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The Dark Maiden beckons: On the drow goddess Eilistraee and her Faith

The Dark Maiden beckons: On the drow goddess Eilistraee and her Faith

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Update 11: Added a section on Eilistraeen orders in the main document. Added lore and mechanics for the Silverhair Knights.

Rewrote the Channel Divnity and the lv 17 features of the Sword Dancer domain, to make them more in line with the design of the other domains. Tweaked the level 6 feature, and rewrote the Wardancer feature and feat. Rebalanced the Channel Divinity, lv 15 and lv 20 features of the Darksong Knight Oath. Rebalanced some of the College of the Spellsong features. Credits to Alexander Henry, who provided precious feedback (and who came up with the new Channel Divinity and many of the features).

Added a new fighting style: Battle Dance (credits to Alexander Henry).

Kept the old version of the Sword Dancer in the file for record, in case anyone wants to make something out of it, rebalance it, etc...


Update 10: Added info about possible meanings for the nude ritual dances of the followers of Eilistraee at the beginning of the Rituals section.


Update 9: Added back the Wardancer feat (it had been lost during the updates, but it wasn't intentional)


Update 8: Added a bardic college option (College of the Spellsong)

8.1: Removed a feature, and replaced the Spelldance feature with a different option aimed to show the combined use of spells and sword-dance.


Update 7: Made very minor adjustments to the main file, adding some info from the Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes (The entry about Eilistraee doesn't have anything that isn't already included here).

7.2: Added the Darksong Knight paladin Oath. The mechanics of the class are Dario Boemio's work.

7.1:Updated the Sword Dancer domain accordingly to feedback that I received from the kind Dario Boemio. Tweaked some ability descriptions.

Added a new version of the Domain, crafted also crafted by Dario Boemio. This version of the Sword Dancer domain is meant to highlight a path of growth that leads all priestesses closer and closer to Eilistraee as they gain experience. In this version, the channel divinity feature becomes stronger and stronger at each level milestone (6th, 8th, 14th, 17th), at the cost of renouncing to proficiencies or other kinds of thematic penalties. As always, feedback is welcome


Update 6: Recovered the lost word file and prepared the document for the next update to include the lore about Eilistraee that will appear in the Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes.

-Adjusted the part of the document about the lore. Made the explanation of how the drow of Eilistraee integrate with other races (and get to live within their settlements), and of how they help other drow break free from Lolth, more specific. Added some "ribbons" to the part about Eilistraee's personality. Added a bit of lore by Ed Greenwood that Jenny G kindly provided.

-Divided the document in 2 parts, separating the rules from the lore. The section about the Singing Swords and the Secret Moondancer background are included in both parts (since they include mechanics as well as lore). Replaced the distracting background.

-Added a section explaining how the various D&D classes and subclasses fit among the followers of Eilistraee (named Eilistraeean characters).

-Added a Sword Dancer NPC statblock.

-Changed the Sword Dancer domain. I followed Travis L's suggestion about immunity to opportunity attacks during the Channel Divinity feature's duration, and replaced it with disengage as a bonus action. I also tried to give the class a clear purpose in battle, i.e.: buffing allies with spells, and controlling enemies with mobility and their evasive dance. The domain doesn't provide any significant offensive features but focuses on defense and support. I feel that this is more in line with the Sword Dancers' purpose as extensions of Eilistraee's own mothering of the drow as a race.

-Added a second Sword Dancer domain variant, following Patrick C's advice. I made the Channel Divinity feature closer to the Bladesinger's Bladesong; turned the Spellsong feature into a domain spell and replaced it with the Extra attack feature; replaced the Blessed Blade feature with the melee cleric's standard 8th level Divine Strike.

-Added an effect to the Moonfire spell. It can now be cast as a 1st level slot: if so, Moonfire and the Darkness spell cancel each other out (this ability dates back to the 2e version of the spell. Thought it was nice flavor).


Update 5:Added artwork of Eilistraee (a work that I commissioned to: https://leejun35.deviantart.com/); added a few details about the Misty Forest shrine (credits to Eric Menge for his write-up of the said sanctuary). I've also added a full res copy of the above-mentioned painting of Eilistraee to the downloadable files.


Update 4 (small):Fixed a mistake. The ritual that changed the followers of Eilistraee into dusky skinned elves only affected hundreds among them. However, she--as a lesser deity--had, and has, at least a few thousands of followers, explaining why both she and most of her followers are still drow in the current timeline.


