DM’s Notes: Episode 15 – Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

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.

Jarlaxle is a very deceptive person and he rolled pretty good during his encounter with the party. But then he didn’t. One nat 1 for a total of 15 was all it took. But really I’m not disappointed at all. The party matched wits with the mighty JB and came out of it relatively OK. We’ll see where it goes from here. I did drop hints pretty hard, which is why it was so funny to me that when he was finally revealed several of the players seemed genuinely surprised and wondered how Icky had figured it out. It just goes to show, even when you think you are being super obvious, you probably aren’t being obvious enough. Mysteries are hard to unravel and require multiple clues.

The Alexandrian has some guidance on this in this article and probably many others. This is why you can’t go into an investigation scenario with a simple script and just read from it. You have to react to the players’ questions to help guide them to the clues that you want them to find. In addition to the Laeral Silverhand deception, the players also needed to investigate a mystery here to find out what happened in Fenerus Stormcastle’s house. When they walked in and saw the Drow poison on the door and the Xanathar’s Guild symbol they immediately jumped to the conclusion that the Drow had done the whole thing and were trying to frame the Xanathar’s Guild. So they needed more clues and I threw in the marks of the Duergar weapons to drive home the idea that the Xanathar’s Guild really had been there.

Following the exposure of Jarlaxle the party seems to not want to have anything to do with him. Here is where the adventure takes a fork in the road. If the party really does reject Jarlaxle’s advances then they are going to have to get critical information from The Blackstaff or Mirt or another trusted ally and they will wind up facing off against the Bregan D’aerthe at the Old Tower (assuming they find the Stone of Golorr). If they work with Jarlaxle or at least pretend to, then they will face off against spined devils from the Cassalanters at the Old Tower.

I just threw in the bit With Martem Trec’s mother blackmailing them, because they did tamper with evidence and I’m a firm believer that actions should have consequences. It may not come across in the recording because everybody sounds so calm cool and collected while speaking to her, but Dalia was freaking out in Discord chat over the fact that tampering with evidence is a crime and they were in trouble! So, I feel like Mrs. Trec did her job. Seeing the players squirm every now and then warms my cold, cold DM heart.

In the category of, I wish I had prepared that before the episode started, I totally did not know that Thorvin Twinbeard was so weak. He’s the shield dwarf that Hal one shotted at the start of combat. Despite being a named character, a high ranking member of the Xanathar’s Guild and a Harper spy, poor old Thorvin is just a commoner. I should have had him run sooner (even though that doesn’t really make a lot of sense because the party did effectively sneak up on them). I had the kobolds shuffle him off quickly just in case I do want to bring him back. We’ll see if they chase after the Kobolds next time or let them go but in either case, the Harpers may need a new spy within the Xanathar’s Guild.

The following articles appeared in the High Road Herald this episode.

Last Sheaf Party!

Announcing what is destined to be the social event of the season, the Cassalanters today divulged details of a Last Sheaf party they will be hosting on Uktar 20th. Invitations to the party are in scant supply as it is rumoured that the list is molto esclusivo.

However, in a gesture of utmost generosity, the Cassalanters have announced that they will be sharing the year’s bounty by hosting 100 of Waterdeep’s most needy urchins and homeless. Bravissimo, Cassalanters. Noblesse oblige, Indeed!

This of course is setting up the Cassalanters’ final party from the Summer timeline, the party where they sacrifice 100 poor people to Asmodeus. One of the keys will be located in the Cassalanters’ Villa so the party will have an opportunity to circle back to them.

Black Viper Ransacks Local Broadsheet

In a sign that The High Road Herald, is obviously getting a little bit too close for comfort, the Black Viper was caught last night in flagrante delicto ransacking the offices of said establishment.

The crime occurred during the fabulous Moonsphere which once again came off without a hitch.

Only a single journal containing the notes of the chief reporter were pilfered, thanks to the quick actions of The Backdoor Bandits of Trollskull Alley. But the question remains: What are you up to Black Viper? Enquiring minds demand to know!

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