Drow

The drow carve a deadly existence out of the now-ruined continent of Xen’drik. The dark-
skinned elves, products of the giants’ experiments in fusing the essence of some of their elven slaves
with the power of Khyber herself, believe it is they, not the rebel elves who fled to Aerenal, who truly
preserve the dignity and valor of the elf race. Allied with monstrous scorpions, the drow battle the
fallen race of giants over the cyclopean ruins of the mysterious continent. As the most civilized
inhabitants of ruined Xen’drik, the drow are the heirs to both the lingering might of lost giant nations
and the ancient elven spellcraft once learned at the feet of the giants’ own draconic tutors.
The homeland of the drow is a contradiction of sorts—an ancient ruin that nonetheless holds
magical treasures of almost unimaginable might. As Siberys shards fall on the broken landscapes and
jungles, explorers from other continents brave sahuagin-filled waters to crowd the port city of
Stormreach. The jungles of Xen’drik are a harsh and unforgiving land; the drow dwell in the
underground realm of Khyber as often as they haunt the jungle-cloaked ruins of aboveground
Xen’drik. Covered by thick rain forests and the ruined cities of the ancient giant kingdoms, the
continent houses too many dangers for the drow to be able to establish large and stable cities such as
those on Khorvaire. The largest drow settlements, those of the Umbragen, are underground. Nomadic
drow settlements are small, temporary affairs. Occasionally a relatively large and powerful tribe
might stay for some time in the ruins of a giant city, but such occupations are shortlived. The drow
stay only long enough to plunder what artifacts they can. Nomadic drow have few of the political
struggles and rivalries that the other races have. Family groups are simply too small and scattered to
have anything other than sporadic contact. This intermittent contact is fraught with peril, though, as
larger and more powerful family groups seek to absorb smaller groups of drow—sometimes
violently.
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The most common group of drow on Eberron differ from those in other D&D worlds in that
they worship a scorpion-god named Vulkoor instead of the spider-goddess Lolth. Vulkoor is often
envisioned as a giant scorpion or as a hybrid with the head, arms, and upper torso of a strong male
drow and the lower body of a scorpion. Many drow believe that Vulkoor and the Mockery (one of the
group of evil deities known as the Dark Six) are one and the same. The drow also revere scorpions,
considering other arachnids to be lesser servitors of Vulkoor. Xen’drik drow ritually scar themselves
using scorpion venom, leaving white tattoos on their black skin and have relatively low levels of
technology. For instance, metal armor is almost unknown among the tribes, though they do seem to
have some knowledge of basic metallurgy when forging weapons, particularly the famed drow long
knife. Most Vulkoori drow (as the nomadic tribes are known to scholars) have little interaction with
members of other races; they fight the giants and monsters that roam their savage continent, and even
avoid other drow family groups when possible. Drow are very suspicious of outsiders, and the few
who interact with other races do so through the port of Stormreach. When dealing with outsiders,
drow reveal nothing of themselves or their family groups whenever possible, always attempting to
use the outsiders for their own ends without exposing the secrets of Xen’drik. For this reason,
members of other races often find the drow to be a suspicious and sinister group.
Not all drow are Vulkoori tribal savages. The Sulatar have clung to traditions of magic dating
back to the Age of Giants— specifically, an ancient form of elemental binding. The Sulatar
(“firebinders” in the Giant language) are masters of fire in all its forms. Their champions wear
burning armor and bind elementals to their admantine blades, while Sulatar master crafters create
magic items that even the gnomes of Zilargo have yet to perfect. The firebinders remained loyal to
the giants throughout the Elven Uprising and, even after forty thousand years, have held to the
teachings of their ancient masters. The Sulatar believe that their devotion will eventually grant them
access to a promised land of fire, the Land of the Promise, where they will gain immortality and vast
power and lead an army that will sweep across the world. Scholars speculate that the promised land is
the elemental realm of Fernia, but so far the legends remain just that.
Few explorers have encountered the Sulatar, for the firebinders have little interest in other
cultures. To the Sulatar, all will fall when the Gates of the Promise open; until then, they have no
need to deal with inferior creatures. In addition to this isolationist attitude, the Sulatar have long
fought the Vulkoori, and this has kept their population in check. The firebinders consider the
scorpion-worshiping tribes to be savages and traitors, while the children of Vulkoor hate the Sulatar
