Underdark races 5e

Underdark races 5e DEFAULT

D&D 5E Out of the Abyss PC Races

So I'm about to start the Out of the Abyss campaign. While discussing character generation, one of my players actually said they wanted to play a drow ranger with two scimitars. :erm:

Immediately after, another expressed an interest in a deep gnome, and then another, and then a fourth player wanted to play a myconid.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the assumption for the campaign that the PCs are NOT a group of Underdark races? It looks to me like they're supposed to be surface races trying (at least initially) to ESCAPE the Underdark, and unfamiliar with it, not native locals who know all about the place.

I don't want to limit my players, but I also don't want to regret allowing them to create an all-Underdark party. And I don't even know what the stats for a myconid would be.

One idea I had was to insist that anyone playing an Underdark race take the alternate background ability granting familiarity with Underdark cultures. It might be a slight deterrent that might result in a more mixed party.

What do you think?


Sours: https://www.enworld.org/threads/out-of-the-abyss-pc-races.471121/

© 2003 Maggie I. Wang

While many surface dwellers regard the Underdark as all the same (one big cave, infested with hungry monsters), the wise adventurer prepares by studying what surface dwellers know about the Realms Below before venturing underground. Knowing what sorts of creatures and dangers lurk at what depths might mean the difference between life and death.
The Underdark is divided into three general levels: The Upperdark, the Middledark, and the Lowerdark. The denizens listed below are categorized in such a manner as well, each one being mentioned in the level where they are found most frequently.

In addition to the races and creatures presented here, we also encourage you to look at our Expanded Listing of Creatures that serves to cover the bulk of any random encounters you may have on the various levels of the Underdark.
Within that section you will also find some notes on the more common animals, and even plant life, found in the Underdark.

Denizens of the Upperdark
The Upperdark extends from the surface to a depth of about 3 miles. Varied races inhabit this region, including chitines, drow, dwarves, giants, all manner of goblinoids, orcs, svirfneblin, and wererats. Scouts from deeper races often venture into Upperdark in order to trade with (or prey on) the races native to this area.
Most Upperdark inhabitants traffic with the surface world in some way, either trading with or raiding their upstairs neighbors for things they can't get in their native habitat. They also trade with (and raid) each other. No Underdark community is ever really friendly with another, but Upperdark settlements often observe wary truces with their neighbors.
The Upperdark's main import from the surface is slaves. Slavers from evil-aligned cities in the Upperdark make frequent forays into the light to capture new slaves for use as either labor or food. They also trade for textiles, grains, fruit, and weapons. Their exports include raw ore, refined metals, gems, and native Underdark plants.

Chitines are another race believed to have been created by the drow. These small, four-armed, web-spinning, chaotic evil humanoids resemble a cross between humans and giant-spiders. Chitines venerate Lolth but plot to overthrow the drow. They are found in small numbers in the northern reaches of the upper and middle Underdark, with the greatest concentration located in the realm of Yathchol, which is in the general vicinity of the drow city of Ched Nasad, hinting toward the source of their ancestry.
Choldrith are chitine priestesses. They are completely hairless, with dark, charcoal-gray skin. Larger than their kindred, they have smaller, almost negligible mandibles. The silver-white eyes of chitine priestesses are not multi-faceted, and they have long, pointed ears resembling horns.

For thousands of years, the great dwarven realms of the surface world have expanded downward instead of outward. Neither gold dwarves nor shield dwarves harbor any fear of the Underdark, and their cities are often buried in the upper reaches of the Realms Below. The kingdom of Iltkazar is the strongest shield dwarf realm remaining in the Underdark, and the gold dwarves there retain extensive Underdark holdings in the vicinity of the Great Rift.
Unlike the duergar, who prefer the deeper portions of the Underdark, gold and shield dwarves keep fields and livestock on the surface and trade extensively with surface folk. These dwarves are gifted engineers and industrious workers, and they have built many roads and bridges in the Underdark.

Although the various races of goblins are most common in the Lands of Lights, numerous tribes have been driven into the upper reaches of the Underdark and then been enslaved by the various races that dwell below.
Goblins are small, lawful evil humanoids with flat faces, broad noses, pointed ears, wide mouths, and small, short fangs. Bugbears are giant, hairy, chaotic evil cousin of goblins. Hobgoblins are lawful evil bulky humanoids with hairy hides ranging from dark reddish brown to dark gray. Koalinths are a marine variety of hobgoblins with gills, webbed fingers, and webbed toes. Norkers resemble their hobgoblin cousins but are chaotic evil. They are hairless, have tough, leathery skin, and have two large canines protruding from their upper lips.
While bugbears, goblins, and norkers are relatively common throughout the Realms Below, hobgoblins and koalinths are much rarer for reasons not yet understood.

Quaggoths, also known as deepbears, are powerful, neutral humanoids resembling bears with long, shaggy, white hair covering their entire bodies. Although many quaggoths are enslaved by the drow as guards and spider handlers, freeroaming bands of nomadic hunters still exist. Quaggoth tribes are most common in the far northern reaches of the upper Underdark, although drow slave traders have spread small groups throughout the upper and middle Underdark.
Quaggoths once had a kingdom, Ursadunthar, deep beneath the Spine of the World, but it fell to the duergar of Gracklstugh in -1350 DR, damning them to their current existence as raiders and slaves.

Hulking and fierce minotaurs dwell in the Upperdark, usually favoring the most confusing and complex cave systems for their lairs. Minotaurs generally live by raiding and plunder, although more than a few sell their services to other folk who offer gold and food in exchange for a chance to fight. Minotaurs are kept by slaves by Upperdark dwellers such as drow and mind flayers, but such slaves are not numerous.
The vast delve known as the Labyrinth was once a minotaur empire of sorts. While no signs of the former minotaur civilization remain, thousands of the creatures still infest the area.

Despite their prevalence across Faerun, particularly in the abandoned dwarf holds of the North, orcs are far less common in the Underdark than one might expect. However, neutral evil orc-quaggoth crossbreeds, known as boogins, are growing in number throughout the upper reaches of the far northern Underdark as well as beneath the great forest of Cormanthyr. Since the destruction of Hellgate Keep, a new breed of chaotic evil tiefling-orcs known as tanarukka have been growing in number in the upper reaches of the Underdark west of the Buried Realms beneath Anauroch.
Orcs are often enslaved by deeper-dwelling races, so they can be found almost anywhere in the Underdark, at any level.

A dark-skinned, deep-dwelling breed of gnome, often referred to as deep gnomes, svirfneblin live in hidden caves and secretive strongholds throughout all three layers of the Underdark, though most of them dwell in the Upperdark and Middledark. Deep gnomes avoid trouble by simply staying well clear of it, and few strangers even blunder across svirfneblin towns.

Stone Giants
Powerful and ponderous in action and thought, stone giants are strong enough to keep all but the most magically powerful of foes at bay. These creatures delve enormous quarries for their homes, and they can work wonders with their chosen medium.
Few in number, stone giants leave other folk alone for the most part, and expect the same courtesy from anyone passing through their lands. The most powerful stone giant realm is the kingdom of Cairnheim, beneath the Giant's Run mountains.

Troglodytes are a warlike race of carnivorous reptilian humanoids who dwell in natural subterranean caverns in the upper reaches of the Underdark, particularly in the South. Once spread throughout the Realms Below, they have gradually been supplanted by more vigorous and powerful races and are now a minor power.
Tren are a chaotic evil crossbreed of troglodytes with members of the lizardman race. Tren, who live in loose-knit clans, hate all warm-blooded creatures, especially dwarves.
Troglodytes were once much more widespread in the Underdark than they are now, but being the most universally detested race has caused everyone else to root them out and exterminate them in many places. Most troglodytes now live in the southern portions of the Underdark, particularly beneath the Mhair and Black Jungles.

