Descent to Undermountain (also known simply as Undermountain) is a role-playing game created and distributed by Interplay in 1997. It was developed by Chris Avellone, Scott Bennie, John Deiley, Robert Holloway, Steve Perrin.
In this spell-ridden maze of dungeons and rips in the very fabric of reality lies the ultimate prize: The Sword of the Spider Queen, the Goddess Lolth. Stolen from her long ago, in a time when gods wrestled with the primal energies of creation, those who dared possess it were destroyed.Based on an enhanced, SVGA version of the 3D engine from the immensely successful Descent game, all the horrors of the Abyss come to life with superior graphics that pay frightening homage to stunning detail. 360 direction movement makes no apologies for shameless attacks from behind. True to the AD&D system, you can develop your character from 6 different races, and create single as well as multi-class characters. Gain experience and discover magic items you'll need just to survive. In the end you'll trust no one but yourself. May the gods be with you."
Story[edit | edit source]
In Eleint 1370 DR, a hero was summoned by Khelben Arunsun on the behest of the Lords of Waterdeep. The Lords of the city were worried by a recent drastic increase in kobold activities and thefts across Waterdeep. Khelben determined that something or someone was driving the creatures away from their habitats deep in Undermountain and forcing them to venture out into the city streets. The Lords increased the presence of the City Watch and tasked the hero with stopping the kobolds from growing bold and harming the City of Splendors. Khelben gave the hero two gold coins to pay for their entrance and exit from Undermountain through the Yawning Portal and sent them on their way.
The hero uncovered the reason behind the kobolds' attacks. A drow High Priestess of Lolth, Azurna, was forcing the kobold "king" to steal from the Lords of Waterdeep. The hero confronted the kobolds and their leader, putting an end to their thievery. A relatively simple but dangerous task earned the lone hero a reward from the Lords and gratitude of the Blackstaff. This was not the end of the expedition to Undermountain, though. Khelben had another mission for the adventurer. A skeleton adorned with the noble family of Cassalanter was seen attacking several citizens of Waterdeep. The Blackstaff theorized that the undead likely came from the ancient family tomb with several family members interred. This tomb was on the Dungeon Level of Undermountain, and the hero was tasked with the investigation. The family crypt, along with the Shrine of Myrkul that it was a part of, was corrupted by an undead necromancer Ghoulmaster.
Cleansing the Cassalanter crypt, the lone hero discovered a shrine to Lolth with a curious piece of a spider-shaped artifact. Khelben was able to determine that the item's origins laid beyond the Prime Material plane. The next mission for the adventurer led to a recently uncovered part of Undermountain that served as the base for the Shadow Thieves' operations in Waterdeep. With the guild's colorful history and hate for the Lords, the newly discovered pretense was troubling and dangerous.
The hero managed to discover the Shadow Thieves' hidden stronghold and cull their numbers by confronting the Guild Master Georges. With the cruel guild leader's departure, the lone hero recovered scrolls that contained detailed information on the city, patrols, defenses, and schedules of the City Watch and high-ranking officials. Khelben realized the Shadow Thieves were collecting data for some mysterious party in the depths of Undermountain.
Following the dire revelation, the Blackstaff was on full alert but still did not know what dark power plotted against Waterdeep. This time, he sent the hero deeper into Undermountain in search of Maskar Wands's delinquent grandchild and the wizard's stolen heirloom, the golden scarab beetle. Marcus Wands, the grandson in question, lost the family artifact to a "three-headed-troll" and the lone hero was to retrieve it.
The hero descended into the Tomb of Ankh-Kephra and survived the traps hidden within, retrieving the missing item. Upon the next conversation with Khelben Arunsun, the Blackstaff informed the adventurer that something was amiss and sent the hero back into the depths of Undermountain with a vague request to find more clues on the deviant plot against Waterdeep and maybe more pieces of the spider-shaped artifact. The search led to the old dwarven prison complex within the dungeon, overtaken by a marauding tribe of humanoids, led by an orc of demonic blood, Horazak. Following the mining tunnels underneath the prison, the Khelbenite, as the lone hero was now known, found a way into an abandoned dwarven temple that held the second piece of the drow spider statue.
Khelben Arunsun was researching the significance of the mysterious spider pieces; he sent his trusted adventurer to retrieve the Black Wand of Myrkul. This task was part of the Blackstaff's personal vendetta against the dead deity. The wand was created to encase a piece of Myrkul's divinity, and Khelben could not wait for a chance to destroy another piece of the god of death. Once the hero uncovered the well-hidden artifact, Khelben had more dire news that needed investigating. The dwarves of Clangeddin's Hearth, who were attempting to reclaim ancient temples within Undermountain, faced numerous undead that was somehow tied to all the recent goings-on underneath Waterdeep.
