Friday, September 28, 2012

Swarms Table 1 (Wermspittle)

"One bee makes no swarm."
Questionable Franzik Proverb
Not all swarms are created equal. Here is a table of unique and exotic swarms for use on those occasions when you want something more than just a mass of biting, stinging insects and such.

Swarms (Table 1: D30)
  1. (3d4) bloated, squishy lampreys saturated in formaldehyde and other fluids are flopping about the floor trying to come to terms with being converted into badly embalmed and inadvertently abdead mockeries. Completely out of their element, the lampreys will seek water or blood, whichever presents itself first. If they escape into the Sewers, there is a slight chance that they may infect/contaminate otherwise normal lampreys lurking within some of the buried cisterns or other underground municipal waterways. The Sewer Militia will take an active interest in the matter, should anyone notify them, like say that girl standing over by the doorway who just ran off...
  2. Five hundred manic black-and-gray swirled marbles roll across any surface, including ceilings, in search of iron-based compounds. They will extract iron from anything they come into contact with (inflicting 1d4 damage per attack) until they achieve satiation (20, 30 or 100 hit points?), at which point they will blink red three times then fade away. The marbles will tend to clump together in order to more efficiently consume iron weapons or armor which they prefer to the messy effort of extracting iron from blood or living tissue.
  3. (4d4x100) Mead-Bees have a hive near here. They tend to strip all pollen, nectar and sap from the local area for use in producing honey and honey-derived products. The Mead-Bees are upset and desperately looking for someone to help them drive off a nasty Brewer's Bane.
  4. A vast flock of Passenger Pigeons descends upon the immediate area. Every hungry person for blocks around is out in force casting nets, firing off home-made nail-gonnes, and otherwise trying to make the most of the sudden bounty of edible fowl. Things quickly spin out of control and even the Street Patrol might not be able to prevent a blood-bath or riot.
  5. (4d20) Spiny Writhers are nervously clustered across the nearest wall. The urchin-like worm-things have been set into wet plaster that has since dried, trapping them here. A Black Liquor Distiller did this in order to discourage unfriendly or nosey traffic.
  6. Rats. Hundreds and hundreds of shriveled and starving rats quickly cover the floor like a dismal tide of scampering eczema-afflicted little bodies all speckled with far too many tiny glittering eyes. They make almost no sound whatsoever.  They bite no one. They are gone nearly as quickly as they appeared. They leave behind a nauseating mess reeking of ammonia and unguessable filth.
  7. (4d6) Giant Albino Penguins burst forth from a ramshackle pen where some damn fool has been giving them bits of Hard Candy. These foul, smelly birds have grown strange, deranged and cannibalistic. Now that they've broken free, they will attempt to eat anything...or anyone...who they can capture, kill or clamber upon enmasse.
  8. At first it was only one or two semi-translucent snails sliding down the window. No big deal. Then a few more snails worked their way down the wall. Then a dozen. Soon it was too many to count. That was when it became clear that the things were bone-gnawing snails, hideous creatures that squirmed painfully past the flesh of their victims in order to grind down the calcium in their bones which the snails use to form their elegant, elaborately-curled shells.
  9. (6d6x100) Silkworms have found their way into a run-down garden overgrown with mulberry trees. (4d20) of the things can be found across all the local alleys and rooftops, searching for their preferred succulent leaves. Most people are ignorant of the potential value of these caterpillars and tend to smash them flat as nuisances. Formal Sericulture is something of a forgotten art in Wermspittle...currently...but once there were several well-established Magnaneries located along the West Wall. Maybe those could be reclaimed and put back into production, once whatever wild beasts or worse that have taken-up residence in them has been driven out. Of course once people discover that the pupae are edible, that might interfere with attempts to develop sericulture, though it could then lead into a gourmet pupae-raising opportunity instead...
  10. A billowing cloud of skin-eating moths. They inflict 1d4 damage per minute of exposure. Each victim must make a Save every time they sustain another 4 points of damage, failure means that the moths have laid 1d20 eggs in the wound. Anyone taking in excess of 12 points of damage from the moths must roll an additional Save at -2 or suffer a loss of 1 CHAR. This loss will become permanent if not properly treated by a Surgeon (using the Removal spell), Midwife (using a drawing salve and a restorative spell or two) or other healer. The eggs will hatch into maggots within 1d4 days. Their constant gnawing will cause 1d4 damage per hour until they are removed or the host dies.
  11. (4d6) Flytaur maggots (1HD each) are crawling over, around and within the messy carcass of a Bruthem that was recently rustled, killed in an alley, skinned poorly and left to rot. The rest of the maggots (6d6) have scattered through the area looking for more suitable fresh meat.
  12. Papermonger Wasps have begun to build a carefully hidden and heavily reinforced hanging fortress of gray-paper behind the crumbling facade of a burned-out building. They send out patrols of 2d6 paper-armored  soldiers for every 3d4 less well-armored hunters who are under orders to collect beetle larvae, caterpillars, maggots and the like. They will trade for nectar when it is available. They secrete a clear liquid that repels ants and some Landlords hire them to spray this substance around their properties to ward off ants, termites and related insects. Inside the hive are 1d4 Scribe-wasps who specialize in bookbinding and scroll manufacture utilizing the gray-paper their people produce.
