Waterdeep: Dragon Heist First Impressions

I love heist/caper stories and urban fantasy adventures so the minute the D&D team announced Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Now that I've got it? I'm still excited.


My full review will follow after I finish reading the book but a few quick impressions.

  1. The choice of four villains to choose from is a nice touch for replay-ability. Each villain is tied to a season. The full reading will reveal why.
  2. I like the adventure flowchart and encounter chains.
  3. It has a pronunciation guide! That makes a DM's life much easier.
  4. Players have three additional factions they can play, one of which is Force Grey. Critical Role fans will love that.
  5. Lots of cool NPCs are in the adventure, including well-known ones like Laeral Silverhand, though she may not be the same as the last time you saw her in an official Waterdeep adventure.
  6. The building maps are nice and could be reused in other adventures.
  7. For background material, it includes a section labeled “Volo's Waterdeep Enchiridion” that should get DMs new to Waterdeep up to speed.
After the freeform aspects of Tomb of Annihilation, the fact that Waterdeep: Dragon Heist has a bit more structure while still a sandbox is a smart choice. Being set in Faerun's most famous city also presents some nice dilemmas for players. Murder hobo tactics are likely to get them killed or imprisoned, so players should have to be more strategic – of course, that's never guaranteed.

While these are just quick takes based on a flip through of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, they definitely whet my appetite for more. City-based adventures aren't explored enough in D&D, in my opinion, Waterdeep is a rich enough setting to allow for as much variety as any wilderness or dungeon setting.

This article was contributed by Beth Rimmels (brimmels) as part of EN World's Columnist (ENWC) program. We are always on the lookout for freelance columnists! If you have a pitch, please contact us!
 
Beth Rimmels

Comments

collin

Explorer
I like the photo.

I am interested in Manshoon and Jarlaxle. What levels and character classes due these characters possess in Waterdeep Dragon Heist?
 

HawaiiSteveO

Explorer
Bought on DDB, been reading since the wee hours of the morning. Not bad so far, although I had to look up 'Enchiridion' :confused:

 

Mercule

Adventurer
How tied to Waterdeep is it, actually? Would it take a ton of effort to convert it to, say, Sharn, or are the NPC and/or faction motivations pretty tightly tied into their identities?

Maybe a "scale of 1-10" thing, with 1 being just change the names and the rest is totally generic and 10 being complete rewrite necessary.
 

HawaiiSteveO

Explorer
How tied to Waterdeep is it, actually? Would it take a ton of effort to convert it to, say, Sharn, or are the NPC and/or faction motivations pretty tightly tied into their identities?

Maybe a "scale of 1-10" thing, with 1 being just change the names and the rest is totally generic and 10 being complete rewrite necessary.
I'm a recent Eberron convert, and planning on using in Sharn for sure. From what I've read so far seems like it won't be too bad, need to make a few notes as I go.

Some Realms factions are prominent, but my thinking is they can be switched over to Dragonmarked Houses / powerful noble family / other Sharn factions - Boromar & Daask seem obvious choices to me at this point early on.

EDIT -actually reading little further on might be a lot of work. Thinking AL season coming up might be a better fit for me & my group.

WDH is a great Realms adventure from what I've read so far though.


http://dndadventurersleague.org/storyline-seasons/embers-of-the-last-war/
 
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Pagansexy

Explorer
On some of the pages the headings are blurred starting with page 91. I'm a little frustrated that I cannot remove and hand my players the actual player handouts to include the book within a book "Volo's Waterdeep Enchiridion”.
 

Rhylthar

Explorer
Call me stupid, but...is that an actual picture from Dragon Heist? I really like it with Drizzt and friends in the left corner. :)
 
Are there any new rules subsystems specific to running a heist style adventure? For example, does it discuss how to use skills to set up a caper, or does it have anything that echoes the Gumshoe or Blades in the Dark heist friendly systems? Thanks.
 

Burnside

Explorer
Are there any new rules subsystems specific to running a heist style adventure? For example, does it discuss how to use skills to set up a caper, or does it have anything that echoes the Gumshoe or Blades in the Dark heist friendly systems? Thanks.
No new rules or systems that I can see from skimming it. There are some unique traps and situations that require specific actions or conditions to be met, but they seem to be resolved using standard means (skill checks, spells, etc.).
 
No new rules or systems that I can see from skimming it. There are some unique traps and situations that require specific actions or conditions to be met, but they seem to be resolved using standard means (skill checks, spells, etc.).
Thanks. The other thing I am interested in is what the relationship webs and plot outlines look like. Do they make it seem like you can understand the machinations of the factions at a glance, more or less?
 

Burnside

Explorer
Thanks. The other thing I am interested in is what the relationship webs and plot outlines look like. Do they make it seem like you can understand the machinations of the factions at a glance, more or less?
They've done a better job of providing plot flowcharts and outlines than in any previous WoTC 5E book. Having said that, the story is also simpler than any of them except Lost Mines of Phandelver.
 

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