The Blood of Giants: Half-drow

Giants vary in size from slightly larger than human-sized to mountainously colossal. The further back into antiquity one goes, the more enormous the race of giants are described as being. Those who were not imprisoned beneath the ground, or did not lay down and go to sleep to become part of the countryside, retreated to Færie as the magick of the ancient world faded and the boundaries of the world became pinned in place by the march of the mortal races, as life became more and more dense in manifestation.

The giants were once the smiths of the gods, creatures of a highly magickal heritage. The dvergar, who themselves came to dwell in the mortal world as the dwarfs, were the heirs of the greater part of their magical lore.

The drow (or “trow” or “trowe”), along with the trolls and the ogres their cousins, are the final heirs to the dwindled magical blood of the giants in the mortal world, all related somewhere back in the mists of time. Dey (1991) speculates that the tradition may be based on the Viking invasions of the Northern Isles. She states that the conquest drove the indigenous, dark-haired Picts into hiding and that “many stories exist in Shetland of these strange people, smaller and darker than the tall, blond Vikings who, having been driven off their land into sea caves, emerged at night to steal from the new land owners.

Like the half-elfs, these demi-humans are not truly a race unto themselves.

Origins

One could say that the origins of the half-drow starts with the drow, since they roamed the Mortal World before any other race (that they could see, although the dwarfs were awake and busy in the earth below).

Like the landælf (land or field alfar), the [fresh water] wæterælfen (water alfar) or [saltwater] saeælfen (sea alfar) and the wuduælfen (wood alfar), the drow share some affinities with the natural world, but it must be understood that theirs are shadowy, even dark affinities.

Where the half-elfs are born of the Ljøsalfar (the Light Elfs), the half-drow are born of the Shadows. They tend to favor such environs where they meet water (the element of Spirit), especially where they are considered dangerous, such as vine-draped cypress swamps strung with Spanish Moss, marshes, and upland bogs and fens. Because their tastes in habitat lie closely intertwined, the drow and the trolls in the Mortal World often face off in battles over these dreary stretches of wetland territory, and negotiate with the occasional Jenny Greenteeth or Meg Mucklebones of the dark and dangerous waters, often found in the lands they haunt.

In the Beginning of Days, the borders between the Spheres (Nine Worlds to the Norse) into which all that is Spirit and all that is Flesh were divided were still amorphous, without defined boundaries, each flowing back and forth into one another. Gradually they separated, matter precipitating out of Spirit and the Mind of the All-Father. The world as it is now known was created by the gods in the place where Fire meets Ice, and was adrift between Spirit and the Flesh of the Mortal Coil for untold ages.

The many races of Spirit became accustomed to being able to shift from Spirit to Flesh and back again at will, so thin was the barrier between worlds, mingling freely and largely unknown with those of Flesh. This was simply the way of things. The elfs were one of the first races to descend from the heights of Light in Spirit through the border realms of Spirit that became known as Faerie and cross the Mortal Veil into Flesh.

Fire was brought to heel under the reign of Leo, among the Races of Man in the world of Flesh, the veriest medium by which matter of the world of Flesh was returned to Spirit.

Spirit and Flesh dwelt side by side through the reign of Taurus, under the rule of Bronze, and the Races of Men flourished.

But in the Age of Ares, the power of iron was discovered and did grow, inimical to creatures of Spirit.

The Races of Men prospered and grew so that they overwhelmed the homelands of the creatures of Spirit and set forth in great waves, migrating ever outwards, flooding the world. Bringing with them their iron, and later steel, they gradually pinned the mortal world in place. As time passed, especially as the power of the Light grew and spread to rival the scattered traditions of many gods, of gods almost without number, Spirit and Flesh drew further apart from one another. The majority of the Spirit creatures were not prepared for the harshness that the Mortal Coil took on under the rule of poisonous iron and the relentless march of the faith of the Light.

The threshold between Spirit and Flesh grew more distinct, more sharply defined. It took on characteristics of its own, becoming a border region in its own right lying between them which came to be known as “Færie.”

The peal of the churches’ great bronze bells chased the Spirits away into the incontinent mists, into the gray light of dawn and dusk or into the darkness of Night, all places where Faerie lay hidden. Rules for passing between the worlds made themselves known. Many of the spirits refused to surrender entirely their right and ability to walk in the world of Flesh as well as the spheres of Spirit and made their stand in those borderlands. These spirit folk gradually grew into solitary habits, haunting lonely places on the Mortal World, far from the habitations of human folk. These places were commonly dangerous in some way – sheer cliffs, in or by deep and/or swift waters, marshes and unstable boglands. As time passed, such beings were seen in the Mortal world more and more rarely, and eventually came no more in any numbers even in those remote environs.

This is the age during which all the races of Spirit became sundered. Many retreated into Færie, where they could still pass into the Spirit Spheres and/or the Mortal World of Flesh freely, as desired. Others chose to remain in the hardening Mortal World, refusing to be beaten back and, as a result, completed their descent into matter. The drow withdrew into Faerie.

The dwarfs/dvergar, based on the Norse svartalfar or “Black Elfs,” are the “cousins” of the ljosalfar, but they traditionally have little to do with one another.

