SILVER MARCHES

A persistent world set in the Frozen North of The Forgotten Realms

SERVER ONLINE.

You are not connected. Please login or register

Drow Pantheon

Go down  Message [Page 1 of 1]

1 Drow Pantheon on Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:23 am

The Ssri-Tel'Quessir of Abeir-Toril, the dark elven subrace of the Fair Folk, have long been divorced from the Seldarine, the traditional elven pantheon of Arvandor. The drow, as they are now known, venerate a wide range of dark powers, the most prominent of which are presented hereafter. The deities of the drow are a pantheon in name only, united only by the common heritage of their worshipers, long ignored familial ties among four of them, and occasional, short-lived alliances forged only as a matter of convenience.

By Corellon Larethian's decree, the destiny of the dark elves was placed long ago in the hands of his consort, Araushnee the Weaver. At that time she was a minor, but secretly ambitious, elven power and member of the Seldarine. After a series of betrayals of her fellow gods, Araushnee was banished to the Abyss by Corellon for plotting against her lover and for secretly assembling a host of evil deities-the anti-Seldarine-to assault Arvandor, home of the Seldarine, in a bid to replace Corellon as Coronal of Arvandor. After her banishment, Araushnee assumed the name Lolth, Demon Queen of Spiders. She set about establishing her new realm in the Abyss and driving off or subjugating rivals like Ghaunadaur, Kiaransalee, and Zanassu.

Araushnee was not the only elven power to be cast out of Arvandor and the Seldarine, however, for her webs ensnared her two children as well. When his mother's perfidy was exposed, Vhaeraun, son of Araushnee and Corellon, was banished to Abeir-Toril for his complicity in the Weaver's plots to replace Corellon as head of the Seldarine. Vhaeraun's sister, Eilistraee the Dark Maiden, agreed to exile as well, although she was only an unwitting participant in her mother's plots. Lolth dominates all the other powers and brooks (or at least admits) no challenge to her ultimate authority. Only Kiaransalee and Selvetarm acknowledge the Spider Queen as head of the pantheon, an unavoidable acknowledgment of Lolth's great power.

Eilistraee, Vhaeraun, and Ghaunadaur remain independent of the Spider Queen's control, but none of them is strong enough to challenge her directly, and their mutual enmity precludes any possibility of alliance against her. Kiaransalee only recently fought free of Lolth's shadow, but she has little influence (and few worshipers) in the Realms. Selvetarm is still firmly enmeshed in his grandmother's webs, despite the efforts of his followers to break away from the Spider Queen s cult. Eilistraee and Vhaeraun are brother and sister, children of Araushnee (Lolth) and Corellon Larethian. Selvetarm is the offspring of an ill-fated tryst between Vhaeraun and Zandilar the Dancer (Sharess), a goddess of the Yuir elves. Ghaunadaur is a primordial evil who joined the other members of the anti-Seldarine in the assault on Arvandor. Kiaransalee is a once-mortal dark elf of another world who achieved divinity and was named drow before the fall of Araushnee.

With the notable exception of Eilistraee, the dark powers of the drow pantheon are intimately involved in the lives of their followers, demanding absolute obedience and exclusive veneration in exchange for great power. Aside from the Dark Maiden, the gods of the drow pantheon care nothing for the fate of their followers except as it advances their own personal power. All but one dwell in the Abyss or other dark realms, embodying the banishment of the drow from the Lands of Light. Eilistraee seeks to redeem the fallen dark elves and lead them back to the great forests of the surface world that their ancestors forsook many millennia ago. However, the Dark Maiden is quite constrained in her actions by the power of Lolth and the other gods of the pantheon, and she acknowledges the need for individual drow to find their own path to redemption that heavy-handed interference on her part would preclude.

The origin of the drow is firmly enshrined in the minds of all the elven subraces whose ancestors fought in the great Crown Wars that split the Fair Folk. While the other elven subraces recall with horror the depraved actions of the Ilythiiri, as the dominant tribe of dark elves was known, that led to the Descent, the drow weave their own lies regarding the perfidy of the Seldarine and the other elven races whom they hold turned on the Ssri- Tel'Quessir and unjustly banished them to the Underdark. Only those drow who have answered the redemptive call of the Dark Maiden recall and preserve the elven myths regarding the ancestry of the Fair Folk, for such tales are of little interest to those who seethe in anger at the Creator they now scorn, Corellon.

Drow culture is distinguished by a curious mixture of monotheism and polytheism uncharacteristic of most human and demihuman cultures of the Realms. Most drow cities-such as Guallidurth, Menzoberranzan, and Ched Nasad-are ruled in the name of Lolth by priests of the Spider Queen and even the mention, let alone the worship, of other gods is forbidden. A few drow cities-such as Llurth Dreier (Ghaunadaur) and V'elddrinnsshar (Kiaransalee)-are ruled by the clergy of the other drow powers in similar fashion, but they too forbid the worship or mention of all other gods. The few drow cities that exhibit the open worship of two or more deities-such as beleaguered Eryndlyn, located beneath the High Moor, or Golothaer, from whence the founders of Menzoberranzan and Ched Nasad fled-are riven by strife and are usually destroyed by civil war within a generation of such a split appearing. Nevertheless, most of the drow gods have a few secretive worshipers in every drow enclave, as such devotions afford dissidents the opportunity for additional weapons in their endless quest for increasing personal station. Aside from the faithful of Eilistraee, who venerate the Dark Maiden in a fashion resembling the veneration of the Seldarine by elves of other races, most drow venerate one (or in some cases two) deities out of fear, respect, and a desire for additional power of their own, not out of any sense of true piety.

Over 10,000 years ago, the Crown Wars exposed the depths to which most dark elves had fallen in the service of fell powers such as Vhaeraun, Ghaunadaur, and Lolth, despite the mitigating efforts of thegood-hearted Eilistraee. As a result, by means never discussed by the Fair Folk, the dark elves were forever banished to the deep tunnels beneath Faerun by the Seldarine and the allied elven nations and thereafter named drow (originally dhaeraow, an elvish term meaning face of shadow, heart of night, traitor), circa-10,000 DR.

The first drow civilizations arose in the Underdark of southern Faerun circa -9,600 DR. The first great kingdom of the drow was Telantiwar, with its capitol in the great cavern of Bhaerynden, the conquered heart of the first great kingdom of the Stout Folk seized by the drow in -9,000 DR. The drow fought among themselves, noble against noble, priest against priest, for rule of their new realm. This all-out war ended amid great magical explosions that brought down the roof of Bhaerynden. The ceiling collapsed entirely, burying many drow and theshattered dwarven cities that they had seized. The cav ern, now open to the sky, became known as the Great Rift, and the chasm and thesurrounding caverns were later resettled by the ances tors of the gold dwarves to form the Deep Realm. In a great diaspora known as the Scattering, the surviving drow nobles and priests gathered what people, slaves, and equipment they could seize and fled into the Underdark in search of places to dwell.

Since that time, countless cities and smaller settlements have risen and fallen, and the drow are now found throughout the deep tunnels beneath all of Faerun and even fartherafield. The web of chaos and cruelty that enmeshes th e drow is embodied in the constant strife between the gods they venerate.

Likewise, the hatred they hold for all other races, particularly the Fair Folk of the surface world, is played out as well in the neverending conflict between the Seldarine and those they banished long ago. Only a small fraction have returned to the surface lands of their forefathers, typically by way of the welcoming hand of Eilistraee.



Last edited by jeffinak on Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:38 am; edited 1 time in total

View user profile

2 Ghaunadaur on Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:24 am

Ghaunadaur
That Which Lurks, the Elder Eye, the Ancient One

Lesser Power of the Paraelemental Plane of Ooze, CE
PORTFOLIO: Oozes, slimes, jellies, outcasts, ropers, rebels, all things subterranean
DOMAINS : Cavern, Chaos, Drow, Evil, Hatred, Slime
ALIASES: Ghaunadar, Gormauth Souldrinker, Juiblex, the Elder Elemental God
HOME PLANE: Paraelemental Plane of Ooze/The Cauldron of Slime
SUPERIOR: None
ALLIES: Bwimb (dead), Moander (dead)
FOES: Deep Duerra, Eilistraee, Gargauth, Laduguer, Lolth, the Seldarine, Selvetarm, Vhaeraun, Malar, Blibdoolpoolp, the Blood Queen, Diinkarazan, Diirinka, Great Mother, Gzemnid, llsensine, Ilxendren, Laogzed, Maanzecorian (dead), Psilofyr
SYMBOL: Purple circle, outlined with an inner ring of violet and an outer ring of black with a single black-rimmed, violet-on-mauve eye in the center of the circle or (older symbol) an inverted triangle of amber on a purple background, with amber lines inside of it forming an upside-down "Y" shape whose arms end by bisecting the sides of the triangle.
WOR. ALIGN.: LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE

Ghaunadaur (GONE-ah-door) is a fell deity that has plagued the darkest reaches of the Realms since the dawn of time. That Which Lurks appears as an amorphous, dark purple blob with many tentacles. It is venerated by the largest slimes, oozes, slugs, and other crawling things-some of which are said to possess intelligence, albeit alien. Once all such beings worshiped Ghaunadaur, but it struck most of them mad in a fit of fury for some transgression-said by some to involve its failure to defeat Lolth shortly after her banishment from the Seldarine- and stole their intellects. As a result, many of its worshipers, and most of its power, ceased to exist. That Which Lurks and its giant roper servants have been venerated for eons by various creatures of the Underdark, particularly lone or subintelligent monsters and other outcasts (whom it occasionally aids, in return for adulation), as well as the few intelligent amorphs that remain. Evil beings seeking an alternative to established deities-including drow dissatisfied with the rule of Lolth-have also begun to worship That Which Lurks. Most humans find the worship of Ghaunadaur disgusting, but there are secret, subterranean altars and cults to the Elder Eye all over Tori], particularly in the older and more degenerate lands of the southern Sword Coast, Thay, and Kara-Tur.

Although Ghaunadaur is a distinct entity unrelated to the tanar'ri lord Juiblex, the Faceless Lord, or the otherwise unnamed Elder Elemental God neither of the latter two powers is active in the Realms, and Ghaunadaur ha^ assumed both of their aspects within the crystal sphere of Realmspace. Gormauth Souldrinker may have once been the name of a separate power, but if so, it has long been totally subsumed by That Which Lurks. Some rumors hold that Ghaunadaur occasionally lurks on the Elemental Plane of Earth and the Paraelemental Plane of Smoke, while others place him in the Abyss.

