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Vault of the Dracolich (D&D Next)

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Deep in the forest of Cormanthor lies the hoard of the dracolich Dretchroyaster, the prize of which is a diamond staff rumored to unlock the secrets of an ancient elven kingdom. The sage Imani is seeking dozens of adventurers to launch an all-out assault on the undead dragon's lair. The dracolich is a powerful foe - too great for even several parties to conquer - so it's going to take all of the heroes' courage, cunning, and speed to survive the dracolich's deadly vault.

"Vault of the Dracolich" is a Dungeons & Dragons Roleplaying Game adventure designed for the June 2013 D&D Game Day. The challenge draws inspiration from the interactive format used at some gaming conventions.

The adventure includes one full-color, double-sided battle map.


Product History

“Vault of the Dracolich” (2013) is a marvel. Designed for the June 2013 D&D Game Day, it's playable in two to five hours with D&D Next rules, and is built for four to six 4th-level heroes. The adventure is designed to accommodate up to four tables playing the game at once; in a convention scenario, players and DMs have the option of communicating with other game tables, while the event coordinator takes on the role of the dracolich to menace each group.

Sound unusual? It is, and it's tremendously fun.

Together, Yet Separate. In order to have up to four different tables playing this adventure simultaneously, each group of adventurers enters the dungeon in a different location. There are four different areas an adventuring group can use for access. The heroes must find idols that give them access, conquer the local monsters and guardians, all while assiduously avoiding the dracolich as it pursues intruders. It's an unusual and innovative approach to adventuring.

How's it work? Judging by post-game-day reports? Superbly. The convention organizer moves about, threatening adventurers when the dracolich tracks them down; tables briefly come together and then separate, exchanging resources and coordinating plans; and, in the role of the sage who organized the assault, offering limited advice.

Interestingly, the scenario works equally well as a single-party experience, although some of the novelty is lost. But this is how most groups at home will experience the adventure, I expect. There's some comfort in that the adventure is stated to be lethal; should a group fall, their new heroes can come in from a different approach.

Multiple Approaches. Not only are there multiple ways to close in on the dracolich's central lair in the heart of the underground complex, but there are also a variety of strategies that the heroes can use to get there. Groups that rely solely on one strategy, whether sneakiness or smacking monsters, will probably have some difficulty. The adventure is exceptionally well-designed, and various creative approaches are required for PCs to move through the complex safely. Enemies may be defeated, fooled, or co-opted with role-playing; regardless, it will take canny and aware players to succeed.

The adventure is also notable because it's no longer just the DMs who get the awesome maps. “Vault of the Dracolich” includes a beautiful player map that lacks only details that the DM alone should know about. With luck, it helps the heroes know exactly which way to run when they need to fall back, charge forward, or make a final stand.

This adventure is a showcase for the fast-paced, fun style of play that D&D Next can offer. The feel is quite different from the one-encounter-per-game experience of the D&D Encounters sessions of recent years. If you want a taste of an accessible and exciting introductory adventure that doesn't skimp on danger – or if you just want to see how D&D Next is shaping up – then you'll want to pick this up.

About the Creators. Mike Shea is a writer and game designer who runs Sly Flourish, a website and Twitter feed dedicated to building better D&D 4th edition DMs. He has written three books on Dungeons and Dragons: Sly Flourish's Dungeon Master Tips, The Lazy Dungeon Master, and Running Epic Tier D&D Games. He also writes freelance Dungeons and Dragons articles for Wizards of the Coast and is the author of a few other books, including Seven Swords and Vrenna and the Red Stone and Other Tales.

Scott Fitzgerald Gray is a writer, screenwriter, editor, story editor, script consultant, writing teacher, and designer and editor of roleplaying games. You can find his work at

As an organized play administrator and the author and game designer of multiple adventures, Teos Abadia is a freelancer for Wizards of the Coast who also happens to have one of the coolest names in gaming. You'll find him on Twitter at @alphastream.

