Crawlerling is the closest analog the Ananasi have to the animal forms of the other shapeshifters. It is different than the forms of all surviving shifters, as it is a swarm of spiders rather than one individual animal. Among the Kumo, the Crawlerling form is known as the "Thousand Fang".
The Crawlerling form is very hard to grasp. It resembles a swarm of regular spiders. The number of spiders and their individual sizes vary, though the total mass is roughly equal to that in Homid, and that is a lot of spiders (hundreds or thousands, or even tens of thousands, depending on the mass of the individual spiders). For most Ananasi, the species of spider that composes the Crawlerling form is the same as what is reflected in Pithus and Lilian. However, some are a mixture of many species.
In Crawlerling, the Ananasi can only speak the special language of the Ananasi, or communicate as regular spiders do, either with a single spider, or with many, somewhat like a chorus. One more possibility is to let the spiders arrange themselves as symbols to communicate with more intelligent beings.
This is considered breed form of Arachnid Ananasi, and it is used for hiding, spying, escaping, stepping sideways to and from the Umbra, and in many other situations, but almost never in combat.
Breaking up and reassembling - An Ananasi may break up any of her other forms into Crawlerling. The process is disturbing to watch, even for many other supernatural creatures, but mortals suffer the full effect of Delirium from witnessing the transformation.
Assign leaders - The Ananasi decide each time she shifts into this form which and how many spiders are leaders, and what memories are kept in which one. Most Ananasi have a default set of leaders with predetermined sets of memories. Any number from one to ten works just fine. If the Ananasi goes over this, there is a +1 difficulty on all Perception and Willpower rolls for each extra leader, and a +1 difficulty on all Wits rolls for every two extra leaders. Spiders not assigned as leaders are referred to as "drones".
Unconscious Arachnids - If an Arachnid Ananasi fall unconscious, she will automatically assume this form, and have her usual set of leaders, with their usual assigned sets of memories. If she does not have her usual set of leaders, there will be a single leader (with all her memories). In this form, she will be completely aware and unharmed (some drones might be dead), but generally it is a good idea is to escape. Note that Ananasi (like other shapeshifters) who simply fall asleep usually remain in the current form.
An Arachnid Ananasi who is killed in another form will assume Crawlerling for one final time. Her usual set of leaders (if any) will be dead, but her drones (some of them, most likely most of them) will be alive and scamper away and from this moment on just be ordinary spiders.
Partial transformation - It is possible for an Ananasi to partially transform into Crawlerling, just like to any other form, as per the usual rules. Just like any other transformation, this induces full Delirium in humans, and it is very unsettling even for many supernatural creatures. For example, an Ananasi could transform her arm into a number of spiders of a mass roughly equal to the mass of the arm, transform her jaw into a single quite large spider, or a bit of blood to a few small spiders. If this "mini Crawlerling" is to do something a bit more sophisticated a bit away or in another room, one or two leaders must also be created to coordinate the drones. Most (at least three quarters) of the Ananasi's consciousness and memories must remain in her main body. If most of the spiders that compose the limb are killed, it is effectively amputated, though it may be healed back as if it was aggravated damage. It is even possible to transform the head, neck, torso, or abdomen to Crawlerling in this way. However, this is extremely risky, because if those most of those spiders should die, the Ananasi will probably be killed instantly, not to mention how hard it is to maneuver when missing the head or being "cut" in two parts like that.
The reverse is also possible. An Ananasi in Crawlerling can manifest a hand, limb, or even head from any of the other forms. At least one leader must be part of this transformation to control this body part. These manifested body parts are often quite useless, as the Crawlerling form is too weak to move it around. However, a manifested human mouth may speak or bite something that is placed between the jaws, a manifested hand might turn a knob, and a manifested head can pretend to be dead. If a manifested body part is destroyed, the spiders that composed it are killed, but the Ananasi may reform it from other spiders. That means that if a manifested head is "killed", the Ananasi is just fine (aside from the lost memories).
