I’ll probably end up writing a few of these and these are sketchy first-pass concepts for what might end up being a ‘book of monsters’. Not a bestiary, but rather a book of strange and individual creatures with attached legends and lore to inspire their use in one-off adventures.
The old miner coughs a sticky black mess into his handkerchief and leans closer.
“‘Course, the real reason the baron closed the mine ain’t got nuffin’ to do with the gold being tapped out. There was plenty down there last time I was down in the depths. That ain’t it at all. Times of yore there were many peoples besides the ones you know, more than the elves and the dwarves and the short-folk. As man rose up they retreated, into the Earth, into the woods, into the dark and hidden places but you search too far, you dig too deep and sometimes you’ll find them.”
The wrinkled old man unbuttons his shirt, his skin puckered and sagging like a turkey’s neck. Even despite that you can see the crude scars and toothmarks that pock his skin. “They came out of the dark and the deep and they made it darker and deeper. They swallowed up men twice my size in moments and cut them to pieces, dragging them into the earth to their deaths…” He sighs and looks wistfully into the fire, his eyes losing their glitter. “…at least I hope so.”
He turns back to you and buttons up his shirt again, the log fire crackling and sparking as he does so. “We collapsed the mine, but they’re still down there. Riddling the mountain with their tunnels like maggots. It’s only a matter of time before they dig this far and then… and then you’ll all know.”
The ground seethes and wells up like a great boil and then collapses back with a scent of wet earth. Darkness writhes like a living thing out of that pit and amongst it can barely be seen glittering eyes, sharp teeth and pale, serpentine white limbs that writhe like maggots in the dark. A tide of darkness and teeth unfolds from the earth, spilling like a living fluid in every direction and devouring everything before it.
Wormlings attack en masse as a great, cohesive group. They attack under cover of their darkness and in overwhelming force. They die easily, but there’s always more of them. You can beat them back but they well up from the ground in greater and greater numbers from the black stones that mark their home in the Earth. They undermine and tunnel, creating pit traps, dragging their enemies down and never attack senselessly. Wormlings are a force of nature, their numbers and their strangeness in the dark is what makes them a terrible foe, not their individual strength – which is lacking. They’re as merciless as the tide and know no language, trade, surrender or deal.
Hit Dice: 1d8 (5hp)
Movement: 120′ surface, 10′ burrow.
Number of Attacks: 2
Damage: 1d4 (hooked bronze daggers).
Morale: 8 (Even when driven off, they only
Special Abilities: Unnatural Darkness, surrounded by writhing, living shadow that grants +2 AC in the dark and can only be dispelled with artificial or magical light.