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


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TheSword

Legend
Throne of Night, the failed Kickstarter by con-artist Gary McBride does actually have some amazing low level under dark stuff in (for levels 1-7 which neatly covers the area you would normally spend above ground in Night Below.)

Highlights include a drow outpost, a fungal jungle, a Myconid city, a more interesting Svirfbeblin village than in Night Below with maps etc. A magical manifest zone, an underground forest full of dinosaurs and plenty of other cool stuff. It’s a tragedy that it wasn’t finished.

As much as it pains me to recommend that you send money his way, it really is one of the best underground adventures I’ve seen. And perfect for strip mining for ideas, encounter, art etc.
 

Yora

Hero
I ran City of the Spiderqueen way back when it came out. Thinking back, I think you could really do some interesting things with it by going off-script, but back then I had no idea what I was doing.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I ran City of the Spiderqueen way back when it came out. Thinking back, I think you could really do some interesting things with it by going off-script, but back then I had no idea what I was doing.

I ran it back then and gave spent the last 4 months running it as a foundation.

The party is trying to deal with the city 100 years later and Kurgoth Hellspawn runs the joint.

His army have settled the city and Kossuths faith now run the joint. Whole group is following. Elistraee and Lolths faith isn't around much.
 

Welp I haven't gotten that far but Kobold Press on Twitter said that Drow don't fit Midgard:
I will need to read further because I've loved Midgard so much since I bought it.
My guess is Empire of the Ghouls is their canonical explanation: There were drow, but they're almost all gone now. (The Empire of the Ghouls makes a strong argument for the ghouls eventually conquering the entire planet.)
 

I ran the Night Below back in the day, 2nd edition & it became "a bit of a slog" just one genocidal encounter after another with exponentially increasing levels of additional work for the GM fleshing out the major encounter sites... honestly I felt the D series did it earlier & better... TNB started well but we never made it to the end, too limited, too repetitive...
 

werecorpse

Adventurer
I ran the D series a couple of times D1 has the classic “why are all these monsters living next to each other“ problem and while D2 and D3 were very evocative underground city concepts they had limited built in adventurer interaction ability.
I ran Night Below as a 3e/3.5e conversion campaign which lasted 6 years levels 1-20. While it is a series of encounters it is also an onion peel style story adventure. In my game I leant into the James Bond nature of the villains Plan. Book 2 is essentially an homage to D1&D2, Imo much better done. The onion layer nature of the story is excellent up until the beginning of book 3 at which point the players largely realise where and what the big baddy is but have a bunch of encounters that exist to level them up. Book 3 can drag a bit and more should have been done to give the players in game rather than meta game reasons to explore those encounters. In this story the theme (as we played it given its duration) was all about isolation in an alien realm. The characters had a good reason for being there but by part way through book 2 were playing up that the journey had “changed them“. They started to refer to the caverns as the normal world and the above ground world as “The Overlight”. They were no longer comfortable in the normal world. By the end some of them had also been mutated by some homebrew stuff such that they could never go back.
I also ran Out of the Abyss - we had a TPK early but the players wanted to keep going so they made up a group of underdark appropriate characters (Duergars, goblin, drow tiefling etc). From there it was heavily modified. In this version, like Night Below, while the Underdark is the backdrop it’s the story that matters. The story is much more about the different cities and civilisations and the impending doom that exists because of the abyssal incursion. This underdark is less thematically about isolation, it is much more densely populated. The Duergar city, the deep gnome city and the fungus city are all places the characters went to interact with the denizens. I found the Adventurers League stuff for the Out of The Abyss had some good encounters in it and the party went on to get caught up battling Grazzt worshipping Drow.
 

Stormdale

Explorer
My current campaign has diverted into the underdark using a couple of dungeon mag adventures. Iron Orb of the Duergar (D46- I think) and now Kingdom of the Ghouls (D70) which are both adventures I've always been wanted to run. Really enjoying DMing the latter.
 

My current campaign has diverted into the underdark using a couple of dungeon mag adventures. Iron Orb of the Duergar (D46- I think) and now Kingdom of the Ghouls (D70) which are both adventures I've always been wanted to run. Really enjoying DMing the latter.
I'd never heard of Iron Orb of the Duergar, but after looking into it I'm glad you mentioned it! The idea of a sentient magical item that manipulates its user to build a special iron golem body for it is awesome.
 



Voadam

Legend
City of the Spider Queen was the big 3.0 underdark adventure. I remember criticisms of the time centering around how fragile the drow were for their CR as the 3e CR formulas balanced their spell resistance against the physical survivability of similar CR monsters so all the drow were lower level than other similar CR NPCs would have been to balance out their spell resistance defense and level was a huge component of toughness as it affected spell power, attack bonuses and so on.
 

RichGreen

Explorer
My guess is Empire of the Ghouls is their canonical explanation: There were drow, but they're almost all gone now. (The Empire of the Ghouls makes a strong argument for the ghouls eventually conquering the entire planet.)
This is exactly right. Despite what that tweet says, there are drow but they aren’t very many left. A playable drow race is included in the Underworld Player’s Guide that accompanies Empire of the Ghouls but they’re different to the standard D&D version.

If you’ve got any questions about Empire of the Ghouls, please fire away - I am the lead designer on the project.

This article is helpful and I’ve been writing up my own Empire of the Ghouls campaign on my blog.

Cheers!
 

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