A Player's Guide
Welcome to the lightless maze where nightmares prowl and old wives’ tales come to life. Far away from the prying eyes of both Sun and Moon, there exists a world of unending struggle, a place where the mere act of survival is a constant challenge that only the fittest can endure. This is a land of eternal darkness but of exotic, near alien beauty, home to creatures foreign to the minds of common men and a sanctum for Old, unspeakable things.
Welcome, to the Underdark.
Beneath the surface of Arelith there is a vast network of caverns, tunnels and abandoned mines, most of them intertwined in such a way that it is possible for someone to travel the length and breadth of the island without ever seeing the sky. Some of these underground trails often lead to the lairs and dungeons of dangerous creatures, but no paths are feared more than the ones that delve deeper into the earth, to the inner recesses of the Underdark. Arcane Tower scholars, Brogendenstein cartographers and adventurous explorers have, for some time now, roughly agreed upon the following stratification of its geography:
The Upper Dark
This constitutes the first two to three miles beneath the surface where most mines and more accessible tunnel systems are found. Within its higher levels, no more than half a mile deep, it is common to find hibernating animals and other natural fauna, but far more dangerous are the many tribes of goblinoids and giantkin that build their lairs and underground forts there.
In its deepest portions, bordering the three mile mark, the environment becomes a lot more deserted and treacherous. Despite this, it is often in this region that trading outposts are built and where contact between underdark societies and the surface happens with a certain regularity. For many decades, Jhared’s Trading Post played this role, until massive cataclysms and cave-ins destroyed it. Another place rose in its stead and has flourished in recent years: Andunor.
The Middle Dark
Located three to ten miles below the surface, this is where most Underdark cities tend to be found, mainly due to its distance from the dangers of the world above but also due to easier access to resources and heat sources. This used to be the case on Arelith, since it was in this layer that the powerful drow city of Udos Drox’un used to exist, along with Urblexis Grond, a shelter and fortress for many monster races. The same catastrophe that sunk Jhared’s Trading Post also affected these two settlements, burying them in the lightless depths of the past.
The Lower Dark
Beyond the ten mile mark is a world that even the common inhabitants of the Underdark fear. This is a truly wild place, a black vastness full of wonder, fear and death. Brave explorers and trembling survivors speak of natural marvels, of subterranean expanses of water as vast as surface seas, of blazing magma rivers and of veritable forests of bioluminescent and deadly fungi. Then there are the things they dread even mentioning. The restless whispers in the dark and the presence tugging at the core of their minds, the notion that those are the hunting grounds of things far greater, and far older than what their worst nightmares could conceive.
As bland and lifeless as a cavern might seem to the naked, untrained eye, there is in fact a complex climate that greatly affects life throughout the Underdark. While many portions of it are, indeed, deserted, a wide variety of natural phenomena do influence and even shape many of these underground networks. Things like earthquakes, spore winds, geysers and seasonal floodings are a constant worry, but none of them are as unique, nor as wildly unpredictable as the faerzress. This is a magical radiation that drifts through and permeates regions of the Underdark, its origins known only to the best of historians and its effects both feared and desired by many spell casters. The one thing that is certain about it is its chaotic and unpredictable nature.
The City Of Andunor
Large gondolas drift slowly through dark waters, under bridges that cross wide rifts on the ground. The sky is a distant blackness, an ever present pressure that speaks of stone and rock and another world beyond it.
Herein rises Andunor, from the ashes and ruins of a dead age, a safe harbor where safety is never garanteed.
Andunor is located roughly two miles beneath the surface. Much of its area is surrounded and crisscrossed by large bodies of water, a result of the cataclysmic floods that destroyed the settlements of old.
The tradepost itself is organized in a roughly circular fashion, divided into four districts interconnected by roads, bridges and water canals.
The East and West Wheels make up the merchant hub, where most exchanges happen, either at the Silverwebb's counter, or by the stalls of the trade hall.
The Sharp's district is where a lot of the monster races gather, recreating soem of their old power structures and habits.
In a similar way, the Devil's Table is where most drow houses and academies were rebuilt. It is also here that one finds the city's library.
Much of Andunor's intrigue and scheeming takes place in the Sharp's and the Devil Table's districts and, very often, the two engage in power struggles over the trade post as a whole.
Above and apart from these squabbles are the city's guard, their only concern being the protection of the merchants and their businesses, the de facto wealth and driving force of Andunor.
The Old And The New
The Cataclysm destroyed much of what was taken for granted in the Underdark societies of the past. Social dynamics shifted considerably, forced to do so by the need for survival, but not all were so eager to let go of their power and influence.
This led to a permanent state of conflict between the Old and the New, between drow matriarchies and those dark elves who saw a chance to break free from Lolthite dogmas, between slavers and liberated slaves, between marginalized monster tribes and those visionaries who fought for union and between those who wish for nothing but the destruction of the surface and those who will readily trade with and profit from the visitors of above.
The Underdark, and Andunor, are still places of extreme danger and risk to any individual from the world above. Old grudges and religious wars are not simply washed away by torrents of water.
Many who inhabit Andunor still see the surface as a place to raid and profit from by means of slavery. For others it remains the land of their mortal enemies, where nothing but bloody war can be pursued.
However, these are no longer universal truths, as the mercantile nature of Andunor has allowed the establishment and proliferation of those willing to compromise in the name of wealth and self advancement.
The end result of this dichotomy is the fact that few things in Andunor are permanent or taken for granted. The web and flow of intrigue, lies and backstabbing politics means that one cycle's status quo can be cut down to pieces and turned on its head in a matter of hours.
