One of the largest of the standard ships of space, the all-too-common Deathspider is the pride and joy of the neogi. Its large size and distinctive shape make the Deathspider easily recognizable in space. As a result, it is usually attacked (or avoided if possible) on sight. The neogi Deathspider is divided into the command section and the cargo pits. The command section is in the forward portion of the vessel and contains the bridge, the helm, and the quarters and possesions of the most important neogi aboard. The larger 'abdomen' of the craft is used as weapons platform, cargo space, and slaves' quarters (including the quarters of the lesser neogi). The top half of the abdomen can slide back to reveal a small citadel perched on the lower haunches. This structure is normally revealed only in battle situations, since the Deathspider's weapons are located there. The forward weapons pit of the citadel deck is also the source of boarding parties when the grappling ram captures an enemy ship.
A typical Deathspider will carry 8 neogi, each of whom has a personal umber hulk slave. Additional slaves, umber hulk and otherwise, make up the remainder of the standard 30-man crew, as well as the weapons crews. In total, a Deathdpider will usually carry about 60 or 70 crew, made up of 8 neogi, and 10-16 umber hulks, with the remainder of the crew being humanoid slaves of various races, with humans being the most common. It should be noted that for air considerations a neogi uses half the air of a man-sized creature, while an umber hulk uses twice as much. The result is that a crew of 60 will use about as much air as 66-72 normal men, depending on the number of umber hulks aboard. The most important neogi aboard will be the captain-owner, who will usually also have some spelllcasting ability. The spelljammer is the second-most powerful neogi on the Deathspider (although he is still considered to be a slave of the captain) and will typically be a 6th-8th level mage. The rest of the neogi are lowly slaves, but they can aspire to gain more slaves of their own, and may even become ship owners one day, holding other neogi in their thrall. The non-neogi slaves have no such hope. Should the captain of a Deathspider be slain, the remaining neogi will vote on a new captain. Politicking is intense in these elections, and the neogi with the most powerful umber hulk servant will usually be the winner. In boarding actions the personal umber hulk slaves of the lesser neogi are used as shock troops, supported by the humanoid slaves, and sometimes the lesser neogi as well. Since all creatures in the universe are seen as either slaves or potential slaves, boarding actions are extremely common in order to capture more slaves.
Ship Uses Edit
Neogi Workhorse: The Deathspider is the most common neogi craft, and serves as a cargo hauler, battle wagon, discovery ship, and slave trader. Since all Deathspiders tend to look identical regardless of their function, it is not easy to determine if a given Deathspider is fitted for exploring, or actively hunting for slaves. As a result, all Deathspiders are usually either attacked or evaded, whichever the defending ship is most capable of doing.
Broodship: Those neogi fortunate enough to reach the end of their natural lifespans become Great Old Masters. These old neogi grow to prodigious sizes, and must consume massive amounts of flesh, preferably live, in order to nourish the young neogi growing within their distended abdomens. When this occurs, the Deathspider carrying the Great Old Master is temporarily transformed into a broodship. The cargo pits are cleared to make room for the Great Old Master, and a pen is built for it, with a protective dome so that the abdomen dome can still be retracted when weapons need to be deployed. A broodship is driven by the hunger of the Great Old Master, and will usually attack any ship it encounters in order to provide live food.
Carrier: Some Deathspiders use the additional cargo area of the flight deck to carry a number of small Urchin craft, which can then be used in combat. As many as 20 Urchins may be carried by a Deathspider, and as battles with elven Armadas have destroyed more and more Deathspiders, the use of Urchins to counter the elven Flitters has beome more and more common.
Other Configurations Edit
Hulks: Deathspider hulks are available for sale from the neogi, but since they are not the best ships to be seen in, they are not a popular seller. Those few purchasers who do end up with a Deathspider hulk on their hands tend to strip the ship, removing the legs and sails, while pulling back the dome, or removing it entirely. The hulk is then usually used as an orbiting weapons platform to defend an asteroid base.
Black Widow: Most neogi do not engage in modifying their vessels, using the same configuration regardless of the ship's purpose. The exception to this rule is the Black Widow - a specialized version for use as an attack and retribution craft against enemies who have defeated the neogi in the past. The Black Widow triples the number of ballistas and catapults usually found on a Deathspider. Most of these extra weapons are housed on a large weapons platform which is built on top of the command section and in front of the foreward weapons pit on the citadel deck. The remainder are placed in the flight deck facing aft. In some cases the bridge will be moved to deep within the abdomen, and the former bridge area will be used as a weapons pit for 1-3 greek fire projectors or bombards. A Black Widow will have a mere 10 tons of cargo capacity; less if greek fire projectors or bombards are included as well. These ships also usually overload on crew, requiring a full crew of at least 97 just to man all of the weapons. This overloading does not concern the neogi, since the slaves that survive the battle will typically be eaten on the return trip. Black Widows are never used for any purpose other than warfare. There are rumoured to be as many as a hundred of these ships, but the most that have ever been seen at any time is three, and in this case two attacked each other in a dispute over ownership of the fleet.
Mind Flayer Trader: The only races that have any regular dealings with the neogi are the arcane and the mind flayers. The former have no known ships, and the latter have their own fleets of Nautiloids and Dreadnoughts. Still, several Deathspiders have been traded to illithids in exchange for large slave hauls. Unfortunately for the illithids, the universal hatred of the neogi is such that these ships are subject to immediate attack from most other ships, without waiting to see what race actually controls the ship. Illithid Deathspiders blacken the dome to spare the mind flayers the light of the suns, and do not retract the dome even in combat. Instead, external weapons platforms are fitted in several locations, to be manned by slaves. Since the introduction of the illithid Dreadnought, no new Deathspiders have been purchased by mind flayers.