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Underdark Campaign Races (long)

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Anonymous
March 2, 2005 7:14:18 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

OK, here's the rough draft of the various races for my underdark
campaign, with enough flavor included to give some idea of various
interactions and possible plot-lines. Any comments?

Races of the Underdark

Note: All of the following list the most common (stereotypical) behavior
and attitudes of each race. In each people there are exceptions - the
cheerful duergar or the martial kobold exist, they just aren't common.

The Civilized Races (Major)

The Dark Creepers (and Dark Stalkers) are the descendants of the
few surviving good-aligned Halflings (and good-aligned Humans) who made
it with the other races into the underdark. Each group was too small to
survive on its own, so the weakened Halfling pantheon spent most of its
remaining power to help them adapt to the underdark conditions. Both
groups tend to live on the outskirts of underdark society, not from
ostracism but from choice - they tend to disappear for long periods of
time in which they act as scouts and sneaky defenders of their chosen
communities, returning only when they have run out of supplies and can
no longer live on the land. Most underdark towns and cities realize the
essential nature of this task, and gladly give supplies (or medical
help) to the Dark Ones on the rare occasion that they show up.
Dark Ones are not inherently antisocial, and can be quite
pleasant to good people who notice them - but they don't go out of their
way to be noticed, and often hide even from good people just to keep in
practice ... and to make sure such people are really good. Paranoia is
an occupational hazard for suspicious scouts. Still, more than one
adventuring group that got in over its head has been saved as a squad of
Dark Ones stabbed the backs of their enemies from the shadows and then
vanished (if they were ever seen at all).
Most Dark Ones favor the rogue and/or ranger classes and are of
CG alignment. They worship the Halfling pantheon, which has begun to
recover its power as the number of Dark Ones grows.

The typical Drow is a creature of spontaneous joy - she
celebrates life. Finding a Drow that is not a poet, a singer, or a
dancer is a rare thing indeed, and the remaining ones usually find some
other artistic outlet. As a result, a Drow city is a thing of great
beauty, though there is some truth to the claims that they always run
their plans by the Duergar first to make sure the foundation won't
collapse under all the ornate fluorishes. The finished results are
rarely static - rather, the Drow continually rework, redesign, and add
on 'just one more thing' - and if it wasn't for some degree of innate
good taste, the result would probably look like Las Vegas after a few
generations. As it is, almost all Drow architecture has permanent
faerie fires involved, and the roofs of occupied caverns or houses is
made to resemble a starscape, for dancing under the stars is the one
thing they most miss about the surface world.
Drow have a tendency to practical jokes, which they take with
good humor whether perpetrating or receiving as long as no one is
endangered. (A loss of dignity is not 'endangered'.) They consider
many of the other races to take life too seriously; the underdark isn't
really such a bad place to live, after all! Thus, they try to help
others keep some perspective. The practical jokes of the young do have
a tendency to get out of hand, which can be dangerous when coupled with
the drow's great magical abilities. The Drow provide underdark society
with most of its wizards and sorcerers; Drow craftsmen, often working
with the Duergar, provide most of its magic items.
The one thing that Drow seem to take seriously is love in its
various forms - love of family, love of friends, love of society, love
of art or the Art. Their patron goddess (and now head of the pantheon)
is Eilistrae, the Lady of the Dance, whose consort, Corellan Lotherian,
was once the leader of the surface elf pantheon; most of the surface elf
pantheon is now worshipped by the drow instead. Corellan maintained
some of his power due to his many secret orc worshippers.
The lateness (or earliness) of drow to almost any appointment is
proverbial, as they tend to think that time doesn't matter much, except
during choreography. Other races sometimes joke that if a drow finds
herself on time, she will either wait outside until she is an hour late
or she will start practicing chronomancy to see if she can't arrange to
be an hour early.
Perform is considered a class skill for all Drow.

The Duergar are the master craftsmen of the underdark. The
product of a Duergar is guaranteed to be of at least masterwork quality
(they refuse to sell anything else, destroying and recreating anything
that falls short), though it may not be beautiful: above all else, they
place efficiency and safety. Only if beauty does not take away from
those two goals does beauty become a consideration. If a Duergar item
has any decoration, it usually is a functional one - for instance,
Duergar wands often have little gem chips, one for each charge
remaining; as each charge is used, the gem chip crumbles, leaving no
chance of mistaking how many charges are left and trying to use the item
in an emergency only to find it has run out.
Most duergar tend to have a dim view of the world; they took the
defeat by the surface-dwelling races harder than anyone (which is
ironic, considering that they already lived mostly underground), and
never seem to have recovered. Part of that may be a reflection on their
deities, who saw the dwarves as a craftwork, and then watched most of
their craftwork descend into degeneration and evil. While not precisely
pessimists, the Duergar version of extreme realism is uncomfortable for
many others, who see them as gloomy. The Duergar see it more as
practicality; for instance, if a craftsman is too old to work, of course
those around him will support him until he dies, without complaint or
comment - but many such craftsman produce a pyre as their last work and
hold a wake which culimnates with them lying down in the flames after
their last goodbyes. Many a sentient weapon has been forged in the
workpyre of a Duergar craftsman.
Duergar tend to live on their own, either in their own towns or
in concentrated subsections of a larger town ('the Duergar quarter').
These areas are rarely lit; people get around by darkvision and engraves
street signs, though some areas are well lit by the greater forges.
Many Duergar, however, go forth to serve others, especially those with
too low a dexterity for the more fine craftswork. 'A hand that can't
make a hammer can certainly swing one' is an old adage. A continual
influx of Duergar heroes thus serves to make the entire Underdark safer
for everyone.
Duergar men are bald, but can grow wiry beards; Duergar women
usually have wiry hair on their heads and no beards. There are
exceptions to each rule, though.
The Duergar worship what was formerly the surface dwarf
pantheon, with the notable addition of Laduguer, the Great Craftsman,
the LN god of responsibility and hard work (also known as the Gray
Protector among those who work as adventurers rather than as craftsmen).
The typical Duergar is LG, and the ability penalties have been
altered: the charisma penalty is only -2, not -4, and a player may
choose to have a -2 penalty to dexterity instead of charisma, as many
adventuring Duergar are clumbsy craftsman with a more outgoing
disposition.

If Duergar are the master craftsmen and Drow are the performing
artists, Kobolds are the everyday workers - the shopkeepers, the junior
craftsmen, the grocers and farmers and (yes) janitors. It's unlikely
that underdark society would work if it wasn't for hordes of eager and
cheerful workers doing the small but essential tasks. They are also
famous for their traps and security systems, causing the more
irresponsible rogues to use 'Kobold' as a curse under their breath.
Most Kobolds are workaholics at work and then family-oriented as
soon as they get home - real salt of the earth folks. The typical
Kobold is LG. While not very clever, their fingers are nimble enough
for most work, and anything needing greater strength can be turned over
to other races. Often Duergar design an efficient device or product,
Drow decorate it almost to the point of non-function, and Kobolds
compromise the two to result in an elegant but beautiful design.
It should be noted that Kobolds can smell condensation a mile
away, and a person showing them disrespect will end up paying for it in
a million ways, as their essential tasks remain undone by any Kobold
until the offender finds the offended Kobold and sincerely
apologizes(and often materially apologizes, in the form of large amounts
of money, the size of the amount depending on how wealthy they are - the
Kobolds are not greedy).
It should also be noted that some Kobolds get artistic
pretensions (and, to be fair, some of them show some real talent). The
Drow take such very seriously and encourage it greatly, a behavior which
even the Kobolds cannot yet tell whether it is honest patronage or a
particularly long-lasting practical joke (and, if the latter, who the
joke is on - the Kobolds or everyone else).
The trap-building Kobolds often take the surname 'Tucker' and
the more martial Kobolds often take the surname 'Jecks', in honor of
former great leaders who helped them gain the respect of other races.

The Svirfneblin are the rare exception to the general attitude
of cooperation among the refugee races of the Exodus; they had already
become paranoid before that, and during the Exodus they just ...
disappeared. Many years later the recovering races came upon
strongholds carved in the living rock, from which would come taunts and
hails of crossbow bolts. Though some trading has been set up over time
and some Svirfneblin have come out to join the wider society, the
majority of Svirfneblin are still hiding.
Unfortunately, the Svirfneblin also have a tendency to play off
both ends against the middle. They tend to allow groups of either side
(surface race or underdark race) to pass through their territory once,
not even letting them know that they are doing so - then prevent their
return by using their rapport with earth elementals to close those
tunnels against the group's return. In doing so, they hope to cut
groups off in enemy territory, where they will fight to the death,
weakening both sides. In the common Svirfneblin view, all others are
their enemies, and weakening others just strengthens their position.
They similarly foment discord in the other races where possible -
encouraging plans for Gith to attack Mind Flayers, Mind Flayers to
undermine the surface races, surfacers to crusade against the Drow, and
so on and so forth. So many of those who joined the underdark society
turned out to be spies or agents that the sincere Svirfneblin faces an
uphill battle to be accepted and trusted. Svirfneblin have been
responsible for far too many deaths without bloodying their blades or
bolts.
The typical Svirfneblin is of neutral alignment, and worships
the old Gnome pantheon (but most of the Gnome gods have become bitter
about non-Gnomes, so don't expect that to moderate their behavior much).

