So it turns out I have three copies of Grenadier’s larvae miniatures. My first came in a boxed set of dungeon monsters. (I painted the worm-ends green and the faces in regular flesh tones. I very scrupulously avoided reading the Monster Manual back then so I painted my monsters all the “wrong” colors.) The other two came later — one I think came from Scottsz and the other I picked up second hand at Spellbinder’s in Kent, during the brief period when they had a a really good downtown location and tons of space. Anyway I stripped them all and began repainting them, then kind of shelved things until Scottsz’s minis came last fall.
A couple of months ago I broke them out to represent some hallucinations in a one-shot playtest adventure, and I realized I still hadn’t painted them all. Anyway when I threw some grub-sized larvae into my regular game, I decided I needed to get the minis finished for use. I figure that any minis I’ve been “saving” had better get used because who knows if I’ll ever get to run another D&D campaign, right? So I thought about the logistics of using these minis where three larvae are all in one “space.” Suppose one is killed…do I place a little marker near it, or say” this one is just two larvae now” or what?
Obviously I needed more larvae.
I considered sawing apart one or both of the spares to get some “singles” but then it struck me that these would be really easy to make from scratch. So I rolled out a “worm” of Sculpy, with indentations to suggest segments, and I was going to sculpt some ugly little heads but then I remembered a large box of 28mm plastic minis from the “Lionheart” board game, and decided it would be much faster to use their heads. I ended up using just one of each of the troops in the Lionheart game (skipping the heavy infantry in full helms). So I just sculpted the worms and baked them, and then glued on the heads with Liquid Nails. (Liquid Nails is great stuff for conversions and scratch-building, because it dries hard but slightly flexible and can be sculpted a bit before it dries if you use fingers and tools that are wet. It dries faster than epoxies and less brittle than super glue, and less toxic than either. I’d still use epoxy to superglue for metal-to-metal joins, and when assembling models, though.) I maybe should have sacrificed more peasants to get bare-headed larvae but I really like the idea of having a mob of peasants. And in the end the helmeted larvae look pretty messed up too.
I especially like the idea of crowned king reduced to … this.
So anyway when I was looking them up again in the Monster Manual (after having painted them pale yellow/white like maggots) I was happy to see I got the color right and delighted to see that Gygax had established a whole economy of larvae. They can be made into imps and quasits by devils and demons, respectively, and there is a bustling trade in larvae. They are often harvested by night hags who use their supply to help keep their home plane of Hades under their control by selling or giving them to demons and devils. Larvae in the Monster Manual are the souls of the most evil humans, so night hags seek out evil people to slay and steal their souls.
In my setting I’m making the human soul a composite of two parts (the Gimlé soul and the Urth soul; they are normally bound together, and together they are both “immortal” like the gods themselves. In this state they can abide in Valhalla and other godly realms. But separated, the Urth soul grows into a larva and can be easily destroyed. The Gimlé soul, it is thought, could ultimately ascend to Gimlé (“High Heaven” in the Norse myth), but the soul is only supposed to be broken down into the two parts after Ragnarok. So what’s going on with the souls of those killed in Telengard? What happened to the Gimlé souls of the adventurers whose Urth souls were discovered on the stairs to level two?
Click to embiggen
BTW the title of this post refers to a morbid nursery rhyme sometimes called “The hearse song.” There’s some interesting stuff about it here and here. I bet larvae get tired of singing that.