Lolth (LOLTH) is the goddess of the drow race and drow society. She is responsible for the nature, customs, laws, and survival of most drow communities. The Spider Queen maintains her absolute rule over drow cities by means of her clergy, who tirelessly seek out and destroy all traces of dissent, disobedience, rival faiths, or sacrilege and ruthlessly enforce the Way of Lolth. The Spider Queen foments unending chaos in drow society and sets the drow eternally at war with each other both for her own amusement and to prevent complacency, runaway pride from asserting itself, or the rise of other faiths. Lolth is also venerated by chitines, a small spiderlike race that are castoffs of the drow.
As Araushnee, Lolth was once a lesser power of the Seldarine and the consort of Corellon Larethian. She was the patron of artisans, the goddess of elven destiny, and-later, by Corellon's decree-the keeper of those elves who shared her darkly beautiful features. The Weaver of Destiny bore Corellon twin godlings-Vhaeraun and Eilistraee-before she turned against her lover and betrayed him. First she aided Gruumsh One-Eye, chief among the orcish gods, in one of his perennial battles with the Creator of the Elves, and then she set Malar on the trail of the weakened Corellon after observing the Beastlord defeat Herne on Faerun. When these plots failed as a result of Corellon's skill at arms and Sehanine's interference, Araushnee raised a host of hostile powers-the anti-Seldarine-to assault Arvandor. Despite the treachery of Araushnee, and to a lesser extent, Vhaeraun, the assault failed and the perfidy of Corellon's consort and son were revealed. By order of the Council of the Seldarine, Araushnee was transformed into a spider-shaped tanar'ri and banished to the Abyss.
As an Abyssal Lord, Araushnee assumed the name Lolth and conquered a considerable portion of that foul plane, driving off Ghaunadaur and subjugating Kiaransalee in the process. The Spider Queen then turned her attentions toward corrupting the mortal children of the Seldarine and reclaiming her divinity. Lolth's attentions were drawn once again to Abeir-Toril by the intrusion of the moon elven heroine Kethryllia Amarillis into her domain, and the Spider Queen immediately began to cultivate followers among the most cruel and corrupt of Corellon's children in Faerun. In the centuries that followed, Lolth made great inroads among the warlike Ilythiiri, who had long since spread across the South conquering their kin-folk under the careful guidance of Vhaeraun, and to a lesser extent, Ghaunadaur. Lolth's machinations among the elves culminated in the Crown Wars, and eventually, the descent of the drow into the Underdark, but by that time she had enmeshed most of the dark-skinned Ilythiiri, now drow, in her webs and engendered the death of countless elves and the destruction of much of elven civilization in Faerun.
In the centuries since the Crown Wars, Lolth's followers have continued to spread throughout the Underdark, from Dusklyngh to T'lindhet and from Guallidurth to now fallen V'elddrinnsshar. While other powers contest her rule, the Spider Queen's dominion over the dark elves continues to expand, albeit more slowly than before. Lolth's followers have been occupied with the conquest of the Underdark and the destruction of the faerie elves of the surface, and the Spider Queen has never ceased in her efforts to destroy the elven sanctuary of Evermeet.
Since the Time of Troubles, Lolth has assumed additional aspects as two of her many stratagems to increase the ranks of her faithful and thus her own personal power. In the drow city of Menzoberranzan, in the Underdark beneath the North where Lolth-or Lloth, as she is known there-appeared during the Time of Troubles, the Spider Queen has allowed rumors to spread of a new demipower of chaos and assassins, Zinzerena the Hunted. While Zinzerena was once a legendary drow assassin and later an emerging demipower of a world other than Abeir-Toril, the Spider Queen recently slew Zinzerena--or at least banished her influence from the Realms--and assumed her aspect as a test to see if additional divine aspects increased or decreased the total (albeit fragmented) divine power available. In the Lands of Light, Lolth has long found that the deeply imbued racial antipathy of the surface elves toward the Spider Queen interferes with her attempts to seduce otherwise eminently corruptible individuals. With the death of Moander, always a more comprehensible (and tempting) force of evil to the nature-loving surface elves than the Spider Queen, Lolth has assumed the Darkbringer's aspect and portfolio of rotting death, decay, and corruption and revived its cult in a bid to add elven, half-elven, and human worshipers to the ranks of her faithful.
