A disjointed pantheon, often in conflict with itself, the Dark Seldarine battle for dominance and influence over the Underdark’s drow population. The primary deity among them, Lolth, maintains power through simultaneous chaos and iron-fistedness, but her power is not without its naysayers.
You can read more about Lolth and the first half of the Dark Seldarine here: A Brief Overview of the Drow Pantheon (part 1)
Worshipers of other drow and Underdark gods may be rarer than that of the Spider Queen or her son the Masked Lord, but they are certainly not unknown. Here is a brief explanation of the latter half of the Dark Seldarine.
Eilistraee, the Dark Maiden
Perhaps the only strictly good-aligned member of the drow pantheon, Eilistraee has domain over beauty, arts, moonlight, freedom, and a variety of other virtues that generally go undervalued in the Underdark. When her mother Lolth was thrown from the elven pantheon, she chose to accompany her exiled family members, not because she was equally guilty in their plot to overthrow her father, but because she knew that the drow send away under her mother’s domain would need some kind of positive deity in the darkness. And while her fight for the drow has been largely fruitless, even briefly causing her to disappear (having the entire rest of the Dark Seldarine against her makes for no easy battle), she always returns to keep fighting.
When Eilistraee appears, it is in the form of a 9-foot drow maiden, usually naked, with silver hair and motes of moonlight that flow the full length of her body. Her voice is like a beautiful song, and her appearance so beautiful that it regularly moves mortals to tears – she embodies, after all, the glimmer of hope in the endless darkness. Her symbol, once simply a sword against a moon, has recently been made more elaborate, showing her form dancing against the moon instead. Her followers work to improve relations between drow and other races, improve societies in the Underdark, and fight injustice where it may be found.
Ghaunadaur, That Which Lurks
Worshipers of Ghaunadar might sometimes object to his being listed as a member of the Dark Seldarine, as it implies some sort of subservience or necessary connection to Lolth. And in truth, his membership comes and goes, depending on its necessity to earn him followers. And membership or not, it is always true that Ghaunadaur, god of the subterranean, including oozes, outcasts, and abominations, is a being far, far older than almost any other. He is, perhaps, primordial, and sometimes answers prayers directed at deities and demons who were too ancient to bother with their mortal worshipers. He is also unpredictable, having stolen the intelligence of his first followers, oozes, in a fit of rage.
Ghaunadaur normally appears as an eye against a field of purple, or as a ‘Y’ in more ancient spaces. When he takes an avatar, it is a giant, reddish-purple abomination that shifts between a slug, a roper, a jelly, a tentacle monster, and any other form of horrifying shapes. His clergy is mostly composed of scattered cults, although some organized worship does occur in drow cities. His priests mainly provide him an endless stream of sacrifices in their truly disgusting temples, with such disparate methods and goals that it is hard to declare a specific style of religion. Even false priests of his may sometimes be granted boons, such is the wild, indescribably madness of his followers.
Malyk, the Dark Mage
Malyk, minor power of wild and evil magic, is uncertain to be a true deity on his own. Originally a drow lich (as a fair amount of the Dark Seldarine seem to have started as), he found a mote of Mystra’s divine essence deep within the Underdark, and took it for himself. While he’d gained a mote of the divinity of the goddess of magic, her power was subsumed by Talos, god of storms and destruction, after her death. Talos used Malyk as an aspect until the Second Sundering, when many gods, including Mystra were restored to life. Malyk remained a deity in the aftermath, although it is unclear whether he is a full god or merely an extension of another’s power. He spends much of his time trying to tempt followers from other gods, and ruling over rebellious and truly wild magic.
Malyk does not have a set appearance to his followers, although some believe that his power causes the manifestation of wizshades – powerful incorporeal creatures caused by magical backlash. His symbol is that of a multihued vortex, representing wild magic going very wrong. His cultists, less organized clerics and more scattered “wild priests” gain from him powerful wild magic spells, which they sometimes use even against other followers or to the benefit of other gods. But he generally doesn’t mind. If he is not a god independent of Talos, he needs all the prayers that he can get in order to survive the infighting of the Dark Seldarine.
Zinzerena, the Princess of the Outcasts
Originally a mortal, but not a lich, Zinzerena was a drow born on another world, but trapped on the Material Plane. There, her rebellion and ability to survive, even in the face of Lolth’s wrath, earned her ascension to godhood as the patron deity of assassins and lies. This took worshipers from Lolth, who already hated her, and she did little to endear herself to other members of the Dark Seldarine either, choosing to lie, cheat, and steal her way through every god she could find. While she was subsumed by Lolth for a time, she was returned to power along with Malyk in the Second Sundering.
She appears as a deity in the same appearance she had in life – a cloaked and masked drow woman of average height. Her symbol, that of a sword draped in a cloak, represents the duplicitous danger that she and her followers embody. Said followers venerate her rebellion against the authorities of the Underdark, telling stories of her daring exploits and using her name to encourage the overthrowing of the drow matrons – including Lolth herself.
Have you used any of these deities in a campaign? Have any of your characters worshiped them? How did it go? Let us know in the comments below!