Hiveborn are a highly structed group of humanoid insects, each sharing enough traits to be categorized together but so varied that no two groups are exactly alike. Most commonly they live in communal hives with their kin being nearly (but not completely) identical to each other. They rarely need to cooperate with other world powers as they form their own powerful states if able to remain in an area for long enough, their hives eventually becoming like a metropolis in size. While not openly hostile towards other species, the survival of their hive takes priority over all other matters, even if it puts them at odds with forces greater than their own.

Filled Niches

The hiveborn are a species of exceptions, with every attempt to accurately catalog them falling just short of reality. For the most part, hiveborn fall into three major subspecies: Bee, Wasp, and Ant, based primarily on which of their insect ancestors their appearance and societies they most closely resemble. Though even this simple subdivision does not accurately depict the species as a whole, as there are rarer sub-subspecies within each category that will often blur the lines between each. Most collectives will choose the category they feel best suits them, as a helpful means for more easily communicating with others outside their hives.

Hive Minded

A common trait among Hiveborn (though not always a hard rule) is their hives. They are born into a massive society with thousands of family members all working towards the continued survival of their individual hive. Work towards this goal begins immediately after the hiveborn come of age, with their place in the societal structure being innately known. A queen presides over the hive but does not directly control it and is typically just a means to an end for keeping the hive populated. Many once believed the hiveborn were mentally linked and directed by the whims of the queen but the hiveborn refute this, explaining they simply understand instinctively what must be done to protect their hive. Their mindset is one of directness and they can often be paralyzed if given conflicting orders. They are usually more concerned about the life of the hive, considering their own lives worth little when compared to the survival of their sisters. When speaking with other hiveborn they can communicate complex ideas or grand sagas in a matter of seconds but the thoughts and ideas of the hiveborn are difficult to translate, following lines of reasoning that are foreign to many other species. Emotions are something they understand as an innate quality of most creatures but have trouble feeling and expressing the nuances of emotions themselves. Jealousy, resentment, elation, and even love are things they understand on an intellectual level but need years of development to “feel” themselves.

Fluid Cast

The cast system of a hive is at once extremely rigid and bafflingly fluid. Each member of the hive is expected to fulfil some sort of purpose and they do it to the best of their ability, even sometimes working themselves to death. While in a certain position, it is expected the hiveborn will stay in that position without complaint or aspirations of changing their post. A worker does not always stay a worker though. Depending on the needs of the hive they may become a soldier for a time, they may grow and lose wings, they may tend to the young, or even eventually become queen. If there is a need to be filled, it is done so seamlessly, with new hiveborn always ready to fill a new role. This is usually done with very little communication needed and no challenges to the changes. There are records of hostile displacements of royal hiveborn or even queens, though this is extremely rare. This filling of needs also extends to reproductive habits. The queen is rarely the only hiveborn who can have children, though their offspring comprise most of the hive population. All hiveborn have the ability to reproduce, either through fertilization or asexually. Eggs born from asexual reproduction will be more like a clone of the original, and less like an offspring. Additionally, hiveborn are not limited to any sex and can shift along the spectrum within a matter of days. This ensures the survival of the species as a whole, even in unforgiving environments or times of great conflict.

Dust In The Wind

Hiveborn have extremely short lives, with the max age being just over 30 years. Most live much shorter lives and some hiveborn live the entirety of their lives inside the hive. It is incredibly rare to see a hiveborn far outside the range of their hives. The most common of these outings are performed by hiveborn royalty, which are those whose genes are nearly identical with the queens, on diplomatic missions between the hiveborn and other species. There are also times when special soldiers will be sent out perform an important task for the hive. Tasks that require this kind of delicacy naturally give the soldier a great deal of freedom, something that can cause strain on their loyalty to the hive’s ideals as they learn more about the world outside. and occasionally a hiveborn worker will simply get lost, having to rely on their wits and the generosity of others to get back to the hive.

With such a short lifespan most Hiveborn consider their lives immaterial. Their contribution to the hive is all that matters to them. There is no desire for eternal legacy, no myths of boundless youth, and no records of individuals beyond the queen. When one dies, there is no sadness or ceremony, their bodies are either removed from the hive or recycled as food for the next generation. The only thing of permanence is the hive and hiveborn will give everything to keep it alive.

