Worms

(Tom Clare)
These large legless reptiles live in fens and waterways, and can bring down a grown Bull*. The voraciousness of the worm is legendary, and a hungry one is fearless in its pursuit of meat. It attacks by surprise; submerged, it will wait for the unsuspecting man or beast to come close to the water’s edge, then burst forth, maw gaping to seize its prey and drag it back under the surface.

The Worm is a particularly prestigious beast of rapine for knights* to slay, and many tales tell of famous knights freeing a parish or rescuing a lovely damsel from such a creature. One popular story is the legend of Sir Kald the Angler. When a lad, the eponymous hero of the tale ran away from church one Sunday to go fishing in the River Tew. But all he caught that inauspicious day was a loathsome, scaly eel, which he immediately threw into the manor pond.

Over the years the creature, nourished with fat trout and perch, slowly grew into a monstrous worm, until, too big for the pond, it burst forth to seek more substantial prey. Sir Kald, returning from the Holylands, found his erstwhile catch terrorizing the countryside and determined to kill the beast and atone for his long-forgotten sin.

After a first disastrous attempt, he summoned the local blacksmith and ordered that a peculiar vestment be made for him. A barrel, bristling with hastily nailed spikes, was altered to fit him as a suit of armour.

Meeting the Worm on the field of combat once again, Sir Kald simply let the beast coil around him. Of course the more the Worm attempted to crush the knight*, the more it impaled itself upon the iron spikes; eventually, faint with loss of blood, it collapsed, still tightly wound around the hero. More dead than alive, Sir Kald wiggled out of his strange harness and removed the beast’s head, before himself fainting away. Although bed-ridden for much of his latter days due to the injuries sustained on that day, Sir Kald afterwards became a respected lord, and a hero to his tenants.

Lindworm

(Bulya)

Lindworm,
like Worm in Ellesland*, (or in
Old Visic* linnormr 'constricting serpent', Visic* lindorm 'serpent', Mercanian* lyndorm 'serpent', Kurlish* Lindwurm 'dragon') is a term often used in the northern and central Coradian* parts of Legend* to describe those large reptilian creatures which are wingless and limbless or with only two vestigial limbs, with a poisonous bite and an appetite for warm flesh. In the Thulandic* and Mercanian* languages, the cognate Lindorm can refer to any 'serpent' or monstrous snake, but in Visic* it is also a term for a 'seaserpent' (sjøormer).

Legends of the Lindworm

A great Mercanian* Jarl Ragnar Lodbrok, a semi-legendary ruler of southern Mercania*, tells of how a certain jarls daughter Thora Borgarhjort receives a baby lindworm, curled up inside of a casket, as a gift from her father Herrauðr, the Jarl of Götafjell. As the Lindworm grew, it eventually encircled the hall of the Jarl and held its adopted 'mother' Thora within, it was only by supplying the beast with no less than one ox a day that her family could venture in to check on her but she was never allowed to cross the threshhold without the creature putting up a great deal of hissing and smashing it's heavy tail about like a mace. She was eventually freed by a young man in fur-trousers named Ragnar, who thus obtained the byname of Lodbrok ("hairy britches") and became Thora's husband; inheriting the Jarldom and ruling well until his death in the Year of Red Tides...

The Dragon* Fafnir* who is held captive within the walls of Spyte appears in Kurlish* tales as a lindwurm; but it is held to be a fanciful tale and Fafnir* is more usually rendered as a Dragon* or firedrake.

Another Kurlish* tale tells of a Lindworm that lived near Bagenfurt. Swollen waters and flooding threatened travelers along the river, and the presence of a massive lindwurm was blamed. The story holds that a Duke offered a bountiful and rich reward for anyone who could destroy it, so some of the local young fishermen put their heads together and decided to use what they knew from their livelihoods. They lashed a Bull* to a hooked and barbed chain, and drove the bovine into the waters of the lake. When the hungry Lindworm rose and swallowed the Bull*, it was hooked like a fish and after a massive struggle the beast, weak from internal injury and bloodloss, was dragged ashore and killed.

