Clockwork Wonders10/09/2006

The Spider Thief
Part 2 of 14

“I left it right here!” said Guildmaster Markell. “It was still warm from my touch!”
“Well, I didn’t take it,” said the apprentice.

“Don’t lie to me,” said the Guildmaster. His voice grew cold. “Or it will go worse for you.” Sparks flew from his fingertips.
“I’m not lying!” yelped the apprentice.

The squabbling covered the noise of a scuttling black thing moving along the ceiling, step by careful step, its claws holding a gleaming prize.

The spider thief is a living construct built to steal and scuttle away with small valuables. Some believe it was originally made by one of Agostin’s apprentices to steal ingredients, expensive components, and funds for beer-swilling for the normally impoverished apprentices. The story claims that the scam was eventually discovered and the spider thief was destroyed at their master’s hands, but the knowledge of how to build one was not so easily extinguished – and apprentices have built dozens or hundreds of the noxious things ever since, each with its own small refinements.


To look at it, a spider thief is just a collection of eight to twelve mechanical claws around a central mechanical iris that serves as a sort of eye. The whole thing often painted black or grey. The genius of it is that it moves very silently and its claw-legs are capable of climbing any surface, even along ceilings and sometimes glass, because of a slightly stickiness at the tip of each claw. When not climbing or moving silently through a room, spider thieves can roll up into a ball and roll like a pillbug. This seems especially effective on slopes and stairs, where it allows them to “run” at rate of 160 feet per round.

Use and Powers

The spider thief is a sort of a mechanical mage hand with a kleptomanical streak. Spider thieves love to take small objects and inspect them, even when not ordered to do so, and they “worry” at stones, bits of bright cloth, coins, and the like.

A spider thief responds only to its maker and those who know its secret command word. It ignores all others. It knows really just two commands: “Bring me (X)” and “Give this to (Y)”. When ordered to, a spider thief can go out and carry away objects weighing up to 1 pound. If carefully instructed, it can also carry an object weighing up to 1 pound to a particular location.

A spider thief only fights in self-defense, and only when trapped and unable to escape.

Many attempts have been made to make a spider thief into a spy. They seem ideally suited for the role, but their animating spirits always seem entirely uninterested in the task. Spider thieves sent as observers usually return with reports of what treasures they saw at a location (from buttons to gemstones), what interesting garbage they found on their journey to and from a location, and so on.

CL 3; Craft Construct, mage hand, spider climb; Price 750 gp; Cost 375 gp + 30 XP.

Spider Thief CR 2
Always N Diminutive Construct
Init +5; Senses darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision; Listen +1, Spot +1
Languages Common (cannot speak)

AC 19, touch 19, flat-footed 14
(+5 Dex, +4 size)
hp 16 (3 HD)
Immune mind-affecting effects, poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, disease, death effects, necromantic effects, critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability damage, ability drain, fatigue, exhaustion, energy drain, any effect that requires a Fort save (unless it affects objects)
Fort +1, Ref +6, Will +0

Speed 20 ft. (4 squares), climb 20 ft.
Melee claw +11 (1 + poison)
Ranged claw +11 (1 + poison); 5 ft. no range increment
Space 2 1/2 ft.; Reach 0 ft.
Base Atk +2; Grp -15
Atk Options poison

Abilities Str 1, Dex 21, Con --, Int 10, Wis 8, Cha 8
SQ construct traits
Feats Alertness, Deft Hands, Weapon Finesse(B)
Skills Appraise +4, Climb +13, Hide +17, Listen +1, Move Silently +6, Open Lock +6, Ride +6, Sleight of Hand +7, Spot +1, Use Rope +7
Advancement 4– 6 HD (Tiny)

Poison (Ex): Each claw of a spider thief is loaded with three doses of a sleeping poison (injury, Fort DC 11, initial sleep 1d4 minutes, secondary none). If a spider thief wishes to, it can throw its claws like a syringe up with a five foot range increment. It takes a full round action for the spider thief to recover and reattach its claw.

Skills: A spider thief uses its Dexterity modifier for Climb checks instead of its Strength modifier. A spider thief can climb ropes, can use its Climb skill to scuttle along a ceiling. It gains a +8 racial bonus to Climb checks. It can use its claws to "ride" a mount by spurring it in the appropriate direction with sharp claw jabs (opposed Spot check vs. its Hide check required to notice it as a rider).

About the Author

Wolfgang Baur is the author of Frostburn, Planes of Law, the Dark*Matter campaign setting, Assassin Mountain, A Gathering of Winds for the Age of Worms adventure path, and many other things. He discusses adventure design and writes tailored modules for patrons of the Open Design blog.

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