# How do I encourage Drow players to not make Drizzt clones?

Every once in a while, I have a player wants to create a Drow character. The problem is, virtually every one of them winds up looking suspiciously like Drizzt Do'Urden: they are some variation of Good alignment and usually a melee fighter (or even dual-wielder), and I've seen one of them jungle cat as a familiar.

My biggest complaint is that the Drow are supposed to be evil as a whole, and Drizzt was atypical in that he wasn't. And yet every Drow character I've seen has been a Good alignment also, which bothers me because it makes it appear that all Drow are special snowflakes. Order of the Stick #44 captures the ridiculousness of this pretty well.

Basically, I want to respect player choice in wanting to play a Drow, but want them to show some originality instead of being a copy of a particular character. How do I respect the players' desire to play a Drow, but encourage their characters to not be Drizzt clones?

I've tagged this with the general instead of a specific edition because it is a problem I've seen with multiple editions, and I'm looking for reasons beyond mechanical ones.

• What constitutes being a Drizzt-clone besides being a non-evil drow? – Szega Jul 4 '18 at 15:32
• Is this solely or largely an alignment issue? (That is, I'm concerned that the question is stereotyping players because many independently-run campaigns and curated avenues for play (like Pathfinder Society) have house rules and actual rules, respectively, forbidding evil-aligned PCs.) – Hey I Can Chan Jul 4 '18 at 15:39
• "My biggest complaint is that the Drow are supposed to be evil" - this varies by edition, so knowing the edition may be relevant. Also, what problem are you trying to address? If a player wants to be a dual-scimitar wielding drow, does that hurt your game in some way? – MikeQ Jul 4 '18 at 16:07
• So, are you trying to have your players play evil Drow? Would that fit with the rest of the party, tone of the campaign, etc.? – Mr. Sandman Jul 4 '18 at 17:35
• @MikeQ - Even in Gygax's original Unearthed Arcana, Drow PCs are all supposed to be outcasts from their society for some reason. So while non-Evil Drow might be rare, among outcast Drow available to become PC's it seems like it would be common. – T.E.D. Jul 5 '18 at 20:53

I feel your pain. Having your players come up with a character concept you yourself consider trite and overused and then just having to deal with it can be really annoying. However, it is important to remember that a PC first and foremost belongs to their player. And said player first and foremost wants to have fun – and not to be told his kind of fun is “wrong” for being unoriginal.

However, there are a few things you could try.

1) Bring up the topic directly at character creation

Just be honest with your group. Tell them exactly what you told us and just … ask politely.

Hey guys, playing Drow is fine by me. Though I would really appreciate it if it wasn't another Drizzt clone. I DMed for five of those already! Just give me something new to work with.

Say it with a wink or a smile. Make it a request, not an order. A lot of players will work with their DM when it comes to character creation. This might solve the problem right from the start.

Despite ubiquity on the internet, inside the actual game world the dual-wielding chaotic good drow ranger is an abnormality. Toss in some Drow NPCs and have them act like the real deal for contrast. Don't make them stupid evil, but make then utterly ruthless and alien. Maybe they are recurring villains. Maybe they are unlikely allies that your PCs were forced to work with and by whom they will be double-crossed as soon as they are no longer useful.

Another idea: A good friend once made a PC that essentially looked like a female Drizzt from the outside. She told everybody she had fled the cruelty of the underdark, she wasn't like those other evil Drow, she was persecuted for her good heart down there and all that jazz. In reality, she was an utterly ruthless assassin with a special knack for poison. But since the “Good Drow”-Stereotype was so well established, everybody bought her lies without question.

Maybe make an NPC like that? Have him/her show up. Have the two “Good Drow” bond over apparent shared trauma. Earn the PCs trust. And then flat out betray that trust. Or maybe “just” show the NPCs utter ruthlessness in action and have everybody go “What the...?!”

Make them all remember what Drow are supposed to be.

But what if your resident Drizzt clone just looks at all those evil Drow and is all the more determined to be the “chaotic good rebel yearning to throw off the reputation of their evil kin”? Well...

3) Embrace the Drizzt

Let's be honest. Drizzt is cheesy and overused, but he wasn't a break-out character for nothing. The concept is just FUN. It's pure emo-teen wish fullfillment1, being the morally-superior badass tortured rebel with plenty of reasons to angst! Let them have their fun. Heck, indulge them!

