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Blackhawk748
2016-12-22, 06:28 PM
Just what it says on the tin. Im working on a setting where Races dont have a Moral alignment tag, just countries of origin. I've already got Orcs done (they're basically just Vikings) and now im curious about Dark Elves. Things i figure they'd keep:

Matriarchal Structure
Spider Fixation
Intra House Politics

And thats it. Then again those are the three big things that define Drow anyway....

Ravinsild
2016-12-22, 06:31 PM
Just what it says on the tin. Im working on a setting where Races dont have a Moral alignment tag, just countries of origin. I've already got Orcs done (they're basically just Vikings) and now im curious about Dark Elves. Things i figure they'd keep:

Matriarchal Structure
Spider Fixation
Intra House Politics

And thats it. Then again those are the three big things that define Drow anyway....

Literally Dunmer. Their main goddess tells them what to do Alexandria or whatever. They have all the petty politics and so forth. Not really a spider fixation but take Dunmer from Elder Scrolls Online and make them love spiders. GG.

I mean they do take slaves and people don't like them sometimes but they're not inherently super evil like Drow. More just kind of...arrogant and think they're better than everyone else. They're basically just unpleasant but they don't have the level of super evil kill all surface dwellers that Drow have.

Bad Wolf
2016-12-22, 06:35 PM
Alexandria's been gone for a while. They're back to Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala. But yeah, Dunmer are basically non-evil Drow.

Darth Ultron
2016-12-22, 06:47 PM
Well, if your world does not have good or evil and everything just ''is'', then Drow Society would be the same as one in a good/evil world. Except in your world whatever the drow do does not matter, unless someone for some reason says it does, or something like that.

So you still ave the female dominated society, nobles and noble houses, internal and external war, worship of spiders and the spider queen, slaves, poison and pointy ears.

Durkoala
2016-12-22, 06:49 PM
If you want to make them more benevolent, you could have them be very curious and polite to outsiders. Provided a stanger doesn't knowingly violate any major rules, they're kept out of the usual feuding (or possibly declared an honorary house member for the duration of their stay, with perhaps a bit less violence directed towards them than a normal drow would recieve. All "family ties" are forgotten when they leave the drow and they may even "join" a different house on their return. Foreigners are strange and are allowed a bit of leeway, after all.) and generally treated as honoured guests. They attract crowds to hear their tales of outside worlds and must put up with being asked many questions about life beyond the Drow territories. They leave unharmed, often with a token to prevent them from being slain by any patrols or slaving parties on the way out.

Foreign objects are highly prized as status symbols and are often used in displays of wealth. Despite this curiousity of the outside world, few drow actually travel out of their borders.

I'm sorry, I don't actually know much about drows.

Blackhawk748
2016-12-22, 07:08 PM
Well, if your world does not have good or evil and everything just ''is'', then Drow Society would be the same as one in a good/evil world. Except in your world whatever the drow do does not matter, unless someone for some reason says it does, or something like that.

So you still ave the female dominated society, nobles and noble houses, internal and external war, worship of spiders and the spider queen, slaves, poison and pointy ears.

I think you misunderstand, im dropping Races moral alignments, and attributing alignments to societies. So normal Drow Society is Evil Drow Society.


If you want to make them more benevolent, you could have them be very curious and polite to outsiders. Provided a stanger doesn't knowingly violate any major rules, they're kept out of the usual feuding (or possibly declared an honorary house member for the duration of their stay, with perhaps a bit less violence directed towards them than a normal drow would recieve. All "family ties" are forgotten when they leave the drow and they may even "join" a different house on their return. Foreigners are strange and are allowed a bit of leeway, after all.) and generally treated as honoured guests. They attract crowds to hear their tales of outside worlds and must put up with being asked many questions about life beyond the Drow territories. They leave unharmed, often with a token to prevent them from being slain by any patrols or slaving parties on the way out.

Foreign objects are highly prized as status symbols and are often used in displays of wealth. Despite this curiousity of the outside world, few drow actually travel out of their borders.

I'm sorry, I don't actually know much about drows.

Thats...kinda neat actually.

Berenger
2016-12-22, 07:09 PM
Renaissance Italian City States with nobles dwelling in residential towers, giant spiders spinning nets between those towers, stilettos, rapiers, backstabbing, feuds, mercenary warfare, decadence, politics, trade and banking, art, religious strife, currupt clerics, raving mad clerics, Niccolà Driavelli and Leonardo da Mad.

Darth Ultron
2016-12-22, 08:23 PM
I think you misunderstand, im dropping Races moral alignments, and attributing alignments to societies. So normal Drow Society is Evil Drow Society.


I don't understand what your doing. So you want to say drow are not evil but have an evil society?

Blackhawk748
2016-12-22, 08:33 PM
I don't understand what your doing. So you want to say drow are not evil but have an evil society?

Yes, because not all Drow subscribe to that society, its something thats always bugged me about DnD. Its always assumed that each race has one society, except Humans, and id like to change that. So i just wanted to see what would happen if you took the Drow (who's default society is very evil) and took the evil out of it.

Millstone85
2016-12-22, 08:35 PM
Have the followers of Eilistraee ever had a whole city to themselves?

Darth Ultron
2016-12-22, 09:13 PM
So i just wanted to see what would happen if you took the Drow (who's default society is very evil) and took the evil out of it.

So what would a good or neutral drow society be like? Kinda like other elves. So I guess your just asking ''what would a Drow society that was not like the dealt D&D one be like''?

So you just want ''what might an underground elf society be like?"

Blackhawk748
2016-12-22, 09:25 PM
So what would a good or neutral drow society be like? Kinda like other elves. So I guess your just asking ''what would a Drow society that was not like the dealt D&D one be like''?

So you just want ''what might an underground elf society be like?"

By and large. I figure that they would still have the 3 things listed in the OP as those things dont have a moral connotation.

Darth Ultron
2016-12-22, 10:19 PM
By and large. I figure that they would still have the 3 things listed in the OP as those things dont have a moral connotation.

Not really though, ''shadow'' elf society could be anything. Like:

Dwarven Slaves: Long ago they were captured and enslaved by dwarves, but eventually escaped. Now they live under ground. They ave a very martial, militarist culture. All sadow elves are equal to each other always. All shadow elves are free, and they live chaotic life styles...to ''never again'' be slaves. They worship the God of Ooze, as ooze is the perfect freedom from a physical body.

SethoMarkus
2016-12-23, 01:04 AM
I admit I have a bit of difficulty separating the core attributes mentioned in the OP from Evil, as far as the Drow are concerned.

The Matriarchal Society was formed because of their worship of Lolth. I suppose the tradition could be so ingrained that even post-Lolth worship the Drow would keep a Matriarchal society, but I don't think they would favor one sex over the other if the Drow were to develope independent from any cults od Lolth. (Although I do think it is a fairly nice distinguishing feature of the Drow.)

Likewise, the fascination with spiders comes from their worship of Lolth. I'm not sure that a good aligned, or even neutral aligned, Drow society would have any reason to maintain their arachnid fetish other than as a continuation of tradition in a post-Lolth society (as opposed to a Drow society that developed independently).

The inter- and intra-hoise rivalries and scheming and aggressive politics is a little easier to separate from Lolth, at least. The Drow can just be naturally ambitious and assertive. Good aligned Drow societies attempt to one-up each other with philanthropy and community improvement projects, while Neutral or soft evil Drow societies would stick more to beurocratic upheavals rather than assassination and cloak-and-dagger tactics.

Personally, I always saw the two biggest non-alignment traits of the Drow as their ambition and their pursuit of perfection.

It isn't enough to be the beat sculptor around, you need to have perfect, flawless sculptures.

It isn't enough to be the best swordsman around, your form must be perfect, the physical embodiment of the martial craft of that weapon.

It isn't enough to be the most beautiful family, yours must be pefection of physical beauty, that others, even other Elves or Celestial beings, look as crude, ugly beasts beside you.

When I think of Drow, I think of the mastery of the arts that all Elves seek, but turned up even further. The Drow are ambitious and aggressive in their pursuit of bettering themselves. Some are corrupted by this, their hearts turning dark and twisted by this ambition, willing to do anything to achieve this goal. Others have their resolve strengthened, seeing no shortcuts on their path; they must complete the journey alone, and they must make it to the top. Good Drow are paragons of virtue (if arrogant), and Evil Drow are the vilest creatures this side of Baator.

At least this is how I see them.

Inevitability
2016-12-23, 02:55 AM
Have the followers of Eilistraee ever had a whole city to themselves?

That does away with a whole lot of stuff OP wanted to keep, though. For one, I doubt Eilistraee's followers are terribly big on spiders.

