Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage — DnD 5e Summary & Guide

Last Updated on January 22, 2023

Through the Yawning Portal, down through 23 levels of sprawling, interconnected subterranean spaces, past drow and duergar, past mind flayers and gith, awaits Halaster Blackcloak: The Mad Mage, architect of Undermountain and a certifiable bad dude. 

Will you venture forth into the strange world beneath the city of splendors to seek your fortune? Will you enter the Dungeon of the Mad Mage? 

Key Takeaways 

  • Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage is a 300+ page adventure for D&D 5e that centers on a single “Mega-Dungeon” called Undermountain located beneath the city of Waterdeep. 
  • “Completing” the adventure will take players from 5th to 20th level as the players journey through the mad wizard Halaster Blackcloak’s sprawling subterranean lair, which has a full 23 levels. 
  • Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage is the sequel to Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and places a similar emphasis on faction conflict and diplomacy between the PCs and various groups/monsters that are much more dangerous than they are. 

What Is Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage

Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage is a 300+ page adventure for Dungeons & Dragons 5e that takes PCs from 5th to 20th level as they explore Undermountain, a 23-level megadungeon beneath the city of Waterdeep. On the way, adventurers can cross paths with factions of drow and duergar and fight all manner of dangerous monsters, including the dungeon’s creator, the Mad Mage Halaster Blackcloak. 

Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage — Adventure Summary 

There are 23 levels to Undermountain, which comprise all but a few pages of the adventure. 

Should I Buy Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage? 

If you like dungeon crawling and faction warfare (and want to get in the head of a rather unhinged, cruel, and terrifyingly scary archmage), then yes, absolutely you should buy this book and run it for years. There’s certainly enough content in here for that. This is easily one of the densest 5e books, not to mention the longest by 50+ pages. I cannot stress enough how packed this adventure is with rooms, NPCs, maps, and all the other stuff you need to run a dungeon of this scale. 

What it doesn’t have: a huge bestiary of unique monsters (fine, I guess; it’s all in the Monster Manual anyway), boxed descriptive text (good, I hate having to mine purple prose for room details), or other appendices (seriously, it’s wall-to-wall dungeons in this bad boy). 

In short, this is an adventure that knows exactly what it is and gives you more or less 300 straight pages of that: 23 fully fleshed-out levels of usable megadungeon content that’s heavy on the monsters, magic, and factions — with basically nothing else. In an era where a lot of D&D 5e books are nothing more than vague lore fluff and some limp-wristed suggestions about how a DM “could” run an adventure (looking at you Spelljammer, you massive disappointment), this feels like a real labor of love executed well. 

Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage isn’t for everyone, but if it’s for you, boy howdy, are you gonna love it. 

If you don’t love the idea of running a 23-level megadungeon filled with arbitrary magical weirdness, however, it doesn’t take too much work to buy this book and steal dungeons from it (much like Halaster himself steals monsters for his dungeons) to seed throughout your own game. Obviously, you’ll need to do a bit of redecorating… getting rid of the naked statue of Halaster wearing a cowboy hat and riding a donkey might be a good start… 

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