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The Genesis of the Drow

 

 

Matron Malice Do'Urden"Matron Malice Do'Urden" by 000fesbra000 (resized) s licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

 

Disclaimer: This page discusses one DM's view of Lolthian Drow as a race of villains portrayed in earlier editions of D&D. It was orignally written twenty years ago (as of 2022). This vision is offered for entertainment and variety's sake and for adults only. I do not condone anything described below in real life; quite the opposite. I don't suggest that you accept or use these ideas in your games, either, unless everyone in your group is informed beforehand, given safe opportunities to decline, and genuinely okay with moving forward. You might find reasons for characters to work against the Drow, details that will fit the tone of your Drow campaigns, or nothing that works for you at all. Please read with discretion, and feel free to stop and move on anytime.

The First Vision

In the beginning, there were the gods. The Seldarine1 were kindred spirits and they kept close to one another, as other gods did not. The king of the Seldarine was Corellon Larethian, and their queen was Araushnee. They were held as one in esteem and the Seldarine shared in their power.

Araushnee was the patron deity of fate and through her mind flowed the fickle currents of destiny. As she grew bored with the other gods, she began to spend more time meditating alone, following the flow of possibilities. Then, one day, she had a vision of a new race of beings upon Toril. She noted their delicately shaped limbs and ears, finer than any of the Seldarine's earliest creations. In their eyes, keen intelligence gleamed, and yet they followed the scents of their prey like the beasts they slaughtered. They slid through the night with darkened skin, smooth grace, and perfect beauty. She watched as her own hands fashioned them from clay, divine blood, and a spark of divine will. She heard as they praised her in a language she had heard before, perhaps in a dream. The name they revered with passion belonged to her, but was not Araushnee. And as the vision faded, she felt the surge of power their devotion would bring her.

Araushnee grew excited by her discovery and yearned to see these beings made. She prepared her words carefully and then entered the presence of her husband, Corellon. She told him about her vision, artfully leaving out some details but supplying others that would appeal to him. She exalted their beauty, fierceness, and intelligence. She assured Corellon that through them, great things would happen on Toril. The Seldarine could guide and teach them together, investing more of themselves into the material world. Her enthusiasm was so great that Corellon was given pause. He told his wife that he would visit Toril and consider her request.

In agony, she waited for his answer. She knew she had tempted him. She did not want to expend the energy to create them on her own, and if Corellon agreed, the beings would be welcomed by all of the Seldarine.

The First Surprise

Finally, Araushnee was summoned to meet Corellon on Toril. She did not expect to find all of the Seldarine congregated there, at the edge of a forest. Out of the trees strode Corellon, and behind him she saw creatures moving. They had long ears, limbs, and fingers. Lightly colored of flesh and eye, they proceeded owlishly into the light and looked upon their gods. Corellon introduced them as his creations, the children of his inspiration. He said that he had given them speed, grace, love, and light. He made them to enjoy the bloom of youth for many years and fade slowly. They were received with joy and awe by all save Araushnee. That moment was the first in which she knew anger, indignation, and jealousy. Yet she could speak no word against Corellon, and what proof had she that such beings were originally of her design?

She turned a smile upon them but did not dare to touch them, for fear of destroying them in her hands.

Araushnee retreated to fume in solitude. The children of Corellon were wrong. They were weak, while the beings she had seen radiated strength. They were light-skinned, though the creatures she had seen were dark. Corellon had corrupted her vision and stolen all of the glory for himself. It was beyond unacceptable. It was maddening.

She then began to stalk the children of Corellon, watching how the Seldarine fawned over them. She saw Corellon teach them the ways of the woods. She followed as she thought of a fitting revenge and learned the weaknesses of her prey.

The First Drow

From the depths of the earth, Araushnee gathered the darkest clay and stone shot through with gems. These she melded with her own blood until she had eight perfect figures, but she did not invest them with her divine breath just then. No, she placed them within her womb, instead, so they could bask in her power and become infused with her essence. So they could feel her anger and hate for Corellon's betrayal. So they would belong to her. So she could enjoy keeping a secret from the Seldarine.

When the time came, she retreated deep into the bowels of Toril to give birth. Away from prying eyes, she groomed her children, and only once she deemed them worthy did she take them to a gathering of the Seldarine.

Araushnee said that she had made brothers and sisters for Corellon's creations, as she was instructed to do in a vision. She made no mention of his betrayal, but the memory was clear upon his face. Araushnee showed her children for all of their fine attributes and Corellon noted how much they resembled her. He welcomed them with warm words and proclaimed that Araushnee would watch over their trials on Toril. The Seldarine welcomed her dark children, and the children of Corellon milled curiously about them.

But Araushnee's children did not tarry with Corellon's brood. They ventured out on their own to test their skills and sharpen their minds, as their mother commanded. It was then that they discovered their mother's hidden gift: though they could bleed, they were immortal.

