The next leg of the Menace of the Underdark Dungeons and Dragons Online Expansion has us going into The Underdark itself, as well as infiltrating a Drow city, Sschindylryn, with the purpose of finding a way to get to Lolth and stop her from devouring Eberron and using its dragonshards. This next leg of the three part set of quest chains feels very, very different from what you experience in The King’s Forest’s quests, and the explorer area most definitely has a different feel and is infested with one of my favorite mobs from the table top, the purple worm. Usul, we have wormsign the likes of which even God has never seen.
First we’ll talk about The Underdark. It’s, well… it’s dark, just like it’s supposed to be. There is very little light down here, whatever you do get is coming from bio-luminescent plants, but compared to what we got in the underground quests in Stormreach, even this is very minimal. With my settings I can actually get around and still see somewhat, as I usually keep my brightness settings up higher than most, but it will be hard to get around. There are several levels with stone catwalks overlapping the lower areas, and the most obvious way up to the higher levels… isn’t always obvious. There are a few different ways into the area, one from the cave, another from the forest, and if you’ve gotten to a certain explorer point, a magical portal as well. There is an item that basically gives you dark vision, but that’s taking up a pretty valuable item slot to most people, your goggles, so you might just have to play it by ear and use your map a lot to get around.
Most of the underground denizens you’ll meet in here are going to be Drow, but there’s my favorite, the purple worm, Yuan-Ti, which are snake-people, Salamanders, which are flame based versions of the Yuan-Ti, some old favorites with the Medusa and, of course, Driders and Spiders. This area works more like the other explorer areas, with your standard rares, explorer points, and quest entrances. Its uniqueness comes from the atmosphere and how you have to get around in this nearly pitch black area. It’s also home to the quest In The Belly of the Beast, which deals with my favorite beastie yet again, the purple worm. There’s a portal here that takes you into another explorer area and home of the actual series of Drow quests, Sschindylryn.
Sschindylryn is set up like the King’s Forest as far as how you pick up things. There’s a variety of rares, two different slayer counts between the Drow and Lolth’s spider friends, and then Missives from a Drow Priestess that you pick up that tell you about the area, much like Elminster’s Messages. Sschindylryn, while in The Underdark, and sharing the pitch black nature as a result, feels different. There’s an underground river with bridges around it into and out of the city, and the city itself has some interesting architecture to it. While my favorite bad guys are out in The Underdark, I love running around just looking at the buildings here. It’s awe-inspiring really. My only real complaint is that it doesn’t feel populated. Granted, if it were populated like a real city, it would be almost impossible to get in with everything attacking you, so there are mechanical considerations to think about, but you’re also supposed to be in disguise as a slave if you’re following the quest line. It’s a minor quibble, and really, it has almost the same amount of NPC traffic you’d see in Stormreach, it just doesn’t feel like city foot traffic.
There are four quests in this area, and in almost all of them, you’re spending time sabotaging and getting back at the Drow who attacked Eberron and Eveningstar. In The House of Rusted Blades, you enter the Drow House of Warriors and set about sabotaging their weapons cache. The House of Broken Chains has you entering a Slaver’s house and starting a slave revolt. In The House of Death Undone, you have to go in and stop the Necromancer’s from doing whatever they were planning on doing to strengthen their numbers with some new undead creation. This all leads you to The Portal Opens, where you go into the main focus in Sschindylryn, a giant structure that houses a portal to the Demonweb Pits, which gives you a better shot at stopping Lolth. In this one you’re trying to gather up several objects to help Elminster get a portal open, so you can stop the Drow Priestess from completing her ritual. The quests are all interesting, with differing objectives for each, which is good, but they feel a little plain. I can’t put my finger on it. They are still a lot of fun either way, and you can get more commendations for that gear back in Eveninstar.
I liked the Drow sections almost as much as I liked The King’s Forest and Eveningstar. There are a few bugs that are getting ironed out as I type this with a patch, which is good. I need to complete my Sschindylryn missives, and having access to the end of the chain and the raid will be a good thing. So, more on the last leg of the Expansion packs areas, the Demonweb, my thoughts on Epic Destinies and level, as well as the Druid class, and a full on review of the Menace of the Underdark expansion coming up soon!