DM’s Notes: Episode 19 – I Told You So

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.

I think the wild and rollicking combat in this episode provided a welcome respite from the dark and foreboding role play of the past couple of episodes. Dungeons and Dragons is good like that. When you get sick and tired of complex emotions and talking things out, you can always just let loose and beat up a few flying devils.

The anti-magic zone of the tower provided a nice challenge for the party but they managed to turn the tables once they got outside. Icky, especially tanked a lot of damage which was exemplary behavior for an abjuration wizard.

Once again, you’ll notice some key changes from the way the encounter chain was supposed to play out in the book. First of all, it wasn’t gunslingers they encountered at the tower why would Jarlaxle send his people to steal the stone when he believes the party is working for him. Instead it is devils sent by the Cassalanters. They have already established their interest in the stone and could have easily obtained the information as to its whereabouts via Willifort Crowelle.

Second, Icky was smart and sent Morrigan up into the tower to inspect it. At that point, I had to give some kind of benefit for this smart thinking. The benefit I gave was that instead of the devils starting out with the stone, they would start the encounter just having climbed into the tower themselves. Thus giving the party a chance to get the stone by rolling well on initiative. So this changed the encounter chain a bit but that’s fine. At this point the party had a hard fought battle to secure the stone and are ready to move on to the next phase, finding the keys!

I made some modifications to the Stone of Golorr as well. No longer simply a lone Aboleth the Stone is a member of the Abolethic Sovereignty. The Abolethic Sovereignty were written about in a series of Forgotten Realms Novels. I haven’t read those and have instead imagined them as a connected network of alien minds that span time and space and consciousness. I wanted to make the Stone and Hal’s Warlock Patron more neutral and like the Great Old Ones rather than simply making them evil. They sit quietly in the background (much of the time) patiently pulling the strings of time and space. The music that Hal hears when he enters his fugue states (terminator mode) is an echo of the Symphony of Madness generated by the Sovereignty.

No new article appeared in the High Road Herald this episode.

DM’s Notes: Episode 18 – The Gang Gives Jarlaxle the Finger

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.

Remember, I said 2 episodes ago that jarlaxle was going to get a lot more dark? Well this is part of that. Icky said it best towards the beginning of the episode when he suggested that he didn’t really care if Jarlaxle wins. Well, I suspect that has changed.

In some ways this was a tough episode for the players. It helps that we have been playing together for a while now and trust each other in these situations. But even still it is a good idea to take a little bit of time out in a tough situation and check in with everybody to make sure that they are still having fun. It doesn’t take much. Just a short check in to make sure that you aren’t pushing things too far. This is important

Incidentally, cutting off their own fingers is not the only way that the party could have dealt with this situation. I am being completely honest when I have Jarlaxle tell them that he will return the twins once they get the stone. In fact, he’s not even going to demand the stone, just that they promise to pursue the dragon hoard for him. We’ll see how they feel about their options after they retreive the Stone of Golorr.

This new article appeared in the High Road Herald this episode, a painful reminder of their last encounter:

Brawl in the Seven Masks Theatre!!!

  Dress rehearsals for the bawdy new pirate adventure musical comedy Sapphiria’s Booty were interrupted yesterday by an outright brawl of epic proportions. Witnesses report that a brave band of compatriots engaged in a knockdown drag out fight against a dastardly drove of dashing drow. 

  “But in the end, the Drow were victorious  and quickly left the internecine interlopers behind, taking the  director Rongquan Mystere and two young extras.” Said the famed lead actress Westra Moltimmur. “Don’t forget that tickets for Sapphiria’s Booty are already on sale.”

DM’s Notes: Episode 17 – The Gang Visits the Theater: Mistakes Were Made

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.

Well, the best laid plans of mice and men and all that… It just goes to show that you can’t always plan on your party doing what is expected of them or even what is smart. Going in to the theater with no backup was a big mistake. If they had brought Meloon and Renaer and Mirt, this would have been more of an even fight, but as it was it was a bloodbath. They are lucky that Icky finally made a good roll on the City Watch response as it saved them from even more unpleasantness. As it was, that roll saved them from being interrogated by Jarlaxle at his leisure which would not have been pretty.

But this episode also illustrates several important lessons about the module specifically and DMing in general.

You don’t have to have one set path that the party has to travel. They confronted Jarlaxle, it went terribly. He never even had a chance to learn the location of Fenerus Stormcastle. That one was an easy change to keep the story on course. Having them brought in to the Courthouse for questioning was a natural next step and wouldn’t you know it, that just happens to be where Fenerus was at the time!