Ghaunadaur is unpredictable by human standards. It may aid worshipers who merely pay lip service to its rituals-even expending great power to grant permanent magical boons-but may also devour or maim them, without warning. Ghaunadaur enjoys watching the hunting and devouring activities of large horrible monsters and the suffering they cause. Ghaunadaur is silent and terrible when outside the Inner Planes, but old records tell of gibbering, bestial language spoken in the deity's great court of mingled mud and gelatin pools. Ghaunadaur only communicates telepathically with blunt and simple communications (for example, "Approve," No," "Not," "Slay," "Come to Me," "Go to [mental picture of desired place]," and so on).

The Church

Ghaunadaur occasionally acts through the appearance or presence of alkiliths, darktentacles, deadly puddings, gelatinous cubes, giant ropers gibbering mouthers, ghaunadan, jellies, oozes, metalmasters, mephits (ooze), ropers, slimes, slithering trackers, slithermorphs, slugs, and storopers. He also shows his attention-for widely varying reasons- through the discovery of solitary mauve roses that drip blood from their thorns or amethysts, jasmals, purple luriyls, rosalines, Shou Lung amethysts, violines, or yanolite (ophealine) from the depths of which stares a single, baleful, golden eye.

Ghaunadaur is little known on the surface ofToril except for a few small cults in large, decadent cities. Those who are aware of his existence recoil in horror from the foulness of the Elder Eye's evil. In the Underdark, Ghaunadaur is more widely known, particularly among the dark elves. While speaking the Elder Eye's name is a crime punishable by death in most cities dominated by priests of Lolth, most drow are at least tangentially aware of the existence of this rival of the Spider Queen.

Any living creature-even oozes and jellies-may join the clergy of the Elder Eye, as Ghaunadaur values devotion over ability. All ghaunadan are considered as members of the clergy, as are many slithermorphs. Titles vary widely among Ghaunadaur's solid (nonamorphous) clergy, but examples include Loathsome Ooze, Spawn of the Pit, Eater of Wastes, Noxious Slime, Creeping Doom, and Amorphous Annihilator. Specialty priests or Ghaunadaur are known as amorphites and make up over 60% or the clergy. Clerics, fighter/clerics, and crusaders make up 12%, 8%, and 5% of the clergy, respectively, and the remainder includes a wide range of miscellaneous creatures who are not priests. Almost all (95%) of the solid clergy are male. Temples of Ghaunadaur are found throughout the Realms in surface cities such as Bezantur (where it is known as Juiblex), Calimport, Holldaybim (a drow city in the Forest of Mir), Waterdeep, and Westgate. In the Underdark in the cities of the drow, the Elder Eye's temples are found in strife-torn cities where the clergy of rival powers are weak-Eryndlyn, located in hidden caves beneath the High Moor, is riven by civil war between the faithful of Lolth, Ghaunadaur, Sel-vetarm, and Vhaeraun-or absent altogether-Llurth Dreier, a city of 400,000 dark elves and countless slimes, jellies, and oozes located under the Shaar, northwest of the Deep Realm of the dwarves, is ruled by the clergy of the Elder Eye. Ghaunadaur's temples are sometimes located in the wilds of the Underdark, far from the influence of cities led by the Spider Queen's priests. One such example, beyond the reach of the priests of Guallidurth but better known for having housed the Living Gem for many centuries, is located beneath Forest of Mir.

Temples of the Elder Eye are typically lit by purple, mauve, and lavender rays of light, radiances, and drifting, eddying luminous mists. These temples are usually located underground, but sometimes can be found concealed in remote ruins. The walls are decorated with mosaics depicting beings of all races crawling in self-sacrifice to be eaten by vaguely squidlike creatures, each with 10 hairy tentacles. The devouring creatures (Ghaunadaur's long-unseen bodyguard ropers) are purple, violet, and mottled mauve in hue. Temples to the Eye always have well-polished floors, usually of porphyry, obsidian, red and black hornblende, or black marble. Where black and purple materials are not available, carpets and tapestries of those hues are used.

The altar chamber sports ceiling support pillars of polished obsidian, malachite, or serpentine, graven with runes and symbols of Ghaunadaur. When possible, these pillars are imbued with magical effects created by priests of the Eye. (Ghaunadaur itself, if summoned with the proper prayers, endows these magical effects with permanency.) Pillar enchantments radiate magical fields of effect. These typically include magical unease and insecurity affecting all beings who do not worship Ghaunadaur. At least one pillar in each temple has a teleport rune, known only to its priests. If the rune is touched, the priest is transported to a prearranged sanctuary or a city location. Some of these runes are traps: If a command word is whispered, they go to a safe destination; if no word is uttered, they transport the activator instead into a monster lair or other dangerous area or discharge electricity or other baneful effects. Temples to Ghaunadaur typically have a pillar-flanked aisle leading to the altar in three ascending tiers. On the second tier is the altar, a dull, porous-looking, rusty black rectangular stone. On the first tier, surrounding it on the second, and hanging above the third are usually an assortment of gongs, chimes, drums, candelabra, and braziers.

Dogma: All creatures have their place, and all are fit to wield power. Those who hunt weed out the weak and strengthen the stock of all. Those who rebel or who walk apart find new ways and try new things and do most to advance their races. Creatures of power best house the energy of life, which Ghaunadaur reveres and represents.

The faithful of Ghaunadaur are to make sacrifices to the Eye, persuade others to sacrifice themselves to Ghaunadaur or in service of the Eye, further the knowledge and fear of Ghaunadaur, and in the end give themselves to Ghaunadaur in unresisting self-sacrifice. Priests of Ghaunadaur are to convert all beings that they can to worship Ghaunadaur. They must slay all clergy of other faiths, plundering their temples and holdings for wealth to better their own lot and to further the worship of Ghaunadaur.

Day-to-Day Activities: Priests of Ghaunadaur must do whatever pleases Ghaunadaur best and serve the Eye absolutely. Priests of Ghaunadaur have simple duties: They are to ensure, by force or threat, that a ready supply of sacrifices reaches Ghaunadaur's altars. The god supplies them with spells and tentacle rods to ensure success in this. Most of all, Ghaunadaur delights in creatures that offer themselves to him without resistance (regardless of whether these sacrifices have been magically charmed or otherwise coerced by its clergy). Priests who can bring such offerings to the Eye's altars often are highly valued and favored by the god. Priests of Ghaunadaur are encouraged to become familiar with the use and manufacture of acids, poisons (including gases and incenses), and flaming oils of all sorts. (Temples and priestly abodes are typically well supplied with such weapons in a ready state.)

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies: Ghaunadaur expects a prayer of adulation and praise, accompanied by a sacrifice, at least once per day. If live sacrifices cannot be procured that often, the Elder Eye accepts offerings of bones and food burned in oil. Braziers of perfumed incense are also burned.

If a priest is unable to procure such offerings, the priest must pray while holding one hand in an open flame. The priest's hand must be covered with any magical oil or potion. (Oils or potions of fire resistance are instantly converted to lamp oil, with the appropriate results.) If the prayer is accepted (55% chance), the hand is healed of any damage it sustains immediately after sustaining it.

In any place of worship to Ghaunadaur, all cloth furnishings and garments worn by priests are to be of hues pleasing to Ghaunadaur's eye. Acceptable colors are copper, amber, flame-orange, russet, gold, dark red, plum, purple, amethyst, violet, heliotrope, mauve, lilac, lavender, black, and silver.

Smoke and flame are to be a part of all sacrifices to Ghaunadaur. No creature should speak out against the will of Ghaunadaur in the presence of the Eye, its avatar, or its manifestation. If such defiance occurs, a sacrifice of appeasement must be performed (preferably involving the creature who defied the Elder Eye).

Major Centers of Worship: In the South, deep beneath the heart of Sarenestar (also known as the Forest of Mir) is a place of great power sacred to Ghaunadaur. This ancient subterranean site was discovered by Clan Hune of Ilythiir prior to the Fourth Crown War. Following their discovery, the dark elves built a great temple around a massive pit in which dwelt a monstrous creature of evil placed there by the Elder Eye. When the temple, known as the Elder Orb of Ooze, was completed, the leaders of Clan Hune sought to draw on Ghaunadaur's power in preparation for the coming conflict with Keltormir. The inscrutable Elder Elemental God was displeased, however, and it lashed out of the fools who dared call on its name by causing countless oozes, slimes, jellies, and other horrid monsters to erupt from the pit and attack everything they encountered. Many of Clan Hune's leaders were destroyed, and the temple was abandoned shortly thereafter. Although its location has been long-since forgotten, the ruined temple still exists today, its defenses still active. Ghaunadaur assuredly inflicts his wrath on any solid foolish enough to profane his place of power, and some believe that fate of the wizard Shond Tharovin was sealed when the would-be tyrant removed the Living Gem from the temple.

In the North, the Elder Eye's place of greatest power was the Pit of Ghaunadaur, located deep beneath Mount Waterdeep. Several years after her birth in the Year of the Awakening Wyrm (767 DR), Qilue Veladorn, Chosen of Mystra and Eilistraee, led a handful of her dark elven playmates from their tiny, now-vanished settlement of Buiyrandyn in an assault on the Pit of Ghaunadaur. After destroying an avatar of Ghaunadaur resident therein and causing its minions to flee or be destroyed, the Chosen of Eilistraee (as the dark elven children were collectively known) sealed the downward fissures and tunnels in the temple by which Ghaunadaur's surviving minions had fled and caused a rockfall that filled what was left of the Pit of Ghaunadaur. After centuries of patrolling the passages around the Pit, the Chosen built a temple of Eilistraee, which they named the Promenade, atop the long-sealed Pit. That Which Lurks has never accepted the loss of its place of power in what is now the third level of Undermountain north and east of the subterranean city of Skullport, and its minions have remained active in the region. For several years, a circle of ghaunadan based in a small temple to the Elder Eye in a hidden cellar beneath a warehouse in Dock Ward have been active in Waterdeep and Halastar's Halls. In the Year of the Banner (1368 DR), Ghaunadaur's cultists-12 ghaunadan commanders and approximately 50 semi-intelligent slimes and oozes - began a full-scale assault on the Promenade from the northern and eastern caverns that lasted several months. While the Chosen of Eilistraee ultimately prevailed-thanks in part to the assistance of Qilue's sister, Laeral Silverhand-and drove off their foes, the followers of Ghaunadaur were not destroyed, and the cult continues to rebuild its strength in preparation for another assault.

Affiliated Orders: The Fanatics of the Overflowing Pit were an elite order of dark elven crusaders of Ghaunadaur in ancient Ilythiir-the moon and dark elf domains in the woods south of the Lake of Steam in the forests that once covered the Shaar-who waged endless war on the clergies of rival faiths. While Ilythiir fell over ten thousand years ago with the Seldarine-mandated Descent of the Drow, it is believed that the order survives in some form in the city of Llurth Dreier underneath the Shaar.

