Don’t Use Drow Elves Use This D&D Monster Instead

D&D Wizards and Their Words
D&D Ideas -- Death

In this series we pick popular D&D monsters and find a replacement monster. In this case we look at the drow and dark elves. Nerdarchist Ted and I each give a pick for a drow alternative. One of us delve back into the underdark while the looks a bit further away. Below you’ll find the video as well as the transcription.

Don’t Use Drow Elves Use This D&D Monster Instead Video

Don’t Use Drow Elves Use This D&D Monster Instead Video Transcription

Dave: “You know Ted, Drow are just so overrated.”

Ted: “Why do you say that?”

Dave: “They are just super goth and mega emo.”

Ted: “They’re not all that bad. You’ve got, you know, Drizz’t. You’ve got Liriel . You’ve got your Jarlaxle.”

Dave: “Serious. You think a few outliers is going to be a saving grace for the whole entire species.”

Ted: “Well what do you think we should do about it.”

Dave: “ Well, Ted, let’s discuss. Don’t use drow. Use this monster in fifth edition Dungeons and dragons instead. Welcome to Nerdarchy for nerds by nerds. I’m Nerdarchist Dave and as always I’m hanging out with this nerd.”

Ted: “Nerdarchist Ted.”

Dave: “Nerdarchy is a place for news, views, and homebrews for fifth edition Dungeons and dragons. Hey, sometimes we’ve been talking about other role playing games.”

Ted: “So if you don’t want to miss a single video, don’t forget to crit hit that subscribe button and attune to that notification bell.”

Dave: “All right, so we’re talking about drow and what to replace them with, but before we can really do that I think we need to discuss what the drow are and what kind of roles they fill in the game.”Githyanki

Ted: “Absolutely. So drow are and underdark race, they are typically, you know, chaotic in their actions and you know, while they’ve got their own societal structure, generally you’re going to see them as, you know, raiders on the small or large scale.”

Dave: “Yeah. They really do represent this as a role. They represent this threat from some other place, right The underdark is alien enough to really almost be like another world, especially the deeper you get because you have the, yeah, the layer that’s like, I want to say it’s between the underdark and the surface world isn’t like that. Like people from, you know, the surface world to be like, I’m going into the underdark and now I’m the dark people. Like you haven’t even touched the underdark yet.”

Ted: “See You, you’ve got, you’ve got the underground where you’re dwarves live, your miners live, your gnomes, you know, have the capacity to go. You’re rock gnomes. Uh, but it’s the deeper layers of the underground that are the underdark. You know, where things are alien. You have monsters that the surface world, you know, just have no idea about. You have alien mindsets of aboleth, mind flyers, you know, things that are just crazy that everybody does, doesn’t like the sun. We’re just going to live down here in peace.”

Dave: “The analogy would be like I went whitewater rafting and someone that really does white water rafting, it would be like, no, you took a raft down the river that wasn’t white water rafting. They’re completely do different things. So with that, the drow also the neutral evil by alignment, but like you said, there’s a lot of chaotic elements it to their society that’s been kind of written into the lore because they follow the Demon Queen Lolth. Uh, and also they range in cr from a 1/4 to 20 so what that really tells me is a lot has been written about the drow because there’s 13 different, basically a sub monsters under the different categories of monsters that you can use. So you have tons of different flavors of drow.”

Ted: “and that’s all before you take the NPC options that are in the back of the monster manual and just slapped drow onto it. So you could go even further.”

Dave: “So I think what we’re looking for here is if we’re going to replace the drow, we need raiders from some other place, some foreign place, some alien place to insert instead. So you came up with, with the set, I came up with a set and we’re going to work from there. You want to go first? Do you want me to go first?”

Ted: “So I, I kind of felt like I went the easy route, although I do like your option as well. Uh, because we discussed this off camera of course. If you’re going to replace drow, something from the underdark, something that typically has magical powers that has the ability to see better than you do while you’re done in the underdark. I’m going to go with duergar . So I, I’ve pulled up D&D Beyond and there are 13 options from a range of challenge rating one up the challenge rating 12 that fall under Duergar.”

Dave: “ Wait a minute, ted, did you say D&D Beyond?”

Ted: “I did say D&D Beyond.”

Dave: “D&D Beyond is our sponsor.”

