Deep into the Underdark.
Geographical information
Type Region
Capital None[1]
Area Faerûn, Toril[2]
Societal information
Races Aboleth, cloaker, drow, duergar, illithid, quaggoth, svirfneblin[1]
Religion Drow pantheon, Deep Duerra, others
Imports Armor, food, slaves, timber, weapons[1]
Exports Armor, exotic goods, magic, weapons[1]
Political information
Government City-states (autocracy, magocracy, matriarchy, monarchy, theocracy)[1]

Inhabitants of the Underdark
Locations in the Underdark
Organizations in the Underdark
Settlements in the Underdark
Events in the Underdark
Food and drink in the Underdark
Items from the Underdark

The Underdark was the vast network of underground caverns and tunnels underneath the surface of Abeir-Toril.[3] It was home to a host of evil beings driven deep into the caverns at the end of the age of demons.


World Above 
The surface area of Toril. The name those who live in the Underdark give the surface.[4]
The first three miles below the surface. It was here where the surface dwellers and those in the Underdark most often met.[4]
Located three to ten miles below the surface, this layer was where most of the Underdark cities were located.[4]
Ten miles or more below the surface, the Lowerdark was where even those who knew the Underdark loath to go.[4]


The Underdark was not one giant cavern under Faerûn, but rather, many giant networks of caverns and caves. As a result, it was not always possible to travel from one end of the Underdark to the other. The Underdark was divided into several domains that were similar to continents of the world above. While it was possible to travel from one place to another within a domain, separate domains tended to have very few passages linking them. The major domains of the Underdark were the Buried Realms, the Darklands, the Deep Wastes, the Earthroot, the Glimmersea, Great Bhaerynden, the Northdark and Old Shanatar.


The Underdark's underground landscape varied from small subterranean fissures almost impossible for adventurers to crawl through to wide expanses of deep water that hid coral caves, hollowed out sections of ice in which creatures lived, and places where fungus, bones, or even pure force formed "caves."

This varied landscape was as dynamic as the surface of Abeir-Toril. Some areas were everchanging over the course of time by underground magma rivers or the emptying of underground lakes due to cracks in the rock formed by earthquakes. This meant maps of the Underdark were highly unreliable.


The Underdark's environment varied vastly from the surface world, making adventuring through it a dangerous expedition. Just like trekking through a desert, adventurers traversing the Underdark's passages needed to be well prepared.

The Underdark was mainly without any source of light save for the occasional luminous rocks or fungi. Large portions of it were also without food or water, making well-stocked food supplies a must-have when exploring uncharted terrain underground.

Lack of light combined with a tomb-like silence made traveling something only for the strong-hearted. The nerve-wracking silence made even experienced adventurers grew agitated after a few days.

Just like deep dungeons, the air could grow stale and even poisonous in the Underdark. It could contain explosive gases from underground volcanic activity or other deadly gases bubbling out of deep fissures in the rock. Bad air and poisonous fumes could collect in portions of tunnels and caves more or less isolated from the main vaults and caverns. Siphon-like tunnels holding water can also trap these gases for a long time.


The temperature underground varied according to depth and the proximity of thermic activities in the area. Throughout the year the temperature remained stable and moderate in most regions, usually slightly clammy or chilly. The water underground was extremely cold and posed a hypothermia risk.[citation needed]


The Underdark was extremely dangerous, especially to those not native to it. There were the usual dangers associated with caverns: claustrophobia, occasional poor air circulation, and getting lost. There was no light except for occasional patches of fluorescent fungi; most Underdark inhabitants either have highly developed senses other than sight or have developed darkvision. Food could be extremely difficult to find, and much of the natural vegetation is poisonous.[citation needed]

In addition to those dangers, the Underdark was also the home of many predators and often-hostile races, including beholders, derro, drow, duergar, dwarves, illithids, kuo-toa and svirfneblin.[citation needed]


Plant life and animal life could be as varied underground as on the surface. Ranging from small insects to hook horrors or shadow dragons which set up their realms deep down, everything can be expected. Plant life was unable to utilize sunlight as a source for energy, and thus took on strange forms adapted to life underground. Many fungi were also found underground. Being unable to digest normal nutrients most of the time, they relied on absorbing faerzress for their energy.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition, p. 219. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  2. Bruce R. Cordell, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick (October 2003). Underdark, p. 117. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-3053-5.
  3. Bruce R. Cordell, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick (October 2003). Underdark, p. 4. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-3053-5.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide, p. 218. Wizards of the CoastISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
  5. Bruce R. Cordell, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick (October 2003). Underdark, p. 108. Wizards of the CoastISBN 0-7869-3053-5.

Further readingEdit

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