  13. (4d6x200) Mottled Yellow Ants are marching through the area. They are following the pheromone trail of their scouts who have located a Weak Point that leads to a fragrant rain forest where their Queen believes they can finally begin the next stage of her alchemically-augmented scheme to develop a malleable sub-species of hybridized ant-human centaurs that can then be trained to serve Her insane ambitions of conquest. Any humans these ants encounter will be evaluated as potential breeding stock. They will prefer to buy suitable slaves when possible, but are not averse to kidnapping particularly promising specimens if so ordered by their mad Queen.
  14. The ceiling is covered with dozens of lime-green slugs. The mucus they leave behind them dries into a flaky, light-green film that is incredibly flammable. They spit an exceptionally volatile form of Mercury Fulminate as their general response to anything that gets in their way. A small band of orphans has been capturing and corralling these slugs in this place so that they can farm the green-film for making fuses and torches. When one room in an Abandoned Property is suitably saturated in the green mucus, the orphans then bring in a few salvaged bed-warming pans that they stuff full of damp moss in order to produce a great deal of smoke. The smoke pacifies the slugs. The kids then transfer the slugs to another room. Then they go back and scrape the rapidly-drying green film off of the walls. They either wind it around bits of string or just roll it into plump cylinders by hand. They store their cache in a near-by attic. The orphans have learned to feed the slugs rotting cabbages soaked in a diluted solution of Spectral Brine as well as crumbled cakes of cinnabar that they loot as needed from one of the old warehouses up along the White Zone of the Aerial Concourse where the old airships used to load and unload freight. So far only three of them have lost a finger or some toes to the slug's spittle. They're a bit stumped as to how they might gather the slug-spit in order to sell it. The longer these kids keep herding the green slugs into their hide-out, the more of the things sneak away to take up residence in the surrounding properties. They can be a real nuisance.
  15. (4d100) leg-less mauve scorpions  (they still have front pincers) were once confined to a tin-lined trough intended for torturing and/or executing blasphemers by the friendly cultists who've been rebuilding one of the local Abandoned Properties into some sort of chapel. Somehow the creatures have gotten loose. The cultists would prefer that no one know about this particular aspect of their practice. They will vehemently deny any knowledge or connection to the poisonous insects. They will also be tempted to try to silence any non-believers who they think they can successfully bribe, intimidate, or assassinate.
  16. There is a sizable hive of fingerling wasps near-by. They are perpetually angry, their venom is slightly hallucinogenic (Save or suffer Confusion for 1d4 minutes, cumulative) and does 2d4 damage per sting. They attack all spell-casters for double-damage. The rage that fills these insects is deeply imprinted upon them. Do these things guard some special location? Were they part of some student's applied biology experiments? Why are they so angry and what can be done to placate their furious Queen?
  17. (4d6x100) White Striped caterpillars cover nearly every surface. They seem torpid. More than half of them are already forming cocoons. The milky fluid these things produce can be used as a peculiar, buttery substance when churned with a small quantity of White Powder, or it can be fermented. One of the local tavern-owners is known to pay a fair price for usable quantities of this stuff.
  18. Hundreds of Beautiful Blue Beetles, each one asking the same question over and over again, yet no two of them ever ask the same question. All in the same, monotonous, inhuman voice. This appears to be some sort of idiot-mimicry and not any sort of actual intelligence. Their flesh is edible and the Refugees down along the Low Streets are reputed to steam them or serve them 'popped' by throwing them into extremely hot oil. These beetles are mostly harmless, so even small children will scramble after them to gather up as many as they can whenever they are encountered. The shells give off a sweet-smelling juice that temporarily dyes everything it comes into contact with a vivid shade of blue. Some artists use the shells in formulating paints, some calligraphers prefer inks derived from these beetles, especially for inscribing certain types of spells.
  19. (4d6) tadpole-stage Molgs (2HD, half-power attacks) slither across the walls hunting stray wisps of ectoplasm left behind by a Fantodic that has since been captured and removed by a cabal of Fantomists, one of whom is keeping an eye on the Molgs. She's raising them with an intent to train them as guard-beasts and will take exception to anyone harassing or harming her creatures.
  20. Three inches of fresh blood covering the floor hides the (3d6) Gore Worms wriggling about just below the surface.
  21. (1d4x1000) Tiny orange frogs.
  22. One hundred forty three bowling balls that were painstakingly, lovingly hauled one by one to a carefully-chosen hiding spot over the course of three decades by a slightly demented one-armed Drilg have been set rolling down the nearest set of stairs by a rival. Spazrit's gloating over his mischief didn't last long as the bowling balls broke loose from their make-shift rack which collapsed under all the stress and strain, crushing him under a torrent of bowling balls. The Drilg has left the building in disgust. He's going to go back and rejoin the Sewer Militia.
