Merciless Monsters 9: Kolera (a.k.a. Beetle People)

Close up photograph of a terrifying, and beautiful, Tiger Beetle. Photo be Ted Macrae
Photo of a tiger Beetle by Ted Macrae

The Kolera, or ‘Beetle People’ as they are commonly known, were not forged by the gods as other races were. Centuries ago they were created by a mad wizard who wished to enshrine herself forever in the annals of history. A mad wizard whose name has, ironically, been forgotten. She conquered and enslaved numerous villages of humans, and performed twisted magical experimentation on them to bring about a new and powerful race of creatures with insectoid characteristics. Poetic justice was served when the very abominations she’d created devoured her.

In the time since, the Kolera have proliferated, and are now commonly found inhabiting a variety of caves, burrows, and dungeons. Due to the mutations to their formerly human mouths, Kolera cannot speak common. They could understand it if they chose to study it, however they have little desire to deal with humans, or any other non-Kolera for that matter. They are an introverted people, who while not strictly isolationist, are extremely territorial and suspicious of outsiders.

Kolera live in tightly knit colonies, which are typically ruled by consensus. Though they are not hive minded, conflict rarely occurs within a colony. Social rules and the role of each individual appear to be almost instinctual in nature. and rare disagreements are either arbitrated by a third party, or settled by a non-lethal combat to establish the dominance of one party. Very rarely, one Kolera in a colony will rise to a position of leadership, and lead it as a king or queen. As with other aspects of Kolera society, this appears to occur instinctively. The leader knows their role is to command the colony, and the others of the colony know that they must accept orders from this ruler.

Young Kolera are hatched from eggs, and spend the first year of their life as large, starfish-shaped larva. From a distance, an adult Kolera could easily be mistaken for a human. They have a torso, arms, legs, and a head all in the same arrangement as their human forebears. It is up close when the alterations of the mad wizard become obvious. Kolera have large, lidless, compound eyes. They lack lips or a tongue, and instead have a large pair of pincers on each side of their mouth, and in place of teeth, they have dozens of prehensile ‘brushes,’ which funnel food directly into a stomach filled with digestive acid many times more corrosive than a human’s.

Instead of hair atop their head, Kolera have a large shell which serves as a natural helm. There are wings beneath this shell, but they are flightless. Instead they serve as a means of communication between Kolera. Similar shells form on the shoulders and knees. This is combined with hard plates growing on the chest and back, which altogether serve as natural armor for the creatures. Each of a Kolera’s wrists have a retractable antenae growing from them, which serve as a powerful sensory organ which can detect subtle traces of scent or texture which would be indetectable to a human. Instead of hands, Koleran forearms end with six opposed digits–three on one side, three on the other–which resemble large, powerful insect legs.

The lifespan of a Kolera is a mere 25 years. It is a flaw the mad wizard was never able to correct, and she suspected that the gods themselves had cursed her creation with brief life, because they were angered by her hubris. Whether or not the gods were angered that a mere mortal dared to create a new species, the Kolera believe it. Many colonies have attempted to earn the patronage of a deity, who might lift the curse and allow each Kolera to live longer lives. So far they have been unsuccessful, but it is unclear whether that is because no god is willing to life the curse, or because there is no curse and the Kolera are merely constructed poorly.


The creature ahead of you looks like an unholy amalgam of human and insect, fused together almost at random.

Kolera; CR 1/2; [Humanoid] [Caves, Burrows, Dungeons] [Active 12-16 hrs/day. Activity not relative to time of day.]

XP: 200
LE Medium Humanoid (Insect)
Init +2; Senses Darkvision 120ft, Perception +5


AC 18, touch 14, flat-footed 16 [10 + Dex(2) + Natural(4) + Shield(2)]
HP 8 (1d10 + 3)
Fort +5 Ref +2 Will -1;


Speed 30 ft.
Melee Spear; + 4 (1d8 + 3)(Piercing)(20/x3)(20ft. thrown)
Ranged Light Crossbow (Custom Grip); +3 (1d8)(Piercing)(19-20/x2)(80 ft.)


Str 17 Dex 14 Con 16 Int 11 Wis 09 Cha 07
BAB +1; CMB 4; CMD 16
Languages Kolaric
SQ Regurgitate Acid


Regurgitate Acid Kolera stomach acid is highly corrosive, and Kolera have the ability to vomit their acid out of their mouths. The process is not pleasant and takes about a minute to complete, so the ability is not viable to use in combat. However, it is frequently used to create hazards, or to destroy locks. The acid deals 1d6 damage per round to whomever it comes in contact with (including the Kolera themselves). An individual Kolera can produce about one gallon of stomach acid each day.


Environment Most commonly in farmland, where the necessary resources are plentiful.
Organization Band (6-12) or Colony (100-300)
Activity Cycle An individual Kolera is active for between 12-16 hours a day, but a colony of the creatures is often active 24/7
Diet Omnivorous. Smaller insects and meats from animals and humans primarily, but also a variety of algae and fungus
Natural Enemies Orcs do not get along with them well at all
Treasure Typical


+2 Strength, +2 Constitution, -4 Charisma: Kolera are physically powerful, but it is obvious from looking at them that something is not quite as it should be. These creatures were not created by the gods, and it shows in the small imperfections.

Darkvision: Kolera can see in the dark perfectly, up to 120ft.

Perception: the compound eyes of the Kolera allow them to see around them much better than most creatures can. This grants them a +4 bonus to perception checks.

Natural Armor: The hard carapace and shells which grow on a Kolera’s body serve as an effective suit of natural armor, granting a +4 bonus to Armor Class. Unfortunately these bulky plates also make it nearly impossible for a Kolera to be fitted for more traditional armor.

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3 thoughts on “Merciless Monsters 9: Kolera (a.k.a. Beetle People)”

  1. These are really neat! I like that they can be player characters, too! I was considering the Compound Eyes bonus to Perception and I like that, but maybe something else like a bonus to initiative checks during the surprise round might be good too, to represent that all-around vision.

    Also! Could you make armour from their carapaces? Like, would it be something they were hunted and killed for? Are the larva good eating before they gestate into adults? Inquiring minds (mine) want to know!

  2. My players currently include a half-orc sabre-toothed cat rider, an imp, a Minotaur and a boar-riding Kobold. One of these guys would fit right in!

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