The Civilized Races (Minor)

The Aranea (or spider-shifters) are a minor component of
underdark society for several reasons. First, they are quite rare.
Secondly, they were originally created by Lolth's dark magics at work
upon the drow; while they managed to shrug off her corruption, their
alignment is highly variable from generation to generation - two NG
aranea can easily give birth to unmanagable offspring who turn to evil
despite all their attempts at proper raising. Most aranea tend to live
in small groups in the underdark wilderness, trading back and forth
members who turn out to have the wrong alignment for that group. Their
overall alignment is still neutral, but exceptions are more common than
not.

It is often said that if it hadn't been for the Beholders, the
races of the Exodus would have never survived. While this may be an
exaggeration, there is no denying that the groups that found one of the
Great Hives of the Beholders generally did rather well. The jovial and
avuncular (if somewhat condenscending) Beholders helped them carve out
the first few cities before returning to their own pursuits, and even
now can be convinced to join in on some of the larger excavation
projects, though they have a strong tendency to argue that a vertical
design is better than a horizontal one (which has led to some Drow
cities where levitation is truly crucial if you want to visit anything
but the ground floor).
The Beholders strongly believe that Beholders are superior to
other lifeforms (and that their own Hive of Beholders is superior to the
other Hives), which doesn't lead to much participation in external
society. Beholders keep to their own kind almost exclusively, though
they treat other goodly races kindly enough, much like a doting
grandfather giving a child a lollipop. Beholders seen elsewhere tend to
be on enigmatic errands that they refuse to explain.
The exception, of course, is the magistrate Beholders.
Occasionally a Beholder will do something to offend its Hive - not so
badly as to be cast out forever, but badly enough that some punishment
is in order. While tasks such as excavating a new Hive all by itself
was typical in the old days, the new situation brought a new opportunity
for punishment for minor infractions: the offending Beholder is
sentenced to act as a magistrate in the courts of the other goodly
races. Such a Beholder shows up at the legal system of that race,
declares itself to be a judge, asks to be told (or preferably allowed to
read) all the local law and general procedures ... and then starts
taking cases for judgement. The other races soon got used to this and
stopped arguing about it. Wouldn't you?
The LG Beholders make good judges, and many have served for up
to 50 years at a time. Repeats are rare, but there are some who found
the process so interesting that they stuck around voluntarily after
their sentence was over; at that point, they start getting paid, though
they often donate large amounts of the pay to various charities.

Bugbears often work as manual laborers. During the Exodus, many
of them were left enslaved on the surface, and many of them still dream
of returning to the surface and freeing their compatriots. Others
figure that they've got theirs and to the Abyss with anyone else. Often
opportunistic and with major problems with authority of any sort, you
never know what you're going to get when you meet a bugbear - a brave
freedom fighter is just as likely as idealistic dreamer or an
unrealistic anarchist. Their usual alignment is CN.

Derro are descendants of the worshippers of Dumathoin, the
dwarven god of secrets, who was captured by the Yugoloth lords before
the Exodus. The only god who knew all of the escape routes, he was
tortured to make him reveal that information - and refused to break. To
the best of anyone's knowledge, his torment continues eternally, and has
long since descended into madness. His tribes of dwarves,
unfortunately, followed him. (As a result, this is not a recommended PC
race.) The madness varies from Derro to Derro, but usually takes the
form of obsessions which are pursued above all else. Two Derro who
share compatible obsessions (say, one with types of rope, the other with
all the possible knots one can tie) may raise children together. The
children start out reasonably normal, and then get more obsessive as
they grow older, flitting from obsession to obsession until they
(usually) settle on one topic. A Derro with an obsession with baking
the most delicious pies is a treasure to any bakery (as long as he
doesn't diverge into baking pies that would be delicious to Delvers); a
Derro with an obsession with the secrets of anatomy is a threat to all
living creatures around him. Nevertheless, underdark society tends to
tolerate and try to make room for all but the most dangerous of Derro
obsessions, for if Dumathoin had broken and revealed the escape routes,
it is unlikely that anyone would have survived the Exodus followed by
the dangers of the underdark. All Derro are CN, without exception.

The various Elemental Weirds (MM2) are almost an accepted part
of underdark society in some ways. Though they do not live with
underdark society, staying in their nodes, many members of the underdark
races go to them as soothsayers and advice-givers, a role they seem to
either tolerate or relish (those who do not do either are quickly left
alone); sometimes the price (always announced in advance) is ... odd
.... if the asker has a high charisma, resulting in a number of
half-elementals in underdark society.

The Gith are the descendants of good-aligned humans who fled
into the underdark. Unfortunately for the history of the underdark, the
major human parts of the Exodus were intercepted by the Mind Flayers,
who used them as cattle and slaves for years. The great spiritual
leader Gith discovered how to use their newly flowering psionic
abilities to shield themselves against the Mind Flayers, who they
proceeded to butcher in a great rebellion and then fled from
retaliation. Many Gith fled to other planes, where their history
followed more normal paths, but others fled into the underdark. When
they sought out the growing underdark civilization, their questions
about why they had not been rescued were finally answered: the other
races had thought they had been annihilated, and certainly hadn't been
strong enough to look for them in the strongholds of the Mind Flayers.
The Gith were integrated into underdark society, and flowered in
many ways, becoming its greatest defense against the Mind Flayers. Most
Gith develop their talents as defenses and then join as adventuring
parties specifically designed to hunt their foes. As such, they rarely
join with non-Gith groups, who tend to be more vulnerable (and thus a
liability), but the occasional less-obsessed Gith does follow that path.
The typical Gith is similar to a MM Githyanki, except that they
are generally of NG alignment and they get an additional +4 to saving
throws against psionic effects, but do not get any special treatment by
Red Dragons. Some of them still worship some of the obscure human
deities that are remembered by no other group; many a Mind Flayer has
been badly hurt by a bash on the noggin by a vengeful Gith worshipper of
St. Cuthbert of the Cudgel.
(Sad to say, the Githzerai often work as assassins for the
surface races, but since the surface races generally send these
assassins against each other's leaders rather than the underdark
peoples, this fact is rarely a problem for the civilized races.)

The Gloamings are the result of some Fey getting cut off from
the (temporary) retreat into Faerie around the time of the Exodus; they
were forced to retreat into the Plane of Shadow instead. Though they
eventually escaped through various portals into the underdark, they were
changed by their time spent there and did not truly feel comfortable
rejoining the Fey. They are usually CN or CG in alignment, though
exceptions of almost any alignment occur. They often take jobs
involving travel from one place to another, as they tend to get restless
after a few years in one spot (or shorter for some).

The Grimlocks are not very intelligent, but they are extremely
devoted to those they choose to serve. Many Grimlocks thus act as
butlers or maids to rich households, and many Medusae hire exclusively
Grimlocks for their homes, as that allows them to 'let their veils down'
without fear of harming the help. Many Grimlocks also act as guards of
important (but not very dangerous) waypoints, as they don't seem to get
bored with such duty the way most races would. The typical Grimlock is
neutral good.

The Hobgoblins saw the way the wind was blowing when the Orcs
made their great mistake and got out when the getting was good. They
made an organized retreat into the underdark following about a dozen
years after the Exodus. Since the paths the other races took were the
least dangerous (the monsters had not fully recovered), they inevitably
ended up where the other races had fled. This led to many of them
joining the humans in the Mind Flayer larders, but many others basically
marched up in formation to the barely fortified cities and declared that
they could be paid to help or they could take what they needed, so what
was your decision?
Most Hobgoblin groups now work as warriors, guards, and
mercenaries for various underdark cities. They rarely hire out in
groups of less than 50, though the rare individualistic Hobgoblin does
join a group of adventurers in hopes of advancing in skill more quickly
than can occur on barracks duty. Hobgoblins are quite reliable once a
contract has been signed, and through experience most governments
learned to put in a 'once the contract ends and is not renewed, go away
peacefully and not attack within 10 years' clause into any contract
signed with them. Most such clauses are not really necessary any more,
as most Hobgoblin groups have caught a bad case of civilization and
would rather get a fat paycheck than loot. Hobgoblins tend to regard
the group they work for as being 'theirs' in some odd adopted ownership,
and defend it with pride and loyalty - but if the defended group doesn't
renew the contract, they leave with no signs of loss or regret,
searching for a new place to work.
The typical Hobgoblin is lawful neutral.

The Kuo-Toa were already there when the Exodus occured; they had
lived in the underdark since time immemorial. Unfortunately, before the
other races arrived they were badly outnumbered by the evil underdark
denizens and were hovering on the edge of extinction. They have since
recovered in numbers somewhat, but a limited gene pool and bad
inbreeding seems to have damaged the race in ways that have not yet been
healed.
The Kuo-Toa are a kindly and gentle race, deeply theistic in
worldview. Most of them end up with a level or two in cleric, druid, or
monk, though the occasional paladin is not unknown.
As an aquatic race, they tend to live in different areas than
the other races, but there is some cooperation where they meet and many
underdark cities have Kuo-Toa mystics living in nearby waters, keeping
an eye out for aboleth and other horrors. The typical Kuo-Toa is
neutral good.

