What is a Drow Elf, and How do I Play One?
Deep underground in the twists and turns of the Underdark lurk the Drow, an evil and sadistic race of dark-skinned elves. Their society is different from that of their fair-skinned counter parts!
History of the Drow
There was a time when the Drow were not the dark-skinned evil creatures they are in the known game world. They once walked side by side with the other elves. Those who would become the Drow were more interested in power and might rather than justice and honor. A divide was created between the two groups of elves.
The Spider Queen Lolth used this turmoil to gain a following, and gave the group the name of Drow to signify their unity. They rallied and planed to conquer the other elves, but were driven underground by Corellon Larethian and his Elves.They chose to stay in the safety of the Underdark.
Drow: A Day in the Life
The Drow Society is based on a matriarchal structure. Their God, Lolth favored females, and as such, the woman of the race held all the positions of power and honor. Aside from being more important, the females were also physically larger and stronger than the men.
Only the female Drow Elves can become Clerics, the males are almost always either fighters, casters or some combination thereof.
Their aspirations remain as they were in the beginning, favoring might and power over all other virtues, and as such, a Drow will spend a large portion of his or her life training hard at whatever their vocation. Those who fall short of the expectations of their Houses are put to death.
The government is made up of Houses of nobility, each house belonging to a family of some power. These houses are always maneuvering for a higher position, and are sometimes at open war with one another, though quite raids are more common.
Within the houses, there are also positions of power, and elevation in status is sometimes gained through the elimination of family members who occupy a higher position.
Drow in Your Game
Depending on the setting of your campaign, there are some things about the Drow Elves you'll need to know.
First, their gear consists of soft boots that help them to move silently, enchanted chain mail, and razor-sharp blades. They also commonly have small one-handed crossbows that shoot darts laced with a powerful poison, causing the target to sleep.
Their gear is said to be made of an adamantine alloy that has been made powerful by a strange radiation that exists in the Underdark. If this gear is exposed to direct sunlight for any length of time, it will lose is special properties and eventually completely fall apart. Likewise, exposure to the sun will also cause the Drow's innate ability to levitate also wanes until it eventually fails them for good.
Aside from these things, the only real disadvantage to being a Drow is that this character will be hated and / or feared by just about every other race in existence.
Naturally as with any rule, exceptions would exist. Perhaps the most famous Drow Elf was Drizzt, the unlikely hero main character in R. A. Salvatore's Ice Wind Dale Trilogy, and subsequent novels.
Drow Elf Racial Traits
Drow have extraordinarily high dexterity and intellect, but carry the typically elven low consititution. The following information is taken direction from the d20SRD:
Drow Traits (Ex)
These traits are in addition to the high elf traits, except where noted.
- +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma.
Darkvision out to 120 feet. This trait replaces the high elf’s low-light vision.
Spell resistance equal to 11 + class levels.
+2 racial bonus on Will saves against spells and spell-like abilities.
Spell-Like Abilities: Drow can use the following spell-like abilities once per day: dancing lights, darkness, faerie fire. Caster level equals the drow’s class levels.
Weapon Proficiency: A drow is automatically proficient with the hand crossbow, the rapier, and the short sword. This trait replaces the high elf’s weapon proficiency.
- Automatic Languages: Common, Elven, Undercommon. Bonus Languages: Abyssal, Aquan, Draconic, Drow Sign Language, Gnome, Goblin. This trait replaces the high elf’s automatic and bonus languages.
Light Blindness: Abrupt exposure to bright light (such as sunlight or a daylight spell) blinds drow for 1 round. On subsequent rounds, they are dazzled as long as they remain in the affected area.
Favored Class: Wizard (male) or cleric (female). This trait replaces the high elf’s favored class.
- Level adjustment +2.
The drow warrior presented here had the following ability scores before racial adjustments: Str 13, Dex 11, Con 12, Int 10, Wis 9, Cha 8.
Drow Utilities and Resources
If you're looking to create a Drow character, either as an NPC or a player character, there are plenty of utilities available to you to make the process easier such as D&D Character Creators.
For some added role-playing or other flavor elements, use a Drow Elf translator such as this one. This Drow translator allows you to type an entire sentence and translate it all at once.
Wizards of the Coast was kind enough to assemble this wonderful Drow gallery of art for your entertainment.
Also see this web page for a chart to help you generator Drow names.
As always, there is a vast amount of information about the Drow that I did not include in this article, and I'd love for you to share your thoughts either about this article or about the Drow, in the comments below