Posts Tagged ‘Underdark’

I was on a recent episode of the DM Nastics podcast!

Neal Powell was kind enough to invite me onto the cast to stretch my mind muscles with some Underdark brainstorming/story exercises. This was after I was on the Dungeon Master’s Block podcast talking about all things under and dark with Mitch and Chris! Neal is an excellent host and I had such a fun time creating adventure locations with him.

If you aren’t listening to the Dungeon Master’s Block feed and you’re a DM, then you’re also missing out! Check out the awesome advice, interviews, and exercises from some of the best in the biz. Get your DM brain swole!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my products on the DMs Guild and podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!


I sit down with Alex Basso and Rudy Basso to discuss the latest Unearthed Arcana article “Light, Dark, Underdark!” This podcast was recorded on November 11, 2015.

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Links:

If you like what you’re reading please follow me on Twitter, check out my other podcasts, Bonus Action and Gamer to Gamer, tell your friends, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

I had the honor to be on a recent episode of the DM’s Block Podcast.

The hosts of this podcast, Chris and Mitch, really know their stuff. If you like our discussion about the horrors of the underdark, you should go back and listen to their other podcasts and subscribe to their feed. If you REALLY like them, go leave them a killer review on iTunes.

Also, we reference two World Builder Blog posts during the podcast and they’re linked below!

The Underdark

Down with the Sickness

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Hey everyone! I’m taking a quick break from the Prisons for Dragons series to give you a timely article about diseases which is a companion piece for an article I wrote which was just published by the amazing team over at EN World EN5ider.

I know you’ve been thinking, “James, what about diseases? The fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide has only three sample diseases for my game and almost no information about how to craft my own. Will you please help me?” Of course, my friend. Of course.

“Get Sick!” Published

Recently I was fortunate enough to have another article published in EN World EN5ideran online magazine which publishes content for the fifth edition of the world’s most popular tabletop roleplaying game. Included in my article is a lot of advice from me about creating your own diseases and six more sample diseases to add to your game (bottle fever, demonic plague, itching insides, ooze decay, touch of aberrations, and walking rot). This post is a companion piece of my article, “Get Sick.” If you like the rest of this post, go check out the article on EN5ider.

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I have to say, if you’re playing fifth edition and craving more content, EN5ider is a great place to get it. I’m not just saying that because I’ve now written for them twice. You get one short adventure a month plus another three articles with advice on running chases, new druid circles, creating puzzles, and so much more. You get all that for $2 a month. If you don’t want the adventure, you can still score the articles for $1 a month. That’s less than a bottle of water in most places. The articles are of a great quality and EN World creator, Russ Morrissey, writes several of the best articles. You can grab some sample articles and an adventure for free so check it out.

Okay, plug over. Onto some more sample diseases!

Updating the Illnesses

Last year I wrote a post about The Underdark in Exploration Age. Amongst the many hazards Canus’s underground caverns have to offer, one of the most dangerous is diseases. The diseases I created were based on the rules presented in the final D&D Next Playtest packet. Now that we have all the core rule books for fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons, it’s time to update these little infectious wonders and add to what’s already in the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

New Diseases

The diseases below are meant to be used in The Underdark of an Exploration Age game, but can be added to any Dungeons and Dragons game at the DM’s discretion.

Mushroom Mind

The mushrooms of The Underdark are mostly harmless, but there are those that should be avoided. None more so than the green-spotted murder mushrooms. Humanoids breathing in the spores this fungi risk having them attach to their brains. From there the mushrooms grow within a victim’s skull, slowly reducing mental and physical faculties.

If a humanoid creature breathes in the spores it must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or contract mushroom mind. In 1d4 days the first symptoms appear. An infected creature begins to bald and green spots start appearing on their scalp similar to those on the murder mushrooms. Roll 1d6 on the Mushroom Mind Ability Score Damage table to see how much of which ability score is reduced for the creature. The ability score damage cannot be recovered in any way until the creature recovers from the disease.

At the end of each extended rest roll another 1d6 to determine more ability score loss. If one of the infected creature’s ability scores is reduced to 0, the creature dies.

Mushroom mind can be cured with the rare, purple-spotted relba mushroom which grows only on the graves of illithids. A character with proficiency in an herbalism kit who has the kit and 3 ounces of relba mushrooms can spend 1 hour to create one dose of a special elixir. An infected creature who drinks the elixir has the disease is cured at the end of its next long rest. Its ability score damage remains, but can be healed with a restoration spell once the disease is cured.

Mushroom Mind Ability Score Damage
d6 Effect
1 Reduce infected creature’s Strength score by 1d4.
2 Reduce infected creature’s Dexterity score by 1d4.
3 Reduce infected creature’s Constitution score by 1d4.
4 Reduce infected creature’s Intelligence score by 1d4.
5 Reduce infected creature’s Wisdom score by 1d4.
6 Reduce infected creature’s Charisma score by 1d4.
Slug Snot

When adventurers sleep in the open Underdark at night, they would be wise to plug their noses. Brown slugs called drunkbugs are known to crawl into sleeping victims’ noses and travel down their throats into their stomachs. These slugs attach themselves to the lining of the stomach and secret alcohol, thus intoxicating the victim. The victim also produces an excess of mucus which is colored brown, hence the name of the disease.

If a drunkbug crawls into a creature’s stomach, it must succeed on a DC 13 Constitution saving throw or contract slug snot. In 1d4 hours the first symptoms appear. For the duration of the disease the infected creature is poisoned. After 3d4 days of infection the disease the creature dies from alcohol poisoning and the drunkbug lays its eggs in the stomach of the corpse.

At the end of each long rest, the drunkbug relaxes its grip on the infected creature’s stomach and the target is allowed a new DC 13 Constitution saving throw. If the creature succeeds it vomits up the drunkbug and the disease is cured.

Wasting Away

There are special patches of phosphorescent, psionic paritutu mold which grow only in the deepest tunnels of The Underdark. Breathing in the paritutu spores causes wasting away which rapidly ages its victims. Elves and dragons are immune to this disease.

A creature who breathes in the spores must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or contract wasting away. In 1d4 days the first symptoms appear. The creature’s veins glow in the dark and it ages one year.

At the end of each long rest an infected creature must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. If the creature fails it ages one year. If the creature fails three of these saving throws it automatically ages 1 year at the end of every long rest and the disease can only be cured with a wish spell. If it succeeds on three of these saving throws the disease is cured, but the creature remains aged.

Wiped Away

This horrifying disease targets intelligent creatures and is caused by breathing in a magical mist created by The Void. Victims of the disease begin to forget who they are as do the people associated with the infected creature. By the end of the disease it is as the infected creature never lived and then it literally phases out of existence. Troglodytes are immune to this disease.

