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History[edit | edit source]
Sshamath was established in −4973 DR by the Lolth-worshiping drow house Sshamath. It was a standard drow city for nearly 2000 years. Then, in −2867 DR, it was discovered that the city's local faerzress was fluctuating badly. Five years later it was gone and the city was greatly weakened.
Around three centuries previously, the Matron Mothers of the city had given birth to an unusually large number of male children. This contributed to a large increase in the number of wizards, and a decrease in the number of priestesses. Thanks to the lack of nearby threats, the house wizards set about plundering the ruins of lost civilizations, such as Netheril and Oghrann. They took and duplicated every magical item that they could find, using them to instigate a very short civil war that killed all of the house matriarchs and replaced them with wizards. Thereafter, practitioners of the Art reigned supreme.
In the Year of the Lost Keep, 1379 DR, Q'arlynd Melarn was accepted into the Conclave of the School of Ancient Arcana. That same year, after the High Magic ritual that transformed those drow not tainted by Wendonai's blood and hundreds (but not all) among the followers of Eilistraee into their original dark elven forms, Seldszar, Master of the College of Divination, revealed that the College of Ancient Arcana and the College of Divination would be relocated to the surface City of Hope, which was ruled by the sharn.
Sorcerers, bards, and divine spellcasters were treated as secondary citizens because magic that was earned through work was much more respected than magic that came naturally or from deference to another.
The city was ruled over by the Conclave of Sshamath, an oligarchy composed of one representative from each of the eight schools of magical specialization, one who did not specialize, and one who was elected from among the more esoteric arcane practitioners (Elemental Savants, Deep Diviners, etc). The conclave rarely met, preferring to communicate via spells.
The shadow adept Nurissa Vyllshan wanted to get users of the Shadow Weave accepted as an official school and thus become eligible for a conclave seat. Unfortunately for her and her followers, the worship of Shar was frowned upon by the other wizards and this threatened the power of the already established members. However, some argued that the practitioners of Shadow magic should operate with conclave support rather than go unregulated.
The city itself was a major trading center for all things magical. One could find nearly anything a wizard could possibly want in the Dark Weavings Bazaar. If something was not available, it could likely be procured for an exorbitant fee by adventurers (including non-drow) for hire.
Slavery was also treated differently here than in other drow cities. Races considered capable of wizardry such as humans, elves, svirfneblin, and deep imaskari were never kept as slaves by citizens, however visitors to the city were allowed to bring in their slaves. Creatures who demonstrated an aptitude for wizardry were considered free in the eyes of Sshamath law and were allowed to live in a ghetto that was regulated by the conclave.
Notable Locations[edit | edit source]
At the bottom of the great cave was the Dark Weaving Bazaar, the marketplace of Sshamath. In hundreds of tents and small shops in stalagmites a visitor could buy almost everything. In the center of the bazaar was the slave market. In most other places such a market consisted of many tents and cages but in a city full of wizards it was housed in a single building. Magical glyphs on each side tried to encourage people to buy one or more slaves. The slaves were held in magical clearstones—magically shrunk to fit into fist-sized cubes and stored on shelves.
- The great pillar in the center of the city. It stretched from the floor of the cavern right to the roof which led to the entrance cave above the city. Hundreds of bridges extended from this great pillar, leading to individual homes.
- The Stonestave
- This was where the conclave met on the rare occasions when necessary. It was heavily guarded and warded. Like Z'orr'bauth, it stretched from the floor to the ceiling of the cavern. It got its name from its shape, that of a wizard's staff.
- The Darkspires
- Home of most artificers and smiths. Many of these were duergar who were indentured servants. Each smithy dealt independently from the colleges as a whole and instead plied their wares to whichever college they preferred.
- The Quillspires
- A cluster of hollowed stalactites hanging from the roof of the cavern, northwest of Z'orr'bauth where the city's scribes and low-level wizards created scrolls for sale in the bazaar and dealt with minor magical research.
- Tower of the Masked Mage
- A stalactite temple to Vhaeraun suspended over the Darkwoods. Some of the Shadow Adepts not under the dominance of Shar resided here, supporting Vyllshan's activities, but most residents were rogues.
- Web of the Spider Queen
- A cluster of stalactites and stalagmites that served as Lolth's temple in the city. Only a token deference was given to the Spider Queen by the city's citizens outside of the Web and among wizards, even less. The priestesses who lived here did good business with mages that required clerical spells to complete magical items.
