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 Character Study: Ryld Argith & Pharaun Mizrym

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
KnightErrantJR Posted - 21 Jul 2005 : 06:46:03
This one is going to be difficult without getting too much into a discussion on Pharaun. But from the first Richard Lee Byers novel, I loved Ryld. In the first book he was a simple (but not stupid) straight forward warrior, and showed that perhaps even rarer than a good drow was a simple one, and by that I mean one that isn't angst ridden or constantly plotting within other plots and politically manuvering.

Ryld came across as sharp, but not a genius, and Byers did a great job of pointing out that warriors pick up new skills, techniques, and abilities over the years as well. Even something as simple as carrying a back up to Splitter that was better to use in close quarters went a long way to explaining Ryld's character.

Ryld didn't particularly enjoy killing or dominating others, but he wasn't appalled by it other than as a waste of energy. He didn't like the priestesses cruelty and absolute rule, but yet he valued dark elven society enough to not want to see it jepordized by major upheavals and changes in the status quo. And I loved that he played Sava, and that the only thing he didn't like in the game were the random elements.

Ryld started going downhill quickly, though he was still enjoyable. I think he gravitated to Hallistra because she was vulnerable, something uncommon in a dark elven female, and something that allowed him to assert at least a small amount of control into the situation when dealing with her.

What do I regret about Ryld? I think that his relationship to Pharaun was oversimplified in the later books, and he became more of a bodyguard than a friend to the wizard. And speaking of Pharaun, I would have liked just a bit of dark elven deviousness to creep into Ryld after his abandonment. Perhaps allowing a big ugly monster to scar Pharaun's handsome face before he saved him? Instead it seemed that he only occaisionally remembered the slight.

Ryld was just put in a very bad position by the end of the series, and his death was not quite the epic ending a Master of Melee Magthere deserved.

What would I like to see? I'll save some of my more radical ideas for Pharaun's post, but I would love to see some partner/budy short stories about the trouble the two Masters of Academy got into before the WOTSQ. I have remarked often that these two reminded me of a dark elven version of Fafhrd and Mouser, and I would love to see some misadventures to show just how and why these two knew each other so well.
25   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
Irennan Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 21:33:02
quote:
Originally posted by Kentinal

Karsel'lyn Lylyl-Lytherraias Drow (C12)

She worked as an agent of Queen Amlaruil. Her visit to Evermeet was to request that the Retreat be open to some Drow, those followers of Eilistraee. She failed in that request.





Thanks, Kentinal. I didn't know that she had failed. I thought that, with Amlaruil/Evermeet disappearing with the Spellplague and everything, WotC had just dropped the whole thing without giving it any closure. That was disappointing to read.
Irennan Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 21:22:34
quote:
Originally posted by TKU
Menzo being the 'base model' as you say is an issue, particularly in more recent editions where everything starts to look more and more homogenous either from various cities and deities getting destroyed/killed off, or from just being de-emphasized/sidelined to the point of obscurity. (Ched Nassad going from Menzo's bigger, richer and more prestigious sister city, to getting demoted to vassal, to getting completely destroyed is a good example of this in action).

But the divergent cities were still written in, and show that the Menzo model and variations of it are vulnerable and fall or change all the time. Whether the timeline of things is realistic is another thing altogether -I don't think there are actually many examples of 10+ year cities out there outside of a few outliers like T'lindhet, Guallidurth...maybe Ust Natha. Menzo itself (and Ust Natha, by extension) were something like 5k, and Sshamath 6k, Undrek'Thoz being 'only' about 1k. and if everything was constantly like what we have seen during the silence of Lolth or in Menzo with constant revolutions and upheavals there likely shouldn't be many Drow cities left at all (Lolth or otherwise), but I think there are enough blank spaces in the histories of these cities (and of the Drow in the underdark in general) that it's quite possible that a lot of these cities weren't always Lolthite...heck maybe some of them have flipped from one deity to another multiple times in their history, been abandoned and reclaimed, etc.


Yeah, they were written in, but they were very few, and the changes were never motivated by the kind of movement that should have led to a change, or by the dissatisfaction of the drow people. The most meaningful change (Sshamath) happened for some weird (and honestly bad) deus ex machina. It's way too little to give back some quality to this worldbudiling.

And for the other cities (most of them), the issue is that most published sources do indeed assume that, for millennia, things have always been like RAS and others depict. Despite the fact that, as you say, under those laughable conditions those cities should have fallen a long time ago--either due to schisms and revolutions, or to enemy attacks. But what do we read in the sources? Right, mot only they didn't, they're always super strong, super advanced, super everything. That's another examplee of bad worldbuilding, and things happening just because of author bias.

This is the gist of the problem with the drow: consequences and repercussions not happening when they totally should, people being a-ok with misery for millennia, and an unsustainable system that has been going on for millennia, in way too many cities, with 0 changes. Or heck, without even a remotely significant number of attempts to--or simple, widespread *desire* for--change. It's something that should so obviously happen, that you automatically justified it by saying that the conditions in those cities must have not been what we're shown in WotSQ at all times, and that there were times when things weren't that bad. However, sadly, that's not what we're shown.

You also suggested that those cities might have indeed changed faction/government or flipped deity at some point, and while that would totally
be a 100% appropriate thing to include in the canonical version, it isn't relevant to the point I was making, because it's not part of the worldbuilding that we're shown. In fact, my point precisely is that those flips, movements, revolts, etc... should be added to the history of the Lolthite drow (alongside current movements as well). It's a very important piece of history to add, that gets entirely neglected instead. We shouldn't be left to assume all that.

If I had to go by assumptions to justify the status quo, I'd say that the Underdark is full of fallen drow cities, that there are many unmapped non-Lolthite cities, and that cities like Menzo are full of underground movements and infiltrators working to make its people explode at long last. That's a very different situation from what gets constanbtly rubbed in our faces. If we aren't shown something, it isn't part of the content, and it isn't something that we can examine.

Re: time, 12k years or 6k years is still an incredbily long time to go without any change or repercussion, if the conditions are as stupid as the material suggests. Especially since drow don't perceive time like other elves do--they're much more "rush our goals", closer to humans than elves.

quote:
This talk of Sshamath is interesting, since as a rare religiously neutral Drow city Eilistraeens probably wouldn't have too much difficulty 'setting up shop' there openly as long as they don't disrupt business or challenge the Wizards. Even the church of Lolth was still tolerated there under the new Hierarchy, though they had to refocus their clergy towards goods and services the temple could provide to 'keep the lights on'. It could be a good place for an Eilistraeen base that could operate openly.



Yeah, Sshamath is a nicely designed city, I can totally see the Eilistraeans being able to operate there.

It would have been the perfect outlier drow city IMO, if the change in hierarchy had heppened through a powerful organization (like the wizards, or the merchants,, or the Vhaeraunites, or all 3) had channeled the dissatisfaction of the people into a successful revolt. But they had to chalk it up to some weird randomness.
deserk Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 21:16:53
quote:
Originally posted by TKU

Guallidurth is the one Drow city I have really wanted to see get something like the boxed set treatment for ages. Oldest and Biggest Drow city? How is it not Lolth's favorite? The hundred's of different sects and temples with different beliefs sounds truly fascinating. I want to see the weird sects and heresies, unusual social hierarchies turned sideways and on their heads from what we 'know' about drow society. Sects that conflate other deities as aspects of Lolth, that sort of thing.

