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Halls of Undermountain (4e)
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Halls of Undermountain (4e)

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Beneath the streets of Waterdeep, a sinister dungeon awaits adventurers brave enough to face its perils. Created ages ago by the wizard Halaster, the sprawling dungeon is a lair for terrible monsters and ruthless villains. In the dark chambers, they hunger for victims and plot the downfall of those who dwell on the streets above. Who will unravel the twisting labyrinth to reveal its secrets, claim its treasures, and stop the foul machinations of the dungeon’s denizens?

Halls of Undermountain is a 96-page book that presents a ready-to use dungeon detailing over eighty locations. The adventure offers a way for Dungeon Masters participating in the recent D&D Encounters season, The Elder Elemental Eye, to extend the adventure. In addition, this book provides all the ingredients to run a classic dungeon delve, including enticing treasures, deadly traps, a wide assortment of monsters, and two full-color maps.

Product History

Halls of Undermountain (2012), by Matt Sernett with Shawn Merwin, was the final published & distributed adventure for D&D 4e. It was released in April 2012.

The Final 4e Adventure (Sort of). In the line's early days, D&D 4e adventure releases were entirely focused on the "HPE" campaign (2008-2009) and on adventures for the yearly campaign settings. In September 2009, Wizards began to open this up a little, starting with Revenge of the Giants (2009) — the first of a few nostalgic return to adventures of old.

Halls of Undermountain (2012) was the final of these nostalgic adventures, and also the last adventure actually sold for D&D 4e. It was very unusual for the fact that it returned to the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting (2008) from four years previous. Since the 4e settings were supposed to be done and gone within a year, this was a notable reversal.

Though Halls of Undermountain was the last professionally distributed adventure for 4e, it was followed by three free releases. "Dead in the Eye" (2012) went out in June as part of Free RPG Day, then the final two 4e Encounters releases — "Council of Spiders" (2012) and "War of Everlasting Darkness" (2012) — followed in the fall.

Boxed In. Halls of Undermountain was supposed to be a boxed release like its immediate predecessor, Madness at Gardmore Abbey (2011), . The original plan was to include a 32-page "Dungeon Components" book, a 64-page "Adventure" book, a variety of tokens and dungeon dressings, a half-dozen original miniatures, some cards, and a pair of double-sided maps. Though boxes are expensive, the designers were assured that the project could be brought in at a retail price of $40.

Then the cost cutting began. First some of the original miniatures were replaced with "pick-ups" from old sets, then all of them were. Then the number of painting steps on the miniatures had to be reduced. Then the miniatures were cut entirely. Then the token sheets were reduced from three to two. Then the box and the rest of the token sheets were cut entirely. In the end, the two booklets were combined into one 96-page hardcover book and the maps were glued into the back. The price was reduced to $30 … but one of the main complaints ended up being that it was still overpriced.

The Third Undermountain Halls of Undermountain was the third major look at the Undermountain dungeon.

The AD&D 2e version of the dungeon was the most extensive, with six different supplements revealing considerably spans of the dungeon, level by level. Ruins of Undermountain (1991) detailed the first two levels, Ruins of Undermountain II (1994) described two Deep Levels and a sub-level, then Undermountain: The Lost Level (1996), "Undermountain: Maddgoth's Castle" (1996), "Undermountain: Stardock" (1996), and Skullport (1999) revealed smaller scale locales.

The D&D 3e version of the dungeon instead tried to cover everything in one big book: Expedition to Undermountain (2007). It overviewed the whole dungeon, then detailed some very specific places.

In its third roleplaying incarnation as Halls of Undermountain (2012), the 4e designers took a different tack. The 96-page book isn't really a sourcebook like its predecessors; instead it's a set of three loosely linked adventures that use Undermountain as a setting — and in the process tell a larger story.

Halls was actually the second appearance of Undermountain during the 4e era. However the Encounters adventure, "Halaster’s Lost Apprentice" (2010), was still unknown to most players — and had only featured the dungeon in the form of some very constrained encounters.

