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 the goddess Lolth down to 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, and blue are not unknown. Normally when they use infravision it causes their eyes to glow red. They also tend to be smaller and thinner than most Faeruian elves. Most drow on the surface are evil and worship Vhareaun, 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 pantheon.
Though divided by endless feuds and 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 and minds eternally. They burn with hatred for the Seldarine and their coddled children, and 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 are, on the whole, sadistic, destructive, and treacherous. They view themselves as the rightful heirs to Faerun and still remember the perceived injustice of their exile to the Underdark. They hate other races and either wish to make war upon them or view those others with contempt and tolerate them only as necessary for trade or temporary military alliances. Even among their own kind, drow are cruel and suspicious. There is little room for love and friendship in drow society. They may value alliances with other family members or acquaintances, but no drow truly trusts another. 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 fellows as monsters that need to be stopped. These drow are either surface dwellers who are struggling to become accepted into new societies, or fugitives dwelling in out-of-the-way caverns deep underground. With the new expansion into the surface, more drow than ever before 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 and her kin. It is possible, with proper acceptance and encouragement, that the number of neutral or even good drow on the surface of Faerun could skyrocket in the coming years. The priesthood 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.
The dark elves are renowned for their skill as clerics, fighters, rogues, and wizards. While many drow are naturally gifted enough to excel in almost any career to which they turn their attention, their society had long rewarded skill at arms, divine power (primarily in the hands of female clerics of Lolth), and arcane might (primarily in the hands of male wizards). Likewise, all drow have a deep-seated admiration for stealth, guile, and 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 and skills.
Drow live in militaristic societies with strong religious foundations. They are a matriarchal society, ruled by the most powerful drow priestess. 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 strongest 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 the families shifts almost daily, although the top five or ten families are relatively stable.
Drow cities tend toward a haphazard organization, as the strong families seize the best territory for themselves and leave the common drow to build their warrens and feed themselves in whatever fashion they can manage. The various family estates are often grouped together in the most defensible part of the cavern, but this is not always the case. Typically, a large public temple 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, and desperation are the rule in the heart of a drow city.
Beyond the city proper are vast farms where slaves raise deep rothe, edible fungus, and 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, and experts of various fields. 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.
Surface drow have yet to form anything resembling a society of their own. For the most part, surface drow live as outsiders and hermits, interacting with established societies only when necessary.
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 Vhaeraun, worshiped 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 their worshipers (such as Ghaunadaur), or too afraid or comfortable as Lolth's servants to make a move for more power (such as Kiaransalee and Selvetarm). A notable exception is Eilistraee, the solitary good-aligned deity in the drow pantheon. As more and 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 its effort 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 even of their erstwhile allies, such as the kuo-toa. Against most other races, the only way the drow know to react is with hatred and outright war. They have built up powerful city-states based on the motion 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 and battles are usually brought back to the cities to serve out the remainder of their lives as slaves. Orcs, hobgoblins, ogres, and other savage humanoids, are common slaves. Most drow households have two or 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 and unskilled labor in a drow city.
The true focus of drow hatred, though, is reserved for the surface elves. They act quickly and cruelly to seize any chance to bring pain, suffering, and death to other elves the encounter. Even the few evil surface elves are seen as enemies. Drow sometimes enter into truces with other races or individual if doing so helps them to realize 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.
As Drow believe, the strong and cunning survive, and the weak are culled. Also, understand, the appearances of polite civilization are maintained to a degree, these are the internal thoughts motivating Drow. Well, female clerics, specifically in the above example guidelines.
Here's my best sum up of Drow life, a few facts to remember. HONESTLY, if you get these down, the little glitches in understanding the current player enforced and devised ranking system won't generally phase you. It's far more important to follow the intent than the letter of the law, most times.
1. As a low level drow, assume that any female that didn't arrive after you is your superior until you know differently. Every male is your servant, UNLESS he is claimed by a higher ranking female or has some type of political pull. Sometimes good to find out in advance, you don't want to make enemies aware of you until you can assume your rightful place (see point 2).
2. Every female that is your superior is standing in your rightful place, and is unfairly flaunting her wealth and power at you. She's probably doing it out of spite, you should kill her if you can get away with it. You are better than them all, but you cannot act obviously or without cunning subtlety or the Houses will tear your heart out on Lloth's altar.
3. Your friends are expendable tools for your own elevation to power. Your enemies even more so.
4. Lloth favors you, you are Her most loyal servant. All others are only pretending to gain power. One of the many paths to power is to root out these heretics, and take their stuff, in the name of Lloth. Make sure that you can't be associated with their downfall, unless it increases your position of power.
5. Stupid drow have short life spans. Be cunning, be subtle, and even though you may direct the knife that stabs in darkness, if there is a risk involved make sure that it is found in another's hand if it all goes sour. Every one of those scheming hussies who unfairly holds position/rank over you is constantly plotting your downfall, you're pretty sure of it.
Oh, and also #6, and the most important: Don't show your Drow face on the surface and not expect issues. Daylight is anathema, and as far as going into a surfacer town....just don't.
Creating New Character On Arelith
- Sleeplessness: Immune to spells and effects of the 'Sleep' subtype.
- Hardiness vs. Enchantments: +2 racial bonus on saving throws against mind-affecting spells.
- Bonus Proficiencies (Longsword, Rapier, Shortbow, Longbow)
- Skill Affinity (Listen): +2 racial bonus to listen checks.
- Skill Affinity (Search): +2 racial bonus to Search checks.
- Skill Affinity (Spot): +2 racial bonus to Spot checks.
- Keen Senses: Elves make active Search checks automatically and with no movement penalties.
- Low-light Vision: Allows them to see better than normal in the dark.
- Favoured Class: Cleric for females and wizard for males.
They are renowned for their skills as clerics, fighters, rogues, and wizards. Few follow the path of bards. Rangers are valuable as scouts. Drow do not often multiclass, as their society tends to reward specialization.
Assassin is without the doubt the most common prestige class (PrC). Blackguards are also common.
The great majority is evil and most tend toward chaos.
- Arelith Alignment Restriction: Evil or Neutral
(Neutral alignment will face in character persecution.)
- Retains all base racial abilities, except the stats change
- DEX +2, CON -2, INT +2, CHA +2
- Spell Resistance: 11+level (capped at 32)
- Spell-Like Ability: Darkness (Cooldown)
- Bonus Feat: Rapid Reload
They can also take the drow-exclusive gifts of the Clergy/Magthere.
- Skin: Any shade from dark gray to black that resembles polished obsidian.
- Hair: Pale yellow, silver or stark white.
- Eyes: They commonly have blood-red eyes, although pale eyes (so pale as to be mistaken for white) in shades of pale lilac, silver, pink, and blue are not unknown.
Aging, height and weight similar to elves.
- Drow are usually shorter and slender compared to other elves.
- Adulthood: 110 years
- Could live over 350 years, but usually get killed much sooner. Theoretically they could live to be over 700 years old.
- Bonus languages:
- Starting city: Andunor
- Light-Sensitive Race, they are most unaccustomed to daylight, and while they may not always share the fear of the surface felt by many svirfneblin, their physical transformation at the hand of the Elven Patheon has left them almost entirely unable to operate in daylight. This race, more than any other should expect DMs to take a dim view of daylight activity.
Related on Arelith wiki
- Drow on page about Underdark.
- Definitive Drow policy - Arelith policy concerning Drow with explanations.