Return to Undermountain
Room 16: Drow Camp (EL 13)
By Matthew Sernett

Room Summary

Creatures: (11) Three Spiders of Lolth, one spider swarm, one drow cleric of Lolth, one drow wizard, one drow rogue, one drow arachnomancer, one mounted drow patrol, one Lolth's Sting, one drow arcane guard.
Traps: (1) A symbol of pain guards the entrance to the drow encampment.
Terrain: Normal.
Lighting Conditions: Darkness.
Magic: Treasure (varies based on item).
Detectable Alignments: Faint evil (all the drow except Braekathra and Salistra), moderate evil (half-fiend Medium monstrous spiders [if used in place of Spiders of Lolth], strong evil (Braekathra and Salistra).
Secrets: None.
Treasure: The equipment carried by the NPCs plus 1,000 gp of goods and weapons.

Relevant Skill Checks

Disable Device DC 30: The symbol of pain can be disarmed with this result.

Listen DC 13: A character who succeeds at the Listen check can hear two voices arguing (see Room A).

Listen DC 15: A character who gets this result can tell that there are two male elven voices arguing, and if the PC knows Undercommon, she can even determine what they're saying.

Listen DC 10 + distance: If the PCs set off the symbol of pain, the drow have an opportunity to hear the commotion.

Search DC 30: The symbol of pain can be discovered with this result.

The Map

The map for this room is available in two different sizes: One serves as a reference for the DM, and the other is a map with a grid that works nicely with your miniatures.

Each map is presented as a compressed (zipped) Adobe Portable Document Format file (pdf). You need to have Adobe Reader installed to use it. Adobe Reader can be downloaded for free from the Adobe website.

Room Location on the Poster Map: This room is on piece 8 of the poster map. You can see the pieces in thumbnail size in the introduction to this series. For a better idea of where this room is, please view the Article Reference Map.

Seven dark elf adventurers have come to Undermountain from below to investigate the fate of a settlement of drow established on this level in 1359 DR, the Year of Serpent, and to reestablish a foothold in the uppermost level of Undermountain for the dark elves. Sent from the drow city of Eryndlyn far to the east, the scouts sent to Undermountain fourteen years ago failed to communicate with their leaders not long after establishing themselves. Only now, after Lolth's silence and return, have some dark elves of Eryndlyn considered the fate of their fellows a point of interest. The drow sent to Undermountain were adherents of Selvetarm, Lolth's guardian during her silence, and the drow of Eryndlyn are suspicious that the scouts planned some intrigue on their deity's behalf.

The seven drow have been disappointed by the truth. Although the dark elves that came before them set up a temple in two large chambers nearby, their settlement was discovered by surface dwellers not long after that, and the bones of the drow now molder in rooms not too far away from where the drow adventurers have decided to rest while they determine their course of action.

As the player characters enter the passage leading to the drow encampment, have them make Listen checks. If anyone succeeds, read the following:

You can hear muffled angry voices from down the hall. It sounds like some kind of argument.

Roll 3d4. This is the number of rounds that remain before Xandra (see below) returns from her patrol. Secretly start counting these rounds now, and then allow the PCs to explore as you keep track of the rounds that go by.

A short way down the hall lies the trap. Unless the PCs proceed very carefully, they'll set it off.

When the PCs discover the drow encampment, they can choose to enter through many different doors. Regardless of where they go, a combat is likely. When combat breaks out, the drow in nearby rooms have a chance to hear it and join the fight. The DC to hear a battle is -10. Each 10 feet of distance adds +1 to the DC and intervening doors add +5. Even so, it should be easy for most of the drow in the encampment to hear the fight and come running. Drow not involved in the immediate conflict move to the outer hall first to release the spiders from Room B or to flee if it looks like the PCs are too dangerous to handle.

Xandra (see below) is currently patrolling nearby atop her mount. She returns to the encampment 3d4 rounds after the PCs first enter the area.

The following descriptive text can be read to the players to describe the rooms as the PCs enter them.

