Wyrmspire: The Undercity

Beneath the entirety of Wyrmspire lies an entirely separate and altogether more sinister entity: the Undercity. It’s called many things, the Tunnels, the Darkness Below, “that place we don’t want to talk about”, and, among its inhabitants, “Dak’ren”, a nickname that originated in the name of a Njorlghar colony that existed below Wyrmspire before the Undercity was formed.

“Before the Undercity was formed” is an interesting qualifier. There have always existed caves beneath Wyrmspire; the city of Dúren Vas was built over limestone, full of caves. For most of its history, these caves have contained Njorlghar colonies. It’s not known whether Dúren Vas was built over an already large Njorlghar colony or whether the colony grew due to the plenty of the city built over it.

The caves remained for centuries. At some point, near the high point of the empire, while under the House of Atralang, sewer systems were built under it. Only some of these are still in use today (the people of Wyrmspire often prefer dumping their waste in the street), while the rest have been abandoned. All of them are part of the Undercity.

The final parts of the Undercity are the tunnels made specifically for inclusion in the Undercity. After the rise of the Thieves’ Guild, soon after the fall of the empire, the tunnels and caverns were expanded to accommodate their less than legal activities. Since then, the Undercity has been expanded time and time again, and now is larger, in terms of population, than many small cities across the Civilized Lands.

The population of the Undercity is incredibly varied, though it is skewed towards to factions: humans of or under the protection of the Thieves’ Guild, and Njorlghar. Other than that, there are scatterings of every other race of the Civilized Lands, including the occasional Satyr or very, very confused Amen-Kathar.

The humans of the Undercity are mostly confined to the area directly below the Old Quarter. There are entire cities in the dark below, most of them spillover from the Old Quarter: the families of thieves whose talents make them targets of the city’s elites, for example. Thus, they hide their loved ones away in the below, and no one ever finds them. It’s why the Old Quarter seems to contain more people than could rationally have houses there: many of them have their homes in the Undercity.

The Undercity is home to three major cities of humans, though “cities” is a bit of an odd term for the piles of ramshackle houses that collect on the banks of the rivers of waste. These cities are Agron’s Hideaway, Krakk’an, and Tooth. Agron’s Hideaway is the largest, and sprung up on the sight of a famous hiding place of a famous thief. Krakk’an is an old Njorlghar colony, abandoned during some long-ago purging of the Undercity, and reinhabited by thieves, who are nothing if not willing to improvise. Tooth is the smallest of the three, only a town, really. No one has any idea why it’s called Tooth. Most people think it probably has something to do with teeth, but it’s all up in the air.

The Njorlghar of the Undercity are many and varied, but they’ve already been gone over in the Njorlghar post, so go look at that, you wastrels you.

Of course, there’s something special under every Wyrmspire quarter. Under the Merchant Quarter is a chain of caves and tunnels often used by smugglers. Under the Dwarven Quarter, there’s just a spillover of the random mountain clan battles. There’s a group of rogue wizards beneath the Arcane Quarter, a colony of vampires beneath the Temple Quarter, an underground gladiatorial arena beneath the Noble Quarter, and a cult trying to summon an insane god beneath the palace. All in all, the area beneath the Old Quarter is, ironically enough, one of the safest places in the Undercity you could be.

Below the Arcane Quarter lies the territory of the Order of the Gold Magi. If you remember, the above region is home to five orders of magi, the Red, Blue, White, Grey, and Black. These are the five largest and most important orders, but there are a bunch of small useless ones. The Gold Magi are the largest and usefulest of these small and useless groups. They are fanatical religious zealots, who use their power to convince people to worship Archus. They aren’t often very nice about it. Unfortunately for them, their blinding worship of Archus means that they have no time to worship Omora Agabai, so they find their spells occasionally randomly fizzling at an inopportune moment.

Beneath the Temple Quarter is the city’s largest coven of vampires. Of course, since they’re vampires, they need a lot of space, so they basically have massive underground mansions full of ritzy things. Occasionally they come together and discuss how much things have gone to pot in Wyrmspire lately, and plot their takeover of the surface world. This doesn’t amount to much, as often they get caught up discussing the Lady Karvata Nogolotta’s darling doilies.

Under the Noble Quarter is the famed Arena of Blood, which is seriously the most creative name the proprietor could think up. It’s probably the most commonly traversed area of the Undercity, and there’s a crapload of people that come to it every day. The attractions range from two gladiators going head-to-head, to one gladiator against some kind of wild beast, to two wild beasts against each other, to just letting a bunch of random shit out in the arena and watching the carnage. The Arena of Blood has cultivated a few “champions” over the years, only one of which is humanoid. The rest are an assortment of vile monsters, including one incredibly pissed swamp dragon.

Of course, the most vile place in the entirety of the Undercity is the area beneath the Palace. There is a large community of cultists – an entire city of them, really. They worship a demon lord known as Khaaz… a demon lord who desires the power of a god. They’ve been researching a ritual capable of elevating him to godship, and plan on performing it soon. This would require the sacrifice of every one of their number, but their leaders conveniently left that part out when they described the ritual to their minions.