Creating A Drow
Base Race: Elf
- Favored Class: Cleric for females, wizard for males
- Alignment: Usually Chaotic Evil
- ECL: +2
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA 0 +2 -2 +2 0 +2
- Immune: Sleep spells and effects
- Hardiness vs. Enchantments: +2 racial bonus on saving throws against mind-affecting spells.
- Bonus Proficiencies: Longsword, Rapier, Shortbow, Longbow.
- Skill Affinity(Listen): +2 racial bonus to listen checks.
- Skill Affinity(Search): +2 racial bonus to search checks.
- SKill Affinity(Spot): +2 racial bonus to spot checks.
- Keen Senses: Automatic Search checks with no movement penalties.
- Spell Resistance: 11+level (capped at 32)
- Spell-Like Ability: Darkness 1/day
- Languages: Common;Undercommon;Xanalress;Sign Language
Starting City: Andunor
The drow, or dark elves, are in many ways the living embodiement of the Underdark: beautiful,exotic, cunningly dungerous and treacherous. They are, for many, the stuff of legends,creatures from tales never told in the dead of night.
On Arelith, they are quite real, having dominated the Realms Below ruthlessly for centuries and they are the reason why, on the Surface, when the Sun sets, certain roads and routes are avoided.
The most striking feature about the drow is their skin, which typicaly ranges from dark grey to obsidian black. Pale yellow or silver white hair frames their features and their eyes are blood-red, although pale eyes in shades of lilac, silver and blue are not unknown. Their height averages between 4'7" to 5'7", with the females being usualy taller. Dark elves tend to be very atractive and very aware of it, their sensuality being as menacing as their sharpest blades.
Drow descend from dark elves,(Ssri-tel-quessir in old Elven), an elder sub-race of elves that dwelt on the surface along with the other tel-quessir ("The People"). During those ancient times Lolth, then known as Araushnee, was put in charge of the drow by Corellon Larethian (Head of the pantheon of elven deities), which marked the beginning of a long and twisted relationship.
A series of events that lasted for thousands of years, from the Time of Dragons to the Crown Wars, eventualy led to the separation and exile of the dark elves and spurred their Descent into the Underdark. After establishing their first underground cities,like Menzoberranzan and Ched Nasad, a stream of refugees,envoys and scouts from those and other drow settlements made their way onto Arelith's portion of the Underdark, at a time when it was largely unexplored and unsettled.
Once there, their struggle was far from over, as they ran into fearsome foes bent on enslaving them: the Ilithid and the Beholders. A bloody war ensued that culminated in one epic battle where the drow were finally victorious. Once their enemies were imprisioned in a remote region of the Underdark and they were free of oposition,the drow founded the city of Udos Dro'xun ("We Survive", in honor of a rallying cry that their armies took up during the war.) that lasted for over a century. Throughout those decades the drow of Udos built a fearsome reputation for themselves as they constantly raided the Arelithian surface and continuously waged war against the elves of Myon. Udos Dro'xun was eventualy destroyed by a series of cataclysmic phenomena, a result of a long plotted counter attack by the Ilithid.
After the loss of their city, the drow struggled to maintain their safety and their traditions and, for years, were forced to adapt to a new reality that wasn't always in their favor. Eventualy, the city and trade hub of Audunor was formed and in it, despite the close co-existance with other peoples that they consider lessers, the drow managed to create a solid foothold where their power,their numbers and their wealth are often at the top of the food chain.
Typically drow worship a pantheon of deities known as the Dark Seldarine.They are led by Lolth, the Spider Queen, and it is she whom the vast majority of drow worship. For a long time the other deities of the pantheon have only ever been marginaly worshiped on Arelith, but in recent years even Lolth has lost much of her hold and influence over their lives. The goddess La'laskra (An Arelith exclusive drow deity), Shar The Mistress of Night and even Infernal and Demonic powers have all seen an exponential increase in followers, which has caused many a conflict with the more tradional Houses.
Drow are militaristic, fanatically religious and usualy organize themselves in matriarchal city-states, though there are several exceptions to this rule throughout Faerun. Arelithian drow have experienced a mix of the two realities. Udos Dro'xun, their first and only exclusive city, was in many ways an attempt at replicating the traditions and organization of Menzoberranzan, having been ruled by a few noble Houses as well as by the priestesses of Arach-Tinilith (The Temple). They also had their own version of the Melee-Magthere (The Warrior's School) and the Sorcere (The Wizard's school).
Infighting was common, even expected, among the rulling Houses of Udos, but unlike other drow cities, there was also an unusual sense of union among its population, likely as a means of defense against the many threats they faced, from the neighbouring Urblexis Grond, a haven for those the drow considered lessers, to the many enemies they had made both on the surface and the most remote depths of the Lower Dark.
The destruction of Udos Dro'xun tore down many of these social constructs and the rise of Andunor has since forced the dark elves of Arelith to adapt and survive in a new fashion. Although they have managed to keep some of the old ways, notably the tendancy to organize in noble Houses where females and priestesses rule with iron fists, they have also been forced to deal with the outside world in completly new ways. The close contact with monster races, outcasts and even surfacers in anything other than open war has led to a considerable ammount of trade not only in goods but knowledge and political power as well.
Which isn't to say that the drow of Arelith have become any less xenophobic or cunning than before. In fact, their supremacy over everyone and everything else in the Underdark is still a communal goal and a source of pride and any threat to this status quo is often met with bloodshed and enslavement. Their hatred toward surface elves has also remained unchanged and their skirmishes and plots against the elven city of Myon have not diminuished in the slightest.
The Arelithian dark elf has plenty of oportunities to train and specialize in many diferent fields but natural aptitude and social pressure tend to push them towards specific roles. Clerics (mostly priestesses of Lolth), wizards (primarily male) and assassins are numerous, but sorcerers, fighters, blackguards and rogues are not uncommon either. Rangers, though rarer, are valued for their knowledge of the many caverns and tunnel systems surrounding drow settlemments.
