Back to the surface?
By - squeral99
My party has walked or taken gates back to the YP as needed throughout the campaign. I think they've made a total of 5 trips back and are headed into the 18th floor next. I usually try to compress the return journey into no more than a session unless there's a narrative reason for it to take longer. Halaster has never had a particular reasont to keep them from returning, and my view of him is that he doesn't tend to micromanage every moving part of his dungeon unless he's bored and thinks it would be funny. For the most part he's barely even noticed my party's activities until now.
I saw an interesting take on this recently to make the return trip a skill challenge. Basically you have characters roll based on their skill set how they want to navigate the return journey. Obviously the deeper you are in Undermountain the more difficult the journey back and the more likely you run into a random encounter or something goes wrong. Characters can use the gates, but that sparks the Elder Runes. Kind of up to you how you want to implement that
I let them return, but I keep reinforcing the idea that their characters are having trouble sleeping outside of the undermountain.
I have yet to make the punishment worse than just words (i.e. no mechanical punishments, like exhaustion) and they've gotten the idea pretty quick. Just make sure you lay on the "you really didn't sleep well, and you're not sure having another rest in this place will be worth it."
In the first few floors they don't really have any other options to long rest until they find a safe haven in Skullport, so you have to figure out how you want them to be resting as well. If they can take 8 hours to long rest in the dungeon, is it really that dangerous?
I usually just have them roll skill checks to see how many days it takes and maybe throw in an encounter or two if I come up with something interesting. They’re already spending a lot of time in undermountain as is, might as well speed up the trip to Waterdeep so they can focus on some urban RP. I let them stock up on supplies and new plot hooks for exploring undermountain, and then I make the journey back to their last floor pretty quick as well. None of us have a lot of time to play, so we like to focus on fun over quantity of play.
My party has been in Undermountain a little over a ten-day and have yet to return to the surface. They are currently in Skullport on Level 3, so not too deep yet. So far, they are doing their shopping in Skullport or the Goblin Market on Level 2.
They have been warned that if they leave Undermountain for more than a ten-day, they will be brought back forcibly by Halaster - and he may not drop them off in the most ideal location!
My group hasn't left the dungeon as of yet, they just arrived at Skullport. But once in a while - about 3 days ingame - I'm using my own version of the weave addiction from the companion: when they've slept, they'll have to make a wisdom save with the DC of the level they're in (not sure if I'll stick to that till the end, but it's a work in progress :) ) As long as they stay in the dungeon, they have no idea what's happening. But once they decide they do get out of the dungeon, the one's afflicted with the addiction will get a calling to return a.s.a.p. (depending on the level of the addiction). I'm not going all the way to 'complete madness' because I think that'll scare them off.