(DMs only) Handling Dagult Neverember in Session 4

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So for those of you DMing Encounters tonight, you have the opportunity and challenge to RP one of 4e FR's big boys: Dagult Neverember, Open Lord of Waterdeep and Lord Protector/Usurper of Neverwinter.

A couple of notes I found helpful when RPing him:

1) This is for the good of Neverwinter: Neverember presents himself (truthfully or not) as an ally of the city. He wants to get information on the Heir in order to diffuse the coming uprising, which has the potential to inflict serious damage physically and socially to Neverwinter.

He'd love to side with the Heir, if it's a true heir to the city, but he also can't just blindly accept the Heir without knowing for sure. What if the Heir is an agent of Netheril or Thay or some other false usurper? That would be a terrible fate for the city, and he would not be doing his job as Lord Protector if he just stepped aside for every crackpot in the world.

2) Remember motivation and image: Neverember wants the PCs to work with him, but he also can't act cravenly or desperate. He also thinks that coin solves problems, and as long as he's got the coin, he can work this out. Under no circumstances will he part with more than 500 gp each, which is still a very generous sum for the PCs--he knows what one has to pay to get good service, and he's being respectful of the heroes' standing and abilities.

Even if the PCs refuse his offer, he's as likely just to give them the 100 gp up front and assure them that 400 gp is still waiting if they bring him the information he wants.

3) Remember his jovial personality: Neverember seems to like everyone he meets, and he loves rubbing shoulders with heroes and flirting with pretty ladies. His interaction with the PCs should be jovial, even if they don't treat him in a jovial way.

4) The PCs would have to be crazy to attack him in his own sanctum: It's tough to predict what PCs would do, but openly attacking Neverember in his own castle, surrounded by his guards, would be a mistake. If they make an aggressive move on Neverember, then of course his guards rush in to fight. Neverember himself is your key to keeping this from being a TPK: he will diffuse the situation by laughing and saying something like "Good, good! You have spirit and courage, I like that. I only hope you have as much discretion."

I don't want this to come off as railroading the PCs (any more than the Encounters season has to be a little railroady)--it's more like logical consequences of a ridiculous action (attacking Neverember). As a 1st level PC, you wouldn't protest that you can't kill the great wyrm red dragon sitting in front of you. If anything, having Neverember keep the PCs alive is the real railroad here.

If you don't want this to come off in a peaceful way or the PCs are just unrepentently hostile toward Neverember, consider reworking the encounter entirely: they have to fight their way out of the Hall of Justice, and instead of bandits, the enemies are Neverember's guards/thugs. You can probably find a way to reuse the map for session 4. At the end of session 4, when Seldra shows up, it's sure to be a tense encounter.

Cheers
Under no circumstances will he part with more than 500 gp each, which is still a very generous sum for the PCs--he knows what one has to pay to get good service, and he's being respectful of the heroes' standing and abilities.



Erik,

The character theme tie-in for the Bregan-D'aerth Spy and Dead Rat Desserter says that he'll quietly offer them 200 extra GP for any information that will discredit the Heir's claim. I assume this is still valid.
- Rico
Under no circumstances will he part with more than 500 gp each, which is still a very generous sum for the PCs--he knows what one has to pay to get good service, and he's being respectful of the heroes' standing and abilities.

The character theme tie-in for the Bregan-D'aerth Spy and Dead Rat Desserter says that he'll quietly offer them 200 extra GP for any information that will discredit the Heir's claim. I assume this is still valid.

Indeed. Under no circumstances EXCEPT this.

Fun fact: My original draft said "damage to the heir or even an assassination." But that's pretty dark. :D

Cheers
Under no circumstances will he part with more than 500 gp each, which is still a very generous sum for the PCs--he knows what one has to pay to get good service, and he's being respectful of the heroes' standing and abilities.

The character theme tie-in for the Bregan-D'aerth Spy and Dead Rat Desserter says that he'll quietly offer them 200 extra GP for any information that will discredit the Heir's claim. I assume this is still valid.

