[Approved] Sand Beetle

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Kaladis Anar
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Sand Beetle

Name: Sand Beetle

Also know as the Hkranrii, meaning sand pest in Umaya and the Qi'ora language.
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Original Image Credit: Bug Guide | Current Link
Quick Facts: A Small, Hardy Beetle, which flourishes in sandy climates, underground caverns, and coastal areas. Known for being a useful calming reagent to compliment more volatile potion making, poison making or healing salves. With careful extraction from a few beetles, a glue like substance can be taken for emergencies in the wild.

Height: Half an Inch
Width: One Inch
Length: One Inch
Weight: 50 Milligrams or 0.05 Grams
Native to: The Hotlands, Beaches, and Nearby areas.
Locations: Eastern Idalos, Warm Coastal Areas in the South, and North.

Appearance: Orange and Black striped in its natural form. With eight legs, two antennae, and large but ineffective eyes. The beetle has a hard shell, and two small but sharp pincers for attack and defense. Its pincers are sharp enough that they will cut the finger if picked up incorrectly, while its longer limbs are usually ribbed to allow for more easily maintaining its balance when climbing. The beetle has small front legs, which act as arms for rolling up its food to store for later, and when trying to scare off larger predators or danger, it will sometimes turn its shell a green hue to cause confusion in its attacker.

Habitat: Deserts, Beaches, and Underground Caverns in Moderate to Hot Temperatures. A frost or snow will kill most sand beetles that haven’t retreated underground. Where there is enough small insect prey, they can be found quite deep into the ground, and spend the coldest seasons often exclusively below the earth. The freezing temperatures of those same cold seasons that kill them, often preserve dead beetles for collection.

Lifespan and Development: Reaching maturity in 10 trials, sand beetles can live up to 200 trials, but are usually eaten well before this. This particular beetle type is only female, born fertile, and provided it has food, it lays eggs every 50 trials in clusters of three dozen or more. The strongest larva consumes the weaker ones, and for every clutch of eggs perhaps five beetles will survive to maturity.

As they reproduce fairly quickly, nature seems to balance this by making them a favorite food of birds, many of which find them delicious. In areas like the desert, there are fewer birds but also less food for the beetles. Where there is food, it is not uncommon to find a lot of beetles in a small area. Often times this is temporary and gives a migratory pattern with how the population fluctuates in the desert, always seeking out new sources of food, or surfacing in different locations where they find it. A skilled tracker can use this to tell how close he is to food or life in the desert, by how many beetles he comes across. On beaches seabirds can often be seen snacking on sand beetles, and outside of those beaches they lose their natural camouflage, becoming easier prey for many smaller land creatures.

Diet: Any insect smaller than itself, having a special preference for small eggs, often bringing it into contact with spiders in shady areas, flies eggs and mites are also a favorite food. They often store excess food in small holes in rocks, burying it for later. They excrete a sticky resin substance to both preserve their food when they coat it, and also to climb trees, rocks or other surfaces. The build up and storage of food is increased leading up to the rebirth cycle before the often freezing temperatures come. Once the resin is dried hard it becomes easier to break pieces off, remaining sticky on the inside, from the outside the beetle can pull out all of the food, or parts of the food as it needs.

Temperament: A lone predator, and one of the top on the smaller insect food chain. Spiders give it a good fight, as do groups of ants. It only attacks when hungry, defending its food stash or when fighting off predators, otherwise taking shelter in a dark or sandy environment, remaining inside its shell. It is intelligent enough to back off when outmatched and uses shade or burrows in the sand to its advantage. The Qi'ora call them Hkranrii, meaning sand pests, because near civilized areas they are often found storing their food in cracks in their stone houses, using the shade to keep it preserved for longer.

