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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Parmandur

Book-Friend
This is the company that let the original 5% royalty deal on Star Wars toys lapse in 1991 for lack of paying a $10,000 maintenance fee...

[I'd hate to be the one in a big company take over who had to chase all of the paperwork.]
Yes, because in 1991 the license was not worth $10,000 because Lucas starved them out. That would be one of the historical lessons that is preserved in the institutional memory of Hasbro: hence their quest for their own film property to make toys for.
 

You can keep saying it but it's laughably obviously untrue because so many 3PP adventures show it to be untrue.

Could you provide more concrete examples of ways specific 3PP adventures do these sorts of encounters better?

Personally I pretty much never run a combat encounter as written anymore. I design them with the abilities of my players' PCs in mind as depending on party composition a static encounter could either be easy or very hard.

For example, I might add vertical and liquid surfaces for a monk to traverse and extra low CR mooks for them to deal with while I'll have multiple creatures that can wreak havoc if a high damage dealer like a rogue doesn't put them down quickly.
 

Stormonu

Legend
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.
"Let them run. We have Locate Object, and we know exactly what they stole."
 


Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Yes, because in 1991 the license was not worth $10,000 because Lucas starved them out. That would be one of the historical lessons that is preserved in the institutional memory of Hasbro: hence their quest for their own film property to make toys for.

$10k doesn't feel that horrible on the off chance that he would produce something again. But maybe he was convincing in saying he was done.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
$10k doesn't feel that horrible on the off chance that he would produce something again. But maybe he was convincing in saying he was done.
Lucas was extremely adamant that there would never be more Star Wars, and 1991 was 8 years after the last new giant toy commercial hit theatres....and indeed, 6 years till the next.

Why would Hasbro keep paying for norhing...?
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
$10k doesn't feel that horrible on the off chance that he would produce something again. But maybe he was convincing in saying he was done.
It's more like over $20k in today's US dollars since things have slightly more than doubled since 1991.

But I suspect it's more that the market for Star Wars action figures wasn't large enough in 1991 to justify the expenditure. Not that the Star Wars market had entirely dried up, but it was probably small enough that they'd recoup their costs and make a little more. It's likely there were other toys that would make them more money that they could devote their efforts to.

And a lot of the reason it had dried up was because there wasn't any new major Star Wars coming out and Lucas kept saying he was done. I may be misremembering, but IIRC the Star Wars properties started picking up interest again when the Thrawn trilogy hit and the first book of that series dropped in 1991. And even there I don't know what kind of impact the books would have had on the toy market.
 

That's fine. Agree to disagree. Although I assume when you say that you think my theory about DMing styles you think is wrong, it's not the part about there being a lot of different styles, right? It's rather that you think a single adventure can serve all of them relatively equally?
So, I'm going to be honest here.

I'm taking this as you admitting you've never even read a 3PP adventure.

That really just proves my point.

I think it's better to design an adventure to play well, even if it "only" plays well for 70-80% of DMs, than to design it really badly, present it really badly, and try to come up with an excuse that it's "for everyone", lol. I'd suggest WotC's adventures are, by and large, not "for everyone", they're "for no-one".
Once you step out of trying to imagine a Platonic "Well Designed Adventure" and look at the more practical al question of utility for how most people apparently play, the perspective shifts a fair bit.
So now, @Parmandur I'm asking you. Have you ever read or run a 3PP adventure? If so what? I know you're not keen on 3PP stuff, but it's huge deal to your perspective here.

And that's exactly the perspective I'm using - "how most people play" - that is the benchmark. That is why adventures like those by The Arcane Library are absolutely brilliantly designed and presented, compared to WotC's adventures. I have no idea what other measure you think I'd be using? What did you think I was using?
 

Stormonu

Legend
It's more like over $20k in today's US dollars since things have slightly more than doubled since 1991.

But I suspect it's more that the market for Star Wars action figures wasn't large enough in 1991 to justify the expenditure. Not that the Star Wars market had entirely dried up, but it was probably small enough that they'd recoup their costs and make a little more. It's likely there were other toys that would make them more money that they could devote their efforts to.

And a lot of the reason it had dried up was because there wasn't any new major Star Wars coming out and Lucas kept saying he was done. I may be misremembering, but IIRC the Star Wars properties started picking up interest again when the Thrawn trilogy hit and the first book of that series dropped in 1991. And even there I don't know what kind of impact the books would have had on the toy market.
Yeah, keep in mind that at that time the last movie - Return of the Jedi - had come out in 1983. The last TV series - Ewok Adventure 2 - had come out in 1985. For all intents and purposes, Star Wars had laid dormant for 6-8 years at that time.
 

