(Long: Lost it once due to stupidity on my part!)
Here is the last info post....
The Arach language is complex and is composed of sequences of whistles and clicks of varying pitch, frequency and duration. It will be possible for the humans to decipher it but it will take time.
The Arach live in cities built high in the trees from the silk they produce. Each city controls a certain area the size of which is dependent upon the population of the city. Each city is ruled by a Queen, who is then served by up to five generals, each of which is in charge of a specific aspect of the city’s society.
The Arach are a warlike people, and wars between neighbouring cities are common, usually in order to expand the city’s hunting grounds.
Arach society is layered and hierarchical, with both horizontal and vertical strata. Promotion is usually dead-spiders-web! In other words you either wait for your superior to die, or you bump her off! Of course, the latter course is risky, because your superior got where she is the same way and if you fail, it will be your head on the dinner plate!
None! The Arach are a hierarchical collective, and all things are owned in common, distributed fairly, from the top, down. If there is a food shortage, it is the lower castes that take the brunt of it – usually supplementing the food supply themselves!
There are five castes of Arach, and they each have a certain status within Arach society. Each caste is headed by a general , usually from the caste, but in the case of the lower two castes the general will more often be a warrior. From the top, down:
Warrior Caste. The warriors are the most formidable, being 2.6m tall, naked, black spider-amazons! Their thumbs on their second hands (see below) are anything up to 50cm long and razor sharp. They also have especially adapted spinnerets for creating extra strong threads for use as garrottes. Their silk will not harden, though and can be either smooth or extremely sticky.
Hunter Caste. The hunters average around 2.4m tall. They are less formidable that the Warriors, but not much so. They have a much browner skin than the warriors, too, enabling them to blend in. Hunters are most able to produce the sticky adhesive on their webs, and can control exactly how much they use to vary the adhesive quality. Their glue is also waterproof. Hunters are thinner and more agile than Warriors.
Engineer Caste. These Arach are the builders. They are responsible for building the cities, the road ways, water ducts, telephone system (see below), and for maintaining and operating of the same. They have bulbous backsides, where they store the silk they need. They have no ability to make sticky silk at all, but instead secrete a chemical that causes the silk to harden, They average about 2.0m in height.
Nurse Caste. Nurses are probably the least formidable, but most creepy of the Arach. They stand about 1.8m tall, when they get to stand, which isn’t often. They look after the young Arach, both their own and other Castes’, breast feeding them until weaned and then feeding the females on food supplied to them until the females are mature. The Nurses are almost constantly pregnant due to the constant presence of male Arach. The Nurses are responsible for increasing the population of the city. (Warriors are almost invariably responsible for decreasing it when necessary). The nurses usually have distended bellies and very large breasts. Note: Arach “milk” would be poisonous to humans!
Servant Caste. The lowest of the castes, the servants stand on average a mere 1.4m tall. They basically do everything for the society that the other casts won’t do. Cleaning, fetching, looking after the food in the larder, etc. They are the prostitutes and most common rape victims among the Arach. They are also the most expendable and will be the first to be culled if there is a food shortage.
Males. Strictly, male Arach are not a Caste. They are more a semi-sentient subspecies. They are an average of 0.6m high, and can only be distinguished from some of the non-sentient species of spider by the fact that they are quadruped, not octopod, with four arms and four legs. Their one function is to mate with the female and then die. They are usually eaten by the female they mate with – usually a Nurse, sometimes the male’s own mother! Average life span is about one and a half years. Minimum, one year, maximum usually two.
Caste and gender are determined by random genetics. Arach Nurses have to some extent discovered that breeding with a closer related male is more likely to produce a higher proportion of lower Caste offspring, but scientific research is not a high priority in this society.
It is physically and biologically impossible for an Arach to change her caste. Vertical mobility, as mentioned, is usually by killing the Arach above you, but this can be extremely risky, and will often result in the promotion of at least one Arach below! Beware, therefore, if your subordinate suggests that your superior has a weakness – she might tip the superior off!
Killing a subordinate is not usually considered sporting without good reason. “Good reason” can mean anything from attempted assassination, to being two seconds late for work. But it is worth pointing out that persistant removal of subordinates could be regarded as a “good reason” by one’s own superior, if it affects the department’s performance.
