Underland Exploration is driven by a 200+ card deck that describes the features, findings, and fiends you will encounter in the caverns, rooms, and dark spaces of the Underlands. The Overland Exploration Deck, which requires each hero in play to draw a card for each region traveled. But Underland Exploration is different, requiring each hero to draw a card for every cavern, room, and space explored.
In other words, you’re going to be drawing a lot of cards. The Underlands are heavy, oppressive, dangerous, chaotic, and cruel. And this is on purpose because of our diabolical deck of cards.
If you look closely at the underland flats, you’ll notice blue squares. These are thresholds that tell you when you need to roll the aptly named Door Die. When you roll the Door Die, a number of things can happen, including:
- Finding an opening
- Seeing an open door
- Encountering a closed/unlocked door
- Encountering a closed/locked door
This die will also decide whether you run into enemies in new spaces, too. But we’ll get back to that in a little bit.
Join the Adventure
Five Modes Of Gameplay
Underland Exploration is one of five main modes of gameplay:
- Overland Exploration
- Overland Rest
- Underland Exploration
- Underland Rest
- Ocean Exploration
The Mathematics Behind Underland Exploration
Much like the Overland Exploration Deck, a bunch of different things can happen when you draw a card from the Underland Exploration deck.
- Safe travel
- Running into a trap
- An enemy encounter
- Finding an item
- Finding a biome-specific item
- Playing out flavor text
But don’t think you’re going to have it as easy as you would in the Overland! Your party has a much lower chance of safe traveling, and that’s without even considering the presence of traps.
Shawn, the writer and I, spent a lot of time trying to craft a feeling of weighty ancient danger in the Underlands that comes through much of the flavor text on these cards. On top of that, you’re going to be running into a lot more enemy encounters in the Underland all while stuck in a small, mazelike space.
The Underland Exploration Deck is also closely tied to the Underland Rest Deck, simply because you’re going to need the rest. Travel is dangerous in Vrahode, and rest is how you heal your damage and fatigue.
The Echoing Hallways Deck
Another key concept you need to understand when navigating the treacherous Underlands is the Echoing Hallways Deck.
Hallways, while they can provide a small respite from the punishing math of the Underlands Exploration Deck, are not exactly safe. Diabolical minds like to plant traps in hallways due to the fact that they are natural chokepoints for overzealous adventurers!
Underlands vs. Overlands
The difference between Overland and Underland Exploration is night and day. Personally, I love the Underlands! I’m a huge fan of the risk/reward dynamic.
But the Underlands are not for the faint of heart. It’s possible to make it through the winding, echoing halls and labyrinthine caverns, but you have to rise to the challenge if you want to emerge a hero.
All totalled, there are 28 encounter maps in the initial four-game series, with 17 of them dedicated to Underland adventures. That alone should tell you something.
As with the Overland Exploration Deck, in the Underland, heroes reveal their cards in any order the group agrees upon. However, in the Underlands, you may not put any items into inventory until all threats have been removed from the current area first. So if you reveal a card that is not an enemy, you have to put it facedown until the battle is over. It’s only after the battles are over that you can put hard-won items – and the loot of fallen enemies – into your inventories.
All in all, the Underlands are a place of intrigue, danger, treasure, and bloodshed. They are also a place where heroes can be forged. But if you wish to survive, you must rest often and never let your guard down in the Echoing Hallways!