It’s good to have an idea of what you will do if things go horribly wrong. The Xanathar would have just killed the party outright. But in the book what happened to them (winding up unconscious and missing all of their magic items) is exactly what the book says Jarlaxle would do. He is a master manipulator. What would be the fun of killing them?

It was sad to see that Vince decided to retire Drex. I thought it was an interesting conflict within the party but obviously not something that Vince was prepared to keep playing out. He and I haven’t talked about it too much but I suspect when he made the decision to sacrifice Drex to save the party he was already rolling up a new character in his mind (if not even before that). By the time he found out that Drex wasn’t dead he’d already made up his mind. This happens. Sometimes players just wander away from a great character because they come up with another that they like better. This is one of the reasons why you should never tie the entire plot of an adventure to one character. You just never know.

This new article appeared in the High Road Herald this episode, offering a preview of events to come:

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!

DM’s Notes: Episode 16 – The Wolf Bites!

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.

Spoilers for The Walking Dead, I guess. So, I have this vision for Jarlaxle in this portion of the adventure. He’s a little bit like Neegan from The Walking Dead. He’s still a little bit charming but he gets a lot darker. The point is that if you don’t absolutely hate him by the end of the adventure, then I haven’t done my job right. He’s a rogue. He’s a loveable rogue. But he has a tendency to take things too far. That’s the path he’s started down in this episode. Taking things too far. He’s kidnapped the twins, Kip and Pip. It doesn’t matter who Kip and Pip are. They are innocents who are linked to the party. They don’t deserve this and they should be protected at all costs. Pip and Kip were abducted using a Rod of Rulership (Jarlaxle loves magic items) to charm them into playing along. They believe that they are playing important parts in the play that Jarlaxle is producing. And they won’t know that they were in danger until the danger is passed. But still this is a horrible thing to do and it is probably the point where Jarlaxle goes from somebody the party could possibly work with to somebody they must defeat at all costs.

As much as I wanted the players to like Jarlaxle earlier (something that didn’t really happen) I want them to hate him going forward. If your players really hate the Big Bad Evil Guy (BBEG) then you don’t have to create drama. They will create their own drama and rejoice when the BBEG is dead, or defeated.

It was so great to see the party work out their differences from a few sessions ago. Drex stood up for himself and his beliefs, and the party acquiesced somewhat. This is part of the role playing process and they are working through it. As a DM one of the best things you can do is put your mic on mute and just let them talk for tens of minutes at a time. That’s when you know that you are doing something special.

No new articles appeared in the High Road Herald this episode, since the last episode ended in the middle of the night.

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!

DM’s Notes: Episode 14 – Inspired Hands

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, we expected Jack (Hal) to be absent and then he showed up part way through. If there are some inconsistencies in the narrative it might be due to that. The scene with Elzerina and Terenzio Cassalanter is actually two scenes spliced together. The first time when I thought Jack wouldn’t be there and the second time with his input. I put that scene in there just to remind the party about the Cassalanter kids and how cute they are, so that later on, they will hopefully be more invested in saving them. We shall see.

I have read very negative reviews of the “Nim’s Secret” chapter of the module, so it was very gratifying indeed for me when the entire party reacted so positively to Nim and the whole experience. There is a story about a woman who took her young son to Rome. They saw the Vatican, the Parthenon, ancient works of art and architecture. When she asked her son what his favorite thing was on their trip to Rome, he went on and on about a three legged dog they had seen in a plaza. Sometimes that’s how D&D is. You hope that they will see the beauty and wonder that you create for them, but sometimes your party is just captivated by the three legged dog in the corner.

At the end of this episode the party runs into Jarlaxle in disguise as Laeral Silverhand. You may notice that I don’t do a great job of convincing them that it is really Laeral. They immediately suspect that something is up. That’s fine by me. I feel that it is more interesting for them to have their suspicions then to go half the game having no idea that something might be up. As the DM, you don’t have to prove that you are so much more clever than all of your players. You hold all of the cards. It is not hard to beat them. Instead try to give them enough clues that they can figure out your deception and when they do they will feel a sense of accomplishment in doing so.

We were supposed to play a different campaign this week and I did not expect to run this session so soon. Because of the sudden change, I didn’t have any time to write any articles for the High Road Herald.

DM’s Notes: Episode 13 – Bump in the Night

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.

If you have read the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist module, you will know that I make many small modifications and some big ones. One small modification is the addition of the Everlasting Unguent which is basically one free revivify for the party. I think they earned it with the way they went above and beyond to help Meloon, also it’s hard to be level 4. Another of the dormant artifacts they carry was Awakened this session, The Spectacular Spectacles. The stats for the Awakened Spectacular Spectacles are:


Eye for Riches

As an action the person attuned to the Spectacular Spectacles can determine how much wealth a person is carrying on them. The type of wealth detected includes precious metals and jewels but not magic items.

