Drow: Ways to avoid backstory stereotypes.
Recently, the Drow have been all the rage! Everything from the expansion pack for Dungeons and Dragons Online to the Underdark and Menzoberranzan supplements, the blood red skull spider has been blazon on my facebook and all over the internet for some time now, I recently even took the facebook quiz to find out which Drow house best suits you, and I came out with House Oblodra. But one thing irks me, the typical “I’m a Drow outcast and that’s why I’m in the surface world” attitude many gamers I have run into have. I have heard more unique stories, but quiet commonly I feel as if I’m listening to bad Drizzt fan fictions every time someone plays a Drow so I’ve compiled a list of inspirational ideas to help you make a more unique or believable Drow, because not everyone who plays a Drow wants to run around with dwarves as friends.
More generic, male character. You were pressed by the Matriarchy and thought you deserved a higher position but because of you constant efforts to thwart the mothers of your house you were stripped of your rank, and rather than fall into serfdom you escaped Menzoberranzan.
Female Character, this is quiet the opposite. You grew tired of the matriarchy and you were selected to be a high priestess. Though your hands are heavier and your feet quicker then your mind, your aptitude towards physical prowess drove you to find fortune at the tip of well oiled steel on the surface.
House Scout. Rather than being banished or growing tired of the underworld you are vying for position in it, you were sent by your family to the surface world to scout vulnerabilities local lordship or other potential areas, the ideas are endless to what you could be scouting. But upon further exposure to the ways of surface dwellers and the ease with which a good schemer can amass great fortunes you chose instead to stay.
Forgotten realm characters only. You and your fellow family members have been sent to the abandoned forest court of Cormanthor to secure your peoples hold on the surface world so that the great Spider Queen may launch an invasion and free her people from the darkness. Your loyalties lie with your people, though being a Drow you can mask these intentions to further your own aims in the meantime.
Kidnapped/slavery. Not all branches of the Dark Elves are all powerful, the disgusting dark skinned abominations can be caught and slaughtered, and the youngest or the most meld-able became slaves. A good Drow Slave has many uses, and commonly can be held as sex slaves for their exotic skin, hair and eyes make a desirable companion, though their swift blade can also be used in many political efforts, and you were one of these slaves.
A variant of this can also be slave to other Drow, you are not born to a family of privilage, or your family sold you. Perhaps a slave to the Drueger, or any of the other Underdark races, though this you grew tired of and escaped, knowing the surface world was your only chance to not be caught and re-enslaved.
Side Note: You may or may not bear a mark of slavery. This could haunt your for life. Commonly among the Drow this mark is on the face or the ears, a common practice is for the tips of the ears to be cut clean off, this identifier could be future story hooks.
Lolth touched. You were not born a Drow, but were cursed into one. Your parents were one of the furthest things from dark elven you could possibly imagine, living in the trees or the high elven cities, or any variation in between. Somehow you were cursed with Lolth’s touch and instead of your parents birthing to a beautiful elven baby, they got a Drow. You were considered a curse, a bad omen, and were outcast from your family, and home society.
A spin on being an outcast. Sure you were outcast from the Drow society, but for other reasons. One of your parents was not a Drow, and you were born with the terrible curse of being a half blood. Someone took an amount of mercy on you, and instead of killing you smuggling you to the surface world, or being paid well to do so. Perhaps your father came to the surface world and raped your mother, and somehow was left to live. However you survived, you are a half blood and highly frowned upon.
The life of a trader. Drow equipment is highly sought among the assassins and low lives of the surface world, even nobles like to tote around a dagger laced in webbing as if to make them more prestigious, this life is rather profitable for many and you want to get in good with that business. One of the most sought after Drow weapons is the Poisoning Dagger, a dagger that has a reservoir of poison that distributes the deadly liquid across the blade, not only crippling foes but slowly bringing them to their death.
There are many other options for why you could be on the surface world, these are just inspirations to help bring us out of that stereotype, and to even help new players seeking better backstorys. Put your own twists on everything, find what makes your character unique and stick with it, the important thing about the Dungeons and Dragons is NOT how many critical hits you can get, though those are extremely nice. It’s about adventuring and struggling as another character, and gaining the successes and grandiose lifestyle of a fantasy race. Happy Gaming!