It is described as a vast subterranean network of interconnected caverns and tunnels , stretching beneath entire continents and forming an underworld for surface settings. The Underdark featured prominently in the campaign settings World of Greyhawk  and the Forgotten Realms. A review for Pyramid refers to the Underdark as "one of the most well known facets of the Forgotten Realms". Salvatore's novels about the fictional character Drizzt Do'Urden.
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The section describes some of the most notorious, important, and incredible locales in the Realms Below. The locales described here do not represent an exhaustive list of Underdark realms. Consider the places discussed in this section to be the ones the knowledgeable surface folk know of, and a sampling of the type of places that deep-delving heroes might explore. The existence of Underdark settlements beneath Waterdeep and Raven's Bluff, for example, does not mean it is possible to travel from one city to the other underground.
In fact, the Underdark consists of a number of discrete domains. A domain is simply a collection of Underdark locales among which underground travel is reasonably easy. In certain places it may be possible to trail-blaze a route from one domain to another, but then again, it may not.
An Underdark domain is something like a large island in the surface world. It may feature several distinct terrains and cultures, but it's possible to travel all over the island without having to set sail on the ocean.
Similarly, two locales in a single domain are connected by enough cave systems, tunnels, and other passages to enable travel from one to the other without leaving the Underdark. Cities and settlements in the same domain are much more likely to engage in diplomacy, trade, or warfare than cities in separate domains. Like the continents or regions of the surface world, domains tend to group disparate cultures together and force them to interact with each other for good or ill.
The major domains include the following. Beneath the mighty desert of Anauroch lie the Buried Realms, the demesnes of the unspeakable phaerimm. Because the Buried Realms are situated below the ruins of ancient Netheril and its daughter states, they contain many Netherese ruins. The presence of the phaerimm, however, prevents most fortune-seekers from venturing into this portion of the Underdark, and very little is known of any particular sites or cities here.
The Buried Realms are bounded in their entirety by an ancient magic artifice known as the Sharnwall. This tremendous barrier was created thousands of years ago by the mysterious sharns to imprison the phaerimm beneath Anauroch.
No other creature is impeded in any way by the wall, but the phaerimm cannot pass it by any lore or skill at their command. Unfortunately, the Sharnwall was breached in at least one spot near Evereska only last year; so the phaerimm are now free to wreak havoc in the wider world. The return of the City of Shade and the subsequent battles fought against the phaerimm contained the alien threat, at least for a time.
However, the Buried Realms are still no place for a casual traveler to visit. This immense domain stretches from Cairnheim the realm of the Dodkong in the west to the foul warrens of Traaskl Thorog beneath Chessenta in the east.
The most powerful city of the Darklands has long been the great duergar city of Dunspeirrin, but the gray dwarves control only a small portion of this sprawling Underdark domain. East of the Buried Realms lies the small domain known as the Deep Wastes, which runs beneath the Dalelands and the Moonsea. Sparsely populated and largely wild, the Deep Wastes are home to the now-ruined drow city of Maerimydra, which once held Shadowdale as a conquered surface land.
Few easy access points exist, however, so large portions of the domain are poorly explored. Far to the east, below the plateau of Thay and the towering rampart of the Sunrise Mountains, lies the vast domain known as the Earthroot.
Very little is known about this domain, and since it lies beneath the Unapproachable East, few western folk ever even learn of ts existence. The Earthroot is home to most of the drow city of Undrek'Thoz, as well as the duergar realm of Fraaszummdin.
In its northerly reaches, it is a frigid area containing numerous ice formations and caves. Its southern portions extend out beneath Raurin, the Dust Desert. The greatest and best-kept of these secrets is the realm of Deep Imaskar itself, which lies below the Endless Wastes in the easternmost portions of the Earthroot. The Glimmersea lies 20 miles below the floor of the Sea of Fallen Stars. Its horizontal area overlaps that of the surface ocean for most of its extent, although the Glimmersea extends under some of the lands adjoining the Sea of Fallen Stars, such as Altumbel and Aglarond.
Similarly, certain portions of the Sea of Fallen Stars, such as the Easting Reach, have no arm of the Glimmersea beneath them. The Glimmersea's waters fill dozens of immense vaults. This waterway is noted for a number of spectacular ribbon-cascades that extend down into it from the cavern ceilings, thousands of feet overhead. In some of the Glimmersea's chambers, luminescent rocks in the ceiling glow like stars in a surface-world night, striking perfect reflections from the still waters of the sea's surface.