Surface dwelling drow are an extreme rarity on Arelith, with only a couple of examples known after centuries of history. This is due to the fact that no reasonably minded inhabitant of the surface will ever trust a drow,let alone not slay it on sight, but also because their own kin will likely deem them worse than criminals or exiles.
Server Policy On Surface / Good Drow
- Starting as a good-aligned drow requires a Medium Award.
- Drow are considered a "Monster Race".Part of the RP of being allowed to continue to play a monster race is rping as if you are a monster, an unwelcome member in traditional surface society.
- Drow are free to visit and raid the Surface, so long as incursions are roleplayed and natural weaknesses are not ignored for convenience.
- Kill on sight is not a server rule. In fact,the mere idea of it is against the rules since all PvP has to be interactively roleplayed. It is an In Character concept, and it has to be roleplayed as such.
Creating A Duergar
Base Race: Dwarf
- Favored Class: Fighter
- Alignment: Usually Lawful Evil
- ECL: +1
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA 0 0 +2 0 0 -2
- Listen: +1
- Move Silently: +4
- Spot: +1
- Spell-Like Ability: 1/Day Invisibility
- Languages: Common; Undercommon; Dwarven
Starting City: Andunor
Dwelling in great subterranean cities, the gray dwarves are deep-dwelling cousins of shield dwarves, known for their cruelty and bitterness. The duergar are famed for their industry and they tend to prefer hard and prefectionist toil over superfluos artistry.
On Arelith, gray dwarves have a long and historied presence that ranges from their grudge against the dwarven Kingdom of Brogendenstein, to the many powerful clans that have made a mark since the days of Urblexis Grond.
Averaging 4 feet tall, gray dwarves weigh nearly as much as an adult human. While other dwarves tend to be round-bodied and stoutly muscled, duergar are wide of shoulder but wiry and lean, their limbs corded with tough muscle. The skin of a gray dwarf is light or dark gray, and his eyes are dull black. Both genders are usually bald, with males having long gray beards and mustaches.
Initially, the duergar were a clan of shield dwarves in the dwarven kingdom of Barakuir, located within the ancient realm of Shanatar. Clan Duergar, which venerated Laduguer as their patron, was an ambitious and powerful clan, believing that they should lead the kingdoms of Shanatar themselves. When they were denied following the Second Spider War, Clan Duergar turned away from the other dwarven clans, paying only lip service to Shanatar's rulers. This proved a mistake when the mind flayers of Oryndoll, seeing the isolation of Barakuir, attacked and enslaved or killed most of the population.
During their captivity, which lasted for generations, the mind flayers performed many cruel and unusual experiments on the dwarves. It was during this harsh period of their history that the duergar's bloodlines emerged as a distinct race. Eventually,they rose up against their captors and gained their freedom from the Ilithid.
Once free, the duergar carved out new homes for themselves throughout Faerun,founding the city of Gracklstugh in the North and Dunspeirrin further to the South. Both kingdoms prospered and grew for a while, until a series of wars and inner conflicts marked their decline. Before this decline,however, the Queen of Dunspeirrin, Duerra, was raised to godhood by Laduguer, as a divine reward for defeating an alliance of drow and Ilithid,thus reclaiming Deep Shanatar and Alatorin.
The first duergar arrived on Arelith a long time ago, having been among the first non-drow to do so. Their greed and thirst for wealth ensured that they quickly took up positions as merchants and craftsmen, often serving as liaisons between the dark elves and other inhabitants of the Underdark, as well as with the surface world. Jhared's Trading Post and Arena was a notorious example and product of that work. Furthermore, the duergar also have a long tradition as front line warriors, generals and warlords, one of their crowning achievements being the victory over the dwarves of Umbrik's Halls. Their grip on the old kingdom is a fragile one,though, as they are constantly raided by their enemies and brave adventurers.
The duergar of Arelith have only ever worshipped their ancient god, Laduguer The Gray Protector, and his daughter, Deep Duerra, once a mortal. The rest of the Mordinsamman (The dwarven pantheon.) Are all but refused and vilified.
Laduguer is a harsh and unforgiving deity that promotes xenophobia, slavery and military supremacy. His clergy,the thuldor, are usualy the rulers of duergar cities, unquestioning obedience and discipline being the main tools of their dictatorships.
Deep Duerra, in turn, serves a more niche corner of their religion, being the patron of psionics (mental magic stolen by her from the Ilithid), and expansionism and exploration.
There are no reccords of Arelithian duergar following any other gods but their own.
Duergar cities are often built near volcanoes or other thermal sources, and they are imposing and opressing things, meant for lives of endless toil, greed and paranoia.
Even though the gray dwarves have never built cities of their own on Arelith, they have usualy managed to organise themselves in tightly knit familial clans, while other duergar are often adopted into their ranks if they prove to be useful. These clans often build small enclaves for themselves wherever they live, so that they can be as isolated as possible from the other races that they despise but are forced to deal with. The clans are usualy led by clerics of Laduguer and Deep Duerra or by proeminent, powerful warriors.
Duergar are master craftsmen but pratical rather than ostentatious like their surface kin. The little art that they do produce is usualy dedicated to the veneration of bloodshed and war. Also unlike surface dwarves, duergar have a long tradition of magic, both divine and arcane, and they have a particular love for the crafting of magical items that can help them in combat or protect their minds.
In recent years there has been an increase in the number of gray dwarves that travel to and from the surface, the main reason being that the value of their trade is enough for common misgivings to be overlooked, both by them and by their contacts in the sunlit world. The notable,and obvious exception to this being the Golden Halls Of Brogendenstein, where old grudges and hatred are set in stone.
