Dragon Heist – Session #4

Morgran, Xana and Sev just came back from the sewers and rescued Floon who had been kidnapped by the Xanathar’s guild. Meeting Volo again at the Yawning Portal, the adventurers receive as a reward a deed to a remarkable property in Watderdeep: Trollskull Manor, a former tavern located in Troskull Alley, in the North ward.


 

Morgran Foamtankard, new owner of Trollskull Manor

Following Volo’s advice, and after a deserved good night sleep, the group headed up to a courthouse in Castle ward to meet with a tiefling magistrate called Kylynne Silmerhelve. The magistrate officialised the transfer of ownership from Volo to Morgran Foamtankard, who paid a 25gp fee for the estate transfer tax. Although magistrate Kylynne was in a hurry, everyone had a ton of questions regarding the new property and its mysterious occupant, Lif the specter. Magistrate Kylynne provided the party with the plans of Trollskull manor.

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The plans of Trollskull Manor, provided by magistrate Kylynne Silmerhelve.

First visit to Trollskull Alley

Later that morning the group made their way to Trollskull Alley. The had a first look at Morgran’s new property. From the outside, it didn’t look so appealing at first glance.

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Troskull Manor. Doesn’t it look lovely?

Players had many ideas about what to do with this newly acquired manor. A low-cost AirBnB, offering every possible room for renting? Fixing and reopening the old tavern? Who knows! It seems like they are tending towards the second option.

Everybody decided that it would be better to first ask the neighbours about any knowledge regarding the former tavern and its ghostly owner.

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Overview of Trollskull Alley. (1: Trollskull Manor) (2: The Bent Nail) (3: Steam and Steel) (4: Corellon’s Crown) (5: Tiger’s Eye) (6: Book Wyrm’s Treasure) (7: Sewer access)

Meeting the neighbours

Morgran and Sev started by visiting Embric (male fire genasi) and Avi (male water genasi) at the Steam and Steel forge. Embric was apparently emotionally troubled. According to the couple, Tally the woodcarver from The Bent Nail store across the street showed some signs of disapproval regarding their lovely gay couple. Embric and Avi had invited Tally to discuss a business partnership, but Tally left before the end of the diner, just when Embric was bringing his favourite chocolate cake to the table. Embric is convinced that Tally is intolerant and couldn’t bear the feeling of intimacy between him and Avi. Despite those stories, Morgran and Sev still learnt a little bit about Liz the spectre, who appeared to have just died in a natural way after many years running the tavern.

Meanwhile Xana entered Correllon’s Crown, a store with a greenhouse with glass walls at the third floor. There she met Fala Lefaliir (undefined-gender wood elf), the herbalist. After a discussion that could be interpreted as “flirting”, Xana managed to show Fala that she was passionate about herbalism, flowers and the art of crafting potions. Fala suggested that Xana could help on gathering special ingredients in the future. Who knows how this symbiotic relationship may evolve? Fala also mentionned that Vincent, the private detective, might know more about the spectre.

After gathering outside, the group split up one more time to continue interrogating the neighbours.

Sev entered Book Wyrm’s Treasure (thanks for explaining the pun to me), a book-store with walls filled up with bookshelves bigger than what the place would like from the outside.  The place is managed by Rishaal the Page-Turner (short male dragonborn of gold dragon ancestry). Rishaal was very surprised by Sev’s abilities. Indeed, Sev displayed some non-trivial magic skills (creating the illusion of a book). But even more impressive, he managed to catch what Rishaal was saying while speaking to himself in draconic. They continued the conversation in Draconic (decided the Japanese of the Forgotten Realms) and Rishaal offered to help out Sev on his quest to improve his magic skills.

Lastly, Morgran and Xana tried to enter a smaller, fairly unremarkable house from the outside. Only a orange-and-black sign featuring a cat’s eyes was indicating that the place could be of any interest. After knocking on the door, waiting for three minutes, ringing the bell and waiting two more minutes, Vincent Trench (male human, dressed in a sharp suit and smoking a slim pipe). Visibly, Vincent already knew quite a lot about the party, its recent expedition in the sewer as well as Morgran’s new property. Xana tried to bribe him into offering them exclusive business relationship regarding Vincent’s abilities to discover secrets, but the arguments weren’t convincing enough for the experienced businessman. Still, Vincent told them (for free) about what he knew about Lif the spectre, his former life as a tavern owner, and about how the best way to deal with him could maybe be to simply try and help the ghost fulfilling its will.

First (cat) look inside the manor

With all this knowledge, the group decided that it was time to check out the manor. But not yet still! Xana turned into a cat (first time shape-changing!) and climbed up the manor, looking by the windows to have a glimpse inside. All she could see were dust, broken pieces of furnitures and tankards on the ground of the first floor. The other floors were empty, with no furnitures.

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The inside of Trollskull Manor.

Coming down from the manor, Xana spot on the side of the alley the same black cat that she saw the day before while entering the sewers. The cat was explicitly looking in her direction and managed to find a little intimacy on the roof, after Sev managed to catch and release it (OMG a speaking cat!). The cat delivered a message to Xana in close-to-perfect common. “Interested in joining the Emerald Enclave? Come meet us at Phaulkonmere in the Southern Ward”.

Befriending Lif the spectre

Finally the group entered the manor. Their first idea was to start cleaning the place, sorting broken furnitures, getting the dust off the tables. This was enough to befriend Lif the spectre, who ended up not being so dreadful after all! Lif draw a smiley face on the window to show how happy he was to see people helping him cleaning up the mess in the former tavern 🙂

Volo turned up in the late morning to say hello. The group asked him to help evaluating the costs to renovate this place. The costs were evaluated at about 1000gp to fix everything, plus some one-time fees for guild licences and contracts (beware of the Fellowship of Innkeeper!). He suggested that they could visit Mirt the moneylender (a noble from the North ward who sometimes acts as business angel) or Istrid Horn (a shady figure from the Southern ward).

Xana also asked Volo if he knew anything about the Emerald Enclave. Volo never heard about it, but he talked about The Harpers (a group of people devoted to maintain balance between nature and civilisation). “You might actually know some of their members already, in the person of Renaer!”.

During the next five days, Xana, Sev and Morgran worked hard to get the place in better shape. Sev, who now sneaks out on a daily basis to turn into a house cleaner, was in a monumental shape. He worked all day long to clean every part of the first floor (reducing overall the renovations cost for 50gp!). Xana the cat tracked down some mice and removed all the poop that was fermenting in the cracks of the walls (-25gp!). Lastly, Morgran used his skill with Mason’s tools to fix the stone structure of the manor, making it better isolated. He also managed to fix some old barrels (-25gp as well!).

Night call

During the night of the third day, Morgran was sleeping in his apartment in Castle ward when he received the visit of a strange creature which flew through the window.

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A strange flying creature…

The creature was a flying snake and was apparently here to deliver a parchment. Morgran woke up and picked up the message, as the flying creature flew back in the dark streets… Morgran read:

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Dragon Heist – Session #3

The group had just defeated the duergar and interrogated Krentz the bandit. After a short rest, it was now time to continue investigating the hidehout to rescue Floon.

NOTE: This session involves some nonexistent strategic planning and some ridiculously risky and desperate combat moves. If you like stories of adventurers outsmarting their foes in a creative and coordinated way, you should stop reading right now. On the other hand, if you like to see how players can mess up a boss fight and try their best not to die at level 1, you’re welcome to continue reading.


DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR ON THE LEFT!

The group had two options. They learnt that the left door had been worked on to prevent something weird and potentially dangerous from leaking out. They had also learnt that someone looking like Floon had been taken further away in the hideout via the right door. What should they do? The answer was simple: look at both options at the same time.

Sev went investigating beyond the right door. It opened on a corridor about 35 feet long, leading to a staircase going up. Xana was following with the usual safety distance. Meanwhile Morgran was very curious and opened the left door and…

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Hello! It’s me, the creepy gray ooze from behing the door coming to kill you!

Morgran decided to step back and retreat just behind the other door, waiting for this viscous creature. He got in position to smash the thing do death as soon as it would make it to the door. He waited 18 longs seconds (the monster has a speed of 10 feet…).

