City of Splendors & Horrors
A decadent race of dark elves whose beauty and sophistication fail to mask hearts all too often stained in evil.
The vast majority of dark elves base their behavior and attitudes on the worship of the chaotic evil goddess Lolth, also known as the Spider Queen. Drow society is organized into houses. The heads of the most powerful houses occupy leadership positions in the various cities of the Underdark, the subterranean realm beneath Faerûn that the dark elves call home.
Physical Qualities: Drow stand just shy of human height and have slender, athletic builds. Physically, they resemble eladrin, with wiry builds, pleasing features, and midnight black skin that has a blue cast. Their eyes are fiery red, lavender, or blue. All drow have white hair, which most keep long and decorate with intricate pins and webbing wrought from precious metals. Aside from their tresses and eyebrows, drow have little facial hair, though males sometimes grow long sideburns or tufts of wispy hair on their cheeks and chins.
From infancy, a drow child must be cunning. Children can expect no kindness, no warmth, and no compassion. Such expressions engender fatal weakness. Drow are cold parents, instilling self-reliance and independence, so that their offspring will become strong enough to survive a bloody adolescence. Ill treatment reinforces their natural inclinations toward evil. In rare cases, the harshness of childhood can have the opposite effect, seeding the youth with a hatred of and disdain for drow society and expectations. Such attitudes often lead young drow to a premature end.
In general, dark elves have life spans somewhat longer than those of their surface-dwelling cousins. Drow who manage to avoid dying a violent death can live for well over 200 years, and exceptional members of the race measure their ages in centuries.
Playing a Drow: Most drow are singularly wicked. They are cruel in their dealings with others and treacherous among themselves. In the pursuit of power, status, and Lolth’s favor, drow houses compete with each other to amass wealth and enslave weaker races. The fickle whims of Lolth’s priestesses demand absolute obedience, driving the race to further evil.
Though most drow are villains firmly in the thrall of the Spider Queen, not all suffer so. Some drow escape the Underdark to find new lives on the surface, while a few reject the dominance of Lolth’s priestesses and form mercenary companies or trade consortiums of their own. These, however, are the exceptions. The Spider Queen’s church makes bloody examples of any it names enemies of its goddess. Few drow indeed dare to rebel against Lolth’s priestesses.
Drow are born into darkness. Their society is violent and capricious, a world where life is worthless and only power has any meaning. Even drow who escape the clutches of this sinister culture find themselves scarred by the lessons they learned in their youth.
Drow understand the value of alliances and enjoy congenial companionship, but they regard any such arrangements as temporary and learn at an early age to distrust love and camaraderie. Such relationships can hide betrayal. Therefore, dark elves are ever watchful for treachery, expecting the worst in those they meet. Drow are never surprised when the knife appears, and they consequently find it hard to form lasting friendships.
From birth, drow are taught that they are superior to all other races—those who lack the strength to defend themselves deserve to be used as the drow see fit. Drow therefore can be arrogant and condescending until shown reason to respect their associates. Some free drow find these ingrained bigotries hard to overcome. Each drow who escapes the Underdark must come to terms with what he or she has been taught and what he or she sees in the world around. Those who succeed can lead more or less normal lives, while those who fail must endure a miserable existence, trapped between two worlds and finding no haven in either.
Drow Characteristics: Arrogant, cold, haunted, pragmatic, rebellious, ruthless, skeptical, sophisticated, urbane