Drow Information

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Drow Information

Post  Fox on Sun Jun 19, 2011 2:26 am

Elf, Drow (Dark Elf)

Of the various elven subraces, none are more notorious than the Drow. Descended from the original dark-skinned elven subrace called the Ssri-tel-quessir, the Drow were cursed into their present appearance by the good elven deities for following Lolth down the path to evil and corruption.

Also called dark elves, the Drow have black skin that resembles polished obsidian and stark white or pale yellow hair. They commonly have blood-red eyes, although pale eyes (so pale as to be often mistaken for white) in shades of pale lilac, silver, pink & blue are not unknown. They tend to be smaller & thinner than most Faerunian Elves. Most Drow on the surface are evil & worship Vhaerun, but some outcasts and renegades have a more neutral attitude, and there are even groups of good Drow who worship Eilistraee or other deities not of the traditional Drow pantehon.

Though divided by endless feuds & schisms, the Drow are united in one terrible desire: they seethe with a hatred for the surface elves. By their way of reckoning, they proved themselves the superior race in the Fourth Crown War and the fact that the Seldarine (and Corellon in particular) punished them for their success is a poison that churns in their hearts & minds eternally. They burn with a hatred for the Seldarine & their coddled children, & want nothing more than to return to the surface and bring to the elves there suffering a thousand times greater than that which the drow have been forced to endure over the past ten thousand years.

Drow have the life expectancy, age categories & height & weight characteristics defined for elves.


In the beginning, the Ssri-tel-quessir were the most successful of the elven colonists to the new world of Faerun. The nation of Ilythiir quickly became one of the most powerful of the early elven nations. But the Ssri-tel-quessir were not only the most successful of the elves of their time, they were also the most cruel & jealous. Despite their own accomplishments, they envied those of their neighbours all the same. While the First Crown War raged to the north, the dark elves waged their own war against their neighbours, seeking to dominate the elven realms of southern Faerun.

Unsuccessful in three attempts to subjugate the neighbouring realms, the dark elves of Illythiir turned to a new & secret patron at the opening of the Fourth Crown War. The dark elves pledged their loyalties to the outcast Seldarine of the Demonweb Pits & to Lolth in particular.The Spider Queen & her fellow exiles (with the notable exception of Eilistraee) granted the dark elves of Illythiir great magical powers, fiendish allies & support in return for their allegiance & the Illythiiri wreaked great havoc among the other elven realms.

But their success & victory were short-lived for Corellon was shocked & deeply enraged by the traitorous acts of the Dark Elves. By his decree, the Ilythiiri elves were cursed, transformed into Drow & banished from the surface world into the Underdark. They became known as the Dhaerow (the Elven word for traitor_ & over the centuries this word has given them the name by which they are now known: Drow.

After their exile below ground, the Drow lived as nomads, scavengers & feral beasts. Eventually, through the guidance of Lolth, they drew themselves together as a race and began to make the best of their situation, colonizing large portions of the Underdark. The first underground Drow civilizations were established in southern Faerun around -9600 DR. In -9000 DR, the Drow seized the great cavern of Bhaerynden from the gold Dwarves & established the first great Drow kindom. Telantiwar. Unfortunately, the Drow of Telantiwar quickly fell into terrible civil wars, the eventual resultof which were several magical explosions that collapsed the caverns of their nation & formed the great rift in southern Faerun.

The few Drow survivors of this catacylsm scattered throughout the Underdark, slowly settling regions farther & farther away from their original homelands in the South. In time the drow built dozens of magnificent, terrifying cities deep underground, quite an achievement for a people so predisposed toward treachery, infighting & civil war. Sshamath, the city of Dark Weavings was founded beneath the Far Hills in -4973 DR. Menzoberra the Kinless, a high priestess of Lolth, established the city of Menzoberranzan in -3917 DR. House Nasadra, exiled from Menzoberranzan, founded Ches Nesad in -3843 DR. Many other cities lie beneath other parts of Faerun, sometimes exerting their baleful influence on the lands above, sich as the conquest of the Human realm of Dambrath by the Drow of Tlindheit in 804 DR, or the centruies long rule of Maerimydra over Shadowdale hundreds of years ago.

