5E Enhancing "Waterdeep: Dragon Heist"

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
So, I’ll admit to a bit of skimming (not finding this the most readable adventure, given the four parallel plots, I probably need to pick a villain and read it that way), but I did not see a location given for the vault?

Did I miss it? If I didn’t, where would be a good place for large, forgotten?, Dwarven vault?
It varies by season. In chapter 4, the last encounter in each season is the entrance to the vault.

And did anyone else eye-roll on the key options? I’d prefer some thing that needs to be assembled into a contraption/key that opens the door (and has some connection to Neverember...)
Some of them are silly, but the part I like is that if the players have been interacting with the environment and the NPCs they'll know how to find the keys.

Still, I hear you. I like the idea of hiding the keys in the various lairs. If you buy Unseen Waterdeep it will give you another option for that, too.
 

pukunui

Adventurer
I'm a bit confused about the Zhentarim Hideout in Chapter 1. The description doesn't seem to jive with the map.

First of all, the description states that it is a "ramshackle two-story warehouse" that "stands at the back of an outer yard behind a high fence".

The warehouse is stated to have *three* entry points: a front door, a large warehouse door, and a painted-over window. However, the map shows a total of *six* entry points, with an additional door and two windows in area Z5, although, although no mention is made of them in the accompanying text.

Furthermore, there are artistic flourishes on the map to either side of the "Yard Level" that look like they could be stairs.

I am wondering if perhaps Candle Lane, the alleyway on which the warehouse is located, is meant to be lower than the street at the "back" of the warehouse. Meaning that if you approach the warehouse from the lane, you come to the fenced-in yard entrance, whereas if you approach from the street on the other side, you come to the offices.

And those flourishes are meant to be stairs leading between the lane and the street.


The other issue of note is that the opening description states that the "front" door, the warehouse loading door, and the painted window can be unlocked with a DC 12 Dex check using thieves' tools. The description of area Z1, however, indicates that they can be opened with a DC 10 Dex check. I'm not sure if this is a mistake or deliberate. If the latter, it could be that the locks are intended to be easier to pick from the inside. This is not made clear in the description, however.
 
So, I’ll admit to a bit of skimming (not finding this the most readable adventure, given the four parallel plots, I probably need to pick a villain and read it that way), but I did not see a location given for the vault?

Did I miss it? If I didn’t, where would be a good place for large, forgotten?, Dwarven vault?
A "Heist" climax is important to me, so my plan is to put the vault under Castle Waterdeep. If they don't want to fight through hundreds of guards, the vault will only be really accessible during a large banquet function- all of the villains will either be in attendance or have agents in attendance, and the team will have to try to get it out under everyone nose.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
A "Heist" climax is important to me, so my plan is to put the vault under Castle Waterdeep. If they don't want to fight through hundreds of guards, the vault will only be really accessible during a large banquet function- all of the villains will either be in attendance or have agents in attendance, and the team will have to try to get it out under everyone nose.
That was going to be my suggestion too. The Castle was built long ago atop an old Dwarven mineworks. Neverember learned of the vault's existence during his time as the Open Lord and made sure that he was the only one alive with the knowledge of its whereabouts (he's a bit of a bastard).

As far as the heist goes though, given its massive weight it seems logical that the heist would happen while the hoard is being transported to its new owner (in my approach, the players are cheated out of their victory at the end of chapter 4 by one of the villains and the level 5 mission is to steal the hoard back :) ). I would let the players know the planned route through the city and let them choose where they're going to strike, using your rules supplement to join the action in medias res.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
I'm a bit confused about the Zhentarim Hideout in Chapter 1. The description doesn't seem to jive with the map.

First of all, the description states that it is a "ramshackle two-story warehouse" that "stands at the back of an outer yard behind a high fence".
Yeah the description is pretty confusing - a side on view would have helped a lot (or even a "site in context of other buildings" overview).

The warehouse is stated to have *three* entry points: a front door, a large warehouse door, and a painted-over window. However, the map shows a total of *six* entry points, with an additional door and two windows in area Z5, although, although no mention is made of them in the accompanying text.

