Greetings. As it is said in the title, this thread is a plea for a singular DDI article.
My request concerns some of the content that didn't make the final cut of the recently released book ''Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue'', material that should've brought the drow deities Eilistraee and Vhaeraun back to the FR as archfeys. I'll just quote what one of the authors of the book said about them (on a fansite board).Spoiler:
I was in charge of the Eilistraee portion of the book. I asked (begged might be a more accurate term) for that section, because I love the Dark Maiden and wanted her to have a role in the book, since she has had such a prominent presence in the Forgotten Realms. As Brian said on the Candlekeep forum, the section that addressed Eilistraee and Vhaeraun heading into the future did not make the final cut. We worked very hard on it and fought as hard as we could to include it. Ultimately, the decision lay with the editors. [...] While I cannot share the text of what I submitted to WotC, Irennan is pretty much spot on in our idea of how to keep consistent with the old lore while returning Eilistraee and Vhaeraun. The Masked Lady sacrificed her divinity and returned as an archfey -- actually two archfey. Vhaeraun and Eilistraee lost their names in the sacrifice and only have their ancestral titles of the Mask on the Moon and the Dancing Maiden. While the archfey cannot grant spells, PCs would directly interact with the spirits of Eilistraee and Vhaeraun. They rule from the Grotto of Silver and Shadow (the map was included in the map pack released with the Puzzle game), which has fallen into ruin in the centuries that they were gods. So drow servants of the Lord and Lady have two great tasks -- fight the oppression of Lolth while reclaiming a feydark realm from the wilderness and evil fey such as the fomorians. This gives judges two great campaigns - one based entirely in the feydark and dealing with other fey and one in the Underdark continuing the fight against Lolth and her minions. The followers would be far fewer than before, making every PC who serves the Lady and the Lord that much more important. Also, servants of Lolth are searching for the hidden Grotto and hunting the Lady and the Lord's followers constantly. Being a servant of the archfey would be a harrowing experience of a rebel, fighting overwhelming odds. I second Brian's recommendation to let WotC know that you want the material with Eilistraee and Vhaeraun .If other people ask for it, they may publish the cut content as a DDI article. I still have all the text and could put it together into DDI format within a week.
So, what I'd really like to see is this content released as a DDI article, because it looks like a fitting and flavorful way to bring the siblings back while completing the previous lore and restoring elements that enrich the realmsian drow (opening many opportunities for stories, novels and campaigns). Besides, being the Dancing Maiden and the Masked Lord archfeys, even tho they are FR specific, the material about them could be easily used even in different settings if desired, offering new takes and campaign opportunities for the DMs and players who wish to use it.
That said, there are many reasons to reintroduce Eilistraee and Vhaeraun to the Realms and to explore what they stand for, something that the lore that was supposed to be in the book and that I'd like to see released seems to do very well.
1)The siblings are valid and meaningful characters on their own. Besides, they are what distinguishes and characterizes the FR dark elves and makes them unique, a big part of the origins of this race in the Realms, two drow deities (well, archfey now) that truly belong to the setting. And they are very popular: their removal from canon was really ill-received and many people would be happy to see them in action again (and this is something worth of consideration).
Their personalities can't be replaced by any other:
Eilistraee is the underdog struggling against overwhelming odds, the rebel who stands up to tyranny. She stands for freedom of expression, of fulfillment, of life itself, and is a shining beacon of hope for the drow, as she offers them the freedom and the happiness that they were unjustly denied, the possibility to live by choices that belong only to them and that are not imposed by some indoctrinating mechanism, to forge their own path rather than running along set binaries. And she does that by giving them value, acceptance and even affection, by romantically but intensely fighting for the drow and the ideals of life and freedom she wishes for them. The Dark Maiden symbolizes all that is wondrous in life and that the dark elves were denied, a star in a sea of inky darkness, singing to the very souls and hearts of her people and guiding them in finding their own
way to redemption, liberty and fulfillment.
On the other hand, Vhaeraun is a militant whose purpose is to undermine the already precarious balance of drow society, making it crumble under the weight of people who no longer want to be puppets or pawns for the fun of a deity with clear ego issues, and wish to conquer a worthy existence for themselves and their race. One where instead of agonizing due to pointless and poisoning infighting and being forced in shiny cages underground, the Dark Elves can extend themselves into becoming a powerful race worthy of respect. So the Masked Lord stands for rebellion through violent and fierce fighting.
So returning the siblings as two allied ''lowly'' archfeys who compliment each other would add a lot of depth and characterization to the drow (which, as I said, could be used by DMs who enjoy it even in different campaign settings, or in homebrewed settings), and variety to the Realms (being them unique and cool characters).
