Unfriendly Neighborhood Spider Queen
The Queen of Spiders, Queen of the Demonweb Pits, the Dark Mother, the Mother of Lusts, the Lady of Chaos, the Weaver, the Weaver of destiny, and lest we forget what is quite possibly Lolth’s most apt title, Spider bitch. Lolth goes by many names and has been around for many editions, but her campaign to conquer the underdark has remained constant. Lolth is one of D&D’s most prevalent big bads and you’ll be sure to run into her followers sooner or later while adventuring in Toril. Is it possible to navigate the underdark and defeat the nefarious Queen of Spiders and her followers? Will a really big rolled up newspaper work? Grab a can of bug spray and an ever-burning torch as we plumb the depths and go through everything you need to know.
A Brief History of Lolth
Lolth is more or less the reason that the drow are the way they are. The spider queen features prominently in dark elven culture and her insatiable need for sacrifices fuels the drow conquest and enslavement of others. Lolth demands full and unwavering control over the drow, and will raze entire dark elf cities to quell any rebellion against her.
She wasn’t always like this though. Originally Lolth was Araushnee, goddess of the dark elves, artistry, destiny, and consort of Corellon Larethian, the patron creator of all elves. At some point, she craved more power and plotted against Corellon. There are entire books devoted to the resulting battles and betrayals, but the short story is that Araushnee lost, was demonized, and exiled into the darkness.
The phrase “petty and spiteful” sums up a lot of the history that followed. Araushnee took the new name Lolth and spent thousands of years trying to get back at her former lover by manipulating the dark elves and waging war on every other sort of elf and anything else that got in her way. She’s had varying degrees of success in this, caused some massive upheavals, a few interplanar wars, but has typically been defeated at the last second by some heroic do-goodery.
She has her own realm called “the Demonweb Pits” that she separated from the abyss. A few kids that she encourages to try and fail to overthrow her, and a LOT of long-standing grudges.
Lolth Worshipers and Culture
The majority of drow worship Lolth to some degree, though other deities from “The Dark Seldarine” are constantly jostling for more power and followers, usually just to be overcome by Lolth again. Lolth keeps her worshippers tightly in line by constantly weeding out “the weak” through ritual sacrifice and combat, though it’s really just a way to get rid of the disloyal.
Almost all clerics to Lolth are female, and the fiercely matriarchal culture of the drow goes together with Lolth’s preferential treatment of female followers. Lolth priestesses make blood sacrifices to appease their queen and beg for the power to destroy their rivals. Every aspect of Lolth worship is dictated by extreme subservience to their queen and any drow above them in the strict ordered hierarchy.
Lolth worship requires a steady supply of wealth and slaves to sacrifice, which makes Lolth cults extremely dangerous. Drow cities deep within the underdark are often the final destination for captives stolen from worlds away. Or smaller hidden cults to the Spider Queen are often the reason for sudden disappearances.
To start with, Lolth is a goddess, sometimes listed as a lesser or intermediate deity, but a deity all the same. Unless your campaign is taking you down some very crazy routes, you’ll never be in a situation where you’ll have to fight Lolth directly, instead you’ll be battling against her followers. We have several lower level assassins and cultists, but the only thing that could even come close to representing the spider queen would be the drow matron mother. The drow matron is an extremely powerful enemy and would perfectly represent either the BBEG Lolth cult leader at the end of a campaign, or potentially as a weakened form of Lolth herself.
Drow Matron Mother
Medium humanoid (elf), neutral evil
Armor Class 17 (half plate)
Hit Points 262 (35d8 + 105)
Speed 30 ft.
STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
12 (+1) 18 (+4) 16 (+3) 17 (+3)21 (+5)22 (+6)
Saving Throws Con +9, Wis +11, Cha +12
Skills Insight +11, Perception +11, Religion +9, Stealth +10
Condition Immunities Charmed, Frightened, Poisoned
Senses darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 21
Languages Elvish, Undercommon
Challenge 20 (25,000 XP)
Fey Ancestry. The drow has advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put the drow to sleep.
Innate Spellcasting. The drow’s innate spellcasting ability is Charisma (spell save DC 20). She can innately cast the following spells, requiring no components:
At will: dancing lights, detect magic
1/day each: clairvoyance, darkness, detect thoughts, dispel magic, faerie fire, levitate (self only), suggestion
Lolth’s Fickle Favor. As a bonus action, the matron can bestow the Spider Queen’s blessing on one ally she can see within 30 feet of her. The ally takes 7 (2d6) psychic damage but has advantage on the next attack roll it makes until the end of its next turn.
Magic Resistance. The drow has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.
Spellcasting. The drow is a 20th-level spellcaster. Her spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 19, +11 to hit with spell attacks). The drow has the following cleric spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will): guidance, mending, resistance, sacred flame, thaumaturgy
1st level (4 slots): bane, command, cure wounds, guiding bolt
2nd level (3 slots): hold person, silence, spiritual weapon
3rd level (3 slots): bestow curse, clairvoyance, dispel magic, spirit guardians
4th level (3 slots): banishment, death ward, freedom of movement, guardian of faith
5th level (3 slots): contagion, flame strike, geas, mass cure wounds
6th level (2 slots): blade barrier, harm
7th level (2 slots): divine word, plane shift
8th level (1 slot): holy aura
9th level (1 slot): gate
Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the drow has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
Multiattack. The matron mother makes two demon staff attacks or three tentacle rod attacks.
Demon Staff. Melee Weapon Attack: +10 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage, or 8 (1d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage if used with two hands, plus 14 (4d6) psychic damage. In addition, the target must succeed on a DC 19 Wisdom saving throw or become frightened of the drow for 1 minute. The frightened target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Tentacle Rod. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d6) bludgeoning damage. If the target is hit three times by the rod on one turn, the target must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or suffer the following effects for 1 minute: the target’s speed is halved, it has disadvantage on Dexterity saving throws, and it can’t use reactions. Moreover, on each of its turns, it can take either an action or a bonus action, but not both. At the end of each of its turns, it can repeat the saving throw, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Summon Servant (1/Day). The drow magically summons a retriever or a yochlol. The summoned creature appears in an unoccupied space within 60 feet of its summoner, acts as an ally of its summoner, and can’t summon other demons. It remains for 10 minutes, until it or its summoner dies, or until its summoner dismisses it as an action.
The drow can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The drow regains spent legendary actions at the start of her turn.
Demon Staff. The drow makes one attack with her demon staff.
Compel Demon (Costs 2 Actions). An allied demon within 30 feet of the drow uses its reaction to make one attack against a target of the drow’s choice that she can see.
Cast a Spell (Costs 1–3 Actions). The drow expends a spell slot to cast a 1st-, 2nd-, or 3rd-level spell that she has prepared. Doing so costs 1 legendary action per level of the spell.
Using Lolth as a DM
As previously stated, Lolth is a deity and shouldn’t really be on the old combat roster, her minions however are practically on par with goblins and orcs when it comes to stereotypical baddies.
There’s not a lot of opportunity for moral ambiguity here, Lolth worshippers are evil and using them as the villains in any encounter is a strong signal that the players should go all out and fight. That said, the spider queen’s propensity for lies, subterfuge, and manipulation gives you a ton of excellent opportunities to play around with “hidden big bads”.
Boy, that lady who sent the players on their quest out into the woods sure seemed nice, it’d be a shame if she was actually a spider cultist sending them into an ambush… When setting up Lolth or her underlings as the antagonists in your story, try to do so subtly. Try to think of Lolth as a puppet master, leading the players to their doom. Go for “aha!” and “we never should have trusted you” moments.
As for actual combat, drow statistics (and spiders for that matter) exist across all tiers of play, but I find fighting Lolth cultists fits best towards the end of tier 1 and into tier 2. However, defeating a matron mother before she performs some horrible act to further Lolth’s plans can be an epic ending for a tier 4 adventure.
As a goddess, you shouldn’t be fighting Lolth directly but will likely have to deal with her followers. Followers of Lolth can take many forms but expect at least some drow trickery. Poisons and sleep spells are common calling cards, as are “trusted NPCs” turning out to be backstabbers.
Once you’re aware that Lolth cultists are coming after you, be especially wary of NPCs and your long rests. Lolth cultists can be very patient and ambushing the party while they sleep is right in their wheelhouse. Rest in shifts, even while in taverns and other “safe” resting places. You never know which friendly innkeeper or other “innocent” NPC is a Lolth cultist in disguise.
While not universally used, most drow (and therefore Lolth cultists) like using poisons.
If you’re unable to reliably end a poisoned condition magically, consider buying a supply of antitoxins. They’re typically pretty cheap, available in most general stores and apothecaries, and can help you resist the titular “drow poison” that so commonly coats their weaponry.
Finally, all drow and a good chunk of the other things you’re likely to fight alongside them have the sunlight sensitivity rule, which makes them significantly less effective in the daylight. If you so happen to be a higher level spellcaster I recommend trying out the dawn, sunbeam, or sunburst spells which will absolutely tear through most Lolth cultists. Strangely enough the daylight spell doesn’t work in this way though without DM approval, as it bizarrely doesn’t count as daylight as the spell is written.
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Last updated: January 27, 2019
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