Kyberwulf
2016-12-23, 03:15 AM
I think it would operate like a qusifeudal Japaneseesque setting. I mean you got your houses. ie clans. You got your worrying about you status in house and in the societal food chain. You standards for profections. Just change the largely male dominate aspects to females. Slap spiders on all the samurai armor. Boom you are good to go.

russdm
2016-12-23, 03:44 AM
Wouldn't a non-evil drow society end up just being Detroit or Chicago? Or just the standard elf village? Because isn't that they are anyway? Black Elves? Or any Italian City when Italy didn't exist? Considering what they are obsessed with, Italian City-States seem to apply the most.

I think that the Drow are a proper reflection of Game Thrones, but one that happens in a single city all of the time.

They don't resemble feudal Japan enough, because of the Shogun-Emperor relationship. There is no direct relation of that relationship in Drow Society, because the city leader is usually the top cleric. Plus, you have the caste system within Japanese society which isn't really present among Drow. At most, you get Houses and Clans, but none of what shaped the relationships within Japanese houses/clans are possible in Drow Society. Bushido, Loyalty play big parts there, whereas Drow are encouraged across the board to be disloyal even to other house mates.

You are trying to shoe-horn a society (Drow) into another (Any fantasy representation of Feudal Japan) when the comparison simply fails. You would have to rip out nearly everything that fits in your fantasy feudal Japan to make it even work.

Kyberwulf
2016-12-23, 04:38 AM
Except there is a direct relationship. I assume the gods would still have some forms of control. For this drow world to work the gods control would have to be diminished somehow. The best way for that to work would be for one hourselves to claim the highest status. They would achieve this by claiming Devine right and then forcing control of the society.

I am sure with the gods losing most of their control they could send an avatar down to rule as the emperor. This avatar could appoint the shogun, as the top ruling house. Drow society is a caste system.

The main point of drow society isn't to just be evil. It's to be evil while maintaining the face of order. It's about going power whatever the means while looking like you are serving a greater being.

russdm
2016-12-23, 05:03 AM
The main point of drow society isn't to just be evil. It's to be evil while maintaining the face of order. It's about going power whatever the means while looking like you are serving a greater being.

You are completely forgetting about Honor, Duty, Loyalty in Feudal Japanese society and how important it is. The story of the 47 Ronin directly reflects that. In Drow society, the 47 ronin would not be celebrated, much less exist or even occur as a story. The Drow are not like that at all.

In Feudal Japan, it was "Death before Dishonor" at times, and while not all Samurai actually ever lived up to that, they aspired to it. Any Feudal Japan representation is going to have that, while Drow never would. Accepting death for your lord/master, being that loyal...Neither are parts of Drow Culture, which is all about Chronic Back-stabbing.

Shoguns were more recognized by the Emperor, then appointed. And the Shogun almost always controlled the Emperor despite being subservient. That wouldn't work with Drow.

You state what is the main point of Drow society. That main point is completely at odds with what the main point of what Feudal Japanese society was. The closest that would fit would be either feuding Italian city state houses or Vikings or any real society where Might makes Right.

Japanese Houses/Clans controlled individual lands that could be taken away from them, and had their own private armies. They also had to be loyal to the Shogun or risk losing everything. One Tokugawa Shogun demanded that other Daimyo stay at Edo for certain periods then leave hostages when not in attendance. A system that like would never work among Drow. Few if any Daimyo defied the Shogun on this matter. The Drow would never accept it to begin with.

There is no earth based historical society that Drow are remotely like beyond City-states with warring houses. Because that's Drow are if you remove anything fantasy about them.

The easiest way to understand this is to consider: A Samurai's highest aspiration is to die in service of his lord demonstrating his loyalty; a Drow's highest aspiration is crushing his/her enemies and getting as high a position the Drow can.

With that, how could Drow ever be like any fantasy representation of feudal Japan without removing everything that makes the fantasy representation an actual fantasy representation of feudal Japan?

The amount of changes required means that you simply no longer are using a fantasy representation of Feudal Japan but something else entirely.

Professor Chimp
2016-12-23, 05:45 AM
I suppose non-evil Drow societies as a whole would probably lean more towards the chaotic neutral end of the spectrum. They'd probably be much less treacherous and murderous, but would still retain a lot of the typical Drow characteristics, since old habits die hard, except they're given a more neutral to benign spin.

So they would probably still have a superiority complex and behave arrogantly and haughty towards other races, maybe unintended. They'd be ambitious as ever and highly competitive, perhaps manifesting in them desiring a leadership role in international politics, or perhaps economic dominance, or produce the finest weapons and warriors. They could still be matriarchical, with a gender gap that is smaller and less uniform leadership, but men still tend to defer to the women in many things. They might not have the House structure of standard Drow, but perhaps they are divided into factions along philosophical or political lines instead: for example, supremacist conservatives that want to go back to the old ways, isolationist moderates that just want to go it alone, and radical progressives that want integration and cooperation with the rest of the world. And so on.

Millstone85
2016-12-23, 06:41 AM
That does away with a whole lot of stuff OP wanted to keep, though. For one, I doubt Eilistraee's followers are terribly big on spiders.I know they moved back to forests and everything, but I was just wondering if they had new traditions too.


The Matriarchal Society was formed because of their worship of Lolth. I suppose the tradition could be so ingrained that even post-Lolth worship the Drow would keep a Matriarchal society, but I don't think they would favor one sex over the other if the Drow were to develope independent from any cults od Lolth. (Although I do think it is a fairly nice distinguishing feature of the Drow.)

Likewise, the fascination with spiders comes from their worship of Lolth. I'm not sure that a good aligned, or even neutral aligned, Drow society would have any reason to maintain their arachnid fetish other than as a continuation of tradition in a post-Lolth society (as opposed to a Drow society that developed independently).Are we sure Lolth even exist in the setting envisioned by the OP, or that she isn't herself more nuanced like the drow there?

What is interesting with drow matriarchy is that it is built on these gender roles: males are warriors and wizards, females are politicians and clerics. When questioned on the matter, a drow of either sex might claim that each gender is just doing what it is best at and ultimately the equal of the other. They might even compare it to human "housewives", except with a larger notion of what a house is.

cobaltstarfire
2016-12-23, 08:44 AM
If we're talking a society that never had Lloth or the same evil streak, they could probably be Matriarchal and Matrilineal based souly on the females being larger and more aggressive than the males. They could still hold spiders in high regard because the spiders can still resemble drow without being tied to Lloth. Neither of these things are necessarily evil.

I think SethoMarkus is right on target for the rest though, about them being very ambitious, and having the houses bicker and fight with each other like in Renaissance Italy.

Cluedrew
2016-12-23, 12:57 PM
On Lolth: Where does Lolth fit into this? Most people just seem to be assuming she is gone (... or maybe not), but is she? Has she changed, been removed or is not "the god of Drow" she is by default? There are other ways the matriarchal society could of happened, the longer lives and lower birthrates of elves already gives them an advantage, so she doesn't have to be any of these things in my opinion.


The amount of changes required means that you simply no longer are using a fantasy representation of Feudal Japan but something else entirely.Were the Drow ever a fantasy representation of Feudal Japan? I can see a few parallels but there are also so many differences. To me it isn't pseudo-Japan any more than it is pseudo-Native Americans/First Nations (which had some matriarchal tribes).

SethoMarkus
2016-12-23, 01:01 PM
Are we sure Lolth even exist in the setting envisioned by the OP, or that she isn't herself more nuanced like the drow there?


That was actually part of the point I was trying to make. Much of what I see making the Drow both Evil and distinct from other Elves comes directly from their worship of Lolth.

Remove Lolth as a factor, either because she does not exist or because a group of Drow never worshipped her to begin with, and I really don't know what else would make the Drow different from, say, High Elves, other than possibly being more ambitious and assertive.

I can certainly see spiders symbolism and Matriarchal based society as parts of their racial identity, but both seem a little shoe-horned in without Lolth, even if another Evil deity was worshipped. To note, I am in favor of keeping those aspects in, as I find them interesting, but I usually try to think of how and why a culture developed, rather than just what they look like now.

Millstone85
2016-12-23, 01:29 PM
They worship the God of Ooze, as ooze is the perfect freedom from a physical body.
Are we sure Lolth even exist in the setting envisioned by the OP, or that she isn't herself more nuanced like the drow there?
Remove Lolth as a factor, either because she does not exist or because a group of Drow never worshipped her to begin with, and I really don't know what else would make the Drow different from, say, High Elves, other than possibly being more ambitious and assertive.And what do you think of the part about adapting Lolth herself to this version of the drow? Eh, how about putting a good or neutral spin on the whole drow pantheon?

http://img11.deviantart.net/0167/i/2012/265/5/5/the_drow_pantheon_by_xtianayuni-d5flcdd.jpg (http://xtianayuni.deviantart.com/art/The-Drow-Pantheon-328520929)http://orig13.deviantart.net/9fa7/f/2013/007/1/f/lolth_by_agentscarlet-d5qt5do.jpg (http://www.deviantart.com/art/Lolth-347360892)http://i47.servimg.com/u/f47/12/47/14/48/gaunh10.jpg


To note, I am in favor of keeping those aspects in, as I find them interesting, but I usually try to think of how and why a culture developed, rather than just what they look like now.Religious matters aside, why not just treat the drow as underdark elves, like there are wood elves, sea elves, sky elves and probably other elven subraces that have taken on an appearance and culture unique to their environment?

2D8HP
2016-12-23, 02:22 PM
I don't understand what your doing. So you want to say drow are not evil but have an evil society?


Yes, because not all Drow subscribe to that society, its something thats always bugged me about DnD. Its always assumed that each race has one society, except Humans, and id like to change that. So i just wanted to see what would happen if you took the Drow (who's default society is very evil) and took the evil out of it.


So what would a good or neutral drow society be like? Kinda like other elves. So I guess your just asking ''what would a Drow society that was not like the dealt D&D one be like''?

So you just want ''what might an underground elf society be like?"

IIRC in the original 1978 "Vault of the Drow" adventure, commonners Drow were mostly neutral it was the Nobility that was evil (also Gygax spelled their goddess name as Lloth, it was Greenwood who changed it to Lolth).

Now more seriously:


for the love of Lolth's blue panties clearly it is the so-called "Elves" of the surface world and with their love of "nature" who deny the true goddess that are the evil ones.

I mean obviously.

http://41.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ll0g7rFdyF1qjzxz6o1_500.png

SethoMarkus
2016-12-23, 03:24 PM
Religious matters aside, why not just treat the drow as underdark elves, like there are wood elves, sea elves, sky elves and probably other elven subraces that have taken on an appearance and culture unique to their environment?

That's actually how I would see the Drow as a non-Evil culture. Elves that live underground.

As for the first bit of your post, it would really depend on the portfolios and objectives of the non-Evil "Dark" Drow pantheon. When I refer to Lolth (or I guess it should be Llolth?), I generally mean her as a Chaotic Evil deity.

So instead, say, Llolth was a Chaotic Neutral deity of Darkness, Spiders, Drow, Chaos, and maybe even Assassination (though at skirts awfully close to evil), then I suppose a highly religious Drow society would be Matriarchal and obsessed with spiders without being Evil, remaining largely unchanged from "as-published", just with the death, murder, and wickedness toned back.

2D8HP
2016-12-23, 03:38 PM
That's actually how I would see the Drow as a non-Evil culture. Elves that live undergroundThe Elves of our world do live underground, and you don't want their attention.

See here (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27907358).

Millstone85
2016-12-23, 03:48 PM
http://41.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ll0g7rFdyF1qjzxz6o1_500.pnghttp://4.bp.blogspot.com/-u8gPpGexKxo/UVkTXaJ_NtI/AAAAAAAABCc/SLzdatYpbGE/s1600/interwebzpits.jpg
Now, I realise that it could seem strange for the standard evil drow society to also exist in the setting if Lolth isn't so evil. But well, different drow could have different beliefs about what sort of goddess she really is, and the players might never learn which vision if any is true.

If they do learn it, then:
* Demonic cults might have usurped her name.
* Some drow might be calling to the goddess she once was.
* "She" may be many spirits, of the crawling fauna of the Underdark.
* Or...
So instead, say, Llolth was a Chaotic Neutral deity of Darkness, Spiders, Drow, Chaos, and maybe even Assassination (though at skirts awfully close to evil), then I suppose a highly religious Drow society would be Matriarchal and obsessed with spiders without being Evil, remaining largely unchanged from "as-published", just with the death, murder, and wickedness toned back.I guess a chaotic neutral deity could inspire a wide range of societies.

Blackhawk748
2016-12-23, 05:00 PM
Wow guys thanks for all the input, and honestly i hadnt thought of where Lolth sits in the setting as i havent given much thought to gods.

SethoMarkus
2016-12-23, 05:24 PM
The Elves of our world do live underground, and you don't want their attention.

See here (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27907358).

Oh, I am very aware of the mischievous and downright nasty elves and fae of the world.:smallwink:

It is the same with the Tuath Dé Dannan, Aos Sí, and Sidhe hills of Celtic/Irish lore. (Although I would probably prefer to cross the Aos Sí than the Huldufólk.)

Wardog
2016-12-24, 04:28 AM
Likewise, the fascination with spiders comes from their worship of Lolth. I'm not sure that a good aligned, or even neutral aligned, Drow society would have any reason to maintain their arachnid fetish other than as a continuation of tradition in a post-Lolth society (as opposed to a Drow society that developed independently).


Nothing evil about spiders.

They prey on harmful insects.

Some of them are even cute. (https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=cute+spiders&client=firefox-b&biw=1088&bih=458&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiNqeLyv4zRAhWeMlAKHd4oAQoQsAQIGQ)

Some of them dance. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_yYC5r8xMI)
Another video (http://www.theverge.com/2015/7/30/9073005/cute-spider-gifs-Maratus-personatus)

THis is a masterly crafted golden spider-silk cape. All craftdwarfship is of the highest quality. (http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/g/golden-spider-silk/)


No reason for people with a spider-fixation to be evil. No reasonfor a spider godess to be evil either.

Millstone85
2016-12-24, 07:21 AM
No reason for people with a spider-fixation to be evil. No reasonfor a spider godess to be evil either.http://i.imgur.com/aJIsbnZ.png

Inevitability
2016-12-24, 08:21 AM
http://i.imgur.com/aJIsbnZ.png

Ah, 4e's beastmaster. Great art, great concept, horrible execution.

SethoMarkus
2016-12-24, 08:57 AM
Nothing evil about spiders.

They prey on harmful insects.

Some of them are even cute. (https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=cute+spiders&client=firefox-b&biw=1088&bih=458&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiNqeLyv4zRAhWeMlAKHd4oAQoQsAQIGQ)

Some of them dance. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_yYC5r8xMI)
Another video (http://www.theverge.com/2015/7/30/9073005/cute-spider-gifs-Maratus-personatus)

THis is a masterly crafted golden spider-silk cape. All craftdwarfship is of the highest quality. (http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/g/golden-spider-silk/)


No reason for people with a spider-fixation to be evil. No reasonfor a spider godess to be evil either.

I... never said they were Evil for being obsessed with spiders? My point was that Drow are obsessed with spiders because of their worship of Llolth. They are also Evil for their worship of Llolth (in the default settings with Llolth as an Evil deity). I just don't see any reason outside of Llolth worship that they would be obsessed with spiders. Certainly you can create other reasons for their spider obsession. Perhaps in your setting they were obsessed with spiders first and that is what drew them to Llolth in the first place? "Wait, you're a goddess of spiders? We LOVE spiders! Sign us up!"

Cluedrew
2016-12-24, 09:13 AM
To SethoMarkus: You said that good/neutral drow would be less likely to like spiders. I think you meant because they don't worship Lolth. The jury is still out (aka Blackhawk748) on what has happened to Lolth. She may be a good god connected to protection and home, represented by the spider's web.

Which would explain actually why drow rarely travel. They build their web, it defends them from outsiders and gives their children a place to grow. They expand and refine it, but they rarely leave it.

Millstone85
2016-12-24, 09:30 AM
I... never said they were Evil for being obsessed with spiders? My point was that Drow are obsessed with spiders because of their worship of Llolth. They are also Evil for their worship of Llolth (in the default settings with Llolth as an Evil deity).For what it is worth, that's how I understood what you said.
I just really wanted to post that picture of an arachnid beast companion.


Ah, 4e's beastmaster. Great art, great concept, horrible execution.That's too true.

Berenger
2016-12-24, 10:32 AM
To SethoMarkus
Which would explain actually why drow rarely travel. They build their web, it defends them from outsiders and gives their children a place to grow. They expand and refine it, but they rarely leave it.

Make "The Net" a centerpiece of their mindset. The net should not be static, it should be expanding. Drow clerics travel to spread the faith and establish a net of congregations across the continent. Drow merchants travel to foreign cities, establish a small drow community, gather contacts or information and add the place to the drow trading network and move on the the next city when their operations in this city run smoothly. The military operates a net of small forts within a day's march of another or a net of signalling towers.

SethoMarkus
2016-12-24, 11:25 AM
To SethoMarkus: You said that good/neutral drow would be less likely to like spiders. I think you meant because they don't worship Lolth. The jury is still out (aka Blackhawk748) on what has happened to Lolth. She may be a good god connected to protection and home, represented by the spider's web.

