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    Empedocles's Avatar

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    Post A 3.5 Drow Rewrite. Please PEACH!

    Ah, the drow. A classic cesspool of sexiness, spiders, and Driz'zt ripoffs. How we love thee! Unfortunately, IMO it calls for a rewrite, for the issues with the drow are manyfold. For one, it has +2 LA. That's the biggest thing. Second, everyone who plays one, for some strange reason, likes to have two scimitars and take levels as a ranger. I wonder why...

    Actually, this drow rewrite might not do much for the 2nd problem, but hopefully I can make them a little more sinister and cool. I'll put in some designer's notes, since I feel a little awkward with this into... Also, I am making this LA 0. Promise.

    The Drow

    The drow. Dark elves. A beautiful but sadistic race. Elegant in their vindictiveness and feared for their heartlessness. The drow are among the most widely hated races in the multiverse, perceived as a new incarnation of demon by the ignorant masses. They live in a brutal society, filled with backstabbing, poison and murder.

    Personality: Drow can appear to be charming, but it's no secret that they are incredibly violent. A drow will just as soon murder his comrade then slaughter a wandering soldier, and will do either with no qualms. Many view them as incapable of true love - although this isn't strictly true - simply because of how cold they can be. A drow cares about very little, and if acting normally is mostly just indifferent.
    Designer's Notes:
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    Honestly, the fluff for drow is largely unchanged. This is largely a mechanical redesign.


    Appearance: Drow are shorter and more muscular then normal elves, which still makes them a little bit taller then humans and slightly more lithe then them as well. They are well known for their dark skin, which ranges from purple to almost black, and their pure, pupil less eyes.
    Designer's Notes:
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    Drow just wouldn't be drow if I changed their appearance...


    Relations: No one really likes the drow. Most of the normal, surface dwelling races will attack them on sight. Svirfneblin and duergar occasionally create tentative alliances with the drow, but these are fragile at best and result in massacres at worst. Relationships with the elves are especially bad, and the two races are sworn enemies.

    Alignment: Almost all drow are evil. Neutral drow are excessively rare, and good drow all but unheard of.

    Drow Lands: Drow dwell in massive underground cities in a realm known as the underdark. Some clans have recently decided that this is too isolated however, and tried to move to the surface. The hostility of the surface races has made these attempts largely unsuccessful.

    Drow Racial Traits
    +2 Dexterity, +2 Charisma, -2 Constitution.
    Medium. As medium creatures drow have no special bonuses or penalties based on size.
    Base land speed is 30 feet.
    Light Blindness: Abrupt exposure to bright light (such as sunlight or a daylight spell) blinds drow for 1 round. In subsequent rounds, the drow are dazzled as long as they remain in the affected area.
    Poison Use: A drow can use poison without any chance of poisoning himself.
    Vile Empathy: This ability functions identically to the wild empathy ability of the druid, but it effects vermin instead of animals.
    Battle Magician: Drow arcane spellcasters are famous for their arcane warriors, and therefore have a 10% reduction of the arcane spell failure chance for any light armor they wear. This is reduced to 5% for medium armor, and does not apply to heavy armor. Drow can also use bucklers without it causing an arcane spell failure chance.
    Weapon Proficiencies: Drow are automatically proficient with rapiers and hand crossbows.
    +2 racial bonus on all Hide, Tumble, and Move Silently checks.
    Darkvision 60 feet.
    Automatic Languages: Common, Undercommon. Bonus Languages: Any.
    Favored Class: Duskblade.
    Designer's Notes:
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    The favored class warrants some explaining. I envisioned this as a sort of mobile gish race, focused largely on melee but with spellcasting capabilities. That's the normal concept, anyways. Obviously, beguilers, assassins, rogues, scouts, fighters, and full casters are all viable build choices (conceptually, anyways). I'm going to add duskblade substitution levels to make it less of a fighter/wizard and more of a rogue/wizard.


    Not sure about how this came out. Feedback is appreciated.
    Last edited by Empedocles; 2012-04-22 at 01:12 AM.
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    Post Re: A 3.5 Drow Rewrite. Please PEACH!

    reserved for duskblade substitution levels. Probably a renaming also...

    twilight blade? midnight blade? dawnblade has an awesome ring to it but is totally inappropriate in this case. Keep it simple: nightblade?
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    Default Re: A 3.5 Drow Rewrite. Please PEACH!

    Light crossbow proficiency? The only two classes in the entire PHB that aren't proficient with light crossbows are the monk and the druid, both of which require Wisdom and Constitution as their primary and secondary ability scores. Giving drow automatic proficiency with the hand crossbow isn't going to break the game (rogues already get it at level 1 anyway), so there's no reason to switch to a near useless weapon proficiency that would probably never see play. I suggest you keep it rapier and hand crossbow.

