Monday, January 3, 2011

General Rules: Monsters - Swarm Drone (Template)

Swarm Drone (from Twisted Lore)

Swarm drones are insect-like humanoid creatures transformed into the willing slaves of a goblinoid hive queen. Why hive queens choose to keep some subjugated humanoids as slaves and transform others into hive drones is not entirely clear, but almost all hive queens have at least some swarm drones at her command. Some queens make a practice of changing virtually all captives into drones, while others do so sparingly. No matter their origin, swarm drones serve their hive queen not only by killing her foes, but by making members of competing species into one of their own.

Like goblinoids, swarm drones can be found almost anywhere, although they have a distinct preference for dwelling underground. It is rare to encounter a lone swarm drone, as they tend to travel and live in larger clusters or hordes. If a solitary swarm drone is found, it is almost certain that it has either been forcibly separated from its hive or that it is a scout in search of new territory to plunder. Goblinoid hives commonly send forth chains of scouts to find new feeding ground when they have come close to completely consuming everything possible in their territory.

Swarm drones eat anything and everything they encounter, whether animal or vegetable, living or dead. Hive queens often use them to consume refuse that is too foul for even goblinoids to eat.

Swarm drones cannot produce offspring in a natural manner. Instead, all new swarm drones are created by the infectious sting of another swarm drone. This transformation is not automatic; indeed observers have yet to determine why some defeated opponents become food while others become new swarm drones. The best guess is that swarm drones' glands respond to a signal from their hive queen and begin manufacturing poison when the drone numbers run lower than the queen would like. Hive queens have been known to send swarm drones on raids with the intent of transforming specific types of creatures.

Once transformed, a swarm drone loses all memory of its previous life and only exists to serve the hive queen. Creatures that were previously of animal intelligence become essentially the same as those who were once sentient: All are now mindless drones under the command of the hive queen.

Swarm drones have no sense of self, and no instinct for self-preservation. They fight and die at the command of their hive queen, with absolute loyalty and absolute obedience. Driven by the cunning intelligence of the hive queen, whose innate abilities are abetted by access to the hive mind of the swarm drones, these creatures are cunning foes. They often ambush and surround their prey in narrow underground passages from which their victims cannot easily escape. They will usually play different roles depending on the sizes or abilities of their base creature types, with larger drones playing the part of shock troops in the front lines, while smaller drones tend to play mobile support roles with their trilling attack. Swarm drones will use their supernatural and special abilities to their fullest effect as well.

Though their tactics vary at the behest of the hive queen, swarm drones usually concentrate their attacks on just one opponent to completely destroy and consume them before moving on to their next victim. Swarm drones often act in close concert with goblinoid warriors of their hive, in some cases, swarm drones that are Medium-size or larger serve as mounts for goblinoid warriors. In most other cases, when they coordinate with goblinoid warriors, swarm drones serve as suicide troops, breaking up enemy formations and hurling themselves into foes with reckless abandon to open holes for the goblinoids to exploit.

Creating a Swarm Drone
"Swarm drone" is a template that can be added to any animal, beast, fet, giant, humanoid, magical beast, or monstrous humanoid (referred to hereafter as the "base creature"). It uses all the base creature's statistics and abilities except as noted here:

