D&D 5E My Five Favorite Things From Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep

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The next collaboration between the world’s largest role-playing game and the livestreaming behemoth is almost upon us. Dungeons & Dragons Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep offers an adventure path that spans levels 3 through 12 for fans of the show or for D&D players curious as to what it feels like to play in the world of the successful show. Preview copies of the book are landing this weekend and I had a chance to read mine over a gloomy afternoon. What did I enjoy the most? Let’s find out together.

Note: I will try to talk about these elements using broad elements and not reveal big plot twists, but if you want to stay completely unspoiled, you may wish to stop reading now.

The Rivals​

One of the key features talked about in previews of the book were the band of rivals that the PCs will encounter throughout the adventure. These rivals are detailed in the front of the book with a big two-page spread and show up throughout the adventure, changing not just based on how the players treat them but how they experience the events of the adventure. These rivals are the thing I would be most likely to steal from this book for a homebrew campaign, though I would also add in the relationship mechanics from Strixhaven: Curriculum of Chaos to make how each rival feels about the players matter mechanically.

A Journey Across Exandria​

Most of the official D&D adventure books focus on one main area or type of adventure. Rather than telling players about Exandria, the story shows them by taking them on a tour of various locations ranging from a goblin port city to a gloomy castle on a portal to hell to a big city built around an oasis. There’s a dedicated early chapter to the journey between the goblin port and the castle. Dungeon Masters who want to take the long way could probably fit in some more traveling encounters in between the big location shifts, especially if they are invested in the other books that detail the Critical Role world.

A Megadungeon of Feelings​

The last quarter of the adventure takes the PCs through a big dungeon built out of a strange substance: the memories and emotions of the main bad guy. It offers an interesting way to explore the history of the character in a way that calls to mind some of the weirder dungeons of the OSR. There are still plenty of traps, fights and treasure but the psychological element generates some sympathy for the villain.

Hugging It Out With The Big Bad​

The final fight shows off Matt Mercer’s love of Final Fantasy games. There are big Lair actions, multiple forms to grind through, and some examples of dialogue to bounce at the players during the battle. There’s also an unexpected element of social combat. Players who express sympathy and roleplay with the villain can make Charisma checks to wear down the villain as well. It brings to mind grand duels where words are as sharp as blades, like Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader trying to turn each other during their last duel.

Multiple Endings​

Most official D&D campaigns tend to end with a few short paragraphs about how to continue the story. Here, the book details what happens not only if your PCs defeat the big bad guy but how they do it. The endings take into account if the bad guy wins, if the bad guy is defeated or if the bad guy is redeemed. It’s up to the players which path they choose and what happens to the world because of it.
 

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Rob Wieland

Rob Wieland




One thing I'm finding particularly interesting about it compared to most other adventures is the variety of locale types. You start at a fishing village, cross a wasteland to reach a city and delve into the demon-haunted dungeon below, cross the sea to a desert city, dive into the depths to explore a sunken ruin, and finally brave a deep ocean trench of mutant sealife before entering a dungeon formed from memories. That's a lot of travel over long distances and diverse biomes whereas most of the 5E adventure books have been mostly centered around a certain region (such as Waterdeep, Barovia, Prismeer, and Chult).
 
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Ringtail

World Traveller
One thing I'm finding particularly interesting about it compared to most other qdventures is the variety of locale types.
It certainly mimics the style of adventure Matt Mercer runs for Critical Role. I remember somebody made an animation of the party's travels for the second campaign and it's kind of insane how much of the map they cover.

If you padded this out a little (some side quests and random encounters while traveling) this could turn into a pretty hefty odyssey.
 

Smackpixi

Adventurer
Why is Matt Mercer not credited as a writer in this book? Did he really have no hand in writing it? Like Wizards just took his world and did an adventure? Seems Weird.
 

Why is Matt Mercer not credited as a writer in this book? Did he really have no hand in writing it? Like Wizards just took his world and did an adventure? Seems Weird.
Where are you getting this idea that he’s not credited from? They’ve never said or implied anything of the sort.
 

Smackpixi

Adventurer
First post in this thread. The credits page of the book, lol, that’s where I got the idea.

 



I have to say that the rivals pique my interest the most as well. I've tried in past games to set up a rival group of adventurers as a story element that may help or hinder the party, or at least make for interesting interactions, but they inevitably get slaughtered or scared off immediately instead of being a long-term part of the plot.
 


CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
He was probably swamped. And he’s said how much he trusts the writers that are credited.
Yep. And it's not like he's only handing it off and trusting others to write everything, either. He's a project leader, so he'd be responsible for the development of the original concept, and he would review everything the writers and artists produce. He'd work closely with both the writers and the editors, and he would be giving creative input and direction across the length of the project. Unless I'm mistaken, a project leader has more creative control over the project as a whole than the writers do.
 

He is not listed as a writer.
I mean, not in that block below but that’s because he’s the project lead. This was his concept and idea. He brought the base idea and the people in the writer section are the ones who helped to flesh out the different areas of the adventure.

But you somehow mean to imply that because he’s not listed under Writers it means he didn’t actually write any of the book, I don’t know what to tell you. Curse of Strahd doesn’t even have a section for “Writers” in the credits. It just has Perkins listed as Lead Designer and to hear him tell the story he wrote most every word in the book that wasn’t adapted from the original I6 module on his own.

Several books don’t have any writers credited at all, just designers. Doesn’t mean they didn’t get written. It just seems like the way Wizards has credited writers vs developers vs project leads and the like has been pretty inconsistent from book to book since this edition started.
 

Smackpixi

Adventurer
I mean, not in that block below but that’s because he’s the project lead. This was his concept and idea. He brought the base idea and the people in the writer section are the ones who helped to flesh out the different areas of the adventure.

But you somehow mean to imply that because he’s not listed under Writers it means he didn’t actually write any of the book, I don’t know what to tell you. Curse of Strahd doesn’t even have a section for “Writers” in the credits. It just has Perkins listed as Lead Designer and to hear him tell the story he wrote most every word in the book that wasn’t adapted from the original I6 module on his own.

Several books don’t have any writers credited at all, just designers. Doesn’t mean they didn’t get written. It just seems like the way Wizards has credited writers vs developers vs project leads and the like has been pretty inconsistent from book to book since this edition sta
Why do you need to believe his participation was more than it was. All I’m observing is if no writer credit did not help writ adventure, weird.
 


Why do you need to believe his participation was more than it was. All I’m observing is if no writer credit did not help writ adventure, weird.
This is an extremely weird hill to wanna die on but hey, it’s your time to waste if you wanna be pedantic (and yet still incorrect) about it. You’re just gonna have to do it with someone else. I have better things to do with my time, like sleep.
 

Smackpixi

Adventurer
Is it not weird that a guy who wrote thousands of hours of regular critical role adventures did not write this one? I mean, if it was critical role branded beer, sure, would not be surprised to learn Matt Mercer did not brew it, just tasted and approved, but it’s a d&d adventure with “Critical Role” on the cover, I think the average person would expect this was a Matt Mercer written adventure, not just an adventure written by someone else in his world that he shrugged and said not bad to. But that’s what it is. I find it odd and weird that no one else cares and people think I’m weird and stupid for bringing it up.
 

BRayne

Adventurer
Is it not weird that a guy who wrote thousands of hours of regular critical role adventures did not write this one? I mean, if it was critical role branded beer, sure, would not be surprised to learn Matt Mercer did not brew it, just tasted and approved, but it’s a d&d adventure with “Critical Role” on the cover, I think the average person would expect this was a Matt Mercer written adventure, not just an adventure written by someone else in his world that he shrugged and said not bad to. But that’s what it is. I find it odd and weird that no one else cares and people think I’m weird and stupid for bringing it up.

According to Perkins "All of the story beats and big plot points, and settings were all created by Matt Mercer, and he basically handed off his outline and all of his notes to [James Haeck]. The two of them executed on the story, fleshed out the locations and created the monster bestiary with their freelance writers."
 

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