~I asked my DM where this came from as he sent it in email to me. I am waiting for his reply if I have to credit it to someone~
DROW RELATIONSHIPS – The Lolthian point of View
In the drow matriarchial society dominated by priestesses of Lolth, relationships carry with them a strong “who’s in charge” element. Needless to say, it’s always the females, and usually the priestesses. There’s a few exceptions* of drow in other societies, but in the typical Underdark Lolth-run society, women are always in charge.
The drow relationship is symbolized by the person who obtains and keeps the item of another. Drow put great emotional significance on the possession of another’s item, it is the way they “symbolize” a relationship.
The drow female who owns one or more males is referred to as “zigh quarval”, or “image of the goddess”. This makes reference to the belief that the males who are owned by and serve a female priestess are also (indirectly) serving the goddess of drow, Lolth. Through time this term has come to apply to all females, not just priestesses of Lolth.
The drow male owned by a woman is referred to as “wiu ste’kol”, or “boy-toy”. This reflects the drow female’s cultural attitude of disrespect and disregard for males by never referring to them as “men”, always referring to them as “boys”. This pervasive attitude is also represented in the way women rank the noble males in their houses : elderboy, secondboy, etc. “Toy” refers to the women never taking relationships seriously … sexual pleasure and a good looking companion on your arm are fine, but a drow priestess would never consider a male her equal.
Even though males are not treated as equals, being owned by a woman is still a desirable state for many. To have a owned male dressed in rags, going hungry or always working to near exhaustion reflects poorly on his owner. The woman who has her male dressed well, fed well, and perhaps even gives him a slave of his own is regarded well by her peers.
Monogamy by choice is mostly unknown in Drow society. The chaotic nature of drow combined with the females lack of respect for males makes it unlikely at best. While a man may have only one owner, a woman may have the items of more then one man. It is a mark of status to females to have more then one well cared for male in her personal “stable”.
Homosexuality is rare in drow society, but not unheard of. The main reason for this is that the teachings of Lolth make it a woman’s holy duty to have as many children as possable in her lifetime. While drow are the most fertile of all the elven races, a birthrate of 10 children over a 500 years lifespan is still low compaired to other races. Homosexuality is usually discreet, and rarely flaunted. Some drow turn to homosexuality as a way to express their sexual preferences that they could not express with the opposite gender. If you’re a submissive woman, you’ed better be a lesbian as no preistess of Lolth will stand by while a woman is submissive to a man. Dominant men usually are homosexual or very discreet.
OBTAINING THE ITEM
Methods of Acquiring the itemIf both parties are noble and if both houses are on good terms, one may consider approaching the Matron Mother or Merchant House Leader directly and offering a donation to obtain the item of the intended party. This is the safest method, as if the item is obtained then it is with the Matron Mother’s blessing.
Often the intended ‘item to be’ is stolen by the new owner. Since not everyone is a thief, this usually involves making some new friends and spreading around a few bribes.
There are also professional “love thieves” – those who use their skills at picking pockets, etc. to obtain items for future intended relationships. It’s a dangerous profession, make no mistake. A love thief caught had better not ever reveal whom has hired him, or not working again will be the least of his worries. However, most times if someone is caught stealing your possessions and you KNOW they are a love thief, it’s a bit easier to discuss the situation with them; as you know they are performing the theft for reasons of a pairing. Some men refuse to let their item be stolen, others accept it and are even a bit flattered at the effort that’s being put out for them. Some professional well-renowned love thieves are on good terms with several houses, and don’t even need to resort to actual item theft, a few words in the right ear and the clink of some coins works just as well for them. Love Thieves are generally used by merchant houses and independants, as nobles most always negotiate for items.
What item should you take?As a rule the more personal the item, the better a choice it is. Monetary value of the item is not important, but the emotional significance is. The more personal and cherished the item is, the more it shows that the female has put forth effort to establish this relationship. For example, it’s much more flattering to have your personal diary stolen and presented to you then it is to have a more valuable but much less meaningful piece of your jewelry.
Taking items of great monetary value is frowned on and rarely done. It’s usually only by the overly dominant, sadistic types who really need to show that they are in charge. After all, if you’re flat broke you may be inclined to ask for the return of your 12,000 gp diamond necklace, no matter how you feel about the relationship.
PRESENTING THE ITEM TO THE MALE
Public vs. Private Presentation
Finally, you have the item of the male you intend to own. Now, the female in possession of the item must choose whether she wishes to present the item to the male publicly or privately.