Indeed. Under no circumstances EXCEPT this.

Fun fact: My original draft said "damage to the heir or even an assassination." But that's pretty dark. :D

Cheers



Love it!
- Rico
I am sure this reference will only hit a few people, but I described him and played of Neverember like the former Mayor of Chicago. As soon as I did that everyone knew the type of man he was. Chicago politics are great for D&D fodder!
Another great night!  All my long term regular players were absent, but we had a lot of new blood to fill out my table at six players all the same!

We had a great time roleplaying.  Sevreal thieves debated taking the spartan items just to bolster the Lost Heir, or cause mischief.   The rest of the party freaked out knowing they wouldn't make it far at all.  The party really like my 'deep booming voice' impression of Lord Neverember, an my description of him being sort of like superman build without all that over-the-top muscleage.

We started out with some great roleplaying!  When the Lord Protector offered them food and drink, the party heartily accepted.  "What kinds of elven wine do you have?  Can I have rabbit stew?" and more.  Luckily one of the campaigns I've played in for decades is in Forgotten Realms and I know of a master Elven Druid brewer with a long list of fine wines she makes.  My players we delighted in the descriptions, and I loved a tie in to my own games I've played.  Even the rabbit stew was a hit with the players, and the simple act of food quickly swayed many of them to readily accept the Lord Protector.  The regularly greedy group didn't even try to bargain for more gold!
@Beowulf: Perfect! You win, sir.

@DD: Food is a powerful motivating force!

Based on a question in my Q&A thread, I'm interested to know if any other groups had the PCs tell Neverember that Seldra was the one who brought the crown into the city in the first place. It seems like an odd piece of info to share, seeing as the PCs haven't seen Seldra (yet) since the Game Day adventure, and she might as well be dead for all they know. But since Neverember knows Seldra, that would be a piece of info that would intrigue him.

The response I would probably have done in this instance is to have him say thoughtfully, "Interesting," then follow it up with "But I'm much more interested in who has it now" to redirect the adventure back onto the plot.

Cheers
I brought it up at my table. I was trying to challenge the Lord Protector to question her motives (because I'm playing this season, I only read in advance the encounters I'm going to run, so I don't know Seldra's story).
The PCs mentioning Seldra at that point seems a little bit meta-knowledge, since she hasn't shown up in the Encounters season until the end of session 4, so why would she be on their minds? But I think it's perfectly reasonable the PCs might explain that they brought the crown to Neverwinter as part of a job to escort "some lady" (they might even name her as Seldra).

Also, it seems maybe ill-advised to tell Neverember to his face, in his inner sanctum, that YOU are the ones who brought the crown into his city, thus challenging his rule and sparking an uprising that could become a civil war. In fact, if Neverember plays it off as not a big deal, that should be a little surprising to the PCs.

He could also easily threaten them that he will pursue legal action against them for their potentially treasonous activities unless they do what he wants, but Neverember isn't really the openly threatening guy. He'd prefer to threaten them only when he really has them between a rock and a hard place.

One other point, however, that will make this particularly juicy to DMs:

Really DM only
Show
It's entirely possible Neverember was behind this all the way.

In fact, in my original draft (and I'm not sure if this made it into the final version), Neverember had originally commissioned the fake crown himself and Seldra was merely his agent in bringing it to Neverwinter. Is it really a coincidence that the heroes brought it from Waterdeep? Nuh uh. Neverember had it forged by powerful wizards in Waterdeep in order to use it as his tool to cement his lineage and rulership in the city.

However, soon after getting the crown to Neverwinter, Seldra went off-mission, told Neverember the crown had been stolen (which is true--it had been), and started her own thing, which then led to the Encounters season.

I suspect this may not have survived editing, because it's something the PCs might never know about within the scope of Lost Crown, and the editing philosophy at WotC is to put in those details the heroes are likely to be concerned with, rather than lots of background lore only the DM will know. But if you want to continue an adventure after the Encounters season, this might be extremely relevant.


