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General Monster ENCyclopedia: Drider

Driders are half-spider, half-drow creatures created by the god Lolth from drow who fail a test designed to measure their worthiness. Appropriately then, the first appearance of the drider is in Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits. This is a series of posts about specific monsters from D&D's history. Each entry takes a look at the origin of one D&D creature, and tracks its appearances and evolution across different editions.

Previous entries have covered the aarakocra, barghest and catoblepas. This time we're going to look at a "D" creature with a long and detailed D&D history -- the drider.

Origins and development
Gary Gygax and David C. Sutherland III share the author credits for Queen of the Demonweb Pits, but Gygax confirmed that Sutherland was the person responsible for creating the drider.

Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits (1980)

The lower part of a drider's body is that of a giant spider, complete with eight legs. The upper part of the body is described as that of a pale, bloated drow, but as we'll see, driders remained neither pale, nor particularly bloated. Driders retain any magical abilities they had as drow, including their innate spell-like abilities. They are able to fight with swords or axes, and many carry bows strapped to their backs. In case magic and weapons are not enough, driders also have a paralysing bite. They are fearsome opponents.

Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits (1980)

As failed drow, driders are outcasts driven out of drow society (if not killed outright). They rarely reside with others driders, prefering the company of huge spiders. They share those spiders' appetite for warm blood. Driders may be male or female, but it is impossible to tell the difference between the sexes because of their warped bodies.

Monster Manual II (1983)

The drider description from Queen of the Demonweb Pits was reprinted in the Monster Manual II, but the description and abilities remained unchanged from its first appearance. Polyhedron #30 details a male drider named Day-Ron (pictured below), but the next substantial coverage of the drider is an article titled Entering the Drider's Web in Dragon #129. Writer C. E. Misso provides an expanded origin story, and a more complex presentation of drider abilities.

Polyhedron #30 (1986)

In the article, we learn that the first drider was named Duagloth. Many centuries ago he betrayed Lolth by attempting to steal her platinum egg (the same egg that features in Queen of the Demonweb Pits). As a consequence, she turned him into a drider, and evidently liked the idea of this transformation enough to introduce a test for all her most promising drow. Those who fail this test become driders. Dragon #129 hints that Duagloth may still be alive, and that if he is, he will be much more powerful than a typical drider.

Much of the Dragon article details the subtle mechanical changes resulting from the transformation of a drow to a drider, including changed alignment (all driders are self-centred and hence chaotic evil), reduced magic resistance, a bonus to saves vs. fear, improved strength and dexterity, much lower charisma, loss of any psionic abilities, and the gaining of a range of thief/assassin abilities such as tightrope walking, high jumping and hiding in shadows. Drow transformed into driders are sterile.

Driders' teeth become needle-sharp to help deliver their venomous bites, and about 10% of them have the ability to spin a web, which functions as a net of entanglement. Their spider-like appetite for blood comes with a drawback. If a drider does not consume blood at least once every four days, it begins to take damage which only heals once its blood-lust is satisfied.

In 1st Edition adventures, driders tended to be included as entries on random encounter tables, rather than feature as major opponents. But in AD&D 2nd Edition, even their main description is relegated to a few paragraphs tacked on to the end of the "Elf, Drow" entry in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (and later reprinted in the Monstrous Manual).

There are a few sentences about driders in Lolth's entry in DMGR4: Monster Mythology, where we learn that her avatars sometimes appear at drider-creation ceremonies, and that Lolth's priestesses practice a form of archnidomancy which involves cutting apart the entrails of driders to look for omens. Disturbingly, the wording seems to imply that the driders need to still be alive during this process, so that their behaviour can be observed!

There is a brief mention of some underdark "families" dealing in fixed "drider races" in Dragon #228, but that's an April issue, so it probably shouldn't be taken too seriously. Although driders are supposedly solitary creatures, The Rod of Seven Parts boxed set details a group of driders lead by a "particularly charismatic and forceful" drider mage. This group and their accompanying watch spiders attack in a carefully co-ordinated manner, and could pose a serious threat to even a well armed group of adventurers.

Unusually, given how thoroughly TSR ransacked its back-catalog of creatures and art to create the AD&D Trading Card sets produced from 1991 to 1993, none of those pictures a drider. This is made up by the inclusion of one in the 4th Edition base set of the Spellfire card game. Card #319 depicts a drider who is evidently very happy to have found a smith willing to craft chain mail to fits his unique shape.

