Alright, in normal DnD the underdark is basically a plane of weirdo underground bullshit with little grounding in how cave systems actually work. That's cool and all, but I think it would be cool to speculate about how an actual super cave system could develop. The only concessions from reality we'll need to start with is that the planet's geology can support the existence of a massive network of tunnels and chambers, and a generally more robust ecology that could survive constant intrusions of monsters, villains, and intrepid adventurer, not to mention sentient locals, but beyond that I think we should try to focus on realistic flora and fauna derived from existing cave-dwelling entities or at least carrying similar adaptations, and add in the fantastical from there once interesting mundane organisms have been fleshed out.To start with, I will suggest three "basic" biospheres which form the foundation of the realistic underdark ecosystem>The areas with the largest amount of biomass and biodiversity are underground lakes and rivers, which carry precious organic particles from the surface into the cavern ecosystem, forming the foundation of one of the most complex underground food chains. Depending on the size of the river, lake, or even ocean, there is the potential for large, complex creatures to inhabit the lightless waters. While an easy source of food and water for cavern natives or explorers, there is also unparalleled danger, as some of the most dangerous creatures also make their homes in this resource-rich environment, and not all of them are restricted to an aquatic lifestyle.
>>79147814>In areas not enriched by a major water source, the base of the ecosystem comes in the form of autotrophic endoliths, forming massive slimy mats over a cavern floor and slowly eating away at the stone below, carving out new areas while also blocking up others with their waste. In this way, cave systems can change over centuries or even just decades, making long-term settlement in these areas quite perilous. However, these regions boast a large population of "grazing" animals which slurp up the bacterial goo, and are in turn preyed upon by other organisms. In some places, these regions are overtaken by massive growths of mold and fungus which can grow feet thick from the cavern floor, crawling with all manner of life forms in an ecosystem resembling that of a dense tropical rainforest.>The last major cave ecosystem is one in which, for one reason or another, both rock-eaters and major water sources are absent, leading to a quiet, barren landscape with little in the way of organic life. Sapient natives often make settlements on the periphery of places like these, deep enough inside to be safe from the predators of more lively regions, but close enough that they can easily visit those regions to hunt. Of course, even this is not without risk, as the dangerous life forms that do dwell in these "deserts" tend to be the most patient and cunning of them all. And that is not even considering the threat of rival tribes, or desperate exiles from the surface wielding forbidden knowledge in their secret lairs.Of course, this is more a spectrum than separated biospheres, so there could be river ecosystems bordering endolith "savannas" or quasi-deserts with a thin film of bacteria, or a super-ecosystem incorporating both massive lakes and oceans AND a fungal rainforest, no doubt filled with countless horrible monsters.
And a few creature suggestions of my own. I feel a criminally underlooked animal is the remipede, a type of centipede-like aquatic crustacean which has developed its own toxic bite. Scaling these up would make for terrifying encounters in the more watery areas of the cavern system.
The olm is also a classic cave-dweller. It is one of the very, very few fully cave-dwelling vertebrates, so I imagine it could be used as the base for many types of vertebrate life in this hypothetical super system. You could have endolith-grazer variants, crocodile-equivalents, fully aquatic and terrestrial subspecies, and so on.
As you can see here, there is also a wide variety of invertebrate cave-dwelling life forms, all of which can be scaled up to provide the environment with a suitable host of horrific encounters for the party or valuable resources to be processed into barter-able goods, or just used for themselves. Trade giant snail-shells with the local under-men for olm leather armor. Pass a perception check to notice the giant cave spider splayed out above you on the ceiling. Giant cave bugs should be a constant presence.
>>79147814>>79147816another option for energy production in this underdark, maybe in addition to what you mentioned, is for the planet in question to be very, very old, and have had an extra billion years of the land plant/sea animal life only epoch that produced all of our buried hydrocarbons - imagine the earth with both deeper and 3-5 orders of magnitude more crude oil, tar, and trapped natural gas. organisms that could feed on that could be the base of an incredibly robust ecosystem. Another option is for bacterium or protists living deep in the crust that substitute heat for light in a photosynthesis-style metabolism, and circulate through loops of superheated water that approach the lower mantle and then come back up to the level of the underdark, forming the basis of the underdark's energy economy. Maybe both?another very important consideration is the planets mass, - a lower mass (and therefore lower gravity) planet could support much larger ancient lava tubes and cave systems.
And here are some examples of fully cave-adapted fish. I should have clarified that the olm was one of the only 'terrestrial' or at least quasi-terrestrial cave vertebrates, there's a fuckload of fish. Again, scale them up, make a few of them scarier. Don't have actual cave whales, pick something like this and make it the whale analog.
Just bumping a very high quality effort post.I’ll try to contribute later. OP any exploration into a supplement called Veins of the Earth?
>>79147814One interesting idea I had for nutrients in the underground was some huge abomination that devours stone and processes it into fertile matter.This would also explain why caverns are so ubiquitous.
>>79147985These are good ideas yeah. I've been trying to stay planet-agnostic under the idea that, concessions of geography aside, the idea of the realistic underdark could be transplanted into one's campaign with relative ease. The biospheres I suggested are intended to adhere as closely to real-world cavern ecosystems as possible, just scaled up to fantastical levels and given more diversity. The "desert" areas are the ones which would most closely resemble IRL caves, with the endolith and cave lake biomes being departures still grounded in the basic rules of cave life. More idea of any kind are appreciated though.>>79148107I have read it and enjoyed it, however its bestiary is very much on the fantastical end. Besides how it explains how to do cave exploration, which is a very excellent guide, the majority of actual monsters it features are very much magical creatures not grounded in the reality of cavern life. A Tachyon Troll does not need to be in a cave, you could place it anywhere in your campaign and it wouldn't feel out of place. Besides being spooky, as caves are spooky, many of them don't feel like "cave monsters" as much as "monsters that happen to live in a cave", if you get what I'm saying. However, the Olm people, Fossil Vampires, and Sonic Pigs for example are ones I feel are good examples of fantastical but recognizably and distinctly cave-themed/adapted. Others like the giant mantis shrimp, gigaferret, ambassodile, arachnopolis etc feel like cop-outs as they're just terrestrial life forms transplanted into caves. I'd rather take pre-existing cavern life and shape them into those niches instead, though given most cave animals were originally terrestrial there's probably a happy medium to be found between my admittedly super-conservative approach and the blatant transplant approach.
