Lolth (also spelled Lloth), known as the Queen of Spiders or the Queen of the Demonweb Pits, is the most influential goddess of the drow, within the pantheon of the Dark Seldarine (Dark Elves). She is the goddess of Darkness, Drow, Evil, and Spiders.
Lolth drove the drow into heavy infighting under the pretense of culling the weak, while her real goals were to hold absolute control over the dark elves, prevent the rise of alternative faiths or ideas, and avoid complacency (even though she found amusement in the strife that plagued her followers' communities). However, in the long run her influence proved to be an obstacle to the growth and success of the drow, preventing them from unifying against common enemies or for a common cause.
Her sacred animals were arachnids. She considered them valuable enough to kill those who mistreated them.
Worshipers, Clergy & Temples
The Spider Queen is the subject of terrifying legends among most surface dwellers and is 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 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. Lolth is also worshipped by spidery creatures called chitines and araneas, and by some human cultists such as Lareth the Beautiful.
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.
Drow who fail Lolth are usually either slain or transformed into driders: centaur-like creatures that have spider-like bodies below their waists instead of a centaur's equine features. Other aberrations that Lolth transforms her victims into include the aracholoth, spiderleg horror, and brood mother.
Lolth's clerics are usually female. There are rare male clerics, but no male is allowed to achieve the rank of high priest. Her clerics wear red and black, and drow tunics and helms. The Spider Queen's sacred animals are (naturally) arachnids.
During rituals, clerics of Lolth are nude or clad in black robes with purple and deep red trim. Lesser clerics wear dark red or purple robes, trimmed with black. Ornate spider-shaped helms may also be worn.
When participating in rituals, clerics wear black robes with red or purple trim. Lesser or novitiate priests wear 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 black widow spider of jet black enamel. Alternatively, priests wear a platinum spider figurine on a platinum or mithral chain necklace.
When going to battle or adventuring, Lolth's clergy favor magical drow chain mail. Some priests also carry adamantite bucklers and wield magical weapons, including adamantite maces, short swords and long daggers. Priests may also employ hand-held crossbows with bolts that are coated with drow sleep poison that renders a victim unconscious for 2d4 hours if she or he fails a saving throw vs. poison with a -4 penalty. Similarly, crusaders and arachnes sometimes employ small javelins coated with the same poison as the darts. Most senior priests of Lolth carry snake-headed whips of fangs, and delight in using them often.
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'y-athrins. 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.
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 except 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. In the case of intelligent, charmed spiders, house insignia with active magic powers may be wielded. Statuettes of the Spider Queen, generally 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.
Ceremonies to the Spider Queen are held on the nights of the full moon as a deliberate affront to Sehanine Moonbow.
Surface elves are sacrificed to Lolth monthly. By custom, only females are permitted to attend these rituals, which take place in a sacred room. Some rituals, however, involve extraordinary power or require public display, and these may be performed in the open, in mixed company. When Lolth's aid is required, the blood of enemies of the faith and/or the faithful is spilled with a spider-shaped knife. Gems or other treasures may be sacrificed by casting them into burning braziers while the appropriate prayers are incanted.
Lolth's taste in sacrifice is perverse. She prefers the blood of elves to other humanoids, that of drow to other elves, and craves the deaths of her own priestesses more than any other beings. This last sort of sacrifice is extremely rare, but it pleases the Queen of Spiders above all else.
Periodically, drow may be forced to prove themselves worthy of Lolth's favor in a variety of harsh tests. Those who pass are rewarded, while those who fail are transformed into driders and other horrific beasts.
A secret sacrificial prayer (in Abyssal) known only to high priestesses follows:
"Great Goddess, Mother of the Dark, grant me the blood of my enemies for drink and their living hearts for meat. Grant me the screams of their young for song, grant me the helplessness of their males for my satisfaction, grant me the wealth of their houses for my bed. By this unworthy sacrifice I honor you, Queen of Spiders, and beseech of you the strength to destroy my foes."
Militant Myrlochar, Order of Soul Spiders: The Militant Myrlochar, sometimes known as the Order of Soul Spiders, was an elite fighting organization comprised exclusively of male crusaders, and found in the dark elven cities where Lolth was worshiped and males were allowed entrance into her priesthood. They directly served the reigning Matron Mothers of the city and were employed to kill their targets. They were usually used without pause until they got killed.