Furthermore, even as archfey they would be as valid in their role as they were while being full fledged deities, because the ''battle'' they lead isn't a matter power but a matter of ideas, of changing the mind of the dark elves. While they can help, support and fight for them, at the end of the day the act of breaking the shackles is in the hand and understanding of mortals and not of Eilistraee and Vhaeraun.
2)They introduce a different angle for the (FR) drow, something that expands the possibiliites of development that this otherwise mostly one-note race offers, completing it.
I don't know why the material was removed from the book, despite the fact that maps and even art were developed for it and despite the desire of the authors to include it, but I'm guessing that it was because the editors thought that the Dancing Maiden and Masked Lord would've made the drow less villainous. Well, this isn't true. According to the authors, the two archfeys are very limited in their power and influence (not really capable to pose a threat to Lolth's overwhelming dominance on the drow), and their followers are extremely few, hunted and persecuted -as it is said in the part quoted, they would live the harrowing experience of a rebel fighting overwhelming odds- (I imagine that their few
followeres would act alone, or in small
groups of ever-watchful and trusted people). So the threat posed by the drow as a race would be left unchanged, the hostility they would experience on the surface always strong (first shoot, then talk), but they would be even more exotic and mysterious because of the added variety, enriched with flavor and depth.
Furthermore there's another thing to consider. Honestly, the realmsian drow kind of fail at being charismatic and strong villains. They live and act mainly out of divine mandates and of pointless dogma that filled their mind since their childhood, not out of their own volition. At the end of the day they are brainwashed pawns for their deity, oppressed, not movers. They as a race don't forge their future, rather mostly depend on Lolth for it, like an infant with the worst mother ever. She toys with them, pitting them against each other in intrigues and betrayals and forcing upon them a life of sacrifice, ever-going struggle for power on others (while they don't have real power on themselves), frustration, and consuming hatred to make them her perfect tools, without any sort of value as persons. Her indoctrination comes to the point that almost all of them don't have any means to make choices about their lives, to fulfill themselves, and even happiness is deemed weak (which isn't something villainous, but self-destructive), as Lolth declares. The gratification they desperately seek in behaving so is in the form of divine approval, something that they'll never be given (and this, according to one of the authors, was one of the ideas behind the soucebook). This is the situation of the drow, which inspires pity rather than fear or hate, and which prevents the dark elves from being cookie-cutter villains (they're not -say- the Dark Eldar from WH40k), but not from being interesting (and dangerous) foes and race, provided that this aspect of their society is played out (and that's what makes them different, flavorful, something that monsters-drow have too, but whose development they lack, while still
not being cookie cutter villains because of it). The Dancing Maiden and the Masked Lord, and their struggle for dark elves' freedom would definitely (and meaningfully) bring this contrast on the table, without changing the role of ''bad guys'' that the race has as a whole (for the reasons I explained above), and for this reason they would complete the realmsian drow, totally fitting in their context (as they would've fitted in the Menzo book), opening a lot of possibilites for new ideas and storytelling. This is one more strong reason to bring them back and publish the cut content as a DDI article, it'd be a shame for it to not make it into the FR (and it'd be a shame to waste more choices for DMs and players to use in any setting).
3)Considering that DDN is going after modularity and inclusiveness, it'd make sense to return Eilistraee and Vhaeraun to the Realms (and, as I said, to offer the new lore that was in store for them for any use): if a DM wanted the drow to be monsters in his/her campaign, he could easily ignore the siblings, but setting-wise fans who would like to enjoy new stories and novels about them, their followers and missions (or even their appearance in stories that aren't focused on them), without the burden of an ultimate ending already set in stone by previous canon (which as I see it, was unfitting and forced for both brother and sister, looking very much like a tool to simply remove them), don't have as much choice (the best we can do is having them alive in our Realms/campaigns, which we're totally doing). The lore about the Dancing Maiden and the Masked Lord heading into the future as archfey would easily offer a basis for potential development of their role in the new hopeful era of the FR, a role that they totally deserve (besides, it wouldn't even conflict with the Sundering event: if Ao decided to write their names on the Tablets of Fate, they could easily be ''promoted'' again to deities, if he didn't they would remain archfey).
So, thank you for your attention and for the patience of reading this lengthy post (and my apologies for all the cases of bad English that you might've found in it, but English is not my first language). To the people from WotC who could be reading this, I really hope that the release of the cut lore about Eilistraee and Vhaeraun as a DDI article will be taken in consideration. It wouldn't cost you anything (as far as I know, seeing that the material can be put by the authors into DDI format within a week, without further costs), but it would be really appreciated and would make (as far as I can see) many people happy.