Posted by Thomas Deeny as RPGs
Wizards of the Coast will be releasing the Out of the Abyss campaign book on Septebmer 15th as part of the larger Rage of Demons storyline. The adventure book, developed by Green Ronin, steals adventures away into the Underdark of the Forgotten Realms where they encounter a secret society, a relentless foe, and demon lords galore. Will they ever see daylight again? The overall storyline will be told through digital and tabletop versions of Dungeons & Dragons.
We’ve received a copy of the adventure and need to see how it stacks up to the earlier campaigns and storylines for the fifth edition of D&D. Wizards of the Coast’s earlier adventures were partnerships with other companies and I was really impressed with how Sasquatch Game Studio handled the Elemental Evil adventure book, Princes of the Apocalypse. Green Ronin — no stranger to fantasy roleplaying games — developed this campaign book and the forthcoming Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide (available November 3rd).
Out of the Abyss begins with the heroes in an underground slave pen with an eclectic group of prisoners. The first order of business: escape. Assuming they do, the book devotes a few pages about travelling in the Underdark, the vast network of tunnels and underground cities that span the world of Faerûn. Along with notes about adventuring in the Underdark, a map showing the general location of the Underdark’s regions with a surface overlay of the Sword Coast is provided. (We assume that like earlier storyline maps, a version of this with and without labels will be available for purchase on Mike Schley’s website.)
Oh, and the locations! By the time the you’re about halfway through the book, there are so many different locations and interesting NPCs, you’ll never think of underground locations as “just a bunch of caves” again. I was surprised to see the variety of areas the staff at Green Ronin were able to come up with. Also a neat thing to keep the page flipping down, larger areas have several details from the main map sprinkled throughout the chapter, near location descriptions. It’s good for reference and also makes the world below feel like it’s not just something that fits nicely on an 8-1/2″ by 11″ sheet of paper. (Several maps are by Jared Blando, who has maps available at his site.)
It’s difficult to review the adventure without revealing surprises about the product. I was skeptical that a whole campaign set in the Underdark could be interesting — I was in the “just a bunch of caves” camp when it came to that place — but the myriad different locations, the huge cast of NPCs, the thing in the middle, the way the adventure grows… Green Ronin’s team has me believing that the Underdark is not just a place to visit: a whole campaign can be run down there. And even if you don’t run the campaign, the various underground set pieces (I’m especially fond of the region in chapter 3) are well worth using for your regular D&D game.
Out of the Abyss is a 256-page adventure for a group of heroic spelunkers, available on September 15th. MSRP is $49.95.