Drow & Lloth - A Retelling of these Poisonous People

This blog post is a reimagining of both Drow and a different lens then "gods are people too." This draws on religious symbology similar to the Nahua (Aztec Empire), where gods are ideas and symbols to be worn, channeled, and used.

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The Nature of Divinity

This post cannot continue without a quick meditation on how I see divinity.

The divine, ie gods, angels, and their various servants and miracles, are not single-bodied entities. A god is unlike a creature; they do not have one form, one face, one name, nor one identity. To believe that a god has a stable form is the same as believing that water is water and ice is ice and that there is no overlap. In truth, there is nothing but overlap.

Let us ground this idea a bit more. When praying, you are not praying to a distant - albeit powerful - entity in another dimension. Instead you are praying to a flowing Power that manifests as you need it to manifest. This is what a miracle is - a manifestation of that Power. Thus, if someone were to see a god walking the world on two feat, what they are seeing is a miracle, no different than seeing someone brought back from the dead or water turned to wine.

This flowing Power has a personality. Just as the Power is too great to be stuck in one form, so too is the personality too mercurial to be defined as one thing. In this way, a divinity can display many different traits and identities despite being the same thing. Most pantheons are in fact a single Power interpreted through a suite of different perspectives. Religions based around a single Power are no different in reality, despite their seeming desire to be seen as one instead of many.

In a desperate bid to weaken divinity some have stated that worship is their lifeblood. This is untrue. A divinity has wants and it has limitations. Though it it incredibly powerful, these limitations are unique to it as opposed to creatures such as ourselves. So then, why is worship seen as a fuel for divinity? Worship is the act of communing and making Power manifest. In other words, it is the only way the Power can communicate with the world. So, if more people worship and pray, there is more communication, thus more miracles, thus the divinity is in a better position to get what it wants.

Worship and prayer need not be limited to only verbal orisons. Rituals and symbols are just as good. Thus, any religion worth its salt is filled with both in order to maximize the manifestation of miracles. These rituals and symbols, of course, must be relevant to the divinity in question. And though some symbols may be shared between divinities, it is wise not to try and mix and match. Heresy is punished wrathfully by the Powers that be.

Rose Nebula
I guess if you could "see" a divinity's true form, it might be something like this?

The Origins of Lloth

Drow are old and ancient and spiteful beyond comparison. It is ingrained in their flesh and blood, in the very heat of their bodies - that is, their souls. And living as they do buried in the bedrock of the world, where neither sun nor star nor moon can see, surrounded in the veins of the earth with things terrible and undeniable, things that gnaw at the world's roots like worms in the rotten tree, they found themselves horribly alone . And to be alone, with just their magics and their spite to protect them, they were prey to any and all else.

This is how Lloth found the drow: alone and desperate and dying faster and faster.

She came to them as a miracle. Their infravision saw a great heat surround them and that heat turned into spiders infinite and these spiders joined to form the woman known as Lloth. There She banished their predators and hollowed them a cave to call home. She protected that cave with the daemons that served Her, and with knowledge older than any living creature she helped the drow fashion a city deep in the veins of the earth.

But for one thing did Lloth ask and this She wanted above all else: food. The first sacrifices were thus of beautiful drow women and then rebellious drow men and then of the many predators that still harried the drow, even in their new utopia. This led itself to a culture symbolic of Lloth; a culture of trickery and lies and slavery and ritual sacrifice. From their Spider Queen they learned to weave webs of enmity and bloodlust and these webs have not stopped catching the doomed since their very first making.

Eons passed. The drow are long lived, you see. And communication with Lloth grew ever more detailed. Thus, the religion has taken on the form it has today. 

Image result for lolth drow
A miracle-manifestation of Lloth.

A Quick Summary of Lloth Worship

Below is a quick summary of Lloth Worship's core ideas. Though the drow have no name for this religion (for it is interwoven with their identity now, and thus to be a believer is to be drow) you can refer to it in your games as "Web Worship," "Spider Heresies," "Ink Belief," "Llothism," or "Drow Major."

The Mother is Matron & Heart. Lloth's primary identity is as a mother, matron, and queen. Thus, drow women exist in a society that puts value on them above that of males. It is believed that the femininity of a drow empowers them with a cunning mind, a quickness to learning, and an ability to more effectively manifest any of Lloth's many miracles. A drow woman may have many mates, is seen as virtuous if she has many children, and is considered powerful if she has destroyed rivals and subsumed their own legacies. Drow men who are born intersex, transsexual, or non-binary occupy a similar but different status. These individuals are seen to live in the same holy fringe as Lloth herself. Often times this leads to them becoming oracles and soothsayers, aids and confidants, and other similar positions of shadow-power.

Heat & Touch are Holy Language. Drow are famed for their highly detailed infravision, which allows them to see even minute details in the Veins of the Earth. Compounding this is their highly developed touch. A drow can know a person by their footsteps, and distinguish materials by simple touch. This has become interwoven with the idea of the spider's web, which in turn has lent itself to a philosophy of omniscience and omnipresence. Drow sacred text, which take the form of different gems and stones being heated in different ways, are worn by drow as symbols that communicate their feelings, their loyalties, their thoughts, and their believes. Amethyst earrings heated by spell to room temperature is a warning that the wearer will curse any who cross them, whilst quartz amulets drastically cooled are a signal that the wearer seeks violence, war, or bloodshed. As drow can percieve these signs from some distance and sometimes even through walls, it has led to a society who debates not through speech but through symbol. Likewise, heatless creatures, such as the dead, are seen by drow as being unknowable and dangerous. Creatures that exude great heat - but not enough to be fully inflamed, as that is blinding - are considered perfect sacrifices to Lloth and the matrons. Drow skin, with its cool colors reflecting little heat, has also led to a stratum of stereotypes. Darker skinned drow are seen to be chosen by Lloth herself to bring food and virtue to the drow, while drow with violet or grey skin are thought to be bastions of vitality perfect for miracle-work and self-sacrifice.

