So, I'm going to start by saying this, and I'm probably going to say it many more times later on as well... but let's tee this one up first:
Drow. Are. Elves.
Drow are elves, Larian. That's a thing that they are. They're elves. They are not, in fact, their own independent species of being; they're actually elves. It's kind of an important thing to them, in fact.
Drow is not a separate race from elf, any more than deep gnome is a separate race from rock gnome. What they are
is a subrace of elf.
It's right there in the hand book, and further confirmed by all recent material as well: Drow are one of the subraces of the elven people. They are not some complete and entire “other” that needs to be treated like an alien genus – They're elves.
Larian have enough work ahead of them supplying all of the core handbook races to us without dissembling in this way without any true justification or cause.
It goes deeper: Being a drow elf is tough, especially if you are going to the surface to live apart from your own traditional society. It's difficult because of the way in which your people are perceived by others, especially surface-dwellers.
There are no sub-races of 'nice drow' and 'nasty drow' – they're all just drow. A difference of political opinion, religion or lifestyle choice does not make you a separate type of entity, and that's kind of the whole POINT
of adventuring drow. It's the whole point of what makes someone like Drizzt admirable and heroic. It's hard to break the shackles of your society's roles to begin with, as a drow, and it's hard twice over when you get to the surface, and all anyone can tell of you when they look at you, is that you are a drow – who traditionally, by their rigid social structure, have only ever been bad news for surfacers. That's the point. And you missed it. You missed it so hard that the barn doesn't even know it was shot at.
Rejecting Lolth and her teachings is a choice – a difficult choice – that a drow must make for themselves. It's not a thing they're born to, and it's not a trait of their subrace; it's a choice.
In making separate subraces of drow, and in making drow themselves a separate race from other elves, you've discarded an important part of what it means to be a surface drow in a world that is predisposed to be wary and mistrustful of your intentions and your very presence. Worse than that, however – rather than provide an alternative, you've effectively doubled down on and *justified* the fantasy racism normally levied against drow, because you've said that, in fact, there IS a physical, tangible difference between the “bad, evil drow” and the “good drow who aren't like those other bad evil drow”... and that that difference exists at a racial level.
Drow are elves. A subrace of elves, in fact, very much like deep gnomes are a subrace of gnomes, and the different bloodlines of tiefling are all still tiefling. Beyond that, what sort of a drow you are – whether you follow Lolth, or seek to reject her, that's a choice to make, not a thing of race. Let us make that choice for ourselves, as characters and as players both. Let us define ourselves as we make that choice, and uphold it day to day – or don't, as the case may well be.
Mechanically, there's no reason for drow to be a separate race from elves, and no reason for there to exist any further subdivisions of drow; doing so actually removes agency, rather than supporting it.
Make drow a subrace of elf, like the forgotten realms lore says. They can get the 'drow' tag as well as the 'elf' tag easily enough, just like halflings can get 'halfling' and 'lightfoot halfling' tags. If it feels really important, you could even have the drow subrace have a selection box, not unlike cleric selecting a deity, or a high elf selecting their cantrip choice, to say whether they follow Lolth or don't.
What was the reason for deviating from the lore in this way? What justification?
In the game currently, there's not a mechanical difference between your subraces of drow; neverwinter online tried this as well, as nothing more than a cash grab, and it was hated almost universally there; do not doubt that it will fail to find good favour here.
Let's do a quick comparison:
We can note several things here, such as the fact that high elves lose out on a bonus which no longer applies, but don't get anything back in return for it, unlike wood elves, who do. Drow, meanwhile, are missing their keen senses trait (I saw someone comment that they get perception proficiency anyway; this is not true.)
Most importantly, however, is that there's no mechanical reason why drow should not be a normal subrace of Elf, like they're meant to be. It all fits perfectly well, and aside from the expression of physically externalised fantasy racism, drow 1 and drow 2 are mechanically identical.
In fact, when you line it all up, the design choice that Larian has made here makes it seem like they've made more
work for themselves than just sticking with the handbook ordering of things, for ultimately no difference or benefit...
So I have to ask, why? Why would you choose to implement things in a way that takes more work than less, when the only functional difference for doing so is to amplify and reinforce the sense of racial segregation and fantasy racism to a greater extent than it will already occur?
Please redo this to be more in line with the existing books; Drow as one of the subraces of elves, possibly with a selection box to say whether you follow Lolth or not.