With the ‘Summer of Drizzt’ looming over us all, WotC has unveiled three new types of drow: Udadrow, Aevendrow, and Lorendrow.
This Summer is all about Drizzt at Dungeons & Dragons, and that means just one thing: it’s an all drow party at the Coast where the Wizards are right now, and in celebration of the Legend of Drizzt, WotC is revamping much of the lore surrounding the “dark elves” with the introduction of three new kinds of Drow.
The reveal appeared on their website under a post entitled The Legend of Drizzt which showcases many of the Drizzt-centric stories going on right now, including the upcoming Dark Alliance game as well as a deep-voiced reimagining of Drizzt’s origin story, voiced by none other than popular Sherlock actor Benedict Cumberbatch.
Cumberbatch, who also voiced the dragon Smaug in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit Trilogy, regales us all with Drizzt Do’Urden’s terrible choice “remain in the underground cult of Lolth in which he was raised–and knows in his heart of evil–or rebel and be hunted by goddess and family alike.” All of which kind of fits with the new lore recently established for drow, but then they go a step further, inviting the reader to learn more about famous locations in the Underdark.
As you do, you’ll learn of three different kinds of Drow, the Udadrow, Aevendrow, and Lorendrow. What are all of these, you might be wondering? Let’s take a look.
First up the Udadrow, whose stronghold is deep within the Underdark in the city of Menzoberranzan. This is now specifically labeled as the stronghold of the “Cult of Lolth” implying that not all drow out there follow the Queen of Spiders. In fact, they are specifically labeled as a society that has become “corrupted” by Lolth’s teachings:
Deep in the Underdark lies the city of Menzoberranzan, stronghold of the cult of Lolth. This Udadrow society has become corrupted by the malicious goddess, who teaches them to despise all outsiders.
The subterranean City of Spiders is the bastion of the Udadrow: drow elves who became tainted by Lolth’s insidious teachings. Udadrow society values ruthlessness, obedience, and a burning hatred of surface dwellers. Menzoberranzan’s young warriors raid surface villages, proving their worth by how many elves they destroy.
It was once widely believed that all drow elves lived belowground and worshipped Lolth. But truths that have long been buried are now beginning to come to light…
And one of the truths that is coming to light are the Aevendrow or Starlight Elves, drow who rejected Lolth (remaining true to their “innate integrity”) and vanished into the north:
Far to the North lies Callidae; an Aevendrow enclave built of glittering ice. Few recall its location and even fewer know the secrets long guarded at its heart.
Even as some of their kin followed Lolth down to the Underdark, many drow elves rejected her, remaining true to their innate integrity. One band ventured north, vanishing from history behind curtains of snow, aurora, and illusion. They became the Aevendrow—or Starlight Elves—a highly secretive clan steeped in powerful magic.
The Aevendrow remain untainted by Lolth’s influence, and life in Callidae is radically different from that of oppressive Menzoberranzan. Yet, though many would rejoice to see it, almost no one—including the longest-lived elves—can quite remember its existence.
But the frigid northlands aren’t the only place you’ll find secretive non-Lolth-worshipping drow. You might also travel far to the south, where the genteel Lorendrow, or “Greenshadow Elves” live a life of the kind of environmental harmony that would give a Republican a coronary.
The teeming southern jungles conceal the drow elf city of Saekolath, populated by the Lorendrow—dwellers in the endless green.
Head far enough south and one enters the territory of the Lorendrow, or “Greenshadow Elves.” Far from the Spider Queen and her terrors, the Lorendrow draw their wisdom from their environment: the generosity of earth; the mystery of sky; and the complex harmony of forest.
Their verdant city is Saekolath—“Place of Shade”—and it wends between towering trees and chattering rivers. Even the most knowledgeable bard would be hard-pressed to sing its histories, and few northern adventurers have ever reached its borders.
Now you might be wondering, why now? Perhaps because Wizards of the Coast is trying to reckon with their forty-odd year history and the implications that all drow are evil just because, or even that all drow follow Lolth and are all on board with being evil, with the “lone exception” of Drizzt, aka the Model Minority. It’s great to see them moving away from the harmful stereotype while at the same time opening new doors to explore what drow are and how they fit into the canon of the Forgotten Realms.
I hope that this is just the first step, and that the days of “all evil” races are gone. Orcs, as written now, are always evil savages, and that’s neither fun nor particularly satisfying writing. But with this move to a more broad, diverse perspective of drow, we’re getting an idea of what a more inclusive future of Dungeons & Dragons could be like, and honestly, it’s about time.