Here’s the Chant: Out of the Abyss

On Wednesdays I’ve been posting a roundup of content related to D&D and other roleplaying games. It’s on Wednesday anymore, and that’s because I’m finding my Wednesdays a bit too busy. I’m going to have a go at posting on Thursdays instead.

This week I thought I’d focus specifically on Out of the Abyss, and adventure that was published about two years ago, which I’m going to start running for my group next week. I’ll probably keep adding to this as I find more content on nthe Underdark, demon lords, madness, the drow, mindflayers. I can guarantee that this will contain spoilers, so if you’re looking forward to playing Out of the Abyss, you have been warned!

For players:

For players and dunegon masters:

For DMs:

  • ‘Out of the Abyss Walkthrough Poster’ Wizards of the Coast – Jason Thompson has illustrated a party of adventurers playing through Out of the Abyss. There are quite a few ideas here that could help you inject some humour into what could be a rather grim adventure.
  • ‘The Insanity of the N.P.C.’ Dragon+ – some crowd-sourced nonplayer characters to incorporate into your Out of the Abyss adventure, with illustrations by Richard Whitters
  • ‘Unearthed Arcana: Fiendish Options’ Wizards of the Coast – this playtest package includes lists of spells that different kinds of demon cultists would be likely to have
  • Tribality’s Out of the Abyss review – this review gives a pretty thorough overview of what’s in the adventure, as well as some thoughts about who this book is for and who should avoid it
  • Power Score’s Out of the Abyss review – the assessment here is that the book provides a lot of interesting NPCs and dungeons, but also requires a lot of planning and note-taking for the dunegon master
  • Power Score’s guide to Out of the Abyss – since Out of the Abyss requires a lot of notes to run, why not take advantage of these notes from Power Score?
  • Elven Tower’s guide to Out of the Abyss – more notes for dungeon masters
  • ‘A Guide to the Drow’ Power Score – more from Power Score? This blog just happens to publish a lot of great content, from across different editions of D&D. This article pulls together content about the dark elves of the Underdark.
  • ‘Out of the Abyss Needs More Mind Flayers!’ reddit/DnDBehindTheScreen – a lot of folks (myself included) were surprised at how little mind flayers feature in the books, especially since they were used to promote the story! This thread has some suggestions about how to involve them more in your own adventure.
  • ‘Mind Flayers Revisited’ The Monsters Know What They’re Doing – this post suggests that mind flayers as they are presented in 5th edition D&D don’t have the kind of stats and abilities that would allow them to achieve any of their schemes. It suggests some simple modifications that should make them a greater challenge.
  • ‘Survival Days’ Charm Person – Out of the Abyss involves a lot of walking through tunnels, often for weeks at a time. The published adventure presumes that characters will be foraging for food each day, which sounds tedious. This article looks at an alternative from the Dark Sun campaign setting.
  • ‘More Fungi for the Underdark’ Charm Person
  • ‘The Mock Dragon Turtle’, ‘Virnig the Dracopillar’, ‘The Similodon Cat’Charm Person – here we have some encounters based on scenes and characters from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which could be added to your Out of the Abyss adventure
  • ‘The Duchess’ Charm Person – another encounter based on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, which allows you to incorporate Malcanthet, the demon lord of succubi, into your Out of the Abyss adventure
  • ‘Alternative Indefinite Madness Table’ reddit/DnDBehindTheScreen – here’s a madness table that will give your players some serious drawbacks
  • ‘NPC Companion System Idea’ Giant in the Playground – this forum post is about a system for simplifying NPC party members – because you’ll probably have a lot of them to manage if you run this adventure

My content:

Here are some creatures I’ve drawn recently, which you might expect to find in the Under dark – a quaggoth, a kuo-toa, a myconid, a rust monster and a grick:

Blending three (or more) D&D adventures

Warning: this post might contain spoilers from Lost Mine of Phandelver, In Volo’s Wake and Out of the Abyss.

I’ve recently been running a regular 5th edition D&D group at Games Laboratory on Wednesday nights. We started out with In Volo’s Wake, a six-part adventure that was released digitally at the same time as Volo’s Guide to Monsters. However, the adventure paths offered in In Volo’s Wake are pretty linear, so I worked out some ways to incorporate some of the side plots from Lost Mine of Phandelver (which is set in the same area, around the town of Phandalin) and a couple of the dungeons from Tales from the Yawning Portal (which I haven’t used yet, so won’t talk about here). I also did a survey of my players to find out what kind of locations, villains and monsters they were interested in, which gave me the sense that we could start Out of the Abyss once we’d finished all of the In Volo’s Wake quests.

Two weeks ago, the party travelled to Old Owl Well, looking for Master Aumaro, who was investigating the yuan-ti cult at a quarry nearby. I decided to include the red wizard who is at Old Owl Well in Lost Mine of Phandelver with his zombie minions. The party destroyed most of his zombies (besides two that they pushed into the well) but the wizard ended up casting misty step to escape.

At our most recent session I had the orchardist Daran Edermath approach the party in Phandalin and ask them if they could find out what the Red Wizard is looking for at Old Owl Well. They found out that he was looking for ancient magical knowledge from the fallen Netheril Empire. He asked the party to accompany him down the well, but they killed him instead, and then descended into the well.

They wound a steep stairway going deep into the earth. On the walls of the stairway were bas reliefs of elves and giant snakes descending into the earth, possibly connecting the Netheril Empire to the secret, hidden knowledge of the yuan-ti that the party had encountered in the previous session. Eventually they came to a place where the stairs dropped off in to a great fissure with a building in the middle – the Lost Tomb of Khaem from Out of the Abyss. So we now have one location where the party could begin to explore the Underdark if they wish to go in that direction.