Wow. Not sure how to rate this one. On a personal taste level, I'm not a fan of overly done thees and thous, which I think this is a little guilty of, but it is very well written on a more objective basis and the puns are amusing. I don't see how this would every come up in game play.. you're basically saying wood burns because of what the ants do in heat. So I suppose then wood without fyre ants wouldn't burn? But the ants seem to be everywhere I imagine. As for sabotaging someone else's home with them, unless I understand the ants themselves do not create fire, unless you hold a torch to the house. Go to Comment
I agree CM. This to me seems to be a good attempt to recreate medieval 'scholarly' texts and to me he seems to be discussing the origins of fire in general, in much the same vein as frogs appear spontaneously from mud.
The original was a large butterfly (wing about the size of a fully spread hand) that left a glowing glitter (like smacking a lightning bug with a tennis racket and the glow just sort of spreads for a second) as they fly. Only come out at night.
I had the large version specifically attracted to a useful magic item that the characters were using.
I made a smaller version that was attracted to any active magical device at any time of day. Not to big of a deal during the day, but at night they leave a nice light trail around whoever is carrying magic items. Go to Comment
Asclepius' flies are similar in size to the ordinary housefly, but they are white, with crimson eyes (ugly little creatures). Unlike most flies, however, they are not diseased, in fact their remarkable immune system contains agents which tackle even human illnesses. This is the source of their white colouring also. The standard technique for capturing them, to use their juices, is to tempt one onto the palm of one's hand and then to quickly wring your palms, then rub the mush onto the afflicted area. This is not for the squeamish, but has definite healing possibilities.
Swordbiters are parasites. They are long, thin and silver, and digest metal, somewhat like rust monsters, but smaller and more insidious. They resemble stick insects, but when they cling to metal they are very well camouflaged, and one can be biting your sword for a week before you notice it. They cannot be removed by hand, as they are very strong, but if the blade is inserted into fire they will leap off to escape the flames. Sometimes, old treasure hoards are infested with them, and the first glimpse you get of the "glittering" weapons is a pile of rusted swords encrusted with these thin silvery insects.
An insignficant little species, the candlebug (or waxmoth) is a persistent bane for mages and merchants alike. Each the size of a small digit, these little scarabs thrive on wax and burrow up inside candles, ruining them. Sometimes a late-night worker will hear a crack and a sizzle as his candle expires, only to find the half-burned remains of a waxmoth squirming around on his desk. This is very annoying in worlds where candles are expensive... Go to Comment
While not much bigger as a fist, has legs much longer and is very bendy and agile. With legs disturbingly reminding of long deformed fingers, it has the annoying tendency to jump upon a character (high shock value), grab whatever (s)he is eating and run away with it. Remember the 'facehugger' from Aliens? Imagine something similarly disgusting but not out to kill (or implant an egg). Only a nuisance, but sometimes fey-folk trains one to steal valuables, so better watch out. Go to Comment
Fact from observation: June bugs are apparently stupid. They continuously fly into walls and things.
Thief bugs are not very bright, but they will make their way into other creature's burrows in search of food. They go in a straight line until they run into something, and when they do they run into it hard enough to change their direction by the rebound. Underground, if one listens carefully, they can hear the repetitive clicks of thief bugs running into obstructions. Go to Comment
Never squash a Yellowjacket wasp near the nest. A dying Yellowjacket releases an alarm pheromone that alerts its comrades. In less than 15 seconds, Yellowjackets within a 15-foot radius will rally to the victim's aid.
Never stop for lunch near a Phalanx Ant hill. If one of their scout ants finds more food than it can carry, it sends out a scent blast to alter other scouts to get the haul, and sends out another blast all the way back to the ant hill every time it can no longer smell the last one. The resulting scent trail leads the majority of the ant hill to your food.
This invasion can be solved if you can find their soldier ants, by looking for the slightly larger ants with two horns. If you can kill the soldier ant, it releases a retreat scent blast and the Phalanx ants will return to the ant hill untill the scents disapate. There is typically one soldier ant in five hundred. Go to Comment
Air temperature in degrees Fahrenheit can be calculated by adding 40 to the number of calls a tree cricket makes in 13 seconds.
