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Let’s Read: Underdark (4e)

junglefowl26

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This book is the hidden gem of the entire 4e line. (Well, maybe not 'hidden' to 4e fans?) Looking forward to more of the Let's Read.

Also in one of those weird temporal coincidences, my campaign just started moving in the direction of an extended journey to the Underdark. The PCs' motive: have a face to face meeting with Torog. :eek:
Thanks.

As for hidden....hmmm....I am not sure. A lot of 4e fans just stuck with DDI and a handful of books after all, so I am not sure how many are aware of this book.

As for your players - I respect their courage, if not their wisdom. :p

Honestly, I thought most of the other similar books were pretty good. Open Grave, and the Draconomicons. Some were better than others though. I liked the first Draconomicon, the Demonomicon, the MoTP, and the Underdark one best. Open Grave was interesting, but suffers from being the earliest book in the whole series. The metallic dragon book was just suffering from less interesting subject matter. On the whole I think the Demonomicon is the crowning achievement, only slightly tainted by not fully incorporating the newest monster design of MM3+. Still, this book was pretty good.
Interesting. I was thinking of doing the Dracomonicon next, if this Let's Read did well. As for the Demonomicon...I have to admit despite having owned it for years, I haven't read it that closely, as demons aren't my favorite topic. I suppose it would interesting to do a Let's Read going in blind.

I agree that overall, the 4e fluff books were really good, as were the fluff articles in the dungeon and dragon magazines. Makes it a shame that its fluff is so often dismissed then.
 
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Vagabundo

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Great thread. I don't have the book, but it has been on my wanted list for a while.

4e fluff is so underrated; it is probably my favourite standard DND setting at this point.
 

AbdulAlhazred

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Yeah, 4e fluff kicks. I think doing an LR of Demonomicon would be fun, you'll find it to be quite packed with flavor. The demons are a bit more interesting than just raw evil incarnate.
 

Rocket Propelled Grenade

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4e fluff is so underrated; it is probably my favourite standard DND setting at this point.
I was just talking about this earlier today. I haven't gotten much of a chance to play it, and so can't really justify spending money on products like this, but the setting assumptions are fantastic.

Looking forward to reading more of this thread.
 

Vagabundo

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I was just talking about this earlier today. I haven't gotten much of a chance to play it, and so can't really justify spending money on products like this, but the setting assumptions are fantastic.

Looking forward to reading more of this thread.
It's very hard for me to put my finger on it, but whatever they have done makes it very easy to "make it your own". Something I find more difficult in other settings.

It seems really easy to setup adventures for PCs, possibly becuase everything is a hook and so open ended. The PCs really are the Heroes in 4e's setting.
 

Seroster

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Hmm, I'm going to have to track this down. :)

BTW what is the name of the primordial? The OP spells it three different ways...
 

junglefowl26

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Great thread. I don't have the book, but it has been on my wanted list for a while.

4e fluff is so underrated; it is probably my favourite standard DND setting at this point.
Thanks. And agreed! Or at least, it is my favorite fantasy cosmology and cosmological history.

Yeah, 4e fluff kicks. I think doing an LR of Demonomicon would be fun, you'll find it to be quite packed with flavor. The demons are a bit more interesting than just raw evil incarnate.
Ah, that is good to hear. I will consider it then.

Though thinking more, I might go through some of the magazine material, since people never seem to discuss the fluff from there, even though it is great.

I was just talking about this earlier today. I haven't gotten much of a chance to play it, and so can't really justify spending money on products like this, but the setting assumptions are fantastic.

Looking forward to reading more of this thread.
Glad to hear it. Makes me feel like this thread is doing its job.

It's very hard for me to put my finger on it, but whatever they have done makes it very easy to "make it your own". Something I find more difficult in other settings.

It seems really easy to setup adventures for PCs, possibly becuase everything is a hook and so open ended. The PCs really are the Heroes in 4e's setting.
*Nods head vigorously*

The 4E Setting books were really incredibly good.
It warms my heart to see others loving them as much as I do. They really don't get the credit they deserve.

Hmm, I'm going to have to track this down. :)

BTW what is the name of the primordial? The OP spells it three different ways...
D'oh. My abilities to make typos even with the book in front of me is unmatched.
It is Gargash. All other spellings are typos. Or his siblings, whichever you prefer.

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Underdark Phenomena:

This chapter looks at some of the of the interesting features common in the Underdark. The phenomena specific to other regions is found in later chapters.

