I love the ettercap. Well, that’s not perfectly accurate: I love spider monsters, and this is our first spider monster, and it has a name that’s fun to say. And what a spider monster the ettercap is, because they have an intelligence of 7 and speak no languages. These creatures substitute for the bugbear: stealthy, vicious, low intelligence, nets and garrotes.
3.X/Pathfinder suggests several traps they might build around their lair, capture-nooses and deadfalls and such. I like the idea that the ettercap lays traps, and indeed the 5e ettercap entry has a variant box with web garrote, which works just right (roll20’s copy has the garrote included). These previous editions also let the ettercap speak common, I note. How do they learn common? Who is holding conversation with them in their parlors? Are they up-to-date on slang?
I’m betting if they have treasure, it comes entirely from selling rope, silk, 50 ft. coils; I’m betting that they sneak into cities under cover of night and under a coat, all glowing eyes in the wrong places and mandible-based speech impediments.
Variant: Ettercap Trader
Speaks common and can craft goods from its silk and, to a lesser degree, chitin. They wear filthy silk cloaks and wraps to pose as humanoids.
Spiders are arachnids. Crabs are arachnids. Aquatic ettercaps, with one big claw and one little claw and a shell made of an old tin can?
Variant: Marine Ettercap
Has a swim speed of 30 ft., an AC of 16, loses its climb speed, traits and actions. It has multiattack (big + little claw). Its big claw deals 11 (2d8+2) piercing damage and a grab; its little claw 7 (2d4+2) damage. At the beginning of its turn a creature grabbed by its big claw takes 11 (2d8+2) damage.
On the other hand, you are what you eat:
Variant: Spider-species Ettercap
Some ettercaps adopt the features of their spider-charges. In particular, you might give the ettercap a CR of 3, and one of the following traits based on spider type:
- Phase spider: Ethereal Jaunt. As a bonus action, the ettercap can magically shift fromt he Material Plane to the Ethereal Plane, or vice versa.
- Giant wolf spider: Paralytic Poison. A creature failing the save against the ettercap’s bite by 5 or more is paralyzed while poisoned. A creature reduced to 0 hit points is poisoned for 1 hour, even after regaining hit points.
- Leaping spider: Standing Leap. The ettercap’s long jump is up to 30 feet and its high jump is 15 feet, with or without a running start.
- Spitting spider: Venom Web. Any creature beginning its turn in contact with the spider’s web takes 4 (1d8) poison damage and must succeed on a DC 11 Constitution save or be poisoned for 1 minute. A creature no longer in contact with the web can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of tis turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.
Per wikipedia, “It has been suggested that ettercaps are the descendants of a group of mad druids”. I’m not sure I’d really want to chase that line of plot where it leads, because druids just don’t scream spiders to me. But I guess if you have humanoid and bestial features, druids beat alternative origin stories.