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“’O see ye not that narrow road, so thick beset with thorns and briars ? That is the path of righteousness. And see ye not that broad, broad road… that is the path of wickedness… though some call it the road to Heaven.‘ But don’t forget… there’s a third road.”
— The Unknown Ferryman of Slaughter Swamp quoting from the Ballad of Thomas the Rhymer  (in the poem, the third road is “the road to fair Elfland”).

Context

I, Spyder is an odd character. He plays an odd role in the epic Seven Soldiers meta-series by Grant Morrison (2005-2006).

At first he’s just a vaguely ridiculous, pointlessly macho, but dangerous archery assassin. Then things get mythical.

Seven Soldiers is akin to a puzzle. So don’t hesitate to read other profiles using the hyperlinks in the text. This way you can put together the key elements of the story.


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Background

  • Real Name: Thomas Ludlow-Dalt.
  • Note: He’s usually called just “Spyder”, though he sometimes dramatically his full name. Said full name is a reference to the I-Spy reprint comics starring King Faraday and the 1960s I Spy American TV series.
  • Marital Status: Unrevealed.
  • Known Relatives: Tom Ludlow Hallaway (aka the Spider, father, deceased), Linda Dalt (mother), Lucas Ludlow-Dalt (aka “Alias the Spider” or “The Spider”, brother, deceased)
  • Group Affiliation: Briefly a member of the Vigilante’s “six soldiers” ; member of the Ludlow clan ; agent of the Seven Unknown Men ; possibly one of the Seven Soldiers (XXIst century Harrowing version).
  • Base Of Operations: Mobile.
  • Height: 5’10” Weight: 182 lbs.
  • Eyes: Brown Hair: Black


Powers and Abilities

“I, Spyder” was the third known Ludlow man to take on the mantle of the Spider. He thus received advanced training in archery, vigilantism and criminal operations from his family. How good Spyder was is unrevealed — but from what Agent Helligan said he wasn’t as good as his brother.


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After the Seven Unknown Men changed him, Spyder reportedly acquired perfect aim and never missed. He can indeed perform extraordinary shots. He’ll hit over an impossible range, even from an unstable platform such as an helicopter.

He could probably have shot Bulleteer in the brain through her ear canal while hovering outside her apartment with a jetpack, though a subconscious urge made him miss.

Deathless

Spyder also stated that he was unkillable. And indeed, he survived having his internal organs sucked out and eaten by a giant spider. From a comment he made about having “cold blood”, it is possible that the liquid in his veins is derived from the Water of Life in Slaughter Swamp, just like Melmoth.

If so his immortality would be comparable to Melmoth’s and Frankenstein’s.

If I, Spyder’s blood is indeed related to the Water of Life it can be used as a component to create unliving creatures. This would be similar to how Melmoth’s blood was used to create Frankenstein and the Bride. Furthermore his semen may give the potential to any male descendant to be turned into a grundy-man, using the same techniques as those in Limbo Town.


History

In 1838, shortly after the incident that gave him his powers, the bewildered Richard Swift was taken in and tended by the Ludlow family. They semmed benevolent. But they were actually a family of thieves who would take in vagrants, treat them nicely, and then use them as scapegoats for their brutal crimes.

The usual modus operandi was that Mr. Ludlow would act as business partner for wealthy recluses for years. Then one day he’d suggest that his partner give all his staff a day off. Ludlow would murder his target on that day, then kill the scapegoat and make it look like a botched robbery. Ludlow, now in full control of the business, then moved on to the next prey.

Swift was about to join the list of vagrants used as scapegoats by the Ludlows. But he realised what was going on and escaped. He took his revenge by killing the parents and older siblings of the Ludlow clan. But not the younger ones, who weren’t present at the scene of the crime.

The surviving children took an oath to avenge their parent’s death. They later instilled this vendetta in their own children, who passed it down through the generations. Swift, who became known as the Shade, had numerous encounters with Ludlows through the decades. They kept trying to kill him.

Into the Spider’s web

By the 1930s a Ludlow, Tom Ludlow Hallaway, developed the skills and identity of the Spider. That was in part to better wage the Ludlow’s vendetta against the Shade. Although he appeared to be a vigilante using his deadly archery skills to fight crime, he was actually a crime lord eliminating his competition.

His two-faced play was so convincing that he joined the super-heroic Seven Soldiers. Ludlow used them to stomp out rival criminals and become the godfather of St. Louis.

