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Formian

Source Bestiary 4 pg. 108
Giant, antlike interplanetary expansionists with an alien hive intelligence, formians are not evil, but they are aggressive in the propagation of their kind into new territories. The formian homeworld is a lush green jungle planet teeming with life both above and below ground level. Formian hives create vast tunnel systems, turning the subsurface of the planet into a honeycomblike structure. After colonizing every habitable piece of land on their home world, formians looked to the stars for additional lands to infest.

This instinct to expand and propagate often causes conf lict with their neighbors. Though the formians believe it is their right to annex into new areas, they have no patience for those who move into theirs. Formians claim and fiercely defend verdant areas of land around their hive because much of the hive’s nutritional needs are supplied by surface agriculture and hunting. In spite of this, intruders often don’t even notice they have entered formian territory. The ground above a formian hive appears unoccupied—formians conceal entrances to their hives and prefer harvesting fruits and berries in a way that leaves the land largely untouched. Meat that lands on formian tables typically comes from expeditions to drive off or hunt predators. Formians of the warrior caste organize these campaigns and these warriors have little patience for poachers.

Formian society is a strict matriarchy. Though each hive’s queen is theoretically independent and her rule absolute, allegiances are common between hives, and less powerful hives often grudgingly defer to more powerful matriarchs. Hundreds of worker and warrior formians serve even the smallest of hives. Larger hives number in the tens of thousands, and have complex tunnel systems with interwoven corridors connecting territories that might span over hundreds of square miles on the surface alone.

Each formian hive is designed primarily to protect the queen. Approaching the center of the hive can be exceedingly diff icult. Paths are designed deliberately to lead encroachers away from the queen’s hidden lair. In addition to deceptive corridors, formians often build traps and place complex magical protections, decoys, and illusions to protect the queen’s inner sanctuary.

Evolved to procreate on a massive scale, a formian queen is barely able to move under her own power. On the rare occasions she leaves her throne, a small army of workers assist and defend her, but formian queens are by no means defenseless. They are massive and powerful beings, and have the ability to possess any worker or warrior in the hive. A queen uses these thralls as her eyes and ears, and can cast spells through them. Creatures that invade a hive might find themselves the equals of the queen’s myrmarchs and taskmasters only to be laid low when a mere worker unleashes the queen’s tremendous magical power, employing the full force of her cunning and wrath.

Larger than typical warriors, formian myrmarchs are the chief guardians of the hive. They serve as trusted advisors to the queen and as generals of her armies. Warriors are the formians outsiders most frequently encounter. The warriors of the hive follow the orders of the myrmarch, and defend the hive from all encroachers. They also serve as hunters within formian lands and protect workers that venture beyond the hive.

Taskmasters serve the queen as overseers of projects that require greater intelligence and more liberated thinking than workers possess. Each taskmaster oversees workers bred with specif ic skills, directing tasks like expanding tunnels, repairing damage to the hive, or undermining the lands of dangerous creatures.

Workers are by far the most common formians, and perform a vast number of basic tasks, but they avoid interacting with those outside their hive.

Interplanetary Expansionists

After thoroughly occupying their home world, formians came up with a creative solution for alleviating population pressures. The most powerful queens coordinate their efforts to build dozens of massive asteroids, each loaded with a queen plus several myrmarchs and taskmasters, along with hundreds of eggs. The occupants are then placed in stasis, unable to wake until the asteroid crashes on a new world. The asteroids are then ensconced in layer after layer of magical protections and flung at nearby planets, serving as interplanetary seedpods for the species.

After years, decades, or even centuries in transit, an asteroid ship reaches its destination—or misses its mark entirely and continues off into the depths of space, the occupants safe though trapped in the asteroid until they reach a habitable planet. Most of these seedpods crash on their intended planets, though even then some of the seedpods meet with calamity. In rare instances, either the stasis or the protective magic fails, making the seedpod vulnerable to violent entry into a planet’s atmosphere. Other times the seedpod lands in an ocean or some other region of the planet inhospitable to formians, leaving them to drown, freeze, or meet some other calamity.

