|A typical derro, as depicted in Underdark (2003). Art by Vance Kovacs.|
|First appearance||Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth|
The derro are a species of monstrous humanoids descended from enslaved dwarves and humans magically crossbred by the ancient Suel. They first appeared in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition module Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.
The derro are a strange and sadistic race; furthermore, they are clever, stealthy, and murderously insane. It is very common for a derro to devote his or her self to some strange quest, such as collecting only certain types of gemstones for a magical device or slaying as many members of a particular race as possible. Other derro are assigned specific missions by powerful derro savants. These mission-driven derro might join a company of comrades to fulfill their irrational goals.
Derro are widespread and are likely to be found in small tribes throughout the Underdark. Derro warrens exist in many drow and duergar cities, and independent derro strongholds lie in the deepest reaches of the Underdark. Derro scouts and marauders search the areas near and around their settlements for victims to enslave and torment.
The majority of derro dwell beneath the Sea of Dust, their ancient homeland, but derro communities are now found beneath the Hellfurnace Mountains, in Zahind, in the Abbor-Alz hills, in the Domain of Greyhawk, and in the Rakers, the Griffs, and the Corusk Mountains.
Typical physical characteristics
Derro appear to be degenerate dwarves, dwarflike humans, or some hybrid of the two. They average four feet in height. Their rough skin is white with bluish undertones and spotted with short tufts of coarse hair. Derro hair is straight and tends to be tan or pale yellow. Their eyes are most disturbing, lacking visible pupils.
Derro are usually chaotic evil.
All members of a derro tribe share a common tribal name, origin, history, dialect, and culture; most often they are extended families whose tribal name is taken from their savant leader or patron deity.
Males and females are roughly equal in derro society. Derro tribes keep slaves, usually humans, orcs, or dwarves, treating them barbarically. Humans and derro can successfully interbreed, always producing derro offspring. Derro and dwarves can also interbreed; their children are sterile males of great strength.
The gods of the derro include Diirinka and Diinkarazan, though few other than the illithids know about the latter deity. Local pantheons typically worship minor demigods as well - a derro god of death and a god of war are common. Some derro tribes have turned to other deities; these renegades are hunted down by the faithful of Diirinka at every opportunity. Tribes of derro worshiping Beltar can be found beneath the Rakers, the Griffs, and the Corusk Mountains. A tribe in Sterich ruled by the loremistress Eldrua has converted to the worship of Orcus.
The derro language, called Derrosh, has roots in Ancient Suloise and Dwarvish. Most derro are also proficient in Drow, Orc, Dwarvish, and Common.
The derro were created circa -1219 CY after the Imperial Congress of the Suel Imperium, following much debate, gave their official approval. The derro were intended to be a race of slaves meant to serve as miners, bred from human and dwarven prisoners and slaves using horrific magic. The Suel name for them was thurgamazar, or "little miners." The current name from them, derro, is derived from the Flan phrase dwur-rohoi, or "twisted dwarves."
Fortubo was so outraged by this abuse of magic and sapient beings that he virtually abandoned humanity, joining the dwarven pantheon in protest.
The derro inherited magical prowess from their Suloise ancestors as well as a covetous streak from the dwarves. They remained slaves until the Rain of Colorless Fire destroyed the Suloise Empire, leaving the derro tunnels and mines intact. The derro viewed the Rain as a great liberation, gathering under the leadership of their savants and slowly spreading into the Flanaess as far as the Thillonrian Peninsula.
- Cordell, Bruce R., Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel, and Jeff Quick. Underdark. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2003.
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- Moore, Roger E. "Legacies of the Suel Imperium." Dragon #241. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 1997.
- Sargent, Carl. From the Ashes. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1992.
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- Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1994.
- Williams, Skip, Jonathan Tweet, and Monte Cook. Monster Manual. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2000.