Waterdeep Dragon Heist Campaign Resources

Waterdeep Dragon Heist cover title

Waterdeep Dragon Heist is an beginner adventure for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons. It is designed for PC levels 1 – 5 and is complete urban adventure with a few dungeon crawls. There is a fair amount of investigation and a lot of roleplay. This is not a Hack and Slash adventure. The main antagonists are all several levels higher than the players. Your players will have to use stealth, guile and their wits to defeat them, not brawn.

A unique feature of the adventure is that you can choose from 4 potential candidates for the main villain. You also get to choose what season of the year the adventure takes place; creating a distinct atmosphere for your playthrough. Technically, each villain is attached to a particular season but you can alter that to best suit your campaign.

Nestaurs Summer
My players have arrived at Waterdeep in the month of Kythorn (June), just in time for a hot town, summer in the city, back of my neck getting dirty and gritty.

I like the seasonal aspect of the module but I didn’t want to limit myself to just one. I want my players to experience a full year of adventure in this amazing metropolis. I altered the adventure to allow my players to go up against all four villians at different times, one for each season. There is even the possibility that a previous villain may become an ally to the party. I will include any alterations in case you would like to play the adventure in a similar fashion.

One last note; in my campaign, this adventure follows the same group that played through The Lost Mine of Phandelver. As such, my players are already at 5th level at the start of the adventure. I had to modify all of the combat encounters upward in order to challenge my players. This also allows for the possibility that they may decide to take on some of the villains directly in combat. We shall see how that plays out.

As always, before any campaign, I gave my players a brief summary of adventuring and combat basics – Rules FOUR PAGE. I also gave them a Setting Overview for the Forgotten Realms set in the year 1479 DR, the year of my campaign, leading up to the Second Sundering event – FAERUN 1479. However, the official year of the adventure is 1492DR, so I’ve included a overview for that year as well – FAERUN 1492.

Waterdeep Map Art

What follows is a our complete experience playing this adventure. There are four sections:

The Campaign Diaries – The continuing story of the Saviors of Phandalin, as they spend a year in the grandest city of Faerun, The City of Splendors, Waterdeep. Along the way, they earn a few more titles, open a tavern, get charged with kidnapping and murder, incite a war, and invent popcorn. Oh, and they stumble into the biggest heist Waterdeep has ever seen.

How to Run a Fantasy City – Running a huge urban adventure is one of the greatest challenges for any DM. To do it successfully, you need a ton of extra materials and information not included in the base adventure. Hopefully these resources can help you run your own magical metroplois.

The Maps – All the maps I used to run Waterdeep Dragon Heist, including custom maps and battle mats. The Player Maps have all hidden locations, traps, and secret areas removed. They are also great for a virtual tabletop.

The Handouts – The adventure does not present any handouts for the players. I use handouts all the time to seed future adventure hooks, remind players of current quest objective, and to enhance the reality of my world. I usually print them using a variety of construction and specialty papers cut to fit my printer. The Handouts can be printed as is or used as a starting point for your own creative spin.

And if there is anything else that you think I should have here to help you run your own campaign, please leave a comment.

 

Campaign Diary

 

WDH session1Session 1 – Enroute to Waterdeep, the Savoirs get lost in a toxic swamp, and almost die immdiately when the DM forgets to nerf the badguys.

 

WDH session2Session 2 – Still stuck in the mud, the players stumble onto a demon Lizard King doing demonic things. They help him get home to hell.

 

WDH session3Session 3 – Our heroes finally make it to Waterdeep. But they have hard time getting in when a gaggle of invisible trolls try to crash the gates.

 

WDH session4Session 4 – Now dubbed The Defenders of Trollgate, the group finds the Yawning Portal, the only inn in town, and almost gets eaten by a plant.

 

Kenku AmbushSession 5 – That scamp, Volo, sends our heroes on a wide goose chase. They get caught in a gang war, and then rescue the wrong guy.

 

Trollskull Manor 2Session 6 – Now they own a haunted tavern. They attend a noble party that gets crashed by a man and his miniature giant space hampster.

 

 

 

How to Run a Fantasy City

Waterdeep is an enourmous city and it is easy to be overwhelmed by the logistic of running a sandbox campaign is such a vast setting. I posted an extensive article about tips, tricks, and advice about running Waterdeep or another large urban area. You can read the full article here: How to Run a Fantasy City.  And I’ve included several accessories and PDF files that I used to manage all the minutia.

THE WATERDEEP DIRECTORY

A good directory is the first step to organizing the city. Instead of having to read a boring list each time the players want to buy a sword, you can have the players find it themselves. They’ll feel like a native when they know the address of every tavern in town better than you do. Plus, each address is really just the map’s location number.

Waterdeep Directory
This directory is invaluable in presenting the enormous volume of shops, taverns, guilds, and landmarks in the city. Volo’s Directory to Waterdeep

 

FAERUN CALENDAR

To take full advantage of Dragon Heist’s rich seasonal atmosphere you need to have a good calendar to work out a timeline and schedule special events while incorporating the unique festivals and holidays celebrated in Waterdeep and the Forgotten Realms. Faerun Calendar

NEWSPAPERS

“The press is an invaluable institution, if one knows how to use it.” I use the newspapers to keep the players engaged with the overall story, reminding them of vital elements they may have forgotten, seed potential plot hooks, and present a world greater than just last week’s session. Issue #1 was given to the players after the took ownership of Trollskull Manor.

Waterdeep Wazoo 1
Issue #1 emphasized the gang war pivotal to the Dragon Heist storyline, foreshadowed events during the summer season, and seeded hooks for three different adventures. Waterdeep Wazoo #1

 

The Maps

As always I’ll provide DM and player versions of all the official maps, and all of the battle maps I made during the adventure. But first you need a good map of the city. The first is the one I used in my campaign and all of the location numbers match up to the Waterdeep Directory that I gave my players. The second is a nicer map but all of the location numbers are changed. The locations are all the same though.

Waterdeep Map 1st editon

Waterdeep Map 2nd edition
If you prefer to use this version, you’ll need to change the “Address” numbers in the Directory and write up your own Locations Index.

 

Following are all the maps I used during the “Road to Waterdeep” sessions (Sessions 1-3). These are not part of the official adventure presented in Waterdeep Dragon Heist. They follow my party’s adventures in the Mere of Dead Men, a deadly swamp on the only road between Neverwinter and Waterdeep. I present them as part of my campaign’s story and for anyone interested in using them

Map Phandalin to Waterdeep
For some weird reason, this map does not include Leilon, a village just north of the Mere that nearly killed my group.
Mere Dead Men Map
This map of the swamp includes the locations used in an excellent adventure presented in Dungeon magazine, Issues 69-73. My group visited none of them.
swamp finale map
I used no maps within the swamp, since the group spent the entire time lost and confused. This is the battle map used in the finale against the lizard men. I used blocks of wood to represent the columns that the shaman used during their ritual (and placed them out of melee range).
City Gate map
This is the battle map used at the Gates of Waterdeep duringthe encounter with the invisible trolls.

Okay, now we get into the adventure proper, starting with the Yawning Portal.

Yawning Portal map
The Yawning Portal. It is absolutely ridiculous that in all the accessories, adventures, and articles written about Waterdeep that none of them ever had a good map of the most famous tavern in all of Faerun.
Map DH1.1 Zhent DM web
Map 1.1 – Zhentarim Warehouse – DM version
Map DH1.1 Zhent PC web
Map 1.1 – Zhentarim Warehouse – PC version, the secret door and room are removed.
Map DH1.2 Xan Hideout DM web
Map 1.2 – Xanathar Sewer Hideout – DM version
Map DH1.2 Xan Hideout PC web
Map 1.2 – Xanathar Sewer Hideout –  version. Removed secret doors and passages.
Map DH2.1 Trollskull Alley DM web
Map 2.1 – Trollskull Alley – DM version
Map DH2.1 Trollskull Alley PC web
Map 2.1 – Trollskull Alley – PC version
Map DH2.2 Trollskull Manor
Map 2.2 – Trollskull Manor – Since I hand this to my players, I didn’t make a PC version.

 

The Handouts

 

Waterdeep Code Legal
You should give your players a copy of the Code Legal right off the bat. Having the players get in trouble with the law can open up new avenues of roleplay.
City Gate note
Just a simple note found after the attack of the trolls at the gates. This will lead to further encounters with the Xanathar Guild separate for the module’s gang war. I chose Round Again Alley because the buildings in the alley look like an eye. Incredibly, the players did not immediately realize that the graffiti was a beholder.
Questionaire
When my party first entered Waterdeep, I made them fill out this Customs Survey. I made this up just minutes before the start of a session, but you could seed your’s with questions relevant to your campaign and maybe get your players to share their character’s goals and desires.
Alaundo Prophesy
The ancient prophesy that fortells the events that will occur as the campaign progresses. Much of this will occur after Waterdeep: Dragon Heist. First heard fromn a “madman” outside the Mage’s Guild.
Tesper invitation
This is the invitation I used to introduce the party to noble society in Waterdeep.
Noble Rumors 1
These are the rumor cards that I handed out to my players to overwhelm them with the frivilous and pretentious nature of the nobles without repetitive roleplay. Plus, it gave them a ton of story hooks, foreshadowing and rumors to investigate.

This is still a work in progress. We have just completed Chapter 2 and are about to start the Summer adventure. As we continue through the module, I will add more material as it is created. Stay tuned.