Priestly Vestments: As listed above, the vestments of all priests of Ghaunadaur must be of hues pleasing to the Elder Eye. Typical raiment includes a full-length robe with voluminous sleeves, a dark tabard emblazoned with the symbol of the Elder Eye, and a gleaming, silver skull cap. All priests wear their hair long and unbound, but beards and mustaches are not permitted. The holy symbol of the faith is a sphere of black obsidian at least 3 inches in diameter, which is sometimes worn on a chain around the neck. Such spheres are often eveloped in a nimbus of mauve-hued continual faerie fire.

Adventuring Garb: When adventuring, Ghaunadaur's clergy employ whatever weapons, armor, or equipment is most appropriate to the task at hand. Most priests are careful to always wear hues pleasing to the Elder Eye, however, just in case it is observing their performance, even going so far as to tint their armor and weapons.

View user profile

3 Kiaransalee on Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:33 am

Kiaransalee
Lady of the Dead, the Revenancer, the Vengeful Banshee

Demipower of the Abyss, CE

PORTFOLIO: Undead, vengeance
DOMAINS : Chaos, Drow, Evil, Retribution, Undeath
ALIASES: Kiaranselee
HOME PLANE: 113th Level/Thanatos
SUPERIOR: Lolth
ALLIES: Hoar, Myrkul (dead), Velsharoon, Lolth, Malar, Selvetarm, Vhaeraun, Blibdoolpoolp, the Blood Queen, Diinkarazan, Diirinka, Great Mother, Gzemnid, Ilsensine, Ilxendren, Laogzed, Maanzecorian (dead), Psilofyr
FOES: Deep Duerra, Dumathoin, Eilistraee, Kelemvor, Laduguer, Jergal, Lolth, Orcus (dead)/Tenebrous (undead), the Seldarine
SYMBOL: Female drow hand wearing silver rings
WOR. ALIGN.: LE, NE, CE

Kiaransalee (KEE-uh-RAN-sa-lee) is the drow deity of both vengeance and the undead. She is called upon by those seeking retribution, the dark arts, or to prolong life. Although the Lady of the Dead has historically demonstrated relatively little interest in the lands of Faerun or the Underdark beneath them, the recent rise to prominence of the Cult of the Goat's Head in Vaasa under the leadership of Zhengyi the Witch-King renewed her interest in the Realms and fueled the emergence of the Vengeful Banshee's cult as a power in the north central Underdark. Kiaransalee's ascension as a dark goddess of evil predates even the banishment of Araushnee from the Seldarine, but the Lady of the Dead has long been an unwilling vassal of the Queen of Spiders, capable of only small acts of rebellion (such as assisting the elven heroine Kethryllia in rescuing her beloved from Lolth's demesne). Kiaransalee was once mortal, a powerful dark elven necromancer-queen on a world known as Threnody. The Revenancer was named drow and banished by her husband, the king of Threnody, for her unholy experiments on the once-living. Kiaransalee fled with a small group of followers who she then transformed into undead servitors to ensure their loyalty. The Lady of the Dead continued her unholy experiments in secret for centuries before raising an army of undead to exact her vengeance. In the wake of the Revenancer's army, Threnody was a dead world, and the architect of its destruction fled with her unthinking servants into the Abyss-where she eventually assumed a measure of divine power herself-to escape the wrath of the Seldarine.

Only in recent memory has Kiaransalee achieved a measure of independence from the Spider Queen, a result of a successful attack on a rival power long resident in the Abyss. Not too many years ago, Kiaransalee wrested Thanatos, a cold plane of ice, thin air, and a black, moonlit sky known as the Belly of Death, from Orcus, the former Abyssal lord of the undead, in revenge for some long-forgotten slight. Although she lacked the power to eliminate the very memory of Orcus from the minds of the multiverse after killing the Prince of the Undead, Kiaransalee magically erased the name of the late Abyssal lord wherever and however it had been recorded. With her foe slain and his corpse adrift in the Astral Plane, the Lady of the Dead stew all the servants and proxies of Orcus (save one, whom she accepted into her own service) and hid the legendary Wand of Orcus where none could ever find it-or so she thought. Recent events suggest that Orcus returned, at least for a time, as an undead god who called himself Tenebrous. It is unknown, even to Kiaransalee, whether the Prince of the Undead has successfully transformed himself into an undead god, has been destroyed forever, or simply waits for another opportunity to return to (un)life. Regardless of the truth, Kiaransalee is convinced that her former foe will eventually return, and thus the Lady of the Dead is consumed with renewed efforts to find and eliminate every last trace of both Orcus/Tenebrous.

The Lady of the Dead has long chafed under Lolth's suzerainty, and only the Spider Queen's overwhelming strength has kept Kiaransalee's long-planned vengeance in check. Consumed as she is with the unknown fate of Tenebrous, Kiaransalee has little interest in interacting with other powers. Nevertheless, her activities on Faerun have earned the Lady of the Dead the enmity of Dumathoin, Kelemvor, and Jergal and the possibility of an alliance with both Hoar and Velsharoon.

The Lady of the Dead is cruel, twisted, and consumed by thoughts of vengeance. Kiaransalee descended into madness long ago, but she retains her twisted cunning and clear recollection of every slight or insult done to her-real or imagined. The Revenancer is powerfully chaotic and swift to anger, and she schemes dark revenges against all who have wronged her. Kiaransalee prefers the mindless company of the undead, whom she can manipulate at will, to sentient beings capable of independent thought. She prefers to solve problems herself rather than trust someone else to do justice to her vision.

The Church

Kiaransalee commonly acts through the appearance or presence of apparitions, banshees, coffer corpses, crawling claws, crimson deaths, ghasts, ghosts, ghouls, haunts, heucuva, kiaranshee, larvae, lhiannan shee, liches of all sorts (including fallen baelnorns), maurezhi, nightmares, penangglans, phantoms, quasits, revenants, shadow fiends, shadows, shee, sheet ghouls, sheet phantoms, simpathetics, skeletons, skuz, slow shadows, spectres, wights, wraiths, vampires of all sorts, vargouilles, yeth hounds, and zombies, as well as even rarer forms of undead. The Lady of the Dead shows her favor through the discovery of chalcedony, chrysoberyl, chrysocolla, epidote, irtios, ivory, king's tears, meerschaum, moonbars, samarskite, silkstone, tomb jade and her displeasure through the discovery of skulls that split cleanly into two pieces and bones that collapse into dust when touched.

Kiaransalee and her followers are little known in the Realms, even among the drow themselves. Even those dark elves who learn of her existence usually assume she is simply some sort of lich with delusions of godhood. On the surface of the Realms, Kiaransalee is almost wholly unknown, aside from a few reclusive sages. In Vaasa, rumors of Zhengyi's harem of undead drow mistresses haunting the Black Holes of Sunderland are beginning to spread in Darmshall and have drawn the attention of one or more members of the Spysong network.

Kiaransalee is worshiped in solitary secrecy in cities dedicated to Lolth in simple shrines hidden away from prying eyes. Such shrines are simply black marble sarcophagi adorned with carved depictions of the dead rising up to take their revenge on the living. To venerate the Lady of the Dead, a priest of Kiaransalee simply lies within her personal sarcophagus while holding her holy symbol clasped in two hands across her breast. According to legend, if a living priest of the Revenancer is disturbed while so engaged, Kiaransalee grants her the powers of a vampire for the next 24 hours. While the only true temple of the Lady of the Dead found in the Realms is the Acropolis of Thanatos (described below), smaller chapels exist in the wilds of the Underdark across the length and breadth of Faerun. Such chapels are typically small caves in which the skulls and bones of countless long-dead creatures have been partially absorbed by the walls, roof, or floor of the cavern. Kiaransalee is said to guide small bands of worshipers to such sites far from the prying eyes of the Spider Queen's priests where they can worship in secret and plot their vengeance on their spider-loving kin.

Kiaransalee's clergy are known collectively as the Crones of Thanatos. Novices of the Revenancer are known as the Commanded. All other members of the clergy are known as Nighthags. Titles used by Kiaransaleen priests vary widely across temple hierarchies, but those used at the Acropolis of Thanatos include Bones of the Dead, Flesh of the Zombie, Terror Touch of the Ghoul, Chill Touch of the Shadow, Raking Claws of the Wight, Life Leech of the Wraith, Rot of the Mummy, and Spirit Harvest of the Spectre. High-ranking priests of the Lady of the Dead have unique individual titles. Specialty priests are known as yathrinshee. As one might expect, many of Kiaransalee's faithful are transformed into undead servitors either by their own hands, by the hands of other priests, or-in very rare cases-by the hand of the goddess herself. High-ranking priests may become banshees, liches, vampires, or-if truly favored-kiaranshee. (Kiaranshee are banshees who retain their spellcasting powers, whether they were necromancers or priests.) The clergy of Kiaransalee includes only living and undead female dark elves. Kiaransalee's clergy includes specialty priests (80%), necromancers (12%), and crusaders (8%).

Dogma: Death comes to all, and cruel vengeance will be exacted on those who waste their lives on the petty concerns of this existence. True power comes only from the unquestioning servitude of the once-dead, mastery over death, and the eventual earned stature of one of the ever-living in death. Hunt, slay, and animate those who scorn the Revenancer's power, and answer any slight a thousandfold so that all may know the coming power of Kiaransalee.

Day-to-Day Activities: Kiaransalee's priests are rare, secretive, and usually found in small drow communities or special enclaves. They are agents of vengeance, plotting revenge on those who have slain, harmed, or insulted the priesthood in any way. They also regularly go out on missions to kill others to acquire corpses for animation or to steal the corpses of the recently buried. They take a prominent role in persecuting slaves of the drow.

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies: While each priest performs a handful of minor devotions to Kiaransalee every month, the Crones of Thanatos venerate the Lady of the Dead on a single annual holy day-the Graverending-celebrated each Midwinter Eve. The Graverending is celebrated individually, with each priest animating as many undead creatures as she can. All such undead-known as the Vengeance Hunters-are consumed with thoughts of revenge against their killers and unerringly seek them out over the next 24 hours. If destroyed, a Vengeance Hunter does not rise again. Vengeance Hunters return to their graves, if possible, once 24 hours have passed since their animation or once they have exacted their revenge.

Major Centers of Worship: Deep beneath the Galena Mountains and the cold plains of Vaasa is a great subterranean lake fed by the icy waters of the Great Glacier and inhabited by hundreds of giant water spiders. The Vault of Gnashing Teeth is so-named for the thousands of skulls embedded in the roof whose collective cacophonous chomping echoes throughout the great cavern. At the center of the freshwater sea is a large island, nearly a mile in diameter, dominated by a steep-sided plateau at its center. All that remains of V'elddrinnsshar-once a drow city dedicated to the Spider Queen that encircled the central mesa-are crumbling ruins, stalked by a legion of banshees awakened by Kiaransalee's faithful, and the bones of the city's former inhabitants (drow and slaves of various races).

