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Designed by: Christian Eichhorn
“Autumn Blues” is the third one-shot adventure in Christian Eichhorn’s Waterdeep Shadow Heist trilogy, and like the others it’s designed as a straightforward heist mission from the local thieves guild. Unlike the first two adventures, “Autumn Blues” features a surprise underground dungeon as the PCs get the chance to shake down an entire criminal enterprise.
The adventure is structured very similarly to the first two heist adventures in the series, physically and narratively. I still like the weathered dime store pulp novel layout and the painted character portraits.
Once again the party is called upon by their thieves guild contact to steal a MacGuffin. In this case, an expensive pearl necklace belonging to a noblewoman.
The catch is, the noblewoman is the one that hired you for the job. She left the necklace at the home and art gallery of Autumn, an eladrin artist with whom she’s having an affair with. Unbeknownst to everyone, the eladrin’s art gallery also serves as a front for his drug pusher Colvert’s criminal enterprise, including making and selling drugs, printing coins, and kidnapping the subjects of Autumn’s art.
That’s a lot of interesting set up, and the PCs really don’t know any of it when they begin the heist. The art gallery doesn’t have much of anything going on, however; a few rooms to pick locks and find treasure. The timeline, while nice, doesn’t quite have as many interesting events as the first two heists – other than a kidnapping that should clue the PCs in to what’s really going on.
Ultimately they’ll need to locate a trapdoor that leads to an ancient underground crematorium that serves as Colvert’s base of operations. Here the adventure switches gears from heist to a more standard dungeon crawl. It’s a neatly designed dungeon, with tight winding hallways and checkpoints with guards. A semi-puzzle features a bunch of trial-and-error chains on ropes to open secret doors to the cremation room, though it amounts to little other than chatting with a ghost.
The dungeon adds a lot of flavor to the heist and helps elevate it above the others. But it’s a shame that the heist itself is weak, and once again we’re not given proper information on the NPC reactions and consequences to player actions. Knocking down an entire criminal organization, including rescuing enslaved hostages, seems to go against the heists’ themes of get in and get out without being caught.
Overall “Autumn Blues” is probably the strongest of the three heists thanks to the interesting dungeon, but it’s not without its flaws.
- Enjoyable dime novel design featuring weathered pages and painted character portraits.
- Timeline of events.
- Surprise dungeon, with a fun layout and a decent map.
- Art gallery maps are bare-bones.
- No level ranges are provided.
- Lacks NPC reactions and consequences.
The Verdict: The surprise secret underground dungeon adds much-needed depth to “Autumn blues,” the third adventure in the Shadow Heist series.
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