Grasp of Orcus
Menzoberranzan is a large drow city-state deep in the Underdark. It does not technically have dominion over the other major drow cities, but is nonetheless often referred to as the drow “capital,” since it is the largest and most influential, with about 20,000 drow residents, not counting their non-drow slaves.
Menzoberranzan is located within 1-3 days’ travel of the deep gnome city Blingdenstone.
The city is housed in a huge arrowhead-shaped cavern, some two miles wide and a thousand feet high. The structures are mainly carved from calcite and the cavern is filled with blue, green, and violet faerie fire. Buildings are often covered with the city’s main motif: the spider, in honor of Lolth. The roof of Menzoberranzan is covered in paths. Some homes are 1,000 feet above the floor. Ceiling houses have to have great magic to prevent them from falling, and many are empty. An enchantment in the city cavern reduces echos from all the noise.
There are a fixed number of buildings in Menzoberrazan, meaning that the poorer areas were extremely crowded.
The city has around a hundred gates, all guarded. These gates lead into the myriad tunnels surrounding the city (collectively called the Bauthwaf).
One of the most distinct structures in Monzoberranzan is the pillar-clock called Narbondel. It is enchanted each morning by the Archmage of Menzoberranzan with a glow that slowly dissipated as the day wears on. Narbondel can be seen from throughout the entire city and is used as the primary local timekeeping device. When the pillar is completely dark, it is called Narbondel’s Black Death (effectively midnight).