All Life is a Web Spread Far. The hunt for food is never ending, and thus the trickery needed to capture it must be the same. From the moment a drow is born they are given true names and false names. They are taught lies and then have their worldviews shattered to better show them what they must do to others. They are put into situations where they must make quick decisions about the lives of others and that if these decisions do not benefit the drow then they must suffer the consequences. This has created a culture of silver-tongued, quick-witted, and overtly roguish people. Their communications are encoded and their minds are trained to concoct schemes interwoven with other, deeper, greater schemes. It is virtuous to create conspiracies to sabotage other drow houses. It is a sign of great strength to wage a war of disinformation and to win. And it is an act of self-actualization, of true and utter drowness, of complete euphoria to reveal to a victim the drow's trickery at the moment of the victim's destruction. To not do so is a slight; it says to the victim, you are so inconsequential that you need not know of this moment. Were it not for such an act being capable of materializing miracles, it is doubtful such a conniving, pompous people could thrive as they do. But there is another layer to this too. The web is connected. All who are on it respect all others who are on it. If a plan fails, then it means many more have failed too. In this way, drow will help each other with their conspiracies, for to do so is to both help themselves and the drow as a whole.

All is Food. Feeding Lloth is a holy act. She is a divinity with a deep and great appetite, however, and one that is not easily slated. Thus, all things must be seen as food in order to appease her (and the matrons who rule in her name). Such a viewpoint has led to the drow seeing all living things, including each other, as a potential sacrifice to keep their people alive. In turn this has enabled them to commit great atrocities. When one no longer sees another as something sacred, special, and worth preserving, they are quick and absolute in their destruction of it. All the tales of the horrific things drow have done owe their truth to this one universal belief: all is food, and food must be eaten. Do not expect mercy from a drow because of this. Do not try and conceive of lengths they cannot go to. If it means attaining sacrifices and slaves, the drow will sin blacker sins then any ever before witnessed.

Wearing Symbols is Deific. To wear the symbols of Lloth is to become Lloth. Matrons and other religious leaders are thus treated as if Lloth herself is communicating to the drow. Generals, slave masters, and other important drow likewise adorn themselves in these symbols, and thus too are Lloth's physical manifestations. Below, a list of possible worn symbols:
  1. Manifesting two additional pairs of arm, for four total limbs.
  2. Embedding six gemstones into the forehead and face, representing the eight eye's of the spider.
  3. Keeping venomous spider pets underneath one's tongue.
  4. Adorning one's limbs in dangling glass and jewels, mirroring captured prey wrapped in cocoons.
  5. Wearing the shrunken heads of sacrifices offered to Lloth.
  6. Flowing garments of spider silk.
  7. Fungal incenses and perfumes with a scent similar to blood mixed with roses.
  8. Curved daggers, similar to a spider's fangs, hanging from the neck and shoulders.
Drow Miracles are Predatory & Spiteful. A drow survives because others do not. That is the way of the Veins of the Earth, where life cannibalizes life, uncaring of how precious or rare it may be. Thus, all drow miracles are then predatory and fueled entirely by spite. The more a drow hates a victim, the more it feels wronged by it, the blacker the thirst for vengeance in their mind the more potent, the more poignant the miracle that they manifest. In this way, there is little difference between a drow miracle and a drow curse. Below in the section detailing Drow Predations & Spites, you can find examples of these miracles. Note that a drow prayer will never ask for forgiveness, mercy, or compassion. Instead prayers will ask for opportunity, advantage, and insight.

In the Greater Cosmos, Naught But Danger. Lloth has taught the drow paranoia. In her scriptures, the entire cosmos is a place of endless danger, where all things will wrong the drow, all things will hurt the drow, and all things will destroy the drow - all to simply be above something else. Locked underground in the Veins of the Earth whilst filled with spite endless it is hard to shake such a primordially violent belief. Their home, Menzoberranzan, is the only haven in all the universe where drow are free to live unshackled by the hatred of other peoples. Though this is untrue, such a xenophobic mindset has only whet the blades of drow imperialists. They destroy other cultures they find, enslave and sacrifice what they can, and leave peoples alive only so that they may continue to provide them tribute. 

Rebirth For All Drow, Always and Forever. A drow that follows Lloth (for there are other drow, on the surface, who worship the moon and have secret afterlives on the dark side of that celestial traitor) will be reborn by Lloth after their death. All drow souls are connected to her through a spiritual web; when born, a blood sacrifice is done, where in some of Lloth's daemonic essence infests the drow. This is why drow are so accepting of assassination amongst each other, and of drow-sacrifice to Lloth. Every soul will be reborn, and so long as she exists, nestled in Menzoberranzan's shrines and idols, in her people's symbols and prayers, the drow will never go extinct, their predations never ended.

Lolth is a fictional goddess in the Dungeons and Dragons fantasy role-playing game. Lolth (Lloth in the drow dialect), the Demon Queen of Spiders, is the chief goddess of drow elves. She is also known as the Spider Queen and the Queen of the Demonweb Pits
A matron of Lloth who embodies all of Her divine poison.

The Eighty-Eight Prisms

The Eighty-Eight prisms is the name of the Lloth holy text, created by the first generation of drow to serve Her.

As the name implies, these are eighty-eight gemstones weighing roughly 10,000 pounds each. The prisms are cut with a near impossible level of detail, and are heated to turn each one into another chapter of the overall holy text that comprises the core of Lloth's worship. From a young age do Drow spend countless hours touching and meditating around the Eighty-Eight Prisms, divining the secrets of their heritage, their afterlife, and their core belief. Likewise, at the heart of each prism is another daemon; a servitor of Lloth who whispers into the ears of entranced drow who come here to worship or learn. These daemons are called the Psalms.

