Selvetarm is known also as The Spider that Waits, the (self-appointed) Champion of Lolth, and despite being Vhaeraun's son and thus Lolth's grandson, Son of Lolth. Selvetarm is the drow god of warriors and battle prowess, worshiped by few drow in the Underdark. His church basically consists of a military sub-division of Lolth's church, and was practically forgotten outside of his cult in Eryndlyn (see below).
Selvetarm was a ruthless and violent deity, whose only interests consisted of war and spreading destruction. He couldn't find beauty in anything but lethal and efficient combat styles.
He hated everything, including Lolth, to whom he was practically enslaved. Despite this hatred, he was quite dutiful, to the point of passing up on chances to gain additional worshipers to preserve her power, as well as his freedom to protect her life. Despite his aggressive traits, he had the capability to be patient to conduct functional ambushes, but frontal wild clashes were his clear preference over anything that required planning and restraint.
Worshipers, Clergy & Temples
His followers consisted of drow and aranea.
The city of Eryndlyn, located in hidden caves beneath the High Moor, is characterized by barely contained hostilities between the worshipers of Lolth, Ghaunadaur, and Vhaeraun. During the Time of Troubles, the avatar of Selvetarm rampaged through the drow city, attacking strongholds of the followers of Ghaunadaur and Vhaeraun. Priests of Lolth hailed the monster as the swordarm of Lolth, sent to demonstrate her absolute rule. The avatar of Selvetarm was finally driven into the wild Underdark by an alliance between the victimized cults, but not without great losses. It is unknown whether Selvetarm's avatar still remains in the Underdark or if he has returned to the Abyss.
As a result of Selvetarm's rampage through Eryndlyn, droves of drow worshipers in that strife-torn city have allied themselves with the priests of Lolth. A new military order called the Selvetargtlin—a name also associated with the clergy at large—has shifted the balance of power in the cult of Lolth's favor and consequently driven the worshipers of Ghaunadaur and Vhaeraun into an uneasy alliance. It is uncertain how this will affect the long term balance of power in the city.
A few drow in Eryndlyn began to worship Selvetarm in his own right. This displeased Lolth's clergy immensely, and the blasphemers were quickly driven from the city and into exile. These drow are believed to have recently settled in the Underdark beneath Waterdeep in the hopes of building their own city. Patrols of Selvetarm's faithful have been encountered exploring the dungeons of Undermountain-where they recently constructed the Chapel of the Sericeous Sargh and searching for new magic with which to defend the exiled cult.
Worshipers and Clergy
Among the drow, as mentioned before, Selvetarm was practically forgotten, and his faith was essentially part of Lolth's church armed wing. His followers in his main center of worship—Eryndlyn—weren't even allowed to worship him as a god on his own (rather than Lolth's servant), as the church of Lolth persecuted anyone who did as a heretic. The drow branch had a gender ratio of about 10:1 in favor of male drow.
His aranea followers were a different deal. When they talked about Selvetarm, they however referred to his aspect Zanassu. They put emphasis on craftiness, patience and subtlety.
Selvetarm's faithful spend most of their days guarding fortifications, honing their fighting skills, participating in patrols, guarding slave caravans, and getting into fights over status and petty slights. Many spend much of their time training other warriors in the art of war. While the Selvetargtlin are rightly known for their skill in battle, the teachings of the faith place little emphasis on tactics or strategy and thus few members of Selvetarm's clergy achieve a high military rank.
Priests of Selvetarm wear long, rich, scarlet robes lined in chain mail. They wear their long hair in thick braids, the tips of which are soaked in blood and allowed to harden into rock-hard clumps. Steel gauntlets are worn on the hands, each of which sports a sharp blade-equivalent to a dagger-on the back of the hand emerging from the knuckles at the base of the fingers. 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 crossed sword and mace overlaid with the image of a spider.
When adventuring, Selvetarm's faithful employ the best armor and weapons available, although they eschew the use of shields—with the notable exception of spiked bucklers—and missile weapons such as bows and crossbows. Most dark elves who venerate the Spider Demon employ drow boots, a drow cloak, and drow chain mail inscribed with Selvetarm's symbol on the breast. Most Selvetargtlin are trained in the use of two melee weapons. Favorite combinations include sword and dagger, sword and mace, and sword and axe.
