DM’s Notes: Episode 4 – The Opera

WARNING: SPOILERS for both Waterdeep: Dragon Heist the module in general and the story arc for this campaign in particular. If you just want to follow along the campaign but don’t want to have the plot spoiled for you, read no further.

Link to this episode’s podcast.

This episode starts with some fun role playing to prepare for the Opera. This type of role play may not be for everyone, but we amuse ourselves 🙂 Also, I think we were at least a little bit delaying while waiting for Brett (Icky) who was caught up commuting from work. By the way, the scene where Hal applies makeup to Icky was a direct response to Brett (Icky) sending a message on Discord that Icky wanted purple eye makeup. Well, you asked for it, buddy!

I found a great post online that summarizes the plot of The Fall of Tiamat and parts of my narrative were read word for word from that. I reorganized it a little bit and reproduce it here. But I must warn you, much of this comes from that Reddit post and is not my original work.

Summary of The Fall of Tiamat: (Opera sung in Giant)

Bad Guys: Severin the Red, Members of the Dragon Cult, Tiamat

Good Guys: Party of plucky adventurers, Talis the White (turned against the cult), The Council of Waterdeep, Dagault Neverember (turned away), Laerel Silverhand.

Places: Greenest, Mere of Dead Men, A Storm Giant’s Flying Castle (destroyed), Well of Dragons.

Opening Scene: The music swells as the curtain draws back five singers in green, white, blue, black and red dragon masks are on a deis above the stage they look down upon a man called Severin who wears the mask of a dragon cultist. The first song is catalogue aria as they command him to reestablish the Cult of the Dragon and then describes the myriad evil deeds he is to perform. As the song ends, Severin pledges his undying loyalty to his queen and vows to gather the dragon masks in a rising crescendo as from the back of the theatre massive dragons fly towards the stage one by one. A stagehand holds up facades of different cities as each dragon tears up to the stage, releases a massive breath weapon at the city and then disappears into the wings.

Final Scene: An army of heroes, marches towards the dragon cultists and slay Severin but not before Tiamat is summed. The heroes sing in unison of sacrifice and honour as they turn her away from Toril.

Story

The chromatic dragon goddess Tiamat commanded her fell servant Severin to reestablish the Cult of the Dragon and to use the might of his followers to gather the Dragon Masks with the purpose of performing a ritual that would bring Tiamat back into Toril.

The Cult’s Raiding parties ravaged the land far and wide, gathering a Hoard of treasure worthy of the Dragon Queen. Chance set the noble adventurers on the trail of the Cult’s Horde. Across the Sword Coast they tracked the treasure, from Greenest to the Mere of Dead Men.

In the midst of that swamp, a castle housed the gateway to the final leg of the Horde’s Journey. The cunning adventurers seized upon the Tension between the Castle-dwellers and the Swamp’s Denizens. Lizardfolk fought Bullywug and cultist that night, and in the Chaos, the adventurers reached and passed through the gateway, following the Horde.

Far to the East, near a hunting lodge in the mountains, the adventurers received some aid. A disgruntled Cultist, blocked from promotion within the cult, threw her support behind the adventurers. With Talis the White’s aid, the heroes were able to infiltrate the last-but-one stop of the Horde: a Storm Giant’s Flying Castle.

Double-dealings, treachery, and valiant combat marked their visit to the castle. In the end, the horde was spilled all over the countryside as the Castle was cast out of the sky. The Ghost of an angry storm giant failed to slay the heroes: but his castle lay in pieces as the heroes escaped upon stolen Wyvern mounts.

Hearing of their heroic deeds, a council was formed to give Authority to their fight against the madness of the Cult. Many trials did the heroes face under order of the council: a journey by sea to the Far North to rescue a mage from a Dragon’s Lair. They delved deep into the Tomb of a great wizard, in pursuit of the White Wyrmspeaker. They journeyed to the north, representing their cause to a council of Metallic Dragons. They hunted the Green Wyrmspeaker through the misty Forest. They even met with the Red Wizards of Thay, and cleansed a Wizard’s Tower of Tiamat’s Taint. All the while the Cult grew increasingly desperate in their attempts to stop the Heroes.

Eventually all was concluded. The army raised by the Heroes faced that of the Cult of the Dragon in a final battle, With Severin The Red summoning his mistress in the background. The Heroes Penetrated the Cult’s Defences and arrived to slay Severin and end his mad ambition. But lo! The heroes were too late: the Cultist had succeeded in opening the door to Tiamat’s Prison.

With the disruption of the Ritual, the Dark Dragon Queen was not at her full strength. But even weakened, a God is not someone to trifle with lightly. Nevertheless, the Heroes stood their ground, and with great sacrifice managed to drive the Dragon Queen back to the hells, saving the world from her Dark Tyranny.

Obviously, I did not go into that kind of detail (I probably went into too much detail as it is) but it helps when the material is freely available for you to draw on in case your players start to get curious about the rest of the story.

The mission to find the Elf serial killer in the dock wards, did not go at all how I had hoped it would. A combination of Faerie Fire and bad rolls on Soluun Xibrindas’ part led to the decision for him to run early on. And running in D&D is almost never a good move. Unless you drop into a contrived set of chase rules (which we will use later in the module) It’s nearly impossible for NPCs to run away from a fight. I messed up in not realizing that his Darkness spell would end the Faerie Fire until late in the chase. Then he rolled a terrible stealth trying to slip away after he finally did pop darkness. But all in all, I’m not too disappointed in the result. It sets up a fun dilemma where now that they’ve beaten someone unconscious, they have to ask themselves “How sure are we that he is actually guilty?”

I really do think that given that they shot first, it’s hard for them to be confident of his guilt and even harder to convince a magistrate of that. Obviously, the party disagrees with me! Also I do have to point out that this is pretty much how it’s supposed to play out in the module. They set up a decoy situation and wait for someone shady to show up and then fight them. The party didn’t do anything wrong according to the rules of D&D and the authors of the module. But I’m having some fun with the situation for now.

Hal’s attacks on Kyva and his terminator mode interpretation of the Hexblade subclass are character choices that probably wouldn’t fly at some other tables. I would encourage any DM starting up a game to expressly address what level of player versus player (PVP) the group is comfortable with in a session zero. Although we did not explicitly have a session zero for this game, this group has been playing together for a while and as you can see from our other games, we are comfortable with a rather extreme level of PVP. It’s not for everybody and be sure to have an out of game conversation with your players before allowing this level of PVP.

Needless to say, Hal will have some things to work through with the rest of the party in the coming sessions. But that’s just part of the fun and drama here at Black Project Gaming.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s