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The Blood War

Throughout history, the teeming hordes of the Abyss and the strictly regimented legions of the Nine Hells have battled for supremacy in the cosmos. In the mortal world, the scant few scholars, arcanists, and adventurers who know the conflict for what it is refer to it as the Blood War.

The fighting takes place across the Lower Planes, on the Material Plane, and anywhere else that demons and devils might congregate. From time to time, demons spill out of the Abyss to invade Avernus, the uppermost layer of the Nine Hells. While the devils defend their home turf, they also make strikes against locations in the Abyss. Although the intensity of the conflict waxes and wanes, and the front lines of the war can shift drastically, a moment never goes by when demons and devils aren't battling each other somewhere in the multiverse.

The Great Dance

The battle lines in the Blood War undulate like a writhing snake. Each time one side gains an advantage, invariably its lines weaken somewhere else. Demons enter the Nine Hells by following the River Styx from the Abyss into Avernus. By hiring skilled merrenoloth pilots to navigate the river, a demon lord can transport an invasion force of enormous size.

Mimicking a complex dance, the two sides shift their attacks and trade positions with each passing day. About once every thousand years, the demons close in on the lower reaches of the Styx and portals leading deeper into the Hells. Invariably, the legions of the Nine Hells boil up from below to repel the invaders out of Avernus, back to the juncture where the Styx enters the Hells. This drive by the devils attracts the attention of more demons from the Abyss, which pushes the front line back into Avernus. The process repeats itself time and time again.

To the good fortune of the rest of the multiverse, almost all the battles in the Blood War take place in the Abyss and the Nine Hells. Whether by cosmic chance or the design of some unknown power, the dark waters of the Styx provide passage between the two planes, but pathways to other realms are at best fleeting and unreliable. Despite the difficulty of escaping the Lower Planes, combatants on both sides find their way to the Material Plane and other realms from time to time. Although the conflicts on these other planes are little more than skirmishes in the Blood War, even a small number of demons and devils can wreak havoc and bring destruction wherever they see fit to do battle.

Mortals and Minions

Devils and demons are far from the only combatants in the Blood War. Both sides exploit the Material Plane's most abundant resource—mortal creatures, whose bodies and souls are both useful to the cause.

Devils constantly strive to recruit mortals into their ranks by offering them rewards in return for their service.

While they live, these cultists carry out the wishes of their archdevil masters, whether raiding an enemy outpost or gathering more members for the cult. When a cultist dies, its soul emerges in the Nine Hells and becomes another of the Blood War's immortal soldiers. Most of the evil souls consigned to an afterlife in the Nine Hells become lemures, which make up the vast majority of the hellish forces, but some mortal recruits who willingly accept a contract offer from a powerful devil can arrive as a lesser devil.

Demons generally have no regard for mortal souls and do not solicit them, but living creatures do have their uses. Groups of corrupted cultists dedicated to one of the demon lords exist all across the realms of the material world. For as long as these mortals do the bidding of their lord, they are allowed to live. From a demon's perspective, all other living creatures are nothing more than sheep ripe for slaughter, and demonic cultists share this view. These fanatics don't hesitate to slay other mortals if given the chance—and if their victims happen to be in league with devils, so much the better.

A casual observer might suppose that two forces of evil bent on exterminating each other would be an advantageous situation for the forces of good, but the combatants in the Blood War have no regard for collateral damage—and on the Material Plane, they can cause a lot of it. If agents of Asmodeus discover a thriving demon cult in a city, they might deal with the threat by starting a fire that not only destroys the cult but burns through several neighborhoods and kills hundreds of innocents. A demon might unleash a plague to kill every person in a town, just for the sake of claiming from its library an old book containing a map to a lost artifact. The fiends on both sides of the Blood War take the path of least resistance to their goals, heedless of consequences that don't affect them.

Agents of Treachery

Both sides in the Blood War employ spies and soldiers drawn from the ranks of other evil creatures of the planes. The devils are generally more successful at this tactic because of the discipline they can bring to bear on these ostensible allies. Even so, powerful, intelligent demon lords such as Graz'zt can also force their agents to do their bidding under threat of annihilation.

As creatures that don't favor either cause, because they care nothing for the philosophical concerns of law and chaos, other fiends including incubi, succubi, and night hags work for whichever side offers the best compensation. Demons use them as insurrectionists in the Nine Hells, inciting rebellion and defiance. The devils employ such creatures as scouts, who use their magic and other abilities to navigate the Abyss and gain intelligence about the demons' activities. Adventurers hired by an agent of the Nine Hells to make a foray into the Abyss are customarily guided by such a mercenary.

The Search for Secrets

The Blood War has all the characteristics of an eternal stalemate, in part because the two sides are so familiar with each other. Every time the Abyss belches forth some new variety of horror, the disciplined and well-trained legions of the Nine Hells reorganize, rally, and counterattack. The devils continually dream up variations on their attack strategies, only to be checked by the overwhelming chaotic force of the Abyss. Little true advancement occurs under the angry red sky of Avernus or in any other realm where the forces clash.

The leaders of each side recognize that the introduction of some unexpected factor could permanently affect the balance of power. Accordingly, demons and devils constantly send their agents across the planes in search of artifacts, powerful creatures to recruit, and other resources that could lead to a key advantage in the war. Adventurers of great repute might get involved in such a quest, either as unwitting pawns or as an independent force pursuing its own ends.

Cosmic Battlefield

The Blood War rages along the length of the River Styx. Direct confrontations between demons and devils erupt along its banks, making any of the Lower Planes the Styx touches a potential battleground.

The devils view fighting demons on Avernus as a net benefit for their cause. Although most devils slain there are destroyed forever, ready access to supplies and support from the Nine Hells tilts the tide heavily against invading demons. Also, the prospect of a permanent death compels the devils fighting on Avernus to maintain the utmost readiness and coordination. Wounded devils retreat, knowing that fresh reinforcements can continue the fight. Hordes of lemures, devils that are permanently destroyed only if subjected to holy energies, are used to blunt demonic incursions. The terrain of Avernus is thoroughly mapped and festooned with ambush points, strongholds, and other defensive measures.

Sailing the Styx

The River Styx frustrates every attempt to map it or predict its course. Although anyone can try to navigate it, only merrenoloths, the yugoloth ferrymen of the Styx, can faultlessly negotiate the Styx's treacherous waters. For a price, merrenoloths will carry anyone safely and swiftly across planar boundaries. The greater the distance and the more perilous the passengers to be ferried, the higher the price.

Getting lost while sailing the Styx isn't the only danger the river presents. Merely tasting or touching its waters causes most creatures to become stupefied, and drinking fully or being immersed for too long can render that condition permanent, robbing a creature of all its memories. Fiends don't fear being momentarily exposed to the Styx, but—with the notable exception of hydroloths, merrenoloths, and amnizus—even they can't retain their memories if they drink from the River Styx or swim for too long in its waters.

More important, demons that are slain and sent back to the Abyss return to their chaotic wanderings in that realm. A demon lord is thus hard pressed to keep a horde cohesive as it takes casualties. If the devils extended a tenacious defense out to the planes beyond Avernus, they could keep the demons away from Hell's doorstep, but such a strategy would place a great strain on supplies, reinforcements, and unit integrity. Although the devils killed in such places would recover, their weapons, armor, and other materials would remain lost.

The Devilish Point of View

Although the basic facts of the Blood War aren't subject to debate, a host of theories exist that attempt to explain why the conflict erupted in the first place.

The devils fight as a matter of pride mixed with burning resentment for a cosmic order that refuses to acknowledge their role as overseers of the multiverse. To the devils' way of thinking, the Nine Hells are the front line in the demons' war against all of creation, and the fate of the cosmos depends on the devils' ability to blunt the invasion and send the demons back to the Abyss.

In fact, devils believe that the demons would have long ago swept across the multiverse but for the unflinching rule of law that underlies the actions of the infernal leaders and their armies. If necessary, a general must not hesitate to sacrifice entire legions to stall an enemy advance or punch a hole through an enemy phalanx. Iron discipline combined with a ruthless focus on victory at any cost is what fuels the devils' war machine.

Every devil takes a grim pride in its service in the Blood War. Talk to one for a short time, and it will reveal the scars earned during its time in Avernus and tell tales of the great battles it has seen. Talk to one for a little longer, and it will inform you that you are alive only because of the devils' heroic efforts. If there was truly justice in the world, it would tell you, the multiverse would bend its knee to the Nine Hells in thanks for the devils' role in preserving the cosmos.

Legions of the Damned

Most of the forces of the Nine Hells are grouped into three types of legions that each play a role in repelling the invading demons. Incompetent or weak devils fill out the dreg legions, composed mainly of hordes of lemures and nupperibos. They are deployed as a delaying tactic, serving as fodder to slow down an advancing horde of demons while sword legions organize their counterattacks and shield legions establish their defenses. Each legion within a category has a distinctive, fearsome—sounding name in the Infernal tongue. When translated into Common, these names are often descriptive of the legion's status or battle-worthiness, such as the ones given below.

Dreg Legions

Bugs in the System, Momentary Lapse of Progress, Casualties Imminent, Last in Line for Healing, Not Worth the Effort

Shield Legions

Moment of Silence, Welcome to the Hells, Pleased to Meet You, Front toward Enemy, End of the Line

Sword Legions

Flawless Execution, Damned Good, The Hanging Blade, Inevitable Outcome, A Taste for Carnage

The Demonic Point of View

Most other creatures believe demons to be little more than mindless engines of destruction and violence. If that supposition were true, the Blood War should have ended long ago, since the tactical and strategic genius of the archdevils would have made quick work of the hordes that erupt from the Abyss. In fact, even though demons are quintessentially chaotic, their evilness combines with that outlook to produce a fiendish, subtle shrewdness. Demon lords and other powerful entities exert control over their armies that enables the forces to accomplish goals that would be beyond the capabilities of a leaderless mob. To the demons that have intelligence enough to appreciate their role in it, the Blood War offers an endless source of diversion underscored by resentment of a cosmic order that refuses to admit their superiority.

As the devils have surmised, the demons invade Avernus because it is easily accessible from the Abyss. But some sages and demonologists maintain that even if that were not the case, the Nine Hells would still be the demons' prime target. If the demons sent out a large force to invade a different plane, this theory holds, the devils would be able to marshal allies from across all the planes to rise up against the Abyss and end its threat forever.

Instead, as long as the demons focus most of their efforts on the doorstep of the Nine Hells, realms such as the Seven Heavens and Bytopia are loath to commit aid to defend a plane that is inimical to everything they stand for by aiding the devils directly.

Therefore, the demons assault the Nine Hells over and over not only because it is the greatest threat to their dominion, but also because striking in force anywhere else would play into the devils' hands.

Yugoloths: Fickle Allies

Yugoloths are major players on both sides of the Blood War. The death of a yugoloth is meaningless when it occurs in the Abyss or the Nine Hells, and thus these mercenaries freely give their all in any battle even when it means fighting other yugoloths. Demons and devils both know that a yugoloth's loyalty is constantly for sale-even during a conflict on the battlefield-and a yugoloth never agrees to a contract that prohibits it from seeking a better offer. This set of circumstances prompts hellish and abyssal armies to carry war chests with them in the hope of buying the services of the yugoloths on the other side. The war chests themselves thus become highly prized targets, which in turn leads to protective measures, such as valuables hidden in {@item bag of holding|dmg|bags of holding} or empty treasure containers used to lure the enemy into a trap.

Regardless of the side that hires them, yugoloths almost never fight on their home plane of Gehenna despite the fact that both sides sometimes traverse it and many battles of the Blood War are fought there. A yugoloth killed in Gehenna can't be restored to life except through an exceptional ritual, so the sums required to entice one to fight on its home plane are astronomical ... and making such a bargain always draws the attention of the ultroloths.

The Balance

The demons and the devils both foresee their own versions of the future of the multiverse-a cosmos in which one side or the other triumphs in the Blood War and rules for the rest of eternity. A third point of view exists, held by those who take both sides at their word and strive to make sure that neither outcome ever comes to pass.

The adherents of this viewpoint refer to the concept they espouse as the Balance, and they seek to maintain equilibrium across the cosmos above all. Mordenkainen and his compatriots are among its most notable devotees. Since a true appreciation of the Balance and its implications requires a grasp of events on a cosmic level, very few people or entities fully embrace the idea. Those few, however, make up a formidable force that can mix martial and magical power to keep the extremists of the Blood War in check.

To an outside observer, a disciple of the Balance might act cruelly or heartlessly one day, and benevolent and caring the next. A follower might aid in consigning one city to domination by a devil cult while driving demonic cultists from another. For the sake of the Balance, the cosmos must remain in a static state where neither demon nor devil can permanently gain the upper hand.

Keepers of the Balance sometimes resort to strategies that seem inexplicable to those who don't grasp the whole situation. A crusading paladin might be discouraged from seeking out and defeating Demogorgon, because doing so could weaken the Abyss enough to allow the forces of the Nine Hells to gain a firm foothold there. An adherent of the Balance might vie with a great arcanist as both search for knowledge of a ritual that would cripple Asmodeus for a short time. The arcanist correctly believes that performing the ritual would free a world of the Material Plane from the devils' taint, but doesn't appreciate that it also would bring a grievous setback to the forces that had been keeping the demons from overrunning Avernus.

Those who vow to maintain the Balance make enemies wherever they go, because their full reasons for acting as they do aren't always apparent. The fact that some of these adherents embrace the Balance to further their personal quests for power makes it impossible to count on them as allies with complete certainty.

Lords of the Nine

From his throne at the bottom of the Nine Hells, Asmodeus commands a sprawling bureaucracy tied to a massive war apparatus dedicated to turning back the demons that invade the uppermost realm of Avernus, and to taking the fight to the other planes, including the Abyss, whenever the opportunity arises.

Asmodeus and the other archdevils rule over the nine layers that comprise the Hells. The devil lords make up a hierarchy that is both rigid and fragile. Although Asmodeus is more powerful than any other lord, he has to be constantly wary of treachery within his ranks. It could be said that the true ruler of the Nine Hells is the immense body of rules and regulations that dictate how all devils, even Asmodeus, must conduct themselves.

Layers and Rulers of the Nine Hells

Layers and Rulers of the Nine Hells
LayerLayer NameRuler
4PhlegethosBelial and Fierna


Asmodeus is an unmatched strategist and orator. The most epic of all his achievements is chronicled in {@i The Trial of Asmodeus,} a play based on purportedly true events as researched by the aasimar bard Anodius.

In ancient times, as the Blood War raged, the angels of law and good that dwell on Mount Celestia issued a decree accusing Asmodeus of terrible crimes. Outraged by such claims, the Lord of the Nine Hells petitioned for the right to answer the charges before his accusers. The angels, although shocked at his impudence, accepted his petition and agreed to hear the bargain he proposed. Both sides, he suggested, would present their case to Primus, leader of the modrons. As a creature of absolute law, Primus could be trusted to issue a fair and impartial verdict. Asmodeus drafted a contract to seal the deal, and the angels-after carefully scrutinizing the terms-agreed to the trial.

When he testified before Primus, Asmodeus attributed his actions to the dictates of law and the survival of the cosmos. He admitted that he swayed mortals to evil, but he and his minions never breached a contract and explained the terms clearly. Had they not obeyed the rule of law in doing so? Was it not mortal ambition, rather than infernal deception, that led so many souls astray?

Asmodeus also pointed out that the souls harvested from the Material Plane went on to serve in the infernal legions that repel the endless tide of the Abyss. Were not such souls put to good use against the demonic hordes, a power that if unchecked would scour the universe of all lawfulness and goodness?

He further asserted that he was bound to the rules and traditions of the Nine Hells, compelled to adhere to law and to maintain the devils' trafficking in souls. If he violated those laws, he would be no better than the demons he fought. Mortals who refused a devil's offer were left alone, in accordance with the law. Those who struck deals with his followers and then somehow turned the contracts against the devils were freed from their debts. A contract is the law, and the law is a contract.

Primus weighed Asmodeus's words and listened patiently as angel after angel testified to his crimes. Hours turned to days and days into weeks as more and more of his sins entered the court record.

Even Primus's patience has its limits, and in time, the remaining angels who were eager to testify were told that only a few more would be allowed to speak. A brawl broke out when one angel, Zariel, pushed her way to the front and demanded to be heard. As the scuffle turned into a battle, Asmodeus looked on with a smirk.

In the end, Primus declined to issue a definitive judgment. He rebuked the angels for their descent into infighting, but didn't punish Asmodeus for his evil ways. He did, however, order Asmodeus to forever carry a mighty artifact, the Ruby Rod, that would guarantee his adherence to law. The artifact, which has remained at Asmodeus's side ever since, grants him and his underlings the right to enter into contracts with mortals for their souls but unleashes an inescapable punishment upon any devil that breaches such a contract.

He Who Would Rule

Asmodeus wants to rule the cosmos. Under his watch, he believes, the universe would take on a pristine, perfect state, with every living creature assigned a place in the infernal hierarchy. Wars would end, and every creature would have a purpose to fulfill. The universe would be a utopia, at least as Asmodeus views such a thing.

Of course, as he sees it, Asmodeus is the only being with the charisma, strength, and insight necessary to shepherd in this ideal future. His rivals are inferiors who, if left to their own devices, will turn the cosmos into a demon-infested maelstrom. The powers of good are sentimental fools, too delicate and soft to do what must be done. In his mind, Asmodeus has been chosen by the universe to protect it from annihilation.

If Asmodeus were any less capable, his arrogance would have led to his undoing long ago. Yet still he sits atop his throne, having thwarted every conspiracy mounted against him. He once walked into the lair of one of his enemies in Mount Celestia and survived using nothing more than his words and his wits. Even his most ardent enemies must grudgingly admit that his skill and competence are unparalleled.

Power without Limit

Unlike the other Lords of the Nine, Asmodeus has no quota of souls to fill. Any soul recruited by any denizen of the Nine Hells is also pledged in his name, and a cult dedicated to any other devil is also dedicated to him. Because he doesn't need to spend his time courting mortals, he concentrates on manipulating demigods and beings of similar station. Occasionally, he lures such a being into a contract and adds a new, unique devil to the ranks of the Hells. His most recent recruit is Zariel, a former angel. His supposed daughter, Glasya, is thought by some sages to be a godlike entity of unknown origin.

Lord of Nessus

Asmodeus resides in Nessus, the bottommost layer of the Nine Hells. By design, the place is devoid of activity, since Asmodeus values his privacy and safety. The environment is a rocky wasteland, crisscrossed by deep fissures and lacking roads, bridges, and other means of passage. Asmodeus dwells in a great fortress somewhere in the wasteland, at the bottom of its deepest pit. Only his most trusted followers and most important advisors know the route to it. He remains inside, relying on messengers and magic to convey his dictates.


Zariel was once an angel, but her impetuous nature and love of battle led to her fall. In her previous life, she was charged with observing the battles on Avernus and tracking their progress. From this exposure, she grew obsessed with the Blood War, and a thirst for battle grew within her that she couldn't ignore. In time, she became frustrated that she and the other angels were forced to remain spectators while the demons and devils battled. The hosts of Mount Celestia, she believed, could descend upon Avernus en masse and wipe both hordes of evil from the cosmos if they so desired.

After her repeated requests to join the fray were denied, her frustration overtook her, and she launched herself into the Blood War. Accompanied by a mob of mortal followers, she cut a swath through a legion of devils before their numbers overwhelmed her. A delegation of bone devils later dispatched to the site by Asmodeus recovered her unconscious form beneath a small mountain of her slaughtered enemies. After allowing her to recover in the depths of Nessus, Asmodeus installed her on Avernus as his champion and new lord of that layer.

A Fighting General

When Zariel supplanted the pit fiend Bel as the ruler of Avernus, that change signaled a major shift in the devils' tactics. Zariel's fiery temperament and reckless maneuvering stand in stark contrast to Bel's approach, which relied on his expertise in logistics and defensive tactics to make steady but slow advances. Bel remains one of her chief lieutenants, and he doesn't discourage her reckless tactics in the hope that she will overextend her forces and suffer a defeat that leads to her removal.

For now, though, the devils are fighting with a berserker fury under her charge. Zariel leads their offensives herself, and her unyielding resolve coupled with the fighting skill of her underlings has pushed nearly all the demonic invaders out of Avernus.

The Warrior's General

Zariel is no politician. She lives to fight, and she bases her assessment of those she meets on a combination of their combat skills and their willingness to use those skills. In Zariel's eyes, zeal and fury are as important in a fight as iron discipline and extensive training.

That outlook has made her something of a political pariah, since she has spurned overtures of alliance from other Lords of the Nine and elected to swell the ranks of her armies through the aggressive recruitment of mortal souls. Her agents offer gifts of martial skill and courage to any who are willing to bargain. Zariel needs souls that yearn to prove their worth on the battlefield.

Lady of Ruin

Zariel rules over the ruin that Avernus has become. Once it was a bustling realm filled with cities, trade outposts, and other features, but recent activity in the Blood War has reduced it to a blasted wasteland. The few structures still standing are citadels constructed by the devils to repel attackers, to be rebuilt each time the front line of the war moves. The devils are in control of Avernus at present, though the fighting goes on (as it always does) in isolated locales throughout the layer.

Adventurers able to avoid the other occupants can find treasure within some of the ruins, though they must venture to the fringes of the active conflict to have any hope of finding places that have not yet been looted. Many of the active citadels on Avernus loom over the River Styx or surround portals to other planes or to Dis. An amnizu presides over each location, directing the lemures that emerge from the Styx, marshaling forces against invaders, and preventing unauthorized travel.

Tiamat Waits and Watches

The Queen of Dragons resides in Avernus. Her lairs sits atop a towering mountain, with flights of dragons wheeling through the skies to discourage any demonic incursions. For their part, the demons avoid this place. The hordes of the Abyss have learned the hard way that Tiamat and her court prefer to be left alone. She appears disinterested in becoming involved in the Blood War.

Tiamat's presence in Avernus has confounded sages for years. As with devils, she is unable to leave the plane of her own will. She must be called forth, but only the mightiest rituals can draw her back into the world. So, if she has been imprisoned here, how and why did that come about?

The most prevalent theory holds that her confinement is related to the end of the long war between the dragons and giants, that she was sequestered here by means of a mighty curse levied by a forgotten god of the giants she slew. The curse brought an end to the war but also drew the curtain on the time of the dragons and giants on the Material Plane, clearing the way for the rise of humans, orcs, dwarves, elves, and other folk. If Tiamat were to return to the material world, that event could trigger, or be a signal of, the resumption of the war between giants and dragons.


Dispater is the foremost arms dealer of the Nine Hells, and perhaps the greatest weapons supplier in all the planes. As the lord of Dis, he oversees a mining and smelting operation that continually churns out weapons and armor. Using some of the great number of secret techniques Dispater has unearthed over his lifetime, the foundries of Dis produce deadly armaments that help to stem the abyssal tide. The fighting requires constant reinforcements, creating a voracious appetite for the products of the iron mines on Dis and the workshops in the sprawling metropolis that shares the name of the layer.

Dispater trusts no one and dislikes surprises. Since Zariel's rise to power, he has taken to dwelling in the libraries inside his iron palace. He employs a network of spies and informants to watch over anyone that might threaten him, a measure of his deep paranoia. Dispater has created an impenetrable suit of adamantine armor for himself, imbued with charms designed to foil spells and keep him safe in any environment, no matter how hostile. No one can guess at all of its features, since he crafted it using methods that only he has mastered.

Dispater's paranoia affects everything he does. For example, he often dispatches orders and other missives by branding his message on the back of an imp. The imp wears a leather vest that conceals the message, and the laces of the vest are knitted into the imp's heart. If the vest is removed by anyone other than the intended recipient, that act kills the imp and causes its body to disintegrate before the message can be read.

The lord of Dis measures everything in terms of the knowledge it contains and the secrets that can be gleaned from it. He yearns to solve every mystery of the cosmos, a quest that might seem foolhardy for anyone other than an immortal being. Any hint of a secret that remains hidden draws his attention, and a discovery that could tip the scales in his favor might be enough to entice him to act against his fellow Lords of the Nine.

Given his reclusive nature, gaining an audience with Dispater is difficult at best, with no guarantee that any correspondence truly reaches him.

The Greatest Game

Dispater's trade in souls is concerned mainly with the acquisition of secrets. His imps scour the Material Plane in search of any lost lore that could help to turn a soul to Dispater's service. Such a secret could be a lost spell sought by a mighty archmage, who pledges fealty to Dispater in return for the knowledge, or it could be the identity of a petitioner's secret admirer. Dispater and his minions know that the perceived value of a secret is a highly subjective matter. A farmer has no use for an arcane spell that could incinerate a legion of warriors, but the promise of knowing which crops will sell best over the coming years might persuade him to enter into an infernal compact.

To Dispater, all of reality is a contest played out under secret rules. If he can discover the principles that define the true nature of the cosmos, he can learn how to ascend to the top of the Nine Hells' hierarchy and then eventually the entire planar order. He covets the souls of those who seek secrets and those who have useful, secret information of their own that he can bargain for.


Mammon is the foremost merchant and miser of the Nine Hells, and perhaps the richest entity in all the planes. As the lord of Minauros, Mammon oversees the soul trade. While those who pledge their souls are claimed by the devil they bargained with, lawful evil creatures that aren't bound by any contract emerge from the River Styx as lemures. Roving bands of soul-mongers patrol the river's banks, harvesting the newly created devils. On its arrival, each soul passes through the capital of Minauros, the Sinking City, and is recorded. The soul is then distributed to whoever should claim it, according to contracts in force and laws in effect. Mammon appropriates any extra lemures for himself and sells them for profit.

Mammon has accumulated a great treasure hoard, but spends only a small portion of it on maintaining his domain. As a result, Minauros is a fetid, wretched place, its structures characterized by cheap construction, flimsy materials, and shoddy artisanship.

Everything Has a Price

Mammon measures everything in terms of its value in gold. He cares only for the material gain that a transaction can provide for him. He never rests, and spends every waking moment pursuing schemes to fatten his treasury. He looks for every opportunity to make his processes more efficient, so that he can rake in more and more gold in a given span of time.

Mammon's obsession with wealth and efficiency make him a dangerous entity to entreat. He enters any bargain with the goal of making a profit. Those who waste his time or tarry in their dealings with him are likely to incur his wrath. If he can't make an acceptable profit in return for the time he has spent, he can at least vent his frustration by grinding the offending party into a thick, bloody sludge.

Financier of the Hells

Mammon's wealth is his primary way of exerting power and influence. He offers monetary loans to other devils in return for service, favors, or items he desires. From time to time, he dips into his coffers to attract mercenaries to ensure that a particularly virulent demonic advance is stopped-always in the expectation that the current lord of Avernus turns loot and booty obtained from the defeated demons over to him.

When they bargain with mortals, Mammon and his minions can offer irresistible wealth. Devils that are tasked with harvesting souls for Mammon carry with them The Accounting and Valuation of All Things, a manual that guides them in assessing the value of a soul in gold or other goods. The amount of gold that is needed to incite the greed of mortals is a minuscule drain on Mammon's treasury, but the transactions that he and his followers consummate draw in more souls than the efforts of any other Lord of the Nine.

A Shabby Kingdom

The layer of Minauros teeters on the edge of ruin. The realm is a great swamp, interspersed with cities and fortresses that are in constant need of repair, upkeep, and replacement. Time and again, structures built on this layer are left untended and are eventually drawn into the bottomless muck of the swamp.

Mammon refuses to spend any more coin than necessary to keep the soul marketplace in the Sinking City functioning. Devils and fiends from across the planes gather here to trade souls. The place bustles with activity as caravans arrive and depart and merchants haggle over their wares. Buildings rest haphazardly atop the ruins of those that have sloughed into the muck. The roads are little more than huge stones sunk into the swamp, needing constant replacement as they slowly submerge until the mud consumes them.

Fierna and Belial

In the flaming realm of Phlegethos, Fierna and Belial rule in strange tandem. They are variously thought of by mortals as mother and son, daughter and father, wife and husband, or ruler and consort, but none of those terms can capture the paradoxical nature of their partnership. The Nine Hells is a hierarchy in which two individuals can't normally hold the same position as ruler of a single layer. Yet Asmodeus allows these two to claim dominion over Phlegethos as partners and rivals.

Fierna's charisma, equaled only by that of Asmodeus, makes her a brilliant manipulator capable of filling mortal and immortal hearts with whatever emotion she chooses to evoke. Belial, meanwhile, doesn't attempt to sway others with his interpersonal skills and focuses on the duties of ruling a layer of the Nine Hells. The two seem to hate and admire one another in equal measure and are in constant competition. Every time Belial outthinks Fierna, she talks her way out of whatever trap he has devised. Fierna stages insurrections against Belial, but his contingency plans rescue him from possible disaster. Other devils might gain a brief advantage over the two lords because of their infighting, but whenever any true threat to their rule arises, the seeming enemies cooperate to dispatch pretenders to their shared throne.

Fiery Realm of Dark Delights

The pair rules over Phlegethos, an expanse filled with immense volcanoes that expel rivers of lava into a sea of molten rock. The fires that burn throughout Phlegethos seem to be sentient. They leap at intruders, appearing to take delight in setting creatures and objects aflame.

At the same time, the fires of Phlegethos do no harm to any denizens of the Nine Hells. Even devils that are susceptible to fire suffer no injury or pain from exposure to them. The realm's primary city, Abriymoch, is a pleasure palace of sorts for devils that are enjoying a respite from their duties. Abriymoch is filled with devilish versions of taverns, theaters, casinos, and other entertainments. In contrast to the stiff regimentation of the rest of the Nine Hells, the laws that govern Abriymoch allow the place to operate as a carnival in which any wanton desire can be fulfilled.

Justice in All Its Forms

Phlegethos is the center of the Nine Hells' judicial system, which is overseen by Belial. Any disputes regarding contracts, accusations of cowardice in battle or dereliction of duty, and other criminal charges are resolved here. The Diabolical Court is an independent institution, answering only to Asmodeus. That fact doesn't discourage devils from constantly plotting to introduce new laws or to set precedents that they find advantageous. The court's function and its decisions are wholly dependent on the intricate laws of the Nine Hells, an impossibly complex code marred by a multitude of loopholes and exceptions that can cause any legal dealings to drag out for years before a resolution is reached.

Belial and his underlings also administer the procedure that determines the fate of devils that are in line for promotion or demotion. At the culmination of the process, the candidates are made vulnerable to the fires of Phlegethos through a special ritual designed for this purpose. The flames either bring searing agony that reduces a devil to a weaker form, or ecstatic joy that transforms it into a mightier being.

Soul Searching

Like the rulers of the other layers, Belial and Fierna have a quota of souls they must meet. Belial largely leaves this task to Fierna, even turning over to her the mortals that directly contact him. Fierna offers her supplicants the gift of personal influence, endowing them with a glib tongue and the ability to mold others' emotions as they see fit. Her agents typically concentrate on swaying mortals who already seek to manipulate others. Mortals who are desperate to attain positions of power and status entreat her, as do those who-for whatever reason-need to be loved, feared, or respected.

Fierna takes a direct interest in the soul trade. Her prodigious intellect allows her to glean the best information from the mountains of reports generated by her agents on the Material Plane. Fierna sometimes personally takes a role in bending a mortal's emotions to her will, as a way to better understand the workings of mortal hearts and minds. What she or Belial intends to do with their accumulated knowledge none can definitively say, but rumors exist that Fierna has stolen the secret of how to travel freely between the Nine Hells and the Material Plane from the archlich Vecna. The fact that the denizens of the Nine Hells take such rumors seriously is a clear indication of their respect for Fierna's power.


Even by the otherworldly standards of the Nine Hells, the realm of Stygia and its lord, Levistus, both occupy strange positions in the hierarchy. Stygia is a frozen wasteland of mysterious origin, a churning, murky sea covered in a thick layer of ice. Where the ice gives way to open water, immense icebergs drift on the unpredictable currents. Levistus is trapped within one of these bergs, imprisoned there by Asmodeus for reasons that few can even guess about.

As part of Levistus's punishment, Asmodeus decreed that he must offer escape and safety to the desperate, especially those who fear for their lives. A criminal might entreat Levistus on the eve of his execution, for instance, agreeing to exchange his soul for a boon that enables him to escape to safety. With nothing to do in his tomb other than answer distant entreaties from the Material Plane, Levistus has attracted the devotion of a wide variety of criminals, rascals, and ne'er-do-wells across a multitude of worlds. He continues to meet his quota of souls, both despite his lack of mobility and because of it. Being imprisoned means that Levistus can focus his full attention on such matters, which allows him to excel at what he does.

A Contested Realm

Levistus was not always the lord of Stygia. The archdevil Geryon previously ruled over the layer. The two constantly vied for control of Stygia. The conflict ended when Asmodeus brought down his punishment on Levistus, who was frozen just after his latest victory over Geryon. The displaced lord still schemes to supplant Levistus as ruler of the realm, but he can't directly affect his foe, since the ice that imprisons Levistus is impervious to harm.

Violence does, however, remain a viable option for Geryon against Levistus's servants. As such, Stygia has become a war-wracked realm. Any devils bound to either of the archdevils that aren't needed for service in the Blood War engage in constant skirmishes across the ice, and yugoloths and other mercenaries from across the planes play a key role in the struggle. Both sides sometimes employ adventurers to seek out knowledge that could free Levistus or allow Geryon to vanquish him and ascend to the lordship.

Geryon fulfills his responsibilities in the soul trade by continuing to court mortals through his agents, offering them superior strength and great physical prowess in return for their allegiance.

A Frozen Wasteland

Every other layer of the Nine Hells has a function related to warfare, industry, administration, or commerce, but Stygia is an expanse of untamed, unimproved territory. Even so, it has its uses. All manner of unlikely beasts wander the frozen terrain and swim the seas, including remorhazes, krakens, mammoths, and even a few tribes of frost giants. These denizens have no fear of any other creatures, including devils, which makes the place an ideal proving ground. Lesser devils that need to sharpen their combat skills or improve their endurance before reporting to Avernus for duty in the Blood War spend time in Stygia. The cruelly cold environment, combined with the constant threat of attack, helps commanders assess their troops and place them into the various legions as appropriate for the skills they demonstrate.

The presence of so many creatures native to the Material Plane has led to speculation that Stygia was not always a layer of the Hells, but was previously a world on the Material Plane. Its inhabitants, facing annihilation, are said to have pledged their souls and their world to Asmodeus in return for a safe haven-whereupon Asmodeus kept his end of the bargain by transporting the world into the Hells. The archmage Tzunk has researched the topic extensively but has yet to find any evidence that truly confirms the account. If the supposition is true, then the riches of that world might lie under miles of ice and beneath frigid, monster-infested seas.


Malbolge is the prison of the Nine Hells, and on this layer dwells its most infamous criminal. Glasya, the rebellious daughter of Asmodeus, rules the place and oversees the punishments doled out to devils that stray from their assigned tasks. These lawbreakers are put on trial in Phlegethos, and if they are found guilty they are dispatched to Malbolge to endure years of torment. That Glasya is both prison warden and the Nine Hells' most notorious criminal is evidence that in the infernal realms, crime pays as long as you avoid being convicted.

Prison and Torture Chamber

Malbolge comprises one infinitely large, steep-sloped mountain. Boulders and other debris rain down from its heights in frequent avalanches. Some of the structures here are erected atop pillars of adamantine embedded in the mountain that can withstand the constant battering, though the platforms they support sway under the force of the onslaught. Condemned devils are typically trapped in cages, which are lowered on chains to hang beneath the platforms. From such a vantage, the prisoners are continually battered by Malbolge's avalanches, causing injuries that are agonizing but never fatal.

Some locations on the mountain are shielded from the rockfall by structures that have projections pointing up-slope so that avalanches wash around the protected areas beneath. Roofed trenches and tunnels make travel between locations possible, if perilous.

A Singular Iconoclast

Of all the Lords of the Nine, Glasya is the most unpredictable. She flaunts the rules of tradition and bends the law without breaking it. She delights in shocking others by springing gambits that catch them unaware. Mortals who go up against overwhelming odds with an audacious plan attract her attention and could win her respect and patronage.

The reason behind Glasya's rise to lordship is the subject of much whispered debate in the Nine Hells. It is generally known that Asmodeus presented Glasya to the Lords of the Nine as his daughter, and she toured the Nine Hells on his behalf. While doing so, she put her own plans into motion, much to the surprise of the other archdevils. Even before Glasya assumed the rulership of Malbolge, she established the Hells' first organized crime syndicate, using her followers to purchase souls on her behalf while paying for them with what amounted to worthless coin.

Was it Asmodeus's intent all along that Glasya should strike out on her own, or was Glasya rebellious and clever enough to successfully defy her father? Was Glasya's rise to power an unforeseen benefit of her machinations, or is it a great embarrassment to Asmodeus? Likely only the two of them know the truth.

Coin Legions

Taking a cue from the sword, shield, and dreg legions into which the devils' armies are grouped, Glasya established a new category of "legion" to realize her plans for profit and power: the coin legions.

The members of Glasya's coin legions operate in the manner of thieves' guilds on the Material Plane. They have one critical advantage compared to their mortal contemporaries: Glasya's knowledge of the law. She knew that in many cases, procedures that devils observed and obeyed as laws were merely traditions, and failing to observe a tradition carries no penalty according to the law of the Hells.

Glasya's scheme involved using counterfeit currency to buy souls in Minauros, then selling them soon after to turn an incredible profit. When the truth of her dealings became apparent, she defended her actions based on the legal definition of a coin as minted in Minauros.

According to law, the gold composition of a coin was strictly defined at the time of the coin's creation, but no law governed a coin's state after it left the mint. As long as it was made in the mint, it was legal currency.

Glasya got around the law by transmuting lead to gold, then having coins minted from the substance. After she claimed her currency and her coin legions spent it on her purchases, the magic expired and the gold became lead once more.

Asmodeus, although he couldn't punish Glasya for breaking the law, decided to discipline her by doing something only he could do: making her an archdevil. He reasoned that, now that she was effectively tied to a single layer of the Hells and saddled with responsibilities in her capacity as prison warden, her ambitions would be kept in check.

An Ironic Sphere of Influence

To make Glasya's workload even more onerous (and to serve as an ironic form of punishment), Asmodeus decreed that Glasya could entice souls into the Nine Hells only through delving into matters of contracts, bargains, and legalities. She and her agents offer mortal petitioners advice on how to manipulate or circumvent the law, or to identify escape clauses-all to ensure that whatever they desire can be obtained without violating a legal precedent.

Her petitioners want power, money, and love, but they want to come by it within the bounds of the law.

An ambitious prince who is entitled by law to inherit his parents' wealth but doesn't want to murder them might ask for help, and Glasya's agents provide it by arranging for them to die in an accident.

A notable portion of Glasya's petitioners are souls who have pledged themselves to another Lord of the Nine and want out of the bargain. Her minions scour every contract struck with another devil and approach mortals whose contracts contain loopholes. In return for giving their souls to her instead, such individuals learn how to break the contract and negate whatever price the contract says they must pay.

Devils and Gender

To a devil, gender is insignificant. Devils can't create new life through physical means; a new devil comes into being only when a soul is corrupted or claimed in a bargain, and the gender of the mortal that provided the soul is immaterial. Devils that represent themselves to mortals are likely to adopt an appearance (including an apparent gender) that conforms with what those mortals believe to be true. Gender (and the assumptions that mortals make about it) is just another tool for devils to use to get what they want.

Devils that are known to and named by mortals often accept the gender assigned to them, but they aren't bound by that label. Stories of the Lords of the Nine told by mortals might speak of Glasya as Asmodeus's daughter and Belial as Fierna's consort, but such expressions can't encompass the complexities of the strange relationships formed by beings of immortal evil.


Maladomini was once a bustling realm of vibrant cities and a panoply of roads, gardens, and bridges. It was the center of the Hells' bureaucracy, where every edict, law, and order was dutifully copied and filed away. With each passing year, the devils would add more fortresses and archives to Maladomini to house all their records.

Then came the single greatest act of treachery in the annals of the Nine Hells. At the time, the archdevil Baalzebul was so powerful that he ruled two layers of the Hells, Maladomini and Malbolge. He conspired to topple Asmodeus and replace him, which in itself was not a crime. But in order to work his plans, he knowingly altered documents that passed into his care with the intent of confounding the apparatus of the bureaucracy. Before his scheme could come to fruition, he was caught and subjected to the most bizarre of punishments.

In that time long past, Baalzebul believed that he could cast Asmodeus as incompetent and amass a force to replace him before Asmodeus's allies could act, but his calculations failed to take into account the unpredictability of the Blood War. A sudden offensive from the Abyss struck Avernus just as Baalzebul was about to put his plan in motion. Baalzebul directed most of his shield legions to stay out of the fight, instead of helping to hold the line against the demons, so that he could use them in staging his coup. The absence of those legions, however, enabled the horde to push close to the door step of Dis.

Baalzebul was forced to abandon his plans, realizing that the Nine Hells would be of little use to him if it was overrun with demons, and ultimately he united with the other archdevils to turn back the invasion. But when an investigation of the events uncovered his treachery, Baalzebul didn't submit to punishment, and Maladomini was wracked with fighting as the other Lords of the Nine took to the field against the conspirator. The resulting devastation left much of the layer in ruins.

After Baalzebul was overwhelmed and defeated, Asmodeus stripped him of his rulership of Malbolge but left him in charge of Maladomini, albeit with a new set of duties. Asmodeus knew that Baalzebul's superior intellect and propensity for lying would make him the ideal representative of the bureaucracy of the Hells in the worlds of mortals. So, to ensure his loyalty while taking advantage of his talents, Asmodeus enacted two laws concerning him.

First, whenever Baalzebul lied to a devil, he would transform into a slug-like creature, hideous to all who beheld him, for one year. This penalty was retroactive, covering several millennia of deceptions and untruths-and only recently has Baalzebul worked off all those transgressions and been returned to his former humanoid form. In all that time, he has not told a lie to another devil, and his continued honesty is motivated by his desire to keep his current appearance.

Second, Asmodeus decreed that any deal Baalzebul strikes shall end in disaster for the other party. For this reason, other devils avoid forming alliances with him, even though they know he is compelled not to lie to them. Mortals, on the other hand, know nothing of the situation and still offer their souls to him.

His ability to scheme neutralized by these limitations, Baalzebul continues to ensure that the devils' bureaucracy runs smoothly. He focuses most of his attention on gathering souls from the Material Plane, a task to which his talent for lying is well suited.

A Maze of Information

Every edict, policy statement, scientific treatise, and other document in the Nine Hells is recorded, copied, and filed away in Maladomini's archives. These store houses are buried deep underground, so that they would remain intact if the layer is ever again hit by the sort of devastation that occurred when Baalzebul was brought to heel.

Each document in the archives is important in its own way, and all these sites are heavily guarded by devils and traps. Even if would-be thieves could get around the defenses, they would have figure out how to navigate the complex classification system that marks the precise location of each bit of paperwork stored within.

The Price of Redemption

Baalzebul and his agents recruit mortals that are desperate for redemption of some sort, perhaps the restoration of lost status or the recovery of resources that were lost because of treachery or incompetence. To these people who have been humbled by unfortunate events, Baalzebul offers a supernatural means of re gaining one's reputation or riches. The failed merchant desperate for another chance at making his fortune or the once-traitorous knight eager to restore her honor are examples of the individuals he deals with.

What those folk don't know is that Baalzebul is a master manipulator. He directs his agents to embed clauses and specifications in contracts that trip up the unwary. Because Baalzebul's targets are typically desperate, he almost always bargains from a position of strength.

