Cthonspace: An Underdark Sphere

Cthonspace is an unusual sphere in that the interior is solid earth and stone, with a great number of large, planet-sized caverns and tunnels large enough for spelljamming ships to travel through. There sphere exists outside of the Known Spheres, and is inhabited by a variety of underdark races. The tunnels maintain gravity on all the surfaces, as well as atmospheres, although the larger tunnels are often airless voids in the center. Because of the large amount of rock in the sphere, all tunnels are full of loose floating asteroids of various sizes, few larger than a ship, though. Vast mushroom forests cover the walls of the tunnels; many species of which can be dried and used just as well as wood can outside the sphere. Other mushrooms glow slightly, giving the illusion of pale stars from a distance, along with softly glowing gems. Within the sphere exist three goblinoid ports which serve the same purpose as Bral, being somewhat cosmopolitan centers of trade and adventure.

History of Cthonspace

The history of Cthonspace is not well documented. It was once on the periphery of the hurwaeti empire; when that sphere-spanning civilization collapsed, the hurwaeti of the sphere were left to degenerate into swamp and salt wiggles. At some point following that collapse, small colonies of some of the currently-established races were created, including the fomorians and illithids. Centuries or millennia of expansion and colonization followed, where the many of the wiggles and other native races were quickly enslaved by the dominant races. Some three centuries ago, following the end of the First Unhuman War, fleets of goblinoids arrived fleeing the elven forces. Tired of fighting a long war and then the long escape, they chose not to attack existing nations and instead began trading and set up neutral ports. Not every member of these races chose this option, with some becoming pirates or raiders, and the goblinoids have certainly had conflicts, but peace and trade have made them relatively wealthy, especially given that the Arcane quickly saw the advantage of basing themselves in these neutral ports. This has provided the Arcane with even greater profit while also offering a measure of protection against attacks by the other nations of the system. At some point after the goblinoids arrived, the flow river they arrived on no longer connected to the sphere they fled through, and the path back to the Known Spheres was lost.

The Major Players

The races of Cthonspace are divided into two categories: the major players, who have either significant nations or play significant roles in the politics of the sphere, and the minor races, who tend to exist on the periphery.

The Oluthan Imperium (Illithids; LE)

The illithids maintain two empires in Cthonspace, but for the benefit of the rest of the sphere, they have been at war for centuries. The Oluthan Imperium believes that military conquest of the sphere is the right of the mind flayers, while the Marocan Theocracy has little interest in military conquest. It is likely they wouldn’t even fight if not for the fact the Theocracy currently blocks the expansion of the Imperium.

Nestled at the dead end of a large tunnel, the Oluthan Imperium is ruled by an elder brain that aggressively keeps all threats to its power in check. It allows faith and worship of the illithid gods to exist, but ensures the priests never gain enough political power to rival it with any means at its disposal. The Imperium maintains a trade fleet, but this fleet also acts as privateers, especially when the Oluthan slave pens run light due to battles with the Marocan Theocracy. Currently, the majority of the slaves utilized by the Imperium are goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, mongrelmen, and salt wiggles (used mostly as shock troops); they also hire a substantial number of grimlock mercenaries.

The Marocan Theocracy (Illithids; LE with LN tendencies)

The Marocan Theocracy favors peaceful diplomacy, philosophy, and contemplation. They still believe they are the superior race in the sphere, but rather than conquering the rest, they believe in a slower process of annexation through arguments, manipulation, and the judicious use of psionic domination. They have had little opportunity to do so since the Oluthan empire expanded to their borders, however. They maintain a larger trade fleet than the Oluthan, and most of their slaves are drawn from the forces of pirates and raiders, as well as those captured from attacks by the Imperium. They have dominion over a number of quaggoth tribes, whom the Marocan claim are all willing vassals. They also employ number of goblinoid mercenaries based on a promise of freeing their kind from the Oluthan Imperium. The Marocan Theocracy fills a cavern at the end of the tunnel that leads to the Imperium, granting them much easier and greater access to the trade opportunities of the sphere.

