Fauna

Menzoberranzan’s environs are filled with large varieties of unusual fauna. Some of the fauna is monsterous and even more is dangerous. A few are listed below.

Amphibians: Small, blind salamanders are common inhabitants of wet caves, even those lacking actual pools of water, in the underdark. Rumors of larger, more dangerous salamanders occasionally make the rounds but generally these reports are attributed to the more common (and occasionally albino) lizards. Small cave frogs are also frequently encountered but their larger cousins seem to be primarily limited to the region of the Darklake. This area is known to have various sorts of gigantic frogs dwelling all along its shore, some of which seem to be nomadic, moving from one area of the shore to another over time. Occasionally intelligent inhabitants of the underdark (such as goblins) will capture some of these creatures and move them to wet areas or pools near their homes as both sources of food and defense.

Bat: Innumerable types of bats are found in the wild underdark and many of them are found in and around Menzoberranzan where the tunnels are wide and food is plentiful. Bats regularly lair on the ceiling of the city’s caverns as well as in surrounding areas. Their guano is necessary for the abundant growth of mosses and fungi in the area and few cause problems so they are generally accepted and ignored by the populace. Many bats become familiars. Doombats, giant bats, mobats, normal bats, and night hunters are all found in the area of Menzoberranzan, though only the normal bats are usually accepted as the others tend to feed on livestock and slaves (if they don’t attack drow themselves). They are hard to catch until they do attack, however, flying through the underdark silently without disturbing their surroundings.

Birds: Menzoberranzan has a smaller supply of birds than some areas of the underdark, though several species are encountered from time to time. Achaierai, clubneks, and gryphs are all very rare in the dark dominion and generally avoid inhabited areas (including those inhabited by goblins, orcs, and such). Stirges are somewhat more common but were hunted nearly to extinction in the dark dominion long ago for their feathers and as guardians and pets. Now thirsts of subterranean stirges are both more valued and more deadly due to the the unexpected nature of encounters with them. Dire corbies, with their humanoid size and shape and cunning intellect equivalent to goblins and orcs combined with a suicidal fearlessness, are deadly killers when encountered and a few caverns are even known to possess flocks and be ignored by patrols (the dire corbie has lost the feathers that are so prized, now having just a downy, furlike covering, and so has little value). These caverns are considered good places for sport and practicing sniping and stealth tactics by noble forces. The most common bird (actually only one that could rightfully be considered common) is actually not a bird at all. Webbirds are related to insects or arachnids but their feathers are just as useful as those of any real bird and it is for these that they are hunted, trapped, and raised.

Bookworm: Most drow have an intense fear and loathing for the lowly bookworm, a reaction out of proportion to their numbers in the city. Several magics have been developed over time to deal with just this threat and are employed in many places in the city. Mages protecting their spellbooks and scrolls, priestesses protecting their religious texts, merchants protecting their ledgers, accounts, and records, bards protecting their repetoires of spells and music, alchemists protecting their arcane formulae, sages and savants protecting their libraries of lore, matron mothers protecting their favorite cheap “romance stories”, and everyone else who’s not a slave, it seems, has some reason to loathe the lowly bookworm. Visitors to the city caught bringing in even one bookworm (knowingly or not) suffer some of the worst fates, all publicly, for endangering the city’s power structure. Of course, bookworms are thus also considered one of the best possible ways to attack an enemy and more than one house has tried to introduce one or more into another house’s holdings. It is known that Sorcere has been protected inviolate against these creatures for several centuries, ever since several of them were found infesting one of its libraries (an act blamed on certain out of favor houses in the city that had recently been destroyed as well as other, rival cities).

