Have a COW (Creature of the Week) #18: Dread Queen

Last week we talked a bit about the Dread Harvester, the creature in the Dreadverse that takes poor unsuspecting living beings and turns them into Dread Hollows. Well, this week we’re going to talk about the queen.


Design Thoughts

Of all of the Dread creatures, the Queen is definitely the most like the classic Aliens queen. She’s the Monarch’s emissary and the brains behind a planetary assault, answering only to her planet-ness herself.

At one level, the Queen is merely there to lay eggs and create a workforce to conquer a world, but I think that’s an oversimplification.

Consider for a moment how much information is running through a hivemind at any given time. Sure, you may have some input from the Monarch from time to time, but look at how fast it scales…

  • Monarch = 1 supermind
  • Queen plus 2 Brutes = 3 minds
  • Harvester = single-minded creature
  • Soldiers = one mind each

Right there, you’re dealing with 5 minds before you get to the soldiers. Add 5 soldiers and you double it. Add 100 hollows and wow that’s a ton of information. The Lord, who is essentially the network administrator for a world taken over by the Dread, can throttle the network a bit and has full access to everything the Queen does — but the Queen is really the intelligence running the hive once everything gets up and running.

Once the Brutes are running around, they are sending back information about what they see and sense. Harvesters and the soldiers are doing the same things. And as more and more information comes in about a world, she begins to get a more complete picture of the world they are starting to conquer.

The Queen can change any Dread’s path at a moment’s notice. Hive is being attacked from a particular direction? She redirects Hollows and Soldiers to counter-attack. A Brute finds a herd of creatures full of life and perfect for hollows? She directs them to use all their resources to begin capturing and draining them one at a time until she needs to find more.

I’ve pondered the idea of Brute Generals in the Queen’s army beginning to develop their intellects the longer an invasion goes on, but ultimately the success or failure of the hive falls to her.

Creature – The Queen

Each hive has a single queen and it lives or dies with her. She arrives in a meteoric crash, with enough energy to lay two eggs before entering a form of hibernation. The two brutes who grow from those first two eggs are her first loyal followers and her bodyguards, protecting her as she regains her strength and they begin the process of conquering a new world.

They will alternate guarding and searching for food, looking for different victims to bring back to fuel their Queen. As she becomes strong again, she lays more eggs — at the very least, a single Harvester and an army of Soldiers that will grow her army.

Usually the Monarch will toss a Queen and a Lord simultaneously into the void along the same vector, but sometimes one will land on a world of her choosing and the other will not. In such cases, the Queen is able to lay an egg to spawn a Lord who will burrow into the world to provide energy to the hivemind connecting them all.

Without a Lord, the Queen must rely on her army to more directly take care of their mission on the surface. She is much more effective with the benefits that the hivemind provides.

Queens are enormous, tough, and grotesque with numerous protuberances and growths across her carapace. She has the will to do her Monarch’s bidding and the drive to ensure that her Hive will survive.

  • Dread Queen (Super-level): Attribute 15, Traits: Legged (20m), Acid Blood (sprays acid blood when cut, d6+2 damage, 2 points ongoing each round until removed), Tough Bastard (doubles HP), Observant, Sprinter, Tough Hide (AR2), Tactics (+1 Education, will direct Dread to swarm opponents), Enhance (can add a Trait to an egg she is laying), Hivemind, Leadership

A few notes about the Queen:

  • If attacked directly, the Queen will summon every member of the Hive to protect her.
  • If the Queen dies, there is no way for the Hive to reproduce additional Dread (Lord, Harvester, Brute, Soldier), but if a Harvester remains, the Hive can limp along by creating new Hollows.

These creatures are willing to do anything to protect the hive and the Monarch’s mission. There may be only one in a hive, but don’t underestimate them!

Looking for more creatures for your Aliens & Asteroids campaign? Check out the rest of the Creature of the Week series!

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