Termite, Jewel
Termite, Jewel

Termite, Jewel

Jewel Termite

CLIMATE/TERRAIN:Infinite Staircase
INTELLIGENCE:Genius (17-18)
ALIGNMENT:Chaotic Good (Chaotic Neutral)
HIT DICE:See below
SIZE:Individual: T (1″); Swarm: See below
MORALE:Fearless (20)
XP VALUE:See below
AD&D 2e statistics

“I land above the stairway, my wings gently setting me to the ground. The stairs show the tell tale signs of the Jewel Termite, surely one of the strangest creatures that Selune had blessed our realm with. The wood of the steps is rotted, criss-crossed tunnels created by the termites weakening its structure. Yet, each tunnel weakening the Stairs is also a pattern, a beautiful etching that covers the inside and outside of the steps. While the termite destroys, it also creates patterns, and thus its creativity strengthens our realm. But the queen of this colony is too new; I feel her mind beating within the tunnels of the Stair, her instincts urging her only to eat and make more. I touch her mind gently, showing her how she must only eat this much and make this much; the Stair provides for all and she should enjoy making her patterns in the wood, but only to strengthen it, not destroy.”

Avidna, a Lillend

Jewel termites are much like normal termites—a colony of insects ruled by an egg laying queen—but what is unique about these is their creative ability to make tunnels and etchings in beautiful patterns pleasing to others’ eyes. This stems from the queen’s own intelligence as she rules over her colony, the strange patterns coming from her mind and being relayed to every drone in the colony. Though the termites weaken the Stair by tunnelling and eating it, if balanced properly with their creative patterns, they can actually make a section of the Stair stronger than those without them.

The drones of the colony appear much as normal insects of their kind, except that their abdomen has a beautiful jewel embedded in its top, which is always a unique colour for every termite. These jewels that are the source of their name give the termites crawling outside the Stair the appearance of a colour-shifting cloak, the patterns etched on the Staircase dancing with colour. The queen looks much the same except she is larger, her abdomen appears as many multi coloured jewels, and she has two pairs of useless silk wings.

COMBAT: The jewel termite colony only attacks when an opponent is on their chosen section of the Stair, and will never follow an attacker off of it. However, while normally a colony will only attack if their territory is actually threatened and leave travellers alone, a new colony with a young queen who has not yet been spoken to by an lillend (and is thus Chaotic Neutral) will attack any traveller coming on the stairs. These young colonies are truly dangerous, as though they have not yet grown to full size (about 10,000 termites) they are still formidable enough to attack in a swarm and overcome multiple attackers.

The termites attack as a swarm, coming out of the steps which the attacker is standing on and swarming up his feet. The colony will usually split up if there is more than one attacker, with up to a 1000 attacking one person. A swarm on an attacker will do 2d8 damage per turn as it eats away their flesh and armour, with the attacker’s armour worsening by 1 point each round as the swarm penetrates their protective layers. Even when attacking, the termites leave a mark, flesh and leather getting ripped away in a beautiful but grotesque pattern imprinted on flesh and armour. Those surviving a jewel termite swarm can always be identified by these patterns, and some Sensates have even undergone this process on purpose.

Killing a swarm that is clinging on to a person is almost impossible (and the termites have a collective AC of -1 because of the jewels on their backs) without injuring the victim, however making a Dexterity check at -4 will temporarily shake them off, and leaving the colony’s vicinity instantly stops the attack as they jump off and crawl back to their tunnels. Those surviving an attack in this way should get 500 XP. Actually killing a colony, and thus the queen, usually entails actually destroying part of the Stair to get to her, and thus looked down upon by the Lillend, and no XP should be rewarded. However, reporting the young colony to a lillend deserves a 1000 XP reward.

HABITAT/SOCIETY: The Jewel termites work as a colony, the drones only living to serve their queen. The queen is actually quite intelligent, and after discovering the balance of her creation and destruction, she works to create the most beautiful patterns in her Stair as possible.

ECOLOGY: The queen, and thus the colony, live about 250 years. Upon her death all the drones die, and her body decomposes with each of the jewels in her abdomen turning into a young new queen. The new queens are small, only having one jewel in their abdomen, but with two pairs of strong wings to take them anywhere on the Infinite Staircase to start a new colony. These young queens on starting a new colony are ruled by instinct, and only learn to strengthen the stair after being talked to by a lillend. The old Stair remains with all its beautiful patterns carved in.

The termites thrive off the wood of the stair, but will eat about anything else including leather and flesh.

The jewels of the termites are actually semiprecious, fetching up 8 jinx per jewel. However, it’s virtually impossible to get more then a 100 jewels from a colony without actually having to destroy the Stair itself to get at them.

Source: Jeremiah Golden, art inspired by Jeremiah Golden as well

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