Although Baalzebul claims a great number of unsuspecting souls, almost all of them are pathetic, incompetent wretches best suited for the dreg legions, whose only task is to die as slowly as possible so that they might delay the advance of an abyssal army.


Cania, like Stygia above it, is a bitterly cold realm of glaciers and howling ice storms. Mephistopheles holds court here with the ice devils that make up his retinue. Operating from his great tower, the icy citadel of Mephistar, he conducts a never-ending series of experiments that expand his understanding of arcane magic and of the planes of existence.

Mephistopheles keeps his realm churning with punishing storms. He doesn't entertain visitors, and Asmodeus has charged him with maintaining a stout security force around Nessus. Travelers that aren't protected against the environment, which is cold enough to kill a creature in seconds, have little hope of surviving.

The foremost wizard in the Hells, Mephistopheles suffers nothing that would compromise his intellectual focus. He hates distractions and allows only particular devils to speak to him without first being spoken to. He has been known to disintegrate minions for the smallest transgressions, and sometimes carries out an execution simply because he suspected that a devil was about to do something to annoy him.

Mephistopheles is able to devote almost all his time to his research thanks to the loyalty of Hutijin, his top lieutenant. Even though Hutijin commands enough power to threaten his master's position, he is content to remain at the right hand of the throne, at least for the time being.

Experiments in the Unknown

Cania is essentially an enormous laboratory. Mephistopheles and his devotees prefer to conduct their studies in a wasteland where they can unleash gouts of arcane energy without destroying anything important. Experiments involving new spells, new magic items, and other innovations for the infernal arsenal regularly cause localized cataclysms in this place.

This activity attracts numerous spies despite the inhospitable environment. Merely observing Mephistopheles's disciples at work can provide insights into the nature of their research and the discoveries they have made. His court is constantly alert for agents from Dis, since it greatly pains Dispater that Mephistopheles might come across a scrap of information that he doesn't possess. A number of renowned archmages, including Mordenkainen, have at times found their way into this realm on a search for forgotten lore or in the hope of confirming a theory of arcane magic.

Keeper of Arcane Souls

Mephistopheles and his followers specialize in luring wizards and sages into making compacts with the Nine Hells. Of all the Lords of the Nine, he has the lowest quotas but the highest standards. He harvests the souls of skilled wizards and cunning sages, exactly the sort of folk he needs to further his research. Curiosity and ambition are motivating factors that entice such souls into his service-often, a mage who gets an opportunity to join the cause of Mephistopheles sees that invitation as proof of one's ascension to greatness.

The downside to this arrangement is the true nature of Mephistopheles, which is apparent only after a new contract is signed. He can be charming when he recruits a soul directly, and his agents are careful to avoid making any promises about his actions or attitudes. But once a soul arrives in the Nine Hells to serve him, it invariably faces decades of routine work or tedious study.

Thus, few who join his stable of arcanists remain happy with their decision, but they would be well advised not to show any discontent. Mephistopheles fills his contracts with cleverly worded clauses that allow him to annihilate any of his servants with a word. As further protection against dissent, he isolates his minions, allowing them to gather in small groups only when needed to carry on their work. Even then, the law of Mephistopheles prohibits all but the most vital communication, limited to why they have come together. Some of the most skilled but most gullible former wizards of the Material Plane now toil eternally in Cania, alone except for their books, their tools, and their regrets.

Storehouses of Lore

Libraries and other places where arcane knowledge is recorded or contained are scattered across Cania, mainly to ensure that a single disastrous experiment at one location can't destroy the evidence of all the work conducted at other sites. In his pursuit of ever more lore, Mephistopheles combines his prodigious intellect with his obsessive nature. This combination of traits enables him to delve far more deeply into a topic than most ordinary wizards can even conceive of. Even the tiniest of trivialities is fascinating to him.

Sometimes, however, the business of the Nine Hells forces him to relinquish direct oversight of a project. When he returns to his research, a new mystery might capture his fancy, while the older project continues to move forward without his oversight or interference.

Here and there, tucked away in Cania's terrible environment and similarly buried in the immense bureaucracy of the Hells, stand long-isolated citadels occupied by sages and spellcasters toiling away at some seemingly forgotten endeavor. The supervisors of these projects might have achieved incredible results that they patiently wait to share with Mephistopheles the next time his attention points in their direction.

The Rank and File

While the Lords of the Nine set the overall direction of the Hells, it is the rank and file-uncounted numbers of lesser devils-that drive their schemes forward. Denizens of the Material Plane deal primarily with devils from the lower tiers of the hierarchy.

All Creatures in Their Places

Status is all-important to devils. Every devil knows its place in the hierarchy, and each devil has a unique name to ensure that no cases of mistaken identity occur when a devil is called to account for its actions.

A devil's form usually corresponds to its status, but circumstances can allow for variations. A pit fiend, for instance, might take the form of an imp in order to personally infiltrate a kingdom on the Material Plane.

The hierarchy of the Nine Hells has thirteen tiers or ranks. A devil of a higher rank can potentially compel those beneath it to obey its orders, but it must still abide by the law when exercising its authority. In most cases, a devil can demand the obedience of another devil only if both are in the hierarchy of the same archdevil. For example, a devil in service to Dispater can't command a lower-ranked devil among the forces of Levistus.

Lowest of the Low

At the bottom of the hierarchy are lemures and nupperibos, creatures that qualify as devils only by the most generous of definitions. Although they are individually worthless, they constitute an effective fighting force when gathered into a teeming horde that floods the battlefield.

Lesser Devils

The next six higher tiers are occupied by the lesser devils: imps (rank 2), spined devils (rank 3), bearded devils and merregons (rank 4), barbed devils (rank 5), chain devils (rank 6), and bone devils (rank 7). These devils are specialists, typically assigned to tasks that best suit their capabilities. Imps are used as spies and messengers rather than combatants, and they are the infernal agents most often encountered on the Material Plane. Lesser devils rarely command other devils, aside from specific, short-term assignments for which they are invested with authority.

Greater Devils

Grouped in the four tiers above the lesser devils are the greater devils: horned devils and orthons (rank 8), erinyes (rank 9), ice devils and narzugons (rank 10), and amnizus and pit fiends (rank 11). Lesser devils deal with these leaders on a daily basis. Ice devils are combat commanders, equivalent to captains and colonels, while pit fiends are the Hells' generals and nobles.


The mightiest devils of all are the unique and uniquely powerful archdevils. Those who don't presently serve as lord of a layer hold the title of Duke or Duchess (rank 12). Atop the hierarchy at rank 13 stand the Lords of the Nine, arrayed from topmost layer to bottommost, with Asmodeus holding sway over all.

Rules for Everything

Devils are evil schemers by nature, but they must operate within the bounds of the Nine Hells' intricate legal code. A devil's attitude toward the law is in part driven by its personal attitude and situation.

For instance, devils that fight in the Blood War rely on military regulations and their officers' directions to dictate their actions. They obey orders without question, and take part in drills when off duty to ensure that they act to the exact parameters of their instructions.

Some other devils, particularly those of higher ranks and those tasked with infiltrating the Material Plane, see the law as a puzzle to be decoded or an obstacle to be circumvented. For instance, a devil might be bound by law never to withhold aid from its commander except under rare and specific circumstances. A clever upstart that wants to annihilate its superior could manipulate events to bring about one such circumstance, then look on as the commander succumbs while it cites the law that "prevents" it from offering help.

Three Paths to Power

Rank-and-file devils have three ways of ascending through the ranks. The Nine Hells uses a complex system of rules to quantify and recognize a devil's deeds.


Each time a devil signs a contract that pledges a mortal's soul to the Nine Hells, that devil receives credit for the achievement. A stronger soul, such as a mighty warrior who leaves mortality behind to become an ice devil, is worth more than a simple peasant likely to be consigned to existence as a lemure.


All devils are required to fight in the Blood War. Every low-ranking devil spends at least some time on the front lines as part of a legion. Some find combat enticing and volunteer for extra missions. Others are content to do only the minimum needed to fulfill their obligations, but they fight just as furiously when they are engaged. A devil receives credit for each foe it slays, based on the worthiness of the opponent and whether the devil scored the kill alone or with the help of others.


Just as the law has complex rules for the promotion of devils under normal circumstances, it also includes contingencies for how to fill a sudden vacancy in the upper ranks. Vaulting into the position formerly occupied by one's superior is the fastest means of advancement available to a devil. A devil that successfully arranges for a superior's death can immediately step into the vacant role, as long as the devil is aware of the rules of succession and positions itself as next in line.

Devils look at mortals as sheep, just as demons do, except devils see themselves not as wolves but as shepherds. Shepherds fleece sheep by the season and slaughter them as needed. A shepherd likely kills the wolves that threaten its sheep. But then again, shepherds always expect to lose a few sheep. If you were a sheep, would you trust your shepherd?

Diabolical Cults

Cults dedicated to infernal beings are the foes of adventurers throughout the D&D multiverse. This section gives the DM ways to customize the members of cults dedicated to the powers of the Nine Hells.

Every archdevil attracts a certain type of person based on the gifts the devil offers. In the following cult descriptions, stat blocks from the {@i Monster Manual} are suggested in a cult's Typical Cultist entry to help you represent those people.

Each description also includes a list of signature spells associated with the cult. If a cult member can cast spells, you can replace any of those spells with spells from that list, as long as the new spell is of the same level as the spell it replaces.

The customization options here will typically have no appreciable effect on the challenge rating of a creature that gains them.

Infernal Cambions

Some archdevils consort with mortals to produce cambion offspring. While most have the typical abilities for a cambion (as detailed in the {@i Monster Manual),} some gain abilities reminiscent of their archdevil parent.

Signature Spells

Cambions have the Innate Spellcasting trait. When customizing an infernal cambion, you can replace spells in that trait with ones of the same level from the list of signature spells in the cult entry of the devilish parent. The cambion can use these spells once per day each.

Special Traits

A cambion linked to a specific devil typically gains any special traits conferred to that devil's cultists.

Some devils grant a unique ability to their spawn that replaces the cambion's Fiendish Charm trait; Zariel and Geryon have a penchant for spawning cambions to serve as war leaders among their followers. The two of them grant the Fury of the Nine ability in place of Fiendish Charm.

Fury of the Nine

As a bonus action, the cambion chooses an other creature that can see or hear it within 120 feet. That creature gains advantage on all attack rolls and saving throws for the next minute or until the cambion uses this ability again.

Tiefling Subraces

At the DM's option, you can create a tiefling character who has a special link to one of the Lords of the Nine Hells. This link is represented by a subrace.

Devil Customization Tables

This section provides tables useful for DMs who want to create devil NPCs.

stdClass Object ( [type] => tableGroup [name] => Devil Customization Tables [tables] => Array ( [0] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Devil Honorifics [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d20 [1] => Title ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => the Perceiver ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => Veteran of Avernus ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => the Insightful ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => Collector of Debts ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => the Summoner ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => Speaker of Profit ) [6] => Array ( [0] => 7 [1] => Chainer of Demons ) [7] => Array ( [0] => 8 [1] => the Conqueror ) [8] => Array ( [0] => 9 [1] => Glory Seeker ) [9] => Array ( [0] => 10 [1] => the Victorious ) [10] => Array ( [0] => 11 [1] => the Infiltrator ) [11] => Array ( [0] => 12 [1] => the Voluminous ) [12] => Array ( [0] => 13 [1] => the Stoic ) [13] => Array ( [0] => 14 [1] => the Shatterer ) [14] => Array ( [0] => 15 [1] => the Keeper ) [15] => Array ( [0] => 16 [1] => the Faithful ) [16] => Array ( [0] => 17 [1] => the Clever ) [17] => Array ( [0] => 18 [1] => the Chanter ) [18] => Array ( [0] => 19 [1] => the Indomitable ) [19] => Array ( [0] => 20 [1] => the Vicious ) ) ) [1] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Devil Personality Traits [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => Trait ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I always have a scheme to make a profit. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => Nobody is as smart as me, and I need to prove that all the time. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => There's a rule for everything. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => If I can't seize control, I'll serve in the meantime. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I'm a bully who backs down when faced with any sort of resistance. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => Every problem can be solved with the use of force. ) ) ) [2] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Devil Ideals [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => Ideal ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => Loyalty. I keep my vows to my superior and respect those who do the same. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => Law. I might not like the rules, but I obey them. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => Ambition. The need to improve my station drives my every action. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => Conquest. I am equal to the sum of the foes I have defeated in combat. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => Cunning. Those who can see an advantage in the direst situation deserve respect. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => Brutality. Overwhelming violence, and those who can deliver it, are worthy of obedience. ) ) ) [3] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Devil Bonds [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => Bond ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => I and my comrades fought well in the Blood War, and our service demands respect. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => Evil without law is a pointless exercise in destruction. Rules make us what we are. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => Those who follow me rely on my wisdom to ensure their prosperity. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => One day I will have revenge on those who defied me. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => If I do my duty, in time I will be rewarded. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => We don't corrupt mortals. We teach them enlightened self-interest. ) ) ) [4] => stdClass Object ( [type] => table [caption] => Devil Flaws [colLabels] => Array ( [0] => d6 [1] => Flaw ) [colStyles] => Array ( [0] => col-2 text-align-center [1] => col-10 ) [rows] => Array ( [0] => Array ( [0] => 1 [1] => My frustration boils over into violence. ) [1] => Array ( [0] => 2 [1] => I obey the law, but I strain at its limits to the point of heresy. ) [2] => Array ( [0] => 3 [1] => I put the minimum effort possible into anything that isn't my own idea. ) [3] => Array ( [0] => 4 [1] => A low profile is the best defense of all. ) [4] => Array ( [0] => 5 [1] => I'm so reliant on the laws of the Nine Hells that I panic without their guidance. ) [5] => Array ( [0] => 6 [1] => I am secretly jealous of the freedom that mortals enjoy. ) ) ) ) )

Princes of the Abyss

The Abyss is a vast wound in the cosmic order, a bottomless pit teeming with creatures that exist only to rend, tear, and destroy. The demon princes, individual demons of great power and determination, bend and shape the Abyss and its inhabitants to meet their every whim. These mighty beings imagine themselves at the center of the cosmos. Each demon prince believes that the universe will one day be theirs to command, its laws and structure twisted and warped to match the demons' ideal of perfection.

The demon princes' arrogance is exceeded only by their ambition. While any rational being would dismiss their goals as empty ambitions sparked by madness, the truth remains that the demon princes and their thralls are among the mightiest forces in the planes. It is conceivable that, if the Blood War turns dramatically in their favor, the demon princes could put the rest of their apocalyptic plans in motion.

Scourge of Worlds

The Abyss and its demonic inhabitants are akin to a virus. While most other factions across the planes spread their influence into other realms through conquest, conversion, or diplomacy, demons infect a world by traveling there and beginning to transform their environment to resemble the malleable, chaotic substance of their home plane. If demons dwell in a place for a significant amount of time, the area starts to warp in response to the abyssal energy that churns within it. If a demonic infestation is left unchecked, a portal to the Abyss is the result, and more and more of the essence of the Abyss pushes its way through. In time, a plane or a world could become a colony of the Abyss, overrun with demons and devoid of all other forms of life.

Initial Infection

A full-fledged demonic incursion takes time to develop. A demon prince might rampage across a world for a few days or weeks before returning home, but that event doesn't qualify as an incursion. After the demon is banished, the world suffers no long-term effects, aside from the destruction wrought by the demon.

But if demons can dwell undisturbed on a plane for a period of time, their continued presence begins to erode the barriers between their location and the Abyss. It can take a few years for weaker demons to warp their environment, while changes begin to occur around the location of a demon prince in about a month.

To bring about these changes, the invaders must remain in the same location for some time, usually an area no more than six miles on a side, to combine their influence. Fortunately for their would-be victims, the chaotic evil nature of demons means that they rarely organize in a way to cause such a disturbance. Demons that enter the world are bent on destruction, not concerned with greater matters, and inclined to go their separate ways unless a powerful leader can keep them under control long enough for the virus to take hold.

During the first stages of an abyssal incursion, the natural world recoils from the demonic presence. Plants become twisted versions of themselves. Leering faces appear in leaf patterns, vines writhe of their own accord, and trees grow foul-smelling tumors instead of leaves as their branches wither and die. Bodies of water in the area become tainted and sometimes poisonous, and the weather might feature extremes of heat, cold, wind, rain, or snow that aren't typical of the normal climate. Living things in the area flee or are killed by the demons.

At this stage, natives can stop the incursion by killing or driving away the demons that infest the area. The effects of the event might persist for a few months or even centuries, but the barriers between the Abyss and the world remain intact.

A Growing Menace

If the first stage of the infection continues long enough, a portal opens in the corrupted environment that connects to a random location in the Abyss. Demons that happen to be near the portal can travel through it and into the world, while the raw stuff of the Abyss also begins to seep through the passage.

Even at this stage, the infection has almost no chance of developing into a true incursion. The immensity of the Abyss means that a portal's random location is more likely to be an empty, uninhabited place than anything else, and demons can't make use of the portal unless they can locate it. The incursion might be long delayed as a result, but the portal's opening on the other plane remains a lurking threat until it is closed.

As more demons find and use the portal, the Abyss becomes strongly linked to the world, and the region's transformation grows more extreme. The odd but still mundane weather gives way to storms that drop burning embers, or winds that shriek in all directions, seizing living creatures and hurling them against the ground. The environment becomes inimical to all living things.

At this point, the incursion is still in a state of flux. The demons aren't yet directed by a single will. Unless a powerful demon dominates all the others, the area is wracked by fighting as one demon after another claims primacy, only to be overcome. The tie to the Abyss is still fragile enough that, as demons are slain, the portal grows smaller and weaker. If the invaders are reduced to about half the number that were present when the portal was created, the opening winks out of existence.

A Stain on Reality

In its third phase, the demonic virus invades fully and becomes a part of the world. Simply killing the demons in an afflicted area is no longer enough to remove the Abyss's stain.

The size of the region begins to grow, the effects of the lethal environment expanding from the original area. The demons likewise begin to roam, and a small force capable of establishing its own incursion might travel far. If enough of these groups splinter off, the incursion could spread into a network of similar sites, each opening its own portal and drawing in more demons.

Slaying all the demons in an infested area ends their direct threat, but the terrain remains twisted and accursed, the portal dormant but still in place. To repel the incursion at this stage, the defenders must not only slay the demons but also establish a permanent watch over the portal, to ensure that it remains unused. Ambitious cultists, or even a random confluence of planar energy, could awaken the portal and start the infection anew.

Apocalypse Now

If the incursion remains unchecked or grows strong enough, it enters its fourth and final phase with the entrance of a demon lord. As a portal continues to shunt demons and abyssal energy into the world, it begins to attract the attention of the lords. Two or more of them might fight for control of it, or in the worst case, several might travel through the portal in rapid succession.

The visitation of a demon lord to the Material Plane is a cataclysmic event. The lord's presence overwhelms the minds of other beings to keep them from resisting, and the lord's power enables it to command the other demons already present in the world. They form a horrid army that sets about stripping the world of life and clearing the path for the lord's dominance.

At this point, a besieged world's only hope for survival is the expulsion of the demon lord. The lord's defeat leaves the other demons again leaderless, and they react by warring against each other, which makes them susceptible to attacks from the world's defenders. The longer a demon lord remains in control of all the other fiends, the more the world around it becomes irrevocably changed. When a demonic incursion runs its course, no vestige remains of the world that existed before-in effect, the realm has become another layer of the Abyss.

Chaos Incarnate

Although sages group demons into types according to their power, the Abyss knows no such categories. Demons are spawned from the stuff of the Abyss in a near-infinite variety of shapes and abilities. The common forms that are familiar to demonologists represent broad trends, but individual demons defy those tendencies. For instance, a vrock might crawl out of an oil slick in the Demonweb Pits with three eyes and vestigial wings. A chasme might appear on the layer of Azzagrat possessing the ability to belch forth clouds of flies.

If a demon survives for centuries, it accumulates changes to its form due to interaction with the energies of the Abyss. These long-lived demons often become demon lords, beings of such power that they can hold sway over entire realms within the Abyss. A few demon lords have come to the attention of mortals and are even worshiped as gods in some places, but the vast majority of demon lords remain unknown to scholars and sages.

The Unknowable Abyss

The Abyss is a puzzle to those who study demons and an attraction for those who seek power. It isn't as purely chaotic as Limbo nor as pliable, and yet demon lords can shape its essence by their subconscious will. Some demon lords emerge from the planar stuff, others seem to have been in existence since the start of time, and still others are interlopers from outside the Abyss. Several theories exist about what principles dictate who can gain a demon lord's power, or, if no such principles exist, how that power might be seized.

Most mortals would rather be annihilated than have their souls travel to the Abyss, but some see its chaos as something that can be harnessed and manipulated by those of sufficient will. A powerful soul might be able to dominate demons, retrieve weapons of the Blood War to use in mortal conflicts, or discover spells known only in the Abyss-and the madly ambitious might even seek out the means of becoming a demon lord.

Ever-Changing Layers

The physical nature of the Abyss is something that few mortal minds can understand. Those who discuss such matters use the term "layer" to define a certain part of this infinite expanse. That nomenclature, to the extent that it implies a particular configuration, is misleading.

The Abyss is a chaotic tangle of miniature worlds, each one shaped by the demon lord that claims primacy over it. Within the layers it controls, a demon lord manipulates conditions to match its view of how that world best serves the lord's desires.

Of course, keeping control of a layer involves fighting off other demons that are looking to expand their domains. From time to time, a layer changes hands or is seemingly obliterated in a battle (perhaps to be reborn in another location). For this reason, imposing a sense of order on the relationship between the Abyss's layers is a fool's errand. All that can be determined at any given time is which lord holds sway over which parts of the Abyss, and which areas are being contested by two or more lords. And as soon as such a fact becomes known, it might already be obsolete.

Getting Around

Portals connect various locations in the Abyss, but these passages are as unreliable as anything else in this environment. Most of them fluctuate, sometimes winking in and out of existence or connecting to different layers at random. Rituals exist that travelers can use to attune a portal to a certain domain. However, the exact specifications of such a ritual vary for each potential destination.

Those who would navigate the Abyss always enter the place in a random location. From there, they must locate a portal and then perform the ritual that enables them to find a specific destination. Escaping the Abyss likewise requires knowledge of the specific ritual needed to do so. Without it, visitors are trapped unless they have access to magic that permits travel between planes.

Evil Inchoate

As beings of utter chaos and absolute evil, demons have no concept of empathy. Each demon believes that only its needs and desires matter.

This self-centeredness applies even with regard to other demons. These fiends have no particular affinity for their own kind, which is the biggest reason why they seldom cooperate with one another unless they are forced to submit to a demon lord or other leader.

Going even farther, every demon sees itself as the rightful inheritor of the cosmos. It is driven to destroy all other living creatures, or at least command their absolute loyalty. In due time, the laws of the universe will bend to its will, shifting to bring about its vision of a world of absolute perfection with the demon at its center.

One Cosmos, Infinite Visions

All demons seek to satisfy their whims and force others around them to serve their purposes. What specifically motivates a demon varies greatly from one to another and often changes within the same demon, but it is always attached to fulfillment of its desires.

Less intelligent and less powerful demons typically have correspondingly modest visions for what it means to be the center of their universes. All demons have an instinctive sense of their own status, and they typically don't set impossible goals-a lesser demon, for instance, might simply run amok when unleashed into the world, its only desire to spread chaos, but a marilith or other powerful demon usually has an intent that goes beyond merely causing carnage, and a plan to achieve it.

Demonic Amulets: Blessing and Curse

Some demon lords have a way of cheating death, but this great benefit doesn't come without its own perils. A demon that stores part of its essence in a demonic amulet can avoid being destroyed even if it is killed in the Abyss. On the other hand, anyone else who lays claim to such an item can command the demon to do as they wish.

For this reason, demon lords hide their amulets away and trust no one, not even their followers, with knowledge of the location. Such a site is usually protected with intricate traps, mindless servants, and other defenses that bring no risk of subversion or betrayal.

If an archdevil were ever to acquire a demonic amulet, that event could signal a tipping point in the Blood War. If Asmodeus held Demogorgon's amulet, for instance, the demon lord might find itself in a position from which there is no escape.

Lords and Their Thralls

While the demons fight for domination among their own kind in the Abyss, the Material Plane is the most fertile ground for demons to acquire followers. Even a relatively weak demon can demand obedience and worship from humans and other mortals through the threat of force. In turn, its magical abilities allow it to impart boons to its servants, making them more useful and better able to pursue the demon's goal in the world.

Sects dedicated to the worship of the various demon lords are spread across the mortal worlds of the multiverse as well as the Abyss. In return for a cult's adoration, a demon receives allies in its struggle against its rivals. To show their reverence, cultists might offer sacrifices of treasure and magic items that the demon can use. Taking advantage of that same reverence, a demon might send its cultists into battle to soften up an enemy before the demon enters the fray itself.

Many cultists gravitate to a demon lord out of a desire for power. Others find themselves captivated by a demon's narcissism, so that their minds and worldviews become twisted into a pale version of their master's.


Known as the Horned King, Baphomet divides the creatures of the world into two groups. Those who acknowledge his power are his servants, and he endows them with savagery and a hunter's cunning. The rest are prey, creatures to be hunted and slaughtered. His aim is to transform the cosmos into his personal hunting ground.

Baphomet is a savage entity, but he tempers his ferocity with shrewdness. He loves the hunt and the sense of impending doom that comes over prey that can't escape his pursuit. His fondness for labyrinths, instilled in the minotaurs he created, reflects this aspect of his personality. Baphomet studies every detail of the mazes he creates and exults in the dread that overcome those who become lost in them. He tracks them at his leisure, striking only after the maze's contorted corridors have exhausted the energy and the hope of his victims.


The cult of Baphomet attracts those who see themselves as superior to everyone else, to the extent that they consider other people little more than animals. Baphomet's teachings reinforce these beliefs, appealing to the ego and justifying narcissism. Bigots are also drawn to Baphomet's doctrine of individual superiority.

Cultists of Baphomet include nobles who use their vassals as playthings, assassins who practice their murderous art for the sheer love of hunting intelligent creatures, and paranoid humans who combine a hatred of outsiders with bloodthirstiness.

Typically, a cult builds a maze beneath a castle, a guild hall, or some other place it controls. The cultists drug their victims, strip them of their weapons and armor, and place them in the labyrinth before they wake up disoriented. Then the cultists stalk their prey in the maze. They howl as they chase their quarry, striking fear into their victims' hearts before descending for the kill. If the hunt claims a particularly powerful creature, Baphomet might bestow boons on the cultists as a reward.


The Prince of Demons is a being of unfettered violence and rage, the mightiest of the demon lords. His twin heads, Aameul and Hathradiah, compete in some ways and cooperate in others. The result is an entity that is capable of devising and enacting the most clever strategies, paranoid at all times about threats to his rule (which certainly exist in the chaos of the Abyss), and possessed of immense physical power.

Demogorgon prefers to meets every challenge with overwhelming force and to ferret out enemies long before they can marshal the strength to make a serious stand against him. He sees every living creature as a potential threat-and only those who debase themselves before him have a chance of escaping his wrath.

His ultimate goal is to empty the multiverse of all other creatures, even his cultists. Free from any prospect of being betrayed or insulted, he can finally rest in a perfectly peaceful cosmos. According to one hypothesis, if Demogorgon were ever to achieve this end, his two heads would finally fight to the death, each devouring the other and leaving behind nothing but a void.


Demons comprise the majority of Demogorgon's cultists, since he commands unmatched power in the Abyss. The mere sight of him anywhere in that realm can transfix lesser demons and instantly compel them to do his bidding.

In mortal realms, people can fall under his sway simply by laying eyes on a true copy of his symbol, crafted either by Demogorgon or one of his most powerful demonic followers. An individual exposed to such a symbol becomes an agent of Demogorgon, dedicated ever after to a life of lurking in the shadows, lashing out against unsuspecting victims and striking fear into those who discover the bodies left behind.

I studied Demogorgon's symbol. I thought that, by looking at it through a mirror, I might avoid its effects. If anything, viewing its reflection made its effect more potent and more subtle. It was Rary who saved me, and I thought he had been spared the symbol's effects. I don't have many regrets, but underestimating that symbol is one of my greatest.


The most deceptive of all demons, Fraz-Urb'luu is a master illusionist and weaver of lies. He thrives by luring his cultists and his enemies alike into lives of self-delusion. He can take on nearly any form, usually appearing in whatever shape is most pleasing to a potential cultist.

Fraz-Urb'luu considers himself the smartest entity in the cosmos, the only one who can see through all of reality's lies and understand the truth that lies beyond them. Yet the truth that he sees remains known only to him. He utters cryptic remarks about a grand design that guides the cosmos toward some unknown end, but none can say whether these statements are another layer of deception or evidence of a true insight.


Those who worship Fraz-Urb'luu fall into two camps. Most of his so-called "cultists," rather than being true volunteers, are unfortunates duped into honoring him because they listened to his lies. Fraz-Urb'luu might appear to a desperate paladin and claim to be a saintly figure, or contact a wizard while in the guise of a wise sage. He tells these folk whatever stories and promises they want to hear, playing to their needs and slowly drawing them into his circle of influence. He especially enjoys using the arrogance and vanity of good folk against them, helping to bring about their downfall.

A few of his followers are illusionists, deceivers, and con artists who seek him out. Fraz-Urb'luu makes use of their talents, and rewards these supplicants appropriately, as long as they follow his example in the campaign to bring about the downfall of all that is lawful and good.


The lord of pleasure and limitless indulgence, Graz'zt is the ultimate hedonist. He incites lust and uncontrollable urges in both his cultists and his enemies.

In Graz'zt's eyes, the universe is a great plaything, and one day he will be its master. All other creatures and things will be allowed to exist only if they give him pleasure. When he ascends to dominate the cosmos, all who are left will love and worship him.

Despite his extreme self-indulgence, Graz'zt isn't blind to what goes on around him. He can curb his lust when he needs to plot against an enemy or counter an attack. When he must contend with an enemy, he fights with a detached, thoughtful demeanor, channeling his frustration at being distracted from pleasurable pursuits into the actions of a cool, efficient killer.


Graz'zt attracts most of his followers from the ranks of those who seek pleasure above all else. He promises dark delights and forbidden ecstasies, in return for total submission to him. His cult gathers new members by circulating tracts, poems, and other works of art that depict encounters with him. Upstanding folk regard these works as vulgar, wretched, and obscene, but the delights they depict or describe sometimes lure a curious soul into learning more about the demon lord.

When a cult beseeches him during the induction of new members, Graz'zt sends an emissary or an avatar to preside over the proceedings, which conclude with the new followers being treated to a night of debauchery.

Graz'zt's Murky Past

Sages have put forth ideas for why demons consider the denizens of the Nine Hells as the greatest threat to their designs for the cosmos. Some researchers claim to have uncovered evidence that the animosity between demons and devils has its roots in a primeval time when Graz'zt, now a demon lord, was a member of the devils' hierarchy.

As the hypothesis goes, Graz'zt wasn't satisfied with the prospect of being eternally subservient to Asmodeus in the Hells, where only one devil can claim absolute rulership. The Abyss offers greater freedom to those who are powerful enough to carve out a realm for themselves-and, after forsaking his status in the Hells, that's exactly what Graz'zt did.

Those who find this idea plausible hope that Graz'zt's defection is a unique event, never to be repeated. If that turns out not to be the case, another such shift could be a major turning point in the Blood War.


The Faceless Lord is a truly alien creature, said to be responsible for spawning the oozes found throughout the world. Those who study such topics theorize that every such creature has a connection to Juiblex, and the demon lord sees and knows all that its minions encounter.

Wherever Juiblex wanders, it leaves trailings in its wake that coalesce into new slimes and oozes. Most sages believe that if Juiblex and its spawn were given free rein, they would one day overrun the universe, turning every realm into an ooze-infested wasteland.


Juiblex has few cultists, and most of them are incurably disturbed or delusional. His mortal cultists preach of the glorious day to come, when a tide of slimes and oozes will swallow the world. These wretched followers believe that by aligning with Juiblex, they can avoid the fate that awaits all other living creatures.

The lord's followers dwell underground, where they maintain a stable of oozes and slimes that help to protect their gathering place. They use traps to capture sentient creatures, then feed them to the oozes in a simulation of what awaits all who don't revere Juiblex.


The bloated Demon Prince of the Undead seeks to end all life in the cosmos, replacing the living with immortal, undead creatures that answer only to him. In this grim future, the many suns of the Material Plane are extinguished, and all hope has faded away. All that remains is the eternally static realm of the living dead.

Orcus is the universe's staunchest advocate of stagnation. He sees the activity of life as noisy, crude, and maddening. It rakes at his senses like the claws of a rat scratch across a hard floor. In his view, the universe can know peace only when life's incessant hum is replaced with the peace and quiet of the world of the dead.


Worshipers of Orcus are heretics and blasphemers who see the gods of the multiverse as cruel, unjust creatures. They resent that mortals must suffer and die at the whims of these entities. In Orcus, they see the promise of release from pain without the demand of obedience. In the state of undeath that Orcus offers, they will be free from hunger, fear, and worry.

People who have lost a loved one to a tragic death are especially susceptible to his appeal. A father stricken with grief after the death of his child might seek Orcus's intervention in returning his child to the world after the gods cruelly snatched her away.

All who would become cultists of Orcus must be willing to become undead. Those who commit to the cause are admitted to the cult. Those who have second thoughts and attempt to decline are destroyed, their souls condemned to the Outer Planes while their bodies are animated as skeletons and zombies.


Also known as the Beast of Butchery, Yeenoghu inspires his followers to devour any creatures they meet. In his mind, the cosmos is made up only of predators and prey.

To sate his blood lust, Yeenoghu often rampages across the Abyss, killing everything in his path. Only those demons that join him in wreaking carnage can avoid his wrath. Yeenoghu's wanderings across the Abyss are like the meanderings of a storm. He and his cultists pass through an area like a monstrous hurricane whose course can never be predicted.

Of all the demon lords, Yeenoghu has made the greatest mark on the Material Plane. During his rampage across the world eons ago, the race of gnolls sprang up in his wake. Every gnoll is a miniature embodiment of Yeenoghu's rage and hunger. They mimic their creator, killing any creatures that cross them and respecting only those that can withstand their fury.


Yeenoghu rarely acquires cultists other than gnolls, leucrottas, and the other creatures spawned by his incursions across the planes. The few humanoids that take up his worship are disaffected loners, many of them outcasts driven away from civilization. A cult of Yeenoghu operates like a pack of gnolls, regardless of what creatures make it up. Yeenoghu infuses them with a cannibalistic hunger, and they know that each victim they claim draws them closer to his presence.


The Demon Queen of Fungi has many traits similar to those of Juiblex. Some sages believe she is the originator of all fungi and molds, from the mushrooms that grow in the forest to the deadliest forms of yellow mold. Those who study demons argue that Zuggtmoy isn't merely a patron of fungi, and that her ultimate goal is to meld all living creatures into one great organism, an entity that she will then join with and rule over.


Most of Zuggtmoy's cultists are hapless mortals that have been infested with the demonic spores she cultivates in the fungi she created. The spores slowly devour these creatures' brains, leaving them with enough functionality to spread malevolent fungi but robbing them of the will to turn against their master.

A few mortals freely enter her service. Most are druids who want to exterminate civilization and replace it with wild plants and fungus, or deluded, power-hungry individuals who believe that they would retain their identities while they bring others under Zuggtmoy's thrall. Zuggtmoy allows these zealots to retain their existing forms if doing so furthers her aims and helps to spread her children far and wide, but they are destined for the same fate as all the others.

Lolth Extends Her Webs

The Demon Queen of Spiders and her brood rarely take part directly in the Blood War; rather, her agents in the Abyss contrive to lure her enemies into throwing themselves into the struggle. Her servitors spy on both sides, playing demon and devil against each other.

Lolth's plan, as far as those who study the Abyss understand it, is to tempt her rival demon lords into venturing onto other planes or to send them away with powerful magic. Because it is in the demons' nature to spread and destroy, they rampage in their new environs instead of seeking revenge on Lolth. Lolth, in turn, delights in filling the vacancy left by a departed rival, expanding the reach of the Demonweb Pits and claiming those servants her enemies have left behind as new spies and informants for her.

Demonic Boons

Wicked folk who seek power from demons are scattered across the multiverse. Some of them gather in cults, but many of them act on their own or in small groups. Whatever their organization, they are united in their desire to draw power from the bottomless evil of the Abyss.

The following entries outline boons that a DM can grant to monsters and NPCs dedicated to a particular demon lord. The entries also list signature spells associated with a demon lord. If the monster or NPC can cast spells, you can replace any of those spells with spells from that list, as long as the new spell is of the same level as the spell it replaces.

A typical demon can impart boons to a number of creatures equal to the demon's number of Hit Dice. In contrast, demon lords have no limit on the number of creatures that can receive their boons.

Boons from demons are fickle gifts. They remain in place only as long as the demon is pleased. Accepting such a boon is a damning act that corrupts the soul and drives a person toward acts of chaos, evil, and madness. Rejecting a boon likely provokes a demon's wrath.

Demonic Cambions

Cambions spawned by demon lords sometimes manifest different abilities from a typical cambion. Graz'zt is notable among demon lords for the many cambions he has spawned across the multiverse. Most famous among them is Iuz, who combined his father's abyssal heritage and his mother's peerless arcane tutelage to become a demigod.

Signature Spells

Cambions have the Innate Spellcasting trait. When customizing a demonic cambion, you can replace spells in that trait with ones of the same level from the list of signature spells in the boon entry of the demonic parent. The cambion can use these spells once per day each.

Special Traits

A cambion descended from a demon can have the special traits conferred to that demon's cultists, as described in the demon's boon section.

Few demons consort with mortals, and those with the charm or desire to usually grant their cambion children the Fiendish Charm ability. Cultists of Baphomet and Orcus can also use foul rituals to infuse their master's strength into a young or unborn child, yielding a cult champion who can wield special abilities; a cambion linked to Orcus replaces Fiendish Charm with Spawn of the Grave, and one linked to Baphomet replaces it with Horned One's Call.

Horned One's Call

When the cambion targets only one creature with the attacks of its Multiattack, it can choose one ally it can see within 30 feet. That ally can use its reaction to make one melee attack against a target of its choice.

Spawn of the Grave

At the end of each of the cambion's turns, each undead of its choice that it can see within 30 feet gains 10 temporary hit points, provided the cambion isn't incapacitated.

In addition, this cambion can use its Innate Spellcasting ability to cast animate dead three times per day.

Demon Customization Tables

This section provides tables useful for DMs who want to customize certain demons.

Demon Personality Traits

Demon Personality Traits
1I enjoy telling lies.
2Threats are my only language.
3I fawn over others to make my betrayal more unexpected.
4I crush those I can defeat, and lie in wait to weaken and overwhelm those I must respect.
5I will do anything to survive. Anything.
6Someday all will worship me. Until then, I track their insults with obsessive attention.

Demon Ideals

Demon Ideals
1Self-Preservation. It's everything and everyone for themselves in this cruel world.
2Might. The world is divided into the strong who rule and the weak who obey or die.
3Cunning. Always have a backup plan ready, especially if it involves betraying someone.
4Strength. Strength is the one coin accepted in all realms and by all folk.
5Ambition. We reach the station in the cosmos that we deserve due to our drive and talents.
6Cruelty. Strength without regular demonstrations of its potential is an empty weapon.

Demon Bonds

Demon Bonds
1-6I am a perfect product of creation, destined to one day shape the cosmos to my whims. Everything I do verifies my destiny.

Demon Flaws

Demon Flaws
1I act based on instinct, rarely with a plan.
2I am cowed by threats, and even preposterous ones make me pause.
3Deep down, I know I am doomed to anonymity.
4My natural inclination is to grovel and beg for the favor of those stronger than me.
5I rage, but I use anger to distract from my fear of confrontation.
6I become entangled and betrayed by my own machinations.

Unusual Demon Features

Unusual Demon Features
1Belches Flies. Once per day, the demon can use an action to belch enough flies to create an effect as though it cast fog cloud.
2Tiny Wings. The demon gains a flying speed of 10 feet. If it could already fly, its flying speed becomes 10 feet.
3Ever-Open Extra Eye. The demon gains advantage on Perception checks related to sight.
4Bleeds Wasps. The first time in each combat the demon is reduced to half its hit points or less, a swarm of insects (wasps) forms around it. The swarm considers creatures other than the demon to be enemies.
5Extra Arm. The demon gains advantage on Sleight of Hand checks.
6Enormous Ears. The demon gains advantage on Perception checks to hear sounds.
7Silver Bones. The demon's natural weapons are considered silvered.
8Snake Hair. Creatures that grapple the demon or are grappled by it are poisoned until the grapple ends.
9Endlessly Mumbling Second Mouth. The demon suffers disadvantage on Stealth checks against creatures that can hear.
10Huge Feet. The demon suffers disadvantage on Stealth, Athletics, and Acrobatics checks when they involve moving its feet.
11Translucent Skin. The demon's skin is slimy and translucent. It has advantage on attempts to escape a grapple.
12Oily Boils. Each time the demon takes bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage, the area within 5 feet of it becomes difficult terrain until the end of the demon's next turn.
13Thick Lead Skull. The demon can't use telepathy or be contacted by telepathy. It can't be charmed, frightened, or stunned.
14Worm Tongue. The demon can't speak any language.
15Head Hands. The demon has heads where its hands should be and uses the heads' mouths to manipulate objects. If the demon had claw attacks, they become bite attacks that deal piercing damage.
16Blimp Body. The demon can float at will as if under the effect of the levitate spell (no concentration required). While it has half its hit points or less, it loses this ability.
17Immaterial. The demon has resistance to all damage except psychic damage, and all damage it deals is halved.
18Long Arms. The demon's reach is 5 feet longer than normal.
19Eyeless. The demon is blind. It has blindsight with a radius of 60 feet.
20Vestigial Demon. A miniature vestigial twin of the demon grows from its body. The demon can't be blinded, deafened, or stunned.

Use the following template to quickly customize a Demon

Fiendish Cults

The following tables can be used to generate random cults dedicated to fiends. Roll on the tables in the order in which they appear to build up the cult's traits.

Cult Goals

Cult Goals
1Political power, control over the local area
2The death of a hated enemy or rival
3Control of a guild or similar institution
4Recovery of an artifact or magic item that could prove useful in the Blood War
5Revenge for an insult, wrong, or past defeat
6Personal power and comfort for its leaders

Cult Resources

Cult Resources
1The cult uses a respectable guild, business, or institution as a front.
2The cult thrives through the support of generations of a powerful noble family.
3The cult controls the local officers of the law.
4The cult has access to a cache of powerful magic.
5The cult can open a direct portal to the Outer Planes, allowing fiends to intercede on their behalf.
6The cult's leader is a renegade fiend seeking to evade its enemies.

Cult Organization

Cult Organization
1Conspiracy. Members use passwords and double-blind communication.
2False Front. The cult puts on an elaborate deception to appear as a harmless civic group.
3Criminal Enterprise. The cult is organized through a thieves' guild.
4Network. The cult has a secret alliance of members who have infiltrated the lower ranks of every organization of note in the region.
5Cult of Personality. The cult leader is a beloved figure renowned for great, benevolent deeds.
6Entrenched. The cult is part of the local culture, a tradition that established decades ago and kept secret from outsiders.