Those who breathe in the mist must succeed on a DC 15 Charisma saving throw or contract wiped away. In 1d4 days the first symptoms begin to appear. The creature suffers level 1 of the wiped away, described on the Wiped Away Effects table.

At the end of each extended rest an infected creature must make a DC 15 Charisma saving throw. Creatures who fail gain one level of the disease. The creature suffers from the effect of its current level of wiped away as well as the effects of all levels below its current level. If the creature succeeds its disease level is reduced by one. If the creature’s disease level is reduced below 1, the disease is cured.

Wiped Away Effects
Level Effect
1 Infected creature forgets all of its childhood. Others who have met the infected creature only once forget anything about the creature.
2 Infected creature forgets all of its adolescence. Others who have met the creature 10 times or less forget anything about the creature.
3 Infected creature forgets any passions and hobbies it has. The creature’s name and deeds disappear from all records.
4 Infected creature forgets all former romantic partners and lovers and vice versa.
5 Creature forgets all friends and family and vice versa. Creature forgets its own name.
6 Creature disappears in a puff of mists from The Void and no one remembers it ever existing.
The Void

Scholars believe there is something beneath The Underdark called The Void. This space is actually no space at all. It is absolute nothingness. It has the absence of being. There are a few places in The Underdark which are open pits into The Void.

Some nihilistic troglodyte clans worship The Void. They sacrifice victims by throwing them into nothingness and seek to end the pointlessness of existence by finding a way to set The Void free and swallow the world. Those who fall into The Void are never heard from again and cannot be raised from the dead by any means. Perhaps their soul is destroyed, they are alive somewhere within The Void, or transported somewhere else.

PDF

If you want to take these diseases with you and put them into your game, use the PDF link below.

Diseases

If you want to grab this PDF at a later date, it will live in the Free Game Resources section of this site along with monstersD&D fifth edition rules modules, backgroundsspells, magic items, and more.

Don’t forget to check out EN World EN5ider!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Author’s Note: The updated version of the monster below can now be found at the Free Game Resources page of World Builder Blog. Thank you for all your feedback and please keep it coming!

Deep beneath the surface of Canus, the progeny of an ancient alliance between aberrations and devils slumber, waiting to be awakened. The morchia, cast down and unconscious by The Reckoning Spell, have hate boiling in their sleeping hearts for the world their parents said would be theirs. Simply put, you’re not an aberrant or a devil, they hate you. The exception is of course, tieflings, whom they hate beyond measure, despite the infernal influence on their heritage. Of course, some morchia escaped the influence of The Reckoning Spell, and still wander Verda’s jungles, scheming and plotting the ways they might be able to free their kin.

This…

… plus this!

Morchia Redux

I’ve mentioned the morchia before, and I also created their statistics using the final D&D Next playtest packet. Just like The Lingering Havoc, blazing wraiths, icebreaker sharks, gaping mawsand krakens, and mystauk, I’m going to now give you my proposed morchia statistics for fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons rules.

I am keeping the random variability of the morchia as I push forward. I like that their devil traits are consistent and their aberrant traits are more of a variable. I hope you think it’s fun as well! Check it out below!

Morchia

Large monstrosity, neutral evil


Armor Class 16 (natural armor)

Hit Points  142 (15d10 + 60)

Speed  40 ft.


STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
20 (+5) 11 (+0) 18 (+4) 16 (+3) 12 (+1) 18 (+4)

Saving Throws  Dex +3, Wisdom +4

Damage Resistances cold, fire; bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from nonmagical weapons that aren’t silvered

Damage Immunities poison

Condition Immunities poisoned

Skills Deception +7, Insight +6

Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 11

Languages Deep Speech, Infernal, telepathy 60 ft.

Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)


Aberrant Trait. All morchia have at least one feature trait which can be determined by rolling on the Aberrant Feature Table below.

Devil’s Sight. Magical darkness doesn’t impede the morchia’s darkvision.

Magic Resistance. The morchia has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Actions

Multiattack. The morchia can make two attacks, or one attack and uses Hold Monster.

Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d6 + 5) slashing damage.

Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (1d10 + 5) bludgeoning damage.

Hold Monster (3/day). The morchia casts hold monster. The spell save DC for this spell is 15.