Although the Spider Queen detests all the members of the Seldarine, Lolth reserves her deepest hatred for her former lover, Corellon Larethian, who banished her to the Abyss and named her tanar'ri. The Spider Queen particularly loathes Sehanine Moonbow, long her rival, for her part in foiling Lolth's bid to replace Corellon as head of the Seldarine. The Spider Queen has also vowed vengeance against Fenmarel Mestarine, who spurned her after initially falling to her seductions.
Lolth is a cruel, capricious goddess, thought by many to be insane. She delights in setting her worshipers at each other's throats, so that the strongest, most devious and most cruel survive to serve her. Lolth roams the Realms often, appearing in answer to the rituals of drow priests, and working whatever harm she can to the enemies of drow. (During the Time of Troubles, Lolth appeared in the northern city of Menzoberranzan for a short period of time.) The Spider Queen secretly wants to be worshiped by humans and elves of other races on the surface Realms, and sometimes journeys among their communities, whispering of the power Lolth can bring. Lolth is malicious in her dealings and coldly vicious in a fight. She enjoys both personally dealing and causing death, destruction, and painful torture. Even more, Lolth enjoys corrupting elves and humans to her service. Lolth can be kind and render aid to those she fancies but she really cares only for herself; her favor and aid can never be relied on. The Spider Queen enjoys the company of and can converse with spiders of all sorts.
In very recent history (1372 DR to be exact), Lolth underwent a transformation of sorts, and despite the fact that her followers were unable to contact her during that time and many left her service because of it, she came out far more powerful than when she went into seclusion. She is now a Greater deity, and during the process she also managed to withdraw her deific realm--the Demonweb Pit--from the Abyss, and made the Pits a realm unto themselves.
There are far more questions than answers in the wake of Lolth's transformation, so none are quite sure what the future will bring.
[ WEBMASTER'S NOTE: Please be advised that any information pertaining to Lolth's divine rank (aside from the fact that I noted she's now a Greater deity) found below is outdated as of the end of the War of the Spider Queen series. Unfortunately, WotC hasn't offered any new information in the wake of that series, so we'll all have to wait until they do to update this.]
(The Spider Queen, Queen of Spiders, Demon Queen of Spiders, Demon Queen of the Abyss, Queen of the Demonweb Pits, Weaver of Chaos, the Hunted, the Mother of Lusts, Dark Mother of All Drow, Lady of Spiders)
DIVINE RANK: Greater Deity
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Evil
PORTFOLIO: Spiders, evil, darkness, chaos, assassins, the drow race, depraved elves
ALIASES: Araushnee, Lloth (Menzoberranzan and Uluitur), Megwandir, Moander, Zinzerena
DOMAIN NAME: The Demonweb Pits
ALLIES: Loviatar, Malar, Selvetarm
FOES: Deep Duerra, Eilistraee, Ghaunadaur, Gruumsh, Ibrandul (dead), Kiaransalee, Laduguer, Moander (dead), the Seldarine, Vhaeraun, Blibdoolpoolp, the Blood Queen, Diinkarazan, Diirinka, Great Mother, Gzemnid, Ilsensine, Ilxendren, Laogzed, Maanzecorian (dead), Psilofyr
SYMBOL: Black spider with female drow head (at bottom of figure) or black cloak and short sword (Zinzerena aspect)
WORSHIPER ALIGNMENTS: LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE
CLERIC ALIGNMENTS: CE, CN, NE
FAVORED WEAPON: A spider (dagger)
Fear is as strong as steel, while love and respect are soft, useless feelings that none can lean on. All drow who do not worship Lolth must be converted or destroyed. All weak and rebellious drow must be weeded out. All who impugn the faith must perish. Males or slaves of other races who act independently of Lolth's dictates (and those of other priests) must be sacrificed to Lolth. Those of the faithful whose loyalty is weak must be eliminated. Children are to be raised as loyal worshipers of Lolth, and each family should produce at least one priest to serve the Spider Queen better than his or her parents. Arachnids of all sorts are to be revered, and anyone who mistreats or kills a spider must die.
Lolth rarely aids her worshipers directly, preferring to watch and enjoy their sufferings and struggles. If she wants someone to know that she is watching, Lolth causes a smirking pair of sensuous lips to appear on any spider present. The spider is always outlined in a flickering purple faerie fire. If no spider is present, Lolth creates a smiling, spider-shaped shadow of giant size. More rarely, Lolth acts directly. In such cases, her power may be seen as a flickering black, mauve-edged radiance around a person or object temporarily imbued with her power.
