For a long time, small comunities of drow who follows gods other than Lolth have lived on the surface of the Forgotten Realms. However, due to the general distrust people have for drow, many of them moved to isolated regions.
One such group are known by the elves as the Aevaen tel Dhaerow, AKA Aevendrow. They are primarily followers of Eilistraee, who's guidance helped them escape the cluches of Lolth and her priestesses.
Aevendrow are a group of drow who live in an icy region of the world. This might be the far north or far south of your world.
While the Aevendrow were introduced in the spin-off novel, Starlight Enclave, much of the lore there conflicts with standard Forgotten Realms lore. So instead, here is a different take on the Aevendrow, which assumes they are enclave of various drow who have escaped Lolth's control.
Within the Forgotten Realms, the Aevendrow live north of the Sea of Moving Ice. They recieve visitors on occasion, but they erase the memories of anyone who decided to leave. This shows an isolationist mentality. If you choose to use that in your game, these drow may have legends of the distrust they faced when they returned to the surface - and would explain why they retreated so far to the north.
Aevendrow & Outsiders
If you choos to have your Aevendrow more open, access to their settlement is probably quite difficult due to the icy plains. The easiest way to access the settlements would be through magical transportation. At least, when it comes to people from other regions.
The drow are not the only people who live on the ice. Orcs, humans, and dwarves also call the snowy plateus their home. Due to the harshness of the region, they typically try to avoid conflict with each other and sometimes even band together.
In keeping with Eilistraee's teachings, a large settlement of Aevendrow would likely include a diversity of races.
In Elvish, Aeven combines the elements, ae, "argent, silvery" + vae "vitality, light". With the final n to indicate a person. Their full name is Aevaen tel Dhaerow, which is rendered Aevendrow in Common. And it means "Silvery Traitors" or "Starlight Traitors".
The Aevendrow don't call themselves this. Instead they call themselves:
In Elvish "z'Aestava" (zuh-EYST-av-ah, sing. "z'Aestav") which means Those Who Are Gently United.
In Drow, "Alabluthi", meaning: Organised Outcasts.
Unlike a lot of drow, their traditional diet is based on meat though some food can be grown or created in areas around hotsprings or in magic rich locations.
Aevendrow have spent many years mastering creative uses of the Create Food and Water spell, which allows them to maintain a decent population. But the main issue with the spell is that the food spoils quickly (within 24 hours) regardless of intervention. Meanwhile, food harvested from other sources can be perserved for long periods of time - especially if encased in ice. This is especially important in the deep winter.
Most Aevendrow, therefore, are pastoralists and/or hunters.
They typically work with animals such as eight-legged badgers, white foxes, sled dogs (called Tef), reindeer and muskoxen. Keeps of muskoxen often move around. In the summer, they find wet areas such as river valleys or hotspring chasms. Meanwhile, in the winter, they head for higher elevations to avoid the deep snow.
The Long Day
During the Long Day hunting parties will venture out onto the ice to hunt down larger or more varied meals. Puffin eggs, especially, are considered a delicacy. Fishing, with magic or harpoon, is also a common way to get food.
Additionally, the Aevendrow might forge for goods. Location spells are especially useful in finding specific food items out on the ice flats and valleys. Items they forage include artic willow, lichen, and edible moss. The artic willow's twigs is especially useful because it can be used to fuel fires (usually lit by Prestigitation; magic that requires no fire typically doesn't last more than 10 minutes).
Between the Long Day and the Long Night, comes the Twilight Autumn, a period where magic is difficult to cast (if not impossible). Magic unrelated to the weave or the god wills the air and the ice during this time, causing any magical items that are calibrated for this to fail. This means that Aevendrow magic is typically different than the magic of the rest of the world.
The Long Night
The Long Night is a tough period of time for the people of the Ice. While the Aevendrow have superior darkvision, the plateus are often too cold to move through easily. Some Aevendrow choose to bunker down in caves of ice, using their magic to keep out the worst of the snow and ice. While others move to higher ground and make their home in nearby mountains. This entended winter is usually survived due to a mixture of magic and preserved foods (such as cheese and kumis).
Aevendrow Art & Material Culture
Furs, sealskin, and the mucus of the phlegm fish (called Hags) are used for creating clothing. Additional strength and lightness is usually created by magic. Occasionally, the Aevendrow will keep white spiders and spin the web for a silk-like thread.
If Aevendrow need to journey out only the ice, they will usually don a black suit made of phlegm fibre. This suit is form fitting and reaches down their neck down to their feet. Sealskin boots are worn as well. An additional hood, which usually covers everything but their eyes, is worn as well. During the Long Night furs and sealskin will be added over the top. While during the Long Day, further face covering is added to block out the sunlight both from the sky and reflecting on the ice.
While most Aevendrow are nomadic or semi-nomadic, they typically use the same locations every year. For this reason, most have houses and buildings permanently in place. The houses and structures of the Aevendrow are typically made out of stone and ice.
With magic, Aevendrow are able to transform ever present ice into a steel-like material, which they use to make their weapons. This material will not melt, even in direct sunlight.
The Aevendrow also express their artistic talents with ice sculptures. Using the same magic they wield to create and enlarge their caverns. Their ice art can be incredible intricate, especially playing with light.