The Spider then betrayed the Soldiers, sending them into battle with the Nebula Man (Neh-Buh-Loh). Unbeknownst to the Soldiers, Nebula Man was an agent of malign time-travellers the Sheeda. And the super-weapon the Spider gave the Soldiers to kill Neh-Buh-Loh had been sabotaged.

Ludlow killed the partner of the Vigilante, the canny Billy Gunn, before Gunn could warn the Soldiers that it was a trap. However the Crimson Avenger’s sidekick, Wing, also discovered the truth. Wing defeated the Spider and sacrificed his life to repulse the Nebula Man. The other Soldiers were scattered through time by the energy unleashed during the battle.

After the nebula is gone

While the Spider seemed victorious, the Shade discovered what he had done to the Soldiers. He tried to kill Ludlow. The Spider survived, moved to Keystone and repeatedly fought the Shade. At that point the Spider was still viewed as a vigilante, and continued to take down criminals. By contrast, the Shade was widely assumed to be a villain.

Still, the Shade eventually prevailed. He killed the Spider and revealed the truth about the cagey Ludlow.

The vendetta would continue as the Spider’s older son, Lucas Ludlow-Dalt, took up the family mantle as ’Alias the Spider‘. He trained for years to be able to kill the Shade. Allying with other Keystone City villains, he nearly succeeded – but Shade escaped alive.

Alias the Spider also nearly managed to assassinate Starman (Jack Knight), an ally of the Shade. But he later lost an eye in a fight against Green Arrow.

Lucas’s younger brother Tom, also was a capable archer, vigilante and criminal under the name ’I, Spyder‘. But he lived in the shadow of his more capable brother. He never really made a name for himself until Slaughter Swamp.

Bring your archer to Slaughter

During the early 2000s I, Spyder was hired as a hitman. He was to kill the Seven Unknown Men of Slaughter Swamp. That was allegedly a conspiracy meeting in the marshes North of Gotham and plotting to influence the fate of nations. Unbeknownst to him, the hit had been ordered by the Unknown Men themselves.

As Spyder entered Slaughter Swamp and neared the hovel of Cyrus Gold, he was attacked and poisoned by tiny Sheeda flying knights. This attack may have been engineered by the Seven Unknown Men. Or it may have been an attempt by the renegade eighth Unknown Man to derail their plan.

I, Spyder examines a arrowhead

As Spyder stumbled into the hovel, delirious and dying, the Unknown Men opened time and space. They let him slide into their environment. They then started changing Ludlow, telling him that the man he had been hired to kill was actually himself.

Once the Men were done, Ludlow was essentially an undead being.

The reinvented I, Spyder was part of a long-term plan to facilitate a critical magical ritual, the Spell of Seven. Howbeit, the precise role of I, Spyder is unclear. He may have been one of the Seven that were needed to trigger the Spell. Or he may have simply been one of the facilitators, like the surviving Newsboys from Nowhere Street.

The Vigilante’s posse

In the mid- or late 2000s, veteran super-hero the Vigilante (Greg Saunders) assembled a crew of heroes to take down a house-sized arachnid. This monster was called “buffalo spider” in local Native American legends. During a foray in the early XXth century, Saunders had already tried to hunt down the spider, but it had escaped.

Knowing from native lore that the monster would be back one hundred years later, he decided to try again in the present.

The aged Vigilante could only assemble a motley, bargain-basement crew — Gimmix (Jacqueline Pemberton), the current Boy Blue, the Whip (Shelly Gaynor), and Dyno-Mite Dan. The Bulleteer (Alix Harrower) wanted to join but got cold feet. Having the experienced, determined I, Spyder join the effort was thus a relief for Mr. Saunders.

Spyder had by that point acquired a spooky reputation. It was said that his blood was cold like liquid nitrogen, and that he basked in the sun all day to power up, striking at night. This reputation and his over-the-top demeanour as a stone-cold iceman soon led to a sexual encounter with the adrenaline-addicted Whip.

The hunt at Miracle Mesa

Days after Ludlow-Dalt joined the Vigilante’s ragtag posse, his brother Lucas was found killed with one arrow through each hand and one through the heart. Tom was the main suspect for this gangland killing. But some hypothesised that it was Shade who killed Alias the Spider and framed I, Spyder.

Meanwhile, Spyder used a cattle truck doused in pheromones to provide a bait for the monstrous spider. It worked – the spider attacked the truck, ate the cows, moulted and headed away. This gave the six minor heroes time to arrive and hunt down the buffalo spider. They did not realise that it was a Sheeda creature.

