D&D 5E From the Abyss starting party (mild spoilers)

Werebat

Explorer
So my players are coming by tonight to make characters. As should be obvious, these players knew that this campaign would take place largely in the Underdark, and involve a lot of Demons, before coming up with character ideas.

So far as I can tell, this will be the party:

Elf Ranger (brother of the Elf Druid), going the TWF route, favored terrain Underdark, and taking the alternate background ability granting the ability to survive in the Underdark. His alternate bond is that he was rescued by Kuo-Toa once and realizes that some of them can be "good".

Elf Druid (brother of the Elf Ranger), going the Druid of the Land route (Underdark). His alternate bond is that he enjoyed a myconid mind-meld once and would like to do it again.

(I have no idea why these two elves are so affiliated with the underdark from the start, but there you go. I tried to suggest being a pair of half-elves whose elven parent was a drow, but they didn't go for it.)

Dwarf Rogue, who I know little about. His bond is that he was a friend of the dwarf girl who is a member of the Emerald Enclave (I forget her name).

Halfling Paladin, our first true surface dweller. His bond is that he knows the noble working for the Zhentarim killed someone and got away with it, and would like him brought to justice.

Deep Gnome Abjurer, going with a Sage background and the alternate background ability that mirrors the usual Sage one but deals specifically with the Underdark. His bond is a dream of a great library of stone.

Gnome or Deep Gnome Warlock, whose patron will probably be Auramycos, who will function as either a Great Old One or a Fey patron (my vote would be Great Old One, but I'm letting the player decide). His bond is that he knows Kazook Pickshine, the Deep Gnome of Blingdenstone.

Can anyone see any pitfalls or potential problems with this group? For me as a DM or them as players? I'd just like to suggest anything last minute tonight before they are too set in stone.

The first thing I can see is a possible lack of reason to want to get out of the Underdark. Sure, the elves don't want to be there, but for some reason they're pretty damned familiar with the place already and can survive there without much trouble. The deep gnomes would have no desire to get "back" to the surface, and the dwarf is used to living underground (though he'd probably want to rejoin his clan). That leaves the halfling.
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
You'll do fine.

Having an Underdark ranger will make the initial scare of being lost in the Underdark with no food and no equipment less scary. But as long as you remind the group they survive because of the elf brother's mad skills a few times, they'll probably just grateful they don't have to track provisions... and to be honest, once you've made your point (that the Underdark is a barren place) three or four times, it's getting old fast, and you should probably rein it down to "background atmosphere".

I mean, it's not as if you MUST have a ranger or you'll die. For instance, my players have a Cleric. Purify and Create food and drink = no real problems. It's just an inconvenience. But D&D isn't about dying of thirst anyway.

Next, let's talk darkvision. Having a scout with Superior Darkvision (like your deep gnome(s)) is awesome. Prepare for it.

Finally, you have many PCs in your party.

You should probably plan for and be okay with them escaping Velkynvelve without many (or any) of the NPC slaves. That's okay. Their immediate purpose is to make the party survive until they reach at least level 3 (which is when a PC hero comes into his own). With many PCs you don't need the bags of hit points that is the NPCs. Sure, if the players WANT to have one or two along, that's great (they have minor roles to play in subsequent chapters after all).

But you should feel very free to have your NPCs suggest they go another way. You have enough on your hands with so many players, your campaign don't need the NPCs.

Okay, so about the motivations of the PCs.

Really, the only good option is to ask your players to make up a motivation for reaching the surface.

Talk to them out-of-game. Help them with this, but don't force ideas on them.

The thing is, the adventure really doesn't do anything with "having escaped to the surface"! All it does is send them down below again!

What you do need is motivations for remaining on the move in the Underdark, and remaining together. Rather than everyone splitting up and just going back to their respective Underdark homes, that is.

But this isn't hard to accomplish - play up the secret police angle of the Drow. Make it clear Mistress Ilvara won't rest until they're caught. She will send assassins into whatever safe haven they think they have. She'll hunt them down one by one if they split up!

The purpose of the first six or so chapters of the OotA is to have the party run from one settlement to the next in order to showcase all those random (and semirandom) encounters.

All you need to do is have Ilvara keep them on the move. They don't particularly need to want to escape to the surface for this. In fact, not focussing solely on going up and away is a boon.

Take for instance a group of surface dwellers - they'll probably gun straight for Blingdenstone, and then focus solely on reaching the surface.

But your group, once they realize the Svirfs can't protect them, they'll be much more likely to travel to Neverlight Grove or Grackstughl (sp?), which is what you want them to do anyway!
 
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Werebat

Explorer
So the players created their characters last night. No huge surprises, although the guy playing the warlock opted at the last minute to go with half(dark)-elf instead of deep gnome. I know this had a lot to do with min/maxing, but it was fine by me and created a little variety in the party.

So, next time, we begin with:

* Elf brother and sister (Druid and Ranger); the ranger has drow as their favored enemy and Underdark as favored terrain. They were captured together while learning how to hunt down dark elves on their own turf (guess that wasn't the best idea). Considering that they are brother and sister, Topsy and Turvy may end up taking a shine to this pair. Ilvara will make it very clear to these two that they are only alive because they are to be sacrificed to Lolth when the time is right -- maybe a gift to a priestess relative in Menzoberranzan?

* Dwarf rogue with Outlander background and the alternate feature that resembles the Outlander one, but for the Underdark. This guy was a scout for his clan, learning to serve as a guide to the deep places beneath their hold, when he got captured. Lucky for him, he has found a flint "dagger".

* Deep Gnome Abjurer with the Sage background and the alternate feature that resembles the Sage one, but for the Underdark. This guy will know a lot, but will ultimately be one voice among many when the escapees voice their opinions about where they should all go.

* Halfling Paladin with the Urchin background. This guy is pretty out of his element, but the presence of demons in the campaign should make him very useful.

* Half(dark)-Elf Warlock with Auramycos as a patron. I really like this concept. Player still hasn't decided on a patron type, and I'm still hoping for Great Old One as it makes the most sense. He went with the Hermit background so he knows a "secret" that no one else does... Have to think of what it might be (any suggestions?). Would seem a little cheesy to make it, "You know of a vast fungal entity deep beneath the surface..." I might have Auramycos make him aware of the upcoming "wedding" with Zuggtmoy, which it does NOT want to participate in -- maybe in vague terms only. "THE WEDDING MUST BE STOPPED!", etc.
 
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Valmarius

First Post
Half(dark)-Elf Warlock with Auramycos as a patron. I really like this concept. Player still hasn't decided on a patron type, and I'm still hoping for Great Old One as it makes the most sense. He went with the Hermit background so he knows a "secret" that no one else does... Have to think of what it might be (any suggestions?). Would seem a little cheesy to make it, "You know of a vast fungal entity deep beneath the surface..." I might have Auramycos make him aware of the upcoming "wedding" with Zuggtmoy, which it does NOT want to participate in -- maybe in vague terms only. "THE WEDDING MUST BE STOPPED!", etc.

That's a really good choice for the hermit secret. It ties him directly into one of the big story beats of the adventure.
He may have been sent away from the grove in order to find a way to prevent the wedding coming to pass. But was captured during his travels.

He could have visions of beautiful, flourishing fungi being corrupted and twisted while a female voice sings somewhere in the background.
 

Miladoon

First Post
I cracked up at myconid mind meld.

Shrooooooms!

Just wondering do you plan on searching areas with only darkvision? Darkvision casts everything in dim light. Which makes your perception checks involving sight to be at disadvantage. Although the rules don't call for it when you do an Investigation check, you may miss something if you are not searching every 5ft and for something specific.
 

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