d100 Acanthus's Truths

d100 – Acanthus’s Truths: Living in Holoth

From the scrollshelves of the sage, d100 Acanthus’s Truths about living in Holoth. As the party begins to plan to advance on Holoth, whether openly or covertly, it pays for them to try and find out a little more about the city.  Unfortunately, few folks have been to Holoth and come out without being affected, so information about the place, and the Drow in general, is sketchy and potentially a little unreliable. However, some facts have emerged over time, and although they can sound a “little vague” what’s listed below is essentially true. Characters can gain some of these pieces of information by speaking with appropriate residents of other Underworld cities or intelligent creatures they meet on the way to Holoth itself. As GM, use them to add flavor to any encounters with Drow at any point in the adventure.

  1. To all Drow you are strange, exotic or plain weird. Try to use this to “blend in” with other visitors.


  1. Never carry more than half your maximum limit, because at some point you will have to run, climb, swim, or even fly.


  1. Promise as little as possible to any Drow; deliver at least twice as much as they expect you to do.


  1. Drow never give outsiders compliments. If you receive anything like one, it will be followed by a request at best and a demand at worst.


  1. Drow never give outsiders apologies. If you receive one, it will come with an excuse why you are actually at fault and what compensation is appropriate.


  1. Learn to tie knots, in order to restrain creatures. More importantly, learn to untie knots for if – when – you are restrained. Consider these both practically and metaphorically.


  1. Never open a door without inspecting it fully. Look for anything that will secretly indicate it has been opened and then leave it exactly as you found it. If you can’t do that, think twice about using it.


  1. The Drow delight in putting pressure on outsiders, but ensure you can act on what is important instead of what is made to seem urgent.


  1. Drow much prefer items to money. A well-made or interesting piece of equipment can literally be worth twice its weight in gold.


  1. Drow consider those who have equipment that allows them to live to tomorrow to be wealthier than those who have money in their pocket today, whatever the relative worth.


  1. Position and power are worth more to a Drow than wealth and belongings. The latter come automatically with the former and so aren’t sought in their own right.


  1. It is much easier to get into something than out of it in Holoth. Always plan your escape before your entrance.


  1. Show a Drow just enough of anything to keep them interested. Only then will they come back to find out more. If a Drow feigns disinterest, they probably intend to take whatever it is from you.


  1. A Drow should neither like you nor fear you, because that makes them feel weak. Respect, given grudgingly, is the best for which you should hope.


  1. The Drow are adept at passing the blame; even when something isn’t your fault, expect to be told you are responsible, both for the problem and the solution.


  1. A Drow displaying sustained anger and outrage can be much less feared than one who goes silent and seems to allow you to have your point of view.


  1. A Drow that is strict with themselves and forgiving of others can never be trusted. Eventually their self-frustration will be taken out on someone else.


  1. When a Drow challenges you with an insult or highlights “your faults” it is always best to agree today and put them right tomorrow.


  1. When evil combats what it perceives as evil, no good can come of it. This sums up the Drow entirely.


  1. Never hope for approval from a Drow. If you receive it, watch your back from thereon in. “A Matron’s approval is as an assassin’s dagger in a dark alley,” goes the saying.


  1. In order to achieve your aims in Holoth, consider how you will do so enough times for the many bad ideas you’ll have, all of which will fail, to be superseded finally by the one good one that will succeed.


  1. It is the nature of Holoth that a day’s work will grant you an hour’s progress. The exception is the single sentence or word that can mean your entire life is over in a moment.


  1. Hoping to calm the chaos of Holoth will drive induce insanity more quickly than the chaos itself, which seems to have a history of repeating if you live long enough.


  1. If any Drow asks more than three questions of you, either you’re in trouble now or will be in worse trouble later.


  1. In a society where it is best to answer “Yes, and…” to any request, “No, but…” marks you out as a troublemaker.


  1. To a Drow, especially one of senior rank, a loan is a donation, a donation is a gift, a gift is a bribe, a bribe is paying a fine, and paying a fine is hiding an admission of guilt of something worse.


  1. If a Drow agrees with you today, they will oversee your death tomorrow.


  1. Make breakfast your heartiest meal of the day; it should be a celebration that you were not murdered as you slept, and it may be the last food you’ll ever eat anyway.


  1. Whilst most Drow simply follow orders, a great deal of conventional wisdom exists in Holoth, meaning even the most dull-witted of guards is probably correct much of the time about virtually all they say.


  1. Ensure any attacking strike you make is straight away from you, never a curve that can be deflected back at you. Many Drow are extremely good at parrying rather than taking the full force of a blow.


