D&D 5E Out of the Abyss: more level 10-15 adventures?

CapnZapp

Legend
SPOILERS

My OotA campaign is about to kick off the second half; beginning with Bruenor's summons.

But looking at the second half of the adventure, I'm not really seeing the amount of adventure I found in the first half.

Previously, just skimming the book, I kind of assumed there would be (very) roughly one level's worth of adventure per chapter of the book: eight levels up to Gauntlgrym; eight more levels afterwards. (Give or take a level or so).

But now that I'm reading the chapters more closely I'm getting worried the book expects a lot of travelling where xp is provided by mere padding; random encounters.

And that has gotten old, fast. It was fun as a way to paint the Underdark picture right after the Velkynvelve escape. But I'm not really looking forward to having much more of that.

Plainly speaking: is there enough adventure to really bring the party up to level 15?

Very basically: if there's a map, there's an adventure. Without a map, things get incredibly fuzzy.

Mantol-Derith is okay; that's a fully fleshed out adventure site. And so are the Wormwrithings and Vast Oblivium. That's three levels right there.

Gravenhollow is one gigantic info dump, and I think my players will be itching for action well before they're done. (And if not, it feels strange to award a level for Library Use - this isn't Call of Cthulhu :p)

Vizeran's tower can be an adventure, but it can also be a lot of talk only. I'm not seeing a level's worth here either.

I'm starting to suspect I need to inject a site-based encounter somewhere during all that talking in Gravenhallow/Vizeran so the players get something to do, so they get to make decisions... and not just taking notes - perhaps the Maze Engine could be brought forward? Or Vizeran is only an echo of his real self that's imprisoned in hos own towers, meaning the party to get to battle themselves into meeting him (without that necessarily leading to hostility)

The Labyrinth and Fetid Weddings should be a level each, but I'm getting a strange vibe here - it feels uncooked, underdeveloped. Is there a level here? (The Maze Engine is great though)

Menzoberannzan: having to raid the Drow Capital is cool, but do they really? If they don't want to enact Vizeran's revenge, and he doesn't need Gromphs book...?

Gracklestugh and the Underdark 2 (capters 8 & 10) aren't levels as I'm seeing it. Perhaps if I could come up with upleveled versions of the Chapter 2 sites I haven't used yet.

Perhaps pessimistically, I'm counting perhaps four definite levels.

Do I need to look for additional adventures to bring the PCs up to level 14-16 before the finale? Did you?
 
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Guest 6801328

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I haven't played it, but reading through it I got the exact same impression, so curious to see answers from those with experience.
 


Celtavian

Dragon Lord
I had to beef the xp substantially. I boosted the xp during travel with much more dangerous encounters. I increased the enemy experience substantially in Mantol-Derith by adding more Zhentarim enemies with the beholder. I decided to have the PCs meet the drow hunting party in Mantol-Derith as an unfortunate occurrence to enhance the Mantol-Derith encounter. From there I've been boosting encounters during travel adding in more demons and other dangerous creatures with a higher experience value. Given the nature of travel as a one or two day encounter, the party can generally handle some high experience encounters. You can boost their level quite a bit.

Now as far as the chapters, I'm rewriting the Labyrinth into a far more dangerous encounter worthy of 11th level characters with legendary weapons and artifacts. I can't believe they felt minotaurs, gnoll packs, grell, or even a single behir could challenge 11th level plus characters and expect them to level. I'm assuming they knew a DM would have to do substantial work to boost the encounters. The later chapters are weakly designed. The high level design is seriously lacking. You'll have to put a lot of work in at this point to challenge the characters. The Wormwrithings have a few dangerous areas, especially if one gets swallowed and dragged off, but a high level party should be able to handle the situation.

I'll have a heavily modified Spire of the Horned King up soon if you want to check out what I'm doing to boost experience and make the chapter more dangerous.
 
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SPOILERS

Perhaps pessimistically, I'm counting perhaps four definite levels.

