There are many parts of it that make no sense to me as a DM , and so I change them. With a little love and fine tuning for your table , it’s quite a fine adventure. I have ran most 5e titles, and I would say the premise and final confrontation / dungeon are highlights of the adventure. Happy campaigning everyone !! 💕 Edit: currently running the game for an experienced 5e group. We are near to entering betrayers rise and have been playing since April. The players are having a fun time , and their characters are super fun to integrate into the story , and the rivals’ story.


The campaign setting in Exandria is fantastic and I’ve had a blast introducing my characters to this world. But it’s taking more than just a little love to anticipate and work around some of the ham fisted plot hooks and outright plot holes. Bazzoxan is a good example, the 3 majors factions have all recently arrived and it’s a key plot hook to introduce them ahead of going to Ank’Harel but… why are any of them there? Keep in mind the 2nd paragraph of the module says “all knowledge of this godlike hero has been lost to time” and later it says Alyxian yearns to be remembered and is afraid the world has forgotten his sacrifice entirely. Question is there with exact sketches of the jewel, the emerald grotto, etc. from research notes in Anh’Harel and her party went into the Betrayer’s Rise for… reasons? Prolix is there to spy on Aloysia (somewhat believable… but he’s not exactly a spy), and Aloysia is there because she believes a pendant worn by a hero that died here and was reborn is the key to entering the Netherdeep. Where that info came from and why she would offer to pay characters wearing the pendant to take her into the Betrayer’s Rise rather than just taking the pendant is just one of life’s great mysteries. Oh and theres a random healer in Bazzoxan that has also heard of the Apotheon and can give you some interesting lore if you specifically say “jewel of 3 prayers” in front of her. I agree with what you’re saying and the Alexandrian review, and I would recommend the module based on the setting alone. With better story telling this can be a great adventure, it just takes a lot of work from the DM in my opinion. On a side note, at the Betrayers Rise gate I swapped 1 of the Gloomstalkers for an Armanite and it went GREAT 😊


For me, I've found that it has the bones of a good adventure, but you have to be willing to add things, potentially break and reshape things. For my group, I've added recurring NPCs related to my PCs backstories. I've axed Maggie, and killed Dermot (more on that in a second), replacing Maggie with a Dragonborne BloodHunter, who's statblock I found on here, but I gave him a whole different backstory that I wrote myself. Killing Dermot, to me, was a way to up the stakes for the Rival party. I think if I had 5 players instead of 4 I would have still added the Dragonborne and still killed Dermot, I would have just left Maggie in the adventure. My plan with that is that Ayo is to have this new motivation to "bring him back" which will lead to the Rival party working for Aloysia who will tell Ayo that someone in the Vermillion Dream can do it. At the same time, I have two of my PCs (they are brothers in game) sister stationed in Bazzozan who is going to tell them to not trust Aloysia. This will hopefully create the first splinter between the two groups. My whole plan is to make the campaign feel "Cinematic" my players are pretty aware that's its a railroad, and that it's pretty short by DnD standards. But they are having a blast with the story as I've adapted it around their PCs. It's been a ton of work, but also super rewarding. Content from here that I've used. Kraxus the Dragonborne from the extra rivals post a while back. The Ruins of Sorrow, which I took the idea and changed it around to fit my homebrew story of how I'm working the PCs into this whole thing. Gonna look at some of th content around Bazzazon next so that they can spend more time in the city before entering betrayers rise, and possibly add a few more rooms into betrayers rise to support my homebrew part of the story (like what I did with the Ruins of Sorrow) In Ank Harel I plan on running "The Grand Tournament" and going into the backstory elements of one of my other players, who is playing a character from the Feywild. I'll do this in between the faction missions.


Our group is halfway through Betrayer's Rise, and so far the campaign is fantastic. The motivation for transferring between some of the sections is a little weak, but that's fine if your players are willing to buy into the general narrative and play along. The Bazzoxan area is short, but this is fixed by adding Ruins of Sorrow and shifting the level up before that. So far, though, the road to Bazzoxan was fantastic, Betrayer's Rise has been a blast (and a great length). Really looking forward to everything in Ank'Harel and beyond! I really think this requires pretty minimal changes to be a fantastic (i.e. super fun and dramatically impactful) adventure!


Where did you find resources for Ruins of Sorrow?


Encounter: https://www.reddit.com/r/CalloftheNetherdeep/comments/unr6tt/road_to_bazzoxan_climactic_conclusion_the_ruins/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share Vision Suggestion https://www.reddit.com/r/CalloftheNetherdeep/comments/uozh5s/ruins_of_sorrow_vision_perigees_death/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share I ran this with a few small changes to the monsters, and I skipped the final round ("The Lonely") because we had run up on the end of our session time. Instead, I had a wave of light flash over the battlefield wiping out the few remaining demons right after the vision, mirroring what they saw in the vision.


Thank you kindly!