  23. (4d6x10) Aerial Ferns float past. They are instinctively seeking out suitable spots to deposit seeds as they go along. Typically these things prefer to follow rivers and creeks in order to find marshy regions. No one is quite sure how they got up here in Wermspittle.
  24. Gnats. Countless little flying, buzzing, biting little insects erupt forth from some basement-bog or sump-swamp. They are so dense there is a danger of suffocation from inhaling too many of them at one time (Save or choke, make second Save if first one is failed to avoid passing out). The swarm will dissipate in 1d6 minutes.
  25. (4d4x20) Esoteric Leeches slither along the shadowy recesses, nooks and crannies hunting after their chosen prey: unwary spell-casters and psychics. Individually, these horrid little lavender-gray parasites aren't much of a threat, but in a large group, they can strip several levels of spells from the very brain of a sorcerer or drain the reserves of power from a psychic so as to seriously impair their ability to sue their abilities for a considerable amount of time, in some cases inflicting permanent reductions in the capacity to memorize spells, use spells of a certain level, or even the lingering loss of INT, WIS or CHAR. Junicullo Vesubidar is generally regarded as the miscreant who gave these things the ability to operate outside of the murky waters of the Low-Land Marshes. Many spell-casters burn a small effigy of Junicullo every February and give thanks that he died a miserable, painful death for his incredible stupidity. [If this result falls in February, it consists of a procession of spell-casters carrying their effigies of Junicullo to one of the local plazas or squares in order to burn them and castigate, berate and curse his name.]
  26. One of the upper floors of a near-by Abandoned Property has just collapsed due to the unceasing efforts of termites. Roll on a random Encounter Table to see what might have been dislodged, driven out or trapped by the collapse.
  27. (4d10) Candle-crafter pseudohumans (think halfling-bees) are prowling the area looking for a potential new hive-site. Several of them are wounded and dying due to the incessant attacks of wild dogs, street wolves, and feral children. They are only lightly armed (mostly with mis-matched tools and a few rickety bows or slings).
  28. Zealot Termites have begun erecting a huge cathedral mound behind the vine-hung outer-walls of a ruined manor. They have established a kill-zone surrounding the outer-walls and squads of (4d4) Warriors ruthlessly eviscerate anyone who crosses the pheromone-soaked boundary that they've staked out. Unfortunately for the Zealot-mites, conditions in Wermspittle are less than conducive to their efforts. They have a tough time surviving the harsh Winters. But all that might change now that an enterprising ex-Sewer Militia sergeant has taken it upon herself to negotiate with the Zealots in regards to the location of a unregistered portal that can be used to access a location far more amenable to the Zealot's metabolisms. What the sergeant isn't telling them is that there are three other insect species who have already paid her considerable sums for 'exclusive access' to this portal.
  29. (6d6) Giant Carnivorous Millipedes have been driven up into the city from below by a rogue band of Morlocks hoping to use the creatures to terrorize the rich, upper class estates. Too bad they were working from an outdated and incorrect map and brought their war-beasts out in the middle of the Burned Over District. Dozens of Refugees, Unfortunates, and others have been overjoyed to carve-up the Millipedes into stakes, roasts and chops...
  30. Scores of distorted, discolored mosquito larvae float about listlessly in the stagnant waters of a rusty water-tank atop a deserted building that is about to collapse. Once the metal tank is overturned and the greasy, stinking water sloshes out into the wreckage, the larvae will be freed from the torpor forced upon them by a ward inscribed upon the tank by a Forager three decades ago. If it is Winter, the larvae will either freeze or get hacked into stew-meat. Any other time of the year and they have a better than even chance of becoming large and obnoxious flying pests.


  1. Giant-albino penguins? Classic!

    1. Tekeli Li! Yep. We also have a few sub-types of these bad, bad birds running around. Maybe we'll stat them up for the Monstrous Monday/Mutated Monday thing...

  2. Wow. It just kept going. A table like this shows just how deep you've thought into the world, and how much there is or can be in it. A lot of the entries can be easily adapted too, even on the fly. Those beetle questions are especially interesting as a jumping off point.

    1. We've been doing a bunch of D30 tables, but we're considering cutting them back to D20 or D10 instead. Three D10 tables posted one after another every couple of hours or even daily for a few days running might be worth trying out some more. We'll have some PDFs compiling some of the sets of tables so that they are easier to use at the table, etc.

    2. I like the size for that sense of the bigger picture, but smaller could be especially useful if you're thinking of sub-theming. For pdfs they're ideal, and they could even generate spin-off marginalia as you convert them across. The only issue could be the linked tables and creatures, although if those went into a core Wermspittle book for reference, there wouldn't be a problem. Maybe very minimal, stripped-down versions of any linked tables or creature profiles could be included in a given pdf.


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