The Medusae were another native underdark race with good
tendencies who gladly met the members of the Exodus with open arms
(after a few unfortunate misunderstandings, none of which couldn't be
solved by asking their companion Maedar to turn the statue back to
flesh, sorry for the mistake). The events of the Exodus have been an
incredible boon for the Medusae, who soon integrated into underdark
society with great will (and special magic veils produced by the Drow).
Their lawful bent (the typical Medusa is LG) led to them joining police
forces, as both their special attacks are non-lethal and can be used to
restrain potential malefactors without killing them. Many a Drow
practical joker has spent considerable time 'getting stoned', as one
Drow joker-philosopher named Rastafar put it. Almost no Medusae live
out in the wilderness any more, except for a few hermitic types and the
rare evil Medusae.

The Umber Hulks live on the outskirts of civilized society, or
even in the wilderness itself, forming small monestaries they carve out
of the rock. Many of them take levels in Monk, and all are of a
contemplative nature, but it can be dangerous to disturb them,
especially as their gaze can spread their extremely logical and lawful
thought to others, causing the victims 'Rigid Thinking' in which they
cannot change their actions, performing the same tasks over and over.
The typical Umber Hulk is lawful neutral, though more than one wag has
referred to them a 'lawful slow-but-certain', and Rastafar referred to
their visage as 'the ultimate poker face'.

Other Notable Underdark Races

The Aboleth are still outraged that their territory has been
invaded (and just as they had nearly eliminated those pesky Kuo-Toa,
too!). Many of the civilized races' problems turn out to be the results
of various Aboleth plots; their watery grasp flows deep and far. The
Avolakia are one of their creations, used as agents on land when the
Aboleth find their direct reach too short. It is not known how the
Aboleth keep the Avolakia under control, and some suspect that they
don't - they just rely on any Avolakia getting out of control being
malign enough to continue doing the desired damage. The greatest
support for this theory is the fact that the ones within short reach of
Aboleth are universally sorcerers, while those who get further inland
soon turn to clericism, an abomination among the Aboleth.

Chokers were the results of various Aboleth experiments on
captured victims (just what sort of victims is not known, though just
about every race claims it was someone else). Chokers are mostly a
nuisance, but the Aboleth keep releasing more of them in hopes of
grinding the civilized races down over time.

The Cloakers are generally peaceful towards other races that
don't invade their territory, but they are notoriously violent towards
those who do. The civilized races have taken to placing warning signs
around the territory when it is found, but problems occur when the
Cloakers move to new areas and the first you know about it is when they
attack you for going down a tunnel that was just fine a week ago. Their
minds are too alien for good communication back and forth, though some
bards have managed the trick and convinced them through a spectacular
performance to go elsewhere.

The Desmodu (or bat people) are an example of history gone bad.
Many an underdark philosopher has speculated what might have happened if
they had been just a bit less territorial; as it was, the Desmodu fell
upon the Exodus with waves of fanatical attackers; males, females, and
children all fought to the death. Though they inflicted horrible damage
on the defenders, in the end there weren't enough of them to win and
they died trying. The remaining Desmodu are more cautious, but no less
driven to regain their homelands (for many of the Exodus peoples took
over the now-empty Desmodu cities out of desperate need after most of
their defenders were weakened fighting off the Desmodu). Such cities
have constant problems with Desmodu undead, especially vampires, and
attacks by groups of barbarians when the local Desmodu population grows
great enough. Luckily, the Desmodu never seem to have enough patience
to wait long enough to have a real chance. Some of them have turned to
more subtle strategems.

If the surface Elves get their hands on a Drow, they often
inflict a cruel curse on them that turns them into a Drider. This curse
results in insanity as well as physical deformation, though both have
been cured in some cases if the victim was newly afflicted. If you can
capture such an unfortunate without killing them, please bring them to
the magistrates as soon as possible, but don't let yourself get killed
in the process!

Some druids of the underdark still see the civilized races as a
horrible disruption of the natural order. One result of this seems to
be attempts to turn nature itself against them. In many caves, strange
growths of stone are transformed by druids into Gargoyles. Somehow,
once in existance, they can create more of their kind over time, so the
occasional plague of Gargoyles has to be dealt with.

The Grell are a continual hazard to their neighbors, especially
in the great Grell Nations where they form cooperative groups of
thousands led by vastly more intelligent Grell Savants (seemingly the
same species, appearing by some modification of the common Grell).
Luckily for the rest of the underdark, the Mind Flayers seem to find
Grell to be the ultimate in a good meal, and in any conflict between the
two the Grell seem to come out the worst for it.

Hook Horrors and Meenlocks are a common hazard of the underdark.
It has become clear that both were originally created from more
civilized stock by dark experiments, but unlike with the Chokers it is
not clear who is responsible; many suspect the surface races, but are
not entirely sure.

The Mind Flayers are evil slime balls - always were, always will
be. If someone finds a good-aligned Mind Flayer, sheer shock will
probably cause the universe to come to an end. Luckily for everyone
else, the Gith have taken up hunting Mind Flayers with a will, so the
Mind Flayers tend to stay away from civilized territory - just you stay
away from theirs, unless you are a Gith (and even then, be careful).

The Minotaurs have great labyrinths of tunnels all wrapped
around each other like a big plate of spaghetti, filled with traps and
ambushes. It is rumored that they have tamed Delvers and Purple Worms
to create the tunnels. It is best to avoid these areas, as they find
outsiders the perfect targets for their sadistic games.

The Psurlons crawl through the underdark like maggots, looking
for weak spots to spread like an infection. Happily for all other
races, large group action seems to be foreign to their natures, and they
often overreach themselves before doing significant damage. They seem
to have a real hatred for the Mind Flayers and vice versa; there is
probably a story there, but would any sane person want to hear it?

Troglodytes dwell in the deep caves and hidden places, hating
everyone and everything including other groups of troglodytes. As such,
they don't have the cohesion necessary to be a large-scale threat to the
other races. They are still a threat to small groups and caravans,
however.

Notable Surface Races

The Dopplegangers work for the other surface races as spies,
assassins, and agents; many of them end up in the underdark as part of
some plot or another. This is a perennial problem which is not likely
to go away any time soon. Most civilized races have various ways of
keeping eyes out for Dopplegangers; often Beholder eyes. The
magistrates don't like fake people, it upsets their sense of order.

The Dwarves long ago turned to deals with various devils for
additional power with which to smite their various enemies. The results
of such deals inevitably lead to greater corruption and cruelty, so the
Dwarves are now a race of slavers and tyrants, forming rigid hierarchies
of oppression with all the other races they control at the bottom. Some
of the evil gods of a lawful bent turned their attention to these
fertile fields for conversion, but most are still devil-worshippers.
Still, many would prefer capture by the Dwarves to the results of
capture by Elves or Halflings.

The Elves, contrary-wise to the Dwarves, turned to various demon
lords for succor, and have turned to degenerate displays of raw magical
might and great necromantic projects that often fall apart on a whim;
many of the world's great variety of undead, aberrations, and nastier
elementals result from a careless Elven wizard who fell victim to her
own creations. Unless you know what demon lord (or chaotic god of evil)
an individual elf follows, it is hard to know what to expect - except
that it's going to be very, very bad. Battles between the Dwarves and
Elves are legendary, with most other races fleeing quickly from between
the waves of devil-supported Dwarven warriors and the Elves' summoned
demons.

The fey and the wise folk (known as 'hags' by the less polite of
the surface races, though in truth each of them has three forms: maiden,
mother, and crone) as a group were devastated in the great wars. Many
of them fled into the realm of Faerie, from which their return has been
cautious and quiet - but return they did. They now fight to keep nature
functioning amid the sea of evil and depravity; as a result, many of the
surface races fear natural areas and avoid them when possible. The fey
are generally neutral in overall alignment, but many have turned quite
vicious towards despoilers of nature, using their magics to destroy all
who violate their lands; the Seelie and Unseelie courts no longer fight
each other, but instead vie to see who can destroy the most interlopers.
The remaining druids join in this constant battle, even most of the evil
ones.

The Gnomes treated the entire situation leading up to the Exodus
as a joke in increasingly bad taste - they just couldn't believe that
things were getting as bad as others told them (and due to their minor
role in the world, were not important enough to get attacked until very
late in the whole chain of events). By the time they realized how much
trouble they were in, they barely had time to escape, and many of them
didn't - they were decimated (in the modern sense - 9 in 10, not 1 in
10). It is unknown if any Gnomes survive on the surface, perhaps as
slaves, perhaps as willing participants in the battle of evils.; it may
be that the Svirfneblin are the only Gnomes left.

The Goblins hid when they saw what happened to the Orcs, but it
didn't help much. They also were mostly enslaved, though rarely
slaughtered, and many of them have since become accepted citizens of the
degenerate and vicious Overbright cities. There were some rare goblins
who turned to good, but most of them just got worse than ever as they
turned to demon worship.

