From publisher blurb: Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue provides an in-depth exploration of the greatest drow city in the Dungeons & Dragons game and. Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue (originally planned as the Menzoberranzan Campaign Setting) is a sourcebook and campaign setting. Menzoberranzan City Of Intrigue caite.info Download caite.info tyhabryhukyre Buy books at caite.info and save. Free Shipping on.
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Menzoberranzan - City of Intrigue (ClearScan OCR) A6 Compressed - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt) or read online for free. Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue provides an in-depth exploration of . printed book's cover price, which is higher than the typical PDF price. of intrigue dungeons pdf -. Menzoberranzan: City of. Intrigue provides an in-depth exploration of the greatest drow city in the. Dungeons & Dragons game.
City of Intrigue also advances the timeline of the city. Chapter 5: My Library. The faction can't decide whether to trust or hate the character. Whipping and torture are the most common penalties, because the priestesses enjoy delivering the sort of punishment they can inflict repeatedly.
Again, you could use the houses as presented, but the house wizards shown in each house entry hold positions equiva- lent to the matron mothers in Menzoberranzan. Sshamath is one city little affected by the events sur rounding the creation of the Demon Weave, making it an interesting setting for a campaign focused on the wizards' role in channeling arcane power to Lolth.
You can tweak the city in subtler but equally interesting ways by creating your own noble houses or other factions, using the guidelines included i n chapter 3.
The goals and attitudes of the factions that anchor your campaign play a large part in determin ing the flavor and style of your campaign. What if one house is controlled by an illithid mastermind posing as an advisor to the matron mother, but secretly dictating her every order?
What if a house has forged an alliance with the Zhentarim on the surface world and directs more of its attention to the surface than to the intrigue of the city? Or perhaps a house views its sole purpose as the extermination of the race of elves from the surface world.
You can use other factions besides noble houses to complicate the politics of your city as well. What i f the Red Wizards have established an enclave in or near Menzoberranzan and become a signifcant player in the city's politics?
You could use a more dis tant faction i nstead, such as the dwarves ofMithral Hall. A player character might be a good-aligned drow who's willingly staying i n the city as an agent of the dwarves, or an evil drow who's pretending to serve the dwarves while secretly working to under mine them from within. Or a character might be an enslaved dwarf who has found some way to commu nicate with Mithral Hall.
Alternate Hi story The history ofMenzoberranzan outlined in the previ ous section is the ofcial hi story of the city, but it's not the only possible one.
That outline already suggested some potential variations in that history that might give rise to an interesting campaign. Asking yourself "What i f this wer di fferent? The Founding: What ifHouse Baenre hadn't managed to unify the drow during their earliest civil war?
What if, instead of the schism that led to the founding ofChed Nasad, the rebellious House asa dra and its allies had formed a dissident coalition preventing House Baenre from cementing its rule? I magine a Ruling Council divided between two rival coalitions, both honoring the Way ofLolth but forever vying for dominance in the city. The Time of Troubles: What ifYvonnel Baenre's strike against Mithral Hall was successful and the dwarves were killed or enslaved?
You might end up with a campaign in which the enslaved dwarves are a major faction striving for their freedom. And what happened to Drizzt when Mithral Hall fell?
War of the Spider Queen: What i fMenzober ranzan fell to the i nvaders during Lolth's silence? The player characters might be members of houses that are subjugated under the rul i ng invaders, working to restore the city to draw rulership, while the Jaezred Chaulssin and House Agrach Dyrr vie for control and the Scourged Legion keeps the city under martial law. These are just a few examples of di rections you might choose to steer your campaign.
Any of these options keeps the essential flavor of the city-a place of murderous intrigue, vice, and chaos-intact. The obsidian-skinned elves with snow-white hair are the creatures of nightmare that creep from the hidden depths of the earth to ki l l, pillage, and enslave. Legends speak of huge cities that fil l caverns lit by flickering eldritch light where the drow have created a decadent and proud civilization.
Those who have met the drow and survived tell of a terrifying matriarchy in which males of the race are expendable pawns. They say that the drow worship a demon goddess of spiders, and arachnids are revered by their cruel and treacherous society. The elves of the surface world shudder and turn away when their dark kin are mentioned. Most will not speak of the drow, except as traitors to the Selda rine. The sages among the elves say that the drow suffer a fate they richly deserve, and for which they have only themselves to blame.
This chapter provides an overview of drow culture in Menzoberranzan, as dictated by the will ofLolth. It includes the following sections. A look at the role ofLolth, her worship in Menzoberranzan, and the system of justice that springs from the tenets of her faith.
A discussion of the hierarchy of the drow-the females who tell the nobles what to do, the nobles who lord it over the commoners, and the non-drow slaves that keep the city run ni ng through their efforts and often their lives.. A look at the two main types of drow commerce, currency and favors, as well as the merchant clans that conduct trade in the city.
How the drow relax and enjoy the fruits of their status. Three times a year, Menzoberran zan i s the site of elaborate festivals during which the drow celebrate themselves and their goddess.
When secrets are your stock in trade, being able to communicate in a number of dif ferent ways i s vital. This section also includes a number of widely heard proverbs and adages, expressed in the drow tongue. These basic laws, under which her favored cities would live, established the dominance of the family network-kin bonded together when it is convenient under a matriarchal house for mutual protection. The Spider Queen demands absolute obedience from the drow, presiding over their manifold schemes and betrayals, and is sovereign over all arachnids.