V'elddrinnsshar fell in the Year of Many Bones (1278 DR) to the ravages of the Ascomoid Plague and was plundered by duergar scavengers a decade later. The city sat unoccupied until the Year of the Wandering Maiden (1337 DR), when it was explored by Reaper of Souls Larynda Telenna and a small band of acolytes. At their goddess's direction, the priests began construction of a brooding temple of black marble atop the central plateau, a massive stalagmite whose tip had been sheered off centuries before by the followers of Lolth for a similar purpose. When the Acropolis of Thanatos was completed a decade later, Larynda had expanded the ranks of Kiaransalee's faithful a thousandfold, and the skulls of V'elddrinnsshar's dead had been enchanted and mounted in the cavern's roof to form an unholy choir. Since the temple's completion, the priests of Kiaransalee have relentlessly combated the Cult of the Goat's Head, active in the lands of Vaasa above. In the decade since the defeat of the Witch-King and the destruction of Castle Perilous, Kiaransalee's priests have nearly exterminated the remaining clergy of Orcus in the Bloodstone Lands-many of whom took refuge in the Black Holes of Sunderland and thus were readily accessible to attacks from below-and destroyed most of the goblinkin tribes who venerated the Prince of the Undead while the Witch-King reigned in the Lands of Light. Although they do not realize it, King Gareth Dragonsbane and the people of Damara owe a great deal of their success against the forces of the Witch-King to their subterranean neighbors.

Affiliated Orders: The Legion of Vengeful Banshees is an order of Kiaransaleen crusaders dedicated to the destruction of Tenebrous's undead tanar'ri servants, known as visages. While Banshee Knights are found on many worlds, in the Realms all are based in the Acropolis of Thanatos deep beneath the Galenas. From their chapter house within the temple grounds, the members of the order mount long-ranging hunts on the surface and in the Underdark for Tenebrous's minions. The Banshee Knights have apparently developed some sort or spell or magical item that allows them to detect and defend against the use of a visage's lucidity control power. Crusaders of the order are fanatically dedicated to their goddess and the destruction of all visages; they stop at nothing to see one destroyed, regardless of the collateral damage.

Priestly Vestments: The church of Kiaransalee favors loose black robes with hooded cowls stitched with bone and ivory. The clergy wear gray skullcaps on their shaven heads and thin silver rings on every finger save the thumb. They spread a grayish paste made of the ashes of incinerated corpses over all uncovered skin, such as the face, hands, and feet. The holy symbol of the faith is the silver rings worn on as noted above.

Adventuring Garb: Priests of Kiaransalee are forbidden to wear any sort of armor, preferring to trust their own magical defenses and the combat skills of their undead bodyguards. Many priests substitute a silver ring of protection for one of their ceremonial rings to supplement their defenses. Members of the Revenancer's clergy are trained in a wide variety of weapons, but most favor slim poisoned blades, garrotes, and maces so as to minimize the damage to bodies that could later be animated.

View user profile

4 Llolth on Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:34 am

Llolth
(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)

Intermediate Power of the Abyss,
CE
PORTFOLIO: Spiders, evil, darkness, chaos, assassins, the drow race
DOMAINS : Chaos, Drow, Evil, Darkness, Destruction, Spider, Trickery
ALIASES: Araushnee, Lloth (Menzoberranzan and Uluitur), Megwandir, Moander, Zinzerena
HOME PLANE: 66th level/Lolth's Web (the Demonweb Pits)
SUPERIOR: None
ALLIES: Loviatar, Malar, Selvetarm
FOES: Deep Duerra, Eilistraee, Ghaunadaur, Gruumsh Ibrandul (dead), Kiaran.satee, 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)
WOR. ALIGN.: LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE

Lloth (LOLTH) is the goddess of the drow race and drow society. She is responsible for the nature, customs, laws, and survival of most drow commu-nities. 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 will 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 amuse-ment 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 Corel-lon 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, Ghau- nadaur. 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 Zinzer-ena 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.

Other Manifestations

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.

Lolth's laughter-soft, cruel feminine chuckling-is often heard by drow who have lost her favor or who have gone mad. It is also heard by foes of the drow, especially when beings of these sorts are alone and/or fleeing in the endless caverns and passages of the Underdark.

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.

All clerics (including fighter/clerics), crusaders, and specialty priests of Lolth receive religion (drow), religion (elven), reading/writing (drowic), and ancient languages (high drow) as bonus nonweapon proficiencies.

Members of Lolth's clergy always gain access to the spells faerie fire and continual faerie fire (detailed in Prayers from the Faithful). 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 spi-ders, 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'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. 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. Lolth's clergy includes spe-cialty priests (40%), clerics (30%), fighter/clerics (20%), and crusaders (10%), although the relative fractions of each vary from city to city.

Dogma: 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 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.

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.

Day'to-Day Activities: 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 if a saving throw vs. spell at a -2 penalty succeeds). 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.

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.

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.

Affiliated Orders: 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 drugrunning 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.

Priestly Vestments: 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 enaml of a black widow spider or a platinum spider figurine on a platinum or mithral chain necklace.

Adventuring Garb: Lolth's clergy favor drow chain mail with magical bonuses . Typically such armor is enchanted to have a +1 defensive bonus for every four levels of the priest. Some priests also carry adamantite bucklers with similar properties to that of drow chain mail and with magical bonuses Clerics of the Spider Queen typically wield adamantite maces-again with similar properties to that of drow chain mail-with magical bonuses . In addition to maces, crusaders and arachnes sometimes wield adamantite short swords and long daggers, with magical bonuses Priests who are not clerics may also employ hand-held crossbows that shoot darts up to 60 yards.

View user profile

5 Selvetarm on Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:35 am

Selvetarm
Champion of Lolth, Thane of Lolth, the Spider That Waits, the Spider Demon, Prince of the Aranea, Lord of the Venomire

Demipower of the Abyss, CE

PORTFOLIO: Drow warriors
DOMAINS : Chaos, Drow, Evil, Spider, War
ALIASES: Zanassu
HOME PLANE: 66th level/Lolth's Web (the Demonweb Pits)
SUPERIOR: Lolth
ALLIES: Garagos, Lolth
FOES: Deep Duerra, Eilistraee, Ghaunadaur, Laduguer, the Seldarine, Sharess, Vhaeraun, Blibdoolpoolp, the Blood Queen, Diinkarazan, Diirinka, Great Mother, Gzemnid, Ilsensine, Ilxendren, Laogzed, Maanzecorian (dead), Psilofyr
SYMBOL: Crossed sword and mace overlaid with spider image
WOR. ALIGN.: LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE

Selvetarm (SELL-veh-TARM) is the Champion of Lolth and the patron or drow warriors. Seen as the embodiment of unequaled fighting prowess, Selvetarm is worshiped by a few drow in the northern and western reaches of the Underdark beneath Faerun, particularly in the city of Eryndlyn beneath the High Moor and in the dungeons of Undermountain beneath Waterdeep. The Spider Demon is also venerated by many of the aranea of the Spider Swamp in southern Calimshan where he is known as Zanassu, the Spider That Waits. A few drow in the Forest of Mir as well as a handful of Volothanni seeking any advantage to advance themselves politically in the Gem City of Calimshan round out the ranks of Selvetarm's faithful. Selvetarm is the offspring of an ill-fated tryst between Vhaeraun and Zandilar the Dancer, an demipower once venerated by the elves of the Yuirwood. When the Dancer's elven followers began to falter in the face of relentless assaults by Lolth's minions, Zandilar sought out the Masked Lord and seduced him in an attempt to either gain information or elicit his direct assistance in battling the Spider Queen. The Masked Lord betrayed Zandilar and imprisoned her, and only the timely assistance of Bast, an errant Mulhorandi demipower, allowed the Dancer to escape. Selvetarm was birthed shortly thereafter when the weakened Zandilar voluntarily merged her essence with that of Bast, creating the goddess now known as Sharess.

Selvetarm walked a solitary way for many centuries, spurning both of his parents, for he was not wholly given over to evil but neither was he aligned with the forces of light. Eventually his path crossed that of his aunt, Eilistraee, and he began to appreciate the goodness of the Dark Maiden, as exhibited in her teachings and deeds. By way of Selvetarm's redemption, Eilistraee hoped to begin to heal the breach between the majority of dark elves and the Seldarine. The Dark Maiden's hopes were dashed, however, by the insidious plotting of Lolth.

The Queen of Spiders had long resented the existence of Zanassu, a minor Abyssal Lord with pretensions of suzerainty over spiders, nearly as much as she disliked the possibility of Eilistraee winning an ally-Selvetarm-among the pantheon of the drow. When the Spider Demon lost much of his power after a conflict on the Prime (against Qysara Shoon V of the Shoon Empire), Lolth convinced Selvetarm to destroy Zanassu and seize the Spider Demon's burgeoning divine power. She did so by suggesting to Selvetarm that a victory would increase his personal power and win him favor in the eyes of Eilistraee, whom he greatly admired. While Selvetarm prevailed in battle over the Spider Demon, the absorption of Zanassu's wholly evil and chaotic nature overwhelmed Selvetarm's nascent beneficial aspects and weakened him sufficiently that he could not escape the traps by which the Spider Queen bound his will tightly to her own.

Cruel and malicious by nature, Selvetarm cares only for battle and destruction. The Champion of Lolth harbors a deep hatred for all living things, including his dominating mistress, and the only beauty he can appreciate is a well-honed and deadly fighting style. Selvetarm can exhibit a great deal of patience while waiting for prey to fall into an ambush he has set, but he prefers the wild abandon of battle frenzy to a careful and deliberate attack.

The Church

Selvetarm commonly acts through the appearance or presence of myrlochar (soul spiders), retrievers, and spiders of all sorts. The Spider Demon shows his favor through the discovery of rogue stones, pieces of dried silver-bark, and webstone, and his displeasure by causing steel weapons and armor to shatter in combat even after a glancing blow.

Outside of the Spider Swamp, the city of Volothamp, and the dungeons beneath Waterdeep, Selvetarm is little known on the surface world. He does appear in a few Calishite tales as the Demon of the Swamp in which he is depicted as a lurking evil capable of insidious charms and unchecked battle fury. Aside from the drow city of Eryndlyn, where Selvetarm's name is synonymous with the nigh-unstoppable battle prowess of drow male warriors in the service of Lolth, the Spider Demon is known in the Underdark in only a few drow cities that follow the Way of Lolth. Few drow are aware that he is divine being, as most tales depict him simply as a powerful tanar'ri and a minion of Lolth.

The few temples of Selvetarm that exist are typically large subterranean chambers dominated a huge black stone spider idol. The Chapel of the Sericeous Sargh, a small shrine on the first level of Undermountain beneath the streets of Waterdeep, is fairly representative of the style. The idol appears to merge with the center of the room's eastern wall. A darkly stained altar sits before the idol, and two of the spider's legs are outstretched in front of the altar. Another two legs are raised up high, above the altar, suspending an unlit brazier from each leg. The spider's other legs bend up and set down close to its sides, forming large arches along the sides of the idol. An eerie, purplish-blue radiance emanates from the statue's eyes, providing the chapel's only illumination when the braziers are not lit. 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. The clergy of Selvetarm includes both male (70%) and female dark elves (8%) as well as male (15%) and female aranea (7%). Selvetarm's clergy includes specialty priests (35%), crusaders (25%), cleric/fighters (20%), fighters (15%, including nonpriest multiclassed fighters), and clerics (5%).

Dogma: War is the ultimate expression of individual power, and only through battle and death can one realize the respect of one's comrades. Hone fighting skills constantly and teach those who will follow into the fray. Never give or receive quarter, and die amidst the bloodlust of battle against overwhelming odds. Cultivate as many different weapon tricks and combat maneuvers as a spider has arms, and never fear that hidden venom, like a secret vengeance waiting to strike, will serve you ill.

Day-to-Day Activities: 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.

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies: 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.

Major Centers of Worship: In the northern reaches of the Spider Swamp of Calimshan lies a ruined city known as Lost Ajhuutal, rumored to have been the capitol of the Maridlands millennia ago. The ruins have been inhabited by a race of werespiders for centuries. The aranea are large, intelligent spiders capable of assuming a single humanoid form. Originally all could assume drow form, but increasing numbers assume a human or half-elven form identical in all ways to Calishites of the same racial mix. In the center of oft-rebuilt Lost Ajhuutal stands the Apostolaeum of the Spider That Waits, one of the city's few buildings that is still relatively intact. The temple has a massive stone spider as its central dome, with stone webs spreading out to the four minarets flanking it at the corners. Less than one hundred priests and followers of Zanassu dwell within the temple, impatiently awaiting opportunities for hunting or wars, but content to serve The Spider Who Waits and the community by defending the temple. Recent expansions of the aranea's territory into the southern reaches of the Forest of Mir have given Zanassu's clergy the opportunity to war with the community of wereboars who are resisting the incursions, but the primary worry of the Spider Demon's priests is the concern that they may lose their fullblood status as fewer and fewer of the aranea keep only drow changeforms.

According to legend, the aranea were created by Calishite wizards during the Night Wars to infiltrate the ranks of the drow and destroy them from within. With the defeat of the dark elves and the end of 260 years of warfare in -530 DR, the aranea were cast off by the Calishites and either killed or driven into the Spider Swamp. Among the dank fens of the Venomire, as the Spider Swamp is also known, the aranea developed a relatively pacifistic, neutral culture, trading in silk, herbs, and poisons with the coastal city of Volothamp. During this time some aranea began to manifest humanoid forms other than that of dark elves, facilitating their ability to move unhindered through Calishite cities and towns. When Qysara Shoon V cast the spider-people as scapegoats for a plague that ravished Almraiven in the Year of Full Cribs (290 DR), the aranea were nearly destroyed by the resultant backlash from Volothamp's military and populace. In response, some of the aranea turned to Zanassu, then a minor Abyssal Lord, to defend them against the Shoon Empire. Zanassu was banished back to the Abyss by the qysara in the Year of Frostfires (292 DR), but by that time the Spider Demon's cult had taken root among a large fraction of the oncepeaceful aranea. Since early in the 4th century Dalereckoning, the aranea have dwelt relatively peacefully in the City of Maridsorrows, their safety secured by the militant followers of Zanassu.

For ten centuries, Zanassu's aranea priests foretold the triumphant return of their deity after his ignominious defeat by Qysara Shoon V. While the Spider Demon was rumored to have stalked the Spider Swamp on multiple occasions during his millennial absence, his avatar did not actually return to the Apostolaeum until the Year of the Wandering Waves (1292 DR), 1,000 years to the day after his banishment. For 66 years (a baleful portent given the Spider Demon's lair in the 66th level of the Abyss), Zanassu-or a powerful tanar'ri claiming to be him-dwelt within the heart of the Apostolaeum. Zanassu did not emerge from his temple until the Fall of the Gods in the Year of Shadows (1358 DR), at which time the Lord of the Venomire stalked northward toward the Forest of Mir and did not return. During the nearly seven decades of his rule, Zanassu's minions infiltrated the corridors of power in Volothamp and the surrounding region so thoroughly that the then-reigning vizier, Ramslett N'door and a number of his senior advisers fell victim to Zanassu's charms. During the Time of Troubles, however, Zanassu's hold over the government of Volothamp swiftly dissipated in the magical chaos of the time. With the strife of the Darkstalker Wars of the Year of the Serpent (1359 DR) following on the heels of the Avatar Crisis, 66 years of unseen tyranny vanished with barely a trace.

Affiliated Orders: 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, detailed above- and searching for new magic with which to defend the exiled cult. Priestly Vestments: 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. (In desperation, a priest can employ his braids in close quarters as a flail by whipping his head to and fro. Such attacks are made at at a -2 attack penalty and inflict ld4 total points of damage.) 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.

Adventuring Garb: 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.

View user profile

6 Vhaeraun on Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:36 am

Vhaeraun
The Masked Lord, the Masked God of Night, the Shadow

Lesser Power of the Carceri, CE

PORTFOLIO: Thievery, drow males, territory, evil activity on the surface world
DOMAINS : Chaos, Drow, Evil, Travel, Trickery
ALIASES: Vhaerun
HOME PLANE: Colothys/Ellaniath
SUPERIOR: None
ALLIES: Mask, Shar, Talona
FOES: Cyrrollalee, Deep Duerra, Eilistraee, Ghaunadaur, Laduguer, Lolth, the Seldarine, Sharess, Blibdoolpoolp, the Blood Queen, Diinkarazan, Diirinka, Great Mother, Gzemnid, Ilsensine, Ilxendren, Laogzed, Maanzecorian (dead), Psilofyr
SYMBOL: Black half-mask
WOR. ALIGN.: LN, N, CN, LE, NE, CE

Vhaeraun (Vay-RAWN) is the god of thievery and the furthering of drow aims, interests, and power in the Night Above, as the surface world is known to the faithful. He is also the god of drow males opposed to the matriarchy of Lolth, teaching that males are as skilled and valuable as females, and thus passively opposing the teachings of Lolth's priesthood on this point. He believes that drow should work with the other elven races for common advancement and never associate or trade with duergar, svirfneblin, or other dwarven and gnome races. (Humans and halflings can be tolerated.)

Vhaeraun is vain, proud, sometimes haughty, bears grudges of legendary length, and never forgets slights or deceptions. Any underhanded means and treachery is acceptable to him if it furthers his aims or is done in his service-but if others so treat him or his people, it is a deep sin that cannot go unpunished. He actively involves himself in drow affairs and moderately often sends an avatar to assist the work of his priests if the proper rituals are performed and the need is genuine.

Vhaeraun is the brother of Eilistraee and the son of Araushnee, who was cast out and became Lolth, and Corellon Larethian. The Masked Lord was cast out of the Seldarine and banished from Arvandor, along with his mother and sister, when his complicity was revealed in Araushnee's plot to destroy Corellon. While he hates all of the Seldarine, Vhaeraun harbors a particular enmity for Sehanine Moonbow, who escaped the Masked Lord's prison at great cost to herself and unmasked the culpability of both Vhaeraun and Araushnee. Likewise, the Masked Lord nurtures an abiding hatred of Eilistraee. The Dark Maiden always held Corellon's favor more than her hateful brother, and she thwarted Vhaeraun's early efforts to bring all the Ilythiiri (southern, dark-skinned elves) under his sway, enabling Lolth and Ghaunadaur to make great inroads among those who would become the drow. Vhaeraun reserves his greatest hatred for the Spider Queen who gave birth to him long ago. The Masked Lord lacks the strength to challenge Lolth directly, so he works against her in shadow, undermines her in silence, and looks to unite the other drow powers against her.

The Church

Vhaeraun also acts through the appearance or presence of gehreleths (farastu, kelubar, and shator), mephits (air, smoke, and earth), shadow dragons, shadow fiends, yeth hounds, and undead shadows. More commonly he sends a region of absolute, impenetrable darkness, black cats, ravens, dead spiders, agni manis, black opals, black sapphires, blackhued chalcedony, crown of silver, hematite, horn coral, black-hued jasper, jet, black-hued marble, obsidian, black-hued onyx, black-hued pearls, ravenar, or samarskite to show his favor or displeasure and as a sign to inspire his faithful.

All priests of the Masked Lord must be male, with the rare exception of suborned priests of Lolth. Priests of Vhaeraun may not cast any spell from the sphere of summoning or the school of summoning that does not directly summon the avatar of the Masked God of Night or request his favor (such as blessing of Vhaeraun). Spells that are strictly of the conjuration school are permitted Vhaeraun is little known on the surface world among nondrow or in the Lolth-dominated cities of the dark elves in the Underdark. Among those nondrow aware of the activities of his followers in the surface world, the Masked Lord is often confused with the human god of thieves, Mask. Very few surface dwellers appreciate the threat Vhaeraun and his followers represent to the established order. In the wilds of the Underdark, the faith of Vhaeraun is seen to be slowly expanding in power and influence, and the followers of the Masked Lord are viewed with fearful respect. To priests of Lolth, priests of Vhaeraun are the enemy, to be hunted down by any means possible-torture of suspected drow is a favorite tactic-and eradicated on the altars of Lolth to earn the maximum glory of the goddess and derive the most personal enjoyment out of one's efforts. To dissatisfied, city-dwelling drow, particularly males, who somehow learn of the Masked Lord, Vhaeraun's faith is seen to offer a means of escape from the enslavement the Spider Queen.

In the Underdark, Vhaeraun is worshiped in deep caverns cloaked in multiple, overlapping darkness spells. Such temples are typically natural amphitheaters, with soaring ceilings studded with sparkling beljurils spaced to resemble stars. In the Night Above, the Masked Lord is venerated in shallow woodland caves cloaked by layers of leaves of deep forest canopies that allow little light to reach the forest floor. Such shrines are typically located near or in small communities of surface-dwelling drow who seek the return of the drow to the Night Above as the Masked Lord has called for. One such temple and community may be found in the western fringes of the High Forest, just two days south of the River Dessarin's headwaters near the Lost Peaks.

Vhaeraun's clergy are known collectively as the Masked. Novices of Vhaeraun are known as the Uncloaked. All other members of the clergy are known as Nightshadows. Titles used by Vhaeraunan priests vary widely across temple hierarchies, but typical titles (in no particular order) include Ascendant Darkness, Black Moon, Dark Mantle, Deep Rogue, Enveloping Night, Raven's Caw, Shadow Hunter, Silent Sable, and Twilight's Herald. High-ranking priests of the Masked Lord have unique individual titles. Specialty priests are known as darkmasks, and traitorous priests of Lolth are known as masked traitors. The clergy of Vhaeraun includes only dark elves, over 99% of whom are male. Vhaeraun's clergy includes specialty priests (55%), thieves (25%, including nonpriest multiclassed thieves), clerics (10%), cleric/thieves (7%), crusaders (2%), and masked traitors (1%).

Dogma: The shadows of the Masked Lord must cast off the tyranny of the Spider Queen and forcibly reclaim their birthright and rightful place in the Night Above. The existing drow matriarchies must be smashed, and the warring practices of twisted Lolth done away with so that the drow are welded into a united people, not a squabbling gaggle of rival Houses, clans, and aims. Vhaeraun will lead his followers into a society where the Ilythiiri once again reign supreme over the other, lesser races, and there is equality between males and females.

Priests of Vhaeraun must encourage, lead, or aid bands of drow and allied chaotic evil creatures in thievery and instigate plots, intrigues, and events to continually increase drow influence and real power in the surface Realms. They must manipulate trade, creatures, and intrigues designed to lessen the power of and frustrate the plans of drow priests (particularly those who serve Lolth), and continually foment rebellion or disobedience among drow males. Drow thieves in need must be aided (even if female): healed, bailed out of jail, or forcibly rescued. Drow men oppressed or under attack by drow women must be physically aided in any circumstances. Cruelties against drow men must be avenged.

Day-to-Day Activities: Vhaeraun's priesthood is nearly exclusively male and practices passive opposition to Lolth's priests. They are also active in the surface world, and some preach a heresy of the unity of elven races and their need to work together for dominion. They specialize in intrigue, trickery, and treachery and foment disobedience and rebellion among males. In drow communities, Vhaeraun's priests often disguise their allegiance, for obvious reasons.

Every priest works to establish some sort of permanent drow settlement on the surface world, and either support that settlement's needs personally, or (preferably) make it self-supporting. (The settlement of Vhaeraun worshipers in the High Forest, as discussed above, was established by the drow wizard Nisstyre, captain of the merchant band Dragon's Hoard, before his death in a clash with the Dark Maidens of the Promenade in chambers beneath Skullport.) Poison use, manufacture, and experimentation is also common. Especially effective spells, poisons, and tactics devised by a priest are to be shared with the Masked Lord-and thence, all clergy.

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies: The most important attacks, negotiations, and other activities of the clergy must occur at night. Priests of Vhaeraun utter prayers to the Masked God of Night whenever they accomplish something to further his aims. Offerings of the wealth and weapons of those they vanquish (enemies of the drow, or regalia of female drow priests) are to be melted in black, bowl-shaped altars. Offerings of magic and wealth are made regularly. The more and the more value, the more Vhaeraun is pleased, though he favors daily diligence more than rare, huge hauls.

Midwinter Night, known to Vhaeraun's followers as the Masked Lord's Embrace, is the most sacred time of the year to the followers of the Masked Lord. This annual holy day is celebrated by the Masked Lord's followers with daylong introspective rituals of total sensory deprivation. Each worshiper is expected to cloak himself in a region of magical darkness and levitate at the middle of the effect for a full 24 hours while contemplating Vhaeraun's teachings and dreaming up schemes to advance the Masked Lord's goals in the coming year. All followers of Vhaeraun who wish to perform this ritual are granted the ability to employ both spell-like effects on this day, with the necessary extended duration, by a special boon of the Masked Lord.

In the Night Above, nights of the new moon are considered sacred to the followers of the Masked Lord. Such occasions are observed with midnight stag hunts that range over miles of shadowy woodlands, such as the Forest of Lethyr, the Forest of Mir, the Frozen Forest, the Lurkwood, Rawl-inswood, the Trollbark Forest, and the Winterwood. Packs of Vhaeraun worshipers, mounted on riding lizards brought up from the Underdark, run down a noble hart and then sacrifice its rack of antlers and still-beating heart to the Masked Lord in dark rites that pervert the ancient ways of the surface elves.

Major Centers of Worship: One of the largest, if not the largest, concentration of dark elves on the surface of Faerun is found in the northern reaches of Sarenestar, also known as the Forest of Mir, on the border of Tethyr and Calimshan. The drow who reside within this great timberland are concentrated in three separate settlements, all connected by tunnels and caverns created during the Night Wars. Each city consists of a few buildings dotting the surface and extensive caverns below. Unlike the egalitarian Holldaybim where both males and females rule, most of the drow who inhabit Daltnothax and Iskasshyoll are ardent Vhaeraun worshipers. Both patriarchal societies have been engaged in a centuries-long conflict with the Spider Queen's followers in Guallidurth, a drow city deep beneath Calimshan from which their ancestors escaped long ago. As part of this unending, intermittent conflict, the small temples to the Masked Lord found within Dallnothax and Iskasshyoll-the Hall of Midnight Bloodshed and the Onyx Labyrinth, respectively-have been sacked on several occasions by Lolth's worshipers. Both shrines serve their true purpose, however, by diverting attacks from the true center of the Masked Lord's worship in the region, a vast underground temple hidden beneath the flanks of Mount Sarenegard known as the Vault of Cloaked Midnight. Under the able leadership of Envenomed Edge Masoj Naerth, the southern Nightshadows have recovered much of their strength since the near disintegration of the Calishite-based cells of the Dark Dagger (see below) in the Darkstalker Wars of the Year of the Serpent (1359 DR).

Affiliated Orders: The Dark Dagger, composed of drow who venerate Vhaeraun, is a whispered name of growing weight in the dark alleys around the Inner Sea lands. Individually powerful hut few in number, Dagger agents habitually use poison (which they are largely immune to, thanks to lifelong incremental dosage procedures). Active in Skullport (in Undermountain, beneath Waterdeep), in Turmish and the Vilhon Reach, and to a lesser extent in Amn and Calimshan, the various Points of the Dagger are now beginning to infiltrate coast cities all around the Sea of Fallen Stars. They like to take control of local thieving guilds and fellowships behind the scenes, hire skilled human and humanoid agents, and establish hidden temples to Vhaeraun. They recruit disaffected half-elves and humans to worship the Masked Lord, whose symbol is identical to that of Mask, the Lord of Shadows.

Very rare, but greatly feared in Lolth-fostered drow folklore and among living priests of Lolth, is the traitor priest who serves Lolth and another deity (usually Vhaeraun). It is for this reason that male drow who aspire to be priests in Lolth s service seldom rise very far in levels: even if they overcome the hatred and resentment of any female drow clergy they must work with, the Spider Queen simply does not trust them-they tend to end their days quickly, being used as temple enforcers or guards. In this role they face many spell battles with intruders (such as drow trying to settle grudges with enemies in the clergy) or priests who are rebellious, or feuding, or who have succumbed to insanity under the pressures of their station or contact with lower-planar creatures. There are priests who serve Lolth on the surface, and Vhaeraun underneath. The reverse is almost unknown, though the destructive potential of such an individual keeps the idea a dark and secret dream that fires a glint in the eyes of many a high priest. The glory for training and placing such a one would be very great, but finding suitable candidates and steering them alive through the perils of preparation without losing their loyalty to Lolth and to their handler is unlikely in the extreme-and so far, as far as it is can be told from the news of the Underdark, so unlikely as to be unknown.

How can such treachery be tolerated by the Spider Queen? Surely she knows the heart of every worshiper, and could prevail over any influences of a god of lesser power, such as Vhaeraun? The truth is that Vhaeraun is not so much less powerful than the Spider Queen-he simply uses his power in subtle, hidden, behind-the-scenes ways, not in the tyrannical, exultant, and brutal-naked-force manner so beloved by Lolth. He also watches over the drow in any place ruled by Lolth where he does have worshipers (such as the drow cities of Menzoberranzan, Tiethtyrr, and Waerglarn) often and attentively, looking into their minds for doubts and misgivings. If he finds great hatred or open rebellion against the dictates of the Spider Queen (or against her local high priests) and can find an opportunity for a private audience with the wavering Lolth worshiper, Vhaeraun manifests as a shadowy black face mask, and telepathically speaks to the individual. If the individual is discovered or attacked by others, Vhaeraun typically leaves-after using spells to destroy the beings who discovered or attacked his intended faithful. In doing this he manifests a sign of his power over Lolth and preserves the intended worshiper for another attempt at conversion later.


A double agent priest or priest continues to advance in Lolth's service and to gain spells normally. If the individual's loyalty to Vhaeraun is ever discovered, Lolth typically alerts nearby drow, and refuses to grant any further spells to the traitor-but does not strip the drow of any presently memorized spells. If the drow survives long enough to flee Lolth worshipers and any community they control, she or he continues at the same priest level and spell power, losing only access to spells specifically and only granted by Lolth (note that the conceal item spell is granted by other deities than the Spider Queen, and there may well be other Lolth- granted spells that have been granted in parallel for, by rival deities). The double agent becomes a cleric or specialty priest of Vhaeraun (although the dress and manners of a Lolth worshiper may be retained for use as a disguise), and typically travels to near-surface drow holdings or trading communities used by several races (such as Skullport). Drow tend not to speak the names or want to remember such traitors-their Houses disown them for safety's sake, and other drow are urged by the yochlol not to remind people of treachery to Lolth by keeping alive names of those who have so sinned.

Priestly Vestments: Vhaeraun's clergy garb themselves in half-masks, loose silk shirts, form-fitting pants, and leather boots, all of which are jet black. They are never without at least one black-edged bladed weapon on their persons, and most are bedecked with half a dozen or more such weapons. The god's holy symbol is a black half-mask that can, of course, be worn and used like any mask. Priests of Vhaeraun need only be within a mile of their holy symbol to use it in working spells given to them by the Masked Lord. It need not ever be on their persons (except when they first wear it to become attuned or linked to it) or brandished in spellcasting or dealing with undead.

Adventuring Garb: No priest of Vhaeraun can wear any type of armor except leather armor, and dark garb is always preferred. Vhaeraun's clergy favor daggers, short swords, and long swords, but they always select the most appropriate weapon for the task at hand. The Masked Lord's priests are well versed in the use of poisons, and typically prepare several varieties of widely varying onset times, methods of application, and strengths before embarking on a dangerous undertaking

View user profile

7 Eilistraee on Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:36 am

Eilistraee
Titles: The Dark Maiden, Lady of the Dance.

