Drow Vocabulary | Family Terminology and Hierarchy

Drow Vocabulary | Family Terminology and Hierarchy

Zabrynn Lander ·

While drow are considered to be generally "chaotic" one thing that is common among their societies is a need for a hierarchy. Knowing where you stand amoung your peers and having them know where you stand is vital. This is especially true within the family unit, whether it is to present outward loyalty or simply out of respect. 

A drow family is typically based around the Matriarch, her partners and her children. A successful Matriarch (one who has been in power for a long time) might even have grandchildren. All members are under her power and, generally, dervive their status from her. There are exceptions to this, of course, successful daughters might become powerful priestesses or warriors. In those cases, their merits will add to the family's prestige. However, once a daughter has risen through the ranks, she is likely to either found her own house or eliminate her mother. 

The Matriarch

In drow, the term for Matriarch is Ilharess. It can also be translated to "Matron" or "Matron Mother".

The most superior of the Matrons might be called Valsharess, which is translated into "Queen" in the Common tongue (though it's not an ideal translation). 

When addressing a matron, people will usually add an extra word to show respect and status, akin to the English terms: "Lady" or "Mrs".

For this example the Matron has the name Netan

Netan-ec, "Matron Mother", used by most family members 

Netan-aun, "Matron Partner", used by the patron (her primary spouse)

Netan-tallar, "Lady, Senior", used by anyone of lesser rank. Note: if Netan worked for another Matron, she would be called Netan-tal. 

The Consorts

There are three types of consorts, or partners, a Matriarch might keep. 

Ilharn, "Patron", refers to the Matriarch's primary spouse. He lives in the Matriarch's house and under her power. He generally keeps the other partners under close watch. A patron must be male, unlike the other types of lovers a Matriarch can take. 

All members of the family, including the Matriarch, call him -aum. 

Jabbuk, "Master, Sir", refers to a lesser spouse or a concubine. A matron might have several of these if she is wealthy. They often bring valuable skills to the household such as skill at weapons or magic. 

The family will call him -virl, which simply means "male". 

Meanwhile the Matriarch will call him, -laul, meaning "lover".

Jabbress, "Madame", is the feminine form of Jabbuk. While signifanctly less common, a Matriarch might choose to keep a female lover.   

The matriarch would call her, -lau, meaning "lover". 

Parzdiamo, "Mistress", usually male, these are temporary lovers who are considered guests rather than full members of the house, even if they stay for several weeks. They have signifacantly less protection, but are able to move between houses - including their own home - more easily. Female members of a house can only take on aparzdiamo and cannot marry. Most parzdiamo are young male drow. 

The family will refer to these lovers much they would any male they speak to who is of equal or lesser rank, -uk. 

Meanwhile the Matriarch will likely called her parzdiamo, -om. 

All children born to the Matron are presumed to be the children of the Patron as well, regardless of how many lovers the Matriarch might take. 

The Successor

As the Matron's heir, she is generally addressed differently than her siblings. She holds the highest rank in the family after her mother. She always the eldest daughter. In this example, her name is Penore. 

Penore-vik, "Heir", used by her family

Penore-rin, "Lady", used by anyone of lesser rank. 

Within the family, her title is Ustli, "First Daughter". In a formal situation she might be announced Penore-rin, Ustli ē Netan-tallar, "Lady Penore, First Daughter of Matron Netan".

Children of the Matron

Birth order is very important within drow families so each child will be known by their order and gender. For example:

Ustlim, "First Son". His siblings call him -isn.

Drāli, "Second Daughter". Her siblings call her -ist

Occasionally, a Matriarch will adopt a daughter or son. Usually, a promising daughter from a lower rank will be adopted, with the Matriarch offering a son (or other valuable property) in exchange.  This is expecially common if the Matriarch has no living daughters. Their titles tend to be slightly different:

Drāzen, "Second Son". His new siblings would call him -or.

Llarbbyn, "Third Daughter". Her new siblings would call her -ol.  


If a matron rules for a long time, her daughters will grow into adulthood and eventually have children of her own.

Drow lives tend to be short and brutal but the average life span is about 400 years. Meaning that if a Drow matron had a daughter when she was about 200, she might still be alive by the time her daughter reaches that age as well. Additionally, drow have the potential to live a lot longer, so an elderly drow could have their own adult grandchildren. 

All grandchildren are numbered in birth order, regardless of their mother. The eldest is the eldest even if she was born to the second born daughter. 

Einli, "First (Grand)daughter". Her relatives would call her -int. While her mother calls her -min. 

Einlim, "First (Grand)son". His relatives would call him -int if he lives within the household or -in if he's moved to another. 

Drāmin, "Second (Grand)daughter"


Now you know the terminology Drow use with their family members! This can be super useful if you're roleplaying your Drow when they meet their family or an easy cultural "faux pas" for player characters to stumble into. 

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