This week, Dave P. writes to us again with another delightful quandry:
Why are Dark Elfs weakened by the sun?
So glad you asked. Dark Elves, also know as Drow, have a long and complicated history with roleplaying. The name Drow is a variation on Trow, a mischievous creature out of Orkney folklore. The Trow however, bear little resemblance to Dark Elves, except that they both live underground. The Drow first appeared as “Dark Elves” in the early years of Dungeons & Dragons, and were one of Gary Gygax’s truly original creations. Unlike the Dwarves, Elves, Orcs and Halflings, he didn’t have much in the way of preexisting sources to pull from when he created the Drow.
Originally the Drow were an extremely powerful race (particularly the females), and this presented a problem as playable races expanded greatly. Once upon a time, we had very little choice of races to play in D&D, and so it didn’t matter that enemies were more powerful. Eventually people decided this was lame, and they should be able to play whatever race they wanted to, and so Drow stats had to be thought out in greater detail. They lost some of their bonuses and special abilities, and became “dazzled” in sunlight. This isn’t a physical weakness so much as an extreme light sensistivity, mainly used to balance out all the bonuses they receive.
This is of course an explanation from the point of view of game mechanics. However, the real answer lies much deeper, and is an insidious conspiracy I will now unravel for you. People became infatuated with the Drow, especially after an unnamed author created a panzy-ass, misunderstood, “Good” Drow with an unpronounceable name. Suddenly people wanted to play Drow because they were all dark and mysterious. But who were thes people? Why did they need the Drow so desperately? Let’s take a look at what we know about Drow (particularly those that leave the Underdark):
People hate and fear them
They’re super sexy
They hate the sunlight
Sounds an awful lot like vampires to me. Now what do we know about people who like to play Drow?
They love wearing cloaks
They hang out in basements
They read a lot of Anne Rice
They hate the sunlight
Sounds an awful lot like Goths to me.
What we are left with is the inescapable conclusion that Drow are the Goth’s of D&D. Unless you left your D&D campaign to go play some Vampire: The Masquerade, D&D didn’t leave a lot of options open for the kids-in-black. The solution? Take a race that hadn’t existed as a playable race yet, and twist it to suit the needs of the more Emo, Lestat-loving nerds. The Goths infiltrated D&D’s corporate headquarters and demanded a playable race they could relate to; one that felt the deep torment and suffering they felt everyday, and one that was as sexy on the outside, as they all felt on the inside.
The summarize: Dark Elves are effected by sunlight because of Goth kids.
Hope this helps.
The Dungeon Master
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