    Battle Magician- This is a strange ability. Strange, but useful. Still, it offers absolutely no help to a drow duskblade, since duskblades get light armor casting from level 1 anyway, and medium armor casting from level 5.

    Favored Class: Duskblade- No problems here. Drow don't get an Int bonus, so encouraging them to be duskblades when the large majority of their racial abilities do nothing to help the duskblade (while odd) is not a bad thing.

    You should put the Light Blindness back in. It's really not that big of a penalty, but it doesn't make sense for other races to have Light Blindness when the drow themselves don't.

    All in all, not that impressive. The drow gets 2 ability bonuses and 2 penalties, a +2 boost to a pair of skills that already will be low to most classes due to Armor Check Penalties, a +1 bonus to a skill that cannot be used while in Medium or Heavy Armor, a boon for arcane casters, proficiency with two subpar weapons (one of which, as I pointed out, is already given to almost every class in the game) and Poison Use, which is not likely to see play that often, since using poison is an evil act and poison itself is just generally not worth the price.

    Final Note- Paladin, Monk, Druid, Cleric, Ranger. There is a reason that not a single race in the PHB got a penalty to its Wisdom score. Wis is a generally really useful ability score, for all divine characters (like priestesses of Lolth) and to resist being dominated, as well as for some pretty key skills (Listen, Spot, Sense Motive).

    I'd play a PHB elf over this race any day of the week, and I hate elves.

    Your race is way too specific and does not provide any boons that would be useful to a general character. +2 to Listen and Spot will always be useful, while +2 to Hide and Move Silently mean nothing to a character who can become invisible or wears full plate. And Tumble is a Trained-Only skill that actually cannot be used while you are wearing medium or heavy armor. So...yeah. If I was playing a drow fighter, I would be taking a hit to my hit points and Will saves, and in exchange...I would get...nothing.
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    Default Re: A 3.5 Drow Rewrite. Please PEACH!

    I've been following your races for a while and haven't had much to say (they have been superb in general). The only question I have is, why no darkness or spider themed ability/trait?

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    Default Re: A 3.5 Drow Rewrite. Please PEACH!

    Given that the Drow society epitomizes power as the most desireable of all traits, a Strength penalty is all wrong. Stick with the Con penalty they have in core, as it informs their preference for hit-and-run tactics, poisoning, and so forth; the drow are themselves fragile and easily able to break one another, so their attitude is that all life is fragile and easy for the powerful to break. I would also keep their Charisma bonus as well as Intelligence and maybe Dexterity; IMO this doesn't justify a full +1 LA as the designers always assumed, as the benefits of a missing level would usually far outweigh just +4 among your attributes.

    The big reason why +2 LA is unforgivable for drow is that their spell-like abilities are really weak and boring. About all they have going for them is slightly above-average stats and spell resistance. I've been strongly debating letting my drow player (a Telepath, for the record, with no intention to take ranger levels or wield scimitars of which I am aware - although the scimitars might just be that they're a really good weapon, rather than Drizzt mimicry) just add a missing level and call it a day, as I just don't see how two levels for Faerie Fire and Darkness is ever a fair trade.

    @ NeoSeraphi: I don't quite get your point on why Wisdom penalty is a bad thing; IMO it's fairly appropriate except for the effect on Listen, Spot, and maybe Survival, and elf bonuses to perception skills help offset that anyway. Wisdom is representative of sanity among other things, and the drow are basically slightly crazy (as DotU puts it, they've devoted themselves to emulating spiders, who are mindlessly efficient predators, despite not themselves being mindless or emotionless, so they've basically sworn to do the impossible or die trying, and would have easily accomplished the latter by now if Lolth wasn't keeping them in line because she likes to watch them squirm).
    Last edited by willpell; 2012-04-22 at 01:11 AM.

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    Post Re: A 3.5 Drow Rewrite. Please PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by eftexar View Post
    I've been following your races for a while and haven't had much to say (they have been superb in general). The only question I have is, why no darkness or spider themed ability/trait?
    That's a good idea...it really didn't occur to me. Glad, by the way, that you (generally) like my races. Unfortunately, like my other elf work i fear this was emerged a little subpar.

    Quote Originally Posted by willpell View Post
    Given that the Drow society epitomizes power as the most desireable of all traits, a Strength penalty is all wrong. Stick with the Con penalty they have in core, as it informs their preference for hit-and-run tactics, poisoning, and so forth; the drow are themselves fragile and easily able to break one another, so their attitude is that all life is fragile and easy for the powerful to break. I would also keep their Charisma bonus as well as Intelligence and maybe Dexterity; IMO this doesn't justify a full +1 LA as the designers always assumed, as the benefits of a missing level would usually far outweigh just +4 among your attributes.