STATUS: Lesser Deity
GENDER: Female
SYMBOL: Nude long haired female drow dancing with a silver bastard sword in front of a full moon
DOMAINS : Chaos, Charm, Drow, Elf, Good, Moon, Portal
HOME PLANE: Arvandor (also the Demonweb Pits)
ALIGNMENT: Chaotic Good
PORTFOLIO: Song, beauty, dance, swordwork, hunting, moonlight
WORSHIPERS: Good aligned drow, hunters, surface-dwelling elves
CLERIC ALIGNMENTS: CG, CN, NG
FAVORED WEAPON: “The Moonsword” (bastard sword)

Relationships: Daughter of Corellon Larethian and Araushnee (Lolth), sister of Vhaeraun
Allies: The Seldarine, Mystra, Selûne, and the good deities of the Underdark races
Enemies: Evil deities of the Underdark, especially the rest of the drow pantheon

Eilistraee (EEL-iss-TRAY-yee) is the goddess of the good drow those rare dark elves who yearn for a re-turn to life on the surface Realms, existence akin to that enjoyed by elves of the woodlands, left behind by the drow long ago. She is a goddess of song and beauty, goodness and light, worshiped through song and dance-preferably in the surface world, under the stars of a moonlit night. Eilistraee aids her faithful in hunting and swordcraft, and worship of her is usually accompanied by a feast. Eilistraee also has worshipers of human, elven, and in particular, half-elven stock (particularly around Silverymoon), and she looks kindly upon the Harpers. She is usually seen only from afar, hut her song (of unearthly beauty, driving many to tears) is heard whenever she appears.

The Dark Maiden is the sister of Vhaeraun and the daughter of Araushnee, who was cast out and became Lolth, and Corellon Larethian. After Eilistraee nearly slew her father with an arrow during a great battle between the Seldarine and a host of evil deities bent on conquering Arvandor, the Dark Maiden forswore the use of ranged weapons (although she permits them to her followers). Although her arrow went astray because of Araushnee's treachery, Eilistraee chose banishment from Arvandor (and the Seldarine) along with her mother and brother, foreseeing a time when she would be needed to balance their evil.

On Aheir-Toril, the Dark Maiden strove for centuries against the hatred of Vhaeraun and his corrupting influence on the Ilythiiri (southern, darkskinned elves). Eilistraee's power ebbed with the death of many of her faithful in the Dark Disaster, and the rise of Lolth and Ghaunadaur among the dark elves marginalized the influence of the Lady of the Dance for millennia. Only in recent centuries has Eilistraee's faith regained a small amount of prominence in Faerun, as the Dark Maiden seeks to lead the fallen drow back to the long-forsaken light.

Eilistraee is a melancholy, moody drow female, a lover of beauty and peace. The evil of most drow banks a burning anger within her, and when her faithful are harmed, that anger is apt to spill out into wild action. It is not her way to act openly, but she often aids creatures she favors (whether they worship her or not) in small, immediately practical ways. Eilistraee is happiest when she looks on bards singing or composing, craftsmen at work, lovers, or acts of kindness.

While the Dark Maiden and the Seldarine remain allies, it is a strained relationship that reflects the divisions that persist among the elves. Among the elven powers, Eilistraee is only close with Erevan Ilesere, and she has only recently worked out an uneasy truce with Shevarash. Eilistraee is unusually close with the human goddess of magic, Mystra; Qilue Veladorn, seventh of the Seven Sisters, serves both goddesses as Chosen of Mystra and as Chosen of Eilistraee. The Dark Maiden hates the corruption and unredeemable evil that both Lolth and Ghaunadaur represent, and she mourns her brother's enduring cruelty and selfishness.


The Church

Eilistraee is served by aasimar, aasimon (particularly lights), asuras, cath shee, einheriar, eladrins, mercury dragons, elven cats, fcystags, frosts, hollyphants, incarnates of faith and hope, lythari, mist dragons, moon dogs, moon-horses, mortal, pixies, radiance quasielementals, reverend ones, silver dogs, silver dragons, sprites, sunflies, a tiefling or two, and silverstriped tabby cats or normal-looking animals with solid silver-colored eyes. She demonstrates her favor through the discovery of mithral, moonbars, moonstones, and silver, and the sudden inspiration to write a beautiful song or poem or the skilled to craft a gorgeous sword. Eilistraee indicates her displeasure with the sudden rising of a cold breeze, the disfavored ones hands or feet growing chilled, a sudden lack of inspiration for or capability in any artistic endeavour, or the inability to catch anything while hunting.

The followers of Eilistraee are figures of legend in both the Underdark and the Lands of Light. They are the subject of superstitions and wildly inaccurate mistruths, held by surface dwellers to be the evil vanguard of the Spider Goddess's plot to plunge all of Faerun into darkness under her rule and held by those drow who follow the Way of Lolth (or other evil gods) to be faerie (surface elf) invaders masquerading as dark elves in preparation for the coming war of annihilation. Rare is the individual- dark elf or not-who appreciates that Eilistraee is forging her own path, one that welcomes beings of all races who revel in life and the free form expression of all that entails.

The clergy of Eilistraee are collectively known as Dark Ladies, although individual temples often have a unique collective name for the Dark Maiden's priests. Acolytes and aspirants to the clergy who wish to join a temple or who have not yet attained full priesthood are known as Maids.

The titles of individual priests vary widely-and at some temples are personally selected during a private Flame Song-but some common examples include Moon Dancer, Moon Singer, Dark Huntress, Argent Maid, Living Sword, Unsheathed Blade, Sword Smith, Bright Edge of Darkness, and Ghost of the Moonstruck Night. Specialty priests of the Dark Maiden are known as sword dancers and, including multiclassed specialty priests, make up the vast majority (90%) other clergy. The fraction of clerics (including multiclassed clerics) in Eilistraee's service (6%) has always been small and is continuing to shrink. A small fraction (2%) of Lady Silverhair's clergy, found predominantly in the South, although that has started to change in the aftermath of the Time of Troubles, are crusaders, and all are members of the Darksong Knights. An even smaller fraction (less than 1%) of those who venerate the Lady of the Dance are mystics. Such priests invariably discover Eilistraee on their own and come to worship the Dark Maiden outside of any established church environment.

Temples of the Dark Maiden are typically established in the mouths of dark caverns and in dim forests on the surface world from which her priests can venture forth at night to brave the moonlight. It is rare for clergy of Eilistraee to found a temple below the surface, even one so close to the world above as the Promenade (see below). Eilistraee's places of worship are chosen and developed in a manner similar to those of the surface elves dedicated to the Seldarine. The Dark Maiden's clergy seek out pristine, natural sites that need little modification. Temple complexes typically include a glade in which to dance and from which the view of the moon is unobstructed, a dark place removed from the light of day, a thick tree canopy, a lively fresh water stream that playfully dances and sings, a forge and smithy for Grafting swords, an access tunnel to the Underdark, and a vein of iron or some other metal suitable for the Crafting of swords. However, the simplest shrine of the Dark Maiden requires naught but a moonlit glade and a song (audible or imagined) that draws one into a dance.

Dogma: Aid the weak, strong, grateful, and churlish alike; be always kind, save in battle with evil. Encourage happiness everywhere; lift hearts with kind words, jests, songs, and merriment.

Learn how to cook game and how best to hunt it. Learn new songs, dances, and ways with weapons, and spices, and recipes, and pass this learning on whenever possible. Learn how to play, make, and repair musical instruments. Practice music and sword-work. Defend and aid all folk, promoting harmony between the races.

Strangers are your friends. The homeless must be given shelter from storms, under your own roof if need be. Repay rudeness with kindness. Repay violence with swift violence, that the fewest may be hurt and danger fast removed from the land.

The faithful must aid drow who are in distress. If the distressed are fighting with other drow, the combat is to be stopped with as little bloodshed as possible. So long as the drow met with are not working evil on others, they are to be aided and given the message of Eilistraee: "A rightful place awaits you in the Realms Above, in the Land of the Great Light. Come in peace, and live beneath the sun again, where trees and flowers grow." Priests of the goddess are allowed to keep and accumulate money given them as offerings-with the understanding that this wealth is to be used to buy food, musical instruments, and other tools (such as good swords) to serve the will of the goddess.

Priests of Eilistraee are allowed to go adventuring, so long as they feed, aid, and defend the needy along the way. They are encouraged to aid adventuring parties, with the price of their aid to be provision of some sort of beneficial magical armor they can use (or failing that, an enchanted sword of some sort).

Faithful of Eilistraee are encouraged to give food to others in need with a prayer to the goddess, to act with kindness, and to give food and money they can spare to their priests. Priests are to feed themselves by their own gardening and hunting skills as much as possible and to try to convert at least one stranger per moon to the worship of Eilistraee. Leading a convert in a prayer to the Dark Maiden is itself an offering to the goddess, who often (68%) manifests as a sign to the convert. When priests of the goddess must fight evil, they are to bum the bodies of the evil creatures they slay as an offering to the goddess-unless such creatures are edible and nonsentient, and there are hungry folk near.

Any hungry travellers met with, who offer no threats, are to be fed by the faithful of Eilistraee. While travelling, priests are to carry food with them for this purpose at all times. Where food cannot be purchased or received, it must be gathered or hunted for. Faithful of Eilistraee are to set aside food and give it as often as possible to strangers in need, particularly outcasts and those of other races. If food yet remains, it is to be given to the priests of Eilistraee, that they may do the same, and none shall go hungry. In times of plenty, store food for lean times ahead.

In harsh winters, patrol the lands about to find and take in the lost, the hurt, and those caught in the teeth of the cold.

Whenever possible, food should be eaten with the accompaniment of song. Except for properly sad occasions, a feast should be accompanied by merriment; the faithful of the Dark Maiden are commanded to promote happiness and gaiety whenever possible. When faithful and allies of a priest fall in battle, any priest present must, if possible, provide burial, a funeral song, and comfort to the bereaved.

Day-to-Day Activities : Whenever and wherever possible, faithful of Eilistraee encourage drow to return to the surface world and work to promote harmony between drow and surface- dwelling races in order to establish the drow as rightful, nonevil inhabitants of Faerun. They nurture beauty, music, the craft of making musical instruments, and song wherever they find it, assist hunters and hunting, and help others in acts of kindness whenever they see ways to do so. Priests must be skilled in the playing of at least one of the Dark Maiden's favored instruments-horn, flute, or harp; be adequate singers; and be fit, graceful dancers. They gather songs and musical knowledge constantly and acquire training in the use of the sword when they can.

Holy Days/Important Ceremonies : The customary worship to the Dark Maiden is a hunt, followed by a feast and dancing, and a Circle of Song, in which the worshipers sit and dance by turns in a circle, each one in succession leading a song. If pos- sible, this is done out of doors, in a wooded area, on a moonlit night. Daily prayers are sung whenever possible, and priests try to lead others in a song or two every evening, even if no formal ritual is held.

