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Comments: 17
Ideas: 0
Rating: 3.4167
Condition: Normal
ID: 5000


May 4, 2008, 4:01 pm

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Cheka Man

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Candle Beetles


In the darkness you notice a point of light erupt no bigger than a candle, quickly followed by several dozen more and a soft metallic sound, like a man at the dinner table sharpening his knife against a fork.

Full Description

Prolific within underground dungeons as well as abandoned cellars and damp slimy caves, these beetles are a menace to the unwary adventurer but also a life saver in times of desperate need.

About the size of a grown mans fingernail these pale white beetles feed off the mold and fungus the grows so readily in damp underground environments, and congregate in groups of 20-50 for saftey.

When threatened they secrete a flammable oil over their hard carapaces which they ignite it by sparking their pincers together, a sound that is at once metallic and yet faintly organic.

Once aflame these beetles will easily burn for several hours and quickly swarm over their foe and cling to its body with their sharp pincers, allowing the hundreds of small flames to kill the creature.

Once the enemy is dead the beetles will then retreat, returning to the corpse several days after the damp environment has caused it to begin to decompose with new breeds of mold and fungus.

Additional Information

These beetles are highly prized by alchemists, who will often sell by the dozen them in specially crafted lanterns to adventurers seeking a near fuel less lantern they can simply feed their moldy left over rations to. However this practice has been outlawed in many civilized areas due to the accidental release of these pests which can turn a normal town into a raging inferno.

Also some cunning adventures have used these dangerous creatures as make shift fire weapons. As one favored method goes; you lay out a open bag with some moldy bread or goblin toes inside and a rope attached. Then slowly drag the bag towards yourself after enough beetles were inside and gently draw the mouth closed. As long as the bag is handled somewhat gently the beetles will be more interested in the food source then their surroundings.

When one encounters a large dangerous creature a hefty toss of the bag will result in the agitated ignition of the beetles and their frenzying attack of the monster they have been flung at.

Other times a adventurer running for their life will stumble upon a nest of the insects and mange to run past before sufficiently angering them to ignition. However their pursing opponents are often not so lucky as the swarm has already been riled into a more alert state and are quick to react to the next group of intruders.

Their mating habits are unknown, although most suspect they are similar to other species of beetles.

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Comments ( 17 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Siren no Orakio
April 29, 2008, 22:36
That's a pretty odd adaptation, but interesting. Maybe not the way I would have done it, but it's definitely a unique challenge for an adventurer.
Voted Scrasamax
April 30, 2008, 8:50
I think the part that I like about it is that the beetles are not carnivorous, starving for the flesh of man, and instead swarm when threatened and will only return to a corpse days after it's demise to nibble of the muck growing on it.
Voted Cheka Man
April 30, 2008, 12:39
Owch. It must be a pain getting rid of a nest of these.
Voted valadaar
April 30, 2008, 20:15
They must be very magical to burn for hours - both to sustain a flame that long and to survive it. Do they have an origin of note?
May 1, 2008, 0:48
Aye, quite magical, but they've got no particular origin I've thought of yet, although that could make for an interesting adventure for a scholar pc or npc ;) (If one could determine it's origin one could perhaps find a more adaptable species to use for alchemical purposes.)
May 1, 2008, 20:16
I'm just curious about the part where you say these beetles could be a lifesaver in times of need? Did you mean as a source of light, or something else?
May 2, 2008, 16:36
Aye as light, or more as a improvised fire bomb attack.. A canny adventurer could find a relatively easy way to trap a few of them in a bag without too much trouble.
May 2, 2008, 16:43
Updated: Updated with details on how these beetles can be used offensively by a savvy (or desperate) adventurer.
Voted Aramax
May 4, 2008, 15:46
Very good,Im always looking for stuff like this!
Voted manfred
May 4, 2008, 15:57
(Note: I've added the 'Insect' freetext for you.)

And they are okay. Quite a representative specimen for your dungeon needs. :)
May 5, 2008, 1:22
Why did you not link them to this:
Insects (and Spiders and other creepy crawlies)
Voted MoonHunter
May 5, 2008, 1:24
An interesting part of the ecology. These things don't need a magical or odd origin. They could be 100% natural, though odd, in origin.

I could see these things being bred for larger size and being milked of their chemical bounty.
Voted Michael Jotne Slayer
May 20, 2008, 12:37
This one hits home with me. The imagery was vivid for my part, when a sub makes me try to "see" it in my imagination something about it is good.

With this I imagine a damp dark cave, the walls are slimed with fungus and moss. The very air seems to be humming deep within the mountain. And behold, a light appears in the pitch black, and then another... The cave is soon burning with a hundred candles, revealing a cathedral like roof and a floor littered with brittle bones of former adventurers.

What I miss is more somehow, the basic idea is great. But I feel that their mythology could be expanded. Their options are so many. The colour and flavour" vs "the facts / the essentials" has long drifted in the undercurrents of the Citadel. I personally feel that this needs more flavour.

So in closing, this is a good solid idea that could easily be expanded to much more.
Voted Stephie
June 23, 2008, 14:21
Interesting creepy crawlie to run into.
Voted tinypoisonousfish
January 9, 2010, 10:41
I like them, nice little surprise and a twist on the old fire beetle besides. I'm going to use them immediately in a game.
Voted Dozus
November 8, 2012, 13:27
Practical, in terms of gaming. Like the others, I'd like to see them fleshed out a little more, but it's a great idea.
Voted Phaidros
February 4, 2014, 15:43
Nice addition to the dungeon environment! Saves on candles and clean up the mess the dungeon denizens leave behind!

Link Backs


Random Idea Seed View All Idea Seeds

       By: ephemeralstability


Having left the hush of the upper halls, and crossed the depths of the Braeth (an underground river, which is not all that deep because bear in mind we're talking about gnomes here), you would find yourself in Wattling Street, the main road through Udnalor. It's actually a long, well-worn passageway which opens out eventually into the City Centre. The gnome-buildings branch off Wattling Street as small burrows or caverns with boulder-blocked doorways for privacy. You can find armourers and smiths (though their armour tends to be on the small side for humans to buy) and many other types of trader.

There are many streets, ginnels and cooies which run off Wattling Street, the most famous probably being Smell Street, the domain of the infamous gnomish alchemists, the eponymous smell being very distinctive: the stench of cooking fungus, the aroma of subterranean spices, the pungent reek of rotting carcasses (used in some of the more notorious experiments). An encounter with an alchemist can really be spiced up (excuse the pun) if you have a well-stocked herb cupboard, and actually make up the potions, elixirs and draughts as they are ordered by characters.

Ideas  ( Locations ) | May 4, 2002 | View | UpVote 0xp

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