Library of Neverwinter: Drow Guide

May 11

Drow_-_Dan_Scott
The Drow, a branch of the Tel’Quessir, are a race of fey humanoids that dwell within the subterranean realm known as the Underdark. They are often incorrectly referred to as “dark elves” by many of the mortal races.

All information in this guide is taken from the Wizards of the Coast Fourth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, as that is what edition PWI/Cryptic Studios used to make the online game.

Basic Information

Lifespan: Usually up to 500 years, however 900 years is not unheard of.
Average Height: 5’4″ – 6′
Average Weight: 130 – 170 lbs.
Skintones: Black, dark blue, gray, violet
Hair Colour: White
Languages: Common, Drow, Deep Speech, and Drow Sign Language

Table Top Specific Information

Ability Score Bonuses: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma or +2 Wisdom
Skill Bonuses: +2 Intimidate, +2 Stealth
Size: Medium
Speed: 6 squares
Vision: Darkvision
Trance: Rather than sleep, Drow enter a meditative state known as trance. You need to spend 4 hours in this state to gain the same benefits other races gain from taking a 6-hour extended rest. While in a trance, you are fully aware of your surroundings and notice approaching enemies and other events as normal.
Lolthtouched: You have your choice of either the cloud of darkness or darkfire power.
Fey Origin: Your ancestors were native to the Feywild, so you are considered a fey creature for the purpose of effects that relate to creature origin.

Neverwinter Online Specific Information

Ability Score Bonuses: +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma
Lolthtouched: Drow have the darkfire power.
Menzoberranzan Renegade: Some drow reject this way of life, fleeing to the surface of Faerûn, and acting to prove not all of their race is inherently evil. Considered traitors and outcasts by their own people, many of these drow come to Neverwinter to find acceptance and protection from what lies beneath.

Nomenclature

The Drow of the Underdark by Ed Greenwood had three pages dedicated to Drow names, and although the book is from the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons edition, the nomenclature has not changed. If you happen to be lucky enough to get a copy of the book, it can be found on pages 96 – 98; it is followed by a Select Glossary of Deep Drow, which is a small dictionary of Drow words. Several surnames were removed from the list, as they have ascended to being noble Houses by the time Fourth Edition rolls around.

Humans are warned that Drow names do not necessarily denote beings of the same sex as similar names (and name endings) in human societies. No noble Drow has a first name too close to a common word. No Drow, of any faith, takes names closely resembling the names of any Drow diety – it is blasphemous to use the name of one’s own deity, and unlucky to have a name too akin to that of another deity.

Drow last names are many and varied. Only those of noble blood, or commoners holding titled ranks (such as patron, weapons master, or herald) in a noble house may use the name of their House as a surname. By tradition, no House name begins with the same “L” sound as the name of the Spider Queen, Lolth, and no Drow bares the personal name of “Lolth” or any of its variants (Lloth, Loethe) – except a revealed avatar of the Goddess.

Female Given Names

Akordia, Alauniira, Alystin, Angaste, Ardulace, Aunrae, Baltana, Belarbreena, Briza, Burryna, Chalithra, Charinida, Chessintra, Dhaunae, Dilynrae, Drisinil, Eclavdra, Elvanshalee, Elvraema, Erelda, Faeryl, Felyndriira, Filfaere, Gaussra, G’eldriia, Ginafae, Greyanna, Haelra, Halavin, Halisstra, Ilivarra, Ilmra, Imrae, Inidil, Irae, Irrult, Iymril, Jhanniss, Jhaelryna, Jhulae, Jyslin, Laele, Larynda, LiNeerly, Lirdnolu, Lualyrr, Malice, Maya, Micarlin, Minolin, Molvayas, Myrymma, Nathrae, Nedylene, Nulliira, Olorae, Pellanistra, Phaere, Phyrra, Quarra, Quave, Qilue, Rauva, Rilrae, Sabal, Sabrae, Shi’nayne, ShriNeerune, Shurdriira, Shyntlara, SiNafay, Ssapriina, Talabrina, Talice, Triel, Trisstree, Ulviirala, Umrae, Viconia, Vierna, Vlondril, Waerva, Wuyondra, Xullrae, Xune, Yasraena, Zarra, Zebeyana, Zesstra, Zilvra

