“Down the Hole!” is an adventure for a party of 3-6 characters of 1st to 2nd level.
The special about this adventure is that it has been designed with new DMs and players in mind. That doesn’t mean experienced players can’t enjoy it. It’s just that there is an abundance of information that are meant to help new DMs and introduce the concepts of the game to new players.
A tavern franchise called “Orcs! Orcs! Orcs!” is opening a new tavern in Waterdeep. The tavern owners are “borrowing” the theme of the Yawning Portal by digging a hole at the center of the tavern, leading to the Undermountain.
However, things don’t go as planned. The owners allowed their kids to get a taste of the Undermountain before the opening but they haven’t returned. And this is why the adventurers are hired. They’re tasked with finding the kids, or what’s left of them, and clear some of the possible dangers.
The adventure is basically a dungeon crawl. It contains a lot of combat encounters but there are some interesting puzzles as well. Some of the combat encounters can be considered quite dangerous, in my opinion, especially since the players will have to think and not just blindly charge the enemy. If this is the mindset of the players, their characters won’t last long.
This is achieved by having the characters make use of clues and items they have previously found in the dungeon to move forward, or even backtrack a bit. Also, being aware of the surrounding environment will be crucial in some cases. Having to fight Stirges while descending a pit on a makeshift elevator with no safety railing isn’t the easiest thing in the world. I find that interesting because it makes the dungeon feel more alive.
Everything is explained in a very simple way, making it easy to understand. There is a chance this may tire more experienced DMs but, personally, I found it interesting because I could delve into the mind of the designers and figure out the reasoning behind their decisions.
As for newer DMs, and in extension players, it will help them immensely. Dungeon crawls may seem easy but, depending on their design, they can get confusing. To make things even better for newer DMs, there are a lot of DM tips all throughout the adventure. If you are a new DM, I highly suggest reading the adventure beforehand (as you should do in every case, in my opinion) in order to have the time to digest the tips as well.
The art alternates between colored and black and white. This lack of consistency could be an issue. The choice of artwork, however, makes sure this alternation feels natural. A black and white map is included that covers all the areas of the crawl.
There a quite a few appendices included at the end of the adventure. There you will find all the DM Tips in one place, extra info on the NPCs and how to roleplay them, some magic items, and even actual cocktail recipes.
“Down the Hole!” is a very interesting adventure that provides a lot of help for new DMs and players. Though its story is going to be intriguing to both new and experienced people alike.