Eyes on the Prize

Due to your ability to see the minute workings of locks and traps you have advantage on rolls to pick locks and disarm traps.

Eye for Opportunity

The spectacles grant you the innate ability to see opportunities to weave effortlessly into the flow of battle. After initiative is rolled but before combat has begun you may choose to change your initiative such that you go immediately after one of your allies.

Ability (once per long rest)

Eyes on the Past

Once per long rest you can choose to see something from the past. You automatically succeed on a history check to know something that it is possible for you to know.

Eyes on the Future

Once per long rest you can choose to see a very short distance into the future before you decide to do something. You can see the result of a single die roll before committing to an action.

As I explained in the DM’s Notes for Episode 6. the strength level of each of the artifacts the characters have was set to be balanced to the same level of power as an Instrument of the Bard. I also added a mechanic for them to level up with the characters.

Another change I made to the module was adding the Black Viper to the encounter with Gaxley Rudderbust. Note that in my mind I imagined the characters seeing, her and chasing her into the Moonsphere where they would fly around and have a grand old time until they escaped the guards. I was inspired to add the Moonsphere to the adventure by the Broadsword’s episode of Podcasts of Waterdeep. But of sourse the party magicked the Black Viper up before she could make the leap into the dancing court. This is the life of a Dungeon Master. Never get too attached to your plans and let the dice tell the tale.

We did wind up with an interesting bit of RP with the Black Viper and especially the rather chaotic, selectively moral party versus their very Lawful Good Paladin.

One point to clear up, although I didn’t remember it at the time, there is a list of ranks for the various organizations published under section Factions in Waterdeep (p. 14 of the book). They are:

Emerald Enclave Ranks: (Springwarden, 1), (Summerstrider, 3), (Autumnreaver, 10), (Winterstalker, 25), (Master of the Wild, 50)

Harpers Ranks: (Watcher, 1), (Harpshadow, 3), (Brightcandle, 10), (Wise Owl, 25), (High Harper, 50)

Lords’ Alliance Ranks: (Cloak, 1), (Redknife, 3), (Stingblade, 10), (Warduke, 25), (Lioncrown, 50)

Order of the Gauntlet Ranks: (Chevall, 1), (Marcheon, 3), (Whitehawk, 10), (Vindicator, 25), (Righteous Hand, 50)

Platinum Cadre Ranks: (Hatchling, 1), (Whelp, 3), (Dragon, 10), (Scourge, 25), (Wyrm, 50)

Zhentarim Ranks: (Fang, 1), (Wolf, 3), (Viper, 10), (Ardragon, 25), (Dread Lord, 50)

Bregan D’aerthe Ranks: Orbb (private, 1), Kyorlinorbb (corporal, 3), Khal’abbil (sergeant, 10), Mallasargtlin (lieutenant, 25), Ilareth (captain, 50)

Force Grey Ranks: Gray Hand Initiate (1), Junior Gray Hand (3), Senior Gray Hand (10), Force Grey Initiate (25), Defender of Waterdeep (50)

Xanathar Guild Ranks: Eyestalker (1), Agent of the Eye (3), Eye Ray (10), Guild Boss (25), Hand of the Eye (50)

I decided to give the characters a little nudge from Mirt on hiring someone to run the day to day operations of the Backdoor Bar. I think that running the business is important to the story because it gives the characters real roots in the city that are hard to cultivate better in other ways. Plus, let’s face it, it’s what Mirt would do. He’s not about to see his investment go down the tubes.

The following articles appeared in the High Road Herald for this session

Gralhund Villa Bloodbath!!!

You’ve got to hand it to those plucky Gralhund’s. Last night, a pack of villains from the Black Network stormed Gralhund Villa in the stately North Ward. “They didn’t get too far though, thanks to our crack troop of mercenaries, who are all available for hire, incidentally.” Lady Yalah Gralhund crowed triumphantly. 

“No doubt they were looking to settle some scores where their mercenaries were shown up by ours. But luckily we drove them back with only minor loss of troops and nothing stolen.” 

The watch has set out on a city wide manhunt to capture any and all Zhents who might have been involved in the disastrous raid.

Black Viper Terrorizes Local Nobles

The Black Viper was a notorious burglar, pickpocket, mugger and assassin who was thought to have died nearly a century ago. However, if recent sightings by some of Waterdeep’s finest noble families are any indication, news of their death has been greatly exaggerated.