Nomadic Drow is almost required to be a thing in the Realms considering the timeline. IIRC there's a huge gap between the formation of the Great Rift and the foundation of Menzo, and those Drow were supposedly wandering that whole time, so there *should* be a tradition of nomadic Drow thousands of years old...that we just never got to see.


Exactly. Guallidurth has the potential to be a very interesting place. With all it's many different sects, there has to be a fair degree of tolerance for religious differences that is rarely seen elsewhere (except for Vhaeraunites, given the forces of Guallidurth are mentioned to be at war with nearby drow heretic communities). Could also be interesting if this Underdark metropolis carries a hint of "Near Eastern" influence given it's proximity and links to Calimshan, which might give it a very unique look in terms of it's architecture, clothing, preferences of magic, etc. Another facet that could make this city more unique is if, unlike Menzoberranzan, they regarded transforming drow into driders as a minor blessing instead of a shameful curse. Perhaps a way to elevate certain houseless drow. Driders are after all fairly powerful, stealthy and agile (and why would being turned into a more arachnid form be viewed negatively by Lolthites?), and would be immensely useful as the cities' scouts and eyes in the streets and alleys of the city (keeping an eye out for seditious activity), the wilds of Old Shanatar (particularly on spying on the dwarf city of Iltkazar), or the surface lands of Calimshan and Tethyr. Given their houseless origins they would have plenty more reason to be loyal to the city's rulership and thus could be an effective part in aiding in enforcing city's authority, as opposed to the subjugated monstrous slave fodder that drow cities typically utilize, or drow soldiers who have loyalties only to their particular house. So their loyalties would be generally towards the city, or rather the ruler of the city rather than any particular house. Just an idea, that could help explain the relatively stable nature of the city, and why the city has survived so long and grown to support such a large population.

It would also be really interesting to know more about Golothaer and Telantiwar (which also carries significance for the dwarves, as the dwarf city Bhaerynden, the seat of the first great dwarf kingdom, before it was conquered by the drow) which are likely one of the first drow settlements after the Descent. Both are long destroyed ruins now, but we have no idea where they are situated (most likely Southern Faerun, where Ilythiir was). They could potentially be utilized as very interesting adventure sites for Underdark campaigns. Scholars and explorers of Faerun could be eager to journey there and gain knowledge on the nature and history of the earliest drow, and possibly discover more details on the story of how the faith of Lolth was able to overwhelm the others. But most assuredly there would be dangerous entities or obstacles there, to explain why the drow haven't attempted to rebuild or recapture these sites.
TKU Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 20:33:47
quote:
Originally posted by deserk

Definitely agree with a lot of the sentiments here. Menzoberranzan shouldn't be that important a city, nor should it be the focal point of Drow society. If anything, logically Guallidurth should be the most important drow city, and the city that defines what is archetypally a Lolthite society, given that it is one of the oldest still surviving drow cities in existence (the other being Llurth Dreier), as well as the largest drow city in Faerun's Underdark, and the oldest city worshipping Lolth. But we know very little about that city, or how it looks like, other than that it has several different sects and beliefs about Lolth. I asked Sages and Mages podcast about the city, and they in turn asked Ed Greenwood who basically said that it had been purposely neglected and not designed since it was the "old guard" type of drow society and that it rarely ever was in civil strife, inter-house warfare or turmoil like Menzoberranazan. But it's very hard to know what he even means by "old guard", when Menzoberranzan is the image everyone has when they think of the quintessential drow society in FR. But at least we can deduce from that, that maybe Lolthite society isn't as dysfunctional, wildly chaotic and self-destructive as RA Salvatore has depicted in the Drizzt books. Might be Ed has a different and more nuanced view on how Lolthites operate.

When it comes to Faerun's religions in general, he has alluded many times that there are many regional difference and heresies among the faiths of Toril, and that the particular deities often deliberately permit and promote different sects. Lolth given her chaotic nature would most assuredly be tempted to allow such as well.

I would though really love to see other drow societies depicted as well, other than Lolthite ones. Vhaeraunian, Eilistraeean and Ghaundaurian ones. Buiyrandyn is a canon example of a drow city that embraced Eilistraee, but it was destroyed by illithids. Perhaps it could be retaken and rebuilt, maybe with the sponsorship of Waterdeep? Non-urban drow culture could be intriguing as well, say drow barbarian clans that dwell in underground black deserts and worship Selvetarm or other clans that worship Eilistraee (given her strong martial focus). Great Bhaerynden and the Underdark beneath Mulhorand (which currently has no name) would be a good place to put these, given that there is a not that many UD settlements there. There could be cultures that worship other gods than the Dark Seldarine. Shar, and in her as aspect as Ibrandul would make good sense for say a society of nomadic drow as well.



Guallidurth is the one Drow city I have really wanted to see get something like the boxed set treatment for ages. Oldest and Biggest Drow city? How is it not Lolth's favorite? The hundred's of different sects and temples with different beliefs sounds truly fascinating. I want to see the weird sects and heresies, unusual social hierarchies turned sideways and on their heads from what we 'know' about drow society. Sects that conflate other deities as aspects of Lolth, that sort of thing.

Nomadic Drow is almost required to be a thing in the Realms considering the timeline. IIRC there's a huge gap between the formation of the Great Rift and the foundation of Menzo, and those Drow were supposedly wandering that whole time, so there *should* be a tradition of nomadic Drow thousands of years old...that we just never got to see.
TheIriaeban Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 20:22:46
quote:
Originally posted by TKU
This talk of Sshamath is interesting, since as a rare religiously neutral Drow city Eilistraeens probably wouldn't have too much difficulty 'setting up shop' there openly as long as they don't disrupt business or challenge the Wizards. Even the church of Lolth was still tolerated there under the new Hierarchy, though they had to refocus their clergy towards goods and services the temple could provide to 'keep the lights on'. It could be a good place for an Eilistraeen base that could operate openly.



Sadly, the map of Sshamath doesn't show anything about an Eilistraeen enclave. Of course, it COULD still be there because the person who did the map didn't like them and just didn't want to show that they exist. There seems to be a lot of open space so there may have been all kinds of stuff the map maker didn't like.
TKU Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 20:11:36
quote:
Originally posted by Irennan
For an extremely long time, the implication has been (and still is) that the default Lolthite city runs exactly like Menzo, because Menzo is the main model. Then the are the outliers: Eryndlyn was meaningful, but WotC erased it from the map. Llurth Dreier was aberration heaven and certainly not a decent place to live (also, WotC erased it from the map). Sshamath could have been a good example of an organization of "have-nots, want mores" (wizards) channeling the rage of commoners into overthrowing the Lolthites, but nope. It was just a consequence of some really random deus ex machina that had male births immensely outnumber female births for a lot of years, for no reason at all. Undrek'Thoz was just the shift from one Lolthite organization (clergy) to another one (monks), equal in zeal but with different practices.

