10 Underground Cities

These cities are listed from the closest to the surface to the deepest beneath the earth.

Cities 1-3 are in the Overdark, a cold and dank area where the surface dwellers often feel the most comfortable.

Cities 4-8 are in the Underdark Proper, with tunnel highways that are home to bison-sized mushroom-beasts and heated by lava.

City 9 is in a hollow earth jungle, heated by an Illithid-made sun.

City 10 is in the Underdeep, said to be so far underground that planar travel occurs when going that deep and underworlds are easier to contact.


Culicid: a castle town ruled by a vampire, a veteran of the war and self-styled duchess. She collects blood as taxes – the blood-tithe. Culicid has the largest population of free humans beneath the surface, policed by the duchess’ immortal children.

Exports: bio-luminescent mushrooms, messenger bats, goats


Xenosh T’allotha: In Drow this means, All-Mother’s First Rest, as it is the first place the Drow stopped to rest during the exodus from the skylands.  It is a small town, really a village built around a series of wells and underground waterfalls that has grown out into the tunnels that lead to it.

Exports: Religious artifacts, Riding spiders, Monk bodyguards


Anvil: The decrepit holdfast that houses the dwarves who sided with the underground armies. It is ruled by a council of petty dwarven princes who have been trying to elect a High King since the war ended. Some whisper that outside political pressure has thwarted this process.

Exports: Mead, dwarf-made weapons and armor, dwarf-cut gems


Titan: The Githyanki fortress city built from the buried fossil of a forgotten lizard demi-god is watched closely by the Drow matriarchs. The Githyanki were allowed to keep control of this city after their attempted coup under the watchful eye of a powerful Drow priestess, along with sending hostages to Endë-Osto and their sleeping red dragons were hidden from them.

Exports: Dream-walkers, Swords-for-hire, Warlocks-for-hire, Domesticated Umber Hulks


Quaggothan: More of a meeting place or a camp site than a proper city, this is the ancient site where the Quaggoth elders live out the last days of their life when they can no longer follow the mushroom herds. It is ruled by a Drow-appointed governor who oversees the trading and make sure the Quaggoth feuding never gets out of hand. Merchant caravans always stop here to trade their foods and it has become a hub of trade and news.

Exports: Mushroom bison meat, odd artifacts the Quaggoth unearth in their travels


Kitji-Naal: Two cities divided by an underground river and ruled by twin matriarchs who rarely meet, but communicate via magical mirrors. The city is the largest and most populated city in the underdark; its politics are a convoluted mess of ancient feuds, assassin’s knives and inter-House warfare.

Exports: Poisons, Assassins-for-hire, spider-silk, books


Sclera: A dank, and dangerous city ruled by feuding gangs of Beholders – each with its own Eye-cult. This is the city with the highest human population in this layer of the underdark. It also boasts the underdark’s only public temple to Asmodeus, the Devil-God.

Exports: Scrying, mirrors, spies, indentured-devils


Eämbar: A newly founded city that is a port, connected to the ocean by a series of complicated crystal locks that link Eämbar to the ocean’s crushing depths. All manner of undersea sentient can been seen on the city streets, sometimes in specially made tanks of water pushed by servants.

The matriarch is the youngest to ever hold the title and the most renowned swords-Drow in the underdark.

Exports: Fish, undersea crafts, spider-silk crystal


Endë-Osto: The deepest city of the Drow and the Drow capital, is ruled by the eldest matriach whose throne is said to float weightless in the center of the earth. Her queensguard is made of the most cunning of the drow sword-maidens; they ride dinosaurs bred for traversing tunnels. The city is in a hollow-earth with a bruise-purple sun, said to have been created at the height of the Iillithid Empire.

Exports: vegetables, dinosaur steeds and ranger-guides


Svinifrilijihirim: Despite Endë-Osto being at the center of the world, this Gnomish city is still somehow deeper, due to a trick of planar geometry. The city, often called Deeptown for short, is home to a powerful ward, created to keep a Pit Fiend in the uninhabited darkest depths. The Pit Fiendwas unleashed by the skylanders into the underdark during the War, has destroyed a Drow city single-handedly.

Deeptown is home to a powerful council of wizards and it is a great city for finding tutoring or for apprenticing one’s self to any of the Schools of Magic. It does boast the underdark’s only Bard College that is home to one of the finest libraries in the underdark, rivaled only by Kitji-Naal and Endë-Osto.

Exports: Wizards-for-hire, Bards-for-hire, magic items, spell components

And once you’re done and you want to make the place a political mess – A Web of Cities.

Reading, Planning and Writing – Autumn is here.

