Bringing Bugs Back

March 14, 2019 at 6:00 pm

“Not all ants use violence to dominate their world, some use more subtle methods.”

– E. O. Wilson

 

One of the stranger aspects of the original In The Labyrinth book were the Hymenopterans, or “Bugs”. As a kid their inclusion fascinated me. In a game that was so simple there were a ton of different types, and they seemed like a grab bag of insect tropes. Not to mention that they had their own society and complex hierarchy that seemed to have nothing to do with the more typical fantasy of the rest of the creatures.

It was not until years later that I learned that they came from the Metagaming wargame Chitin. This added even more weird details (and a lot of cannibalism), as well as some pretty trippy Jennell Jaquays artwork. I never really made use of them in games, but they always seemed like a big part of the Fantasy Trip.

So, I was pretty disappointed when I saw that there were no bugs at all in the reprinted TFT. Whether it was because of copyright issues or just lack of love for the poor hymenopterans, they ended up on the cutting room floor. To rectify this oversight, I created the Formyx. They are more like ants than the old bugs, and there aren’t as many varieties (sorry, Termagant and Phlanx), but hopefully they are a workable options to fill lost hives in Cidri or wherever your heroes delve.

Formyx

The formyx are a race of hive-dwelling insectile humanoids, greatly resembling upright ants. They are most commonly seem in lush tropical rainforests, but their colonies have been spotted in a variety of temperate environments. Formyx typically use their four rear legs for movement and stability, reserving the front two for manipulating objects and simple tools. A typical Toiler stands four feet tall, with the Martials slightly taller and bulkier. The winged Lancers and Harridans stand roughly six feet, and the massive Dories are easily 12 feet at the shoulder. Their color can very from light tan to deep red and occasionally black, depending on their environment.

Formyx Toilers and Martials have little intelligence and must be guided for the good of the colony. Most groups encountered will have at least one Driver in their number. A Driver can command one lesser formyx for each point of IQ it has within 6 megahexes. This command is absolute, and even if an order is dangerous or suicidal the Driver need only succeed at a 2/IQ test to demand it. If left without a Driver, a lesser formyx will gather what food is available (including fallen comrades) and return to the colony.

Lesser formyx fight with claws and mandibles, while Drivers and Lancers use primitive spears as well. Winged formyx have stingers they can use when striking from above. These creatures secrete a kind of venom that makes these wounds extremely painful. Figures taking hits must succeed at 3/ST save or –2DX from the pain of each wound. This effect is cumulative.

Unlike most ants, formyx colonies do not have queens. Rather, they have a number of fertile females called Harridans that vie for dominance over the colony. There are rarely more than a half-dozen of these crafty, winged females in one place, and when one is forced out they will take an escort of Lancers and set out to found a new colony.

The huge, load-carrying Dories are not formyx at all, but a type of subterranean beetle that has been bred into a kind symbiotic relationship with the colony. They are normally docile, but can be commanded to attack (and even ridden) by Drivers or Harridans. They do double damage with a charge, but must defend on the following round. They can also sweep all their front hexes with their massive horn, taking -2DX for each attack beyond the first.

The motivations of the formyx are alien to other races, and most mind-affecting magic and illusions do not work on them. Even their form of communications is undecipherable, although some have had luck creating a simple sign language with them. They only seem interested in food and expanding their colonies. Those that invade their territory, or live in area claimed by a new colony, learn quickly how aggressive they can be.

Toiler
Encounter Group: 2d
ST: 10
DX: 8
IQ: 6
MA: 10
AD: 1
Damage 1d‒2 (3/ST or -2DX per hit)
These are the workhorses of the formyx colony. While small in stature, they can carry 3 times their ST in Encumbrance.

Martial
Encounter Group: 1d
ST: 12
DX: 12
IQ: 6
MA: 8
AD: 2
Damage: 1d+1 plus Poison (3/ST or -2DX per hit)

Often found accompanying Toilers on gathering missions, the Martials are slightly taller, bulkier and have a heavier carapace. They, too, can carry 3xST in Encumbrance.

Driver
Encounter Group: 1
ST: 6
DX: 10
IQ: 12
MA: 10
AD: 1
Damage 1d‒3 plus Poison (3/ST or -2DX per hit) or javelin (1d-1)

Drivers are the leaders of small traveling groups, and speak for the colony’s goals. They are smaller even than the toilers, but their oversized heads differentiate them. Drivers are known to use Dories as mounts and pack-bearers.

Dory (3 space)
Encounter Group: 1d‒3
ST: 24
DX: 10
IQ: 3
MA: 8
AD: 3
Damage: 2d+2
Talents: Charge

Dories are monstrous beetles used as transport as well as in combat. They have long, horny projections on their heads and can charge for 2x damage.

Lancer
Encounter Group: 1d
ST: 12
DX: 14
IQ: 8
MA: 8/16 Flight
AD: 1
Damage: 1d or sting (1d+2) plus Poison (3/ST or -2DX per hit)
Talents: Fly-by attack

Lancers are winged formyx that accompany harridans when forming colonies. They have a curved stinger in their hind quarters that they can use to dive down and impale enemies as a flying charge for 2x damage. A Lancer is capable of limited independent action, but will always succumb to the Harridan’s commands. An airborne Lancer can make a stinger attack at any point in its movement, and continue to it maximum MA.

Harridan
Encounter Group: 1
ST: 12
DX: 14
IQ: 14
MA: 8/16 Flight
AD: 1
Damage: 1d or sting (1d+2) plus Poison (3/ST or -2DX per hit)
Talents: Fly-by attack

Harridans are the female leaders of former colonies, and constantly work to attain dominance over the others. In addition to its painfulness, a Harridan’s sting will drive all lesser formyx nearby into a berserker rage centered on the victim. Harridans can make fly-by attacks in the same manner as a Lancer.