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 The Underdark - Overview

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PostSubject: The Underdark - Overview   The Underdark - Overview EmptyTue Aug 18, 2015 2:29 pm

The Underdark - Overview


Stretching great leagues and unknown fathoms beneath the surface of Aeria, the ‘Underdark’, as it is sometimes called, is a hidden subterranean world existing concurrently, and, often, independently from the world above. More than simply being an offshoot of the surface world, the Underdark is in many ways its own, separate society, acting as home to many unique flora, fauna, and sentient races that would be looked upon as alien or strange to the surface races. Entire nations live within these labyrinthian caverns, and woe be to any who thinks them merely savages, living in the fearful darkness.

The Underdark itself is hard to define. Many caves and tunnels exist which don’t lead into what most would consider to be the Underdark, and large regions of the Underdark itself are uninhabitable or simply uninhabited. For lack of a concrete definition, the Underdark is a supremely vast region, which, by most estimations, exists primarily beneath the regions of north-eastern Sarkun, Karak Zigil, eastern Sanctimonia, and western Sida. However, the endless tunnels and cave systems which make up the Underdark can stretch on for untold hundreds of miles in any direction. The Underdark has never been fully mapped.

Some people believe that the Daefar are responsible for the creation of the Underdark, but that is mere legend. Most of the Underdark was actually formed by rising pockets of molten rock or Truminium that eventually emptied out or were deliberately drained in unknown aeons past. The Daefar found these pockets, and though they and other subterranean races have been very industrious in expanding these initial regions, many of the greatest and most famous of the Daefar’s vast caverns originated in this way.

Many races, both sentient and beastial, live within the Underdark. The most famous of these races is, of course, the Daefar, the Dark Elves, the apostate sons of Aten, but there are other races which have come to dwell in the Underdark, often out of necessity, fleeing persecution or hardship in the world above. More than anything else, any creature or race which hopes to survive in the Underdark must be able to live free of the benefits of the sun. The Underdark is also a harsh place, and whether by natural need or divine perversion, many of the flora and fauna which exist are violent, carnivorous, and deadly. Naturally occurring poison is a common trait in the Underdark.

These are just a few of the sentient races which call the Underdark home:

The Daefar

The Daefar are obviously the most well-known of the Underdark races. The story of their self-exile is infamous, as is their apparent devotion to a dark, mysterious God. Having departed sometime early in Aeria’s history, the Daefar have made the Underdark their home, their Holy Land, and have populated it more than any other. The Daefar are feared and reviled by the surface above for their purported cruelty and insidious plots to return and conquer the surface, but the vast majority of Dark Elves are gentler creatures than you might expect. Most of them live out their lives, believing the same evils of their surface counterparts, but engaging in lives of commerce, friendship, and peace. These commoners and underclasses live in much the same way that the people of the surface do. It is the upper echelons of the military, the House Matriarchs and Noble Lords, and the Matriarch herself which indulge in true cruelty. For the gospel of Lloth has two contradictory sermons, one for the poor, which the Upper Classes delight to keep in bondage or weakness, and one for the elite, which glorifies murder, apostasy, hedonism, and strife within the ranks.

The Daefar are split into numerous noble houses, both major and minor, each of which has the potential to act as a minor nation. Colonization and expansion of the Underdark is often undertaken on house lines, and some of the Daefar houses live far away from the center of civilization beneath Sarkun. These houses are ostensibly united beneath a single, supreme Matriarch which acts as the religious leader for the entire race. However, the power of the Matriarch is not as absolute as many of the commoners may think, and it often falls to individual Matriarchs to reign in the schemes and ambitions of the houses. Some are weak, some are strong. The current Matriarch is Velkyn XI.

