FAQ: Underdark and Sshamath

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Servin
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FAQ: Underdark and Sshamath

Unread post by Servin »

*** Would be nice to stick that - many new players will most certainly ask those questions, anyone please feel free to contribute ***
Aelcar wrote:ON THE NATURE OF THE DROW:

"Bards sing of bold heroes who brave the depths of the earth, who plunder the vaults of ancient peoples, exploring and mapping the endless passages and corridors that honeycomb the Underdark. Although much of this lightless world is empty and devoid of life, it contains terrifying monsters, sprawling alien civilizations, swathes of molds, oozes, slimes, and countless other hazards. But no threat the Underdark conjures compares to the drow. Their name
is a curse, their presence a cancer. They are the despised, the exiled, the shunned—and yet they are powerful, and conquer nearly all who come before them. They are the dark elves, cursed by Corellon Larethian, condemned to spend their days languishing in their own corruption
."

FROM "DROW OF THE UNDERDARK", INTRODUCTION.
Index

General Underdark Lore:
G1. What are drow like - brief
G2. On Drow ranks (for typical drow cities - Sshamath is a bit different)
G3. Is treating spiders badly a sin in the eyes of the drow?
G4. Drow psychology - Know how to play your drow character
G5. Origin of the Drow

Sshamath Lore:
S1. Who is currently in charge of the city?
S2. How will my character be treated within the city?
S3. Where can I find useful information about Sshamath (bedtime reading style)?
S4. More reading.
S5. All you need to know about the School of Necromancy.
Last edited by Servin on Wed Jul 23, 2014 7:46 am, edited 14 times in total.
Cake is a lie, there are only donuts
Through donuts, I gain happiness
Through happiness, I gain calories
Through calories, i gain fat
Through fat, my chains are broken
The donuts shall free me

Servin
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Re: Underdark and Sshamath FAQ

Unread post by Servin »

G1. Is treating spiders badly a sin in the eyes of the drow?

No. Not if you're drow yourself.
Drow of the Underdark wrote:One constant in the life of any drow is the ubiquity of
spiders and other arachnids. This is not merely an aspect of
art and architecture, but an actual fact: Swarms of real arachnids,
both normal-sized and monstrous, dwell within every
drow community. They hang from roofs, scuttle across roads,
build webs in common rooms, and adorn walls like decorations.
Though this situation would highly disturb most other
individuals, the drow are absolutely comfortable with it and
don’t give this state of affairs much thought. It is as natural to
them as grass is to surface elves. The drow suffer surprisingly
few bites—perhaps through the grace of Lolth—even though
many of these arachnids are venomous and irritable. A drow
who is bitten usually assumes she is either being punished
for some minor infraction or being tested. The drow have no
particular taboo against killing spiders, but they don’t make
a habit of doing so for no apparent reason.
In fact, despite (or perhaps because of) their reverence for
these arachnids, spiders make up a regular portion of the
drow diet. They are rarely the main course, but are instead
consumed as a symbolic portion of the meal, usually at the
beginning—almost the equivalent of asking Lolth’s grace.
Non-drow might be experiencing some problems with that. Particularly if they want to symbolise something with this type of treatment.
Last edited by Servin on Fri Jan 10, 2014 2:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Cake is a lie, there are only donuts
Through donuts, I gain happiness
Through happiness, I gain calories
Through calories, i gain fat
Through fat, my chains are broken
The donuts shall free me

Servin
Posts: 431
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 8:48 am
Location: UK

Re: FAQ: Underdark and Sshamath

Unread post by Servin »

S1. Who is currently in charge of the city?

