Neogi deathspiders were the standard spelljamming ships employed by neogi spacefarers. They were easily recognizable for their size and characteristic shape and were one of the largest vessels in Known Space.
Deathspiders were large spider-shaped vessels. Unlike the spelljammers crafted by most other races, deathspiders were built from a dark crystalline material. Their forward sections contained the spelljamming helm and crew's quarters, while the aft section (the "abdomen") was used as slaves' quarters, weapon platforms, and cargo compartments. The rear cargo hold was large enough to carry up to sixteen urchin vessels or a full-sized mindspider. During battle, the upper half of the abdomen could slide open to reveal a small citadel containing the weapons.
The interior of a deathspider had black, crystalline walls and was lit by an eerie red light coming from disc-shaped implements in the ceilings. The bridge had three red, circular windows that served as the spider's "eyes".
Deathspiders were capable of sustaining a compliment of up to 100 individuals and required a minimum crew of at least 30 to remain operational. Typically, eight neogi, each with an umber hulk slave, commanded a deathspider, while the remainder of the crew was composed of slaves working in the deeper sections of the ship. Command hierarchy followed typical slaver neogi logic: the captain owned every other crew member, as well as their own slaves. Should a captain be killed, a replacement would be elected among the remaining neogi on board.
Deathspiders were the pride of the neogi. As their standard vessel, they were employed for a variety of uses, as trade ships, slave hunters and carriers, exploration vessels, and warships. It was also common to see deathspiders that had been modified to carry mindspiders in their abdomens, or to serve as broodships for a great old master. Different configurations did not substantially change the ship's appearance, so deathspiders were either attacked on sight or avoided by other vessels.
Rare, heavily armed deathspider variants known as black widows were sometimes used to fight against enemies against whom the neogi held a particularly vicious grudge.
A deathspider had four forward-flowing "arms" that functioned as grappling rams, with which it trapped other ships. Because of this design, boarders—that is, neogi slaves—had to travel from the fore of the open citadel or battle deck over the narrower command section and above the bridge to reach the opponents' grappled ship. This gave defenders a slight tactical advantage when being boarded, assuming the trapped ship could repel an onslaught of scores of slaves and possibly umber hulks.
In a space battle, deathspiders were most deadly from the rear, as a typical vessel had two rear facing heavy ballistae, a heavy catapult, and a heavy jettison. This was in comparison to only two front-facing heavy ballistae. On the other, hand, a vessel attacking or defending against a neogi deathspider from the front was a risk at being grappled.
In 1361 DR, the Void Reaper, a deathspider captained by Prissith Nerro, ambushed the hammership Probe as it was on its way to Realmspace with the Cloakmaster Teldin Moore. The crew of the Probe narrowly escaped from the attack but took heavy loss of of life. The Void Reaper pursued the Probe as far as the planet Toril, before its captain was slain in combat in orbit around the planet.
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Jeff Grubb (August 1989). “Lorebook of the Void”. Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space (TSR, Inc.), pp. 41–43. ISBN 0-88038-762-9.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Jeff Grubb (August 1989). “Concordance of Arcane Space”. Spelljammer: AD&D Adventures in Space (TSR, Inc.), p. 31. ISBN 0-88038-762-9.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 Dale "slade" Henson (March 1992). “Ship Recognition Manual”. In Jon Pickens ed. War Captain's Companion (TSR, Inc.), p. 18. ISBN 1-56076-343-4.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Nigel Findley (September 1991). Into the Void. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 6. ISBN ISBN 1-56076-154-7.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Nigel Findley (September 1991). Into the Void. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 7. ISBN ISBN 1-56076-154-7.
- ↑ Nigel Findley (September 1991). Into the Void. (TSR, Inc.), chap. 16. ISBN ISBN 1-56076-154-7.