  1. When trading, look as much as you can like the owner of the item you want.


  1. What you consider to be your strengths in the Overworld can easily become weaknesses in the Underworld. Even your goodness quickly becomes a burden in a city like Holoth.


  1. Adopt whatever you need to in order to survive in Holoth; be prepared to be hated and shunned for those traits and characteristics elsewhere.


  1. Gauge the situation at least twice before you act the one time at your disposal.


  1. Rein in your desires and concentrate on your undertaking. The latter has a better chance of being hidden than the former.


  1. Rest whenever possible, but be wary of sleep. Holoth lives and breathes ceaselessly, something you are unlikely to do without great care.


  1. Try not to borrow anything from anyone, so you don’t collect obligations. If you do borrow something, return it in better condition that you took it. Replace it for a new version if at all possible.


  1. Remember the Drow can talk and be understood even in the loudest of situations, so long as they have at least one hand free.


  1. Never raise your voice. Drow can hear you better than you think, plus it will sound like you are challenging the listener which may draw a crowd to the situation.


  1. Holoth’s cavern is essentially the same temperature at all times. If you notice a change, something is almost certainly wrong.


  1. If you can, record every conversation with any Drow as precisely as you can. No dark elf ever admits to saying anything to anyone and in Holoth, their word will be taken above yours, at least in public.


  1. If you think you see something out of the corner of your eye, you almost certainly did. Don’t go and check, because there are almost definitely at least two of whatever it was.


  1. If a Drow tells you that you are doing something wrong, they are almost certainly telling the truth. If they tell you how to do it correctly, almost certainly lying.


  1. Drow will stare at you because you are an oddity. But it is unlikely to be specifically personal, as all non-Drow are considered oddities.


  1. Don’t say too much, do too much, or appear to be more than you are. The balance of “just enough” is your best chance of survival.


  1. Never ever be surprised if the way to achieve your aim in Holoth is something you wouldn’t have considered in 100 years. Be prepared to try something entirely unexpected.


  1. Once your objectives are discovered by one or more Drow, be prepared to become part of their plans, often in unforeseen ways.


  1. Drow will never be as good as you hope they might be, and many will be much worse than you can imagine them to be.


  1. Try and maintain the deepest core of what you think, even as you find yourself having to change everything you do. What you believe may well ebb and flow between these two limits.


  1. Unless or until you can withstand poison, never eat more than three bites of food offered to you by a Drow. Make each one smaller than the last.

  1. When asking for help, the most that you offer today as reward will be the least you have to offer tomorrow.


  1. For every nine steps it takes for something good to develop, it takes just one step for it to go bad.


  1. If you reach an obstacle, the worst thing you can do in Holoth is stop. Even drawing breath can leave you at a disadvantage. Move backwards at the very least, to discover that different path.


  1. Nightmares may not be what they seem – some are probably premonitions, possibly even warnings sent by the enemy of your enemy.


  1. However little you think of the Drow, the least of them thinks even less of you.


  1. You will gain much from your time in Holoth if you think about what the Drow believe is true, even if you’ll never believe what they think is the truth.


  1. While what a Drow believes and why is fluid, how and when it is used to get them where they want to be is almost guaranteed to be inflexible.


  1. If you cannot say why what you did yesterday, what you’ve done today and what you’ll do tomorrow will help you reach your objectives in Holoth, you’ll never succeed. The Drow will soak up your time if they can.


  1. There is no easy path in Holoth; everything is hard work. If something looks easy or simple, it is a trap.


  1. You’ll never be so interesting to 99% of Drow that they will remember much more than what you are, what you wore, and whether you were respectful. It is rare for any of them to recall more than one thing you might say to them in passing.


  1. Watching ordinary Drow for any length of time will teach you much about fitting in and a quite a lot about bending rules.


  1. Drow sell grudges and slights like any other commodity, especially if the buyer is someone who can exact better revenge against you than the seller.


  1. For the Drow, money doesn’t solve problems. “Things” – items, slaves, creatures – provide solutions, because the right “thing” to the right Drow has greater worth.


  1. Put ideas that are strange, unusual, unlikely or seemingly impractical to one side rather than dismissing them. The whole of Holoth regularly runs on the strange, unusual, unlikely or seemingly impractical.


  1. The walls of Holoth are steeped in the souls of ancient residents. When you face a problem, finding a way to commune with them – dreams, magic, direct intervention – may move you forward, at a price of course.


