Tuesday, January 2, 2018

the Fig Wasp

I was in Panama for Christmas with my dad, uncle, and granddad (Granddaddy was stationed in the canal zone during the 70's, so my dad went to high school here and it definitely captured the family imagination), so I thought I'd try to come up with some D&D stuff related to Panama or tropical environments in general.

To that end, the other day I saw some pretty cool banyan trees, aerial prop roots hanging down from above, stretching for the ground, ready to create more and more trunks in an ultimate banyan grove, all centered around a single huge trunk of intertwining roots. Some quick Wikipedia research informed me that banyans are sometimes called "strangler figs" for the way that they grow around a victim tree and "strangle" it with their roots; and further that, as a fig tree, they are home to fig wasps, which developed symbiotically and co-specialized with fig trees, the fig providing the wasp a place to lay eggs and mate, the wasp pollinating the fig.

Hence the double feature of Strangler Figs and Fig Wasps ... Today, the Fig Wasp:

So there are two varieties of fig wasps, pollinating and non-pollinating (and many species of both). The pollinating fig wasp is pictured above, and has an elongated head with spurs, with which it burrows into the syconium (what will become a fig fruit), where it both deposits pollen in some of the female flowers while laying eggs in others. Non-pollinating fig wasps look more like other wasps, except that their ovipositors are ridiculously long, at least as long as their bodies--these they use to pierce the syconium and deposit eggs within from outside. I'm going to focus on a pollinating species.

Fig Wasps
No. Appearing 3-18
AC 9 (but they can't be hit by weapons--hands can slap them on a body, or squash them in the air)
hp 1
THAC0: 16 (they're small and pretty good at crawling through chinks in armor)
damage: 1-3 as they burrow in
movement: fly 30'

Fig wasps surprise on a 1-3 on a d6, being small and seemingly innocuous. Their attack roll is merely to land; with surprise, they can immediately begin to burrow in, otherwise a character can swat at 1-3 of them on their body before the wasps can act again.

After the wasps have landed on a humanoid, they begin burrowing into flesh using their specialized heads and mandibles. This causes 1-3 damage, partially from the painful sore, partially from the inflammation of the flesh around the sore.

Once inside, the wasp lays its eggs and then dies. At this point, the host character must make a save against poison to avoid a severe allergic reaction as the body responds to the presence of foreign bodies inside itself. Success indicates a mild reaction--itching hives above where the eggs were laid, rather like a nasty chigger-bite; failure indicates severe anaphylaxis: roll on a d6

1) eyes swell shut -- blind for 1-6 turns
2) severe hives -- penalty of -1 on all rolls for 1 day
3) swollen throat -- can't eat for 1-3 days, may grow weaker from hunger
4) ill for 1-3 days -- penalty of -1 on all rolls
5) violently ill for 1-3 days -- may not act other than to rest
6) death in 1-6 turns

A neutralize poison spell will halt the anaphylaxis, but the eggs will remain. A cure disease spell will destroy the eggs and also neutralize the anaphylaxis.

If the eggs are not destroyed, they will incubate for 2-4 weeks, during which time the eggs hatch, the hatched larvae pupate, and at the end of which time adult fig wasps split out of the pupae. The males' only purpose is to fertilize the females and then burrow a way out of the fig for the females to fly away. Unfortunately for the wasps, the females cannot survive in a human or demi-human host, and are ultimately absorbed into the body--BUT the males still burrow their way out, causing 1-20 damage as they do so (they might be burrowing out of an arm or leg, or on the dangerous side, burrowing out through vital organs in the abdomen!).

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