Handmaidens of the Spider Queen: The Handmaidens of the Spider Queen were an order of female crusaders. Also called the "Daughters of the Yochlol", they had no ties to specific cities, and were used when Lolth wanted an entire city to brought back into line. At least three times in recorded history did the Handmaidens of the Spider Queen destroy entire drow cities to prevent them from straying too far from Lolth. One of their usual tasks was to terrorize merchants who took Vhaeraun as their patron, as well as settlements run by the followers of Vhaeraun or Ghaunadaur's (or where those faiths were prominent).
Fear is as strong as steel, while love and respect are soft and useless. Convert or destroy nonbeliever drow. Weed out the weak and the rebellious. Destroy impugners of the faith. Sacrifice males, slaves, and those of other races who ignore the commands of Lolth or her clerics. Raise children to praise and fear Lolth; each family should produce at least one cleric to serve her. Questioning Lolth's motives or wisdom is a sin, as is aiding nondrow against the drow, or ignoring Lolth's commands for the sake of a lover. Revere arachnids of all kinds; those who kill or mistreat a spider must die.
Lolth usually appears in two forms: drow and arachnid. In drow form, the Spider Queen appears as an "exquisitely beautiful" female dark elf, sometimes covered in clinging spiders. In her arachnid form, Lolth takes the appearance of a giant black widow spider with the upper body of a female drow, and the lower body of a spider with eight legs.
Lolth is personally served by a race of shapeshifting demons called the yochlol. In their natural form, yochlol resemble molten blobs of wax with large, glaring red eyes. Ranking just below yochlols are the myrlochar or soul spiders, arachnid-shaped demons who glow with a greenish hue.
Greatest among Lolth's servants are the Proxies of Lolth, spidery monstrosities with the heads of beautiful drow maidens. They are granted the powers of demigods.
Relationships & History
Lolth was once Araushnee, the consort of Corellon Larethian, patron of artisans, the deity 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 her lover two children, Eilistraee and Vhaeraun, before she betrayed him and tried to invade Arvandor, along with Ghaunadaur, Malar, and many other evil deities. For her crimes, Araushnee was banished to the Abyss in the form of a spider demon, where she took the name Lolth.
Lolth opposes at every opportunity the deities of the surface elves, and loathes Corellon with an unparalleled passion. She is hated by Fenmarel Mestarine and Tarsellis Meunniduin, who she seduced (according to varying myths) to gain entrance to the elven pantheon. She also considers among her major foes Vhaeraun, Gruumsh, and Ilsensine. She is served by Keptolo, who is too lazy to oppose her, and by Kiaransali. She is resisted by Zinzerena and her cult.
She has her own rivalries with the various demon lords of the Abyss, noticeably with Zuggtmoy, the Demoness Lady of Fungi. Lolth's re-ascension to true godhood has basically elevated her above competition from the Lady of Fungi, but the two still harbor hatred for one another.
Lolth finds it convenient to ally herself on occasion with Loviatar and Malar, and since the Time of Troubles, to masquerade as Moander, an ancient deity of rot, corruption, and decay.
The Spider Queen slew Abrogard, Guldor's god of evil, and is currently assuming his aspect on that world.
Lolth is a beautiful drow female. It appears that she is wearing a long cloak, but it is actually a writhing shroud of living spiders.
The temple is a large spiked structure made of obsidian. Spiked spires, which resemble spider legs, twist and wrap around pillars and climb up walls. The columns are all intricately engraved with spiders and the walls are engraved with murals of the spider queen conquering and torturing her enemies. The center of the antechamber contains a large bloodied altar, flanked by two racks containing various torturing tools, chains and straps. The floors are also obsidian, but are engraved with intricate patterns, all leading to the central altar. A huge statue of the spider queen, a women with a spiders torso and legs, rears up along the back wall. Various doors lead to other chambers and rooms.
Lolth's priestess is wearing an ornate helm carved to resemble writing spiders, which horrifyingly wraps around her face. She is wearing black robes with a red trim. She has various pieces of platinum jewelry, including a necklace of linked spiders clutching a 3 inch disc with an embossed black enamel spider. She has numerous rings and a platinum spider armband.