While the full contents will not be disclosed here, every drow is taught to recite different prisms by heart depending on their trade. Matrons are forced to learn the entirety of the text by heart in order to gain access to the High Miracles (7th level +). Other drow carry small gemstones embalmed with choice bits of information that they can draw from with but the barest brush of a finger.

This technology has revolutionized to all forms of drow communication. Every home carries prisms inside of it encoded with different information. Essentially, these prisms are the books of drow society, containing stories, tales, facts, and secrets. And inside each personal prism is another daemon, allowing Lloth to know all that her people know, forever more.

A saboteur turned oracle late in their spiteful life.

An Assortment of Angels

Lloth is an old divinity. During the course of her existence she has birthed many a great creature to serve her, and these great creatures remain now, her angels, her daemons. Their forms are crafted from the molten earth below the Veins of the Earth and their souls are but a sliver of Lloth's own. Occasionally truly virtuous drow are ascended too, joining her pantheon of daemon-angels.

Their core form is a melted rush of eight-eyed flesh. It boils and roils about, tentacled, watching, like candles made of meat forever burning an invisible flame. When given purpose they take a form.
  • The Sabouteuth look just as drow do, though without faces. They speak through whispered telepathy and weave webs between their fingers that burn with heat. A Sabouteuth will capture whatever it is Lloth wants captured - usually a sacrifice of some sort - wrap in her divine web, and spirit off to the demon pits at the center of Menzoberranzan. They have 1 HP, a thac0 of 9 (or an AC of 10), and no method of attacking. Sabouteuth move through shadow and stone as if it were open space.
  • Eggsacks are just as they sound. They appear mysteriously inside of corpses or in hidden places and hatch. Each spiderling carries a message and they will swarm a drow to tell them some desire belonging to Lloth. Then, they will fade into green vapor and then into nothing, only the bitter smell of rot left behind.
  • Drider's are half-drow (who are faceless) half-spider monstrosities. Each is fashioned from the heat-soul of a heretical drow and the daemon-angels that Lloth has spawned. They appear only to destroy heretics, to fight off predators too great for normal drow, and to enforce her will upon the rebellious and foolish. A drider has no face and does not need to breathe. They have 6d6 HP, a thac0 of 2 (or an AC of 18), and attack with spear-sharp legs (1d8 * 8) or a greatsword fashioned from the bones of their once-drow lower half (2d6).
  • Messiah Daemon are rare, only called upon when the drow beseech Lloth to eradicate some great foe. A daemon will manifest and sleep with a matron, impregnating her with itself. The birth is a six-armed, white-furred monstrosity that grows to an abominatable eight feet in height within eight hours of time. Loyal only to its matron mother (and to Lloth), the Messiah Daemon will speak only the Eighty-Eight Prisms and move to violence against any who oppose its creator(s). A Messiah Daemon has 10d10 HP, a thac0 of 0 (or an AC of 20), and attacks with all six arms in an attempt to rip its victim apart (each hand dealing 1d10), or utilize its breath weapon: a silver, heatless fog that fills a target's stomach with dozens of eggsacks that hatch, swarming the victim's innards with spiders.
A Sabouteuth carrying a sacrificed artifact back to Lloth.

Hierarchy of Drow

It took generations for a hierarchy to form. As the drow expanded, and as their power required more structure to be properly used, a hierarchy formed amongst them. This system of class-power is stratified but it is not impossible to move up and down the ranks.

  1. Matron Marqueeses  - The eight matrons who are either oldest, most pious, or most powerful of the many matrons. Their council speaks as one, and speaks as Lloth.
  2. Messiah Mothers - The various matrons who have birthed Messiah Daemons. They cannot be commanded by any save the Mother Matrons, but each has their own mission which they must attend to with their spawn.
  3. Matron  - The title given to the female head of house. A house consists of eight drow families united by either blood or oath.
  4. Oracles & Diviners - Non-binary and MtF drow more often than not become oracles, soothsayers, and similar such figures.
  5. Silk Countesses - The formal title of drow who are both masterful hunters and faithful religious acolytes. 
  6. Daughters - The name for the standard acolyte of Lloth. Daughters lead rituals for other drow, and are the go-to liason between divinity and drow.
  7. Cocoon Marquis - Male drow who hunt, fight, and enslave for Lloth. The Cocoon Marquis are males who, unlike the others, have been blessed by Lloth with authority over others and some measure of miracle.
  8. Whispering Brood - Young drow who are slowly being initiated into the secrets of Lloth attend to the older daughters and various other members of the hierarchy.
Beyond this, drow positions are based on role and duty, and not so much their religious connotations. 
A Silk Countess - the blend between warrior and holy woman.

Drow Predations & Spites: Miracles of Lloth

If you play a cleric, than these miracles are for you.

At 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th levels, instead of learning a spell, you can instead learn a miracle. Consider these more powerful than normal spells, themed to your divinity of choice, and gated by more than just spell slots. These miracles are level gated; higher level characters who sacrifice more wealth and power to Lloth are rewarded with one of her many secrets. A miracle may be used by rolling 1d8. Add to the roll a +1 modifier if any of the following conditions are met beforehand:
  • 1,000 gp worth of wealth, or creatures totaling 20 HP, were sacrificed to Lloth less than an hour beforehand.
  • The would-be victim of the miracle has defaced a holy object or is a heretic in the face of Lloth.
  • More than 100 drow will die as a direct result of the miracle not manifesting.
If the roll is an 8 or higher, the miracle manifests.

Miracles work essentially the same as spells, but produce effects purely in line with what Lloth as a divinity is. Once any miracle is granted, another cannot be granted that game session - divinities are strange and fickle in their responses. Likewise, if a drow beseeches a miracle and does not roll an 8 or higher more than twice, they cannot beseech another; Lloth has forsaken them for now.

