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DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep $4.99
Average Rating:3.9 / 5
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DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
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DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Thomas P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/14/2019 22:57:42

Surprisingly verstatile module! I was nervous about the more open-ended format, but found it game me enough flexibility to do what each group wanted while still re-using the parts that glued everything together. One particular benefit of this approach was that it makes the mod GREAT to run with new players and younger kids. While my main group wanted a hack-n-slash combat, my 8-year-old and other family loved the silly fun of the other options. I've run this 3 times now, and each has been its own awesome version of a different party's origin story. Excited to see more mods in this style!!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by RICHARD H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/27/2019 05:01:51

I ran this module last night as a first time DDAL DM, long-time DM. We had 7 players in our table with characters between levels 1 - 4 (a very strong party). I liked that the setting ties in well to the Dragon Heist storyline, and gives an introduction to Waterdeep, particularly one of its famous locations, and several notable characters. There are numerous tie ins to the hard cover plot line and also lore related to the city and the adventures of Season 8. If you ever wanted to run an adventure that is solely within a tavern, this is a good one to try.

This adventure will require some in depth understanding of the purpose that the writer is aiming to achieve for a variety of adventuring parties, and the options that are presented by the module. So you'll need to read it a few times, and then start to think about how it applies to your group. Start making notes about the structure that you intend to run. These notes can form your reference for running the adventure, rather than the module itself. Prepare a large map for the interior locations if you use miniatures, I wasn't able to print out the rooms at the sufficient scale necessary for use with miniatures. Print out as much as you can from the module so that you have handouts for your players to share around the table. The module provides the full stats for most of the opponents except for Bandits (Monster Manual p. 343).

The adventure provides the inspiration, structure and resources that the DM will need to create their ideal adventure. The characters provided in the story are richly documented and so you can springboard off this to get your character acting skills into action. The conflicts and challenges are fun and get the players involved as their characters end up in unexpected situations. Increase the intensity of dramatic moments so that your party feels the focus on these crucial story moments at the right time.

Be ready to balance the combat and add in extra opponents to balance out a strong party. And there are a range of options available to ease the party out of danger if necessary - the opponents can attack NPCs, the City Watch can arrive to intervene. The final battle requires some planning to maximise the effectiveness of the opponents so that you can present a serious challenge to the party.

For the running of this adventure, I focussed on the party providing an example interesting character for each PC. This adds some background to their character and lends interest through their career, and might help to develop their characters further. I chose the villain from this list to suit the intended run of the module that I had planned out, I selected the Apprentice Wizard stat block for them, but for a strong party, you should chose a higher CR rating option than this one. I used another of the interesting characters as the plot hook to get the adventure started. I used the letter from Dragon Heist Forgotten Tales as the item. The letter is generic enough that the party knows not to waste time investigating it, and it's fun to have as a prop. The party selected a role playing challenge which required a knock out blow to be delivered by a tankard. This ended up providing a lot of entertainment, as most of the party selected tankards instead of their weapons in combat. I selected the traitor plotline as the most appealing to me, it contains some entertaining situations in the second section, and a straightforward battle at the end.

There is one typo, in the box of Scene 2A-4 - replace [the interesting character] with Jarlaxle Baenre.

In summary, this is an excellent adventure packed full of entertainment and role playing opportunities. The DM will need to put in significant preparation time. The module is well presented and structured to aid the DM in preparation.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Nicholas N. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/26/2019 09:52:38

I had been looking forward to running this module for sometime, but didn't see it as an appropriate adventure for my newer players. After some time playing through other season 8 material I finally decided it was time to slip this adventure in for a bit of filler content.

A lot of season 8 material leaves much to be desired, but this adventure really emphasizes player/dm creativity, to the point that there is even a degree of replayability available. I did not use the suggested method for building the villain, macguffin, and NPC with the players, but we did work together on the concept and all agree that it was an enjoyable form of adventure building. Though it needs not to become overused in later modules.

The only real negative that stood out to me, was how sketchy certain interactions had to be in order to force the characters certain directions. At some point Durnan requests the players to fetch water from the cellar, which is a distraction created by the traitor villain to ambush them. Would Durnan not wonder where they went when they fail to return quickly? Small issues in the storytelling like this could create combat complications, should Durnan join the fray below... the villain stands absolutely no chance! Had to rethink a few of these situations to better fit the situation, but thats just how dnd works.

In summation, when I look to modules like these for material to run, I like when the work is done for me especially considering the fact that I must PURCHASE the content... but this module stands as an exception because of how it tries to incorporate replayability and direct player involvement in regards to the adventure hooks. Also, it would be a LOT EASIER to flip through this module while running the game if each different villain path was laid out in its entirety altogether in the reading material. As opposed to how it goes "chapter 1 for brute" "chapter 1 for mastermind" "chapter 1 for traitor", and then the same for the other two chapters, all three chapters for each one should be grouped together.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Allan T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/08/2019 01:19:29

We had a lot of fun running this game, because of the extra time it takes to run a game when young people are trying to learn the game it took more time than I am inclined to say. I plan on playing this with a new group soon for even more fun.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Gary M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/19/2019 07:58:28

The module was fun. The structure is a little strange, but if you make the best of it, it's actually quite enjoyable. It definitely makes for a good evening.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Madeleine B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/20/2018 14:33:25

My group had a lot of fun with this one. Using the RIVAL option, we were able to create a pseudo-villianous-friend type character for them that has been a mainstay in the campaign. I'm not a huge fan of the new format for S8 modules, but this is well written enough that the dearth of information wasn't limiting.

My only issue with it, and seems to be the case with most of the S8 modules, is that the Adventure Hook is either not well defined, or vague enough for a DM to embellish it, and I (the DM) end up missing some crucial call to action to make the party want to do the thing.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Evan L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/28/2018 23:11:42

I think overall this is a really solid module, but it has a couple of shortcomings that can leave you in the lurch a little bit if you aren't prepared for them.

NOTE: I played through this module twice before running it myself.

My main issues come from the diverging paths. The problem I have is that because of the earlier selections, the paths can get muddled quickly. Additionally, because of how the adventure is formatted, it can be hard to tell what stage of the adventure you are on from a gameplay sense. I think if I were going to make one presentation change, I would give 2a 2b and 2c distinct pages, without any overlapping content. That way for DM's like myself, who like to have a printed copy, you can set aside the pages you don't need easily and keep everything jiving in that regard.

My other issue is one that pertains to how to explain the opening to players. I think players get into the swing of the selection thing, after a few rounds. Initally I had people trying to write paragraphs of information, which, don't misunderstand, is a common pitfall of amatuer improvization. What I will do in the future is actually play an improvization game to set the mood first, so that players can understand "an interesting character for them to meet." shouldnt be the wikipedia page for someone, it should be, "Beowolf" or, "A one armed wizard who speaks in rhyme" "Jim Darkmagic" etc.

I don't like putting players in the position of them feeling like they misunderstood the excercise and therefore don't really get to participate, (because no one votes for the dnd version of the Navy Seal copypasta.)

I suggest warming up with a game of Zip Zap Zop, (which is easy to explain.) and then when moving on to the prompts, explaining, "This should feel the same as the warmup. Dont think, just write something and put it in the middle!" it shouldn't feel like character creation, where everyone sits there flipping back and forth between different background choices.

Still, a really fun module! Great starting point.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Thomas H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/28/2018 09:30:53

This is a good introduction to Waterdeep and the direction that the Adventurers League is moving towards. Not only do you get to introduce your table to the city, but you get the chance to know them as there are choices that they have to make at the beginning of the module. There are a lot of choices and possibilities to run this module differently with different groups; however, DM's be prepared to have to come up with names and personalities for NPC's as this is not a spoon-fed module.

The only downsides for me were in regards to the layout of the module. I would have preferred the structure of the module be organized according to what options you pick at the beginning, rather than chronological. (For example if you picked this villian, go to section 2 for your story; if you picked the other villain go to section 3.) Also, I was disappointed with there not being a "printer friendly version". I found the layout hard on my eyes and even distracting at times. However, since these are purely aesthetic/opinionated and don't reflect on the story I'm not going to let it affect my rating.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Erik H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/22/2018 01:02:11

This is a fun little adventure, in that it has three storylines to follow based on what your players determine at the beginning of play. It's a good exercise for teaching new players that D&D is a collaboration, not a competition against each other or the DM. It has nice clear character descriptions of several of the colorful characters, which I enjoyed as a "performing" DM who likes to do different voices and characterizations that are consistent throughout the game. I feel like the ending to all the storylines were a bit of a cop out, in that it basically says "Welp...work out how this plays out on your own!" which is fine, but to new DMs it might be a little worrisome. Additionally there should have been some further guidance on how the climactic showdown with the Mastermind should go.

