The underground is a massive maze of interconnected tunnels and caves, some massive, some tiny.
The General name for the area outlined on the starting map is the 'local area'. It is neither the extent of the world nor the extent of human settlement, but a cluster of human and non-human cities in relatively close proximity. Think of it like an underground island, a section of civilization in a sea of stone.
Tunnel carvers are those who do the work of exploring and creating paths by hand or with explosives. Often work as explorers and guides, or for drilling companies.
An interactive version of the map can be found here.
- Molten Heart: Largest magma source in the local area, its veins entwine the Faith’s Needle complex and separate the East and West sections. Only permanently bridged at a single point, the Molten Path. Forms the magma pool for Empyrean, Twin Falls, and Liri.
- Spore Wood: A wet cave system know for being completely overgrown with fungal blooms. Has eroded and grown out into a branching complex, fueled by water and detritus from the many cities along the river’s path.
- Fathomless Falls: a massive waterfall formed when the Providence river falls down a vertical fault.
- Providence River: Major water source for the entire Western section. Snakes through the earth to the west of the Molten Heart and continues down.
- God’s Breath Caverns: A dry cave system running near Empyrean and the Faith’s Needle complex. Often traversed on foot by pilgrims on a Chthonic pilgrimage. Known for strong air currents and “Breathing” actions.
- Faith’s Needle: Name of the messenger path and its Antediluvian complex deep of the God’s Breath caverns and East of Eclipse. Has been heavily looted and explored by prospectors and pilgrims, leaving not much of worth, even though the complex is still in good condition.
- Sulfurous Maze: A bacterially created cave complex known for its random, mind-boggling layout, horribly toxic chemicals, and deadly diseases.
- Twin Rivers: The East and West Twin rivers are the water sources for the Eastern section, with the West twin traveling deeper and the East twin ending in the lake that Bythos occupies. Connected by a wet cave system called the “Vortex”.
- Vortex: A wet cave system connecting the Twin rivers. Known for its circular shape and complex currents.
- Fire’s Blessing: A messenger path and connected Antediluvian compound which connects directly with a magma vein. Far more dangerous and unexplored than Faith’s Needle due to its more difficult to reach location and the danger it poses to Pilgrims.
- Anvil (168,6) : Most shallow human settlement in local area. Located in natural cavern at intersection of wet cave system and upper reach of magma vein. Moderately sized settlement, producers of both food and metal goods. Known particularly for metalworks and Boreyard called “Hammerfall”, which is the largest producer of Tunnel Bores in the local area.
- Mason (170, 17): A stone quarry turned city, situated in an entirely man-made cave at the intersection of a wet cave system and a magma vein. Moderately sized settlement which mainly exports building materials and raw ore. Lies along three major tunnel paths and is the gateway to Dobble from Chamel and Anvil, securing a place as a minor trade city. The city is split in half, with the majority of the older city on the shallow plateau and the new city and continued quary works on the deeper half near the magma.
- Eclipse (194, 55): By far the deepest human city in the local area. Eclipse is foremost a religious city, a major site of pilgrimage for believers from Empyrean and other human cities. It lies in a natural cave at the end of a magma vein, in close proximity to a known messenger path and Antediluvian compex. Produces little aside from items for the pilgrims and mostly offers accommodation and places of worship. Almost everything it has is imported along the Abyssal Path, including its food and water. Pilgrims tend to take the natural paths through the God’s Breath caverns before stopping in Eclipse and then making their way to the Antediluvian areas.
- Empyrean (211,30): Unofficial capital of mankind and heart of the Tenebrous Church. Largest human settlement in the Local Area, famous for its inverted, overhanging design which is a rarity in human settlements. The natural cavern its built into has a wet cave system just shallow to it, which means water is constantly flowing out from the city’s “foundations” and down along its walls before dripping into the churning magma pool below. This produces a constant haze of steam which fills the cavern. Empyrean does not produce many goods; the church is in the business of creating religious and caving tools but it is by no means a titan of trade. Empyrean is a temple city, a religious city, which survives on the pilgrimage of countless thousands seeking shelter and faith. It is also the producer of the Fathom, the most used currency- ubiquitous in human territory and usually accepted beyond it. It also holds the distinction of having the largest standing military force in the entire local area, with Dobble’s security forces coming in second.
