|Headquarters||Ghetto of Foreigners|
House Tormtor is, as of 592 Common Year and at least until 597 CY, first ranked among the drow houses of Erelhei-Cinlu. These houses refer to themselves as if they were extended families, but they're actually alliances between families cemented by ceremonies of adoption (Underdark (2010), 66).
The majority of Tormtor's warriors are assigned the duty of patrolling the walls and defending the gates of Erelhei-Cinlu. This duty is demanding enough that the house has been forced to give part of it to House Despana, leaving them indebted to that house while Tormtor invests more of its resources into magical research. They hope to soon replace the warriors of Despana with mercenaries or loyal members of House Tormtor rather than continue to be beholden to a rival.
Tormtor is traditionally dominant over the Ghetto of Foreigners in the city proper, although they have their own estates across the Pitchy Flow.
In 576 CY, Tormtor was allied with House Eilservs in seeking to expand its power over the world of the surface. The other houses sought to use the priestesses of Lolth to bring Eilservs and Tormtor back in line, but Eclavdra convinced the two houses to turn from Lolth entirely and instead embrace the worship of the Elder Elemental God. At the time, Tormtor was ranked seventh among Erelhei-Cinlu's noble houses, but it has risen rapidly in power in the years since. The house of Eilservs was disgraced and exiled after an adventuring party including Frush O'Suggill assaulted the Vault of the Drow and ruined their plans for ascension. Tormtor, as the lesser house, returned to the worship of Lolth and was largely spared. During the Greyhawk Wars, the drow of house Tormtor distinguished themselves in their campaigns in Geoff and Sterich, and after their conquests they pressed to be recognized as first among the houses. Their chief rivals for this claim were the drow of House Kilsek, who were once the greatest enemies of House Eilservs and cited Kilsek's long loyalty to Lolth as justification for their right to rule. In response, House Tormtor betrayed Lolth again, allying with the newly militant faith of Kiaransalee. In return for this alliance, Erehe, consort of Tormtor's ruler Verdaeth, helped lock the Wand of Orcus away in Agathion. Kiaranasalee drowned Erehe in the River Styx, but allowed Verdaeth to resurrect him, without his former memories. Convinced the other noble houses held the secret of restoring his memories, Verdaeth started a war.
In this war, remembered as the Priestess Wars, Tormtor was allied with houses Everhate and Aleval, who saw the chance for greater status if Tormtor achieved victory. Kilsek, for their part, allied themselves with Houses Despana, Noquar, and Godeep, who all remained loyal to Lolth. Githyanki mercenaries allied themselves with the Tormtor faction and illithids allied themselves with Kilsek's faction. The war finally ended when Lolth herself intervened at the request of Eclavdra. The price of this focus of her divine attention was the loss of the Spider Queen's territories in Geoff and Sterich, while House Kilsek was punished with exile. The House of Tormtor was punished by forcing the chief consort Erehe to undergo a test, at the end of which he was transformed into a hideous half-spider creature (either a drider or a spiderleg horror). This loss of the drow for whose love the war had begun was the price the newly repentant House Tormtor was forced to pay for retaining superiority over the other noble houses.
For nearly seven years (from 585 CY to 592 CY) the head of House Tormtor, Mistress Verdaeth, was without a chief consort, but by 597 CY she had recently found a replacement. With her position as greatest of the city's matriarchs considered secure, Verdaeth began expanding her influence once more into the surface world, buying control of merchants and politicians there (Drow of the Underdark, page 192).
In Fourth Edition
According to the 4th edition sourcebook Underdark, Mistress Verdaeth began pursuing magical research intended to reclaim the lost drow city of Erenira, which according to legend was the first city the drow founded upon arrival in the Underdark. Her rituals soon led to her leading the house, with great notoriety, away from the worship of Lolth once again and into the control of Tharizdun in his guise as the Elder Elemental Eye. In response, Houses Despana and Xaniqos allied to destroy them. After Tormtor's fall, it was replaced by the fanatical House Zhiq'nah, whose dedication to wiping out cultists of the Elder Elemental Eye brought them to glory. The few survivors of Tormtor ended up scattered in other drow cities, working covertly in other drow houses or, in the case of the notorious priestess Nalva Dhaunel, continuing to serve the Cult of the Elder Elemental Eye.
It's impossible to give a precise Common Year date for these events, as the default setting for 4th edition products is no longer Oerth. Some 4th edition books (Tomb of Horrors, Demonomicon) are written as if they took place a century after events such as Return to the Tomb of Horrors and Savage Tide, so they might have happened as late as 697 CY, or as early as 600 CY, which would be the date if 4th edition continued the one Common Year advancement for every real-world publication year established by Dungeon Magazine and the Living Greyhawk campaign.
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- Gygax, Gary, David C. Sutherland III, David Cook, and Jeff Grubb. Queen of the Spiders. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1986.
- Heinsoo, Rob, and Andy Collins. Underdark. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2010.
- Marmell, Ari, Anthony Pryor, Robert J. Schwalb, and Greg A. Vaughan. Drow of the Underdark. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2007.