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Notes for an adaptation of Night Below to Mystara

by Giampaolo Agosta

Night Below is an AD&D 2e adventure by Carl Sargent (of B11/B12 and Shadow Elves GAZ fame).
While the module is designed for a generic AD&D world, Sargent included adaptation notes not only for the usual FR and GH, but also for Mystara (Stefan Karameikos, Etienne d'Ambreville, and several Immortals are mentioned).

The adventure itself looks quite nice -- it is heavily dungeon-oriented, but not hack & slash. So, it could be a good addition to the Mystaran Shadowdeep.
There are some issues to overcome, though: the adventure features a number of typically non-Mystaran monsters.

I'm looking to ways to further adapt Night Below to Mystara.
From here on, expect heavy spoilers.

Monstrous Races
First of all, let's have a look at the monstrous races involved.

There is only a small Aaracockra settlement involved in the adventure.
I think a Faenare nest would be a good replacement.

Goblins, Orcs
Goblinoids in Night Below are similar to the Mystaran ones; Sargent does a good job of detailing several tribes in a way that is quite similar to the GAZ10 take on goblinoids; the only exception is in the patron deities, as in this case the Monster Mythology gods are used (unsurprisingly, since Sargent authored that book). Gruumsh and Luthic are mentioned for the Orcs, and Maglubiyet for the Goblins. I'd replace Gruumsh with Orcus (or Karaash for not-so-evil tribes), Luthic with Hel, and Maglubiyet with Wogar.

Deep gnomes are actually quite similar to OD&D Rock Gnomes. Their power, Calladuran Smoothhands, can be simply replaced with Garal Glitterlode. One may want to slightly modify the Rock Gnome race/class to fit the Svirfneblin special powers if running the module in OD&D.

The Aboleths are the main villains of the module. Their role is focused on their domination power. A new power (the Blood Queen) is introduced for the Aboleth, which could be reused as a monster ruler or Titan.
The Kopru are a possible replacement (using Klarkaszh the Corrupter as the Blood Queen), but an even better solution is to set the Aboleths as Lesser Burrowers.
In this case, the plot is driven by Thanatos (which also happens to be the power suggested for the evil cult in the adventure...)

The adventure features a freshwater variant of these monsters. A similar variant of the Devilfish can be devised. A new power is introduced (Monster Mythology has Demogorgon as the Ixitxachitl god) which can be easily replaced by Saasskas the Destroyer.

Rockseer Elves
The Rockseer are subterranean elves, but not Drow, and have a background of having been abandoned by their patron gods. They could be former followers of Ferros (a Blackmoor Elven Immortals not corresponding to any modern Immortal), maybe related to the Belcadiz Elves, who were left behind during the Belcadiz underground migration.
Also, the Gentle Folk could be related to these as well (this was suggested in the Races of the Shadowdeep thread, BTW).
If the adventure is set in the Northern Reach, a connection with the Dark Elves should be taken into account.

In Night Below, the Derro are basically madmen -- led by powerful wokani (but still quite crazy). The Dark Hin (or the surviving Shunned Hin) could be used instead of a Dwarf variant in a Darokin-based version.
Modrigswerg could also be used (especially in a Soderfjord or Vestland-based version), but they aren't as numerous as the Derro in the module. The best option would be in this case to use the Moulder Dwarves as Derro Savants, and replace the common Derro with Kobolds or other goblinoids serving the Modrigswerg.

I'd replace these with the Hresha-rhak (Servitor of Ubbeth). The Kuo-Toa deity, Blibdoolpoolp has the "elder goddess" theme (though, admittedly, it is ruined by the somewhat silly name).
A more traditional alternative could be Lizardmen.

Brain collectors are the classical Mystaran alternative to Illithids, but they work better as lone extradimensional explorers, and here there is a whole group of Illithids divided in two factions.
If the Aboleths are Lesser Burrowers, then the Kopru could cover the role of the Illithids. An alternative is to use the Mind Thralls of Akh'All, but since the Illithids in the adventure are divided in pro-Aboleth and anti-Aboleth factions, I think the Kopru could be better suited.
Another alternative could be to replace the Illithids with a group of Nagpa.

