Sunday 27 January 2013

Arachnopolis Rex

Spiders don't socialise. Spiders don't work together. Spiders don't hunt as packs. Spiders don't use tools. Spiders don't organise large structures*.

Because if they did, we'd all be dead.

In a high-threat, low-energy environment, life finds a way to survive. It probably began small. Spiders do build after all. They even make simulated spiders. They are master engineers. All it took was one useful co-operation to start the trend.

These spiders formed a hive. An amalgamation of silk and bones and scraps of adventurers flesh. The hive they made was spider-shaped. A decoy-spider made to scare and distract. But predators can't stay in one place. The hive had to move. So the hive learnt how. Slowly at first, then quickly and with size.

Arachnopolis Rex is a highly organised hive of spider species symbiotically linked.

You will mistake it for a spider at first. Vast, white, gleaming and slow. Blind and stumbling. Without the spiders expected alien grace. The small hives are dog-sized. No upper limit to their growth is known. The body is a shell of silk. A close glance shows the spider crew beneath the netted skin. A whirlwind of dark forms counter-spiralling like autumn leaves in an alley-gale. The mega-structure is slow. The life that drives it runs. Bones are used, and wood and any available thing to brace the pseudo-skeleton and give it strength. It's fragile still. A handy blow will carve out chunks. Even on its own, wandering through abandoned caverns in search of prey, the meta-spider is in constant repair. Expendable spinnerets are wrung dry keeping it in shape. The used up bodies are eaten or incorporated into the corpus.

The over-spiders eyes are shining spider-backs. It has no eyes. The things you thought they were are black, shimmering, vaguely-iridescent thoraxes. Eight large jumping spiders. Curled up and prepared in just the places where its eyes would be. As the automiton moves into the light, just as you begin to realise what it actually is, they leap. It's eyes jump at you trailing silken thread. Then more attack.

No poison, not yet. Arachnopolis Rex needs energy to move. It's legs are jointed with suspension-cord. Like puppet-wires converging in its core. Inside the thorax spindle-spiders pull and twist, jerking the legs in memorised moves. Complex evolved cybernetic feedbacks maintain the stride. It cannot climb as spiders climb, they hoist it up instead. Pioneer teams of mountaineer-spiders cloud up the slope and slowly pull it up. They lower it the same way.

The reason for the spiders initial boarding-leap is not to kill you. It's to tie you in. The puppet-cords attach and link you up. The silent silk pulleys and levers of bone feed back the tension through the line. If the initial projectile-grapple attack succeeds, add your own attack bonus to that of Arachnopolis. Escape or fight, your own movements are feeding the creature energy to attack you.

And then the poison. Black-widow helix-linked micro-hives in shapes of fangs. A scaffolding of black encrusting borrowed bone from other forms of life. The fangs flow with mass-produced communal-venom. They stab and spit and blind.

The body is easy to damage, difficult to kill. Any part can be repaired. Much of the structural silk is sticky (there are actual flies in there, a handy protein-bonus for the hive) so blades may not come free. In addition to which, every gouge bleeds deadly spiders out. They are the blood-stream of this beast. A severed head fountains tarantulas.

When the giga-spider kills it takes you all. Your body foetus-wrapped and drained of blood. Your bones and possessions scattered and re-used with no regard to form. It's legs may be reinforced with femur-bones, scabbards, swords or ten-foot-poles. Its teeth may be daggers discoloured with an endless venom flow, or a predators recovered incisors, or fossil-shards discovered in the rock, or tiny stalactites. It may trail parchment in spiderweb-rags. Its skin may be the pages of a book. A Mage's handwritten spells fading under the weave.

There's probably some skulls in there because fuck it why not? Maybe the meta-spider has spider-slyle markings made of stolen gems and bits of skull, whatever it can find. Gold teeth and marriage-rings in arachnid predator-warning signs on its lumbering back to warn off Lamenters and Igneous Wrath.

*I have been informed by Scrap Princess that spiders actually do all of these things. I must assume that our rule of this world will not be a long one.


  1. Yay for spiders!
    Also there is real world spiders that do all the things listen in the first sentence

    1. God dammn it, I just checked and you are right. I found these with barely a google

      I don't know whether to feel embarrassed of sort of half-vindicated. Spider-mecha cannot be far away.

      But I couldnt find any tool-using spiders?

    2. Sorry on that late reply, the most definite example of a tool use by a spider would be trapdoor spiders, the trapdoor they make is not just web but also bits of stick , and leaf , and needs to be able to protect them from predators, fit seamlessly into the hole, as well as be effortless to open.

      Some biologist don't define something as a tool if it is made from the creatures own body. In this definition webs are out. Webs however are used as flying devices, nets, snares, bolas, chemical mimics, spray adhesive, an extension of the spiders own senses, a safety line, housing, foreplay, nursery's and an underwater breathing device.
      The last one uses trapped bubbles to allow the spider to hunt underwater like a complete fuckhead. If a bubble is a tool is debatable , (dolphins and whales make bubble nets for example, and it is question if that counts as tool use) but if it is , the diving spider is a tool user in this regard.

      In some species of spider , the male spiders will throw smaller male spiders into the females web, and then mate during or after her feasting.

      Again , if using a smaller spider in this way counts as a tool, is debatable.

      BUt that's what I was thinking of when I said they were tool users