>>79147814If there are lots of rivers and lakes at different levels, a common military tactic might be to dig channels and tunnels to flood the enemy parts of the cave.When playing the Exile/Avernum video games by Jeff Vogel/Spiderweb Software, I figured if the Empire on the surface REALLY wanted to defeat their rebellious cave colony at any cost, they could just dig holes from an ocean into the underground. All will drown.
>>79148452>its bestiary is very much on the fantastical endnyart but it's absolutely silly to think that a "realistic" underdark with no magic involved is interesting. Without magic, there are simply insufficient calories in these environments to sustain creatures of threatening size or ability.That's why Veins of the Earth emphasizes food so heavily. It acknowledges that the underground has less available calories per square mile than the Sahara Desert. Hence while magic allows creatures of variety and danger to exist, everything is hungry, and cannibalism is a common aspect of life down there.
>>79148616>nyart but it's absolutely silly to think that a "realistic" underdark with no magic involved is interesting. Without magic, there are simply insufficient calories in these environments to sustain creatures of threatening size or ability.I'm not disagreeing there, I'm saying Veins is, to me, like the garnish rather than the meal. It talks about all the cool weird shit but doesn't provide a foundation on which to make the fantastical stand out. A low-level party is probably going to deal with olmodiles while crossing a river to fight a tribe of hostile cavemen on behalf of the local eyeless mermaid river caravan, only to find out the tribe is just on the run from a hellbat (a bat adapted to the niche of the tiger) which as been methodically picking them off for the past several months. You can go on a vision quest with the shaman to find and kill it, but you know the caravan master will pay extra for every neanderthal head you take. Scenes like this play out across the underdark and are what most locals and explorers are familiar with. They probably don't run into Eigengrau and Radiolara regularly, and when one does its probably a big deal.
>>79147814>>79147816Nice. If you want it to be realistic, it does help to research real life though. We know there is at least one fungus species capable of using radiation as a source of energy, and it has been suggested that it might be capable of also using heat.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiotrophic_fungusSuch fungus could use uranium veins and magma as sources of energy and become the basis for whole biomes. For added fun, integrate a highly developed radiothrophic lifeform with a natural fission reactor, perhaps even inside its body.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_nuclear_fission_reactorElectrothrophs are also observed in nature, but I know nothing of them. Although they could possibly feed upon telluric currents. And perhaps underground lightining created by volcanic eruptions and rain clouds in big enough caves*?https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volcanic_lightning*As observed in the Vehicle Assembly Building and possibly would have happened in the Volkshalle.
>>79148966These are also good ideas. To be clear, I am down with adding magic as well, but I think an underdark which otherwise behaves as realistically as possible would feel more grounded and interesting, and also I feel the unique aesthetics and features of actual cave organisms don't get nearly as much attention as they should. I'd much rather see a scaled-up version of this being herded in a village than a Rothe.
>>79147943>flashbacks to the canyon scene in Peter Jackson's King Kong intensify
Brainstorming 'believable' Underdarks is always fun! Now, before I go forward with this post I just want to say I'm not at all a scientist, so my grasp of what I'm about to say will be one of a layman, and might be incorrect at many points. So if you spot something wrong, please let me know.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IodineOne concept I thought would be pretty cool in an underground setting would be the idea of neoteny in the species that live underground. A sort of forced prepubescent state where the creature hasn't fully metamorphosed into its adult form, but can still reproduce because it's adapted and evolved to live in the harsh environment.Olms and axolotls are examples of this. They show larval characteristics of salamanders, because they are, in a way, still larval. Where this could be interesting, is the introduction of iodine to the underground ecology. This is not an element that is typically found underground, due typically to lack of reliable food sources. In this way, being in a larval form is beneficial to the olm and axolotl, because that means they need to consume less food. (1/2)
>>79150841(2/2) Enough iodine ingested allows the thyroid to produce a hormone, thyroxine, that helps regulate healthy growth in not only amphibians, but humans as well. Not enough iodine ingestion causes dwarfism in humans because of hypothyroidism. This is mirrored in amphibians as well.What is interesting about iodine and neoteny, is that axolotls can be induced to metamorphose by injection of iodine. They will grow to an ‘adult’ form that shares characteristics with an adult tiger salamander, but is distinctly its own species. Where this comes into play as far as a setting goes, I think you can imagine. Now, I’m not saying to make the Drow all child-like, but perhaps an ominous rock has appeared near an Olm city, and the inhabitants are suffering strange mutations that cause them to become large, rage-filled and with a voracious appetite. Perhaps all the species down there are in various forms of neoteny, and as iodine slowly seeps its way into the environment, individuals are metamorphosing into a new, different form that brands them as an outsider from their community.
>>79150841>>79150876>the longer the human PCs are exposed to the water, the more they start to change as well...
>>79147814Slightly off-message for the thread premise but I'd run the exaggerated fecundity of underwet ecologies as reflections of a horrifically fertile overworld. Something like the Elder Continent in Sunless Seas where anyone taking "the waters above" unfiltered finds inanimate like nails or bones stirring (or less fancifully colonized by one of a billion supercharged microbes).The abyss isn't entirely analogous to cave systems but it's interesting to note that there are algaeless flexible corals with protein skeletons instead of calcium. I could see them being an important step in the nutrient filtering process while also acting as slow release nutrient caches which can be swept further downstream as one large unit.