How NOT to engage a boss fight

During those 18 seconds, Sev went up the stairs. It led to a bigger room with many worth-noticing elements. Fortunately (or not), Sev had a good look. On the floor further away was a body lying on the ground looking like Floon. Next to him stood an Orc, facing a platform at the end of the room. On this platform sat a nightmarish creature wearing black robes. It had large white eyes and rubbery purple skin, with four tentacles encircling its inhuman mouth… and it was caressing its brain-cat.

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I was not expecting any guest…

Sev had a good look indeed, but so did the monster. The creature pointed at Sev and the orc turned around. At that same moment, the gray ooze was showing up through the doorframe. Assaulted from both sides, and without Renaer’s help, the future of the party was slightly compromised.

Ooze meets fire

The creature (all right, the mindflayer…) dropped its brain-cat to the floor and started running towards a side escape. Xana was the quickest to react. She entered the room and immediately turned left on a room which happened to be empty with no issue. The orc was running towards her. Sev got his shit together and decided to drop back towards Morgran to help defeating the slimy creature.

At this moment, the orc appeared in front of Xana. Seeing Sev running down the stairs, the orc took a pause, before deciding to to hunt down the young rogue. At this point Morgran had engaged the ooze. This mean that both Sev and Morgran were now trapped between the ooze and the orc. Seeing all this mess, the orc decided to fire…

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The party’s position when the orc decided to go with burning hands…

In one moment, the corridor’s temperature went up tremendously. The nimble Sev managed to duck out of the way and avoided most of the fire damage. Morgran, still engaged with the ooze were not so lucky… he got knocked unconscious. Fortunately, the ooze standing behind him was reduced to ashes by the same token!

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Inspiring artwork of Sev dodging the fire. Keep them coming Ray!

Meanwhile, Xana was face to face with the brain-cat (a.k.a Intellect Devourer). She estimated her chances in a one-to-one combat against the creature and soon decided to rush back towards the rest of the (barbecued) party.

One more time, Sev had to save the day. Standing between Morgran’s body and the orc, the young Sev listened to his instinct and tried the dagger-in-the-chin uppercut one more time, adding a special “aria vs white-king” effect. Sev rolled his attack and … the dagger gloriously connected with the orc exposed head, killing him in one neat blow.

Xana (almost) loses her mind

The fight was far from being over. Sev ran towards Morgran and managed to find the one health potion that Morgran was keeping in his backpack. As Morgran was coming back to life, Xana appeared down the stairs. The creature behind her knocked her unconscious and made an attempts at infiltrating her mind…

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The brain-cat in all its ugliness.

At this moment Xana had to roll an intelligence contest versus the intellect devourer. On a fail, she would… pretty much have to re-roll a new character. Xana went ahead and rolled a 6 (-1). Silence. The intellect devourer rolled a 2. Xana was still alive.

The intellect devourer was coming for a second attempt at Xana’s life. Morgran, freshly revived, charged and took out a big chunk of the brain. Together with Sev, they managed to kill the creature. Silence in the room again. By some miracle, the group was out of danger!

Volo’s reward

The party found out an exhausted Floon (standing with 1HP). Without darkvision, Floon had only one idea in mind: get out of here as soon as possible. Sev started to proceed at looting the place, but Morgran, in an attempt to calm down Floon, messed up (NAT 1!) and turned him into complete panic mode. So everybody started to go back from where they came. Honourable mention for this last goblin guard who managed to dodge three attacks before being reduced to pieces by the tired adventurers. You fought well.

Back to the Yawning Portal, Volo met the party with great pleasure. He confessed that he was running a bit short on money. Instead of paying the adventurers with the promised 100gp each, he offered another kind of reward… the deed of property for a historical manor in Trollskull Alley!

Dragon Heist – Session #2

Renaer was rescued from the Zhentarim kidnapping, but another group has taken Floon away, most likely mistaking Floon for Renaer.  Time to track down Floon in the sewers of Waterdeep.


Renaer the DMPC offers his unwanted help

Renaer Neveremember offered his help to assist the party in the sewers to find out what had happened to Floon. The party told him that he should rather take it easy, stay home and let the real heroes do the job. “You can’t even see in the dark and it would be too easy to spot us if we go down their with a lantern.” And most importantly, “we don’t like DMPCs”, said Xana out of game.

