Menzoberranzen
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(Pop: 175,000) Menzoberranzen; sometimes called the "City of Spiders," is the largest and most powerful of the Drow city-states of the Underdark.


Menzoberranzen was the earliest known Underdark settlement of the Dark-Elves. Over 5,000 years ago in the Second Age, the city was first founded by Drow explorers. It must be remembered that at this time, the War of Wrath was still raging on the surface of Corwyn, and the Dark-Elves may have intended the underground settlement as a small colony, or even a protected sanctuary should the war turn against them. After the War of Wrath ended in the year 1541 of the Second Age, the defeated Drow were driven underground by the surface elves, and Menzoberranzen quickly grew in size and importance. Over the last five millennia, the city has grown into a huge metropolis. It should be noted that dark-eves make up only a minority of the population; the majority are slaves or visitors.

Over the centuries following their defeat in the War of Wrath, the Drow splintered into many different factions, each one centered around a city or other small territory of the Underdark. Menzoberranzen became the strongest of these factions, and remains so today.

Menzoberranzan is located in a huge arrowhead-shaped cavern, some four miles wide and a thousand feet high. The city is mainly carved from calcite and is illuminated with blue, green, and violet faerie fires. Buildings are often covered with the city's main motif: the spider. The roof of the Menzoberranzan cavern is covered in hidden paths. Some homes are 1,000 feet above the floor. Ceiling houses need powerful magic to prevent them from falling, and many are currently empty. An enchantment placed in the city cavern reduces echoes from the noise generated by the huge population.

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Since there are are a fixed number of buildings in Menzoberrazan, the poorer areas are extremely crowded. Noble houses, once destroyed or abandoned, are not permitted to be reoccupied, meaning that there are a number of abandoned compounds both on the surface and roof of the city cavern.

For entry to the cavern, the city has around a hundred magical gates, all of which are well-guarded. These gates lead into the myriad tunnels surrounding the city.

One of the most distinct structures in the city is the pillar-clock called "Narbondel." It isenchanted each morning by the Archmage of Menzoberranzan with a glow that slowly dissipated as the day wears on. Narbondel can be seen from throughout the entire city and its cavern. When the pillar becomes completely dark, it was called Narbondel's Black Death (effectively midnight).