Guide to the Abyss


The Underdark is a subterranean wonderland, a vast and twisted labyrinth where fear reigns. It is the home of horrific monsters that have never seen the light of day. The adventure began with the characters having been imprisoned in Velkynvelve by the drow priestess Ilvara. Having escaped, the priestess has gone mad in her attempts to track and recapture them. Meanwhile, the very fabric holding everything from magic to reality seems to warp around the party.

This campaign setting is an open-world, off-the-rails recreation of the on-rails adventure Out of the Abyss. It is open to all classes and levels, but we do have some other rules for new characters to this game to keep in mind. We are drop-in, flail-snail friendly, and play with a combination of theater of the mind and battle maps.

The in-game year is 1486.

New Characters

These rules are very important! Keep these in mind when rolling up new characters.

  • You do not get starting gold, only the equipment your class starts with.
  • Try to play something fun; the Underdark is like Alice in Wonderland on crack.
  • All character types are suited to this campaign.
  • Players should ask the DM prior to playing a character from the Underdark. Generally, choose a character who is from the surface, as the Underdark should be an unfamiliar, scary place.
  • You may start your character's level to match that of the current lowest member of the party.
  • Use the standard array for your character's stats *or* roll 3d6.

New Feats

Underdark Experience

You're no casual visitor to the underdark, but instead have spent considerable time there learning its ways. You are familiar with the various races of civilizations and settlements of the Underdark, as well as its major routes for travel. If you fail an intelligence check to recall some piece of underdark lore, you know a source you could consult for the answer unless the DM rules that the lore is unknown.

Node Sensitivity
Prerequisite: the ability to cast at least one spell

Earth nodes are powerful locations where streams of magic in the world intersect. In ancient times, many were able to draw upon these locations for the casting of powerful magic and travel but now only a few retain this gift. These nodes are scattered rarely throughout the realms, especially in the Underdark.

When in the presence of an earth node, you gain the following benefits:

  • You are able to sense when you are within 100' of an earth node and can assess its power.
  • You can make an arcana check to add the power level of the earth node to your spell's level when casting a spell (i.e. a fireball using a 3-power node is cast using 11d6, not 8d6). The difficulty of harnessing an earth node's power varies, and failure leads to a failed casting.
  • You are able to successfully teleport between known stones without a teleportation roll.
  • Drawing on the stone's power, once per day you are gifted a free casting of a spell (without expending a spell slot) equal to your spell caster level or lower:
Caster level Spell
1 Earth Tremor
2 Maximilian’s Earthen Grasp
3 Meld Into Stone
4 Stoneskin
5 Wall of Stone
6 Investiture of Stone
7 Flesh to Stone
8 Earthquake
9 Imprisonment

New Bonds

Using these bonds should be considered carefully: if you have something that ties you solidly to the Underdark, it may implicate you in matters dark and horrible. Consult the DM if you have any concerns!

1d10 Bond
1. You were once lost in the Underdark, and a group of kuo-toa helped you find your way out. You learned that there are kindly folk even among the otherwise mad race, and remain indebted to them for their aid.
2. You once had the opportunity to meet a circle of myconids. They offered you shelter and a chance to "meld" using their telepathic spores, and you have yearned ever since to repeat that experience.
3. One of your best friends in your youth was Morista Malkin, a shield dwarf and member of the Emerald Enclave. Though you haven't seen her in years, you heard she found her way to the reclaimed dwarf hold of Gauntlgrym.
4. You once worked for Davra Jassur, a Zhentarim "troubleshooter" recruiting promising new talent for the Black Network. She helped you get your start as an adventurer, and you owe her for that.
5. You have long had a curious recurring dream about visiting a vaulted stone library in the depths of the Underdark, and desire to seek it out.
6. You studied with a deep gnome alchemist and miner named Kazzook Pickshine, who saved your life once when an experiment went awry. Last you heard, his family controlled some of the largest mines in the deep gnome settlement of Blingdenstone.
7. What little you know about the underdark, you learned from living and fighting alongside the Feldrun clan of dwarves. You swore an honor debt to the clan before they joined the forces retaking Gauntlgrym and established themselves there.
8. Years ago, a vicious noble named Ghazrim DuLoc was implicated in the death of someone you cared about. The crime was covered up though, and DuLoc disappeared. Rumor has it that the Zhentarim aided his escape, but you've sworngto find him one day.
9. Years ago, you lost people you loved in a raid by creatures from the Underdark. They disappeared without a trace, either slain or taken into the depths, and you've always wondered whether they might still be alive and held as prisoners.
10. You know the dwarf hold of Gauntlgrym well, having fought alongside the dwarves to help recliam it. King Bruenor Battlehammer personally congratulated you on your valor, and you know the price the dwarves paid in blood to regain their home.

