Descended from the original dark-skinned elven subrace called the Illythiiri, the drow were cursed into their present appearance by the good elven deities for following the goddess 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 very pale eyes (so pale as to be often mistaken for white) in shades of pale lilac, silver, pink, and blue. They also tend to be smaller and thinner than most elves. Most drow on the surface are evil and worship Vhaeraun, but some outcasts and renegades have a more neutral attitude.
Feared and reviled throughout the Lands Above, the drow (or dark elves) are perhaps the most numerous, powerful, and wide-spread of the Underdark's native peoples. The majority of the dark elves live in city-states ruled by various noble Houses. Each House commands its own small army of fearless drow soldiers, cunning wizards, and zealous priestesses, as well as large contingents of slave soldiers, such as bugbears, ogres, and minotaurs. In fact, half to two-thirds of any drow city's population consists of humanoid slaves and rabble, all of whom are subject to the cruelty and whims of any passing dark elf.
Dark elf city-states lie below dozens of surface realms, often unbeknownst to the upperworlders who live above them. The rulers of some drow cities prefer to leave the surface races alone and turn their attention toward gaining power through the endless scheming and feuding of the noble Houses. Others, however, view the surface lands as theirs to pillage and plunder whenever they choose.
Personality: Most drow are cruel, arrogant, and hedonistic. Their eternal game of advancement at the expense of others, which is encouraged by the spider goddess herself, has transformed the dark elves into a race of scheming backstabbers eager to increase their own stations by pulling down those ahead of them and crushing their inferiors underfoot. Drow trust no one and nothing, and most are incapable of compassion, kindness, or love. Many dark elves are actively murderous and delight in the giving of pain.
While dark elves neither honor their promises nor maintain personal loyalties once it becomes inconvenient to do so, their pride lends them a certain sense of style end an appreciation of subtlety. Drow can be courteous and urbane, even to deadly rivals. They enjoy surrounding themselves with things of beauty, giving hardly a thought to the cost. Any drow city features breathtaking architecture and elegant revels marked by dark and delicious entertainments, but only a fool would lower his guard in such an environment.
Physical Description: The skin of a drow can be any shade from dark gray to polished obsidian. His hair can be pale yellow, silver, or white, and his eyes can be almost any color, including blood red.
Drow are short and slender compared to other Faerûnian elves, but they are strong for their size. Most dark elves - especially nobles - are strikingly handsome individuals; Lolth does not favor meek, plain, or unassuming worshipers.
Relations: Drow regard all other races as inferior. Some they view as potential slaves, others as deadly vermin to be exterminated. None, however, are considered truly equal to the dark elves. Drow maintain a grudging respect for duergar and mind flayers, since the gray dwarves and illithids also build powerful cities and have demonstrated the strength to stand up to repeated assaults from the dark elves. Though they despise humans and all other surface folk as weak creatures, the drow save their true venom for surface elves, particularly sun and moon elves. The dark elves hate their kinfolk with a blind passion and seize any chance to strike at their ancient enemies.
Alignment: The great majority of drow are evil through and through, and most tend toward the chaotic end of the lawful-chaotic spectrum. In general, drow believe in doing what they want to do, when they want to do it. Dark elves who turn to good are few and far between, but such can become powerful champions against tyranny and cruelty.
Religion: Most drow cities are dominated by priestesses of Lolth, the Spider Queen. As the special patron and protector of the dark elves, Lolth demands abject obedience and unflinching ruthlessness from her followers. But for several months now, Lolth has refused to grant any spells to her clerics and has not answered their prayers, creating a great deal of chaos and consternation within the drow cities.
Drow who have turned away from the Spider Queen are rare, but they do exist. Good-aligned drow often worship Eilistraee, the Dancing Maiden. Evil drow who choose not to subject themselves to Lolth's tyranny may worship one of the other deities of the drow pantheon, such as Vhaeraun or Ghaunadaur.
