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Besides its many intelligent and predatory races and monsters, the Underdark is also home to a variety of natural animals that live out their lives normally below the ground. These animals include (but are not limited to) bats, crickets, eyeless cavefish and crayfish, springfish, salamanders, rats, flies, gnats, and spiders. Additionally, it is not unusual for creatures in the Upperdark to encounter the occasional raccoon, frog, stray dog, or even lost dwarf, elf, or other representative of a surface race who has accidentally fallen down a deep well or shaft. Many mundane hunting animals, including bears, lions, and monsters of all sorts can be found in cozy underground lairs near the surface.
In deeper places, animals must shift from the surface world ecology to the Underdark ecology. Many surface creatures are ill suited for such shifts and therefore cannot be found more than a few hundred feet from a cave mouth, except for places where a surface ecology is somehow maintained in the Underdark. Here are a few more specific notes on creatures mentioned above:
  • Bats
    Better adapted to life in darkness than most other animals, bats are extremely common in the Upperdark and Middledark. Only the lowest, most inhospitable reaches are free of these creatures, and even then, monstrous varieties such as dire bats and deep bats flourish. Near the surface, these creatures are simply surface-world bats that lair in Underdark caverns. Titanic roosts that house many thousands of such creatures can be found in some spots. Lower down, most Underdark bats are fungivores or insectivores.
  • Fish
    Many of the rivers, lakes, and seas of the Underdark are filled with cave fish. For the most part, such fish are small, pale, relatively inoffensive creatures. Most are blind, though some that reside in illuminated caverns may retain their eyes. In the larger bodies of water, subterranean versions of dangerous fish such as sharks may be found. Cave fish need something to eat, of course, so isolated lakes don't support cave fish populations unless they're large enough to suport plant life that can survive in absolute darkness.
  • Lizards
    The Underdark is home to a variety of lizards, ranging from the poisonous spitting crawler to the wild varieties of pack lizards and riding lizards. Some are fungivores; others are dangerous hunters that can easily make a meal out of a human. Domesticated giant lizards are commonly used as beasts of burden and mounts in drow and duergar settlements.
  • Rothe
    These grazing, muskoxlike creatures are well adapted for life in the depths. Subsisting on fungi, moss, lichen, and almsot anything else that grows in the Underdark, rothe are highly valued by most Underdark races and often kept in large corral-caverns.
  • Vermin
    Perhaps the most common of all Underdark creatures are vermin. The versions native to the Realms Below range from mundane creatures the size of a mite to Gargantuan spiders and centipedes. Many, such as giant beetles and cave crickets, are fungivores, but varieties of deadly hunting vermin such as spiders and scorpions also infest the depths. The Underdark races keep some of the edible ones (mostly beetles or crickets) as livestock of a sort, but few vermin are palatable, and the giant sort are simply too dangerous to keep.

In the food chain of any ecology, plants of one kind or another are the beginning. By organizing inorganic minerals and capturing the energy of sunlight, plants create food that animals of all kinds depend on. Since plants in the Underdark do not have access to sunlight, they must make food by other means. Thus, most take very different forms than the green plants of the surface world.
Most of the Underdark's plant life consists of a tremendous variety of fugi. Fungus normally requires some amount of detritus or decaying material to thrive. So where does the fungus find its food? The answer is simple: magic. The natrual magical radiation of the Underdark ant its various planar connections support many weird fungal growths, as well as lichens, mosses, and other simple plants, whose existence would otherwise be impossible. In effect, faerzress is the sunlight of the Underdark, forming the basis of the subterranean food chain. Underdark regions particularly rich in faerzress or planar energies have been known to support fantastic forests of pale, gnarled trees or crystalline plants. These growths are completely adapted to their lightless, hostile environment.
Surprisingly, however, green plants are not entirely absent from the Underdark. Some caverns illuminated by particularly bright radiant crystals can actually support green plants. Caves with this sort of dazzling illumination might be filled with grass, moss, ferns, creepers, or even small tress. Any such place is a treasure beyond price in the Underdark, and it is certain to be guarded by deadly spells, monstrous guardians, or both.
In addition, much as in various places on the surface world, there are plants that present dangers of various forms, and that should be treated in some aspects as "creatures".
Some notable examples of plant life, aside from the normal ones mentioned above, are included below:

  • Barrelstalk
    Stout as a hogshead of ale, the barrelstalk is a large, cask-shaped fungus that grows up to 8 feet in height and 5 feet in diameter. Its outer layers are tough and woody, but its inner flesh is edible, and it's center is filled with a reservoir of water (usually from 20 to 50 gallons) that can be tapped and drained. The inner flesh turns black and poisonous when barrelstalk begins producing spores, which happens after 10 years of growth.
  • Bluecap
    The grain of the Underdark, bluecap fungus is inedible to humanoids, but its spores can be ground to make a nutritious, if bland, flour. Bread made from bluecap flour is usually known as sporebread. Bluecap seems to do well with or without faerzress, and most Underdark humanoids cultivate it.
  • Cave Moss
    Found only in faerzress-rich regions, cave moss is inedible to humanoids, but it is a favorite grazing food of some giant vermin, as well as rothe.
  • Fire Lichen
    Pale orange-white in color, fire lichen thrives on warmth, so it grows in regions of geothermal heat or near connections to the Elemental Plane of Fire. Fire lichen can be ground and fermented into a hot, spicy paste, which is often spread on sporebread to give it flavor. Duergar ferment fire lichen into a fiercely hot liquor.
  • Luurden
    Luurden, or bloodfruit, is a rare tree that grows only in areas of strong faerzress. The barren branches of this pale, gnarled tree seem more dead than alive, but once every 3 to 4 years, it produces a small amount of bitter red fruit that is used to make rare Underdark wines and elixers.
  • Ripplebark
    A shelflike fungus that resembles nothing so much as a mass of rotting flesh, ripplebark is surprisingly edible without any special preparation, although it tastes much better if cooked properly. Ripplebark grows naturally in living caves.
  • Sussur
    Rare and magical, the so-called "deeproot" tree is found only in the largest of caverns. It can grow to a height of 60 feet, and its branches are long and gnarled, with banyanlike aerial roots. Few leaves grow on the sussur; it exists almost entirely on faerzress and is often found in caverns where wizard fire is prevalent. A sussur tree can drink in magic from its environment, so most sussurs are surrounded by Antimagic Fields that extend for hundreds of feet.
  • Waterorb
    This bulbous fungus is aquatic. It grows in boulderlike patches underwater wherever the water deposits detritus.
  • Zurkhwood
    Tis giant mushroom can reach a height of 30 to 40 feet. Its large spores are edible with proper preparation, but zurkhwood is important primarily because its stalks are hard and woody. Zurkhwood is one of the very few sources of timber (or anything like it) in the Underdark, and many items that would be crafted from wood in the surface world are fashioned from zurkhwood in the Realms Below.
  • Cave Creeper [CR 5]
    Caver creeper is a gray-and-white fugnus that flourishes near water. It is especially common in the Lowerdark where it grows close to most of the water sources. Caver creeper continually emits spores that cause cave terrors. Every creature within 20 feet of it must make a DC 15 Fortitude save or suffer the effect of a Confusion spell. Another DC 15 Fortitude save is required 1 minute later--even by those who succeed on the first save--to avoid taking 2d4 points of Intelligence damage. Sunlight or acid instantly destroys cave creeper.
  • Fire Fungus [CR 4]
    This fungal growth sheds a much-appreciated warmth, raising the temperature within 30 feet of it by 10 degrees. However, any open flame brought within 40 feet of fire fungus causes it to explode, dealing 5d6 points of fire damage to each creature in a 20-foot radius. Such an explosion kills the fire fungus, and it can also be killed by cold damage--10 points of cold damage is sufficient to kill a 5-foot-square patch.
  • Wisp Lichen [CR 4]
    This white lichen clings to the ceilings of high caverns and poses a threat primarily to flying creatures. Its sticky strands can paralyze a creature that touches them (Fort save DC 15) and hold smaller creatures (up to 100 pounds) that it has already paralyzed for eventual, slow consumption (1 point of Constitution drain per hour). Larger paralyzed creatures fall if they had been flying by natural means. Beacause of this phenomenon, earth-bound predators usually lurk near patches of wisp lichen, wiating for the crash or thud that indicates a tasty morsel of paralyzed prey has fallen to the earth.

