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D&D General Hive Mind Evil?

Zardnaar

Legend
As the title says.

Basically if you had sentient giant ants or other insectoid race. They'll eat anything and consider humans and other humanoids as food?

How about if humans crossed a river (into their territory) and adventurers killed some.

As a response a queen (or 10) has breed up a large number of warriors and can win any war via attrition if nothing else.

The hives can't feed themselves except by expanding into humanoid lands. The humanoids can't feed them even if the PCs try for a diplomatic solution eg pay compensation with livestock.

Assume the hives also match the humanoids for magic whatever the magic level is. The Queens can breed Spellcasters.

What if the nom nom wars were also a consequence of the PCs being level 2 or 3 and killed the ants as part of an earlier adventure a'la B5 Horror on the Hill.
 

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keynup

Explorer
Evil would be having a choice and doing something that causes suffering.
Are the insects more efficient than humans?
Do they farm crops?
Do they farm meat? If so does that include humans?
How much individuality do they have? If not much then kill a couple wouldn't only cause that threat to be stopped. But if individuals more so than they might want revenge.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Evil would be having a choice and doing something that causes suffering.
Are the insects more efficient than humans?
Do they farm crops?
Do they farm meat? If so does that include humans?
How much individuality do they have? If not much then kill a couple wouldn't only cause that threat to be stopped. But if individuals more so than they might want revenge.

I would imagine they are essentially hunter gatherers restricting their numbers to a sustainable level.
 

But would a giant ant society bound together with a hive mind consider the slaying of a few drones to be significant? Sure, if the PCs were continuing into the ants' territory and using up their resources - or worse yet, if they killed a queen (who really matters to the hive) - I could see them going into a battle frenzy. But part of the deal of a hive mind with drones is that drones are interchangeable and rather insignificant; as long as the ant colony as a whole wasn't in danger I think the loss of a drone or two is just a part of normal day-to-day business.

Johnathan
 

Zardnaar

Legend
But would a giant ant society bound together with a hive mind consider the slaying of a few drones to be significant? Sure, if the PCs were continuing into the ants' territory and using up their resources - or worse yet, if they killed a queen (who really matters to the hive) - I could see them going into a battle frenzy. But part of the deal of a hive mind with drones is that drones are interchangeable and rather insignificant; as long as the ant colony as a whole wasn't in danger I think the loss of a drone or two is just a part of normal day-to-day business.

Johnathan

The Queens are sentient and would perceive intruders as a threat.

Not sure on how sentient the drones are. The hive mind might be more for communication.
 
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Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
A lot of ant species will wage continuous war on other ants, so I guess the question to me of evil vs neutral is partly going to depend on that. Do they hunt down and kill other sentient races to reduce the competition? Then for all practical purposes they are evil. Do they just hunt to survive and simply don't distinguish between sentient and non-sentient? Then that's leaning more towards neutral for me.

Ants can do a lot of amazing things you might want to consider for flavor including disguising themselves as other types of ants through scent, take slaves, paralyze enemies to feed on later, bringing back dead bodies (or just the heads) or even act like parasites that invade a society to live of of their food and so on.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
A lot of ant species will wage continuous war on other ants, so I guess the question to me of evil vs neutral is partly going to depend on that. Do they hunt down and kill other sentient races to reduce the competition? Then for all practical purposes they are evil. Do they just hunt to survive and simply don't distinguish between sentient and non-sentient? Then that's leaning more towards neutral for me.

Ants can do a lot of amazing things you might want to consider for flavor including disguising themselves as other types of ants through scent, take slaves, paralyze enemies to feed on later, bringing back dead bodies (or just the heads) or even act like parasites that invade a society to live of of their food and so on.

Yeah may not be ants just used it as an example.

Just an idea atm.
 

D1Tremere

Explorer
Evil would be a subjective label based on human cultural norms that would no doubt be retroactively applied to the ants in order to make it easier to incur upon their territory. Even if they are sentient, the Ant queens would have their own way of thinking and cultural norms that would likely be very alien to humans, so there is no telling how they would label the situation or even if they would.
 

I don't see why being a hive mind changes anything. It's still a question of what the motivations and the goals of the hive mind are. It doesn't really matter what the condition of the individual is, hive mind or otherwise.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
I would imagine they are essentially hunter gatherers restricting their numbers to a sustainable level.

So, I don't see how, "restricting their numbers to a sustainable level" is consistent with "cannot feed themselves except by expanding into humanoid lands". If they need to expand, their current situation is, by definition, not sustainable.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
So, I don't see how, "restricting their numbers to a sustainable level" is consistent with "cannot feed themselves except by expanding into humanoid lands". If they need to expand, their current situation is, by definition, not sustainable.

Explained it earlier. Human adventurers/explorers/settlers have gone into their lands and liked some.

The Queens have laid more eggs that have hatched with more hatching soon.

So diplomatically asking the Queens not to expand means they starve.

Whatever the humanoid races are they don't have the resources to feed them either.

From the Queens PoV the humanoids are the resources after the humanoids provoked them and killed their workers.

The incident happened a year or so ago and they've ramped up egg laying in the intervening time.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
Explained it earlier. Human adventurers/explorers/settlers have gone into their lands and liked some.

Some? Like, a dozen? Like a thousand? How many extra are these queens making that the human lands can't even produce food to cover them?

The Queens have laid more eggs that have hatched with more hatching soon.

So diplomatically asking the Queens not to expand means they starve.

But, in a hive mind, the lives of individuals isn't terribly important. Individuals are disposable.

