[Monster] Wound Worms

Inspired by the classic Rot Grub.

Wi B2, Pe B2, Ag B4, Po B1, Fo B2, Sp B2
Stride: 1

MW B1, Reflexes B2, Health B4

Stealthy B5, Observation B4, Dropping B4, Burrowing B4

Patient, Two-Inch Worm, Elastic Body (Dt), Sticky (Dt), Groundsense (Dt)

Blindsense (Dt)
Though blind, wound worms have extremely sensitive skin. They can locate prey by body heat, moisture vapor, air currents or vibrations through the ground.

Wound worms can survive and swim, leech-like, in stagnant or slow-moving fresh water. Woe to the adventurer who unwitting scoops a wound worm into his wineskin.

Desert Survivor (Dt)
Though they prefer moist environments, wound worms can survive complete dessication. A shrivelled wound worm can look like a twig or bit of twine, though close inspection will reveal the protruding mouth hooks. They can survive like this indefinitely, but will soon quicken in the presence of humidity; a few spilled drops from a flask, or the sweat of a tired adventurer or pack animal. This is a matter of a few hours.

Dessicated worms can be found in preserved foods, funery treasure, and in the sand of certain accursed places.

Hookmouth (Dt)
Quickened wound worms often latch onto prey by dropping from above. Any incidental hit means that a wound worm has attached and will soon begin burrowing. In dry environments, they often migrate to outcroppings, or the tips of branches where they can attach like burrs to passing animals or people, clinging to stray hair, fur or clothing.

Once attached to a living being, a quickened wound worm will immediately begin burrowing. Their burrowing teeth can pierce hides and hard leather, and worms quickly find their way underneath mail or metal plates.

Undetected worms find their way in automatically. If the victim is alert, the worm can be plucked or flicked off by winning a versus test of Agility against the worm’s Burrowing. If the worm wins, it disappears inside the victim’s clothing and immediately begins burrowing. Leather or natural armor provides an advantage die to the victim, metal armor provides 2D. One worm can be flicked off per action.

Flesh Burrower (Dt)
Once a wound worm reaches the skin, it makes a slit with its sharp teeth and immediately plunges inside. A worm under the skin causes a -1D wound penalty (and a Steel test).

Each day or scene thereafter, the worm burrows further. The victim must make an Ob 6 Forte test to determine how deep the worm burrows. The penalty increases by -1D, up to the margin of failure of the Forte test. If the victim’s Forte reaches zero, the worm has burrowed into a vital organ and the victim dies.

Burrowing worms can be cut from the flesh using Surgery or Field Dressing skill, with an Ob equal to the current die penalty. Failure extracts the worm, but the surgery inflicts a Midi wound upon the patient.

Worms that have burrowed into limbs can be prevented from reaching vital organs with a tight tourniquet. (Field Dressing, Ob 2.) Burrowing continues to increase the penalties as normal, but in this case, zero or negative Forte means the victim is unconscious.

Burrowed wound worms are also vulnerable to certain tinctures and infusions. Worms can be induced to stop burrowing temporarily (Ob 1 Herbalism, further burrowing being prevented for a number of weeks equal to the margin of success), or killed outright (Ob 4 Herbalism). Failure poisons the victim.

Unthinking Parasite (Dt)
Wound worms are not affected by social skills and do not make Steel tests. They ignore anything that doesn’t kill them outright.

Climb to the high places. Wait. Drop on anything that moves.

Dessicated wound worms can be carried for long distances by unwitting adventurers. When they suddenly infest the livestock, any strangers in town are likely to take the blame.

A wound-worm infested monster comes to town looking for help.

“This local tea is undrinkable! Why is it so popular?”

Errgh, horrible. Well done!

Ugh, I failed a Steel test just reading about them! Ugh…

Those sound absolutely horrifying.


With Stealthy 5, no-one is ever going to notice them until the wounds start stacking up.

Do you think it’s too much? I think quickened worms are much more fun if you can see them on you and you’re trying to do something about it.

Stealth 5 is going to mean a typical Ob of 3 on the Per to find them - which means a lot of failures to spot. Tho’ anything which would force a steel check I’d say allows a reroll at a hefty bonus.

Stealth 5 is going to mean a typical Ob5 Per test to notice them and an Ob3 Observation test. While observation is a handy skill, it features rarely in lifepaths. There are a few traits and even spells that allow use of Per as Obs, but again, not common. Most of the time these worms won’t be noticed until they cause a wound. Scary!

There’s a bunch of different scenarios.

Wondering what’s strange about those twig-like things your companion (or you) picked up in the brush back there. There’s noticing them on the ceiling of the cavern. There’s noticing them dropping on you and squirming into your clothing. There’s the guy on watch with his back to the fire noticing them inching silently towards Wilbet’s bedroll.

All of these situations seem like different difficulties, and it’s presumably much easier if you’re familiar with them, and much easier still if you’re actively looking for them.

How best to handle all this?

Familiarity is a FoRK or Linked Test on Wound Worm Wise…

I think a test versus Stealth neatly ties up all of those options. But that’s just me!

I have vivid memories of a D&D game from my youth where players had to dig grubs out of my character’s arm with a knife, doing damage but trying to get them out before they reached my character’s heart. I think I was about 14 years old.

Good times.

I would’ve included a test for healers to identify the problem. I’d also decrease the obstacle for detection once they start burrowing. Or maybe just make it a steel test. If something starts burrowing its way into you, you’re probably gonna notice. Question is if you can react before it’s completely in.

They get under the skin quickly, their lives depend on i! Of course you notice once they start digging, but by that time it’s already an Ob 1 Surgery to cut them out or an Ob 2 beginner’s luck to rip them out. The wound itself causes the steel test. Feel free to call for steel tests if one gets on your armor, though!

This whole thread keeps reminding me of the leech scene in ‘Stand by Me’ with an extra twist of horror. There could be some interesting complications for a botched Field dressing roll.