The Underdark is a brutal and horrendous place. The drow are but one of many cruel beings skulking in the dark. Half of what you find wants to kill you - the rest will likely do so by mistake.
So what is one to do if, say, a crazed wizard teleports you there...?
You try to survive as best you can, that's what.
Food in the Underdark has always been a rough topic, even for the native inhabitants. Places like Khüsüüshtei Gal
are lucky to have the support of powerful entities to provide for them, whilst those in drow cities have the benefit of their slaves and magic when food becomes scarce. Adventurers must instead struggle through endless twisting caves and violent creatures in the hope of finding something edible.
With plants, the easiest way to tell if something can be eaten or not is to first have access to a spellcaster with Detect Poison or with knowledge of nature. If neither of these are available, it becomes a process of experimentation. Use passing creatures and summoned pests to tell if any given plant is truly edible.
Some examples of edible Underdark-growing plants include firespun mushrooms
, zyrx'n fungi
, and uerun fungi
. They can be found in the colder areas where no light reaches, and are identifiable as edible by the phosphorescent red gills under the firespun's cap and the green glow at the base of both zyrx'n and uerun fungi.
Living on only fungi is not sustainable for a number of reasons, but tackling the many monstrous beasts wandering the Underdark is an undertaking any should be wary of. Demonic influence still lies rampant, and aside from the inherent problems in fighting demons, meat harvested from corrupt corpses may still spread corruption. In this respect, the safest source of meat in the Underdark will be from the purer cave creatures: the standard bats and snakes (if all poison is carefully avoided), for instance.
The other safe source of meat is from other sentient beings. Svirfneblin
are relatively uncorrupt, and can be safely killed and eaten. Dragons
are rare and dangerous foes, but if properly prepared and stored, their meat can sustain a being for over a year. Even the drow
can be cannibalised if entirely necessary, though avoid any that have undergone fleshwarping
Though it is very obviously possible to survive
in the Underdark - it is not easy to thrive, especially not as a lone adventurer. Long-term, joining any kind of large civilisation should be prioritised if escape is not a possibility. If being trapped beneath the earth is any kind of possibility for you: invest in a Ring of Sustenance
instead of worrying about food, and care more about your detection spells.
A guide to diplomacy and relations in the Underneath can be found in the next of this series, Survival in the Underneath: Diplomacy in the Dark, available in bookstores for 5gp.