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The Swarm

Source Alien Archive pg. 110
Originally an insectile race called the kucharn, the Swarm is now a single-minded collective with a desire to consume all things and absorb their best qualities into itself. The Swarm moves from planet to planet in tremendous organic hive-ships, reducing each so-called “feeder world” to a barren husk incapable of supporting life, and occasionally altering its own DNA in the process to take on qualities from that world’s species. Once it has consumed everything of use on a planet, the Swarm moves on, not bothering to hold territory.

Ironically, one of the most violent races in the galaxy also birthed one of the most peaceful, as a mutation within a sub-hive gave life to the shirrens, who broke away to form a new species. The Swarm is notorious not just because of the invasion that finally ended hostilities between the Pact Worlds and the Veskarium, but also thanks to the warnings of shirrens, who understand the Swarm’s might and its hunger as no other race can.

While individual components of the Swarm have some form of intelligence—or at least a set of complex programmed behaviors that resembles intellect—they cannot generally be reasoned with in any fashion. Swarm components rarely communicate with other creatures, as they see every alien entity as either a food source or a threat. The Swarm’s morale is unbreakable, and while individual components might retreat for tactical reasons, fear is utterly unknown to the Swarm and its components.

The Swarm rarely wields manufactured weapons, instead integrating biotechnology grown or grafted onto component creatures. Because of its constant genetic upgrading and experimentation, the Swarm encompasses components with a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and capabilities, from the mighty dreadlancers to the microscopic, bloodstream-infesting toxicytes.

Aliens in "The Swarm" Family

NameCR
Swarm Corrovox3
Swarm Dreadlancer11
Swarm Mindreaper7
Swarm Thresher Lord10

Swarm Dreadlancer

Source Alien Archive 2 pg. 123

Swarm Dreadlancer Tier 11

CE Huge starship monstrous humanoid
Speed 6; Maneuverability average (turn 2); Drift 1
AC 27; TL 24
HP 230; DT 5; CT 46
Shields heavy 240 (forward 60, port 60, starboard 60, aft 60)
Attack (Forward) super plasma cannon (3d6×10)
Attack (Port) micromissile battery (2d6)
Attack (Starboard) micromissile battery (2d6)
Attack (Turret) particle beam (8d6)
Power Core Nova Ultra (300 PCU); Drift Engine Signal Basic; Systems advanced medium-range sensors, crew quarters (common), mk 2 tetranode computer, mk 6 defenses, mk 8 armor; Expansion Bays guest quarters (2 common), shuttle bay;
Other Abilities fleet mind, living starship, void adaptation

Crew Actions

Engineer (2 actions) Engineering +20 (11 ranks)
Gunners (3 actions) gunnery +16 (11th level)
Pilot Piloting +21 (11 ranks)
Science Officer (2 actions) Computers +20 (11 ranks)

Ecology

Environment any vacuum
Organization solitary, pair, or grist (3–8)

Special Abilities

Fleet Mind (Ex) Like the individual Swarm components, Swarm starships are bound together into a singular hive mind through a blend of radio, quantum, and telepathic communication. All Swarm starships within 10 hexes of each other are in constant communication; if one is aware of a threat, all are. (Such awareness can spread along a “chain” of Swarm starships under appropriate circumstances, potentially alerting distant Swarm vessels.) Swarm vessels can also communicate telepathically with all Swarm creatures within 10 hexes.

Living Starship (Ex) A dreadlancer is a colony of symbiotic creatures so immense that it functions as a starship (and thus engages in only starship combat). Four central brains (represented as a tetranode computer) command a host of bioengineered Swarm components that act as a unified organism. These brains allow the dreadlancer to take crew actions using the skill bonuses, ranks, and level listed in Crew Actions above. Modifiers for the dreadlancer’s size, speed, and maneuverability are already factored into its statistics. Critical damage to life support instead damages the central brains, with the listed effect applying to gunnery actions, in addition to any penalties from weapons array critical damage. Critical damage to crew has no effect on the dreadlancer, due to the adaptability of its components.

Description

The myriad components that make up the Swarm act as a single-minded collective that consumes and incorporates other life. Individual components of the Swarm cannot be dissuaded from their tasks, sacrificing themselves if necessary. The Swarm has little regard for manufactured weapons, instead grafting biotechnology onto individuals or growing entire new subhives. Constant mutation has shaped the Swarm into many specialized forms, from microscopic parasites to bioorganic starships. The two Swarm components listed here are some of the more specialized Swarm evolutions.

Mindreapers are intelligence-retrieval components whose method of gathering intel is far from subtle: they use a bioweapon spike for lethal interrogations, impaling a victim through the brain and extracting neural tissue. Once the mindreaper has this brain matter, it can spend up to an hour extracting knowledge from it. In combat, soldiers of the Swarm support mindreapers in their duty. Rarely encountered alone, mindreapers bolster allies while neutralizing enemies with painful psychic feedback. Mindreapers are still units in the collective, but they show more initiative and adaptability. Swarm packs that contain mindreapers use more complex tactics than those without.

Swarm dreadlancers are a colony of Swarm components that form a living starship built around a plasma bioweapon. The vessel’s four brains allow damaged dreadlancers to repair themselves given time and access to materials. These brains can self-terminate if captured, and they can eliminate a brain showing rogue tendencies.

A dreadlancer’s internal components are noncombatants, but it can carry a complement of troops to repel boarders and engage in extravehicular missions. It also contains a Swarm transport shuttle. Use the statistics for the Ringworks Wanderer for this shuttle, except that it has the fleet mind and living starship special abilities. The shuttle has the listed ranks and bonuses, and it can take an engineer, gunner, and pilot action (one of each, in the appropriate phases). It cannot take captain actions.