and control potential, and a couple of those classes mark among my favorite – so don’t get me wrong. I’m simply saying that there’s only one really physical fighter, and a few glass cannons. Hopefully we’ll get to see the cleric character start coming into play as encounters break out and happen more. I like the 5E cleric, because they’re so tanky while also being a support class.
The Dragon Heist book calls for a weakened troll to come up out of the Yawning Portal in the beginning, after the tavern brawl. But I thought I’d change it up a bit for the purposes of some interesting consistency that may pop up later in the game. This monster isn’t found in the Monster Manual either. It comes from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes! I won’t reveal just now what it was, but I’m so interested to see how this comes back later on!
Anyway, I’m looking forward to how they handle this investigation into Floon’s disappearance. There’s a lot of fun coming up in future sessions, and things have the potential to go crazy! How crazy? Find out next time, in “My Interrogative!”
Until then, Well Met!