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|First appearance||Q1 - Queen of the Demonweb Pits (1980)|
Yochlols are fictional demonic creatures in the Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying game. These lesser tanar'ri are handmaidens of Lolth, the drow goddess of Spiders, dwelling amongst the outer planes and being regularly summoned by the Queen of Spider's priestesses to witness sacrifices in the name of their dark goddess, Lolth. The summoning process tests the very fiber of the high priestesses' dedication. Establishing a mental connection to its summoners, yochlol scour their thoughts and memories to find proof of their loyalty to Lolth. It proves to be a rather unpleasant experience for all who are present, but the yochlols' connection to Lolth also proves to be fairly useful when a family feels they have obtained something to please her.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)
The yochlol was introduced in the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game adventure module, Q1 - Queen of the Demonweb Pits (1980), by David C. Sutherland III with Gary Gygax. The yochlol first appears in the adventure as the player characters explore Lolth's spider ship, in the encounter "The Beds of the Yochlol". In this encounter, four yochlol appear in four different rooms, each one assuming a different form to accost the party. Another encounter with yochlol later in the adventure features two yochlol which have been ordered by Lolth to guard a stairway and attack anyone who tries to pass; in another encounter two more yochlol are disguised as beautiful women wearing silken gowns, pretending to be captives of Lolth.
A full description of the monster, including game statistics, appears at the back of the module, which describes the creature as the "Handmaiden of Lolth". This section notes that a yochlol is chaotic evil in alignment, and is common in the Abyss. This description notes that a yochlol normally appears as a misty column of gas with no discernible form, noticeable only by its vile odor and a hazy smudge in the air, and has the ability to materialize pseudopods as needed. To attack or use its psionic abilities, a yochlol must fully materialize in one of its forms as an amorphous column with eight pseudopods, or as a giant spider or beautiful human or elf.
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)
The yochlol first appeared in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons game's second edition in the Forgotten Realms sourcebook, The Drow of the Underdark (1991), by Ed Greenwood. A two-page description appears in the back of the book, in the "Monsters of the Underdark" section. This book notes that "All known yochlol serve the Queen of Spiders, and appear on the Prime Material Plane only at her command, when summoned by rituals or worship to her." The "amorphous column" form is described as a "one-eyed column resembling a roper or a half-burned brown candle, with eight pseudopods." A yochlol is fed by the gases and fires of a summoning ritual, which gives the yochlol a focal presence on another plane, allowing it to fully materialize. A yochlol in human or elven form can cure its own wounds or those of a creature it touches. According to this book, "Yochlol take pleasure in dominating and inflicting cruelty on lesser creatures," and love a good fight. Yochlol share telepathy with each other, and with Lolth when she is on the same plane as the yochlol. A yochlol will seek to escape the creature that summoned it, and wander at will to work mischief using ploys, subterfuge, murder, and deception to turn evil beings to its ends. On Faerûn, yochlol have used their human or elven forms to befriend, love, and aid beings on many occasions; the book explains this as part of the creature's capriciousness and need to do something different, and these behaviors may be used to Lolth's benefit.
The yochlol is next described for the Planescape campaign setting, in Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix II (1995). In this book, they are described as lesser tanar'ri. Regarding Lolth, the book states that "The yochlol are her servants in her home layer and her agents on the Outer Planes. No other type of tanar'ri has such a close relationship with a power that inhabits the Abyss." This book notes that a yochlol's elven form is usually that of a drow. Yochlol do not usually get involved in the usual tanar'ri causes such as the Blood War, because they exist only to serve Lolth in whatever task she sets before them. According to this book, yochlol usually appear in their amorphous form in the Abyss, and in humanoid or spider shapes while on other planes. Yochlol again have psionic powers in this book. Other tanar'ri do not like Lolth's chosen servants, but they are guaranteed free passage in lands controlled by most Abyssal Lords out of fear of angering their mistress. The book reveals the method of the creature's creation: "The yochlol are recruited from the numberless ranks of least tanar'ri and subjected to unspeakable ceremonies and torture to win their elevated station."
The yochlol again appears in a Forgotten Realms supplement, the Villains' Lorebook (1998), receiving another set of statistics and a description. Also described is an incident involving a yochlol during a drow attack on Mithral Hall; the barbarian Wulfgar is lost to the yochlol as a result of the attack.
Yochlols appear as tentacled blobs of melted wax and continually emit a foul stench. They also have the power to change their shapes—usually to a comely drow female or to a spider (usually a black widow). They can also change themselves into a gaseous form, allowing their unknowing victims to inhale them, and then suffocating them.
It is possible that they originate as the souls of high priestesses of Lolth who died in the favor of their goddess.
Yochlols are chaotic evil creatures, as are all tanar'ri. They take great pleasure in dominating other, lesser creatures. They are cruel and enjoy a good battle, exulting in the rage that fills them whenever beings defy their goddess' will. All yochlol serve Lolth and work well together. Never will one betray, endanger, or attack another. All yochlol share a telepathic bond. They take special delight in escaping the control of those who have summoned them (whom they must serve faithfully for one deed, as decreed by Lolth), and wandering free about the Prime Material Plane. Such a yochlol uses its various forms as disguises to carry out cunning ploys and evil subterfuges to turn beings to chaos and evil. Unless enemies of Lolth are present, yochlol will not engage in killing sprees or frenzies of mindless violence. Yochlol often hiss, whisper, or scream when in combat, even telling their opponents their names, in case the victim should escape. In that way, the victim knows that a particular Handmaiden somewhere out there will someday return to finish its business with the character.
- Sutherland III, David C., with Gary Gygax. Q1 - Queen of the Demonweb Pits (TSR, 1980)
- Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual II (TSR, 1983)
- Greenwood, Ed. The Drow of the Underdark (TSR, 1991)
- Baker, Rich, Tim Beach, Wolfgang Baur, Michele Carter, and Colin McComb. Planescape Monstrous Compendium Appendix II (TSR, 1995)
- Donovan, Dale. Villains' Lorebook (TSR, 1998)
- Jacobs, James, Erik Mona, and Ed Stark. Fiendish Codex I: Hordes of the Abyss (Wizards of the Coast, 2006).
- Salvatore, R.A.. The Dark Elf Trilogy: Homeland (TSR, 1998).
- Wyatt, James, and Rob Heinsoo. Monstrous Compendium: Monsters of Faerun (Wizards of the Coast, 2001).
- Monster Manual 2, 4th edition.