Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Top Ten Reasons Why I Hate Drow


One of my current projects is rewriting or reimagining most of the monsters in the Fiend Folio, in among other things a more minimalist OD&D or Seven Voyages of Zylarthen style. As I implied in a previous post, it was my four-year-old son who inspired me to give the Fiend Folio another look.. And if I ever publish the damn thing, it will be dedicated to him.

Zak S made a fine start on it here, which I intentionally stopped reading so as not to bias myself and unintentionally steal stuff. Also, of course, some of Zak's ideas aren't exactly kid friendly.

The project is fun but it's also annoying. There are a number of monsters I don't want to rewrite or reimagine--either because I think they are silly or pointless and I can't quickly think of an alternative, or because their descriptions are lengthy and complicated and I'm too lazy to adequately understand or parse them.

So I follow the same strategy I followed when I took the SATs. When I come to a monster that I don't want or know how to deal with, I skip over it, intending to come back later.

I've skipped over Drow three times.

On Saturday, I drew the line. I would deal with Drow once and for all. And so I spent most of the day thinking about what to do with them.

And in the process I realized I hated their guts.


Here are ten reasons.

I did eventually reimagine the Drow in a way that I found satisfactory, but this post will take me a much shorter time to write. I will never get back those three hours.

Ten Reasons Why I Hate Drow:
  1. Ideally, all elves should be dangerous, mysterious and somewhat creepy. Creating a new category of elves that are almost defined as such, effectively means that elves in general (all the other elves) will not be dangerous, mysterious and somewhat creepy.
  2. Drow did not appear in the three little brown books or the supplements. They were introduced in AD&D. For this OD&D curmudgeon, that makes then prima facie suspect.
  3. Teenage girls like them. Or at least they're the sort of thing that I imagine teenage girls liking.
  4. Some of the very worst "new school" art depicts Drow. Indeed, the "Drow vibe" almost defines new school art.
  5. In 4e, everyone looked like Drow.
  6. They're too complicated in terms of text length. No monster should have multi-page descriptions. If you cannot grasp a monster in a few minutes or a paragraph, it's too complicated.
  7. They're too complicated in terms of...complexity. Drow are Fighter/Magic-Users and Fighter/Clerics. The males may progress to X level as a Fighter and possibly Z level as a Magic-User. The females may progress to Y level as a fighter and Z level as a Magic-User. Only females may be Clerics and they may only progress to X level, while still being Fighters who progress to Y level. But only on Wednesday. And only if you have a double Fizbin.
  8. Drow encourage an annoying faux engagement with the occult.
  9. Drow exemplify social ecology bloat par excellence. I don't know and I don't care about the rivalries and intrigue  between "House Focker" and "House Flying Focker."
  10. Ed Greenwood called Drow "Gary Gygax's greatest, most influential fantasy creation."
I rest my case with 10.

Drow should all be enveloped, flumphed or tirapheged to death.

Or overwhelmed by hordes of Men & Magic Goblins, Kobolds or anyone else with two sentence descriptors.

Ooh, they're so dark!

No, actually. Just boring.

Blog post picture is by Helmuttt.      


  1. I agree with you on hating drow... but #2 is incorrect. G1-3 was originally run at GenCon as a tournament for OD&D, before AD&D even existed, and has a drow in it.

    My own hatred for drow stems from too many experiences with players in AD&D who wanted to play a drow for the 'kewl powerz', and would then come up with all sorts of excuses why their character shouldn't suffer any of the disadvantages of being a drow....

    1. I know. I think I read somewhere that Drow were part of the original private Greyhawk setting. But I'm going to be picky and stand by the claim, with its careful use of "appear." As you know, there was a short paragraph about Drow in the 1977 Monster Manual. I suspect some of the other "new" AD&D Monster Manual monsters also had a previous existence but didn't make it into OD&D for space reasons or whatever.

      I assume the later editions that had a player-character Drow option (there is that option in them, isn't there?) specified disadvantages, but my limited exposure to late-edition character building gives me the impression that everyone was a bit Drowish, with a lengthy and (to me) confusing mash of abilities and feats.

    2. Yeah. Unearthed Arcana for 1st edition AD&D introduced Drow as PCs... and, like much of what was in UA, they were very poorly balanced. 2e put them in the "Complete Book of Elves", about which the less said, the better.

  2. I hate Drow for one reason... the players that like to play Drow. Back in the day, if you told me your character was a Drow anything you weren't welcome at my table. Oh how I hate the Drow!

  3. I've never played or DMed in a game with drow, nor read any of the novels about them, but I have a strong reflexive dislike of them. They always struck me as something of a "Mary Sue" or "creator's pet" race.

  4. I agree, but mostly because I hate the people who want to play Drow.

    I actually *really* like the different sexes being F/MU and F/C. That's flavorful as hell if you ask me.

    1. I think you're right. It's not that I object to the sexes being different. It's just that the actual scheme seems so needlessly complicated. It's probably just a pet peeve due to my innate laziness. When it comes to "flavor" there's always a question of who it's for--the reader of the rules or the players (or both)? Will the players really notice that one sex of Drow can go two levels higher than the other? There was some of this stuff in OD&D with the "leader types" of many men and humanoids having more hit dice and so on. But to me it seemed more clean and intuitive.

  5. It's just because they're black, isn't it? Racist :p

    I like the occasional multi-page monster entry. Dragons usually take up a few pages, even in Monsters & Treasure, but it's all great material. Most entries should be shorter, though

  6. Hell, even as a dyed-in-the-wool 1e AD&D guy, I hate drow, for many of the reasons you list here.

  7. I like the Drow -- as NPCs. Chronologically, they were made to anger PCs as they encountered them, starting with G3. After The Crystal Shard, Drowning with two scimitars sprouted up everywhere & DMs without backbones let the whining power gamers in. I was on a gaming hiatus at the time (1990-2000), so I only got to deal with the aftermath of Lolth's schemes.

  8. I'm late to the party, but I agree with everyone. Drow should be banished from all D&D books, nay, all books period.
    Magic items that disappear in sunlight? *Screams!*