Drow

Drow, also called dark elves or myrk'alfen in elvish,[19] are a subrace of elves whose history since the late Age of Arcanum has been heavily influenced by Lolth, the Spider Queen and, in one major society, the Luxon.

Appearance[edit | edit source]

Drow skin tones cover a spectrum from light violet[7] to a gray blue-purple[6] to gray-blue[5] to dark blue.[20] Similarly, their eyes are generally a shade of blue or violet,[15][16][17] but can also be a pale silver.[14] Their hair is usually white or platinum, though it can taper into a purple or violet color,[10][11] and occasionally some have red or orange hair.[13][21]

Traits and abilities[edit | edit source]

In addition to the abilities shared by all elves, drow have the following additional traits:[3]

  • Ability Score Bonus: In addition to the +2 Dexterity all elves get, drow get +1 Charisma.
  • Sunlight Sensitivity: Drow have disadvantage on attack rolls and on Perception checks that rely on sight when they or whatever they are trying to perceive/attack is in direct sunlight.
  • Superior Darkvision: Whereas other elves can see in dim light as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light, within 60 feet, drow can do the same within 120 feet.
  • Drow Weapon Training: All drow have proficiency with rapiers, shortswords, and hand crossbows.
  • Drow Magic: All drow know the dancing lights cantrip. If they reach 3rd level, they can cast faerie fire once per day. At 5th level, they can cast darkness once per day. Their spellcasting ability for these spells is Charisma.

History[edit | edit source]

Before the Divergence[edit | edit source]

Some sources claim that Lolth created the drow late in the Founding or early in the Age of Arcanum.[22] The drow were once a wise, beautiful people with silvery hair and ash-colored skin. But in the Age of Arcanum, their society became decadent and cruel, and their leaders fell under the influence of the Spider Queen;[23] centuries before the Divergence, the drow primarily worshiped her.[24]

When the Calamity began, the drow sided with Lolth against the elven god Corellon and his followers.[23] But before the drow even saw battle, Kord, the Stormlord, impaled Lolth against a cliffside with one heave of his thunderspear,[25] and the Spider Queen was banished back to the Abyss.[24] The suddenly leaderless drow were driven from the surface world and forced to rebuild their empire underground.[25]

Depiction of a drider from D&D: Monster Manual, page 120.[art 2]

Meanwhile, Lolth's thick, silvery blood pooled in the dark caverns beneath the surface of the world. In the years that followed, her most devoted drow servants discovered the blood and drank of it deeply, granting them power and gradually twisting themselves into half-spider hybrids called driders.[26]

However, the seeds had already been planted for a great many drow, whom Lolth considered her children, to escape her influence. More than a century before the Divergence, Leylas Kryn was present at the discovery of the first of several buried Luxon beacons.[27]

After the Divergence[edit | edit source]

Following the Divergence, Lolth's children could feel the lessening of their banished god's influence.[24]

Wildemount[edit | edit source]

Depiction of a Luxon beacon, by Olga Drebas.[art 3]

The drow of Xhorhas mostly abandoned their centuries-long worship of Lolth, turning instead to the Luxon, who is inscrutable to the Spider Queen. Guided by the Luxon, a group of scavenging drow led by House Kryn survived the ascent from deep within the Underdark to the then-abandoned dark city of Ghor Dranas, reclaiming it under the name Rosohna (meaning "Rebirth" in their tongue). They slowly and quietly began reaching out to the other races of the Xhorhasian wastes, attempting to unite them under the worship of the Luxon.[28]

Feeling the abrupt decline in her influence, the Spider Queen sought vengeance against those who turned their backs on her, and she began seducing and empowering even non-drow minds in Xhorhas. By 836 PD a network of Lolthite spies, assassins, and raiders called the Children of Malice had formed hidden cabals on the fringes of Xhorhasian society (including the villages of Igrathad) and infiltrated the highest echelons of the Luxon-worshipping Kryn Dynasty. The extent of the infiltration was alarming to the Dynasty faithful, who began to uncover the infiltration[29] and in turn plotted to undermine the Children of Malice.[30]

Gwessar/Tal'Dorei[edit | edit source]

The dark elves of the continent that would come to be called Tal'Dorei faced a different fate after the Divergence, as carving out a new life underground exposed them to new dangers: as Lolth's influence waned, Tharizdun began whispering to the drow nobility, and their servitors found themselves surrounded by shapechanging and mind-manipulating aberrations, causing mass paranoia. By 812 PD, the underground drow of Tal'Dorei were on the verge of collapse. Neighbors slaughtered each other in the streets. The drow elite turned increasingly authoritarian and ordered the royal guard to violently quell the mass riots. Some drow commoners, desperate to end their suffering, offered themselves over to the aberrations and were transformed into doppelgangers. Some drow nobility reacted to the chaos by devoting themselves even more utterly to Lolth, willingly seeking out the Blood of the Spider Queen to transform themselves into driders.[31]

Marquet[edit | edit source]

Drow are among the many people living in Jrusar.[32]

Society[edit | edit source]

In some of the darker drow societies, there is sometimes a blending of drow and demon blood to create a large, four-armed, sharp-toothed fiend called a draegloth.[33]

Many drow societies are characterized by endemic political scheming and infighting to win Lolth's favor,[30] but there are exceptions.