Lol th's favor is fickle; she manipu lates those in her service and expends them without thought. Lolth claims control over every aspect of drow society.
Her particular areas of infuence involve spiders, evil, darkness, chaos, and assassins. Around DR, she attempts to expand that portfolio to include arcane magic, trying to usurp the position of the dead deity Mystra.
Lolth favors the guise of a lithe drow woman dressed in a gossamer gown woven from spider silk. Her long, silvery hair frames a face of exquisite beauty and cascades down her back. This appearance is a deception, however: Lolth's true form is that of an enormous arachnid with a body bloated on the souls of her petitioners, and the torso and head of a drow. Lolth's domain is the Demonweb Pits. Prior to the War of the Spider Queen, this location occupied two layers of the Abyss, but since that period it has been a plane or an astral dominion of Lolth's own.
True to the deity's nature, the Demonweb Pits is a vast expanse of woven and tangled webs. Creatures, buildings, vessels, even chunks ofland tor from various worlds are caught in the webs, dangling l ike trapped insects waiting for Lolth to feed on them or lying l ike empty husks already drained ofli fe.
There she is served first and foremost by the demons called yochlol, known as the handmaidens ofLolth. Though one can appear as a beautiful drow female, the true form of a yochlol is a hideous mass of putrid slime with several ropy tentacles. Veneration of Spi ders Spiders of al l sizes are everywhere i n Menzober ranzan, constantly crawling underfoot and scuttling overhead. Webs hang from ceilings, drape down across walkways, and stream between buildings and towers.
According to surface-world fol ktales, dark elves venerate spiders so fervently that a drow will never harm one. That's a characteristically outsider misun derstanding of drow psychology.
Actually, the drow of Menzoberranzan aspire to be like spiders-meaning that they remorselessly devour their own kind. Drow make no special effort to harm their eight-legged cohorts, but aren't above destroying them if they get in the way though not in the presence of a zealous priestess or a superior drow who might use the act against them.
Some drow ceremonially eat a spider at the beginning of each meal as a way of giving thanks to the arachnid goddess. Might makes right in the city, and the law is little more than a mockingly ironjc set of rules in which the only ones to get punished are those who get caught and don't have the wherewithal to evade justice.
The priestesses ofLolth determine guilt and mete out punishment i n Menzoberranzan. A priestess, whether from the Academy or a house, leads every street patrol and administers justice immediately as she deems appropriate when the patrol arrests law breakers. There is no appeals process, but a priestess must be careful not to be too harsh on "criminals" who have high-ranking protectors. I f she offends a superior, the priestess can expect retribution. A claim of i nnocence is not the best defense against an accusation of wrongdoing.
Having a con nection to someone high in the hierarchy-in other words, someone who can cause the judging priestess serious harm-is the only reliable way for a defendant to avoid the scourging lash or a worse punishment. Beyond the base tenets of the Way ofLolth, what precisely constitutes a crime becomes tenuous and random.
Crimes of property theft, burglary, vandal ism are illegal in Menzoberranzan, but street patrols do not hunt down stolen goods. If an owner cannot protect her property, then in the eyes of the drow the owner does not deserve to possess it. Likewise, crimes of violence are technically illegal, but those who are attacked i n the city are expected to defend themselves. The street patrols tend to violently punish anyone caught fghting, so all combatants commonly flee when a priestess arrives on the scene.
Menzoberranzan has no formal criteria for match ing punishments to crimes. I nstead, punishment for any offense is at the whim of the drow priestess admin isteringjustice, which means it is arbitrary, capricious, and almost always cruel.
Sentences for various forms oflawbreaking include i mmediate execution, death by torture, mutilation, castration, torture without death, exile, imprisonment, whipping, servitude, and exorbi tant fnes that go into the priestess's purse. Whipping and torture are the most common penalties, because the priestesses enjoy delivering the sort of punishment they can inflict repeatedly. I ts tnets are: Any who fol l ows the di ctates of another entity wi l l be sl ai n, preferably in sacrifice to Lolth.
Non-drow who vi ol ate thi s tenet are fi ned and expel l ed from the ci ty. Second offenders or any drow who do so are sl ai n. Treatment of slaves is the afai r of their owners. It is a capital ofense for a slave to refuse any order from a drow of the house that owns the slave. If the offender is the property of another house and the noble of that house is present and objects, the two must agree on a punishment usu al ly fogging.
Sentences are typically carried out on the spot to serve as an example to others. Those sentenced to imprisonment are taken to the Pit Warrens near Donigarten's moss bed. When Lolth then called Araushnee, the Weaver of Destiny frst rebelled against her con sort Corellon Larethian, she secured the aid of several other deities.
These included her children by Corellon, Ei listraee and Vhaeraun, as well as the mysterious god Ghaunadaur. Durin he three earliest campaign eras described in t 1b ook, drow worshiped fve other deities i n addition to Lolth: Goddess of song and dance, beauty and sword work, and patron of good-aligned drow.
God of oozes, slimes, jellies, outcasts, and rebels. Goddess of the undead and vengeance. God of drow warriors. God of thievery, drow males, and sur face raids. After her transforma tion into a greater deity during the War of the Spider Queen, Lolth began exterminating the deities she perceived as her rivals for the worship of the drow see "The Reckoning," page 1 2.
