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OverviewEdit

AppearanceEdit

Drow elves tend to be shorter then normal elves, but exceptions do exist. There skin color is that of polished obsidian, giving them quite an exotic look. Hair colors tend to be white, silver, and sometimes black though other colors are usually not seen. Their eyes vary, and can be shades of violet or red in color.


Hailing from the Underdark, a massive collection of caves, tunnels, and passageways all deep beneath the earth, Drow are rarely seen on the surface because of their lack of tolerance to the sun, involving their eyes. Having been underground for so long, a Drow recently arrived to the surface will have almost constant pain in its eyes if out during the day. This light blindness effect never truly disappears, but becomes less painful the more the Drow is on the surface. Drow are almost always evil, it is their nature, and the environment that they are brought up in only helps to continue crafting them into tools of evil. Their society is matriarchal, meaning that female Drow lead the race in just about everything. The head of a Drow house is known as a Matron Mother, and they are often priestesses. Females command great respect, and males are often punished with death should they anger a female. Just looking at one wrong is grounds for punishment.

The largest Drow city in Saphage is known as Veldrin'xukuth, or Shadows Heart. Often shortened to just 'Veldrin', it is located in an immense cavern and divided by a large underground river.


GovernmentEdit

Drow government is made up of houses, similar in ways to those of Elven noble houses. Typically, there are 3 to five great houses which make up the most influential part of the House Council. Generally, the great houses can, and often do, make most or even all decisions without consulting with the lesser houses of the city.

Each house has a guard force, the great houses having many, many more then the lesser houses. For a great house, it's guard force is usually made up of males in the house and headed by a prominent family member who is male. Added to this, it is also possible that males from a lesser house who is a vassal to the Great house are part of the guard. The bulk of the force is often commoners though, and the Great Houses often have small armies of slaves such as Kobolds, Goblins, and even Orcs at their disposal.


The Great Houses of Veldrin'xukuthEdit

The city is ruled by 3 great houses, and contains an assortment of lesser ones. They are listed here in order from Strongest to weakest, but compared to a lesser house they are all capable of destroying something below them with minimal effort.


Rilyn'vir ('Everhate')Edit

Important Family Members:
Matron Rilyn'vir: The most powerful priestess in the city, over nine centuries old.
Sorn Rilyn'vir: Last seen on the surface of Saphage, presumed dead.
Being the first house, House Rilyn'vir has a vast amount of resources and soldiers at it's disposal, and rules over Veldrin with an iron grip. The house priestesses are some of the cruelest in the city, and most residents agree that the House will remain number one indefinitely.


Oussep ('the Heirs')Edit

Important Family Members:
Matron Yan'dra Oussep: Rizzen's sister, arguably the second most powerful female.
Rizzen Oussep: Currently on the surface of Saphage pursuing his own agenda.
Stlarl Oussep: Archmage of Veldrin, most powerful male in the city.

The second great house, House Ouusep gets its name from the wide spread belief that they are ancestors of the original group of Drow to first settle in the Cavern that is today Veldrin. Their guard could be argued to be just as large as that of house Rilyn'vir, and perhaps the most unique thing about them is that they pay their slaves.

Tagnik'zun Klu'chud ('the Dragons Spawn')Edit

Important Family Members:
Matron Z'ila Tagnik'zun Klu'chud: A Matron who does not practice the arts of a priestess, but that of a Sorceress.
V'ren Tagnik'zun Klu'chud: Eldest son, an assassin.

The third great house, Tagnik'zun Klu'chud is actually one of the oldest houses in the city. The family line is believed to contain the blood of Shadow Dragons, which still populate parts of the Underdark. Though completely unheard of for a matron to not be a priestess, Z'ila manages to hold the position through the sheer power of arcane magic at her disposal. All houses that have attempted to oust this "false matron" have been destroyed. The third house continues to have a strong relationship with the second.


SocietyEdit

Drow society is based on the gain of status and the knowledge that only the strong survive in the world of the underdark.

Families of nobility (the ranking class) are grouped into Houses.

A house consists of, in the order of rank, as follows:

1. A ruling Matron Mother.
2. The Matron’s first daughter.
3. Any daughters in birth order that are in training to become priestesses, or are priestesses.
4. Any daughters in birth order not in training.
5. Any priestesses not of the same family.
6. The Elderboy, first son of the Matron.
7. The Secondboy, the Matron’s second son. The third son born is sacrificed to the Goddess at birth, unless one of the first two sons die before he is born.
8. The Patron, the Matron’s current lover.
9. The House Mage, if none of the sons has taken the position.
10. The Weapons Master or Trainer. Also a position that can be taken by a son.
11. Any warriors and mages.
12. Any slaves or workers.