Food for thought.

Cheers
Well, I brought it up because my warlord knew Seldra normally works for Neverember (I played the Game Day adventure), and she was surprised in the marketplace encounter that the Lost Heir was wearing the crown Seldra brought to town. She kept pestering him with questions, and is very frustrated with a lack of answers.

She's been trying to find out his identity ever since then, and she keeps suspecting that Lord Neverember actually is behind the Lost Heir somehow, maybe using the heir to solidify his base, or setting up a figurehead puppet so he can get out of the crosshairs... I mean spotlight. Or perhaps Seldra's betraying him-- if so, Neverember should be made aware. Our own involvement in bringing the crown is meaningless-- we were hired to do a job, and little else.

Basically, my warlord is trying to figure out the political situation without becoming overly involved in it. She's come to Neverwinter to find out if she still has family left here, and to decide if she wants to become involved in this city and its schemes.
Well, I brought it up because my warlord knew Seldra normally works for Neverember (I played the Game Day adventure), and she was surprised in the marketplace encounter that the Lost Heir was wearing the crown Seldra brought to town. She kept pestering him with questions, and is very frustrated with a lack of answers.

Understood, though I seem to think I didn't put it into the Game Day adventure that Seldra works for Neverember. That alone would make PCs extremely suspicious about the whole Crown-legitimacy issue.

She's been trying to find out his identity ever since then, and she keeps suspecting that Lord Neverember actually is behind the Lost Heir somehow, maybe using the heir to solidify his base, or setting up a figurehead puppet so he can get out of the crosshairs... I mean spotlight. Or perhaps Seldra's betraying him-- if so, Neverember should be made aware. Our own involvement in bringing the crown is meaningless-- we were hired to do a job, and little else.

Very interesting! I highly approve of the direction your warlord is going.

And on that last point, I'm sure *you* see it as meaningless, but it's far from meaningless for Neverember. If he really is the villain many suspect him to be, it wouldn't surprise me if your PCs get tailed by Mintarn goons or even assassination attempts.

Basically, my warlord is trying to figure out the political situation without becoming overly involved in it. She's come to Neverwinter to find out if she still has family left here, and to decide if she wants to become involved in this city and its schemes.

A pragmatic heir! Perfect.

Cheers
Well, I suppose it's because Zen (the warlord) doesn't think Lord Neverember is a villain. Actually, most of her party doesn't have a problem with him. Neverwinter is rebuilding. Neverember might have goons, but that's just a necessary part of being a leader (heck, Zen has goons!)

I seem to remember Seldra working for Neverember was in the game day mod in her backstory, and I found out almost casually who she works for in the normal course of talking to her during that adventure. It was a really minor comment that later took on huge importance when the Lost Heir showed up.

So for Zen, this tiny detail has pricked her curiosity and is starting to make her care. Which is too bad-- she was kind of looking forward to finding some nice family of noble cousins to impose on and become a happy waste of aristocratic potential. Now she actually has to go off and be a hero or something. Bah.
Sounds excellent, Mortaine. Keep up the good work!

Cheers
@Beowulf: Perfect! You win, sir.

@DD: Food is a powerful motivating force!

Based on a question in my Q&A thread, I'm interested to know if any other groups had the PCs tell Neverember that Seldra was the one who brought the crown into the city in the first place. It seems like an odd piece of info to share, seeing as the PCs haven't seen Seldra (yet) since the Game Day adventure, and she might as well be dead for all they know. But since Neverember knows Seldra, that would be a piece of info that would intrigue him.

The response I would probably have done in this instance is to have him say thoughtfully, "Interesting," then follow it up with "But I'm much more interested in who has it now" to redirect the adventure back onto the plot.

Cheers



The group I ran had 4 people who played the game day and 'remembered' Seldra.  In fact they quickly questioned her about her involvement in both parties.  She was very forthcoming about her support of the Lost Heir and that she wanted to keep an eye on the Lord Protector.  The parties insight was she was nervous, but not exactly about what.  Several players chalked it up to the near incident with the Wall.
A couple of the party members indeed insinuated telling Lord Neverember, and she asked they investigate the theives that just assaulted the Wall.  The party quickly confered and actually like the idea of having some "goods" to hold over her if they needed.  It was a short RP scence, but one with lots of involvment from the vets and new players alike.

Adventure Pulp
  The party hoped out to stop the two rogues they could see, but got suprised by the other 4 (6 players).  There was a small hail of knives from the bushes as the rogues got off sneak attacks.  And three "1's" rolled by the thieves made us all laugh.  A couple of players ran forward to attack the ones near the Wall's winches, and then subsequently got swarmed by rogues.  The hits quickly added up and several of the party was down in round two.  Luckily the Sun Priest (a new player) quickly took to aiding his allies and everyone was in fighting form quickly enough.  There were a lot of blows and shots traded, and at one point well over half the board was covered in bloody combatants.  The party even took prisoners this time to question the pesky thieves!  This combat ended up being tougher than most so far, and more than I thought it would be for them.  But everyone seemed to have a great time!  Next week should be fun again.  I'm really liking this season!  Thanks!

@DD: Do post that in the Session 4 Field Reports thread!

Cheers
I seem to think I didn't put it into the Game Day adventure that Seldra works for Neverember. That alone would make PCs extremely suspicious about the whole Crown-legitimacy issue.



Correct. It was not mentioned anywhere in the the Gates of Neverdeath module. In fact, I was surprised to read in the Encounters materials that she was working for Neverember, and I took it to mean that she was employed by him after the events of Game Day.
- Rico
One other point, however, that will make this particularly juicy to DMs:

Really DM only
Show
It's entirely possible Neverember was behind this all the way.

In fact, in my original draft (and I'm not sure if this made it into the final version), Neverember had originally commissioned the fake crown himself and Seldra was merely his agent in bringing it to Neverwinter. Is it really a coincidence that the heroes brought it from Waterdeep? Nuh uh. Neverember had it forged by powerful wizards in Waterdeep in order to use it as his tool to cement his lineage and rulership in the city.

However, soon after getting the crown to Neverwinter, Seldra went off-mission, told Neverember the crown had been stolen (which is true--it had been), and started her own thing, which then led to the Encounters season.

I suspect this may not have survived editing, because it's something the PCs might never know about within the scope of Lost Crown, and the editing philosophy at WotC is to put in those details the heroes are likely to be concerned with, rather than lots of background lore only the DM will know. But if you want to continue an adventure after the Encounters season, this might be extremely relevant.

That did not make it into the Encounters materials. Too bad. That's some really great stuff, and I think it would have really enhanced role playing Neverember and Seldra.
Food for thought.

Cheers



- Rico
I may have deleted it myself. But how fortunate it is that we're all here online and can discuss it, eh?

Cheers
I may have deleted it myself. But how fortunate it is that we're all here online and can discuss it, eh?

Cheers



I'm probably going to run the Gates of Neverdeath and Lost Crown of Neverwinter adventures for a home group after this season of Encounters is over. So, that bit of information is definitely going to inform my portrayal of these NPCs.
- Rico

At my table, we admitted recognizing the crown - having 'seen it in the hands of a Red Wizard' (on Game Day), but didn't mention how it came to the city, only that it was returned to the 'elf' (didn't mention - just didn't remember - her name, or that she was /half/ elf) the Thayan had stolen it from.  Lord Neverember is presumably aware of something about the events in the graveyard that day.

 

 

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Lord Neverember is presumably aware of something about the events in the graveyard that day.

He knows at least something about what happened there, but probably not the whole story. I left that open to DMs, since it depends a lot on what the PCs do or say.

Cheers