The Halflings fell under the influence of a particularly nasty
fiend named Shuggua, perhaps a Yugoloth lord, perhaps something older.
This being exhorts its followers onto the path of consumption:
literally, eat what you can. This is not quite gluttony - to a
Halfling, it matters less how much you can eat and more who you can eat.
A Halfling that eats rats or carrots is an ashamed Halfling; a Halfling
that eats Humans is happy, and a Halfling with a lunch of demon or devil
is a Halfling hero! The Halflings have supplemented their rogueish
tendencies with the use of various poisons, and many a traveller of
another race has had as his last sight (as his limbs stiffened
uselessly) a halfling getting out a fire-starter, a skillet, and a
selection of spices. Many Halflings gain tolerance of various poisons
in increasing doses due to a belief that the best spice for a meal is
the poison you used to kill it. Other, more degenerate Halflings eat
their meals alive and paralyzed.

The Humans are by far the most erratic of the surface races;
some of them still resist the sea of corruption, while others wallow in
it to degrees that make the other races a bit nervous. Tales of the
darker Humans (such as Kyuss, Vecna, Kas, and Mordenkainen) are used to
scare Drow children into behaving a bit better, but everyone has heard
stories of the rare Human who secretly helped a stray underdark native
escape the overbright and return home; some of them still flee
underground from time to time. Those who join underdark society,
though, almost inevitably seem to transform into Dark Stalkers after
only a few years (as soon as the Halfling gods have gotten a true
measure of them and found them worthy); those who don't turn out to be
secret demon-worshipping agents or the like. At this point the surface
races have almost stopped sending human agents for this very reason.

The Lizard Folk are one of the few surface races to maintain
their independance of evil; living in dangerous swamps, able to stay
underwater for long periods of time, and with connections to both the
good and evil dragons (both of which were too proud to submit to
fiendish domination), they have engaged in guerrilla (well, lizard)
warfare against all who came against them with great success. They do
not have much contact with the underdark races, though, as swamps are
not prime cave territory. Their contacts with the underdark races have
generally been peaceful when they occured.

The Orcs were nearly annihilated by the surface races; the great
god Gruumsh set them to conquer all the other races at exactly the wrong
time: just after the goodly races successfully escaped into the
underdark. The surface races took out all their frustrations on the
Orcs, who now survive mostly as slaves or in hiding in small groups.
Thousands of years of slavery and fear turned many of them against their
former pantheon, and quite a few have turned to their former god's
greatest enemy: Corellan Lotharian, who took out their god's eye during
a battle just before the Exodus. These worshippers try to emulate the
grace of the elves; what they miss in style, they try to make up in
grace. As a result, most surface orcs now have +2 to dexterity, but
only a +2 to strength, and it is not uncommon for Orcish worshippers of
Corellan to lose their -2 wisdom penalty instead of gaining a feat at
6th level.
Many Orcs now have an alignment of chaotic neutral or chaotic
good, though evil Orcs are still quite common; the race has become
somewhat schizophrenic in that regards. The good and evil Orcs tend to
cooperate somewhat, as both generally agree that their hatred of their
enslavement outweighs their disagreements with each other. (The clerics
of Gruumsh frown on this cooperation, but are in a difficult situation;
they feat losing their remaining authority if they push the race into
further self-destructive actions such as a civil war. It is not
uncommon for a tribe to have a cleric of each god, continually fighting
for the hearts and souls of the entire group.)
Each year, some Orcs manage to escape into the underdark, and a
few of them make it to the civilized areas despite the great hazards.
It is only a matter of time before they count as one of the minor
underdark races as well as a surface race; the escapees are generally of
the good alignments, and are taken in and trained by the Drow. The more
dour evil Orcs often end up working for the Duergar, who they don't like
much but who pay well and don't expect much as long as you keep working
when you are supposed to.

Like the Dopplegangers but far more dangerous, Rakshasa often
come from the surface as agents of other powers (though some seek to
become powers in their own right). Known for targeting the young and
vulnerable, they seek to corrupt others with drugs, unearned power, and
other techniques.

The Sahuagin live deep below the waters, avoiding the surface
races' dementia. While not a truly virtuous race, so many of their most
vile members died off in the wars supporting the forces of evil that the
remaining Sahuagin are much more mild in their attitudes than of old;
their typical alignment is neutral. They have included Deep Sashalas in
their pantheon, and use their occasional elf-appearance members (now
more common than ever) to spy on the surface races and avoid the more
obvious snares set for them.

The devastation of nature on the surface while the fey were
missing resulted in a number of odd alliances. The Yuan-Ti are the
result of the various serpent gods from a number of pantheons all
banding together and 'corrupting' members of the surface race into a
force to protect serpent-kind everywhere. This force has been quite
effective, and works in conjunction with the lizard folk (with whom they
have a lot in common) and the fey and hags. The Yuan-Ti are generally
tolerant of the underdark races, who have done nothing to endanger
serpent-kind, and indeed delegations of them often show up in the
underdark to trade new spells, magic items, and information.
Anonymous
March 2, 2005 3:14:01 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

abnermintz@earthlink.net (Abner Mintz) wrote in
news:1gsrprf.qyfdgp1j5o9neN%abnermintz@earthlink.net:

>
> OK, here's the rough draft of the various races for my underdark
> campaign, with enough flavor included to give some idea of various
> interactions and possible plot-lines. Any comments?
>
>

Looks like a really interesting campaign!

--
Shadow Wolf
shadowolf3400 at yahoo dot com
Stories at http://www.asstr.org/~Shadow_Wolf
AIF at http://www.geocities.com/shadowolf3400

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Anonymous
March 3, 2005 12:43:14 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Shadow Wolf <shadowolf3400@NOSPAMyahoo.invalid> wrote:
> Looks like a really interesting campaign!

Thanks! I wanted something out of the ordinary. I may have
succeeded - the players look a bit confused but fairly
enthusiastic. :) 
Related resources
Anonymous
March 3, 2005 12:43:15 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Abner Mintz wrote:

> Shadow Wolf <shadowolf3400@NOSPAMyahoo.invalid> wrote:
>
>>Looks like a really interesting campaign!
>
>
> Thanks! I wanted something out of the ordinary. I may have
> succeeded - the players look a bit confused but fairly
> enthusiastic. :) 

I also thought it seemed pretty cool.

- Ron ^*^
March 3, 2005 8:11:10 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Abner Mintz wrote:

[whoa, much snippage]

I'm reminded of the classic "Ebon Mirror" module. In that one, the PCs
are moved, all unknowing, into a mirror-universe where alignments are
reversed.

IMS it went like this:

Elves -- bloodthirsty psychopaths. Favored class barbarian.
Halflings -- cold, affectless, murderously efficient. FC fighter.
Dwarves -- gibbering mad scientists. FC wizard.
Gnomes -- brutish subhumans. Relentless trackers. FC ?
Humans -- as normal, except aligments are reversed, and the default
human is violently xenophobic.

Ogres -- Gentle, kindly giants
Goblins -- clever tinkers
Orcs -- rough, good-hearted. Singers of songs and drinkers of ale!

Undead were good-aligned ("The only good human is a dead one," say the
humanoids) and channelled positive energy. One major NPC was a paladin
vampire. Magic was also reversed; cures became inflicts, illusions
were summonings, and so forth.

It was a crackling good adventure, very well done. That said, I think
I like your races better! The ditsy Drow in particular. Though the
obsessive (but not evil per se) Derro are also pretty cool. And the
jolly, somewhat condescending Beholders. And the Umber Hulk's "Rigid
Thinking" power... heh.

I also like the fact that most races were switched, but not all. Cool.


Where's the rest of the campaign setting?


Waldo
Anonymous
March 3, 2005 3:13:28 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

"Abner Mintz" <abnermintz@earthlink.net> wrote in message
news:1gsrprf.qyfdgp1j5o9neN%abnermintz@earthlink.net...
> OK, here's the rough draft of the various races for my underdark
> campaign, with enough flavor included to give some idea of various
> interactions and possible plot-lines. Any comments?
>
> Races of the Underdark

Cool stuff. Reminds me of one of the old Wizardry computer games (#3?)
where instead of being the traditional "good races" starting at the surface
and working your way down through the levels of the dungeon you get to play
"the bad guys" and start at the bottom of the dungeon and work your way up.

I like the history of your campaign and the general roles of the various
races all seem logical.



--

-smithdoerr
Anonymous
March 3, 2005 8:17:02 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

"Werebat" <ranpoirier@cox.net> wrote in message
news:M3tVd.35594$755.33191@lakeread05...
>
>
> Abner Mintz wrote:
>
>> Shadow Wolf <shadowolf3400@NOSPAMyahoo.invalid> wrote:
>>
>>>Looks like a really interesting campaign!
>>
>>
>> Thanks! I wanted something out of the ordinary. I may have
>> succeeded - the players look a bit confused but fairly
>> enthusiastic. :) 
>
> I also thought it seemed pretty cool.

Excellent work! I love it!