Requires DM verification. There is no mention of Bel'ira Sshamath - Ulath'allar of the Temple of Lolth.
Sshamath is ruled by the Conclave of Sshamath, an oligarchy composed of masters of the ten recognized schools of wizardry. The Conclave convenes only to debate issues that do not clearly fall within one individual master's area and to resolve disputes between schools of wizardry that cannot be resolved privately.
Except in rare times of danger to the whole city, Sshamath's ruling council is a roiling mosaic of alliances. As a result, the day-to-day governance of the city is left to the absolute authority of the individual masters, according to his or her school's acknowledged spheres of influence. As one might expect, the various schools are thus engaged in a subtle, ongoing struggle to extend the authority of their representatives on the Conclave of Sshamath. For example, while interment of the dead and the healing of the injured clearly fall within the purview of the master of Necromancy, control of the sale of body parts for material components is contested by most schools.
Only the Conclave can officially sanction new schools of wizardry, a form of recognition it is loath to grant because doing so would diminish the power of existing schools. Originally Sshamath's Conclave sanctioned only eight schools: Abjuration, Conjuration and Summoning, Divination, Enchantment and Charm, Illusion and Phantasm, Invocation and Evocation, Necromancy, and Transmutation. The first addition was the school of Mages, for wizards whose research could not be clearly assigned to any one school. In the centuries since, the school of Mages has been severely hamstrung by those who fear it could easily grow to dominate.
The tenth and most recent addition to the Conclave is the school of Elemental Magic, a four-way factionalized institution admitted mainly to undermine the power of the growing number of elementalists and to check the increasing influence of the school of Invocation and Evocation. The masters of elemental magic had hoped to be admitted as four separate schools--Air, Earth, Fire, Water--but the Conclave's maneuvering has locked them in a power struggle within the school of Elemental Magic, thus weakening them in the Conclave.
Proponents of other schools continue to seek sanction, but are largely stymied by the established schools. At present, the roster of Sshamath's ruling Conclave includes the following:
Master of Abjuration Masoj Dhuunyl
(NE male drow )
Master of Conjuration and Summoning Urlryn Khalazza
(CE male drow )
Master of Divination Seldszar Elpragh
(LE male drow )
Master of Enchantment and Charm Malaggar Xarann
(CE male drow )
Master of Illusion and Phantasm Felyndiira T'orgh
(CE female drow )
Master of Invocation and Evocation Krondorl Waeglossz
(CE male drow )
Master of Necromancy Tsabrak of the Blood
(CE male drow vampire )
Master of Transmutation Shurdriira Helviiryn
(CE female drow )
Master of Mages Guldor Zauviir
(CE male drow )
Master of Elemental Magic Antalab of the Shaking Stones
(NE male drow )
The ruling structure of each school of wizardry varies according to school traditions, although each school must name a single master to represent it on the Conclave of Sshamath. Some schools replicate the city's government structure, with a ruling council selecting a master from within it's own ranks to speak for the school. Other schools are ruled by autocrats who delegate authority only when it pleases them and brook no dissent. Themes common to all such governmental structures include the relentless, intraschool struggle for supremacy in both mastery of the Art and in assembling loyal factions who seek to elevate their leader to the position of Conclave representative.
Cake is a lie, there are only donuts
Through donuts, I gain happiness
Through happiness, I gain calories
Through calories, i gain fat
Through fat, my chains are broken
The donuts shall free me

Servin
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Re: FAQ: Underdark and Sshamath

Unread post by Servin »

S2. How will my character be treated within the city?
Sshamath Lore Thread wrote:Population

Sshamathans are both welcoming of outsiders and xenophobic. The city's culture is steeped in fear of conquest, yet Sshamath's continued existence depends on the steady flow of Underdark traders bringing in goods for its inhabitants' artifice. This conflict enables all races to visit Sshamath, even traditional drow foes, yet ensures that such visitors are only superficially welcomed and always under great, unspoken suspicion.

The population of Sshamath can be divided into three groups:
Citizens: All Drow living in the city.
Non-Citizens: The Duergar, Svirfneblin, Humans and other races that live in or are visiting the city but aren't slaves.
Slaves: Everyone else.

Citizens
All resident drow are counted as Citizens of the city and are afforded more rights (and have a higher rank) than non-citizens. As a Citizen it is much easier to prevail in any dispute with a non-citizen or visitor, usually only taking a word or declaration from the Citizen for the non-citizen to be declared the loser in the eyes of the city establishment. All non-drow would be wise to keep this in mind, even the lowliest shebali drow Citizen could cause big problems for a non-citizen.

Non-Citizens
While the drow of Sshamath hold themselves above all other races, they do cede a modicum of respect to races capable of true wizardry. As such, slaves include only those races deemed incapable of manipulating wizardly magic, such as chitines, goblins, grimlocks, minotaurs, and ogres. Members of these and similar races who can use arcane magic are seen as anomalies or trick ponies rather than indications of wizardly ability for the race. Notable races excluded from slavery (except as slaves of visitors) include elves, humans, svirfneblin, and deep Imaskari. Constructs, conjured creatures, and controlled undead are considered objects, even when capable of wizardry, and have no rights. Races capable of wizardry who reach Sshamath of their own accord as free-willed beings have the right to remain within the city for as long as they obey its laws and conduct ongoing business with residents. Actual citizenship is never granted to nondrow, though permanent residency is allowed so long as business is conducted as mentioned above. This second-class 'ghetto' of humans and Deep Imaskari is never allowed to grow large, but the city recognizes the value of these noncitizens as scapegoats or sacrificial lambs.
NOTE: Bards, sorcerers, and the practioners of divine magic are also considered to be of second-class status, though drow of these classes may be actual citizens within the City of Dark Weavings all the same. The dark elves of Sshamath view power that occurs naturally or because of service to another creature as inferior to power won through personal achievement.

Duergar in Sshamath
Most Duergar are to be found in the Darkspires area of town where the metal-work and smithing occurs although some Duergar have trading relationships with the Conclave that permit them to maintain premises in the Dark Weavings Bazaar. Whereas all other non-citizen races are confined to the Darkwoods ghetto the Duergar live where they work for the most part, in the Darkspires.

In general Drow are inherently racist so they ALWAYS look down their noses at every other race (well except for some Drow that worship Ellistrae and Vhaeraun but those are special cases). The Duergar would not be tolerated in a Lolthian city as they are even more racist than the rest of the Drow population (and that's saying something). However Sshamath is ruled by a Conclave of wizards and they REALLY want those shiny magic items which the Duergar are unparalleled at making so as long as the Duergar keep turning them out the wizards will be quite happy. The Duergar (and all other races) will never garner full citizenship in the city however this is not necessarily a big setback as they would make their own alliances both within their race, between other races (svirf etc) and to whichever school of magic holds the most power. Being evil and insanely avaricious Duergar keep working for Sshamath (as opposed to their own Duergar towns) for the potential to make more money than they could at home. Indeed a large percentage of the Duergar in Sshamath have been sold into indentured service to other Duergar by their own families, such is the avaricious nature of the grey dwarves.

In theory the Conclave could just one day wake up and say "we want the Darkspires back all Duergar must leave the city" but in practice as long as the Duergar remain relatively neutral (i.e. not as a group ally themselves to single school of magic) the Conclave will keep them around for the benefits they bring to the city.

Svirneblin in Sshamath
Svirfnbelin (or deep gnomes) are traditionally very shy and secretive as a race and mortal enemies of the Drow so at first glance it seems odd that they would have such a presence in the city. As has been stated above Sshamath treats slavery rather differently than other Drow enclaves and this coupled with the deep gnomes natural propensity for Illusion magic confers the status of "free" if not "citizen" upon them. In general the Drow population views them even less favorably than the resident Duergar going out of their way to belittle, put-down and generally demean them at every turn. Despited this some Svirneblin still choose to live in Sshamath for the opportunity it brings to trade in some of the rarest gems and minerals in Faeraun.
Most of the deep gnome population resides in the Darkwoods ghetto along with the rest of the free non-citizens of the city although some do reside elsewhere either as retainers to one of the schools of magic or as the occasional merchant in the Dark Weavings bazaar.

Slaves
Sshamath is as close to a free city as you will get from the drow, designed to encourage trade so the Conclave can accumulate as much magical power as possible. A much larger variety of races live and work together as free people, if not citizens, in Sshamath than do in Menzo. Slavery is critical to the functioning of any drow city as compared to other humanoids they are not numerous, they reproduce slower, and require much more resources to raise to adulthood. Much as nazi germany depended upon slaves to fuel their production during the war so do drow rely upon slaves to do most of the day-to-day farming and production associated with a functional society.