Reading: I’m re-reading the Wheel of Time series, thinking that I’ll actually finish them this time. These are the books that I’ve got on my phone for the commute. I’m on The Great Hunt. I’m not precisely enjoying it but I do feel a pretty strong irrational urge to finish the thing.

I’ve got Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie in my bag, ready to roll so I can do some screen-less reading. The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven was one of the laughingest, cryingest books I have ever read. I actually laughed so hard on the train that people thought I was crazy.

I grabbed The Queen of Tearling by Erika Johansen, thinking that I might loan it out but the first few pages grabbed me and now I’m over a hundred pages in after a leisurely evening of reading. I am intrigued.

Planning: Secret!

Writing: Trying to get the spell-lists revamped for Knight Fights in Space and D&D hex-crawl writing.

And you?

My wheels are burning and my dungeons are dragon’ed.

After a few months of no regular gaming, the lean times are over. I had a G+ hangouts Burning Wheel game Sunday night, another BW game Monday afternoon and got to play in Matt’s Advanced Wizards & Wizards on Monday night. Tonight is our first D&D session.

Burning Wheel: Traditions of the Swordlords

Using the Kingmaker Adventure Path as a rough inspiration, Lady Zora Kucera with her trusted steeds Blood Reckoning and Bastard with Sgt. Hajek and his trusty mutt, Boots made their way south into the Stolen Lands. Never underestimate the power of loyalty and a few scraps of stolen tablecloth when faced with a failed Orienteering roll and a giant spider.

Here’s the thread on the BW forum.

Burning Wheel: Rafferty Returns!

I love that damned kid. 

From the thread:

In apologetic tones, apologizing over and over, explaining that this isn’t how he wanted it to go, the elf explained that all of the wizards were dead, hunted down to the last and killed.

D&D hack: Advanced Wizards & Wizards

Matt’s got a really interesting hack of D&D going. Here’s a thread about it over on SG. I get to play a Tiefling Fire Wizard named Baala, a NG acolyte of the Devil-God. Fun times.

1000 Years Later

We took this hex-crawl idea out for a spin with our shiny new D&D books and it was good fun. Gorgolog the Orc/Gladiator/Barbarian, Vistra the Dwarven/Acolyte/Cleric and Zuul the Quaggoth/Folk Hero/Ranger were smart and ran from their first possible fight. The disadvantage 2 of the 3 of them were eating because of the sunlight was a brutal factor and the Ghoul Knight was going to be too much; it was a smart, smart move and prevented a TPK.

I like this group. Next week, they leave the Silent Peninsula and head to Big Shire in an attempt to make some gold.


That was some satisfying emmer-effing gaming and a fine way to break a long gaming drought.

Githyanki as player characters

Githyanki OG

by Russ Nicholson

Warriors from the Astral Plane

Githyanki are descended from a humanoid species enslaved by the Illithid thousands of years ago, used as both labor and as a source of food. Led by the legendary Gith, from whom they take their name, they revolted against their psionic overlords made their way to the Astral Plane. In this alien space between the planes, the Githyanki carved out floating citadels from pieces of long dead deities, eventually founding Tu’narath, their capital city built on the corpse of a god.

The githyanki society is a military-minded cultural engine that does its best to make its people warlike and vicious, looking down on all other races and species. They stop their conquests only for two things: to destroy illithid or destroy githzarai. Githzarai are born of the same stock, both having fought for their freedom against the illithid empire but some unknown conflict during the fall of the illithid has led to a hatred between these two descendants of Gith. Their extermination of one another only takes pause to stamp out illithid.

The Lich-Queen’s Subjects

The githyanki are without a pantheon, instead paying homage to the lich-queen, a hungry patron who reigns from her palace on Tu’narath, surrounded by her eunuch warlocks. When one of her subjects becomes too powerful, she calls them to her palace where she can publicly devour their life essence. To deny the lich-queen when summoned is to be branded a traitor by your people and to be hunted across the planes of existence.

githyanki FF full

by Russ Nicholson

Size. Githyanki are well over six feet tall and weigh between 170 and 190 pounds. Your size is medium.

Ability Score Increase: Your Constitution score increases by 2 and your Intelligence increases by 1.

Age. Githyanki reach physical maturity at the same age as humans and rarely live past 60 years.

Alignment. Githyanki are most often evil, having been raised in a harsh culture of military imperialism, instilled with a feeling of superiority and lack of empathy. Good Githyanki are rare but sometimes occur.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet. In the Astral Plane, Githyanki can move at 120 feet, being used to moving with one’s mind as the guiding muscle.

Language. You speak secret language of Gith. You also speak Draconic and Common. In this setting, you may choose one more language: Drow, Dwarvish, Quaggoth or Gnomish.