A group of seven heroes, even D-list ones, interacting with Sheeda travellers could trigger the Spell of Seven. This was not an immediate risk since the seventh, Bulleteer, wasn’t present. Yet the Sheeda decided to nip that threat in the bud.

They had the hunted spider return to Miracle Mesa. Though Saunders and his hunters managed to kill the beast, they were at that point in the heart of the Mesa.

Miracle Mesa is a “soft place”, conducive to time travel. These properties explained why the buffalo spider ended up on Earth every 100 years. They also made it possible for the Sheeda to send a raiding party from their era.

Within a few horrifying minutes, all six heroes were slaughtered by massed giant spiders, undead lancers and Neh-Buh-Loh. Ludlow was seemingly killed by one of the spiders.

The Last Queen of Man

What happened next is undocumented. The simplest explanation is that I, Spyder survived and regenerated thanks to the changes the Seven Unknown Men made to him. This likely is what attracted the attention of the Queen of the Sheeda. And thus, she made Spyder one of her huntsmen.

This was presumably what the Unknown Men had intended all along. Whether they really expected Saunder’s group to trigger the Spell of Seven is unrevealed. Whether Ludlow-Dalt himself knew that he was a double agent of the Unknown Men injected into the Queen’s entourage is also unrevealed. But one gets the impression that he wasn’t aware of his real role.

I, Spyder was now the assassin, bodyguard and chauffeur of the Queen of Summer’s End. Apparently, his status at the court was comparable to that of Neh-Buh-Loh.

The Undry Cauldron

Ludlow was instrumental in tracking down the Undry Cauldron, a major Sheeda relic lost in the time stream. Using his criminal connections, he determined that West Coast mobster the Undying Don was the likely owner of the artefact. He then shot the Don with a poison arrow equipped with a minuscule tracer.

The plan was to force the Don to retreat to the Cauldron to be revived in its magical waters. That would both confirm that Don indeed had the Cauldron, and activate the tracer. The stratagem worked perfectly. Thus, the amused Queen allowed Spyder to join Neh-Buh-Loh and a Sheeda unit in the storming of the Don’s heavily-guarded villa. The attackers recovered the Cauldron.

Spyder’s next assignment was less successful. The Queen sent her hitman to kill the Bulleteer. However, Spyder’s subconscious sabotaged his normally infallible aim and he missed.

Minutes later, the spirit of the Vigilante, Greg Saunders, appeared to I, Spyder. What happened is unrevealed, but after that point Spyder clearly knew that he was an agent of the Seven Unknown Men. And he knew he had been put in place to facilitate the triggering of the Spell of Seven.

Seven Soldiers

Returning to the Queen’s Castle Revolving, Spyder witnessed the Last Queen of Man fighting the Shining Knight. The Queen managed to throw the Knight out of her flying murder factory, high above New York City.

Catching her breath and eating an apple, the Queen Glorianna Tenebræ asked whether Spyder had assassinated the Bulleteer. Coldly breaking his cover, Spyder shot her in the mouth through the apple. The Queen was still standing on the edge of Castle Resolving, and the surprise and impact caused her to fall off.

While neither the wounds inflicted by the Knight, nor Spyder’s arrow, nor the fall from the Castle to Manhattan’s streets were enough to kill her, she was slain by the Bulleteer. The Bulleteer unwittingly struck a blow that had begun 42,000 years before her birth.

I, Spyder has not been seen since. It is possible that he has moved on to follow the “third road” the Seven Unknown Men told him about, perhaps in other realities.


Description

Spyder’s jacket was previously worn by the first Spider and then by his brother. He’s very attached to it.

Spyder literally has cold blood and that is apparent in his complexion and body language.


Personality

Ludlow-Dalt wasn’t seen much before he was altered by the Seven Unknown Men. According to Special Agent Helligan, he had a history of wanting to prove himself as being as tough and deadly as his father and brother. She suspected that this sibling rivalry resulted in fratricide.

After he was changed by the Seven Men I, Spyder was a stone-cold, cold-blooded hitman and hunter who never missed his mark. Most assumed that his reputation was exaggeration from cowardly, superstitious criminals. They thought that his demeanour was some over-the-top macho badass killer routine… but it all was the exact truth.

Spyder was genuinely like a spider, silently moving in the night, laying his traps, striking with exquisite precision. Largely expressionless, he kept a poker face, except when expressing his taste for the thrill of the hunt.

