Bee Swarms - how many dice do they get?

Here’s the situation: Sharpstone Tower is a guard outpost between Barkstone and Pebblebrook. It’s mid-spring, and nobody’d heard from the tower’s occupants since last fall, so the patrol’s mission was to go figure out what’s up.
When the party got there, they discovered that the tower had been infested with bees. They’d received information that only two of the tower’s three guardsmice had made it out, and so they hatched a plan to have one mouse disguise her scent with nectar and pollen applied to some wooden armor so she could infiltrate the hive and see if anyone was left alive in there.

This was where I started to run into problems. I figured this ought to be Scout vs. the bees’ Nature. However, the book only gives bees a nature of 2. 2? That’s it? For sneaking into a bee hive? Past a whole swarm of bees? Surely that’s for only a single bee? But if I gave the bees helping dice, the PCs would be rolling against an order of magnitude beyond reasonable.

I decided to give the bees a single helping die for a total of three dice, which meant that she passed the versus test with ease, but it worked out okay anyway. I had a lot of fun describing the dark, confined, honeycomb-walled hive, the incessant droning, the bees crawling all over everything, and so forth. In the basement, she found the missing guard mouse barely alive and mummified in propolis. She missed the Will test to free the trapped mouse without losing her nerve, so I described her grabbing the mouse, losing her wooden armor as she fled the hive, and emerging into the rainy evening with the mouse in her arms but several bee stings in her back, making her Injured. The angry swarm only got one success pursuing the party as they fled, making that test pretty easy as well. (I decided not to do a chase conflict since we were running late and everyone was getting too tired to play.)

That was the GM turn, and the player turn was mostly spent licking their wounds, getting the rescued mouse to a doctor, and preparing for the oncoming blizzard that their failed Weather Watcher had predicted. So next session, they’re likely to go back to deal with the bees. And this time, I want the bees to be ready for them. Versus 2 dice isn’t enough of a challenge! But I’m still not sure how I should be handling this. How many dice do I give a whole hive of bees? What happens if there’s a conflict? Should I just pick some number of bees that seems reasonable, let them help each other, and assume the rest of the bees are too busy to get involved? Eight bees is hardly a swarm, but already pits the party against 9 dice in versus rolls.

In comics, if i don’t remember wrong, Mouse Guards in Lockhaven defeated a whole army with a bee swarm from their bee farm. So i think the nature of bee swarm are lot larger than 5. But as a GM i think you can decide an appropriate level of nature by your self. Other way is making a certain number of bees help themselves, as you did.

Beeeees! Thousands of beeeeeeees!

Not the beeeeeeeeeeees!

Ahem. Sorry, that wasn’t terribly helpful.

Helping dice sound right here, although I wouldn’t run it as a versus test; I’d run it as a straight Scout test with factors. I don’t have the book with me, but how would “sneaking past a large group of aware creatures” rate?

It says “Scout is almost always used as a versus test: Scout versus Nature, or Scout versus Scout.” Factors are for finding unaware things, not sneaking past alert creatures.
I guess they’ll get exactly as many helping dice as I feel makes for a reasonably challenging obstacle. Sorta weird to say “Exactly FOUR bees can help this other bee, and the rest only get in the way!” But oh well.

It might be better to ask “how many bees are on watch or reasonably able to notice the mouse?”

Yeah… but the answer’s still going to be more than 5, right?

The scout doesn’t have to be against all bees in the nest. If you were sneaking into a city, would you have the entire population help each other in the test against the player? Nope. Just test the Nature plus help from the bees on guard. That’s all that’s important.

Sure, but I think that’s still going to be a pretty large number of bees on guard, right? All buzzing around the entrance? Even if I ignore the many bees going to and fro with pollen.

Some brief Googling indicates 1000 guard bees on duty at any given time is a reasonable number. I can only assume they aren’t ALL at the entrance. But even if I cut it down to 10, that still puts them in the vicinity of wolves and bears.
Maybe that’s okay. After all, there’s this:

But if I raise the number of bees who are helping all the way to 10, that’s still cutting things back by an order of magnitude. On the other paw, anything remotely approaching 1000 dice, or even 100 dice, is obviously far too many.

I’m starting to think I should just treat the hive as a single creature, and give it a nature and descriptors. Any reason why I wouldn’t be better off doing that? Say, 9 and swarming, defending, comb-building, honey-making. Natural order on par with coyotes and otters - they could kill a wolf or a deer, and injure a bear or a moose. When dealing with a single bee, or only a few bees, the bee stats in the book apply, but when dealing with a whole hive, the hive stats apply. Yeah? Seems more reasonable than trying to scale the helping rules to bee levels.


Stop using google to fact check a game about medieval talking mice.
This isn’t a bee hive. It’s the entrance to the Bee Kingdom. Two Royal Warriors stand guard at the entrance. They seem menacing and alert.

But Majis makes a good point. Maybe it should be hard to sneak into a bee’s nest! And rolling against 10 dice isn’t such a big deal. Sneaking can easily be a part of Mouse Nature, so it’s trivial to tap Nature and make the test.