Drow origins on Greyhawk

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Havard
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Drow origins on Greyhawk

Post by Havard » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:09 am

What caused the split between surface elves and the Drow of Greyhawk? Around what time did the Drow become a separate race?

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Re: Drow origins on Greyhawk

Post by Cthulhudrew » Mon Oct 09, 2017 10:41 am

Havard wrote:What caused the split between surface elves and the Drow of Greyhawk? Around what time did the Drow become a separate race?
I'm a bit fuzzy on the specifics and would have to go back and do some rereading, but as I recall, the entire split goes back to a conflict between Corellon Larethian and Lloth way back in the dawn of time that resulted in her being expelled from the ranks of the Seldarine (elven gods) and becoming the demon she is now. It was at that point that she began corrupting elves and the first dark elves resulted. It was a tale not dissimilar to the Biblical Book of Revelation.

I think the best source for this info is probably found in the Giants and Underdark series of modules, where the drow first appeared in AD&D. (G3: Hall of the Fire Giant King and the D-series and module Q1).
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Re: Drow origins on Greyhawk

Post by Cthulhudrew » Mon Oct 09, 2017 3:24 pm

Responding to my own post to add:

I may be incorrect about the Correlon/Lolth connection. I went back to the GDQ modules, and therein Lolth is only a demon; there is no mention of her possible former Seldarine status, and the conflict between the elves/drow was something that was just mundane and amounted to "a long, long time ago, there were elves; some were good, some bad, and they fought. The bad ones hid underground and changed."

I am fairly certain that Lolth was mentioned as a former Seldarine in the 2nd Edition Monster Mythology accessory, which was fairly world-neutral (albeit IIRC, it skewed somewhat to a Greyhawk-centric worldview). The "former elf goddess" history of Lolth may stem more from the Forgotten Realms take on the elves and drow, though. Maybe someone else can better clarify (calling ripvanwormer! :D )
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Re: Drow origins on Greyhawk

Post by ripvanwormer » Mon Oct 09, 2017 6:25 pm

Cthulhudrew wrote:I am fairly certain that Lolth was mentioned as a former Seldarine in the 2nd Edition Monster Mythology accessory
Monster Mythology (1992) never calls her a former Seldarine. Instead, it refers to her as "an elemental force of darkness and evil, a true tanar'ri." [page 62]

Unlike their history in the Forgotten Realms and Eberron, drow history in Greyhawk is very vague and contradictory. Monster Mythology gives multiple stories:

1. The surface elven version, where Lolth corrupted some of the elves, and Corellon Larethian drove them into the Underdark.
2. A drow version, where Lolth attempted to spread wisdom among the surface elves, and Corellon arrogantly and stupidly refused to allow the elves to grow and develop in ways other than those he chose. A mass battle erupted and the drow were banished into the Underdark.
3. An alternate drow version where Lolth realized that only an elite few elves were worthy of her gifts, so she led her chosen into the underworld.
4. A hybrid drow version where Corellon panicked and attempted to prevent Lolth's followers from leaving, but the drow were too clever and sneaky and escaped unharmed.

3rd edition's Drow of the Underdark gave us theories similar to 2-4 in Monster Mythology, but also added a theory that all elves were originally subterranean, but Lolth banished the weakest of their kind to the surface, cursing them with pale skin.

The first source to suggest that Lolth was originally a goddess was Dragon #150 (March 1990), which said that the god of the snow elves, Tarsellis Meunniduin, fell in love with a "beautiful but dark" goddess named Megwandir, "before the elves yet walked the earth," and this shattered his friendship with Solonor Thelandira, the elvish god of the hunt, who didn't trust Megwandir and objected to their dalliance. It said further that Megwandir is now known as Lolth, and no longer dwells among the elven deities. Tarsellis's love for Megwandir has now turned to hatred.

On Hallowed Ground (1996) adopted the myth from Dragon #150, but changed it so that it was Fenmarel Mestarine, the elvish god of outcasts, who fell in love with Lolth (called only that), but turned away from her before being completely seduced by her power and her promises. He's never forgiven her for her breach of faith with the elves, and she's never forgiven him for not following her into the dark, so Fenmarel despises the drow and all they stand for. On Hallowed Ground might be the first source to state explicitly that Lolth and other drow deities were once part of the Seldarine, banished after Corellon caught them teaching heresy to mortals.

The article on snow elves in Dragon #150 is the only source that puts the elf-drow war explicitly in Oerth. The snow elves are native to the Crystalmist Mountains on Oerth, and there's a legend that during the war they "were deceived into allowing passage (for a large profit) of the drow that would aid their survival in the harsh through a mountain pass they controlled, not knowing (so they claimed) that the drow were serving Lolth and had recently declared war on their cousin elves." As a result, the snow elves (like the valley elves) are shunned by other surface elves.

Roger E. Moore suggested, in an article originally posted on AOL, that the valley elves were rejected by other elves (and even the elven gods) for remaining neutral during the war. Carl Sargent also introduced the rockseer elves in his Night Below boxed set, who had fled underground during the final battle between the elves and the drow. "Their own history tells that they were cowards at the great battle of Corellon Larethian and Lolth, fleeing the combat and taking refuge far below ground."

In the (fanon) Oerth Journal #1, the battle that led to the banishment of the drow took place in -4666 CY, when the drow and Suloise teamed up with giants to destroy the last city of the gray elves in the Crystalmists.

2nd edition sources mostly conflate the banishment of the drow with the banishment of Lolth from the Seldarine, assuming they happened simultaneously, but in Forgotten Realms sources there's a 20,000 year gap between Lolth being banished from the Seldarine and transformed into a demon and the Ssri-Tel'Quessir being transformed into the drow and banished to the Underdark. Given that Oerth and Toril are often assumed to share a single multiverse, this could be said to apply in Oerth as well. Of course, Lolth may have invaded Oerth in demon form (as she does in the Queen of the Spiders supermodule that compiled the GDQ series), prompting an intervention by Corellon or his avatar.

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