From the cover of Drow of Porphyra by Patricia Cavalieri
Q: Where can I buy Drow of Porphyra and in which format(s)?
A: DriveThruRPG (sign in to see all chapters). Right now, the chapters available as PDF-only releases. With enough interest, they will be compiled into a full printed book. If you can show proof of purchase for all chapters, you will be able to contact Purple Duck to buy the printed book at cost in the future.
Q: Are there in-depth reviews I can read?
Q: What roleplaying game rules does this supplement use, and can it be used with other game systems?
A: It is designed for d20, with Pathfinder power levels in mind, but it can easily be adapted to other systems.
Q: Are the new feats, spells etc. suitable for characters of all levels, or is it targeted at low, mid or high level characters?
A: There are often new feats and features given in the various chapters. Most of them are aimed at low and mid level characters. Perhaps more advanced options will be available in a future supplement, but in the meantime, once you get to know each tribe, it will not be difficult to match them with features from other books or of your own making.
Q: Is it in the format of an adventure module or a source book?
A: It is not an adventure module; it's a supplement that aims to give you enough information to use these drow in whichever adventures you have in mind.
Q: Does it require a working knowledge of the drow from a different publisher (i.e. forgotten realms or eberon)?
A: Since the drow tribes of Porphyra have their own histories and powers, no prior knowledge of other drow is required. They can be used to spice up drow of older settings, however.
Q: How do the drow in Porphyra differ from more traditional (D&D/Pathfinder) incarnations of the dark elves? A: When I first started working on the project, I wrote a document of basic principles I wished to follow, based on key differences I wanted to encourage. It is by no means comprehensive, but I think it will help to include it here:
The Drow of Porphyra are meant to be played and not just portrayed by the DM. Efforts to confine the race to DM-only use are unnecessary, since those who aren't comfortable with the race won't play it and those who hunger for the race will find a way to get their hands on it. These efforts also leave the larger portrait of the Drow half-done, as has been the case whenever the race has been approached from an outside point of view, for quick raiding adventures through Drow territory by those who disapprove of their way of life. Many rich details and experiences are missed through that long-standing approach; a shift of perspective will make a palpable difference in quality, ambiance, and the usability of the book. If gamers are given enough detail to use Drow in many contexts - including their own full Drow-centered campaigns - and not just as extremely rare PCs and villains, they will have more cause to actively use the material.
To that end, the Drow of Porphyra will be rooted in the setting of Porphyra but will have something of a modular approach. The user of the book should be able to see how they can use either the whole presentation or parts of it in their standing campaigns, whether they are staged in Porphyra or not. There will be cross-over capabilities; the Drow of Porphyra can be dropped in alongside the pre-existing drow of Second Darkness without too much difficulty (and especially vice-versa). Any gear, classes, or locations can be ported by those so inclined, though everything will work best as a whole. Either way, the book gets used.
The Drow can provide various levels and types of evil and are not wholly restricted to that alignment. While they will likely remain predominantly evil, they will have more variety and real choices, if not about what they are but about what they do. We've had something like 30 years of the same old tune about the all-evil-all-the-time drow and the blindingly rare exceptions. For every person who still loves drow, there are many who have given up on them out of sheer fatigue. Nuances will help take the Drow a step further and refresh their image. Having different levels of evil will also help DMs start evil campaigns for various groups. Not all groups are going to want to deal with the baby-eating necrophile level of evil; others would rather have the good old Chaotic Stupid brand of evil than something of a more lustful nature. But the Drow are special. The Drow can indeed do it all, with style and grace.
Speaking of which - the old Lolthian flavored drow will still exist in Porphyra, for those who just can't give the old ways up. They will likely be the drow that come into contact with the surface the most often, the most noticeably, and/or the most violently. Their chaotic nature makes for some poorly devised plans and their treacherous ways often lead to similarly disastrous results. These are also the drow offshoot that the other Drow types shake their heads at and regard with caution and ridicule. They're just so obvious and reckless - hardly worthy of being called Drow, but every family has that crazy member who can't be trusted.