That being said Sshamath treats slavery differently than in other drow cities. Whereas in other cities anyone who is weak enough will undoubtedly become a slave, in Sshamath races considered capable of wizardry such as humans, elves, svirfneblin and deep imaskari are never kept as slaves by citizens. However they are permitted as the slaves of visitors. The slaves of Sshamath are largely resigned to their fate. In addition to the liberal use of charm magic, the conclave permits visitors to bring in small groups of their own slaves and to occasionally purchase slaves from other cities. These practices ensure that Sshamath slaves are aware that their life here is not nearly as bad as elsewhere.

Creatures who demonstrate an aptitude for wizardry are considered free in the eyes of Sshamath law and are allowed to live albeit in a ghetto, the Darkwoods, that is prevented from getting too big. This ghetto is populated by a host of shebali (commoner) drow, rivvil (humans), svirfneblin and many other non-citizens of Sshamath.
The Duergar are the exception to this has they have forged a direct relationship with the Conclave, they maintain their own quarters in the place they work, the Darkspires.

Here is the makeup of the population by race:

Free Races: 50,000 total
Drow: 80%
Duergar: 10%
Svirfneblin: 5%
Darthiir (all surface elves): 1%
Human: 1%
Deep Imaskari: 1%
Other: 2% (all other races combined)

Slave Races: 50,000 total
Goblin 39%
Grimlock 19%
Orc 12%
Ogre 10%
Minotaur 9%
Human 6%
Outsider 5%

Note 1: for game purposes the ratios of "free citizens" are adjusted to reflect player-ratios better.
Note 2: If you decide to play a half-orc you will most likely start out as a slave of someone or an escaped slave that someone else (most likely a drow) will lay claim to. This can be it's own fun RP if done right so i wouldn't let that stop you from playing one. A drow city would never permit an orc or goblinoid to obtain citizenship so you're most likely outta luck there.
Cake is a lie, there are only donuts
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Through happiness, I gain calories
Through calories, i gain fat
Through fat, my chains are broken
The donuts shall free me

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Cubicle
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Re: FAQ: Underdark and Sshamath

Unread post by Cubicle »

///Ever wondered what the Drow rank structure consisted of? I sure have.. Here are a couple sites I've found.

http://www.freewebs.com/drow/rankdef.html
(More in-depth)

http://arelith.wikia.com/wiki/Ranks_in_Udos
(Basic and to the point)

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Aelcar
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Re: FAQ: Underdark and Sshamath

Unread post by Aelcar »

ON THE NATURE OF THE DROW:

"Bards sing of bold heroes who brave the depths of the earth, who plunder the vaults of ancient peoples, exploring and mapping the endless passages and corridors that honeycomb the Underdark. Although much of this lightless world is empty and devoid of life, it contains terrifying monsters, sprawling alien civilizations, swathes of molds, oozes, slimes, and countless other hazards. But no threat the Underdark conjures compares to the drow. Their name
is a curse, their presence a cancer. They are the despised, the exiled, the shunned—and yet they are powerful, and conquer nearly all who come before them. They are the dark elves, cursed by Corellon Larethian, condemned to spend their days languishing in their own corruption
."

FROM "DROW OF THE UNDERDARK", INTRODUCTION.

- The Drow are evil. It's an intrinsic part of them, their nature.
- Good Drow qualify as "snowflakes" for rarity, and are considered an abomination by their kin. Therefore, we are talking about a difficult RP, ripe with hostility on all sides.
- The Drow RP is based on IC conflict. It requires mature players. Please, familiarize yourselves with the lore as soon as possible (BEFORE creating one would be ideal, but not always possible) in order to be able to respect the setting.
Aelcar Lightbringer, Knight of the Merciful Sword: Disappeared after the victorious defense of the Gate against The Blight.

Olath M'elzar Valshar The Black, The Phantom Wizard: Retired Steward of the School of Necromancy and former Eye of the 7th Circle.

