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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
Antecursor3
Ceretoram9
Convecyte2
Dissolver11
Dramovire8
Dredger1/2
Effigene5
Escutchide5
Molitera6
Nauphage2
Pyschovox12
Revulsor4
Swarm Corrovox3
Swarm Mindreaper7
Swarm Thresher Lord10
Vorphoma1
Xersk16

The Swarm, Xersk

Source Alien Archive 3 pg. 106

Xersk CR 16

XP 76,800
CE Medium monstrous humanoid
Init +3; Senses blindsense (vibration) 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft., see invisibility; Perception +33

Defense

HP 255
EAC 29; KAC 30
Fort +14; Ref +16; Will +21
Defensive Abilities Swarm mind; Immunities acid, fear effects

Offense

Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft., fly 30 ft. (Ex, clumsy)
Melee claw +25 (6d8+19 S)
Offensive Abilities demoralizing gaze (60 ft., Will DC 24), siphon fear
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 16th)
1/day—mass inflict pain (DC 26), mind thrust (6th level, DC 26)
3/day—crush skull (DC 25), feeblemind (DC 25), greater command (DC 25), greater synaptic pulse (DC 25)
At will—fear (4th level, DC 24), mind thrust (4th level, DC 24)
Constant—see invisibility

Statistics

STR +3; DEX +3; CON +5; INT +7; WIS +10; CHA -1
Skills Acrobatics +28 (+20 to fly), Athletics +28 (+36 to climb), Sense Motive +33
Languages Shirren; telepathy 100 ft.

Ecology

Environment any
Organization solitary or cult (1 plus 5–30 Swarm creatures)

Special Abilities

Demoralizing Gaze (Su) A Swarm xersk’s numerous unblinking eyes sow doubt in the minds of creatures that look into them. A non-Swarm creature within 60 feet of the Swarm xersk that fails a DC 24 Will saving throw gains the shaken condition for 1 round. This is a mind-affecting effect.

Siphon Fear (Su) As a standard action, a Swarm xersk can establish a parasitic psychic connection to a single creature with the shaken, frightened, or panicked condition. A target creature must succeed at a DC 24 Will saving throw or the Swarm xersk latches onto it mentally and begins siphoning the victim’s fear; if the creature gained the condition from one of the Swarm xersk’s spells or abilities, it takes an additional –2 penalty to this save. At the beginning of an affected target’s turn, it takes 2d6 damage, and the Swarm xersk regains Hit Points equal to half that amount (minimum 1). A Swarm xersk can be simultaneously attached to a number of victims equal to half its Wisdom modifier (5 for most Swarm xersks). An affected creature can attempt a new saving throw at the end of each of its turns to break the psychic connection and end the ability’s effects. The effects of siphon fear end automatically if an attached creature’s condition is removed. This is a mind-affecting effect.

Description

There is a seemingly infinite variety of Swarm components, as the species adapts and creates specialized spawn to counter the many obstacles it faces in its effort to devour the galaxy.

A Swarm dissolver’s main focus is to protect smaller Swarm components and provide an impenetrable front line during combat, incinerating the most formidable foes while also accompanying corrovoxes, mindreapers, and other Swarm shock troops when they swoop in to clean up after a battle. A dissolver’s exoskeleton is thicker than that of most other Swarm creatures, but its most prominent offensive feature—sturdy horns that curl back toward the dissolver’s body— are surprisingly not its primary weapons; these horns instead function as a last-resort defense, allowing a dissolver to fling enemies away with a mighty shove. A dissolver’s main mode of attack is actually hidden between its mandibles: two vascular conduits pump highly corrosive and combustible chemicals from within separate glands in the dissolver’s abdomen. These chemicals are inert when separate but explode when combined, in a conflagration of acid and fire. Like many other Swarm components, a dissolver bears a set of insectile wings, but they aren’t powerful enough for the massive, heavy creature to fly.

Swarm xersks are a rare sight, and in fact only a handful have been seen by members of other species who lived to spread news of their existence. These creatures rarely resort to physical attacks, instead relying on their potent psychic abilities to mentally assault and frighten intelligent creatures.

These bizarre Swarm components have large, crested heads covered in a horrifying array of staring eyes. Those who look into a xersk’s eyes for even a few seconds begin to question reality, and may eventually lose their hold on it altogether.

Superficially, xersks appear to exhibit more free will than most Swarm components. They can often be found alone, quietly observing a geographical feature or distant constellation. Despite this odd behavior, xersks are still very much a part of the Swarm’s hive mind, and like every Swarm component, they act solely to further the Swarm’s machinations, no matter how nebulous their demeanor might seem to outside observers.