Sneaking into the sewers

Still in the Dock ward, the group went to a side alley and found a circular metal cover leading to the sewers. They took extreme precautions to be sure nobody would see them entering the sewers (why? I don’t know, but it seemed important!). Xana turned a rat into a scout for an exploration mission. The rat understood the first bit of the mission (go down) but unfortunately it never came back. Sev did his special illusionary box trick one more time to cover the entry while everybody went down.

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Exploring the sewers of Waterdeep…

A mysterious tavern basement

Soon enough they noticed yellow signs at the intersections, signs that were to lead them to the Xanathar hideout, and hopefully to Floon. After about an hour wandering around the sewers, the group spotted a ladder going up, leading to the basement of a tavern. Sev carefully entered the room, rolled a 1 on his stealth check and spilled a full barrel of ale on the ground. The noise alerted the staff members which started to rush downstairs. Sev retreated and sent Morgran to take the mission over. Morgran went up and started climbing the stairs leading to the first floor of the tavern, before rolling another 1! He fell down on his butt and was almost caught by guards rushing in the basement.

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This guy tried his best to scare off the group, unsuccessfully.

Everything was under control until it wasn’t

Following more yellow signs, the group found out a not-so-secret-and-not-even-locked entrance. They obliterated the goblin guard in his sleep. This poor goblin (RIP) was asleep, facing 3 foe and deprived of any weapon, as Sev carefully disposed of the scimitar. Sev continued to lead the way room after room, working in close cooperation with Xana. “Go, count to 15, come back and report!”. Rather efficient until Sev rolled a 1 (again?!) while trying to open a door… and now things got wild.

A shadowy dwarf rushed to the door entrance and charged with his war pick. In the blink of an eye, he became MASSIVELY HUGE! He swung his weapon at Morgran (level 1, 9 HP) and… CRITICAL HIT for 2d8+2 damage on the poor dwarf (behind the screen I rolled an 8 on the first damage roll and Morgran was 2HP away from being insta-killed). Meanwhile Renaer is still home watching Netflix…

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That’s a CRIT, bitches!

Time for Sev to make a choice

At this point, Morgran was down, the duergar was badly injured and Sev was faced with a critical decision:

  • Option #1: Disengage, run for his life and abandon Morgran to a sad fate (and lose a friend out of game, but that’s OK).
  • Option #2: Attack and try to kill the big bad dwarf. On a hit, you save the day. On a fail, you’re going to be butchered a few seconds later.

After a pause to the bathroom, Sev went for it and managed to uppercut-style plant his dagger into the duergar’s head, right down the chin. Clean, efficient, HEROIC!

Xana’s interrogation

Behind the duergar was a human bandit going by the name of Krentz. This guy decided to surrender after seeing what Sev did to his big friend. Xana led an interrogation and Krentz told them a few interesting things. First, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR ON THE LEFT! Something dangerous is hiding behind it (remember that). Second, someone matching the description of Floon has been seen with an Orc and taken further away within the hideout. Krentz then managed to miraculously retreat and escape after begging for his life.

Morgran’s revenge

Two hours later, Morgran woke up from his trauma and took his revenge by drawing a fairly well designed (rolled a 14 on a DEX (medicine) check) penis on the duergar’s forehead (because why not). Everybody took a well-deserved short rest.

Dragon Heist – Session #1

This series of posts will summarise the D&D campaign that I started running in Stockholm. This campaign is based on the published adventure Waterdeep: Dragon Heist (spoilers)!


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Cover of the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist book

Meet the party!

  • Uthemar Aelar Margaster (a.k.a Sev) / Male High Elf / Rogue (70 years old).
  • Xanaphia Dara Sylvaranth / Female Wood Elf / Druid (303 years old).
  • Morgran Foamtankard / Male Hill Dwarf / Monk (120 years old).

Uthemar is a teenager from the Margasters, a noble family from Waterdeep. His family house is located in the North Ward. Uthemar has seven siblings, but he doesn’t get along very well with them. Over the time, he has grown tired of all those family ceremonies and dinners with other noble families (to the disappointment of his father). Fortunately, he found a way to escape his daily routine: Sev often sneaks out of his bedroom via the window and adventures in the streets. For this purpose, he has created a second identity and usually introduces himself as Sev.