Male Given Names

Adinirahc, Alak, Alton, Amalica, Antatlab, Baragh, Belgos, Berg’inyon, Bhintel, Bruherd, Calimar, Chaszmyr, Dinin, Dipree, Divolg, Duagloth, Durdyn, Elkantar, Filraen, Gelroos, Ghaundan, Ghaundar, Gomph, Guldor, Hatch’net, Houndaer, Ilmryn, Ilphrin, Istolil, Istorvir, Jeggred, Kalannar, Kelnozz, Krenaste, Krondorl, Lesaonar, Lyme, Malaggar, Masoj, Merinid, Mourn, Nadal, Nalfein, Nilonim, Nym, Omareth, Orgoloth, Pharaun, Quevven, Quild, Ranaghar, Relonor, Riklaunim, Rizzen, Ryld, Ryltar, Sabrar, Seldszar, Solaufein, Sorn, Szordrin, Tarlyn, Tathlyn, Tebryn, Tluth, Tsabrak, Urlryn, Valas, Vorn, Vuzlyn, Welverin, Wode, Yazston, Zaknafein

Surnames

Abaeir, Abbylan, Argith, Blaerabban, Blundyth, Coborel, Cormrael, Dalael, Dhuunyl, Elphragh, Filifar, Gellaer, Ghaun, Glannath, Hune, Hyluan, Illistyn, Jhalavar, Jusztiirn, Khalazza, Lhalabar, Luen, Mlezziir, Naerth, Olonrae, Ornrivvin, Phillom, Quavein, Rhomduil, Rrostarr, Seeraer, Ssambra, Telenna, Tlintarn, T’sarran, Uloavae, Veladom, Vrammyr, Vrinn, Waeglossz, Wyndyl, Xarann, Xiltyn, Yauntyrr, Yoegh’il’rymmin, Zaphresz

House Names

Agrach Dyrr, Auvryndar, Baenre, Barrison Del’Armgo, Coloara, Despana, Druskyn, Druu’giir, Duskryn, Faen Tlabbar, Fey-Branche, Freth, Godeep, Horlbar, Hunzrin, Kenafin, Melarn, Millithor, Mizzrym, Nurbonnis, Ousstyl, Pharn, Shobalar, Srune’lett, Symryvvin, T’orgh, Tuin’Tarl, Vandree, Xorlarrin, Zolond

Language

Drow are as eloquent and musical in their speech as other elves.

Most Drow have little exposure to surface tongues (outcasts, slave-traders, and adventurers being the principal exceptions). A citizen of an underground city who seldom ventures far afield will know two tongues: the everyday spoken language of the Drow, or “Deep Drow” (which varies slightly from community to community in the same way that spoken Common has regional accents, phrases, and words) and the soundless language of gestures and expressions developed by Drow long ago.

This “silent language” of Drow, sometimes called “hand-code”, is a language as detailed as the spoken word. It’s specifics are not given in this book for two reasons: First, Elminster believes that some secrets should be kept, and I agree. Second, development of gestures and expressions is an ideal area for DM creativity, to encourage PC roleplaying and uncertainty. Moreover, showing and describing the nuances and combinations of the unspoken tongue requires months of concentrated tutoring.

“Deep Drow” (also known as “Low Drow” or “Drowic”) is the everyday tongue of the drow, corrupted by passing fashions, trade-tongue jargon, and even words from other languages (notably Orcish, Dwarven, surface elven and human wizarding terms). It has a similar structure to the Common Tongue, used by humans and in most interspecies trade in the Realms (specifically to the dialect known as “Undercommon”, used in the Realms Below). When written, its flowing letters resemble old elven and freehand Thorass scripts, but a being familiar with both Elvish and Common writing can puzzle out only fourteen percent of the general nature of a Drow inscription.

Deep Drow is a living, changing tongue, and varies from place to place in the Underdark, as well as over time (although Drow speech, due to isolation and technology slowed by tradition and a rigid class-based society, does not change with the rapidity of the surface languages).

Visitors to drow settlments may also sometimes hear “High Drow”, an archaic, rarely used dialect known and heard chiefly by the clergy of Lolth (used in spell incantations, or between priestesses when they do not want the lesser Drow within hearing to understand their speech). High Drow incorporates some specialized gestures (part of the Silent Language), which drow not familiar with it sometimes call “the Secret Signs”.

Adventurers are advised that Drow are usually silent in battle. If startled or in pain, they may call out to Lolth, or utter an oath.

Ainilome pointed out that while there were some officially created Drow words, fanbs have been adding words for years – likely since Ed Greenwood’s book was released! She suggests using Eilistraee’s Drow Translator for your Drow language needs, and it even translates whole sentences!

