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Spider-kin, Arachnotaur

by James Mishler

I posted this critter in the SC/RS folder yesterday; thought I might drop it in here as well, as it could well be encountered in the Old World more likely than the New World...

Spider-Kin, Arachnotaur

Climate/Terrain: Temperate and tropical forest or subterranean
Frequency : Very Rare
Organisation : Clan
Activity Cycle : Any
Diet : Omnivore
Intelligence : Average (8-10)
Treasure : M, Q (B)
Alignment : Chaotic (3% Good, 7% Neutral, 90% Evil)
No. Appearing : 2-12 (20-80)
Armour Class : 7
Movement : 12, Wb 12
Hit Dice : 3+1
THAC0 : 17
No. of Attacks : 1
Damage/Attack : 1d4 (Bite) + Poison; or webbing; or by weapon
Spec. Attacks : Poison, webbing, possible spell use
Spec. Defences : Possible spell use
Magic Resist. : Nil
Size : L (6' long; 5' tall)
Morale : Steady (12)
XP Value : Normal: 420
Sorcerer or Priestess (3+1HD): 650
Wizard-King or Priest-Queen (5+1HD): 1,400

Arachnotaurs have the upper body of a human and the lower body of a large spider.

The arachnotaurs lower body resembles a pony-sized giant spider, usually very hairy and either black or brown in coloration. The spider body conforms in form to a normal spiders abdomen, thorax and eight legs. Each leg is about four to five feet long; two spinnerets are located at the end of the abdomen. The human torso sprouts from the section of the thorax at which the head would usually be found on a spider.

The upper torso and head resemble that of a human, with copper coloured skinned and black hair (body hair is sparse on the human portion; very few arachnotaurs can grow beards). Their eyes are usually human appearing except for those who can become sorcerers or priests; these specimens have eight eyes, similar to those of the aranea species of spider (four small, motion detecting eyes and four larger, human-like eyes, two facing forward and one facing each side). Arachnotaurs have very prominent if human appearing fangs.

Arachnotaurs speak Common and their own language, a descendant of an Oltec dialect (with many aranea borrowing words). Arachnotaur Sorcerers also speak a mystic tongue, related to their native language (which linguists may with difficulty recognise as being derived from the language of the wizards of Herath of the Savage Coast); Priestesses do not speak the mystic tongue normally, though they do learn it for informational purposes. The arachnotaur mystic tongue has a written form. Combat: Arachnotaurs prefer to avoid combat when they are not in their own territories, but fight fiercely whenever their homes and families are threatened. They prefer to fight where they can use the terrain to their advantage; as they can easily move in their own webs or along walls and ceilings, they naturally prefer terrain that utilises these abilities to the maximum. Arachnotaurs prefer to use swords, daggers, lassos, nets and blowguns (needles and daggers may be treated with their own venom, though swords are not); they will attempt to capture foes if at all possible, rather than slay them outright (captured foes are generally tortured, then kept alive in webbing for a period before becoming the centrepiece of a victory feast). Arachnotaurs almost never wear any Armour, as it may inhibit their ability to move along walls and in their webbing.

Arachnotaurs have two natural attacks, their bite and their webbing. Arachnotaur venom causes no extra damage on the round injected, but if the saving throw is failed, it will cause damage equal to that caused by the initial bite every round for the following 1d4 rounds. During the period the venom is running its course a victim will be incapacitated, being unable to attack and only defending at -4 penalty to armour class. Damage from multiple bites is cumulative, though the Armour class penalty is not. Arachnotaur venom can be placed on weapons when treated with arachnotaur saliva (thus, it is usually impossible for any but arachnotaurs to utilise the venom; otherwise it becomes non-poisonous on contact with air). Venom used on blowgun darts or needles will cause 1d4 damage per round for 1d4 rounds; there is enough venom in one "injection" to treat 3 blowgun darts or one dagger. An arachnotaur can inject venom up to three times each day.