Cave Cricket: These large insects are found naturally in the underdark as well as being raised for food outside the city. Their flesh is not especially tasty but it is nutritious and cave crickets are relatively cheap to raise, being docile unless startled. They stay in one place as long as there is no danger and food is plentiful so those who raise usually simply find a cave and block the entrance with the cave crickets inside along with a supply of food. When harvesting is desired a sleep spell allows chosen specimens to be brought out without disturbing the “herd”. Since cave crickets have no attacked they can be easily handled even without the use of spells or sleep poison by even the weakest slaves. Drow patrols often scatter wild swarms of cave crickets with their passage, finding the unobtrusive scavengers not even worth harassing as their reactions do not reward such sadistic pleasures. Cave crickets are immune to some of the fungi and molds of the underdark, making them useful scavengers.

Cave Badger: Cave badgers are larger, subterranean cousins of common badgers and have giant species as well, just as normal badgers do. Cave badgers have an acute sense of smell as well as being able to see with infravision to 60’. Like other badgers they are highly territorial and highly aggressive. Only gnomes and, in a few cases, dwarves, ever have cave badger pets, guardians, or companions and so the creatures are associated with these races by other underdark dwellers. Gnomes tell tales of some cave badgers that have been twisted by Urdlen and are destroyers of all life. They believe his followers have some spell that allows them to alter these creations in such manner but duergar and drow, who know how easily common cruelties can change an already aggressive creature, believe no such magic actually exists or is required. Cave badgers are found on page 40 of Drizzt Do’Urden’s Guide to the Underdark. Giant cave badgers are twice as large. There is no actual law against cave badgers in the city but anyone who brings one in other than to sell or use in a gladiatorial or beast fight or can’t prove magical control over it will be assumed to be a friend of the svirfneblin (and thus spy) and dealt with appropriately.

Cave Pig: Cave pigs are essentially wild boars that possess 60’ infravision and live in the underdark. The creatures are commonly found wild in many places and are raised by most intelligent underdark races. Dwarves and, to a much lesser extent, duergar even train them as mounts and guard animals. They are so common they are thought of as lower class food in Menzoberranzan and most drow will not bother to raise them, instead concentrating on the much more valuable and desirable rothe (raising or eating cave pigs is often compared to raising or eating rats by class conscious drow, though they are a staple of the poor in Menzoberranzan of all races). Cave pigs have developed natural immunities to some of the underdark’s dangers. An ability to pinch their noses shut as well excellent nose filters makes them immune to the spores of many molds as well as able to ignore stench based attacks for limited periods of time (1 round if fighting or otherwise engaged in strenuous exertion but 1-6 rounds if simply lazily munching away). They are also immune to some fungal infections due to adaptations in their immune systems. This includes the dreaded violet fungi.

Cockroach: The common cockroach (in all its varieties) is common in Menzoberranzan and its environs as the local spider population seems incapable of controlling them (most spiders don’t seem to feed on cockroaches for an unknown reason). Their frequency is not enjoyed by the drow, however, as they are known to spread disease, destroy books, and ruin supplies. Their numbers and tenacity, despite all attempts at eradication (though such attempts, in typical drow short-sightedness, always focus only on that individual or group’s area and not the entire city and surrounding region of the underdark), are the most likely reason why exterminate is the first cantrip taught at Sorcere and by most house wizards. Cockroaches of fearsome size and more direct danger are known to wander some areas of the dark dominion.

