Critical Role: Call of the Netherdeep
NEW STUFF AT NETHERDEEP!!!
What do we want? “NEW STUFF” When do we want it? “NOW”
Well Call of the Netherdeep goes right ahead and delivers, with 24 new monsters/NPC’s, 15 magic items and a whole new affliction, corruption!
First things first, you do not need any prior knowledge or understanding of Critical Roll to be able to run this campaign. So, do not panic and try to binge 800+ episodes before opening the first page. The book does a very good job of introducing the world of Exandria with a comprehensive history of it. This is quite a bit of initial reading, but it is worth it to dive into the rich lore of the world.
For the Dungeon Master (DM) running the adventure, the book does a great job of breaking down the flowchart of expected Player Character (PC) levels, the rival adventures goals, motivations and backgrounds; detailing the forgotten hero, Apotheon, who was born under a full moon of ill omen. Throughout the adventure players will have chances to face off against rival adventuring parties who see themselves as the true heroes. Call of the Netherdeep forces players to think about how they act because rival adventuring parties will treat the PCs accordingly; as friendly, indifferent or aggressive. All of this will mean a lot of possible changes in each game session.
Several things, including a new affliction called corruption.
Whilst exploring Netherdeep an item can be found, that gives more than it receives; a plague of corruption in the form of sores, rashes, crystalline protrusions and eventual death. As players explore Exandria they will meet many creatures and characters that have been touched by this corruption. It brings a whole new element to the world in which the adventurers ply their trade.
Now, if you have never explored Exandria before, you will, in fact, receive the gift of 27 new monsters/Non Player Characters (NPCs) due to the reprinting of 3 distinct creatures from the Explorer’s Guide to Wildemount. So, if you are a new adventurer to the lands of Exandria, you are in for quite a treat, with a personal favourite of a brilliant assortment of undersea and coastal monsters, which allow a fun element of danger and difficulty for players to overcome.
Call of the Netherdeep has included quite a few one-off magical items that can be acquired quite early on in the adventure. Along with this is a great assortment of infected items that can be used as cursed or corrupted gear. Something many players may not have had a chance to experience is the reprinted “breathing bubble” which as players may not know is needed for any long-term underwater adventure and DMs will get the long-awaited chance to terrify players with fear of drowning along with normal dungeon fear. Overall, I think players and DMs alike will be very happy with the assortment of fun, new, magical and usable trinkets.
“The greed of mortals has awakened a powerful entity long thought destroyed. For eons, this mighty champion of the gods has been imprisoned in the darkest depths of Exandria. His name has been forgotten, as have his heroic deeds. Languishing in despair, he calls out for new heroes to save him.”
The incredible adventure starts in the city of Jigow, with the Festival of Merit in full swing. Players will be competing in all manner of contests testing their wits, strength, constitution and their guile. They will be able to participate in arm-wrestling matches, running mazes, solving riddles and even pie-eating contests.
At the end of all the contests, the party will face their rivals in a daring race through the Emerald Grotto. The race is quite a long one and can easily make up an entire individual adventure. The way the party completes the race is up to them. They will have chances to interact with many of the other competitors, which can affect their interactions much later. The maze-like Grotto sets a tone of mystery and tension for later encounters which make use of water and underwater environments. Once the race is completed, the players will encounter a vison of Apotheon which will be the springboard into the continent trekking heroic quest.
There is a feeling of familiarity with Call of the Netherdeep, reminiscent of Tomb of Annihilation; both starting off festive and jovial, followed by city and then dungeon exploration. However, in my personal opinion, Call of the Netherdeep does what Tomb wanted to do in a far more fascinating way. Much of the campaign taking place underwater can be daunting for new and even experienced DMs, but the book does a brilliant job of guiding both the PCs and the DM through.
Overall, I think the adventure is incredibly well thought out and designed and the introduction of the rivals system adds a whole new aspect to the role playing which will leave your players with a story to tell their grandkids around the fire.