I absolutely agree with many of the issues TheAlexandrian points out, from the poor motivation early on, not providing info/backup plans if their desired route (one of many) isn't taken, to issues with the Rival party being friendly and suddenly you have a huge number of NPCs tagging along, to the dungeons being too linear, and underselling the vast scale they're described as. Currently my party is 12 sessions in, has been playing since April, and is on one last sidequest before entering Betrayer's Rise. I've put a ton of work into slowing down and adding depth to the areas covered by Chapters 1-3, partially because I really like the area, but also because as others here have found, It's very possible to get through the first three chapters (and levels 3-8) in five or six sessions if you run the module as written. It's so fast. I made the decision early to try to cut the Rivals out of the journey to Bazzoxan, because I had found out how much work it was to run them all, as well as it gave my party a chance to bond without GMNPCs always being around which has been such a boon. I have since reintroduced them after some time in Bazzoxan, but it's occasionally hard to pull the focus away from "the Rivals Show" especially if the party views them positively, and them being around breaks all the combat balance. The way the module is written and the plot hooks it gives you makes the players (at least mine did) really want to run straight into Betrayer's Rise, skipping an 'entire' city (though the book doesn't flesh the area out quite enough in my opinion). I ended up having Verin block the players from entering until they proved themselves (aka did a handful of [sidequests](https://www.reddit.com/r/CalloftheNetherdeep/comments/v5w21j/bazzoxan_additional_factionthemed_sidequests/) I added) to give them a chance to explore the city and actually get to meet the faction representatives that are supposed to help drive the rest of the adventure. This pause has also allowed me to weave in parts of my characters backstories, and expand on "Level 5". As written, it's possible for the entirety of level 5 to be a single combat and less than a day of in-game time (Arriving at Bazzoxan > Getting rid of the Gloomstalkers at the entrance to BR). After prepping BR and working on [maps for the dungeon](https://www.reddit.com/r/CalloftheNetherdeep/comments/ugfk2o/updated_betrayers_rise_map/) (and looking ahead to Cael Morrow), I'm in total agreement by how small and linear both are. I have personally added quite a few rooms to my version of BR, and moved around some locations, as there is a definite "short route" where players can reach the Prayer Site after having gone through only five rooms (not counting stairs). And I plan to take a look at reworking CM, when I get to prepping that area. I think there's a bunch of good stuff in this module, some great lore and locations, and I'm loving my time DMing it (especially as a CR fan), but I think it'd be wrong not to acknowledge that it does have very weak connective tissue, especially in the beginning.


General note: Alexandrian is great game designer, but his reviews should be taken with a grain of salt. His speciality is sandboxes, so naturally he will not like railroad adventures.


Eh, as someone who loves this module and is a good ways into it, and as someone who prefers running linear adventures, I think every single one of his criticisms is absolutely spot on. I'd say the only thing I "disagree" on is that I think a lot of them are really easily solved with minor rewrites, and even that's basically what he says at the end. I know this is the sub for the module and many of us love it, but we shouldn't deflect constructive and well reasoned criticism. Especially because that criticism is what lets us change the module to suit our needs and anticipate possible problems.


That's true he has a bias (and I think he's transparent about it too [https://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/46297/roleplaying-games/how-a-railroad-works](https://thealexandrian.net/wordpress/46297/roleplaying-games/how-a-railroad-works) ) I am often wary about biases, but here, I'm not holding it against him. The reason is that he deconstructs his opinions in specific detail in this review. So I'm able to directly engage with the detailed rationale he expressed, rather than try to evaluate his subjective feelings. By doing that, the conversation can laser focus on my players, the way the narrative/plot connects, and what makes sense to my players in the game world.


I've shoe-horned my PC's into this adventure path, starting at level 6 in an existing campaign on the Menagerie Coast. Jigow=Bisaft Isle, Baxxozan=Fort Sepesca. I'm kinda used to adding a ton of flourishes to make it make sense, and chapter 3 is no different. I took the Alexandrian advice from his Let's Read twitter series to heart and made as many changes as I could, early as I could, for eventual payoff down the road. My PC's are currently in Ch. 3, "Baxxozan," and pretty much on target at this point. The Rivals were **given** the amulet because my PC's were already busy with other plots I had stacked on top of them; now, due to dreams from the Warlock's patron, they believe Alyxian needs to be imprisoned, and are racing to catch up to the Rivals, who want to free Alyxian and secure their spot in history. (The 2 parties are in contact via Sending). This has helped push the narrative forward, and motivate the players to make harder choices to catch up to the rivals. \--The PC's already know about ruidium, they knew it soon after Ch1, and it hasn't robbed them of anything. They know it's bad but powerful, when they harvested some from a ruidium-corrupted Old Thousand Teeth from Ghosts of Saltmarsh; and got rid of it when it started growing in their bag of holding. \--The three factions of scholars of Ch.3 have different philosophies on ruidium: destroy it, use it carefully, or use all of it all the time. PC's want to destroy it. \--The three factions also have three ways into Betrayers Rise: Servant's Entrance (1hr away), the Prime Door (a secret path, but lots of Prime Deity art); and the Umbral Gate (Straight in, but guarded). Each has pros and cons, and since the PC's are trying to catch up to the Rivals, they're pushing hard and trying to figure out which way to go. \--Last, I'm cranking up the visions as the PC's spend time in Baxxozan, picking a few of the 20 from the last chapters and feathering them in here. I like it, because the PC's have all this history and art and archaeology that they're stacking up, and it points to this Apotheon as a historical figure--but the visions paint vivid and real vignettes that humanize Alyxian. That 'humanization' needs to happen earlier than the last chapter. Like any good PC's, things have gone immediately sideways. They love the Cobalt Soul and hate Aloysia, but the sorcerer is currently on a date with Aloysia while the rogue steals Aloysia's notes. Probably tomorrow, they'll take the Prime Door because there are two budding PC archaeologists, and then push hard to beat the Rivals to Avandra's Cyst. \--- Alexandrian wouldn't have put in this much effort if he didn't like Netherdeep. It's not a hit piece, it's constructive criticism I could actually use, and did. I'm going to kick some bucks their way, for helping make this adventure a bit easier for me to conceptualize.


