Runequest Thursday #33 - Scorpionids!

Clint Staples

Ever since the earliest iterations of Runequest, there have been scorpionmen, children of the devouring mother, the Scorpion Queen Bagog. Horrific creatures of chaos, no right-thinking person would have anything to do with them. Nor would they long survive if they did, for Bagog whispers of the wisdom to be gained from consumption. Knowledge, skills, even spells can be 'learned' by feasting upon powerful individuals.

The scorpionfolk of Runequest traditionally have been represented as  being rather like a scorpion centaur, with the upper body of a humanoid, but the lower body of a scorpion. While I like this version, I also really like the traditional representation of ancient Mesopotamia - of a humanoid with a stinger. Since the centaur scorpionman has already been statted out for Runequest in a number of places, I thought I would present the Scorpionid here. Because of the Bagog cult's chaotic nature, there is no reason why these could not exist in the same community.

Scorpionids are not recorded in earlier ages. The earliest references to such creatures are from explorers in the ruins of Old Pavis nearly a century ago, just after the Dragonewt's Dream and the fall of the Troll Gate. Sages suppose that they might be a more recent aberration that has proliferated in some broods. It is also possible that a single human was the progenitor of this variant form, because some portion of human ingenuity seems to have appeared about the same time. See Scorpionid Weapons, below. Further speculation suggests that this human progenitor might have been male, because a disproportionate number of scorpionid corpses discovered are found to be male when examined. It is possible that this is disrupting what has been an extremely gynocratic cult structure since the birth of Bagog herself.

The scorpionid is a carapaced humanoid, with a poisonous tail stinger, claws and possibly weapons as well - made from crafted carapace. Some scorpionids may have begun life as normal [if deranged] humans or ogres, while others were hatched in this condition. Scorpionids occupy an odd position within the structure of a Bagog brood. Often not as powerful as the larger centaurlike scorpionmen, they are often faster, usually smaller and far better at infiltrating places that their larger brethren are unable to access. They are some of the Bagog cultists more commonly met outside the brood-nest, and often make up most or all of a hunting party. They generally have good stealth skills and are happiest ambushing caravans or groups that they outnumber by a considerable number.

Because so much of the Bagog cult structure revolves around the ritual consumption of prey and the acquisition of abilities thereby, most Bagog hunting parties are not interested in the wholesale massacre of their prey - at least not until the most propitious time. Thus it is not uncommon for most of those who fall prey to scorpionids to survive their encounter, to be driven back to the nest for ritual consumption, which increases the likelihood of the passage of knowledge, spells and skills. This is not to say that those captured are well treated, and it is not unknown for a hungry scorpionid to cut off an arm, heal off the stump, and take the snack on the march, leaving the hapless victim to watch as its appendage is consumed. Still, brave warbands will sometimes organize rescue parties for captured comrades rather than leave them to so terrible a fate. Certainly, the conventional notion of ransom has little appeal to the followers of the Devouring Mother.

Here I present to you both the Scorpionid Young - small, but still deadly and eager to feast and grow, and the Mature Scorpionids, who are rightly feared wherever they are known to lurk. A typical hunting party might contain six to ten young, and one or more Mature Scorpionids. A war party would have more mature members and might also include a Bagog Lord or two, even some scorpionfolk.

Scorpionid Weapons:

Mature scorpionids seem capable of wielding weapons, and some may even be able to craft them. Such weapons are made of chitin and are light, tough and able to take an exceptional edge. The only weapon found with regularity are falxes taken from mature scorpionids. in addition, regular scorpionfolk are increasingly commonly found with carapace weapons, possibly traded or otherwise acquired from scorpionid crafters.

A Chitin Falx is a curving bladed weapon wielded in both hands. It requires STR 11, DEX 13 to wield effectively, and moves very quickly for its size, adding +1 to the ‘reach’ of the weapon. Chitin Falxes are valuable weapons. Less durable than normal falxes [AP 6/ HP 8], they have an edge that can only be surpassed by iron. A Chitin Falx is worth as much or more than a falx [300L+] and does +1 point of non-magical damage. A mature scorpionid might be a maker of Chitin weaponry - in which case it would have 50-90% in that skill.

It is also possible that a Mature Scorpionid has one or more abilities from the consumption of some powerful individual. The ritual of consumption may grant a scorpionid one of the below benefits. There is a POWx3% chance:

Scorpionid Feast: [Roll 1d20]

1-8                  No Additional Abilities

9-10                Sorcery Skill of 1d8x10%, plus 2d4 ranks of sorcery spells.

11-12              1d3 Battle magic spell ranks.

13-14             Random Knowledge or Lore Skill at 1d8x10%.

15-16             1d8 Battle Magic spell ranks.           

17-18              1d3 Rune Spell Levels.

19                   Roll twice on this table, ignoring another result of 19.

20                   The entirely of the knowledge, skills, spells, and personality of the consumed individual is available to the scorpionid.