So, what we're left with? Nothing. There was no instance in over 12k years, in which we see a conflict born out of the dissatisfaction of the drow people under a society that reads like it was written by a 12 yo in his edgelord phase. No movement born of it. No schism. Absolutely nothing.

Not only that, but yes: as you say, if most cities followed the Lolthite dogma, you wouldn't have houses existing for an incredibly long time despite the backstabbing, and a lot of cities would have fallen to enemies like illithids or dwarves, due to the drow being an easy target due to how stupid their level of infighting is. However, despite the assumption being that most Lolthites are fanatics (and this is really rubbed in your face, starting from 3e and onward), despite the critical conditions, you still have things like houses surviving for a lot of centuries (like the Baenre), and the enemies of the drow never taking advantage of their weaknesses.

This is the problem, this is why it's "non-narrative". You can't set up such a ludicrous starting point, and then refuse to explore any of the consequences, and assume that such a thing would keep existing, fully intact, with 0 changes, 0 repercussions, for 12k years.



Menzo being the 'base model' as you say is an issue, particularly in more recent editions where everything starts to look more and more homogenous either from various cities and deities getting destroyed/killed off, or from just being de-emphasized/sidelined to the point of obscurity. (Ched Nassad going from Menzo's bigger, richer and more prestigious sister city, to getting demoted to vassal, to getting completely destroyed is a good example of this in action).

But the divergent cities were still written in, and show that the Menzo model and variations of it are vulnerable and fall or change all the time. Whether the timeline of things is realistic is another thing altogether -I don't think there are actually many examples of 10+ year cities out there outside of a few outliers like T'lindhet, Guallidurth...maybe Ust Natha. Menzo itself (and Ust Natha, by extension) were something like 5k, and Sshamath 6k, Undrek'Thoz being 'only' about 1k. and if everything was constantly like what we have seen during the silence of Lolth or in Menzo with constant revolutions and upheavals there likely shouldn't be many Drow cities left at all (Lolth or otherwise), but I think there are enough blank spaces in the histories of these cities (and of the Drow in the underdark in general) that it's quite possible that a lot of these cities weren't always Lolthite...heck maybe some of them have flipped from one deity to another multiple times in their history, been abandoned and reclaimed, etc.


This talk of Sshamath is interesting, since as a rare religiously neutral Drow city Eilistraeens probably wouldn't have too much difficulty 'setting up shop' there openly as long as they don't disrupt business or challenge the Wizards. Even the church of Lolth was still tolerated there under the new Hierarchy, though they had to refocus their clergy towards goods and services the temple could provide to 'keep the lights on'. It could be a good place for an Eilistraeen base that could operate openly.
TheIriaeban Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 20:10:50
quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

quote:
Originally posted by TheIriaeban

Hmm, that's a nice thought. That may also explain why the different Eilistraean communities are located where they are. I looked in a few places in different sourcebooks and didn't see much of anything. Would anyone happen to know of a list of those communities and their locations? If they have been operating in at least one drow city for centuries, they are going to need more than one place to put refugees. And, if they HAVE been around for centuries, some of those communities may have been destroyed over the years. Drow aren't allowed in Everneet so they would have stuck around during The Retreat.


Here's a canonical list: https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Church_of_Eilistraee#Shrines_and_Temples

Though a few of those are just holy/pilgrimage places and don't have a community.

Keep in mind that, aside from all the practical reasons that might motivate the choice of a particular position, Eilistraeans also build their communities in places where it's easy for them to interact with other races. And I remember that a cleric of Eilistraee (named Karsel'lyn Lilil something) was stationed in Evermeet and working to convince Queen Amlaruil to allow her people in the island too.

quote:

Just had a wicked idea: what if there was an Eilistraean city of the drow on one of the undeveloped continents of Toril? With maybe an Ondonti Orc city there, too. Sort of a continent of refugees? Gonna have to think about that, too.



I don't see why this couldn't happen.



Thank you. I will have to check that list out.

As for the rest, I will have to see where I am at after I complete the Iriaebor DMsGuild sourcebook I am doing now. Right now, I have some ideas about doing the same thing for Highmoon (or now Sshamath) or writing something up about the monks of Eldath (Disciples of the Yielding Way).
Kentinal Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 19:59:52
Karsel'lyn Lylyl-Lytherraias Drow (C12)

She worked as an agent of Queen Amlaruil. Her visit to Evermeet was to request that the Retreat be open to some Drow, those followers of Eilistraee. She failed in that request.

Irennan Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 19:49:03
quote:
Originally posted by TheIriaeban

Hmm, that's a nice thought. That may also explain why the different Eilistraean communities are located where they are. I looked in a few places in different sourcebooks and didn't see much of anything. Would anyone happen to know of a list of those communities and their locations? If they have been operating in at least one drow city for centuries, they are going to need more than one place to put refugees. And, if they HAVE been around for centuries, some of those communities may have been destroyed over the years. Drow aren't allowed in Everneet so they would have stuck around during The Retreat.


Here's a canonical list: https://forgottenrealms.fandom.com/wiki/Church_of_Eilistraee#Shrines_and_Temples

Though a few of those are just holy/pilgrimage places and don't have a community.

Keep in mind that, aside from all the practical reasons that might motivate the choice of a particular position, Eilistraeans also build their communities in places where it's easy for them to interact with other races. And I remember that a cleric of Eilistraee (named Karsel'lyn Lilil something) was stationed in Evermeet and working to convince Queen Amlaruil to allow her people in the island too.

quote:

Just had a wicked idea: what if there was an Eilistraean city of the drow on one of the undeveloped continents of Toril? With maybe an Ondonti Orc city there, too. Sort of a continent of refugees? Gonna have to think about that, too.



I don't see why this couldn't happen.
Irennan Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 19:43:22
quote:
Originally posted by deserk

Definitely agree with a lot of the sentiments here. Menzoberranzan shouldn't be that important a city, nor should it be the focal point of Drow society. If anything, logically Guallidurth should be the most important drow city, and the city that defines what is archetypally a Lolthite society, given that it is one of the oldest still surviving drow cities in existence (the other being Llurth Dreier), as well as the largest drow city in Faerun's Underdark, and the oldest city worshipping Lolth. But we know very little about that city, or how it looks like, other than that it has several different sects and beliefs about Lolth. I asked Sages and Mages podcast about the city, and they in turn asked Ed Greenwood who basically said that it had been purposely neglected and not designed since it was the "old guard" type of drow society and that it rarely ever was in civil strife, inter-house warfare or turmoil like Menzoberranazan. But it's very hard to know what he even means by "old guard", when Menzoberranzan is the image everyone has when they think of the quintessential drow society in FR. But at least we can deduce from that, that maybe Lolthite society isn't as dysfunctional, wildly chaotic and self-destructive as RA Salvatore has depicted in the Drizzt books. Might be Ed has a different and more nuanced view on how Lolthites operate.

