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Dargoth
Great Reader

Australia
4607 Posts

Posted - 10 Nov 2018 :  02:01:09  Show Profile  Visit Dargoth's Homepage Send Dargoth a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
If your wondering about Dungeon of the Mad Mage I found a Youtube video of someone previewing the Roll20 version of it


Eric Watson's Channel
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYGO_eDnHKA

Dungeon of the Mad Mage includes reference to the Undermountain Dungeon Crawl ie Maggoths Castle, The Lost Level and Stardock

“I am the King of Rome, and above grammar”

Emperor Sigismund

"Its good to be the King!"

Mel Brooks

JohnLynch
Learned Scribe

Australia
243 Posts

Posted - 18 Nov 2018 :  05:08:32  Show Profile Send JohnLynch a Private Message  Reply with Quote
My first impressions of Dungeon of the Mad Mage are not favourable. I own (in electronic format, mostly PDF but now also in D&D Beyond) every published iteration of Undermountain and this is not one of the good ones.

To start off with Dungeon of the Mad Mage is not a megadungeon. It is a big dungeon (or more accurately it is a series of reasonably sized dungeons), but it is not a megadungeon. Here is why I say that:

We have 2 plot devices to keep PCs from dying beyond the standard D&D 5e rules (which are pretty lenient as it is compared with AD&D 2e and 3e/3.5e). One of Halaster's apprentices will forcibly stop PCs from going into level inappropriate areas or at a minimum tell them "this zone has not been approved of your level". They also have Durnan who warns off anyone who isn't at the minimum level of the adventure.

The second plot device moves very heavily into "and it turned out to all just be a dream" territory.

In addition I suspect (although haven't read anywhere deep enough) that each dungeon area is modular and self contained. There will be minimal interaction between the denizens of different levels within Undermountain, not really making it a big dungeon but more making it a series of dungeons that share a central conceit (created by Halaster who continues to modify them as we speak).

Finally each level of the dungeon is meant to be cleared once and only once. Megadungeons (IMO) aren't designed to be cleared. They're meant to repopulate over time with the denizens reacting and adapting to the PCs. This is not how Dungeon of the Mad Mage appears to act with the book directly saying "every level gives you just enough XP to advance to the next PC level if you clear out the entire level."

Finally the map has shrunk considerably. I don't just mean they only show a subset of each level. That would be completely understandable (given the scope of the dungeon) and they even mention "Go to the DMs Guild to see how the dungeon has been expanded and to post your own expansions". I think that's a great use of the Dungeon Master's Guild. But what they instead did was excise entire rooms from the dungeon floor plan and squashed the map so that it doesn't look like it has entire rooms missing. Now while it doesn't contradict prior lore to do that, it does cut out areas for DMs to do stuff with.

I am thinking about running Undermountain myself for D&D 5e (thinking about it. Not sure if I will end up doing). And I can thankfully easily put those rooms back into the map (Halaster simply reconnected them and extended corridors to allow for their inclusion). But it's disappointing that I have to do that because WotC thought that once again the Forgotten Realms was better by removing things rather than keeping things in there undetailed for DMs to expand upon.

DM of the Realms: A blog for my Forgotten Realms adventures.
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Zeromaru X
Master of Realmslore

Colombia
1339 Posts

Posted - 22 Nov 2018 :  02:40:52  Show Profile Send Zeromaru X a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, I was awaiting for this book... so, this is a little discouraging. It's really that bad?

Long ago, in the distant past, they fell into decay. The philosopher’s path... The river of glory... Even the saints resting in the darkness rise up without response and block the way...
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
3042 Posts

Posted - 22 Nov 2018 :  02:46:44  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Zeromaru X

Well, I was awaiting for this book... so, this is a little discouraging. It's really that bad?