Other Media. If you want to count other media, Undermountain has also appeared in two other form — as the heart of the computer game Descent to Undermountain (1997) and in the novel Escape from Undermountain (1996).

About the Product Tie-In(s). Halls of Undermountain is entirely reliant upon the Monster Vault (2010) supplement for Essentials: the adventure contains no monster stats, except for its new beasties. This may have been because 4e was in its waning days, with the death of the line announced three months previous. In theory, Halls could be more easily adapted to the next D&D because it was so stat-light.

Halls of Undermountain also includes a light tie-in to "The Elder Elemental Eye" (2012), the eighth D&D Encounters season, which was just then ending. It includes suggestions on how to get "Elemental" players started, as well as a few modifications that can tie the Halls adventures into the "Elemental" plot.

Adventuring Tropes. Halls of Undermountain broke the mold for 4e adventure. Previously,they'd all been focused on two-page encounter spreads that presented combat encounters in high fidelity. In order to detail a decent amount of Undermountain (and to allow for the exploration that's at the heart of a true delve), the designers of Hall decided to break out of this format — and got the OK to do so. However, they weren't quite the first adventure to make this break. A few Dungeon adventures rode on their coattails, but got out the door first.

The formatting of Halls of Undermountain is very old school, detailing rooms one-by-one, even including read-aloud text for the players. However the standard room descriptions also include sections about "Roleplay" and "Plot". These sections combine the three dungeon delves into the story of an adventuring company gone missing.

Expanding the Realms. The biggest expansion that occurs in Halls of Undermountain is its explanation of how the Spellplague affected the dungeon. Beyond tha,t it provides extensive detail on the Yawning Portal (one of the most famous entries to the dungeon) as well as level 1 of the dungeon. In all, about 80 areas in the dungeon are detailed, including the rooms used for the three adventures and some of the more "infamous areas". There's still lots of blank space on the (huge) level 1 map. Owners of the old Ruins of Undermountain could use that 2e supplement to fill in many of these gaps, as the level 1 areas detailed in the 2e box and the 4e adventure don't have a lot of overlap.

About the Creators. Sernett has been a writer and game designer for Wizards of the Coast since 2008, though much of his time has been focused on board and card games, including Magic: The Gathering.

About the Product Historian

This history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Discussions (5)
Customer avatar
Timothy B September 15, 2017 6:58 pm UTC
PURCHASER
This PDF is usually $7.99 on DM's Guild. The September Settings sale has actually increased the price to 33% off of the printed book's cover price, which is higher than the typical PDF price. Is there any way to get this corrected? Thank you.
Customer avatar
Chris H August 11, 2017 5:09 pm UTC
I really wish we'd see more content transfered from older editions to 5e, and more Roll 20 compatible content. With the realese of TftYP it only makes sense to have the undermountian content available for 5e.
Customer avatar
Carlos R June 10, 2017 4:04 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I am really interested in knowing if it includes the maps as well, I am actually more interested in the maps because of TotYP
Customer avatar
Anne T April 18, 2017 6:41 pm UTC
I, too, am interested, in whether or not the battlemap inserts were included in this digital version. Especially since many of us are running adventures from Tales from the Yawning Portal, and using the actual YP tavern map is great for a framing device... I've messaged DriveThruRPG via Facebook in hopes of getting an answer quickly on this.
Customer avatar
Markus G June 14, 2016 6:58 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Are the dungeon maps included in the pdf?
Customer avatar
Lou A March 29, 2017 8:09 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Did anyone ever answer this? I'm interested in the maps as well.
Customer avatar
Jonathan S August 20, 2017 6:26 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Yes the map is included. Here's the filenames of what is included:
- DD4_HallsofUndermountain.pdf
- Halls_of_Undermountain_Map_02.pdf
- Halls_of_Undermountain_Map_01.pdf
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96
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File Last Updated:
June 22, 2015
This title was added to our catalog on June 23, 2015.