Update 3:Expanded the section about the relationship between the followers of Eilistraee in Cormanthor and the refugees of Myth Drannor. Many thanks to Valerie Erzhlerin, who allowed me to enrich this work with ideas and characters from her work, Eclipsed Empire.

Added a new feat (Wardancer).


Update 2:I've added new lore from Ed Greenwood's new novel, "Death Masks". It can be found under "Current Activities"->"The Promenade, Skullport and Waterdeep"->"Waterdeep and Ardeep". Some typos have also been corrected.


Update: In response to the feedback that I've received, I've added an alternative version of the domain, with a different 8th level feature. The Channel Divinity feature, while retaining its function and flavor, has also been slightly modified and toned down.


This document is an attempt to provide insight into the drow deity Eilistraee and her clergy, the Sword Dancers, and into their goals going forward in the post-Second Sundering era of the Forgotten Realms. It is accompanied by a new domain to play a cleric of Eilistraee in 5e D&D;, two magic items, and a background.

Much of the included information has been put together and elaborated from the lore contained in various official sources (published books, articles, and the lore provided by Ed Greenwood through his answers at the Candlekeep forums). I've indicated (in footnotes) when a piece of information is a speculation of mine, rather than taken from official material.

I tried to detail the culture, ideals and religion of these drow, while also talking about Eilistraee, the bond that unites her with her people, and their role in Faerun: the mission to free the drow from Lolth, and claim back a place for their people in the surface world, in harmony with all races.

I chose to not delve into their full history, only providing a summary of the ''recent'' events (up to Eilistraee's return to her full power in the 1480s DR) in the Current activities section (and more briefly, from a divine viewpoint, in a sidebar about Eilistraee). It mostly covers their present doings and goals, and I tried to fill in the blanks with information regarding the happenings of the 1400s DR (as no source covers that).

The description and rules for the holy relics of the faith are accompanied by the history behind them, to give them a context in the world. The ''Singing Swords'' are merely converted from the previous editions, while ''Moon Maiden's Song'' is completely not official.

The ''Sword Dancer domain'' is an attempt to blend all the features that characterized the ''Sword Dancer of Eilistraee'' kit in 2e and the prestige class in 3.5e into a 5e cleric domain. However, no rule in this document has been playtested, as I don't have the possibility to do so.

The Secret Moondancer is a background for those followers or clerics of Eilistraee that have originally found and practiced (or spread) their faith in the Underdark (or that are still doing that), working clandestinely to elude the priestesses of Lolth, while bringing as many drow as possible away from their reach.

The document includes various internal links connecting different sections, for ease of reading. Some links point to the Forgotten Realms Wiki, regarding those characters, events, or places that couldn't be discussed here (although I assumed that some names, like Corellon, Lolth, or Underdark, didn't need explanation).

Of course, feedback is always welcome, especially when it comes to grammar. English is not my first language, so I apologize if my phrasing sounds off and for any error that this document may contain. For all comments, I can be contacted at tsammarco@hotmail.it

That said, I hope that this document is enjoyable to many, and I am grateful to everyone who decides to give it a chance.

 
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Customer avatar
Vorpal P January 27, 2019 10:24 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I plan to try this out on my Crinti for a campaign in the Shining South, thanks. Though that the Moonfire cantrip does cold damage is an odd choice to me tbh, radiant seems like it would make more sense, is that something from the old editions or just your choice?

Anyway I really like this, Darksong Knight fits better and with less fussing than the Oaths in the books lol.
Customer avatar
Tommaso S January 28, 2019 6:12 am UTC
CREATOR
It was cold damage in 3.5; in 2e it did no damage. I chose cold damage because radiant is "more powerful", so to speak (less resisted than cold). In fact, the cleric cantrip that does radiant damage has no other use aside from that, while Eilistraee's Moonfire is a light source that you can move around (and you can cast it as a 2nd level slot to dispel Darkness; this is from 2e).

Glad that you like the Darksong Knights!
Customer avatar
Kalvin G January 27, 2019 8:00 pm UTC
PURCHASER
my child is going to play this in my new campaign and I will let you know how much they like it and how well it works.
Customer avatar
Tommaso S January 27, 2019 9:57 pm UTC
CREATOR
Thanks for giving it a chance, and for the future feedback.
Customer avatar
Kalvin G January 28, 2019 1:03 pm UTC
PURCHASER
they wanted to be a homosexual drow male who doesn't belong so I figured Eilistraee was a good god to be a cleric of and found yours and after reading it I didn't think it was crazy powerful or anything. I am working on my own content so I am always willing to give someone else's content a chance :)
Customer avatar
Tommaso S January 30, 2019 10:01 am UTC
CREATOR
Eilistraee's definitely one of the go-to goddesses when you're looking for a faith strong on acceptance and freedom of expression.
Customer avatar
John C January 05, 2019 3:48 am UTC
PURCHASER
This is unbelievably useful and I am absolutely integrating it into my Out of the Abyss campaign and likely later in "Waterdeep: Dragon Heist" and "Dungeon of the Mad Mage".

