A Jangese Ariadne race and arguably its oldest surviving subspecies, Jorogumo are known for their elegance, intelligence, and duplicity. Whilst they were at one point one of the most numerous of all the Ariane races, they adapted exceptionally poorly to the rise of the younger races, their power-base fracturing and ultimately leaving them scattered and solitary.
Many of them are loners and live at the fringe of civilization, operating as wandering nomads or infiltrating and living amongst other humanoids. Still others act as vigilantes from the shadows, hunting down evildoers - or simply eliminating threats they deem appropriate. As even the most kind-hearted of Jurogumo has a tendency for deceit, it can be extremely difficult to determine their true feelings.
With the rise of the younger races, several have wound up working for Destiny's Call, but given their skill with deception, it's believed only a rare few in the organization are even aware what they actually are.
Jorogumo are reknown for their appearances - both for their beauty, and for the fact that most Jorogumo have several faces they can choose to show. In their natural form, a given Jorogumo resembles an exceptionally attractive human from the waist-up - albeit with several additional eyes. From the waist down, they resemble spiders. Unlike the larger Arachne, which are generally large and fluffy, a Jorogumo's spider half is often quite elegant and beautiful in its own right, resembling an orb weaver; fitting as they are web-spinning spiders unlike their cousins from Fontraile. In their natural form, a Jorogumo is often over seven feet tall and weighs over 300 pounds, with females significantly larger and heavier than males. A Jorogumo's eyes are located in its forehead, and are often bright red or yellow.
Most notably, Jorogumo have the ability to change forms - turning into a humanoid of a specific species, or taking the form of a giant spider. The humanoid species is typically that of a human woman or elf (though with practice, other forms are possible), and closely resembles its humanoid half. The giant spider form is essentially a full spider version of its lower half, albeit bigger. This change of shape is no illusion; it is a natural ability of theirs, and such that it can even fool divination spells.With training, a Jorogumo can develop other humanoid forms; one may do this to develop a disguise based upon a new race they have encountered. Typically their guises are human, elven, or demihuman in appearance.
A given Jorogumo tends to use its ability to change forms quite effectively, and many of them are quite skilled actors in their own right, proving remarkably adept at assuming multiple roles to achieve their goals; an old Jangese proverb goes that Jorogumo often maintain disguises that almost everything about is forgettable, to maintain their cover. Because their ability to change forms is not magical in nature, they are quite able to pass as other races; even detection spells fail to recognize that a Jorogumo is in the area if they don't wish to be found, though they often reveal this some other way. Not all Jorogumo can change form; if one of a Jorogumo's forms (other than her natural one) is too heavily damaged, she may lose access to it entirely until it recovers - if it even can.
Noteworthy Attributes Edit
The innate ability of a Jorogumo to change forms is by far its best-known ability, but they have many more as well. Jorogumo are amazing weavers and skilled with using their silk - both to create webs, and to make clothing, which is both extremely durable and highly prized for its ability to be enchanted. They're surprisingly strong relative to their slender builds, capable of inhuman leaps and climbing most surfaces with ease. They have limited regenerative ability; they can lose a leg and it will grow back, given time.
The forelegs of a Jorogumo are long and hook-shaped, good for grabbing things. In an emergency, larger Jorogumo can use these forelegs as brutal slashing weapons. Additionally, every single Jorogumo is venomous in all three of its forms, generating a nasty venom from specialized glands that acts as a paralyzing agent. In larger doses it starts to break down tissue. A Jorogumo in combat often reacts with blinding speed and terrifying precision; in any of their three forms they are quick to sieze on opportunities and will not hesitate to subdue foes quickly. In hybrid or spider form, they can wrap a target in silk with devastating speed, and they excel at finding weak-points to exploit when in close combat. Jorogumo in general maintain a predatory mindset; they require large amounts of protein to maintain their web-spinning abilities.
Like all Ariadne races, caffeine affects them in a fashion not unlike alcohol does humanoid races.
A truly ancient race, Jorogumo do not die of old age and can live thousands of years. They are often accomplished mages as well, and frequently are capable of using either arcane, shamanistic, or divine magic with equal frequency. Many Jorogumo consider it a point of pride to back up their abilities with illusion magic.
Jorogumo have additional abilities as well. In the ancient past, the Jorogumo belonged to one of four noble "clans" of their kind; each Jorogumo from this clan had an innate ability they obtained through selective breeding over time. The Clan of Webs had the ability to weave webs laced with poison; the Clan of Venom had the ability to spit poison as a deadly venomous spray; the Clan of Hunting were larger and stronger; and the Clan of Spiders had the ability to gain control of smaller, mundane and monstrous spiders, which treated the Jorogumo as their sovereign. When the Jorogumo clans fell during Jang's dark ages, they scattered, the individual clan members blending in with humanoid societies. Though no tie to their clannish origins remains, their abilities do, and any given Jorogumo may exhibit any one of these unique capabilities.
Jorogumo are well-known for their mating habits - mostly because they tend to mire others in tragedy. In some cases a Jorogumo poses as a humanoid for years or even decades, carrying on relationships and even marrying people they care particularly about. In time, however, their true nature will become known - either due to their predatory tendencies or because the children of such a relationship are invariably more Jorogumo. Additionally, even the most loving Jorogumo can prove possessive of a given mate, especially when in rut or ready to lay eggs.
Jorogumo are compatible with humans and elves, but at a very low rate of success. They can easily interbreed with the other Ariadne races, however, including Arachne and Algenie.
As a whole, Jorogumo are slow to trust and tend to carry a variety of cover-identities using their shapeshifting abilities. No longer a unified race, they tend to be loners, though many are quite adept for living amongst humans or elves, sometimes for years, without letting their true nature be known. A huge number of Jorogumo have been isolated for an extended period, unaware of the wider world as they've been too embroiled in their own attempts to survive. More recent contact with populations on Fontraile has caused some to consider the other races of the continent boorish and naive, though useful allies in their own right.
Jorogumo are generally reserved folk, ascribing great value to both personal decorum and aesthetics. They generally prize beauty and harmony, both in nature and relationships. Jorogumo are firm believers in the Jangese kami, the spirits that are believed to dwell in all things. Jorogumo have a great reverence for the elderly and proper etiquette when dealing with one's elders is important in their eyes. To a Jorogumo, the biggest sign of trust one can give is showing one's true face. As a consequence of their abilities, many Jorogumo suffer personality collapses, having worn a mask for so long that they've become what's beneath. Such Jorogumo are prone to analyzing their lives and perhaps dedicating to something better. Others are set in their ways, refusing to live any other way than how they always have.
In the past, the Jorogumo were very powerful, both politically and militarily, with a feudal aristocracy established in northern Jang. Their country was relatively open, with both Jorogumo and other races living together in the province. With the fall of the powerful lord ruling the province, however, the four descendants of this lord scattered and began to make war with one another over the birthright they felt were denied to them by their deceased father.
Although each was ostensibly supposed to be responsible for overseeing their own part of the territory, each one became absolutely obsessed with breaking the one another's power, and their slow, smoldering war wrought havoc on the lives of their subjects.Their samurai clashed openly in the streets, heedless of the commoners caught in the conflict. Assassins slinked through the shadows, carrying out sabotage and murder. Periodically, the struggles exploded into outright war as the forces of the Jorogumo clans slaughtered one another in gruesome battles. Within a decade, there was no longer any civic order in several villages at all. The greed and pride of the shujin literally tore the province apart, as the occupants of their region carried on with their lives as best they could, though a number turned to bandit and brigand groups to protect them from their own nobility.
Ultimately, the clans scattered entirely, and the Jorogumo ceased to be united as a race.
A common (if disproven) tale told of Jorogumo is that they were first created by a Jangese goddess of vengeance who sought a way to punish unfaithful people and betrayers. Even now, many Jorogumo claim this heritage, but it's uncertain if it's due to simple boasting or to prove something to the Kitsunes, who Jorogumo as a whole have a terrible relationship with.