Now that the most common lifeforms in the Underdark have been covered, we'll move on to the expanded listings of random creatures you may encounter in the various levels and areas of the Underdark.
While these lists are not exhaustive, they do cover the bulk of what one may find. The more common creatures listed above have not been included in most cases. Feel free to insert those wherever they would fit best for your needs at the time.

While this list was comprised primarily from the Random Encounter Lists found in the Underdark™ sourcebook, we've gone through the various Monster Manuals and the monster listings in many of the other gamebooks and added to the list as we were able.

Upperdark Encounters Listing
While many of the creatures of the Upperdark are detailed on the Underdark Denizens page, they are not the only creatures one can expect to encounter in the upper levels of the Underdark. Below is a more complete listing of what characters may come across during their travels in this level (i.e. random encounters).
There are two general types of terrain found in the Upperdark: Settled and Frontier. Each is described briefly below, along with the accompanying creatures and encounters to be had in that particular environment.

  • Settled
    Settled areas feature colossal caverns that can be miles on a side, a fair number of small villages and vaults no more than a days travel from each other, and some tunnel patrols from nearby cities or fortresses (which often enough are drow, illithid thralls, duergar, or derro).
    • Allip
    • Boggle
    • Baneguard
    • Baphitaur
    • Barghest
    • Basilisk
    • Beholder, gauth
    • Bugbear
    • Carrion crawler
    • Centipede, Large monstrous
    • Chitine
    • Cildabrin
    • Darkmantle
    • Derro
    • Dire Corbie
    • Dragon, juvenile black
    • Dragon, young deep
    • Drow scouts
    • Fungus, violet
    • Gargoyle
    • Ghast
    • Ghoul
    • Gibberling
    • Grick
    • Hell hound
    • Howler
    • Ibrandulin
    • Lith
    • Meazel
    • Minotaur
    • Phaerlock
    • Quaggoth
    • Roper
    • Rothe, deep
    • Shadow
    • Spawn of Kyuss
    • Spider, Large monstrous
    • Swarm, bat
    • Troglodyte
    • Troll
    • Troll, cave
    • Umber hulk
    • Vampire spawn
    • Vargouille
    • Vermin lord
    • Wererat troupe
    • Wight
    • Winter wolf
    • Wraith
    • Wyste
    • Xorn, minor
    • Zombie, medium
  • Frontier
    Frontier areas are lightly settled tunnels or caves, but communities are small and far apart, usually separated by miles of tunnels.
    • Abishai, black
    • Ankheg
    • Baphotaur [near the Labyrinth]
    • Bat, deep (bonebat or nighthunter)
    • Baneguard
    • Beholder, gauth
    • Bodak
    • Bugbear band
    • Chitine hunters
    • Cildabrin
    • Cloaker
    • Cockroach, giant
    • Desmodu
    • Dire corbie
    • Dragon, juvenile deep
    • Dragon, juvenile copper
    • Dragon, young adult black
    • Dragon, young red
    • Dragonkin
    • Drow scouts
    • Duergar marauders
    • Earth Glider
    • Ettin
    • Foulwing
    • Ghaunadan
    • Giant, phaerlin
    • Giant, stone
    • Gloura
    • Goblin war party
    • Grick
    • Grimlock hunters
    • Gray render
    • Hound of the gloom
    • Lamia
    • Lurker
    • Lurking strangler
    • Medusa
    • Metalmaster
    • Mind flayer
    • Mindshredder larva
    • Mohrg
    • Nifern
    • Nycter
    • Ooze, black pudding
    • Otyugh
    • Phaerlock
    • Psurlon, average
    • Raggamoffyn, shrapnyl
    • Reason stealer
    • Roper
    • Roper, prismatic [near the Deep Reach]
    • Scaladar [near Undermountain]
    • Scorpion, giant whip
    • Skindancer
    • Slaad, red
    • Spellgaunt
    • Spider, harpoon
    • Spider, Large monstrous
    • Spider, giant sun
    • Spider, giant whip
    • Spider, shadow
    • Spider, subterranean (sword)
    • Stonesinger
    • Susurrus
    • Svirfneblin patrol
    • Swarm, bat
    • Swarm, swamp strider [near lakes & seas]
    • Troglodyte war party
    • Troll
    • Troll, cave
    • Umber hulk
    • Vampire spawn
    • Vermin lord
    • Wererat troupe
    • Wraith
    • Xorn, average

Middledark Encounters Listing
While many of the creatures of the Middledark are detailed on the Underdark Denizens page, they are not the only creatures one can expect to encounter in the middle levels of the Underdark. Below is a more complete listing of what characters may come across during their travels in this level (i.e. random encounters).
There are two general types of terrain found in the Middledark: Settled and Wilderness. Each is described briefly below, along with the accompanying creatures and encounters to be had in that particular environment.

