Justify A Level 1 Drow On the Surface?

Frozenstep

Explorer
Wherever your drow lived, it was attacked by mindflayers or something else. Your drow flees for their life, and gets separated from the others in the chaos. By pure luck, your drow finds a path to the surface (or maybe it was a planned escape route, but your drow was the only one to use this particular path due to it being blocked off soon after somehow). Unsure if anyone else survived, unwilling to go back into what's probably mind flayer territory now, unable to do anything but try to figure out a way to survive up on the surface.
 
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dave2008

Legend
Try reading it helps. Wasn't the point of it at all.
If the subject doesn't line up with the title - what is the point? Like I said, your post was too long, on a subject matter I find inconsequential based on the title, for me to want to read it. No worries - you don't need my input.
 

Laurefindel

Adventurer
  • PC is sole survivor of a surface raid, or left for dead after a raid. That fits the PC just right.
  • PC was to be sacrificed/exiled on surface. Something happened.
  • Rival/brother/sister had to make PC disappear quietly.
  • Snow White origin story redux: father/mother/slave maid hadn't the heart to kill PC like matriarch said and left them on surface instead. "Prince Charming" is coming.
  • PC got lost during training. Better stay away than go back to face the consequences.
  • Despite their black skin, PC is half high-elf. PC's origins overcomes will to remain in drow society.
  • Drow society sucks. Anything has got to be better!
  • Self-imposed exile. PC did something bad and must atone by spending life under the big bad sun.
  • Fugitive. "They would be crazy to follow me here!"
  • PC "saw the light" of Elven God or good-aligned drow god (Eilistraee?)
  • PC disappointed mother "for the last time".
  • PC isn't quite of sound mind. They even [gasp] lack cruelty!

The reason to be on the surface is relatively easy to justify. The reason to stay suggests some kind of special case against going back.
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Any number of reasons, and varies by campaign. In my campaign the only way I can see this working would be a reverse slave/kidnapping scenario. Some surface dwelling organization want to "liberate" those poor drow kids and does a raid into the underdark, whether this was the only success or not is up to you.

This would also give the PC a reason to have a hat of disguise (or a disguise kit), because in my campaign they'd probably be killed on sight.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
It's been a few years since I played a drow, but if I remember right, he started out as a scout. His mission was to sneak into a quiet little human village, discover what defenses and resources they had, and report back to his superiors. But as he was skulking around, a band of filthy, disgusting dwarves attacked the town! He joined the fray and ended up fighting alongside the human captain of the guard, and both were impressed with each other's fighting prowess. By dawn, an uneasy alliance (and unlikely bromance) had been formed, and the two would go on to fight alongside each other for several adventures.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
Sorry, you post was too long, so I didn't read it. But based on your title my justification is . . .
"Justify A Level 1 Drow On the Surface?"
I mean, I'll skip the comments that aren't on the first or last page, but this is . . . something.

In 25 years of D&D I have made one Drow PC and never played it back in the late 90s.

I normally don't allow them but recently noticed that people don't chose them anyway. . .

Now assuming I did play one I think I would play a Rogue either CN or N. More Han Solo in the cantina than Drizzt. If the DM says no or no evil races I wouldn't bother. . .

Reason is I have found a very narrow build that only a Drow qualifies for. It's hypothetical and it's not good as such but Dex based melee sorcerer/cleric in a domain without martial weapons.
Sooo... you don't allow the Drow, you have the type of DM who would flat-out nix player ideas, and you've only wanted to play a Drow once in 25 years? Does that make this a gedanken experiment, then?

What would a level 1 Drow be doing on the surface? Erm...
  • Sleepwalking.
  • Pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities. Like showing skin at a freak show.
  • Emerging from the birth canal of a rhino. Just like Ace Ventura.
  • Being a sign from the gods.
  • Waiting in a flask. Yes, it required several shrink-spells, and you were hoping to pop out of it and surprise grandma for her 560th birthday, and it seems the flask took a severely wrong turn. But there you are.
 

LordEntrails

Adventurer
What's your setting and when in the setting timeline are you? As others have pointed out, depending upon where and when, drow can be 'regularly' seen on the surface. Take Waterdeep in 1493DR, drow walk openly among the streets.

So, where and when?
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
This may help. The PHB did a pretty massive disservice to the race as playable by focusing exclusively on Salvatore's drow to the exclusion of all other official versions. In darksun I don't even thin they are differentiated from the elves & darksun's elves are.... different
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Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
As someone else said, Bregan D'aerthe of Forgotten Realms are the best "model" for how to do low-leveled Drow on the surface.

For males its especially easy; you're not happy with being a second-class citizen, so you leave to carve your own path on the surface.

