Sunday, October 16, 2016

The City of Erwyndran
Introduction Storyline

The Fabled City of Erwyndran is a dangerous place, far from the comforting light of the surface. Treachery and betrayal are the bywords of negotiation, and the Drow demand subservience from all who dare intrude into the subterranean empire of evil. Just over 32,000 Drow call Erwyndran home and the Drow of this city are among the most hardiest, cunning and deadliest living in the Underdark.

The ruling council of Erwyndran is small for a city of this size - Eight houses rule, rather than the more usual nine, twelve, fourteen or even sixteen for a city of this size. On the other hand, Erwyndran are more tightly-knit populace than most, because they all dwell in one vast natural cavern. Most Drow cities have inherent prejudices and rivalries, as citizens grow up in various caverns and linking passageways, and citizens are judged or ranked by where they come from. Even with this large population, the cities population is still a well united.

The worship of Lolth (called "Lloth" in other settings) dominates the city of Erwyndran.

There seems no higher purpose in the lives of most citizens that to rise in the service of the Spider Queen - until she claims each life, in turn. Most Drow develop a bobby or interest to call there own (from mastery of a particular weapon to collecting certain gems or fine books) but these can be weaknesses if a rival can find a way to exploit them.

With Lolth worship comes female dominance. Males of the city tend to excel in the few things they are allowed to excel in: fighting, wizardry and dirty jobs related to trade, building and food. Males who enjoy home or the worship of Lolth turn their efforts to mastering the arts or sculpture and design (and if magically talented, glyphs and House defensive traps) and to excelling at songs and praise of the Spider Queen.

Restless males tend to gravitate to the study of Sorcere (which can involve being cloistered away from most House politics for their entire lives), or towards life as a merchant traveling through the perilous Underdark to and from other cities and trade points within the Underdark, sometimes (although rare) to the surface. (Mantol-Derith, beneath the city of Candledeep, is one such neutral location used by the Underdark and the surface for trading)

On rare occasions it is worth making the long trip to Mantol-Derith, and the destinations great dangers, for the scarce and wonderful wares - such as spell components that can be bought there.

Except for individuals of great beauty, or who show great aptitude in the arts of war, sorcery or artisanship in a valued field, the preceding notes on choices of life apply almost exclusively to Drow nobles: commoners do as they are told, forming the bulk of the drudge labor, House servant, and common soldiering tasks as servants of the nobles Houses. No Drow citizen of Erwyndran is ever oficially the "Slave" of another Erwyndran, but a great many male Drow are slaves in all but name. (Drow battle captives won or captured outside the city can be held openly as slaves).

The commoners only avenues to freedom lie in escape from the city, or in developing skill and reputation (and thereby, work) as Hunters, Mercenary Warriors, or Traveling Merchants. All of these routes to a better life lead into the dangerous wild Underdark, few survive long enough to enjoy any successes. Commoners with exceptional skills are usually adopted by the noble House they serve, or (more rarely) by the first ranked house of Erwyndranto notice there skill and seize them. They receive the House name, sponsorship, and a position - a Precarious one, based on performance and the whim of the ruling Matron of the House.

In the case of a male Drow of great beauty awarded the position of "Patron" (Consort to the Matron), this is all too literally true. Some sadistic matrons take new Patrons every night, having the twisted, disfigured remnant of the last Consort fed to House animals, slain out of hand, or put to menial labor to be slowly worked to death.

Perhaps the best road to independence for a Drow lies in Sorcery. House Wizards (and even more so, House members studying in Sorcere, shielded from daily contact with non-Wizards) are treated with "some" respect by even the most aggressive females. One can never be sure of the power of a Drow wizard - until it is too late. Drow wizards always look to there own defense first, and are able to hide powers and magical preparations even from the watchful Priestesses of Lolth.

Female Drow often throw themselves with energy and zeal into the endless, vicious intrigue and politics of the city. The bodies of many mark every twist and turn in the fortunes of the Houses, and the everchanging favor of fickle Lolth - but for every Drow female who falls, fifteen to twenty males meet doom. If life is so dangerous, and Drow are forced into endless strife against Drow, how does Erwyndran not destroy itself? The answer lies with Lolth. If one believes her faithful, the cruel Spider Queen pits Drow against Drow solely to improve and strengthen her people, making the survivors ever stronger, wiser, and better able to serve her. Lolth also helps her people from time to time (though seldom directly, especially in House vs House internal conflicts).

Matrons can ask for information from her dreaded handmaidens, the Yochlol, but any faithful Erwyndran Drow who calls on Lolth in need may receive a one time Cure Light Wounds, Neutralize Poison, or any other spell-power possessed by Drow even if the supplicant can not yet, or never will be able to, wield such powers or has exhausted his or her daily ration of them. Such aid is always temporary, and accompanied by a spider. Lolth always exacts her price later: often a difficult, dangerous mission or service. Alternatively Lolth may send spiders to attack a foe or some beleaguered Drow and this form of aid does not cost anything.

