What do you mean, the little wriggly ones you throw at fish or the big rock ones that squish people?
The ground heaved again, the second tremor of the morning. Things were unsettled in the region, the tremors were a daily occurence. The duke was not put off by this, and he has since continued the exploration of the Ranagest Quarrey. His miners and excavators have been pulling an almost ocean blue colored marble from the earth. The diggers and stonecutters are concerned, most of the tremors have been close to the pit itself. the last round a day ago caused part of the southern pit wall to collapse. The local druidic circle has issued a few complaints, but almost everyone assumes that they only know about trees and keeping the deer fat, and making a nuisance of themselves.
Earthwyrms are neither true worms, nor are they in any way related to any sort of dragon species. Rather, the Earthwyrm is a large earth elemental that has a serpentine body and a large head. The typically encountered wild Earthwyrm is 20 to 30 feet in length and five to eight feet in diameter. Their mouths are large, and are easily capable of swallowing a medium sized person or animal in one bite. These elementals form their bodies from either deep bedrock, having a uniform grey appearance with their outer shell being covered with freshly broken edges and rock spars. Other earthwyrms compose their forms from local varieties of rock, often sharing the characteristics of the rock. Desert Earthwyrms are typically made of sandstone and while not as durable as other members of their kind, they can replenish their mass with sand, and have in the past demonstrated the ability to cause and control sandstorms.
The Earthwyrm is a deep earth elemental, they are rarely encountered on or near the surface. They tunnel under the earth, eating boulders, impurities, and the like. Their actions keep the rock and stone from setting into immutable forms, as well as general custodial duties demanded of elementals. Juvenile earthwyrms are seldom found, and most scholars assume that the elementals spawn and breed in the deepest parts of the earth, and that in theory there are massive members of the elementals species. Some have speculated to the existence of a earthwyrm brood mother, and venerable earthwyrm ancients that could be as much as a mile long. To date, the largest earthwyrm recorded was 115 feet long, and was 16 feet in diameter. This massive rock monster was summoned by a cabal of elementalists who tasked the earthwyrm with bringing down a massive fortification. The earthwyrm responded by burrowing into the earth for three days. On sunrise of the fourth day the fortress groaned and the entire structure collapsed into a massive sinkhole, killing almost everyone inside the fortress.
The wizards chanted and chanted. We didnt know what to expect, fireballs or a squadron of mounted knights made of flame and death. After a while the ground heaved up and a head came out of the soil. it was broad, plain, and ugly. It cracked open its jaws and bellowed at the heavens. We scattered as it pulled itself free of the earth. The entire beast was made of rocks and boulders, each heaved and pushed, and the beast moved forward. It coiled around itself like a mighty snake and bellowed again. We had to put our hands over our ears for how loud the monster was. I was suddenly thankful that it and the wizards were on our side. I had thought differently earlier, when their spells misfired, and all that. The leader of the cabal spoke in a grinding sound to the monster, which bowed its head and uncoiled. The ground shook under our feet, and the horses of the cavalry reared and stamped their hooves and snorted. The elemental charged towards the enemy lines. Our general shouted for us to follow and give battle. The earthwyrm hit the enemy shield wall and there was a terrible snapping and crunching sound. That sound will live with me till my last day. It was the sound of bones being broken like twigs under the beast. Nothing could slow it, arrows clattered off of it, spears bent and shattered, and even swords and axes had no effect. A ballista bolt caught it in the side. Instead of detering the beast, it only enraged it. It bellowed, causing many of the enemy horses to shy and many a footsoldier to break and give up his position. It charged into the tower that housed the ballista. I felt the impact from where I was standing. The tower shuddered and collapsed on top of the beast. The enemy soldiers cheered even as the rubble was still falling, we hesitated. We all thought that the beast had killed itself.
Weakness and Strength
many wizards depend on a certain class of spells to fight against foes and monsters. Being made of stone, the Earthwyrm is almost completely invulnerable to lightning based magics, and likewise fire and heat based magics are all but useless against the monster. The nature of stone, and the lack of internal organs make the Earthwyrm very hard to injure and almost impossible to kill with conventional weapons. The only conventional weapons capable of harming the elemental are siege engines, such as a spot on hit from a trebuchet. This being said, the Earthwyrm has several potent weaknesses. The biggest weaknesses are that the elemental cannot cross running water more than 1/4 of its diameter deep. Such running water causes their body to start coming apart. Water magics are expecially effective against this type of elemental. The second basic weakness is that of nature/plant based magics. The elementals of forests and plants are quite capable of dealing with an Earthwyrm. The final weakness is that earthwyrms are very simple beings, they are easy to influence and control, as long as this control doesnt go against their basic natures. Destruction and renewing soil come easy, while construction and artistic efforts are generally doomed to failure. Control and similar magics are effective at either banishing, disincorporation, or siezing control of an elemental.
