The drow made their first statistical appearance in Hall of the Fire Giant King in the Hellfurnace Mountains of the Dungeons & Dragons World of Greyhawk campaign setting at the end of the module, and received a lengthy writeup. The history of the drow within the game is revealed; in ages past, the elves were torn by discord and warfare, driving out from their surface lands their selfish and cruel members, who sought safety in the underworld. These creatures, later known as the “dark elvenfolk” or drow, grew strong in the arcane arts over the centuries and content with their gloomy fairyland beneath the earth, though they still bear enmity towards and seek revenge against their distant kin, the elves and faeries who drove them down. They are described as chaotic evil in alignment, and highly intelligent. They are described as black-skinned and pale haired in appearance, around 5-feet tall and slight of build with somewhat sharp features, with large eyes and large pointed ears. Their equipment (magical boots and cloaks, and fine mesh armor similar to chainmail) is black in color and described as being empowered by exposure to the strange radiations of the Drow homeland, losing this power and eventually falling apart when exposed to direct sunlight and kept from the radiation for too long. Females are inherently more powerful than males, and only females may be clerics or fighter/clerics; male drow are commonly fighters, magic-users, or both classes at once. Drow move silently and with a graceful quickness, even when wearing their armor, and blend into shadows with ease. They carry long daggers and short swords of an adamantite alloy and small one-handed crossbows which shoot darts carrying a poison that causes unconsciousness. Drow are difficult to surprise as they are able to see very well in the dark, have an intuitive sense about their underground world similar to that of dwarves, and can detect hidden or secret doors as easily as other elves do. Drow are highly resistant to magic, while all drow have the ability to use some inherent magical abilities even if they are not strictly spellcasters. The module also reveals that there are rumors of vast caverns housing whole cities of drow which exist somewhere deep beneath the earth, and now that the drow have dwelled in these dark labyrinthe places they dislike daylight and other forms of bright light as it hampers their abilities. They are able to communicate using a silent language composed of hand movements, and when coupled with facial and body expression, movement, and posture, this form of communication is the equal of any spoken language.
The Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game’s second edition product Monstrous Compendium Volume Two describes the world of the drow, where violent conflict is part of everyday life, so much so that most drow encountered are ready for a fight. Their inherent magic use comes from training in magic, which all drow receive. Not long after the creation of the elves, they were torn into rival factions, one evil and one good; after a great civil war, those who followed the path of evil and chaos were driven far from the world’s forests and into the bleak, lightless caverns and tunnels of the underworld. Most creatures who live on the surface have never met a drow, but those who have seen a drow city report nightmarish buildings constructed of stone and minerals, carved into weird, fantastic shapes. Drow society is fragmented into opposing noble houses and merchant families, and they base their rigid class system on the belief that the strongest should rule. Female drow tend to fill many positions of great importance, with priests of the dark goddess Lolth holding a very high place in society. Drow fighters are required to go through rigorous training in their youth, and those who fail are put to death. Drow use giant lizards as pack animals, use bugbears and troglodytes as servants, and have alliances with many of the underworld’s evil inhabitants such as mind flayers. Drow constantly war with other underground neighbors such as dwarves and dark gnomes (svirfneblin), and keep slaves of all types – including allies who fail to live up to drow expectations. The Complete Book of Elves by Colin McComb focuses some of its attention on the drow. The Elfwar is presented, an elven myth in which the elves were one people until the Spider Queen Lolth used the dissent among the elves to gain a foothold; the elves of Lolth took the name Drow to signify their new allegiance, but as they massed to conquer the other elves, Corellon Larethian and his followers drove Lolth and her people deep into the earth, where they chose to remain. The dark elves who became the drow were originally simply elves who held more with the tenets of might than those of justice, and as they quested for power they became corrupted and turned against their fairer brethren. Dark elves rarely produce half-elves, as they would slaughter any fool who trusts them. Drow infravision is described as so intense that their eyes actually radiate heat; therefore, a character viewing a drow through infravision would see two burning eyes atop a normally glowing torso. Any elf character of good or neutral alignment, even drow, is allowed into the realm of Arvanaith where elves go upon reaching old age. The book notes that drow player characters have a large number of benefits while suffering few disadvantages, but that “the major disadvantage to being a drow is being a drow.” Drow characters are extraordinarily dexterous and intelligent, but have the typically low elf constitution; also, their personalities are described as grating at best, and all other elves hate the drow which affects their reactions to a drow character.