Trinket Table

You can use this as instead of the normal trinket table.

1d10 + 1d20
Result Item
2-9 Roll twice
10-12 1 strange gold coin
13-15 A living spider (tarantula sized)
16-18 5' of strange silk rope
19-21 Flawed obsidian gemstone worth 10 gp
22-24 A rusted iron bar, could be used as a club
25-27 Flint shiv, used as a dagger
28-30 A single crossbow bolt coated in a potent poison



This is the location in the Underdark where the adventure starts, and most of the action has taken place so far. It is roughly north of Waterdeep and between the Sword Coast and the High Ice. A few common locations to get you acquainted with the setting is included here:


Home of the Svirfneblin (Deep Gnomes). It was sacked in the late 1300's by Drow and wererats who were angry at their mistreatment by the Deep Gnomes, but it was starting to be resettled in the 1440's. In 1486, the city was cleansed of an ooze infestation and The Pudding King, a prophet of the demonlord Juiblex. This allowed them access to tunnels that lead to the surface. Previously known for its mining and tinkering work, the city is now a shell of its former self.


The home of the industrious and xenophobic Duergar (Deep Dwarves), who are spartan to the core to the point that overly ostentatious garb, performances, and music are outlawed. This is backed up by the city essentially being a police state, where invisible guards and spies keep the city almost entirely crime free. Despite their fascist nature and despicable attitudes toward other races, the city is still a hub for commerce because of the fine armor and weapons produced there.

Neverlight Grove

The largest home of the Myconids in the Northdark. An infection seems to have broken out in the settlement, causing most of its residents to dance and sing in ecstasy while praising the demon lord Zuggtmoy.


A large Kuo-toa settlement along the shores of the Darklake, a deeply religious settlement that mainly prospered by fishing and ferrying services to other residents in the darklake. The party was taken here as a sacrifice, but when a battle between two rival religious sects raged, the mighty Demogorgon was summoned and destroyed the entire village.

The Prison of the Fallen Angel

A small prison of mysterious origin, held deep below the darklake. Betrayed by a member of their own, the party witnessed the revival of Cydriel the Lord of Rot and servant to the Lord of the Undead, Orcus.


A large lake in the north-eastern portion of the Northdark.


A Drow outpost and prison. Where the original party escaped from, and home of the mad priestess Ilvara Mizzrym.


Used to refer both to the realms of the demons, and locations in the underdark marked by unique and unearthly geological features (such as bottomless pits, or winds that come from nowhere).

Earth Nodes

Locations where the streams of magic that flow throughout the world intersect, these are powerful locations that many were able to harness the power of in ancient times. In legend, people were even able to use them as gates for travel. Now, only few remain who have this power and the locations of the nodes are closely guarded secrets or completely forgotten to time.

The Labyrinth

A large area that spans hundreds of miles nearly in the center of the Northdark, and directly below the Dessarin valley. Legend has it that an ancient race of minotaurs created the tunnels that comprise the Labyrinth and that they still live deep within it, but it is more likely that these are merely lava tubes that have created an area that is extremely difficult to navigate through. Most denizens of the underdark merely go around it, spending the extra days of travel instead of risking getting lost within.


These sprawling caverns run for miles through the deepest part of the Northdark. Entire caves made of crystals are common in the area, and such a place resembles nothing so much as the interior of a massive geode. As the name implies, the region is haunted by more Sharn than can be seen anywhere else in the Underdark. It stretches across most of the lower Northdark, acting as a barrier from the abyssal wilderness that stretches between the Northdark and Old Shanatar.


Often, paths in the Underdark that exist between areas are not direct. Making matters worse is that some passages can exist for thousands of years unchanged, but others shift and churn weekly.


Navigation checks will be made to see if your party is able to stay on track. A rough guideline for these:

Travel DC header
Well-used passage 10
Secondary passage 12
Secret passage 14
Unmarked passage 15
Travelling slow/fast -/+ 5
Underdark Experience feat -5

Travel pace:

Pace Miles per Day Effect
Fast 8 Penalty against noticing danger, no foraging.
Normal 6 Normal
Slow 4 Bonus to foraging, mapping and stealth enabled


Going mad in the Underdark is not uncommon. Though these are usually the result of failed wisdom saving throws in the face of horrific events, other types of rolls may be made.

A rough guide of madness is here:

Level Effect
1 Bout of short-term madness (1d10 minutes)
2 Long-term madness (1d10 X 10 hours)
3 Indefinite (until cured)
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