D&D 5E OotA - Arriving at Velkynvelve (Spoilers)

Clumsybob

First Post
Hi all, possible spoilers ahead so don't read if playing Out of the Abyss.

So my question is how did you get your players to Velkynvelve?

I know the adventure suggests just starting there however I don't want to rail road my PC's. I aim to start them on a short adventure and them being 2nd level when they wake up. I have no issues overpowering them and putting them to sleep etc but I can't get my head around the logistics of transporting several unconscious PC's for several days. Likewise I don't want them to travel through the Underdark prior to their arrival.

I did have the idea of the semi conscious PC's after being captured by a surface drow raiding party being put through a portal to Velkynvelve and dropped into the webs before being collected by spiders and placed in the cell.

Has anyone else addressed the same issue? I would appreciate your thoughts.
 

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Shadowdweller00

Adventurer
I've got to say, in my personal experience: Players tend not to mind starting an adventure which presumes that they've already been captured. (And for the record, that's not railroading). They mind very much more having to go through a adventure, fight, or scene where they get captured...regardless of player agency or choice. There's no particular reason why one should carry unconscious PCs. You could just as easily explain that the drow marched the PCs through an endless and confusing series of tunnels, blindfolded or under cover of magical darkness if you feel the need for excessive justification as to why the PCs end up lost after escaping.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
You should really reconsider... And starting the adventure in Velkynvelve.

Anything else, and you need to ask yourself "am I prepared to allow the PCs to escape, and never reach the outpost?"

If the PCs do not have a real shot at escaping during transport, then you shouldn't play it out. And if there is, you can be sure they will escape, and then you have basically replaced Velkynvelve for an escape scenario you will have to provide all the details yourself.

And what's even more difficult to pull off is the actual capture. Basically, don't have fights with scripted outcomes. And that's what it is. If you intend to use OotA as written, in any case.

Being ambushed by utterly overwhelming force is never fun. And if the Drow aren't utterly overwhelming, you can bet the players will do anything and everything to escape, if not outright win the fight. There's a real risk at least one PC will escape.

And if the "award" for this into miss the adventure, then... well. Point is: narrate the capture, don't play it out round by round. And if you do, why not simply skip it altogether and instead start by telling the players they're slaves deep underground. If anything, ask your players to come up with the particulars as to how each individual got here themselves!

Like has been said, for there to be a railroad the players must conceive of several alternatives. And since it's the start of the adventure, there aren't any.

So you really needn't worry about your players feeling railroaded. Just start playing in Velkynvelve right after chargen as recommended
 
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wedgeski

Adventurer
I simply said to my players: "This is a campaign that starts you with no gear in a prison cell, are you okay with that?"

They were all fine with it. All I did then was ask them to come up with the circumstances that led them to that prison cell, and those backgrounds will hopefully provide me with a little more meat to connect the PC's more with the adventure.

As the Capn said, that seemed preferable to a prelude adventure that must end with them as prisoners of the drow.

Edit: welcome to the board!!
 

Iosue

Hero
I had them roll to determine how many days they'd been captured before the game started, then when the day of them being captured came, I had them describe how they'd been captured. This let them have some creative choice in how they entered the game, and provided opportunities to flesh out their characters.
 

Like others, I just started with them as prisoners, and let them figure out how each of them got there.

While the idea of having a combat lead to the capture is appealing, the problem is that the end result pretty much has to be a forgone conclusion, by nature of the module. Maybe you could have the drow take an NPC prisoner – someone important to the PCs, that they will go to rescue. But then you’re stuck with them travelling through the Underdark after them, which you said you don’t want to do.
 

Valdier

Explorer
I gave each of my players a quick story based on their histories, and backgrounds. Each was captured by the drow in some way, imprisoned and had been being transported by magic via different drow slavers. They all eventually made their way to Velk where they became prisoners.
 

CAFRedblade

Explorer
I gave them some background on the fact they were working as caravan guards up on the surface. One night when it wasn't any of their turns for nightwatch the Drow attacked, using their sleep poison they are famous for, and killing/driving off the rest of the caravan.
 

Tyranthraxus

Explorer
I actually introduced my players one a day over a period of 6 days. It gave rise to some strange trials of dominance in the cells between Ront and some of the characters and avoided the 'everyone is imprisoned at the same time' . I had players roll off for the order they were inserted.
 

Endur

First Post
The basic plot hook for OOTA has issues.

The module assumes that the PCs are from the surface world, were captured by the drow, and won't be able to make it back to the surface world after getting free without going on an Odyssey around the Underdark.

Problems with that scenario?

1) Captured by DM fiat or by role playing it, both have their issues;

2) If they were captured on the surface world, how did the drow bring them to the underdark and why can't the PCs use that route to go back home? A one-way portal could solve that issue, sort of.

3) Why were these particular surface worlders captured? Most of the other prisoners are from the underdark?

4) If they were captured in the underdark, why would they be trying to find their way back to the surface?

I like the module, but the beginning plot hook is weak.
 

Tyranthraxus

Explorer
Endur: My biggest issue is the reliance on Random Encounter tables and NO level guidance. Princes of the Apocalypse at least had a rough guide on what level people should of been to hit certain parts of the adventure. Out of the Abyss has NONE at all. Zlich.

I understand that every underdark adventure should be different but Im not a fan of leaving party survivability to the vagaries of a dice roll.
 

ad_hoc

(he/they)
Endur: My biggest issue is the reliance on Random Encounter tables and NO level guidance. Princes of the Apocalypse at least had a rough guide on what level people should of been to hit certain parts of the adventure. Out of the Abyss has NONE at all. Zlich.