Aberrant Feature Table
d20 Time Phyiscal Feature Effect
1 Bonus Action Tentacles Tentacle. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 9 (1d8 + 5) bludgeoning damage.
2 Ooze Feet Aberrant Ground. The ground in a 10-foot radius around the morchia is doughlike difficult terrain. Each creature that starts its turn in that area must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or have its speed reduced to 0 until the start of its next turn.
3 Mouths All Over Gibbering. The morchia has mouths all over its body which babble incoherently while it can see any enemy that isn’t incapacitated. Each creature that starts its turn within 20 feet of the morchia and can hear the babbling must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw. On a failure, the creature can’t take reactions until the start of its next turn and rolls a d8 to determine what it does during its turn. On a 1 to 4, the creature does nothing. On a 5 or 6, the creature takes no action or bonus action and uses all its movement to move in a randomly determined direction. On a 7 or 8, the creature makes a melee attack against a randomly determined creature within its reach or does nothing if it can’t make such an attack.
4 Third Eye Antimagic Cone. A third eye on stalk atop the morchia’s head emits a 60-foot anti-magic cone, as in the anti-magic field spell. At the start of each of its turns the morchia decides which way the cone faces and whether the cone is active. The area works against any of the morchia’s own abilities.
5 Covered In Mucus Mucus Covered. The morchia is covered in a transformative mucus. A creature that touches the morchia or hits it with a melee attack within 5 feet of it must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw. On a failure, the creature is diseased for 1d4 hours. The diseased creature can breathe only underwater.
6 Action Purple Eyes Enslave (3/day). The morchia targets one creature it can see within 30 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or be magically charmed by the morchia until the morchia dies or until it is on a different plane of existence from the target. The charmed target is under the morchia’s control and can’t take reactions, and the morchia and the target can communicate telepathically with each other over any distance. Whenever the charmed target takes damage, the target can repeat the saving throw. On a success, the effect ends. No more than once every 24 hours, the target can also repeat the saving throw when it is at least 1 mile away from the morchia.
7 Action Forked Tongue Moan. Each enemy within 60 feet of the morchia that can hear the morchia must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened until the end of the morchia’s next turn. If a creature’s saving throw is successful, the creature is immune to the morchia’s moan for the next 24 hours.
8 Action Black Scales Phantasms. The morchia magically creates three illusory duplicates of itself. The duplicates move with it and mimmic its actions, shifting position so as to make it impossible to track which morchia is the real one. Whenever any creature targets the morchia with an attack or a harmful spell while a duplicate remains, that creature rolls randomly to determine whether it targets the morchia or one of the duplicates. A duplicate has the morchia’s AC and uses its saving throws. If an attack hits a duplicate, or if a duplicate fails a saving throw against an effect that deals damage, the duplicate disappears.
9 Action Exposed Brain Devour Intellect. The morchia targets one creature it can see within 20 feet of it that has a brain. The target must succeeed on a DC 15 Intelligence saving throw against this magic or take 22 (4d10) pyschic damage. Also on a failure, roll 3d6: If the total equals or exceeeds the target’s Intelligence score, the score is reduced to 0. The target is stunned until it regains at least one point of Intelligence.
10 Action Protruding Forehead Mind Blast (Recharge 5 – 6). The morchia magically emits psychic energy in a 60-foot cone. Each creature in that area must succeed on a DC 15 Intelligence saving throw or take 22 (4d8 + 4) psychic damage and be stunned for 1 minute. A creature can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
11 Action One Large Eye Rotting Gaze. The morchia targets one creature it can see within 30 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw against this magic or take 21 (6d6) necrotic damage.
12 Webbed Feet Regeneration. The morchia regains 10 hit points at the start of its turn if it has at least 1 hit point.
13 Action None Shapechanger. The morchia can use its action to polymorph into a Small or Medium humanoid, or back into its true form. Its statistics, other than its size, are the same in each form. Any equipment it is wearing or carrying isn’t transformed. It reverts to its true form if it dies.
14 None The morchia gains a fly speed of 40 ft.
15 Action Third Eye Petrification Ray. The morchia targets a creature within 90 feet. The targeted creature must make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw. On a failed save, the creature begins to turn to stone and is restrained. It must repeat the saving throw at the end of its next turn. On a success, the effect ends. On a failure, the creature is petrified until freed by the greater restoration spell or other magic.
16 Action Third Eye Sleep Ray. The morchia targets a creature within 90 feet. The targeted creature must succeeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or fall asleep and remain unconscious for 1 minute. The target awakens if it takes damage or another creature takes an action to wake it. This ray has no effect on constructs and undead.
17 Action Third Eye Paralyzing Ray. The morchia targets a creature within 90 feet. The targeted creature must succeed on a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw or be paralyzed for 1 minute. The target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
18 Black Eyes Telepathic Probe. If a creature communicates telepathically with the morchia, the morchia learns the creature’s greatest desires and one fact or secret about the creature.
19 Action None Invisibility. The morchia can cast invisibility on itself at-will.
20 Roll twice on this table. If you get this result again roll three times and so on.

So what do you think? Sound off in the comments below and let me know if you like the morchia!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcasts on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends, share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

So I’ve already written quite a bit about some of the races available to my players in Exploration Age – the assimar in one post and the deva, mul, and shardmind in another. Yet, I’ve got more yet to be released D&D races I’m going to make available to them and I’d like to give you the mechanics I’ve created as well as the unique story for each race in my setting.

Svirfneblin

First up, the svirfneblin. They’re actually a gnome subrace, so bust out that Player’s Handbook, and check out the gnome. I’ve given you the deep gnome story in another post, so check that out if you want their story. Here are the mechanics.

Svirfneblin Traits

Deep gnomes are weird.

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Superior Darkvision. Your darkvision has a radius of 120 feet.

Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.

Stonecunning. Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to the origin of stonework, you are considered proficient in the History skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus.

Svrifneblin Combat Training. You have proficiency with the war pick and warhammer.

Svirfneblin Lights. You know the dancing lights cantrip. Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for this spell.

Duergar

Mohawk duergar is the best.

Living with the drow and fighting side-by-side in their constant war with the aberrants are the duergar, or gray dwarves. Like their surface kin the gray dwarves value martial prowess and good well-crafted. This is, of course, because the duergar descended from their surface kin a long time ago. During their bloody war with the chromatic dragons on the side of the shardminds, some dwarves went into The Underdark seeking refuge. These dwarves became the duergar and eventually found an entirely new war beneath the surface.

Now, in many ways duergar have more in common with drow than they do with dwarves of the world above. Both duergar and drow deal with the constant stress of their aberrant war and rely on each other with undying trust.

While they share brotherhood and battlelines with the drow, duergar do not share their drow’s impulsiveness and live-each-day-as-if-it-were-your-last lifestyle. Almost everything the duergar do is in preparation for war. Duergar are practical and know that a good night’s sleep and healthy meal are more likely than a late night of revelry at ensuring survival the next day. They craft arms and armor, mine metals, and train constantly. Ever vigilant, careful, and calculating are the gray dwarves.

Duergar adventurers could be mercenaries seeking a better life on the surface, aberrant hunters hoping to learn new techniques to help them with their war below, deadly assassins for hire, or anything you dream.

Duergar Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Superior Darkvision. Your dark vision has a radius of 120 feet.

Sunlight Sensitivity. You have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of your attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.

Duergar Magic. You know the thaumaturgy cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the invisibility spell once per day. When you reach 5th level, you can also cast the enlarge spell once per day, but you may only target yourself with the spell. Wisdom is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Shifter

Don’t mess.

Shifters are born outcasts. Many are killed as babes, their parents too horrified to look upon them. To the elves they are abhorrent monstrosities. To the werewolves – an evolutionary misstep deserving only to die. Many of the shifters lucky enough to have a parent let them live are still kicked out of the house at an early age, or orphaned when their parent is murdered by bigots.

These abandoned shifters find each other and form communities of wandering vagabonds who make a living performing, swindling, and selling crafts. These communities exist all over Findalay and many look forward to the circuses and carnivals the shifters provide. Others feel shifters have been short-changed and try to help these beings find a more established life in Findalay. Some fear the partial werewolf race avoiding and shunning them. The truly fearful seek out and kill these half-breeds.

The discovery of Verda has opened up new possibilities for the shifters, a place where they may have a home of their own free from persecution, stares, jeers, discrimination, violence, and the ever-looming Brotherhood of the Moon.

Shifter adventurers could be thieves disguised as traveling circus performers, cunning mages using their magic to predict people’s fortunes, wild, untamed barbarians, or anything you dream.

Shifter Traits

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 1.

Age. Shifters mature and age at the same rate as humans.

Alignment. When it comes to good or evil, shifters are usually neutral, since they embody the spirit of the wild. Most shifters tend to be wild and free and therefore favor chaos over law.

Size. Shifters range from just over 5 to just over 6 feet tall and have lean builds. Your size is Medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet.

Darkvision. Thanks to your lycanthrope heritage, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Keen Hearing and Smell. You have advantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on hearing or smell.

Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and one other language of your choice.

Subrace. Two subraces of shifter are found in Canus: longtooth and razorclaw. Choose one of these sub races.

Longtooth Shifter

Ability Score Increase. Your Strength score increases by 2.

Longtooth Shifting. Once per day, as a bonus action you may shift, entering a more beastial state for one minute. When you do, you gain a +2 damage bonus to Strength-based attacks and regenerate 5 HP at the start of your turns. In addition, you grow long fangs which function as a light weapon which deals 1d6 piercing damage. You may attack with your fangs as a bonus action on your turn.

While you are shifting, you may not cast spells. You can end the shift early on your turn if you so choose.

You gain a second daily use of longtooth shifting at 8th level and your bonus damage to Strength-based attacks while shifting increases to +4, and your attacks with your fangs count as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance. You gain a third daily use of this ability at 16th level and your bonus damage to Strength-based attacks while shifting increases to +6.

Razorclaw Shifter

Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2.

Razorclaw Shifting. Once per day, as a bonus action you may shift, entering a more beastial state for one minute. When you do, your speed increases by five feet, you gain a +1 bonus to your AC, and you have advantage on Dexterity saving throws. In addition, you grow a pair of claws which function as light, finesse melee weapons which deal 1d6 slashing damage. You may attack with one of your claws as a bonus action on your turn.

While you are shifting, you may not cast spells. You can end the shift early on your turn if you so choose.

You gain a second daily use of razorclaw shifting at 8th level and your speed increases by 10 feet, you attacks with your claws count as magic weapons for the purpose of overcoming damage resistance, and your bonus to AC increases to +2 while shifting. You gain a third daily use of this ability at 16th level and your speed increases by 15 feet and your bonus to AC increases to +3 while shifting.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

It’s RPG Blog Carnival time once again! This month’s theme – invasive species! If you’ve been following my blog you know that this is one of my most very favorite subjects. Big shout out to Garrison James over at Hereticwerks for this badass theme of amazingness!

Invasive species have spoken to us as enemies and engines of conflict for a long, long time. Aliens are the obvious example – Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Independence Day, and The War of the Worlds are good examples of little green men as invaders. Yet, the idea of invasive species goes beyond aliens. Monster movies like Godzilla and Cloverfield could be considered to have the invasive species theme. Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds clearly has it. What about microorganisms? Even Y: The Last Man could be considered a story with invasive species. Heck, we see it in our real world all the time! Kudzu in Georgia, African hippos in Colombia, and Burmese pythons in Florida are all examples of real world invasive species.

Even the tagline for Cloverfield ads played on the idea of invasive species.

Anyway, you get the idea. It’s a topic central to many great stories. If you’ve been following World Builder Blog the last few months, then you already know two of its iconic invasive species. Today I’ll be presenting you with the Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition statistics for the half-devil, half-aberrant morchia and the mind controlling, parasitic mystauk.

Morchia

Like this but with more aberrant stuff!

The morchia are known as The Sleeping Ones, since The Reckoning Spell put a majority of them literally to sleep in the Verdan Underdark. Still, some of the beasts have escaped the tiefling’s ritual. These half-aberrant, half-devil monstrosities live to punish all other sentient races who would call Canus home and claim a piece of it for themselves. They have a particular hatred for metallic dragons, whom they see as the oppressors and murderers of their parent races, and for tieflings, who use The Reckoning Spell against them.

Morchia are often hatching plots which involve the destruction of a local people or settlement. While they rarely work with native races of Canus, they will work with aberrants, devils, and weak creatures who are subservient to them. Those lesser beings who know their place will be rewarded.

Because of their aberrant heritage, every individual morchia has a distinct and unique appearance. Some have tentacles, others many stalked eyes, others have multiple, sharp-toothed maws, and so on. Some have many aberrant features, but all have at least one.

Morchia share a common set of traits given to them by their fiendish parents. All morchia have a set of horns upon their heads, clawed fingers, and a fierce, spear-tipped tail. They also inherited some of the devil’s resistances.

Morchia

Large monstrosity

Armor Class 16

Hit Points 157 (15d10 + 75)

Speed 4o ft.

Senses darkvision 100 ft.

Str 22 (+6)

Dex 17 (+3)

Con 21 (+5)

Int 18 (+4)

Wis 17 (+3)

Cha 15 (+2)

Saving Throws Dex +5, Con +7, Wis +5

Alignment lawful evil

Languages Common, Infernal, Undercommon

Traits

Damage Resistance: The morchia is resistant to cold, fire, poison, and damage from nonmagical weapons except those made of silver.

Magic Resistance: The morchia has advantage on saving throws against magical effects.

Telepathy: The morchia can communicate telepathically with any creature within 100 feet of it that can understand a language.

Actions

Multiattack: The morchia can make two claw attacks, one claw attack and one hurl flame attack, or two hurl flame attacks.

Melee Attack – Claw: +8 to hit (reach 10 ft.; one target). Hit: 14 (2d8 + 6) piercing damage.

Melee Attack – Rend: If the morchia hits one creature with two claw attacks on the same turn, it may use rend against that creature as a bonus action. +8 to hit. Hit: 22 (4d8 + 6) piercing damage.

Ranged Attack – Hurl Flame: +6 to hit (range 100 ft. one target). Hit: 21 (6d6) fire damage.

Aberrant Traits

Every morchia has at least one aberrant trait (and many have more). Roll on the chart below at least once to give the morchia a special ability. Unless otherwise specified, the GM determines the exact nature of the morchia’s physical feature. For instance, if a morchia has the four tentacles feature, these tentacles can grow from their head, back, waist, or anywhere else the GM chooses. GMs may feel free to plunder abilities from other aberrant creatures rather than use the table below.