Room A

This roughly square chamber is 30 feet wide. A long table dominates the center of the room, and chairs surround it. Once a grand setting, the thick oak table is cracked and shows the scars of many battles. The chairs are equally abused, and the dusty remains of one thoroughly smashed chair lie in a corner.

Rathal and Devynar argue in this room about the merits of various spells. The two hate one another deeply, and only Braekathra's (see below) influence prevents them from killing one another. Devynar is looking forward to the day that Braekathra is gone because he's quite certain that he could kill Rathal. Rathal knows Devynar could defeat him in a fair fight so he's been trying to curry favor with Xandra. Unfortunately for Rathal, Xandra has shown little interest in his overtures.

In the midst of a loud argument, the drow have little chance of hearing the PCs should the PCs set off the symbol of pain (-10 to the dark elves' Listen checks).

Rathal: Use the statistics for the Drow Wizard (50/60) from the Dragoneye miniatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use Table 4-22 in the Dungeon Master's Guide to make a 4th-level drow wizard.

Devynar: Use the statistics for the Drow Arcane Guard (47/60) from the Underdark miniatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use Tables 4-16 and 4-22 in the Dungeon Master's Guide to make a drow 2nd-level fighter, 5th-level wizard.

Room B

This room is choked with spider webs. They cover every surface and hang between the walls, ceiling, and floor in interwoven sheets. The webs are so thick that you can only barely discern the back wall of the room about 20 feet in.

The drow brought several spiders as scouts and guardian creatures in their trip through the Underdark and Undermountain, but only three survived. The female of the group was housed in this small room in preparation for her egg laying. She recently gave birth to a clutch of hundreds of tiny spiders. The mother spider and her swarm of young can't exit the room on their own, and they attack any nondrow (except the other spiders and the riding lizard) when released.

Spider of Lolth: Use the statistics for the Spider of Lolth (61/80) from the Underdark miniatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use Monster Manual to generate the statistics for a half-fiend Medium monstrous spider.

Swarm of Spiders: Use the statistics for the Swarm of Spiders (58/60) from the Underdark miniatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use the statistics for a swarm of spiders from the Monster Manual.

Room C

This featureless stone chamber has a bedroll in each corner, as if those who laid them down were afraid to sleep near one another.

This room is empty when the PCs first arrive in the encampment. The drow other than Xendra, Braekathra, and Salista rest here.

Room D

You open the door into a room that is clearly being used as a storage chamber. Bags and packages lie in a neat line with a few casks made out of some white woodlike material. Ropes securely bind a number of weapons of different types in a bundle.

The drow keep their goods here while not on the move, including food stores and the precious few wine bottles brought with them on their journey. They've also put in this room the equipment and weapons of the creatures they encounter and killed while in Undermountain. They don't have specific plans for these items beyond a vague idea that they might use them as bribes or for trade when Braekathra decides what they should do now. See Treasure for more details.

Harrazen and Ryell are in this room when the PCs arrive in the encampment. The two drow have a longstanding rivalry from their youth in different training houses, and over the course of the long journey to Undermountain, that rivalry gradually blossomed into something more akin to romance. The two drow play up their hatred of one another when around the others, and they even have Braekathra fooled. They've stolen away to the store room to share a little of the wine and a private moment. Engaged as they are, the two have a -5 penalty to Listen checks to hear if the PCs set off the symbol of pain.

Harrazen: Use the statistics for the Drow Rogue (42/72) from the Giants of Legendminiatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use Table 4-20 in the Dungeon Master's Guide to make a 6th-level drow rogue.

Ryell: Use the statistics for the Lolth's Sting (53/60) from the Underdark miniatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use Table 4-20 in the Dungeon Master's Guide to make a 4th-level drow rogue.

Room E

The smell of clean water greets your nose as you enter this area. You spy a wide cistern. Next to it is a bedroll and a strange collection of leather straps. It looks something like the tack and gear you might put on a pack mule, but it's much larger.