English folktales surviving from the early modern period typically portray elfs as small, elusive people with mischievous personalities. They are not evil but might annoy humans or interfere in their affairs, especially if provoked. They are sometimes said to be invisible. In this tradition, elfs became more or less synonymous with the fairies that originated from native British mythology, the Welsh Ellyllon and Y Dynon Bach Têg, for example. For the purposes of the game, these are posited as relatives of the alfar or elfs that retreated to and dwell still in Faerie.

Description

The drow are known as “Gray Men,” and their half-blooded offspring are more or less gray like the fey parent. They are universally described as ugly and can alternate between shy and mischievous in nature. But drow are not ugly. That opinion arises from the fear of the Gray Men. Shy and mischievous, however, they most definitely are. The drow are much different physically from the other dwindled races of giant blood, being much smaller in stature, appearing much the same as a half-elf. They are sometimes mistaken for half-elfs in passing, but when viewed less casually the differences can readily be seen.

Half-drow may have pasty gray complexions and hair colorless as cobwebs that shifts like shadows, and dominantly gray eyes, like the drow parent. If any other color is present in their eyes, it is faded to a shade of gray. Due to the fact that their non-human heritage arises from quintessential creatures of the night, half-drow have a very bad time enduring the sun.

Half-drow are marked by the feral, pointed ears that speak of fey blood, referred to as either more or less “drow” in appearance, like a half-elf. They usually inherit the small, gray-to-dark-colored beady eyes of the drow parent, or are at the very least rather squinty- or shifty-eyed. Like a half-elf they can lean more towards the fey parent or the human in their appearance, depending on the BTY score allotted and the player’s wishes.

Though the giants their forbears had a taste for human(-oid) flesh that runs true in all their dwindled kin, it is NOT so of these half-blooded characters. IF however, any drow half-blood were somehow to taste such flesh or blood (even unknowingly), the magick in their blood would begin to awaken, to begin a transformation in body and spirit to full-blooded drow. The physical transformation to drow, the particular goal of what are called “Kunal Trowe” or “King Drow,” can only be completed through drow folk-magick, however. The character does begin to have a taste for human blood/flesh, BUT this should in NO way be construed as a craving. This transformation is what the elder races such as the elfs fear most from such half-blooded folk.

The average life expectancy for a half-drow is 120 years. Characters with an above average CND can expect a longer life, barring any unforeseen injuries and/or accidents, a shorter span for those with below average CND.

Disposition & Abilities

The drow share many similarities with the trolls of Scandinavian legend. Half-drow tend to follow the sullen, dour and tricksome nature of the drow, that reflect the dreary and treacherous environments they haunt. They traditionally also have a fondness for music. Folktales tell of their habit of kidnapping musicians or luring them to their dens. The perfect opportunity to sow the seed for a Faerie by-blow. The non-human heritage of half-drow is one of creatures tied to the primordial shadows and darkness. Drow are nocturnal creatures; venturing out of their ‘trowie knowes’ (dwellings inside ancient earthen mounds, commonly burial mounds) solely in the evening, they often enter households as the inhabitants sleep.

Nowhere near as hideous as trolls, the drow may actually woo human wives to bear their children or kidnap them to bolster their færie blood and substitute changelings. The mother of the half-drow generally dies in childbed. Those that don’t are kept prisoner after. If the half-drow child does not escape Drowland by the time he attains puberty, his magickal nature and heritage prevail and he becomes a full-blooded drow, bound to remain in the twilight among them. The characters being played as PC’s come from among those who successfully escaped.

Drow are creatures of the evening shadows and the moonlight, and are pinned in place by the sun’s rays and held fast until the sun sets again if they are caught abroad at sunrise.

Lucky for the half-bloods this part of the drow magickal nature is NOT part of their heritage.

‘Possession of supernatural wisdom is still imputed by the natives of Orkney and Zetland Islands, to the people called Drows, who may, in most other respects, be identified with the Caledonian [Scots] fairies.’

Sir Walter Scott

Point of View

Like the drow parent, the half-blood is prone to a rather sour and cynical disposition – not surprising considering they generally get kicked around and scorned for their repugnant heritage throughout their formative years.

They tend either toward the quiet or loud end of the spectrum in general personality, either quiet brooders who sit and think too much, to the point where they end up stewing and seething, or loud and full of brash boasting and swaggering braggadocio with a chip on their shoulders, always trying to prove themselves. The halftrow always seem to favor the quiet end of the spectrum. They are commonly bitter and angry characters, jealous of the lot of everyone else in the world, from the lowly serf to the half-blood elfs, no matter how sad their lives can often be. From the point of view of the half-drow, at least the humans envy the elfin blood and the taste of magick and mystery they get to enjoy.

When the half-drow heritage/blood becomes known, the worst is most commonly expected, and immediately. Torn between their brooding and hostile, truculent and even violent nature and their passionate gregarious human blood, most that live to maturity end up as outcasts (if not actually outlaws), considering the harsh welcome to which they will have been treated from the start. It is not unusual for these half-bloods to grow up hating their drow blood and to have a will to do mayhem to every drow they can find.

It is up to the player to decide how his half-drow character responds to any kindness shown him. It would be best if he at least allow the other PC’s get closer than most just as long as they treat him well.