Which would explain actually why drow rarely travel. They build their web, it defends them from outsiders and gives their children a place to grow. They expand and refine it, but they rarely leave it.


Make "The Net" a centerpiece of their mindset. The net should not be static, it should be expanding. Drow clerics travel to spread the faith and establish a net of congregations across the continent. Drow merchants travel to foreign cities, establish a small drow community, gather contacts or information and add the place to the drow trading network and move on the the next city when their operations in this city run smoothly. The military operates a net of small forts within a day's march of another or a net of signalling towers.

I really like both of those ideas. Yeah, if Llolth is changed, then Drow society would change as well. They are very theocrtic, after all.

Actually, it would be interesting to see two factions and cults of Llolth diametrically opposed to one another, both convinved the others' image of Llolth is incorrect. I believe another poster offered up a similar idea, I'll have to go back and reread...

Kyberwulf
2016-12-24, 01:00 PM
Been busy the past couple days, and didn't want to input from my phone again.

I think you highly romanticize Japanese lore and it's history. That would be like looking at Knights and kingdoms and thinking of them as nothing but chivalrous. If you look into the past of Japan you will see how Brutal it's history was in reality.

If you look into the Legend of the 5 rings and Rokugan settings, I think you would find the perfect world for non-evil Drow.

Instead of the Taintlands, you can have the old Pantheon of the Drow fighting to regain control of their people. Lolth can be both the Amaterasu character, and the Darkness. I think that would fit her the best. Using her position as both the good god and evil one, to keep pitting her followers against each other to make them the best. I would make it so that her plan is backfiring, and she is losing control. That is why they can work their way from being a totally evil race.

Each of the clans can be one of the great houses. Even in Rokugan, people are always fighting and backstabbing for position. All the while trying their damnest to look like the most honorable. In turn, each Drow would fight for the honor of their house.

Otherwise.. Go with Night Elves from wow. That's who they are actually. The creators where like.. what would a non evil Drow look like, so they made them. Which btw. I think they actually put Drow into Wow. The new area has a bunch of Night Elves that are addicted to magic.

Beleriphon
2016-12-24, 01:26 PM
Another thought about drow: do what Eberron did. They have a weird, foreign far away society in a harsh, dangerous place where most of the things that live around them are physically more powerful that an individual drow. What that means is that drow society needs to be highly regimented, and you darn well do what your leaders tell you otherwise everybody dies horribly.

Blackhawk748
2016-12-24, 02:47 PM
To SethoMarkus: You said that good/neutral drow would be less likely to like spiders. I think you meant because they don't worship Lolth. The jury is still out (aka Blackhawk748) on what has happened to Lolth. She may be a good god connected to protection and home, represented by the spider's web.

Which would explain actually why drow rarely travel. They build their web, it defends them from outsiders and gives their children a place to grow. They expand and refine it, but they rarely leave it.

I really like this. Im gonna use it.

Irennan
2016-12-24, 03:04 PM
Have the followers of Eilistraee ever had a whole city to themselves?

Yes, they used to have a whole kingdom (Miyeritar) actually, one of the most developed ones at that, before the High Elves of Aryvandaar destroyed it and exterminated a lot of of them.

As of the current era, they have a whole lot of their own traditions/beliefs (with their own take on marriages, or some rituals that make them look like dark elven Santa's) some of which tend to mirror those of Miyeritar, and they retain a matriarcal organization and a strong attachment to their goddess. You can read about those here:
- http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Church_of_Eilistraee
- http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Eilistraee


---

I think that a non evil drow society wouldn't be *that* different from a non evil human one. Political conflicts and backstabbing are totally our thing as well, perhaps you could make them less about murdering your opponent, and more about framing them, ruining their image while promoting yours, or things along those lines. More subtle ways to acquire power and influence. We too love beauty and art like the drow do, although thy would appreciate and value it more than we do, as a cultural thing. Maybe some artist would use their art as yet another tool of propaganda in their political game (as it happens among us as well).

Matriarchy could be a cultural thing: drow women are biologically stronger, or they could be seen as naturally more fitting as leaders than males are. Maybe that would reflect the hierarchy of the pantheon: as Lolth is the chief goddess, and the male gods are in a position of subordination, so women would be the preferred rulers. Males could take the role of soldiers, artisans, and specialists as a general rule (as they do in the Eilistraeean communities)

As others proposed, a defining trait of the drow is their attachment to their deities, so you could use and tweak the Forgotten Realms drow Pantheon to fit your view and (get rid of Ghuanadaur, I don't even know why he's a drow deity to begin with, or why anyone who would follow him, since his dogma literally is "feed me"). Make Lolth a deity about streght, ambition and about seizing your future, and make the drow society reflect that. Get rid of the random edgy nonsensical dogma that she has in canon, and make her priestesses push for a strong meritocracy. The spider could still be her symbol, since spiders represent cunning, patience, skill, etc.. all traits that she would value. Her priestesses would be the main rulers and decision-makers of your society, although males could still seize power, if they have the required skills (but they would likely meet a strong opposition).

Eilistraee could be what she was in Miyeritar, before it was destroyed and the drow banished: the free spirited and kind hearted daughter of Lolth, a goddess of art and artists, encouraging people to create beauty, enjoy life, and make it flourish. She and her priestesses can offer shelter and care of those who are rejected by Lolth's vision (since Eilistraee teaches acceptance, and to help everyone in need), or simply offer confort to anyone who needs it. They would be the one involved in revelries, marriages, and stuff like that. They would also be pushing for stronger relationship with other races, and would probably be in conflict (not in the usual Lolthite sense of an open, bloody conflict) with the ruling priestesses of Lolth who would likely be pushing for an expansionistic approach. Some of them would belong to an order of sword-wielding warrior priestesses contributing to the defense of drow settlements.

Vhaeraun, the proud son of Lolth, would be the only deity who specifically takes care of males. He would be eager to challenge the authority of his mother. You could have his followers do the same, with artisans, wizards and specialists using the importance of their contribution to their soceity as a tool to raise in ranks and power and push for more male taking position as leaders. A good number of males could therefore make their unsatisfaction known

Selvetarm would be the deity of war and warriors, as he is in canon.

Kiaransalee could be the deity of the dead and of vengeance (like she is in canon), but also of justice. Her priests and priestesses would take care of the dead (they would be respected and maybe even venerated alongside the gods, like a sort of ancestor worship) and could also be judges. An eye of an eye would be the kind of laws they'd be pushing for (which seems fitting for a drow society).

Cluedrew
2016-12-24, 09:22 PM
To Blackhawk748: Thank-you, glad you like it.

Herobizkit
2016-12-24, 10:47 PM
Pretty much like this. (http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/16991/GAZ13-The-Shadow-Elves-Basic?it=1)

In that supplement, Shadow Elves are Shamanic and more like underground Wild Elves minus the xenophobia.

Blackhawk748
2016-12-24, 11:13 PM
Pretty much like this. (http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/16991/GAZ13-The-Shadow-Elves-Basic?it=1)

In that supplement, Shadow Elves are Shamanic and more like underground Wild Elves minus the xenophobia.

Oooh Mystara. Been awhile since i looked at that.

tomandtish
2016-12-25, 12:09 AM
IIRC in the original 1978 "Vault of the Drow" adventure, commonners Drow were mostly neutral it was the Nobility that was evil (also Gygax spelled their goddess name as Lloth, it was Greenwood who changed it to Lolth).



Was curious about that, as it didn't match what I remembered, so pulled out my copy. Drow were default CE. You did have the possibility of running into a group of non-evil "rakes" (basically defined as outcasts), but they were clearly the exceptions.

In fact, one thing I had forgotten was that none of the modules in that series had alignment noted in the stats. It was assumed that everyone was either the default alignment for the race, or that the descriptor would make it obvious.


That was actually part of the point I was trying to make. Much of what I see making the Drow both Evil and distinct from other Elves comes directly from their worship of Lolth.

Remove Lolth as a factor, either because she does not exist or because a group of Drow never worshipped her to begin with, and I really don't know what else would make the Drow different from, say, High Elves, other than possibly being more ambitious and assertive.


More importantly, the whole reason Drow exist is because they were the evil, selfish ones who were eventually kicked out of elvish society anyway. Whether Lolth was part of that or came along after depends on which world you are in (part of it in FR, but came along after in Greyhawk). So if you decide you have Drow but not evil, you pretty much have to change their origin story, or else changing elves as well (why were they kicked out if not evil)?