Cult Hardship

Cult Hardship
1The cult is wracked with infighting.
2A rival cult strives to destroy this group and replace it.
3The cult struggles to rein in its dark, violent impulses in order to remain undetected.
4Murder and betrayal leads to a constant turnover in cult leadership.
5The cult leader is a figurehead. The real power is a crime lord behind the scenes.
6The cult is a disposable pawn manipulated by its master.

Use the template linked above to quickly draw up some information on a Fiendish Cult.


The most ancient tales speak of elves as the children of the god Corellon. Unlike many similar myths involving other races, these tales are true. Elves are all descended from a deity, and their origin led to a tragedy that shapes their culture to this day.

The gulf between the elves and Corellon, and the split between Corellon and Lolth, arose from the same transgression. That one incident set all the many races of elves on their present paths, determined their unique life cycle, and triggered an unflagging hatred between the drow and the elves of the Material Plane. No other event has had such momentous impact on elven history as the one that began it all.

A Race Divided

Long before elves existed, Corellon danced from world to world and plane to plane. A being of consummate mutability and infinite grace, Corellon was a god like no other-able to take the form of a chuckling stream, a teasing breeze, an incandescent beam, a cavorting flame, or a crackling bolt of lightning. On nothing more than a whim, Corellon's body could become a school of fish, a swarm of bees, or a flock of birds. When consorting with other gods, Corellon often adopted their appearances-male, female, or something else-but just as often kept their company in the form of a rose blossom or a delicate doe.

Corellon's flamboyant, mercurial personality showed through no matter which form the entity took. Corellon loved wholeheartedly, broke oaths without reservation, and took pleasure from every encounter with the other divine beings of the multiverse.

Most of the gods accepted Corellon's mutability and passionate behavior, but these traits infuriated Gruumsh, the greatest of the orc gods. Gruumsh's wrath was almost universally respected, even among the divine powers, but Corellon blithely took no heed of him. Perhaps it was this seeming hauteur that enabled Gruumsh to get close enough to wound Corellon, igniting the legendary conflict that cost Gruumsh one of his eyes. Depending on who does the telling, the battle was a clash of titans fought across many planes and worlds, or it was little more than an annoyance to Corellon. But the legends all agree that the first elves emerged from the blood that Corellon shed.

These primal elves were much akin to Corellon, not nearly as powerful but just as changeable and audacious. Splendid fey creatures, they traveled in Corellon's shadow, sparkling like the reflections from a finely cut gem. When Corellon came to notice these glorious echoes, the god tarried with them in the place that became the realm of Arvandor. While enjoying the company of these primal elves, Corellon came to appreciate their ideas, which were both novel and familiar, and singled out those of great repute for special treatment. Corellon gave each of these luminaries a unique name—Aerdrie, Keptolo, Solonor, Naralis, Erevan, Hanali, Tarsellis, Rillifane, Zandilar, Labelas, and many more—and with each name uttered, a new elf god was born.

One of these beings, although privileged to be elevated above the rest of the primal elves, was not satisfied with being one of Corellon's trusted underlings. She-for she had declared herself thus-saw in the multiverse around them other beings making an impact in various worlds. The entity who called herself Lolth spoke to the other new gods and wove an enticing tale of how the elves could attain superiority if only they could relinquish a bit of their individual freedom. Together, united in purpose, the gods could be the vanguard of this effort. Wasn't losing freedom to achieve greatness worth the price? Through this argument, Lolth persuaded the primal entities to take static forms, largely resembling what elves look like today, and thereby turn away from the example of Corellon's wild, ever-shifting ways.

As these primal reflections of Corellon changed their nature and defined themselves, they came to see Corellon and Lolth in new lights. They now viewed Corellon as their father, the one who had sired them, and Lolth as their mother, the one who set them on the path to their destiny. Each of the other primal elves, as children will do, favored one parent or the other. Corellon was revolted by this perceived betrayal and railed against Lolth's intrusion. Some of the primal elves rose to her defense. They argued that no entity who sprang from Corellon, no matter how rebellious, should be attacked. Those who remained advocates of Corellon insisted that their sire also wanted greatness for the elves and that such greatness could be achieved if all the primal elves followed Corellon's lead.

The primal elves gathered in great hosts around Lolth and Corellon as each entity pleaded its case. At a time when Corellon became distracted and lost in thought, Lolth crept up on him and sought to strike a mortal blow. The elves who favored Corellon helped to blunt the attack, but those in Lolth's camp remained aloof and detached, doing nothing to prevent her onslaught.

This act rent the elves asunder. Lolth and Corellon parted ways, Lolth to become a demon lord in the Abyss and Corellon to become the defacto leader of a pantheon that could no longer be trusted. The elf gods who sided with Corellon became the Seldarine, and those who fled along with Lolth became the Seldarine's dark reflection. Save for those who had been named gods, Corellon cast out the primal elves from Arvandor and consigned them to a physical existence on the Material Plane and other worlds of the multiverse such as the Feywild and the Shadowfell. From then on, all elves would be mortal, fixed in the forms they had adopted in defiance of Corellon's will. The elves who most revered Lolth became drow, and the others divided themselves into a multitude of surface-dwelling groups, each worshiping some or all of the Seldarine in their respective enclaves.

As a consequence of this rift, no elf would ever fully return to Corellon's embrace to enjoy life eternal in Arvandor. Instead, when an elven soul returns to Arvandor, it is adopted by the other gods of the Seldarine and given respite from the world for a time, during which it is left alone to contemplate its creator's disappointment. Then the soul emerges from Arvandor, to be reborn into a lissome, graceful body that lives for an incredibly long time-evidence that their creator holds a love for them that, deep down, is boundless.

The Elven Diaspora

The primal elves cavorted on various planes of existence before the rift between Corellon and Lolth. Outside the glory of Arvandor, their favorite place was the Feywild, also called Faerie-a realm of unbridled passion. It is to that place of splendors that the elves fled after they were flung from Corellon's presence. It is in that place where they transformed from fey creatures into humanoids. Afterward, they often wept as they realized what they had lost, their sorrow made even deeper by the influence of the Feywild. But it was also in the Feywild where they discovered the potential joys of being a person in a world of fixed forms.

Most of the elves eventually spread from the Feywild to other worlds, as wanderlust and curiosity drove them to the far reaches of the multiverse. In those other worlds, the elves developed the forms of culture and society that are now associated with their people. In some places, the name Corellon has passed from the memory of the elves, but the god's blood flows within them still, even if they know nothing of its source.

No matter where they are in the multiverse, elves of all sorts feel a special connection to the realm of Faerie, for it was their race's first home after they were cast adrift. Even if they can't name that realm or don't know how to return there, vestigial memories of the place sometimes glimmer in their minds when they trance.

One group of elves, the eladrin, never left that first refuge. After being exposed to the pervasive magic of the Feywild for centuries, these elves have a supernatural quality not shared by their cousins on the Material Plane. Some eladrin have been transformed so thoroughly that they have become fey creatures again and have been permitted to return to Arvandor, where they are a fascination and a delight to the Seldarine.

Living in Reverie

A memory is a curious thing. One can come into consciousness unbidden, evoked by an unexpected scent or the words spoken by a friend. A memory can also be elusive, foiling all attempts to recall it and sometimes remembered only after the hunt is abandoned, like a word on the tip of one's tongue. Some memories pull at the heart, weighing it down and holding it there as an anchor moors a ship. Others buoy it up or make it flutter joyously like the wings of a bird. Some memories lie in wait like predators, ready to leap out when the mind or the heart is vulnerable. Some linger like scars, not always visible but ever-present.

Perhaps more so than any other race, elves are familiar with all aspects of memory. From birth, elves don't sleep but instead enter a trance when they need to rest. In this state, elves remain aware of their surroundings while immersing themselves in memories. What an elf remembers during this reverie depends largely on how long the elf has lived, and the events of the lives that the elf's soul has experienced before.


Much has been made of the relative fecundity of humans compared to elves. Ignorant folk wonder how elves can live so long, yet have so few children. They cannot know what it means to an elf to usher a child into the world. They cannot understand how a birth is both a joy and a sorrow, a reunion and a parting.

Each birth represents an elf soul that has been to Arvandor and returned. Mortal elves cannot know if it is the soul of someone recently dead or someone who died millennia ago. They cannot even be certain it is an elf of the same world. The only assurance they have is that it is an elf of their own kind, for when the primal elves went against Corellon and took permanent shapes, they chose this fate for themselves.

How many elves are born to which parents or in any given generation is a topic studied by elves in the hope of discerning some sign from Corellon or others of the Seldarine. Aerdrie Faenya, the winged goddess of air and sky, is thought to ferry souls from Arvandor into the world, bringing them down from the heavens to begin their mortal lives anew. A decade in which many elves are born across the world is thought to be a harbinger of danger that great numbers of elves will be needed to withstand. In contrast, if an elven community goes a century or longer without a new birth, members take this as a sign that the community has stagnated and must disband.

Because of the rarity of elf births, siblings might be separated in age by decades, or even a century or more. Thus, few elves grow up playing with brothers or sisters of similar age and instead rely on friends for the development of their social skills. In exceedingly rare cases, a birth might produce twins or-scarcer yet-triplets. These offspring, which the elves refer to as soul siblings, are believed to have a special, intertwined destiny that can be fulfilled only if they are raised together. Elf legends are filled with tales of misfortune and tragedy that comes to pass when twins are separated and kept too long apart. One might be compelled to reunite with the other, at risk of life and limb; identical twins could become entangled in a case of mistaken identity; or the siblings might grow up as opposites, each determined to seek out and defeat the other.

During a young elf's first few years, the memories evoked during trance are drawn not from current life experiences, but from the fantastic past adventures of the elf's immortal soul. Parents of young elves and priests of Erevan Ilesere encourage the youths to explore these memories and talk about them with one another, but they aren't to be discussed with adults until a memory of waking life first intrudes upon a youngster's trance. This experience, called the First Reflection, marks the end of childhood and the start of adolescence.

Half-Elf, Half Soul?

From the elven perspective, the birth of a half-elf represents a disruption of the natural order of reincarnation. Elves in different communities and across different worlds have numerous ideas about the nature of the disruption, because the gods have never given an answer that seems applicable to all. The soul of a half-elf might be an elf soul whose connection to the Seldarine has been weakened, or it might be a true elf soul trapped in the body of a half-elf until death, or the soul that lies beneath one's elf-like visage might be human.

Many elves, especially the younger ones, view the existence of half-elves as a sign of hope rather than as a threat-an example of how elf souls can experience the world in new ways, not bound to a single physical form or a particular philosophy.


Most elves experience their First Reflection in their second or third decade. It marks the beginning of the period when an elf must focus on acquiring the knowledge and skills needed for the elf's role as an adult.

As a means to this end, elves in adolescence learn how to use trance to evoke memories of their waking lives, giving them opportunities to reflect on the joys of the mortal world and to reinforce the principles of any training or practice undertaken while awake. At the same time, the memories of long ago that came so easily during childhood now arise less and less frequently. The Drawing of the Veil is the name that elves give to the occasion when a young elf no longer experiences primal memories during trance but instead recalls only the events of its current mortal existence.


The Drawing of the Veil marks an elf's passage into adulthood, which typically occurs at the end of the first century of life.

Losing access to one's primal memories can be a traumatic experience. Elder elves look for signs of this change in young elves and try to guide them through it. Most elven cultures mark the Drawing of the Veil with a ceremony of pride or celebration, as a way of offsetting an individual's melancholy. For some young adults, this might be a time to contemplate Labelas Enoreth, while in another community the Drawing of the Veil is occasion for a celebration that invokes gods such as Alobal Lorfiril and Zandilar.

After the Drawing of the Veil, an elf enters the prime of life, a span of centuries during which most elves strive to engage with the world. An adult elf learns how to control the memories that bubble up during trance, choosing to recall experiences from its waking life that enhance its training or give it solace in bad times.

This is the stage of elven life that others are most familiar with because it's the age when elves move outside their reclusive communities and interact with the larger world. They strive to have a permanent effect on the world, to change things for the better (as they see it). Elves want to leave a mark on the world that future generations will remember.

Over time, an adult elf can become accomplished in many endeavors while pursuing its destiny. It isn't unusual among elves to meet someone who is expert in disparate disciplines, such as a battle wizard who also is a settlement's best vintner and famous for creating delicate wood carvings. This versatility speaks to every adult elf's eagerness for new experiences, because memories of adventures, escapades, and accomplishments will fuel the next and possibly longest phase of one's life.

Elder Elves

At some point during adulthood, the reverie of an elf's trance is first interrupted by a new form of unbidden thought. This seemingly errant memory arises not from the elf's personal experience, nor from the memories of the elf's primal soul, but comes from another life and another time. An elf's first experience of this sort is often referred to as the Remembrance and attributed to the influence of Labelas Enoreth. Or it is called the Revelation, and Araleth Letheranil is honored for its occurrence. Regardless of its label, this event marks the start of a new phase in an elf's life.

An elf who begins to experience these other-life memories might live on as normal for decades, but as the intrusions become more frequent, they take their toll on the individual's outlook. Eventually, an elf's thoughts start drifting away from worldly accomplishments and turning more and more inward. This change is gradual at first, but it becomes more and more severe until it can't be ignored. When that happens, an elf loses interest in the outside world and wants nothing more than to return home, to be surrounded by others of their own kind, to explore the memories they've accumulated in this life and keep them separate from the ever-increasing number of other-life memories that are resurfacing.

Most elves undergo this experience in their third or fourth century. Elves who led extremely active and dangerous lives, such as adventurers, seem to be affected earlier than those who pursue more sedate occupations. Notably, elves who have been revived from death by magical means seem to experience their first other-life memory earlier than they otherwise might.

Regardless of how soon or how often elves experience such memories, most consider them a blessing from the gods. The experiences of other lives that are revisited during trance can be examined for lessons to be applied during one's waking life, signs from the gods, or ways to open an elf's perspective to other points of view.

A handful of elves in any generation never experience an other-life memory during trance. It's hypothesized that these select few might be reincarnations of the original primal elves who sprang from Corellon's blood and were allowed to stay in his company. Although most elder elves become more serene, these rare folk spend the rest of their lives throwing themselves into dangerous situations, as if daring death to try to take them.

Dreams from beyond Memory

Elves can sleep and dream just like any human, but almost all surface elves avoid doing so. Dreams, as humans know them, are strange and confusing to elves. Unlike the actual memories of one's primal soul, present life, or past lives, dreams are uncontrolled products of the subconscious, and perhaps the subconscious minds of those past lives or primal souls as well. An elf who dreams must always wonder whose mind these thoughts first arose from, and why. Priests of Sehanine Moonbow are an exception: they sleep and dream to receive signs from their god, and elves consult such priests to interpret their own dreams.

Aging and Death

Most elves don't age outwardly as other humanoids do. The skin of adults remains smooth, their hair does not gray, and their bones do not ache. Even the oldest elves look similar in age to a human of perhaps 30 years.

Yet there is one sure sign that an elf is nearing the end of life: cataracts in the shape of crescents, points down, that appear over the pupils of both eyes when the elf is in trance. This change, commonly known as Transcendence, is evidence that Sehanine Moonbow has opened the door to enable the elf's soul to return to Arvandor—a direct sign from the gods that it's time to get one's affairs in order.

How much time an elf's body has left is never certain. Whether hours or years, the period is marked by both intense joy and great sadness. Most mortal elves accept their upcoming fate with optimism or resignation, but some react by throwing themselves back into the labors of life with a frenzy other elves consider unbecoming. Elves who die of old age without experiencing Transcendence are believed to have been denied admission to Arvandor, and thus their souls pass on to other planes and are never reincarnated. The living are left to guess why this might be true, but an elf's conduct during life often offers a clue. Drow never experience Transcendence, for example, and the same is true for elves who turn to the worship of gods other than the Seldarine.

The Elven Outlook

The elves of the surface realms have a unique perspective on the workings of the world and their place in it that is a mixture of all the factors that shape their nature, dating back to the rift between the primal elves and Corellon in the time before time.

Cultural Melancholy

The reason that elves are seldom frivolous and carefree is rooted in an inborn malaise or sorrow that infused the primal elves when they chose to stop following Corellon's path. These feelings of regret and sadness grip all elves at various times in their lives and impact every aspect of their society.

Priests among the elves typically believe that the broken link can never be healed unless Corellon has a change of heart. And as changeable as Corellon is, the god has been adamant on one point: as long as Lolth remains in existence, the responsibility for her betrayal falls on all elves. When the primal elves cast aside formlessness and impermanence for the promise of greatness, they forsook the part of their nature that Corellon most cherished-and, worse still, by doing so they somehow compromised Corellon's mutability as well.

Whether or not Lolth tricked the primal elves, to Corellon's mind, is beside the point. They chose to follow her lead, which precipitated the schism between Corellon and Lolth, even if many of them ultimately remained loyal to Corellon. Now the elves of the world must forever live and die and live again, suffering the consequences of their ancestors' poor judgment. In this one regard, Corellon is as inflexible and unchanging as the foundation of the world. And all elves grieve over the memories of the irreparably broken bond between themselves and their creator.

The Long View

Elves have a natural life span of seven centuries or longer. Not surprisingly, this trait affects their attitude and outlook toward every aspect of mortal life.

Events from centuries ago that are distant or even ancient history to humans might have been experienced firsthand by many elves who are still alive. And an elf's memory of such events is likely more accurate than a well-researched historian's account, because the elf can revisit the memory over and over during trance, fixing it more firmly in mind each time.

The elven sense of value as it relates to time is hard for humans to comprehend.

An elf seldom becomes sentimentally attached to physical objects such as manufactured structures and furnishings, except those of personal significance, for the simple reason that the object is likely to become decrepit before the elf does. Even fine jewelry and steel swords become tarnished and pitted, succumbing to the ravages of age long before the years of their elven owners come to an end.

Paradoxically, elves pay special interest to the ephemeral: a cloud of mayflies, bubbles in water, illusions, eclipses, rainbows, artistic performances, and so forth. They are fascinated by any thing of beauty-an object, creature, scene, or event-that might be experienced only once, but which can be captured in an elf's memory and revisited during trance for the rest of their lives.

It's a rare elf who forms strong relationships with people of other races, particularly those whose life spans are much shorter. Humans like to believe that elves don't form close bonds with them because the elves are saddened whenever they lose a human friend to death, but that's only a portion of the truth. From the elven view, humans' lives are over too soon for elves to forge what they consider a real friendship. Among elves, a hundred years of acquaintance between individuals is considered a good foundation for a close relationship.

In keeping with their seeming aloofness, elves can appear cold and emotionless in the face of tragedy. They do feel the same pain that others feel, and they do mourn their losses. But they also understand, in a way that other creatures can't, that all worldly pain is fleeting. Also, if an elf becomes too emotionally invested in a loss, the experience might be relived during trance for centuries to come. Keeping some distance between themselves and the concerns of others serves elves best.

Even though they are stingy with their affection for others, most elves are excellent judges of character. Thus, they can form superficial associations with other creatures very quickly. An elf often knows within minutes of meeting someone whether that new acquaintance would be a fitting companion for a journey or an adventure, and their first impressions are seldom wrong-though it might be decades later before the relationship becomes deeply personal.

The quality of patience, as other races define it, is so ingrained in elves that it goes beyond second nature. When enemies threaten to invade their domain, elves are just as often satisfied to wait out the danger in their concealed strongholds as to come forth and fight. Remaining out of harm's way for a year or even a decade is a small price to pay to avoid bloodshed-because elves, after all, have all the time in the world.

Crimes and Punishment

Consistent with their long perspective on the world and their knowledge of its history, elves have a special view of morality. They abide by the traditional definitions of good and evil, but tinged with elven sensibilities. When someone takes the life of another, for instance, the elves have a unique way of delivering justice.

Like most civilized beings, elves consider murder a serious crime, but their reasoning concerning punishment is their own. Mortal creatures, such as humans, condemn murder and those who commit it because it snuffs out a life. Where a mortal's life is concerned, elves see things the same way. Even if a murdered creature is brought back to life with magic, that doesn't negate the crime any more than replacing stolen gold makes up for the original act of thievery. But elves aren't truly mortal in the way that humans and other creatures are. If an elf is killed, the soul is reincarnated into a new body after some indeterminate time. Only the deceased elf's ambitions and current life goals are cut short; the soul will eventually receive another chance at life and fulfillment.

Because elves are reincarnated, their society treats the family and friends of a slain elf as the real victims of the murder. The survivors must carry on in life without a beloved parent, child, partner, sibling, or companion, and might feel that loss for centuries. Justice in such cases is geared toward their benefit rather than toward avenging the individual whose life was ended. Punishment for the murderer depends to some extent on the nature of the crime and whether it was premeditated. It can take the form of being exiled from the community, paying a great sum to the survivors, or being forced to carry on whatever unfinished work the slain elf was engaged in. Of these, exile is the most severe punishment. The surface elves' attitude toward murder-which some races see as bordering on blasé—is carried to the extreme by the drow, who have elevated the assassination of both enemies and friends to an art and who consider killing to be just another tool for resolving disputes and clearing the way for social advancement.

Property crimes such as theft are usually considered evidence of significant character flaws, because elves don't value material goods as highly as shorter-lived races do. An item's intrinsic value is secondary to its historical and sentimental value, which can be considerable. An elf who steals a pouch full of gems would be pitied, but someone who steals a dried flower presented to an elf by her long-gone sister would be seen as a monster and likely exiled from the community.

Passion vs. Restraint

The elven personality is a mixture of two opposing forces, which vie for dominance throughout an elf's life. How an elf handles the tension between passion and restraint colors their life experiences.

When they're young, elves approach life with great enthusiasm. Their joy is as intense as roaring flame, their sadness as deep as the sea. They dive into endeavors with seemingly inexhaustible energy, yet they typically do so without much display of emotion.

The reserve and patience of elves is well known among other races, but what a dwarf or a human doesn't see is the conflict taking place inside an elf's mind. Elves keep their passion internalized because they learn at a young age that such feelings can become destructive when they are allowed to take control. Elves who let passion overtake their behavior can be consumed by it. They stop caring about friendships, alienate family members, and take foolish risks in pursuit of gratification that a cooler head would never hazard.

This passion wanes as an elf ages, but it never disappears entirely. One of the most important responsibilities of elder elves is teaching youngsters the danger of letting their passions loose and showing them how to develop a long-lasting self-discipline.

Primeval Hatred

One of the most fervent passions in an elf is the animosity that surface elves and drow hold for one another. This hatred dates back to when the primal elves surrendered their mutable forms in response to Lolth's promises. They split into two factions: the drow, who believed that Corellon had held them back and that Lolth's betrayal was justified, and all other elves, who felt bereft of Corellon's presence and believed Lolth had manipulated them from the very beginning. To the drow, every elf who basks in Corellon's light is a weakling and a fool. To most other elves, every drow is a traitor.

Despite the rift between them, drow and other elves can deal with each other when necessary, avoiding violence for the sake of a common cause. They won't like it-they might even hate themselves for a time afterward-but they'll do what must be done according to the circumstances of the situation.

Some elves do manage to transcend this hatred. They have met or heard of dark elves, like Drizzt Do'Urden, who find their own paths in life and view each elf as an individual, not as the representative of one side or the other in a cosmic struggle.

Elf Adventurers

Most surface elves embark on a period of adventuring during their early adulthood. An adventure to an elf, however, isn't always the same as what humans mean when they think of adventure. Humans tend to equate adventurers with people who battle monsters, explore dangerous ruins, delve into deep caverns, and generally stir up trouble, usually in pursuit of gold and glory. Elves have been known to do all those things, but more typical elf adventurers are simple travelers.

Elves know that once they experience Transcendence, the memories they have accumulated will contribute to their eternal contentment. So they seek out experiences that will produce exciting, beautiful, or satisfying memories. A few battles against monsters certainly could qualify, but such activities aren't usually the focus of an elf's endeavors.

Much preferred are memories of faraway places, excellent meals, and fascinating people. As such, most elf "adventurers" are primarily sightseers, not valiant crusaders or heroes for hire.

This aspect of elven life isn't as well known among other races as it might be, because elves spend much of their "adventuring" years in places far away from other societies. They're more interested in remote forests, lonely valleys, high mountains, and other natural places than in cities. Traveling elves want to meet people, but not too many.

A small fraction of elves are born with or develop the qualities that mark them as potential adventurers, as other races define the term. Many traditional adventuring groups are happy to count an elf among their members, and some elves take to this life enthusiastically. Elves have a reputation for remaining unruffled in the face of danger, a very good quality to have among folk who regularly find themselves in difficult situations.

On extremely rare occasions, an elf might join an adventuring party for reasons that are based in fear. A tiny percentage of elves develop an irrational fear of the serene, contemplative life that awaits them in their later years. Even if such a future life seems tepid and unbearably dull during an elf's prime, the psychological changes that come with age make this peaceful period of existence the most satisfying experience possible for an elf's later years. Nevertheless, this fear is immune to logic when it arises in adult elves. To avoid the fate they dread, consciously or subconsciously, they throw themselves into dangerous situations, not caring whether they survive or perhaps even hoping they don't. In effect, they're looking for another chance, seeing their current life or perceived future as unbearable and hoping to stop the clock on this mortal body and start afresh.

Elves and Magic

Magic infuses the elves' world. Even so, they aren't born with an innate understanding of magic. To master spellcasting, an elf must devote years of study and practice to it, the same as most folk. But from the moment they're born, elves are surrounded by a culture, a philosophy, and an artistic style that incorporates and subtly reveals the mysteries of magic to someone who is receptive to the message-which elves certainly are.


There's a reason most powerful wizards are old. The special formulas of action, item, and sound that produce wizardly magic require precision, and such precision comes only from long practice. More than that, each spell a wizard might cast requires a portion of one's powerful intellect to be dedicated to the task, with the necessary patterns of thought and proper mindset kept in stasis, ready to be unleashed. Even after these concepts are mastered, new knowledge of magic remains elusive, and a wizard must progress steadily through deeper levels of understanding, breaking through mental barriers in order to achieve ever greater mastery.

Of all peoples, elves are perhaps best suited to wizardry. They have centuries of life to devote to their studies, and their trance effectively gives them extra time to practice, as lessons learned during study can be reinforced by recalling them during resting periods. The rigidity and studiousness required by wizardry would seem anathema to a people who can recall a life of unfettered exploration and free expression of form, but magic provides a means of regaining that power. The patience and restraint for which elves are well known serves them well in this pursuit.

Not all elven communities embrace wizardry, but most worlds of the multiverse have at least one community of elves in which the spellcasters are renowned as masters. In some worlds, elves are even credited with the invention of the art of wizardry.


Great works of magic are by no means unique to elves, but the creation of {@i mythals} seems to be knowledge that did originate with them. Known by different names on different worlds, a {@i mythal} is a persistent magical field that changes how reality works over a large area. Creating the most powerful of mythals requires many wizards of great renown and long experience to engage in the same ritual, while lesser wizards feed spells into the growing webwork of magic. Such a ritual can take a long time to perform and sometimes requires the sacrifice of lives in order to achieve its purpose, but the results can be utterly miraculous.

The {@i mythal} that protected the mighty city of Myth Drannor on the world of Faerûn prevented the entrance of enemy races such as dragons, illithids, drow, and doppelgangers. It negated spying magic and teleportation, and every elf within its bounds gained the power to fly and a multitude of magical protections.

Similar magic allowed the elves of Krynn to raise a {@i mythal} at Qualinost. A city of moon-pale stone, its many towers stand hundreds of feet tall, and bridges of alabaster arc impossibly through its sky like pale rainbows.

A {@i mythal} can't be dispelled or suppressed by any conventional means, nor can its effects. Once one is in place, it seemingly lasts forever, since none are known to have dissipated. A mythal's nature can only be warped or changed, and that can be accomplished only through the use of magical energy equal to that required for its creation.

The metropolis of Waterdeep, which lies on the Sword Coast of Faerûn, benefits from mythals that were created to protect the capital of a great empire of elves that stood on the spot over two thousand years before the city's founding. The elves left for Evermeet upon the order of their leader, who commanded the wizards of the city to alter the {@i mythal} so that evidence of the empire's existence was wiped from the surface of the world.


Those who see a bladesinger in battle never forget the sight. Surrounded by chaos and blood, the bladesinger moves in an otherworldly dance. Spells and sword act in concert, meshing awe-inspiring beauty with fearsome deadliness. When the bladesinger's sword whirls through the air so swiftly that it keens and the air hums and whistles in chorus, the bladesong has begun-and it might be the last thing the bladesinger's enemy hears.

The elves and half-elves who practice the art of the bladesinger, a tradition found primarily on the world of Faerûn, appear to be almost casual in combat, deflecting opponents' blades while elegantly moving into position to score hits in return. A bladesinger wields a weapon one-handed, leaving the other free for spellcasting or to manipulate a wand that can be incorporated into the fighting style. This technique gives a bladesinger the freedom of movement necessary for the dancelike motions of the various forms of martial art, which allow both magical and physical attacks to flow freely.

Few among the elves, and an even smaller number of half-elves, have the honor of being inducted into the ranks of the bladesingers. One must have the mind necessary to be a great wizard, and also the agility of the greatest dancers.

The Seldarine

The pantheon of elven deities, called the Seldarine, includes Corellon and the group of primal elves whom he graced with divinity. These gods were the ones who brought word to Corellon of Lolth's radical ideas, and their creator rewarded them with a vast increase in their divine power. When Lolth lured some of the primal elves away from Corellon with her promises, this high-ranking core of divine entities remained loyal. Because they rejected Lolth's treacherous ways, they retained their primal power and their immortality.

Surface elves, and other elves who dwell in the light, revere these entities for remaining true to Corellon. In practice, this reverence is expressed more as the honoring of an ancestor than the worshiping of a god, for all the elves are descended from the Seldarine.

The Elf Deities table enumerates the members of the Seldarine. For each god, the table notes alignment, province (the god's main areas of interest and responsibility), suggested domains for clerics who serve the god, and a common symbol of the god. Several of the gods in the table are described in this section.

Elf Deities (The Seldarine)

Elf Deities (The Seldarine)
DeityAlignmentProvinceSuggested DomainsCommon Symbol
Aerdrie FaenyaCGAir, rain, fertility, birthLife, Tempest, TrickeryBird silhouetted against a cloud
AngharradhCGWisdom, growth, protectionKnowledge, Life, WarThree interlocking circles
Alathrien DruannaNRunes, writing, spellcastingArcana,** KnowledgeA quill or glyph
Alobal LorfirilCGRevelry, mirthLife, TrickeryWine glass
Araleth LetheranilCGLight, stars, revelationsKnowledge, LightShaft of light
Corellon LarethianCGPrimary god of elvesArcana,** Life, Light, WarQuarter moon or starburst
Darahl TilvenarLNFire, earth, metalworkForge,* LightFlame between hands
Deep SashelasCGCreativity, knowledge, seaKnowledge, Nature, TempestDolphin
Elebrin LiothielCGAbundance, gardens, the harvestLife, NatureAcorn
Erevan IlesereCNMischief, changeTrickeryAsymmetrical starburst
Fenmarel MestarineCNSolitude, outcastsNature, TrickeryTwo peering elven eyes
GadhelynCNIndependence, outlawryNature, TrickeryLeaf-shaped arrowhead
Hanali CelanilCGLove, beauty, the artsLifeGolden heart
Kirith SotherilNGDivination, illusionKnowledge, TrickeryRainbow sphere
Labelas EnorethCGTime, history, memoryArcana,** Knowledge, LifeSetting sun
Melira TaralenCGPoetry, songsKnowledge, Life, TrickeryLute
Mythrien SarathCGAbjuration, mythalsArcana,** Forge,* KnowledgeRow of three intertwined rings
Naralis AnalorNGHealing, suffering, deathLife, Grave*White dove
Rellavar DanuvienNGWinter, harsh weatherTempestSpear between two circles
Rillifane RallathilCGNature, beasts, the seasonsNatureOak
Sarula IlieneCGLakes, streamsTempest, TrickeryThree lines symbolizing waves
Sehanine MoonbowCGDreams, death, travelGrave,* Knowledge, LightFull moon under a moonbow
ShevarashCNVengeance, loss, hatredWarBroken arrow over a tear
Solonor ThelandiraCGArchery, hunting, survivalNature, WarSilver arrow with green fletching
Tarsellis MeunniduinCNMountains, rivers, wild placesNature, TempestMountain with a river
Tethrin VeraldéNGBattle, sword fightingWarCrossed swords beneath a quarter moon and above a full moon
Vandria GilmadrithLNWar, grief, justice, vigilanceGrave,* WarWeeping eye
Ye'CindCGMusic, enchantmentLife, TrickeryRecorder
ZandilarCNRomance, lust, danceLifeLips

Corellon Larethian

The creator of all elves is both chaos and beauty personified. Corellon is as fluid and changeable as a breeze or a brook-quick to anger, but equally quick to forgive and forget. The god loves magic, artistry, nature, and freedom. Anyone who has felt the mystical presence of Corellon describes it as a joy like no other, followed by a deep melancholy when his presence is no longer felt.

Corellon doesn't expect much from followers-no complex rituals or frequent ceremonies or even regular prayer. Corellon wants them to enjoy life, to try new things, to imagine what they desire and then pursue it, and to be kind to others. In return for this freedom from the usual requirements of religion, Corellon expects them to address their own problems and not pray for aid in every crisis.

These precepts are instilled within every elf, since all elves are ultimately descended from fragments of Corellon. When elves ask their priests how one might become able to sense Corellon's presence, the priests often say, "First, truly know yourself. Only then can you feel our creator near."

Services in Corellon's honor are typically conducted in natural stone amphitheaters or bowl-shaped forest clearings. In keeping with Corellon's chief commandment for everyone to be free, all who attend are allowed to show their obeisance however they choose, as long as their way of contributing combines with the others to form a grand display of reverence. Such a gathering has the atmosphere of a festival rather than of an organized worship service.

Many elf wizards honor Corellon and adorn their spellbooks and towers with the god's symbols. Some of them speculate that Corellon is the personification of raw magic itself, the primal force that underlies the multiverse. Corellon is not magic tamed or shaped-not the Weave, as some name it-but magic in its original form: a well of endless, splendid possibilities.

The Mysteries of Arvandor

Only those long-lived scholars who have researched the elves with the greatest tenacity have heard of the Mysteries of Arvandor, and all these luminaries have ever been able to glean is that it is a secret gathering of elves dedicated to Corellon where a magical replaying of the elven myths of creation is communally experienced.

The truth is that the Mysteries of Arvandor is a phenomenon that elves recognize as a summons from their creator, which they can choose to accept or disregard. The event occurs on one plane or multiple planes within the multiverse in a single moment, and there is no guarantee that it will ever occur again; the ability to hear the call is a rare gift. Depending on Corellon's need, the god might call a few dozen or several thousand elves to gather, each elf returning to Corellon's body temporarily for some task that only the god can comprehend.

Before this gathering begins, the elves who have been selected start to have powerful dreams and waking visions, urging them to travel to a certain location. At this point, each of the summoned elves must choose whether to follow the visions, because it is known that not every elf returns from an encounter with Corellon. It's true that to be absorbed into the god once more, and returned to awareness before the Drawing of the Veil, is the fulfillment of every elf's longing, but some elves have grown attached to the mortal and mundane world, and thus they turn away from their god's summons. Those who answer the call of Corellon are telepathically guided to their destination, often for hundreds of miles across unknown terrain, or even across planes.

Most elves who return to their homes from the Mysteries are forever transformed. These participants generally remain silent about their experience, out of reverence and appreciation. Those who speak about the Mysteries of Arvandor struggle for the right words, but they all say in one way or another that experiencing the Mysteries is a way for elves to join with Corellon, gifting the god with their life force-and in return, they revert back to their free, formless nature for a time. After this mystical communion, many elves have a deeper understanding of their origin and a firmer grasp of magic, and some enjoy a lingering telepathic connection with others who have been initiated into the Mysteries.

Cryptic shrines to the Mysteries of Arvandor appear throughout the planes, mostly sites where carved or painted stars cover the ceiling of a cave. On the planes that have hosted one of these rare events, elf priests consecrate and maintain temples devoted to the Mysteries. Often these sacred sites are natural spaces that have intrinsic magical properties.

Stories about the Mysteries are preached by many theologians as examples of Corellon's abiding love for his wayward children. Some sages imagine that, one day, all elves will be given this opportunity, after Corellon is satisfied by the completion of some great cosmic quest, and elves will once again be a people of unfettered form and unimaginable joy.

The Blessed of Corellon

Ever changing, mirthful, and beautiful, the primal elves could assume whatever sex they liked. When they bowed to Lolth's influence and chose to fix their physical forms, elves lost the ability to transform in this way. Yet occasionally elves are born who are so androgynous that they are proclaimed to be among the blessed of Corellon—living symbols of the god's love and of the primal elves' original fluid state of being. Many of Corellon's chief priests bear this blessing.

The rarest of these blessed elves can change their sex whenever they finish a long rest-a miracle celebrated by elves of all sorts except drow. (The DM decides whether an elf can manifest this miracle.) Dark elves find this ability to be terrifying and characterize it as a curse, for it could destabilize their entire society. If Corellon's blessing manifests in a drow, that elf usually flees to the surface world to seek shelter among those dedicated to Corellon.

Hanali Celanil

Hanali is the elven god of beauty and love. Usually depicted as a beautiful female, in some stories the god appears to mortals as a gorgeous male. Hanali's gender in a story seldom matters, for no matter how much heartache and confusion the stories contain, they end with affairs of the heart properly sorted out and everyone in love with the person, or persons, they were fated to be with. Stories of Hanali's romantic adventures among elves and other mortals are perennial favorites when sung by elf bards and poets.

In Arvandor, Hanali maintains a hidden pool called Evergold. She bathes in it at least once a day. It's said that the water of Evergold keeps her young and breathtakingly beautiful, but this is certainly a poetic myth, since all the Seldarine appear young and beautiful, with or without having bathed in this fountain. Mortal elves who are invited to join Hanali in the pool are said to retain their youthfulness and to delay the onset of Transcendence by at least a century. More than a few elves claim to have experienced this benefit, and the truth of it is attested by many bards-sometimes in all earnestness, sometimes with a knowing wink.

Priests of Hanali perform weddings between elves and preside over most other family-related ceremonies. Other than nuptials and a spate of spring celebrations, the priests conduct few observances.

Pools of Beauty

Those who worship Hanali Celanil build shrines in her honor around natural pools of clear spring water-a representation of the purity and power of Evergold. Her priests often surround such an area with flowers or arrange stones in a way that accentuates the natural beauty of the place. In a shrine dedicated to the worship of several elven deities, an alabaster bowl of water, usually with yellow flowers or petals floating in it, is left in reverence to Hanali.

Hanali's pool is a symbol of rejuvenation, and its water has significance as well in representing the ever-flowing force of love. To Hanali's followers, love is a living thing that flows like a river, moving around obstacles with ease, and, if it must, carving a path through bedrock to reach the sea of unity where all love gathers to become one with the cosmos. As one would navigate a river, the faithful of Hanali are known for following their hearts, unwilling to deviate from the pursuit of ultimate beauty.

Devotees of Hanali Celanil are known for taking the initiative in beautifying their surroundings without asking or expecting others to follow suit. If a shrine to the gods is beginning to look somewhat untidy, her followers will straighten things up, bring fresh flowers, and refresh offerings of food, water, and wine. Especially vigilant individuals might even decide to clean up after others who carelessly spill a drink in a tavern or leave their dinner table in a slovenly condition, all in humble service to their god.

Labelas Enoreth

Even though elves live far longer than most other humanoids, they show few physical signs of aging until they become very old. By the time an elf's hair turns to silver and wrinkles appear around the eyes, the elf has lived for centuries and probably has only a few decades remaining. For this longevity and long-lasting vitality, they thank and revere Labelas Enoreth.

Labelas is portrayed as an elderly elf with silver hair, still-active eyes that once were bright blue but now are clouded and gray, fine wrinkles around the eyes and mouth, and a right hand slightly impaired by the effects of age. If anything, these symptoms of mortality make the god even more handsome and stately in the eyes of his followers than he was in his youth.

Elves tend to give Labelas little regard until they experience Remembrance. Like Corellon and Hanali, Labelas makes few demands on his followers. A few minutes each day spent thanking him for his gift of long life and good health, and occasionally placing a fresh flower in one of his shrines, is generally all that's expected. When an elf develops unusual ailments in old age and appears headed for decrepitude, other elves might wonder if these are the repercussions for not paying Labelas his due.

Most settlements have only one or two priests of Labelas. These individuals are elves well past their prime but who have not yet begun to withdraw into themselves. Their duties involve guiding elves who have recently experienced Remembrance, and are thus beginning the journey into introversion in the waning days of one's mortal life. The priests also preside over funeral celebrations, since Labelas is also honored for his role in seeing that elves experience beneficial reincarnations.

Eternal Witness

Shrines and temples to Labelas Enoreth are mostly made of or decorated with ephemeral things. Patterns and images made with colored sand, cut flowers, precariously stacked stones, and images made from thin paper are all commonly found there. These places of veneration are usually located in desolate, high places where the ever-changing sky and the setting sun can be seen and contemplated. Along with the setting sun, images of clouds are a major motif for followers of Labelas, who often tattoo such designs on their bodies or embroider them on their robes to signify the ephemeral nature of the physical world.

Labelas Enoreth is the custodian of time, monitoring its passing and making sure that the warp and weft of history isn't torn asunder by powerful maniacs and errant demigods. He is also the eternal witness, watching the souls of the elves as they dance from incarnation to incarnation, each mortal lifetime representing a role an actor would take in a play. From his cosmic perspective, Labelas looks on each elven life as a story to be written, nudging wayward souls toward incarnations that he deems suitable for their overall development, and thus weaving the life of each elven soul into a tapestry that spans the ages. In acknowledgment of this gift, priests and devotees of Labelas often weave modest tapestries of their own and donate them to shines in his honor.

Despite Labelas's influence in the Seldarine, elves can become psychologically immersed in their mortal incarnations, forgetting about the tick of time and the eventual end of their physical forms. Even Labelas's appearance, with his obvious signs of aging, isn't enough to dissuade some elves from growing attached to their youthful features, long life, and worldly treasures. But all such naive behavior is brought to heel when the Remembrance occurs, and an elf's inward examination begins as one journeys toward death and a new beginning. Priests of Labelas smile with compassion when these wide-eyed elves show up at their temples, suddenly full of contrition and offerings for Labelas, still shaken from the vision of their Remembrance and the gravity of its meaning.

To enhance an elf's Remembrance, the priests of Labelas use a special mirror made of polished black onyx. Small versions of these can be seen at many shrines dedicated to the Seldarine, as a reminder to the passing faithful of the importance of Remembrance. The priests advise those in their care to look into the mirror in order to deepen the trance of Remembrance. In the black void of the mirror, they see the faces of their former selves and scenes from their past lives-a glimpse into the grand tapestry of the each soul's existence as Labelas begins to weave yet another incarnation.

Rillifane Rallathil

Like the other elven deities, Rillifane Rallathil was once a primal elf sprung from droplets of Corellon's blood. The original primal elves-and indeed, Corellon himself-have no "true form." Their common, elf-like portrayals are a convenience adopted after the elves took on permanent humanoid form.

When the other elven deities decided on humanoid forms, Rillifane took a different approach. He took as his principal form that of an enormous oak tree, taller and wider than any other. Its roots are so deep and far-reaching that they touch the roots of every other plant in the world, or so it's said. Through this network of tendrils, Rillifane remains aware of everything that happens in the forest.