Tal'Dorei[edit | edit source]

As shambolic as the situation in Ruhn-Shak was in 812 PD, the drow of that society still posed a danger throughout the region. Countless tunnels and caverns wound throughout the Stormcrest Mountains, with hidden entrances throughout the Dreamseep Marshlands to the east and the darker regions of the Verdant Expanse to the west. The drow only came to the surface under cover of night in hunting and raiding parties that slaughter many, enslave the rest, and take the spoils as gifts to Lolth. Drow druids called Pit Witches specialize in molding earth and stone to open and collapse passages at will, making it impossible to give chase.[34]

As of that time, some drow had fled the chaos of Ruhn-Shak, but they were not tolerated in Syngorn, even if they were interested in going there. Most lived in secret in Emon, Kymal, or Westruun, and more than 150 of them made the trek all the way to Lyrengorn, where they lived among the wood elves in peace and hoped that the skyswimmers' ceremony would cleanse them of the corruption and bouts of sadistic madness that still plagued them.[35] Every dark elf in Tal'Dorei knows the dark whispers of the aberrations.[36]

Unsurprisingly, adventuring drow in Tal'Dorei tend to hold a violent hatred of aberrations, and some even turn dramatically from the darkness of Lolth to become paladins of Pelor, the Dawnfather.[37]

Wildemount[edit | edit source]

Worship of the Luxon plays a central role in Kryn Dynasty society. Though the Dynasty lays claim to the Underdark of Wildemount, Luxon worship leads large numbers of drow to live aboveground and participate in rituals that deliberately expose them to direct sunlight.[38] More importantly, their worship of the Luxon informs their belief in the importance of individual choice,[39] making them less authoritarian than Lolthite drow.

The fact that through consecution they can be reborn in non-drow bodies, which they believe brings them closer to true enlightenment, also makes them respectful of other races, including non-drow elves.[40] In contrast to Ruhn-Shak, where only a small minority of deep gnomes and other races exists, the drow of Xhorhas embrace a wide variety of other races. The Kryn Dynasty incorporates goblinkin,[41] people of orcish blood,[42] gnolls, minotaurs,[43] hill giants, ogres,[44] the odd duergar[45] and dragonborn,[46] and more. There is a fair amount of interbreeding, so that half-drow may have characteristics of minotaurs or bugbears,[47] and many half-orcs are half-drow as well.[42]

Meanwhile, the Children of Malice may be led by a drow, but they are headquartered in a hobgoblin stronghold,[30] and Lolth recruits other goblinoids, beastfolk, and various folk of the wastes for the cause.[24] Lolth's intense focus on vengeance against the Kryn drow, enforced by Head Matron Vivurk Tonn's iron fist and emphasized in rituals, unites the drow of Dumaran's warrior houses against their common enemy to an unusual degree for a drow society.[30]

Notable drow[edit | edit source]

Kryn Dynasty

  • Bright Queen Leylas Kryn: Present at the first discovery of a Luxon beacon during the Age of Arcanum, having lived eight lifetimes from that time to 835 PD. The first Umavi, and leader of the Kryn Dynasty.
  • Dusk Captain Quana Kryn: Partner of Leylas Kryn through several of their lifetimes. Extremely powerful echo knight.
  • Deirta Thelyss: Umavi and leader of Den Thelyss.
  • Taskhand Verin Thelyss: Son of Deirta and younger brother of Essek. A soldier who, as of 836 PD, was recently given command of the forces at Bazzoxan.
  • Adeen Tasithar: Former Taskhand in the court of the Bright Queen. Set up to take the fall for Essek Thelyss's theft of the Luxon beacons, tortured, and traded in prisoner exchange for Vence Nuthaleus.
  • Lady Zethriss Olios: A den mother in the Dynasty, and leader of Asarius.
  • Captain Hallwas Denalor: Maintains and runs the floating outpost of Vurmas.
  • Thuron: Echo knight who died recovering a stolen Luxon beacon, which the Mighty Nein brought back to Rosohna, making them heroes of the Kryn Dynasty.
  • Bodo Icozrin: Administrator of the Deepriver Mining Camp, which was briefly occupied by stone giants until the Mighty Nein helped those giants reclaim their home fortress.

Children of Malice

  • Head Matron Vivurk Tonn: Commands the faction's main stronghold of Dumaran
  • Zyn Daev'yana: Born in poverty, rose under Lolth's tutelage to become a respected strategist and writer in House Daev'yana, but secretly sows discord between the Dens.
  • Ereldra Icozrin: Talented harpist who turned against the Dynasty after their brother sabotaged their marriage; became a spy who spreads rumors and lies to undermine the Dens.