    The big reason why +2 LA is unforgivable for drow is that their spell-like abilities are really weak and boring. About all they have going for them is slightly above-average stats and spell resistance. I've been strongly debating letting my drow player (a Telepath, for the record, with no intention to take ranger levels or wield scimitars of which I am aware - although the scimitars might just be that they're a really good weapon, rather than Drizzt mimicry) just add a missing level and call it a day, as I just don't see how two levels for Faerie Fire and Darkness is ever a fair trade.
    Honestly, I'm a little stumped on the ability scores. Dexterity, charisma, and intelligence all make sense for bonuses, but nothing really makes sense for penalties. I think I'm just going to limit it to +2 x and -2 constitution...
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    Post Re: A 3.5 Drow Rewrite. Please PEACH!

    Okay, did a vile empathy ability for spier interaction. It's mostly fluff, but still an okay addition.

    I also changed the ability scores, but now it's a new bonus of +2. I think this might be a little over the top...
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    Default Re: A 3.5 Drow Rewrite. Please PEACH!

    I think that since they have the light weakness two +'s shouldn't be too much of a problem. Sure its a little unconventional, but hey...

    Edit > If you are worried about it being over the top (which it might be), why not let players choose between battle magician and poison use? Truthfully I don't battle magician is entirely necessary though. Especially since it overlaps with the duskblade's abilities.
    Last edited by eftexar; 2012-04-22 at 01:19 AM.

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    Post Re: A 3.5 Drow Rewrite. Please PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by eftexar View Post
    I think that since they have the light weakness two +'s shouldn't be too much of a problem. Sure its a little unconventional, but hey...

    Edit > If you are worried about it being over the top (which it might be), why not let players choose between battle magician and poison use? Truthfully I don't battle magician is entirely necessary though. Especially since it overlaps with the duskblade's abilities.
    Battle magician was just for the sort of gish feel. I still want a gish-esque ability, but I might not keep the current one.

    Looking at it, I doubt it's actually over the top since charisma and dexterity aren't often all that useful for a single build and for charisma based casters (for whom it would be useful) the constitution penalty hurts their already very squishy HP....
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    Default Re: A 3.5 Drow Rewrite. Please PEACH!

    Part of the drow sexiness is that they're innately better than core races. (Where "better" ends up being worse due to LA, but balancing inherently powerful races has never been something D&D is good at.) The first question worth asking is, do you want an inherently average race that can become an underdark player because everybody trains class levels hard, or do you want an inherently better race that'll need LA to even things out?

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    Post Re: A 3.5 Drow Rewrite. Please PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by Reluctance View Post
    Part of the drow sexiness is that they're innately better than core races. (Where "better" ends up being worse due to LA, but balancing inherently powerful races has never been something D&D is good at.) The first question worth asking is, do you want an inherently average race that can become an underdark player because everybody trains class levels hard, or do you want an inherently better race that'll need LA to even things out?
    I'm not sure what you mean with the bolded part. I see your point though, about drow's coolness coming from their power.
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    Default Re: A 3.5 Drow Rewrite. Please PEACH!

    Basically, you want drow to be strong. That strength can be because everybody has a strong racial feature set, or that strength can be because everybody has a bunch of class levels. The latter leads to its own interesting fluff, while allowing you to ease up on what the race itself provides.

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    Default Re: A 3.5 Drow Rewrite. Please PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by Reluctance View Post
    The first question worth asking is, do you want an inherently average race that can become an underdark player
    He means "player on the global stage", not "player-character". IE, they're a force in underdark politics, able to hold their own against aboleths and illithids and duergar and svirfneblin and balhannoths and and beholders and underfolk and lurks and myconids and driders and troglodytes and...well you get my point. (Namely that the Underdark is f***ng crowded.)

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    Default Re: A 3.5 Drow Rewrite. Please PEACH!

    You should note that a drow uses his character level instead of his druid class level to determine the bonus to his Vile Empathy check. Also, I'd say that 5 ranks in Know (Nature) should give Vile Empathy checks a +2 synergy bonus.

    Even with Vile Empathy though, your race still doesn't offer much...okay, how about this? Why don't you give your drow the See in Deeper Darkness ability? This would allow the drow to ignore miss chances and see even in magical darkness like deeper darkness. This ability would be useful to any class, as deeper darkness shuts down most classes hard, but would also be especially useful to a gish, since deeper darkness lasts 1 day/level, and a drow could cast it on his weapon and then any time he got within melee range, he'd be denying creatures their Dex to AC and getting bonuses to hit as well as concealment from the creature he was attacking.
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