Thursday, November 30, 2023

‘Keys From The Golden Vault’ Review Part Two: I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

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Masterpiece Imbroglio

Constantori’s Portrait, the MacGuffin of this heist from Keys from the Golden Vault
Constantori’s Portrait, the MacGuffin of this heist

How do you steal from master thieves? That’s the core question here, which turns the classic art heist plot on its head by pitting your crew against the Agile Hand, who’s guildhouse you’re tasked with infiltrating to retrieve a famous and priceless magical portrait. What I love about this one is that it’s clear that the guild knows how thieves operate, so the players have to really think outside the box in order to get to their quarry without being detected.

Axe from the Grave

This adventure stands out as the “light” adventure of the book, being more focused on comedy than the exciting drama of the rest. You’re chasing down a magic lute called the Golden Axe so…’nuff said. There’s some beautiful dark humor here as a bard’s zombified corpse haunts a cute little halfling village balanced with the silliness of two halflings showing you a map by building it as a sandcastle. There’s heavy roleplaying to be had and a fun final “culprit” to interact with, and it’s the perfect little caper to help break up any campaign.

Vidorant’s Vault

Nixylanna Vidorant from Keys from the Golden Vault
Nixylanna Vidorant

“Vidoran’s Vault” is a fun homage to the classy auteur thief, the kind you might find in a 70’s euro heist. All class and in it for the thrill rather than profit. Your players will find themselves caught between two master thieves, Samphith Goldenbeard of the Silver Finger Society and Nixylanna Vidorant, from whom you’re stealing. Ultimately who you side with comes with consideration of benefits and the respect you can gain by skill alone, helping players cement themselves as elite burglars no matter the outcome.

Shard of the Accursed

This adventure a great “double whammy” in that it’s not just a different sort of heist but also one in a unique setting. “Shard of the Accused” is in the book’s words a “reverse heist,” in that the crew is working to put something BACK rather than steal it. And instead of taking place in a classy establishment or fantastic setting, it’s in essentially a magical archaeological dig. There’s even a little heartbreaking story about a lovelorn giant in the middle just to make things extra interesting.

Heart of Ashes

We make a return to horror fantasy in this adventure, where an Evil Queen has stolen the King’s heart for a ritual that threatens to destroy the town. Stealing a heart is not the regular fare for heists, but then again neither is a giant death vortex in the sky. I appreciate that this adventure could easily slot into a campaign or expanded into one thanks to a compelling villain and lots of possible routes to go down.

Affair on the Concordant Express

That’s right we’ve got a Mind Flayer Detective

Silliness and seriousness come in equal measure here, which combines a Agatha Christie style murder mystery with the heist as you chase down a demon who has the true names of some powerful folks. It’s up to you to traverse the train and survive the Stranger as Ignatius Inkblot fights to keep the Blood War from getting too hot.

Party at Paliset Hall

Bust out your party duds for this one. Taking place at the Winter Solstice Gala of Lady Zorhanna Adularem who’s magical necklace is more powerful than she assumes. Unlike our last gala, the party IS the heist and you have to try to get a hold of the MacGuffin before time runs out and it opens an extradimensional portal. Also some hags crash the party so you know, have fun with them.

Fire and Darkness

Keys From The Golden Vault ends with a hell of a bang in the final adventure that pits the crew against a true tyrant who has gotten his hands on one of the most infamous items in all of Dungeons & Dragons: The Book of Vile Darkness. All of your skills as planners and thieves have to go into this story since Brimstone Hold is a lava drenched fortress of evil straight out of Mordor. The stakes are higher than ever, as the efreeti Vrakir has devastating plans for his new toy and if the adventurer’s fail, more than one world is in danger.

Images via Dungeons & Dragons

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  • Dan Arndt

    Fiction writer, board game fanatic, DM. Has an MFA and isn't quite sure what to do now. If you have a dog, I'd very much like to pet it. Operating out of Indianapolis.

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