Menzoberranzan, the City of Spiders, is a city-state that is located in the Upper Northdark, about two miles below the Surbrin Vale, between the Moonwood and the Frost Hills.
The city has 20,000 drow inhabitants and hundreds of thousands of humanoid slaves that range from a variety of creatures such as goblins, kobolds, bugbears, dueger, svernebli, orcs, ogres, minotaurs, giants and rothé. The city trades poisons, tasty mushrooms, riding lizards, spell scrolls, wine, and water. The worship of Lolth is prevalent, and the city has the clerical academy Arach-Tinilith, a spider-shaped building where priestesses are trained. One of the branches of the city’s triune academies of Tier Brieche, Arach-Tinilith is neighbored by the warrior school Melee Magthere, and Sorcere tower where arcane spellcasters are sent to study. These academies are the quarters of some of the most powerful clerics, fighters and wizards, respectively, and the title of master of an academy is coveted, since being the master of Sorcere or Melee Magthere is as high as the power ladder goes for some houseless drow or even noble males.
Menzoberranzan was founded by a priestess of Lolth named Menzoberra the Kinless. It is ruled by a council of matrons from the eight greatest noble houses; the most powerful House in the city is House Baenre, until recently led by Matron Yvonnel Baenre—a drow cleric who was the single most powerful political figure in Menzoberranzan for about two thousand years. She has been succeeded by her daughter Triel. A separate council of mages deals with affairs of the arcane—but as its members are all male, it is wholly within the grip of the matrons.
- Barrison Del’Armgo
- Oblodra (destroyed by Lolth in DR1358)
- DeVir (destroyed by Do’Urden in DR1297)
- Hun’ett (destroyed by Do’Urden in DR1328)
- Faen Tlabbar
- Agrach Dyrr
- Do’Urden (destroyed by Baenre in DR1340)
Sick and outlaw drow live here, along with the many non-drow inhabitants of the city. This is definately the slum of Menzoberranzan. Drunken drow sometimes hunt this area, killing any and all who can’t hide themselves.
A rocky outcropping shaped like a claw on the end of a long arm situated between the Bazaar and Eastmyr. The ancient tunnels and walkways dug into the rock were used by House Oblodra to house their hundreds of kobold slaves.
Donigarten is the source of almost all of Menzoberranzan’s food. Rich fungi farms, beds of moss and giant mushrooms are tended to by slaves. A small amount of fishing is done in Lake Donigarten and, on an islet in the middle of said lake, the city’s supply of Deep Rothe are kept, looked after by orcs and goblins.
Home of the commoners of the city. Tradesfolk and their shops/businesses are mostly found here. Most Menzoberranyr come from this area and is the most varied and tolerant district in the entire city.
A permanent trade fair located in Duthcloim. The Bazaar of Menzoberranzan attracts merchants and buyers from across the multiverse. Most races are welcome (with the exception of beholders, neogi and githyanki), and as long as the peace is kept and proper respect is shown to Matron Mothers, someone (or thing) can buy whatever they may desire here, though nondrow are often spied upon. No permanent structures are allowed within the accepted limits of the Bazaar by order of the council. Places of business must move within 66 days, this is to prevent monopolies on space and promote browsing. Trainee wizards, clerics and warriors are paid to patrol the Bazaar, providing firm, yet unobtrusive law-enfocement.
Most struggling merchants live in this neighbourhood. While better than the Braeryn, Eastmyr is still where you will find a lot of poor and outlaw drow and non-drow of no discernable means. Despite the lack of wealthy residents, House Hunzrin and House Kenafin are based here.
A few passages and side caverns accessable from the main cavern can be found in the Mantle, actually part of the Dark Dominion but close enough to the city proper for residents to build homes.
Narbondel is the only unshaped piece of stone within the boundaries of the cavern. The people of the city use it as a clock. Each morning, around midnight, the Archmage of city casts a fire spell at the base of the rock pillar. The heat from the spell forms a band around it and moves up, taking twelve hours to reach the peak, before travelling down it again, going out once it reaches the base.
This is the home of the wealthy up-and-coming drow houses, no less than seven existing powerful noble houses and several of the most luxurious and profitable of businesses are located in this neighbourhood. The best gems and perfumes can be found here, as well as the city’s moneylenders.
This plateau is screened from the view of the rest of the cavern by its forest of giant mushrooms. Contrary to the rest of the city, Qu’ellarz’orl is spacious and bare, no crowds are found here, nor any businesses. The space that is taken up is dominated by the four most powerful noble houses. The chamber of the ruling council can also be found here.
The location of the three academies of Menzoberranzan: Arach-Tinilith, Sorcere and Melee-Magthere
- Melee Magthere is the college of fighters in Menzoberranzan. It is one of the three schools that noble children of the drow are expected to attend. Graduates of the academy do not hold as high a prestige as those who graduate from the wizard or clerics school but still hold a greater distinction than those who are normal citizenry. One of the events of training there is the Grand Melee. It is a relatively plain compound when compared to the other schools of The Drow Acadaemy. It is basically a pyramid that consists of the utensils and fighting arenas needed to learn the art of melee combat. The students of Melee Magthere spend their first fifty days listening to tales that are mostly lies regarding how the elves of the surface world mistreated the Drow, then about 8 years in combat tactics, followed by a year of rounding out their education in Sorcere and Arach-Tinilith.
- Sorcere is the renowned drow mage school at the Tier Breche academy in Menzoberranzan. The current master of Sorcere is Gromph Baenre, the archmage of the city. All drow nobles pass through this section of the academy to study arcane magic, but only those who are going to become wizards stay here. Most students go on to either Arach-Tinilith, the school for priestesses, or Melee-Magthere, the school for warriors. Jalynfein, the Spider Mage, maintains a private tower in Sorcere.
- Arach-Tinilith is a cathedral in the drow city of Menzoberranzan shapred in the form of a spider and designed specifically for the training of Priestesses of Lolth. It makes up the largest and most powerful branch of the Academy, followed by Sorcere and lastly by Melee Magthere. Arach-Tinilith is the second largest cathedral in the city, only bested by House Baenre’s own chapel.
The West Wall is covered in the fortresses of more minor noble houses and the proudest of the non-noble drow families. Only one business is worth mentioning and that is Elstearn’s Escorts, providing attractive drow of either sex to escort those who desire them or to act as tour guides to visitors.
All of the tunnels within a 5 mile radius of the city are known as the Dark Dominion. Drow patrols are a constant presence of the region. They search for banned creatures, monsters and surface elves and challenge them once spotted. A few guard outposts can also be found in these tunnels. At least ten of the tunnels that start here lead to the surface. One that leads staight past Blingdenstone and into Mithral Hall and one that leads to the High Forest are the two most commonly used.
About six days travel on foot from Menzoberranzan is a large faerzress-free cavern. Most people who want to teleport to the city aim for this cave and a few keyed two-way portals can be found here along with a waterfall that provides free fresh water. Several noble houses have permanent scrying sensors here though they make pains to seem like they don’t care about the place.