Normal insects don't care if they lose a few. That's part of the point of having a high reproductive rate - losses are expected, the price of doing business. If they lose a few, they are quickly replaced and it is like nothing ever happened. They don't respond to the loss of a few with a sudden overpopulation action that requires massive expansion of the hive. That is not sustainable or reasonable.

Unless the queens have reason to see the incursion as an act of aggression that's going to continue. But then, that overpopulation is for a purpose - war. And again, if the war is averted and those die... well, most of them were expected to be lost in war anyway.

From the Queens PoV the humanoids are the resources after the humanoids provoked them and killed their workers.

Humanoids are not good resources. We take nine months to produce one small offsprig, and a couple of decades to reach full size, and that's not very large. And we are clever and tend to cause difficulty. Humanoids make lousy cattle. Especially when real cattle exist.

Which is not to say you can't have the ants/whatever act this way, but then you are into "varelse" territory - they are acting as you say, for reasons the mammals cannot understand, and then you don't need to justify it with reason.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Funnily enough, Enworld has already explored this scenario back in 2003 via the Formian Invasion of Cressia which was part of RangerWickets Fantasy Arms Race. Formians use Myrmarch and Taskmasters to coordinate the otherwise mindless drones and workers.

The links there if you want to check it out for inspiration - or not :)
 


MarkB

Legend
As pointed out previously, the killing of a few individuals doesn't really register as particularly terrible to a hive mind, because they're disposable parts of a single organism.

But this also means that a hive mind may not comprehend the concept that killing a few (or even a few dozen) individual humanoids would be particularly terrible, because the hive mind doesn't understand the concept of individual sentience - quite possibly doesn't even have the frame of reference to understand it. That's a fairly common trope in fiction that includes hive minds.

Whether the hive mind is acting out of evil or simply ignorance is probably somewhat immaterial to the rulers whose people it is killing.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Some? Like, a dozen? Like a thousand? How many extra are these queens making that the human lands can't even produce food to cover them?



But, in a hive mind, the lives of individuals isn't terribly important. Individuals are disposable.

Normal insects don't care if they lose a few. That's part of the point of having a high reproductive rate - losses are expected, the price of doing business. If they lose a few, they are quickly replaced and it is like nothing ever happened. They don't respond to the loss of a few with a sudden overpopulation action that requires massive expansion of the hive. That is not sustainable or reasonable.

Unless the queens have reason to see the incursion as an act of aggression that's going to continue. But then, that overpopulation is for a purpose - war. And again, if the war is averted and those die... well, most of them were expected to be lost in war anyway.



Humanoids are not good resources. We take nine months to produce one small offsprig, and a couple of decades to reach full size, and that's not very large. And we are clever and tend to cause difficulty. Humanoids make lousy cattle. Especially when real cattle exist.

Which is not to say you can't have the ants/whatever act this way, but then you are into "varelse" territory - they are acting as you say, for reasons the mammals cannot understand, and then you don't need to justify it with reason.

Thousands I'm guessing.

Think Roman empire with the Rhine but instead of Germanic tribes you have insect folk.

They don't plan on farming humans they're protein right here and now. If they say depopulate northern Gaul they have enough land to return to previous behavior.

PC actions can prevent this. The scenario I suppose is another sentient species that can out compete and produce humans (or Elves, Dwarves etc).

Humans have wiped out species sometimes deliberately. Another species might see us the same way.
 

Zardnaar

Legend
As pointed out previously, the killing of a few individuals doesn't really register as particularly terrible to a hive mind, because they're disposable parts of a single organism.

But this also means that a hive mind may not comprehend the concept that killing a few (or even a few dozen) individual humanoids would be particularly terrible, because the hive mind doesn't understand the concept of individual sentience - quite possibly doesn't even have the frame of reference to understand it. That's a fairly common trope in fiction that includes hive minds.

Whether the hive mind is acting out of evil or simply ignorance is probably somewhat immaterial to the rulers whose people it is killing.

Fantasy hivemind the drones might also be sentient.

Tosculi from Midgard are a PC race and any PCs have gone rogue.
 

If you're looking to insert some "evil" into a hivemind insect race, maybe the creation of a new queen of their species requires the implantation of an egg into an intelligent host, which might need to be paralyzed and made helpless in the nest while the implanted queen larva grows inside, eventually eating her way out into the open (and killing the host quite painfully). You might make this a parallel to illithid ceremorphosis (at least for the creation of new queens - the drones might come about via normal egg-laying). So while the PCs intruding into the hivemind's territory and slaying a few of their drones might not have been an act requiring retaliation, now that the hivemind is aware of a new race (or races) compatible with their queen-birthing needs....

Johnathan
 

MarkB

Legend
Fantasy hivemind the drones might also be sentient.
Okay, but are they like Mind Flayers where the individuals are sentient, but the Elder Brain is an individual being that exerts control over them? Or are they more like networked computers, where the individuals interlink to become a single shared consciousness, without necessarily any central being?

And I still don't really know what you're asking in the OP. Are you asking for opinions as to whether a hive mind in this general situation would be evil? Or are you looking for ways in which to make it evil?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Yeah may not be ants just used it as an example.

Just an idea atm.
I still like the idea of giant ants (or whatever hive-mind you have) as infiltrating the local communities, taking slaves, being a fantasy tangent emulation of the Borg. If you want them to be evil, of course. Because, really, your question is kind of pointless. Are they evil? Well, being a hive mind doesn't make them inherently evil. They can be if you want them to be, what makes the most sense for the story?
 

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