Chaulssin (pronounced: /ˈɔːlsɪnCHAWL-sin[3]) was a drow city in the Underdark. To some, it was the City of Wyrmshadows. Chaulssin lay beneath the northern Rauvin Mountains. It overhanged an extremely deep abyss and cold winds howled permanently through the city. It rested upon a great spar of stone. After it was conquered by shadow dragons and ruled by their descendants, the city was partially brought into the Plane of Shadow. Tendrils of shadow-stuff wound constantly through the city and deadly shadow creatures haunted the streets. Sometimes whole quarters of the city vanished into the Plane of Shadow and reappeared years later.[4] Due to its remote location and obscure history, Chaulssin was largely unknown to most inhabitants of the Underdark, let alone the World Above. This fact made it a perfect stronghold for the secret brotherhood of the Jaezred Chaulssin.[2]

By the time of the War of the Spider Queen, it was a city much in decline. Most of the city was abandoned, left to small shadar-kai bands to occupy or tribes of dark bears to occasionally wander through. The zekylyn largely lived alone in the upper reaches of the city's great galleries, or else trained under the Patron Fathers. The zar'thra'rin controlled the lesser tunnels of Chaulssin, and packs of them chased down any trespassers from the Plane of Shadow or the Underdark environs; these packs were led by the strongest male.[5]

The ilharen'quarthen dwelt in the heart of Chaulssin. They were the female concubines of the Patron Fathers and lived in luxurious apartments around the home of Patron Grandfather Mauzzkyl Jaezred. The Patron Grandfathers of other cities paid regular visits to their concubines here, as each of them could have only a few female zar'thra'rin with them outside Chaulssin.[5]

By 1372 DR, the city was the headquarters of the infamous Jaezred Chaulssin, an organization of powerful assassins and worshipers of Vhaeraun.[4]

History[edit | edit source]

Once this was a drow trade city, openly obedient to the priestesses. Now, it is a blank slate, and even as we speak it is being transformed.
— Patron Father Tomphael Arkenrret, 1372 DR[2]

Chaulssin was originally a drow city until the Year of Shambling Shadows, −221 DR), when the shadow dragons of Clan Jaezred conquered it and enslaved the inhabitants. It was given the appellation the "City of Wyrmshadows". For centuries, the Jaezred cruelly ruled Chaulssin, driving the drow nearly to extinction or transforming them into creatures of shadow, and even interbred with them. Out of these couplings came a race of half-drow, half-dragon creatures known as zekylyn. The Jaezred also slowly shifted the entire city onto their home plane, the Plane of Shadow.[6]

However, while pretending to serve their dragon masters, the zekylyn were secretly studying powerful planar magic on their own. In the Year of the Darkspawn, 634 DR, they launched a successful rebellion against the Jaezred, slaying and reanimating most of them as spectral creatures. One of the few who managed to escape was Haernivureem, who would later conquer the dwarven city of Mithral Hall, where he was known as Shimmergloom. The new rulers of Chaulssin, meanwhile, set about rebuilding it with the wealth the shadow dragons had hoarded over the years, which itself had been plundered from the zekylyn's original drow ancestors. Through this time as well, missionaries of Lolth started arriving from the other drow cities of Ched Nasad, Menzoberranzan, and Jhachalkhyn. The leaders of the Chaulssinyr, though, who were mostly male, rebuffed them constantly.[6]

Exile in the Plane of Shadow[edit | edit source]

