log in or register to remove this ad

 

D&D General Experiences with Empire of the Ghouls, Night Below, or Other Underdark Adventures?

I'm running an Underdark campaign, and as a DM I (for some reason) like to put more work on myself by scouring published materials for content to integrate into my campaigns. Currently I'm trying to look more into high profile Underdark adventures like Empire of the Ghouls and Night Below, though pretty much any Underdark adventure would be of interest to me. I'm looking for interesting encounters, environmental details, roleplaying scenarios, etc. I'm going to continue looking into these myself, but if anyone has any prior experience running or playing in these or other Underdark adventures I'd be glad to hear about them!
 

log in or register to remove this ad

JustinCase

the magical equivalent to the number zero
Well... there is Out Of The Abyss. I'm running that one, and it is filled with encounters, environmental hazards and random encounter tables.

But I imagine you know that. It's not exactly obscure.
 

Here's what I've noted from Night Below so far:

  • The svirfneblin fear that reckless adventurers will cause enemies to make moves that could endanger their own safety. They also do not allow visitors to see or learn much about them or their home, knowing that other creatures may have means of extracting information.
  • The svirfneblin will give false information to adventurers to see if they are capable enough to be worthy of cooperation and trust, leading them into dangerous situations to see how they fare.
  • The entrance to the svirfneblin community is hidden both by a secret door and my illusion magic.
  • Glyphs of Warding are extensively used by the svirfneblin for security.
  • A Wall of Stone hides an acid trap.
  • Svirfneblin share their special wine, Gogondy, only with trusted friends. An outsider who accepts such a drink from a svirfneblin leader becomes an honorary member of the community.
  • It is possible to avoid a grell nest, but the alternate route is potentially hazardous itself. Clearing out the grells makes passage easier in the long run.
  • The grell have an uneasy truce with a deepspawn, capturing creatures to supply to the horrible monster. The chamber of the deepspawn is strewn with organic detritus and dominated by a polluted pool of water.
  • Glassrock is an artificially-created green stone with swirls of white and red. Its creators wished to keep deep gnomes from caverns rich in gems and used magic to cause layers of glassrock to form in unnatural shapes. Caverns coated by glassrock radiate enchantment magic, creating an antipathy effect that repels gnomes of all varieties.
  • A certain chamber appears to have a humanoid figure embedded just beneath the rock. Those of elven blood feel unnerved even being in the chamber.
  • In the Swirl Maze the red and white stripes in the green glassrock rise to form 15-foot walls. In the center of the maze is a glassrock formation that looks like some being’s crude attempt to create an imitation of a tree. The formation radiates transmutation magic and bears 5d20 bloodstones that hang like fruit. Xorns frequent the “tree” to pick bloodstones that form.
 

Well... there is Out Of The Abyss. I'm running that one, and it is filled with encounters, environmental hazards and random encounter tables.

But I imagine you know that. It's not exactly obscure.
I've never run or played it, so anything you found particularly noteworthy I'd be glad to read about.
 

JustinCase

the magical equivalent to the number zero
The cities (Gracklstugh, Sloobludop, Neverlight Grove) are pretty detailed and realistic, although of course there is the demonic influence (madness) that is the core of the adventure.

I haven't been running it long, but I like how you can combine terrain and monster/NPC encounters. It's all pretty loose on how any DM wants to present is, and I've already thrown in a non-official monster or two. (Really, how are choker ambushes not meant for underdark exploration?)

There's a whole subreddit filled with tips on OotA; check out their megathread.
 


My intention is to mine these adventures for content in my own campaign rather than run them as is, so no problems there.

Funny coincidence that Night Below doesn't feature the drow, as so far my campaign barely has either. The main conflict at the moment is between the party and a deep gnome enclave that is being secretly manipulated into being more aggressive than normal.
 


GuyBoy

Adventurer
Night Below is a fantastic campaign but also has some great locations to strip-mine for your own campaign.
Similarly, I’d suggest looking at the old Necromancer Games module, Vault of Larin Karr is worth a look.
If you want real old school, the D series from TSR holds a warm place in my memory from the early 1980s when I ran it.
Good luck with the campaign.
 


Orius

Adventurer
Night Below tends to be something of a slog, especially in the second book. The main problem is that Book 2 is a lot filler designed to level up the players so they can take on the City of the Glass Pool at the end of the book, and in order to get the XP for that a DM really does need to fall back on GP = XP because there's really not enough monster XP to fill the gap.

Of course there's piles and piles of cash lying around and I suppose Sargent even assumed that only small amounts of it would be carried off if the DM enforced encumbrance, but he slips up with a magic item back in Book 1. This item is a little figurine of a cottage that can be used to create a full sized shelter. Well, my players quickly learned to dump all those piles of money in the cottage and use it to easily haul it back to the surface! And this isn't an isolated case, from other accounts I've read, other groups figured that out pretty damn quick too. There are limits on the cottage, but they don't really matter. It can only be used once or maybe twice a week, but it takes several weeks or even months to move around down there so the party has time on their side to abuse the cottage. There's a command word which must be learned through identify, and the chance to learn it is pretty low, but my players did eventually get lucky with the dice.

Night Below is okay, but there are a few flaws in it. I'd say Gary did a far better job describing an Underdark setting in a third of the pages with D 1-3.
 

It is only a slog in the second book for your mentioned reason. I think if you convert it to 5e, you can skip a few parts, although most of them are actually fun mini adventures... probably it is best however to just be lenient with xp and only pick a few of those sidetracks. Also handwave travel time.
 




GuyBoy

Adventurer
D1-3. One of my abiding memories (apart from the lich lying on his stony couch and the name Blibdoolpoolp) was the truly deadly drow spell, Tentacle Wall.
In a narrow corridor, with the party under attack from front and rear, a tentacle wall spell cast on the side walls.....pure terror!
 

I have heard excellent things about Night Below, but have never played or run it (several people in my group have though).

I played part of Out of the Abyss and found it to be trash. The DM hated it too, finding it super linear, relying a lot on the DM to push the plot forward if the players get stuck (which happened often). In addition there's times that the DM is just expected to come up with adventures to level the characters, without providing advice on how to connect them to the main plot.
 

AdmundfortGeographer

Getting lost in fantasy maps
I'm running an Underdark campaign, and as a DM I (for some reason) like to put more work on myself by scouring published materials for content to integrate into my campaigns. Currently I'm trying to look more into high profile Underdark adventures like Empire of the Ghouls and Night Below, though pretty much any Underdark adventure would be of interest to me. I'm looking for interesting encounters, environmental details, roleplaying scenarios, etc. I'm going to continue looking into these myself, but if anyone has any prior experience running or playing in these or other Underdark adventures I'd be glad to hear about them!
I recommend giving a peek at Downcrawl as an idea generator for filling in the Underdark in flavorful ways.
 

teitan

Legend
Kingdom of Ghouls is a very different sort of Underdark campaign. It's another of those no Drow in it because the setting doesn't have Drow by default, being Midgard. Instead it is a kingdom of, well, ghouls. I've read through part of it so far and it is pretty good.
 

Kingdom of Ghouls is a very different sort of Underdark campaign. It's another of those no Drow in it because the setting doesn't have Drow by default, being Midgard. Instead it is a kingdom of, well, ghouls. I've read through part of it so far and it is pretty good.
The book mentions drow, though, and some of the darakhul nobility are former drow.
 

An Advertisement

Advertisement4

Top