Dogs: Dogs can make excellent companions for surface dwellers (i.e., humans), even in the lightless underdark. Their excellent senses of smell and hearing have kept more than one visitor to the lightless depths alive, at least for a time. Ultimately, however, they make poor long term companions for those who do not require light, and those who do require light do not stay for long. Thus dogs in the underdark are rare. Magical species like blink dogs and moon dogs are also not prone to traveling the dark corridors. Shadow mastiffs and yeth hounds have both been encountered in the wild underdark before as well as in service or cooperation with other powerful creatures. Though Menzoberranzan has no trainers of their own, yeth hounds are raised by a select few in Ched Nasad and occasionally someone will travel there to bring one back for sale or as a servant. Likewise, shadow mastiffs are raised by some in Eryndlyn, but in that city they are only used by Vhaeraun worshippers, a fact well known to Menzoberranzan’s senior clergy of the Spider Queen. Woe betide any foolish enough to bring such a pet into the city other than as a prize captured as a figthing animal (such as in a gladiatorial bout). More commonly reported and of more concern to the drow are the presence of brak twan in the nearby underdark. Dwarven tunnel hounds (see Dragon #269) are kept mainly be shield dwarves as pets and guardians. They hate orcs and goblins and their kin and will attack them on sight. As well they will never obey an elf. For these reasons they are banned in the city (caravans that use them must leave them outside the city somewhere under supervision). Wild packs roam the nearby underdark, attacking drow slaves and even some drow patrols. The priestesses of Lolth blame their presence on an intentional release by dwarven merchants passing through but most reasonable people feel it more likely either drow or monsters raided a caravan (or perhaps a pack held outside the city as a caravan visited) and their handlers were slain, leaving the brak twan to run wild.

Domestic Herd Animals: Both standard rothe and their more magical cousins, deep rothe, are raised by Menzoberranzan’s herders. Both sorts are also found wild in the underdark and many species prey on them or herd them for food. Drow patrols and their enemies have been known to watch over wild herds to see who or what will come by, hoping to catch foes unprepared and ambush them. Deep rothe predominate by far in both the wilds and the city’s herds but herds of normal rothe are not so uncommon as to make them a delicacy (their meat has a slightly different taste) or to increase their value. Shield dwarves (but to date not duergar, though they may also have herds of their own) also occasionally visit the city with herds of guttar, also known as dwarven oxen. The guttar (see Dragon #269) are carefully hoarded by the dwarves and not sold to others as livestock for their own herds. Instead all guttar that are brought to the city are slaughtered and sold as food here or are taken back as pack animals. Their taste is different than rothe, closer to the taste of surface animals, and they are larger than rothe so they sell well. Despite this no one in the city has ever bothered to raid a dwarven caravan for its herd (or, if they have, they haven’t succeeded in capturing the beasts live). Guttar do not roam wild in the nearby underdark and it is common wisdom that dwarven oxen require some special food to survive for any great length of time or perhaps to reproduce, though none know what this food would be. Some surface dwellers and, more commonly, dwarves bring surface goats, sheep, and pigs to trade in the city. As these animals require light that doesn’t naturally exist in most areas of the underdark they are rare and therefor valuable for their meat but are not raised here nor are any found wild in the underdark. Cave pigs, rats, lizards, and other creatures are also raised for food.

Dragons: Bringing a full dragon into the city would bring too much attention to anyone and the potential danger would undoubtedly cause the noble houses to act. Some dragons do visit the city in polymorphed form, however, most especially deep dragons. Dragons encountered near Menzoberranzan are always driven off or slain as they are far too powerful to allow to establish themselves. Shadow dragons in particular are both feared and hated. Slaying a dragon is guaranteed nobility, either being made a matron mother or adopted by an existing family (the highest ranking families compete for the honor of adopting such distinguished and capable drow). Other dracoforms are also encountered in the dark dominion with some regularity. Behir, dracolisks, chimeras, gorgimeras, linnorms, and hosts of other part-dragons and drakes have been encountered in the dark dominion over time. While not common, they are almost always dangerous. Three of particular note are the chimera, firedrake, and ice lizard. All three are employed as pets and guardians creatures by those with money who desire the prestige. Chimera are the hardest to acquire, only being available when a hunter locates one and brings it back alive, but a dwarf merchant, Haelgar the Dwarf, that visits the city several times each year has access to a steady supply of both firedrakes and ice lizards and those desiring one can pay him 100 gp up front so that he’ll bring one back to the city on his next trip (whereupon the rest of the pre-agreed price is paid). Chimera always go for highest bid while Halegar’s prices have continued a steady climb, one likely to put him out of business (probably by someone finding a way to track the magically warded merchant and then slaying him once they have located his dealer).

