The Arachnin People
From The Journals of Mirserke Morhith
Copyright Glen E. Terry 1999
I have journeyed all over the distant lands of this world and as a dark elf; I have suffered from racial injustice in its many forms. The fact that I chose the ways of the Nightblade did little to help matters. It has been a long and lonely road for me. I have had my share of companions, to be sure, but I have seen so many of them die at the hands of creatures and men. Let it suffice to say that I can not claim to have many friends among the living. However, now I can say that I have a family. That family is the people known as the Arachnin.
The Arachnin are a race of obviously elven descent, but they have, either through magic or divine influence, been changed. Like my people, the Drow, they also have a bond with spiders but theirs is hundreds of times more intense.
In form, the Arachnin are shorter than most elves, in fact, the tallest one I have encountered is shoulder height to a human. Otherwise they look like other elves in all respects other than their skin is darker, more tanned like a human.
Many elves would not claim relation to these beings however as their lifestyle, at least to the outsider could be construed as barbaric. They are creatures of the land they live off the land and its many bounties. They are well they are my family now. They have taught me so many things about how the world, how a society should be and in return, I have broken the secret covenant and have taught them the ways of the Nightblade. They are naturals at the work in many ways. Perhaps the elders will see this as I have and forgive me my transgression.
Nightblade of the Ebony Order
The Arachnin are indeed an elven offshoot, perhaps springing from the same renegades as the Drow. They are however, a lot more like wood elves in many ways. They are a hunter/gatherer culture, though mostly they hunt. In fact the Hunt is the most crucial part of their society and it is what the rest of their life revolves around.
Arachnin life is based on a tribal foundation, with women having the largest voice in the tribes business, but the eldest male is still the head of the tribe. The Holy men of the tribe have similar importance. The importance of the women to the tribe is obvious, when one realizes that only one Arachnin child in ten is female. In all other aspects of Arachnin life, women are equal to the men, and are just as likely to adventure or take part in any aspect of the tribe as the men are. The only difference is that Arachnin women who wish to do so are asked to bear 3 children before they leave. For other women of the tribe, who do not wish such a life, it is not uncommon for them to bear thirty or more children in their long life span. Those who do not do this act of loyalty are no longer part of the tribe and will become ostracized by even their own parent and siblings.
Arachnin lineage is for the most part traced through the mother, as it is entirely likely that the identity of the father is unknown. There is no marriage or life bond in their culture, and so women having many mates are the norm. For the Arachnin female, sex is as much for enjoyment as it is for procreation, for males, sex is more about status than anything else. Females chose their mates from the strongest, quickest and most cunning members of their tribe. It is of some note that it is not necessarily uncommon or taboo for a brother and sister to mate, as chances are the father isn't known anyhow. Perhaps due to their magical nature, birth defects are almost unheard of in the Arachnin culture.
Children are raised in a communal environment; they are loved, cared for and trained by the tribe. Children are the pride and joy of the Arachnin people and they are given the very best of what the tribe has to offer. They are taught all the skills they will need to be productive members of the tribe at a young age, and once they have reached the age of 10 are encouraged to join the adults in their duties. At the age of 14, they undergo their right of passage, the hunt.
The hunt is the focal part of the Arachnin lifestyle. They hunt not only for food, but also for all things that they need. In many ways there are parallels between the Arachnin culture and the Native American Indians. When the Arachnins kill a stag or other creature, they find a use for everything. The meat and organs are eaten; the furs are cured and used for clothes, armor and bedrolls; sinew is used for bowstrings; and bones are used to form tools and jewelry. Literally every piece of the animal is used. In fact, they use every part of EVERYTHING, including their dead. The most successful hunters are the ones most likely to be chosen as mates by the females, and they are also the ones held in most esteem by the other warriors. As you can see, the hunt is more than gathering food, it is a celebration of their way of life, a way to prove one's worth, and a chance to procreate.
The diet of the Arachnin is also somewhat odd to other civilized races. They eat raw flesh and drink blood as their primary food source. The fresher the better. They will not, however, eat anything rancid. They are known to use many herbs and fruits to spice their meat and will live off vegetables in times where meat is not readily available. Their eating off raw flesh is not so much a necessity as it is a preference, and is related to their spiritual beliefs. Arachnin will eat cooked meat if someone serves it to them, as to refuse it would be rude, but they will prefer (and will request from their server) raw meat. Blood is a favorite among the Arachnin people, but wine and water are also common drinks. It has been found that Arachnins also drink what they call "Bloodwine", which is quite literally, what its name implies.
The flesh of their own dead is often the meat of choice, but any meat will do.
The spiritual beliefs of the Arachnin people revolve around the permanence of the soul in a being's body. Since the soul cannot become unbound from the body, the only way for someone's soul to live on is for their body to live on. This is part of the reason why the Arachnins eat their own dead. For as long as part of your "deceased" friend is a part of you, they are not truly dead. And when your body dies, and you are eaten by another, your soul will live on with your friends. So from the Arachnin point of view, any member of the tribe who has been eaten isn't dead, they are simply 'not around'. The non-edible parts of the dead Arachnin are used as well, much like animals killed in the hunt. The only difference is that bones will most likely be used as Soulforge Weapons. However whatever is most needed by the tribe is the driving force in what is made. Also, the gift of eating is not only bestowed on other Arachnins. It is not uncommon for an Arachnin to cut off a piece of flesh from a worthy foe and eat it. This is an act of high honor, showing that for the Arachnin an enemy can still be worthy of living on. To leave an enemy to rot on the battlefield, to let them 'live on in worms' is to show a lack of respect for them.
