My world is a medieval-magical setting like in "The Dark Eye". An extinct, magical elves-race had a technique to raise "bugs" from sand, but other materials were possible too. Those bugs usually had a maximum size of about 20 inches, depending on the work they were created for, obeyed all commands of their creator and needed a small amount of mana to stay "alive" (a normal Elf produced enough mana to maintain about 3 of those big bugs, more if they're smaller).

Usually, they did nothing, if they didn't follow a command. But those bugs are not dumb - they just did nothing, because they couldn't! The elves subconsciously disallowed unordered actions. As the elven race distincted, the bugs did so too, but one elf was magically turned to stone, and awoke thousands of years after his folks died. His 5 bugs are still "alive", because they drained him all the time. He ordered them to create more of themselves, unluckily he didn't notice that some bugs aren't following his orders (his subconscious couldn't surpress so many bugs).

Why should those indepent bugs multiply themselves?

  • $\begingroup$ do the sand bugs made of sand have the ability to multiply, how/what is the effect on the bug? $\endgroup$
    – depperm
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 15:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ They are programmed to multiply when instructed, and after several thousand years, that elf has needs. See grey goo scenario $\endgroup$
    – nzaman
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 15:52
  • $\begingroup$ When you say "the elven race distincted," do you mean that they went extinct? $\endgroup$
    – scohe001
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 16:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ What powers the new bugs? They need mana to stay "alive", where does the extra mana powering the extra bugs comes from? $\endgroup$
    – G0BLiN
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 17:20
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to WB.SE! We're glad you could join us! When you have a moment, please click here to learn more about our culture and take our tour. Please read our meta posts about high concept questions and open-ended questions.The problem with questions like this is they are POB as you've provided no criteria for judging a best answer. $\endgroup$
    – JBH
    Commented Oct 22, 2018 at 17:24

2 Answers 2


Perhaps the "personal mana" of the elf is actually a "racial mana" which just before his petrification was spread out across all living elves. Now as the last surviving member of his race, he contains all the elven mana, thousands or even millions of times what he originally possessed. Unaware of this significant power upgrade, he dedicates all of his mana to the bug replication command, with a exponentially expanded results.

And maybe the enormous flow of mana involved has overtaxed magical muscles, leaving him too spent to further manipulate or command his army of bugs.


You should really watch a short movie from Disney called The Sorcerer's Apprentice, about disobedient magical servitors.

Magic is like programming. Magic that is about giving commands to artificial beings is doubly so.

Analyze the logic of the alghoritm:

Step 1: reproduce
Step 2: repeat step 1

See what the wizard did there?

As for why the bugs are doing whatever - thwy may have picked up orders from anyone or anything during the millenia the wizard spent as a rock. Heck, if I find a functioning drone abandoned in the middle of nowhere I will have a go at playing with it. Reminds me of the opening scene of Interstellar where the protagonist does exactly that.

I once programmed a whole network of computers into playing a UI-less coop clone of Progress Quest of my own creation, just for kicks and because I am an idiot. Who knows? Maybe your mage wakes up one day to find that he is standing on a humongous Manacoin mining farm.


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