Of the various elven subraces, none are more notorious than
Descended from the original dark-skinned elven subrace called
the Ssri-tel-quessir, the drow were cursed into their present appearance by the
good elven deities for following the goddess Lolth down the path to evil and
Though divided by endless feuds and schisms, the drow are united
in one terrible desire: they seethe with a hatred for the surface elves. By
their way of reckoning, they proved themselves the superior race in the Fourth
Crown War, and the fact that the Seldarine (and Corellon in particular)
punished them for their success is a poison that churns in their hearts and
minds eternally. They burn with hatred for the Seldarine and their coddled
children, and want nothing more than to return to the surface and bring to the
elves there suffering a thousand times greater than that which the drow have
been forced to endure over the past ten thousand years.
In the beginning, the Ssri-tel-quessir were the most
successful of the elven colonists to the new world of Faerûn. The nation of
Ilythiir quickly became one of the most powerful of the early elven nations.
But the Ssri-tel-quessir were not only the most successful of the elves of
their time, they were also the most cruel and jealous.
Despite their own accomplishments, they envied those of their
neighbors all the same. While the First Crown War raged to the north, the dark
elves waged their own war against their neighbors, seeking to dominate the
elven realms of southern Faerûn.
Unsuccessful in three attempts to subjugate the neighboring realms,
the dark elves of Ilythiir turned to a new and secret patron at the opening of
the Fourth Crown War. The dark elves pledged their loyalties to the outcast
Seldarine of the Demonweb Pits, and to Lolth in particular. The Spider Queen
and her fellow exiles (with the notable exception of Eilistraee) granted the
dark elves of Ilythiir great magical powers, fiendish allies, and support in
return for their allegiance, and the Ilythiiri wreaked great havoc among the
other elven realms.
But their success and victory were short-lived, for Corellon
was shocked and deeply enraged by the traitorous acts of the dark elves. By his
decree, the Ilythiiri elves were cursed, transformed into drow and banished
from the surface world into the Underdark. They became known as the dhaeraow (the elven word for traitor),
and over the centuries this word has since given them the name by which they
are known: drow.
After their exile below ground, the drow lived as nomads,
scavengers, and feral beasts. Eventually, through the guidance of Lolth, they
drew themselves together as a race and began to make the best of their
situation, colonizing large portions of the Underdark.
The first underground drow civilizations were established in
southern Faerûn around –9600 DR. In –9000 DR, the drow seized the great cavern
of Bhaerynden from the gold dwarves and established the first great drow
kingdom, Telantiwar. Unfortunately, the drow of Telantiwar quickly fell into
terrible civil wars, the eventual result of which were several massive magical
explosions that collapsed the caverns of their nation and formed the Great Rift
in southern Faerûn.
The few drow survivors of this cataclysm scattered
throughout the Underdark, slowly settling regions farther and farther away from
their original homelands in the South. In time, the drow built dozens of
magnificent, terrifying cities deep underground, quite an achievement for a
people so predisposed toward treachery, infighting, and civil war.
Sshamath, the City of Dark Weavings, was founded beneath the
Far Hills in –4973 DR.
Menzoberra the Kinless, a high priestess of Lolth,
established the city of Menzoberranzan in –3917 DR. House Nasadra, exiled from
Menzoberranzan, founded Ched Nasad in –3843 DR.
Many other cities lie beneath
other parts of Faerûn, sometimes exerting their baleful influence on the lands
above, such as the conquest of the human realm of Dambrath by the drow of T’lindhet
in 804 DR, or the centuries-long rule of Maerimydra over Shadowdale hundreds of