The Drow Slaves and Subjugated Races

You have just got to love those Drow. They are the very model of political correctness and inclusivity, in fact they will make a slave of almost anyone!

Well actually that is not entirely true, they blame surface elves for almost everything (as do I) and the only good elf is a dead elf in their eyes. You see even Drow have standards!

To be more specific you should expect to find Quaggoths (more of them another time), Orcs, Half-orcs, Boogins (half Quaggoth, half Orc), goblins, bugbears, dwarves (one of the Drow Slavers all time favourites), gnomes and just about anything else that can see in the dark.

I was going to give you everything you need to know about Quaggoths and Boogins this time but two things have happened, firstly I have had a really irritating cough and cold this week which has slightly cramped my style and I have decided to throw myself into Rolemaster Unified (RMU). I am only just reading the new Character Law right now and I have just read the bit about creating your own races. Wouldn’t it be really cool to not just tell you about Quaggoths and Boogins but to actually create the race in RMU for you. Well I thought so. So the long and the short of it is that I will just give you a brief pen portrait this time but in a future post I will give all the stats and numbers.

Quaggoths surround a Drow Raiding Party

So down to business. The Quaggoth are a large hairy beasts who prefer great swords or huge clubs in battle and stand about 11′ tall as adults. They are of relatively low intelligence but most importantly they have a natural affinity to spiders of all sizes. Seeing as the Drow worship the spider goddess Lloth you can see the attraction here I hope. The Drow do like to keep Quaggoths around to train giant and huge spiders, a task they can do on long shifts as guard to stop them getting bored. You may as well kill two birds with one stone if you have the opportunity wouldn’t you say? The Quaggoth do make a ver good drow slave!

A boogin is a half Quaggoth, half Orc. One would assume the Father was the orc but I wouldn’t put money on it. Boogin are generally physically smaller but proportionally more intelligent and make better overseers of Quaggoth guards. They also retain the affinity with spiders. which makes them favoured by Drow. To be honest a Drow would never lower themselves to speak directly to a Quaggoth but a low-born Drow may value the spider services enough to speak to a Boogin or at least to an orc that knows a Boogin.

There is one more aspect of these two races that I want to keep back until I can give you the full stats and numbers but in my opinion these guys are the perfect monster to throw at a first level party and next time you will see why!

Rolemaster Unified Character Law

I decided on Friday night that is is kind of senseless to keep on plugging away at RM2 and RMC when although it is probably the second best roleplaying game every written and the best FRGP it is after all a very old system. Rolemaster Unified is the latest incarnation of Rolemaster and seeing as the guys who make Rolemaster make no money any more from RM2 but are working their socks off to make RMU as good as it could possibly be it seems churlish to ignore all their good work and stick to what I know.

Rolemaster Unified Character Law Cover
Rolemaster Unified Character Law Cover

Part of problem with releasing a new version of a popular game will always be inertia:

  • Why should I pay out money to buy a new copy of a rulebook I already own, know and love.
  • Why should I start to learn a whole lot of new rules just to carry on playing a game I already own, know and love.
  • Why bother changing rules when it will not make me a better GM or player but it will throw up a gamut or short comings in the rule books that I have already addressed in the rule system that I own, know and love…

You get the idea.

The answer of course is that there is very little new material for RM2/RMC and there will be even less in the future. House rules that you have put in place to make your game unique just makes it incompatible with other GMs games but a unified solution will solve that. If RMU succeeds then we will get a whole bunch of new players and GMs in the community and that will help us all out with ideas and new materials etc.

I am only just starting to read through Character Law now. What I have decided is that I am going to continue to write for RM2/RMC as that is what I am playing but I will also create everything in RMU as well and share it. This way I get more and more familiar with creating characters and adventures in the new system without having to learn on the job with a bunch of players chomping at the bit trying to run an adventure.

So in the future you will start to see RMU material here as well as the good old trusty RM2.

