May 23, 2018, 08:42:47 AM

Author Topic: The Underdark  (Read 313 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline [NPC] The Librarian

  • Realm Character
  • Adventurer
  • *****
  • Posts: 55
  • Keeper of Knowledge
    • View Profile
The Underdark
« on: February 08, 2017, 12:55:56 AM »
The Underdark


Introduction

Much like the neighboring Wastes, the Underdark is a placefavored by few. Since the Sundering, the drow have made their home in subterranean caverns and tunnels, constructing cities and settlements in the deep. It's natural beginning was that of a harsh and deadlyenvironment, which has unsurprisingly cultivated a harsh society of creatures.

The place is a warren of winding tunnels, and while many of the main tunnels have been mapped there is so much still to be discovered in the Underdark. Many will seek the Underdark for its treasures, but few will return. Because of its location, venturing to the Underdark from the other areas of Entar is more of an expedition, and a dangerous one at that. In fact the hope was that the northern mountain range, named the Great Northern Wall, would protect the rest of Entar from any Drow incursion. The reality is that there are lesser known passages to the Underdark dotted around Khalar, though most are treacherous and narrow. Additionally most of these entrances are few traveled and unknown to most, even the Drow.

The law of the Underdark is relatively simple. Hierarchical and class based, there is little rule in murder unless it is within a class or above. Such is the way of life under the relatively brutal management of the Underdark. While this might seem foreign to the outsider, this is the norm for the residents.
Major Cities

Over time, the Drow have constructed cities in the dark, these have been come to be known as The Six Cities.  What follows is a description of the larger of them.

Shar'oloth

Known as the City of Dark Weaving, as well as the Crown Jewel of the Six.  While in traditional terms of a nation, Shar'oloth would be regarded as the capitol, however the governance of the Underdark is far from what would be considered one of the more traditional systems of rule in the rest of Entar. Despite what many Entarians believe about the savagery and brutality of the Drow, Shar'oloth stands as one of the greatest architectural wonders of Entar, though few from the main lands will get to regard it.

Nestled in the caverns of Khandrakhar, a geographically unique part of the Underdark, deep below the Great Wasteland, much of the caverns surface is covered in water, forming a series of interconnected plateaus, the largest housing the majority of the city itself.  The cavern has a grand dome that stretches high over the city itself.

Surrounding the cavern is the Web, a natural defensive structure that affords Shar'oloth a great deal of protection. The Web is a hive of twisted tunnels surrounding the entire caver the city is housed in. The labyrinthine layout of the Web is host to many treacherous areas such as chasms, and home to dangerous creatures, even few Drow will dare to explore it fully.

Intrigues, conspiracies and webs of deceit are crafted within the limits of Shar’oloth; political feuds, money rivalries, threats, assassinations. All these and many other aspects make Shar’oloth a deadly but entrancing landmark of the Underdark and the Wastes.

Some features of the city follow:

  • The Crown of Maedhros: Also known as the throne of the Gods, or Sharord’l-Quar’valsharuk, this is the central area of Shar'oloth. This citadel sits in a large central dais, and makes up the central place of worship in Shar'oloth.  Most parts are open to the Drow, with the exception of the Shrine of Eternal Darkness. The Shrine is the greatest temple of Shar'oloth, and is home to two of the most powerful factions in the city; The Priory and The Cabal Veridesti. Foreigners are not welcome at all in the Crown.

  • The Twelve Citadels: The Twelve Citadels of Shar'oloth are the where the ancestral noble houses of the city abide. They surround the Crown as a first line of defense, though many believe that in the subterfuge-like nature of the leading bodies ofthe city, that the citadels serve as a way for the noble hierarchy to keep the clergy under constant surveillance. Non-Drow are forbidden in the citadels. Technically there are fifteen citadels, though three were abandoned by the traitorous noble houses.

  • The Market District: Sometimes referred to as the Chopping Block for the harsh punishment for thievery and swindling wrought there. The Market is one of the most active areas of Shar'oloth, and is located in the south of the city. Drow will travel from all parts of the Underdark to shop in the Chopping Block, as merchants of all crafts can be found plying their wears here, especially those selling rare religious artifacts.

  • The Subterranean Prison: Below the main plateau is a small warren of tunnels, with entrances from the Citadels and the Crown. Each of these building has their own prison connected by smaller tunnels. This where those found violating the rule of each faction and their areas are kept. Not only Drow but Dwarves, Humans, Orcs and so on can be found in these prisons. The faction controlling the prison have the right to do with prisoners as they will, up until the trial, when the clergy are the only ones with the right to judge them. As such, should a faction execute more politically sensitive prisoners, they could earn the ire of the clergy or worse.

