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D&D 5E Higher Level Dragon Heist

Yenrak

Explorer
I'm DMing a group of 6th and 7th level characters through Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. Anyone have any suggestions, ideas, or pointers to resources for this? Has anyone else tried to convert this into a mid-tier adventure?
 

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Yenrak

Explorer
Some background, just because I think it might be interesting.

We've been running Storm King's Thunder with lots of homebrew and add-ons. My group began in Luskan as caravan guards on the way to Icewind Dale. I relocated Nightstone to the river you cross on the way north. Skipped the Tower of Zephryos. Tough and long journey to Bryn Shander through the mountains that included the Goldenfields attack re-imagined as an attack on the food stores of Hundlestone, which I have built as a stronghold of devout dwarves ruled by clerics of Moradin.

After various adventures in Icewind Dale, including the Forgotten Traditions and some other AL adventures set in a different northern snowy place, the party came into ownership of a huge fortune worth of scrimshaw (it had belonged to the merchant whose caravan they guarded who was eventually murdered and impersonated by an evil Luskan wizard). As well, they came to realize that the giants were looking for the Ring of Winter and so set out for Waterdeep.

They fought their way down to Luskan and travelled by ship to Waterdeep, where they could sell the scrimshaw and investigate Artus Cimber and the ring. I decided that this wouldn't be a red-herring in my campaign. Instead, they would be able to discover that Artus Cimber and the ring were likely in Chult and head down there.

I was planning on having them swiftly move on from Waterdeep and head to Chult, liberating material for that from Tomb of Annihilation. My players had different ideas. They spent a lot of time exploring Waterdeep, getting into trouble, buying things, and selling their Icewind Dale merchandise. Then they briefly dived into the well at the Yawning Portal.

In the Undermountain, one of the party--who had become an agent of the Zhentarim along with another party member, way back in Hundlestone--had his mind devoured by an intellect devourer. So now he secretly a double agent for the Xanathar Guild.

I decided that the two Zhentarim players would be sent to kidnap Raener Neverember, but with the description so vague that they couldn't tell the difference between he and his friend. So they wound up kidnapping both. The double agent informed the Xanathar Guild of these events.

When approached by Volo to rescue his friend, one of the Zhents immediately rushed off to get him from captivity (after all, he wasn't the objective and there was a reward). The other--the double agent--stayed back with the rest of the party at the Yawning Portal. The solo Zhent got to the warehouse, discovered the massacre, rescued Raener and followed the trail to the sewers. Injured and a bit worried, she returned to the Yawning Portal to get her friends.

But then the double agent attacked her when she made it clear she understood they were going to raid a Xanathar hideout. He took her down and executed her before the party eliminated him.

Anyway, that's where we are now. I'm trying to think about how to up the challenge level so that the party cannot breeze through the adventure.
 


Yenrak

Explorer
Just read up on it. Sounds perfect for what I'm doing. In fact, I'm kind of already on the same track since I started with the PCs kidnapping Floon and Raener.

I was a bit worried about the encounter buffing in today's game. Four first level player characters against 4 Kenku is a pretty tough encounter. The adventure kind of implies that the PCs will likey have to be rescued by the City Watch.

But my party had 6 7th level PCs (although one was a Xanathar double agent). By my math, that's like 68 Kenkus. That might sound fun. You walk into the warehouse and the place is covered in kenku. But it doesn't really make sense in terms of the story.

I lucked out because the non-double agent Zhent went to the warehouse alone. So a dozen Kenku would do. But it never even came to that because the rogue disengaged and dashed away when she was attacked by four Kenku.
 

Parmandur

Legend
Some fair bit of Dragon Heist is meant to outclass the PCs to encourage creative solutions. But, if the threats are more level appropriate, good old fashioned solutions can be fun, too.
 


Benjamin Olson

Adventurer
We should note that at like level 2 as written the characters can encounter a mindflayer who just sort of leaves his minions to deal with it rather than bother with fighting. I think there's an obvious tweak to make that a harder fight.

As for the kenku, I don't remember there being any particular reason for it to be kenku other than to have something oddball and interesting of appropriate level. Any intelligent humanoid should do the trick.

If I was going to keep them as kenku I would stat them out with player levels as an all kenku band of 6th and 7th level adventurers. You know it's balanced then.
 


I'm DMing a group of 6th and 7th level characters through Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. Anyone have any suggestions, ideas, or pointers to resources for this? Has anyone else tried to convert this into a mid-tier adventure?

Upgun listed DCs by +2, and increase encounter CR's by adding extra monsters (small hordes of mooks, an extra heavy etc) or upgraded versions of base monsters and NPCs.

You could easily do it on the fly.

In fact 5E is the easiest edition ever to adjust in this way. Ive literally run Pathfinder, 3E and AD&D modules for 5E games, converting on the fly mid session with next to zero prep.
 


jayoungr

Legend
Supporter
The Alexandrian has a wonderful remix of WDH.
Here's a link to the masterpost, for anyone whose Google-fu may have failed:

 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Adding class levels is always an interesting way to power up prewritten stuff. It should work really well for DH since there are so many intelligent humanoid foes compared to some other APs. It might be a lot of work to do too much of that, but it'll be useful in spots.
 

My party was level 4-6 as I ran them through. First, the Alexandrian Remix is close to a necessity, IMO.

I had to make few changes for level. I did add a lot of additional encounters and quests for them, and some of the early faction quests we did very quickly since they weren't very challenging as written. A few of the middle encounters I added a few NPCs to them or just maximized their hit points. I also played the NPCs more aggressively once combat started. For example, once they entered Manshoon's Sanctum, everyone except Manshoon in the Sanctum responded to the alarm and attacked the party in the foyer. In short, once they broke into combat, everyone responded to shouted alarms, wherever they were.
 

One thing to keep in mind is that the primary challenge of the module is not necessarily combat difficulty. One could run the module without a single change and just let them breeze through a few of the early fights. What they will have to deal with is the aftermath of the laws of waterdeep. The city watch doesn't care that "you thought they were stronger than that!" They care that you dropped a fireball in a crowded city street filled with commoners to kill a handful of CR 1/2 thugs. Part of the challenge and fun of the module is learning when NOT to unsheathe their weapons. And as stated, the bosses as stated will be more than enough for a party in the level 6-9 range.

The only one you might have to buff a bit is Amalia Cassalanter, which could just be given a bit more hit points, or would have severe legal repercussions for the party beating easily that would linger far after her death anyway. One does not just kill a noble so easily, especially one whose public facade might as well be Thomas and Martha Wayne of Gotham.
 

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