sabato 26 settembre 2015

Out of the Abyss Review - Introduction&Chapter 1 - English Version

This is a full review of the brand new adventure Out of the Abyss, freshly published for D&D 5th edition.
I'll have a post for every chapter.
This one will have also a few general hints about the adventure..
If you want to play OotA as a PG the stop reading:
General Informations
1) It's settled in Forgotten Realms' Underdark (Northern Sword Coast area), with very few trips on the surface.
You can easily run the adventure in other settings as long they have an Underdark with its traditional creatures. Greyhawk and Mystara are the most suitable, but I think you can run it also in DarkSun: Underdark is very alien and mysterious, and its rules can completely be different from those on surface ("Hey!! Who would have wondered there would be something alive under Athas' desert???")
2) There's no rigid timeline. You can play it before or after the Times of Troubles, the Spellplague or The Sundering.
Changes are minimal.
For example I gonna run it in the Forgotten Realms' "past" (more or less 100 years before the Times of Troubles).
If I'm going to run another FR campaign in  more common years OotA's PCs will be considered (hopefully) like mythical heroes who had saved the world.
I only need to replace King Bruenor Battlehammer with his father.
3) PCs start at 1st level but it's going to be very hard. Designers suggest to start at 3rd.
At the very beginning I'm going to run B2 Keep of the Borderlands, or the 20 years after restyling, Return to the Keep of the Borderlands.
They're very good adventures to start, suitable for very low level players and beginners. And, you know, the conversion to D&D 5th edition rules is very easy.
PCs will raise of a couple of levels before they'll be taken prisoners by Hidden Temple's cultists or by some humanoid band. And in Return to the Keep of the Borderlands an NPC, Mendel, is a slaver).
Also the Caves of Caos-Underdark connection is obvious.
Adventure starts with PCs prisoners in a a Drow stronghold.
There are also other 10 prisoners and 4 important 4 Drow to deal with.
It's important that PCs interact at least with some of them.
As they're many (maybe too many) I'll prepare a card for every prisoner with:
- portait
- personality
- secrets
- manner of speech.
I'll give to anyone a different voice to help PCs to better remember them.
I won't give them a name until (and only if) they'll run away with the PCs. I'll name them by the race just like "the dwarf" "the orc" "the myconid". I think it'll be easier to me.
You can also reduce NPCs number eliminating some of them:
- a Drow execution to death after a rebellion or an escape without success
- a caravan bring a couple to Menzoberranzan to sold them as slaves
This will warn PCs about their future if they won't be able to escape PG.
You have some options for the runaway:
- PCs do all themselves, just by their abilities, spells and by using some items stealthily stolen to Drow while not jailed working for them (very hard)
- As above but PCs has the help of some of the NPCs prisoners (hard)
- PCs gain advantage of the rivalities among the Drow (hard)
- If nothing else works or PCs are with no hope, you can start an attack to the stronghold by some minor demons. It will be easier to escape during the mess of the fight. I know DMs of the "I never help my players, if they can solve their problems then it's a problem of theirs" school will dislike it.
PCs must find their equipment before leaving the stronghold.
Normal equipment is easily found in many areas of the stronghold while "special" (such as magic items, focuses, spellbooks and so on) is in the private rooms of the Drow Priestess (the Big Bad Guy, er girl, of the chapter).
Additional xp suggestions
- if they run without any help the double the xp award
- if they can find and take the "special" equipment then give them 100 xp
- if you have to run the stronghold attack in order to get them free then give them half xp award.
Out of the stronghold they'll be in the "real" Underdark and the real difficulties will begin.
You'll see them in the next post.
The DM.

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