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Deep Hollow, a creature crucible for the Shadowdeepby Giampaolo Agosta from Threshold Magazine issue 14
A Creature Crucible for the Shadowdeep
by Giampaolo Agosta and John Calvin.
The Shadowdeep is a vast region of caverns and tunnels under the Known World. Within it, there are many nations, such as the Shadow Elven Territories and the Empire of the Great Glaurants. Nested beneath the Altan Tepes Mountain range, at the junction of the domains of Rockhome, Darokin and Ylaruam, is a smaller city-state. This city-state, known is Deep Hollow, is a keystone in the trade of the Shadowdeep despite its small size. This place serves as a market place for goblinoids form the north-west, glaurants from the south-west, and dwarves from the east alike. The dwarves call this place 'Dulwyr' int heir own tongue, and it is home to many races including rock-men, troglodytes, dwarves, gnomes, goblins, and aranea.
Races of the Shadowdeep
Colddrake and Shadowdrake
Drakes are faeries who are able to take the form of either a small dragon or a humanoid. They all remember the Great Rain of Fire and attempt to prevent a new catastrophe of the same type by limiting the technological progress of mortal races. The form a network, a kind of worldwide secret society of thieves and spies, to further their goals and protect themselves.
Shadowdrakes are almost identical to wooddrakes, but can only take the form of a shadow elf.
Colddrakes are also very similar to wooddrakes, and have the abilities of wooddrakes of the same level, except for HD and XP, as shown in the table below. Colddrakes of less than NM level have the same attacks as wooddrakes of the same age category.
Table: Colddrake Character Class
Dwarves and Gnomes
More than a race, Traveller are a culture of dwarves and gnomes. They are a gypsy-like travelling folk, wandering across the Shadowdeep, trading with all the races and offering small services. They have standard dwarf or gnome character class abilities (Travellers often have mixed dwarven and gnomish ancestry, and their abilities simply reflect the ancestor race they more closely resemble). Moreover, they have developed abilities similar to those of Darokin Merchants. These abilities only apply within the Shadowdeep. Table XX lists the special abilities of the Travellers. Those that are not available to Darokin Merchants can be used once per day.
Table: Traveller Spell list
Hold Underground Animal
Speak with Underground Animals
Summon Underground Animal
These odd dwarves live in caverns in the Northern Reaches. They were created alongside with the Rockborn, but are definitely different from several points of view. First, they have an affinity for weird magics, and are known as makers of wondrous items. Most of these items, though, turn out to be only rumors or fakes. Second, they are as much asocial and prone to mental instability as the Rockborn are social and sound-minded.
Moulder dwarves follow the same rules as rockborn dwarves, except that they have a -2 penalty to ST vs Magic and Poison, and do not get the defence powers of rockborn dwarves against Magic as they do not benefit of the same protection that Kagyar bestowed to the Rockborn. However, in their dealings with dragons, moulder dwarves have developed techniques to defend against these treasure-hoarders, and high level moulder dwarves have the same protection against Dragon Breath as elves and halflings. All moulder dwarves are adept at mechanics, and can learn the Open Locks and Find and Remove Traps Thieving skills as a single General Skill. They progress as Thieves of the same level. Moreover, any attack rank achieved is considered as a new level for this purpose.
Finally, moulder dwarves do not have relics, and cannot benefit from them. They create magical items through the standard procedures for Clerics and Magic Users.
Moulder dwarves can become Dwarf Clerics, but they normally follow Thanatos, the Father of Demons. Moulder dwarf Clerics are Chaotic, and therefore cast reverse clerical magic. Like other dwarven Clerics, they have no weapon restrictions, but cannot turn or control the undead.
Moulder dwarves can also become Artificers. Artificers use d6 for their Hit Dice, but learn arcane magic as wizards of the same level. They are limited to level 12 in magic progression. Moulder dwarf Artificers learn a special ritual at attack rank H that allows them to cast the Permanence spell needed to create certain magical items. They can only do so in their own laboratories, with a casting time of 1 month. Otherwise, Artificers are able to follow all magic items creation procedures as standard Magic Users.
Table: Moulder Dwarf Artificer Spell list
Protection from Normal Missiles
Contact Outer Plane
Ice Storm/Wall of Ice
Stone to Flesh
Wall of Stone
Wall of Iron
Deep glaurants are found in the deeper reaches of the Shadowdeep. They are considered low-intelligence predators, but a related race of “great glaurants” is also rumoured of. Great glaurants actually exist, and have their own civilization less than one mile beneath the Five Shires. Great glaurants maintain an embassy and trade delegation in Deep Hollow, so glaurant characters can also be found in the Shadowdeep city. All glaurants originate from the Nightmare Dimension. Deep glaurants have suffered more from the shift to the Normal Dimension, whereas great glaurants have better adapted. Still, they perceive darkness as light, cold as warmth, and so on.
Table: Glaurant Character Class
Darkness 1/week, Infravision
Gliding, Darkness ⅓ rounds
-1 AC at level 12 and every 6 levels
Glaurants are powerful creatures with multiple attacks and the power to create darkness1 at will, every three combat rounds. High level glaurants often study magic, although the glaurant path is very different from that of most races, and resemble most the Secret Crafts of Glantri. Glaurant magic is organized in paths, and each path is composed of five thresholds. Access to the first threshold is available to 5th level glaurants, and costs 10,0000 XP. Further thresholds can be accessed after 5 more levels, and every new threshold costs twice as many XP as the previous one. Powers associated with the thresholds can be used once per day, plus once per day for each additional threshold achieved.
Path of Nightmares
The Path of Nightmares deals with the study of the Nightmare Dimension. Glaurants that study this path attempt to draw from their dimension of origin to affect the minds of Normal beings, and from the Normal dimension to affect the minds of Nightmare beings. Due to their stronger connection with the Nightmare Dimension, glaurants who follow this path have a 5% immunity to Normal magic.
First threshold: Phantasmal Force.