The first section concerns darkness and light – which is to say, it acknowledges that the Underdark is generally very dark (especially its shadowy echo), and then lists some potential light sources in the deeps. Glowstone is the most common source of light, followed by random flares and pluses of light caused by “unexplained magical reactions within the primordials’ patchwork creation.” I am not sure if that is neat and atmosphereic or just lazy. Anyway, the King’s Road has an eerie red glow, and the book mentions using doomlight crystals from DMG2 (my copy is sadly in another state at the moment) as they provide light yet make the player characters more vulnerable to attacks, which I think is an interesting tradeoff.

There is a related sidebar about how the conditions of the underdark messes with people. The lack of the day-night cycle makes it hard to sleep well, the lack of nutrition eats away at physical and mental health, being stuck with the same small group of people without end frays friendships and brings on roving cabin fever, so on and etc, though this will be covered in more detail later on. The book recommends here that this shouldn’t be done through mechanical penalties, but through the DM roleplaying the personalities of npcs the party encounters.

The next section concern the terrain features of the underdark, starting with a list of appropriate terrain types from DMG and DMG2, which I can’t really comment on without those books. A few new types as well, split between those that are purely fluff, and those with gameplay effects:
-Living stone: What it sounds like. I like the comment that people in the underdark never say “solid as a rock.” The rate of which rock grows and shifts varies greatly, sometimes creating or destroying caverns in mere weeks, other times barely growing in the course of centuries. Size is similarly varied. It is most common in the deeps and feywild, but can be found anywhere, and makes maps very unreliable.
-Darkrock: This rock gets its name from its ability to “drink” light, which translates in game terms to a reduction of brightness near a vein of the material, and perception penalty to anyone standing on it. It is stated that the strange and unpredictable shadows it produces messes with even creatures who can see in the dark, so only those with tremorsense or who otherwise don’t need to see are spare the penalty. It then suggests that darkrock should be used to help such monsters against PCs, or to make a fight against sneaky monsters more challenging.
-Glowstone: 5 feet of dim light for a square of material. Presumably the archenemy of darkrock, though it is not said what happens when you put them together. Science should get on that. There are some some interesting tidbits of fluff however. First of all, a lot of underdark races hate the stuff and the drow in particular send slaves to endless hack at sections of it to halt its growth. Second, despite that fact and its obvious use to help PCs even the odds, it is noted that some underdark races use it as bait, ambushing surfacers who try to use a patch as a refuge from the gloom.
-Wormrock: Ok, as much as I love 4e, I have to admit these names are a tad on the nose. This kind of rock is noted to be easy to burrow through (creatures can move twice their burrow speed through areas of wormrock – and even creatures without a burrow speed can dig through 1 square of the stuff as a move action) and it is edible for many of these types of creatures, leaving it frequently riddled with holes. That said, it regrows over time so it hasn’t been used up yet. You know, between being edible and growing, it sounds pretty alive, but the book doesn’t comment on that. Plus, the holes and its orange color make me think of cheese.


Attached is a sidebar about other types of terrain. It is just throwing ideas out there for the DM to use as they please, so there isn’t a lot of fluff and no crunch here. Still, I appreciate suggestions in general, and the suggests here are very atmospheric and a little creepy. My favorites are the tunnels made of unidentifiable plantlike material that slowly rots into goo, the petrified remains of gigantic creatures forming organic looking tunnels and caves, and rock formations made of thousands of fossils of beetles with vaguely humanoid faces. (Though does it really count as favorites when it is 3 out of the 5 examples?)
 
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jerandall

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Conceptually all the rules around light / darkness are cool, and one can imagine interesting encounters involving Lurkers (the general monster role) vs. the PCs. However in practice I find implementing the rules for light / darkness and PC vision to be a pain in the ass, so I usually hand-wave everything to "you can all see each other".

Has anyone ever used the light / darkness / vision rules in an Underdark encounter and if so, how did it go?
 

Leonaru

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Anyway, the King’s Road has an eerie red glow, and the book mentions using doomlight crystals from DMG2 (my copy is sadly in another state at the moment) as they provide light yet make the player characters more vulnerable to attacks, which I think is an interesting tradeoff.


-Wormrock: Ok, as much as I love 4e, I have to admit these names are a tad on the nose. This kind of rock is noted to be easy to burrow through (creatures can move twice their burrow speed through areas of wormrock – and even creatures without a burrow speed can dig through 1 square of the stuff as a move action) and it is edible for many of these types of creatures, leaving it frequently riddled with holes. That said, it regrows over time so it hasn’t been used up yet. You know, between being edible and growing, it sounds pretty alive, but the book doesn’t comment on that. Plus, the holes and its orange color make me think of cheese.
That sounds pretty disturbing.
 
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