The Spellplague: By the ti me of the Spellplague, Lolth stood alone as the sole drow deity, though Ghaunadaur escaped her wrath and established him self as an independent deity rather than a drow god. Ghaunadaur Even i n the Spellplague era, Ghaunadaur remains a significant subversive force in Menzoberranzan and other drow cities.
Also known as That Which Lurks, Ghaunadaur is an ancient, cowardly being tinged with madness who seeks only to consume the world.
His followers believe that all creatures are ft to wield power if they can exert it over others, so they rebel against the tyrannical grip of Lolth's priestesses. Physically, drow resemble surface elves with wiry builds and pleasing features, but their midnight black skin sets them apart.
Their heat-sensitive eyes are fiery red, and both genders wear their snow white hair long. I n general, the drow enjoy li fe spans stretching well over two hundred years, and excep tional members of the race measure their years by centuries. Drow are born into darkness. From i nfancy, a drow child must be cunning. Chi ldren can expect no kindness, warmth, or compassion. Such expressions engender fatal weakness.
Drow are cold parents, instilling self-reliance and independence i n their offspring to make them strong enough to survive a bloody adolescence. Il l treatment reinforces the race's natural i nclination toward evi l.
From birth, drow are taught that they are supe rior to all other races-those who lack the strength to defend themselves deserve to be used as the drow see fit.
Therefore, drow are arrogant and condescending in all their dealings until they are shown reason to respect their associates. In the tongue of elves and fey, drow are referred to by several names: It is believed this last ancient Elven moniker, which roughly translates to "traitor," is the source of the term "drow. Most drow are singularly wicked. They are cruel i n thei r interactions wi th others and treacherous among themselves.
I n the pursuit of strength, status, and Lolth's favor, drow houses compete with each other to amass wealth and enslave weaker races. The fickle whims ofLolth's priestesses demand absolute obedi ence, driving the race to further evil.
Drow understand the value of alliances and enjoy congenial companionship, but they regard any such arrangements as temporary. They learn at an early age to distrust love and camaraderie, because such relationships almost always presage betrayal. There fore, drow always watch for treachery, expecting the worst i n those they meet.
Drow are never surprised when the knife appears, and make every effort to be the first to draw steel. They consequently rarely form lasting friendships. Sometimes, the power behind one's throne is a tannible thinn Chaos is a predominant trait q[ the drow, a fault that has cost them potential conquests time and again throughout history.
Infghting, backstabbing, and treachery are accepted facts ofli fe in drow soci ety. Yet there is a framework of order underlying the chaos, otherwise the drow would have been reduced to extinction long ago. This framework is specific and unyielding, and the penalty for overstepping one's bounds within it is meted out i n typical drow fash ion-without mercy. Within Menzoberranzan, every person has a spe ci fic place i n the social order.
Matrons of the Ruling Council govern the city, supported by noble houses of lesser rank. Females i n drow society enjoy the great est favor and typically train to be priestesses. Drow males, regardless of station, typically warrant little more respect than slaves do. The most promising males commonly train as wizards or warriors, while those who display talent for neither are apprenticed to a merchant clan or a master tradesman. Non-drow in Menzoberranzan are almost universally enslaved, ultimately giving their lives in forced labor, gladiato rial spectacles, or outright sacrifice.
Females are seen as stronger, smarter, and more emotionally controlled than males, and above all-more devoted to Lolth. Males are viewed as spiritually, intellectually, and physically inferior, primarily useful as unskilled labor and for breeding purposes.
Even so, a mde drow is seen as superior to a member of any other race, but still i nferior even to a female drow of signifcantly lower status. Male drow have little, i f any, clout, but not all of them are mere property, even i f most females see them as such. Some of the most skilled crafters, war riors, and arcane casters among the drow are male.
The most successful males in drow society are those who are driven to overcome their subservient role by making themselves as useful as they can. Mal drow can lay claim to little authority, and they are constantly at risk of being discarded by their female leaders, so only those possessed of skills and abili ties that are not easily replaceable can be relatively confdent of their positions.
From a young age, males are taught not to look at the faces of drow females, or to speak to females unless bidden. This treatment teaches them their subordinate place in drow society. Rul i ng Counci l I n Menzoberranzan, the eight strongest houses rule the city, with the other fifty or so the number fluc tuates yearly scrambling for position behind them.
The matrons of those houses constitute the Ruli ng Council, which meets in a natural cavern on the Qu'ellarz'orl plateau. When the council is in ses sion, the cave is lit by hundreds of sweet-smelling candles placed around its periphery. Any ruling matron can technically call a meeting of the council, but while Yvonne!
Baenre lived through the Sable Years, ending in 1 DR , this governing body was largely a sham, with House Baenre holding all the true power i n the city. In recent decades, however, the Ruling Council has reclaimed much of the clout it lost during Yvonnel's rule. Standing beside the priesthood as equals on the political and social playing felds are the great noble houses.
These monolithic institutions are the closest things the drow have to a formal government. Perhaps nothing i n all ofMenzoberranzan is as i mportant to a drow as her house's rank-except her personal station, of course. Noble houses are led by a matron mother, the senior female of the family.
