Book Review: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist

Waterdeep:  Dragon Heist, by Wizards RPG Team

As someone who has read a great many books relating to tabletop role playing games, I am always intrigued when someone attempts to do something different, and this complex campaign does manage to present a compelling gameplay experience in part by offering a lot of options to players (and Gamemasters) as to how they want to take on the quest to recover half a million dragon coins (suitable loot for any party looking to make a splash) in the face of plenty of opposition.  This particular scenario offers a hook for early characters who are interested in becoming powerful figures within Waterdeep, a massive and complex city where there are a lot of criminal as well as governmental influences, making it a fantasy version of a city like Paris or New York or Bangkok in terms of having a seedy underbelly and lots of conflict and intrigue.  I happen to admit that I found this particular scenario very interesting and also thought that the book did a good job at providing several different ways that the scenario could turn out based on how the characters act and who they befriend and who they choose to antagonize, all of which makes for compelling gameplay.

This book is a bit more than 200 pages long, and it begins with a pronunciation guide and an introduction that gives the story overview and comments on how the villain and season for this adventure can vary with four different possibilities.  After that the first chapter starts with a friend in need, which provides the hook for the characters to get involved in the heist mystery (1), and then open their own business and see about joining or leveling up with various factions (2).  After that there is a deadly fireball that leads to more questions as it appears that some very shady characters have been killed (3) and some loose ends are waiting to be discovered.  After this we come to the point where four possible combinations diverge based on what season/villain is chosen (4), all of which lead to various encounters that vary based on the season in the order they are encountered.  The next four chapters provide specific information based on the season chosen, with spring (5), summer (6), fall (7), and winter (8) taken up consecutively, each of them with their own villain and their own special events and locations.  After that there is a discussion of a guide to Waterdeep by Volo (9) and three appendices that include magic items, monsters and NPCs and handouts.

I happen to admit that this is a scenario I would be happy to play or GM, not least because it offers considerable replay value and also can fit in nicely for those campaigns that have a seasonal feel to them.  Also, there are a lot of ways that this particular scenario can help a party out–both by giving a lot of reputation in important factions (like the Harpers and Lord’s Alliance) as well as by providing enough start-up cash to make all kinds of purchases possible, and even allowing for the ownership of businesses and property for characters, all of which makes this the sort of heist adventure that a lot of people will want to get in on.  This is, indeed, precisely the sort of adventure that would be easy to see turned into a movie that demonstrates the cinematic scope of the D&D universe, and of Waterdeep in particular.  And as someone who greatly appreciates gaming adventures that have cinematic scope [1], this is definitely something I appreciate and something that I think would be appealing to a great many other readers and role playing gamers as well.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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