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[OSSR]Double Bill: Drow of the Underdark
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 5:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think a lot of the Drow's problems can be solved if you just declare that the Driders are actually adult Drow, and what people think of as Drow society is actually Drow elementary school.
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maglag
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

You would still need, you know, a drider society.
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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 1:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Didn't they change the drider thing to make it a blessing, not a curse at some point?

Anyhoo, in addition to the (valid) criticisms of Drow society, I don't like how matriarchies have to be absurdly evil and man-hating. You could have a system where men can't vote or hold office, where there's lots of crimes committed against them and the government doesn't care or something, get all topical...but no, it has to be something that wouldn't look out of place in alt-right propaganda about the feminazis taking over. Except with spiders, I guess they are Australian feminazis.
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maglag
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Thaluikhain wrote:
Didn't they change the drider thing to make it a blessing, not a curse at some point?

That was kinda pathfinder's take on drow I believe.

Thaluikhain wrote:

Anyhoo, in addition to the (valid) criticisms of Drow society, I don't like how matriarchies have to be absurdly evil and man-hating. You could have a system where men can't vote or hold office, where there's lots of crimes committed against them and the government doesn't care or something, get all topical...but no, it has to be something that wouldn't look out of place in alt-right propaganda about the feminazis taking over. Except with spiders, I guess they are Australian feminazis.


It isn't absurdly man-hating, just "males have less rights than females". The drow book actually points out that a) males often get the military positions (since they're considered more expendable) and b) when shit gets real and the drow face a big outside threat, the priestesses actually grant more power to the top male military so that all the drow can work together better to defeat the common exterior enemy before they go back to all the scheming and backstabbing.
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Actually, our blood banking system is set up exactly the way you'd want it to be if you were a secret vampire conspiracy.


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nockermensch
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Thaluikhain wrote:
Didn't they change the drider thing to make it a blessing, not a curse at some point?

WHAT?

Is this another "bald wizards of Thay" situation? Originally, the wizards of Thay would let their hair grow just fine, but then there was a Thayan domain lord in 2nd edition Ravenloft that had his head shaved and tattooed as a brand of shame. Somebody at WotC seemingly liked that visual so much that from 3e onwards, all the Thayans now have that visual.
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angelfromanotherpin
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

According to wikipedia, Driderism is a blessing in D&D 4e, and a curse inflicted through 'fleshcrafting' is Pathfinder.
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maglag
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 4:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ah, my bad then. Thank you for pointing it out!
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Koumei
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yeah, I was confused as all fuck in [nWo] when it described Driders as the blessed elite bosses of Drow (although it made sense mechanically to have a Drider be the boss monster of a drow dungeon). But that was a decision they made - presumably because you want just one of them as a boss monster (possibly with regular drow minions) after you finish killing drow. And the fact that they look like Lolth.

So basically "They should have gone with X at the start, but having gone with Y, they can't just suddenly change it to X at some point without an explanation and pretend it was always that way."

I did not know about the Red Wizards thing. So the only bald ones should be those who lost a Hair vs Hair match against Mulhorandi Orton or the Chultimate Warrior or Rob Van Amn or something. (I know a lot of FR locations and a lot of wrestler names, I could do this all day!)
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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2018 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Props for not taking the easy way out with Fae Mysterio.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OSSR: Drow of the Underdark

Myth, History, and Religion



AncientH

The history of the drow is shrouded in myth, and intimately tied to their religion and identity - and when I say that, I mean that the same basic Mythos applies to drow in Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms. It does not apply to Krynn or Athas (because they don't have drow) or Eberron (whose drow have a scorpion theme) or Mystara (who have Shadow Elves instead, and indeed released their own supplement The Shadow Elves in 1990 by Carl Sargent and Gary Thomas, so you know that has to be quality).

Anyway. The default D&D setting presumed there were drow in it, and that they were opposed to surface elves. That is about as much as you can say of pretty much any race in D&D. It never stopped anyone from saying "Well in my setting..."