Servin
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Re: FAQ: Underdark and Sshamath

Unread post by Servin »

Updated.
Cake is a lie, there are only donuts
Through donuts, I gain happiness
Through happiness, I gain calories
Through calories, i gain fat
Through fat, my chains are broken
The donuts shall free me

Servin
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Re: FAQ: Underdark and Sshamath

Unread post by Servin »

Drow psychology - Know how to play your drow character:
The drow are, to the last, a motivated and driven race. The perception that a drow’s individual worth is determined only by the influence she wields over society isn’t simply a cultural attitude; it’s a psychological one as well. A drow who holds no power is a failure in her own eyes, and this more than anything else drives her behavior. It is thus not merely external pressures that cause the drow to plot and scheme; it is an ingrained need that borders on instinct.

For the most part, drow are driven by a trinity of emotions that exist, to varying degrees, in every member of the race.

Pride: So far as each drow is concerned, she is a superior specimen of a superior race—or at least she should be. Drow who obtain power do so because they are worthy of it; those who lack authority find themselves resentfully chafing under the rule of others, their pride demanding that they blame everyone else for their failure. A drow never forgets either a victory or a slight.

Anger: Closely intertwined with their pride is a current of rage that runs through the entire drow population. They are a primal and instinctive people, quick to lash out at those who offend them. A drow grows wroth at a subordinate who fails or defies her, a superior for holding the power she herself craves, a foreigner for failing to offer unquestioned submission to the drow, an ally for imagined future betrayal, and even herself for not having accomplished more than she already has. Drow are quick to resort to violence, and revenge is one of their most potent motivators.

Fear: They are not often aware of it, and would be insulted if someone else were to suggest it, but the drow live every day of their lives in mortal terror. They fear their masters and priestesses, they fear the treachery of underlings, they fear displeasing their deity, they fear losing power and falling into disgrace. This fear engenders the paranoia and distrust that keep the drow from growing close, and the secrecy in which they orchestrate their schemes. For all their cruelty, all their power, the drow are bitterly fearful creatures, always afraid to lose what they have, yet driven to risk it all for just a little bit more.

Everything the drow do stems from the interactions between these three emotions, bolstered by societal pressures. Even their fanatical devotion to Lolth is based on fear: fear of invoking the goddess’s anger should they abandon her, and fear of being cast adrift in the world without divine guidance.
Cake is a lie, there are only donuts
Through donuts, I gain happiness
Through happiness, I gain calories
Through calories, i gain fat
Through fat, my chains are broken
The donuts shall free me

Servin
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Re: FAQ: Underdark and Sshamath

Unread post by Servin »

Sshamath's School of Necromancy established lore reading:

http://www.bgtscc.net/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=5535
Cake is a lie, there are only donuts
Through donuts, I gain happiness
Through happiness, I gain calories
Through calories, i gain fat
Through fat, my chains are broken
The donuts shall free me

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Darker_Thought
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Re: FAQ: Underdark and Sshamath

Unread post by Darker_Thought »

Tips on how to play drow;

React to others based primarily on their perceived value to you. Your adventuring companions are vital to your survival, so you won’t want to alienate them. In other cases, though, react with anger when someone you perceive as inferior disagrees with or disobeys you.

Judge all individuals by how much power they wield, and offer them respect accordingly. You do not revere life for its own sake, and are puzzled by those who speak about the inherent value or dignity of living beings. This doesn’t make you a wanton murderer; it simply means that you have no compunctions about killing if doing so is the most expedient or convenient means of handling a situation (and you feel you can get away with it with minimal repercussions).

((Ofcourse keep in mind that this doesn't autoconcent anyone to PvP however if with an apropiate rp cause for it have played out....))
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Re: FAQ: Underdark and Sshamath

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The Origin of the Drow (As described by the 2nd edition source: The Complete Book of Elves, p. 15-17)
Hidden: show
Note: This is on Drow in general and does not take into account communities that follow different rules, e.g. S'shamath, which is ruled by mages and where females are merely the equals of males. Nor is Lolth's worship dominant in S'shamath.

