Drow (starting race)

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Drow, also known as dark elves, are a possible starting race in some variants. According to the guidebook:

Drow are the dark elves of the sunless realm. Well suited to the dungeon environment, they have much in common with standard elves, but their specialty is their sleep attack.


In SLASH'EM, the drow race is most noted for their bare-handed sleep attack. While SLASH'EM's regular elves are lawful or neutral, drow are chaotic. Drow are elven but they are unlike other elves.[1]

When drow fight bare-handed, their melee attacks will sometimes put monsters to sleep; this makes them an excellent choice for new SLASH'EM players. Like other elves, player drow gain sleep resistance at experience level 4.[2] Unlike other elves, drow do not have infravision, nor are they infravisible.

Drow are dark elves, more out-of-place at the surface than in the dungeon. Drow can take the roles of Barbarian, Flame Mage, Ice Mage, Necromancer, Priest, Ranger, Undead Slayer, or Wizard; they play chaotic for all of them.

During the early game, drow survive well if they fight bare-handed. Monsters will wake soon after the drow puts them to sleep, but not if the drow attacks repeatedly. In this way, the drow can win many fights without taking any damage after the monster slept. Even if surrounded, the drow's sleep attack helps them fight multiple opponents or flee into a corridor. Drow who forget to try bare-handed combat will find the game much more difficult. However, many monsters have sleep resistance and must be dealt with differently. Drow with high bare-handed combat skill can even take down shopkeepers in hand-to-hand battles without taking a hit. The trade-off for this remarkable power comes later, when the drow finds its maximum stat scores limited. (Though the limits are the same as other elves)

Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha
18 18 16 20 20 18

A droven Barbarian is an easy race-role combination and allows the player to begin fighting bare-handed before switching to a better weapon like a battle-axe or artifact.

It is not possible to twoweapon as a drow, though the option, annoyingly, still appears.



Drow in dNetHack are significantly different from their appearance in SLASH'EM.

Racial benefits and restrictions

Drow may be any role that elves can be (Anachrononauts, Convicts, Nobles, Pirates, Priests, Rangers, or Wizards). Alignment depends on gender: Female Drow start the game as chaotic, Male Drow start the game as neutral..

Drow can see perfectly in the dark, but can't see into lit areas. Worse, they're virtually blind in the light, unable to see anything that's not directly on their square; this differs from ordinary blindness in that they can still read scrolls, tiles, and other inventory items, as well as engravings at their feet. On the other hand, light-blindness won't trigger intrinsic telepathy even if they have it, making it all too easy to inadvertently attack pets and other peacefuls. They can create a patch of darkness using the #monster command, or explore lit rooms slowly. Using the #monster command consumes 10 power. If the player has less than 10 max power, then it costs all of what they have. As a result, the first couple dungeon/experience levels can be slow, waiting for your power to recharge.

Drow receive either a cave spider or a baby crocodile as a starting pet. They may also saddle and mount giant spiders, crocodiles, giant turtles, riding lizards, and salamanders. Drow Nobles receive either a saddled giant cave spider or a saddled riding lizard, depending on gender.

Drow casting the summon insects monster spell will instead summon spiders.

Drow start with strong racial weapons and armor, though these items have some significant drawbacks as well.

Maximum stats

Instead of improved elven Wisdom, drow receive a bonus to maximum Charisma. Otherwise they have the same limits as elves (including boosted Dexterity which both races have in dNetHack).

Str Dex Con Int Wis Cha
18 20 16 20 18 20

Droven items


Droven armor (both droven plate mail and droven chain mail) is made of a material that degrades when exposed to light, eventually evaporating completely. Fixed droven armor still evaporates, but will regenerate while in the dark. Unfixed droven armor does not regenerate. Cloaks with magic cancellation protect against the light, so a MC3 cloak is a virtual necessity when exploring lit rooms. It is worth it to try to keep your starting armor intact. Both armors are non-metallic, low weight, and offer high AC. Droven chain mail also boosts spellcasting. Most drow begin play with one of these types of armor.

All Drow start with a droven cloak made of spiderwebs. These cloaks offer no AC but give level 3 magic cancellation. Droven cloaks can be (a)pplied to an adjacent square to create a web there. Each use of the cloak lowers its magic cancellation by 1. If it reaches MC0, the cloak is used up. The cloak may also be applied at an existing web to remove the web and restore MC to the cloak.


Droven weapons are high damage, but are made of fragile obsidian, meaning they will shatter if thrown or (in the case of droven crossbow bolts) fired. All starting droven weapons are coated in sleeping poison.

The lone exception to this is the droven crossbow, which is made of more durable stuff. Droven crossbows also bear the silver holy symbol of Lolth, so they deal an additional 1d20 silver damage if used to bash silver-hating creatures.


All drow also begin play with a droven signet ring. This is a new randomized appearance for rings, so the magical properties of the ring vary from game to game, but all signet rings function as poison-injection rings. When #dipped into an eligible potion, the ring absorbs 30 doses of poison, which can be inflicted on opponents through barehanded combat while wearing the ring. If two signet rings are worn, both apply their poison. The signet rings given to starting drow are pre-loaded with sleeping poison.

Signet rings are guaranteed to be of a valid type for starting players. All drow can reach grand-master level in unarmed fighting.

Signet rings also bear specific crests, and sometimes the holy symbols of drow deities. Rings engraved with the holy symbols also count as silver rings when attacking silver-hating monsters. Rings that have a spiderweb design on them add +5 to unarmed attacks.


"Lolth" is a Drow-specific weaker version of Elbereth. It works against the same monsters (all but @, A, K, minotaurs and riders) with the difference that if the monster is higher level than you, it will drain your alignment, and it won't work if your alignment is 0 or less.


dNetHack's drow race is based on SLASH'EM's drow. The bare-handed sleep attack that the SLASH'EM drow are known for became the poison-injecting signet rings.

Encyclopedia entry

Myths exist for a purpose - To explain the unexplainable.
Because man fears the unknown.

Murdering our kin. Our children.
Butchering our towns.
Devouring our flesh.
Enslaving our people.
Whispering of incest.
Desecrating our lands.
These mythical black demons with red eyes, embodying all
the sins of men.

But what if those demons truly exist?
What are they, who are they?
Do they dream?
Do they hate and love?
Do they have their own demons that represent
everything they despise and fear?

[ Drowtales, by Kern, Kite, and Bandit, Drowtales.com ]

Also known as dark elves, drow are a depraved and evil
subterranean offshoot of the elvish species.

White is the most common hair color among drow, but almost
any pale shade is possible. Drow tend to be smaller and
thinner than other sorts of elves, and their eyes are often
a vivid red.

[ DnD 3.5 SRD ]


Drow can play as either a Convict, Infidel, Knight, Monk, Priest, Rogue, Ranger, or Wizard. They are of chaotic alignment, except when playing as an Infidel, who are always unaligned. They are considered an elf (monster attribute) subrace for cannibalism and sacrificing purposes. Like their brethren, they are averse to iron. Their starting stats and limitations/bonuses also match those of elves.

They start with sleep resistance and ultravision (allowing them to see in the dark as if it were lit), gain intrinsic poison resistance at experience level 5, and intrinsic searching at experience level 9.

They have a natural ability to cast an aura of darkness (via #monster (command)) for 10 energy points, as long as the character isn't stunned, confused or otherwise incapacitated. While Drow can tolerate being in the light, they suffer various penalties while in it: hit points regenerate three times slower, spell power two times slower, and to-hit suffers a −3 penalty across the board. In darkness, Drow receive a ((XL/ 3) + 2) bonus to-hit when using drow weaponry or attacking bare-handed. Drowcraft racial armor and weapons are made of only adamantine (weapons), or adamantine/spider silk (armor).

Depending on the role, Drow start with a pet large spider instead of the typical pet for that role. Drow are the only race that can tame spiders and cave lizards via throwing food at them. They are also the only race that can ride either as steeds. Drow can move through webs effortlessly like spiders are able to.