These small, bright yellow crickets sing to each other. Their mate song consists of short high and low chirps and long, high chirps. If you count the number of long chirps one cricket sings to the other and subtract 5, you will be able to tell what hour it is. These crickets mate for life, however, and if one dies, the other cricket will only sing it's lonely song, a collection of short and long low chirps. Go to Comment
It could be interesting if the long fingered theif had a poor digesteive process, and stole the food because it was more noutricious than the food it can normally digest. That means that when it attacks, it more often goes for the food that has already been chewed up some. Ewwwwww.
Mother always told you to eat with your mouth closed. Now you know why. Go to Comment
These are a sidebranch of the Annelida animals (Earthworms) that gather together in the earth and form huge balls. When it rains, the orbs slowly move toward the surface and begin to roll, sometimes travelling over twenty miles in a night. Go to Comment
Biteme- An insect so small that it is nearly invisible, the Biteme is known for its irritating sting, which itches but does not hurt. These midges often gather in swarms to protect their egg-sacs, which, when split, release four-to-five-hundred young Bitemes.
Manylegs- A catch-all term for insects used in many of my settings.
Neekerbreeker- Taken from Tolkien. A relative of crickets which makes an annoying "neekbreek-neekbreek" noise.
Mountain Beetle- This large beetle carries a stone as its back carapace, which doubles as camouflage and protection. Go to Comment
In Southeast Asia there are moths that feed on blood and eye fluids from livestock and occasionally humans.
Assassin bugs, sometimes known as conenoses or kissing bugs are killer insects that feed on blood or other insects. The kissing bug label comes from the insect's ability to steal a blood meal by piercing the lips, eyelids or ears of a sleeping human victim.
Blood Angel Butterfly
The blood angle butterfly is a shimmering white butterfly with light red patterns on it's wings that look much like feathers. They are parasites that feed off the blood of mammals including humaniods. They land on a sleeping or resting host and peirce the skin with thier strong, sharp tounge and drink thier blood. As they drink, their wings become redder as they feed. Their saliva contains a light narcotic agent to help the host sleep longer and often leaves the host feeling relaxed for a short time after feeding. Because of the narcotic, many cultures feel it is good luck to feel a blood angle butterfly and frown on those who kill them. Go to Comment
Weird World: Bugs
April 24, 2003 10:17 PM
I once had a good friend who used to tease me about my role-playing habit. It was in the late eighties, and many people were still convinced the devil himself created D&D. My friend and I had many things in common; we were both into football, AC/DC, and blondes, but he simply refused to enter my world of magic. Finally he had enough of me and told me, quite frankly, that there was no need for fantasy when the world was weird enough. He had a good point.
Combine the fascinating world we live in with role-playing bliss, and you have an adventure worthy of legend. From the ancient dungeons of Turkey, to the mysterious voodoo in New Orleans, this world is saturated with gaming ideas. After all, even fantasy games are based on ancient beliefs: essentially, the reality of our forefathers. Let's start by picking up the Earth and see what crawls out.
Spiders, beetles, and worms. They are found in cave drawings, literature and media all over the planet. Is it the tough exoskeleton and amazing strength, or maybe the advanced sensory abilities and clever instincts? Whatever the reason, mankind will always express a child-like curiosity for these little creatures. In a fantasy world, these chitin-clad monsters can have many brilliant roles.
Spell Components and Alchemy
Spells and alchemy have always been a great part of gaming. I used to love going through the magic book, envisioning incredible flashes of magical energy woven in to potent charms and enchantments. While most games have great ideas for magic, they often lack interesting ingredients. This is where bugs can play a significant role.
Insects can do almost anything. They can glow, jump, poison, pinch, stink, sing, meta-morph, spin silk, fly, swim and make paper. With so many natural abilities, I am confident to say there is a perfect bug for every magic idea. The fun part comes when wizards are forced to keep live bugs in their packs or alchemists hire characters to harvest army ants. Getting to know these remarkable insects and their abilities stoke the embers of creativity. Here are a few bugs that made me think "outside the book":
The dandy jumper spider taps on spider webs pretending to be a courting male. It continuously tries different greetings to lure the female down. Once it finds a successful pattern, it is intelligent enough to memorize the pattern for use in the future whenever it finds a similar type of web.
