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Zinzerena (pronounced: /zɪnzəˈrnəzin-zuh-RAY-nuh[3]) was originally the drow demigoddess of assassins and chaos. She lost her portfolio to Lolth after being killed during the Time of Troubles, but managed to return as the drow goddess of assassins, lies, and illusion after the Second Sundering. The Princess of the Outcasts personified stealth,[1] her draped sword emblem symbolizing her hidden menace.[3]

You are a fool to think that you can truly slay Zinzerena. For I am a scream on the wind, a flicker of shadow in the corner of the eye. For centuries I have come and gone, and none have stopped me, nor even seen me unless I wished it, for I am illusion. Try though you might, you can never slay what you cannot touch.
— Zinzerena before the end of her mortal life.[6]

Description[]

Zinzerena appeared as a cloaked and masked drow rogue 5 feet and 6 inches (1.7 meters) in height.[5][3]

Personality[]

Reports of Zinzerena's character varied over time between true malevolence, mere amorality, or some combination of the two. While she did teach her followers the value of being cruel, she was an advocate of survival by any means necessary.[1][3][4]

Powers[]

As a mortal, Zinzerena was said to be an illusionist and assassin of unmatched skill,[6] and as a deity was still adept in the arts of illusion and roguery,[5] moving with astounding agility.[3]

Possessions[]

Zinzerena possessed an enchanted shortsword magically imbued with a paralyzing venom, the level of enchantment, strength of the poison, and its duration (between 5-25 minutes) randomly fluctuating every minute. She also owned a cloak with powers of protection and displacement, which similarly varied in potency. Her black-handled crop, which she used to stun her victims, was a potent artifact with the powers of a wand of wonder.[5][3]

Relationships[]

Zinzerena was a master deceiver in the mythology in the drow, with no member of the pantheon totally immune to her duplicity. Even Lolth, despite being otherwise impervious to her manipulation, was sometimes tricked when she shifted the blame for her deeds onto others.[1]

Zinzerena's sponsor to divinity was Lolth's consort Keptolo, who Zinzerena deceived and used as a tool in many stories regarding the Dark Seldarine.[7] The Eager Consort hated Zinzerena for stealing a fraction of his power in a ruse[3] and remained her bitter enemy,[7] with her being the only drow deity he openly despised.[8]

Worshipers[]

Zinzerena was completely adored by drow who sought to throw off the oppression of the matron mothers.[4] Those who revered or simply respected her were almost always of modest or lower social status, her clerics and adherents ranging in profession from common rogues, laborers, guides, physicians, poets, courtesans, to almost any other occupation. Though much more common in decadent drow cities, they could be found almost anywhere, even in the most prestigious noble estates where high priestesses ruled, since even they drew their servants and staff from the commoner population.[3][1]

Even the nobility of drow society could sometimes be found in the priesthood of Zinzerena, though only the most bohemian or fickle of nobles would dare to enter. Inevitably, when they were discovered, they would be cast out of their houses as class traitors, but ironically this could further empower Zinzerena's clergy. Such maverick nobles often became the greatest leaders of her cult, for they were the most well-educated and politically experienced of her followers. Regardless of their position, there was something that all Zinzerena's followers had in common — a rebellious spirit and a desire for change.[3][1]

Most clerics of Zinzerena were also trained as fighters or rogues,[3] but Zinzerena also condoned the study of arcane magic. Not many female drow dedicated themselves to such a practice despite the undeniable boon it could provide for the ambitious, for in their society it was seen as a low-class vocation for males. Even rumors that a matron was practicing arcane magic could sabotage their societal standing if left unchallenged, so most females who pursued the path did so in secret. Zinzerena was a more palatable patron of magic for female drow than Malyk, and her followers encouraged the pursuit, offering tutelage and implements in exchange for a candidate's cooperation with the cult.[1]

Dogma[]

According to the teachings of Zinzerena, one was to raise themselves up by bringing others down.[3] As patron of assassins and chaos, she taught the importance of stealth and misdirection, as well as doing whatever it took to get by.[4] Her followers were not to reveal true feelings, nor their strength, until the one they planned to use them on was helpless, only striking when they had the advantage. Humiliation was also in her portfolio[3] and cruelty was part of her creed,[4] with her adherents encouraged to make time to gloat before the kill as "the legs of the spider are made to be broken".[3]

History[]

Zinzerena was born on a world other than Toril,[4][9] and had a known presence in the Underdark of Oerth (but not the surface) for a time.[3] Stories told of her mortal exploits saw many drow view her as a hero to the point that some revered her as a goddess in her own right, their belief eventually allowing her to asecnd to godhood.[4][3] The Oerthan deity Keptolo helped sponsor her apotheosis, after which she stole a fraction of her benefactor's power, earning his enmity.[3] Before she could properly establish a worshiper base, a divine realm on the planes, and otherwise fully transcend her mortality however, Zinzerena found herself pursued by several members of the drow pantheon for her refusal to play by the rules.[4]