In the Year of the Splendid Stag, 734 DR, Vhaeraun bestowed a shared dream and vision on the leaders of Chaulssin and declared, for their defiance, Lolth planned to punish them and had instructed the ruling council of Menzoberranzan to send a great force to take the city. The patriarchs of the City of Wyrmshadows quickly debated and elected to make a strategic retreat instead of a suicidal stand. They opened portals to the Plane of Shadow and left the city. When the Menzoberranzanyr drow arrived a few days later they found only an abandoned city wreathed in the Shadow Fringe. The monsters from the Plane of Shadow pressed them and the Menzoberranzanyr suffered heavy losses. Since there was nothing won from their expedition, they decided to claim victory and retreat, declaring ieving the Chaulssinyr had fled from the power of the Spider Queen. Meanwhile, the former inhabitants of Chaulssin ran into all kinds of menacing Shadow Plane creatures, but it was better them than a hostile army. They walked for miles through the Plane of Shadow until they found the abandoned lairs of Clan Jaezred, which they claimed for themselves. Here they began to build a new city for themselves, named Chaul'mur'ssin. But times were hard until the inhabitants gained a strong foothold and learned to adapt to the Plane of Shadow, losing much of their Prime Material nature and become creatures of shadow themelves. They gradually became stronger, posing a threat to other interlopers to the Plane of Shadow, such as Clan Malaug and the Shadovar of Thultanthar.[6]

In the Year of the Crimson Thorn, 792 DR, the priesthood of Vhaeraun declared the leadership of the Chaulssinyr was thoroughly infiltrated by the malaugrym. In a single day of hard fighting, the shapeshifters were exposed and slain, but many lives were lost and the patriarchy toppled. The Church of Vhaeraun seized power and established a brotherhood of assassins who could discover and slay shapeshifters—House Jaezred. Clan Malaug and the Chaulssinyr continued their fighting on and off over the years, but none could gain a lasting advantage. But the zekylyn learned from their enemies how to divide their dual natures and alternate their forms between drow and dragon, becoming the first drow-dragons. Achieving an edge against the malaugrym, House Jaezred earned the respect of all Chaulssinyr for this, and the leaders of the house seemed about to achieve greater influence than the ruling priests of Vhaeraun.[7]

Return of the Shadowkin[edit | edit source]

There was now friction between the brotherhood of House Jaezred and the clergy of Vhaeraun, with the clergy still nominally in charge. To prevent fratricidal strife, however, the House Jaezred patriarchs elect to go back to Faerûn as many dreamed and there hold dear the debt of the Chaulssinyr to Vhaeraun and undermine Lolth's dominance. But this also saw them grow more apart from Vhaeraunites. In the Year of the Shadowkin Return, 1136 DR, House Jaezred reoccupied Chaulssin, where they founded the House of Hidden Masters in its center and started to call themselves Jaezred Chaulssin. The City of Wyrmshadows was a perfect headquarters, yet it was deemed too hazardous for raising children, or assassins. The patron fathers therefore decided to found minor noble houses that would serve as fosterages in other drow cities: Ched Nasad, Eryndlyn, Karsoluthiyl, Jhachalkhyn, Maerimydra,Sschindylryn, and Dusklyngh (replacing Menzoberranzan, which was too hard to infiltrate). Jaezred Chaulssin also established several smaller fosterages throughout the Underdark where Lolth's power was minor but drow were accepted, like in Skullport or Sshamath.[7]

Threat from the Shapeshifters[edit | edit source]

During the Harpstar Wars (1182 DR to 1222 DR) the shapeshifters of Clan Malaug captured a Harper spy who had explored Chaulssin and so Clan Malaug learned of the return of their enemy to Faerûn and of their division. Only their own losses in the war stopped them from attacking the City of Wyrmshadows.[7]

Then, in the Year of the Lost Lady, 1241 DR, Clan Malaug were strong enough to act. In this year, a raiding party of malaugrym managed to kidnap a pregnant concubine of Patron Grandfather Mauzzkyl. The assassins of Jaezred Chaulssin tracked them down and slew the kidnappers before they reached Castle Malaug, but the concubine vanished during the fight.[7]

It wasn't until the Year of Shadows, 1358 DR, that the Patron Fathers learned of a female "drow-dragon" called Nurvureem—Mauzzkyl's lost child—operating on the surface. They elected to wait and watch this lone female of her kind who'd escaped being killed at birth.[7]

The War of the Spider Queen[edit | edit source]

