A13: Rise of the Drow, Part 1—Descent into the Underworld (PFRPG) PDF (based on
Add to Cart
A Pathfinder/3.5 Compatible Adventure for 4-6 PCs of levels 6-8
Adventureaweek.com PDFs are fully supported by Hero Lab files (included in download), minimum requirement: Pathfinder Roleplaying Game core system.
The drow city of Holoth is a wealthy metropolis of power-hungry drow families, with various houses constantly vying for position and prestige at the expense of each other. House Gullion, one of the more sinister houses, seals a pact with a mysterious race called the Vidre, an agreement which causes a shift Gullion’s way and throws the entire Underworld into utter chaos. Matron Maelora of House Gullion is as devious as they come and has far greater dreams than simple regional conquest; visions from the Spider Goddess give her insight into the expansion of her house and dominance over both the Under and Overworld.
When the dwarven trade city of Embla is placed in a tight position, being between the Overworld and the drow city of Holoth, it calls upon the Overworlders for help. Most of Embla’s dwarven warriors have been enslaved or killed, and Emlba’s citizens have little hope of holding back the hordes of drow from Holoth.
The PCs are called upon to help the dwarves of Embla. Their choices will have profound implications on the Underworld, as well as Rybalka and the entire Vikmordere Valley. When the dust settles, the entire region may be changed forever.
Also included in “Descent into the Underworld”:
Map of Krelgar Keep by 3x ENnie Award winner Todd Gamble
Map of the Underworld by 3x ENnie Award winner Todd Gamble
Illustrations by James J Krause, Tim Tyler, and Silvano of Italy
New Trap: Ochre Jelly Dust
New Special Ability: Third Eye of Fear
New Feat: Fused Weapon Fighting
New Items: Drow Kllellek Paper, Drow Quill, Drow Ink
New Magical Item: Coin of Singing
New Spell: Iceflame
New Monster: Skildpadder
New Monster: Underworld Giant Skeleton
New Class: Titanic Beastmaster
Written by Stephen Yeardley & Jonathan Nelson
Cartography by Todd Gamble
Cover art by James J. Krause
EDIT: I had an odd bookmark-compatibility-problem and the AaW.com-crew got me a fully functional version within just a few hours - now THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is top-notch customer service!
This pdf is 121 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving a whopping 116 pages of content, so let's check this out!
This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players might wish to jump to the conclusion.
All right, still here? The underdark is boiling from the flames of war - Maelora of House Gullion (nice tribute to fellow review KTFish7, I assume?) has taken control over the drow trade-hub of Holoth via an interesting coup d'état - allying herself with the alien Vidre and siphoning power from an artifact granted by these enigmatic, crystalline schemers, she indeed triumphed and funneled the souls of her captives through the artifact to gain immense power. Unbeknown to her, half of the souls have been funneled to the greedy clutches of the alien Vidre and sacrifices have started to become harder and harder to come by. Not one to be dictated what to do, the matron managed to sever the binding ties and arcane entwinements of the pact between her and the Vidre via the Spider-Goddess' help (we're looking at old-school drow here, obviously) for the promise of a conquest of the worlds above - the goddess has spoken and so it shall be done. The Vidre, meanwhile, prepare for war - their thirst for souls must be slaked.
Enter the PCs via a relative of Rybalka's blacksmith Quorron, a female named Miah, ambassador of Embla, a dwarven city that seeks to unite the denizens of the underdark to address the drow-problem. Time is of the essence, though, and the PCs will have to take a dangerous road into the underdark via the ruins of Krelgar keep (5 level-mini-dungeon, lavishly cartographed in a stunning full-color map) - and something is definitely amiss, indicated by the dimensionally shackled bralani the PCs encounter there. After encountering the first troupes of drow (thankfully only zombies), the PCs may be in for a surprise - if they can decipher a missive, they'll realize that the dark elves have planned a raid on the surface world. Even cooler: Drow Paper, Quills and Ink are described and they are anything but common - what about e.g. quills made from giant spider fangs? Neat! Nevertheless, the PCs should think about warning Rybalka - whether they do or not, the repercussions will be felt. However, the immediate threat, the boss of this dungeon, will prove to be a challenge - the disturbing drow mhorg Yul will prove to be a worthy challenge, no small thanks to his items and the new "Third eyes of fear" that lets the users blink.
The journey through the underdark, accompanied by a cool map as well as information on various types of gases and multiple encounters will also see the PCs encounter their first driders, a wizard of house Gullion and then culminate in a chance for them to disrupt a drow raid on a dwarven caravan and then finally arrive at the gates of Embla, where the second module of the trilogy will start.
The pdf also includes the Titanic Beastmaster PrC. The class gets d8, 2+Int skills per level, full BAB, good fort- and ref-saves and focuses on taming and training the larger monsters - no spell progression or the like and the requirements for the PrC are rather steep, making it an accomplishment to actually qualify for it while granting massive enhancements to the special companion granted by it.
On page 41, the statblock-index starts with an encounter table and takes up all space till page 117 to deliver all the stats for both D&D 3.5 and PFRPG. Unfortunately, the index is not bookmarked, which makes this vast section of the pdf harder to navigate than it should by any means.
The pdf closes with two player-friendly versions of the stellar maps.
Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect - I encountered some minor glitches, but none that severely impeded my enjoyment of the module. Layout adheres to AaW's full-color two-column standard and the cartography is simply awesome. I was also blown away by some of the artworks - the drow depicted mostly can stand up to the Paizo-level regarding the quality of the art. However, there are also some jarring full-color illustrations that feel somewhat shoehorned into the adventure, are of a lesser quality and detract from a unified look. I frankly would have preferred them to be left out. The pdf comes with a printer-friendly version.
"Rise of the Drow" is an interesting module in that it builds up a sense of threat and consequences for the region of Rybalka and its surroundings and works well to set up not only the drow as a credible threat, but also to evoke a sense of grand changes afoot. The environmental effects and cultural details like the paper/ink etc. they use lends an added sense of credibility to the dark elves. It should be noted, though, that the drow of AaW seem to worship a certain spider-goddess and thus are different from the demon-worshipping drow of Golarion - I'm already curious how this worship interacts with a fabled origin that hearkens back to Norse mythology. All in all, this is a good module with already rather significant decisions to make, but judging the repercussions and consequences etc., for now, remains hard - I look forward to seeing how the sequels can implement these diverging paths. Content-wise, thus, there's not much to complain about. However, the minor glitches and the jarring difference in quality between beautiful and rather hideous artworks and we have some factors that conspire to keep this module from the full 5 stars. Thus, my final verdict will be a solid 4.5, rounded down to 4, but very close to 5 stars with your humble reviewer looking forward to seeing how the saga continues.