Dark elves, were elves, known as Ssri-tel-quessir in the elven tongue, and were the ancestors of the drow. The two terms were oftentimes used interchangeably, even by elves (Tel-quessir) themselves.
Dark elves had dark brown skin, as opposed to the ebony skin that drow presently have. They also may have had black hair instead of white and no darkvision. Dark elves were also not tainted with Wendonai's blood.
Roughly, twenty-seven millennia before the raising of the Standing Stone, the Fey creator race opened gates to the Feywild in an effort to undermine the ruling dragon empires. Through these portals, the first elves immigrated to Toril. These primitive green elves worship the Faerie gods (not the Seldarine, which were unknown at this time). Although most green elves were content to remain in small scattered tribes, one group known as the Ilythiiri, negotiated a truce with dragonkind and began carving out a small kingdom in the south. The great Ilythiir capital at Atorrnash would remain a shining beacon of elf culture for millennia.
Wendonai was a balor lord who, in -11500 DR was tasked by Lolth to seduce the Sethomiir clan, rulers of the Ilythiiri into her worship and grant them evil magics. He succeeded and was probably the greatest (but by no means the only) influence on the fall of the dark elves.
In -10500 DR, during the Crown Wars, the High Mages of Aryvandaar cast a fell high magic ritual that completely destroyed the dark elven nation of Miyeritar in an event called the Dark Disaster, changing that realm into a large swampy expanse known as the High Moor.
During the Crown Wars, the Ilythiiri made several unsuccessful attempts to conquer Faerûn (although they conquered Southern Faerûn up to Shantel Othreier), and at the time of the Fourth Crown War, they turned to Lloth and the other outcast Seldarine in the Demonweb Pits who gave them powerful magic and fiendish allies as a reward for allegiance. After many malicious acts and abuses of elven magic, Corellon Larethian banished the "Dhaerow" (traitors) whom Lolth used to be responsible for (and most of whom still secretly worshiped her) to the Underdark. It was at this time that all dark elves were physically transformed into drow, their skin becoming much darker.
In 1374 DR, Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun brought together many powerful mages in order to restore the denizens of the lost city of Miyeritaar's High Mages and cleanse part of the High Moor. In order to make the magic permanent, he and the Grand Mage Ualair the Silent sacrificed their lives to restore Rhymanthiin, the Hidden City of Hope.
Later, Q'arlynd Melarn managed (through a High Magic spell, with the aid of Eilistraee, although only initially, since the goddess would withdraw her guidance during the course of the ritual) to transform those drow who took up Eilistraee's dance back to their ancestral physiology as dark elves and they physically reverted to their brown-skinned dark elf form. Drizzt was not among those "redeemed dark elves," and his skin remained ebony because only followers of the Dark Dancer were affected by the High Magic spell. However, as of the 1490s DR, post Second Sundering, the returned goddess Eilistraee still had many drow followers despite a century of absence. Considering that the transformed drow were less than one thousand, and that the Dark Maiden, as a lesser power, had at least a few thousands of followers, Q'arlynd's spell didn't in fact affect all of Eilistraee's followers.[note 1]
- ↑ Q'arlynd meant to affect all of the Dark Maiden's followers (and the transformation would be forced upon them), but it didn't. Considering Eilistraee's ideals of acceptance; that--in over 10,000 years--Eilistraee has never once acted or suggested the idea of such a change; and that her main goal has always been to help the drow rediscover the kind of life that they had lost, and to establish the drow as rightful, non-evil citizens of the surface world, it might be that the goddess interfered with the ritual in order to give its recipients a choice to embrace the transformation or not. As per "Demihuman Deities" she is known to be always gentle and to never force choices on the drow, to help the find their own path. For that reason, forcing a physical change of this kind would certainly be unlike her.
- ↑ Brian R. James (2009-02-19). The one and only "Ask the Realms authors/developers thread". Archived from the original on 2012-10-06. Retrieved on 2012-10-06.
- ↑ Reynolds, Forbeck, Jacobs, Boyd (March 2003). Races of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 27. ISBN 0-7869-2875-1.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 29. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 Richard Baker, Ed Bonny, Travis Stout (February 2005). Lost Empires of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 52. ISBN 0-7869-3654-1.
- ↑ Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 43. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 Steven E. Schend and Kevin Melka (1998). Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves. (TSR, Inc), p. 31. ISBN 0-7069-0761-4.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 Lisa Smedman (June 2008). Ascendancy of the Last. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0-7869-4864-2.
- ↑ Kim Mohan ed. (2015). Sword Coast Adventurer's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 23, 108. ISBN 978-0786965809.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (2016-06-07). Death Masks. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-6593-2.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd, Erik Mona (May 2002). Faiths and Pantheons. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 0-7869-2759-3.