It took rereading the myths to finally uncover the truth. The Drow aren’t what you think they are. Not by a long shot.
The creation story of the modern Drow is well known. They were invented by Gary Gygax as the villains to inhabit a new underworld setting for a series of adventures for Dungeons & Dragons in the late 70’s.
The original Drow was a goblin-like or dwarf-like creature in the folklore of the Shetland and Orkney Islands. What is interesting is that the name can be traced to the Norse Draugr. Modern readers and audiences will understand a Draugr as a cross between a zombie and a vampire.
Perhaps the most perplexing ability the Drow possess is their innate power to generate light or darkness. And there it is, in the myth of the Draugr. They generate foxfire, a light that’s the borderland between the worlds of the living and the dead. Another story speaks of four individual lights that witnesses see gleaming from a barrow. They can also cause darkness in the middle of the day.
This, coupled with the Drow’s obsidian complexion makes it abundantly clear that our modern Drow are essentially dashing, elven vampires. The draugr have received the hollywood glamour treatment. Gygax simply followed in Stoker’s footsteps. The Drow are a variation on a theme. Now that I know the truth, I can at last put them in context as a writer.
I prefer a game more faithful to its source material. Contrary to popular mythology, the Dark Elves of Norse myth appear as High Elves within D&D. The Drow have stolen both their name and their spotlight. So they are banned from my gaming table.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and I
hope to see you back here very soon. Whether you’re a gamer or a fan of fantasy fiction, I welcome your comments below.
(The illustration used above is fair use. However, if I am mistaken, please let me know and I will remove it without hesitation.)