The bainligor are small, flightless bat people of neutral evil alignment, who undergo a series of magical transformations as they age. Bainligors have a primitive tribal culture and are found in the southern reaches of the Upper Underdark, particularly beneath the Chultan peninsula. Elder bainligor are undead creatures known as Revered Ones, who hunt in great packs through the deeper reaches of the Underdark.

The bi-nou are living rocks believed to have been created by the drow in ages past. These animate craggy columns are of chaotic evil alignment and live in damp, drafty caverns in the northwestern reaches of the upper Underdark in small family groups. The bi-nou have been known to ally with the drow and are sometimes hunted by the duergar as building materials.
Close relatives of the bi-nou include rockworms and rocklords, the latter also known as "lords of stone", both of whom appear as stone snakes with arms.

Dark Creepers
Dark creepers, and the closely related governing subrace known as dark stalkers, are chaotic neutral humanoids. They live in small villages throughout the upper and middle Underdark south of the Sea of Fallen Stars and east of the Shining Sea. Dark creepers are believed to subsist by consuming magic, and may draw their nourishment in part from the pockets of radiation found throughout the Underdark. Given that the drow and other powerful races compete for control of such sites, it is no wonder that dark creepers are more a nuisance than a threat. However, their penchant for acquiring small magical items is the bane of many inveterate explorers.

Kobolds are short, lawful evil humanoids with scaly hides that range from dark, rusty brown to rusty black, and non-prehensile, ratlike tails. Although kobolds are little more than pests in the Realms Above, in the Underdark they are a major threat. Kobolds can quickly strip a region of resources if their numbers remain unchecked. The more powerful races of the Underdark enslave many kobolds; they are used primarily as front-line troops in the initial skirmishes of any war.
Urds, relatives of kobolds with leathery, batlike wings are largely unknown in the Underdark. A few tribes were once found dwelling in great chasms beneath the earth, but most have fallen victim to more powerful competitors.

Gaunds are gray-green reptilian creatures of neutral alignment with three glowing red eyes. Distantly related to troglodytes and lizardmen, they are believed to be descendants of the sauroid creator race. Although sentient, gaunds resemble large lizards and spend most of their time on all fours. They are omnivores who dwell in small colonies in dry, fiery caverns. Gaunds are most prevalent in the vicinity of volcanic activity, and are typically found in the upper reaches of the Underdark near active volcanoes. Gaunds are still found in sizable numbers beneath the Smoking Mountains and Black Ash Plain of southern Unther.

Glouras are small fairies of neutral alignment associated with the Unseelie Court. Found throughout the upper reaches of the Underdark, they have huge, mothlike wings, long fingers, sharp claws, and a mass of dark claws. Although some believe the glouras to be messengers of Eilistraee the Dark Maiden, that seems unlikely, given their ties to the Queen of Air and Darkness.

Gremlins are small goblinoids often mistaken for imps. Three varieties of gremlin make their home in the upper reaches of the Underdark: neutral evil jermlaines, lawful evil mites, and neutral snyads. Most gremlins dwell in small family groups, opportunistically preying on unwary travelers in the upper Underdark. Gremlins typically lair in a maze of tiny chambers and passageways along major trade routes. While most other races exterminate them if given the opportunity, gremlins are amazingly resilient and nigh impossible to eliminate.

Gibberlings are small, pale, hunchbacked humaiods of chaotic neutral alignments with canine ears, black manes, black, shining eyes, overly long arms, and hideous, grinning faces. Found throughout the upper reaches of the Underdark, these carnivores madly swarm and attack any living cretures they encounter. Gibberlings have no discernable social structure, and their nubmers fluctuate wildly. some sages believe that gibberings are unfortunate humans and demihumans transformed by drow sorcerers.

Phaerimm are a race of powerful sorcerers whose mastery of the Art is sufficient to rival that of the Chosen of Mystra. They resemble upright cones, their widest part uppermost, and the point ending in a barbed stinger tail. Phaerimm were largely responsible for the fall of Netheril and the spread of Anauroch to cover once-fertile land. The efforts of the sharn confined the phaerimm beneath Anauroch, although a few individuals are believed to have escaped the magical prison confining the rest of the race or perhaps were caught outside the barrier when it was erected.

Sharn are curious, chaotic neutral creatures who appear as glossy black teardrops of amorphous flesh, studded with many tiny eyes and surrounded by a nimbus of purple light. Some sharn are powerful spellcasters, and all can create miniature ethereal windows through which they can extend one of their three tri-handed arms or one of their three fanged maws. Sharn dwell with other members of their large families or clans throughout the upper reaches of the Underdark, particularly in the Northdark.
Some believe the sharn to have imprisoned the phaerimm in the Buried Realms beneath the Great Sand Sea, where they constantly guard against the efforts of the phaerimm to shatter their magical prison.

Skulks are a cowardly, chaotic evil race of humanoids with the chameleonlike ability to blend into any background. Skulks resemble completely hairless humans. They are elflike in stature, with graceful limbs, soft facial features, and pink eyes, but their ears are not pointed. Skulks are fairly common in the upper and middle reaches of the Underdark beneath Calimshan, Tethyr, the Land of the Lions, and the Lake of Steam. They are believed to be descendants of human slaves in the drow city of Guallidurth who were led to freedom by an avatar of Ibrandul, the Skulking God, and then transformed into their current state.

The magnificent wyrms who soar through the the skies of Faerun are also found in the tunnels beneath, particularly in the upper Underdark. Deep dragons, sapphire dragons, and shadow dragons are the most commonly encountered breeds, but black dragons, bronze dragons, gold dragons, mist dragons, and rarer breeds also turn up.

Although most commonly found in the Lands of Light, small groups of these neutral shapeshifters are found throughout the Lands Below, acting as parasites on more powerful Underdark races. Greater dopplegangers, neutral evil kin of their lesser brethren, live primarily in the northwestern Underdark, in the vicinity of Waterdeep, although it is not known if there is a link between the subspecies and the City of Splendors.

Denizens of the Middledark
The Middledark lies between 3 and 10 miles beneath the surface of Faerun. Most larger cities of drow and duergar are in the Middledark. Other inhabitants include lone aboleths, cloakers, derro, grimlocks, and kuo-toas. A few mind flayer outposts are scattered throughout this level as well.
No alliance is permanent in the Middledark. Some communities maintain wary trading partnerships with others, but it is understood that if one party ever grows stronger than the other, the terms of the partnership will change--perhaps drastically. Even in the most open of Middledark cities, newcomers can expect to be challenged (physically or otherwise) unless they make a pointed display of power upon entry.
Settled communities in the Middledark commonly send trade caravans and raiding parties to the surface, or at least up to Upperdark trading centers such as Menzoberranzan and Ooltul. Visitors from the surface are rare and tend to be viewed as potential slaves or food. Caravan travel brings mostly luxuries; staples must be grown locally.

Most drow cities occupy large vaults or caverns in the Middledark. At these depths, faerzress is common and powerful, and the dark elves have developed many potent spells and defenses that harness the Underdark's magical radiation for their own purposes. The Middledark also offers the defense of distance--a drow outpost near the surface is vulnerable to the attacks of adventurers and surface elves, but moving a large army into the Middledark can't be done with ease.
Taken as a whole, drow probably have the most significant presence in the Middledark. Their cities and strongholds are numerous, wealthy, and well suited for defense, and the drow themselves are cruel and strong. Only the endles feuding of the great Houses constrains drow power. Menzoberranzan is the most famous of drow cities.

