|The Draped Sword|
|Divine Rank||2E/3E/4E: Dead God
5E: Quasi-Deity/Hero Goddess
|Portfolio||3E: Deception, Humiliation, Ambush, Assassination
5E: Assassination, Illusion, Lies
|Domains||3E: Chaos, Luck, Trickery
|Home Plane||Prime Material Plane|
|Worshippers||Drow outcasts, Rakes, Malcontents, Assassins, Illusionists|
Zinzerena is the only other non-evil member of the Dark Seldarine. Known as The Hunted and The Princess of the Outcasts, she is the Goddess of Chaos and Assassinations, whose faithful are encouraged to use their skills at murder in order to tear down the tyranny of Lolth's rule.
Originally born a mortal drow, Zinzerena's mother had to hide her daughter in secret to keep her from becoming a sacrifice to Lolth after her daughter revealed a natural talent as an Illusionist. Whilst in hiding, she honed her magical, stealth and combat skills and became an assassin of legendary prowess - just how legendary is hard to keep straight, as her doctrines are passed down exclusively through word of mouth and so every teller claims she originated from their home region. But, eventually, she developed such a reputation for merciless skill and efficacy that Keptolo decided to sponsor her towards godhood. In true drow anarchist fashion, Zinzerena stole a chunk of Keptolo's own divine strength to boost her power, and then fled Keptolo's wrath. This ultimately led her to Menzoberranzan in the wake of the Time of Troubles, where Lolth attacked and killed her in order to subsume Zinzerena's divine attributes... at least, that's one version of the tale; it's entirely possible that Zinzerena has merely been banished from Toril and still roams other worlds, aching to strike against her hated rival.
An alternate version of the story, appearing in "Drow of the Underdark", claims that she spontaneously ascended on her own without needing Keptolo's aid. Similar to the other myth, it portrays her as a mortal assassin whose success rate caused her own people to begin worshipping her as a fledgling goddess of murder. However, she was betrayed by a client who had ostensibly hired her to kill a rival, trapping her with web golems. She bragged that she had become entirely illusionary, immune to capture, and when her captors ordered their golems to rend her asunder, they found no body within her clothes. Immediately after Zinzerena's alleged death, drow everywhere gained their innate powers over light and darkness for the first time. This version doesn't openly describe her as a deity, but offers the possibility of it.
5th edition presents a third version of her origin, claiming that she is a daughter of Lolth who was spirited away and concealed behind illusions from her divine mother. Sadly, it doesn't elaborate on this backstory at all.
She appears as an incredible agile female drow rogue, wearing an enchanted cloak that offered her various protective abilities, a mask, and a magical shortsword that secreted paralyzing venom. She also carries a black-handled crop that could be used to knock people senseless, or discharge wild magic, functioning as a Wand of Wonder.
The cloak and the sword come from her most famous tale, in which she encounters a slaad and a beholder, then hides and watches as the two monsters fight each other, springing out at just the right moment to kill the survivor before it can think to defend itself. From their loot she took her iconic gear. Some versions of the tale claim that these creatures were minions of Keptolo, and the items she stole were gifts of the Exalted Consort, thus weaving the tale of her greatest victory together with that of her greatest betrayal and her apotheosis to the ranks of the divine.
Zinzerena's anarchistic goals and hatred of Lolth make her popular with the drow commoners, but outcast amongst the establishment. Her faithful come from all walks of life, but all share in common a rebellious spirit and a desire for change, and thus whether they are dissidents in disguise or outright outcasts, they wish to tear down what Lolth has forged. Her clerics typically multiclass as fighters or rogues - ironically, despite her association with illusion magic, it's never suggested that her following has much popularity amongst illusionists. "On Hallowed Ground" states that she's particularly popular amongst the Revolutionary League, who find her anarchistic callings a perfect mesh for their own.
Zinzerena's followers believe in the value of cruelty, stealth, misdirection, and survival by any means necessary.
5th edition tweaked her by making her the drow goddess of illusion magic, a position in part shared by Malyk (god of arcane and wild magic), often depicted as her brother or lover (or both). But whereas Malyk is associated with sorcerers and particularly Wild Mages, Zinzerena is associated with wizards, particularly illusionists. For this reason, worship of Zinzerena is tolerated. However, arcane magic is looked down upon as a "weaker" magic in the drow theocracy, and thus female drow are discouraged from worshipping her, as wizardry is seen as something only males should do. In fact, even a rumor of being a wizard can be deadly for a female drow's reputation. But... wizardly magic is such a useful tool that many ambitious females study it all the same, establishing secret alliances with Zinzerena's cult in order to further their studies without being found out.
Amazingly, despite this, the Tome of Foes didn't officially give her the Arcana domain, leaving her with just Trickery! Most reasonable DMs would agree that an Arcana Cleric of Zinzerena makes perfect sense.
"Raise yourself up by bringing others down. Don't reveal your strength, or your hatred, until your victim is helpless. Don't strike until you have the advantage; the only fair fight is the one you win. Once the trap is sprung, make time to gloat before the kill. The legs of the spider are made to be broken."
First appearing in "Monster Mythology", her migration from her home world of Oerth to Faerun was detailed in "On Hallowed Ground", whilst her death was detailed in "Demihuman Deities". She received a 3rd edition writeup in the article "Vault of the Drow" in volume 14 of the Living Greyhawk Journal, which first appeared in print for Dragon Magazine #298, but was also mentioned in the late 3e sourcebook "Drow of the Underdark", where an alternate version of her ascension myth was presented.
5th edition brought her back and made her a full-fledged member of the Dark Seldarine in "Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes".