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A missing mage...
A ruthless band of kidnappers...
A sinister conspiracy...
Night Below, the first epic campaign adventure for the AD&D game, is designed to take the player characters from 1st level to 10th level and beyond. The PCs start as beginning adventures on a routine courier mission who soon become drawn into combating a sinister plot that menaces the pleasant land of Haranshire.
By the end of Book I, The Evils of Haranshire, the player characters should have worked their way up to 5th level. Book II, Perils of the Underdark, shifts the scene underground as the characters search the seemingly endless realm of the underdark to discover the fate of the kidnappers' victims. By the time they reach the dark cavern of The Sunless Sea in Book III, they should each be 10th level or above, ready at last to confront the ultimate evil behind the far-reaching conspiracy.
Inside this box are
Night Below: An Underdark Campaign (1995), by Carl Sargent, is a standalone Underdark campaign. It was published in November 1995.
Origins (I): A Boxed Campaign. By the mid '90s, TSR was producing generic campaigns as boxed sets. Some were one-off campaign worlds, like Council of Wyrms (1994) while others were really big adventures like Dragon Mountain (1993) and now Night Below: An Underdark Campaign (1995).
Origins (II): The Return of D. Night Below: An Underdark Campaign (1995) is clearly intended as a reinvention of Gary Gygax's original series of "D" adventures. Like that primordial campaign, Night Below is set in a peopled underdark with monstrous cities and entire civilizations beneath the earth.
Night Below even includes an Underdark ocean called "The Sunless Sea", which is an obvious homage to the otherwise unexplored locale mentioned in D2: "Shrine of the Kuo-Toa" (1978) and D3: "Vault of the Drow" (1978). Given Carl Sargent's past work as the main architect of Greyhawk, this has led some to speculate that Night Below was originally intended as a Greyhawk campaign -- or perhaps as a trilogy of adventures, for its clearly broken up into three equal parts. Unfortunately, author Carl Sargent would not be able to speak to this speculation.
Origins (III): The Mysterious Disappearance of Carl Sargent. Night Below was Carl Sargent's last work for TSR. Around the same time he was hired by FASA to become the new line developer for their Shadowrun game. He left Nottingham, to catch a plane to Chicago to accept the job ... and was never heard from again.
Various reports have speculated that he was in a car accident, that he suffered some other "medical problem", or that he purposefully disappeared. None of this has been confirmed. Some reports suggest that even his family doesn't know what happened to him. In any case, since 1995, Sargent has been gone from the industry (and from his professional career). Paizo editor Erik Mona made a new attempt to track down Sargent in the early '10s and had one of "Sargent's most frequent collaborators," tell him: "I've always thought that if people want to disappear, they should be allowed."
Adventures Styles: An Adventure Path. Night Below follows in the footsteps of the "D" adventures in another way: it's early adventure path, meant to bring players from first level to somewhere in excess of tenth. However unlike modern adventure paths, Night Below doesn't really contain enough challenges to level the characters up. Night Below alludes to this by suggesting that players use "side-plots" and "mini-adventures" to flesh out the campaign and give it more verisimilitude. Online, Dragon editor Dave Gross was more adamant, saying, "Don't forget that it's highly recommended, even necessary that you expand the Night Below campaign with short adventures". Of course, he suggested Dungeon Adventures as a great place to find those mini-adventures.
Adventure Styles: Locale-Based. Night Below is largely a locale-based adventure. There's a sandbox of a town for the first section, then a ruins crawl, a mine crawl, and lots of underdark crawls.
Adventure Tropes: Bringing Down the House. The players must invade a few different cities. The attack on the kuo-toan City of the Glass Pool is a pure hack-and-slash. There's even a "Social Collapse Point system" that describes what happens as the players murder-hobo their way through the city.
The invasion of the Great City of the Aboleth could be equally violent, but there are also suggestions for quieter infiltrations, which is more in tune with how players were expected to interact with the great underground cities of the original "D" adventures.
Adventure Tropes: Let's Negotiate. In fact, there are lots of options for negotiation in Night Below , trading in simple hack-and-slash for more meaningful interactions with these Underdark cultures. But it'll all depend on the players ...
Not Necessarily The Miniatures Tie-In. Wizards of the Coast apparently liked the name "Night Below" because years later they released Night Below (2007) as an expansion for the D&D Miniatures game. It has nothing to do with Sargent's adventure of a decade earlier.
Exploring Greyhawk. Though Night Below is a generic adventure, the presence of a Sunless Sea has led many to place it in Greyhawk, beginning on the opposite shore from the "D" adventures.
Monsters of Note. So who are the newest monsters filling the Underdark? Sargent begins with some classics like illithids , kuo-tuo , and svirfneblin . He also highlights the derro , who were mentioned in early sources like the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide (1986), but who had been most prominently featured in Greyhawk adventures. The drow are largely missing, but have been replaced by the new rockseer elf race.
However, the aboleth are the most important monster to rise to newfound Underdark prominence. Like the derro, they were mentioned in the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide , but this was their first notable Underdark appearance. It would turn them into one of the major races of the under realms.
Monsters of Note: A History of Aboleth. The aboleth were created by David "Zeb" Cook for I1: "Dwellers of the Forbidden City" (1981), where they're described as "an amphibious, fishlike abomination." They quickly became associated with Lovecraftian monstrosities, but fans have suggested that their inspiration could just as easily have been any number of weird fish, including agnathans or hagfish.
They were soon reprinted in the Monster Manual II (1983), then received a complete "Ecology of the Aboleth" in Dragon #131 (March 1988), the "Descent into Deepearth" issue. There, Brandon Grist introduced even more powerful variants: the greater aboleth, the noble aboleth, the ruler aboleth, and the grand aboleth. Their only other starring adventure role was in "Intrigue in the Depths" in Dungeon #12 (July/August 1988), which also introduced the saltwater aboleth.
The aboleth returned for AD&D 2e (1989) in MC2: Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989), but only in its original form. That was it until the release of Night Below (1995), the most aboleth-y adventure ever, and also the one that introduced yet another variant: the aboleth savant.
About the Creators. Sargent was the master of Greyhawk throughout the From the Ashes era, but this was his final release for TSR.
About the Product Historian
The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time.
Adapted for Fantasy Grounds by: Mike Wilson
Requires: An active subscription or a one time purchase of a Fantasy Grounds Full or Ultimate license and a one time purchase of the D&D Classics - AD&D 1E/2E ruleset. Compatible with Fantasy Grounds Unity or Fantasy Grounds Classic
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Released on November 10, 2020
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