Far Corners of the World
The Hidden Depths Below:
Spells of the Deep Underdark

By James Jacobs

It is known by many names: the Night Below, Deepearth, the Underdark. An extensive, almost limitless region of caverns, tunnels, and lightless subterranean waterways, the Underdark has long been a tantalizing and dangerous realm to explore, if only for the wealth of strange and powerful magic to be found therein. Adventurers who return from forays into the depths below bring with them tales of strange monsters, alien landscapes, and potent magic. Many of these tales have since become well known to the dwellers of the surface world. The cruel and powerful drow, the inscrutable mind flayers, and the surprisingly benevolent svirfneblin have become fairly well known after numerous explorations into the tunnels. But the reaches of the Underdark are vast, and there are even more dangerous surprises awaiting discovery in the deepest trenches of the Night Below. These are depths into which even the drow fear to go -- depths that some say even the mind flayers have not fully explored.

Nonetheless, the bravest explorers can make amazing discoveries in these lightless trenches. There are stories of deserted underground cities, their walls covered with strange runes of forgotten magic; an intrepid traveler could learn much from the runes upon these walls. More likely, though, adventurers run afoul of these spells only when they are used against them by the dwellers in the hidden depths. Some of these spells manipulate the senses of the target, making it more or less difficult to navigate the lightless tunnels. One is rumored to grant control over the mindless oozes that lurk in the depths. Others take control of the stone itself, either by rapidly shaping deadly stalagmites or by infusing it with fell, sickening energy. The most bizarre of these spells is perhaps the deepsong, a spell that allows the caster to gain greater knowledge of her surroundings.

Level: Drd 7
Components: V, S, F
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: Personal
Area: You
Duration: 1 minute/level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

All that occurs in the depths of the Underdark is witnessed by the stone. Over the ages, an infinite legion of events has come to pass, and in their passing they have left their mark upon the stones of the Underdark. The stone tell spell allows you to "tap into" this resonance of events to a limited extent, but this bonding is only a scratching of the surface of the strange phenomenon known to a few as the deepsong.

With this spell, you can attune your mind so you can experience the deepsong. The deepsong can be seen, felt, heard, and tasted, and it even makes itself known in more mystical ways to the subject of this spell. If you are above ground, the deepsong is muted and difficult to hear, and you quickly become oppressed and despondent, suffering a -4 morale penalty on all checks and attack rolls.

While underground, however, you are filled with a sense of belonging and welcome as the susurrus of the deepsong envelops you. This grants a +2 morale bonus on all skill checks and attack rolls. While underground, you can also speak with the stones, which relate to you who or what has touched them as well as revealing what is covered or concealed behind or under them. The stones relate complete descriptions if asked. You can also gain knowledge of up to three facts from among the following subjects: the general layout of caverns and tunnels, plants and fungi, minerals, bodies of water, people, general animal population, presence of elemental creatures, and the presence of powerful abominations and undead. Note that a stone's perspective, perception, and knowledge may prevent the stone from providing the details you are looking for (as determined by the DM). You can speak with natural or worked stone.

Focus: A 5-pound lump of stone harvested from a depth of at least two miles below ground and that has never been exposed to the light of the sun, moon, or stars.

Level: Sor/Wiz 6
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Area: One ooze
Duration: 1 day/level
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

You telekinetically take control of the targeted ooze, manipulating it and forcing it to move and attack as you see fit. You can force the ooze to perform as you desire, within the limits of its abilities. Controlling the ooze's actions for an entire round is a move-equivalent action for you. When not directed to move, attack, or undertake any actions by you, the telekinetic forces hold the ooze immobile. The ooze has no mind, but its base instincts still cause it to resist this telekinetic control. If you force the ooze to take a self-destructive action, the ooze gains a new Fortitude saving throw to negate the effects of the spell. Once control is established, you must have line of sight to the ooze to manipulate it, but distance is not otherwise a factor, unless you and the ooze are on different planes (at which point the spell ends). You can manipulate the ooze while scrying upon it, for example.

