Drow society is innately chaotic and dangerous. In order to survive those of the same blood and philosophy often come together to form groups for the purposes of mutual protection and societal status. Those who accumulate enough power become recognized as clans and gain access to true power. In most cases a clan is rallied behind a central bloodline with the eldest at the helm. Numerous other families are arranged below them in rank, segregated in status into individual houses. It should be noted however that these practices vary greatly between clans and are only a common trend.
In many clans, most of the nobles are related to each other, whereas in other, newer clans, the relation is between fellow adherents to the clan's philosophy. Noble rank in one clan means nothing outside of that clan, as the clans have never been able to agree on a unified "standard" by which to judge each other. A noble of one clan is likely to treat a noble of another clan based on their clans' relations, not out of any preconceived notions about the other's rank. Thus, a low ranked noble of one clan does not automatically defer to a high ranked noble of another.
The great clans of Chel'el'sussoloth are recognized as the nine most powerful of the city and granted the honorable Val title. The status of being a Val permits the clan to stake a claim on a section of the land (usually left unclaimed by the Val clan they had replaced), turning the region into a city-state of sorts under their rule. Becoming a great clan often begets a large sum of wealth and power simply by default due to the power it bestows, firmly separating the Vals from those below them in status.
An individual’s station in life should be the result of their own endeavors neither hindered nor aided by their heritage: this is the mantra of the powerful Val’Sarghress. Formed with the merging of numerous mercenary bands around the legendary reputation of its Ill’haress Quain’tana, the Sarghress are a wave of change in Chel'el'sussoloth that espouse the downfall of the rigid bloodline and caste systems.
Rulers among rulers, the Vel’Sharen have lorded as Chel’el’sussoloth’s dominant clan for nearly the city’s entire existence. Its Val bloodline controls not only the clan itself but also legislates the workings of the rest of the city. Yet unbridled political power breeds both enemies and greater desires. The conspiracies that run through the Sharen are unparalleled by any others in scale or magnitude. Everything is a pawn in their eyes, but lately these pawns have begun to fight back...
The Val’Sullisin’rune is a clan enveloped in intrigue shrouded by a thin veil of serendipity. It is one of only two known Chelian clans that remain in the wake of the the great wars, retaining a seat of power among the Vals and Vels since the city's founding. They are master diplomats and political manipulators infamous for the numerous empaths that fill their ranks. Though more than hospitable to many other clans, few if any know of the schemes brewing among its individuals.
Every volatile and evil stereotype of the drow can be found manifest within the Vel’Vloz’ress. Often called mad by even their own peers they are a force of unbridled chaos within the underworld, experimenting with demonic energies with little regard for the repercussions. While brought to prominence through entirely outside means, many see them as harbingers of another demonic incursion and maybe even the downfall of Chel'el'sussoloth itself.Long after the rise of the Vel'Vloz'ress as one of the Nine Great Clans, Kiel'ndia Vel'Vloz'ress, motivated by a personal promise, moves to take back her clan after the death of Sene'kha Vel'Vloz'ress. Sene'kha's followers are swiftly deposed, but Kiel's tenuous hold will only be maintained by her control of her sister, Ill'haress Kharla'ggen Vel'Vloz'ress.
Specters of days past who watch events from above, the Beldrobbaen are a clan far past their prime. Their numbers and influence have dwindled dramatically since their time of greatness through disasters, lost wars and social change. Though weakened they maintain their defiant grip on their Val title, standing tall against the waves of change so intent on sweeping them away and hoping for a day when they may recover from the tragedies that so consistently befall them.
Unrivaled in the fields of business practices and interspecies interaction, The Nal’sarkoth are a dominate supplier of goods and services to Chel'el'sussoloth. By fostering lasting relationships with the goblin empires above and remaining dwarven kingdoms below they have commanding access to the valuable resources these ties provide them. They are equally unique for their army of goblin mercenaries that live beside them in their fortress.
Purity, discipline and zeal: these are the calling cards of the Val’Kyorl’solenurn, the only remaining Val drowussu clan. Indoctrinated at birth, clan members are brought up to actively despise and purge impurities from Chel'el'sussoloth and the world. Nothing draws their hatred more than demonic influences, making them the bane of the tainted Vel clans. To be in their favor is to find security and compassion; to embrace the profane is to be given no quarter.
The Val’Illhar’dro are the mercantile kingpins of the Underworld. Theirs is an empire of trade that touches nearly every settlement, affording them enough power to hold a seat among the Vals of Chel'el'sussoloth without being headquartered within the city. Their resolute stance on peace, often embellished by their infamous spellsongs, melts the social barriers and binds the alliances that allow their network to spread and prosper with but minimal bloodshed.
