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Dungeons & Dragons 3.5: Ptolus: Beneath the Streets

Ptolus: Beneath the Streets

This is part 7 of the PDF part-work version of the Ptolus city sourcebook, and it deals with what's underneath the city - a matter of some importance as it is where all the adventurers drawn to the city go delving for fame and fortune (or their untimely demise). Aimed at the DM, this explains just a little of what awaits the party if they choose to go delving. It's of particular use if your group enjoys a good dungeon delve, but even if their adventuring interests tend more to above-ground intrigue and interactions it is such an integral part of the fabric and life of the city that it is worth knowing about.

Beneath Ptolus, we are told, lie vast chambers, caverns, and tunnels. In fact, there are whole cities of dwarven and dark elven creation below the surface. The reason why is explained, but that really is for the DM alone to know... yet each community or location has its own story, its own reasons for being where it is as well. One part is the Undercity, and it's pretty much another district of Ptolus except for being underground instead of above ground. Much can be accessed via public passages, there's even some measure of official presence - or at least, this is where the Prison is - and there are a market, businesses, even dwellings to be found. Of course there is a lot more, much of it less well known... sewers, caverns, an abandoned dwarf city called Dwarvenhearth and much more. Most of it is interconnected. A side elevation attempts to give an idea, with various elements descending several thousand feet below. Think of Ptolus like an iceberg - there's far more under the surface than visible above!

There is discussion on how to make use of it all. Some groups like their dungeon delves, and there is plenty here to keep them entertained without them even needing to visit the city above. Others may come to Ptolus, as adventurers do, to delve but live above-ground making discrete visits below as their 'day job'. Parties seeking urban adventure may only visit the underground areas occasionally when the plot demands it.

One danger delvers will soon hear about - and encounter! - are Pits of Insanity, which are blobs of pure chaos. Strange things happen near them, the very fabric of reality is warped and as for the effects they have on spellcasting... There is an area called the Banewarrens, which is the subject of a full-blown adventure published separately (The Banewarrens as it happens), and there are loads of other locations which are outlined here. There's plenty of room if you like designing your own underground complexes, though!

The next section, however, looks at the Undercity in detail. The Undercity Market is the place to get adventuring gear, and it's easily reached from the surface via a wide staircase. There's a plan with notes on some of the stalls and what can be purchased. Nearby is the Dark Market where the items traded are more dubious (read: illegal). The Longfingers Guild (as the local thieves guild is known) is down here, there's a slave market, and people selling nasty magic, poisons, and their own services as assassins, amongst other things. The Longfingers Guild is mapped out, although there's a note to say that the first challenge for any would-be member is to actually find the place! There are several ideas for adventures involving the Guild headquaters too. Another place that's mapped out is the Prison. Hopefully the party will never need to go there...

Next is a look at the sewers. These are in surprisingly good condition and as well as serving their intended purpose act as a subterranean thoroughfare. You can get most anywhere from here, either bobbing up to the surface again or delving deeper in search of adventure. However, they are infested with rats, and worse. We then move on to the Caverns, a far more disparate assortment of underground caves many of which at least started out as natural. Plenty of maps and notes here, along with adventure ideas as well as loads of background. That's the neat thing, everything is here for a reason. Even the wandering monsters... Likewise, Dwarvenhearth is laid out for those who would explore.

What lies beneath is part of what makes Ptolus special. If you want to use the adventures associated with the sourcebook, you'll need this, even if you are using Ptolus with your own adventures it gives an added dimension. It may make less sense if used in isolation, even so if, for example, in your world Ptolus is now in ruins, these areas below may still be worthy of investigation.

Return to Ptolus: Beneath the Streets page.

Reviewed: 2 February 2018