Selvetarm's clergy are known collectively as the Selvetargtlin, which is drow for warriors of Selvetarm. Titles used by Selvetarm's clergy vary widely across temple hierarchies, but those used in the city of Eryndlyn include Edge of the Axe, Crush of the Mace, Steel of the Blade, Tusk of the Boar, Hunger of the Swarm, Claw of the Cave Bear, Talon of the Wyrm, and Bloodlust of the Berserker. High-ranking priests of the Spider Demon have unique individual titles. Specialty priests are known as Spiderswords.
Selvetarm's faithful are expected to observe the rituals of Lolth, as directed by her priests. (Those who have recently emigrated from Eryndlyn have abandoned this practice, so far without divine retribution, and are said to be praying for guidance in new ways of honoring the Spider Demon.) Selvetarm does expect all who take up arms in his name to cry out his name in the bloodlust of battle as they deliver the killing blow to a foe. Since there is always the chance that any attack will be a fatal one, the Selvetargtlin tend to constantly scream out their god's name during a battle.
The aranea of the Spider Swamp venerate Zanassu with a totally different set of rituals, notable in comparison for their emphasis on patience, craftiness, and subtlety. Such ceremonies involve animal sacrifices to the Spider That Waits-typically a boar or lizard-and repeating litanies beseeching him to return. The holiest day of the year is the 6th of Kythorn, the day on which Zanassu returned after his millennial exile. On this day all of the aranea celebrate their deliverance through fasting and ritual combat.
War is the ultimate expression of individual power, and only through battle and death can you realize the respect of your comrades. Hone your fighting skills constantly and teach those who will follow into the fray. Never give or receive quarter, and hope to die amid the bloodlust of battle against overwhelming odds.
When sending his avatar, Selvetarm often appears in drider form (lower body of a spider, and upper body of a male drow). He was known to wield a heavy mace—Venomace—his favored weapon in his right hand, and a longsword—Thalack'velve—in his left hand. He could cast spells from any school.
Other times, he appears as a large spider, sometimes with the head of a male drow. Another manifestation consists of tiny sphere of utter darkness, that gradually grows to explode into a blade barrier. His servants included myrlochars, retrievers and other spiders.
Relationships & History
Selvetarm hated Lolth like everything else. He was bound to her will, and while some of his followers put efforts into freeing him from her, Selvetarm himself felt quite comfortable in his subservient role.
Drow scholars speculated Selvetarm was a tanar'ri lord who was elevated to the position of champion of Lolth during the Time of Troubles, in an attempt to draw male followers from the flocks of Ghaunadaur and Vhaeraun. Other scholars thought Selvetarm might merely be an aspect of Lolth.
He was Vhaeraun's and Zandilar the Dancer's son but he spurned both his parents, for his mind at that time was too uncertain to commit himself to one direction.
After he became Lolth's servant, father and son became enemies. For example, when Vhaeraun tried to bring the draegloths under his faith, Selvetarm's reaction was to compete with the Masked Lord in that regard, with the goal to subsequently give his draegloths followers to Lolth, because he wanted to hinder his father's goal to unseat his grandmother. During the Silence of Lolth, he also saved Lolth from Vhaeraun, thus botching his chance for freedom. Vhaeraun deemed his son an idiot and his submissiveness was a source of rage for the Masked Lord.
According to rumors Vhaeraun was the one who granted spells to the priests who worshiped Selvetarm in his own right instead of Selvetarm or Lolth with the goal of instilling in them a sense of independence.
He was known to protect Garagos, who was thought to be opting to steal his powers. He was also an ally of Kiaransalee, who was also in a subservient position to Lolth, in her case out of fear from the Spider Queen's power.
He was also an enemy of Sharess, the goddess who absorbed Zandilar the Dancer, and thus was in a sense, his mother.
After he was found by Eilistraee, they grew close to each other, until he turned into a bloodthirsty monster under Lolth's command and her enemy.
Selvetarm has the lower body and legs of a gigantic spider, and the upper body of a male drow. He is carrying a mace in his right hand, and a longsword in his left.
The hidden temple is located deep underground, in a secret tunnel off of a huge cavern. The room is completely dark with a crude altar in the at the back, with an offering bowl on top. Painted on the wall, in what looks to be blood, is Selvetarm's symbol. To the left is a long torturer's table with various tools, and to the right are a set of human-sized cages. An archway near the back leads to what looks to be a basic dormitory, and another archway leading to a small alchemist's room.
The drow priest of Selvetarn has long white hair in thick braids, the tips of which are dark, rock-hard clumps. He is wearing a long, rich scarlet robe lined in chain mail. He has steel gauntlets, each with a sharp blade protruding from the knuckles. He is wearing a necklace with a platinum disk featuring Selvetarn's symbol of a spider on a crossed sword and mace.