d12 Feature Effect
1 Four Tentacles When using multiattack, the morchia may make tentacle attacks in place of a claw of hurl flame attacks. Tentacle: +8 to hit (reach 15 ft.; one target). Hit: 11 (1d10 + 6) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled. Until the grapple ends, the target is restrained. The morchia has four tentacles, each out which can grapple only one target.
2 Multiple stalked eyes The morchia may use its action to fire 1d4+1 eye rays. Use the beholder eye ray ability to determine the effects.
3 Constantly speaking mouths grow all over the morchia’s body, constantly speaking infernal incantations The whispers drive fear into the hearts of the morchia’s enemies. The creature gains a fear aura. Fear Aura: Any creature which starts its turn within 5 feet of the morchia must make a DC 15 Charisma saving throw. Failed Save: The creature is frightened for 1 minute. Successful Save: The creature is immune to this morchia’s fear aura 24 hours. In addition, as a bonus action the morchia may attack an adjacent creature with a bite attack. +8 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one target). Hit: 12 (1d12 + 6) piercing damage.
4 A foul smelling, purple ooze exudes from the morchia’s pores and absorbs harmful magic The morchia is immune to spells of 6th level or lower, but can choose to be effected by any spells cast upon it.
5 The morchia can float above the ground, propelled by an unnatural force. The morchia gains a fly speed of 40 ft. It cannot be knocked prone and continues to float, even when stunned or knocked unconscious.
6 The morchia’s forehead protrudes, a signal that its mental prowess is beyond that of other morchia. As an action, the morchia can use Dominate Person: The morchia chooses one target it can see within 50 feet. The target must make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw. Failed Save: The morchia has access to all of the target’s thoughts and memories, and the target is charmed for 1 day or until the morchia or one of the morchia’s companions harms it, or until the morchia is killed. While charmed, the target must obey the morchia’s commands. The morchia can have only one creature charmed at a time. If the charmed creature takes any damage, it can make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw to end the effect. A creature remembers being charmed by the morchia. Successful Save: The creature is immune to the morchia’s dominate person ability for 24 hours.
7 The morchia grows cat eyes upon its hands, which can emit a mental blast. The morchia emits psychic energy in a 60-foot cone. Mind Blast: Each creature in the area must make a DC 14 Intelligence saving throw. Failed Save: 22 (4d8 + 4) pyschic damage, and the target is stunned for 1 minute, but can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the stunned condition early on a successful save.
8 Purple, protruding veins Once per day, the morchia can enter a Pyschic Rage: For ten minutes, the morchia does an extra 10 damage on all melee attacks and has advantage on melee attack rolls.
9 The morchia has black claws, which are always sharp and stronger than adamantine. When the morchia successfully uses its rend attack, the target must make a DC 14 Constitution saving throw, or die instantly as its body is torn to shreds.
10 Third eye The morchia’s third eye emits an anitmagic field (as the spell) in a 150-foot cone. All spells, magic items, and magical effects within the area are suppressed – even the morchia’s own abilities (if applicable). At the start of each of its turns, a morchia decides which way the cone faces and whether the cone is active (the morchia deactivates the cone by shutting its third eye).
11 Acid drips from the morchia’s mouth. The morchia gains two new actions a bite and an acid spray. As part of its multiattack it may use its bite in place of a claw or hurl flame attack. Bite: +8 to hit (reach 5 ft.; one target). Hit: 16 (3d6 + 6) piercing damage and 7 (2d6) acid damage. Acid Spray (Recharge 5-6): The morchia can breathe acid in a 30-foot line. Each creature in the line must make a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw. Failed Save: 21 (6d6 damage) acid damage. Successful Save: Half damage.
12 The morchia has two aberrant features. Roll twice on this table.
You're gonna need these eye rays...

You’re gonna need these eye rays…

Mystauk

This guy is in your head!

Mystauk – terrifying mind-control parasites which latch onto the brain after entering the skull via the ear, nose, or mouth. Mystauk have only instinct, until the attach themselves to another mind. As host-less bugs they have a speed of 20 feet, fly speed of 30 feet, 1HP, AC 14, and a +6 bonus to Dexterity (stealth) checks. They have advantage on Dexterity (stealth) checks when hiding in dense foliage thanks to their green coloring.

When a mystauk crawls into a host’s head, the host must make a DC 20 Wisdom saving throw, or the mystauk infects the host. A successful save means the mystauk must leave the hosts head and cannot try to infect that host for another 24 hours. The mystauk has no other attacks.

When attached to a host, the game changes for the mystauk. They are able to fully access the host’s brain, making the parasite smarter, while making the host’s body faster and stronger. The mystauk fully controls the actions of the host until removed.

Historically, mystauk are only known to infect humanoids. Sages and scholars theorize that other species have brains too simple or too complex for mystauk to conquer and humanoids make the perfect host for them so they do not bother using other creatures as hosts. Others believe the mystauk have infected all manner of creatures, even dragons, the world just has not been made aware of such developments, because the mystauk are too deceptive.

A mystauk adopts the abilities and proficiencies of the host. All of the host’s ability scores become 20, as the mystauk is able to unlock the host’s brain and body’s full potential. For the same reason, the mystauk adds the host’s proficiency bonus to all saving throws. The mystauk is also proficient in the Charisma (deception) skill once it has a host as it has access to all of the host’s thoughts and memories. The mystauk can communicate with the host, but the host cannot hear the mystauk’s thoughts unless the mystauk wants it to.

A mystauk can tell when another inhabited host is in their presence and can communicate telepathically with any other awakened mystauk within 25 feet.

If a successful feeblemind spell is cast against the mystauk and host, the mystauk detaches from the host’s brain and cannot reattach itself to that host for another 24 hours. If the host dies, the mystauk detaches from the brain.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 11.52.39 AM

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

On Tuesday I wrote a post about a great antagonist for an Exploration Age campaign, The Servants. Well today I’m going to be talking about another villainous organization to be added to the Exploration Age roster – The Aberrant Alliance.

Aberrant creatures are one of Exploration Age’s main baddies. Just check out my previous posts about The Sleeping Ones, aberrant ruins, and The Underdark to get an idea of integrated these creatures are into the world of Canus. Well, you’re about to find out that the aberrants aren’t alone in their quest to reclaim the world for themselves.

There are a few humanoids all over the world who believe the aberrants had their homes taken from them unjustly. These people also share a belief that aberrants are the true masters of Canus and all other creatures should be subservient to them. They are dangerous, for they value the lives of aberrant creatures above their own.

History of The Alliance

Who wouldn’t worship these guys?

Historical records are vague, but it seems The Aberrant Alliance has been around as long there have been humanoids on Canus. For thousands of years, this group was actually several, small cults which would meet under the cover of night in secret places and perform rituals to communicate with aberrant creatures. These creatures would often take pleasure in simply causing strife and chaos in the lives of humanoids by ordering these self-proclaimed servitors to steal, lie, and murder in their communities. Other aberrant creatures took greater advantage of the situation, ordering these humanoids to do tasks which might help the creatures return to the surface and reclaim pieces of the world for themselves. These cults would destroy weapons, create teleportation circles, weaken the local military, and recruit others to prepare for the arrival and takeover of a settlement by an aberrant creature. These attempts were thwarted or the aberrants were removed from power when an uprising was successful, but even in the early days, many lives were lost to these cults.

It was the aberrants, after regrouping themselves in The Underdark, who united these cults under one banner. They learned humanoids all over the map had been contacting and aiding them. So they deemed all of these cults together The Aberrant Alliance. The cults would no longer serve the individual needs of a single aberrant creature, but serve all aberrants in their quest to reclaim their world.

