New Monster: Vermin Queens

Inspired, of course, by the 4e Lamia. ACKS used for the rule set:

Vermin Queen
% in Lair: 30%
Dungeon Enc: Solitary (1)/Nest (1d3)
Wilderness Enc: Nest (1d3)
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 120’(40’)

Fly: 60’ (20’)
Armor Class: 2
Hit Dice: 6***
Attacks: 2 or 1 (2 Claws or weapon)
Damage: 1d6/1d6 or weapon
Save: M6
Morale: +2
Treasure Type: H
Exp: 1070

A Vermin Queen is a swarm of horrid, intelligent black beetles with the ability to assume the guise of a beautiful human or demihuman. They use their talent for disguise to waylay travelers in order to devour their flesh and steal their skins and their memories. When a Vermin Queen eats a living human, demihuman, or humanoid creature, another beetle is born to the swarm. When the swarm gets too big to comfortably fit into a human skin, half of it splits off and becomes a new vermin queen. The mother swarm typically deposits the daughter swarm in the body of its next victim in order to provide it with its first disguise.

A Vermin Queen can freely change between a humanoid form and swarm form once per round. The touch of a Vermin Queen in either form paralyzes, much like a ghoul. Attacking a Vermin Queen with a torch or weapon will inflict 1d4 points of damage to the swarm. Fire-based and cold-based attacks will also damage a Vermin Queen, and a sleep spell will cause the entire swarm to go dormant. While in swarm form, a Vermin Queen fights just like an insect swarm apart from its HD, morale, saves, and paralysis ability.

How does “never takes more than 1d4 damage” work? Especially with Strength or Class bonuses to damage in the mix.

I’m guessing the idea is that, while not quite immune to weapons, the swarm-composition of the creature means that any (normal-sized?) weapon attack will only do minor damage, killing a mere handful of bugs. Damage from attacks that should do more than 1d4 damage do 1d4 damage. In other words, while you can theoretically kill it with a sufficient volume of conventional attacks, you REALLY should get magic.

I do think the is an incomplete rule, however. “Weapon” attacks seem like a vague definition. Surely a siege weapon like a catapult will do more than 1d4 damage? Also, there are non-trivial edge-cases like d2+1 or d6-1 where dameage values will be comparable to d4 but not strictly greater or less than d4. I might suggest making the monster reduce weapon damage by half or just have immunity from non-magic weapons to simplify the rules and adhere to the style of other similar creature abilities.

Likewise, the creature might be especially vulnerable to fire and area effects as the component bugs should be relatively fragile so hitting a large number of them at once with moderate damage should be devastating.

You might even consider just

I got the 1d4 thing from my reading of the Swarm entry.

“Swarms do not need to roll to attack. Instead, any character within the swarm is automatically hit by the creatures, suffering damage or other effects depending on the type of swarm. Character can reduce the effects by warding off the swarm with a torch, weapon or similar object, or by fleeing the swarm. Warding off a swarm with a torch or weapon will inflict 1d4 points of damage to the swarm. Fire-based and cold-based attacks will also damage a swarm, and a sleep spell will cause the entire swarm to go dormant.”

However I’ll edit it to be more clear-- your point about fire is a good one.

The 1d4 damage from weapons is only for swarms of larger creatures. Insect swarms state they’re just flat-out immune to weapon damage, magical or not.

Ah. Well then.