When it comes to Faerun's religions in general, he has alluded many times that there are many regional difference and heresies among the faiths of Toril, and that the particular deities often deliberately permit and promote different sects. Lolth given her chaotic nature would most assuredly be tempted to allow such as well.

I would though really love to see other drow societies depicted as well, other than Lolthite ones. Vhaeraunian, Eilistraeean and Ghaundaurian ones. Buiyrandyn is a canon example of a drow city that embraced Eilistraee, but it was destroyed by illithids. Perhaps it could be retaken and rebuilt, maybe with the sponsorship of Waterdeep? Non-urban drow culture could be intriguing as well, say drow barbarian clans that dwell in underground black deserts and worship Selvetarm or other clans that worship Eilistraee (given her strong martial focus). Great Bhaerynden and the Underdark beneath Mulhorand (which currently has no name) would be a good place to put these, given that there is a not that many UD settlements there. There could be cultures that worship other gods than the Dark Seldarine. Shar, and in her as aspect as Ibrandul would make good sense for say a society of nomadic drow as well.



Ed's take on the drow is very different from canon indeed, and Lolth isn't even that dominant. In the indications that he gave some time ago, he puts Eillistraeaa at nearly 1/4th of the drow, Vhaeraun a bit above that, Kiareansalee and Ghaunadaur as niche cults, which leaves Lolth and Selvetarm at 50% or even less.

Also, his Lolthite society seems to be way less nonsensical than what we're used to see due to RAS.
TheIriaeban Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 19:12:26
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

quote:
Originally posted by TheIriaeban

Thank you, Irennan. Based on what I have found about Ssamath, I can include a covert group of Eilistraeans there that have been secretly "freeing" drow for centuries. They don't take over the town because that would just make them a target and with it being a trading center, the drow they rescue and get to the surface would only be written off as being killed by the "dangers of the Underdark" on their trip back home. Plus, with teleports working there, it is extremely easy to get them to the surface. Of course, once they get there, maybe a "Cleanse Aura" spell could be used so that anyone trying to find them using a divination spell wouldn't be able to see they are still alive. I am going to have to think some more about that.



Maybe put an earth node or something nearby, and say it blocks scrying/divination in the area. They can teleport nearby, and then walk into that blind zone.



Hmm, that's a nice thought. That may also explain why the different Eilistraean communities are located where they are. I looked in a few places in different sourcebooks and didn't see much of anything. Would anyone happen to know of a list of those communities and their locations? If they have been operating in at least one drow city for centuries, they are going to need more than one place to put refugees. And, if they HAVE been around for centuries, some of those communities may have been destroyed over the years. Drow aren't allowed in Everneet so they would have stuck around during The Retreat.

Just had a wicked idea: what if there was an Eilistraean city of the drow on one of the undeveloped continents of Toril? With maybe an Ondonti Orc city there, too. Sort of a continent of refugees? Gonna have to think about that, too.
deserk Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 19:01:50
Definitely agree with a lot of the sentiments here. Menzoberranzan shouldn't be that important a city, nor should it be the focal point of Drow society. If anything, logically Guallidurth should be the most important drow city, and the city that defines what is archetypally a Lolthite society, given that it is one of the oldest still surviving drow cities in existence (the other being Llurth Dreier), as well as the largest drow city in Faerun's Underdark, and the oldest city worshipping Lolth. But we know very little about that city, or how it looks like, other than that it has several different sects and beliefs about Lolth. I asked Sages and Mages podcast about the city, and they in turn asked Ed Greenwood who basically said that it had been purposely neglected and not designed since it was the "old guard" type of drow society and that it rarely ever was in civil strife, inter-house warfare or turmoil like Menzoberranazan. But it's very hard to know what he even means by "old guard", when Menzoberranzan is the image everyone has when they think of the quintessential drow society in FR. But at least we can deduce from that, that maybe Lolthite society isn't as dysfunctional, wildly chaotic and self-destructive as RA Salvatore has depicted in the Drizzt books. Might be Ed has a different and more nuanced view on how Lolthites operate.

When it comes to Faerun's religions in general, he has alluded many times that there are many regional difference and heresies among the faiths of Toril, and that the particular deities often deliberately permit and promote different sects. Lolth given her chaotic nature would most assuredly be tempted to allow such as well.

I would though really love to see other drow societies depicted as well, other than Lolthite ones. Vhaeraunian, Eilistraeean and Ghaundaurian ones. Buiyrandyn is a canon example of a drow city that embraced Eilistraee, but it was destroyed by illithids. Perhaps it could be retaken and rebuilt, maybe with the sponsorship of Waterdeep? Non-urban drow culture could be intriguing as well, say drow barbarian clans that dwell in underground black deserts and worship Selvetarm or other clans that worship Eilistraee (given her strong martial focus). Great Bhaerynden and the Underdark beneath Mulhorand (which currently has no name) would be a good place to put these, given that there is a not that many UD settlements there. There could be cultures that worship other gods than the Dark Seldarine. Shar, and in her as aspect as Ibrandul would make good sense for say a society of nomadic drow as well.
Wooly Rupert Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 18:26:51
quote:
Originally posted by TheIriaeban

Thank you, Irennan. Based on what I have found about Ssamath, I can include a covert group of Eilistraeans there that have been secretly "freeing" drow for centuries. They don't take over the town because that would just make them a target and with it being a trading center, the drow they rescue and get to the surface would only be written off as being killed by the "dangers of the Underdark" on their trip back home. Plus, with teleports working there, it is extremely easy to get them to the surface. Of course, once they get there, maybe a "Cleanse Aura" spell could be used so that anyone trying to find them using a divination spell wouldn't be able to see they are still alive. I am going to have to think some more about that.



Maybe put an earth node or something nearby, and say it blocks scrying/divination in the area. They can teleport nearby, and then walk into that blind zone.
TheIriaeban Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 17:18:36
Thank you, Irennan. Based on what I have found about Ssamath, I can include a covert group of Eilistraeans there that have been secretly "freeing" drow for centuries. They don't take over the town because that would just make them a target and with it being a trading center, the drow they rescue and get to the surface would only be written off as being killed by the "dangers of the Underdark" on their trip back home. Plus, with teleports working there, it is extremely easy to get them to the surface. Of course, once they get there, maybe a "Cleanse Aura" spell could be used so that anyone trying to find them using a divination spell wouldn't be able to see they are still alive. I am going to have to think some more about that.
Irennan Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 05:19:11
quote:
Originally posted by TKU

Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm not arguing that Lolthite society isn't miserable for commoners as well, just that Lolth and her religious dictates are a few more degrees distant from the commoners than it is the priestesses and especially the Matrons. Commoners have marriage contracts, but Matrons kill their consort when they get bored or to avoid the perception of weakness through attachment. I think in Lolthite cities the lower you go on the ladder the less zealous and less strict the practice of her faith gets. It's even implied that even the slaves and inhabitants of the Braeryn were expected to show deference to Lolth- obviously not particularly enforced.