Ted: “Well then how about we talk about it.”

Dave: “Absolutely. As always, we love D&D Beyond. They’re the sponsor for this video and many other videos on the channel. They make our life so much easier as content creators, but not only that, as Gamers, we use them to create characters, make new monsters, new magic items, new spells, write our campaigns. And now we love to do our campaigns digitally and D&D Beyond just makes it so easy.”

Ted: “And you know, you don’t have to get the subscription service, although we highly recommend, you know, getting everything that that’s there because you just have it all in one one place. You don’t have to look through all the books, but there’s loads of free content over on D&D Beyond. You got the articles, you got to videos, and if that’s not enough, all of the SRD content is there for anyone who wants to access it for free.”

Dave: “Absolutely. Hey and even Sam Regal and Liam and Brian are running for president for D&D Beyond. I don’t know if you support critical role. You had support D&D Beyond.”

Ted: “I don’t think it’s an official election. I don’t think they’re going to oust anybody. But you know,”

Dave: “Sam Regal, even he even had endorsements. So it seems pretty official to me.”

Ted: “If you’re on board, uh, feel free to, you know, Hashtag you know, vote Sam or Hashtag, you know, Vote Liam down in the comments. Just, you know, let us know what’s, what side you’re on.”

Dave: “As always, there will be a link down in description to D&D Beyond. Go check them out. You know, there’s all the free content, the paid content, there’s all kinds of stuff over there. Go take a look.”

Ted: “Alright, so as I was saying, duergar , we have lots of options. You know, you’ve got a duergar despot, uh, you’ve got a deformed duergar, you know, a lot, lots of, you know, alchemists, dark half, hammerer. Some of these things that are even hard, hard to pronounce. Mind master, screamers, sole blade, lots of fun stuff. Actually it’s, it’s a 1/2 all the way up to challenge 12 so you can get some, some fun stuff going on with, with duergar. You know, they are, you know, slavers raiders that they are emotionless. So you’ve got another, you know, deviation from that drow. If you want to just be like, you know, look, there’s no emotion in the battle. How crazy is it to just see them, you know, this wave of, of enemies coming forward, you know, no shouting, no screaming, no love of battle going on. They’re just here to kill you. I think. I think it could have a lot of fun.”

Dave: “It’s just a job that they need to get done. Absolutely. You know, you’re looking in their eyes and they look dead, like looking into the eyes of a shark. So how many different options was that Ted?”

Ted: “So it was 13 options. Um, you know, your strongest too. There’s one, one challenge six, which is your duergar warlord and a challenge 12 which is your duergar des pot from Mordenkainen’s Tome of Foes and you’ve got just like I said with the drow, you’ve got the option of taking the awesome, magical, you know, presence that is a duergar and applying them to any of the NPCs that are in the back of the book. Whether you want, you know, the, the veterans that are a challenge 3 or you know, it was uh, the archmage , you know, that I think is a challenge. 9, you can have a lot of fun, you know, playing with all of these different options that are there. You add in the enlarge the invisibility, you know, the superior dark vision and you are making those, those adversaries that much more challenging by slapping that duergar template onto it.”

Dave: “So one of the things we’d like to do when we do this segment is also talking about how we would use them in a game.”

Ted: “So I think duergar, you know, offer that ultimate raider, you know, capacity. Yeah, the drow can be stealthy, but the duergar can be invisible. They’ve literally have the ability to just be like boop, they’re all gonna, you know, have a signal. They all disappear from sight and they marched around the corner. You could even have them, you know, marching in step and in the caverns of the underdark you don’t necessarily know how sound is traveling. So it might be like, you know, echoing boot stomp Boot stomp. boot stomp, boot stomp. And while you’re trying to pinpoint, you know where they are, they drop their invisibility and you realize that you’ve been surrounded. So they unleash their attacks from melee there. Right there. You don’t have a chance to really respond because you’re already engaged.”

Dave: “Yeah, I mean they dwell in the underdark so they know how sound works and travels. So they might use that to their advantage. They’re not trying to cover the sound of their boots. Tromping where the clank of their metal. Matter of fact, they use it to unnerve their enemies because you hear it but you don’t see it. And with our superior dark vision, they’re going to sight you way before you see them. You know, duergar are the ancient enemies of dwarves. There could be, you can use them in a conflict with, you know, one of the dwarven communities or you could use them as slavers. They’re coming, they’re taking people. It also definitely leaves an avenue where they are very likely to take you alive and not murder you because of the fact that they’re slavers and they want to put you to work or sell you as slaves.”

