Monday, January 12, 2015

Formian Myrmarch

It’s formian week here at The Daily Bestiary!

The ant-like formians date all the way back to the world’s oldest role-playing game’s Monster Manual II, and they popped up in the ordered plane of Arcadia in 2e’s Planescape.  Their big boost came during 3.0: a) they were included in the core Monster Manual, and b) with modrons confined to an unillustrated free web supplement, formians became one of the main inhabitants of Mechanus (Nirvana) as well, aggressively claiming cog after cog on that plane of gears.  They also had a memorable role in Polyhedron #151/Dungeon #92’s “Spelljammer: Shadow of the Spider Moon,” as interplanetary expansionists in the vein of Starship Troopers’ Bugs.

In Pathfinder, formians have retained this role as territory-hungry, planet-hopping invaders.  Formians are particularly maddening neighbors, because they are utterly convinced of their natural right to expand, yet violently oppose intrusions into their own territory.  (That dichotomy can make for a great role-playing encounter for more talky groups—there’s nothing more fun to frustrate players with than a perfectly polite, yet utterly single-minded and dismissive “negotiator.”) For formians, the needs of the hive outweigh all other concerns.

Formian myrmarchs are the elites, the advisors, the generals, and likely the breeding males of the formian race, bolstered by poison stings and magical gifts devoted to intelligence gathering and persuasion.  They are the public face of the hive (assuming the hive ever deigns to communicate to the members of another race), their exoskeletons carved with mementos of their previous triumphs.  And with their inspire hive ability (greater heroism for every formian within 150 ft.!) it’s hard to imagine a better leader for a platoon of indomitable ant-centaurs.

Elderly formian myrmarchs are usually sent on suicide missions.  But when Kultik’it was sent to “slay the two-legger champions,” he discovered the Iron Arena instead.  Now he trains gladiators to fight in the ring, and his students are renowned for their discipline and sense of fair play.  Kultik’it has determined that life outside the Iron Arena is far less fair, however, and he feels free to use hold monster, charm monster, and feeblemind on the streets of Dakar Ru whenever necessary.

The jungle elven nation of Namiahr has no male champions—no elven ones, anyway.  A strange metamorphosis strikes its most potent men in their prime (specifically, when they reach 12th level), causing them to pupate over the course of an excruciating fortnight into insectile warriors known as myrmarchs.  These myrmarchs lose most of their personalities and seem to have only a dim sense of their previous existences, but they remain unquestionably loyal to Namiahr.  This affliction is presumed to be a curse left over from the costly White Orc War, but some whisper that the curse functions precisely as the Namiahr gynarchs designed it.

With their land being consumed by the undead hordes of the Spectre Gout, the leaders of Lyonesse make a desperate decision.  A generation ago, the armies of Lyonesse were forced to exterminate a formian invasion from the stars.  But if the antfolk could thrive in a human kingdom, surely the reverse must be true.  When the Circle of Jet creates a viable gate to a habitable formian colony world, the king of Lyonesse decrees he will lead his people to a homeland there.  This means he needs adventurers to establish a beachhead—adventurers mighty enough to face down even the mighty myrmarchs who lead the formian defenders.

Pathfinder Bestiary 4 109

Defending against a formian invasion is an amazing idea for a campaign arc, or even a whole campaign.  But since it’s also the obvious idea, I thought maybe we’d explore the opposite scenario.  Let the invasion begin!

I’m writing this from the set of a commercial shoot.  This is totally a #firstworldproblems gripe, but I hate being on set. 

(Actually, it’s okay once they start rolling, but the combination of anticipation and boredom beforehand is awful.)

(Radio recording is awesome, by the way.  Big comfy chairs.  Better food.  No stupid moving people or pictures.  I can’t recommend it enough.)

New radio show!  New year!  New Panda Bear.  New The Go! Team.  New Belle and Sebastian.  Plus music from The Preatures, Jets Overhead, Pavement and…the Dinning Sisters?!?  Listen and enjoy, dear readers…this is a good one.

(Link good till Friday, 1/16, at midnight.)

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