Nitpicks though.

A fun adventure especially since players who happen to play it more than once have a chance at a different story each time.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by William A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/19/2018 10:43:20

So I've run this a few times now and as an introduction module for the season, I feel like it is completely amazing. I like the idea of giving players the opprotunity to craft how their adventure is going to be and moreso, I love the replayability of this module. I ran this for a few of the same players twice and they seemed to have a lot of fun as the experience was different each time.

I hope to see more modules with this approach in the future.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Steve S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/16/2018 12:18:08

I purchased this product for a play-by-post campaign and ran it with seven players over the course of two months. This module was unique in that it has three different options and villains that you can use and allowed some creativity in coming up with who the actual villain would be with some input from your players on what they were looking over.

The Positive: It's a well thought out module and all the players appeared to enjoy the adventure. In addition it's a great introduction to the Waterdeep: Dragon Heist module and introduces the players to several of the supporting cast and villains of that campaign. As I move into DMing for Dragon Heist, I'm beginning to see all the connections it has and that portion of the adventure is well thought out.

Additionally, since there are three different options and villains for the module I can re-use this adventure multiple times with completely different adventures and outcomes. If I get repeat players with different characters, I can switch things around so they never know what might be coming at them.

The Negative: Not much actually. If I had to nitpick I would say that that the beginning and ending of the module can be a little disjointed from the three options the story can take. The hook at the start of the story is a friendly NPC with a MacGuffin. However the three options the story takes completely ignores said MacGuffin and the hook seems to get overlooked at the end. A little DM creativity and modification fixes the issue but you need to make sure to read ahead and plan carefully.

Overall: The positive of the adventure far outweighs the negative. Good buy and will be replaying the module again soon with a different crew.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Sean R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/04/2018 01:01:27
Some minor flaws do not stop this from being a bold, surprising module

The 2000-2010 "Forge" indie RPG boom was one of the most influential periods of RPG design. Drawing inspiration from earlier games such as Pendragon and Over the Edge, this period pushed RPG design in ways that de-emphasised the role of the game master, urged more collaborative responsibility for world-building, and moved mechanics away from simulationist design into narrativist or even thematic roles. It went on to inform works by publishers both large and small such as White Wolf, Hogshead Games and Atlas Games. The one game it never seemed like it could touch was, of course, the one that both preceeded and outlived it: Dungeons & Dragons.

Which is why it's such a blast to see a module like this that draws clear inspiration from that era: Once in Waterdeep is steeped in the tricks and traps of that era of design. Its use of non-standard props like poker chips & index cards and its use of a "Story workshop" to create allow players to inform the game's plot is absolutely inspired by these games (I'm particularly reminded of My Life With Master and its collaborative villain design) and provides not only a varied and replayable module, but also one of the best launching pads for a hardcover there could possibly be. Players are encouraged to create interesting supporting characters and villains here and those villains (not just the ones selected but also the ones rejected!) can be used as springboards for the Dragon Heist campaign. It's a fantastic jumping off point and in that regards accomplishes its goal as an introductory adventure perfectly.

To be clear, this influence is minor. Once the game begins, the actual play is very classic D&D, drawing heavily on the three pillars of play. Indeed, each of the paths of play roughly correlates to one of those three pillars. (Traitor to social; Mastermind to exploration; Brute to combat.) Nonetheless, the use of such devices is unexpected and delightful and I hope to see more of this sort of design in the future.

Pros

In addition to the interesting start and clear setup design, the actual paths themselves are well supported and considered to the three pillars of play. Brute style emphasises combat and provides a lurid pulpy tone that fits in well with 5e's streamlined combat style. (Players may be forgiven for quipping, "Again?" or "Can we just leave that wall down now?") The mastermind path offers tangible props and well considered puzzle design. The traitor path's 'let's put on a show!' mid-game is both surprising and offers clear guidance on how to turn such an encounter into a pass-fail scenario beyond simple dice rolls. The various chapters 2 are the clear highlight of the game's design and where the most love was placed.

