Inspired by a Facebook post by Joe Pizzirusso in the 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons group, here comes two special abilities for more scientifically accurate giant spiders. If you want more information about the discovery of a new species of tarantula, check out this NatGeo article. Also, this is not the first time I’ve visited monstrous arachnids. Check out these older posts:
* The Spiders from Mars, monstrous foes for Fate Accelerated Edition.
* Plague of Spiders, a terrifying Third Magnitude spell for Barbarians of Lemuria.
* The Pholcids of Orgimchak, magical spiders for Swords & Wizardry.
* Day 17: My Animal/Vermin for assorted spider facts.
But enough of that. Giant spiders stalk hereafter.
Everyone knows that giant spiders are web builders who construct their webs “horizontally or vertically so as to entrap any creature which touches the web.” Of course, a giant spider’s bite packs a poisonous punch. “A victim must save versus poison or be killed.” All of this is explained on page 90 of the Monster Manual. Go ahead and check. While you’re at it, look at the glorious full page illustration on page 91. See those bristles and hairs on the giant spider fixing to pounce on the unsuspecting adventurers?
Those are urticating hairs, which aren’t really hairs. Instead, they’re bristles covered with microbarbs, and they’re a defensive adaptation. When bothered or angered, a giant spider shakes and scrapes its legs together and across is abdomen. This kicks up a cloud of urticating hairs in a 1/2″ or 1″ radius around the spider (50% chance of either). The cloud lasts for one to three rounds, depending on air conditions (shorter duration in wind or rain, for example).
Creatures other than giant spiders caught in a cloud of urticating hairs must save versus paralyzation. Failure means the creature has inhaled some of the hairs while other hairs have embedded themselves in the creature’s eyes and skin. This is not a good thing as it renders the victim blind and in pain for 1d4+1 turns. The pain part is simulated by suffering 2d4 points of damage per turn unless the victim remains very still.
Rarely, a giant spider’s urticating hairs grow sturdier and sharper. The saving throw against these sorts of urticating hairs is made with a -2 penalty, and the victim suffers the aforesaid effects for 1d6+1 turns. What’s more, a combatant who attacks such a giant spider with a weapon no longer than 2 feet must make a saving throw versus paralyzation if the combatant’s attack roll fails. An attacker who fails this saving throw is jabbed by 1d8 urticating hairs. Each hair inflicts 1 point of damage.
If you add either or both of these abilities to a standard giant spider, adjust the spider’s XP value accordingly. Here’re my recommendations:
Standard Giant Spider Level/XP Value: V/315+5/hp
With Urticating Hair Cloud: +75 XP
With Sturdier Urticating Hairs: +40 XP