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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????

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?

You're insisting 3PPs would do such a scenario differently when as far as I'm aware there are a lot of 3PPs and people writing for them. I know you're not going to find an identical example, but I'd like to know specific examples of 3PP products and/or designers who you do think would have done it better so that I might could check them out for myself. 3PP is admittedly a blindspot for me.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
You're insisting 3PPs would do such a scenario differently when as far as I'm aware there are a lot of 3PPs and people writing for them. I know you're not going to find an identical example, but I'd like to know specific examples of 3PP products and/or designers who you do think would have done it better so that I might could check them out for myself. 3PP is admittedly a blindspot for me.
RE has already cited The Arcane Library.

I will vouch for the Stygian Library, which takes a concept from Discworld and makes it spooky. You generate the adventure on the fly.

Wyvern Songs has a stellar reputation.
 
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Ghost2020

Adventurer
THUD...that's the sound this book will make when it lands.

Well, maybe not...as I don't doubt in a few weeks, a percentage of people will be business as usual in regards to D&D.


Not a fan of the cover. The physics of the rope is all goofy for the character in the cloak. The other one looks great.

Plus the smile makes it look....juvenile? Silly?

Alt cover seems about right. I'm generally impervious to buying them. They look cool, but I'm not doing 'collectible' covers for D&D books.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
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.

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".
Okay, fine.

Yes, you are right.

There, I'm glad we got that settled. ;)
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
It truly is amazing there is no movie tie in product, as far as we know.

What a wasted opportunity to bring new people into the hobby. There should 100% be a boxed set with maps and minis from the movie. Like, 100%.

This is where I agree that D&D is "under monetized" - NOT in milking the extant players for more money to play the same game. D&D has ALWAYS been under monetized by short-sightedness.
 


TheSword

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.
This is all very nice but have you stopped to consider that maybe these mages don’t have misty step and fly? They have a flying carpet… so why would they waste a spell slot with fly when the flying carpet isn’t requiring concentration and can hold multiple people.

I understand designing heists that assume players might have access to key spells. However the NPCs capabilities are entirely within the DMs control. Criticising an adventure for this is a bit weaksauce in my opinion. One of the my biggest criticisms of wizard discussions in 5e is that they assume all spells are ubiquitous. Just because PCs simplify their growing spell knowledge by gaining 2 spells per level it doesn’t mean NPCs act the same.
 
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eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
This is where I agree that D&D is "under monetized" - NOT in milking the extant players for more money to play the same game. D&D has ALWAYS been under monetized by short-sightedness.
You would think making $150 million a year in revenue in a business that, at its base level, requires a very modest one-time purchase and then really nothing else ever again, would be enough. Like, they were making all that money in spite of that fact, it would seem like bad business to try and tie a subscription onto that. If anybody over there running things actually understood the business they are in, they would see that they are making a ton of money already, and that their existing customers are already, voluntarily, over-monetizing themselves. They just need to focus on getting more people to play.
 


You would think making $150 million a year in revenue in a business that, at its base level, requires a very modest one-time purchase and then really nothing else ever again, would be enough. Like, they were making all that money in spite of that fact, it would seem like bad business to try and tie a subscription onto that. If anybody over there running things actually understood the business they are in, they would see that they are making a ton of money already, and that their existing customers are already, voluntarily, over-monetizing themselves. They just need to focus on getting more people to play.
they can never be satisfied not even if everyone living and dead was buying from them, way the things work.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
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?
Mostly only run DCC stuff, though I've read some others.

What I'm proposing, however, is a change of the frame: the weird features of WotC you are noticing are precisely those that I believe arise from extensive playtesting, rather than the lack of it. More tightly written Adventures are more likely not nearly as widely playtested which is why they are tighter. They are based on a priori design principles, instead of the mass scale playtests that WotC does which end up with the loosey-goosey approach.
 

You're insisting 3PPs would do such a scenario differently when as far as I'm aware there are a lot of 3PPs and people writing for them. I know you're not going to find an identical example, but I'd like to know specific examples of 3PP products and/or designers who you do think would have done it better so that I might could check them out for myself. 3PP is admittedly a blindspot for me.
The Arcane Library.

There's a free adventure. If you look at how well-organised, well-conceived, and well-presented the adventure is, and compare that to most WotC efforts that gives one a pretty good idea. I don't even like subject of the adventure very much but it's just really well-done.

And this is something I've seen from various 3PPs - this much higher level of writing, presentation (in the sense of giving you the information you need in usable formats, not as in "the prettiest" or w/e - WotC will usually win on pretty). Sometime it's just simplicity over needless complexity - if you do want to adjust an adventure in the way some people have been discussing it's usually better to have a simple, complete adventure rather than a flashy and complex but incomplete one.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

100% that gnome
What I'm proposing, however, is a change of the frame: the weird features of WotC you are noticing are precisely those that I believe arise from extensive playtesting, rather than the lack of it. More tightly written Adventures are more likely not nearly as widely playtested which is why they are tighter. They are based on a priori design principles, instead of the mass scale playtests that WotC does which end up with the loosey-goosey approach.
Better layout of adventures doesn't necessarily require testing.

I have a hard time believing senior WotC designers don't own a copy of Ptolus or haven't at least looked through it. (I suspect a lot of the doubters on this thread have done neither.) It is transparently a better design for a sourcebook.

Likewise, the Arcane Library adventures are formatted in a way that you take one look at it and say "oh, I get what the reviewers were saying now."

Everyone wanting to go to the wall for WotC adventures (that many of you also gripe about in different threads), go download one of the free Arcane Library adventures so everyone can be discussing the facts at hand, rather than reflexively defending WotC, which seems to be happening in at least some cases.
 

Mostly only run DCC stuff, though I've read some others.

What I'm proposing, however, is a change of the frame: the weird features of WotC you are noticing are precisely those that I believe arise from extensive playtesting, rather than the lack of it. More tightly written Adventures are more likely not nearly as widely playtested which is why they are tighter. They are based on a priori design principles, instead of the mass scale playtests that WotC does which end up with the loosey-goosey approach.
I flatly do not believe it.

You don't get giant holes in campaigns because of playtesting. You don't get no heists in an adventure called Dragon Heist because of playtesting. Playtesting leads you to finding the problems, not leaving the problems. And let's be clear - this isn't a "5E problem". This was a problem in 4E and to a lesser extent 3E. 4E had some of the absolute worst adventures WotC has ever put out - some border on the entirely incoherent. Don't even get me started on Keep on the Shadowlands.

It's not about "tight design" either, I'm not sure where you're getting that from - I'm talking about high-quality explanations and well-outlined plots and so on. Stuff that, in practice, means the DM isn't tripping over their feet when they run it. Sometimes it's about KISS too. The scenario discussed earlier was a good example of that - that was just a bad scenario design, and unnecessarily complex. They could equally have just had the PCs be in an alley, see the guys pulling the samovar out the window, and have the merchant be right next to the PCs and hand them the (super?) flying carpet to pursue - it would get you much closer to the actual starting scenario (120' distance, both groups on flying carpets). The needless complexity smacks of a DM who doesn't really know what they're doing (certainly in terms of writing adventures for others to run).
 
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