Destinies

The destiny of I, Spyder was a mirror image of his father’s. Instead of betraying the Seven Soldiers and almost leading them to their death, he betrayed their mortal enemy and helped save everyone.

Instead of masquerading as a hero for years and then revealing himself as a cruel villain, he was thought to be at best a cold-blooded anti-hero for years. Then suddenly he made his choice to save humanity.

When he was confronted by one of the original Seven Soldiers who had been left behind, the original Spider tried his best to kill Wing and seal the fate of the rest of the team. Spyder instead listened to the dead Vigilante and ensured the survival of the new Seven Soldiers.

Whereas his father sent aged cowboy Billy Gunn, who had understood the truth, to the afterlife, Spyder listened to the aged cowboy the Vigilante, who had understood the truth, from the afterlife.

Spyder seems to be a genuine anti-hero. As the Unknown Men said, he follows neither the arduous road of righteousness, nor the broad easy road to wickedness.


Quotes

“Bait is laid. Truly, I *am* the man.”

“The primary eyes have limited field of vision but very high resolution, so don’t get too close if you can avoid it. Some female mygalomorph spiders have lifespans of 20 years, so it’s possible we’re dealing with a very long-lived giant.”

“The spider is my totem. One day a spider will kill me.”

“The seven unknown men who gave me my powers granted me perfect aim.”

“You told us the Indians called [Miracle Mesa] the hunting ground of the gods, Greg. So what kind of prey do you suppose gods might lower themselves to hunt, hmmm ? Rabbits ? Or super-heroes ?”

“I did my bit at the Villa Rocco, milady. Shot a bio-tracker virus into Don Vincenzo from the chopper, half a mile away.”

“I found her Achilles’ Heel. She listens.”

(Turning against Gloriana Tenebræ, his words echoing his last words to the Vigilante at the Miracle Mesa) “The Seven made me unkillable, Lady. They gave me cold blood and perfect aim. They made me the perfect hunter to stalk the ultimate game. What kind of prey do you suppose I, Spyder would hunt ? ‘Pinnacle of natural selection’, my ass.” (Releases his arrow, hitting Gloriana in the mouth).


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

I, Spyder (as a revenant)

Dex: 05 Str: 04 Bod: 05 Motivation: Hunter
Int: 06 Wil: 06 Min: 06 Occupation: Hunter
Inf: 06 Aur: 05 Spi: 05 Resources {or Wealth}: 008
Init: 019 HP: 060

Powers:
Damage capacity: 05, Invulnerability: 15, Regeneration: 05, Sealed systems: 02, Systemic antidote: 02, Telescopic vision: 02

Bonuses and Limitations:
All Powers are Contingent Upon Invulnerability.

Skills:
Charisma (Intimidation, Legwork)*: 06, Gadgetry: 04, Military science (Tracking): 06, Scientist (Research): 04, Vehicles (Air, land): 06, Weaponry (Archery): 11

Advantages:
Expertise (Trick arrows), Iron Nerves, Lightning Reflexes, Scholar (Spiders), Sharp Eye, Schticks (Lightning release, Miracle shot).

Connections:
Ludlow clan (High), Underworld (Low).

Drawbacks:
Creepy Appearance (Pale greyish skin, constantly wearing shades, general behaviour and aura, cold blood), Dark Secret (Agent of the Seven Unknown Men).

Equipment:

  • Ludlow almost constantly wears Shades [BODY 01, Shade: 01].
  • Badass Longbow [BODY 04, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Enhance (Range): 03 (cap is 07), Ammo: 01, Recommended STR: 04, R#02, Limitation: Low Penetration, Descriptor: Piercing] and 20 arrows.
  • Tracker arrow (x4) [BODY 02, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05), Radio communication: 06, Drawbacks – Grenade Drawback, Ammunition for the Longbow ; Limitations – Low Penetration, Radio communication only to transmit its position.] During the Vincenzo Baldi assassination, Spyder used a variant on this, which only started transmitting its position when Vincenzo’s heartbeat resumed. This arrow was also tipped in virulent venom [Poison touch: 08], probably from a Sheeda spider.
  • Diamond-tipped arrow [BODY 04, Enhance (EV): 01 (cap is 05)4, Sharpness (Projectile weapon): 02, Ammo: 01, Drawback: Ammunition for the Longbow.] This arrow was hand-crafted to kill the Bulleteer after he spotted an exploitable weakness. Note the lack of Limited Penetration.
  • JET PACK [BODY 03, Flight: 05, Limitation: Flight likely has a limited duration – 20mn or so, maybe]. This is mission-specific equipment, not something he carries around just in case.
  • Cell phone.
  • Custom Helicopter [STR 07 BODY 08, Flight: 07, Radar sense: 12, R#02]. This helo has a silhouette that is vaguely spider-like, and the underbody sports a red hourglass symbol like a black widow’s marking.

