Ah yes! Finally another World Building post, I’m sure you’re all delighted to see these again. I’m aware the character in this post I wrote was quite a bit flat, but a great deal of that comes through characterization which I tried to omit from it in order to make it much more flexible. If you’re interested in a full treatment without the flexibility I can always do that on people’s say so. That all being said, this is not here nor there and neither is it about that particular sage.
Instead it’s about spiders — or more specifically spider-people. For this post I’ll be using a method I’ll to call “The Build-Up” — which is just another variant of the snowflake really — as well as a small piece on random tables and how to make them good without making them ridiculous.
The Ansati is a species of spider-like humanoids that ‘nest’ within the inner depths of the Tangle, forming an empire beyond the impenetrable Thorny Bastion.
Now this is our ‘key’, which lets us unlock the rest of the fluff easily by simply providing supporting points for the important portions of the sentence as follows:
Species of spider-like humanoids – In the few encounters that the Greater Races — any race that has managed to find a global niche such as the Dwarfs, the Elfs, the Rositheri, the Gnomes, and the Mecild — have survived with the Ansati, the creatures have been described as creatures akin to bundles of pale white sticks with large eyes with red tripartite pupils. The creatures rarely unfold to their full height or length, but when they do they’re often twice the height of a man while otherwise they may be half a man’s height. Their limbs are spindly, covered in coarse hairs which allow them to cling to various surfaces, and are tipped in 4 jointed claws which act as opposable digits. Their mouths are a cluster of sharp mandibles set into a pallid and hairless head and their tongues — which they frequently use in battle — are thick, ropy, muscly tendrils about 6 feet long. They have been observed leaping up to 30 feet into the air to grab ahold of a branch and escape.
‘Nest’ – Ki-Ata-Venwe, the Great Thorned Fortress is a sort of cyst composed of plants, trees, and various other natural things that flourishes on the inside of the Thorny Bastion, providing another layer of defense between the outside world and the Tangleheart. Though there are no streets, the Ansati can travel extremely fast through the city and have without exception managed to defend it from all excursions to this day.
Thorny Bastion – The Thorny Bastion is an enormous shell or membrane composed of millions of interwoven and tangled branches and vines all covered in thorns jutting outward. Few have been beyond but it is rumored that the Thorny Bastion is a natural defense of the Tangleheart, and one that will aggressively pursue outsiders with violent intent if necessary.
Now on random tables and how they aren’t an outmoded tool. All GMs have a moment in their lives where the players can — and will — do something so out there, so absolutely bonkers that the GM has absolutely no idea what to do — even if they’re fantastic at improvisation, I’ll explain shortly. Furthermore there are details that tend to just be overlooked — such as book titles or the names of unimportant NPCs — which can be brought up very casually.
Random tables are there to shore up your defenses when this sort of thing happens to give yourself breathing room while you prepare more information in a hurried fashion and when elegantly done can even substitute for a plot while you get things done and improvise the rest. Additionally a good mixture of random elements can make the game feel a bit more genuine. Unfortunately most examples of random tables (and random elements in general) in RPGs have a fairly strong basis in D&D’s, which can result in extremely strange situations which is why I want to present an example table that give people an idea of what can be done when you aren’t constraining yourself to those sorts of tables.
Rumors and Myths about the Ansati
All characters would know at least two rumors, possibly more if they’ve asked around or have researched the Ansati beforehand. No character knows whether or not the rumors are true.
|1-5||The Ansati are anthropophagi that constantly crave the flesh of intelligent creatures and are always searching for more (Partially true, the Ansati are anthropophagi but they also eat a great deal of other things. The Ansati only eat those they truly respect and only after performing a week long exhausting and very spiritually intense ritual.)|
|6-10||The Ansati have never lost one of their sorcerers to Mesar’s Plague (True, somehow.)|
|11-15||The Ansati excrete a deadly venom in their saliva (Totally false, Ansati saliva is merely analgesic in nature.)|
|16-20||A man can’t hide from an Ansati hunting party, they can sense a person’s soul (Blatantly false.)|
|21-25||Ansati weapons are able to cleave through reinforced steel (True, their crystalline blades are sharp enough to cut straight through metallic armor with little pressure, but the blades are also extremely fragile, rarely lasting more than a single battle and often breaking partway.)|
|26-30||Ansati blood can dissolve any material (Totally untrue, their blood is non-acidic in the slightest and in fact is only blue because of the copper in it.)|
|31-35||Ansati love the taste of dwarf (True actually, for some reason dwarfs taste rather good to them.)|
|36-40||They often become invisible at a moment’s notice only to reappear somewhere else (Also false, most tend to mistake their incredible speed for invisibility.)|
|41-45||Spiders live for ten years before growing into Ansati (Somewhat untrue, Ansati do start out as spiders – albeit a specific kind of spider – but rather rapidly grow into their normal form.)|
|46-50||Thirty foot tall giant spiders composed of hundreds of limbs and deadly claws and fangs with eyes like a Nightmare’s (Clear exaggeration of their physical traits.)|
|51-55||Ansati subsist solely on blood and by the gallon (Totally untrue though an Ansati could derive nourishment from red blood, it would only be useful insofar as their bodies do not produce a great deal of iron.)|
|56-60||The Ansati have created the Nightmares (both true and false, little do the Ansati know that when their magic generates the Hek-Fen atmosphere, the atmosphere can travel the world in trace amounts and most other sentient creatures react quite a bit differently to it while they sleep – their minds create the Nightmares.)|
|61-65||The Ansati are preparing for war against the Greater Races (Only partially true, they’re actually preparing for war against Denwyr, which has sent many men to take the Tangleheart from them.)|
|66-70||The Ansati are allied with several of the Greater Races (Totally untrue, as of this moment the Ansati distrust any who aren’t Ansati and have fought bitterly against many other races and nations.)|
|71-75||Ansati use a caste system in which men and children are treated as nothing better than animals (False, Ansati actually have a ternary gender, with the third being a sort of adaptive hermaphrodite servant species that is used for many things.)|
|76-80||Ansati cannot sense creatures that have rubbed mashed Haeghel root on themselves, (Hilariously false, they cannot smell the root at all and they can see it perfectly fine with two sets of their eyes – the night sight eyes and their normal eyes, Haeghel root’s unusual properties render an individual a black spot in their thermal vision, which is something they’re used to due to their body’s own natural coolness.)|
|81-85||Ansati are very wary of serpents, (True, if only because any scaled creature could be a spy of the Ozotl.)|
|86-90||The Ansati suffer a sickness that causes some of their strongest warriors to enter a bloody psychosis and never return, doomed to slay all that near them (This is absolutely true, but it has only been occurring recently, and they’re rushing to find a cure for this odd illness.)|
|91-95||Ansati abhor violence (Untrue, in fact Ansati see violence as another artform and most Ansati warriors are also musicians, painters, or many other things.)|
|96-100||The Ansati are all horrific assassins that travel the land hidden under the veil of their terrible sorcery in order to kill undetected in any nation (False, the inherent nature of their magic makes it impossible for them to hide it and there is a social stigma against those who kill for money amongst the Ansati.|
This should satisfy you all for a bit, I’m happy to be back to properly posting again.