Realm of Adventure Wiki
humanoid (Tel-quessir)
Type humanoid (Tel-quessir)
Vision Darkvision
Location the Underdark, The Dalelands, Cormanthor Forest
Languages Drow, Deep Speech, and Drow Sign Language

Drow are a dark-skinned sub-race of elves that predominantly live in the Underdark. They are generally evil. They are shorter than many other sub-races of elves and, in common with most Underdark-dwelling creatures, have a tremendous resistance to magic. They also have a much higher birthrate than most other elves, but strife tends to keep their numbers down.


Physical characteristics

In many ways, drow resemble elves. Drow have obsidian colored skin and pale yellow (or pale golden), silver or white hair, the latter being by far the most common. This hair is carefully groomed and cared for by most drow and worn long with jewelry and other accessories decorating it. Like all elves, drow are incapable of growing beards, though many males are fond of long sideburns.

Drow eyes are usually bright red, but some are known to have different colored, commonly much paler, eyes such as blue, lilac, pink or silver. Sometimes their eyes are even green which would implicate that, this particular drow has some surface elven blood in their veins. They usually vary in height between 5'4" and 6', and weigh between 130 to 175 lbs on average. Like all elves, all drow are handsome and beautiful.

Drow have lifespans far beyond that of humans and comparable with the rest of the elves, although usually somewhat longer. This is, of course, presuming the drow doesn't meet a premature and violent end, as many often do, but those that survive the trials of their society and the horrors of the Underdark can live for centuries. sometimes as long as 1000 years or more.


Drow are more agile and alluring than most humanoid races and also have many other special abilities that differentiate them from other races, including other Tel-quessir. Like all elves, drow require no sleep but instead enter a meditative trance throughout which they retain full awareness of their surroundings. This state is half-again more efficient than the way in which most races gain rest. Recently it was shown that more and more drow are actually sleeping because they cant find the peace in themselves to enter reverie.

The most distinctive feature of drow, however, is the touch of Lolth upon them. Just as Corellon cursed them and made them vulnerable to light the Spider Queen gave the drow a blessing to counteract this, giving the drow a power over darkness that other races lack. This power can manifest in several ways. The most common being the ability to shroud enemies in magical, impenetrable darkness, usually called Globe of Darkness, or a debilitating charm called faerie fire that makes a creature an easier target, encasing them in something that looks like purple fire, though causing no harm.

Most drow can only use one these abilities every so often, and the power tires them slightly. More experienced and well-trained drow, however, learn to cast both abilities separately< Yet others, particularly drow who are well-favored by Lolth, manifest another ability that both slows and impedes a foe, while also making it more difficult for them to see.

Some individuals learn to awaken these powers further, becoming known as the curseborn and possessing abilities that allow them to further master the shadow power granted by the Spider Queen, for whatever ends. Other drow struggle to rid themselves of Lolth’s touch and instead seek Corellon’s aid, eventually becoming the fey god’s crusader within the dark realms of their race, gaining blessings of healing and light from the patron of the elves .Either path leads to great power and grants even more unique abilities to an individual drow.

  • Flaws:

Sunlight Damage (Flaw)

Exposure to sunlight has damaged some of the natural traits that are part of your dark elven heritage.

Prerequisite: Dark elf, must have visited the surface during the daylight.

Effect: You may choose to loose either your spell like abilities or your spell resistance due to your exposure to the damaging sunlight.

Special: You may choose this flaw more than once. If you choose it twice, you loose both your spell like abilities and your spell resistance.

Dreaming Drow (Flaw)

You no longer enter the Reverie of the elven races, but rather you sleep and dream as lesser mortals do.

Prerequisites: Drow

Effects: You are no longer immune to sleep spells and effects, and you must sleep for eight hours rather than enter Reverie for four hours.


Drow are taught to trust no one from birth]]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.

Most drow share a hatred of all other races, especially surface races but hate most of all the Seldarine and the surface elves (“Darthiir” in Drow) and wish to re-take the surface world from their hated brethren. It is the only thing that unites them as a species. To a healthy drow, even fellow dark elves are resources to be used up leading them to yearn for a return to the surface that will defeat the surface elves.

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.


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.

it depends on how much flowing water there is in/through/near the drow city. If water is abundant (large lake, fast-flowing river) AND there's fairly easy access to a lower level of the Underdark (for a sewer to drain away into), a drow city might simply take drinking/cooking/washing/daily life uses water out of the river upstream, and dump polluted water/sewage outflow back into the river downstream...handing the filth on to downstream creatures. SMART drow communities plant fungus beds/forests that feed on offal/sewage, and either use nightsoil (dung) carts (often hoppers harnessed to the backs of pack lizards) to move the filth well outside the city to the fungus beds . . . or they have sewers flowing into fungus beds, or downriver riverbank fungus beds, tended (by slaves and drow being punished, or sometimes even driders). These strain/clean the water and turn the sewage into food for the fungi, which can be phosphorescent (light sources), edible (food for drow and their pets and workbeasts), and sources of fiber for weaving, various medicines, and oils (for lubrication/protective coatings), or some combination of these uses, depending on the type of fungi (there are literally thousands of different sorts). Bear in mind that drow sewers are unlikely to be extensive unless they're simplt shafts down into the deeper Underdark (whereupon every drow residence might have its own), and also unlike to be large (as in, tunnels large enough for armed foes, such as enemy drow or human adventurers, to creep through. Drow are paranoid suspicious about such things, and are VERY unlikely to stupidly create large networks that can be traveled through to sidestep their defenses or allow easy escapes.