Recently, the Drow have begun to extend their influence to the surface in greater numbers than ever before, moving into abandoned elven cities & homes. They have begun training and conditioning to allow them to function in the brilliant surface world. Much to their surprise & delight, they have found that due to the Elven Retreat, the presence of surface elves is much smaller & poorly organised than they anticipated. Small bands of Drow opposed to this return to the surface have made efforts to alert the surface world of this new threat, but so far no organised resistance to the Drow invasion of the surface world has appeared.


Drow are, on the whole, sadistic, destructive & treacherous. They view themselves as the rightful heirs to Faerun & still remember the percieved injustice of their exile to the Underdark. They hate other races and either wish to make war upon them or view those others with contept & tolerate them only as necessary for trade or temporary military allegiances. Even among their own kind, Drow are cruel & suspicious. There is little room for love & friendship in Drow society. They may value alliances with other family members or acquaintances, but no Drow truly trusts anpther. Drow forge alliances only when they are more powerful than an "ally", possess blackmail-worthy knowledge or have a common enemy that overrides their mutual hatred. Even then, they keep their eyes and ears primed for the slightest hint of treachery. The motto for the Drow may well be, "Do unto others first so they cannot do unto you."

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule. A fair number of Drow have come to value their position in the Underdark and now think of themselves as true natives of their dark realm. They have little desire to return to the surface and would rather rule in the depths than struggle to regain a realm they no longer hold any interest in ruling. Even more rare are those few Drow who have atoned for their evil ways and think of their felows as monsters that need to be stopped. These Drow are either surface dwellers who are struggling to become accepted into new socities, or fugitives dwelling in out-of-the-way caverns deep underground. With the new expansion into the surface, more Drow than ever are being exposed to the truth on the surface, and many are realizing that life on the surface is much nicer than they were led to believe by the agents of Lolth & her kin. It is possible, with the proper acceptance & encouragement, that the numbers of neutral or even good Drow on the surface of Faerun coul skyrocket in the coming years. The priesthooed of Eilistraee is in the forefront of this movement, desperately trying to divert the Drow war on the surface into a mass conversion from the dark elves' dreadful ways.

Drow Characters

The dark elves are reknowned for their skill as clerics, fighters, rogues & wizards. While many Drow are naturally gifted enough to excel in almost any career to which they turn their attention, their society has long rewarded skill at arms, divine power (primarily in the hands of female clerics of Lolth) & Arcane might (primarily in the hands of male wizards). Likewise, all Drow have a deep-seated admiration for stealth, guilde & the unexpected blade in the dark. Dark Elves are well-suited to make good bards, but few follow this path; the bard's exuberance does not fit well in Drow society, although all Drow can admire a work of skill. Drow rangers are valuable too, serving as scouts who can roam the tunnels of the Underdark, seeking out threats to the great cities of the dark elves. Drow do not often multiclass, as their society tends to reward specialization in the expected roles & skills.

Favoured Class

Centuries of tradition & social pressure have resulted in a schism between male & female Drow in regards to their favoured class. Female Drow are favoured by society as clerics, because the Spider Queen favours clerics of her own gender. As a result, a female Drow's favoured class is cleric.
There is no similar favouritism for male Drow, who have the standard elven favoured class of Wizard.

Prestige Classes

The most common prestige class among the Drow is without a doubt the Assassin. Many Drow have prestigious and infamous academies that train prospective youths in various philosophies of death, and these assassin's guilds have produced some of the deadliest & most successful killers in the Underdark. Blackguards are also common among the Drow, as are other divine prestige classes such as the Divine Champion, Divine Disciple & Divine Seeker. Any Drow who wishes to thrive within Drow culture does well to tie himself or herself to Lolth's faith.

Drow Society

Drow live in militaristic societies with strong religious foundations. They are a matriarchal, ruled by the most powerful Drow priestesses. Drow do not form nations, but congregate in vastly powerful city-states located in massive caverns deep underground. Drow cities trade with each other but frequently fall into open warfare.