>>79147814Maybe some kind of creature or a singular monster carved out the caverns for some reason? Does that make sense?And if sapient humanoids really lived in such a place, how would they adapt/innovate to handle the challenges?
>>79147814small idea, but I remember that in the Deep sea there are certain tube worms or something that produce food by using volcanic vents that spew shit into the ocean as a source of energy and matter.What if in the lowest cavern systems certain underground lakes(or even seas) have the same kinda volcanic vents but with Giant hyper effective fantasy Tube worms that feed of of Hydro thermal Vents that gove the underground Ecosystem a nice source of energy for the Eco system
>>79148616>That's why Veins of the Earth emphasizes food so heavilyFood and lightThe underground is dark as fuckLight as initiative under Veins of The Earth is amazing
The biggest issue with cave life is calories. After a couple dozen feet into a cave calories dry up. A few options for calorie entry into the underdark:>water, which trickles down with life in it. Filter feeders (like sponges) grow on it>guano is nutrient rich>sulfur (or coal or other mineral) eating bacteria and fungi>adventurers, drow, eccentric empires carrying food down (in the form of themselves if nothing else)>magic (the lazy option) (had an idea for largish algae that eat cosmic background magic like real ones eat light)>I don't have knowledge of this being possible irl but geothermic consuming bacteria>radiation eating fungi like one anon saidUsing all of these gives enough plausibility to have monsters to fight all the way down, in my opinion.
>>79147816Settlements wouldn't be in the "desert." If the group is hunter-gatherers they would be near their game and follow it as nomads. If a group is settling permanently it is because they have developed agriculture either through domesticated animals or crops. Generally this happens first in floodplains as they are incredibly fertile.
>>79147814>that game>fuck that game and that fucking laugh soundbyte
>>79148564>Exile/AvernumI was going to bring these up. It's a well built and thought out cavern ecology and they outright point out many times that the caves can only support the population that they do because of bullshit magic done by a few high level wizards.Glowing ceiling fungi, enough ambient magical radiation to let them farm mushrooms and similar without the sun, harvesting volcanic vents for fertilizer and similar.One of the main civilizations in the series, the Vahnatai, have a cultural habit of spending ~300 years awake and then another ~5-700 years in stasis to allow the cave systems time to recover ecologically.
I ran a campaign a while back based on arx fatalis. Keeping these enormous air vents safe was a big focus for my players since their destruction would lead to the communities up top dying. The upper levels were more normie fantasy stuff. You had people that had effectively carved out small cities there, living off of a mix of blind pigs and insects. Essentially everyone feared the lower areas though.At some point it turned into more of a metro 2033 style experience.
>>79148966this is an excellent post
>>79147985>extra billion yearWould plate tectonics even still be going after that long?
>>79158378Long valley caldera
>>79147814Deeper you go down, the hotter it gets. In some of the deepest mines on earth it can get up to 65C (around 150 burgers) and while that's fairly fucking awful, its also to some extent a source of energy for the right organismsAs for an ecosystem it starts by adding some water, doesn't necessarily have to be a lot but enough to kick things off and some kind of atmosphere, normal levels of CO2 and Oxygen could be way out of whack for normal critters but there may be some anaerobic beasties capable of dealing with lots of CO2 and doing ok. If you're in some really weird areas there may also be a lot of trace gasses in the atmosphere to get really weird with sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and halides which are also quite awful to have a lot to do with in big enough quantities.>For bacteria though, the basic bitch of the animal kingdom- gasses, miners and heat is potentially food>The more the bacteria can eat and process, the better it is for their numbers>After that there's the multi-cell grazing organisms that eat bacteria>Then the things that eat the multi-cellsUntil finally, you end up with something on the apex of the food chain along with various other scavenger species that will nibble on anyone's corpse that's just lying around. Don't forget the diminishing numbers the higher you go into the apex. There may need to be 1000 bacteria for 1 multi-cell grazer, 50 multi-cell grazers for 1 bigger predator and so on.Its about as primal and simple as it gets, with some checks and balances that if you get too much of one, then there's going to be a die-off period as well and everyone on the food chain gets fucked until it can recover, so a lot of this stuff is comparatively fragile, but it may also receive boons from outside sources of potential foodWe call them, 'adventurers and explorers'
>>79158745>minersmeant mineralsThough miners could count later on!
>>79149123As an alternative:>The Deep Rothe was named after the surface worlder beast due to their shared roles as primary herd beast in their ecosystem. >But far from the cow like beasts surface bestiaries depict them as, Deep Rothe are more like slugs or caterpillars. Bristle coated, large grub like body, with a pair of sensory horns on their head, surrounding their mouth and rasping "tongue". >The gooey bristles dry to make a fine thread that is used for textiles or woven into ropes. >The flesh is soft, more like a soft cheese or tofu. Often described as having a milky texture.
>>79147814Based fear and hunger poster.
A fungal based textile would also be interesting, perhaps that would be the primary textile. I imagine the farms for it would be hellish to work on with clouds of spores.
>>79147943Not related but I made a drawing once of a mosquito-riding knight and one with a flea. I don't have them anymore but the idea was nice. Fleas are ridiculously though for their size, if you scale them up they're like a highly mobile tank and they look amazing.
I really like that, I posted this one https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/conceptual_evolution/member-project-diyu-t3513-s20.html in the wildlife wednsday thread, but Diyu woul work in here too.