Taking damage - Once in Crawlerling form, the Ananasi does not lose health levels when damaged. Instead, individual spiders are killed. Losing drones will just cause her to lose mass, but with enough mass lost, she can no longer shift forms. For each leader that dies, the memories stored in that one is lost forever. At the Storyteller's discretion, this might include Ability dots, Gifts, or even basic motor functions like how to control the bladder. If all leaders are killed, the Ananasi is reduced to a collection of spiders that will go their separate ways and live normal spider lives. What really is dangerous in this form are things that causes damage over a large area, especially fire. Strong pesticides also causes serious problem (but not in the other forms, at least no more than for an ordinary human).
Ignore all effects of lost health levels while in Crawlerling. Even an Ananasi that would be Incapacitated or unconscious in her other forms will be just fine in her Crawlerling form.
Health and CombatEdit
Combat - Crawlerling is not meant for combat. Just about any attack from any kind of weapon will instantly kill any spider (if necessary, think of each spider as having a single health level, and not being able to soak damage). However, they can use two kinds of attacks: engulf, and injection. The normal Bite attack do not really apply in this form. While the venom of each individual spider is weak, a lot of spiders can bite collectively injecting a large amount of venom. If as many spiders that can fit bite a single individual and all inject, assume the combined potency to be comparable to the venom in Pithus form (counts as a having spent a dosage in the other forms).
The engulf maneuver does Strength in lethal damage. This is, however, not the Strength 0 in the Crawlerling form, but the unmodified (Homid) level that is used for this purpose. An Ananasi who engages in this maneuver can't exactly dodge attacks, but the opponent can usually at most kill a few spiders per attack. A swarmed opponent is open for the injection maneuver, but unless the Ananasi spend a blood point for an extra action or split her actions for two attacks, the engulf maneuver is temporary broken, and the opponent can breathe.[C]
Healing damage - An Ananasi in Crawlerling does not truly heal. But neither does an Ananasi in this form truly suffer from wounds taken in other forms (ignore wound penalties while in Crawlerling). The mass from lost drones is replaced by eating animal protein (usually insects, but spiders are far more effective). Once the spiders collectively have reached enough mass, the Ananasi can once again shift to other forms. An Ananasi cannot spend blood points to heal health levels in this form. Neither does she heal naturally, and she can't even be healed with Gifts. Therefore, she will be just as wounded when returning to another form as when shifted. She may, however, regain both lost Gnosis and Blood points, just as in other forms.
The Gift Replenishment of the Flesh can be used to heal health levels while in Crawlerling.
Recovering from massive loss - As long as a single leader survives, the Ananasi still lives. Losing most of the leaders can have more consequences than simply the loss of some memories. The Ananasi who eventually reforms is likely to have at least somewhat changed personality (Nature and Demeanor) and a different appearance in all her forms (including Homid).
Missing body parts - Lost limbs, eyes, and similar in other forms do not translate to missing equivalent body parts for the individual spiders in Crawlerling, but rather that fewer drones are created.
Movement - The Crawlerling form can get through very narrow openings. If the Ananasi has the Gifts to climb on walls, she may do so in this form. The total mass of Crawlerling may be roughly equal to that of the Pithus form, but it is so spread out that most surfaces easily can bear its weight. It is possible to move a few spiders at the time through small openings, such as an air vent. The Ananasi can also spread out and hide each spider in places no one would look for a person or a monster, like in a flowerpot, behind some books, or on the underside of a table. Many obstacles can also be crossed with webs. All these attributes combined means that an Ananasi can get into most places with relative ease. However, this form is not fast, and an Ananasi in it may at most move as fast as a human walks. Proportionally the jumping ability of an individual spider may be impressive, but it is still just a few inches at the most.
Stepping sideways - Crawlerling is the only form that allows the Ananasi to crawl sideways into or from the Umbra. Ananasi can be brought over through other means, and they can travel over moon bridges and the like the same way as other Fera. Once in the Umbra, they can assume any form they wish, though most prefer to use only Crawlerling and Pithus there.
