Developed by Interplay, Descent to Undermountain is a 3D-based RPG that uses the AD&D 2nd Edition ruleset. It is set in the campaign world of the Forgotten Realms from TSR, specifically Undermountain beneath the city of Waterdeep.
It was by designed by Chris Avellone who would later go on to work on Baldur's Gate, Planescape: Torment, and several other well received computer RPGs. The Descent Engine was heavily modified for the game to provide the games 3D perspective.
The game featured six different races and four core classes to chose from, with non-humans (such as elves or dwarves) being able to dual-class. Players would explore a "super dungeon" (Undermountain) as part of a quest to solve a series of disappearances within Waterdeep and ultimately gain control of a powerful relic that could save the city.
The game was not the first to attempt free-roaming 3D rather than the grid-based mechanic that most traditional RPGs (notably those among SSI's Gold Box series) had been using for many years. Titles such as Ultima: Underworld and Elder Scrolls Arena had came earlier and implemented 3D much more successfully.
By the the time Descent to Undermountain came out in 1997, it appeared dated and the heavy rewriting required to get the engine to work in an RPG led to the game shipping with numerous bugs and glitches. These issues led to its generally negative reception by both critics and players upon its release.
The game's cover depicts the exact same artwork as the Turbografx game Order of the Griffon, developed in 1992 by Westwood. This artwork was originally used for the cover of Ed Greenwood's novel, Spellfire, four years before that in 1988.
As a novice adventurer fallen on hard times, you have heard rumors that the high mage of Waterdeep, Khelben Blackstaff, is seeking aid from those willing to assist. He is well known as one of the famed defenders of the city and has promised a great reward to any that answer his call. With nothing left to lose, you make your way to the great city.
Many suspect that his summons concern Undermountain, the vast network of caves, dungeons, and hidden places deep beneath the very streets of Waterdeep. They were carved out of rock and filled with all manner of traps and monsters by the mad archmage, Halaster Blackcloak, over a millennia ago as a personal playground. No one knows of his fate, but countless others have journeyed into its depths in search of fame and fortune only to never return. Yet, it continues to lure those foolhardy enough to dare its secrets.
But you intend to be one of those few that have returned from its depths. If this is what Khelben's task has in store for you, and if you can come out of this alive, the rewards alone will be worth the danger in stealing them away from Undermountain's grasp.