>>79156001>knowledge of this being possible irl but geothermic consuming bacteriaIt exists in underwater volcanos irl
>>79156001I think it's OK if it's not 100% realistic as long as it's plausible. Hot springs surrounded with life, mushroom environments, algae, etc. there's a way to make it look plausible.
Good thread take a bump
>>79147999They all have whiskers
>>79156001>magic (the lazy option)For settings like D&D where magic is a fundamental part of the world, it's not lazy to take it into account. It follows naturally that, in a magical world, sources of magic would play a role in the ecosystem.Even if you really want to avoid having organisms being direct magophages, the presence of magical ores provides a reason for dwarves and the like to establish settlements for the purpose of resource extraction. The value of the materials can easily justify food imports from the surface, which in turn supports an ecosystem of parasites and scavengers chewing through the refuse.
>>79147943E looks like an x-ray of my ball sack
don't forget cave eels
So pale drow, who use echo location?
>>79166630I don't think it really fits for drow to be so thoroughly adapted to subterranean life. They're foreign colonizers who maintain strong connection to the surface through raiding and the criminal underground, so it wouldn't make sense for them to go full albino.The duergar would be a better fit for that. Since dwarves are already isolationist & subterranean by nature, it flows more logically that the deep dwarves would be the ones who lean the hardest into those adaptations.
The topic is hugeThere would be fertile areas full of mushrooms at the begging, but the deeper the more desolate. No matter what, it gets either dusty dry or is literally river.And it gets warmer and warmer the deeper you go. At 1km depth there might be around 60 celsius already. 500m can be around 30C all the time depending on the geology
can we get a lava river in that thing?
>>79167052>ywn be an olm man living next to a comfy warm pond a mile below the surface
>>79167193It would be a good way to have chemo-phage algaes in there that's for sure, so of course.
>>79167580I am, actually
>>79167052If there's that much heat, then with enough space & water you could easily have full bore inner earth dinosaurs. I wonder to what extent bioluminescence would come into play, and if it could be enough to offset the natural tendency towards blind albinos.
>>79167781is it like an underground hot spring resort with cute grills in swimsuit?
>>79169389Eyeless albino echolocating dinosaurs would be incredibly terrifying.
>>79169501Vulnerable to noise marines, though.
>>79155508seems like the only believable possibilty honestly, we need a heat gradiant to hypotize the start of a trophic chain
I wish I had a mind as sharp as yours. Excellent thread, I envy your players
>>79147814What's a good size for the average cavern?
>Veryovkina Cave (also spelled Verëvkina Cave, Abkhazian: Bepиoвкин иҳaҧы, Russian: Пeщépa Bepёвкинa, Georgian: ვერიოვკინის მღვიმე) is 2,212 meters (7,257 ft) deep, the deepest-known cave on Earth. Its entrance is situated 2,285 meters (7,497 ft) above sea level in Abkhazia, Georgia. The entrance of the cave has a cross section of 3 m × 4 m (9.8 ft × 13.1 ft), and is located in the Arabika Massif, Gagra Mountain Range of the West Caucasus, on the pass between the Krepost and Zont mountains, closer to the slopes of Mt. Krepost.Side profile of the depest cave in the world (2km).If being realistic, it is difficult to justify huge halls deep inside the earth (why would they not collapse), although those would be cool to have. Just corridors gets boring.
>>79173802Even OP acknowledges one of the things that would need to be conceded is geology, its hard to justify
>>79147814>>79147816You forgot all the burrowing monsters like purple and tenebrous worms
>>79175746The issue with the trope of "large burrowing creature excavating tunnels as it moves" runs into the fact that it isn't actually destroying matter, just displacing it. If it is tunneling through, say, solid stone, with acid maybe, where is all the dissolved stone going? The answer is the worm shits out an equivalent volume behind it. So the tunnel becomes either a sea of stagnant worm excretions or dries out into more rock. If it just grinds the rock you get the same thing, but its like rubble/cobblestone instead.
>>79175781>his giant worms' digestive system is not a portal to another dimensionngmi
>>79175781What about two-headed worms so long they reach the surface?
>>79175982anon, I just want to say I appreciate the time you took out of your day to draw that graphic.
>>79175781>So the tunnel becomes either a sea of stagnant worm excretions or dries out into more rockBoth of which are much easier for some industrious race to clear away.
>>79176054>>79175982Thank you for the appreciation AnonI like the idea of sapients manipulating giant monsters to accomplish engineering tasks.
>fearandhungerposting in /tg/based
>>79175982>so long they reach the surface?Square Cube Law. We all hate it.
>>79175982Why does it need to be two headed, the second head in that picture is functionally an anus.
>>79173802Depends on what you do with the corridors imo
>>79175781>equivalent volumeThis is not a given.If it's being broken down through acids, it's likely to have a greater volume because it has ceased to be highly compressed rock to become worm sludge. If the worm is magic, or is chewing through softer sediments then the worm could pass a lesser volume as dense pellets.
>>79179616* To see ("see") both ways, and signal to the player that it does so; it should not be blind to what goes on on the ground and in sky* To have hot makeout sessions with itself* The Push-Pull of Doctor Dolittle is an underrated creature* To move in reverse, because I could not take the 30s to confirm that IRL worms can move in reverse just fine anyway despite having clear anterior and posterior
>>79183766Also* to be able reverse the digestion and start defecating through the head that just recently was digging, as a defense mechanism if something below ground threatens it
>>79166941I'm not really taking FR drow here, but new kind of drow.
>>79147814>realistic underdarkCtrl+f cold0 resultsSounds like some niggers never even heard of cave frostbite.