The dark elves (also known as drow) are evil cousins of the other elves. Driven beneath the surface long ago by the light-loving elves, these sinister beings have made a home for themselves in what they call the Underdark, the niche they have brutally carved in the underground caverns. They have become the masters and mistresses of dark grottoes, and any intelligent creature shuns them. Originally the drow were simply elves who held more with the tenets of might than those of justice. In their quest for more power over life, they inevitably began dealing with the forces that would one day corrupt them. Their elven brethren, dismayed at the initial change in their formerly peaceful kinsmen, sought to reason with them. The drow, seeing this effort as aggression, responded by slaying emissaries and invading elven cities. Convinced of the evil of the drow, the other elves banded together to drive them from the land.

(Toril and Faerun specific: During the First Crown War, the Ilythiiri made several unsuccessful attempts to conquer Faerûn (actually they conquered Southern Faerûn and to the north up to Shantel Othreier, and perhaps only the intervention of Corellon Larethian had stopped them), and at the time of the Fourth Crown War, they turned to Lloth and the other outcast Seldarine in the Demonweb Pits who gave them powerful magic and fiendish allies, as a reward for allegiance. One of these was a balor named Wendonai. He bred with the Ilythiiri, giving them a taint.)

A long, painful war marched across the centuries; elf slew elf, and great magicks flew. Much of the world lay in devastation, soaked in the blood of elves.

(Toril and Faerun specific: Wendonai was a balor lord who, in -11500 DR was tasked by Lolth to seduce the Sethomiir clan, rulers of the Ilythiiri into her worship and grant them evil magics. He succeeded and was probably the greatest (but by no means the only) influence on the fall of the dark elves.

After many malicious acts and abuses of elven magic, Corellon Larethian banished the dhaerow (traitors) whom Lolth used to be responsible for (and most of whom still secretly worshiped her) to the Underdark. A horrid magical storm known as the Dark Disaster laid waste to Miyeritar. History (as written by the victors of the Third Crown War) says that Miyeritar's attempts to stop Aryvandaar's armies caused the Dark Disaster. In truth, the fell magic that produced it was called forth by Vyshaantar high mages and proceeded unopposed because a Vyshaantar assassination campaign had destroyed many of Miyeritar's high mages in the months before. The Dark Disaster hung over Miyeritar like a funeral shroud for months, and when it's cloying mists and bloody rains finally dissipated, the once-proud forest had been reduced to a blasted, poisonous wasteland. Although many of Miyeritar's original inhabitants had fled long before the killing storm hit, innumerable innocents died horribly.)

Finally, however, the good and neutral elves triumphed, and they drove the drow underground. The corruption of the drow echoed in their appearance, for their skin darkened and their hair turned white. Their eyes glowed red—further evidence of the fires burning within their breasts.

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

The surviving nobles took what they could and left to establish their own realms elsewhere in the Underdark. This time was known as the Scattering and produced most of the cities in which the drow live to this day, including as Sshamath, founded beneath the Far Hills in -4973 DR, Menzoberranzan, founded in -3917 DR, and Ched Nasad, founded in -3843 DR. On the surface the drow are sometimes referred to by Elves as The Ones Who Went Below.

During this time Wendonai continued his work, acting as advisor, tutor and sometimes consort to the most powerful drow Matron Mothers. He tried to claim a little power for himself by leading a sucessful drow and duergar attack against the Elven Court in -4400 DR called the Dark Court Slaughter. Wendonai's efforts at personal growth over the next two millenia earned Lolth's ire as she had no intention to let the drow return to the surface. Lolth withdrew her favour of the demon in -2549 DR and the Matrons followed suit.

The taint of Wendonai allows him to hear the thoughts of the tainted. It is only the Ilythiiri who carry it, and it gives them their cruel and arrogant nature. The drow, as they were now named, have always believed that they were punished for being “successful” and have remembered this perceived slight and vowed eternal revenge, still claiming the surface world as rightfully theirs.)

The drow are reputedly as widespread as the other subraces of elves—perhaps even more so. No one not of drow heritage knows exactly how far their underground holdings extend. It is well known that they have a certain grasp on interdimensional magic, for they use it to travel long distances. They hate the light, and they have extensively researched ways to travel while avoiding the sun, which is anathema to them. The drow have extensive tunnel networks, which may or may not canvass their world.

Drow are typically shorter than other elves, and they retain the Dexterity common to elves. In all other respects, save their height and coloring, drow resemble their aboveground cousins.

Drow craftsmanship is truly a marvel to behold, wrought with strange and intricate designs. Unfortunately, their works are unable to exist outside the drow world, and the items disintegrate, albeit slowly, when away from the radiation of the Underdark.

Their society is usually matriarchal, with the female drow holding the majority of power. Male drow are entrusted with the relatively unimportant jobs of swordplay and some sorcery. Females, on the other hand, command the important positions in drow society. They are the priestesses of their dark goddess, Lolth (or sometimes Lloth), Queen of the Spiders. These females wield their tremendous goddess-given power mercilessly. Using the threat of intense punishment, they keep the males cowed and submissive. They are the top of the social hierarchy in the Underdark; they jealously guard their power against lowly males who might try to take that power away. Since drow females have greater power than males and are physically stronger and more intelligent as well, the drow have a difficult time believing that males can hold power in other societies. Thus, they do not believe that any threat mustered by males could seriously threaten the drow.

Despite their chaotic evil nature, the society of the drow is rigidly structured and divided. Social strata and classifications are virtually immutable. A drow can advance in her caste, certainly, but cannot advance beyond it. The chaotic nature of the drow is most evident when one seeks advancement—an advancement typically made through death.

Drow constantly seek to improve their position in society and in Lolth's eyes. If it comes at the expense of another's life, so much the better—that makes one less drow to challenge the newcomer, and it ensures greater security in the new position.

Drow have an abiding hatred of all things aboveground, but nothing draws their wrath quite like the good elves. The drow take any chance they can to destroy other elves they encounter. Even the few evil elves aboveground are seen as enemies, and the drow do not hesitate to betray such a one when he or she has served a purpose.

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grymhild
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Re: FAQ: Underdark and Sshamath

Unread post by grymhild »

FOR2 The Drow of the Underdark, 2nd ed., p. 46-47 wrote:
The High History of the Drow

The history of the drow in the Realms is long and grand, but very murky to the sage or interested inquirer of today. Truth has been willfully twisted by clever and fanatical drow to serve many partisan noble House interests and the major drow faiths. It is usual in Loth-dominated communities, for example, to pretend that traitors to the Goddess, or vanquished noble Houses, simply "never existed." Although this is a hollow deceit at the time, it effectively "rewrites history" by four generations later. The history of the drow can thus only be recounted in general terms - following the work of Shahaerynus, a drow sage who dwelt in long-ago Myth Drannor, and complied The High History of the Drow. What you are about to read are excerpts from this book., Susprina, Elminster tells us, he is currently working on a sequel.

The Descent

We know very little of the Ilythiiri, or "Elves of the South," before this crucial event. Even then, they were known as "Dark Elves," for the hue of their skins. They dwelt in the jungles and hot forests of the South. A proud, warlike, culturally advanced (some sages or elven peoples say "decadent") folk, the Ilythiiri attacked all neighbors, including other elven tribes. Their cruel raids and depredations, ordered by warlike nobility and clergy of their two cruel deities, Ghaunadaur and Lolth, forced elves, humans, dwarves and others to ally against them

Defeated in a series of titanic magical battles, the dark elves fled into underground warrens they had earlier discovered. This event, known as "the Descent." marked the end of the drow as a surface dwelling race.

The Dark Wars

The warlike drow nature did not change when they escaped their surface foes. They immediately launched a series of wars to establish territories in the Underdark. They began by stealing and seizing dwarven magical items, and using them against the dwarves - establish an enmity that is still strong today.

The drow then fought among themselves, noble against noble, priest against priestess, for rule of their new realm. This all-out war ended amid great magical explosions that brought down the roof of the largest dwarven cavern they had seized, great Bhaernden. The ceiling collapsed entirely, burying many drow and the shattered dwarven cities. The cavern, now open to the sky, became known as The Great Rift. The surviving drow nobles gathered what people, slaves, and equipment they could seized, and fled into the Underdark in search of places to dwell. "The Scattering" brought about the many rival, self-interested cities where most drow live today.

