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Location:

The Planet of Tarachs. Compared to Earth, it has lower gravity, higher oxygen percentage in the air and overall warmer climate. This resulted in higher forests, more flying species and given the spiders a chance to keep evolving further down the evolutionary tree.

Tarachs

Giant, sentient spider like species. Due to evolutionary pressures, they developed features which are the equivalent of mammals. Warm-blood, improved circulatory and respiratory systems, rudimentary endoskeleton to support their exoskeleton, rotatable head, etc.

While retaining much of their spider nature, silk spinning, poisonous bites, eight legs, and so on. They still use their threads for traps, but unless fishing, it isn't in a web form but more like the traps humans make. Also for ease of movement, they can shoot their spider silk for tens of meters with reasonable accuracy. Since they are sentient, they may have found other effective and productive ways to use their threads.

They are omnivores and not the apex predators of their worlds. In order to better defend themselves and take on bigger prey, they socialized and started making tribes.

Now, two tribe came into conflict, however a problem arose. They are inherently defense oriented species. They make traps, wait in hiding and bite the bound victim. They can use their spider silk for long range alarm systems, as well as armor, making cutting and piercing weapons less damaging. Spiders can eat their own silk, so they can eat up each others armor and traps.

Given these circumstances, what would be the most effective way for one Tarach tribe to wage war on another?


A few related question links, which may help with the answer. About Spider Threads, AC Giant Spiders, I may add other links, which may be helpful, when I find them.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm a little confused. Are there unstated constraints that keep them from using stone tools or metallurgy? Are you looking for a strictly silk based answer? $\endgroup$ – kleer001 Jun 25 at 22:36
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    $\begingroup$ No. Stone tools definitively ok. Metallurgy, it has to be basic and limited to be considered tribal, in my opinion. The main issue is their defensive, trap making nature. They could easily defend their own territory, but almost helpless against attacking without serious losses. At least, that the basic idea. $\endgroup$ – Lupus Jun 25 at 22:43
  • $\begingroup$ @DonQualm isn't the "warfare" outlines it is about fighting? By "Non-fighting is always an option", I mean peace is always an option, but this isn't about how they would live peacefully next to each other. It's about warfare, and how one tribe could triumph over the other, despite the strong defensive nature of their species. Fire is a good start, because it would make their traps useless. I'm curious if there will be answers which require less devastation. $\endgroup$ – Lupus Jun 25 at 23:07
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    $\begingroup$ I have to disagree with @DonQualm. Restrictions exist in the biology of the Tarach (though they could be stated explicitly to clear up any confusion). The problem here is a lack of requirements and demonstrated research. I can excuse the latter, as many things on this specific SE aren't really easily researched in a standard sense. The "research" standard holds little meaning outside of very specific contexts. Further, the help-center states "restrictions/requirements," implying that only one of the two is required to function as a metric to judge answers by. I'm voting to leave it open. $\endgroup$ – JDSweetBeat Jun 26 at 0:23
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    $\begingroup$ @Lupus -- Please edit your query to focus on one single issue. Right now, it's far too broad. Any question that begins "how..." opens the door for wild speculations, opinions, theories and hypotheses go leor. $\endgroup$ – elemtilas Jun 26 at 0:24
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Fire

The most effective way of making spider silk thread useless is to apply heat to it, at which point it shrivels. (Cobwebs are a fire hazard because it's essentially a collection of airborne dust particles which is highly flammable. Kind of like a cloud of flour.) This isn't actually why we're using it, but it's a nice side effect, especially if there's a lot of old web it the enemy's base.

The most effective form of warfare is to build a massive web and trap complex around the enemy's spider base and then start lighting fires and trying to burn the enemy base. The fire and smoke will kill some, the rest will be forced to run right into your spider traps.

Tl;dr - if you've got traps, you want to force your enemy to run into said traps and fire is the best to do so. Just try to avoid the backlash.

