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."
In Eleint of 1370 DR, a hero was summoned by Khelben Arunsun at the behest of the Lords of Waterdeep to investigate the recent increase in kobold activity and thefts across Waterdeep. The Blackstaff handed the future hero two gold coins to pay for the passage to Undermountain through the Yawning Portal and sent him on his way.
The hero uncovered the reason behind the kobolds' attacks: a drow High Priestess of Lolth, Azurna, was using the kobolds as part of her alliance to recover the ancient artifact that belonged to Lolth and bring ruin to Waterdeep. Continuing his investigation, the hero visited various locations within Undermountain and confronted Azurna's allies while collecting the pieces of a mysterious stone spider.
The Khelbenite confronted a Lolth-worshiping undead necromancer known as the Ghoulmaster in the Cassalanter family tomb on the Dungeon Level of Undermountain. He disbanded the operations of the sinister Shadow Thieves after their well-hidden return to Waterdeep under the leadership of the mysterious Xabash. He retrieved a lost heirloom that belonged to Maskar Wands from the Tomb of Ankh-Kephra, a Mulhorandi wizard. Later, he stormed an ancient dwarvish' prison taken over by the fiendish orc Horazak and his marauders. After that, he retrieved the Black Wand of Myrkul, aiding the Blackstaff's personal vendetta against the dead deity, and avenged the dwarves of the Clangeddin's Hearth, who had been slaughtered by Azurna's drow forces. The hero defeated the undead servants of Morik Stormhand, an old lich allied with the drow, as well as his fellow worshipers of Velsharoon.
Eventually, the search for the spider pieces led to a confrontation with one of Halaster Blackcloak's apprentices, Ibbalar Thrul, who unleashed an army of spectators on the City of Splendors. Stopping the assault, the Khelbenite gained for himself the gratitude of both the city of Waterdeep as well as several noble families, such as Cassalanter, Wands, Phaulkon, Moonstar, and Ruldegost.
Eventually, Lolth revealed the Khelbenite's search for the spider statue pieces to her priestess, Matron Azurna, and also gave her the location of the vault containing the Flame Sword of Lolth. The hero, who had gathered all the pieces of the statue, brought them to the Flame Sword's vault and re-assembled the statue. This gave the Spider Goddess access to the Prime Material plane via the Sword's divine powers. Taking the form of a huge female drider as her avatar, Lolth fought the Khelbenite. A fierce battle ensued, but the avatar was ultimately defeated. The hero destroyed the stone spider, banishing the avatar and making the Flame Sword disappear in an explosion of arcane magic. Waterdeep was safe once again, with the remains of Azurna's alliance destroyed or dispersed.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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
- amulet of protection • amulet of shield
- 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
- 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
- Cassalanter • Church of Myrkul • Clan Melairkyn • Clangeddin's Hearth • Moonstar (family) • Ruldegost • Melshimber • Phaulkon • Sardonyx Knights of Grumbar • Shadow Thieves
- Clangeddin Silverbeard • Eilistraee • Grumbar • Hathor • Horus-Re • Kelemvor • Lolth • Mask • Myrkul • Ptah • Set • Thoth • Tymora • Velsharoon
- 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
- M.D. McConnohie (December 1995). “Design Notes: Descent to Undermountain”. In Pierce Watters ed. Dragon #224 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 23–25.
- 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.
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)
Other settingsAl-Qadim: The Genie's Curse • Planescape: Torment • Ravenloft: Stone Prophet • Ravenloft: Strahd's Possession • Spelljammer: Pirates of Realmspace