Worshipers of Eilistraee try to let out all of the gathered emotions of the day with an 'evensong'. An evensong is a personal thing, often wordless and done in private. Priests of the Dark Maiden who have the coins to do so are expected to hire any strange minstrel or bard they meet for a song or two; lay worshipers are encouraged to do so. Whenever a sword is finished or first taken into use by a worshiper of the Dark Maiden, a priest tries to call down the blessing of the goddess upon it. This is done by planting the blade point-down in the ground, out of doors and by night, and dancing. The Sword Dance circles the blade and involves the priest drawing blood from each of her limbs by dancing momentarily against the blade. If successful (45% chance, per night attempted), the blade glows with a silvery radiance. For three months, it does not break or rust (if a drow weapon, it is also made immune to sun and removal from- radiation damage for the same period), and though lacking a bonus or dweomer, can strike creatures normally hit only by magical weapons.

The High Hunt is celebrated at least once in each of the four seasons: a night-time hunt of a dangerous beast or monster, led by priests of Eilistraee. By tradition, the hunters may use any bladed weapons, and wear anything-except the priests, who go naked, carrying only a single sword. If the quarry is slain, a chanted prayer and circle dance to the goddess is held.

At least once a year, priests of Eilistraee undertake a Run. Those who are not drow blacken their bodies with natural dyes and oils. All priests, drow or not, boil certain leaves and berries to make their hair silvery, and go wandering (on the surface world). (Hostile drow say their silver hair indicates that the brains within the head are addled, though many drow who do not worship Eilistraee have silver hair.) Trusting to their music, kind ways, and sword skills to keep them from being slain as drow, priests of the Dark Maiden go where they are strangers, making an effort to seek out elven communities and bring them game, kindness, and helping hands. They try to learn new songs, music, and sword ways, and do not come to preach their faith or make a mark for themselves.

In the end, all priests who do not die in battle hold their greatest ritual: the Last Dance. In old age, Eilistraee's priests hear the goddess singing to them by night, calling them to her. When the song feels right, they go out unclad under the moonlit sky and dance-never to be seen again. Those who have observed such dances say that the goddess comes and sings overhead, and the aged priest begins to dance more effortlessly, looking younger and younger. Her hair begins to glow with the same radiance as the Dark Maiden's, and then she becomes slowly translucent, fading away as the dance goes on. In the end, only a silvery radiance is heard, with two voices-the goddess and her priest-raised together in melancholy, tender song.

Major Centers of Worship: Before the elven Crown Wars, Eilisrraee's faith was strong in Miyeritar, and she had small numbers of faithful in Ilythiir and the other elven realms of the time. The Dark Disaster, unleashed during the Third Crown War, transformed Miyeritar into the blasted wasteland now known as the High Moor and dealt a devastating blow to the ranks of the Dark Maiden's followers. When the Ilythiiri were transformed into the drow and banished from the sunlit lands at the end of the Fourth Crown War some five hundred years later, Eilistraee's church effectively collapsed and was not reformed for millennia.

A few ancient, sacred sites of power built before the Crown Wars survive in the Misty Forest, along the borders of the High Moor, and in the Shar, scattered across the onceverdant savannah.

In the Year of Shadows Fleeting (-331 DR), the drow of the Twisted Tower fell to the armies of Cormanthyr and Rystal Wood was left in the hands of good-aligned dark elf allies. Within a century, the Tower of the Dark Moon was Eilistraee's greatest temple in the Realms. The Dark Maiden's temple fell once again to the drow beneath Cormanthyr in the Year of the Apparition (190 DR) and survives today as Shadowdale's primary redoubt where it is known by its original name, the Twisted Tower. All that remains of the Dark Maiden's legacy is the swirl of Eilistraee's moonfire that envelops any follower of Eilistraee who mentions her name within the once-sacred halls.

The Promenade of the Dark Maiden, also known as Eilistraee's Promenade or simply the Promenade, occupies a large ruined city located to the east and north of the lawless, subterranean city of Skullport on the third level of Undermountain deep beneath Waterdeep, the City of Splendors. Of the four major caverns that comprise the temple, one cavern contains many two- and three-story buildings that serve as living quarters for the faithful; another cavern-the Cavern of Song-serves as open space and as an amphitheatre for the hymns of the Dark Maiden's worshipers; the third cavern serves the priests as living quarters; and the fourth cavern houses guards' barracks, storehouses, armouries, and living quarters. A large side cavern leads off from the Cavern of Song to Eilistraee's Mound, site of a great statue of the Dark Maiden hewn from a jagged mound of rock. Adjoining the main temple is the Hall of Healing-once a temple of Moander that was destroyed by an unknown band of adventurers in the service of Tyr long ago- which serves as a sick nursery for the care and tending of the temple's wounded as well as those unfortunates who suffered from the dangers of the Under Halls and were rescued by the Dark Ladies. A fixed one-way teleport spot from the sixth level of Halastar's Halls delivers adventurers and an infrequent monster to the northwestern corner passage north of the Hall of Healing itself. Priests of the Promenade heal any who come to the Hall, offering the hand of friendship oft denied to those of the Shunned Races.

Many races live among the community of faithful, and their numbers are drawn from escaped slaves, former adventurers, and the Chosen of Eilistraee, as the dark elven priests are known. Prominent individuals resident in the Promenade include: Qilue Veladom, High Priest of the Promenade, Chosen of the Chosen, and Chosen of Mystra (see Seven Sisters and Heroes' Lorebook for additional details on the least-known of the Seven Sisters); Elkantar Iluim, Right Hand of the Lady; Arrikett Uruth, Hand of the Protectors; Iljrene Ahbruyn, Hand of the Protectors. The Protectors of the Song, who wield the temple's sacred singing swords, serve as the temple's guards. Their ranks include 24 drow (nine females), 9 dwarves, 27 humans (12 females), and 4 halflings.

Daily activities in the temple include food-growing, temple building chores, patrolling the temple caverns and passages, and practicing diplomacy beyond the immediate temple area.

The Chosen of Eilistraee work tirelessly to further the Lady's aims toward the peaceful coexistence of drow with other races of the Realms and to fulfill her commandments about preventing the return of Ghaunadaur.

Centuries ago, Eilistraee appeared to Qilue Veladorn and commanded the young dark elf and her playmates from part of the now-vanished drow settlement of Buiyrandyn-a small, poor gathering of drow families too small to be considered a city-to take up the singing swords provided by the Dark Maiden and destroy the Pit of Ghaunadaur. The Pit was a mile-deep shaft whose upper terminus opened into the third level of Halasters Halls. After a great battle that resulted in the destruction of an avatar of the Elder Eye as well as the most of its slithering, oozing, and creeping worshipers, the Pit was filled with rubble and the caverns around its opening collapsed. (The rubble-filled Pit of Ghaunadaur is located in the area north of Skull-port and west of Eilistraee's Promenade. The only remaining access to the rubble-filled Pit is via a long, twisting staircase capped by Eilistraee's Mound.) Qilue and the rest of the Chosen of Eilistraee then took up responsibility for patrolling the region in armed, vigilant tours mockingly referred to as promenades by other inhabitants of the area.

In the years since their great victory, the number of battles the Dark Ladies have been forced to fight-particularly with the minions of Ghaunadaur-has continued to increase. After centuries of conflict, the Chosen began construction on a temple complex where they could receive the guidance and aid of their goddess late in the Year of the Harp (1355 DR). Although construction continues, the temple was largely completed and habitable by the end of the Year of the Prince (1357 DR). Since that time, the Chosen of Eilistraee have continued to patrol the surrounding tunnels of Halaster's Halls, but with the added security of a fortified redoubt to which they can retreat when prrudent. In the spring of the Year of Maidends (1361 DR), the Dark Maidens participated in a daring raid of a slave ship berthed in Skullport that resulted in the death of the deep dragon Pharx and the destruction of the Dragon’s Horde consortium, a merchant band led by a priest of Vhaeraun. Several years later in the Year of the Banner (1368), the Promenade came under attack by Ghau-nadaur's cultists who led a full-scale assault on the temple that lasted for several months before the Elder Eye's followers were driven off.

Above ground temples of Eilistraee are known to exist in the Moonwood north of the village of Quaervarr and at the northern end of the Velarwood in Harrowdale. The Mouth of Song, as the former temple is known, is located in a cavemouth beneath a treeless hill-atop which the dark elven priests and a few halfelven and elven faithful from Silverymoon dance in a great ring on moonlit nights-a day's travel north of Quaervarr. The Shadowtop Glade, as the latter temple is known, is located in a series of caves that line both sides of a steep-sided overgrown gully dominated by a grove of towering shadowtop trees. Dark elven priests of the temple armed with enchanted silver swords and moon-worshiping lycanthropes from the nearby Howling Hill join together to conduct sacred hunts to Eilistraee and Selune when the moon is full. Smaller shrines of the Dark Maiden have been spotted in the Misty Forest, the High Forest (where the Dark Ladies are led by Ysolde Veladorn, daughter of Qilue), the Forest of Shadows, the Lake Sember region, the Grey Forest, the Forest of Lethyr, the Yuirwood, and the Chondalwood. Hidden temples of Eilistraee may exist in the hearts of such forests as well. Temples of the Dark Maiden are conspicuously absent on Evermeet, the Green Isle, despite the recent rapprochement engendered by the dark elven ambassador, Lady Karsel'lyn Lylyl-Lytherraias.

Affiliated Orders: The Darksong Knights are an elite order of Eilistraeen crusaders active of late in South beneath the lands of ancient Ilythiir. Composed entirely of crusaders and warrior/ priests, each members of this order is expected to devote her life to the furthering of the Dark Maiden's ethos, and in particular, the destruction of the Abyss-spawned yochlol, also known as the handmaidens of Lolth.

Priestly Vestments: Priests of Eilistraee wear their hair long, and dress practically for whatever they are currently doing. For rituals, they wear as little as possible. Otherwise, they tend to wear soft leathers for hunting, aprons while cooking, and-when battle is expected-armor. When relaxing, they favor silvery, diaphanous gowns. The holy symbol of the faith is a silver sword pendant the length of a Dark Lady's hand. Such symbols are typically worn as pins or hung around the neck on a slender silver or mithral chain.

Adventuring Garb: Eilistraee's clergy must garb themselves in either magical armour or armour of drow make. Whenever possible, priests of the Dark Maiden must use swords in battle. If no swords are at hand but other bladed weapons are available, they must be used in preference to other weapons. Long bows and silver-tipped arrows are also commonly employed as secondary weapons.

View user profile

Sponsored content


Back to top  Message [Page 1 of 1]

Similar topics

-

» Pantheon Embassy

Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum