Tell Me About Your Great Spider Campaigns and Characters

Tell me about the games in which you’ve run a team of Great Spiders or played a Great Spider yourself.


I wonder what motivated this… :wink:

More seriously, I honestly haven’t used Great Spiders. Heck, the only time I’ve had a game where PCs were non-humans was when I ran the sword, but then again I just really like human-focused games in general.

Spiders do seem pretty neat, and independently of the stuff going on with the codex, I would actually love to hear any stories that people have.

Haven’t done one yet, but I want to so bad. I’ve been pretty big on giant spiders o’er the past couple of years.

You know, I hear tell someone wrote a story about giant spiders that’s appearing in the next issue of Worlds Without Master. Not that I’d know anything about that. shifty eyes

Great Spiders only appeared as villains in my game. Both as large forces to overcome and singular creatures to outwit. I’ve never played one, but love them nonetheless. I suppose, for my past purposes, entries in the rogues’ gallery would’ve been enough.

That said, was it Judd who ran a campaign with them centrally featured as the main PC race? It was a reverse of the Swordlands, right?

Like Kublai, I’ve mainly used them as villains in my games. My latest outing has my adventurers investigating the ruins of an ancient civilization that fought the Great Spiders to a standstill before a magical calamity apparently wiped them both out. Now the Spiders are back and the PCs are in the thick of it. I’ve got a pair of female hunters that are fun recurring foes for the group and a male Wyrd-Spinner that is on their side so long as they keep the other Spiders distracted from finding him.

I find I use the Spiders in the same way I use the Orcs and Trolls. I find it highly unlikely I will ever run a game with them as PCs but access to those lifepaths helps make the enemies come to life in a way that picking stats out of the Bestiary section just doesn’t do.

I’ve never played a Great Spider, mainly because I am a Great Spider, and when I play RPGs I like to “get out of my head” and play something alien, like a human.

I’ve never played a Great Spider myself or run a party of them, but I have run two games with one Great Spider PC. Both were quite a while back.

First, a solo miniseries of the peripatetic adventures of a cheerful itinerant Wandering Star. He spent some time as a very eccentric addition to a city’s slums. It was very fun to explore a human city as a very alien outsider. The character was significantly inspired by the Giant Intelligent Friendly Talking Spiders of the Exile and Avernum computer RPGs.

Another game was a pretty standard game of a small band mercenaries, but one player really wanted to play a Spider. Thus, hardbitten mercenaries and their contemplative, gigantic Master of Eight, who ended up acting as their (odd) moral compass. I expected trickery from magic webs, but what was how she was socially adept and ended up often being the liaison to polite society… despite being a spider. Which says a lot about the antisocial tendencies of the bunch. Also I didn’t appreciate how the biggest Great Spider size is huge until the player pointed it out.

One of my favorite PCs ever was a Great Spider! Paraskeve was a Great Aphantochilus Rogersi, a supporting character in a game about an elf princess. The elves were in conflict with the great spiders over a lot of forest territory. When the elf princess went up against the spider queen in a duel of wits, the spiders promised to give the elves concessions if the princess helped take out the spider-queen’s arch-enemy underground. The spider queen sent her own princess daughter, the hunter-seeker Paraskeve, to aid the elf princess. While Paraskeve’s ways of helping the elf princess out were often a little unsettling (eating her enemies, for example), they became friends. Together they traveled underground, fighting their way through the lair of the giant ants, Paraskeve’s arch-enemies: as you can see in the link above, Paraskeve is an ant-mimic spider. Eventually they found the spider-queen of the Underdark in conference with an evil Orcish Master of Eight. They surprised their enemies, and Paraskeve took out the Master of Eight while the elf princess slew the spider queen. Their mission completed, the two princesses parted ways. The campaign went on for a long time, but eventually the elves and the spiders went to war, with the princess’s lover leading the elves in breaking the truce with the spiders. When Paraskeve met the princess again, they were enemies; Paraskeve captured and attacked the princess’s lover whom she saw as a war criminal, failing to kill him (Persona point!) but taking his sight. The two princesses reconciled to some extent, but the wounds the war had inflicted on both races could not be healed.


I really miss our Spider campaign (the one Judd ran). It fizzled out (well never matched the heights) after one of the PCs died dragging a Handmaiden to the bottom of the ocean to keep secret the cabal of males that planned to escape the Matron’s Interplanar Empire. Though we did go on for a while after that, we took over Waterdeep. Eventually it became a solo game about politics and large battles. Though I did get to go dragon hunting, oh and lay my eggs using a dragon egg for the egg sac.

Links to Judd’s posts:

Someone page Judd

Yes, we used the spider lifepaths to devour the Forgotten Realms. We called humanoids by their proper name, “walking meat,” and turned Waterdeep into a nest for the Great Matron.

We united the different species of spiders, led by the Undernesters and their Handmaidens. There was inter-species strife and some were treated poorly by the undernesters as they used powerful web wyrd magics to traverse the worlds and find food for the Great Matron.

Good times.

I like how spiders offered a way to interact with fantasy worlds from an alien point of view.

Next world spiders should totally eat: Westeros. Fuck your adorable wall, little cold meats.

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In Burning Lanka (or Vinyaki) we had Great Spiders as the bad guys. They were dreadful.

Okay, I vote that Judd creates that scenario as a Great Spider stretch goal.

I mean, like, dude. Seriously.

My botched-casting-prone sorcerer wanted to learn magic from the mythical forest spiders. It was a wonderful, terrible idea! Once captured, we performed a play for them to present ourselves on friendlier terms, but the pyrotechnic effects kind of got out of control. I got some training in return for a promise to steal a particular artifact from the destination of our pilgrimage (they were still bitter about the fire).

To be honest, while I’ve never played a great spider, they’re the only set of lifepaths other than orcs that I will read and re-read just for fun. I see them more as a form of artistic expression than a playable race. Like Under a Serpent Sun.

Had their been no Great Spiders, our Burning Sands: Jihad campaign would not have featured the the Anansi Class Autonomous Battle Construct.

Little cold meats.
This is perfect. I think maybe I will start calling people this in real life. Er, presuming circumstances justify the “cold” part.

@Wilhelm I had forgotten about that. That is fucking baller.

One of my favorite campaigns – a swashbuckling age of sail world – had great spiders living on the moon. They invaded the planet by using their webs to propel them through space, much like the ice volcanoes on Enceladus cause it to snow on Saturn. Unfortunately, the invasion was historical, and the PCs didn’t interact with the alien spiders at all.

In our “Children of the Desert” game, Ai’isha, the self-styled “queen of the desert”, became the ambassador of the desert when she met with the Great Spider matriarch, who was the true Queen of the Desert.

The (spider) queen had been betrayed and left for dead by her daughters of the City of Silken Threads.

Much fun was had! Beautiful artifacts of the great spiders were gifted and used to wonderful effect (a rope of spider silk that was always only-just long enough, golden spider silk robes, etc.)

There’s also our planned campaign for a criminal crew in a city, where one of the players is a Xanathar-like giant spider…

I’ll let you know if we get that off the ground!