Being an adventurer is a hard business. Dungeons offer adventure, treasure, and glory, but they are fraught with deadly traps, vicious monsters, and sinister puzzles. It takes more than a stout heart and a sharp mind to survive. A hero must be equipped with knowledge and tools if he or she is to face the unknown and live to tell about it.
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Instead of flavor, knowledge, and survival techniques we get new classes, races, and abilities. Instead of gypsum, stalagmites, and underground rivers we get Trapsmith, Treasure Hunter, and Hurl-Snatcher.
Granted, there is a section on traveling in the Underdark, and there is a lot of detail, but it does nothing to actually educate me about what real travel is like underground.
When I GM, I want my players to become so involved in the game that they forget it's a game. I want to see their faces wrenched into twisted, contorted expressions of horror, see their skin turn pale at the description of a strange creature of the underworld spilling out of a cave up ahead, see the glimmer of inspiration of they explore a new group of caves and engage the local flora and fauna to learn all that they can.
This book just doesn't do that. It's funny really, just when I think WotC gets it, they put out something like this. They also have the audacity to attempt to appeal to old school gamers such as myself by referencing ancient popular dungeon and cave crawls of yesteryear.
Yes, I admit, it was pretty cool to see Castle Ravenloft, White Plume Mountain, and the Temple of Elemental Evil pictures and described in a more intimate and personal way than before, and I'm not trying to dissuade Wizards from doing this in the future. I just found it a bit contrived to do so in a book which pays little if any homage to the products from which this book was supposedly inspired.
If I were to create a new version of the classic "Underdark Survival" book I would start with the maps and illustrations of the places you are to explore. Take out the colorful action sequences, take out the new classes and races, and put the flavor and mystery of the underworld back in! These points are quite valid and very important to consider. Bottom line? I give this book 1 out of 5 stars. That solitary star comes from a few of the beautiful LOCATION illustrations which could be used for development of original locations by a creative and inspired GM specifically the illustration on page 49 by Noah Bradley.
Also, there are rules detailing travel in the Underdark, just not as in depth as I would like to have seen. Search for:. Like this: Like Loading Lords of Waterdeep.
Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook
Being an adventurer is a hard business. Dungeons offer adventure, treasure, and glory, but they are fraught with deadly traps, vicious monsters, and sinister puzzles. It takes more than a stout heart and a sharp mind to survive. A hero must be equipped with knowledge and tools if he or she is to face the unknown and live to tell about it. Whether you're a Dungeon Master seeking to create a fantastic location populated with beholders and mind flayers, or a player looking to equip your character with the means to fight such threats, this book is for you.
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Tabletop Review: Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook (Dungeons & Dragons)
I also loved the idea of a Dungeon Survival Handbook. I want a thematically interesting dungeon. Why is the dungeon there? What purpose does it serve?