Wealth,power and paranoia. These are the driving factors behind the lives of most duergar and what leads them into certain specialisations. Most are well versed in combat as rogues or fighters, to better defend themseves and their posessions in a cut throat world. The Arelithian clans have had mostly divine magic users among their ranks, but arcanists, specialy wizards, are not uncommmon either. Some have also developed their own versions of the dwarven defender except that, rather than being stalwart guardians, they focus more on the bitter, stubborn protectionism of what they consider valuable: their lives and their treasure.
Creating A Gnoll
Base Race: Half-orc
- Favored Class: Ranger
- Alignment: Usually Chaotic Evil
- ECL: +1
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA +2 0 +2 -2 0 -2
- Listen: +2
- Spot: +2
- Innate Ability: War Cry 1 per day at level 8. 1 further use at level 16 and 24. DC = Con modifier.
- Languages Common; Undercommon; Animal Language
Starting City: Andunor
Gnolls are beast-like humanoids that dwell in the eastern parts of Faerûn and are known for their savage culture and warlike ways.
If being beset by bandits on the road is a traveler's worst fear come true, the sight of a gnoll raiding party is a sentence of brutal and violent death.
On Arelith they have long led dual lives, split between the Underdark and the Surface.
Gnolls have hyenalike heads and their bodies are covered in course yellow or reddish-brown fur. Their feet and legs are structured more like a hyena's hind legs then a humanoids, but they still walk as bipeds and are as agile and speedy as a normal human.
Their heights can go between 5'4"-7'2 for females or 5'6"-7'4" for males.
Note on In Game Appearance
Due to NWN's limitations, players of gnolls can only chose their appearances from a few, uncustomisable preset models.
It is hard to study or elaborate on gnoll history, for they do not produce literature or reccords of their own. Their traditions tend to be passed down by spoken word and, even then, these can change drasticaly between the diferent packs. Since many gnolls are nomadic and do not build structures of their own, it is also near impossible to establish solid timelines of their movements throughout the ages. In mainland Faerun, one of the few places where this is somewhat different is Thay, where gnolls have been systematically enslaved, experimented upon, and used as everything from bodyguards to footsoldiers and city guards.
Thankfully, due to Arelith's isolated geography, it has been easier to keep track of the isle's packs. Some have had a presence in certain regions of the surface for over a century, even if they are constantly assailed by adventurers. Others, however, have found safe haven in the Underdark, despite the fact that they are not naturaly subterranean creatures. Over time this has caused a clear divide among them, with those that travel often to the realms below proving to be more cunning, stronger and dangerous.
The limited ammount of land available has also allowed, or perhaps forced them, to build a few permanent camps and, at one time, even a small settlement. All of them were, however, short lived, due to not only the gnolls' own propensity for violence, but also the open hostility and agression of other peoples.
These days they are somewhat scattered. Some roam on their own, surviving as they can, while others still try to form their own packs,in order to provide a stronger and more secure way of life for their kind.
Unlike most other sentient races, gnolls do not have a creation myth,which is perhaps why their oldest and original patron,Gorellik, god of hunting, hyenas and hyenadons,has fallen greatly out of favor.
Many of his followers have turned to the demon lord Yeenoghu, something that many believe did not happen by accident but, instead, was a part of the demon prince's designs.
The gnolls of Arelith have mostly followed one of these two deities, and their priests have often been the leaders of the largest packs. A notable number of them, however, have also held more primal and nature driven beliefs.
Worthy of mention are the gods of the deep gnolls (those who dwell almost exclusively in the Underdark), Jyalkaath and Valyethra.
A minority among the Gnolls will worship the gods of those who hold power over them, like Kossuth and the other gods of the Thayvians.
Most gnolls live in wandering tribes that roam the wilderness in search of food, resources and slaves. A few of these tribes do attempt to pull away from their savage impulses, but they are the rare exception rather then the rule. When gnolls do build settlements they are rough and crude, rarely anyting more than temporary shelters.
For longer stays they prefer to make their lairs inside caves, with large groups of gnolls often having several crude underground complexes between which they wander. A perfect example of this was the only settlement that they built on Arelith, a cavern system situated along the main underground route between the Surface and the Underdark. There they charged tolls, herded rothe, and had their own rulling cast. This place was one among many to fall to the Cataclysm.
Wherever and however they gather, leadership gained by brutal strength seems to be the norm.
Due to their natural instincts as well as their nomadic nature, many gnolls become rangers, so that they can better help their packs navigate through the wilds and track down prey. Barbarians are also very common, as this path fits perfectly with the gnolls' bestial bloodlust and physical prowess. A smaller but influential number among them become clerics or even shammanistic druids, in order to guide their brethren either in the ways of their gods, or the wishes of the primal, natural spirits.
Creating A Goblin
Base Race: Halfling
- Favored Class: Rogue
- Alignment: Usually Neutral Evil
- ECL: -1
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA -2 +2 0 0 0 -2
- Listen: +2
- Move Silently: +4
- Spot: +2
- Languages: Common; Undercommon; Goblin
Starting City: Andunor
Goblins are a race of small and numerous goblinoids common throughout Toril, often living in underground caverns near the surface known as lairs. The race is often, though not always, dominated by other goblinoids, most commonly hobgoblins.
Several different goblin tribes can be found on Arelith, but the ones who have sought refuge in the Underdark are well known for being far fiercer and more dangerous than their surface kin.