  • The Abandoned Citadels: While the three Citadels may have been forsaken by the traitors of Shar'oloth, after time passed they were emptied and put to use again. One houses the Library of Shar'oloth, where all records are kept, another is the quarters of the Lilim Knights, where warriors are trained. This is the most fortified of the Citadels. The third is housed by the Academy of Wizards, also known as the Sorcere. This houses several laboratories of different natures, such as alchemy or sorcery, as well as places of magical learning and study.

  • The Shrine of Eternal Darkness: The Shrine is the proudest feature of the Drow of Shar'oloth. Not only is it the tallest building in the city, it stands at its geographic center. It consists of a central tower united with smaller structures, such as chapels and defensive structures. The whole thing is surrounded by a large sturdy wall. The central tower is where the Conclave, the ruling body of the city, meet. Surrounding areas are occupied by the Priory and the Cabal Veridesti. The latter are known for secretiveness, and occupy a large part of the subterranean portion of the Shrine that is not a prison.

Other Towns and Cities

The remaining cities of the Six are described below, as well as any other smaller settlements of note.

  • Nev-Mizzet: Often referred to as the City of Magi, the architectural style Nev-Mizzet is close to that of Shar'oloth, though more artificial. While Shar'oloth is constructed around a unique geological stratum, Nev-Mizzet has melding of plateaus, both natural and man-made in a smaller cavern, connected with stone bridges.

    The city borders the area of the Plains of Elghinyr, under the surface. Nev-Mizzet is home to many varying Conclaves of Magi, and the rule of the city his handled by the Conclave of High Wizards. Despite this, religious authorities in Nev-Mizzet hold high political sway, and in true Drow court intrigue will report back in secret to the clergy ofShar'oloth.

  • Naxrammar: An influential city of the Underdark, situated close to the Blood Red Sea. With all but Shar'oloth, this city is the eldest of the Drow cities, and as such both is held politically by the Clergy, who happen to be nobility also, but architecturally resembles the old Kindgom of Loriath.  While there may be a resemblance, it is a dark one, build through a series of caverns.

    It is likely the only city of the Underdark openly ruled by the clergy. Interestingly, the city is the only of the Six that is a strict Matriarchy. The hierarchy of nobility and clergy are one, with their leader being the High Priestess of Maedhros. Women are educated in the higher arts, such as magic and philosophy, while the males of Naxrammar tend to lead a life of labor and craftsmanship as lower echelons of society.

    Together with Nev-Mizzet, through an ancient treaty, the combined magic and labor produced the great black ships that are capable of traversing the Blood Red Sea. This means that Naxrammar has a strange, but thriving fishing industry, launching from their underground outlets along the northern shore.  Along with this is much in the way of salvage of magical trinkets, as well as the ability to easily explore the northern Isles. The treaty with Nev-Mizzet allows for the free trade of magical goods, as well as others, and is how they profit on the agreement.

  • Endlion: This city, along with Ghath, are close to the border of the Wastes and the Great Northern Wall. As such, Endlion is a likely place for Drow to depart to seek their fortunes in the mainlands of Entar. While it is still mainly a Drow populous, you are much more likely to observe both more tolerance of other races, though not much more, and the presence of other beings, though much more likely to be shady beings seeking out something in the Underdark or escaping from Entar's mainland.

    Endlions architecture is an odd mix of styles, with hints of old Loriath mixed with more Dwarven style, but similarly housed in a cavern below the edge of the Wastes.

    Politically, Endlion used to have a noble house, but that has since turned into a group of smugglers, operating both within the Underdark, and even beyond the Great Northern Wall.  Unsurprisingly, the Clergy has little to no sway in this City, and it can even be treacherous to be a member of them in this city. Truly there is little in the way of rule in Endlion, save for the smugglers gangs, but unless you are Clergy or do something to cross the gangs, generally you will be OK if you watch your back.

  • Ghath: While Ghath is close to Endlion geographically, the two cities differ a great deal. Ghath was originally established by the exiled noble houses of Shar'oloth. Their proximity to the Dwarven territories means that they have naturally picked up a flair for Dwarven design, and have even managed to establish small, secret trade with the certain Dwarven factions. So while Endlion can gain their valuable goods from Khalar and by extension the rest of Entar through smuggling, Ghath has negotiated ways of doing the same without much fear of provoking reprisal.

