Oryndoll, the City of Loretakers, was a large underground mind flayer citystate in the Lowerdark of the Darklands. Oryndoll was one of the earliest illithid cities on Toril and was highly famed for its inhabitants rampant collection of exclusive knowledge. Its wealth of knowledge rivaled even Candlekeep's great library. The mere mention of the city struck fear into most Underdark denizens of southwestern Faerûn not only due to it being an illithid city, but also because it was a holy site of the deity Ilsensine. This city was the birthplace of both the duergar[note 1] and tren[note 2] races as well as the tzakandi, urophion, and mozgriken ceremorphs.
Surface Oryndoll was located in the Underdark beneath the Shining Plains. It lay ninety miles northwest of Ormath and 90 miles northeast of Lheshayl. It was slightly more than 26 miles beneath the surface.
Underdark The city was difficult to reach from other places in the Underdark because of its depth, but since the Mindstalker Wars, many tunnels were made that breached into the tunnels of Old Shanatar. Many of these eventually served as slaving routes for the drow of Guallidurth. There were also tunnels that led to Barakuir, the Underspires, Undraeth, the Savage Frontier, Anauroch, Cairnheim, and Tellectus. Beyond this, there was a psionic gate that connected the outskirts of Oryndoll to shallow caverns beneath the Spines of Surkh that was only known of by the illithid. It is of note that an ancient route between Guallidurth and Oryndoll existed, that was open to the surface through sinkholes in the Forest of Mir as well as tunnels connecting to dungeons beneath the Vorpal Tower. The illithid of Oryndoll heavily guarded the information of routes to the city, with people claiming to have reached it often disappearing soon after, with maps both false and true disappearing within days of discovery. As a result, the ways into Oryndoll were constantly getting rediscovered and summarily forgotten.
The city was divided into three major sections on top of one another.
- Thrall Caverns
- This was the upper level of Oryndoll, and was where all the thralls were kept.
- Ring Caverns
- This was the middle level, and was deep below the thrall caverns.
- Undervaults of Ilsensine
- This was the lowest level of Oryndoll. Harvested information was psionically imprinted and stored in the encephalic fluid of pools called the Thought Basins. The elder brain was located at the center of the Undervaults.
The Crown Wars
The Founding Time
From −8100 DR to −8080 DR, the Mindstalker Wars between Oryndoll and the shield dwarves of Shanatar took place. This was started when Oryndoll launched attacks on the eastern subkingdoms of Shanatar. Their attack on Barakuir successfully destroyed the subkingdom. The illithids made Clan Duergar of Barakuir into thralls and took them back to Oryndoll. These later became the duergar. By the end of the wars, the illithid had been pushed back, but the dwarves of Shanatar never reached Oryndoll.
Between –8100 and −4000 DR, the illithids worked heavily on breeding Clan Duergar to make them psionic, loyal, and capable in preparation for another all-out war against Shanatar. They succeeded in everything but breeding in loyalty.
Around −4000 DR, the duergar rose up against the mind flayers, plunging the city into chaos. Only the appearance of an avatar of the deity Ilsensine was able to save the city. The duergar resettled in the Northdark.
The Age of Humanity
The Present Age
In 1358 DR, during the Time of Troubles, Ilsensine adopted as its avatar the elder brain in Oryndoll, stimulating illithid society. The illithids created new technologies, new psionic items, and more psionic disciplines, as well as renewed their assaults on surface lore holdings. Soon after, an party of mind flayers from the loretaker Creed left the city and adventured out to Ilsensine's realms, the Caverns of Thought. It is not known if they succeeded, but all the loretakers who returned, did so as heretics who venerated Thoon. They were cast out of Oryndoll.
Another event that occurred in 1370 DR was when the Encephalithid turned away an illithid cleric named Qooql who led the cult named Unworthy of Ilsensine. The cleric who was on a pilgrimage had thought it was a test from Ilsensine and so waited until it was forcibly removed by the city's thralls.
Around 1374 DR, the Council of Oryndoll learned of a lost fragment of an avatar of Ilsensine somewhere in Sembia (actually buried in a sandy cave on Sembia's coast). The Council hoped to sooth the god's anger by recovering the fragment and sent their scout Z'dusk to retrieve it. In turn, Z'dusk hired the Stray Thoughts company in Sembia, and perhaps other adventurers and mercenaries, to hunt for the fragment, describing it as only a psionic artifact of unspecified nature and powers, for a 25,000-gp reward. However, rather than pay up, Z'dusk and the Council intended to slay whoever got it first and take it from them.
In 1384 DR, the War of Gold and Gloom came to an unexpected end in the abandoned halls of Barakuir. The crusaders of the Great Rift discovered a collection of ancient runestones while the fighting between the Army of Gold and the Army of Steel was raging. The runestones depicted the betrayal of Clan Duergar by the illithid of Oryndoll. This discovery made the illithids of the loretaker Creed unleash a horde of thralls on the embattled armies. The army of thralls was shattered, and most of the duergar were killed. Half of the gold dwarves were also killed. This conflict united the remnants of the gold dwarven and duergar armies against the illithid of Oryndoll. The combined army then marched west into Old Shanatar to reclaim a lost bastion of Deep Shanatar to use as a base against a possible illithid invasion.