Frank

Both books buy heavily into the idea that Drow have a sparse and unreliable history. I believe this is so that the authors can avoid talking about it and go back to discussing the really pressing matters: dominant elvish ladies in skimpy attire. But the explanation for the paucity of reliable Drow historical sources is completely different in the different books. In the 2007 it's that Drow apparently just don't care very much about the past, and in the 1991 version it's that the Drow go the whole Orwell and just memory hole every historical event that they don't like and just fucking accept that they aren't going to fool anyone today, but that in a few generations their lies will become the truth. That part is way more credible in the 1991 version, although “four generations” for people that live to be 800 years old is like over a thousand fucking years. So apparently Drow houses are willing and able to stay on message for like 1200 years at a stretch just to make sure that unpersons stay forgotten.



What historical information does get thrown down is... highly inconsistent. The 1991 version has the Drow coming from a hot jungle with their skin already black, and then they retreated underground because they lost a couple of big wars. And that's probably because Ed Greenwood was kind of annoyed with the old AD&D writeup that claimed they got dark skin because they went to live in caves. I mean, that's certainly one of the things that annoyed 5 year old Frank when he was just learning to read, so I can easily see Ed Greenwood thinking it was something that needed to be retconned in 1991. The 2007 version has a couple of modestly different takes on the Elf War story from the Master Race's Handbook. I assume there are a couple of versions because that takes up more space and the people writing this book are looking for ways to use up wordcount. In any case, the 2007 book goes all in on the “Mark of Cain” type deal where the Drow were turned black when they turned evil. Which is odd, because D&D had figured out that that was offensive – or at least stupid – enough to warrant changing sixteen fucking years earlier.

One thing I think is important to note about the 1991 revisionism is that it doesn't really make things less offensive. I mean yes, it makes things less retarded from a materialistic standpoint for dark skinned peoples to come from a sunny jungle rather than from a place where the sun literally never shines. But from the social-statement standpoint, you're now having your villains be dark skinned people from the fucking jungle – so they are pretty explicitly Africans in that model, right? I don't think Ed Greenwood was going around thinking up ways to make the Drow more racist, but it's pretty clear that this book is just passively insensitive to the social problems of people of color.


Racism is better when it's scientific racism.

One way to use up space is to tell stories. An even better way to use up space is to have extraneous headings. The 2007 version is desperate for ways to use up wordcount, so there's a whole extra heading for “Legends and Tales” that has one story. I'm just really having a problem with that. I have a problem with the fact that I was promised “Legends” which is plural and fucking also Tales, which is again plural. That heading would be a Lolth-damned lie if there was any less than four stories in it. And there's only one. It's laziness to a degree I'm having difficulty processing.



It wouldn't take a lot of depth of storytelling, but it would take a lot of instances of storytelling for people to be able to have a meaningful conversation in-character with Drow mythic references. You'd need a couple dozen reference points, though each one could be just fifty words or so. This is fucking nothing like that. It's garbage. It's a waste of space. It's neither engaging as prose nor anthropologically useful for people who want to roleplay as Drow.

AncientH

Mythic pasts are the kind of thing that are really easy to write in fantasy, because they're based on real-life creation myths. And I'm not talking like "In the legends of our people, we are all descended from the Sky Turtle," I mean if you go back far enough the royal house of the British throne counts fucking Odin among their ancestors, and for a long time people accepted that London was founded by a bunch of lost Trojans - and when your national founding myth involves Aeneid fanfic, you don't have much of a leg to stand on to criticize anyone else.

The problem is...mythic pasts are also lazy, and sort of hamper settings if taken literally, which it is really easy to do when you're mucking about with fantasy. They set up relations between groups of people (and yes, elves are people).



And that runs straight up hard against some of the unpleasant stereotypes Frank and I cringe about a little. Having elves be dark-skinned because they turned against the One True Pointy-Ear'd God is the sort of shit your great-grandpa said about black people back in the 1910s. Mythic pasts are, frankly, really fucking oversimplistic for any people that have any kind of depth to them. And the writers know that because they bend over backwards to talk about all the excepts--all the good drow.

