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Undermountain I: The Lost Level (2e)
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Undermountain I: The Lost Level (2e)

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"Far be it from me to impugn the mettle of adventurers such as yourselves, but daring the depths of Undermountain merely for fortune's sake is more absurd than kicking a sleeping dragon in the nose for sport. Even so, you've returned for another trip to the Underhalls, so be prepared. You stand to enter the Lost Level this time: Gird yourselves for diplomacy as well as destruction. You'll find the last stronghold of an extinct dwarven clan: Do be good enough to extend the greetings of the Blackstaff to Bandaerl. There's also a dark vampiress who enjoys a good hunt, and be sure to mind the beholders: They're trained to keep you from escaping.

"Enjoy, and don't say Khelben didn't warn thee."

This DUNGEON CRAWL adventure includes 32 pages of combat and roleplaying, hearkening back to classic AD&D dungeons of old. This is a stand-alone module and does not require additional support materials. It can easily be inserted into a campaign on any world, but best fits an Undermountain or Waterdeep campaign within the Realms.

*****

Product History

"Undermountain: The Lost Level," by Steven Schend, is the first adventure in a series of three focusing on Undermountain Dungeon Crawls. It was published in June 1996.

A New Forgotten Realms Trilogy. Starting in 1994, TSR began releasing their Forgotten Realms adventures as linked trilogies, something they'd previously experimented with in 1989-90. The first two trilogies of this new era were the "Marco Volo" adventures (1994) and the "Sword of the Dales" adventures (1995).

The "Undermountain" trilogy was the next (and last) Forgotten Realms adventure trilogy, and it was a bit different from those that preceded it. The previous trilogies were all tightly connected, while the three "Undermountain" adventures depict mostly unlinked areas that all can be used within the great dungeon of Undermountain (or elsewhere, as we'll see).

TSR planned to return to standalone Realms adventures in 1997, beginning with Four from Cormyr (1997), Castle Spulzeer (1997), and Hellgate Keep (1998); of course those adventures were instead published by Wizards of the Coast, and all a bit later than TSR had planned.

Introducing the Dungeon Crawls. "The Lost Level" was the first in TSR's short series of "Dungeon Crawl" adventures. They were intended to be "stand-alone quests... [that could] easily be adapted to existing campaigns." To ensure that they were properly standalone, each Dungeon Crawl has specific entrances and exits, intended to make it easy to insert the area into any campaign.

The Dungeon Crawls were each intended to include not only dungeon levels, but also encounters and rumor tables. TSR planned to release them mainly for mid-level adventurers (5th-9th) with average party sizes (i.e., assuming 5 PCs). The Dungeon Crawls also weren't intended to be connected (though the first three Dungeon Crawls were each set in Undermountain of the Forgotten Realms).

In all, six Dungeon Crawls were released: "Undermountain I: The Lost Level," "Undermountain II: Maddgoth's Castle" (1996), "Undermountain III: Stardock" (1996), Hellgate Keep (1998), The Lost Shrine of Bundushatur (1998), and The Dungeon of Death (2000).

The Monster Protocol. Schend felt that too many designers were introducing new monsters to AD&D, rather than using some of the old classics. So, in stocking "The Lost Level," he decided to fill it with traditional D&D monsters that hadn't recently been used: This included behirs, carrion crawlers, ettins, hill giants, iron golems, manticores, rust monsters, and will o' wisps.

Adventure Tropes. Schend puts effort into explaining how this dungeon level came to be, but overall it's a 70s style adventure at its best, full of dangerous NPCs, nasty monsters, and tricky puzzles (like a room of mirrors).

Expanding Undermountain. Ed Greenwood began running players through his own dungeon, "Undermountain," in 1975. In time, it would come to include nine levels and fourteen sublevels, all beneath the city of Waterdeep. He detailed the first three levels in Ruins of Undermountain (1991), and then Jean Rabe, Norm Ritchie, and Donald Bingle revealed two of the Deep Levels and one sublevel in Ruins of Undermountain II (1994).

The "Lost Level" was mentioned in Ruins of Undermountain in a section detailing how to expand Undermountain. There, it's listed as one of "The Dark Levels":

One such level is entombed in solid rock, and can be reached only a gate— guarded by “The Ring of Death,” a waiting ring of gauth and death kiss beholder-kin. This almost inaccessible level is known as “The Lost Level.” It is a dark, spider-infested place of old, treasure-laden tombs; in its halls roam some horrific monsters. It is reputedly inhabited by a lonely, friendly Archlich (a special type of lich, detailed in the SPELLJAMMER™ accessory SJR1: Lost Ships).

This was the starting point for Steven Schend's own description of the area.

About the Creators. Schend was a long-time editor at TSR, whose notable editing work includes the original Ruins of Undermountain box and the D&D Rules Cyclopedia (1991). In 1996, he busily authored the entire Undermountain trilogy, which would lead to work on a full dozen Forgotten Realms supplements during the waning days of AD&D second edition.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and 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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October 10th, 2006
Brilliant addition to an already huge dungeon. I really wish this will be updated fully into 3.5 but can be done manually until then. Always love the Undermountain adventures.<br><br> <b>LIKED</b>: Easy to understand and add [...]
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Product Information
Author(s)
Rules Edition(s)
Pages
32
Edition
1.0
ISBN
0-7869-0399-6
Publisher Stock #
TSR 9519
File Size:
18.05 MB
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File Last Updated:
November 03, 2013
This title was added to our catalog on October 15, 2013.