When he chooses to travel to other planes and worlds, Rillifane takes the appearance of an uncommonly tall and strong wood elf with dark skin, handsome features, and twigs and leaves protruding from his hair.

In either guise, his main concerns are the welfare of forests and prairies, the passing of the seasons, and the lives of beasts. Most of his followers and priests are elf druids. They're just as insular and secretive as any other druids, which means their motives are often not clear to those around them.

Energetic debates have been held over whether Rillifane's oak tree exists only on Arvandor; has roots that extend to all worlds; is duplicated fully on every world that has plant life; or is only a metaphor for Rillifane's deep connection to nature. A growing sentiment among Rillifane's druids holds that the correct answer is "All of the above or none of the above, depending on Rillifane's mood."

Roots Run Deep

Ancient trees are almost always incorporated into shrines to Rillifane Rallathil. Many forests in elven lands have sacred groves where such trees stand as silent witnesses to the events of the world. At the base of such a tree, amid its immense, gnarled roots, the druids of Rillifane place their offerings. Carvings of animals, golden acorns, snowdrops, and sprigs of holly or witch hazel are all common offerings to the god of the passing seasons and the beasts of the forest. Often a shrine to Rillifane contains resting places where one can bend knee and meditate at the base of the great tree.

The druids of Rillifane consider trees to be symbolic of the connection between the mental and the physical, between what is illuminated and what remains mysterious. Trunks and branches reach high into the expanse of the mind and the realm of revelation, while roots sink deep, anchoring themselves in the known and enwrapping what remains hidden. When Rillifane's druids meditate at the site of a great tree, they can receive visions that afford them a new way of seeing the world. Often these flashes compel the devotee to undertake a quest to bring balance to the natural order by delivering a vital message or completing some other task.

Sehanine Moonbow

Sehanine is Corellon's beloved; Corellon is Sehanine's creator. Sehanine is Corellon's shadow; Corellon is Sehanine's reflection. Sehanine is the moon; Corellon is the moon's crescent. Sehanine is the night sky; Corellon is the sun and all the stars.

No god of the Seldarine is as intertwined with Corellon or presents so many paradoxes for worshipers to unravel, but this role befits Sehanine, for she is a god of mysteries as much as anything else. Many non-elves find it easiest to think of Sehanine as the companion of Corellon and the god of the moon, but to elves she is much more than that. The moon passes from one phase to the next, and Sehanine watches over all such cycles, be it from season to season or cradle to grave. She is midwife to elf mothers, ushering souls into the world. She is also thought to stand beside dying elves, to greet their departing spirits and set them on the path to Arvandor. Sehanine serves as patron of the lost and any who travel, as well as those who seek meaning. Elves beseech her to provide relief from madness, and they mark her symbol on graves and tombs to invoke her protection of the dead. In these comforting aspects, Sehanine is often imagined as a willowy, gentle male elf with shining eyes that reveal both melancholy and tenderness in their gaze when depicted alongside his beloved Corellon.

In stories of the Seldarine, Sehanine is Corellon's steadfast companion, the one being who can persuade Corellon to pause and reflect rather than allow his emotions to rule him. Corellon can be resplendent with joy or shaking with anger, but a word or a look from Sehanine is enough to check or subtly alter Corellon's mood and behavior, redirecting the god to a less extreme course of action. Some elven legends treat Sehanine as Corellon's spouse or as a favored child, but other stories hint at a deeper truth. They say Sehanine was formed from the first drop of blood spilled from Corellon's body, and so she reminds Corellon that even as a divine being, he can be harmed.

Sehanine's priests often seek her guidance by entering into a state of true sleep and sifting through their dreams for signs. But Sehanine has another way of sending messages to the elves of the world. The crescent-shaped cataracts that appear in the eyes of an elderly elf at Transcendence are symbolic of the moonbow, an astronomical phenomenon with which she is associated. It appears in the night sky above the moon as a luminous arc of refracted light, no brighter than the moon itself. Only elves and some half-elves can perceive this sign, for it is meant only for Corellon's people. What it signifies depends on the phase of the moon. Above a full moon, when it is most often detected, it means that an elf of great importance and advanced age will soon journey to Arvandor. Elves who see the sign might be compelled to seek out this individual to commune with and learn from before the elder departs the world. The moonbow appearing above the moon during its other phases can be interpreted in many ways, depending on the season and the timing of its appearance. A moonbow appearing above a new moon is the most dreaded sign, for it is said to signal a coming period of great upheaval and many deaths.

Lunar Worship

Temples to Sehanine Moonbow are almost always aligned with the heavens to enable the priests to track the motion and phases of the moon. The sleeping quarters of the priests are positioned such that a shaft of light from the full moon falls on them while they are sleeping, and this silver light of Sehanine can influence their dreams and impart messages to them.

Offerings to Sehanine are mostly made from silver, often shaped in a way that is reminiscent of the full moon. Cups, bowls, cloak pins, and plates of silver are found at her shrines, as well as those dedicated to the Seldarine collectively. The weapons and gear used by her followers, such as silver arrowheads, knife blades, and wooden shields, are often decorated with a stylized image of Sehanine's eye with rays coming out of it-a warning to the elves' enemies that Sehanine's gaze has fallen upon them.

Deep Sashelas

Deep Sashelas, sometimes known just as Sashelas, is the elven deity of the sea, seafaring, and knowledge. Sashelas is called the Knowledgeable One. His awareness of all lore, not only that about the sea, is seemingly limitless. He is especially beloved by sea elves, dolphins, and elf sages.

Most of Sashelas's most devoted followers are sea elves, as are his priests. Many seafarers toss offerings of gold and jewels overboard, beseeching Sashelas to calm storms or provide favorable winds, and he is inclined to aid them even if they aren't fully dedicated to his worship. His sea elf priests often lurk in the water beneath ships when these offerings are made. They catch the treasures as they sink and use them to decorate Sashelas's underwater shrines, to purchase items from coastal merchants that can't be manufactured underwater, and to bribe dragon turtles into their service. Ceremonies honoring Sashelas are held underwater at times of uncommonly high tides or during electrical storms, when flashes of lightning above the waves provide illumination to the calmer realm below the surface.

Sea of Knowledge

Over time, much of the world sinks to the depths of the oceans and is thought to be lost forever, but it isn't lost to everyone. Sashelas gleans much about the world above the waves from that which sinks beneath them: every shipwreck, every offering, and the wealth and knowledge of every seaside city swallowed by a giant wave are added to Sashelas's ever-expanding library of lore. Knowledge that has disappeared from the surface world might still be known to the priests of Sashelas, gained through communion with their god. Messengers who never reached their destination, ships filled with scrolls from an ancient library, scholars whose works were lost at sea-all of these add to Sashelas's storehouse.

Away from the open sea, many lagoons, reefs, and grottoes have shrines devoted to Sashelas. Many come in reverence to bathe in the waters in the hope of receiving visions from the god, since it is known that Sashelas is fond of sharing knowledge with those who are true seekers. Scholars, monks, and clerics visit these elaborately decorated seaside temples, immersing themselves in the blessed waters and looking for enlightenment.

Because the god also dispenses lore through dreams and reveries of memory, many artists and poets worship Sashelas. They seek his creative insight by spending time floating on the waves, then return to shore to write down or sketch out the gifts bequeathed to them.


Arvandor is the ancient elven name for the home of the Seldarine, one of the realms on the Outer Plane of Arborea. It is a place where the unfettered passions of elves run free. Joy, lust, rage, contentment, jealousy, and love in all their extremes are on spectacular display there. Lifelong friends might share a laugh over food and wine, cross blades over a mutual lover, and write songs celebrating each other's courage and integrity, all in a single evening. Elves who live on Arvandor are no different from elves living anywhere else, except for the intensity of their passion. All manner of elves can be found there, including eladrin and even a few extraordinary drow. The splendor of the Seldarine illuminates their days, and their trances are filled with the intoxicating, blissful feeling engendered by their nearness to Corellon's magnificence.

When an elf's soul reincarnates, the elf might return to life on any world or on Arvandor. As a result, many elves alive today have latent memories of a previous life spent on Arvandor. Because of the deep feelings associated with those memories, they are often among the first previous-life recollections to resurface at the beginning of an elf's Remembrance. Recalling such an existence can stir up a great longing to visit the place once again.

Like most Outer Planes, Arvandor can be perilous for outsiders, including mortal elves who were not born in the place. The native elves are boisterous, tempestuous, and ready to draw blood over the slightest insult or lapse of tradition. The plane's beauty is both overpowering and bewildering. Fey spirits lurk everywhere, and they're even more unpredictable and more easily provoked than the elves.

Those are the obvious dangers. The subtle danger of Arvandor is that it can act like an addictive drug on visitors: the longer they remain, the more likely they will never want to leave. Anyone who stays more than a month might need to be dragged back to their home plane by well-meaning friends, then guarded or confined until Arvandor's pull on the person wanes.

Because of all these difficulties, many elves resist the urge to visit Arvandor and instead make a pilgrimage to the Feywild, which feels like a realm very similar to the home of their gods.


At one time or another, every surface elf, during every lifetime, pines for Arvandor. They might not know of Arvandor or be able to fully define the longing, but they can't escape it. Getting to Arvandor, on the other hand, is extraordinarily difficult for most mortal elves, requiring magic far beyond what most practitioners are capable of. Yet even if one could manage to open or find such a pathway, Corellon doesn't look favorably on elves from the mortal world who get near to him in this way. He suffers their presence only for a short time, forcing them to vacate the realm or be overcome by it.

It was, in part, this situation that led to the creation of Evermeet. By means of a cataclysmic ritual, the greatest elf wizards of Faerûn summoned into the world a piece of Arvandor and bound it there. Their intent was to craft a new homeland for the elves, a place protected from the outside world and so similar to their afterlife as to allow elves to live in a virtual heaven on earth.

Although the performance of the ritual was an act of supreme sacrilege, it didn't bring divine retribution down on those responsible. Perhaps the Seldarine deemed the consequences of the act to be punishment enough. The ritual ripped continents apart. It shifted seas. The lives lost couldn't be counted. Even time and space were, for a time, torn asunder. This event was the first Sundering of Faerûn, and the world was forever changed by it.

Millennia later, Evermeet still exists, although now it is unmoored from the world, somewhere in the space between the Feywild, Arvandor, and the Material Plane. By using secret pathways, entering a fairy ring on special nights, or traversing a moonlit sea by following certain stars, elves of many worlds can get to Evermeet—if they're lucky. Even from Faerûn, for instance, one can sail to Evermeet only on a ship captained by an elf who has been there before. And if the captain slips up, the ship might become adrift on the Astral Plane.

Despite all these obstacles, when elves feel the pull of Arvandor, some find the way to assuage that feeling by traveling to Evermeet instead. Unlike on Arvandor, elves who visit Evermeet can do so for as long as they like and leave when they want-or can choose to stay, as many elves do in the later decades of their lives.

The arrival of elves from worlds other than Faerûn is a phenomenon of just the last few decades. When Evermeet became detached from Faerûn, it also lost its great queen, Amlaruil Moonflower, said to have been invested with powers by all of the Seldarine. Her throne has sat empty ever since. The consensus of the ruling houses in Evermeet is that the Seldarine now want Evermeet to be open to all elves and not ruled by any single mortal.

Eladrin and the Feywild

The Feywild exists separate from but parallel to the Material Plane. It's a realm of nature run amok, and most of its inhabitants are sylvan or fey creatures. In these respects, the Feywild has certain similarities to Arvandor. First-time visitors might be excused for not being sure which of the two planes they're on for a time after arriving. Unlike Arvandor, however, which is a plane of good, the Feywild leans toward neither good nor evil; both are equally prevalent and powerful there. For that reason, parts of the Feywild where evil holds sway are substantially more dangerous than any place in Arvandor.

All kinds of elves live in the Feywild, but one subrace—the eladrin—has adopted it as their home. Of all the elves, eladrin are closest in form and ability to the first generation of elves. Some could pass for high elves, but most are distinctly eladrin in appearance: very slender, with hair and skin color determined by the season with which they feel the closest affinity. And their eyes often glimmer with fey magic.

Continued exposure to the Feywild, over a century or more, hastens the onset of Remembrance significantly among most elves. Elves who have spent most of their lives in the Feywild can experience their first other-life memory as early as the age of 200 years. Eladrin aren't affected this way.

Because of their link to the primal elves, eladrin tend to be haughty around other elves. They're proud of their heritage and equally proud of their ability to thrive in the Feywild, a land full of threats that would overwhelm and destroy weaker creatures. Some eladrin trade haughtiness for a tender kindness toward their elf cousins, knowing that many elves have never felt the ecstasies of a life amid the fey and of years spent near the ancient shrines and other glories created by the primal elves who first arrived in Faerie. These kinder eladrin take a special pleasure in introducing their realm to others.

Eladrin cities represent the pinnacle of elven architecture. Their soaring towers, arching bridges, and gracefully filigreed homes are a perfect blend of construction, natural elements, and magic-inspired motifs. Streams and waterfalls, gardens and copses, and structures of stone and wood are commingled in ways that are original and yet completely natural-looking.

Eladrin culture is older than any other elven civilization, and it's also the most decadent. Most elves are impetuous to some extent, but eladrin are known for their fickleness. Many of them change their minds on the spur of the moment without giving reasons. Their system of justice vacillates between capriciously harsh and whimsically mild, depending on the mood of the eladrin passing judgment, and eladrin are more susceptible to flattery than other elves are.

Elves from the Material Plane who have researched eladrin culture blame these traits on the influence of the Feywild. As part of their argument, they point out that eladrin who spend a significant amount of time on the Material Plane—adventurers and scholars, primarily—still demonstrate these attitudes, but to a lesser degree.

Although eladrin have the closest connection to Corellon because of their ancestry, they are alone among elves in feeling little affinity for Arvandor. Eladrin don't long to end their cycle of rebirth and rejoin Corellon, but rather to meld with the Feywild when they are reincarnated. They believe that an eladrin who excels in life throughout a series of incarnations can eventually come back as a member of the Seelie or Unseelie court or, in extreme cases, even as an archfey.


The hideous fomorians were once the most handsome of the giants. They lived in the Feywild alongside the elves, and the two societies were allies because of their mutual love for magic. But then the fomorians twisted their love into malice and turned magic into a slave that toiled for them to feed their lust for power. When they tried to conquer the Feywild and enslave the elves, too, the elves united with other fey to drive the fomorians underground. The giants, now grossly misshapen thanks to a curse brought about by their own inner foulness, retreated to the Underdark of the Feywild, where they remain today.


When the primal elves chose to take the forms of mortals, they were one people split by conflicting loyalty to gods who reviled each other. The schism led to a conflict that ended with Lolth retreating to the Abyss and her adherents exiled to the Underdark. This banishment enabled the victors to once again live in peace on Arvandor but did nothing to heal the rift.

The vanquished elves weren't seen or heard from again for centuries. Throughout that age of residing in the darkness, absorbing the unhealthy emanations of the Underdark, subsisting on its tainted water and food, and always beseeching their god for guidance and following her poisonous dictates, Lolth's worshipers gradually transformed into the drow: the cruel, predatory, and wicked offshoot of the elf race.

Reflections of Lolth

From the time they're old enough to understand, drow are taught that they're superior to all other creatures, for they remain steadfast in their devotion to Lolth despite the hardships of their existence. Any creature that isn't a drow is useful only as a sacrifice to Lolth, as a slave, or as fodder for the giant spiders that the drow train to patrol their cities and tunnels.

Among these other, lesser forms of life, the elves that live in sunlight are especially despised because they are descended from the primal elves who betrayed Lolth so long ago. First they accepted Lolth's offer of mortality in return for destiny, but then they turned against her in a pathetic effort to win back Corellon's favor. Drow view the elves of the surface world as cowardly children who defy their parents when they're not around but cower in the corner when their parents return, terrified of having their bad behavior found out.

Reverence for Lolth touches every aspect of drow life. All dark elves constantly watch for signs of her favor. Any incident or physical feature can be interpreted as such a sign, and priestesses are quick to attach meanings to obscure omens that benefit their own interests.

All this effort to please Lolth is a wise precaution. Though she resides in the Abyss, the Spider Queen isn't a distant god. She sometimes tests her most faithful by drawing their spirits to her in the Demonweb to undergo her judgment. Followers never know when or if they are to be tested. One who claims to have undergone the test and passed it is rewarded with respect and elevated status. Even someone who successfully lies about having taken the test can earn the respect of their peers, since perpetrating this falsehood is a way of proving one's worth to Lolth. Lying and conniving can't save those who fail the test, however, because the evidence of such an outcome is immediately obvious-a drow whose spirit has failed its test in the Demonweb Pits becomes transformed into a drider.

When Lolth is well served, she rewards her faithful with favors. When she is defied, she visits the Underdark in one of her forms and takes a direct hand in punishing the malefactor in a manner that discourages anyone who might be contemplating a similar kind of disobedience. Perhaps making an example of malcontents in this way is simply an aspect of how Lolth's cruel personality works. It also might be evidence of a lesson that she learned all too well from the way Corellon reacted to her betrayal of him: the smallest flame of resistance must be snuffed out before it grows into a conflagration.

Driders: Lowest of the Low

Much confusion and misinformation exists about driders among non-drow, but all dark elves know exactly what driders are: failures. They have either fared badly in Lolth's test or displeased her in some other way.

Once its transformation has taken hold, a newly created drider is shunned by its house and exiled from the community, with nothing but a few meager supplies and its knowledge of the Underdark to protect it. Drow congregate to throw stones at the still-dazed creature and drive it into the tunnels beyond the city's environs. If it's unlucky, it's attacked by a roper, a carrion crawler, or another drider. If it's lucky, the new drider finds a safe place to hide while its wounds heal.

So begins a drider's life in exile. Another widespread misunderstanding about driders is that they serve the drow as pickets, elite troops, or even suicide squads. They do none of those things. They are despised outcasts who live on the fringes of drow territory. Even though drow revile driders, they don't kill them, because a drider's punishment is to live a long life in wretchedness. Killing one would cut short Lolth's judgment and possibly earn the same sentence for the perpetrator.

Driders that survive for a long time can become accomplished hunters and navigators in the Underdark. Nothing will reopen the doors of drow society to them, but sometimes a drider can find a place in another community. Someone who needs a guide through the Underdark might not find a better one than a centuries-old drider that has faced every hazard those tunnels hold.

Society of Blood and Poison

The principal organization in drow culture and society is the house, an extended clan that comprises many related families, plus a number of lesser families who have pledged loyalty to the house. A house's membership also includes some (potentially very large) number of indentured drow servants and slaves of other species. A house usually specializes in a business, a service, or a craft that supports by providing income.

Houses are in constant competition with one another. They vie for money, for prestige, and, more than anything else, for power over others-the surest sign of Lolth's approval.

No tactic is outside the rules in this ongoing conflict. Raids against another house's outlying property (farming caverns, trade caravans, or hunting parties) are commonplace. Rumors about disloyalty, conspiracies with surface elves, or heresy against Lolth are circulated so frequently that no one knows what to be sure of. Assassinations, both by blade and by the use of special drow poisons, are a constant threat. Bodyguards and food tasters are as necessary to the survival of a high-ranking drow as air and water. Squabbles within a house also occur from time to time as relatives jockey for position. It's a rare occurrence, though far from unknown, for drow to assassinate their own parents or siblings if that's what it takes to create a path for advancement.

Rule of Matriarchs

Females are the top figures in drow society. At the head of each house is someone who is a shrewd business operator, a skilled tactician, a high priestess of Lolth, and probably also a merciless assassin with blood on her hands. Unlike with many other races, female drow are typically taller and more robust than males.

To rise to the top echelons of power, a female must first become a priestess of Lolth. Then, to ascend to the status of high priestess, she must take advantage of powerful connections or craft special alliances. The path to ultimate power in drow society is never direct and is always paved with death.

A male drow can advance in standing as a combatant, a consort, or both. Physical beauty and fitness are highly prized in male drow, and those who are especially favored in this regard can earn protection and gifts from their matrons. A few males can attain high status in their society, especially those who serve as mages, but they never overshadow the females of their houses. Even the most intelligent, strong-willed, and devious male will never be more than a second-class citizen in any drow city or house. That situation will never change as long as Lolth reigns as their queen.

Nocturnal Raiders

If the drow kept to themselves in their subterranean cities and fortresses, few other creatures would care. The dark elves could indulge their evil practices until their caverns were heaped with corpses and awash in blood. Even the surface elves might be content to overlook their hatred for their kin and leave the drow alone, as long as they never had to lay eyes on the drow or view the results of their efforts.

But drow society is predicated on a foundation of terror and slavery, and the most desirable slaves live on the world's surface: humans, dwarves, and best of all, other elves. To the dark elves, raiding the surface for captives and treasure isn't just a cultural and military tradition, but also an economic necessity.

Some raids are major operations that involve hundreds of warriors, mages, priestesses, and giant spiders, a large enough force to overwhelm a community. The invaders would sweep through the town in the dark of night, shackle the best potential slaves into long trains of chattel, kill everyone who resisted, burn everything to the ground, and set their sights on the next town in line.

Most of the dark elves' raids, however, are small, stealthy, one-night missions. The drow scout their targets in advance, then strike on a night when the moon is new or its light is obscured by thick clouds. They might kill indiscriminately to spread terror, while at other times they slip into a village, knock out their targets with poison, and spirit their captives away without even waking the neighborhood dogs. Sometimes a raid uses both tactics; one squad sets fires or sets off alarms to focus the defenders' attention on one area, as another team strikes at the real target on the other side of town.

Loot is a secondary goal on almost all raids; taking prisoners is the primary objective. Some of the dark elves' victims become slaves, some end up as food for giant spiders or other monsters that the drow have trained to serve them, and some are laid out across bloodstained altars and sacrificed to Lolth.

The drow know how vulnerable they are during daylight, so they typically plan raids that can be executed within the span of a single night. As a rule, that means their target must be no more than a few hours' march-eight to twelve miles is typical-from an entrance to the Underdark. Ideally, they'll have more than one return path mapped out; if an escape route is blocked, they can switch to another and get safely home.

Once the raiders get inside their escape tunnel, they're usually safe. Opposing forces seldom pursue the drow below ground for good reason-beyond the light lies unmapped enemy territory where everything they meet is likely to be hostile. In special circumstances, such as if one of the raiders' captives is a royal heir or the scion of a wealthy family, adventurers might be hired to mount a rescue mission. Otherwise, it's rare for any rescuers to follow the kidnappers' trail deep into the deadly darkness without becoming victims themselves.

Slaves and Status

The drow are known and feared throughout the world for their practice of slavery, but those who have visited their cities report that slaves aren't as prevalent as the dark elves' reputation would suggest. In general, only powerful houses hold significant numbers of slaves, and the slaves of a house are never more numerous than its population of drow.

Slaves are often kept as signs of status as much as for their intrinsic worth as laborers. When they are put to work, they are also put on display, doing jobs that enable everyone on the street or in an audience chamber to see that their drow master owns and subjugates powerful enemies. As such, the creatures are commonly used as litter bearers, banner carriers, servers, and footstools.

Slaves without appreciable value as status symbols are used for strenuous or dangerous jobs such as tending farms, hauling cargo, or hollowing out giant stalagmites and stalactites to make new dwelling spaces. When they become too weak or dispirited to work, they might be staked out as bait during a hunt, fed to the spiders, or sacrificed to Lolth (and then fed to the spiders).

Although all slaves are at the bottom of the dark elves' social hierarchy, the lowest-ranking drow are considered little better than slaves themselves. A weak house that doesn't ally itself with a protector will be preyed on and victimized into extinction. If it does swear allegiance to a more powerful house, it avoids being persecuted by other houses but becomes effectively a clan of indentured servants. Only the most exceptional females in such a clan have any chance of rising above their low station, and those who do advance end up hurting rather than helping their families because they are adopted into the more prestigious house, leaving their original house even weaker than before.

The Dark Seldarine

Lolth demands the lion's share of worship from the drow, according to her wishes and by the command of her priestesses. The Spider Queen isn't, however, the only entity venerated by drow. They revere a host of divine entities, which they refer to as the Dark Seldarine in mockery of the surface elves' deities. The Dark Seldarine are mighty, immortal beings, survivors from the original group of primal elves who revolted against Corellon to remain at Lolth's side.

The Drow Deities table lists the members of the Dark Seldarine. For each god, the table notes alignment, province (the god's main areas of interest and responsibility), suggested domains for clerics who serve the god, and a common symbol of the god. The gods in the table are described below.

Drow Deities (The Dark Seldarine)

Drow Deities (The Dark Seldarine)
DeityAlignmentProvinceSuggested DomainsCommon Symbol
EilistraeeCGFreedom, moonlight, songLife, Light, NatureSword-wielding, dancing female drow silhouetted against the full moon
GhaunadaurCEOozes, slimes, outcastsWarPurple eye with black sclera
KeptoloCEBeauty, hedonism, fertilityNature, TrickeryMushroom
KiaransaleeCENecromancyArcana,* DeathDrow hand wearing many silver rings
MalykCEChaos, rebellion, wild magicTempest, TrickeryA flame in a tear or a multihued vortex
LolthCEPrimary god of drow, spidersTrickery, WarSpider
SelvetarmCEWarriors, slaughterWarSpider over crossed sword and mace
VhaeraunCEArrogance, thievesTrickery, WarBlack mask with blue glass lenses inset over eyes
ZinzerenaCNAssassination, illusion, liesTrickeryShortsword draped with cloth
Drow Trance: Entering the Void

Drow enter trance just as other elves do, but they do not experience memories of a primal soul or of past lives. Often they recall nothing at all, but simply dwell for a time in darkness and silence, a respite from the dangers of their daily lives. When drow do dream, whether in trance or in sleep, they look for signs from Lolth or others of the Dark Seldarine. That drow do not experience trance the way other elves do lends credence to the idea that their souls do not reincarnate. Did Corellon forever bar the souls of dark elves from Arvandor and change them in some fundamental way? Or does Lolth somehow weave new souls for her followers, in the way that Moradin forges new spirits for dwarves? Only those entities know for certain.


Unlike Corellon, who asks very little of his followers, Lolth is a demanding mistress. What she demands most of all are sacrifices of treasure and blood. Time and time again, the screams of sacrificial victims echo through Lolth's lightless temples as they fall under the knives of her priestesses. Her altars are piled with skulls picked clean of flesh by the giant spiders that lurk in the webdraped stalactites overhead.

In return for victims and adoration, Lolth grants signs of her favor, such as great success during a slave raid on the surface, the matron of a rival house being struck down by an inexplicable illness, or an heiress to the house being born under propitious omens.

Holes in Lolth's Web

Lolth is far from omniscient, despite what her priestesses say. There are drow who live without bending to the tyranny of her worship. Communities of renegades who dispute Lolth's primacy often raise another of the Dark Seldarine up as their patron. Although this amounts to exchanging one evil oppressor for another, any escape from Lolth's web can feel like freedom.

The Acropolis of Thanatos, erected in the ruins of a drow city wiped out by plague in the Underdark of Faerûn, was home to a drow settlement of a few thousand ruled by necromancer clerics of Kiaransalee. It existed for a few decades before worshipers of Lolth and worshipers of Eilistraee teamed up to eliminate its leaders.


This entity is most often referred to as That Which Lurks, because uttering its real name risks attracting its attention. Its actual form, if it even has one, is unknown; it's most often represented as an ooze-like creature with many tentacles or a purple pupil surrounded by black instead of white. The liquid nature of Ghaunadaur is symbolic of its unpredictable nature, which is what makes attracting its attention so risky. It occasionally rewards its followers with supernatural powers or wealth, but it's equally likely to curse its faithful with hideous torments and afflictions. A subterranean hunter who whispers Ghaunadaur's name might stumble into a forgotten treasure trove, while a devoted priestess who offers long prayers and valuable sacrifices is consumed by a gelatinous cube. The entity's random behavior can be an attraction to drow who lack status and are desperate to achieve it. A small sacrifice and a prayer to That Which Lurks might simply go unnoticed by Ghaunadaur, or it might punish the petitioner, but there is also a chance of receiving a great reward.

Worship of That Which Lurks is widespread in the Underdark. Not just drow pay respect to it. Even creatures that are considered to be mindless, such as oozes and jellies, sometimes behave in ways that seem consistent with reverence for That Which Lurks.

Those who are faithful to Lolth often oppose Ghaunadaur's cultists, driving them into hiding or forcing them into open conflict. Some priestesses and scholars believe that this enmity exists because Ghaunadaur betrayed Lolth shortly after she betrayed Corellon. In these legends, Ghaunadaur tried to curry favor with Corellon and recapture his earlier formless nature by turning on Lolth. Ghaunadaur's double act of betrayal brought retribution from both gods, and he was cast down into the world as a skinless, boneless mass. Other stories portray Ghaunadaur as an incredibly ancient and ineffable deity, one of the so-called Great Old Ones. Both claims might have merit, because the truth about the time of the birth of gods can never be known for certain.


The ideal of what a male drow can become, Keptolo is handsome, stylish, witty, hedonistic, an outrageous flatterer, and sought after as a lover. He is also dangerous in his aspects as a subtle assassin and a whisperer of rumors. For those attributes, he is worshiped by ambitious males who hope to emulate him. Some succeed admirably and achieve great things beyond the reach of most males, but many more succumb to excesses of the flesh, dissipation, and disease, or they are ruined or murdered by a rival-who is also a true disciple of Keptolo.

In most myths, Keptolo resides in the Demonweb Pits alongside Lolth, whom he serves as consort, more than a plaything but much less than an equal. Keptolo is a bitter enemy of Zinzerena, who deceives and uses him as a tool in many of the stories about the Dark Seldarine.


The drow god of vengeance and undeath, called the Revenancer, is portrayed in some legends as a fierce female clad in silver and translucent veils, and in others as a banshee. In either version, her hands bear many glittering silver rings, and this image is recognized as her symbol.

Drow see Kiaransalee as the patron of vengeance because she is said to have died and returned from death to get her revenge, bringing an army of the dead back with her. Various communities of her worshipers have differing ideas about who killed her and why, but typically the murderer is portrayed as having the features of some kind of creature the drow have great hatred for. Followers of Kiaransalee don't trouble themselves greatly over these details, because all the stories could be true: the Revenancer is believed to have returned from death over and over again.

Vengeance is the aspect of Kiaransalee that appeals to most drow, because it becomes a necessity in every ambitious drow's life-usually more than once.

The state of undeath is of less concern to them, but those who practice necromancy turn to Kiaransalee for guidance and for protection from undead.

Some of her most fervent followers seek out the secret of attaining undeath for themselves. Kiaransalee favors them by bringing them back as undead, but unlike other gods of similar sort, Kiaransalee doesn't offer the undeath of lichdom but a lowly existence as a banshee, a revenant, or a wight.

Drow believe that Kiaransalee was driven mad by returning from death as a god so many times, but her followers aren't discouraged by this assessment. Despite her madness, her actions are guided by a deep and devious cunning-a trait that drow attach more importance to than they do to sanity.


Malyk embodies rebellion and chaos. Drow know of his influence from the appearance of wild mages among their number. Such an individual, possessed of sorcerous powers seemingly bestowed at random, is often seen as a threat to the established order. Many drow, especially males and even females of low station, try to attract Malyk's attention by secretly making sacrifices to him. Meanwhile, house matrons and others steeped in the faith of Lolth attempt to purge Malyk's worship from drow society-at the same time that some of them pray to him for power.

Malyk is associated with rebellion because when a wild mage's true nature is revealed, the individual often has no recourse but to openly attack others and create chaos. Most other drow vie to receive Lolth's blessing by being the one to bring such a blasphemer to justice. In order to survive, a wild mage must defeat or elude all attackers and forge an alliance with those who can be threatened or bribed to provide a safe haven. Most wild mages who are discovered are put to death, some survive as outcasts, and a rare few rise to positions of status, declaring their allegiance to Lolth—or at least pretending to.


Drow regard Selvetarm as the Champion of Lolth and the patron of drow warriors. He is portrayed as an eightarmed drow that represents the epitome of fighting prowess. But Lolth rarely looses her champion to do her bidding, keeping him snared by unbreakable webs that she removes only in times of direst need.

The dark elves believe that Selvetarm walked in solitude for many centuries, spurning both Lolth and Corellon, for he was not wholly given over to evil but neither was he fully aligned with the forces of light. Eventually his path crossed that of Eilistraee, and he began to appreciate the goodness of the Dark Maiden, as exhibited in her teachings and deeds. By aiding in Selvetarm's redemption, Eilistraee hoped to begin to heal the breach between drow and the Seldarine. That hope was dashed, however, by the insidious plotting of Lolth.

The Queen of Spiders had long resented the existence of Zanassu, a minor demon lord that competed with her for divine authority over spiders. She hated almost as much the possibility of Eilistraee's winning an ally among the drow pantheon. A prime opportunity arose when the spider demon lost much of its power in a conflict on the Material Plane. Lolth convinced Selvetarm to destroy Zanassu in its depleted state and seize the spider demon's burgeoning divine power. She did so by suggesting to Selvetarm that a victory would win him favor in the eyes of Eilistraee, whom he greatly admired. But when Selvetarm prevailed in battle over the spider demon, the wholly evil and chaotic nature of the divine power he absorbed overwhelmed Selvetarm's innate goodness and weakened him enough that the Spider Queen could bound his will tightly to her own.

Enraged by Lolth's duplicity, Selvetarm is an engine of destruction, an eight-limbed maestro of slaughter. If allowed to operate unchecked, he could rend his way through an entire drow city in a berserk rage. Keeping him restrained is one of the few acts of Lolth that can be described as merciful.

Because of his status as a captive, Selvetarm draws little attention from drow of high status. Low-caste drow warriors who are themselves slaves or indentured servants, or who have no chance to rise in rank, can beseech Selvetarm for prowess in battle without suffering any shame. Anyone of high standing or who hopes to attain high standing shies away from openly expressing reverence for Selvetarm, though such an individual might still beg his aid privately.


Vhaeraun stands for the dark elves' superiority over other races and for the primacy of individual drow over other drow. He is a god of arrogance, and thus he condones all acts of avarice, fair and foul alike. Those who take what they want from whom they wish, whether through stealth or bullying, pay homage to Vhaeraun. He is patron to thieves and often the object of prayer before drow embark on a raid.

Among the male gods of the Dark Seldarine, he is as widely recognized and accepted as Keptolo. But Vhaeraun represents a different aspect of drow masculinity: strong, silent, obedient, swift, and deadly. He is thought of as Lolth's favored son, in contrast to Keptolo's role as her beautiful consort.

Due to his high status in the Dark Seldarine (for a male) and because of his arrogance, a few of his worshipers look on him as an advocate of equality between male and female drow. That heresy, when it is expressed openly, is liable to be savagely crushed by the priestesses of Lolth. So most of Vhaeraun's male followers honor him simply by trying to carve out better lives for themselves, and that activity is tolerated. Even so, adherents of Vhaeraun don't appear in public without wearing masks. This practice exists in part because Vhaeraun is never portrayed unmasked, and partly because anonymity is a wise precaution when one challenges the social structure of the drow in even a small way.

To quash any challenge to the matriarchy that Vhaeraun might inspire in his followers, some drow communities preach that he wears a mask to hide the terrible scars from the wounds inflicted on him by Lolth as punishment for his arrogance. His silence, too, is part of his punishment, for his tongue was removed for questioning Lolth's orders. Worshipers of Vhaeraun who believe this dogma sometimes ritually scar and silence themselves as signs of their devotion, and then serve as voiceless, masked bodyguards for the matrons of their house.


As the patron of assassination, illusions, and lies, Zinzerena personifies cruelty, stealth, misdirection, and survival by any means necessary. In some ways, Malyk is her reflection, and in many interpretations of the age-old stories, the two gods are siblings or lovers. But Zinzerena is more palatable to female drow than Malyk, and she condones the study of arcane magic.

The liturgy of Zinzerena is passed on in the form of folk tales, for her faith has no place among the leadership of drow society. Her tales usually describe her hiding and waiting until her foes are weakened or lax in their attention before she attacks. Those who respect or revere Zinzerena are almost always of modest social status, or worse. Even the most prestigious of noble estates, where a high priestess reigns supreme, might have a number of her followers among the commoners who work as servants and staff. Only the most capricious of nobles would enter her priesthood, though some have done so. Inevitably, when such traitors are discovered, they are cast out from their houses. Ironically, these maverick nobles often become leading figures in Zinzerena's cult, for they are the best educated and most politically experienced of her followers. Her adherents come from a wide range of occupations, including common thieves, laborers, guides, physicians, poets, and nearly any other profession. What they all share is a rebellious spirit and a desire for change.

In some stories, Zinzerena is Lolth's daughter, who was spirited away and hidden from her by illusions. In other tales, she begins life as a mortal elf who uses glamors to trick her way into the company of the gods. Regardless, Zinzerena always has some element of illusion magic about her, and she uses it and other deceptions to get the better of more powerful opponents. Deceit and taking advantage of others' weaknesses are recurring themes in the tales of her exploits. The only figure in the Dark Seldarine immune to Zinzerena's deceptions is Lolth, although even the Queen of Spiders is sometimes tricked when Zinzerena shifts blame for her actions onto others.

Not many female drow devote their lives to the study of magic, because it's held to be a low-status avocation more suited to males. Most females who pursue it seriously do so in secret. Even rumors that a drow matron practices arcane magic, if they aren't quashed, can sabotage her standing in society. Yet there's no denying that knowledge of arcane magic could be a great boon to an ambitious female. Zinzerena's worshipers encourage this pursuit and offer tutelage and tools in exchange for a candidate's alliance with Zinzerena's secret cult.


Most drow know nothing of Eilistraee. Matron mothers of the most powerful houses closely guard the scrolls that chronicle her existence. They retain them for the sake of remaining aware of the enemy they describe: a drow god who would spirit away all of Lolth's worshipers to the surface world.

The matron mothers warn those who go to the surface on raids to retreat if they can see the moon-practical advice, it would seem. But an equally important reason is that Eilistraee is known to work her wiles under the light of the moon, so that drow are more susceptible to her lure at such times. The matrons also direct the raiders to flee back underground if any of their number hear music they find appealing, such as a parent's lullaby or the chorus of a rousing song carried on the mind, because Eilistraee's call to drow who would be free of Lolth's web is often delivered within dulcet tunes that aren't of otherworldly origin.

Eilistraee is a god of moonlight, song, dance, and, most important, the rejection of the evil ways of Lolth. Drow who feel like outsiders in their society, who react with disgust to the evils perpetrated by their kind, who come to the surface and fall in love with the stars-these are the ones who might be pleased to hear Eilistraee's call. If they respond to it by going to the surface and staying there, Eilistraee offers no guarantee of their safety and no promise of acceptance in the world above. But she opens her followers' hearts to the wonder of the nature in the night, and her songs and signs can show a drow how to persevere in that alien environment.

The scrolls that the matron mothers guard so closely attest that Eilistraee turned against Lolth but knew better than to seek solace among the Seldarine. Her position among the other drow gods remains uncertain, as is the fate of the souls of those who turn to her worship. Drow who are beloved by Eilistraee sometimes appear to vanish when they die, as the body dissolves into pale light and leaves no clue to where the soul has gone.


Drow of the world of Eberron worship a scorpion-god named Vulkoor, which is their world's equivalent of Lolth. Vulkoor is often portrayed or envisioned as a giant scorpion or as a hybrid creature with the head, arms, and upper torso of a strong male drow and the lower body of a scorpion. The dark elves of Eberron revere scorpions, seeing spiders and other arachnids to be lesser servitors of Vulkoor. Many drow believe that Vulkoor and the Mockery (one of the group of evil deities known as the Dark Six) are one and the same. Drow from the jungle continent of Xen'drik ritually tattoo themselves using scorpion venom, leaving white scars etched into their skin.

Drow of other worlds rarely know of Vulkoor. Those who are familiar with his name consider him one of the weakest of the Dark Seldarine, a subordinate of Lolth who is disregarded by the other gods. Both visions of Vulkoor might be accurate, since Lolth seems to have little influence in Khyber but the drow there bear many similarities to the Lolth—worshiping drow of other realms throughout the multiverse.

On Krynn, Lolth is unknown, as is Corellon, yet elves called "dark" exist in this world. These are elves whom others believe have betrayed their people, but to the eye, they bear none of the physical hallmarks of drow. I wonder if, with so mutable a race as elves, that state is permanent.

The Demonweb Connection

Lolth's personal realm is a layer of the Abyss known colloquially as the Demonweb Pits. Far from being intimidated by their deity's connection to the Abyss, the drow revel in it-sometimes literally.

Drow have respect for the power of demons, but they don't fear them the way most other mortal creatures do. A drow who calls up a demon from the Abyss into the Underdark wants something from it, typically a means of improving one's status or gaining leverage against enemies. A demon that answers the call wants something in return: an opportunity to spread carnage, to curry Lolth's favor, or to accomplish something more devious. As long as both sides get what they want, these arrangements conclude without further incident.

Every so often, a demon summoning goes badly. Perhaps the drow intended to trap the demon into servitude but took inadequate precautions, or the demon was wilier than usual, or the call was answered by a being more powerful than the summoner could handle. Calling forth a demon and failing to rein it in is a capital crime in most drow communities-an uncontrolled demon often spells disaster not only for the drow who pulled it from the Abyss but for the summoner's entire house.

A demon is the highest form of slave a drow house can own. There's no better display of a house's power than a demon kept shackled as it serves its master, and few more potent ways of striking fear in an enemy's heart. Demons are also sometimes sought after as house guests. The occasion of a major sacrifice, the dedication of a newborn daughter to Lolth, or even a lavish banquet takes on greater significance and imparts more status when one or more demons are in attendance. In addition, any "peaceful" gathering of drow and demons has the potential to descend into a riot of hedonism, even more raw and debased than the orgies drow engage in on their own. Stories of such encounters have spread all the way to the surface world, where listeners dismiss them as exaggerations-but they're not. Draegloths, the offspring of drow and glabrezu, serve as proof enough that when demons and drow consort with one another, the result can be truly horrific.


The shape-changing demons known as yochlols are the personal servants of Lolth. They seem to be numberless in the Demonweb Pits, but where they arise from is unknown. Are they spawned from drow souls that became trapped in Lolth's web? Or do they spring directly from the queen herself? Regardless of their origin, yochlols respond to the will of Lolth alone. No other demon or demon lord can command them.

Because yochlols can assume the form of a female drow or a giant spider, and because they serve Lolth without hesitation, all drow assume that some number of their friends and neighbors are actually yochlols in disguise, spying for Lolth. The higher a drow's standing, the more worrisome this prospect becomes. After all, Lolth has little reason to care about those at the bottom of society, but those who lead her people and direct her worship must be closely watched to be sure they remain devout, unquestioning, and afraid.

Drow Renegades

Drow society is, paradoxically, extremely open-ended and extremely oppressive. All drow have a chance, at least theoretically, to improve their station in life, and movement does occur throughout the hierarchy all the time. But, naturally, those in power are determined to put down any threat against them-and the penalty for insubordination is death.

As things work out in practice, indentured drow at the bottom of the ladder spend their lives laboring for another house's gain, and powerful drow at the top of society spend their time trying not to be assassinated or framed for heresy, while clinging to the power and prestige they've wrested from other houses.

A dark elf who challenges another for superiority and fails, or who fails to respect the hierarchy in some other way, has just three options: agonizing death on an altar, virtual enslavement, or fleeing for their lives. Some of those who choose to run succeed in escaping into the Underdark, despite the odds against them.

Survival for a solitary drow underground is nearly impossible.

