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Ruins of Undermountain II: The Deep Levels (2e)

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"Looking for adventure are ye? Looking for a place brimming with silver and gold, a place dripping with things magical?

"I know a place far and not far from here where all of that-and more-can be had. But mind me lads and lassies, there are other things there as well-danger and risk and uncertainty, and creatures never before seen by the likes of sell-swords and wizards who tread upon the sun-lit lands of the Realms.

"This place is called Undermountain. And it is far beneath the crust of this world, yet right under fair Waterdeep. It is a dangerous labyrinth nestled deep in the bowels of the earth. It is a dungeon, I, Elminster of Shadowdale, know well. I shall tell you of these twisting corridors, and of the man who made them his. Listen ye carefully-especially if ye are intent o delving into its depths. Perhaps what I tell you could save you life? Perhaps."

This sequel to The Ruins of Undermountain contains the 128-page Campaign Guide to Undermountain: The Deep Levels, a 32-page adventure booklet, a 16-page Monstrous Compendium booklet, four full-color maps of the levels described in this set, and a set of eight DM Assistance Cards to aid in trapping the corridors and rooms of this, the greatest and most dangerous dungeon in all the Realms.

The original campaign expansion set wasn't enough? Well then, pack you gear and delve into Ruins of Undermountain II: The Deep Levels. The deep-dwellers await!

Note on the Print edition: While the original Box Set included separate books, this on demand edition combines the Campaign Guide, adventure booklet, Monstrous Compendium booklet, and maps into a single softcover edition.

Product History

The Ruins of Undermountain II: The Deep Levels (1994), by Jean Rabe, Norm Ritchie, and Donald Bingle, is the second boxed set revealing the megadungeon of Undermountain. It was published in February 1994.

Origins: Return to Undermountain. Ed Greenwood's home-brewed Undermountain is composed of nine levels and fourteen sub-levels, but the original Ruins of Undermountain (1991) box only contained the first three of those levels, leaving plenty of room for expansion.

However, The Ruins of Undermountain II (1994) isn't precisely the sequel that readers might have expected. For one, it's no longer the creation of Ed Greenwood, but instead Jean Rabe, Norm Ritchie, and Donald Bingle. Editor Steven Schend says that Greenwood was still involved; for example they talked about the Malarites that are found in Wyllowwood. However, Greenwood didn't actually write any of this new material. That's probably why Ruins II diverges notably from the content of the original Ruins. Instead of continuing down with the next few major levels of the megadungeon, it instead diverges to … other places.

Adventure Tropes. There are also major changes in how the material in Ruins II is presented. The original Ruins presented huge expanses of dungeon, but only partially filled them in, leaving considerable room for GM creativity. It also tried to give some context to the delving with adventures.

In contrast, Ruins II is a very typical old-school dungeon crawl. That means lots of monsters and puzzling encounters, with some of the levels tending toward deathtrap dungeons. Some of the maps still contain blank rooms, but overall these smaller dungeon levels tend to be more detailed than what was found in the original Ruins, making them much more immediately playable.

With just three years elapsed between the two sets, you can't really note the differences as changes in gaming style. Instead, it's more likely the result of changes in the development process, with this being new material, as opposed to material more directly based on Ed Greenwood's original campaign.

Exploring the Realms. This boxed set continues to expand the Undermountain dungeons below Waterdeep. It covers Wyllowwood (which is said to be level four, but it's not actually the promised "Farm Level"), Trobriand's Graveyard, Muiral's Gauntlet, and a large set of interconnected caverns detailed in the "Adventures" book.

The curious thing about these levels is that they neither form a coherent dungeon nor connect up with the previous levels. Instead, players probably enter them via gates. The only thing really revealing them as Undermountain levels is the usage of certain NPCs.

Expedition to Undermountain (2007) would later clarify that these dungeons are all "sublevels": Wyllowwood, Muiral's Gauntlet, and the Troglodyte Warren (from the Adventures book) are said to fall between the Farm Level (4) and the Maze Level (5), while Trobriand's Graveyard is said to fall between the Maze Level (5) and the Seadeeps (6).

NPCs of Note. Halaster Blackcloak continues to the be the star of Undermountain, as his backstory underlies everything. Ruins II also reveals much more about his original Seven apprentices: Murial and Trobriand each get their own level, after co-starring as general-use NPCs in the original Undermountain box. One of the other levels in Ruins II is the work of the druidess, Wyllow, who was the wife of a later apprentice, Yinark. Yet another later apprentice, Ezzat, appears as a lich. In all, that's now seven apprentices depicted in the two Undermountain boxes — though Ezzat and Yinark don't appear to be members of "the" Seven.

Future History. This was the last boxed Undermountain set. A few years later, Steven Schend would author a trilogy of additional sub-level adventures: "The Lost Level" (1996), "Maddgoth's Castle" (1996), and "Stardock" (1996). However, these would each be short Dungeon Crawls instead of larger supplements.

More recently fans have been working on producing "Ruins of Undermountain III: The Deadly Levels", but the project has not yet reached completion (despite years of work).

About the Creators. In the early '90s editor Steven Schendwas the true master of Undermountain. He assisted Ed Greenwood with Ruins of Undermountain and some of the early Dragon articles and would later go on to write the Undermountain adventure trilogy (1996). He would thus be involved with every Undermountain project until the release of "Skullport" (1999), by Joseph C. Wolf, after which other hands would chronicle the story of the megadungeon.

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. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to shannon.appelcline@gmail.com.

 
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Reviews
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March 13th, 2006
The Ruins of Undermountain II more of the good material of the first, although there seems to be a bit less of it (so you'd probably do best getting the first one, and then this if you want more). The bookmarks are good, as is the scan quality. [...]
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May 6th, 2005
I have always loved the Undermountain series and this add-on is extremely helpful.<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Very easy to read and start running first day.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Excellent<br><br>& [...]
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September 30th, 2003
Deeper into Halaster's Domain... Good scan. Great expansion! [...]
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Product Information
Pages
160
Edition
1.0
Publisher Stock #
TSR 1104
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on December 13, 2016.