Actually, I think that's pretty optimistic. My group is moving into the second half now and from my read through none of the chapters come close to a level of xp for appropriately leveled groups.

SPOILERS

Personally, I am planning to add some areas and beef up others, but wrap up the campaign around level 10. Really there is no reason the campaign needs to run to level 15 other than that seems to be a magic number the authors were trying to hit. Even as written characters are facing nerfed versions of the demon lords so if you just nerf them a bit more they become challenges for a level 10 party. Also I don't love how the last half of the campaign just becomes a scavenger hunt to find items for a ritual.

Another option is to just use milestone leveling, but frankly most groups are going to be getting multiple levels per session if you go this route so not really ideal IMO.

My outline for the last half of the campaign looks something like:

Lev. 7 - Mantol-Derith. Beefing up the duergar quarter a bit so its more than just a big warehouse of evil dwarves to fight and streamlining the story a bit.

Lev. 7.5 - Gravenhollow. The demonic corruption has hit Gravenhollow and driven the stone giant insane. The party will have to fight demons that have overrun the library, corrupted guardians, and insane giants, then figure out how to use the library. Eventually the meet and join forces with Vizeran.

Lev. 8 - Fetid Wedding/Tower of Vengeance. While plotting with Vizeran on how to defeat the demon lords, the party gets the summons from Soverign Basidia to the Fetid Wedding. Planning to beef up the episode with more mid-level demons, maybe more in the mind of Araumycos, but cut out the fight with nerfed Juiblex.

Lev. 8.5 Drider Enclave. Returning to the Tower of Vengence, Vizeran tells the party he has a plan but they need info in the possession of a failed drow wizard, now a exiled drider. The party must assault a drider enclave (I'm going to use the wormwrithings) and capture the target.

Lev. 9 Sorcere. Using the teleport circle sequence learned from the captured drider, Vizeran teleports the party to Sorcere where they assault Gromph's sanctum to obtain the information they need to banish the demon lords. Tough fights against drow, demons, and magic guardians, plus a race against time to get out before drow reinforcements overwhelm them.

Lev. 10 - Finale. Players attempt the ritual to send the demons back. If they go to Menzo they have to fight drow attempting to stop the ritual. If they attempt the ritual elsewhere they are attacked by waves of demons and eventually a weakened demon lord trying to stop them.

Personally, I think this hits all of the cool stuff without feeling like the campaign is bogging down with filler.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Thank you all.

Okay, so my hunch wasn't entirely wrong.

Then my question becomes: can you recommend any good underdark dungeon delves to slot into the adventure? At level 12ish I suppose. Any edition's good.

I'm mostly asking for short adventures, since we already have an overall story. A location based scenario offering half a dozen encounters would be perfect.
 
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Finneris

First Post
I haven't gotten to this point in the adventure but I'm thinking of having the players go to castle Ravenloft for a quick visit and have chat with good ol' Straud for a few encounters. If that doesn't sound appealing to, it's not that unbelievable for an alternate entrance to the temple of Earth from the "Elemental Evil" adventure path, could be found in the underdark. I've never really looked at those books myself but I'm sure those dungeons could be updated to challenge a level 11 party pretty easily.
 

jrowland

First Post
Gravenhollow is a great place to beef up with some encounters.

I think encountering TWO Vizerans, one from the past and one from the present is cool. With the Faerzress going all wonky, the past "ghost vestiges" could become real. (Die Surface Scum!).
 

feartheminotaur

First Post
A couple I've played and like:

D3 Vault of the Drow and/or Queen of the Demonweb Pits as well as their 3.5 update, Expedition to the Demonweb Pits have some nice Underdark/Drow/Demon stuff. The 3.5 one specifically has a heavy involvement of the Demon Lords.

