Rust Monster Reviews: Waterdeep: Dragon Heist First Impressions

So, my pre-ordered copy of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, the latest adventure book for Dungeons & Dragons fifth edition (from Wizards of the Coast ("WotC")), arrived yesterday. While I haven't had a lot of time yet to spend with the book, let me give you my first impression of it:

It's filled to the brim with pure awesome sauce!

The book, physically, is yet another example of WotC's exquisite design and production values for its D&D product line. The art and overall design complement the content nicely, as we've come to expect from the books that support this latest version of the game.

As for the adventure itself, its structure is described on page 10 of the book:

"Waterdeep: Dragon Heist consists of an introductory adventure designed to familiarize player characters with the city... and provide them with a base of operations... followed by a citywide treasure hunt... and descriptions of the villains' lairs." (Yes, villains, plural - more on that below.)

It's a nifty setup, designed to take player characters from creation to fifth level. What's more, the adventure has a clever device that allows the same basic adventure to be played with one of four different Big Bads, depending on the season in which the adventure is set. As I said, I haven't completely read through the book yet, but from what I've read so far, the adventure seems promising.
The book is loaded with maps and encounters, so even if I weren't planning on running the adventure/encounters as written, there looks to be a lot here I could "borrow" for my own use.

The final 40 pages or so of the book are an overview of Waterdeep, including monsters, NPCs, and magic items particular to the city. And, of course, there's a nice, detachable poster map of the city. (Maybe not as nice as the one that graced the first Waterdeep box set, but this one's pretty, too.)

In all, based on my first pass through the book, it looks like its a solid, deserving entry into the fifth edition product library, and is well worth the price to add it to your own.

Waterdeep: Dragon Heist cover
One of my favorite pieces of art in the book: the Yawning Portal and its patrons. I love this for what it is, but I also love it for what it represents - the patrons depicted include such note-worthies as Elminster, Drizzt Do'Urden, and Mordenkainen, of course; but also present are a number of faces familiar to those who follow the live games of D&D that have been floating around YouTube and Twitch since we watched Acquisitions Incorporated journey to one of the hells to rescue their melted/raised/enslaved intern, Aofel, in 2010. Present are members of Force Grey and the Waffle Crew, among others. As a fan of Joe Manganiello's Arkhan the Cruel, I was jazzed to see the character immortalized (canonized?) in an official Forgotten Realms product. (My only lament is that Deborah Ann Woll's Jamilah, another cool character, is given so little space, barely getting her head in the picture.) And, of course, Matt Mercer is present, as well. I love the way elements from the various live games have found their way into 5E products and become part of the game world, ever since the airship in Tyranny of Dragons. And who can forget Hoard of the Dragon Queen's "Greenest in Flames"? (sigh)
Sample pages, Encounter Structure
Sample pages, showing one of the almost two-dozen maps to be found in the book, including urban areas, a ship, and a submarine(!)
Sample pages, "Volo's Enchiridion" (a word that had almost completely fallen out of my brain - now I'm having flashbacks to World Lit. Thanks, Wizards!)
The attached city map