The duke is dead, he was touring the quarrey when they came up out of the earth. The miners warned him, and the druids warned him, but he only had eyes for the blue marble that we pulled from the earth. There were three of the Earthwyrms. His soldiers fought them, but they were crushed into jelly. Many of the miners were also killed. Some were crushed by the elementals, others died when the southern side of the pit collapsed into the bottom of the hole. The duke almost got away but the lead wyrm bit his horse in half. The animal screamed its death agonies while the duke tried to run away on foot. The following wyrms chased him, in the end they tore him in half and fought over his remains for several minutes. The smallest wyrm was killed by one of the larger wyrms. Before the surviving two wyrms burrowed back into the earth, they collapsed the entire Ranagest pit. There would not be a burial for those they killed. Instead we held a candle light vigil for their souls. The quarrey is now a shallow lake after the rains. We call it Ranagest's Folly.
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? Responses (13)
Very good submission. Very easily adapted into nearly any fantasy setting. I have a few questions:
1. Do they have vision?
2. Do they have a full range of emotion? intelligence? capable of two way communication?
3. Aside from being summoned and commanded to... why and when would an Earthwyrm attack people on the surface?
4. How do subterranean races interact with such a wyrm? What keeps them alive when on a whim or less a wyrm could bring whole colonies to extinction?
(I assume some underground species, such as drow would use magic to either control them or repel them, but what about other less intelligent races?)
5. I understand the purpose of these wyrms is to keep the core rocks movable, from above. But you did mention a desert version of the same wyrm. Do they have a different purpose? It seems to me they would be more likely to be on the surface than the others.
1. They can see as well as any earth elemental
2. Their emotional and intellectual responce is limited, they are simple creatures. Communication is likewise limited.
3. When the people on the surface have done something to draw their attention, such as destroying geomantic features, like blowing up mountains, deep mines that threaten unknown structures underground. Otherwise, attacks are accidental.
4. Subterranean races hate earthwyrms, geomancy would be used in the construction of their warrens and caves, as well as warding magics. Less intelligent races avoid them as best as possible.
5. There are mountain versions, desert versions, forest versions, regardless of biome, earthwyrms are rare on the surface. I just enjoyed the visual
I'm a big fan of 'boss fights' where the boss doesn't have 15 different abilities. I can imagine the PCs racing away from one or three of these guys in order to cross a bridge or get within range of a trebuchet. Especially when they can move through a fortification like a chainsaw through chicken soup. Or fighting to open a dam before X is destroyed.
Though, they are scary powerful, the water- and forest-weaknesses mean that the PCs don't have much room for creativity if they want to destroy one. And the weak-trees-business feels a bit arbitrary.
Why were they fighting over the corpse of the duke? Did he have jellybeans in his pockets? And it roars, too. They seem to react like they have emotions, even if they don't. I imagine them like terromantic janitors, who sigh and grit their teeth they witness littering. Or, god forbid, someone CUTTING ROCKS into bricks and then STACKING THEM. That definitely counts as an impurity.
The basis of the plant/nature weakness is that roots and plants can easily break rock and stone. Dont believe me, find a tree that it too close to a house, or a sidewalk that has been buckled by the irresistable growth of plants. Also, small plants are good at preventing erosion, and the movement of rocks and soil. One plant might not bother an elemental like this, but if a carpet of plants are grown magically, such as a plant elemental, or druid using some sort of plant growth spell causing them to sprout over every inch of an elemental, think Gulliver in Lilliput.
Why were they fighting over the duke? Why will two dogs fight over the same bowl of food when they both have their own? You have that, I want it.
As for emotions, they do have them, just not advanced or complicated emotions. They dont sigh about a job being wearisome or never done, they are creatures of the now, not the past or even planning into the future.
I find it cool that you write up the basic elementals, when I think of something, all I get is the top of the elemental hierarchy.
Very good - your fleshing out of the elements is a wonderful task.
To the dumpster with basic elementals!
I really like these. The image of a great worm-like creature made up of stone slithering toward a castle wall and plowing right through makes me want to write an adventure based on the one creature.
I also like the idea that not all the elementals are summoned by mages (as it is in DnD, mostly), but rather, that they are natural creatures with specific abilities and properties.
Good job, Scras!
Not a creature to provoke.
I can not help it but this reminds me of a certain critter of a certain tv series. But otherwise a nice critter to summon. This is going to make our geomancer happy, it is often felt he loses in damage-potential of the pyromancer, this will even things a bit... Independently, it makes a great elemental defender of unspoilt nature.
Well I'll ask since I have no idea what series and critter you are talking about.