“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
― Joseph Campbell
Almeri is not a large world by our mundane standards, or even by the standards of those well-traveled in the Scintilllance. But like many of the Shards bobbing in this celestial sea, its life is not limited to its surface.
For deep below its lush green forests and raging seas is a near continuous network of caverns, nodes, and vast openings that run nearly to the core of the world. And much of this dark landscape — known to most as the Underdeep — is teeming with life.
Much of the Underdeep is cut with long veins of crystals like quartz and selenite, and huge crystalline spaces can be found deep underground. These areas are prized by more intelligent Underdeep dwellers for their relative strength and reflective properties, and many groups seek them out for their settlements. Another common feature of these crystalline vaults are the the fainting shimmering Selen Moths that flutter about these areas like wandering starlight, and seemingly feed off the crystals themselves. To date, no one has mastered domesticating these light-bearing creatures, but their larva have been collected for use in glimmerworm lamps.
A Chemist or Alchemist can create a Glimmerworm lamp that glows for 24 hours if they have access to 8 glimmerworms and $10 in common ingredients. If sold outside an Underdeep community, a Glimmerworm lamp usually goes $50 or more. Exposure to sunlight destroys the potency of such a lamp/
While the reach of the Underdeep is vast, its food sources are not. Underground waterways hold fish and crustaceans, and there are many edible fungi to be found, but these resources are not nearly enough to support large populations and are a constant source of conflict.
New IQ11 Talent: Spelunker (1). Prerequisite: Naturalist or Climbing. This is the equivalent to Woodsman Talent for surface-dwellers. Due to the harshness of the environment, the test for sustenance is 4/IQ per day, and the failure underground is 2 fatigue. this Talent will also allow a figure to identify rock formations or underground creatures, wit the difficulty determined by the GM.
By far, the most common intelligent creatures roaming the crystalline passages of the Underdeep are the goblins. Whether driven below by other races or their own desires, the goblins have laid claim over this benighted realm. From crystalline cavities to shores of underground seas, goblin tribes have carved out communities and turned this harsh climate into a home.
Goblins — always true to their word but cagey in their actions — make difficult neighbors outside their immediate clan groups. So most goblin communities are either small or are several clan groups living near one another to make use of a large resource like fresh water or robust fungi patches. These groups live separately but in parallel and often have complex and baroque contracts with each other to guide their actions. Tricking or outwitting another group in these agreements is a source of great pride among goblin clans, but stealing or petty violence is below them. However, this restriction does not hold true for surface dwellers.
Goblin societies are strictly matriarchal as the birthing of young is critical to the clan’s survival. Similarly, but is usually the males who are sent to trade or raid on the surface, as their loss will not be felt as strongly. The most revered (and feared) are the priestesses of Areope. These venomous sisters claim to hold the fate of their clan’s in their hands, and none will resist their demands for duties, resources, or even mates.
Aiding the goblins and providing much-needed heavy lifting are the ogres. These simple creatures (Typically ST20/DX10/IQ6/MA12) are said to have traded their freedom to the goblins exchange for fresh meat, and have served them fro uncounted generations. Whatever foul energies that creep through the Underdeep have not been kind to these ogre brutes, and mutations are now quite common among them. Single eyes, additional limbs, shocks of unexpected hair and unnatural horns are common sights among the subterranean ogres. Some of these anomalies are sought out by the goblins (for aesthetic or practical reasons), and they may even try to breed them.
While the ogres themselves are not compelled by their word like the goblins, their long connection has ingrained a loyalty to their masters. This loyalty is quickly tested if the goblins fail to provide for the needs of their brutish servants, and more than goblin has been slaughtered over failure to feed the ogres what they require.
Goblins commonly fashion harnesses for their massive (3-hex) ogres, and use them like beasts of burden. It takes the ogre-specific Driver Talent to manage the stubborn creatures to do much more than carry a goblin, and gifted drivers can control an ogre almost as extension of themselves.
Even more terrifying than the sight of a massive ogre driven by a lash-cracking goblin, are the spider-riders. These elite goblins have domesticated horse-sized hunting spiders as mounts. Like common wolf spiders, these are burrowers and not web spinners, but they can spin out thick strands of sticky silk to trap those who come close their lairs. Goblins revere these creatures, and those that manage to tame and ride the massive arachnids are respected above nearly all others.
New Creature: Subterranean Giant Spider (2-3 hex). ST20-25/DX12/IQ2/MA12, or 6 climb/AD1/D1d+Poison) These massive matte black spiders are nearly invisible in their underground homes, and normally lie in wait in shallow dens for prey to come by. They often leave strands of thick web (as the spell with 3/DX save to avoid) to encumber those that stumble into their trap. Their mandibles are more powerful than the typical giant spider, but their venom is not. A successful bite requires a 3/ST test or it does 1d ST and causes -2adjDX from pain for the next 15 minutes. These penalties can accumulate. Spiders can climb surfaces (or their web strands) at half their MA. They can ridden as mounts with a spider-specific Horseman Talent and be broken and trained be trained by an Expert.