    Religious factions hold less sway in Ghath, much like Endlion, but they are not greeted with the same brutality, they just have little to no political power, and the populous tends to not to be as zealous. The governing is down by the Council of Elders, descendants of the exiled Drow nobility.

  • Dashlith: Perhaps the third most influential city of the Six. The city is situated north of the Ered Lithrai, near the north-western coast. The city has a massed much wealth and power over the years, to the extent that it nearly rivals Naxrammar. Sea explorers similar to that of the north-eastern city, though not asprolific due to lack of easy access to the islands, Dashlith amassed most of its wealth by striking lucky with rich mineral and precious gemstone veins near the city. To this day, they still yield rich trade from their mining operation.

    In addition to precious resources, Dashlith controls a rare Adamantium mine, and as such trade of items forged of the rare and durable metal fetch a high price.

    As a result one of the biggest ruling factions in the city is the Mining Guild. While technically the ruling body is the noble houses, many of them are directly or indirectly involved with the Mining Guild. The Drow may not match the prowess of their Dwarven neighbors when it comes to mining, but the rich veins around Dashlith make mining less of a delving expedition.

The Countryside

Aside from the sprawling mass of tunnels, many of which have yet to be charted, the Underdark has no real countryside of which to speak, but the Wastes in some sense could be considered the countryside of the Underdark in loose terms.

Organization

The Underdark has universal organizations, but they differ in power depending on the location. As such the political structure of the Underdark as a whole is complex and difficult to quantify outside of individual cities. What fallows is a list of organizations of the Underdark, and how they relate to the Underdark as a whole.

  • The High Priesthood: The most powerful overall of the political organizations, though even its reach falters, especially in the city of Endlion. They are most prolific in Shar'oloth.  Be that as it may, they still have the longest reach of all organizations in the Underdark. They share their power with the nobility in the most relevant cities, but it is often difficult to know who is the true power through the level of subterfuge in Drow politics. All the following factions make up the ruling Conclaves of cities in differing ways, as detailed above.

    The Clergy are divided into ranks. At the top are the Archclerics, heads of the church of Maedhros in Shar'oloth, and sometimes present in other cities also. While not necessarily numerous, these are arguably the most powerful figures on the whole in the Underdark.

    Following the Archclerics are the Priory. These act as a medium between the Archclerics and the Cabal of Veridesti, as well general Clergy of the Dark One. The Priory are the most commonly seen, with the Novices. While equal in influence with the Cabal, it is questionable what happens behind the scenes with the secretive society of the Cabal.

    The Cabal of Veridesti are a group sworn into silence, and a very secretive sect of the faith. Likely they have the most zeal of thesects, and reportedly spend most of their time meditating and contemplating the edicts and texts of Maedhros. There is also much speculation and rumor about the secret activities of the Cabal, and secret activities that may even undermine the power of the Priory.

    Finally, the Novices. These are Clergymen in training. They have no particular power, but do demand a modicum of respect, even among the nobles of the cities, naturally depending on the city.  Novices tend to stick to the parts of the Underdark where the Religious faction holds power.

  • The Noble Born: The noble lines of the Underdark date back to the age of Loriath. Technically speaking, they are the rightful rulers of what could be considered the Drow nation, but much like the clergy this varies. At face value in cities like Shar'oloth, the nobility share the power with the Clergy, making up the Conclave in several of the cities. In reality, there is often subtle conflict between the two factions, despite their governance. In some cities, such as Endlion and Ghath, the nobility have full control, but have normally deferred to a different organization, such as the mining guilds, or the smugglers.

    It should be noted that there is a blurred line between nobility and the Clergy, as many within the Clergy are also of nobility, thus adding another nuance to Drow politics.

  • The Lilim Knights: The martial force of the Underdark, most prolific in Shar'oloth, and least in the southern cities. They act as the enforcers of the Conclave, but have very few members in the Conclave itself, restricted to a representation from the top echelon. The Lilim Knights also act as a training group for any other militia forces. They are much more likely to follow the command of the Clergy than the Nobility.

  • The Magical Coven: Nobles and Common Drow alike make up the Coven, again they are most prolific in Shar'oloth, but also in Nev-Mizzet. The represent the most scholarly of the Drow, and serve the Conclave in an advisory role on many varying matters. Like the Lilim Knights, their upper echelon serve on the Conclave, and the organization owe allegiance to the Conclave first, then the Sorcere

Credits

  • Original Concepts and Write-ups: Malygos & Avy
  • Revised Edition: Davin Ragal & Vyse
« Last Edit: February 08, 2017, 01:02:33 AM by Davin Ragal »