Societal house RankingsEdit

All houses are grouped by number. The newest house has the highest number. As houses are eliminated from the underdark each house below it improves its ranking by one.

Example: House 15 eradicates House 3. House 15 then becomes House 14, and all others under House 3 move up one position. The lower the number that a House has, the longer it has survived.

The Matrons of the top 3 houses sit upon a secretive ruling council. Together they plot and scheme against all and each other, helping each other only if it will further their own plans.


The Creation of a HouseEdit

A strong female priestess with no hope of gaining status in her own mother’s house will sometimes strike out on her own and form a family.

Thus begins the creation of a new House. She will struggle and gather to herself a patron, warriors, mages and slaves. As her family grows, she will fight to maintain her good graces with her Goddess. This includes sacrificing her third son to the Goddess and sending her female children into service. The growth and wealth of her house are a direct reflection of her own standing and power within the society.

The new Matron rules with an iron hand; in her house she is judge, jury, and the executioner. All members in the house are expected to further the house’s position. Those that do not follow her wishes are quickly eliminated. She will do everything in her power to turn that elimination into an action seen favorably by her Goddess.

In time, if she is strong and cruel enough, her house will grow. The mages will set about creating a house of beauty for her. Using spells and mage lights as art, they will visually show the rest of the underdark the power and wealth the house carries. The more powerful the house, the larger and grander the visual looks of the house becomes.

The Nobility lives separately from the rest of the house. Often an area only accessible by those with the ability to levitate, or available by the use of rune spells will be created. This effectively distinguishes and separates the Nobility from the lesser house members.

Coveting the position of the houses above her, the Matron will pray, plan, and scheme to further her house. Covertly she will investigate all opposing houses, looking for weaknesses to exploit. When a weakness is found, she may spend years gathering resources and information, covering every base she can think of before finally making her move. Failure in an attempt to take another house’s position means she herself and everything she has worked for will be eliminated with no trace of their existence left.

The attack will happen swiftly with no warning. The first order of such business would be to drop darkness spells around the area. The rest of the underdark may “know” who is making the attack, but it is never spoken. It is considered barbaric if drow battles drow openly in the city, and with “hard proof” of such an attack, the city council’s forces will destroy the violators. Although everyone may know that an attack is occurring and who the attacker is, it is understood that as long as battle is not visible, it isn't occurring, for there is no visible proof. Eliminating every member of the nobility relates to this--only if there are no surviving nobles is there the removal of hard proof of the attacker's identity.

Quickly, the fighters will overcome the walls, while the Matron and her priestesses launch a “psychic magical attack” upon the Matron and priestesses of the targeted house. All nobility of the assaulted house is exterminated down to the last child hiding in a corner. There are no witnesses of the nobility left alive to point fingers at them. Leaving any behind would result in the annihilation of the attacking house. Lastly, slaves and rothe are rounded up and brought back, thus adding to the wealth and power of the House.

When successful, such an attack will move her House up the ladder one position, thus moving the Matron closer to her Goddess.


PsychologyEdit

Drow are taught from an early age to trust no one, forging alliances only when they are confident that they can outmatch their ally if he/she decides to turn on them. The inherent pride in their own abilities quite often leads to such alliances being forged, though they almost always end badly when one party decides said alliance is no longer convenient. Even drow who escape the cruelties of the Underdark find it more difficult to form long-term friendships than most races do.

Drow have an admiration for stealth and guile, and works of great skill. They are encouraged to become warriors or arcanists if males and wielders of divine powers if female. Drow scouts are also valuable for the early warnings of threats they can provide in the tunnels of the Underdark. An assassin is prestigious in drow culture. Drow are also known for their allure, which can be seductive but is more likely used as a tool of fear.

All drow enjoy surrounding themselves with things of beauty (drow cities are always spectacles of breathtaking architecture) and often partake of lavish revels, indulging in the most pleasurable of activities.

It is important to recognize that though drow are untrusting and devious, they are not necessarily evil any more than gnolls or tieflings and drow can become forces of good given the right conditions. However, the mental scars of drow culture are not easily removed from the minds of an individual and the terrors of the Underdark and drow society can leave those who reject its evil with fractured minds and even a loose hold on their sanity. Others may escape the Underdark relatively unscarred, but these individuals are rare and considered, by and large, anomalies.