Trapped on the Material Plane, Zinzerena eventually she came to the city of Menzoberranzan on Toril[4] where, in the wake of the Time of Troubles of 1358 DR, Lolth found and slew her (or at least banished her influence from the Realms), subsuming the Princess of the Outcasts as one of her aspects in order to attract the worship of drow who would otherwise rebel against her. This was partially as a test to see if multiple aspects would increase or decrease her own divine power,[9] and some suspected that much of the chaos taking place that around the time attributed to Zinzerena was really Lolth's doing.[4]

Post Second Sundering, Zinerena managed to return from Lolth's culling of the drow pantheon. Though she lost her previous influence over chaos, that instead going to Malyk, she reclaimed the assassination part of her portfolio and reemerged with added power over lies and illusion.[7]

Rumors & Legends[]

For a race whose chaotic nature prompted many acts of individualism, hero myths among the drow were surprisingly rare, presumably because their leaders had the might to suppress such tales in order to discourage violent insurrection. Tales surrounding Zinzerena were usually told by the oppressed minorities, weaker nobility, or dissent fomenters among the drow,[5] her liturgy passed on in the form of folk takes.[3][1]

Zinzerena's origin stories were always told so that she was local to the region in which they were described.[3] Some interpretations of the legends suggested that she and Malyk were siblings, or perhaps lovers.[1] Some cast her as Lolth's daughter, who was spirited away from the Spider Queen and hidden through illusions, while others had her begin life as a mortal elf who used glamour to trick her way into divine company.[1] A tale used by drow rabble-rousers combined these latter variants, with Zinzerena showing a natural talent for illusion magic as a child before being hidden from priests of Lolth by her mother, who faked her death and framed it as an accident.[5]

After being hidden by her mother, Zinzerena would study magic in secret alone, spending decades acquiring spellbooks. She would take up a quiet life of assassination in a particularly degenerate drow city where many races were allowed, and many types of evils lurked unseen. As she grew in power, she transitioned from lethal to paralyzing poisons, allowing her targets to remember her deeds despite never seeing her face due to her excellent disguises, enjoying the rush of power that the rising sense of fear regarding her ambushes and maiming had created.[5]

The specifics aside, Zinzerena always had some element of illusion magic surrounding her, which she would use, alongside other deceptions, to get the best of more powerful opponents. Recurring themes in her exploits included deceit and taking advantage of others' weaknesses,[1] with her stories usually having her wait until her foes were weakened or distracted before making her move.[1][3] This was a common theme among many drow stories and could be seen clearly in the following tale.[5]

Once, Zinzerena planned to assault a beholder lair only to find it locked in battle with a slaad that, like her, sought its treasures. After waiting for the battle to conclude she swiftly took out the weakened beholder, claimed the sword and cloak the slaad had brought with it, and then used a combination of illusion, disguise, and misdirection to confuse and contain the slaad that came to reclaim them. This story also highlighted the drow theme of covering one's tracks and preparing backup plans, as well as showcasing how Zinzerena (at least at that point in time) embodied a powerful principle of chaos, not least of which through the magic items she obtained.[5]

Zinzerena would go on to become one of the greatest of drow figures, a legendary trickster peerless in her disciplines of assassination and illusion whose deeds would be emulated in cities around the world.[6] There were many tales of her stealth in tracking down her countless victims,[5] killing at will her personal rivals and paid-for targets, and it was said that through her realistic illusions and subtle deceptions that she could convince anyone of anything. Yet there was a day when Zinzerena's mortal life would come to an end, one described in myth as The Capture of Zinzerena.[6]

The Capture of Zinzerena[]

According to legend, a centuries-old Zinzerena —old even for a surface elf, let alone a drow — was hired by a Lolthite noble named Alacantra to assassinate her older sister. In none of these tellings was the sister's name mentioned, but she had obtained greater authority in both their house and the Church of Lolth, and long had Alacantra coveted her sibling's position. Having never been caught or thwarted, Zinzerena accepted the task without hesitation, though knew that killing a priestess of Lolth and matriarch of a great house would be a challenge.[6]

Her senses augmented by magic, Zinzerena learnt her target's routines after watching her from afar for several days, and, as if they glowed in the dark, could see the mystic defenses surrounding her house. One night, when the matriarch had just returned home from a tiring day of rituals, Zinzerena moved in to complete her mission. She swept through the property knowing she could avoid the defenses like a spider could navigate its web, passing by the guards cloaked in illusion and wearing the shadows like a suit, scaling the great stone walls without stopping as if they were flat, and using wires and magic to unlock the matriarch's window, finally sneaking in unheard.[6]

Soon the name of Zinzerena will vanish from the lips and the ears of the drow.
— An assembly of Lolthite priestesses to Zinzerena.[6]

