Vault of the Drow
Guidelines for PC Creation
Strong choices for character race include drow (elf), duergar (dwarf), svirfneblin (gnome), half-orc, tiefling, half-elf, goblin, orc, hobgoblin, and kobold. It is possible—even encouraged—to play a member of a “surface-race” (human, dwarf, gnome, or halfling) though the character will likely have been (or still be) a slave, pressed into military service for the Vault, or some combination of the above.
All Background options are available, as long as they are framed in the context of the Underdark. Acolytes from the various temples of Lolth are all fine choices, and others might come from the foreign temples found on the Street of Lies in Yethedrin. Nobles and Guild Artisans might occupy higher rank due to association with the various drow Houses. Charlatans, Criminals, and Urchins are found among all races, and are prevalent in the Ghetto of Foreigners of Yethendrin. Folk Heroes are a rarity among the drow culture, but more common among the other races. Entertainers of all races might perform for common folk or nobles, and the variant Gladiator is a particularly prestigious one in the Vault. Soldiers and Sailors have likely gained citizenship if they served Yethendrin, or they might hail from other settlements. Outlanders wander the wild fringes of the Underdark, finding employ as guides, hunters, or trappers, or living entirely savage lifestyles. Hermits and Sages are rare choices in the violent culture of the Vault, but any number of contemplative types might have found solitude preferable, received a spiritual calling, or joined an academic society like the Antisolar Institute.
A note on alignment: Not surprisingly, there are likely to be a fair number of Evil—or at least antiheroic—characters in a campaign of this nature. When creating your character, however, remember that “Evil” does not equal “stupid” or “suicidal”. Player characters are likely to be quite low on the totem pole of a culture that responds with violence and cruelty on a regular basis—your fellow adventurers are among the only people you can rely on with any certainty, and betraying them might leave you out in the cold entirely in a realm without mercy. It’s more than possible to play avaricious, ambitious characters who unite together to accomplish their goals, despite their personal predilections. Lex Luthor runs a multinational corporation. Despots don’t achieve power shooting everyone who ever makes a mistake. When choosing your alignment and your Characteristics (Personality Trait, Bond, Ideal, and Flaw) consider building in solid hooks which make sense as to why you’re pursuing your goals alongside other characters, and how you can link more closely to them.
All classes are open, and several new options exist for some of them. A brief summary of suggested options are here. Special options from WotC online will be linked here.
- Barbarian: Barbarians are not uncommon among certain Underdark races (particularly duergar and orcs). Those who choose the Path of the Totem Warrior may select other appropriate animals as their totems, such as Cave Bear, Bat, Panther, or another suitable choice. Variant Zealot or Ancestral Guardian paths are options, as well.
- Bard: Drow appreciate music and performance as much as any other elven race, though their art is often suffused with themes of cruelty and suffering. Svirfneblin have a draw towards the bardic tradition, and all Colleges are well-represented. Rarely will a duergar become a bard—though the ones that do focus on the droning music of their people. Orcs and half-orcs also have a bardic tradition, singing songs of war and slaughter. The variant Colleges of Glamour and Whispers are also options.
- Cleric: Clerics of Underdark races align themselves to the gods of their species, either Lolth or other members of the Dark Seledrine (the drow pantheon), or similar deities. See the sidebar for a list of suggested gods and their associated Domains. Light is a particularly rare Domain choice, often associated with drow heresy or hated surface-world deities.
- Druid: The Underdark is a living place like any other, and druids find their homes in the fungal forests, lightless waters, and wild caverns. Circle of the Land (Underdark) is a ready-made choice for such druids, but Coast, Swamp, and Mountain are all fine choices. Daylight sensitivity does not preclude some druids from choosing the Circle of the Moon.
- Fighter: There are no shortage of fighters found among Underdark races, where life is a constant struggle and war looms eternally on the horizon. Close Quarters Shooter and Tunnel Fighter are available as Fighting Style choices, as is Mariner for those who served as naval fighters.
- Monk: Monks are found more commonly among duergar, but drow followers are not unheard of, especially among certain assassin sects.
- Paladin: It is rare to find a member of the drow who take up the path of the paladin, but the Oath of Vengeance is most commonly found among their kind. Some svirfneblin have been known to accept the Oath of the Ancients.
- Ranger: Rangers are common among drow, particularly male drow who seek to earn prestige as scouts and border patrols for the Vault. The Deep Stalker variant is available for all characters. Players who wish to try out the Revised Ranger supplement may use those rules, complete with its own version of the Deep Stalker.
- Rogue: Rogue is a popular choice for many of the subtle Underdark races, and all Archetypes are common. The Swashbuckler Archetype is also available.
- Sorcerer: The magic-suffused realm of the Underdark spawns sorcerers among all of the races present. While Wild Magic is a more plentiful Origin than a Draconic Bloodline (save perhaps among kobolds), Shadow is also available as an Origin choice.
- Warlock: The priestesses of Lolth regard warlocks with a certain amount of suspicion, wary of those entities that might suborn the worship of the Queen of the Demonweb Pits. Nonetheless, some still turn to the Patrons for power in the treacherous world of the Vault.
- Wizard: Wizards of all Schools are common among the drow, duergar, and svirfneblin, as well as other races. Female drow are less likely to turn to wizardry than the path of the cleric, but exceptions abound.