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Drow being exiled into the darkness below the Earth where they can have all the sex and murder they want has really uncomfortable Biblical overtones for all the People of the Book out there, and it pokes a lot of the same buttons as being a vampire in White Wolf games does - people that are genuinely raised believing in damnation, and that fun and damnation are linked, find ways to engage in that behavior vicariously through roleplaying. And because they have fun doing that, they then feel guilty.

Which gives us the redemption stories.



...and, because you're playing a "good" character in an "evil" race, it gives rise to...if not Mary Sue-ism, then Special Snowflake-ism. Which doesn't work the other way. Any elf can be evil, but it takes a special dark elf to transcend their innate evil-ness to be good. Greenwood wasn't immune to this, and eventually wove "Good Drow" as a minority subset into the whole culture, so players could play drow without people pissing about it. There's a whole cult involved...which goes against the whole mythic background of Lolth vs. the One-True-Pointy-Ear'd God. But for that we need to talk about...

Frank

Drow religion doesn't make a lot of sense. I mean, they are the bad guys, right? They have an evil religion. Their clergy do evil things and openly boast about how fucking evil they are. Now D&D has always had a big problem with this sort of thing. The evil religions have never been particularly compelling, and the Drow religion is actually not as bad as most of these fucking things. There's certainly more reason given for worshiping Lolth than there ever was to pray to Jubilex.


Om

Now let's be honest: most of D&D's target audience wasn't particularly sophisticated about comparative religion and most people from a Christian background grow up kinda believing that all non-Christians are some variant or another of Satan worshiping baby eaters. The fact that cults of cruelty aren't particularly realistic or plausible doesn't really bother most of the people who play this game.

Now there are genuinely major religions in the real world that get people to do bad things. The vast majority of people are able to successfully identify ISIS as being evil. Most people can, when they think about it for a few moments, figure out that oppressive Christian organizations that support terrorism like the Family Research Council and the Ku Klux Klan are also evil. But the simple fact that American people have to think about what the FRC actually does to come to the conclusion that they are the villains and that their first and second impulse is to assign them the good-guy label because they are religious Christians shows how complicated peoples' interactions with evil religions actually is.

People who live under the thumb of brutal and villainous theocracies like the Islamic State, the Aztec Empire, or the Spanish Inquisition don't get up in the morning and say “Let's go pray to the gods of evil!” And indeed most people who hate the regime don't go so far as to decide that the dominant local religion is itself a force for evil. People in Iran protest that the supreme leader is misusing Islam. Which is kind of a long walk that establishing the kinds of cultural idioms by which normal people in a society would support a religious institution which normal people outside of that society would have no difficulty identifying as monstrously evil is something that could be done, but hasn't been especially well handled in any edition of Dungeons & Dragons. There are countless examples of real societies that tortured and executed people in the name of various divine beings, and the people in those societies were real people and not cartoon characters. Unfortunately, D&D has mostly gone for cartoons.

That being said, the presentation of Drow being willing followers of Lolth because they are power-mad racist assholes is an explanation that is better than what you get for most of these D&D gods of evil. At least Lolth isn't something really retarded like the Lord of Slaughter or some shit. But it means that there isn't much to hang your hat on from a role playing standpoint. All the player character Drow from the nineties ended up being rebel Drow who just rejected the entire way of life and prayed to a different goddess – because no one ever fleshed this culture or society out enough to be something you could imagine a hero participating in any part of.



And not to put too fine a point on it, but the dismissive attitude towards the Drow religion and social structure is actually exactly the kind of condescending, dehumanizing rhetoric that is used by the religious organizations we regard as villainous today. “They are bad because they trat people the way we want to treat them.” It's the kind of declaration that doesn't actually hold up to scrutiny very well.

AncientH

The two Drow books don't give us a lot to go on. Part of the problem is that religions are, well, complicated. You can't just take the Roman Catholic organizational chart, change a few names and feast days, and call it a day. Well, you can, and Greenwood sort of did that exact thing in FR to a degree, but for the most part, it's tricky to define how religion works into the daily lives of people. It's hard historically, and it's super-hard in a fantasy setting. Tolkien never had temples to the Valar anywhere in Middle Earth. They did not have Bingo Nights to repair the roof, babies didn't get baptized, youths did not mutilate their genitalia during coming-of-age ceremonies, you did not get inducted into the higher mysteries as you progressed in societal rank. But D&D likes to gild the lily on religion, so you get a little bit of all of that in both books. This doesn't work out to much - individual drow might offer small personal sacrifices to Lolth of wine, blood, or booty in thanks for a victory or something in 2007 under the broad category "Minor Rites." There's a kind of initiation in the Tests of Lolth where if you fail you become a Drider. Things like that.