In 1370 DR, there were approximately 6,000 mind flayers, 400 of them were ulitharid. There was of course, also an elder brain named Encephalithid. There were also 8,000 ceremorphs in the city of Oryndoll. These were mostly tzakandi, but also included urophions and mozgriken. The city also had 11,000 thralls which were lizardfolk, troglodytes, tren, duergar, and many other races. There were also around 200 golems, most of which were nyraala golems, though a few brain golems were also in the city.
The worship of the deity Ilsensine was dominant in the city especially after the Time of Troubles. Ilsensine's tenets were present in the daily life of the mind flayers. The most powerful Creed was the Venerators who were the clergy of Ilsensine.
Maanzecorian was revered as well until his death at the hands of Tenebrous, the undead remnants of the demon lord Orcus. In the aftermath of those events, the Elder Concord had scrambled to save what lore they could from the collapse of Maanzecorian's realm on the plane Gehenna. Maanzecorian returned during the Second Sundering though whether its worship was started anew in Oryndoll is unknown.
The tenets of the loretaker Creed dominated much of the culture of the illithids. Oryndoll's main united purpose was to acquire knowledge no matter how trivial, through stripping it from the thrall races. The end goal of this was to reduce the rest of Toril to barbarism.
The mind flayers like in most illithid communities believed that all wisdom comes from the elder brain, that dominion is life, that what is not illithid is a thrall, and that as the spawn of Ilsensine they are destined to subjugate the lesser races. It was maintained that joining with the elder brain is the greatest reward any illithid could hope for after a long life. However, The ulitharid that led Oryndoll were wise enough to know that destroying all light would cause irreparable damage to both the surface and the underdark. Because of this, Oryndoll unlike most illithid hives did not have a strong push to darken the realms above.
Citizenship in the city of loretakers was reserved to illithids. In effect, most of the city's occupants being either thralls or ceremorphs were not citizens.
Duergar, lizardfolk, tren and troglodytes formed their own clans and tribes, and beyond being thralls were normal for their kind. There was enmity that existed between the Duergar clans and the reptilian tribes, though the illithid actively squashed any any thoughts of violence. The outliers either become a part of a tribe or clan or end up on the outskirts having to survive by themselves under illithid rule.
The main currency of Oryndoll was priceless knowledge, lost lore, and exclusive information. Illithids bought and sold lore in several different ways, among them were rare tomes, crumbling scrolls, and feeblemind-spelled thralls with information placed into their minds.
Internally, many illithids bought, bred, and sold thralls, as well as made ceremorphs. Fewer illithids traded externally compared to most other hives.
It was common for illithids to organize raids with the purpose of gaining new lore or increasing the rarity of owned lore.
Mindgates, which were jarred and jellied eyeballs, served as the physical currency of Oryndoll. The value of a jellied eyeball was determined by the degree of sentience of the race it was taken from. Human eyes generally ranged from nine to twelve gold pieces, though some were known to reach eighteen gold pieces. The value of a mindgate was determined by the psychic residues in the eyeball.
It was possible for thrall races to buy knowledge from the illithid, but the price of the transaction was inflated to ten times its value. If the information was exclusive in nature, then only other exclusive knowledge was accepted in such a trade.
On top of this, the illithid of Oryndoll produced psionically active items, jewellery, and rich clothing fitted for illithid. The abysmal Creed also produced masks that depicted moments of pure horror. All of these items were available for trade both internally and externally.
Two bodies governed the city of Oryndoll. The Encephalithid was the elder brain of the city. There was a council called the Elder Concord, that consisted of the Encephalithid and the nine Creedmasters in the city. Every Creedmaster was an ulitharid and they were all equal on the council in theory. The Creedmaster of the loretaker Creed often set the council's agenda at the behest of the Encephalithid. It was called Tharcereli.
This changed, however, with Ilsensine's return during the Time of Troubles. This new appearance in Oryndoll upset the balance of power that had been in place and gave the Creedmaster of the Venerators the most power in the Elder Concord. It was called Cephalossk, the spawn of Lugribossk.
The Elder Concord closely monitored trade of exclusive knowledge with officials named quastors who acted as mediators and either approved or declined the trade.
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This city was a nigh-impenetrable fortress. Oryndoll was heavily defended with different traps, psionic wards, magical defenses, and fortifications, many of which were focused on other species.
One of the most important defenses was the Encephalithid itself. It was able to detect non-shielded minds for five miles in every direction and also speak directly to others through innate telepathy. It was also able to scry through dominated thralls or willing individuals.
It was structured through overlapping psionic seals that covered much of the cavern walls of the city. The Encephalithid maintained the near-mythal, which was created by the combined efforts of entire generations of illithid.
