Most pantheons in DnD, whether worshiped by a particular species or a particular geographical area, share their worship among themselves. The people will choose who they pray to depending upon their individual circumstances, and venerate each one for their particular role in their lives. Clerics and particularly devoted followers may choose one god in particular, but most prayer is polytheistic.
Not so for the drow pantheon, better known as the Dark Seladrine. Those gods who primarily lead the elves of the Underdark generally demand sole worship from their followers, even when their goals might otherwise align. But since their primary worshipers are drow, most in the Forgotten Realms understand them to be their pantheon.
Notably, not all drow follow the Dark Seladrine. Many worship more standard Faerunian gods, especially Selune, goddess of the moon. The "drow pantheon" as it is known, is particularly associated with a network of drow cities and settlements that are particularly active and influential on Toril.
Here is a brief overview of the Dark Seladrine:
Lolth, Queen of Spiders
Lolth, goddess of spiders, darkness, and drow in general, is the most powerful of the drow deities, which enables her to keep her position despite her love of chaos and encouraging infighting among her followers. While she was once known as Araushnee, an elven destiny deity, she attempted to murder her lover and usurp his power, leading her to be cast down into the Demonweb Pits. There, she gradually amassed power over other evil gods, rising to become the massive power that she is in “present day” Faerun. While she is the most powerful of the Dark Seladrine, she is also opposed by the entirety of the rest of the pantheon, including by her own children.
Lolth does not simply take the form of a drow, but the form of a drider, a gigantic spider with the upper torso of a beautiful drow woman in place of a head. Her symbol looks like a star, or perhaps a web, with pointed ends and a red gem in the center.
Most drow cities and civilizational hubs devote themselves almost entirely to her, dividing their populace into rival houses, each of which placing women as total authority over men. From her followers she demands total loyalty, as well as total cruelty, maintaining her power by subsuming those few gods which take a notable stand against her.
Vhaerun, The Masked Lord
Vhaerun, god of male drow, evil enacted on the surface, and thievery, is in fact the son of Lolth. Despite this, he frequently opposes her, not the least due to her enforcement of the subjugation of men among her followers. Also, despite his status as an evil deity, he takes an active role in the lives of his followers, protecting their interests and answering their prayers.
Vhaerun takes the form of a male drow, somehow known to be handsome despite his wearing of a mask (which he is said to wear to hide injuries inflicted on him by his mother Lolth), surrounded by shadows. His eye and hair color also change depending upon his current emotions. His symbol looks like a loose facemask with eyeholes. It’s remarkably similar to that of the god Mask (who has an extremely similar portfolio), which he sometimes uses to trick non-drow into worshiping him.
While Vhaerun’s followers firmly believe that drow are superior to all other species, they fight against Lolth’s iron-fisted reign over drow, and seek to create a more equal, empathetic society among themselves. Their cruelty and evil are reserved for those who dwell on the surface of Toril.
Selvetarm, The Spider that Waits
As the son of Vhaerun, one might think that Selvetarm, god of warriors and slaughter, would also hate Lolth. And he does, but he also serves her, practically in the capacity of a slave. This service puts him at odds with his father, but the entirety of his worship comes from sub-worship of Lolth, so he hasn’t much choice in the matter.
Selvetarm rarely manifests, but when he does, it is in the form of a giant spider with a drow’s head. His symbol, that of crossed weapons behind a spider, emphasizes his subservience to the Spider Queen.
Few drow worship him on his own, and most of his power comes from his aspect as Lolth’s champion. This has saved him from being subsumed by her, but also prevented almost any worshipers from choosing him in his own right. Those very few that do serve within Lolth’s armies, but employ a less strategic, more brutish approach to war.
Kiaransalee, The Vengeful Banshee
Once a queen, then a lich, then a demigod, and finally a lesser deity in her own right, Kiaransalee is the drow goddess of vengeance, necromancy, and undeath. Much of her history is spent attempting to take power from either Lolth or Orcus, attempting vengeance for all the times that her plans against them have failed, ever uncontented with her few victories. She was briefly wiped from Faerun after interfering with a conflict between Lolth and Eilistraee, but returned in the Second Sundering.
She appears as a thin drow woman, wearing only dark veils and silver jewelry, and wielding only a curved dagger and sharp nails. Her symbol is that of a gray hand decorated with silver rings.
Worshipers of Kiaransalee mostly work in secret, hiding in small, organized sects without much overarching framework to their faith. Much of their time is spent pursuing or creating undeath, with their major holiday, The Graverending, being spent creating as many zombies as they could to seek out those who threatened or insulted them. Most of these worshipers are necromancers themselves, though a few are simply drawn to her intense pursuit of vengeance.
Have you ever played a drow character that worshiped one of these gods? Have you ever included the gods in your campaigns? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!