Fish: Both small blind fish and tiny blind crayfish are commonly found throughout small waterways and pools in the underdark. As well, larger fish and crabs are found in both Donigarten and Darklake and are harvested by those living nearby. Rumors of even larger, more dangerous inhabitants of both lakes are common, some involving fish and some involving other creatures.

Hook Horror: Hook horrors are dangerous creatures if their attention is attracted. Their tough exoskeleton, superior hearing, and omnivorous diet allows them to prosper in the wild underdark, roaming in small mated packs or as lone males. Hook horrors are aggressive fighters but are usually encountered eating carrion or scraping moss and fungi so the wary can usually avoid unpleasant experiences. Hook horrors are well known in the city and a favorite of gladiatorial and monster battles. During the Open Days many house weaponmasters square off with captured hook horrors to prove their battle prowess and impress the crowds. Hook horrors are better known to graduates of the Academy as favorite training creatures (a fact that’s kept secret so future classes won’t know what to expect). Hook horrors are chosen for a variety of reasons. Their reliance on sound instead of sight limits the usefulness of the drow’s innate darkness ability, forcing the students to adapt their tactics to new situations. They are heavily armored enough and well enough known as to be instantly recognized as a real threat by the students. And finally, their hearing makes spell casting dangerous as they home in on the voices. This is an important lesson for priestesses and magic-users to learn, that sometimes it’s better to rely on weapons than spells in order to gain a tactical advantage. Many noble houses suspect the instructors of Melee Magthere breed hook horrors in secret somewhere in the underdark or that the creatures are purchased from someone else who does so as they seem to have a constant supply and their hook horrors are not damaged specimens like those usually brought in by hired hunters.

Lizard: Many types of lizards are found in the city and wild in the nearby underdark. Lizards are the basic beast of burden, mount, and can even provide both food and scaled leather for Menzoberranyr. There are 4 basic types of lizard used by Menzoberranyr, ones common to most underdark inhabitants: the riding lizard used by nobles and mounted troops, the light subterranean pack lizard, the common subterranean lizard, and the large or full-size subterranean pack lizard. Pack lizards have been specially bred from standard giant subterranean lizards for docility and aren’t encountered away from civilization unless lost from an attacked caravan. Riding lizards were tamed from aggressive underdark hunters and are the same as their underdark kin, though most are trained similar to warhorses so that they’ll be effective mounts in battle. Of course, both subterranean and riding lizards are found wild in the underdark, including some riding lizards that have escaped or been lost and gone wild once more. All four types of giant lizard are bred in the mantle around Menzoberranzan. Besides these creatures basic to commerce there are also the many smaller varieties of underdark dwelling lizards, from creatures a few inches long to ones larger than gila monsters. For some unknown reason the dark dominion is habitat to an unusually high number of fire lizards as well. These deadly creatures are very difficult to tame unless raised from an egg and even then have been known to turn on their masters without apparent reason at times so they aren’t usually taken and tamed or raised. Fire lizards are also deadly opponents, requiring excellent tactics and skill to take down. They abandon their extremely valuable eggs after laying, however.

Lycanthrope: Though only wererats and werebats are generally encountered in the city’s environs, all sorts of lycanthropes are expressly prohibited as the drow do not wish to have such a perverting curse spread among the populace. Any lycanthrope discovered is either destroyed or cured (generally only nobles can hope to be cured and if it fails then they too die). Knowingly harboring or allowing to escape a lycanthrope is also a death sentence.

Maggot: Though only the larval stage of flies, flies and maggots are listed under maggots as it is the larvae that are of most import to most underdark dwellers. Maggots can spoil foodstuffs, clean wounds by removing dead flesh, destroy zombies, detect poisons (“never eat dead maggots” actually is a way of saying “never eat anything with dead maggots on it” in the underdark), clean up carrion, act as fishing bait, and many other uses. Both scourge and pest to the world above, the maggot is actually respected in the underdark. The drow, in particular, raise maggots (usually by leaving a piece of meat out in a dish) to grow flies that their spiders feed on. Lacking the reputation of the stink bug, maggots and flies are actually looked upon well by most underdark denizens—so long as they don’t get to the food stores.