  • Settled
    Settled areas feature colossal caverns that can be miles on a side, a fair number of small villages and vaults no more than a days travel from each other, and some tunnel patrols from nearby cities or fortresses (which often enough are drow, illithid thralls, duergar, or derro).
    • All-consuming hunger
    • Baphotaur [near the Labyrinth]
    • Barghest
    • Bat, deep (sinister)
    • Behir
    • Chitine hunters
    • Cildabrin
    • Cloaker
    • Deepspawn & spawn
    • Derro bandits
    • Destrachan
    • Devourer
    • Dragon, young adult deep
    • Dragon, young adult shadow
    • Drider
    • Drow scouts
    • Drow slavers
    • Duergar marauders
    • Ineffable horror
    • Giant, stone
    • Gloura
    • Grimlock hunters
    • Kuo-toa patrol
    • Maur
    • Mind flayer
    • Mind flayer slavers
    • Minotaur
    • Mohrg
    • Ooze, black pudding
    • Purple worm
    • Scorpion, giant whip
    • Spider, giant sun
    • Spider, giant whip
    • Spider, Huge monstrous
    • Spider, subterranean (sword)
    • Svirfneblin patrol
    • Swarm, centipede
    • Troglodyte war party
    • Troll
    • Troll, cave
    • Umber hulk
    • Vampire troupe
    • Vaporighu
    • Vermin lord
    • Wraith
    • Xorn, average
  • Wilderness
    Wilderness areas are wild caves and tunnels that are not settled but still support significant wildlife and monsters.
    • All-consuming hunger
    • Arcane ooze
    • Bat, deep (sinister)
    • Barghest
    • Behir
    • Beholder
    • Bodak
    • Chitine hunters
    • Cildabrin
    • Cloaker
    • Cockroach, giant
    • Deepspawn & spawn
    • Delver
    • Derro bandits
    • Destrachan
    • Devourer
    • Dragon, young adult deep
    • Dragon, adult black
    • Dragon, young adult shadow
    • Drider
    • Drider, vampire
    • Drow patrol
    • Drow slavers
    • Duergar marauders
    • Earth Glider
    • Fomorian
    • Foulwing
    • Giant, stone
    • Gibbering mouther
    • Gloura
    • Grimlock hunters
    • Hook horror
    • Hound of the gloom
    • Ineffable horror
    • Kuo-toa patrol
    • Knell beetle, lesser
    • Lurker
    • Lurking strangler
    • Maur
    • Metalmaster
    • Mind flayer (or mind flayer slavers)
    • Mindshredder larva
    • Mindshredder warrior
    • Minotaur
    • Mohrg
    • Nifern
    • Nightshade (nightwing)
    • Nycter
    • Ooze, black pudding
    • Phaerimm
    • Phaerlock
    • Purple worm
    • Rampager
    • Roper
    • Scaladar [near Undermountain]
    • Scorpion, giant whip
    • Spellgaunt
    • Spider, giant sun
    • Spider, giant whip
    • Spider, harpoon
    • Spider, Huge monstrous
    • Spider, shadow
    • Spider, subterranean (sword)
    • Spider, wraith
    • Stone drake
    • Stone flyer
    • Stonesinger
    • Summoning ooze
    • Susurrus
    • Svirfneblin patrol
    • Swarm, centipede
    • Swarm, swamp strider [near lakes & seas]
    • Teratomorph [usually in or near water]
    • Tomb tapper (thaalud)
    • Troglodyte war party
    • Troll
    • Troll, cave
    • Tunnel terror
    • Umber hulk
    • Vampire troupe
    • Vaporighu
    • Vermin lord
    • Wraith
    • Xorn, average
    • Yrthak

Lowerdark Encounters Listing
While many of the creatures of the Lowerdark are detailed on the Underdark Denizens page, they are not the only creatures one can expect to encounter in the lower levels of the Underdark. Below is a more complete listing of what characters may come across during their travels in this level (i.e. random encounters).
There are two general types of terrain found in the Lowerdark: Wilderness and Desolate. Each is described briefly below, along with the accompanying creatures and encounters to be had in that particular environment.
In addition to the creatures listed below, those running an epic campaign could feasibly place a fair number of the creatures presented in the Epic Level Handbook within the most desolate depths of the Lowerdark.