LIST OF MIRACLES BY LEVEL

1st 
  • A Song to Share my Pained Destiny to All ; a Hymn to Earn their Vengeance
  • Crawling Forward in a World of Hateful Heresy 
  • Punish Them for Denying My Righteousness, My Life, & My Truth

3rd
  • Blood-Hot Trail of Those that Curse Revealed to Me
  • Incense that Creeps with Secrets
  • Wounds Upon Thy, Overflow with Poison

5th
  • All my Spite ; a Dirge of my Vengeful Suicide
  • From About Me Comes HER Hunger-Revenge
  • Overflowing Secrets Pool in Mine Mouth

7th
  • Demise Comes for Me, but to You Has It Loved
  • From Your Webs Hang All You Love
  • YOUR Children, Here Now, For All to See

9th
  • Cocoon of Faith to Rebirth All the World's Spite
  • Here Be the Haven, the Nest, the Future
  • SHE Places a Kiss Upon Thy's World
A Daughter performing a ritual honoring the spite of all her kin.

MIRACLE DESCRIPTIONS


1st Level Miracles


A Song to Share my Pained Destiny to All ; a Hymn to Earn their Vengeance
You must view your life as the life of the oppressed, the attacked, and the lonely. Your must see your friends as enemies, and you must see everyone's friends as their enemies too. Appalled by the bloodthirsty nature of all bonds, sing. Sing loud and sing keenly. Sing to Lloth of your disgust at this treacherous cosmos and sing for her to show to all who walk it that your vengeance is owed and they must learn why. In answer to your vindictive hymns, all around you will be envenomed by your worldview. They will grow hostile to all that they see, save you. And they will act to destroy each other in order to accomplish the revenge they never knew they needed. When this miracle manifests, its divine effect does not end for 10 minutes, after which all involved are aware of the atrocities they have now committed. First used by a generation of drow enslaved by surface dwellers and who sung to Lloth for freedom.

Crawling Forward in a World of Hateful Heresy 
Why is it that you are so righteous and yet so beaten down by all that exists? Why do you suffer? Why are you dying? And it is at that moment, where you are fearful of death, where you feel that there is no way forward, that the miracle manifests. In these conditions you must reaffirm to Lloth the truth of your drowness - that no matter what, you will crawl forward, to give her food, for Her, for all the drow. And in response to your devotion, She will turn your body (and all you carry) into liquid shadow, and you will melt into shade. While in this heatless, textureless existence, you crawl forward. Those who see you see shadows of spiders on the wall with no source. Nothing can hurt you. Nothing can stop you. And until you feel safe again, you will not resume your existence as a drow. First used by a young hero who had food in a time of starvation but was blocked by an enemy too great for them to conquer.

Punish Them for Denying My Righteousness, My Life, & My Truth
When someone or something has tried to kill you and no retaliation works know that Lloth will come to your aid. Curse that murderous thing with all the spite inside of you. Hate it truly, utterly. Your hate will bring Her attention to that creature and you will find, in your garments, hidden as if it were always there, an amethyst dagger, warm as if alive, writhing shadow burbling inside its countless perfect facets. Attack with the dagger. It will never miss. When it slides into the body of whatever bastard sought to end the life of a holy drow, the blackness will invade it - Lloth will invade it. Their eyes will turn black, their skin too if they have it. Their bones will become hollow and brittle. For  eight months and eight days and eight hours of time will the antagonist suffer with every movement and thus go rigid and still. Prepared perfectly for sacrifice. First performed by a Cocoon Marquis whose sacrifice rebelled mightily.

3rd Level Miracles


Blood-Hot Trail of Those that Curse Revealed to Me
Something has evaded you. It has left you in a state most compromised. You cannot find it. Revenge cannot be exacted. You have exhausted every resource at your disposal and still it is gone. How dare it. The audacity. Name this temerity and beseech Lloth. Offer a bit of your blood from the tips of each of your fingers - no more than eight, though. Touch your eyes directly. Pull them away and your infravision has changed. You see brighter then all else the heat trail of the fiend who wronged you. It could be prey for a sacrifice, or the assassin of a cherished kin. It could be the trail of someone who took from you a prism, or who overheard a secret never meant to be uttered. Their trail leads directly to them, and so long as you move upon it you move with great speed - thrice that you normally could, as do any companions with you, and none of your lot grow tired either. The trail disappears when the spite fades or the creature dies. First performed by a young girl whose Matron was assassinated and who was denied her revenge.

Incense that Creeps with Secrets
Lies thick as stone barricade you in a prison of conspiracy. There are things you must know. All who keep those things from you keep them from Lloth and they must be taught the vanity of their impudence. Take the skull of a drow assassinated. Break it to pieces in your hands. Ask Her why the names of these fools insist on lying to you. Discover with surprise that the skull breaks into dust, into fine grave dust, into grave dust so fine it blooms outwards, is alive, moves with purpose. Inside this grave dust float Lloth's children. The smell of roses and blood twinned. All who know the secret that you wish to know will smell this incense. Lloth's children crawl into their ears, their brains, bite their thoughts. Whispers fill your head. The truths that were hidden from you for so long. Only answers a single question, but will bring you the thoughts of eight creatures to solve this riddle. First used by an Oracle-Vizier whose matron was surrounded by politicking enemies.

Wounds Upon Thy, Overflow with Poison
For one creature whose heart still beats and whose heat still burns does your hatred overflow. You see it. You see that it is hurt but it has not the grace to die or be sacrificed as it should. But it is hurt. It has suffered a wound to its flank or its arm or its face or something else entirely. If that wound would respond to your hatred it would overflow with poison. And so it does. Reach towards the wound. Tell Lloth how much you hate this thing. Tell her how it should be blighted and torn apart and left here in the bedrock of all creation to rot and rot and die and rot. Your eyes glow violet with heat. Poison bubbles in the open wound of your victim. It screams in pain. Poison flows from it, burning flesh black as drow skin. For every point of damage it has received so far, it receives it again so long as you remain conscious to hate it. When it dies, no soul is released; the poison damns it to lie here, forever suffering, until the end of all time lest an exorcist appear. First used by a Daughter whose mates killed her pupil and left her half-dead.