Languages: Drow speak Undercommon and a dialect of Elven that features many words and constructions borrowed from the languages of their Underdark neighbors. They also have a unique sign language (Drow Sign) that permits silent communication at a range of up to 120 feet. Drow Sign is not an automatic language for drow; a dark elf character must learn it either by designating it as one of his bonus languages or by acquiring it normally via the Speak Language skill.
Names: Drow names often feature double letters and are usually rather pleasing to the ear. Male: Belgos, Bhintel, Elkantar, Houndaer, Kelnozz, Malaggar, Ryltar, Szordrin, Vorn. Female: Alauniira, Charinida, Drisirril, Faeryl, Ilivarra, Irae, Myrymma, Pellanistra, Xune, Zarra. Surnames: Dhuunyl, Filifar, Lhalabar, Pharn, Tlin'orzza, Xarann, Yvarragh.
Adventurers: The vicissitudes of House fortunes make adventuring an attractive profession for many drow. Some drow adventurers forswear their race's cruel ways and seek to do good in the world. Others remain evil, using adventuring as a means of accumulating the power and magic necessary to avenge themselves upon the rivals who brought them low.
Regions: Drow most often choose the drow elf region.
Drow Racial Traits
- +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution, +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma. These adjustments replace the high elf ability score modifiers.
- Medium size. Drow have no bonuses or penalties due to their size.
- A drow's base land speed is 30 feet.
- Immunities (Ex): A drow is immune to magic sleep spells and effects.
- Racial Bonuses: A drow has a +2 racial bonus on saves against enchantment spells and effects, a +2 racial bonus on Will saves against spells and spell-like abilities, and a +2 racial bonus on Listen, Search, and Spot checks: A drow who merely passes within 5 feet of a secret or concealed door is entitled to a Search check to notice it as if he were actively looking for the door.
- Darkvision: A drow has darkvision out to 120 feet.
- Spell Resistance: A drow has spell resistance equal to 11 + class level.
- Spell-Like Abilities: A drow with an Intelligence score of 13 or higher can use the following spell-like abilities. 1/day - dancing lights, darkness, faerie fire. Caster level equals drow's class level.
- Light Blindness (Ex): Abrupt exposure to bright light (such as sunlight or a daylight spell) blinds drow for 1 round. In subsequent rounds, the drow are dazzled as long as they remain in the affected area.
- Weapon Proficiency: A drow receives Martial Weapon Proficiency (rapier), Martial Weapon Proficiency (short sword), and Exotic Weapon Proficiency (hand crossbow) as bonus feats.
- Automatic Languages: Common, Elven (drow dialect), and Undercommon. Bonus Languages: Abyssal, Aquan, Draconic, Drow Sign Language, Gnome, Goblin, and Kuo-Toan.
- Favored Class: Cleric (female) or wizard (male).
- Level Adjustment: +2.
War of the Spider Queen
In R.A. Salvatore's War of the Spider Queen novel series, the drow are beset by an awful crisis: Lolth; the Demon Queen of Spiders, falls utterly silent. Clerics of Lolth across all of Faerûn stop receiving spells. For a time, the priestesses conceal their weakness, but eventually the secret becomes plain for all to see, and the repercussions of Lolth's silence shake the very foundations of drow society.
At the time of the publication of Underdark, the War of the Spider Queen is not yet complete. Lolth's absence continues, and none of her clerics retain their spellcasting ability. If you wish to feature these events in your game, you should refer to the adventure City of the Spider Queen, published in November 2002.
Underdark presumes that Lolth is still silent, generating the expected chaos and trouble for drow everywhere. If you would prefer not to incorporate these events into your campaign you can rule that Lolth's silence has ended and that the drow clerics have regained their spell ability.
- Flesh For Lolth - The Secret Life of Dark Elves
- The Punishments of Lolth
- Sinister Tools
- The Drow: Tips for the DM