- Twin Falls (238, 26): Named for the twin waterfalls seen on the east side of the city. Twin Falls is, perhaps fittingly, divided into two halves, one side on the east and one on the west, connected by the largest bridge in the local area. Twin Falls is on the other side of the Molten Heart’s largest vein and directly on the Molten Path, the only tunnel path connecting the more developed western section of the local area to the less developed eastern section. It's a major trade city through which all commerce between the east and west must flow. Its upper city, where the path from the west enters, is far more lavish than the lower city and is where the majority of the merchants make their home.
- Roar (276, 12): A small human settlement found at the end of a natural cave system. Roar is a farming and hunting community, oddly small and simple considering their closest neighbor. Named, supposedly, due to the prowess of their hunters.
- Kirk (180, 33): Corven City located just shallow to the Shluck town of Undertow. Found in a naturally occuring faultline, next to the “Satin Roar” horizontal waterfall. The horizontal waterfall is a huge high pressure spout of water created by a bottleneck in the river deep to Kirk. It shoots out at an angle, arcing up and then falling into the small lake below. This spout has eroded away a section of stone so that it arcs up and through empty space in the fault and then falls back back down to the area deeper below. The result is what appears to be a slightly arched horizontal waterfall. Other than this natural oddity, the city of Kirk is rather unremarkable. It's on a major tunnel path and trades crops and tame giant bats with other cities.
- Galway (205, 6): A natural cavern with an open pit bottom dropping out directly into a wet cavern system. Most of Galway is built into the western wall of the cavern along tight switchback paths, with the wealthiest members of the city living in opulent homes atop a plateau. Most industry in the city revolves around gathering of food from the caverns and the production of goods from materials gathered in the same caverns. However their greatest export is young corvens looking to work in Dobble as security for the city or its trade caravans.
- Chime (265, 33): A Corven settlement set up within a natural cave system, kept dry thanks to an artificial dam of unknown origin. Named for the chiming or ringing noise that can be heard from within the cave system. Chime makes most of its money through mining, exploiting the caverns as natural mineshafts. They are the major supplier of stone and ore in the Eastern region. Their mercenary poor also act as an unofficial police force thanks to their insatiable appetite for bounties.
- Goldshore (289,38): A Corven settlement on the shore of a large magma pool. Known for its large system of metal grids and ceramic crucibles which are used to skim off layers of magma. The magma is processed for metals and gems before the slag is thrown back in. The process is grueling and dangerous but has made many in the city rich.
- Dobble (190, 16): The most populous and profitable of the Shluck cities in the local area, though not physically the largest, as Saltslanding holds that distinction. Dobble is a major trade city, located centrally among many other cities and sitting just above the Jade Crossing, in a perfect area to act as middleman and trade broker. Dobble is probably the Shluck city with the most “Terrestrial accessible” or non-flooded sections and offers plenty of trade and accommodations. Have extensive security, mostly Corven Mercenaries from Kirk or Galway.
- Undertow (183, 36): A minor Shluck town, closest trading partner with the Mole-men burrow of Mistcliff. Exists almost entirely to harvest medicinal fungi from the caves near them, trading them up through Kirk. Has only a small section available to unprotected air breathers.
- Saltslanding (235, 64): Saltslanding is the largest Shluck city in terms of size; a vast complex of buildings built into a massive column of stone. Despite its huge size, much of the city is sparsely populated. The complex was once, at some point in the distant past, a fortress of sorts along with adjoining buildings. It is still an imposing structure but no longer populated by even half the Shluck it was originally.
- Bythos (282,53): A small shluck community in an underground lake. The community exists almost entirely to harvest underwater plants and the blood and leavings of the Great worm that burrows nearby. Has a limited connection to the surface world, only sending traders out occasionally.
- Chamel (163, 24): Ethral city in a natural magma cavern. Like most Ethral cities, it utilizes horizontal windmills to benefit from natural convection currents in the air of the cavern. Most Ethral cities specialize in a particular form of craftsmanship as their major export and Chamel is known for its delicate precision metal work. Engraving, jewelry making, watch and other clockwork machine manufacture, and similar work are all done to the highest degree in Chamel.
- Liri (213, 3): Ethral city of Liri is most known for its complex pump system by which it draws water up from the caverns below to the city itself. Liri is built into the walls of a natural cavern and powered by Horizontal windmills. Though a relatively small city the populace concerns itself with architecture and engineering, meaning that almost no building in the city is the same and all are artistically rendered. The city produces few goods but its members are often consulted and hired to oversee construction projects and the creation of new machinery.