Abilities: Almost entirely blind, the beetle is tiny, but if you pick it up incorrectly its fast pincers can leave a nasty gash on your finger. As well as being able to climb vertically due to sticky resin secreted on its legs, and preserve their food with its arms, beetles have a harder top shell than almost any small insect can penetrate, often using this defensively. As well as being hard, the shell and harder areas of the beetle can be illuminated green, meant to startle any larger predator from attacking it while it gets away. This green glow from a cluster of beetles, can be the difference between life and death for a sailor in storm coming up on land. The sand beetle has two antennae that give it good sonic senses even underground, to a range of about 15 feet, but its poor eyesight makes it more vulnerable to predators that remain still or out of reach, and strike fast, such as a swooping bird. Able to make itself entirely orange or black depending on the light, this gives it another advantage underground, and especially in sandy terrain. Also able to regrow parts of its shell, if it’s not too badly damaged a beetle will sometimes recover. Limbs and other body parts do not regrow, the loss of one leg isn't fatal, but two or more usually spell the end for the beetle's coordination or ability to hunt out food easily.

Expert Alchemists, healers and poison makers know that a few crushed sand beetles add a calming effect to otherwise volatile, difficult mixes. You can sometimes find dried sand beetles in jars on market places for 7sn a piece, costing less in sandy climates or near the coast, but more further from these places. For an expert alchemist the beetle's ability to change color briefly can be worked into a potion to turn it green, by properly balancing how many to use. If an alchemist would like a fully green potion this can be achieved, but the effect is merely aesthetic in nature. An expert poison maker might find this of more use in masking the color of a certain substance.

For an experienced survivalist another option exists, the resin the beetle's excrete is harder to harvest directly, and so either requires you mushing together a lot of food they have saved to make the task simple, giving you a messy but usable glue, or instead harvesting it from a gland within the beetle used to hold it. Obviously harvesting anything from such a small creature is a difficult process, as just squashing a beetle will likely give you much worse quality glue. Taking a careful knife cut to remove the gland, you can make good quality glue this way, but this is not a fast process. You can get glue from dried beetles the same way, but in the city you'll probably have better options. Beetle glue in jars is rare but not unheard of, sold for 15gn a jar on average, making it an expensive option and time consuming order to fill. Situations where beetle glue might be favorable, is in repairing your tents in the wilderness, repairing damaged boats on uncharted or uninhabited islands, patching damage to clothing, gear like your saddle, or carts on the road if you run out of nails.

Credit: Kaladis Anar

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Original Image Credit Bug Guide | Current Link
Last edited by Kaladis Anar on Wed Mar 29, 2017 2:49 pm, edited 3 times in total. word count: 1321
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NPCs: Ralari - Alaya| Themes: Social - Dreams - Nightmares
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Kaladis Anar
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Sand Beetle

Golem wrote:Hey!

Like the look of this one. Just a few things I'd like to add for you to consider, specifically with regards to the uses section.

If they excrete a sticky substance, is there any way to harvest this substance and use it? Perhaps as glue, or to help seal tent seams and make it waterproof?

In that case, how hard is it to harvest from the beetles? Is it harvested while alive or dead? How much would it cost for that? Does it dry naturally, or is there a specific way that it must be dried? How does the beetle reopen it- is there a secondary secretion that loosens the glue, or does it just chew through?

Continuing on,

Their shell would definitely be a useful alchemical reagent- in the example given in the Alchemy writeup (courtesy of Malt) Eddrick could have used the powdered shell of this beetle. Is this something you like the idea of, or would you rather that when the beetle dies, the ability to colour change disappears along with it?

I'm sure I'll have more questions, but these are the ones that pop out to be right off the bat.
Thanks for the feedback :)

I've incorporated your suggestion about the resin as a glue option when you are in the field, and the color changing as a possible aesthetic touch to potions or poisons for experts in those fields. I added a section talking about how the resin dries on the outside, making it easily broken, while remaining sticky on the inside.

After reading poison cost, I upped the cost of the dried beetles to 7sn, as an average across idalos, more further from the coast or desert, and less closer to these areas. I put a jar of beetle glue at 15gn which is expensive, to reflect how hard it is to obtain pure glue, and making it rarer to be purchased in marketplaces where cheaper options exist. I also put another option for inexperienced people in the wilderness to just mush together any food stores of the beetles they find, for a messy glue option, while leaving it open for people to take time harvesting the glands if they want pure glue. Sailors whose boats need repair, or people camping might find taking the time to harvest the glands desirable as an example. I also added a line for sailors that they might use the flashes of the beetles in a storm to spot light if they are close to land, or about to wreck their ship on a beach.
word count: 434
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NPCs: Ralari - Alaya| Themes: Social - Dreams - Nightmares
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