Note: This creature was originally published in AD&D 2nd edition
Drow characters are extremely intelligent, charismatic and dexterous, but share surface elves' comparative frailty and slight frames. Females tend to be bigger and stronger than males. Drow are characterized by white or silver hair and obsidian black skin. Their eyes are red (or rarely gray, violet, or yellow) in darkness and green in normal light. Drow have several kinds of innate spell powers and spell resistance. This is balanced by their weakness in daylight. Also, drow weapons and armor (usually made of adamantite or another metal unique to the Underdark) slowly lose their magical properties if exposed to the sun. Adamantite disintegrates upon exposure to sunlight unless specifically treated. Drow also employ the unusual hand crossbow, firing small, though very lethal, darts. Half-drow are the result of crossbreeding between another race and a drow, and share characteristics of both. (The term "half-drow" usually refers to one who is half drow and half human.) Half-drow are also generally evil; however, half-drow of differing alignments are more common than non-evil full drow.
Drow males are commonly wizards or fighters. Females are almost always clerics and almost never wizards.
The drow were forced underground in what is now known as the Underdark after the great war amongst the elves, a vast system of caverns and tunnels spanning much of the continent.The drow live in city-states in the Underdark, becoming one of the most powerful races therein.
The drow are well adapted to seeing in the dark, and they loathe, are terrified of, and are easily blinded by the light of the surface. Some magic weapons, armor, and various other items of the drow disintegrate on contact with sunlight.
Drow society is primarily matriarchal, with priestesses of their evil spider goddess Lolth (sometimes spelled Lloth) in the highest seats of power. Males are considered inferior to females within drow society, and while some males may be respected if they are powerful wizards, they are never allowed to rule. The drow sometimes use their dark arts to turn humanoid slaves into living sculptures.
Drow society is based upon violence, murder, cunning, and the philosophy that only the strong survive (though in Drow tongue, a quirk of the language creates a reversal of cause-and-effect; more correctly, it can be translated as "those who survive are strong"). Hence, most Drow plot endlessly to murder or otherwise incapacitate their rivals and enemy Drow using deceit and betrayal. Drow, particularly in higher positions, are constantly wary of assassins and the like. One of the quirks of this constant infighting is the relatively short lifespan of the average Drow. While being just as long lived as their surface cousins, living as long as a thousand years; you are very unlikely to meet an elderly Drow. Consequently, they are the only race of Elves that matches the fertility of 'lesser' races, such as humans. Their society, as a whole, is seemingly nonviable. The only reason they do not murder themselves to extinction is by the will of Lolth, working primarily through her clergy. Lolth does not tolerate any Drow that threaten to bring down her society, and the clergy make certain that perpetrators cease their destructive actions by either threatening or killing them, depending on her mood and how likely it is to be a successful deterrent.
There are exceptions to the rule, of course. Some communities of drow worship other gods (like Vhaeraun or Eilistraee), and thus, their hierarchy changes, reverses the roles of males and females, or (such as in the case of Eilastree) even approaching something like a workable, progressive society.
Most drow societies hate surface elves, but will wage war with almost any surface race and other subterranean races, such as mind flayers, svirfneblin, duergar, kuo-toa, dwarves, and orcs, for spoils and territory.
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