For females its a little trickier (the status-quo benefits you after all) but you could easily just be on the run for failing some test, or having a fling with a rival House, or something else.

This really isn't that hard to do. I'm honestly so curious what your group is like that they've never requested a drow, as when I started 5E and went to a beginners MeetUp group, drow is one of the more popular choices (it was probably tied with normal elf). This really might be a divide between new players and old ones, but I've got no idea.
 

MonkeezOnFire

Adventurer
For females its a little trickier (the status-quo benefits you after all) but you could easily just be on the run for failing some test, or having a fling with a rival House, or something else.
I'm not super familiar with FR lore (I did read the dark elf trilogy, but that was long ago). As the privileged sex are females given freedom to determine their own fate? If so would it be really out of place to have a female drow leave the underdark to pursue an adventuring life?

I get the vibe that the drow culture heavily favours putting the drow first, but their culture also heavily encourages treachery. Basically what I'm trying to get at is do we have a sense overall of how many drow follow in Drizzt's footsteps and break away from the culture propagated by Menzoberranzan and can a drow do it willingly?
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
I'm not super familiar with FR lore (I did read the dark elf trilogy, but that was long ago). As the privileged sex are females given freedom to determine their own fate? If so would it be really out of place to have a female drow leave the underdark to pursue an adventuring life?

I get the vibe that the drow culture heavily favours putting the drow first, but their culture also heavily encourages treachery. Basically what I'm trying to get at is do we have a sense overall of how many drow follow in Drizzt's footsteps and break away from the culture propagated by Menzoberranzan and can a drow do it willingly?
I think you're right that females technically have the freedom to do what they want, but their society tends to be theocratic and militaristic, so freedom as a general rule for anyone isn't really common. So I think females are allowed a lot more freedom as to what role they choose in society, and are more easily able to get leadership positions, but they're still expected to be a part of society and contributing to their House.

More generally, it's clearly @Zardnaar 's POV that a drow would never willingly go to the surface if their life was going ok, so I'm trying to work within that framework. I think you can easily just write the classic "I was born in a bad society/family and decided to leave because I intrinsically knew it was bad and didn't like it" but @Zardnaar probably wouldn't accept that explanation.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
I think you're right that females technically have the freedom to do what they want, but their society tends to be theocratic and militaristic, so freedom as a general rule for anyone isn't really common. So I think females are allowed a lot more freedom as to what role they choose in society, and are more easily able to get leadership positions, but they're still expected to be a part of society and contributing to their House.

More generally, it's clearly @Zardnaar 's POV that a drow would never willingly go to the surface if their life was going ok, so I'm trying to work within that framework. I think you can easily just write the classic "I was born in a bad society/family and decided to leave because I intrinsically knew it was bad and didn't like it" but @Zardnaar probably wouldn't accept that explanation.
That's fine but it's more the logistics of getting from the underdark to the surface.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
Playing baldurs gate 2 and the Drow city that you infiltrate is fairly close the the surface (I think they say itbwas the first location the drow settled when fleeing the surface). Might only be a day trip to get from the drow city to the surface world.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Playing baldurs gate 2 and the Drow city that you infiltrate is fairly close the the surface (I think they say itbwas the first location the drow settled when fleeing the surface). Might only be a day trip to get from the drow city to the surface world.
Drow cities are often only 1-2 miles from the surface as the crow flies/ Xorn digs.

Some sort of trading emporium.
 

Kurotowa

Adventurer
Here's your first major decision gate for a surface drow: Are you there by choice or by necessity?

A drow on the surface by choice might be philosophically opposed to the dominant drow culture and seeking alternatives. They might have left seeking something that can't be found at home, such as treasure or power or true love that doesn't come with the threat of poison knives in the back. Or maybe they're on a special long term mission and only feigning being an outcast.

A drow on the surface by necessity is one who can't go home even if they wanted to and found acclimating to surface life preferable to being alone in the underdark. Maybe they were exiled. Maybe they're fleeing a death sentence for some offense, great or small. Maybe their faction lost a power struggle and anything was preferable to kissing the boot of the winner.

The reason this distinction is important is that the former group are more likely to have assimilated to surface culture, while the latter have greater leeway to hold on to their old attitudes and beliefs.
 
What would a level 1 Drow be doing on the surface? Erm...
  • Sleepwalking.
  • Pursuing entrepreneurial opportunities. Like showing skin at a freak show.
  • Emerging from the birth canal of a rhino. Just like Ace Ventura.
  • Being a sign from the gods.
  • Waiting in a flask. Yes, it required several shrink-spells, and you were hoping to pop out of it and surprise grandma for her 560th birthday, and it seems the flask took a severely wrong turn. But there you are.
I absolutely LOVE that last option. If my current character dies, I might just have to steal it.
 

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