Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dungeonspiration: Ants

[Carefully I crept onto the New Post section of Blogger without scanning through the Blogroll.  My willpower is unexpectedly strong today. :) ]

I've got these beach beach recliners with pillows built into the head area.  The pillow can be flipped up, revealing a padded hole for your face.  I assume this is to so you don't have to char the side of your head if you fall asleep while tanning.

I didn't have much to do this afternoon, having declared a moratorium on reading blogs.  Its' a strange feeling.  I've been reading blogs almost every day for half a year now.  The Boy was uninterested in discussing the new idea for a Risus game, so I went outside to get some sun.  The Baby Momma nabbed me and slathered me with a experimental concoction to reduce sunburn.  We have bottles and bottles of sunblock, but apparently all of it gives you cancer now - thus the mix of grape-seed oil, baby butt cream, shea butter and aloe that I suddenly found myself wearing.

Lying on the recliner belly first, I stuck my head in the hole.  I noticed immediately that the backyard needed a good mowing.  The second thing I noticed was all the friggin ants.

We used to have a problem with fire ants in North Texas.  The sunabitches could swarm a dog or deer and take them down.  Their bites burnt like hell.  They were an invasive species that pushed out the original big red ants and big black ants that we had when I was a kid.  But another invasive group of ants came in and has driven the fire ants to who knows where.  These dudes are little and black and they don't sting like the fire ants.  Well, they sting, but it doesn't hurt near as bad.

So I'm chilling, watching these little black warriors like a god suspended in the heavens.  They like to go up one side of a blade of grass, hang out on the tippy top long enough to stroke their little antennae, and then down they go via the other side of the grass.  Over and over, from one blade to the next.  I guess they are patrolling their territory.  Occasionally they'll stumble upon another bug - a little spider, a beetle, or a ladybug, and run it off.  I know the ants follow scent trails and communicate to each other a lot by scent.  Watching then got me to thinking.

What if there were a good reason that dungeons were inhabited by monsters.  Perhaps there was a colony-based burrowing creature that took to dungeons because they liked not having to dig so much.  Maybe there were ant-like - but maybe not.  They were underground dwellers, so had no sight.  They didn't have very good hearing either - except for a sense to detect vibrations.  Their main sense was smell, and the entire colony communicated through scents - quite like ants.

So, a party of adventurers goes to loot the tomb of Rootin-Tootin-Ho-Tep and finds it infested with the critters.  The critters have evolved over the eons - or perhaps have been magically enhanced, to have very separate castes.  Some are warriors, others scouts - but some have drifted very far in physical form and act as doors - only opening with the right scent combination.  Others could have evolved into traps - slashing blade traps, crushing traps, pit traps, poky dart traps - all with a basic intelligence behind them.

Perhaps the goal of the adventurers isn't to loot a tomb - but to raid the critters colony and steal something.  Perhaps raw goods that the things collect - or something they produce - like royal jelly or some sort of secreted gem or the very collectable eyes of the queen herself.

You could have an entire world over-run by the critters - and the adventurers are the some of the last survivors of a post-insect-apocolypse.

Well, anyway, my mind can go crazy thinking about such things.  Go sit down in your back yard - or a park somewhere - and stare at some bugs for a while.  I bet they'll inspire you.

[Just a reminder - I'm not reading blogs for a bit - including my own.  If you reply to this post, I'll eventually read it and respond - but not just yet.  Feel free to talk amongst yourselves until then. ;)]

- Ark


  1. I hope that you are enjoying your bloliday. :-)

    I like your idea about using specially evolved castes as doors and traps. A while ago I put together a post about man-sized ants. Ever since then I've been toying with the idea of using a hive of giant ants as a dungeon, but it seemed a little bland. This might be just the thing to spice it up a bit.

    One of the last links in that post is about a species of fly that injects it's larvae into fire ants. I think I remember reading in one of the articles that the flies were introduced in Texas to help control the invasive fire ants there. The larvae decapitate the ants, hollow out the head and eventually hatch out of it. I think my favorite part was when the scientists talked about how the ants seemed terrified of the flies. If they played recorded sounds of the flies buzzing it would send the ants running full speed toward their mounds. I was like "Duh".

  2. For when you get around to reading your own blog once more:

    Ants are fascinating. Even in our world, there are ants that have evolved to be doors. Ants with huge blocky heads that plug the entrance of a nest (they live in the wood of trees if memory serves) and only pull back to let an ant in if they get the right signal. Other types of ants have totally adapted to be traps and all sorts of fancy weapons. So you wouldn't even have to do much research to come up with wild and wacky mutated giant ants. Fun fact. As of a couple of years ago, and still the case I believe, the fastest muscle-movement so far discovered is a particular ant's jaws shutting.

  3. I tend to think of them as zombie invaders that keep coming into my kitchen.... can't keep them out...

  4. @Quibish - I just popped over to your blog. FIRE BREATHING ANTS? Genius. My players are going to hate you forever.

    @Zombie & David - Zombie Ants! You know, they do remind me a heck of a lot of the way zombies are. Hmm. I wonder if Romero watched ants a lot as a kid.

    @CityofDoors - Door Ants? We are talking about portals here, not little Jim Morrison ants, right? :) Wow. I am going to have to go have a talk with my biologist sister. I think she is holding out on me.

    - Ark