Best of the Beastiary, D&D

Ettercap: Shepherd of Spiders

I can see this dude as a unit in Starcraft 2 and I love it.

When I first looked at the Ettercap, I thought he was forgettable. Then I looked at him for this and I thought he was kinda cute. Sure, I wouldn’t want to meet it in a dark alley! But it had a sort of charm to it.

Then I read the lore and all my illusions were dispelled.

Lore: That one weird guy in your office building that keeps the spiders as pets rather than cleaning up the webs from his space

I’m officially running out of material.

These humanoid spider creatures raise spiders in the deep darkness of remote forests. With the webs it stores in glands in its abdomen, it will esnare its prey or fashion elaborate traps to adorn its lair with.

The Ettercap will stalk those that enter its lair. It has many approaches to do this. It could ensnare them and poison them with their fangs, or it could just let the traps do the work. No matter what approach they take, many people don’t leave their lairs alive.

Ettercaps have no desire to live in harmony with nature. Is a forest gloomy and choked by giant webs and spiders? Chances are, there’s likely an Ettercap infection.

They are the natural foe of all fey creatures. These monsters will often lay out their traps specifically to ensnare them, then devour them. If a dryad lives in their woods, they’ll ensnare the tree to trap the spirit. The problem often becomes so desperate that even the most timid fey will approach outsiders in search for aid.

This lore works wonderfully in tandem with fey lore. Perhaps the party could rescue a dryad held in Ettercap captivity. Or maybe they stumble into their lair and get caught up in a war between the two forces. Maybe you don’t even want to use the fey and you just want the party to deal with giant spiders and their shepherds! The possibilities aren’t super expansive, but you can certainly come up with some creative plotlines!

Design: Tell Me It Ain’t A Zerg Unit

Look me in the goddamn eyes and say that it isn’t. I dare you.

He a thicc boi; I think I had a stroke while writing that

*Sigh* Now I’m sad. I’m gonna try and melt my sadness over the death of the Starcraft by breaking this design down.

In my opinion, this dude doesn’t really scream ‘spider’ to me. I mean, if I squint, I guess I can see it. But giant claws and a beer gut don’t really communicate a very arachnid motif to me.

It’s certainly creepy! The idea of this thing shuffling towards me in a dark forest, surrounded by giant spiders, will very likely haunt my nightmares! It definitely looks like the kind of monster that would eat a fairy.

Unfortunately, it does practically nothing to communicate the creature’s story or abilities. Sure, it’s purple, so it isn’t a super far leap to assume that it might be poisonous. But it doesn’t really look like a spider-dude. More like a big tough demon thing.

But that begs the question: is it even that tough?

Stats: A Spider Man

Jesus, I really am out of material!

Ettercaps are far from the most durable monsters in the book. Their AC is pretty low, just barely above a ten, and their HP averages just shy of 50. It could make a half-decent challenge for a low level party if there were numbers to match. But overall, it isn’t exactly durable.

Its unique abilities aren’t especially impressive, either. Sure, it can climb up walls and move on webs. Yes, it can know where everything on its web is when its on it. But none of them are super interesting or impressive.

Attack wise, it’s pretty generic as well. With multiattack, it can attack with both its bite and its claw every turn. Neither one is all that impressive, even with the bite’s extra poison damage that can (shocker) poison you. The only action it can take that might scare a player is the web action, which can ensnare them in a web.

A web that is super easy to cut through. Ooh! Scary!

I’m sure this could make for a fun fight. Pit the party against enough of them in a dark, web-encrusted forest and you could make a pretty intense fight. But whether or not they’ll remember it is unlikely. It’s a very generic D&D fight, all in all.

Placement

The Ettercap isn’t an especially impressive monster. The lore is neat and the design is… fine, I guess. But the stats, while not terrible, don’t really strike me as impressive. Overall, it’s a very forgettable monster.

With all that in mind, let’s put the Ettercap on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Dragon Turtle
  4. Green Dragons
  5. Red Dragons
  6. Blue Dragons
  7. Black Dragons
  8. White Dragons
  9. Silver Dragons
  10. Couatl
  11. Behir
  12. Aboleth
  13. Bronze Dragons
  14. Brass Dragons
  15. Copper Dragons
  16. Gold Dragons
  17. Chuul
  18. Chimera
  19. Death Knight
  20. Bone Devil
  21. Dracolich
  22. Ankheg
  23. Empyrean
  24. Drow (all four of ’em)
  25. Shadow Demon
  26. Marilith
  27. Drider
  28. Aarackockra
  29. Azer
  30. Demilich
  31. Spectator
  32. Cambion
  33. Animated Armor
  34. Banshee
  35. Basilisk
  36. Yochlol
  37. Bulette
  38. Cloaker
  39. Darkmantle
  40. Doppelganger
  41. Pit Fiend
  42. Erinyes
  43. Chain Devil
  44. Bearded Devil
  45. Barbed Devil
  46. Spined Devil
  47. Ice Devil
  48. Nalfeshnee
  49. Glabrezu
  50. Chasme
  51. Barlgura
  52. Horned Devil
  53. Balor
  54. Shadow Dragon
  55. Vrock
  56. Dretch
  57. Goristro
  58. Hezrou
  59. Manes
  60. Duergar
  61. Quasit
  62. Dryad
  63. Planetar
  64. Imp
  65. Displacer Beast
  66. Carrion Crawler
  67. Rug of Smothering
  68. Bugbear Chief
  69. Bugbear
  70. Vine Blight
  71. Twig Blight
  72. Needle Blight
  73. Bullywug
  74. Ettercap <—————-
  75. Cockatrice
  76. Lemure
  77. Solar
  78. Deva
  79. Cyclops
  80. Centaur
  81. Fire Elemental
  82. Water Elemental
  83. Air Elemental
  84. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  85. Earth Elemental
  86. Flying Sword
  87. Crawling Claw

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