Sunday, April 8, 2012

H is Halls of Undermountain

O.K. so I am not really doing the alphabet thing, I am lucky to to post once a week let alone 26 posts in a month (By the way I did think the Tekumal project was doing an awsome job with their alphabet post introduction to the world of Empire of the Petal Throne, but then they have a big weatlh of marterial to draw from). I wanted to instead post my review of the new 4th edition supplement "Halls of Undermountain". One might think that this yet another attempt by WoTC to cash in on past glories by slapping the name of some old favorite on random shlock to boost sales (Witness the re-release of "The Tomb of Horrors", yes the tomb is in there but its EMPTY!?). However  "Halls of Undermountain" is actually pretty good and somewhat true to the end-of-first edition orginal . It contains the entire first level of Undermoutain and 79 keyed rooms for encounters (unlike the little tiny piece of undermountain detailed in the 3.5 edtion "Return to Undermountain). It even has RANDOM TABLES to fill the rooms which are not keyed. Although I have not yet pulled out the old first edition boxed to do a room by room comparision, the new encounters do include many mysticaly wacky but deadly tricks and traps that are characteristic of the first edition. Unfortunately it also contains some of the "no, you can't dissamble the trap and rebuild to use it against montser, because it only works in this room, Why? because the DM says so." I found so objectionable in the first edition. It has also gone back to a old school format for presenting the encounters, by simply giving a page reference in the monster vault for each monster in the encounter (thank God, if they had tried to lay out 79 enounters with a battle map and detailed stat block for everyone this book would be 500+ pages and weigh a ton). For those who like plot there are three adventures strung together. However, these plots are accomplished by roaming the dungeon, and there is very little to keep the players from wandering off on their own. Unfortunately once they hit fifth level their ability to wander down to the 2nd level is limited, because this supplement only cantains level one. Given WoTC production schedule, I will have to wait a least six months for 2nd level, and probably and enternity for the twisted caverns of level 4 (I have been waiting for the twisted caverns ever since they decided to jump to 5th level in the second boxed set, I suppose I could write my own twisted caverns since there is actually part of a map in "Return to Undermountain", but I have always wondered what Ed Greenwood put in his.) All in all I think that "Halls of Undermountain" is one the best 4th edtion supplements I own, and I am eagerly awaiting the chance to try it out on some unsupecting victims er. I mean players ;)
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