A Cocoon Marquis emerging again, reincarnated into something spiteful - a miracle indeed!

5th Level Miracles

All my Spite ; a Dirge of my Vengeful Suicide
For so long have you nursed in the core of your heart, in every ounce of blood, through every iota of heat you produce - you have nursed an enmity for all things. A spite so deep and so justified that try as you might you could never communicate it truly. And from just the barest spark of resistance from someone or something else does this hate becoming an all-consuming rage. A conflaguration of damnation. And it makes you sing. Sing as beautifully as you can. Lloth will sing with you. Your voice will change to hers, and inside of it the voice of all drow can be heard. Singing itself is a ritual. A spell. You are trying to communicate what you are to some wretch before you. And in the midst of the song, its mind will drown in the beating waves of your anathema. Unable to cope - for what living being could other than the holy drow? - it will suicide. It will slit its own throat in order to stop the madness. There is no other course, lest it plug its ears and pray to its own distant divinities.  First used by a Matron whose daughter was taken by some drake. The drake learned its lesson from her sorrowful rage-dirge.

From About Me Comes HER Hunger-Revenge
All the world has turned against you. You are broken. Your weapons are shattered. Your poisons are useless. You are hurt. Death comes for you; predator in the gloam, eyes twinkling with heat, with fire, cool as black. On your hands and knees you must go. Beg for Lloth to kill this thing. Beg for her to eat it. Not to save your life, but because you cannot do your duty, and you must invoke her to do it for you. Mercy through servitude is blessed. The walls will melt. The ceiling, the ground. Spiders the size of cavebears will emerge. Do not look. Do not dare look upon HER when you have failed to uphold your end of this bloody, eon-long bargain. Listen only. As everything around you is killed and devoured by these arachnid angels. Then they fade - the cave left empty as if you were ever the only one there. First used by a Matron whose entire house had abandoned her. They paid the price for their selfishness.

Overflowing Secrets Pool in Mine Mouth
There are things no living thing can know. Things only Lloth can know. Lie down. Fall into a trance. In that trance, see yourself standing on a great web in the deep darkness, a web that glows with heat, a web that stretches out into the infinite abyss. Ask this void a question. A true question. A question on the nature of the cosmos. A question of complete knowledge, esoteric and eldritch. Wake in pain. When you come out of your trance do not close your mouth. Inside of it, spiders swarm, and one by one each turns into a drop of poison that singes the tongue black. When they are all gone, speak - and what you speak will be the answer that you seek. First used by the original Messiah Matron, who knew not how to get the revenge she so lusted for.

7th Level Miracles

Demise Comes for Me, but to You Has It Loved
Wrap a thread of spider silk 'round your neck. When you die, with your dying words, ask Lloth to take as sacrifice not you but that which has killed you. Undone comes the silk from your neck. Your wounds disappear. If you had lost hit points, or were cursed or diseased or poisoned, you are no more. Instead, that thing that struck you a mortal blow suffers from every ailment you have ever suffered. That spider silk is wrapped 'twixt its neck. Watch as it is pulled upwards, into the stone, into the shadow. See a great heat there. Feel in your bones the mighty presence of something truly Impossible. That is Her. Lloth. You cannot look away as she eats that which has killed you. Never in your life will you feel as vindicated as you do now. First used by the very first drow that encountered Lloth and became her mate.

From Your Webs Hang All You Love
For a foolish reason has another living thing placed a curse upon you. Aware of this, you sought Lloth to dispel and turn such wicked evil. Name that which has cursed you, or name the curse itself. On a prism, create an effigy of love. Name it after the curse. Wrap it in spider silk and consume it. Wait. Eighty-eight hours later, the first will come. A spider the size of a drake will crawl from the ink of the underdark and with it will be a eight cocoons. It will leave them here, hanging from the shadow. Each cocoon has inside of it the still conscious, barely alive loved one closest to the curse-giver. Do with them as you will, so long as they are eventually sacrificed to Lloth proper. If the curse-giver comes for revenge, their loved ones will plead for them to stop, knowing that the curse-giver's life can be taken for theirs to continue. First used during a war between houses. Lloth manifested this miracle for the one that fed her better drow,

YOUR Children, Here Now, For All to See
With eyes seeing only hate gaze upon the heat of a thing that has killed eight drow. Knowing that you yourself are too infantile to take revenge, instead fashion a prism and take it to the Eighty-Eight. There, listen to the Psalms. Listen to their anger. Take the prism in hand and offer it to one. Watch the thing in your hand turn black as a heatless cave. Crush it into dust, beseeching Lloth for the most virtuous child she can spare. Watch as the dust rises in whirls and know that those whirls are your miracle. They solidify. The Drider stands before you seething. It sees only that thing that you have gazed upon, and it leaves with haste to destroy it. If it fails, know it will reform eight days later before you. It will drink of your blood, leaving you only half-alive, before going again to kill its foe. So it will do, again and again, until its victim is dead. First used by a Marquees to doom a wyrm most horrible.

