Drow

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Drow, more commonly known as "Dark Elves", are a common reoccurring type of elf, first introduced in Dungeons & Dragons as a matriarchal society of black-skinned and white-haired subterranean elves who are literally allergic to sunlight. Unlike real-life underground species that develop pale skin, drow have black skin due to the curse laid upon them when their demon-goddess Lolth turned them away from the other elven gods. They produce adamantine equipment (which falls apart in sunlight, yet is bad-ass underground), take slaves, are ruled by an abusive matriarchy that likes S&M, have magic resistance, really like spiders and hate most other elves.

In short, they'd be fucking cool, were it not for the fact that 90% of all player character Drow will be Chaotic Good and be Rebelling Against The Evils Of Their Race, thanks to the raging hard-on underages and other tryhards have for Drizzt. As a result, even though dark elf pr0n is A) common, B) totally acceptable given their canon behavior, and C) totally relevant when somebody asks for dark elf pictures (see B), people still get whiny on /tg/ at anything moderately crude. Sure, we're trying to hold back the tide of cancer, but where dark elves are concerned, it's totally good.

Designers have mooted plenty other visions of subterranean elf, sometimes superficially looking like drow, sometimes even called "drow", that bend the definition given above. Largely because of that anti-Drizzt constituency we mentioned. We'll get to those, below.

History[edit]

Drow were first mentioned in the second, 1978 hardback of the Monster Manual for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition, under "Elf". Here: "The 'Black Elves,' or drow, are only legend. They purportedly dwell deep beneath the surface in a strange subterranean realm. The drow are said to be as dark as faeries are bright and as evil as the latter are good. Tales picture them as weak fighters but strong magic-users." Contemporaneously they are fleshed out in G3: Hall of the Fire Giant King.

They truly sprang onto the world in the followup Drow Trilogy Adventure Path which, with its sequel Queen of the Demonweb Pits, fleshed out the Underdark, drow culture, and Lolth. They subsequently entered the Fiend Folio, and Gygax himself gave them PC stats in Unearthed Arcana. (More on that in a minute.)

The already-popular villains exploded in popularity as a PC race following the release of the Drizzt novels to the point of parody, oversaturation, and backlash, though all three have died down with time and distance.

The race has been an occasional target of attack because, like many things can if described in a deliberately-misleading-and-reductive way, the broad strokes of "darker-skinned elves are ruled by evil feminazis and have a savage, half-civilized culture of betrayal" sounds really bad. To tell you what you already know, there's some grains of truth to the unfortunate implications, but it was the occasional source of bad-faith trolling before people who didn't know anything about them but the memes took it seriously - if nothing else, drow are almost never described as having any human skin tones in any sources outside of Japan (where they tend towards the coffee with cappuccino end of the skin spectrum), and their facial features are usually drawn to resemble a white or Asiatic appearance rather than an African. It also didn't help that the porny Queen of the Spiders cover had their skin as an ashen dark tan a la South India, rather than pure black, or that their hair was originally described as "curly."

As of the present, the drow have seemingly moved past the backlash to hit the most popular spot they've ever been in. They were introduced as a core PC race for the first time in 5e (albeit the only one at launch to have a built-in penalty), the second major adventure line for the edition took place in the Underdark and gave them a ton of focus (and was retconned to be a massive plot by their patron goddess to boot), and they tend to cameo in most other adventure lines or collections and get new monster versions added with each new Monster Manual equivalent.

In-universe, the drow backstory mostly boils down to them being victims of the bitter breakup between Corellon and Lolth.

Relations[edit]

The drow don't exactly get on well with other races, but they are still elves, so the family tree can produce some rather odd branches.

Famously, drow are often transformed by Lolth into half-drow, half-spider centaur creatures traditionally known as driders. In several editions, they also created the chitines, a race of humanoid spiders.

An incredibly rare mutation amongst the drow are the Szarki, meaning "Ghost Spiders" - drow afflicted with albinism. First appearing in the form of a prominent antagonist character in the original Maztica novels, who was transformed into a drider at their end, the szarki were fleshed out in 3.5's Drow of the Underdark. They are mechanically identical to drow, but their albinism allows them to pass themselves off as elves, so they are coddled and trained as elite infiltrators.

A common "sacred rite" for drow priestesses of Lolth is to bang a powerful demon known as a glabrezu. The resultant Half-Fiend offspring is known as a Draegloth.

