The Underdark and the Shadowfell

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I am not completely sure where to put this so I figured that this might be a decent place. Sorry if I did post in the wrong section.

In the world there is the Underdark and the Feywild ans the Shadowfell are supposed to be dark and/or twisted representations of the world. I have seen talk of the Feywild's version of the Underdark but I have not seen anything on whether or not the Shadowfell will have its own version of the Underdark.
Will the Shadowfell have its own version of the Underdark?
What might it look like?
If it does exist is there a place I can go to so that I can read about it?
If I recall correctly, it seems as though the Shadowfell has something to do with being the land of the dead. Given that and that the Feywild has an underdark of its own. I would assume that the Shadowfell would have one too.

As to what it would be like, they haven't released much in the way of teasers (as far as I know). However, if it were my project, it might be something like this:

I'd start by using Mediterranean and Middle Eastern legends as a model. It would be a sort of Tartarean realm where the shades of the dead are consigned until they have made penance for whatever sins they committed in life (assuming their god permits such redemption).

This "Shadowdark" would be a realm of endless tunnels and caverns, utterly devoid of precious gems and ore. The Shadowdark's tunnels would be utterly lifeless; without animals, fungi, or even moisture.

The living caverns of the Underdark and would be absent. The lustrous crystals and growing limestone formations would be replaced with jagged galleries filled with sand, dust and broken stones.

Torches and lanterns would be of no use in the Shadowdark. The only natural light that could defeat the gloom would be the telltale glow of deadly hot magma. Even magical illumination is of diminished effectiveness.

Such a realm might be the ultimate source of darkness-related undead such as shadows and nightshades. Vampires and other undead that are vulnerable to sunlight would also gravitate to it. The only "living" creatures found in the realm would be those that could survive without food or water, subsisting instead upon rocks and dust. Of necessity, such creatures would be able to function without light, assuming they can even endure it's presence.

But that's my take.
... But that's my take.

WoW. That is well thought out take. How long did it take you to concieve of that idea?
But that's my take.

It sounds really cool, but the question comes up "why go there?" You've almost gone out of your way to make it a place you could and would avoid entirely: there's no inherently compelling reason to go there (nothing valuable), it's excessively dangerous, and brings an extra layer of hassle just to go there (the light issue).

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
who, squatting upon the ground,
held his heart in his hands, and ate of it.
I said, "is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter – bitter," he answered;
"but I like it,
"beacuase it is bitter,
"and because it is my heart."

There may not be a reason to go there, but there could be a good reason to try and get out. ;)

What if the characters are damned souls but the players don't know it? They make characters as normal and start the campaign waking up in the dark with no memories. Through play, perhaps before each session, the DM can give the players a memory. As they fight through the levels of the dungeon they can piece the memories together to discover where they are and how they got there.
Maybe once they realize they are shades they can get some groovy new powers or something and at the end they can choose to escape and return to being human or staying in the ShadowDark as a shade.
There may not be a reason to go there, but there could be a good reason to try and get out. ;)

What if the characters are damned souls but the players don't know it? They make characters as normal and start the campaign waking up in the dark with no memories. Through play, perhaps before each session, the DM can give the players a memory. As they fight through the levels of the dungeon they can piece the memories together to discover where they are and how they got there.
Maybe once they realize they are shades they can get some groovy new powers or something and at the end they can choose to escape and return to being human or staying in the ShadowDark as a shade.

That's the thing: it becomes another Elemental Demi Plane of Whipped Frosting. There's a small hand full of ways to make your players go there, and a couple strange adventure ideas that essentially invent new games around the environment (you've basically described Wraith), but there's nothing that makes the place attractive in a flexible, yes-I-want-to-go-there way.

It's like describing the earth's core as a place "deeper than the Underdark." Yes, it is there. Yes, it is hot. Yes, it is bright molten magma. Yes, I can think of a few reasons to send the PCs there. No, they're not going to decide to go there on their own unless driven by boredom or the same "what the hell" mentality that makes you throw a rock at the President's windshield to find out if the glass "is as strong as they say it is."

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
who, squatting upon the ground,
held his heart in his hands, and ate of it.
I said, "is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter – bitter," he answered;
"but I like it,
"beacuase it is bitter,
"and because it is my heart."

WoW. That is well thought out take. How long did it take you to concieve of that idea?

It sort of evolved while I wrote the post (which is not as impressive as it sounds, I was interrupted many, many times). It helps that I'm so fond of mythology. I pretty much just stole it from the Babylonians and D&Ded it.

It sounds really cool, but the question comes up "why go there?" You've almost gone out of your way to make it a place you could and would avoid entirely: there's no inherently compelling reason to go there (nothing valuable), it's excessively dangerous, and brings an extra layer of hassle just to go there (the light issue).