Furthermore, there are artistic flourishes on the map to either side of the "Yard Level" that look like they could be stairs.
The text seems to assume that the PCs approach from a side alley on the west side (those rectangular things I'm guessing are rickety steps?) That's where they encounter the fence and see the yard and "main entrance". I think the other entrances are ignored/forgotten because they're in plain sight on a busy(?) street. (Lots of assumptions). You'd really think WotC would know how to situate and describe a building by now! :)

I am wondering if perhaps Candle Lane, the alleyway on which the warehouse is located, is meant to be lower than the street at the "back" of the warehouse. Meaning that if you approach the warehouse from the lane, you come to the fenced-in yard entrance, whereas if you approach from the street on the other side, you come to the offices.

And those flourishes are meant to be stairs leading between the lane and the street.
Right, but would it have killed them to label the adjacent streets and alleys?

The other issue of note is that the opening description states that the "front" door, the warehouse loading door, and the painted window can be unlocked with a DC 12 Dex check using thieves' tools. The description of area Z1, however, indicates that they can be opened with a DC 10 Dex check. I'm not sure if this is a mistake or deliberate. If the latter, it could be that the locks are intended to be easier to pick from the inside. This is not made clear in the description, however.
Seeing as they're still talking about entering the room when the lower DC is mentioned I think this is just a copy editing snafu (I've found a couple already even in my random-ish skimming). But I totally missed this one when reading Ch. 1.

As far as the Dex vs Str checks for getting in, new DMs would be greatly helped by noting that the Dex approach will allow the PCs to enter more steathily, while the Str approach will make enough noise to alert any occupants.

What bugged me about this hideout was the hidden room Z3, revealed by a DC 15 Wis (Percep) check. Given that there's not much to lead the party back into this corner it just seems a bit random.

(Another thing I feel WotC doesn't help new DMs with is how to handle ability checks. For example, when dealing the Kenku, the DM is told that a successful DC 10 Cha (Intimidation) check forces them to reveal what they know. A better way to phrase it, IMHO, would be

The Kenku are not particularly brave and can be intimidated into revealing what they know, DC 10 Cha (Intimidation) to check.
Something that guides the DM into what kind of approaches the PCs should be attempting (and how to roleplay the Kenku) with the DC left as the arbiter of uncertainty.)
 
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That was going to be my suggestion too. The Castle was built long ago atop an old Dwarven mineworks. Neverember learned of the vault's existence during his time as the Open Lord and made sure that he was the only one alive with the knowledge of its whereabouts (he's a bit of a bastard).

As far as the heist goes though, given its massive weight it seems logical that the heist would happen while the hoard is being transported to its new owner (in my approach, the players are cheated out of their victory at the end of chapter 4 by one of the villains and the level 5 mission is to steal the hoard back :) ). I would let the players know the planned route through the city and let them choose where they're going to strike, using your rules supplement to join the action in medias res.
Oooh, yeah, stealing the hoard back while it's in motion is pretty fun. I was thinking of something revolving around a "Bag of Holding" shell game, but my players are crazy so who knows what they'll come up with.

I'm super pumped people are excited to use my supplement! Drop a line and let me know how it works out at your table, if you don't mind.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
"Somebody" should write up an adventure supplement that:
1) Modify the final stage of each of the 4 season sequences in chapter 4 to give the heroes the clue that it's under Castle Waterdeep
2) Make up a new table of keys, so that each key is a physical object, with a random location in the villain lairs
3) Build out a Masked Ball at Waterdeep Castle event, that would include:
- A way for the characters to get an invitation
- Some kind of social intrigue that must be resolved/addressed before the vault can be entered

If it were done well I would definitely pay for that on DMs Guild.
 
"Somebody" should write up an adventure supplement that:
1) Modify the final stage of each of the 4 season sequences in chapter 4 to give the heroes the clue that it's under Castle Waterdeep
2) Make up a new table of keys, so that each key is a physical object, with a random location in the villain lairs
3) Build out a Masked Ball at Waterdeep Castle event, that would include:
- A way for the characters to get an invitation
- Some kind of social intrigue that must be resolved/addressed before the vault can be entered

If it were done well I would definitely pay for that on DMs Guild.
For #3, you could use or modify the Cassalantar's Founder's Day party detailed in their section of the book...
 