Structure of The Alliance

I want YOU to join The Aberrant Alliance.

Today, The Alliance is still setup in small, individual cults or chapters, but each serves a greater purpose than its own needs. Each cult has a leader, chosen in a bloody contest every year. The cults capture an innocent person from a nearby settlement, release that victim into the wild or a dungeon somewhere and hunt the individual. Whoever makes the kill wins the contest and is the cult’s leader. Anything goes in this contest, so potential leaders must be willing to put their own lives on the line to hold the coveted position.

Each cult can communicate with a variety of aberrant creatures who give them orders, one of which is a cult’s designated point of contact. These aberrant creatures communicate with one another and organize the activities of the cults. Rather than random bands of murderous lunatics, the cults of The Aberrant Alliance are a unified organization to be reckoned with. Two or more cults may join forces to complete a larger mission, and they can count on one another for support when the going gets tough. Likewise, a member of an Aberrant Alliance cult who is traveling can count on support from Alliance members in other cults.

Cultists whisper about The Great Aberrant, some terrifying creature who is the organizer of all which The Alliance accomplishes. He has never been seen by the humanoids but has promised to show himself to them when the time comes for the aberrants to reclaim Canus.

Plots of The Alliance

I kinda want one as a pet.

The Aberrant Alliance has one ultimate goal – restore the societies of the aberrant creatures to their days of glory and enslave all humanoids so they may serve aberrant masters. They do this several ways…

  1. Recruitment – The more individuals they can get to join The Alliance, the better. The argument is simple – aberrants had this world taken from them by dragons. The aberrants did not start that war, they merely fought back to keep their land. Now there are fewer dragons than ever before. Humanoids never could have risen against the aberrants in those early days. Things should never have been this way. It is unnatural. Hard to believe for some, but the argument works with others (especially after a well-cast charm person spell). The Alliance has begun targeting the influential leaders of the world, some of whom are unwilling recruits subject to the incredible psionic powers possessed by some aberrants.
  2. Influence Leaders and Cause Strife – Nothing would help the aberrant cause more than the crumbling of humanoid civilizations. Through influencing leaders, aberrants can cause bad policy decisions to be made, which in turn can cause war, famine, and unrest. Meanwhile, rioting and other forms of violent unruliness caused by members of The Alliance will give the aberrants advantages in weakening the civilizations of humanoids.
  3. Secure The Underdark – The citizens of Quatus must be the first to fall. If the aberrants claim their resources and control The Underdark, they can then conquer the surface. Underdark humanoids are some of the most important members of The Alliance.
  4. Kill Dragons – Though there may not be nearly as many on Canus as there once were, the dragons are powerful and wise in their old age. As many as possible must be vanquished before the inevitable rise of the aberrants. The Aberrant Alliance is often contracting and recruiting dragon-slayers.
  5. Wake The Sleeping Ones – Half the world only recently learned of the morchia, half-devil, half-aberrant creatures slumbering in the Verdan Underdark. The West Canus aberrants only learned themselves. These children of the mostly extinct East Canus aberrants could be valuable allies in the coming uprising.
  6. Encourage the Discovery and Use of Ancient Aberrant Technologies – By funding expeditions into certain aberrant ruins, The Alliance helps ensure that humanoids have become reliant on aberrant technology. The aberrants know all the weaknesses behind these technologies and so should the time come for the aberrants to rise, the humanoids’ reliance on firearms, airships, and more will be used against them. Of course, the aberrants are wary of the certain ruins being explored by adventurers who might find a something of their own to use against them. So The Alliance directs adventures to the ruins they want to be explored, and defends those with secrets that should remain hidden.

An individual cult could be working toward one or several of the goals above. In general the members of The Aberrant Alliance try to keep their activities and motives private, unless they have no other choice.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

I’ve spoken quite a bit about the world beneath the world in Exploration Age. Now, I’m happy to present you with a work in progress map of what the known Underdark looks like.

Known Underdark in Exploration Age

Known Underdark in Exploration Age

And here it is overlayed on the map of the surface of Canus

And here it is overlaid on the map of the surface of Canus

As you can see, most of the world of The Underdark is unexplored. What dangers, wonders, and rewards lie miles below the surface of Canus waiting to be discovered?

Why Explore The Underdark?

Just like Venice.

The unexplored Underdark isn’t solid rock. It is a world beneath a world about which a fraction is known. Here are just a few reasons one might want to delve into the most dangerous place in Canus.

  • Trade Routes There may be some way to get from Parian to Findalay to Verda without using a ship. If these pathways and tunnels could be charted perhaps a railway similar to the Jackrabbit could be built for faster, cheaper transportation of goods.
  • Gem Mining All permanent magic items in Exploration Age require gems to focus their power. Beyond that, gems also have their normal uses as decorations and displays of wealth and beauty. Right now only a few mines are worked on the surface and in the fortified zones of Quatus. The discovery of a mine would spell profit for any who could hold it.
  • Precious Metals While more mines for precious metals like copper, silver, gold, mithral, and adamantine exist on the surface of Canus than gem mines, most of those mines are in Bragonay. The other countries of Canus would love to discover mines of their own to take power from the dwarves, while the dwarves themselves would love to increase their holdings on precious metals.
  • Aberrant Technology Many aberrant ruins dot the surface of Canus, and their exploration has led to the discovery of many wonderful modern technologies. Those ruins are hundreds of thousands of years old, so imagine what the aberrants may have in their Underdark cities now. The danger of a recon mission into an aberrant city is great, but the rewards could be limitless.
  • Threat Removal Under Parian and Findalay the aberrants roam unchecked, while The Sleeping Ones plot their revenge in their dreams beneath Verda. These are threats which could strike the surface of Canus in the future – so isn’t it better to strike now before the incursions begin?
  • Fresh Starts Dwarves in Bragonay seek to escape the caste. Drow do not share the patriotism of their brethren. Shifters are tired of wandering. These are just a few of the folk who might strike out into the unknown Underdark seeking a new life all about basic survival.
  • Discovery for Discovery’s Sake Sometimes a person needs to climb a mountain just because it’s there. The Underdark is rife with the unknown. There are new people to meet, civilizations to be uncovered, creatures to fight, and experiences to be had. The draw of the unknown has a powerful pull on some curious humanoids of Canus. Many academics would also argue that learning for learning’s sake is what separates people from animals.

Dangers Below

Was ever a creature more appropriately named than the roper?

The Underdark is teeming with dangers unlike any on Canus’ known surface.

