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

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
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.
As mentioned earlier, read the Mazalan Book of the Fallen. Specifically the Tiste Liosan - the "light elves", the children of the light. They are so "good" that they are effectively villains. Unfortunately they are not a major protagonist.
 

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Greenfield

Adventurer
I once did a lookup/translation of the phrase "dark elf" once, in a variety of languages. In the Scandinavian tongues it becomes Dakalfar, very relatable to English. In another language (I can't remember which) it was Trow. I think that may be the origin of the name. It wasn't Gaelic or Welsh, I remember that much.l (I use those languages a lot when I need an interesting name.))

In all of the cultures, however, the "dark elves" existed in one form or another. In all cases they were considered evil. (Note that the German word for Elf is "Kobold" :) )

So Gygax and company may have coined the phrase we know, but they didn't invent the concept. It's been there for a long time.
 


Voadam

Hero
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.
I think Dragonlance is the biggest example of that. Its been a while but I think the Qualinesti elves there kept other elves as slaves and really played up the noble arrogant jerk angle.

In AD&D the Grugach wild elves from Unearthed Arcana and MM II were Chaotic Neutral elven xenophobes who could be assassins and all had the ability to set traps.

From UA "Wild elves, or grugach, shun outsiders even more fervently than other elves, and are xenophobic even with regard to other elven races."

From MM II "They are completely xenophobic, distrusting even other sorts of elves"

Wood elves were noted as being more neutral than other elves.

Gray elves "never associate with any other humanoids, other than elves, for long — or with frequency." and are described as noble elves so running with the noble jerk trope is not unreasonable.
 

Arduin has Deodanths they eat Drow and other elves. - Deodanths the party member who ask, "I thought you guys where the Iron Rations?"

Mystara has Shadow Elves - very misunderstood elves.

Arcanum has Druas Everything Drow should of been. (unfortunately not in Arcanum 30th Anniversary due to copyrights)

Druas are now only in Talislanta
 

Also in Dragonlance, the Dark Elves were just elves that had been exiled for misdeeds real or perceived (Dalamar being the most prominent). When I was a kid, those were the first Dark Elves I came across, so the Drow in Unearthed Arcana were a little confusing at first.

I think Dragonlance is the biggest example of that. Its been a while but I think the Qualinesti elves there kept other elves as slaves and really played up the noble arrogant jerk angle.
 

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