March 24, 2012

Bug Hunters

This is mostly setting details to go with my house rules for fighting giant monsters in Can You Catch Him with a Fishhook.

Chitin is one of the most important resources on the plains, second only to wood for the people of Ig. It is used tool-making and for building projects. The catch, of course, is that the highest quality material comes from the carapaces of the largest and most dangerous of the giant insects. A giant blatter, centipede, or cave locust in the hands of a skilled artisan can make a passable suit of armor or weapon, it might even be fashioned into a rough lean-to for the truly desperate. However, for a building of any strength or stability only the biggest of game will do. The finest homes use beetle legs as support beams, with roofs paneled in polished wing casings. A suitably sized carcass can keep a team of hunters well stocked in mead and meat for much of a year. Like the whale hunters of our own world, they risk life and limb in pursuit of quarry orders of magnitude larger than themselves.

The largest and most prized of the giant insects are also the rarest, so each town on the plains erects high watchtowers. Most take the form of huge bamboo spindles that rise a hundred feet into the air. These are always manned, day or night, by local boys paid a few copper coins to keep an eye out for any approaching monsters. Whenever one is spotted they alert the hunters who sally forth with full gear to slay the beast. If the hunt is successful they return as heroes, if they fail they might not return at all. It is a foolhardy group who flee from their quarry back to town for the giant insect is almost certain to follow them, putting the entire community in danger.

Once dispatched the hunters prepare the carcass. Nearly every part of the insect is used, including the viscera. Organs and muscles are boiled down in huge pots yielding substances edible, useful, and dangerous.  An experienced wormhandler, hedge wizard, or gonzo hallucinaut can boil down weird substances from a fresh carcass that hold a number of properties. The carapace is either boiled or dried. Drying delivers a better product, but takes weeks to complete on huge racks. Hunters in the wild too far to drag a carcass back to town boil it. Carapace boiled in the wilderness is less versatile as the pieces must be cut down to fit into pots small enough to carry and heat.

Weird Things Condensed from the Carcasses of Giant Insects
1. Deadly contact poison, Fort DC 20 or take 1d12+5 damage
2. Powerful ingested poison, Fort DC 20 Fort or die
3. Hallucinogenic, +2 to spellcasting (or one extra spell slot at max level) -2 to hit
4. Healing unguent, acts as a potion of healing
5. Blinding poison, Fort DC 15 or blinded for 1d6 hours
6. Paralytic, Fort DC 15 or paralyzed for 1d6 hours
7. Mind-expanding draught, acts as potion of ESP
8. Beetle grease, acts as oil of slipperiness
9. Grasshopper juice, acts a potion of speed
10. A foul black paste that doesn’t do anything but make one wretch
A carcass contains 1d6 possible compounds of (HD)d4 doses each.

Time to boil a carcass = 6 hours per HD

Value of a carcass = HD x Size (5 for human-sized, 10 for horse-sized, 15 for house-sized, 20 for village-sized) x 10 in gp

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