In AD&D, drow also had a unique Half-Dragon offshoot race that was half Deep Dragon, known simply as the "Drow-Dragon". In 3e, this idea was tweaked and replaced with a race of drow-dragons born of Shadow Dragon lineage, called Zekyl. These in turn gave rise to a race called the draa'zekyl, who could shapeshift between purely drow and purely draconic forms.

Much like how Duergar have the long-forgotten "good but still Underdark-dwelling" counterpart of Grey Dwarves, so too do Drow have such a counterpart race: the Rockseer Elf. Mystara has its own unique elf race that takes the drow's niche, the Shadow Elf.

(A)D&D[edit]

First Edition[edit]

There never were Drow in the BXCMI line. This line did spin up some underworld elves incompatible with surface elves - the Shadow Elves, the Schattenalfen - but those were Aztec or post-Aztec. Shadow Elves farm spiders in, like, one city only. LEAVE THEM ALONE!!

Where Drow did exist, starting at Greyhawk, Gygax (at first) restricted them to the role of monsters, due to their in-game lore. Both Drizzt Do'Urden (in Icewind Vale, not Greyhawk ... and arguably not Forgotten Realms at first, either) and Viconia de'Vir were exceptions, with backstories to explain why they're on the surface instead of down in the Underdark.

That said, Gygax wasn't entirely ignorant to his audience. PC stats for drow elves appeared, alongside the other Underdark Demihumans (duergar and svirfneblin) in the original Unearthed Arcana for AD&D 1e. They were still quite strong, but nerfed from their appearance in the Drow Trilogy for instance knocking out that spell-resistance. They were also less powerful than their 2e incarnations:

No ability score penalties or modifiers.
Sunlight Sensitivity: -2 penalty to Dexterity and "to hit" rolls and enemies gain a +2 bonus to saves vs. drow attacks when both the drow and their opponent are in bright light. If the dark elf is in shadow and the opponent is brightly lit, this changes to a -1 to hit penalty/+1 save bonus instead.
Unlike drow NPCs, drow PCs do not have 50% magic resistance. They cannot regain this trait without a Wish spell.
Drow do not gain the weapon bonuses of normal elves, but instead are ambidextrous.
Drow have Infravision 12'.
Drow females have movement rate 15', whilst males have movement rate 12'.
Drow have the Stealth and Detect Secret Doors abilities of elves, and the Stonecunning ability of dwarves.
Drow have access to the spell-like abilities of Dancing Lights, Faerie Fire and Darkness 5' Radius. They gain access to Detect Magic, Know Alignment and Levitate at 4th level, with female drow also gaining Clairvoyance, Detect Lie, Dispel Magic and Suggestion at that level. All spell-like abilities are usable 1/day.
Available classes: Cleric, Warrior (Fighter, Ranger, Cavalier), Rogue (Thief, Acrobat, Assassin), Magic-User.
Class levels for Drow Males: Cleric 7, Fighter 10, Magic-User 18, Thief/Acrobat Unlimited, Assassin 12, Ranger 14
Class levels for Drow Females: Cleric Unlimited, Fighter 12, Magic-User 11, Thief/Acrobat Unlimited, Assassin 12, Ranger 14

Naturally, when 2e rolled along, The Complete Book of Elves splatbook also provided new rules for playable Drow and holy fuck were they powerful... IF you were playing in the Underdark.

+2 Dex, +1 Int, -1 Constitution, -2 Charisma for initial ability score modifiers, and with racial maximums of 18, 20, 17, 19, 18 and 16 for Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma respectively. They have a bunch of spell-like abilities, all usable once per day; Dancing Lights, Faerie Fire, and Darkness by default, with Levitate, Know Alignment and Detect Magic gained at level 4. Drow Clerics get even more, in the form of Clairvoyance, Detect Lie, Suggestion and Dispel Magic. Also, they start with Magic Resistance 50% and increase it by +2% per level, to a max of 80%, and get a +2 bonus on all saves involving magic.

So, what's the drawback? Aside from the sensitivity to light (-2 penalty to Dexterity and Attack Rolls, enemies are +2 bonus to saves vs. drow spells), they also lose their powers if they spend more than two weeks outside of the Underdark, losing 10% Magic Resistance and one spell-like ability each day. If they go back to the Underdark, they get their powers back if they spend 1 day for each week they spent on the surface. Also, they get a -4 penalty to Reaction rolls against other elves, and increase their experience costs by +20%.

