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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Jul 2011
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    Default Help me make Undermountain everything it should be!

    Hello Friends!

    My players have decided to take the bait and pursue a McGuffin that happens to lie in Undermountain, MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I need YOUR help to flesh this dungeon out. Leave the actual game mechanics to me (it's 4E if that matters to you), instead you guys help me come up with creative and terrible things to do to my PCs!

    A little info on the party:
    - they are high level for 4E (17th level)
    - they have plenty of healing
    - they have two tanks
    - they have arcane/divine/natural magic covered
    - they have a rogue-type guy who's got those skills covered
    - they do poorly with puzzles

    I would be happy if in addition to actual advise on my specific dungeon you guys/gals wanted to wax poetic about amazing and creative things you've done to your players in dungeons similar to Undermountain.

    Thanks for your time and participation and I'm looking forward to some great discussion!
    Last edited by INDYSTAR188; 2013-11-14 at 08:28 PM. Reason: removed an 'if' because I derped all over my keyboard

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Orc in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    USA
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    Male

    Default Re: Help me make Undermountain everything it should be!

    Fight creatures in the dark?

    Deal with cave-ins, rockslides, subterranean lakes?

    Have other adventurer's competing with them to loot treasure filled rooms?

    I am not really up on all that Undermountain should be lore-wise so I can help you much there.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Imp

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Sweden
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    Default Re: Help me make Undermountain everything it should be!

    Tuckers Kobolds.

    Or some appropriate variation thereof.

    There are two ways in, whichever they choose is the easy one that closes in on them, the other way is the one with Tuckers Kobolds.
    Last edited by Mastikator; 2013-11-15 at 02:43 AM.
    Black text is for sarcasm, also sincerity. You'll just have to read between the lines and infer from context like an animal

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Re: Help me make Undermountain everything it should be!

    The only way to do it justice, IMO, is to read the original Ruins of the Undermountain box's contents. There are so many ideas and encounters applicable to just about anything, and so much about the Undermountain itself...

    Some basics:

    It is enormous. You can set years of campaigns in it - forget about delving it in a single adventure, or even a single campaign. You never will, unless you radically rewrite the levels and contents. There are 9 levels and 13 sublevels (including the Citadel but not the sewers of Waterdeep), and any of the first three levels is fragging enormous (the RotU box doesn't even key more than maybe 20% of the first level!).

    It's full of portals: usually one-way teleports that are triggered by a "key" (a specific action, like walking three times around a well, then backwards out into a hallway and left around the corner; a specific time of year; a specific phrase; a specific object; etc.). They lead to other parts of the dungeon and to all corners of Faerūn.

    It's living. Halaster's portals supply new monsters, and handle water, food, and waste disposal on most levels. There's an entire level that's a compost heap that produces edible fungi for the rest of the dungeon. The monsters and powerful creatures form factions and struggle for dominance. These groups include Halaster's apprentices (usually archmages in their own right) like Muiral and Trobriand, as well as evil cults and temples, the Eye and his thieves' guild, the drow, the duergar, the slave-traders of Skullport (an entire town on the third level that serves as Waterdeep's "true underworld"). Things won't stay static, cleared areas won't stay cleared for long, etc.

    The RotU box contains many, many cool encounters and insane traps (many specifically designed to thwart experienced dungeoneers using sound tactics, proving that Greenwood is a bigger jerk DM than Gygax ever was). Of special import and interest for someone running a high-level party through it are the various magical effects on the dungeon. In short, it's impervious to all magic that circumvents or shortcuts dungeons; it's a bit of a deus ex machina, but then again, Halaster would be a moron not to make it so. From memory: you can't scry or use other divinations within or into the dungeon, you can't teleport into, out of, or within the dungeon (on your own power; portals and traps work, because Halaster made them), you can't use any magic that goes through or bypasses walls or doors...

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Help me make Undermountain everything it should be!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rhynn View Post
    The only way to do it justice, IMO, is to read the original Ruins of the Undermountain box's contents. There are so many ideas and encounters applicable to just about anything, and so much about the Undermountain itself...

    Some basics:

    It is enormous. You can set years of campaigns in it - forget about delving it in a single adventure, or even a single campaign. You never will, unless you radically rewrite the levels and contents. There are 9 levels and 13 sublevels (including the Citadel but not the sewers of Waterdeep), and any of the first three levels is fragging enormous (the RotU box doesn't even key more than maybe 20% of the first level!).

    It's full of portals: usually one-way teleports that are triggered by a "key" (a specific action, like walking three times around a well, then backwards out into a hallway and left around the corner; a specific time of year; a specific phrase; a specific object; etc.). They lead to other parts of the dungeon and to all corners of Faerūn.

    It's living. Halaster's portals supply new monsters, and handle water, food, and waste disposal on most levels. There's an entire level that's a compost heap that produces edible fungi for the rest of the dungeon. The monsters and powerful creatures form factions and struggle for dominance. These groups include Halaster's apprentices (usually archmages in their own right) like Muiral and Trobriand, as well as evil cults and temples, the Eye and his thieves' guild, the drow, the duergar, the slave-traders of Skullport (an entire town on the third level that serves as Waterdeep's "true underworld"). Things won't stay static, cleared areas won't stay cleared for long, etc.

    The RotU box contains many, many cool encounters and insane traps (many specifically designed to thwart experienced dungeoneers using sound tactics, proving that Greenwood is a bigger jerk DM than Gygax ever was). Of special import and interest for someone running a high-level party through it are the various magical effects on the dungeon. In short, it's impervious to all magic that circumvents or shortcuts dungeons; it's a bit of a deus ex machina, but then again, Halaster would be a moron not to make it so. From memory: you can't scry or use other divinations within or into the dungeon, you can't teleport into, out of, or within the dungeon (on your own power; portals and traps work, because Halaster made them), you can't use any magic that goes through or bypasses walls or doors...
    I currently have access to the Ruins of Undermountain and Expidition to Undermountain. I will certainly read through those soucebooks. I really appreciate your thoughtful response to my question. Would you be able to answer a few questions for me (anyone for that matter)?

    - Are there specific types of creatures that are in (or excluded from) UM?
    - Is it a warren of traps and random encounters that don't actually have any rhyme or reason or is there a logic explanation for them?
    - Opinions on having rooms that are specific to a certain type of element (a fire room, a lightning room, etc)?

    Has anyone run a game in UM and if so what did you do to your players?

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Troll in the Playground
    Join Date
    Feb 2013

    Default Re: Help me make Undermountain everything it should be!

    Quote Originally Posted by INDYSTAR188 View Post
    - Are there specific types of creatures that are in (or excluded from) UM?
    Not as such, but here's some "standard ecology":
    - Drow elves come up from below, and are involved in Skullport (where some later material places the Promenade of Eilistraee, a public temple of Eilistraee, the goddess of good drow; I hate that idea and think it makes no sense).
    - Beholders are rare and solitary, but when found are powerful; for instance, the Eye ran/runs a thieves' guild and slaver ring that operates in Waterdeep with relative impunity.
    - Some levels have specific types of creatures, like the Slitherswamp being full of yuan-ti, lizardmen, etc. (I forget the name of the wonderful snakemen whose bite infects others), and the Farms being full of shambling mounds and fungi.
    - Magical constructs and creations are prominent; made both by Halaster and his apprentices. (Muiral makes magical hybrids, Trobriand makes constructs and automatons.)
    - There's even dragons, although mostly they'd have to be trapped somehow (RotU features a trapped dragon).

    Quote Originally Posted by INDYSTAR188 View Post
    - Opinions on having rooms that are specific to a certain type of element (a fire room, a lightning room, etc)?
    Absolutely, go for it. The Undermountain was originally Halaster's testing ground (you might say it was the proving grounds of the mad overlord... ), so "themed" rooms make sense. Plus, you know, insane people with ultimate cosmic power can spend their time setting up weird things. There's a chess room, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by INDYSTAR188 View Post
    - Is it a warren of traps and random encounters that don't actually have any rhyme or reason or is there a logic explanation for them?
    It's a megadungeon, which are usually of the "funhouse dungeon" type (lots of traps, monsters, and situations that don't have a purpose as such), but megadungeons are usually "justified funhouse dungeons" - usually, as in this case, by having been built over centuries by a crazy archmage. (My personal take on the Undermountain emphasizes its origins as a dwarven delving underneath an elven city.) There are intentional conceits to reality, like the idea that there are specific "watering holes" where food and water appear courtesy of the magical service (and predatory monsters wait for weaker ones), as well as privies (which teleport into a muck room with, of course, a monster), but ultimately it's a crazy place.

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