Port Kaurthok (Kobold, LE)

Located in a massive cavern outside the Illithid tunnels, this city of 3500 individuals rests on a large rock that floats in a gap between a stalagmite and stalactite, both of which house further kobold villages, ranches, and farms. The city (90% kobold, 5% ogre, 5% goblin and hobgoblin) is ruled by a council of elected elders from different sections of the city. Of this council of 12, it is led by a single member elected by the council. The current leader is Eshnok (kobf F7/T8), a 106-year old kobold who is still keen of mind. Eshnok and the council issue edicts and perform judicial duties in the city, with Eshnok having the ability to override the others on judicial matters unless the entirety of the council disagrees. She also has two votes to the one of each of the others on proposed laws.
The city subsists primarily on mining and mushroom farming, as well as ship construction. The vessels they produce use dried mushroom sections instead of wood, which serves just as well. They also trade frequently with a fleet of 6 Angelships, and a defense fleet of 4 Angelships, 12 Arrows, and 1 Octopus.
Shop: Turzak’s Goods: This shop sells supplies to vessels visiting the port, although Turzak (kobm) stocks no heavy weapons or ship parts besides the basics of rope, lumber, sailcloth, and the like.
Shop: Arcane Supplies: This arcane facility is smaller than the one at the Hobgoblin and Goblin ports, because it still has most of the basic gear. Most of the interactions are with rastipede agents (Thrassar) rather than directly with the arcane.
Shop & Temple: The Protector’s Docks, a temple dedicated to Gaknulak and the shipbuilder’s guild of Kaurthok, where new vessels are built, ships are repaired, and heavy weapons are made here as well. They can also repair ships more cheaply than other places, 1750 gp/HP/day, or 4500 gp/HP/day. The priest in charge of the dockyards and temple is Shupil (kobm P6), a middle-aged kobold who is obsessed with shipbuilding. He will eagerly visit any unusual ships in port to learn new construction techniques, and will arrive wearing a cloak that obviously has many pockets inside, and pouches and tools hang from his belt. A white cap rests on his head, and he wears an amulet shaped like a small pot or cauldron.
Temple: The Vault of Steely Scales is the main temple of the kobold town, with a central subterranean chamber dedicated to Kurtulmak, and side-chamber shrines dedicated to Dakarnok, Gaknulak, and Kuraulyek. The priest in charge of the temple is Ketzak (kobm P9).
Tavern: The Weasel’s Bite is the most popular tavern in the port, at least among sailors and traders. It is rough and tumble, but a trio of ogres keep fights from getting out of hand. The proprietor is a kobold woman named Lekzem (kobf), who is quite willing to wade into fights and club people to settle them down.
Tavern: Gnomeskull Brewers is a more upscale tavern, favored by the wealthy and elite of the town, although anyone who can afford the prices is allowed in. The proprietor is a wizened kobold of 112 years who is still spry, named Vagrek (kobm). He employs five well-dressed and trained hobgoblins to deal with squabbles and brawls.

Gorelgak’s Rest (Goblins, LE)

This asteroid city is home to 5000 individuals, about 60% goblins, 10% hobgoblins, 10% kobolds, 10% bugbears and ogres, and 10% other races. The asteroid is almost a mile across, and the underside and top side beyond the city is reserved for farming, although half the food comes from nearby towns and ports in trade. The asteroid is defended by a number of ballista and catapult emplacements, as well as a number of ships. The goblins have a trade fleet of two Porcupines and one Angelship, and a defense fleet of 30 Blades, two Porcupines, and one Scorpion.
The town itself consists primarily of round stone buildings with roofs made of slate or dried mushroom stalks; at the center of the port city is a large, well-built fortified structure for the leader of the settlement, High Chief Gorelgak VI (gobm F9), whose family has ruled since the founding. The interior of the rock is crisscrossed with mine shafts, and upper warrens serve as living quarters for the poorest members of the city. Trade has made even these places comfortable, however.
Three tribes make up the goblin population, and they are often at odds with each other, but the laws of the city require duels to resolve interpersonal conflicts and feuds. Most significant crimes also warrant a death sentence, adjudicated by a council of 9 elders, three from each tribe, with the High Chief able to sit in and vote (as two votes) if he desires. The three tribes are Gorelgak’s own Burning Tree (banner of a flaming tree on a black field), the Split Helm (a blood-covered dwarven helmet on a green field), and the Closed Gauntlet (a metal gauntleted fist on a purple field).
Shop: Girt’s Exchange, a money changer (11% fee) and issuer of trade bars (50 gp copper bars). Girt (LE gobm) is a portly goblin of about 40 years, dressed in fine leathers.
Shop: Arcane Supply, the arcane facilities near the docks, with a shipyard and other facilities. The primary contact is a rastipede named Iks’sek.
Shop: Kirtok’s Weapons and Armor, the best smith in port, can make equipment for races not common in there sphere. Kirtok (LE hobm F6) is a one-eyed and scarred hobgoblin of few words.
Shop: Margoth’s Medicines, an apothecary and herb shop that sells a variety of mushrooms and dark-loving herbs; this shop is the primary place to acquire natural spell components. Margoth is a young female goblin who arrived in the city about 5 years ago; rumor has it she was exiled from her village for leprosy, although she doesn’t speak of it. She secretly preaches the faith of Meriadar on Gorelgak’s Rest; while it is not outlawed, it is deeply distrusted. She secretly heals injured individuals while pretending to use simple herbal remedies. She is planning to move on from the city within a few years .
Temple: Arena of Mediation. This temple of Bargrivyek is made of pale grey granite and decorated with a variety of tribal banners from various goblin and hobgoblin tribes in the sphere. There are also some old flags, standards, and other identifying items from the Elven Imperial Navy. The temple has an attached arena for duels, with seating for 300 hundred humanoids; admission charges vary by the status of the individuals dueling. The high priest, Brorca (hobm P9), oversees the duels and has a half-dozen acolytes for services and healing.
Temple: Goblinfire Halls. This temple of Maglubiyet is constructed of dark basalt with tall spires set with large fires ever-burning at the top. The temple is popular and always contains worshipers. The temple is overseen by Narekfor (gobm P11).
Temple: Vault of Chains. This small temple to Khurgorbaeyag has little to do with slavery, but enforces social order. They have little power, however. It is a small circular building with four branching spokes, three of which serve as quarters and private chambers, the fourth of which is an entrance hall. The priest in charge of the temple is Yarrag (gobm P7).
Tavern: Garsh’s Brews.
Tavern: The Worg and the Dwarf.
Tavern: The Bat and the Rothe.

