According to drow legend, before Earthfall the elves were masters of the surface world, wielding their abilities to nurture new life. They took this belief with them far below the earth, and as with all things, adapted it to their new home. They had no great trees to modify, so turned to other things: stone, iron, and fungus. And themselves.
Sporecrafting was the first of the drow’s adaptations to the new world, transferring the skills used in shaping plants to those of twisting yeasts, molds, and mushrooms, increasing the yield of existing edible fungi, and domesticating and rendering edible poisonous wild fungi. Over the 10,000 year span of their underground empire, the drow have created entire new species, some of which have gone feral and spread far beneath the surface.
In tandem with their fleshwarping abilities, the drow have modified communities full of vegepygmies, reducing the intelligence of this sentient race of mushroom people to a level close to that of a common cow. These fleshwarps are known as halsora, the Weeping Beasts, because the areas where their eyes had been are now little more continually flowing water ducts. The halsora are tended to by chained slaves of little value and intelligence.
The drow have adapted fungi as food, lamps, and guardian creatures. They have also used their sporecrafting to refine and expand their use of poisons. While they are effective at creating poisons lethal to almost any race, mere killing is the work of a butcher. Better are those toxins that paralyze, or remove just one of the senses of the target, or rob the target of its voice. Most infamous are the drow-crafted sleeping poisons that leave victims helpless to the dark elves’ perverse wishes. Psychoactive poisons used to make a potential slave more tractable are also part of their fungal pharmacopeia.
Lithicrafting is a slower process, an adaptation of the same traits that allow surface elves to shape trees and crystals. Lithicrafting is not mining—the drow keep slaves to extract rock, ore, and gems by brute force, though the skill may be used for that purpose in a pitch. Instead, lithicrafting is utilized to draw up the existing stone in stalactites and stalagmites and hollow them as living spaces without need for mortar or chisel. The lithicrafter seeks to understand the will of the stone and then turn that will into what the shaper desires.
Lithicrafting can be employed to create hidden watch posts and secret doors in otherwise solid rock, produce new windows, and seal off prison cells forever. They may also be used to create statues of water-shaped stone, gargoyles that can also serve as watchpoints, and plinths that contain bodies that the creator does not wish to be found.
Coldwarping is weaponsmithing without fire or forge. The drow do not lack these technological advancements, and indeed have teams of slaves whose job it is to do nothing but toil at great furnaces and anvils to make tools and weapons. However, a coldcrafter is needed to make the finest weapons.
Coldwarping is akin to lithicrafting, but instead of working with stone, the crafter accesses the spirit of the metal itself, drawing it out, making it more fluid, and causing it to shape into the desired form. Working from the ore, the crafter pulls the metal out of the rock and works it without heat. The metal is stretched out, then folded upon itself, then stretched again and folded again until the layers of metal bind into a firm, permanent blade. These are the blades carried by the drow nobility, mastercrafted weapons beyond the skills of enslaved peons.
Coldwarpers traditionally make the best weapons, but jewelry is also part of the coldcraft skill, granting softer metals greater strength and durability. The master coldwarpers are few in number and considered racial treasures by the drow, meant to be kept in safety and guarded jealously by the great houses.
Fleshwarping is the most frightening of drow crafting abilities, as it is employed against living flesh. In a society that admires its own dark beauty, such a craft is quietly used to keep even the eldest of its people looking young and bright. But the craft has its own dark potential, one that even the drow themselves are uncomfortable with.
Fleshwarping is a modification of the body, and as such can be used to smooth over scars and erase the more blatant signs of age or despoiled living. Alternatively, torturers use it to twist flesh in painful variations, and then to restore it to a state similar to new, only to start again. It might also be employed to reduce one’s enemies to monstrosities, to render a target blind or mute, or to recreate them utterly into half-drow figures, destroying mind and soul in the process of rending the flesh.
Among the twisted forms created by fleshwarpers, the most well-known are the spider-like driders—criminals, outcasts, and unlucky drow who are repurposed to a new form as hunters for the noble houses. These grotesque abominations serve as deadly warriors, feared even by their drow masters, unleashed only in the most extreme circumstances, and typically kept far from the sight of civilized drow.
Even in drow society fleshwarpers are regarded with suspicion, similar to the role necromancers have among humans. Most houses keep driders as well, though typically far from the sight of nobles.
There are rumors among the drow of a society of secretive cabals of fleshwarpers who venerate a patron even more mysterious and evil than even the Demon Prince Haagenti—the fiendish alchemist from whom the first secrets of fleshwarping were learned. The matriarchs know of these fleshwarpers, but rather than strike out against them and their darker master, some covertly trade victims to them, hopeful for some abominable and useful leap forward in the profane science.