The Middledark is also home to the largest and most powerful gray dwarf realms. The duergar have no particular use for faerzress and do not worry about ages-old vendettas against the surface world; they came down to the Middledark because the lower one descends into the earth, the more rare and wondrous minerals that once can find. If the Lowerdark were not so completely inhospitable, the gray dwarves would pursue their veins of ore and gemstones all the way to the roots of the world, but lower reaches of the Middledark represent the deepest depths at which large cities can be easily sustained.
Duergar cities are less numerous than those of the drow, but any given gray dwarf city is likely to be a strong, wealthy, and martially inclined realm quite powerful enough to deter the attacks of its hostile neighbors. The cities of Dunspeirrin and Gracklstugh are good examples of duergar realms.

The most hideous and wicked of giantkind, the terrible fomorians dwell throughout the Underdark, but mostly in the middle section. They are thankfully scarce, and no one knows of any true fomorian cities of holdings in the Realms Below. However, a few dozen fomorians gathered in a keep or clanhold represent a formidable threat to their neighbors.

These intelligent, mobile mushrooms are among the more unusual creatures that live deep below ground. Myconids (also called fungus ones) are gentle, quiet, shy, and thoughtful. They always view outsiders with distrust because they assume that all strangers are destructive and violent. To ensure that they can live in peace, they usually make their homes far from the more commonly traveled subterranean paths.

Grell are fearsome, neutral evil carnivores resembling giant brains with vicious beaks and ten dangling tentacles. Like beholders, grell are believed to have reached Abeir-Toril on great spelljamming ships before making their way into the upper reaches of the Underdark, particularly in the northeastern reaches of Faerun. While a few grell are solitary rogues, the majority dwell with their fellows in small cavern complexes, hunting the surrounding territories till they are exhausted of prey and then moving on. Grell communities are known as hives, and members of such enclaves are divided into three castes: workers/soldiers, philosophers, and patriarchs. Grells make poor neighbors, since they regard all other creatures only as potential prey.

Grimlocks are powerfully built, neutral evil humaniods in the northern and central reaches of the upper Underdark near caverns that open to the mountainous regions above. Grimlocks have thick, scaly gray skin and long, black, filthy hair. Their teeth are white and extremely sharp, and their eyes are blank white orbs. Tales speak of tribes of primitive humans who have dwelt overlong in the tunnels of the Underdark, and grimlocks are said to be their descendents.
Grimlocks are tireless hunters and raiders, and they often range dozens of miles from their lairs in search of food and plunder. Like the goblins and orcs of the higher levels, grimlocks are frequently enslaved by other races (particularly mind flayers) and can be found almost anywhere.
The grimlocks long ago laid claim to the cavern complex called Fingerhome. Within it, the village of Reeshov is a good example of a community of free grimlocks, as is the Cavern of Cloven Heads, which is home to the twisted descendants of the Golden Eagle and Red Pony Uthgardt tribes.

Kuo-toas, a race of fish-like humanoids, are found throughout the seas of the Middledark. This once great race has dwindled over time, and many of the kuo-toan cities lie in ruins. The worship of the Sea Mother is all-important in kuo-toan society, and kuo-toa clerics and monks wield virtually unchallenged power over the rest of the race. Kuo-toas get along reasonably well with most other Underdark races (except aboleths), and they travel widely as traders, pilgrims, and guides.
The strongest kuo-toan city remaining in Faerun's Underdark is Sloopdilmonpolop, which lies in Old Shanatar. Kuo-toas generally keep to the saltwater seas of the Underdark, leaving the freshwater lakes to the aboleths.

Like the stone giants or fomorians, maurs are not common, but where they walk, lesser folk get out of the way. Descendents of storm giants that were imprisoned deep in the earth long ago for some forgotten crime, maurs are unusual among Middledark races in that they are not malicious, predatory slaveholders. Some maurs are as wicked as any fomorian, of course, but not for the most part, these ruined giants want nothing more than to be left alone by their neighbors.

Mind Flayers
After the drow, the mind flayers are probably the most powerful, notorious, and sinister of the Underdark's peoples. Illithid cities tend to be quite small by the standards of other races--few of them number more than 500 mind flayers. However, since illithids are uniquely well suited to hold great numbers of slaves and thralls, mind flayer cities may have ten times as many slaves as illithids. Unlike slaves of the drow or duergar, illithid thralls are compelled to absolute loyalty and zeal in the service of their horrid masters. The mind flayers can field entire armies of thralls whenever they wish and hurl them into battle without concern for their loyalty or fighting spirit.
The mind flayers prefer the lower reaches of the Middledark, but they also have numerous communities in the Lowerdark. The might city of Oryndoll is the most famous of their realms.

Stronger, smarter, and more advanced than their surface kin, the deep orcs are well suited for the fierce competition of the Underdark. Orog cities are not numerous, but they can be found throughout the northerly reaches of the Underdark, from the Spine of the World all the way to the Icerim Mountains. Orogs favor volcanic regions, so they tend to found cities in torrid caverns too hostile for creatures without fire resistance to endure.

Umber Hulks
Although umber hulks are sentient, they are nomadic hunters that build no cities and manufacture no tools. Their claws and mandibles are more than sufficient for their purposes. Among the most common of the Underdark's monsters, umber hulks fearlessly attack almost anything they meet, relying on their confusing gaze to scatter or paralyze most of their foes.

Pech, also known as rock children, are a race of small, neutral good humanoids from the Elemental Plane of Earth. They sometimes make their way into the deepest reaches of the lower Underdark to mine rich veins of ore and work the surrounding stone. They are very thin, with long arms and legs and broad hands and feet. Their flesh is nearly as hard as granite, colored pale and yellowish with red or reddish- brown hair. Their eyes are large and have no pupils. Pech often compete with dao, the various dwarven races, and thaalud for raw materials, but these elemental earthkin are otherwise left alone by the other races they encounter.

Denizens of the Lowerdark
No place on Toril is as strange and dangerous as the Lowerdark. This level of the Underdark extends from 10 miles below the surface to unfathomable depths and features a degree of strangeness that would drive some surface dwellers insane. Few upper-worlders ever descend to the Lowerdark, and few of the Lowerdark's denizens want anything to do with the surface world. Some of the creatures in the Lowerdark--intelligent or otherwise--aren't even aware of a surface world; others have heard of it but consider it a mythical place.

Why would any creature with intelligence or common sense live in such a terrible environment? Some races have lived here for generation upon generation, and the Lowerdark is simply their home. Other creatures settle here to take advantage of the Lowerdark's unique magical properties, rare ores, or shelter from the hated sun. Still others view a sojourn in the Lowerdark as a temporary solution, since the dead magic areas and hostile territory may be a wanted criminal's most expedient means of avoiding capture.
Of course, not everyone is in the Lowerdark by choice. Some unfortunates are here because they neglected to research the destinations of the portals through which they ventured. Others have been exiled here from communities in the Middledark, the Upperdark, or even the surface world. Some drow matrons get rid of potentially problematic subordinates by sending them on exploratory or expansionistic raiding parties into the Lowerdark. A triumphant scout returning from the mission into the depths might find her unexpected survival fatally inconvenient to the matron who dispatched her.