CultureEdit

Drow society is matriarchal, militaristic, and heavily influenced by religion. Their city-states are formed in huge underground caverns but frequently war with one another. These cities are ruled by the most powerful of the families (or houses) and although the power of the many families changes often, the top few usually remain stable.Males who hope to find any place of power in society often resort to ends as treacherous as the women that rule the drow, hoping to perhaps win a coveted place as the courtesan of a powerful matron mother.

It can be easy to imagine that drow females, by comparison, have it much easier but this is an illusion and their prestigious position within society comes at a high cost. In fact, the teachings of Lolth and drive to gain more power over others makes competition between female drow, particularly those who belong to powerful houses, violently competitive in a way that males do not have to cope with. Matters are even worse for those who seek power through venues outside of Lolth’s church, where the females have to compete not only with one another but with resentful and oppressed males.

Drow are arrogant, ambitious, sadistic, treacherous and hedonistic. From birth, drow are taught they are superior to other races and should crush those beneath them. Children who resist and show kindness or love are brutally punished, so as to drive the instinct of cruelty into them. They value advancement over their peers more than anything else, pulling down their superiors and crushing their inferiors. This doesn't mean they treat all of their peers with disdain, however. They appreciate a sense of subtlety and thus drow are often courteous and urbane, even to deadly rivals.

Cities are structured around the most powerful families taking the best areas, leaving the other drow to take whatever land they can. The focus of a city is often the temple of Lloth and this is often in the grounds of the ruling family. Magical items that emit faerie fire adorning buildings are a sign of prosperity. Outside the city, the garrison and some of the slaves are kept, as well as rothé farms.

Often a city will seek to forge an alliance with a powerful Underdark creature like a deep dragon or a beholder so that they can gain extra protection.

Although many drow seek to regain the surface world that they feel was taken from them unjustly, some have become so used to life in the Underdark that they would prefer to make the best of this realm and have no interest in the surface.


ReligionEdit

Dalhara The Spider Queen, Dalhar del Thrungeedia (Ancient name, not used in current times)

Lesser Deity

Symbol: A Black Widow spinning a web
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Portfolio: Spiders, Evil, Darkness, Chaos, Drow
Domains: Chaos, Evil, Darkness, Destruction, Trickery, Drow
Favored Weopon: Spider's Kiss (Whip)

Overview:
Dalhara is a malicious and evil deity who is known to delight in pitting her own followers against each other. She revels in chaos, but also in conquering and subverting her enemies. Dalhara came into being thousands of years ago, and very little specifics of this creation or the creation of the drow themselves is known. What is known however, follows:

The darkness and greed in the hearts of the dark elves was not ignored. Thrungeedia, being the power hungry and dominant goddess that she is, took a liking to this people with the need to conquer. Thinking to expand her own power, Thrungeedia used powerful god-magic to raise one female dark elf to the position of demigod-hood. This female was an extremely powerful priestess. Her original name was lost over the ages, but she became known as Dalhar del Thrungeedia, or Child of Thrungeedia. In more recent times when the demigoddess began to obtain more power for herself, she became mostly known throughout the land as simply 'Dalhara'. When the dark elves were cursed, Dalhara was also banished. Though Dalhara was powerful, she was but a demigoddess. And Thrungeedia was not about to openly come to her aide. Dalhara was banished to one of the darkest layers of the Abyss. Here she carved out her own domain, and set in motion her plans to bring the drow race under control. Taking ideas from Thrungeedia and heavily altering them to her own whim and personal desires, she crafted the drow society into a matriarchy. She took the black widow, a spider, a representation of an exceedingly powerful female as her image and became known as the Spider Queen. Through her guidance and power, the drow's hate and malice that they were born with was multiplied and grew. She was unable to undo the curses that were bestowed upon her new found children, but she gave new gifts to her race, to help augment them in ways to make them powerful.

Females are at the top of any regular drow society that worships Dalhara the Spider Queen. Males are considered unclean, if not sometimes necessary.


Clergy:
Only females of the drow race are able to become servants of Dalhara. Drow priestesses are the epitome of chaos and evil, almost a mirror image of Dalhara herself when dealing with their own servants. They are cruel, cunning, and without mercy.


{By -DarkJester, 2010}