Keys from the Golden Vault–Get ready for fun in new D&D book of heists

Review by C.J. Bunce

The previews made it look like Leverage and the result is exactly that.  Wizards of the Coast’s latest Dungeons & Dragons adventure, Keys from the Golden Vault, available for pre-order here at Amazon and in stores tomorrow, has all the tools to put a heist in your next roleplay campaign.  Whether your jam is Mission: Impossible, The Italian Job, Sneakers, The Bank Job, Pink Panther, 21, To Catch a Thief, Army of Thieves, or Leverage, or you even want to just replicate stories from the old D&D Saturday morning cartoons, you can create the ultimate cat burglar, bank robber, tomb raider, jailbreaker, or other brand of thief you can think of, and take him or her into one of 13 new adventures.  With a team.  And a rival team.  And guards and alarms.

It all begins with a secret organization called the Golden Vault.

If you love a great heist story like I do, you’re going to find this anthology to be pretty exciting.  As much fun as the actual heist is going to be creating your own character and assembling a crew.  Each of the 13 adventures begins with a mission briefing, in most cases bringing a team together to procure an object.  The second step is planning the heist, studying the location and obstacles, getting your strategy together, and usually that involves a map.  The third step is executing the plan, with unforeseen obstacles tripping you up–or not.

At the end of the heist, you must decide:  Is that going to be all for your crew or does your team have the stuff to do even more?  Here expect that you can worry less about combat and more about individual characters skills and how a group can come together to complete the mission.

You can use the Golden Vault itself as part of your journey, or not.  The vault has the benefit of a magic box, certainly a clever way to get at least your first mission off and running.  The Golden Vault has some of the qualities of the CIA or KGB–it can help you in more ways than one if you’re plugged into it.  And there’s a handler.  Maybe yours will be like M from James Bond.  Maybe it’s a classic police chief type, or like DC Comics’ Amanda Waller.

You also may encounter a rival crew.  Frankly I’d make sure whoever you come up with for the leader of that rival crew is based on one of the many versions played by actor Mark Sheppard.  And get yourself someone like Bruce Lee’s Kato or a similar character to challenge your skills.  In a sense you’re overlaying the mastermind, hitter, hacker, grifter, and thief, the spy, a good ol’ pickpocket, and/or whatever combination Sam Axe is, over the likes of halflings, dwarfs, and orcs as knights, spies, and thugs to take on your heroes, be they elf or human or other race.  And don’t forget the Golden Vault is rumored to be associated with metallic dragons.

Maybe the treasure you seek is a rare gem, archaeological artifact, or good old cash, and maybe the object is located in a tomb, a museum, a prison, a castle, a wealthy manor, a train (with some interesting train cars), or like in Ocean’s Eleven or 21, a casino.  Or the location isn’t so easy, and you need to search the entire town.  Or maybe the treasure itself has powers.  And maybe you’re not trying to steal something but to destroy it.  You pretty much have a Warehouse 13 full of ideas to pull from.

Armed guards?  Maybe.  Alarms?  Sure.  Supernatural forces?  Could be.  Trap doors, secret rooms, impossible locks?  Almost certainly.  Maybe you’ll find a demon in the conservatory with a guitar pick.  Keys from the Golden Vault has plenty of tables of story hooks for your Dungeon Master to work from.  Motive and the power of names might be “key” to an adventure, so keep your eyes open.

If you like a lot of artwork in your D&D books, Keys from the Golden Vault is for you.  Keys from the Golden Vault is also a big win for anyone who loves a book filled with great maps–you’ll find at least two for each adventure.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it arrives tomorrow.   Keys from the Golden Vault has an alternate cover by Simen Meyer and a standard cover by Anna Podedworna (both shown above).  Incorporate Keys from the Golden Vault into any campaign now for some great fun.  Look for Keys from the Golden Vault in stores tomorrow, and pre-order it today here at Amazon.


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