All the cool drow are purple now
All the cool drow are purple now

In my headcannon, drow are purple and blue cause they’ve adapted to have beneficial fungus/microbes in their skin that make their skin cooler and therefore harder to spot by things with heat vision, and the fungus makes them fun colors.

News: Posted February 13th, 2020 by Alina

^ 33 Comments to “All the cool drow are purple now”

  1. Felix Magister Says:

    My headcanon is that dark elves come in a variety of shades, from jet black to cave-dweller palid, not excluding various fun shades of indigo and violet as a possibility- with the underdark as full of exciting magical radiations as it is, all sorts of mutations are bound to occur, and nearly anything is possible, so long as it is obviously unnatural. Dark refers to native environment rather than appearance.

    [Frankly, I’m not sure the evil matriarchy thing isn’t at least as problematic as the evil dark-skin thing, but, I’m not really qualified to comment from experience.]

    Posted February 14th, 2020 at 9:04 pm
  2. Robin Bobcat Says:

    NERO changed their dark elf race, the Drae, to have blue or purple skin, as opposed to black. They also changed the ‘Gypsy’ race to ‘Gadabari’.

    Posted February 14th, 2020 at 10:37 pm
  3. Jess Says:

    As a person of colour, I find Hadeed’s expressions in panels 2 & 3 really on point. The “sigh… here we go again…” “do I want to fight this battle today… am I up for fighting this battle today…” “will it ruin my day more to speak up about it or to stay quiet…”

    It makes me really glad to see Sarah doing the majority of the speaking up. As an ally, other white people are more likely to listen to her rather than dismissing her comments as “You’re just too sensitive” or other such rubbish… After a lifetime of being told in a hundred small ways that most people don’t see me as Australian as my white friends – all of us born and raised here – you bet I am sensitive to the subtler forms of racism that they don’t notice.

    Everyone knows that calling people racial slurs is not okay. And since everyone knows that – racism frequently gets expressed in more subtle ways instead. I think plenty of people don’t understand that the experience of being a PoC rarely involves being called racial slurs – instead it involves a hundred small ways in which people make you feel like you don’t belong here (in this country where you were born and you’ve lived in your whole life). At least that’s been my experience in Australia.

    Posted February 14th, 2020 at 11:54 pm
  4. General Tekno Says:

    So reading this made me wonder – to what extent is it the default option in media to make characters with dark black skin have purple/blue skin in order to dodge real life racial issues?

    (For instance, Jynx from Pokemon or the original DBZ Funimation dub Mr Popo.)

    I sorta wonder I guess how much of a dodge it is if everyone makes the same dodge.

    Posted February 15th, 2020 at 12:38 am
  5. Sebbaa Says:

    If I were to change to old jet-black Drow, I would ditch the alignment for the whole race.
    Then again, if I were to redesign D&D, I would ditch alignment all together.

    Posted February 15th, 2020 at 5:52 am
  6. Sezoxeufu Says:

    In my d&d and such, the drow are almost transparent, like cave spiders, and the idea they’re black, purple or blue is a misconception because that’s the colour of the tattooing they get to allow them to leave the underdark, leading to shock in the party when one is bright red.

    Posted February 15th, 2020 at 7:00 am
  7. Rémi Beaulieu-Dubé Says:

    now I find myself googling “what colour would animals that live in total darkness evolve for camouflage”. Cuz drow that look pale like naked mole rats don’t vibe with me so I like the camouflage headcanon.

    Posted February 15th, 2020 at 11:02 am
  8. Shauku Says:

    How come drow who lives underground without sunlight would be black? Most of things which lives in caves are white.

    Posted February 15th, 2020 at 11:42 am
  9. Halosty Says:

    Drow had blue skin as far back as Baldur’s Gate II (not sure about I). That’s 20 years ago, and my first exposure to drow… but I suppose the Drizzt books had another decade before that and there were the descriptions before then.
    Honestly, most D&D races need some updates. Why do humans have all varieties of skin colors but halflings don’t seem to? Eventually they all got racial variants that changed stats (though humans are still usually the same except in setting-specific versions). For some reason though monster races (orcs, goblins, etc) are all the same except the especially evil versions that go from green skin to black usually.

    Posted February 15th, 2020 at 1:51 pm
  10. Joe Says:

    Frankly, when we were started in D&D, me and my group always pictured drow as PALER elves (NOT albino). The lived underground and were VERY vulnerable to sunlight (back then, they lost their OP 50% magic resistance in direct sunlight), so it made sense they had no skin protection. It still makes sense to me to this day.

    Posted February 15th, 2020 at 2:17 pm
  11. Daniel S. Mountain Says:

    Joel’s been a DM for far too long.

    Posted February 15th, 2020 at 2:20 pm
  12. Thulcandran Says:

    Joel . . . shadows aren’t black either. Dark blue, grey, and purple are the colors of twilight and dusk, which make WAY more sense and – bonus! – aren’t incredibly racist!

    Posted February 15th, 2020 at 5:46 pm
  13. HousePet Says:

    *totally ignoring the racism/lore/head-canon discussion and focusing on picking who is playing which character* 😀

    Posted February 15th, 2020 at 6:39 pm
  14. Necrisha Says:

    I went a similar route with Drow- explaining it as they’ve got no need for the pigmentation that usually acts as a sunblock, so unless the Drow- were in a region where having extremely dark skin helped camouflage them they’d have a spectrum between flat Grey’s to more in the cool blue to mauve range due to hyper low pigmentation in the skin. After all there’s not much need for colour coding with darkvision.

    Posted February 16th, 2020 at 4:10 pm
  15. WhitehawkOmega Says:

    I’ll be honest, it never really occurred to me that drow were racist, but I never really thought of the race as inherently evil, just you know, a culture heavily influenced by a corrupt totalitarian matriarchy. In my own campaign I originally had my drow as albino living in a Mirkwood-like forest where no light reaches. When I went from I think 3rd to 4th, and the base cosmology shifted, I had a cataclysm affect my world, my drow had a population explosion, and were forced to move underground for more living space leaving only the nobility in their ancestral forest, I reasoned giving them dark skin (beacause I was tired of having to explain all the eccentricities of my world to everyone) by having their ascendant god-queen merge her divine form with a primordial of darkness (an effect of the cataclysmic event.)

    Posted February 16th, 2020 at 10:06 pm
  16. Skruddgemire Says:

    My problem with the Drow is how some cons are taking it to the illogical extreme. The cons that I regularly attend and am staff for have banned the Drow as a cosplay. Saying that even utilizing a blue or a purple facepaint is just as bad and as racist as blackface.

    The joke is going to be on the con however. A friend of mine whose natural skintone is as dark as it gets (he is naturally as close to true black as is humanly possible) is going this year as an elf since all he has to do is wear a fair-colored flowing wig and toss on the ears.

    I can’t wait until someone tells him he can’t be a drow. His prepared response is “I’m not a drow. I’m Cosplaying a Lian Warder from Darda Galion (elven ranger) from Dennis L. McKiernan’s Mithgar series of books. Are you saying that I can’t cosplay an elf because I’m black?”

    Posted February 17th, 2020 at 8:59 am
  17. kittenkupkake Says:

    Honestly it never would have even occurred to me that there was anything racist about Drow, it’s a fantasy race. Is it somehow less racist if they were pale white skinned elves (as would be more accurate I would think, at least looking at real animals that live in total darkness) living underground without access to sunlight? Might be kind of cool if they had flashing bits to lure things to them though…

    Posted February 17th, 2020 at 4:22 pm
  18. Lord V Says:

    So previously the characters always looked somewhat like the players so we could easily tell who plays whom. Now we have to guess which is kind of advanced level isn’t it? We now know who Abbie and Sarah are. I’m going to say Dustin is the female Barbarian and Hadeed is the Dragonborn.

    Posted February 17th, 2020 at 4:49 pm
  19. Eva Says:

    Ok, so if the purple one is Sarah’s character I’m going to guess the barbarian lady is Dustin and the dragon person must be Hadeed? (is that spelled right, I’m never sure how to spell newer characters’ names)

    Posted February 17th, 2020 at 4:52 pm
  20. IRuffian Says:

    Ok here’s the thing I don’t get. Drow aren’t black skinned in the way that humans are as far back as I can remember they had purple highlights in art. But even if you make them lighter purple they are still an all evil race with darker skin than “white” humans. So aren’t they still just as “racist?”

    Posted February 17th, 2020 at 9:59 pm
  21. Marika Oniki Says:

    Joel has been doing the DM thing for how long? And hasn’t seen any depiction of Drow that weren’t pitch-black? Hhhhoooow. Like, I can remember looking up the specific term “Drow” nearly *twenty years ago* and there were plenty of grey, dark blue or dark purple depictions of them.

    Posted February 18th, 2020 at 2:48 am
  22. This Page Intentionally Blank Says:

    As IRuffian said, this argument seems like slapping a coat of paint on the problem, and doesn’t address the meat of the issue – you’ve still got a whole subset of people who, purely by accident of birth, are considered intrinsically evil. How does giving them a palette swap correct this?

    Posted February 18th, 2020 at 9:25 am
  23. Rodney J Whited Jr Says:

    >.> drow are not evil because of their skin color, or their race, they’re evil because of their society and religion. The entire Drizzt series shows that they are not inherently evil, just raised that way. If changing the color from a black (that is impossible for humans to have) to a purple (that is just as impossible) makes people feel better, thats fine i guess.

