By Ramon Arjona
Dark Maiden's Portal
home of the drow adventurer Drizzt Do'Urden, Menzoberranzan is cosmopolitan
as far as drow cities go. Numerous tunnels bring trade from other Underdark
realms and occasionally from the surface world. Outsiders are not welcome
in Menzoberranzan, but they are grudgingly tolerated. However, there is
no room in the city for those drow who do not obey the Queen of the Demonweb
pits and her powerful matron clerics. Those drow who dare make a show
of disobedience, or whose clandestine acts of disloyalty are discovered,
suffer a terrible fate at the hands of those who wield power.
those who would not follow Lolth are the rare good-aligned drow, who are
the least well-equipped for survival. Without resorting to tactics of
treachery or assassination, these drow must somehow make their way in
an evil and corrupt society. To comply with the rigors of drow society
would compromise their conscience; to refuse compliance would certainly
mean death. At best, such drow could hope to die quickly at the hands
of their more violent and treacherous brethren. At worst, their lack of
loyalty to the Spider Queen could be uncovered.
whose lack of loyalty is thus exposed usually meet a fate worse than death.
Sometimes, they are sacrificed to the Spider Queen. At other times, they
are tortured to death by yochlol or transformed into driders. The clerics
of Lolth are as capricious as they are cruel and frequently devise even
worse horrors than these with which to discourage those who might contemplate
the betrayal of the Spider Queen.
good drow are not without allies, however. Eilistraee, patron of good-aligned
drow, and her followers do what they can to help these uncommon dark elves
escape unharmed from the Underdark. Not all good-aligned dark elves are
willing to abandon the Underdark, and not all who are willing to leave
know the way to this portal. Followers of the goddess work clandestinely
to find likely candidates for rescue and shepherd them along the path
to the Night Above. These fortunate drow receive rapid passage to the
upper world. It is true that new challenges and prejudices await them
there, but at least they will not be devoured by a yochlol.
portal was created a thousand years ago by a powerful cleric of
Eilistraee. The name of this cleric was a closely guarded secret known
to a very few and the knowledge is likely lost, though it is said that
she returned to the goddess some centuries ago in the ritual known as
the Last Dance. To activate the portal, one must speak the Lady's
message, "A rightful place awaits you in the Realms Above, in the
Land of the Great Light. Come in peace and live beneath the sun again
where trees and flowers grow." The portal is keyed so that
only good-aligned elves or drow can activate it, and once activated the
portal remains open for 1 round. Afterward, the portal seals
Menzoberranzan portal is unidirectional. Drow seeking to escape
from the city must travel to an abandoned storage facility near the outer
wall. The portal itself is well hidden among broken crates and
other refuse. Powerful nondetection magic prevents the portal from
being revealed by a detect magic spell cast in the area, though
once the portal is located, the analyze portal spell functions
normally. The portal transports creatures -- but not their clothes
or equipment -- to a well-guarded location on the surface where clerics
and followers of Eilistraee stand watch for any who may emerge. When the
user of the portal emerges, naked and weaponless, the clerics immediately
cast know alignment. While the portal's key should prevent
any evil drow from using it, the followers of the Dark Maiden are all
too familiar with the treachery of which the drow are capable and so take
an evil drow somehow use the portal, for instance by tagging along
behind a good drow, the clerics deal with the interloper quickly by using
hold person, daylight, and other nonlethal spells to bind and confuse
their opponent. Once such an evil drow is captured, they are imprisoned
by the clerics of Eilistraee to prevent them from harming the Dark Maiden's
surface community. Should the evil drow present a mortal threat to the
followers of Eilistraee or seem likely to escape, the clerics do not hesitate
to employ more deadly force against their foe.
to Incorporate the Dark Maiden's Portal Into Your Campaign
- While adventuring
in the Underdark, the player characters are captured and imprisoned
by one of the ruling houses of the city of Menzoberranzan. Before they
can be sacrificed to Lolth, they are contacted by a good-aligned drow
prisoner who knows the location of the portal. She is willing
to help the players escape from their predicament if they will also
help her get to the portal.
- The drow of Menzoberranzan
are close to discovering the location of the Dark Maiden's portal.
Clerics of Eilistraee enlist the player characters to thwart the evil
drow in their efforts to uncover the portal or, failing this,
to seal the portal to prevent any possible misuse of it by the
minions of the Queen of the Demonweb Pits.
- The player characters
are tasked with guarding the surface endpoint of the portal.
A group of three apparently good-aligned drow emerge. Despite the typical
precautions, it soon becomes evident that at least one of the drow is
a follower of Lolth. The player characters must determine which one
is the traitor before she can do any harm.
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