Mouse: Most would not think to find mice in Menzoberranzan with the large numbers of spiders and other creatures that feed on them but this is partially exactly why they are here. Many wizards conjure mice through cantrips to feed their spiders and other pets and still others raise them in the low city to sell as food. The main reason the city has a large supply of the small rodents, however, is they are conjured as a favorite prank by many, many students at the Academy. Some Masters have suggested not teaching the mouse cantrip at all to students but this is impractical as the cantrip has far too many useful applications in the world of the drow and some houses even demand it be taught their students, to which the same Masters have suggested holding off on its instruction until just prior to graduation, but by then the magic-users are already casting 1st level spells and none of the power-hungry drow wants to waste time learning another cantrip. Mice do, of course, escape the city to find places in the nearby underdark and House Hunzrin, in charge of the city’s common food growing, consider them a menace that should be controlled. More than one monster has been lured to Menzoberranzan and its environs by backtracking mice they consumed or following the scent of the trails they left from their point of origin.

Muckworm: The muckworm is a subterranean bottom feeder that can be found anywhere from large bodies of water to thin sheets of mud. It is a flatworm and can vary in size from 1/4" to 3" wide, 1/10" to 1/3" thick, and 6" to feet long. The muckworm is harmless to most lifeforms, eating only slimes (monsterous and natural), oozes (again, monsterous and natural), molds (particularly the slimy mold that grows anywhere that continually moist), and lichens. It is immune to molds, jellies, oozes, and slimes (but not puddings). Muckworms are not edible by most underdark creatures, causing them to become sick or die if they are eaten. The most notable exceptions are hook horrors and most mammalian humanoids (kobolds, troglodytes, dire corbies, etc. become violently ill for days if they eat a muckworm) who can eat them raw or, preferably, fried or baked. Gnolls, flinds, and minotaurs that eat them become lethargic for a day or more and eating too many will kill them.

Osquip: This relative of the rat is much more accepted than its cousin in the city and some are raised and trained by people to sell. At least twice in remembered history osquips have been used to secretly tunnel into the lower areas of drow houses, though neither attempt succeeded in more than annoying the nobles (unless distracting them was the intent, in which case both efforts succeeded marvelously). Osquips are also a rare, but usually well accepted familiar for drow wizards—much more preferable than a rat. Osquips are occasionally found wild in the underdark around the city but for the most part these colonies have all been wiped out or captured so none still exist. New osquips not raised in the city are generally brought in by merchants.

Pedipalp: Pedipalpi are arachnids, crosses between scorpions and spiders commonly referred to as “whip scorpions”. Pedipalpi of all sorts roam wild in the underdark where they hunt prey as nomadic predators. The drow raise and train pedipalpi as pets and guardian creatures. Huge and large versions are often trained and used in the manner of guard and hunting dogs while giant versions are much less frequently used they are employed as guardian animals for farms, mines, and other areas located outside the city itself. As the breeding programs are so successful, captured pedipalpi are not worth the effort for hunters. As pedipalpi won’t attack other arachnids this is usually a safe thing to do, since no priestess can come along and punish the owner for the heretical actions of their wayward pet. Wild pedipalpi have no fear of drow and will gang up to attack larger creatures or large bands of creatures, making them a menace to travelers and patrols when encountered. More than once the drow have encountered humanoid tribes that have somehow gotten hold of and trained pedipalpi of their own (illicit sales are presumed) and have used the pedipalpi’s body parts to arm themselves as well as using the pedipalpi to increase the efficiency of their hunting and defenses. Since the lightweight maces are often better than the usual odd assortment of weaponry a tribe will possess and combined with the pedipalpi themselves the tribe can become a truly formidable foe, requiring dedicated warbands to drive out of their lairs and destroy. Pedipalpi breeders and merchant clans have been anxious to be allowed to sell pedipalpi to the duergar and other subterranean groups that might be interested in them but to date have been barred from doing so by the Ruling Council (which doesn’t mean it’s not occurring anyway). Large pedipalpi are properly known as schizomidae (singular, schizomida), huge pedipalpi are properly known as amblypygi (singular, amblypygus), and giant pedipalpi are properly known as uropygi (singluar, uropygus).

