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Tech level? Medieval.

Magic? Yep. More specifically: using levitation.

Forests surround my town, which is built in a wild forest on a river trade route to protect merchants.

How would I build my town to be spider proof?

The spiders are five feet tall and three feet wide, with web spinning abilities and poisonous venom.

For the sake of this question: please ignore any reasons a giant spider cannot scientifically exist.

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    $\begingroup$ Giant spiders do exist! :) $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Apr 7 '15 at 18:43
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    $\begingroup$ For some reason i can only think of making a giant ring of fire going outwards to burn the entire forest down. Destroy every single place they might live, and hope (or pray) they don't start burrowing. I don't like your question/idea, every inch of me is screaming "burn them, BURN THEM ALL" $\endgroup$ – Spacemonkey Apr 7 '15 at 18:47
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    $\begingroup$ Also, not sure how safe the river is..... some nastily big spiders do swim. $\endgroup$ – Spacemonkey Apr 7 '15 at 18:51
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    $\begingroup$ I just had to comment that I can't think of any spider which is taller than it is wide (the legs seem to spread out more if the spider is taller?) Even spiderman spreads out his arms and legs when he climbs - but I'll accept that it is probably just a rough size for the sake of the question :) $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Apr 7 '15 at 21:24
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    $\begingroup$ First you build the city, then you get some giant spiders and... wait, is that not what you meant? $\endgroup$ – Ilmari Karonen Apr 8 '15 at 12:53

11 Answers 11

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Town of Orangey cinnamon peppermint. Ya no joke.

Spiders hunt in part by scent (apparently sweaty socks are a treat for them) and there are a few scents that repulse them pretty heavily, and as an added bonus...those scents actually smell decent to us. Surround the town walls with a ring of peppermint plants and wet down the walls with an orange cinnamon oil mixture. Peppermint oil works exceedingly well too.

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    $\begingroup$ @dustinjackson - From a story point, this could have an interesting implication of having to import said oils and scents, as well as a program of constantly reapplying these scents to the town. $\endgroup$ – Twelfth Apr 8 '15 at 19:33
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    $\begingroup$ Upon reading this answer, it was clear I had to create an account for this site to upvote it! $\endgroup$ – Qwerty Apr 9 '15 at 9:59
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The City of Nope

Due to an incredibly pressing need, the inhabitants have developed flamethrowers hundreds of years early. Children are given their first one as toddlers, and are trained and drilled in their use from an early age. The construction of the city is entirely stone, to negate the frequent use of cleansing fire.

Even fire isn't totally sufficient though, so once a year the residents do a water purge. The entire city is designed so that, through a series of gates and levies, the nearby river can flood the entire area. Basements have drains and sluices to handle the expected water flow. Everything perishable is picked up, families gather on their roofs (flamethrowers ready for surprise guests), and they party for two days as anything that did manage to survive is drowned or washed away.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd settle for this. But I want TWO flamethrowers. Also, add Oil vats that mix into the water when you originally flood the town and light it up so you flood AND scorch everything, you know... just to make extra sure. $\endgroup$ – Spacemonkey Apr 7 '15 at 18:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Spacemonkey Then they are homeless and wall less. In other words, dead since the spiders from surrounding regions would come after them after seeing the flames. Stone can be damaged by fire too. $\endgroup$ – the_OTHER_DJMethaneMan Apr 7 '15 at 19:13
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    $\begingroup$ How do walls stop spiders? Most of the time when I see one, it's on the wall.... $\endgroup$ – Spacemonkey Apr 7 '15 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ @Spacemonkey It doesn't stop them, but soldiers can easier scan a wall for a ten foot spider than search the town for it. They man the wall, look down, see a single spider and shoot it with an arrow. The real threat comes when several packs form a temporary swarm during a feeding frenzy. $\endgroup$ – the_OTHER_DJMethaneMan Apr 8 '15 at 12:56
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    $\begingroup$ I have been here for quite a while now and this is my favorite answer in all questions so far. BTW since there is magic involved, maybe kids can be taught fireball spells instead of having to handle flamethrowers. $\endgroup$ – Renan Jul 18 '16 at 17:10
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They approached the fabled city surrounded by spiders, the boat rocking slightly on the massive river. Luckily, the river was wide enough where trees were not a worry, they only spanned a very short distance over the water.

