I was looking to spice up one of my campaign settings called Lentilsville. It's an extension of the Hamfest Campaign. I'm starting to fill in some of the Under-Story (my term for the part of the story that isn't history (what I call Back-Story), but current events), and I was thinking about BugBears. You know the old D&D kind. OD&D describes them as "great hairy goblin-giants". But I was thinking about them in terms of the Bug aspect and decided to run with that. What resulted are the Elthosian BugBears.
Now before I describe any, I should mention that the way I intend to introduce these critters to player characters is tentatively. They'll see signs of them for some time before they ever see one. These are very sneaky monsters that are a fusion of bears and bugs. A polymorphic nightmare that deserves a slow build up, and then a shocking mystery to surround them. It should be noted that after the initial contact the surprise factor will immediately diminish so it's important that the first encounter get all the creepy skin-crawling attention it deserves. And now without further ado... I introduce...
The BugBears of Elthos.
In brief the BugBears were created by a malevalent Elkron (deities of Elthos), Gorund, the Elkron of War. When the World was young, Gorund spawned the greater army in a vast underground complex of caverns, in each of which are sleeping in deep hibernation (for thousands of years) The BugBears. Gorund created the BugBears to use as armies in the End of Ages War of the Elkron, the victor of which rules over the next Celestial Cycle. There are several complexes around the world, each one an terrible army unto itself, and the entirety of which is a cohesive whole under the command of whomever shall be wicked enough to wear the Crown of the BugBears during the End of Ages War. A few BugBears will be awake at a time to guard the corridors that lead into the main cavern where the great army lies in it's hundreds of thousands of cocoons, slung to cavern ceilings by the silken threads of millions of poisonous spiders, and the dark magic of the Elkron of War. Whomever wears the Crown of the BugBears can control any BugBears that are awake, see through their eyes, and turns into a BugBear of any kind at night.
The Crown of the BugBears is an iron crown with five bloody thorns, and is hidden in a secret tomb of traps in an ancient Dolmen on a rocky hill deep within a the primordial forest in the forgotten lands, which is sacred to, and protected by a race of cruel and cunning forest savages who worship the BugBears, the Chiefain of which is a Shaman-Warlord called The Blood-Thirster.
The Chieftain can be easily recognized as the one savage who wears the nightmarish featherish Head-Dress and shimmering Cloak of the BugBear Tribe, which gives him the power to speak BugBear (and know it's terrible bidding), as well as give him the power to spit poison, fly, and have increadible strength in battle. The Tribe of the BugBears have strange rituals, evil human sacrifices, and black magic. They are very secretive, xenophobic, and sneaking, preferring to attack with poison darts while hidden in the trees. If they capture captives they will be sacrificed to the BugBear King in lue of the children of the Chiefs of the Tribe who are normally given once per year when there are no captives.
All BugBears can attack as their insect part would suggest, or as bears. When attacking as bears they use two big claws, a rending bite, devastating pounding with their paws, or a crushing bear hug.
BumbleBeeBears – Clumsy flyers and oafishly adorable these strange creatures create their own honey by gathering honey from the huge flowers of giant Rhododendron trees which causes narcolepsy, and can induce comas in human races. Because all BugBear types like honey, especially BumbleBeeBear Honey (it helps them to hibernate for long stretches of time), none of the other BugBear types will attack BumbleBeeBears. BumbleBeeBears also have a deadly sting, but can only use it once and then they die. They are also enormously strong for their size.
MosquitoBears – Flying bears with two foot long proboscis, mosquito eyes and wings. The MosquitoBear’s buzzing wings in combination with a strange red and green pulsing glow in it’s eyes, inducing a hypnotic effect that allows them to control the minds of it's victims, or can induce paralysis or narcolepsy allowing the MosquitoBear to consume the victim’s blood while their victimes are incapacitated. If the MosquitoBear comes upon sleeping victims the buzzing of the wings induces deeper sleep. Depending on their health, in some cases the victim may survive the blood drain, however in such cases there is a 10% chance that they may contract a communicable disease which turns the victims into Were-bears (new moon), or a 40% chance that the disease causes blindness, horror, and if untended an eventual lingering death.
BombadierBeetleBears – Covered with an enormous orange striped black shell, long sensitive antenna, and eye stalks, the BombadierBeetleBear is slow moving, but very difficult to hit with normal weapons. When disturbed, the BombadierBeetleBear ejects acidic chemical ‘bombs’ in a rapid burst of pulses from special glands in its abdomen. The ejection is accompanied with a loud popping sound. The damage caused can be fatal to attacking creatures and causes painful toxic boils on humanoid skin.
