Drow are a dark-skinned sub-race of elves. They are shorter than many other sub-races of elves and have a tremendous resistance to magic. They also have a much higher birthrate than most other elves, but strife tends to keep their numbers down.
In many ways, drow resemble eladrin. Drow have obsidian colored skin and pale yellow, silver or white hair, the latter being by far the most common. This hair is carefully groomed and cared for by most drow and worn long with jewelry and other accessories decorating it. Like all elves, drow are incapable of growing beards, though many males are fond of long sideburns
Drow eyes are usually bright red, but some are known to have different colored, commonly much paler, eyes such as blue, lilac, pink or silver. Sometimes their eyes are even green which would implicate that this particular drow has some surface elven blood in their veins. They usually vary in height between 5'4" and 6', and weigh between 130 to 175 lbs on average. Like all elves, all drow are handsome and beautiful.
Drow have lifespans far beyond that of humans and comparable with the rest of the elves, although usually somewhat longer. This is, of course, presuming the drow doesn't meet a premature and violent end, as many often do, but those that survive the trials of their society and the horrors of the Underdark can live for centuries, sometimes as long as 1000 years or more.
Drow are more agile and alluring than most humanoid races and also have many other special abilities that differentiate them from other races. Like all elves, drow require no sleep but instead enter a meditative trance throughout which they retain full awareness of their surroundings. This state is half-again more efficient than the way in which most races gain rest. Recently it was shown that more and more drow are actually sleeping because they can not find the peace in themselves to enter reverie.
The most distinctive feature of drow, however, is the touch of Lolth upon them. Just as Corellon cursed them and made them vulnerable to light, the Spider Queen gave the drow a blessing to counteract this, giving the drow a power over darkness that other races lack. This power can manifest in several ways. The most common being the ability to shroud enemies in magical, impenetrable darkness, usually called Globe of Darkness, or a debilitating charm called faerie fire that makes a creature an easier target, encasing them in something that looks like purple fire, though causing no harm.
Most drow can only use these abilities every so often, and the power tires them slightly. More experienced and well-trained drow, however, learn to cast both abilities separately. Yet others, particularly drow who are well-favored by Lolth, manifest another ability that both slows and impedes a foe, while also making it more difficult for them to see.
Some individuals learn to awaken these powers further, becoming known as the curseborn and possessing abilities that allow them to further master the shadow power granted by the Spider Queen, for whatever ends. Other drow struggle to rid themselves of Lolth’s touch and instead seek Corellon’s aid, eventually becoming the fey god’s crusader within the dark realms of their race, gaining blessings of healing and light from the patron of the elves . Either path leads to great power and grants even more unique abilities to an individual drow.
Drow are taught from an early age to trust no one, forging alliances only when they are confident that they can outmatch their ally if he/she decides to turn on them. The inherent pride in their own abilities quite often leads to such alliances being forged, though they almost always end badly when one party decides said alliance is no longer convenient. Even drow who escape the cruelties of the Underdark find it more difficult to form long-term friendships than most races do.
Most drow share a hatred of all other races, especially surface races but hate most of all the surface elves. It is the only thing that unites them as a species, leading them to yearn for a return to the surface that will defeat the surface elves.
Drow have an admiration for stealth and guile, and works of great skill. They are encouraged to become warriors or arcanists, if male, and wielders of divine powers, if female. Drow scouts are also valuable for the early warnings of threats they can provide in the tunnels of the Underdark. An assassin is prestigious in drow culture. Drow are also known for their allure, which can be seductive but is more likely used as a tool of fear.
All drow enjoy surrounding themselves with things of beauty (drow cities are always spectacles of breathtaking architecture) and often partake of lavish revels, indulging in the most pleasurable of activities, including long nights of dinner and massages. Some drow were fond of dances, including the frenzied nedeirra competition or the illiyitrii, a formal dance sometimes involving costumes.
It is important to recognize that though drow are untrusting and devious, they are not necessarily evil any more than gnolls or tieflings and drow can become forces of good given the right conditions. However, the mental scars of drow culture are not easily removed from the minds of an individual and the terrors of the Underdark and drow society can leave those who reject its evil with fractured minds and even a loose hold on their sanity. Others may escape the Underdark relatively unscarred, but these individuals are rare and considered, by and large, anomalies.
Drow society is matriarchal, militaristic, and heavily influenced by religion. Their city-states are formed in huge underground caverns but frequently at war with one another. These cities are ruled by the most powerful of the families (or houses) and although the power of the many families changes often, the top few usually remain stable. Males who hope to find any place of power in society often resort to ends as treacherous as the women that rule the drow, hoping to perhaps win a coveted place as the Mate of a powerful matron mother.
It can be easy to imagine that drow females, by comparison, have it much easier but this is an illusion and their prestigious position within society comes at a high cost. In fact, the teachings of Lolth, and drive to gain more power over others makes competition between female drow, particularly those who belong to powerful houses, violently competitive in a way that males do not have to cope with. Matters are even worse for those who seek power through venues outside of Lolth’s church, where the females have to compete not only with one another but with resentful and oppressed males.
Drow are arrogant, ambitious, sadistic, treacherous and hedonistic. From birth, drow are taught they are superior to other races and should crush those beneath them. Children who resist and show kindness or love are brutally punished, so as to drive the instinct of cruelty into them. They value advancement over their peers more than anything else, pulling down their superiors and crushing their inferiors. This doesn't mean they treat all of their peers with disdain, however. Drow are not barbaric and appreciate a sense of subtlety and thus drow are typically courteous and urbane, even to their most hated rivals.
Cities are structured around the most powerful families taking the best areas, leaving the other drow to take whatever land they can. The focus of a city is often the temple of Lolth and this is often in the grounds of the ruling family. Magical items that emit faerie fire adorning buildings are a sign of prosperity. Outside the city, the garrison and some of the slaves are kept, as well as rothé farms.
Often a city will seek to forge an alliance with a powerful Underdark creature like a deep dragon or a beholder so that they can gain extra protection.
Although many drow seek to regain the surface world that they feel was taken from them unjustly, some have become so used to life in the Underdark that they would prefer to make the best of this realm and have no interest in the surface.
The drow who do choose to live on the surface do not form any kind of organized society and instead live as hermits and outcasts. They will interact with other societies when they need to, but not through choice.
The drow liked to eat animals that were still living because they believed the meat had a better flavor.