Of course, there are more evil gods than just Lolth, and because the Demon Queen of Spiders is kind of a bitch, some drow worship other gods.

Frank

The Drow Pantheon is different in every book. I think that's literally true. I can't recall a book that lists the same set of gods for the Drow. The 2007 Drow of the Underdark just says “fuck it, these guys are basically monotheistic because we can't remember a single fucking thing about any of the non-Lolth gods and bet you can't either.” But the 1991 book goes on about Eilistraee, Ghaunadaur, and Vhaeraun in addition to Lolth. Ghaunadaur is a big purple tentacle monster that gibbers unspeakably and is completely interchangeable with the demon lord Jubilex and I don't care. Vhaerun is a drow god of thieves and men's suffrage. Other sources talk about Zinzerena as the drow goddess of thieves, but in the 2007 book Zinzerena appears as a legendary hero rather than a god and fuck all this fucking bullshit.

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The 1991 version reminds us that 2nd edition AD&D was terrible by going off on rants about the special game mechanics that were used by priests of various drow gods, including unique spells. So few fucks were given that the Vhaeraun special spell doesn't even have a listed spell level and no one ever noticed or cared. The only god that the 1991 book particularly cares about is Eilistraee, and it goes on and on and on about her clerics. Eilistraee is the drow goddess of sexy naked dancing ladies for good, and it is expected that any and all player characters would be her worshipers. And they were, because 2nd edition AD&D was very proscriptive about what you were allowed to play, and also in that the special spells of Eilistraee's clerics were these spellsongs that let you prepare variables into spell slots and dumpster dive through other books to get weird bullshit priest spells, and your favored weapon was a fucking longsword in an edition where that was super important and also very good.


While the initial appeal of the cult of Eilistraee is obviously a stroke fantasy, it also happens to be pretty much literally the most power-gaming option in most campaigns it was even allowed.

Eilistraee is friends with all the good-guy groups, including the Harpers. Because that way you are maximally allowed to play one of them. Her spells are exactly what you'd want if you wanted to break the game and didn't want the slightest possibility of new content making your character obsolete. Her preferred weapons are just to use the best weapons. It's simply a checklist of all the best things a specialty priest group could possibly have in the 2nd edition AD&D game. Once 3rd edition happened and changed what was good and what was shit, no one gave a single shit about Eilistraee or her sexy dancing sword priestesses. People who started playing the game in 3rd edition might not know who Eilistraee even was, but in the mid-nineties she was inescapable.

AncientH

I could dumpster-dive and tell you the whole "spellsong" thing was part of Ed Greenwood's overarching elf-wankery which also gave us bladesingers and shit like that but...you don't care. Lolth has her place in the racial mythos of Drow and Elf because she has an immediate and iconic focus: spiders.



This is actually more of a schtick than any of the other elf gods get. You probably can't name the main patron deity of goblins or hobgoblins or surface elves, but you know Lolth. The instant and arresting visual is part of what sells it.



Racial mythology itself is...problematic. It sort of hearkens back to the idea of ethnic/national religion...which is weird. Because you can Christian and Japanese or Jewish and Japanese or Buddhist and Japanese. That means that you might have relations with your co-nationalists or co-religionists which are distinct or important from other groups, and that's not really a dynamic which D&D is normally prepared for. The general assumption for a lot of fantasy game settings appears to be that all the various "races" are living in sufficient cultural isolation that you don't have dwarfs and humans praying to Thor together, or some Malenti that worship Lolth as the Demon Sea-Spider or something. And that isn't how people are wired. I guarantee you, there is a non-zero percentage of humanity that would worship any god, good or evil, that presented itself. There would be Lolth-worshipping goth teenagers in Waterdeep who artificially point their ears and get "drow rune" tattoos. This is a cosmopolitan concept which D&D never really embraced. For them, religion was pretty pure, and largely separated along racial lines (except when convenient to the plot).