3rd edition[edit]

3E managed to make it almost a whole year before caving in and making the Drow a full and proper player character race in the 2001 Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting. They had the usual elf boni and flaws, plus: +2 Int, +2 Cha; Darkvision 120' instead of elf-normal lowlight vision; Spell resistance of 11 + character level; +2 to will saves against spells; the ability to cast dancing lights, darkness, and faerie fire as spell-like abilities 1/day; proficiencies with hand crossbow, rapier, and shortsword instead of elf-normal; sudden bright sunlight will blind a drow for 1 round; and the drow will be dazzled until they leave the bright light. Male drow have wizard as their favored class, female drow have cleric (of Lolth) as favored class.

The larger array of spell-like abilities they had in AD&D, such as Levitation, are retconned in this edition as being exclusive to drow nobility only. That's not to say mechanics to let a PC have access to these powers were completely unavailable.

They had an article on their culture in Dragon Magazine #298 that really emphasized the darker side of drow culture. Want a sample? According to this lore, drow don't die out because, despite their tendency to murder and torture each other, they're as fertile as orcs, with females normally conceiving twins and triplets. They normally only birth a single baby, though, because the strongest usually kills and absorbs the others in the womb; these prenatal struggles actually produce orgasms more intense than anything a drow female might feel elsewhere. This sensation, chad-zak, is explicitly called out as the main reason why drow women are willing to get pregnant at all, considering the selfish power-hungry bitches they generally are.

Eberron has a drow sub-race called the Umbragen, who possess strange, mystical powers connecting to the darkness. Mechanically, this is represented by replacing their spell saving throw bonus with a + 2 racial bonus to Hide & Move Silently checks, swapping their weapon proficiencies for longbow, shortbow, longsword & rapier, and making their Favored Class into warlock, plus a racial-restricted set of variant abilities for soulknife and a bevy of racial feats. All of this appears in Dragon Magazine #330.

4th edition[edit]

The 4E Monster Manual had some explicit monsters-as-races in the back, and the Drow were one of them, although they got an identical repost in the 4e Forgotten Realms Player's Guide alongside the Genasi -- fittingly, since FR basically created the idea of Drow PCs.

For Drow, +2 Dex and +2 Cha or +2 Wis, Darkvision, +2 Intimidate, +2 Stealth, Fey Origin, Trance, and one racial encounter power (Llothtouched) that could be used as a minor action for one of two effects that last until the drow's next turn: a close-burst-1 darkness spell the drow can see through, or a faerie-fire spell that gives combat advantage against the target.

Drow had a couple of Dragon Magazine articles available to them. Issue #367 featured the article "Children of Darkness", a setting-neutral (in that it was equally applicable to both the Nentir Vale and the Forgotten Realms) guide to drow with new racial feats, a racial Paragon Path (the Curseborn) and a racial Epic Destiny (the Redeemed Drow). Ironically, it brought back the idea of drow having greater racial magic without touching upon the old mechanics; a paragon level racial feat called Highborn Drow gave the drow a third effect to their Lolthtouched racial power; Webs of Darkness creates blinding webbing of solidified shadow that ensnare all enemies in a close blast 3. This was then followed by issue #413, which abounded in new racial themes for drow; the Bregan D'Aerthe Mercenary, the Elderboy, the Melee-Magthere Champion, the Sorcere Adept, the House Priestess, the Widow of Arach-Tinilith, the Ooze Master, the Secret Apostate, and the Skulker of Vhaeraun.

5th edition[edit]

Drow are finally an outright core PC racial option in the Player's Handbook, as an elven subrace. The usual elf advantages, along with +1 Cha, 120' darkvision, automatic knowing some spells: the 'dancing lights' cantrip at 1st, the 'faerie fire' 1/day at 3rd level, and 'darkness' 1/day at 5th level. Automatic weapon proficiencies are hand-crossbows, rapiers and shortswords. They are also the only core race to receive an explicit penalty in the core book: if the drow or the drow's target are in direct sunlight, the drow has disadvantage on attack rolls and perception rolls. It's not as crippling as it sounds in practice, but it is annoying as hell. Better hope you fight indoors a lot, and/or play them in an adventure designed around spelunking or limited sun exposure, like Out of the Abyss or Curse of Strahd.

Xanathar's Guide gave them a boost with a new racial feat; Drow High Magic. Reflecting the "noble drow" spell-like abilities of AD&D, this feat grants a drow the ability to cast Detect Magic at will and both Levitate and Dispel Magic once per long rest without a spell slot.

