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General When did araneas become shapechangers?

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
The title says it all.

I distinctly remember an incarnation of the aranea that described them as having two natural forms, both the giant spider and humanoid, so when killed they remained in whatever form they were in at death.

But in trying to find that passage/statblock now, I not only came up short (the entries I can find all describe the "natural form" as being that of the spider), when I go back to the original entry from X1, they aren't listed as shapechangers at all!

Does anybody have an insight as to

1) when they became shapechangers (and ideally, why that change came about) and

2) where I might have seen the bit about both forms being "natural" for these creatures?

Thank you!
 

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Azzy

Newtype
I think in 2e, when they were ported over from Basic. IIRC, they were definitely shapechangers in Red Steel. There might have been an earlier module or Dragon article that made them shapechangers, but I'm not familiar enough with Mystara modules.
 


CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
The aranea were first introduced in X1 - The Isle of Dread, back in 1981...but like you said: they weren't shapeshifters. They were just really smart spiders.

They were described as shapeshifters in the Savage Coast campaign setting, like @Azzy said, which was published in the mid-90s as part of the larger World of Mystara. You can read more about them and their lore over on the Vaults of Pandius website, here and here and here, without having to visit 1d4chan. ;)

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Tonguez

Legend

The BECMI Aranea has an ability called Spider Shifter which talks about the natural spider form and their chosen alternate Humanoid form.

Red Steel states that Savage Coast Aranea acquire their Humanoid form soon after birth, the change is automatic and both are considered True forms. They can change between them at will and with no limitations, nonetheless the humanoid form is magical rather than natural form. Red Steel also says that the Aranea can take a third demi-spider form mixing traits of their two main forms (A trueseeing cast on the demispider has an equal chance of detecting the humanoid or the spider)

AD&D is the first time its referred to as Shapechanging and both forms are treated as True forms (ie not detectable)

In 3e they get Supernatural Change Shape ability and three forms. Its natural form is the Spider, while the other two are supernatural Humanoid and Demispider And can be detected with Trueseeing

 
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Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
The aranea were first introduced in X1 - The Isle of Dread, back in 1981...but like you said: they weren't shapeshifters. They were just really smart spiders.

They were described as shapeshifters in the Savage Coast campaign setting, like @Azzy said, which was published in the mid-90s as part of the larger World of Mystara. You can read more about them and their lore over on the Vaults of Pandius website, here and here and here, without having to visit 1d4chan. ;)

View attachment 127405
That resource was excellent, and I appreciate your posting it. Unfortunately, however, it doesn't really answer my question.

You can bet I bookmarked those pages, though.
 

Ath-kethin

Elder Thing

The BECMI Aranea has an ability called Spider Shifter which talks about the natural spider form and their chosen alternate Humanoid form.

Red Steel states that Savage Coast Aranea acquire their Humanoid form soon after birth, the change is automatic and both are considered True forms. They can change between them at will and with no limitations, nonetheless the humanoid form is magical rather than natural form. Red Steel also says that the Aranea can take a third demi-spider form mixing traits of their two main forms (A trueseeing cast on the demispider has an equal chance of detecting the humanoid or the spider)

AD&D is the first time its referred to as Shapechanging and both forms are treated as True forms (ie not detectable)

In 3e they get Supernatural Change Shape ability and three forms. Its natural form is the Spider, while the other two are supernatural Humanoid and Demispider And can be detected with Trueseeing

Which BECMI source has the Spider Shifter ability? It's not there in X1 unless I'm blind.

The Red Steel book is what I was thinking of; it explicitly stated that when killed, an aranea stays in the form it had just before death.

Thank you!
 




Orius

Adventurer
Must be Red Steel then.

The Mystara MC (1994) makes no mention of shapechanging. However, Monstrous Compendium Annual 3 (1996) does. Since Red Steel was published in late 1994 or sometime in 1995, it would have to have been introduced there.

But then if there was a BECMI source that mentioned it, it goes back earlier. In that case, my guess it was introduced in one of the Creature Catalogues either AC9 (1986), or the later RC era one from 1993. It's strange that it wasn't mentioned in the Mystara MC, since that used the Creature Catalog as a primary source.
 
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The Glen

Adventurer
The shapechanging variety was Red Steel in 2nd ed. Its only the aranea of Herath that have the ability, its unknown in other regions like Isle of Dread or Serpent Peninsula. Specifically they used magic to gain the ability, as using magic to change entire species was their specialty. They creates the caymas and gurrash from stock lizard men, and their tampering with the wallaru was what brought down the wrath of the Great One. They are directly responsible for one of the three curses in the Red Coast.

But outside of them no other aranea in canon have the shapeshifting ability. It was only added in 2nd edition, and it didn't effect previous mentions. That's why the aranea in the Sword Coast monster manual have it, but not the normal aranea found in the creature catalogs or montrous compendium.
 

Dire Bare

Legend
Supporter
The Mystaran shapechanging aranea predate the Red Steel boxed set by a bit, they first showed up in the Dragon Magazine series, "Voyage of the Princess Ark" in habiting the land of Herath.

At first, it was just the Herathian aranea that had the shapechanging ability . . . but now it defines the monster!
 


Ath-kethin

Elder Thing
@TheGlen, your explanation makes an enormous amount of sense. And it makes sense that you'd know that!

My introduction to/interest in aranea started with rereading the Voyage of the Princess Ark a couple of years ago. I really like the uniqueness of the creature having two natural forms; it makes them much more complex as both antagonists and allies especially in murder mystery style games/stories.
 

The Glen

Adventurer
Bear in mind the setting has major continuity issues, and the Red Steel boxed set is rife with them. Herath loves creating new magics, a Mystaran staple, if you want the full break down on them the Red Steel monstrous compendium has the full write-up. It's free, TSR released the PDF after they killed the line before the book was released.
 

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