Spellfire (1996)

3rd Edition
Driders get their own entry in the 3rd Edition Monster Manual, and it is consistent with the driders of earlier editions. Their creation story remains unchanged, and their magical abilities are similar. Their poison bite now does Strength damage, instead of paralysing. In combat, their tendency to engage in ambushes is emphasised.

The accompanying picture shows an emaciated yellow-skinned drider binding a humanoid in a web, despite no mention of any sort of web generating abilities in the description. (Maybe it's one of the 10% of web-spinning 1st Edition driders!) The Monster Manual v.3.5 contains only minor updates to the drider text; clerics are specified as having access to the Chaos, Destruction, Evil, and Trickery domains, and a set of typical spells known by a drider sorcerer is provided. It uses the same mustard-coloured picture as the Monster Manual.

Monster Manual (2000)

The drider is one of the more unusual creatures that Savage Species provides player character rules for. The book notes the difficulty in balancing the class, and cautions DMs to consider the impact of a drider's spells and spell-like abilities before allowing the transformed creature. The class gains most of the drider's spell-like abilities at 3rd level, as well as having the ability to cast spells as either a cleric, sorcerer, or wizard from 1st level. A drider character might work well in an all-monster adventuring group, but it seems as if it would be over-powered next to normal adventurers, as well as facing some serious role-playing challenges when interacting with most NPCs.

In an article titled Monster Mayhem: Drider Template on the Wizards of the Coast web site, we get what seems to be the first hint that the transformation into a drider is not always considered a curse. Apparently some driders consider themselves specially blessed by their goddess. They are also said to form cartels in which they work together, a level of co-operation previously not noted, even if it is "under an air of intense distrust".

A more fundamental addition to drider lore is the revelation that driders have, through experimentation, learned how to create variant driders from other creatures. They take delight in the hideously torturous process. The article provides a drider template which can be applied to any humanoid creature, and examples of hill dwarf and goblin driders.

Dragon #279 (2001)

Monte Cook penned an article titled Revenge of the Spider Queen in Dragon #279 which details a powerful group of Lolth's followers known as the Hand of Vengeance. The Hand is Lolth's strike team in the Demonweb. As well as their leader, Jaggedra, a vampiric half-black dragon drow, the Hand of Vengeance includes a succubus, a male drow wizard, a half-fiend dragonne, a fiendish stone giant and Vinter, a 15th-level drider cleric. He's the newest member of the group and has had to fight hard against the perception that driders are "cursed" by Lolth to gain the begrudging respect of the others.

The Punishments of Lolth by Eric Cagle in Dragon #298 lifts the veil of secrecy on the many tests to which Lolth subjects the drow. This includes the Chwidridera or the Test of the Drider which, if failed, triggers the transformation into a drider. The Chwidridera begins when the drow being tested develops an irrational dread of being eaten alive by spiders from the inside. Given how embedded spiders and spider-imagery are in drow society, overcoming this paranoid fear taxes even the most hardy drow. Those who are able to remain in their community for the duration of the test advance to the next stage. Those who cannot resist their fear flee, and meet a very different fate. A single tiny red spider appears the next time the drow rests. It crawls into the drow's mouth and triggers the grotesque and traumatic transformation into a drider. (Thanks to @Cleon for pointing out this article.)

The Ecology of the Drider by Paul Leach was published in Dragon #312, and is accompanied by a full page picture of a rare, pale-skinned drider preparing to surprise two adventurers. The drider creation story is consistent with previous lore of Lolth testing her "Chosen" through a diabolical test. As we already know, driders are formed from drow who fail Lolth's tests, although it is hinted that perhaps Lolth creates some driders capriciously. The change from drow to drider can take anywhere from hours to days, and a newly formed drider awakens hungry for warm-blooded prey.

Dragon #312 (2003)

Driders are said to prefer secluded areas on the fringes of underground regions inhabited by humanoids, including drow. They select their lairs carefully, making sure they cannot be trapped, and often warding them with dangerous creatures, traps or spells. Although Lolth continues to grant drider worshippers access to spells from her domains, some of them turn to other gods, such as Ghaunadaur and Vhaeraun. The article has extensive notes on drider tactics, both in and out of combat, and strategic suggestions for PCs opposing a drider. The topic of driders as PCs is touched on, and the article agrees with Savage Species, that they aren't the easiest creature to develop into a playable character. It is suggested that a PC drider might be dedicated to Eilistraee and aspire to throw off its curse of transformation, perhaps by completing a great quest.

Several planar sources link Kiaransalee, the drow god of the undead and vengeance, to driders. On Hallowed Ground mentions one of Kiaransalee's proxies, a female drider named Anista of Eight Eyes. Planes of Chaos states that driders number among the legions that serve the goddess in the Abyssal city of Naratyr. But by the time Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss was published, Kiaransalee had lost control of the entire layer of Thanatos to a reborn Orcus, and the animated corpses of drow and driders once loyal to her were now the majority of the residents of Naratyr.

Expedition to the Demonweb Pits returns to the location where we first learned of the existence of driders, back in Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits. One of the planar doors in the Demonweb leads to a place known as Truegard, where driders have overrun the entire plane and enslaved a nation of dwarves. These driders try to prove themselves to Lolth by torturing and abusing their dwarven slaves.

Published towards the end of 3rd Edition, Drow of the Underdark notes that drow cultural attitudes towards driders have begun to shift in recent years, with younger drow considering the possibility that Lolth might be creating the powerful driders as a favour to drow communities (in addition to punishing them as individuals). In some cases, driders have been invited back into drow communities where they are tolerated as servants by the drow.

Heroes of Horror provides an potential alternative creation story for driders, in an example of a horror campaign based on the touch of taint. When a creature dies of taint, it rises again as something new. Elves or drow consumed by tainted arachnids might become driders in such a world.

4th Edition
The 4th Edition Monster Manual reverses the idea of the transformation into a drider being a curse. These driders are considered greatly blessed by Lolth, and gifted with a semblance of her form. They are created when the strongest and bravest of the drow successfully pass the Test of Lolth. Those who fail the test usually die, but are sometimes changed into abominations known as the shunned. The Monster Manual has stats for two types of drider, a Drider Fanglord and a Drider Shadowspinner. Both of these driders have the ability to hurl webs, plus a very limited number of other magical abilities.

Monster Vault (2011)

Revenge of the Giants adds a Drider Battlelord, and the adventure Hall of the Fire Giant King in Dungeon #200 contains a Drider Assassin. In Denizens of the Demonweb in Dungeon #204 a much more powerful and dangerous variation of drider is described. It is known as a Drider Ghostwalker, and is formed from a male drow who betrays Lolth. His body is combined with the essence of a demonic phase spider, and he lives between the physical world and the realm of ghosts. Ghostwalkers function as Lolth's senses in the Demonweb, watching over numerous portals and sending visions of the entire Demonweb back to their mistress.

In Monster Vault, the Fanglord and Shadowspinner are reprinted, and the role of driders in drow society expanded upon. Driders in 4th Edition are apparently highly honoured and respected (and feared) in drow society, and have a near-mythical status. Despite this, they rank below priestesses of Lolth, whom they must serve. They are able to communicate telepathically with spiders, and some even have magic capable of summoning intelligent spiders from other planes. Monster Vault mentions that the drider transformation ritual is carefully guarded by Lolth's priestesses. However, in the War of Everlasting Darkness season of D&D Encounters, PCs may have a rare opportunity to witness the transformation of Danifae, Lolth's avatar, from drow into drider form.

5th Edition
The drider did not appear in any of the D&D Next playtest packets, or in any of the preview adventures for 5th Edition. The only hint we had of its likely 5th Edition incarnation was from James Wyatt's Wandering Monsters column, titled Scum of the (Under) Earth. According to this article, 5th Edition driders return to the premise they are drow who have failed Lolth's tests. Some drow communities shun driders, other accept them. Driders keep all of their innate drow abilities, and fight with bows, swords or axes. Although they have a poisonous bite, they use the paralysing toxin to coat their weapons (especially arrows), more frequently than they use it to bite foes.

The version which appears in the 5th Edition Monster Manual isn't quite the same as envisaged in Wyatt's column, and instead reverts even more closely to the original drider lore. Their creation story follows the standard drow-who-fail-Lolth's-tests line, but there is no mention of driders ever being accepted by drow communities. Instead they are held "in lower esteem than slaves", and at best drow tolerate the presence of a drider as a living representative of Lolth's will and a reminder of the fate of those who fail her.

Monster Manual (2014)

5th Edition driders do not keep their innate drow abilities, although there is a sidebar for variants who retain their drow spellcasting abilities. A standard drow can cast only three innate spells: dancing lights, darkness, and faerie fire. Both their bite and longbow attacks do poison damage, but their longsword attacks do not. They gain Fey Ancestry, which gives them an advantage against charm attacks and immunity to magical sleep. They also share the Sunlight Sensitivity of drow. Amusingly, 5th Edition remains as confused as ever about the drider's ability to produce silk. They have both the Spider Climb and Web Walker abilities, but there is no indication that they are able to spin webs.

Driders and other monsters
Driders have always had a strong association with other arachnids, and Dragon #129 notes that once they claim an area as their territory, 2-12 huge spiders enter their service. These spiders are said to be sent by Lolth as a "sort of parting gift". Dragon #312 states that driders use shriekers as natural warning systems, and that a drider cleric may have a gang of undead under his or her command, or possibly a selection of oozes. Intelligent humanoids such as bugbears, troglodytes, and trolls occasionally serve driders, but usually only if they are magically controlled. Driders have been known to co-operate with duergar and derro.

Chitine have an antagonistic relationship with driders; the Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume One indicates that chitine are hunted by driders, and in The Ecology of the Chitine in Dragon #223, it is revealed that the goal of chitine society is to destroy all drow and driders to become Lolth's favourite children.

The 3rd Edition Monster Manual IV describes tomb spiders, which driders encourage to nest near their territories, as well as Lolth-touched bebiliths, which the goddess creates to hunt down and destroy driders. Shaedlings are malignant fey from the Monster Manual V who have turned their back on nature to worship Lolth. They will sometimes seek out driders to live with, if the driders so permit. Drow of the Underdark indicates that some drow believe that araneas were once drow, and, like driders, were transformed after failing Lolth. In Races of Destiny, the Swordfeather cabal of chaotic illumians is said to harbour driders, which places them in regular conflict with drow.

The shunned are a group of 4th Edition creatures from P2: Demon Queen's Enclave, created by Lolth out of drow who fail her. They include the chwidencha and fithrichen and are grotesque arachnid-drow fusions which mock the perfect form of the drider. (The chwidencha first appeared as the spiderleg horror in the The Punishments of Lolth in Dragon #298.) Driders kill shunned on sight. Like drow, some driders know the profane creation rituals used to create the demonic draegloth described in the Monster Manual 3.

Magic spells and items
There are a few spells which transform someone into a drider form. The 3rd Edition Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting contains the spider curse spell, which turns a humanoid into a drider-like creature under the caster's control, and spiderform which polymorphs the caster into a drider or a monstrous spider. The 3rd Edition Drow of the Underdark contains a dridershape spell, which does much the same thing as spiderform, giving the caster the form of a drider for a few rounds. Confusingly, an earlier, identically named spiderform spell from the Priest's Spell Compendium, Volume Two lets a priest turn a small animal or arachnid into a giant spider, but if cast on a drow, the target is temporarily transformed into a drider instead.

Drow of the Underdark contains a vile feat called Vow of the Spider Queen, which offers substantial benefits but has, as a penalty for breaking the vow, an immediate transformation into a drider.

Parts of driders are also used in spells. Maddgoth's servitor is a spell from Undermountain: Maddgoth's Castle used to create a homounculus servant, and it requires the tears of a drider. The poison gland of a drider can be used as the component for the vapor of agony spell from Return to the Tomb of Horrors. The 3rd Edition Unearthed Arcana lists drider fur as a component for extending a spider climb spell and ritually prepared drider silk to heighten a web spell. This silk must presumably be from one of those rare 10% web-spinning 1st Edition driders...

Venom from a drider can be used to enchant a silver dragon's tooth (described in Dragon #98). It can also be used, together with yet more rare drider silk to make spider fang daggers (from Dragon #169 and The Ruins of Myth Drannor). The 3rd Edition supplement Shadowdale: The Scouring of the Land puts drider silk to another use, as it can be treated to make spidersilk armor. To find a drider to get this venom and silk from, the dark wand of the Sulhaut Mountains (from Greyhawk Adventures) can be used. The wand pivots in the direction of the nearest drow or drider, and even creates a vague illusionary image of what that drow or drider is currently doing.

