Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Giant Ants

HD 2 Armor 14 Intelligence dog
Bite 1d6 Speed human Morale 12 
Alarm Pheromone: When a giant ant is first injured, it releases alarm pheromones, which have a 50% chance to bring 1d4 giant ants and 1d2 soldiers from an adjacent area, arriving in 1d3 turns.  (This can potentially snowball until the entire colony is summoned, unless the scent is blocked somehow.)  Anyone engaged in melee with the ant when it is squirting the pheromone must make a Dex check or get covered in the stuff, which requires water to wash off.  Ants instantly attack anyone covered in alarm pheromone.
Colony Pheromone: A giant ant rubs colony pheromone on itself to mark it as a member of the colony.  If rubbed on an inanimate object, other ants will carry it back to the colony.  If the gland is removed, it contains enough pheromone to cover 2d4 people.  If a person is covered with colony pheromone, ants will not attack you unless you harm an ant or damage their colony.  If a person who is covered with colony pheromone and kisses a giant ant while tapping gently on their head, the giant ant will recognize the "I'm hungry" signal and vomit a nutritious, watery pulp into their mouths.  Pheromone is washed off by water.

worker vs soldier

Castes (same stats, exceptions noted):

Giant Ant, Soldier
HD 3 Armor 16 Bite 1d8
Capable of speech, personality, and goals.

Giant Ant, Prince or Princess
HD Intelligence human Morale 7
Capable of speech, personality, and goals.  Has hands with opposable thumbs for some reason.
Capable of spellcasting as wizard of equal level.  ESP is a favorite spell.

Giant Ant, Queen
HD 8 Armor 10 
Intelligence human Speed 0
Capable of speech and personality.  Goal is always the welfare of her colony, which she considers to be part of her body.  Has fingers + thumbs. Always attended by 2d6 ants.
Capable of spellcasting as wizard of equal level.  ESP is a favorite spell.

Anyone who knows anything about ants know two things.  One, there's a million of 'em.  And two, they generally ignore you unless you fuck with their nest.

Unless it's far from their colony, combat with giant ants tends to recruit more ants to the fight faster than you can kill them.  Since a colony is 2d100 giant ants, those odds get ugly pretty fast.

The trick to navigating an ant colony is learning how to disturb them.  Adventurers who are coated with colony pheromone can walk through an ant colony unmolested as long as they don't crush or burn any fungus (grows on most walls) or harm an ant.  Of course, soldier ants might still be blocking off one or two places in the nest (eggs, queen), and the noble ants (prince, princess, queen) are too intelligent to be fooled by mere pheromones.

honeypot ants
Strange Breeds
50% of ant colonies are not vanilla ant colonies, but rather one of these strange breeds.
  1. Lockjaw Ants. Capable of locking their jaws on to their target, giving -2 to hit as long as they remain attached.  This persists until their next turn when they probably just bite again), but persists even after decapitation and death.
  2. Exploding Acid Head Ants.  As a suicide attack, they can bite so hard they explode their head, shooting acid.  10' range, 1d6 acid damage, repeats until scraped  or burned off.
  3. Shield Heads.  Soldier ants have huge, flat heads that they used to block off main passages.  They will not budge unless you vomit in their mouths (they are hungry from all the door duty recently) or hand-feed them a ration.  But really, the vomit thing is more polite.
  4. Honeypots.  Like easy to reach fruit, these football sized ants hang on the ceiling.  Each one functions as a potion of cure light wounds, but they will only share their belly-nectar with injured ants (or PCs who smell like ants).
  5. Plant Symbiotes.  The ants are friends with 1d3 treants who hang out near the anthill. They have ants in their hair and are too smart to be fooled by pheromones.  They are also a bit loopy because they have ants in their brains, too.
  6. Fire Ants.  Bite does +1d4 FIRE DAMAGE and SHIT CATCHES ON FIRE!  (Or +1d4 poison damage that merely feels like fire, if you're feeling less gonzo.)