Frank


But y'all came here for Lolth, right?

There's remarkably little about Lolth. Most of the text in the 1991 book is taken up with combat stats in case you want to go head to head with one of her avatars. Her avatar casts as a 16th level Priest and a 14th level Wizard and has Frost Giant Strength, so it's just strong enough that I've never had an honest character from 1st level get powerful enough in any edition not get curb stomped by Lolth's Avatar, but not so powerful that you couldn't imagine beating her as a final boss.

The 2007 book pretty much only talks about Lolth. But it tuns into the problem that I don't care what it has to say about the issue. The 2007 version is actually really longwinded and boring, and I find myself just not caring when it talks about Lolth religious rituals. There are various tests that Lolth puts her followers through, but these seem like a hokey game show, because they are literally from hokey game shows.


This is an episode of Fear Factor, but it's also literally the “Test of Mettle” that Lolth apparently puts you through. I think the next one is the one where they make you bungee jump.

Both books go on about how Lolth is malicious and jealous and other negative adjectives that are generally used as sexist pejoratives for people who have lady parts. But other than some cutting remarks it doesn't have a lot to say. What goes on the plates during Lolthmas? What's a traditional thing to wear for the Lolth's Day Dance? I dunno. Neither of these books seem to care about things you might actually hang your hat on while role playing these characters.

AncientH



Unless you want to talk about prestige classes, feats, and shit like that. Which we will talk about later!

Frank

Next Up: Racial Traits!
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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
It isn't absurdly man-hating, just "males have less rights than females".


Ah, ok, I've been misinformed

Ancient History wrote:
Now let's be honest: most of D&D's target audience wasn't particularly sophisticated about comparative religion and most people from a Christian background grow up kinda believing that all non-Christians are some variant or another of Satan worshiping baby eaters. The fact that cults of cruelty aren't particularly realistic or plausible doesn't really bother most of the people who play this game.

Now there are genuinely major religions in the real world that get people to do bad things. The vast majority of people are able to successfully identify ISIS as being evil. Most people can, when they think about it for a few moments, figure out that oppressive Christian organizations that support terrorism like the Family Research Council and the Ku Klux Klan are also evil. But the simple fact that American people have to think about what the FRC actually does to come to the conclusion that they are the villains and that their first and second impulse is to assign them the good-guy label because they are religious Christians shows how complicated peoples' interactions with evil religions actually is.


Aren't clerics of Lolth in contact with Lolth in some sense, though, getting spells from her or intermediaries or something, and have a fairly good grasp of what she wants from them (unless she's lying)? Which would seem to imply that there's one way of interpreting Lolth, and that's Lolth's way.
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Koumei
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

In at least one book and version, Lolth doesn't actually like her servants very much, bordering on "not giving a fuck about them". To the point of doing her best to not answer their Contact/Commune spells, sometimes not granting Spells and so on. I think there's one campaign arc that focuses on her just going on holiday* and all of her Clerics just waking up and realising they're fucked.

*or getting killed or something. From the players' side of things, nobody knows and it is presented as "Lolth has chosen to stop interacting with her followers".
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Thaluikhain
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Why then be a cleric of Lolth? Especially if you are members of a race known for being disloyal and out for yourself, shouldn't you pick a god that gives you something back? Even if you have to pretend to worship Lolth in public or something cause everyone else is thick.
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maglag
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Lolth actually loves trolling the drow and manipulates events to make sure they mostly worship her. She actually loves to see them backstab each other all the time but takes care to keep it whitin sustainable levels to make sure she always has enough toys.

The silence of Lolth during the City of the Spider Queen campaign was because she was busy relocating her divine realm and ended when she had her three top priestesses fight to prove which one was bestest and turning her into a new divine avatar.
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Actually, our blood banking system is set up exactly the way you'd want it to be if you were a secret vampire conspiracy.
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Prak
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

shinimasu wrote:
But I think the worst part to me is they never actually Fixed this. It would be so easy to just rewrite the lore between editions. There are so many good fan reworks to make the Drow not stupid. Hell you could rework the society to be more like the trolls from fucking homestuck and it would still be less stupid. The drow are an entire race of wasted narrative potential because D&D decided they were married to the concept of evil spider matriarchy.


