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General The Gygaxian Origins of Drow and Some Thought on their Depiction As Villians


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Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
The treatment of dark elves in The Malazan Book of the Fallen surely should be examined... especially considering that the books were born from an RPG campaign.

It's only 3.25 million words after all @_@
 


I just can't believe with the holidays, everybody doesn't like the name Chris. My best bro is a Kris, and he's a great guy!
 






The Albino Drow.
 

pming

Adventurer
Religion/politics
Hiya!

A Christian who gets offended by being wished happy holidays is upset that their religion isn’t being treated as default. Changing one’s behavior to avoid offending Christians in this manner inherently denies all non-Christians the same recognition of their culture and traditions. In other words, the Christian wants special treatment - specifically, for their religion to be treated as default.
Obviously I disagree. I think you are attributing motivations to an entire group of people. Why is a Christian getting offended because he's upset his religion isn't being treated as 'default' somehow different than a Jew or Muslim or whatever? No difference. I think you're grasping at straws here. IMNSHO, Christians don't want "special treatment for their religion to be treated as default" any more than Jews, Muslims, Hindu's, Sikh's, or any other religion. They ALL want their religion to be the.


Charlaquin said:
No, the point they were making was “if [minority group] uses [derogatory term for members of said minority group], they shouldn’t get upset when other people do.” The walking on eggshells comment was an evasion, inconsistent with the initial complaint.
I'm not sure I follow. Are you saying "if whites use 'cracker', they shouldn't get upset when other people do" (for example)...because, well, yeah. I agree with that. If you don't want some word to be used...don't use it. It's like swearing/cursing around children. If you don't want your 5 year old dropping f-bombs all over the playground...maybe not use the f-word so much. That's just common sense, really.

The walking on eggshells comment wasn't an evasion, just a comment on the current state of western countries social situation. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.


Charlaquin said:
You don’t lose those protections online. Those protections are specifically against legal consequences for your speech. You won’t get arrested or sued for anything you say on those sites, provided what you say isn’t defamatory or likely to incite immediate violence. There is no legal protection against the social consequences of one’s speech.
Have you ever read various forums, video sites, social media sites, etc., ToS's? They have, of late (last couple years) taken to adding in VERY vague statements that, effectively, let them use anything they want as a reason to ban someone. It's called "Cancel Culture" right now, sometimes "DePlatforming" or even "DePersoning" in extreme examples. Where one social media site decides "We don't like this person's opinion, so we're going to ban them under [whatever vague rule they have in their ToS]". Then others go to every other social media site they can find that the person is on, and complain/point out to that site's owners/moderators "Hey, this person is [insert some label] and is banned for [insert vague rule from other site]. You should ban them too or you are a [insert same label the person was assigned]". ....and these social media sites are all too willing to just say "Oh. Ok. Banned". This trickles down all over the internet...including sites that have NOTHING to do with social media/opinions (re: PayPal, Patreon, even Mastercard or CapitalOne...can you imagine? Getting a notice from your banks saying "We don't like your opinions. We are closing your accounts. Here's your money...minus all the fees for withdrawing all your money and closing your account, of course"? o_O insanity

But this is my last statement along these sub-topics here. The thread is about Drow and whatnot. Say your peace, or better yet, just PM me if you think I said something that you think I didn't understand or you want to make more clear to me. :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
 

Drow are very clearly described as being essentially pitch black and if you wonder why they are painted in various shades of grey or dark brown, it is because it is really hard to show detail when something is black. So the artist lightens it up do the shading / definition can be seen. That is why black hair is shown as blue in comics. I would not read more than that into the various non-black art.

All the Underdark analogues to the surface races as dark skinned - the elves, dwarves and gnomes.

And there seems to be something about living down there that makes them evil.

Looking at humans and nature as an example, lighter skin is no where near as common as darker shades. Even in non-European cultures, the dark normally hides danger and terror and the sun banishes it, so this is a pretty common trope.

I have not had any of the POC in my games over 40+ years identify with the darker skinned races. I have 2 black guys in one of my current campaigns and they just say they are monsters in a game. So this offended by it is not even close to universal.

My reaction to this is the same as always, I ask my players and I listen to my players and adjust accordingly. I can easily see myself wanting a heroic dark skinned race in the D&D monster manual. Maybe if all the darker skinned people were not evil it would not stand out so much.
 

Mercurius

Legend
The treatment of dark elves in The Malazan Book of the Fallen surely should be examined... especially considering that the books were born from an RPG campaign.

It's only 3.25 million words after all @_@
"Surely should be examined?"

It is a literary work by an individual (well, two). We can examine it all we want, but hopefully you're not considering that Erikson and Esslemont should change their books.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen
Hiya!



Obviously I disagree. I think you are attributing motivations to an entire group of people. Why is a Christian getting offended because he's upset his religion isn't being treated as 'default' somehow different than a Jew or Muslim or whatever? No difference. I think you're grasping at straws here. IMNSHO, Christians don't want "special treatment for their religion to be treated as default" any more than Jews, Muslims, Hindu's, Sikh's, or any other religion. They ALL want their religion to be the.