The Drow Today

Drow still hate each other, and strive fiercely to eradicate or weaken those of rival cities, clans, noble Houses or faiths. This constant strife keeps other races far safer than they would otherwise be, as the drow (urged on by clergy of their gods) fight among themselves, rather than launching new wars on others.

Some few (perhaps 15% of all) drow are deemed "good" (actually, most are better described as Lawful or Chaotic neutral in alignment) by other races. They look to the surface, and worship Eilistraee, turning their backs on the darkness their brethren have embraced.

It is not easy for a drow with a peaceful disposition, or feelings towards what most surface dwellers deem "Good." to develop a strong personal morality or even survive for long in the cruel twisted societies of drow cities. Only truly outstanding individuals (Drizzt Do/Urden, for example) manage to win free of drow lifestyle. They are the heroes - and usually, the wander adventurer-outcasts - of the race.

No "good" drow is yet known to have succeeded in turning the bent of a drow city towards good. Altering the smallest customs and (dis)courtesies is impossible without tht approval and support of Lolth, who dominates most such societies. City dwellers are ruled by fear, deceit, and cruelty; it is impossible for them to act other than as the "dark villains" surface Realmslore makes them out to be, as long as they remain the cities of the Underdark. Drow who leave cities are dismissed and ignored - except by drow merchants, who are glad to have drow surface contacts.

Drow who dwell in small roving bands however, or who reach the surface and manage to establish and existence there, can and have adapted to local mores and conditions - and exhibit natures no more good or evil than the general run of humankind.

Initial daytime exposure to the surface world usually blinds drow [DM's NOTE: apply "Total Darkness" effects to them, as though they were human; if they bind their faces, they fight as in "Starlight." as detained in the "Darkness" section of Chapter 13, "Vision and Light," of the Dungeon Master's Guide). Drow who are prepared for the effects of sunlight, and who have practiced fighting by sound alone, can reduce these penalties. (DMs must adjudicate this on a case-by-case basis, following a general rule that the drow will be quite effective against opponents within arm's reach, and vastly less so, the further away fores are.)

Initial daylight surface exposure is also likely to give drow horrific sunburn. After an initial attack, this burning quickly lessens, but drow will always prefer to keep their skin and heads covered during daylight hours.

Drow who adapt to the surface always remained comfortable in darkness, and able to see at night as well as a cat does. They also retain a lithe agility, a dislike of bright lights, open sky, and loud noises. They also have an unparallelled viciousness in battle. The detrimental effects of light on drow (detailed in their Monstrous Compendium entry, and in this book, in the Magical Items chapter under "Attunement") fade slowly; all negative modifiers are reduced (toward normality) by 1 point for every year of continuous surface-dwelling. If the drow remains on the surface for at least one year after all negative effects cease, they will never return, and the individual can thereafter operate freely both underground and above ground. ("Surface dwelling" does not preclude sleeping in caves, exploring cellars, tombs, dungeons and other underground areas for periods of less than four continuous days, or dwelling indoors and avoiding direct sun.)

Some drow have built successful trading careers in Waterdeep, Calimshan, Chessenta, and Mulhorand. Others are known to lurk in the dark depths of The High Forest and The Far Forest, or trade with Zhentil Keep's merchants in the woods northwest of Shadowdale.
Drathyrra [perma-dead]
Gilia Glandertor [inactive]
Grimhildr Ulvsdatter [active]
Iradortha "Iri" Umbrynthal [inactive]
Jhasina Harika yr Nar'ysra el Ifrit Khalid yi Memnon [active]
Lanathalas [retired]
Mhaev of Cathyr [retired]
Nevaetriel Rilae'ar'an, Kerym'quaress ath Eilistraee [jounal] [It's complicated]
N'essa [perma-dead]
Shaytessa Umbrynthal [bio] [journal] [???]
Shryl [retired]
Sssiks [active]
Ssinyrr [bio] [active]
Hathran Tatyana [active]
Vierdra Zau'afin [inactive]

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Cubicle
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Re: FAQ: Underdark and Sshamath

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Drowish Translator

Ku'lam d'lil harl olath! Jiala doeb bran!

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Tons of information and it allows you to search through the forgotten realms timeline.

http://dnd.eizzn.com/

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