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Riding lizards were a common species of large, sleek subterranean reptiles that were used as mounts by most of the major races of the Underdark,[3] in particular the drow, as well as a food source by other creatures of the Underdark.[2][4]


Riding lizards were large, roughly comparable in size to a horse,[5] but smaller than a pack lizard.[4] They measured on average 20​ to ​22 feet (6.1​ to ​6.7 meters) in length, with half of that length being made up by their tails.[2] Their legs were splayed wide[5] and sported three-toed feet with sticky pads that allowed them to cling to surfaces such as walls and ceilings.[2] They typically walked on all fours,[1][2] much like a newt or monitor lizard,[1] but were more than capable of walking and fighting on their hind legs with keen balance.[2]


Riding lizards preferred to take to the walls and ceiling, rather than travel on the ground where predators could more easily track them.[2]

Drow often used magical means of compulsion in the training and use of riding lizards so that they would be both fearless and perfectly obedient.[2]


Riding lizards had very keen balance. Due to their diets the species had built up an immunity to poisons of arachnids, centipedes, and other insects, as well as all fungal spores. Trained riders could stay seated when their mount was upside-down. They had infravision up to 160 feet (49 meters), but they were susceptible to partial blindness due to bright light,[2] though some could not see in the dark and instead relied upon their keen sense of smell.[5]


Riding lizards could bite, kick with their hind legs, and jump up to 30 feet (9.1 meters) horizontally and 15 feet (4.6 meters) upwards.[2]


Around the 14th century DR, Vhurn Bhaelyndryn's Bestiary in the bazaar of Menzoberranzan was known to supply riding lizards and their associated gear.[6] Also around this time, the city of Ched Nasad supplied riding lizards to surface-dwelling drow in the Dalelands through means of the Ched Nasad portal.[7]

Circa 1480 DR, Vhurn's establishment was still supplying riding lizards to denizens of the Underdark.[8]


In the wild these lizards ran in large, loose packs that mated often but didn't form family units. The strongest riding lizards of either sex served as guardians for other members of their pack, though the defense and feeding of the pregnant was considered the responsibility of all members of the pack. Females birthed their young live, producing on average around one to eight every seven months or so.[2]


Riding lizards were an omnivorous species, noted for eating snakes, centipedes, rats, lichen, and fungi.[2]


Many riding lizards were raised in captivity by drow, who occasionally captured wild specimens (typically by use of spells) in order to vary their bloodlines. It took over a year of training to make a riding lizard fully obedient to more than one rider[2] and follow silent directions.[5] A finely trained mount could sell for as high as 1,000 gold pieces, though most only went for around 600 or 700 gp, while young and untrained riding lizards typically sold for around 200 to 500 gp.[2]

Though they were seen as being most advantageous for traversing the Underdark,[2] some drow did bring them to the surface to use as mounts,[5][9] such as Vhaeraunans on their new moon stag hunts.[9]

Most drow noble houses had at least a few riding lizards, with the larger houses able to support whole squadrons of riding lizard cavalry armed with crossbows carrying poisoned bolts.[5] Many drow house insignias were also magically enspelled to control riding lizard mounts.[2]

Beyond the drow, riding lizards were commonly used as mounts by gold dwarves[10] and the shield dwarves of Iltkazar.[11] They were raised by duergar across much of the Middledark,[12] who considered riding lizard meat a staple of their diet. Comparatively, drow would only ever eat those that died of misfortunate circumstances.[2]

Notable riding lizards[]

The mount of Tiago Baenre, killed in 1466 DR.[13]


See Also[]

  • Pack lizard, another common species of giant subterranean lizard utilized by drow.


Further Reading[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 308. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 Ed Greenwood (1992). Menzoberranzan (The City). Edited by Karen S. Boomgarden. (TSR, Inc), p. 92. ISBN 1-5607-6460-0.
  3. Eric L. Boyd (November 1999). Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark. Edited by Jeff Quick. (TSR, Inc.), p. 9. ISBN 0-7869-1509-9.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ed Greenwood (1992). Menzoberranzan (The City). Edited by Karen S. Boomgarden. (TSR, Inc), p. 85. ISBN 1-5607-6460-0.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Drow Pets and Animal Companions. Wizard of the Coast. (2003-26-08). Archived from the original on 2003-07-03. Retrieved on 2019-02-16.
  6. Ed Greenwood (1992). Menzoberranzan (The City). Edited by Karen S. Boomgarden. (TSR, Inc), p. 48. ISBN 1-5607-6460-0.
  7. Ramon Arjona (2002-11-13). “Dark Elf Portals: The Ched Nasad Portal. Perilous Gateways. Wizards of the Coast. Archived from the original on 2004-02-16. Retrieved on 2016-07-16.
  8. Brian R. James, Eric Menge (August 2012). Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 90. ISBN 978-0786960361.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Eric L. Boyd (November 1998). Demihuman Deities. Edited by Julia Martin. (TSR, Inc.), p. 38. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.
  10. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 14. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  11. Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 20. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
  12. Bruce R. Cordell, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick (October 2003). Underdark. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 151. ISBN 0-7869-3053-5.
  13. R.A. Salvatore (March 2013). The Last Threshold. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 356. ISBN 0-7869-6364-6.