The Deep Apiarist is one of the classes from Heart, our upcoming RPG. Check out the Kickstarter here.
THE DEEP APIARIST
The Heart is a parasitic dimension – one of chaos and disorder that manifests as blood, and bone, and ever-changing boundaries. The Deep Apiarist is the antithesis of the Heart; both a vessel for and part of an otherworldly megaconsciousness called the Hive, a primordial force of order that takes the form of thousands upon thousands of glyph-marked Deep Bees. They keep the bees – in hives, and within their wax-filled bodies – and do their best to keep the Heart at bay.
The Deep Apiarist is a magical weirdo. Are most of the classes in Heart magical weirdos? Yes. But they take it to a new level, we’d like to think. Their core ability represents the fact that they’ve plumbed their mind into something otherworldly and terrible; at the start of every situation, they clear all stress from Mind as the Hive dissipates it through itself. However, they can never receive Mind protection, or remove stress from Mind in any way aside from using their core ability. Which makes them an interesting blend of fragile and sturdy; they don’t need to worry about going mad so long as they can catch their breath for a minute, but they can’t stop stress from coming in.
Also, crucially – and there aren’t rules for this bit, it’s just a thing that happens – every Deep Apiarist is partially filled with bees. You can take advances to give the bees specific powers and abilities, but as standard, at least one of your organs is a wax copy made and operated by the swarm.
There are two main strands of ability in the Deep Apiarist class. Firstly, there’s the way that they’re the opposite of the Heart – we wanted to double down on the fact that the Hive is as otherworldly as the Heart Itself, and opposed to it, whilst being completely distinct from drow, humans, aelfir etc. This manifests as powers which let them control probability (making Risky or Dangerous actions safer) or just outright stating what they want to happen and, through clever manipulation of sufficiently advanced bee technology, making it so. Or maybe you want to tear through heartblooded creatures; the ANNIHILATION ability turns your body into a living engine of unchaos that burns away the Heart with a touch.
Secondly, there’s the way that they’re full of bees. (Obviously.) We toyed with the idea of giving them a Mind heal power by making honey in their chest cavity for a while but that’s too gross even for Heart; so instead they can choose to create sacrificial bees whose narcotic sting brings sweet oblivion. Or spread their consciousness out through the swarm, seeing through a hundred compound eyes. Or just set their bees on people.
The ultimate expressions of the Deep Apiarists’ power is crystallisation; to encase something of the Heart in unbreakable hexagonal mineral and leave it there forever. So you can do that, and permanently stop anything you don’t like, but the strain of manifesting means your consciousness is lost entirely within the Hive. Alternatively, if you’re tired of a haven misbehaving – being full of unpredictable people, shifting in position around the Heart, riven with internecine conflict – you can take it over and become its Queen, and watch it fall into perfect order.
Or maybe you just become a swarm of occult bees and can never die.
Hello. My name is Grant Howitt and my favourite kind of monster is where you have lots of little monsters inside a larger monster.
There’s something horrific about it. I first came across it in World of Darkness – there’s a monster which is a load of rats inside someone, and they fight magical extradimensional spiders, so you can see some overlap with our Order versus Chaos trope too. I would also like to give credit to The Secret World, which has extradimensional bees who fight… extradimensional dirt? Flies? It’s not entirely clear. No new ideas under the sun, anyway.
The Deep Apiarists themselves originated in Black Magic, a sourcebook for Spire, in which they were an extra advance that any character could take (if they wanted to fill themselves full of bees). We were toying with making it a full class for a while but, as far as revolutionary efforts go, there’s not a lot of room for a buzzing weirdo whose primary job is to counteract the energies of the Heart.
There’s a lot of room for that in Heart. So; we took what they had in Spire and extrapolated on it, widened it, tried to offer a bit of variety. Also, we wanted to underline the fact that the Hive isn’t benevolent (or malevolent) towards people in general – it’s an outsider, something that can only exist in very specific terms, and it craves structure and order. It uses Deep Apiarists like armoured personnel carriers on the front lines of a war, and one of the fun things about playing one is to toy with the divide between yourself and megaconsciousness you’ve become a part of.