Social Class

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Social Class

Post by Admin on Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:38 am

Despite its members being born of chaos, drow society is governed by a deeply entrenched hierarchy. Each drow divides everyone else—including other drow—into three categories.

Those with more power, who must be appeased and placated (at least until they can be replaced).
Those who are useful to one’s own advancement, who must be exploited in all ways possible.
The weak, who are worthless except as labor or disposable troops.

As drow see it, each day is a new chance to improve your station or to eliminate those in your way.


The number of Qu’ellaren within Menzoberranzan is estimated at somewhere between sixty and seventy. All of these Noble Houses have their own royalties. The royal family is usually composed of the Matron Mother, her daughters, her patron and her sons. Within any Noble House the Matron Mother’s command is law, therefore she can include or exclude anyone she wishes as a member of the royal family. The royalties of Menzoberranzan’s minor houses are often not afforded much respect by the nobilities of the greater Houses but it is wise to determine an individual house’s alliances before disparaging a particular House’s royalty.


The nobility of a Noble House is usually composed of the Matron Mother’s extended family; that is her sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. Again, it is the Matron who decides who is considered nobility or not. The ‘Great Game’ of Menzoberranzan refers to the constant battling between the noble Houses for increases in their station and rank. The traditional way is to destroy an opposing House yet this must be done within one night and leave no witnesses. For an attack on another House to be successful the aggressor House has to ensure that all of a House’s nobility and royalty (the only credible witnesses) are exterminated. This is a relatively easy matter for the many minor houses at the bottom of the ladder since they are young, poor, not very populous and have very small royalties and nobilities. Also with these small Qu’ellaren there is a greater incentive for members of their regal or noble classes to either form their own house, be adopted by a more powerful House or take the more traditional route and arrange a change of Matron. This chaotic world of emerging, disappearing and changing Qu’ellaren ossifies at the high end of Menzoberranyr society. Here there is a greater gain in remaining a noble or a minor royal since the increase in personal station is much greater. Also it becomes much more difficult to exterminate all of a great House’s royalty and nobility in one night.


Those citizens of Menzoberranzan not directly associated with a Noble House are called commoners. The majority of Menzoberranyr drow are commoners. They are free to go wherever they want, since they are houseless, unless it is into territory owned by a Noble House, Tier Breche or other such areas designated off-limits. The majority of the owners of drinking pits, shops, massage houses or bazaar stalls are commoners; although all of them pay at least one of the Noble Houses for protection (officially called buying a trade licence.) The majority of Merchant company/guild members are commoners as are members of the criminal gangs and the mercenary companies. There are lots of non-drow commoners as well. These are either visitors, traders and their attendants from other cities or they have chosen to settle in Menzoberranzan, or they are the descendents of such settlers. Life in Menzoberranzan is difficult enough for a drow at the best of times. Non-drow have it tougher since drow take such a prejudiced view of them. Commoners are free from the hierarchy and can fit in virtually anywhere. As a commoner, a character doesn’t have the same pressures as a character associated with a house. Some drow say that life as a commoner is more fun since commoners are at the bottom of the ladder and there isn’t any fierce competition to take such positions. However, commoners still have to protect their food, gold, lodgings and clothes. And many are associated with organisations that behave exactly like the Noble Houses, such as Merchant guilds, criminal gangs, mercenary companies and shops.


These are the servitor class within a noble house and form, by far, the largest class of the three social groups that live in the Qu’ellaren. Many of them live within a Noble House’s walls and all benefit from the Qu’ellar’s protection. In return, they serve the Qu’ellar in various ways. A Noble House’s soldiers, merchants, heralds (bards), slavers, assassins, and so on are all members of the servant class. Within each occupation there is the usual competition for increase in station and personal power. Some servants, although unlikely to be ever awarded noble or higher status still command respect as a consequence of the power they wield. Like the nobility and royalty, servants predominantly owe their continued station to the Matron and she has absolute authority over them. Although the number of servants in the great Qu’ellaren can number in the high hundreds or even thousands, servants should still remember the Matron’s absolute authority and not think themselves ‘invisible’ to her gaze.


The Slave class is predominantly made up of the goblinoid races, orcs in the armies and goblins in the domestic roles. Their lives are short, brutal and harsh and their deaths are usually very entertaining for the drow who kill them. Non-drow commoners can be readily enslaved if they have no visible means of income or they look poor. It is illegal in Menzoberranzan to enslave a Menzoberranyr drow, although the lives of many drow are actually little better than slave’s. Non-Menzoberranyr drow can be enslaved (called battlecaptives) however most are sacrificed to Lolth.

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