Blackspawn stalkers were terrifying but nearly mindless predatory dragonspawn combining the worst traits of black dragons and spiders. A related creature was the blackspawn gloomweb, which could also shroud itself in darkness.[note 1]
A blackspawn stalker was a large arachnoid creature with six legs and two spined tails from which webbing was emitted. They also had six eyes and four horns on their heads, while their mouths drooled green acid. Blackspawn stalkers stood 6–8 feet (1.8–2.4 meters) tall, with a 7–10 foot (2.1–3.0 meters) leg span, and weighed up to 5,000 pounds (2,300 kilograms). The females were generally larger than the males.
Although not nearly as smart as their dragon progenitors, and in fact almost mindless, blackspawn stalkers were nevertheless superb and patient hunters and constantly sought new prey. They respected strength, especially the strength to overpower others, and would even be proud to serve a more powerful master, at least until they showed weakness or abused their services. Thus, they were chaotic evil in nature. The goddess Tiamat, the Queen of Evil Dragons, created blackspawn stalkers to terrorize their prey, as she gained strength from fear and panic, and this they did gladly. They viewed her as their ultimate master and believed that, through their breeding, they would give rise to a perfect servant worthy of being chosen to serve Tiamat herself. If they had nothing else to do or no other master to serve, blackspawn stalkers bred as often as they could.
Gloomwebs were equally unintelligent, and very aggressive and impatient. These qualities meant they were very hard for others to train. However, they were more bestial and lacked a truly evil nature.
Blackspawn stalkers were immune to acid and were also capable of spitting their acidic saliva to a distance of 60 feet (18 meters) and biting their prey to inflict corrosive injuries. Additionally, thanks to Tiamat's blessing, other dragonspawn within 5 feet (1.5 meters) of the stalker gained immunity to acid as well.
Blackspawn stalkers could produce spider-like webbing, up to eight times each day and two at a time with each of their tails. There were two ways they could use their webs. One way created a sheet of webbing up to 20 feet (6.1 meters) to a side, which they used to form traps; they were difficult to spot before one blundered into them. The stalker could climb this web easily and sense any creature in contact with it. The other way hurled webbing directly at creature, up to 50 feet (15 meters) away or more, tangling them up like a net and sticking them to the ground where they were. The webs were tough and sticky and difficult to break out of.
Similarly, gloomwebs were highly resistant to acid and had acidic saliva, with which they could bite prey to also inflict corrosive injuries. But rather than spit acid or spin web traps, they launched sticky acid-dripping webs that tangled and burned their victims at the same time.
True to its name, a gloomweb was surrounded by ever-swirling shadows. When the gloomweb remained stationary for some seconds, these shadows settled into a cloud around it, making it very hard to target. When it moved again, this cloud dissipated. Either way, they aided its already impressive stealth skills.
Blackspawn stalkers were not fighters so much as hunters. Skilled and patient predators, they preferred to set traps by stretching webs between trees or over the ground, depending on their choice of prey, and then wait for prey to blunder in. They remained in the trees, where they had the advantage of height and safety. If this tactic failed, the stalker attacked directly, whether by hurling webs or spitting acid to first weaken the prey, and then rushing in to gore them with their four horns or bite with their acidic saliva, or strike with their two tails.
Lacking such patience, blackspawn gloomwebs preferred to lurk in shadows and then simply charge at and gore their victims with their four horns. Thereafter they engaged in skirmish tactics, rushing away again to come about and repeat the process. When faced by multiple opponents, they launched their acidic webs to restrain one or more of them. They began devouring even before their prey were overcome by the acid.
Blackspawn stalkers were capable of breeding more of their kind. To impress a potential female mate, two males locked horns and wrestled in a test of strength. They mated for life, and each mated pair laid eggs annually, which they distributed across up to six nests to increase the chances of some surviving. Since many other creatures (like large birds and other flying creatures) ate the eggs, only a few would hatch. In the rare event that all survived, the hatchling stalkers would gather and maraud through the area, slaughtering all living creatures they came across.
Blackspawn stalkers were voracious carnivores who could consume prey by either biting, tearing off, and swallowing flesh or by using their acidic saliva to dissolve organic matter and sucking it up.
With age, they grew bigger and ever more dangerous. This was particularly the case for the best hunters, and especially those that got to hunt good dragons and devour their flesh.
Although normally solitary, mated pairs of blackspawn stalkers were sometimes come across. Otherwise, they saw others of their own kind as competition, either for food or for mates.
Stalkers were willing to serve more powerful creatures, usually true dragons or stronger dragonspawn. The stalkers had a preference for black dragons, but occasionally joined green or red dragons, who respected the stalkers' hunting skills. The blackspawn stalkers worked for them as guards or assistants in a hunt. They would leave a master who abused them or displayed weakness, usually attacking them before they went.
Like dragons, they collected treasure, but instead of hoarding it they spread it around in many stashes and caches.
Found in warm and temperate climes, blackspawn stalkers favored swamplands, but could adapt to dense forests if need be. Either way, they occupied the canopy of trees, constructing nests and laying eggs in the upper branches. Gloomwebs, meanwhile, occupied remote caves.
- The 3.5-edition Monster Manual IV first presented the blackspawn stalker, and the 4th-edition Monster Manual later presented the blackspawn gloomweb. While they have some key differences, they are very similar in concept and hence are both covered on this page. It is unclear what lore about stalkers also applies to gloomwebs. However, it is unknown if the gloomweb may be found in the Realms.
Bluespawn: Ambusher • Burrower • Godslayer • Stoneglider • Stormlizard
Greenspawn: Leaper • Razorfiend • Sneak • Zealot
Redspawn: Birther • Devastator • Firebelcher
Whitespawn: Hordeling • Hunter • Iceskidder
Felljaw • Haraevor • Purplespawn nightmare