Irennan
2016-12-25, 12:25 AM
More importantly, the whole reason Drow exist is because they were the evil, selfish ones who were eventually kicked out of elvish society anyway. Whether Lolth was part of that or came along after depends on which world you are in (part of it in FR, but came along after in Greyhawk). So if you decide you have Drow but not evil, you pretty much have to change their origin story, or else changing elves as well (why were they kicked out if not evil)?

In the Realms the situation is actually way more ambiguos than that, with the drow being a mixed bag (there was even a whole Realm of followers of Eilistraee, for example), and the elves being too a mixed bag (they came to the point of literally committing genocide--while trying to conquer the abovementioned Eilistraeean drow--for example, during the wars that led to the drow being banished, which were started by the elves unprovoked).

Lolth was actually late to the party on Toril (Eilistraee and Vhaeraun were there before her, when she was still in the Abyss and unknown to the drow. She was helped to gain power by the elves, paradoxically, with their first Sundering--even thoguh neither Lolth nor the elves had planned that), and her worship was indeed the main reason why the drow were banished and became what they are now (http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Dark_Seldarine#History)

In the Realms at least, the drow becoming evil was heavily due to godly influence (Vhaeraun before, although he pushed for ruthlessness rather than evil, and then Lolth with all her pointless cruelty).

Coidzor
2016-12-25, 12:41 AM
Just what it says on the tin. Im working on a setting where Races dont have a Moral alignment tag, just countries of origin. I've already got Orcs done (they're basically just Vikings) and now im curious about Dark Elves. Things i figure they'd keep:

Matriarchal Structure
Spider Fixation
Intra House Politics

And thats it. Then again those are the three big things that define Drow anyway....

So basically Renaissance Italy with Spiders and the Medicis all in dresses.

Millstone85
2016-12-25, 05:43 AM
Yes, they used to have a whole kingdom (Miyeritar) actually, one of the most developed ones at that, before the High Elves of Aryvandaar destroyed it and exterminated a lot of of them.Well, that's not depressing at all. :smallfrown:

I guess another trait of the drow is that they get the worse of the inter-elven hostility.


get rid of Ghuanadaur, I don't even know why he's a drow deity to begin with, or why anyone who would follow him, since his dogma literally is "feed me"Eh, don't you disrespect Lord Smooze! He is a great old one and a god of oozes. That spells "goo" twice! Such signs can not be ignored, I am telling you.

More seriously, Ghaunadaur is the god of aberrations, oozes and outcasts, sometimes all things subterranean. It is not so surprising that he would show up in the pantheon of an iconic Underdark civilization. Kind of like a coastal community worshipping Umberlee or the Kraken. The sacrifices might be meant to appease the capricious entity, and also be a tempting way for some to gain eldritch power.

Plus, the character raises some interesting questions. Can such an alien being really have a love-hate relationship with the goddess of the drow? Did he really turn the once intelligent oozes into what they are now, in a fit of rage that sapped his own divine power, or did That Which Lurks put these minds to sleep as part of some vertiginously patient scheme? Is it a coincidence that Lolth's handmaidens, in their main form of one-eyed tentacled blobs of melted wax, bear such a ressemblance to The Elder Eye?

...

Speaking of the yochlols, how would they, the driders and other drow-related creatures fit into a more neutral lore? Demons and curses are evil manifest. I would suggest druidic traditions pertaining to spiders and oozes.

Blackhawk748
2016-12-25, 09:49 AM
So basically Renaissance Italy with Spiders and the Medicis all in dresses.

This does seem to be the consensus, and it sounds fun at least.


Speaking of the yochlols, how would they, the driders and other drow-related creatures fit into a more neutral lore? Demons and curses are evil manifest. I would suggest druidic traditions pertaining to spiders and oozes.

That thing looks like a Roper made of Ooze. Weird.

Irennan
2016-12-25, 10:57 AM
Well, that's not depressing at all. :smallfrown:

I guess another trait of the drow is that they get the worse of the inter-elven hostility.

They tend to get the short end of the stick, yes.


Eh, don't you disrespect Lord Smooze! He is a great old one and a god of oozes. That spells "goo" twice! Such signs can not be ignored, I am telling you.

More seriously, Ghaunadaur is the god of aberrations, oozes and outcasts, sometimes all things subterranean. It is not so surprising that he would show up in the pantheon of an iconic Underdark civilization. Kind of like a coastal community worshipping Umberlee or the Kraken. The sacrifices might be meant to appease the capricious entity, and also be a tempting way for some to gain eldritch power.

His followers among the drow are really a narrow % of the whole, tho (he, Kiaransalee and Selvetarm lag far behind even Eilistraee and Vhaeraun). He's not the same as Umberlee, whom all sailors pray to in order to avoid her wrath, he's one of those entities that only insane sentient creature would worship. Drow outcasts would more likely turn to Vhaeraun, or Eilistraee--depending on why they are outcasts. That's why I said that he doesn't really fit in the drow pantheon IMO (I mean, there are drow who try to worship the Seldarine, or Shar, or whoever, but those deities aren't included in the pantheon because of that). If he offered something that other deities didn't, or had a more compelling ideals, or at least played the wolf in sheep's clothing and had a drow aspect, I could see it. But like this? Meh.


Plus, the character raises some interesting questions. Can such an alien being really have a love-hate relationship with the goddess of the drow? Did he really turn the once intelligent oozes into what they are now, in a fit of rage that sapped his own divine power, or did That Which Lurks put these minds to sleep as part of some vertiginously patient scheme? Is it a coincidence that Lolth's handmaidens, in their main form of one-eyed tentacled blobs of melted wax, bear such a ressemblance to The Elder Eye?

I've always wondered about that too, tbh. It makes for some interesting campaign hook, for those willing to explore it.

Millstone85
2016-12-25, 06:17 PM
His followers among the drow are really a narrow % of the whole, tho (he, Kiaransalee and Selvetarm lag far behind even Eilistraee and Vhaeraun). He's not the same as Umberlee, whom all sailors pray to in order to avoid her wrath, he's one of those entities that only insane sentient creature would worship.
Lolth. She may be a good god connected to protection and home, represented by the spider's web.

Which would explain actually why drow rarely travel. They build their web, it defends them from outsiders and gives their children a place to grow. They expand and refine it, but they rarely leave it.It may be true that Ghaunadaur doesn't fit so well with drow in canon, but I could see it work in this new setting. Those few drow who travel the untamed Underdark pay homage to That Which Lurks, for they are all too aware that the elegant tapestry of civilization no longer surrounds and protects them.


If he offered something that other deities didn't, or had a more compelling ideals, or at least played the wolf in sheep's clothing and had a drow aspect, I could see it.If by "drow aspect" your mean appearing as a drow, here is the best official picture I found so far.http://i.imgur.com/qxanDbM.pngHe still has tentacles and he might still be mostly ooze, but he seems to have grown himself a head with pointy ears. Or maybe he took and grafted it.

Also, Ghaunadaur and Kiaransalee could muddy the arcane ♂ / divine ♀ division of drow spellcasters by offering warlock pacts.


I've always wondered about that too, tbh. It makes for some interesting campaign hook, for those willing to explore it.
That thing looks like a Roper made of Ooze. Weird.After oozes, the roper is the creature most associated with Ghaunadaur. Yup, really wondering what's the deal with yochlols. Maybe he designed the ritual Lolth has been using to create them.

Herobizkit
2016-12-25, 09:46 PM
Druids and oozes, you say?

3e has the Oozemaster prestige class from as early as 3.0 (Masters of the Wild).

WotC once highlighted a homebrew Druid Circle from the DM's Guild (http://www.dmsguild.com/product/173273/Druid-Circle--Circle-of-the-Deathbloom) that focuses on fungi.

Also, that Dark Seldarine pic... I swear I thought it was a cover to some YA edge-lord vampire novel.

Inevitability
2016-12-26, 02:11 AM
Also, that Dark Seldarine pic... I swear I thought it was a cover to some YA edge-lord vampire novel.

This. When Eilistraee, of all people, is depicted as a pale sword-swinging assassin surrounded by sickly-green light, you know something, somewhere, went horribly wrong.

Arbane
2016-12-26, 02:45 AM
More seriously, Ghaunadaur is the god of aberrations, oozes and outcasts, sometimes all things subterranean. It is not so surprising that he would show up in the pantheon of an iconic Underdark civilization. Kind of like a coastal community worshipping Umberlee or the Kraken. The sacrifices might be meant to appease the capricious entity, and also be a tempting way for some to gain eldritch power.


If this game's Underdark is going to be anything like 'normal' D&D's Underdark, the not-inherently-evil Drow are still going to be surrounded on all sides by horrific monsters. (In some cases, even if said monsters' alignments are no longer Always Evil, there's that troublesome 'has to eat brains' thing for one case...) So you're probably going to have a society that's insular, somewhat paranoid, and might infight, but knows that NOT presenting a unified front to outside threats is suicidal. They live in caves and tunnels, so the fine art of setting traps and misdirections is one of the most valuable lessons the Spider Queen taught them.

Millstone85
2016-12-26, 08:09 AM
Also, that Dark Seldarine pic... I swear I thought it was a cover to some YA edge-lord vampire novel.
This. When Eilistraee, of all people, is depicted as a pale sword-swinging assassin surrounded by sickly-green light, you know something, somewhere, went horribly wrong.Eh, I don't hate that picture.
* All the characters have pale grey skin, a nice alternative to the dark violet I usually see on drow. And it reconcilles their pigmentation with that of duergar.
* I could see sickly green as the average drow artist's take on the concept of a forest.
* Eilistraee is depicted like she most often is: dancing in the nude with a sword and her long hair in full Lady Godiva mode. If what you kept from that is "assassin", that's a plus in my opinion. It also makes sense with the aforementioned perspective of the average drow artist.
* A group portrait of the Dark Seldarine should absolutely look like the cover of ya edge-lord vampire novel.

Irennan
2016-12-26, 09:25 AM
It may be true that Ghaunadaur doesn't fit so well with drow in canon, but I could see it work in this new setting. Those few drow who travel the untamed Underdark pay homage to That Which Lurks, for they are all too aware that the elegant tapestry of civilization no longer surrounds and protects them.

If by "drow aspect" your mean appearing as a drow, here is the best official picture I found so far.http://i.imgur.com/qxanDbM.pngHe still has tentacles and he might still be mostly ooze, but he seems to have grown himself a head with pointy ears. Or maybe he took and grafted it.

That pic is kinda misleading, tho. Ghaunadaur never appears as anything even remotely drowlike according to his lore, but it would be useful for him to assume a drow aspect (and by that I mean something akin to what some human deities are currently doing with tieflings: appearing as such in their dreams, to lure as many tiefling followers as they can).

Although, now that you make me notice, I agree that in this new setting Ghaunadaur might fit better as a drow deity.


Also, Ghaunadaur and Kiaransalee could muddy the arcane ♂ / divine ♀ division of drow spellcasters by offering warlock pacts.

Funny enough, in 5e/post-Sundering Ghaunadaur is mainly a Great Old One patron, and Kiaransalee--while mainly a goddess--can be an Undying patron.

Grytorm
2016-12-26, 12:47 PM
This reminds me of some of my ideas about Drow society and how they would actually relate to the pantheon as a whole. Exiled elves fleeing the surface isn't an uncommon occurrence. Ghaundar is one of the common deities worshiped by immigrants to the underdark seeking survival. This is where the common Drow deities fit in. Ellistrae and Lolth grit their teeth and work together to undermine Ghaundar's influence. Both want the elves to be united with some coherence. Elistrae for the hope of redemption and Lolth because she likes ziggurats temples and grand sacrifices. Lolth defaults to a fertility diety in this process and Elistrae as a sort of pioneer and a vengeful huntress.

After a stable period the two principle deities end up at odds because of their differing ethos. Eventually one deity or the other is driven out and things rearrange themselves. More often than not the winner in this struggle is Lolth which gives rise to the typical Drow society. When Elistrae is dominant a good society forms, and occasionally neither is cast down and a unhappy medium is found.

The other gods are secondary players in this conflict Selvetarm is usually allied with Lolth which is why she tends to win. Vhaerun competes with Selvetarnm as the principle patron of drow masculinity. So at times he allies himself with Elistrae but the two don't get along.

Kiaranshee doesn't get involved because she doesn't like the others and is focused more on the dead than the living. I imagine her cult is tolerated by the Lolth's cleregy because it is useful to have a group to deal with the dead and she is another child of Lolth*. Other minor cults exist, some are tolerated and others are reviled.

*Just my own headcannon that Kiaranshee is a fully grown Atropal Scion

Millstone85
2016-12-26, 06:15 PM
Funny enough, in 5e/post-Sundering Ghaunadaur is mainly a Great Old One patron, and Kiaransalee--while mainly a goddess--can be an Undying patron.I should have said so but this is precisely what was on my mind.

Celestia
2016-12-26, 07:40 PM
Their main goddess ... Alexandria or whatever.


Alexandria's ...

That's Almalexia, and she was never the "main" goddess. A Trubunal tends to have equal balance of power. Though, arguably, Vivec was the leader.

On topic: I don't see why you need more than that. Just take the Drow and remove the evil. Boom.

Mark Hall
2016-12-27, 05:02 PM
Just what it says on the tin. Im working on a setting where Races dont have a Moral alignment tag, just countries of origin. I've already got Orcs done (they're basically just Vikings) and now im curious about Dark Elves. Things i figure they'd keep:

Matriarchal Structure
Spider Fixation
Intra House Politics

And thats it. Then again those are the three big things that define Drow anyway....

LG: Spiders are builders. Mother spiders create the houses that nurture their young "spiders", who go out in the world and build new things, or remove harmful "bugs" that plague others. Houses cooperate, but there's prestige involved... doing particularly well on a job, or eliminating a particularly difficult problem, becomes a point of pride, and moves you up the pecking order for future jobs. You don't sabotage others (not cricket), but you do politic with other houses to get plum positions.

CG: Houses outright compete. Spiders are lone hunters, birthed from their mothers (fathers are relatively unimportant), and the houses follow a mother so long as she remains effective. There's still the "go out and do good" aspect, but rather than being concerned with long-term gains, they're concentrated on most immediate good. The good you do in the name of your house adds to its prestige.

Hawkstar
2016-12-27, 05:15 PM
Alexandria's been gone for a while. They're back to Azura, Boethiah, and Mephala. But yeah, Dunmer are basically non-evil Drow.

I'd argue the "Drow" and "Non-Evil" parts, considering those three represent "Betraying those who trust or rely on you while looking good," "Stabbing everyone in the back for personal profit," and "Manipulating others into betraying each other for your own amusement."

Also - Dunmer are neither subterranean, nor spider-obsessed.

As far as non-evil Drow go - just get rid of the incessant backstabbing. They're exiles from the surface elves because of reasons, and are trying to thrive in a hostile subterranean environment. Keep the spider theme, and the webs of intrigue they spin (Just tone down the assassination angle) - they're the Peacekeepers of the underdark, spinning cities to take care of themselves while they try to improve the influence of their families, while brokering deals with yet never trusting the other inhabitants and monsters that lurk beneath.

M0rdecai[QC]
2016-12-28, 05:11 PM
As far as non-evil Drow go - just get rid of the incessant backstabbing. They're exiles from the surface elves because of reasons, and are trying to thrive in a hostile subterranean environment. Keep the spider theme, and the webs of intrigue they spin (Just tone down the assassination angle) - they're the Peacekeepers of the underdark, spinning cities to take care of themselves while they try to improve the influence of their families, while brokering deals with yet never trusting the other inhabitants and monsters that lurk beneath.

So... subterranean Dunmer with a spider fetish? :smalltongue:

Hawkstar
2016-12-28, 07:11 PM
;21538213']So... subterranean Dunmer with a spider fetish? :smalltongue:

And no worship of three different flavors of treachery.

GungHo
2017-01-03, 03:27 PM
Wouldn't a non-evil drow society end up just being Detroit or Chicago? Or just the standard elf village? Because isn't that they are anyway? Black Elves? Or any Italian City when Italy didn't exist? Considering what they are obsessed with, Italian City-States seem to apply the most.
Bob Salvatore intentionally styled them like this. They're the mafia.


IIRC in the original 1978 "Vault of the Drow" adventure, commonners Drow were mostly neutral it was the Nobility that was evil (also Gygax spelled their goddess name as Lloth, it was Greenwood who changed it to Lolth).

Other way around. Lloth was Salvatore (and then Cunningham). They "fixed it" by saying "Lloth" is a regional spelling in northern Faerun, which has led me to conclude that Drow sound like they're from Sheffield.

Stealthscout
2017-01-04, 01:23 PM
Well, lets take some of the basic principles that make Drow what they are, minus Lolth/Loth/Lloth.

Spiders, both physically present and as part of their artistic ‘style’
Underdark civilization
Ambition and life-threatening situations being part of life
Drow gain levels – ‘civilian’ drow exist but they are extremely rare
Drow are a fundamentally superior race, but respect power in others
Always ready to strike and respected / feared by others – they are perfectly willing to ‘go there’ and make things a mess for everyone if needed
Sensuality and decadence
Stealth and darkness


From this, I see a civilization. I’m going to leave religion out of this, so the race and not their religion defines things and the OP can have some flexibility.

