DM’s Notes: Episode 10 – The Backdoor Bayoo Bash

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.

Downtime! In this episode we explored the downtime activities available in Waterdeep. Luckily for us, there is an entire section in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything on downtime. But that’s not to say that we can’t do some tweaking. The first problem I ran into was that there is no section for a bard performing during their downtime. This seems a rather major oversight, so I made a decision early on to develop a table of earning for all activities not covered by the sections in Xanathar’s guide. I like the idea of having a common table for a lot of normal activities because, well, it’s fair. It may not be realistic that a Stone Mason makes the same wage as a Porter. But in the general scheme of things it’s a lot more fair if they do. Now some downtime activities allow for significantly more reward (like thievery) but they carry with them quite a bit of risk. So this table is for relatively modest reward, modest risk jobs. Note: If you are looking for a zero risk, high reward past time, try Pit Fighting (page 131).

The second problem I ran into is that the most likely thing to use as an earnings table (Work on page 134) is pretty unsatisfying. If you engage the tenday in work, you pay your living expenses for the time period. The better you roll, the better your quality of living. That’s it. You still have the risk of complications but really no reward. In terms of game play, I don’t see why players would ever choose to work. Why not just declare that you are going to live in squalor (ie basically like a college student) for a tenday and pay 1 gp for your living expenses. Of course we can always count on the players to engage in downtime activities solely for role playing reasons. But it’s a poorly designed game that requires players to make poor game choices simply for the sake of role play.

Plus, there’s the question of how much your living expenses should be when you have your own house to live in and are preparing your own meals, etc. So, I modified the table such that it gives a reasonable amount of money for the characters efforts and we can just hand wave the character’s living expenses. The table on page 134 of Xanathar’s guide shows the following.

RollResult
0-9Poor Lifestyle
10-14Modest Lifestyle
15-20Comfortable Lifestyle
21+Comfortable Lifestyle + 25 gp

In the Players Handbook on page 157 Poor Lifestyle is 2 sp per day, Modest is 1 gp per day and comfortable is 2 gp per day. So that’s 2 gp, 10 gp and 20 gp per tenday. I modified that slightly to arrive at the table below.

RollResult
0-95 gd/tenday
10-1410 gd/tenday
15-2025 gd/tenday
21+50 gd/tenday

The players roll the relevant ability, tool or proficiency check and consult the chart to determine their result. By comparison, a pit fighter gets 50 gd per tenday for succeeding on 1 out of 3 checks and 200 gd for all 3. So, this is still a pretty middle of the road amount of money to award adventurers.

I swear, I am not trying to make Tali into a stalker! But it’s kind of funny that Sonia thinks that I am. Jack, who DM’s the Umbra Collective for the group has scarred us all. We have learned that anything that looks good for our characters will be twisted and used against us. It’s what makes that game so wickedly fun. When I make NPCs (or in this case, just prepare them from the description in the module), I try to fill out a little sketch bio for each one. This bio includes the following traits: Accent, Wants, Needs, Fears. In Tali’s case, I decided that he wants a girlfriend to share his life with. So, when Dalia came along, naturally he has shown an interest. BTW, Tali is also afraid of ghosts, something I’ve tried to be subtle about but you will hear it coming through at times.

I changed the plot of Chapter 3 somewhat based on ideas from many posters on Reddit as well as the Alexandrian Remix. Urstul Floxin is no longer working with the Gralhunds or living in their house. The Nimblewright was sent by the Gralhunds to trail Dalakhar and Floxin was also tailing the gnome. The Nimblewright grabbed the stone and took it back to Gralhund Villa. I think that the Red Herring of the Nimblewright attacking his ally and Floxin staying at the Gralhunds but then fighting them later just complicates the story needlessly. Although Icky has done an excellent job of investigating the situation up until now, so perhaps I could have left it more complicated.

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