There should be more examples of power struggles in Drow cities that operate on axis besides the shuffling of the noble houses on the top. That's for sure. There's some of that in the earlier stuff with places like Sshamath-but they really don't generally get spotlight time. And of course, if every drow city operated on the same 'only way to gain a rank in the noble houses is to completely wipe out another noble house' principle that Menzoberranzean operated on, there shouldn't be any 4000 year old houses around, and of course that scale of regular bloodletting we see in Menzoberranzean would leave them regularly ripe for the taking for the Mindflayers, Duergar etc.

The revolt in WoTSQ turning out to be the plotting of a Mindflayer was probably my least favorite thing out of an otherwise good book, though it does show a good snapshot of what a 'real' revolt might look like for a Drow city. The Jezred Chausslin's terrorist attacks-as you put it-certainly didn't do their cause any good honestly, I can see a lot of Drow who might otherwise might be tempted to turn towards Vhaeraun running in the opposite direction back towards Spider Lady after that stunt.

Some good thoughts about how Eilistraeans might stage a revolution. Preventing widespread loss of life seems to be a big part of their Modus Operandi, so I can't see them staging anything that would result in something close to the 'streets run with blood' levels of loss of life we see in Vhaeraunite and Kisransalee takeovers.

Lots of infiltration and would help a lot so the Eilistraeens know which way the wind's blowing when they make their move, like right after a particularly nasty bout of noble house infighting.

There was a Vhaeraunian plot to weaken the Houses of Ched Nassad into vulnerability by controlling the incoming supplies of food and water to the city, so freeing the slaves and allying with Merchant Houses could have a lot of merit for a strategy for bringing the noble houses to the negotiating table, that sort of strategy actually has precedent in canon!

The two big issues I could see would be neutralizing or winning over the wizards, since they have their own hierarchy they can be pretty tyrannical organizations themselves and covet the clergy's position of power, and the second would be what sort of terms of surrender could be offered by the Eilistraeens that would be accepted, since unless their own house soldiers turned on them en masse, or they were completely overrun militarily, there'd be terms, and they'd want assurances and have demands etc, but I imagine that a solution in which the Lolthite clergy was allowed to continue to operate in an Eilistraeen city under any circumstances would be 'distasteful' to say the least.




For an extremely long time, the implication has been (and still is) that the default Lolthite city runs exactly like Menzo, because Menzo is the main model. Then the are the outliers: Eryndlyn was meaningful, but WotC erased it from the map. Llurth Dreier was aberration heaven and certainly not a decent place to live (also, WotC erased it from the map). Sshamath could have been a good example of an organization of "have-nots, want mores" (wizards) channeling the rage of commoners into overthrowing the Lolthites, but nope. It was just a consequence of some really random deus ex machina that had male births immensely outnumber female births for a lot of years, for no reason at all. Undrek'Thoz was just the shift from one Lolthite organization (clergy) to another one (monks), equal in zeal but with different practices.

So, what we're left with? Nothing. There was no instance in over 12k years, in which we see a conflict born out of the dissatisfaction of the drow people under a society that reads like it was written by a 12 yo in his edgelord phase. No movement born of it. No schism. Absolutely nothing.

Not only that, but yes: as you say, if most cities followed the Lolthite dogma, you wouldn't have houses existing for an incredibly long time despite the backstabbing, and a lot of cities would have fallen to enemies like illithids or dwarves, due to the drow being an easy target due to how stupid their level of infighting is. However, despite the assumption being that most Lolthites are fanatics (and this is really rubbed in your face, starting from 3e and onward), despite the critical conditions, you still have things like houses surviving for a lot of centuries (like the Baenre), and the enemies of the drow never taking advantage of their weaknesses.

This is the problem, this is why it's "non-narrative". You can't set up such a ludicrous starting point, and then refuse to explore any of the consequences, and assume that such a thing would keep existing, fully intact, with 0 changes, 0 repercussions, for 12k years.

-----

As for an Eilistraean revolution, that I know, commoners are not without military training, so they're not entirely harmless. Some slaves are also very dangerous (even giants are among them, if you go by WotSQ).

My reasoning was that, if they were motivated to go on what essentially is a continued strike, if it was organized and affecting the whole food/1st necessity goods production of a whole city (and maybe if as many resources stored by the houses as possible were also to be destroyed), things would get bad for the soldiers, very quickly. An army burns through resources like fire through paper. The Lolthite would be in a lose/lose situation. And if the soldiers decided to engage battle, depending on the city, the rebels could prepare the ground for guerilla tactics and stall for as long as possible, in order to drain the enemy of more and more resources. Eilistraee's clerics could also help with their spells. I'm pretty sure you could come up with a lot of stalling tactics (and the Sword Dancers are also good with hit and run tactics, and with keeping the morale high).

Now, the Eilistraeans could also gain the support of merchant clans (in the lore, Eilistraeans are known to help drow merchants set up business on the surface, as well as using their magic to offer fast teleportation from Underdark to the surface, so they have the potential of greatly increased profits to offer), as well as some soldiers, and even some wizards. This would make for a decent setup to get rid of the Lolthite theocracy. Also, I mean, even in the noble houses, a lot of members are bound to be firggin' sick to suffer Lolth's nonsense? With conditions as pitiful as those offered by Lolth, with people who are supposed to have some brains on average, if things weren't skewed by author bias, it wouldn't be *that* hard to convince even people on the enemy side to give the middle finger to Lolth.

That said, as you point out, the problem would be dealing with the former allies once the dust settles (everyone has their own interests), as well as handling the post-revolution. But the point is to basically give the Lolthite almost no choice.
Kentinal Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 03:15:22
quote:
Originally posted by Irennan

quote:
Originally posted by Kentinal

quote:
Originally posted by TKU


Also a an Eilistraee-dominated underdark city would be great to see while I'm wishlisting. Don't think we have seen one of those yet. Vhaeraun has several, even Kiaransalee had one or two. Promenade was all I can think of for the Dark Dancer that coems close, and we have never seen what a Eilistraeen 'revolt' would look like yet afaik, mostly Vhaeraun or Kiaransalee get that role.




We have only heard of the Town that Qilu came from that no longer exists. Current lore indicates that the followers of the Dark Maiden do not have communities, a few temples are all that remain. Even The Promenade is basically a fortress as opposed to a community. Yes people live there, however it is not a Town, village or city, it is an out post set up to protect. There were some attempts to describe or build a Eilistraee community by fans.



There are communites, though. The one in Velarswood (one of the largest), Wildwinds Coven, Misty Forest, Elventree, Raven's Bluff, and now even Waterdeep. They might be small, but they're still communities. Even Ed talks about Eilistraean communties, and says that they form around shrines. No communites un the Underark, though, aside from the Promenade (though you're right that in the current era it's more of a garrison with a dozen people presiding it).