Several Middledark races make frequent forays into the Lowerdark. Some do so because of expansionistic desires, others because they need the resources, and a scant few because they have something to prove. Grimlocks and orogs often set a coming-of-age trial for their young warriors to mark the passage between adolescence and adulthood. In a typical version of such a trial, the youth is sent into the Lowerdark, sometimes armed only with a dagger, and told to return with a trophy demonstrating his competence and ability to contribute to the community.
Interspecies and intraspecies strife is the rule in the Lowerdark. Resources are minimal, and weakness invites extermination. Most of the Lowerdark's denizens are chaotic, evil, or both. Even the vermin and animals encountered in this area are rarely ordinary--many have been transfigured by crossbreeding or magical interference. Nothing here is normal or simple.

An aboleth resembles an enormous, prehistoric fish, measuring some 20 feet in length from snout to tail, with four 10-foot-long tentacles sprouting from behind its massive head. Its rubbery skin is blue-green with regular gray splotches running along its sides. The pink belly of the creature is interrupted by a lampreylike mouth and four pulsating organs that secrete a foul-smelling gray slime.
Aboleths are both cruel and highly intelligent, making them very dangerous predators. They know many ancient and terrible secrets, for they inherit their parents' knowledge at birth and assimilate the memories of all they consume.
These horrible aberrations lurk in the deepest, blackest waters of the Underdark, surrounded by legions of thralls (often sahuagin). Given their extraordinary intelligence and powerful magical abilities, the aboleths are the unquestioned masters of most Lowerdark lakes and seas. While some aboleth cities are quite large, small outposts (or "broodholds") of a dozen or so outposts are much more common.

Anguiliians are deep-dwelling, lawful evil relatives of the sahuagin, resembling a cross between a man and an eel. While most anguiliians live in the sunless depths of the oceans, a few have made their way into the flooded tunnels of the Underdark that open to the Abyssal trenches of the Sea of Fallen Stars and the depths of the outer oceans.

Thankfully few in number, the avolakias are master necromancers and shapechangers. In its true form, an avolakia is a 10-foot monstrosity combining insectile, octopoid, and wormlike features. Devoted to the elevation of deities of decay and undeath (including Ghaunadaur and Velsharoon, among others), an avolakia nest is surrounded by a shambling army of undead under the monsters' control. Avolakias occasionally ally with aboleths or mind flayers, but they regard humanoids of any sort as nothing more than fodder for creating more undead.

The beholder is the stuff of nightmares. This creature, also called the "sphere of many eyes" or "eye tyrant," is known among adventurers as a deadly adversary. Beholders are hateful, aggressive, and avaricious, attacking or dominating others whenever they can get away with it. They exhibit a xenophobic intolerance, hating all creatures not like themselves. The basic body type comprises a great variety of beholder subspecies. A difference as small as hide color or size of the central eye can make two groups of beholders sworn enemies, as every beholder declares its own unique form to be the "true ideal of beholderhood".
The Lowerdark is home to numerous hives of these creatures. Each of these bizarre cities can house hundreds of eye tyrants and thousands of slaves. Like mind flayers, beholders can magically compel loyalty from their thralls, and they believe that their natural role in the scheme of things is tyranny over lesser beings.
The city of Xonox, beneath the Lake of Steam, is an excellent example of a beholder realm.

Cloakers are bizarre creatures that lurk in dark places far beneath the surface. They kill intruders without remorse or pause, except to plan cruel amusement. Cloakers pursue their own mysterious goals. While they are certainly intelligent, their minds work in a way so alien that few if any human beings have ever been able to make meaningful contact with them.
While often encountered as small bands in higher portions of the Underdark, cloakers gather into great convocations in a few places in the Middledark and Lowerdark. Taking into account their univeral hostility to all other beings, their teeming cities are no place for travelers to visit.

These horrible creatures give birth to monstrosities of all sorts, surrounding themselves with armies of their spawned minions. Deepspawn are found in all portions of the Underdark, but the largest, most wicked, and most fecund of the species seem to hail from the Lowerdark.

Murderous and cruel, the derro--or deep dwarves--are found at all depths of the Underdark. At the upper levels, they tend to live in small bands within the cities of other races, such as the duergar, fomorians, or kuo-toas. The true cities and strongholds of the derro are buried deep in the Lowerdark. From time to time, the derro muster their strength to fight great wars against all other creatures in the Underdark, swarming up from their hidden realms to plunder any realm unfortunate enough to be in their path.

The desmodus--a race of batlike humanoids--are perhaps the only denizens of the Lowerdark that are actually good in alignment. The desmodus do not gather in great cities or strongholds; instead they live in small families and clans scattered throughout the Lowerdark. Even with their generally benevolent outlook, however, the desmodus do not take kindly to strangers raiding their food stores or water supplies.

Elemental creatures and creatures with elemental heritage (such as genasi) generally do well in the Lowerdark. In particular, earth elementals and dust, earth, and salt mephits find the deep underground to be an ideal environment. Fire elementals, thoqqua, azer, salamanders and fire, magma, and steam mephits love Lowerdark regions with active volcanoes. Water elementals and water mephits occupy some of the sunless lakes and seas, while ooze mephits lurk at their fringes. Air elementals and air mephits are scarcer than other varieties, but some can be found near portals to the Elemental Plane of Air.

Extraplanar Creatures
Portals in the Lowerdark open into almost every plane of existence. Often these portals are not marked or maintained, but just because the Faerun side of the portal has fallen out of use does not mean that these doorways go unremarked at their destinations. Lone fiends such as bebiliths or hellcats often find the hunting better on the Material Plane than in their home realms, and some end up staying.
Other outsiders sometimes use these portals to raid Toril. Demons, devils, and other types of outsiders use Lowerdark portals of varying agest to facilitate their travels.

Wormlike monsters with powerful psionic abilities, psurlons in the deep Underdark gather into communities known as clusters. Like beholders and mind flayers, they often dominate hundreds of useful thralls and set these unfortunate slaves to whatever tasks the psurlons deem needful at the time.

Also known as "tomb tappers" for their habit of burrowing up to plunder tombs and temples, thaalud appear as tall, naked, sexless, hairless humanoids with hard, smooth, bluegray skin. Their claws can dig through solid rock, and great toothed mouths sit in their bellies. Their featureless heads earn them the nickname "the faceless."
Thaalud turn to stone when slain, leading sages to believe they were created originally from rock. They hold both magic and earth elementals to be sacred and are very longlived. Tomb tappers were created during the Shadowed Age of Netheril to seek the source of the drain on magic that was spreading across the land. Thaalud are found in the northern reaches of the upper and middle Underdark, particularly in and around the Buried Realms beneath Anauroch. Thaalud will aid svirfneblin and dwarves, dislike drow and duergar, hate umber hulks (sometimes enslaving them at birth), mutually ignore xorn, and are bitter foes of illithids and the phaerimm.

Because many undead creatures need no water, food, air, or sustenance of any kind to survive, many of them find the Lowerdark almost hospitable. Liches are particularly common here, since they have no need to prey on the living and find that the Underdark offers blessed solitude for their sinister studies. Some of the mightiest liches eventually found small realms or kingdoms here. Such a kingdom could consist of hundreds or even thousands of mindless undead laborers and soldiers, led by creatures such as mummies, wraiths, and even the occasional vampire (though vampires would fare better in cities full of the living for obvious reasons).

Blue Ring Octopi
Blue ring octopi are very intelligent, shy, neutral good octopi who dwell in the cracks and crevices of the Underdark's oceans, constantly struggling to escape the notice of more powerful aquatic races. Blue ring octopi are covered with hundreds of blue circles, have large golden eyes and a greenish-brown beak, and can change their skin color from dark grayish brown to dirty white, similar to other species of octopi in surface saltwater oceans.
A few blue ring octopi have rings of oxblood red. These red shamans can cast priest spells, although no one knows what deity they venerate.

