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This weekend Wizards of the Coast is holding an epic event with hours of streaming tabletop games, but before it all got started, we were introduced to the upcoming new adventure for Dungeons & Dragons, Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. As the title implies, the adventure is focused on the classic Forgotten Realms city of Waterdeep. While many Dungeons and Dragons adventures send the players out into the perils of the natural environment, like forests or caves, Dragon Heist is designed to be a more urban story that has players exploring the city. Along with the more urban setting, comes a fitting story more at home with more modern urban adventures, the heist. At the beginning of the Stream of Many Eyes livestream event, Dungeons & Dragons writer Chris Perkins explained...
An urban romp, inspired by heist films, hence the title, hence half of the title. A lot of the inspiration was things like Ocean's Eleven and The Italian Job, in a city environment. Where the main goal of the adventure is to try to find a trove of treasure hidden in the city that villains are chasing after.
Dungeons and Dragons is designed to let any sort of adventure take place, so many players have probably been through a heist of their own, but it's certainly a unique idea for a Wizards of the Coast campaign. The appeal is obvious though. Imagine an Oceans Eleven like experience that has you talking your way into a fortified location before you sneak into a vault to retrieve a valuable object. Then you get to experience the chase that follows when everything falls apart because this is D&D and it almost certainly will.
Perkins explained that this adventure was intentionally designed to be very different from the ones that came before it, and clearly, based on what inspired it, that certainly appears to be the case. Frequently, cities are the place where adventures start and end, but in between they go elsewhere. Here, the expectation is that the city itself will be the home of the adventure. One thing that isn't different from traditional games is that treasure lies at the heart of the game, but in this case, the players are racing to beat the villains to it.
That doesn't mean that the entire adventure runs at a breakneck pace. Chris Perkins also revealed that Waterdeep: Dragon Heist is the first D&D adventure with built-in downtime. There's an expectation that the characters may take a break now and then, and there will be some side activities, like owning and running a tavern, as one example that was given, that players will be able to engage in. Cities also mean lots of NPCs, which means lots of opportunity for role-playing. This may not be the perfect module for players who love combat focused games.
Dragon Heist also has the potential for more replayability than other adventures could. At the beginning of the campaign, the Dungeon Master will choose one of four possible villains to be part of the story. This decision has far-reaching implications as it actually impacts the season the story takes place in as well, meaning that each villain drastically changes the game. Play again with another villain and get a very different game.
There's a lot of potential in Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. If you check out the Stream of Many Eyes this weekend you'll be able to get a glimpse at what's on the way when the new book arrives in September.