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 D.O.T.U. #2 Law, Tradition, and Government

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PostSubject: D.O.T.U. #2 Law, Tradition, and Government   Mon Jun 15, 2009 1:18 am

Perhaps one of the strangest dichotomies of drow culture is that they are both heavily tradition-bound and highly innovative, a bizarre combination found rarely among the other races.

Drow innovation is, as with so much else in their lives, driven by the constant drive to achieve dominance over other drow. A creative battle plan, a brand-new spell, a shorter method of production for manufactured goods—none of these have any value to the drow in and of themselves. Creation for creation’s sake is yet another virtue foreign to their way of thinking. When such innovations are put to use to increase the creator’s station, however, then they have proven their worth.

Thus, the very same traditions that keep the drow at one another’s throats also encourage innovative thinking. The most powerful drow have lived for centuries, and as a race they have been competing with one another for millennia. They are far too wary, and too well prepared, for traditional schemes to work against them. A drow who seeks to get ahead must be creative in her approach—and they all seek to get ahead.

These traditions, although binding, are rarely codified into law. The drow are an innately chaotic people, both in terms of individual temperament and religious doctrine. They bow to tradition due to social pressure and the efforts of those in power, but they react poorly to formalization of those traditions. Most of these conventions, as they apply to governance, religion, gender roles, and other cultural mores, are discussed in the following sections.

The lack of formal codes of law in drow society also equates to a lack of formal law enforcement. A drow community has no watch or police force per se. Rather, each aspect or segment of the community is responsible for enforcing its own power as far as its authority extends. An offense against a major house is answered by members of that house. The Church of Lolth punishes those who transgress against the Queen of Spiders and her faith. Individual drow react to slights and offenses as their own abilities and status permit. If a lone drow or an institution lacks the capacity to strike back against someone who has wronged her or it, then that individual or institution is clearly not entitled to retribution—and that failure to retaliate might mark the wronged party as weak enough to be overthrown by rivals.

On rare occasions, a drow institution might request the aid of another organization in seeking justice or vengeance against an adversary. A priestess might ask that one of the houses send soldiers to deal with a troublemaker, rather than making use of her own resources. Alternatively, the reverse might happen, wherein a powerful drow in a community requests that the priesthood punish a wrongdoer. Such temporary agreements normally occur when an individual wishes to keep her own faction out of direct involvement in a conflict. For instance, if a member of House Eilservs insults or attacks a member of House Inlindl, and Inlindl responds in kind, the result could be a feud that envelops both houses in protracted conflict. If Inlindl wishes to avoid that result—likely, since it holds far less power than Eilservs—it might instead request that the Church of Lolth punish the transgressor. Doing so, of course, puts the house in debt to the priestesses, so it would take such an action only if the offense was dire.

Drow punishment, regardless of whose hands deliver the sentence, is brutal and efficient. In some instances, the punishing force simply strips the transgressor of power and property. More frequently, the individual becomes a bound slave to the house or church. Torture and execution are common as well. The drow do not believe in imprisonment as a punishment in and of itself, nor do they believe in second chances.

Roleplaying Application: You find the notion of a com-munitywide police force or city guard a foreign one, as well as the notion that certain activities are “illegal.” You think in terms of whether a particular individual has the power to seek vengeance if you wrong him, and you often forget (at least at fi rst) that a community itself might seek to punish you for transgressions against a specific person.
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