Rat: Rats, including the rare vapor rat, and more common giant and normal rats, infest the city. Unlike mice, they are generally not viewed as useful by the drow and various sizes and varieties of spiders are bred by many houses just to control the population. This seems to have had surprisingly little effect, however, and packs of starving rats have even been reported occasionally attacking patrols (though most such incidents are presumed to be magically inspired by enemies, rats prefer to attack easier prey like lone and sickly goblins or drunken ogres). Rats are also a depressingly common familiar in the city and several attempts by the Masters of Sorcere (or rather, a few of them working together) to exterminate them have been made, all with a resounding lack of success. After killing the vapor rat familiar of a highly placed noble who was also a fellow Master, in an attempt several decades ago, however, the Masters of Sorcere have avoided any such magical purges and stuck to more tried and true methods like breeding creatures to hunt them. The fact that rats, unlike mice, will fight back against spiders (as well as other predators) has caused even the clergy of Lloth to become officially concerned and attempt to take measures against them. The fact that rats (many caught wild by goblins and kobolds and sold a dozen to the copper) provides much of the meat that commoners eat hasn’t bothered the wealthy and powerful at all, though it is the commoner’s eating them that may be one of the most effective forces at limiting the rat population. All these efforts have been for naught and many have said that the only reason rats haven’t overrun the city is that they spill over into the nearby underdark where they harass and pester other creatures (and attract monsters). And the rat population continues to grow.

Scorpion: Though arachnids, scorpions are not spiders and Lloth is not concerned with them. As such scorpions in and around the city are fair game and most are killed when encountered. Many small scorpions, smaller than a drow’s hand, have managed to survive but the larger varieties have become rare over time as they compete with spiders for food and space and are killed by patrols. Scorpions are hardy creatures, however, so it is not surprising that new nests move into the outer reaches of Menzoberranzan’s territory again and again over time. Every size of scorpion can be found in the underdark, from ones bigger than a human to ones as small as a single finger. All are deadly, injecting neuro-toxins into their victims with their stingered tails. It is said that the black ones are less venomous than the clearish yellow/white ones.

Snake: Snakes are amazingly common in the underdark, including Menzoberranzan and its environs. They come in all sizes and include both constrictors and vipers. Many residents of the city keep constrictors and smaller, non-poisonous snakes as pets to help control the vermin population, especially rats and mice, just as humans might keep cats. The same vermin have made the nearby underdark bountiful territory for the snakes and many lair here. They generally avoid large prey such as drow, unless startled or someone happens on their nest (climbers are warned). Perhaps one of the most dangerous types of snakes in the area is the jaculi, which launches itself from stalagmites to attack prey. They are not so circumspect about attacking humanoids as their more floorbound cousins. A water snake reported at over 50’ in length was killed recently on the Darklake as well, or so the duergar who slew it reported. One advantage snakes in the underdark have is the constant temperature never gets too cold to move about, seeking prey. Though the secrets of creating the snake whips are held only by the most trusted high priestesses and have not been violated even by Vhaeraun’s worshippers, many have suggested that living vipers are used to make the whips and that this accounts from some of the frequency with which snakes are found in the region of the city and why no attempt to purge the area of them has ever been made. Many snakes become familiars (they are considered valuable familiars by most mages as well).

