D&D Stream of Many Eyes Part 1
The Stream of Many Eyes has begun! Wizard of the Coast’s 3 days live stream spectacular kicked off with host Anna Prosser-Robinson and D&D Senior Director Nathan Stewart taking a tour of the street of Waterdeep before Anna hosted a roundtable discussion of the new adventure. Waterdeep: Dragon Heist is revealed!
An incredible set build for the event features storefronts from the City of Splendors, where Anna and Nathan stopped to talk with folks from Roll 20, Idle Champions, BeamDog, the Art & Arcana team and more.
One stop on their walking tour was Pandemonium’s Warehouse, where vendors from Beadle and Grimm’s revealed Waterdeep: Dragon Heist Platinum Edition. The huge boxed set
The tour concluded at the foot (literally) of one of Waterdeep’s Walking Statues, enormous constructs built to defend the city. Nathan teased that some of the mechanics seen in 2017’s Xanathar’s Guide to Everything would be highlighted in the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist.
Stream of Many Eyes roundtable
Anna Prosser-Robinson sat down with D&D Lead Storyteller Chris Perkins, Franchise Creative Director Mike Mearls, Game Designer Kate Welch, and Lead Rules Designer and Editor-in-chief Jeremy Crawford.
Anna started the discussion with a question about streaming and the impact on D&D. She asked the panel of D&D luminaries how developing a community around streaming has become such a big part of the game’s culture.
Chris Perkins is most excited that D&D is demystified for a lot of people, both longtime players and those new to the hobby. Because of the accessibility to see so many games and creative perspectives, he feels people can get into playing easier, quicker, and get inspired by new takes on D&D. He likes getting to see stuff no one has seen before, and streams help spread the message that creating your own content is part of the tradition of D&D.
Jeremy Crawford loves giving people stories to explore and tools to create. It’s also important to him to inspire next generation of D&D designers, who will take stewardship over the world’s greatest roleplaying game in the future.
Before Anna can finish asking what the name of the next adventure is, Perkins bursts out Waterdeep: Dragon Heist!
The adventure is an urban romp inspired by heist films like Oceans 11 and The Italian Job set in a city environment. The goal is to find a treasure trove in Waterdeep before the adventure’s villains can — they’ll be chasing it too, alongside the adventurers who need to keep it out of their hands and stop them from doing nefarious things.
The adventure goals appeal to both greedy and altruistic adventurers. Stopping the villains is a noble act, but chasing a treasure trove hooks in adventurers more interesting in financial gain. There is a time element baked into the adventure, which includes plenty of distractions and side quests,. Can the adventurers stay focused? Or will they get sidetracked and suffer repercussions?
“I love the story because it’s not a world-shattering event.” – Chris Perkins
Waterdeep: Dragon Heist is a grounded adventure, giving players a sense you can lose yourself in the city. Waterdeep is a character in the adventure — possibly the most important character besides PCs. The people of Waterdeep know adventurers and have a “New York, blase attitude towards them.” They’re used to them and the dangers of the fantasy world. Smart characters will get on city’s good side. Waterdeep is your character’s friend…or enemy.
Crawford explained that Waterdeep: Dragon Heist is not only a story but a guide to what it’s like to be in large city, basically the New York City of the Forgotten Realms. Law enforcement, arrests, night life, seasonal changes, holidays, weather, and more details are included to help make Waterdeep come alive. Players can use the city even if they don’t use the story. One of Crawford’s favorite things about it is replayability. Similar to the Tarokka deck mechanic in Curse of Strahd to alter the course of the adventure, a Dungeon Master decides what the villain will be out of four options. This choice determines which season of the year will be important to the story.
In the introductory quest portion, a well-known NPC will bestow a piece of property to adventurers. This tavern will become a home base throughout the adventure, and downtime activities play an important part. Characters will be expected to manage their affairs in city, develop this tavern and more.
Waterdeep: Dragon Heist’s structure will present story, then lead into a long pause before the heist really gets going.
Xanathar plays role in story, too, with mechanics from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything tied in. In particular, the notion of having rivals will come into play, including during downtime activities. Things like running a business and related expenses come into play, to give players opportunities to play a different kind of D&D game and explore their creativity. The goal is to get players to fall in love with the city.