Her rule is absolute, enforced by the females beneath her usually her daughters, since any siblings of an ascendant matron lose their noble status and are typically assassi nated soon after. All lesser roles are decreed by, and can be changed at the whim of, the matron mother. Her reign ends only with her death, which often comes at the hands of her eldest daughter.
All females of the matron's blood, usually in order of age, follow the matron in descending order of their status. Usually, they wield little true authority until they complete their training at the Academy. The eldest daughter claims the title of frst priestess and serves as advisor to the matron mother. A daughter who is not in direct line to rule due to having several older sisters sometimes separates from her matron's house with permission, of course and forms house of her own, with nominal loyalty to the " ent'' house.
In this way, drow houses spread their infuence but also often create their own eventual rivals. Below the daughters are the male officers of the house in descending order: Male heirs are also ranked by age: Only the nobles of a house are typically allowed to use the name of their house as their own. Beneath the noble "blood" members and officials ofhouse rank are the common warriors, crafters, servants, and slaves. Each i nsignia is commonl y fash ioned as a black metal medal l ion stamped with the house's or clan's gl yph.
House i nsi gni as of the nobil ity are intricately scul pted and ofen i mbued with magical traits. These commoners are free citizens, but most endure nigh constant scorn and ridicule from their noble-born kin. Despite this prejudice, noble drow still view the dregs of their race as superior to any non-drow, no matter how talented or impressive a slave might be.
A commoner's only avenue to elevated status lies in enhancing her personal esteem, typically through skill and reputation as a merchant, artisan, or merce nary. Commoners with exceptional skills are usually adopted by the noble house they serve, or, more rarely, by the frst noble house to notice their skill and seize them. They receive the house name, spon sorship, and a position-albeit a precarious one, based on performance and the whim of the ruling matron of the house.
At any time, their masters can choose to dispose of them. I n the case of a male drow of great beauty appointed to the position of patron consort to the matron , this statement is all too literally true, and most do not last long.
These lowly- folk are non-drow that have either been captured in the Underdark or specifically bred into a li fe of service. No drow citizen ofMenzo berranzan is ever ofcially the slave of another drow, but some are slaves in all but name-other drow taken as captives during a battle outside the city can be brought back and held openly as indentured servants.
Non-drow are typically referred to as colnbluth, or undercreatures, by Menzoberranyr. The most common kinds of slaves include goblins, kobolds, orcs, hobgoblins, and bugbears, though more exotic varieties certainly exist. Each slave is afforded a place according to its talents.
Most are laborers, farmers, and house servants. Those with fghting skill end up as expendable frst-line defenders i n house armies. CoiIerce Commerce in Menzoberranzan consists of two separate but intertwined systems of exchange, each specific to a certain social and political caste.
CURRENCY When someone procures goods or services from a drow oflow station, such as when a house scion buys something from a vendor at the Bazaar, the transac tion is carried out by the use of various coinage of silver, gold, and other precious metals.
The city has no universal currency. I nstead, each of the noble houses of the Ruling Council mints its own coins. The prevalence of a particular currency in the city is a good indicator of the rank of the house that minted it. The currency an individual uses is a display of his or her afliation; money c ers do brisk business as al liances shift. The merchants of the city do not turn away any currency, no matter its source. Foreign coins are assigned value based on their weight and purity.
This system creates a web of debts and obligations that binds one drow to another. For a drow, having too many obligations hanging over one's head is tantamount to social sui cide. While she is indebted, a drow cannot afford to directly challenge anyone to whom she owes a great favor, for fear of that favor being called in and ruining one of her schemes.
Despite their sel fish nature, few drow would ever dare ignore a legitimate debt, out of fear that no one would do business with them or worse, their house in the future. Such a stigma would quickly be fol lowed by a loss of favor with Lolth, lead ing to rival houses calling for the destruction of the offending faction.
These entrepreneurs particularly those who travel the Underdark to other cities and trade sites keep Menzoberranzan vital, important, and rich. Traders and crafters often band together to form companies or fellowships.
I n some respects, the larger merchant clans serve as a counterbalance to the haughty noble houses, but in truth, most of these organizations serve at the whim of the Rul i ng Council and can be dismantled at a moment's notice. Merchant careers in Menzoberranzan are dan gerous and often short.
To anger a matron or even a proud young house noble is to court death or disaster to one's livelihood.
The danger of this l i festyle, cou pled with the restlessness of many merchants who at heart are happiest when traveling , makes turnover high among the city's mercantile roster. The most prominent merchant clans in the city are described bel ow.
Black Claw Mercantile: Once the most extensive and independent merchant fellowship in the city, the Black Claw soon came under the sponsorship, then the direct influence, of House Baenre. Over time, Baenre's control became an open secret, prompt- ing rival houses to sponsor their own fellowship, the Brown Mushroom. The Black Claw has a virtual monopoly on draw goods flowing in and out ofMan tol-Derith page Brown Mushroom Coster: Funded by a cadre of noble houses, including Barrison Dei'Armgo, Fey- Branche, and Hunzrin, this clan specializes in high-risk trade between Menzoberranzan and distant draw enclaves throughout the Underdark.
Three Black Rings: This lean, well-organized merchant company is unusual because it employs creatures of almost any race as laborers and caravan guards.
