Cruel and cunning, drow are a dark reflection of the elven race. Also called dark elves, they dwell deep underground in elaborate cities shaped from the rock of cyclopean caverns. drow seldom make themselves known to surface folk, preferring to remain legends while advancing their sinister agendas through proxies and agents. drow have no love for anyone but themselves, and are adept at manipulating other creatures. While they are not born evil, malignancy is deep-rooted in their culture and society, and nonconformists rarely survive for long. Some stories tell that given the right circumstances, a particularly hateful elf might turn into a drow, though such a transformation would require a truly heinous individual.
Menzoberranzan, the City of Spiders, is an underground city-state in the world of the Forgotten Realms. It is located in the Upper Northdark, about two miles below the Surbrin Vale, between the Moonwood and the Frost Hills. The city has 20,000 drow inhabitants and hundreds of thousands of humanoid slaves that range from a variety of creatures such as goblins, kobolds, bugbears, duergar, svirfnebli, orcs, ogres, minotaurs, and giants, as well as herds of rothé kept as livestock. The city trades poisons, mushrooms, riding lizards, spell scrolls, wine, and water. The worship of Lolth is prevalent, and the city has the clerical academy Arach-Tinilith, a spider-shaped building where priestesses are trained. One of the branches of the city’s triune academies of Tier Breche, Arach-Tinilith is neighbored by the warrior school Melee-Magthere, and Sorcere tower where arcane spellcasters are sent to study. These academies are the quarters of some of the most powerful clerics, fighters and wizards, respectively, and the title of master of an academy is coveted, since being the master of Sorcere or Melee-Magthere is as high as the power ladder goes for some houseless drow or even noble males.
The Underdark is a vast subterranean realm inhabited by drow, mindflayers, aboleth, and other strange, sinister creatures. It is a place where few humans go and from where even fewer return. The Underdark is a strange, alien setting, entirely underground. Bizarre creatures and ancient races populate it, nearly all of whom are of hostile nature. The Underdark is extremely dangerous, especially to characters that are not native to it. There are the usual dangers associated with caverns: claustrophobia, occasional poor air circulation, and getting lost. Cave floor and ceiling collapses are also a hazard. There is no light except for occasional patches of phosphorescent fungus; most Underdark inhabitants either have highly developed senses other than sight or have developed Darkvision. Food can be extremely difficult to find, and much of the natural vegetation is poisonous. In addition, potable water is seldom easy to locate in this setting. The Underdark is permeated with a magical energy the Drow call faerzress, which is used as a source of energy by the native plant life but which interferes with scrying and teleportation spells. It is also rumored to make drow adamantite (an alloy derived from adamantine) more potent.