Driders are an offshoot of the Drow race. They came about from merging mana-infused spider bodies with heavily injured drow. The procedure, which involved combining a fae with a non-fae, non-golem, was very difficult, but still better than a healer expending his or her own life in order to heal a mortally wounded soldier. The result was a half drow, half spider creature, and often the upper, drow body would change to adapt to this new form, most often in the form of gaining two to three more pairs of eyes and sometimes a central, vertical eye. The old combination ways are not well known, but the way in the current storyline is similar to the way the Vel'Vloz'ress create Naga slaves using sightless spider-like creatures that devour the lower half of a drow. The neurotoxins are altered to seal the two beings together as one, though the Vloz'ress may use a toxin that forces their driders to be volatile, mindless slaves like their naga guards.
Driders are divided into three types: Waelinider, Streekaider, and the Ne'Kalsaider. Shapeshifters can use biogolems to appear as a drider, but they will lack most of the drider's sensory abilities and any extra eyes would be for looks. The do not become in essence the drider race, merely borrow the appearance for speed and strength.
The Waelinider are the original driders created from the merging of dying drow with spiders. They were once the Knights of Chel'el'Sussoloth, but now their numbers have diminished greatly and only a few of these Knights still exist, mostly in the Beldrobbaen clan.
- Waelinider are about the same height as Drow, though can be taller depending on how large the spider was they were merged with and how they bear themselves. They are larger by bulk of the spider half.
- Waelinider top halves appear to mostly be similar to Drowolath in coloring, possibly because they were the race that practiced making driders the most. It is possible there were Dark Elf or Drowussu colored ones.
- Waelinider have seven to nine eyes – two where normal eyes are, an arrangement of two to three more pairs on the forehead, and sometimes a vertical, large eye in the center of the forehead, above the bridge of the nose extending to the hairline.
- Waelinider eye colors for the original eyes are always red on the corneas and typically have red pupils. Their irises are whatever color the drow’s eyes were previous to the merging. The smaller eyes are often too small to see more than red corneas and dark pupils, and the vertical eye iris color may vary.
- The color of the hair on the spider half is whatever color the spider’s hair was.
- Waelinider are (supposed to be) sterile.
The Waelinider are the original merging of Drow to spiders mentioned above. Spiders were chosen for their maneuverability in the caverns and tunnels of the Underworld. The resulting Waelinider would be a fierce warrior capable of fighting in nearly any condition the drow would come across in their new homes. In appearance, their upper halves are like the flavor of Drow they were previously. Most appear to be Drowolath, which would probably be the race most likely to attempt these procedures. It is unknown if Drowussu would allow the creation of Drowussu Waelinider or accept them, given their views on purity. Dark Elves began the practice, though they were known to also change their wounded into Awares – large spiders with nine eyes that had aura and retained the intellect of their previous forms. Awares may even be another form of Drider with greater mental stability but virtually no chance of performing actions of their former selves the way half-arachnid Waelinider may be able to (spell casting, communicating, etc).
Since Waelinider are not made so much in present time, they are not created out of Ver’Drowender. However, they may become tainted due to their aura.
Waelinider have seven to nine eyes – their two original eyes, which have red cornea and pupils and irises that retain their previous color, four or six smaller eyes that are either rounded or slatted, and a central, vertical eye, much like the Sharess symbol of the Drowussu. The eyes may be the first stage in the spider-half’s physiology attempting to take over and they form very close to the creation of the drider. It appears that Waelinider can see through all eyes, which probably takes a good deal of getting used to and could be the first obstacle for their sanity to overcome: extra bits of information on the same thing, creating a bizarre sense of depth perception.
The spider-half is completely merged with the drow lower half, but appears to retain the traits of the spider used for merging. Waelinider have complete control over their spider-halves, and can use any sensory functions from them. They may also produce silk from their spinnerets.
- Since Waelinider were once Drow, they possess auras, and are able to use Mana Arts.
- Waelinider eyes are able to see into the extended near-infrared spectrum, allowing them to see well in the dark and view heat sources to a degree. Since they are still Drow in most physical stats, they do not see any better necessarily.
- Waelinider can see through all of their eyes.
- Waelinider have added benefits from their spider parts, allowing them to move along walls, sense air currents with their body hair, and possibly spin webs or use webbing material in other ways.
- Since Waelinider were created from full-grown Drow, they age similar to Drow; that is they seem to never age so long as they're in the presence of other Fae.
The Waelinider body combines the Drow's adapted underworld body with the even better suited spider form. They have excellent dark vision augmented by better sensory capabilities from the hair on their spider-halves, which makes them suited for life inside a Drow settlement or out in the tunnels of the wilderness. For the most part, their aging is linked to their proximity to areas of accrued mana, which has proven to provide longevity in the Drow race; a Waelinider living in or near a large population of other aura-bearing beings is, for all intents and purposes, immune to the effects of aging.
The Waelinider’s upper body remains lean, similar to a Drow’s, and does not accumulate body fat. The spider half functions as typical spiders, so it also only accumulates some fats. Their bodies, much like Drow and other Fae, efficiently leeches nutrients out of whatever food they eat over a course of a couple of days. Waelinider only eat a bit more than the average Drow.
Mana also plays a major role in the sustainment of their bodies in a way similar to Drow; along with stopping the aging process, it makes the Waelinider's need for food and sleep a little less pronounced as it takes over some physical maintenance those things provide. It is unknown if the Waelinider are affected as drastically in the physical sense by mana deprivation.
Since Waelinider are sterile (or should be, see Ne'Kalsaider), they (should) have a zero birth rate. Their mortality rate is very high due to the latest views of them (see Sociocultural).
When a Waelinider is at the edge of sanity, they start to take on a few Streekaider traits, notably eyes that appear to be taken entirely over by the red in their cornea. There may be other spider traits in appearance they take on to a lesser extent – growing a thin lair of body hair over their drow-half, forming sharper teeth and extra mandible structures, etc.
A Waelinider is for all intents and purposes a Drow. Since most appear to be Drowolath, after the initial shock of being changed into a drider they may act no different. However, their independent personalities do begin to wane, partly because of their new place in society, partly because of their desire for others around to help them maintain the strength to fight off the spider-half's primal urges from warring with their own. For this reason, Waelinider have very fragile minds.
It is inevitable for the majority of Waelinider to succumb to the spider's instincts, their brains in constant turmoil as who they were fights with what they are becoming. This often leads to insanity and the transition into being referred to as a Streekaider. However, a Waelinider that is well cared for and not pushed out of society will pass into this state a bit more passively. Their bouts of insanity are less violent and they tend to obey the orders of those that cared for them or anyone placed in charge of them that does not treat them poorly. They lose the ability to communicate well and they have difficulty thinking. This may be because their will is strong enough, through their own desire to live from the care and trust of those around them, and their mental drop off is possibly due to the effort it takes to keep the spider-half in check. Even in this state they lose most of their personality and experience a great deal of mental distress.
It is unknown if seeding affects a Waelinider's mental condition. It is also unknown if heavy tainting and sealing armor can be used to control them. No Waelinider seen thus far has used Mana Arts, though having an aura should allow them to do so.
At the time of their creation, Waelinider were considered holy and honored for their sacrifices to continue to protect their people. Waelinider were often referred to in a fashion similar to knights and stood watch over temples, clan holdings, and the city gates. The population as a whole showed great respect for their defenders, and care for them might have been a community privilege for a clan.
Over time, especially as the Sharess religion began to fragment, Waelinider were looked upon as ugly abominations by most of the Drow race. Some were driven away into the wilderness where they slowly went insane alone. Others still remained as servants or scapegoats to their clans, if the clans respected them still (such as the Beldrobbaen). However, as rumors and stories grew, Waelinider gained a bad reputation, so most of them were slaughtered outright.
The creation of Waelinider at the present time in the Moonless Age is rare, especially because most clans outlaw the practice. It is said that Beldrobbaen females will often make males into Waelinider if they father strong offspring. This may help explain the Beldrobbaen’s precarious position of falling as a clan with the loss of a whole generation of girls – with many of their men sterile driders, reproducing is slow, especially if they do not want to mix with noble blood of other clans for political or self-sustaining reasons. However, the change to a drider is seen as honorable: if a male sires a healthy, hopefully female, heir, then he gains more strength and respect instead of being a simple soldier. Due to the tolerance of Driders in the Beldrobbaen clan, any Waelinider needing shelter is welcome.
Streekaider are actually Waelinider, and are the result of the Drow attitude change toward driders. The end product of years of fighting with the spider instinct paired with a will weakened by exile and ill treatment, Streekaider are only a step up from a beast. Their minds constantly fight with the spider half, and while those spider instincts react to the environment and seeks sustenance like a spider would, the embattled drow mind causes the Streekaider to act more like a rabid animal, attacking nearly anything it sees.
Streekaider are considered a lost cause. There is no way to properly save the mind of the drow in that state – even removing the spider half and using modern golem prosthetics will not help, and may even make things worse as the drow is now in full symbiosis with the spider. If one is encountered there is no reasoning with it, especially if the mind recalls ill treatment in its past and associates it with you!
Wild Streekaider, unlike tamed Waelinider on the edge of sanity, are considered extremely dangerous since their mistreatment and exile has allowed what's left of their minds to stew in anger and suffering. Outposts not in the protective Chel'el'Sussoloth cavern and caravans are constantly vigilant for fear of an attack from deranged Streekaider.