--
^v^v^Malachias Invictus^v^v^

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishment the scroll,
I am the Master of my fate:
I am the Captain of my soul.

from _Invictus_, by William Ernest Henley
Anonymous
March 3, 2005 11:09:24 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Abner Mintz wrote:


> Derro are descendants of the worshippers of Dumathoin, the
> dwarven god of secrets, who was captured by the Yugoloth lords before
> the Exodus. The only god who knew all of the escape routes, he was
> tortured to make him reveal that information - and refused to break.
To
> the best of anyone's knowledge, his torment continues eternally, and
has
> long since descended into madness. His tribes of dwarves,
> unfortunately, followed him.

My favorite part. I would so play a Derro in this world, and I never
gave a damn about that race before. :) 

Otherwise, all well-thought, and well-written. Nicely done!

--
Jay Knioum
The Mad Afro
Anonymous
March 16, 2005 10:03:36 AM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Long overdue, I realize, but I watched the movie "Robots" with my son
the other night and it features a Tom Waits song that would be good as
theme music for character generation in this campaign. I'd intended to
use it myself if/when I ever get around to running an underdark game
(Night Below, maybe).

It's called "Underground" and it's off the "Swordfishtrombones" CD. A
word of warning: Tom's music is a little odd, and may not be attuned to
everyone's ear (think of a mongrelman bard).

Here's the lyrics:

> Rattle Big Black Bones
> in the Danger zone
> there's a rumblin' groan
> down below
> there's a big dark town
> it's a place I've found
> there's a world going on
> UNDERGROUND
> they're alive, they're awake
> while the rest of the world is asleep
> below the mine shaft roads
> it will all unfold
> there's a world going on
> UNDERGROUND
> all the roots hang down
> swing from town to town
> they are marching around
> down under your boots
> all the trucks unload
> beyond the gopher holes
> there's a world going on
> UNDERGROUND

