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Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark (2e)


The place has many names: the Underdark, Deepearth, the Realms Below, the Night Below, the Lightless Lands. This vast world beneath the surface is home to fabled races such as beholders, cloakers, drow, illithids, and ixzan. Menzoberranzan, the dreaded City of Spiders, is only one of the hidden cities of the Underdark.

This 128-page book, compiled by the Underdark's most famous son, Drizzt Do'Urden, lays bare the bizarre societies that lurk in the Realms Below. It includes an overview of the major races of the Underdark, an Underdark survival guide, and details and maps of the more than a dozen cities. Discover a drow city construdted entirely of calcified spider silk, a nigh-immortal dwarven king trapped in stone form, and a storehouse of knowledge that rivals Candlekeep. Learn the particulars of the alliance between Manshoon and the beholders of the Anaurian Hive, the ambitions of the true master of Firedrake Bay, and an explanation of the enduring strength of the beholder cults along the Lake of Steam.

With Drizzt Do'Urden as your guide, a whole new world opens up beneath your feet.

Suitable for all levels of play.

Product History

Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark (1999), by Eric L. Boyd, is a sourcebook for the Forgotten Realms. It was published in November 1999.

About the Cover. Drizzt Do'Urden poses, like the Fabio of the Underdark.

Origins (I): Beyond Deities. Designer Eric Boyd got his start writing for the Forgotten Realms with a trilogy of deity books, from Faiths & Avatars (1996) to Demihuman Deities (1998). Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark (1999) marked his first opportunity to move beyond those godly grounds.

Origins (II): Evolving Underdarks. Boyd heavily researched his deity books, and that is obviously the case here as well because he isn't shy to list his major references. They of course start out with the "D" adventures (1978) that introduced the Underdark and the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide (1986) that codified it. Boyd also notes past Forgotten Realms sourcebooks like FOR2: Drow of the Underdark (1991) and Menzoberranzan (1992). Of course Night Below: An Underdark Campaign (1995) was another resource. Novels were important too, including R.A. Salvatore's Dark Elf Trilogy (1990-1991) and Legacy of the Drow (1992-1996) and Elaine Cunninham's Starlight & Shadows (1995-1996).

The Underdark had evolved a long way from its quiet beginnings in TSR's first adventure modules!

Origins (III): Many References. Boyd's extensive research results in Underdark being full of tiny references. For example, drow cities are drawn from the list in Drow of the Underdark and from obscure references in Menzoberranzan, while information on the sharn homeland came from The Ruins of Undermountain (1991). The details on the ancient dwarf kingdom of Shantar originated in FR11: "Dwarves Deep" (1990). The illithid city of Llacerellyn was mentioned in "Skullport" (1999) and "Elminster's Ecologies Appendix II: The High Moor & The Serpent Hills", and the latter book was also the origin of the derro city of Tsenviilyq.

Inclusion of these carefully collected tidbits of Realmslore was a normal part of Boyd's writing style. He says, "When I do a turnover, I always turnover a detailed list of citations … for each and every design decision I made based in part on existing Realmslore. This is solely for my benefit and the benefit of the editor and is not intended to be published."

Eras of the Realms: 1370 DR.

Exploring the Realms: The Underdark. Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark is the single-most comprehensive sourcebook on the realms of the Underdark that lie beneath the Sword Coast. It talks about the major peoples of the Underworld and details dozens of cities, including Menzoberranzan and many others.

Monsters of Note. Underdark depicts an underworld ruled by aboleth, beholders, cloakers, drow, dwarves, illithids, ixzan, kuo-toa, and svirfneblin. The drow and kuo-toa were of course the subjects of Gary Gygax's original "D" series. The mind flayers and cloakers came from the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide, though the latter are one of the least know of these races. Aboleth became particularly popular in Night Below. Boyd thus offers a nice list of monstrous races with many classics, some surprises, and some races that had received too little attention to date.

NPCs of Note. The titular Drizzt was of course the Realms' most famous character, but he's just barely narrator in this book.

The most amusing NPC is probably Ilserv of the Illithids, who "was inadvertently petrified by Xanathar, Waterdeep's beholder crime lord. For many years thereafter, Ilservs stony form graced a rock garden outside the mansion of Mirt the Moneylender." This is one of Boyd's deep references, building on a story from a Jeff Grubb comic, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #12 (November 1989). Unfortunately, what Boyd didn't know was that Grubb had destroyed the poor statue illithid in Forgotten Realms Annual #1 (1990). Later, Boyd suggested that perhaps Mirt had the statue put back together.

Whoops. The pictures for the svirfneblin (page 27) and the other races (page 28) got flipped. No, deep gnomes in the Realms do not look like mongremen!

Future History. Boyd wrote a pair of complementary articles detailing additional cities of the Underdark: "The City of Sunken Spires" appears in Dragon #267 (January 2000) and "Llurth Dreier: City of Ooze" in Polyhedron #140 (February 2000).

About the Creators. Software engineer Eric Boyd cut his teeth on a trilogy of deity sourcebooks for the Realms. Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark marked his first expansion into other areas of the Realms.

About the Product Historian

The history of this product was researched and written by Shannon Appelcline, the editor-in-chief of RPGnet and the author of Designers & Dragons - a history of the roleplaying industry told one company at a time. Please feel free to mail corrections, comments, and additions to

We (Wizards) recognize that some of the legacy content available on this website does not reflect the values of the Dungeons & Dragons franchise today. Some older content may reflect ethnic, racial, and gender prejudice that were commonplace in American society at that time. These depictions were wrong then and are wrong today. This content is presented as it was originally created, because to do otherwise would be the same as claiming these prejudices never existed. Dungeons & Dragons teaches that diversity is a strength, and we strive to make our D&D products as welcoming and inclusive as possible. This part of our work will never end.

 Customers Who Bought this Title also Purchased
Reviews (5)
Discussions (3)
Customer avatar
RODRIGO R June 18, 2022 12:58 am UTC
Still waiting for the Menzoberranzan Boxed Set (TSR1083).
Customer avatar
Nicholas P July 19, 2021 5:52 pm UTC
POD please
Customer avatar
Grant R March 29, 2021 2:10 pm UTC
That is one of the worst illustrations of Drizz't I've ever seen! Still, a good and useful book
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