Second threshold: Hallucinatory Terrain
Third threshold: Feeblemind
Fourth threshold: Madness
Fifth threshold: Gate to Nightmare Dimension
Path of Terror
The Path of Terror studies a specific aspect of the Nightmare beings, their effect on the mind of normal beings. Due to their stronger connection with the Nightmare Dimension, Glaurants who follow this path have a 5% immunity to Normal magic.
First threshold: Cause Fear.
Second threshold: Fear
Third threshold: Death Spell (this version of the spell causes such an intense terror that the victims die of fright)
Fourth threshold: Power Word Stun (this version of the spell causes catatonia from fright)
Fifth threshold: Symbol of Fear
Path of the Shadowdeep
The Path of the Shadowdeep deals with the nature of the underground environment that houses the glaurant civilization. Glaurants who take this path are able to correctly estimate depth and direction when underground.
First threshold: Heat Metal.
Second threshold: Passwall
Third threshold: Wall of Stone
Fourth threshold: Rock
Fifth threshold: Steelform
Path of Shadows
The Path of Shadows studies magic related to shadows. Glaurants who take this path can Hide in Shadows like Thieves of ½ level.
First threshold: Obscure
Second threshold: Shadow Step (Dimension Door, works by stepping from one shadow to another)
Third threshold: Conjure Shadow (the summoned shadow has statistics identical to an air elemental)
Fourth threshold: Shadow Blade (Sword, the blade appears to be held by the character’s shadow and strikes from there)
Fifth threshold: Maze
Path of Blackflame
The Path of Blackflames studies the Nightmare equivalent of Fire magic. Glaurants who take this path resist fire (and blackflame) damage, reducing it by -1 per die.
First threshold: Faerie Fire
Second threshold: Blackflame Storm (as Ice Storm)
Third threshold: Conjure Blackflame Elemental (the summoned elemental has statistics identical to a fire elemental)
Fourth threshold: Delayed Blast Blackflame (as Delayed Blast Fireball)
Fifth threshold: Blackflame Cloud (as Explosive Cloud)
Servitors of Ubbeth, or hresha-rhak as they call themselves, are fish-like humanoids that dwell in the waters of the Shadowdeep, as well as in the deeper reaches of the Seas of Dawn. It is believed that they entered the Shadowdeep via waterways connecting the Sunless Sea with underwater caves in the Western Sea of Dawn. Hresha-rhak are typically connected with the cult of the Outer Being Ubbeth, Spawn of the Deep, but they are not of Outer origin themselves. Therefore, heretic hresha-rhak may be available as player characters. However, these seaborne beings cannot survive easily outside water, which makes their interactions with landlocked races limited.
Table: Hresha-rhak Character Class
2x1d4 or 2d4
Double damage from fire, cannot survive out of water, -1 penalty from moonlight
2x1d4+1 or 2d6
Survive 1d4 turns out of water
Survive 2d4 turns out of water
Survive 3d4 turns out of water
+1d4 turns out of water at level 12 and every 6 levels
Rock Men are stony humanoids with vaguely cone-shaped bodies. They can easily surprise unaware people by standing still and looking like rock formations, but dwarves and other dwellers of the depths are not as easily fooled. Rock men are typically warriors, although they can take Shaman or Wicca levels. Most Rock man Shamans worship Earth Elemental spirits, and Wiccas typically focus on Earth Elemental spells.
Rock men typically live in small clans, led by elder councils.
Table: Rock Man Character Class
Save as Dwarf, Infravision, Initiative penalty, Camouflage 1-2 on 1d6, ½ damage from fire
Camouflage 1-3 on 1d6, ¼ damage from fire
Camouflage 1-4 on 1d6, Immune to fire
-1 AC at level 10, and every 5 levels
+1d6 at level 12, and every 7 levels
Troglodytes are reptilian humanoids found throughout the Shadowdeep. Deep Hollow, however, is the only location in (or, more properly, under) Brun where they have a larger scale society. Typical troglodytes are primitive, tribal hunters who rely on their camouflage abilities to surprise their prey. Deep Hollow troglodytes are somewhat more advanced, due to continuous contact with other civilizations.
Troglodyte PCs often fill a role similar to that of Rangers or Thieves in human parties. Troglodytes can learn the Hide in Shadows and Move Silently abilities as a single General Skill. They progress in both as Thieves of the same level.
Table: Troglodyte Character Class
Camouflage 1-2 on 1d6
Camouflage 1-4 on 1d6, Stench
-1 ST vs stench
-2 ST vs stench
2x1d6/1d8 (progresses to 3x1d8 at level 15, 3x1d10 at level 25, 3x1d12 at level 35)
-1 ST vs stench at level 12 and every 6 levels
Races from other Sources
Several options for player characters for the Shadowdeep are available in existing sources. A list of the most relevant can be found in Table XX. The table also reports where each race can be found most commonly. These areas are well known as homelands of the race, and are suitable homelands for PCs as well.
Table: Shadowdeep PC Races
Shadow Elf Territories
GAZ14 The Shadow Elves
Forest of Spiders, Deep Hollow
Web of the Wizard-King in Dragon Magazine 183
Lower Broken Lands, Deep Hollow, Oenkmar
GAZ10 Orcs of Thar
Hobgobland, Jhyrrad, Oenkmar
GAZ10 Orcs of Thar
Kol, Falun Caves
GAZ10 Orcs of Thar
GAZ10 Orcs of Thar
Western Orclands, Yellow Orkia, Red Orclands, Orcus Rex, Black Mountains, Oenkmar
GAZ10 Orcs of Thar
Ogremoor, Black Mountains
GAZ10 Orcs of Thar
Trollhattan, Troll tunnels under Soderfjord
GAZ10 Orcs of Thar
Graakhalia, South Gnollistan, Gnollheim, Oenkmar
GAZ10 Orcs of Thar
Lupin, Cimarron Hairless
In the eyes of the cat in Dragon Magazine 181 and Lupins of Mystara in Dragon Magazine 237
Underyord, Highforge, Deep Hollow
PC2 Top Ballista
No communities, individually everywhere
PC2 Top Ballista
PC4 Night Howlers
PC3 The Sea People
Sidebar: Aranea Options
In BECMI, Aranea have only the option of being Magic Users. However, in AD&D Savage Coast, they can also be Fighters, Clerics, Druids and Thieves, with level limits and several multiclass options. Thus, it is reasonable to allow at least Aranea Clerics and Druids. The simplest option is to use the Aranea class as is, but allow the character to use Cleric or Druid spell lists instead of the Magic User spell list. An alternate option is to apply the rules for the Aranea (XP penalty and special powers) to classes other than the Magic User, although game balance could be affected since the HP and attack table would be beneficial in spider form as well.