Draconic Pact. Your people have had a pact with red dragons since your first days on the Astral Plane. When using your persuasion skill with a red dragon, you have advantage.

Psionic Resistance. You have resistance to psychic damage and have advantage against any saves against mind-control spells or psionic attacks.

Psionic Powers. You know the mage hand cantrip.

At 5th level, you know clairvoyance and can cast it once per day.

At 3rd level, you know the misty step spell and can cast it once per day.

At 7th level you know dimension door and can cast it once per day.

At 5th level, you know the clairvoyance spell and can cast it once per day.

At 9th level you know telekinesis and can cast it once per day.

At 14th level you can cast plane shift once per day.

When you use these powers, Intelligence is your spellcasting ability; you do not need any material components.

Lich-Queen’s Hunger. At 9th level, you must make a wisdom save, DC 15. If you fail, the lich-queen calls you back to Tu’narath so that she can devour your life essence, allowing your power to serve your people. If you refuse her summons, her first subject will be of equal power to you, increasing in power if you should defeat them.

If you succeed, nothing happens. You will make this save at every subsequent level, adding +1 to the DC each time.

WEB githyanki

by Russ Nicholson

Thank you to everyone who helped with comments, critique and encouragement on G+.

And thanks to the folks at the WotC boards for the added help.

D&D begins

Riffing off of this post, a few local gamers got together and made their characters for some surface crawling.

The party (so far):

Zuul, the Quaggoth/Folk Hero/Ranger CG

Saav, the Drow/Acolyte/Monk CG

Gorgolog, the Orc/Gladiator/Fighter CE

Vistra, the Dwarf/Acolyte/Cleric LG or NG? (DM’s NOTE: I kinda like that we aren’t sure just yet)


I gave them a hand-drawn hex map of the area, as it was known to a dwarven general during the war, over 1000 years ago. This rag-tag group was brought together because they pooled their money and purchased a charter that allowed them to have sole access to this portal to the surface.

I asked us all to gather around the map in character to decide which direction they would head into next week. So, they huddled around a bio-luminescent mushroom growing out of a table in a lean-to at the bottom of the pit that they’ve chartered the rights to. This will be their town, their home base, growing with them.

“Would you like to name your little charter corporation?”

“We can’t name it yet. Naming it gives it power over us.”

Nice, Dev.

Gorgolog made a roll to see where the orcs were in the area…but I had the area made up and there were no orcs. :( He rolled a 10 on his history check and found out that the elves, when they established their fort, exterminated any and all orcs that were in the mountains. Gorgolog’s hero, Bogg Skullsplitter, used to spin a dagger when he was unsure of where to go (unless it pointed to where he had been, then he would spin again). Using that bit of orcish game design, we spun a pencil.

The group will head off into the northeast.

GM’s Chores:

Re-read the races with an eye towards hacking. I have to do a full write-up for the Quaggoth, Githyanki and maybe some underground Backgrounds. Bret is already hard at work on his write-up for full-blooded orc as a PC.

Get some maps printed out for what awaits them to the northeast.

Read up on Inspiration, relevant Monsters, Combat.

A Web of Cities

You’ve got 12 Nearby Cities and now you want to start forming a web of political intrigue, creating a sense of history and motion. Roll dice until you are satisfied. Don’t make it too complicated.

Roll another 2d12, those are two cities. Roll another d6:


War is pending. The cities are hiring mercenaries and preparing their armies for the coming season of war. Trade sanctions have been in place for some time.


Treaty by Marriage is pending. The rulers or ruling class of one city is about to marry into the ruling family or class of the other, making a strong alliance. Roll another 1d12 if you want to find out which city is nervous about this.


Civil War is pending. One of the cities is about to be ravaged by internal strife and the other city is aiding the revolutionaries.


Hordes are coming. An invasion is coming from beyond the lands currently mapped and one city is set to bear the brunt of the first wave and the other is in denial that the first attack will be as bad as it will certainly be.


Unity is coming. These two cities want all of the local cites to form a league in order to support each other through any invasions or future troubles.


Peace is coming. After a bloody and brutal conflict, two sides are ready to sue for peace. Roll another 1d12 if you want a third city to act as a diplomat and broker the process.

NOTE: When it came time to use this, #4 didn’t fit the vibe of the campaign, so I subbed in the following

Alternate 4

Golden Age! An unprecedented era of beauty and art is flowering in this city. Literature and art that will be looked upon for ages to come is being made right now.

Ode to Zaheer

Zaheer is the best villain the Legend of Korra has ever put together. 

He looks cool.



He goes too far but he also has a point.


He leads a team of total bad-asses. You can feel their shared history when they are on the screen together.



And he is voiced by:

Henry Rollins