Reading a bit in the comments below, I can absolutely see WoTC not wanting this kind of stuff in their official content. Drizzt is their golden boy and they don't want anything to detract from that. I grow weary of Drizzt and that whole story arc. Eilistraee makes a lot of practical sense within the Forgotten Realms storyline as well as actually mirroring many real life issues in the real world today.
Customer avatar
Tommaso S January 05, 2019 5:30 am UTC
CREATOR
Happy that you're finding it useful!

As for WotC's stance, well, most of this lore is already part of their official content, but they *do* try to avoid talking about Eilistraee unless they *have* to, and 5e trimmed her lore down to the bone (like it trimmed all other lore down to the bone, to be fair). The fact that they think that Drizzt would be less of a character because of something that would make the drow a better example of worldbuilding, shows that they have a very low opinion of him. They seem to see him as a walking trope, not as an actual character (because an actual character isn't made less unique by others that share his race and alignment).

IMO, however, it's more that some designers just prefer the "drow are all stupidly evil" version--which is an example of poor--downright nonsensical in many instances--worldbuilding, and is not even in line with Gygax's own original vision.
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John C January 07, 2019 12:39 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Yes, Drizzt seems like he is being portrayed more as an ideal than a unique character but my view may be uncommon.

That they feel "drow are stupidly" evil seems pretty obvious and I believe it contributes to game limitations.
Customer avatar
Fabian P December 12, 2018 7:47 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hi, this is maybe the wrong place to ask, so first of all thanks for this, since I find it unbelievably useful.
My question: Have you read Waterdeep Dungeon of the Mad Mage? The Level 3 Sargauth Level Map is identical to the Promande of the Dark Maiden Map from the Dragon Magazine #176, but in this new release, its the dungeon of some old dwarven gods and occupied by Lolthites and nowhere is a mention of the Promande. Was the map from the Dragon Magazine never considered canon? Do you now of any other maps that depict how the layout of the promenade looks like?
I love Eilistraee more than any other deity in the FR and still try to comprehend what the LP trilogy has done, so now I'm trying to see what's new for her in 5E and what happened to the other characters. Great work of yours regarding Leliana and other important figures. I'm still sad that Qilué is dead :(.
Customer avatar
Tommaso S December 13, 2018 12:54 am UTC
CREATOR
Dungeon of the Mad Mage seemingly retconned the map (or the Promenade altogether). Ed Greenwood said that the Promenade has been stealthily retaken. Mad Mage includes a random temple to Eilistraee on the 10th level (nothing interesting or relevant, though, just this shrine with a statue), but nothing apart from that. What surprises me is that Eilistraee's new temple in Waterdeep, the one that Ed describes in Death Masks (which is a consequence of Eilistraee herself appearing near Waterdeep) gets no mention in Dragon Heist. Then again, it doesn't take a genius to see that WotC don't like Eilistraee or the other drow gods but Lolth (it was pretty evident from one of their LYSK videos, in which they entirely dismiss her), I'm no longer expecting them to meaningfully involve the drow gods in anything. Perhaps it's for the best, given the s****y treatment and portrayal that they received in the past, when--according to Perkins--WotC developed this adversity to non-Lolth drow factions because "Drizzt has to be...See more
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Tommaso S December 13, 2018 1:13 am UTC
CREATOR
About the map, it was canon until 5e took a portion of the 3rd layer, and turned it into the whole 3rd layer, essentially axing a huge part of it and reconfiguring it (like they did with basically all the layers).
Customer avatar
Fabian P December 13, 2018 8:50 am UTC
PURCHASER
Many thanks for this detailed reply. For years I'm reading your answers concerning Eilistraee on all the different dnd platforms and everytime I feel enlightened, thanks for that.
I was many asking because after reading large parts of this collection here, I thought about writing an adventure taking place in the undermountain involving the Eilistraee priests trying to take back the promenade. I would have liked to be canonically correct and knew that there was a map of the promenade, but was confused, that it was already used in Mad Mage. I guess that gives me the freedom to come up with my own map of Eilistraees most important temple.
I'm glad Ed still cares for Eilistraee and his explanation is ok by me. Sadly Lady Penitent was the last trilogy that got translated into german, so I'm not really up-to-date with the current developments outside of what is written on different wiki sides.
I think you might be right about WotCs disinterest in the other drow gods, but never stop believing. I find...See more
Customer avatar
Tommaso S December 13, 2018 7:44 pm UTC
CREATOR
You're welcome. You can write your adventure while not contradicting any canon. After all, Mad Mage doesn't even mention the Promenade, while Ed states that it's back. It means that you can write without having any source constraining you.