Varkha are brutal, subterranean, lawful evil lizardmen dwelling in closeknit tribes in moist caverns in the deepest reaches of the lower Underdark. Varkha are skilled hunters with large, photosensitive eyes set on the sides of their heads, much like frogs. They possess a connective layer of webbing beneath their armpits that facilitates swimming in underground lakes and rivers.

Page Last Updated May 28th, 2005


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Underdark Races

Postby Coronoides »

Many D&D worlds have massive deep systems of caves, mines and tunnels. Some even have a fully fledged continent spanning Underdark like Faerun. My current D&D 5e campaign is Out of The Abyss. the campaign now at its 34th session began as a test bed for my race design system (as was the [Green Isles]). See link in signature for race design rules book. Every session half of the PCs are WOTC canon races and the other half my own creations. Every so often I get the urge and create another race. This thread will share some of these with you.
Please leave feedback and critiques especially if you try them at your own table.
Most will be in abbreviated short form. Some will come complete with fluff. Some will have had up to four years of play testing others will be still hot from the oven. Feedback on the new designs is especially welcome.

Star Rating
Non-canon races have a star rating, like hotels. This does NOT reflect balance, all should be of equal power when at the same total level. The star rating shows how sure I am of the evidence used to build the race’s most experimental trait. Ratings are:
No stars: Flawed. No races presented have this rating.
* Experimental
** Play test
*** Typical
**** Safe
***** Canon

Dwarf, Deep
***1/2 Medium Humanoid (Dwarf) speed 25
This has not been play tested yet but since the traits used are not experimental at all and it is a sub-race of the canon Dwarf it should not be a problem at your table.
Languages: Common, Dwarvish, Undercommon,
Apply Dwarf racial attribute adjustments then apply the following: CON +1, CHA-1.
Traits: are a subrace of dwarf and therefore have all the dwarf core traits. Immune to poison damage. Darkvision 90 feet. Advantage on Wisdom (Survival) checks when underground. Advantage on CON and WIS saves against magic. Proficient in light and medium armour.
Lesser traits: Sunlight Sensitivity as per Duergar.
Notes: Deep dwarves first appeared in “The Complete Book of Dwarves” for AD&D 2e. They are an isolationist and xenophobic but Neutral aligned sub-race dwelling in hidden corners of the Underdark.

Dwarf, Derro
This has not been play tested yet but since it is a sub-race of the canon Dwarf should not be a problem for groups who can handle a little RP chaos.
**1/2 (play test) Small Humanoid (Derro) raise Speed to 30
Languages: Undercommon, Common, and Dwarvish.
Apply Dwarf racial attribute adjustments then apply the following: STR-1, Dex +2, Wisdom -4, CHA -1.
Traits: Derro are a subrace of dwarf and therefore have all the dwarf core traits except instead of the usual dwarf weapons they are proficient in hooked spear and light repeating crossbow. These weapons are usually only for sale in Derro settlements. Change Size to Small, magic resistance, Obsessed: gain proficiency in one Intelligence skill, Raving: the mad ravings of the Derro are very distracting the effect is mechanically the same as the Kobold’s Grovel, Cower, and Beg (VGM119).
Lesser Traits 4: Increase the range of your Darkvision to 120ft, Insanity: you have advantage on saves against charm or fright, sunlight sensitivity, and extra language (see above).
Notes: Madness: all Derro are insane. Rather than the usual flaws by background describe an insanity as your flaw.
The following new weapons are available at Derro settlements.
Derro Hooked Spear: 5gp 2 Lb, light, no extra reach, not versatile, 1d4 piercing, if the target is a creature the user can do no damage and instead try to trip DC8+prof+STR, if the target fails they fall prone. Cannot be thrown. Martial melee weapon.
Derro Repeating Crossbow: 50gp 5 Lb, 1d8 piercing, ranged (40/160), ammunition (bolts). Cartridge holds 6 bolts. Reloading the cartridge takes an action even if you have a spare cartridge. Martial ranged weapon.