The safe arrival of a seedpod often creates a period of destruction and chaos for the natives of the formians’ new home. When the seedpod’s protections relax, the eggs hatch, and the formians move forward with ruthless efficiency toward creating their new hive.

Creatures in "Formian" Category

NameCR
Formian Myrmarch10
Formian Queen17
Formian Taskmaster7
Formian Warrior3
Formian Worker1/2

Formian, Formian Worker

This small, centaurlike ant creature bears a huge, bulging sack on its armored back.

Formian Worker CR 1/2

Source Bestiary 4 pg. 113
XP 200
LN Small monstrous humanoid
Init +0 (+4 with hive mind); Senses blindsense 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft., hive mind; Perception +4 (+8 with hive mind)

Defense

AC 12, touch 11, flat-footed 12 (+1 natural, +1 size)
hp 6 (1d10+1)
Fort +1, Ref +2, Will +2
Resist sonic 10

Offense

Speed 40 ft., burrow 10 ft.
Melee bite +3 (1d6+1)

Statistics

Str 13, Dex 10, Con 13, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 9
Base Atk +1; CMB +1; CMD 11 (15 vs. trip)
Feats Skill Focus (Profession [miner])
Skills Climb +5, Knowledge (engineering) +4, Perception +4 (+8 with hive mind), Profession (miner) +7
Languages Common, telepathy 60 ft.
SQ able assistant, formian traits, peerless bearer

Ecology

Environment warm or temperate land or underground
Organization solitary, work crew (6–12 plus 1 taskmaster), band (3–15 plus 5–8 warriors and 1 taskmaster)
Treasure incidental (occasionally a 10–50 gp gem embedded into a worker’s carapace)

Special Abilities

Able Assistant (Ex) When a formian worker succeeds at an aid another check or attack roll that aids another hive mate within its telepathy range, it grants a +4 bonus on the skill check, on the attack roll, or to AC instead of the normal +2.

Peerless Bearer (Ex) Workers are able to bear remarkable burdens for their size. They have a +5 racial bonus to Strength when calculating the effects of encumbrance.

Description

These lowest-caste formians stand a little taller than a large dog, and their small mandibles are better equipped for slicing leaves and cutting fruit from the vine than carving into flesh. Regardless, many humanoids find the sight of these centaurlike ant creatures intimidating. Their iridescent chitin is nearly featureless, marked only by small scarring as they age and a series of markings on their chest. A few more accomplished formian workers bear small gems proudly glued to their carapace, tokens granted them by taskmasters for particularly impressive accomplishments.

Formian workers are the backbone of the hive. They produce and harvest all food, perform all mining and tunneling, aid the taskmasters in the crafting of goods, and perform all other menial labor. Formian workers grow fast and learn quickly within the hive mind. Shortly after it leaves its larval stage, a formian is assigned to a senior worker who teaches it a trade, and by the end of the second year, a formian worker is a productive member of the hive. Workers live 20–30 years, and older workers are assigned lighter or more skilled work in order to give them capacity to train the young formian workers.

Workers are hatched in large batches and given a clutch name, usually based on a well-regarded formian of the previous generation. Only when they leave their larval stage are workers given a unique number carved into their carapaces, which is used in place of an individual name. Workers parrot the taskmasters in many things; they denote accomplishments on their carapaces and even have duels (though duels among workers almost never involve death). Rarely, a particularly remarkable worker will be called out for special attention by their taskmaster, and these workers are presented to the queen and given a proper name of their own.

Workers flee from combat unless they are ordered by a taskmaster or myrmarch to attack intruders. If a hive is invaded, formian workers might be used as diversions or to undermine or collapse tunnels on invading enemies. If forced into a direct fight, they usually spend most of their efforts assisting a warrior or myrmarch, though they make good use of mining picks or alchemist’s fire if they are cornered.