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If you treat it as a super-versatile rope substitute, you have a wide range of traps that could escalate a conflict due to increasingly severe injuries or casualties, a kind of sunk cost fallacy. Trip wires that trigger swinging logs might be one of them. Could the silk be used as bow strings to bring archery or other ranged weapons into it? There are also fabric slings, I think silk could be used in place of the traditional fabric and then all they'd need would be the ability to throw and some stones for projectiles. There's also the possibility of less 'aggressive' warfare which could include trying to force the other tribe into backing off through impacting their food or water supplies or another resource(Poison, destroying access, hoarding them, etc), or more offensive guerilla tactics that could include sneaking into the other tribes camp to cause damage.

And when they captured a member of another tribe, it's possible they could use their captive as leverage or a trading chip to get the other tribe to back off, or this could be a reason to escalate the conflict - they have one of ours, we have to rescue them, etc.

And if it's a territory dispute, they may remain in conflict despite being defence oriented if both tribes consider this area 'theirs'. It's entirely possible they could live alongside each other for years while not getting along at all.

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    $\begingroup$ My problem is, the traps part. With their thread base alarm systems, and masterful trap making (since they rely on greatly for food), each tribe territory would be heavily trapped against intruders. Any intrusion on the others territory would result in losing, incapacitating a significant portion of the invading force before they even come to blows. Non-fighting is always an option, but I'm especially looking for ways around it. $\endgroup$ – Lupus Jun 25 at 22:34
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A few points you may have missed, prior to the meat of this answer.

You say your spiders are not Apex Predators, so become social to counter it. This suggests to me that they have the capacity to gang up on and defeat a stronger and larger opponent, thus they should be able to transfer these skills when fighting their own kind.

In addition, your spiders will likely have some way of settling disputes, that would have stemmed from competing for dominance contests. If this involved any form of physical confrontation, such as stags locking antlers, giraffes neck fighting or elephant seals wrestling, then there would be transferable skills here as well.

Thus, whilst your spiders may prefer to lay traps and ambush their prey, they will have the skills necessary for combat against an equivalent opponent, no matter how much they dislike doing so. This ties in with my point below:

Target the enemy when they are on the move

Your spiders will not be able to stay in their village at all times. Someone will have to go out eventually to acquire resources, be it food, water, construction materials...

This is the perfect point to strike. A group of warriors can ambush lone trappers and starve out the enemy village. The only reasonable response to this would be sending out patrols of your own to find and eliminate raiders in your territory.

Thus a form of ambush and maneuver warfare will develop, not dissimilar to modern tactics. Patrols will stealthily move around the disputed region, tracking one another and attempting to lay ambushes or hunting traps to eliminate the opposition.

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    $\begingroup$ Didn't miss it. Humanity is capable of socializing, ganging up and measuring skill in competition (Olympics). Yet, throughout history from early tribal to modern day, there are plenty of examples of war and even genocide. $\endgroup$ – Lupus Jun 26 at 14:55
  • $\begingroup$ That's exactly what I mean. Whilst your spiders may prefer traps and ambushing helpless targets they are still very capable of dealing with a target that fights back. If that didn't come through in my answer, please let me know how you think I can change it to get the point across. $\endgroup$ – Kyyshak Jun 27 at 8:07
  • $\begingroup$ I was responding at the first part as it came out as a question of why would they even fight. The second part is pretty good and gave me lots of ideas. Thank you $\endgroup$ – Lupus Jun 27 at 8:53
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Let's start by debunking some of the fallacies here that would actually make Tarachs warfare look more like human warfare than you might think.

First, Tarachs won't bother to use their own poisons against each other because venomous animals are immune to their own poisons. Since these tribes are presumably the same species, they will have to rely on killing each other the old fashioned ways (stabbing, hacking, bashing, etc.) If they use poisons, it will be poisons that they must harvest from other sources meaning, that the prevalence of toxic weapon used by the Tarachs will be about the same as in a human arsonal.

Also, Tarachs won't bother to rely on using webs on eachother. While it would make since for these spiders to surround their villages with webs for defense against predators, against other spiders, this is a minor deterrent at best. Spider webs are made of a combination of sticky and not-sticky strands. Spiders can walk on their own webs because they can tell which is which. The webs that defend a village would be designed so that the inhabitants could safely come and go meaning that other spiders could also identify these safe passages that predators could not. Also, spiders can eat web; so, even if you completely wall yourself off, an enemy could just eat their way in while the defenders sleep. This means that they will need to develop a webless method of defending their village to protect against other tribes.