As far as physiology, they are the same as Waelinider. The only difference is a Streekaider may contain more spider- or monster-like traits due to the spider-half's unchecked domination: hair over more of their body, large fangs or mandible legs, sharp, grotesque claws on the ends of their legs and fingers. Their eyes are also completely taken over by the red color of their pupils and cornea, and will glow in dark places where just enough light exists to reflect in them.
A Streekaider's red eyes should not be confused with Tainted eyes – they are not demonic, unless the Waelinider was tainted before this state was reached. The color might be more due to the eyes, like normal spider eyes, reflecting light off their retina, causing a red glow (similar to human picture red-eye, or Drow eyes, or even cat and dog eyes). This allows better vision in the dark by making use of any light available.
Streekaider might have better vision than Drow or Waelinider. Their dark vision might extend further into the infrared, and their eyes might reflect light between the retina and lens similar to a real spider's eyes in order to see objects without heat signatures better. They also, like Waelinider, make use of the hair on their bodies to get better sensory information of their surroundings.
Driders that were created by a drow being "eaten" by a new spider, a la Vloz'ress style, may advance faster to the Streekaider stage due to both their uses (especially if the Vloz'ress created them) and the view toward them by older driders, possibly even in the Beldrobbaen clan where the transformation into a drider was once a mark of honor. The violent way the drow merges with the spider, and possibly any venoms involved to make the drider easily controlled, are also factors which may speed such a drider’s advancement to the Streekaider stage.
Ne'kalsaider are the true "natural" drider. They are similar to the Waelinider before insanity and more civilized than the wild Streekaider. It is unknown how they came to be, but it is possible that some Waelinider were able to keep their reproductive capabilities or figure out how to access the spider half’s reproductive organs and somehow mix drow and spider genetics through the magical symbiosis. The race could also have come about from the breeding of Drow with large, magical spiders – the Awares. They could also be improvements on the Waelinider, created in secret and given the ability to reproduce. Regardless, their origins are a secret only they and very few trusted others know.
Rumors exist that the Ne'kalsaider have a community they live in together, a Hive, and that the Beldrobbaen have contact with it. Some Ne'kalsaider visit Chel'el'Sussoloth to do business. One such businesswoman, Thera, has a small tailoring business hidden in the central market place, Klar'bol. She hints her reasons in Chel'el'Sussoloth are partly to change the view of Driders.
- Ne'kalsaider are about the same height as Drow and is dependant largely upon how they bear themselves – if they crouch on their legs or not – and their own genetics. Their bulk is greater due to being half-spider.
- Ne'kalsaider seen so far appear similar to Drowolath. There could be many reasons for this.
- Ne'kalsaider only have eight eyes. They have two large eyes where Drow normally have them, and six smaller ones of various shapes and sizes, depending on the Ne’Kalsaider in question. Like Waelinider, they can be round or slatted.
- Ne'kalsaider eyes tend to have white or light-colored pupils. Their irises are usually light colors and the cornea tend to be darker versions of these colors, though red still can be dominant. The hair on their head tends to match, so unlike Drow they retain some hair color.
- Ne'kalsaider lower-abdomen (spider half) hair tends to be similar to the hair on their head, or banded with colors that include that and their skin tone.
- Ne'kalsaider are capable of producing and manipulating silk from their spinnerets.
- Not all Ne'kalsaider are sterile, although the majority are.
The Ne'kalsaider are a race unto themselves – the true drider. Their upper halves mostly appear like Drowolath. This may be due to the fact that most Waelinider appear to be former Drowolath, so if Waelinider found a way to reproduce that is the most likely offspring scenario. If Ne'kalsaider began as the product of a Drow mating with an Aware, the Drowolath appearance may be because any Dark Elf traits from the Aware (if it was a Dark Elf originally) would be overridden by Drow traits, and given the Drowussu opinion on purity a mating may not occur. If a Ver'Drowender mated with an Aware, the result would be like a Drowolath, since demonic seeds do not appear to be passed on from parent to child.
Since Ne'kalsaider have aura, it is assumed they can be tainted or possessed.
Ne'kalsaider have only eight eyes, as the ninth eye of the Waelinider seems to have been given based upon the "holy" designation and Sharess' nine eyes. They can see out of all their eyes. The colors of them seem to be related to natural hair color, which unlike Drow retain some colors other than gray/white. Colors of the eyes and hair tend to be light ones such as pale oranges, pinks, pale yellows, pale violets, pale blues, and grays. The hair on their abdomen tends to be either their hair color or some combination of similar colors in a pattern. Their upper halves are colored like Drow but are actually hairy, though perhaps not completely. The hair is the same as their skin color, and at first glance seems to blend in unnoticeably. However, the hair does poke over the side of the drider's shoulders and arms, so closer inspection reveals the hirsute. They also have pointy ears like Drow still.
