Elven race living underground in the Underdark. Recently, they invaded and conquered Neverwinter. The party met with their Queen in Neverwinter and she agreed to let them leave with anyone who wanted to come help fight Tiamat, but didn't offer any additional help. When Tiamat was summoned, the drow gave people a small window in which they could leave and then closed the city to all outgoing traffic and most incoming traffic. Since then, the drow have hinted that they have the green dragon mask and might be willing to use it on Venomfang to defend Neverwinter. Rockport negotiated a mutual defense pact with Neverwinter to prevent this. Other than this limited diplomatic contact, however, no one knows what's happening in Neverwinter. The people who left Neverwinter early did so largely because they knew that the drow value the ability to work above everything else and they didn't want to live in a society like that. It wasn't actually implemented, though, so it's uncertain how bad it is (if it's bad at all).
Drow consider "usefulness" as the only metric of worth. The monarchy controls all resources necessary for life, including clothing and housing, and employees almost all drow. Drow are compensated for their work with with ration cards based on how much they work and how useful that work is considered to be. Resources are distributed based on how many ration cards you have. Ration cards may be traded among households or individuals in exchange for luxury items or services. A lot these personal transactions are for functional arts like painting or acting. Because of this, there is a sharp divide between the poor and rich, though the drow divide them into the deceptively rational categories of "skilled" and "unskilled." I call these deceptive because those drow in the "skilled" category tend to be those who have benefited from generations of other "skilled" drow. The drow would say that this is because of genetics, but it is worth noting that to obtain a high-paying, skilled job, drow must get specialized training beyond the general education given to all drow. Getting that training requires passing a rigorous test or obtaining a recommendation letter from an alumnus. The reader may judge for themselves whether a child who has alway had an abundance of food and a well-connected family will have an easier job of getting a skilled job than a child without those things. At the very bottom of drow society are the drow who cannot get a job. This may be because of an injury, illness, or social stigma. Any drow who cannot work is considered "useless" and they will starve if they are not taken into a household. Very few households will take in a drow who can't work.
HouseholdsThe basic unit of drow society is the "household," each led by a woman. If two or more drow want to have a committed relationship, then they will form a household together. Women and men may have multiple sexual partners of both genders and sexuality is not really a defined thing. In a household with multiple women, one woman is considered the Matron of the household (usually the one with the highest status job) and the other members of the household are expected to defer to her decisions. Having many partners in your household is a sign of prosperity. Sometimes, drow will be taken into a household but not expected to have a sexual relationship with any of the other members. These are usually artists who are essentially being sponsored or the equivalent of maids/servants who bring some other value to the household. Consent is crucial in all sexual relationships in drow society and not having sex is seen as unique and perhaps strange, but not shameful. However, being a member of a household means you are in a committed relationship with all the other adult members of the household, whether you are having sex with them or not. Sleeping with partners outside of your household is considered bad form unless you have the Matron's (and ideally all of the household's) permission. Requests to sleep with someone outside of your household can be pretty elaborate and formalized, especially in the upper echelons of society. Permission is usually given pretty freely and it's considered very rude not to share your partner if the partner is willing. Moving from one household to another does not require anyone's permission (except the household you're joining), nor does it require any of the paperwork that something like a divorce would. There is not such thing as dividing assets. Everything is considered property of the Matron unless she has specifically gifted it to you in writing. Lone drow, those not protected by a household, struggle greatly in society. Hiring managers view lone drow with suspicion, assuming that there's something wrong with them. Lone drow tend to get jobs in the lowest forms of labor, such as hard manual labor or brothels.
ChildbearingOnly certain households are permitted to have a child. Food and water is strictly controlled by the monarchy and laced with birth control to prevent unauthorized pregnancies (this is not a secret). When birth allowances are granted, the parents are selected by the Temple after an application, interview, and physical examination. The parents might not be from the same household, but may be from any social or economic strata. Being allowed to have a child is considered one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a woman or man. Pregnant women are given extra resources and special consideration in all areas of life during her pregnancy. However, it is also a risky path to take. If the man fails to get the woman pregnant, he is at risk of being kicked out of his household and shunned in society. If the woman has a miscarriage or the child has a birth defect, then the woman will be socially ostracized and her household members might leave her.
