Antiphus admired the way the burnished surface of his chitinous armor gleamed in the sunlight and was pleased with the impression this would likely make upon his enemies in the coming battle. His iron-headed spear, keen sword, and other armaments, all of which he had just finished sharpening and oiling, would, of course, make an even more meaningful impression … It could be his day to join his ancestors in the afterlife, of course, but he neither feared nor welcomed that possibility, just accepted it while knowing he would fight with every fiber of his being to keep it from happening.
Myrmidons were created by the gods to repopulate a land where nearly everyone was killed by a terrible plague after its ruler, the only survivor, prayed that his country be made as populous as a nearby ant colony. Its inhabitants were, accordingly, transformed into people that were manlike in form but which remained antlike in many other ways. Myrmidons are generally tall, and often proportioned like Olympic athletes, but there their similarity to Humans ends. In place of skin, Myrmidons are covered with bronze-colored chitin that resembles full plate armor of an ancient style, and this is often augmented with paint, crests of feathers or horsehair, and other decorations.
Myrmidons’ warlike appearance reflects their demeanor of always being ready for battle and all such folk — even their queen — are warriors regardless of any other occupations they might have. Alhough they may act as fishers, herders, merchants, or courtiers, each is also part of its colony levy, serving stints as royal guards, in local patrols, and in the mercenary companies that generate considerable revenue for the royal coffers.
In war, a long, heavy spear wielded in two hands that has the characteristics of a lance, along with a round shield worn on the off arm, are the traditional arms of the Myrmidon, supplemented by a sword for close combat. Younger Myrmidons who have not yet reached their full growth are usually armed with javelins or slings and employed as skirmishers. Although not terribly imaginative in terms of tactics, Myrmidons are steady under pressure and among the best close-combat fighters in the lands they inhabit.
Myrmidons are strong, tough, and stoic, and, while they are not really immune to discomfort, they do not mind if others gain this impression of them.
Companions to Heroes
In ages past, the prowess of Myrmidons was such that they became the companions of great heroes, and many of them shared their fates, for better or worse. As a result of their widespread military adventures, Myrmidons have established colonies in many lands and in them established queens capable of giving birth each season to several dozen larvae, which grow quickly to become the next generation of warriors.
Most Myrmidons encountered outside of their homelands are mercenaries, bodyguards, or other sorts of soldiers for hire, some serve as trainers, military advisors, and the like, and a significant number make their way in the world as adventurers.
A Myrmidon has a full name that includes its clan, race, given name, a title based on its status, and possibly an honorific derived from its accomplishments. In any given situation, however, most Myrmidons will identify by the simplest designation they can, including the name of their race if they are the only one of their kind in a particular group. Dolichoder Myrmidon Scout Antiphus Goblinslayer might thus identify simply as “Myrmidon” in a mixed-race adventuring party where he is the only member of his kind, as “Dolichoder” in a group that includes multiple Myrmidons all of different clans or as “Scout” in such a group where he is the sole scout, etc. Given names are typically those of mortal and divine ancestors, some of whom may themselves not have been Myrmidons. A female who identifies by her race alone will use the feminine form “Myrmidone.”
Male Names: Aeacus, Achelous, Achilles, Actor, Aeolus, Aethalides, Antiphus, Cleitor, Dioplethes, Erysichthon, Myrmex, Patroclus, Perieres, Phorbas, Triopas.
Female Names: Aegina, Enarete, Eupolemeia, Eurymedusa, Hiscilla, Peisidice, Thetis.
Titles: Blacksmith, Farmer, Fisher, High Priest, Hoplite, Hunter, Laborer, Peltast, Physician, Queen, Scout.
Honorifics: of (Athens, Kos, Rhodes), the Archer, the Swift, One-Armed, Goblinslayer.
Clans: Agroeco, Amblyopon, Aneuret, Apo, Dolichoder, Doryl, Ectatomm, Formic, Heteroponer, Leptanill, Notho, Poner, Procerati, Spheco.
A Myrmidon character has a number of traits common to members of its kind.
Ability Score Increase. A Myrmidon’s Strength score increases by 1, and its Constitution score increases by 2.
Age. Myrmidons mature much faster than humans, reaching adulthood around age 12, and live to about 60 years of age on average. Some subtypes, however, can live considerably longer, and queens frequently reach as much as 300 years of age.
Alignment. Myrmidons inherit a strong tendency toward law, to the extent that most do not have an inclination toward either good or evil.
Size. Myrmidons tend to be more 6 feet in height and are markedly bulkier than Humans as a result of their natural chitinous armor. Their size is Medium.
Speed. A Myrmidon’s base walking speed is 30 feet.
Natural Armor. A Myrmidon has natural chitonous armor that gives it an armor class bonus equal to its proficiency bonus. This natural armor never reduces its speed, does not impose disadvantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks, and has no limits on the extent to which Dexterity bonuses can modify it. No other armor except for shields and bucklers can be used in conjunction with such natural armor.
Athletic. A Myrmidon gains proficiency in the Athletics skill.
Bold: A Myrmidon has advantage on saving throws against being frightened.
Myrmidon Combat Training. A Myrmidon has proficiency with the javelin, lance, shortsword, sling, and buckler (5 gp, AC +1, 3 lb.; if proficient, a character can wield a two-handed weapon while using a buckler, but cannot wield a one-handed weapon in the hand of an arm to which a buckler is attached, or use two bucklers or a shield and a buckler).
Languages. A Myrmidon can speak, read, and write Common and its own language of Formian, which employs many clicking, humming, and buzzing sounds, and which sounds alien to most other peoples. Formian has no script of its own but is written using Common characters.
In the Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting
, and possibly in other settings with a basis in the history, geography, and mythology of the real-world Mediterranean, a number of specific details apply to Myrmidons:
* The deity who created the Mymidons was Zeus, following a plague enacted by his wife, Hera. This all occurred on the island of Aegina, in the seas west of Athens, at the behest of its king, Aeacus, the only survivor of the catastrophe.
* Myrmidons served as the sworn bodyguards of the famed Achilles and many followed him to the grave during the Trojan War. Those who survived the decade-long conflict attempted to sail home to Aegina but were caught in a storm raised by the Titan Dagon, who resented the devotion of the Greeks to Poseidon. Their ship wrecked upon the tiny island of Astypalaia, in the Dodecanese Archipelago of the eastern Aegean, and the Myrmidons raised a queen from among their numbers and have dwelled there since. This queen, a direct descendant of the mortal woman Astypalaia on her mother’s side, is perpetually pregnant and each season gives birth to several dozen new Myrmidons.
* During the Great Cataclysm, a broad dome of rock at the western end of Astypalaia acted as a shield for the rest of the island (much as the Aegis did on Kos). Since then, the ruin of the ancient citadel, located on the peak of the highest mountain on the island, has been rebuilt and houses the palace of the queen and her guard. Chora, the main town on Astypalaia, is located in the shadow of this mountain and surrounds a fine natural harbor.
* The Common tongue employed by Myrmidons is Greek, and Greek characters are used for writing Formian.
There are a number of subraces of Myrmidon that have degenerated over the ages and no longer represent the ideal of their kind.
Members of the Amblyopon clan have become largely subterranean and, as a result, most have deficient eyesight and some are even completely blind. Such Myrmidons rarely venture onto the surface world but in their own domain can still be quite deadly.
Some sub-clans have also learned to survive lean times by preying and feeding upon intelligent humanoids like Humans and Elves, and sometimes even other Myrmidons, and these are especially feared and hated by almost everyone who knows of their existence.