Fans of Dungeons & Dragons are likely aware of the wildly popular liveplay webshow, Critical Role. The show is of a longform DnD campaign, GM'd by voice-actor Matt Mercer and played by other talented voice-actors like Laura Bailey and Travis Willingham, set in an original fantasy setting created by Mercer known as Exandria. It has become so popular that Mercer has collaborated directly with Wizards of the Coast to create official Dungeons & Dragons supplements based on this original material. This has included a line of miniatures based on the characters as well as new supplements set within Exandria like Explorer's Guide to Wildemount and the Tal'Dorei Campaign. Now, Mercer has given more details of another prewritten adventure coming soon to DnD and its own unique selling point: Call of the Netherdeep Rival NPCs.
In an interview on the official Dungeons & Dragons YouTube channel, Mercer explains how Call of the Netherdeep Rival NPCs work. The adventure in question will have players heading into a hellish underwater realm to face down some dire challenges, but they will also be challenged by a rival group. These rivals are essentially a competing adventuring party seeking their own fame and fortune throughout the events of the campaign parallel to your own group.
But Call of the Netherdeep Rival NPCs aren't just regular enemies with fixed statblocks. Mercer explains that the rival groups were implemented for a number of reasons. In addition to helping expand the adventure by making your group not the only adventurers running around as well as place a ticking clock on events, he also wanted this rival group to grow and change based on the party's actions. Each of the named NPCs have different Tiers of statblocks meant to show their own growth and progression.
For example, the rival group's leader, a water genasi named Ayo Jabe, is just a CR3 character at Tier 1, which is meant to have her on par with an adventuring party just starting out, but her Tier 2 and Tier 3 statblocks would represent her more in her prime, something closer to a CR7 or CR10 enemy. However, not only can these rivals grow in strength and cunning, their very personalities can shift as well depending on the choices your group makes throughout the campaign. As for what those shifts entail, that is for the group and the GM to decide.
Dungeons and Dragons Call of the Netherdeep will be available March 15.