The last several tendays the highest social circles have been abuzz with rumors of missing jewelry, late night stick ups and other skullduggery committed by a black cloaked and masked figure known as The Black Viper. The rumors are too numerous and scandalous to print!

DM’s Notes: Episode 12 – Unauthorized Cargo

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.

Sometimes, things don’t go like you thought they would. I went into this session expecting it to be mostly about the party straddling the line between being gracious guests and grilling their hosts, the Gralhunds. I prepared lists of clues that different characters could drop if interviewed away from the watchful eye of Lady Gralhund (provided the character’s rolled well on their persuasion or intimidation checks.) So, I was pretty surprised to see the party bug out without really asking any questions. However, the things they could have learned from the Gralhunds ultimately only provide interesting background and exposition, they aren’t necessary to drive the plot forward at all. So while it would have been fun if they had pursued these avenues more, I’m not that worried about it.

In the second part of the episode, I am trying to give the characters a better sense of connection to the neighborhood. Thus far, their connection to the neighborhood is not going too well. Icky has made some kind of a bond with Embric and Avi, the Blacksmiths. But Dalia is not invested at all with Tali (which is fine, that was just something I threw out to see if she would bite.) So they don’t have many connections to the neighborhood. But I would like to change that. So I brought the whole neighborhood together in an act of community and of healing. Icky resisted at first, and maybe I should have been more sensitive to his needs, but eventually I forced the narrative towards community and a coming together.

I was surprised with how quickly the party jumped on the Meloon problem. I suspect that is a sign that they didn’t know what direction to go in otherwise, probably a failing on the DM’s part. But it was a nice distraction. It gave Kyva a chance to flex her skills and generally brought them to an interesting place. Azure Edge is a plus 3 Great Axe, an incredibly powerful magic weapon. It would have been silly to give him to the party at this point, but if the rolls had been high enough, silliness would have ensued. Instead we wound up with a witness to something that was more than happy to testify even to Kyva. And she was very flexible, willing to take what she could get from the legendary axe. I’m quite happy with how the situation played out.

There was no new article in The High Road Herald this session, since we ended last time before the City Watch showed up and anybody knew anything about the invasion of Gralhund Manor.

DM’s Notes: Episode 11 – In Through the Backdoor

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.

OK, now we are getting down to brass tacks. The players are grappling with how to solve the mystery of the fireball that devastated their neighborhood, leaving them with a dead gnome on their doorstep and a Nimblewright fleeing to the Gralhund estate with a sinister assassin in hot pursuit. I feel like they have already worked it out, but their investigations may reveal some new clues. And in the middle of all these careful investigations, Kyva, being Kyva is just YOLOing her way into Gralhund Villa. Thanks to the preparations made in the module, I’m happy with either approach. The story can be driven forward by careful investigation, or rushing headlong into danger.

And that is an important point about running this and any module. While the book provides a clear path through which the players can get from one point of the story to the next, that by no means is the only way they can get there. The book suggests that the players visit the House of Inspired Hands and obtain a Nimblewright Detector there. But Icky’s quick thinking and use of his familiar made it so that they don’t need to track the Nimblewright to the Gralhunds. You can be flexible with the plot. No, to state that more properly, you SHOULD be flexible with the plot. Even one step further, the plot should react to the players, not the other way around.

Will the players still make it to The temple of Gond to obtain the Nimfinder? Quite possibly so. It’s a fun location and they once again have the need to track down a Nimblewright. Or maybe they’ll find another way. We’ll see where they go next. I’m looking forward to the interrogation of the Gralhunds or more to the point, the power struggle with the Gralhunds that is coming next session. They won’t give up details easily and they have some juicy details to uncover. By the way, if some of the details about the Gralhunds doesn’t sound familiar from the book, that’s because I augmented them with details from the Forgotten Realms Wiki. This is a great resource for more details about famous people and places in Waterdeep but be careful, because a lot of the information is rather old, so make sure that people you talk about would still be alive in DR 1491. (I use 1491 in this module because when I started running it, the authors had not yet clarified the year as 1492.)

The following article appeared in The High Road Herald this session

This morning, a fireball erupted in Trollskull alley killing 11 Waterdhavians and injuring several others. The blast went off shortly before breakfast, rattling the windows of the shops and private homes of the alley. Representatives from the City Watch, the City Guard and the Griffon Calvary raced to the scene to investigate. 

Inspector Barnibus Blastwind announced “It may seem an impossible case to solve but rest assured I will  sift through the clues, eliminating the impossible until whatever remains, no matter how improbable will point me to the truth!

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.

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.

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.