I do believe all of those are on the surface. Clearly do not match an "Eilistraee-dominated underdark city" .
I certainly might have missed out on some of the newer surface communities, the lore I know nest is that there could be groups of chosen of Eilistraee in the same city that did not know of each other because of being small groups (For safety or security reasons).
TKU Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 03:06:55
Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm not arguing that Lolthite society isn't miserable for commoners as well, just that Lolth and her religious dictates are a few more degrees distant from the commoners than it is the priestesses and especially the Matrons. Commoners have marriage contracts, but Matrons kill their consort when they get bored or to avoid the perception of weakness through attachment. I think in Lolthite cities the lower you go on the ladder the less zealous and less strict the practice of her faith gets. It's even implied that even the slaves and inhabitants of the Braeryn were expected to show deference to Lolth- obviously not particularly enforced.

There should be more examples of power struggles in Drow cities that operate on axis besides the shuffling of the noble houses on the top. That's for sure. There's some of that in the earlier stuff with places like Sshamath-but they really don't generally get spotlight time. And of course, if every drow city operated on the same 'only way to gain a rank in the noble houses is to completely wipe out another noble house' principle that Menzoberranzean operated on, there shouldn't be any 4000 year old houses around, and of course that scale of regular bloodletting we see in Menzoberranzean would leave them regularly ripe for the taking for the Mindflayers, Duergar etc.

The revolt in WoTSQ turning out to be the plotting of a Mindflayer was probably my least favorite thing out of an otherwise good book, though it does show a good snapshot of what a 'real' revolt might look like for a Drow city. The Jezred Chausslin's terrorist attacks-as you put it-certainly didn't do their cause any good honestly, I can see a lot of Drow who might otherwise might be tempted to turn towards Vhaeraun running in the opposite direction back towards Spider Lady after that stunt.

Some good thoughts about how Eilistraeans might stage a revolution. Preventing widespread loss of life seems to be a big part of their Modus Operandi, so I can't see them staging anything that would result in something close to the 'streets run with blood' levels of loss of life we see in Vhaeraunite and Kisransalee takeovers.

Lots of infiltration and would help a lot so the Eilistraeens know which way the wind's blowing when they make their move, like right after a particularly nasty bout of noble house infighting.

There was a Vhaeraunian plot to weaken the Houses of Ched Nassad into vulnerability by controlling the incoming supplies of food and water to the city, so freeing the slaves and allying with Merchant Houses could have a lot of merit for a strategy for bringing the noble houses to the negotiating table, that sort of strategy actually has precedent in canon!

The two big issues I could see would be neutralizing or winning over the wizards, since they have their own hierarchy they can be pretty tyrannical organizations themselves and covet the clergy's position of power, and the second would be what sort of terms of surrender could be offered by the Eilistraeens that would be accepted, since unless their own house soldiers turned on them en masse, or they were completely overrun militarily, there'd be terms, and they'd want assurances and have demands etc, but I imagine that a solution in which the Lolthite clergy was allowed to continue to operate in an Eilistraeen city under any circumstances would be 'distasteful' to say the least.

quote:
Originally posted by CorellonsDevout

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Well said. I can't disagree with any of it... It's part of why I am sick of Menzoberranzan. It went from a city of middling importance in 2E (and was canonically described as such) to being the most important drow city -- all because one character was successful and WotC is determined to beat that horse until it's dead, raised by a necromancer, and beat to destruction again.




Yup, and despite the insistence that the drow are nuanced and there are other good drow in Menzo, said nuances were entirely ignored through 4e, and now in 5e, even though Vhaeraun and Eilistraee have returned, it's not their followers who are making a difference, despite working in centuries. Oh no, it's because of an "atheist" (put in quotes because true athiesm is rare in the Realms) drow, and a drow who left Menzo and his people centuries ago, but somehow became a "beacon of hope".

But I have ranted about this at length in other scrolls (and elswhere) already lol.



Do I really want to know what this is about That sounds concerning.

It's still kinda depressing looking through Drizzt's Guide to the Underdark and seeing Ched Nassad described as Menzoberranzean's more prestigious sister city, and remembering it got demoted to vassal before being destroyed. What a waste. Woulda killed for a set for that city like Menzoberranzean got.
CorellonsDevout Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 02:47:24
quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert

Well said. I can't disagree with any of it... It's part of why I am sick of Menzoberranzan. It went from a city of middling importance in 2E (and was canonically described as such) to being the most important drow city -- all because one character was successful and WotC is determined to beat that horse until it's dead, raised by a necromancer, and beat to destruction again.




Yup, and despite the insistence that the drow are nuanced and there are other good drow in Menzo, said nuances were entirely ignored through 4e, and now in 5e, even though Vhaeraun and Eilistraee have returned, it's not their followers who are making a difference, despite working in centuries. Oh no, it's because of an "atheist" (put in quotes because true athiesm is rare in the Realms) drow, and a drow who left Menzo and his people centuries ago, but somehow became a "beacon of hope".

But I have ranted about this at length in other scrolls (and elswhere) already lol.
Irennan Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 01:41:57
quote:
Originally posted by Kentinal

quote:
Originally posted by TKU


Also a an Eilistraee-dominated underdark city would be great to see while I'm wishlisting. Don't think we have seen one of those yet. Vhaeraun has several, even Kiaransalee had one or two. Promenade was all I can think of for the Dark Dancer that coems close, and we have never seen what a Eilistraeen 'revolt' would look like yet afaik, mostly Vhaeraun or Kiaransalee get that role.




We have only heard of the Town that Qilu came from that no longer exists. Current lore indicates that the followers of the Dark Maiden do not have communities, a few temples are all that remain. Even The Promenade is basically a fortress as opposed to a community. Yes people live there, however it is not a Town, village or city, it is an out post set up to protect. There were some attempts to describe or build a Eilistraee community by fans.



There are communites, though. The one in Velarswood (one of the largest), Wildwinds Coven, Misty Forest, Elventree, Raven's Bluff, and now even Waterdeep. They might be small, but they're still communities. Even Ed talks about Eilistraean communties, and says that they form around shrines. No communites un the Underark, though, aside from the Promenade (though you're right that in the current era it's more of a garrison with a dozen people presiding it).
Irennan Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 01:39:17
quote:
Originally posted by TKU

The commoners have the least to 'gain' from adherence to lolth, and have far less 'policing' from the priestesses than the ruling class, so faith in her being lax in that facet of society is expected. In that sense, the revolt like we saw in the first book of WoTSQ, and Vhaeraunites among the merchants and merchant houses like we saw with the Dragon's Horde makes a lot of sense. At the same time, commoners aren't as exposed to many of the extremes of Lolth's lunacy. The mass heart-carving out horrors are the sort of thing that's reserved for the chapels and cathedrals, which don't tend to be open to the public (or men), outside of the occasional grand public spectacle arranged by the noble households they are more in the vein (ha) of cutting your hand in front of an idol or tossing some gems in a brazier sort of deal. Even with stuff like the commoner hunts arranged by Menzoberranzean's young nobles, commoner drow canonically have a higher average life expectancy, so I can see faith in Lolth to someone like a commoner involving a lot less of the nasty stuff like giving your romantic partner the 'Spider's Kiss' or sacrificing your second son. More like throw an opal in the flames and give a prayer of 'Test me Lolth' before heading out with the merchant Caravan in the hopes of turning some good profit- that sort of thing.