After centuries of secret activities and infiltration of the seven drow cities ruled by Lolth's followers, the Year of Wild Magic, 1372 DR, promised to be the most important one for the plans of Jaezred Chaulssin. Now, thanks to Lolth's Silence they had a chance to attack a number of Lolthite cities simultaneously. They had their hands in the plot that brought stonefire bombs to Ched Nasad and caused the destruction of the whole city. In Eryndlyn, they brought the followers of Vhaeraun and Ghaunadaur together against the church of Lolth and swiftly decimated her faithful while they themselves ruled over the ruins. In Dusklyngh, Jhachalkhyn, and Karsoluthiyl, their attacks were smaller but they weakened the Matron Mothers' grip on power and helped the male-dominated merchant houses achieve influence. However, in Maerimydra, their plan backfired and instead the faithful of Kiaransalee won out and seized power over the city. In Menzoberranzan, the invasion of the duergar armies of Gracklstugh and the tanarukk of the Sceptered Legion failed when Lolth returned. Afterward, the patron fathers worked to consolidate their control of what was left of Ched Nasad and their influence on the factions of Eryndlyn; received tribute from the merchant houses under their control in Dusklyngh, Karsoluthiyl, and Jhachalkhyn; and to make their plans for the future. [8]

But then Vhaeraun was killed by his sister Eilistraee on Nightal 20, the Year of Risen Elfkin, 1375 DR[9], when he attempted to enter her realm and assassinate her. His portfolio was taken by her at that time.[10] Then in the Year of the Lost Keep, 1379 DR,[11] Eilistraee, while inhabiting the body of Qilué Veladorn, was killed by Halisstra Melarn using the Crescent Blade.[citation needed] What either of these deaths meant for Chaulssin or Chaul'mur'ssin is unknown.

Areas of Interest[edit | edit source]

Overview of the city.

Galleries of Shadow[edit | edit source]

All the lesser halls and chambers of Chaulssin connected via tunnels (and not otherwise part of the House of Hidden Masters) were known as the Galleries of Shadow. Zar'ithra'rin packs, dark bear tribes, and small shadar-kai bands considered it home, but close to the Shadow Fringe other beings from the Plane of Shadow appeared.[8]

Howling Abyss[edit | edit source]

Chaulssin rested on a huge spar of stone at the edge of a great chasm called the Howling Abyss. This stretched at least 3 miles (4,800 meters) over the city and more than 17 miles (27,000 meters) below it. Winds with the force of hurricanes blasted Chaulssin incessantly, and anyone on the battlements or flying over the chasm risked being swept away. The Howling Abyss was home to dangerous creatures, like belkers and voidwraiths. Meanwhile, the spectral shadow dragons, reanimated undead of the former rulers of Clan Jaezred, roamed through the city they once ruled and protected it against invaders.[8]

House of Hidden Masters[edit | edit source]

The chapterhouse of the Jaezred Chaulssin, called the House of Hidden Masters, stood in the center of Chaulssin. It was formerly the biggest temple of Lolth in the city, but was later desecrated. In its center was the opulent lair of the Patron Grandfather (Mauzzkyl Jaezred as of 1372 DR). On the walls hung tapestries woven from shadowstuff; these displayed distorted historical scenes. On the floor lay piles of coins, tarnished and of a range of mintings and types. Glistening onyx embedded with beljurils formed the arched ceiling. The lair of the old dragon was surrounded by the luxurious apartments of the concubines. Each of them resembled a small version of the main lair and was heavily guarded in fear of the Patron Fathers kidnapping or luring away one another's favored concubines. The inhabitants of each harem mostly lead and organized themselves when their masters are absent. But if worship of other gods was discovered it would be ruthlessly stomped out.[12]

Shadow Fringe[edit | edit source]

As the City of Wyrmshadows lay partly within the Plane of Shadow, tendrils of shadowstuff streamed through its ruins, ebbing and flowing erratically yet never fading away. These areas were termed the Shadow Fringe, and were like the Plane of Shadow in all respects. Creatures of the Plane of Shadow crossed these planar borders and lurked in the streets. On occasion, entire districts disappeared completely only to return years later.[13]

