We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Pathfinder drops the Drow after moving away from the DnD OGL

As Paizo revises the core Pathfinder 2e books, the publisher announces it’s removing the Drow from Pathfinder canon due to ties to the D&D OGL.

Pathfinder Drow Retcon - Wizards of the Coast art of Drizzt Do'Urden

Paizo is retconning the Drow out of Pathfinder 2e, a livestream from May 28 confirms. The move appears directly tied to the DnD OGL controversy from earlier this year, as narrative creative director James Jacobs says the removal comes from the Drow being “really identified with Dungeons and Dragons”. “It’s easier to move in a different direction rather than figure out how to recast or recontextualise them”, he adds.

The Drow are one of the classic DnD races, invented by Gary Gygax and found in DnD books as early as 1977. Also known as dark elves, the Drow have dark skin and white hair. In Dungeons and Dragons, they’re typically found in the Underdark worshipping the evil goddess, Lolth. Like the Orcs, the Drow have been critiqued in the past for racial stereotyping, as they inherently link dark skin with evil DnD alignments.

While Pathfinder was originally built on the foundations of D&D, Paizo has sought to cut ties since the proposed changes to the Open Gaming Licence. This meant creating its own third-party licence, the ORC, and remastering its core rulebooks. An FAQ page makes it clear Pathfinder Remastered is not a new edition, and older 2e books remain compatible. This means Drow can still be used in Pathfinder games, but they’re no longer part of Golarion’s canon.

Pathfinder Drow retcon - Wizards of the Coast art of a DnD Drow holding a spider

“The Darklands are really deeply entrenched in the traditions of the OGL, and a lot of the creatures are from that resource”, Jacobs says in Sunday’s PaizoCon livestream. “And going forward, those are not going to be things.”

Jacobs has reportedly penned an article, found in the upcoming adventure Sky King’s Tomb, detailing changes to Drow lore. The Pathfinder Koriah Azmeren is revealed to have “fiddled with the truth a bit” when reporting on the Drow. The Drow city of Zirnakaynin is now a ruin of mysterious origin, and developer Luis Loza says Serpent Folk will take over as the primary villain in the Darklands, the setting where Drow were previously found.

While the Drow are out, other Pathfinder races from the Darklands remain – albeit with significant changes to their backstories. One such ancestry is Pathfinder’s Deep Gnomes (who have been renamed and reflavoured in a further departure from D&D). Senior designer John Compton explains this ancestry has been revised to remove its ties to slavery, and he has “re-envisioned what makes the [Deep Gnome] tick” in upcoming Pathfinder books.

These creatures are “an example of where we could take old ideas and shape them into new Pathfinder stuff”, Loza says in the PaizoCon stream, “but the Drow isn’t one of those we could easily salvage”. “There’s a lot of baggage that comes with the Drow”, he adds, “and a lot of D&D-ness”. “We realised we’re unfortunately going to have to leave them behind.”

Pathfinder and D&D have lots in common, with plenty of crossover between DnD classes and Pathfinder classes. If you’re looking for the major differences between Pathfinder and DnD, here’s all you need to know. We can also tell you more about the upcoming Howl of the Wild Pathfinder book in our exclusive preview.

Update: This article previously mistakenly referred to the Deep Gnomes as the Duergar, which are a actually Dwarves. This was corrected on May 31.