Play up the racism and the distrust that they face from NPCs. Make overcoming that distrust part of their character arc. Have other Drow brand them a filthy coward and traitor. Break out the philosophies of “What is good?” and “Nature vs Nurture”. Maybe throw in some worshippers of Eilistraee to spice things up. (Optional twist: They're evil.) Remember, even though to us the PC is Drizzt #23415, in the world of the game itself he is the only one and something special.

Let them have it. Heck, you might end up enjoying it despite yourself. In my eyes, this is the narrative equivalent of forgoing a healthy, balanced meal and having an enormous pint of ice cream for lunch. It may not meet most standards of being “good for you”, but sometimes it's just intensely satisfying.

4) Really embrace the Drizzt

Just have the real Drizzt Do'Urden show up and accuse them of stealing his style.

(Okay, that one's a joke. But they actually did something like this in Baldur’s Gate II. You can encounter Drizzt in-game. And if you are playing as an elf named Drizzt and have a low reputation, he will call you an imposter and attack you.)

(1) Please forgive me, Drizzt fans.

• Toss in some Drow NPCs and have them act like the real deal for contrast. Maybe they are recurring villains. I can see this working. But you are making this to inspire players to create someone like him: i.e, a drow. But they are not villains, they are "heroes", so they should antagonize him, so they are good, (because that also works better because "good" is good team glue); so they area a good drow fighting against someone evil from their kin and... theeeere we go again (: – xDaizu Jul 5 '18 at 14:04
• Overall great answer, but #3 amused me. I loved drizzt when I was a teenager. Now, I'm thoroughly past that, but I remember and understand the appeal. I also tend to indulge my players desires as long as they don't destroy my plot and that tends to make for happy players without causing me too much trouble. – TimothyAWiseman Jul 5 '18 at 15:33
• Point 3 works for any nonstandard race. I had a player want to play a Half-Celestial and casually walked through town. He confronted me that I was playing the NPCs of the town "unrealistically". Many of them followed him around and tried to touch his wings and tried to give him offerings for his favor and some even prayed to him openly. It made it difficult for him to go anywhere in public (other than cosmopolitan cities on the planes). The opposite happens to Tieflings in my world now, they are usually hunted and persecuted openly. – Slagmoth Jul 5 '18 at 16:37
• What a useful and, moreover, wonderfully-written answer. I joined this SE site just so I could appreciate it SE-style. – T.J. Crowder Jul 7 '18 at 16:56
• @tonysdg : This was in an online play-by-post roleplaying community, so no DM. So, the character told the sob-story and the writing of the post was ambigious on whether it was the truth or not. If you read it carefully enough, you could figure it out pretty quickly. But most people never doubted the "official" story. – HideAndSeek Jul 8 '18 at 19:15

## Find out how they're not like Drizz't.

"A Bad Guy but not a bad guy" is one of those obvious touch points for a character. Popular all over the world, and in many kinds of stories! It's entirely possible for someone to want to create that character without blatantly copying everything from one single instance of it.

So when you're talking with your players about their backstories, pry at your drow for the places where they were different:

• What house were you a part of?
• What made you realize you weren't like other drow?
• Who do you owe for smuggling you to the surface?
• What do you miss the most?

It's good practice in general to ask people things about their characters; you don't have to frontload everything and make it seem like the third degree, you can spread them out over sessions, maybe even give people "homework" for next time - not in the sense of "write this essay", just as something to think about.

Unless somebody's got some R. A. Salvatore cliff notes in their back pocket, you should be able to ferret out some operational differences from Icingdeath Twinkle pretty readily. And then, as long as you play to those, you'll be playing to a very different character from a simple clone.

• I'm confused: how does this address the issue in the OP? – Icyfire Jul 4 '18 at 21:21
• I actually like this answer. The point here is,make them define their unique characteristics, just like you should for any character, and in that discussion draw them away from a Drizzt clone. – Paul Jul 4 '18 at 21:39
• This is a good answer, but it could be improved by saying "Your player's drizz't clone won't be exactly the same as the original drizz't. Differences will naturally arise over time as a result of your player's decisions and playstyle being different to R. A. Salvatore's, and here's how you can encourage that" explicitly, instead of leaving it implicit. – GMJoe Jul 4 '18 at 22:13

# Do you actually have a problem?

I will challenge this a little bit.

