Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sharpened Hooks: Sagespiders

This came to me in a dream.

Sagespiders, also known as suicide spiders (in modern-day games, this name likely originated from some jokester thinking sagespider hallucinations reminded him of a certain episode of a certain science-fiction programme), are woodland creatures bearing a strong resemblance to spiders, albeit more earthy in coloration.  Apart from a generally arachnid shape (they bear a resemblance to tarantulas), however, these creatures have remarkably little to do with spiders.  Close inspection reveals that they do not merely resemble forest flora; they are ambulatory plants most closely related to the mint family.  This aspect gives them camouflage in the understory; most people never see the sagespider that gets them.

Like regular spiders, sagespiders do use toxins, but rather than the typical arachnid predator, sagespiders are actually part of the decomposer cycle.  Sagespiders attack their prey with detachable barbs which release hallucinatory toxins (modern chemists might recognize part of the compound as salvinorin A or a derivative).  The sagespider's toxin is not likely to kill prey on its own, but it does make prey highly susceptible to predation by other creatures.  Sagespiders then feast on the remains, though they will occasionally consume live but heavily-weakened prey.

Sagespiders have no natural predators, but are susceptible to plant pathogens.

2 comments:

  1. Old wives' tales say that taking in too much of the toxin - provided you survive the sting - can give you heart palpitations. So far as anyone knows, this has never been scientifically verified.

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  2. This is likely true, though it has little to do with the actual potency of the toxin (it might cause some illness and nausea in humans, but is rarely fatal), and more to do with the fact that those with heart conditions may suffer problems due to shock from the hallucinations.

    Note that, as with any substance, sagespider toxin may rarely cause anaphylaxis, and will occasionally kill weakened or wounded prey. Repeated stings in a short period, however, may be fatal.

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