History of Deep Hollow
Formation: The Old Carnifex
BC 9000: The old carnifex are exiled to the Pits of Banishment, a pocket dimension prison plane. One of the “seals” of this prison plane is hidden within the Shadowdeep, in a place that will one day become known as Deep Hollow. The carnifex of Y’hog escape the imprisonment, and form a powerful civilization that expands from Y’hog to cover a large portion of the world.
The Carnifex Era and the Lhomarrian Fortress
BC 7900 - 7024: The expansion of the carnifex of Y'hog brings them in contact with the human civilization of Lhomarr. Lhomarr and Y’hog war upon each other for centuries.
BC 7200: Desperate to find a weapon that will destroy Lhomarr completely, the carnifex of Y'hog search for artefacts left by their now banished ancestors, the old carnifex. The Lhomarrians become aware of their plans and seek to thwart them.
BC 7190: Aware that the carnifex of Y'hog have a lead on powerful magic located in the Shadowdeep, the Lhomarrians quickly mount an expedition to claim the site. They arrive before the carnifex can secure the location, and establish a fortress, Fort Vigilance, to protect the underground site.
BC 7022: Lhomarr is destroyed through the machinations of the Outer Beings, and its remnants removed to the Hollow World. Fort Vigilance survives, as its last guardians choose to become undead through the mummification procedure, standing forever guard against the carnifex.
BC 7020 - 6920: In retaliation for the destruction of Lhomarr, the Immortals bind the carnifex of Y'hog to their lands and slowly sink it beneath the sea. The Age of the Carnifex comes to an end.
With the destruction of both Lhomarr and Y’hog, Fort Vigilance and the seal it guards go dark a millennium. The entrances to the cavern -- at least the ones being used by the warring factions -- are closed off by the High Priest of Ixion. However the cavern and its secrets will not remain hidden forever.
BC 5500: The red dragon Yealaletherveri fights the final battle near the North Pole (at the time located near the Altan Tepes) against Iscranin, the greatest of the annelids, and kills it. Before crashing into Yealaletherveri’s lair, Iscranin passes through the cavern that will become Deep Hollow, creating a new entrance to it from the upper regions of the Shadowdeep.
First Migration: The Rock Men
BC 3000: Rock men fleeing the destruction of the Great Rain of Fire, delve down beneath the Dawn Territories in order to preserve their culture. Their brethren on the surface, though not destroyed outright, slowly begin to change both physically and socially forming several new cultures including that of the stone folk.
BC 2600: A group of Rock men travels deep underground through the Sunless Sea and all the way below Nithia, emerging in Deep Hollow. They settle on the slopes of the island in the middle of Lake Tzel, but leave Fort Vigilance undisturbed.
Second Migration: The Fall of Mogreth and Goblin Hordes
BC 2000: The Second Empire of Mogreth is destroyed. Troglodytes flee underground, and reach Deep Hollow, where they are employed by the rock men as servants.
BC 1700: A local cataclysm rakes the Broken Lands and buries the Great Horde. King Loark dies, and his horde breaks apart. Goblin clans flee underground and wander the depths until they find the Shadowdeep cavern of Deep Hollow, which they name Kongdoy.
BC 1500: Modrigswerg explorers and merchants discover Deep Hollow, and start buying gems from the rock men.
BC 1300: The M’kar (or Makers), a small but advanced civilization fleeing destruction at the hands of the kara kara, delves into the unknown depths below their island home of Teki Nuri Ria. They emerge into a large cavern and discover ancient ruins. Plumbing the magical secrets within, they are able to transform themselves into shadows.
Third Migration: Werebats and Aranea
BC 912: The Second Rising of the Hin. Loktal defeats orcs at Brokenfang Falls and rushes north to repel gnoll invaders, but is too weak to withstand a hin revolt. Halflings found the realm of Shaerdon, ruled by a Council of hin clan Lords. A clan of goblins is displaced by the fleeing orcs, and delves down under the Altan Tepes to Deep Hollow, bringing with it the curse of lycanthropy, which had been lingering among them since the times of Taymor.
BC 900: Aranea arrive on the island of Teki Nuri Ria, in search of magical artefacts, and are able to follow the trail of the M’kar deep into the earth. They do battle with the shadowy creatures that the M’kar have become, coveting the magical knowledge the shadows possess.
BC 800: Aranean magic finally obliterates the shadows and the spider folk lay claim to the Lhomarrian ruins for themselves. The shadows, and their city of Maskelyne are moved to the Hollow World.
BC 799: Attempting to claim the ruins, the aranea instead wake the Lhomarrian dead that have been interred there. The undead route the spiders, driving them from Fort Vigilance.
BC 750: The aranea cut off all ties with the surface world, magically closing the passageways to the Lhomarrian ruins so that none from the surface can follow in their footsteps. They build the Silken City in stalactites above the ruins and begin plotting ways to overcome its undead defenders.
Fourth Migration: The Travellers
AC 490: Large kobold clans are driven into Soderfjord from the west, fleeing the armies of Rockhome. The gnomes of the Falun caverns are greatly outnumbered by the more prolific kobolds. The few gnome survivors flee south and west through the Shadowdeep with the help of dwarven exiles from Rockhome. Within the next two centuries, they form a new nomadic culture, the Travellers.
