- "They were already over the walls before the guards knew they were there. The town was destroyed and half the population was carried off to the forest..."
- —Albrecht Heinz, Drakwald Militia[3a]
The forests of the Old World are infested with all kinds of horrible creatures, of which spiders are probably the most numerous. Most are no larger than the palm of a man's hand, but even spiders this small can have a deadly poisonous bite. Others are as big as dragons, great bloated monsters which can hardly move from their lairs and which are revered by the Forest Goblins as gods of the forest. There are all sorts and shapes of spider between the two extremes, including the creatures about the size of small ponies which Forest Goblins capture and ride. These are captured when still small and raised on tasty tit-bits until they are big enough to ride. As they are hand-reared these spiders become accustomed to Goblins and quickly learn to accept a rider.[1a]
The giant spider breed grows large enough to serve as mounts for Forest Goblins, who capture and hand rear these scuttling nightmares. There are many types of giant spider, such as Tilean Greybacks, Drakwald Mancatchers, and the Scarlet Deathheads of the Great Forest, to name just a few.[3a] All are poisonous and have steely, pincer-like mandibles that can punch through platemail to deliver a toxic bite. While not as fast as wolves or horses, these spiders can move at speed through the most dense patches of woods.[2a][3a] Forest Goblin Spider Riders have become masters at stalking their prey, nimbly guiding their multi-legged beasts to scuttle across the treetop canopy in order to get into ideal position before pouncing. Spider Rider mobs are known to ambush Empire patrols, eradicate Beastmen herds or even attack large monsters that encroach into their territory.[3a]
In battle Spider Riders act as light cavalry, although the shrewd gobbos always look to manoeuvre into dense terrain. They know that once ensconced in a copse of trees, the Spider Riders will have cover from an enemies' attacks while being able to quickly launch their own deadly strikes. Some Spider Rider mobs are equipped with bows and these regiments tipically slink over obstacles or around an enemy's flanks seeking to pick off vulnerable targets. The most aggressive Spider Riders scurry straight at a foe, relying on their spears and the venomous bites of their mounts. When they charge, the Forest Goblins are well known for screaming out their horrible, high-pitched and undulating battle cries.[3a]
Cunning raiders, Spider Riders have learned to creep soundlessly from beneath the eaves to launch ambushes or to make suprise attacks. The climbing ability of their mounts allows Spider Riders to effortlessly clamber up and over wooden palisades or even high stone walls to reach the more vulnerable villages beyond. Spider Riders have become adept at attacking defended buildings, plucking defenders from ramparts and storming through even the smallest of openings. The inhabitants of those settlements that lie within a few days' march of Goblin-infested woods have rightfully grown to fear the eight legged-death-bringers, which can so easily breach their defensive walls and towers.[3a]
Spider Riders fight in mobs of at least 5 Forest Goblins riding Giant Spiders, one of which can be the mob's Boss, another a musician, and a third a standard bearer. All of them are armed with shields and spears, and they may also take short bows.[3b]