  • Aberrants The Underdark beneath Findalay teems with all manner of aberrant creatures looking to take the lives of the folk of Quatus. These aberrants abhor most humanoids and fight with a belief that their home was taken from them unjustly. Any adventurers who cross paths with aberrants would be wise to strike first or run with all haste.
  • The Sleeping Ones Beneath Verda lie the ancient aberrant-devil hybrids known as morchia. Though these creatures are supposedly slumbering thanks to The Reckoning Spell, there are those who claim to have seen morchia moving about in excursions into Verda’s underground. Other rare expeditions into Verda’s Underdark have been lost only to turn up somewhere else deep underground later, killed in a ritualistic fashion.
  • Beasts There are plenty of creatures in The Underdark who have always lived there. These beasts are as natural to Underdark tunnels as a camel is to a desert. Beware them when adventuring below ground. That’s their turf.
  • Other Humanoids Orcs, kobolds, goblinoids, troglodytes, and more have been known to call an Underdark cavern home. They’ve also been known to call other humanoids dinner.
  • Collapses The tunnels of The Underdark are not always stable and as such have a way of collapsing. If certain weak tunnels suffer trauma such as mining, battle, or even heavy travel the reverberations from these activities could cause a collapse.
  • Traps In several places, the aberrants, the morchia, the folk of Quatus, or other humanoids may have erected traps for battles imminent or long forgotten. Adventurers would be wise to examine where they step.
  • Diseases The Underdark isn’t the kind of place in which one wants to catch a cold. Strange diseases could ruin an individual’s health and mind in ways unlike any other. Here are a few examples of Underdark diseases:
    • Mushroom Mind The mushrooms of The Underdark are generally harmless, but there are those that should be avoided. None more so than the green-spotted murder mushrooms. Breathing in the spores this fungi produces gives them a chance to attach to one’s brain. From there the mushrooms grow within a person’s skull, slowly reducing their mental and physical faculties. Victims of this disease eventually get green spots on their scalp similar to those on the murder mushrooms. If a creature breathes in the spores he or she should make a DC 12 Wisdom saving throw. If the creature fails, he or she contracts Mushroom Mind. During each extended rest roll 1d6 on the table below to determine what happens. The disease may be cure by a restoration spell. A second casting of the spell also restores any ability score damage.
      • d6 Effect
        1 Reduce victim’s strength score by 1d4
        2 Reduce victim’s dexterity score by 1d4
        3 Reduce victim’s constitution score by 1d4
        4 Reduce victim’s intelligence score by 1d4
        5 Reduce victim’s wisdom score by 1d4
        6 Reduce victim’s charisma score by 1d4
    • Slug Snot When adventurers sleep in the open Underdark at night, they would be wise to plug their noses. Brown slugs called drunkbugs are known to crawl into a sleeping victim’s nose and travel down their throat into their stomachs. These slugs attach themselves to the lining of the stomach and secret alcohol, thus intoxicating the victim. The victim also produces an excess of mucus which is colored brown, hence the name of the disease. If a drunkbug crawls into a person’s stomach, he or she must make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw or contract the disease. For the duration of the disease the target is intoxicated. Each extended rest, the target is allowed a new Constitution saving throw to try to vomit up the bug and cure the disease. A lesser restoration spell can also cure the disease.
    • Wasting Away This is the most horrifying disease The Underdark has to offer. There are special patches of phosphorescent, psionic mold which grow only in the deepest tunnels of The Underdark. Breathing in the spores of the mold can cause Wasting Away which causes its victims to age one year per day. A victim may not realize he or she is infected until several days go by, thus they have aged several years. When breathing in the psionic spores, a creature must make a DC 14 Wisdom saving throw or contract the disease. Once wasting away is contracted it can only be removed by a restoration spell and the aging process can only be reversed by a wish spell. Ageless creatures, such as elves, shardmind, drow, and warforged are immune to this disease.
    • Wiped Away This disease is caused by breathing in a magical mist which is created by The Void. Those who breathe in the mist must make a DC 13 Wisdom saving throw or contract Wiped Away. Wiped Away is a special disease which magically influences any person who has met or heard of the victim. Over the course of ten days, the victim begins to forget who he or she is – as do the people around the victim. By the end of the disease it is as if the person never lived and he or she literally phases out of existence. This disease may only be cured by a wish spell.
  • The Void Scholars believe that there is something beneath The Underdark called The Void. This space is actually no space at all. It is absolute nothingness. It has the absence of being. There are a few places in The Underdark which are open pits into The Void. Spending too much time near one of these pits can make a person’s outlook become nihilistic to the point of insanity. This can be seen in the troglodyte clans who worship The Void. They sacrifice victims by throwing them into the Void Pits. Many of the troglodytes seek to end the pointlessness of existence by finding a way to set The Void free and destroy Canus. Those who fall into The Void are never heard from again and cannot be raised from the dead… Suggesting perhaps that either their soul is destroyed or they are alive somewhere within The Void or somewhere else.

Interesting Underdark Sites

When traversing the world beneath the surface, there are many fantastic and awesome sights upon which to look. Here are a few.

  • Dragon Chambers When the dragons were born out of the crust of Canus, legend has it they sprung forth as fully formed adults. There are impressions of scales, horns, wings, and tails in the tunnels and chambers of The Underdark to support these claims. Some chambers even have the shape and appearance of a dragon’s body and those are the Dragon Chambers. Depending on the dragon birthed in the chamber, spells of a certain energy type may be stronger.
  • Softstone In Underdark badlands, one must be particularly careful about where he or she steps. There are patches of ground known as softstone, which can swallow a creature whole. These patches are actually holes in the ground, filled with a stoney liquid that is a colony of carnivorous mold. It is essentially a camouflaged quicksand which devours its victims while suffocating them.
  • Infinite Tunnels Some tunnels in The Underdark seemingly go on forever. Others do go on forever. Canny adventurers may discover they are traveling the same stretch of hallway over and over again. They have entered an infinite tunnel, one which loops a constant mile or less stretch. One end of the tunnel connects to the next. Infinite tunnels share another common feature – all have the remains of at least one dead humanoid. These anomalies are usually caused by the spirit of a person who died in the tunnel with unfinished business. The characters must find a way to speak with the spirit and either agree to help finish its business or destroy it to get out of the tunnel. Those who agree to take care of the spirit’s business have a year to do so. If they do not they will suffer a horrible curse which turns all water and food in their mouths to dust until they starve to death. This will happen whether or not the creature needs to eat and drink.
  • Bloody Grounds These semi-magical patches of stone have absorbed the blood of great battles which happened upon them. While standing on the Bloody Grounds a creature delivers a critical hit on an attack roll of 19 or 20.
  • Ice Slides The fastest way to get from one place to the next in The Underdark are the Ice Slides. Scholars believe these ice-coated tunnels were made when white dragons dug their way to the surface using their breath weapons. The ice has lasted ever since. Travelers can go down these tunnels very quickly by body-sliding, but they will probably want to be sure they know where the tunnel ends. Some are short and will only take a person a few hundred feet down and others go for miles into The Underdark. Traveling up an ice tunnel is a different matter entirely. Travelers can only move at half speed while making their way up an ice tunnel, and are subject to a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check every hour. If they fail they make no progress on their journey that hour.
  • Underdark Ocean There is an underground ocean which seems to separate the West Canus Underdark from the East. The full size of this watery expanse has never been explored, for the darkness hides rocky stalagmites rising up from the depths. Not to mention the terrifying Underdark sea creatures waiting with hungry mouths for anything to eat. Dark krakens, deep crocodiles, aberrant merfolk, and more await unfortunate travelers. The dangers have made all attempts at scouting the Dark Ocean fail. There has not been an attempt to map it for nearly 500 years, when a drow explorer named Vasperio Dumasca set out to cross the yawning body of water. He and his crew were never heard from again, though they say if you stand on the coast you can hear their ship, Prime Voyager, ringing its bell. Others claim to have seen its ghostly visage far in the distance. At the bottom of the Dark Ocean’s freezing depths lie centuries old shipwrecks waiting to be discovered.