AC 700: The Travellers discover Deep Hollow, and establish the Caravansary.
AC 800: Shadow elf explorers stumble upon Deep Hollow. The encounter is initially hostile, and the elves retreat.
AC 900: The great glaurants establish a trade route to Deep Hollow, and send an ambassador there.
AC 950: The shadow elf government attempts a less aggressive approach after news of the glaurant embassy reach the ears of the King. A shadow elf embassy is established near the Caravansary.
AC 999: Nagpa archaeologists establish a working camp near Fort Vigilance. They claim their interest is merely in learning about the culture that created the ruins, although the truth is that they are researching carnifex magic as a way to escape their curse.
People of Deep Hollow
Deep Hollow is a multiracial community, with a large goblin and troglodyte population supplemented by smaller groups of rock men, dwarves and gnomes, aranea, and other humanoids. The city has an overall population of circa 32,000 people.
Table: Population of Deep Hollow
Traveller Dwarves and Gnomes
Merchants, Prospectors, Tinkers
House of Tattered Silks
(no social roles)
Ruins of Fort Vigilance
5 + servants
Shadow Elf Embassy
The main languages spoken in Deep Hollow are Dwarvish (Denwarf), Goblin (Gos-til) and Aranea (Akavishi). Denwarf is only spoken by the Travellers among themselves, although it is not exactly secret, so several words have filtered into the other languages. Gos-til is the language of commoners, spoken by goblins, but also troglodytes and most rock men. Rock men also have their own language, but it is composed of low, rumbling sounds that are not easily reproduced by others. Akavishi is the language of bureaucracy and the upper classes. Speaking Akavishi rather than Gos-til is an affectation adopted by many werebats, in particular.
The aranea, or Akavish in their own language, are the aristocracy of Deep Hollow. This particular group of aranea came to Deep Hollow following the M’Kar from Teki-Nura-Ria through the tunnels of Iscranin’s Path. They defeated the shadows, and established themselves in Deep Hollow, where they waltz around the Lhomarrian undead in an attempt to gain even more magical power. The Akavish, like the Herathians, are shapechangers, but generally take the form of shadow elves, cimarron hairless lupins, goblins, or gnomes.
They are able to use wizardly magic, although most Akavish can only use first or second level spells. Those who reach level 4 must enrol in the Kesheph Migdal, the Tower of Magic, for further training. From a spiritual point of view, the Akavish follow the teachings of Yehm (Korotiku), Enebaan (Masauwu) and Negyavim (Iliric), as well as Aphrah (Terra).
Goblins (Gos in their own language) compose a large part of the commoner population of Deep Hollow. They have a long history in the city, as the first goblins arrived here after the defeat of King Loark. More goblins, originally part of Wogar’s migration, reached Deep Hollow after Loktal Ironshield’s dwarves defeated the orcs of the western Cruth mountains. They carried a strain of werebat lycanthropy from the Taymoran lands, which helped them navigate the tunnels of the Shadowdeep. Culturally, the goblins had a major impact, and Gos-til, their language, is the most commonly spoken tongue in Deep Hollow (which they originally called Kongdoy, although the dwarven name, Dulwyr, is actually more popular even with native Gos-til speakers).
Nowadays, goblins in the city are mostly employed as miners, as well as fungus farmers, servants, and other lower-class occupations. Most goblins, in particular farmers and miners, are followers of Yamag (Terra), although Wogar is also popular among warriors and hunters.
Werebats are the elite of the goblins. Their main occupation is as hunters, couriers, and messengers in the service of the Deep Hollow military. Also, they command the admiration and fealty of lesser goblin clans.
Few other goblinoids are present in Deep Hollow, typically as mercenaries in the service of foreign merchants, visiting dignitaries, or paranoid local nobles.
The Servitors of Ubbeth are a threat to all other inhabitants of Deep Hollow. From their lairs in the depths of Lake Tzel, they strike against fishermen and coastal travellers, and occasionally mount raids against the district of Dripstone or the Caravansary. For this reason, the ferry is heavily protected with magic and military forces, and a werebat strike force is always ready to rapidly respond to such attacks.
Hresha-rhak are usually cultists of Ubbeth, and are led by higher ranking cultists, called Xaresha-rhak. These leaders have the special powers of Servants of the Outer Beings2. They speak a corrupted and simplified version of the Carnifex language. Due to their carnifex and Outer Being taint, they attract the enmity of the Lhomarr undead.
Rock men are a common sight in Deep Hollow, where they mostly work as miners or craftsmen. Called Hruken (granite people) in the dwarven language and Aska-el in Gos-til, the Rock men are a force for stability in the city, forming a middle-class of sorts between the aranea and werebat aristocracy and the goblin and troglodyte commoners.
Rock men follow the teachings of the shamans of Yamag, but honour also Kagyar and Garal Glitterlode.
Travellers can be found almost everywhere in the Shadowdeep, trading and tinkering in underground cities and villages. However, in Deep Hollow they are more than an occasional presence: the Caravansary holds an entire community of these dwarves and gnomes, and serves as the main centre of their culture. All Travellers eventually return to the Caravansary, although they may stay away for years. In fact, the Caravansary appears to be the only place where Travellers sojourn for any significant time. Thus, the population of the Caravansary changes almost continuously, with few Travellers remaining there for more than a few consecutive years, leaving for their underground travels and being replaced in their work positions by others willing to stop from travelling for a few years.
The Travellers of Deep Hollow are organized in guilds, which manage the schedule of travelling troupes and caravans. The guilds are those of Tinkers, Teamsters, Mercers, Fighters, Ferroners3, and Masons. Every Traveller caravan is led by a Master, and composed of the Master’s apprentice(s) and a group of journeymen, usually drawn from different guilds. Thus, a Master Mercer’s or Teamster’s caravan would focus on trade, but will also include journeyman Fighters for protection, and at least a Tinker or Mason for repairs. On the other hand, a Ferroner’s or Fighter’s caravan might look more like a prospector team, and a Tinker’s caravan looks almost like a gypsy carnival.
