Meet the Creepers
As you might expect, the Empire of Venom & Silk storyworld is full of spiders. But while they’re all giant spiders, there are actually several different types of giant spiders stomping around and ruling the place. Thanks to the heroes of the Patreon, here are the most commonly-found types:
The most common of the invaders are called “stalkers” and make up the mass of the spider army. Stalkers are the size of lions, and commonly travel in large groups. While their intelligence is only slightly above that of an animal, stalkers are excellent hunters. They have exceptional eyesight, use pack tactics, and can overpower a man with their sheer strength. Fortunately for their prey, stalkers can’t run as fast as humans can sprint, and have been known to lose interest in prey they can no longer see.
The spiders called “striders” stand about 12 feet tall on long, spindly legs. They are fast-moving and nimble, and tougher than their thin frames would suggest. Striders are intelligent, and often found in charge of military and logistical operations. On the battlefield, they command swarms of stalkers. In the occupied lands, they oversee the slave population and ensure proper production.
A possible sub-species of the striders, “collectors” have a tangle of prehensile tendrils they can uncoil from beneath their abdomens and with which they can pick up people, objects, or even stalker spiders. Some of these tendrils have barbs at their ends that inject a paralyzing venom. Collectors are known to step over people, paralyze them, then haul them away with their tendrils.
Physically similar to the striders, “weavers” have distinct, bright coloration. While the other spiders may be able to spin webs, weavers specialize in doing so. Their webs cover the occupied cities, and provide homes for the invaders. When humans need to be secured for transportation, or a human-occupied dwelling needs to be locked down, weavers are there to help with their webs.
Weavers who are gifted in magic are called “spell-spinners.” They use their webs to form mystic symbols that power their magic, and shape enchanted webs to create arcane artifacts. Spell-spinners seek out Milk of the Earth, and are rumored to use it to perform perverse experiments in the occupied lands. There are far fewer spell-spinners than any other type of spider, but they appear to be the leaders of the invasion.
These enormous, hair-covered spiders stand at least 30 feet tall and serve the invaders by transporting prisoners, raw materials, and arachnid troops to where they’re most needed. Their cargo is packed into webbed baskets that hang from the spiders’ sides, and passengers cling to the beast’s underside or ride on top. Titans are slow-moving and slow-witted. Most need either a weaver to sit on its shoulder and drive it, or a specially-marked guide spider on the ground for it to follow; without either, a titan is likely to get lost or simply stop moving. Nevertheless, the creature’s size make up for its disadvantages. Once this behemoth starts moving, it’s virtually unstoppable.
The riders of Ahbiz were once human. Now they are battle-thralls: soulless creatures swaddled in silks and armor, wielding swords and spears against those who should be their allies. These thralls ride pony-sized spiders called “war-mounts,” which control their actions. War-mounts are biologically joined to their riders by thin cables of webbing inserted into the thralls’ spines. War-mounts are fast, with thick abdominal carapaces, which make them brutally effective cavalry.
The “mind-riders” are about the size of a human head, with stunted legs and oversized fangs. They use their legs to attach themselves to a human’s back, then use their fangs to penetrate their victim’s brain. Through this connection, they create a mental link between themselves and their host. Some mind-riders totally dominate their hosts, turning them into slaves with no will of their own. Others communicate and negotiate with their hosts, allowing the humans to exchange their life for their freedom.
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