Dipviras are a race of giant insectoids.
There are several known species of Dipviras, most of which are significantly different in their social organization, way of life, and appearance.
They are about 1.5 m high and 3 m long, but the size may vary considerably with the subspecies and type of individual.
Their intelligence and level of autonomy varies considerably between species and types, but is mostly primitive and based on fixed behavioural patterns. Queens and generals display some level of strategical reasoning, and a startling efficiency at organizing their underlings. Sky dipviras have more independence, but their empathy and understanding of other species is primitive, and viewed with human eyes they tend to be fixated with their choosen craft or skill, which they raise to high levels through a relentless trial and error procedure (they are bad at utilizing information found out by others though, so you won't find any libaries in a flying dipvira city).
Language and communication
Most dipvira species communicate internally in some way, although the exact mecanisms may vary depending on their environment and lifestyle. Mostly the communication concentrates on practical matters, such as where to find food, or the approach of potential threats. Dipviras in general do not use languages, relying more on a (sometimes complex) system of signals, a kind of proto-language. The ones that trade with other species (the Sky Dipviras) use the same trading protocol that they use internally, requiring merchants who wish to trade with them to learn the protocol (which involves display of wares, and usage of body posture and hand signals to settle on a price).
Dipviras are basically omnivorous, although different species may have specialized on specific food sources.
Forest dipviras live in some of the forest in northern Moraf. They build hives with six sided rooms with strong walls constructed from cellulosa. They also have a number of specialized, immobile workers helping to keep the hive operational by fanning air with wings, storing nectar in huge bellies, or processing trees carried to the hive by workers into cellulosa. Forest dipviras are led by a queen that controls the hive, the individual workers are not very smart.
Forest dipviras signal to each other mostly with scents, this way of communication also allows them to mark paths and locations in the forest aroung their hive with scent marks.
Burrowing Dipviras live in the hills and mountains in northern Moraf, among other places. They build underground tunnels and lairs.
TODO: Update to reflect that they have a burrowed lair?
Living in family groups of up to 30 animals, burrowing dipviras have small packs in the plains and hills of northern Moraf. A family group is usually ruled by a dominant female, the queen. Similar to the queen, a group of five to ten males guards the queen and the larva. The rest of the group is made up from non-adolescent males and females who take care of gathering food and hunting.
Most of the tribe will never reach sexual maturity, unless the queen or one of the males is killed. In a case like this one of the workers will discard it's childhood exoskeletton and evolve into the mature form. The same happens if a tribe gets too large, in this case a group of male dipvira will evolve into their mature forms, wander away and dig a new hive elsewhere. They will then embark on a search for a queen from another family group, usually by kidnapping one of the female workers.
These roaming bands of adolescent males in search for a new queen are really agressive, especially after capturing a female.
There is exactly three different types of burrowing dipvira, five if you count eggs and larva. The three insectoid forms are the queen, the males and the workers.
The lairs are initially created by males that seperated from their own lair due to overpopulation, or the like. Males have huge mandibles for fighting and digging. The small amount of digging required later is doable by the worker's claws.
All in all, the burrowing dipvira seem to have the least specialized types.
Burrowing dipvira have a thick carpace on top of their bodies to protect them in case of cave-ins.
Grassland or Prairie dipviras live in nomadic hordes led by a sultan, and include specialized concubines, warriors, generals (which may become sultans if they manage to kill the current sultan), haulers, and scouts. They have a relatively strict hierarchial society, where climbing the hierarchial ladder can be done by disposing of your seniors. They eat the land more or less bare where they go, and are usually on the move most of the time. Sometimes two hordes that meet may clash in a brutal war. zzorn made some concept sketches of prairie dipviras.
Prairie dipviras use their antennas for communication over long distances. The antennas have long colored hairs growing from them, forming a flat, colored surface, which can be folded together or moved and angled in different ways to signal scouted enemies or resources, to rely commands, or to assert ones or others status. The prairie dipviras are mostly active in daytime, stopping to camp in the night. They have good eyesight, although they tend to be a bit far sighted compared to humans (better distance vision).
Arctic dipviras are solitary and relatively small, covered by a thick white camouflage fur (similar to bees, but no contrasting markings). They live in cold climates, and may be active even in winter.
Arctic dipviras communicate very little with other dipviras, and have a simple behaviour and sound based signalling system.
Sky Dipviras are bewinged dipviras that live in colonies on the flying islands that are sometimes seen over the Sands of Syllus desert. They are slender but tall with varying metallic colored skin. They are more intelligent and cultured than the other dipviras, and specialize in a variety of crafts, some say even magic. They tend to focus more on working and perfecting their skills than waging wars or participating in politics.
Sky dipviras might use hand signals, sound, or movement as signals? Needs more thought. Also their social structure and specialized types need to be designed - it seems they are more independent than other types of dipviras, perhaps each individual may reach maturity? Perhaps they'd be living in smaller families, with one or more adults and their growing offspring? We'll need to analyse what kind of society would make sense from a genetic point of view, given their mating behaviour and types of individuals.
Relation to civilization
Various civilized societes usually see the hive or horde dwelling dipviras as a serious competitor to natural resources in an area, and will try to exterminate any new hives as fast as possible. Especially large hordes of nomadic prairie dipviras are devastating, as they are nearly unstoppable and consume most food in their path, including livestock and people. Dipviras can usually be found in more distant parts of countries, such as in the mostly unsettled northern part of Moraf.
The sky dipviras are appreciated for their craftmanship in the Sands of Syllus area, and are respected but infrequent trading partners.
Usage of dipvira chitin exoskeletons as raw material
Dipvira exoskeletons are made from around one inch thick chitin (the thickness varies depending on type of individual). The material is harder than bone, but more brittle, relatively lightweight, and sometimes has a very smooth surface, like teflon. The color is often interesting, sometimes metallic (in general dipviras are somewhat camouflage colored for the environment they live in).
It can be used to make various tools, jewelry, storage jars and bowls, and suits of armor (although the brittleness makes it somewhat impractical when facing heavily armed opponents). There might also be other technical applications. It would probably be too expensive to use as building material.
Dipvira exoskeletons or pieces of them may be seen as relatively valuable trade items, similar to tortoise shells or ivory, although in places with higher dipvira concentrations such as northern Moraf they will be more common and not as valuable.
It is not very easy to get hold of dipvira chitin, as hive living dipviras usually eat their own dead at their hives, so not many exoskeletons are found in nature. But if a party manages to take over a dipvira hive (kind of unlikely, unless it is very small), there should be a nice stash of these.
Working with chitin is a relatively demanding process, which limits its applications somewhat. The skill takes time to learn.
Forest and Burrowing dipviras are the ones that we will most likely first introduce to the game, so thus the ones most in need of concept art.
To get Burrowing dipviras into Mason, the following things are needed: