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


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A project lead tells the writers what the content should be, including major themes and notable nuances. The project lead has the power to look at what you wrote and tell you to write something entirely different instead.

I've known some project leads that were pretty aloof about what you write, but Mercer strikes me as a more involved guy even at his busiest
 

Is it not weird that a guy who wrote thousands of hours of regular critical role adventures did not write this one?
No. I've created lots of D&D adventures, but they are in the form of notes and outlines, not anything that would mean much to someone else. If I wanted to publish them I would need to employ a writer to turn them into a form that could be understood by people who are not me. "Writer" is not the same as "author", even though they are often used as synonyms, which is clearly why you are confused. In movies, it is the director who is considered the "author" of the movie, not the screenwriters.
 


Can this be run as is ( are there god's for clerics etc) or do you need another book / source of lore for pc races etc.
Thx.
John
You don't need the setting book. All the standard races exist in the setting, and the deities are mostly imported from other settings. A god from any setting or none would fit in Exandria just fine.
 

dalisprime

Explorer
You don't need the setting book. All the standard races exist in the setting, and the deities are mostly imported from other settings. A god from any setting or none would fit in Exandria just fine.
Including pathfinder since at least one of the Exandrian gods is borrowed from that setting, so feel free to go wild.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Does anyone seriously think Kevin Feige didn't drive the story behind most if not all of the MCU films? It's not a hand's off-affair, letting the writers create whatever they want and executing that vision.

Feige's fingers are ALL OVER the MCU.

Likewise, Mercer's fingers are all over this book. He may not have written a single word of the actual book, but it's his story and idea and to suggest he's just there in name only is speculation that has outright been denied by statements made by both WotC and the CR team…
 

Savage Wombat

Adventurer
I'm curious how much DM "fixing" - a la the Alexandrian's rebuilds - this module will need. At least the plot appears more plausible than some.
 

Can this be run as is ( are there god's for clerics etc) or do you need another book / source of lore for pc races etc.
Thx.
John
The gods are the same ones as the "Dawn War" cosmology in the 5E DMG, with the addition of Raei (who is derived from Pathfinder's Sarenrae).

Asmodeus, Bahamut, Bane, Corellon, Gruumsh, Kord, Lolth, Moradin, Pelor, Sehanine, Tharizdun, Tiamat, and Vecna are derived from the gods of other settings, though in some places their lore is a bit different than what is presented in other settings (Vecna's backstory in particular being significantly different).

As mentioned before, Raei is based on Sehanine from Pathfinder, although since Pelor exists in this setting she is more of a goddess of healing and redemption and less of a solar deity.

The remaining deities first appeared in the default 4E setting. Here's a brief rundown about them:
  • Avandra - Goddess of Change
  • Erathis - Goddess of Civilization
  • Ioun - Goddess of Knowledge (Ioun Stones were retconned to be named after her)
  • Melora - Goddess of Nature
  • The Raven Queen - Goddess of Death (she's closer to the 4E lore for her than the radically different version described in Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes)
  • Torog - God of Imprisonment (and formerly the Underdark, until he was banished from it)
  • Zehir - God of Assassination and the Yuan-ti
There's also a number of "Lesser Idols", beings that aren't gods but are close enough that they can empower both clerics and warlocks (though they aren't as powerful as gods, seeing as one, The Traveler, was nearly imprisoned by an angel as punishment for trying to pass himself off as an aspect of Sehanine).

One of the NPC rivals in this adventure, Dermot Wurder, is a cleric of the lesser idol called the Luxon. The Luxon is unique in that very little is known about it other than through related artifacts called Luxon Beacons that enable a special form of reincarnation. Followers of the Luxon believe that the Luxon brought life to the world that the gods merely reshaped for their own purposes, that there are many hidden Luxon Beacons to be found, and once all of them have been discovered and brought together the Luxon will bring both itself and its followers enlightenment. Supposedly the Raven Queen, as the goddess of death, is unhappy with the followers of the Luxon defying death through reincarnation, but nothing has happened concerning that yet.
 
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Ulorian

Adventurer
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.
I'd say the same thing about your response honestly. He just made an observation and you seem to be making a crusade out of it. You're both right. He's listed as a Project Lead, which implies, as you say, that he might have had at least some hand in writing it. But @Smackpixi is just wondering why that isn't reflected in the Writer section of the credits. That's all. You seem to be the one who's trying to escalate.
 


Parmandur

Book-Friend
Can this be run as is ( are there god's for clerics etc) or do you need another book / source of lore for pc races etc.
Thx.
John
Yeah, Exandria is pretty standard D&D fare, the big differences that come into play here seem to be covered in the NPC and location descriptions (Drow being a non-evil surface dwelling civilization, for instance).

That said, the Wildemount Setting book has useful material that would blend together well, particularly the Setting specific lifepath generator for PCs, since the first half of the adventure is in Wildemount.
 

Yeah, Exandria is pretty standard D&D fare, the big differences that come into play here seem to be covered in the NPC and location descriptions (Drow being a non-evil surface dwelling civilization, for instance).

That said, the Wildemount Setting book has useful material that would blend together well, particularly the Setting specific lifepath generator for PCs, since the first half of the adventure is in Wildemount.
Yeah, it's like VGR is to CoS. You don't need it but if you have it you will have opportunity to use it.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Yeah, it's like VGR is to CoS. You don't need it but if you have it you will have opportunity to use it.
The Wildemount book also has four low level intro Adventures, written by the same team that made this book, that would serve as a preamble to the first chapter here pretty smoothly (particularly the Xhoras intro module).
 


BRayne

Adventurer
The Traveler's just a pseudonym for this guy. He's really a red-haired elven archfey named Artagan that at this point has pissed-off both Corellon and Sehanine.

If you want to be technical, Laura Bailey made a trickery cleric for a pair of one shots on other channels (KindaFunny and Gamespot) and in picking an interesting sounding god from the options provided in the subclass landed on The Traveler, which she carried over with some adjustments (Artagan instead of Eberron lore) when that cleric turned from a one shot character to her campaign 2 character
 

The Traveler's just a pseudonym for this guy. He's really a red-haired elven archfey named Artagan that at this point has pissed-off both Corellon and Sehanine.
It's just a pseudonym in Eberron too. As far as I know his true nature has never been revealed there, but there is nothing to say he is not a red-haired elven archfey named Artagan.
 

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