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Template Grafts | Universal Monster Rules

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

Swarm Corrovox3
Swarm Dredger (Troop)5
Swarm Mindreaper7
Swarm Thresher Lord10

The Swarm, Swarm Mindreaper

Source Alien Archive 2 pg. 122

Swarm Mindreaper CR 7

XP 3,200
CE Medium monstrous humanoid
Init +4; Senses blindsense (vibration) 30 ft., darkvision 60 ft., see invisibility; Perception +19


HP 90
EAC 18; KAC 19
Fort +6; Ref +8; Will +12
Defensive Abilities swarm mind; Immunities acid, fear effects


Speed 30 ft., climb 20 ft.
Melee arm spike +14 (1d8+8 P; critical staggered [DC 17])
Offensive Abilities trepan
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 7th)
1/day—haste, slow (DC 20)
3/day—force blast (DC 19), inflict pain (DC 19), mirror image, mystic cure (2nd level)
At will—mind thrust (1st level, DC 18)
Constant—see invisibility


STR +1; DEX +4; CON +2; INT +1; WIS +5; CHA -1
Skills Athletics +14 (+22 to climb), Mysticism +19, Stealth +14
Languages Shirren; telepathy 100 ft.
Other Abilities trepan analysis


Environment any
Organization solitary, pair, or pack (1–2 plus 3–6 Swarm corrovoxes)

Special Abilities

Arm Spike (Ex) A spike projects from one of the mindreaper’s hands. The mindreaper cannot wield a weapon with this hand, and it can’t be disarmed of this spike.

Swarm Mind (Ex) Members of the Swarm are bound together into a singular hive mind by a blend of exuded pheromones, imperceptible movements of antennae and limbs, electrostatic fields, and telepathic communication. All Swarm creatures with 30 feet 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 creatures under appropriate circumstances, potentially alerting distant Swarm creatures). In addition, once per round when within 30 feet of another Swarm creature, a Swarm creature can roll twice and take the better result on a saving throw against a mind-affecting effect.

Trepan (Ex) As a full action, a mindreaper can use its arm spike to pierce the skull of a helpless creature. The mindreaper makes one attack with its arm spike, scoring a critical hit if the attack succeeds. If this attack kills the target, the mindreaper siphons out a portion of the target’s brain along with an impression of the creature’s memories. A mindreaper can also use this ability to extract brain matter and memories from the remains of a creature killed within the last hour. This ability can be used only against living or recently killed creatures with a brain or close biological equivalent.

Trepan Analysis (Su) A mindreaper that has extracted brain matter with its trepan ability can analyze the memories stored within. Doing so functions as speak with dead, except the mindreaper has an hour after extracting the memories to ask the six questions, which need not be asked all at one time. Asking a question takes a full action. Only one mindreaper can extract memories from a given creature. A mindreaper can retain only one set of memories at a time; if it uses its trepan ability on another creature, any previously stored brain matter is lost.


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.