I’ve been thinking about the relationship between Lolth and the drow. While it has become pretty much accepted across the board that the drow are invariably worshipers of the spider-demon Lolth, I think what’s often forgotten is that it wasn’t always so. If we look back at the Giants/Drow adventures (G1-D3), we see that there are renegade houses within the drow city of Erelhei-Cinlu that worship the Elder Elemental God. So it’s not like they can’t worship other beings.
And that got me thinking; why do we automatically assume that all “normal” drow worship Lolth?
Now, there were a number of drow deities other than Lolth that came out in the 2nd Edition era, especially in the Monstrous Mythology book (which I know gets a lot of heat, but I really like it). But they’re mostly variations on a theme, and Lolth is always seen as the chief of the pantheon, such as it is. Certainly that’s the norm in Erelhei-Cinlu (and in Menzoberranzan in the Forgotten Realms), but I think it would make the drow a lot more interesting if they followed other demon lords.
I actually wrote up some very interesting spells and such for those who worship demons in one of my Darker Paths books – the Demonolater. But while that’s fine for clerics, I think it would be really cool to base a whole drow culture around another demon lord. Gygax mentions Graz’zt (or as I have to call him, Obsidiax) in the later Gord the Rogue books as a particular patron of drow, thanks to his black skin, and Leda, the clone of Eclavdra, serves him for several years. But let’s try something different. How about Demogorgon (aka Demoniarch)?
I can imagine a city of Demogorgon-worshiping drow, whose society is based not on spiders but on lizards, snakes, and apes, befitting their master’s attributes.
First, the whole would be based on the number two, derived from their master’s two heads. Wherever possible there would be two towers, two leaders, etc. Snakes and lizards of all sort would roam the streets at will, safe in their position as sacred animals, taking prey wherever they are able. To slay such a creature would be death, and even resistance to its attack would be so frowned upon that the peasantry would be terrified of doing so, lest they invite the demon-king’s wrath. Baboons, mandrills, and the like would roam the streets, and it would be worth inventing several of demonic aspect to haunt the alleys as well. Could there even be ape-drow hybrids stalking the dark recesses of such a city? And here’s an interesting question – is the gynarchy of drow society innate to the drow, or an outgrowth of their worship of the demon queen?
At first glance, one could be forgiven for saying that driders would be unknown in such a place, given their tight connection to both spiders and Lolth, but on consideration, it might make sense for them to be there. Remember that the driders are the ones who failed Lolth’s test, and were then cursed to their half-spider existence. It might make sense for such failures, burning with resentment, to offer their services to some rival.
I’m a big fan of making things more complex, in order to make them more interesting. Severing the iron-clad linkage between the drow and Lolth might be such a complication. Of course, it also opens up the opposite idea, that non-drow would worship Lolth as well. Imagine a human realm organized like a classic drow society. Could there be humiders stalking its nether reaches?