>>79185691>cave frostbiteI google "cave frostbite" and get nothing.> https://www.google.com/search?q=%22cave+frostbite%22I would assume this kind of thing happens at surface level caves where the cave is cold because the surrounding weather is cold, so irrelevant to an underdark-like environment.Meanwhile I google about temperature at the bottom of caves and get pic.> https://www.researchgate.net/publication/260178489_Evaporative_water_loss_spatial_distributions_and_survival_in_white-nose-syndrome-affected_little_brown_myotis_A_model/downloadIt is 4C warm at 100m depth.Not to mention, if the underdark is eg 5 km further below, it will be genuinely hot.>As a general rule, the crust temperature is rising with depth due to the heat flow from the much hotter mantle; away from tectonic plate boundaries, temperature rises in about 25–30 °C/km (72–87 °F/mi) of depth near the surface in most of the world.
>>79158378What manner of rock formation is this?
>>79147814The biomass would still be a fraction of that on the surface.Everything there would be lean, small, and will likely have VERY slow metabolismYou'll need new energy sources to beef shit up.Chemosynthesis, radiosythesis, and potentially infrared-based photosynthesis.The creatures of this world will be bizarre and terrifying.
>>79185691Never heard of that but hypothermia is a major threat because caves get really wet.
>>79171066Considering how fucked over humans are by their reliance on resource intensive senses in a resource starved environment the lack of evolved countermeasures could be the only thing going for sight. Noise traps, stink clouds and thermo-gunk cloud all the more practical underdark senses but so long as you have a lantern lit there's nothing especially out to snuff it other than incidental environmental factors.
>>79186427That's at Crowley Lake in California. Long Valley Caldera dumped a load of hot ash on the area about three quarters of a million years ago, snow settled on top and melted from the heat of the fresh ash and the meltwater percolated down into and circulated through the ash, cementing it in place along the pathways the water took like concrete while the less consolidated tuff was eroded around them.
>>79147814>salmonsnakehate that motherfucker
>>79147814Say you're a member of one of those Underdark civilizations, and you wanted to build a castle/fort. How would the design of it change from a similar structure on the surface, and why would said changes be needed?
>>79193771Presumably everyone down there is really good at digging through mere rock, and they are likely to approach your fort from above and below, not just from the same vertical level, so you might want to build a metal cube as your fort - sealed in all directions.
>>79147814the underdark is Qlipot. Nothing sort of like you described.
>>79193771What >>79193824 mentioned is the big thing, the other way to mitigate that issue is to have your entire castle/fort be floating, obviously this would be extremely difficult to do and take a lot of magical know-how but an entire foundation of metal would also be extremely difficult. You can also just accept that you can't really stop burrowers in which case the next weak point would be things crawling on the ceiling dropping down. To solve that you would probably build your fortress as a pillar going from floor to ceiling. If you block off the cavern entirely you could also charge tolls for passage though that is likely to cause conflict.
>>79193771Why would you build a normal-looking castle when you have a rocky ceiling overhead? Giant spiders and other monstrosities could just crawl over you.
>>79194217because the artist didn't think too hard about it
are Drow still gonna be australian?
>>79198504>Drow still gonna be australian?Since when is that a thing?
>>79193771you would just claim a cave/ cave system and put guards and fortifications in all the passages leading in and out.you accurately explore and map the surrounding caves, gaining an huge advantage over anyone new to the areayou pick a tunnel that leads far from here and doesnt touches any nearby cave beside the one you directly control, so you have an easily defendable escape/trade routeyou dig in the cave walls to create more rooms in that perfect location and to make the floor all smooth and walkable instead of a slippery parkour route, and use the stone you extraft this way to build walls and fortificationsyou prepare quick safe routes for scouts to move around the area, in order to notice approaching hostilesyou divert and channel underground rivers to turn them into sources of energy, travel routes and defenses (an army is approaching? just flood them from behind your walls)and once you have done all this and your population grows, you expand in any direction you want. just continue building fortifications to control the passages.
>>79194217What if there's an inverted castle above it?>>79199865>live "down under">covered in spiders>inherently evilThey've always been australian.
>>79147814Maybe it could be the literal underworld?
>>79147814theres a speculative-evolution project that kind of goes over this, cant remember its name but its based in some fuck huge cavern in china.
>>79147814>more robust ecologyGunna take some massive handwaiving to replace a power source like the sun.
>>79204666I like this idea. Maybe there are native flora that get sustenance from dead souls. Like siphoning off some energy or maybe even catching them to devour, depending on the setting's theology.
>>79194138Even then you probably want to worry about people dropping in from above.
>>79175781It could also release gasses that vent to the surface or form the basis of the atmosphere, or liquids that drain out. You'd have to handwave the chemistry, since what this thing would be doing is the equivalent of unsetting and unmixing concrete. But a big part of this sort of thing is kicking the "it's basically magic" down far enough and limiting it enough that it doesn't impact the consistency of the world.
>>79202585>>79202578>>79199865Perhaps they should be pale and eyeless too, instead of black and red eyed?
>>79155508Beat me too it. You could have hot springs or volcanic gasses feeding bacterial or fungal mats, and perhaps other "flora" of the ecosysytem. You'd have things nibbling and grazing on the bacterial mats, and then predators eating on those.The Drow would perhaps find some way to cultivate these things in an organized manner, or just go to the surface to retrieve more biomass like leafcutter ants. You could have Drow emerging from the caves at night to gather wood and detritus to feed to their mushroom crops
>>79207913>wood elves fucking hate drow because they try to clearcut at night
>>79147814I always liked the idea of glow-shrooms. Is this the best method for lighting an underground city?
>>79211487Either that or mysterious glowing blue/purple crystals.
>>79211487the question often is "what are the mushrooms eating" but you're likely going to have to resort to magical thinking to deal with the oxygen problem anyway, so it's as good a solution as any. or go the shadow elves route like >>79211675
>>79211599The gigaferret is cool but I get what OP means, you could easily place it in a forest/swamp/mountains/whatever and it wouldn't feel out of place. Its a monster that could be anywhere that happens to be in this cave, not a true "cave monster"The Civilopede is by far the best entry in the book though.