Cons

By contrast, the ending can be a little difficult to parse. While the Brute's introduction in the final act makes perfect (and indeed, brutal) sense; the traitor's final play is somewhat nonsensical, and the mastermind's final reveal is very difficult to pace and understand. This last case in particular really makes this worthy of being considered a 4/5 rather than a 5/5 adventure, but the boldness of the premise is enough to see this be forgivable.

In addition to this, the game is not well adapted for online play. Online, the story workshop is slow and difficult to execute. I would highly recommend, if you choose to run this online, making the villain/NPC/challenge selection something done in a forum or online chat ahead of the game, and simply launch into the game proper when you're ready to meet at the same time. In addition, physical props do not translate to online settings.

Overall

I love, love, love this module. It's adventurous and creative in a way I don't usually expect D&D modules to be. 5 stars from me, and I do hope this isn't the last time we see a story workshop.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Noah C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/31/2018 10:50:26

Interesting concept and adventure design, if slightly poor execution. 4/5



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Christopher W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/25/2018 17:24:08

I shall split this review into three parts, the good, the bad, and my final opinion.

---The Good---

This is an excellent opener for Dragon Heist. Not only does it introduce the players to the names of certain important NPCs, but it also helps the players make contacts in the city which can be used later on. It even adds in potential plot hooks that you can use later on for Dragon Heist.

I love how flexible the module is. While there are technically only three villain types, these villain types are flexible enough that you can change things up even if the players choose the same villain type multiple times.

Sort of a continuation of the above, because the players get to choose the villain and macguffin, they can make a really special and unique experience. This is especially true if you're running this for a group that knows each other. For example, my group decided the ally would be one of the player's old Rogue characters. At the same time, they decided the villain would be a minor wizard that they kept running into in Tomb. Their history with the chosen characters made everything a lot more memorable

While I have not run every single villain type, the enemies in this module are pretty unique. The flying brooms are pretty neat, and provide a difficult challenge without actually being dangerous. And while I have not done every villain, one mage in particular is really fun to run and fight.

---The Bad---

The module could have been organized a bit better. If the three villain types had been seperated into their seperate little chapters it would make it a lot easier to run and read.

This module requires players who are willing to RP and a DM who can improvise. If your group isn't much for RP, or if the players aren't really the types to take initative on things, then this probably won't work ery well.

The encounters are not scaled at all, or at least I could not find any scaling. It can be very dangerous for a party of level 1's, and if you only have three level 1 players this is gonna be dangerous. You may even need to bring in some NPC helpers to help deal with some of the threats if the players aren't strong enough.

---Final Thoughts---

This is probably the most homebrew AL Module I have ever played, and that has plenty of strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand, if you're good at improvising and your players enjoy RPing, you'll all love this. You'll like it even more if you run this for a group that regularly meet, that way you can really customize each villain and potentially bring back NPCs or old PCs that the party adored. It also provides plenty of future plot hooks for small missions you can possibly do in Dragon Heist, and introduces the PCs to some majoy players within the city.

That said, this strength can also be a weakness. If your party isn't much for RPing, or if you're not super good at improvising, this module is probaly going to be a pain to run. It doesn't have the standard AL format where the players are going to get where they're going no matter what. It'll take some work on both the players and DM to get the PCs to the end.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
DDAL08-00 Once in Waterdeep
Publisher: Dungeon Masters Guild
by Mike B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/23/2018 22:54:13

My table of players and I really liked the concept of the player-driven elements. That was the best start to an AL module I've had. The players really focused on the McGuffin though so it's inclusion was too much of a red herring.

We ran through the Mastermind path and it played out pretty well but the party felt they had to split because of the implied importance of the performances and the need to sneak into one of the inn's rooms. They did not feel they had the time to do both.

It still worked out nicely as each group got "half" the clues so when they came together they both felt as though they accomplished something significant. They were able to work together to the conclusion.

I did feel this required more than the usual prep time for an AL module but that's not a terrible thing, just something to be aware of.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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