“Sightings of dark elves on the surface have grown steadily—turning from dismissible rumors into disturbing reports. Brave heroes are needed to discover what plot or purpose is driving the children of Lolth to so boldly intrude upon our realm.”
This is the teaser Wizards gave us Monday when they launched their Rise of the Underdark website hub. It looks like 2012 is going to be the Year of the Drow. In 2011 everything revolved around Neverwinter, in 2012 it’s all about the Drow and the Rise of the Underdark. According to Wizards this cohesive storyline will run through 2012 in three distinct phases, one of which is the next season of D&D Encounters (more on that below).
I thought Drow were cool from the very first time I saw them in the original Fiend Folio. Like so many others my admiration grew when R.A. Salvatore introduced us to Drizzt and the world of the dark elves. Since then I’ve devoured anything and everything Drow that I could get my hands on. When I visited Wizard of the Coast in December one of the things they revealed was their plans for the Drow in 2012. I was simultaneously ecstatic to hear what they have in store for the Drow and frustrated that I was bound to the NDA. But now that the cat’s out of the bag I can finally start to talk about it. In the coming week’s we’ll have multiple articles here at Dungeon’s Master featuring Drow.
If you haven’t already visited the Wizards Rise of the Underdark website hub I strongly encourage you to do so (as soon as you finish reading this article). There’s a load of information about what’s coming up including product descriptions, novel previews, and Drow wallpapers for download. If you’re not excited yet, you will be when you watch the preview video which we’ve copied below.
Rise of the Underdark: Step into Shadows Preview
D&D Encounters: Web of the Spider Queen
Season 9 of D&D Encounters runs from May 16 through August 15 and this week Wizard provided a bit of a teaser. The adventure is directly tied in to the Drow theme that’s taking over the Wizards product schedule. Players will be encouraged to create Underdark-themed characters using options from the upcoming release Into the Unknown: The Dungeon Survival Handbook.
The story-arc for this season of D&D Encoutners actually began in the adventure “The Sun Never Rises” that was run exclusively at PAX East. For those of us who missed out on this opportunity, here’s what you need to know to bring you up to speed.
Dareen Travaskyr, a priestess in the Temple of Lathander’s Light in Dagger Falls, was intent on creating a holy symbol of great power—then the drow arrived, demanding the symbol for themselves. Dareen refused and had to watch as her followers were captured and poisoned. It was up to the adventurers to arrive in time, defeat the drow, and save the poisoned worshipers.
Now it’s your turn to join the battle against the Drow. Join a group of adventurers—from the surface world and/or the depths of the Underdark—caught in the middle of Lolth’s most treacherous scheme. Wizards has provided the following background to tease us while we wait for D&D Encounters, season 9 to begin in May.
Shadowdale is better known for the past than the present. Ancient battles and the ruins they left behind draw historians and adventurers alike to these lands. Storm and Syluné Silverhand once dwelled here, and sly Elminster still does. His protection has long kept Shadowdale safe, and even if Elminster’s power has greatly diminished since his time as Mystra’s Chosen, who would dare attack his home?
The white granite hill called Old Skull has loomed over Shadowdale for ages, but its significance has varied over time. When drow controlled the town, it was a sign of danger and domination. When their kind was forced out, the people of Shadowdale went back to seeing the hill as nothing more than a fascinating landmark. Sheep graze around it now, while children play atop its slopes of bare white stone.
A famed tavern takes its name from the landmark. The Old Skull Inn is known throughout Faerûn as a haven for adventurers. It is said that secret tunnels lead from the tavern’s basement into catacombs under Old Skull—and from there into the Underdark. Adventurers gossip that a bribe to the innkeeper, Ghessla Silvermane, can gain an honest traveler access to the realms below the earth.
Lady Addee Ulphor rules Shadowdale, presiding over a land that has been peaceful for the twenty years since Lord Azalar Falconhand retired. The symbol of leadership, the Pendant of Ashaba, is Lady Ulphor’s by right, and she keeps it secured in the Twisted Tower of Ashaba.
Long past are the days when drow ruled over Shadowdale from the Twisted Tower—or are they? Beneath the sleepy farming community, an old evil stirs. The drow and their foul Underdark minions have set eyes on the Dalelands, but to what end is anyone’s guess. Now, it’s up to an unlikely band of adventurers to defend Shadowdale from the drow threat and learn what Lolth and her villainous followers are up to. Success means a respite from danger. Failure could doom the surface world.
Visit the official Wizards of the Coast Web of the Spider Queen webpage for more details.
D&D Lair Assault: Spider Killer
Season 4 of D&D Lair Assault is touted as a new dark, deadly, and drow-themed challenge for level 9 characters. It draws inspiration from several previously published adventures:
- Journey the River Sargauth by Christopher Lindsay
- Undermountain: The Lost Level by Steven E. Schend
- Expedition to Undermountain by Eric L. Boyd, Ed Greenwood, Christopher Lindsay, and Sean K Reynolds.
Although they don’t list a start date, I assume it will begin on June 1 when the previous Lair Assault is retired. Wizards is keeping the details of this one pretty secretive. This is all we know so far.
In this Lair Assault challenge, the adventurers brave the depths of Undermountain, the onetime playground of the mad wizard Halaster Blackcloak. As the DM, not only is it your job to challenge the player characters but also to kill them out-right—all in good fun, of course. (Make sure your players know that!) Don’t play favorites or fudge die rolls, however. The encounters are difficult enough that you can let the dice fall where they may.
Visit the official Wizards of the Coast D&D Lair Assault: Spider Killer webpage for more details.
- Rise of the Underdark Wizards of the Coast
- April: In the Works by Bart Carroll, April 9
- Exploiting Racial and Class Powers: Cloud of Darkness
- Band of Brothers: Adventuring Parties of the Same Race