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D&D 5E Tasha's Drow Art and the Future of Their Depictions in D&D

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I hope to see lots of cosplay of that and hopefullly never a cosplay of Drizzt do Urden from the cover of Drizzt do Urdens Guide to the Underdark shudders. Or every single person on the NPC cards in the Menzoberranzan Boxed set. shudders even more
God I'd forgotten about those - thanks for re-traumatizing me mate!
 

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I’m pretty sure D&D elves do canonically range the full gamut of human skin colors.
Depends on the edition and/or setting.

I'd suggest there was an underlying assumption that all races are pale-skinned, because looking through some 2E material (PHB, Complete Book of Elves), it's only when a race is not pale-skinned that it's specified. For example, in the PHB, no racial skin tones are specified except the "dark tan" skin of Gnomes, and the "ruddy cheeks" of Dwarves (weird flex but okay). In the CBoE, Drow are specified to have dark skin (in the "full racist" creation story it offers as), but High Elves, whilst their eyes and hair are specified, their skin is not, for example.

But you could read this either way - either it's mildly subversive, and even in 2E, the writers wanted to allow us to have dark-skinned hobbitses or whatever, or they're just assuming everyone is white and not even thinking about it. I tend to think the latter, but...
 

Whoawhoa, what's that?! Where did you see this?! You need to post a picture when you drop bombs like that!

DM-decree, now all drows, male or female, have white porn-staches to go with their silky hairs!
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242drowfiendfolio.jpg
 


Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I've always said that it would make more sense for a subterranean race to have pale, if not translucent white skin.

I am good with the new art direction, but I hate this argument for it.

The pale skin is reasonable for a world with Darwinian evolution for a species that's been in an unlit environment for a time on the evolutionary timescale. Which makes it a poor rationale in a world of created species and histories on the order of 10K years.
 


I am good with the new art direction, but I hate this argument for it.

The pale skin is reasonable for a world with Darwinian evolution for a species that's been in an unlit environment for a time on the evolutionary timescale. Which makes it a poor rationale in a world of created species and histories on the order of 10K years.
But because we have seen it in the real world, people still associate a lack of colour with subterranean dwellers.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
Anyone who’s upset by this is weird.
There's nothing weird about being upset when something we think looks good (aesthetically) is changed. Nothing weird about having personal taste in aesthetics. For example, I liked the Klingons on TNG better than those of discovery, and the change did upset me a little. There's a difference between being upset and "you RUINED D&D and all my childhood!" kindda ragequit statement

Now, there's an important underlying political/societal statement that goes with this particular subject that cannot be avoided, but disagreeing with it is not "weird".
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Depends on the edition and/or setting.

I'd suggest there was an underlying assumption that all races are pale-skinned, because looking through some 2E material (PHB, Complete Book of Elves), it's only when a race is not pale-skinned that it's specified. For example, in the PHB, no racial skin tones are specified except the "dark tan" skin of Gnomes, and the "ruddy cheeks" of Dwarves (weird flex but okay). In the CBoE, Drow are specified to have dark skin (in the "full racist" creation story it offers as), but High Elves, whilst their eyes and hair are specified, their skin is not, for example.

But you could read this either way - either it's mildly subversive, and even in 2E, the writers wanted to allow us to have dark-skinned hobbitses or whatever, or they're just assuming everyone is white and not even thinking about it. I tend to think the latter, but...
I could have sworn most of the PHB race entries mentioned running the same range of skin tones as humans... Maybe I’m thinking of 4e though.
 

The world needs more elves with facial hair:

1618500902534.png


1618501278184.png

One of these days I'm going to play a bearded elf, or one with a big beer belly.

But, back to the subject at hand, I dig the new drow design. I think the all-evil cultural stuff will change, but for that to happen, we'd need something like a full 5e Forgotten Realms Setting Sourcebook, an Underdark setting book, or a new Underdark-centric adventure (or even a redesigned re-release of Out of the Abyss). Eberron's sourcebook, for example, has already changed the drow significantly.

It's got to be big enough to stick.
 

TheSword

Legend
I have no problems with drow having varying shades of grey skin. Makes sense. Duergar are also depicted as grey skinned as are svirfneblin too. Don’t really see how it’s controversial. Particularly as grey is far far easier for me to paint than obsidian (a total ball ache to paint).