The main routes through the Underdark are dotted with drow guard posts, and the back ways are prowled by ropers, mind flayers, duergar, and other killers. To make matters worse, the renegade's former house offers a bounty that entices drow assassins to take up the chase. Of those who run, only a small fraction get to the surface. And even that achievement is no guarantee of safety, because a lone drow above ground is likely to be attacked on sight by surface dwellers.

Those who find a way to survive in the painful world of sunlight either live as recluses or find a community where their heritage and upbringing give them an advantage, such as an assassins' guild or a company of adventurers. Even in such cases, these traitorous drow spend the rest of their lives looking over their shoulders, hoping to spy the black hood and flashing blade of a bounty-hunting drow assassin before it's too late.

The Raven Queen and the Shadar-kai

The Raven Queen is a being of dark mystery. Accomplished wizards talk about her in hushed tones, and with no small amount of fear, for even they can't say what power she wields in her realms, too subtle for mortal minds to sense. Rumors abound as to her current form, most coming from claims made by lunatics who have described an array of disturbing images: a terrible shadow that clawed at their innermost thoughts, a pale and regal elf who exploded into an untold number of ravens, a shambling tangle of slick roots and sticks that overwhelmed them with dread, or an unknown presence that pulled them screaming blindly into the gloom.

Despite all attempts to demystify her, the Raven Queen has remained enigmatic and aloof, immersed in a sea of questions. She rules from her Raven Throne within the Fortress of Memories, a mazelike castle deep within the bleakness of the Shadowfell. From there she sends out her ravens to find interesting souls she can pluck from various planes of existence. Once they are in the Shadowfell, she watches as these souls attempt to unravel the mystery of their being-and ultimately go mad in the process.

Origin of the Raven Queen

For those who seek to unravel the enigma of the Raven Queen, the story of her origin comes from the ancient history of the elves. It is said that she was once an elf queen, whose people loved her more than they loved the gods. Her true name has been lost to time.

But from the fragments that have been found of her history, it was she who, when Corellon and Lolth were locked in conflict, tried to use the souls and magic of her people to elevate herself to godly status, thus salvaging the fractured pantheon of the elves. Afterward, the legends suggest, she would attempt to implore Corellon and Lolth to come to their senses. But the information in these fragments was woefully incomplete, and the queen's true motives were never fully understood.

Descent into Shadow

As the queen rose in power, many elves became inspired by her, freely offering their souls and their magical abilities to help her achieve her goal. This group of devoted followers called themselves the shadar-kai, and they gathered others like themselves around their queen in hopes that, once she achieved divinity, she would unify all the elves. The queen's plan was to use the souls of the shadar-kai to forge a pathway through the Feywild to Arvandor, all the while increasing her influence.

As the numbers of shadar-kai grew, a consortium of evil wizards among her followers saw an opportunity to siphon off the energy of the shadar-kai for themselves by performing their own self-serving ritual, which would impart to them magical powers beyond those of the greatest elven wizards of legend. But as the queen approached the entrance to Arvandor, she realized what the wizards were doing and brought all her wrath down upon them as the ritual was under way. Because she was by now a quasi-divine entity, her supernatural rage corrupted the ritual into a phenomenon that took on a terrible strength of its own.

By the time the queen realized her error, she could feel the now-twisted magical energy grabbing hold of her, and she was powerless to stop it. In a panic, she reached out to the souls of the shadar-kai for more power, hoping to save herself, but the gravity of the spell had become irresistible. It pulled the queen, and all who were under her sway, into the Shadowfell, where she was instantly killed. From her ruined mind and body, the Raven Queen was born.

The Creation of the Nagpas

When their ritual failed with catastrophic results, the wizards in the consortium were pulled into the Shadowfell along with the queen and the shadar-kai, but their misfortune didn't end there. Their former queen arose from the center of a maze of ash and let loose a scream of ebon smoke that penetrated the flesh and minds of the wizards, turning their bones black and lacerating their souls. Their cries of agony merged with her own, and when her scream faded, the wizards had been mutated and warped into the scabrous, vulturish creatures known as nagpas. Now they wander the planes as wretched monsters, marked forever by the Raven Queen's curse and banished from her presence.

After the Fall

After the nagpas were created and then banished by the Raven Queen, the shadar-kai watched as she fell deeper and deeper into a divine madness. Her pain and turmoil over the betrayal of her wizards, the destruction of her kingdom, and her failure at attaining godhood all contributed to her descent into an unquenchable sorrow. At the same time, the energy of the corrupted ritual was still transforming her, breaking down her form from a physical one into an entity composed of symbols, images, and perceptions. To keep herself from dissipating entirely into nothingness, the queen used the last vestiges of her personal power to pull dead memories from the Shadowfell about her, creating a cloak of identities that sustained her. Over centuries, those dark memories accumulated and coalesced to give shape to the entity now known as the Raven Queen.

The Fortress of Memories

Since achieving divinity, the Raven Queen has filled her realm with shadows and memories, obsessively collecting such essences from remnants of dead gods and mortals that were strewn throughout the Shadowfell. From these metaphysical fragments she formed her new home, a twisted castle that the shadar-kai call the Fortress of Memories. The fortress is a mournful place, filled with incessant echoes of the past. Flocks of ravens that act as her eyes and ears darken the skies around it when they emerge from within, bearing her cryptic messages and omens far and wide across the multiverse.

Bizarre Menagerie

Within the Fortress of Memories are trinkets and items that the Raven Queen finds irresistible, memories plucked from people's pasts that have been invested with deep feelings of pain, sorrow, longing, guilt, or remorse. These items are brought to her as gifts from the shadar-kai. These trinkets can include furniture, clocks, mirrors, jewels, and toys. Also appearing in the fortress are ghostly visions of people, places, and pets. Any of these things can spontaneously appear about her lair, every object and apparition being a metaphoric representation of some story-great or small-that was saturated with raw emotion.

A Quest to the Fortress of Memories

Because the Raven Queen has godlike power, she can put an adventuring party inside a demiplane that is created from the psyche of one of the characters. On entering the Fortress of Memories, or encountering the Raven Queen, a character can find themselves transported to a strange fairy tale world pulled from their experiences, filled with metaphors, parables and allegories, all of which challenge that character's frailties, fears, and desires. Much can be learned from adventuring within the fortress and undergoing the Raven Queen's test, but much can also be lost. Many adventurers never return from the fortress, forever trapped within a world created from their own experience.

Encountering the Raven Queen

Mortals that enter the Raven Queen's realm are almost instantly confronted with a glimpse into their own internal landscape. Because she is fascinated with emotions, the Raven Queen worms into the unconscious minds and memories of her visitors, bringing forth visions from the deepest reaches of their psyches. Some of these visitors are the unwitting souls of departed people who have been pulled into the Raven Queen's clutches, others are astral travelers who are caught and trapped within the Shadowfell by her magic-but a rare few come of their own volition, seeking knowledge or freedom from a dark past.

Many of these daring individuals are adventurers who know of the Raven Queen's terrifying power yet nevertheless travel to the Shadowfell to undergo her trial, letting the secrets of their souls be unfolded and revealed. The reasons why folk would subject themselves to this dangerous experience are numerous, including:

Method or Madness?

Some wizards and other scholars have speculated that the Raven Queen is simply insane, that there is no method to her madness other than a nervous pecking apart of a psyche with no more motive than a curious child pulling the legs off an ant. Others have speculated that the Raven Queen needs the gravity of emotions to hold her eternally decaying identity together. But a few sages have postulated that the Raven Queen's purpose is of greater importance, that she serves as a filter of sorts, cleansing souls that cling to fear and pain, forcing them to confront their unfinished business so that they are freed of their mortal baggage and can rise to explore higher planes of existence.

The Raven Queen's Influence

The Raven Queen's desire to interfere with the affairs of the gods and her subsequent failure was taken as nothing less than treason by both Corellon and Lolth. As a result, the physical reality of her kingdom was shifted to the Shadowfell, and the memory of her existence was wiped from the minds of elves. Initially, no mortals knew of her, but over the centuries, those who have journeyed to the Shadowfell and those who have encountered shadar-kai in the world have seen, or heard tales of, a dark fortress, a mysterious figure surrounded by gaunt servants, and scores of seemingly sentient ravens. Most folk who have heard of the Raven Queen view her through a lens of superstitious fear, attributing to her all kinds of strange occurrences, mishaps, and coincidences. But those who seriously study the arcane-warlocks, wizards, sorcerers, and the like-know that her effect on the world is farther-reaching than that.

Audience after Death

Some adventurers claim to have been visited by the Raven Queen after their deaths-before their stalwart friends paid to have them resurrected. While they were in the afterlife, the Raven Queen enlisted them for a quest to complete a task, acquire a particular item, or perhaps to travel to a location and simply wait. Most of those who have talked about these visitations say they felt compelled to do her bidding, because the visions imparted by the Raven Queen made it apparent that the quest was in some way part of their greater purpose.

The Raven Queen's reason for communing in this way is a matter of some dispute. Some sages posit that she is using people as pawns in an inscrutable game, the rules of which are known only to her and the Lady of Pain. Others suggest that she is balancing the multiverse by having mortals complete various tasks, and some say that it is in these moments of obeisance to her that the Raven Queen recalls a fragment of her former self.

Vecna's Obsession

One evil mind is fixated on wresting away the Raven Queen's power: the archlich Vecna. Vecna has long coveted her ability over knowledge and souls; to steal souls would give him the ability to amass an army of the dead large enough to conquer the Shadowfell and turn it into his own kingdom of death. There he would rule from the Fortress of Memories, and through the Raven Queen's power have access to all the lost knowledge stored within the souls she has trapped over the millennia. But to this day, all his attempts to gain a foothold there have been thwarted.

Because of his obsession with usurping the Raven Queen, and claiming the Fortress of Memories, Vecna has embroiled himself in a terrible conflict, leading his armies into relentless battles against the Raven Queen and her shadar-kai fanatics and against the vampire lord Kas, Vecna's former lieutenant, whom Vecna wants to see destroyed over all other enemies. Some say this war is just another of the Raven Queen's beloved tragedies playing out for her amusement.

Servants of the Queen

The shadar-kai are bound to the Raven Queen, cursed to forever serve her in the Shadowfell. They dwell in places outside the Fortress of Memories, usually too terrified of the place to enter it willingly. In their communities they reenact their old rituals and ceremonies, in a pale imitation of the days when they dwelled in the life and light of their now-lost kingdom.

When shadar-kai are in the Shadowfell, their bodies and faces are old and withered, displaying the full effects of the terrible magic that stripped them of their former elven beauty. To hide their visages, they often wear masks made of metal or wood, but even these coverings are melancholic in appearance. When shadar-kai are sent away from the Shadowfell to do the Raven Queen's bidding, they take on youthful features similar to those of other elves, although their skin remains deathly pale.

Immortal Servants

The shadar-kai know that when they die, the Raven Queen captures their souls and returns them to the Shadowfell, where they are resurrected to serve her yet again. Thus, they consider death to be a temporary condition, and many shadar-kai care little for the physical shell they currently inhabit.

Shadar-kai know that those who come willingly to the Raven Queen's tower are there to beseech her for something, and thus they try to prepare such visitors for what they will face. The queen's servants talk to any inquiring adventurer about the gravity of emotion, how sorrow weighs on the soul as it travels through the Shadowfell, and how best to persevere in the Raven Queen's test.

Follow the Ravens

When the Raven Queen sees a soul or a piece of information she wants, she sends her ravens to alert the shadar-kai. Her minions then put their trust in these cryptic, cawing guides to lead them to where the barriers are weakest so they can then slip across planes to their destination. Once at their destination, the shadar-kai watch and wait, looking for the tragedies their queen wishes them to collect. Sometimes they are small: a spurned lover, a lost item, a betrayal. But some tragedies are much graver: a murder, a war, a diabolical bargain. To bring back a trinket for their queen, the shadar-kai use their shadow magic. If a target is living, they magically infiltrate the person's mind and excise the desired bits of emotion, or if the target is close to death, the shadar-kai capture the whole soul to bring back to the Raven Queen.

Sediment of Memory

Shadar-kai are very interested in the magical silt at the bottom of the River Styx that holds the memories and identities of lost souls. Any adventurers who travel to the Nine Hells to procure a vial of this powder will likely draw the attention of the shadar-kai, who will attempt to steal or barter for it. Adventurers might also bring a bit of the sediment as a gift to the Raven Queen. What she would give in return is never known ahead of time, but her boons come in many wondrous forms: the restoration of a lost soul, the rediscovery of a missing memory, or a glimpse into the forgotten knowledge of the ancients.

Elf Subraces

At the DM's discretion, you have access to more subraces for elf characters, in addition to the subraces in the {@i Player's Handbook.} When you choose the subrace of your elf, you can choose one of the following options: eladrin, sea elf, or shadar-kai.

Elf Random Height and Weight

unknown table

SubraceBase HeightBase WeightHeight ModifierWeight Modifier
Eladrin4'6"90 lb.+2d12×(1d4) lb.
Sea elf4'6"90 lb.+2d8×(1d4) lb.
Shadar-kai4'8"90 lb.+2d8×(1d4) lb.

Height = Base Height + Height Modifier (in inches)

Weight = Base Weight + Height Modifier (in pounds) × Weight Modifier

Elf Tables

This section provides tables for players and DMs who want to choose or randomly generate details about elves

Elven Trinkets

Elven Trinkets
1A small notebook that causes anything written in it to disappear after 1 hour
2A crystal lens made of ivory and gold that causes anything observed through it to appear to be surrounded by motes of multicolored light
3A small golden pyramid inscribed with elven symbols and about the size of a walnut
4A cloak pin made from enamel in the shape of a butterfly
5A golden compass that points toward the nearest portal to the Feywild within 10 miles
6A small silver spinning top that, when spun, endlessly spins until interrupted
7A small songbird made of enamel, gold wire, and precious stone
8A small enamel flower that, when put in one's hair, animates, tying back the wearer's hair with a living vine with flowers

Elf (Non-drow) Adventurer Story Hooks

Elf (Non-drow) Adventurer Story Hooks
1You believe the key to reuniting the elves with Corellon lies somewhere in the wider world, not within elven society, and you're determined to find it.
2Your sibling was killed by a rampaging monster. You won't rest until you track it down and slay it.
3A raven brought you a cryptic message from an old friend who needs your help, but the message was vague about the friend's location. You're trying to follow a years-old trail and save your friend.
4A beautiful elf won your heart, then broke it. If you earn enough gold and glory by adventuring, perhaps you can win back your love.
5Your father thought you too weak to survive as an adventurer, but he's wrong, and you'll prove it.
6Only those who perform great deeds are remembered long after their death. Bards will honor your exploits for generations to come.
7You're secretly in love with one of the other members of your adventuring group, and you can't bear the thought of any harm befalling that person.
8When you were born, your grandmother prophesied you would one day rule a human kingdom. You've gone in search of that destiny.

Drow Adventurer Story Hooks

Drow Adventurer Story Hooks
1You overheard members of your own house plotting to poison you, so you fled from the Underdark to save yourself. You won't return until you've amassed enough fortune to surround yourself with loyal mercenary bodyguards.
2You were enslaved as punishment for trying to poison an influential rival, but you escaped and fled to the surface. If you return to the Underdark and are captured, you'll be re-enslaved.
3You were the lover of a high-ranking priestess of Lolth as a means of enhancing your status. When she tired of you, the loss of status was humiliating, so you left.
4You killed a drow from a more powerful house in a duel over a public insult. The slain drow's house vowed to destroy your house unless you were handed over. Your kin urged you to leave the Underdark. You wonder what became of them.
5A close friend of yours was revealed to be a worshiper of Eilistraee. Suspicion fell on everyone in her circle. Running was a tacit admission of guilt, even though you knew nothing about it, but you'd have been sacrificed to Lolth if you stayed.
6You were among a group of surface raiders that was ambushed, and you were captured. During years of captivity, you learned that most of what Lolth's priestesses taught about the outer world was lies. Now you're experiencing the truth for yourself.
7All your life, you were alienated and terrified by the cruelty of your kin. The first chance you got, you volunteered to go on a surface raid, then deserted the group and remained behind. Now you're hated and feared wherever you go, but at least you've found a small group of adventurous friends who trust and support each other.
8You were part of a delegation carrying diplomatic messages to another drow city when duergar attacked the caravan for slaves and treasure. Only you and one other guard escaped. If you'd returned home, you'd have been poisoned or worse for failure. Becoming a mercenary was your best option.

Drow House Specialty

Drow House Specialty
1Adamantine weapons
3Giant spiders subject to magical control
4Hallucinogenic substances
5High-status slaves and sacrificial victims
6Items taken from surface world in raids
7Low-cost, humanoid slaves
8Maps of the Underdark
10Reptilian beasts of burden

Dwarves and Duergar

To impartial observers, the tale of the ancient war between dwarves and duergar is at its heart a tragedy, the story of a people turned against each other by bitterness and resentment. Once the dwarves were unified in their worship of Moradin, the deity who crafted the first dwarves from metal and fire. Today, the race is splintered into those who still embrace him as their father and creator-and those who have sworn to topple him from his divine throne.

While the dwarves loyal to Moradin take joy in the art of crafting and form strong family bonds, the duergar are joyless, hateful creatures who create their works out of an urge to build and acquire. They come closest to feeling true joy when they raid dwarven strongholds to satisfy their lust for blood and treasure.

The Deep Roots of War

The conflict began in ages past, when the world was new. Almost all the dwarves were more than content to make their homes inside the mountains and hills that were filled with ore and other valuables, not digging too far beneath the surface. The dwarves of clan Duergar, however, became obsessed with delving deep into the Underdark. The clan's miners continually insisted that a great trove of gold and iron lay just beyond where the clan had explored. The next strike of a pick, they said, could reveal wealth beyond imagining.

This obsession took root and spread throughout the clan. Soon, all other activity in the community ceased; the forges grew cold, and the temples to Moradin stood empty. Every dwarf old enough to hold a pick or shovel worked the mines.

The dwarves relentlessly dug, hacked, and tunneled. The weakest among them fell dead from exhaustion, the rest pausing only long enough to push the corpses aside so they could continue the digging.

Only the hardiest and most iron-willed individuals of the clan survived this brutal campaign. When their delving finally broke through into a cavern, the dwarves found the cause of their obsession. A great elder brain and its mind flayers waited there, ready to take the next step in the subjugation of clan Duergar. The monsters had sent out a psychic lure that played on the dwarves' greed, and the never-ending work schedule that was the product of their obsession weeded out all but the best specimens for their slave pens. The illithids had no trouble overwhelming the remaining dwarves with their psionic power and soon put them to work.

The dwarves proved to be able slaves, but the elder brain saw within them another kind of usefulness. The dwarves' innate ability to resist the effects of harmful substances such as poison made them suitable subjects for a variety of grisly experiments. Generations of psychic surgery and physical alterations mutated the captives into creatures that had special powers of their own.

In time, a leader arose among the enslaved dwarves. Named Laduguer, he struck a deal with Asmodeus, pledging the assistance of clan Duergar against Lolth's ambitions in the Underdark. With the help of the Lord of the Nine, the dwarves overthrew their illithid masters in a great uprising. At last, Laduguer could bring his clan upward to rejoin the world they had left behind.

Triumph Turned Sour

When Laduguer and his people returned to the dwarves of the upper world, they were shocked by the hostility they faced. As Laduguer quickly learned, the priests of Moradin had long ago labeled the lost clan as heretics, spoken of now only as an object lesson concerning the fate of dwarves who stray from Moradin's teachings.

When Laduguer protested this treatment, the priests insisted that Moradin had sent omens and warnings to the lost dwarves, but they went unheeded. Envoys from the other clans had found clan Duergar's stronghold abandoned, with no evidence of invasion, plague, or other calamity. Even worse, the temples of Moradin had been left untended. Only laziness, greed, and contempt for the All-Father could account for the clan's fate.

Laduguer, in response, tried to explain that his people had been lured into a trap by the mind flayers, but his assertions fell on deaf ears. Thus, with no other apparent choice, the lost clan fled back to the Underdark. Laduguer focused his fury on Moradin. The dwarves' supposed father had turned a blind eye as they fell into the mind flayers' trap, then sat idle as the clan suffered unspeakable abuses. Laduguer and his followers swore that they wouldn't rest until the father of the dwarves lay dead and Laduguer sat upon his throne.

Of course, by declaring his intent to destroy Moradin, Laduguer created a state of war between the duergar and the other dwarves in the world. Since that time, the duergar have not eased up on their hostility, and the dwarves have not relaxed their vigilance.

Conflict without End

Few others aside from the dwarves and the duergar understand or appreciate the true scope and intensity of the battles between these two races. Viewed on a grand scale, the conflict is a great war of attrition-the combatants don't often gain or lose territory as the result of battle. But on a personal scale, combat is brutal, with no quarter given or expected.

The duergar fight a persistent guerrilla war of sudden raids and brutal attacks against isolated groups of dwarves. Duergar often begin an attack by burrowing into a dwarf settlement from below, then bursting out in a vicious assault that leaves few survivors. If robbery rather than murder is the goal, a duergar war party might surreptitiously dig for weeks to penetrate a dwarf treasure vault, hoping to seize a clan's riches from beneath its noses.

For their part, the dwarves keep safety and defense uppermost in their priorities, realizing that there is little to be gained from trying to mount a large-scale assault against the duergar. They actively protect their strongholds, keeping careful watch for signs of tunneling, and—dwarven pride being what it is-send bands of warriors out from time to time to deal reprisals to duergar camps and fortresses. In addition to these rare offensive thrusts, dwarves sometimes send small squads of explorers or scouts into the Underdark to learn about duergar activity or to recover stolen treasures if they can do so without attracting too much attention.

This eternal enmity between duergar and dwarves doesn't consume either side; both have other concerns and needs that take much of their time and attention, At the same time, the never-ending state of war is never out of mind-every dwarf knows that a chance encounter with a duergar could be fatal, and every duergar would like nothing better than to have such an opportunity.


The dwarf god Moradin forged the first dwarves in his great workshop, causing them to spring to life from inert metal when he cooled the heated castings with his breath. Since then, the dwarves have revered Moradin and sought to follow in his footsteps. Through constant, steady work, they strive to emulate the perfect example set by the originator of the arts and skills the dwarves pursue.

To the dwarves, Moradin is the Creator. With his impeccable skills, he crafted the first dwarves and imbued them with a sense of relentless purpose, driven to apply their own crafting skills to the raw materials around them and thereby unlock the beauty that hides within.

Moradin is also worshiped as the All-Father, in acknowledgment of his role as the progenitor of the dwarven race. In this aspect as well, he is credited not only for the birth of the dwarves but for fostering in them a deep appreciation for clan and family. He demonstrates how dwarf parents should raise their children, instilling in them the urge to further not only themselves but to contribute to the success of the larger group. Just as Moradin looks out for all dwarves, all dwarves in a clan look out for one another.

The Path to Perfection

Dwarves have a strong sense of their progress, and each day that goes by must bring them closer to the standard set by Moradin. Acutely aware of their mortality, they see the many centuries afforded to them as too short a time to risk wasting even a single day in indolence.

Moradin crafted the dwarves' sturdy bodies, giving them the strength to work for long periods of time. Rather than imparting his skills to them, he fueled their spirits with a burning desire to follow his example. His gifts of durability and purpose gave the dwarves all they needed to devote their lives to steady work, refining their skills and improving their inner selves while they transform rock and ore into wondrous creations.

Lifetimes of Glorious Labor

Dwarf artisans regard the fruits of their labors with the same love that members of other races reserve for their children. A dwarf's works are built to last for centuries, to carry a legacy into the world long after the dwarf is gone. Each item a dwarf crafts is a milepost on the path to perfection, a step taken toward mastering a technique. All of one's works taken together are the physical representation of a dwarf's accomplishments. A dwarf who has lived a good, fruitful life leaves behind a rich legacy of wondrous goods-gleaming metal goblets, gem-encrusted stone sculptures, tapestries made of ores and minerals, finely honed weapons, or the end result of any other endeavor that enriches the crafter while it pays homage to the Creator.

Dwarves guard their personal creations with the vigilance and ferocity of a dragon protecting a treasure hoard. Such protectiveness isn't often called for in the company of friends and family-but just as a parent doesn't leave a child unattended, a dwarf doesn't craft an item and then knowingly leave it vulnerable to being stolen (or worse). A dwarf who loses an item to thievery pursues the item's recovery or seeks vengeance against the thieves with the same fury that parents direct against those who kidnapped their child.

At the other extreme, a dwarf's gift of a personal item to someone else is a deep expression of commitment, love, and trust. The beneficiary of the gift is expected to provide the item with the same careful stewardship exhibited by its creator-never letting it fall into an enemy's hands and sparing no effort to recover it if is stolen.

Minds as Rigid as Stone

Although the dwarves' obsessive pursuit of perfection in the arts of crafting leads them to produce great works, it comes at a price. Dwarves value stability, repetition, and tradition above all else. Chaos and change cause distractions from the task at hand. Dwarves crave predictability, routine, and safety. A mind not fully focused can't give a task its proper attention.

This rigidity in outlook, though a fundamental part of the dwarven psyche, can sometimes be a disadvantage. Dwarves don't change their minds easily, and once set on a course rarely alter their strategy. Their commitment to following a plan serves them well when they build a stone bridge designed to last for centuries, but the same inflexibility can bring problems when applied to the unpredictable dangers of the world. A clan might continue to depend on the same plan for defending its stronghold that has been used for centuries, without considering the possibility that its enemies have discovered how to overcome those defenses.

The dwarves' way of thinking leads to difficulties in their relationships with humans and elves. From their long-lived perspective, dwarves can't understand the speed with which human communities and civilizations rise and fall. If a trade delegation from a dwarven stronghold were to visit a human town once every twenty or thirty years-not a long time to a dwarf-the community's leaders would likely be different every time, and for the dwarves the experience would be akin to making first contact all over again. Establishing trade with this "new" human outpost would require forming new relationships, a process that could take weeks or months.

The elves' chaotic nature and love of the wilderness baffle the dwarves, who think of them as somewhat mad. Dwarves typically find elves too flighty to ever fully trust them, believing that creatures that thrive on change and chaos can't possibly be reliable allies.

In particular situations, of course, the benefits of cooperating with humans or elves can override the dwarves' concern about the shortcomings of those races. When dwarves, humans, and elves have a common enemy, they all find a way to work together for the common good.

All for One: The Clan

The clan is the basic unit of dwarven society, an extended family that dwells together. Everything a dwarf does in life is devoted to improving or helping the clan, bringing security and stability to its members and greater glory to the group.

The most important clan members to any dwarf are the members of one's immediate family, because the instinctive connection between parent and child is stronger than the attachment between unrelated clan members. Nevertheless, the distinction is so slim as to be unnoticeable to outsiders—dwarves will endure hardship or lay down their lives for any of their clan mates, whether related to them by blood or by the devotion that holds the clan together.

The Greatest Legacy

The life of a dwarf is all about doing good work and leaving behind a fitting legacy that continues to bolster the clan even after its creator has passed on-a legacy counted not only in objects, but also in dwarven souls. Dwarves who become parents rightfully think of their children as the greatest legacy they can leave the clan, and they raise them with the same care and attention to detail that they give to the items they create. A dwarf's direct descendants-beloved sons, daughters, and grandchildren-are often the ones who inherit the inanimate works their ancestor leaves behind.

Marriage is a sacred rite among the dwarves, taken very seriously because it requires two children to move away from their homes to start a new family in the clan. The affected families feel a sense of loss that is healed only when a new dwarf child enters the world-an event that calls for great celebration.

Few dwarves develop romantic feelings for their spouses, at least not in the way that other races do. They view their spouses as collaborators and co-creators, their elders as respected experts to be obeyed, and their children as their most treasured creations. The emotion that underlies all those feelings might not be love, as others would term it, but it is just as intense.

Roles in the Clan

Every clan calls upon its members to fill three principal roles, each of which contributes to the group's welfare.

First, many dwarves support the clan by working at an occupation that sustains the community-brewing ale, tending crops, and preparing food, for instance. Not everyone can be a master artisan or a vigilant warrior; the clan needs a wide range of labor and talents to meet all the needs of the group.

Filling the second role are an equally large number of dwarves whose occupations involve the crafting of items and other forms of creation-smelting, smithing, gem-cutting, sculpture, and similar tasks. These artisans are responsible for making the items that help the clan protect its stronghold.

The third function is performed by those who navigate the space between the clan and the chaotic creatures of the outside world. These dwarves are merchants, warriors, and envoys, tasked with representing the dwarves in dealings with other races and with providing a buffer between the clan and the potential threats of creatures and communities in the vicinity of the stronghold.

A dwarf assigned to a role takes years to master it. A weaponsmith starts work in the forge, providing manual labor to haul ore from the mines and learning how to repair tools. The dwarf might then work in the mines, pushing carts and learning to pick out the best ore samples from a lode. Slowly but surely, a dwarf masters every aspect of a task or an occupation from start to finish.

Leadership and Government

A clan is led by a king or a queen who sits at the head of a noble family. Dwarf nobles are members of families that claim direct ancestry to the first dwarves crafted by Moradin. To the dwarves, leadership is a craft like any other activity, calling for careful practice and constant attention to detail in order to yield the best, most satisfying results.

Young nobles apprentice for a time with masters of every profession in the clan. This period of work and education has two important results. First, the apprenticeships expose a young noble to each part of the clan's operation and create personal ties between the apprentice and every group in the clan's society. By the time a noble takes on a leadership role, the noble has a clear overview of all the clan's interrelationships and has formed friendships with people from every spot on the spectrum of roles within the clan.

More important, a young noble's conduct while pursuing a variety of tasks gives the elder nobles a chance to assess the youth's character. Ideally, a noble who ascends to the leadership of a clan demonstrates an even temperament and an affinity for the clan's key functions. A noble who particularly enjoys fighting might become a minister of war or a general, while one who loves smithing might become an overseer of the crafters' work.

One for All: The Stronghold

Every dwarf clan maintains a stronghold, typically a series of chambers dug out beneath a mountain or inside a hill. The stronghold is a haven from the chaos of the outside world, allowing the dwarves to toil in peace. The first concern of any stronghold is defense, but older and prosperous strongholds can grow to become wondrous underground cities filled with generations of exquisite dwarven artisanship.

Regardless of a clan's size and status, its stronghold is a stony personification of the clan itself-what's good for the clan is good for the stronghold, and vice versa. If a stronghold fails from within, or falls victim to outside forces, such an event is often the clan's death knell.

A Living Monument

The masons and stone carvers in a clan consider the stronghold to be their greatest work. In a typical stronghold, stone bridges arc over chasms, their surfaces embellished with fine carvings and intricate patterns. The great stone doors leading outside can withstand a battering ram when secured, but glide open at the touch of a child when they are unlocked. While some other races erect statues or build special structures to honor their heroes or commemorate momentous events, the dwarves live and work within their greatest memorial.

A clan's stronghold holds the record of its history and accomplishments. A work that an outsider regards as "merely" intricate stone carving might actually be a carefully composed recounting of deeds, events, and important persons. Dwarves combine their runes into patterns, present pictorial histories in seemingly unconnected murals and images, and otherwise leave their clan's legacy of accomplishments hiding in plain sight. The story of the clan is meant to be appreciated by clan members and fellow dwarves, not the few outsiders who might be allowed inside the stronghold.

Island of Stability

A well-built stronghold is an easily managed, tranquil environment where dwarves focus on rearing their families and pursuing their craft. Since the beginnings of their existence, dwarves have carved out their strongholds underground for a variety of reasons. Their unmatched prowess in mining and stonework makes them ideal candidates to use the subterranean realm for living quarters-and considering their outlook on the rest of the world, the dwarves wouldn't have it any other way.

The stronghold's remoteness isolates the dwarves from the vagaries of politics and other forms of turmoil in the surface world. Underground, they don't have to contend with the changing of the seasons, or even daily variations in the weather, so that one day inside a stronghold is much like any other day. The activities of the clan are governed by a firm schedule that provides every member with daily time for work, family, and personal enrichment. The forges are never allowed to go cold, and the mines around the stronghold are worked every hour of every day.

Beautiful on the Inside

Dwarves are acutely aware that their reputation as skilled miners and crafters of beautiful works of art makes any stronghold a prime target for thieves and raiders. For that reason, the entrance to a stronghold doesn't broadcast its presence by being a stellar example of dwarven stonework. The outer precincts of a clan's home are plain and functional, decorated minimally or not at all, to give visitors and those passing nearby no reason to suspect what lies in the deeper chambers. From what they see, a dwarven stronghold is well built but austere.

The greatest treasures crafted by a clan are sequestered in the innermost chambers of the stronghold, behind secret doors in areas that are open to clan members but forbidden to all outsiders. Even dwarves from other clans are granted access to such a place only after earning the trust of their hosts.

These inner precincts hold the stuff of a thief's wildest dreams. In one chamber, gold foil lines the ceiling of an immense hall, carefully worked with diamonds that mimic the stars at night. In another, jewels are used to form wondrous murals that tell of the clan's greatest deeds. A clan's feasting hall might be stocked with utensils and place settings made of silver and gold.

Defense Comes First

Every dwarf knows instinctively that clan and stronghold are inextricably tied together-if one comes undone, the other fails as well. As such, defending the stronghold is a concern that the dwarves address even in the earliest stages of construction. They plan and then build with the goals of safety and security uppermost in mind. And the only way that a home can be truly safe and secure is if it is protected against intruders.

Dwarves use a variety of approaches and devices in setting their defenses. The strongholds of many clans are honeycombed with secret passages designed to enable the dwarves to ambush and flank enemies. Dwarves also make liberal use of secret doors fashioned by dwarf artisans, slabs of stone that fit so precisely in their openings that no one but a dwarf knows how to locate and open one.

Unlike some other races that guard their territory by creating features that actively deter invaders, dwarves rarely use arrow traps, pit traps, and other such measures that could cause harm to clan members. They see little sense in risking injury if a trap of that sort malfunctioned or was accidentally triggered by a dwarf. A defensive measure isn't doing its job if it ends up hurting those it was meant to protect.

Dwarves of the Multiverse

Like any race, dwarves display a wide array of skin tones, hair colors, and other physical traits. Adding to this diversity, they have a variety of cultural identities from world to world across the multiverse.

Dwarves of Greyhawk

The hill dwarves and mountain dwarves of war-wracked Oerth have endured many centuries of turbulence. Their outlook on the world is shaped largely by how they perceive outsiders and how much of a threat those outsiders might pose.

Hill Dwarves

Most of the dwarves on Oerth are hill dwarves. Compared to the mountain dwarves, they have a relaxed and open attitude toward the outside world. Because they dwell in regions that lack the towering peaks that their mountain kin favor, they build stone fortresses that start above ground and end in chambers that tunnel deep beneath the surface. A typical clan's settlement features stout walls and a sturdy gate, inside which are living quarters, community areas, and a well-protected treasure vault.

Hill dwarves are more perceptive and empathic than their kin. They rely on their intuition and insight to guide them in relationships with other races. To offset the disadvantage of not being protected by mountains, they frequently form defensive pacts with humans, gnomes, and elves that live nearby.

Although the best artisans are revered for their skills, just as in any dwarf clan, hill dwarves put special emphasis on diplomacy and trade as key elements in the clan's survival. They appreciate the value of creating high-quality goods to trade with others, both to enrich the clan and to form bonds with neighbors.

Mountain Dwarves

As tough and strong as the natural stoneworks they dwell among, mountain dwarves see themselves as the true progenitors of their race and the exemplars of their gods' traditions and teachings.

Mountain dwarves maintain a strong martial tradition. They know that the great wealth they accumulate in their vaults makes them prime targets for raiders. As a result, all the adults in a typical mountain dwarf clan are trained in the use of armor and weapons.

Miners are among the most revered members of a clan, since the tunnels and shafts they dig in search of ore are considered works of art in themselves-as much a part of a clan's legacy as any treasure chamber heaped with gold and gems.

The mountain dwarves' militancy and the need to protect their mines leads them into frequent clashes with Underdark monsters. Creatures or raiding parties that enter the mines from below invite retributive raids by dwarf war parties. The dwarves will mount an ambitious assault to reclaim even a single miner captured by attackers. Even the cruel drow are reluctant to raid mountain dwarf settlements, since they know a single attack will ignite the flames of war.

Hill dwarves view their mountain cousins as overly grim shut-ins who refuse to believe that life is anything but a constant battle for survival. Mountain dwarves view their hill-dwelling relatives as painfully naive optimists who risk losing their precious works because of their overexposure to the outside world.

Dwarves of the Forgotten Realms

In an age long since passed into myth, the dwarves of Toril were one people dwelling in the mountains where three continents-Faerûn, Kara-Tur, and Zakhara-met. A gradual diaspora over millennia spread them across the world, giving rise to diverse types of dwarves. In Faerûn, the two most numerous subraces are gold dwarves and shield dwarves.

The dwarves of Faerûn traveled north from the southern mountains and founded an extensive subterranean empire called Bhaerynden, which lay beneath a hot savannah now known as the Shaar. A rift in the leadership of the dwarves caused a schism among their people. One group left Bhaerynden and built new kingdoms in the North and the Heartlands, becoming the shield dwarves. Those who remained became the gold dwarves.

Gold dwarf scholars point to Abbathor as the cause of this division, claiming that the deity's influence weakened Bhaerynden and left it vulnerable to the dark elves that threatened its borders. That claim might well be true, but shield dwarf scholars point out that those who abandoned Bhaerynden did so two millennia before the drow conquered the place. They put the blame for its fall on the complacency that drove their ancestors to leave. "Gold dwarves endure. Shield dwarves adapt." That is a truism that both subraces of dwarves repeat with pride and derision, each extolling the qualities of their own kind.

Gold Dwarves

The conquest of Bhaerynden by the drow spurred its survivors to create many separate outposts in southern lands. During the same period, the dark elves fell victim to infighting, which culminated in the collapse of the great cavern. Emboldened by this development, armies of gold dwarves returned to drive the drow from the region. At the site that would come to be known as the Great Rift, they shaped the underground canyons and passages to their needs, and from there they tunneled under the Shaar for miles around, carving a new empire from stone.

Gold dwarves consider themselves the true keepers of dwarf culture. More so than shield dwarves, they prefer to dwell underground. Many gold dwarves live their lives without seeing the sun. Surrounded by the artistry and wealth that earlier generations have drawn from the earth, they are accustomed to flaunting their fortune, dressing in bejeweled and glittering garments. Gold dwarves who interact with other races (including shield dwarves) tend to be suspicious, taciturn, and secretive, and especially distrustful of anyone who doesn't show outward signs of wealth.

Shield Dwarves

The ambition to seek new horizons that led the first dwarves to leave Bhaerynden still runs strong in shield dwarves today. Over thousands of years, many kingdoms of shield dwarves have risen, often at the whim of one enterprising individual who decided to found a new clan. So too have many kingdoms of shield dwarves fallen and been forgotten, leaving behind wondrous landmarks and mysterious dungeons.

Shield dwarves who occupy a stronghold can be as clannish and insular as gold dwarves, but shield dwarves are far more likely than gold dwarves to dwell in surface communities, forming trade relationships and alliances with neighboring nations. The openness of the shield dwarves as a people manifests on a personal level as well, with individuals being far more likely to travel among and make friends with other races.

Dwarves of Dragonlance

Most dwarves on the world of Krynn trace their ancestry to a single great empire known as Kal-Thax. They have long been split into several clans based on traditional roles that were established in Kal-Thax and its successor settlements. Yet, as with much on Krynn, the fate of the dwarves has been shaped by the Cataclysm.

Before the Cataclysm, the dwarves that dwelt on the surface, called the Neidar, interacted with other races and provided foodstuffs and goods for their subterranean cousins that couldn't be acquired underground. The great city of Thorbardin was the most prominent of the dwarves' underground settlements, where several clans lived and worked together.

But when the anger of the gods struck the world, mountains fell and seas rose. Although many settlements of dwarves were wiped out, Thorbardin survived. When the famine and plagues caused by the Cataclysm swept the world, the Neidar and their human allies sought succor from Thorbardin, which the Neidar knew held stores of food that could last generations. But the king wouldn't let any citizen of Thorbardin suffer to ease the anguish of the supplicants at its gates.

The result of that refusal was the Dwarfgate Wars, a series of sieges and battles that ended when a magical explosion and conflagration consumed both armies on the battlefield. Thorbardin's gates remained shut, and the hatred between the Neidar and the other clans has festered for centuries. Although some families among the Neidar eventually founded new communities, many of the surface dwellers drifted apart to take up life with humans or as lone traders and crafters.

Meanwhile, within Thorbardin, disagreements over the treatment of the Neidar, the loss of Thorbardin's army in the war, the distribution of supplies, and other disputes drove the clans farther apart. The Hylar are Thorbardin's best engineers and crafters, and that clan continues to rule despite its increasingly autocratic policies. Although the subservient clans continue to perform their traditional roles in the hierarchy, they have largely segregated themselves into separate districts within Thorbardin. The ambitious and vicious Theiwar clan maintains its influence through the use of mysterious magic. The Daergar grudgingly work as Thorbardin's miners when they aren't taking out their aggression on each other or antagonizing other clans. The Daewar long ago submitted to the rule of the Hylar and have the privilege of being Thorbardin's merchants and builders. Driven mad by their love of quicksilver, the wild Klar serve as Thorbardin's scouts and fiercest warriors.

Gully Dwarves

The Aghar clan is an anomaly among the dwarves of Krynn, having retained a foothold both in out-the-way locations inside Thorbardin and on the surface. Referred to by others as gully dwarves, the Aghar are derided as stupid, smelly, and dirty. Most dwarves consider them a form of vermin, unsuitable even as servants. The Aghar in Thorbardin have carved out living space for themselves from the massive piles of tailings left over from the excavations of the Daergar. They have no role in sustaining the city.

Dwarven Religion

The religion of the dwarves is at the root of the societal roles that dwarves follow. Where most other creatures view their deities as ultrapowerful beings who stand forever apart from their worshipers, the dwarves see their gods as exemplars who blaze a path for their lives to follow. Dwarven deities exist in a wide variety, with a few common across many worlds. They are collectively known as the Mordinsamman.

Moradin is foremost among the dwarven pantheon, the epitome of everything dwarves strive to be. The rest of the group consists of those first dwarves who performed their labors so well that they could almost duplicate Moradin's level of skill.

The Dwarf Deities table lists the members of the Mordinsamman. For each god, the table notes alignment, province (the god's main areas of interest and responsibility), suggested domains for clerics who serve the god, and a common symbol of the god. Several of the gods in the table are described below.

Dwarf Deities (The Mordinsamman)

Dwarf Deities (The Mordinsamman)
DeityAlignmentProvinceSuggested DomainsCommon Symbol
AbbathorNEGreedTrickeryJeweled dagger, point down
Berronar TruesilverLGHearth, home, truthLife, LightIntertwined silver rings
Clangeddin SilverbeardLGWar, strategyWarCrossed silver battleaxes
Dugmaren BrightmantleCGDiscoveryKnowledgeOpen book
DumathoinNBuried secretsGrave,* KnowledgeGemstone in a mountain
Gorm GulthynLGVigilanceWarBronze half-mask
Haela BrightaxeCGCombat prowess, luck in battleWarUpright sword with blade sheathed in flame
HanseathCNFestivity, brewing, songTrickery, WarBeer stein
Marthammor DuinNGExplorers, wanderers, the lostNature, TrickeryUpright mace in front of a tall boot
MoradinLGPrimary deity of dwarvesForge,* KnowledgeHammer and anvil
Muamman DuathalNGStorms, travelTempestMace held in gauntlets
MyaNGClan, family, wisdomKnowledge, LifeA faceless mother figure
RoknarNELies, intrigueTrickeryHands filled with coins
SharindlarCGHealing, loveLifeBurning needle
Thard HarrCGWilderness, huntingNatureTwo clawed gauntlets
TharmekhûlNFire, forges, molten rockForge,* LightFiery axe
ThautamNMysteries, darkness, lost treasuresKnowledge, TrickeryBlindfold
UlaaLGMining, quarryingForge*A miner's pick
ValkaunaLNOaths, birth, aging, deathGrave,* LifeA silver ewer
VergadainNLuck, wealthTrickeryGold coin bearing a dwarf's face


The father of the dwarves crafted his children from metal and gems and imbued them with souls as he cooled them with his breath.