Spread out - There is actually no theoretical limitation on how far away the different drones and leaders that constitutes the Crawlering form can be (except for those with the Merit Hive Mind). However, few Ananasi are willing to spread out their Crawlerling form very far, as that would mean that it would take more time to reform. It would also prevent stepping sideways. If a few drones are unable to get to the rest, it's not a big deal, as the Ananasi can reform or step sideways without them (and by doing so "amputate" those drones so they would become normal spiders). But if too many of them or a leader or two are missing, the Ananasi is forced to do both a normal shifting and a partial transformation to leave, for example, a limb in Crawlerling to compensate for the missing mass. If either of these fail, the Ananasi is at the moment unable to change form from Crawlerling. Partial transformation will not help a spread out Ananasi to step sideways. If some leaders are missing but the Ananasi otherwise has enough mass, she can opt to "amputate" them as she transform to another form or stepping sideways. The memories in those leaders will be lost, and they will be ordinary spiders, but at the Storyteller's discretion the Ananasi might be able to regain them if she can manage to find those spiders and once again incorporate them.
Trauma - While the form itself does not cause Delirium in mortals, transformations to and from Crawlerling, even partial transformations, will cause it. Also, keep in mind that arachnophobia is very common, and seeing huge amounts of spiders will be very traumatic for such individuals. Even without such a phobia, most mortals find lots of spiders unsettling. Even many supernatural creatures find the forms of the Ananasi, and especially transformation to and from Crawlerling form, a bit unnerving.
Downtime - If an Ananasi spreads out her consciousness through the entire mass of Crawlerling, she will lose herself to the instincts and act like lots of individual spiders, with the only real difference that they will remain in the general area and will not attack one another. The Ananasi will reform when a simple rite wakes her up, Queen Ananasa calls her to service, or she instinctively feels that her "vacation" is over. This downtime can be as short as a few days or as long as several decades. About half of all Ananasi are slumbering like this at any given time. Even those with a true Hive Mind (a Merit) can do this.
A new start - An Ananasi who in Crawlerling has been reduced to just a few spiders have the option to try to eat her way into the brain of a living (preferably unconscious) human, and from there eat the body from the inside. If the process succeeds, the Ananasi will assume the form of the human she ate as her new Homid form (including age, gender, etc), and she will even have the memories of the human she ate (though they are a bit muted and she usually can distinguish them from her own). The process costs the Ananasi one permanent dot of Gnosis. Queen Ananasa's blessing is required for this process to work, and she will deny it to those she feels abuses it (and to those who are not loyal to her).
Procreation - Despite the increased opportunities for procreation in the Crawlerling form and the incredibly vast number of offspring afterwards, the overall chances for having a single Ananasi as an offspring as a result is still roughly comparable to that of other Fera.[E][I]
Gifts and Rites - Unless otherwise specified, an Ananasi in Crawlerling can use these just fine.
Stepping sideways - This is the only form in which an Ananasi can use her own power to travel to or from the Umbra. She does so by crawling on the web strands that composes the Gauntlet. It is possible to peek into the Umbra, either in Crawlerling, or with a partial transformation that includes at least one leader.
Webs - In this form, all Ananasi can produce normal spider webs, even if the species they belong to can't. It takes time, but due to the huge number of individual spiders, the form cover quite a large area in a relatively short period of time. Spiders manifested from a partial transformation to Crawlerling can also produce normal spider webs.
Weight change - One of the side effects of gaining and losing body mass in Crawlerling in forms of numbers of spiders is that it does translate to changed weight in the other forms, and vice versa. Ananasi concerned about losing weight can theoretically simply assume Crawlerling and kill of some drones. Losing much weight will leave the Ananasi very thin and in frail health in other forms, and losing too much will prevent her from changing form.
Therapy - Nothing prevents an Ananasi from slowly changing to Crawlerling, very carefully selecting undesirable memories, putting them all into one leader, and then killing that leader of in order to forget those memories. However, how memories work is a tricky process, and there is a high risk of also destroying related memories or leave fragments.
- This article also encompasses errata and clarifications concerning the Crawlerling form. For other such, see Ananasi Errata and Clarifications.
- Some Camazotz had a Gift or Merit that let them assume an analog form as a swarm of bats.
- The mockery breed Samsa assume when they are "killed" a form that appear similar to Crawlerling, though only one cockroach will survive the first hour, and then have to over a week eat it's way the size of an adult human before transforming to one of it's Homid form.
- A few spider species are actually social, in a way that can appear similar to the Crawlerling form.