Jermlaine *1/2 (PART 1)
“The plan was simple, take a war party, cut across the little-travelled rat caves to attack the mountain dwarves from beneath. But it wasn’t just rats living off the detritus cast down from the mountain’s halls. After nets and a barrage of darts, tens of jinxkin and hundreds of rats poured out of rat-holes in the walls and fell on us from above. Soon only a handful of our seasoned war-party was left. We fought our way free of those noisome caves and returned to Gracklstugh in disgrace” – Duergar Harzak of Clan Zrakhelm
This is a brand-new race in full detail I spat out this weekend (EDIT and has now had a couple of sessions of intense play testing) but would appreciate any further thoughts from the community here.
This article requires the D&D 5th Edition Player’s Handbook (PHB). An optional feat herein requires Mordenkainen’s Fiendish Folio Volume 1. Both titles Wizards of the Coast (WOTC). This article copyright Karl David Brown 2020.
Jermlaine are terribly viscous and strong for their tiny size. They dwell with rats and mice in networks of tunnels hidden from other humanoids until the jermlaine see a clear advantage then they boil out of their holes to slay and pillage.
Tiny but Leathery
Jermlaine, also called jinxkin or bane-midges. The plural of jermlaine is jermlaine. They are tiny humanoids with loose folds of leathery greyish-tan warty skin reminiscent of an elephant. Coins, vials, and other small objects can be hidden in the skin folds. They have large pointed ears and large noses on their bald pointy heads. Males do not have facial hair. Under the skin is a sturdy frame and strong wiry muscles. Most are filthy and dress only scavenged scraps of earth-tone rags. Their voices are high pitched and sound like the squeaks of rats to those not listening carefully. Their eyes have large pupils and irises are black, brown, or occasionally red.
Hidden Hate
Due to a history of being hunted by others as vermin or for their valuable skins, patient hate has become the core of most jermlaine personalities. They are slow to form alliances with other races and respond to insults by patiently plotting a viscous revenge; humiliating, maiming, or killing depending on the severity of the insult. Most revel in feeling powerful when humiliating larger creatures. Jinxkin prefer to wait and scheme until the odds are in their favor. Attacking foes in their sleep is a favored tactic but the use of traps, flaming oil, acid, and missile weapons are also frequently employed. They prefer ambush en masse but once battle begins their hate can make them fearless, even reckless.
Rat-hole mazes
Jinxkin have a symbiotic relationship with rodents. The combination of rodent numbers and jermlaine cunning is necessary for the survival of both species among the dangerous predators of the Underdark. The rodents perform the same duties as dogs in human cultures. Giant rats also serve as mounts. However, the rodents are not domesticated, they are equals, wild and free. Jermlaines do eat rodent meat and use rodent skins but only after the rodent has died of nautual causes or in battle. They never kill rodents themselves.
Jermlaine clans and their rat allies dig out mazes of tiny tunnels about one foot across where larger races cannot reach them. Entrances to the tunnels are carefully hidden. Deep inside home chambers several feet across contain crude furniture, junk, and stolen goods. There are also tiny workshops where crude household goods, darts, pikes and ‘swords’ (daggers) are manufactured.
From their tiny tunnels jermlaine creep out to hunt and gather insects, carrion, small lizards, and fungus. However, when they have a clear advantage jinxkin will hunt larger prey emerging from rat holes on all sides to overwhelm their victim. The larger passages near the colony that are rarely travelled are rigged with covered pits, drop nets, and trip lines to snare incautious big folk.
Rovers, thieves, and avengers
Most jinxkin never leave the secure tunnels of their colony. However, rare brave lone travelers known as ‘rovers’ are respected members of their culture because they are the only source of news, gossip, and trade between jermlaine clans. Rovers use giant rats as both mounts and beasts of burden. Young jermlaine with wanderlust become apprentices to rovers.
Jermlaine clans used to sometimes form alliances with thieves’ guilds and were rats. These clans often produced rogues who pulled off heists with larger criminals. However, after jermlaine skins became valuable these alliances became quite rare.
Other jermlaine don’t decide to become adventurers, it is a fate thrust upon them. Some stumble upon kindness from a larger person and begin to question their people’s culture of hatred. Cunning jinxkin might join a band of adventurers as a deception that enables then to spy on the hated big folk, but what happens when they see some big folk are not the monsters of their childhood tales? Still others are survivors of a recent harvest sworn to vengeance on the researcher who killed their colony, teaming up with adventurers against an evil wizard is a good way to swing the odds in your favor.
Vermin raised to hate
Jermalaine refer to any race larger than themselves as ‘giants’. The evil races that dominate the Underdark view jermlaines as vermin to be rooted out and killed. It is unsurprising then that jermlaine assume that ‘giants’ are hostile enemies. A century ago it was discovered that it is the Jermlaine’s skin renders them invisible to darkvision. Researchers began harvesting jermlaine skins in unsuccessful attempts to produce magical clothing. Where most peoples would have learned to fear larger intruders the jermlaine responded to these atrocities with increased cruelty of their own. Generation after generation jermlaine are raised in the belief that all ‘giants’ are cruel enemies worthy only of hate. All are trained from childhood to fight ‘giants’ and participate in the humiliation of victims. Of the adults all are expected to participate in attacking ‘giants’ who trespass. Only the elderly, pregnant, and those caring for infants are excused. Slain ‘giants’ provide coins, gems, and other small plunder as well as meat. Other victims are knocked out and tied up to be humiliated as a warning to others. Typical treatments include being stripped and shaved, having poison fungi rubbed into the skin, being finger-painted with crude rude pictures, or watching prized possessions destroyed. The hair of these victims is used to craft ropes and nets. Despite this animosity, jermlaine do sometimes form alliances with thieves’ guilds or clans of were rats.
Player character jermlaine are usually those that have observed that not all ‘giants’ are terrible monsters.
Jermlaine Names
Jermlaine live in clans of four to sixteen families each. Jermlaine names are suited to their high-pitched voices. Unlike other cultures, individual names are all used equally by males and females. Individual names have no translation they are just traditional sounds. Family names are usually personality traits. Clan names are often taken from the most common rodent within the colony or its location. They often translate these names for victims to show off their viscous natures.
Individual names: Breekee, Dees, Dez, Ejiz, Eek, Iss, Itz, Jik, Jeej, Keek, Kez, Niz, Niz-niz, Nez, Neej, Queesp, Skeeble, Skee-skee, Skit, Seez, Squee, Squee-squee, Tik, Teesk Vek, Vitz, Zeez.
Family names: Angry, Belligerent, Callous, Deetevji, Ezskeeti, Fierce, Ikteejit, Kijkeezek, Lesktikz, Merciless, Persistent, Raging, Savage, Setijeesk, Tijteek, Unforgiving, Unrelenting, Vicious, Wrathful.
Clan names: Black Rat, Brain Rat, Brown Rat, Eeskitzee, Drow Ruin, Field Mouse, Great Rat, Ijskeekzet, Jeskeetev, Longtail, Osquip, Riverbank, Sewer, Stonebiter, Sturdy Hampster, Water Rat, White Belly, White Rat.
Jermlaine Traits
Level Adjustment 0, Joining Level 5. Jermlaine cannot join an adventuring party until 5th level but do so with 5 levels. Jermlaine Blindsight is too powerful during the first tier of play and numerous other traits were priced during the design process as being delayed until 4th or 5th level.
Ability score adjustments: STR -5, DEX +1, CON +1, CHA -2. Strength must be at least 2 but no more than 8. This replaces the usual cap of 20 for strength. This means that for standard array or point buy an 8, 9, 10, 11 or 12 must be assigned to strength.
Age: Jinxkin reach adulthood around three years of age. Those that survive die of old age at around thirty-five years. Clans are led by a council of elders who vote in a chief from within their ranks.
Alignment: A history of persecution has given rise to a culture of hatred that permeates jermlaine society. Most are neutral evil. Those that favour schemes and planning drift into Lawful Evil. Those that become consumed with reckless hate and the humiliation of others wander into Chaotic Evil. Player character jermlaine can be any alignment.
Size: Jermlaine are 9 to 15 inches high and mass between 3 and 8 pounds. Male and female Jermlaine have the same range of height and weight. Jermlaines are Tiny Humanoids. The usual rules for Tiny PCs apply (see appendix).
Speed: The high power to weight of jermlaine makes them very fast for their size. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.
Underdark senses: Darkvision 30 feet. Your other senses, especially hearing and smell, are sensitive providing Blindsight 60 feet at 5th level. Player character jermlaine have Keen Smell and Hearing providing advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks based on these senses.
Lurker in the Dark: Proficient in the Stealth skill at 4th level. At 5th level you are Invisible to darkvision.
Magic resistance: You have advantage on all saving throws against magic.
Disease Immunity: You are immune to non-magical diseases. Jermlaine often eat rotting food, or carrion.
Exceptional individual: choose feat at 4th level. This feat may be the Swarm Leader feat described below.
Jermlaine weapons training: Proficient in the use of medium size clubs with two hands; Strength modifier to hit and damage does apply. Use of medium sized darts Dexterity modifier to hit and damage does apply. To throw a dart the Jermlaine needs two free hands, one to throw the other to counter-balance or brace, preventing the use of the other hand for spellcasting or other actions until the start of the jermlaine’s next turn. You also gain proficiency in Jermlaine sized pikes. Jermlaine used oversized quivers on their backs to carry 4 darts (same mass and cost as a human’s quiver). Jermlaine unarmed strikes do one bludgeoning damage to tiny foes and zero damage to larger creatures, strength modifier is not applied to their unarmed attack rolls or damage.
Rodent Friend: Can communicate with rats, mice, giant rats, osquips, and other rodent beasts. You are proficient in the Animal Handling skill. If a class or feat feature grants a Medium or smaller beast companion of at least ¼ challenge, such as Ranger Companion, then the Jermaline may choose a rat swarm instead. The swarm always moves and acts as a swarm, never splitting into individual rats. Note that a swarm does not heal but when lost or dismissed can be replaced as per the granting feat or feature.
Languages: Common and Undercommon. Most casual conversion between Jermlaine is conducted using the squeaks they use to talk to rats.
Jermlaine Flaws
You can use these flaws instead of those suggested for your background or make up your own.
Roll 1d6.
1 I have a sweet tooth and can be bribed with sugar, candy, and fruit.
2 I never trust anyone taller than myself, that’s almost everyone.
3 The pitch of my squeaky voice is especially annoying to bigger folk.
4 Without allies to support me I’m a coward.
5 I steal coins, gems, and other small shiny objects, even shiny junk.
6 Never trust a wizard, as soon as you do they’ll skin you alive.
Jermlaine Racial Feats
Squat Nimbleness
Jermlaine may take this feat from Xanathar’s Guide to Everything.