Government[edit | edit source]

The Jaezred Chaulssin ruled the city.[13]

Religion[edit | edit source]

The majority of Chaulssinyr worshiped the drow god Vhaeraun, paying him lip service if nothing else. The church of Vhaeraun in Chaulssin was led by Patron Father Xorthaul Barriath and his clerics among the Jaezred Chaulssin filled many influential posts. However, the other Patron Fathers discreetly opposed any attempt to turn the brotherhood into the church's militant arm. After Lolth's Silence, they went further in separating themselves from the Vhaeraunite hierarchy, in order to avoid getting caught in open conflict between them and the Lolthite clergy.[13]

Inhabitants[edit | edit source]

Dark Bears[edit | edit source]

Following the decline of their civilization after the end of Deepbear Battles in −1350 DR), a number of Northdark quaggoth tribes came to be dominated by other races, such as the drow of Chaulssin. They took deep bear mercenary tribes (known as "lost tribes" to other quaggoths) with them when they escaped into the Plane of Shadow, and their descendants came back as the dark bears. Their large tribes continued to serve as mercenary companies, guarding the city on its front lines and making the patrols of the Underdark around it.[13]

Shadar-kai[edit | edit source]

In the 13th and 14th centuries, many shadar-kai came to Chaulssin to serve the Jaezred Chaulssin, choosing to give up their freedom for magical help in holding back their curse. Elite shadar-kai spied on the works of Lolth-worshiping drow around the Northdark, while the majority operated in terms of three or more led by a velve.[13]

Spider-kissers[edit | edit source]

Some Lolth worshipers and even clerics—called "spider-kissers" by the Chaulssinyr at large—were suspected to exist in secret among the drow slaves and ilharen'quarthen of pure drow blood, and even the zar'ithra'rin.[13]

Ilharen'qarthen[edit | edit source]

The ilharen'qarthen—meaning "commanded mothers"—were the concubines in the harems of the Patron Fathers. They were all female and served the patron fathers for regular breeding. Most of them were zar'ithra'rin, while around 20% were female drow slaves of other cities. Ilharen'qarthen outranked all other slaves in Chaulssin, all below all the Jaezred Chaulssin. Within the ranks of the harem existed another kind of hierarchy, one in which a female of dragon blood was ranked above her full drow-blooded counterparts. The ilharen'qarthen usually gave birth to males (known as a zekyl), while the rare female child (known as a zebyl) was almost always killed at birth.[13]

Appendix[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). Dragons of Faerûn, Part 3: City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF). Wizards of the Coast. p. 6. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). Dragons of Faerûn, Part 3: City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF). Wizards of the Coast. p. 1. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  3. Adam Lee, Ben Petrisor, Matt Sernett (2016). Tyrants of the Underdark Rulebook. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 16. ISBN 978-1-9408-2585-4.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Bruce R. Cordell, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick (October 2003). Underdark. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 133. ISBN 0-7869-3053-5.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). Dragons of Faerûn, Part 3: City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF). Wizards of the Coast. pp. 1–2. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). Dragons of Faerûn, Part 3: City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF). Wizards of the Coast. p. 2. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). Dragons of Faerûn, Part 3: City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF). Wizards of the Coast. p. 3. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). Dragons of Faerûn, Part 3: City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF). Wizards of the Coast. p. 4. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  9. Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 158. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
  10. Lisa Smedman (January 2007). Sacrifice of the Widow. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-4250-9.
  11. Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 19. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
  12. Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). Dragons of Faerûn, Part 3: City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF). Wizards of the Coast. pp. 4–5. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 Eric L. Boyd (2007-04-25). Dragons of Faerûn, Part 3: City of Wyrmshadows (Zipped PDF). Wizards of the Coast. p. 5. Archived from the original on 2016-11-01. Retrieved on 2009-10-07.
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