The Fabled City of Erwyndran is a seething power house of Lolth worshipping, tirelessly evil Drow, striving for supremacy in the eyes of the Fell Spider Queen, "An ant hill of arrogant evil" as some have called it and thus begins the journals of the "Darkness Reborn" Underdark campaign.

The Fabled City of Erwyndran

Erwyndran is a Drow city of more than sixty thousand population. The marble cavern of the city is dome shaped and more than two miles in diameter. A large lake lies in the center of the cavern beneath the main platform of the city itself and is fed by two freshwater rivers and drained by a third. The rivers left large plateaus upon which the Drow dwelt slaves often dwelt in caves along the shores of the lake. The city's three plateaus are each dominated by the eight nobles houses. The city itself is located over two miles beneath the surface. Numerous tunnels lead to the surface allowing the Drow access to the surface throughout the realms.

Erwyndran is located in a huge egg shaped cavern, some two miles wide and over a thousand feet high. The city was mainly carved from calcite and it is filled with a violet faerie fire aura. Buildings are often covered with the city's main motif: the spider, in honor of Lolth. The roof of Erwyndran is covered in paths. Some homes were 1,000 feet above the floor. Ceiling houses have great magic enchanted into them to prevent them from falling, and many are empty. An enchantment in the city cavern reduces echos from all the noise. There are a fixed number of buildings in Erwyndran, meaning that the poorer areas are extremely crowded. Noble houses, once destroyed or abandoned, are not permitted to be reoccupied, meaning that there are a number of abandoned compounds both on the surface and roof of the city cavern.The city has around a hundred gates, all guarded. These gates lead into the myriad tunnels surrounding the city.

The Ruling Houses
Rank: 1st House Duskrym
Matron Mother: Bane Duskrym
House Females: 71
Priestesses: 52
High Priestesses: 19
House Males: 20
Warriors: 5
Wizards: 5

Drow Force: 350 Elite Foot (Female), 700 Archers, 1,200 Foot, 400 Lizard Riders
Slave Force: 300 Goblins, 300 Orcs, 100 Gnolls, 150 Bugbears, 100 Ogre, 75 Minotaur
Rank: 2nd House Rasta'Thal
Matron Mother: G'eldra Rasta'Thal
House Females: 50
Priestesses: 6
High Priestesses: 14
House Males: 17
Warriors: 4
Wizards: 13

Drow Force: 250 Elite Foot (Female), 50 Elite Foot (Male), 500 Archers, 1,000 Foot, 250 Lizard Riders
Slave Force: 200 Goblins, 200 Orcs, 100 Gnolls, 100 Bugbears, 100 Ogre, 50 Minotaur
Rank: 3rd House Khalazze
Matron Mother: Lirial Khalazze
House Females: 45
Priestesses: 32
High Priestesses: 13
House Males: 15
Warriors: 6
Wizards: 9

Drow Force: 300 Elite Foot (Female), 75 Archers, 75 Lizard Riders
Slave Force: 600 kobold
Rank: 4th House Telanna
Matron Mother: Guillara Talenna
House Females: 27 Priestesses: 22
High Priestesses: 5
House Males: 18
Warriors: 12
Wizards: 6

Drow Force: 100 Elite Foot (Female), 200 Archers, 300 Foot, 150 Lizard Riders
Slave Force: 400 Goblin, 100 Goblin Archers, 100 Orc, 100 Bugbear, 100 Trolls
Rank: 5th House Elsparssa
Matron Mother: Faer Elsparssa
House Females: 19
Priestesses: 14
High Priestesses: 5
House Males: 22
Warriors: 21
Wizards: 1

Drow Force: 60 Elite Foot (Female), 100 Archers, 80 Foot, 20 Lizard Riders
Slave Force: 200 Goblin, 100 Goblin Archers, 100 Orc, 100 Bugbear
Rank: 6th House Zaphra
Matron Mother: Jhulae Zaphra
House Females: 16
Priestesses: 12
High Priestesses: 4
House Males: 7
Warriors: 2
Wizards: 5

Drow Force: 100 Elite Foot (Male), 100 Archers, 150 Foot, 50 Lizard Riders
Slave Force: 200 Goblin, 200 Goblin Archers, 100 Orc, 100 Bugbear
Rank: 7th House Yril'Lys
Matron Mother: Kirria Yril'Lys
House Females: 11
Priestesses: 8
High Priestesses: 3
House Males: 6
Warriors: 3
Wizards: 3

Drow Force: 100 Archers, 100 Foot, 50 Lizard Riders
Slave Force: 200 Goblin, 100 Orc, 100 Bugbear
Rank: 8th House Argitha
Matron Mother: Imrae Argitha
House Females: 11
Priestesses: 7
High Priestesses: 4
House Males: 5
Warriors: 2
Wizards: 3

Drow Force: 50 Elite Archers, 100 Archers, 100 Foot, 50 Lizard Riders
Slave Force: 200 Goblin, 200 Goblin Archers

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