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The Lands Below

The Lands Below is the collective name given to the innumerable cave systems and subterranean chambers that lie beneath the Free Kingdoms. Although frightening, most caves are no more dangerous than other environments, but the Lands Below are another story entirely; the essence of the Whisperer Below is trapped in these caves, creating a horrible nightmare-realm of aberrant monsters and bastardizations of surface humanoids. Staying here for too long invites disease, madness, and death.   Lay of the Land
  • Veins of the World: Much like human intestines, the infinite caves and tunnels beneath the earth would stretch to a length far greater than the diameter of the Free Kingdoms. Traveling can take months, and it is extremely easy to become lost.
  • A Realm of Madness: The Whisperer Below's consciousness is trapped here, and the whole place, as well as its inhabitants, is influenced to depravity and madness by his mere presence here. The place is inhabited by totally alien animals and fungi that sustain their own weird ecosystem.
  • Slaves and Masters: Slavery is the cornerstone of the subterranean economy, and the slave trade is the only thing ensuring stable relations amid the depraved races.
Dangers to Dare
  • Purple Worms: The tunnels that honeycomb the Lands Below are dug by none other than these titans, with the size and hunger to swallow an entire village whole. Only a handful exists at any time, but their destructiveness is legendary. They seem like dumb animals, but perhaps they have some strange connection to the Whisperer Below.
  • Brain-Eaters: Megalomaniacs from another realm (or another time, if you believe some sages’ theories), these abominations subsist on eating the brains of intelligent creatures, which fuels their own mad genius – and their formidable psychic abilities.
  • Troglodytes: The scales of the stink-lizards have a foul taste and smell, which has protected them from predators. They overrun the Lands Below like rabbits.
  • Madness: Staying for long in the Lands Below is sure to bring about insanity, by way of nightmares, hallucinations, and paranoia: Echo Madness, a particularly potent affliction, is said to be caused by the struggling of the Whisperer Below, causing sounds to bounce violently around caves.
Folk & Friendship
  • Blackport: This settlement is one of the most easily-accessible in the Lands Below, and as such, has some of the best representation of surface-dwellers. However, the Cloak is supposed to have considerable influence here (although, technically, it is ruled by the Night-Elves).
  • Gravenhollow: A trio of stone-giant oracles tend to this library. They answer questions about the past and future, and are powerful enough to contend with any creature that tries to force information out of them.
Dungeons to Delve
  • The Black Ocean: This great underground lake is essentially a maze of flooded tunnels that connect a series of subterranean settlements. Some of its most dangerous inhabitants are the Deep Ones, human-fish hybrids who reproduce by drowning other creatures, and conducting a dark ritual to mutate them.
Peoples of the Lands-Below
  • Deep Gnomes are the last remaining ancestors of the gnomes of Glimm. They have retained little of their heritage, having adapted for life far underground. However, they still have a gift for technological advancement.
  • Grimlocks are degenerate cousins to humans, similar to Neanderthals, but with fleshy patches in place of their eyes. They are violent and cannibalistic. Like bats, they see using echolocation, issuing forth the screams of a broken race.
  • The Night Elves were born after some of Alphos’s master-diviners foresaw the outcome of the Elveswar, and hid in the Lands Below. In order to survive amid the subterranean hell, they turned to the worship of demons for protection. Their cutthroat culture requires that they be paranoid and hateful, even of each other.
  • In order to protect themselves against madness, the minds of the dvergar evolved for simplicity. It worked, but perhaps too well: the Grey Dwarfs view everything only in terms of its usefulness. They literally incapable of thinking abstractly, with no concept of individuality. They treat living creatures as a carpenter treats tools, enslaving those they deem 'useful', and killing the otherwise 'useless'.
  • The humble mushroom-people, called fungoids, are friendly in their rare dealings with surface-worlders, but find their ways utterly bizarre.
  • The dvergar bred the derro to serve as weak-minded slaves (supposedly by cross-breeding goblins and dwarfs), but their resolve was quickly shattered and replaced with madness; they make poor slaves, and simply remain as second-class citizens in the underground cities of the dvergar.
  • Quaggoths, as they are known in the tongue of the Brain-Eaters, have no known origin, but the bear-like hulks are most often seen as slaves to the Night Elves.
Type
Cave System

Legends & Lore: Politics of the Under-Empire: The Night Elves rule the Lands Below from their subterranean kingdom, and it exists in a state of controlled anarchy, ruled by quarreling Houses which venerate different demon-lords. The Under-Empire’s culture discourages cooperation and loyalty, and infighting is constant, with violent changes of power occurring every few years (in fact, that’s why the Under-Empire has no formal name).


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