In a broad sense, each D&D adventure is designed to serve wide audiences 5-10 years from now, with a distinctive flavor to each. Waterdeep: Dragon Heist takes place not on edge of civilization like many campaigns, but in the heart of it. This adventure challenges players in different way than other adventures. The critical path could be played through pretty quick, notes Crawford, but there’s enough material to make it quite long. It’s both an epic story and shorter campaign in one adventure.
“[Waterdeep: Dragon Heist] Gives DM’s the ability to sort of accordion the length.” – Jeremy Crawford
When it comes to what the panelists are most looking forward to during the next wave of games, based on Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, the excitement from the assembled team was palpable.
Mearls is most looking forward to what the Dungeon Master’s Guild does with it. It’s rewarding to inspire people to write their own stories and share them.
Kate Welch wants to see a Cheers-style game, like the classic television series, noting the potential for drama between people in a bar. She’d also like to see a mobile app for people to design and share their own Waterdeep taverns. So get on that, coders and app developers!
Perkins mentioned much stuff they couldn’t fit into Waterdeep: Dragon Heist but notes that Adventurers League season tie-ins will be a great place for the additional content. D&D players will have a chance to play a parallel campaign with different style of play.
“[Adventurers League content] It will be one of the most fun experiences people will ever have playing Dungeons & Dragons.” – Chris Perkins
Crawford wants to see all the fan art. He’s excited to see what each party’s tavern looks like.
All the panelists are super excited for an adventure set in a fantastic urban environment. Perkins notes that characters can use the city itself as weapon against enemies. Politics, factions, law, and other aspects of civilization can be worked by characters against their enemies, and side quests for factions can grant special favors.
Crawford reveals that all the major guilds and how to work with them and gain renown are included. Waterdeep is a city so big that almost anything can happen. The city is a character, and an environment where random encounters feel organic. It’s very easy to come up with why random things happening.
“CIties are the best canvas for DM improv.” – Jeremy Crawford
Chris Perkins explains that DM’s can and should feel free to move locations, change NPCs, and be flexible. Crawford pointed out that the size of the city makes the urban adventure more flexible in lots of ways, and DM’s shouldn’t feel intimidated by the huge setting. Cities are constantly changing, he said, so it’s not necessary to memorize every detail. If characters return to a landmark or look for an NPC they encountered before, maybe the shop just closed yesterday or the NPC is on vacation.
Perkins mentioned that the Forgotten Realms City System can be a great help, with tons of tables tailored for Waterdeep and tons of additional details about the City of Splendors included. You can find the City System on the DM’s Guild for digital download here. Waterdeep: Dragon Heist intself will include a big poster map of the city with streets, temples and notable locations marked.
“You should feel like this is your Waterdeep. You can do whatever you want.” – Chris Perkins.
Kate Welch is really looking forward to players comparing Waterdeeps. One of her favorite parts about playing published adventures like this or Adventurers League is swapping stories and tales with other players, telling about how they made the places, people and things their own.
The big question for Waterdeep: Dragon Heist
When can we get our hands on the new adventure story? Waterdeep: Dragon Heist will release in game stores on Sept. 6, and everywhere else on Sept. 18. Of course, the content will also be available through D&D Beyond. No preorders are available at the time of this writing however.
What remains from Stream of Many Eyes?
Saturday, June 2 will showcase several games. Kate Welch explained one bunch of games in particular. Three different games will take place will three live action games taking place simultaneously. She described the live action games as an escape room meets a LARP, with outcomes at the table games affecting the course of them.
Several other games will stream live including Sirens of the Realms, Girls Guts Glory, and Dark & Dicey
On Sunday, June 3, Mark Hulmes will be the DM for Adventure Improbable. Chris Perkins and the Waffle Crew will play Dice, Camera, Action. Deborah Ann Woll will make her live stream debut as a DM for a game, while Mike Mearls will take DM duties for a Jocks Machina game features Joe Manganiello and Travis Willingham
Excited yet? Waterdeep: Dragon Heist sounds incredible and we can’t wait for September for our chance to check out the newest D&D adventure. Who knows? Maybe a heist is getting planned in Gryphongaffe…
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