I understand that every underdark adventure should be different but Im not a fan of leaving party survivability to the vagaries of a dice roll.

This is one of the reasons why I love the adventure. It is a sandbox.

As for the OP, what you are proposing to do to the PCs is railroading. What the adventure does is start In Media Res.

The game has to start somewhere. How do the PCs come to be wherever they are in any adventure? You make a backstory that fits. One nice thing about the start of OotA is that the PCs can all have completely disparate backstories.
 

mgshamster

First Post
One of my characters went into the underdark looking for exciting adventures after reading about it in a book. He got captured by the drow. Another was a slave in the dwarven caverns above he underdark. He escaped into the underdark hoping to find freedom. He was captured by the drow. A third lived on the borders of the underdark, protecting an underground temple. During a foraging trip, he was captured by the drow.

The adventure began with them all chained to a long rod by their neck and being forced marched to Velkynvelve.

Our final character joined late; he was investigating the disappearance of people from his home town. His investigation led him to the underdark. He ran into the rest of the party just after they escaped Velkynvelve. If he had joined on time, he would have been captured by the drow.

For each of my players, we talked one-on-one for how their character was captured before the game started. We tailored it to their specific character.
 

Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I had the PCs incorporate into their backgrounds how they were captured. The drow transported them to Velkynvelve via one of their many pathways to the Underdark in methods that seemed reasonable whether walking like Conan where many died on the way and the PC was one or the few to survive or pack animal like giant spiders wrapped in cocoons and envenomed. I figured the drow have control over spiders, spiders can do the job paralyzing the captured and cocooning them for easy transport. Some guard occasionally wakes them and feeds them gruel. The ones that live end up in Velkynvelve.

I contemplated running their capture. Some folks on here told me not to bother because players don't like being impossible encounters. I wasn't too worried about that part because I can make any encounter fun and I've captured players before turning it into a fun role-playing experience between captor and captured. I decided against it because I didn't want the party to be captured in once place and know each other. Thus the background became the place to tell me how your character was captured. Players have fun dreaming up backgrounds as to why they ended up in Velkynvelve and it allowed them to work in reasons why they hate the drow. Killed family members during the raid and the like.

I'd let your players have fun with dreaming up what happened when they were captured by the drow. That allows them to more fully invest in hating the drow at Velkynvelve. As far as transport, walk or spider pack animals keeping them cocooned and unconscious or whatever other reasonable manner you come up with.
 

feartheminotaur

First Post
We're playing this at the FLGS. The DM actually had two modules ready to go - this and some third party one. He basically set up a combat encounter after we RP'ed meeting (at a tavern, naturally) so that players who were new to DnD/unfamiliar with 5e could get acclimated with the ins and outs of the system. The encounter was with slavers. If enough of the PCs were defeated, we woke up in a slave caravan to the Underdark. If we won, or ran away, we would have started the other module.

The slaver leader had a scroll of sleep - 4 out of 5 of us failed our save. So, we woke up in a chain of slaves being marched to the Underdark, and were bought by the drow (and secreted to Velkynvelve). Made for lots of fun RP to start.

I do, however, agree with everyone who said "just start as a prisoner", although, it doesn't have to be in the Underdark. Players could be gladiators bought to entertain the drow, with a pre-sale combat or two in the arena to level up. Anything really. Players can still gain XP and levels in chains; they don't have to start out as free creatures if you want to start before the module's official beginning.
 

Clumsybob

First Post
Thanks for the replies. I think I will settle with my original plan to run the Adventure as normal on the surface world for a level then drop the change to the underdark suddenly.
The mechanism to get them there will probably be poison administered by a believed ally.

I want the adventure to be a shock and maintain a horror almost powerless element at the begining. So much so that I have a brand new player who's death I have negotiated to shock the more experienced players in the group.
 

The basic plot hook for OOTA has issues.

The module assumes that the PCs are from the surface world, were captured by the drow, and won't be able to make it back to the surface world after getting free without going on an Odyssey around the Underdark.

Problems with that scenario?

1) Captured by DM fiat or by role playing it, both have their issues;

2) If they were captured on the surface world, how did the drow bring them to the underdark and why can't the PCs use that route to go back home? A one-way portal could solve that issue, sort of.

3) Why were these particular surface worlders captured? Most of the other prisoners are from the underdark?

4) If they were captured in the underdark, why would they be trying to find their way back to the surface?

I like the module, but the beginning plot hook is weak.

1) Not really. Starting the adventure as a prisoner no one really objects to. You supposed to let them say how they were captured as well. There is no issue with it that I see.

2) The Drow know the routes between the surface and the Underdark and the PC's likely were not conscious or could not see at all during their travel. (The Underdark is dark after all, and its a huge complex maze of tunnels and caves so retracing steps would likely been very hard.)

3) Because Drow like their slaves. Drow go on surface raids all the time and take prisoners back to the underdark. The pc's were taken because they were captured by drow raid team. Drow also take underdark races as slaves. There is no problem here.

4) They don't have to have been captured in the Underdark and if they were they could have wound up in the underdark by accident or they were not going to be in the underdark very long. Anyway the adventure assumes surface races anyway and Drow do surface raids all the time.
 

One thing to watch out for is that dwarves are resistant to poison. I could see a player getting argumentative over that. Of course, being the only PC standing and surrounded by enemies isn't a good position to be in, either.

The mechanism to get them there will probably be poison administered by a believed ally.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Again, the best solution: tell the players the characters start out in captivity - but leave it to the players to explain how.

This way, you're guaranteed a story that works for the player.
 

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