Ted: “You know, and, and you could, you could wind up changing the whole breadth of the campaign based on the success or failure of that particular encounter.”

Dave: “What about, you know, what about a surprise encounter with duergar your players They’re, they’re taking on a superior force of illithids and their minions. Maybe they’re losing. Out nowhere duergar begin appearing and slaughtering the mind flayers because they have no great love for the illithids because they had enslaved them. They kind of made them what they are today.”

Ted: “That is true.”

Dave: “You know, so the players could be like, oh man were rescued out of these dwarves, have come to save us. And then, then, then after the of the grizzly work of the illithids is done and over with, they turn as one, you know, towards the party. Hey, you know, and now the players have to decide what they’re going to do. Are they going to negotiate? Can they talk their way out of it? Can they fight their way out of it? Can they flee?”

Ted: “I Dunno if, if the, uh, conversations or anything like the uh, negotiations that I tried to have on, on Thursday night. I don’t think so.”

Dave: “Uh, in your mini terrain Uh.”

Ted: “Yeah. In my most recent game I had a, I had a, you know, a loose conversation going and you know, the paladin in the party, he was like they are demon worshipers. They are slavers. I pull out my sword and attack.”

Dave: “Fix that real quick. So, all right. So for my choice, I went with gith specifically the githyanki . Now they do actually share something in common with the duergar . They were also enslaved by the mind flayers and illithid and have no great love for them.”

Ted: “So I mean that’s a common, a common thing with the drow. They’re also, you know, agile in lithe. Uh, so like you’re going to have some of that same physicality to it.”

Dave: “Yeah. To me they kind of look like a disfigured elves anyway. Uh, so we get to get the githyanki warrior, knight, Gish, Kith’ Rak, and supreme commander. We’re going to range from cr 3 to cr 14 so we don’t have a lot of breadth of the way we do with the duergar I would definitely recommend using NPC classes to kind of fill out the roster. If you wanted something different, uh, you would have to back down the githyanki warrior to make it more suitable for a lower level party, which very soon we’re going to get that feature in D&D beyond where we get the slider, I’m going to be able to do it really easy. But think about this. A species, a race that is so badass that you don’t even see them until there are at least a CR 3.”

Ted: “A species, a race that is so bad ass that you don’t even see them until there are at least a CR 3. So we were talking off air about, you know, the, the, the veritable threat of what the githyanki are and that you could honestly put one out against a first level party and before they’ve really got the ability to, you know, interact. It’s mowed down two of them.”

Dave: “Yeah. It most certainly could do that. And even not a first level party. You could use this in a scenario where there are NPCs and you know, gith are popping in because they have the ability to misty step. They have their jump and they can jump like 45 feet. With that spell like ability. They appear in the mist and boom, two sword slashes, two deaths, you know, they do 16 points of damage on average with a hit. The half of that is psychic.”

Ted: “So that’s going to seriously mess up your totem barbarians. Uh, but just the sheer amount of damage of averaging 16 on a hit, that’s enough to take down any first level adventurer and most second.”

Dave: “Now the thing about the githyanki where you know your underdark races come from beneath and that could be terrifying as it is the githyanki . Are going to do it a different way. They may very well just appear in the sky and astral skifts, you know, and they and raining begin raining death from above.”

Ted: “And I think, I think that, you know, you made a phenomenal choice. It doesn’t have the, the, the breadth of the scope of the other races, but the mindset I think really feels, you know, it gets the raider mentality. You’ve got the ability to put in some severe plot threads of okay well what happens, you know, if they come across the silver sword, you know, if they don’t know what it is like that’s a treasured possession by the githyanki . They don’t want that in anyone’s hands, but the githyanki and if an adventurer or gets it without knowing what it is, they’re going to think it’s an amazing weapon because of what they are and what they can do. So like you could have a whole, you know, campaign arc or mini arc just based around, you know, that sword either getting into or getting out of, you know, the player’s hands.”