Port Moggoth (Hobgoblin, LE)

This city of 4000 individuals, of 80% hobgoblins, 10% goblins, and 10% other races. The port is fairly small, less than a half-mile wide, and significantly built out with artificial facilities. The port has major shipyards, and thus imports significant amounts of construction material. The port maintains a defense fleet of 10 Blades, 3 Scorpions, and a Hammership, and a trade fleet of 3 Squid Ships and a Triop.
The ruler of Port Moggoth is King Hovarak (hobm F11), descendant of Moggoth. He holds absolute rule, and has a force of warriors to enforce his will. He is more interested in maintaining order than dictating how his people live their lives, with violent crimes universally punishable by death.
The city itself is separated from the docks by King Hovarak’s keep, so that all residents and visitors must pass under the gaze of his warriors. The buildings are solidly built of stone and somewhat squat. One of the city’s main exports are mercenary warriors, and there are many companies and training facilities.
Shop: Moggoth Exchequer, a money changer (10%) and bank run by a hobgoblin named Argratha (hobf), this service functions as one of the ways King Hovarak stays in power.
Shop: Gorvak’s Supply, the main ship supplier in the port, is run by the hobgoblin Gorvak (hobm F5), and sells common supplies needed by ships. He also has spare parts for most ship weapons, but not bombards, nor does he stock smoke powder.
Shop: Old Shagthor’s Apothecary, a store that supplies powders, herbs, and material components for spells, is run by an elderly witch doctor of Bargrivyek, Ushurag (hobm WD6). He is crotchety and easy to irritate.
Shop: Arcane Supply; this shop and warehouse complex is one of the major Arcane outlets in the sphere, run by different Arcane at different times. The current Arcane is Formath, although it is more common to deal with a rastipede named Lar’ess.
Temple: Dreadhelm Hall, a stout temple-fort of grey stone; this structure is the only full temple in the port. The interior is filled with battle trophies, while the temple is overseen by a powerful priest known as the Blood-Ranked Korgrad (hobm P11).

Malmratha (Fomoroians, CE)

From its capital of Tuan Riarg, this kingdom of fomorian giants is considered one of the more dangerous nations of the sphere. The ruler is High King Craith Nor, an ancient fomorian wizard who has extended his life through magic, being over 300 years old by this point. He has killed many of his children over the years to prevent them from challenging his rule. The nation constantly raids other nations, using four gutted Mammoths to accommodate their height. They do allow outside traders to visit their lands, however, and maintain a small trade fleet as well, but they are all deeply distrusted by the other empires. There are dozens of fiefdoms and minor kingdoms that have sworn fealty to Craith Nor, although not all are willing in that service. Current expansion in one direction is blocked by the kuo-toa of Oolorgol.