Other

  • Essek Thelyss: Former Shadowhand of the Kryn Dynasty. Stole two Luxon beacons from the Dynasty and gave them to co-conspirators in the Cerberus Assembly as a research arrangement, setting into motion the War of Ash and Light. Became an ally of the Mighty Nein, then research and romantic partner of Caleb Widogast; fled the Dynasty as suspicion of his past activities mounted.
  • Jourrael: Chosen of Lolth exalted by an arrangement/union between the Spider Queen and Asmodeus, immortal assassin, active until the end of the Calamity and again starting in 836 PD owing to Obann and the Mighty Nein.
  • K'ryyn: Bounty hunter who abducted Taryon Darrington from Whitestone, precipitating the Darrington family's reconciliation and the founding of the Darrington Brigade.

Trivia[edit | edit source]

Vox Machina encountered at least one drow in the pre-stream adventures. Scanlan Shorthalt had drow poison[48] from a previous adventure,[49] and Grog Strongjaw was carrying an old "dark elf brain" that had long since rotted.[50]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Player's Handbook, 5th edition, p. 24.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Player's Handbook, 5th edition, p. 23.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Player's Handbook, 5th edition, pp. 23–24.
  4. The Kryn Dynasty is described as being populated with "gray-skinned elves." Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, "Welcome to Wildemount", p. 6.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Leylas Kryn's skin is gray-blue. "The Favor" (2x56) at 2:37:48.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Jourrael's skin is dull, gray, almost blue-purple. "Titles and Tattoos" (2x84) at 3:58:22.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Zethriss Olios's skin is a light violet. "Feral Business" (2x52) at 3:45:53.
  8. K'ryyn's skin is ink blue. "Taryon, My Wayward Son" (1x97) at 1:43:36.
  9. Leylas Kryn's hair is white. "The Favor" (2x56) at 2:37:56.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Zethriss Olios's hair is bright white, tapering into a purple-violet color. "Feral Business" (2x52) at 3:45:53.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Vedalla's hair is platinum with a purple tint at the tips. "With Great Power..." (2x94) at 2:56:37.
  12. A drow guard at Bazzoxan has a gray beard. "Beneath Bazzoxan" (2x66) at 2:00:31.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Jourrael's hair is bright red. "Titles and Tattoos" (2x84) at 3:58:22.
  14. 14.0 14.1 K'ryyn's eyes are pale silver. "Taryon, My Wayward Son" (1x97) at 1:43:49.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Leylas Kryn's eyes are turquoise. "The Favor" (2x56) at 2:38:09.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 85.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Matthew Mercer confirmed Essek's eye color on Twitter.
  18. Monster Manual, 5th edition, p. 128.
  19. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 4: "Character Options", p. 156.
  20. K'rynn's skin is ink blue. "Taryon, My Wayward Son" (1x97) at 1:43:36.
  21. The Tales of Exandria: The Bright Queen #3.
  22. "Between the Lines" (2x78) at 2:49:14.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 23.
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 2: "Factions and Societies", p. 46.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 1: "Story of Wildemount", pp. 27–28.
  26. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 122.
  27. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 2: "Factions and Societies", p. 40.
  28. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 1: "Story of Wildemount", p. 19. See also p. 28.
  29. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 2: "Factions and Societies", p. 46. Also see pp. 141–142.
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 30.3 Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", p. 138.
  31. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, pp. 122–123.
  32. "Thicker Grows the Meal and Plot" (3x09) at 3:34:40.
  33. "Ghosts, Dinosaurs, and Stuff" (2x102) at 1:21:57.
  34. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 75. See also p. 24.
  35. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 24. See also pp. 68–69.
  36. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 121.
  37. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 24.
  38. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 2: "Factions and Societies", p. 38. See also pp. 19 and 142.
  39. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 2: "Factions and Societies", p. 39.
  40. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 4: "Character Options", p. 163. See also the section on dragonborn in Xhorhas on p. 169.
  41. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 4: "Character Options", p. 174.
  42. 42.0 42.1 Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 4: "Character Options", p. 178.
  43. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, "Welcome to Wildemount", p. 6. See also p. 132, as gnolls are a significant minority in Asarius.
  44. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 3: "Wildemount Gazetteer", pp. 141–142.
  45. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 4: "Character Options", p. 162. See also p. 142, as duergar are a noticeable minority in Rosohna.
  46. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 4: "Character Options", p. 169.
  47. Explorer's Guide to Wildemount, Chapter 4: "Character Options", p. 176.
  48. Drow Poison (Injury) on D&D Beyond
  49. "The Temple Showdown" (1x11) at 1:02:29.
  50. "Those Who Walk Away..." (1x45) at 1:57:01.

Art:

  1. Depiction of a drow, by Dan Bittencourt (source). This file is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.
  2. Depiction of a drider from D&D: Monster Manual, page 120. This file is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.
  3. Depiction of a Luxon beacon, by Olga Drebas (source). This file is unofficial Fan Content permitted under the Wizards of the Coast Fan Content Policy. Not approved/endorsed by Wizards. Portions of the materials used are property of Wizards of the Coast. ©Wizards of the Coast LLC.