Last Updated on January 22, 2023
One of the most famous canonical characters in Dungeons and Dragons is Drizzt Do’urden, the drow ranger who turned his back on the dark elves. With the success of that franchise, the drow were given new life, and their existence was cemented into DnD lore that persists to this day.
In short, the original elven gods and goddesses had a civil war among themselves and their elven followers. The drow were the elves who followed the elven goddess Lolth, who fell from her lofty station to become a Neutral Evil goddess of death and darkness.
She is called the spider queen, and she implements an active rule over her people. One of the things she often does is transport powerful drow to her lair and tests them according to some unknown scale. If the tester fails, they are transformed into the monstrous drider and sent back to the elves as a reminder of how Lolth’s gifts are both powerful and terrifying.
This post is all about the drider. We will start by digging into the stat block and what it really means on the playing field. From there, we will go into the typical tactics of a drider and what players should do if they are unfortunate enough to be caught in their web.
We will end it all with a DM’s guide, offering tips and suggestions to maximize the potential of the drider, finishing up with a campaign outline that will feature the drider in all its chittering glory.
What Is the Drider in DnD 5e?
The Drider is a Large, CR 6 Monstrosity that is a tauric combination of a spider and a drow. It excels in all forms of combat and spellcasting.
Chances are good the DM just dropped a drider into your story and you are sitting in your chair right now trying not to spill your Mountain Dew because you’re shaking so hard. Good thing you clicked on this post! You might as well bookmark Black Citadel — we’ve got you covered for everything.
Let’s look at the stat block.
Large Monstrosity, Chaotic Evil
- Armor Class: 19 (natural armor)
- Hit Points: 123 (13d10 + 52)
- Speed: 30 ft., climb 30 ft.
- STR 16 (+3), DEX 16 (+3), CON 18 (+4), INT 13 (+1), WIS 14 (+2), CHA 12 (+1)
- Skills: Perception +5, Stealth +9
- Senses: Darkvision 120 ft., Passive Perception 15
- Languages: Elvish, Undercommon
- Challenge: 6 (2,300 XP)
- Proficiency Bonus: +3
Fey Ancestry. The drider has advantage on saving throws against being charmed, and magic can’t put the drider to sleep.
Innate Spellcasting. The drider’s innate spellcasting ability is Wisdom (Spell Save DC 13). The drider can innately cast the following spells, requiring no material components:
- At will: dancing lights
- 1/day each: darkness, faerie fire
Spider Climb. The drider can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.
Sunlight Sensitivity. While in sunlight, the drider has disadvantage on attack rolls, as well as on Wisdom (Perception) checks that rely on sight.
Web Walker. The drider ignores movement restrictions caused by webbing.
Multiattack. The drider makes three attacks, either with its longsword or its longbow. It can replace one of those attacks with a bite attack.
Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 2 (1d4) piercing damage plus 9 (2d8) poison damage.
Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) slashing damage, or 8 (1d10 + 3) slashing damage if used with two hands.
Longbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +6 to hit, range 150/600 ft., one target. Hit: 7 (1d8 + 3) piercing damage plus 4 (1d8) poison damage.
The first thing we can see at the very top is that this monster has a high armor class, has a boatload of HP, and can climb and move with equal ease. Its stats are in the positive range across the board, and it has bonuses to stealth and perception and has the best kind of darkvision there is.
Already, we can see this is a boss-level monster for Tier 1 adventurers, and if played correctly, it can also be a boss monster for Tier 2. Before even getting into the actions and abilities, this thing is powerful.
It combines the abilities of the drow and what you would expect from a spider. It has fey ancestry and innate spellcasting as a drow does. In addition, it can move freely on any and all webs and can spider climb on vertical surfaces and upside down. The last place you want to come into contact with these is in the Underdark where the tunnels will turn this into a 3-dimensional battle.
It excels in melee combat, where it can interchange its weapon and powerful bite attacks. However, it isn’t limited to that. The drider is capable of wielding ranged weapons just as easily.
Its movement abilities mean that the Drider will attempt to approach your party in stealth and establish a secure position from which to pepper you with ranged attacks before closing in for melee.
Expect their spellcasting to be used before the battle begins, distracting you with dancing lights or hiding their position with darkness. When you notice your skin starts glowing from faerie fire, you can guess that you are about to get jumped and the driders are in their best possible position. From there it is simply a matter of shooting at your spellcasters and archers until they stop shooting back.
The first thing you should do is somehow counter the assistive magic they are wielding. Use Dispel the darkness or faerie fire to give yourself a chance to see what is going on.
