Out of the Abyss

Ningauble

First Post
3 out of 5 rating for Out of the Abyss

I really wanted to like this adventure. It has been a long time since I've DM'd a good Underdark crawl and I was sold on the "Alice in Wonderland" vibe. But the more I read, all I could envision was a lot of work and prep to actually run this thing. Also, the story line is quite average. The PCs to me seem like they are basically just sight seeing the Underdark and bumping into various demon princes along the way. After paying $50, I expected a lot more. I'm a busy professional and father so doing a lot of prep is not my thing. While there are some useable bits, overall this is more of a campaign book than an adventure. I can't see myself running this and I'm afraid my copy will end up on eBay some day. I won't be suckered into the WOTC marketing hype so easily next time. Rating: C-.
 

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SharnDM

Explorer
4 out of 5 rating for Out of the Abyss

Out of the Abyss starts strong with a unique approach to bringing the characters together and goes to great lengths to make the early stages of their work as a team be about pure survival in this alien world. The Underdark is truly brought to life as the players struggle with their newly made NPC friends to escape bonds and simply live to see tomorrow and all around them the Underdark grows even more crazed under the effects of the new rampaging threats. There comes a point where other than pure altruism and heroism the players have to be forced with the question of "Why would we even consider saving this place that was a literal Hell for us for months!?" That little question and a few drops on the side of what is made available for the DM right away take me from a 5 Star rating to a 4 but overall this is a really well designed Adventure Path. Perfect for Adventurer's League and only less so for a home table. I'm currently running it for my group and you can find all sorts of tools I've generated and post game write ups here: https://melsmifgames.wordpress.com/gaming-tools/out-of-the-abyss/
 

ShadowDenizen

Explorer
4 out of 5 rating for Out of the Abyss

Much of what I'm going to say here has already been said by others, so I'll just pick out the highlights for this review.Ultimately, much of what is "Good" can also be considered "Bad" as well.The good:- This is a better module, overall, than "Dragon-Queen" or "Princes of the Apocalypse" in almost every sense.- This module gives the players free agency to go wherever the hell they want to in the UNderdark.- There's tons of engaging NPC's. including cameos from a certain well-known Dwarvemn King and his Drow ally.The bad:- Player Agency is great, but I think that very few groups are truly prepared for Sandbox-style play. (I find most groups I've interacted with like the illusion of freedom, but are often overwhelmed by the sheer number of options available to them.)- This is not a very newbie-friendly module for DM's. The DM will have to do a lot of work to prepare to run this, as there's a number of new mechanics to absorb or brush up on (Chase Rules, Madness, starvation rules, etc.)- There's tons of engaging NPC's for the DM to keep track of and create personalites for. (Sure, each has a few lines to describe their motivations, but that doesn't NECESSARILY help a DM (particularly a NEW DM!) bring them to life.- DRIZZT. GRRRRRR!
 

timbannock

Adventurer
3 out of 5 rating for Out of the Abyss

A neuronphaser.com review.

If you’re looking for material to loot for your home game, this book is solid gold: evocative NPCs, a great variety of locations and plot threads, a superb mixture of railroady adventure path-style and wide-open exploration, and some incredibly iconic villains are the bread and butter of Out of the Abyss. But if you’re looking for a campaign to run from start to finish, the organization of topics and internal referencing is atrocious, and the adventure kicks in without preamble. DMs will be forced to put a lot of elbow grease into running this thing; expect a lot of note-taking, index-writing, and on-the-fly page-flipping. Luckily, it’s a great adventure, so it’s worth the work if you enjoy the prep phase of DMing. Even better, other folks have already put in the work for enterprising DMs, and that kicks this over the fence from Meh to Thumbs Up!

Rating: Content 3/5 and Form 4/5.

Read the full review at neuronphaser.com!

We also write articles and supplements to improve every game at the table, including Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, Cortex Plus, Palladium's various games, Ryuutama, Dungeon World, and many more. Check out our site and poke around!
 

sphere830

First Post
4 out of 5 rating for Out of the Abyss

Few published adventures compare to the epic scope and captures the desolate and maddening ambience of both the Underdark and demon lords as Out of the Abyss (OotA). Since this product has been out so long I won't offer a complete review, as there are many others. I will mention a few of my favorite parts of OotA and how I intend on using it in my current campaign. I have played through this campaign from start to finish. After completing the adventure, in a party with 5 other players, I bought a copy of both the book and DM screen for my collection. Now I have both played through and read most of this published module. First I must say, that I wish the book had more useful appendices and indexes. I also wish that this book had a dramatis persona like the newer Storm King's Thunder. In fact, this book works as both a complete campaign, but in my opinion, even better as an Underdark setting.

Let me explain what I mean about this adventure. I plan to use it from level 8-10 onward. I want my players to establish themselves on the surface world as notable and successful adventurers. I also want them to have established some holdings and minor titles on the surface world. This will enhance (positively speaking) the potential of maddness and death in a world removed from where their fame and wealth exists. Fortune and glory only matter when you have a crowd that recognizes the player character's deeds. Being summoned by Bruenor will be my players first introduction to the incursion of demon lords which threatens the very existence of Faerun. In fact, in true "classic" fashion I aim to make this exploration available after Storm King's Thunder--as the unknown catalyst for the dissolved Ordning. As retro/nostalgic as this move is (harkening back to Queen of Spiders), I am also allowing this story arc to manifest slowly. But I am not railroading the players toward the Underdark. If they avoid the call, then they will eventually face Demogorgon (or other more party-specific demon lord for that matter) on the surface in the desolate North somewhere sometime.

I could also see this being an extension of Mine of Phandelver, Princes of the Apocalypse, or as this current campaign is starting off--through city adventuring in Waterdeep. I am sandboxing and including in this campaign SKT, PotA, and OotA. This will be through custom rumor tables, some synthesized NPCs from each book listed above, and older 2nd edition boxsets (specifically City of Splendors, Undermountain, and The Night Below). Rulebook-wise, I'm using the three 5E core books and Volo's guide to Monsters. Madness will be a subtle part of the campaign from the beginning as well as some mention of the Society of Brilliance, but only in passing esoteric mentions of an example of madness. Crumblecake, from PotA, has already been served and touted from the Dessarin Valley in a tavern in Waterdeep.

Some cliches mentioned by town folks in my campaign:

"Those two fight like giants and dragons!"
"Your acting more mental than the society of brilliance."
"You don't know the dark of it young adventurer."
"Say what you will about those farmers in Dessarin Valley, but they know just desserts."

*Spoiler Alert

Out of the Abyss can be run in a number of ways. The adventure can be run linearly or through a more loosely oriented sandbox. I think that you can avoid any sense of railroading through using this book as a high-level adventure area (9th level plus). I am also going to be expanding Menzoborranzan (employing material from Vault of the Drow) as a larger portion of the eventual story/scenario, if the party ever makes it that far. I also am going to employ Viceran Devir differently than the book as a more open adversary of the party. Wherein his ritual device, bringing the remaining demon lords together for the final encounter (proper) of this adventure also teleports the party and demonlords to Sigil (Planescape), the Abyss, or someplace that makes sense/maximum destruction against the earlier established PC holdings. All of this planning is loose and will change significantly over the next year or more that this campaign will take to unfold.

Employing this book as an adventure area or an open area to explore raises the value of this product. While the adventure starting as captives and running from drow slavers is a fantastic beginning, this adventure also serves as a brilliant mid-high level module in its own right. This is where I agree with some people's criticism of this campaign--which is that you need some experience to run it--to that end this is how I am employing this into a campaign, but first some negatives.

A few critiques, which is only fair, is that Out of the Abyss is not as beginner-friendly as other published 5E material. More useful appendixes and better organization for the many NPCs would have helped the layout of this campaign significantly. There is a large cast of NPCs, areas to explore, constant environmental hazards and a rather advanced madness system to employ into your campaign. This would be challenging for a DM's first material to prepare. That said, this is a wondrous toolkit for more experienced DMs that don't mind seducing your players into the Underdark.

The dungeons are largely areas and cities to add to your campaign world, even if you don't use the story-arc (drow summoning demon lords into the world for an epic showdown). Utilizing travel maps from the Night Below boxset is especially useful as there are months of traveling in OotA. *This product ranks up there as one of the three best products about the Underdark ever in my opinion. I count this book as a must-have for those that are fans of the Underdark. Think of this book as a collection of adventure areas, NPCs, and madness inducing situations within the Underdark to understand the strong 4 stars that I give this book.

*My top three Underdark supplements/campaign/module
1. Vault of the Drow
2. Night Below (boxset Campaign)
3. Out of the Abyss

Honorable mention is the super module "Queen of Spiders." While no one can take away from the innovations of the G,D,&Q modules, the organization and use-ability of these listed products above surpass the original super-module in this case.
 
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Brandegoris

First Post
1 out of 5 rating for Out of the Abyss

This adventure was silly. The set up of the Dungeons wasn't good. It made no sense that when you get to ONE level of a Dungeon you weren't supposed to descend any further because somehow you should've known that you were supposed to go to a different elemental dungeon and do their FIRST level then another and do THEIR first level then back to the original Dungeon and handle their second level etc.
Who would do that? its unnatural. When u explore a dungeon and find an opening to a lower level the natural reaction is to go deeper. Why would you Inexplicably leave and say " ill come back after I find 3 other dungeons and explore THEIR first levels".?? Answer: you wouldn't

So as a result a TPK results once you get in over your head.
Not designed well at all
 

RMcCall

Explorer
5 out of 5 rating for Out of the Abyss

I am excited at how open-ended the adventure is, as the party can choose where they travel, which companions they keep, and how to deal with the inhabitants they encounter. Even with a party that has read the adventure, it would be a fun challenge!
 

Jesse David

First Post
1 out of 5 rating for Out of the Abyss

[FONT=&quot]Played through this adventure (and subsequently read much of it), and the best moments were all when the DM deviated from the content. Played lots of other great adventures with same DM - this one was the most railroady and overlong and frustrating to get through. Not recommended.[/FONT]
 

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