It’s a truism that insects evoke a visceral reaction of disgust and horror in most people. That response is so instinctive it’s almost hardwired into us, even when the bugs in question are relatively harmless. Imagine how much more frightening such an insect would be, however, if it was a kind that wasn’t harmless but could inflict long-lasting and devastating pain on you with a single sting. Enter the bullet ant, one of nature’s scariest insects, brought to the d20 system by Bards and Sages.
Part of their very short line of Dangerous Creatures PDFs, the Bullet Ant is four pages long, consisting of a cover (which is a photograph of the insect), two pages of information, and a page with the OGL.
While I can certainly appreciate why Bards and Sages wanted to bring this particular creature to the d20 System, the end result of their attempt left me less than impressed. For instance, the flavor text describes the bullet ant as being just under an inch long, so why is it size category Tiny, which is the size used for something roughly the size of a housecat? Why does it have an Intelligence of 0, instead of more correctly using dashes (--) to indicate that it has no Intelligence at all? And of course, a creature with no Intelligence shouldn’t have skills or feats (except for inherent skill bonuses and bonus feats) like this creature does. It’s disheartening to see this many errors in a product this short, to say nothing of stylistic decisions that made me cringe, such as listing the CR as “0.5” instead of using the fractional notation of ½ - I could go on and on, which is troubling to say the least. Beyond that, the new uses for bullet ant venom seemed decent, but uninspired (two very similar uses against poison, for example), and the cultural note for how some tribes used bullet ants was mildly interesting, but that’s all. There was no note about how to really use it in a game.
Ultimately, this product is okay overall, but does a poor job of translating the bullet ant into d20 terms, and does only slightly better on offering other ways to work the creature into your game. More could have been done than is given here, and what is here isn’t done very well. It’s a product that still has some bugs to work out.