D&D: How to run Keys from the Golden Vault as a campaign
It’s possible to turn Keys from the Golden Vault into a campaign filled with heists.
Keys from the Golden Vault is a Dungeons & Dragons adventure anthology that treats every quest as a heist, allowing players to live out their fantasy Ocean’s Eleven dreams. The downside to this approach is that these adventures are intended to be standalone experiences and have very little connective tissue between them, so DMs will have to work a little harder to tie them together into one campaign.
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Set in the campaign in Baldur’s Gate
A central location and framework are the best way to start when transforming Keys from the Golden Vault into a campaign, and there are few better places for this than the city of Baldur’s Gate. This is because it’s easily the most fleshed-out city in D&D 5e, thanks to the expansive gazetteer in Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus and reams of information from previous editions of D&D and the Baldur’s Gate video game series.
Baldur’s Gate is a massive city filled with adventure, crime, and countless opportunities to become rich. It’s so big that most of the quests in Keys from the Golden Vault can safely be set within or near the city without the players needing to travel far. If an adventure is set in a distant land, then plenty of mages in the city have access to teleportation spells, who can whisk players away and bring them back when they’re done.
Most importantly, Baldur’s Gate is also a few days’ travel away from Candlekeep, so DMs can easily incorporate quests from the Candlekeep Mysteries anthology into their campaign without being too disruptive. This gives the party a chance to have more conventional adventures between the heists to stop them from growing stale.
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Use the Crime Syndicate Group Patron from Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything
Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is an optional D&D sourcebook containing rules for Group Patrons. These individuals or organizations bring adventurers together, provide them with funding and perks, and give them quests. These Group Patrons range from noblemen looking for capable operatives to ancient liches who need spies.
Keys from the Golden Vault has an organization called the Golden Vault, which acts as the default quest givers in most adventures. This group can be fleshed out using the Crime Syndicate Group Patron, making it a more tangible organization with headquarters, operatives, recurring NPCs for the players to work with, and exclusive perks, such as being able to purchase rare items through the group’s black market network.
Drop recurring hints about a magical book throughout the campaign
If there’s one thing that nerds love more than anything else, it’s continuity. This is present in most D&D 5e campaigns, as hints about the final boss can be weaved throughout the adventure as the party gradually foils all of their plans, leading to an epic battle at the end of the story.
The problem with adventure anthologies is that they’re self-contained, which is true of Keys from the Golden Vault, as each quest is its own thing, with no characters shared between them outside of the players and maybe a contact from the Golden Vault.
One way to tie all of the adventures from Keys from the Golden Vault together is to drop references to the final heist throughout the adventure, as it involves a magical tome being sought by a powerful being. The DM can easily include hints about how each adventure was caused by a magical book that brings chaos into the lives of those who encounter it, leading to a big revelation about its origins at the end of the campaign.