Once one reaches the lofty height of General, one must be very careful. The Queen is of course constantly on guard for treachery, but the generals themselves are in competition General of Servants is a demeaning post for a Warrior and she will always want to move up. More than that, Each general has a whole raft of others below, all itching to move into their vacant seat.
It is therefore not unusual for a group of Five Generals to simply be content with their lot and combine their resources to maintain their positions against those below them. The problem of the demeaning lower posts can often be solved by rotation, or, in extreme cases, by promotion from within the lower castes.
Appearance and anatomy:
All Arach look pretty much the same to Human eyes, apart from the physical differences of Caste. They have already been described in general, so here are more specific details:
The face is largely humanoid, with no ears and no hair (in fact there is no hair anywhere on any Arach). The Arach have nine eyes, eight evenly spaced around their heads and the ninth on top.
The skin varies in shade from pure black to deep blue, to muddy brown to almost purple. There is not much variation within a caste, but the brown colours tend to belong to the hunters. The first arms are true hands with three long slender fingers and opposable thumbs. Second arms have the “ears” built in to them. The thumbs are elongated and pointed and are used as telephone receivers. On the Warrior Caste, they are extra long and razor sharp and used as weapons.
First feet are true feet with four toes and are used for walking. Second feet are prehensile with longer toes, the big toe being opposable. They are usually used for climbing.
The Arach are vertebrates (as are all the “spiders” on Gossamer), having a proper internal skeleton. It is not made of bone, however, but of chitin.
The spine juts backwards at the first hip-joint, allowing first and second legs to be the same length, and giving the Arach a sexy, bulbous bottom! The spinnerets are located just above the anus, which is just back from the second hip joint. The sex is located between the first and second hip joints.
The Arach do not have fire, nor electricity. Their technology is based almost entirely around the threads they spin themselves. Engineer Caste Arach can be amazing artists, creating things of great beauty. The cities themselves are often a wonder to behold, with vast delicate walkways that look like they ought to collapse under their own weight, awe inspiring structures that soar to the very tops of the trees, and water channelling systems to make the bravest Human plumber weep for joy!
Probably the biggest mystery, however, is the Arach telephone system. A complex network of taut, hard threads, almost invisible even to Arach eyes, stretch between homes and businesses, and also between the various cities. These wires are used to carry vibrations from one point to another, which are interpreted by the Arach ear as speech. How the signals are directed, and how they are kept separate, is something the Human race will never discover. (Cop out on my part. I have a vague idea, but it’s too vague).
Warrior Caste Arach use silk as their primary weapon. They can make trip-wires, webs, nets, garrottes, snares, traps, lassos, slingshots, flails, whips, etc... For close combat they have the thumbs on their second hands.
Arach are primarily carnivorous, but will occasionally supplement their diet with fruits, nuts and grains. Gathering these is Servant Cast work.
Arach hunters work either alone or as a team. A team will usually have one or more warriors along for security. They hunt with silk, the same as any spider, using much the same range of weapons as the warriors. Preferred food is large mammals and birds. They will take reptiles and fish too, and even the smaller arachnids, though this is less common.
Once caught, prey is cocooned while still conscious – there is no paralyzing bite – and transported back to the city. It is kept alive in a larder by the provision of fruit and grain or raw fish, and a supply of fresh water usually channelled directly to the prey’s mouth by a silken straw. Looking after the prey is the job of the Servant Caste.
Arach feed by biting into their prey and injecting an acid which dissolves the flesh. They then suck this back out. Arach prefer the taste of living flesh, and so will usually take care to avoid any vital organs until the end.
Arach will often take sexual pleasure from captured prey too, regardless of the prey’s gender or species.
Canibalism is also common. Eating prisoners of war is a normal way to feed your army, males are usually eaten after they mate, and eating a defeated superior or subordinate is considered a good way to cement one’s position!
An Arach army will be composed of 60% warrior caste, 15% Hunter Caste, 15% Engineer Caste and 10% Servant Caste. The hunters are along to provide food for the army, and also to provide their skills in creating traps and scouting, the engineers are there to create any special weapons required, and the servants are there as – well, servants!
Up to five Generals, one for each Caste.
Possibly one servant looking after the larder...
I think it best to keep the Nurse Caste out of the story, as all they generally do is have sex, eat, give birth, and feed the young. The best caste to be would be hunters, with second best being warriors.
And I am almost certainly going to have a second player character who is a hunter, because the queen is not going to get much action early on!