Type: The creature's type changes to aberration.
Hit Dice: Change to d8.
Speed: The base creature's speed increases by +10 feet and it gains a climb speed equal to half its new land speed.
Armor Class: The base creature's natural armor improves by +2.
Attacks: A swarm drone retains any attacks made with its major manipulating appendages (arms, for instance, or front claws). it loses any bite- or tail-based attacks of the base creature and gains a bite attack and a sting attack.
Damage: Swarm drones use their mandibles for bite attacks and gain an acid sting. These attacks replace any bite or tail attacks of the base creature.
Bite Damage
Sting Damage
1d2 + acid
1d3 + acid
1d4 + acid
1d6 + acid
1d8 + acid
2d6 + acid
2d8 + acid
4d6 + acid
Special Attacks: A swarm drone retains all the special attacks of the base creature except those based on Charisma, such as a bard's suggestion ability. Swarm drones are part of a hive mind and therefore have no sense of self. Any abilities powered by divine sources become powered by Ninkurra (see below). A swarm drone also gains the special attacks listed below:
  • Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, the swarm drone must hit with its bite attack. A swarm drone that gets a hold can sting.
  • Acid Sting (Ex): A swarm drone has a stinger and an acid-producing gland in its abdomen. If it successfully grabs an opponent, it can attempt to sting each round using its full attack bonus. A hit with the sting attack deals the listed damage plus an identical amount of acid damage.
  • Infection (Ex): Should a swarm drone be instructed to do so by the hive queen, it may choose to inject a living victim with a transforming toxin when it makes a successful acid sting attack. This attack may only be used once per day. The attack inflicts normal piercing damage from the sting, but instead of an equal amount of acid damage, the subject is instead injected with a horrible poison. The victim must make a successful Fortitude save (DC 10 + ½ the swarm drone's Hit Dice) or fall unconscious for 1d10 rounds. Once unconscious, the affected victim begins the slow transformation into a new swarm drone. Within 2d10 rounds, a cocoon forms around the unconscious victim. This cocoon has a hardness rating of 10, 20 hits points, and a break DC of 30 - destroying the cocoon will automatically kill the victim inside it. Unless a cure disease or heal spell is cast upon the cocoon within 24 hours of its formation, the victim inside the cocoon will emerge from it the following daty as a swarm drone that serves the will of the hive queen. Only a wish or miracle spell can return a transformed swarm drone to its original state.
  • Trilling (Ex): A swarm drone of Small size or larger cmay, as a standard action, produce a sonic effect that damages the nervous systems of any non-swarm drones within a 10 foot radius. Those affected must make a Fortitude save (DC 10 + ½ the swarm drone's Hit Dice) or be shaken for 10 rounds. Any creature that saves against any swarm drone's trilling is immune to any other swarm drone's trilling for one hour.
    By standing adjacent to one another, swarm drones may combine their trilling to increase the radius and intensity of the effect; every additional swarm drone increases the radius by +10 feet and the save DC by +1. Up to 6 swarm drones may combine their trilling at once.
    Swarm drones may perform no other actions while trilling. Goblinoids are immune to the trilling of swarm drones.
Special Qualities: A swarm drone retains all the special qualities of the base creature except those based on Charisma such as a bard's inspire courage ability. Swarm drones are part of a hive mind and therefore have no sense of self. Any abilities powered by divine sources (such as a cleric's spellcasting) become powered by Ninkurra. Additionally, they gain the following abilities (in the case of duplicate abilities, use the better of the two values):
  • Hivemind (Ex): A swam drone may communicate with any of its fellows within 100 feet via a primitive form a telepathy. All swarm drones in the group must be caught flat-footed or none of them are considered flat-footed. Likewise, no swarm drone in the group is considered flanked unless they all are.
    The hivemind may be used by swarm drones to pass along directives from the hive queen. Killing or removing any member of he hivemind chain will cut the swarm drones further out on the chain off from communication. When outside the chain, a swarm drone becomes directionless and purposeless, incapable of taking any action on its own initiative until contact with the hive queen is restored. This is perhaps the reason that hive queens don't transform all captives into swarm drones, as they would be useless if they were ever taken too far from her.
  • Limited Vision (Ex): Swarm drones' eyesight is very poor. They retain whatever the base creature's normal form of vision was (including low-light vision and darkvision), but the range of any sort of vision shortens to 20 feet. Beyond that range they are blind.
  • Tremorsense (Ex): In return for losing their sight, swarm drones gain tremorsense. This allows them to automatically sense the location of anything within 60 feet that is in contact with the ground.
Saves: Same as the base creature.
Abilities: +2 Dexterity. While retaining enough simple understanding to carry out simple, immediate directions, swarm drones have no sense of self-, logic, or planning. Swarm drones therefore have no Charisma or Intelligence scores.
Skills: Swarm drones gain a +10 racial bonus to Survival checks to determine direction. They are unable to use any skills that use Charisma or Intelligence as their key abilities. Otherwise, same as the base creature.
Feats: Same as the base creature.
Climate/Terrain: Same as the base creature.
Organization: Solitary, scouting group (2 - 6), swarm (10 - 20) or hive (20 - 200).
Challenge Rating: Base creature's CR +1.
Treasure: None.
Alignment: Always lawful evil. any base creature with class abilities that require the creature to have an alignment other than lawful evil (such as paladins or barbarians) immediately lose those abilities.
Advancement: Same as the base creature.

Spellcasters as Base Creatures: Spellcasters that fall prey to an infectious swarm drone sting may lose their spellcasting abilities, depending on their source. In any case, their manner of spellcasting will change

Arcane casters always lose all spellcasting ability immediately. Because swarm drones have neither Intelligence nor Charisma scores, they become unable to use any known form of arcane magic.

Divine casters, on the other hand, retain most of their powers. The source of their divine power immediately becomes Ninkurra. Any domains a cleric might have possessed immediately disappear, replaced by two of Ninkurra's domains: Corruption, Endurance, Pain, or Rulership. Other divine class abilities, such as a druid's wildshape ability, remain.

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