They are capable of producing silk and manipulating it. Apparently they can create silk that is not very sticky, which is a bonus for the creation of clothing and cloth goods. Ne'kalsaider tend to wear clothing made from this silk, usually a long shirt/half robe on their upper half and a wrapping with holes for the legs on their abdomen, with optional leg warmers. Their clothing style is varied much like Drow fashion and mimics Drow styles, though adjusted for the spider frame.
It is unknown if Ne'kalsaider lay eggs or have live birth. The physical appearance of baby driders is also unknown, though it is hinted at when Thera makes clothing for an "Ariel-sized drider". Ne'kalsaider may or may not be able to mate with Drow or other Fae, though how they’d go about it would be interesting to find out. It is said the Hive Mother produces all the drider at the Hive, but that gives little indication to the nature of Ne'kalsaider reproduction (as in if all are capable or only a few "queens" and "drones") or how the birthing process happens. A Hive Mother does indicate a possibility of eggs over live birth.
- Ne'kalsaider possess auras and are capable of using Mana Arts.
- Ne'kalsaider eyes are able to see into the near infrared, which allows them to see better in the dark and view some heat sources. This sight may be better than a Drow.
- Ne'kalsaider age ratios unknown, possibly at the same ratio of 2:1 like the Drowolath.
- Ne'kalsaider stop aging at approximately the age of sixty.
- Ne'kalsaider have added benefits from their spider parts, allowing them a greater sensory experience from the hair on their body, speed, and maneuverability.
- Ne'kalsaider see through all eight eyes.
Ne'kalsaider are much more adapted to the Underworld in comparison to Drow or even Waelinider. Their dark vision is excellent and may be better than a Drow's, offering them a better advantage for living and moving about in the wilderness outside outposts and major cities. Ne'kalsaider aging is most likely linked to their proximity to areas of accrued mana, and in or around large populations of Ne'kalsaider or other Fae they are immune to the effects of aging.
Ne'kalsaider upper halves appear lean, and their lower halves have the same physical makeup of a spider, so they probably only accumulate a bit more fat than the Drow do. Their bodies are extremely efficient at processing nutrients out of food. Given the possibility of a remote enclave, their food may be even less rich in minerals than Drow in the city. Mana may play a role in sustaining their bodies, but it is unknown if the offset of food and sleep is similar to Drow, or how drastic mana deprivation is to them.
Ne'kalsaider is a race even younger than the Drow, and if they do have the same mana benefits as Drow then their reproductive rates might be similar to Drowussu or Drowolath, or could be even slower.
Ne'kalsaider are free from the inevitable insanity of Waelinider. They are similar to other drow in their habits and are probably even more resilient when it comes to their adaptation to the Underworld. Due to their remoteness from Drow culture and possible population size, they are probably less fluid than Drowolath when it comes to interpersonal bonds and material attachment, and their work at surviving together may make daily matters more important to them. Like all beings, they are still capable of mental conditions due to genetics or outside stimulus, even the passage of time.
There is a chance that like Drowussu the Ne'kalsaider are much more orderly, but this may exist out of necessity for survival and being a group of outcasts.
Due to the view of driders that Drow at large have developed, Ne'kalsaider, despite their civility, are outcasts. The results of the slow insanity of Waelinider and the animalistic actions of the Streekaider keep them painted in a bad light, and most drow treat them with mistrust. This is why if there is indeed a Hive, most Ne'kalsaider prefer to remain there.
Occasionally, single members or small groups of Ne'kalsaider will venture to Drow cities, typically major centers like Chel'el'Sussoloth, where they can hide easily in crowds and the diversity of drow and slave races allows for a vague acceptance of them. Many Ne'kalsaider do this to find work, either for their own reasons or possibly in order to buy goods not available in the wilderness of the Underworld. Some may secretly hope that by being simple merchants and overall pleasant that the Drow view of driders may be changed.
It is unknown if there is any desire by the Ne'kalsaider to eventually be able to integrate into Drow civilization or if they wish to remain apart. Given the treatment they might receive or the treatment that at least Waelinider received, they may feel a low-level hostility for Drow. It is also unknown if they worship Sharess, or if they practice Mana Arts, though with aura they certainly are capable of doing so.
It is rumored that the Beldrobbaen clan has relations with the Hive, and send Waelinider to them for treatment in order to save their sanity before the transition into Streekaider. The Hive may be the last resort for Waelinider wandering in the wild. Ne'kalsaider look at the Streekaider with a mix of resentment and pity, and possibly work hard to help Waelinider salvage their minds.