Going Underground is an adventure for a party of 4-6 characters of level 3 to 4, by Randal Gallagher.
The characters are tasked with discovering a rumored entrance to the Underdark. In order to do that, they will have to explore the remains of a city buried under a mudslide and a dwarven silver mine beneath it. Unbeknownst to them, there is another adventuring party with the same task, that is already ahead of them and will make things a bit more difficult for them.
This adventure is pretty much a dungeon crawl, and a rather big one. There are five areas to explore, starting from the surface going all the way down to an entrance to the Underdark. A couple of them are really big, some having more than ten locations, and one having almost 30. But even if there are many locations, their description is very detailed.
There are a few different monsters in the adventure, most of which are various types of undead and subterranean creatures. What I liked is that for each group of monsters the characters will meet, there’s a reason for them to be there. There are notes on how to use the monsters which is very helpful for the DM. Also, some of them have tactics that allow them to take advantage of the environment, which increases the difficulty of the encounters, making them more fun. Finally, the “boss” of the adventure is a new monster inspired by H.P. Lovecraft.
The monsters aren’t the only dangers in the adventure. Depending on where the characters are, there are some environmental dangers as well. For example, in many areas, if a character deals a certain type of damage there’s the possibility of the ceiling collapsing. In general, the environment plays an active role in the adventure and can prove to be quite the hindrance to the characters.
I mentioned that there’s another group with the same goal in the adventure. This is a rivaling group that is already ahead of them. It will try to make the situations even worse, by either blocking passages or leading monsters to the path the characters will take. There won’t be direct confrontation with it until the end of the adventure, where the characters can decide how they should approach them. Moreover, there are notes on how it got through the various locations. That’s a nice addition because the DM can see how they affected each area.
If you want a ton of jaw-dropping art in your adventures, then this one isn’t for you. Apart from the cover art there’s nothing else in it. However, it contains a lot of maps. They may not be fancy, but they cover the areas mentioned in the adventure. Especially for this adventure, maps are necessary and provide a good visual aid for the DM. The only bad about them is that some of them have a green or brown background, which may cause you problems if you decide to print them.
Can be used with Out of the Abyss
I believe this adventure can be used as a connecting adventure for Out of the Abyss. The entrance to the Underdark actually leads to a region that’s used in Out of the Abyss, called the Labyrinth. The only issue is that this area is used in the second half of the adventure and shouldn’t be used as is. The change I’d make in order to fix that would be having a Drow scouting party fight and capture the characters and move them to Velkynvelve, which is pretty much what Out of the Abyss says that happened to the characters anyway. Even if Out of the Abyss begins with the characters at level 1, I believe it’s better for the characters to begin at a slightly higher level, like level 3. It will probably make their experience better, since their characters will have increased survivability.
A few notes
The editing and layout is good. However, the author uses some “unusual” wording in a few places. For example you will see phrases like “half-light” and “difficult ground” instead of dim light and difficult terrain. I doubt these will create any confusion but I was surprised for a moment by the choice to use those instead of the “official” wording. As for the level of the characters, there’s no problem at all.
Overall, Going Underground is an interesting dungeon crawl. I believe it makes good use of the creatures and the environment, creating a challenging, but fun, experience for the players. If you want to fill a few sessions with an open ended dungeon crawl, you should give this one a look.