Moradin is the master of every craft practiced by the dwarves and the patron of artisans. He expects his children to follow in his footsteps, studying his techniques and aspiring to one day match his expertise.

Priests of Moradin are responsible for judging and assessing the work of a stronghold's artisans. They keep great volumes that describe various crafting techniques in detail, and use the guidelines in them to judge the quality of individual works.

The priests also evaluate young dwarves to determine the youths' vocations. The decisions of the priests are accepted without question.


The Great Master of Greed exerts an influence, no matter how subtle, over every dwarven heart. Abbathor teaches that greed isn't only desirable, but necessary to keep the dwarves in a strong and safe position.

Abbathor has no skill in crafting. Instead, he relies on his ability as a thief to take ownership of what he wants. Why work so hard to manufacture something when a much easier path to riches lies open?

Abbathor is the only advocate for change within the dwarven pantheon. He can inspire dwarves to seek shortcuts, normally frowned upon, but sometimes those methods turn out to be efficient techniques that improve a clan's capabilities.

Berronar Truesilver

The Matron of Home and Hearth is the patron of family, honor, and law. She lays out the rules for managing a dwarf clan.

Berronar's code establishes the laws of the dwarves, including contracts, trade agreements, and every other kind of bond forged through words and deeds. As Moradin provides the example that dwarves strive to match, Berronar provides the bonds that create dwarven society and culture.

Berronar's priests arrange marriages, using a process that finds the best matches and is designed to ensure that each generation of a clan is stronger and more talented than the last. Their dictates in this respect are sacrosanct, and a dwarf designated for an arranged marriage must obey the priests or risk exile.

Clangeddin Silverbeard

Known as the Father of Battle, Clangeddin Silverbeard is the patron of dwarf warriors. Impetuous and brave yet a cunning strategist, Clangeddin embodies the warrior's spirit that makes dwarven armies such formidable foes.

Clangeddin encourages dwarf warriors to venture out of the stronghold in search of foes to defeat. He particularly hates goblinoids, giants, and dragons. He compels his followers to seek out and dispatch such enemies before they can become a threat to the stronghold.

Clangeddin's faithful are mainly full-time warriors assigned to weapon training from an early age and expected to take the fight to the enemy. The two axes he wields embody his attitude, since he forsakes the added protection of a shield for the chance to deal more damage to his enemies.

Clangeddin's priests are warriors who lead from the front. When defending a stronghold, they guard the walls and lead sorties against enemy positions. When an external threat is near, the priests plan guerrilla raids to disrupt invaders before they can besiege the stronghold.

Other Deities

The dwarven pantheon is quite large. The four deities discussed above are acknowledged by occupants of almost every stronghold, while the following gods are worshiped by some clans and ignored by others. These deities include Dugmaren Brightmantle, the Gleam in the Eye; Dumathoin, the Keeper of Secrets under the Mountain; Gorm Gulthyn, the Golden Guardian; Haela Brightaxe, the Lady of the Fray; Marthammor Duin, Watcher over Wanderers; Sharindlar, Lady of Mercy; and Vergadain, the Merchant King.

The Dual Role of Abbathor

Dwarves have rigid principles and lofty ambitions. They devote their lives to the pursuit of perfection, and the best come close to realizing that goal. But for all their dedication, dwarves are mortal, which means they are fallible. And that's where Abbathor comes in.

The dwarves' attachment to their creations has a dark side: many of them fall victim to feelings of selfishness and greed. The culprit is Abbathor, the black sheep of the dwarven pantheon. Abbathor is an advocate of change, not stability-an attitude normally regarded with suspicion by dwarves. But in this case, the god delivers his message inside the embrace of avarice.

Greed is at the heart of change. Greedy individuals aren't content with their own accomplishments and seek to undermine the works that others have made, sometimes going so far as to take credit for their creation, or actually steal them. Greed distorts the joy that dwarves normally take from their work. It focuses on the value of the end result, rather than the importance of the process of creation. A dwarf tempted by Abbathor might sabotage a rival's work or uncover a wondrous treasure and pass it off as something they created.

Abbathor does, however, play a positive role in helping the dwarves discover new methods and techniques. Although he espouses greed and treachery, he is also the standard bearer for revision and innovation. His guidance is especially critical when a clan faces an unanticipated situation that requires quick, decisive action.

In that vein, dwarf emissaries and merchants are expected to use Abbathor's tricks when they deal with humans, elves, and other races. When a dwarf offers a piece of merchandise for sale to an outsider, that merchant is expected to drive a hard bargain, even if the item is in truth an inferior example of its kind.

Fortunately for the other party in the arrangement, the dwarves' idea of "inferior" means that a product they consider substandard is still far superior to any such item that outsiders might create. The dwarves might laugh among themselves at a human farmer who bought a shovel from them that will last only a few decades. To the dwarves, that's a shoddy tool; to the farmer, it's a purchase that lasts a lifetime.

Enemies All Around

If the dwarves weren't so good at accumulating treasure, it's likely that they wouldn't have as many enemies. As things stand, however, almost every variety of marauding humanoid or greedy monster lusts after the riches that dwarves keep in their strongholds. The biggest threats to their security are dragons and giants, but other humanoids such as orcs and the hated duergar are their most numerous foes.


Chromatic dragons, by their nature, are often attracted to the treasures that dwarves gather in their fortresses. Although such a place might be too stout for a dragon to assault and take over, an evil dragon that makes its lair near a dwarven stronghold can be a threat to the occupants in many ways.

Black Dragons

Since black dragons prefer to dwell in swampland, one rarely makes a lair close to a stronghold. When a black dragon does cross paths with dwarves, it might attempt to isolate a settlement by making the roads leading to it impassable. The terrain around the dragon's lair is transformed into a riot of vegetation and patches of mud, slowing travelers and making caravans vulnerable to attack by the dragon's followers. When a stronghold becomes cut off, the dragon might start to test its outer defenses in advance of mounting a larger assault. This strategy can take years to come to fruition, but from the dragon's perspective it is time well spent.

Blue Dragons

Blue dragons are the least likely of their kind to tangle with dwarves, since their lairs are always far from where dwarves typically settle, and a blue dragon almost never gives away the location of its lair. One might appear before a band of dwarves traveling through the area and demand a toll for safe passage through its territory, expecting payment in the form of gems-and particularly sapphires.

Green Dragons

Dwarves and green dragons don't often interact, and when they do, the dragon doesn't usually threaten them directly. A typical green dragon has no burning desire to possess the material goods in a stronghold's hoard, and would much rather snatch up living treasure. Using its powers of deception, a green dragon might try to entice dwarves it encounters to ally with it in return for the promise of great wealth. Dwarves who have been touched by Abbathor might succumb to this temptation-only to find themselves imprisoned in the dragon's lair, sentenced to a lifetime of crafting new items for the dragon's treasure collection.

Red Dragons

Even though dwarves and red dragons compete for the same terrain, they don't come into conflict as often as they once did. Nowadays, red dragon lairs and dwarven strongholds are far enough apart that the dwarves don't have to worry constantly about being attacked. But occasionally, a young red dragon sets out to establish its own legacy-and what better place for a lair than one that comes with its own treasure hoard?

To begin its campaign, the dragon sends out followers and minions to lay siege to the stronghold. If this effort succeeds and the defenders withdraw deeper inside, the dragon comes forth to lead the assault into the tunnels. In those cramped quarters, only a few dwarves at a time can be brought to bear against the dragon's teeth, claws, and fiery breath. But the dwarves know that if they allow the dragon access to the fortress's innermost chambers, the fight is all but over.

White Dragons

Dwarves who live in cold climates don't usually have to cope with as many predators and marauders as do their kin in more hospitable terrain. But a white dragon patrols its territory relentlessly, neither subtle nor shrewd in its methods, often using natural camouflage to ambush its prey. A dragon that lairs nearby might be willing to leave a dwarven settlement unmolested if its appetite is sated by creatures it can catch in the open, including the travelers that enter and exit the place.

On occasion, this state of (relatively) peaceful coexistence is shattered when a devious rival dragon with designs on a white dragon's territory enters the picture. Taking advantage of the dragon's limited mental faculties, the rival secretly sends its minions out to harass the dragon. Convinced that the dwarves must be to blame, the dragon engages them in a wider conflict, and the dwarves respond in kind. Even if neither side destroys the other, both will be severely weakened, after which the rival moves in to finish the job.

Dwarves and Ale

Dwarves have a reputation for being able to consume great quantities of ale. Although drinking plays a significant role in their culture, it is a mistake to assume that intoxication has the same effect on them as it does on humans.

Humans drink to forget, while dwarves drink to remember. A dwarf deep in his cups is overcome by powerful, vivid memories of his past, especially events tied to lost kin, great deeds, or monumental failures.

When dwarves drink in a group, this effect spreads among them. The clan might joyfully sing of triumph as they reminisce over the defeat of a dragon, or weep as they recall the death of a beloved elder.

In contrast to clan gatherings, dwarves who drink alone invariably become morose and sullen-when separated from their clan mates, they can't avoid dwelling on unpleasant memories. It's the wise traveler who leaves alone the sole, drunken dwarf in the corner.


Giants have no special enmity toward dwarves, but they do consider them ideal slaves. Even when captured and put to work against their will, dwarves are innately driven to bring their full effort to a task at hand. Even simple toil brings dwarves some relief from captivity. Fire giants are more likely than other giants to enslave dwarves expressly for their talents. Many tribes of hill giants have discovered the value of dwarves as workers and now seek to capture them rather than devour them. Giants don't launch direct attacks on dwarven strongholds except under extraordinary circumstances. Their size is a great disadvantage in the underground passages of a fortress, potentially turning any such assault into a suicide mission.


Every orc tribe dreams of overrunning a dwarven stronghold and returning to the caves with a war wagon laden with gold, gems, stout armor, and sharp weapons. Given the orcs' propensity to rely on brute force rather than cunning, they can overcome only severely weakened dwarven strongholds. Unfortunately for the dwarves, orcs seem to receive omens from Gruumsh bidding them to invade a stronghold just when it is wracked with plague, riven by infighting, or otherwise at its weakest. The all-seeing eye of Gruumsh is ever vigilant for signs that Moradin's children have faltered.


The evil dwarves of the Underdark are responsible for the constant undercurrent of peril in the life of any clan. Although the duergar don't come near the surface in sufficient numbers to invade and occupy a stronghold, they send out raiding parties to set upon any dwarves they find on the loose and to pull off occasional acts of sabotage or guerrilla activity. Though no dwarven fortresses are currently at risk of succumbing to a duergar onslaught, none of them are immune to the treachery that a small group of gray dwarves can commit.

Friendly from a Distance

Even though dwarves have a natural affinity for one another, different clans keep a comfortable distance between their strongholds. Anyone not of the clan, even another dwarf, is considered an outsider.

Relations between neighboring clans are cordial, if not warm. They might exchange messengers to share lore and news that can prove useful against the vagaries of the outside world, but that is likely to be the extent of their contact. Under normal circumstances, dwarves prefer to be left alone. Interacting with neighbors brings unpredictability and change, things dwarves prefer to avoid.

Circumstances cease to be normal when a clan faces an external threat. When word gets out that one of their own is in danger, dwarves of other clans rally against the threat without question. The standoffish diplomacy that marks their normal relations gives way to an unshakable alliance. An attack on one dwarf clan is an attack against them all.

When Clans Collapse

For all the attention dwarves pay to their defenses and the security of their homes, no clan is immortal and no stronghold unassailable. Threats to a clan can come from the outside or the inside, and it's often the latter variety that proves more difficult to defeat.

Every clan is aware that there are plenty of unprincipled creatures in the world that would love to steal its cherished works or even obliterate the dwarves and take over their home. Formidable though they may be, these are enemies that can be prepared for. More insidious are the forces that can tear apart a clan from within.

Festering Rivalries

It's not unusual for individuals in a clan to fall prey to occasional bickering and infighting. Abbathor's influence affects some dwarves more than others, and even those with the strongest resolve can be tempted to compromise their principles from time to time.

Minor turmoil of this sort rarely leads to civil war or a rapid decline of the clan's strength. But in the worst cases, a clan's collective lack of dedication to its goals strains the bonds between elements that must work together for the clan to prosper. Feuds between artisans drive wedges between families. Dwarf traders strike deals that fail to benefit the clan, and stone carvers start using short cuts that compromise their constructions.

If such a decline continues for too long and becomes too severe, the result could be a schism within the clan. The quarreling factions might segregate themselves in different parts of the stronghold; in an extreme case, some clan members might leave to found a new community. In either event, a divided clan is weaker than it was before the unrest occurred, and thus it's an easier target for outside enemies. If selfishness and greed were not enough to bring the clan to utter destruction, the horde of orcs waiting to attack will be happy to finish the job.

A Life in Exile

If the worst comes to pass and the loss of a clan's stronghold to invaders is inevitable, most of the dwarves would be willing to die while making a last stand for their home. But the clan must survive, even if only as a shell of its former self, and so every clan has a contingency plan to secure a safe escape for the stronghold's children and enough adults to care for them.

If the survivors are able to get away, they tend to seek shelter in a human city or kingdom. Their skill as artisans ensures that almost any community would welcome their contribution to the workforce, and they can eke out a comfortable existence for themselves.

A group of refugee dwarves seeking residence in a community will do whatever they can to live together, keeping the clan intact. They recreate what they can of their former lifestyle, living underground when possible and remaining isolated from their neighbors.

Dwarf Adventurers

A dwarf who leaves the stronghold to pursue a life of adventuring does so for one of two reasons. Some dwarves set out with the blessing of the clan to undertake an important mission. Others depart, willingly or otherwise, because they simply don't fit in.

When a situation calls for such drastic action, the nobles or priests select one or more clan members to venture forth. These dwarves are charged with a specific quest, such as recovering a stolen artifact or discovering the fate of an allied stronghold that has fallen silent. They are held in high esteem by their clan mates, since they have dared to forsake the safety of home for the uncertainty of the upper world. When their mission is over, they return to the stronghold and are hailed as heroes.

Other dwarves turn to a life on the outside because they are misfits who found the stronghold stultifying or outcasts who were forced to leave the clan because of criminal behavior. Not all dwarves are born with the same strong sense of community, and the strictures of society can prove difficult for some to accept. Such an individual might protest an arranged marriage or insist that the priests of Moradin have erred in deciding their vocation. The rest of the clan views these malcontents with mistrust, and those who remain disruptive can find themselves exiled.

Hazardous Duty

Some dwarves leave the stronghold to serve the clan in nontraditional ways as envoys, explorers, crafters, and merchants. Although a human wouldn't think of all these folk as adventurers, in the dwarves' view they are undertaking a dangerous mission.

Even when dwarves volunteer for a life in the outside world, whether to take up true adventuring or to pursue a mundane occupation, they remain members of the clan, and their duties almost always include some responsibility to the clan. A blacksmith working in a human village, for instance, might report news of the outside world back to the clan.

Dwarves who reside in surface communities prefer to keep to themselves when not plying their trades, but over time they might develop close relationships with neighbors of other races-much in the same way that dwarves who join an adventuring party learn to trust their companions.

Castoffs and Criminals

Of course, not every dwarf is destined for a long life in service to the clan. A few are born with a tendency to think and behave in ways that undermine the clan rather than supporting it, and those who don't change their ways are cast out.

Some of these independent dwarves, especially those who espouse the moral and ethical standards of their kin, end up becoming adventurers. Their companions and allies satisfy every dwarf's innate need to belong to a clan, and those folk become the beneficiaries of the dwarf's industriousness and loyalty.

For dwarves of evil temperament, the place of one's clan is liable to be taken by a group such as an assassins' guild or an outlaw gang.

Those who understand their role in the organization and abide by its hierarchy are some of the most loyal followers a would-be conqueror could acquire.

Evil dwarves with no respect for authority or community are few and far between. Shunned by the rest of their race, they take perverse delight in raiding villages, enslaving or killing innocents, and otherwise venting their rage against the world.

Magic: Gods' Gift to Dwarves

Dwarves are of two minds on the topic of magic.

They view divine magic as a gift from their gods, a direct helping hand meant to aid them in their effort to follow their gods' examples. Indeed, many forms of divine magic are essential for the smooth operation of any stronghold and the continued survival of the clan. For that reason, clerics are more common among the dwarves than in other races. Dwarves who are especially devoted to the clan are believed to have a special connection to the deities, and often learn how to use that conduit to bring forth divine magic.

Arcane magic in all its forms is a different matter. Dwarves have no innate fear or hatred of such things, but arcane magic has no true patron among the dwarven deities. As such, the dwarves ignore it in their daily lives, and clan members who take up the practice are exceedingly rare. Using arcane magic to assist in the creation of one's works is anathema to almost all dwarves, because the act amounts to nothing more than cheating. The few dwarves who embrace arcane magic tend to venerate Abbathor, if only in secret.


Duergar see themselves as the true manifestation of dwarven ideals, clever enough not to be taken in by the treacherous deceptions of Moradin and his false promises. Their period of enslavement and the revolt against the mind flayers led by their god, Laduguer, purged the influence of the other dwarven gods from their souls and thus made them into the superior race.

Duergar have no appreciation for beauty, that ability having been erased from their minds by the mind flayers long ago and any thought of recapturing it obliterated by Moradin's betrayal. The duergar lead bleak, grim lives devoid of happiness or satisfaction, but they see that as their defining strength-the root of duergar pride, as it were-rather than a drawback to be corrected.

A Dark Reflection

Duergar society is a dark mirror of the dwarven clan. Where dwarves toil for love of industry, duergar do so out of a drive to create and own as much goods and treasure as possible. Their priests assign vocations and arrange marriages, but only to ensure that a clan continues to exist, not out of any sense of creating a legacy.

In many ways, the culture of the duergar is fundamentally hollow. For all their wars, and all the treasures they have accumulated, duergar feel no happiness or satisfaction. They simply continue to exist, ever-turning cogs in an engine of destruction that is the antithesis of the dwarves' joyful cycle of creation.

Three Rules of Conduct

Duergar psychology, culture, and society are predicated on three principles set down by their god Laduguer. Adherence to these precepts is now enforced by Laduguer's chief lieutenant, Deep Duerra.

Our Pockets Are Never Full

The duergar are fueled in all their actions by two pervasive feelings: ambition that never flags and greed that can never be satisfied. Though they might scheme and plot at great lengths to gain treasure or prestige, success is never a cause for celebration. Each acquisition, once in hand, is like a meal that quickly loses its appeal, leaving the duergar hungry for more. No matter how much wealth or power they gain, it's never enough.

Our Fight Is Never Done

As duergar acquire treasure and prestige, they need to become ever mightier to hold on to what they have. When the duergar wage war on other races, they demonstrate that the weak aren't fit to possess that which is meant for the strong. And to the duergar, no creatures are more unworthy of holding wealth than dwarves.

When duergar have an opportunity to strike at dwarves, especially in their strongholds, they fight with utmost viciousness and cunning, matching the value of the spoils to be gained with the intensity of their onslaught.

Our Resolve Is Never Shaken

Any show of weakness is a mortal sin among the duergar, and that stricture extends to personal conduct as well as to the workings of a duergar clan. Displays of happiness, contentedness, and trust are forbidden. The duergar are bound together in a rigid society, but it is a marriage of necessity rather than choice. In the Underdark, they must cooperate to survive. Within their society, each individual fills a role assigned to them and must perform it to the best of their abilities.

Duergar warriors epitomize the race's abandonment of emotion and individuality.

In battle, they wear heavy armor and hateful, scowling masks that hide their identities. When assembled in ranks, the duergar move forward like army ants. They are an implacable, relentless foe, marching over the corpses of their fallen comrades to press the attack.

Laduguer Claims His Due

Duergar Deities

Two mythic figures who were long ago responsible for the duergar's liberation have achieved divinity in the eyes of their supplicants.

The Duergar Deities table provides basic information about each one: alignment, province (the god's main areas of interest and responsibility), suggested domains for clerics who serve the god, and a common symbol of the god.

Deep Duerra

According to legend, Deep Duerra stole the power of psionics from the mind flayers and gifted it to her people. Her command of it was so great that she dominated a mind flayer colony and turned the illithids into her slaves.

Deep Duerra's followers stand at the forefront of the duergar's attacks on their most hated enemies. Inspired by her mythic deeds, her priests are especially eager to find and annihilate dwarf communities and mind flayer colonies.

The priests of Deep Duerra maintain a training ground and armory inside each duergar stronghold.

All duergar are required to learn the basic skills of combat, and the nobles are obliged to contribute weapons, armor, and followers to the stronghold's defensive force. The priests honor their deity by planning, equipping, and launching holy crusades against their enemies.


Also known as the Grim One, Laduguer was a mighty duergar warrior who liberated his people from the illithids. Laduguer entered into a pact with Asmodeus, pledging the duergar to an alliance against Lolth and the demons of the Abyss in exchange for which Laduguer received a spark of divinity from Abbathor himself.

Laduguer's teachings stand in direct opposition to everything Moradin represents. He is the dwarf god's dark opposite, a shadow that seeks to rise up and consume its original creator.

Duergar don't worship Laduguer in any traditional way; their communities include no temples or formal services. They honor their deity by acquiring more power and wealth through any means possible. Priests of Laduguer maintain the internal functions of duergar society but have no role that is expressly religious.

Duergar Deities

Duergar Deities
DeityAlignmentProvinceSuggested DomainsCommon Symbol
Deep DuerraLEConquest, psionicsKnowledge, WarMind flayer skull
LaduguerLELabor, slaveryDeath, Forge*Broken arrow

Inside a Stronghold

Duergar strongholds are best defined in terms of how they compare to the underground fortresses of the dwarves. Both places constantly bustle with activity, forges and picks and hammers always at work, but that's where the similarity ends.

In a dwarven stronghold, the atmosphere is one of optimistic industry. Dwarves enjoy what they do, and their dedication to furthering the clan and leaving a proper legacy shows through in every aspect of a clan's operation.

In contrast, the duergar care nothing for the dwarven ideal of achieving utmost mastery of a craft. For this reason, they pay no mind to their environment or the aesthetics of their creations. In a duergar stronghold, the atmosphere is one of unrelenting drudgery. Quantity, not quality, is at the heart of their efforts, as the duergar strive to craft as many items as possible in the shortest period of time. Duergar goods aren't flawed or substandard, but are plain to the point of austerity. To the duergar, a manufactured object is useful only for the function it performs.

In a typical stronghold, the workshops occupy the central chamber. The smoke that belches from them fills the air and drifts into surrounding passages.

The outer edges of the stronghold are honeycombed with mining operations. The duergar wrest rock from the cavern walls and process the chunks in search of useful ore, pulverizing them with powerful mechanical devices and sorting out the metals, minerals, and gems.

Between the mines and the workshops stands a ring of fortresses, each ruled by a noble and occupied by the noble's followers. The stronghold's king commands the largest edifice, five times the size of the next biggest.

The priests of Deep Duerra reside in the second largest fortress, which houses the duergar army. The priests organize patrols and guard duty and oversee the settlement's armory.

Steeders, spiders that are used as mounts and war beasts by the duergar, are housed in stables that stand between the workshops and the fortresses. Each enclosure is virtually an individual prison, since the violent creatures must be kept apart lest they tear into each other or wreak havoc in some other way. Only careful supervision and brutal discipline keep them in line when they are out of their cages. Each noble is responsible for maintaining a set of steeder pens, and a squad of duergar are assigned to train and supervise the beasts.

Power of the Mind

During their period of slavery under the mind flayers, the duergar were the subjects of a variety of bizarre experiments that endowed them with psionic abilities.

Every duergar is born with some amount of psionic talent. The typical warrior can turn invisible or increase in size, and some duergar take up a more formal study of psionics to enhance or augment their capabilities. These individuals push their abilities beyond the normal limits, using what they learn to create new talents that they can then teach to others.

Despite these efforts, duergar still have a limited understanding of the true extent of their psionic capabilities. From the perspective of most other creatures, such abilities are seen as merely another flavor of magic. After all, they reason, what does it matter if a duergar turns invisible by using magic or a psionic ability? The outcome is the same either way.

Those duergar who delve into psionic research describe the process as accessing a dimensional space in which they can tap into the energy exerted by living minds. Using this power source, a small number of duergar can alter their bodies and those of other creatures, tap into thoughts and bend them as they see fit, and impart a spark of locomotion and even basic intelligence into objects. Duergar of truly exceptional skill can move objects without touching them, view creatures from a great distance, and push their bodies to achieve incredible feats, such as lifting a boulder or transforming into liquid to flow through a crack in a wall.

A Psionic Awakening

Building Better Slaves

For generations, duergar relied on humanoid captives to perform unskilled labor in their workshops. Only the lowest, most miserable duergar would consent to do grunt work that requires no artifice or skill.

In recent decades, however, the duergar have begun to move away from the practice of slavery. Some of them have discovered that mechanical servitors powered by psionic energy are more durable and more efficient than slaves. Thus, various kinds of automatons have been developed, each designed to fill a role within a duergar stronghold. Some clans have created models to make raiding parties more formidable. Other forms include digging and tunneling machines, golem-like monstrosities that tear through rock and extract ore from it.

Duergar and Ale

Unlike their dwarven kin, duergar drink alcohol only in moderation and avoid overindulgence. The duergar have learned from bitter experience that those who drink too much risk awakening deep racial memories of their ancestors' cruel treatment at the hands of the mind flayers. The psychic agony that these memories evoke manifests in a severe flight-or-fight response. An intoxicated duergar might flee in panic and search for a safe place to hide until the effect wears off. A different one might respond by brawling with anyone in the vicinity, venting the rage the duergar harbor against their former masters.

Duergar Characters

Those duergar who become adventurers are almost invariably exiles from their society. The duergar have no patience for those who fail to conduct themselves with an appropriate amount of ambition and cruelty.

Any gray dwarves who leave the Underdark and take up adventuring, after having been raised among their own kind, are paranoid about possible treachery from within the party. One might insist on sleeping separately from the rest of the group, never displaying or sharing treasure, and trying to hoard treasures that can help survival, such as potions and items or spells that can allow the user to teleport to safety.

At the DM's discretion, you can play a duergar character. When you choose the subrace of your dwarf, you can choose duergar, using the following rules to create your character.

Dwarf Tables

This section provides a number of tables useful for players and DMs who want to choose or randomly generate details about dwarf characters or settlements.

In the tables, a name in bold refers to a stat block in the {@i Monster Manual.}

Dwarves on the Move

When dwarves journey away from their strongholds, they prefer to move in substantial, heavily defended groups. Use the following tables to generate a band of dwarf travelers and some additional details of their situation. Roll once on each line of the Group Composition table and once on each table that follows it.

Group Leader

Group Leader
1Dwarf Priest
2-4Dwarf Noble
5-6Dwarf Knight

Special Allies

Special Allies
1-4Dwarf Acolytes
5Earth Elementals
6Trained Griffons
8Dwarf Mage

Purpose of Travel

Purpose of Travel
1Merchant caravan
2Seeking a specific enemy
3Patrolling to keep roads safe
4Delivering ransom for captive clan member
5Fleeing attack on stronghold
6Diplomatic mission

Special Circumstances

Special Circumstances
1Suspicious of all outsiders
2Carrying secret message
3Pursued by foe
4Returning home laden with treasure

Dwarves in the Clan

The following tables can be used to create basic information about a clan of dwarves: the group's current status, a trait or a fact that sets that clan apart from others, and the vocation of a given clan member.

Clan's Status

Clan's Status
1Prosperous. Clan occupies original stronghold, currently flourishing
2Growing. Stronghold expanding
3Declining. Clan population stagnant or decreasing
4Beleaguered. Victimized by goblinoid and dragon attacks, intact but severely weakened
5Scattered. Stronghold recently lost, many folk slain, survivors scattered
6Refugees. Stronghold lost, survivors occupy a neighborhood or ward in human city

Clan's Notable Trait

Clan's Notable Trait
1Stole a mighty dwarven artifact
2Has bound many devils to service
3Experts in building mechanical devices
4Conducts trade with the City of Brass
5Notable for defeating many dwarves
6Conquered and occupied a drow enclave
7Is secretly controlled by mind flayers
8Has enslaved a colony of troglodytes
9Have interbred with devils
10Known for its extensive spy network on surface
11Masters of psionics
12Dominated by a coven of warlocks

Clan Vocations

Clan Vocations

Dwarves in the World

The tables below are designed to add depth to a dwarf character by offering possible reasons why the character left the clan for the life of an adventurer and a set of personality quirks tailored for dwarven sensibilities.

Dwarf Adventurer Story Hooks

Dwarf Adventurer Story Hooks
1You were accused of stealing a fellow artisan's item and claiming it as your work. Innocent or guilty, you were made an outcast.
2Your wanderlust prompted you to shirk your duties as a crafter in favor of wandering the world. Your clan isn't pleased with this choice.
3You became separated from your clan due to an earthquake, a drow slave raid, or similar event and hope to return home.
4You were assigned to become a merchant by the priests of Moradin and have yet to forgive them for their mistake. You should be working a forge, not wandering the outside world!
5You are a spy, traveling incognito to gather information for the clan elders.
6You struggle to resist the lure of Abbathor, but can't hold it at bay. Better to walk the world and sate your greed on non-dwarves.

Dwarf Quirks

Dwarf Quirks
1Water from the sky! It always surprises you.
2You have a fascination with the ocean and its chaos.
3Any creature larger than a human makes you nervous.
4You prefer to travel with a parasol or similar item that puts a comforting shelter over your head.
5You prefer to sleep during the day.
6You speak Common or any other non-dwarf language only if you must.
7For you, relaxation is putting in a day at the forge.
8You avoid contact with other dwarves, since you mistrust those who would leave their strongholds.

Duergar Tables

Most of the tables in this section are duergar-themed versions of the information for dwarves that's presented above and in the {@i Player's Handbook.}

In the tables, a name in bold refers to a stat block in the {@i Monster Manual.}

Duergar Raiding Parties

When duergar emerge from the Underdark, they generally do so in the form of small but vicious raiding parties. Use the following tables to generate a band of duergar raiders and some additional details of their situation. Roll once on each line of the Group Composition table and once on each table that follows it.

Duergar Group Leader

Duergar Group Leader
1Duergar Stone Guard
2-4Duergar Warlord
5-6Duergar Despot

Duergar Special Allies

Duergar Special Allies
1-31d4 steeders, female
4-61d3 duergar hammerers
71 duergar mind master
81d3 duergar screamers
9-101d3 duergar soulblades
111d6 duergar xarrorn
121d6 bearded devils bound to service
132d4 allied evil azers
143d20 enslaved goblins
151d4 summoned earth elementals
161d6 + 2 gargoyles
171d8 hell hounds
181 trained rust monster
191 shield guardian bound to group leader
201d4 enslaved trolls

Duergar Purpose of Raid

Duergar Purpose of Raid
1-3Collecting slaves
4Pursuing a specific enemy
5Patrolling for expansion opportunities
6On a rampage for loot

Duergar Special Circumstances

Duergar Special Circumstances
1Special hatred for dwarves, will attack them first
2Exiles, willing to bargain
3Laden with loot from raid, tries to flee
4Seeks to take hostages for ransom

Duergar in the Clan

The following tables can be used to create basic information about a clan of duergar somewhere in the world: the group's current status, and a trait or a fact that sets that clan apart from others.

Duergar Clan Names

Duergar Clan Names

Duergar Clan's Status

Duergar Clan's Status
1Mighty. Conquered several dwarven strongholds, dominates Underdark region
2Growing. Stronghold expanding
3Declining. Clan growing stale, population falling
4Beleaguered. Surrounded by drow and illithid foes
5Scattered. Torn apart by slave rebellion or civil war
6Refugees. Defeated by enemies, few survivors

Clan's Notable Trait

Clan's Notable Trait
1Stole a mighty dwarven artifact
2Has bound many devils to service
3Experts in building mechanical devices
4Conducts trade with the City of Brass
5Notable for defeating many dwarves
6Conquered and occupied a drow enclave
7Is secretly controlled by mind flayers
8Has enslaved a colony of troglodytes
9Have interbred with devils
10Known for its extensive spy network on surface
11Masters of psionics
12Dominated by a coven of warlocks

Duergar in the World

The tables below are designed to add depth to a duergar character by offering possible reasons why the character left the clan for the life of an adventurer and a choice of personality quirks that are tailored for duergar.

Duergar Adventurer Story Hooks

Duergar Adventurer Story Hooks
1You are a heretic, drawn to worship of Moradin.
2Caught stealing, you escaped imprisonment but not before torture left you with a scar or lasting injury.
3You were enslaved by drow or mind flayers but escaped to the surface.
4You seek only to test yourself in battle with monsters.
5Profit is all that matters to you.
6The best way to defeat the folk of the surface is to study them firsthand.

Duergar Quirks

Duergar Quirks
1A separate personality in your mind provides advice and guidance to you.
2Your gear must be perfectly arranged, otherwise someone must bleed.
3When there isn't a roof over your head, you keep your eyes on the ground.
4You don't talk unless you absolutely must.
5The outside world is a giant cave, and nothing will convince you otherwise.
6Humans fascinate you, and you collect odd trinkets of their culture.

Gith and Their Endless War

The story of the gith is rooted in a cruel twist of cosmic fate. Inspired by the great leader for whom the race is named, the gith rose up to overthrow the mind flayers that held them in servitude. But after they won their freedom, two factions among the gith disagreed on what kind of civilization they would forge. That disagreement quickly flared into open hostility, and the two groups distanced themselves from one another to pursue their separate agendas. They remain bitter enemies today, each side willing to fight to the death whenever they cross paths.

The githyanki were motivated by revenge and convinced that they deserved to take whatever they wanted from the worlds they traveled. Ranging out from the titanic city of Tu'narath on the Astral Plane, they send raiders out to plunder the Material Plane and other worlds, bringing treasures and slaves back to their ageless realm. At the same time, they hunt down and kill mind flayers whenever possible, as recompense for what the illithids did to them.

The githzerai believed that the path to an enlightened civilization lay in seclusion, not conflict. Their dedication to the principles of order is so strong that they can manipulate the stuff of chaos and use it to their benefit; thus, they have carved out a stronghold for themselves on the plane of Limbo that is virtually impervious. Though the githzerai are pacifists by nature, they share the githyanki's racial hatred for mind flayers, and from time to time they send out squads to destroy illithid outposts.

If the two races were ever to team up against the illithids, a combined force of gith could conceivably tip the balance in their favor. But as long as the githyanki and githzerai stay at each other's throats, their goal of ultimate victory over their original common enemy will likely remain unachieved.


Since winning their freedom from the mind flayers, the githyanki have become corrupt raiders and destroyers under the rulership of their dread lich-queen, Vlaakith. They dwell on the Astral Plane in the city of Tu'narath, a metropolis built on and in the corpse of a deity.

Vlaakith commands the loyalty of the githyanki from her personal stronghold, Susurrus, also called the Palace of Whispers, which is located deep inside the floating city. She sits on her Throne of Bones, a mighty artifact fueled by the intellects of mind flayers and elder brains that were defeated by her minions. It is crafted from mind flayer skulls and extremities, and the cushion she sits on is made of leather produced from the cured remains of an elder brain. A grand statue of Gith, an obsidian monument over 100 feet tall, stands beside the palace.

The Revered Queen

Vlaakith sits at the center of everything concerning the githyanki. She is their ruler in every sphere of activity and, as such, demands and receives utter obedience.

During the war with the illithids, Vlaakith urged Gith to seek out allies from among the planes and in particular advised her to seek counsel with Tiamat. Gith agreed to venture into the Nine Hells to forge an alliance with the Queen of Dragons. She didn't return. Instead, the great red dragon Ephelomon brought news to the gith: Tiamat had pledged many of her red dragon servants to the gith cause. They would refrain from attacking gith and would provide support against the illithids and protection for the gith's outposts on the Material Plane. In return, a few select young dragons would serve alongside the gith for a time, for purposes known only to Tiamat. Ephelomon also proclaimed that Vlaakith was to rule in Gith's place until she returned.

After the gith overthrew the mind flayers and Zerthimon's followers began to emerge as a threat to Gith's preeminence, Vlaakith played a critical role in ensuring that the githyanki under her rule were protected from an immediate, direct assault by their kin. Using her mastery of arcane magic, she helped the githyanki establish a permanent stronghold on the Astral Plane. From there, she began making plans to strike back at both the hated mind flayers and the traitorous githzerai.

The Grand Proclamation

Vlaakith cemented her position as the supreme ruler of the githyanki with a grand proclamation that defined the githyanki's all-encompassing mission. They had been bred and trained for war by their one-time masters and had never known anything other than a martial existence. They needed a clear purpose and a forceful commander to spur them on, and Vlaakith provided both.

Vlaakith decreed that, having defeated the mind flayers, the githyanki would take the place of the illithids as sovereigns of the Material Plane. The many worlds of the Material Plane would be the githyanki's gardens, prime for harvesting as they saw fit. The Astral Plane would be their home domain, because in that timeless realm they could ignore the need for food, water, and other mundane concerns that plague lesser races.

Vlaakith also proclaimed that githyanki who proved themselves skilled in battle would ascend to an even greater paradise. A long lifetime of service would earn any githyanki a journey to the boundless delights of her innermost court-the wondrous realm that Gith discovered in her journeys, and where she awaits those who have proven themselves worthy.

The Bitter Truth

In the time since Vlaakith made this promise to her people, she has called many of the most formidable githyanki warriors to their reward. At the culmination of a grand ceremony that supposedly readies them for their journey to where Gith awaits, the supplicants enter her inner sanctum and are never seen again.

In truth, instead of sending them to paradise, Vlaakith drains their souls and absorbs their strength, gaining more power with every "ascension." Her knowledge of arcane magic equals that of a conclave of archmages, while her combat skill matches the combined talents of hundreds of sword masters.

Perhaps the lich-queen's promise isn't a complete fabrication, but no others can say for sure. If Vlaakith knows anything more, she has taken drastic measures to keep it secret. A few sages and spellcasters have sought to learn the truth about Gith's fate using arcane magic, only to fall victim to a bizarre curse that transforms them into the formless creatures known as allips.

All attempts to learn about Gith through divine magic return utter silence. Those who try experience a strange sensation, as if their minds were teetering on the edge of a great abyss, one that spans time, space, and memory.

Born to Serve

From birth, githyanki are conditioned to fight and die for their queen. Children endure a brutal upbringing that constantly preaches devotion to Vlaakith. Each of the fortified settlements where young githyanki are raised and trained is a combination of military academy and cult headquarters.

Only the Best Survive

The githyanki raise their young in hidden crèches that they construct in far-flung places on the Material Plane. Such measures are necessary because birth and growth are impossible on the Astral Plane, whose occupants don't age. The adult overseers in these places train young githyanki to harness their psychic and physical abilities.

Githyanki hatch from eggs. Each newborn enters the world alongside other eggs deliberately laid so that all hatch at the same time. Since githyanki adults must return to the Astral Plane to keep from aging significantly, the roster of instructors continually changes, with no adult staying longer than a few months and none ever returning for a second stint.

The instruction that young githyanki undergo is unrelenting and unforgiving. As a crop of youngsters grows older, more and more is demanded from each student, and the penalties for failing to keep up become more and more severe. In the early stages, combat practice lasts only until a wound is scored. Later, near the end of training, a drill of the same sort might be a fight to the death-the ultimate way of weeding out all those who don't meet Vlaakith's standards. To the githyanki, it's better for a weakling to die in training than to undertake a mission and imperil a war band.

Final Test of Loyalty

By the time a group of githyanki come of age, they have heard years of stories of Vlaakith and her immortal warriors dwelling in the silvery void. The young are told they are on the verge of entering the queen's realm, each one of them destined to take a special place in the society. Their skills have proven them worthy, and now only their loyalty to the Revered Queen remains to be determined.

As their last test, a group of githyanki entering adulthood must slay a mind flayer as a sacred rite of passage before they are permitted to join their people on the Astral Plane. When the victors enter Tu'narath for the first time, they carry the bounty of their hunt directly to Vlaakith. She accepts the gift and intones a ritual chant that marks the youngsters' induction into githyanki society.

Vlaakith's Dilemma

Long gone are the days when the gith race was fully embroiled in conflict. When the githyanki settled Tu'narath and took up residence in the Astral Plane, they no longer had to fight constantly for survival, and in that respect the lives of all githyanki became easier.

The mission laid out by Vlaakith in her grand proclamation remains of utmost importance. Her rule remains absolute, in part because she suffers no competition or divergent viewpoints. And her regime is in no danger, yet to an outsider in Tu'narath it might seem as though the place is in decline.

Indeed, in a way the githyanki are victims of their own success. After centuries of staging lucrative raids throughout the multiverse, the folk of Tu'narath have become spoiled and decadent. Vlaakith can still summon her people to action, and when she does so they obey her willingly. But when they aren't otherwise occupied, many of the citizens of the city spend their time in self-indulgent activities.

For all her seeming invincibility, Vlaakith finds herself in an awkward situation that—in her paranoid mind—has no easy resolution. If she keeps her people busy more often by ordering an increase in raids, she risks her best warriors and marauders becoming experienced and powerful enough to challenge her rule. Also, if she sends out too many raiding parties at one time, the security of Tu'narath might be compromised. So she addresses the problem by not dealing with it directly, but by trying to encourage her indolent followers to find purpose in meaningful activities that don't involve plundering and killing. She isn't always successful in that effort.

Merciless Marauders

When Vlaakith decrees that another githyanki raid is in the offing, Tu'narath comes alive with anticipation. The knights and other soldiers selected for the mission consider it a high privilege. All the raiders do their best to honor Vlaakith by savaging their target-killing creatures indiscriminately, taking whatever treasures catch their fancy, and leaving destruction in their wake.

When one of the githyanki's astral vessels returns home after a raid, it is laden with the spoils of the incursion. Vlaakith makes no specific demands but allows each individual raider freedom of choice in what they bring back. Some might seek exotic spices and herbs, while others pillage to find scrolls or tomes of knowledge. As a result, Tu'narath is cluttered (if not crowded) by a nearly infinite variety of objects that the githyanki have pirated from other planes, ranging in size from enormous buildings down to the smallest pieces of exquisite jewelry.

Indolent Dilettantes

As a race bred and shaped by the mind flayers for a life of fighting, the githyanki never knew anything else while they were enslaved. Now that they aren't constantly at war, keeping her people occupied is perhaps the greatest challenge Vlaakith faces.

When githyanki aren't on raids or other missions for Vlaakith, they enjoy a languid existence in Tu'narath. Since time doesn't pass on the Astral Plane, the githyanki have no need to labor for food or water. To keep their minds sharp, Vlaakith orders them to pursue a variety of arts and studies. She regularly arranges contests, scavenger hunts, and other trials to keep her servants involved in purposeful activity, but the attraction of such diversions wears off after a brief time. Most of the citizens of Tu'narath, when they haven't been called for duty on a raid or for some other mission, indulge themselves in any way they see fit.

