View Full Version : DM Help Cold War in the Underdark

2015-12-30, 10:13 PM
I need a little help with a setting for 3-5 sessions for my group. The core idea is a cold war in the Underdark between Drow and Duegar. The group is about half people who never play RPGs, and the other half which has been playing for over a decade.
They play a morally ambiguous spec ops mercenary group in a homebrew quasi-traditional fantasy setting with plenty of anachronisms with magic in place of tech.

After the party was awarded a 5000 platinum voucher for a continent-scale Drow viral marketing campaign in lieu of pay last mission, they are going to the underdark for a meeting with the advertising firm. Set piece NPCs are a team perpetually drunk female ad execs in a misandrist society. These Drow prize profit and winning above everything, with plenty of lip service to lower-class religious/traditionalist Drow.

The core conflict will come when the Drow are suddenly embroiled in putting down a slave uprising. It turns out a nearby Deep Dwarf city state has been inciting the slaves to riot on and off for decades. That is right, capitalist Drow vs. Commie Dwarves.Both nations have the ability to cause the destruction of the other with tectonics, but it will result in mutually assured destruction. Also, would love punny names for people and locations like The Lloth-Blighted States of Drowerika.

How can I make this better?

TL;DR: I need obscure cold war trivia, useful bits of Underdark lore, anything that might let me enrich a Drow vs. Deep Dwarves storyline.

2015-12-30, 10:42 PM
Set piece NPCs are a team perpetually drunk female ad execs in a misandrist society.

That is right, capitalist Drow vs. Commie Dwarves.

How can I make this better?

You can't. It's perfect.

Just make sure that the dwarves all venerate a deep gnome sent to them by a third party, that the drow later pacified.

2015-12-31, 12:02 AM
The setting seems wonderful, but since you want it to be a "Cold War" (not a "Hot War" like WWII), it needs the following:
(1) A reason why both sides don't start actually fighting each other (though yeah, you already mentioned it in the first post)
(2) Minions on both sides
(3) Places the both sides fight over (as indirectly as possible)

(1) In the real-world Cold War, it was the nuclear bombs. In this particular world it could be some demonic/infernal artifact. In a way it's Lloth V.S. Asmodeus, this particular Cold War, so it's no surprise if both sides have some terrible artifacts of mass destruction.

(2) Like the Cold War, these two sides wouldn't fight each other directly, they'd also need minions - probably in the form of the other "humanoid evil races" such as Goblinoids, Orcs, Ogres, Trolls, Kobolds, and so on. They'd fight the war in place of the Drow and Duergar, which will occasionally lend them some high-tech weapons (tanks and guns in the real world, prolly magical items in D&D).
Some races could be "split" among the two sides. For instance, maybe half of a particular Goblin Kingdom agreed to go on the Drows' side, while the other side allied with the Duergars. And then there will be this giant Wall of Goberlin in the center of their city that blocks anyone from going over to the other side.

Maybe the Kobolds start thinking their government isn't treating them well. They stand up and try to gain freedom, in front of this big random gate with some history - but then the army swoops in and crushes them all under wheels. And later, when the Kobolds try to google up "Tiamatmen Massacre" on the internet, they can't find the info anywhere.

Also, perhaps, some Elves who REALLY hate Drow will side with the Duergar, and some Dwarves who REALLY hate the Duergar will side with the Drow. But I dunno. Depends on how the Elves and Dwarves are depicted in your campaign.

(3)Basically, Cuba for America. If the Duergar try to create a new military camp somewhere REALLY close to the Drows' cities, things could start to get menacing.

If you want it to be realistic, maybe add the idea of "important places" that both the Drow and Duergar want on their side. This could be a major center of commerce in the Underdark (maybe a gigantic city made by the Deep Gnomes), or perhaps, some place filled with raw magical energy (possibly because of a Promordial, much like the volcano in the Neverwinter campaign), which can be a wonderful place to create tons of magical items. Maybe a mine of mythril or some other rare ore - that would work too, perfectly.

When I think up more, I will try to post. This seems like a really fun and interesting setting.

2015-12-31, 01:22 AM
Okay, what if they were fighting over the surface?

Like, that is their "third world". On the surface, the Duegar back undead and egalitarian oligarchies. And the Drow back stratified magocracies and monarchies.

Perhaps they were Allies hundreds of years ago against an Illithid menace which the Drow took out with a divine planar bomb. Then the Duegar replicated it with psionics. Slow escalation of tests, wreaking havoc on the surface and the continent-sized void where the cold war is taking place.

I am picturing a bloc of the CCCC (Coalition of Council-led Communalist Clans - The Duegar), Modrons, and Formians behind an Adamant inexpensive Curtain. They all use a kind of Psioinic elemental plane shifting for conjuring resources from the earth planes.

And the Drow have Deep Gnomish and Hill Dwarf allies who help them trade with the surface. The Drow planar weapon was based on ripping reality down to the plane of nightmares, so they started using that to influence dreams and gain cultural supremacy.