I like the Abyss mini-adventure in the 1E mod, OP1 Tales of the Outer Planes
 

CapnZapp

Legend
A couple I've played and like:

D3 Vault of the Drow and/or Queen of the Demonweb Pits as well as their 3.5 update, Expedition to the Demonweb Pits have some nice Underdark/Drow/Demon stuff. The 3.5 one specifically has a heavy involvement of the Demon Lords.

I like the Abyss mini-adventure in the 1E mod, OP1 Tales of the Outer Planes
The drow adventures are more like full campaigns of their own rather than the shorter side treks and dungeon delves I'm looking for. Also, the Drow feature prominently during the first half of OotA, so they can well keep to the sidelines during the second. Besides, the OotA storyline provides reasons why it can be a good idea to not focus on the Drow as the campaign closes. Not only that, they're modules my players have already played...

That Abyss mini-adventure sounds more like what could easily slot into the overall OotA plotline; thanks!
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Gravenhollow is a great place to beef up with some encounters.

I think encountering TWO Vizerans, one from the past and one from the present is cool. With the Faerzress going all wonky, the past "ghost vestiges" could become real. (Die Surface Scum!).
Yeah, all that exposition really needs some explosions :)
 

CapnZapp

Legend
Really there is no reason the campaign needs to run to level 15 other than that seems to be a magic number the authors were trying to hit. Even as written characters are facing nerfed versions of the demon lords so if you just nerf them a bit more they become challenges for a level 10 party.
Nah, defeating demon lords and fixing archmage spell errors sounds much more like stuff you need level 15 heroes for, so I'll stick to the general outline.

Thanks though
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I had to beef the xp substantially.
I'm awarding levels as I see fit (not tracking xp) so that bit isn't a big problem.

The issue is more: do the encounters that are specified work as advertised, and are there enough specified location-based encounters?

Pure random travelling wandering monsters isn't my thing, so part of my problem is that I'm definitely not going with the months and months of travel time (and the resulting random encounters).

I increased the enemy experience substantially in Mantol-Derith
Thanks for the heads up. Yes, I'll probably have to add more grunt troops and have them be led by various elite duergar (the book does provide several different kinds), making Mantol-Derith be more like a war zone than a inconsequential skirmish.

I can't believe they felt minotaurs, gnoll packs, grell, or even a single behir could challenge 11th level plus characters
I feel a bit surprised myself. Take the Troglodyte encounter for instance.

The writing seems to imply the party interacts with the Trogs in some other way than just obliterating them. But trogs are smelly nasty underdark vermin; why would they even bother about their squabbling when it would be easier and faster to simply wade right through them? Trogs are CR 1/4!

Even if all twenty were Champions as detailed by OotA it would still be a weak encounter, since they do pitiful damage - all those hit points would only make it a slow fight, not a dangerous one.

The later chapters are weakly designed. The high level design is seriously lacking.
At first blush, the first problem is still using too many creatures in the very low CR range and not using enough double-digit CR creatures as rank-and-file troopers.

I know bounded accuracy makes a few promises, but really, there's still a limit to what use a CR 1 humanoid can be in a level 15 fight...
 

CapnZapp

Legend
What do y'all think about replacing them Troglodytes (page 168) with Fomorians? That should give the party pause, since at CR 8 each an all-out attack would be very painful indeed. Now diplomacy doesn't sound so useless any longer...
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I'll introduce fomorians by having a fight with a single fomorian, so they'll have some inkling of why an all-out assault might be painful.

I'm thinking one fomorian, one umber hulk, and a dozen CR 3 grimlocks. Let me see if I can't post their stats.
 

DM_Jeff

Explorer
There's a lot of encounter set pieces that are more like mini-adventures in Caves and Cavern by Raging Swan Press. It's stocked with pathfinder monsters but they could be swapped out easily enough.

Caves and Caverns
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I'll have a heavily modified Spire of the Horned King up soon if you want to check out what I'm doing to boost experience and make the chapter more dangerous.
I'm still a fair way's off, but yes, I'm interested in this. In the book, the Spire is little more than a low-level wandering monster table. The name, however, is awesome :)
 

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