Sunday, May 25, 2014

Monster: Barrow-worm

(Technical illustration by my wonderful wife, the biologist.  Not sure why she added the car.  Probably because it's funny.)
3 HD
5/14 AC
Attack: Bite 1d6+attach (addtl. 1d6/round), 5% chance of disease
Move: 12, burrows at 6
Save: 14
CL/XP: 4/120
Occurrence: 1d4
Special:  Immune to (natural) paralysis and disease (potential carrier), low-light vision, light sensitivity (-1 in daylight)

This medium-sized scavenger infests tombs, barrows, catacombs, and mass graves, burrowing its way into them in its search for sustenance.  The bane of grave-robbers, the voracious barrow-worm prefers to subsist on the recently dead, but is opportunistic enough to consume more decayed bodies and will take on the occasional weak undead (2 HD or less).

The worm is approximately 6-10 feet in length and protected by chitinous segments.  The worm's mouth consists of a maw ringed by hook-like teeth.  The mouth is surrounded by tiny black eyes.  The barrow-worm has generally poor vision, relying more on its sense of smell, and is rather light-sensitive.

The barrow-worm's two primary competitors in the graves are the ghouls and carrion crawlers, and it will attack these scavengers with no provocation.  The worm has developed a resistance to paralysis via secretions in the skin that block the effect.  Glands harvested from the barrow-worm are much sought-after for the prevention and treatment of paralysis by these scavengers, as well. Spreading worm-gland secretion on one's person will add +4 to saving throws against non-spell paralysis, and will reduce non-spell paralysis to one round.

The barrow-worm is territorial with respect to its potential food and will defend its 'cache' by lunging forward, attempting to bite its prey.  A successful hit means that the worm has attached with its hook-teeth, causing an additional 1d6 damage per round by rasping its victim until detached by a successful roll-under strength check, or the worm takes damage.  Although the worm is not poisonous, it may be a disease-carrier and there is a 5% chance to transmit disease per successful hit.

A barrow-worm, apparently in mating colors.
Not sure what goes on in my wife's head sometimes...
Oh, and for your skin-crawling horror, the real-life blood worm:


  1. Wow--what a great worm-monster! I'm a big fan of critters inspired by real-life things like this icky-but-cool creature.

    1. Yes, thanks! Yup - plenty of lovely real-world critters have similar head and mouth-parts - tapeworms, lamprey, hagfish....

      I have another critter or two in the works, so will post as I have time to write.

      And thanks for the compliment- I'm constantly impressed on your creativity and content as well! I appreciate a dark world where something not-quite-right is around every corner.