Now let's look at the traits that do in fact make them different:

Since flying species are the dominant races here, Tarach's biggest threat would come from the sky meaning they would likely not prefer the giant trees as a place to live. Instead they would build their homes and hunting grounds in the underbrush, outside of the view of the giant birds who in turn hunt them. The downside is that if they live on the ground surrounded by dense plants for cover, then other spiders could attack from any direction. City Walls would not work like they do for people because an invader could just shoot some webs and climb them. Instead, the most logical style of fortification for them is the ant pile.

Using web as mortar to hold together stonework, other spiders could not get their mouths between the massony to eat the web away making such fortifications a highly defensible against other spiders. Since this is tribal aged warfare, the other spiders would not have any siege equipment to break the stone walls either, this means the defender can limit access to their mound to one or two highly defensible entrances. When spiders enter another tribe's mound, they'd have to expect heavy casualties. As they march in single file, they'd be immediately surrounded on all sides meaning an invasion would require a significant numerical advantage.

Instead most battles would be waged in the open field. Since spiders need to hunt to live, an attacker only needs to crowd out the defender's hunting ground, killing their hunters in the open. This would force the defender to rally as an army to keep themselves from being picked off one by one which would also force the attacker to rally as an army. Actual battle tactics will likely look a lot like those of honey ants (which were ironically the basis of many human tactics used in ancient warfare.)

In the end, warfare for your tribal Tarachs will be a lot like human warfare. They will likely design different styles of weapons and armor to accommodate their extra appendages, and maybe adopt more strategies that rely on the 3d nature of their battlefields with more thought given to attacks from above or below, but in the end, their wars will still be very familiar to us.

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  • $\begingroup$ Never thought of the fortification angle like that. Amazing. However, in lieu of that and because they do use traps for hunting, wouldn't they design traps including wood, rocks and their threads which would kill the opposing tribe who enters their "trapping" ground? That would make any incursion to the others territory extremely dangerous, isn't it? Would it be like two groups of combat engineers, deploying, neutralizing traps as they try to stake out bigger and bigger territory towards to others base? $\endgroup$ – Lupus Jun 27 at 17:32
  • $\begingroup$ The problem with that is that no social species wants to make traps in their own territory if their own species can't easily recognize and evade them. If I make a kill trap in my own territory, my kids are more likely to die in it than an enemy. "Won't somebody please think of the children!" In cases where humans do this with things like minefields, it is normally an act of desperation, where an area of land is considered worth permanently giving up in exchange for an advantage in a specific combat operation. And it almost always results in unwanted loss of life latter. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Jun 27 at 18:40
  • $\begingroup$ What makes spiders such good trappers is that they know how to not get caught in their own traps. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Jun 27 at 18:41
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Using their silk, and their eight legs laying on their backs, or hanging by their silk from trees, gripping the silk with two legs, using the six free legs, they could sling stones with high velocity and accuracy.

Using height and pouncing attacks with wooden daggers tied to four of their fore-legs to stab and bite opponents.

By sifting dry dirt through their silk, they collect very fine dust. Once they have enough, they triple wrap the dust into grenades that they can throw or sling at opponents, with the goal of targeting their eyes or coating their hide-- since they respirate through their skin.

Similarly, they cultivate and dry toxic fungi, which is carefully ground and sifted into similar weapons.

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  • $\begingroup$ Of note, accurate throwing is a very rare animal trait that requires some pretty strong environmental pressure to come up with. It takes such precise timing, that Humans are the only species on Earth that can reliably hit a target with a thrown object. Since the Terachs are natural trap hunters, it would be unlikely that they would develop the coordination necessary to make good use of thrown weapons. I suspect their silk shooting thing would be their only good long range attack until they develop something inherently easy to aim like crossbows. $\endgroup$ – Nosajimiki - Reinstate Monica Jun 28 at 21:13
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Starve them out! Burn Every Village, Salt the E̶a̶r̶t̶h̶ Terachs

Scorch the earth around the enemy's habitat, over hunt their food sources, foul their water sources. Make it so bad that they either bring the fight to you in your fortifications, or they retreat to another location allowing you to move into their territory.

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