Hathédru – a SAGE gift.

The SAGE ends today (I received my present earlier and its Awesome 🙂 tnx squidman!) and as such I present to you my personal SAGE gift. And to  borrow Zaks words.. “Happy birthday Ghost of Gary, we still like your game…and thanks for coming to the party, Ghost of Dave, we couldn’t have done it without you.

The request
> I want a monster that’s Lovecraftian- not Cthulhu-thing Lovecraftian,
> but rather Nyarlathotep-style subversion-of-men Lovecraftian. There
> should be no relation of any sort to tentacles. Pictures not
> necessary, but a write-up and basic stats/powers should be enough.
> Stats preferably 3.5 rules.

I first started off with a strong Nyarlatothep theme, but decided (after it was 50% completed) that I needed more of a monster and started over. The overall Cthulhu theme as I see it (the gods etc) is mostly about a huge and incomprehensible evil lurking over humanity. Not much is known, but most of that is very fearsome. Nyarlatothep kicks it up a notch (BAM!) as it disguises the evil in every day forms and even takes away the recognisable “pure evil” actions and puts more mundane ones in place that are equally devastating in the long run.

I had a long thought about a disguised evil with enormous proportions. Ever looming and impossible to destroy. So Hathédru was born! (I hope he’s what you were looking for! 🙂 )

Hathédru

Hathédru is an ancient god, slumbering deep underground and only sporadicly manifesting itself in the cities of humanoids though never without disastrous results.
Supported by a well spread and well organised secret cult believing they receive the will of Hathédru trough their elder Sages.

Or at least thats what some believe. A small faction supports the less popular idea that describes the Hathédru as a sentient hive of bugs, the hive mind often combining 1000 of bugs (and a host of magical racial treats) to mimic humanoid forms.

The Hive

All the Hathédru beetles are controlled by their collective hive mind and as such, all the beetles act as one creature. Their bond stretches over great distances and it is safe to assume that there is only one Hathédru entity. It is however possible that a piece of the entity is so far removed from the rest, that it forms a separate entity for the time of separation. When the distance is bridged however, the entity becomes one again and all knowlege becomes general knowledge again.

The entity often chooses to live in the midst of other organised beings (like humanoids) because these often offer a higher level of security than a cave or other lair might. The humans keep the big threats out of the city and the hive plays the humans so that they dont bother the hive either.

Since there is no centralized brain, the Hathédru are near impossible to eradicate. You might kill one of their mimicries, you might wipe out one of their nests, but there might be another one next to your favorite tavern down the street and you ll never know! And if even a handful of them escape, they can quickly repopulate.

Hive Size and Growth

If a part were to be split off, a small colony of 500 beetles is enough for the hive mind to manifest. Under this level, there is still a hive connection, but only enough to ensure procreation and survival.

The beetles reproduce at 50 beetles a day for a small colony (< 100). This amount multiplies as the colony grows: Amount a day = # of beetles / 100, rounded to the nearest natural nr, * 50.
ie 200 beetles = 100 a day; 300 beetles = 150 a day, ..

When the colony reaches 500 beetles, the hive mind becomes truly sentient and the growth depends on the activity the hive mind deems necessary. If procreation is still a priority, the math still stands (to monstrous proportions indeed). If other activities are deemed necessary (ie mimicry, relocating, ..) the reproduction falls to 10 per 100 instead of 50 in the earlier example.

Once the colony reaches a 10000; it is big enough to perform activities without negative effect on the amount of offspring they produce daily.

Once the colony reaches 100000, it must fan out; too big to live in one location. This does however not mean the colony splits off, its still one big hive. Once a second location is established, the growth stagnates. Explosive growth is still possible at will, but only for strategic reasons (like establishing a new location in a different city, ..) There is no maximal hive size, but the hive only grows to reasonable size relative to the available space. They are no pest that overrun a city thus forcing a city to action against them. (Unless the hive mind decides it wants to 🙂 Although it prefers more subtle methods of mayhem)

Individual Form

The Hathédru are a species of beetles. The individual beatles resemble the European rhinoceros beetle (Wikipedia) and are as defenseless as you would expect any beetle to be. Easily crushed and not too fast in escaping feet out to crush them.

Fine sized Vermin
Hit Dice: 1d3
Initiative: no modifier
Speed: 10ft
Armor class: 12
Base Attack/Grapple: NA
Attack: NA
Full attack: NA
Space/Reach: NA
Special Attacks: NA
Saves: NA
Abilities: Str 1, Dex 6, Con 4, Int — , Wis 4, Cha 2
Skills: NA
Feats: NA
Environment: Anywhere
Organization: Hive
Challenge Rating: 0
Treasure: None
Alignment: Neutral
Advancement: NA
Level Adjustment: NA

Eggs are laid into specially woven webs. The pick location, fill it with webs and fill webs with thousands of eggs. When such an egg hatches after 3 days of hanging, a young beetle walks off the web to the ground to join the hive mind. After a day the young one is a fully grown adult. The Hathédru are sexless and as such the survival of only a handful is enough to start a new nest. The webbing is used Exclusively for procreation.

Mimicry

The thing that makes this entity so dangerous (and is in fact its only defence) is its ability to combine a portion of their numbers and make it appear any other entity.