Drow Weaponry

To illustrate this post I wanted a nice image of a Drow with their stylised hand crossbows which is the absolutely iconic drow weaponry. Every image I could find that was useable seemed to be anatomically challenged.

demon_hunter_diablo_3___talia_by_shikamaru_no_kage-d31op84 photo demon_hunter_diablo_3___talia_by_shikamaru_no_kage-d31op84-2.jpgSo here is our ‘internal organs probably relocated elsewhere’ drow sporting the crossbow of choice.

Before I get into the actual game mechanics of the drow weapons I want to say something about their construction. The material of choice being Adamantine, a jet bacl metal allow of Adamantium and other metals. It reputedly has a green sheen when seen in normal light but a purple/white sheen in magical light. Adamantite is very light and very strong, most of the time.

In play all Adamantite weapons are at least +10 non-magical due to this alloy but when exposed to sunlight they start to decay and corrode losing at least +1 per day of exposure plus and aditional +1 for every combat they are used in. This loss does not stop when the weapon loses its +10 but continues as the weapon degrades until it breaks (normal breakage rules apply).

This, along with the drow’s poor eyesight during the day accounts for why drow surface raids happen mostly at night!

S drow weapons are black alloy and don’t like the sun, lets get to the weapons.

The Hand Crossbow

In play I normally rule this to be a light crossbow but put the maximum damage threshold at 140. To compensate I take 1 round of the reload times.

The point of the drow crossbow is not actually the raw damage inflicted as you will see below more about being a poison delivery system than a killing weapon.

The Longsword

The drow weapon of choice is the longsword and you will often find this used in a two weapon combo with the hand crossbow.

The Spear

Anyone who knows me as a GM will know that I think the spear is the almost perfect weapon (there is probably a good blog post purely on why the spear is so perfect but that is for another day).  The drow use giant gecko-like lizards as mounts. In this situation the spear serves as their lance and this is the only time when using a shield is the norm. Mounted lizard combat should be considered a 3D venture with walls and ceiling being entirelly valid planes of attack.

Poison

The drow love poison. Their preferred poison comes from their beloved spiders. It is a level 2 mild reduction poison. (on a failed resistance roll it takes effect after 10-100 rounds causing great pain and causes 4hits/round until the victim falls unconsious) This is the ideal vehicle for collecting slaves and for a drow patrol to take on forces much greater than themselves. Obviously the Use/Remove Poison is a highly valued skill amongst the drow warrior class.

All drow weapons should be considered envenomed at the start of a combat.

There you have it, the accessories the well dressed drow is sporting this year, longsword on the hip, hand crossbow on the thigh and spear and shield on the gecko parked outside.

How Drow Elves compare to other elven races

In the Forgotten Realms there are five races of elf, High, Grey (or Moon), Green (or Wood), Sea and Drow Elves. For most people I guess the High, Grey and Green equate pretty much with Moldar, Sindar and Silvan. For the purposes of this discussion I am going to ignore the Sea Elves as they are not typically found in most MERP or Rolemaster campaigns.  The others most players or GMs, I would have thought, wil be familiar with.

What I have done is create a basic 1st level warrior/fighter character. I personally prefer characters with a wider range of skills than loads of boxes in just a couple of skills so that is what you will find here.

The guy has learned his weapon left and right handed, has two weapon combo (with long swords), light crossbow (a preferred Drow weapon), blind fighting, disarm foe (armed), iai strike, tumbling attack, tumbling evasion, ambush and general perception.

I have attached all their character sheets below so you can do a direct comparison but you can see there is not much to tell them a part except that even at first level the combat skills of the Drow are typically a point or two better than their brethren.  It is not always on the OB, sometimes it is on the reverse stroke, iai and tumbling skills, sometimes it is mainly on their OB.

The Drow trade off OB for Hits

The trade off is that the drow elf gets the least #Hits. In this example he gets a total of 49 compared to 51-53 for the other elves. It seems they may be a bit more fragile and better able to deal out damage than take it. These totals are based upon exactly the same dice rolls for all four characters.

Our example elf here is trained in Chainmail (AT13) which is not an unreasonable armour type for a first level character. As it happened his stats were not particularly brilliant and he didn’t get that many development points (just 32). If I had had a few extra developent points I would have liked to buy a box in Stalk/Hide and probably at least one box in Use/Remove Poison for the Drow warrior which for the others probably would be better spent on Herb Lore.

