Hello again! My apologies for the absence, I tend to switch focus between my obsessions frequently (this time it was painting/constructing miniatures). I'm currently in the process of compiling resources that I'll use for Strigastadt, so I haven't created much in the way of original material. However, I came across an item by Jack Shear earlier today called the "bonearrow" that set my imagination on a ramble. The item is a +3 arrow that, upon slaying the target, raises the corpse as a zombie under the control of the person who fired it. Iterating upon that idea I came up with the following:
Bonebeetles - ivory colored beetles hatched by a sorcerer and fed upon a paste of bonemeal and rare minerals mixed with drops of the sorcerer's blood. When the food source is removed and the beetles exposed to a brief period of cold, they enter a desiccated hibernation state. They can remain in this state for an extended period of time and will only awaken when exposed to warm and wet conditions.
When placed into a wound of a living or recently-slain (still warm) creature the beetles will animate and infiltrate the body. A minimum of three beetles per HD of the host are required for the reanimation to be successful. If the host is still alive they receive a saving throw vs poison each turn until they either make three saves or fail one, with a bonus to the throw equal to their remaining HP. On each successful save they sustain a point of damage as the beetles chew their way to their destinations, but on a failed save they have succumbed to the workings of the beetles and become a mindless zombie under the control of the sorcerer who raised the beetles. If the sorcerer no longer exists, they are uncontrolled and will simply attack the nearest living target. If the target successfully makes their three saves the beetles will die off before they are able to accomplish their task, which after a day or so will cause a fever (-2 to all rolls) for 3d4 days as their body purges the foreign bodies.
Bonebeetles are usually employed by being sprinkled into the open wounds of captive or slain creatures, but on occasion are delivered via an arrow or crossbow bolt. A hollow pottery or glass point is charged with a small cluster and fired into the target. Such arrows do one less damage due to their construction, but the beetles more than make up for the difference. Arrows that miss are shattered, but the desiccated beetles are usually recoverable.
The time of maturation for the beetles is one month, during which time each beetle will consume 40 silver worth of rare minerals. For each two dozen beetles one HP worth of blood must be shed each day by the sorcerer. Certain rituals must also be performed at the hatching, beginning of pupation, and final maturation of the beetles, which are detailed along with the recipe for the paste within the pages of a Manual of Bonebeetle Creation.
I'd love to hear if you have any thoughts/input regarding these little creatures! I've tried to balance the fact that you can basically store a raise dead spell, making the cost on the low end of the scroll-creation range (according to the LotFP rules) but with an additional HP cost.