D&D General WotC Reveals New Information and Covers for 'Keys from the Golden Vault'

Due in just a few weeks, Keys from the Golden Vault has receoved little fanfare so far. However, a cover and descrioption has appeared on the Wizards Play Network site. Wizards Play Network (WPN) is a network of WotC-approved stores.

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An anthology of 13 heist-themed adventures for the world’s greatest roleplaying game.

Some jobs require more than simply wielding a sword or slinging a spell. Whether it’s procuring a well-guarded item or obtaining crucial information from an imprisoned contact, these tasks require careful planning and flawless execution. The secretive organization called the Golden Vault specializes in hiring crews for such jobs, and for the most daunting assignments—pursuing fabulous treasures and stopping dire threats—that crew is your characters.
Keys from the Golden Vault™ is a collection of 13 short, standalone Dungeons & Dragons adventures designed for characters levels 1–11. These adventures can be placed in any setting and you can run them as one-shot games or link them together into a campaign. This book also includes in-world maps to help players plan their heists, plus advice for running nontraditional games with high risks and huge rewards.

Contents:
  • Book of 13 stand-alone adventures spanning levels 1–11, each focused on a single heist
  • Adventures can be set in any D&D or homebrew world and can be played individually or as part of a full campaign
  • Introduces the Golden Vault—a mysterious organization for which the player characters can work as heist operatives
  • Each adventure includes a map to guide Dungeon Masters and a map to help players plan their heists
  • Adventures emphasize player choice with each heist having multiple paths toward success
  • Includes advice and detailed information for Dungeon Masters running nontraditional adventures with high risks and huge rewards


There's also an alternate cover.

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EpicureanDM

Explorer
Wow that is a truly extremely poorly conceptualized encounter, and it really didn't have to be. The writer could have just like, not made them be wizards, and started the encounter differently.

It feels a lot like the sort of thing I saw a lot from newer DMs when I was a teenager, where they just hadn't thought stuff through at all.
Right, which is what gives me pause with Golden Vault. If I'm buying a book of heists, I want them to make clever use of the game's rules that push for creative uses of the rules to beat them. I want them to have thought it through so that I don't have to. It's a very difficult, peculiar sort of design and the D&D design team hasn't given me any indications that they're suited to it.
 

SAVeira

Adventurer
So, this book is still not for sale on D&D Beyond. This is extremely unusual; it should have been there for pre-sale months ago. It is possible that the dislike of D&D Beyond by some individuals with WotC is true? It really does not make any sense not to have this item available for sale on D&D Beyond, otherwise.
 


grimslade

Krampus ate my d20s
That quasit on the regular cover is darn ugly and the forced perspective is off somehow to me. The alt cover is fine, it is just really boring. 13 unconnected heist adventures is already a low interest item for me. The example posted above does not fill me with interest to mine the book for ideas either. I love the use of two maps for each adventure for players/characters to plan their 'heist'. Having a different example of a Thieve's Guild, the Golden Vault, is nice too. Feel bad for the authors and designers for this book to come out now between OGLageddon and Honor Among Thieves PR push to release.
 

In Shadow of the Sun, the 11th level scenario written by Justice Arman, Senior Game Designer on the D&D design team, there's an encounter during which the scenario's McGuffin, a samovar, is stolen from a merchant's backroom. The text says that these two thieves "have squeezed through a window in the secret room that's disguised from the outside." When the PCs burst in on this robbery in progress, the boxed text reads:

"This chamber's shelves sag under crates and curios. On the far wall, a narrow window opens into a cluttered alley beyond. Just outside, two figures wearing menacing scarlet masks kneel on a flying carpet, holding an ornate samovar. They laugh as the carpet shoots down the alley."

What I've neglected to mention so far is that the two thieves are mages. A standard NPC mage is a 9th-level spellcaster with the ability to cast 5th level spells. The list of standard spells for an NPC mage includes misty step and greater invisibility, along with fly. So here's what the situation as presented is asking us to believe:

1) These 9th-level wizards "squeezed through a window" rather than using misty step. They've got three 2nd-level spell slots, which is enough to misty step in and out with a slot leftover. This moment happens before the encounter starts, but it points to a laziness in how this encounter was conceptualized and executed.

2) Why are the two 9th-level wizards visible when they can both cast greater invisibility? True, the duration is one minute and it requires concentration. But if they're in the alley and hear people enter the merchant's backroom, there's enough time to cast greater invisibility as a precaution. Are the PCs supposed to immediately catch full glimpses of the 9th-level wizards through a narrow window (that the wizards had to squeeze through, so it's not very big) on the far wall of the room they just entered? Sufficient view of the 9th-level wizards and the McGuffin, through a narrow window moments before they zoom off down the alley? Given how the relatively short duration of greater invisibility, the best time is to cast it before you leave the backroom, so that no witnesses spot you during your getaway. Greater invisibility DOESN'T drop if the caster casts another spell. Misty step doesn't require concentration, so they could have cast greater invisibility (which, incidentally, would make the McGuffin invisible, too) before using misty step as a bonus action to leave the backroom.