The Goblins

The Goblins are the second sentient race to immigrate into the Underdark, having done so in large numbers a few thousand years after the Daefar did. Unlike the Daefar, the Goblins did not entirely leave the surface, but instead entered the Underdark as part of their expansion. Early in Aeria’s history, Goblins engaged in a struggle for land and resources with nascent humanity. These wars were fierce and bloody for both sides, and although the Goblins were not entirely defeated, the rising power of humanity forced them to seek out regions where there were less humans. Some inhabited the deep forest or the far tundras, but many made their way into the Underdark.

These subterranean Goblins came to flourish more than any of their surface brethren. Whereas many forest Goblins and so forth were restricted to small villages or tribal living, the Goblins of the Underdark came to create impressive cities and nations beneath the earth.

As the most numerous race of the Underdark save for the Daefar, they have engaged in a long, ongoing rivalry with them for space, wealth, and resources. The Daefar often look upon the Goblins as savages, similar to those on the surface. The Daefar and the Goblins have a unique relationship in the Drider, the half-Daefar half-spider divine servants of Lloth. The Daefar revile these creatures, and many of the Goblins worship them as minor Gods. This only accentuates the rivalry between Goblin and Daefar.

The Vampires

The Underdark seems a natural home for Vampirekind, and it has been the ambition of many a Vampire clan to establish a true civilization in the Underdark. However, while it is true that it is far easier for a Vampire to remain hidden in the Underdark, the Daefar revile Vampires as equally as those on the surface, and do not tolerate their existence. Vampiric settlements in the Underdark live often short and violent lives, facing raids from either the Daefar or Goblins. Still, a few reclusive covens exist, and either Goblin or Daefar Underdark society are welcome homes to a Vampire, many of whom are never uncovered.

The Tieflings

Similar to Vampires, the Underdark would seem to be a welcome home to Tieflings, who are often hated and persecuted by those on the surface. However, the population of Tieflings in the Underdark is quite low, as the Daefar are not known to favor demons anymore than Vampires. However, there is some evidence that, following the collapse of the Summin - Nin Khanates, a fairly large number of Tieflings escaped vengeful Sidans by fleeing into the Underdark. Little remains of this supposed migration other than a high demonic presence in the blood of a certain swath of Daefar society, suggesting that the Tieflings assimilated into Daefar culture and eventually interbred with the Daefar until few pure Tieflings were left.

The occasional Tiefling is of course born in the Underdark, and will often stay in the Underdark, disenfranchised, or, at worst, subjected to rituals at the hands of ambitious House nobles, who wish to sacrifice them to some dark demon or use their blood for various alchemical and magical uses.

The Driders

The Driders are amongst the least populous races of the Underdark, with a population in the low thousands. The Driders are the punished, Daefar who have committed such a vile, irredeemable crime that the only punishment is to be thrown, alive, into the Deep Pits. Once there, the divine power of Lloth ensnares them, and the innumerable poisonous creatures of the Deep Pits feed on their flesh, filling their body to the brim with toxins and to the edge of death. Eventually, these poor souls are ensconced in webbing, trapped between life and death as their body changes. They emerge as a Drider, a half-Daefar, half-Spider beast, a mindless creature who has lost all their memories and all conception of who they were. With their elvish body pinned to their Spider body by webbing, bound and unable to move, they exist as a mockery of the elven form. Most Driders never escape this torment.

The Daefar detest and fear the Driders as the punishment for apostasy and high crime - like dark angels, spectres of death, the Driders maintain the Deep Pits, where dead Daefar are sent to rejoin Lloth. However, more than this, the Daefar fear the Drider who has escaped this torment - something very few ever do. Set free, many slowly retain their minds, though they never regain their memories. Hunted by the Daefar, those that survive, flee - sometimes to be welcomed by the Goblins as minor Gods. Consumed by hatred of Lloth and the Daefar, they often lead the Goblins to war against the Daefar as revenge.

Many of these Driders themselves are oppressive tyrants, brutal and unforgiving to their Goblin subjects. The occasional Drider, however, becomes a fair ruler, and is loved by his or her people rather than feared.
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