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They set up shop in every major city, created a major marketing campaign, and then began aggressively recruiting drop-outs, the disaffected, and the deranged – just like any good cult!
~ Harlequin regarding the Insect Spirits’ actions.
Insect Spirit from Shadowrun Sourcebook, Bug City.png

Insect spirits (also known as Invae) are a type of magical spirit. They are responsible for Chicago becoming Bug City in 2055. They are summoned by Insect Shamans who 'invest' a spirit into a living host, human or otherwise. They are categorized as either 'social' or 'solitary' spirits. The social category includes Ant Spirits, Termite Spirits, Wasp Spirits, Fly Spirits and Firefly Spirits. Their solitary counterparts include Roach Spirits, Cicada Spirits, Mantis Spirits, Beetle Spirits and Mosquito Spirits.


When the barrier between planes becomes thin (at least one instance of which Lofwyr was witness to 9000 years ago), insect spirits reach out to the minds of shamans and manipulate them, offering unlimited power in exchange for the performance of the ritual that will allow more of their kind to be summoned to the physical plane. Should a shaman take an insect spirit as their totem (henceforth making them an Insect Shaman), they will inevitably decline into madness, eventually losing their humanity.

In the Third World, the insect spirits were known as invae. One of the first signs of the oncoming Scourge, their first appearance in the human Kingdom of Landis less than 2 centuries after the founding of Thera resulted in a conflict known as the Invae Burnings where a panic reaction to their possessions of people resulted in indiscriminate massacres of anyone suspected to be infected/possessed by those spirits but also succeeded in nearly eradicating them.

Magicians may not normally travel to the metaplanes of the insect spirits, which are occasionally referred to as Invae. Little is known of these netherworld(s), but the invae have referred to them as "crowded."

The psyches of insect shamans are influenced and perverted by their insect totems; often driving the magician with an obsessive compulsion to summon forth as many insect spirits as possible.  Unlike most conjuring, the summoning of an insect spirit requires a living host, which gestates for a time in a cocoon.  The spirit's astral presence physically changes the host; the spirit warps the body and mind of the host, destroying the host's spirit, even if the process is halted before the merge is complete.

Characteristics and Origins[]

When an Insect Shaman is looking to start a hive or nest they must summon a great spirit of the spirit type they are aligned with. These great spirits become the 'Queen' or 'Mother' for the hive or nest and are responsible for investing force into hosts to make up the lesser ranks. Most hosts are involuntary and there are horrific side effects that come with being invested with such a spirit. Most end up a half spirit half host hybrid known as a 'Flesh Form': along with physical traits of the Spirit type -- Mandibles, vestigial wings, extra limbs and/or insectoid eyes; the host becomes a gibbering slave for the hive mind. A small percent become what is known as a 'True Form' spirit- the host is killed and a perfect insect spirit is birthed on the astral plane, but immune to the Evanescence that would normally force it to retreat to the metaplanes soon after. True form spirits are oftentimes warriors for their hive or nest. A few possessions have no obvious mutations at all, the metahuman body remaining intact while still under the complete control of the possessing spirit - these 'Good Merges' are used as infiltrators, spies, and assassins.


Into the Shadows; Mantid Spirits[]

In 2050, Brandon Cross investigates a circle of Mantid spirits whose hosts all graduated from Marianne Hills Academy, class of 2039.[1]

Queen Euphoria; Dunkelzahn's Will[]

The Sim Star Euphoria aka Amanda Lockhart died when an insect shaman attempted to invest her with a queen insect spirit in 2050, The sim recording of her rescue, Against the Hive Masters became a classic.

From Dunkelzahn's Will in 2057: "To Ms. Leslie Lockhart, I leave 800,000 nuyen to be used for her care and schooling, plus copies of all of her mother's sims."

Leslie appears to be the daughter of the simstar, Since Euphoria was only 21 in 2050 when she died, that would have made Leslie at least seven years old in 2057, probably older if Euphoria had a teen pregnancy.

Additionally in Dunkelzahn's Will, the Dragon places a bounty for the capture of Insect Shamans.

Shadowrun Returns[]

Insect Spirits were summoned by Jessica Watts, who was the Insect Shaman of the Universal Brotherhood, the overarching antagonists of the game Shadowrun Returns. The Insect Spirits make their first appearance when they emerged from the entrance of the hive within the Universal Brotherhood building just as the protagonist learned that Jessica was the mastermind behind Sam Watts' assassination by the Emerald City Ripper. The protagonists are then forced to flee with Mary-Louise when the bugs suddenly burst forth from their hosts.[2]

Similar deadly threats led to Project Aegis creating a weapon in the form of fluorescing astral bacteria that can kill the insects’ astral manifestation.

In the end, the protagonist succeeded in stopping Jessica and Lynne’s actions and the government became aware of the bugs’ existence. The protagonist gained his/her payment as promised by the late Sam Watts, Aegis Project has come to fruition, and the weapons developed by the Project are now used by the military to eradicate the surviving bugs.

Double Exposure[]

In 2055, The Universal Brotherhood and Renraku take advantage of the homeless in Project Hope.

Election Meddling[]

In the 2057 adventure "Dead Run" in Shadows of the Underworld, and previously in the 2057 adventure "Casualties of War" in Super Tuesday!, the election campaign and subsequent death of General Yeats is somehow tied to an up and coming organization known as the Empowerment Coalition, the Bug City Containment Zone, and Mantis Spirits; as well as The Secret Hive, the Universal Brotherhood, and Wasp Spirits.

Ares Macrotechnology[]

2056, Ares Macrotechnology moves several captured Queen Spirits and Insect Shamans to Complex 68G in the Algonkian-Manitou Council for study. All Insect Shamans are brainwashed to be loyal to Ares.

On February 22, 2058, Ares launches Operation Extermination, using FAB Strain III Delta to exterminate the insect spirits in the Chicago Containment Zone.

In 2062, Ares begins using paranormal animal flesh-form insect spirits from Complex 68G to guard facilities. It is unknown whether Ares is fully under control of the bugs.

N'drangheta, Donna Allegra Fuselli[]

In 2063, unknown to the rest of the Mafia and the world at large, Donna Allegra Fuselli is invested with a powerful Wasp Queen Spirit; and a full quarter of the N'drangheta have been converted to Allegra's hive.

Hong Kong[]

In 2064, the abandoned mining tunnels of Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong Free Enterprise Zone said to be infested with Ant and Beetle hives.

Nicholas Aurelius II[]

On September 52074  Nicholas Aurelius II, grandson to the founding member of Ares, threw himself from his Gulfstream (Jet) while en route to Detroit. The shadows believe that he did so in response to pursuing wasp spirits.





External links[]

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