About the Product Historian

History and commentary of this product was written by Kevin Kulp, game designer and admin of the independent D&D fansite ENWorld. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

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 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (6)
Discussions (22)
Customer avatar
JD B November 17, 2022 2:56 am UTC
I would like to use this, especially the map on Roll 20 - which I had hoped would work easily by dragging and dropping the PDF, but I can't make a copy of the map image without being asked for a password.
Customer avatar
Andy R February 16, 2022 10:58 pm UTC
WHere can you find the stat blocks for the monsters/encounters?
Customer avatar
Shane M February 01, 2022 7:00 am UTC
how easy is it to run these NEXT adventures with 5e?
I know they were the precursors/playtest/whatever for 5e, but how much changed when 5e came out?

Customer avatar
Tim S October 12, 2019 11:25 pm UTC
Anyone have any idea on the print size to pick to get the 2nd map to print with 1" squares? I was going to take the file over to some professions to print on their large machines. Thanks!
Customer avatar
Matt B May 24, 2019 7:21 pm UTC
Great POD copy.
Customer avatar
Eternal Realms ? November 23, 2018 9:17 pm UTC
Before i waste more money on the print version, how many pages is this?
Customer avatar
Eternal Realms ? November 23, 2018 9:42 pm UTC
Nevermind, i just saw it's 26
Customer avatar
Teos A April 20, 2018 5:51 pm UTC
Should it be of interest, one of the authors (Mike Shea) has created a conversion guide for 5E (from the original D&D Next playtest version of 5E):
Customer avatar
Keegan D September 04, 2017 9:25 pm UTC
So, to be clear, does the PDF/Print version of this contain everything that a store might need to run this under the 5th Edition rule set? Not /simply/ run it, but actually do the full multi-table event as was intended?
Customer avatar
David H March 29, 2017 10:10 pm UTC
Why isn't there an option for a Premium Heavyweight print? I bought the EE Player's Companion (same number of pages) in Premium and I love it. I'd rather pay a bit more for that level of quality.
Customer avatar
Derek E March 30, 2017 1:52 am UTC
I agree entirely. There are a few other issues too. The PDF includes the two-sided battlemap, but will the printout include this? The GameDay exclusive had a large, gorgeous map, but it's unclear if that's included with the print purchase. In addition, I'm a little disappointed that they waited 4 years on this and yet didn't bother to fully convert it from NEXT to 5e. To go along with this, there's also a 13 page supplement with monster stat blocks that don't appear to be included as well. Again, this would have been easy to add to the print version.

I love the Print-on-Demand products, owning both EE:PC and Scourge of the Sword Coast, but this one seems very poorly executed IMHO.
Customer avatar
Gustavo S May 30, 2017 11:30 pm UTC
i think that's because the adventure it's mainly B&W pages. i just received mine and comparing with the EE suplement or even the Scourge of the Sword Coast, it seems exactly the same. the only color in this adventure is the characters and the maps and yes, there's no large map, you get what's in the pdf book and nothing more.
about the next edition, i think you can convert without any problems. merric said that and it worked
i only have one concern, this adventure continues in "search of the diamond staff" and that one is still not here for sale
if you have more questions please feel free to ask
Customer avatar
Robert K August 25, 2016 12:32 am UTC
Vault of the Dracolich is a fun, unique adventure right from the start. The plot hook (entering a dracolich's lair) immediately creates a tense and exciting experience, but what makes the adventure shine are the imaginative and fully realized encounters. (Minor spoilers...) From underground lakes to monster communities to classic dungeon crawl elements, this adventure highlights the strengths of D&D: social interaction, exploration, and exciting combats. It plays well at a single table, but if you can run this as a multi-table event it truly shines. Highly recommended.
Customer avatar
Carlos A January 29, 2016 4:20 pm UTC
Although this was made for the D&D Next playtest rules, this is still playable with the 5th edition rules, right?
Customer avatar
Jeff H January 29, 2016 5:49 pm UTC
Carlos -- I've not yet actually run this adventure but I've played and run a lot of 5e at this point and, looking at the monster stats, it should play fine with 5e without having to alter anything. Of course, if you find you're just wrecking your party with the encounters, scale them back a little or nerf the baddies AC and attacks but, if you have a reasonably robust party you shouldn't have to change things at all. Hope this helps, Jeff
Customer avatar
Dave J November 29, 2014 11:47 am UTC
Hello, can someone please tell me what files you get when purchasing this PDF? From my understanding, this was part of the D&D Next playtest materials, and you need more than the actual book to run it properly. Does this purchase come complete with everything needed to run the adventure?