Travellers are quite reserved, like most dwarves, in matters of religion. They do follow the teachings of Garal Glitterlode, Kagyar, and Gorden (Terra), but little more is known, and Traveller priests are indistinguishable from other members of their society. A few Travellers develop magic user abilities4, although few of them join the Kesheph Migdal.
Troglodytes are the proletariat of Deep Hollow. They are more primitive than even the goblins, live in crowded warrens, and work mostly in the mines as hurriers (rather than the better paying, guild-protected pickman jobs, which are usually taken by goblins and rock men), or as fishermen and fungus farmers. Troglodytes are little organized, although fishing and farming communities recognize a raish, a chief or elder, among them.
The Lhomarrian undead are an eerie presence in Deep Hollow. They never leave their fortress, and do not interact with the other inhabitants except to repel any attack on the ruins. They appear to have a preternatural knowledge of such attacks, as they have never been surprised in the long recorded history of the city. The undead react with immediate violence to hresha-rhak attacks, but also to any troglodyte interloper. They generally warn any other intruder first, giving them time to leave before attacking. However, foreigners may not understand the language spoken by the Lhomarrians, leading to unfortunate casualties. The Kephesh Migdal has transcripts of the warnings most commonly issued by the undead, so local wizards and sages who research the ruins are able to understand them and leave before things turn ugly.
Embassies, visitors, and guests
While Deep Hollow is fairly distant from other Shadowdeep, it does maintain trade relations with the main powers of the underground by means of the Travellers. Thus, both the shadow elves and the great glaurants have established permanent delegations in the city. Both are housed in fortified compounds near the Caravansary. Other visitors include the moulder dwarves and some nagpas.
The shadow elf kingdom maintains a small presence in Deep Hollow. This embassy is manned by Shamans and Second Shadow agents who spend most of their time trying to pry into the secrets of the Kephesh Migdal rather than pursuing trade agreements. The Deep Hollow ruling council is aware of the interference, but avoids angering the militarily more powerful shadow elves, which they plan to use to counterbalance the great glaurant expansionism.
The glaurant delegation is large and well organized. The glaurants appear to be heavily interested in trading outer world goods for their mineral products from deep under the Altan Tepes. However, they constantly attempt to get a greater foothold in Deep Hollow. For the moment, the council has managed to keep them out of the city proper, limiting their holdings to a compound on the shores of Lake Tzel.
A group of five nagpas, led by Allu (Nagpa 10, C), has set a temporary camp in the last month near the ruins of Fort Vigilance. The nagpas are, as usual, researching new magics that may release them from their cursed condition. Due to the Immortal-level magics involved in the curse, mortal magic is not sufficient to undo it, and the nagpas are trying to find stronger sources of power. Inevitably, this is going to bring them to the Outer Beings and carnifex lore, an event which would bring the wrath of the undead guardians of Fort Vigilance upon their heads.
There is a small but thriving community of moulder dwarves, mostly settled in the lower reaches of Dripstone, above the Masaph but lower than the Acropolis. Moulder dwarf craftsmen cater to the needs of the enchanters of the Kephesh Migdal, at a great profit to their own pockets. Deep Hollow moulder dwarves are every bit as eccentric as their Northern Reaches relatives, and only marginally more sociable.
Atlas of Deep Hollow
Deep Hollow is built in and on a pair of gigantic stalactite and stalagmite forming an island in Lake Tzel, somewhat more than 1,000 ft under the surface. Deep Hollow stands below the western reaches of the Emirate of Makistan, near the Rockhome and Darokin borders. The Lake is fed by water filtered down from the underground banks of River Nithia, and in turn its overflow waters flow through deep underground rivers towards the Sunless Sea under the Western Sea of Dawn. The Lake is also known as Glomur in Dwarven and as Song-kol in Gos-til. Both names mean simply “big lake” or “sea” in the respective language, whereas the Akavishi name “Tzel” refers at the same time to “shadows” and “protection”.
Map of Deep Hollow
House of Tattered Silks
The upper portion of the stalactite that hangs over Deep Hollow was abandoned by the aranea when trade with Dripstone made it impractical to use it, and later taken over by goblin werebats. The original tapestry of silks that covered many areas of the stalactite is reduced to tatters, giving the name to the quarter. The werebats live in caves dug into the stalactite, and adapted to flying inhabitants. In particular, the entrances are typically unreachable without flying, or at least taking a long and dangerous climb along the outer walls of the stalactite.
Meshiir, the Silk City
The lower portion of the stalactite is a scintillating city of silk webs. Cocoons connected by silk ropes hang from the stalactite, providing lodgings to many aranea. The area and its buildings can be reached via cables and elevators which are lowered when necessary. Otherwise, flying is necessary to reach it from Dripstone.
The stalagmite portion of Deep Hollow is also the most densely populated area. Rock men, goblins, and troglodytes inhabit the quarter, both in stone buildings constructed on the slopes of the stalagmite, and in warrens dug into it.
On the tip of Dripstone are located the government buildings, including the Chtot Zhal (City Hall) and the Kesheph Migdal (Tower of Magic), carved in the very tip of the stalagmite. The Beith Yehm (House of Korotiku, the main Aranea temple) and the Mezt Yamag (Temple of Terra, mostly frequented by goblins and rock men) are the main temples, located immediately below the City Hall. The trade guilds and other administrative and religious buildings occupy the lower parts of this area.
The Masaph and Fort Vigilance
On the shore near to the mainland is found the Masaph, the terminus of the ferry leading to the shores of Lake Tzel. On the opposite side of the island, the enigmatic ruins of a fortress guard passages locked by magical sigils. Undead humans from ancient Lhomarr occupy the ruins, mostly avoiding the living as long as they are not disturbed. Near the ruins is a small encampment, currently occupied by a group of nagpa archaeologists and their retainers and assistants.
