Life in the Underdeeps is complicated. Inter-marriage, adoption and all manner of family and clan relationships lead to people being raised in a culture that one might not expect by looking at them. Talk about it with the table and go for it.
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 takes blood from thralls taken from the surface, as Culicid is a major stopping point for the Drow’s thrall-trade. 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 matriarch 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, who ride dinosaur steeds bred for battle. The city is in a hollow-earth with a bruise-purple sun, said to have been created at the height of the Illithid 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, alien gems, gates to other worlds, spell components
And once you’re done and you want to make the place a political mess – A Web of Cities.
I’ve been thinking about Planescape recently and wrote up some tables for our Thursday night game. As Stras says, “Encounter Tables are setting design,” and if you look at Band of Blades you can see that in action. I don’t think of the tables as Random Encounter Tables but as Inspirational Encounter Tables.
Inspiration > Information. If choosing from the table helps me create a cool thing or if the players’ actions mean something on or off the table should definitely be around, I’ll use that. As Apocalypse World says, “Sometimes disclaim decision-making.” Sometimes, though, it is obvious from the way the players’ actions have pinballed off of your prep, that a dragon-is-a-coming. When that happens, I’ll let the dragon in.
There is a blog post about having 2d6 Encounter Tables and always having a Dragon as the 2 or 12 and I always lose that link. If you have it, please post it in the comments.
The following d66 tables are inspired by Trophy Gold, where we use these to create characters.
Sometimes I need a delve, an imbalance to address. When that happens I roll 2d6, not adding them up and looking at the tables below, rolling or picking until I have an idea for an adventure.
And sometimes I’m goign to use these tables so that I have the planar bits at my fingertips. I remember that Story Hour on ENworld where there were elves whose plane had cracked and fallen into fell realms, changing the fey beings there forever. I want to be able to take an Elf Citadel and decide that there was a cataclysm and it…got jammed between *rolls dice* a plane of Magma and one of the Nine Hells, creating these volcanic elves who worship the Devil-God.
Our first game was about Keymont. I rolled and looked and daydreamed until I had this little cliff-side town on the edge of the Astral Sea, a failed whaling town that used to be the Nantucket of the Astral before all of the whales disappeared. Now they make keys but the machinery that syphons stuffs out of the sea to make keys out of is frozen and winter should be long gone by now.
Sometimes it’ll be like that, a town in trouble, a community in need. Other times it’ll be a dying god hit by a Fire Bolt fashioned in the Heavens who fell onto the Outlands and became a fell dungeon. Roll. Pick. Pick and roll until I have something. Who knows, I might even read through the Manual of the Planes from time to time or just have Githyanki forming a beachhead for a future invasion because I adore Githyanki. We’ll see.
I’m a fan of shrines and like having my favorite deities in a few tables. For some reason d66 makes it easy to list stuff. I can usually think of a dozen or so and then figure out that last 6 when I see a pattern in the first two-thirds.
That isn’t the map I started with, though. At first I started with this one:
What I really wanted was a link from each Portal Town to the plane it led to and the poetic three sentence descriptions from the 3rd Edition Manual of the Planes by Jeff Grubb, Bruce R. Cordell and David Noonan. At some point I’ll make 2 more for the infernal realms and the middling limbo-ish realms but for now, that is fine. I’ve got the idea.
Want to make your own? Here are some PDF’s. I’d love to hear about what you do with them and how they work for you at the table.