Ed has always had a soft spot of Eilistraee--it's one of his original creations for his Realms, after all--and he has continued supporting her, especially when 5e hit. He had in store more lore about her to add to Death Masks (I guess the explanation of her return that he shared was going to be included in the novel) but only a part of the lore about Eilistraee that he wanted to include in that novel was retained, the rest was cut by WotC. Most of the newer lore about Eilistraee comes from sourcebooks anway, and I included info from both novels and sourcebooks in the wiki article (as well as here), so don't worry about missing new info because of novels not being translated.

I don't think that it's lack of interest as much as outright dislike. In that...See more
Customer avatar
Brian F November 28, 2018 11:56 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Really love the cleric domain,I multiclassed into this from rouge using the divine herald subclass, which fits my character very well unfortunately my charisma is only a 12 so the main function of the domain is a not as good as it could have been. But regardless I love this domain thank you!
Customer avatar
Tommaso S November 29, 2018 12:18 am UTC
CREATOR
Happy that you're enjoying it!
Customer avatar
Ryn P October 12, 2018 3:39 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you so much for this, it is tremendously useful.
Customer avatar
Tommaso S October 12, 2018 6:28 pm UTC
CREATOR
My pleasure!
Customer avatar
Bragi 1 October 07, 2018 8:54 am UTC
PURCHASER
In the Windwalker novel, there is a Champion of Eilistraee named Thorn. One of that character's featured abilities is called Moonsong which allows her to teleport using the Moonbeam spell.
Customer avatar
Tommaso S October 07, 2018 10:48 pm UTC
CREATOR
That's covered in the Grand Chorus, under the"Rituals" section. It's not exclusive of Thorn, every priestess of Eilistraee has the potential to learn such an ability. Thanks for the info, though!
Customer avatar
Katrina R July 29, 2018 1:14 am UTC
PURCHASER
My DM's letting me give your Sword Dancer v2 domain a try, but I did notice something when making my character. You add proficiency in a musical instrument and make changes to starting equipment to accommodate the change in weapon proficiencies, but you don't add a musical instrument to the starting equipment (perhaps in place of the shield removed from starting equipment?).
Customer avatar
Tommaso S July 30, 2018 4:53 pm UTC
CREATOR
Right, thank you for pointing it out. Will fix it.
Customer avatar
Robert A June 15, 2018 2:28 am UTC
PURCHASER
Tommaso, I am anxious to give your Sword Dancer a try with my (male) drow bard, intending to multiclass to Sword Dancer around level 3 or 4. I'm a D&D Beyond user, and I'd like your permission to add your Sword Dancer or possibly a derivative of it as homebrew in D&D Beyond. The TOS say I'm not allowed to do that without your permission.
Customer avatar
Robert A June 15, 2018 3:15 am UTC
PURCHASER
Also, I note that you grant the Sword Dancer proficiency with longsword and greatsword, even though you say earlier, "These priests also train in swordplay, particularly in the use of Eilistraee's favourite weapon--the bastard sword..." I feel like you should replace greatsword with bastard sword.
Customer avatar
Robert A June 15, 2018 3:37 am UTC
PURCHASER
Another point: you essentially grant the Sword Dancer the Evasion feature at 2nd level through Channel Divinity, which a Rogue doesn't get until 7th level. I think maybe this should be a level progression of the ability that the dance provides at level 7 at the earliest.
Customer avatar
Tommaso S June 16, 2018 4:20 pm UTC
CREATOR
Sure, feel free to add it to D&DBeyond.

About the bastard sword, 5e doesn't include the bastard sword as a weapon. That I know, historically (unlike the 3e version), the bastard sword was a longsword with a slightly shorter handle and blade, which allowed the user to wield it both 1H and 2H--and that's very close to the 5e longsword (unlike proper longswords, which were almost always crafted for 2H combat. The 1H-only sword was called an arming sword).