Could you provide more concrete examples of ways specific 3PP adventures do these sorts of encounters better?
????

I'm not sure what you're asking here.

Many 3PP designers would have carefully considered the mechanics of the scenario and simply not made the weird decisions/errors that this designer did. I'm not sure how it even be possible to provide a "concrete example" because how would that even work? Surely we'd need a nearly-identical 3PP adventure to it?
Personally I pretty much never run a combat encounter as written anymore. I design them with the abilities of my players' PCs in mind as depending on party composition a static encounter could either be easy or very hard.
Cool.

Irrelevant.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
So, I'm going to be honest here.

I'm taking this as you admitting you've never even read a 3PP adventure.

That really just proves my point.
That's fine. Feel free to take from it what you like. But I do not see any need to try and "prove" myself to you, because quite frankly I don't really care whether you believe me or not. And considering the types of things I've seen you write about in the past about what you find important to you when playing or running D&D... I'm pretty sure we don't see the game the same way. So even things I would say were good about an adventure in an effort to "prove" something to you... you quite possibly would disagree with it and say it was bad. And stuff you thought were absolute necessities for quality I'd look at and go "Really? That's what you find important?"

So no harm, no foul. We're just different people with different tastes. :)
 

But I do not see any need to try and "prove" myself to you, because quite frankly I don't really care whether you believe me or not.
What is there to believe?

You've made no claim. I asked. You didn't answer. So the only logical assumption can be that the answer is no. You didn't claim you did read 3PP ones. Not even by implication.
So no harm, no foul. We're just different people with different tastes. :)
No.

I'm looking at what makes a pre-written adventure be suitable for most groups - stuff like information being presented well and organised, the adventure being explained well, a lack of serious plot-holes which could derail the adventure (the PCs will be doing enough on their own lol!), maps being used well, the adventure being basically complete (it's easy to alter once it's complete if you need to, but you also don't have to). NPCs being presented well with their motivations and quirks explained quickly and clearly, rather than many paragraphs of waffle, or just nothing about them.

That's not to do with taste except if you're saying your different taste is "adventures that are poorly presented and disorganised, where the adventure isn't explained well, if at all, where there are tons of plotholes to help derail the adventure, where the adventure is incomplete, and where NPCs are either given zero motivation/personality detail, or many paragraphs of waffle".
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
Well, I haven't seen the Arcane Library nor any of the Paizo adventures, so I cannot confirm or deny your statements. All I can say though is that if you really like them, then at the very least they are written to work for your particular style of DMing. Which is great for you... but who knows if they would work for anyone else without having to do the same amount of work to "fix" things as people say they have to do for WotC's?
You should pick up one of the Arcane Library adventures. There's at least one free one on the company website and I believe there's a free one at DriveThruRPG as well. And you can get another free one by signing up for their mailing list (which you can then unsubscribe to).

They're actually very spare with just the amount of information needed to play. But it's exactly the right amount of information needed to play. More than once, I have picked up an adventure cold and successfully DMed all the way through it to good effect.

Kelsey (the writer behind Arcane Library) runs circles around most other writers in terms of organization and identifying and providing critical information. (It helps that she had a different writing career -- print journalism -- before being a full time adventure writer.)

WotC can and should be taking notes, as should everyone else, just as no one has an excuse, 16 years later, to not organize and annotate their RPG supplements the way Monte Cook does. Both organizational methods are free and can be used by anyone. Poorly organized books are a choice.
 




eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
Looks neat.

Too bad too, since I was looking forward to this to make up for the there being no player involved heists in Dragon Heist.

Depending on what happens I may have to wait for a used copy to pop up.
 

Weiley31

Legend
I wonder if the Wizkids “biggie” mini of the quasit is supposed to coincide with the release of this adventure.

Also, I’m fine with it ending at level 11. I have no love of “Avengers Assemble” that the game becomes past 9th level.
Tyranny of Dragons IS the "Avengers Assemble" of 5E pretty much.
 

Stormonu

Legend
BTW, the face on that rogue looks unnaturally realistic - as if it's someone specific. Anyone got some face recognition software to see if it's somebody real?

Also between Strixhaven and Golden Vault, it looks like this could be the basis for class-themed adventures. Maybe we could get a war epic (or would SotDQ count?) for fighter-types, religious quests for cleric/paladin types (Crusades Against the Nightlords ?) and some sort of wilderness exploration theme for Barbarian/Druid/Ranger?
 

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