- Ron ^*^


Abner Mintz wrote:
> OK, here's the rough draft of the various races for my underdark
> campaign, with enough flavor included to give some idea of various
> interactions and possible plot-lines. Any comments?
>
> Races of the Underdark
>
> Note: All of the following list the most common (stereotypical) behavior
> and attitudes of each race. In each people there are exceptions - the
> cheerful duergar or the martial kobold exist, they just aren't common.
>
> The Civilized Races (Major)
>
> The Dark Creepers (and Dark Stalkers) are the descendants of the
> few surviving good-aligned Halflings (and good-aligned Humans) who made
> it with the other races into the underdark. Each group was too small to
> survive on its own, so the weakened Halfling pantheon spent most of its
> remaining power to help them adapt to the underdark conditions. Both
> groups tend to live on the outskirts of underdark society, not from
> ostracism but from choice - they tend to disappear for long periods of
> time in which they act as scouts and sneaky defenders of their chosen
> communities, returning only when they have run out of supplies and can
> no longer live on the land. Most underdark towns and cities realize the
> essential nature of this task, and gladly give supplies (or medical
> help) to the Dark Ones on the rare occasion that they show up.
> Dark Ones are not inherently antisocial, and can be quite
> pleasant to good people who notice them - but they don't go out of their
> way to be noticed, and often hide even from good people just to keep in
> practice ... and to make sure such people are really good. Paranoia is
> an occupational hazard for suspicious scouts. Still, more than one
> adventuring group that got in over its head has been saved as a squad of
> Dark Ones stabbed the backs of their enemies from the shadows and then
> vanished (if they were ever seen at all).
> Most Dark Ones favor the rogue and/or ranger classes and are of
> CG alignment. They worship the Halfling pantheon, which has begun to
> recover its power as the number of Dark Ones grows.
>
> The typical Drow is a creature of spontaneous joy - she
> celebrates life. Finding a Drow that is not a poet, a singer, or a
> dancer is a rare thing indeed, and the remaining ones usually find some
> other artistic outlet. As a result, a Drow city is a thing of great
> beauty, though there is some truth to the claims that they always run
> their plans by the Duergar first to make sure the foundation won't
> collapse under all the ornate fluorishes. The finished results are
> rarely static - rather, the Drow continually rework, redesign, and add
> on 'just one more thing' - and if it wasn't for some degree of innate
> good taste, the result would probably look like Las Vegas after a few
> generations. As it is, almost all Drow architecture has permanent
> faerie fires involved, and the roofs of occupied caverns or houses is
> made to resemble a starscape, for dancing under the stars is the one
> thing they most miss about the surface world.
> Drow have a tendency to practical jokes, which they take with
> good humor whether perpetrating or receiving as long as no one is
> endangered. (A loss of dignity is not 'endangered'.) They consider
> many of the other races to take life too seriously; the underdark isn't
> really such a bad place to live, after all! Thus, they try to help
> others keep some perspective. The practical jokes of the young do have
> a tendency to get out of hand, which can be dangerous when coupled with
> the drow's great magical abilities. The Drow provide underdark society
> with most of its wizards and sorcerers; Drow craftsmen, often working
> with the Duergar, provide most of its magic items.
> The one thing that Drow seem to take seriously is love in its
> various forms - love of family, love of friends, love of society, love
> of art or the Art. Their patron goddess (and now head of the pantheon)
> is Eilistrae, the Lady of the Dance, whose consort, Corellan Lotherian,
> was once the leader of the surface elf pantheon; most of the surface elf
> pantheon is now worshipped by the drow instead. Corellan maintained
> some of his power due to his many secret orc worshippers.
> The lateness (or earliness) of drow to almost any appointment is
> proverbial, as they tend to think that time doesn't matter much, except
> during choreography. Other races sometimes joke that if a drow finds
> herself on time, she will either wait outside until she is an hour late
> or she will start practicing chronomancy to see if she can't arrange to
> be an hour early.
> Perform is considered a class skill for all Drow.
>
> The Duergar are the master craftsmen of the underdark. The
> product of a Duergar is guaranteed to be of at least masterwork quality
> (they refuse to sell anything else, destroying and recreating anything
> that falls short), though it may not be beautiful: above all else, they
> place efficiency and safety. Only if beauty does not take away from
> those two goals does beauty become a consideration. If a Duergar item
> has any decoration, it usually is a functional one - for instance,
> Duergar wands often have little gem chips, one for each charge
> remaining; as each charge is used, the gem chip crumbles, leaving no
> chance of mistaking how many charges are left and trying to use the item
> in an emergency only to find it has run out.
> Most duergar tend to have a dim view of the world; they took the
> defeat by the surface-dwelling races harder than anyone (which is
> ironic, considering that they already lived mostly underground), and
> never seem to have recovered. Part of that may be a reflection on their
> deities, who saw the dwarves as a craftwork, and then watched most of
> their craftwork descend into degeneration and evil. While not precisely
> pessimists, the Duergar version of extreme realism is uncomfortable for
> many others, who see them as gloomy. The Duergar see it more as
> practicality; for instance, if a craftsman is too old to work, of course
> those around him will support him until he dies, without complaint or
> comment - but many such craftsman produce a pyre as their last work and
> hold a wake which culimnates with them lying down in the flames after
> their last goodbyes. Many a sentient weapon has been forged in the
> workpyre of a Duergar craftsman.
> Duergar tend to live on their own, either in their own towns or
> in concentrated subsections of a larger town ('the Duergar quarter').
> These areas are rarely lit; people get around by darkvision and engraves
> street signs, though some areas are well lit by the greater forges.
> Many Duergar, however, go forth to serve others, especially those with
> too low a dexterity for the more fine craftswork. 'A hand that can't
> make a hammer can certainly swing one' is an old adage. A continual
> influx of Duergar heroes thus serves to make the entire Underdark safer
> for everyone.
> Duergar men are bald, but can grow wiry beards; Duergar women
> usually have wiry hair on their heads and no beards. There are
> exceptions to each rule, though.
> The Duergar worship what was formerly the surface dwarf
> pantheon, with the notable addition of Laduguer, the Great Craftsman,
> the LN god of responsibility and hard work (also known as the Gray
> Protector among those who work as adventurers rather than as craftsmen).
> The typical Duergar is LG, and the ability penalties have been
> altered: the charisma penalty is only -2, not -4, and a player may
> choose to have a -2 penalty to dexterity instead of charisma, as many
> adventuring Duergar are clumbsy craftsman with a more outgoing
> disposition.
>
> If Duergar are the master craftsmen and Drow are the performing
> artists, Kobolds are the everyday workers - the shopkeepers, the junior
> craftsmen, the grocers and farmers and (yes) janitors. It's unlikely
> that underdark society would work if it wasn't for hordes of eager and
> cheerful workers doing the small but essential tasks. They are also
> famous for their traps and security systems, causing the more
> irresponsible rogues to use 'Kobold' as a curse under their breath.
> Most Kobolds are workaholics at work and then family-oriented as
> soon as they get home - real salt of the earth folks. The typical
> Kobold is LG. While not very clever, their fingers are nimble enough
> for most work, and anything needing greater strength can be turned over
> to other races. Often Duergar design an efficient device or product,
> Drow decorate it almost to the point of non-function, and Kobolds
> compromise the two to result in an elegant but beautiful design.
> It should be noted that Kobolds can smell condensation a mile
> away, and a person showing them disrespect will end up paying for it in
> a million ways, as their essential tasks remain undone by any Kobold
> until the offender finds the offended Kobold and sincerely
> apologizes(and often materially apologizes, in the form of large amounts
> of money, the size of the amount depending on how wealthy they are - the
> Kobolds are not greedy).
> It should also be noted that some Kobolds get artistic
> pretensions (and, to be fair, some of them show some real talent). The
> Drow take such very seriously and encourage it greatly, a behavior which
> even the Kobolds cannot yet tell whether it is honest patronage or a
> particularly long-lasting practical joke (and, if the latter, who the
> joke is on - the Kobolds or everyone else).
> The trap-building Kobolds often take the surname 'Tucker' and
> the more martial Kobolds often take the surname 'Jecks', in honor of
> former great leaders who helped them gain the respect of other races.
>
> The Svirfneblin are the rare exception to the general attitude
> of cooperation among the refugee races of the Exodus; they had already
> become paranoid before that, and during the Exodus they just ...
> disappeared. Many years later the recovering races came upon
> strongholds carved in the living rock, from which would come taunts and
> hails of crossbow bolts. Though some trading has been set up over time
> and some Svirfneblin have come out to join the wider society, the
> majority of Svirfneblin are still hiding.
> Unfortunately, the Svirfneblin also have a tendency to play off
> both ends against the middle. They tend to allow groups of either side
> (surface race or underdark race) to pass through their territory once,
> not even letting them know that they are doing so - then prevent their
> return by using their rapport with earth elementals to close those
> tunnels against the group's return. In doing so, they hope to cut
> groups off in enemy territory, where they will fight to the death,
> weakening both sides. In the common Svirfneblin view, all others are
> their enemies, and weakening others just strengthens their position.
> They similarly foment discord in the other races where possible -
> encouraging plans for Gith to attack Mind Flayers, Mind Flayers to
> undermine the surface races, surfacers to crusade against the Drow, and
> so on and so forth. So many of those who joined the underdark society
> turned out to be spies or agents that the sincere Svirfneblin faces an
> uphill battle to be accepted and trusted. Svirfneblin have been
> responsible for far too many deaths without bloodying their blades or
> bolts.
> The typical Svirfneblin is of neutral alignment, and worships
> the old Gnome pantheon (but most of the Gnome gods have become bitter
> about non-Gnomes, so don't expect that to moderate their behavior much).
>
> The Civilized Races (Minor)
>
> The Aranea (or spider-shifters) are a minor component of
> underdark society for several reasons. First, they are quite rare.
> Secondly, they were originally created by Lolth's dark magics at work
> upon the drow; while they managed to shrug off her corruption, their
> alignment is highly variable from generation to generation - two NG
> aranea can easily give birth to unmanagable offspring who turn to evil
> despite all their attempts at proper raising. Most aranea tend to live
> in small groups in the underdark wilderness, trading back and forth
> members who turn out to have the wrong alignment for that group. Their
> overall alignment is still neutral, but exceptions are more common than
> not.
>
> It is often said that if it hadn't been for the Beholders, the
> races of the Exodus would have never survived. While this may be an
> exaggeration, there is no denying that the groups that found one of the
> Great Hives of the Beholders generally did rather well. The jovial and
> avuncular (if somewhat condenscending) Beholders helped them carve out
> the first few cities before returning to their own pursuits, and even
> now can be convinced to join in on some of the larger excavation
> projects, though they have a strong tendency to argue that a vertical
> design is better than a horizontal one (which has led to some Drow
> cities where levitation is truly crucial if you want to visit anything
> but the ground floor).
> The Beholders strongly believe that Beholders are superior to
> other lifeforms (and that their own Hive of Beholders is superior to the
> other Hives), which doesn't lead to much participation in external
> society. Beholders keep to their own kind almost exclusively, though
> they treat other goodly races kindly enough, much like a doting
> grandfather giving a child a lollipop. Beholders seen elsewhere tend to
> be on enigmatic errands that they refuse to explain.
> The exception, of course, is the magistrate Beholders.
> Occasionally a Beholder will do something to offend its Hive - not so
> badly as to be cast out forever, but badly enough that some punishment
> is in order. While tasks such as excavating a new Hive all by itself
> was typical in the old days, the new situation brought a new opportunity