>>79211789>what are the mushrooms eatingResidue from Snotties
>>79211826Is that a reference? Because I don’t get it.
>>79211675I prefer sonoluminescence. Some heartbeat-gong sense out pulses of brighter light or a ultrahigh pitch causes a dim glow while setting your teeth on edge. Anechoic walls and resonant arrangements could work as dimmer switches.
>>79205844Radioactives. Radioactives everywhere. tfw your rogue planet just so happened to accrete from the debris of a ludicrously metallic supernova
>>79212517no, snotties are real
>>79212548I like the image of a bunch of players finally finding their way to the surface only to discover that they are on a rogue planet and there is no light.
>>79217010Not even star light?
>>79147814The underdark is explicitly *not* a naturally occurring cave system though
>>79218220And? Why not have both?
>>79147814Dungeoneer's Survival Guide covers much of this
>>79147814In my setting, I decided I didn't want an "underdark" as we all know it. I wanted an "underworld" of unrealistically expansive cave systems and artificial chambers that is mostly dark and lifeless. No evil opposites races (drow, duergar, etc), just aberrations (mind flayers, beholders, etc), undead, and goblins (near the surface) and trogs (lower down and largely inactive). It mostly exists inside and under mountains, but can be anywhere around the water table or higher. I don't think about it much beyond that. I don't explain or even think about where exactly the aberrations come from or how they sustain themselves; they're supposed to be mysterious and alien. There are some mushroom forests and shit like that in a few places, but those are exceptions.
>>79217850Not even. It's just black.
bumping a good thread
>>79147814How much of the underdark cave system should be submerged?
>>79185426Drow who are falmer?
>>79229550>100%So Drow should be amphibious?
>>79147814Germans' take on Dark Elves are unironically the best: pallidly pale and bad eyes.
>>79231339They should be good swimmers.
>>79147872Im still confused and amazed at how similar the olm and the axolotl look alike.
>>79150876This sounds like it could be a great basis for goblins as subterranean creatures, with hobgoblins being the iodine effected ones.
>>79231339Nah just really strong swimmers who live on the underground shores of the Underdark. The Underdark Proper is run by Kuo-Toa.
>>79181674at first glance this looked like a bunch of squat statues were facing a cluster of eggs
>>79235646Huh, you're right. Neat, cool idea.
what kind of fucked up deep-dweller humanoids can i make from this thread's ideas?
>>79239835look at all the IRL cave adapted animals posted and extrapolate from there
>>79240382horrid little pale neotenised humans who undergo a gross metamorphosis into bigger, nastier versions of themselves when they get ahold of surface-food, the growth spurt sparks an intense hunger in them driving them to either cannibalise their fellows or go the surface and devour whatever they can catch.
>>79235582What would bugbears be then?
>>79147814What inspiration can we take from Pokémon regarding what creatures we could find underground?
>>79158745At least one person on earth has jacked off to this
>>79249517What? Why the Hell would they do that?
Unrelated to the topic of realism, but the race of the Pale Ones of Agartha from Dominions 5 is a really amazing work of worldbuilding. That pic is just a glimpse of it sadly, but definitely go and check out that extremely /tg/ game if you haven't already. I no longer can picture the Underdark without Pale Ones personally, they're too awesome.
>>79250405Agartha is a pretty neat faction and I personally love to use Dominions as inspiration for my games.
>>79147814>SalmonsnakeThat doesn't look much like a dragon though.
>>79253578Where does the name “bugbear” even come from? It seems so misleading.
>>79256067When I was a kid reading the Drizzt books, having never actually played DnD, I always imagined bugbears as bipedal bears with the heads of flies.
>>79256067from around the 16th century; "bug" here is derived from the middle english "bugge," roughly equivalent to the modern "bogey" (i.e. boogeyman). and then "bear" is either meant figuratively as a large, frightening animal; someone who is ill-mannered; or even more broadly, just a mostly-meaningless phrase ender. basically it's just supposed to be a big scary thing, synonymous with goblin or evil spirit
>>79212517>>79213084Snottites are chemotrophic bacterial colonies.https://youtu.be/oHye6-S3Mg0
>>79249517I'm about to make it 2
>>79256299>basically it's just supposed to be a big scary thing, synonymous with goblin or evil spiritWhy not just say that then?
You could always scale up the Movile cave. Or use something similar to the hydrothermal vents where chemosynthetic bacteria are the base of the food chain.
>>79260793Would the geological activity needed for that even allow for a stable cave system though?
>>79147814Besides dwarves, drow, and the other "classics" what are some good race choices for such an environment and why?
>>79266011* DF-style <species>-men. Mushroom men, Olm men, Cave fish men, etc.* DF-style demons. In the deepest pits of the cave, there is an inexhaustible swarm of demons of varied shape, who for some reason cannot break through the rock themselves, but might be released if one digs through veins of adamantium to greedily so it opens a passage into their home.* Cave vampires, of a strain of vampirism that is especially sensitive to sunlight, so that even the slightest light originating from the Sun will obliterate them, so they live underground where there is none of that. They might have lived on surface while alive.* Civilized cave humans. A mining colony, with periodic contact with the above world. Penal colony?
>>79147814>>79147816I would also suggest that much like the deep sea you can find "oasis" of life around volcanic water vents, where great chemotrophic bacterial mats feed a larger ecosystem
>>79269187Never played that game. Isn’t it nearly impossible though?
>>79273148No. Its difficulty is overblown. The hardest thing about it is the bad UI.
>>79275479This, unless things have changed rapidly over the past 5 years, the simplest cage traps that cost fuck all to make will defeat most assailants. And even the rest can be walled in, which any dwarf can do.