The clan. High-Handed Fellowship: The High-Handed Fellowship is the primary importer of exotic foodstuffs from the surface world. Through its secret network of contacts, this clan keeps the larders of the matron mothers stocked with rare culinary treats from realms across Faen1n and beyond. Delicacies include blood wine from Aglarond and chocolate wafers from remote Lopango across the Trackless Sea. Xalyth's Company: Menzoberranzan's mer chants are chiefly drow males, but Mistress Xalyth enjoys playing against gender stereotypes.
She rose from humble origins to dominate gem-dealing in the city. She is known as a fai r appraiser and an under-the-table fence of stolen goods , as well as a hard bargainer who always buys low and sells high.
It helps that she has little competition, because she is the only steady source of spell components in the city. Lei sure Drow love parties. Their revels consist of wild music, dancing, the drinking of exotic beverages, and the inhaling of scented smoke.
Houses, wealthy fami l ies, and merchant clans rent sumptuous mansions as neutral ground for entertaining, and a well-attended party can make a host's reputation. Parties often last most of a day, and excessively drunken attendees are dumped unceremoniously into the street. I f the rev elers are noble, matrons send escorts to protect the helpless scions and carry them home.
Drow of di fferent houses meet each other at more formal dances called illiyitrii. These stately affairs offer opportunities to be seen and are rife with politics. Drow love to score social points i n barbed conversation and engage i n charhylniss, a game with the sole purpose of driving a conversational opponent into an open rage, proving the instigator to be the better manipulator.
In sharp contrast to the illiyitrii are the nedeirra of the younger and wilder drow. These wild, acrobatic "sweat dances" leave the participants drenched i n perspiration after they dance t o syncopated, driving rhythms of drums and pipes. Most nedeirra end in wild fighting, vandalism, fires, and debauchery. The ultimate sensuous pleasure Jn life for a drow is a warm bath followed by a thorough body massage, typically while lying on a contoured couch. Massage houses are the favored leisure spots in Menzober ranzan, and they boast private rooms where those receiving services can chat, argue, or do business.
Drow theatrical productions feature slapstick comedy, singing, the use of masks and exaggerated costumes, the passing on of sly gossip, and imparting of the latest news. Plays are staged as the centerpiece entertainment at parties, but are also put on in rented warehouses near the Bazaar. Noble drow enjoy going on hunts into the Under dark. Most are restricted to the Dark Dominion, but some go further afield in a true test of skill. Com monly, the hunters release monsters or slaves into the tunnels, giving the doomed creatures a head start.
Even i f the rules of a hunt restrict which weapons can be used, the members of a hunting party go out fully armed to ensure that a rival house won't strike while they are relatively unprotected. Ceremony of Graduation Feast of the Moon: Graduation from the Academy is a time of wanton abandon when students and priestesses celebrate as equals.
It is traditional for all houses that have members graduating to celebrate with a feast, accom panied by much dancing and drinking. Tradition and Lolth's will forbid any conflict between houses on the day before, the day of, and the day after the cer emony. At this same time, the houses allow most of their servants to have three days ofleisure.
Academy students and masters descend the great stairs from Tier Breche and visit their families.
Visitors are not welcome in the city during this time, trade is forbid den, and the Bazaar is closed. Festival of the Founding 20th day of Ches: Each year on the anniversary of the formal found- ing of the city by Menzoberra and the death of Many Eyes see "The Founding," page 1 0 , all Menzober ranyr celebrate their heritage by dining with a family with whom they do not customarily dine.
At the meal, feasters toast Lolth, then Menzoberranzan, and fnally the founders of whatever fami ly is hosting the dinner. Participants tell tales of the exploits of their ancestors. While the dinner last: No passing stranger is refused hospitality, since Lolth sometimes walks through the city on this day in the form of a mo. Lolth rewards those who please her and strikes dead those who irri tate her.
The entire city takes heart i fLolth is seen. Any family lucky enough to host her at its party is honored and accorded respect for the rest of the year. The Open Days 23rd day ofFlamerule to Midsummer: This stretch of eight days serves the city as a sort of trade fair.
Visitors are allowed into the city to wander freely-even into the compounds of the noble houses. Since anyone can enter, this event provides the citizens with as much of a spectacle as the visitors. The purpose of this time is to encourage trade, and establishments are always open for busi ness while house agents set up meetings with visiting merchants to make deals.
During the Open Days, drow houses put on spe cial demonstrations of magic and martial readiness to awe potential foes and rivals.
House guards execute precision maneuvers in ful l battle armor, masters of Sorcere engage in spell-hurling competitions, and priestesses take turns weaving elaborate i llusions of Lolth in the air above the city, making her appear in a succession of different forms. Language Drow are as eloquent and musical in their speech as other elves, and are capable of readily reproducing the sounds of other languages. Most drow are good mimics; a drow who imitates the words and tone of an overheard bit of speech can be easily mistaken for the individual being imitated.
Most drow have l ittle exposure to surface tongues outcasts, slave traders, and adventurers being the principal exceptions. A citizen of an underground city who seldom ventures far afeld will know two tongues: This silent language of drow, sometimes called the hand code, is a language as detailed as the spoken word. Learning the nuan ' ces and combinations of the unspoken tongue requires months of concentrated tutoring.
Deep Drow is the everyday tongue of the drow, corrupted by passing fashion, trade-tongue jargon, and even words from other languages notably Orcish, Dwarven, sur ' face Elven, and human wizardly terms. It has a similar structure to the Common tongue, specifically to the dialect known as Under common, used throughout the Underdark.
