Robber Fly, Giant
Wait, Should That Be Fly, Giant, Robber?
I Mean, It’s “Giant Spider” But “Water, Giant, Spider”
Whatevs. Big Fly.
OK, first of all, “credit where it’s due”: This was inspired by this video:
All done? Good. (BTW, I recommend the Tier Zoo series in general if you’re interested in zoology and gaming.)
While Tier Zoo uses video game metaphors to impart basic biological knowledge, the lessons learned can be transferred to the table top games that video games evolved from.
Note: It’s surely possible that in the mounds of official and unofficial AD&D books, this has been done before. I can either scour my collection looking for it, or just actually provide some damn content for once and not worry if I’m going to the same well someone else already has.
Robber Fly, Giant
NO. APPEARING: 1-4
ARMOR CLASS: 4
MOVE: 4″/16″ (Class B)
HIT DICE: 4
% IN LAIR: 5% day, 50% night
TREASURE TYPE: C
NO. OF ATTACKS: 1
DAMAGE/ATTACK: 3-8 (1d6 +2) + poison
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Aerial precision and poison, see below
SPECIAL DEFENSES: See below
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
PSlONlC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: None
Robber flies, sometimes called assassin flies, are extraordinarily agile flyers, capable of aerial acrobatics matched by few non-extraplanar or supernatural creatures. (For purposes of D&D-type settings, a man-sized fly that doesn’t collapse under its own weight is “natural”.) They tend to live in arid or semi-arid regions such as scrubland or steppes. Very rarely, sub-species may be found in underground complexes possessing large, open areas to fly in, and living beings to prey on.
If a giant robber fly has room to maneuver around a creature it’s attacking (defined as no other creatures or large obstacles within 1″ of the target), it gains a +2 bonus to its attack roll and its armor class. This ends as soon as something else moves into range. For this reason, giant robber flies prefer to attack stragglers or otherwise isolated prey.
If an attack hits, there is a 50% chance the target will be poisoned. Failing a saving throw vs. poison leads to paralysis for 2d4 rounds, followed by death. If there are no other enemies around, the giant robber fly will begin eating, hitting automatically for 1d6+2 damage each round. If there are other threats, it may either (50% chance) deal with them before stopping to feed, or fly away with its paralyzed prey to its lair. (The giant robber fly can carry a paralyzed creature of its size or smaller with the loss of only one level of maneuverability. It will not attempt to carry off non-paralyzed beings. It must drop its prize to attack.)
So sensitive are these flies to subtle changes in air pressure that if an invisible or hidden creature (such as a thief hiding in shadows) moves within 1″ of the giant robber fly, it has a 50% chance of sensing them. In the highly improbable event it comes up, this does not apply if the invisible creature is incorporeal/astral/ethereal or otherwise won’t create something to sense. Because you just know if it’s not mentioned, someone’s going to argue about it.
Giant robber flies prefer to hunt in the daylight and in open areas where they can maneuver; by contrast, their lairs are located in protected areas, such as within rocky clefts, or in small caves and tunnels partially hidden by scrub or overgrowth. It is in such places that their treasure, such as it is, can be found, in the form of random remains from prior victims brought back for feasting while paralyzed.
Smaller humanoids, such as savannah goblins and steppe kobolds, may have tamed giant robber flies as mounts. This removes their aerial precision ability, but they may (25% chance per individual) have been given light armor, giving them a +1 to AC. These mounts are special and precious, and their riders will always be the leader-types of a humanoid community. (A robber fly being ridden cannot also carry off a paralyzed victim, but it perfectly capable of attacking without unseating its rider.)
This was simply a fun idea that came into my head after watching the video. GMing 101: If there’s a nifty creature in the real world you learn about (current or extinct), inflate it to threatening size, and give it some stats!
Please note, this ain’t a biology textbook. I watched the video and skimmed the Wikipedia article, then wrote the entry based on a handful of factoids that I thought were useful for my purposes: To create an interesting obstacle for players and to add color/flavor to a region. The kobolds/goblins riding them just came out of nowhere; I was typing the bit about carrying off prey and deciding they wouldn’t carry off still-wriggling PCs, then I had the thought of using them as mounts, and even if they could carry off a human-sized creature, the idea of one riding one seemed silly, but a smaller being… that seemed to make sense to me. So, there you go.