  1. No offer of help is ever so useful that you will be the one who gains most from it.


  1. Being like a Drow doesn’t mean you’ve failed, bit if you like being a Drow, you are lost.


  1. The most successful Drow are always prepared to take one step further along even the most dreadful path than those around them. Compared to you, that is every Drow.


  1. Never be surprised if all that was admired and loved yesterday is abhorred and loathed tomorrow, and vice versa. A day can be a long time in Drow history.


  1. Behave as if all hand crossbows always have a bolt ready. Behave as if all crossbow bolts are coated with poison.


  1. All Drow have at least one secret they keep hidden and two they know about other people.


  1. A deal with a Drow is really with their family. They aren’t always to the benefit of both these parties, in which case choose who you are dealing with carefully.


  1. Relying on what you believe, think or understand will leave you at risk. Only knowing for sure keeps you alive in Holoth.


  1. The youngest, lowest Drow in Holoth knows more about the city than the oldest, most experienced outsider ever will, so choose your sources of information carefully.


  1. Almost all Drow can be disarmed by you taking the blame at the same time as giving them credit. But it will only work on them once for certain; further attempts may well be seen through.


  1. The less you need to get by, the more likely you are to thrive in Holoth. Word soon spreads of any outsider in need of something rarely seen in the city.


  1. Even when you think you are ready, spend another hour preparing. If nothing else, the time should be used to consider all the extremely improbable things that could happen.


  1. Always have a little more at your disposal than is strictly necessary – time, space, materials, options. Holoth has a way of placing unexpected demands on outsiders and these extras will give you breathing room.


  1. Nothing in Holoth is perfect and you will quickly find that your plans, and the execution of them, are no different. But DO always aim for the very best you can achieve.


  1. Always have at least one fewer objective than there are members of your party. Naturally, this means you should never attempt anything on your own.


  1. Whatever you may suddenly find yourself expected to do because of a Drow, never lose sight of your original aim. At worst, work on the two of them side-by-side, so nothing gets forgotten.


  1. The less conspicuous a person looks, the more likely it is they will make a sound ally. Leave flamboyance to the Drow unless you WANT to be marked out for attention.


  1. The only deal or agreement that counts to a Drow is the one that leaves them in the best position once it is concluded. All others are simply stepping stones to this.


  1. Beware shaking hands in Holoth. Every Drow house has a way of doing so to identify allies and enemies.


  1. Get to know the various insignia used for each house, role and rank. “Promoting” a Drow is seen as just as insulting as belittling their achievements. Never wear anything that looks like such insignia.


  1. Breakfast’s ally may be dinner’s antagonist. The opposite is equally true.


  1. When you begin to feel unsure about a situation, pull its component strands as far apart as possible. This will almost always allow you to deal with the central problem more straightforwardly.


  1. It isn’t difficult to sow dissent between Drow. It is difficult to make much from the ensuing confusion and chaos.


  1. Take whatever you’re doing in Holoth with the greatest seriousness. If nothing else, concentrate utterly on staying alive and invisible.


  1. A day without a Drow speaking with you means either you’ve integrated into the city well whilst being sufficiently insignificant or you are being followed at all times and are considered a “person of interest”.


  1. As you go about your tasks in Holoth, think about what might have made achieving them more straightforward, then try and find a way to secretly store items for the next time you or someone else is undertaking the same actions in the city.


  1. Learn how to get lost in the city, as this will be the way to lose anyone who is following you.


  1. Don’t be surprised if Drow children take a step back from you as you pass; equally, don’t be surprised if they kick you in the ankle and run off.


  1. It is sometimes difficult to judge properly what a “day” consists of in Holoth. It is perhaps best to consider it a period where the end finds you in a better position than the beginning.


  1. With many of your actions, there is a balance to be struck between the frustrations experienced in undertaking them and the genuine desirability of completing them.


  1. With any plan you make, try and achieve its aim with fewer elements than you assign to its completion.


  1. It is often worth trying something even if you know it will fail. If nothing else, it’ll remove the option from your list of possibilities, plus it may act as a smokescreen if the Drow see or become aware of your failure.


  1. Before you start on your plan, it is always worth asking around if someone else has tried it before, is currently trying it, or has indicated they are going to try it in the near future. Turn to them, if possible and beneficial.


  1. Allow someone with more experience of Holoth to try and unstitch your plan. Either they will fail, in which case you have a sound plan, or they will succeed and may then help you put it back together more robustly.


  1. On any given day it is possible to be wrong about everything in Holoth. Just make sure you don’t carry those misapprehensions into tomorrow.

d100 Acanthus’s Truths:  is just the latest in our long line of d100 random tables. Get in the comments and let us know if you use them!
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