Lolth typically acts through the appearance of yochlol, the handmaidens of Lolth, or myrlochar, the soul spiders. She also acts through the appearance or presence of abyss ants, aranea, bebiliths, brambles (petty faeries), cildabrin, darkweavers, deep dragons, driders, fallen and corrupted eladrin, ettercaps, greelox, kalin, living webs, pedipalpi (large, huge, and giant varieties), quasits, retrievers, shadowdrakes, solifugids (large, huge, and giant varieties), spiders (brain, hairy, large, hook, huge, gargantuan, giant, phase, sword, vortex, watch and wraith varieties), spiderstone golems, tanar'n, red widows, wall walkers, webbirds, and werespiders. Lolth has never been known to employ steeders as minions, and their use as steeds by the duergar hints at an ancient pact between Lolth and Laduguer. The Spider Queen shows her favor through the discovery of arachnids encased in amber, black sapphires, datchas, and webstone, and her displeasure by causing items of value (usually gems) to shatter into eight pieces of roughly equal size.
Lolth enters the Prime Material Plane in avatar form or allows herself to be contacted only when it pleases her to do so. Otherwise, Lolth's servant yochlol are reached. Such contact rituals require the use of a brazier of burning oils, coals, or incense-burned in a vessel fashioned of a valuable black material (such as onyx, obsidian, or a golden bowl whose interior is studded with black pearls). The flames provide material that the magic transforms into an interplanar gate temporarily linking the 66th layer of the Abyss with the Prime Material Plane. Through this link, the yochlol appear, using flame material to fashion semblances of themselves. If called with sufficient force, a yochlol can emerge fully from its gate. Lolth usually orders her handmaidens to remain in the Prime Material Plane only so long as the flames that brought them remain-the dying of the summoning flame then allows a yochlol the safety of being sucked instantly back to the Abyss. Yochlol who are summoned can keep the gate that brought them open while they communicate with Lolth and others in the Abyss. (Such communication demands their full attention, causing their Prime Material forms to go momentarily blank faced and unhearing.) They can also send one creature of the Abyss into the Prime Material Plane, loose of all control and against the wishes of the summoner. This act causes the destruction of the gate and the disappearance of the yochlol. Such sends are usually myrlochar.
Members of Lolth's clergy must be drow or chitines, although little is known about the latter, even among the dark elves themselves.
The Spider Queen is the subject of terrifying legend among most surface dwellers and seen as virtually synonymous with the greatly feared drow. In the Underdark, she is a well-known evil, hated for the cruel power of her priests by dwarves, svirfneblin, and other races. Few elves are even willing to discuss their deep-dwelling kin, let alone the dark goddess who is blamed in large part for their depravity and for leading them into evil. Only the dark elven priests of Eilistraee are even willing to discuss the Spider Queen, and their fury at her enslavement of their kin exceeds even that of the other elven subraces. Lolth is hated and feared even by her most devout priests; they venerate her for the power she provides, not out of any sense of affection or loyalty or principles. Dark elves who venerate other evil gods as well all male drow who pay her homage revile both the Spider Queen and her priests for the power they possess, not that they would not seize such power for themselves if they could.
Noble Houses have their own private temples, and every drow city has at least one large, open public gathering-area for large rituals, calls to war, and the like. Most cities also have a grand temple to the Spider Queen, used for training priests. In every temple, despite large differences in size, opulence, and importance, certain constants apply. Inner chambers are reserved for the worship and business of Lolth, including most spellcasting. These chambers are always shrouded in darkness, except for the radiances involved in spellcasting and rituals. Antechambers are set aside for warcouncils, and most business wherein priests meet with drow males and outsiders. Most temples have guardian creatures, often hidden, and occasionally magical in nature (such as jade spiders). These usually include spiders of all sorts. In the event of an attack, even the harmless sorts of spiders can be equipped with armor-sheaths, strapped to their backs, that bear House defense runes-or even, in the case of intelligent, charmed spiders, house insignia with active magic powers may be wielded. Statuettes of the Spider Queen, usually worked of black stone, are present in all temple chambers. Marble and obsidian are favored materials for statuary and temple furniture. There are always large, ornately carved (with spider shapes) braziers, and at least one altar of black stone. Titles used by Lolthite priests vary widely from city to city but are strictly enforced within their respective domains. As an example, in Guallidurth, deep beneath Calimshan, Lolth's clergy are known collectively as Yom'yathrins. In ascending order, the hierarchy of titles for the Temple City of Lolth include Noamutha, Khalessa, Kyorla, Alura, Quartha, Talintha, Elamshina, and Xundusa. High-ranking priests of the Spider Queen are collectively known as yathtallars. If they rule a noble house they are known as Ilharess (Matron Mother), but otherwise they are titled Streea'Valsharess (Black Widow). Specialty priests are known as arachnes.