Tanar'ri: Tanar'ri are your basic Fiends, except that typical AD&D Tanar'ri are suitable challenge for 10th level PCs, while OD&D Fiends are Immortals. However, they can be kept as mortal Fiends (alternately, a Lamara could replace the Marilith, and charmed humans, elves, or Aranea could take the place of the lesser fiends). Their main theme in the adventure is that a group of fiends is sent on a suicidal mission against the Baatezu ambassador, so the only constraints are that (a) they must be evil, but willing to cooperate, (b) they must have the ability to take human form and (c) they must have a big grudge against whatever takes the place of the Baatezu.

Baatezu make a small appearance in the form of an embassy to the Aboleths. They could be replaced by almost any underground race, most likely an evil one. Deep Glaurants come to mind as the easiest choice (also helps plugging in other Shadowdeep elements), though Unseelie Sidhe or Hivebrood could also work.

Lesser Underdark Races
Several more monsters appear in limited numbers -- mostly creatures that nest in the vast depths that divide the Svirfneblin home from the Derro and Kuo-Toa area (which are very deep, some 100-140 miles below the Svirfneblin). These are "lesser" only in the sense that their presence is not linked to the main plot -- some of these simply happen to be on the PCs' route, or are in the Underdark for some purpose of their own.
Trolls, Troglodytes, Hook Horrors, a Deepspawn and a Rakshasa, Fire and Stone Giants, and Dao can remain as they are -- all either appear in Mystara, or are not especially non-Mystaran. There are a few Drow, but their presence is not based on any of the typical Drow characteristics, so Schattenalf or Shadow Elves can be easily used.
There is a Shadow Dragon, which could be replaced by a Night Dragon, and a small group of Duergar, which could be replaced with Modrigswerg.
The last two races involved are Grells and Quaggoths. Both are not very Mystaran. The latter could be more or less easily replaced with any savage humanoid -- Garls and Darkwings come to mind. The Grell, on the other hand, is an odd Fiend Folio critter, a floating, bird-beaked brain with tentacles. I suppose it can be left as is, perhaps cast as an Outer Being servant or a creature from the Nightmare Dimension (there's a whole nest of Grells in the adventure).

Outer World Location
The module is set in Haranshire, a fairly large region (70 miles across) including marshes, forests and hills. The area is very lightly populated (there are three small villages, some independent farms, and a small keep), and ruled by a reasonably long line of Counts. A few dwarves and halflings and many bandits are also found in the area.
The locals worship Frey and Freyja, as well as Halav and Vanya.
The geographical names are English, while the personal names are a mixed lot.

The question is, where could Haranshire be in Mystara? My guess would be a Darokin borderland dominion, near the Five Shires border, though other options are certainly possible -- e.g., some part of Western Karameikos (reducing the "shire" to the fief of a landed lord) or Glantri (less likely, and to be remote enough the Count should be downgraded to a Baron) or other borderlands of Darokin (e.g., near the Orclands or the Glantri/Sind border).
The region per se is quite large, so it would not fit in the KW. If one wants to keep the overland map mostly unchanged, then it is best to stage the adventure in a larger/less densely developed area, such as Norwold. The combination of Frey & Freyja on one hand and Vanya on the other calls for an Heldannic Territories/Norwold setting, though some of Haranshire's history and naming scheme would have to be modified (since the HK are a recent presence, so a long line of Counts would not be appropriate; also, few Northman or Heldannic-like names are found in the adventure). OTOH, a Darokin-based version could keep history and names mostly unchanged, but would need to adapt the geography (cutting distances a lot).

Shadowdeep Location
The Underdark of Night Below sprawls for more than a hundred miles below the surface of Haranshire.
In contrast, most of the Shadowdeep (Graakhalia, the Lower Broken Lands, the Shadow Elven Territories, and Barimoor's complex) is comparatively much nearer to the surface (ca. 5 miles being the maximum depth, with less than 1 mile on average).
On one hand, this means there is little interference between existing Shadowdeep locations and Night Below areas -- so the adventure can be staged mostly unchanged. On the other hand, the opportunities for expanding the adventure to cover other parts of the Shadowdeep are also limited, with the potential exception of the Deep Glaurant kingdom (which might be deep underground, though still likely in the uppermost level of the Night Below).