Derro (Dungeons & Dragons)
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The derro are a fictional species of monstrous humanoids in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game. They were first devised for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons First Edition adventure The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.
The derro appeared in second edition for the Greyhawk setting in the adventure modules Greyhawk Ruins (1990) and Flames of the Falcon (1990), and the boxed set From the Ashes (1992). The derro then appeared in the Monstrous Manual (1993). The derro mutants appeared in Dungeon #81 (July 2000), including the multi-armed derro mutants, the grimlock-derro conjoin, and the derro with eyestalks.
Derro appear to be a degenerate subspecies of dwarves, augmented and twisted by ancient dark magics. Their rough skin is white with bluish undertones and is spotted with short tufts of coarse hair, which is well tended and trimmed in highly ritualistic tribal patterns. Their hair is straight and tends to be tan or pale yellow, and is often worn with weaves or tribal braids. Their eyes are most disturbing, as they are a uniform pale yellow in color and glow with a faint sickly yellow light, lacking in both iris and pupil.
Derro are widespread and are likely to be found in small bands 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 derro are a strange and sadistic race; 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 in various campaign settings
Derro in Greyhawk
Possible creative origins
Richard Sharpe Shaver's deros are the degenerate, sadistic descendants of a proto-race that live in vast cavern complexes below the Earth. The author, in a bipartite tale he claims is true, asserts that the European dero are responsible for activating "the Nazis guarding the camps to the abysmal depths of depravity to which they descended. For centuries, the dero have been doing the same things—and worse—though on a smaller scale."
- Boyd, Eric L. Drizzt Do'Urden's Guide to the Underdark TSR, 1999.
- Cordell, Bruce R; Gwendolyn FM Kestrel; and Jeff Quick. Underdark (Wizards of the Coast, 2003).
- Gygax, Gary. Sea of Death (New Infinities, 1987).
- Miller, Steve. The Doomgrinder (TSR, 1998).
- Moore, Roger E. "Legacies of the Suel Imperium," Dragon Magazine #241 (TSR, 1997).
- Gygax, Gary (1982). The Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth. WI: TSR. ISBN 0-935696-72-5.
- Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual II (TSR, 1983)
- Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
- Williams, Skip, Jonathan Tweet, and Monte Cook. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
- Williams, Skip. Monster Manual. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2003
- Mearls, Mike, Greg Bilsland, and Robert J. Schwalb. Monster Manual 3. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2010
- Mearls, Mike and Jeremy Crawford. Out of the Abyss. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2015
- Shaver, Richard Sharpe. Amazing Stories: I Remember Lemuria (Experimenter Publishing, March 1945)
- Shaver, Richard Sharpe. Amazing Stories: Thought Records of Lemuria (Experimenter Publishing, June 1945)
- Jacobs, James, Rob McCreary, and F. Wesley Schneider. Classic Horrors Revisited (Paizo, 2009)