One of the guards shot a spider skating quickly towards them, across the water. Spiders were not able to drop down from above but some were still a nuisance apparently.

As they approached the city, Tim saw impenetrable stone walls surrounding it. The city was dome-shaped, with a great amount of water falling down the sloped stone surface.

"But how do we get in?" he asked, and promptly fell off his seat as their boat started to rise up out of the river. His guide, rolling his eyes, continued the levitation spell until they were above the city, where there was a great rounded opening in the ceiling.

It appeared the water was supplied by the river, like some sort of fountain. The spiders were unable to climb the slick, wet stone with so much water flowing across it. Tim noticed a lack of trees above the domed city, probably kept cleared away for safety.

They entered the dome and Tim saw spikes below, with a few impaled spiders. "Some of them can jump" somebody explained, before Tim could could a word out of his opened mouth. They floated down, into an entry way and into the great city, where spider fur coats and web-spun armor were everywhere.

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  • $\begingroup$ Rather than water, the "slick stone surface" could use spider-grease or some other slick substance as well. $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Apr 7 '15 at 21:58
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    $\begingroup$ I'm running a D&D campaign in which the party have just reached a city set in a forest that's home to giant spiders, and this is more or less how I'm doing it. The city was built by the elves, and the walls are elvencraft stonework - unnaturally smooth, very hard for spiders to find purchase on. Elves are known for their nature magic, which is how they keep trees from overhanging the walls to allow spiders to drop in. At that point, all that's left is to post guards trained with crossbows and pikes, issue them with web-dissolving potions, and keep the gates shut at night. $\endgroup$ – anaximander Apr 8 '15 at 14:11
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    $\begingroup$ I'd recommend building the dome out of glass (or, if you'd like to get fancy, diamond or maybe sapphire) instead of rock, unless you and your city's inhabitants like that "dark cave dripping with water" aesthetic. Or you could just leave out the actual roof of the dome, and just build vertical walls tall enough to deter the spiders. It would still get pretty shady close to the walls, at least for half the day, but at least there'd be a fairly big skylight. Bonus points for painting the inside of the walls white. $\endgroup$ – Ilmari Karonen Apr 8 '15 at 19:01
  • $\begingroup$ @IlmariKaronen I like the glass idea, but would you have to worry about a lens effect causing the town to get rather hot? (thinking magnifying glass vs ants or this building) $\endgroup$ – DoubleDouble Apr 13 '15 at 17:26
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    $\begingroup$ @DoubleDouble: The glass would be curved the same way on both sides, so (assuming the wall wasn't deliberately built bumpy) any "lens effects" would mostly cancel out, just like they do for a flat pane of glass. (Also, of course, if the wall had a rough or matte surface, or was built out of separate glass blocks, then it would tend to scatter light more or less randomly, giving it a sparkly or a milky appearance.) $\endgroup$ – Ilmari Karonen Apr 13 '15 at 20:58
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The Wasp Riders

The spider's natural enemy is the wasp. Wasps sting spiders and bring them, paralyzed, back to their nests to feed their young. That won't work on a fully grown giant spider (unless the town raises giant wasps, which I suppose is a possibility. They might make for a great air force, as well), but even if the wasps are small, they could sting the spider's young before they grew to be large.

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    $\begingroup$ Coming soon: "How do I rid my city of millions of angry wasps?" $\endgroup$ – Geobits Apr 8 '15 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ @Geobits - that's easy. You create robotic wasps that hunt your angry wasps $\endgroup$ – user4239 Apr 9 '15 at 1:57
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    $\begingroup$ Alternatives: giant scorpions, giant bats or giant lizards. Will be an epic world! $\endgroup$ – Taladris Apr 9 '15 at 7:29
  • $\begingroup$ That reminds me of how I use biological remedies for my landscape and garden. We have awsome passion flower vines with huge purple blooms surrounding the front door. My wife does not like the ugly catepillars it attacts, especially when they absail down onto her en masse. So I introduced 6000 carnivorous wasps and she never complained about the catepillars again! $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Jul 19 '16 at 4:40
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Fire and axes would be the primary defense against them. One thing that would work well would be to find/train animals that fear the spiders, monkeys or loud birds. So when they spot a spider creeping about they will raise a cry to warn the watch. They will be armed with flaming arrows and axes should the spiders get close enough to need a more personal touch.