Psychology & Personality Information

Ever since their introduction to the Dungeons & Dragons world, Drow have had a very distinct psychological and personality traits that have not changed much overall since they were introduced. There have been some major exceptions to these traits when speaking of surface dwelling Drow, so both mindsets will be included.

From an early age, Drow are taught to trust no one. Alliances are only forged when an individual or group is confident that they can take down the other side should things go south, and even then, they still aren’t likely to trust their supposed ally. Backstabbing is an art form in the Underdark, especially amongst the noble Houses, so this distrust does have a sound basis for existence. Often, Drow who escape to the surface and distance themselves from their own race still have a lot of trust issues, even after having spent considerable time on the surface.

It is common knowledge that most Drow detest the other races of Faerûn, though they focus quite a bit of this wrath upon the Darthiir (surface elves); they hope that some day, they can destroy the other elven races and rule over the Underdark and the surface of Toril. This hatred unites them, giving them a common goal, although the approach to such things varies from House to House and from individual to individual. Surface Drow often could not find it in themselves to hate the other races before their exile, though some clearly carry these prejudices with them when they flee the Underdark; sometimes, they carry them for their entire lives, while other times, these sentiments lessen with more exposure to other races.

Drow value stealth, guile, and works of great skill. This admiration leads most Drow towards the paths of warriors, scouts, assassins, arcanists, or priestess. All of these paths can have great works of skill, and in Drow society, most of them also involve a lot of guile and some form of stealth – whether it be hiding one’s intentions or hiding entirely. Previously, an entire House of Drow (Oblodra) followed the ways of psions, however by 1359 DR, the house had been wiped out by the Avatar of Lolth. Surface Drow, for the more part, follow these same paths as well, although it is quite possible for greater flexibility once out of the Underdark.

The Drow are often vein, considering themselves to be beautiful, the pinnacle of the Tel’Quessir. They also surround themselves with beauty, and their cities are works of art. Many Drow use their looks as weapons, with seduction being a common aspect of day to day politics. Even those that flee the surface are often aware of their exotic appearance, and some continue to use that to their advantage.

It is important to note that those who do not embrace the core aspects of Drow culture and psychology typically suffer greatly as they try to survive in the Underdark. Their minds often fracture, creating loose holds on their sanity at best, even if they are able to flee to the surface. It often takes decades to recover from their experiences within the cities below the surface, leaving most exile Drow quite haunted. There are exceptions to this, however, often times these seemingly strong Drow still suffer psychological effects that merely manifest in a different manner.

Religious Information

Primarily, the majority of Drow worship Lolth above all else, though the entire Dark Seldarine once held sway over the denizens of the Underdark; by 1349, a full one hundred years before the start of Neverwinter Online, all but Lolth and Ghaunadaur were killed or had faded from existence. Ghaunadaur removed himself from the pantheon upon leaving the Demonweb Pits, though such was merely presumed, as the God never officially left notice to the Drow.

The worship of Lolth was the catalyst behind the creation of the Drow. After falling from the Seldarine, she began corrupting the surface elves, particularly the Illythiri; these Dark Elves would be cursed for their worship of Lolth, becoming the Drow we know today.

Religion is integrated into Drow society, with the priestess caste ruling in a matriarchal design, despite the fact this clashed with Lolth’s chaotic evil nature. Interpretations of the Goddess’ will caused great schisms between the more secular Drow and the priestess caste.

On 28 Eleasias 1372 DR, Lolth suddenly became silent. She stopped granting divine power to her followers, she stopped responding to communions by her followers, and the path to the Demonweb Pits was cut off. The Silence continued until 28 Ches 1373 DR, when it was discovered that Lolth had moved her realm to its own separate plane, and needed a new body in order to reconnect to her followers.

Upon her return, Lolth began a sava game between herself and her daughter Eilistraee that decimates the almost the entire Dark Seldrine. In 1375, Selvetarm was slain by one of Eilistraee’s followers, and his portfolio is absorbed by Lolth. In the same year, Vhaeraun attempted to assassinate Eilistraee, his followers used Elven High Magic to open a portal to her realm; the magic backfires, killing Vhaeraun and Eilistraee absorbs his portfolio. In 1377 DR, Kiaransalee attempted to join the sava match by altering the faerzress of the Underdark, which would affect the Drow’s teleportation abilities; Eilistraee’s followers made a two prong attack against Kiaransaelle, with an assault on the Acropolis of Thanatos that resulted with the death of her high priestesses while other followers used Elven High Magic to remove her name from history.