> for punishment for minor infractions: the offending Beholder is
> sentenced to act as a magistrate in the courts of the other goodly
> races. Such a Beholder shows up at the legal system of that race,
> declares itself to be a judge, asks to be told (or preferably allowed to
> read) all the local law and general procedures ... and then starts
> taking cases for judgement. The other races soon got used to this and
> stopped arguing about it. Wouldn't you?
> The LG Beholders make good judges, and many have served for up
> to 50 years at a time. Repeats are rare, but there are some who found
> the process so interesting that they stuck around voluntarily after
> their sentence was over; at that point, they start getting paid, though
> they often donate large amounts of the pay to various charities.
>
> Bugbears often work as manual laborers. During the Exodus, many
> of them were left enslaved on the surface, and many of them still dream
> of returning to the surface and freeing their compatriots. Others
> figure that they've got theirs and to the Abyss with anyone else. Often
> opportunistic and with major problems with authority of any sort, you
> never know what you're going to get when you meet a bugbear - a brave
> freedom fighter is just as likely as idealistic dreamer or an
> unrealistic anarchist. Their usual alignment is CN.
>
> Derro are descendants of the worshippers of Dumathoin, the
> dwarven god of secrets, who was captured by the Yugoloth lords before
> the Exodus. The only god who knew all of the escape routes, he was
> tortured to make him reveal that information - and refused to break. To
> the best of anyone's knowledge, his torment continues eternally, and has
> long since descended into madness. His tribes of dwarves,
> unfortunately, followed him. (As a result, this is not a recommended PC
> race.) The madness varies from Derro to Derro, but usually takes the
> form of obsessions which are pursued above all else. Two Derro who
> share compatible obsessions (say, one with types of rope, the other with
> all the possible knots one can tie) may raise children together. The
> children start out reasonably normal, and then get more obsessive as
> they grow older, flitting from obsession to obsession until they
> (usually) settle on one topic. A Derro with an obsession with baking
> the most delicious pies is a treasure to any bakery (as long as he
> doesn't diverge into baking pies that would be delicious to Delvers); a
> Derro with an obsession with the secrets of anatomy is a threat to all
> living creatures around him. Nevertheless, underdark society tends to
> tolerate and try to make room for all but the most dangerous of Derro
> obsessions, for if Dumathoin had broken and revealed the escape routes,
> it is unlikely that anyone would have survived the Exodus followed by
> the dangers of the underdark. All Derro are CN, without exception.
>
> The various Elemental Weirds (MM2) are almost an accepted part
> of underdark society in some ways. Though they do not live with
> underdark society, staying in their nodes, many members of the underdark
> races go to them as soothsayers and advice-givers, a role they seem to
> either tolerate or relish (those who do not do either are quickly left
> alone); sometimes the price (always announced in advance) is ... odd
> ... if the asker has a high charisma, resulting in a number of
> half-elementals in underdark society.
>
> The Gith are the descendants of good-aligned humans who fled
> into the underdark. Unfortunately for the history of the underdark, the
> major human parts of the Exodus were intercepted by the Mind Flayers,
> who used them as cattle and slaves for years. The great spiritual
> leader Gith discovered how to use their newly flowering psionic
> abilities to shield themselves against the Mind Flayers, who they
> proceeded to butcher in a great rebellion and then fled from
> retaliation. Many Gith fled to other planes, where their history
> followed more normal paths, but others fled into the underdark. When
> they sought out the growing underdark civilization, their questions
> about why they had not been rescued were finally answered: the other
> races had thought they had been annihilated, and certainly hadn't been
> strong enough to look for them in the strongholds of the Mind Flayers.
> The Gith were integrated into underdark society, and flowered in
> many ways, becoming its greatest defense against the Mind Flayers. Most
> Gith develop their talents as defenses and then join as adventuring
> parties specifically designed to hunt their foes. As such, they rarely
> join with non-Gith groups, who tend to be more vulnerable (and thus a
> liability), but the occasional less-obsessed Gith does follow that path.
> The typical Gith is similar to a MM Githyanki, except that they
> are generally of NG alignment and they get an additional +4 to saving
> throws against psionic effects, but do not get any special treatment by
> Red Dragons. Some of them still worship some of the obscure human
> deities that are remembered by no other group; many a Mind Flayer has
> been badly hurt by a bash on the noggin by a vengeful Gith worshipper of
> St. Cuthbert of the Cudgel.
> (Sad to say, the Githzerai often work as assassins for the
> surface races, but since the surface races generally send these
> assassins against each other's leaders rather than the underdark
> peoples, this fact is rarely a problem for the civilized races.)
>
> The Gloamings are the result of some Fey getting cut off from
> the (temporary) retreat into Faerie around the time of the Exodus; they
> were forced to retreat into the Plane of Shadow instead. Though they
> eventually escaped through various portals into the underdark, they were
> changed by their time spent there and did not truly feel comfortable
> rejoining the Fey. They are usually CN or CG in alignment, though
> exceptions of almost any alignment occur. They often take jobs
> involving travel from one place to another, as they tend to get restless
> after a few years in one spot (or shorter for some).
>
> The Grimlocks are not very intelligent, but they are extremely
> devoted to those they choose to serve. Many Grimlocks thus act as
> butlers or maids to rich households, and many Medusae hire exclusively
> Grimlocks for their homes, as that allows them to 'let their veils down'
> without fear of harming the help. Many Grimlocks also act as guards of
> important (but not very dangerous) waypoints, as they don't seem to get
> bored with such duty the way most races would. The typical Grimlock is
> neutral good.
>
> The Hobgoblins saw the way the wind was blowing when the Orcs
> made their great mistake and got out when the getting was good. They
> made an organized retreat into the underdark following about a dozen
> years after the Exodus. Since the paths the other races took were the
> least dangerous (the monsters had not fully recovered), they inevitably
> ended up where the other races had fled. This led to many of them
> joining the humans in the Mind Flayer larders, but many others basically
> marched up in formation to the barely fortified cities and declared that
> they could be paid to help or they could take what they needed, so what
> was your decision?
> Most Hobgoblin groups now work as warriors, guards, and
> mercenaries for various underdark cities. They rarely hire out in
> groups of less than 50, though the rare individualistic Hobgoblin does
> join a group of adventurers in hopes of advancing in skill more quickly
> than can occur on barracks duty. Hobgoblins are quite reliable once a
> contract has been signed, and through experience most governments
> learned to put in a 'once the contract ends and is not renewed, go away
> peacefully and not attack within 10 years' clause into any contract
> signed with them. Most such clauses are not really necessary any more,
> as most Hobgoblin groups have caught a bad case of civilization and
> would rather get a fat paycheck than loot. Hobgoblins tend to regard
> the group they work for as being 'theirs' in some odd adopted ownership,
> and defend it with pride and loyalty - but if the defended group doesn't
> renew the contract, they leave with no signs of loss or regret,
> searching for a new place to work.
> The typical Hobgoblin is lawful neutral.
>
> The Kuo-Toa were already there when the Exodus occured; they had
> lived in the underdark since time immemorial. Unfortunately, before the
> other races arrived they were badly outnumbered by the evil underdark
> denizens and were hovering on the edge of extinction. They have since
> recovered in numbers somewhat, but a limited gene pool and bad
> inbreeding seems to have damaged the race in ways that have not yet been
> healed.
> The Kuo-Toa are a kindly and gentle race, deeply theistic in
> worldview. Most of them end up with a level or two in cleric, druid, or
> monk, though the occasional paladin is not unknown.
> As an aquatic race, they tend to live in different areas than
> the other races, but there is some cooperation where they meet and many
> underdark cities have Kuo-Toa mystics living in nearby waters, keeping
> an eye out for aboleth and other horrors. The typical Kuo-Toa is
> neutral good.
>
> The Medusae were another native underdark race with good
> tendencies who gladly met the members of the Exodus with open arms
> (after a few unfortunate misunderstandings, none of which couldn't be
> solved by asking their companion Maedar to turn the statue back to
> flesh, sorry for the mistake). The events of the Exodus have been an
> incredible boon for the Medusae, who soon integrated into underdark
> society with great will (and special magic veils produced by the Drow).
> Their lawful bent (the typical Medusa is LG) led to them joining police
> forces, as both their special attacks are non-lethal and can be used to
> restrain potential malefactors without killing them. Many a Drow
> practical joker has spent considerable time 'getting stoned', as one
> Drow joker-philosopher named Rastafar put it. Almost no Medusae live
> out in the wilderness any more, except for a few hermitic types and the
> rare evil Medusae.
>
> The Umber Hulks live on the outskirts of civilized society, or
> even in the wilderness itself, forming small monestaries they carve out
> of the rock. Many of them take levels in Monk, and all are of a
> contemplative nature, but it can be dangerous to disturb them,
> especially as their gaze can spread their extremely logical and lawful
> thought to others, causing the victims 'Rigid Thinking' in which they
> cannot change their actions, performing the same tasks over and over.
> The typical Umber Hulk is lawful neutral, though more than one wag has
> referred to them a 'lawful slow-but-certain', and Rastafar referred to
> their visage as 'the ultimate poker face'.
>
> Other Notable Underdark Races
>
> The Aboleth are still outraged that their territory has been
> invaded (and just as they had nearly eliminated those pesky Kuo-Toa,
> too!). Many of the civilized races' problems turn out to be the results
> of various Aboleth plots; their watery grasp flows deep and far. The
> Avolakia are one of their creations, used as agents on land when the
> Aboleth find their direct reach too short. It is not known how the
> Aboleth keep the Avolakia under control, and some suspect that they
> don't - they just rely on any Avolakia getting out of control being
> malign enough to continue doing the desired damage. The greatest
> support for this theory is the fact that the ones within short reach of
> Aboleth are universally sorcerers, while those who get further inland
> soon turn to clericism, an abomination among the Aboleth.
>
> Chokers were the results of various Aboleth experiments on
> captured victims (just what sort of victims is not known, though just
> about every race claims it was someone else). Chokers are mostly a
> nuisance, but the Aboleth keep releasing more of them in hopes of
> grinding the civilized races down over time.
>
> The Cloakers are generally peaceful towards other races that
> don't invade their territory, but they are notoriously violent towards
> those who do. The civilized races have taken to placing warning signs
> around the territory when it is found, but problems occur when the
> Cloakers move to new areas and the first you know about it is when they
> attack you for going down a tunnel that was just fine a week ago. Their
> minds are too alien for good communication back and forth, though some
> bards have managed the trick and convinced them through a spectacular
> performance to go elsewhere.
>
> The Desmodu (or bat people) are an example of history gone bad.
> Many an underdark philosopher has speculated what might have happened if
> they had been just a bit less territorial; as it was, the Desmodu fell
> upon the Exodus with waves of fanatical attackers; males, females, and
> children all fought to the death. Though they inflicted horrible damage
> on the defenders, in the end there weren't enough of them to win and
> they died trying. The remaining Desmodu are more cautious, but no less
> driven to regain their homelands (for many of the Exodus peoples took
> over the now-empty Desmodu cities out of desperate need after most of
> their defenders were weakened fighting off the Desmodu). Such cities
> have constant problems with Desmodu undead, especially vampires, and
> attacks by groups of barbarians when the local Desmodu population grows
> great enough. Luckily, the Desmodu never seem to have enough patience
> to wait long enough to have a real chance. Some of them have turned to
> more subtle strategems.
>
> If the surface Elves get their hands on a Drow, they often
> inflict a cruel curse on them that turns them into a Drider. This curse
> results in insanity as well as physical deformation, though both have