Aevendrow come in many colours, but are often more blue in tone than the traditional purple.
They get their name from the freckles that are common on their faces. These freckles are typically brightly coloured and stand out upon their darker skin. The scattered freckles have been likened to stars - hence Starlight Elves. Unlike the classic drow (known as Udadrow), most Aevendrow have black hair. Their eye colour can be red, amber or purple in tone.
Like most drow, female drow tend to be physically larger than their male counterparts.
More Inspiration: the Tattoos of the Starlight Elves
When a drow comes of age, they will recieve their first tattoo. These will connect the freckles on their face and skin with luminant ink. It is for this reason they are known as the Shimmering Drow. The ink can be silver, gold, or white in colour - the colour and pattern vary between clans. The tattoo artists of the culture are highly respected.
Culture & Values
The Drow of the Ice value success in competition very highly. Their men especially put a lot of effort in showing off their prowess through any kind of competition. This can be in combat, on a hunt, with music, artistry or anything else that can be made a contest.
Due to the influence of Eilistraee, they arematriarchal, with inheritance going down the maternal line (from mother to daughters). Herds and other property are usually divided up equally between daughters.
While male Aevendrow aren't treated as badly as those in the Underdark, they are typically viewed as the "weaker" sex. They tend not to inherit much outside of clothing, ordnament and magical items. Generally speaking, male Drow don't own wealth outside these items and their individual prestige.
Due to their isolationist culture, Aevendrow typically don't declare war or attempt conquest. But if war does comes or if they are hit by a raid, defending the clan is an excellent way for men to increase their position in society and collect wealth.
Children typically stay within their mothers household. However, unlike other drow, the men aren't under the duristiction of their mother or wife. Divorce is easy and simple, and males are free to return to their mother's household, the household of a friend, or borrow a space for a while from the local priestesses of Eilistraee.
Gods and Deities
The following gods are members of the Dark Seldarine. While worship of Lolth may or may not be allowed within your Aevendrow community, she will not be an important goddess. Instead, the Aevendrow worship Eilistraee most of all. Other members of the Dark Seldarine might also feature.
Of course, in a homebrew world, you might want to create your own deities. If so, here is a handy resource to make creating a pantheon easier!
Eilistraee | The Lady of the Dance
Goddess of beauty, dance, song, freedom, moonlight, swordwork and hunting
The daughter of Lolth (Araushnee) and Corellon, she is very important goddess among the Aevendrow. It was through Eilistraee's guidance that the Aevendrow eventually broke from Lolth and found their home in the Ice. As the goddess of swordwork and hunting, she plays an important part in the livelihoods of the common drow. Meanwhile, her connection with the arts makes her popular among prestigious and wealthy Aevendrow.
Eilistraee's guidance is one of the reasons why the Aevendrow are resistant to warfare and are welcoming towards other races, including other elves. Her priestesses (as they are usually priestesses) take on the role of teachers, protectors, and dipolmats. Among Aevendrow communities are often the spiritual leaders and their temples are a safe haven for all.
Domain: Light, Nature, Life
Goddess of death (and undeath, necromancy, vengeance)
Kiaransalee is primarily worshipped as a goddess of death among the Aevendrow. The harsh reality of their homeland means that death is always nearby, even in times of bounty. Her fickle nature reminds them that even the most powerful or most celebrate person can be struck down by death.
Vhaeraun | the Masked Lord
God of the Long Night, drow males, raids, conquest, prestige and pride
Vhaeraun is the son of Corellon and Lolth (Araushnee). He holds the unique view that drow males and female should be viewed equally. For this and other reasons, his worship is subverise among the Aevendrow. As a god of war, Vhaeraun's worshippers tend to seek out new lands and people, which conflicts with the Aevendrow's isolationist mentality.
His cult is small but fervent. Vhaeraun is a generally caring god (at least towards his followers) and is a popular alternative to Keptolo for male drow. Where Keptolo promotes subservience and diplomacy towards drow females, Vhaeraun is more interested in equality. Even when faced with a more powerful opponent, Vhaeraun's way is all about quiet rebellion; undermining them through secretive attacks or passive resistance; and never truly submitting.
Legends even say that Vhaeraun will send divine servants to aid his followers in times of real need.
Domain: Trickery, War
God of chaos and wild magic
Once an aspect of Talos.
Among the Aevendrow, Malyk is most closely associated with the Twilight Autumn (with its unusual magic) and snowstorms.
Keptolo | Consort of Lolth
God of male drow, dignity, intelligence, attentiveness, seduction, hedonism, beauty, and fertility
Originally found in Greyhawk.
Among the Aevendrow, Keptolo is closely associated with kumis (a fermented milk-based alcohol) and other mind-altering foods. As a god of fertility, his worship is considered important among many drow, both in terms of keeping a herd sustained and having children. The free nature of Aevendrow marriages is partly due to his influence and the Aevendrow interpretation of his ways.
He was one of the first elves and became a god after being given a name by Corellon. He sided with Lolth
Domain: Nature, Trickery
Creating a group of Drow for your homebrew world? Check out the Drow Name Generator for name inspiration! Click here.
Please note: this article is only inspired by the Aevendrow of the new Drizzt novels. Large amounts of this blog are not official lore and are instead made to inspire homebrew worlds.