 Xanaphia  is the youngest of a family of four wood-elves. She works for the Margaster family as Guardian of the garden. She took residence in a tree and literally lives in the family garden. From this position, it didn’t took her long to notice the sneaky expeditions of the young Uthemar. Although she chose not to denounce him to his parents, she feels responsible to keep an eye on him and sometimes accompany him out in the streets of Waterdeep.

Morgran is a former war veteran. When his life as an accomplished soldier started to feel a little too dull, he decided to find shelter in a monastery to try another path in life. The teachings of the monastery are a little unclear to him. However, he did become a little bit stronger in martial arts (and much stronger at drinking beer!). This new learnings (especially the drinking part) make members of his clan (Foamtankard) proud of him.

Yet another day at the Yawning Portal

Once again Uthemar decided to sneak out of the family domain. This time he had to play sick to avoid another boring brunch invitation with the whole family. While moving through the corridors, Uthemar heard from a servant that somebody had brought an uncommon creature in the city (an elephant). The beast was now parked in the street near the Yawning Portal, an iconing tavern in the Dock ward featuring a massive well in the center of the main room. Xana saw Uthemar once again climbing down by the window. She took him through to a secret passage she maintains hidden between bushes. The two of them made their way to the Yawning Portal.

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The Yawning Portal

Arriving at the Yawning Portal, the elephant was drawing a lot of attention. Xana went closer and successfully appeased it. Meanwhile Sev entered the tavern and started catching up with her friend Yagra (female half-orc). As Sev went out to find Xana, the group saw five individuals in black outfits entering the tavern. A few seconds later, a fight broke. Yagra was being beaten down by the newcomers. Sev decided that this was the perfect opportunity to search the pockets of people in the audience…

The brawl was interrupted by a growling sound coming out from the central well. People started screaming and running out of the place, as a TROLL came out of the well! The bartender Durnan took out a massive sword from behind the counter and charged the monster. Xana and Sev joined the fight. A group of stirges attacked the group and went back sucking the troll’s blood after having tasted a bit of Sev. The troll was managed without too much trouble.

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Volothamp Geddarm

Xana and Sev’s performance in the fight brought the attention of Volothamp Geddarm (male halfling), who introduced himself as a successful author and researcher. Volo went to find Sev and said that he was looking for help. His friend Floon had been missing since last night. The last time he was sawn was at another tavern called the Skewered Dragon. Volo promised 100 dragons (gold pieces in Waterdeep) as a reward to each adventurer who would take part in this quest. Sev accepted the quest without even telling Xana about it. He also invited his friend Morgran to join the party.

Looking for Floon at the Skewered Dragon

The group decided to investigate at the Skewered Dragon. On their way there, they passed a street that was blocked by members of the City Watch. It appeared that a fight had occurred between  members of two factions. Xana questioned the guards but they would not give any more information. “Get out of the way”! Sev entered a shop nearby (the Xoblob Shop). The only thing he found was a weird gnome trying to sell him some random purple trinkets for an outrageously expensive price. Morgran asked a passerby and learnt that a conflict had been escalating recently between the Black Network and another group.

At the Skewered Dragon, the group learnt from the bartender and some patrons that Floon stayed later that night, after Volo had left. He was accompanied by Lord Renaer Neverember (the son of the previous Open Lord of Waterdeep, Lord Degault Neverember). When the two of them went out, a group of individuals (probably from the Black Network) followed them. Nobody knew what happened after this. However the bartender told the group that these individuals were often seen hanging around a warehouse in Candle Line, a shady alley in the Dock ward. “Look for the symbol of a snake on the door”, he said.

How not to sneak into the warehouse…

The warehouse had to be explored. But how to make sure that nobody would be suspicious when a random group would approach it in this silent alley? The group decided to play drunkards and approach the place while making as much noise as possible. In Candle Lane, the warehouse was easy to spot. It was surrounded by a fence. Xana had a closer look at the portal which opened instantaneously as soon as she put some weight on it. Although the windows had been darkened with some black paint, Xana noticed some movement behind the window (nat 20!) and under the door slit. Sev went to the main door to try and pick up the lock. At the same time Morgran approached the window and used his quarterstaff to try and quietly break it open and… (nat 1!) Morgran misjudged his strength and shattered the window, his weapon falling into the warehouse. He immediately jumped in to get his weapon back and was ambushed by a bird-like creature. Kenkus!