When written, its fowing letters resemble old Elven and freehand Thorass scripts, but a person familiar with both Elven and Common writing can puzzle out only a fraction of the general nature of a drow inscription.
Deep Drow is a living, changing tongue, and it varies from place to place in the Underdark, as well as over time although drow speech, due to isola- tion and technology slowed by tradition and a rigid class- based society, does not change with the rapid ity of surface languages. The DM is free to introduce new words and phrases at will-and might encounter words and phrases in other sources that are not found here.
Visitors to drow settlements might also sometimes hear High Draw, an archaic, rarely used dialect known by and heard chiefly among the clergy of Lolth used in spell incantations, or between priest esses when they don't want lesser drow within hearing to understand their speech. High Drow i ncorporates some specialized gestures part of the silent language , which drow not familiar with the hand code sometimes refer to as the secret signs.
Drow are usually silent in battle. If startled or in pain, they might call out to Lolth, or utter an oath. A drow cursing another drow might say, "Ssus sun pholor dos! If hurled at a non-drow, the equivalent curse is "Oloth plynn dos! A drow of House Xorlar rin might cry, "Xorlarrin ulu usstan! Proverbs and Phrases ]al khaless zhah waela. All trust i s foolish. Oioth zhah tuth abbil lueth oaaiin. Darkness is both friend and enemy. Xun izil dos phuul quarthen, Iueth dro.
Do as you are ordered, and live. Loith tlu malla;jal uitrinnan zhah xundus. Lolth be praised; all victory is her doing. Ilharessen zhaunil aiurl. Matron Mothers know best. Lii alurl veive zhah lil velkyn uss. The best knife is the unseen one. Lil waela Iueth waeia ragar brorna-Iueth wund nind, kyorlin elahinn. The foolish and unwary fnd sur prises-and among them, waiting death. Khaiess nau uss mzild taaa dosstan.
Trust no one more than yourself. Nindyn vei'uss kyorl nind ratha thalra elahinn dai iil alust. Those who watch their backs meet death from the front. Ulu z'hin maaiust dai Qu'ellar Iueth Vaisharess zhah ulu z'hin wund Iii phaiar. To walk apart from House and Queen is to walk into the grave. Kyorijal bauth, kyone, Iueth Iii Quarvalsharess xai belbau dos Iii beibol del eiendar dro.
Watch all about, warily, and the Goddess may give you the gift of contin ued life. Vel 'uss zhaun aiur taaa Iii Quarvaisharess? Who knows better than the Goddess? The most important factions i n Menzoberranzan are the drow noble houses. This chapter offers details on six of the strongest houses in the city through the ages, plus other factions that exert their own special i nfluence.
It includes the fol lowing sections. Understanding the Factions: This opening sec tion explains the terms and symbols used i n the faction entries. The First House ofMenzoberran zan has ruled the city for centuries. Few houses have risen more quickly or fallen more rapidly than the house of the famed Drizzt Do' Urden.
This minor house i mproved its lot through control of trade in the city. House Oblodra: This house is notable for its psionic talent, ambition, and limitless cruelty. The union of two lesser houses produced a more significant power. Notable for the prominent role held by its wizards, House Xorlarrin plays a key role in the events of the Demon Weave. Four of the many other noble houses are described more briefly here. The threefold academy of Menzo berranzan includes Arach-Tinilith, where Lolth's priestesses are trained; Melee-Magthere, for its warriors; and Sorcere, for its wizards.
This mercenary company has unexpected influence despite the leadership roles played by male drow in this group. These assassins seek noth ing less than the dissolution of drow society. Formed from a band of demonic orcs, these enemies of the drow lurk in the Underdark while they gather strength.
A secret society ofillitids whose agents have spread throughout the world. Understanding the Factions The factions ofMenzoberranzan fal l into three gen eral categories. The noble houses control all aspects of the city, from enforcing its few laws to dominating trade. Menzoberranzan has no standing army. Instead, the house guard of each of the noble houses provides the military might of the city.
Their compounds are heav ily fortified castles. The eight greatest houses have places on the Ruling Council of Menzoberranzan. The council determines the fate of the city, from the ranking of each house to whether an errant house must be destroyed. Drow factions that more or l ess uphold the social order of Menzoberranzan are the second category. These include the academy ofTier Breche and the mercenary company ofBregan D'aerthe. Their struc ture is different from that of the houses, and they lie outside the house ranking system and thus have no say on the Ruling Council , but they are both influ enced by the intrigue among the houses and exert a subtle infuence on them in return.
The third group of factions consists of various internal and external forces opposed to the social order of Menzoberranzan. Three ofthose that dwell nearest to Menzoberranzan-the Jaezred Chaulssin, the Scourged Legion, and the Sept ofll l'Ghact-are described at the end of this chapter.
Of course, Men zoberranzan has enemies near and far, so this roster is far from exhaustive. The information in this chapter includes these details about factions of Menzoberranzan.
Name I n a society that places s o much weight on house rank, a drow's surname means everything. After they descended into the Underdark, many dark elf clans altered their ancestral names. A famous example of this practice i s clan Daermon N'a'shezbaernon, who later adopted the house name ofDo'Urden. Many centuries later, the practice of invoking the ancient clan name i n formal settings came into vogue.