The most striking difference between the four elves is the Drows weakness in Intuition. The Drow do not make good thieves or channeling users.

Here are the four character sheets for you to have a look at.

Drow and Drow Culture

In my opinion the Drow are an almost perfect villain. As they are a race you can pitch them at almost any level and you can have as many or as few of them as you like whenever you like. I found their rolemaster stats in Companion I, page 45. The problems is though that the companion does not convey even one percent of the essence of drow that make them this perfect foe.

For starters lets take drow culture.

The best way to describe it would be the decadence of Rome under Caligula crossed with the fascism of the third reich. That is isn’t far from the mark. To start with the Drow worship a spider goddess called Lloth. This puts a female drow at the head of the family, known as the Matron or Matron Mother. Only the Matron Mother is allowed to have children and any others will be sacrificed to Lloth. It is perfectly acceptable and indeed normal for the Matron Mother to sacrifice the father of her own children to Lloth after mating, taking a different partner for each child. Although if she thinks the father is a good specimen or has some other value he may be allowed to live for a while longer.

A drow using one of the hand crossbows for which their race is well-known. (Image taken from the Dungeons & Dragons WikiAll of drow society is ruled by the matron mothers of the eight most powerful houses in council and the way to become one of those is by wiping out one of the houses above you in social ranking. If you try that and fail then it is almost certain death as the ruling eight close ranks. No one in power likes the idea of a powerul usurper trying to upset the status quo after all!

The worship of Lloth is everything to the drow. All drow females are enrolled into the church and the number of priestesses and high priestesses is a matter of pride to a house. The men are allowed to be warriors or magicians but are by far the lower class. Few live long enough to attain great power because should they be seen as a threat then the church will dispose of them. The drow maintain academies for warriors, magicians and the church and upon completion of their studies every drow is tested. Those that fail are sacrificed to Lloth although not killed, Lloth has other plans for them.

Below the matron mother’s children are the other drow not part of any recognised family. These could come from houses not wealthy enough to maintain an entire ‘noble’ household so family members are forced to work for other houses. This could be as housefld soldiers or other more refined rolls.

For drow that cannot be supported by their family or find employment in a more powerful house then to them goes the title of renegade. These are often mercenaries employed by houses as and when needed to bolster a families defences or even for an attack on another house or for  more subtle duties. to most though the very thought of the renegades is distasteful but renegades are not the bottom of society.

The drow economy runs on slaves, slave labour and limited trade with cultures that do not outwardly object to slavery. Slaves farm the mushroom groves, work the mines and build the aquaducts that bring in the water. Slaves carry messages across the city and carry out most of the other fetching and carrying for a household. The drow will happily force any intelligent race into servitude except surface dwelling elves whom they would rather kill on sight especially elvish children.

The drow carry forth an almost innate hatred for the surface dwelling races. This is taught to every drow from birth and reenforced at the academies. It was, to hear the drow telling of it, the surface races that robbed the drow of their right to inherit the surface world and forced them underground. Drow not infrequently mount surface raids by night to capture slaves although they prefer to take races that live below the surface such as orcs, goblins and bugbears. If on a raid they encounter surface elves they will do their upmost to leave no survivers. Anything that can survive living without the sun and can be beaten into submission is prime slave material in the drows’ eyes.

To human eyes what we are most likely to see are the remains of Drow fortresses left over from the last time the drow ruled parts of the surface. These are often magically raised or at least desiged and built with powerful magic in mind. They often include landing platforms for flying troops and whole levels or balconies that can only be reached by air and not from the ground or by non-flying or levitating troops. Each fortress is then connected to the underdark and to each other by passages that run underground, normally miles underground, so that each can be reenforced from other fortresses without the need to move on the surface.

Although most if not all of these fortresses are now abandoned or lost to the drow you can be assured that they are not forgotten and the loss will be avenged.

Next time I will tell you some more about drow weapons and equipment and their love of spider venom.