Striking Back

As the dark elves schemed on Toril, their mother made plans in the realm of the Seldarine. She met clandestinely with the gods of the monstrous races. She swayed them with bloody words promising victorious battles. She enticed them with images of the Seldarine and Corellon's children becoming their slaves. She devised a way to weaken Corellon, but would not divulge the details to her allies. Instead, she told them when and where to show themselves and allowed them to believe she was following a prophecy. In truth, she was weaving her own fate.

Araushnee, through her allies, armed her dark children, who had had multiplied while she made her plans (though they were outnumbered by Corellon's progeny). Since befriended the spiders of their dark homes and wore silk in their clothes and hair, Araushnee examined the spiders and came to know them. They were allowed to crawl along her skin and feed on her sacred blood. It is said that the aranea and other spiderfolk came about during this time, though none know for certain. Regardless, Araushnee made an army of spiders and sent them to her allies, to be brought forth when the time was right.

She could hardly contain herself when the moment came to strike. She betrayed Corellon first and let loose the monstrous gods against him. She unleashed her spiders to bind and slow the Seldarine, as well as to frighten them, for she had warped them beyond reckoning. On Toril, the dark elves struck out at their cousins, only to find more strength than they bargained for. The dark elves rent the homes of Corellon's get asunder and burned their great works to the ground. The children of Corellon held their ground, however, and the stalemate was unbearable to both sides.

Defeat & Exile

But the monstrous gods fell upon each other as easily as they fell upon the Seldarine, so they were swiftly beaten. Araushnee's spiders were consumed by flame or chased deep into their dens. It took the combined strength of the Seldarine to cast Araushnee down, but in their rage, they did so. Corellon saw the destruction rent on Toril and was bitter that Araushnee had instigated so much harm. Yet he could not kill her or bear to watch anyone else do it.

Instead, Corellon cast Araushnee away from the Seldarine, and her spiders and dark children with her. Her name was stricken from songs and verboten among the pantheon. From her new offspring, he removed the gift of immortality, so they could suffer the ultimate punishment for their sins. Their son, Vhaeraun, had conspired with his mother and was exiled with her. Their daughter, Eilistraee, was innocent, but begged to be condemned, as well, so she could offer a hidden light in her mother's shadow. She did not hate the children her mother had made from stone - indeed, she pitied them, for they had no hope of defending themselves against their creator. Corellon took heart at her strength and mercy and granted her request.

A New Destiny

Since Corellon's brood was spread over the face of Toril, the dark elves fled as far away from them as they could get - into the pits of the Underdark. By their wits, they avoided the threats of the deep, but they were not accustomed to complete darkness and could go no further. For the first time, they swallowed their pride and called out to her for aid. They had developed their own tongue by then, and Araushnee heard their calls in the midst of her delirium.

She went among them in the dark and asked them: "What is it that you have called me? What name did you cry?"

The dark elves shuddered in the echoing abyss.

"We have named you away from the others, for ourselves," spoke one. "We are your children."

"The name!" she demanded.

"Lolth, O High One," spoke the same troubled voice.

There was laughter then, the first to echo through the Underdark. It was utterly mad, and chilled all who heard it.

"Yes," she laughed, "yes! And what do you call yourselves?"

"We say that we are yours, Mother, your children," answered another elf.

Terrible sounds issued in the dark, and Lolth fell upon the speaker. She tore at his flesh and tasted his blood and somehow his death soothed her.

"I am impatient," she said. "Have you devised a name of your own? I hear no females! Have you nothing to say?"

"We are the drow, mighty Mother," came a woman's voice. "We who worship you most in secret have named ourselves so."

The mad mother screamed. She had heard those names in her dreams and seen glimpses of their fall. Had her fight been doomed from the start, then? Or had destiny turned against her at the last moment, like her treacherous husband? Lolth retreated, seeking answers in the streams of fate - but could no longer safely wade in its waters. She was swept, raging, through the courseways of possibility. Weakened by battle with the Seldarine, Lolth could not escape. Finally, the streams converged, forming a glistening web. She tore at the strands and raced over it in the fashion of her spider friends, taking on their shape. She sought to find and kill the weaver and destroy fate altogether, but only managed to destroy the web. From there, she fell howling into unknown depths.

It was not until much later that she emerged. She went back to the drow and assured them that she had not fallen. She hailed their blood and showed them how to pierce the darkness with their gaze. She called upon the spiders of the deep to bring food and protect the drow with their webs. She, too, forbade the name of Araushnee to be spoken; she would be called save Lolth, Queen of Spiders, Mother of Darkness and Champion of Misery. She gave bloody secrets to the drow and dared them to survive in their new land. In surviving, they would be rewarded by her favor. In dying, they would be at the mercy of her unending displeasure.

So it was that the drow came to be, and the destiny of Lolth unfolded.

 

1 The Seldarine refers to the pantheon of the elven gods of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. 

 

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