The Sun Never Rises
Dearest Love of Mine,
Someday you may find yourself in darkness.
On that day the knives of your enemies will be all around you.
On that day the lies of your rivals will be as poison in your ears.
On that day Lolth’s favor will feel a distant memory, a sweet taste turned to ash on your tongue.
On that day blood will boil in your veins and run in the streets.
On that day nothing and no one will be there to come to your defense.
And you will know what it is to be truly alone.
You will not fear the knife, your blade is sharp.
You will not wither in lies, you will know truth from falsehood.
You will not doubt, you will have faith. Victory will bring the sweet taste back again.
You will not shrink from battle, for it calls to your soul.
You will not expect the loyalty of friends.
You will be strong in the darkness.
You will need only yourself.
On that day you will realize that you are the hunter in the shadows.
On that day you will remember me and you will truly understand how I loved you.
The first thing you must realize is the drow believe they are good and righteous creatures. Evil is a label placed upon them slanderously by the morally weak and the mentally diseased. The kindness and the charity espoused by other races is simply a disease of the mind that has been purged from the souls of the drow by generations of devout service and the favor of Lolth.
Drow celebrate strength, self-reliance, and victory above all. Secondary concepts such as beauty, truth, art, and happiness all flow from having the courage and discipline to focus on the first three. It is this rigid moral code and adherence to the cruel prospect of winning at all costs, along with the ever present social pressure from a society that does likewise, that drives the drow deeper into the depths of evil.
There are things in drow society that most of us would consider objectively evil. For example, ritual sacrifice or copulating with demons. Not so for the drow. Powers, whether they hail from the planes above or below, are natural powers of the universe. If they can be used to increase one’s personal power or glorify Lolth, then disdaining them would be foolish.
Physically speaking, the drow do not act very differently from natural predators. That same aesthetic is included in their social interactions with each other. A drow might tell you a lion doesn’t enjoy hurting it’s prey, but that’s only because it is not smart enough to do so. If it was blessed with higher intelligence and a sense of self, it would hear the scream of its prey and the tears of their kin, and feel the sweet ambrosia of victory.
Staples of Motivation
Here the major issues that tend to come up in the goals and motivations of drow characters, PC and NPC alike. I like to think of these things as the sorts of issues a drow might be working on with his psychiatrist.
- Anger: A current of rage runs through the entire drow population. They are primal and instinctive, quick to lash out at those that offend them. Violence is their first option in all conflict, and they hold their seething rage in check only while waiting for a more opportune time to strike.
- Fear: Though often not aware of it, the drow live very day of their lives in mortal terror. They fear their superiors will eliminate them, they fear their underlings will betray them, they fear losing status, and they fear displeasing Lolth. This fear engenders paranoia, distrust, and a driving need for secrecy.
- Pride: Drow are a proud people. Every drow believes she is a superior example of a superior race. A drow who is under another’s authority chafes at the servitude. If a drow fails in some way, it is because of underlings’ failures, enemies’ machinations, or allies’ betrayals. It is never that individual’s fault.
- Favor: The Spider Queen holds her favor over the drow of Menzoberranzan as a reward to those please her. She forces the drow to dance about like puppets on a string to gain her favor, and she is quick to take it away for the slightest offense. As a consequence, all drow constantly beg for Lolth’s favor and try to find new ways to earn it.
- Station: Social standing is everything to drow. They yearn to climb in station in order to lord their new authority over even more drow. This driving ambition pushes drow to take risks and forsake good sense. Station is gained through treachery and invites treachery against those who hold it.
- Vengeance: No insult can go unpunished, and any challenge must be answered, or a drow risks being considered weak, which is as good as a death sentence. Even if payback takes years, drow mull on every slight and plot devastating vengeance.
A Few of My Favorite Things
Here is small list of things a drow would not hesitate to do, if it brings them power, that other races usually find deplorable.
- Worshiping Dark Gods or Demons
- Animating the Dead
- Damning or Harming Souls
- Consorting with Fiends
- Creating Evil Creatures
- Using Others for Personal Gain
- Punishing Innocents
- Bringing Despair
- Fetishes – Cannibalism, Sadism, Masochism, Self-Mutilation, Necrophilia, Bestiality, etc…
Personally, I enjoy remembering that all drow, from time to time, experience weakness. They will, as anyone will, feel love, compassion, or sympathy. The difference between you and the drow that feels these things is the drow will feel guilt and shame for indulging them, in the same way you or I might feel guilty about cheating on a loved one, or for doing heroine. There are inevitably thousands of drow in Menzoberranzan, right now, engaging in acts of weakness. They just do it where others can’t see. Disgusting, no?
You Can Do It!
Go forth, be strong, trust only in yourself, and bring glory to the Spider Queen, but above all have fun!