When the Khelbenite reached the Temple of Clangeddin, none of the dwarves who reclaimed it were alive; they were slaughtered by the drow for the dwarves' attempt to flood the kobolds out of the sewers. Their bodies reanimated as undead servants by Morik Stormhand, an old lich allied with the drow and his fellow worshipers of Velsharoon. The hero defeated the lich and discovered another spider piece hidden inside the temple's vaults.
Following the expedition to the temple, Khelben was informed that the Shadow Thieves were not fully rooted out. The mysterious grandmaster Xabash had a lavish lair deeper in the dungeon. During another struggle against the shadowy organization, the adventurer rescued Meryth Phaulkon, a noblewoman from Waterdeep and Georges' paramour. At the heart of the base, the adventurer came across Xabash himself, a green beholder who was impressed with the hero's prowess. The beholder decided to betray his drow allies, knowing that they were not to succeed in their plot against Waterdeep.
Khelben had yet another mission ready for the adventurer. Asborn Moonstar, a desperate noble youth, was sent to Undermountain to retrieve a crystal rose from the Garden of the Drow. Asborn had been missing for over a week, and Khelben feared the worst. By the time the adventurer reached the young man, he was long dead, trapped by the drow, locked in the room with the rose, and starved to death. While there, the adventurer discovered yet another piece of stone spider that radiated powerful magic.
The crystal rose was retrieved and gifted to the young noble's lover, Elene Ruldegost, as a way of remembering Asborn. However, there would be more trouble in Waterdeep. Khelben informed the adventurer that one of Halaster Blackcloak's apprentices summoned spectators and assigned them to guard enchanted items, such as the Blackstaff, and Piergeiron the Paladinson's sword. The aberrations were creating chaos in the city. Khelben sent the adventure to try and stop the chaos. Eventually, the adventurer confronted Ibbalar Thrul's servants and destroyed the magical device that was summoning the creatures. While in the wizard's vaults, yet another spider piece was discovered.
The plan of the drow became clear. They had found the fabled Flame Sword of Lolth that the deity herself wielded during the War of the Seldarine. The sword's fierce magics could tear open the planes, opening portals and sowing destruction. The stone spider was the artifact that worked together with the sword, focusing its destructive powers, and at the time, the broken statue was also the key to releasing the sword from its prison. The elven gods hid the sword after the war. The shattered artifact and its pieces were hidden throughout Undermountain by Halaster Blackcloak himself.
The priestess of Lolth that had caused much trouble before, Matron Azurna, was led to discover the vault and search for the spider pieces by Lolth. The hero held all the statue shards and took them into the Flame Sword's vault. As the spider statue was assembled, the Spider Goddess gained access to the Prime Material plane via the sword's divine powers. Here, as an avatar, she assumed the form of a huge female drider. A fierce battle ensued, but the avatar was defeated. The hero destroyed the stone spider, banishing the avatar and making the Flame Sword disappear in an explosion of arcane magics. Waterdeep was safe once again, with the remains of Azurna's alliance destroyed or dispersed.
Gameplay[edit | edit source]
The game partially derives its title from the use of the Descent 3D graphical engine. Undermountain allowed the player to interact with NPCs, monsters, and the general environment from a first-person perspective. The quest took place within the environs of the infamous super-dungeon of the Undermountain. Real-time combat would mix with puzzles to provide a variety of challenges throughout the vast dungeon.
The game was not the first to bring PC role-playing into a 3D environment, having been preceded by several titles such as Bethesda Softworks' Elder Scrolls Arena and Elder Scrolls Daggerfall along with Origin's Ultima Underworld series. It was, however, noted for being the first RPG to use a dedicated 3D engine such as that behind Descent to create a 3D world based on the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons license.
As the back of the box stated, the game included six different races that could take on single or multi-class professions with a variety of unique abilities such as thieves being able to climb walls. Over fifty different 3D monsters were in the game along with 160 magical items and forty different spells.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Players and critics alike have noted the unfinished feel of the game upon release. Cooperative multiplayer support, previously promised as a part of the title, was cut late in development because of severe technical issues to focus on the single player campaign. The decision to use the Descent 1 engine was also cited as a design issue, as it required heavy rewrites to the code in order to support an RPG setting such as Undermountain. Bugs, embarrassingly weak AI, the unappealing and shoddy nature of the graphics, and several other issues have attributed to a general consensus of the game as an example of a title that was pushed to release before it was ready.
Index[edit | edit source]
Characters[edit | edit source]
- The Khelbenite
- Aleena Paladinstar • Aloxag • Ankh-Kephra • Asborn Moonstar • Azurna • Blog • Braakus Sinjen • Chasbar • Daland • Devlin Patchwerk • Durnan • Elene Ruldegost • Eskylla • Georges • Ghoulmaster • Grotchek • Halaster • Hektrage • Horazak • Ibbalar Thrul • Jaffu • Kalmog • Kastner • Khelben Arunsun • Kiyanda • Maskar Wands • Marcus Wands • Meryth Phaulkon • Milo • Mikreava • Mirt • Mishad Patchwerk • Morik Stormhand • Nalbas • Nephryt • Rukhosh • Sabrae Tellendon • Sangalor • Sirian Flametongue • Straum • Tam (dragon) • Thashasa • Tia • Tolem Grandelwood • Tryola Perrentine • Urkantor • Xabash • Zariel
- Referenced only
- Azetlin • Colvin Rowander • Daizez • Devana Melshimber • Hines • Kolrathanin • Laeral Silverhand • Lezhra • Nizella • Piergeiron the Paladinson • Rivven Melshimber • Sirian • Volothamp Geddarm
Creatures[edit | edit source]
- Playable Races
- drow • dwarf • elf • half-elf • halfling • human
- baneguard • beholder • dragon (red) • drider • gargoyle • ghast • ghoul • giant bat • giant beetle (giant scarab) • giant spider (huge) • goblin • guardian skeleton • kobold • lich • mephit (fire, ice, lightning) • mind flayer • mummy • ogre • orc (gray) • rat (giant) • shadow fiend • spectator • troll • water elemental • zombie
- Referenced only
- fell troll • flumph • hakeashar • scarab
Items[edit | edit source]
Locations[edit | edit source]
- Buildings & Sites
- Blackstaff Tower
- Inns & Taverns
- Yawning Portal Inn
- Garden of the Drow • Melairbode • Tomb of Ankh-Kephra • Undermountain
- Sword Coast North
- Referenced only
- Baldur's Gate • Chult • Mermaid's Arms • Mulhorand • Murghôm • Shelborrazar • Skullport • Thay • Tilverton
Spells[edit | edit source]
- 1st Level
- armor • burning hands • chill touch • color spray • detect magic • feather fall • jump • light • magic missile • protection from evil • shield • sleep • spider climb
- 2nd Level
- continual light • invisibility • knock • levitate • Melf's acid arrow • scare • strength
- 3rd Level
- dispel magic • fireball • flame arrow • fly • haste • hold person • hold undead • infravision • lightning bolt • Melf's minute meteors • slow
- 4th Level
- confusion • fear • improved invisibility • Rary's mnemonic enhancer • stoneskin
- 1st Level
- bless • cure light wounds • detect magic • light • magical stone • protection from evil
- 2nd Level
- aid • hold person • resist cold • resist fire
- 3rd Level
- continual light • dispel magic • flame walk • magical vestment • prayer • protection from fire •
- 4th Level
- abjure • cure serious wounds • free action
Organizations[edit | edit source]
- Cassalanter • Church of Myrkul • Clan Melairkyn • Clangeddin's Hearth • Moonstar (family) • Ruldegost • Melshimber • Phaulkon • Sardonyx Knights of Grumbar • Shadow Thieves
Religions[edit | edit source]
- Clangeddin Silverbeard • Eilistraee • Grumbar • Hathor • Horus-Re • Kelemvor • Lolth • Mask • Myrkul • Ptah • Set • Thoth • Tymora • Velsharoon
Events[edit | edit source]
Other[edit | edit source]
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Appendix[edit | edit source]
Further Reading[edit | edit source]
- M.D. McConnohie (December 1995). “Design Notes: Descent to Undermountain”. In Pierce Watters ed. Dragon #224 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 23–25.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- After retrieval of the second stone spider piece, the Blackstaff states that Time of Troubles happened 10 years prior to the events of the game. Additionally, two documents in the game state that Halaster's Higharvestide happened the year prior to the game's events. Assuming Khelben was approximating the 10 years that passed since the Time of Troubles, Halaster's Higharvestide puts the events of the game in 1370 DR.