All mature arachnotaurs can spin webs from the spinnerets on their spider abdomen. These webs have a range of 40', and can entangle an opponent with a successful to hit roll. An arachnotaur web strand can be cut with 2 or more points of cutting damage inflicted in a single blow or can be broken by a successful "open doors" roll. When opponents are outnumbered arachnotaurs will often work in concert to capture single opponents in multiple strands. An arachnotaur can "shoot" up to three web strands per day (whether or not a hit is successful, a strand will stick to anything in its path and remain an obstacle).

A few arachnotaurs are capable of becoming either wizards or priests (evil clans will have Sorcerers, good and neutral clans will have Priestesses). There will be one sorcerer or priestess per ten members of a clan; any individual group of eight or more will have a sorcerer or priestess leader. There will be one Sorcerer- King or Priestess-Queen per clan. Average Sorcerers and Priestesses have 3+1 HD and the spellcasting abilities equal to a 3rd level wizard or priest; Kings and Queens have 5+1 HD and the spellcasting abilities of 5th level wizards or priests. Some few are able to rise even further in level (up to 14th level wizard or 9th level priest), though normal Sorcerers and Priestesses will rarely be above 3rd level in ability. Habitat/Society: Arachnotaurs build their lairs in the deepest and darkest sections of temperate and tropical forest; some clans may live in large cavern complexes underground. An arachnotaur clan consists of 40 to 80 adults, evenly divided among males and females; in addition to the adults, there will also be a number of non-combatant young equal to one half the adult population. A few clans keep large spiders as pets, though they are rarely trained in any guardian capacity; some Sorcerer-Kings may have watch spiders in their treasure rooms or guarding their laboratories.

While arachnotaurs are fairly uniformly chaotic in nature (vis a vis the rest of the world), their morality may otherwise vary according to clan. An arachnotaur clan will all be predominantly of one moral alignment; good and neutral clans will be led by the Priestesses of Yehm (Korotiku), while evil clans will be led by Sorcerers (who may or may not revere fiends and Immortals of the Sphere of Entropy, notably Enebaan (Masauwu) and the Dark Mother (Hel)). Regardless of alignment all arachnotaur clans are reclusive and attempt to avoid all contact with other races; as they have in the past been considered monsters and beasts by other intelligent races, they return the favour several fold. The evil clans and some neutral clans will not at all be above using other intelligent races as food. The Yehm clans and the Sorcerous clans are inimical toward each other, and usually attack on site. Ecology: Arachnotaurs are omnivorous, though they do prefer fresh meat (or rather, meat well fermented on the web, so to speak). The Yehm clans do not eat intelligent beings, but many of the Sorcerous clans consider humans and demihumans to be delicacies. Arachnotaurs are usually the dominant species in the region they inhabit; they compete with other forest races for space. Arachnotaurs will rarely inhabit forests that are home to elves or fairy races (some few Yehm clans have been known to cooperate with Chaotic Neutral Druids in the past, however). Arachnotaurs are sworn enemies of the aranea race of spider-kin; they also have a special hatred for the Wizards of Herath (arachnotaurs can detect an aranea even in human or demihuman form). Arachnotaur inhabited forests tend to be dark, brooding and overgrown; the terrain is remoulded according to arachnotaur concepts of defence and aesthetics, replete with webs and other ambush points.

Arachnotaurs are not a naturally evolved race. It is believed that they were created centuries ago in emulation of the Manscorpions of the Savage Coast; some believe that they were created by the Wizards of Herath in ancient experiments. If so, the wizards decided that they were an unworthy race, and led a crusade against them; the race is believed to be extinct on the Savage Coast, though some may still be found in deep caverns. Arachnotaur clans are known to inhabit the Ugly Woods of the Alphatian Kingdom of Blackheart and the Dark Wood of Hule; some reports from colonists in the Hinterlands indicate that arachnotaurs may have spread to the southern continent as well.