It was used by individual illithids with the Encephalithid's permission to augment their psionic powers, heal themselves, gain temporary immunities to magical and nonmagical effects, and detect the presence of undead and other intruders. It also assisted illithid in utilizing the lore caches in the Undervaults of Ilsensine.
Oryndoll's military consisted mainly of thralls, led by vigileaters. Officers were divided into 3 divisions which covered military offense and defense, policing actions, and intelligence. Each branch was headed by a High Vigileator The three divisions were the Errant Thoughts, the Minders and the Lore Filchers. Enslaved quaggoth berserkers were used as shock troops.
The mind flayers frequently patrolled their territory with squads commanded by vigileators. The environs of the city also had at least twelve gholbrorn psionically dominated by illithids and separated into four hunting schools controlled by the Nourisher Creed. They were used to chase down those who tried to enter the region uninvited.
Major tunnels, of which there were at least a dozen, were also defended by three vigileators, a dozen or more elite thralls, and two tzakandi. Each mind flayer posted in these tunnels was equipped with varying numbers of psionic powered items. These included a psychic reservoir, a psychic sword, tentacle extension, a tessadyle robe and a gauntlet of Tyla'zhus.
The tunnels surrounding Oryndoll also had many urophions that acted as the first line of defense. These urophions resided just inside the influence of the Encephalithid, and so could receive augments to their defenses from it.
Locations in Oryndoll
Inns and Taverns
- The Skull Cup: This was an inn in the northwestern Ring Caverns.
- The Spinal Tap: This was a tavern in the Southern Ring Caverns.
- The Succulent Encephalon: This was a feasthall or eatery in the eastern Ring of Caverns.
- The Breeding Pen: This was in the southwestern Ring Caverns, and was where illithid went to breed their thralls.
Shops and Bazaars
- The Slave Suk: This was a slave market located in a natural cavern at the heart of the Ring Caverns, at an intersection of three tunnels.
- The Cenotaph of Maanzecorian: This was once a small house of worship in the Undervaults of Ilsensine.
- The Grotto of Sacred Thoughts: This was a vast natural cavern in the heart of Undervaults of Ilsensine.
- The Scriptoriums: Areas of the city that were held by the loretaker Creed.
- The Workshops: Areas of the city that were utilized by the creative Creed.
- The Armories: Areas of the city that were held by the tamer Creed.
- The Menageries: Areas of the city that were utilized by the nourisher Creed.
- The Vaults of Terror: Areas of the city that were held by the abysmal Creed.
- The Pillars of Thought: A large cave that was utilized by the influencer Creed.
- The Hall of Melding: A cave held by the gatherer Creed.
- The Darkened Vault: A section of tunnels held by the ariser Creed.
- The Shrines of the Great Brain: Sections of the city that were controlled by the venerator Creed.
- The Flowstone Tapestry: This was a natural rock formation of sparkling calcite.
- The Amphitheater: This was a large arena that was located in the nexus tunnels, which were a set of tunnels that connected five of the Ring Caverns together.
- The Lost Ring: This was a Ring Cavern that was abandoned at the advent of the Time of Troubles.
- The Void Pool: This was a seemingly unremarkable pool of water in the northeastern Thrall Caverns.
Organizations in Oryndoll
The awaiters, possessors, thorough biters, and the darkeners were not present in Oryndoll.
- Loretaker Creed: This Creed was responsible for the organizing and translating knowledge brought to the city.
- Creative Creed: This Creed was for the scientists and the inventors.
- Tamer Creed: This Creed controlled much of the city's martial and nonpsionic might.
- Nourisher Creed: This Creed was responsible for breeding thralls, and also for supplying the city with a fresh supply of brains.
- Abysmal Creed: This Creed was special for torturers.
- Influencer Creed: This Creed's purpose was to find secrets and change opinions through indirect methods.
- Gatherer Creed: This Creed was in place to promote immigration.
- Ariser Creed: This Creed focused on plundering and/or invading surface lore houses.
- Venerator Creed: This Creed was for the religion of Ilsensine.
- Errant Thoughts: Military organization that was associated with the Tamer Creed.
- Minders: Military organization that was associated with the Loretaker Creed.
- Lore Filchers: Military organization that was associated with the Influencer Creed.
- The Brain Brokerage: This was a trading coster in the southwestern reaches of Oryndoll's Ring Caverns.
- Encephalithid, the elder brain of Oryndoll.
- Cephalossk, the most powerful ulitharid in the city, Creedmaster of the Venerator's Creed, high priest of Ilsensine.
- Tharcereli, the second-most powerful ulitharid in the city, Creedmaster of the Loretaker's Creed.
- Syrzan, led the slave revolt in Menzoberranzan during the War of the Spider Queen.
- Cernd Shattermind, a failed dwarven ceremorph who lived in Iltkazar under heavy watch.
- Ralayan, an alhoon member of the Twisted Rune.
- Mullivan, an adventurer that tried to cleanse the mind flayers from Calimshan and Tethyr.
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