Githyanki, with an infinite amount of time on their hands, crave novelty. They expect every returning raid to provide new forms of entertainment. This preoccupation with newness stands at the hollow center of githyanki culture. They dabble in creating art, but never master it. They stand among treasures taken from countless worlds but are never truly appreciative of them. The githyanki flit from topic to topic, craft to craft, never settling on one endeavor for long. Tu'narath is littered with half-built sculptures, partially completed frescoes, and other unfinished works of all sorts. The githyanki simply abandon personal projects that bore them, and every such endeavor they undertake ends in this manner.

A Blade Kept Sharp

Despite the decadent lifestyle the githyanki indulge in, they remain in fighting shape. All are required to attend weapon and combat drills, which serve as a brief respite from their boredom.

Vlaakith, of course, stands atop the githyanki military hierarchy. Under her serve the supreme commanders, each of whom oversees a regiment of one thousand githyanki warriors. Ten kith'rak, each responsible for a company of one hundred, answer to a commander. Each kith'rak in turn commands ten sarths, each of whom leads a party of ten warriors. A githyanki war leader retains that status in times of peace, looking after her underlings and maintaining their discipline and combat training.

Knights: A Breed Apart

Githyanki knights are warriors, spellcasters, and scouts of exceptional ability devoted to the unflagging service of Vlaakith. Knights report directly to the queen and aren't part of the military hierarchy. The personnel for any important mission includes at least one knight, and every githyanki fortress or outpost across the multiverse is administered by at least one knight in residence. Knights are selected for their roles based on their martial and psionic potential, and young githyanki who pass muster are inducted into service soon after they enter Tu'narath for the first time.

Knights are always involved in important decisions, and it is forbidden to keep secrets from them. They act as commissars and enforcers of Vlaakith's will. They are the rough equivalent of religious figures in githyanki culture, although the githyanki have no priests or clerics of normal sort.

The Spoils of War

An individual githyanki's weapons and armor are ornate and decorated with trophies taken on raids. With each new victory, a warrior brings home a token to serve as a memento. Anything might strike a githyanki's fancy, from a jewel taken from the pommel of a fallen opponent's sword to colorful banners taken from a plundered castle that, preserved by the timeless nature of the Astral Plane, keep their original vibrant hue for centuries. The more baroque and ostentatious a raid token is, the more likely it is to be admired by one's fellow warriors.

Two aspects of their nature set knights apart from other githyanki. Each knight wields a cherished silver greatsword that imparts special powers to its owner, and the knights are among the few githyanki who can not only travel psionically between planes, but can also take allies along with them. Knights often emerge from planar travel astride the backs of red dragons, which have been serving the githyanki as allies ever since their time of enslavement under the mind flayers.

Silver Swords

The first silver swords were created eons ago, when the gith were still a single race, by those who would become the first githyanki knights. A silver sword, which functions as a +3 greatsword, is a conduit through which its wielder can assail a foe both physically and psychically. The weapon is particularly effective on the Astral Plane against any travelers who are connected to their physical bodies by a silver cord-a strike against such an enemy has a chance of severing the silver cord, causing instant death.

Knights and their silver swords are inseparable, and a knight will fight to the death to prevent the loss of its weapon. If a silver sword falls into the possession of someone other than a githyanki, Vlaakith sends a squad of knights out from Tu'narath to destroy the malefactor and recover the weapon. {@b Magic Item: Greater Silver Sword} {@i Weapon (greatsword), legendary (requires attunement by a creature that has psionic ability)}

This magic weapon grants a +3 bonus to attack and damage rolls made with it. While you hold the sword, you have advantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma saving throws, you are immune to being charmed, and you have resistance to psychic damage. In addition, if you score a critical hit with it against a creature's astral body, you can cut the silvery cord that tethers the target to its material body, instead of dealing damage.

Dragon Steeds

The relationship between githyanki and red dragons has remained basically unchanged since ancient times. Under the terms of the alliance with Tiamat, a small cadre of dragons serve as cohorts and mounts for knights and other high-ranking githyanki. The dragons remain above githyanki politics. They obey the orders of their riders and fulfill their terms of service without offering opinions or advice.

Red dragons typically serve the githyanki during their younger years. Once a dragon reaches adulthood, it is dismissed and replaced with a younger dragon, taking with it the loot it has accumulated on raids.

Since dragons don't age while on the Astral Plane, they don't grow in size or capability. In order to become both stronger and richer, they prefer to spend as much time as possible engaged in raids on the Material Plane or other realms. The best duty of all for a dragon is being tasked to guard a githyanki crèche on the Material Plane, a posting that could last for years. Not only does it receive treasure as compensation, the dragon ages normally while completing its service, so that it reaches adulthood sooner than the dragon cohorts that are stationed in Tu'narath.

The dragons that are bound to serve githyanki consider their assignment an irritant but aren't hostile. They resent their masters, but the promise of loot makes them eager to participate in raids. As part of the compact with Tiamat, the githyanki are forbidden from using psionics or magic to compel their dragon allies' actions or read their minds. A dragon remains a loyal ally as long as its riders and handlers treat it with respect and it gets plenty of opportunities to pillage.

Terror from the Sky

During the great war between the mind flayers and the gith, one of the githyanki's greatest achievements was their discovery of the magic that mind flayers used to produce and propel the flying vessels that the illithids used to travel between worlds.

Now, the githyanki scour the worlds of the Material Plane in their versions of those craft. Their astral ships are ideal for carrying troops and the spoils of their raids. Their wizards' divination magic seeks out great treasures. Under the guidance of Vlaakith, the supreme leaders organize raiding parties and dispatch them to return with the spoils of war.

The githyanki sky ships attack from above in the dead of night, gaining an instant advantage since communities on the surface rarely offer strong defenses against attacks from the air. Red dragons ridden by knights accompany the vessels, serving as outriders and shock trips to pave the way for the githyanki warriors to descend en masse.

In battle, the githyanki use mobile tactics combining psionics and magic to devastate their foes. They hit hard, setting buildings aflame and killing all in their path, to foster a panic among their victims that cripples any hope of an organized defense.

Because the githyanki strike to plunder rather than conquer, raiders linger over their target for no more than a few hours. By daybreak the attackers are gone, purposely leaving behind enough survivors to rebuild the ruined community-so that the githyanki might visit the place years or decades later and lay it low all over again.

The Helm

To enable them to traverse the skies and travel between planes, each githyanki ship is powered by a helm, a magical device in the form of a throne-like chair that converts psychic energy into motive force. A gish, a githyanki who excels as both a warrior and a spellcaster, most commonly occupies the helm. A gish uses its combination of abilities to pilot the ship and also take part in the inevitable battle that awaits the vessel at the end of its voyage. The rest of a ship's crew is made up of warriors who manage the craft's weapons and serve as lookouts.

Astral Skiff

An astral skiff is operated by a crew of three and carries up to a dozen passengers. The githyanki employ this small vessel, 30 feet long and 10 feet wide, for patrols in the Astral Plane and for quick raids in pursuit of specific objects on the Material Plane. A skiff has a top speed of 15 miles per hour. It lacks weapons aside from those carried by its passengers and has a limited amount of storage space.

Astral Brig

The astral brig is the standard githyanki military vessel. It requires a crew of five and can transport up to sixty passengers. A brig is 90 feet long and 30 feet wide, with two levels below decks for quarters and storage space. It is equipped with two ballistae, each one operated by a pair of crew members, and has a top speed of 12 miles per hour.

Planar Raider

The largest of the githyanki ships, the planar raider serves as a mobile headquarters during a major attack on the githyanki's enemies. It needs a crew of ten and can carry more than a hundred passengers. A planar raider can travel up to 12 miles per hour. It is 40 feet wide and 120 feet long, with two levels below decks, and is equipped with three ballistae and a catapult.

The Gith Alphabet

The gith use a written language composed of alphabetic symbols arranged in circular clusters called tir'su. Each "spoke" on the wheel corresponds to a letter of the alphabet. Each cluster of characters represents a single word, and multiple tir'su connect to form phrases and sentences.

Githyanki and githzerai both speak Gith, but each race has a distinct dialect and accent. Similarly, the two races of gith differentiate their language by how they write it. Githyanki write a tir'su clockwise, starting at the top. Githzerai use the same letter symbols but write their tir'su counterclockwise, starting from the bottom.


When the githyanki fled from the illithids, Vlaakith led them to safety on the Astral Plane inside the floating corpse of a six-armed deity. This being's body long ago calcified into a great slab of rock, its lower half smashed by some ancient disaster. A trail of debris, some of the stones larger than a castle, extends from the corpse's lower end.

The city of Tu'narath is built on and in the corpse's upper body, with a central district in the area corresponding to its chest and ancillary districts radiating outward along its six outstretched arms and toward its head. Despite the body's partial destruction, the occasional tremor that echoes through its rocky mass suggests that some spark of life might still linger deep within.

Anyone who visits the city does so either at the behest of the githyanki or in stealth. Fortunately for those who try to enter clandestinely, the place is immense enough that a small group can sneak in with relative ease.

If uninvited visitors arrive openly, they can expect a sharp reception from githyanki patrol vessels. If that's not enough to bring them to heel, the call goes out for a squad of dragon-mounted knights.

The Streets of Tu'narath

Tu'narath is a jumble of crooked streets that run between buildings and other structures that are ripped from the worlds of other planes. Many githyanki raiders have a particular obsession for architecture, which they satisfy by seizing buildings from the Material Plane and other locales and relocating them in Tu'narath.

Often, these prizes don't remain intact for long. When residents become bored or find themselves in the mood for debauchery, the githyanki's natural propensity for violence manifests in the form of a great brawl or wild celebration that causes serious damage to their surroundings. When a structure has served its purpose and is no longer useful (or even recognizable), the githyanki tear the debris from its resting place and throw it into a refuse pile or cast it adrift into the astral sea, to be eventually replaced by a new specimen.

Nonetheless, the city does have a great number of permanent structures, and a system of districts in which particular functions or activities are concentrated.

Tu'narath in Brief

Here are some key details of Tu'narath.


Roughly one hundred thousand folk dwell in Tu'narath. The vast majority are githyanki, but visitors from other planes aren't uncommon. Individuals who come to deal with the githyanki reside here. Residents also include captives that the githyanki have taken on raids.

Law and Order

Warriors patrol above the streets in astral skiffs to keep the peace. Githyanki who cause unwarranted conflict are disciplined, but such punishment is rarely lethal. Any visitor who causes a ruckus, however, is likely to be slain on the spot, unless Vlaakith has specifically forbidden such action.


Tu'narath has no taverns or inns in the traditional sense. The githyanki expect visitors to carve out their own accommodations; they can choose from among any number of abandoned structures. As an alternative, a small troupe of renegade modrons maintains a crumbling citadel called the Iron House that has rooms for rent. Visitors can pay with interesting trinkets from across the planes.


There are no organized markets in Tu'narath. The githyanki don't offer goods for sale to visitors, and they don't purchase items offered to them-they simply take what they want.

Queen's District

Susurrus, the queen's stronghold, is protected by thick, obsidian walls. Only one gate leads into it, located on a path that passes beneath the statue of Gith. Beyond the statue, the path becomes a labyrinthine maze designed to prevent attackers or visitors from gaining access to the queen. Vlaakith's throne room, a gargantuan hall supported by obsidian pillars, sits at the center of the labyrinth. Guarded by two red dragons, Vlaakith sits upon her Throne of Bones and holds court over her supplicants.

Glathk District

A muddy field that extends as far as the eye can see is the githyanki equivalent of a labor camp.

The glathk district, named after the Gith word for "farmer"-a term of derision-is where githyanki are taken when they violate society's rules. Punishments are nonlethal, and often don't involve physical harm.

Instead, offenders are forced to submit to the mind-numbing sameness of performing one task interminably-a fate that, for some, might feel worse than death. For instance, a warrior might be sequestered here after slacking off during weapons practice, sentenced to a prison term and charged with moving piles of mud from one end of the field to the other. Elsewhere, a squad of warriors stands at attention for an indeterminate time, after their failure to maintain proper formations during drills.

Those incarcerated here are rarely supervised closely, but knights patrol the area regularly.

District of Discards

The githyanki dispose of loot that they have no use for in a space on the outer surface of Tu'narath set aside for the purpose. Such items can range from trophies and treasure to prisoners of other races that have been set free and left to fend for themselves. The few githyanki who dwell here maintain a semblance of order amid the wreckage by categorizing the castaway items, making it easier for other githyanki to locate objects related to their personal interests.

Creatures seeking to infiltrate Tu'narath have had success in using this place as a base, since the warriors and knights seldom patrol it, and several groups of freed captives—humans, elves, hobgoblins, and other sorts—make their homes here.

Military Districts

Soldiers and officers occupy several areas around the city, most of which contain defensive works and armories. The githyanki also maintain barracks that serve as mustering points in advance of raids. All githyanki are required to report to one of these districts regularly for weapon practice. Non-githyanki that venture into these areas are attacked on sight unless accompanied by a knight who can vouch for them.

Mlar District

This area passes for an artisan's district. Githyanki engaged in distractions that involve artistry or creation gather here, both to share their skills and to show off their goods. Outsiders can pass through the district if appropriately disguised; the githyanki bring captured artisans here to provide insight and tutelage, but rarely keep a close watch on them. After all, they have little chance of escaping the city.


The githyanki store and maintain their vessels at docks and outcrops that adjoin the military districts. Those who are assigned to ship maintenance enjoy a high status and are allowed to consider their work as part of their military service. Githyanki warriors provide labor as needed.

Dragon Caves

The shattered lower body of the dead god contains an abundance of natural caves and fissures. Each of the red dragons that serve the githyanki has a lair deep within this region, jealously guarding its hoard until it is called for service. No one has ever successfully mapped out the strange passages and tunnels, and a variety of scavengers, astral predators, and other creatures lair here, some of them likely dating from the time before the githyanki came along. The residents of Tu'narath don't typically spend time in the caves, except as necessary to tend to the dragons. On occasion, a githyanki craving a new experience might venture into this area for a respite from boredom. Those who don't return, it can be assumed, found what they were after.

Rumors persist of an enormous dungeon that lies beyond the caves, a hidden fortress occupied by a mighty demigod who claimed The One in the Void as its home before the githyanki occupied it. Coteries of Red Wizards from the land of Thay on Faerûn, accompanied by githyanki knights, have ventured into this area in recent years. Supposedly, the Thayans once emerged with a huge adamantine container that rumbled and shook, as if to the beat of a monstrous heart.

Survivor Communities

As befits a society of conquerors, the githyanki have no regard for the victims of their raids. They take lives to assert their dominance, not out of anger or because they feel threatened. From time to time, instead of killing everyone they encounter on a raid, they bring captives back to Tu'narath for various reasons.

The githyanki treat prisoners with the same detachment and disdain they show for those they slay. When captives are no longer useful, their masters might end their lives, or they might simply stop caring about their possessions and leave the creatures to fend for themselves.

The hardiest and most elusive of these folk make their way to the District of Discards, where they can take refuge from the threats that face them in other parts of the city and live in relative obscurity. The githyanki care nothing for what goes on in these survivor communities, unless a disruption becomes serious enough to attract their attention. A group of would-be infiltrators might be able to get a foothold in Tu'narath by stealthily entering the district and blending in with a community of survivors.


The githzerai were born as a race at the end of the gith's bloody, genocidal uprising against the mind flayers. A gith named Zerthimon, who had gained a significant following during the conflict, challenged Gith's plans and her leadership. Gith was evil, the newcomer proclaimed, and she would lead the people into darkness and tyranny not unlike the one imposed by the illithids.

Thus, no sooner had the gith defeated their sworn enemies than they were plunged into a bitter civil war. In the ensuing conflict, Zerthimon was killed and his followers, naming themselves githzerai, relocated their civilization to the plane of Limbo.

Today, under the leadership of the Great Githzerai, Zaerith Menyar-Ag-Gith, the githzerai continue to stand fast against the githyanki, as well as taking their revenge on the mind flayers. Through forays into the Material Plane and other realms, they provide stiff opposition to their enemies' plans for world domination.

Order in a Sea of Chaos

Strong-minded philosophers and austere ascetics, the githzerai pursue lives of rigid order. Their society focuses on enhancing the potential of the mind through meditation, education, and physical tests. The most accomplished among them stand as exemplars of the githzerai's monastic principles, but even those who perform mundane duties in a community have a significant measure of the same mental fortitude.

Living in the ever-turbulent churn of Limbo requires all githzerai to harness the power of thought to counteract and hold at bay the chaos-stuff of the plane. If they were not relentless in this effort, the tides of Limbo would overwhelm and destroy them.

The githzerai have a unity of purpose that comes from their reverence for their great heroes and their desire to emulate the virtues of those figures in their everyday lives.

Menyar-Ag, the Great Githzerai

Menyar-Ag led the githzerai into Limbo at the culmination of the conflict between Gith and Zerthimon. Thanks to unimaginable arcane and psionic power, he has survived far beyond the life span of an ordinary githzerai. Time has nevertheless taken its toll, and Menyar-Ag today is a decrepit, corpse-like entity-capable of tremendous feats of magic and psionics but barely able to move a finger or lift his own eyelids. A host of servants constantly attend to Menyar-Ag and see to his every need.

Although Menyar-Ag is no longer capable of physical actions of any consequence, his mind is as active and sharp as ever. He never sleeps, using a rotating staff of attendants to spread his commands and counsel to all githzerai. If needed, he can call upon his own psychic energy to contact his people, even across the planes.


A githzerai community works constantly to maintain a stable base of operations protected from the wilds of Limbo. The mental energy of the collective that keeps the plane's forces of chaos at bay is funneled through the exceptional githzerai known as anarchs. One or more anarchs maintain each community by serving as both the receptacle for the psychic power of other githzerai and the means by which that power is employed.

Anarchs have a special gift for stabilizing and controlling the chaos-stuff of Limbo. In their communities on Limbo, they can create matter and energy out of nothingness with a thought. They can control the direction of gravity. The environment around them can be whatever they want it to be.

Anarchs are exceedingly rare among githzerai. When a githzerai in an existing community demonstrates the ability to become an anarch, that individual might leave the community to found a new colony or might remain where it is and ascend to a leadership position.


Zerthimon's mortal form died in battle, but his sacrifice freed the githzerai from Gith's dark designs. They believe that Zerthimon, in his new godly form, will return someday and usher them into new age of freedom. Until that happens, the githzerai known as zerths fill the symbolic role of Zerthimon in society, as accomplished wielders of psionic power who can move themselves and others between planes.

The githzerai believe that when Zerthimon returns, he will first gather all the zerths and take them to their new paradise to prepare it for those who follow. Zerths are similar to what other races would call priests, although githzerai don't have a religion as such, beyond their admiration for Zerthimon and Menyar-Ag.

Fortress Cities

The monasteries of the githzerai are massive outposts of stability that sail through the chaos of Limbo. Githzerai anarchs keep the fortresses stable and control their interior design, opening portals to the outside only as needed. Most fortresses drift through Limbo at random, but none of them are ever isolated. When Menyar-Ag sends out a call to them, the anarchs of the other communities can instantly communicate with him.

Aside from its inhabitants, the most well-defended element of a githzerai fortress is its food supply. Because Limbo provides no sustenance, the githzerai rely on crops and livestock they appropriate from elsewhere. Plants are grown in hydroponic chambers, and livestock are raised in pens where light, temperature, and other conditions are tailored to their needs.

A community's activity is overseen by monks who assign duties to each occupant. Everyone participates in mock combats and ongoing academic instruction, and each fortress allocates personnel and resources as needed. Every fortress is designed to be self-sufficient, even though no two of them are ever out of psychic contact.


Shra'kt'lor is a fortress city that houses the largest concentration of githzerai. It serves as both the capital of the civilization and the headquarters of the githzerai military forces. The greatest generals, spellcasters, and zerths of the race meet here to plan or refine their strategy for battling the githyanki and the mind flayers.

Shra'kt'lor is the most well defended of the githzerai outposts-no force in Limbo could readily threaten the city or its inhabitants. Teleportation circles are barred except on the fringes of the place, at always-guarded locations beyond the city's outermost defenses. Those who use plane-shifting magic to arrive at these sites or who approach through the chaos of Limbo aren't admitted to the city without the approval of an anarch.

Beyond the entrance to the city wait six layers of nested defenses. Each one is dominated by a fortress maintained by a powerful anarch chosen by Zaerith Menyar-Ag-Gith, who dwells at the heart of it all.

Githzerai in the World

It's natural for githzerai to prefer to remain in Limbo. They have carved out a well-ordered civilization in an environment that they can freely manipulate with their minds. When they visit other realms, particularly the Material Plane, githzerai feel sluggish and aren't comfortable functioning in a landscape that they see as being locked in immutability. Despite their disinclination toward travel, the githzerai send groups away from Limbo on a regular basis to keep from giving ground in their battles against the githyanki and the mind flayers.

Adamantine Citadels

When githzerai travel, they sometimes bring a sliver of Limbo along. Before they set out, a cadre of powerful anarchs craft a citadel of adamantine out of the chaos-stuff around them. Inside the structure is more of Limbo's essence, left in raw form until it's needed.

Then, in an eruption of psionic and arcane power that only Menyar-Ag can produce, the citadel and its accompanying githzerai are transported to another plane.

After the transfer is complete, at least one anarch must always attend the citadel to maintain its form and shape as well as to utilize the chaos-stuff within. When a citadel is ensconced on another plane, the githzerai create a teleportation circle inside it to facilitate travel between that plane and Limbo.

The appearance of an adamantine citadel on another plane creates a blot on the natural world. Life, the one thing that can't be spontaneously created from the stuff of Limbo, is driven away from the location in a wave of dread. Depending on the size of the citadel, the affected area can have a radius of between several hundred feet and several miles. Birds avoid flying over or near it, other animals flee the area, and plants in the vicinity wither and die. Intelligent creatures can act normally, but being in the affected area is unnerving to them, and if they investigate, they soon identify the citadel as the cause. The githyanki, however, find it in their best interest to keep their citadels safe from discovery. Menyar-Ag prefers to plant them in desolate and rarely frequented places such as barren deserts or remote locations in the Underdark.

The primary purpose of an adamantine citadel is to watch over the activity of some foe of the githzerai, such as an illithid colony, and to provide a base of operations for a possible attack. Citadels are also used to collect foodstuffs and other material goods for transport to Limbo. When the githzerai are finished with a citadel, they vacate it and return to Limbo. Immediately after the last anarch teleports away, the citadel vanishes, leaving only a scarred landscape to indicate where it once stood.

Spreading the Word

The githzerai see their cause as not just a provincial concern, but one that they strive to impress upon others. As such, they have taken the initiative in preaching the philosophy of Zerthimon and sharing their knowledge of how to fight illithids and githyanki. To this end, zerths sometimes venture to other planes with the intent of founding a new monastery or joining an existing one.

These "missionaries" are always looking for those with psionic potential who can bring those powers to bear against the githzerai's foes. Most often, they operate in secret or behind the scenes as they pursue their agenda and try to swell the ranks of their allies. Who can say how many monasteries are in truth secret recruiting stations for the githzerai?

Going on the Attack

The githzerai know full well that they can't make progress in the war against their enemies by staying inside their fortresses on Limbo. To check the advances of the illithids and the githyanki and keep their foes' numbers down, squads of githzerai often travel to other planes with the express intent of destroying the objects of their hatred.


Githzerai rarely confront githyanki on their home turf in the Astral Plane, but on other planes they maintain steady surveillance, always on the lookout for githyanki plots to foil and crèches to exterminate. During a mission of this sort, the githzerai don't intentionally endanger the natural denizens of the plane, but they never compromise a planned attack on the githyanki just to protect innocent bystanders. In battling githyanki, the end justifies the means.

Githzerai sometimes employ mercenaries on the Material Plane to aid them in battling the githyanki, primarily to keep their enemies off-balance or to provide reinforcements. For those who need such enticement, they offer the promise of sharing the bounty of great treasures held by the githyanki.

Mind Flayers

Though they devote most of their military efforts to the constant campaign against the githyanki, the githzerai's enmity for the illithids is even older. On one thing the githyanki and the githzerai can agree: the mind flayers must pay for what they did to the gith eons ago.

As their means of vengeance against the mind flayers, the githzerai send bands of warriors called rrakkmas—illithid hunting parties—to other planes to do battle with any mind flayers they come across. It is in these circumstances that the natives of the plane most often encounter githzerai away from their monastery. With their attention focused only on their mission, the githzerai pay little heed to those around as long as they don't interfere with the hunt.

The Sha'sal Khou

The Sha'sal Khou is an organization of githyanki and githzerai radicals working toward the reunification of their peoples. They want to bring about the end of the warfare between the githyanki and githzerai and the creation of a new unified nation of all gith. Members of the Sha'sal Khou work secretly within their respective societies, subtly discouraging attacks on the other gith race while looking for signs of like-minded individuals who might be recruited. The group maintains hidden redoubts on the Material Plane as well.

The goal of the organization is to raise a proper army and establish a fortified enclave where children will grow up calling themselves simply "gith." The group's most high-ranking advocate in the githyanki hierarchy is a powerful warlord named Zetch'r'r. He secretly supports the reunification of the githyanki and the githzerai, and works behind the scenes to turn others toward the cause.

Gith Characters

At the DM's option, you can create a gith character, using the following traits.

Gith Random Height and Weight

unknown table

RaceBase HeightBase WeightHeight ModifierWeight Modifier
Githyanki5'0"100 lb.+2d12×(2d4) lb.
Githzerai4'11"90 lb.+2d12×(1d4) lb.

{@b Height} = Base Height + Height Modifier (in inches) {@b Weight} = Base Weight + Height Modifier (in pounds) × Weight Modifier

Gith Tables

This section provides tables for players and DMs who want to create githzerai and githyanki characters. {@b Githyanki}

Githyanki Names, Male

Githyanki Names, Male

Githyanki Names, Female

Githyanki Names, Female

Githyanki Personality Traits

Githyanki Personality Traits
1When I'm bored I make my own excitement, and I'm always bored.
2I treat others as if they were animals that simply don't know any better.
3Violence is a spice that makes life worth living.
4Old age is a concept that I find fascinating. Maybe someday I too will be aged.

Githyanki Ideals

Githyanki Ideals
1Fidelity. Warriors are only as good as the vows they keep.
2Power. The weak rule the strong.
3Duty. It is by Vlaakith's will alone that I act.
4Freedom. No strong soul should be enslaved. Better to die first than live as another's puppet.

Githyanki Bonds

Githyanki Bonds
1There is no greater duty than to serve the Revered Queen.
2Humanity thrives only because we conquered the illithids. Therefore, what is theirs is ours.
3Without battle, life has no purpose.
4Life is but a spark in the dark. We all go dark, but those who dare can burn bright.

Githyanki Flaws

Githyanki Flaws
1Hunger and thirst are unbearable pains to me.
2I can't see a non-githyanki as a real threat.
3I follow orders, regardless of their implications.
4I start projects but never finish them.

{@b Githzerai}

Githzerai Names, Male

Githzerai Names, Male

Githzerai Names, Female

Githzerai Names, Female

Githzerai Personality Traits

Githzerai Personality Traits
1All energy must be expended to a useful end. Frivolity is the first step to defeat.
2Patience in all things. The first step in any venture is the most treacherous.
3Emotions are a trap, meant to weaken the intellect and disturb the nerves. Pay them no heed.
4Begin only those tasks you will finish. Strike only that which you will kill.

Githzerai Ideals

Githzerai Ideals
1Faith. Zerthimon shall return, and I will be worthy to walk beside him.
2Courage. The mind can master anything if it is unfettered by fear.
3Duty. My people survive only because those like me place their needs above our own.
4Freedom. No strong soul should be enslaved. Better to die first than live as another's puppet.

Githzerai Bonds

Githzerai Bonds
1Zerthimon provides an example of conduct that I strive to duplicate.
2Menyar-Ag hand-picked me for my duties, and I will never betray the trust he showed in me.
3Vlaakith and her toadies will be defeated, if not by me then by those who follow in my footsteps.
4I will not rest until the last elder brain is destroyed.

Githzerai Flaws

Githzerai Flaws
1I see githyanki machinations behind every threat.
2I believe in the supremacy of the gith and that githzerai and githyanki will align to rule the multiverse.
3I respond to even minor threats with overwhelming displays of force.
4The next time I laugh will be the first. The sound of merriment takes me to the edge of violence.

Githyanki Raiding Parties

Use the following tables to generate a band of githyanki raiders and some additional details of their situation. Roll once on each line of the Group Composition table and once on each table that follows it.

In the tables, a name in bold refers to a stat block in the {@i Monster Manual.}

Dragon Chance

Dragon Chance
1-5No dragons
6Roll on the encounter to determine the number

Raiding Party Leader

Raiding Party Leader
1Githyanki Supreme Commander
2-3Githyanki Knight
4-5Githyanki Kith'rak
6Githyanki Gish

Githyanki Special Allies

Githyanki Special Allies
1-3No special Allies
4-5Githyanki Knights
6-7Knights and Gish
8-9Gish and Knights

Raiding Party Transport

Raiding Party Transport
d6Transport (with crew)
1-2One astral skiff carrying entire group
3-4Two astral skiffs, each carrying half of group
5Astral brig carrying entire group plus an additional 30 githyanki warriors
6Planar raider carrying entire group plus an additional 60 githyanki warriors

Githyanki Purpose of Raid

Githyanki Purpose of Raid
1-2Wanton destruction, the githyanki want to fight and loot to relieve their boredom
3Revenge, the githyanki seek a stolen silver sword
4-5Mind flayer hunt, the githyanki are seeking mind flayers and their thralls
6Vlaakith's orders, the githyanki have been dispatched to seize a specific item or person

Githzerai Groups

Use the following tables to generate a band of githzerai and determine their reason for being away from Limbo. Roll once on each line of the Group Composition table and once on each table that follows it.

In the tables, a name in bold refers to a stat block in the {@i Monster Manual.}

Githzerai Group Leader

Githzerai Group Leader
1Githzerai Anarch
2-3Githzerai Enlightened
4-6Githzerai Zerth

Githzerai Special Allies

Githzerai Special Allies
1-3The group has no allies
4-51d4 Zerths
61d4 githzerai enlightened
71d4 githzerai zerths, 1d4 githzerai enlightened
81 githzerai anarch, 1d4 githzerai enlightened

Githzerai Mission Purpose

Githzerai Mission Purpose
1Hunting a specific mind flayer colony
2Seeking news on mind flayer activity
3On a training mission, seeking to hone their skills and learn of the world
4Seek to ally with party on a raid against mind flayers

Halflings and Gnomes

Creatures of many races and cultures are embroiled in struggles that flare up across the multiverse. Other folk survive in the face of all this turmoil by keeping a low profile and avoiding the wars and other depredations that keep the outside world in a state of flux.

Halflings and gnomes are two groups that have survived by remaining largely unnoticed by the aggressive powers of the cosmos. Both races are exceptions in a multiverse wracked by conflict-peaceful folk who have found niches for themselves away from the battles and rivalries that fill the lives of the larger folk.


Anyone who has spent time around halflings, and particularly halfling adventurers, has likely witnessed the storied "luck of the halflings" in action. When a halfling is in mortal danger, it seems as though an unseen force intervenes. If a halfling falls off a cliff, her britches will snag on a root or a sharp outcrop of rock. If a halfling is forced by pirates to walk the plank, he will catch a piece of flotsam and use it to stay afloat until he is rescued.

Halflings believe in the power of luck, and they abide by a great number of superstitions that they believe bring good or ill fortune. They attribute their unusual gift to the favor of Yondalla, believing that, now and then, the divine will of the goddess tips the balance of fate in their favor (or gives it a hearty shove when the occasion warrants).

Naturally Innocent

Scholars, wizards, druids, and bards of other races have different ideas about how halflings escape peril, suggesting that by virtue of something in their nature, they occupy a special place in the multiverse.

One such hypothesis cites a legend that speaks of a document containing ancient elven writings-a series of essays spanning centuries. Among the many arcane and mundane topics addressed in this tome, the elves set down thoughts regarding the power of innocence. They recounted how they had long observed the halfling race, watching as the chaos of the world swept around them and left their villages untouched. While orcs, dwarves, and humans struggled, fought, and spilled blood to expand their territory, the elves noted that the halflings dwelled in a state of placid disregard, uncaring of the events of the world. They remarked on how the halflings enjoyed the simple pleasures of the moment, such as food and music, family, and friendship, and how they seemed to desire no more than that. The writers concluded that the halflings' seemingly innate ability to sidestep turmoil and ill fortune could in fact be a special boon of nature, in recognition of the value of protecting the halflings' worldview and to ensure that their unique place in the cosmos will be forever preserved.

Friendly to a Fault

Halflings easily warm to creatures of other races that don't try to do them harm, in large part due to the lack of guile that goes along with their innocent nature. Appearance doesn't matter; what counts is a creature's fundamental character, and if the halflings are convinced of a creature's good intentions, they respond well. Halflings would welcome an orc with a good heart into their company and treat it as politely they would as an elf visitor.

This openness doesn't extend all the way to naiveté. Halflings won't be taken in by merely a promise of good intentions, and their instinct for self-preservation makes them wary of any new "friend" that doesn't come across as genuine. Although they might not be able to define the feeling, halflings sense when something isn't quite right, keeping their distance from a questionable individual and advising others to do the same.

This aspect of the halfling mind-set accounts for what members of other races often characterize as courage. A halfling about to enter the unknown doesn't feel fear as much as wonderment. Instead of being frightened, the halfling remains optimistic, confident of having a good story to tell when it's all over. Whether the situation requires a rogue slipping into a dragon's den or the local militia repelling an orc attack by refusing to yield, halflings surprise larger folk again and again with their unflappable nature.

Happy with Today

Throughout recorded history, halflings have never sought to expand their reach beyond the borders of their isolated communities. They live their lives satisfied with what the world has to offer: fresh air, green grass, and rich soil. They grow all the food they need, taking pleasure in every poached egg and piece of toast. Halflings aren't known for great works of literature or elaborate written accounts of their history. Scholars who study their behavior speculate that halflings realize-consciously or otherwise-that the past is a story that can only be retold, not changed, and the future doesn't yet exist, so it can't be experienced. Only by living in the moment can one appreciate the wonder of being alive.

Halfling Superstitions

Halflings might perform the following actions, among many others, to ward off bad luck or to bring good fortune. Villages or even families might have superstitions observed by no one else, such as the following:

Life as a Halfling

On the surface, halflings seem to be simple folk, but those who have lived with them or who have had a halfling in their company know that there is much more to the lives of these small folk than meets the eye. The members of a halfling community have a set of shared values and purposes, whether they are tucked away in a hillside burrow or occupying a neighborhood of their own in a city or town dominated by another race.

Everything Has a Story

As do many other races, halflings enjoy accumulating personal possessions. But unlike with most other races, a halfling's idea of value has little if anything to do with monetary concerns. A typical halfling's most prized possessions are those that have the most interesting stories attached to them. Indeed, entering an elderly halfling's home is much like opening a book of tales. Every nook and cranny contains some quaint curio or another, and its owner is more than happy to tell the story of where it came from. A halfling who has retired after a life of adventuring might own mementos as diverse as a spoon from Sigil's Great Bazaar, a pan pilfered from an elven kitchen in Evermeet, a rake received as a gift from a svirfneblin mushroom tender in the Underdark, and the scale of a white dragon acquired from its lair.

Of course, most halflings' possessions aren't so exotic in origin. But even a stay-at-home halfling strives to collect everyday objects that played a significant role in an exciting story (such as "the rolling pin that Aunt Hattie used to chase away a bugbear" or "the shoes that Timtom wore when he escaped from the wolf"). Halflings believe that an item has a "spirit" of its own-the more dramatic or incredible its story, the stronger its spirit. This outlook prompts them to ask probing questions about the possessions of other folk they encounter-queries that can make them seem nosy to those who don't understand where they're coming from.

Keeping History Alive

The halflings' penchant for storytelling has another outlet, in the form of gatherings in which an elder holds court or several tale-tellers try to outdo one another as they pass on their experiences. Witnessing a halfling storytelling session is a rare treat for an outsider, for halfling elders can spin a yarn like no one else. A tale with all the trappings told by an elder can cause listeners to howl with laughter, long for home, sit on the edges of their seats, dream of far-off shores, choke up with emotion, or smile from ear to ear.

Some of the most often-told tales concern the origin of a halfling clan's name. Generally, such appellations come about because in the distant past, a halfling matriarch or patriarch performed a memorable feat or displayed some amazing skill that led to a name that stuck. Clans with evocative names such as the Cavecrawlers, the Hogtrotters, and the Fishskippers all have a story to be told about how they came to be.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Although halflings aren't reclusive by nature, they are adept at finding out-of-the-way places to settle in. It takes a combination of luck and persistence for an ordinary traveler to find such a place, and often that's not enough. For those who subscribe to the idea that Yondalla actively shields her worshipers from harm, this phenomenon is easily explained-she looks out for their homes just as she protects their lives. Whatever the reason, travelers might look for a halfling village, but they fail to notice a narrow path that cuts through the underbrush, or they find themselves traveling in circles and getting no closer to their goal. Rangers who have encountered halflings or lived among them know of this effect, and they learn to trust their other senses and their instincts rather than relying on sight.

A typical halfling village is a cluster of small, stone houses with thatched roofs and wooden doors, or burrows dug into hillsides with windows that look out onto gardens of flowers, beans or potatoes. Since a halfling community usually has less than a hundred members, cooperation is critical to their society, and each resident performs regular chores or offers benefits that support the population. One family might provide baked goods, while another one cobbles shoes or knits clothing. Generally, halflings in a village don't produce goods for sale to outsiders, but they do love to trade, especially with visitors who have interesting items to swap.

Life of Leisure

Halflings rarely consider leaving the security of their villages, because they already have all the comforts they could want-food, drink, laughter, family, friends, and the satisfaction of doing a good day's work. When all their necessities have been taken care of, halflings take it easy-and many of them find a way to turn idleness into an art form. Every halfling has a favorite spot for doing nothing-in the shade of a large stone, on the fringe of a sun-dappled meadow, or nestled in a comfy crook high in a tree. When they're not dozing off and dreaming of chasing butterflies, halflings spend time on simple creative activities, such as whittling a pipe from a branch, braiding yarn into a thick rope, or composing a jaunty tune on a second-hand mandolin.

Serious Business

The oldest members of a halfling community are its leaders, although that role has a special application. A clan's elders aren't authority figures in the traditional sense; they are respected, and their words are heeded, because of the stories they tell. Their best tales deliver practical knowledge within the framework of a mythic saga. An elder doesn't simply announce, "We must be always ready for a goblin attack." Instead, that advice is delivered in a story about how a village long ago turned back a goblin invasion, which both entertains the villagers and teaches them what to do if goblin raiders find the village.

For the most part, halflings aren't the targets of warring nations. Their villages are of little tactical value, nor are they likely to be coveted by evil wizards or to become the object of wrath for some dark force. The only enemies that a halfling village must watch for on an ongoing basis are roving bands of orcs or goblins, and the occasional hungry ogre or other solitary monster.

And, as halfling luck would have it, these incidents are so rare that a single one might be talked about for generations. In one village, the story of the ogre that ate Farmer Keller's billy goat is a cautionary tale that will be repeated and embellished for decades.

How the Fishskippers Got Their Name

Homes away from Home

An individual halfling or a family might leave its community behind for a number of reasons. A clan that is forced to relocate (perhaps because of invading creatures or a natural disaster) might decide to seek refuge or opportunity in a city or town, rather than trying to find another secluded spot in the wilderness.

A city or a large town is likely to have a halfling neighborhood already, meaning that newcomers have a place to go that they can call home. Often, they join other halflings who have set up shop and support whatever enterprises their new-found friends have created, making a living as storytellers, bakers, chefs, or shopkeepers.

Bad Apples

Although most halflings are energetic and jovial, as with any other race individuals among them can be dour or curmudgeonly, standoffish or suspicious. Such traits might appear in someone who ends up turning fully to the cause of evil-an event that is rare in the extreme, but has happened often enough that every community tells at least one story of this sort.

A halfling who turns evil usually severs all links to their family, friends, and village. Slowly, over time, halflings who pursue a dark path-especially those who break too many oaths or hurt other halflings along the way-lose the protection of Yondalla and the other halfling gods. Some say that the minds of these halflings eventually become twisted, and they turn into cruel, paranoid creatures wracked by misery and despair.

Halfling Gods and Myths

Halflings see their gods more as extended family members than as divine beings. They don't worship them in the same way as elves and dwarves revere their gods, because the halfling gods are viewed as folk heroes—mortal beings who ascended to divinity, rather than divine entities who descend from their realms to influence the world. Because of this outlook, halflings rarely worship a single deity exclusively; they revere all the gods equally and pay their respects in modest ways.

Halflings speak of Yondalla the way humans would describe a strong and protective parent. They talk about Brandobaris as others might refer to a mischievous and dashing uncle. They don't beseech the gods for daily favors, and they have no sense of metaphysical distance or separation between them and their gods. To halflings, their gods are part of the family. And as family members do, the gods set an example that is reaffirmed through the stories of their heroic deeds, with each tale helping to teach important lessons to the next generation.

The Halfling Deities table lists the members of the halfling pantheon. For each god, the table notes alignment, province (the god's main areas of interest and responsibility), suggested domains for clerics who serve the god, and a common symbol of the god. Each of the gods in the table is described below.

Halfling Deities

unknown table

DeityAlignmentProvinceSuggested DomainsCommon Symbol
ArvoreenLGVigilance, warWarCrossed short swords
BrandobarisNAdventure, thieveryTrickeryHalfling footprint
CharmalaineNKeen senses, luckTrickeryBurning boot print
CyrrollaleeLGHearth, homeLifeAn open door
Sheela PeryroylNGAgriculture, nature, weatherNature, TempestA flower
UrogalanLNEarth, deathDeath, Grave,* KnowledgeSilhouette of a dog's head
YondallaLGPrimary goddess of halflingsLifeCornucopia

{@i *Appears in Xanathar's Guide to Everything}


The story of Yondalla begins at the dawn of the world, when halflings were timid wanderers, scraping out a meager existence. The goddess Yondalla took note of them and decided to adopt the halflings as her people. She was a strong leader with a vision for her people, and she dedicated her life to gathering them together and protecting them. Over time, she elevated to godhood those halflings who were the most adept at the skills halflings needed to survive. Those legendary halflings comprise the rest of the pantheon.

Yondalla created the first halfling villages and showed the people how to build, plant, and harvest. She knew that the bounty of a halfling village would be tempting plunder for any brigand or monster, so she used her powers to conceal their homes from easy discovery, blending them into the landscape so that most travelers would pass by without a second glance.

To the halflings, Yondalla is responsible for the spring in their step and the bubbly excitement they feel from knowing that luck is on their side. When a pumpkin grows to enormous size or a garden yields twice as many carrots as usual, credit goes to Yondalla. When a halfling trips, slides down a hillside, and lands on a nugget of gold, that's Yondalla turning bad luck into good.


