In his dungeon, that is …
Dear readers, D&D fans and daring adventurers, do you dare enter the dreaded Undermountain? With the newest adventure path from our friends over at Wizards of the Coast, you can go on a harrowing, dangerous adventure in Waterdeep’s most infamous dungeon.
I’m going to need more miniatures. The sheer number of monsters in the first level basically guarantees such things. Either that, or I’ll use dice and theatre of the mind — my preferred style of play — to make up the difference!
Anyhow, the first level of Undermountain, appropriately called “The Dungeon Level,” starts the adventure off with a bang. After the party is lowered into Undermountain via the well within The Yawning Portal, the adventure begins with a quest to track down/eliminate a gang called The Undertakers. Throughout the level are descriptions of demons and devils, along with plenty of opportunities for role-playing and combat. The descriptions are amazing, with a rather large map to explore. The variety of monsters is fun as well, including manticores, Intellect Devourers and my favorite goblinoid species to role play, bugbears.
It’s a good, challenging start (or continuation, if your party began with Waterdeep: Dragon Heist) to the adventure.
Level Two dials the action up even further in The Arcane Chambers. We have more magic-related encounters, a shopping trip among goblins and quite a few twists and turns. There’s a creepy Halaster puppet on this level that I look forward to running. Then, there are appearances from gibbering mouthers and rust monsters, which is a nice touch.
Halaster isn’t messing around with this dungeon!
Each level of the dungeon follows suit (going into detail on all of them would lengthen this review by far too much). All of them are densely populated, with incredibly detailed maps and a few defining features DMs can use to move story along and create intrigue within the campaign.
Level three is the Sargauth Level, which connects to the city of Skullport via the Sargauth River. This section opens with a legend and foreshadows a later level. Level four — the Twisted Caverns — places the party squarely in the middle of a war between Kuo-Toa and an Aboleth. Wyllowood, a dark forest of sorts lies ahead, followed by a lost level Maddgoth’s Castle … which is a very strange level indeed. The swamp on Level Eight demonstrates Halaster’s strange obsession with reptiles and amphibians, while Level Nine moves the action to an Academy of Magic. The rest of Undermountain increases the challenge and variety in unique and entertaining ways. You’ll just have to check out the book to learn more. I will say, however, my favorite part so far is Level 19 — the Caverns of Ooze, wherein we meet the crew of a Spelljamming vessel.
Spelljammer was always one of my favorite settings from AD&D 2nd Edition and I’m enjoying the bits of that setting we’ve been getting in recent releases.
The rest of the book is filled with detailed, thought-out adventures that ultimately lead to meeting Halaster. What happens from there is up to the party …
All of the maps are vast, with great attention to detail and the ability for the Dungeon Master to improvise or veer off the beaten path. Each level possesses its own uniqueness, creating a rounded, fun experience that can be varied in repeated campaigns. There is a wealth of intrigue and role-playing opportunities all over this adventure.
The adventure is packed with enough content to last for a few years, really. Sometimes, it feels as if there’s too much variety, but at the same time, there are monsters in this adventure I’ve never used — or thought about using — before. Providing a context for these creatures in-game is a good way to inspire and suggest their use in other adventures.
The artwork is excellent (as always) and the adventures flow incredibly well. The book is also quite long, with an extra section containing all of the appropriate stats for the adventure. I enjoyed reading the book and can’t wait to run the adventure.
Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage is available now from retailers such as your friendly local gaming store and Amazon. In addition to the hardcover adventure module, a Maps and Miscellany accessory is available to aid players and Dungeon Masters (but you won’t really want to pay full price for it). Of course, you’re going to need the three core rulebooks — the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual and Dungeon Master’s Guide — if you don’t have them already.