I found myself thinking very much the same thing when writing it, but kept going for lack of any better ideas. Maybe you can find interesting/valuable things there; perhaps its the only place you can get Shadowsteel, which can be used to create vampiric weapons or some such. Alternatively, you may need to go there to negotiate with some undead lord or demi-god of darkness…

Yeah, it needs work.
It sort of evolved while I wrote the post (which is not as impressive as it sounds, I was interrupted many, many times). It helps that I'm so fond of mythology. I pretty much just stole it from the Babylonians and D&Ded it.



I found myself thinking very much the same thing when writing it, but kept going for lack of any better ideas. Maybe you can find interesting/valuable things there; perhaps its the only place you can get Shadowsteel, which can be used to create vampiric weapons or some such. Alternatively, you may need to go there to negotiate with some undead lord or demi-god of darkness…

Yeah, it needs work.

I have actually done the same thing quite often.
An Idea that I had as I read your post just now was to have the (to borrow a term coined earlier) "Shadowdark" a place of refuge from the darkness that permeates the Shadowfell. It could possibly be a refuge for not only the living but the dead as well, the spirits who are in the process of escaping from that dark world. Now like the rest of the 4th edition world this point of light should not be entirely safe, but perhaps it could be a staging point for some sort of rebellion against the Raven Queen. That rebellion could even be secretly supported by Orcus and/or Vecna as part of their efforts to gain more power over the dead.
Is the Shadowfell similar in concept to 1e Negative Material Plane? Also, is the Feywild a kind of Postive Material Plane? Perhaps a DM could look at those 1e cosmology concepts for inspiration.
Is the Shadowfell similar in concept to 1e Negative Material Plane? Also, is the Feywild a kind of Postive Material Plane? Perhaps a DM could look at those 1e cosmology concepts for inspiration.

They threw out the "great wheel" cosmology that they had in 3/3.5 when they started designing 4th. The book "Worlds and Monsters" gives a lot of great information on the new base world for 4th edition, but to give you a summery the Shadowfell is a dark reflection of the world and the Feywild is an enchanted reflection of the world.
From what I have read so far I am going to love the 4th edition world. It seems like it is so much more adventuring friendly. The best I could do, shy of plagiarizing WotC's book is to recommend that you pick up both of the 4th edition preview books. They are a great read and have given me a great idea of what the ideas behind the changes in 4th edition are.
Well, they didn't entirely throw it out. The Shadowfell combines aspects of the Plane of Shadows, Ethereal Plane, and Negative Energy Plane, but it "more than just a merger" to paraphrase the developers.

In the desert
I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
who, squatting upon the ground,
held his heart in his hands, and ate of it.
I said, "is it good, friend?"
"It is bitter – bitter," he answered;
"but I like it,
"beacuase it is bitter,
"and because it is my heart."

I have actually done the same thing quite often.
An Idea that I had as I read your post just now was to have the (to borrow a term coined earlier) "Shadowdark" a place of refuge from the darkness that permeates the Shadowfell. It could possibly be a refuge for not only the living but the dead as well, the spirits who are in the process of escaping from that dark world. Now like the rest of the 4th edition world this point of light should not be entirely safe, but perhaps it could be a staging point for some sort of rebellion against the Raven Queen. That rebellion could even be secretly supported by Orcus and/or Vecna as part of their efforts to gain more power over the dead.

:Yoink:

I think I'll play with that idea. But since I'm a believer in reciprocity, here's another idea for you:

Suppose there once was race of creatures living in the Underdark that was wiped out by a combined force of drow, duergar, beholders, dire cockroaches and/or whatever. This race (or maybe just one specific conclave) was so completely dedicated to their duty that they persisted as shades in the Shadowdark rather than fading off into legend. Thus they continue in their bleak existence, seeking opportunities to further the goals they had in life as well as looking for a way to resurrect/recreate their race as a whole.

My original thought was that this was a largely benevolent race, but it would work just as well if the nasty things of the Underdark had banded together to eliminate something even nastier.
That's the thing: it becomes another Elemental Demi Plane of Whipped Frosting. There's a small hand full of ways to make your players go there, and a couple strange adventure ideas that essentially invent new games around the environment (you've basically described Wraith), but there's nothing that makes the place attractive in a flexible, yes-I-want-to-go-there way.

It's like describing the earth's core as a place "deeper than the Underdark." Yes, it is there. Yes, it is hot. Yes, it is bright molten magma. Yes, I can think of a few reasons to send the PCs there. No, they're not going to decide to go there on their own unless driven by boredom or the same "what the hell" mentality that makes you throw a rock at the President's windshield to find out if the glass "is as strong as they say it is."

It occurs to me that there doesn't necessarily have to be a reason for people to want to go there, so long as heroes can go there without requiring huge amounts of magic just to survive in the environment. The light thing would be a hassle, but it isn't an insurmountable obstacle at low levels (though I will admit that it could stand to be relaxed with respect to non-magical light not working).

Still, there does need to be something that sets it apart or it isn't worth talking about on its own. But then, I don't think the Underdark side of the Feywild has any distinctive features other than the fact that it's a bunch of magical caverns rather than a bunch of magical fields and forests.