Swarm Leader Feat
Requirements: Jermlaine race, 5th level or higher, Charisma 10 or higher.
• You may add 1d4 to your weapon damage when another conscious jermlaine is within 5 feet of you.
• +1 one to either strength, dexterity, or charisma.
• You attract a single typical jermlaine as a follower (MFFV11) who arrives with a club and a quiver of four darts. At 11th level you have two jermlaine followers and at 17th level three. Add your proficiency bonus instead of the followers’ to their attack rolls if they can see or hear you. Like all creatures the followers can spend hit dice during a short rest to regain hit points. The jermlaine try to follow your orders. They can search, stand watch, sneak about and perform other non-combat tasks like any other NPC. In combat they act on your initiative and you can verbally order them move (no action required by you). When you order it, they will take the attack, dash, disengage, dodge or help actions. They will also attack when you take the attack action if you wish but only make one attack each even if you have the extra attacks feature. If you are incapacitated or absent, the followers act on their own to protect you and themselves. They don’t care about anyone else. The followers also don’t need commands from you to use reactions such as attacks of opportunity. If any jermlaine are lost returning to the Underdark or a rat-infested town, city, or region will allow you to find one replacement jermlaine follower for every 8 hours spent searching.

Jermlaine Alternate Background Feature
You may replace the usual feature from your background with the one below.
Jermlaine Rover: You are welcome among jermlaine clans and rodent colonies. You can find a place to hide, rest, or recuperate among rodents or jermlaine unless you have shown yourself to be a danger to them. They will shield you from big folk and other predators, though they will not risk their lives for you.

Jermlaine Design Notes
Jermlaine first appeared in D1 Descent into the Depths of the Earth then later in the AD&D 1e Fiend Folio. They were even described as a PC race for AD&D in Dragon Magazine issue 242. This race is based on the D&D 5e version of the monster from Mordenkainen’s Fiendish Folio Volume 1 (WOTC) rounded out with details from the AD&D 2e Monstrous Compendium (TSR), The Ecology of the Jermlaine from Dragon Issue 262 (Jonathan M. Richards), and Dragon Magazine 242 (Roger Moore). Where sources disagree the 5th edition description was favored. Certainly, the contradictory origin stories for this race are deliberately not mentioned here. The classic shtick of the race is that they are tiny and swarm over foes with their rodent allies. The Swarm Leader feat and Rodent Friend feature are designed to capture the tiny mob aspect of the monster. The Swarm Leader feat was designed to reflect the value of a damaging power, the followers’ hit points, and minor uses such as Perception checks. The wording of the feat is modelled after that of the Ranger Companion feature. However, these followers do not have all the benefits of a Ranger Companion and they can attack if you take the attack action (the total DPR was accounted for when designing the feat).

More races and more on Jermlaine to come!

Last edited by Coronoides on Sun Aug 30, 2020 12:04 am, edited 2 times in total.

5e Council of Wyrms! with dragon PCs compatible with other settings. Book 1 https://www.dropbox.com/s/cmab39ce8p5vc ... 210609.pdf Book 2 https://www.dropbox.com/s/c0zjp7d2mtfwe ... 300620.pdf.
Designer of: 5e Race Design, Jermlaine D&D 5e Race, Pixie & Sprite 5e Race https://www.dmsguild.com/browse.php?au ... id%20Brown
And Gulliver’s Trading Company.

Sours: https://www.thepiazza.org.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?t=24949
D\u0026D Lore - Races of the Underdark

Other Underdark Races

While creatures such as drow, grimlocks, and svirfneblin are the most prevalent and iconic of the Underdark races, many other intelligent creatures also inhabit the Realms Below. Some are so alien and bizarre that it would be difficult to imagine playing one as a character, while others are simply so powerful that they are suitable only for the highest levels of play.

Other major races


The races presented here are reasonably humanoid in form and could fit in with an Underdark-themed campaign relatively easily.

Of the races noted below, the orog and tanarukk are described in the FORGOTTEN REALMS sourcebook Races of Faerûn. Also see the derro, mind flayer, minotaur, and troglodyte, quaggoth.

The table below lists the starting Hit Dice, level adjustment, and favored class for each of these monstrous races. A general description of each race and its effective character level (ECL) is below.

RaceStarting Hit DiceLevel AdjustmentFavored Class
Mind flayer8d8+7Wizard
Orogby class+2Fighter

Derro (ECL 4)

Derro are widespread and likely to be found in small bands almost anywhere. Derro warrens exist in the middle of many drow and duergar cities, and independent derro holds fester in the darkest reaches of the Realms Below. Scouts and marauder of this race scour the tunnels near their settlements in search of unwary victims to enslave and torment.

Clever, stealthy, and murderously insane, derro are not likely to take up adventuring for its own sake. However, it is not uncommon for a solitary derro to devote herself to some strange quest, such as collecting particular sorts of gemstones for some fanciful magic device or slaying as many creatures of a particular race as possible. Other derro are assigned to specific missions by the powerful savants of their race. Such mission-driven derro might attach themselves to any convenient band of comrades to accomplish their irrational goals.

Mind Flayer (ECL 15)

Illithids hunger for knowledge, and many of them travel widely in search of arcane secrets and lost lore. They explore forgotten tombs, spy out the ways of other races, and plunder the magical storehouses of their rivals - the same sorts of activities that surface adventurers delving into the Underdark generally pursue.

Cold, calculating, and completely self-serving, illithids make dangerous allies and unreliable companions. Few mind flayers regard any cause or comrade as worth dying for. Due to their diet, if nothing else, most mind flayers are simply incapable of becoming truly good, but the occasional exceptional individual who restricts its feeding to the brains of nonsentient creatures might become neutral, or possibly even good in extreme cases.

Orogs (ECL 3)

The orogs, or deep orcs, are warlike beings who rival dwarves in their skill at making weapons and other machines of war. Unlike their surface orc kin, orogs gather in great cities and consider themselves a martial race, not a savage one. Isolated orog cities are often found in volcanic areas, since the deep orcs are inured to extremes of temperature and favor thermally active sites for their mighty forges.

Orogs are cruel, strong, and domineering, but not nearly as sadistic as the derro or as universally hostile to other creatures as the mind flayers or the troglodytes. Therefore, orogs tend to take up adventuring fairly often. Strong and skilled in battle, an orog mercenary has little difficulty finding work in the Underdark. Orogs are nothing if not courageous, and they can be counted upon to strive tirelessly toward any goal they deem worth achieving.

Minotaurs (ECL 8)

With the exception of the vast region known as the Labyrinth, minotaurs control few realms of their own in the Underdark. Most are found elsewhere, often serving as marauders, mercenaries, and slaves in the great drow and duergar cities. Minotaurs tend to be cruel, dimwitted, and violent, but they are loyal to their comrades and fearless in battle.

A minotaur adventurer can travel freely through the domains of most Underdark races, selling his sword to the highest bidder. Minotaurs who turn to good often strive to break the power of slaveholding races and fight furiously for the emancipation of captives.

Quaggoths (ECL 5)

Feral bands of quaggoths haunt many of the lonelier portions of the Underdark, existing as roving bands of marauders who prey on anything they can catch. Bloodthirsty and savage, quaggoths can descend into a screaming animal frenzy at the slightest provocation, losing any semblance of reason until they destroy (or are destroyed by) whatever foe they happen to encounter.

Like minotaurs, quaggoths are frequently found as slaves and warriors in the cities of more civilized folk. Quaggoth mercenaries can find work almost anywhere. While few actually become adventurers, some have risen above the bloodlust and senseless violence of their kin to become the stalwart companions of adventuring parties. Good quaggoths often pit themselves against the tyranny of those evil races that hold their kinfolk in slavery.

Tanarukks (ECL 8)

Planetouched creatures bred from orcs and demons, tanarukks are strong, hardy, and fierce in battle. Most tanarukks in the Underdark are found in the North, amid the ruins of the ancient dwarven realm of Ammarindar. Thousands of these creatures make up the iron-fisted heart of Kaanyr Vhok's Scoured Legion, a fierce army that has yet to taste defeat in the endless feuds and skirmishes of the Underdark.

Tanarukks often strike out on their own as adventurers, hoping to make a place for themselves by dint of their fighting skill and ruthlessness. They favor settling in orog and orc settlements, where their heritage is an advantage rather than a drawback, but tanarukks can be found as elite bodyguards to drow nobles, mind flayer merchants, and demon warlords.

Troglodytes (ECL 4)

Loathsome and repulsive, troglodytes are universally disliked by all other Underdark races. Because of their ferocity in battle, however, troglodyte skirmishers and raiders often find employment in the House armies of drow cities or as mercenaries in the service of other races. Troglodytes view other creatures as either "tribemates" or "meat." Thus, they rarely remain loyal to an ally or employer for longer than it takes to fill their bellies and sate their lust for blood and treasure.

Like the svirfneblin, troglodytes often know little-used ways through the Underdark and can be extremely capable guides. Few travelers, however, care to follow where troglodytes are likely to lead.

Races of Faerûn
Character Creation

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5e underdark races


The Underdark is a fictional setting which has appeared in Dungeons & Dragons role-playing campaigns and Dungeons & Dragons-based fiction books, including the Legend of Drizzt series by R. A. Salvatore. It is described as a vast subterranean network of interconnected caverns and tunnels, stretching beneath entire continents and forming an underworld for surface settings. Polygon called it "one of D&D's most well-known realms".[1]

Use in campaign settings[edit]

The Underdark featured prominently in the campaign settingsWorld of Greyhawk[2] and the Forgotten Realms.[3] The concept of a dungeon that spanned a planet was first introduced by Gary Gygax in his D-series of game modules[4] and at the end of the G-series. The Underdark was described in detail in the 1986 manual Dungeoneer's Survival Guide, by Doug Niles.[5] It was also part of the Eberron campaign setting, in which it was called Khyber and was home to evil beings driven deep into the caverns at the end of the age of demons.[6]

A review for Pyramid refers to the Underdark as "one of the most well known facets of the Forgotten Realms".[7] Much of the literary attention for this deep underworld stemmed from the sourcebooks and accessories for the Forgotten Realms setting, including R.A. Salvatore's novels about the fictional character Drizzt Do'Urden.[3]

The Underdark was also the setting for the expansion pack to the computer game Neverwinter Nights called Hordes of the Underdark, which featured the port city of Lith My'athar, and the mysterious Seer.[8]


The Underdark is "a vast subterranean realm inhabited by drow, mind flayers, aboleth, and other strange, sinister creatures. It is a place where few humans go and from where even fewer return".[5] It extends well past the dungeons made by surface dwellers, encompassing myriad caverns, tunnels and complexes.[7]


The fictional Underdark's physical characteristics are based upon conditions in real-world caverns deep underground, except at immense size. Within the context of a game, the Underdark is extremely dangerous, especially to non-native characters and creatures. There are also the usual dangers associated with caverns: claustrophobia, poor air circulation, floor/ceiling collapses and getting lost.

There is no light except for occasional patches of phosphorescent fungus; most Underdark inhabitants either have highly developed senses other than sight or have developed darkvision.[note 1] Food can be extremely difficult to find, and much of the natural vegetation is poisonous. In addition, potable water is hard to locate.

In the Forgotten Realms setting, the Underdark is permeated with a magical energy the drow call faerzress, which is used as a source of energy by the native plant life and which interferes with scrying and teleportation spells.


In the Forgotten Realms setting, Araumycos (Dwarvish, literally meaning "Great Fungus") is an enormous fungal growth in the Upper Underdark under the continent of Faerûn. It is a single organism living beneath the High Forest between one and three miles under the surface, immune to magic and resistant to psionic energy. Araumycos will sometimes attack intruders with poison, spores, and manifestations that resemble oozes and slimes.[3]

Araumycos houses many other fungal creatures. Travel within it is difficult since many passages and caves are blocked by it and damage regenerates quickly.[3]


The Underdark is home to many predators, races and fantasy monsters, most of which are hostile. These include:

There is no unified underground government since each individual city-state has a different form of rule. The Underdark economy deals primarily in armor, exotic goods, magic, slaves, timber and weapons. The ethical code of many indigenous races tends toward evil or neutral.

In the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, R.A. Salvatore created the drowUnderdark city Menzoberranzan.[9]


Source books[edit]

  • Wyatt, James (September 2002). City of the Spider Queen. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN .
  • Boyd, Eric L. (November 1999). Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark. TSR, Inc.ISBN .
  • Greenwood, Ed (July 1991). The Drow of the Underdark. TSR, Inc. ISBN .
  • Wyatt, James (2007). Lost Caverns of the Underdark. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN .
  • Greenwood, Ed; Niles, Douglas; Salvatore, R. A. (December 1992). Menzoberranzan. TSR, Inc. ISBN .
  • Cordell, Bruce R.; Kestrel, Gwendolyn F. M.; Quick, Jeff (2003). Underdark. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN .
  • Heinsoo, Rob; Collins, Andy (2010). Underdark. D&D 4th edition supplement. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN .[4]

Game modules[edit]

  • Gygax, Gary (1978). Descent into the Depths of the Earth (9059 ed.). TSR, Inc. ISBN .
  • Sargent, Carl (1995). Night Below: An Underdark Campaign. TSR, Inc. ISBN .
  • Sutherland III, David C; Gygax, Gary (1980). Queen of the Demonweb Pits. TSR, Inc. ISBN .
  • Gygax, Gary (1978). Vault of the Drow (9021 ed.). TSR, Inc. ISBN .

Computer games[edit]

Part of Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn took place in the Underdark,[10] and Icewind Dale II featured journeys through the Underdark. An expansion pack based on the Underdark setting was released for the Neverwinter Nights game series, titled Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark. The tilesets which came with the Hordes of the Underdark expansion pack were used in several persistent worlds, most notably Escape from the Underdark.

See also[edit]


  1. ^This was infravision before the 3rd edition of the game rules.


  1. ^Hall, Charlie (September 2, 2015). "Out of the Abyss: D&D's next campaign goes deep into the Underdark". Polygon. Retrieved June 24, 2017.
  2. ^Mona, Erik; Holian, Gary; Reynolds, Sean K.; Weining, Frederick (2000). Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN .
  3. ^ abcdCordell, Bruce R.; Kestrel, Gwendolyn F. M.; Quick, Jeff (2003). Underdark. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN .
  4. ^ abBaichtal, John (February 26, 2010). "D&D's Underdark Describes a Vast and Perilous Realm". Wired. Condé Nast Digital. Retrieved 2010-07-16.
  5. ^ abBambra, Jim (October 1986). "Open Box". White Dwarf. Games Workshop (82): 2.
  6. ^Wyatt, James; Baker, Keith; Johnson, Luke (January 2006). Player's Guide to Eberron. Wizards of the Coast.
  7. ^ ab"Pyramid Review: Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark". Pyramid. January 21, 2000. Retrieved 2021-01-31.
  8. ^Lummis, Michael; Pleet, Kathleen; Kern, Edwin; Ricketts, Kurt; Burton, Christopher (2004). Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the Underdark, Official Strategy Guide. Brady Games. ISBN .
  9. ^Jacob, Merle; Apple, Hope (2000). To be Continued: An Annotated Guide to Sequels. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 251. ISBN .
  10. ^Cappellini, Matt (November 30, 2000). "Blockbusters Make Christmas Bright". The Beacon News. Aurora, Illinois. Archived from the original on June 29, 2014. Retrieved November 21, 2012. – via HighBeam Research(subscription required)

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underdark
D\u0026D 5E The Underdark: Atlas Exterus- The Dungeoncast Ep.36


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