Important Residents of the Undercity:

Salkiss is the leader of the Thieves’ Guild, and often referred to as the Undermayor by the people below. The Thieves’ Guild has always had a very active role in the control of the Undercity, as they’re basically all it has as a governing body (though they avoid the territories of the vampires and the cult of Khaaz). Recent Thieves’ Guild leaders have done such things as establishing lines of torches to connect the various towns of the Undercity. Salkiss himself has actually constructed a paved rode between Agron’s Hideaway and Krakk’an, the Undercity’s two largest villages, even building a bridge over a large area of sewage-rapids that previously had to be traveled around at great length.

Salkiss is arguably the only person that can travel the Undercity unmolested. He’s often recognized by the dark green cloak and leather armor he wear, which makes you wonder if half the people you see in green cloaks and armor are actually Salkiss or just impostors taking advantage of the “don’t fuck with the only guy who cares about us” clause. There’s a chance that the entire ruling council of the Thieves’ Guild goes around in green, just to fuck with everyone’s head. The point is, wearing green is good for your health in the Undercity.

Hith the Carver is the proprietor of the Arena of Blood. Hith has been in power even since the Arena’s founding, and many wonder if it’s not an inherited title. Hith is a massive man, fat, smelly, and hairy, with long black hair falling in greasy bunches and a perpetual scruffiness about him. He often smokes a foul-smelling cigar, and indeed he’s generally the foulest person you could hope to run into in the Undercity, and not only because there’s a large chance he’ll take you captive and use you as a gladiator.

Hith spends his time wandering the less-traveled areas of the Undercity with four “associates”, attacking anything that looks like it can be overcome. This may be entire groups of marauding Njorlghar – as such, there’s a lot of Njorlghar gladiators under Kith’s control. The most famous of these is Ripper, a large black Njorlghar originally of the Bloodfang clan. Ripper is the most fearsome gladiator among Hith’s troops, and many a beast has lost its life to Ripper’s twin shortswords. Ripper goes into battle clothed only in a loincloth and cloak.

Jareg the Mutt is the best merchant of the Undercity. Given enough time, he can acquire anything. He’s known as “the Mutt” because of his parentage. To be honest, he’s not sure of it, having grown up an orphan in Agron’s Hideaway, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s got some interesting shit going on there. His slightly pointed ears indicate elven ancestry, but he’s slightly shorter than average for a human, and has both the large nose of a dwarf and the slightly thinner form of an Underfoot. Of course, he’s got a lot of hair all over his body, and slight stubs of horns beneath his mane of brown-blond hair. He commonly hits on any Rhokari or Njorlghar females that come anywhere near him, in an effort to spawn even stranger children.

Jareg is the go-to merchant for the entirety of the Thieves’ Guild. He’s got a large stock of poisons, maps of the Undercity, blueprints to most mansions of the Noble Quarter, and fake keys to at least half of the temples in the city. He runs a shop on the outskirts of Agron’s Hideaway, which is almost always bustling with thieves planning their newest excursion and buying accordingly. Jareg should by all means be rich by know, but his money seems to disappear as soon as he gets it. No one knows what or who he spends it on.

Charon is the ferryman. If you want to get around the canals of the Undercity, you simply call for him. Charon has been around longer than anyone can remember. He’s certainly very old at this time, hunched with age, and with long white hair that looks brown due to the layers of dirt that have accumulated over the years. Often, he can be seen propelling his raft around the Undercity, using a long wooden pole to move about. When he passes, he often sings an unknown song under his breath. Its tune has become stuck in many an Undercity pedestrian’s head over the years – though no one knows its origins.

There are bells atop poles stationed every so often along the Undercity’s canals – simply ring one of these bells and Charon will be along shortly. Give him something, anything (a small coin will do, though he also accepts trinkets and any manner of interesting object) and he’ll ferry you to where you want to go. No one messes with Charon, as everyone is in need of his services eventually. No one knows where he sleeps, either, or even if he sleeps. He seems to always be there. No one’s even confident that he’s sighted, as he never looks any customers directly in the eyes. He may well be entirely blind, and find his way around the Undercity by memory.

Meeting people on Charon’s raft is rather… odd, to say the least. Often, he’ll pick up several passengers at a time. At times like these, there’s a code of silence, as people who say things like “so, where you off to, then?” are liable to get shanked. Charon stays out of these conflicts. It’s generally considered intelligent to simply forget any face you see on the ferry, lest the watch come calling. Though the Watch’s presence in the Undercity is… negligible, at best. The only groups that never really takes advantage of Charon’s service are the various Njorlghar clans, who distrust him, and would honestly rather swim through the slime and muck that makes up the Undercity’s canals.

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2 Comments

  1. March 20, 2008 at 11:50 pm

    Extra star for the extremely blunt Charon thing.

    Also, how are all the species even capable of interbreeding like that?!

  2. tuskedchimp said,

    March 21, 2008 at 2:03 pm

    Yeah, I invented both of those characters a while ago, and they were both far too delicious to not include. I mean, I could have named Charon something else, but why bother? And I’m not sure how the species are capable of interbreeding, but I bet it involves wizards somehow.


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