A lot of the Lolth's Dogma is set up to encourage adversarial attitudes towards outsiders and social inferiors though, so regardless of how much of the crazy murder and sacrifice stuff trickles down to the commoners, the oppression is real and palpable. I think the slavery and propagation of hatred towards non-drow, outsiders etc is probably one of the biggest motivators towards commoners keeping in line, alongside an inability to move somewhere else. Such is historically used in a widespread manner to keep lower classes 'content'. It's unfortunate the lengths some miserable people will go to defend their right to look down on people slightly more miserable than themselves, but I think the intention with a lot of how typical Lolthite society is built is to constantly direct the aggression and dissatisfaction around to keep it from blowing up in the nobles' faces.

Of course, the other members of the Dark Seldarine (particularly Vhaeraun and Eilistraee) have messages almost perfectly tailored to counteract Lolth's church and so present a existential threat whenever they start gaining momentum. When they start popping up, Lolth's clergy have to eradicate them or adapt, and fast or die, I agree there- but in the absence of such upheavals, I think they work well enough to justify their continued adherence to Lolth. There were a few cities back in earlier editions that had mixed pantheon's with Lolth+one or more other members of the Dark Seldarine, (never Eilistraee unfortunately) and those are the ones I would have liked to see more of, see how the Lolthites had to adapt their practices and message in the face of competition they couldn't just stamp out by rolling up with a bunch of Priestesses and snake-whipping everything to death.

Also a an Eilistraee-dominated underdark city would be great to see while I'm wishlisting. Don't think we have seen one of those yet. Vhaeraun has several, even Kiaransalee had one or two. Promenade was all I can think of for the Dark Dancer that coems close, and we have never seen what a Eilistraeen 'revolt' would look like yet afaik, mostly Vhaeraun or Kiaransalee get that role.


The problem with commoners also lies with them being explicitly said to be in conditions of perpetual misery and poverty, and that the priestesses can legally bankrupt those who get close to gain a degree of success, because they want to try and prevent people from gathering enough resources to get away on their own (or because they're just asses). Basically, commoners are emotionally miserable (because they still don't have real human relationships, due to Lolth's edgy teenager dogma being still forced on all and essential things like trust being taboo, though not at the same level as it is for the nobles), and materially miserable, with no safe way to improve their condition. Because even if they do, they can be brought down with a snap of fingers by some priestess, or even killed for fun by some random d*ck.

Under those conditions, alongside crap like the hunts and whatever, it's normal that the commoners should be entirely disilluded with Lolth. Faith should be lipservice at most, and Lolth should lose a lot of hold and power because of that. However, only the 2e sources make an effort to tell you that there is indeed discontent, but then don't even explore the consequences of that. WotC's version uniformly pushes ALL Lolthites as fanatically adhering to Lolth, and seeing her as the only way out. Even the most iron-fisted RW dictatorships have had and still have a large number of protesters, dissenters, and groups actually opposing their governments. However, the drow, who live in so much worse situations, for whom even a word could be grounds for being tortured to death, in 12000 friggin' years, had nothing of that. Sorry, but what a joke.

Yes, hatred of outisders is a common tactic, but it's A LONG shot from even remotely justifying 12000 years of 0 changes in such a ludicrous society (from a supposedly "highly intelligent" people at that--see why I say that the Lolthite want to be the most stupid evil society in fantasy and have it all, but refuse to actually explore any consequence?).

Let's not forget to mention how the massive infighting and stagnation never has consequences for the Lolthite drow. At the end of the day, their society always continues surviving in such a laughable state, despite them being surrounded by super-smart or super-strong enemies who would easily exploit a massive weakness like an unsatisfied people, or an army capable of engaging in backstabbing even during life or death situations.

Finally, as I mentioned, an even bigger problem lies with the "have some, want more" kind of people, the ones who have all the interest to overthrow the Lolthite regime, and who would easily be able to channel the commoners' dissatisfaction. They do basically nothing all the time. There was never a movement started by a group of wizards, merchant clans, or Vhaeraunite or Eilistraean infiltrates, that got a lot of commoners behind them, and tried to seriously get rid of the widespread idiocy. At best we got some Vhaeraunite-affiliated assassins' plan to demolish drow city upon drow city, and that didn't involve the commoners at all. In fact, the Vhaeraunite and Kiaransalyn "revolutions" we saw weren't even revolutions, just terrorist acts. They had nothing to do with the drow people wanting a change. At the end of the WotSQ, even after having been abandoned to rot by Lolth for such a stupid plan, the drow as a whole were still loyal to her and perfectly fine with all that had happened! We never saw a real drow revolution or schism.

As for upheavals--exactly, that's the problem. The problem with this worldbuilding is that A LOT of those schisms and upheavals should have happened in 12000 years, either forced by outside forces, or by power groups within Lolthite society, but nearly 0 actually happened.

The WoTSQ revolt wasn't even a commoners' revolt, it was a slave revolt manipulated by some illithid lich, and it wasn't due to dissatisfaction of the commoners with Lolth.

------------------

As for an Eilistraean revolution, I think it would be about:
1)preventing as many deaths as possible
2)actually changing the mind of the drow, basically "tempting" them with a far better life, and teaching them the strength in unity. People need to be motivated, and in building "mass", the Eilistraeans will try to also make them slowly opne up to the warmth and joy that Lolth denied them.
3)involving all the slaves too, and reaching to all downthrodden people (including some soldiers).
4)having an exit plan ready, in order to rescue as many people as possible if things were to go awry. Eilistraeans have a portal network and the Moonsong spell to teleport on the surface. Menzoberranzan itself even has an Eilistraean portal.
5)preparing resources on the surface to actually support such a massive effort.

Basically, I think they'd try to avoid battles when possible (but still fight when unavoidable, ofc), and to use resource/labor control to force the enemy to come to pacts. If slaves and commoners refuse to do their work, and if they're coordinated in doing so, the army is going to be starved of 1st necessity goods. And keeping an army up requires A LOT of resources. Lolthite priestesses may try to use create food spells, but 1)it's not going to be enough 2)given that truly high level casters are rare even amiog the drow, and that create food is already III level (I believe?), using spells for that is going to mean less dangerous spells available to the Lolthites each day.

It'd be an incredibly hard thing to organize (and it'd take a long time), and I think it'd be needed to involve groups who have their own interest in the matter, but that could easily disagree with a lot of the tenets of the Eilistraeans (like wizards, or even Vhaeraunite clergy), and to put ears and eyes in the nobles' houses. It isn't as unlikely as it sounds--after all, the 1st daugher of a now merged Menzoberranyr house was an Eilistraean infiltrator, and it took a long time for her to be exposed and forced to flee the city.