From there, the driders can still see you from 120 feet, so you’ll want to make sure you can close the distance to put them within your own darkvision, or even throw torches, create bonfires, or throw flashbangs in order to pinpoint their location. After that, put the tanks in front of the ranged attackers, and slowly move your way into position to start changing your defense to offense.
Offensively, you’ll definitely want to have someone close into melee in order to give the rogue of the party a chance to get in a sneak attack. However, that is a very dangerous place to be. Don’t go in unless you have boosted your defenses as much as possible.
The drider’s lowest saves are Intelligence and Charisma, so make sure to use as many enchantment or illusion spells you can to attack, or at least distract, these powerful foes.
If the driders are using webbing at all to assist their movement, consider burning it. The web spell states that webs are flammable, dealing damage to any creature that starts its turn in a burning web space.
This provides your best choice for dealing damage to the drider since there is no saving throw allowed. Furthermore, spells like control flames, create bonfire, produce flame, and firebolt will ignite the webs. Granted, so will a tossed torch, so…. Burn it down.
Driders are quite specific to drow, the Underdark, and Lolth; you will be able to throw them into any of those adventures freely.
Our hope in this next bit is to give you, oh faithful and clever DM, a new way to think about driders and then see where you take it.
Driders are obviously great in the Underdark where they can use the three-dimensional environment to their advantage, stay out of the sunlight, and be close to their drow strongholds.
However, when out ranging, they can be in dense forests where the sun rarely hits the ground, they can burrow into the sand of a desert day and then skitter across the ground at night like a trapdoor spider, or they can be hidden in the hold of a pirate ship out of the sun.
Environmental features such as chasms, webs, and ceilings will add more difficulty to scale your encounter properly.
Driders will naturally fit with drow of any type. They can also make for a good hit squad, traveling where normal drow would find difficult. If you want driders to work with any other type of monster or race, they will need to be acting either as emissaries of their larger drow community or as lone hunters following the will of Lolth.
Consider what drow are interested in and then what can the drider’s unique social and power position do to help. The story seed below will serve as an example.
Story Seed – The Neogi Connection for Tier III Adventurers
The drow economy relies on a steady supply of wealth flowing into it from commerce and from raiding. One of the drows’ greatest economies is the slave industry. The neogi, another group of monsters that rely on the slave industry, are natural allies in this shared interest. Therefore, the drow have sent a contingent of driders to assist the neogi in collecting a glut of slaves for an upcoming festival of sacrifice.
On the surface, an entire village has gone missing, and the PCs either discover the village or are sent to investigate. In the ruins, they find the tracks of giant spiders. They find that massive amounts of poisonous spiders have moved in, and the only bodies they find are covered in spider bites and bloated with poison.
A high investigation check will reveal the ledger of whoever keeps the records of the town. It says a gnome merchant arrived with a wagon of toys and trinkets for the children. After doing a day’s business, he made an offer to the village head for any of the children themselves. The village head refused to trade, and the merchant left the following dawn.
The PCs must track the merchant with a combination of survival and persuasion in order to find physical and verbal clues from the neighboring townsfolk.
When found, the gnome will reveal, either under duress or while inebriated, that he has a deal with “certain peoples” and can get a fair amount of scrap for scouting a village for them. The PCs can either force the gnome to comply or attempt to join with him. Either way, he will arrange another village abduction that the PCs can participate in.
On the night of the abduction, a strange airship with no open deck will descend from the sky and shoot out anchor lines around the perimeter of the village in a radius of several hundred yards. A handful of umber hulks will drop from a hatch in the bottom. From the top of the spherical ship, an appropriate number of drider will spider climb along the anchor lines to guard the perimeter and prevent anyone from escaping.
Be sure to dedicate one entire session to this encounter. It is a prolonged battle with very little downtime. They will have to create time for short rest — don’t provide a convenient one.
From here, the PCs will either take on the entire crew of the ship or surrender and try to escape while imprisoned within the ship. Either way, fill the encounter with neogi, umber hulks, and driders.
The inside of the ship is composed entirely of twisting tunnels designed for creatures that can spider climb and have no need for a light source. Make sure to include a giant slave pit and feeding ground where they eat the slaves less likely to turn a profit. There is also a pit for the umber hulks who are not allowed to roam the ship freely.
If they succeed, great! They have saved a village and gotten a spelljammer ship. If they fail, they are either dead or on their way to a drow stronghold as slaves intended for sacrifice.
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I played the game a lot as a kid, back in first edition. Over the past few years since 5e was released, I’ve really started getting back into it. Currently, I run a campaign online for some friends and my brothers, and we also play a side-sesh just to mix things up.