On this most Hallowed of Eves, it seems appropriate to cover a truly frightening creature in this weeks Monster Manual. That creature is none other than the dark goddess of drow, Lolth. Once a consort of Corellon Larethian, the creator of elves in the Forgotten Realms (D&D) lore, however, growing ambitious, Lolth schemed to have her husband murdered… as one does. She did this by sabotaging Corellon’s weapon with a spell that would cause it to shatter in combat, then set him on a path to face Gruumsh, the God of Orcs. Her plan failed, and thus began the downfall of Lolth to demon-hood. Now making her lair in the Demonweb Pits of the Abyss, the Queen of Spiders works through her Drow children to plot revenge on those who cast her out.
Lolth is the goddess of the drow, though other chaotic evil beings of the underdark have been known to worship the Lady of Shadows. As with Drow society, clerics of Lolth or those that receive her blessing are almost exclusively female. The most powerful of Lolth’s worshipers are the matriarchal heads of the five major drow houses. I had to laugh, during a recent interview with author R. A. Salvatore, he revealed that when writing his famous Drizzt novels, little was fleshed out in regard to drow culture. So, being an Italian guy from the northeast, Mr. Salvatore modeled drow society after the five families in the Godfather. Hey, write what you know! Though these powerful houses do worship Lolth, like their goddess, they’re quick to betray even her if the reward is power. To keep the drow in line, Lolth utilizes zealots and priests to uphold her law in the underdark. The Handmaidens of the Spider Queen are one such organization that hold no ties to a drow house, but acts as the terrible vengeance of their exiled goddess. While the handmaidens are a brute force, the Priestesses of Lolth use more guile and charm to lure their enemies closer before striking. Often posing as beautiful drow females to seduce their targets, before striking with a lethal poison. Regardless of the worshipers Lolth chooses to employ, the one thing they will have in common is their desire to not fail their queen. As this would certainly mean death, or worse… Unlike worshipers of other gods/goddess, most who follow Lolth attempt to avoid her attention rather than opening seek it. As the eye of spider queen rarely ends without cruel repercussions. Here are some encounter tips for using servants of Lolth in your game:
- Poisons are often used on both melee weapons and arrows
- Charm and seduction are favored strategies to separate a target
- Tentacle Rods are used by Priests and will sap the strength of the target
- Deception/Shape-shifting are favored tricks. One may slay a target and then take its place
Lolth: The Queen of Spiders
At her ichy-spider-core, Lolth is a cruel goddess that manipulates creatures into her service. Encouraging not only chaos, but open betrayal and deceit in drow culture. For example, as a drow noble house, it would be against Lolth’s wishes to attack another noble house, however, punishment is only given if anyone from that house lives to tell the tale! This constant deception has kept the drow sharp, and earned Lolth the title of the Mistress of Lies, amongst many others. In this vain, when Lolth does visit her people, she does so under the guise of a dark elf woman named Lithe. Dressed in a beautiful gown made of spider-webs, Lithe is a picture of exotic beauty. When encountering players, you should play up the deceptions and seduction aspects of Lolth. Using poisons and charm spells, the Queen of Spiders will play with her food first. However, if the players best her in battle, well… let’s just say they will soon see her real face. You see, Lolth’s true form is that of a gigantic black widow spider. Often retreating to the Demonweb, Lolth’s lair is a network of ever shifting webs. Spinning new threads and changing the surroundings, the Demonweb would be a frightening place to face off against the Spider Queen. If the party does somehow defeat Lolth, first check the cheating buggers’ rolls, however, as a goddess, she will discorporate! Only to reform in a matter of months or years. To truly kill Lolth, it’s rumored that one would have use a powerful artifact known as the Loom of Fate, but that is a story for another day. Lolth is an incredibly powerful being in the D&D universe, and you would be hard pressed to have an adventuring party that could vanquish the spider queen, however, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use her in your game. Following the themes of depiction, the players could simply be pawns in a larger game. Perhaps interacting with Lithe, and completely unaware of her true nature. So, here are some tips for playing with the lady of shadows.
- Lolth is displeased with a drow house, and wishes the players to destroy or test them. Showing up as Lithe, the mistress of lies assists the party to take down a powerful drow foe.
- Lolth is after the powerful Loom of Fate, posing as Lithe, she hires the players to escort her to elven cities to investigate the artifact and its whereabouts. As it is one of the only items that can permanently kill Lolth.
- Priests of Lolth are taking the place of nobles. The players are on to this murder mystery of doppelgangers.