Except for when Dragonlance writers forget, Krynn does not have drow elves. (Dark elves are instead elves banished from elven society.) However, the Dragonlance world does have driders. There is an encounter with one in the solo adventure book Gnomes-100, Dragons-0; if the dice are favourable, the hero of the story is able to use his steam-powered(!) armor to smash this drider to pieces.

Gnomes-100, Dragons-0 (1987)

An explanation for the presence of driders on Krynn is offered in DLS4: Wild Elves, where the story of Jiathuli, an imprisoned Princess of the Abyss is told. It is Jiathuli who created the driders found on Krynn; they are not native, but visitors from another world sent by Jiathuli as part of an invasion. Another servant of Jiathuli, an undead drider, features in DLT1: New Tales: The Land Reborn.

Eberron has a half-drow, half-scorpion race similar to driders known as scorrow (described in Secrets of Xen'drik), and these play the role of a more powerful drow variant. Eberron does still have at least a few driders. Five Nations mentions a drider missing a leg (and hence known as "The Seven") living in the Copse Impenetrable in the Whisper Woods of Aundair, and Races of Eberron confirms that Eberron's driders are specially chosen servants of the Mockery, much like the scorrow.

Forgotten Realms
Drider are not uncommon inhabitants of the Underdark in the Forgotten Realms. According to FR3: Empires of the Sands, there are also driders found in the Forest of Mir in Calimshan.

In Faerûn, the drider transformation process is overseen by yochlols and performed by priestesses of Lolth. According to FOR2: The Drow of the Underdark, driders of the Realms have a 50% chance of gaining the ability to spin webs (so that's where all the drider silk is coming from!).

A Reader's Guide to R. A. Salvatore's Legend of Drizzt (2008)

In the Drizzt novel The Legacy, Drizzt's sister Vierna transforms his brother Dinin Do'Urden into a drider; Dinin is eventually killed by Bruenor Battlehammer.

City of the Spider Queen (2002)

The City of the Spider Queen adventure contains a number of encounters with driders, include Jhorganni, a drider vampire. The Underdark Dungeons web enhancement for Underdark describes The Forgotten Ones, a community of driders dwelling near the drow city of T'lindhet. These driders have forged an alliance with a group of chitines and are poised to launch a combined attack on the drow city.

Driders are also found in the western realm of Maztica. These driders were not created in quite the same manner as their western counterparts. Instead of being transformed by Lolth because they failed her tests, these driders were originally a group of drow who abandoned Lolth in favour of the Maztican deity Zaltec. The Spider Queen triggered their transformation as punishment for their desertion. (Thanks to MasqueradingVampire and @Big Mac for pointing this out.)

The most notable appearance of anything drider-related in the Greyhawk setting is -- perhaps regrettably -- in the parody adventure WG7: Castle Greyhawk. There, the adventurers encounter "the Amazing Driderman", who is a huge drider wearing a red hood. According to the encounter description, he drones on and on about his sick aunt and finicky girlfriend, causing PCs who fail a saving throw to recklessly attack him screaming "shut up, shut up!". The less said about this particular drider, the better. Let's move on...

In the Ravenloft setting, the RR1: Darklords accessory suggests that there may be driders below the surface of the domain of Arak. The Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III: Creatures of Darkness details a drider version of a drow lich, and mentions that driders will worship vampire drow.

Computer games
The drider has appeared in enough computer games over the years to make it worthwhile having a quick look at the digital development of the drider:

Pool of Radiance (1988)

Pools of Darkness (1991)

Menzoberranzan (1994)

Neverwinter Nights (2002)

In an interview in Jon Schindehette's Dragon's-Eye View column, the creative team at Cryptic (developers of Neverwinter) discuss the process of making a drider by combining a humanoid template with a giant spider, including an amusing note about adding a carapace to the drider to stop the spider's face from appearing on the drider's crotch.