The practice was so popular that drow houses that arose long after the originals also adopted the practice by retroactively establishing a formal name. The shaded box near the start of each faction entry shows the faction's name and other information.
Glyph In the ancient days when dark el f clans still lived in the sunlit world, they used runes to mark clan territorial boundaries, to brand possessions, and as way-markers for travelers. Now the noble houses dis play glyphs, unique to each family, upon the insignia each drow carries. Defensive glyphs are common among the noble houses as well, protecting belong ings and guarding homes.
Magic woven into the rune will discharge whenever disturbed by a being who does not bear a house insignia, or who does not whis per the secret "word of passage. Traits Each faction has at least two prominent traits that define it. These terms are used as shorthand to describe the factions succinctly.
Brooks nothing less than absolute obedience from its members and allies. Driven by the acquisition of wealth. Quick to betray allies and shift allegiances. Pursues the path of greatest pleasure and instant gratification. Glorifies might and power. Relishes the act of inflicting pain and suffering upon others.
Paranoid and untrusting of others. Fervent in its adoration ofLolth. Power Rati ng A faction's power rating is a general indication of its significance in the world. In the case of noble houses, it is also used as a modifier to determine how chal lenging it is for an individual to raise her Worth page 1 20 within that house.
The rating is a value between 3 and 1 5 derived by totaling the faction's Might, Favor, and Wealth scores see below. The higher a faction's power rating, the more difcult it is to rise in status within the house-it's easier to advance within a lesser noble house, for example, than within a ruling house.
Might Might i s an aggregate of a faction's military strength, determined by the number of slaves, soldiers, noble warriors, wizards, and priestesses under the house's command. Factions with the militaristic trait also tend to have greater Might. Might is measured on a scale from 1 to 5, shown in each faction entry using dagger icons: I Favor Favor is a faction's standing with the Church ofLolth, measured by the number of priestesses within the faction and a noble house's rank. Factions with the zealous trait tend to have greater Favor.
Like Might, Favor is measured on a scale from 1 to 5, shown using spider icons: Factions that are opposed to the Church ofLolth have 0 Favor. House Rank I n noble house descriptions, this information appears U Z. Wealth at the start of a separate box i n the longer, more t detailed entries. Wealth tends to correspond to a noble house's rank and favor. Houses with the avaricious trait tend to be wealthier, but houses with high might are usually less wealthy it costs a great deal to maintain a strong mil itary force.
Wealth is also measured on a scale from 1 to 5, shown using gem icons: I n shorter house descriptions,: How well a house manages to hold onto its infuence depends in part on the personal successes of its members, but also on how it handles its interac tions with the rest of society. Menzoberranzan has roughly ffty noble houses at any given time, and only the top eight earn a seat on the Ruling Council.
This entry lists the membership of the faction in general or very specifc terms.
For houses, this infor mation includes house nobles, soldiers afiliated with the house, and slaves. Ranked Houses Headquarters The table below summarizes the twenty highest ranked houses in Menzoberranzan during most of the eras discussed i n this book.
Because the Found ing era covers such a large span of time and little historical record of the ranking of houses survives, it is not included i n this table.
The Sable Years, on the other hand, were a tumultuous time marked by the rise and fall of House Do'Urden, so two specific dates i n the Sable Years are shown. This entry names the faction's headquarters. Typi cally, this place is described i n more detail i n the text or a sidebar within the faction entry. Rel igious Affi l iation This entry shows the faction's association with a particular deity's falth or organized church, with a parenthetical notation indicating, in relative terms, how closely afliated the faction is.
House rank improved from t his era to t he next. House rank dec lined from this era to t he next. House rank stayed t he same from t his era to t he next. House ceased to e xist during or after t his era. Dates shown in paren theses after the name of the matron mother indicate the dates of her rule, not ofher li fe.
For other factions, this is a single entry showing the leader or leaders of the faction. Al l i es and Rival s The Allies entry shows other factions that are formally or informally allied with the faction, while the Rivals entry indicates factions that compete or war with the faction. This information can shift sometimes fre quently , so it might not apply to all campaign eras. Adventurers Most of the entries in this chapter include a section describing the typical characteristics and possible backgrounds of player characters and Qther adventur ers afil iated with those factions.
These backgrounds carry no rules weight, though you can decide to add bonus skills or other benefits as you see fit. Rather, they focus on character history and motivation as an aid to roleplaying. Some of these entries describe lofty positions that your character might aspire to rather than backgrounds for starting characters.
Goal s The longer entries contain an extensive description of the faction's goals, which might or might not be pecific to a particular campaign era. A faction's goals are key to determi ni ng its role i n your campaign, par ticul arly when the goals of different factions conflict with each other.
Notabl e Personages Longer faction entries i nclude a description of some of the most important personages in the faction, typi cally specific to one or more campaign eras. Encounters The entries for non-house factions also include sug gestions for what an encounter with members of that faction might look like-where they're found, what a group of members might look like, and how an encounter might play out.
For purposes of your campaign, it's a fairly simple matter to come up with a house of your own, as a new faction either to oppose your player characters or for a character to be a member o Name Making up the name of a drow house can be chal lenging. Fortunately, an abundance ofhouses are already named, with little other established informa tion about them: I f you decide to create a major house or one on the Ruling Council, you might set your cam paign during the Founding Years when the ranks of these houses is not recorded , or else make an inten tional change from what has been established i n this and other sourcebooks.