for their continuing loyalty to the giants. It is unknown how many Sulatar live in Xen’drik—it might
be that only a single enclave of Sulatar exists—the legendary Obsidian City, deep in the Xen’drik
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jungles. Alternatively, hundreds of thousands of firebinders might inhabit the south of the
continent—an army that could pose a deadly threat to Stormreach and to Khorvaire if the Sulatar
chose to emerge from hiding. The firebinders tattoo patterns of flames across their skin, believing that
these grant mystical protection. Although the tattoos do not actually confer any benefit, a
combination of mystical heritage and long training allows individual Sulatar to exercise great control
over bound fire elementals—even if they have no arcane training.
In contrast to the other drow, when doom fell upon Xen’drik, the ancestors of the Umbragen
(“shadow elves” in Elven) fled into the depths of the earth. The underworld was filled with its own
terrors, but nothing so deadly as the conflict between the dragons and giants. After a long and
dangerous journey, these drow refugees settled deep below the region known as the Ring of Storms,
the legendary home of the elven Qabalrin who had once lived alongside these drow in their city of
Qalatesh. In their struggle for survival, the dark elves uncovered the ancient lore of these elven
necromancers and from this Qabalrin knowledge gained the ability to access a dark well of mystical
energy that many believed was drawn from the Shadow—a force they named the Umbra. Over the
course of generations, the dark elves performed terrible arcane rituals that bound body and soul to the
Umbra, blending this shadowy force with dark elven flesh. For thousands of years the Umbragen held
their own in the depths of Khyber, defending their realm against all manner of monsters. Then in 997
YK, the balance of power changed. A daelkyr called Belashyrra, the Lord of Eyes, stirred in the dark,
and an army of beholders, mind flayers, and other aberrations rose from the shadows. The doom of
the Umbragen was at hand. Today the citadels of the Umbragen remain under siege, and the dark
elves are losing the battle. They have dispatched forces to the surface in search of anything that could
be used as a weapon against the armies of Khyber.
The Umbragen are essentially standard Eberron drow with a few minor modifications; see
Dragon Magazine 330 (April 2005) for a full exploration of the race. Umbragen society is a ruthless
and predatory one, not evil in itself but warped over the millennia by the dangers of their lives in
Khyber and the now-constant war against the Lord of Eyes. Their civilization is divided along a
major fault line between two ruling councils, the Council of War and the Vault of Shadows, and the
Umbragen are ruled by a king who sits on both. Those who follow the path of war battle on the front
lines while the arcane students of the Vault search for ways to increase the mystical powers of the
race. Rank is earned through conflict and any shadow elf leader—even the king—can be challenged
by a direct subordinate. These so-called ascendancy duels include many different forms of challenge,
as there is more to being a leader than sheer skill at arms. While such a policy might produce a very
chaotic society, in truth such challenges are very rare. Rank is not a matter of ego for the
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Umbragen—it is always a question of who can best assure the race’s survival as a whole and so most
leaders are revered and highly valued by their people. Umbragen have jet black skin, white or pale
hair and slender elven builds like all drow. At a distance shadow elves are indistinguishable from the
other drow, but up close, a few distinctive features are noticeable. The eyes of an Umbragen elf are
pure black, with no iris or white, while the skin of a shadow elf has an oily gleam, almost as if liquid
shadow were flowing across their skin. The Umbragen believe that the Umbra slowly devours the
soul of everything it touches, including the Umbragen themselves. Those who are spiritually closest
to the Umbra, like most Umbragen wizards, sorcerers, clerics and warlocks, become colder and more
ruthless as their dark powers grow. To the Umbragen, the exchange of power for their souls is a fair
one and their people respect the necessity of this sacrifice if the shadow elves are to survive. An
outside observer might come to the conclusion that these elves worship the Dark Six deity known as
the Shadow, which is true in a sense, though the Unbragen do not think in those terms about the
Umbra. The Umbragen are more technologically advanced than their fellow Vulkoori drow
counterparts on the surface of Xen’Drik, and like the Sulatar make use of metal arms and armor,
though their martial classes often prefer to use weapons made of pure, shadowy arcane force drawn
from the Umbra and shaped by their own wills. The shadow elves also tattoo their skin with scorpion
venom, but prefer strange, arcane, glyph-like patterns across their limbs, torso and faces.

Drow

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