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Damn Pit Spiders!

This was a typical Shavian Empire game session; casualties tended to be a bit high.

I don't remember the name of the world, I don't remember the name of the system. Just some E-port, Nonindustrial, low-tech, low-population colony way out on the Imperial Verge.

We were in the Free Trader Starreach, staying one Jump ahead of the repo men like a lot of free traders end up doing, when we put in at the local port and one of the local cargo brokers tipped us off to a source of spec-trade goods out in the Outback. His source wouldn't say what, but made like it would be worth our while if we checked it out. That, and we were getting desperate.

So we rented a local rough-terrain truck and three of us set off over what passed for roads to the settlement on the map. What we didn't know about were the problems they'd been having with the local wildlife.

About four hours on the road - more like a gravel path through thick brush - we crested a rise right into a herd of small animals crossing the road in front of us. Next thing we know, they're shooting at us!

Animal Encounter: "Spitters" - small herd Omnivore/Gatherers with a natural weapon "As Body Pistol"; when threatened (like an oncoming truck), they scoop up anything small and hard (like stones) and spit them at high velocity at the oncoming threat.

Windshield shatters, engine radiator gets holed, then our driver gets hit and we go right into a ditch. Now we've got a wrecked vehicle and three injured men - two from the crash, and one from the Spitters. Our radio's still working, so we try to get hold of the ship to get a rescue party out to us. Ship can't take off, but they can rent a jeep and get out to us before nightfall - "Just sit tight."

Then we discover some more wildlife - the real nasty kind. The locals call them "Pit Spiders"; trappers who dig out pit traps just under the surface and eat whatever prey crashes through the roof. We found this out the hard way when Jekaloff limps out into the brush to take a piss and just disappears into a hole that wasn't there a moment ago. I hear him screaming, then something like a high-pitched chittering/rasping, then the sounds of a fight and dancing vegetation. I draw my autopistol and go after whatever it is that's got him, then I'm standing on air as the ground gives way under me.

Animal Encounter: "Pit Spider" - a medium-sized burrowing Carnivore/Trapper similar to a giant Ant Lion; digs its pit traps in brush for concealment, often not breaking the surface; your first warning is when the ground collapses under you and the Pit Spider attacks. Unlike most Trappers (which are solitary), Pit Spiders trap in small groups of 1-3, honeycombing an area with traps connected by lair-tunnels.

Next thing I know, I'm crashing down a slope in some underground pit and this thing like a giant spider is all over me, biting and slashing. I start shooting, Jekaloff's across the pit screaming as another one's busy tearing him up, I'm trying to backpedal up this loose slope that just keeps sliding me back down into the thing, then from right above my head, Meade cuts loose with his rifle on full-auto.

Damn pit spiders!

Both Pit Spiders took a full clip apiece before they stopped moving; then we managed to pull Jekaloff out - no easy task, given how slippery that pit was. Jekaloff was in real bad shape; he died a few minutes after we dragged him back to the wreck.

In the meantime, our rescue party is having their own problems. About halfway there, The Q, who's driving, suddenly feels the back wheels go mushy and guns it, just as the road caves in behind him -

"Damn pit spiders!"

He spends two more hours dodging around anything that could be hiding a spider-pit before he gets to us, then since we're closer to that settlement than the port, he figures on heading directly there to get us patched up.

So what's left of us finally get to the settlement and find out what those trade goods were - we lost a man, almost lost two more including me, totaled one truck and almost wrecked another - for a load of the local moonshine!

I think the repo men ended up with the ship. Damn pit spiders...

"Damn Pit Spiders!" became an ongoing tag line by the end of this scenario. This game session was held in a Cal State classroom on a Saturday night; we left a "Damn Pit Spiders!" cartoon up on one of the blackboards, ready to greet the class that'd be coming in on Monday.