Image result for drider art
Your Brother; your Savior

9th Level Miracles

Cocoon of Faith to Rebirth All the World's Spite
In your hands is the corpse of a drow most honorable. Flay the skin, devour the meat, break the bones to dust, and leave the skin out for an hours time. Watch as spiders flock to it. They will wrap the skin into a ball and seal the ball into a cocoon. Silk so thick that it is mucous. Touch it. Feel a heat inside. See a heat inside. The ball swells pregnant. Eight days pass, then eight more. It is the size of a drow now. It is one thing, slime-encased, an egg just laid. The heat inside is formless. Boiling like poison in the pot. Cracks open and gunk slithers out. The rebirth steps afterwards. Drow, reincarnated, reborn into the world for one reason: to destroy that which led to its death. A revenant of scorn. Empowered with all the miracles of Lloth and capable of wielding them without mistake. Chosen by Her. Loved by Her. This drow will continue its mission and every time it is destroyed it will be reborn again, here, at this spot, emerging ever more spiteful, ever more powerful. First used by a Messiah Matron to return to life her daemon child.

Here Be the Haven, the Nest, the Future
There must be eighty-eight of you, just as there were eighty-eight drow in legend when Lloth blessed them. The eighty-eight of you must hate all else. You must be alone. You must be on the precipice of death. Sacrifice one of you. Then another. Do this for eight days. When there are but eight drow left, the cave they are in will expand. Lloth herself will shape it. She will turn stone into home and darkness into love and air into web. A new city will be created and those sacrificed reborn and the eighty-eight of you will repopulate this new haven. The future expands. The drow continue. First used by Lloth herself to make Menzoberranzan.

SHE Places a Kiss Upon Thy's World
As you lie dying, say this -

"O, Lloth,
Whom from cave-dusk made Haven, and
From poison made water, and
From me made me -
O, Lloth,
Who sits in the heart of eight amethyst
Seeing those beyond and suffering from their cruelty,
Please, from your lips -
O, Lloth,
I am dead
But you will not let me die
For you love me
As I love -
As I love -"

And there She will appear. Rising from your shadow just as she did the primordial stuff of the universe. Smile on her face. She knows why you pray. Lloth herself, Goddess of Conspiracy, Murder, and Sacrifice, will seek out that one thing you hate most. She will kiss it. And in doing so, she will utterly destroy it - and all that get in her way. First performed by a child who was taken from her home and killed by a villain most horrible.

D&D inspiration - Imgur - Lolth, the Spider Queen (maybe). Drow
All the world's life for Her hunger.

Rising Legends - The Core Rules

Here's my umpteenth crack at a rulesbrew for me to use at home. I've designed it in a way that I think will make it easy for non-gamers to run, has clear depth, and remains out of the way for most people. BTW, I AM taking name suggestions.

Suke

Rising Legends is a game where you play as characters with nothing who try desperately to become something by putting their lives on the line.

To play, you need a d20 and a d6.

First, create your character. In order to do so, you follow three simple steps:

  • Roll for 2 keywords that describe your character, or choose them.
  • Write down your three attributes (Savvy, Athletics, and Weird), and assign each one of the following numbers: 12, 9, and 6.
  • Choose your starting supplies.
The referee of the game runs the world and obstacles. They will also provide the lists of keywords and starting supplies. Future blogposts/supplements will provide pre-made worlds and sagas, complete with their own lists of keywords, starting supplies, obstacles, adventure locations, additional rules, and other useful materials for running a game.

The referee describes the game world, and the players describe what they want to do. If they are doing something dangerous or difficult, the referee may ask you to roll under one of your attributes with a d20. If you roll equal to or lower than your attribute, you succeed. If you roll 10 under your attribute, you succeed with style, and the referee describes a bonus you get in the situation.

Keywords are words or phrases that represent your character. If your keyword applies to a roll, you can roll 2d20 instead of one and take the better result. If both keywords apply, you still only roll 1d20. 

As a character goes on adventures, they will find gear, magic, and helpers that will aid them. These should be notated by a player who receives such a bonus. Additionally, when a character finishes an adventure, they gain fame.

Fame is a number that represents how well known the character is in the wider world. At every increment of 10, your character will find themselves rewarded with something special . This can range from someone wishing to apprentice under them, to potentially gaining ownership of beautiful palaces, or even training which increases your attributes. Additionally, after every adventure, your character gains a new keyword. This keyword will either come from the earliest list, or be tailor made to fit your character.

If your character successfully rises to 100 fame, they become a Legend. At this point, they somehow leave the world, perhaps in a tragic twist of fate, or by being whisked away by holy powers, or even retiring to become the ruler of the land for a time after. 

Karl Sisson

During an adventure, your characters will come face to face with obstacles. An obstacle comes in one of three categories: Monsters (anything that the party encounters, including mundane things like bandits or lions), Hazards (which range from deadly traps to dangerous poisons), and Weirdness (such as horrible curses or strange powers). Every obstacle has a number associated with it, the Obstacle's Danger, which ranges from 1 to 10. When the referee says that a player must make a roll forced by an obstacle, they add the obstacle's danger to their roll.

Occasionally, an obstacle will somehow harm a player. This damage, represented by a 1d6 + the obstacle's danger, is dealt to one of the player's attributes. For example, a bandit's serrated dagger will deal 1d6 + 1 damage to Athletics, while a warlock's wicked hex will deal 1d6 + 3 damage to your Weird. If a number falls to 0, the players character is taken out until the obstacle has been overcome, the party flees, or everyone loses. Damage to an attribute can be healed with medicine (or similar means), or through rest. Every day of rest restores 1 point of damage to an attribute. Some gear, magic, or specially made tools can reduce damage taken.