Pathfinder[edit]

Pathfinder ditches the Lolth aspect and instead makes Drow aligned to assorted Demon Princes instead. They got playable templates for the first time in their Bestiary entry, and updated versions thereof in the Advanced Races Guide. Pathfinder goes back to really, really freaking old Drow lore by stating that there's two kinds of Drow; normal Drow, and Noble Drow, who're even tougher and nastier, with a lot more magical powers. These were handled as separate races in the Bestiary, but ARG instead changed it to a Drow race with a bunch of racial feats to simulate Noble Drow abilities, which is arguably more balanced.

Fluff-wise, they're tied into the weird sf-bent of the Golarion setting, being the descendants of elves who refused to flee the planet in the face of a catastrophe, and turned to demon worship to survive. First-generation drow are actually the result of elves who've broken really bad physically and psychologically transforming into dark elves. Natural-born drow aren't actually innately evil, but their culture, which engages in the traditional practices of slavery, human sacrifice, etc., with the lovely addition of fleshcrafting, is so hideously corrupt that almost all of them end up bad anyway. They aren't matriarchal like classic drow either. Just assholes. Their driders are... well, see that page.

Drow[edit]

  • Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Dex, +2 Cha, -2 Con
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: 30 feet
  • Darkvision 120 feet
  • Drow Immunities: Drow are immune to Magic Sleep Effects and get a +2 racial bonus to saves vs. Enchantments.
  • Keen Senses: +2 Racial Bonus on Perception checks.
  • Spell Resistance: 6 + class level
  • Spell-Like Abilities: Dancing Lights, Darkness and Faerie Fire, each 1/day.
  • Light Blindness: Abrupt exposure to bright light blinds a drow for 1 minute and leaves them dazzled on all subsequent rounds until they get out of the light.
  • Poison Use: Drow don't risk poisoning themselves when they apply poison to weapons, etc.
  • Weapon Familiarity: Free proficiency in Hand Crossbow, Rapier and Shortsword.

Noble Drow[edit]

