If you’ve read Dune, you want to ride one. If you’ve played an old-school D&D module, you’re terrified of running into a wandering one. And if you played the Curse of the Crimson Throne Adventure Path, you had to hurl yourself into the maw of one. Ah, purple worms. Good times. (By which I mean bad.)
Dungeon Denizens Revisited has the skinny on purple worms, and is worth checking out on several levels: for its unique take on their origins (spawn of a Star-Worm that crashed to Golarion in a meteorite), for its hints on the metagame uses of worms (from foreshadowing to dues ex machina devices), for some really nasty combos (purple worm plus intellect devourer, anyone?), and of course for all the many varieties and Advanced versions (mottled worms, worms with breath weapons, etc.).
So I’ll just say this: purple worms are forces of nature. They embody that terrifying sense that something could just burst out from any direction and—*GULP*—eat you. Unless you’re a truly high-level adventurer, purple worms aren’t monsters you fight; they’re monsters that happens to you.
As DDR suggests, if you’re a GM, put the PCs in a bad spot—outnumbered, on a cliff’s edge, low on resources…and then have a purple worm be the thing that saves them. As the watch their enemies vanish into the worm’s mouth, any relief they have will be tempered by the knowledge that they are way too far down and that that thing could come back…
One last thing: No matter how scary a beast is, there will be someone (or ones) who can ride it. If you meet that person or people, be afraid. Ask House Harkonnen how that went for them.
Deep in the caverns of Ayergard lie the Bones of the God—strange white stones purported to be the bones of the buried viking god Valkurrod. Born of the semi-divine maggots that feasted on Valkurrod’s flesh, purple worms are thus eternally hungry creatures. Many of the larger specimens even emanate necromantic energy, and the souls of those they kill never reach Valhalla but instead go straight to Hel. Of course, no true Northman would allow his friend’s soul to suffer this fate…but getting to Hel might mean following your dead friend through the gullet of the worm.
It is said that there are men who ride the worms of the Sand Reach the way other folk ride horses. Not true—they are not men but oreads, who know how to walk the earth without waking the worm, and whose stony flesh dulls their hunger. Hitching a ride on one of these worms is typically forbidden, and even in the rarest cases one usually must best an oread in single combat first. There is one exception though: By ancient custom these oreads will never refuse one of the ratfolk.
A spherical metal chamber holds a purple worm in stasis, magically suspended weightless in the center of the globe. If the room is entered without the proper key, gravity returns after three rounds, and the purple worm is released. Worse yet, the friction of its bulk grinding against the floor causes the entire chamber to spin, sending the doors spiraling away and anyone standing to be knocked off their feet and sent sliding toward the worm.
—Dungeon Denizens Revisited 40–45 & Pathfinder Bestiary 230
Lots of love for yesterday’s post—thanks all!
So uwtartarus (still love that name) writes:
I have been waiting for the Pukwudgie for a couple days. I blame the latest Adventure Path from Paizo. Huzzah! Witch's Shack turned extradimensional meltdown is too good not to borrow. I look forward to unleashing some curiously quill-studded undead at my party that is exploring a Fey border-plane.
Wait—does the current adventure path have a pukwudgie?!? Aaaugh, I’m so behind! I only got halfway through the first Reign of Winter issue when I was in Illinois, and then got distracted by work/birthday/work/Easter in Boston/work/a monster stash of less-than-mint GameMastery modules from a Paizo sale/work. Must. Catch. Up. Winter witches!!!