race_drow.jpg
Type Humanoid
General Alignment Evil
Typical Languages Elven, Undercommon
Habitat Cormanthor, The Underdark
Subraces None (Elven Subrace)
Deities Vhaeraun, Lolth
Groups House Jaelre, Clan Auzkovyn

Drow

Of the various elven subraces, none are more notorious than the drow. Descended from the original dark-skinned elven subrace called the Ssri-tel'quessir, the drow were cursed into their present appearance by the good elven deities for following the goddess Lolth down the path of evil and corruption. Though divided by endless feuds and schisms, the drow are united in one terrible desire: they seethe with a hatred for the surface elves. By their way of reckoning, they proved themselves the superior race in the Crown Wars, and the fact that Corellon Larethian punished them for their success is a poison that churns in their hearts and minds eternally.

Also called dark elves, the drow have black skin that resembles polished obsidian and stark white or pale yellow hair. They commonly have blood-red eyes, although pale eyes in shades of pale lilac, silver, pink and blue are not unknown. They are also commonly shorter and thinner than most Faerûnian elves.

In the beginning, the Ssri-tel'quessir were the most successful of the elven colonists to the new world of Faerûn. Their nation of Ilythiir quickly became one of the most powerful of the early elven nations. But the Ssri-tel'quessir were not only the most successful of the elves of their time, they were also the most cruel and jealous. Despite their own accomplishments, they envied those of their neighbors all the same. While the First Crown War raged to the north, the dark elves waged their own war against their neighbors, seeking to dominate the elven realms of southern Faerûn.

Unsuccessful in three attempts to subjugate the neighboring realms, the dark elves of Ilythiir turned to a new and secret patron at the opening of the Fourth Crown War. The dark elves pledged their loyalties to the outcast Seldarine of the Demonweb Pits, Lolth. The Spider Queen and her fellow exiles granted the dark elves of Ilythiir great magical powers, fiendish allies, and support in return for their allegiance, and the Ilythiiri wreaked great havoc among the other elven realms.

But their success and victory were short-lived, for Corellon was shocked and deeply enraged by the traitorous acts of the dark elves. By his decree, the Ilythiiri elves were cursed, transformed into drow and banished from the surface world forever. They became known as the dhaeraow (the elven word for traitor), and over the centuries this word has since given them the name by which they are commonly known: drow.

For many years, the fiends and decaying high magic of Myth Drannor were widely held to be the greatest peril of the midwoods, but now a new danger has appeared – the return of drow to the surface world. As the last few decades of the Elven Retreat left vast portions of the Elven Court and its surrounding forests virtually unoccupied, some drow factions of the underdark - particularly those who owe their allegiance to Vhaeraun rather than Lolth - contemplated a return to the surface world. Much to their delight, they have found that due to the Retreat, the presence of surface elves is much smaller and more poorly organized than they anticipated, and quickly grew roots deep within the great forest.

The drow have not been present in Cormanthor for long, but they've made themselves known with raids against the various Dales. Incessant raiding and murders in the forest may not be the worst the drow have to offer Dalesfolk. The Great Druid of Cormanthor went missing near Myth Drannor shortly after the drow invaded. The story passed on to druids through the animals of the forest is that he perished in a great battle with a demon summoned by the invading drow. The only consolation for Dalesfolk is that the druids say that the Great Druid killed his demonic attacker, as well.

Even more alarming than the prospect of a war in Cormanthor's shadow is the drow interest in the abandoned realm's ancient mythals. The drow seek to twist the Cormanthor's ancient mythals into shapes that please them. Elven high magic effects that please such beings, however, are likely to demoralize and enfeeble humans and elves. The drow could never create powerful mythals on their own, but with time and study, they may master the magic of the Elven Court and permanently darken the great forest. Those elves know this, and work constantly to conceal old magic from the drow or defend sites too large to hide with the most powerful guardians they can find or recruit.

Although it is not widely known, the drow who have moved into Cormanthor are divided into two major factions who compete (but sometimes even cooperate) to turn Cormanthor into their new fortress home - House Jaelre and the Auzkovyn Clan.

Beside those two factions there are also Underdark Raiders: ambitious Menzoberranzan commanders who switch between raiding their former comrades and raiding Dalesfolk.