It can reproduce any size of creature by just having more individual beetles join in on the effort. The beetles attach to eachother to form the necessary shape. 100 beetles are required per 1 ft that is mimicked. Carrying more beetles is possible although not more than 40% extra or the form will suffer. (ie be fatter or in case of losing a number of beetles in the form, if more is lost, the form visibly diminishes. Either growing smaller or losing limbs or whatever, dependent on what works best for the story.)
As such, a medium creature would require at least 500 beetles and hold at most 710 to maintain its shape; a large creature 1000; a huge creature 1500; .. cfr the creature size and scale table 8-4 on page 149 of the DnD 3.5 Players Guide.
Any Hathédru beetle will do, to the extent that if two mimicked forms would touch, they could exchange part of their beetles to grow or diminish a form, or to strengthen it for combat or ..

The default mimicked stats are slightly below the common stats for that form. Ie a human would have a stats total of 60, for example Str 12, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 6 , Wis 10, Cha 8.
It is possible to temporarily boost these stats by sacrificing beetles. 50 beetles can raise one stat point for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes the beetles die off and drop to the ground, visible to any bystanders, and the stats return to the original amount. Stats can be boosted as long as there are beetles that are not necessary for sustaining the form to sacrifice.

Regardless of the duplicated entity, the form has the following abilities, used to successfully mimic the form (or whenever necessary.) These abilities are natural to the entity, they can be used at will and with no limitation.

  • The visual form is realized trough an “Alter Self” spell (without the time limitation and only for the actual size of the creature, the once size larger or smaller rule is not allowed. Do notice the spell does not grant the specuial attacks, so any fire breathing, acid spitting whatever is Out!)
  • Enchantment spells – The form has access to all enchantments at will (within the reasonable ofcourse) so long as it goes undiscovered.

If at one time the thing is discovered to be a mimicry, all enchantment spells automatically fail against the person(s) that figured it out. The casting is not apparent (does not require the standard actions, sound, ect.. and as such also works when the form would be bound), but other than that they are regular spells.

Killing the Mimicked form actually means destroying more than 40% of the beetles. Before this however, it is not unseen that arms or legs or tails are reformed to fill up damage taken in more critical spots.  The total mimicked creature HP represents the 40% beetles and when the creature is slain, the form can no longer sustain and it bursts apart in its original beetles form. The beetles can then try to regroup into a smaller form for which they do still have the numbers. They can easily do this in half a round. Or they might just scurry away and reform somewhere better suited to continue the attack, if thats what they want.
If there were more beetles than necessary to fill the form, they can also be counted as HP (analogous to the boosting of stats as mentioned earlier.) If the full 40% extra beetles were added to the form and used exclusively for HPs, the form can boost its HP to the full hitpoint potential.

HP: Common HP for the mimicked form; ie 3d6 hitpoints = (3×6 /2 =) 9 HP
Challenge Rating: One below the mimicked entity
Treasure: None

Behavior

The first priority is survival of the hive. Destruction up till 50% of the total amount of bugs is considered trivial and an acceptable sacrifice. Any destruction beyond 50% or that would drop (or lower beyond) the population below 1000 beetles is a grave threat and will be answered urgently with devastating measures.

Other than the base survival, the hive will try to expand its living grounds and protect them long term, though keeping as low a profile. The entity well realizes that if their nest is discovered, they will be eradicated. This includes, for example, mimicking humanoids to acquire property for their nest and create a semblance of normal life for the benefit of those living near the house with otherwise closed curtains.
Robbery etc to acquire funds if necessary, maybe even a very short term social relation if this would prove necessary.

The behavior may seem very random and erratic in a small scale, but the hive is all about the big picture, baby!

Plot Hooks

There are many stories to tell with Hathédru walking among other lifeforms, pushing their own weird agenda. Some ideas..

  • A local dignitary was found murdered, a hand full of weird looking beetles found near the body. The dignitary was trying to buy several houses near (or even including) the Hive nest.
  • A crime lord acts strangely for a few days, then dissapears. The bandit was first disposed off, then mimicked for several days and finally the mimickry was dropped. The body turns out to be in the lair, being feasted upon by the many beetles. The crime lord was killed because he was attracting too much attention to the district where the hive resided.
  • Someone found murdered; first sapped than choked with live beetles crawling inside his throat to clog up his trachea. (the thing where oxygen passes through to get to the lungs)
  • Dead bodies filled with eggs, bursting open with hundreds of beetles upon the touch; maybe even a mimic of that body forming off the ground to attack them and defend the eggs
  • A crime spree where a district is plagued with all sorts of horrific things. The hive is unhappy with the way the district is evolving – maybe too dilapidated, maybe too fancy or busy and is trying to drive away some of the people or clean the streets in a lagerer plan of developing the neighborhood as to better suit their needs.
  • A haunted castle, cleared of humanoids by the hive mind trough very intelligent hauntings; finally driving all the humans away and scaring off adventurers to keep a huge nest safe.
  • The Hathédru cult is terrorizing a small village. One of the elder cult leaders had an apparition where a face grew out of a wall, telling him to retrieve an object of worship from that village. The face were the real Hathédru using the cult to raid that village, the object is an ornate something, some peasant once bought somewhere – totally unrelated but a nice vessel for faith for the cult to worship, ..
  • The Hathédru cultists are destroying farmland. Their elders were divinely told that this was necessary. The Hathédru hive mind is protecting a wilderness nest. The efforts to stop the cultists are infiltrated by Hathédru mimics and sabotaged.

Also, if you want Teh Tentacles after all, you can replace any beetle reference with a tiny land octopus and have a tentacle fest (millions and Millions of Tiny TENTACLES!!!) after all 🙂

Published by Gert

Person-at-large.

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