My biggest complaint is that the Drow are supposed to be evil as a whole, and Drizzt was atypical in that he wasn't. And yet every Drow character I've seen has been a Good alignment also, which bothers me because it makes it appear that all Drow are special snowflakes.

But PCs are supposed to be special snowflakes. I believe most RPG players will agree that the reason you play a fantasy RPG is to be a special snowflake. Sure, there are rare tables where you play as a human commoner and roleplays taking care of your farm and being killed by orc raids (no, really, there was one of these in a FLGS close to me), but they are not the norm.

Embrace the PCs wanting to be special. Usually, the non-special characters are the NPCs. You (the DM) can present the evil drows to the party. As an example, spoiler on Lost mine of Phandelver from the starter set for 5e.

The BBEG is a Drow. He's an evil mastermind controlling a whole web of evil guys doing evil things and living in a cave. That's what a Drow looks like. That's what you are expecting. Be your expectation.

# Ok, you have a problem

Now that I challenged it a little, let's focus on the problem you state. I see two problems, where the first actually leads to the second: You feel your players are not original/you have seen that character type too much leads to you don't have fun DM'ing for a table with that same character type for the 10th time. This is a problem because you are having less fun, or not even having fun, because of that. Honestly talk to your players. Tell them you don't feel comfortable DM'ing for that character again. You are not being a bad evil DM that doesn't let them play whatever they want simply because you are stating you don't have fun playing in a table with that character again.

# Even if your Drow is a good guy, people don't see them like that

I am currently DM'ing for the Chaotic Neutral (not even CG) Drow. To be honest he doesn't even care about his kin, he just wants to kill dragons and dragon-like creatures. Yes, that's his life goal. Anyway, he's not exactly evil - but that doesn't mean my NPCs know that. Everywhere he goes people get scared. Everywhere people will ignore, run away from or, for the most brave ones, attack them. At least until they do some side quests and show the town's people they are not that bad.

Embrace their goal. They want to show that their kin is not all-evil? Okay, remind them that if they have that goal, it means their kin is seen as all-evil.

# Play an evil campaign

Well, that's the obvious one: if you want them to play evil characters, you will have to roll an evil campaign. IMO, you can't reasonably ask a player to play an evil character alongside the Lawful Good Life Cleric and the Lawful Good Oath of Devotion Paladin, ask them to roleplay accordingly and not expect something very, very bizarre and more PvP conflicts than PvE. But this one is an opinion based on having tried it once and failing miserably. Maybe I'm wrong and you and your players can do it, and it might lead to a very interesting adventure, but it will be hard, at least that I'm certain.

• I wonder if there are lots of DM's who have an issue all their Barbarian PC's being too much like Conan, or with not enough human PC's being crappy at their class, and really better suited to a life of farming like the vast majority of humans in that setting would have been. – T.E.D. Jul 5 '18 at 20:57
• "PCs are supposed to be special snowflakes." Exactly the right attitude! PCs quickly become the 1% in terms of skill, power, wealth, and resources in any campaign they are a part of. If you want more thought put into your characters, fine, but there's nothing inherently wrong with a player wanting a CG Drow, a Wizard with golden skin, or an aged spell-caster from Shadowdale! – Michael W. Jul 5 '18 at 23:42

Ohhh, Special-Snowflake-Drow time? Tighten your seatbelts, put on your hardhats, secure your Evil-DM-is-EVIL whips to your main hand and the GM-Bible to your off one, this is going to be a tough ride. Because, if they want to be so special, the one in a million good Drow, they got to pay for it. With good roleplay!

Or freshbaked Drow-outcast washes up in socalled civilized lands. Lands, that claim to be Lawful Good. And of course, everybody in these lands knows what a hero looks like: they are paladins and shining knights, mysterious gentlemen and the like, but most certainly not the mose evil thing that one can think about: Drow. If one shows up, that must be a bad omen, a spy for the Underdark, a scout for an invasion. The only sensible things to do for the population are:

1. Hide your wealth, your daugthers, maybe even yourself! The drow can't steal and murder what they don't know about or find.
2. Watch it carefully, for any misdeed it does! And then drag the evil creature in front of a judge and demand the full power of the law, piling all the tiny deeds upon him together with the misfortune that happened. And a Drow at the gallows is a spectacle that will sooth the masses for a little time.
3. Mob it, if you can outnumber it 10 to 1 and under the leadership of a high cleric or paladin, bestowed with the task to slay these evils. Because, the mob has the right of pitchforks and torches.