Vorgodrak (Troglodytes, CE)

The troglodytes of this sphere have formed themselves into a lose, somewhat piratical confederation of cavern-city states. They are governed by a council of lords from each city-state; however, the cities are in a constant state of skirmishing and near-war, which keeps them from expanding. The troglodytes do periodically attack trading vessels throughout the region, using a dozen total Wasps and a trio of Turtle ships. All of the cities are open to trade, however. The realm is located at a tunnel junction between the three goblinoid cities, as well as a cavern leading to the crystal shell and a major phlogiston river. The three most significant city-states are Largorak, Cragdror, and Wagshud.

Oolorgol (Kuo-Toa, NE)

The kuo-toa of Oolorgol have been in decline for centuries, plagued by a series of bad leaders afflicted with insanity. The current king is a young noble named Noorgol-oolph, who has yet to shows signs of the insanity that took his father early. He has set about restoring his land, starting with increasing foreign trade using a handful of Tradesmen vessels that can land in the Puulg-oolor Sea their realm borders. They maintain a large slave force of swamp and salt wiggles; these wiggles are the largest population of them known in the sphere. Despite the decline of their nation, they have effectively blocked expansion of the fomorians for a few years now, although few in the sphere believe they can hold out forever.

The Minor Players

Kingdom of Uzaksh (Myconids, LN)

This kingdom of myconids, ruled by a myconid king-priest of Psilofyr named Nugazor and located off the vast cavern home to Port Kaurthok, covers a significant area, with a number of towns within its area of control; despite this large size they play almost no role in the sphere’s politics. The capital is humid, and full of gigantic mushrooms dozens of feet tall, turned into homes and other structures. There are large “fields” of fungal growths that the myconids raise. They generally keep to themselves, considering animal life violent, but they will trade with them on occasion. They have three Spelljammers that they use for defense, and one used for trade; the three defense ships are all Scorpions, received from the hobgoblins, and the trade vessel is a Vipership. The trader is named Saglor and mostly trades powders, potions, and fungal food in exchange for finished goods.

Brakoth Veldor (Derro, CE)

Delnthor, the capital of this derro realm, is a sprawling city that is home to over 5,000 derro, and thousands more slaves (mostly goblinoids and quaggoths). The city is ruled by a council of 7 Savants, elected by the heads of the most prominent clans of the realm. There are hundreds of outlying towns and villages, many under the rule of one of these prominent clans. Such communities farm a variety of fungus, raise rothe, etc. While belligerent towards other nations, they are open to trading, even almost friendly. They have 10 hammerships that serve as a defense and attack fleet. Most of the nation’s traders are independently operated, mainly Angelships.

Aksaravan Drenoth (Cloakers, CE)

This realm is ruled by a council of one hundred cloaker lords, located in a city that is only accessible by flying. The cloakers deeply dislike other races, and rarely welcome them. They have a small fleet of four spelljamming vessels that look like Smalljammers, but they are artificially created; they are used for defense only and piloted by cloaker lords who have become shadow mages. Their realm lies off a tunnel connecting Gorelgak’s Rest to the troglodyte confederacy of Vorgodrak.

Hergorath (Grimlocks, NE)

Many grimlocks in the sphere serve as slaves to other races like the fomorians, while there are also independent villages scattered about. In one place, however, they have managed to forge a kingdom under a family of powerful kings. The current king is K’gral, and he has organized his people into a very strong fighting force, and secured independence by hiring out regiments of mercenaries throughout the sphere. The realm, centered around K’gral’s fortress of Golor, is located near the cavern holding Port Kaurthok, along a cavern leading to the sphere wall and phlogiston rivers to other spheres.

Ushoron (Xorn, TN)

The xorn of Cthonspace use their Stoneships to fly about the sphere relatively unimpeded. They have a realm, however, ruled as a sort of collective democracy where every xorn has a vote in policy, but most are left to their own devices. This realm is essentially an enormous mine, but the mine for them functions more as a farm than a source of trade goods, given what they eat. Because of this, they interact little with other races, although they occasionally will trade indigestible items they have discovered or recovered to other races for the minerals they eat. It is also rumored they have a trade deal with the pechs allowing them to use a hidden portal to the Elemental Plane of Earth. Their cavern home is located off the cavern holding Port Kaurthok.