How’d I Do?

Let me know what you think! Is this Underdark dangerous enough? Is it different enough, but still recognizable? Does an underground ocean terrify you? I want to know what you think!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Four underground mega-cities make-up the nation of Quatus. Drow, duergar, and svirfneblin work together to fight a threat pressing upon their gates and looming large in the tunnels outside their cities. Constant stress and violence has taught Quatus’ citizens to be alert, proactive, and ready to strike. That same stress has also brought the citizens of Quatus together like nowhere else. No group of humanoids is more loyal to one another than the citizens of Quatus. They embody patriotism.

The Aberrant Threat

You never want to be this close to a mind flayer if you can avoid it.

Years ago, the aberrants of West Canus were driven deep underground by chromatic dragons and shardminds. Weakened and small in number, the aberrants hid and licked their wounds, growing their ranks and preparing to once again take Canus for themselves. During this time they took note of the ten glorious Underdark cities of the drow, duergar, and svirfneblin. These aberrants decide the surface world was no longer the place to make a home and instead set their sights on The Underdark. For thousands of years the rested and then struck with a fury against the ill prepared cities.

After years of war and struggle, and the loss of half their population when many war-weary drow and svirfneblin headed to the surface, the Underdark humanoids only have four fortified cities that have not fallen to the aberrants. The citizens of these cities know well the danger lurking just outside the gates.

Each city has only a few heavily guarded entry points. The only way to get to these points is via narrow tunnels with gates every fifty feet. The narrow tunnels and checkpoints bottleneck traffic into the cities. If an aberrant attack occurs the gates are slammed down isolating the incident. The folk trapped inside with the beasts are left to fend for themselves until crossbow wielding guards make an appearance and shoot at the monsters through the bars of the gate. Needless to say, waiting in line to get into a city is a tense experience.

Inside of a Quatus city, every citizen is armed. Though it is a rare occurrence, the aberrants will sometimes burrow through the floor, walls, or ceiling of a city and attack. Since all drow, duergar, and svirfneblin spend a decade or more in the military after coming of age, the populous is an accomplished army, ready for action. The people of Quatus are fiercely loyal to one another since they are all brothers and sisters in arms. The people of Quatus have more enemies than just the aberrants against whom to rally.

The Elf Punishment

Don’t mess with the drow. They have pets.

If fighting the aberrants is about survival, than fighting the elves is about vengeance. When the elves left the drow millennia ago an incurable divide formed between the two groups. Since then the drow have performed many violent surgical strikes against critical elf targets. The most infamous of these strikes being The Arachna War.

The Arachna War was a period of time which came after Quantian spies placed giant spider eggs all over Taliana. Eventually these eggs hatched releasing an army of huge vermin that terrorized Taliana’s population. Eventually, these spiders were mostly defeated with the help of The Arcane College, but some of these beasts still stalk Taliana’s forests.

Today, the tactics of the Quantians concerning the elves is to strike when they are least expected. Sometimes they strike large groups of elves at a joyous public gathering. Other times they may steal an object of importance or deface a monument. Sometimes they may assassinate an important target. They may poison wells or spread disease or hatch another scheme. Their goal concerning the elves is to make their existence on the surface so unbearable that they return to their brethren of The Underdark.

Government

Each of Quatus four cities is run by an all-powerful General King. Martial law is the only law in Quatus. The General Kings have officers answerable to them and communicate with the leaders of other cities daily through crystal balls and in-person meetings via teleportation circle. All General Kings are drow. Any major decisions involving Quatus they make together. They will only enact policy with a unanimous vote, so their talk and debates can take a long time.

For the most part the General Kings leave the day-to-day running of their cities to their officers and focus in the big picture – the war with the aberrants and the war with the elves.

Officers treat all non-military citizens as privates. They give orders which must be obeyed for security and survival. Very little is private in Quatus. The military has access to any documents, information, and history for which it asks its citizens. Those who do not comply are tortured and threatened as necessary. This is not often though, for the people of Quatus are Exploration Age’s most patriotic and are willing to give up privacy for security in a moment’s notice.

Life in Quatus

At least the view is decent!

Life in Quatus is full of extreme highs and lows. The drow believe every second they are alive is a moment to have joy and so they push those boundaries by partying hard and enjoying the fruits of life while they can. Duergar take tremendous pleasure in their work and crafts while deep gnomes get joy from time spent with family and friends. Still on any given day, a friend may fall in the tunnels or on a mission to the surface. Funerals are quick and constant in Quatus.

The folk of Quatus usually enjoy simple, hearty meals made up of various mushrooms, root vegetables, and underground varieties of pork or beef. Their art and architecture has a classical feel – beautiful marble statues, paintings, mosaics, monuments, and buildings stand as testaments to great heroes and those who have fallen in battle.

Quatus’ biggest export to the nations of the surface are precious gemstones. These are valuable because they are often components for vehicles and equipment that run on magic. Of course mining has its dangers in the tunnels, but for every miner there are two soldiers within the tunnels, ever vigilant for the aberrant threat. The gems are expensive, because trips to the surface are fraught with perils.

Likewise, travelers do make their way to Quatus, though not often. The citizens are naturally suspicious of outsiders and the journey from the surface is dangerous. Only the richest merchants can hire enough well-trained guards or afford the teleport to make it to Quatus alive. The military leaders of Quatus know some secret tunnels that can get them to surface quickly for performing raids on Taliana but they do not share them with anyone they don’t trust, as those tunnels could be used against them.

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