Tuesday, 2 April 2013

B is for Bees!

As yet no-one has discovered any indisputably intelligent aliens in Known Space, but there are a few species that come tantalisingly close like the Ultra-Bees of Myrmidia.


Aquila Sector 375 Myrmidia D 578210 7 Low Population, Garden

Myrmidia ought to be the ideal colony world, warm climate, oxygen/nitrogen atmosphere, developed ecosystem etc. but unfortunately the local lifeforms are a bit unfriendly.

The single land mass is overrun with Ultra-Bees. Bees stand for Bee-like Endoskeletoned Exocranial Semi-sapients, they are vertebrates, mostly in the 12-25kg range, with a brain outside their skulls, a small knot of nervous tissue covered in sensory hairs. They have two small eyes on stalks, a rounded furry body with eight spindly legs and a gas sac and small wings that function very well in the low G.

The taint in the atmosphere is entirely due to their many varieties of pheromone. These have some effect on humans, making them dizzy, inducing panic and euphoria, aggressive outbursts and depressive misery or a very uncomfortable combination of all of these depending on what kinds happen to be floating by at the time. Trying to breathe the stuff without a gas mask results in a bad effect on a roll of 10+ (End and Int mods) in the first round, 9+ the second, 8+ the third etc. and each fail requires a d6 roll on the table below

1 Dizzy – lose 1d3 Dex, roll vs Dex or fall over
2 Panic – roll vs Int or lose -1 on all skill rolls. Second result gives a -2 modifier, then -3 etc. and run away
3 Euphoria – as above, but tendency to drop equipment and strip naked
4 Aggression - +1 Str and End, save vs Int or attack colleagues. Each repeat gives -2 to the save
5 Depression - -1 to all skill rolls automatically, each repeat add 1 to this, Euphoria effect above counteracts it.
6 Two of the above.

The beasts themselves have a nasty bite and though they rarely attack immediately they will summon more ultra-bees (1d6 in the first round, 2d6 in the second, 3d6 in the third etc.) until they outnumber the party at least 5 to one. Use the attack/flee rolls below until the total mass of bees outweighs the mass of the party or the vehicle they are in, then attack is automatic and flee is 2-. Attacking them first will just make them mad, doubling the number flying in and adding two to the caste table roll below.

The little bastards do seem to have worked out that humans don't like their air. Any attack has a 1 in 6 chance of being on the characters breathing equipment.

They come in a variety of castes from the typical flyer/worker bee to diggers, transporters and soldier bees. They have eliminated all other animals on the planet and changed the plant ecosystem to a variety of fruits, flowers and brassica like species grown in neat gardens. They don't eat this stuff, they take into their hive for purposes unknown. Their hive is made more like a termite mound, dug into the ground and built up into vast twisted spires made of dirt and tree-trunks bound together with concrete like tree-sap/sand amalgam. And it is vast, covering the entire surface of the one continent and tunnelled up to two miles or more under the surface.

No one has seen the Queen Ultra-Bee or Bees; 'take me to your leader' type speeches just result in a typical massive bee attack, trying to get inside their hives is suicidal, the little wretches wall off the tunnels and tunnellers dig holes under the attackers dropping them down pits hundreds of meters deep and often ending in lava pools or subterranean lakes.

Bee caste roll d8

1-4 Worker Flyer 12kg Scavenger/Reducer 39612 Teeth+1, 0AP 1d6 dam A9+ F7-
5-6 Transporter 50kg Herbivore/Intermittent BAA01 Teeth and Claws 2AP 2d6 dam A10+ F4-
7 Tuneller 200kg Herbivore/Filter DAF01 Claws 3AP 2d6 dam A10+ F5-
8-10 Soldier Flyer 50kg Carnivore/Chaser BG923 Thrasher 3AP 2d6 dam A* F5-

For each soldier in a group reduce A and F scores of the rest by one, for each five soldiers give +1 attack to a max of +3

The human colonists live on an artificial island/oil rig kind of affair way out in the deepest, most distant part of the ocean where the stink of the pheromones is weakest. Originally an EU scientific outpost it is now a communist aquafarming collective barely scraping by on kelp, oyster beds and lobster herding. The locals do not visit the mainland, it just isn't worth the hassle, and only half-heartedly searching for the artificial pheromone mix that will enable them to do so safely. In fact they are working to emulate the bees, researching powerful enough human pheromones to ensure a harmonious and cooperative society.

Adventure Hooks

  • Some people will get high on anything. Drug barons are offering good money for Ultra-Bee aggression glands.
  • A lobster herder got attacked by some strange fish-thing. He reckons it had a fuzzy external brain. Have the Ultra-Bees learned how to swim?
  • The Ultra-Bees are at war! Who the hell knows how it happened but the southern and northern halves of the continent are having at each other in billion strong assaults featuring artillery bees never before recorded by science.
  • Bees in spaace! Some silly sod has managed to trap a couple of dozen bees and has them in a freighter hold, hoping to take them to a zoo. No one has heard from him for a while and there is a suspiciously termite mound looking asteroid floating through space near the PCs ship, heading for somewhere civilised.
  • At the hive's core. A really really determined scientist, Professor Jules Vernon, has built a hopefully bee proof tunnelling machine, want to try looking for those queens?
  • Crews of visiting starships have been joining the local colony, becoming happy communards toiling for the greater good of all.
  • For shits and giggles a couple of spoilt rich kids dropped a load of marijuana seed on the bee-lands from a high altitude grav speeder. The stuff took root, the bees are actively farming it and are apparently going a bit weird. Time for friendly contact? Or to take an armoured combine harvester and get as much dope as you can before the bees sober up and kill you?