The Drow of Ravincia
The Drow of Ravincia are Militaristic cast society, with priestesses of their evil spider goddess Lolth typically in the highest seats of power. Males typically following her consort Umbragen the devouring darkness, are considered to focused on conquest and war to lead outside the military hierarchy. Some would say the females weave the webs of power and intrigue that hold the society together while the males are the fangs and blades that bring all who oppose them under heel.
Ravincian Drow society is matriarchal, militaristic, and heavily influenced by religion. A culture based upon violence, murder, cunning, conquest and the philosophy that only the strong survive. Hence, most Drow plot endlessly to murder or otherwise incapacitate their rivals and enemy Drow using deceit and betrayal. Drow, particularly in higher positions, are constantly wary of assassins and the like. One of the quirks of this constant infighting is the relatively short lifespan of the average Drow. While being just as long lived as their surface cousins, living as long as a thousand years; you are very unlikely to meet an elderly Drow. Their society, as a whole, is seemingly nonviable. The only reason they do not murder themselves to extinction is by the will of Lolth, working primarily through her clergy. Lolth does not tolerate any Drow that threaten to bring down her society, and the clergy make certain that perpetrators cease their destructive actions by either threatening or killing them, depending on her mood and how likely it is to be a successful deterrent.
Their city-states are formed in huge underground caverns but frequently war with one another. These cities are governed by the most powerful of the Orders (or houses) and although the power of the many houses changes often, the top few usually remain stable. While political governance falls to the Matrons of the Orders, all ultimately answer to the Clerics of Lolth.
Though religion plays a large part in drow society, the caste system and other seemingly-lawful aspects of the culture clash with Lolth’s intent and directives as a chaotic evil goddess. As a result, much of the tension between the clergy of Lolth and more secular drow comes from this very different perspective.
Males who hope to find any place of power in society focus quickly on a military devotion be it martial or arcane, beyond this the only hope is to perhaps win a coveted place as the courtesan of a powerful matron mother. Drow males are considered to focused on conquest and war to lead outside the military hierarchy. Some would say the females weave the webs of power and intrigue that hold the society together, while the males are the fangs and blades that bring all who oppose the drow under heel.
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 Orders, 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. They appreciate a sense of subtlety and thus drow are often courteous and urbane, even to deadly rivals.
Cities are structured around the most powerful Orders 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.
The Ravincian Drow possess an almost fanatical sense of racial superiority. They bear a particular hatred of Elves and Eladrin, viewing them as a weak, soft, version of themselves encompassing all they revile. However the Drow will wage war with almost any surface race and other subterranean races, such as mind flayers, svirfneblin, duergar, kuo-toa, dwarves, and orcs, for spoils and territory. Still despite this often a city will seek to forge an alliance with a powerful Underdark creature like a deep dragon or beholder so that they can gain extra protection.
Read more about Drow Society.
Drow primarily worship the pathion of the Dark Seldarine – that is, those deities cast out of the Seldarine and exiled to the DemonWeb pits of the Abyss. Above all others they worship the Spider Queen Lolth. She patterns her life and the lives of her worshipers on a regimen of chaotic acts and the veneration of spiders. The way that new-born spider broods tear each other apart to survive especially appeals to her. She promotes this by encouraging her worshipers to kill their rivals, thus ensuring that they are the strongest of the ‘brood’. Her love of chaos often makes her appear mad but the wise see her as a calculating individual who is always several steps ahead of those who believe that they can anticipate her. She is cruel and dominating, forcing her will upon her followers and her enemies, a will which instructs the strong to crush the weak in the most torturous way imaginable.
All of the Drow Clerics follow Lolth. With out exception she will not grant Clerical power to males. However she will empower them in other aspects, those with in the military ranks who follow the Divine path Avengers, Paladins and Invokers draw their power from the Spider Queen. As do most of those drawing from the Primal power source; Barbarians, Shaman, Druids, and Wardens.
Second only to the spider Queen is her consort Umbragen the devouring darkness. This shadowy male epitomizes the power of shadow, his are the gifts of relentless darkness. As the light is crushed the darkness grows. Only through cold, calculating and methodical expansion can all before you be devoured. It is this lawful orderly guidance that allows the relentless military expansion of the drow. All others must be brought into the darkness or devoured. Still there is more to Umbragen than just expansion for the darkness also holds secrets. In his case the potent secrets of Magic.
Almost all of the Martial classes follow Umbragen; Fighters, Rangers, Warlords, even those of a less than orderly bent such as Rogues. Those the draw upon the Arcane, also draw upon his secrets Bards, Spell Blades, Sorcerers Warlocks and Wizards. There are no Clerics of Umbragen for when one calls to the darkness it does not answer.
Read more about Drow Religion.
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 Seldarine and the surface elves (“Darthiir” in Drow) and wish to re-take the surface world from their hated brethren. 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 arcanistsi f males and wielders of divine or political powers if female. Drow scouts are also valuable for the early warnings of threats they can provide in the tunnels of the Underdark. 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.
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. Worse yet those that escape must always live in fear of being branded heretics or deserters and hunted by their former kin.
Read more about Drow Psychology.
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