Child RearingRegardless, the child will go with the mother and fathers are almost never given parental rights. In cases of abuse where a child is removed from the mother's household, the father's household will have first right of refusal to take the child in, but the decision is up to the Matron of the household. If the Matron agrees to take the child in, that child will stay with the Matron even if the father leaves the household. Placement of children is decided entirely by the Temple. A Matron can ask the Temple to give the child to another household, but the Temple might not agree. Abusing a child is considered a sin as well as a crime, but the definition of abuse is pretty narrow. Drow children are expected to be strong, independent, and capable from a very young age, so it is not uncommon for households to use corporal punishment for transgressions. Withholding food or punishing physical training may be used as well. Girls are treated more harshly in this respect than boys. Bullying is also fairly common in school, but the bullies tend to be the children who we might call "teacher's pets" or "nerds." Those who struggle in school or don't pay attention are considered worthy of shaming and, in extreme cases, may lower the social status of the entire household.
Geographic Origin and Distribution
For most of the modern age, drow have lived entirely in the Underdark . This is a sprawling underground settlement that us "sunlighters" have only heard described second-hand.
Drow don't have a higher natural intelligence than any other race, but they do have a mandatory educational system for all children from ages 5-20. Thus, the average drow is likely to have more formal education than the average human peasant. This lends itself to a higher number of magic users in drow society as even the base curriculum teaches some magical spells.
Civilization and Culture
Drow don't have last names and certainly don't take the last names of their parents. Instead, a household is named for its Matron and a drow will identify which house they belong to by adding "ser" or "sera" to the end of their name and then the name of their Matron. For instance, if a female drow is named Cherruca and her Matron is named Chosami, she would be called Cherruca sera Chosami. If Cherruca was a man, he would be called Cherruca ser Chosami. Chosami, as the matron of her own household, would be called Chosami seramin. However, this convention is mostly used in writing, such as legal documents, historical accounts, or novels. In person, drow rarely have to tell someone what house they belong to as each house has a symbol that members of that house wear visibly somewhere on their bodies. Crests are seen as a more reliable method of determining someone's household than hearing the Matron's name. This is because it is not infrequent to have a Matron change while the rest of the household largely stays the same. Household crests, on the other hand, are registered with the government, so they can only be changed in certain small, predictable ways that show changes in Matron, changes in size, and changes in prestige.
Drow began their existence as a strict theocracy first ruled by Lloth herself and then ruled by the Lloth Temple with a Monarchy set up later to handle certain aspects of civil society that the Temple found too burdensome. Though the Monarchy has grown a lot in influence and power since the early days of the drow, the Temple is still a hugely influential power in the Underdark and controls much of drow society, including the education system.
Drow value strength in their women, so muscles are considered especially attractive. Women are discouraged from cutting their hair, so long hair is considered a more desirable trait. For men, drow prefer them to be more slender and delicate, and long hair is considered unattractive. Generally, there is a strict separation in fashion and beauty ideals between men and women. The one exception to this is that violet eyes are rare among the drow, but considered very beautiful in both sexes. Some drow will even use magic to makes their eyes violet.
Women are expected to provide for their families and increase their family's standing by working in a high level job. Men are considered eye candy, mostly useful for handling low level or household jobs and pleasuring or impregnating women. The clothing expectations are more intricate for men and they're expected to attract a successful woman who will take him into her household since they cannot head a household themselves.
In courtship between same sex partners, the person with the higher social standing (based on the level of their job) take the initiative and are expected to do the majority of the wooing. Women typically take the initiative in courtship of men regardless of relative societal standing. Formal courtship to get a person to leave their current household and join yours really only requires wooing the person you want. Drow don't need their household's permission to leave and it is considered extremely cruel and, depending on the circumstances, possibly criminal to prevent someone from leaving your household or punish them for doing so. If a drow leaves a household and it is clear that the Matron did not give permission, other drow tend to assume that there is something wrong with that household. Since that is the case, however, it is considered very rude to take a partner without giving the Matron a chance to formally give permission and part of seeking permission usually involves proving to the Matron that you will take good care of their former partner. In contrast to leaving a household permanently, it is generally considered a major betrayal for a drow to have a sexual or romantic relationship with someone outside the household without at least getting the Matron's permission. Households often contain many different relationship configurations among the household members, so drow have certain standard assumptions about what the "rules" of those relationships are. One of those assumptions is that drow can have any type of relationship with anyone within the household. But if they want to become romantically or sexually involved with someone outside the household (i.e. someone who is not helping to support that person), they should get permission from their other partner(s). Ideally, everyone in a relationship with that person should be OK with the outside relationship, but at the very least, the Matron should give permission.
1Not following this rule can be a basis for a Matron or other household members to legally take back gifts they had given the offending drow. Inter-household feuds have arisen over such behavior as well. Indeed, this rule is so deeply ingrained into drow manners that it is one of the few rules that applies equally to Matrons and the members under them. It could even be considered more strict for Matrons since the household must essentially take a vote on whether she can have sex outside of the household.2 Because of this, requests for casual sex are often far more elaborate and impressive than the equivalent of a marriage proposal.