It should be noted that Eilistraee’s followers were redeemed by the Seldarine when the Goddess and her chosen were killed by Halisstra Melarn in 1379 DR; the blood of their Goddess wiped the taint from her followers, and their divine curse was lifted. Their skin lightened to a dark brown rather than shades of ebony, and their temperament shifted to be more like the other Tel’Quessir. This essentially made them all Ssri-tel-quessir, or Dark Elves. Corellon Larethian took over Eilistraee’s realm and her place in the sava match, essentially giving Lolth’s daughter the last laugh by forcing her mother into battling a more powerful enemy.

Recently, in the years leading up to 1479 DR, Lolth ordered her followers to begin gathering relics of Mystra along with items that contained blueflame ghosts. She intends to take Mystra’s place as the Goddess of Magic, fusing the Weave to the Demonweb to create a Demon Weave. This has caused the tensions between the mostly male wizard caste and the strictly female priestess caste, as Lolth’s directives and goals could ultimately uplift the magic focused Drow to higher positions, possibly causing the priestesses to lose their socio-political power entirely.

Cultural Information

The Drow are a matriarchal society that is heavily influenced by the religious elements of society, which leaves magically focused Drow and male Drow at a disadvantage. Often at best, men can hope to become the mate of a Matron of a noble House, which is often not all that appealing to men.

Outsiders often make the mistake of assuming that females in Drow society have it much easier than the males. In truth, due to the teachings of Lolth, females are engaged in just as many power struggles as their male counterparts. If a female wishes to make her way in a male dominated area of society, such as within the arcanists, they not only have to compete with each other, but also the males that they oppress.

Outsiders often make the mistake of thinking that belonging to a powerful House makes things easier for both genders, however that is not the case; if anything, the more powerful a House, the more dangerous the power struggle. Recent history saw the demise of many houses, either at the hands of other Houses or by Lolth’s will via her Avatar.

Noble Houses rule the Drow, with the most powerful Houses sitting upon the Council. There are currently eight ruling Houses upon the Council, though there are at least twenty two other noble Houses in Menzoberranzan, with a great deal more outside of the central city.

Council Houses

House Baenre is the first House of Menzoberranzan.
House Barrison Del’Armgo is the second House.
House Xorlarrin is the third House.
House Faen Tlabbar is the fourth House.
House Mizzrym is the fifth House.
House Fey-Branche is the sixth House.
House Melarn is the seventh House.
House Duskryn is the eighth House.

Cities are designed around a central focus, often a lavish temple to Lolth, although they are also designed around the powerful Houses that reside there. This forces the Drow of lesser Houses, or those who are not members of any House, to take what they can get within the city. Garrisions, slave pens, and rothé farms are found on the outskirts of the city, out of sight from the majority of the population. The architecture of most of the city is very elaborate, reflecting the Drow desire to surround themselves with beauty, enhanced by the faerie fire that adorns buildings of prosperity and power.

Slavery is a large part of Drow society, and on average, the Houses have two or more slaves for every member. Aside from their duties within their Houses, slaves make up the unskilled labour force within the city. They’re often expendable, although some are treated better than others, depending upon their duties and their House.

Drow often keep spiders as pets, and within their cities, spiders are free to roam the city. Larger spiders often guard various buildings, while the giant spiders are often used as mounts. These spiders are bred for these purposes, and are quite a bit more intelligent than the common spider found on Faerûn. Another common type of mount in the Underdark is the riding lizard, though it is unclear if they are bred in the same manner as the spiders.

Surface Drow do not arrange themselves in such a manner. They frequently live as outcasts and hermits, these Drow typically try to have as clean of a break from their past as possible. Some integrate into other societies upon the surface, though there is often still distrust between the Drow and the inhabitants of the area; Neverwinter is one such place where the surface Drow are seeking to settle in. Also, in recent times, due to the increasing number of renegade Drow, there are even Drow who have been raised entirely on the surface and are largely unaffected by the Underdark’s culture.

References

Menzoberranzan: The City of Intrigue
Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide
The Drow of the Underdark by Ed Greenwood
Forgotten Realms Wiki
Neverwinter Online wiki
DnD Wiki
Official Wizards of the Coast Character Builder

One comment

  1. I wish all races for all MMOs would present such a nice and detailed nomenclature description or at least some tips and rules like LOTRO has 🙂

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