Drow chess game – sava

The titular game is a drow variant of chess. It is played on spiderweb-shaped board, with Warrior, Slave, Mage, Priestess or Mother as the pieces. One set of pieces is to represent a drow noble house. The pieces are made of onyx and charneol usually.

The player can make one move per turn. In addition, once per game, a player can throw two eight sided dice (2d8). Two ones (marked as spider) is the desired result.

The game features a bit in the War of the Spider Queen book series, and to an even greater degree in the Lady Penitent series.


Someone made a detailed ruleset for sava, complete with pictures of the game board.  Check it out here. It has several variants and a short history too. Excellent work!

Now the only thing left is to wish someone actually makes the game playable in flash…


In „Drow of the Underdark” (AD&D), a similar game is mentioned, only it is called Shelza Ir and there is a point value to the pieces. Just see the quote from the boardgamegeek site:


„Their most popular board game is a tactical game called Shelza Ir. It superficially resembles chess, though the board is far larger. The two opposing sides do not have an equal number of pieces, but they do have an equal point value. The more valuable a piece is, the farther it can move in a turn, and the more unusual maneuvers — such as moving diagonally, or jumping other pieces — it can make. When a piece captures an enemy piece, it not only removes it from the board, it gains a portion of the enemy’s value, raising its status to a more powerful piece. Under certain circumstances, a player can actually capture one of his own pieces, removing it from the board but granting some of its points to the victorious piece — thus teaching even the youngest of drow tacticians the benefits of sacrificing a portion of one’s own forces for a larger gain.”

„A drow board game akin to chess, where the point value determines the distance and manner in which each piece moves. The higher value, the more oddly and further it can go. Points are gained by taking another’s piece, and occasionally even taking one’s own.”


Want to know more?

Forgotten Realms Wiki

The thread on Candlekeep Forum


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