I'm not sure I follow. Are you saying "if whites use 'cracker', they shouldn't get upset when other people do" (for example)...because, well, yeah. I agree with that. If you don't want some word to be used...don't use it. It's like swearing/cursing around children. If you don't want your 5 year old dropping f-bombs all over the playground...maybe not use the f-word so much. That's just common sense, really.

The walking on eggshells comment wasn't an evasion, just a comment on the current state of western countries social situation. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.




Have you ever read various forums, video sites, social media sites, etc., ToS's? They have, of late (last couple years) taken to adding in VERY vague statements that, effectively, let them use anything they want as a reason to ban someone. It's called "Cancel Culture" right now, sometimes "DePlatforming" or even "DePersoning" in extreme examples. Where one social media site decides "We don't like this person's opinion, so we're going to ban them under [whatever vague rule they have in their ToS]". Then others go to every other social media site they can find that the person is on, and complain/point out to that site's owners/moderators "Hey, this person is [insert some label] and is banned for [insert vague rule from other site]. You should ban them too or you are a [insert same label the person was assigned]". ....and these social media sites are all too willing to just say "Oh. Ok. Banned". This trickles down all over the internet...including sites that have NOTHING to do with social media/opinions (re: PayPal, Patreon, even Mastercard or CapitalOne...can you imagine? Getting a notice from your banks saying "We don't like your opinions. We are closing your accounts. Here's your money...minus all the fees for withdrawing all your money and closing your account, of course"? o_O insanity

But this is my last statement along these sub-topics here. The thread is about Drow and whatnot. Say your peace, or better yet, just PM me if you think I said something that you think I didn't understand or you want to make more clear to me. :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
This is getting well into politics and religion, which is against the forum rules. If you want to discuss this with me, you’re welcome to message me, but I’m not having this conversation here.
 

Morrus

Well, that was fun
Staff member
Hiya!



Obviously I disagree. I think you are attributing motivations to an entire group of people. Why is a Christian getting offended because he's upset his religion isn't being treated as 'default' somehow different than a Jew or Muslim or whatever? No difference. I think you're grasping at straws here. IMNSHO, Christians don't want "special treatment for their religion to be treated as default" any more than Jews, Muslims, Hindu's, Sikh's, or any other religion. They ALL want their religion to be the.




I'm not sure I follow. Are you saying "if whites use 'cracker', they shouldn't get upset when other people do" (for example)...because, well, yeah. I agree with that. If you don't want some word to be used...don't use it. It's like swearing/cursing around children. If you don't want your 5 year old dropping f-bombs all over the playground...maybe not use the f-word so much. That's just common sense, really.

The walking on eggshells comment wasn't an evasion, just a comment on the current state of western countries social situation. I could be wrong, but I don't think so.




Have you ever read various forums, video sites, social media sites, etc., ToS's? They have, of late (last couple years) taken to adding in VERY vague statements that, effectively, let them use anything they want as a reason to ban someone. It's called "Cancel Culture" right now, sometimes "DePlatforming" or even "DePersoning" in extreme examples. Where one social media site decides "We don't like this person's opinion, so we're going to ban them under [whatever vague rule they have in their ToS]". Then others go to every other social media site they can find that the person is on, and complain/point out to that site's owners/moderators "Hey, this person is [insert some label] and is banned for [insert vague rule from other site]. You should ban them too or you are a [insert same label the person was assigned]". ....and these social media sites are all too willing to just say "Oh. Ok. Banned". This trickles down all over the internet...including sites that have NOTHING to do with social media/opinions (re: PayPal, Patreon, even Mastercard or CapitalOne...can you imagine? Getting a notice from your banks saying "We don't like your opinions. We are closing your accounts. Here's your money...minus all the fees for withdrawing all your money and closing your account, of course"? o_O insanity

But this is my last statement along these sub-topics here. The thread is about Drow and whatnot. Say your peace, or better yet, just PM me if you think I said something that you think I didn't understand or you want to make more clear to me. :)

^_^

Paul L. Ming
What the hell? Why are you posting religious/political diatribes on my site, let alone in a thread about drow? Don't.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
"Surely should be examined?"

It is a literary work by an individual (well, two). We can examine it all we want, but hopefully you're not considering that Erikson and Esslemont should change their books.
No no, not at all... I meant examined as in "here is a good take on dark elves in fantasy, in novels that have RPG roots". I didn't realize that examined had that connotation...
 


GreenTengu

Explorer
Does it even matter what someone who has been dead for years originally intended? We can't ask him, plenty would skeptical of his answer were he to answer, he can't really defend himself. He also can't hurt anyone.

Even if he at 82 years old were to be staunchly against making a single further alteration to the system-- why does it matter? He isn't here to see it. The game is for those who are playing it and want to play it today. It would be one thing if it were a painting, a movie, a book or otherwise a fixed piece of artwork that can be stuck up in a museum and kept as a part of history. It is a living, ongoing hobby that ought to change with the time. No one need go back and edit the books that he wrote-- those stay as they are. It is about what the next book someone else is going to create is going to be.

