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July 23, 2017

Snippet: Casque Beetles

These shiny black beetles are about the size and shape of a half-helmet. Their queer morphology exists for a reason. Casque beetles live on a diet of humanoid brains. They eat, however, only once in a year. In their time between feedings, they like to find a brain and sleep on it (literally.)

Thus, if you happen to lie down for a rest in a nice, dry cave and awaken with a close-fitting beetle attached to your head, you have become its pantry. This is not altogether a bad situation, as casque beetles are durable, and may serve as a fine helmet for quite some time. The issue is, they don't really like to detach from a scalp, once attached to it. They will also eat your head, eventually. 

Removing a casque beetle may be troublesome. The creatures tend to gently and dangerously sink their claws into into their host-head when threatened with removal. They release their grasp only when the host's bloodstream carries a high quantity of alcohol. Casque beetles take this as a sign that their pantry is spoiling. Thus, one must become extremely drunk to remove their beetle headgear.

Author's Note

Once upon a grim (and mainly improvised) session of D&D 2E, my players made a miserable little camp in the drier side of a slimy Underworld cavern. Given the session was slowing down (and the Underworld needs weird things for drama's sake), a random encounter* seemed appropriate. 

Thus, a randomly-selected player awoke with a beetle on his head. After some careful investigation of the scalp-hugger**, the player of a more learned character asked if he knew anything of the insect. 

I dispensed the qualities of the beetle.*** Everyone seemed remarkably fine with the situation, given the armor bonus the creature provided. The beetle stayed with its host for several sessions,but left when he drank fifteen bottles of strawberry mead. 

*thing I make up on the fly when the players need to suffer more.
**poking and prodding
***not revealing I had just pulled this idea out of the ether.

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