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.

The drow who do choose to live on the surface do not form any kind of organized society and instead live as hermits and outcasts. They will interact with other societies when they need to, but not through choice.


Poisons and toxins are favored by the drow, especially a powerful knockout poison made from a slippery black fungus growing in certain Underdark caverns, but other poisons can be made from purple worms, scorpions, and spiders.

Drow favor mithral chain armor when it is available, but will always wear non-restrictive armors that will not hamper their natural dexterity. They also favor fast weapons like rapiers, and will choose hand crossbows when possible, to deliver their poisons from a distance.


the priciest non-slave goods in most drow cities of the Underdark are well-preserved citrus fruits and spices (the fruits are often coated in clay and then fabric-bagged, and then packed in carrychests or handkegs full of edible oils, to keep the air from them), followed by cheeses, superior-make iron tools, and lumber suitable for carving/furniture and structural work, followed by timber suitable for fuel.


It is common for drow to place magical symbols or glyphs outside their houses which can ward against intrusion. These house defense glyphs are only one of the three types of glyphs, the others are way-marker runes and sacred glyphs.

The drow love magical items of all kinds and all powerful families give some enchanted items to those who service them. The piwafwi is a particularly special drow item, although the drow house insignias are also important to the drow houses and grant special powers, sometimes levitation. Many drow items are crafted in such a way that they can only be used by the drow.


Drow primarily worship the Dark Seldarine – that is, those deities cast out of the Seldarine and exiled to the Demonweb Pits. They generally worship the goddess Lolth although those on the surface often worship Vhaeraun or Shar. A small number of good drow on the surface worship Eilistraee or other non-drow pantheon deities and are lead by Qilue Veladorn. Generally an entire city worships a single deity. Even more of a minority are the drow that worship Kiaransalee and Ghaunadaur. Also, because drow males are banned from the priesthood, males who become adept in divine magic tend to worship Selvetarm, Lolth’s champion.

Though religion plays a large part in drow society, the caste system and other seemingly-lawful aspects of the culture clash with Lolth’s intent and directives as a chaotic evil goddess. As a result, much of the tension between the clergy of Lolth and more secular drow comes from this very different perspective.

Variant cultures

Not all drow become a part of the violent mainstream culture that most of the race are forced to endure. Those few who escape the life of the Underdark might break away entirely from their dark past, while some fortunate drow are actually born and raised outside of the world below. Some drow found a hint of virtue within themselves in spite of all the terrors they witnessed, or perhaps because of it. Others have only recently turned to better ways, either out of guilt or out of the simple fact they're no longer obliged to do so. Yet others are dangerously insane, broken by the horrors that shook their psyche.

Relationships with other races

Drow see, with the exception of other elves all other races as inferior, even those to whom they are allied, and will attempt to enslave any enemies they capture, usually never willingly releasing them. Drow commonly enslave hobgoblins, ogres and orcs but also other humanoids.

Above all else, drow save their hostilities for surface elves. They are willing to forge temporary alliances with anyone that will help them inflict pain or suffering on the surface elves, for whom they know no mercy at all.

A common drow ally are the illithids.

In Waterdeep, circa 1372 DR, drow are NOT welcome in Waterdeep, and are likely to be detained (arrested or fought by the City Watch or the City Guard, and reported/fled from by other citizens, except perhaps adventurers or young nobles wanting adventure or members of the Watchful Order, who may well challenge them) on sight. This "general rule" is tempered with increasing hesitation at this time because of what THO alluded to in her earlier post: the increasingly-popular habit of some nobles and other wealthy Waterdhavians who can afford good disguises or appearance-altering magic, to "play at being drow" because of the spread of stories about the drow that make some see them as "alluring evil" ="cool" bad guys. By 1372, there have been several well-publicized incidents of powerful noble lords being mistreated by the Watch or Guard due to being mistaken for drow, and of those lords complaining that they have every right to walk "their city" looking like whatever they choose to look like, and the onus is on public defenders and lawkeepers to make sure of their foes/targets before aggressively attacking anyone. Most REAL drow know all about how they'll be treated in any human-dominated (or elven, or dwarven, or gnome, or for that matter illithid) surface city, and don't visit such places without disguises that make them look like something else (human clergy of dark gods like Shar and Loviatar are favorite disguises). Thanks to Skullport, many Waterdhavians are familiar with other Underdark denizens, and although anything with tentacles (including mind flayers) or that looks beholderish or that has very large claws or fangs is likely to be decried (and attacked) as a "monster!" . . . non-drow Underdark inhabitants aren't specifically banned from the city, and do (usually by night, and heavily cloaked/hooded/disguised) trade in Dock Ward and to a lesser extent in South Ward, Castle Ward, and Trades Ward, and congregate in the Crawling Spider as part of this doing deals or to celebrate afterwards. Innkeepers, tavernmasters, and shopkeepers south of an east-west line drawn through Castle Waterdeep generally accept guests/clients of all sorts who behave, don't threaten, and pay (some coin up front is a rule in ALL cases of masters' unease or mistrust of guests, and many Dock Warders demand it of ALL clientele, even known Waterdhavian nobles out on a lark); those north of there will often turn away heavily-covered visitors who refuse to show themselves. Drow are similarly unwelcome in Neverwinter (though note the lack of a city wall and gates circa 1372 DR to stop most unwanted visitors except on the doorsteps of individual establishments), and in most parts of Baldur's Gate (though that city's cleanliness, order, and respect for law go downhill swiftly as it expands, in the late 1370s and thereafter). To reiterate: drow know this, and generally travel the surface world in disguise, sometimes among large groups of coster/caravan guards they serve in, making use of full-helm uniforms and cosmetics. For example, in the "home" Realms campaign, four outcast female drow lived and worked on the surface for decades as caravan guards (their nature known to their fellow guards, of course) posing as dusky-skinned human females from remote eastern or southern lands, concealing their lower faces behind veils of linked coins and wearing harem-style silks under their armor; they were generally assumed by those who saw them to be human sex-servants of the caravan masters, rather than drow, and this supposition was aided by the "casually familiar, as longtime comrades" way their fellow caravan guards treated them.

