Tuesday, March 22, 2016

#01 - Insects from Shaggai & The New Great Race of Yith

Insects from Shaggai

The Insects from Shaggai, also known as Shan, came to Earth many years ago and became stranded due to a component in our atmosphere. They are a highly advanced race which enjoy torturing other races for whatever reason. They can also phase through solid objects, which they use to enter a human's brain and tinker.

In the RPG...

The size of a pigeon, and with only 1 hit-point, they are easily disposed of, but if they are present, there's a good chance that they've co-opted the minds of any number of locals and can sway them to their bidding.

If the investigators should discover a colony of Shan, they will discover that they have also enslaved beings from Xiclotl and L'gy'hx as guards. L'gy'hxians, though human-sized, have 19-point natural armour, which means that nothing short of a grenade or stick of dynamite can even hurt it. The Xiclotlians have 8-point armour, which also rules out most guns, though it's the 39 hit-points that are the bigger concern. Needless to say, neither race would be easily dispatched, so avoidance is probably the best strategy.

In a video game...

As in the RPG, I don't imagine the Shan would pose much of a threat to a video game protagonist. They are quite spritely when flying, however (1000mph according to the 7e rulebook), which when combined with their size, would make them a pretty difficult target.

In a film...

Conceptually, the Shan fit into the now-cliched trope of government subversion and conspiracy, or on a larger scale, something akin to Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Even if that could be written in a new and fresh way, I think the creatures themselves would look pretty hokey on-screen. No matter how cool they look aesthetically, seeing a large insect tittering about with technology would be pretty laughable. Even just the thought of it is now reminding me of The Outer Limits episode, The Zanti Misfits:

The New Great Race of Yith

In prehistoric Australia, the technologically advanced Yithians were attacked by the Flying Polyps. In order to escape, the Yithians transferred their minds far into the future. Unheroically, they traded places with a race of hive-minded insects, leaving them (undoubtedly confused) in the Yithians'  old bodies in the midst of the Flying Polyp war, never to be heard of again. I had initially planned on leaving the New Great Race off my list due to their distance in time, but then I realised that they could easily be brought into the present via a gate or other spell, and would be remiss leaving out such an interesting creature.

In the RPG...

Each member of the New Great Race is actually composed of 1000 to 4000 insects, controlled as a hive-mind and working in unison. Each individual insect has a single hit-point, which means that even an "average" member essentially has 2000 hit-points, placing them even above Yog-Sothoth, who only has 400. The Malleus Monstrorum entry states that the hive-mind collapses when 75% of the insects are destroyed, but even with that stipulation, it means the equivalent of 1500 hit-points. While this seems impressive at first glance, it is only really relevant to gunplay. A single bullet would only take out a few insects at a time, so you could never realistically fight the New Great Race with guns, but any explosive, however, would hit every insect within the blast radius, taking their 1 hit-point even if they were at the very edge of its effective area. In game-terms, this means the New Great Race are invulnerable to all melee weapons and guns, while not even being worth a damage roll for a successful explosive attack. They're essentially a binary opponent—all or nothing.

In a video game...

I can't say I'm really up on the technical limitations of modern GPUs or CPUs, but I have a feeling they would struggle with even a small specimen of the New Great Race. 1000 individual insect models moving in real-time seems like it might seriously kill your frame-rate. Even if it could be done, should it? An enemy that can't be shot, yet is killed with a single grenade, doesn't really sound like it would be worth the effort to me.

In a film...

Something similar to the New Great Race has already graced the big screen. In the film Constantine, there was a demon that was composed of various bugs, worms, snakes, etc. I remember thinking it was very cool at the time. While the New Great Race don't necessarily take human form, I would presume they could, which would look great on-screen, especially with the jump in CG quality since Constantine come out. What would add a nice touch is that it's mentioned in the Malleus Monstrorum that the insects shimmer with a spectrum of colours when they fly, which I think would also work with any rapid shifting of their mass. Unlike a game, where the player may or may not have a grenade handy, it's easy for a screenwriter to have the protagonists without such a weapon, making the New Great Race a much scarier adversary.

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