The Drow have as much variety as elves and other races and are influenced in fundamental, stat-able ways by experiments, region, and other factors. There is no good reason that all drow should be the same. There have been elven subtypes of every description and this has made for some fun, local variations. So why should the Drow be simplified to the point of idiocy? Small but meaningful changes can grant new flavors and present fun story possibilities while remaining within the realm of power set for Porphyran player characters. Advanced options can help round out anything that might be lacking at character creation or that might be desired for later badassery. (The feats in my templates book come to mind; the tieflings in my game both took the feat so their wings would carry their weight as soon as they could and felt it was totally worth it. They loved having that unique option later on.)
The Drow have more than one religion. I will keep the spider/mother goddess as a demon that one nation follows but different groups will follow other creeds. They are numerous enough to have various perspectives on life and the afterlife, so this only makes sense and enriches the options players have.
Appearance and alignment don't mean that the Drow are going to be color-coded for convenience, per se. Evil doesn't mean ugly. Good doesn't mean weak. Neutral doesn't mean carelessness.
Q: What is Porphyra like? Where can I find more information about it as a setting?
A: Have a look at the wiki.
Q: What would be suggested rather than required reading?
A: Start with whatever you might have read about the drow in previous years. Yes, really. Go back and really pay attention to how the details fit, or don't, what works for you about the drow, or doesn't - or what used to appeal to you but no longer does. It can be remarkably eye-opening.
Q: What artists capture the feel of the setting best?
A: Setting is not the focus of the book and is left deliberately fuzzy to give DMs more options. Readers can better answer this question than I can, based on where they imagine the various tribes in their games. There are some details about key locations in different chapters, like the terraced city of Chasgoroth that is set up on the sides of giant yawning chasm (a stronghold of the Karza). Some details about major regional effects pop up, as well.
Q: Would you imagine any particular characteristics or even specific performer as narrative voice(s)?
A: Oh, yes. I tend to hear narrative voices while I'm writing, but they aren't usually tied to particular performers. For the Karza, I imagined the strong, zealous drow priestess many of us know by now. For the Nalbrezu, I heard the wise guy from the mob movies I watched while growing up. That chapter in particular was very fun to write because I had such a distinct and amusing character in my head, telling me all about his people as though we were having a conversation. For the Xelusine, I imagined the sexiest voices I've ever heard, the ones that are almost hypnotic. The Strivog were inspired by the ornate bone art of Sedlec Ossuary and the bejewelled skeletons of Waldsassen Basilica; there wasn't a voice for them as much as images, some of them quite horrifying.
Q: Is it adult oriented (excessive gore/violence, sexual themes)?
A: As a whole, the book seeks to portray a mature and developed view of what the drow can be, keeping in mind that a number of the tribes are evil overall. I do not need, desire, or rely on graphic descriptions, however. While I do not shy away from presenting an up front system for torture/interrogation, for instance, it is mechanical and optional, without the gruesome details I discovered while researching for it. I come from a tradition in which the worst or most titillating only need to be hinted at - which is far more interesting to me than crude, full exposure. It is always better to allow the audience to fill in the rest with their own imaginations. In the end, each chapter varies in its themes and adult overtones (and can be purchased separately). To help with this, I can provide the following brief guide:
Karza: Rated GE for General Evil, with brief mentions of things you've probably seen in other books, like slave bodies being fed to vermin hordes
Nalbrezu: Rated FE for Fun Evil, with drow who know they do bad things and enjoy it, especially when paid to do it for others
Xelusine: Rated NE for Naughty Evil, with more references to sexuality and forbidden pleasures because they are shameless tempters and hedonists
Strivog: Rated SE for Spooky Evil, with drow that regularly use body parts for clothes, buildings, and more
Keep in mind that each chapter provides an inside view of the culture so that you can better understand the drow who live that way. That may or may not be disturbing at times, since people can believe some truly awful things, but it should help produce more realistic characters (either as PCs or NPCs). If you want solid reasons to love or explore or hate the drow, you will find them, if not in the current chapter then in the next.
