Monday, December 5, 2011

The Red Hourglass: Lives of the predators by Gordon Grice

One of the great things about the web is how it allows you to communicate ideas and recommended reading with a few keystrokes. In this instance, Philip Athans, author of several books, on his blog, mentioned The Red Hourglass by Gordon Grice. I was a little disappointed at the ebook price as the print price was similar so went with the print book. While I enjoy e-format, the main benefit to me know still has to come in savings.

I have not read the whole book, only the first portion dealing with the Black Widow, but Gordon's writing is so breezy and entertaining, that I have ordered the 'sequel' if you will, written by Gordon that is in hard cover (and still almost the same price as the ebook.)

So what are some things you can learn about the black widow if you know nothing about them?

1. They coat themselves in a special secretion so that they do not stick to their own webbing.

2. They use their spider webs as ropes and binding on those entities that become stuck in them.

3. They can 'dry' bite, a bite with no venom, to try and scare away larger predators that may not feel the effects of venom anyway.

4. They are such voracious eaters that they can eat themselves to death.

5. Depending on their food supply, their spider brood can grow. May help explain when they'll eat themselves to death.

6. They do not always kill their mates. The mating, especially on the male side, if heavily ritualized.

7. They have a ton of names. This can be good for those wishing to move outside of the standard. Names range from cherry spider, black wolf, twenty-four hour spider, night stringer, shoe button spider, coal-black lady and others like sneaky bitter.

8. The spiders get darker as they get older with the traditional red hourglass coming in when they turn black. This can be a great way to showcase the age of mutant or giant spiders. "That spider wasn't really black... more like brown?" To prepare the party for ever larger creatures.

9. The venom of a black widow can vary in its intensity, but can take a grown man out for week and kill the elderly or the young. One thing to play with, is not making the venom fatal to full grown healthy men, but to make them sick and a liability to the party they travel with. They can't wield weapons, can't march, can't take guard. All they can do is suck up resources. Mind you I've been there as a player when you get hit by a ghoul or a carrion crawler so yeah, it sucks but it is an alternative to death and a cure poison or antivemon might take you out of it.

10. The webbing is almost invisible to the naked eye, requiring you to look at it from a certain angle or determine its whereabouts through the things captured within it.

11. They are invisible. Well, not quite, but if they're not biting you, chances are you won't notice them because they go after different prey. Most attacks used to occur in the outhouse because see, spiders love the hole shape of the toilet. It's wind proof and has a place for bugs to come get stuck in. Spiders have been taken around the world, like other vermin and beasts, around in boats and other travelling methods. Could be a great point of origin for an Island of Spiders where players once travelled to a dinosaur filled island only to discover that the new inhabitants have grown... very large and now run things.

There are all sorts of other neat facets to the Black Widow and based on that chapter alone, I'd give the book a recommended reading.