The Arachnin people live in the forests of the largest trees, as most of their village is actually suspended in the trees. Huge, complex town structures are built in the giant boughs of the trees. Planking made of wood, bone, skins and webbing make not only bridges from tree to tree, but buildings as well. For the most part these are small little huts. However, there are several larger structures, usually a temple, a large gathering area, a lodging hut, and the Soulforge. These areas are shared with the creatures that share a symbiotic relationship with the Arachnins - the spiders.
Spiders of all kinds share an affinity for the Arachnin people, and the feeling is felt in kind. Spiders are builders, pets, friends and mounts to the Arachnin people. Obviously, only a large spider - a very large spider - can serve as a mount to a human sized rider, and the Great Spider is just such an animal. These creatures were long believed to be inherently evil. This is not so. Those Great Spiders not having grown up with their evil brethren are not so inclined. Their evil cousins however, often hunt them. They have found sanctuary and a home among the Arachnin people. There among the great trees they find a family that accepts them for who and what they are...and indeed, loves them. Arachnins and Great spiders sometimes reach a level of friendship that is called a life bond, where they choose to live and work together as a team. The Spider is more than just a riding animal for the Arachnin; they are an equal partner. If one of the Life bond pair ever dies, and the other survives, the survivor never finds another Life bonding. It is simply a matter of respect.
Arachnins, due to their belief structure, have a burning hatred of the undead. They will attack the undead almost on sight, unless the undead is a powerful type (Vampire, Lich, etc.). Even then, many times the Arachnin will escape and prepare and plan for the demise of such a creature. The Soulforge belief suggests that these creatures are abominations - that their soul has inadvertently been contaminated with evil. These creatures are, in the Arachnin's view, in great pain and anguish over their corruption, and need to be released from their mortal coil. To not ease such suffering, to not destroy such a cancer, would be an insult to life, to nature itself. To this end, the Arachnin are willing to perform the Cleansing, the burning of the being to destroy not only the creature, but to destroy its soul.
Arachnins, while not exactly afraid of fire, are in awe of it and respect it. They use campfires, of course, like other races, but are obsessively careful about keeping it in control. Skins full of water, stone rings and clearing the ground of combustible materials are standard procedure, and there is always at least one Arachnin who stays up all night on fire watch. If the Arachnin are worried about intruders, others will be up to guard against them, as fire is a tricky element, and must be watched carefully.
The Arachnin believe that fire consumes everything it burns, and that things burned to destruction have had their soul destroyed. While soul destruction is a hideous concept to the Arachnin, it is the only way to free a tormented undead. It is not an activity taken lightly, and it is done only for the greater good, and never frivolously. Arachnins have heard that humans often burn their dead, and this causes a great deal of anxiety and suspicion towards them. Creatures that have been burned (and scarred by fire, and live are considered to have been judged by fire and found worthy. These creatures will be treated with greater respect.
Sometime ago, a wondering Drow Nightblade was aided and welcomed into an Arachnin tribe, and taught them the ways of his sect. Since then, The Arachnin have spread this knowledge from tribe to tribe, and embraced it as a profession of status. While not simply assassins as some in this sect are, the Arachnin see this job as a way to make the world a better place, just as Mirserke himself had. Now, Arachnin Nightblades travel the land hunting down undead abominations, killing the enemies of the Arachnin people, preserving their way of life and fighting their 'shadow war' with those who would harm nature.
Appearance: Arachnins tend toward black hair, but dark red hair and even albinos have been known to occur. Dark brown eyes are prevalent but green is not unheard of. They tend to be thin of build, although with good definition of muscle, making them look stronger than they really are. They have clearly elvish features but with tanned skin. They tend to be shorter, averaging 5'7" to 5'9" for males and 5'4" to 5'6" for females.
Weapons: The Arachnin people tend to fight from a distance to make up for their lack of physical strength. They love bows and crossbows and will often be seen carrying these regardless of profession or status. When it comes to hand weapons, the dagger can be found on every Arachnin. In fact the average Arachnin will carry more than one. They love daggers, as they are useful as tools and weapons. If an Arachnin must engage in close quarter combat, it will usually be with a dagger. Some Arachnins prefer to use two weapons in hand-to-hand combat, in this case, chances are good that one of the weapons will be a dagger. No matter what weapon choice, every Arachnin carries at least one Soulforge weapon.
Soulforge weapons are weapons made of the bones of an Arachnin. As mentioned earlier, The Arachnin believe that the weapon contains part of the soul of the person whose bones the weapon is made of. The Arachnin Holy men pray and enchant the bones for an entire night to achieve this. SoulForge weapons are all considered being of at least +10 magic bonus.
Adolescence skill development
Armor Lt. 2
Next issue will see the publication of an Arachnin racial training package and spell lists. Post your comments on this article on the RMSS Discussion Board. To return to the table of contents, click here.