Yet Zinzerena was captured the only way such a skillful assassin could be; betrayal. Alacantra was in fact working with her sister to create a new assassin's guild and could not abide Zinzerena as competition. Using her burgeoning cult as evidence towards her threat, they convinced the clergy of Lolth that she was a threat that had to be eliminated and drew upon all the community's resources to weave their trap. Hidden in the shadows and concealed from Zinzerena's scrying by layers of powerful magic were web golems made by the church, constructs against which her illusions, poisons, and skills were useless, that came lumbering from the darkness to finally lay her low.[6]

You are cowards, and you are fools. It is only your fear, and your lack of faith, that makes you think that a few awestruck souls who worship me could ever threaten the Weaver of Webs.
— Zinzerena to her priestess captors.[6]

Bound by webbing, Zinzerena was brought before the clergy and, convinced she was trying to become a rival to Lolth, told that she would be forgotten. Zinzerena mocked their fear before claiming they couldn't kill her, to which they responded by ripping her apart as the golems held her down. Yet when the webs settled there was no trace of a body, just wisps of black leather and cloth. Zinzerena vanished that day, but a body was never found, and it was on said that on that day when she supposedly died that the drow first discovered a common ability fundamental to all secrecy and illusion: their powers of faerie fire and darkness ― the ability to manipulate light and shadow.[6]

Appendix[]

References[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 56. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  2. Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  3. 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 Frederick Weining (August 2002). “The Vault of the Drow”. In Jesse Decker ed. Dragon #298 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 87.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 4.9 Colin McComb (October 1996). On Hallowed Ground. Edited by Ray Vallese. (TSR, Inc.), p. 101. ISBN 0-7869-0430-5.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 5.9 Carl Sargent (May 1992). Monster Mythology. (TSR, Inc), p. 64. ISBN 1-5607-6362-0.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 6.8 6.9 Ari Marmell, Anthony Pryor, Robert J. Schwalb, Greg A. Vaughan (May 2007). Drow of the Underdark. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 34–35. ISBN 978-0-7869-4151-3.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (May 29, 2018). Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes. Edited by Kim Mohan, Michele Carter. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 54. ISBN 978-0786966240.
  8. Frederick Weining (August 2002). “The Vault of the Drow”. In Jesse Decker ed. Dragon #298 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 86.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Eric L. Boyd (November 1998). Demihuman Deities. Edited by Julia Martin. (TSR, Inc.), p. 28. ISBN 0-7869-1239-1.

Connections[]

The Drow Pantheon
EilistraeeGhaunadaurKiaransaleeLolthMalykSelvetarmVhaeraunZinzerena

Deities of unknown worship status in the Realms

Keptolo

Deities of the Post–Second Sundering Era
Ao the Overgod
Faerûnian Pantheon
Akadi | Amaunator | Asmodeus | Auril | Azuth | Bane | Beshaba | Bhaal | Chauntea | Cyric | Deneir | Eldath | Gond | Grumbar | Gwaeron | Helm | Hoar | Ilmater | Istishia | Jergal | Kelemvor | Kossuth | Lathander | Leira | Lliira | Loviatar | Malar | Mask | Mielikki | Milil | Myrkul | Mystra | Oghma | Red Knight | Savras | Selûne | Shar | Silvanus | Sune | Talona | Talos | Tempus | Torm | Tymora | Tyr | Umberlee | Valkur | Waukeen
The Morndinsamman
Abbathor | Berronar Truesilver | Clangeddin Silverbeard | Deep Duerra | Dugmaren Brightmantle | Dumathoin | Gorm Gulthyn | Haela Brightaxe | Laduguer | Marthammor Duin | Moradin | Sharindlar | Vergadain
The Seldarine
Aerdrie Faenya | Angharradh | Corellon | Deep Sashelas | Erevan | Fenmarel Mestarine | Hanali Celanil | Labelas Enoreth | Rillifane Rallathil | Sehanine Moonbow | Shevarash | Solonor Thelandira
The Dark Seldarine
Eilistraee | Kiaransalee | Lolth | Selvetarm | Vhaeraun
Yondalla's Children
Arvoreen | Brandobaris | Cyrrollalee | Sheela Peryroyl | Urogalan | Yondalla
Lords of the Golden Hills
Baervan Wildwanderer | Baravar Cloakshadow | Callarduran Smoothhands | Flandal Steelskin | Gaerdal Ironhand | Garl Glittergold | Nebelun | Segojan Earthcaller | Urdlen
Orc Pantheon
Bahgtru | Gruumsh | Ilneval | Luthic | Shargaas | Yurtrus
Mulhorandi pantheon
Anhur | Bast | Geb | Hathor | Horus | Isis | Nephthys | Osiris | Re | Sebek | Set | Thoth
Other gods of Faerûn
Bahamut | Enlil | Finder Wyvernspur | Ghaunadaur | Gilgeam | Lurue | Moander | Nobanion | Raven Queen | Tiamat



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