Hellspiders were originally created as subsentient mobile engineering platforms by Metasoft, and often sold to Keter, the MPA and the Deeper Covenant. Around 7286 an anonymous transapient (most likely a member of the Institute for Vec Progress or a Pan-sophontist) upgraded the platforms, broke them away from the Metasoft standard and created a culture for them. Since then they have been spreading across the Terragen sphere of their own volition. Most of those retaining their original forms remain in the polities their ancestors were sold to, where suprastellar shells are most often found. Others have been modified to exist in other environments and have travelled elsewhere, some even rejoining Metasoft.
A Hellspider has a heavily shielded lens shaped body about a metre across with eight limbs spread equidistantly about the circumference. Each limb is triple jointed and approximately three metres in length. The tip of each limb contains a variety of tools, some of which are modular, and may be used for either manipulation or locomotion. Hellspiders hang from the inner surface of the shell by their limbs, either by gripping extrusions in the machinary or by locking magnetically to the surface. The lower surface is usually coated with solar power collection apparatus, and the upper surface and the limbs contain heat sinks and cooling devices. A Hellspider is usually capable of interfacing with the cooling systems of the suprastellar shell it lives on.
From their original programming, Hellspiders are hard working and like to be engaged in some useful physical activity. Repetitive tasks do not bore them, though they tire quickly of something if they think it to be useless makework. Art can only be appreciated if it has some practical significance.
Hellspiders are cautious in how they act, and yet remarkably nonchalant about the possibility of termination. It is foolish to go seeking death, but if it comes to you then that's just the way the universe works. Many do not bother with backups unless they intend on making copies of themselves to finish particular tasks. When a Hellspider falls, there is often enough time to mount a rescue mission. Sometimes an attempt will be made, but only if it not too troublesome to do so - Hellspiders rarely maintain permanent rescue facilities.
Hellspiders display a notable aversion to resting on top a surface under gravity. They prefer to hang from a ceiling (even if the floor is only a few metres below), or failing that exist in microgravity.