Remove Scent
Illusion (Glamer)
Level: Brd 1, Rgr 1, Sor/Wiz 1
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Touch
Area: Creature touched
Duration: 10 minutes/level
Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless, object)
Spell Resistance: Yes (harmless, object)

The creature or object touched has all trace of an olfactory presence removed for the duration of the spell. The scent ability cannot detect a creature under the effects of a remove scent spell. It also negates the harmful side effects of the noxious stench exuded by certain creatures, such as ghasts, for the duration of the spell.

Material Components: A pinch of unscented candle wax.

Sudden Stalagmite
Conjuration (Creation)
Level: Drd 4, Sor/Wiz 4
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Target: One creature
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Reflex half
Spell Resistance: No

A razor sharp stalagmite bursts forth from the ground to impale the targeted creature. Although the target gains a Reflex save to halve the damage done, the stalagmite itself is nonmagic and is not subject to spell resistance. Airborne creatures within 10 feet of the ground gain a +4 bonus on this save, and creatures higher than this cannot be harmed by this spell. The stalagmite is about 1 foot wide at its base and up to 10 feet tall. If it encounters a ceiling before it reaches full size, it stops growing.

The sudden growth of the stalagmite does 1d6 points of piercing damage per caster level (maximum 15d6). In addition, a target that fails to make a saving throw against this spell and takes damage from it is impaled on the stalagmite and cannot move from its current location until it makes an Escape Artist check (DC 15). The stalagmite can be removed in other ways, as well, such as with a stone shape spell. The victim can even break free with a successful Strength check (DC 25), although this deals an additional 3d6 points of slashing damage on the victim. The damage caused by this spell is nonmagical, but it penetrates damage reduction as if it were a +1 weapon.

Transmute Rock to Sickstone
Level: Clr 8, Drd 7, Sor/Wiz 8
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 action
Range: Medium (100 ft. + 10 ft./level)
Area: One Large size boulder, or one 5-foot-square section of stone, or one stone creature
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Fortitude partial (see text)
Spell Resistance: No

In the deepest reaches of the trenches of the Underdark, the very stones are said to be imbued with a fell energy. These stones glow with an unhealthy color that does not exist on the surface world, and any who tread too near these stones sicken and die over the course of several days. This material is known as sickstone, and this spell imbues normal stone with these deadly properties and then magnifies these properties even further so the debilitative effects occur almost instantly.

Sickstone glows with a nauseating not-quite-green, not-quite-silver light that provides illumination to a radius of 40 feet. Any creature in range of this illumination must make a Fortitude saving throw each round or take 1d6 points of temporary Constitution damage. Only 1 point of temporary Constitution damage is taken if the saving throw is successful. Anyone who actually physically contacts the sickstone takes a -4 penalty on the saving throw, and any Constitution damage taken as a result becomes permanent Constitution drain. The damage caused by sickstone is caused by a magical disease, so creatures that are immune to magical diseases are immune to the effects of sickstone.

Some particularly cruel wizards have been known to grant stone minions like golems, elementals, or shield guardians the ability to transform themselves into sickstone. A stone creature under the effects of a sickstone spell does 1d6 points of permanent Constitution drain to anything it strikes, unless the target makes a Fortitude save against this spell, in which case only 1 point of permanent Constitution drain is dealt.

Once the spell expires, the affected stone becomes chalky and powdery. Its hardness is permanently cut in half (round fractions down) as a result. A stone creature with damage reduction has its damage reduction score lessened by 5/+1, as well. Stone lessened to a hardness of 0 or stone that gets lessened to a -1 in either part of the damage reduction score crumbles to dust. For example, if a stone creature originally has a damage reduction score of 5/+1, it gets lessened to 0/0 when the spell expires. If the creature had 10/silver as its damage reduction score, it changes to 5/-1 (silver), which means that it crumbles to dust.

Next month, we look at some threatening monsters that can be found in the Underdark.

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