The party wanders between market stalls during the height of the selling day. Dozens of strange, unfamiliar scents and sounds fill the air. The wares are just as alien. There are crystal shards in various colors, bundles of bulbous fungi, arthropod carapaces taller than the dwarf hocking them, and many more oddities. Citizens of all different races shop alongside the adventurers. Distant colliatur, small dødeligs, and proud dweorg mingle amidst the stalls and storefronts. The rest of the underground city rises around them, proudly displaying its dwarven architectural heritage. Pillars of colorful crystal and stone loom farther into the city’s heart.
Despite its strange features and denizens, it almost feels like the party never left the surface world. Until they look up. The shadowy cavern ceiling hangs high above. If they squint, they can just make out moving shapes in the darkness up there. This is what reminds them. This city is just a tiny beacon of light surrounded by darkness.
Rise of the Drow hits store shelves in April, causing evil, maniacal grins to spread across the faces of GMs around the globe. But what if you’re a player? What new books do you have to look forward to? Check in with the AaWBlog every week and we’ll reveal more of the upcoming Underworld Races & Classes, scheduled for release in April with new content coming out every week in PDF and print!
Jurgen held his torch aloft, peering into the darkness ahead; the cave floor disappeared below, dropping steeply into a vast chasm before turning into a maze of descending boulders and open crevasses. He waited, trying to make his actions appear as experienced caution rather than nervous hesitation. The incessant dripping had long ago become a disorientating nuisance, with both the sound and out-of-the-periphery movement distractions he could do without. Jurgen turned to the rest of the party and nodded, handing over his torch and preparing his climbing gear to descend the slope. While not fresh-faced babes barely away from their mothers’ skirts, his adventuring companions were relative newcomers to the Underworld (if their braggadocio was to be believed) and were anyone to scratch the surface of their tales too deeply, complete novices. However he had taken their commision and Jurgen had a reputation as an experienced climber; still, this descent so soon after entering the endless caves could not be a coincidence.
Once fully fastened into a harness and secured with rope and pitons, he began to climb downwards, his only light source a small magical glowing stone upon the pommel of his sheathed blade. The pale white light illuminated little, but Jurgen’s eyes began to adjust as he neared the rugged cavern floor 60 feet below. Just before touching down the faint light source played across a creature nestled within a crack in the wall of the cave, hanging upside down. Its shape was not unlike that of a bat, but with long arms ending in dangerous looking claws along with huge muscular legs revealed that this was no ordinary nightflier, but a humanoid of some kind. The beastman had extended ears like its smaller batkin, and as Jurgen watched in horror, its eyes suddenly fluttered open—disturbed by his light, sound, and ripe Upperworlder smell. The creature snapped open its maw revealing faintly barbed fangs stained red from a recent feast, the curdling remains of which were spread out upon the rocks and dust beneath the creature. Bile rose unbidden in Jurgen’s throat, and the acidic tang caught him by surprise.
Then without warning, a terrible high-pitched sound struck Jurgen in the face like an angry slap, sending him sprawling to the cave floor. His companions, who had begun their own descent, lost their grip and fell the great distance past Jurgen, their wretched screaming and the subsequent sound of bones tearing through flesh was almost drowned out by the continuous piercing wail coming from the creature. One of his companions, blood streaming from his eyes and his hands clamped over his ears, stumbled forward and fell into a crevasse, disappearing forever into the great darkness below without so much as a sound. Jurgen struggled to free his blade but found himself unable to move.
The creature opened its massive wings and with a single beat of them, took flight effortlessly from its twisted and inverted position, blasting into the air above the climber—as equally abruptly as it started the sound mercifully ceased for a moment, allowing Jurgen to rip his blade free from its scabbard, only to have a web suddenly stick to it and snatch it from his hands and into the blackness. He looked towards where the weapon had disappeared only to catch a glimpse of a dark elf with the sticky strand extended from his outstretched hand, the other end of which was attached to Jurgen’s blade. The light on the pommel of Jurgen’s sword swirled wildly around as it followed the ascending web to the ceiling, where he could make out the shape of the drow as it clung to the ceiling using far more arms than any humanoid should have. There was nothing in this vision that could possibly be classed as helpful or encouraging.
He was barely able to take this in before a flesh-colored blade burst from his chest; turning in shock, Jurgen stared at his killer as life leached from his body—there stood the twisted form of an infernal dwarf, grinning widely with a hellish flicker of flames burning in its eyes, its very essence imbued with the pure evil of HEL. As Jurgen watched, the flesh-like blade withdrew from his body and morphed back into the dwarf’s hand. It was in these final moments that Jurgen’s journey and his adventuring days would come to an end, played out across his fading mind—for the Underworlders, the adventure had only just begun.
A Taste of the New Races:
Primordial Beastmen of the Endless Caves
These are the children of the dreaded, winged, nightmare beasts of the Underworld, the ahool. Compared to their elders they are considerably smaller and less of a threat, but denizens of the depths would find reason to disagree. The demanding life of ahool society irons out the failings and weaknesses of these youthful creatures quickly, but when one is led too far astray or abandoned by their tribe, they pursue whatever path life provides for them (sometimes never reaching their full primal potential). Small collectives of ahooling are said to live outside the incredibly fierce societies of the predatorial ahool, eschewing the bestial traditions of their greater cousins.
The drow were once denizens of Upperworld, sharing the realm with their elven brethren without consequence. Thousands of years have passed since those mythical times, and the children of the Spider Goddess have evolved far from their original state. The drow (now barely considered a subtype of the elven race) live far beneath the surface of known lands, deep in the Underworld. Their large cities are built in reverence to Naraneus the Spider Goddess, who intimately assists them, unlike the deities of Upperworld. Drow societies are matriarchal, and women generally hold every position of power within a city, their priesthoods always led by women of potent ability and foresight.
Drow are cold, cunning and manipulative; most live for the sole purpose of obtaining absolute power and control over those around them. Their entire race is inherently evil but there are rare occasions—when the moon is full and the Spider Goddess’ attentions are devoted elsewhere—that a good-aligned dark elf is born. Children born during these periods are generally sacrificed to Naranaeus without a second thought, but mothers with a strong parenting instinct that are unwilling to kill their own child give birth in secret, outside of their drow settlement, passing the child to an Upperworlder or asking an Underworlder of another race to care for the newborn. They may follow their offspring, secretly assisting from afar to see that their child grows and adapts to life amongst the other races.
Unless otherwise permitted by the GM, any drow character in Aventyr is of evil or at best neutral alignment. Any drow of a good alignment will have been raised by one of the good-aligned races of the Underworld, or—rarely—by humanoids of Upperworld. Evil drow PCs hail from the subterranean metropolises of the Underworld.
A taste of the new classes:
Master of the Web (Drow Monk Archetype*)
While the Spider Goddess Naraneus does not bless her sons with any great ability to channel her divinity, some are blessed with gifts that emulate their martial devotion to arachnids. These fell monks turn into hybridizations of drow and spiders, utilizing their natural webs to devastating effect on the battlefield.
Fledgling Ahool (Ahooling Base Class*)
The ahool are some of the most dangerous and mysterious denizens of the Underworld, rightly feared for their swift maneuvering on the subterranean breezes and deft, natural prowess in combat. Fledgling ahool is a class available only to ahoolings (a new player race), representing the rigorous upbringing required to attain the full spectrum of abilities possessed by their kin.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the Mistress of the Web’s deadly words and the Ironsinger’s sovereign shriek when Underworld Classes begin seeing release, and make sure to check the AaWBlog for our next reveal; we’re bringing out the vile gitwerc and their hideously devious scions, the underterror!