The clergy of Lolth includes dark elves (94%) and chitines (6%). Of the dark elves, 96% are female; there are male priests of Lolth (4%), but the Spider Queen very rarely allows them to rise above 7th level of experience.
Earlier you read Lolth's dogma, and such are the commands of Lolth, but the priest who follows them blindly is on a slippery path leading to swift death. Success in the service of Lolth lies with those who are attentive to the ever changing, often contradictory will of Lolth. Lolth's capricious nature makes hard-and-fast rules few and uncertainty great. Of course, questioning Lolth's motives or wisdom is a sin. Aiding nondrow against drow is a great sin, as is ignoring the Spider Queen's commands in favor of love. (Lolth often tests her priests by ordering the sacrifice of a favored consort.) Drow who lose the favor of Lolth are always given a single chance to redeem themselves. This is usually a dangerous or difficult mission, though Lolth may test certain individuals by setting no task at all and observing what they do. Those who willfully fail are destroyed. Lolth commands other worshipers to do this (in turn, testing them). Those who fail through mischance or poor planning or execution are usually transformed into driders. Lolth often plays favorites among her drow worshipers, but those who ride high one season are warned that Lolth can turn her dark face upon them without warning and undoubtedly will sometime soon.
Lolth's priests are the rulers, police forces, judges, juries, and executioners of drow society. They wield power daily, and most do so in a manner in keeping with the cruel and capricious nature of Lolth herself. Priests of Lolth strive to act as Lolth wishes and to manipulate (often by brutal force) their fellow drow to do so too. The ultimate aim of every priest is to achieve and keep the Favor of Lolth. The spirits of priests who die in her favor are believed to go to the Abyss, where they become yochlol and other servant creatures. Those who die in Lolth's disfavor are thought to pass into torment on another plane somewhere, perhaps to someday return to the Realms as a snake or spider. (Drow beliefs are confused on such matters, and often change with time and location.) The duties of a good priest, then, are to do whatever is necessary to gain and to keep the Spider Queen's favor. Although treachery and cruelty are often rewarded, Lolth does not look kindly on those who let personal grudges and revenge-taking bring defeat or shame to their House, clan, city, or band.
Holy Days/Important Ceremonies:
Lolth requires homage-submission in prayer, plus offerings regularly from her priests. Ceremonies involving the sacrifice of surface elves are performed monthly during nights of the full moon as deliberate affronts to Sehanine, Lolth's hated rival. Rituals to Lolth are customarily practiced in female only company in a sacred room or area. Rituals requiring extraordinary power or a public display may be celebrated in the open and in all sorts of mixed company When Lolth's aid is required, sacrifices must be made. These are traditionally the blood of drow faithful and/or captured foes, spilled with a spider-shaped knife whose eight descending legs are blades (2d6 points of damage). In other cases, gems or other precious objects may be burned in braziers, as prayers of offering are chanted. In large, important rituals, priests of Lolth customarily use eight braziers to provide additional flame material and in homage to Lolth (the flames represent her eight legs). The most powerful rituals to Lolth defy detailed description and are seldom seen by nondrow.
Rituals to Lolth involve the burning of precious oils and incense, live offerings, and riches of all sorts, particularly gems. These are customarily placed in a bowl-shaped depression in a black altar (or burning brazier). These offerings are always consumed in the flames of Lolth at some point in the ritual. If Lolth is particularly displeased, or impostors are present, the black-and-red flames that leap from the braziers to consume the offerings may also arc to consume other valuables present, such as magical items, jewelry, and clothing. Typically, Lolth's flames do little more than humiliate a burned priest, destroying his or her garments and dealing him or her 1d4 points of damage, but an impostor or intruder receives a searing flame attack that does 6d6 points of damage (half on a successful Reflex save DC 15). If this occurs, every priest of Lolth present in the chamber instantly receives a free darkfire spell to wield, even if she or he is carrying a full load of spells or has other darkfire spells memorized. The spell comes with the strong command to use it, forthwith, to blast those who would so insult Lolth.
