[Let's Read] D&D 4e Monster Manual 2?

Inyssius

thermonuclear catsplosion
Validated User
I think the biggest problem with Giant Ants is that there is only one real story to tell--you invade the nest and kill the queen, or plant a magic bomb or some other mcguffin to take out the hive.

You can't realistically take out an entire hive of ants yourself, (whether they come in hundreds or thousands) and they don't really have any potential for negotiation or mystery, for the most part. They aren't likely to work in concert with anything else.
Many ants can grow a new queen from their remaining egg supply as needed, so I should think killing the queen of an ant colony would be equivalent to killing a Darklord in his Domain of Dread; it might let you get out, but the horde will be stirred into frenzy and the root problem will regenerate in days or weeks.

Also, I believe that giant ants, again like Half-Life 2's antlions, are best used as an environmental hazard. When you're caught in a blizzard, your goal is not to hunt down and kill the winter wind--okay, maybe on occasion that is your goal, but not regularly speaking. You avoid too much trouble (ha ha ha), make your way through the sprawling underground colony (there can be some beautiful sights down there), maybe get lost and encounter something else in the depths of the hive, and get out through a different passage. Hopefully, nearer to where you want to be. Used in this way, they have the appealing side effect of helping to immerse your party in the world you're trying to create.

And, on a different note, the armies of sentient beings are usually also too large for five daring mercenaries to wipe out singlehandedly. Does that mean that wartime campaigns are doomed to repetitive boring futility? Oh, hell no! Most of the things you can do with an army as your nemesis could equally be done with, well, the chitinous monster of your choice. Ever heard of Starship Troopers?

Or suppose you need to retrieve a McGuffin from the ant colony? See again Half-Life 2's antlions, whose larval extract can be distilled into (basically) potions of ethereal projection--which, as it happens, allows certain trained individuals to heal wounds which would otherwise equal death.
 

Inyssius

thermonuclear catsplosion
Validated User
Whilst I'll admit that 'kill the queen!' is the archetypal mission for ant adventures, there's a lot of space for interesting interactions drawing from ants of the world. My players will have to deal with giant ants that farm alongside goblinoids and maintain some form of plant-monster as an internal defence and food source.

That, or it'll be more feywild-y with ants and gnomes cooperating up until a parasital infection starts sending them loopy. If nature can come up with this, I reckon there's a good amount of space for interesting events.
Just so.


Oh, wow.

I love nature. I really, really do.
 

MadMac

Registered User
Validated User
Good points all. I think I've been suitably chastened. :cool:

One thing that bugs me a little bit is the "Shredding Wings" power on the Drones. I like it, and I see where they were going with it, but there's nothing in the description that hints towards their wings being covered in razor blades or whatever that makes them massively deadly. I can fluff it up, myself, I just remember going "Wait, What?" when I first got to that power.
 

Inyssius

thermonuclear catsplosion
Validated User
Which reminds me that I've only actually done half of the Giant Ant entry. So, um, back to work.

The hive worker is a level 1 Minion Skirmisher. I have to say that an at-will Hive Worker Frenzy, which lets it shift 2 squares every time an ant dies within 10 squares (as a free action, even), is excellently atmospheric. The inside of an anthill, when under attack, should be chaotic, constantly churning, always in frenzied motion. It's another example of the fluff perfectly matching the crunch, and it gets the same complement of uplifted fanboi thumbs.

The hive worker also gets a perception modifier of -1, which makes me smile—though I shouldn't think it would matter much, since all ants have Tremorsense 10. It's also worth noting that hive workers are the only giant ants with any burrow or tunnelling speed (2, if you're wondering); is this a nod to verisimilitude?



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The hive warrior is a level 2 Skirmisher, comprising the hive's scouting force and the guardians of any outdoor workers. Its Hive *caste* Frenzy strips away any marks placed on the creature in addition to granting a shift, which is handy (and, again, exactly how I would imagine it working). The hive warrior's bite deals extra damage to anyone taking ongoing acid damage; combined with any higher-caste ant, all of which have ongoing acid powers, this is a recipe for damage well in excess of the recommended average expression. I wonder how they balance that. Is the benefit taken out of the higher-level ant's powers, or chalked up to some sort of "acceptable synergy bonus"?



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As the backbone of any colony's guard force, the hive soldier is—shockingly—a level 3 Soldier. Their basic attack grabs, and their death effect knocks adjacent enemies prone, and I could see that being absolutely maddening in a hive full of skirmishers with Hive *caste* Frenzy and high climb speeds. Like the winged drone and hive queen, the hive soldier can deal ongoing 5 acid damage; in this case, to an enemy it's grabbed. Which makes the maddening skirmisher effect feel even worse! I've got to say, I'm liking the image these stat blocks convey. But then again, I'm hardly an unbiased critic... ;)
 
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Naxuul

Emo hair power!
Validated User
Nevertheless, I believe there is a failing here both in description and in art.
While the art doesn't look like traditional tiny ants, it does look alot like Bullet Ants to me. They have the same skinny sections with longer connective pieces and big bulbous head look. Which does make some sense, in that gigantic ants would look something more like the huge ants we already have rather than the small ones.

-Naxuul
 
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