When I first started working on my horror-inspired setting, I decided drow were a cult in Elven society, that said society was totally cool with homosexuality, and casual bisexuality, but upheld the idea of there being set genders and that while you could fuck elf-dudes and elf-ladies at the regular orgies, you better have one specific gender you get with outside of bacchanals, and Lolth was a goddess who represented rebellion against, well, a vague pastiche of exclusionary Gay/Lesbian culture. So most drow were trans or nonbinary, and they just looked like every other elf most of the time, but when they went out to do their Lolth worship, they magically darkened their skin and whitened their hair, and ...it occurs to me basically dressed like the psuedo-medieval equivalent of young adults going to Goth Night.

Author Appeal, you know?

Of course, as I've developed the setting more, this has sort of become a weird artifact and I'm not sure drow will even be a part of the setting at all anymore.
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You should gain sanity for finding out that the problems of a region are because there are fucking monsters there.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

In a fantasy setting, having an actual deity to interact with is completely at odds with the normal human experience. Normally people don't talk to god and expect god to answer back in any kind of coherent fashion. God doesn't need to write a book to speak with people when they can just beam instructions into their heads. Hell, god doesn't need clergy unless they can't interact directly with their worshipers. And most fantasy fiction takes it as given that "gods" actually aren't that deific, if they have any supernatural powers at all and aren't giant spiders/octopuses/whatever that the local priest is keeping sated by a steady supply of sacrifices.

So D&D gods are...problematic. They actually exist (hell, you can fight them), but they exist at a remove from the setting proper, which thus requires them to work through their servants. This is cool in the "Sif won't come down to castrate me herself if I take her name in vain" way, but it also allows "Sif might come down and castrate me herself if I defile her altar" if Mister Cavern wants that to happen. Most of the time, though, it argues for some sort of priesthood and a bunch of lay followers, and the god communicates instructions through the clergy/shaman/etc.

...which still leaves the overall problem of "Okay, if the cleric can talk to god, why the fuck is X happening?" Even with the base assumption that D&D gods aren't omnipotent, omniscient, or omnipresent, you generally would hope they'd keep enough tabs on shit to deal with infighting among the clerics or other situations that are non-optimal to the spread and continuation of their worship. After all, D&D gods need prayers badly, and the ones old enough to drink have to know that the ones who didn't take care of their worshipers ended up not having any - cf. Terry Pratchett and Small Gods.

But D&D is older than Small Gods and the Discworld, so they never quite got the memo, and the divine/cleric interface is very much a grey area in 95% of D&D settings. The exceptions being Dark Sun (where you either worship an element or a dragon - one of which won't talk to you and the other of which wants you to turn in your expense report for ousting the heretics by Friday) and Call of Cthulhu d20, where you can just explicitly ring up Cthulhu/Azathoth/etc. if you have the right spell, but doing that is not beneficial to your long-term viability as a player character.

So in any given adventure scenario, it's a crapshoot. If Mister Cavern wants the high priestess to have a hotline to the Demon Web Pits, they do. If they want them to interpret the will of Lolth by staging gladiatorial combat with slaves vs. giant spiders, they do. It's Calvinball, all the way down.
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maglag
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Humie rulers also need humans, but that does not stop humie rulers from making bad and stupid decisions leading to revolutions and civil wars and chopped royal jeads and whatnot.

Remember the Astral sea is littered with dead god corpses that precisely failed to maintain a stable supply of worshipers so indeed several do screw up.
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Omegonthesane
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
Humie rulers also need humans, but that does not stop humie rulers from making bad and stupid decisions leading to revolutions and civil wars and chopped royal jeads and whatnot.

Remember the Astral sea is littered with dead god corpses that precisely failed to maintain a stable supply of worshipers so indeed several do screw up.

Hence "the ones old enough to drink".
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shinimasu
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think one of the more interesting bits of Lolth fiction probably came out of 4E. I can't remember if this was official though of a bit of fan canon that I read somewhere.