I don't think he ever intended or envisioned D&D reaching as far as it has. The initial ideas, though rough, certainly had a spark of brilliance. And for that he deserves praise. But the whole thing wasn't perfect-- it was admittedly deeply flawed and when through revision after revision. D&D also borrowed heavily from the fantasy of 1940s-1970s. And that's fine-- but it isn't 1977 anymore and the fantasy genre has moved on and grown and changed. If modern D&D is going to appeal to modern audiences then it should pull from the fantasy that is relevant in pop culture today much as the original pulled from what was popular then.

If people feel off-put by something, even something entirely unintentional, then by all means-- change it. D&D is pretty far behind the times with regards to the idea that good and evil are defined by one's race rather than one's allegiances. At this point "hero Orcs" and "hero Goblins" are such a super common thing that it feels awfully weird that D&D-- the game determined entirely by imagination and no graphics and modeling team need to be involved to alter the game-- remains one of the few hold outs on the "this race is evil, you can tell because they aren't fair skinned, and thus we will kill them all on sight. And you can't be one-- or you can, but you have to take many big penalties."

Even Tolkien, according to a private letter, felt a little bad about making Orcs entirely irredeemable bad guys years after he wrote his famous books. Not that he wrote a single word to change that within his official canon work, even the unpublished stuff.

And, really, I do got to wonder why all the attention is on the Drow anyway. Good Drow have become almost too common ever since the Drizzt books became popular. There was even an entire good Drow pantheon in Forgotten Realms. The reason "good Drow" seemed kind of like cheating to me is because, for whatever negative traits one might claim for the Elves, the Drow were the only elves who ever got to be the villains. Its awfully strange to me that the only evil version of the pretty good guy race is the only bad guy race to ever become good in huge numbers. But I think that's less that I necessarily want less good Drow so much as I really, really want a whole lot more evil Wood Elves and High Elves-- and maybe just aspects of their cultures that just edge on evil and easily become slippery slopes for them to become villains.

But where are the good Orcs that don't have to be "half-human"? Where are the good Hobgoblins? Where are the good Kobolds? Where are the good Ogres? Or the good Trolls?

Also-- why is it too much to ask for them to be designed with decent PC stats that don't effectively penalize you severely compared to every other race unless you are playing only one specific class?
 

The 1e Monster Manual, Drow entry.

Drow: The Black Elves, or drow, are only legend. They purportedly dwell deep beneath the surface in a strange subterranean realm. The drow are said to be as dark as faeries are bright and as evil as the latter are good. Tales picture them as weak fighters but strong magic-users.



The Drow are "weak fighters but strong magic-users". By any normal reading, this means the Drow are a race of Wizards, and suck at being Fighters.

But no. Gygax creatively reinterprets his own wording, to mean, Drow are great Fighters! "Weak" as in not Strength Fighters, but swift as in Dexterity Fighters.

It is an example of how ad-hoc the D&D traditions evolved.
 
Last edited:

I am moving this here from an other thread.

  • Erase the whole idea that drow are dark-skinned because they were cursed by Corellon Larethian. This has pretty much been done, I believe. It is a rare case in which I think an actual bit of lore should be negated. Perhaps it can be incorporated as an erroneous prejudice that some haughty surface elves hold.
  • Clarify that the drow are obsidian black, not brown.
  • Expand the origin story so that drow are the descendants of a black-skinned race of matriarchal non-evil elves. Maybe Lolth was a priestess who dabbled in demononolgy and attained immortality, leaving the original race with her followers, who thrived in the Underdark. Perhaps Corellon cast her and the drow out, cursing them to fear the sun. The original dark elves still exist, but left the central region (e.g. Faerun) as the drow became more powerful (that's one take; others are possible, and maybe the rulebooks could leave it vague enough to customize).
  • An alternate to the non-evil dark elves, re-work the wood elves as matriarchial.
Cool, totally agree. I like the original Good drow faction being obsidian black as well.

I like your take on Lolth, as a long-lived elf who becomes "immortal".

Similarly, I view the original Good drow as aborigines of the Feywild plane, where they still exist. By contrast, the Lolth faction fled to the Material plane. Then the Wood Elves split away from the Lolth faction, but chose remain in the Material when falling in love with the plant and animal life in the Material plane. The Wood Elves magically adopted the coloring of plants.

I tend to view Lolth and Corellon as siblings, but, I also view both of them as normal elves, who are simply powerful because they have lived long enough to advance to very high levels, epic levels. So, Lolth achieving immortality via demonology makes sense. Maybe she has some kind of pact with spiders, so that as long as spiders exist, then she will exist? Maybe Corellon also achieved immortality via a different kind of magic? The blood of Corellon can spontaneously generate other elves. Maybe this is a byproduct of the magic that Corellon used to achieve immortality, so that his own blood ever-springs-forth life.
 

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