  • Ability Score Modifiers: +4 Dex, +2 Int, +2 Wis, +2 Cha, -2 Con
  • Size: Medium
  • Speed: 30 feet
  • Darkvision 120 feet
  • Drow Immunities: Drow are immune to Magic Sleep Effects and get a +2 racial bonus to saves vs. Enchantments.
  • Keen Senses: +2 Racial Bonus on Perception checks.
  • Spell Resistance: 11 + character level
  • Spell-Like Abilities:
    • Constant: Detect Magic
    • At-Will: Dancing Lights, Deeper Darkness, Faerie Fire, Feather Fall, Levitate
    • 1/Day: Divine Favor, Dispel Magic, Suggestion
  • Light Blindness: Abrupt exposure to bright light blinds a drow for 1 minute and leaves them dazzled on all subsequent rounds until they get out of the light.
  • Poison Use: Drow don't risk poisoning themselves when they apply poison to weapons, etc.
  • Weapon Familiarity: Free proficiency in Hand Crossbow, Rapier and Shortsword.
The Races of Pathfinder
Player's Handbook: Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human
Advanced
Race Guide:
Aasimar - Catfolk - Changeling - Dhampir - Duergar
Drow - Fetchling - Gillman - Goblin - Grippli - Hobgoblin
Ifrit - Kitsune - Kobold - Merfolk - Nagaji - Orc - Oread
Ratfolk - Samsaran - Strix - Suli - Svirfneblin - Sylph
Tengu - Tiefling - Undine - Vanara - Vishkanya - Wayang
Bestiaries: Android - Astomoi - Caligni - Deep One Hybrid - Gathlain
Gnoll - Kasatha - Munavri - Naiad - Orang-Pendak
Reptoid - Rougarou - Shabti - Trox - Yaddithian
Adventure Paths: Being of Ib - Kuru
Inner Sea Races: Ghoran - Monkey Goblin - Lashunta - Skinwalker
Syrinx - Triaxian - Wyrwood - Wyvaran
Ultimate Wilderness: Vine Leshy
Blood of the Sea: Adaro - Cecaelia - Grindylow - Locathah - Sahuagin - Triton
Planar Adventures: Aphorite - Duskwalker - Ganzi
Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Races
Player's Handbook 1: Dragonborn - Dwarf - Eladrin - Elf
Half-Elf - Halfling - Human - Tiefling
Player's Handbook 2: Deva - Gnome - Goliath - Half-Orc - Shifter
Player's Handbook 3: Githzerai - Minotaur - Shardmind - Wilden
Monster Manual 1: Bugbear - Doppelganger - Githyanki
Goblin - Hobgoblin - Kobold - Orc
Monster Manual 2: Bullywug - Duergar - Kenku
Dragon Magazine: Gnoll - Shadar-kai
Heroes of Shadow: Revenant - Shade - Vryloka
Heroes of the Feywild Hamadryad - Pixie - Satyr
Eberron's Player's Guide: Changeling - Kalashtar - Warforged
The Manual of the Planes: Bladeling
Dark Sun Campaign Setting: Mul - Thri-kreen
Forgotten Realms Player's Guide: Drow - Genasi
Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition Races
Player's Handbook: Dragonborn - Drow - Dwarf - Elf - Gnome
Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human - Tiefling
Dungeon Master's Guide: Aasimar - Eladrin
Elemental Evil Player's Guide: Aarakocra - Genasi - Goliath - Svirfneblin
Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide: Duergar - Ghostwise Halfling - Svirfneblin - Tiefling Variants
Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes: Baatific Tieflings - Duergar - Eladrin - Githyanki
Githzerai - Sea Elf - Shadar-kai - Svirfneblin
Volo's Guide to Monsters: Aasimar - Bugbear - Firbolg - Goblin - Goliath - Hobgoblin - Kenku
Kobold - Lizardfolk - Orc - Tabaxi - Triton - Yuan-Ti Pureblood
Eberron: Rising from the Last War: Bugbear - Changeling - Goblin - Hobgoblin - Shifter - Warforged
Guildmaster's Guide to Ravnica: Centaur - Elf - Goblin - Human
Loxodon - Minotaur - Simic Hybrid - Vedalken
Mythic Odysseys of Theros: Human - Centaur - Leonin - Minotaur - Satyr - Triton
Unearthed Arcana: Minotaur - Revenant
Plane Shift: Amonkhet: Aven - Khenra - Minotaur - Naga
Plane Shift: Innistrad: Human
Plane Shift: Ixalan: Goblin - Human - Merfolk - Orc - Siren - Vampire
Plane Shift: Kaladesh: Aetherborn - Dwarf - Elf - Human - Vedalken
Plane Shift: Zendikar: Elf - Goblin - Human - Kor - Merfolk - Vampire
One Grung Above: Grung

Starfinder[edit]

Drow SF 2.png
Drow SF 1.png

With Alien Archive 1, the Drow are back. While they're still socially divided into normals and nobles, the stat difference is gone. They're still assholes, they're still into slavery and puppy-kicking cruelty, but now they've diversified into the wholesome and socially conscious industry of interstellar arms trafficking. Drow society is matriarchal again, although gunrunning males form something of a nouveau riche.

Drow[edit]

  • Ability Score Modifiers: +2 Dex, +2 Cha, -2 Con
  • Size and Type: Medium humanoid with elf subtype
  • Darkvision 60 feet
  • Drow Immunities: Drow are immune to Magic Sleep Effects and get a +2 racial bonus to saves vs. Enchantment spells and effects.
  • Keen Senses: +2 Racial Bonus on Perception checks.
  • Light Blindness: A drow exposed to bright light is blinded for 1 round and dazzled as long as they remain in areas of bright light.
  • Drow Magic: Dancing Lights, Detect Magic; In addition drow count as having the Minor Psychic Power feat for the purpose of meeting prerequisites, and if a drow takes the Psychic Power feat, they can add the drow's limning light supernatural ability to the list of spell-like abilities they have available.
The Races of Starfinder
Core Races: Android - Human - Kasatha - Lashunta - Shirren - Vesk - Ysoki
Legacy Races: Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling
Expanded Races: Aasimar - Amrantah - Anassanoi - Astrazoan - Bantrid - Barathu - Bolida - Borai - Brakim - Brenneri
Cephalume - Contemplative - Copaxi - Damai - Dessamar - Dirindi - Draelik - Dragonkin - Dromada
Drow - Elebrian - Embri - Endiffian - Espraksa - Ferran - Formian - Ghibrani - Ghoran - Goblin - Gosclaw
Gray - Haan - Hanakan - Hobgoblin - Hortus - Ifrit - Ijtikri - Ikeshti - Ilthisarian - Izalguun - Kalo - Kanabo
Kayal - Khizar - Kiirinta - Kish - Maraquoi - Morlamaw - Neskinti - Nuar - Orc - Oread - Osharu - Pahtra
Phentomite - Quorlu - Ramiyel - Raxilite - Reptoid - Ryphorian - Sarcesian - Sazaron - Screedreep
Scyphozoan - Selamid - Seprevoi - Shakalta - Shatori - Shimreen - Shobhad - Skittermander - Spathinae
SRO - Stellifera - Strix - Suli - Svartalfar - Sylph - Telia - Tiefling - Trinir - Trox - Undine - Uplifted Bear
Urog - Varculak - Verthani - Vilderaro - Vlaka - Witchwyrd - Woioko - Wrikreechee