Easily the most enigmatic of the clans of Chel'el'sussoloth, the Jaal’darya are powerful and knowledgeable biological engineers. They are well known for the living weapons and artificial life forms that they create and trade, but the clan members themselves are notoriously secretive and rarely seen. Those very few who are privy to the happenings behind the clan’s closed doors however know that nothing is sacred in the face of the Jaal’darya’s experimental drive, not even their own bodies.
Minor Clans and Factions
The world of Drowtales is filled with organizations that fall outside of the great nine. Many of these are lesser clans that generally lack the massive resources of the Vals, but others are beyond such organized fronts. These institutions run the gamut from foreign raiders to prostitution rings.
What began as a small clan of demon summoners transformed quickly into one of the greatest threats Chel'el'sussoloth had ever faced. The Nidraa'chal are a faction preaching the superiority of their tainted race, bearing the terrible ability to effectively tap their expanded potential. Though small in number they single-handedly plunged the city of Chel'el'sussoloth into chaos, tore the traditional laws of clan warfare asunder and forever changed the political and cultural climate of the city.
The Val'Dutan'vir were shining examples of order in the years before the onset of the Nidraa'chal uprising. They were valuable, unwavering allies of the Vel'Sharen and loyal protectors of the Val'Sharess in a day when racial differences were of little consequence. It was to the loss of nearly everyone when they fell during the uprising, the clan members slipping in among the commoners or sold into slavery and their name forever tainted unjustly by the ignorant populace.
The Siyah’khorshed, also known under the moniker of the Black Suns, cannot be accurately defined as a singular clan or race. The Siyah’khorshed is composed of numerous loosely-affiliated nomadic tribes of raiders and mercenaries that wander the underworld, preying on caravans and travelers to survive. They are considered a scourge by many and the primary threat to travelers who venture beyond their cities’ walls.
The duty of the Dusk clan of Nuqrah'shareh is singular and simple: to guard against nether forces. This commitment of theirs takes overbearing precedence over all else. Duskians are famously neutral in regard to outside matters; politics do not concern them, race is unimportant, alliances and clans rise and fall to their indifference. But should the risk of demonic threats so much as appear as a blip on their radars they will respond with zealous ardor.
Honor, loyalty and obedience are the cornerstones of the Jie’yen. They are a true oddity, a clan consisting entirely of drowolath, yet repressing their chaotic nature. They are nearly unparalleled in the skills of unarmed combat and masters of infiltration and assassination, but these are mere skills that are part of a much broader, more tranquil ideology.
The Balvhakara are the premiere engineers of the underworld. In a city of peace they are among the few in Nuqrah'shareh that actively prepare for war. Their intense study on golem development has moved them well beyond the comparatively primal machinations common in Chel'el'sussoloth and second to none in the field of battle.
The Kal’yantra are a minor clan of engineers native to Chel'el'sussoloth.
The Tei’kaliath are a minor clan that is relatively new to Chel'el'sussoloth. Though they only make a brief cameo in the Moonless Age comic, they are the primary clan of focus in the Path to Power community game.
The Kavahini are a clan of Mimaneid who are skilled in aerial warfare.
The Guild of Flowers are an association of courtesans and prostitutes in Chel'el'sussoloth. Though it is doubtful that they are a recognized clan, they nonetheless possess enough clout to be present during clan gatherings.
The Siksa'santi are a minor clan of Chel'el'sussoloth.
The Svart’elos are a minor clan of Chel'el'sussoloth.
A war between two clans is rare, but when posturing and subtle manipulations turn into a full-scale war, there are, or used to be, rules. These unofficial bounds are set as a matter of convenience, instituted for the protection of those uninvolved.
- A war must not affect the city and its inhabitants.
The commoners provide the clans with resources and services, and slaves provide free labor; damaging these assets in turn damages the livelihood of city as a whole. Wars are to be held in areas of isolation where collateral damage could be minimized. Many such wars have even become spectator events with people watching from nearby regions of safety.
- A war between two clans is strictly their business.
Of course, no one can stay truly neutral as time passes, but initially a struggle is between two clans, and their allies if they choose to get involved. Other clans can be reluctant to enter a struggle between for any number of reasons, most of them tied to political standings. Few are willing to throw in their towel for one side of a conflict if it may damage their relations with others, and more than once such meddling has led to massive conflicts involving numerous clans.