IMO, a thematically fitting idea for Eilistraee would be presenting themselves as a company of actors and opening up an "artistic" activity (like theaters etc...) in the districts inhabited by mostly commoners. Eilistraee is an artsy goddess, and art is fundamental to her because it's one of the ways to show the drow the beauty in life that they've been denied, as well as a mean to rediscover the freedom of expression that is basically lacking in Lolthite society (even their hairstyles are dictated by laws, lol). The Eilistraeans could attract people through their art, and by offering meals to the people who attend (maybe "exotic" food, aka rarely seen in the Underdark) for cheap prices (for free would probably be very suspicious to Lolthites), and then start building a community. Setting a friendly/warm atmosphere would be key, because this starting point would be used to spread a variety of ideas, as well as slowly leading a lot of drow to change by experiencing things that they've been denied, but that everyone instinctively needs (like the feeling of belonging to something). This could be made more efficient by giving people the possibility to contribute to the project in their own way (suggest/make decorations, plays&songs for those inclined, cooking etc...), because they would become invested in the community, and the experience would further solidify an eventual shift in mindset. The above-mentioned people would then probably start spread those changes to the ones "close" to them (aka, companions, children, etc...). This at least as far changing people's mind goes.

The "theater" could also be used to hide one of their portals.

In any case, Idk how easy it would be to find out about all of this for the Lolthites, and I'm not very positive on its chances of not being found out, but it would still remain a thematically fitting endeavor. Oh, I'm also assuming that the commoners would actually be resentful and dissatisfied with their treatment, rather than being as portrayed in WotC canon (because a revolution wouldn't even be able to begin otherwise).
TKU Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 01:10:58
Sounds like time to build one then the next time I can rope together a group for a FR campaign.
Kentinal Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 01:05:29
quote:
Originally posted by TKU


Also a an Eilistraee-dominated underdark city would be great to see while I'm wishlisting. Don't think we have seen one of those yet. Vhaeraun has several, even Kiaransalee had one or two. Promenade was all I can think of for the Dark Dancer that coems close, and we have never seen what a Eilistraeen 'revolt' would look like yet afaik, mostly Vhaeraun or Kiaransalee get that role.




We have only heard of the Town that Qilu came from that no longer exists. Current lore indicates that the followers of the Dark Maiden do not have communities, a few temples are all that remain. Even The Promenade is basically a fortress as opposed to a community. Yes people live there, however it is not a Town, village or city, it is an out post set up to protect. There were some attempts to describe or build a Eilistraee community by fans.
TKU Posted - 28 Jan 2021 : 00:33:00
The commoners have the least to 'gain' from adherence to lolth, and have far less 'policing' from the priestesses than the ruling class, so faith in her being lax in that facet of society is expected. In that sense, the revolt like we saw in the first book of WoTSQ, and Vhaeraunites among the merchants and merchant houses like we saw with the Dragon's Horde makes a lot of sense. At the same time, commoners aren't as exposed to many of the extremes of Lolth's lunacy. The mass heart-carving out horrors are the sort of thing that's reserved for the chapels and cathedrals, which don't tend to be open to the public (or men), outside of the occasional grand public spectacle arranged by the noble households they are more in the vein (ha) of cutting your hand in front of an idol or tossing some gems in a brazier sort of deal. Even with stuff like the commoner hunts arranged by Menzoberranzean's young nobles, commoner drow canonically have a higher average life expectancy, so I can see faith in Lolth to someone like a commoner involving a lot less of the nasty stuff like giving your romantic partner the 'Spider's Kiss' or sacrificing your second son. More like throw an opal in the flames and give a prayer of 'Test me Lolth' before heading out with the merchant Caravan in the hopes of turning some good profit- that sort of thing.

A lot of the Lolth's Dogma is set up to encourage adversarial attitudes towards outsiders and social inferiors though, so regardless of how much of the crazy murder and sacrifice stuff trickles down to the commoners, the oppression is real and palpable. I think the slavery and propagation of hatred towards non-drow, outsiders etc is probably one of the biggest motivators towards commoners keeping in line, alongside an inability to move somewhere else. Such is historically used in a widespread manner to keep lower classes 'content'. It's unfortunate the lengths some miserable people will go to defend their right to look down on people slightly more miserable than themselves, but I think the intention with a lot of how typical Lolthite society is built is to constantly direct the aggression and dissatisfaction around to keep it from blowing up in the nobles' faces.

Of course, the other members of the Dark Seldarine (particularly Vhaeraun and Eilistraee) have messages almost perfectly tailored to counteract Lolth's church and so present a existential threat whenever they start gaining momentum. When they start popping up, Lolth's clergy have to eradicate them or adapt, and fast or die, I agree there- but in the absence of such upheavals, I think they work well enough to justify their continued adherence to Lolth. There were a few cities back in earlier editions that had mixed pantheon's with Lolth+one or more other members of the Dark Seldarine, (never Eilistraee unfortunately) and those are the ones I would have liked to see more of, see how the Lolthites had to adapt their practices and message in the face of competition they couldn't just stamp out by rolling up with a bunch of Priestesses and snake-whipping everything to death.

Also a an Eilistraee-dominated underdark city would be great to see while I'm wishlisting. Don't think we have seen one of those yet. Vhaeraun has several, even Kiaransalee had one or two. Promenade was all I can think of for the Dark Dancer that coems close, and we have never seen what a Eilistraeen 'revolt' would look like yet afaik, mostly Vhaeraun or Kiaransalee get that role.

quote:
Originally posted by Wooly Rupert
That's also part of my issue with the War of the Spider Queen books. First, we have a select group of mortals, sent to another mortal city, to figure out what's happening to their goddess on an entirely different plane of existence -- which is like driving across town to find out what's happening on Neptune. And this group of characters then proceeds to demonstrate the Chaotic Stupid alignment that so many people think defines evil alignments in D&D: they couldn't trust each other or agree on anything and were constantly at each other's throats. They're all intelligent adults on a mission, but acted like teenaged boys in a locker room trying to one up each other and act like they're all that.

The dynamics of the group were just painful to read. I've gotten along with exes and people that actively hated me better than those characters did.

Sums up a lot of my main problems too. The Quenthel/Pharaun bickering was particularly painful after several books. They hated each other so much, one of them should have killed the other or at least cowed the other into submission by the end of the second or third book at most.

And the hopscotching across Faerun thing got old when it became clear that it meant none of the places outside of Menzoberranzean (which seemed to take up half of the page space in the later books) was going to get any development.

The overarching plot itself...honestly the whole silence of Lolth being confined to just Menzoberranzean itself would have been fine. It didn't need to be a story of cosmic scale, just the the Menzo team trying to find a way to regain their goddesses' favor for their city would be enough.
Irennan Posted - 27 Jan 2021 : 23:19:58
The sources that show the most nuance and the most presence of dissent are the original 2e "The Drow of the Underdark", and the "Menzoberranzan" boxed set AFAIK. That said, "the most nuance" doesn't really mean enough nuance, and sadly, the further we go in the editions, the more nonsensical and one-note the drow become, until you come across laughable crap like the "chad-zak" thingy.
TheIriaeban Posted - 27 Jan 2021 : 23:02:19
I really appreciate how everyone has dissected drow society. Is there any source book from any edition that presents a logical, functional depiction of a drow society?

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