>>79250405Agartha has always been and will always be my favorite faction from Dominions.Praise the First Olm.
My main cave race looks like scaleless upright-walking utahraptors with heads like >>79165846, long neck included. They're the descendants of intelligent dinosaurs that went extinct on the surface, and are the only intelligent race that can practice witchcraft with no risk of turning into a horrific monster because their race specialized for magic rather than technology.
>>79275611Pity they get destroyed in the third age.
>>79277864Destroyed by what? And how?
>>79277864They got what they deserved
>>79150841>One concept I thought would be pretty cool in an underground setting would be the idea of neoteny in the species that live underground. A sort of forced prepubescent state where the creature hasn't fully metamorphosed into its adult form, but can still reproduce because it's adapted and evolved to live in the harsh environmentThere we go. Rationale for Lolis of the Underdark.
>>79281194And they say /tg/ is dead.
>>79281194Albino lolis of the underdark sounds pretty good to me.Tying back to axotls, they could be lead by a single onee-san who has metamorphosized due to having eaten enough mamalian thyroid glands.As a result, they have a mutualistic relationship with Illithid, as they both want grown humans to eat specific organs from.
>>79147836>translucent critters>only thing you see is a floating wrigling spineBrutal.
>>79282130Cute Ilya. Which Servant is she using a card of? And is that snake attached to her?
You could have an ebb and flow, something like tides, based on the chemical processes of interrelated species. Like an oscillating fungal/algae bloom, where one species metabolism may act as a kind of heat exchange while producing a gas that leads to its own decline while helping the proliferation of another. like weather, or a giant fart.
>>79285096Poor kitty. Is it okay?
>>79283996The more I see of the creatures from underground and the monsters from the deep ocean, the more I'm convinced those places are hell and need to be exterminated.
>>79285096That's pretty cool, like some kind of seasons?
>>79289097Building on that, the algae could have different colors, or even be biolumiscense. The Rivers of Red, the Ligh forest, the Green Tide...
>>79249517well its vore so most definiatly
>>79282130Based. Do you have any other pictures like picture related please?
>>79285096Some critters could have evolved to cull or tend those flora to maintain the environment, with some predators recognizing this role and leaving those alone. More intelligent beings such as Duergar could act as custodians like underdark druids or rangers, traveling and tending to the balance of this process.
>>79250405>>79275611I always stayed away from Dominions games because they looked dreadful. Which ones are good and worth playing?
>>79296078The five its the best. Tough if you find them dreadful, Conquest of elysium are also fine and a lot more fast and managable, tough not easy.
>>79290137Vore is the most cringe of fetishes. Well, one of them at least.
>>79147814Which existing setting's variation of the Underdark do you like best and why?
>>79303205Exile/Avernum, it was one of my first exposures to the idea and it set the tone for me. The amount of worldbuilding that goes into explaining just how this huge series of caves and caverns manages to support as much life as it does is impressive, and the games themselves are good fun.
>>79303425Interesting, is there a decent wiki or something similar that goes into more details about this please?
>>79305562Kinda https://encyclopedia.ermarian.net/wiki/Main_PageBut the games are still, in this day and age, shareware off the main site. Go play them.
>>79296078Play hotseat mode against yourself.
>>79308309Oh, they’re free? Should they be played in a particular order?
>>79309410>hotseat modeWhat mode?
>>79314819The game's UI is from the 90s -- so is its multiplayer system.
Feel free to continue this thread in the wild life wedsnday one anon, I love the uderdark.
>>79312347The order they were made in, chronologically, start at the first.>>79314819>>79315203Man hotseat mode... Now I'm having flashbacks of playing disciples 2 and alpha centauri with the roomies.On that note, Civ 2 test of time had the fantasy worldsetting of midgard that had an awesome underground layer populated mostly by goblins and undead.Props for the undersea and cloud layers to, was fun times.
>>79147814What is a good reason that drow skin would be darker than pure white, let alone like picture related, if they live underground.
>>79321906Maybe they live in a part of the cave that is really cold for some reason, and darker skin absorbs more heat. Yeah, weak reason, I know.More plausibly you may bank on drow being newcomers to the underdark, then they are not actually adapted to the underdark at all - they were dark already on the surface.
>>79324715According to D&D lore, Caerdron (or something like that) cursed them.
>>79324987>D&D lore,Which book?
Would it be stupid to have underground creatures survive off fish that flow in from above ground?
>>79324715That makes a certain degree of sense. Especially if they have long lifespans, it could slow the rate of evolution.
>>79326440Well, if there’s a river that flows underground at some point, that could certainly supplement things at the least.
>natural disaster as earth suddenly splits open wider than the grand canyon>even in midday no light can pierce the bottom of the gorge>suddenly creatures can be seen climbing out of the depthswhat are the worst things you could encounter in the underdark?
>>79314819basically multiplayer but on single PC
>>79321906magic, because that's how actually is
>>79333311So, does magic affect the skin like UV light? Because that’s basically what you’re saying here.
>>79321906They aren't actually adapted to subterranean life.They're elven exiles and despite recent changes are still predominately inclined towards surface living. This is part of their angst and resentment towards the other elves. >>79334957Nah, sometimes magic is.
>>79335179Okay, I have to admit that that version of the image isn't one that I've seen before.
>>79173802Would work with glacial chasms, but otherwise it is tough to justify.
>>79147814How does picture related fare as an Underdark monster?
>>79340573Thematically it makes sense, it disguises itself as a stalactite or stalagmite or whatever. Aesthetically its just "generic monster", probably made by magic or some shit. I'd make it a barnacle.