Eberron[edit]

Drow in Eberron have unique fluff. Like all elves, drow were formerly slaves to Xen'drik's Giant Empire, but they remained when the now light skinned elves having split and left their native land of Xen'drik for Aerenal 38,000 years ago. By culture they are the original and "normal" elves are the offshoot. Most of them live in the jungle or ruins of giant civilization on Xen'drik instead of underground, they speak Giant instead of Undercommon, and they aren't associated with spiders, with the largest group of drow preferring Scorpions instead.

There are a handful of known types of drow, with each tribe being of one of these types, but the published material explicitly states more exist beyond the known areas. The Qualtiar are nomadic tribes that love scorpions. The Sulatar are giant loyalist who have really ancient magic and are obsessed with fire. The Hantar'kul or "Blood Hunters" believe they are destined to rule Xen'drik and seek to remove the foreigners, who they see as the biggest obstacle to their rule. The Umbragen avoided the dragon by settling underground and selling their soul to a dark power known as "Umbra". The Umbragen are fighting, and losing, a battle with a daelkyr lord's army and seek weapons to aid in that fight, as they are too prideful to ask for help.

While the campaign setting says "sahuagin and drow are not ideal races for player characters", they actually make more sense than most campaign settings. In Eberron, most drow aren't crazy religious cultists and come into conflict with heroes because they are simply territorial people that believe that, as they were servants of the giant empire when it fell, the remains of giant civilization belong to them and all the "archaeologists" from the north are robbers. Typical NPC Drow are still typically evil though. City of Stormreach states that "a few drow exiles have found their way to the city, and others have chosen to abandon their old ways and settle among humanity", "drow who don’t subscribe to their race’s ruthless ways come to the city to escape the cruel life of the wilds" and that Drow often come to the city to trade. This seems to have been a fairly decent number, as the demographics of Stormreach state Drow, Goblinoids, Giants and other monsters combine to make 5% of the 11,650 population, so there are hundreds of Drow that aren't actively hostile to humanity. Further Secrets of Xen'drik explicitly states that Drow tribes beyond the known ones are likely out there past the "charted" parts of the continent, so there may be non-hostile tribes of drow out there.

Exandria[edit]

Like in many other settings, the drow of Exandria delved into the Underdark at the command of the goddess Lolth. Unfortunately for these dark elves, though, the Underdark of Exandria is apparently quite a bit more dangerous. The types of civilizations the drow might live in beneath the surface of other settings seem to be constantly beset by abberations and other monsters to a overwhelming degree. As a result, Lolth is actually becoming increasingly unpopular with the drow race, who turn to alternative gods. Most prominently is an entity called the Luxon worshiped by the people of the Kryn Dynasty of the continent of Wildemount. Because the Luxon reincarnates those who die into newborns within a certain range regardless of the baby's race, it's led to a situation where a goblin could have been a drow noble in a past life, or vice versa. Though some drow still remain loyal to the Spider Queen, things have gotten so dire for Lolth that most of her faithful in Wildemount are goblinoids, with the drow head matron mother in the continent of Wildemount reduced to hiding out in a goblinoid fortress.

Half-Drow[edit]

You may be curious; given that the drow are still elves, even if they are evil slave-taking bastards, can they interbreed with humans too? Well, ironically, D&D never really gave that angle much attention - even though Gygax probably would have agreed if you'd pointed it out that half-drow would make far more believable PC options than pure-blooded drow, being neither as overpowered as old-school drow were nor able to advance in the drow's twisted society and thus less likely to drink the kool-aid & be evil themselves. So, for the most part, half-drow have been ignored throughout D&D's history.

