A collective creature is a swarm of small animals or insects that has taken on a definite single shape. The individuals in the swarm merge together and act as a single creature, gaining the benefits of one body comprised of many parts. Some kind of strange natural magic binds the creatures together, giving them a rudimentary intelligence spawned from a hive mind. The form of a collective creature vaguely resembles the shape of the animal or insect from which it is made; the collective subconscious of the individuals forces them to align in a familiar configuration. Even though the collective takes on a recognizable shape, it is featureless and obviously formed of a writhing mass of individuals.
Though a collective is intelligent, it cannot speak.
“Collective” is an acquired template that can be added to any swarm composed of animals or vermin (referred to hereafter as the base swarm). A collective retains all the base creature’s statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Size and Type: The base swarm’s type changes to magical beast and it loses the swarm subtype. The size of a collective creature is determined by the number of swarms in its composition. A collective creature comprised of 1 swarm is Medium; a collective creature comprised of 2–3 swarms is Large; and a collective creature of comprised of 4 swarms is Huge.
AC: The individuals that comprise a collective creature are packed together in a dense mass. A collective creature gains a +4 natural armor bonus. This stacks with any other natural bonus the base swarm has.Hit Dice: All current and future Hit Dice become d10s. A collective creature has HD equal to the HD of the base swarm, plus one-half the HD of all other swarms comprising the collective creature. For example, a locust swarm has 6 HD. A collective creature formed of 3 locust swarms would have 12 HD (6 HD for the first swarm, 3 HD for the second swarm, and 3 HD for the third swarm).
Defensive Abilities: Because the creature loses the swarm subtype, it loses all the associated defensive abilities. It gains the following:
A collective creature has no clear front or back and no discernible anatomy, so it is not subject to critical hits or flanking. Reducing a collective creature to 0 hit points or lower causes it to break apart into its component creatures. Collective creatures are never staggered or reduced to a dying state by damage.
At will, a collective can break into its component swarms or even into individual creatures and disperse.
A collective creature is immune to any spell or effect that targets a specific number of creatures (including single-target spells such as disintegrate), with the exception of mind-affecting effects (charms, compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and morale effects). A collective creature rendered unconscious by means of nonlethal damage becomes disorganized and dispersed, and does not reform until its hit points exceed its nonlethal damage.
Speed: The ground speed of a collective creature is that of the base swarm or 30 feet, whichever is better. Flying swarms reduce their fly speed by 10 feet (minimum of 10 feet) and maneuverability decreases by one grade if it is good or better.
Attacks: A collective creature loses its swarm attack and gains a single attack relative to its animal or vermin type (the attack is usually a bite or sting). Damage for its attack is based on its size: Medium, 1d6; Large, 1d8; or Huge, 2d6.
Space/Reach: A collective creature’s space/reach is standard for a creature of its size:
Special Attacks: A collective creature retains all the special attacks of the base swarm, and gains the following. Saves have a DC of 10 + 1/2 collective creature’s HD + Con modifier unless noted otherwise.
A collective creature can occupy the same square(s) as a creature that fits within its space as a standard action (since the individuals can crawl all over the opponent). It cannot make any other attack in any round in which it engulfs. The collective creature merely has to move over its opponents, affecting as many as it can cover. Opponents can make attacks of opportunity against the collective creature, but if they do so, they are not entitled to a saving throw. Those who do not attempt attacks of opportunity must succeed on a Reflex save or be engulfed; on a success, they are pushed back or aside (opponent’s choice). Engulfed creatures take slam damage and are subjected to any other special attack the collective might have (poison, disease, and so on) each round on the collective’s turn. An engulfed creature is considered to be grappled and trapped within the collective creature’s body.
A collective creature can sling a clump of individuals from its body at a single target within 10 feet (with a 10-foot range increment). This requires a successful ranged touch attack. If struck, the target takes 1d6 points of damage. If the base swarm’s normal attack deals disease, poison, or any other such damage, its ranged attack does as well. If the attack allows a save to avoid or resist, the target can attempt a saving throw.
A collective creature automatically takes 1 point of damage each time it uses this attack since the individual components of itself used in the attack are either killed or scurry away.
Any creature attacking a collective creature unarmed or with natural weapons automatically takes 1d4 points of damage as the swarms comprising the collective creature bite, sting or otherwise attack the opponent. Large collectives deal 1d6 points of damage; Huge collectives deal 1d8 points of damage with their swarming body attack.
CMD: A collective creature cannot be tripped.
Feats: Same as the base swarm. If the base swarm has no feats, then the collective creature gains one feat, plus one feat every other Hit Dice of the base swarm. If the base swarm has a feat that no longer benefits it (say Weapon Finesse and after applying this template its Strength is higher than its Dexterity), it can swap that feat for another similar feat (in the above example, the collective would lose Weapon Finesse and gain Weapon Focus).
A collective creature can move through squares occupied by enemies and vice versa without impediment, although the collective creature provokes an attack of opportunity if it does so. A collective creature can move through cracks or holes large enough for its component creatures. Moving through small openings is a full–round action that provokes an attack of opportunity and the collective creature’s speed is reduced to 5 feet (1 square) until it is clear of the obstruction.