Where do Driders Come From?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
In the Second Darkness Adventure Path, we knew we wanted to use the drow as the primary antagonists. And of course, where there's drow, there's driders. Yet with the changes to drow society in Golarion (and in particular who and what they worship) versus their classic representation in the game, the genesis story for driders had to change. This gave us a pretty interesting bit of new flavor for both driders and drow.
In (under?) Golarion, driders are not punishments meted out by the gods. They are punishments meted out by the drow themselves. One noble family of drow, House Parastric, has maintained their power due to their possession of a powerful secret—the art of fleshcrafting. On one level, this art lets a drow use various poisons to reshape parts of the body, granting a soldier large claws or a poisonous bite, for example, or a scout antennae so he can navigate even more easily in the dark. Yet this is just the beginning, for the drow of House Parastric also developed a method to reshape an entire creature—this is known as fleshwarping, and those that survive the painful and humiliating process are known as fleshwarps. Every race put through the process emerges as something different—all troglodytes come out as hulking behemoths; all surface elves emerge as twisted deformed monsters; all halfings come out as skittering quadrapedal beasts, and so on. But it was the drow themselves who proved the most impressive subjects for fleshwarping, for all drow that undergo the process emerge as driders.
In drow society, driders are seen as freaks and mutants. Becoming a drider is not prestigious—it's physical proof of punishment and a brand of shame. Yet driders are not frail or helpless fleshwarps; they're powerful creatures in their own regard. As a result, in drow society driders are often kept as guardians, soldiers, or bodyguards. Retaining little of their previous life's memories, most driders serve their drow lords and ladies without question. But not all of them.
Female driders in particular are more headstrong and aggressive, just as with the drow themselves. Most drider rebellions are instigated by a female, and today there are numerous small tribes of driders dwelling in the remote corners of the Darklands, free from drow rule. The majority of driders one sees in drow cities are male, as a result. And fortunately for those drow, it's real easy to tell them apart. Female driders retain their sleek, beautiful, and elven shapes above the waist; below, their spider bodies are similarly sleek and smooth. Males, though, are much more bestial. Their faces are a horrific blend of drow and spider, and their bodies are spiny and rough. Pictured here are examples of the sexual dimorphism driders present, a female illustrated by Ben Wootten and a male illustrated by Concept Art House.
In Pathfinder #16, we present "Abominations of the Drow," an article that discusses both fleshcrafting and fleshwarping so that if your PCs stumble into the hands of the drow of House Parastric, you'll know what kinds of things they'll have to look forward to.