Q: Is it for newbies, intermediate or advanced players (i dont mean level wise)?
A: The systems are not too difficult for newer players, and novice gamers should be able to interface with the stories without trouble. The ideas should offer grist for more seasoned gamers, either as a whole or as pieces to be added to ongoing games.
Q: How much time will an average reader need to spend in order to get well acquainted with the content?
A: The first chapter is 17 pages, the second is 24 pages, the third is 27 pages, and the fourth is 31 pages. Each chapter is divided in half between mechanics and an overview of the tribe (history, society, etc.), and I haven't heard that they take very long to get through.
Q: Will I be able to incorporate the contents of the book to my own fantasy world?
A: I very much hope so! I have had a reader who was quite excited to find ideas to weave into his own project to create drow for his campaign.
Q: Is there a Drizzt? (sorry for this one but i found it funny...and please say no:P)
A: There can be no apology for this question, since Drizzt is the most known drow of all time, a touchstone of the race he rejects and helped to popularize, and a point of controversy for gamers. The short answer is that I do not linger on individual drow characters in this book. I want to give you what you need to make your own legendary dark elves, according to your own needs and tastes.
The long answer is much more complicated. First, each tribe has a predominant alignment but also room for a range of others. The Karza are Chaotic Evil primarily, but also include many successful Neutral Evil and Chaotic Evil drow. It is very difficult to be Lawful in their midst, but Neutral drow are not completely out of the question. The Nalbrezu have an even greater range. And each tribe can produce Good drow naturally, of their own temperament and destiny. They won't last long amongst their own kind, but they will happen inevitably and will have to deal with their situation. Most will probably die. A few will be abandoned, traded, or will escape on their own. Some will hate and fear their tribe and will be hated and feared by other races. And some players really want the opportunity to play out such things. I believe that instead of being ridiculed, deeper experiences of the outcast should be the focus. I like to think that the drow of Porphyra offer fun new possibilities to that end. Last but not least is the fact that not all of the drow tribes are evil. Later chapters will reveal some very different faces of the drow experience.
Q: Who does the artwork for the book?
Q: Why should I buy the book chapter by chapter? Why can't I just get the whole thing when it's finished?
A: The first answer to this question is that you might favor certain concepts over others and be able to use them faster by buying them now. The second answer is that it is an ongoing project and while we hope to do a compilation, it is not guaranteed. If it does well enough in PDF, however, the print version shouldn't be a problem, and you'll be able to get it at cost if you can show you bought the PDFs. So you can have your drow in print and pixels, too!
Q: Why should I buy the book at all? Why shouldn't I just wait to find the PDFs for free when someone posts them?
A: Since I've been a gamer and sorely strapped for cash, I understand the temptation to just grab things for free wherever you can find them. I really do. And since I use the internet, I know that my work has already been given away without anybody's permission. But there are many reasons why you will get more out of buying books and concepts you like. In no particular order:
The prices are very reasonable (typically 2 to 3 bucks a chapter) and the chapters often go on sale.
I've worked very hard on every page I've written and even on the ones that aren't done yet, and it boosts my morale to know folks are buying.
If you've read my offerings on one of my web sites or here on Facebook and enjoyed it for free, supporting the works I've published is a wonderful way to return the favor.
Purple Duck Games has been very open about what it costs to produce this and other gaming products, educating you as a gamer about how costly it can be and how much it can take to just break even.
If you show your support, that sends the message to the company to think about future supplements in that vein.
Purple Duck Games took a risk in giving this project to me, and I want the company to be rewarded for taking that risk. Hopefully you do, too.
The usual stuff about ethics and all that jazz.
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