ant colony filled with cement
then the casting was excavated
Type of Anthill
  1. Traditional mounds of soft dirt.
  2. Terraced ziggurats of packed dirt with stone decorations.  (The queen has decided that she prefers the aesthetics of human civilization.
  3. A ghost town, all the basements excavated and linked together.  An ant metropolis beneath dusty streets.  50% chance that the ants are warring with 1d6 ankhegs in a horrible guerrilla war.
  4. Hardened pillars of clay, 100 feet high.  These are not ants but giant termites.
  5. Colony has burrowed into a graveyard or cairn.  Roll a sub-d4:
    1. Undead ant husks led by an enterprising ant queen necromancer.
    2. They dug too deep!  Many ants dead or trapped.  The queen will promise a great deal if you can rid the tunnels of undead, but she will not be grateful.  Insects don't understand gratitude.
    3. Ants have a weaponized the undead.  Skeletons are trapped in the walls and ceilings, ready to attack people who dig.  A rocky chamber can be opened that will release the undead on the surface (a threat the ants hold over a nearby town).
    4. Ants have fallen under the sway of a powerful ghast, who wears the body of their queen like a ballgown.  She holds dinners and balls, and dances with their corpses.
  6. Hollow tree.  500' tall and full of ant tunnels.

Obstacles Within the Colony
  1. A bunch of sleeping ants are blocking the way.
  2. The colony is under attack!
  3. A water obstacle threatens to wash off your carefully applied colony pheromone.
  4. Witnessing all of your pale wiggliness, a hard-working ant mistakes you for a larva.  Sighing inwardly, it picks you up and begins to carry you back to the larva chamber.  You probably lack any method of communicating a correction.
  5. Your clumsy human feet have caused a small cave in!  Someone may be separated (25%) or buried, save to avoid (25%).  The ants will repair the collapse in 2d10 hours, or half that time if you'd just get out of the way.
  6. A princess is approaching!  Quick, hide!
  7. A steep slope with loose soil threatens to send you tumbling onto a patch of fungus garden.  The ants won't like it if you smash their mushrooms.
  8. After using a rope to descend a vertical shaft, an ant notices your rope and dutifully removes it as garbage, dumping it in the otyugh room.
sisyphus the ant knows only two spells
transport water easily
and flatten hill
Guests of the Colony
It's very rare to find an ant colony that contains only giant ants.  Lots of other creatures live in ant colonies.  Predictably, the ants will react poorly if they see you killing their aphids or stealing humans from their larder.  Roll on this table 1d4 times.
  1. Human cattle.  2d6 shivering humans at the bottom of a 20' pit, guarded by a soldier ant.
  2. Fungal garden.  Glow-shrooms.  2d6 valuable truffels (200s each).  Guarded by a shrieker and a biter (both HD 2).
  3. Red aphids.  3d6 aphids (stats as flightless stirges) normally feed on sap during the day and are herded back into the colony at night.  But they also like to drink mammal blood.
  4. 1d4+1 giant assassin bugs.  Like the PCs, they have infiltrated the nest by covering themselves in dismembered ant parts and avoiding the nobility.  They look nothing like ants, and if the PCs seem to recognize that they are not ants, they will go into assassin mode, stalking them until they can be assassinated (stats as assassin 3).
  5. Trapdoor spider (HD 4, non-poisonous but possessing a hideous strength), living in one of the floors.  It's been getting fat on ants for a long time.  Mechanically, the trap door in the floor has a lot in common with a pit trap.
  6. Rival adventuring party (50%) or entrepreneurial merchants (50%).  They are guests of the queen, and have planned mutually lucrative venture.
  7. Feral child, usually found riding the ants, whooping and kicking them to make them scurry faster.  Smells like an ant.  Beloved by the nobles, who see the kid as a symbol of the endearing simple-mindedness and distractibility of the human race.
  8. A demon, here to offer bargains.  He is curious what an ant soul will look like.  Is there one small soul for each ant, or is the colony one big throbbing soul?  He has shapeshifted himself as a jewel-encrusted red ant who speaks perfect Common.
stay out of there, ants!
what are you doing
immature antlion