Goblins are small humanoid monsters. They vary in height from about 3 to 3 ½ feet and weigh 40 to 45 pounds. They walk upright even though their arms nearly reach their knees. Their eyes vary from red to yellow and are usually dull and glazed. They have a broad nose that sits on a flat face with pointed ears and a wide mouth. Their mouth contains small, but sharp fangs. Their skin pigment ranges from a deep red though nearly any shade of orange to yellow. Members of the same tribe tend to have the same skin color.
Note On In Game Appearance
Due to NWN's limitations, players of goblins can only chose their appearances from a few, uncustomisable preset models.
As far as anyone knows, the goblin tribes of Arelith are native to the island, as they were already there when the early Amnish explorers first discovered the Archipelago. Despite centuries of violence against, and from, countless generations of adventurers, these tribes still endure, a testament to their stubborness and breeding capabilities.
Goblins were also among the founding members of Urblexis Grond, in the Underdark. This was a joint effort by several monstrous races to protect themselves against the many threats assailing them, namely, their many enemies on the Surface as well as the slaving drow of Udos Drox'un. In Grond they settled as a small tribe, called Oogooboogoo,that would grow exponentialy over the years (as goblin tribes are wont to), both in numbers and reputation. Despite this, their presence in Grond was not an easy nor peaceful one, as they were often in conflict with its other inhabitants, chief among them the kobolds of the Order Of The Black Depths, who rulled over the city, something the goblins refused to accept.
It was only when Skeflock, a svirfneblin, claimed the title of Tyrant, and granted the Oogooboogoo tribe independence within their own caves, that things were appeased. This was the foundation of a defacto micro-nation which, led by the priest Ooboo and others, lasted for many decades still. Unfortunately for the goblins, their valiant efforts were washed away, along with many other things, when the Cataclysm ravaged the Underdark.
Now a days they dwell in a more marginal part of Andunor, in caves that most other inhabitants of the trade city are more than happy not to venture into.
Most tribes worship Maglubiyet, the god of war and rulership. Other gods worshipped by the goblins include Khurgorbaeyag, the god of slavery, oppression, and morale, and Bargrivyek, the god of co-operation and territory.
Some Arelithian goblins worship a very specific deity: Oogooboogoo. The history of this god, though unclear, is intricately connected to the Oogooboogoo tribe and its original leader and priest, Oboo. The tenants of its dogma seemed to rule every aspect of the tribe's life, from its obvious name to daily details and norms of conduct. Oogooboogoo is both a fatherly figure that teaches goblins how to survive and remain united, as well as a war leader that incites cunning tactics and force of numbers.
Goblin leaders are generally the strongest and sometimes the smartest around. Arelithian tribes are often led by shammans and priests, as their magic abilities and sharper minds are cause for fear and admiration. Goblins have little concept of privacy or hygiene, living and sleeping in large common areas. As such, goblin lairs are often stinking or soiled which, in itself, can be seen as a defense mechanism.
Goblin settlements are typically very densely populated and filled with young goblin children. This is in part because goblin females are expected to birth as many children as possible to sustain a population constantly driven down by violence. However, young goblins do not outnumber adults because their lives are often at least as dangerous as those of adults.
On Arelith's Underdark, goblins have quickly recovered from their losses during the Cataclysm and have learned, just as quickly, how to adapt to the demands of a life in Andunor.
Due to their skittish tendencies and natural aptitude for stealth, many goblins become rogues. This is particularly helpful and valuable since so many of them love nothing more than taking things that are not theirs. Others also become rangers, to serve as scouts sent to spy on and ambush potential targets and enemies. Fighters and barbarians are not uncommon, and they often bully their way into positions of leadership.
A visible minority become priests that, due to their divine power and wisdom, can also become tribal chiefs.
Creating A Kobold
Base Race: Halfling
- Favored Class: Sorcerer
- Alignment: Usually Lawful Evil
- ECL:: 0
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA -2 +2 0 o 0 0
- Craft Trap: +2
- Listen: +2
- Spot: +2
- Languages: Common; Undercommon; Draconic
Starting City: Andunor
Kobolds are aggressive, inward, yet industrious smallhumanoid creatures. They are noted for their skill at building traps and preparing ambushes, and mining. Kobolds are distantly related to dragons and urds and are often found serving the former as minions. On Arelith this is true only about those tribes scattered across the surface, since the kobolds of the Underdark have long managed to keep varying degrees of independence.
Kobolds are short, reptilian humanoids with cowardly and sadistic tendencies. A kobold's scaly skin ranges from dark rusty brown to a rusty black color. It has glowing red eyes. Its tail is nonprehensile. Kobolds wear ragged clothing, favoring red and orange. A kobold is 2 to 2-1/2 feet tall and weighs 35 to 45 pounds. Kobolds speak Draconic with a voice that sounds like that of a yapping dog.
Note on In Game Appearance
Due to NWN's limitations, players of kobolds can only chose their appearances from a few, uncustomisable preset models.
There is no absolute and irrefutable answer about the origin of kobolds.
Some credit Io, the Ninefold Dragon, with their creation. It is told that when Io first created true dragons, they were originally immortal gods, less powerful than Io but much like him. He taught them how to create life by giving up a piece of themselves, but he warned that in so doing, they would permanently be rendered mortal and eventually die. The life they created, however, would serve their desires without fail.
Doing as instructed, each true dragon severed a single limb, which not only grew back immediately, but the severed part grew into an adult dragon. These became the mates of the original true dragons.
Furthermore, wherever the dragons’ blood had spilled, little creatures began to emerge out of the ground with alert, crimson eyes, already looking up at their creators for guidance. Thus were kobolds born, witnesses to the moments during which the immortality of the true dragons slipped away.
Other versions of the mythos suggest that they were creations of Tiamat; dragons hatched prematurely with magic to set a defensive field around her lair when she was wounded and weakened. Yet other versions say that they are direct product of Io, creator of dragonkind.
