v0.31:Giant cave spider
Cannot be trained
Exotic - cannot be tamed
Child body size
| Butchering returns
(Value multiplier x4)
|This article is about an older version of DF.|
- A large underground monster with eight legs and sharp, venomous fangs.
Giant cave spiders are far different from your regular cave spiders; those are just treats for your cat. Giant cave spiders are as big as grizzly bears and will make treats of cats, dwarves and the occasional careless adventurer. You can find giant cave spiders in, obviously, caves, caverns and most underground areas. They are extremely dangerous as they feel no pain and thus cannot be stunned, can poison creatures and have the ability to shoot webbing to ensnare their prey.
Giant cave spiders are fortunately (depending on your point of view) not a rarity anymore and there are dozens present in the underground caverns, deep below the surface. They can be extremely hard to kill. Due to the material changes, however, chitin is not as great as armour as it used to be, resulting in a few dwarves, on occasion, punching one to death within a few attacks by punching its skull into its brain, which can be a godsend on an unlucky cavern breaching excercise.
They are both a boon and a bane, the boon being their webs (whenever they aren't a part of the bane.) Giant cave spider silk is worth much more than ordinary cloth and given the proper setup and victims, they can produce endless amounts of it. Be aware that if they are tamed, Giant Cave Spiders will not spit webbing at enemies (or fight back at all) unless they are being attacked themselves.Verify
If you see one in adventure mode, an announcement, "You've spotted a Giant Cave Spider!" will appear.
Giant cave spider venom appears to be a neurotoxin which causes progressive paralysis and is ultimately fatal due to suffocation (and being eaten) as the victim's diaphragm succumbs and ceases to function. The poison's effects set in relatively quickly with complete paralysis at phase 5 (360 seconds) and death usually occurs at around 1300 seconds.
Due to the considerable value of giant cave spider silk, many players attempt to capture a live spider and set up a silk farm to boost their fortress's economy. While simply opening a path to the caverns and lining it with cage traps may eventually work, a much more effective method is to take advantage of one peculiar behavior of building destroyers - simply build a wooden door within the caverns and surround it with cage traps (to a distance of at least 2 tiles), and any giant cave spider (or giant toad, giant olm, cave crocodile, etc.) that enters the caverns will immediately charge toward it and be captured.
 Farming Silk
Several setups have been devised to harvest giant cave spider silk in large quantities. Working silk farms have a few traits in common:
- The spider must be aggressive towards its bait. Tame spiders are aggressive toward invaders, while wild spiders are aggressive toward tame animals.
- The spider must not be able to reach its bait - if it can, the bait (or spider) will die and no further silk will be generated. Spiders can destroy wooden doors but not stone or metal doors. They cannot pass through forbidden doors or doors that have been "tightly closed".
- The spider must be able to path to its bait - they can path through non-forbidden doors but not through raised bridges or fortifications. If no path is available, the spider will only shoot webs very infrequently. Spiders will attempt to path through doors which are "tightly closed" but not forbidden, making them one of the key elements of an efficient silk farm.
- Web collection cannot occur in sight of wild animals or invaders; either the spider or its bait will interrupt collection. Drawbridges work well to block line of sight in either case, as webs will not prevent them from raising.
One proven design is as follows:
- Dig out (and optionally smooth) a sufficiently large room (example shown is 11x11).
- Construct all of the light gray walls and red fortifications.
- Build the 3 green bridges, all raising lengthwise to form long walls.
- Construct a lever somewhere convenient in your fortress and link it to the 3 bridges.
- Build 2 non-wooden doors above and below the gray "S". Mark both doors as pet-inaccessible but leave them unlocked. This allows the spider to path to the bait (due to a long-standing pathfinding bug); without that path, the spider will only attempt to web it extremely infrequently.
- Build a restraint underneath the gray "g". Assign a disarmed captured goblin soldier to the restraint (do not try to use a thief or a wild animal, as it will almost certainly escape before it reaches the restraint).
- Pull the lever to raise the bridges (and hide the goblin from your mason), then construct the blue wall to seal the chamber.
- Build the 2 floodgates and link them to the lever, then pull the lever again.
- Using a pit/pond activity zone on the Z-level above, drop a tamed giant cave spider into the gray "S" square. Place a 1-tile meeting zone on this tile so the spider will be content to stand still while webs are being collected, reducing lag.
At this point, the spider will begin blasting the goblin with webs, and most of the webs will fly through the fortifications and land on the floor to the left. Once enough webs have accumulated, pull the lever to open the chamber for collection and raise the 3 bridges - the bridge on the left will prevent the goblin from scaring your weavers away, and the 2 bridges on the right will block the path between the goblin and the spider, causing it to calm down and stop trying to shoot webs (in order to reduce lag). Once all of the webs have been collected, simply pull the lever again to reseal the chamber and start the spider webbing again.
Note that since this design requires the giant cave spider to be tamed, you must modify your raws to make giant cave spiders non-exotic pets (due to the dungeon master being both nonfunctional and nonexistent). Silk can be farmed just as easily from a wild spider with a few changes. Domesticated pets can be used in place of goblins for a wild spider, but avoid grazers; other animals may need to be replaced when they die of old age. It's recommended that you place a backup cage trap to reposition the spider if your first design doesn't meet your needs, but remember that if any webbing falls on the cage trap, it will trap your dwarves as easily as it will the spider. Wild spiders can be placed via lever-controlled deconstructing cage. Be aware that deconstructing cages can fling components, wedging nearby doors open, so keep any doors adjacent to the cage forbidden.
 Automated Silk Farming
- Dig out a "harvesting chamber" (example shown is 9x7).
- Construct the light gray walls and red fortifications.
- Channel out the area in green, remove the resulting ramps on the level below, and connect this "collection chamber" to your fortress with a single entrance tile
- Build the large green bridge (retracting)
- Construct a pressure plate in the entrance to the collection chamber and link it to the bridge
- Build a cage containing an *untamed* spider at the gray "S", and link it to a lever
- Build a non-wooden door above the spider cage, and mark it forbidden and pet-inaccessible
- Build a restraint under the yellow "d" and attach a *tame* *non-grazing* *hostile* animal (such as a dog)
- Recommended: build a cage trap on the green "^" to recapture your spider later
- Evacuate the chamber and forbid the entrance door
- Pull the lever to release the spider
- Once there are webs on the bridge, send a dwarf into the collection chamber below to trigger the pressure plate and drop the webs for easy collection (once collection has started your weavers will automatically trigger additional webs to drop)
- Sit back and enjoy your fully-automated supply of new silk socks
Note that a simple pit in the harvesting chamber will not work--the bridge is required to cause the "web objects" to drop to the next level (and stack). One spider can easily keep several weavers busy.
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