Drow Playable Race Guide in D&D 5e

Learn everything you need to know to play as the wicked Drow

The Drow are elves that many centuries ago were exiled to the Underdark by their lighter skinned elven kin. It is the Drow’s worship of Lolth that caused their exile. Also known as dark elves, the drow have developed dark skin from many generations living below the surface. They are vehement enemies of the surface dwelling elves, but have a general dislike for most races.

Worshippers of the evil spider queen, Lolth, the Drow embody Lolth’s cruel and warlike nature. They often seek to subjugate the other, “lesser races” meaning slavery is rampant in the Drow cities of the Underdark. Each house seeks to bring greater glory to Lolth through conquests against their enemies. This involves attacking other creatures of the Underdark, surface dwellers and even other houses to sate the spider queen’s lust for blood and power.

Drow features in 5e

Ability Scores+2 Dexterity; +1 Charisma
Creature TypeHumanoid
LanguagesCommon and Elven
TraitsDarkvision, Keen Senses, Fey Ancestry, Superior Darkvision, Sunlight Sensitivity, Drow Magic, Drow Weapon Training
Book found inPlayer’s Handbook

If you want to play as a Drow, your character will have the following traits and abilities:

Drow Traits

Darkvision – Accustomed to twilit forests and the night sky, you have superior vision in dark and dim conditions. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can’t discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.

Fey Ancestry – You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put you to sleep.

Trance – Elves do not sleep. Instead they meditate deeply, remaining semi-conscious, for 4 hours a day. The Common word for this meditation is “trance.” While meditating, you dream after a fashion; such dreams are actually mental exercises that have become reflexive after years of practice. After resting in this way, you gain the same benefit a human would from 8 hours of sleep.

Keen Senses – You have proficiency in the Perception skill.

Superior Darkvision – Your darkvision has a range of 120 feet, instead of 60.

Sunlight Sensitivity – You have disadvantage on attack rolls and Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight when you, the target of the attack, or whatever you are trying to perceive is in direct sunlight.

Drow Magic – You know the Dancing Lights cantrip. When you reach 3rd level, you can cast the Faerie Fire spell once with this trait and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest. When you reach 5th level, you can cast the Darkness spell once and regain the ability to do so when you finish a long rest. Charisma is your spellcasting ability for these spells.

Drow Weapon Training – You have proficiency with rapiers, shortswords, and hand crossbows.

Drow are very suited to operating in the darkness and shadows. High dexterity, a smaller increase in charisma and abilities revolving around their Underdark habitat mean darkness is very much your friend.

I’d suggest the following tactics when playing a drow:

  • Avoid the light – Sunlight sensitivity means you’re less effective in daylight. This can make playing a Drow a little challenging at times, but sticking to night time missions, dungeons, shadows and the Underdark are great ways to help this. Sunlight sensitivity can be quite problematic for daylight combat and I’d suggest that if you do want to play a Drow, discussing with your DM removing a Drow’s sunlight sensitivity. Doing so doesn’t make Drow overly powerful and it’s a change WOTC have made to similar races like the Duergar in more recent releases.
  • Highly dextrous – You get a +2 to dexterity so lean into classes and weapons that rely on dexterity over strength. This means ranged weapons and weapons with the finesse property. It also means focusing on classes that work well with a high dexterity like rogues, bards and monks.
  • Highly charismatic – The extra charisma works well alongside dexterity as a several classes gain from both of these abilities. This is particularly the case for bards and rogues but also applies for sorcerers and warlocks.
  • Very perceptive – Perception proficiency also works great for the stealthy classes making Drow well suited to stealth and subterfuge.

Best classes for a Drow

As alluded to, primarily you’ll want to take advantage of the dexterity and charisma boost. There’re also some other stealth related perks like perception proficiency and the darkness spell.

I’d recommend the following classes for a Drow:

Drow make excellent bards due to the winning combination of dexterity and charisma. Add to that some spells that can be recast with your class spellcasting and an extra skill to be excellent at.

Worst classes for a Drow

Essentially, we’re looking at any classes that aren’t going to want to be investing highly in dexterity or charisma. Fortunately, most classes can work with high dexterity so we’re mostly looking at characters preferring to rely on strength and armor. This is particularly the case for Paladins (though with their preference for charisma and the possibility of high dex low strength builds, this can work).

Wizards and artificers probably suffer more here. They don’t tend to be charisma focused and artificers tend to rely on armor for AC and intelligence for attacks.

Drow appearance

Minthara Baldur's Gate 3

Drow tend to have grey skin that can vary from charcoal black to purplish and blueish grey. Their hair is often white or grey, but other than this, the Drow share the same features as other elves such as pointed ears and slender features.

Drow personality

Most Drow are exceptionally cruel. They despise weakness and punish any display of weakness with exceeding malice. This includes among their own society.

The Drow adhere to a strict matriarchal society. Women are considered superior to men in every way and even the lowliest of women is considered superior to the highest ranking male among. Matron mother’s rule each house with their daughters while males take on roles as soldiers and other menial workers.

Other Elven subraces

While most Drow truly are evil creatures, many despise the cruelty of their culture while others have been raised away from their savage, Underdark society. Such heroic characters include Drizzt do’Urden, the more conflicted Jarlaxle Baenre or even Viconia of the Baldur’s Gate games (though her heroism may be debatable).

Here’re a few ideas for roleplaying a Drow that might also explain why you don’t currently reside in the Underdark:

  • Agent of the Matron Mothers: You are a master of your arts and the pride of your house. You come highly recommended of your Matron Mother and have unrivalled loyalty to your people. You serve as an agent to the Drow, traveling foreign nations for some mission. Choosing your mission will need to both accommodate the needs of the Drow while giving you a plausible reason to be traveling with others. Perhaps you are a spy, seeking items of great magical power or an assassin using the party to accomplish your aims. Ensuring you don’t operate at complete conflict to your party is the challenge here.
  • Escaping the wrath of Lolth: Your loyalty to your house has been questioned and you have been found unworthy in the eyes of Lolth. Barely escaping your home with your life (and your sanity), you have escaped the hostility of the Underdark seeking to make a new life for yourself. Of course, you always live in fear that the Matron Mothers will cast their baleful eye in your direction.
  • Surface outcast: You were born on the surface but you are rarely trusted. Nobody trusts a Drow. Perhaps though, if you can perform deeds of great heroism, you might convince the surfacers of your good intentions.

Other playable races

Published by DM Ben

Ben is an experienced dungeon master and player who's been immersed in the D&D universe since he was a teenager over 20 years ago. When he's not writing for Dungeon Mister, Ben loves creating fiendish puzzles and devious dungeons for his players. He's an especially big fan of the Ravenloft and Dragonlance settings.

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