------------------------------------
Drow are a race of elves which thrive in the deadly underdark. They claim that once they lived on the surface, but eventually chose to go underground to prove themselves and protect themselves from the other races which didn’t approve of their methods. Arguably, they lost too many ties to the surface in the process but as a group they have never looked back.

Psychology/mindset:
Drow are neutral, with a very strong chaotic drive. Many other races think they are self-destructive.
Central to drow is the concept of Edge. It is actually a drow concept often mis-translated as ‘accomplishment’, ‘mastery’, ‘drive’, or most often ‘superiority’. This is unfortunate, because Edge is more about attaining peak ability and not beating the opposition. Drow seek challenge and risk because they allow you go prove Edge in new and exciting ways. The more risk involved, the more you prove yourself. Other races get complacent while drow understand this significant detail of life.

Drow are constantly testing their personal Edge and often train in extreme ways. Warriors learn stealth and fight blindfolded, writers improvise poetry on stage with acid dripping on their skin, and spellcasters study both war tactics and architecture for inspiration, and all drow learn certain spells. This makes them incredibly devious and unpredictable small teams. Large groups tend to not get along without a leader (with proven Edge in leadership) to keep them working together, however.

In isolation, drow have much in common with adventurers. They relish a challenge and the big gains or tough losses from questing. They are rare and often mis-understood on the surface, so those that go there on purpose are either looking for quick inspiration or are looking for a big challenge.

Drow cities
Drow cities are built in large caverns and include all the normal conveniences of a surface elven city but use other methods such as giant mushrooms instead of trees, magically smoothed bedrock instead of bricked roads, etc. Non-drow are used for jobs that a drow can’t claim Edge for such as cleaning or sewage. That is, unless a drow can show a Edge doing it and they are no longer needed for the task (which has happened, leaving entire clans of non-drow destitute overnight).

An early innovation of drow is the coating a scaffold with spider webbing and then with resins to make stone-like structures. Their architecture is sweeping, delicate, and intricate structures which often have a spider motif to show homage to their tools. Large ‘construction’ spiders are protected by law but often accidental breeding leaves a large number of small ‘wild’ spiders in any city.

Cities are defended with a customized web of defenses known to only certain inhabitants. Outsiders are carefully welcomed but quickly find nearly every drow is an armed and trained combatant. Uprisings and invasions are quashed quickly and with joyous enthusiasm by drow proving their Edge.

Drow society
Since Edge requires conflict and challenge, drow usually divide themselves into groups such as houses, military squads, temples, or merchant clans. Those with Edge get promoted to influential positions in them. Those without it don’t get promoted anywhere and are encouraged to find another way to improve the house’s Edge. A house without Edge usually dissolves itself without any conflict.

Houses constantly display the Edge of their members. For instance, a house may sponsor an underwater sculpture contest. This is welcomed by others who aren’t challenged as an opportunity to enjoy the Edge of others. Crafty houses often attempt to show Edge at profitable skills such as food & wine, spectator sports, or massage. If there are two comparable houses battling for Edge, the conflict is celebrated by all and tend to be incredibly profitable. Two drow houses of the flesh battling for years on end are the stuff of many banned books on the surface.

Bribery and outright cheating is not seen as a form of Edge, and is treated very harshly. This is usually more than enough to prevent things from becoming violent. That said eloquent persuasion and lawyering is a form of Edge so sometimes it is allowed if done well enough. Figuring out which is which is also a form of Edge for judges, as is using your Edge to placate the assassin’s house (such as controlling the food market). Civil society is always interesting, and outsiders usually fail quickly upon entry.

Because they have no Edge, outsiders and non-drow are an opportunity for young and aspiring drow to prove their Edge. They should expect constant derision, physical challenges (mostly nonlethal), and pranks by most everyone until they show that they also have Edge. An Outsider who shows Edge in an area gains some respect, while those without it gain an even larger target on their back for others. While non-drow are accepted as free members of a city, they are usually treated as third-class citizens at best - outsiders often mistake them as slaves.

Hawkstar
2017-01-04, 01:31 PM
So... in that culture, are the greatest Drow known as Edgelords?

Irennan
2017-01-04, 01:40 PM
So... in that culture, are the greatest Drow known as Edgelords?

Damn, beaten me to it :P

Stealthscout
2017-01-04, 04:38 PM
Okay, okay. I knew that would be the first reaction. Sorry to all that I couldn't come up with another, better name in the entire time I was writing that essay up.

This is an impossibility, but please look past the word and look at the rest of it. Would that work or at least be a solid place to work from?

Irennan
2017-01-04, 04:41 PM
Okay, okay. I knew that would be the first reaction. Sorry to all that I couldn't come up with another, better name in the entire time I was writing that essay up.

This is an impossibility, but please look past the word and look at the rest of it. Would that work or at least be a solid place to work from?

I honestly like it. In fact I think that I'll take inspiration from it for the writeup of a few drow communities who have renounced to Lolth without converting to any other deity in my game world.

Douche
2017-01-04, 05:08 PM
Sweden - am I right, guys?!?!? HEHEHOHOHO

Blackhawk748
2017-01-05, 07:18 PM
Wow, thanks for all the ideas guys. I've decided to go with a society based on Face, so they'll be China/Italy.

Mutazoia
2017-01-06, 05:03 AM
Imagine a "good" high-elf society. Now put them underground and turn off the lights. Poof, non evil Drow Society.

Millstone85
2017-01-06, 06:05 PM
I think that trying to imagine a good or neutral drow society is a good way to flesh out the classic evil one.

From Stealthscout's write-up, you can see how their pursuit of excellence would go too far, how third-class citizens would be truly no better than slaves, etc.

And the gods do not have to be physically present and active. They can be used as personifications of the drow way of life. Vhaeraun is stealth and darkness. Eilistraee is sensuality and (in mainstream drow views) decadence. Ghaunadaur is the Underdark. Lolth herself is the web representing all these many "edges" the drow take pride in.

Irennan
2017-01-06, 06:12 PM
I would associate Eilistraee more with beauty and enjoyment in general, than just sexuality (beauty is one of things she's goddess of, after all).

Vhaeraun could also embody the deception that the drow love so much.

Millstone85
2017-01-06, 06:24 PM
I would associate Eilistraee more with beauty and enjoyment in general, than just sexuality (beauty is one of things she's goddess of, after all).Pardon a foreigner, but isn't sensuality a broader concept than sexuality? Does it not evoke artistic pursuits and the celebration of all the senses? If not, that's too bad.


Vhaeraun could also embody the deception that the drow love so much.There is more than one form of stealth and darkness.

Irennan
2017-01-06, 06:33 PM
Pardon a foreigner, but isn't sensuality a broader concept than sexuality? Does it not evoke artistic pursuits and the celebration of all the senses. If not, that's too bad.

I'm a foreigner too, and I'm actually the one who made confusion between the two terms, sorry about it. Sensuality is definitely fitting for Eilistraee, but she would embody beauty more than sensuality itself (since she's big on celebrating life as a whole, including the beauty that escapes the senses--although that's not exactly mainstream drow society, so I guess you're spot on when you say that the aspect of her that would be represented in the standard dark elven lifestyle would be specifically sensuality).

Millstone85
2017-01-06, 06:51 PM
I'm a foreigner too, and I'm actually the one who made confusion between the two terms, sorry about it.No problem. :smallsmile:


Sensuality is definitely fitting for Eilistraee, but she would embody beauty more than sensuality itself (since she's big on celebrating life as a whole, including the beauty that escapes the senses--although that's not exactly mainstream drow society, so I guess you're spot on when you say that the aspect of her that would be represented in the standard dark elven lifestyle would be specifically sensuality).Or you could say that her celebration of beauty beyond appearances and Edge would be judged decadent. If drow could grow mustaches, they would twirl them while talking about her more "charitable" ideals.

Speaking of generosity, I like Rarity's (the pony, yeah, or technically the human-world version of the pony) "time to bring what's on the inside out" song. Eilistraee could tell her followers that, even if the senses have their limits, hidden beauty shouldn't stay hidden.

Irennan
2017-01-06, 07:04 PM
Oh, you mean decadent from their perspective. Actually, that makes a whole lot of sense.

Irennan
2017-01-06, 07:08 PM
Speaking of generosity, I like Rarity's (the pony, yeah, or technically the human-world version of the pony) "time to bring what's on the inside out" song. Eilistraee could tell her followers that, even if the senses have their limits, hidden beauty shouldn't stay hidden.

That's actually quite in line with what she does. A quote about her says "The Dark Lady smiles on those who see the deeper beauty within" I guess she could also smile on those who make sure that the beauty within doesn't just stay there.

