Saturday, September 23, 2006

Aspects of Lolth shouldn't look like a drider!

This is a longstanding gripe of mine. Nobody has released a good figure of Lolth, ever, to my knowledge. What constitutes good? Something reasonably accurate to the descriptions of her in the original 1st edition products.

Lolth appears as a drow of unparalleled beauty and cruelty, as a giant black widow with the head and face of a drow, and as a giant black widow spider without human head. The cover art of the old Demonweb Pits modules show the drow head on top of spider eyes, which is icky. I don't really want that, either.

At any rate, my beef with current depictions of her is that she looks like a drider. For example, the cover art of Queen of the Demonweb Pits by Paul Kid. Ick again.

The drider is a transformed drow who has displeased Lolth and fallen out of her favor. There can be no greater display of favor of a god than to transform something into their own image. Hence, it is impossible for me to concieve of these drider-like Lolth's as anything approaching her actual avatar, because only that which is favored by her would look like her.

If someone can give me an explanation why my line of reasoning is faulty, I'd appreciate it...but not as much as I'd appreciate having someone do an actual, accurate Lolth...especially if it was a boxed set with all three of her forms.

Until then I'll have to make due with the Ral Partha giant black widow with a Grenadier Frost Giantess head I glued to it. It isn't perfect, but it is better than one of these female drider versions.

Actually, what I'll probably do since the Ral Partha giant black widow body is disproportionally small compared to the head, is break the head off and glue the head directly to the body of the 03085 : Labith, Female Spider Centaur by Reaper Miniatures (their own contribution to the non-Lolthy Loths).

I think that will hold me over until someone does an actual Lolth to my satisfaction. I'll post my version when finished.

The old rule books don't draw a distinction in appearance between drider wizards and priests, and don't mention warriors at all. This from the Monstrous Compendium:

All driders are able to cast the spells that normal drow can use once per day. Driders also retain the magical or clerical abilities they possessed before their weird transformation. A majority of driders (60%) were priests of 6th or 7th level before they were changed. (Remember that drow priests, and therefore driders that were priests, can also use clairvoyance, detect lie, suggestion, and dispel magic once per day.) All other driders were once mages of 6th, 7th, or 8th level.

And yet, nearly every drider picture and miniature has them decked out like warriors and not priests or wizards. And there are no drow priests, only priestesses. Well, it just isn't tidy.

They also seem to indicate that secondary sex traits disappear during the tranformation to drider, leaving all driders sexless and the only possible avenue for more driders is the more drow failing Lolth's test. You can get more information on driders from the Monster Manual II, page 60, the Monstrous Compendium, Volume 2 under Elf, Drow. There is also a section in the Drow of the Underdark, pp. 9-12. There is also a good article on driders in the January 1988 issue of Dragon Magazine, Entering the Drider's Web: What happens after a drow fails Lolth's test. None of these sources give any indication that driders look like Lolth, that she would like looking like a drider, or that driders have any secondary sex characteristics.

But, with 3rd Edition, we get driders with boobs and Lolth with a torso and two arms (and, yes, boobs) everywhere drow items are sold. Even untidier. Something had to be done, and I'm the only OC/ADHD guy I know who can do it to my satisfaction.

Because I can't not buy the miniatures, and if I have them, I have to use them somehow in my campaign...here is my break down of drider kind:

First of all, driders now retain the same secondary sex characteristics they had as drow, however these creatures are sterile and have no interest in copulation. As it says in Drow of the Underdark, "Lolth wants their existence to be a series of torments, not to create a race of enemies for the drow."
The old, original drider miniatures by Grenadier are the standard drider. These are promising drow male warriors who failed the test. Any drider figure which appears to be male and carries a weapon is this type of drider.

I think this is a RAFM miniature, possibly from the Cthulhu line, but could be Ral Partha. At any rate, it is clearly a drider-ish creature without boobs or weapons, so I am using it as the result of a drow male wizard who failed the test of Lolth. I call these "Draeders" in my world. Eventually I'll post a complete description of the drader here, but now is not the time.

Lastly, the driders with boobs.

This is that Reaper Mini I mentioned earlier, which is a nice female drider. All female driders in my world become "Drauders." Now, there is only one untidy little detail left, which NONE of the rule books address.

Drow priestesses are granted their spell casting ability by Lolth. If these priestesses have been turned into driders by failing Lolth's test and falling out of her favor, why is she still granting them spells? I am not satisfied with the answer that she does it because she is chaotic. That doesn't wash.

The Spider Queen loves chaos, yes, but as one of the cruelest dieties in the pantheon, I think she loves punishments even more.

I haven't decided yet who might be granting their clerical spells, but I am convinced it is not Lolth herself. I am currently leaning toward driders of all three types in my world being under the (grudging) protection and care of Lolth's son, Vhaeraun. And though he hates the priestesses of his mother, he delights in forcing these fallen priestesses to worship him instead of her, which they do because he is the only power which will accept their worship and grant themm their spells. (You can find more information on Vhaeraun by scrying through Google)

Some of these female driders, or Drauders, do refuse to worship him and give up the use of their clerical abilities entirely, opting instead to learning the warrior's art. They are not particularly good at it, having had no prior training and being new to their drider forms, and so do not tend to last very long in the perilous Underdark.

And that, my dears, is Shandar's Monstrology lesson for the day. I think this is logical attempt to deal with the inconsistencies created by WOTC 3rd edition art (which, admittedly, builds on the inconsistencies of TSR sourceworks). A kind of "unified theory of the drider" if you will.

It works for me, anyway, and if it works for you, feel free to use it. If you have an argument against this line of thinking, please leave me a comment. I'd like to consider it, but better be stronger than just "third edition is better, so just do that you old fogey."

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2 Comments:

Blogger Ilia said...

Lloth's form itself is a punishment, a curse bestowed upon her by the rest of the Elvish pantheon for her betrayal in Corellon Larethian's battle against Gruumsh. For her ambition and treachery, she was punished with the form of the spider with the face of a dark elf (not the torso and arms though, so it isn't be exactly like a drider). Lloth's curse on those who fail her is a reflection of the curse placed upon her, and not a sign of favor. The Driders, even though they are cursed by Llolth, still worship her and fear her. Although not part of the official priesthood of Llolth, it can safely be assumed that they still recieve spells from her so as to cause suffering to mortals and to further test future drow.

8:41 PM  
Blogger darazan said...

Strangely, reading the Monster Manual, while it shows a picture of Lolth with spider body and drow head, it does not actually list this as one of her forms. It only lists Giant Spider and Female Drow as the forms she can change into (aside from her shapeshift ability). Perhaps the Lolth pictured is, instead, a representation of the duality of her nature, rather than a separate form. The same can really be said of "drider Lloths." Lloth's form itself being a punishment has only come from Wizards of the Coast and is, in no way, the origins of Lloth as described in AD&D.

6:24 PM  

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