Ok, that was very graphic but what I want to say here is: If they are laty and just are a 'special snowflake drow' by the book, throw him all the stereotypical hatred of the drow you can, because the population doesn't know it better and can't know he is this. Warn your player about this. Tell them that you won't pull back, because Drow are considered Always Chaothic EvilTV Tropes by the general population, and if they are fine with that.

## Fear The Unknown

On the other hand, we might not even need to unleash the hatred of the populance. They might not even know Drow exist in the first place, making the PC the first they encounter! But, what makes a noble elf's skin as black as charcoal? What wretched magic must be at work there! Either this individual must be in league with the dark forces or a really unlucky bastard. But better play it safe.

Unlike in the previous route, the general populance should stay at points 1 and 2: Warily eye the drow for evilness and signs of corruption, maybe demand holy cleaning rites to make sure they are not evil. Repeatedly. And swearing upon the good gods that he has never done and will never do an evil deed.

This is pretty much the Fantastic RacismTV Tropes light. This is the option if you don't want to be the totally evil GM that unpacks the full force at any circumstance. You might want a mix of the two approaches at times. But there is more in the trickbox!

## Everybody fights, noone quits!

Ohhh, you are a Drow outcast, someone the hightly structurized society of the Underdark does not want? You know that the Drow houses never leave loose ends, right? They will make sure to try to tie up this lost thread: either by returning the sheep to the fold or by ending it. Or even more sinister: They might not even go after the traitor themselves, but after their friends, those that they learn to like, those that are left in their path as people having fond memories of them.

In time, the poor Drow will learn that the village they saved from bandits was sacked by his breathen and brought to the citadel as slaves. The wizard they returned the ancient spellbook to was forced to use it to summon an ancient old horror. And to stop this, the hero themseves has to return to the citadel to turn themseves over to the high priestesses of Lloth...

This would focus your whole campaign around the Drow. Make him a pivotal point... and pervert some of the deeds of his group. Turn them into villains against their will. And maybe, maybe in the end they embrace this lot. Turning to evil fully.

• I rather like the idea of a priest showing up, casting "turn evil" right in the Drow PC's face, and then getting frustrated when nothing happens. – T.E.D. Jul 5 '18 at 21:42

In addition to the fine answers here, I'd first talk to the player about why they created a Drizzt clone. Do they specifically want to play Drizzt, or do they just like dual wielding sabers? Or maybe they like the mechanical bonuses of the race. Or maybe they want to roleplay the outcast/untrusted outsider. Or maybe they just don't have any good ideas of their own (inexperience?) and fell back on an idea they were familiar with (it was either this or Legolas...). Get to the root of it and work with them.

If they like the stats of the Drow for their build, reskin it as another race that is mechanically similar (a "cave elf" or "deep jungle elf" or some such). For example, if they like the elf bonuses and 120' of dark vision, create a variant elf that gives up the cantrips and spells of the drow in order to not suffer the daylight penalty and general shunning of surface society, but keeps the superior darkvision and other elf qualities.

If they like the class build or the dual wielding, point out that other races (and maybe even classes) might be a better option. Realistically, though the base build is pretty strong in older versions (such a 3.5), Drizzt could be built equivalently or even better in 5e using other classes (where Ranger is arguably somewhat gimped, especially for non-ranged). This almost certainly holds for other role-playing systems and even to varying degrees for other editions of D&D (such as 4th). And again, the character was built first and foremost as a character in a novel, then translated into D&D, so the build is not likely very optimized (strong still in some editions, yes, but not top tier). There are better stealth builds, better dial wield builds, better ranger builds, and so on, depending on what the player wants.

If they've just finished re-reading the Drizzt series for the 4th time, and really want to be Drizzt, then the answers provided by others here pretty much cover that scenario.

# Make an Underdark campaign

The problem is that we human always try to emulate the context we exist in. We follow convention, and we do so instinctively. So when we try to make a character that exists in a good-aligned context, this instinct spills onto our characters and so we will be very drawn to trying to adapt the character to its context.

So rather than telling a player "do not fit the square peg to the round hole", make all holes square instead:

Make a campaign that is completely played in Underdark, and thus populated by Underdark-appropriate characters

Alternatively have a Drow party stranded on the surface. That was the basis of the first D&D campaign I ever played in and we kept that running for about 10 years. It is great fun playing an evil party!

# More evil characters

Give the Drow character some evil company. It is easier to withstand the pressure if you do not have to endure it alone.

# Avoid the odd one out; enforce race-typical alignment

To return the original question: how can you accommodate a singular evil character in an otherwise good/neutral context, and make the player feel comfortable with that and not have them feel they need to make — for instance — a good-aligned Drow?

I would advice against that actually, because even though strife and inter-character conflict is a great plot and role-playing hook, it is very hard to maintain, and it can cause discomfort among the players to always have their characters at each others' throats. In another campaign we had my character end up in conflict with two others. And although the roleplaying and the side-authoring (we love to author vignettes / novellas that hook into our play sessions) benefited greatly from this, in the end we were all happy when the conflict resolved.

So unless you have an experienced player that is comfortable with being the odd one out, that can play it in a way that does not strain the group, or you have effective plots that are well served by having an opposed aligned character... I would advice against letting opposed characters join the party. This in turn means that you either have to accept Drizzt's-type characters, or simply bar Drow characters from being created by enforcing race-typical alignment.

When a player decides to play a character that you as the GM don't want them to play, the first step is to identify why you feel that way.

## If you just don't like that character idea

1. Humbly admit to the player that you don't like it and will have difficulty making impartial rulings where that character is concerned. That's enough to make most players think twice about it.
• For example, I have a personal bias against the WoW-style rogue that can casually stroll through an open field at midday while "stealthed". I am (unreasonably) strict in determining where/when a character can effectively hide, and I make this clear to any player before they finalize their characters.
2. Accept it, and commit to making a conscious effort to overcome your bias.

## If the character idea is incompatible with the setting or the narrative

Inform the player why the character idea doesn't fit in with the world or story, then either:

1. Work with the player to modify the character (or the world) until they fit in and you are both satisfied.
2. Ask the player to shelve that character idea for a future game.

## Try changing the Drow

A possible solution; as I'm one of those annoying players insists on playing a Dark Elf, Drow, Druchii, Dunmer across the various planes of existence.

Change the universe, slightly. Unless it has to be in forgotten realms, why not make the Dark Elves a normal race like Wood Elves or High Elves? A campaign of mine had Tieflings and Drow swap roles: Tieflings are evil by nature and Drow are essentially just seen as another (slightly different) race of people!

• I think OP meant that the problem is that players make characters of races that are meant to be evil, but then the character go against the typical race alignment. – MichaelK Jul 5 '18 at 14:26
• Yes, it would depend exactly on what the player wanted e.g do they want to be going against the traditional culture of a race or just play as a dark elf. It would asking the player to check exactly what it is they want! – Biomage Jul 9 '18 at 9:59

If you want an evil drow you have to let your players know that evil PCs are allowed. Also you need to make sure the group's playstyle and your campaign allow for an evil PC. If your campaign is about good vs evil and your group are all playing good aligned characters then don't expect an evil character to fit. This means if someone wants to be a drow they can only play a good, or at worst neutral, aligned drow.

• Anecdote to support this: I have played a chaotic neutral drow, and kept in mind that I need to have a reason to work with the party, trust them and all that. But it was still annoying to have moments where nobody of the (good aligned) party stabilized the PC who went down and would otherwise be very frustrated so I had to - which felt weird because my Drow was supposed to learn to trust and appreciate them, not do from the start. So, I recommend making very clear from the start on that the characters must be willing to help the party, or make clear that this will not be the case. – lucidbrot Jul 6 '18 at 6:32

### Create characters collaboratively

Generally, if you don’t like the characters your players are creating, don’t ask them create characters ahead of time — that is, in a vacuum. When a player always begins character creation the same way — alone with their thoughts — we should not be surprised the characters come out a little bland.

Create characters collaboratively, during a “session zero.” Providing hints about the first adventure, or even a complete preamble, can give players a different starting point.

### Drow Outcasts

Any good character needs a little tension. This should not be difficult for a drow exile, who will always be a bit of a fish out of water.

A drow might have “blind spots” where they like their kindred despite themselves. Or they overcompensate, trying too hard to fit in. They might also hold onto given aspects of drow culture they find admirable.

Here are a number of examples based on drow I’ve played or played with, presented as D&D 5e character background tables.

## Drow Outcast Character Backgrounds

### Personality Traits (d6)

1. I get excited in combat and take my battle cries too far, considering my companions’ delicate sensibilities.
2. I’m soft-hearted towards little creatures with all those adorable little legs. I get angry when someone hurts one.
3. I can't break the habit of slipping into traditional drow gender rolls.
4. I love drow culture, art, and/or delicacies, and am always trying to broaden the horizons of my new friends.
5. I revel in the attention that my exotic appearance draws.
6. I wholeheartedly embrace my adoptive people. You’ll find me in the front pew singing loudly, every Sunday and Moonday.

### Bonds (d6)

1. Regardless of the odds, we must work towards reconciling the elven kindreds of the surface and underdark.
2. I left a loved one (or several) behind in the Underdark. I’d do anything to keep them safe.
3. A drow individual or faction saved my life and helped me escape. Our relationship is...complicated.
4. An enemy of the drow captured and enslaved me. I can’t return to my people bearing that shame.
5. The Great Star Goddess of all good drow redeemed me. I owe everything to her, and must embody all her virtues.
6. I fear the Goddess' wrath beyond all other things. I may hide from her, but I would never defy her.

### Flaws (d6)

1. I try to be good, but the rules around acceptable violence are beyond me. (Yesterday I’m bloodthirsty, but today ghouls don’t deserve mercy?)
2. All kindreds are equal. It's prejudiced people who are are inferior, and they deserve what’s coming to them.
3. I reflexively hate anything associated with the Underdark.
4. I have a morbid fear of spiders. (Maybe this is why I really left the Underdark.)
5. Mother was right about one thing: Boys are toys.
6. I love the sunlight, and insist that I can see just fine.
• It may also be worth noting that Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes, the latest 5e book, provides more detailed information about the traditional lore on elves, including drow. It also includes tables of suggested story hooks for drow (and non-drow) adventurers, and of possible drow house specialties. (A drow house is the principal organization in drow society: "an extended clan that comprises many related families, plus a number of lesser families who have pledged loyalty to the house. [...] A house usually specializes in a business, a service, or a craft that supports by providing income.") – V2Blast Jul 7 '18 at 1:41

Remember that Drizzt had a hard time of it. Matron Malice sent a lot of firepower after Drizzt several times. Discuss with the player and see what his/her concept of the character's background story is. Use that to get your whole party into trouble. Nobody trusted Drizzt. He was run off from many places.

Also you can point out to your player (privately) that Jarlaxle spent a not inconsiderable amount of time on the surface, some of it with Artemis Entreri. Jarlaxel was cool, everybody should want to play Jarlaxel.

Why does it matter? Drizzt is a well written and likable hero. Just like your players might want to emulate Drizzt, young repressed Drow males may also want to emulate someone that stood up to the females that rule and control them.

It shouldn't be an issue either way. Let them be.

• – nitsua60 Jul 5 '18 at 2:52

Though a little unconventional, you could require that players make a roll during character creation to adjust their alignment as a sort of meta-D&D.

Player: I want to make my Drow Good.
DM: Okay, roll a D20 against an 18.

To be fair to everyone, you'd have to ensure that all players roll when choosing unconventional alignments for their chosen races. You could even make it mandatory on every alignment choice and just significantly lower the target for usual alignment choices. A critical miss on a request for Drow Evil could end up with a Good.

Unfortunately, this would require player buy-in and someone being dictated the alignment that they are supposed to role-play is not likely to go over well. Even if the player accepts the decision, they may not be in the proper mindset to produce the kind of actions that would be expected.

• Have you done this before when you were running a game in this system? If so, how did it work out with your players? – KorvinStarmast Jul 5 '18 at 16:35
• Writing "Evil" on someone's character sheet does not stop a player from playing them as a brooding anti-hero anyway. Dice cannot decide a real-life person's out-of-game intentions. – NathanS Jul 6 '18 at 12:38
• @NathanS Totally agree. That's the essence of the last thought here. – Ian MacDonald Jul 6 '18 at 14:33