Neverwinter (2013)

Worth mentioning here (thanks to @Ramaster) is the Viviscamera from Icewind Dale II. This is a living machine created by a Red Wizard aligned to an monstrous organisation known as the Legion of the Chimera. The Viviscamera not only has the ability to turn drow into driders, but can create even more powerful driders than those created by Lolth's standard transformation. These variations include a drider which carries additional spiders, and one with silk-producing legs. Fortunately, the adventuring group in the game confronts the Red Wizard and destroys this infernal machine. It's tempting to wonder if it might not have been more lucrative for the adventurers to force the Red Wizard to create just a silk-producing machine to churn out all of the ultra-rare drider silk required for the manufacture of various magic items.

There have been at least six drider miniatures produced for D&D; including a metal Grenadier miniature in 1980, and separate male and female drider blister packs from Ral Partha in the early 1990s (pictures below from the excellent DnD Lead web site).

There have also been three different driders produced as part of Wizard of the Coast's pre-painted plastic minis line. A Drider Sorcerer was figure 44/72 in the Giants of Legend set (2004), a Drider was figure 45/60 in the Desert of Desolation set (2007), and a Drider Fanglord was figure 12/40 in the Savage Encounters set (2009).

Giants of Legend (2004)

Desert of Desolation (2007)

Savage Encounters (2009)

Drider names
Anista of Eight Eyes, Caxzur, Darvitok, Day-Ron, Dinin Do'Urden, Duagloth, Durvagaz, Fireclaw, G'eldighaun, Jhorganni, Maevia, Malnok, Pellanistra, Pliztik, Sabrar, The Seven, Vinter, Xunarra.

Q1: Queen of the Demonweb Pits, p28 (June 1980)
Monster Manual II, p60 (August 1983)
Dragon #98, p13, "The magic of dragon teeth" (May 1985)
Polyhedron #30, p8, "Nienna & Friends" (September 1986)
Gnomes-100, Dragons-0, p126 (November 1987)
WG7: Castle Greyhawk, p55 (January 1988)
Dragon #129, p30, "Entering the Drider's Web" (January 1988)
FR3: Empires of the Sands, p49 (February 1988)
Greyhawk Adventures, p75 (August 1988)
Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (August 1989)
Viperhand, p306 (October 1990)
Dragon #169, p92, "Bazaar of the Bizarre" (May 1991)
FOR2: The Drow of the Underdark, p9-11 (June 1991)
RR1: Darklords, p12 (July 1991)
DLS4: Wild Elves, p16-17, 56 (November 1991)
DMGR4: Monster Mythology, p62 (April 1992)
The Legacy (August 1992)
The Ruins of Myth Drannor, Campaign Guide to Myth Drannor, p127 (February 1993)
Monstrous Manual, p112 (June 1993)
DLT1: New Tales: The Land Reborn, p34 (July 1993)
Planes of Chaos, The Book of Chaos, p29 (July 1994)
Ravenloft Monstrous Compendium Appendix III: Creatures of Darkness, p71, 108 (October 1994)
Monstrous Compendium Annual Volume One (December 1994)
Dragon #223, p58, "The Ecology of the Chitine" (November 1995)
Dragon #228, p52, "Rogue's Gallery: Gangsters of the Underdark" (March 1996)
The Rod of Seven Parts, Book One: Initiation to Power, p48-50 (August 1996)
Undermountain: Maddgoth's Castle, p31 (August 1996)
On Hallowed Ground, p100 (September 1996)
Return to the Tomb of Horrors, Return to the Tomb of Horrors, p151, (July 1998)
Priest's Spell Compendium, Volume Two, p576 (October 1999)
Monster Manual, p78 (October 2000)
Dragon #279, p45, "Revenge of the Spider Queen" (January 2001)
Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, p74 (June 2001)
Wizards of the Coast web site, "Monster Mayhem: Drider Template" (November 2001)
Dragon #298, p34, "Bestiary: Punishments of Lolth" (August 2002)
City of the Spider Queen, p118-119, 152 (September 2002)
Savage Species, p146, 163 (February 2003)
Monster Manual v.3.5, p89 (July 2003)
Dragon #312, p77, "The Ecology of the Drider" (October 2003)
Underdark Dungeons, p2 (October 2003)
Unearthed Arcana, p148-149 (February 2004)
Races of Destiny, p67 (December 2004)
Races of Eberron, p77 (April 2005)
Five Nations, p33 (June 2005)
Heroes of Horror, p51 (October 2005)
Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss, p131 (June 2006)
Monster Manual IV, p92, 167 (July 2006)
Secrets of Xen'drik, p72 (July 2006)
Expedition to the Demonweb Pits, p66 (April 2007)
Drow of the Underdark, p18, 40-41, 55-56, 61 (May 2007)
Monster Manual V, p149 (July 2007)
Shadowdale: The Scouring of the Land, p149 (July 2007)
Monster Manual, p93 (June 2008)
A Reader's Guide to R. A. Salvatore's Legend of Drizzt, p23 (September 2008)
P2: Demon Queen's Enclave, Adventure Book One, p18 (December 2008)
Revenge of the Giants, p82 (September 2009)
Monster Manual 3, p77 (July 2010)
Monster Vault, p87-89 (November 2011)
Dungeon #200, "Hall of the Fire Giant King", (March 2012)
Dungeon #204, "Denizens of the Demonweb", (July 2012)
War of Everlasting Darkness, p64, (November 2012)
Wizards of the Coast web site, "Dragon's-Eye View: Neverwinter: Behind the Curtain, Part 4" (March 2013)
Wizards of the Coast web site, "Wandering Monsters: Scum of the (Under) Earth" (March 2013)
Monster Manual, p120 (September 2014)