I just wanted it for an updated Skullport, so I bought the compendium only version on D&D beyond. Honestly, the lore part was underwhelming to me (and on top of that, they don't even mention the Promenade, at all, not even a passing word), so if you want this book for that part, I don't recommend it.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/
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TomCosta
Forgotten Realms Designer

USA
626 Posts

Posted - 23 Nov 2018 :  14:01:49  Show Profile Send TomCosta a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't know that the Promenade is back in 5E. On the contrary, wouldn't it be gone for good. Qilue was killed the end of 3E and IIRC 4E said the Promenade was gone (makes sense that a tiny outpost of good drow so close to Skullport and other Undermountain nastinesss wouldn't last without a demigoddesses help).

As for the book. It's an adventure module that brings you from level 5 to 20, pretty much pure and simple.It is 320 pages. The first 12 are intro and then from page 13-302 it details the adventures portions of levels 1-23 of Undermountain. Skullport gets 7 pages at the back and then there's 9 pages of monsters and 2 pages of adventure supplement cards. Not a lot of lore and only the key portions of each level are detailed. Honestly, detailing 23 levels of anything in 290 pages designed to be an adventure is not going to happen, so for what it is, it's good, but its not a lore book (except in so far that it updates some bits). It's not my favorite of the 5E adventure books, but its good.
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Irennan
Great Reader

Italy
3042 Posts

Posted - 23 Nov 2018 :  20:43:52  Show Profile Send Irennan a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by TomCosta

I don't know that the Promenade is back in 5E. On the contrary, wouldn't it be gone for good. Qilue was killed the end of 3E and IIRC 4E said the Promenade was gone (makes sense that a tiny outpost of good drow so close to Skullport and other Undermountain nastinesss wouldn't last without a demigoddesses help).



4E doesn't say anything about the Promenade (even though it was very obviously removed as part of the changes for 4e). Ed said that the Promenade was stealthily retaken in 5e. Besides, even if it started as a tiny settlement, it grew massively in size in a couple decades, up to 400 inhabitants (which also included cleric and fighter NPCs) according to Expedition to Undermountain. With Eilistraee seeing many of her followers return to her, there's nothing to say that the Promenade wouldn't survive (especially since Skullport itself has only recently been retaken).

Anyway, that wasn't my point. Even if WotC didn't want it, they could at least have mentioned it, given that it's pretty significant (like previous sources mention that it used to be a temple of Moander). Instead, they put a random temple to Eilistraee on the 10th level, built alongside a temple to Vhaeraun and Ghaunadaur, which makes 0 sense.

To all Facebook-using FR fans, you might be interested in checking out this page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/450517575051806/

Edited by - Irennan on 23 Nov 2018 21:29:25
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JohnLynch
Learned Scribe

Australia
243 Posts

Posted - 23 Nov 2018 :  21:59:18  Show Profile Send JohnLynch a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Zeromaru X

Well, I was awaiting for this book... so, this is a little discouraging. It's really that bad?

Looking at it as a DM, not really. But mostly because you can change it:
  • Remove the avoid dying plot devices: Pretty easy. Have Durnan not forewarn people about going in and simply leave it as is and don't have Halaster's apprentice micromanage the PC's safety.

  • Map shrinkage: Pretty easy again. Print out an unkeyed map from a previous edition and key it yourself with the 5e rooms and then put whatever you want in the other rooms

  • Dungeon restocking: This will take the most effort, but to be honest any restocking included in the adventure is going to be "meh" because how it restocks will be dependent on how it's cleared.

  • [*]Remove Level Requirements: Some portals require you to be a minimum level to enter them. Remove that, give them a key or a spell that must be active and then put the key into the level where your players are likely to reach the right threshold. If they're ingenious they might get the key early and that's okay.


I was a bit premature in saying there was no communication or travel between levels. There is some. It's up to you if you want to increase or decrease it.

I do think Dungeon of the Mad Mage is a good starting point for 5e Undermountain adventures. I was just expecting to see a megadungeon and instead got a standard adventure book. That was surprising for me, that's all.

DM of the Realms: A blog for my Forgotten Realms adventures.

Edited by - JohnLynch on 23 Nov 2018 22:00:03
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