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Pathfinder ejects Drow from official lore, says too “deeply enmeshed” in D&D identity

Golarion’s Darklands will trade spider-worshipping elves for snake people.

Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

Pathfinder is evicting Drow from its official lore, according to designers of the fantasy tabletop RPG. The publisher, Paizo, announced the news during a panel at last week’s PaizoCon Online 2023, claiming that the classic fantasy race was too tightly bound to Dungeons & Dragons’ cultural identity.

Creative director James Jacobs outlined the plan as part of the “Into the Darklands” panel last Friday, saying that the massive area underneath Golarion - Pathfinder’s main setting - has always been important but borrows much from D&D’s Underdark that should be altered in a post-Open Gaming Licence world.

Paizo recently announced plans to separate its official material from D&D’s OGL after Wizards of the Coast drew the ire of players and creators earlier this year with a series of licensing debacles. Dubbed the Pathfinder Second Edition Remaster Project, the initiative will culminate in four new books but also include intermittent changes such as carving Drow out of the official lore.

Pathfinder's Darklands has more in common with Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom than you might think.Watch on YouTube

Drow in the Darklands will be largely replaced with Serpentfolk, a reptilian race that will fill the narrative role of villains in published adventures staged beneath the ground. Other races, such as Pathfinder’s version of duergar and deep gnomes will appear as morally good (or at least neutral) societies, alongside a more fleshed out and distinct version of cavern elves. Old Drow cities will become serpentfolk settlements or the setting for deeper mysteries, and the upcoming Rage of Elements sourcebook will begin to explore this new version in greater detail.

Jacobs said the team initially considered reinterpreting the Drow but found the brooding, matriarchal people with a penchant for spider aesthetics “so deeply enmeshed” in D&D and its works that they felt more confident in starting fresh. The argument holds water when you consider the legacy and continued popularity of R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt Do’Urden stories and Drow more generally. The fictional ranger appeared on Magic: The Gathering Cards last year and still has some cultural cache amongst enfranchised D&D players.

Other parts of the OGL will likely survive the Remaster Project in full or with a bit of creative massaging from the design team. Jacobs said that existing Drow characters and homebrew campaigns should feel free to continue using them in Pathfinder 2E games, but players shouldn’t expect to see them crop up in official adventure paths or other published material anytime soon.

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