I remember when I first read about the Drow in Dungeons and Dragons. Not only did they have an amazing backstory, but the picture looked so cool. Their skin was blackish blue, their eyes glowed red, and their hair was as white as the bones of their fallen enemies! I immediately did my research into these elven kin, absorbing anything I could about their society and culture. They were evil and logical and they worshiped some Spider Queen? So neat!
And then I had an even neater idea: what if I made a drow but instead of make him evil… what if he was raised to be a good guy? Mind. Blown.
Naturally, somebody beat me too it. And by somebody, I mean everybody. Everybody had come up with the idea about the Drow Gone Good! DGG was a serious problem! And thatâ€™s not saying that there werenâ€™t some seriously great stories! However, I bet weâ€™ve all experienced that moment when someone at a table has looked up from a book and asked the GM â€œCan I play a good guy [INSERT EVIL SPECIES HERE].â€ Â Maybe they wanted to play a Drow Bard or perhaps they wished to create an Ogre who had a fondness for ladybugs. Maybe they wanted to make a kobold that wasnâ€™t pervy (which is a lie. They are all perverts. All of you). Regardless of why they wanted to play it, Iâ€™m sure there was a person who was at the same table who immediately called their idea ridiculous and then grabbed for the sharpest knife on the table. Thanksgiving family dinner be cray, am I right people?
Itâ€™s definitely an interesting concept, and one that weâ€™ve played with here on Fandible! We all remember the minor character Barsher da Barsher. He was a Warhammer 40k (Link to Rogue Trader page) Orc who was a Freebooter for Captain Awesome Pants on the Shadow Labyrinth. Sure he was violent, ill-tempered, and prone to reactionary mutiny, but the Orc, I believe, was somewhat good. So, I suppose I got my â€˜DGGâ€™ eventually?
Why this is a common character concept and why do some either fully support it or hate it with a fire of a thousand suns? Maybe the people who want to play this character are doing so for some deep seated need to prove that evilness isnâ€™t born. With the majority of us around the table being, well, human, itâ€™s a hard concept for us to get that people are able to be born evil. Iâ€™m not talking about people who only think of themselves – we have plenty of those. Iâ€™m talking being born wanting to do evil things. The Orcs of Warhammer 40k are born incredibly violent. They are literally bred to be fighters, from spore to hulk. So maybe some people require the ability to put a recognizable spark of humanity within these monsters in order to show that nurture should play a role in alignment?
And of course I get why the people on the opposite side the camp do not want this concept in their game. Being the lone good Drow or Orge with the heart of gold is a story enough. It automatically makes you the special snowflake of the group. Everywhere you go, people are going to first react to the snowflake before reacting to you. Itâ€™s sort of like having a friend who is on fire. Yes, Steve might be cool and all, but whenever you bring him to the bar as a wingman, everyone is first always â€œHoly shit, that guyâ€™s on fire! Get some water!â€ And then they are like â€œWhoa, nice shirt, Billy.â€ Regardless how well Iâ€™m rocking my skin tight Brony 2016 shirt, Steve is going to always be the main focus of the scene until people get used to his horrendous screams and the smell of barbecue.
So, I suppose both have a point to why they feel the way they do to a DGG. And I suppose the compromise that can be had is doing it in moderation. If someone wants to be that drow who was raised by druidic dwarves and knows only the love of forging and foraging, maybe you can come up with a way to keep his race hidden for some of the encounters so he doesnâ€™t take the spotlight. Oliver Queen in the Arrow series seems to be able to keep his identity secret by rocking a hood. Or maybe you can go DiCaprio and be forced to wear an iron mask?
At the end of the day, I think a person should have a right to roleplay what they want. I also think a group has the right to say â€˜Noâ€™ to a concept if it is going to ruin the narrative of the story. So if you are aching to play a drow or an ogre or a carnivorous turned vegetarian centipede, just sit on that until your GM gives you the thumbs up.
That or you can burn their house down. Burn them all!
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4 comments on “My Inner Drow”
The problem with drow, specifically, is that most people from a particular era have sat down with some person who has done some version of:
Yeah, he fights with two kinda curvy swords (I suppose some might call them scimitars). They’re called Frostkill and Sparkle. (No guys! He’s totally not like that other drow!) And he has this animal companion that’s a puma called Lancelot. (Shut up guys! Stop laughing!)
With DGGs in general, I think you nailed the big pushback for it – if Jane’s character has ‘My people are all (capital E) Evil’ in neon letters above her head, every interaction with strangers involves, at least, having to explain that she’s the exception. It’s not only spotlight hogging, it becomes boring for the group.
Billy have you been getting into Angela’s gifs? This is a hard habit to stop once you start, soon everything you say will be punctuated by a moving image. You may even find yourself gateway’d into webm’s.
Meanwizzle, that is why I play good races as evil. No one ever expects the secret evil.
“He’s a platinum dragon – there’s no way he could betray us”
I know I’m 5 years late but . . . Eilistraee. No one mentioned Eilistraee?