In the wide wide world of the d20 systems of Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons, there are a plethora of different places and environments that you can throw your players into. Be it frozen mountains, lush forests, or the ruins of a lost civilization, there is plenty for a player to explore and enjoy.
A environment that I find is not used nearly as often as some others is the Underdark.
What is the Underdark exactly? Many would say that it is a vast series of tunnels that network together underneath the surface world. While that is true, it is also something so much more complex than that. It is an entire world, with it’s own races, cities, trade routes, and monsters. Even the vegetation is completely different than any other location available in the D&D realm.
I’ve been studying up on a prefab campaign called Out of the Abyss which takes place within the Underdark. I haven’t quite gotten to the point where I am ready to run it for my players, but I have heard great things about it. In my preparation and study of the contents it quickly became clear to me that the Underdark is a very different kind of place to account for.
Dangers can surface from anywhere: the cavernous ceiling (giant spiders anyone?), tunnels along the walls, or the mysterious creatures which lurk in the deep. It is a great place to meet Drow, a sect of elves constantly viewed as explicitly evil, and their unusual society. You may also find mind flayers, dwarves, deep gnomes, and even sentient fungi called myconids.
The vegetation is a variety of fungi ranging from stalks that stand as tall as trees to the small phosphorescent fungus that lights many of the tunnels leading from one place to another. Many of these are poisonous, but there are still quite a few that can sustain a creature for days if need be.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect about the Underdark is the concept of faerzress which is this strange magical energy that interferes with spells such as scrying and teleportation. In the D&D world, too much exposure actually leads to the madness of those subjected to it. While they may not go mad initially, it can eventually drive even your party members insane. This leaves an opportunity for some very unique gameplay.
That’s all I have for this week. See you next time!