The very first mention of the idea was as "half-casts" (sic) in D3 for AD&D 1e; leaving unspoken if these be drow/human or - more likely just from the dating-pool - drow/elf, or even drow/bugbear. The half-drow are subsequently expanded in that edition's Unearthed Arcana. They're (human) half-elves, but with the drow's sunlight vulnerability trait slapped on top (in short, whilst exposed to sunlight, you suffer -2 dexterity and a -2 penalty on your to-hit rolls, and your foes get a +2 bonus to their saving throws against your attacks - this decreases to a -1 to hit penalty and a +1 save bonus if you're in shadow but your victim is in direct sunlight). Not exactly the kind of thing to make people interested.

The half-drow seemed destined to be forgotten... and then came Ed Greenwood, who, amongst his many other "inspirations" from his belief in the Free Love movements of the 60s that he slipped into the Forgotten Realms, found the drow to particularly tickle his fancy. So, after coming up with things like Eilistraee, naturally, he needed a place to put in half-drow. Enter Dambrath, a region in the "Shining South" that he decided to make ruled over by the Cintri; a race of half-drow descended from the ancient drow conquest of Dambrath under the reign of a particularly foolish human king... well, alright, technically, the Cintri are a melting pot of half-drow and half-elf bloodlines, since they descend as much from the half-elf clerics of Loviatar who helped the drow conquer the place - after all, Loviatar is basically the Realm's goddess of evil BDSM and femdom, so she's got that in common with Lolth, to the point that Lolth even lets Loviatar's faith be the state religion of Dambrath - but they're still mixed human and drow bloodlines, so it counts. So yes, basically a Magical Realm of femdom fantasies where any male might be a slave to a drow on the surface and still roleplay. Later editions had the humans rise up and slaughter the domineering knife ear bitches because let's face it, even to a submissive hornyposter a realistic medieval stasis setting slavery would not be a pleasant one unless he is a beautiful hunk a.k.a Reality Ensues.

Ironically, despite the Cintri, no 2e version of the half-drow statblock ever debuted, not even in the Shining South splatbook that introduced Dambrath to the Realms' fanbase. But it did mean that half-drow made it into 3rd edition in a Forgotten Realms splatbook - Races of Faerun, to be precise. Of course, like their 1e counterparts, they were not particularly well-differentiated mechanically from their half-elf roots; a 3e half-drow is, officially, a half-elf with Darkvision 60 feet and replacing Elf Blood with Drow Blood, so they're treated as Drow for race-targeting stuff instead of Elf.

Eberron, likewise, states half-drow exist, typically results of trysts in Stormreach, but doesn't actually do anything with them or give them stats. The implication is that Half-Drow exist but are exceptionally rare and with the drow population that interacts peacefully with humans being the mere hundreds their rarity likely is exceptional. Still, Eberron works on the idea that player characters are supposed to be exceptional in general, and playing one isn't off limits.

A more mechanically invested version of the 3e half-drow didn't come to be until towards the end of the edition's lifespan, when the 3e version of the splatbook "Drow of the Underdark". It states "Half-drow have the standard racial traits of half-elves given in the Player’s Handbook, except that their favored class is the class in which they have the most levels. In addition, rather than elf blood, they have drow blood. Since drow is a subrace of elf, the net effect is that they have elf blood as well. The specification of drow blood means that for all special abilities and effects particular to a drow, a half-drow is considered a drow."

Additionally, both properly half-Drow characters AND half-elf characters with only a little bit of Drow heritage, like the Drow equivalent of a Tiefling or Aasimar, could take the following feat during character-creation:

DROW LEGACY
The drow blood in your veins runs true and grants you some abilities from that heritage.
Prerequisite: Half-elf with drow ancestry.
Benefit: You have a +2 racial bonus on Will saves against spells and spell-like abilities. You have darkvision out to 60 feet. You receive Exotic Weapon Proficiency (hand crossbow), as well as, Undercommon and the drow dialect of Elven as automatic languages.
If you have an Intelligence score of 13 or higher, you also gain the following spell-like abilities, each usable once per day: dancing lights, darkness, and faerie fire. Your caster level equals your class level.
Special: Taking this feat also causes you to have light sensitivity: You are dazzled (–1 circumstance penalty on attack rolls, saves, and checks) in bright sunlight or within the radius of a daylight spell.