  • Wilderness
    Wilderness areas are wild caves and tunnels that are not settled but still support significant wildlife or monsters.
    • Aboleth
    • Aboleth slaver brood
    • Annihilator
    • Avolakia
    • Behir
    • Beholder
    • Beholderkin (deathkiss or gouger)
    • Bodak
    • Cildabrin
    • Cloaker mob
    • Cloaker, shadowcloak elder
    • Cockroach, giant
    • Desmodu
    • Delver
    • Dragon, adult deep
    • Dragon, adult copper
    • Dragon, old black
    • Dragon, adult red
    • Dragon, adult shadow
    • Drider
    • Drider, vampire
    • Drow patrol
    • Duergar raiders
    • Deepspawn & spawn
    • Earth Glider
    • Fiendwurm
    • Fomorian
    • Giant, stone
    • Gloura
    • Grimlock hunters
    • Gray render
    • Gulgar [in the Earthroot, near The Ramparts of Night]
    • Hound of the gloom
    • Illithidae (any)
    • Knell beetle
    • Kuo-toa war party
    • Lurker
    • Lurking strangler
    • Maur
    • Mind flayer (or slavers)
    • Mindshredder (any)
    • Mohrg
    • Nightshade (nightwing or nightstalker)
    • Ooze, elder black pudding
    • Phaerimm
    • Phaerlock
    • Psurlon, elder
    • Purple worm
    • Roper
    • Roper, urophion
    • Rukarazyll
    • Scaladar [near Undermountain]
    • Seryulin [in and near the Glimmersea and Giant's Chalice]
    • Shaboath [waters]
    • Spider, dread harpoon
    • Spider, shadow
    • Spider, wraith
    • Stone drake
    • Stone flyer
    • Stonesinger
    • Susurrus
    • Swarm, swamp strider [near lakes & seas]
    • Teratomorph [usually in or near water]
    • Tomb tapper (thaalud)
    • Tunnel terror
    • Umber hulk, truly horrid
    • Underdark landwyrm
    • Wraith, dread wraith
    • Xorn, elder
    • Yrthak
  • Desolate
    Desolate areas are wild caves and tunnels that are not settled and generally do not support much in the way of wildlife or monsters. Much of the Lowerdark is desolate.
    • Aboleth
    • Aboleth slaver brood
    • Annihilator
    • Avolakia
    • Behir
    • Beholder
    • Beholderkin (deathkiss or gouger)
    • Bodak
    • Cloaker mob
    • Cloaker, shadowcloak elder
    • Cockroach, giant
    • Deepspawn brood
    • Delver
    • Desmodu
    • Dragon, mature adult deep
    • Dragon, mature adult copper
    • Dragon, very old black
    • Dragon, mature adult red
    • Dragon, mature adult shadow
    • Drow patrol
    • Duergar raiders
    • Earth Glider
    • Elder eidolon
    • Fiendwurm
    • Fomorian
    • Giant, stone
    • Gloura
    • Grimlock hunters
    • Gray render
    • Gulgar [in the Earthroot, near the Ramparts of Night]
    • Illithidae (any)
    • Kuo-tao war party
    • Lurker
    • Lurking strangler
    • Maur
    • Mind flayer (or slavers)
    • Mohrg
    • Nightshade (nightwing or nightwalker)
    • Ooze, elder black pudding
    • Phaerimm
    • Psurlon, elder
    • Purple worm
    • Roper
    • Roper, urophion
    • Rukarazyll
    • Seryulin [in and near the Glimmersea and Giant's Chalice]
    • Shaboath (waters)
    • Spider, wraith
    • Stone flyer
    • Susurrus
    • Swarm, swamp strider [near lakes & seas]
    • Teratomorph [usually in or near water]
    • Tomb tapper
    • Tunnel terror
    • Umber hulk, truly horrid
    • Underdark landwyrm
    • Wraith, dread wraith
    • Xorn, elder
    • Yrthak

Page Last Updated February 9th, 2006

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