On Arelith, kobolds have a long and diverse history. On the surface, a few tribes have long defied the might of Cordor, constantly attacking and sabotaging the city's mining operations. In the Underdark, their power and influence has been even greater. Starting with the foundation and regular rullership of Urblexis Grond, the kobolds of Arelith soon made it clear that they were not simple push overs. Their powerful sorcerers were bastions and guardians of their kind, and were often involved in plots and machinations that affected the whole island.
The patron deity of the kobolds is Kurtulmak, the god of war and mining, who despises all living creatures except kobolds. The other main god worshiped by the kobolds is Gaknulak, the god of protection, stealth, trickery, and traps. A lesser-known Kobold demigod is Dakarnok.
Due to the heavy contact with other cultures, some Arelithian kobolds have given praise to other deities as well as infernal powers.
Kobold society is influenced by their Lawful Evil alignment. They will plan and dig mines industriously, while laying cruel traps for interlopers. If they must confront an enemy, they will mass their troops for an ambush. Among the monstrous humanoids, they are known for cunning plans, unlike many they also share those plans among the tribe. General plans and goals are common knowledge, and detailed plans are shared with all who ask to allow them to work fruitfully for the good of the tribe.
Kobolds have specialized laborers, yet the majority of kobolds are miners. Kobolds prefer exile to execution, and in some disputes, kobolds will split tribes in order to spread their kind over a larger region. Kobolds are also extremely fecund egg-layers, having the highest birth rate among humanoids, and mature quickly, in 6 years. They often lay eggs in a common nest, with specialized foster parents to watch over the eggs and wyrmlings (young under 1 year).
Kobold miners make up the vast majority of any tribe. If the biggest hurdle a kobold faces is her lack of strength, then that’s no obstacle at all. The moment a kobold accepts her physical weakness, the more powerful she can become through means other than brute force. Kobolds’ power doesn’t originate in their muscles, but from their hereditary magic—in the heart of every kobold flows the blood of dragons.
For kobolds, awakening the potential of sorcery within themselves is a birthright. Nothing could be more natural. As quick-footed creatures, kobolds can also become talented rogues. With a kobold’s lack of brawn and stamina, the fighting professions might seem less than appealing, but as with any vocation that kobolds embrace with determination, they are still very much possible.
Arelithian kobolds have held true to not only their sorcery inclined natures, but also their draconic ancestry, as some of them have been known to become red dragon disciples.
Creating An Orog
Base Race: Half-Orc
- Favored Class: Fighter
- Alignment: Usually Chaotic Evil
- ECL: +2
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA +4 -2 0 0 -2 +2
- Natural AC Bonus: +1
- Fire Resistance: +10
- Cold Resistance: +10
- Forging: +1
- Languages: Common;Undercommon;Orc -__
Starting city: Andunor
Although everyone in Faerûn knows about the orc hordes of the North (the mountain orcs) and the nomadic orcs of the East (the gray orcs), only a relative few know of the third sub race that hails from the depths beloW. The Underdark is the chosen haunt of these terrible creatures, the orogs.
On Arelith, orogs have built themselves a reputation as not only fierce and disciplined warriors and soldiers, but as acomplished leaders as well.
Arelithian orogs have become strikingly different than their surface kin. While mountain orcs and gray orcs have a feral,almost bestial look to them, orogs tend to have a more civilized aspect, even if no less brutal. Their eyes are huge and pale,their ears large and their skin tones range from deep greens,blues and blacks, to charcoal grays and dirty browns. On average, they measure six and a half feet tall which, combined with their cunning and charisma, makes for an intimidating presence.
Orogs are descended from the Skullbiter Tribe of Mountain orcs who lived in the Spine of the World mountain range millennia ago. After a failed invasion of Netheril, they were chased back by elven and Netherese armies until they sought refuge in a narrow cave at the end of a valley. This cave led to the Underdark,where they became lost but were not followed by their enemies.
Delving further underground they bred in great numbers and expanded into many surrounding caverns, subjugating the creatures already living there and eventually split into a dozen different tribes. Over the ages, these orcs adapted and evolved to survive in their new surroundings, eventualy becoming the modern, lethal orogs.
On Arelith's portion of the Underdark, the orogs were not among the first to settle in the wild and vast cave systems that stretch for miles under the island. When the first of them arrived, however, they quickly assumed positions of power and influence.
Throughout the years, orogs have fought and started wars, ruled settlements and commanded armies and, though their numbers have never been vast, they have always made their mark.
Orogs brought the worship of Gruumsh and his pantheon with them into the Underdark. War itself is both a way of life and a near-religion for most orogs and many of them serve their deities through combat. Rather than building elaborate temples, they will give praise through bloodspilling.
Blacksmiths and their workshops are often revered and greatly respected, as they make the tools of death with which orogs can honor Gruumsh and his pantheon. Arelithian orogs tend to favor the worship of the One-Eye above all else, but many have been known to follow other orc gods. A fringe minority among them worships other gods.
Deep underground the orogs use slave labour to expand caverns into well-defended cities. These cities are completely enclosed in the rock and consist of huge, seemingly endless rooms connected by numerous large processionals and public squares. Orog cities often consist of layers, with rooms atop rooms atop rooms and nobility usually resides in the highest chambers. Cities such as these can house upwards of eight thousand orogs and up to three times that many slaves.
The one thing that binds together all orog societies is the placement of the forges. Orogs have a long tradition of armour smithing and weapon forging, and the first thing a tribe of orogs look for when they pick a site for a new town is a natural place to set up a forge. Volcanic vents and pools of magma are favourites, but more traditional forges built on epic scales serve as well. Orog forges are community-held, and any orog is welcome to build armour and weaponry at the forge just as long as what is produced is either put to immediate personal use or placed in the community armory.
