The Shadow Path: A Portal Network
By James Wyatt
Four dark portals are the only milestones on this subterranean road, and its travelers are few. However, in the Underdark, travelers have to be strong to survive. Are your characters strong enough to brave the Shadow Path? Tread lightly, for drow, mind flayers, and worse lurk along its pathways . . .
"The Shadow Path" is a portal network connecting four disparate regions of Faerûn's vast Underdark: the region known as the Labyrinth beneath the Dessarin River, the illithid city of Oryndoll beneath the Shining Plains, the dwarven halls of Iltkazar far to the south, and the Unspoken Hall near Ched Nasad beneath the Fallen Lands. At a glance, the four regions have nothing in common but that they are far below the surface of Faerûn, but a dark secret links both their ancient past and their terrible present.
A single node of the Shadow Path might appear in the course of an ongoing campaign, perhaps while characters are traveling through the Underdark in the middle of the City of the Spider Queen superadventure. Alternatively, the Shadow Path could form the backbone of a mini-campaign all its own. Consider the following hooks to draw characters into the portal network and the dark mystery behind it.
- Characters find themselves drawn into investigating the demon-worshiping baphitaur cult of the Labyrinth, possibly after several people are kidnapped from nearby Sword Coast towns such as Triboar, Yartar, and Red Larch.
- A teleportation mishap, possibly caused by faerzress in the Underdark, sends the characters to the secret caverns near Oryndoll. No tunnels lead out -- they are trapped with a half-crazed mind flayer assassin, unless they can teleport right back out.
- A resident of Iltkazar -- perhaps a friend or relative of a dwarf PC -- is murdered. Investigating the murder leads the PCs to Durhgathu Maendrar.
- In the course of another adventure, the characters discover an intelligent magic item of chaotic evil alignment. Practically an artifact, it can be destroyed only (or perhaps it only claims so) in the furnace where it was made: the Hellfire Forge. Searching for this forge leads the characters to the Unspoken Hall.
Statistics and supplemental information:
- 9/04 Baphitaurs, demon-kin residents of the Labyrinth
- 9/11 The Life Eater, a prestige class for demon-worshiping assassins
- 9/11 Wiirlan, an illithid life eater
About the Author
James Wyatt wrote articles for Dragon Magazine and Dungeon Magazine before joining the Wizards of the Coast staff in January 2000. Game design is career Number Five, after stints as a childcare worker, ordained minister, technical writer, and web designer. He currently resides in Washington state.