However the Tashas art is probably a really bad example of it. Just because the art is so cringeworthy, almost cartoon like. I too hate the bat like elf ears.

The good thing about the grey skin tone is it does allow for quite a lot of variety in depiction which makes for more interesting art.

View attachment D3E02B10-3B88-4E4E-8652-6A069A19DBEA.webp
 

Moon elf skin was pale, often with an icy blue hue. Moon elf hair was commonly black, blue, or silvery white, although human-like colors were heard of as well, though very rare. Moon elf eyes, like those of other elves, were very commonly green, although some were blue as well. All exhibited a characteristic best described as golden flecks speckled through the iris.
-FR Wiki.

But I find when creating elven characters for CRPGs, I'm more comfortable with human-ish skin tones.
 

I am good with the new art direction, but I hate this argument for it.

The pale skin is reasonable for a world with Darwinian evolution for a species that's been in an unlit environment for a time on the evolutionary timescale. Which makes it a poor rationale in a world of created species and histories on the order of 10K years.

It's not even a consistent principle in nature, many deep sea fish have adapted to the sunless conditions by becoming hyper-melanistic. Should Kuo Toa be black because science?
 

Ragmon

Explorer
Considering humans have a large variety of skin tones, there's no reason why any of the demi-humans races wouldn't also. So there should be dark-skinned wood elves, and light-skinned drow elves, just like there should be snirfneblin with white skin, grey skin, dark grey skin, purplish-grey skin, etc.

So adding some alabaster-skinned drow art to the slew of obsidian-skinned drow art we already have via Google image search doesn't bother me in the slightest.
Yea, but Drow are cursed and that is why there skin color is like that. It is not due to natural selection.
 

Laurefindel

Legend
I have no problems with drow having varying shades of grey skin. Makes sense. Duergar are also depicted as grey skinned as are svirfneblin too. Don’t really see how it’s controversial. Particularly as grey is far far easier for me to paint than obsidian (a total ball ache to paint).

However the Tashas art is probably a really bad example of it. Just because the art is so cringeworthy, almost cartoon like. I too hate the bat like elf ears.

The good thing about the grey skin tone is it does allow for quite a lot of variety in depiction which makes for more interesting art.

View attachment 135575
Grey is not controversial; change is*.

see Michael Bay's Optimus Prime vs 80's cartoon Optimus Prime, TNG Klingons vs Discovery Klingons, virtually every movie adapted from a book, etc.

Over-reacted? Yeah, most of the time. But nothing new.

*assuming there was a strong drow representation in the first place, which is debatable in itself.
 


Ragmon

Explorer
I hadn’t noticed this, but you’re absolutely right. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this is a conscious change in art direction. My drow have been albino-pale for years now, so I definitely approve of this change, as it brings the depiction in the books much closer to the way I describe them.
But why? Natural selection or adaptation has nothing to do with their skin color. They have been cursed with dark skin for worshiping Loth and comiting evil deeds, and their offspring inherit this curse.
 


Azzy

KMF DM
Depends on the edition and/or setting.

I'd suggest there was an underlying assumption that all races are pale-skinned, because looking through some 2E material (PHB, Complete Book of Elves), it's only when a race is not pale-skinned that it's specified. For example, in the PHB, no racial skin tones are specified except the "dark tan" skin of Gnomes, and the "ruddy cheeks" of Dwarves (weird flex but okay). In the CBoE, Drow are specified to have dark skin (in the "full racist" creation story it offers as), but High Elves, whilst their eyes and hair are specified, their skin is not, for example.

But you could read this either way - either it's mildly subversive, and even in 2E, the writers wanted to allow us to have dark-skinned hobbitses or whatever, or they're just assuming everyone is white and not even thinking about it. I tend to think the latter, but...
Not 2e, but the 1e MM decribed dwarves as "Dwarves are typically deep tan to light brown of skin, with ruddy cheeks and bright eyes (almost never blue). Their hair is brown, black or gray."

So, there's some (light) brown-skinned demihumans. Unfortunately, no D&D dwarf art that I'm aware of has ever depicted them as such skin tones.
 

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