New Mutant Monday # 26 - Melter Hornet

Chris Van Deelen

No. Enc: 1d6 or 4d100 in a swarm
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 90' (30')
                    30’ (10’) ground
Armor Class: 3
Hit Dice: 1 Hit point per insect
Attacks: 1 bite or 1 sting
Damage: 1 or 1 plus special (see description) / 2d6 for every 10 in the swarm
Save: L1
Morale: 11
Hoard Class: None

It has long been believed these horrible little mutant insects were designed to be biological weapons. They were first discovered in the middle 20th century and quickly became a major hazard to the workers in the fields of Asia.

It was thought these creatures had been wiped out by pesticides and biological warfare during the middle of the 21st century but made a massive re-emergence during the years leading up to the final wars.

Before the final wars, they were dangerous insects. The sting would inject a deadly poison, which literally ate away at the flesh, leaving large holes in the skin and muscle. This could lead to even worse issues due to infection and the like.

Once the bio-engineers got their hands on these insect monstrosities, they changed them to make them even deadlier.

It is bad enough that they can inflict painful bites, but the venom was engineered to be far deadlier.

When they are first encountered, only a handful will be seen. These are in effect the scouts for the main swarm. The scouts will actively seek out possible sources of food and then mark them (either by biting or stinging). Both attacks will leave a pheromone trail for the main host to follow and attack. The pheromones will remain active on the victim for 12+2d6 hours. Bite damage will be detected at up to 1000 feet, while the venom will be detectable up to 5000 feet.

Any member of this species within the radius will move at top speed towards the target, knowing a meal is readily available. There is always a swarm within 1d10x200 feet of the scouts.

If someone kills one of these creatures with a natural weapon, has one killed on their person, or even uses a melee weapon, this will start a chain reaction with the swarm. These creatures do not like it when something kills one of their own, and as such the swarm will go into what can only be described as a berserker rage.

While in this state, the creatures will gain a +2 to hit and the damage inflicted by the swarm is doubled.

The only really effective way to deal with a swarm is by the use of area effect weapons. Firing into the swarm will result in inflicting a quarter damage (round to nearest, at least 1 point of damage inflicted). For example, a sword strike against these creatures manages to inflict 8 points of damage. Instead of this, the attacker only does 2 points of damage, thus killing two of the creatures.  When you consider these creatures have one hit point each, large swarms will be very difficult to destroy. Using area effect weapons like explosives or even cone-based weapons (such as a flamethrower) are best. Also, using area effect mutations like vampiric field are quite effective in dealing with these monsters.

The venom is highly toxic and initially does only 1d4 points of damage when it comes into contact with the skin. It will burn away at the flesh for 2d4 rounds until it finally penetrates to the muscle, where it gets even more horrific. The venom is also acidic, and as such it can damage armor and clothing. A save versus acid is required (unless the ML does not have Wisdom from the Wastelands Issue 1, in which case it is a save versus energy, using the owners saving throw) or the venom will inflict 1d3-1 condition levels of damage. If even one condition level the acid breaks through and reacts to the flesh. If no damage is inflicted to the armor, then the acid has been neutralized.

While the acid is burning through the flesh, it needs to be scraped off with a knife or other item. This act will inflict 1d6 points of damage, but will likely save the victim’s life. If the acid is not removed or somehow neutralized, the victim will also suffer incredible agony from the venom. This translates into a -3 to hit, +2 to AC, -2 to all damage inflicted and -3 to all saving throws.

Once the acid has burned through to the muscle, the victim is essentially dead. The acid will use the muscle tissue to grow, turning into a red-tinged fibrous slime. For each round the acid is inside the victim, the damage will first increase to 1d6, then on the second round it will increase to 2d6 and it will continue to increase by 1d6 per round until it hits the maximum of 10d6 per round. Most of the time the victim is long dead when this happens.

The body is reduced to a pile of gelatinous goo, which the swarm will then land upon and consume. All that will remain are the bones of the victim, picked clean and left gleaming in the sun.

The only way to stop this process once the acid has hit the muscle is to use any artifact medical drug which heals, or any anti-venom or even anti-disease drugs. If the venom is allowed to grow for more than 3 rounds, the victim will automatically lose 1 point of Strength and Dexterity per round. This is not permanent, but will not return until after all damage has been healed, and then it will only return at the victims healing rate per day. The victim gets to choose which stat is healed per day.

If either stat is reduced to zero, the victim dies from shock.

Special thanks to Michael Richter for suggesting this nasty creature!

Mutations: Gigantism, toxic weapon.