Major Centers of Worship:
Deep beneath the deserts of Calimshan and the southern tunnels of Deep Shanatar is Guallidurth, the Temple City of Lolth. The Matron Mothers of twenty-one noble Houses sit on the ruling Council of this ancient city, each representing one (or more, in some cases) sect, cult, or faction of the Spider Queen's faithful. One measure of a sect's relative influence is the magnificence of the house of worship it can afford to construct. As a result, Guallidurth contains hundreds, if not thousands, of temples dedicated to Lolth ranging in size from simple shrines to modest chapels to grand cathedrals. Many of the city's temples are ruined, their congregations long since murdered in the endless religious strife that rages across the city,or abandoned, their congregations able to afford more ostentatious (and defensible) houses of worship. Only the unforgivable heresy of dark elves worshiping other gods, such as the cities of Vhaeraun worshipers in Sarenestar (the Forest of Mir), unites the Lolthite clergies of Guallidurth in common cause and even such endeavors are usually doomed to failure by the infighting among members of the various sects.
The Militant Myrlochar, also known as the Order of Soul Spiders, is an elite military order composed solely of male crusaders and found in the few dark elven cities where Lolth is revered and males are permitted to enter her priesthood. The Militant Myrlochar directly serve the ruling Matron Mothers of the city in which they are based as agents of uncontrolled destruction, tirelessly hunting any creature designated as their quarry or who interferes with their pursuit and wreaking havoc until recalled (which rarely happens) or destroyed (their most common fate). The Handmaidens of the Spider Queen is an order of female crusaders with no permanent ties to any individual city. Also known as the Daughters of the Yochlol, the Handmaidens serve as instruments of Lolth's will in times when the Spider Queen needs to bring an entire city into line. At least three times in recorded history the Handmaidens of the Spider Queen have assaulted and destroyed an entire dark elven city that threatened to drift from Lolth's web of chaos. When not assembled into an army of chaos and vengeance, the Handmaidens work in small companies scattered throughout the Underdark, harassing merchant trains that look to Vhaeraun for protection and conducting hit-and-run raids on cities ruled by clergy of the Masked Lord or That Which Lurks.
Drow in the Realms have embraced offshoots of the major faiths, usually following a charismatic mortal leader who claims to be something more. The only such cult known to be still active, albeit in a debased form, is the She-Spider Cult, a Thayan-based sect that tried to link worship of Shar with devotion to Lolth. Opposed in the end by both goddesses, the Cult enjoyed initial success as a secret society operating slaving and drug running operations in Mulhorand, Unther, and southern Thay. They eventually degenerated into a criminal gang without divine support. The Cult still stages fake rituals to thrill worshipers and to slay foes under the guise of sacrifices.
When participating in rituals, priests of Lolth work unclad or wear robes (black, trimmed with dark red and purple-or, for lesser or novitiate priests, dark purple or red trimmed with black). In some cities ornate helms carved to resemble writhing spiders are worn by Lolth's clergy, while in others heads are always left uncovered. Jewelry worn by the Spider Queen's priests consists of spider medallions and other spider designs, all made of platinum. The holy symbol of the faith is a platinum disk at least 3 inches in diameter with an embossed depiction on both its obverse and reverse in jet black enamel of a black widow spider or a platinum spider figurine on a platinum or mithral chain necklace.
Lolth's clergy favor drowcraft chainmail with magical bonuses ranging from +1 to +5. Some priests also carry adamantite bucklers with similar properties to that of drowcraft chainmail and with magical bonuses ranging from +1 to +3. Clerics of the Spider Queen typically wield adamantite maces-again with similar properties to that of drowcraft chainmail with magical bonuses ranging from +1 to +5. In addition to maces, crusaders and arachnes sometimes wield adamantite short swords and long daggers, with magical bonuses ranging from +1 to +3 (+4 if they are of noble blood). Most senior clerics of Lolth carry snake-headed whips of fangs, and delight in using them often.