Solifugids: Despite being referred to as “false spiders”, these arachnids are not spiders and are not favored by the Queen of Spiders any more than their cousins, scorpions. Giant solifugids roam throughout the underdark and some huge versions have made it to Menzoberranzan’s area from beneath Anauroch. Captured solifugid are not worth the effort for hunters as no one seems interested in live specimens. Solifugid meat tastes terrible, even to other solifugid, so even dead ones are generally considered worthless unless some alchemist or spell caster has paid in advance for body parts. As the solifugid in the area of Menzoberranzan generally won’t attack a healthy drow, even when in numbers, most hunters ignore them completely and patrols pass them by, leaving them behind to slay other creatures that wander into this area of the underdark.

Spider: Despite all the sizes and other variations there are two basic kinds of spiders: Hunting spiders and lair spiders. Hunting spiders travel to find their food, whether they have a lair or not. Lair spiders wait for prey to come to them and will abandon and area that is free of prey. Lair spiders build webs and include funnel spiders, trapdoor spiders, and the more typical web builders that stretch webs across an area. Lair spiders come in all sizes and lethalities from the tiny flea size spiders to large spiders, to huge spiders, to gigantic spiders larger than a human (or drow). They can also be found in all environments, from the marine spiders that ensnare ships and aquatic life on the Darklake to the ceiling and cavern dwelling spiders so common in the city. As it is against the law to kill a spider, most houses have a great number of them (this would likely be true even if there were no such law as Lloth’s worshippers have ensured the city is one massive, crawling, arachnoid haven). Hunting spiders are less common but include some of the types of spiders most often employed by those dwelling in the city including wolf spiders and sword spiders. A couple of the noble houses even use giant spider mounts in preference to riding lizards, apparently without comment from Lloth. Of all the spider types around, the phase spider is the most intelligent, most powerful, and least cooperative. Phase spiders do not generally recognize the dominion of Lloth over them and have no particular inclination to work with her followers, at least not without receiving personal benefit. It is not surprising that spiders are also common familiars, a fact some priestesses attribute to Lloth wanting to keep a closer eye on the city’s magic-users.

Spitting Crawler: Spitting crawlers are all too rare in the nearby underdark as far as most drow in Menzoberranzan are concerned, though no one has taken the opinion of any Ghaunadaur worshippers. This is because they do not attack humanoid prey (not even kobolds) but are one of the few creatures that eats oozes, slimes, jellies, puddings, and deadly molds. As each of these creatures usually requires magic or some other exceptional attack form (fire is an exceptional attack form, especially since most patrols do not carry any except in the form of magic). In addition to this, drow mages greatly desire spitting crawler familiars, though their alignments rarely match. Spitting crawler familiars are so desirable that all drow patrols are under standing orders to capture any spitting crawler they encounter without inflicting harm. Unfortunately, the usual methods of doing so, like sleep spells and poison darts, are either resisted by the creatures’ magic resistance or the spitting crawler is immune to. As such far too few are captured for the Masters of Sorcere to their liking. Even when captured, it is rare that one becomes a familiar, compounding the issue as far as most drow mages are concerned. Some of the masters of Sorcere have told their fellows that they have developed spells that can be used to increase the chances of a creature becoming a familiar but none of their fellows are willing to pay for this service, worried that something will be done to give the other wizard power over them or their new familiar. The fact that they still can’t guarantee anything doesn’t help either. Hunters in the city bring in spitting crawlers whenever they can and always charge high prices for them. To date no one has started a spitting crawler breeding program because the initial investment is so large and the few times it has been attempted the Masters of Sorcere or one of the nobles houses has always come in and taken the spitting crawlers for their own use, whether openly or through some unsubtle ruse (e.g., a magical battle that destroys the premises while fending off unseen attackers and somehow leaves no trace of the spitting crawlers when it’s over).