Of course the most important thing is to have the forest pushed back far enough to have good open land between the town walls and the nearest trees, allowing for a warning to be given in time. But that is good tactics for any town worried about attack.

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I'm going to try using (abusing) the magic/levitation option.

The quiet town of Solar

The town is huddled in a circular fashion on both banks of the river. There are no walls, no fences, however the trees are cut and only grass grows for a good 50 meters between the forest and the city limits. The entire town is abnormally tidy and only a very few pets can be found.

The only sign of any danger lurking nearby is the often battered state of the merchants drifting along the river into town, and the town square. In the center of the square is an orb. A very peculiar one, for starters it floats, or levitates, hovering a few feet off the ground and never straying more than a few inches from its position. The orb is made of a strange material, liquid metal? light? maybe air or some unknown gas? Scholars have yet to decipher it. It was discovered by adventurers long ago. Every few seconds the Orb hums and sends a smaller identical orb swirling around in the air and eventually losing itself into the forest. This delights children who are constantly reminded by their elders not to follow them, for the forest holds many dangers; giant ugly disgusting evil nasty spiders. These spiders have no souls and desire only death and destruction. Killing them is considered holy. However nature (being a moron) has made them very tough to kill. In fact many wonder how the town manages to survive and thrive despite the 8-legged-monstrosities lurking at it's gates.

It was Gerald HairyNose who was born much too curious for his own good, that woke one day and followed a small orb into the woods. He walked for hours following the joyous ball of undetermined-material before an uneasy feeling crept over him. He thought he was going to die that day when the 10 feet tall spider caressed his spine with one of it's furry legs. But before it had a chance to enjoy Gerald's fleshy-ness fully, the little orb fused into the horrifying monster, immediately causing it to float, up up up and further away as the creature helplessly tried to grab branches and trees as it inched ever higher, over the canopy, and through the clouds, into the heavens and into the scorching sun where it burned and broiled and was incinerated past crispy cinder dust. Of course Gerald saw all of this, having incredibly amazing eyesight. He ran as fast as his hairy toed legs could carry him, back to the town where he sat in the tavern (which he's never left since) telling his story to who-ever would indulge him.

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Cover your city with a net made of thick rope, (holes too small) for the big spiders to get in. Have patrols shoot any that climb on top with arrows, and kill any little ones that get through.

Or live in tunnels underground. But that's for dwarves.

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  • $\begingroup$ What is to stop the spiders from chewing through if they approach in a swarm? $\endgroup$ – the_OTHER_DJMethaneMan Apr 8 '15 at 12:54
  • $\begingroup$ @DustinJackson - Spiders don't have very impressive mandibles. It'd be a disaster for mantises, but spiders rarely chew through anything save their own webs. If it's a problem, wrap a thin chain around the rope to break their mouthparts. You do need attention to drive the spiders away with arrows (or pikes) now and then, but you're basically safe day-to-day. $\endgroup$ – Rex Kerr Apr 8 '15 at 20:25
  • $\begingroup$ @DustinJackson - I should say--spiders don't actually have "manidibles"; the inner mouthparts are given different names. See for instance earthlife.net/chelicerata/s-anatomy.html $\endgroup$ – Rex Kerr Apr 8 '15 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ I'm a fan of this answer. Throwing away all historically-inaccurate elements except the spiders, this seems the easiest and most logical choice: wrap the city in a form of “rope/chain mail”. Low upkeep, great benefits, and leaves open the opportunity for freak encounters—much like how the humans in Attack on Titan defend against the threat of titans until every goes nutsoz. $\endgroup$ – Slipp D. Thompson Apr 10 '15 at 3:34
  • $\begingroup$ But wouldn't younger spiders be able to get through? $\endgroup$ – IndigoFenix Jul 19 '16 at 10:12
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Fight spiders with spiders. Raise jumping spiders as pets. Train them to hunt other spiders. (In Castle Roogna by Piers Anthony the hero gets a massive pet jumper spider.)

A corps of Spider hunters would make for a great faction in the city.

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  • $\begingroup$ I give points for originality.....but very few spider species can be "tamed" and I doubt the ones that can be tamed will grow to be huge. $\endgroup$ – the_OTHER_DJMethaneMan Apr 8 '15 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ In junior high, I had a friend who caught tarantulas on her family's desert outings and tamed them so they were comfortable pets. Good money in that, and a Mojave tarantula isn't tiny. $\endgroup$ – Zither13 Apr 26 '15 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Zither13 I never said tiny. I also said few spider species can be tamed. They are more instinct driven than common house pets such as cats and dogs. In reality the larger species are much more docile - which is why they can be "tamed" (mine are obviously not docile). Nice idea though. I actually went with something along those lines. A species of giant insect bread to seek out and eat spider eggs and the accepted answer. Thanks for the effort :). $\endgroup$ – the_OTHER_DJMethaneMan Aug 3 '15 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ Spiders might not be easily tamed, but they are mostly sedentary and usually highly territorial. If you could keep a ring of well-fed spiders around the city, they might keep the hungry forest-dwelling ones out. $\endgroup$ – IndigoFenix Jul 19 '16 at 10:14
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If the levitation spell is cheap or long-term and if it can be inverted to increase the gravity instead of decreasing it, you can surround the town with a ring of increased gravity, so that the spiders would break their legs if they try to go through it. (I hope that bigger spiders are more fragile than small ones.)

For citizen, there should be normal-gravity bridges over the ring, or levitating ferry, or whatever the city needs.

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Just how big are the young when hatched? It seems to me that a small stowaway that hitched a ride in a merchant's wagon is a much bigger threat than the giant ones you can spot a mile away, especially if you can't distinguish it from a normal spider. And you'll need normal spiders, frogs etc., unless you want to be overrun by disease carrying insects.

Worst case: 2 stowaways form a mating pair and lay eggs before they are spotted

My suggestion, build it on an island in the middle of the river. Only allow people in overnight, not goods wagons. Any trade goods brought into town must be unpacked and inspected in daylight before being carried in by hand, especially firewood. Trading can be done in an outpost outside the town.

Logs for woodwork must be immersed in water overnight and turned over, in case there are spiders in a hollow. Ideally, you want your sawmill outside the town as well, possibly on a barge anchored 100m away.

Spider repellant, as suggested above, on the walls along with constant patrols will prevent any floating spiders entering your town. Boats/ bridges are a concern: try not to have a bridge, even though it limits your town's economy. Food should be grown on the island as far as possible, imports should be brought in by boat, that should not land anywhere that a spider can get aboard.

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Selectively breed a species of silk weaving spiders to have a symbiotic relationship with the residents of your city, feed them milk/honey and let them catch rats and other spiders on their own. Their waste (drained rat/spider carcasses) can be ground up into fertiliser, unoccupied webbing can be harvested and spun, you can even milk their venom. This venom can be used for antidotes, injected in small amounts to build up resistance, used on arrows or mixed with alcohol for a special cultural drink.

Spun webbing and silk can be used to create strong rope, fantastic bowstrings, valuable cloth and biocompatible stitches. Heck, in a few centuries you could create a subspecies that creates clothing! It's not too far off their natural instincts: you get the spider to bite (you're either resistant or provided with the antidote) then stand still with your arms out and legs apart. The spider wraps you in silk and then you brush it off and feed it (or them) fermented/condensed milk as a reward.

Eventually they'll wrap anyone who enters their area of the hive and stands still long enough, just don't forget to feed them or next time they might be a bit more bitey. On the other hand if they're being fed like this on the regular, biting the person becomes an unnecessary step in the process and they might evolve to skip it.

I come from the land down under... ;)

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