No one living remembers the great Elven Civil War. The last entities that remembered were the Elven Gods, and they all perished in the last Great Cataclysm, along with the loss of almost all written histories.
On the Elven Isles, the only remnants of historical information that still tell the story are carved in the stone of a handful of buildings. Stylized friezes depicting scenes of elf fighting elf, brother against brother, king against king. Nothing more than decorations, and even then they are often covered or removed to make room for more peaceful designs as the Elven civilization rebuilt. Few scholars even remember that there was a war.
In the darkened subterranean tunnels of the Underdark, deep beneath the frozen Southern continent, the ancient Dark Elves carved their hatred and vengeance into every stone, every surface that could hold a gouge, and it was surrounded by that hate, bathed in that jealous rage towards the surface dwellers, that the Drow civilization was reborn and rebuilt. The Drow hate all surface dwellers, most especially their Elven kin.
Even Drow scholars admit that it is likely that the bloody massacres, vile tortures, depraved atrocities and unjustified exile of their ancient ancestors at the hands of the surface-dwellers may be exaggerated or even made up, that the carvings may be indulging in some artistic license, but it is useful to those in power to have an external enemy to direct their peoples’ discontent towards.
Physical Description: Drow, like all Elves, possess a graceful, fragile physique that is accentuated by their long, pointed ears. Their eyes are wide and almond-shaped, and are usually solid white, though red and purple are not uncommon. Their skin is pure black in color, graying slightly as they reach advanced age, and their hair appears pure white in light, though it can be a variety of colors in the ultraviolet spectrum when viewed using Darkvision.
They have the ability to see in the dark, developed from millenia of living undergrouns, and are resistant to both magic and radiation, but are uncomfortable in bright sunlight and can be dazzled if exposed to it suddenly.
Society: Most of the Drow civilization is patterned after interpretations of the ancient carvings, in an attempt to reclaim the pre-Cataclysm glory of their ancestors’ empire. Spared the worst ravages of the disaster, many of the ancient cities and citadels have simply been cleaned up and repopulated. Drow society is matriarchal and built around a complex caste system based on birth and gender which is rigidly enforced by the Spider Empress and the Mage-Queens that lead each city-state.
Females hold all positions of true power and learning. Only women may hold any positions of political authority or receive training as Wizards, Alchemists or Magi. All of the commanders and officers in the military command structure are females, and they are the only ones allowed training as Clerics, Paladins or Inquisitors. All of the secret police, courts, and constabulary are women as well, though they sometimes employ men as brute enforcers. Of the four martial monastaries scattered throughout the Underdark, only one allows males, and it is technically outside the authority of the Empire.
While they are just as smart and capable as their female counterparts, Males are seen as crude, dumb and simply uncivilized, and they make up the majority of the slaves, military and grunt labor in Drow society. They have few rights and are prohibited from any advanced learning, and in some city-states aren’t even allowed to be literate. Occasionally an exceptional individual will arise as a Sorcerer, or a particularly skilled or intelligent warrior, and they will often be brought up from their low station to serve as personal guards, consorts or slaves to powerful Drow women.
Relations: Drow hate all of the races of the surface world. They blame all of the civilizations of the surface for their exile, and many Drow believe the last Cataclysm was an attempt by the surface elves to finally wipe them out. They have a strong sense of racial superiority, and believe that it is jealousy at their natural superiority that caused the war that led to their banishment. The Drow see all other races as deserving only enslavement or destruction, and often expound at great length about how much better the world will be once they are in charge.
Alignment & Religion: Like the Elves, the gods of the Drow are dead. Their temples have been converted or rededicated. Most Drow are non-religious, with the State and the Spider Empress taking the place of a deity. There are scattered cults dedicated to the goddess of Darkness, Oxomoco, or death, Huantli, but the most common cult is Tzatzimime, the Destroyer. None of these religions is especially powerful, but they are growing and may eventually threaten the power of the Spider Empress herself. This leads to occasional conflict between these cults and the State.