Other ENCyclopedia entries
Visit the Monster ENCyclopedia index for links to other entries in this series.
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As I recall, there was an albino drow (who was thus able to pass herself off as a regular elf) villain in the Maztica trilogy who became a drider in the last book via the BBEG native god of Maztica.


I believe Gygax said in one of his ask him anything threads that driders were originally created by David Sutherland as part of what he wrote for Q1.


First Post
As an addendum, the very D&D-influenced EverQuest universe has a drider analogue called the drachnid. The story is that a powerful Teir'Dal sorceress named Tserrina Syl'Tor had bred giant black widow spiders. To curry favor with Mayong MIstmoore, a powerful vampire, she sent him a gift: one of her creations, accompanied by an emissary under her employ.

His response was to send back the spider's body with the head and torso of the emissary grafted onto it, along with a note: "Thank you for supplying Mistmoore with suitable raw ingredients for a true servant." Mistmoore then started releasing more and more drachnids into the wild, and they became a new species, able to breed true and sustain (and even grow) their own populations.

I always enjoyed that creation story for those creatures. I hated fighting them, though. They were tough bastards.


Shirokinukatsukami fan
I believe Gygax said in one of his ask him anything threads that driders were originally created by David Sutherland as part of what he wrote for Q1.
Do you have a source for that, by any chance? I did a fairly quick look for a confirmed monster creator when researching the drider, but I couldn't find anything definitive.


Awesome article, as usual!

Driders also appear on Icewind Dale II, where one is forced to help a powerful drow wizard with the elimination of a creature/device called the "Viviscamera" (or something like that) that is mass producing them.


Steeliest of the dragons
My money's goin' on "Ettin" or "Ettercap" for the "E".

But also wanted to post a great big "YOU'RE AWESOME" for [MENTION=9849]Echohawk[/MENTION] and all of the hard work and research these kinds of articles/threads/posts must take and how very thankful I [and obviously many others] are that you are pursuing this. The hobby really needs more "chronicler/historians" like you.

Really excellent work.

Big Mac

Mmmmmmmmmmmmm, spidertaur.
Spidertaur! Spidertaur! Does whatever a spidertaur does! :p

As I recall, there was an albino drow (who was thus able to pass herself off as a regular elf) villain in the Maztica trilogy who became a drider in the last book via the BBEG native god of Maztica.
Good spot, but it was not quite like that.

Lolth was angry at the drow (who were Faerûnian drow who got stranded under Maztica and then abandoned her to worship Zaltec). After realising that drow were living under Maztica she was trying to gain access to the realm. She finally managed to gain power in the second Maztica novel (pages 303-305 of Viperhand) and put a curse on the drow and the Maztican humans that were serving them. The curse turned all of the drow to change into driders (but had different effects on the various humans in the cult of the Viperhand that the drow were in charge of).

