A Classical Gygaxian Creature
Because Once The Idea Crawled Into My Head, It Wouldn’t Leave Until I Wrote This Up
I Have An Unfinished Novel, An Unfinished Short Story, And Some Programming Stuff I Want To Teach Myself, But, Nooooo, I Have To Write Up Stats For A Monster In An Antiquated System
Anyway, for some reason, I was thinking of the old saying “Don’t let the bed bugs bite”, and wondering how this made sense. Was it somehow an option? Could you tell the bed bugs not to bite? Did they need permission?
And then, probably because earlier I had been reading a thread on “What monsters are needed for an old school adventure?”, where I discussed the endless array of “things that look like things”, such as mimics, trappers, piercers, lurkers above, and so on, it struck me that “bed bug” would be a perfect addition to such things. It would literally be a giant arthropod that resembled a bed and devoured sleeping victims.
NO. APPEARING: 1-2
ARMOR CLASS: 4
HIT DICE: 6
% IN LAIR: 95%
TREASURE TYPE: F
NO. OF ATTACKS: 3 (bite and 2 claws) + sleep
SPECIAL ATTACKS: Sleep
SPECIAL DEFENSES: Nil
MAGIC RESISTANCE: Standard
SIZE: L (6′ long, 5′ wide, 3-4′ high)
PSlONlC ABILITY: Nil
Attack/Defense Modes: Nil
A great sage once said, “Life finds a way”. Many creatures have evolved mechanisms to disguise themselves, both to evade predators and ensnare prey. Insects are well known for their variability of form, such as stick insects and walking leaves. It should be no surprise, then, that one species (possibly with magical aid, most likely from druids angered at the intrusion of inns and wayhouses into their pristine woods) adapted to prey on humans and demi-humans, taking a form that appeals to potential meals at their most vulnerable, when they are exhausted and in need of rest.
The bedbug, as the name implies, will appear as a comfortable bed, usually with a wooden frame and headboard, and a soft mattress and pillows. Anyone lying on the bed must immediately make a save vs. breath weapon or fall into a deep sleep. If this occurs, the bedbug will immediately attack the victim with a +4 to-hit.
If the bedbug is somehow identified as such before anyone lies on it, or if there are witnesses, it will abandon its disguise, unfolding its wooden-textured limbs and revealing grasping claws and vicious teeth. (It has two sets of jaws, one in the center of the “mattress”, and one at the “foot” of the bed, appearing between the mattress and the frame. It can only use one of these per round, however.)
Once per round, it can breath a puff of sleeping gas at a single target with 3″, which will affect them as per a sleep spell,regardless of their hit dice, if they fail save vs. breath weapon. It can also bite and claw at any adjacent creatures, dividing these attacks as it sees fit.
The preferred lair for bedbugs is places where it is not noticeably out of place, that is, areas where humanoid creatures normally sleep. They are particularly common in roadside inns (leaving the innkeeper to believe a traveler has simply absconded without paying their bill), abandoned farmhouses that may draw the weary looking for shelter, or flophouses in areas of a city where a few disappearances go unnoticed.
A few unscrupulous innkeepers have made deals with bedbugs, allowing them easy meals in exchange for being able to loot the inedible leftover coins and gear without harassment from the satiated creature.
Bedbugs come in numerous sub-species, matching the styles and colors of local furnishings; a bedbug found in an elven village will look quite different from one found in a human town, but their game statistics are the same.
Some scholars speculate that the bedbug is related to the dread gazebo.
NOTE: The “pillows” of the bedbug are a form of symbiotic puffball fungus, which lets them be detached and moved, adding to the disguise. If they take any damage, they explode, producing a cloud of choking spores in a 2″ radius. Anyone in the area failing a save vs. poison will spend 1-4 rounds unable to do anything but cough and gag. The bedbug is smart enough to sometimes use one of its attacks to pierce a pillow, producing this effect. It is immune to the spores. Adventurers familiar with bedbugs might wish to toss the pillows (gently!) out of the creature’s reach if they get the chance.