Credits[edit | edit source]
- Vp Of Development: Trish Wright
- Division Director: Feargus Urquhart
- Producers: Reginald J. Arnedo
- Line Producers: Michael Motoda, Christopher M. Benson, Jason G. Suinn
- Art Director: Robert Nesler
- Lead Artist: Kevin Beardslee
- 2D Artists: Tramell Ray Isaac, Aaron Brown, Stephen Beam, John Mueller, Justin Sweet, Vance Kovacs, Spencer Kipe
- 3D Animators: Tramell Ray Isaac, Kevin Beardslee, Aaron Brown, Eddie Rainwater, Eduardo Trillo, E. B. Sarver
- Lead Programmer: Andrew Pal
- Programmers: Jim Gardner, Robert Holloway, Chris Faranetta
- Lead Technical Designer: Robert Hanz
- Lead Creative Designer: Chris Avellone
- Designers: Scott Bennie, Steve Perrin, John Deiley, Robert Holloway
- Level Design: John Deiley, Chris Avellone, Robert Hanz, Steve Perrin, Scott Bennie, Aaron Brown, Kenneth Lee, Reginald J. Arnedo, Mineh Ishida, Larry Lesser, Michael Motoda
- Design Contributions: Aaron Brown, Matthew J. Norton, Jason G. Suinn, Jim Gardner
- Assistant Designer: Michael Motoda
- Audio Director: Charles Deenen
- Vo and SFX Mastering: Craig Duman
- Voice Recording Supervisor: Chris Borders
- Dialogue Editor: Sergio A. Bustamante II, Douglas Rappaport
- Vo Director: Michael McConnohie
- Vo Talent: Jim Cummings, Frank Welker, Jennifer Hale, Kath E. Soucie
- Vo Recording Engineer: Paul Hurtubise
- Music: Richard Band
- Ambient Music: Rick Jackson, Ronald Valdez
- Music Mastering (at Futuredisk): Tom Baker
- Music Supervision: Brian Luzietti
- TSR Logo Sound: Charles Deenen
- Game Sound Design: Ann Scibelli, David Farmer, Larry Peacock, Gregory R. Allen, Charles Deenen, Elisabeth Flaum, Ricardo Broadus, Jeffrey R. Whitcher
- Sfx Assistance/Librarian: Craig Duman
- Cinematics Sound Design: Larry Peacock, Charles Deenen, Gregory R. Allen
- Re-Recording Mixer: Charles Deenen
- Audio Administrative Assistant: Brandy Young, Gloria Soto
- Traffic Managers: Bill Hamelin, Thom Dohner
- Graphic Designers: Larry Fukuoka, Tracie D. Martin
- Manual Design And Layout: Craig Owens
- Descent Engine: Parallax
- Installer: Parallax
- Video Processing: Stephen Miller, Bill Stoudt, Dan L. Williams
- Communications Manager: Genevieve Waldman, Courtney Thompson
- Marketing Manager: Craig Owens, Mike Markin
- Director of Quality Assurance: Chad Allison
- QA Manager: Colin Totman
- Lead Testers: Jeremy Ray, Douglas W. Avery, Darrell Jones
- Testers: Lawrence Smith, Louie Iturzaeta, Tim Vince, Dan Forsyth, Dennis Whitlow, Austin Coulson, Kaycee Vardeman, Erick Lujan, Greg Baumeister, Tony Martin, Charles Crail, Evan Chantland, James Dunn, Bill Field, Timothy Anderson
- QA IS Manager: Frank Pimentel
- QA IS Technicians: Bill Delk, Christian D. Peak
- Director of Compatibility: Phuong Nguyen
- Compatibility Technicians: Dan Forsyth, Derek Gibbs, Aaron Olaiz, Marc Duran, Jonathan Darke
- Customer Service Manager: Hilleri Abel
- Customer Service: Kori Rosencranz, Erin Smith, Cheryl Raymond, Becky Bryan, Yasmin Vazquez
- Technical Support: Hilleri Abel, Matthew Byrne, Mark Linn, Rafael López, Richard Sanford, Paul Dew, Alton Tuttle, Rusty Treadway, Brian Quilter, Brennan Easlick, Tom Gardner, Gunnar Christensen, Jennifer Purcaro
- TSR Development: www.tsr.com, Jim Butler, Julia Martin, Steven Schend, David Wise, Mendy Lowe
- Special Voice Work: Max the Dog
- Cover artwork: Clyde Caldwell
[edit | edit source]
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the following links do not necessarily represent the views of the editors of this wiki, nor does any lore presented necessarily adhere to established canon.
- Gamespot Review
- Structural Key Design Elements
- Archived Usenet post; a quoted message from Reginald Arnedo from Interplay concerning why multiplayer was dropped is part of the thread
- Archived Usenet post; Statement from DTU team concerning future of the game (1998)
- First part of an interview with Feargus Urquhart (1998)
References[edit | edit source]
Connections[edit | edit source]
Other settingsAl-Qadim: The Genie's Curse • Planescape: Torment • Ravenloft: Stone Prophet • Ravenloft: Strahd's Possession • Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace