Farmers at the edge of the community are having trouble with out-of-control nests, authorities fearing they’ll move in to the larger / more productive farmland. Reward is offered per mandible set returned.
(Optional:) Tagged to the post is another from the local alchemist / magic-user requesting that the eyes and acid sack be returned in-tact for an additional reward.
DM Notes: This has become an issue because the folks that used to keep the population down but not eradicated for the farming benefits are no longer able to take care of this for some reason and they have been multiplying. Total eradication will have long-term negative consequences for the area’s farming community. Farmers will know about the benefits of a small ankheg population, authorities will not.
While traveling through a sparsely-populated farming area, party hears from a way off the distressed bestial screams of a cow (or farmer) being attacked/eaten by one or more ankhegs.
Useful DM Notes:
Sheds its shell yearly in the fall, which is the most vulnerable time for it. During this time it secretes a repellent smell, like rotting fruit.
The chitinous shell can be used by a skilled blacksmith to create a suit of armor (Plate mail AC, Scale mail encumbrance). If the population is controlled, can increase crop yield due to ground aeration & fertilization. [Baldur’s Gate]
The eyes & eye fluid are useful to alchemists & magic users for sight-related potions, items, & spells. [Dragon #117]
Digestive Acid can be salvaged & used as a normal acid (d4 damage), good for up to 6 months. Can only be carried in glass containers. Secondary acid enzyme sack in the creature’s head, requires very careful removal or it will burst.
Mandibles make good axe-heads. Cured & preserved legs can be made into maces by removing the meat & filling the hollow for weight & stiffness.
The first appearance of the Ankheg (or, as it was originally spelled, Anhkheg) was in Dragon magazine (Issue #5) in March 1977 – After the initial release of Dungeons & Dragons, but before Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was released.
Dragon Magazine #5, March 1977 – Pages 12, 28
Advanced D&D – 1e
Monster Manual – Page 6 – Still listed as Anhkheg; Description still matches almost identically to the original appearance in Dragon Magazine.
Monster Cards Set 1, 1982 – Card #MM6
Dragon Magazine, January 1986 Issue #117 – Pages 33-36
Advanced D&D – 2e
Monsterous Manual – Page 7
3.0 / 3.5 D&D
Monster Manual (3.5) – Pages 14-15
Monster Manual 2 – Page 11