    Posted February 18th, 2020 at 11:35 am
  24. Pistonrage Says:

    @Halosty Space restraints mostly, Humans are mostly the same physically a splash of culture doesn’t actually change the limits of humanity much. Regional variations do seem to occur in non human races far easier, from gully dwarves to desert orcs, elves tend toward the same drastic changes based on location and society. I’d suggest that the more stark differences in the variant non human races is due to them being less generally adventurous than humans. Most races are listed as Homebodies or actively Xenophobic, so there is little impetus to travel to foreign places to make themselves ubiquitous.

    Posted February 18th, 2020 at 11:48 am
  25. Guthlac the Old Says:

    Posted February 18th, 2020 at 11:50 am
  26. LongShot Says:

    I love the comic you are as always awesome!!!
    I need you to get back to Mark. I want to know what happens to him.
    you make such excellent characters and compelling story line.

    Posted February 18th, 2020 at 12:33 pm
  27. Wildstag Says:

    I always assumed the Dark Elf dark skin thing was based off of Norse myth, where there really wasn’t a racial connotation to the skin tone of the elves, but rather represented a typical “black/white-dark/light-evil/good” dichotomy.

    Cast in a modern political climate it could be considered a less acceptable thing, but context should be taken into consideration.

    And besides, dark (brown-skinned) elves already exist and have been considered good. Heck, even dating back to 3.5, Wild and Wood elves are described as having dark brown skin, and most of the elf characters in Forgotten Realms are Wood or Moon elves, which leaves an even mix of representation. It’s not uncommon for other races to have darker-skinned hues as well. Dwarves in 3.5 are typically “deep tan or light brown”, and the player race version (shield dwarves) are basically an “all good” race.

    In theory, half of the Wood/Wild elves in FE artwork should be darker skinned, and it’s up to the artists and unconscious bias that is to blame.

    Posted February 18th, 2020 at 2:46 pm
  28. Beth Says:

    I love this SO MUCH.

    Posted February 19th, 2020 at 2:44 pm
  29. spleen23 Says:

    To me, drow portrayed as dark brown, grey, purple and such was done from early on so not to make them more politically correct, but because solid black skin is hard to draw so it shows any features.
    Also, I never saw drow as evil becasue the’re black, but instead black because they were evil and solid black skin is harder to see in the dark, making it easier for them to sneak around to do things like ambush people.
    Also black is just plain cool, no real drow is going to trade in thier “black as darkness” skin for anything else, purple is a flower color, blue is smurfs and gray just means a drow isn’t feeling well.

    Posted February 19th, 2020 at 3:16 pm
  30. ShuxTehUber Says:

    My favourite setting Eberron wins again.

    Good Drow, Chromatic Dragons and Demons/Devils/Vampires.
    Evil elves, Metallic Dragons and Angels.

    Along with the usual alignments and everywhere between. Nothing needs to be what it seems at first glance.

    Posted February 20th, 2020 at 7:46 am
  31. N0083rP00F Says:

    A divergence from pure D&D but not that much. I have been playing a Ravenloft Horror by Gaslight campaign for a few years now [since ’96 – lords above it’s been a long haul]
    At the table there was zero stigma about stereotypes and if there was it was quickly addressed in the most diplomatic way possible. There were only two or three notable incidents and those resulted in security escorts for said offenders since Trolls will be Trolls no matter where you go.
    As for the adventures themselves the historical prejudices and sexism levels were toned down, dully noted, but only ever came to the fore except for notable local or NPC reactions & prejudices to illustrate the time period historically.
    It was always a delicate dance to say the least.

    Posted February 20th, 2020 at 1:14 pm
  32. Meadblondie Says:

    “In my headcannon, drow are purple and blue cause they’ve adapted to have beneficial fungus/microbes in their skin that make their skin cooler and therefore harder to spot by things with heat vision, and the fungus makes them fun colors. ”

    I SOOOOO much love this <3 as a noobie gamer 15 years ago i was like everyone else already pointed out "wow they live in the pitchblack why should they have melatonin" it then changed to "huh, so their skin is pitchblack for camouflage"

    till it dawned on me that a color is no camouflage where there is not even a spark of light in the vast tunnels and caverns of the underdark where natural and monsterous animals evolved and adapted their senses. I still can feel the memory of that atomic facepalm when this epiphany hit me, even more than 10 years later ^^°

    in my head the adaptions to this biome, mostly by loths magic I prsumed, was what caused the stereotypical drow appearence, back then seeing nothing wrong with it, but you always grow wiser and more compassionate with years, I guess.

    your headcanon dear Alina just fixed something my little nerdy inner Volcan was always bothered by. – Thank you! ;*

    Posted February 20th, 2020 at 2:57 pm
  33. The Drow are not irredeemably evil. The followers of Illastraee exist for that very reason. To give the Drow who ARE evil a chance at redemption.

    Posted February 21st, 2020 at 2:38 pm