PrayingMantisBears – The PrayingMantisBear is a deadly threat. These are ambush predators, using a hypnotic (crypsis) camouflage ability, waiting for prey to stray too near, and then lashing out at remarkable speed with powerful claws. Some may pursue their prey rather quickly. Victims are caught and held securely with grasping, spiked forelegs, and then devoured, usually head first. The articulation of the head is also remarkably flexible, permitting nearly 300 degrees of movement, allowing for a great range of vision (their compound eyes have a large binocular field of vision) without having to move the remainder of the body. As their hunting relies heavily on vision, they are primarily daytime hunters, but some will fly and hunt by moonlight. PrayingMantisBears also have the ability to heal themselves of mystical and physical wounds, and heal their allies.
WaspBears – Relatively small, fast flying WaspBears have a nasty, toxic sting that causes toxic shock, paralysis and death. They tend to be solitary hunters, or hunt in small groups of three or four. They can sting up to four times, and then must return to their hive to recuperate.
ButterflyBears – Beautiful flying ButterflyBears have huge gorgeous wings, and feed on the pollen of giant flowers. They start life, however, as CaterpillarBears, which can move rapidly over all terrains and can be deadly, feeding on everything in their path, and stripping entire regions bare of all vegetation. At maturity they then wrap themselves in chrysalis in a cave and spend a decade or so in cocoon state before emerging as ButterflyBears. BugBears by Gorund, and for which he can find little actual use. The ButterflyBear was an unexpected outcome of the creation of the BugBears by Gorund, and for which he can find little actual use. It may be that some other Elkron might have found a use for them, but only time would tell.
MothBears – The strange creatures use Camouflage to conceal themselves on the dies of hills, or giant trees, are attracted to fire or bright light sources, and hunt for large game, often smothering their victims under a thick cloud of dust which can throw off from the bottoms of their wings. The dust causes choking and then paralysis. The MothBear will then nibble away at its victim, sucking out it’s internal organs with a proboscis tube.
Centibears – Fast moving over all terrains, these creatures are ferocious hunters, with a hundred legs, and poisonous bite. They tend to be relentless, and have no fear of death. They have a set of chitin plates along the spine, and can curl themselves into an armored ball and roll downhill.
ScorpionBears – Slow moving but heavily armored with two massive claws and a giant poisonous scorpion stinger.
TrapDoorSpiderBears – These are truly terrifying looking combinations of Trap-Door Spider and Bear, hiding under a natural looking covering, from which they can suddenly spring forward, grab their prey, and lurch back into their hiding place (usually a cave).
TarantulaBears – Monstrous sized black bears with tarantula legs, eyes and poisonous fangs. They are night hunters, move silently, and can spring upon prey suddenly, most often from shadows, or dropping from above.
BlackWidowBear – Relative small black bears with black widow spider legs, eyes, and deadly poisonous fangs. They spin webs in which they catch passing pray. Once captured the BlackWidowBear will come down into the web and bite its trapped pray, poisoning them with a toxin that dissolves their internal organs, allowing the SpiderBear to suck the carcass dry over several days.
PortiaSpiderBear – A type of Jumping Spider the PortiaSpiderBear can leap far distances. It is a clever hunter, able to ambush, trap in webs, stalk or lure their pray. They are able to discern the defensive capabilities of their prey with unusual accuracy and are fast learners. They may try several types of attacks. Against clearly superior foes, however, they will attempt to evade and escape. The most common lure that they use is to dangle treasure, or throw a voice that sounds like a wounded creature of the type of the prey into the trap area, causing the prey to enter and then be ambushed.
BlackCarpenterAntBears – The heavily armored black bears have black ant antenna, mandibles, legs and eyes, and are endowed with colossal strength. They are builders who create complex colonies that are heavily booby-trapped. They work and hunt in unison and obey a single Queen. They will capture any useful prey and enslave them, or bring them back to the colony as food.
RedFireAntBears – The heavily armored red haired bears have ant antenna, mandibles, legs and eyes, and are endowed with enormous strength. They are slightly smaller and have less strength than the BlackAntBears, but they make up for it in two ways. One they are far fiercer, and two they are able to ignite fires when three or more lock together and vibrate their mandibles. They also have an acid sting that can burn through flesh and bone, and dissolve iron and steel. They are builders who create complex colonies that are heavily, and cleverly booby-trapped. They work and hunt in unison and obey a single Queen. They will capture any useful prey and enslave them, or bring them back to the colony as food.
I'm planning to play these monsters in my Lentilsville Campaign. I don't expect anyone to find their way into the Hive Caverns necessarily, and if they do, I haven't much hope for them if they do not turn around and run away as stealthfully as they can. However, as a background item, and the few chance encounters that might occur in the area as the creatures hunt the primordial forest for big game, crocodiles, and the occasional hapless human, I think these are wonderfully frightful monsters. Perfect for scaring the children into keeping away from the primeval forests surrounding the lonesome pioneer village of Lentilsville on cold winter nights when the fires are running low and the wind can be heard howling over the snow shrouded hills in the moonlight.