The wizard casts Invisibility, the rogue prepares their Thieves’ Tools, the artificer has a fire bomb at the ready, and the bard is out distracting the party guests with a lewd song. You have successfully made it to the Feywild, infiltrated the elf’s party, and are in position to find the Shard Solitaire… if you are not drawn into the rift it’s just created! This is just one of the many heists that you and your party can get up to in the newest Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) 5th Edition adventure from Wizards of the Coast. Using this adventure book, a Dungeon Master can bring their players through 13 heist-based adventures designed for 1st-11th level characters. While this book can be used to create a heist-centered campaign set across a number of important D&D locales, wherein the party works for the enigmatic and multiplanar Golden Vault, its strength is in its ability to divide these adventures into standalone one-shots that can be played separately or dropped into any number of existing or homebrew campaigns spread across the D&D multiverse!
Written by Justice Ramin Arman, Kate Baker, Makenzie De Armas, Dan Dillon, Brooks Donohue, Amanda Hamon, Tim Hitchcock, Sadie Lowry, Jeffrey Ludwig, Sarah Madsen, Mario Ortegón, Christopher Perkins, Ben Petrisor, and T. Alexander Stangroom and available in traditional 5th Edition binding or a beautiful alternate cover featuring an intricate golden design, Keys from the Golden Vault takes players across the multiverse to engage in a number of heists for good. Players will steal (and occasionally replace) a number of important and often magical items with each mission, with a great cast of non-player characters providing a wealth of important insight, assistance, and rewards to ensure a job well done! These heists rarely go exactly as planned, of course, and the players find themselves in a number of difficult situations that they will have to sneak or fight their way out of in order to successfully complete their mission. This story concept, being a collection of object-focused heists, is a nice change from many traditional D&D adventures where the player’s main objective is to stop and kill a “Big Bad Evil Guy.” With Keys from the Golden Vault’s focus on completing stealthy, secretive, sleight-of-hand missions, players might find themselves building completely different characters than they are used to (maybe the wizard shouldn’t be constantly casting fireball if you’re trying to go undetected). This variety could bring a fun new challenge to your group’s gaming table. The art and maps in this adventure are really impressive as well, and help create a book that is quite beautiful to look at.
The individual adventures themselves are all rather interesting and could be a fun change of pace (and a good source of in-game income) for many Dungeon Masters’ on-going campaigns. The variety of locations in these heists, including the Underdark, the Feywild, San Citlán, and Icewind Dale, means that they can easily be slotted as modules into a number of existing D&D 5th Edition adventures including Out of the Abyss, The Wild Beyond the Witchlight, Journeys through the Radiant Citadel, and Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden. This flexibility really adds a lot of value to these books and can challenge the players with a different goal than they are used to. The various stories of the adventures are really engaging as well, especially for player characters who want to help out others. For example, you will find missions like assisting a departed musician get his prized mandolin back from graverobbers, stopping earthquakes by returning a powerful artifact to its place of honor, and thwarting an efreeti from using the Book of Vile Darkness to conquer the Material Plane. There are hours-upon-hours of fun heists for you and the dice to run!
While there is plenty to like about this book, it does feel like there could be just a bit more to really elevate it to a higher level. Most critically, for a book about magical heists, there are very few new magic items. Of the three new items, only the Shard Solitaire feels like an item with real use outside of this adventure. But more importantly, why aren’t there a number of new magic items involved in these heists? It feels like at least one brand-new magic item per adventure would be a great way to get players to really commit to the heists, gaining abilities and magic their previous characters have never had before. This adventure could also benefit from more new creature stat blocks that could be used outside of this adventure, as they explore a number of locations and planes that are less commonly visited by players, therefore further expanding the lore of the D&D multiverse.
Overall, Keys from the Golden Vault is a great edition to a Dungeon Master’s bookshelf. While there certainly continues to be concerns about the future of Dungeons & Dragons and Hasbro’s/Wizard of the Coast’s decisions concerning the future of the Open Game License 1.0a, the work of the writers, artists, and game designers involved in future publications is not a concern. This book is great, and its applicability either as a full campaign or as an anthology of excellent episodes that can be played as one-shots or inserted into existing campaigns, makes it a great option for your future gaming table.
Keys from the Golden Vault is available starting February 21, 2023, in the US, and starting March 24, 2023, in EMEA. Get it in print at your local game store or indie bookstore or digitally at dndbeyond.com or roll20.net.