Travellers have reported seeing Lindworms on the steppes to the south of the Gnawing Waste* and in the foothills of the Harogarn Mountains*.

The shed skin of a Lindworm was believed to greatly increase a person's knowledge about nature and medicine[1].

The sighting of a "whiteworm" or albino Lindorm was once was thought to be an exceptional sign of good luck... unless one was observing from too close it can be assumed.

In northern legends, Lindworms often grow to be very large and eat cattle and other livestock. Some seem to habitually seek out and devour the rotting corpses and bodies of fallen men, sometimes invading churchyards and eating the dead from cemeteries; these loathsome beasts, known as likormr, develop a certain cunning and uncanny intelligence which their other brethren lack and it is whispered they can even learn the speech of men.

Some tales whisper that truly great ormr find their way into the bowels of the earth, there to squirm like maggots in the corpse of Ymir the world-giant and tear away the roots of the world. These Nhidhoggr are truly ancient and fearsome beings.


In southern Ellesland* these beasts are colloquially known as knuckers and their watery lairs as 'knucker-holes'.


Worms were venerated in parts of Molasaria* in ancient times.

Seize

A Worm that succeeds with its ATTACK roll by five or more has seized its target in its great jaws. That unfortunate is held tight by the beast, taking 1d6 points of damage each round until freed. To free oneself, the victim must himself make a successful ATTACK roll, but with his ATTACK score halved. Obviously, while the beast has seized someone it cannot bite anyone else.

Coiling

A Worm that has left the water will attempt to coil around its prey. If successful its victim’s ATTACK and DEFENCE are both halved. Once the beast has a hold it may squeeze each round – the victim takes 2d3 points of damage, with only plate armour giving any defence. A coiling Worm suffers a -2 penalty to its combat scores against any other attacks, but not to those of its prey.

See the entry on Pythons* (Book 1, p106) for more on constricting.

Great Tail

Worms can use their great tails as bashing weapons against their enemies. A tail can only be used to attack an enemy to the rear or side of an animal, not to the front, and only if the beast has fully emerged from its lair. A Worm may swipe with its tail and bite in the same round, giving it two attacks.

Venomous Beast

The blood and spittle of a Worm carries a mild poison. Anyone wounded by the beast should, afterwards, make a weak poison roll. While the poison is quite weak, it is tainted stuff and can badly infect a wound unless treated.

Average Statistics

ATTACK 18 Bite (d8+1, 5)
Tail (d6+1, 4)
DEFENCE 9 Armour Factor: scales 1
MAGICAL ATTACK N/A**
MAGICAL DEFENCE 2 Movement: 15m(25m)
EVASION 3
Health Points: 2d6+10 Rank Equivalent: 5th



STEALTH 17 Vision: Normal
PERCEPTION 9

A Monstrous Worm

Worms keep growing until they die, and, if provided with enough to eat, can become truly enormous beasts.

Average statistics

ATTACK 20 Bite (d10+1, 6)
Tail (d8+1, 5)
DEFENCE 10 Armour Factor: scales 3
MAGICAL ATTACK N/A**
MAGICAL DEFENCE 2 Movement: 10m(20m)
EVASION 3
Health Points: 2d6+20 Rank Equivalent: 1st (but see above)



STEALTH 15 Vision: Normal
PERCEPTION 9

Treasure

A Worm doesn't hoard treasure intentionally, but the watery graves of its victims may contain some small items of wealth. Add one for the lair of a monstrous Worm.
1d6: 1-3 = none; 4 = scant; 5 = meagre; 6 = moderate; 7 = average.

[1] The shed skin of the worm or lindorm if ground into a paste and ingested as a tincture allows a person to add +5 to all rolls regarding medicine and the natural world for a 24 hr period.

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