The Vail - Land of Superior Elf Folk
DeVir, the 4th House of the Underdark
Fourth House of the UnderDark
Dark elves live for several hundred years, and females have the capability to bear children at least every hundred years. Because of this, drow families tend to be larger than those of surface elves, who breed more slowly (either as a function of their greater lifespan as compared to the drow or in some interest in not overpopulating their lands). These large families help relieve the parents of the responsibility of raising the younger children (which is put upon the elder siblings). Rivalries between siblings can be competitive and deadly (as Drizzt’s brothers prove), for just as females are superior to males, firstborn children are superior to those born later.
With their long lifespan, dark elves have the possibility of having several generations within one family alive at the same time. Although this is reduced somewhat because of violence in drow society and the plots of various family members against each other, most commoner families have grandparents and great-grandparents still alive and living with the youngest members of the household. As dark elves remain viable until the last few years (and once they grow feeble they are usually killed), these great-elders are not a burden upon the family and act as their guides, teachers, lorekeepers, and rememberers of old grudges. A very old member of a family is someone to be respected and feared, for they have survived Lolth’s games for centuries, having grown and adapted to thrive in an environment of treachery and chaos.
Drow nobles are slightly different. With more to gain from the elimination of rivals and superiors, there are fewer incidents of multi-generation households among the nobles, and those in power usually keep their own siblings on a tight leash or kill them off. For example, nothing is known of Matron Malice Do’Urden’s aunts or her sisters, all of whom reasonably ought to have been priestesses of significant power. In a family of six siblings, Drizzt knew no other family members except his own father, and only after he had become an adult.
Most drow societies have some sort of noble class, as social station is the most important thing in the world of the drow. In a Lolth-dominated society, the nobility consists of powerful, matriarchal Houses, with females holding all positions of power and responsibility in government, the military, and in the home.
Such Houses are led by a Matron Mother, who is most often the senior female priestess. The Matron’s rule is absolute within the House, enforced by the priestesses beneath her (usually her daughters). All females of the mother’s blood, in order of their age, follow in rank, although they wield no authority until they are trained and of age. The Matron’s position only changes upon her death—often at the hands of her eldest daughter.