When Xandra is in the encampment, she houses her mount here and stays here when resting. Xandra prefers to be away from the other dark elves' screaming and bickering, so she's out patrolling when the PCs first enter the encampment. She returns 3d4 rounds after the PCs arrive.

Xandra: Use the statistics for the Mounted Drow Patrol (54/60) from the Underdark miniatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use Table 4-22 in the Dungeon Master's Guide to make a 7th-level drow fighter.

Room F

Webs hang about this chamber like tattered banners, and the walls bear patterns of webs that resemble huge spiders. In the center of the south wall stands an old barrel and atop it squats a sculpture of bronze that looks like a spider with the head of a female elf.

Braekathra has turned this room into an impromptu temple to Lolth and a bedchamber for herself and her apprentice. She is the leader of the expedition to Undermountain and is enjoying her role in authority and her minions' contentiousness. She feels contempt for the drow who came to this area of Undermountain before her and is looking to make a name for herself by striking a blow to Waterdeep.

Salista is Braekathra's apprentice, and although she secretly despises her mistress, she plays the part of respectful lesser. Braekathra isn't fooled by Salista's act, but she enjoys taking advantage of her apprentice's obsequiousness by putting the younger drow in demeaning situations.

When the PCs enter the encampment, Braekathra and Salista are paying homage to the Spider Queen with prayers before the small altar Braekathra had Xandra pack on the riding lizard for their journey. Two Spiders of Lolth spin webs in the corners of the ceiling in this room. The spiders follow Braekathra and Salista should they leave to investigate sounds of battle.

Braekathra: Use the statistics for the Drow Arachnomancer (46/60) from the Underdark miniatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use Table 4-14 in the Dungeon Master's Guide to make a 9th-level drow cleric.

Salista: Use the statistics for the Drow Cleric of Lolth (61/80) from the Harbinger miniatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use Table 4-14 in the Dungeon Master's Guide to make a 6th-level drow cleric.

Spider of Lolth (2): Use the statistics for the Spider of Lolth (61/80) from the Underdark miniatures set. If you don't have that miniature, use Monster Manual to generate the statistics for a half-fiend Medium monstrous spider.

Trap: Braekathra cast a symbol of pain spell in the hall outside the encampment. It lies invisibly on the floor. Drow, spiders, and riding lizards do not trigger the symbol. If any other creature larger than Small size passes over the symbol or the adjacent 5-foot squares, it is triggered. The symbol of pain has a DC of 20 and works as described in the Player's Handbook. The drow in the encampment have a chance to hear the symbol being set off, but some are distracted and suffer a penalty to their Listen checks (see the Room descriptions).

Treasure: The equipment carried by the NPCs represents the majority of the treasure in this encounter, but Room B also contains 1,000 gp of goods and weapons. There's also the idol of Lolth that Braekathra brought along on their journey. It weighs 30 pounds and might be worth 200 gp to a drow, but it's unlikely the PCs will find another buyer.

Adventure Hooks and Tie-Ins

  • These drow could be the leaders of a much larger group of dark elves that have been perpetrating misdeeds in the city above.

  • These dark elves might be in Undermountain in search of more than the lost expedition that came before them. Perhaps they're looking for an artifact important to the drow, and a note in Braekathra's belongings reveals that to the PCs.

  • Perhaps the PCs foil a conspiracy by defeating these drow, but they find evidence that agents of several important folk in Waterdeep were accomplices in the dark elves' plans. The PCs can't successfully accuse such important people on the basis of a single note found in the possession of the deceitful drow, and it could be that the agents were working without the knowledge of their sponsors, but it's a matter the PCs might want to investigate.

Check out the Return to Undermountain: An Introduction for more details.

Article Reference Map

About the Author

Once Editor-in-Chief of Dragon magazine and now a game designer at Wizards of the Coast, Matthew Sernett wrote in a Dragon editorial that there's nothing in D&D he likes better than when the adventurers flee through the dungeon, running pell-mell through traps and past monsters because what chases them is worse. When he wrote that, Matthew was thinking about Undermountain.

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