On the Table: Out of the Abyss
Weighing in at 254 pages Out of the Abyss is the newest pen and paper source book for 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons that ties into the current Rage of Demons story line. This adventure is designed for characters between levels 1-15 and will take you deep into the final frontier of the Forgotten Realms. No I’m not talking about space, I’m talking about the Underdark.
This book contains 17 different parts, or chapters, that constitute an overall adventure. Early missions are a little tougher than normal so you can jump right in at the beginning even if you are higher than level 1. In fact it’s suggested that you may want to have characters start at level two. If not, as the DM, you may want to be a little nicer to the player characters than normal because that first chapter alone will pose a bit of a challenge.
You’ll begin you adventures in Out of the Abyss by taking part in a jail break. That is, you’ll be trying to break out of a subterranean jail. From there you’ll find yourself returning to the surface at points but also visiting iconic locations such as Gauntlgrym and Menzoberranzan. You’ll also meet legends of the Realms such as Bruenor Battlehammer.
While exploring the depths of Toril you’ll find yourself pushed to your physical and mental limits. You’ll also soon discover that all hell has broken loose, and quite literally. A tear has developed in the Abyss and demon lords have made their way to the Prime Material Plane. The book contains in depth breakdowns of 8 demon lords such as Baphomet and Fraz-Urb’luu, but chief among them is Demogorgon. These breakdowns provide actions and notes on how to play the demon lords as well as provide lair effects for each. Similar to what you would find in the Monster Manual for extremely challenging foes.
This is Green Ronin Publishing’s first guide written in conjunctions with Wizards of the Coast for 5th edition D&D but they are also known for their A Song of Ice and Fire campaign guides. They did a wonderful job coming up with this story and constructing this book. Like most of the other sourcebooks so far with 5th edition D&D each page has some form of artwork, whether this is concept art, a picture of a monster, NPC, or map and Out of the Abyss doesn’t fail to deliver on that aspect either. In fact early on in the book is a large scale map that shows the Sword Coast overlaid upon the Underdark to provide players with a since of perspective on just how large the Underdark is and what overland markers line up with Underdark locals.
For those of you that play Neverwinter on the PC or XBox you will probably be interested in the name Mantol-Derith. This is a neutral trading post where the different races of the Underdark, including the Drow, will trade with surface dwellers. This outpost is fleshed out in the Out of the Abyss guide. It will also make its debut in Neverwinter later this year when the Underdark module is released.
While the guide is beautifully constructed with all of the artwork and well organized there are only two items that I feel are really missing. The first is more suggestions for magic items. The second is an index at the end of the book to be used for quick page referencing.
If you are a pen and paper D&D player you probably already have this guide on your shelf. If not I would recommend picking it up as it would make an excellent addition to any collection. If, however, your exposure to D&D is limited to games like Neverwinter and Sword Coast Legends this book acts as a great companion. It will help fill out some of the gaps in the lore between those games and what is taking place in the surrounding Forgotten Realms. This ties those two games into the current D&D season in which those adventurers are taking place. I give this 4 out of 5 stars.