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The Spiderlings (a Drider-like race)

Discussion in 'World Building' started by Patrick-Leigh, Aug 30, 2020.

  1. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Sage

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    So, for the flintlock fantasy story setting I'm developing, I have a race that I'm presently calling "Spiderlings." I'm open to suggestions on alternative names, since I'm not sure I like this one. I have a basic concept for Spiderlings, but I'd like some feedback to see if I'm on the right track or if there are some details that need to be tweaked. Obviously, if you have issues with spiders, this might not be the thread for you, especially since I will be using a few reference images. Anyway, let's begin. First off, what are my sources of inspiration? Well, the Drider from D&D is obviously what most people would conclude was my main source of inspiration, and while it is partly responsible for the idea of Spiderlings, the Jorogumo of Japanese folklore (pictured below) is another primary source of inspiration.

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    The myth of Arachne being transformed into a spider is another obvious source of inspiration. The core idea of Spiderlings is a race of people whose ancestors were originally humanoid in terms of physiology. However, the main theme of the Spiderlings is that while they appear to be monstrous, they are, like most real spiders, allies to people far more than enemies. They’re actually largely gentle creatures who are more fearful than fearsome.

    [​IMG]

    And, in some ways, I want them to also have a certain level of cuteness to them, at least in terms of their behavior if not their appearance.

    [​IMG]

    So, with all that established, let’s look at the origins of the Spiderlings.

    Origins of the Spiderlings

    In my story setting, there were nine original races, or Core Races, as I'm currently calling them. During a period known as the Divine War, when the gods directly fought one another, some groups of people within these nine races were transformed in various races, often with animal features being spliced into their bodies. This is how races like Centaurs, Harpies, Naga, Satyrs, etc., came to be. Spiderlings are another example of people being radically changed by the clashing wills of the gods during the Divine War.

    I'm thinking the Spiderlings were originally Elves for several reasons. Firstly, they were the race who were the most specialized in creating various types of thread for fabric, weaving textiles, and making clothes, so I feel like they are the best candidates, as a bit of a nod to the mythological origin of spiders. Secondly, Elven cultures tend to involve a lot of "weaving" together webs of political plots and intrigues, so becoming creatures that spin literal webs seems thematically appropriate. Thirdly, spiders, at least the kind that spin webs or that are ambush predators, display both cunning and patience, which is another attribute that Elves have in no small amount. The only other race I have that would be an alternative origin for the Spiderlings would be the Draconians, but they didn't specialize in textiles during the time of the Divine War the way that Elves did, so they're not as good an alternative.

    Regardless, the first Spiderlings were actually horrified by their transformations and pleaded with the gods responsible for the changes to be restored. However, undoing the changes required that all the gods involved be involved in the process, and the ones that were evil naturally refused to do anything of the sort (at least not for a very steep price.) The gods that were willing to restore the Spiderlings to their original forms could therefore only make some modifications to the first Spiderlings so their bodies functioned better and were easier to use. In other words, the best they could do was make their new bodies more bearable.

    For most of the Spiderlings, this was not enough to remove the shame they felt over their new appearances. To this day, most Spiderling cultures have strict standards of modesty regarding keeping certain parts of their bodies covered as a result. While they do not necessarily hate their own appearances, they do recognize that they do look frightening to most other races and try to be considerate of the discomfort their bodies can cause others. However, while they are a bit sensitive about their looks, Spiderlings have come to accept their existences in most other ways and have actually developed productive societies that have fostered positive trade relations with other races. It's been a long, uphill battle to do so, but presently, most other races recognize them as a civilized people, not as monstrosities.
     
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  2. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Sage

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    Physical Attributes of Spiderlings

    Since the main theme I'm trying to explore with the Spiderlings is a race that looks monstrous but is actually very civilized, I've decided that they are not like Driders in terms of the upper body being like a persons (that is, an endoskeleton rather than an exoskeleton.) Instead, they are arthropods, top to bottom. Additionally, their heads are what tend to be the most off-putting for other races because their mouths are like the mouths of spiders. I'm about to start using some reference images, so if spiders are a bit much for you, consider yourself warned.

    Spider Lower Body

    [​IMG]

    Starting with this image, a Spiderling's lower body is basically that of a spider except that their more humanoid upper half is where the eyes are located on a normal spider and the chelicera are absent. I've debated whether to include the pedipalps or not for some time, but after giving it some thought, I realized that having the pedipalps serve as an extra set of hands (albeit very crude ones) would probably be advantageous in a lot of different ways. They'd enable Spiderlings to pick up objects from the ground and pass them to the hands on their upper bodies, for example. So, those are staying, while the chelicera are being removed.