A typical Drow city is ruled by a large group of powerful Drow families, the of which rule the city itself. Each family is in turn ruled by a Matron Mother, typically (though not always) a powerful cleric of Lolth. Infighting is common, even expected, among the ruling families of a Drow city. The power ranking of families shifts almost daily, although the top five or ten families are relatively stable.

Drow cities tend toward a haphazard organisation, as the strong families seize the best territory for themselves and leave the common Drow to build their warrens & feed themselves in whatever fashion they can manage.The various family estates are often grouped close together in the most defensible part of the cavern, but this is not always the case. Typically, a large public temple dedicated to Lolth is located in the same area, often as part of the ruling family's estate. The city itself is usually a tangled, chaotic mess of hundreds of architectural styles. Magic items emitting faerie fire adorn the more prosperous buildings, as well as most of the family estates. For the most part, poverty, oppression & despiration are the rule in the heart of a Drow city.

Beyond the city proper are vast farms where slaves raise deep Rothe, edible fungus & other necessities for the survival of the city. Garrisons of the city's standing army (segregated by gender_ are located nearby, along with academies that cater to wizards, bards, rogues, assassins & experts of various fields (even psions & psychic warriors). Often a Drow city enters an alliance with a powerful denizen of the Underdark such as a Beholder or a Deep Dragon, encouraging the creature to keep a lair on the outskirts of the city. Menzoberranzan, home city of the famed exile Drizzt Do'Urden, is the most famous Drow city-state & serves as an excellent example of how such locations are structured.

Surface Drow have yet to form anything resembling a society of their own. For the most part, surface Drow live as outcasts & hermits, interacting with established societies only when necessary.

Language & Literacy

Most Drow speak Elven, Undercomon & a language appropriate to their native region. Those with the time or inclination, particularly warriors, learn Drow Sign Language, or languages commonly spoken by beings that settle nearby, including Abyssal, Common, Draconic & Goblin. Drow also learn common languages spoken on the surface near the entrances to their particular corner of the Underdark, such as the Illuskan language.

Drow have developed a unique sign language, Drow sign language, which allows silent communication with hand gestures up to 120 feet away as long as both parties can see each other. Drow Sign Language has no alphabet or written form.

All Drow characters are literate except for Barbarians.

Drow Magic & Lore

The Drow have developed an astounding number of unique (and often disturbing) spells; many of these have since filtered up through the Underdark and have become well known even on the surface world. Drow have a particular affinity for levitate spells & effects, and often build structures & defenses that require levitate (or some other form of flight) to get from one level to another. Many important or influential Drow open a Drow House Insignia.

Spells & Spellcasting

Drow have an affinity for magical glyphs & runes and have long warded their homes with potent magics woven into various sigils & runes places where they can war against intrusion. These glyphs are similar to those created by the Glyph of Warding or Greater Glyph of Warding spells, except that they remain in place even after discharging power. Drow glyphs fall into one of three categories, war-marker runes (used in areas patrolled or traveled by Drow, but not inhabited by them), Sacred Glyphs (special glyphs placed by clerics of Loth to protect their homes and families). These runes are placed by Drow clerics who have become runecasters & often contain unique spells that have been researched specifically for a particular rune or location.

Drow Magic Items

Drow are particularly fond of magic weapons and armour & all Drow in service to a powerful Drow city or family can expect their arms & armour to have at least some minor magical enhancements. Drow are likely to carry Drow House Insignias, Piwafwis (Cloaks of Elvenkind) & greater Piwafwis. Because they are selfish & paranoid, Drow sometimes craft their magic items so they can only be used by Drow, which keeps the items out of the hands of their enemies - at least those that aren't also Drow.

