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Waterdeeps -- Why two very different adventures linked?

Old DiceMan

Registered User
Validated User
#1
Waterdeep: Dragon Heist is an urban adventure that is, for lack of a better term, flexible-narrative. Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage is a classic megadungeon crawl.

One product is linked to the other -- and the levels 1-20 are split across the two. But why? They appeal to very different tastes in gaming. Certainly some folks will enjoy both for their relative merits, but I think that would be the exception, not the rule.

I found it strange that while the former adventure very explicitly addresses the kind of game play -- and even addresses subgenres of that game play across the various choices given the DM, the latter addresses absolutely nothing about the kind of game play it is geared toward.
 

Crinos

Be inspired!
Validated User
#2
As someone who is doing a lets read of both books, this is my read.

Dragon Heist is meant to set up the city of Waterdeep for the PC's to establish it. All throughout the adventure the PC's come across famous locations in the city, meet famous figures, fight its classic villains, and set up a home base in the city. Basically Dragon heist is meant to establish the groundwork so the players have something to return to when they start going down into Undermountain for long stretches.

I mean, the very first fight encounter in Dragon Heist is when a troll and some stirges climb up out of Undermountain in the Yawning portal, so its always there, in the background, it just becomes more relevant when the PC's get strong enough to go down there.

Basically both adventures are meant to give a comprehensive look at Waterdeep as a whole. Dragon Heist shows off the city proper, and Dungeon of the Mad Mage shows off Undermountain.
 

Calypso

Bunny With a Glock
Validated User
#3
To your first question: because *mumble mumble* reasons. I think it was because they're both set in/around Waterdeep (in as much as you can consider Undermountain to be in/around Waterdeep), and because they wanted to provide a new "1-20" experience with the material they had in the pipeline. But that's conjecture on my part. I agree that the two are wildly different in terms of style.

As to your second question, I honestly think it comes down to not having room to cram everything they might have wanted into DOTMM. It's already a heft book, with VERY sparse descriptions and plot. Trying to add additional pages on approaches and genres of megadungeons would have been too much.

As an aside, I really resent the approach they took to the maps in DOTMM. Compare them to the maps in Storm King's Thunder, with their full color glory and attention to detail. I can easily describe a room from nothing more than the map itself. Or even compare them to Dragon Heist, which, while B&W, at least include some features and interesting items in the rooms. Whereas DOTMM it is barebones, room outlines and doors. It's so much more work to run and, if you don't put in some work to add those details, the players are going to be less immersed, IMHO.
 

Old DiceMan

Registered User
Validated User
#4
As an aside, I really resent the approach they took to the maps in DOTMM. Compare them to the maps in Storm King's Thunder, with their full color glory and attention to detail. I can easily describe a room from nothing more than the map itself. Or even compare them to Dragon Heist, which, while B&W, at least include some features and interesting items in the rooms. Whereas DOTMM it is barebones, room outlines and doors. It's so much more work to run and, if you don't put in some work to add those details, the players are going to be less immersed, IMHO.
I think I saw someone (maybe you?) make this same comment in another thread. I agree. I can understand it is probably cost prohibitive (23 rather large maps), but without a lot of DM text blocks to read, it really is a deficit.
 

Crinos

Be inspired!
Validated User
#5
I like the Mad Mage dungeons for two reasons:

1) They're a call back to the classic old school dungeon crawl dungeon maps.

and

2) Each of the map only represents a small portion of that level, with sections going off to build more off of, that means you can fit pretty much anything into these dungeons aside from the main areas.
 
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