Song and Dance

The language of hiveborn is beautiful and complex, with each hive having its own dialects. While hiveborn have learned to speak common when interacting outside their hive, it is unnatural to them. Their actual language is expressed through a mix of pheromones, touch, dance, and fashion. Their language is the greatest form of art hiveborn have, all other forms being too immaterial to survive their rapid generations. A hiveborn is born knowing the most basic gestures and auras needed to communicate but it can take their entire lives to master the art of commination. The greatest ballads are given through this medium and even the most studious scholars of other species would not understand them without an interpreter. These performances typically recount epic battles of the hive, histories of the world outside, or fables designed to teach the morals of life within the hive.

While dancing and pheromones are important, the final piece to hiveborn communication is their fashion. A queen serves as the template for how the hiveborn will adorn themselves. Then each hiveborn is encouraged to individualize their own attire, so long as it is still closely related to that of the queen’s. This contradiction of regularity may seem strange to outside species, but it is simply a way of life and language to a hiveborn. This spark of individuality changes the nature of exchange, with the same gestures and pheromones meaning completely different things depending on the choice of attire. Each article of clothing is meticulously thought out and types of speech assigned to them. As such, only hiveborn can fully speak the language and even the aid of magic does not bridge this gap. Hiveborn in small communities or individuals will typically adopt nearby fashions but adapt them in ways that may seem directly contradictory to local customs. Because these types often travel great distances, their choice of attire can be wildly out of place when moving from one area to another.

Rogue Ones

Not every Hiveborn belong to a large colony. Some collectives more closely resemble villages or nomadic tribes. These groups steer clear of larger hives and rarely reach large numbers, doing just enough to maintain themselves. Even further removed are solitary hiveborn, an oxymoron and proof of the inability to succinctly categorize this species. These lone creatures speak and think in ways similar to other hiveborn but have no understanding or desire to be part of a hive collective. They are often limited in their scope, thinking only of what comes next. The live of these individuals is typically short, even when compared to the already rapid lifecycle of other hiveborn.


Hiveborn do not have names as they are typically understood, if they have one at all. Their names are a complex dance and signals that only other hiveborn can truly replicate. When dealing with species outside the hive they take the name of their position and see no reason to try and establish an individual name beyond that. The three most common are: Royal, Soldier, and Worker, though some other more specialized roles have been used as names.

Other Species

Hiveborn have a contentious relationship with most other species. As individuals, they are amenable and generous, understanding that cooperation with others is beneficial to the survival of their species. The hive, however, is a force of destruction even powerful civilizations struggle to combat. Hives will not go on an offensive without cause, but the cause is just as likely to be defense of their territory as it is an offensive strike for badly needed resources. They are not bloodthirsty or greedy though, taking only exactly what they need to survive, so many species have developed alliances with the hiveborn where resources are traded for protection.

Racial Traits

Though hiveborn have nearly limitless variations, there are a few traits that most share.

  • Ability Score Increase. Your Dexterity score increases by 2 and another score increases by 1 based on your job. A worker increases their Constitution, a soldier increases their Strength, and royalty increases their Charisma score. If your status changes, your body adapts rapidly, losing the previous bonus and gaining the new one after one week.
  • Age. Most hiveborn come of age within 6 weeks of being laid. It is extremely rare for one to live beyond 30 years.
  • Alignment. Good and evil are things hiveborn struggle to understand and they can cycle between them depending on the needs of their hive. Always they lean heavily into order and thrive in highly structured environments.
  • Size. Hiveborn can vary in size heavily but most stand hunched at 5 to 6 feet tall and can usually extend their height by nearly a foot by standing straight. Despite their size, they are remarkably lightweight; most weigh between 60 and 80 pounds. Your size is medium.
  • Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet. Performative Language. You gain proficiency in Performance. You can also speak hiveborn and another language of your choice.
  • More Arms. Your two midsection arms, barely noticeable appendages, are not equipped for standard battle; but can be used to interact with other objects. If an object would take a full action to use you can instead use it with a bonus action, so long as you can effectively use the item without devoting your full concentration to it. For example, you could open and administer a potion or retrieve an item from a bag but could not use an item that requires you to issue commands and/or concentrate on it like a spell.


