Poetic License

I have to start this post this way, so bear with me.  If any of my players are reading this (and I know you guys do) there will be spoilers. I repeat, spoiler alert.  Okay, on to the post.

When I was in college, I had this joke where when I butchered English and someone called me out on it, because I was an English Major, I’d tell them I’d earned the right because I had a ‘poetic license’.  I almost showed a gullible few the card.  For those not familiar with the concept, poetic license is the changing or tweaking of the rules of grammar in order to improve a piece artistically.

I’ve applied this concept to Dungeons and Dragons to great success.  As a DM, I love breaking conventions.  I love presenting well known monsters and situations to my players in ways they’d never expect.  Altered powers and abilities, races living in a completely different way from any other setting, new looks, these are the sorts of things I do.  One thing I’ve always liked about Eberron as a setting is the unorthodox approach it takes to the well known races.  Some are the same, dwarves are mountainfolk for example, while others are very different, elves live in the jungle and have temples where they worship they’re honored dead.

I think the best example of this (and one of my favorite races) is the drow.

In most settings, drow are elves, corrupted by dark forces, living in vast underground cities with a brutal slave based lifestyle.  In Eberron, drow are elves corrupted hundreds of years ago by the rampant magics of the giants.  They live in a brutal, tribal society that worships spirits.  While I like this idea, I decided against it.  I knew that the players who knew the setting well would be expecting drow and decided to change things.

The drow in my Eberron are raiders, using massive airships to gather loot and slaves.  Few have ever seen them.  There are elven legends and folklore about the ‘black storms’ but the players know nothing about the cause or consequences.  The reason for this is because the drow airships, known as ‘storm arks’ are surround by arcane storms of darkness.

I told this plan to someone outside of my campaign and he looked at me for a bit and then said ‘that doesn’t work.  Drow don’t do that.’  He then couldn’t come up with a coherent reason why drow shouldn’t be storm controlling air raiders.  Then I knew that I’d done exactly what I wanted to.

I used my poetic license to change a race and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.


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