- Knot (249, 35): Named because it is an intersection of several pathways, from Chime, Saltslanding and Twin Falls. The Ethral in Knot are makers of weapons and armor, personal and large scale. The Ehtral eschew combat and violence except when needed, but still understand the importance of weapons and the artistry behind them. Their products are expensive - and some say over embellished- but are still considered to be some of the best. Their position along the paths grants them a great trade advantage that they, perhaps foolishly or idealistically, rarely exploit.
- Hearth (286, 8): Hearth is the largest Ethral settlement in the local area and home to what they call “The Eastern Archive” a huge library of books, scrolls, art, artifacts and all manner of things worth preserving. The Archive is the center of the inverted city and resembles a massive inverted cone or tapering tower; it looks more like an extremely artistic fortress than a library and it has the guards to back it up. Oddly, unlike the Shluck and many others, the Ethral prefer to hire Honored Dead, perhaps because they share a noble goal of preserving that which is good in the world. The rest of the city is dedicated to book making, publishing, printing and other literary professions. Despite its place on what could be considered the “Frontier”, it is the source of almost every book, poster, pamphlet or printed work outside of the Black Book of the Church. It also receives stipends from the other Ethral cities, donations to continue the archive’s work.
- Amber (184, 4): Mole-man burrow found somewhere off of a wet cave system east of Anvil. They trade giant fungi and wool maggots with or through Anvil.
- Mistcliff (168,49) : Another mole-men burrow, the deepest in the local area and also possibly the most hidden and difficult to access. Located somewhere along the Fathomless Falls, how the moles get in or out is unknown. Trade in fungi, Beetlemen Carapace and Worm Blood.
- Quiet Grind (213,21): A mole-men burrow known for its particular secrecy even among the already secretive race. Quiet Grind is half rumor and is not known to trade with anyone. Said to be accessible via the dry cave shallow from it. Named for the echoing grinding noise heard in the caverns near it, though it can never be traced back to its source.
- Distance (243,4): Mole-Men burrow found near the Sulfurous Maze. Trade in various chemical and biological substances, probably harvested from the Maze. Usually trade through Chime, occasionally through Twin Falls.
- Flow Overlook (277, 46): A mole-men burrow literally overlooking an underground river. Perhaps the only burrow with an easily seen entrance, though actually reaching appears almost impossible. Trades in Fungi and gemstones with both Chime and Bythos.
Tunnel paths are large, pre-drilled tunnels large enough for bores to easily walk through, along with just about any other vehicle. They are the major paths between cities, though some in the east section simply connect to natural caverns, making them much less traversable by large vehicles.
- Silversmith’s Path: Connects Chamel and Mason.
- Journeyman’s Path: Connects Anvil and Mason.
- Jade Path: A major East to West passage that runs from Liri, through Galway, the Jade Crossing, and finally to Mason. Named because it follows along a major Malachite deposit giving the tunnel a polished, green black appearance.
- Jade Crossing: Intersection of the Jade Path and Abyssal Path.
- Abyssal Path: Unique vertical shaft starting in Dobble and ending shallow to Eclipse, with branches toward Kirk and Empyrean. Unlike most vertical paths, which spiral slowly upwards, the Abyssal path is a straight vertical shaft fitted with a pneumatic ascent and descent system that is substantially faster than other vertical paths. Or takes 4 fathoms to get from Jade Crossing to Pilgrim's Walk. Movement through the Abbysal Path is achieved through giant pneumatic arms.
- Fault Path: Connects Abyssal path with Kirk and Undertow.
- Pilgrim’s Walk: Connects Abyssal path with Empyrean. Known for many carved Icons and images along the way, as well as pilgrims on foot.
- Molten Path: Only path that passes through the major vein of the Molten Heart. Almost all traffic between the East and West sections of the local area passes through this path.
- Path of the Cord: Connects Twin Falls and Knot.
- Salt Path: Connects Knot and Saltslanding.
- Path of Bells: Connects Knot and the caverns containing Chime.
- Sunken Walk: Connects Bythos with the caverns containing Chime.
- Hunter’s Pass: Passage that moves through an underground river and a Fault to connect with the cave system containing Roar.
- Binder’s Glory: Connects Roar with Hearth. Known for being carved with many inscriptions and scenes.
- Miser’s Path: Connects the caverns containing Roar with Goldshore.
Various noteworthy locations
- Gemstone people ruins (162, 19): Ruins of the gemstone people visited by the team during the first expedition. Buried under rubble.