Public presentations are usually done in the presence of family members. Among the drow noblity, it is also common to have the presentation at a “party” held for such an occassion. Usually the female has already negotiated with the Matron Mother of the house for the male in question and was approved. Payment for the male is common but usually not significant, as drow men are not valued highly (with noteable rare exceptions like Gromph Banere). In some cases the Matron Mother may arrange the securement of the item for an additional fee. The male is usually made aware of the situation by the Matron Mother well before hand, so the actual party and presentation is a formality. Public presentations where no prior negotiantions are made are also done, but usually by those drow females who are very confident of themselves, or feel sure the male will respond positively.
Private presentations are for situations where the female is unsure of how the male will respond, or where the Matron Mother of the house was not consulted first, or for commoners who have no house to make arrangements with. It’s the more respectful way to approach the male, as it gives him the chance to bow out gracefully if he so desires.
Male Accepts His Item Was Taken
If the male accepts his item being taken, he usually performs a submissive gesture to the female. A drow gesture of submission is dropping to one knee with head inclined at the floor, hands weaponless and held out to the sides. The female signals her acceptance by placing her hand(s) on one or both of his shoulders, bidding him to rise.
At this point, the parties then usually have a talk where many things about the relationship are decided. This may or may not be written down into a formal contract, although drow male wizards seem to prefer written guidelines. (Memories do fail and fade with time). Where the couple will live, house duties, financial considerations, future childrearing duties, if the item will be loaned out (ie. the male will be “pimped”), what each brings to the relationship (and for the smart or noble, what each will leave the relationship with) are all detailed.
Although most drow males continue on with their employment or are given jobs in their new house, occassionaly the male may be given a life of relative leasure. It is a symbol of high status to have a male who does not actively work or provide income for the relationship, and one a male wizards hope for. A male wizard in a relationship where he is allowed to pursue as much research and studying as he chooses, as long as he serves his house loyally and keeps his partner happy, is the height of what most drow wizards strive for.
Male Protests His Item Was Taken
If a male politely asks for his item back it is usually returned without fuss, and both parties walk away. Most of the time it simply ends there and is forgotten.
Occassionally the drow female may harbor feelings ranging from mild annoyance to outright rage at her rejection, and may try more political means of achieving her goal. Underhanded dealings, purchasing the male from his Matron Mother without his knowledge or consent, and in extremis the kidnapping of the male in to slavery so the female can “rescue” him with her purchase or laugh at his fate and walk away are all possible reactions of chaotic evil drow priestesses.
Remember again, what happens is also based on the social status of both parties and the status of their respective houses. Someone from a low-ranked house or merchant family would have to be insane to pursue vengance over the rejection of a male from a high ranked council house, esp. if there is reason to believe the Matron Mother of the male’s house would not have approved of the pairing.
“Er, that’s not mine.”
There is a chance that the item in question does not belong to the drow male to whom it is presented. Perhaps the wrong item was stolen by mistake? Perhaps there are many similar items belonging to house members (ie: all houseboys having a house symbol on a standard design ring or other jewelry item), and you may have obtained the item of a brother or other relation in the house. Or perhaps the drow female was just set up.
Note if a Love Thief was responsable for the object procurement then that individual will at best never work again, and will usually be the subject of a priestesses’ unending rage. Hasty relocation may be the best option, as death become a very real possability.
The drow male in question will typically tell the drow female that the item does not belong to him, and may tell her who it does belong to if he knows. “That’s not my ring” he says, removing a glove and holding out his left hand on which he wears an identical ring to the one the drow female is presenting him with, “but I believe my younger brother lost his ring earlier this ride. Our Matron Mother will be most appreciative of you finding his lost property and will wish to thank you.”
In a case like this, it’s embarrassing to the drow woman, as it’s akin to admitting her failure. She will suffer some jeers from her peers, but nothing too serious will come of it. The drow woman should then return the item to the Matron Mother of the house of the true owner. Depending on who she is and who the male is in drow society, and the relations of their two houses many things can happen. Typically she may recieve a small “thank you” token equal to 1/4 the items value for it’s return. If the Matron Mother is insulted or the houses are at odds, the highest insult is to offer a single copper piece as the “finder’s fee”, showing the Matron Mothers disrespect of the female even considering joining her house. If the Matron Mother is pleased or intrigued with the drow female, she may offer to arrange a relationship with another male in the house, or perhaps even with the male that was originally desired. “I regret my son Alton is promised to a priestess from another house already, and is unavailable. Perhaps you may like to meet my son Mourn? He’s studying at Sorcere and becoming quite an accomplished mage.”
Rarely, there is another outcome. Sometimes the drow male may wish to be with the female in question, and perhaps is even dissappointed that she failed to get his item. In this case he has the option to say “That’s not my item, … but I wish it was.”, showing the male wishes to belong to the female in question. 99.9% of drow females will simply return the item and hope for a good finder’s fee and that not too many jokes will be made about them. Rarely, a drow female who wants a man badly enough or who actually cares for him may say “I wish so as well.” Relationships started like this give the man much control, as he can leave at any time by simply saying the item was never his to begin with. However, relationships formed this way are the most likely to be equatable and fair to the drow male, as the woman is literally admitting from the start that she has no power of him and he is there of his free will. A relationship like this is the closest a drow male will get to being considered an equal, and it’s as rare as an unguarded faerzress.
TAKING THE MALE ALREADY OWNED BY ANOTHER
“I’ll take your male!”Sometimes a drow woman finds a male she is interested in who is already owned. It’s common practice to offer to buy the item (and thus the male) from the owner. The item changes hands and the new owner presents the item to her new boy toy, usually with no problems.
Sometimes the owner refuses to sell. If the refusal to sell did not come from a personal hatred/dislike between the two women (or their houses), then it usually has the effect of making the male all the more desirable to the second woman. “Why won’t she sell him? He must be something pretty special!” The second woman still wants to own him, but he is already owned and unavalable for sale/trade.
You can still get your male. This can be done two ways …
The first is to steal or acquire a different item of the male in question. Once presented with the item, he will inform the presenter that he is already owned by someone else, and then go to his original owner to tell her about it. This pretty much results in the two women fighting for the item(s) until the surrender of death of one. This rather violent method is usually only used when there was a problem between the women to begin with, and one was perhaps looking for a way to start a fight. It’s a good way to challenge a woman to a public duel. Some males have even got their items back from their new owner after such a fight. “Nothing personal, it wasn’t really you I was after, I just wanted to (fight/humiliate/kill) Dannyal. Here’s your locket back, you’re free to go now.” This can be either a blessing or a curse, depending on how the male was treated in the former relationship.
The second way is harder to accomplish, but actually has many more options depending on the desired outcome. First you need to steal/obtain the item she holds over him, either personally or through a love thief. Once you have the item, you have the male. From there your options are many …
You could keep the item, present it to the male in question, and demand the former owner bugger off. That results in a dual about as often as it results in the former owner just walking away. Remember again, who is doing this has a huge impact on the old owner’s reaction. After all, if the high priestess wants an acolyte’s man, sometimes it’s better just to let her have him.
You could ransom it back to the owner, threatening to show the boy toy that you now own it if your price is not met. Remember – price isen’t always money, it can be information, council votes, spells, items, anything.
You could destroy the item, either privately or publicly. How much fanfair you put on about the destruction is directly proportional to the emotional pain and humiliation you will cause the couple. This is a source of huge emotional pain to the both members in the couple, but also a humiliation of the woman. “What’s wrong with you that you couldn’t even keep my ring/diary/item safe?” Needless to say, no matron mother will be very eager to hear of the woman having an interest in her family member after she had let an item of her male’s be destroyed, and no male will be eager to be owned by a woman who has that happen to an item in her possession. When the item is destroyed the male is free to leave.
Though rarely done, there is another option available as well. You could also return the item to the male in question. This is mostly done by family members who are dissatisfied or unhappy with the way the male is being treated by his new owner, and want to give him a chance to leave gracefully. This also shows the male a great deal of respect from the returning party. Once in possession of his item again, the male then has the power to choose what happens to the relationship. He could show his old owner the item and leave the relationship, and his former owner would be humiliated. He could also choose to stay with her and re-negotiate their deal for better terms for himself, perhaps getting less or no work, more of an allowance, etc. Either way, once a situation like that happens it shifts the balance of power in the relationship to the male’s favor.
ENDING THE RELATIONSHIP
Moving OnA woman can end the relationship at any time by simply returning the item to the male. This is the kindest and most polite way to end a relationship, and thus it’s usually not done in the sadistic matriarchial society of the drow.
More commonly, she can also sell/trade/gift the item to another, in which case the male is now presented with the item from it’s new owner.
Males who wish to end the relationship have it tougher. They can ask for the item back directly, which rarely works. More typically they could offer to buy the item back, which is subject to the whims of the owner at the moment. They could hire a love thief to steal it back, and once in possession of their item again they are free to leave.
There is also the last ditch resort of desperate males who feel they must get out of the relationship at any cost. There is always the option of giving up their claim to the item and walking away … simply by saying “Fine, it’s yours, I don’t want it anymore.” and walk away. This is where the item chosen to symbolize the relationship becomes of extreme significance. When an item of great monetary value is chosen, it has the unfortunate side effect of putting a “price” on leaving the relationship. When an item of emotional significance is chosen, it’s harder to walk away from. After all, it may be easier to leave behind a 5000 gp gem then it is to leave behind your personal diary. It’s a cheezy way to end a relationship, and not often used, but for the males in abusive or physically threatening relationships it may be the only way out.