Pets and slavery

Slavery plays a large part in drow society and drow households usually have two or more slaves for each member. All unskilled labor in drow cities is carried out by slaves. One slave from each household is usually kept as a “pet” by the household, and this is often a spider, since it is the symbol of the deity Lloth. Spiders roam the streets in drow cities, acting as pest controllers, and larger ones are used to guard houses or as mounts for transportation. These spiders are often specially bred for the purpose and are more intelligent than their regular counterparts, especially the sword spider.

Other types of working creatures include riding lizards, bats and cavvekans, and also spider-like creatures such as bebiliths, myrlochar and retrievers.


Drow were once known as Dark Elves (Ssri-tel-quessir in old Elven) and their nations, Ilythiir and Miyeritar, Ilythiir was one of the most powerful, but, in -30000 DR their goddess Araushnee betrayed her fellow Seldarine and, along with Ghaunadaur, Vhaeraun, Malar and others they tried to invade Arvandor. Afterwards Araushnee was cast into the Abyss, where she took the name Lolth.

During the First Crown War, the Ilythiiri made several unsuccessful attempts to conquer Faerûn (actually they conquered Southern Faerun and to the north up to Shantel Othreier, and perhaps only the intervention of Corellon Larethian had stopped them), and at the time of the Fourth Crown War, they turned to Lloth and the other outcast Seldarine in the Demonweb Pits who gave them powerful magic and fiendish allies, as a reward for allegiance. One of these was a balor named Wendonai. He bred with the Ilythiiri, giving them a taint. After many malicious acts and abuses of elven magic, Corellon Larethian banished the dhaerow (traitors) whom Lolth used to be responsible for (and most of whom still secretly worshiped her) to the Underdark. In order to do so, they had powerful magical storms unleashed upon Ilythiir and Miyeritar, even though miyeritar was innocent. The taint of wendoai allows him to hear the thoughts of the tainted, and it is only the Ilythiiri carry it, it gives them their cruel and arrogant nature.. The drow, as they were now named, have always believed that they were punished for being “successful” and have remembered this perceived slight and vowed eternal revenge, still claiming the surface world as rightfully theirs.

After the so-called “Descent”Template:Fact the warlike drow immediately began violently trying to establish their own territories in the Underdark around -9600 DR. They stole dwarven magical items and used them against their former masters, creating the enmity that still exists to this day. They also seized the gold dwarf cavern of Bhaerynden, creating the kingdom of Telantiwar. The drow then began fighting amongst themselves, trying to establish a single ruler. The attempt failed, only resulting in a great magical explosion that destroyed this large cavern, forming the Great Rift.

The surviving nobles took what they could and left to establish their own realms elsewhere in the Underdark. This time was known as the Scattering and produced most of the cities in which the drow live to this day, such as Sshamath, founded beneath the Far Hills in -4973 DR, Menzoberranzan, founded in -3917 DR, and Ched Nasad, founded in -3843 DR.


Drow live in the Underdark, to which they were driven following the Crown Wars. Here, drow city-states are spread throughout the world, bastions of evil and demonic dealings sanctioned by the Spider Queen. Of all the Underdark races, drow are the most feared due to the combination of their widespread presence and immense power. The most famous Underdark bastion of all is Menzoberranzan, one of the dark centers of Lolth’s worship.

Known drow cities:


Most drow speak a drow version of Elvish as well as Undercommon, and a language suitable for the region in which they live, such as Abyssal, Common, Draconic, or Goblin. It is quite common for the Drow to learn the language spoken on the surface beneath which they live. All Drow are literate except for their barbarians. Drow Sign Language is commonly known, and is a silent language that consists of hand signals and facial expressions. There is no equivalent written or spoken form of this language.