The story is super raul roady… but in each of the sections there’s plenty of opportunities for the players to decide the outcome. Factions, allies… order of actions. Not a lot but… My players are having a blast, and so far I’m having the most fun out of all the official adventures I’ve run (about 5) It’s super linear yes, but I do t know why that’s a problem. One of my players actually hates side quests in general and wants to progress in the main story Also… by giving the illusion of freedom here and there you can blur it a bit But the most important thing, It’s also an adventure designed for character development first and foremost. How each character (both players and rivals) evolve through the story. I try to ask my players as often as possible how their character feels/thing about what happened that day… or what are they thinking when they go to sleep, how’s the story affecting them. Etc.. What does it mean to be a hero? How they hold up to pressure (both physical or psychological). Are they going to reach their goal no matter what or who they hurt? Who are they going to align with? How’s the relationship with each of the rivals and how does it progress though the story? I like to see it as a sandbox environment within a linear story


The rival party is the most complicated portion of the game. You need to figure out the balance of playing 5 distinct, recurring characters, track their relationships with the party members individually but always be on the lookout for the opportunity to weave in other exandrian lore. Very hard module to dm, but if done well it can be amazing


Yeah I agree with a lot of this. Though I didn’t have much issue making it work. I found the grotto thing to be a bit of a non-issue, because I just had the Rivals recognize that the players had won when they got the amulet. Also, my players briefly though about trying to get the amulet without a fight, but I don’t pull punches and after the first bite they were like “I don’t think we should risk wasting actions”. The visions have done a good job of making my players go along with the quest. The bazzoxan link is the weirdest in my opinion and needs to be improved. I’d probably improve it by just having the elder tell them something like “Verrin Thelyss has been looking to improve quality of life in Baxxozan by inviting druids and researchers there. He reached out to me recently, and there are a number of researchers from Ank’Harel in the city. If anyone would know more about ancient items such as these it would be them.” As for the faction quests, I think them being approached is fine. They’re almost certainly going to get there via prolix, if they do then he can introduce them to both allsight and cobalt soul, and the vermillion dream can approach them in private and ask to hire them, promising revenge on Aloysia or presenting her head. Haven’t gone super deep into the quest lines yet so will provide more info on those later


I appreciate his analysis on the book, but I'd love to hear more on his suggestions to fix what he deems to be broken. It certainly sounds like he actually loves the book overall. Obviously there's a lot that depends on your PCs, players, etc., but I'd be interested to see how he fixes some of the issues around the rival dispositions, expanding the dungeons, fixing the faction missions, etc.


As a brand new DM that’s currently running Frozen Sick that’ll lead to Call Of the Netherdeep, this kinda breaks my heart a little bit 🥲


Don't let it get you down! It's a great adventure. It only needs a little modification, and this subreddit has all the tools you need to do that.


it's been my best campaign so far, I wouldn't listen to this guy too much


I agree with basically all of Alexandrian's criticisms, but the important note is that basically all of the problems can be fixed with minor rewriting. The adventure as written is very flawed, but it can be made fantastic with relatively small amounts of work, which is a lot better than a lot of published adventures tbh.


That’s true! Like, every module from Wizards which I’ve read was not suitable for running “as is”, and when I read it I noted things I have to change. But when I read Netherdeep, I thought “wow, I would have to change very little if I’m going to run this. This module is so good”. So yes - changes are needed. And way less changes than for other modules.


My players did had a problem after the festival. I think it may work if you look at it differently then other adventures. It's more a lord of the rings hero story. Most player our used to an employer who is paying them to be heroes but this module works differently with the quest coming from a relic. I've started to work with it and since thankfully my players are critical role fans they love all the lore drop. The module I think is perfect if you are a fan of the world and want to work with the lore. However, if you're not a CR fan and or your players aren't they may not be to into it. It's also one of the lowest pay/loot adventures with the exception of the relic.