> been cured in some cases if the victim was newly afflicted. If you can
> capture such an unfortunate without killing them, please bring them to
> the magistrates as soon as possible, but don't let yourself get killed
> in the process!
>
> Some druids of the underdark still see the civilized races as a
> horrible disruption of the natural order. One result of this seems to
> be attempts to turn nature itself against them. In many caves, strange
> growths of stone are transformed by druids into Gargoyles. Somehow,
> once in existance, they can create more of their kind over time, so the
> occasional plague of Gargoyles has to be dealt with.
>
> The Grell are a continual hazard to their neighbors, especially
> in the great Grell Nations where they form cooperative groups of
> thousands led by vastly more intelligent Grell Savants (seemingly the
> same species, appearing by some modification of the common Grell).
> Luckily for the rest of the underdark, the Mind Flayers seem to find
> Grell to be the ultimate in a good meal, and in any conflict between the
> two the Grell seem to come out the worst for it.
>
> Hook Horrors and Meenlocks are a common hazard of the underdark.
> It has become clear that both were originally created from more
> civilized stock by dark experiments, but unlike with the Chokers it is
> not clear who is responsible; many suspect the surface races, but are
> not entirely sure.
>
> The Mind Flayers are evil slime balls - always were, always will
> be. If someone finds a good-aligned Mind Flayer, sheer shock will
> probably cause the universe to come to an end. Luckily for everyone
> else, the Gith have taken up hunting Mind Flayers with a will, so the
> Mind Flayers tend to stay away from civilized territory - just you stay
> away from theirs, unless you are a Gith (and even then, be careful).
>
> The Minotaurs have great labyrinths of tunnels all wrapped
> around each other like a big plate of spaghetti, filled with traps and
> ambushes. It is rumored that they have tamed Delvers and Purple Worms
> to create the tunnels. It is best to avoid these areas, as they find
> outsiders the perfect targets for their sadistic games.
>
> The Psurlons crawl through the underdark like maggots, looking
> for weak spots to spread like an infection. Happily for all other
> races, large group action seems to be foreign to their natures, and they
> often overreach themselves before doing significant damage. They seem
> to have a real hatred for the Mind Flayers and vice versa; there is
> probably a story there, but would any sane person want to hear it?
>
> Troglodytes dwell in the deep caves and hidden places, hating
> everyone and everything including other groups of troglodytes. As such,
> they don't have the cohesion necessary to be a large-scale threat to the
> other races. They are still a threat to small groups and caravans,
> however.
>
> Notable Surface Races
>
> The Dopplegangers work for the other surface races as spies,
> assassins, and agents; many of them end up in the underdark as part of
> some plot or another. This is a perennial problem which is not likely
> to go away any time soon. Most civilized races have various ways of
> keeping eyes out for Dopplegangers; often Beholder eyes. The
> magistrates don't like fake people, it upsets their sense of order.
>
> The Dwarves long ago turned to deals with various devils for
> additional power with which to smite their various enemies. The results
> of such deals inevitably lead to greater corruption and cruelty, so the
> Dwarves are now a race of slavers and tyrants, forming rigid hierarchies
> of oppression with all the other races they control at the bottom. Some
> of the evil gods of a lawful bent turned their attention to these
> fertile fields for conversion, but most are still devil-worshippers.
> Still, many would prefer capture by the Dwarves to the results of
> capture by Elves or Halflings.
>
> The Elves, contrary-wise to the Dwarves, turned to various demon
> lords for succor, and have turned to degenerate displays of raw magical
> might and great necromantic projects that often fall apart on a whim;
> many of the world's great variety of undead, aberrations, and nastier
> elementals result from a careless Elven wizard who fell victim to her
> own creations. Unless you know what demon lord (or chaotic god of evil)
> an individual elf follows, it is hard to know what to expect - except
> that it's going to be very, very bad. Battles between the Dwarves and
> Elves are legendary, with most other races fleeing quickly from between
> the waves of devil-supported Dwarven warriors and the Elves' summoned
> demons.
>
> The fey and the wise folk (known as 'hags' by the less polite of
> the surface races, though in truth each of them has three forms: maiden,
> mother, and crone) as a group were devastated in the great wars. Many
> of them fled into the realm of Faerie, from which their return has been
> cautious and quiet - but return they did. They now fight to keep nature
> functioning amid the sea of evil and depravity; as a result, many of the
> surface races fear natural areas and avoid them when possible. The fey
> are generally neutral in overall alignment, but many have turned quite
> vicious towards despoilers of nature, using their magics to destroy all
> who violate their lands; the Seelie and Unseelie courts no longer fight
> each other, but instead vie to see who can destroy the most interlopers.
> The remaining druids join in this constant battle, even most of the evil
> ones.
>
> The Gnomes treated the entire situation leading up to the Exodus
> as a joke in increasingly bad taste - they just couldn't believe that
> things were getting as bad as others told them (and due to their minor
> role in the world, were not important enough to get attacked until very
> late in the whole chain of events). By the time they realized how much
> trouble they were in, they barely had time to escape, and many of them
> didn't - they were decimated (in the modern sense - 9 in 10, not 1 in
> 10). It is unknown if any Gnomes survive on the surface, perhaps as
> slaves, perhaps as willing participants in the battle of evils.; it may
> be that the Svirfneblin are the only Gnomes left.
>
> The Goblins hid when they saw what happened to the Orcs, but it
> didn't help much. They also were mostly enslaved, though rarely
> slaughtered, and many of them have since become accepted citizens of the
> degenerate and vicious Overbright cities. There were some rare goblins
> who turned to good, but most of them just got worse than ever as they
> turned to demon worship.
>
> The Halflings fell under the influence of a particularly nasty
> fiend named Shuggua, perhaps a Yugoloth lord, perhaps something older.
> This being exhorts its followers onto the path of consumption:
> literally, eat what you can. This is not quite gluttony - to a
> Halfling, it matters less how much you can eat and more who you can eat.
> A Halfling that eats rats or carrots is an ashamed Halfling; a Halfling
> that eats Humans is happy, and a Halfling with a lunch of demon or devil
> is a Halfling hero! The Halflings have supplemented their rogueish
> tendencies with the use of various poisons, and many a traveller of
> another race has had as his last sight (as his limbs stiffened
> uselessly) a halfling getting out a fire-starter, a skillet, and a
> selection of spices. Many Halflings gain tolerance of various poisons
> in increasing doses due to a belief that the best spice for a meal is
> the poison you used to kill it. Other, more degenerate Halflings eat
> their meals alive and paralyzed.
>
> The Humans are by far the most erratic of the surface races;
> some of them still resist the sea of corruption, while others wallow in
> it to degrees that make the other races a bit nervous. Tales of the
> darker Humans (such as Kyuss, Vecna, Kas, and Mordenkainen) are used to
> scare Drow children into behaving a bit better, but everyone has heard
> stories of the rare Human who secretly helped a stray underdark native
> escape the overbright and return home; some of them still flee
> underground from time to time. Those who join underdark society,
> though, almost inevitably seem to transform into Dark Stalkers after
> only a few years (as soon as the Halfling gods have gotten a true
> measure of them and found them worthy); those who don't turn out to be
> secret demon-worshipping agents or the like. At this point the surface
> races have almost stopped sending human agents for this very reason.
>
> The Lizard Folk are one of the few surface races to maintain
> their independance of evil; living in dangerous swamps, able to stay
> underwater for long periods of time, and with connections to both the
> good and evil dragons (both of which were too proud to submit to
> fiendish domination), they have engaged in guerrilla (well, lizard)
> warfare against all who came against them with great success. They do
> not have much contact with the underdark races, though, as swamps are
> not prime cave territory. Their contacts with the underdark races have
> generally been peaceful when they occured.
>
> The Orcs were nearly annihilated by the surface races; the great
> god Gruumsh set them to conquer all the other races at exactly the wrong
> time: just after the goodly races successfully escaped into the
> underdark. The surface races took out all their frustrations on the
> Orcs, who now survive mostly as slaves or in hiding in small groups.
> Thousands of years of slavery and fear turned many of them against their
> former pantheon, and quite a few have turned to their former god's
> greatest enemy: Corellan Lotharian, who took out their god's eye during
> a battle just before the Exodus. These worshippers try to emulate the
> grace of the elves; what they miss in style, they try to make up in
> grace. As a result, most surface orcs now have +2 to dexterity, but
> only a +2 to strength, and it is not uncommon for Orcish worshippers of
> Corellan to lose their -2 wisdom penalty instead of gaining a feat at
> 6th level.
> Many Orcs now have an alignment of chaotic neutral or chaotic
> good, though evil Orcs are still quite common; the race has become
> somewhat schizophrenic in that regards. The good and evil Orcs tend to
> cooperate somewhat, as both generally agree that their hatred of their
> enslavement outweighs their disagreements with each other. (The clerics
> of Gruumsh frown on this cooperation, but are in a difficult situation;
> they feat losing their remaining authority if they push the race into
> further self-destructive actions such as a civil war. It is not
> uncommon for a tribe to have a cleric of each god, continually fighting
> for the hearts and souls of the entire group.)
> Each year, some Orcs manage to escape into the underdark, and a
> few of them make it to the civilized areas despite the great hazards.
> It is only a matter of time before they count as one of the minor
> underdark races as well as a surface race; the escapees are generally of
> the good alignments, and are taken in and trained by the Drow. The more
> dour evil Orcs often end up working for the Duergar, who they don't like
> much but who pay well and don't expect much as long as you keep working
> when you are supposed to.
>
> Like the Dopplegangers but far more dangerous, Rakshasa often
> come from the surface as agents of other powers (though some seek to
> become powers in their own right). Known for targeting the young and
> vulnerable, they seek to corrupt others with drugs, unearned power, and
> other techniques.
>
> The Sahuagin live deep below the waters, avoiding the surface
> races' dementia. While not a truly virtuous race, so many of their most
> vile members died off in the wars supporting the forces of evil that the
> remaining Sahuagin are much more mild in their attitudes than of old;
> their typical alignment is neutral. They have included Deep Sashalas in
> their pantheon, and use their occasional elf-appearance members (now
> more common than ever) to spy on the surface races and avoid the more
> obvious snares set for them.
>
> The devastation of nature on the surface while the fey were
> missing resulted in a number of odd alliances. The Yuan-Ti are the
> result of the various serpent gods from a number of pantheons all
> banding together and 'corrupting' members of the surface race into a
> force to protect serpent-kind everywhere. This force has been quite
> effective, and works in conjunction with the lizard folk (with whom they
> have a lot in common) and the fey and hags. The Yuan-Ti are generally
> tolerant of the underdark races, who have done nothing to endanger
> serpent-kind, and indeed delegations of them often show up in the
> underdark to trade new spells, magic items, and information.
Anonymous
March 16, 2005 6:00:54 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

Werebat <ranpoirier@cox.net> wrote:
> Long overdue, I realize, but I watched the movie "Robots" with my son
> the other night and it features a Tom Waits song that would be good as
> theme music for character generation in this campaign. I'd intended to
> use it myself if/when I ever get around to running an underdark game

Interesting - thanks for the thought!

I'm currently working on the last third of campaign prep - we have
the basic world setting, we have the characters, now I just need
to know the local setting and people and plotlines. I should have
it ready to post in a week or two, but this is midterms week and
my students need me working on other things right now. :) 
Anonymous
April 8, 2005 5:18:00 PM

Archived from groups: rec.games.frp.dnd (More info?)

abnermintz@earthlink.net wrote:

>Races of the Underdark

Phew! That was certainly stereotype shattering.

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