In Pathfinder, half-drow are represented by alternate racial traits for stock half-elves. Half-Elves can trade their superior multiclassing ability for darkvision, which is strictly better if that character isn't multiclassing anyways, or low-light vision for darkvision and light blindness. They can trade their bonus feat and multiclassing bonuses for dancing lights, darkness, and faerie fire as spell like abilities, which absolutely isn't worth it. Finally they can trade their bonus feat for proficiency in hand crossbow, rapier, and shortsword, which also isn't worth it since anyone who would bother with those weapons is already proficient with those weapons or is playing half-elf in the first place to get the bonus feat.

Perhaps the best the poor half-drow have ever had it has been in 5th edition, where a half-elf can trade their two free skill proficiencies for the drow's racial spell-like abilities; it's not much, but at least it's something to represent drow ancestry, and it's decently beefy compared to the AD&D and Races of Faerun depictions. Once again, it was a Forgotten Realms sourcebook that brought them out of the darkness - the Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide.

Drow-elf crossbreeds are given the briefest of mentions in the original Vault of the Drow as part of an encounter with "rakes" (think outcast punks) in the (under)city Erelhei-Cinlu. They have never been statted in any form, but are probably close enough to half-drow to use that template. Still, there's possibilities here for a creative DM.

See also[edit]

Dark Elves exist in Ptolus as NPC characters. They worship a Galchutt named Gorgoth-Lol, which means "totez not Lolth LOL" in the elvish tongue.

  • Viconia de'Vir - A cleric of Shar in the Baldur's Gate games, and a good example of a "PC-friendly" drow who isn't a chaotic good Drizzt clone. Also Bioware's first "sexy, mildly-evil-but-mostly-misunderstood lady love interest" character, setting the template for all those that followed. (Looking at you, Bastila, Morrigan, Isabela, Jack...) Had an incredibly complex, tragic and deep story in the sequel involving brotherly love and sacrifice. Her template may have set off a series of dominoes resulting in the next entry...
  • Drowtales: When an admittedly-skilled bunch of artists with the mental maturity of a blighted potato make a webcomic series financed by sponsor-avatar insertion, porn requests, and (the worst) plot dictation, and slather copious amounts of Skub onto it. Said artists also have an axe against humanity/BDSM lesbian fetish to grind. Mostly the latter.
  • Unified Setting/Drow - Arctic merchant vikings who ride giant lobsters, but still have black skin and white hair.
  • Sandwich Stoutaxe: 1d4chan's take on the heroic Drow, she was abandoned by her family and raised by a Dwarf. So named because said dwarf found her in a basket that he thought was full of sandwiches.

Official Art Gallery[edit]

Fanart[edit]

Monstergirls[edit]

LamiaMonstergirl.pngThis article or section is about Monstergirls (or a monster that is frequently depicted as a Monstergirl), something that /tg/ widely considers to be the purest form of awesome. Expect PROMOTIONS! and /d/elight in equal measure, often with drawfaggotry or writefaggotry to match.
The Dark Elf maiden is an alluring creature, if in a different way to her light-skinned cousin.

Given that female elves are practically canon monstergirls in Dungeons & Dragons to begin with (where do you think Half-Elves come from? Human women pouncing on cute elven men? Pah!), and that the drow are both female led and have a long tradition of cheesecake/pin-up tier femdom-heavy artwork for their females - there's a reason drow are often mocked on nu-/tg/ as a culture made up of cheesy BDSM pin-up art - it should be no surprise that drow feature in works of erotica just as frequently as their surface cousins. Indeed, the talk of D&D sessions everywhere must have had since the late 90's, inevitably, sexualized Drow raids owing to Greenwood's Magical Realm. Often called "Dark Elves", their skin tone ranges from the actual drow onyx/blue/purple to more dusky brown colors, which leads to the nickname "chocolate elves" being used for erotic female drow characters.

Given the heavy BDSM themes in actual drow society, it should be no surprise that drow monstergirls are usually portrayed as dominatrixes in the same way. Asian hentai artists, however, like to subvert the idea by portraying them as submissives instead of dominatrixes; chocolate elf slaves and maids are as old as Elf slave, wat do? threads. Might have something to do with dark skin being considered inferior in Asian cultures.

In the Monster Girl Encyclopedia, the Dark Elves have willingly embraced succubusization, unlike their Light Elf kindred. This has turned them into a perverse culture of dominatrixes, who take human men as their sexual slaves. They were some of the setting's earliest skub when it was confirmed that they actually do practice incest, with young dark elves being taught the arts of sexual dominance, bondage and sado-masochism by using their fathers as their subs, yeesh.

MonsterGirl Gallery[edit]