Deep under Dripstone, the goblins and rock men have excavated great mines, searching for precious stones and metals. They steer clear of the ruins, as the Lhomarr fortress entirely surrounds it, even underground, and the undead are unceasingly vigilant.
The Shores of Lake Tzel
The nearest mainland area to Deep Hollow proper includes the Caravansary of the Travellers, the ferry house, a small village of troglodyte fishermen and goblin fungus farmers, and two walled compounds which house the glaurant and shadow elven embassies to Deep Hollow. Circa 1,400 people of assorted races (mostly dwarves and gnomes) live in the area. Large fungus farms surround the area.
Belfagar, the Caravansary
The Caravansary is the focal point of the Traveller culture. It is a walled court that protects a multitude of stables, taverns, inns, trading establishments, tinker shops, and warehouses, both dug into the rock and built within the court itself. It is located on the shores of Lake Tzel, near the ferry that leads to Dripstone and the road to Cynidicea.
The Caravansary is known as Kerben in Gos-til and as Rohesh in Akavishi, but Belfagar, the Denwarf name meaning “The Noisy House”, is mostly used. The majority of the 1,000 Traveller dwarves and gnomes reside within the Caravansary itself, in small tower-like houses built along the walls, or in complexes excavated below it.
The Depths of Lake Tzel
The depths of Lake Tzel are the domain of the hresha-rhak. The Servitors of Ubbeth have an unknown number of underwater villages and forts, from which they raid the surface. They have repeatedly attempted to invade Dripstone, but for mysterious reasons they always attack from the far side, and each time the Lhomarrian undead have swarmed forth and repelled the hresha-rhak with a combination of weapons and magic.
Government and Administration
The government of Deep Hollow is managed by a council composed of the Grand Magus, the High Priest of Yehm, the Chief Shaman of Terra, the Foreman of the Mines, the Master of the Caravansary, and the Herald of Arms. Due to ingrained customs, both racial and social, the Grand Magus and the High Priest of Yehm are always aranea, the Master of the Caravansary is a Traveller (and is generally called with the dwarven title, Rakdar), the Chief Shaman of Terra and the Foreman are rock men or goblins, and the Herald of Arms is a goblin werebat. This leaves the troglodytes without representation in the government, a fact that is recurrent source of social unrest in the city, as the troglodytes make up more than 30% of the population.
Of the main officers, the Grand Magus is selected by the Kesheph Migdal, which serves as the magicians’ guild and school of magic. The priests are selected by their own clerical hierarchies, and the Master of the Caravansary is the clan head of the Larodar clan (usually but not necessarily the male clan head). The Foreman is elected by the members of the Birik, the miners’ guild, among the senior members. The Herald of Arms is a hereditary charge, transmitted by the previous holder to one of his children, or to another werebat infected by him.
The council selects the lower officers, who are the ones actually in charge of the day-to-day running of Deep Hollow and its administration. The Rosh, or provost, is the head of the administration, and it is usually chosen among the foreigners, to avoid infighting among the city factions. Since neither glaurants nor shadow elves are much trusted, the Rosh is often a moulder dwarf, or a member of another, less common, race, such as the Cimarron Hairless lupins or the orcs. The current Rosh is Aranrhod ferch Rhyfedd (Rogue Sidhe 16, CN), a lady of the Sidhe court of Annwn. She’s a rather erratic administrator, but is tolerated by all factions because she does not seem to favour too much the aranea. Kelevyam (Aranea Magic User 6, LN), the Chotemsar (keeper of the seals), is the next most important lower officer, and spends most of its time curbing the inefficiencies of Aranrhod’s administration, as well as providing favours for the aranea. Durrast (Rock Man 8, LN) is the Meltzar, in charge of the maintenance of city buildings and mines. Finally, the Matzbi (marshal) Talag (Goblin 14, NE) leads the city watch.
Who's Who in Deep Hollow
Ma’atzamat, Grand Maga
Aranea 30, CN
Str 8, Int 18, Wis 15, Dex 12, Con 9, Cha 15
AC 1, HD 9d4+21, HP 45.
Attacks: 1 staff 1d8+5 or by spell
General skills: Languages (Akavishi, Dwarven 18, Gos-til 18, Shadow Elven 18), Law and Justice (Deep Hollow) 15, Detect Deception 15, Leadership 17, Planar Geography 18, History of Deep Hollow 18, Magical Engineering 18, Read/Write (Akavishi) 18, Acting 18.
Weapon Masteries: Staff (Master), Dagger (Skilled).
Special abilities: Magic User spells (as MU30), spider form. Permanent Shield spell.
Equipment: Staff of Wizardry, Dagger +2, Elven Cloak and Boots (of Shadow Elf making), Ring of Protection +4, Ring of Safety. The Grand Maga has access to a large selection of potions, scrolls, and other magic items.
The Grand Maga, Ma’atzamat has the humanoid form of a beautiful shadow elf woman, which she highlights by wearing appropriate clothing, such as elven cloak and boots, and speaking a perfectly accented shadow elven language. This has been quite a shock for the shadow elf ambassador, since the similarities end there -- psychologically, she appears completely alien to the shadow elf mind, which have been shaped by millennia of isolation in a strict, lawful society where the good of the collective is put over that of the individual, and the value of tradition is paramount. On the contrary, the Grand Maga is inquisitive, outgoing, and demonstrates an abrasive wit that is only partially offset by her physical beauty.
Regardless, she is a competent leader, able to bring together powerful mages to cooperate for the defence of Deep Hollow and the advancement of the Kesheph Migdal -- two goals that she must finely balance. As the primus inter pares of the city council, she is the nominal head-of-state of Deep Hollow, although she leaves entirely the administration to the Rosh and her functionaries. In the council, she is mostly a voice for progress, and is generally supported by the Rakdar, Lhyred Farwalker of the Larodar (male Dwarf 12/F, NG) and the Foreman of the Mines Komur (female Goblin 13, TN), both of whom favour trade with neighbouring nations and economic development over secrecy.
