Kat Kruger

Ever since the first Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves trailer dropped, there have been hints about the adventuring party taking a trip to one of D&D’s most well-known settings: the Underdark. Xenk the Paladin (played by Regé-Jean Page) says, “Follow me to the orifice” before tying off a rope between himself and a tree, then falling backwards in some kind of trust exercise with a hole in the ground. On the other side, is the literal underbelly of the world. 

Also known as the Realms Below, the Underdark is a vast network of caves and underground waterways that descends miles-deep beneath the surface of the Forgotten Realms. The Underdark is permeates with a magical energy the drow (or dark elves) call faerzress. Although it is of unknown origin, the magic protects settlements. In some cases, if the faerzress has been tainted, it causes wild magic surges. These surges could make for some fun mishaps with spells, something Simon the Sorcerer (played by Justice Smith) is all too familiar with as his sorcerous origins are in wild magic — meaning the spells he casts aren’t always the ones that come to fruition.

Among other things, it is home to Drizzt Do'Urden, a well-known drow ranger from the novels written by R.A. Salvatore. Whether a cameo appearance will be made by the character is yet unknown. What we do know is the characters are trying to get to a hanging city of ruins, suspended from massive chain links.

Trailers have also shown Xenk facing down a Red Wizard assassin named Dralas (played by Jason Wong). In the background of that scene are terracotta gnomes, suggesting perhaps that the heroes will encounter deep gnomes. Also known as svirfneblin, the deep gnomes of the Underdark have begun to reclaim Blingdenstone, one of their ancient strongholds which was ruined and overrun by all sorts of monsters. Even without introducing deep gnomes into the movie, there are sure to be random encounters with deadly dwellers of the Underdark.

One such guaranteed encounter which was revealed in previews is a red dragon that has been identified as Themberchaud, the Wyrmsmith of Gracklstugh. Found in Out of the Abyss, this mighty dragon is also known as the Father of Flame, the Everburning, and the Foundry’s Heart. As one of his titles suggests, Themberchaud can be found in Gracklstugh, the capital for a subrace of dwarves called duergar. These dwarves are typically evil and some evolved psionic abilities due to having absorbed traces of faerzress. Their dealings with the Wyrmsmiths historically have had evil written all over their actions.

Themberchaud was hatched within his chamber in the city and is a descendent of past Wyrmsmiths. He is put to work using his fire breath to heat the city's great forges and temper the famous steel blades manufactured in the City of Blades. The Keepers of the Flame (psionic clerics) tend to his needs while coaxing, appeasing, and manipulating the dragon. Unbeknownst to Themberchaud, the clerics also overfeed him to make it easier to kill and replace him as they have done with previous Wyrmsmiths. His wide girth can be seen in some of the movie trailers as he chases the heroes. What they did to earn his ire is up for speculation.

Have the characters attempted to steal a magic item from the dragon’s hoard? Or did they insult the prideful Themberchaud? When it comes to dragon etiquette, those constitute a fomorian sized faux pas. Maybe they’re in need of a duergar weapon or artifact to complete their quest. If they’re on the run from above ground agents of the Red Wizards, it could be that they’re trying to lay so low they’ve literally gone underground. While doing so they could sell stolen gear and buy more useful equipment at the Blade Bazaar which is also an ideal place to find traders. Another possibility is that they’re seeking out the Gray Ghosts who are the only true thieves’ guild in the area.

The Underdark is rife with opportunity to showcase a wide variety of content from D&D lore. Introducing elements to a game can range from PCs choosing origins that are Underdark variants such as drow or duergar, or classes like the druid Circle of the Land. DMs can also use all sorts of assets available in the Roll20 Marketplace to highlight some of the locations and dangerous monsters that lurk beneath the surface world of the Forgotten Realms.