DMs Guild Review – Skullport: Dragon Swindle

A total conversion mod for Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, taking place in Skullport instead of Waterdeep.

dms guild review

A review copy of “Skullport: Dragon Swindle” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Designed by: Alex Clippinger

I wasn’t exactly a big fan of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. In fact I would comfortably rank it as the weakest official Fifth Edition campaign. Skullport: Dragon Swindle is an interesting total conversion that re-themes that existing adventure, swapping Waterdeep for the underground, black market world of Skullport.

Whatever you want to call it, a total conversion, a mod, or hack, Skullport: Dragon Swindle effectively builds upon and modifies the locations, events, and characters of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. The nearly 100-page adventure takes place in Skullport, the hive of scum and villainy that resides underneath Waterdeep, and acts as part of the Undermountain mega-dungeon in Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage.

Dragon Swindle literally requires Dragon Heist, as many of the story beats and encounters are largely similar, while swapping out cosmetic changes like Waterdeep guards for Xanathar Guild members. Dragon Swindle keeps the weird seasonal Choose Your Own villains approach, replacing them with three new antagonists, a harper, an aboleth, and an uplifted flameskull.

Each of these organizations have their own dedicated chapters for their respective headquarters and lairs, providing three solid new dungeon crawls. Like Dragon Heist, however, they’re not actually integrated into the main narrative.

dms guild review

Dragon Swindle doesn’t set out to fix any of the narrative and structural issues I have with Dragon Heist. I dislike the focus on factions and renown, the odd modular encounter chain of Chapter Three, the multiple, swappable antagonists, and the anti-climactic vault – which isn’t even a damn heist.

All of those issues persist within Dragon Swindle, albeit with a different coat of paint. The designer also uses the same Dyson Logos art style for all the new maps, which was probably a sound decision (so as to fit within the same art style). But I hated the maps with Dragon Heist, and am suitably unimpressed here, despite enjoying the actual map layouts and ideas.

The biggest strength of this unique conversion, besides the excellent villain dungeons, is the Skullport chapter. Like Dragon Heist with Waterdeep and Descent Into Avernus with Baldur’s Gate, Dragon Swindle provides an in-depth, detailed map of Skullport and its many notable locations, denizens, and histories. I’m not sure it’s worth checking out just for the Skullport chapter, but it might be worth considering if you’re running a campaign based around the seedy town.

The converted campaign would also make an interesting backdrop for an evil-PC or anti-hero campaign. I’m still not sold on the Dragon Heist/Dragon Swindle campaigns as written, but a similar adventure based around Skullport, using many of the themes and ideas presented here could prove an effective and memorable campaign for a party of unscrupulous PCs.

Pros:

  • Soundly converts all the events, factions, and locations from Waterdeep: Dragon Heist into Skullport.
  • Three fun, meaty villain lair dungeon crawls.
  • An entire chapter on Skullport’s history, locations, and characters.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t fundamentally change the poor narrative structure of D&D 5E’s weakest campaign.
  • Dyson Logos maps.

The Verdict: Skullport: DRagon Swindle is an impressive total conversion of DRagon Heist with an anti-hero theme, while maintaining the original design.

A review copy of “Skullport: Dragon Swindle” was provided by the publisher. Find more DMs Guild Reviews on my website and YouTube channel.

Support my work by using affiliate links for shopping and pledging via Patreon.

Author: roguewatson

Freelance Writer

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