You can also make up traits. Alternatively, you can choose a Might ranking or roll randomly and use that as a guide to deter mining the house's membership.
Other Characteristics Once these starting factors are determined, you can flesh out your new house with a headquarters, the names of its leadership, its allies and rivals, and its goals, using the examples i n this chapter to guide you. Authoritarian, zealous Power: Baenre compound; Qu'ellarz'orl Religious Affi l iation: Church of Lolth strong Far older than most people realize, House Baenre has roots extending back past the founding ofMenzober ranzan. The house was embroiled in civil war in the lost drow city of Golothaer, and its frst families fled with Menzoberra on her exodus through the Under dark.
As one of only seven families to stand with the Menzoberra at the founding of her city, House Baenre stood poised to reap many- glories i n the Spider Queen's name. After a cataclysmic explosion slew Menzoberra and obliterated all but two other families, House Baenre seized control of the City of Spiders and has never lost its vaunted position in the fve millennia since.
Since then, House Baenre has remained the stron gest and most envied house in Menzoberranzan. With sixteen high priestesses, few doubt the divine mandate bestowed upon the First House by Lolth. Whi le not as prestigious, House Baenre's arcane prowess is impressive as well, with House Wizard Gromph holding the title of Arch mage of Menzober ranzan, the highest-ranking mage in the city. House Baenre's elite warriors are second to none, well trained and equipped with the finest gear available in the city.
House Baenre's tendrils reach deep throughout Menzoberranzan, commanding the loyalty of more major houses than any other, as well as enjoying close ties with the masters and high priestesses ofTier Breche. Perhaps the First House's most cunning alli ance is with the renegade mercenary band known as Bregan D'aerthe.
Through that organization's spy net work, House Baenre has been successful in ferreting out and elimi nating numerous chal lengers to its rule. Baenr Compound House Baenre occupies the highest tier i n the main cavern ofMenzoberranzan, at the eastern end of Qu'ellarz'orl. The compound is roughly oval in shape, three-eighths of a mile long and a quarter-mile wide, surrounded by a magnifcent and magical fence that has the appearance of a silver spider's web wrapped around the general blue hues of the Baenre com pound.
Twenty feet high, this barrier is formed of iron strands as thick as a draw's arm, and enchanted so that anything touchi ng it becomes stuck fast until the matron mother of the house wills it to be freed.
Rumors suggest that not even the sharpest of drow weapons can put a nick in this Lolth-given gift. Entrance is gained through one of several symmetri cal web-gates, the principal one being set between the outer compound's tallest two stalagmites, which spiral out, creating a circular gap. The central structure of House Baenre i s a glow ing, purple dome, which covers a chapel large enough to seat all 2, of the house drow. Around its anchoring symmetry, twenty huge stalagmite mounds extend upward in a variety of shapes, some tall and slender, others short and squat, all interconnected with gracefully sweeping and arching bridges and parapets.
These chambers are hollow, with their inte riors providing living space for the house members. Even more striking are the inverse structures of the thirty stalactites that loom over the compound. Not all are hollow like the stalagmite mounds, but each i s ri nged with balconies, curving downward like the edges of a screw. Some connect tip-to-tip with sta lagmite mounds; others hang freely, except for stone skywalks l i nking them to other structures. A thousand soldiers, adorned i n their meticulous Baenre silver uniforms and displaying badges distin guishing their house and rank, are always on patrol along these skywalks and balconies.
It had first received serious attention in R. Salvatore's novel, Homeland The Resurrected Races. City of Intrigue wasn't just a setting book for the drow city in the Underdark; it also focused on the idea of players taking on the role of drow! The dark elf race had been a popular PC race since the publication of Unearthed Arcana , a few years before the debut of Drizzt Do'Urden.
The drow of the Realms received more detail in FOR2: Besides providing ideas for playing and GMing drow, Menzoberranzan also contains considerable information on the houses and factions of the city. The Product Tie-In. City of Intrigue was part of a massive multimedia crossover called Rise of the Underdark, which had begun a few months previous with the final 4e roleplaying supplement, Into the Unknown: Menzoberranzan was closely tied to two Rise of the Underdark releases: Encounters Season 10, "Council of Spiders" provided a drow PC adventure, while the Drow Treachery Fortune Cards offered new drow-centric Fortune Cards where players could cause troubles for each other.
Exploring the Realms. City of Intrigue brings together geographical details of the Realms that were previously available two decades earlier in FOR2: The Drow of the Underdark and the original Menzoberranzan It also contains some information simultaneously being published in "Council of Spiders" Alongside this reprinted material — covering the setting of Menzoberranzan, the houses of Menzoberranzan, and the drow of the Realms — Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue also advances the timeline of the city.
This includes details on how the War of the Spider Queen changed the city and totally new material on the Spellplague. The result turns the system-neutral Menzoberranzan supplement into an era-neutral supplement that allows players to run Menzoberranzan in any era, from its 2e origins to the 4e present-day. Some of Menzoberranzan also moves beyond the city into the Underdark that surrounds it: This brings together a number of classic realms, including Mithral Hall from R.
Most of the locales in the Northdark are described in just a paragraph or two, but nonetheless the section links the UnderRealms together. About the Creators. Menge had previously contributed to Demonomicon and Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale for 4e, while this was Menge's first major writing for the game.
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