Sunday, April 4, 2021

DM's Workshop: The Whispering Spider


When is a spider not a spider? Leave it in a Nithian necritorium for too long, and this is what you get.....

The whispering spider is yet another of  Nithia’s attempts to create a servitor race, this one in a large, spider-like mockery of the aranea. Rather than high intelligence and affinity for magic, these creature exhibit a ferocious low cunning coupled with a venomous bite and webbing ichor that saps the will of its victims. It can be a dangerous and risky proposition to root out a whispering spider nest, as every hand that falls in the attempt is turned against the aggressors, live or dead.

Whispering spiders are large, the main body at least seven feet long, with eight spindly legs that nearly double that width. Under torchlight, they are a pasty, nearly-translucent white. But in the dark, or under darksight, they glow a pale, ghostly blue.

Their webbing gives off the same strange, pale blue werelight, some filaments so thin as to appear to be will o' wisps or swarms of fireflies. In torchlight, far from a sickly, sticky gray, whispering spider webbing has a prismatic, pearly, nearly hypnotic sheen. Its rustling-- for which the spider has been named -- sounds like a barely-understood echoing whisper. Entering an area of webbing calls for a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw to avoid becoming entangled in the thick, sticky strands. Any being so caught must make a DC 15 Wisdom save the next round or begin suffering psychic damage (as outlined below). Cuttings of webbing, properly stored (with use of an alchemy kit and a DC 15 Intelligence (Nature or Arcana) check) make for potent ingredients for various control potions, or can be added to inks used in the scribing of charm spell scrolls. 

Whispering Spider
Large magical beast, Unaligned

    •    Armor Class 16 (Natural Armor)
    •    Hit Points 42 (7d10+7)
    •    Speed 30 ft., climb 30 ft.

STR          DEX    CON        INT        WIS        CHA

15 (+2)    16 (+3)    12 (+1)    5 (-2)    11 (+0)    4 (-3)

    •    Skills: Stealth +7, Athletics + 4
    •    Senses: Blindsight 10 Ft., Darkvision 60 Ft., passive Perception 10
    •    Challenge 2 (450 XP)

    •    Spider Climb. The spider can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.
    •    Web Sense. While in contact with a web, the spider knows the exact location of any other creature in contact with the same web.
    •    Web Walker. The spider ignores movement restrictions caused by webbing.

    •    Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 8(2d4 + 3) piercing damage. The target must make a DC 18 Wisdom saving throw, taking 8 (2d4+3) points of psychic damage on a success, or become poisoned on a failure. The victim is charmed while poisoned, but only takes 2 (1d4) points of psychic damage per round. A target reduced to 0 hit points is incapacitated, and is either dragged off to become food or a zombie-like defender of the nest.
    •    Web (Recharge 5-6). Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 30/60 ft., one creature. The target is restrained by webbing. A restrained target must make a DC 15 Wisdom saving throw, taking 7 (2d6) points of psychic damage on a success, falling under the whispering spider’s charm on a failure. A charmed target is no longer restrained by the webbing, and gains the web sense and web walker traits.

As an action, the restrained target can make a DC 15 Strength check, bursting the webbing on a success. The webbing can also be attacked and destroyed (AC 15; hp 5; vulnerability to fire damage; immunity to bludgeoning, poison, and psychic damage). Note that setting the webbing ablaze inflicts as much damage to those caught in the webs.

The lucky victims of a whispering spider’s bite or webbing become food for the nest. Those that aren’t so lucky rise up 24 hours later as a swarm zombie. A whispering spider that has control over one or more swarm zombies is known as the swarm mother.

Swarm zombies have the same general appearance they did in life, save for a waxy pallor, and dim blue light flickering in their eyes. Bits and wisps of the scintillating,  bioluminescent webbing cling to them, and a thickly tangled mass trails from the base of their spine, back into the mass of webbing that is the nest. This weblike tether only allows a swarm zombie to move within 60’ of its swarm mother. A swarm mother can direct a number of hit dice of swarm zombies equal to its own hit dice.

 In addition to the usual zombie attacks, swarm zombies exhibit the following changes:

Pack Tactics swarm zombies tethered to the same swarm mother gain advantage on attack rolls against a creature if at least one other zombie is within 5 feet.

Vomitous Swarm (recharge 6): Area attack. A swarm of spiders bursts forth from the swarm zombie’s mouth, or eyes, or from any gaping wound inflicted on it, filling a 5x5 area immediately adjacent to the zombie. Those in the area of effect take 10 (4d4) points of  damage and must make a Con Save (DC 8+ the amount of damage inflicted) or be Poisoned. While poisoned, the target takes 5 (2d4) points of psychic damage, and begins to feel tingling in their extremities. A new save can be made every round, but three failed Saves in a row indicate the target is charmed by the nearest swarm mother. The poison damage drops to one hit point per round, and the target regards the swarm mother as its ally, whom it will defend at all cost.  This charm is broken when the swarm mother is defeated.

A target reduced to 0 hit points by a vomitous swarm will rise in 24 hours as a swarm zombie, unless the corpse is burned, or the poison is neutralized with the likes of a Lesser Restoration spell.

Thar she blows! On reaching 0 hit points, swarm zombies burst open, releasing a swarm of spiders in a 10x10 area.

1 comment:

  1. Nice new beastie Rob! I wonder if any of these things made their way down to Thothia, and how they might interact with Akatheti, the Night Spider, or any of the aranea over there. If made in a mockery of the aranea, then perhaps there is some history between those two races (thinking gnolls vs Traladarans).