All of this ignores using those two spells to escape the ensuing chase that's forced onto the PCs.

3) The encounter goes on to say that "[a]s the two masked thieves [i.e. 9th-level wizards] soar away on the carpet, the characters can give chase. Give the characters a moment to spring into action and swiftly come up with their own ways to fly after the thieves. If they don't have a method of flying, [the merchant] produces another carpet of flying and loans it to the characters." After this point, the text moves into the mechanisms of the chase itself.

But what about that narrow window? When the encounter starts, the 9th-level wizards zoom off on their stolen flying carpet. The PCs are inside the merchant's backroom. For this chase to start, each PC must cross the room, squeeze through the narrow window, get on the borrowed carpet of flying, and take off after the thieves. If they do need the borrowed flying carpet, one PC must get that carpet out the window first, follow it out, and set it up so that their friends can hop aboard. Maybe the DM handwaves all of that, but I could see that taking a round or two.

The scenario states that the 9th-level wizards start 120 feet ahead of the PCs in a chase. Assuming that the carpet of flying that can carry 400lbs is a two-person carpet, that size moves at 60 feet per round. So 120 feet ahead is two rounds of movement, assuming no Dash action is taken by the 9th-level wizards. (Why wouldn't they? They're being chased. But maybe they don't.) A carpet of flying that carries more than two people moves more slowly than 60 feet per round. There's no mention of the size of the extra carpet of flying that the merchant has, but if the DM wants to put an entire, four-person party on a carpet, it only moves at 30 feet per round. They'll never catch the 9th-level wizards. None of these rules are mentioned in the text. It's just "give your party a carpet of flying and start the fun!"

What about the spells I mentioned? Even if the 9th-level wizards didn't cast greater invisibility when the PCs burst into the backroom, they can cast it during the chase. Once the 9th-level wizard holding the McGuffin is invisible, that wizard can cast misty step to get off the carpet while they're invisible. How would the PCs spot that maneuver? A 9th-level wizard's been around a long time! They are experts in the use of their spells. They should act like it. Of course, it's ludicrous to send 9th-level wizards to perform this heist/theft in this very non-wizardly way when the designer could have easily used 9th-level rogues or something similar.

This scenario was written by a Senior Game Designer on the D&D design team and presumably vetted by either Jeremy Crawford or Chris Perkins. It's a small part of the larger scenario, but it's the heist/theft part of it. It doesn't inspire confidence that the high-level heist scenarios in Golden Vault are designed and reviewed by people who actually play the game at high levels.

I guess if you really don't want the PCs to have a flying carpet chase you could implement all the things you mentioned...

EDIT: I think the writers generally write with the assumption that the players aren't masters of the game system, which is why monsters are generally fairly easy and why I nearly always give then max HP and multiple buffs.
 
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That's true, but it doesn't explain the issues with the carpet chase and presumably didn't say that the vault was shielded that way or the misty step issue wouldn't have been mentioned.
If you could crawl in through an external window it's hardly shielded from anything. Maybe it was so simple to break in that the thieves didn't think it was worth a spell slot?

Most vaults don't have windows!
 

Lord_Blacksteel

Adventurer
In Shadow of the Sun, the 11th level scenario written by Justice Arman, Senior Game Designer on the D&D design team, there's an encounter during which the scenario's McGuffin, a samovar, is stolen from a merchant's backroom. The text says that these two thieves "have squeezed through a window in the secret room that's disguised from the outside." When the PCs burst in on this robbery in progress, the boxed text reads:

"This chamber's shelves sag under crates and curios. On the far wall, a narrow window opens into a cluttered alley beyond. Just outside, two figures wearing menacing scarlet masks kneel on a flying carpet, holding an ornate samovar. They laugh as the carpet shoots down the alley."

What I've neglected to mention so far is that the two thieves are mages. A standard NPC mage is a 9th-level spellcaster with the ability to cast 5th level spells. The list of standard spells for an NPC mage includes misty step and greater invisibility, along with fly. So here's what the situation as presented is asking us to believe:

1) These 9th-level wizards "squeezed through a window" rather than using misty step. They've got three 2nd-level spell slots, which is enough to misty step in and out with a slot leftover. This moment happens before the encounter starts, but it points to a laziness in how this encounter was conceptualized and executed.

2) Why are the two 9th-level wizards visible when they can both cast greater invisibility? True, the duration is one minute and it requires concentration. But if they're in the alley and hear people enter the merchant's backroom, there's enough time to cast greater invisibility as a precaution. Are the PCs supposed to immediately catch full glimpses of the 9th-level wizards through a narrow window (that the wizards had to squeeze through, so it's not very big) on the far wall of the room they just entered? Sufficient view of the 9th-level wizards and the McGuffin, through a narrow window moments before they zoom off down the alley? Given how the relatively short duration of greater invisibility, the best time is to cast it before you leave the backroom, so that no witnesses spot you during your getaway. Greater invisibility DOESN'T drop if the caster casts another spell. Misty step doesn't require concentration, so they could have cast greater invisibility (which, incidentally, would make the McGuffin invisible, too) before using misty step as a bonus action to leave the backroom.

All of this ignores using those two spells to escape the ensuing chase that's forced onto the PCs.

3) The encounter goes on to say that "[a]s the two masked thieves [i.e. 9th-level wizards] soar away on the carpet, the characters can give chase. Give the characters a moment to spring into action and swiftly come up with their own ways to fly after the thieves. If they don't have a method of flying, [the merchant] produces another carpet of flying and loans it to the characters." After this point, the text moves into the mechanisms of the chase itself.

But what about that narrow window? When the encounter starts, the 9th-level wizards zoom off on their stolen flying carpet. The PCs are inside the merchant's backroom. For this chase to start, each PC must cross the room, squeeze through the narrow window, get on the borrowed carpet of flying, and take off after the thieves. If they do need the borrowed flying carpet, one PC must get that carpet out the window first, follow it out, and set it up so that their friends can hop aboard. Maybe the DM handwaves all of that, but I could see that taking a round or two.

The scenario states that the 9th-level wizards start 120 feet ahead of the PCs in a chase. Assuming that the carpet of flying that can carry 400lbs is a two-person carpet, that size moves at 60 feet per round. So 120 feet ahead is two rounds of movement, assuming no Dash action is taken by the 9th-level wizards. (Why wouldn't they? They're being chased. But maybe they don't.) A carpet of flying that carries more than two people moves more slowly than 60 feet per round. There's no mention of the size of the extra carpet of flying that the merchant has, but if the DM wants to put an entire, four-person party on a carpet, it only moves at 30 feet per round. They'll never catch the 9th-level wizards. None of these rules are mentioned in the text. It's just "give your party a carpet of flying and start the fun!"

What about the spells I mentioned? Even if the 9th-level wizards didn't cast greater invisibility when the PCs burst into the backroom, they can cast it during the chase. Once the 9th-level wizard holding the McGuffin is invisible, that wizard can cast misty step to get off the carpet while they're invisible. How would the PCs spot that maneuver? A 9th-level wizard's been around a long time! They are experts in the use of their spells. They should act like it. Of course, it's ludicrous to send 9th-level wizards to perform this heist/theft in this very non-wizardly way when the designer could have easily used 9th-level rogues or something similar.

This scenario was written by a Senior Game Designer on the D&D design team and presumably vetted by either Jeremy Crawford or Chris Perkins. It's a small part of the larger scenario, but it's the heist/theft part of it. It doesn't inspire confidence that the high-level heist scenarios in Golden Vault are designed and reviewed by people who actually play the game at high levels.
What this tells me is that this was not playtested. Maybe once, by the person who wrote it and some players who were not really digging in to the situation, but most likely not. If they had given this to another DM -and not a buddy of the designer - I suspect many of these things would have come to light, both on the NPC plan side and the mechanical flaws with the chase. Stuff like this shows up in published adventures where some things are glaringly obvious to "outsiders" because no one else ever ran the thing for a separate group of players.
 


What this tells me is that this was not playtested. Maybe once, by the person who wrote it and some players who were not really digging in to the situation, but most likely not. If they had given this to another DM -and not a buddy of the designer - I suspect many of these things would have come to light, both on the NPC plan side and the mechanical flaws with the chase. Stuff like this shows up in published adventures where some things are glaringly obvious to "outsiders" because no one else ever ran the thing for a separate group of players.
An awful lot of WotC's adventures (though definitely not all of them) have a "nobody playtested this" vibe.

To be fair about 30-40% of all adventures for all TTRPGs have that vibe to some degree, but it's unusually high with WotC's ones. Though personally I feel the "We sold you 80% of a campaign, pls fill in the rest" is the biggest possible wind-up you can do lol and WotC specializes in that.

Doesn't stop them making the odd classic like Phandelver.
 

EpicureanDM

Explorer
I guess if you really don't want the PCs to have a flying carpet chase you could implement all the things you mentioned...

EDIT: I think the writers generally write with the assumption that the players aren't masters of the game system, which is why monsters are generally fairly easy and why I nearly always give then max HP and multiple buffs.
I’m all for flying carpet chases. I think we can agree that this encounter isn’t the only way that a flying carpet chase might have been designed and implemented.

My concern is that the professional game designers who work on the official D&D design team writing these encounters and scenarios aren’t masters of the game system. I don’t need to spend $50 on a book of scenarios that are going to hand-wave the game’s rules, especially when the book’s text refers to specific rules in the game rather than some generic concept outside those rules, i.e. a carpet of flying rather than a “flying carpet.”
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
If you could crawl in through an external window it's hardly shielded from anything. Maybe it was so simple to break in that the thieves didn't think it was worth a spell slot?

Most vaults don't have windows!
That reminds of a time in the 80's when we were playing Marvel Super Heroes and the GM had captured me and imprisoned me behind an adamantium door. The rest of my group were outside fighting the bad guys and the DM described me watching the fight through a window in the door. I asked how big the window was and he said 2 feet by 2 feet. So I told him that I break the glass and crawl through. His mouth actually dropped open for a moment, and then I made it out to rejoin my friends.
 

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