When threatened, the bloody-nosed beetle breaks thin membranes in its mouth and spits up its own blood. Chemicals in the blood can make predators very sick.
The bird dung spider looks like a piece of bird crap in the day. But at night it releases a chemical that attract moths for dinner.
Parasitic wasps lay eggs on live insects. When the eggs hatch they borrow into the insect, eating it alive.
Each of these bugs could easily be a component for a spell, or ingredient for a potion. Try to find similarities between the purpose of the spell and the characteristics of the insect. A viceroy butterfly mimics the appearance of the monarch butterfly, but only the monarch butterfly is poisonous. This bug demonstrated a mimic ability, which could be used in an illusion spell. While bugs and magic complement one another, each of these bugs could also be the heart of an epic adventure.
There are many ways to make a bug adventure. The first step is to find a really cool bug. The Vampire Moth from Asia, for example, has a dagger-like proboscis (snout) that it uses to suck blood (even human). With that, three adventure ideas come to mind: A moth transmitted disease where the group has to find the antidote, before livestock and people start to die. A political adventure where the group has to find out what the enemy's secret weapon is. As it turns out, it is a foreign moth with no natural enemies in the area, capable of driving out inhabitants with their great numbers. And finally, another adventure could involve a faction or cult that wants the rare moth enough to kill for it, leading to a Sherlock Holmes style mystery.
Often, the easiest way to include a bug in an adventure is to start small. Changing the bag of gold reward into a jade scarab is a start. You can carry this further by making the people the group is trying to help, bug worshippers. Instead of saving a princess, the group can save a prized dung beetle. This may seem silly to risk character lives for a beetle, but the bug worshippers don't think so. Perhaps the group has to save a few fools that zealously went into the haunted ruins to save the bug themselves. This is just one way to modify an existing adventure to have an insect theme.
Bugs have diets, defences, and enemies. But picking an appropriate bug for an adventure can be quite daunting at times. To help chose the perfect insect; I personally keep a couple bug books handy. Science books, children fact books, even nature magazines can be a source of great inspiration. I have even found newspaper articles that have become adventures when they show elements of conflict, drama, and intrigue. There is bound to be a perfect bug for the perfect adventure.
The possibilities are endless as bug collectors, wizards, scientists, fanatics, and eco-terrorists all seek exotic insects. The hot chemical spray of a bombardier beetle could be the world's next great discovery or most devastating weapon. The world is full of great bug ideas. Who can forget the 1990 movie Arachnophobia, with Jeff Daniels and John Goodman? Guaranteed inspiration. The fact that bugs exist, and that we know so little about them, makes the adventure even more unpredictable. The plot takes a nasty twist when the assassin the players have been looking for turns out to be an innocent spider. What was the effect of the assassin rumors on the relationships of the people involved? Perhaps the real adventure explores how fear drives people to desperate action. Insects can be used to reveal the curious, fearful, and mysterious sides of our nature. . .making them a powerful tool.
Motivation and Instinct
Most bugs reproduce very quickly, and adapt even quicker. This can make them a very worthy adversary to the most seasoned player. Understanding the basic motivation and instincts behind the insect can add to the realism of the game. All bugs do not act the same way. Bugs can be aggressive or shy, and they can chase, ambush, run or fight. Just because the group's tent was just knocked over by a giant spider, doesn't mean the spider is going to attack the group. The spider could be more interested in catching prey in its web (like its instincts tell it to), then to fight it out with a group of people. Adding motivation and instinct to the equation is the finishing touch of a great bug story.
So the world is weird enough after all. Bugs can increase realism, add interest, or make the entire adventure. Whether it's mosquitoes nipping at camping elves, or the King's prize singing cricket, insects will always have a place in games. In fact, I think the next time my good friend comes over, I'll feed his 12th level paladin to a giant trapdoor spider. Go to Comment