Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Encounter: Dire Bombardier Beetle

Nature is cool, and sometimes scary, and that is great. Sometimes, a monster writes itself. Read the wikipedia article on the bombardier beetle for example. I mean, a lot of people already don't like bugs as is, but this guy can shoot a nauseating chemical at over boiling temperatures! It doesn't just make one sick; it burns! Beetles have a really cool biology all by themselves, but you put that on top of it, and now you have something crazy awesome. Today's theme is Nausea, with retching as a side effect! Let's see what we can do with this guy.


So I want to make this a different type of encounter. I think I want to take into account the hard shell by giving it large DR all over, but I want it to have weaknesses too. I want its weak points to be its head and the duct where the burning smell goo comes out. We will use the hexapod hit location table for this guy if you want to use random hit locations according to the basic set. Added stipulation: Vitals can only be targeted when close to the head or the very rear of the beetle; torso has split DR with a small amount in the front, but a large amount in the back. Limbs have no DR. let's put that much together first. when I say "a lot" "a little" and "none", I mean 10; 2; and 0, respectively

Attack Skill0Active Defense0
Affliction0Damage Resistance2
Fatigue Points0Hit Points0
Total Offensive Rating (OR)0Total Protective Rating (PR)2

Surprisingly, the "high DR" is spread so thin by the weak points, it hardly counts as a deterrent. I want him to have a strong melee attack from the face, thinking a 2d cutting. His affliction attack is nausea, and is worth 6 CER. I want to pair that with a 2d burning attack I think, which is worth 7 CER. Because the burning attack component is worth more, we take its damage CER and 1/5 (rounded up) of the affliction CER for the total value.

Attack Skill0Active Defense0
Affliction9Damage Resistance2
Fatigue Points0Hit Points0
Total Offensive Rating (OR)20Total Protective Rating (PR)2
Well, that went up really fast. We need this beetle to be at least moderately competent at fighting. Considering typical bonus of 5 for projectile attacks for aiming... we can fit in 3 more skill, or just let the pincers be more accurate than the spray.
Attack Skill5Active Defense0
Affliction9Damage Resistance2
Fatigue Points0Hit Points0
Total Offensive Rating (OR)25Total Protective Rating (PR)2
We have a very good CER now. Let's put this together:

ST: 19HP: 10Speed: 5
DX: 10Will: 10Move: 6
IQ: 4Per: 10
HT: 10FP: 10SM: +1
Dodge: 8Parry: N/ADR: 10*
*10 on back, 2 on front and head, 0 on vitals which can only be attacked from the head or the very posterior
Bite (14): Reach C-1, 2d cutting. Only effective from the head.
Burning Spray (10): Acc 3, Range 10/100, 2d burn damage. If the attack hit, regardless of whether it made it through DR, the smell can inflict nausea. Roll against HT, and suffer nausea for Margin of Failure minutes * 10. Smell can be avoided with protected breathing, but the smell has good staying power and requires vigorous washing to remove. It will take at least an hour of intensive cleaning; until then, the target has the Bad-Smell disadvantage. This attack can only be aimed backwards and side to side, but the peripheral vision means it can aim to the sides with zero penalty.
Traits: Wild Animal, Hexapod [Quadruped from basic set, p. 263 with two extra legs], Peripheral Vision, Flexible
Skills: Brawling-14, Innate Attack (Spray)-10


What can be said that isn't already said on the wikipedia article? Dire bombardier beetles would probably belong to an ecosystem with very large predators. The natural variety is nocturnal, and uses its spray mostly as a defense mechanism. In a location with scary bombardier beetles, this means what you should really be afraid of are what could possibly want to eat such a large thing! Giant bird of prey? Dragons? The foul smelling chemical could be used as a component in perfumes and might be valued from $100 to $500 if collected with a successful surgery or hazardous materials roll. Chitin from the shell might be valuable to a smith and can probably be even more easily extracted by a naturalist, survival, or surgery roll. One shell then is probably worth one half of the value of the "beetle musk".

Other Notes and Closing

Knowing where the weak spots are probably requires a naturalist roll or might become apparent after blows glance off the shell repeatedly. It might also be a good hint to give in a village if adventurers are heading towards a location with Dire Bombardier Beetles
Easily, the first thing to do for a stronger monster is to add more Hit Points and a better innate attack. Nausea can lead to retching by itself, but a stronger version might be able to immediately inflict retching. A different variety might have a stabbing impaling proboscis instead. Flying varieties and a version with wrestling could also be incredibly powerful due to the large number of limbs.
Strategies for defeating this beetle are obviously to
  1. Risk the pincers and attack the face 
  2. Risk the spray and attack the glands and vitals, or 
  3. Bum-rush it and flip it on its back to get to its weak belly
It can also be beaten with impaling abilities as it has no especial injury tolerance. Beetles are easily tricked with pheromones, so perhaps musk can also be used to bait a dire bombardier beetle into a trap.

Precis - A big beetle that projects burning pain and stink.

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