Those of the bee subspecies are considered the most amenable of the hiveborn. Large hives will often maintain vast fields of crops, using the food and honey produced from them in trade with other civilizations. While it may be uncommon to see an adventuring bee, they are fairly regular sights at trading posts, always on the lookout for things that could increase the prosperity of their hives. They come in myriad colorations and forms, with the most distinctive being yellow and black stripes. Their bodies vary from plump and fuzzy to sleek and hard.

  • Flight. You have a flying speed equal to your movement speed. You cannot fly while wearing medium or heavy armor or while carrying more than half your body weight.
  • Sting. You can use your action to make an unarmed strike with your deadly stinger. The attack deals 1d6 piercing damage + your Dexterity modifier + 2d6 poison damage. Additionally, a successful attack will pull your stinger away from you, causing you to lose 1d8 hit points. The poison damage increases to 3d6 at 6th level, 4d6 at 11th level, and 5d6 at 16th level. You must finish a long rest before you can use this trait again, the stinger being replaced during your sleep.
  • Forager. If there is any plant life around, you can spend 1 hour harvesting food and pollen to create enough food to feed 1d4 people for 1 day.
  • Pollen Burst. You can use your action to shake free stored pollen on your body, spreading it in a blinding cloud 10-feet around you. Each creature in the cloud must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or be blinded until the end of their next turn. The DC for this saving throw equals 8 + your Dexterity modifier + your proficiency bonus. You must finish a long rest and use the Forager trait once before using this trait again.


Wasp subspecies are highly predatory and the most likely to live in small groups or completely isolated. They think very little of other life and some even have reproductive cycles that involve live hosts. Their ruthless pragmaticism often give them a bad reputation among other species but a wasp cares little for the opinions of others. Wasps resemble weapons incarnate. Their forms may twist in different shapes, but they always feature an air of danger. They are often a solid color, a shiny black or dull red, but can also mimic other species’ colorations or come in beautiful pearlescent glory.

  • Flight. You have a flying speed equal to your movement speed. You cannot fly while wearing medium or heavy armor or while carrying more than half your body weight.
  • Sting. You can use your stinger to make an unarmed attack for each use of the attack action you have, dealing 2d4 piercing damage on a successful hit. You are proficient with the attack and can use either your Strength or Dexterity modifier the determine the attack and damage bonus.
  • Exoskeleton. Your exterior is covered in hard plates. When not wearing armor, your AC is 10 + your Constitution modifier + your Dexterity modifier.
  • Menacing. You gain proficiency in the Intimidation skill.


The ant type is the most rugged of the subspecies. They can be found in nearly any climate and can make their homes in places that are extremely hostile to life. There are nearly no types of ants that do not belong to a hive, making their mindset the most orderly of all subspecies. They are not usually aggressive to other civilizations but see little reason for trade when they could simply overwhelm a foe. Ants rarely have any distinctive appearances, typically coming in a single solid color. They embrace this as a painter would a freshly primed canvas. Their art extends far beyond fashionable clothing and into beautiful designs carved into their very exoskeleton. The longer lived one is, the more amazing stories their bodies can tell.

  • Bite. You can use your action to bite a target with your powerful mandibles. On a hit, the attack deals 1d6 + your Strength modifier piercing damage. If your attack roll is equal to or higher than 20, you can attempt to grapple the target as part of this attack.
  • Exoskeleton. Your exterior is covered in hard plates. When not wearing armor, your AC is 10 + your Constitution modifier + your Dexterity modifier.
  • Navigator. You gain proficiency in Survival and have advantage on Survival checks when navigating through wilderness.
  • Powerful Build. When determining your carrying capacity or items you can move, you are considered one size larger.
  • Flight Variance. Some of this subspecies have wings. If this is the case for your character, substitute the Powerful Build feature for the Flight feature from the other subspecies.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Lasers & Liches: Tales from the Retroverse - Test Wave 3 Player's MTX Creator(s) Chris Lock, Lluis Abadias Copyright 2021

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