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Dark Elves (Drow)

woman, the witch, dragon-4683236.jpg, Drow, Dark Elves

Dark Elves – The infamous drow are the anathema of all that elves hold dear. Thoroughly evil and ruthless, the drow renounced the light and sank into the belly of the world. Some say this was a punishment from the elven deities, others speak of a slow descent into corruption. What all other elves agree with is that their fallen brethren are irredeemable and must be destroyed.

The Quintessential Elf

Author Alejandro Melchor
Publisher Mongoose Publishing
Publish date 2002


Drow society is brutal and merciless. A strong matriarchal theocracy rules all drow settlements with an iron fist. Most of the time, advancement in drow society involves the death of one of a higher status to be replaced by another, who may or may not be the cause of the demise. Priestesses expect their orders to be followed to the letter and seldom tolerate failure, much less incompetence.

Drow elves believe in might and the Survival of the strongest, always looking for ways to upstage and outmanoeuvre each other. Social Darwinism is the rule to which the drow adhere, both within their culture as well as outside.

Females are both stronger and smarter than males, and hold power with an unshakeable grip. Drow women occupy all religious and governmental positions of importance, leaving men the menial tasks in those areas, as well as the role of warriors’ mostly as cannon fodder.

Males take to the study of arcane wizardry in the hope that it will give them a modicum of power, and many drow wizards do Climb the social ladder, although never to the heights a female can achieve. Children are brutally indoctrinated in drow ideals, their souls twisted and forged by constant abuse and peer pressure. The old must prove they deserve to live, growing crafty and astute to avoid being ousted by the young and ambitious. Not many drow in positions of authority die of old age.

Player Character Information

Drow characters have the following characteristics:

Personality: There is a cold iron core of bitterness in most dark elves. They resent their exile into the depths of the earth, resent their superiors for the power they wield and their subordinates for the threat they are to their own. Hatred is one of the most common emotions a dark elf is likely to feel, tempered into a white-hot fire of cunning, or a flaming crimson rage. They take their pleasure out of others’ pain, for it lessens the torment of their own existence. There are some dark elves who rebel against this, trying to return to the path of good, but the prejudice of the surface inhabitants will soon crush such hope and spirit into the bitterness of the rest of the race.

Physical Description: Dark elves are smaller and thinner than high elves, standing from 4 to 5 ½ feet tall and weighing from 70 to 160 pounds, with females being taller and more strongly built than males. Their skin is jet black and their hair is a pale white or blue. Their eyes burn in different shades of red, but it takes a drow to tell deep crimson from blood-like. They dress in black and other dark hues, mostly because their Darkvision cannot distinguish colour in the darkness they inhabit. Elaborate designs of silver filigree adorn clothes and armour, with some purple or dark red sashes, cloaks and robes completing the image. The effect is unsettling. A drow is considered an adult when reaching 80 years of age, and may live just under 600 years.

Like all elves, drow do not sleep, but fall into a trance. Their meditation is vastly different from that of other elves, for theirs is a mantra of strength and revenge, festering old hatreds instead of rethinking their lives.

Relations: Dark elves are the enemies of all that lives above ground, and of many of those who share their cavern complexes. Any race they cannot enslave, they seek to destroy. Only a show of greater or equal strength will make drow think about bargaining. The dark elves return the hatred of their surface brethren a thousand – fold, going out of their way to cause the most damage to elven interests. Their reactions to other elves are visceral and always violent. A rumour speaks of the mist elves being an exception as they are both subterranean races of sort, and the daoine consort with things of primal darkness on a regular basis. Mist elves neither confirm nor deny these claims.

Alignment: Drow live under a repressive doctrine and are always buckling and shifting beneath it, trying to get as much advantage they can, standing neutral between the rule of law and anarchy. They believe in the rule of the strong, and they have no regard for the welfare of those weaker than themselves, learning to be evil since the cradle.

Drow Lands: The dark elves make their home in caverns deep underground, where no light can possibly reach. They build their cities by twisting the rock with their magic, and feed from strange subterranean flora and fauna. Their borders are tightly watched and always trying to expand. Drow found above ground or away from their home caverns are either spies and saboteurs, or renegades fleeing for their lives.

Religion: Drow worship a dark spider goddess that makes her home in the Abyss. The priesthood enforces her mandates ruthlessly, looking to ensnare all that exists in her demonic webs. Spider imagery is common throughout architecture and clothing, and most of the goddess’s followers are zealous fanatics.

Language: Drow language is a corrupt dialect of Elvish, with many guttural and hissing sounds. Prayers to the spider goddess are a terrifying cacophony, and the sound of the language in a battle cry is enough to send shivers through any of their enemies. They use a ragged form of Elvish script, with many short and angular strokes instead of the flowing letters of the normal Elvish alphabet.

Adventurers: When a dark elf sets out alone, it is because she wishes to test her strength or is under orders from her superiors to achieve a certain goal. Males look upon adventuring as a chance to gain a measure of respect in their matriarchal society, or as their only opportunity to stretch their legs and abuse other creatures as he suffers under the females’ rule. Rare drow from both genders get tired of the evil in which they live and choose exile in search of a better way to live, or even to redeem themselves for their brethren’s sins.

Racial Traits

Dark elves have the same traits as high elves with the following differences.

  • +2 Dexterity, -2 Constitution, +2 Intelligence. Females also have +2 Charisma, while males have -2 Charisma.
  • +2 racial bonus to Will saves against spells and spell-like abilities.
  • Spell Resistance 11 + character level.
  • Light Blindness (Ex): Abrupt exposure to bright light (such as sunlight or a daylight spell) blinds drow for 1 round. In addition, they suffer a -1 circumstance penalty to all attack rolls, saves, and checks while operating in bright light.
  • Darkvision: Drow can see in the dark up to 120 feet. Darkvision is black and white only, but it is otherwise like normal sight, and dark elves can function just fine with no light at all.
  • Spell-Like Abilities: 1/day-dancing lights, darkness, and faerie fire. These abilities are as the spells cast by a sorcerer of the drow’s character level.
  • Automatic Languages: Undercommon and Elven.
  • Bonus Languages: Common, Draconic, Dwarven, Gnome, Goblin, Orc and Sylvan.
  • Favoured Class: Female drow favour the cleric class and have access to two of the following domains: Chaos, Destruction, Evil, and Trickery. Males favour the wizard class.
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