Machinations of Ant Nobility
Despite having Int 10, the queen is almost idiotic in her slavish devotion to her colony.  Her princes and princesses often have other ideas, however.
  1. Kill the giant antlion (use HD 7 ankheg stats; it remains buried in the middle of a well-disguised, conical-slide sand trap) a couple of miles to the north.  Ants are utterly helpless against it.
  2. Assassinate the queen, so one of the princesses can step in.
  3. Princes are lusty individuals, always casting a lascivious eye on their royal sisters.  However, they have heard that--and this might just be a dreadful rumor, mind you--that they actually die after losing their virginity.  The young lovers are eager for their nuptial flight, but both of them are quite fond of the prince (especially the prince) and would prefer for him to not die.  Find some way for this to happen.
  4. They desire the trappings of human civilization.  Furniture, beds, armoires, motherfucking drapes.  They also want a chambermaid, someone who will willingly serve inside an ant colony.  Yes, they are quite insistent about the chambermaid.
  5. One of the princesses wants to retain her maidenhood and become an adventurer.  Help her escape from under the watchful eye of her mother, but grab 3 eggs before you do--she doesn't want to spend the rest of her life without anyone civilized to talk to.
  6. The queen wants you to clear out the nearby dwarven ruins so that two of her children can move in after their honeymoon.  She will, of course, provide you with a pair of soldier ants to assist you.
ants are racist
Treasures and Rewards of the Formic Crown
A colony will have 1d2 of these, along with 1d6 x 1000s, probably buried in a wall somewhere.  That's what the PCs will be rewarded with (or what they'll be here to steal).
  1. 1d3 permanent giant ant hirelings, or 1 soldier ant hireling.  Fuck yes.  
  2. Grasshopper Token.  Turns into a giant rideable grasshopper.  (Stats as a horse that can jump really, really far.)
  3. Crown of Ant Command.  Except it only works on normal, tiny ants.  Looks like a chitinous band with a pair of antennae.
  4. 2d4 Formic Mushroom Caps.  Each functions as a potion: 
    1. Giant growth.
    2. Speak with insects.
    3. Cure light wounds.
  5. Blessing of Dutiful Offspring.  The next time you have sex, you will conceive 1d3 children who will grow up a bit stunted, but be extremely hard-working and unshakably loyal (to you).
  6. Armor of the Ant-Friend.  As strong as plate but as light as chain.  Once per day, you can shrink down to 1" tall for as long as 1 hour.
pictured: ant-person?
pictured: ant-person?
Ant Personality

Quick, decide right now how human the humanoid prince and princesses are going to be.  Are they just ants with thumbs or are they star trek aliens who are just humans with antenna stuck on?  Do they talk like chittery bugs or british toffs with just a bit of crumpet stuck in their throat?

Also, consider their faces.  Between species and castes, ants have a lot of diversity in their faces, and these faces have their own personalities.  Look at these ants!  LOOK AT THEIR PERSONALITIES!  HEAR THEIR VOICES!  THEY WANT TO BE USED IN YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE! #GIANTANTREVIVAL


  1. Dang it, I was going to post something like this one day. You beat me to it.

    1. If you write more giant ant stuff, we can cross-link to each other's stuff. Ants are social insects; it's only appropriate.

  2. Needs giant phorid flies: stats like giant wasps but the stinger does minimal damage, no venom, it just injects the eggs into the thorax.

  3. Lots of good ideas here... thanks for sharing!

  4. Ants are earth creatures. Elemental magic for the royals is thematic, or they could be actual elementals. Workers have magic to turn rock into mouldable concrete (and may be able to use this as a defense)..

    Some giant ants have colonies of normal ants as pets.

    The ant pantheon consists of The Queen, The Princess, The Drone, The Soldier, The Worker, The Lavae and The Egg. A few ant races are more druidic and mystic, worshipping Sun and Earth and Water. Other races that live underground have temples to some of the ant gods, especially The Soldier.

    The princes and princesses see the workers and soldiers as completely expendable. They are unable to see them as important beings, baffled by any concern for them shown by others. If a problem can be solved at the cost of 50 non-royal lives, then give them the orders. Visitors requesting pheromones will watch as a worker is summoned, decapitated, his gland precisely extracted and presented to them. (The winter dragon Hulekh lives at the top of a ziggurat built millenia ago by the colony that lives beneath. Three workers a day are selected by a princess as their protector's live meal.)

    Many kingdoms have fell when different ant races had their colonies too close. Ant armies fifty thousand strong marching and forming long battlelines ruins the land and wipes out unwalled towns. Educated rulers understand this, and will form an alliance with one species within their territory.

  5. I've been giving serious thought to creating a megadungeon campaign based entirely around receiving a strange message written in some odd language. After decoding it and following the instructions, the players arrive at a Giant Ant Ziggurat. The Queen needs the assistance of adventurers!

    I'd really just want to see if the players go along with it. How long would they humor this giant ant queen? Would they ever be able to return to normal civilization?

    1. Ant's building more complex things than just mounds is interesting. But that sounds like a normal civilization with a normal questgiver? Why use ants unless you're going to do something with them that only ants can do?

    2. I don't know what it is, but whenever you post something it makes me think. I owe a lot of creativity to this blog. You really get me thinking in a different way.

    3. Maybe the enemy is a group of Ant Spiders who infiltrated the nest, so it is the party's job to identify and kill the spiders, but have to do it in secret so that the nearby ants don't recognise this as a direct assault and gang down the party.