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This article is about the creature. For the general term that spelljamming folks applied to planet-bound persons, see groundling on the Spelljammer Wiki.

Groundlings were monstrous hybrids between dwarves and giant badgers created by the Zhentarim to serve as assassins.[1][2]


Groundlings had the general short and stocky physique of dwarves, and could be mistaken for dwarves from a distance. However, they were covered in wild and course fur, and had long snouts, small ears, and narrow eyes that gave them a badger-like appearance. They had large fangs and powerful, blade-like claws. They were said to always reek of rotting meat.[1][2]


Groundlings preferred to remain underground or in their burrows, and could become dazed or confused if exposed to bright lights. They were voracious, and needed to eat a lot in order to fuel their magically-enhanced burrowing powers. They would eat almost anything, but preferred meat.[2]

They were not very intelligent, but were nevertheless cunning when it came to planning traps or ambushes.[1][2]


Owing to their magically enhanced bodies and claws, groundlings could dig at remarkable speeds, even tunneling through packed dirt with little difficulty. They had an amazing sense of smell, making them very good trackers, but had bad eyesight and were highly sensitivity to light.[2] As they had originally been dwarves, they maintained that race's resistances to magic and poison.[1]


When possible, groundlings preferred to prepare for battles by setting ambushes, readying attacks from multiple angles, and planning feigned retreats. They used their burrowing abilities to flank enemies from below in order to gain tactical advantages and the element of surprise. Their favorite tactic was to explode up from the ground at a target's feet, spraying them with dirt and dust, before grabbing them with their claws and dragging them into their tunnels where they had the advantage.[1][2]

When groundlings killed a victim, they preferred to eat it.[2]


An ornery groundling.

Groundlings were created in the laboratories of Darkhold by evil Zhentarim wizards.[1][2] It was unclear whether they could breed, and these cruel experiments were the most common source of new groundlings.[2]

The Zhents used groundlings to track down and assassinate targets. They regulated the groundings using a tightly-controlled "guild" that assigned missions and dictated rules, the most notable of which being that groundlings were forbidden to kill except as part of a mission.[1] Groundlings had no social structures or culture beyond these guild rules. While they hated their lives of forced servitude, they rarely defied orders. They were conditioned to believe that if they served long or well enough, they would be returned to their old dwarven selves (although there is no record of the Zhentarim ever granting such a reward).[2]

Most groundlings dwelt in the dungeons beneath Darkhold when not out on a mission.[1][2] When travelling, they would big small, shallow warrens in which to hide from the sun during the day.[2]


Most groundlings knew at least a few words in Common and many could hold simple conversations, although they snarled when they spoke.[1][2]


Groundlings serving the Zhentarim were active in the 14th century DR.[1] In the Year of the Snow Winds, 1335 DR, groundlings were sent to assassinate Prince Azoun Obarskyr IV of Cormyr, but they were inadvertently thwarted by Artus and Scoril Cimber.[4]



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