Millstone85
2017-01-06, 07:42 PM
Oh, you mean decadent from their perspective. Actually, that makes a whole lot of sense.Yeah, I tried to be a smart aleck there. I made it so the "goddess of decadence" would only be given that title by those who reject her deeper teachings and are, in truth, the decadent ones.

Kami2awa
2017-01-07, 04:03 AM
Internal politics are pretty much given in almost any society, but probably the non-evil Drow are less violent and backstab-y.

There's a few things to think about here in making Drow non-evil while keeping them recognisably Drow-ish:

- If the society is matriarchal, how are the males treated?

- If slavery still exists, how are slaves treated? If you've read the Discworld books, consider Ephebe - the land where there are strict rules on treatment of slaves, to the extent that they are treated much better than the "free" people of nearby Omnia.

- Is Lolth still around? Has she changed? Have the Drow rejected her in favour of a new deity? (Maybe not, if they still have so many spiders around.)

- How do they treat driders? Are there any left? Is anyone still creating them? Can they be "cured"?

- Is there still an undercurrent of evil culture from the "traditional" Drow? This could make for some interesting plot hooks.

GloatingSwine
2017-01-07, 06:58 AM
A non-Evil Drow society would look a lot like existing Drow society but with higher standards of behaviour.

They could still be competitive and relatively ruthless, but they'd be quick to put aside differences to take action against houses that went too far (at least did so in the open).

EvilAnagram
2017-01-07, 02:31 PM
I made a non-evil drow society by merging Lolth with the Raven Queen. They worship a Lawful Neutral deity of death and darkness and live underground after fleeing a religious war in ancient times. They keep the spider themes, the inter-house politics, and the matriarchal society, but they're less murderous outside of the upper tiers of politics.

Stealthscout
2017-01-08, 01:00 PM
There's a few things to think about here in making Drow non-evil while keeping them recognisably Drow-ish:

- If the society is matriarchal, how are the males treated?
If you are going by my write-up, this is just practicality. Females can produce children and keep the species alive. Males are woefully ill-prepared for this, but are still needed to a lesser degree. You can survive with just a few males but need to protect the females.

This gives more Edge to the females and puts them on a pedistal but leaves the need for the best males to survive. So they are almost equal, but you logically send the males in first in most situations.



- If slavery still exists, how are slaves treated? If you've read the Discworld books, consider Ephebe - the land where there are strict rules on treatment of slaves, to the extent that they are treated much better than the "free" people of nearby Omnia.

- How do they treat driders? Are there any left? Is anyone still creating them? Can they be "cured"?

Guess I missed a spot. Firstly, you don't necessarily need driders to be drow. They are fun, though.

Inevitably, any race has... weak ones. Either insanity, disease, or just bad luck when rolling the dice. Those who are weak and really have no chance of gaining Edge would have a real rough time in drow society. Many would just die of neglect or pushing far past their abilities to make a name for themselves.

True castoffs can volunteer to become Driders. It is an old magical technique that is not taken lightly, but can be requested by the desperate. Where the drow looses their sense of self and ability to breed, they gain strength and can prove themselves to society anyhow.

Driders can't get Edge, but are respected nonetheless as capable members of society. In fact, they have multiple uses in both defense and for their ability to spin webs while not being a dangerous creature at large. The strongest cities often use Driders instead of spiders for this reason, though it is not a source of pride so it is rarely advertised.

oudeis
2017-01-09, 02:24 PM
I found this (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_depictions_of_spiders) on Wikipedia while doing research to support my 'spiders are evil' argument (spoilered below). To say I was surprised at the complexity of the mythologies would be an understatment. I guesss like GG and others on this board have said, just because our ancestors didn't have our current technology does not mean they were primitives. Lesson learned (for now).

I can see enormous possibilities in Lolth as a trickster goddess, encouraging wiliness, wit, and wisdom in her worshippers. Perhaps her sacred texts are filled with riddles both complicated and simple, Zen-like koans, and logical paradoxes to be solved. She could be almost antagonistic, constantly challenging and testing her worshippers to exceed themselves. After all, what is life but a series of hardships to be overcome and enigmas to be understood? A benevolent mother goddess would see it as her duty to instill her charges with a measure of her own guile and cunning, yes?

Damn, the more I think about this the more excited I'm getting. These Drow would absolutely kick ass. The other races would beg for Drow scholars to come teach among them. Noble families would pay small fortunes to have a Drow tutor in their household, or even better, for their children to travel to the very seats of Drow learning (without exaggeration, a chill literally ran up my spine as I wrote that last sentence).

My now-obsolete discourse is below. I still think it's correct in its internal logic but is far less interesting than the above. Perhaps there's a heretical cult that clings to this limited, materialistic interpretation of arachnoid morality, like the Dark Brotherhood in the Elder Scrolls but a sorority.





Any society which patterns itself after spider behavior would fall into any ethical category but 'good'. Consider what you can learn about spiders from simple observation:

They are predators, pure and simple. Whether they are stealthy ambush predators, aggressive pursuit predators, or patient trap predators, they eat other (weaker/lesser) creatures to live
Their bite is poisonous
They paralyze their victims through poisoning then suck the juices out of the living body, leaving dried husks behind
The females are much larger and more powerful than the males and will eat them as readily as other prey
Unlucky or incautious males and will be eaten after mating
They build elaborate but impermanent structures that are for their use only, unlike ants or other social creatures


If you abstract these behaviors into moral dictates you get:

Others exist for you to feed upon. They are lesser than you, as proven by your ability to devour them. If they are too unwary to detect you, too weak to outrun or outfight you, or too unobservant enough to evade/avoid you they deserve their fate. Spare them no pity nor a second thought.
Use whatever means necessary to win, even if others consider them 'unfair'.
The suffering of lessers means nothing to you.
Males are permitted to exist for breeding purposes, nothing more. The moment they become inconvenient they are to be disposed of.
The world is what you and only you make of it. Every action you take must be to serve your needs (wants/interests) and only yours.

SethoMarkus
2017-01-09, 03:15 PM
What if insted of "Edge" we use "Arete"? Does that carry the same meaning for everyone, without the Edge-Lord connotations?

Because, I'm sorry, but every time I read "Edge" I giggle to myself some. :smallredface:

ellindsey
2017-01-09, 03:42 PM
I was working on my own non-evil re-fluffing of the Drow race for a possible future tabletop game. Came up with several ideas of how spider-worship can influence them in ways that aren't evil.

They would worship the spider as an architect. The amazing mathematical formulation of the orb weaver's web would be an inspiration to the Drow architect, and they would strive to build cities with function built into their very shape on a grand scale. The spider builds a web that provides for her, and the Drow architect builds a city to provide for everyone in it. Of course, only female Drow are respected architects. Everyone knows that males don't have the head for it.

The spider is a dedicated, caring mother to her children. Everything she does is to protect and care for her children, to make sure they'll be cared for even after she's gone. For a Drow mother to sacrifice herself for her children is seen as a great and noble thing to do, and in life she'll be planning for their future and seeing that they will have a good start in life.

Male spiders are more nomadic than female spiders. They are less bound to a stationary nest, more likely to wander about looking for mates. So, Male Drow will be expected to be scouts and messengers, having the job of patrolling the outer parts of the empire and bringing the advance warning of invaders. They are also considered to be the more expendable sex, expected to lay down their lives to protect the cities and the ruling queens.

And male spiders are decorative. Those videos you may have seen of peacock jumping spiders performing elaborate mating dances? Those are all males. The females are dull brown and don't bother dancing, they just judge the dances and eat those who don't measure up. Ok, we're going for non-evil here, so killing and eating males who aren't skilled enough isn't happening, but I can easily imagine a group of important Drow ladies - dressed in comfortable, frumpy, dull-colored clothing - watching a group of brightly decorated, skimpily-clad male Drow dancing and playing instruments for their entertainment.

Stealthscout
2017-01-10, 09:34 AM
What if insted of "Edge" we use "Arete"? Does that carry the same meaning for everyone, without the Edge-Lord connotations?

Because, I'm sorry, but every time I read "Edge" I giggle to myself some. :smallredface:

Actually, that is a far better word than Edge, but probably too late. :sigh:: :smalltongue:

While you can argue that spiders can be seen as good through some spin, I don't think it's going to stick. Yes, females care about breeding, but could just as easily kill or be killed by their offspring too.

Keep in mind that we are looking at non-evil drow here - not good drow. There is a big difference between the two. We want to keep a lot of the traits of drow culture such as stealth, willingness to improvise and blow things up, plotting, intelligence, etc.

If they were a neutral race, it takes them out of the running for the best BBEG but also makes them a completely different kind of BBEG. After all, a traditional Drow is too obvious a Moriari but if the Drow were a neutral race known for outsourcing scholars to other races.... that becomes much more insidious.