thri-kreen are dogmen in disguise



Apr 15, 2007 7:33:46
Anyone else dissappointed when they read in thri-kreen of athas. I remember at one point it recommended rewarding players for especially 'insectoid' roleplaying, but there's nothing particularly insectoid about their psychology!

As far as I know, real world insect behaviour comes in three types:

1) Solitary: The vast majority of insects just skuttle about on their own doing the basic requirements for survival. Their interaction with their own species consists of the occasional battle for territory and one-night stands.

2) Hive: Bees, ants, termites etc. The insects selflessly labour for the good of a huge, well organised colony in which the insects are divided into specialists. The fertile insects within the colony (the kings and queens) form a tiny minority and are given priority over all the others. The only time there is conflict within the colony is when there are too many fertile insects.

3) Loose 'democracy' (e.g. cockroaches): there isn't much in the way of social interaction between these creatures, but they do show co-operative behaviour. For example, a recent study shows that, if there is limited shelter, cockroaches will divide themselves up in the most fair and efficient way possible:

Thri-kreen don't follow any of these models. The species they most remind me of (in terms of their behaviour) are dogs/wolves.


Apr 15, 2007 7:59:05
You have to factor in the idea of sentience.
The Thri-Kreen are a hive-like insectoid, but with free will.
It's a paradoxical combination, but IMO it works.


Apr 15, 2007 10:28:21
There are other ways that a player might make their character seem insectiod then to fit there behaviour into a overarching social model. I think they mean it in a more individual way.


Apr 15, 2007 13:03:25
In what way do thri-kreen have a hive mind, according to the books? They have a very strong attachment to their tribe, especially their family 'clutch'. Most human societies are/have-been like this too. Perhaps in kreen societies certain traits are exaggerated slightly, but not enough for them to differ from humans any more than elves or dwarves do.

What other ways are there to play characters in an insectoid way? I brought up the different forms of real-world insect society because it is about the only clue we have as to how insectoid thinking is fundamentally different to mammal thinking. I can't recall anything about kreen emotions/society/behaviour that makes them different from mammals.


Apr 15, 2007 22:12:48
In what way do thri-kreen have a hive mind, according to the books?

I can't remember where I learned that off hand, whether it was from a book, or GM's words. But I seem to remember them being much like a hive creature.


Apr 16, 2007 3:38:04
Thri-kreen compete with each other for status within the tribal hierarchy. The good of the tribe is very important to them, but so are their own individual interests and especially the good of their own intimate family, their 'clutch'. That's no more of a hive mentality than humans have.


Apr 22, 2007 13:54:13
Kreen have a pack mentality, tokchak, and a hunt mentality, tikchak, which influence their behavior. I cannot recall offhand having read about a hivemind, which would be a shared intellect. However, they do have common racial memories that can be triggered by certain events, such as seeing the chakĀ“sa or an Avangion.


Apr 25, 2007 3:54:23
That may have been what I was (vaguely) remembering. Thanx Jon!


Apr 28, 2007 9:15:05
Again, none of those things are particularly insectoid :/.

Pack mentality and hunt mentality are certainly mammal-characteristics too. And as I've already said, the thri-kreen packs are much more like packs of dogs than anything insectoid.

Ancestral memory is a nice touch but not insectoid.


Apr 28, 2007 15:40:09
Maybe they evolved away from typical insect behavior...


Apr 29, 2007 1:13:10
The one thing we are mostly forgetting here is that any direct association with insects we attribute to the thri-kreen will create some sort of mindless organic automaton which lives solely for a hive mind, or for mere survival like insects do. Since you are applying intelligence to them, it's only logical that you'll have to compare them to more intelligent animals, in this case dogs. And while yes, there are a lot of similarities with them and dogs, there are a few things that make them quite different.
The first and foremost is their clutch mentality. While dogs live in packs and protect their packs, their personal survival is quite important to them, the thri-kreen consider themselves as mere limbs on a larger organism, that being their clutch. You really have to apply everything as it sets on the clutch mentality, converting anything that would apply to the individual in their minds as applying to the clutch. Example: A chaotic evil human cares nothing about anyone else around them, and lives to solely destroy and wreak havoc on anyone who isn't themself... conversely, a chaotic evil thri-kreen cares nothing about anything other than his clutch, and solely lives to help them destroy and wreak havoc on anyone that isn't a part.
In the end, that's as close as you'll get to insectoid without interviewing an ant or something, because one can only imagine what goes through the minds of intelligent bugs...


Apr 29, 2007 7:10:34
there are plenty of examples of human societies where individuals place the welfare of their tribe/secret society/political party/family/religion above their own individiual welfare to the extent that they will die for their companions. In fact I think this is an extremely common trait. Dogs eem even more pack-minded than humans, so I think an intelligent dog-based race would be even less individualistic than humans.

I suppose the difference with thri-kreens is that whereas humans come in a range of mentalities, from the afore-mentioned examples of self-sacrifice to psychotic selfishness, thri-kreen are all of the self-sacrificing variety.

How about this for an alternative version society that is (I think) hive-like enough to be genuienly insectoid and individualistic enough to be produce interesting characters for a roleplaying world:

Kreen society is divided into three main tiers: drones, princelings and monarchs.

As with ants, kreen larvae are all the same. How they develop is determined by the kind of food they are fed. If they are fed the 'royal jelly' they developing into princelings. Princelings have the potential to become monarchs.

DRONES: The vast majority of kreens are drones. The drones come in a variety of specialised forms from workers to warriors. They are intelligent, but like an enterprising or creative spark which means they are unable to innovate or improve themselves much. They are completely obedient to their hive-mother. All drones are infertile.

MONARCHS: Monarchs are the fertile members of the species. They are the absolute rulers of the drones they have produced.

PRINCELINGS: These kreen are not-yet-fertile monarchs-in-waiting. In contrast with the drones, they have a high degree of individualism, are creative and innovative. In general they wander the kreen world, and sometimes beyond, in service to the monarchs, and in their own little bands, trying to prove themselves or follow their own particular longings. Eventually they become fertile and have the opportunity to become monarchs.

For males this means they will attempt to woo a queen. The exact role of kings varies great between differen kreen races and cultures. For example, in some cultures, kings wander from hive-court to hive-court and never enter into any permanent role. In others, they will marry a queen and become her servant or co-ruler. In others, the queens are the servants of the kings. Perhaps in some races there are no males at all.

Females on the other hand, do not become fertile simply with age. Instead they must seek the favour of on existing queen. If the princess is successful, the queen will create a special cacoon from her own body. The princess is sealed in the cacoon and is slowly transformed into a queen. The eggs born of the new queen share genetic material from both the original queen, the new queen and whichever king fertilises the brood.

When princesses become queens, they gain a portion of the powers, memories and personality of the queen who enthroned her. Queens maintain a strong psychic bond with the older queens who enthroned them (as well as memories of all the deceased queens before them, becauses of the memories they have inhereited). In this way, hives are organised into families with close bonds by way of their queens. Closely-connected hives rarely dispute with one another because of the partly shared consciousness of their queens.

When a queen enthrones a new queen, she comes signficantly closer to death, making the decision to create an heir a difficult and infrequent one.

Not all princelings aspire to be kings or queens. For example, some become druids and abandon the courtly intruiges of kreen society. Others may simply choose to wander in non-kreen society forever.


In the crimson savvanah, the kreen societies take a huge myriad of diverse and complex forms. In some regions, the kreen live one-queen-to-a-hive. In the greatest kreen city, there are thousands of kings and queens of different species living permantly, surrounded by tens of thousands of princelings and hundreds of thousands of drones.

In some kreen cultures, hives are divided into the three simple tiers, while in others there are layers upon layers of subdivision. For example, some princelings may be divided into a warrior class and craftsperson class.

In general, crimson savannah kreen society is highly feudalistic, being a web of complex allegiances created by family relations and conquests.

In the Tyr Region, kreen society is much simpler, with hives rarely being small-scale and usually moving from nest to nest. Usually it will consist of one queen, a band of supporting princelings and kings, and a hundred or so non-specialised drones.

Okay I'd better stop there or this could go on forever . But yeah, that's basically how I'd prefer kreen to be.


Apr 29, 2007 15:34:12
Thri-kreen aren't really self-sacrificing, in fact I'd say they are less likely to sacrifice themselves then a large number of other races and classes (paladins and monks come to mind). They consider their clutch to be one organism. They'll be likely to sacrifice themselves as you would to let someone lop your arm off to save your life. To add to that, losing another member of the party is like amputating a limb to them, it's losing a part of their whole being. I think a closer analogy to them would be a character from comic books, Venom. He calls himself a "we" rather than an "I", simply because he considers himself and his host one and the same being. The same thing applies to the thri-kreen. Their clutch is as much a part of them as any organ or limb. So if they see it as a part of a better whole for the clutch, maybe then they'd see a reason to sacrifice themselves. Otherwise it's a completely different mindset.