    [​IMG]

    The spinnerets on Spiderlings are very similar to what are shown here. I'm thinking the claws on the tarsus are larger and slightly articulated, so they'll basically have "toes" of a sort which assist them in climbing as well as handling objects and spinning webs. I'm not sure about their reproduction methods, so I can't say if the females have epigynum and the males have palpal bulbs or not.

    Another thing I know about the Spiderlings that applies to their upper bodies as well as their lower bodies is that, whether they’re fuzzy like tarantulas or smooth like black widows, they’re always very colorful, as illustrated by the following four images:

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    Spiderling Upper Bodies

    While the shape of a Spiderling’s upper body is basically humanoid, their heads are where they really differ. We’ll get more into that in a bit. For now, here are a few reference images that I’ll use to dig into their overall design in the upper body.

    [​IMG]

    This image is illustrative of the way I envision the arms on the upper body of Spiderlings. Though humanoid in shape, they’re still comprised of an exoskeleton, not flesh. Unlike the pedipalps, the hands would be just as effective as what people have in real life. I’m not sure of the exact number of fingers, though.

    [​IMG]

    This image is illustrative of the way I see the exoskeleton of the torso of the upper body looking on male Spiderlings. Male Spiderlings tend to have wider torsos than female Spiderlings (though females have a larger abdomen than male Spiderlings.)

    [​IMG]

    This image is illustrative of how I envision the torso of female Spiderlings looking… sort of. Spiderlings are not mammals, but their ancestors were, so I can see the torso of female Spiderlings having two nodes that resemble a humanoid woman’s breasts in terms of the shape. They don’t serve any real purpose, however. They’d just be a vestigial remnant of the Elven (or Draconian) woman from which Spiderling females are descended. I mean, if they’re going to have a humanoid torso and hands, it doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch that the shape of their chests would retain elements of their humanoid ancestors.

    In either case, I’m thinking that Spiderlings have slits along the sides of their torsos that connect to their lungs. While I’m not sure of all the details of their internal anatomy, I know that their torsos are where their primary heart and lungs are located. (There may be a secondary set in their abdomens as well.) However, these slits are only used for breathing. They cannot produce noises used in speech. More on Spiderling speech later.

    Incidentally, this image also illustrates an idea I’m considering with the Spiderlings: That their heads have horn-like spikes in the front but grow hair (or something that looks like hair) in the back, which would be yet another remnant of their Elven (or Draconian) ancestors. I’m thinking that females can grow their hair a lot longer than males while male Spiderlings have hair that’s more spikey in appearance. The colorfulness of the hair is equally vivid in both sexes.

     
  3. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Sage

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    Spiderling Heads & Mouths

    [​IMG]

    While I don’t see Spiderling heads being quite as spider-like as the one in this image, I do know that they’re mouths are more like those of spiders and that they do have eight eyes. I’m thinking their chelicerae are not as large as what you see on some spiders. I’m also conisdering that their actual mouths, which are behind the chelicerae, do have teeth, of a sort, that allows them to chew solid food. So, something a bit like what you see in the image below:

    [​IMG]

    The point is that the basic shape of a Spiderling’s head is humanoid, but the mouth and eyes are where they really diverge from that of regular humanoids. And, speaking of the eyes, I’m still not sure what to do with them. I know they have eight total, I know that at least two are on each side of the head, giving Spiderlings a much wider field of vision, and I know that they have two primary eyes in the front that are able to see better than most humanoid eyes can, not only in terms of the quality of their vision but the speed at which the process movement.

    What I’m debating is if their main set of eyes have some sort of eyelid or not. I want Spiderlings to be capable of some limited degree of facial expressions without the use of their chelicerae (which they usually keep covered behind veils.) I’m thinking that their eyes are where this is possible. Their main set of eyes can widen, narrow, squint, and mimic expressions that are used by Humanoids. The rest of their eyes, however, would remain unblinking. Alternatively, I could see their eyes changing colors to reflect their moods, or perhaps a combination of these two things. Let me know what you guys think.

    Variations in Spiderling Appearance

    As previously mentioned, Spiderlings are going to be a colorful race, but I’m thinking that there are some other ways in which they can differ from each other in terms of appearance. I’m considering that spikes are another way their bodies can have variation. Look at these examples to understand what I mean:

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    Spikes would also provide more anchoring points for strapping on packs of supplies the Spiderlings could carry on their abdomens (or seats for carrying passengers.) The point is that I think Spiderlings would probably have a lot of different things about their appearances that would make it fairly easy to tell them apart.
     
