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Depora Azrinae, a drow.

Drow,1 or dark elves, are the descendants of the elves who refused to abandon Golarion when it was discovered that the Starstone would hit the world. Unlike their cousins, they did not escape through a dimensional portal, but rather hid themselves in the Darklands below. These elves that remained were changed by the influence of Rovagug into a demon-worshipping culture, and when the other elves returned, they found their brethren bitter, twisted, and evil enemies.23


Origin of the drow

During the Age of Legend, the ancestors of today's drow race were simply elves living in the northwest corner of Avistan, in a small forest kingdom around the city of Celwynvian. An elven secret society known as the Winter Council had discovered that the antediluvian alghollthu races were behind the rise of the human civilizations of Azlant and Thassilon. They also learned that the alghollthus had grown tired of humanity's arrogance and planned to destroy them by calling down a meteor from the heavens.2

With time to avoid this cataclysmic event, the elves called out to their brethren to flee Golarion for their ancient refuge of Sovyrian on the planet Castrovel, via the powerful aiudara gate known as the Sovyrian Stone.24 Most did so, but a few elves refused to abandon Golarion. The exact reasons why they chose to stay behind is still a matter of debate among the elves. Some believe it was out of loyalty to this world, while others suggest that the drow were a political faction who were against the passive elven response to humanity's encroachment on their land.2

A drow priest of Zon-Kuthon.

Whatever the true reason, a group of elves fled into the Caves of the Craven below the Calphiak Mountains, believing that they could escape the surface world's destruction by simply delving deep enough into the Darklands. When Earthfall struck, the Darklands were shaken by tremendous tremors, strong enough to briefly wake Rovagug, the god of destruction who had been imprisoned far below during the Age of Creation.25 As his wakened mind reached out, it touched the cave where the elves had sequestered themselves, and mixed with the Darklands' strange radiations and the elves' own feelings of betrayal and anger. It transformed them, turning the hues of their eyes into a sinister red or bleached white, and made their flesh of an unearthly lavender sheen,6 and replaced the race's natural tendencies towards independence and good with Rovagug's evil; these elves became the first generation of drow.2


Half-drow, sometimes called darkborn by humans or thinblood by drow, are the equivalent of half-elves but derive their elven ancestry from drow.7 Half-drow are a taboo topic among the drow, and are generally the result of matings between drow matrons (or would-be matrons) and important humans.8


Paizo published a section about drow in Monster Codex, a major article about the drow of Golarion's Darklands in Darklands Revisited and some detail in Blood of Shadows.

For additional resources, see the Meta page.

  1. The singular and plural of drow are the same.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Greg A. Vaughan. (2008). Shadow in the Sky. Shadow in the Sky, p. 7–8. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-115-2
  3. Tanya DePass, James Jacobs, Lyz Liddell, et al. (2019). "Overview". World Guide, p. 8. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-172-6
  4. James L. Sutter. (2012). Distant Worlds, p. 10–11. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-403-0
  5. James Jacobs et al. (2011). "The Inner Sea". The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 33. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
  6. Logan Bonner, Jason Bulmahn, Stephen Radney-MacFarland, Mark Seifter, et al. (2019). Bestiary (Second Edition), p. 136. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-64078-170-2
  7. Judy Bauer, Neal F. Litherland, Ryan Macklin, and David N. Ross. (2014). Bastards of Golarion, p. 6. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-602-7
  8. Thurston Hillman. (2016). Drow. Darklands Revisited, p. 7. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-819-9