This effect gives travelers the illusion of sailing amid a sea of stars. Despite its great beauty, few travelers cross the Glimmersea. Several powerful aboleth cities lurk within its starry depths, and in the shallows stand numerous kuo-toa and sahuagin outposts.
The first great homeland of the dwarves, Bhaerynden was conquered and occupied long ago by the drow when they first descended into the Underdark.
The drow named their new realm Telantiwar, but their kingdom did not last. For some reason that has been forgotten in the intervening centuries, the great vaults that made up the heart of Telantiwar collapsed, crushing a dozen drow cities and creating the Great Rift in the process.
Although the cavern that housed Bhaerynden no longer exists, it was only part of a sprawling network of caves and deep delvings. The gold dwarves now hold the Rift and many of the caverns surrounding it, but several powerful drow cities remain in this vicinity, including Guallidurth, Llurth Dreir, and Tlindhet. North and east of Waterdeep lies a large and notorious domain called the Northdark. Many of the Underdark's most famous realms lie in this area, including the ruined svirfneblin city of Blingdenstone, the duergar Deepkingdom of Gracklstugh, and Menzoberranzan, the City of Spiders.
The Northdark is also home to the wreckage of numerous ancient realms, such as Ammarindar, Delzoun, and Netheril this last in the form of Skullport. The Buried Realms lie quite near it to the east - in fact, the Northdark meets the Buried Realms beneath the ruins of Ascore.
Countless orc-holds, troll-caves, and giant-delvings also lie buried beneath the Spine of the World to the North. Extending for hundreds of miles beneath Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan, Old Shanatar was once home to the powerful dwarven realm of Deep Shanatar. Only one of Deep Shanatar's eight kingdoms still stands today; the others have fallen to drow, mind flayers, and duergar. Of the major domains, Old Shanatar contains the most artificial delvings, halls, and passages, including works of tremendous scale.
The following entries describe cities, ruins, dungeons, and other points of interest that adventurers might wish to visit in the Underdark. A history is given for each, and for some of the more complex areas, descriptions of important sites and NPCs are included. Each of the following entries includes a parenthetical note about its depth Upperdark, Middledark, or Lowerdark and its domain or geographical region, if it does not belong to a major domain.
Unlike surface cities, Underdark cities tend to be monocultural. In many places, anyone who isn't of the dominant race is either a visitor or a slave. To reflect this arrangement, any city with a sizeable contingent of slaves has a separate notation for the slave population in its community statistics block.
The population and racial breakdown of the free residents is given first, and then the slave population. Community assets are calculated from the total population because slaves do help to generate wealth, even if they don't hold any of it.
Beneath the valley of the Delimbiyr River, between the High Forest and the Graypeak Mountains, lie the ruins of the old shield dwarf kingdom of Ammarindar. This once-mighty realm fell into darkness in DR, at the same time that the elven realm of Eaerlann was swept away by fiends boiling forth from the city of Ascalborn.
It was this incident that earned that realm the moniker of Hellgate Keep. For centuries, the demon overlords of Hellgate Keep explored the buried dwarven realm beneath their fortress.
They used its spacious halls and cold forges to gather armies of orcs and breed demonborn warriors, such as the tanarukks. Hellgate Keep itself was finally destroyed only three years ago, but the evil lying beneath its dungeons still thrives. A fungal growth the size of a kingdom, Araumycos is a single living creature of enormous size. It occupies the area beneath the High Forest, beginning at a depth of 1 mile under the surface and ending at a depth of 3 miles.
Araumycos is thought to be the oldest living creature on Toril. Araumycos is immune to magic and has all the traits of the plant creature type, although its sentience is debatable. Fungal creatures of all varieties, including many dangerous kinds, live within Araumycos. Colonies of fungus folk live inside its body and protect their domains aggressively. These hamlets and villages rarely contain anything of value, although the fungus folk tend to store spoiled corpses of various creatures that they consume, on the off chance that their food may have had something of value on it before it died.
Travel within Araumycos is difficult. Many passages and caves are entirely blocked by bulging, gray-white masses that resemble giant accumulations of puffball fungus hardness 3, hit points per 5-foot cube. Damaged sections of the fungus grow back at the rate of 1 hit point per round.
It's not uncommon for travelers to hack their way hundreds of yards into Araumycos, only to find that the gray stuff has grown over their backtrail, sealing them inside. Other passages are only partially full, and travelers can wade through or walk on top of the fungus Balance DC Running or charging within Araumycos is impossible.