While taken out, your character cannot do anything and is effectively unconscious on the ground (or in the case of Weird being reduced to 0, is rendered immobile by some strangeness). Once the obstacle is no longer present, the player rolls 1d6 for their character and consults the following table for their character's fate.
  1. Scarred! The character bears a distinctive scar from their encounter, but is otherwise fine.
  2. Traumatized! The character has been traumatized by the obstacle. For the next 2 game sessions, the player adds 3 to any rolls they make.
  3. Crippled! The character has been crippled in some way by the obstacle. The referee chooses a relevant attribute to be reduced by 3 permanently.
  4. In debt! Your character should have died, but has made a deal with Death itself in order to live. The referee comes up with a condition (such as "You must pay respects to me through blood sacrifice at midnight every night!") If the condition is not fulfilled at any point during the rest of the character's life, they die.
  5. Spiritless! The character has lost their spirit for adventure. They wander off, seeking a quiet place where they can retire.
  6. Dead! The character succumbs to their wounds and dies.
When trying to overcome an obstacle, you must reduce its danger to 0. This can be done through a number of ways, such as subduing it, killing it, banishing it, disarming it, and so forth. To overcome the obstacle, the referee will ask how you do so, and then tell you which attribute to roll under. The amount you rolled under is how much the obstacle is reduced by. Always use popcorn initiative--or the person whose turn it is deciding who goes next--to decide turn order. After everyone has went, the last person to go now goes first.

Beware! Many obstacles cannot be reduced through conventional means; a dragon cannot be killed with simple sword strikes, no more than a spear will scare away a ghost. If your described plan doesn't work, the referee will tell you that you automatically fail and describe how. 

Jakub Rozalski

The Sphinx - Class, Race, Hireling, NPC, Enemy

The Sphinx is, along with the Angel and Medusa, my favorite fantasy creature. They are one of my principle OD&D races, featured heavily in COMMANDMENT, and are aesthetically one of my touchstones for Fantasy as a whole. So, have a blog dedicated to fleshing out the Sphinx in OD&D, 5E, and general fantasy games.

by Casimir Lee
The Universe, and, in fact, every universe is a spell in the process of being cast. This spell is sentient. This spell wishes to understand itself, its purpose, where it is going, where it came from. Thus life is born. Stardust makes complex compounds, the universe's magic is sheaved off to form a soul, and evolution begins. Across every universe, life of all kinds abounds. The Sphinx is but one of many, but one special nonetheless.

A riddle, personified. The Sphinx was born wholecloth from the divinity that is the universe, created from eons of watching life evolve and still not finding the answer to the Question of Questions. The Sphinx knows this. It is born wise, adult, knowing of many things and many languages. But the Sphinx is young in soul, lonely amidst the stars, the cosmos. It knows why it was born, but not why all was born, and it sets to work. The work: become wiser still, through any and all means, so that one day the Question of Questions can be answered.

This makes them great adventurers. They happen upon a strange land and seek to know all there is to know. If you're looking for treasure, or weapons, or secrets, and you happen upon a man or woman or them wing'd and gold-swathed, a man or woman or them who is a master of a thousand and one riddles, you'd be a fool not to ask them to ally with you. And, of course, the Sphinx will. You are but one of many vectors towards wisdom in the future. By knowing you, watching you, fighting with you, and even killing you, the Sphinx grows more.

Not all Sphinx are so kind. Some, especially those that are older, are cruel. They seek wisdom in violence, death, suffering, annihilation. Their kin do not judge them for this. There is wisdom to be found in all things. There in lies the biggest difference between you and they. You have morality guiding you forward. The Sphinx has a quest, eternal and known, and any means needed to complete it is thus Righteous. Some are chaotic. Some are lawful. Some choose to be good. Some choose to be evil. Some choose to be both, or neither. All, though, are Righteous, and they can be convinced no different.

Consecrated Sphinx
Lius Lasahido
The form of the Sphinx is a bit different then what you're used to imagining. This is because they are creatures of two forms.

They are born as adults, in the shape of humans, for it is that shape that is most common throughout all universes for those seek answers. They are wing'd, to better traverse the world. Gold adorns them, for gold is the metal of greed, and they are greedy for wisdom in all of its forms. Their skin is of a color olive, or mahogany, or porcelain. Their eyes are hazel or green and star-flecked.

But wisdom is the domain of lions as well, who know much of the universe instinctively. Thus, the sphinx has the ability to take on this majestic, powerful form. The older they are, the larger their shape. They retain their wings, too. A Sphinx who no longer wishes to adventure will usually retain this shape, for reasons many.

Fur sapphire-rich or jet-deep. Manes wild as burning plains or regal as the king's crown. Eyes slitted, glowing in the dark, burning pieces of gold worth more than any coin. Claws and fangs sickle'd and sharp, blades enchanted by long learning years.

The Sphinx is not born, it is made. All are infertile. When a Sphinx is truly wise, it will have answered the riddle of how to create a child and will do so. Some will choose to parent, but most do not; after all, their child is an adult already, ready to fly into the world and have its own questions answered. Know that this means that it is rare that Sphinx congregate. There are no Sphinx towns or Sphinx cities. The only time they gather is in death, when their souls fly into the great beyond, ruminating at the Horizon together before going to explore some distant afterlife.

Know too that a Sphinx cannot die of old age, unless it wills away its immortality. Thus, many live for epochs, recording what they know on stone tablets or in omen and song.

Eduardo Francisco
All Sphinx will ask riddles. They ask these riddles not because they know the answer, but because they are trying to find an answer. However, it is common wisdom that creatures will not lend the Sphinx their minds for any suitable length of time. Most get frustrated and leave. This is why so many Sphinx will threaten death, or a curse, or offer a gift in exchange for having the riddle answered. Coercion is, of course, how wise beings barter--at least, that is what many Sphinx come to believe.

Here be a riddle generator. For every game you play a Sphinx, or run with a Sphinx in it, keep it on hand; most Sphinx greetings include a riddle of some sort. In exchange for wisdom gained, the Sphinx will likely aid whoever it is answering the riddle. This is one of the many ways Sphinx adventurers come to be.