Dave: “So the gith themselves are ageless because they live on the astral plane and what they do is they set up strongholds on the material plane in order to raise their young. And then once they raised them, they shipped them, you know, back to the astral plane. So this is an opportunity for the players to encounter them and you know, encounter one of our strongholds or they’re raising their young, they probably have some of the most skilled warriors, most fierce and ferocious warriors guarding these places.”

Ted: “The elite”

Dave: “,you know, the elite because this is the, basically the future of the race essentially. So they’re not going to want that tampered with. That’s one way you could encounter them. Uh, another could be, they go out on these hunts and they hunt illithids. They also have a very steep rooted hatred for that species. And they want to take illithid heads. And you could do the same thing. You know, as we described to duergar these guys show up and start slaughtering them. But you know, they’re not particularly nice guys to begin with, so they’re probably going to turn on you or maybe they show up after the fight and you’ve taken out the illithids they’ve been tracking. So now they’re kind of pissed off and they want to vent on somebody.”

Ted: “That was our quarry.”

Dave: “Uh, yeah, you’ve placed yourself between the, our quarry in us who you are now the hunted. So that could definitely be a way to go. They could find or capture and astral skiff and the uh, the gith come looking for it. So there is a lot of ways to kind of insert these. This species is race into your game and there’s a lot of ways the foreshadowing so that your players could kind of have an idea what they’re, what they’re dealing with, you know, they could find an old stronghold that’s been, that’s been destroyed. Or maybe it’s not that old, it’s just, it’s a recent attack and the gith reinforcements show up as the players are discovering.”

Ted: “It’s like, what did you do?”

Dave: “You’ve got some explaining to do for sure. So there’s a ton of ways you could work the Gith into your game.”

Ted: “I think, you know, there’s, you know, my brain is just littered with, you know, campaign seeds of okay, you know, well, you know, the abandoned strongholds, captured stronghold, you know, the guards aren’t there and there’s a whole bunch of babies, maybe they’re not familiar with the race and they find a bunch of young that needed to be taken care of. How do they react? What do they do? How does the, the players react when the guards do come back? You know, perhaps there was a githzeria raid, you know, incoming and uh, the, the githyanki went out and dealt with them and have come back to find that there’s other people in with their young, you know, all kinds of craziness. You know, it can happen there, you know, they could, if you’re talking about a higher level game, you know, what if they defeated a, um, a raiding party and the astral skiff is there, does the party claim it as a prize and to come up with stats for it and let them use it or does it a bigger force come to be like, no, you can’t have that.”

Dave: “Well, and is a good point too because the gith, you know, kind of divided into two, two different separate subspecies, right Sub Races githyanki, githzeria . And that’s another angle there also bitter enemies. So any instead of inserting the illithids you could use githzeria . I love the idea of finding a young unattended and, and maybe they don’t know what they are and they start taking care of them. Maybe they get attached, but then maybe they learn what they are and then, and then it creates a dilemma. Like what do you do these, these are going to grow up to be horrible, horrible individuals most likely. Or is it your nurture versus nature You have to decide, you have to make these hard moral quandaries. But also if the gith find out that you have them, they’re going to want to take them from you. So maybe the githzeria that sometimes they don’t seem quite as bad as it githyanki. Maybe they come and try and take them from you because they want to raise them as githzeria and use them as double agents or something. So you can do all kinds of crazy things with the espionage, you know, between the two there from a sub races of gith”

Ted: “that that’s, you know, I, it, it’s just, you know, it keeps feeding into itself. It was just some, uh, great ideas. But I guess the question is, you know, what, you know, what do you think of these ideas Did we spur any, uh, idea threads of, of yours Uh, you know, what would you use to replace drow? A great place to, to talk about that. And that’s down in the comments below while you’re down there. Don’t forget to like share and subscribe.”

Dave: “Oh, on your way down to the comments. Check out that link to D&D Beyond and go check out all the great content over there.”

Ted: “Until next time.”

Both: “Stay nerdy!”

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My name is Dave Friant I've been gaming off and on for over 27 years. But here is the thing it's always been a part of my life I've kept secret and hidden away. I've always been ashamed of the stigma that gaming and my other nerdy and geeky pursuits summon forth. Recently I decided screw it! This is who I am the world be damned. From now on I'm gonna be a geek, nerd, or however folks want to judge me and just enjoy life. Currently one of my greatest joys is introducing my 13 yr old son to table top RPG's.

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