Aoirorentsu

Explorer
"Somebody" should write up an adventure supplement that:
...
3) Build out a Masked Ball at Waterdeep Castle event, that would include:
- A way for the characters to get an invitation
- Some kind of social intrigue that must be resolved/addressed before the vault can be entered
In that resolution, one could use the "party planning" structure that Justin Alexander lays out here to both frame the heist-y action and possibly seed sidequests and future campaign events.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
"Somebody" should write up an adventure supplement that:
1) Modify the final stage of each of the 4 season sequences in chapter 4 to give the heroes the clue that it's under Castle Waterdeep
2) Make up a new table of keys, so that each key is a physical object, with a random location in the villain lairs
3) Build out a Masked Ball at Waterdeep Castle event, that would include:
- A way for the characters to get an invitation
- Some kind of social intrigue that must be resolved/addressed before the vault can be entered

If it were done well I would definitely pay for that on DMs Guild.
This sounds very cool.

For 3a, if Volo is part of your adventure then he would certainly be an honoured guest and would be able to bring an entourage, i.e. the PCs. Or Neverember’s son I suppose, they should have some coattails they could ride in on at any rate.
 

pukunui

Adventurer
Great stuff. Some more thoughts of mine:

1) Istrid Horn: The book says she's a shield dwarf, but her picture makes her look more like a gold dwarf.

2) House Phylund: The brief write-up in the intro says they are of Tashlutar ethnicity. I had to look that up. The Tashlutar are natives of Tashala, a nation on the isthmus connecting Chult to the mainland. Also, with respect to House Phylund, this is either a retcon or a slight error on the authors' part, as the house was of mixed ethnicity (Tethyrian and Tashlutar) as of the 3.5e era.

On that note, people might find this old web enhancement for the D&D 3.5e Waterdeep sourcebook of some use: Noble Houses of Waterdeep


Also, did anyone else notice that they've dropped the H from "Waterdhavian" in this book? It's just "Waterdavian" now. (FWIW it's spelled "Waterdhavian" in the SCAG, so it's not exactly a 5e change.)
 
"Somebody" should write up an adventure supplement that:
1) Modify the final stage of each of the 4 season sequences in chapter 4 to give the heroes the clue that it's under Castle Waterdeep
2) Make up a new table of keys, so that each key is a physical object, with a random location in the villain lairs
3) Build out a Masked Ball at Waterdeep Castle event, that would include:
- A way for the characters to get an invitation
- Some kind of social intrigue that must be resolved/addressed before the vault can be entered

If it were done well I would definitely pay for that on DMs Guild.
Noted! Right now I'm writing a supplement with a lot of small heists and cons that can be pulled in Waterdeep to fill out Chapter 2, but that's a good idea for Waterdeep Supplement #3, especially since I'm doing it for my table anyway...
 

THEMNGMNT

Explorer
Here's how I'd run this:

1) Throw out most of Chapter 3 and the event chains in Chapter 4 (all of which just feel like a contrivance to keep the Stone of Golorr out of the PC's hands for as long as possible).
2) Have the players find the Stone of Golorr somewhere in their inn, Trollskull Manor.
3) The Stone has three eyes. ALL OF THEM ARE MISSING. But anyone attuned to the Stone can sense the location of the eyes.
4) The eyes appear to be black pearls and they are located in the lairs of 3 of the 4 modular villains. The 4th villain, of course, is the one picked by the DM to be the Big Bad.
5) Players must infiltrate and steal (aka "heist") all three eyes from within the lairs.
6) Once all three eyes are placed in the Stone of Golorr, the players are granted the location of the Vault, which they know is filled with gold because of their interactions with the Big Bad and his/her minions.
7) The Stone, with all eyes placed within, is obviously also the Vault Key.