I see there is mixed comments regarding this. Some people say it is complete, others say it's not. Can we get a definitive answer on this please?

Customer avatar
Jeff H November 29, 2014 7:06 pm UTC
Hey Dave J,

When I bought this I got:

The Scourge of the Sword Coast Interim Rules Supplement is, I believe, the last DnDNext rules that were released before 5e came out and it came with the download.

Hope this helps you,
Customer avatar
Teos A August 12, 2015 11:59 pm UTC
The file list posted aboveby Jeff is correct and current. The Sword Coast rules supplement is the last released playtest rules set, but you can instead use the free Basic Rules (and pregens) found on the D&D web site (Google will pull it up). The adventure works as well with 5E pregens and rules as it did with the interim playtest rules. There are a few NPCs, but you can pick one of the ones in the back of the MM or free DM rules to substitute for them. It doesn't have to be an exact science with this adventure, as there is a lot of expectation for the DM to adjust and for the challenge to vary by group. (Disclaimer: I am one of the authors, not paid for sales, and I have run it several times and I think I'm being fair.)
Customer avatar
Leif H August 10, 2016 11:44 pm UTC
This sounds like an incredibly cool adventure idea! What I'm thinking about doing is buying this download and running multiple virtual tables simultaneously through or, using 5E rules. Myth-Weavers has a better adventure organization system and far superior character sheets, but I still tend to be partial to ENWorld, just because that was my first online gaming platform. Also, I've had a bit of trouble getting much interest in 5E from players on Myth-Weavers, and I had to move my 5E game that started on M-W to ENWorld to get interested players. The ENWorlders were on it like pirhanas. Not many of them, maybe, but a few very hungry pirhanas.
Anyway, thanks for writing this! -- Leif
Customer avatar
Mark P September 16, 2014 4:24 am UTC
My group liked it. Interesting encounters with the crazy ent and the fearful lizardman outcast. The fake dracolich's kept it entertaining. The captured drow that joined the party was good but he ran off too soon.

We just made up our own stats or looked them up in the play test packet. No worries.

Pros: Short and sweet. Interesting magic items. Fun role-play opportunities with the different factions such as trogledytes and lizardmen and cultists. It was fun to have multiple tables running and working together. Characters dying and being regenerated with undead empathy was great!

Cons: Getting enough players to do the multi party attack was hard and not realistic. Had to modify that. Some of the creatures could have used more fleshing out - such as the cultists leader. A more difficult puzzle with using the idols to defeat the dracolich should have been used. Dracolich was a bit easy and needed to be beefed up.

Overall - 4 1/2 stars.
Customer avatar
September 13, 2014 10:50 am UTC
Can't open the pdf files. Anyone else having this issue? It's telling me they're corrupted and re downloading the files nets the same results.
Customer avatar
Jeff H September 08, 2014 6:05 am UTC
So Eric L on Aug 24 2014 (as well as Jon and Ken) say there are no monster stats, but Teos A says this file contains the "final open playtest rules (which includes monster statistics and all rules needed to run DnD Next)" like 4 months earlier. Can someone please confirm whether this product for sale on this site actually HAS the playtest rules and the monster stats included with it (and not a link to a no longer available playtest download) or not, please? Thanks, Jeff
Customer avatar
Eric L August 24, 2014 12:32 pm UTC
No bestiary or level 4 pre-gens. And I paid $5 for this? Epic Fail!!
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This title was added to our catalog on October 22, 2013.