Drow Deities

The Drow worship a pantheon of deities known as the Dark Seldarine. These deities were cast out of the Seldarine ages ago and exiled to the Demonweb Pits. They are led by Lolth, the Spider Queen, and it is she whom the vast majority of Drow worship. The second most popular Drow deity is Vhaerun, worshipped by most of the surface-dwelling Drow. The other Drow deities remain minor in the grand scheme of things, either too absorbed in their own interests to increase worshipers (such as Ghaunadaur), or too afraid or comfortable as Lolth's servants to make a move for more power (such as Kiaransalee and Selvetarim). A notable exception is Eilistraee, the solitary good-aligned deity in the Drow pantheon. As more & more Drow turn to the surface in an attempt to expand their domains, an increasing number are being converted away from their evil ways by the church of Eilistraee, which of late has significantly stepped up it's efforts to "save" the Drow from their destructive ways.

Relations with other races

The Drow do not interact well with the various other sentient races of Faerun. At best, the Drow think of other races as merely laughable or contemptible. They hold low opinions of ther erstwhile allies, such as the Kuo-Toa. Against most other races, the only way the Drow know how to react is with hatred & outright war. They have built up powerful city-states based on the notion that the path to power lies in the subjugation of lesser races and the eradication of those who pose a threat to their homes.

Prisoners captured in Drow raids & battles are usually brought back to the cities to serve out the remainder of their lives as slaves.Orcs, Hobgoblins, Ogres & other savage humanoids are common slaves. Most Drow households have two to three such slaves for every Drow in the house. The breeding and selling of slaves is a thriving business in Drow cities, because these hapless thralls perform all menial & unskilled labour in a Drow city.

The true focus of Drow hatred though, is reserved for the surface elves. They act quickly & ccruelly to seize any chance to bring pain, suffering & death to other Elves they encounter. Even the few evil surface elves are seen as enemies. Drow sometimes enter into truces with other races or individuals if doing so helps them to realise their sinister goals, but these truces are by their nature temporary affairs. It's only a matter of time until the Drow turn on their allies.

Drow Equipment

Drow often make use of poisoned weapons. Their favourite is a powerful knockout toxin used to capture live prisoners. Drow poisonmakers extract this toxin from a slipper black fungus that grows like great slicks of oil in certain Underdark caverns. Various natural predators of the underground, such as scorpions, purple worms &especially spiders, are other common sources for poison.

Arms & Armour

Drow prefer to fight with weapons that take advantage of their Dexterity, so rapiers are a favourite implement of the Dark Elves. Most Drow are also well versed with the hand crossbow and use this weapon to deliver potent knockout poison with stealth & precision. They wear mithral chainmail or mithral chain shirts when they can afford it, but the Drow eschew most other armours that hamper their agility or speed.

Animals & Pets

Drow do not keep animals as pets; they prefer pets that can fully comprehend the scope of their reliance & dependance on their masters. Accordingly, many Drow keep a favoured slave as a personal servant or thrall. These minions are, in truth, little more than pets for the Drow, and they are generally treated as such.

The "pets" that most visitors to a Drow city remember are the spiders. These vermin are the favoured of Lolth, and because her church rules most Drow cities, it is only natural that spiders would be common in Drow lands. Smaller monstrous spides are often kept as pets or simply let loose to wander the streets, serving as pest control. Larger spiders are often kept as guardians or even mounts in some cases. Training unintelligent vermin to do anything is exceedingly difficult, so many Drow cities have bred specialised types of spiders to serve them. The Sword Spider is said to be one of the most successful of these.

The Drow also use of various breeds of subterranean lizards. They have bred species with sticky pads on their feet for use as pack animals & mounts. Drow sometimes use bats of all sizes as and breeds as scouts or alarms. Various molds, fungi (especially shriekers), & oozes see common use in Drow traps or sanitation areas. More rarely, Drwo train Cavvekans as pets or guards.

Finally, the Drow often bring in dangerous Outsiders from the Demonweb Pits to serve as guardians or minions. Myrlochar, Bebiliths & Retrievers are the most common due to their spiderlike appearance.

Surface Drow Region

Many Drow have begun to train and acclimate themselves for life on the surface. The surface Drow region reflects a Drow from one of the Vhaerun worshipping factions of Cormanthor, such as House Jaelre or Clan Auzkovyn.

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