  4. Patrick-Leigh

    Patrick-Leigh Sage

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    Spiderling Speech

    Spiderlings cannot produce sounds for vocal speech. In fact, I'm thinking they're incapable of any kind of vocalizations, though they may be able to rub their legs together to produce different kinds of noises. I'm having them simulate audible speech by means of Psionic Vocalization, which is when you use Psionics to manipulate air so it generates sounds. Thus, Spiderlings can speak with other races without using Telepathy. Aside from this, I think I will have them use Telepathy quite efficiently, but I can also see them having a form of sign language that they also use. I'm considering that their manner of speech involves a lot of gesticulating, regardless. Let me know what you think of that.

    Spiderling Silk

    Spiderlings are all capable of creating silk threads. While they can use this to spin webs, I'm thinking that they mostly use it for fashioning clothes, making ropes, and a whole bunch of other things. Not only can they make silk threads with different qualities (such as some being sticky while others are not,) they can also use Psionic telekinesis to animate the threads as they produce them, allowing them to tie them into things like lassos which they can then use to catch prey or tie to objects, like tree branches, so they can rappel or climb. I'm thinking that they also use their silk to construct their homes, which are probably elaborate tents. The point is that Spiderlings use their silk in a thousand different ways.

    Spiderling Venom

    A Spiderling's bite can inject venom into another creature. I'm debating whether they actually have more than one type of venom they can use and if some of them are able to modify their venom before injecting it to change its effects. They are always immune to their own venom, regardless. I'm thinking that Spiderling venom is another of their exports and that it is very popular with Adventurers, who can use it to slay dangerous Monsters, Abominations, and other creatures that threaten civilization. (Adventurers are probably regular clients of Spiderlings, now that I think about it.)

    Spiderling Magic

    Spiderlings have innate magical abilities that are hardwired into their genetics. In addition to Psionic Vocalization, which they develop the same way that humanoid children learn how to speak, they can use Psionics to adhere to surfaces while they’re climbing, enabling them to scale even smooth, slippery surfaces that a normal spider would be unable to climb. (So, they have no problem getting out of a bathtub, in other words.) I’m thinking their bodies also generate a sort of Psionic radar that not only alerts them to threats but enables them to coordinate better while moving as a group and navigate environments without getting stuck.

    In terms of Arcane abilities, I’m thinking most Spiderlings have an innate ability to conjure up Shadow Stuff with both their hands and mouths, enabling them to shoot lines of black rope to grapple or swing even if they cannot use their natural silk to do so or spit webs that entangle a target like a net. Unlike their silk, these lines and webs only exist for an hour at the longest, as is the case for most conjured materials. They can adjust the smoothness or stickiness of the Shadow Stuff, making it either highly adhesive or slippery.

    Another Arcane ability they have is channeling Elemental Energy through their own silk, even if it is not directly connected to their bodies. As long as it is within their field of vision, they can cause a line or web to generate flames or become charged with electricity. The maximum range of this ability is probably only 10 m / 32.8 ft. or so. Additionally, they can use Light Energy to make their lines and webs invisible and some can use this effect on their entire bodies. Lastly, if they create a silk cage around themselves, they can use it to generate a protective barrier against Arcane Spells targeting them or to shield themselves against physical attacks. This is a difficult ability to master, but those Spiderlings that do tend to make for very dependable guards and escorts.


    Spiderling Culture

    Spiderlings are, as I've stated, a race that are intended to look monstrous but be civilized. My current thinking is that they are mostly peaceful, only becoming violent as a last resort and even then trying to avoid using lethal force and focusing on subduing opponents. The rest of the time, Spiderlings are generally very calm, civilized, and almost polite to a fault. I see there being a bit of a zen-like quality to their personalities, with them being almost serene in the way they behave. I think that they're also extremely hospitable, not only because of their peaceful ways but because they do depend on trade with other races to survive, so being good hosts is important to their way of life.

    I know that Spiderlings are both family oriented and group oriented. They work well as teams, have tight knit communities, and tend to tackle problems as a group rather than individually. I don't know if they're collectivists, however. I'm still researching collectivism and collectivist cultures, so I'm not quite ready to say whether they are or not. In any case, teamwork is an important part of their cultures.

    Trade, as I've said, is something that is essential to Spiderlings, so I'm thinking that they have merchant groups that go out to exchange goods with other races, take commissions, and gauge the general market. This also means that Spiderlings have considerable skills as both negotiators and diplomats. I'm considering having some of them work as arbitrators between opposing groups when they want to find a diplomatic solution but aren't making any headway. Again, this is in keeping with my monstrous appearance but peaceful lifestyle theme for the Spiderlings.

    So, that's what I've got figured out so far. What do you guys think? Do you have any other ideas for what to call these guys? Also, do you have any suggestions for their appearances and abilities? Thanks for all your feedback!
     

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