Silkies are two-foot-tall, six-foot-long larval insects with twelve legs tucked beneath mottled leathery carapaces. Atop their heads are a pair of fluffy prehensile antennae that are often used for simple grasping and manipulation. Their faces are rounded with beak-like mouths and deep black beady eyes glimmering with life. Their undersides are soft segmented portions which undulate as they skitter with their many feet.
Most silkies have an innate ability to discharge small amounts of electricity through their antennae by rubbing them together, though it is often fairly harmless in most varieties. The Woolly species is capable of discharging a lethal dose of energy by storing a charge in their shaggy fur from simple friction. Once fully charged they are capable of discharging an arc of energy nearly ten feet long, but are often unable to do so again for several minutes while rebuilding another charge.
Ranchers and herders tend to wear protective gear made of silkie hide utilizing their natural grounding capabilities that keep the insects safe from their own electrical charge. Little more than a vest or bracers is needed for everyday interaction, but full suits of silkie hide armor are used in particularly large herds, or during shearing season to keep workers safe from harm. While relatively common to find, their hide is tough and hard to work with, making a full suit often come with a hefty price tag.
Silkies are omnivorous creatures, but tend to stick to vegetation when the option presents itself. They are often attracted to particularly sweet and fermented items, giving them preference to food-based compost, wines, and ciders. Because of this, many of these larval creatures are used to dispose of old food and household waste, as they will eat nearly anything they are presented with if it smells right. Additionally, it’s suggested to keep one’s drink of choice away from these creatures as well.
A number of breeds exist in The Cross. The most common is the woolly species, as their fur is used in most common textiles the world over. A common staple of food is the meat of the chub silkie, which has been bred to have nearly no fur and soft supple carapaces making for the most tender steaks. The plated silkie carries tough carapaces that are used for leatherworking and armor smithing apart from their innate electrical resistance. Lastly, there are the spinner silkies that produce a fine but sturdy thread used in number of fashions and crafts.
Tactics: Silkies are typically docile creatures and tend to only attack when threatened. Singularly, they tend to rely solely upon their electrical attack, and secondarily upon their bites. In a herd, they tend to try to overrun their assailants and release numerous shocks upon their trampled victims. A herd of Woolly silkies tend to be particularly dangerous in large numbers, as they will rub against each other releasing numerous repeated ranged electrical attacks against their assailants.
Bugalüs, (BUG-uh-Looz) are eight foot long, five foot tall beetles with six strong and sturdy legs striding back and forth towards their destination with force. A pair of rich rust colored segmented eyes on both sides of their head rest at the beginning of their long-tapered snouts. These snouts are tipped with several small rounded mandibles designed for eating wood and other vegetation. Adorning these snouts are a pair of large probing antennae, often poking and prodding at creatures and object that are unfamiliar to them. Their bodies are slightly hunched with a pocked leathery carapace that runs the length of their of bodies to shield their soft undersides. Bugalüs come in a wide variety of colors ranging from various shades of black, brown, and greys following a solid color scheme, with the rare mottled variety.
Being natural herbivores, Bugalüs often forage for simple vegetation to sate their hunger. Their food of choice is old dry wood, typically from old fallen trees and the like, but are known to eat treated woods such as those in a barrel or fence in times of hunger. Due to their hardy constitution, these insects are able to work quite some time on a single meal a day provided they are able to eat their fill of food and water.
After generations of domestication the modern Bugalü has become a relatively docile creature used as a means of pulling wagons, tills, and other heavy vehicles. Capable of pulling more than three times their own body weight, these beetles are a common sight on any farm, city, or village. Typically guided by a small leather loop around their snouts, Bugalüs are trained to move by reins just as easily as any stag or mantis would but are rarely used as mounts themselves.
Despite domestication, wild Bugalüs can still be found in the world. They are often times seen in mated pairs foraging together, or slightly larger families raising their young before they strike out on their own. It is rare to see these beetles move in a herd together, but in regions with high amounts of predators they will often stick together out of necessity for survival. A wild Bugalü can typically be found in old growth forests feasting on the underbrush and any fallen trees or logs that may be present in their territory.
Tactics: A Bugalü is a very docile creature and would rather run from danger than confront it. When agitated, or left with no other options, they will retaliate. Their bites do a bit of damage, but their real threat lies in stomping on their prey by rising up on their hind legs and crashing down with feet onto their assailants using the full weight of their bodies. Ranchers have told stories of Bugalüs pulling wagons and carts to sometimes trample their attackers, or deliberately capsize their load in an attempt to crush their opposition.
A specific type of stag beetle found only in the mountains surrounding Bisemutum. The beetle’s carapace has characteristics of jewel beetles’ chitin, while maintaining the size and strength of the mighty giraffe stag beetle. As such, their hard shells turn most colors into beautiful emerald and amethyst shades that seem to flow along the material. These behemoths stand at only three feet tall on their thin legs but have mandibles that extend over five feet long when they’re fully grown. The rest of the beetle, arguably not quite as deadly as the mandibles, then stretches another twelve feet.
These beetles have the size and strength to down a veteran Bisemutum warrior in one blow just from concussive force, but luckily are rarely aggressive. This is good, because the end of each mandible is sharper than a spear and harder than steel. The beetles like to “boop” threats with the ends of their mandibles, generally resulting in great injury to the area. However, their carapaces and meat are great boons to the Bisemutum, who treat the creatures with reverence for the materials that the beetles provide.
