Underdark Bath Salts
From Underdark Anthropological Notes by Emile the Wayward Bard
To surface dwellers, or ‘Surfies’ as the denizens of the Underdark call them, the manners and customs of the peoples of the world below may seem inscrutable. Vendettas may be carried out in cold blood in a gnomish city before the very noses of guardsmen, but woe to the sticky fingered traveler who steals from a shop in their bailiwick! Similarly, the only time the various bipedal tribes cease slaying, enslaving, or exploiting one another seems to be when an outsider breaks some minor custom, then they band together with unbreakable oaths of loyalty, unswerving devotion, and unbeatable cunning until the interloper is brought low before going back to their mutual massacre.
Come to think of it, in some ways they may not be so different from the surface kingdoms…
One Underdweller custom that Surfies would do well to know is that of communal baths. Underfolk love their hot water, and will take any opportunity to slip into one of the myriad geothermal pools that dot the underscape and soak away the worry and bother that comes with living in a permanently dark labyrinth of endless caverns brimming with carnivorous monsters and cruel races. Bathing in such a pool soothes the mind and has minor restorative properties for the body (removes stun or confusion effects OR gives one healing surge or cure light wounds, usable once per day, water loses potency when removed from the pool).
Such bathing spots are governed by a tacit set of rules against bloodshed or mayhem, which is believed to sully the waters and reduce their healing properties. It is not uncommon to see races lined up patiently waiting for their turn to take a dip, unconsciously placing themselves in an order balancing time or arrival with place in the hierarchy of Underdark races. Gear is left undisturbed, for stealing from a bather is a taboo none would dare break.
Breakers of this bath truce can expect to find themselves set upon by inconvenienced hominids, and refused service or even entry to Underdark communities.
Besides knowing the rules, it is useful if not even life-saving to know the bathing habits of Underdark races. Many underfolk carry bathing salts or powders that give addition benefits and sprinkle these in the waters before entering. The salts usually dissipate with 1 to 4 hours, but the effects last much longer for the bathers. Here are a few of the most commonly known Underdark bathing salts:
Drow Dip – Used by Drow and Ettenfolk, this grayish powder is made from a mixture of dried spider venoms, to which these races are immune. Dipping in the mixture keeps minor vermin and pests away for 24 hours or until washed clean. If a pest such as a rot grub, giant tick, carrion crawler of something similar tries to feast on the bather, it must save vs. poison or die for every attack it makes. Any creature not Drow or Ettenfolk bathing in Drow Dip must make the same roll. Drow Dip is sold in Drow cities and fetches a fair price due to the difficulty of mixing.
Dwarf Dusting – Used by Dwarves, Duergar, Deep Ones, Gnomes, Sniblerlfiblin, and any similar industrious underfolk. This sparkling powder is made of crushed gemstones and minerals, and bathing in it confers a protective covering on the bather’s skin. The effect is as a Stoneskin or similar spell and lasts half a day or until washed off. Races other than the aforementioned are unused to moving with the extra dermal layer, and thus move with difficulty (minus 1 to Dex) and also inadvertently wear the protection off quicker, in 1 to 6 hours. The Dusting is horrendously expensive and usually only carried by dwarves on royal business traveling through dangerous underlands.
Kobold Kreme – This disgusting olive coloured crème is made from oils and unguents made from Kobold bodily waste and fermented entrails of certain animals, and each kobold tribe has its own special recipe for the kreme. The kreme seeps into the bather’s pore and makes them inedible to creatures, who must make a moral roll or save as against a fear spell when they smell or taste the kreme. Non kobolds who attempt to bathe in the kreme for some insane reason must make the same saves. The effect lasts 2 days to a week, in which time other hominids will avoid the kremed, who will also be refused entry in any respectable community or establishment. The kreme isn’t worth anything.
Zombie Bath Salts – Underdark necromancers created this white ash that has two main effects – it keeps the undead fresh (heal any damage taken OR gain one extra hit dice), and also makes living subjects susceptible to suggestion (as a charm spell). The effects last a week, after which undead return to normal and the living throw off the effects of the susceptibility. Unscrupulous slavers have also been known to lure unwary travelers into bathing in the salts by use of a zombified pool party of rotting beauties. The salt is made from elements grotesque and arcane, and fetches a decent price among slavers and death wizards. However, being caught using the salt on unsuspecting bathers usually results in an instant death sentence carried out instantly by whoever is near at hand and anyone else within earshot.