A drow house insignia was an item that denoted an individual noble drow's allegiance. It was used by nobles holding the noble family name, which meant that they were either born into the family or held a rank in it.
A drow house insignia's powers could only be safely employed by someone who received an attunement spell, which was part of the attunement ritual, which was a well-known fact among priestesses of Lolth. The powers of an insignia were activated by touch with bare flesh while concentrating on which power was to be activated or with a command word.
There were a total of three categories of powers that could be activated by the above method, the minor, intermediate, and major powers. The minor powers could be used as often as the user wanted. They usually included four of the following but were not limited to them: blur, comprehend languages, water breathing, read magic, shield, feather fall, spider climb, unseen servant, corpselight, jump, water walking, and scatterspray. The intermediate power could be used twice every ten minutes. They usually included four of the following, but were not limited to them: blink, protection from cantrips, knock, hold undead, magic mouth, charm House monsters (an ability that enforced control over magically linked non-drow creatures), hold person, cloak from undead, protection from normal missiles, non-detection, web, and wizard lock (useless against those who held other insignia). The major powers had two options of uses. They could be either used once every ten minutes or nine times per day but at the leisure of the user with no cool down time. They usually included four of the following, but were not limited to them: tongues, dig, dimension door, dispel magic, illusory wall, monster summoning (between I to VII), animate dead, charm monster, ironguard, Ilyykur's mantle, fire shield, and wraithform. Other common spells included cat's grace, cloak of dark power, feather fall, and shield.
As mentioned above, unattuned people could not use a drow house insignia. If such a person touched or tried to activate a power of it, the insignia harmed the person with one of various effects like blindness for four to sixteen minutes, feeblemind for up to twenty-five minutes, a curse, burns that could not be magically healed, loss of voice for two to eight days, or being wracked with pain. A wizard could unlock an insignia and make it usable by everybody.
Wizards often built secret powers into drow house insignia, which were activated by the wizard's mental command when she or he was within 90 ft (27 m) of the tempered insignia, or when a command word taught to another person was uttered. They did this to surprise their enemies in a noble family with it in the case of internal conflicts. Some of these powers came in the form of a dimension door spell that shunted a person to a place of the wizard's choosing, obscuring smoke like that from pyrotechnics spell, becoming unbearably hot like under a heat metal spell, to a simple explosion that caused harm to everyone within 20 ft (6 m).
A drow house insignia was a reliable way to locate an individual, provided the diviner was taught how to trace it—usually by the Matron Mother, High Priestess, or House Wizard. This was because each insignia was slightly different, even those from the same noble house. The wizards, who were also the insignia's creators, were capable of protecting themselves from such tracing.
A drow house insignia was a powerful magic item and usage of it was regulated. Illicit use of it was enough to be punished with the death penalty. Sometimes, the major power of a given drow noble house was a commonly known fact. An insignia with multiple abilities was the belonging of a powerful member of a noble house.
As a general rule, a drow house insignia that was unlocked by a wizard came into the hands of another as battle-booty. The only ones who sold these powerful items were non-drow and they sold it only to other non-drow. A drow never sold such a treasure even when it originated from someone he or she hated.
Drow took special care to keep their drow house insignia safe. Only the nobles from the First House wore them openly while all others wore them in ways known only to their households.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Ed Greenwood (July 1991). The Drow of the Underdark. (TSR, Inc), p. 85. ISBN 1-56076-132-6.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 James Wyatt (September 2002). City of the Spider Queen. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 129. ISBN 0-7869-1212-X.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Sean K. Reynolds, Jason Carl (November 2001). Lords of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 181–182. ISBN 0-7869-1989-2.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Ed Greenwood (July 1991). The Drow of the Underdark. (TSR, Inc), pp. 18, 83. ISBN 1-56076-132-6.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Sean K. Reynolds, Jason Carl (November 2001). Lords of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 181. ISBN 0-7869-1989-2.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (July 1991). The Drow of the Underdark. (TSR, Inc), pp. 64, 83–86. ISBN 1-56076-132-6.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (July 1991). The Drow of the Underdark. (TSR, Inc), p. 84. ISBN 1-56076-132-6.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Ed Greenwood (July 1991). The Drow of the Underdark. (TSR, Inc), p. 83. ISBN 1-56076-132-6.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (July 1991). The Drow of the Underdark. (TSR, Inc), p. 77. ISBN 1-56076-132-6.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (July 1991). The Drow of the Underdark. (TSR, Inc), pp. 18, 81. ISBN 1-56076-132-6.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (July 1991). The Drow of the Underdark. (TSR, Inc), p. 39. ISBN 1-56076-132-6.