Yknow for a blog named "Save vs. Worm", not a single worm has graced my posts! It is time to rectify that!
(Oh and warning for body horror and parasitism here)
The Burgeoning Worm
Disease and infection are rather common hazards, though some afflictions are much more deadly than the mere cold or flu. Most diseases are caused by foul miasma and invisible demons, but there is another type of plague which is much more visible: the many kinds of parasitic worms that flourish in the blood and guts and grow incessantly. Wormplagues are the only diseases caused by something physical, and thus they are the only disease which can be combatted as one would combat an animal. Drinking poison or eating stones will flush the blood and intestines, although it brings with it risk of death for yourself as well.
One of the worst kinds of wormplagues is the burgeoning worm, which pushes through the skin and causes intense pain.
The burgeoning worm is an affliction of bears, lions, and other large carnivores. The worm's eggs originate in the flesh of herbivores, likely from grasses, mosses, or fruits that they eat (scholars remain uncertain as to where the life of the burgeoning worm begins). The worm does not grow to maturity in the flesh of the deer and antelope however, remaining only as small white eggs and immature forms. Only when eaten do the worms flourish.
In the bodies of their intended hosts, the worms grow to the perfect size to crawl in between the organs of the beast, and nibble on their hearts and brains and stomachs. A bear or lion hosting these worms finds its behavior erratic; it is unable to hunt as normal, and flails helplessly on the ground almost at random. The minds of the beast hosts are addled so that they seek out death and pain, though the worm does not want the bear dead. The worm is transmitted through blood, and so the worm urges the beast to bleed itself on blades, rocks, and horns, or even to claw itself next to death if it must. The beast will bleed on grass and into rivers, and the animals that drink from the river or eat of the grass become host to the worm themselves.
|Imagine this, but considerably larger, and lots of them
Since these worms are meant for the bodies and frames of lions, bears, gryphons, and similarly large beasts, they do horrible things when they end up in human bodies. At first it seems like many a mundane disease, with vomiting and shaking and feverish visions, but over time things turn for the worse. By the final weeks of the worms' lives, the victim is left shaking, with a mouth foaming red, their skin crawling and almost bursting at the seams, until ultimately it does. Since the worms are meant for creatures considerably larger than a human, they grow and they grow until they break out and kill their host by mistake. They do not intend to, and oftentimes do not realize what they have done until the cold air touches their slimy skin (some have asked them these things, those who may speak to worms that is). They cannot survive on their own, and will die themselves shortly after.
Some rural folk (who are at a higher risk of contracting the wormplague from contaminated water or food) believe that the burgeoning worm is simply a new reincarnation of the person, a manifestation of their soul that forms on the eve of their death. They bury the worm and the host in the same grave, and perform funeral rites for each of them.
Thankfully, however, the burgeoning wormplague is rather uncommon, and there has never been a major outbreak of it since it cannot be transmitted between people except with extreme difficulty. Adventurers and wilderness travelers know it as an occupational hazard that changes with the season and the year. Anyone who exposes themselves to the blood of carnivores is at risk.
|Okay this basically has nothing to do with the post, I just found it and thought it was really funny
The burgeoning worm is a disease that players can contract from contact with blood during or outside of combat. There is a base 10% chance that any given carnivore encountered has contracted the burgeoning worm, increased during certain seasons (+10% during spring, +20% during summer) and depending on if there is an outbreak of the disease in a given animal population currently going on. When a worm-burgeoned predator is encountered, it will not roll morale, but will instead act completely randomly. During the predator's round of combat, roll to see if it moves away from/toward the players, and if it is engaged in melee roll to see which target(s) it focuses its efforts on. There is a 1-in-6 chance that the predator will simply fall to the ground and flail uncontrollably, dealing damage to any who get too close but otherwise not acting to defend itself.
Any characters in melee range must save vs. breath weapon at the end of combat, with a penalty equal to the number of rounds they were engaged in melee with the predator, to see if they came into contact with any blood. The referee should note if they did so; the player will not necessarily know they have contracted the disease immediately.
For the first few days, the character feels normal. By the end of the first week, they begin to feel paranoid, nervous, and jittery to the point of clumsiness (-1 to all rolls), and as the second week begins they develop a fever. Every two days subsequent adds an additional -1 to their rolls unless they remain in bed and are tended to. By the end of two and a half weeks to one month (decided by the referee based on their CON score), the worms will burst out of their host's body, killing them instantly.
The only surefire way to kill the worms is to drink poison (although certain types of magical healing will also deal with the worms), however whatever damage the worms have done to the host's body cannot heal except over a grueling period of months or years. Oftentimes, the poison intended to kill the worms will kill the host as well. If they do drink poison, they should roll a save vs. poison, slowly beginning to die on a failure.
(This isn't necessarily a king of kings post, but I'm likely to use this in king of kings honestly.)