6/29/12

Monster: Mordt-spinner


Also called: Khalikarch, Bone Harvester

A man-sized tangle of spider-legs and savage claws, the Mordt-spinner decorates its body with pieces of refuse and carrion as camouflage. The smaller ones prey on rats and the occasional possum or dog. The larger ones can tear a man out of his armor and devour him in minutes.


Biology:
The female Mordt-spinner resembles a very large, tailless whipscorpion, though it is unclear if the creature is in any way related to smaller arthropods. Spinners are not venomous. Instead, they two long serrated claws to draw food to their mouth where a multitude of grasping chelicerae can tear the prey into digestible pieces. At birth, they have 10 legs, 2 large claws, and a pair of slender multi-jointed arms that secrete a clear sticky fluid that they use to attach their camouflage and trap prey. Newly hatched spinners are about the size of a human hand. Most grow to about the size of a large human, with a 5-7' long body, an overall diameter of ~15' and a total weight of about 200 lbs. In places where food is plentiful, larger specimens have been found.

Spinners have color vision and a wide field of vision, but are near-sighted and depend heavily on motion and sound to identify prey. In particular, they instinctively attack rapid movements or loud noises, such as an animal struggling to free itself from the spinner's ichor. If trapped by a spinner's secretions, the wisest course of action is to move as slowly and quietly as possible. 

Male Mordt-spinners look like the females, but are smaller - rarely growing larger than 3' in diameter - and cannot produce the adhesive secretions of the female. They are faster, capable climbers, and have a much more acute sense of smell that allows them to better locate corpses and other food sources.

Behavior
Female Mordt-spinners are ambush predators. They find a likely spot near a game path or watering hole, attach local refuse to their bodies, cover the area in their adhesive secretions, hunker down in the darkest corner they can find, and wait. When an animal becomes stuck in the Spinner's adhesive and begins struggling, they attack. Although females can move with surprising speed over short distances, long distance travel, or climbing, takes quite a while. The creature will move at a walking pace for a few minutes or an hour and then rest for a while.

The male Spinners are mobile scavengers. Although they are dangerous, they can rarely catch live prey. They swarm over the carcasses of the dead and dying, stripping their flesh and pulping the bones to get at the marrow.

Well-fed Mordt-spinners feel pain, and if their prey can cause a lot of damage early on, the Mordt-spinner may retreat back to its hiding place and try to wait them out. But the hungrier the Spinner is, they less likely they are to retreat.

Ecology
Although they are native to the jungle, Spinners are adaptable and invasive. They can thrive in any environment that offers hiding places, rarely freezes, and has sufficient food. Ancient sewers, cavern systems, and urban ruins are all prime ground for Mordt-spinners. Spinners need to eat their weight per month. They can survive on less than that, but they will eventually enter a kind of hibernative state that makes them less likely to detect potential food.

Female Mordt-spinners are often found alone, but they can congregate in small groups when food is plentiful. They are attracted to the scent of large groups of male Mordt-spinners, which usually ensures that they will find food in the area. The males bring them food, and are sometimes eaten when food is scarce.

Female Mordt-spinners lay hundreds of eggs, which are covered in the female's adhesive fluid. The mother will cover the eggs in dirt and sometimes with bones or other debris to hide them. The fluid inside the eggs is mildly corrosive and dissolves the adhesive when the eggs hatch.

Mechanical Notes
Female Mordt-spinners are much stronger and tougher than a human, and are about as fast over very short distances. In addition to their natural carapace, many of them have attached large pieces of bone or armor that give them additional protection. Their main claws can tear apart limbs and gouge through armor.

Male Mordt-spinners are faster than females, but weaker and less durable. They are about as strong as the average human. Although they are quick in close combat, they are not really fast enough to run down prey.


Encounter Ideas

Symbiotic monsters
Humanoids and less scrupulous humans sometimes cultivate Mordt-spinners as sentries - they keep them fed (but not too well fed) at specific points on their perimeter. The females stay put as long as they are fed, so they aren't too much of a danger to their cultivators. The males can be a more serious problem, as they are more likely to forage in search of food. But the occasional dead guard is usually worth the added security. In some cases, the spinners are also used to dispose of garbage, victims, and prisoners.

Scavengers
Male Mordt-spinners are a hazard to wounded soldiers in jungle and subterranean environments. They are quiet enough that they are not always spotted by watchman, and they can eviscerate a wounded human in seconds. Sometimes, when a regular food sources dries up, it causes tens or hundreds of male Mordt-spinners to go looking for meat. They will swarm over any creature that they can catch, tearing them to pieces.

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