About the evasion feature, my version of it is not actually Evasion (IIRC, Rogues take half damage even if they fail the DEX saving throw), and it's temporary, but if you feel that the Channel Divinity feature should provide it only after you move forward in levels, I can do that.

As you can probably see from the number of times this document has been edited, the subclass underwent a lot of changes due to feedback (it used to be a mess, heh). However, further feedback, especially coming from proper playtesting, is still...See more
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Andrew C December 06, 2018 6:42 am UTC
PURCHASER
Did this ever happen? I really need the Domain for one of my player’s who just became a Cleric of Eilistraee
Customer avatar
Tommaso S December 09, 2018 12:56 am UTC
CREATOR
I checked D&DBeyond, but I couldn't find the domain. There other Eilistraee-inspired domains, though.
Customer avatar
Patrick C March 31, 2018 7:57 pm UTC
I am concerned that the variable bonuses to hit, ac, and Dex saves are going to be too much. So I am going to try using the base blade song chassis for my Blade Dancer with it geared for wisdom instead of Int.

The other changes I am going to try is making Spell Song into a spell as it was in 2e and giving the Blade Dancer 2 attacks at 6th level instead. Then the level 8 ability will be changed to adding Charisma to weapon damage as Sonic damage type to represent the Blade Dancer harmonizing their singing with their dancing. Yes this makes them a bit MAD but with 2 attacks, three if duel wielding and the defensive bonuses from the initial Blade Dance, something has to balance the domain out.

The level 17 capstone is a more powerful than other domains as well. I just don't have any ideas or suggestions on how to balance it right now.

This isn't a bash on your work. Without it I wouldn't have even had a starting point to build something like this. Just playing with what...See more
Customer avatar
Tommaso S April 02, 2018 8:31 pm UTC
CREATOR
Thanks for the replies. I think I'll compile a version of the domain to reflect your suggestions. However, as I said in another reply, I'm very busy with work atm, and I've lost the original word file, so I'll need to rewrite it, something that I simply don't have time to rn.

As for the variable bonus to AC, my goal was to show a direct correlation between the priestess' dance, and her battle prowess. However, simply adding CHA didn't feel as satisfying as having her *actually* dance.
Customer avatar
Tommaso S April 22, 2018 8:57 pm UTC
CREATOR
I have updated the document following your suggestion. When you have the time (and if you wish to do it, of course), I'd appreciate if, if you were willing to share your opinion (it's the 2nd version of the domain).
Customer avatar
Matthias B March 19, 2018 5:30 pm UTC
PURCHASER
You should replace the background and revise the formatting.
Customer avatar
Tommaso S April 02, 2018 8:34 pm UTC
CREATOR
I know, I'll do it ASAP. I'm very busy with work atm, and I've lost the original word file, so I'll need to rewrite it, something that I simply don't have time to right now.

A good chance to update this document will be the release of the Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. The book will include a section about Eilistraee, so I'll add that info here and generally clean up the work.
Customer avatar
Jenny G October 13, 2017 4:02 pm UTC
PURCHASER
I thought you'd like this info which Ed Greenwood was thoughtful enough to share on Twitter. He replied in a series of tweets starting with my question here: https://twitter.com/pixelscapes/status/914943022168723458

I asked:
How aware are non-drow that Eilistraee is good? Would say, a cleric of Corellon or Torm assume "drow goddess? EVIL”?

He replied:
Clergy should be well aware of the true nature of all deities. All lay folk would know Eilistraee is good, but those who don't venerate...
...her personally would likely be uneasy regarding her means. As in, "she may work and stand for good, but are the ways she does it safe...
...for the rest of us?" All sentient folk in the Realms believe in, and at least appease-worship, all deities who come to mind, but tend...
...to have favourites. They often, however, disagree with the deeds and beliefs of mortal followers (from clergy to "the guy next door").
Customer avatar
Tommaso S January 05, 2018 11:01 am UTC
CREATOR
Thank you, Jenny. I will add that info to the main document soon enough.
Customer avatar
Jenny G January 05, 2018 1:02 pm UTC
PURCHASER
No rush. Just thought you'd find it handy! I asked him originally because I was pondering how NPCs would react to my group's paladin of Eilistraee.
Customer avatar
Tommaso S April 22, 2018 8:57 pm UTC
CREATOR
I added the info that you provided to the document (Beliefs and Goals->Challenges). Thank you again, and sorry that it took me so long.
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