“The only real difference between an ally and an enemy is that one deserves a quick death.” —Dark Elf aphorism
I love the Drow. While I’d prefer not to meet one in person and probably wouldn’t survive long in their society, there’s something charmingly evil and delightfully Draconian about their culture in terms of both character and world-building. Though an extremely powerful race, their Darwinian sense of survival and Machiavellian political machinations keep them constantly at war with each other, keeping their threat to the surface races fairly minimal and typically brief.
One of my troubles with the Dark Elves has to do with their hyper-sexualized portrayal. Yes, I get that they’re a depraved, sexually prolific race. Okay, fine if artists and storytellers want to portray them as dominatrices in the bedchambers. It’s when that portrayal gets extended to the battlefield that bothers me. The Drow live in the frigging Underdark, for Pete’s sake. Most of the creatures there have poison claws and spew acid. Since elves aren’t born with a hide like an Umber Hulk, I guarantee Drow warriors and assassins are going to need major protection when they venture into battle. Regardless of how powerful the character, battling Illithid and Beholders while wearing just a leather bikini comes across as self-destructively incompetent.
While I won’t argue against seduction as a viable and effective method of assassination, it’s become so commonplace throughout storytelling as to be really kind of cliché. This is part of the reason I’m generally drawn to smart portraits of non-revealingly dressed lady assassins. Donnie’s charming murderess was a genuinely refreshing find amid the barely-dressed Drow populating DeviantArt’s galleries. From her earnest expression to Spider-Man-like pose, our assassin carries an air of competent deadliness in her every move.
Though they’re not camouflaged, as such, I like that her clothes are dark and non-reflective. This helps her blend with the shadows, without sacrificing her ability to blend with the crowd. Her sleeveless leather coat travels well and should offer fair protection in a knife fight. Additionally, I suspect it has plenty of places to stash poisons, potions, infiltration tools, or extra weapons. Her torso is further protected by a violet padded shirt and loose corset, perhaps offering reasonable deflection in light melee. Our assassin’s sleeves are blue-grey silk, loose to offer unhindered movement without risk of snagging on things.
Our pretty Drow wears light gloves to protect her hands when climbing or knife-fighting, and flexible enough for unhindered blade-handling. Her boots are thigh-highs, made from light, flexible leather, and are not high heels. These offer protection when climbing or fighting, and should keep her safe and dry during rainy assassinations or when hunting prey who thinks his moat will keep her out. The ruffles at her collar and cuffs are… odd, given their chance to snag on things when scaling walls or skulking through brambles. But they may be important enough to local fashion to identify her as an outsider if she goes without them.
Our comely killer’s weapons of choice are a dagger and either a broadsword or rapier. While the sword might normally be an adventurer’s main weapon, I suspect it serves as a backup for Donnie’s assassin. Likely she uses the knife for a quick, clean kill, relying on the longer blade only when forced into melee combat. If you look close, you can see the green poison coating her dagger. Drow are known to coat their arrows and knives with various debilitating poisons, and I suspect our villainess here has something particularly nasty in store for her target.
Massive thanks to Donnie for letting me borrow his Dark Elf for the blog. As always, thanks so much for reading, folks! Take care and stay awesome!