I'm currently working on a story arc where a bunch of Drow have just had their major food supply threatened by a demon of the Underdark, and as a consequence they are rising to the surface and usurping the food trade of the upper world.

The only problem is I don't know what they would have eaten.

In order to flesh out the conflict and add more depth to the Drows' struggle, I'd have to know what types of foods that the denizens of the Underdark have been living off of in the first place.

So what kinds of food would the Drow be eating down there?


4 Answers 4


Plants and Fungi

Not surprisingly there are edible mushrooms and plants that adapted to the Underdark. There are hundreds of different wines produced from fungi. "Spiderblood" is a one of the most expensive and seasoned with spider's venom.

  • Barrelstalk is a fungus as big as a tree. Only the inner flesh is edible. In the centre there is a large reservoir containing water.
  • Bluecap is an inedible fungus, whose spores can be ground into flour and made into bread, commonly called "sporebread".
  • Firelichen of pale orangish color is used to produce a spicy paste put onto sporebread, liquor or to season soup or stew.
  • Ripplebark is a fungus resembling a pile of rotting flesh. It is edible raw, however after preparation it has better taste.
  • Trillimac is a fungus with broad gray-green cap and a light gray stalk. The stalk can be cleaned, soaked and dried to produce bread-like food.
  • Water orb is a bulbous fungus that grows in shallow water. It's structure is similar to sponge, soaked with water. It is edible, but rater chewy and tasteless.
  • Zurkhwood is enormous mushroom and a source of food and timber. Because of hard and woody consistency it must be properly cooked to be edible. Its spores are nurtritious and may be eaten raw.


  • Bats are very common in the whole of the Underdark, and includes regular, dire and even weirder species.
  • Fish are mostly very small, pale and harmless. In greater bodies of water more dangerous versions of subterranean fish may be found, e.g. sharks.
  • Rothé are common livestock very similar to muskoxes.
  • Vermin are the most common source of food in the Underdark. Some of them are bred like livestock, mostly beetles and crickets.

The source materials are:

  • Underdark, the D&D 3.5e campaign accessory

    Underdark's cover

  • Out of the Abyss, a D&D 5e adventure

    Out of the Abyss's cover

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I've rolled ZwiQ's edit back into place, since the revision improved the answer's communication & made objectively good corrections. If there was something in the wording choices of what that revision introduced, I suggest you revise further, but we would like to keep those writing corrections in place. \$\endgroup\$ Oct 12, 2017 at 20:34

Out of the Abyss (5e)

The third adventure path for 5e, Out of the Abyss, features Underdark adventures. The second chapter of this book describes both prospects for foraging in the Underdark and seven separate edible fungi.

The Underdark (3e)

A little more about how the ecology of the Underdark works. Faezress--magic--provides the energy source for the growth of most fungi and lichens. Streams bring in nutrients, forming the other pillar of the food chain. Cave systems near streams and along gorges and ones featuring gigantic mushroom groves thus tend to be very fertile (by Underdark standards). This book also mentions small game in the upperdark (rats, lizards, &c.) and the fertility of lakes.

Drow of the Underdark... (2e)

...specifically mentions Drow cannibalism in cases of overpupulation/food stress. (And mentions insects, rothe, gardening fungi, &c.)

FR Novels

According to Bob Salvatore's various underdark novels, dark elves get by just fine on mostly domesticated meat breeds (like the Rothe mentioned by SPavel, each about twice the size of a yak), insects and reptiles, fish, fungi, and fermented spirits. (But these weren't designed as play-guides--just what we find mentioned in passing.)


The great city of the Drow is Menzoberranzan, which is said to trade in "poisons, mushrooms, riding lizards, spell scrolls, wine, and water." Of those, only mushrooms (and sometimes the riding lizards) are edible. If they have wine, they ought to also have grapes somewhere. Though other types of wine (plum wine, for instance) can exist, it's unlikely that they produce it from the mushrooms, so they must have some other crop.

They also keep a bovine species known as rothé, which can be slaughtered and eaten for meat.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Reference for Rothe: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roth%C3%A9. Apparently, they have an accent. They're also a source of milk, cheese, fur and hide. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Jun 16, 2016 at 0:06
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ Note that you can make alcohol out of pretty much anything that contains carbohydrates, and potable alcohol out of pretty much anything edible. I can't say whether it'd be any good, but you can definitely make booze out of mushroom juice. \$\endgroup\$
    – GMJoe
    Jun 16, 2016 at 0:32

Fungi eat dead plant matter, herbivores eat plants and plants require visible light. In our world the only natural source of light is the sun but in the underdark there are types of rock that are photostatic and photogenerative and darkstone drinks in light dimming nearby light sources.

"Some stories even tell of illuminated vaults, places where sun-bright crystals in the ceilings blaze with the intensity of true daylight and support green plants and surface-like fauna in abundance."

We have to imagine that there must be some light emitting rock that allows plants to grow there. Perhaps some kind of moss that would feed the fungi and insects that support larger animal life.

Source: http://www.realmshelps.net/faerun/underdark/exploring.shtml


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .