|Intermediate Power, "Queen of Spiders, Queen of the Demonweb Pits"|
|Pantheon: Dark Seldarine|
|AoC: Spiders, evil, darkness, drow|
|Worshippers: any drow|
|AL: CE||WAL: LN,LE,N,NE,CN,CE|
|Symbol: Black spider with female drow head|
|Home p/r: Abyss/Demonweb Pits|
|Allies: Graz'zt (sometimes), Kiaransalee, Loviatar, Selvetarm|
|Enemies: The Seldarine, Blibdoolpoolp, The Blood Queen, Deep Duerra, Diinkarazan, Diirinka, Eilistraee, Ghaunadaur, Ilsensine, Laduguer, Laogzed, Maanzecorian, Psilofyr, Vhaeraun|
|Favored Weapon: Whip|
|Domains: Chaos, Darkness, Destruction, Evil, Trickery|
|Subdomains: Catastrophe, Deception, Loss, Night, Tanar'ri, Thievery|
|Known Proxies: Eclavdra (Px/♀ drow/C23 (Lolth)/CE)|
Leader of the drow, the greatest of the Dark Seldarine, Lolth née Araushnee is among the most well-known of elven deities on the planes. Though little involved (though not uninvolved) in the Blood War, she can still be seen anywhere with an Abyssal presence, with a prominence far outpacing the planar relevance of the drow.
Millennia ago, Lolth (then known as Araushnee) was one of the Seldarine herself, lover of Corellon Larethian and goddess of artisans, destiny, and dark elves. Before her fall, she bore him two children — Eilistraee and Vhaeraun. But eventually she came to stand against the Seldarine and all they stood for. There are two stories of her fall from grace; that told by the elves, and that told by the drow.
The elves say that Araushnee, seeing the non-elven peoples spreading across the lands of the Prime, grew angry. She sought to take from Corellon power over creation, to allow for elven domination over all. She began playing two fronts, sowing discord amongst the other peoples while aiding those that pit themselves against Corellon, such as Gruumsh of the orcs. Attacks on Corellon grew more frequent, but he did not suspect the source until Araushnee's treachery was unveiled by Sehanine Moonbow. She formed a coalition, the Dark Seldarine, including among others Vhaeraun, Gruumsh, Ghaunadaur, and a reluctant Eilistraee. The wars between elves and drow began, but in the end the Seldarine were victorious. Araushnee was cursed to her arachnid form, her name stripped from her and replaced with the epithet "Lolth" (derived from a mixture of Elven and Abyssal words for "traitor" or "betrayer"), and she was banished to the Abyss with those deities that followed her. Those mortals in her faith, the dark elves, were cursed as well, banished from the light and forced to move to the underground realms known as the Underdark.
The drow, however, tell a different tale. That of Araushnee as the only deity wise enough to see the corrupting influence the gods of other peoples were having on the Seldarine. Only she had the wisdom to defend the elven people from those that would corrupt them, but Corellon was seduced, converted to their side. Araushnee did what she had to do, gathering what allies she could to fight for the elves, but her efforts were in vain, she and those mortals still loyal to her punished for nothing more than trying to protect them all. With such an act, they showed themselves as unworthy of the care of Lolth, too far gone to be saved. Now nothing more but another corrupting force to be destroyed. Thanks to this, even the very name "Araushnee" is taboo to the drow, rarely even known of beyond the priesthood caste.
In either story, Lolth had been banished to the Abyss, much of her divinity lost. She collected herself, recovering her strength through battle against demon lords and the growing numbers of drow that worshiped her and no others. As more drow focused their faith on her, she grew stronger than she had been even as Araushnee, soon ruling over all deities of the drow; even Kiaransalee, for tens of thousands of years before the descent a deity of the dark elves entirely separate from the Seldarine. Finally, some 11,000 years ago, she turned her attention to the Prime in force, seeking the corruption and indeed eventual destruction of those that would profess faith to the Seldarine. While she did achieve some successes, for the most part these wars went nowhere; as such, Lolth adjusted her strategy for good from outright warfare to guerrilla strikes, slowly eating away at the forces of the surface until they could no longer stand against her.
She has since turned more and more attention to the planes, cultivating relationships with other forces divine and not, manifesting the yochlol — her own caste of tanar'ri to serve her — and generally exploiting the lack of attention the Seldarine have given to the planes in their focus on the Prime. Thanks to their reclusion, it is indeed true that far more planars will have heard of Lolth than Corellon, let alone the lesser members of that pantheon. On the planes, it would not be unfair to say that the Dark Seldarine has won the battle.
The priestesses of Lolth (for her faith is exclusively female) are harsh, holding rule over the entirety of the drow in nearly all aspects. They are well-trained to use every advantage they have in exerting their rule; physical, mental, and social. The slightest transgression among the lesser castes is grounds for punishment, which most often takes the form of either sacrifice or transformation to a drider. Her priestesses (the specific titles of which vary from region to region) are ever watchful for any weakness in the kind that deserves scouring, in order to greater achieve the eventual goal of domination.
Of course, the priestesses do not merely hold power over the drow. They are charged with improving the drow in all aspects, and this involves improving the strong as well as culling the weak. The various academies, schools, and institutions in all drow cities are most often led by and run by a sect of Lolth's faith, and though drow education can be harsh, it is quite effective in sharpening the abilities and talents of any given drow to a fine point. While broad educations are rare outside the noble caste (the only drow with enough time to indulge in a variety of fields), drow that have passed through such training have great ability in their singular focus. Lolth's faith is also charged with keeping records and histories of all drow cities, ensuring a permanent and accurate recounting of all successes and failures never to be forgotten, so that they may forever revel in the former and learn from the latter.
As with Lolth herself, ambition is rewarded far more than loyalty among the faithful, with those that betray their superiors in order to gain greater prominence celebrated rather than punished; of course, those that try and fail suffer greatly, not for any sort of transgression against the faith but for the failure itself. Only the strong deserve success, and if one is strong enough to take power from those above them, they not only should but must.
Spiders are naturally a holy animal to the faith of Lolth, greatly honored in whatever form they may take. Priestesses of Lolth will always include spider iconography in their dress, and most keep some form of spider as a pet. Spider silk is a part of nearly all Lolthite garb, and nearly any weapon held by a priestess is likely to be envenomed with the poison of some spider. Other common possessions amongst the priesthood of Lolth include whips and scourges — obviously considering their importance to Lolth — gems and jewelry of all sorts, enchanted or otherwise, and of course the infamous "tentacle rod", an enchanted flail somewhat like a cat-o'-nine-tails that can strike on its own when wielded by one of Lolth's priestesses.
The drow deserve all, for they have struggled more than any. Hated by an entire pantheon, yet you persevere. That which you don't have, you must take. The Underdark, the surface worlds, all are your birthright. Fight, grow strong, prove yourselves worthy of it at all costs. Let nothing and no one stand in your way; not enemies, not friends, not even family. Trust no one but yourself.
- The Deities of the Flanaess: Lolth
- Deities and Demigods, pp.81-83
- Demihuman Deities, pp.28-36
- Monster Mythology, pg.62
- On Hallowed Ground, pg.100