I think that could make for a very fun, challenging adventure.
 

pukunui

Adventurer
I’ve finally finished reading through this adventure. Lots to love. In fact, I’m really struggling to decide on which season to use. I wish I could combine them all.

I originally went with spring, but I think that season’s quest chain is the least interesting.

Summer’s is potentially the most fun, especially the finale with the kids and the “rocking chair” in the sewers, as well as the PCs having the opportunity to team up with the Black Viper, but I’m not sure about the catch 22 ending (either 99 innocent people die or 2 innocent kids lose their souls).

My group has played through Curse of Strahd and would probably appreciate the play that references his backstory in the winter chain.

However, I think I like the autumn chain the best. Not just because Jarlaxle is so cool but also because his chain has such a distinct James Bond vibe, what with all the disguises and the secret submarine and all that.


I like the idea of making it so the PCs have to break into the three other villains’ lairs to retrieve the keys. That said, I also like that the default key acquisition method gives the players the freedom to be creative with how they source the keys.

Lots to think about.


EDIT: We started on Friday. After some discussions, the group opted to have their PCs all be childhood friends from Amphail who decided to head to the big city. More on them later, but we made it through to the fight with the kenku in the warehouse. We’ll pick up with them finding Renaer and interrogating the one kenku they captured.
 
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robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
I wish I could combine them all.

I originally went with spring, but I think that season’s quest chain is the least interesting.

Summer’s is potentially the most fun, especially the finale with the kids and the “rocking chair” in the sewers, as well as the PCs having the opportunity to team up with the Black Viper, but I’m not sure about the catch 22 ending (either 99 innocent people die or 2 innocent kids lose their souls).

My group has played through Curse of Strahd and would probably appreciate the play that references his backstory in the winter chain.

However, I think I like the autumn chain the best. Not just because Jarlaxle is so cool but also because his chain has such a distinct James Bond vibe, what with all the disguises and the secret submarine and all that.
Don’t forget that they do suggest rolling your own “best of” chain. So feel free to mix and match to suit your objective.
 

pukunui

Adventurer
Don’t forget that they do suggest rolling your own “best of” chain. So feel free to mix and match to suit your objective.
Well, yes, but I’m not sure how I would combine all the bits I like best, especially when I like more than one of the final quest chain options.

I can't have the street urchins take the Stone of Golorr into the sewers *and* have the drow gunslingers drop it in the harbor! Not unless I contrive some way for the stone to be snatched away from the kids before the PCs get to it ... I suppose I could have the gunslingers leave behind a fake that the mimic then squats on top of in its rocking chair form.

Will have to ponder it for a bit ...

I *would* love to have the street urchins show up more than just the once. I'll have to see if I can work them into chapter 2 somehow.


EDIT: Oh, and I would love to have the PCs get tailed by a gazer or two through chapter 4 even if I don't do the spring chain. And since the gazers are meant to resemble the beholder who dreamed them up, they should all be blue rather than green.

As an aside, I reckon the albino gazer in the* Xanathar's lair should have the Sunlight Sensitivity trait. (Or maybe just Light Sensitivity in general.) The albino dwarves in Tomb of Annihilation probably should have as well ...



*He will always be *the* Xanathar to me, no matter what WotC says!
 
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pukunui

Adventurer
On a different note, in the back of the book, it says the Waterdeep City Guard is composed of guards and veterans, while the City Watch is composed of veterans and knights.

I feel like that should be the other way around, especially since the City Guard captain pictured in the book is wearing full plate.

It also makes more sense to me to encounter a knight in an army than in a police force.

Anyone else find that odd?
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
On a different note, in the back of the book, it says the Waterdeep City Guard is composed of guards and veterans, while the City Watch is composed of veterans and knights.

I feel like that should be the other way around, especially since the City Guard captain pictured in the book is wearing full plate.

It also makes more sense to me to encounter a knight in an army than in a police force.

Anyone else find that odd?
Yeah, the city guard is the militia dealing with external threats, whilst the city watch is the constabulary dealing with keeping the peace within the city walls (or at least it should be :) )
 

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