Hunts for a Bupreparda can be deadly, but generations of experience have given Bisemutums extremely effective strategies for downing the majestic beetles. The hide is used to make very durable armor that can deflect all but the most devastating blows, or incredibly fashionable outfits that contain the iridescence of the beetle. The meat resource feeds tribes for days, supplementing their farmed produce.
The beetle itself actually consumes wood, either finding felled trees or knocking them down as it wanders around the mountain sides. While it has no natural predators that can threaten its size or strength, it displays particular prey behavior in that it attempts to hide or flee often. Conflict seems to be its least preferred activity. Most of the Bupreparda are found to be traveling alone, and despite all the time the tribes have had living in concert with these creatures, their breeding habits and gathering locations are still shrouded in mystery.
When it does need to fight, the Bupreparda employs simple scare tactics that ward off would be assailants. It brings its head up, waving its mandibles around, and extends its wings and carapace to appear larger, easily scaring anything that hasn’t already learned to leave it alone. It’s this behavior that allows the Bisumetum to complete their hunts at all, as the opening of the shell leaves the beetle’s soft interior vulnerable to flanking attacks.
Water spiders are as their name implies, large aquatic insects. These insects are roughly five feet long and three feet tall, though with their legs they can make themselves up to seven feet tall when fully extended. They are pale in color with sharp mandibles and an array of eight eyes placed upon their stubby heads. Six long segmented legs come to a near perfect point with small articulated membrane flaps that unfold downward to form flat flippers used for swimming and resting on the water’s surface. Their bodies are slender and bristled with thick hairs that form to a taper on their end where the web weaving spinneret resides.
These particular insects are known for two things - their webs and their venom. Capable of firing their web from up to thirty feet away, a Water Spider has the ability to ensnare their victims in a sticky mass that is very difficult to escape before being dragged into a watery grave. It is often at this time that they will proceed to bite their webbed captives and inject them with their potent venom that saps their strength, preventing them from ever escaping to breathe air again.
Water Spiders are a social creature. Most exist in a communal group anywhere from five to twenty, serving brood mothers in protecting eggs, looking after their young, and most notably hunting their prey in packs. They coordinate through a series of high-tension webs that run beneath the surface of the water in a network that extends from the nest to the furthest reaches of their territory. Through a series of vibrations on these webs, an entire swarm of water spiders can communicate from miles away and react swiftly to any danger that may arise.
Being spiders, these creatures are capable of climbing sheer surfaces, but are much stronger swimmers. Their streamlined bodies and long legs make them swift beneath the water’s surface, allowing them to move nearly four times faster than the average swim speed of most kin. This aptitude with swimming hasn’t hindered their abilities to move on land, so both above and below the surface a Water Spider is a nimble opponent.
These creatures are commonly found in areas of still, deep water such as lakes and marshlands. The lack of a current leaves for more opportunities to hide beneath the silt in wait for prey to ambush, as well as providing more opportunities for their web network to succeed. A more nomadic breed of Water Spider exists in the open sea, but these larger and tougher cousins stay in smaller packs. They are known for attacking smaller sea vessels on rare occasion, but mostly prey on poor souls that happen to fall overboard.
An antidote can be crafted for Water Spider venom by extracting their venom sacs and boiling its contents with horse flower extract and honey. An Alchemy check is required to succeed in making this syrupy substance. Failure renders the venom inert but does not produce a cure.
Tactics: Water Spiders tend to hunt in groups of five to ten. They will ambush vessels by firing their web from beneath the surface of the water to pull their unsuspecting prey off the deck. From there, they will climb the side of the ship and proceed to web and poison anybody left onboard. A similar tactic is used from the shoreline, though if the water is not deep enough where they claim their victims, they will often times string their prey up in trees and poison them so that they can come back to them later once the excitement is over.
Manipedes are large insectoid creatures with segmented bodies thirty feet in length and four feet wide. Their dark armored bodies protect their short and numerous legs. Upon its head is a cluster of a dozen yellow eyes in the center of its face situated above its two large sword-like mandibles positioned to cut its prey in half. While only three feet tall on its belly, these beasts can stand an intimidating twenty feet tall to strike.
Manipedes thrive in environments that allow them to swim and snake through the terrain. Their many legs and innate ability to bend and twist like no other creature allow them a great advantage in non-solid terrain. As such, they tend to populate regions of sand like deserts and areas like marshlands where the water and mud allow them the maneuverability they desire.
Two primary breeds exist. Those indigenous to the desert are known as dry manipedes, noted for their rough, hard, brown carapace that looks akin to dried mud. On the other end of the spectrum, those native to marshlands are known as water manipedes. This breed has a dark blue carapace that is significantly softer than is desert cousin but makes up for it with the increased speed and dexterity it provides.
Being carnivorous creatures, the manipede is a solitary predator. They often burrow themselves beneath the sand or mud and lay in wait for their moment to strike, seeking out individual creatures to ambush by emerging and delivering a mortal blow swiftly with their large mandibles. While their prey are usually targets that won’t fight back, manipedes have been known to attack small towns and villages when desperate.
Attempts to domesticate manipedes as warmounts have been made in the past, but the feat has been rarely accomplished. They can be managed from a small hatchling, but their predatory instincts often overtake any upbringing they receive once they become large enough to no longer fear their masters.
Tactics: Manipedes prefer ambush wherever possible. They will lay in wait for hours to days for a vulnerable creature to approach so it can strike. When attacking, they will prioritize any target they believe they can take down with a single blow. If unable to do so, they will use the full length of their body to encircle and corner their prey so that it can kill it before it escapes. While it is rare that manipedes cooperate with each other, those that hunt together are fearsome beasts to contend with, singling out a target with coordinated attacks.
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