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Out of the Abyss is a campaign for Dungeons and Dragons 5e. It takes place in the Underdark and is full of unique creatures, powerful demons and madness.
SPOLIER ALERT: I try to keep clear of any major spoilers, but this overview and review does reveal some details of this campaign. If you don’t want to know some of the details in this adventure, you should stop reading now.
Out of the Abyss is a campaign that takes characters on a dangerous journey from level one to fifteen or beyond. The PCs start out captured in the Underdark with no equipment and the whole first chapter is dedicated to them escaping. They are jailed with several interesting NPCs that may help (and escape with) the PCs. Each NPC is detailed and has unique motives and ambitions.
The early part of the book deals with the PCs enslavement and escape from a drow outpost. Then there is a chapter that gives guidelines for travelling in the Underdark. This includes random encounters, travel times and madness. Madness may be gained by observing or interacting with the demonic forces at work in the Underdark.
The next four chapters details the main four locations PCs may travel to after escaping. Each location is unique and might be of interest to an NPC escapee. There is no set order to visit these locations and the party may not even need to visit them all. Each location is like a mini-campaign on its own.
Chapter 7 is used once the PCs are ready to emerge from the Underdark. It is a condition-based event and requires the PCs to accomplish certain things as determined by the DM.
The adventure doesn’t end there though. The PCs are summoned and asked to return to the Underdark to gain more information. Like in Princes of the Apocalypse, the various factions are involved. Representatives are present and might even be persuaded to aid the PCs.
Mantol-Derith is a diverse outpost outlined in Chapter 9. It leads you to Gravenhollow, a stone giant library, which is detailed in Chapter 11. Here the characters meet a powerful drow ally, the archmage Vizeran.
Chapter 10 is similar to the second chapter. It gives guidelines for travelling even further into the Underdark and what the PCs encounter on the way.
Vizeran’s plan and the characters’ role in it are covered in Chapters 12 through 14. And in Chapter 15 the adventurers travel to the drow city of Menzoberranzan. There is a lot of detail on the city and its features. They also learn Vizeran’s motives and true plans. They may react as they wish.
In Chapter 16 the PCs are caught up in a battle between two demon lords and can help finish off the winner. The same thing occurs in the last chapter as the PCs must wait out the victor of the clash of demons and eliminate the battered survivors.
Appendix A provides alternate features and backgrounds for the PCs that tie in with the Underdark. The next appendix is full of unusual magic items. Appendix C has stat blocks for the creatures that are featured in Out of the Abyss that cannot be found in the Monster Manual.
Out of the Abyss does a great job fleshing out the Underdark for 5e. It adds madness checks and creates a setting flush with horror and fantasy. The adventure is a sandbox for the first half of the book. The second half is a bit more linear but the players can still determine locations and outcomes for events and more. Their actions matter.
The included NPCs are fun and add interesting characters for the PCs to interact with. They can help the DM lead the PCs through the campaign via their stories and actions. It should be noted that newer DMs might have trouble running so many NPCs.
I do wish there was a chapter with an overview of the entire campaign. It would help since some chapters seem unorganized. The content is fine but some chapters feel out of place and give guidelines used in the surrounding chapters.
There is a ton of information on the Underdark and if you are interested in running 5e adventures in the Underdark you should pick this up. The encounters and dungeons are varied and could easily be used in home-brewed campaigns.
If you are a new DM or have a party of newer players you might want to try running Princes of the Apocalypse first.