Stink Bug Found naturally in the underdark living on bat guano and anything that happens into the area and cannot defend itself (including young and wounded bats that fall onto the floor), stink bugs at first seem harmless and useful at cleaning areas up. They can be deadly to the severely wounded and incapacitated, however. Stink bugs are very much a boogey man of the underdark to those that go on patrols or are threatened with exile, ready to greedily consume their still-living flesh. While some drow at some time have no doubt used stink bugs as a torturous way to slay helpless foes, they are more often seen as a way to dispose of corpses by drow who consider them anything more than part of the landscape or a potential, if unlikely, menace. Finally, as with many small carrion eaters, stink bugs are reviled by those who employ zombies. When asked why a drow priestess could not simply animate a few zombies and go live alone and relatively securely in the underdark it is stink bugs and not the more powerful denizens of the deeps that are given as the answer. Unable to protect themselves, zombies will be chewed apart and destroyed by stink bugs if left in an area with them and even if just passing through, if they pick up a small number, they may well succumb in the not-too-distant future. While undead are employed by the drow and other underdark dwellers, stink bugs keep armies of zombies from being created to conquer territory as they will quickly be ravaged by this minor menace.

Undead: Skeletons are employed in a number of areas in and around the city as minor guardians, usually more for show than to actually stop or deter intruders. Some are more powerful than usual, however, so they do tend to give thieves and assassins pause. Outside the city they are effective at slowing most monsters that come by and can even stop some. Placed in key spots, they make cheap guard units that hold up marauders until the main guard force can arrive to handle the situation. This saves money by reducing the need for as many guards and since the skeletons are constantly alert shifts do not have to be arranged or commanders hired to ensure they do their duty as with slaves. Their lack of coordination and inability to follow complex commands has prevented any house from relying on undead forces for some time and there is always the question about whether a house’s loyalties lie with Lolth or Orcus or Kiaransalee if undead are their primary support. Zombies aren’t generally used, except to transport the dead or loot back from a battle (many drow dead are simply looted and left where they fell for the scavengers, generally only nobles are worth or expected to be returned). Too many creatures, from rot grubs to maggots, ruin zombies—and zombies guards have even been known to be attacked, overrun, and eaten by rats—to make them effective, in addition to the fact that they’re not aesthetically pleasing like a clean skeleton. Ghouls are not very dangerous to drow since drow are immune to their paralyzing touch but the Ghoul Lord is an ally of Yeenoghu and ghouls are opportunists, no one wants a ghoul plague to come upon the city. As such ghouls are generally destroyed when found though there are rumors that some houses keep them to dispose of bodies and as a nasty surprise against any attacker. Ghasts are both more dangerous and more offensive and are also destroyed. Ghouls and ghasts may exist in the city if they are under someone’s control, however, unlike wights, wraiths, shadows, and spectres which are all destroyed when encountered (the first three are particularly uncontrollable). Ghosts and banshees are always eradicated whenever encountered and revenants, except the special Zin-Carla, are considered Kiaransalee’s minions and obliterated whenever they appear by anyone that encounters them. Vampires have visited the city before but none are allowed to stay here or in the environs as their feeding habits are so detrimental and there is a real fear of a plague of the powerful monsters, complete with class abilities and intimate knowledge of the city and its houses, descending on the city if any were allowed to remain. Mummies are not an issue as Menzoberranyr do not inter their dead in a way that would cause their formation. Liches are present in the city. Generally they hide their true nature from others but there are more than a few running around, powerful magic-users that chose unlife over death. Usually liches choose to leave the city, however, as they are too vulnerable to clerical powers and weapons against undead. Non-magic-users approaching the end of their days have been know to seek out the most powerful death masters to become liches as well. As such actions always require a conversion to Orcus’s worship those who take this drastic step must leave the city. Juju zombies are rare and treasured servants by those that can create them and many who know how to make them use crawling claws as guardians. Skeleton warriors are possibly the most desired type of undead servitor in the city but those that have them keep them secret, allowing others to think they are just skeletons until it’s too late (and conversely many skeletons are dressed up to look like possible skeleton warriors).

Fauna

Menzoberranzan Aeylric