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I'm preparing to run my table through the "Dragon Season" phase of the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist adventure on Spring setting, but there's one thing that looks like its going to be a big problem: the entrance to the vault.

First off, it seems almost impossible to find. All they know is that it's somewhere

below the theater.

But this is a super big map, with something like 15 rooms, only one square of one of which actually contains the door. Additionally, it's a hidden door with a DC 20 Perception check to notice. Not passive Perception, but Perception. They have to be actively looking for it. This from a table that hasn't looked for (or found) a secret door in this campaign yet.

It seems exceedingly unlikely they'd manage to make a check in the right spot, and even if they do, most likely they won't find it because the DC is so crazy high.

But it gets worse. Say I rule that the stone tells them exactly what square to search (pretty sure I'm actually going to have to do this). Well, opening it requires a knock spell (which they don't have), or a DC 30 Strength check. Even the barbarian can't make that without a nat 20.

I suppose I could also rule that the stone knows the password for the arcane lock spell, but that seems a bit much (and it looks like it would only drop the athletics check to a 20?).

How are they supposed to get in? Has anyone else run Spring, and if so, how did your table get past this?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Well, the er… building … in question is supposedly full of people getting ready for the day, and lore-wise the room its actually in one could presume would normally have someone changing in it at this time. Not to mention the actual owner of the building is there, and apparently a bit of a snippy piece of work who'd most likely call the guard on someone say repeatedly bashing at the floor hoping for a nat 20. \$\endgroup\$ – T.E.D. Dec 31 '19 at 17:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 - Perception-wise, unless I flat out told them its a hidden door and a 20 was required, it would seem reasonable for them to assume any room they rolled a 15-19 in doesn't have the entrance. Can the same person reroll perception for the same search if they got low? That seems to defeat the purpose of having a roll (outside of combat I suppose). \$\endgroup\$ – T.E.D. Dec 31 '19 at 17:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ Generally you can look for something as long as you want. If there is no time pressure eventually you'll get a 20. So you're right, if you're not in combat or racing against the clock, just let them find it after x number of minutes/hours searching. \$\endgroup\$ – GreySage Dec 31 '19 at 18:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GreySage a couple of methods for finding your x, if you like: How can I figure the number of trials until success? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Dec 31 '19 at 21:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GreySage - Well, there is the building owner who will essentially kick them out if they cotton on to what is happening. Again, I don't much see the point of them writing it as a DC 20 (hard) check if they are going to be allowed to automatically succeed, If that's what was intended, fine, but it might as well have been a DC 10 check then (or just read "after an intensive search the door is found"). \$\endgroup\$ – T.E.D. Dec 31 '19 at 23:02
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The beginning of the chapter plainly states that the

Stone of Golorr

knows where the treasure vault is located and how to get inside. This implies that the directions given could be more specific than just the location the entrance is in.

This shifts the challenge from both finding the spot and sneaking in to just sneaking in.

Even if the Perception and Strength rolls are hard, those become part of the tension of the sneaking. The ways they deal with the additional time to search the one room can be solved a number of ways. In my head. I imagine the typical scene from movies where a disguised character or two pretend to stand guard outside as lookouts, increasingly anxious as to what's taking so long to find what they're looking for.

As for automatic success, the Dungeon Master's Guide recommends multiplying the time it would take to normally do the task to in order for the character to automatically succeed. Also, if the character couldn't possibly succeed on the roll, then any amount of time spent would obviously not change that.


Edit: After checking the adventure again I realized the issue you're mentioning: the manual says that it's in room x...but every dressing room is marked room x. So yes, it seems like without being told directly which room it is, they would need to check every room.

So the resolution here with how specific the directions given are ultimately up to you. One idea could be to say it's in the room of the actor who plays a specific role in the play, leading the players to have to figure out who the actor is somehow (eg. watching the play, or even just simply stealing a playbill with the cast listings), then sneaking in at night to use the info, or if they don't get, it to check every room.

So like I said, the specificity of the info given is up to you, but it's also up to you to be prepared for the multitude of ways players try to use that information. That doesn't mean write a full script of every path, just some basic notes so you're not unprepared. Remember, even if you tell them exactly which room to go to, they still need to get there, and that's the part that can go any way they conceive of.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So are you suggesting that the stone would tell them specifically which room to look in? \$\endgroup\$ – T.E.D. Jan 7 at 21:30
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to RPG.SE! Take the tour if you haven't already, and check out the help center for more guidance. \$\endgroup\$ – V2Blast Jan 8 at 2:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ok, I just rechecked the section of the book and looked at the map and realized the issue... \$\endgroup\$ – Portaljacker Jan 8 at 15:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ For the update: I believe the manual also says that all they know upon arrival is that the entrance is under the building somewhere, and they should have the stone at that point. So not even narrowed down to those rooms. \$\endgroup\$ – T.E.D. Jan 8 at 16:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the line at the top of the chapter about the stone knowing where the vault is and how to get in is intentionally vague, for flexibility in how the DM uses it to guide the player as much or as little as they like. Never forget: it's your adventure, the adventure guide is just that, a guide. You are free to make any changes you feel would improve the adventure for you player, be that making it easier, harder, or just different. \$\endgroup\$ – Portaljacker Jan 8 at 16:18

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