Basically Drow schismed from the elves and went underground with their spider goddess, but the two factions have very different versions of why this happened.

- Surface elves maintained that Lolth betrayed their head god and tried to seduce him away from his lover and steal his position. But he rightfully cursed her down into the shadows and now things are peachy again.

- Drow maintain that Lolth was the head god's lover who got rightfully pissed when she found him cheating on her with another goddess, and the takeover wasn't a takeover at all but her lashing out over the betrayal and being cursed as a result. And the 'hostile takeover bit' was a smear campaign to make sure potentially sympathetic elves wouldn't stop worshiping the head god in favor of the newly exiled one.

So then depending on who you believe Drow are either being mislead by their goddess and manipulated into hating the surface elves through lies, or they're rightfully angry about the treatment Lolth got over a very real slight.

I think 4e Drow were just as nucking futs as the early editions though so this was probably just fanon.
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Prak
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Thaluikhain wrote:
Didn't they change the drider thing to make it a blessing, not a curse at some point?

Anyhoo, in addition to the (valid) criticisms of Drow society, I don't like how matriarchies have to be absurdly evil and man-hating. You could have a system where men can't vote or hold office, where there's lots of crimes committed against them and the government doesn't care or something, get all topical...but no, it has to be something that wouldn't look out of place in alt-right propaganda about the feminazis taking over. Except with spiders, I guess they are Australian feminazis.

Someone once said drow society was run by Terfs, and I responded that, no, it's run by what Republicans think feminists are. It really does map that directly
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

maglag wrote:
You would still need, you know, a drider society.


In this setup, driders would be like Dragons, solitary apex predators with large territories, who only really get together for mating and other important stuff. The female drider would lay tens of thousands of eggs at a time and then fuck off, and the larval drow would hatch with the bodies and moodiness of young teenagers, and immediately break into factions and start killing each other over the limited food supply. The survivors of this bloodbath then raid nearby settlements for enough slaves to form what could generously be called a functional society, that's essentially children pretending to be stereotypical teenagers pretending to be adults, with all the nonsensical cliques and rules that can be expected of such a setup, with the slaves doing pretty much all the actual work. Most of these societies collapse completely, with all of their members being killed off, either by invaders, slave revolts, or other drow. Very few live to adult hood. Which is a good thing, since Drow are extreme R strategists and if the juveniles were more competent the world would have been completely overrun by now.



Anyway, D&D religion in general suffers from the fact that the gods are explicitly real people who you can talk to, and stab in the face

In real life, gods don't talk to people. Sure, people can claim that god or gods talked to them, and many people do, but we can be pretty sure that they're lying or delusional, and the paucity of evidence is enough to produce doubt.


It doesn't work that way in D&D. In D&D, Gods are basically not unlike world leaders. I do not have Donald Trump's phone number, so I cannot call him and personally ask him what he wants me to do. But I can read his twitter feed and get a pretty good gist. And there are people who do have his phone number. Religion, then, in the modern sense, doesn't make any sense in D&D.

Religion in D&D should be somewhere between Roman civic religion, and the modern cult of celebrity.

When worshiping the right god provides real material benefits to your community, religion no longer a matter of personal conscience, it is a civic duty just like taxes.
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nockermensch
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

hyzmarca wrote:
Religion in D&D should be somewhere between Roman civic religion, and the modern cult of celebrity.

When worshiping the right god provides real material benefits to your community, religion no longer a matter of personal conscience, it is a civic duty just like taxes.

Yes, in D&D land you're expected to belong to the fanclub of a superhero that also doubles as a psychopomp. People literally build shrines for The Hulk Kord, Dr. Doom Hextor or Thor Thor and then expect to go live with them in the afterlife.

To make things weirder, some people are spiritually touched by Spider-Man or the Scarlet Witch and then become... beefy vancian spellcasters casting from a common list of buffing, debuffing or positive/negative energy spells, plus a small alotment of spells having to do with what their favoritest super-heroes are actually about, but still in a very generic way.

