|Climate/Terrain||Jungle/Rainforest, Tropical Island|
Draabyn burst through the foliage at a dead run and tumbled out onto the bright sand of the beach. Blood pounded in his head so loudly he could not hear the waves crashing ahead of him. Exhausted, blinded by sweat and dizzy from the pain of a half dozen wounds, he gritted his teeth and struggled to his feet.
"Ahoy, sir!" came a cry from the sea, "Where away be the rest?"
Legs pumping, Draabyn stumbled across the beach like a man possessed. The white sails of the Third Wind in sight spurned him on.
"Hoist the sails, Kaedin" he screamed back at the ship, "cut the anchor now!"
"Do I hear ye right?"
"Hoist sails, man! We're leaving this cursed isle!"
"But sir, we have orders to-" his voice cut abruptly as the wind shifted. A roar. A distant thunderous roar, like an angry waterfall.. and it was getting louder. Kaedrin's mouth fell open and his eyes bulged at the spectacle before him. The jungle behind Draabyn quivered for a heartbeat and then erupted in a writhing wave of skittering legs. Kaedin stared in horror. There were thousands of them. Thousands...
A horde of hive spiders appears as a shimmering, living blanket of bodies and legs that cascades along the ground. Individual hive spiders appear as large, white, translucent arachnids. Each spider has a leg span of about a half a meter (1.5 feet) and weighs about 12 kilograms (26 pounds). They have slightly elongated, semi-translucent abdomens and four small black eyes. Hive spiders are true hive-mind creatures - that is, a single consciousness connected via telepathy and inhabiting many bodies.
This shared consciousness manifests itself as remarkable cunning and intelligence in an animal form. Hive spiders take advantage of their numbers, use clever tactics and employ strategy, distraction, traps, sneak attacks, ambushes and more. Because of the hive-mind consciousness, they share all knowledge. What one hive spider knows, all hive spiders know. Communication for them is literally instantaneous, because it is, in actuality, one mind thinking. All hive spiders work in perfect harmony and can anticipate each other perfectly. The hive spider collective consciousness is a bizarre, alien mind with radically different thought patterns. Scholars believe that may be one reason why hive spiders are so highly resistant to mind-affecting magic. Telepathic contact of any kind usually results in the telepath being mentally overloaded and a system shock that can initiate convulsions. It is somewhat like tuning into 10,000 channels at once. Some natural telepaths that approach a hive spider swarm find many of their mental abilities hampered by the unending telepathic static generated by the sheer number of "minds" involved.
Hive spiders are fast, aggressive fighters and have been known to dodge arrows. Archers that have stood against a horde report that the mass of bodies will shift in single fluid motion, forming a hole, which allows the arrow to pass through harmlessly. Like a flock of birds in flight, all spiders move and flow together. In this regard, the horde resembles a single living mass of flesh and attacks, not with individual spiders, but with undulating waves that overwhelm opponents. Victims of the horde will find themselves engulfed in spiders, choking for air and flayed alive in a storm of fangs and sharp legs. Individual spiders are capable of springing forward, delivering a nasty bite and jumping back before an average man can draw his sword. Like all true spiders, they have poison sacs. Fortunately, their poison is mild and only causes headaches and dizziness in most humanoids. Unfortunately, youre never bitten by just one Typically, enough poison is pumped into victims that they will fall to the ground helpless and weak.
For a long time, it was believed that there was only one hive spider colony. It was a tropical island some 400 kilometers south of Ithria. However, since that time, other colonies of these creatures have been found. These other colonies have been found in jungles, rain forests and similar remote, tropical, unsettled wilderness areas. It is not known how many colonies are out there in the world. Fortunately, hive spiders colonies are very rare. Scholars speculate that there are between 12 and 30 colonies in the world. However, tavern tales and gossip tend to exaggerate this number. Typically, an island supporting a hive spider colony will be between 50 and 100 square kilometers. It will always be home to other mammals, reptiles, birds and insects. Hive spiders are omnivorous and subsist on moss, lichens, seaweed, fish, birds and all manner of land animals.
The hive spiders are named so because they are eusocial creatures and fiercely territorial. They all dwell in a hive-like colony much like ants or bees. A colony will typically hold 50,000 to 100,000 hive spiders (scholars estimate). The colony is usually located near the center of the island or at the heart of a jungle. The hive itself is almost entirely underground. The exterior of the colony resembles are large, roughly circular, hill composed of dirt and rock. This hill will have dozens or even hundreds of small tunnels and caves. This is the main entrance to the colony. The heart of the colony lies directly beneath this rocky hill, but hive spider tunnels will span out beneath the ground in an intricate web. The rocky hill always has a deep trench dug about it. This trench is about 6 meters across and 6 meters deep (20 feet). The mound is about 30 meters tall (98 feet) and 20 to 30 meters broad.
Scholars believe that at the center of this hive is the hive "queen". However, this is only a theory. No one has seen such a creature. In fact, no one has ever seen the center of the hive labyrinth and returned. The hive spiders enter a frenzied state whenever an intruder penetrates the labyrinth. Whatever lies at the heart of that dark place, the hive spiders are willing to sacrifice themselves by the thousands to protect it.
Each hive spider is able to excrete a mucus resin which solidifies rapidly on contact with oxygen. This resin, combined with dirt, rocks and foliage from the surrounding flora, is used to construct the hive labyrinth. It is also used to bind captured prey. Hive spiders will often use this resin to bind opponents who have been rendered helpless by the poison. Such victims are then carried away to the hive. What horrors await those unfortunate souls are best left unspoken.
A hive spider which is captured (a difficult task) and removed from the colony will mindlessly attack anything, including the bars of its cage, until it eventually dies of self-inflicted damage. Apparently, removing a hive spider from the vicinity of the central hive severs some link which is vital to the spider's mental state and well-being.
Typically 60 to 80% of the hive spiders remain in a dormant state to conserve energy and reduce the food requirements of the colony. Dormant spiders can be roused quickly to deal with intruders.
A bad tropical storm shipwrecks the characters on an uninhabited island or unsettled tropical coastline. That night, one of their number (a ship crew mate, an NPC henchman, etc) is dragged off, kicking and screaming, into the underbrush by several huge ghostly white spiders.
After examining the remains of a hive spider brought back from an expedition, a wizard determines that the resin excreting organ of the spiders could potentially have fantastic alchemical value. He hires a small group to travel to the island, captured a large number of hive spiders and then bring them back to civilization.
The horde is on the move. For reasons unknown, several thousand hive spiders (amassed in a huge ball and riding the drowned bodies of the hive spiders on the bottom) are migrating from one island to the mainland. While the characters are staying at a small town on the coast, several thousand hive spiders wash ashore in the pre-dawn light and begin moving cross country, toward town, killing and eating everything in their path.
This website was last updated October 5, 2021. Copyright 1990-2021 David M. Roomes.