Ma’atzamat is definitely curious about what lies beyond the seals of Fort Vigilance, but is wise enough to understand the danger of messing with the powerful undead that guard it. However, she’s not unlikely to let innocuous enough adventurers -- such as the nagpas -- try the defences of the Fort, in the hope of discovering something useful from their inevitable demise.
Galach, High Priest of Yehm
Aranea Cleric of Korotiku 17, CN
Str 9, Int 15, Wis 17, Dex 13, Con 10, Cha 16
AC 2, HD 9d6+8, HP 27.
Attacks: 1 staff 1d8+4 or by spell
General skills: Languages (Akavishi, Dwarven 15, Gos-til 15), Religion (Yehm) 15, Detect Deception 17, Read/Write (Akavishi) 15, Acting 18.
Weapon Masteries: Staff (Expert), Sling (Basic).
Special abilities: Cleric spells (as C17), spider form, Hide in Shadows as T17.
Equipment: Leather armour +2, Staff of Watching +3, Ring of Protection +2, Ring of Holiness. The High Priest has access to a large selection of potions, scrolls, and other magic items.
Galach is the High Priest of the Temple of Yehm, the most prestigious religious institution in Deep Hollow. Galach looks like a Cimarron Hairless lupin while in humanoid form, but his true shape is that of a huge spider. He uses his true form only while in the Silk City of Meshiir, and switches to his humanoid form when in Dripstone. A powerful priest, Galach is also a personally charismatic individual, although not much of a leader, both due to personal inclinations and philosophical reasons. In politics, he generally favours the aranea, but not overly so, sometimes holding unorthodox positions or unexpectedly switching sides during the discussion of a bill or decree. He is also much younger than the other members of the council, with the exception of the Herald of Arms, Tarizinde (female Goblin 9/Werebat 9, CG), who is also is closest ally.
Hrumdor, Chief Shaman of Yamag
Rock Man 20/Shaman of Yamag 20, LN
Str 16, Int 13, Wis 18, Dex 8, Con 15, Cha 17
AC -3, HD 9d8+31, HP 70.
Attacks: 1 fist 4d6+2 or by spell
General skills: Languages (Rock Man, Dwarven 13, Akavishi 13, Gos-til 13), Religion (Terra) 18, Law and Justice (Deep Hollow) 18, Detect Deception 18, Leadership 17, Planar Geography 13, Profession (Jeweller) 13, Profession (Administrator) 13.
Weapon Masteries: none.
Special abilities: Camouflage, Immune to Fire, Shaman spells.
Equipment: Holy symbol of Yamag, Stone of Controlling Earth Elementals, Talisman of Earth Elemental Travel, Nail of Pointing.
Hrumdor is an ancient rock man, and a powerful priest of Yamag. As such, he acts as the main representative of his species in the government of Deep Hollow, since the current Foreman of the Mines is a goblin. He is also the head of the largest religious congregation of the city, as the followers of Yehm are found mostly among the werebats and aranea, whereas the cult of Yamag is popular among the lower classes.
Hrumdor is a wise, if conservative, leader, who insists on painstaking verification and assessment of intelligence before committing to any decision. As such, he is often seen as indecisive by his colleagues in the city council. He is difficult to distinguish from other rock men, unless he wears the paraments of the Chief Shaman of Yamag, a massive string of prayer beads made of a hundred different types of rocks and semiprecious stones.
Bal-kas, Troglodyte Raish
Troglodyte 7/Shaman of Yamag 2, TN
Str 11, Int 12, Wis 16, Dex 13, Con 16, Cha 14
AC 5, HD 7d8+14, HP 45.
Attacks: claw/claw/byte 1d6/1d6/1d6, trident 1d8+1, or by spell.
General skills: Languages (Gos-til, Akavishi 12), Profession (Fisherman) 12, Law and Justice (Deep Hollow) 16, Blind Fighting 13, Detect Deception 16.
Weapon Masteries: Trident (skilled), Net (Basic).
Special abilities: Camouflage, Stench -2 ST, Shaman spells.
Equipment: Trident, holy symbol of Yamag.
Bal-kas is an old troglodyte fishing crew leader, or “raish”. A canny hunter, he has survived many battles with the hresha-rhak, which he hates with a passion. The troglodyte fishermen look up to Bal-kas for guidance and leadership, and the old raish is the one who makes the prices and orders the nets cast and collected. He is therefore also the main negotiator between the troglodytes and the other races of Deep Hollow. He is a shrewd individual, and wise enough to understand the need to remain on good terms with the aranea, goblins, and Travellers.
Bal-kas looks like a spindly, bent troglodyte, dressed in a long, ragged kilt bound at the waist with a wide leather belt. A holy symbol of Yamag hangs from his neck, together with a string of weird fetishes (dried fish bones, bat skulls, shells, and even a couple of feathers from the world above. He wields a trident decorated with more fetishes, which also doubles as his gri-gri.
Thassantis, Undead Lhomarrian Crusader General
Ancient Dead 32/Priest of Xeron (Ixion) 32, LN
Str 14, Int 13, Wis 18, Dex 10, Con -, Cha 16
AC -3 (requires magical weapons to hit), HD 11d8+50, HP 100.
Attacks: 1 touch 2d12 + disease or 1 warhammer 1d8+12 vs H, 1d6+12 vs M, or by spell.
General skills: Languages (Lhomarrian, Carnifex 13, Orimul 13), Religion (Lhomarr) 18, Outer Being Lore 1, Law and Justice(Lhomarr) 18, Leadership 16, Ancient History 13, Detect Deception 18, Danger Sense 18, Reading/Writing (Lhomarrian) 13.