Generic in the sense that a cleric of The Hulk gains the same Strength Domain powers than a cleric of The Thing does, and that both of them can turn undead by the power of <super-hero>, even when <super-hero> has nothing to do wrt the walking dead.

TL;DR: Religion in D&D is a mess. But you knew that already.
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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Thaluikhain wrote:

Ah, ok, I've been misinformed


I wouldn't go that far, since drow really are super sexist. It's just hard to decide if they're absurdly sexist given that real life has set the bar very high in that regard. One has to really over achieve in being a complete asshat before it becomes utterly unbelievable.

Anyway, drow women don't routinely write weird tumblr rants about why men are unfit for leadership but one gets the impression that it's only because that point of contention has already been settled rather decisively in favor of women. Plus, men may make up the bulk of "the military" but drow society is essentially clannish and has no single dominant ruler so that mostly just means that the matron mother will send her heir most promising sons off to fighter college so that they can whip the rest of the cannon fodder into a half decent personal guard. The only males with real power in drow society are the handful of high level wizards running around. As always, life is just easier when you're powerful enough to fuck off to your own pocket dimension.
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DSMatticus
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I've always handled D&D religion with the Godly Pact of Doing Fuck All. If you have the class feature "call up a god and ask for some of that sweet, sweet divine magic" because you're a cleric or whatever, the god you're calling on can give you some of that sweet, sweet divine magic you asked for. If you can cast the commune spell, the god you're hitting up for answers can play the game of twenty questions you've asked it to play. If you gather up a bunch of devouts and complete an elaborate ritual intended to invoke some god's presence, that god can send an avatar over to say 'sup - but avatars aren't remote-controlled dolls, they're just deific simulacrum. It's got the abilities on its character sheet, its creators' personality, and some pre-programmed directive its creator would like it to achieve before it inevitably gets stabbed in the face by team "fuck Lolth made another avatar, everybody drop what you're doing we've got shit to take care of." If you show up at the door to your deity's personal demiplane, they're supposed to turn off all the lights and pretend as hard as they can that they're not home and wait for you to go away. Your deity absolutely will not show up in your dreams to tell you you're the chosen one and that you need to get a move on because the world isn't going to save itself. Because that would be breaking the rules.

This is, in practice, wildly abusable - for both deities and mortals. It's not like powerful casters can't get a sense of what their god would like them to do through divinations, but it's also not like anyone who can't cast those divinations themselves can confirm that's what happened, and that their entire church isn't secretly a cult of Asmodeous or whatever. And even avatars, once manifest, have no more contact with their portfolio-omniscient creator than any other high level character would. The end result is that gods are probably real and not just the shared delusion of the world's divine casters, powerful badasses may or may not be able to speak for them with some unknown degree of accuracy, and deities are largely impotent to punish you for any transgression ranging from calling them a poopyhead to impersonating their pope and convincing a bunch of their followers to drink the special cyanide koolaid. Their involvement in worldy affairs is limited by the initiative of their mortal followers.


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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 3:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
Ghaunadaur is a big purple tentacle monster that gibbers unspeakably and is completely interchangeable with the demon lord Jubilex and I don't care.


Hey, Ghaunadaur is the gibbering god of Rebel Slimes.

That's awesome.

Like, every Gelatinous Cube who left their dungeon to try to make it in Hollywood? That's Ghaunadaur 's thing.


And the Ochre Jelly Che Gruverras with their AK-47s fighting to overthrow the man. Ghaunadaur has their back.

I don't think most people really understand the awesomeness that can come from the intersection of slimes and rebels.

Just look at this dogma

Ghaunadaur wrote:
All creatures have their place, and all are fit to wield power.


That's about as close as you can get to egalitarianism in an evil slime god.

There are just so many ways you can go with this.

Roper Pirates of the Caribbean.
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DSMatticus wrote:
I've always handled D&D religion with the Godly Pact of Doing Fuck All.


I prefer the opposite. Gods interact with their followers a lot, but they're very mortal. Sending visions and stuff is just a matter of safety, because if they went down personally anyone could stab them in the face. They're also fairly busy and don't have the attention to keep track of all their clerics, much less all the lay people, so giant organizations are helpful at that.
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