Had I not seen the chaos that ensued,I would never have believed the tale Shadowdale's sage wove for me that day...Who would have believed that anything had the power to rip Halaster Blackcloak bodily from his Undermountain? Who again could predict the maelstrom of dangers that a dungeon gone made would unleash upon an unsuspecting Realms? It is thanks to the brave and noble souls who dared reach into the villains'clutches to save the life of Halaster the Mad Mage that we all rise to greet another sun.
--Gamalon Idogyr, starfaring mage formerly of Llorbauth
This DUNGEON CRAWL adventure returns once more the the hallowed halls of Undermountain, but it's a different day. At dawn of Highharvestide 1369, every practitioner of magic on the Sword Coast knew there was a problem. By midmorning, the Lords of Waterdeep confirmed the ill omens: Some brave souls worthy of the title "Hero" must enter Undermountain on a mission to save Halaster Blackcloak! Could these heroes be your group of player characters?
This is a stand-alone module and does not require extra support materials. It can be placed into a campaign on any AD&D world, but best fits and impacts a FORGOTTEN REALMS campaign set in Undermountain or Waterdeep.
Undermountain: Stardock (1997), by Steven E. Schend, is the third adventure in a series of three focusing on Undermountain Dungeon Crawls. It was published in January 1997.
Completing the Undermountain Trilogy. Undermountain: Stardock (1997) is the last of the trilogy of Undermountain Forgotten Realms adventures. It's also the third Dungeon Crawl adventure, but it has a little more depth than its predecessors. The adventure is set on Highharvestide, 1369 DR and it's a minor Realms-shaking event: Halaster Blackcloak has been kidnapped, causing magical problems in Undermountain (and across the Realms).
Farewell to TSR. More notably, Stardock was the last roleplaying book published by TSR before they plunged into near-bankruptcy in early 1997. Their financial problems were a few years coming, but the full-blown crisis was precipitated by massive bookstore returns from Random House in late 1996.
TSR laid off 30 staff members, but the problems escalated, and they soon became unable to pay for their printing, warehousing, and shipping. This caused a rather sudden halt in their production. Stardock seems to have snuck in just under the wire. No more roleplaying books would appear until after Wizards of the Coast's purchase of TSR on April 10, 1997. Only then would products get back on schedule, starting with Domains of Dread (1997), Tales of the Comet (1997), and Monstrous Arcana: The Sea Devils (1997), which all appeared in July.
Adventure Tropes. Like the other Dungeon Crawls, Stardock is pretty much … a dungeon crawl. No surprise there! It contains a very classic killer dungeon maze as well as a (less traditional) Spelljammer asteroid. Underlying it all is a MacGuffin quest for Halaster (which means that it has a bit more plotline than a fully classic dungeon crawl would).
Expanding Undermountain. Stardock expands on the Forgotten Realms Undermountain dungeon detailed in several previous products, beginning with The Ruins of Undermountain (1991) and The Ruins of Undermountain II: The Deep Levels (1994).
Though the Crystal Labyrinth of this adventure hadn't been mentioned previously, a stardock had. The Ruins of Undermountain said it was the best-known of the gates that Halaster used to restock the monsters in dungeon. However, that module also claimed that Stardock was somewhere "beyond the fringes of Realmspace", while this new supplement instead places it in the Tears of Selune.
Besides featuring a new area of Undermountain, Stardock also puts the spotlight on new-ish organization: the Twisted Rune of Calimshan. They were introduced by Ed Greenwood in FOR4: The Code of the Harpers (1993) as an adversarial organization, but had not received further attention. Steven Schend brought them into the spotlight in this and later books of the '90s.
Love It or Hate It? The Realms had already been tied to the Spelljammer setting through previous books like Elves of Evermeet (1994) and some fiction. Nevertheless, there were some readers who didn't like the (stronger) connection in this book, feeling that it compromised the Realms setting.
Future History. Stardock got a bit of attention later in the year in Polyhedron #127 (December 1997) in an article called "A World of Your Own: Island Campaigns: Part 6 Strange Heroes, Strange Adventures", which played up the Spelljammer connection even more.
Meanwhile, Stardock marked the end of TSR's years of connected trilogies of Forgotten Realms adventures. The next sequence of Realms adventures (put out by Wizards of the Coast) were all standalone: Four from Cormyr (1997), Castle Spulzeer (1997), and Hellgate Keep (1998). Stardock didn't mark the end of the Dungeon Crawls, however, which continued with the aformentioned Hellgate Keep as well as The Lost Shrine of Bundushatur (1998) and The Dungeon of Death (2000).
Wizards returned to Undermountain one more time in the AD&D 2e years (1989-2000), with Skullport (1999).
About the Creators. Though this was Schend's final Undermountain book, it was just the start of his work on the Realms. He'd produce another nine Realms books in the next few years, beginning with Lands of Intrigue (1997) and ending with Cloak & Dagger (2000).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.