Deepearth Delve (Pechs, NG)

Deepearth Delve is a vast mine complex with a handful of surface connections, which is home to a large colony of pechs. The pechs are governed by a democratic council representing all of the settlements in the mine complex, with elections held every six years. The pechs are friendly to visitors, and the capital of Schistholme has some amenities for travelers, but they mostly keep to themselves. They have 8 Eel ships that they use for defense and minor trade. They are located at the far end of a large cavern that holds one of the two known fire bodies within the sphere; this “sun” is dull, dim red, but still makes the cavern brighter than anywhere else in the sphere.
Shop: Mrat’s Supplies: Ship equipment and provisions
Shop: Kot’s Trade Goods: uncut gems, metal ingots
Tavern: The Pick and Mattock: Shaa, proprietor.

Juravth (Bainligors, NE)

The bainligors of Cthonspace have a loose tribal confederation composed of 12 tribes, headed by a council of the Revered Ones, led by a single elected Most Revered One. The tribes are mostly nomads and marauders, riding on large bats to attack ships or villages. They produce little of value, and rarely trade with other creatures. They are located in a small, narrow cavern off the cavern holding the troglodyte confederation.

Deraldar (Mongrelmen, LN)

This small, hidden realm, hidden by an illusion within the cavern holding Deepearth Delve, is a refuge for peace-loving mongrelmen and goblinoids. The entrance is well hidden, in part with illusions, and they avoid interacting with other races. They have no military, but they do maintain a Shrikeship that operates as a trading vessel. Many fine craftsmen live within the city, and high quality goods are easily available. A handful of non-mongrelmen members of the community periodically leave to preach in the goblinoid ports, attempting to subtly alter their character.
Temple, The Hall of Persistence: Temple to Meriadar, mongrelman priest named Vettor (mongrelman m P7)
Shop, Batha’s Goods: Ship’s provisions (hobf)
Wizard’s Enclave: Led by Gerdan (mongrelman m W8)
Crabclaw Tavern: Proprietor Nagyek (kob m)

Quaggoths (TN)

The quaggoths live in small independent tribes and villages throughout the sphere, and are one of the more common slave races. On an individual level, these tribes vary widely in aggressiveness. They mostly use stone-age technology, although they utilized scavenged goods if they can. A loose organization of tribes that have mutual defense pacts can be found near the mongrelman city of Deraldar.

Hurwaeti (LN)

The hurwaeti have no organized presence in the system, although there were once colonies from their sphere-spanning empire. These hurwaeti have degenerated into salt and swamp wiggles, although few remain independent now. The only significant independent number of swamp wiggles can be found in a small cave that contains the second of the fire bodies in this sphere; the cavern is also home to a significant number of gargantua, which serve to protect the wiggles. All normal wiggles found in the sphere are immigrants.

Monsters and Animals

A large number of monsters can be found in the sphere, although many are only found on the surface of the tunnels. None of the intelligent ones form any sort of communities. The more notable creatures are as follows:

—Asteroid Spiders
—Bat-Fish (inoffensive life that looks like fish with bat-like wings)
—Bats and Spiders of enormous sizes (ship-sized, posing a threat to the ships more than the crew)
—Gargantua, primarily reptilian and insectoid
—Gargoyles and Margoyles
—Hook Horrors
—Jammer Leech
—Purple Worms
—Rock Hoppers
—Rogue Moons
—Rothe (mostly domesticated)
—Rust Monsters
—Subterranean Lizards

Of note, the following powerful, intelligent individual creatures can be found in the sphere:
—Albino wyrms (insane dragon-kin that are marauding hazards)
—Sapphire Dragons (including the Great Wyrm Naumoroth, who can act as a sage)
—Shadow Dragons (including the Great Wyrm Garvorax, who can also act as a sage, although is less inclined to help)
—A Fal named Huth Zal Thu, located near Deepearth Delve, who is the most learned individual in the sphere.

5 Responses to Cthonspace: An Underdark Sphere

  1. AuldDragon says:

    Hey folks, just wanted to let you know that there’s no deity this month; my father passed away at the end of April, and that really set me back on writing. Instead of just having nothing, I decided to turn some of the notes from my Spelljammer campaign into posts. A new deity will return next month!

  2. Anghammarand says:

    I notice that Margoth’s class details are redacted. Well played ;)

    This is a great sphere for an Underdark-esque Campaign or adventure arc! I loved port Deraldar, Mongrelmen ftw!

  3. Ben Haley says:

    Absolutely marvelous. Thank you for this! Always excited to see further expansion of the Spelljammer universe.

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