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I've seen people being attacked by spiders a few times, and it seems like every time I go and save them, someone gets left behind. Can there ever be a happy ending when you meddle with spiders?

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Only if you suffer from Arachnophobia :) – NickSuperb Sep 17 '12 at 4:27
Not really an answer, but taking some blame - I've never lost a crew member to spiders (I was starting to wonder if it was an auto-win, actually). So apparently I'm stealing all your luck. Apologies. :) – Allen Gould Oct 2 '12 at 22:22
Update: Am now running 0/4 in my recent spider infestations. :( – Allen Gould Oct 11 '12 at 22:03
up vote 18 down vote accepted

No. There are many positive ends for the Spiders quest.

From perusing the game's data files (this event is called DISTRESS_INFESTATION):

  • You can send in your crew to help.
    • This can result in losing one crew member
    • Or it can result in a high-level "stuff" reward (fuel, missiles, drone parts, some scrap - what you get for enemy surrenders)
  • If you have an Anti-Personnel Drone, you can use it to gain a medium-level "stuff" reward, and lose a drone part.
  • If you have a Boarding Drone, you can use it to gain a low-level "standard" (scrap and two other resources - what you get for destroying a ship) reward, and lose a drone part.
  • If you have a Anti-Bio Beam, you can use it to gain a high-level "stuff" reward.

The game data doesn't contain random weights for the events, so I would guess it's 50/50 whether you lose a crew member or gain the reward for sending them in.

Note that even if you have a drone to send in, the rewards are better for risking your crew.

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I'm 1 for 5 on spider attempts via sending over crew. That's enough punishment for me. If I ever end up with alternative, non-crew-lethal, solutions I'll have another go. – Shaderach Jan 19 '13 at 23:42
There's an 8% chance of being 1 for 5 (and a > 10% chance of being 1 for 5 or worse), so what you're saying isn't all that strange. – user2640 Jan 20 '13 at 7:52

I'd still like to know if it's ever worth sending crew, but I just discovered a "blue" option, which is sending in a Boarding Drone. It seems like the drone has much less to fear from spiders than people do.

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There appear to be multiple blue options, as an anti-personal laser can also be used to blast the spiders without risking your crew. – au revoir Sep 16 '12 at 5:32
Except that the boarding drone also rips a hole in the ship which kills the crew. – Shadur Oct 2 '12 at 13:26

On a recent pacifist run on using the Zoltan Cruiser, low on scrap and desperate for fuel and lacking any better options, I tried to save them. And succeeded! got 50 scrap for my trouble, some text about contacting the managers about their spider problem. Didn't lose anyone, either.

It's likely just a fairly low probability of success, although crew composition might factor into it (race, combat experiance, etc)

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Yes, there is a positive outcome - it's mostly just down to luck (though I speculate that there are other factors involved, and that some events are more biased towards positive or negative outcomes).

However, there are a few "blue" options that always yeild a positive result when dealing with spiders, including:

the Boarding Drone and the Anti-Bio beam.

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