>>79281016Very basically, Agarthans came into being when the Earth fucked a giant salamander. Shortly before this, something shitty happened and left behind the insane omnicidal ghosts of a bunch of dead gods. The current chief deity need somewhere to put them, so they stuck the spirits inside a prison in the center of the world made off titan corpses (indestructible) and sealed the prison shut with the souls of a fuckton of innocents. The Agarthans had strong souls and were already there, and thus got the honors. The Earth was not happy about this, but sucks to suck. A long time afterwards, the cavemen the Agarthans kicked out of their land evolved and started moving back in. Agarthans had ironworking, waterbreathing, perfect darkvision, the ability to grow into giants, and standing alliances with murderous cave beasts, mind controlling salamanders, and 2 elemental lords (1 of who's children was already kicking human ass), but still somehow managed to get absolutely destroyed by bronze age human tribesmen every battle they fought. Some Agarthan fucktards decided it would be a good idea to break all their alliances and open up the omnicidal spirit prison in the middle of their capitol so they could use the souls of the innocents as reinforcements. It made things much, much worse. Later it turned out that the humans loved Agarthan culture and were more than willing to integrate as a servant class for the privilege of worshiping the few Agarthans left alive. Which made the Agarthans feel really fucking stupid. Unfortunately, they seem to have gotten cursed by hanging around the open prison of beings too evil and powerful to banish to the Underworld, throw into Hell, chain in Tartarus, or cast into the dread Void and they all turned impotent or something. It's never really explained, but despite massive numbers of humans and automata trying desperately to get them to have babies and not get themselves killed a lot fewer of them seemed to reach old age.
C&C requested:(p.1)A Blind Cave Ogor is a solitary cave-dwelling creature comprised of a massive mouth, nose, and ears atop two single-toed feet. Cave Ogors have calloused skin, sharp teeth, and a thick skull. Blind Cave Ogors spend much of their sedentary lives motionless, listening for prey or mates to enter their territory. When their sensitive ears pick up the sound of echoing footsteps, the ogor stirs. It snaps out of a tired stupor and begins to sniff. A blind cave ogor can smell most prey from a distance of 100 feet and gauge it's distance. The ogor can differentiate between the smell of prey to the smell of other cave ogors. If the Ogor is still digesting a previous meal or recovering from combat, it will remain motionless and face a cavern wall. Mosses grow on their thick hides, obscuring them from behind in the low light. If the Ogor is hungry, it will begin to charge in the direction of its prey. The ogor uses the sound of its prey retreating and the smell of fear to hunt. If the prey is outrun, it is quickly devoured whole by the ogor if small enough. Otherwise it is bitten until broken down into swallowable chunks. A blind cave ogor's stomach is disproportionately small, and can only hold two average human sized meals at a time (or one horse sized meal). Ogors digest slowly, a swallowed PC is incapacitated (but not dead) for several hours and can be saved if thrown up or cut out of the beast. If the quarry decides to turn and fight rather than run, the ogor will stop short and smell its challenger. The Ogor considers any confrontation as a challenge to its territory. The Ogor then lets out a guttural growl and shouts to test the challenger's mettle. Adventures who are shouted at must succeed a will save or become panicked, collapsing or fleeing. A failed save results in the ogor resuming the hunt. A success begins a territory duel.
>>79342744When two male cave ogors meet, the cavern shakes. The ogors use their thick skulls as battering rams to bludgeon its challenger. Blind cave ogors rarely bite in territory duels. Once an Ogor is reduced below 50% of its hit points, it will retreat. The Ogor then concedes a portion of its territory. Ogors occasionally patrol their territory, sniffing and tasting unique objects on their route. The number of patrols a cave ogor leads fluctuates based upon it's meal frequency. Ogors expand their territoral boundaries with each patrol. Female cave ogors are smaller and grow more moss on their hides. Other differences include a more docile nature, the preference to scavenge remains rather than hunt whenever possible, and a nomadic lifestyle. Female cave ogors give live birth to between 1-3 juvenile cave ogors. These creatures instinctually follow their mothers until adulthood. Male and female juvenile cave ogors prefer to scavenge meals with their mother until the males have grown. -thats all i got so far, thoughts?
>>79342760>and grow more moss on their hides.Is that an inherent difference or do they just take care of it better?
>>79194217I think Menzoberanzan is described as a city carved out a flat top of a fallen Stalactite.
>>79266011M Y C O N I D SCommunicate via sharing sensory hallucinations and spores what bring them on.
>>79282130>Albino lolis of the underdark sounds pretty good to meThat way Drowtales lies.
>>79343497>DrowtalesI remember that webcomic. Is it still going strong?
>>79334957Magic because they were cursed to have skin like that. It's all.
>>79340774we half life now
>>79346041Why would anyone make a curse like that? Seems pretty and arbitrary.
>>79343497Tell us about drowtales, anon
>>79348080They are cursed to become niggers. Is there fate worse then that?
>>79348688there is a cute boy stripper but apparently he shows up on one page and the rest is devoted to w*men.
>>79321906Due to the background radiation of the caves they live in, drow have evolved increased melanin not just in their skin but muscles and bones as well, due to radiation penetrating deeper than uv rays. Basically just think of humanoid silkie chicken
>>79147814For drow, dwarves or pretty much any underground race how might they compensate for a lack vitamin D from the sun?
How about this as a foundation of a cave ecosystem: Bacteria that do something similar to photosynthesis, but with geothermal heat instead of light and silicon oxide (quartz) instead of CO2. They grow on silicon-rich rocks that are exposed to both heat and water. They produce silanes, instead of sugar and release oxygen as a byproduct.
>>79352317It's a horomone man. They can just have a different chemical regulate calcium uptake
>>79284953That's Ibuki-Douji, who is some sort of conceptual child of Shuten-Douji and Yamata no Orochi (the eight-headed snake yokai)
>>79353708Nice! I can't wait until she comes out for the NA version.