"Treachery. Deceit. Death. This is our way." -Haelirin Shivra
Adopted Homeland: Underdark
Drow, also called dhaerow, dark elves, and night elves, 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. Drow are not barbaric and appreciate a sense of subtlety and thus drow are typically courteous and urbane, even to their most hated rivals.
Drow society is matriarchal, militaristic, and heavily influenced by religion. Their city-states are formed in huge Underdark caverns, and frequently war with one another. These cities are ruled by the most powerful of the houses, and although the power of the many families changes often, the top few remain mostly stable. Males who hope to find any place of power in society often resort to ends as treacherous as the women that rule the dark elves, hoping to perhaps win a coveted place as the mate of a powerful matron mother. While female drow could attend any of the three school at the Academy of Menzoberranzan, males could only attend Melee-Magthere or Sorcere, and never Arach-Tinilith.
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 the 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.
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 Lolth and this is often in the grounds of the ruling family. Artifacts that burn with fire of the Feywild adorn buildings as a sign of prosperity. The garrison and some of the slaves, as well as rothé farms, are kept outside the city. Often a city will seek to forge an alliance with a powerful Underdark creature, like a deep dragon or a beholder, to gain additional power.
Were it not for one renowned exception, the race of drow would be universally reviled. To most, they are a race of demon-worshiping marauders dwelling in the subterranean depths of the Underdark, emerging only on the blackest nights to pillage and slaughter the surface dwellers they despise. Their society is depraved and preoccupied with the favor of Lolth, their spider-goddess, who sanctions murder and the extermination of entire families as noble houses vie for position.
Drow grow up believing that surface-dwelling races are inferior, worthless except as slaves. Drow who develop a conscience or find it necessary to cooperate with members of other races find it hard to overcome that prejudice, especially when they are so often on the receiving end of hatred.
Third Era Edit
Before the fey of Eternia had built Argoth, the first mortal city of elves, and before they had formed Yavimaya, the first elfhame, the Dark Seldarine had turned their eyes toward one particular tribe of elves, the Ilythiir clan. The fallen goddess formerly known as Araushnee, now called Lolth, Queen of Spiders and Queen of the Demonweb Pits, sent the balor lord Wendonai to seduce Shivra, the Ilythiir clan keeper, and to pervert the tribe's lore and traditions.
In time, the Ilythiir clan turned their backs on the worship of the Seldarine, and their corruption angered Corellon Larethian, who cast them out of the fey people and banished them from Eternia. As the Ilythiir clan fled beneath the surface into the Underdark, earning the pejorative title 'The Ones Who Went Below,' they settled their city Menzoberranzan in the cavern with the strongest faerzress, thinking to use it against the surface elves. In fact, the faerzress was used by the surface elves to keep the ones who went below in the Underdark, far from Eternia. Aeren, the first king of the elves, later defeated Wendonai in single combat, and banished him from the mortal realm for all eternity.
Over the generations, the children of Wendonai and Shivra were touched by Lolth, twisting their fey and demon blood into her curseborn, and breeding it throughout the ones who went below. In only two generations, the tribe of elves once called the Ilythiir clan had become what Corellon named 'Dhaerow,' what Eternia called 'Dark Elves' or 'Night Elves,' and what Lolth knew as 'Drow,' her own devoted people.