That’s why I say ’hey man nice shot‘

When doing an assassination shot Ludlow will usually Blindside, and he has enough HPs so he can augment his AV and EV to huge levels. Telescopic Vision, the Bow Advantage and his Miracle Shot Schtick allow him to perform those shots from a very long range, possibly from a flying vehicle.

A successful assassination usually marking the end of the ’Adventure‘, he can then gain his HPs award, making the initial expenditure worthwhile.


Game Stats — DC Adventures RPG Print Friendly

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I, Spyder — Averaged PL 9.8

STR STA AGL DEX FGT INT AWE PRE
02 03 02 03 (06) 03 02 02 (03) 02

Powers

Remade by the Seven Unknown Men… ● 43 points
– Enhanced Impervious Fortitude 4, Enhanced Impervious Will 4, Protection 2 (Subtle).
– Immortality 3, Regeneration 4.
– Immunity 4 (Ageing, Disease, Poison, environmental Heat – all Limited to half-effect).
– Enhanced Skills (6 Ranks of Expertise (Assassin), 10 Ranks of Expertise (Spiders), 4 Ranks of Intimidation), Enhanced Advantages (Fearless, Improved Initiative).

…and given perfect aim ● 21 points
– Enhanced Dexterity 3, Enhanced Awareness 1, Ranged Attack 5.
– Senses 2 (Extended Tracking visual).
– Tracking, Accurate Attack, Improved Aim, Improved Critical (Archery) 1, Precise attack 2 (ranged cover, ranged concealment).

Trick fletcher ● 1 point ● Descriptor : Skill
Enhanced Skill (4 Ranks of Technology, Limited 1 to trick arrows).

Devices

High-powered longbow ● 2 points (Easily Removable)
Strength-based Ranged Piercing Damage 2.

Custom arrows ● 22 points (Removable)
– Tracker chip — Feature 1 (Homing signal, can be programmed to start broadcasting upon meeting a simple condition).
– Poison arrows — Ranged Piercing Damage 4 Linked w/Close Poison Damage 7 (Secondary effect 5).
– Diamond-tipped arrow — Ranged Piercing Damage 4 (Penetrating 4), Limited 1 (hand-made, one at a time).

Constantly wears sunglasses ● 1 point (Easily Removable)
Enhanced Fortitude 3 (Limited 3 to Bright Lights).

Combat Advantages

Accurate Attack, Close Attack 2, Defensive Roll 2, Improved Aim, Improved Critical 1 (2), Improved Initiative, Power Attack, Ranged Attack 2 (7).

Other Advantages

Benefit 1 (Ludlow clan member), Benefit 2 (Independently Wealthy), Contacts, Equipment 4, Fearless.

Skills

Athletics 3 (+5), Close combat (Unarmed) 2 (+7), Deception 3 (+5), Expertise (Assassin) 6 (+8) (+14), Expertise (Spiders) 1 (+3) (+13), Insight 5 (+8), Intimidation 4 (+6), Investigation 6 (+8) (Limited 1 to Search, Gather Information, Surveillance), Perception 5 (+8), Persuasion 2 (+4), Ranged combat (Archery) 5 (+18), Stealth 2 (+4), Technology 6 (+8), Vehicles 2 (+8).

Equipment

Varies as needed, has included in the past a spider-theme helicopter, a jet pack, plus sundries like a cell phone.

Offense

Initiative +6
Unarmed +7, Close, Damage 2
Archery +18, Ranged, Damage 4

Defense

Dodge 9 Fortitude 10
Parry 7 Toughness 7/5*
Will 7

* Without Defensive Roll

Complications

  • Prejudice Spyder has a peculiar appearance and demeanour.

Power levels

  • Trade-off areas Attack & Effect PL 13, Dodge/Toughness PL 8, Parry/Toughness PL 7, Fort & Will PL 9.
  • Point total 180. Abilities 38, Defences 14, Skills 23, Powers 65, Devices 25, Advantages 15. Equiv. PL 12.


By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Seven Soldiers metaseries by Grant Morrison.

Helper(s): Roy Cowan, Gareth Lewis, Civafan2.

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