SPHINX - OD&D

Sphinxes are magic-users, and can only progress to 8th level (Warlocks). Sphinxes can use no magical items other than scrolls and potions. Sphinxes may only arm themselves with bows and slings. They have a 1-5 chance of knowing the answers to any riddles, and their wisdom allows them to hire sages at 1/10th of the price (200gp per month). After progressing to 2nd level (Seer), sphinxes can begin to research cleric spells. They cast these spells with their normal magic-user spell slots. All sphinxes can assume a monstrous shape, wherein their body takes the form of a lion, giving them two attacks with their claws. In their normal shape, they have wings, allowing them to move 2" through flight. Sphinxes are also magically-resistant, and thus save against magical effects as if 4 levels higher. Finally, a sphinx can speak any language.

Why does the Sphinx retire at 8th level? The Sphinx, by then, having learned much of this world, feels its soul pushing it to learn through other ways. 8 levels worth of adventure grounds the Sphinx; it then goes on to serve as a sage for some courtly figure, or some great rising power. In this position it will serve for a few centuries before returning to the adventurer's life, likely vastly more powerful, and more so in the form of a traveling deity then a wandering mercenary-for-hire.

I suggest using the COMMANDMENT spells for the Sphinx.

Image result for sphinx character art
Magic: the Gathering

SPHINX - 5E

Ability Score Increase. Your Wisdom score increases by 2, and your Intelligence score by 1.

Age. Sphinx are born fully mature, and have no natural age limit. 

Alignment. Sphinx tend towards neutrality in all ways. Adventuring Sphinx tend to be good, but more than a few turn evil as well.

Size. Sphinx in their humanoid form stand between 5 to 6 feet tall. Your size is medium.

Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet. You also have a flying speed of 15 feet.

Languages. You know a number of languages equal to your Intelligence + your Wisdom modifiers (minimum 1).

Born Wise. You have advantage on Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma checks that you are proficient in. 

Regalshape. As an action, you can transform into a CR 1 lion. Your Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution ability scores are replaced with that of a lion's. Your Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma scores remain the same. You have a human face while in this form, and can speak and cast spells with verbal components. Once you've used this feature, you cannot use it to transform back into your humanoid form until you finish a short or long rest.


SPHINX - HIRELING

A Sphinx can be hired for a cost of 4,000 GP per month. Sphinx hirelings are of 8th level. They will teach magic-users and clerics spells they know, lend their spells as aid to those that hire them, and provide wisdom, guidance, or information. The Sphinx will not leave the castle or palace alongside whoever hires it, and is unlikely to ever leave during their employer's lifetime. Yearly, the Sphinx will ask a riddle of its employer. If the riddle is not answered within 1 month's time, the Sphinx will end its contract and seek another employer.

Nekro

USING THE SPHINX AS A CREATURE

Most Fantasy games have statistics for a Sphinx. I suggest the following feature to be added mechanically.

Riddle Curse/Gift. When the Sphinx meets a creature for the first time, it will ask if it would like to answer a riddle. If the creature fails to answer the riddle before it leaves the presence of the Sphinx, it shall be CURSED. This curse cannot be lifted save through a powerful exorcism, answering the riddle, or death. But, if the riddle is answered before one leaves the presence of the Sphinx, they earn a gift. Roll 1d6 below to see what this gift is.
  1. A piece of lapis lazuli, inscribed with a riddles. Acts as a spell scroll of one 6th level COMMANDMENT spell.
  2. A map that must be translated in order to find the treasure of which it leads to.
  3. Its services, for a year and a day.
  4. A curse to be placed on the head of one creature of the riddler's choice.
  5. The answer to a single question. If the Sphinx does not know the answer, another question may be asked until it does.
  6. To be sent back in time, reverted to the age of your childhood, and allowed to live your life again but with the knowledge of now.
Treat a party as players as one person, thus giving them only one gift as a whole.

Most Sphinx serve as a roleplaying/social encounter, as well as a puzzle. A Sphinx used in combat should be one that seeks violence as a means to wisdom. This is a wide umbrella. Perhaps the Sphinx is looking to hunt all humans down, as it believes that wisdom is found in a world without them. Or, maybe, the Sphinx seeks to rend and tear armor of all sorts, and will believe itself truly wise after it has damaged every piece of armor to ever be forged. These esoteric reasoning's give the Sphinx an esoteric vibe; it is a strange creature, clearly inhuman, and while not all together horrible, it is something mystifying, horrifying, and awe-inspiring to those that encounter it.

Having the Sphinx wield powerful magic, be surrounded by enchanted items, and dwelling in places of power is key to this. For Sphinx lairs, roll 1d6 or make your own:
  1. The funeral-palace of a long-dead hero or god-king.
  2. The throne-room of a demon-queen.
  3. A place where magic is so thick in the atmosphere that it changes the weather.
  4. Underneath the boughs of a sacred tree, one where some messianic figure once rested.
  5. In the center of an ancient battlefield, where great forces were risen and vanquished.
  6. A place where an afterlife borders the realms of the living.
When the Sphinx is met, it will ask a riddle. If the players decline to answer, roll 1d6 to see how the Sphinx responds.
  1. A curse upon all who do not answer.
  2. Unspoken and immediate hyper-violence.
  3. Offering a gift of some sort.
  4. Stating that it will kill someone the PCs love dearly if not answered.
  5. A sudden onslaught of monsters is released from a hidden space.
  6. A spell, powerful and horrid, is cast upon the PCs.
Roll on treasure tables of your choice, as if you were rolling for a dragon horde. This is the treasure that fills a Sphinx's lair, gifted to it by rulers from a thousand worlds, all of whom have sought the Sphinx's wisdom.

Sentient creatures surround a Sphinx. Dragons will come to trade riddle-answers for treasure, monks will come to study in its shadow, magic-users to learn spells and clerics prayers, adventurers seeking new vistas or long-lost ruins, monarchs and rulers and tyrants wishing to become better rulers, oracles in training to learn the secrets of the future, and, most rarely of all, another Sphinx, coming to trade pslams for just a short time. Thus, an entire dungeon or adventure site manifests around the Sphinx.

Image result for humanoid sphinx art
Hekkil