The 25th session was played on June 7, 2021 (Kythorn 7, 1493 DR). There were three characters present: Lord Valian Lightfinger, Lord Fradd, and Lord Vanilla Gold. All three are playing as rogues. So despite their recent enoblement at the end of session #24, the party decided they wanted to go on a "heist" against a noble villa that Valian Lightfinger scoped out during downtime a few weeks ago.
However, first, the party went to meet with the Zhentarim. Specifically Valian was looking for the information he hired to Zhentarim to obtain for him--a report on the whereabouts of the Black Viper (or Diane Roznar). Because they didn't check in to give him the report this week. The Zhentarim seemed sort of preocupied when Valian showed up to ask for information on the two footpads he had hired to track down Lady Roznar. But Valian's Zhent contacts did inform him that his two Zhentarim footpads had gone missing about a week prior, and havent been seen since.
So Valian paid to hire a better Zhentarim agent--a spy--to track down Diane Roznar, hopefully to her lair. After setting up this deal, Valian's contact then tried to hurry him out: "I'm sorry we can't really chit-chat right now, we're really busy at the moment." When Valian asked for some more information, the Zhentarim told him to get lost--basically.
So the party decided they would leave the hideout, take cover in the crowd outside, and tail any Zhentarim who emerged. Shortly afterwards, a group of 4 Zhents came out. They quickly noticed that Vanilla Gold was following them, confronted him (and rolled a neutral reaction). So they told him to "beat it, and stop following them." After Gold seemed to leave, they continued on--still being tailed by Valian--who used magical messages to help Vanilla Gold follow along from a safer distance.
After a few hours of tailing these Zhentarim, they led to a heavily overcast, ancient, decrepit and abandoned gothic neighborhood in the Sea Ward. This neighborhood seemed very out of place--as the rest of the Sea Ward is wealthy, prosperous, happy and well-maintained. It also seemed like most people in the City were sort of "ignoring" it. Avoiding, and rerouting around these "out-of-place" blocks as if they weren't here.
The players--of course--feeling no such compulsion continued to follow their quarry into this strange neighborhood. The Zhents seemed to be acting very wary as they proceeded through the neighborhood. Then they came to a ruined windmill, and furtively entered it.
Valian Lightfingers used a rope and a grappling hook to catch a window on the third floor. Leaving the other two rogues, Fradd and Vanilla Gold behind ("while I scout ahead"). As Valian made his way through the building--and was out of earshot--the other two rogues were ambushed from behind by a group of 4 bugbears. The bugbears quickly knocked out Vanilla Gold, and then focused their efforts on Fradd. Fradd was a bit sturdier against their attacks, and just barely managed to save Vanilla's life by getting him a potion of healing before he died.
But as all this was going on--with the two rogues still facing pretty tough odds, a group of 5 drow hit the bugbears--pretty hard, and drove them off. After "rescuing the PCs," the leader of the drow demanded to know what the players were doing in this neighborhood. When the PCs answered: "just wandering around--exploring," the drow told them to leave this neighborhood. The two players headed a ways down the street, and ducked into an alley--where they hid and waited to see what the drow were up to. Just like the Zhentarim, the drow also furtively entered the old windmill.
While all this had been going on, Valian found the 4 Zhents who were loading up their bags with gold--in a room with a huge pile of gold, and a slightly decaying gold dragon. Valian used a powerful illusion to incapacitate the Zhents and then proceeded to kill each of them in turn. Valian then filled up his own bag--a handy haversack (with 1,200 coins), and an extradimensional chest (with 5,000 gold). As he was leaving the treasure room, Valian heard the drow on their way down, and managed to hide behind the vault door as they passed.
The whole group reunited on the first floor of the windmill--and decided that Valian and Fradd would go back down to the treasure horde and try to kill the drow--and in the meanwhile Vanilla Gold would hustle back to the player owned tavern to get the PCs hirelings to help recover more gold. Well Valian and Fradd headed back into the vault--where Valian used a spell to "slow" the drow. Which was fairly helpful--but one of the drow managed to still cast cloudkill--which brought Fradd down to less than 1/4 of his HP. So the party decided they would beat a tactical retreat. And the drow did not pursue.
After the party made it back to the surface, the decided to split up still further. As Fradd went off to alert the City Guard, and hopefully put an end to the "free-for-all" gold rush that was apparently going on between multiple different criminal factions in the City. A few minutes later, after Valian's slow spell wore off, the entire tower was surrounded by magical darkness, and Valian (who had stayed behind waiting for the hirelings and/or city guard to arrive) did not see where the drow left.
The player's hirelings arrived before City Guard--who were at first a little skeptical of Fradd's information. At this point, the remaining players and henchmen loaded up as much gold as they could manage (which brought the total gold recovered by the players this session to 23,000). With the gold in tow, the party headed back to Barrelriders again. Except for Valian, who waited for the City Guard to show up.
While he was waiting for the City Guard, an old acquaintance--Lady Diane Roznar (or the Black Viper)--showed up. She seemed a little surprised to see him, and taunted/teased him a little about being the late-comer to the free-for-all gold bonannza. He let her go into the vault--along with her 5 companions--where they took a little bit more of the horde. As she was leaving Valian warned her that the City Guard would be coming back "any minute now" and that she shouldn't come back because she'd probably get caught.
Finally, just before the City Guard showed up, Valian planted a "calling card" of "The Black Viper"--which his former companion Gwydion the bard had forged months earlier--on top of the remaining treasure of Waterdeep. At this point, the City Guard showed up--led by Captain Murphy himself. Valian turned over custody of the treasure horde site to the City Watch, and we ended the session after totting up the character's XP.
Each character earned 7,676 XP for the session, and 7,676 GP. Not bad for a relatively low risk session in Waterdeep.
Also, per a house rule I implemented at the start of this session, PCs cannot advance more than one level per session. So, for example, after this session, Vanilla Gold will advance to level 3, but will need to play an additional session before advancing to level 4, and another additional session before advancing to level 5--even though with the XP from this session, he has "enough" for level 5.