- Fountain of Endless Elixirs
- A shop where any magical or non-magical liquid could be purchased.
- Genie's Wish
- A high-priced shop for new visitors to the city. It was in a stalactite shaped like a Calishite minaret so it was easily recognizable. Any visitors asking for help buying something were directed here where they were regularly tricked into buying cursed or nearly depleted items. Those who were experienced enough not to be fooled could utilize the shop's large inventory and its item location and retrieval service for a large non-refundable handler's fee. Prices were usually doubled on top of that for items found this way.
- Jacinth Rose
- Located right in the middle of the Dark Weavings Bazaar. Here, you could buy gemstones from all over Faerûn and some parts of Kara-Tur. Magical gems were sometimes available but non-drow were discouraged from buying them.
- Great Elixir
- The most famous tavern in the city. It was rumored that you could get any alcoholic beverage from the Realms Above or Below here. A pool in the center of the open-air court was filled by the slow drip of a stalactite above. Patrons trid to convince gullible visitors that it had magical properties but all it contained was guano runoff.
- Lukhorn's Gullet
- Located on the south edge of the bazaar, it was famous for its excellent meals. They could cater to any sentient being, regardless of palate. It was a series of ringed platforms, one atop the other, two of which were enclosed with walls of force and flooded with water (one salt, one fresh) to accommodate aquatic patrons. Another housed flame-dwelling creatures. Drow servers used levitation to quickly access each of the rings and serve customers.
- Shattered Scepter
- Located far from the center of Sshamath in the west the building was formed from a stalactite that fell and split into two parts. One part was used as a stable while the other formed the main building. The inn had over a dozen rooms for paying customers but the establishment was known as a place of ill-repute.
- Gloura's Wings
- A small festhall on the western edge of the bazaar. It was famous for a song written about the place that was popular among bards north of Amn. Three glouras ran the place, calling themselves the "Deep Queens", and it was staffed by beautiful minstrels and dancers.
- The Spider's Kiss
- A large festhall named after the practice of some drow females of killing their mates after breeding with them, much like some spiders. This place was known for selling a variety of poisons.
- A petrified forest in the southeast corner of the city that was home to the worst residents (and a few monsters). The conclave mostly ignored this sector.
Inhabitants[edit | edit source]
Sshamath's Ruling Conclave[edit | edit source]
- Masoj Dhuunyl: Master of Abjuration
- Shurdriira Helviiryn: Master of Alteration
- Urlryn Khalazza: Master of Conjuration and Summoning
- Seldszar Elpragh: Master of Divination
- Malaggar Xarann: Master of Enchantment and Charm
- Felyndiira T'orgh: Master of Illusion and Phantasm
- Krondorl Waeglossz: Master of Invocation and Evocation
- Tsabrak of the Blood: Master of Necromancy
- Guldor Zauviir: Master of Mages
- Antatlab of the Shaking Stones: Master of Elemental Magic
- Alak Faerzhind: Master of Apportation and senior member of the school of Alteration
- Calimar Arkhenneld: Master Emeritus of the School of Enchantment and Charm, premier creator of magical items in Sshamath, follower of Mystra
Other Inhabitants[edit | edit source]
- Q'arlynd Melarn: College of Ancient Arcana
- Nym Mlezziir: Battlemaster of the Eastern Marches & the ruins of Oghrann
- Nurissa Vyllshan: Mistress of the Shadow School
- Ilharess Laele Zauviir: Leader of the Spider Queen's temple
- Wildstorm: Leader of the Cult of Malyk
- Pharaun Lhalabar: Leader of the clergy of Vhaeraun
- S'feria Ranul: Cleric of Selûne
Appendix[edit | edit source]
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Eric L. Boyd (1999). Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark. (TSR, Inc), pp. 86–96. ISBN 0-7869-1509-9.
References[edit | edit source]
- Map included in Eric L. Boyd (1999). Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-7869-1509-9.
- Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 6. ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.
- Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 307. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
- Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 219. ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
- Bruce R. Cordell, Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, Jeff Quick (October 2003). Underdark. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 176. ISBN 0-7869-3053-5.
- Lisa Smedman (September 2007). Storm of the Dead. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 58–59. ISBN 978-0-7869-4701-0.