Though usually docile, Araumycos occasionally lashes out at intruders. It can choke invaders with deadly poisons, dominate them with insidious spores, or attack with mobile manifestations that resemble the various oozes and slimes. The creature has displayed all the psionic attack modes, although it seems to prefer mind blast and mind thrust. Fighting Araumycos in psionic combat is patently insane; it seems to have are inexhaustible supply of power points, and its magic immunity extends to the psionic realm as well.
On rare occasions, enormous patches of Araumycos die, revealing ancient civilizations ripe for plunder beneath. When this happens, every city of any size in the North - surface or Underdark - sends one or more search parties in to bring back whatever they can.
Parties of Shadovars from the Empire of Shade seem particularly interested in what lies below Araumycos, and they have burned away various parts of it with acids since their return, obviously in search of something particular. A kuo-toan enclave in the Lowerdark, Blessed Seahaven is a thorp with approximately 40 residents. It borders on an arm of the Glimmersea, deep below the coasts of Sembia. Her second-in-command is Sloomik Gordscale LE male kuo-toa monk 6 , an especially zealous and ambitious monitor.
Tension between the cleric and the monitor runs high - neither likes or respects the other, and each seeks a good opportunity to bring the other down. Guards : Sixteen of the adult kuo-toas, including several with levels in fighter or rogue, serve as guards here. Blibdoolpoolp's worshipers attend daily services here. Services have enthusiastic attendance, since anyone not on guard duty who misses a ceremony gets a courtesy visit from Sloomik.
This site is where the priests drown sacrifices to the Sea Mother on the high holy days. Kuo-toa priests, inquisitors, and those who have proven themselves particularly devout or faithful are allowed to use this pool as a special spawning pool. One of the acolytes is always on duty here.
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The section describes some of the most notorious, important, and incredible locales in the Realms Below. The locales described here do not represent an exhaustive list of Underdark realms. Consider the places discussed in this section to be the ones the knowledgeable surface folk know of, and a sampling of the type of places that deep-delving heroes might explore. The existence of Underdark settlements beneath Waterdeep and Raven's Bluff, for example, does not mean it is possible to travel from one city to the other underground. In fact, the Underdark consists of a number of discrete domains. A domain is simply a collection of Underdark locales among which underground travel is reasonably easy.
[Forgotten Realms] Geography of the Underdark
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter. This hook led directly into Descent into the Depths of the Earth , where for the first time, adventurers descended into a deep and mysterious land filled with mindflayers, the dark fey known as jermlaines, umber hulks, and more. Descent into the Depths of the Earth was successful at unveiling the vastness of the world below. However, that world came more fully to life in the followup adventures Shrine of the Kuo-Toa and Vault of the Drow that same year. In their depictions of whole civilizations of the fishlike kuo-toa and the dark elves, those adventures elevated monsters from the denizens of random dungeon rooms to members of a living, breathing society. Fighting was no longer the only option for dealing with monsters—and in fact, any group trying to fight its way through Vault of the Drow would be in for a deadly challenge.
Specifically, the Underdark refers to the massive cave system that plunges into the depths of the world - unlike the Hollow World of Mystara or any homebrew setting using the Hollow Earth form of Setting Aesthetics , these are "just" caves, rather than being lit by some sort of internal sun. Of course, calling the Underdark a "cave system" is like calling the God-Emperor of Mankind a "powerful psychic ": technically true, but doing an injustice to the scale of the thing. The Underdark stretches for absolute bloody miles in all directions, reaching down to the heart of the planet and sprawling under continents and seabeds, allowing a cunning, powerful and determined adventurer to get to any continent on the planet if they want. It's big enough that it's an entire ecosystem unto itself, with rivers, lakes, abysses, hills, and all of the other geological features we know and love from the surface world, all with a stone roof overhead. The Underdark is full of life, and pretty much all of it is hostile. All kinds of gribblies wander about here, from dark-preferring denizens of the world above to aberrations boiling out of the uttermost depths. These range from mindless monsters like the Cave Fisher and the Carrion Crawler to sapient races.
Geography of the Underdark
The Underdark was the vast network of underground caverns and tunnels underneath the surface of Abeir-Toril. As a result, it was not always possible to travel from one end of the Underdark to the other. The Underdark was divided into several domains that were similar to continents of the world above. While it was possible to travel from one place to another within a domain, separate domains tended to have very few passages linking them. The Underdark's underground landscape varied from small subterranean fissures almost impossible for adventurers to crawl through, to wide expanses of deep water that hid coral caves, hollowed out sections of ice in which creatures lived, and places where fungus, bones, or even pure force formed "caves.