While this is an interesting thought experiment; in my mind there really isn't any need to differentiate the "Shadowdark" from the rest of the Shadowfell. In terms of rules anyway. The only reason I hampered light in my proposal is because I fully expect it to be a feature of the Shadowfell in general.

Am I making any sense or shall I try again?
Nobody in their right mind wants to go to the Feydark either. It sounds more like a place you would get trapped in or accidentally wander into than somewhere you would go on purpose. I mean, what are you going to do, crash a Fomorian's dinner party?
Nobody in their right mind wants to go to the Feydark either. It sounds more like a place you would get trapped in or accidentally wander into than somewhere you would go on purpose. I mean, what are you going to do, crash a Fomorian's dinner party?

Exactly. From what I've read regarding planes has left me with the impression that any manner of craziness is fair game so long as the heroes adventuring there don't have to squander huge amounts of resources on renewable, 24-hour doses of energy resistance, waterbreathing, or move through sticky goo. It seems as though they took a look at the Great Wheel and discarded everything that a first level character couldn't, theoretically, visit and live to tell the tale.

If that means they start looking like Elemental Demi-Planes of Whipped Frosting, that's fine too because that's essentially what they (and other fluff-oriented features) are. Besides, I like cream cheese while someone else may prefer that caramel-coconut stuff they put on German Chocolate.

I, for one, am going to get a lot more mileage out of the 4E cosmology than I got out of previous editions.

Edit: But then, I'm digressing from the stated topic of the thread. Sorry about the tangent.
In my campaign the Shadowfell definitally will have an underdark, just as the material and the feywild will.

However, my main idea is that they will all share the same underdark, a twisted and endless espanse of underground caverns that reaches out into all of the 'inner planes' (for lack of a better term). Rather then having three isolated underdarks, you end up with one unified underdark, existing as more or less its own plane.

This allows (with the right maps and a lot of luck) entirely non-magical movement from one plane to another. Heroic Tier adventurers without access to normal planar travel might get dragged into the Feywild along with some Eladrin ruins, and have to make their way back home through the Underdark.

The connection of the undead and the underdark wouldn't just be so they could get out of the light, but also because many undead found in the material world were 'born' in the shadowfell and made their way to the material through the underdark. Similarly, the idea works well with classical myths of travelling down into the underworld to find and retrieve a lost soul, since the shadowfell is the land of the (recent) dead, and you could actually travel there by following the right paths through the underdark.


With this idea, all of the underdark would share some of the same features - illumination from glowing crystals and fungi, etc. Areas closer to the shadowfell would have staler air, light would be less bright and colorful, and monsters would tend towards undead. Areas closer to the feywild would be brighter and more colorful, and monsters would tend towards fey and formorians. Areas closer to the material world would be somewhere inbetween, and drow would be more common*. The deepest reaches of the underdark might draw close to the far-realm, and would be dominated by abberations, particularly aboleths.

Other typical underdark dwellers - rust monsters, troglodytes, etc, might be found anywhere. And all of the inhabitants of the underdark occasionally but up against each other, and they all inhabit what is essentially the same plane.
In my campaign the Shadowfell definitally will have an underdark, just as the material and the feywild will.

However, my main idea is that they will all share the same underdark, a twisted and endless espanse of underground caverns that reaches out into all of the 'inner planes' (for lack of a better term). Rather then having three isolated underdarks, you end up with one unified underdark, existing as more or less its own plane.

This allows (with the right maps and a lot of luck) entirely non-magical movement from one plane to another. Heroic Tier adventurers without access to normal planar travel might get dragged into the Feywild along with some Eladrin ruins, and have to make their way back home through the Underdark.

The connection of the undead and the underdark wouldn't just be so they could get out of the light, but also because many undead found in the material world were 'born' in the shadowfell and made their way to the material through the underdark. Similarly, the idea works well with classical myths of travelling down into the underworld to find and retrieve a lost soul, since the shadowfell is the land of the (recent) dead, and you could actually travel there by following the right paths through the underdark.


With this idea, all of the underdark would share some of the same features - illumination from glowing crystals and fungi, etc. Areas closer to the shadowfell would have staler air, light would be less bright and colorful, and monsters would tend towards undead. Areas closer to the feywild would be brighter and more colorful, and monsters would tend towards fey and formorians. Areas closer to the material world would be somewhere inbetween, and drow would be more common*. The deepest reaches of the underdark might draw close to the far-realm, and would be dominated by abberations, particularly aboleths.

Other typical underdark dwellers - rust monsters, troglodytes, etc, might be found anywhere. And all of the inhabitants of the underdark occasionally but up against each other, and they all inhabit what is essentially the same plane.

Wow I kind of like that idea.
A connected Underdark-Feydark-Shadowdark system would be its own reason for existing--sure, you won't adventure to there, but you use it to get to where you're actually adventuring, and there's always a chance of getting off track. That would solve the Demiplane of Whipped Frosting issue nicely, I think; if the old transitive planes got stuck into the Feywild and Shadowfell, pull a transitive sub-plane back out of them.
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