Prehistoric Insect
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Basic Information

Insects predate the dinosaurs, and insect fossils have been dated back to 400 million years ago, preserved in amber. Even these ancient versions have body structures very similar to those of modern insects, though some have 3 pairs of wings instead of just 2. One way that they were different was size. Ancient dragonflies grew so big they had 70cm (28 inch) wingspans.

The reason they could grow so large is believed to be far greater amounts of oxygen in the ancient atmosphere. One factor that limits the growth of insects is their method of respiration - they breathe through spiracles, openings in their abdomens. They have no blood vessels to carry the oxygen. The larger they get, the harder this form of respiration becomes, but if the air had more oxygen it'd become more practical and efficient for insects to grow huge again.


Game and Story Use

  • In the depths of Prehistory, a large venomous insect would be a nasty monster/threat. The clever GM may adapt them to another setting:
    • Astronauts accidentally take terrestrial insects to another planet, one with an oxygen-rich atmosphere. The insects get loose, and go unnoticed for a few hundred years. Evolution and oxygen have taken their course, the planet is over-run by giant insectoid super-predators. Years later, a colonizing mission arrives on the planet, and the man-sized killer insects build a nest in their terraformers. No, wait, that seems familiar somehow…
    • A red herring - a Mad Scientist extracts ancient insect DNA from amber, hoping to make a host of evil insectoid assassins. The PCs try to stop him, but arrive a little too late - the pupae are hatching! Hundreds of bloodthirsty giant insects stretch their wings… and asphyxiate.
    • See also: 2060 humvee-sized bulletproof meat-eating spiders attack
  • The lack of blood vessels may be an advantage, as it could make insects less vulnerable to critical hits.
    • On the other hand, it means that just about any hit that draws blood is a crit.
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