Orogs have never built exclusive cities of their own on Arelith, but they have carved niches for themselves in most settlements that they have joined with,often molding them to their own needs and preferences. The isolated nature of Arelith's Underdark has forced the orogs to work and live closely with other denizens of the Deep Realms, which has been both a source of conflict and tension, as well as advancement and profit.
Despite the individual orog's drive to prove himself superior to both his own kind and outsiders, they do tend to stick together or, at least, preserve a sense of kinship with each other.
Most orog characters are fighters or barbarians and because orogs have higher Charisma scores than other orc races, a significant minority of them are bards and sorcerers.
Orogs on Arelith have traditionaly occupied positions as warlords, generals and tyrants, but adventuring and mercenary work are also favorite occupations. They often chase feats of might and glory, like fighting in epic battles or testing their mettle against legendary beasts.
Creating An Outcast
Base Race: Human or Half Orc
- Favored Class: Same as base race
- Alignment: Restricted to any non good.
- ECL: 0
- Stats And Skills: Same as chosen base race.
- Languages: Common; Undercommon; Class and race specific languagues.
Starting City: Andunor
Property Restrictions: Cannot own property (quarters, guildhouses, shops, boats) within settlements.
Criminals, slavers, exiles, practitioners of forbiden magics. These and more make up the social stratta known as the Outcasts, a diverse group of people who have chosen or were forced to dwell in the Underdark.
Outcasts come in all shapes and sizes, though a vast majority of them are human and half orcs. There's little to distinguish them from others of the same race, though those who have spent most of their lives beneath the ground are often pale and unacostumed to bright sunlight. They are, however, still fit for life on the surface.
There is no unifying history or mythos for Outcasts. Theirs is a tale of oportunistic shrewdness, as they filled in the gaps created by a diminuished Underdark population after the Cataclysm.
Andunor's mercantile nature also fostered a greater demand for those with contacts beyond the Underdark, a role that many outcasts were happy to play.
Many Outcasts have brought the worship of their deities with them to the Underdark, though this is rarely done so publicly. As with all other things, religion varies between individuals, but there is a definite prevalence of darker, fouler religions, from undead gods to abyssal and infernal powers.
It is also common for Outcasts to adopt the religions of the Underdark as their own.
There is no real sense of kinship between Outcasts other than the fact that they are not native to the Underdark, a fact most of its other inhabitants make sure to remind them on a regular basis.
They are, however, very efficient at filling niche roles in Andunor, and many of them have become influential in their respective fields, from the study of dark magic to the bloody business of war.
It is also common to see outcasts integrated into traditional Underdark factions. Drow houses will gladly employ them as spies and guides to the surface, and mercenary companies have little qualms with keeping them in their ranks.
Due to the cut throat nature of Andunor, those Outcasts who become rogues tend to be very successful, as their skills are perfect for such an environment. Fighters and Barbarians can also make themselves useful as bodyguards and mercenaries, even if life expectancy in those fields isn't great.
Mages of all kinds tend to be very valuable for most Underdark races, not only for the power they wield, but for the magic artifacts they can create. Andunor is also one of the few places on Arelith where Warlocks are not outright shunned.
Upon character creation, a player can chose the slave background, which grants the following:
+1 fortitude saves; -1 will; Start in Andunor branded with a collar (Requires human or half-orc, non-good alignment)
Deep Gnomes or as they prefer to reference themselves – the Svirfneblin are essentially the only inherently non-evil race dwelling within the Underdark tunnels. Closely related to their surface cousins – the Rock gnomes, they share their attention to detail, curiosity and magic, but mixed with extreme levels of fatalism and mistrust to anyone who is not of their own kind. Due to their physical weaknesses and low birth rates, life of deep gnome communities is a constant struggle for survival within the hostile Underdark and each Svirfneblin is aware of the fact that the moment they will allow themselves to lower their guard may very well mean the last moment of their whole community.
Suspicion first, fatalism second Svirfneblin rarely expect more from their life then what is currently given. They dedicate their life to work for their community from the moment they achieve adulthood until they die. The only thing which can drive a deep gnome from such a pessimistic life style is their curiosity and their love for naturally occurring Underdark crystals.
On Arelith almost every Svirfneblin is associated with the Blingstonhold - a small settlement located below the Great Grotto. Due to the proximity of the dwarves of Brogendstein and arelith history the Svirfneblin are generally considered as the Earthkin Alliance members, yet their involvement with the alliance is rather loose and external, deeply influenced by their mistrust to any non-Svirf.
Creating A Svirfneblin
Base Race: Gnome
- Favored Class: Wizard
- Alignment: Usually Neutral, Lawful-bias
- ECL: +3
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA -2 +2 0 0 +2 -4
- Small Stature No Large Weapons, Medium Weapons - Twohanded
- +1 size modifier to AB
- +1 size modifier to AC
- +4 size bonus to hide checks
- Hardiness vs. Illusions: +2 saves vs mind-affecting spells
- Offensive Training vs. Reptilians: +1 to AB vs Reptilians
- Offensive Training vs. Goblinoids: +1 to AB vs Reptilians
- Skill Affinity (Listen): +2 to Listen checks
- Skill Affinity (Concentration): +2 to Concentration checks
- Bonus Feat: Spell Focus (Illusion)
- Hide: +2
- Saving Throw Bonus (Universal): +2
- AC vs Creatures: +4
- Spell-Like Abilities: 1/day Invisibility
- Spell Resistance: 11+level(Capped at 32)
- Languages: Common;Undercommon;Gnomish
Starting City: The Great Grotto
Deep gnomes are wiry and lean with a body as hard as a slab of rock. Ranging from 3' to 3'6" (107 cm) in height and weighing between 40 and 45 lbs (20.4 kg)
Deep gnome complexions are sometimes described as "gnarled" and are commonly dark in hue, with most deep gnomes demonstrating brown or gray skin.
Males are completely bald and beardless, while the females sport hair with the same color as their eyes, most commonly grey.
Deep gnomes do not live quite as long as their kin, with a natural life expectancy just under two centuries. Due to this and a number of cultural affectations, deep gnome children are considered adults at roughly twenty years of age.
One of the fundamental differences which have to be pointed out regarding the Svirfneblin as a race is that it was their freely made choice to descend into Underdark. In the contrary to other Underdark races they were not pursued or cast down forcefully. It was their fascination and love of crystals, their curiosity of subterranean magic and life which took them into the darkness of the Underdark.
As depicted in the Svirfneblin mythology the first Svirfneblin were led into Underdark by Callurdan Smoothands, unfortunately the precise timing of this event is unknown due to the Svirfneblin reluctance to leave written records, a fair bet would be to assume the first Svirfneblin dating even before the crown wars not long after the gnome race creation in -24500 DR.
Despite their long presence in Underdark, Svirfneblin were never able to achieve such a level of organisation or strength as Drow, Duergars or other monster races. The combination of low birth rates, low physical strength, fanatical mistrust and an evasive nature keeps the deep gnomes from aggregating into large societies focused on region dominance, thus limiting their communities to smaller, closely tied villages which can often change their location.
The largest and well known of such villages would be Blingdenstone founded in -690 DR, located in Upper Dark near the Drowish Menzoberanzzan city. On Arelith island the first of the Svirfneblins arrived soon after the establishment of Udos Dro'xun, more often than not forcefully relocated as slaves by Mindflyers or other aggressive Underdark races.
Through uneasy cooperation with other non-drow races the Svirfneblin have helped in establishment of non-drow settlement of Urblexis Grond in 20AR and in 9 years after this event one of the Svirfneblin – Skeflock has taken the seat of the first tyrant of Gond, revolutionizing the leadership structure of monster races and bringing shaky but still, peace and cooperation between goblin, orog and kobold tribes living within Urblexis.
Following that the Svirfneblins ruled the Urblexis for over 20 years with short lasting periods of Goblin and Drow leadership. With the mindflyer destruction of Urblexis Gond in 61 AR, the remaining Svirfneblin from Urblexis established Blingstonhold by supporting a minor deep gnome mining community hidden within one of the caverns leading from the Forest of Spores.
Despite Drow and other races multiple attempts of sacking this establishment the Svirfneblin managed to hold onto their village through a combination of diplomacy and well-timed manipulations.
In the final attempt to secure the position of the Svirfneblin community and separate themselves from the continues struggles with the Drow. Regent Fraya together with the elders of the village have collapsed and rearranged the tunnels around the village blocking possible paths to the village and moving the whole of the village into a secret location far away from the Drow reach.
Only time can tell if this safety will be enough...
Mining, trickery, tactics and inventions are the primary features of the Svirfneblin. Thus the common profesions are: Rangers, Fighters, Rogues, Illusionists, Druids, Clerics
Svirfneblins live in self-sustaining deeply isolated villages, usually in populations of roughly a thousand individuals, sometimes exceeding that number. Their villages are kept relatively small in size as not to attract attention, meaning rather extreme levels of population density with often whole families occupying a single room dwelling. Birth rates are low with typical 3 children per family – thus children are treasured and taken care of by their mothers.
The communities are based on equality and cooperation, equally dividing work between different genders, yet managing a clear distinction between their responsibilities. In a typical Svirfneblin family the male would be the ‘King’ for the outside responsibilities and work, while the female would be focused primarily on family life and domestic responsibilities. This distinction is also reflected in Svirfs political organization, whereas the King of a village organizes mining and defense operation while the Queen takes care of village life organization and requirements. King and Queen are usually not married, but appointed by the previous ruler or chosen based on the social standing and voting of the community.
Most of the deep gnomes rarely leave their village, preferring instead local mining, farming or material processing work. Those who leave the village do so temporarily usually in search of new gems, veins or rarely on trade missions approved by the village rulers. There is no retirement age – a Svirfneblin works from the moment they achieve adulthood until they die, the elderly are transferred to less labour intensive work and are generally cared by the society, an elder deep gnome is a rarity. The year organisation is taken care of by the clergy, while the work organisation is governed by the King – for outside operations and Queen for in-village operations. There are only two universally celebrated holidays – The Festival of Ruby and Festival of the Star.
From most striking differences - Svirfneblin do not use any meaning of time tracking and are usually oblivious to it. Usage of fire is also strongly limited up to the point that Svirfneblin diet consist of only raw meats (rarely) and fungi most often. Besides water, Svirfneblin drink a salty, intoxicating brew made of fermented fish parts, which is best described as an acquire taste. Alcoholic drink in usage is Gorgondy – a wine developed from a mixture of fermented fungi and rare gem dusts.
First of all Svirfneblins are not particulary devoted, the religion serves more as a tool binding the community together as well as dictating a Svirfneblin work and relax schedule.
Majority of Deep Gnomes would be followers of Callarduran Smoothhands, due to their racial close relation with the patron of Svirfneblin.
Segojan Earthcaller would be the second most popular diety, especially for druids and rangers. Magic adepts would usually consider Baravar Cloakshadow as their patron.
Very few of the Svirfneblin would decide to turn their pleas openly to darker pantheons as it would usually mean an exile from their community if they would be found out, but followers of Urdlen or Shar are frequent.