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Designed by: Christian Eichhorn
If you’ve read or watched my review of last year’s Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, you know that one of my complaints was there was no actual bloody heist in the campaign! DMs Guild veteran Christian Eichhorn has designed a series of heists that take place around Waterdeep to help fill this void.
The first in the Waterdeep Shadow Heist series is “The Great Wyrm Theft,” set at a noble’s mansion during a big dinner party. The PCs’ goal is to sneak in, grab a valuable gem and sneak out, before the gem is sold at the end of the evening. It’s a neat setup, though the mansion itself is disappointingly mundane.
“The Great Wyrm Theft” is divided into three parts with part one detailing the mission and adventure background, part two providing the room-by-room layout of the mansion, and part three explaining the NPC attendees as well as a helpful timeline of events.
The book is laid out in a fun vintage style that resembles a weathered dime store novel, complete with painted character portraits. The PCs are given a simple mission by a local thieves guild contact (your PCs are cool with stealing shit right? This is a heist after all!) to steal a 10,000 gp ruby from a mansion. The catch is you have only a few hours to steal it, as it’s being sold off at the end of the party to a mage who will simply teleport away.
I wish we were given firm options to provide PCs with several different avenues on how to approach the heist. Can they impersonate dinner guests with disguises? Drop in from the roof? Offer to buy the ruby? Take someone hostage? What happens when someone is caught? Are there any guard patrols?
None of these questions are really answered. I understand that trying to create an adventure for unpredictable PCs is always a difficult undertaking – but that’s exactly why it’s nice to provide the PCs with options that you can plan for. The one alternate path is a sewer entrance in the alleyway that the PCs start in, giving them easy access to the mansion cellar.
The mansion itself is shockingly mundane. In a world where magic isn’t at all uncommon, these nobles use regular old locked doors and safes. There are no traps, no monsters, no anti-magic deterrents – very little in the way of actual danger.
This leads me to believe that this heist is designed for low level parties, which is perfectly fine, except that the rewards for completing the main and bonus objects are hundreds and hundreds of gold! I would’ve preferred to see a more firm level range, and then some tweaks to the numbers to make the heist more challenging or more rewarding.
Part Three details some of the NPCs that attend the dinner party. More important characters are given full paragraphs, such as the buyer Nahm-Din and the lovable friend from Dragon Heist, Volo Geddarm. Others are given single sentences to help flush out an otherwise room full of nobodies, but I was impressed with how well these characters come to life with such a brief description.
The best part of the adventure is the timeline. These events help break up the monotony and provide avenues for PCs to either get involved – or specifically un-involved to get away and loot the mansion, such as several guests retiring to a private room for entertainment, or the classic drunken insult duel being taken outside.
Unfortunately there’s not quite enough information to run the heist properly, such as guard patrols, and how the mansion and its denizens react if they’re on high alert (knowing there’s danger but haven’t yet found it)., as well as what the hell happens if the PCs get caught. The lack of information is exacerbated by the bare-bones maps that show basic room configurations and little else.
I enjoy a good heist and there’s certainly enough here to run a fun one-shot exploration-heavy adventure, but I’m hoping subsequent heists allow for more exotic locations, challenging barriers, and detailed security information.
- Enjoyable dime novel design featuring weathered pages and painted character portraits.
- Over a dozen NPCs to interact with.
- A well-detailed timeline of events spanning the seven hour party.
- Secret Objectives offer more rewards for additional sleuthing.
- Bare-bones, unattractive maps.
- Lacks some critical information, such as what happens if the PCs get caught, or if (when) the mansion goes on high alert.
- No level ranges are provided. Danger level seems easy while rewards seem very substantial.
The Verdict: “The Great Wyrm Theft” Ultimately plays it safe with a mansion dinner party heist while providing a well-detailed timeline and plenty of NPCs to utilize.
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