Weapon Masteries: Warhammer (Grand Master), Staff (Expert).
Special abilities: Produce fire, half damage from fire, spells and magic weapons, immune to normal weapons, Fear at -8 ST, Disease, Salient Abilities (Retained Class Abilities, Magic Resistance 95%, Undead Liege, Elemental Command 5 levels). Spellcasting as a 32 level Cleric of Ixion.
Equipment: Intelligent Warhammer +4 + 6 vs Carnifex, Int 8, Ego 8, Lawful, Detect Evil, See Invisible; Bronze Shield +2.
A High Priest of Ixion as well as a veteran commander of the Carnifex wars, Thassantis was put in charge of defending Fort Vigilance, the last of a long line of such high officers. When all contacts with the Lhomarrian mainland failed, Thassantis was left with no hope for reinforcements or replacements. Bound to duty, he volunteered for being mummified, to remain as an undead guardian. His underlings chose to follow him to the last man.
Thassantis is obsessed by his duty. He spends most of his time renewing the magical defences of Fort Vigilance, repairing damaged members of his army, and plotting new defence strategies against what he believes is the inevitable showdown with the carnifex or their successors. The presence of the hresha-rhak and the Troglodytes bothers him, although he cannot truly place the source of his constant worry -- neither race is truly carnifex, but both bear some level of carnifex “mark” which the Lhomarrian undead perceive at a subconscious level.
Thassantis appears as a desiccated corpse of average human height, dressed in bronze armour and ancient linens. His empty ocular orbs have been set with fire opals, which shine in the dark.
Male Hresha-rhak 12, CE
Str 14, Int 15, Wis 10, Dex 16, Con 14, Cha 16
AC 6, HD 8d8+13, HP 52.
Attacks: 1 marh-vol spear at +3, damage 2d4+5
General skills: Survival 10, Languages (Hresha-rhak native, Carnifex 15, Gos-til 15), Hunting 15, Outer Being Lore 4, Honour (Outer Being) 10, Leadership 16.
Weapon Masteries: Javelin (Expert), Spear (Expert).
Special abilities: Can survive 4d4 turns outside water. Cause Fear and Shield once/day.
Special vulnerabilities: affected by evilbane essence and holy water.
Equipment: marh-vhol spear (+2).
Zhol-dhokh is the leader of the hresha-rhak, evil fish-men who dwell in the depths of Lake Tzel. A servant of the Outer Beings, he constantly plots new attacks against Fort Vigilance. The hresha-rhak chief may offer to help parties attempting to breach the defenses of the Lhomarrians, although his “help” will hardly prove useful. He can, however, provide a very limited amount of marh-vhol, the magical metal of the Outer Beings.
Monsters and Beasts
Fungi and moulds are pretty common in the damp areas around Deep Hollow. Most of these are innocuous or even useful -- either edible or having some medicinal property. However, poisonous fungi are equally common, and the inexperienced adventurer needs to roll on half Wisdom to identify the correct fungi to eat. Natives roll on full Wisdom instead, and characters with the Survival (underground) skill can roll on it instead.
Besides, a few more dangerous species also exist, including Yellow Mould and Shriekers.
Giant beetles (fire and oil), carrion crawlers, gelatinous cubes, and giant centipedes are all common threats in the wildernesses of the Shadowdeep. Rare, but more dangerous, are the black pudding and ochre jelly.
Other threats include rhagodessae, cave toads and sporacles, all of which fish in Lake Tzel; rust monsters and basilisks, which are sometimes found in abandoned mines; and giant crab spiders, common in the fungus forests.
Undead of carnifex origin in Deep Hollow are evil, undead spirits. They can be build using the Uncorporeal character class from Threshold Issue 13, but the typical specimen has powers similar to those of spectres, except that its appearance is even less humanoid and resembles instead a distorted lizardman or other reptilian being.
More powerful entities may have additional salient abilities, but not “Pristine appearance”, “Makai ancestor spirit form”, “Animate Plant” or “Poltergeist”.
Lizardkin undead are either Ancient Dead, using the character class from Threshold Issue 13, or animated corpses (skeletons and zombies). The former often exhibit the “Undead Liege” and “Curse” salient abilities.
The undead of Fort Vigilance are, invariably, ancient dead. Mere soldiers have little powers, beyond their supernatural durability and vigilance, but officers are extremely powerful both in combat and magic.
Using the Ancient Dead character class from Threshold Issue 13, the typical soldier is Normal Monster mummy. Elite soldiers are typically level 4 Ancient Dead, and have the abilities of Fighters or Clerics as per the “Retained Class Ability” salient power.
Officers are all at least level 9, and have other salient powers in addition to retaining their class abilities. Most are Patriarchs of Ixion.
B4 The Lost City by Tom Moldvay (TSR 9049), 1982.
GAZ6 The Dwarves of Rockhome by Aaron Allston (TSR 9227), 1988.
GAZ7 The Northern Reaches by Ken Rolston (TSR 9230), 1988.
GAZ8 The Five Shires by Ed Greenwood (TSR 9232), 1988.
GAZ10 The Orcs of Thar by Bruce Heard (TSR 9241), 1988.
PC1 Tall Tales of the Wee Folk by John Nephew (TSR 9254), 1989.
Web of the Wizard-King by Bruce Heard, Dragon Magazine 183.
Creature Catalog by John Nephew (TSR 9438), 1993.
Servitors of Ubbeth by Geoff Gander, http://www.pandius.com/ubbeth.html.
Blackflame, Halflings and Glaurants by Andrew Theisen, http://pandius.com/blkflame.html.
Once in a Blue Moon by John Calvin, Threshold Issue 2, 2013.
Undead of Elegy Island by Giampaolo Agosta, Threshold Issue 13, 2016.
1As the reverse of the Light spell, cast at the character’s level.
3This guild collects ironmongers and other metalworkers.
4These are Traveller who favour their Gnomish heritage. Just like Gnomes, they can become Wicca up to level 12.