Out of the Abyss

(Jeff_L) #1
When dealing with combat between large groups of
creatures-either the adventurers' allies or their foes-you
might wish to use the guidelines under "Handling Mobs"
in chapter 8 of the Dungeon Master's Guide. In some
cases, you can simply match forces on one side with those
on the other and assume they neutralize each other-
for example, a band of shield dwarves fighting for the
adventurers against a band of orcs. During such combat,
the force on the losing side is wiped out while the winning
force suffers a few casualties-anywhere from 10 to 50
percent-based on how difficult you judge the combat
was for them.


The tunnels and passages of the Undcrdark aren't easy
routes through which to lead a large group of NPCs.
When the characters set out. have th<' players describe
how their expeditionary force is arrayed while traveling
in single file, two abreast, and in open formation in
wide-open spaces. Also ask the players if any of the
NPCs are scouting ahead or serving as a rear guard
(see •·scouting:· below) or if the larger party remains in
close formation at all times.
The marching order affec-ts whe re and how different
encounters might occur. particularly if they happen
while characters are marching single file or two abreast.
A threat approaching from above, below. or the flank
could strike the middle of the expanded party. making
it difficult for the characters at dther end to reach it.
Likewise. spellcasters must be aware of the allies
around them at all times when casting area spells that
don't solely target enemies.


The pace of Uodcrdark travel remains as outlined
in chapter 2, and the characters move no slower for
traveling with a larger party. Although a portion of the
expeditionary force might be moumed on giant lizards,
the lizards travel at the pace of the rest of ihc party
unless they move out ahead.
As noted in chapter 2. a fast pace makes it harder
for characters to spot ambuslwr:. or items of interest.
and prevents characters from foraging. A slow pace
improves chances of foraging. However, even while
traveling at a s low pace. the c haracters and the PCs
can't usc stealth. since they are too large a group to
go unnoticed. Stealth is an option only for a smaller
scouting party traveling away from the main force (see


While t raveling as part of a larger group, the characters
have an easier time navigating their way through the
Underdark than they did during their initial escape.
The characters' own experience, plus that of their
followers, along with maps and other information they
might have acquired in Gauntlgrym or elsewhere. give
all members of the expanded party advantage on any
Wisdom (Survival) checks to avoid becoming lost (see
chapter 5, «Adventure Environments," of the Dungeon
Master's Guide).

CH \l'TER 10 I DESCt:NT I~TO THl 1>1 PTH<;

A portion of the expanded party can break off in order !0
travel some distance ahead. scouting for the right path
while remaining on the lookout for potential hazards.
A smaller group might also lag l>t:hind. serving as a
rearguard watching for threats coming up behind the
characters as they travel. NPCs can serve as scouts or
members of a rearguard as the players wis h. Some of
the adventurers might choose to do so as well.
A smaller scouting group can make use of stealth to
travel unnoticed. if a random encounter occurs during
the journey, characters in the scouting party discover it
first and can choose whether to avoid or deal with the
encounter. ff characters in the scouting party notice
the encounter without being seen themselves, they
can retreat back to the main force to inform the other
characters. Similarly. if a random encounter escapes the
scouting characters' notice. the encountered creatures
can lie in wait for the rest of the characters in order to
ambush them.


o longer a ragtag band of survivors and prisoners. the
adventurers are now in command of a dedicated force
of PC followers.ln addition to the advantages that
brings, the characters must assume leadership roles
as they deal with allies who might not entirely trust or
respect them-or each other. Add in the dangers of the
Undcrdark, along with the unpredictable influence of
demonic madness. and the characters have several new
rhallenges that must be faced.

Although the 'PCs the characters lead are ostensibly
allit-s, many belong to different factions. and old
grudges and differences in ethos aren't easily set aside.
Personality conflicts might arise among the followers
in the expanded party. and the adventurers would be
well advised to head off potential trouble. For example.
having Lords' Alliance troops acting as scouts while
keeping Zhentarim merc-enaries close at hand wiJI help
keep those factions from fighting.

ln this phase of the campaign. the characters are
moving toward the demon lords and their influence
rather than away from it. even as the Underdark
sinks deeper into madness and chaos. The characters
will make saving throws against acquiring levels of
madness, as called for in different encounters and
whenever you feel it is appropriate. (Sec chapter 2 of the:
adventure for more information on madness.)
The PCs following the characters into the
Underdark are just as vulnerable to demonic madness.
However. rather than make saving throws or track
madness levels for each individual PC. use the
Random Events table in this chapter to determine when
madness appears among those followers.
When madness appears among the NPCs, use it
not just for its mechanical effects but to create real
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