Ideally, a drow is expected to support the household. Usually, this means earning ration cards. But if a member does not earn ration cards, then they must provide value to the household in another way, whether that be some artistic craft, caring for any children in the house, or managing the house itself. Occasionally, a particularly beautiful drow will do nothing but care for their appearance in order to provide the household with aesthetic enjoyment. Matrons arguably have the most pressure put on them as far as responsibility goes because they are ultimately in charge of both providing and managing the household's assets. All ration cards earned by anyone in the household are considered the Matron's property. She has the final say in how those cards are spent and how the resources gained are distributed among the members. The Matron is also expected to be the highest earner with the highest status job. If she loses that position, she may be supplanted as Matron. Those are the material responsibilities, but the Matron is also responsible for the emotional and physical well-being of her partners. She settles disputes, arranges care when a member falls ill, and provides comfortable housing for everyone. A house full of strife or illness is considered a failure on the part of the Matron.
Average Technological Level
Drow are highly skilled in magic and mining techniques, but they lag behind the surface world in farming techniques, carpentry, and certain areas of scholarship that have been restricted by the Lolth Temple. Namely, the Lolth Temple strictly controls how deeply drow can study the workings of the Celestial Realm and the gods. Drow who have left the Underdark are surprised to learn that gods are only immortal when they create a race and that none of them are all-knowing. It is uncertain whether the Temple is aware of these facts or not.
Major Language Groups and Dialects
Most drow are taught common alongside elvish, which is a rather surprising fact considering how little contact the drow have with the surface. However, it makes more sense when one considers that the difficulty of learning a new language as an adult and the number of skilled jobs that would require knowing common.
Common Dress Code
Drow favor rather outfits that we would consider skimpy, but isn't particularly surprising considering how open the drow are about their sexuality and bodies. Gems are common in the Underdark, so almost all drow wear at least one piece of gemstone jewelry
In the Age of Divine Intervention, drow were created by the spider goddess Lolth. She was one of the most hands-on goddesses, even for the time, and immediately isolated her creations underground, where they built what is now the Underdark. In addition, Lloth implemented a strict breeding program where she attempted to "enhance" the perfection of her race by breeding with the drow herself to create demigods that would then have more children. In between Lloth's visits to the Material Realm, her chosen priestesses would carefully select men who met a particular set of criteria. Those men would be treated with the utmost care and pampered until Lloth was summoned. At that point, Lloth would select her favorite from among the bunch and mate with him, a process that inevitably led to the man's death. Those men who were not chosen would mate with any female demigod who was at a fertile age and not already pregnant. Male demigods would mate with priestesses selected for that honor by Lolth herself. Demigods were not permitted to mate with each other or to select their own partners unless they were selecting a same-sex partner. The next time Lloth came back, she would bring several new demigods with her and the process would start over again. This should have created a horribly inbred race as the half-demigods began breeding with each other, but apparently having the same divine grandmother does not have the same effect as if the common ancestor was mortal. Nevertheless, though the drow race is known to be very skilled in a number of areas, they did not develop any inherent abilities that were greater than any other race. Indeed, some of the ways they have structured their society indicate a unenlightened mind that lags behind many other races. Unsurprisingly, eugenics is bad, cruel, and also pointless. When the planar boundary no longer allowed Lloth to enter the Material Realm, the drow had no choice but to allow the dilution of their demigod blood. Nevertheless, the space and resource constraints of the Underdark combined with eugenics as a religious tenent, meant that the strict breeding control continues to this day. Likewise, the drow's isolation underground means that most of the drow's history is known only to them. The information we do have is from drow who left the Underdark and told their stories.
Footnotes1 Drow do recognize that some relationships and households may have explicitly agreed to a different set of "rules" than the standard. Whatever the household involved has agreed to controls over the "traditional" arrangement. However, if this is the case, the Matron usually talks about this nonstandard rule as a "feature" of her household both in order to prevent confusion about what her household members can do and so that any potential new members know what they would be agreeing. 2 This requirement is less harsh when you know that Matrons have final say on who becomes a member of the household. Therefore, if a Matron wants to have a relationship outside their household, they could bring that person into the household much more easily than a non-Matron. Of course, Matrons often have to consider 1) whether they can reasonable support a new member and 2) whether the new member would create any interpersonal conflicts within the household. These considerations are complicated by bringing in a new member without at least a general consensus of household members.
Children get physical training as part of their mandatory education curriculum. After 20, military service is mandatory for all women. Queen Imalda expanded mandatory military service to include men as part of her gender equality reforms. Thus, most drow are very fit.