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Fighting the kenkus

The kenkus were (not surprisingly!) expecting some visit. The group quickly defeated the first one but three others hidden behind boxes started firing at them with their shortbows. Sev created the illusion of a box and hid within it to avoid the next volley of arrows. Unfortunately the kenkus saw him casting the spell and got lucky enough to hit Sev while shooting blindly at the fake wooden container. Sev felt unconscious. The fight was tight and the situation was definitely not under control. Fortunately Morgran turned into a killing machine and got rid of another kenku, before throwing a dart right into the butt of a third one who started shooting arrows further down the warehouse. Xana used her magic to bring Sev back on his feet. Meanwhile the two remaining kenkus were trying to escape via the main door. One ran away in the streets of Waterdeep, but the party managed to knock out the other one.

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Kenku with shortsword and shortbow.

After the fight

The adventurers decided to bring the unconscious kenku back into the warehouse to avoid attracting too much attention. Morgran investigated the second floor and found a note written in an unknown language. The note was written on an orange paper and folded into the shape of a bird. Morgran also took four rapiers with him.

Sev checked a storage closet and found… Lord Renaer Neverember! Renaer was hiding there. He thanked the group for saving his life and shared that he was feeling guilty. According to him, the Zhentarim (also known as the Black Network) had mistaken Floon for him.

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Lord Renaer Neverember, son of the former Open Lord of Waterdeep (Lord Degault Neverember).

As the group was packing the kenku into a bag to bring it out with them, Captain Staget burst into the warehouse, accompanied by a dozen members of the City Watch. The captain questioned the group. They tried to lie about the content of the bag but the Captain could feel that there was something fishy. The kenku was discovered. Captain Staget advised to leave the scene. For this time, the adventurers would not get into troubles (he still gave them a copy of the Code Legal and warned them about future misbehaviours).

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Members of the City Watch

Just as the party was leaving, the kenku started convulsing and started repeating: “The Xanathar sends its regards! Tie up the pretty boy in the back room! Follow the yellow signs in the sewers. No time to loot the place. Just get him to the boss!”

Morgran, Xana, Sev and Renaer made their way to another tavern. On their way, Morgran sold the rapiers to a merchant (for what he believes was a good price!) and used the dragons to buy a healing potion from another store (he tried to seduce the human shop owner and failed big time).

Once at the inn, Renaer explained: “The Zhentarim think that my father had embezzled a large amount of gold while he was Open Lord of Waterdeep, and that he had hid the dragons somewhere in the city. They think that they can find it by using an artefact called the Stone of Golorr, which was in the hands of the Xanathar Guild until recently. But apparently, someone stole it.” When asked if there was any reward for saving his life, Renaer answered that he would be ready to help in the quest of finding Floon.

 

 

 

The game is set

Last night at 3AM I woke up and felt the need to write this. It was a really strange feeling. I went out of the AirBnB where me and my family were spending the night, took a pen and my notebook and wrote this in one piece. Is this something that might me close to poetry in prose? I don’t know. But when I went back to bed I felt good and immediately felt asleep. It was a funny experience and I wanted to keep a track of it.


The game is set, the pieces are aligned, forever staring at the other side. Immobile, they wait for a human touch to lead their steps in a mystical dance.

Players shake hands and the world is suspended, for when their skin touch a contract is signed. They forfeit names and roles for a superior cause. And for the next hours, Black and White will oppose.

Beginners and masters play by the same rules. One move and another compose a mutual groove. Time passes and when the game unfolds, a masterpiece has been written in stones.

Make a step and you never come back. The pawns are launched, looking forward in an ultimate quest to one day become Queens, or open direct lines to the enemy King.

A contract ties two minds for the time of a game. In the space of a board a comedy is played. Who knows how long it takes to design a winner, when plans are confronted with only Truth to judge.