From time to time, halflings must fight to defend their friends or their village. In those moments, the tales of Arvoreen come to the fore in every halfling's memory. Every youth hears over and over again the stories of the hero's bravery and cunning, his clever tactics in battle, and his ability to use speed and smallness to defeat a much larger foe. The elders know that the world outside is dangerous and that their kin must understand how to deal with those dangers. Stories about Arvoreen are told in such a way that youngsters are inspired to act out his epic battles. In this way, the halflings get practical experience in executing measures that are designed to help the halflings defeat kobolds and goblin raiders, or even take down an ogre. When the time comes to put those tactics to use in earnest, everyone will be ready. Cooperation is a fundamental principle in how halflings fend off their enemies. Every community practices its own version of Arvoreen's favored tactics:


The halflings run in every direction as if in a panic, but then they regroup and circle back to attack with a concentrated effort.

Turtle Shell

Halflings cluster together and cover each other with shields, washtubs, wheelbarrows, coffer lids, or anything else that can deflect a blow.

Troll Knocker

A few halflings act as bait to lure a troll or other large creature into a clearing where the rest of the group can hurl stones at it from concealment to confuse the monster, persuading it to seek other prey.

Swarming Stickwhackers

Halflings rush an intruder in waves, swatting the enemy with sticks on all sides.

Fiddle and Crack

A halfling fiddler lures the monster into a trap, usually a net or a pit, followed by several burly halflings wielding large sticks and hitting the monster from a safe vantage.

Sheela Peryroyl

Every halfling village sets aside a place for paying respects to Sheela Peryroyl. In a grove of trees, a raspberry patch, or a swath of wildflowers, villagers leave a small offering whenever they walk by, or tip their caps, or whisper a blessing in her honor. A village counts itself lucky if this place is cared for by a druid. Creatures that attack a village under the protection of the god's druids soon learn the error of their ways when all manner of plants lash out to grapple and sting the intruders, as though nature herself were aiding the halflings' cause.

On nights when the moon is full, especially during the planting and harvesting seasons, the elders tell stories about Sheela Peryroyl. After becoming a hero though her glorious adventures, Sheela joined with the earth, fusing her spirit with the flowers, plants, and trees so she could better provide for her kin. A halfling who accidentally steps on a flower often says, "Begging your pardon, Sheela." Before halflings cut down a tree to use its wood for a new house, it is customary for them to stand before the tree with their caps doffed, humbly asking permission from Sheela to continue.


Charmalaine is an energetic and spontaneous deity, unafraid of danger, for she expects to be able to detect it as it approaches and evade it before it brings her harm. The stories of her accomplishments read like an adventurer's wildest dreams: she escaped from an army of sahuagin, solved the Chamber of a Thousand Traps, and took treasure from the lair of Tiamat. Halflings envision her as a young adult who moves so fast that her boots smoke and sometimes even catch fire. She carries a mace that has a head that shouts out warnings, and she is accompanied by her ferret friend, Xaphan.

Halflings sometimes call Charmalaine the Lucky Ghost because she can send her spirit out of her body to scout ahead, and thus she is able to warn halfling adventurers of danger while in her incorporeal form. Halflings who favor Charmalaine are usually adventurers or those who pursue other risky professions such as hunting, beast training, scouting, and guarding public officials.


Cyrrollalee embodies the spirit of friendship and hospitality that is part of every halfling's makeup and is represented by one's home and hearth. The home is a welcoming place, but it is also sacrosanct. Halflings honor Cyrrollalee by opening their homes to visitors, and by respecting the home of one's host as if it were one's own.

Every halfling village tells its version of the legendary tale of Cyrrollalee and the troll pies. Long ago, a large human town near Cyrrollalee's village was regularly attacked by a vicious troll. Warriors from the town hacked at the troll, but even its most dire wounds would heal, and the troll would come back again. One day Cyrrollalee presented herself at the town gate in apron and peasant clothes, and she offered to rid the town of the troll. The proud human warriors all scoffed at her, but the desperate mayor asked Cyrrollalee for her help.

So Cyrrollalee set all the people in the town to baking pies, but not just any pies. They were special troll pies. Into each one she put a pinch of magic to make them irresistible to trolls. While the warriors of the town grumbled and sharpened their steel, Cyrrollalee created an atmosphere of fun, bringing cheer to the frightened people as they worked. When the day was done, she set off with a cart full of pies and laid them in a tasty trail far up into the mountains. When the troll came near the town and found the trail, it began to gobble up pie after pie, following the delightful smells up the mountain path until it walked right into the lair of a young red dragon. The greedy troll was swiftly incinerated.

Cyrrollalee returned a hero, and from that day forward all the townsfolk remembered her with a word of thanks when baking pies.


Dashing trickster, patron of thieves, and star of fantastical fables and wild stories of adventure-that's the legacy of Brandobaris, the Master of Stealth. Stories of Brandobaris, full of artful trickery and narrow escapes, inspire many young halflings to play at roguish pursuits. In their imagination, a grain silo becomes a lofty wizard's tower to scale in search of treasures, or a rowboat becomes the setting for a swashbuckling adventure. And for some-the youngsters who are said to "have a bit of Brandobaris in them"-that play-acting is the prelude to a life of living as Brandobaris does: always on the lookout for the next challenge.

Brandobaris continues to wander in search of excitement, and now, as an ascended being, his travels span the planes of existence. His curiosity takes him to all corners of the multiverse in search of magical curios, rare treasures, and mystical puzzles. When Brandobaris moves stealthily, no mortal or god can hear his footfalls-an ability he uses not only for defense, but also to bestow unlooked—for treats upon those he favors.

Although he never seems to rest in his travels, Brandobaris always has time to reward halflings who dare to take risks and explore the world to make their own mark on it. He has been known to give a bit of aid to halflings in dire straits, turning them invisible for a time or intervening so that they can't be heard or tracked.


In ancient times the halfling hero Urogalan left his village with his faithful hound to venture into the afterlife-and then, much to the villagers' amazement, he returned. They could see that Urogalan had been deeply affected by his experiences, since he didn't speak for a long time. He merely sat in a white robe with his hound by his side, watching the world go by. When he did speak at last, he told of a place he called the Green Fields, where the halflings' god-heroes live alongside mortals who have passed on, enjoying lush farmland, bright sunshine, and all the comforts of home.

Urogalan declared that all who have gone before still watch over their loved ones from this place of eternal peace, sending messages to the material world. In acknowledgement of this assertion, halflings look for signs from their departed loved ones. One might be thinking about catching butterflies with his grandmother long ago, when suddenly a butterfly lands on his hand-clear evidence that, as Urogalan promised, she is still looking out for her grandson from beyond the veil of death.

As a divine being, Urogalan can move freely through the earth and across the planes of existence. He holds aloft a magic lantern that protects him on his journeys. With his black hound leading the way, Urogalan scours the multiverse and shepherds deceased halflings to their eternal home in the Green Fields.

Unlike other halfling deities, Urogalan is surrounded by a cloud of melancholy. He is gaunt, with his dusky skin covered by white robes. Priests who venerate Urogalan emulate this practice of dress and demeanor.

The Halfling Adventurer

Everything about halflings, from their small stature to their easy demeanor, makes them unlikely candidates for taking up a life of adventure away from home. Yet every generation produces a handful of exceptional individuals who defy conventional wisdom and seek their fortunes in the wider world.

Opinions vary on what compels some halflings to leave home and set off over the farthest hill to explore the unknown. The simplest explanation is that some folk are born with an over-abundance of curiosity. Some say that Arvoreen or Brandobaris is responsible for urging them on, and others point to the stories told by the elders that inspire some youngsters to take such risks. Whatever the reason, from time to time a halfling feels the call of adventure and sets off with a walking staff, a satchel, and a few biscuits. The first stop for many of these plucky souls is a faraway city where they hope to find some like-minded companions.

Fancy Feet

A halfling's potential for adventuring usually manifests early in life. When a child first wanders away from the village, seemingly by accident, or one day hops on a log and tries to set off down the river, the parents are concerned but not alarmed. They attribute these acts of rambunctiousness to Brandobaris's meddling, and almost all children outgrow this tendency to put themselves at risk. But if one persists in these antics, the other villagers say the youngster has "fancy feet."

The term refers to the persistent urge to wander beyond the boundaries of the community-activity that is in the purview of Brandobaris, who is said to have "the fanciest feet of all." Each village has its own way of coping with this phenomenon.

Some elders-especially those who once had fancy feet themselves-just shrug, smile, and say it is the way of things. Nevertheless, well-meaning villagers might try to dissuade a youngster from leaving the community. Other villages are much more supportive of one of their members who demonstrates the urge to adventure, likely because some of their elders have gone into the world and returned to tell about it. In one of these places, a youngster about to set out is celebrated with a rousing party that goes far into the night, during which the adventurer-to-be is regaled by tales of other "fancy-footed" heroes of halfling history.

Legends in the Making

Halflings who take up a life of adventure are emboldened by the stories told by their elders-tales of halfling heroes slinking through human cities, plundering dungeons laden with treasure, and being received in the hall of a dwarven king.

Each new would-be hero hopes to have adventures that merit exciting stories of their own, to inspire and delight new generations for years to come.

Of course, not every journey into the world involves risking one's life or claiming great riches. An adventure for a halfling could mean traveling with a caravan, sneaking on board a tall ship, serving as a messenger for a lord, or living with the dwarves for a few years as an apprentice. From the point of view of a halfling villager, going anywhere beyond home is an adventure, and anyone who does so must have a fine story or two to tell upon their return. Even on a dangerous mission, halflings find enjoyment all around them. If it's raining, a halfling is playing in the puddles; in a stiff wind, a halfling might fly a kite instead of seeking shelter.

Halflings of the Multiverse

In the worlds of DUNGEONS & DRAGONS, many kinds of halflings exist, and they vary greatly from place to place.

In the Forgotten Realms, halflings are of the lightfoot and strongheart varieties. Lightfoot halflings are taller and thinner than stronghearts, although "thinner" is a relative word by halfling standards. Lightfoots prefer to live on the move in traveling bands, and their members are most likely to take to a life of adventuring. Stronghearts are homebodies by nature, most of them likely to spend their lives tucked away in their secluded villages, and are also quite happy living in the communities of other races, working as farmers, innkeepers, cobblers and bakers.

In the Dragonlance setting, kender are the counterparts of halflings. Possessed of shorter life spans than their counterparts on other worlds, the kender have pointed ears and become wizened as they age. Great mimics and vocalists, kender are consummate storytellers, but they often speak too fast for other races not accustomed to their frenetic cadence.

Halflings in the world of Greyhawk live in underground burrows or small cottages in the grasslands or hills. They are lightly covered with hair over most of their bodies, especially on the backs of their hands and the tops of their feet, and they rarely wear shoes. The three subraces are the hairfeet, which are the most numerous; the tallfellows, which are the tallest and least athletic of the halflings, somewhat resembling elves; and the stouts, which are more akin to dwarves in temperament and stature than the other two.

On the world of Athas in the Dark Sun setting, halflings are feral creatures, prone to devouring the flesh of humans and elves. Small, furtive and sun­bronzed, they live a hard life under their chief, eking out a savage existence by hunting, foraging, and raiding. Outside their tribe, halflings are mistrusting, cynical, and often paranoid, since they think that all other races are as fond of devouring humanoids as they are.

Halfling Tables

This section provides a number of tables useful for players and DMs who want to choose or randomly generate details about halfling characters or villages.

Halfling Personality Traits

Halfling Personality Traits
d6Personality Trait
1You try to start every day with a smile.
2Why walk when you can skip?
3You make up songs about your friends that praise them for their bravery and intelligence.
4You are extremely cautious, always on the lookout for monsters and other dangers.
5You always see the bright side of a situation.
6You like to collect mementos of your travels.

Halfling Ideals

Halfling Ideals
1Courage. You seek to prove that the bravest heart can be contained within the smallest of packages.
2Companionship. You're pretty sure you can be friends with anyone or anything.
3Hopeful. You will live a life of adventure and have many stories to tell.
4Protective. You make sure to shelter the innocent.
5Honest. Your mother told you to always tell the truth.
6Excitement. Can you steal the sleeping giant's pouch? Of course you can!

Halfling Bonds

Halfling Bonds
1The safety of your village is worth any sacrifice.
2Nothing is more valuable than friendship and family.
3You are following your own path through life. No one can tell you what to do.
4You have a special heirloom that you never part with.
5You won't rob or hurt those who are weaker or less fortunate than you.
6No matter how small you may be, you won't back down from a bully.

Halfling Flaws

Halfling Flaws
1You can't resist poking your nose where it doesn't belong.
2You are very fidgety. Sitting still is a major challenge.
3You can't pass up a good time.
4You hate to miss a meal, and become grumpy and ill­tempered when you must.
5You are fascinated by shiny things and can't help "borrowing" them.
6You never settle for just one slice when you can have the whole cake.

Reasons for Adventuring

Reasons for Adventuring
1Peeling taters and herding goats all the time wasn't your cup of tea.
2You fell asleep on a raft one day and woke up near a human city. You were so thrilled with the strange sights and tasty food that you never turned back.
3What started off as simple pumpkin pillaging from nearby farms turned into your becoming a wandering rogue for hire.
4You talked to a nice faerie in the woods, and all of a sudden you were a thousand miles from home.
5Your village elder told you so many stories about being a rogue in an adventuring party that you couldn't resist the urge to try doing it yourself.
6A friend dared you to jump on the back of a sleeping horse, which turned out to be a pegasus, and your life hasn't slowed down since.


Love of discovery is the force that drives the life of a gnome, whether one is investigating the nature of magic or trying to invent a better back scratcher. Questions about the world fill a gnome's head: how an insect flies, a fish swims, or a grasshopper jumps-they want to figure it all out! But it's not just nature and its workings that intrigue them; gnomes become obsessed with all sorts of topics. In particular, they have a keen interest in mechanical devices, the natural world, and magical pursuits; a gnome might seek to invent a new garden tool, collect and categorize every type of butterfly, or develop a new method for cutting gemstones.

Drinking Deeply of Life

A gnome is rarely bored and tries to savor every minute, for life is full of opportunities to learn, to help others, and to have fun.

Gnomes are born with a fascination for learning fueled by an irrepressible curiosity. Most individuals settle on a specialized area of study such as an aspect of the natural world, a particular method of invention, or the patterns that underlie the multiverse.

Though this pursuit of knowledge might compel a gnome to spend long periods in the workshop or the laboratory, the activity is never seen as drudgery-quite the opposite. Gnomes enjoy making an unexciting aspect of life more enjoyable, such as inventing a shovel that whistles a tune to lighten the toil of digging, or creating a telescoping fork that can reach across the table to enliven mealtime.

Their fun-loving attitude also comes through in the form of jokes that gnomes tell to, or about, their companions, and in the good-spirited pranks that they play on each other-and on other folk (who might not always appreciate being the target of their humor).

The Journey Is the Destination

Gnomes aren't overly goal-oriented as they pursue their interests. To them, the journey and the destination are one and the same, and an achievement at the end of one journey is merely the first step toward the next accomplishment.

Even though failure, disappointment, and dead ends are recurring obstacles on the path to discovery, gnomes revel in the search. They savor the acquisition of new knowledge, realizing it might come at a cost, and even a series of bad results in experiments doesn't dissuade a gnome from following their chosen path.

Rock Gnomes

A visitor's first steps into a rock gnome warren are accompanied by the sounds of industry-hammers rapping on metal, chisels chewing wood, cauldrons bubbling, and a host of assorted squeaks, pings, and whistles. Against this backdrop, the halls echo with the voices of rock gnome inventors jabbering at near unintelligible speed about their latest ideas, and the hubbub is occasionally punctuated by a big bang or the abrupt collapse of some unstable contraption.

To rock gnomes, life is a combination of scavenger hunts and periods of bold experimentation. First they mine materials from within the earth, and then they figure out what they can create or invent using those resources. The discovery of a new vein of metal-whether tin, copper, silver, or gold-makes rock gnomes clap their hands with glee, but they are happiest of all when they find a cache of gems, particularly diamonds.

Individual rock gnomes have different ideas about what sorts of inventions are the most satisfying to create, with some favoring practicality and others more interested in artistic expression. In each group, there are those who prefer to practice the alchemical arts and those whose talents lean toward the creation of mechanical devices. Every warren has members of each persuasion, and they are all bound by mutual respect for what they do despite their different perspectives.

Practical Makes Perfect

Rock gnomes who take a more scientific approach to inventing are the ones responsible for creating technological devices that make life easier. Even an invention as simple as a new kind of rake is celebrated, and that advance might later be superseded by someone who modifies it in a way that makes it more efficient or more enjoyable to use.

These inventors are rarely reluctant to try making devices of exceptional power, even if one might not work at first the way it was intended to. The gnomes know that it's always possible for someone else to learn from an inventor's mistakes, so even a failed experiment is a success in some way. Every minor explosion or other incident of turmoil in a rock gnome burrow serves as a clue about what not to do next time-unless, of course, the goal was to make something explode.

Celestial Toymakers

A handful of master artificers exist among the rock gnomes who take the magic of their craft to new heights. These legendary gnomes usually reside in Bytopia and on other planes far from the Material Plane, locales where they can access and harness powerful energies. They have unlocked secrets of the multiverse that enable them to fashion mind­boggling creations-their so­called "celestial toys."

These master artificers are friendly to those who seek them out. They enjoy showing off their works and take great glee in watching visitors interact with their toys, while they scribble notes on how to refine their creations.

Celestial toys can do just about anything. Many of these objects have properties not unlike those of wondrous items, such as a toy that can increase an ability score or one that can show happenings on other planes.

For Beauty's Sake

Imagination runs wild in the mind of a gnome. Any fresh idea can be the starting point for a new journey of experimentation and discovery. Even though rock gnomes appreciate the practical aspects of their endeavors, they also find satisfaction in creating items that have no true usefulness. Many an invention is celebrated just for being beautiful to behold or for being complex and intricate in its construction, and the artists who create such things are as esteemed as those who specialize in designing tools.

Exploration is a part of invention, as the gnomes see it, so there's nothing wrong with creating machines and artifacts that seem to have no purpose. The gnomes who produce these works of art are using new ideas and new approaches, breaking through old boundaries and advancing the frontier of knowledge. For instance, an artist might create a beautiful articulated sculpture whose pieces can be manipulated in a unique way. Another artisan might take that idea and apply it to a new form of invention-but no one forgets that it was the artist's idea that blazed the trail for that journey.


Rock gnome alchemists explore the nature of minerals and chemicals, curious to see what happens when they mix certain substances with other compounds or with raw magic. Most alchemists, even those who busy themselves with experimentation and new ideas, can produce a number of useful substances, such as alchemist's fire, antitoxin, super slippery goo, stone melting compound, stirge repellent, and glow-in-the-dark paint.


Rock gnome artificers construct exquisitely tooled and enameled pieces of machinery, often weaving magical properties into their work. Artificers often develop a reputation for a particular style and type of work. For example, a friendly gnome artificer might create lovable mechanical pets and companions, while a grumpy gnome might make snapping critter constructs with sharp teeth and claws. Gnome artificers can become famous, with their works highly sought after by nobles, wizards, and other collectors.

An artificer's inventions might include items such as a lock box that opens with a verbal command or a series of gestures, a clockwork critter designed to respond to simple commands, or a common magic item (such as those introduced in {@i Xanathar's Guide to Everything).}

Tunnel Vision

When they are at work, rock gnomes hole up in their workshops with "Do Not Disturb" signs hung on the door. It isn't uncommon for gnomes who are working on their projects to spend most of their time in seclusion, and even when they emerge (for meals or other reasons), they are often deep in thought and oblivious of their surroundings. In the safety of the burrow, they seldom come to harm because of this vulnerability. But even city-dwelling gnomes can fall prey to this sort of obsession as they pursue their projects, and in such cases it's much safer for them to stay in their homes, since a gnome wandering the streets deep in thought is liable to walk into a moat or be run over by a wagon.

Tinker Gnomes

On the world of Krynn in the Dragonlance setting, rock gnomes take invention to extreme heights and are known for being purveyors of madcap mayhem. Despite losing body parts or gaining scars from various accidents, nothing stops the tinker gnomes' insatiable quest to experiment and discover.

Go Big or Go Home

The creations of tinker gnomes range from the ridiculous to the dangerous. They love to push the art of invention beyond its limits, and to explore the instability of volatile materials. They cackle with glee after an ear­splitting bang, and jump and cavort amid lethal sprays of lightning. Though it might be bizarre and unusual, a working tinker gnome creation is a rare thing, and highly prized. Such inventions include the following:

Fail Often, Fail Happy

These inventors are delighted by every explosion, every melted mess, and every heap of smoking wreckage. Failure is part of the eventual solution and something to be celebrated. A truly epic failure might be cause for a great celebration in the community.

Forest Gnomes

As the companions of nature and its animals, forest gnomes learn from their surroundings as if from a master teacher. They evade incursions into their wooded realm by great numbers of humans and other races, but they aid individuals and small groups whom they deem worthy of their help. They create lovely gardens, organic sculptures, and wondrous emerald jewelry-that precious green stone being their favorite of all gems.

Forest gnome settlements often escape notice. Roving hunters can wander through without ever suspecting they are walking through anything but wilderness. A community of elves might be surprised to discover they have been neighbors of a forest gnome village for years.

Forest gnomes are good at making their homes vanish into the landscape. It helps that they are small folk, and that they fashion their homes by digging down and living within rather than building up and living above. Like the badgers and raccoons that are often their companions, they live in the hollows of trees and warrens dug into hillsides, each home connected to the others in the community by elaborate burrows.

Beyond the secret doors into their houses, the homes of forest gnomes are gaily decorated, tidy spaces that take advantage of natural features. A great glass bowl swimming with fish and frogs might serve as a skylight for a gnome burrow, while appearing to the world above as a small pond. The gnarled and tangled roots of a tree might be used for shelves, seats, tables, and bed spaces. Such houses often have many little channels open to the outside, allowing scraps of sunlight to dapple the walls and floors and providing a means of egress for the many animals that live with the gnomes. Similar small openings are used for their cleverly hidden chimneys, disguised as tree branches, which carry smoke from their small fires high into the treetops, reducing it to little more than a haze before it disperses.

Animal Helpers

Forest gnomes can communicate with many of the small animals of the woods. Squirrels, raccoons, foxes, weasels, owls, rabbits, robins, hummingbirds, and more are their allies and friends. Outsiders often think of these creatures as the gnomes' pets, but the gnomes treat them more like trusted neighbors.

When strangers approach a woodland inhabited by forest gnomes, the gnomes often know about it while such visitors are still miles away. Speedy squirrels run through the treetops, each trying to be the first to warn the gnomes and earn a sweet treat.

Birds trill a special call that alerts the gnomes to danger. At night, nocturnal animals such as owls and bats carry word to the gnomes during times when they should be on their guard.

Experts in Illusion

Forest gnomes have innate magical ability, letting them create simple illusions. They practice the use of illusion magic from an early age. Most forest gnome communities include a full-fledged illusionist and an apprentice or two, and they use their talents in service of the community-designing longer-lasting or larger-scale illusions that help the community stay hidden from the world.

Gnomes use illusions for practically any reason-as a game, for defense, or for communication-and sometimes for no reason other than artistic considerations. A simple illusion can often express a complex idea, such as when the memory of a location is triggered by the illusory sound of a babbling brook that runs through the place. A storytelling session conducted by a group of forest gnomes is a riot of sounds and images that helps give meaning and intensity to the tale being told. It is a kind of entertainment unfathomable by most other races, whose stories and performances are limited by whatever materials are on hand.

The forest gnomes' playful nature shows through in the illusions they create, even those that have a serious purpose. (An illusion that conceals the entrance to a tunnel by making it look like solid earth might not amuse other folk, but the gnomes get a good laugh out of it.) Forest gnomes spend their spare time experimenting with the creation of never-before-seen illusions, or embellishing the images and sounds they already know how to produce.

The number of ways in which forest gnomes use illusions to have fun is nearly limitless. A few examples: visual enhancements to a mythic tale told by an elder, new and interesting sounds, and false doors and hallways to fool intruders and lead them into traps. (Goblins just can't pass by a door that calls them names.)

Deep Gnomes

Deep gnomes, or svirfneblin, are the pragmatic and often grumpy cousins of the gnome family, who live deep underground. The Underdark is full of danger, meaning that deep gnomes spend much of their time simply staying alive. They endure this life because the Underdark also holds incredible treasures: minerals and gemstones, gold, silver, and platinum. The svirfneblin mine these materials whenever they find a new deposit-especially rubies, which they prize above all other treasure. The svirfneblin do take pleasure from success in these mining operations. A thin smile emerges from the stonelike features of a deep gnome who finds a truly remarkable gem, and such a discovery lightens the mood in the enclave for a time.

Hidden but Homey

Deep gnomes protect their enclaves with labyrinthine tunnels, traps, and armed guards, all designed to make the entrance to a settlement uninviting. But inside its borders, a deep gnome settlement is a warren shaped and decorated by the svirfneblin to make the place welcoming and comfortable.

Although they are skilled stonemasons, svirfneblin appreciate the beauty of natural stone and prefer either to carve to accentuate its features or to leave it unchanged. Their architecture is marked by smooth, curving shapes rather than straight lines and hard edges.

Svirfneblin are intensely community-minded and have little concern about privacy among themselves. Thus, they don't close off living spaces with doors or window coverings. Most of their homes are sparsely furnished dwellings of one or two rooms. Bed spaces, often carved into the cavern walls, are strung with hammocks for each inhabitant, but often are otherwise empty except for stone coffers holding a few personal effects.

Elminster calls gnomes the Forgotten Folk-an apt name for them in most worlds. I've walked many realms, and nary a one has even a hint of a gnome nation.

Gnome Gods

It shouldn't be surprising that gnomes, inveterate inventors that they are, have an incredible number of legends they tell about their deities. Every warren has its unique repertoire of tales-some of them no doubt grounded in fact, while others could be the products of imagination. The distinction isn't important to the folk who take inspiration and pride from the stories of their gods, because each legend is true in its own way.

Each deity in the gnome pantheon is an expert in multiple fields of activity who is capable of incredible feats. Yet these heroes also display shortcomings, such as hesitance or selfishness. Only the chief gnome deity, Garl Glittergold, can convince the others to set aside personal concerns to embark on a grand excursion or to work together toward a common goal. And according to the gnomes, it is proven that their gods can accomplish the impossible when they band together.

Perhaps because of each community's particular outlook or because the gods frequently use illusory guises, several diverse ideas exist about the membership of the pantheon. In some communities, the gods are thought to be all male or all female; in some they are animals, or constructs made by Garl Glittergold. Some gnomes say Garl has five allies, while others tally eleven.

A consensus of sorts emerges from the totality of these beliefs. Most gnomes believe that Garl Glittergold and his seven able assistants dwell on, in, or under seven summits known as the Golden Hills. This is the place from where new gnomish souls are sent out to experience the wider world, and to which they return to join the hallowed community of those who have come before them. Urdlen is the only gnome deity that doesn't dwell there, having been exiled by Garl for its refusal to cooperate with the rest of the group.

The Gnome Deities table lists the members of the gnome pantheon. For each god, the table notes alignment, province (the god's main areas of interest and responsibility), suggested domains for clerics who serve the god, and a common symbol of the god. Several of the gods in the table are described below.

Gnome Deities

Gnome Deities
DeityAlignmentProvinceSuggested DomainsCommon Symbol
Baervan WildwandererNGWoodlandsNatureFace of a raccoon
Baravar CloakshadowNGIllusion, deceptionArcana,** TrickeryDagger against a hooded cloak
BlereddNLabor, craftForge,* LightIron mule
Callarduran SmoothhandsNMining, stone carvingKnowledge, NatureGolden signet ring with six­ pointed star
Flandal SteelskinNGMetalwork Forge,*KnowledgeFlaming hammer
Gaerdal IronhandLGProtectionWarIron band
Garl GlittergoldLGPrimary god of gnomesTrickeryGold nugget
Gelf DarkhearthCNFrustration, destructionWarBroken anvil
NebelunCGInvention, luckForge,* Knowledge, TrickeryBellows and lizard tail
Rill CleverthrushLNLaw, thoughtKnowledgeInterlocking gears
Segojan EarthcallerNGEarth, the deadGrave,* LightGlowing gemstone
Sheyanna FlaxenstrandCGLove, beauty, passionLightTwo silver goblets
UrdlenCEGreed, murderDeath, WarWhite­clawed mole emerging from ground

Garl Glittergold

When gnome children hear their first stories about the gods, they are introduced to a gold-skinned gnome with a wide grin and glittering gemstone eyes that shift colors like a kaleidoscope. The youngsters quickly learn to recognize that their favorite character, the god of the gnomes, is about to steal the show.

A joker and a prankster, Garl Glittergold reminds gnomes that life is to be taken lightly, and that a good laugh will serve them better than a grim attitude. When Garl cavorts with mischief on his mind, Moradin's beard might end up woven with giggling flowers, and Gruumsh's axe could sprout braying donkey heads at the most inopportune time.

Cooperation Is Key

The legends about Garl Glittergold inspire gnomes to work together. Garl knows that many heads and many hands make light work. Although he also plays many pranks on his own, Garl is the one who gathers the heroes together for an enterprise that requires all their talents. To provide specific guidance, Garl might send an omen to nudge a group of gnomes in a certain direction, or even manifest an avatar in the middle of a gnome burrow. When Garl makes one of these rare appearances, it is to resolve a dispute that threatens a community.

Brains over Brawn

Garl favors trickery and illusion over direct combat, preferring to use his mind to overcome a problem rather than his steel. For gnomes to thrive, they must use their intellect and ingenuity. But when push comes to shove, Garl uses Arumdina, his intelligent two-headed battle axe-capable of cleaving through any substance-to escape a perilous situation.

Kobolds: Enemies Forever

Kobolds and gnomes have been foes for as long as either group can remember, all because of a brilliant prank that Garl Glittergold played on Kurtulmak, the kobold deity.

In a long­ago age, as one version of the story goes, the kobolds were used as slaves by evil dragons, much as they are today-forced to scrub the scales of their masters, clean their lairs, and stack the gold in their treasure hoards. One kobold, Kurtulmak, was arguably the craftiest of all kobolds. He sought other creatures to do the work in the kobolds' stead, and found a suitable victim in the gnomes. Because they were less aggressive than their tormentors, the gnomes fell under the sway of Kurtulmak's horde of kobolds.

But Garl Glittergold proved to be a thorn in Kurtulmak's scaly side. The merry prankster irritated, bamboozled, confounded, and exasperated the kobold god while freeing large groups of gnomes from his clutches. When Kurtulmak's patience wore out after several of these embarrassments, he declared an oath to bring death to all gnomes.

To keep his nemesis from doing him harm, Garl tricked Kurtulmak into chasing him into a maze of caves by singing mocking songs and cavorting in a way that he knew especially infuriated Kurtulmak. Once the kobold god was deep in the maze, with a glittering wink and a snap of his fingers, Garl collapsed the system of caverns on Kurtulmak, trapping him deep underground for all time. To this day, kobolds seek out gnomes for retribution at every opportunity.

Baervan Wildwanderer

Baervan Wildwanderer is the god of the forests and of those who travel, a peaceful soul whose explorations often turn into exciting adventures. Baervan's constant companion is Chiktikka Fastpaws, a mischievous giant raccoon who often gets the duo into trouble. Although Baervan isn't as much of a prankster as some of the other gods, she is often held responsible when Chiktikka does something outrageous, such as stealing Gruumsh's breakfast or peeing on Rillifane Rallathil's shoes.

Baervan can sing every bird's song, knows every type of plant that has ever grown, never gets lost, and can befriend anyone under the sun (as long as Chiktikka chooses to act pleasant rather than annoying). Forest gnomes believe that they can speak to the animals of the woods and on the wing because Baervan teaches their souls how to do so before they are born.

Baravar Cloakshadow

When gnomes arrived in the world, Baravar protected them by teaching them how to hide, use magic, and deceive their foes. She was once entrapped by the goblin god Khurgorbaeyag, and after escaping and gaining her revenge, she began the practice of never wearing the same face twice, and she follows a different routine every day so no one can predict what she might do. When gnomes tell stories of their gods' adventures, Baravar is always the last to be found when the group forms, but she nevertheless swiftly agrees to support Garl's plans.

Forest gnomes and deep gnomes owe their innate magical abilities to Baravar, and all gnomes get their natural defense against magic from her shrewdness.

Callarduran Smoothhands

Callarduran became the patron of the deep gnomes when he led them into the Underdark and taught them how to survive, but all gnomes see him as the embodiment of the drive to know more, to examine everything more minutely-and thereby make great discoveries.

Callarduran earned his moniker when, after stealing the heart of Ogrémoch, he rubbed his hands smooth as he polished the heart and turned it into a magical stone. The theft caused Ogrémoch to turn to evil, but it gave Callarduran the power to control earth elementals—which, it is said, he can confer to deep gnomes by rubbing the stone and saying their names.

Flandal Steelskin

The stories that gnomes tell of Flandal Steelskin typically feature some perfect item that he crafted or a misadventure that results from following his enormous nose, which can smell ore more easily than a wolf can scent a skunk. The most often told legend of Flandal includes both elements. Before creating Garl's marvelous axe, Arumdina, Flandal sniffed out the purest source of mithral: the heart of Imix. With the aid of the other gnome gods, he stole the heart and turned it into a mithral forge that now burns with an eternal furious flame.

The legends of Flandal portray him not only as the god of metalcraft, but also of fire and glass-work and alchemy. Rock gnomes attribute their knack for crafting devices and alchemical objects to Flandal's superlative skills in those areas.

Gaerdal Ironhand

The Shield of the Golden Hills, Gaerdal Ironhand, has no use for amusements, and she doesn't deign to smile at any prank except those of Garl Glittergold. Gaerdal obsesses about defense and vigilance, and she is an expert in fortification, siege tactics, combat, and traps.

Instead of bustling about as gnome deities normally do, Gaerdal has a tendency to dig in and hide out, and in many tales Garl finds it difficult to convince her to leave her home to join the others on adventures. Some legends say this reluctance is due in part to an escapade that cost her the loss of her hand. Flandal and Nebelun worked together to replace it with a stronger one made of iron, but her resentment over the mishap lingers.

Gnomes build their homes in hidden and defensible places because Gaerdal teaches them these techniques. Every secret door, spy hole, and intruder alarm in a gnome warren is a tribute to Gaerdal's principles.


Nebelun, also known as the Meddler, is fearless, perhaps foolishly so. Every invention of Nebelun's starts with a wild idea, nothing goes entirely according to plan, and her greatest exploits often spring from mistakes. Who else would stroll in and steal Semuanya's tail as the lizardfolk god splashed in his favorite pool? Who else would use Thor's hammer to pound a nail and thus be inspired to invent the lightning rod? Garl never needs to persuade Nebelun to join an excursion, but he and the rest of the pantheon do have to focus her attention on the task at hand, so that her madcap inventiveness doesn't derail the effort.

All gnomes see Nebelun as the delightful spirit of invention and discovery, even those whose livelihoods have nothing to do with the construction of odd devices. Any accident that fortuitously results in a new discovery might be credited to Nebelun's benevolent meddling in the affairs of mortal gnomes.

Segojan Earthcaller

The gnomes know Segojan Earthcaller as a kind, modest hero. He is said to be the best cook among the gnome gods and to have the power to heal any sickness, because he knows the medicinal and culinary uses of every creature and plant that lives underground. During the misadventures of the gnome pantheon, Segojan contributes to the group through his healing abilities and the restorative power of his meals, and on many occasions the other gnome gods call upon him to use his ability to burrow through any substance.

Forest gnomes believe that their ability to speak with burrowing animals comes from Segojan. All gnomes see Segojan as a healer of the sick and a protector of the hearth. He is also revered in his role as a guide for gnomish souls after death, as long as the body is buried before worms claim it. If a gnome's body isn't entrusted to Segojan by interring it, the soul is forced to find its own way to the afterlife.


Many pantheons include in their number a miscreant or an outlier-someone not to be emulated in the customary way, and often an entity whose existence serves as an object lesson and an example of what befalls mortals who conduct themselves the same way. For the gnomes, this niche is filled by Urdlen, also known as the Glutton for its selfish and cruel behavior.

Though the details differ from telling to telling, all gnomes know the story of how Garl banished Urdlen from the Golden Hills because Urdlen refused to go on an important quest. Despite Garl's efforts and the pleas of the rest of the pantheon, Urdlen selfishly refused to set his own interests aside and contribute to the group. Every version of this story ends in some sort of tragedy-perhaps the loss of Gaerdal's hand, the affliction that caused Flandal to need new skin, or the disappearance of Baravar's shadow-and each one concludes with "And that is why Garl sent Urdlen into exile." In tales of his later life, Urdlen is no longer a gnome but has become a greedy and destructive monster, a great blind and hairless mole with iron claws and teeth.

Gnomes believe that Urdlen exerts influence on their lives when they experience jealousy, greed, petulance, or envy. Individuals are more likely to fall prey to these feelings when they don't spend enough time in activities with others, and so tales of Urdlen serve as a somber reminder of the importance of participating in society.

Gifts from the Gods

The gnome gods enjoy traveling about the multiverse in the guise of ordinary gnomes. Those who offer them aid or treat them with respect might receive a modest token of appreciation in return. Sometimes the deity reveals itself before giving the gift, and sometimes the item simply appears on the recipient's pillow or in a loot sack. Typical gifts include a golden whistle that can mimic any bird song, a clockwork beetle made of silver that can fly and obey simple commands, and a seed that, when planted, grows into a miniature fruit tree and bears fruit within a few hours.

The Golden Hills

Seven hills set in a ring on Dothion, the more pastoral half of the plane of Bytopia, are the homes of the gnome gods. Each one of the Golden Hills, described below, is the domain of a certain deity, except for Callarduran, who dwells deep beneath them all in a set of caverns called Deephome:


Garl's hill is no larger than the rest, but it glows more brightly than the others beneath the light of the eternal sunset that gives the place its name. Yet the true "glitter" lies inside-treasures from Garl's many adventures, displayed in a hall tiled with gemstones.

The Mithral Forge

Mines containing every kind of mineral run throughout Flandal's hill, which also features tunnels that lead to large ore deposits on other planes. When Flandal is at work, the whole hill vibrates to the rhythm of his hammer working at the forge for which his hill is named.

The Hidden Knoll

Baravar conceals the entrance to her hill with illusions and riddles, never allowing any who visit her to enter twice by the same way. Those who persevere through her trickery to discover her inner sanctum might be rewarded with a treasure.


This hill takes its name from the impossibly large oak tree that grows from its top and spreads out to shade much of its slopes. Even when Baervan and Chiktikka aren't present in their cottage at the base of the tree, its boughs and roots and the grassy slopes of the hill are always alive with mischievous animals.


Gaerdal's home is a fortress that contains a confounding maze of tunnels, designed to defy any attempt to invade or infiltrate. Gaerdal, ever watchful for any threat to the Golden Hills, is almost always inside, not to be found unless she wills it so.

The Gemstone Burrow

A small round door just below the summit of Segojan's hill opens onto a network of tunnels and burrows, illuminated by brilliant gems. All sorts of burrowing creatures live peaceably with gnomish souls here.

The Workshop

Nebelun's hill is festooned inside and out with structures and contraptions of mysterious purpose in various stages of completion. Only the Meddler can say how she plans for any of these inventions of hers to work. From time to time she gifts one of them to a worthy follower, promising that its use will bring success-but offering no guarantee that it will function the way it was supposed to.

Gnome Adventurers

When a gnome leaves the burrow, the force behind that decision is almost always curiosity-an insatiable need to seek out and experience what the world has to offer. Sometimes the adventuring life is the natural outgrowth of a gnome's research project or experiment. A rock gnome alchemist who discovers a new form of fungus growing in a nearby cavern might wander farther afield from the burrow, looking for knowledge about other fungi in the world. A forest gnome who hears about a master illusionist in a faraway realm could embark on a journey to find that person and learn new tricks. A rock gnome artificer might become determined to locate any deposits of a rare metal, willing to travel the world high and low in search of it. Even a deep gnome might be born with an irrepressible urge to leave the Underdark and join a group to pursue a life of shared purpose.

Some gnome communities make a practice of sending young adults away from the burrow as a rite of passage, encouraging them to explore the realms of humans, dwarves, and elves for a time, with instructions to bring back information and new ideas for the community. Most of these folk return to the burrow at the appointed time or even sooner, their curiosity having been satisfied. But a few of them take readily to life in the outside world and don't come back on schedule, returning to the burrow only after spending years or decades away as a member of an adventuring party.

The Pull of the Stars

Because of their extensive travels, gnome adventurers often become fascinated with the grandeur of the cosmos as seen in the motion of the stars across the sky. They view the cosmic array as a giant machine of wonderful complexity-a banquet for a curious gnomish mind. Many renowned astronomers, wizards, and extraplanar travelers are gnomes, having undertaken those disciplines in the hope of better understanding the workings of the multiverse.

A Gnome's Role

Gnomes are valuable members of an adventuring party for a number of reasons, derived from both their innate abilities and their unique mind-set.

Possessed of higher intelligence than most other races, a gnome can be an important source of knowledge, and can devise solutions for many problems an adventuring party encounters. A rock gnome rogue on a dungeon expedition, if not lost in thought, can steer a party clear of many obstacles. Even the most complex magical or mechanical traps can be disarmed by a rock gnome who takes pride in solving difficult puzzles.

A forest gnome's skills are invaluable in the wilderness. Forest gnomes can spot subtle tracks, uncover clues that others would miss, and locate the safest path. Their illusion magic taunts, deludes, and terrifies enemies at the same time it delights their friends.

Forest gnomes and rock gnomes also contribute to a party by being a source of optimism and levity. Even in the worst circumstances, a gnome can find something to be hopeful for-an attitude that is infectious and thus can keep the group from falling into despair.

A deep gnome, pragmatic and cautious, brings a sense of duty rather than a sense of humor to an adventuring group. With their grit and iron will, deep gnomes meet adversity with hammers, picks, and their dour, dry wit—or no wit at all—as their weapons of choice.

Deep Gnome Characters

At the DM's discretion, you can play a deep gnome character. When you choose the subrace of your gnome, you can choose deep gnome, using the following rules to create your character.

Gnome Tables

This section provides several tables useful for players and DMs who want to create gnome characters.

Gnome Personality Traits

Gnome Personality Traits
d6Personality Trait
1Once you develop a liking for something, you quickly become obsessed with it.
2You live life like a leaf on the breeze, letting it take you where it will.
3The world is a miraculous place, and you are fascinated by everything in it.
4You study your friends and take notes about how they act, jotting down things they say that interest you.
5Your curiosity is so wide-ranging that you sometimes have trouble concentrating on any one thing.
6You like to make little objects and creatures out of twigs or bits of metal and give them to friends.

Gnome Ideals

Gnome Ideals
1Love. You love little (and big) critters and go out of your way to help them.
2Curiosity. You can't stand an unsolved mystery or an unopened door.
3Knowledge. You are interested in everything. You never know when what you learn will come in handy.
4Compassion. You never turn down a plea for help.
5Helpfulness. Whether you see a broken contraption or a broken heart, you have to try to fix it.
6Excellence. You strive to be and do the best you can.

Gnome Bonds

Gnome Bonds
1You pledge to bring something of immense value back to your burrow.
2Anything of great quality and artisanship is to be protected, respected, and cared for.
3Kobolds have caused you and your people nothing but trouble. You will avenge those wrongs.
4You are searching for your lost love.
5You will recover a keepsake stolen from your clan.
6You are willing to take risks to learn about the world.

Gnome Flaws

Gnome Flaws
1You embody the typical absent-minded professor. If you could forget where you put your head, you would.
2You prefer to hide during a fight.
3There is no difference between what you think and what you say.
4You can't keep a secret.