Echohawk might be interested in the description of the drow-to-drider transformation process, so here is a quote:
Viperhand page 306 said:
Crying out in agony and horror, the drow thrashed and writed, their bodies wracked by the all-consumuing vengence of their dark goddess. The sleek elven shapes grew grotesque and bloated, trailing great, immobile abdomens as their lower limbs withered and fell away. From these abdomens sprouted legs - eight legs each - that were covered with corse fur. Dark elven heads and torsos - and minds - remained, so that they could know their disgrace. But the grotesque and hateful bodies would belong to them as long as they lived.
Note that nobody performed any sort of ritual to change these drow into driders. But the drow, and the cult of the Viperhand had been making human sacrifices, so I think that Lolth might have been able to hijack all of the energy that the sacrificial rituals had created. So this could have been a one-off special effect that would not be repeated if other drow travelled to Maztica.

Big Mac

Driders also appear on Icewind Dale II, where one is forced to help a powerful drow wizard with the elimination of a creature/device called the "Viviscamera" (or something like that) that is mass producing them.
Is this a machine that turns drow into driders? Or is it some sort of servant of Lolth that does a ritual on them?

But also wanted to post a great big "YOU'RE AWESOME" for [MENTION=9849]Echohawk[/MENTION] and all of the hard work and research these kinds of articles/threads/posts must take and how very thankful I [and obviously many others] are that you are pursuing this. The hobby really needs more "chronicler/historians" like you.
Megadittoes. This is fantastically researched and well written. Thanks for writing these!

Observation: the number of times 4E inverts or subverts long-held D&D tropes, like with the drider, was one of the things that turned me off to it. Good to see the drider returning to its cursed origins.


When I made my post about the driders on Icewind Dale II I was just about to play through that part, so I wanted to make sure I had it fresh on my memory (it's an old game) before giving away this information.

It turns out that there is this organization called The Legion of the Chimera, which is a league of monsters and half-breeds. A drider faction is looking to join the legion and they are given the help of a Transmuter from the Red Wizards of Thay (Imphraili Asserbai) who creates the Viviscamera for them, a Creature/Machine that turns regular drown into driders. Being adventurers, of course, you foil this unholy operation and destroy the Viviscamera. Of note is the fact that, when you confront this transmuter, she is working on a couple of Drider Variants; One that carries additional spiders on it's belly, one that has hollow legs that produce silk and an extra strong one.


[h=2]Monster ENCyclopedia: Drider[/h]


[h=3]4th Edition[/h]
Those who fail the test usually die, but are sometimes changed into abominations known as the shunned.

[h=3]Driders and other monsters[/h]


The shunned are a group of 4th Edition creatures from P2: Demon Queen's Enclave, created by Lolth out of drow who fail her. They include the chwidencha and fithrichen and are grotesque arachnid-drow fusions which mock the perfect form of the drider.
I'll have to check which issue it was, but there was a Dragon magazine issue with a collection of 3rd edition spider monsters who were drow that had failed one of Lolth's tests, and I'm pretty sure the Chwidencha was amongst them. The Fithrichen might be in it as well, but I can't remember offhand.

The concept of non-drider Arachnid-Drow monstrosities brought about by "failing Lolth" is certainly older than 4th edition.


I'll have to check which issue it was, but there was a Dragon magazine issue with a collection of 3rd edition spider monsters who were drow that had failed one of Lolth's tests, and I'm pretty sure the Chwidencha was amongst them. The Fithrichen might be in it as well, but I can't remember offhand.
I've found that 3E Dragon Magazine source for the Chwidencha.

They first appeared in issue #298 (August 2002) in "Bestiary: Punishments of Lolth" as the Spiderleg Horror - a creature a drow turns into if they fail the "Chwidencha-The Test of Sacrifice". The article also includes stats for two more Arachno-Drow monstrosities who had failed Lolth's tests, the Aracholoth and Brood Mother.

The Chwidencha also appears (with that name) in the 3E Fiend Folio and Drow of the Underdark.

I couldn't find either the Fithrichen or the Mithrenda in Dragon #298, so I suspect they're original to the 4E Demon Queen's Enclave you referred to.


Shirokinukatsukami fan
Lolth was angry at the drow (who were Faerûnian drow who got stranded under Maztica and then abandoned her to worship Zaltec).
When I made my post about the driders on Icewind Dale II I was just about to play through that part, so I wanted to make sure I had it fresh on my memory (it's an old game) before giving away this information.
I've found that 3E Dragon Magazine source for the Chwidencha.
Thanks for all of these great additions! I've incorporated them all into various parts of the original post.

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