I didn't vote this as high as Unummodo. Let me explain.
There's a lot of cool, cool stuff going on here, but most of it is just a recap of what we learned in the Unummodo sub. There's a few new details (vibration, parasites, FACE-WEARING).
This sub is just the biology. They have a great propensity for evil, but do they ever get super-evil with it? Do they feel bad about the people they eat? They're smart (they learn in 4 weeks what takes us 10+ years), but do they have personalities, goals, or culture? What exactly does a face-wearing horse-sized beetle do for fun?
Anyway, I pay more attention to biology than I should, and it sort of bugs me to think about the idea that nerves are still usable after rotting for five days. If we don't have circulating, oxygenated blood, very bad things happen to our bodies. After a few minutes, our neurons break. After a few hours, pH and osmotic pressure have started rupturing all the cells, muscles lock up (broken Ca+ pumps), and bacteria blooms have already made our guts stinky.
If you want a more IRL version, you could have the parasites preserve organs instead of digesting them, and the implantation fails without them. Maybe they're really good at keeping skin alive and healthy. Instead of nerves, you could have the young bugs depend on the cadavers for skeletons, since they can't stand up without a framework to lean on (they're just tentacled grubs at this point). Heck, they can't even chew their food without a human head (they don't grow their adult pincers until later. Maybe they grow their own tentacle-muscles where the human's muscles used to be, and it takes them a long time to learn how to talk without slurring like that other face-wearing beetle in MIB. Ooh! Maybe they bond with their human skull/skin face, and think of it as THEIR face. Throwing it away when you get older would be weird. And then you'd have this creepy bug face and you probably couldn't whistle anymore! Sadness.
Come to think of it, if you really annoyed your siblings, they could rip off your face and you wouldn't be able to talk for a few days while you regrew your cranial tentacles. Couldn't even chew. Or see. Or hear. I guess it would be cool to see a PC chop off a angry villager's head (with surprisingly little blood), only to see the villager drop to their knees and go searching for it like Velma for her glasses.
Also, you've got two symbiotic organisms in here (and I guess the beetles themselves are a sort of postmortem parasite). If you want to go symbiotic/parasite-themed, you could give these guys a parasite menagerie (Is there a 30 symbiotes sub?) And maybe the ceremony where the mother gives a daughter a colony of the parasite and the mushroom could be a coming of age ceremony, like Catholic Confirmation and First Communion.
Also, also, what do the mature males do if they aren't raising a brood of nightmare-spawn? Raid tombs for arcane lore or just tromp around the desert looking for buggy love?
Also x3, I can imagine one of these working as a healer in a village. She dispenses small amounts of Nectar of Life to sick villagers, and in return, she gets fresh corpses from the hangman. And her children have to get jobs as ditch diggers. Or town watch, if they are stronger than normal humans. That'd be another fun town to go to. The guards just run away after you decapitate them, no one's been buried in the cemetery for 2 decades, and there are these WEIRD tracks around the gallows. . . Go to Comment
Sensing vibrations is pretty far from a hivemind. Could a human replicate the vibrations by hand or with an instrument? I'm picturing a scene where the PCs are interrogating the gravedigger about the missing ambassador. After enough sweat has run down the gravedigger's face, he does a quick, arrhythmic series of taps on the floor with his boot and all these creepy crawlies swarm out of the basement while the gravedigger makes a break for it.
Also, later they meet the missing ambassador weeding a turnip patch and he seems to have some sort of weird amnesia. And's he a little pale. Talks like he's drunk, too.
Men's Health tells me that I poop 200% of my body weight in a year. If the beetle is 10 times as efficient, and poops 20% of its body weight, and it weighs about 1000 lbs (mid-sized horse), then it poops about 200 lbs of poop at once.
Wow. You can grow a lot of mushrooms in that stuff. Go to Comment
Thank you! I've never actually noticed that "Add an Idea" button before.
And sure! I'm up for anything that can turn my 5am delirium into something productive. I just don't want to hijack your beetles with silly ideas. What's the best way for Strolenites to talk to each other? Chat? PMs? Message board? Brunch at a tapas place?
Deserts are the driest places on earth, so that's fair. However, I'm just thinking about the amount of biomass that grows per square mile of desert, and the total biomass that an elephant-sized beetle would need to eat in order to grow to that size. Also, larger mammals have problems dissipating heat. Most desert animals are small animals. Go to Comment
I like the way you think. I think a lot more culture would be a really good addition.
Also, I recommend that you start adding some idea scrolls. You've got some good stuff here.
Moreover, I agree that the parasites should be a requirement for the larva to take hold on a host.
Additionally, I really like the idea that the beetles can just reattach lost body parts. It makes a lot of sense and is generally a cool idea.
Furthermore, I agree that the host's body would have severely degraded and be near the verge of useless rot. I vaguely relied on the regenerative powers of the Nectar to reverse the decay. However, I think that reworking the process might be in order. Perhaps the first thing the beetle does is "commandeer" the host's heart to keep the blood flowing after the host dies an agonizing death from mass organ failure.
Finally, being more biologically minded, would you be interested in reworking this sub and co-authoring it with me? Go to Comment
I imagine that the beetle would need to eat 4 to 6 humans. Very good point though. Fortunately for the beetle, it lives underground. It is never exposed to the direct sun. Part of my rework on this sub is going to clarify that the beetle is a cave beetle rather than a desert beetle. This should help with a lot of the discrepancies. Go to Comment
The Petty Kingdoms is a region consisting of hundreds of small states. Some are kingdoms, some are city states, some are large farming communities, some are duchesses and baronies and so on and so forth. Within a few miles the PCs might reach a new "country" with completely different rules and norms than the one they left behind. "What do you eat here? Humans ye say? Lets turn around fellas."