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Skullworm

Tiny beast (titanspawn), neutral

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
1 (-5) 15 (+2) 10 (+0) 1 (-5) 1 (-5) 1 (-5)

Armor Class 12
Hit Points 2 (1d4)
Speed 10 ft.
Senses blindsight 10ft
Languages
Challenge 1/4 (50 XP)

Special Traits

  • Brainfood. Once a victim is infected (see below) the eggs hatch within 24 hours and the host must make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw against disease or become poisoned until the skullworms are removed. Every hour that elapses thereafter, the creature must repeat the saving throw, reducing its Intelligence and Wisdom scores each by 2 (1d4) on a failure. This reduction lasts until the skullworms are removed. If the creature’s Intelligence or Wisdom score is reduced to 0, it is incapacitated for 1d4 hours. After that time, it awakes, its Intelligence and Wisdom scores restored to their normal values; however, the skullworms now control the creature’s body, although they don’t deprive the target of awareness.
  • Hidden Hunters. Skullworms lurk in stagnant water and other places of death. They can be noticed by adventurers with a DC 10 Intelligence (Investigation), Wisdom (Perception), or Wisdom (Survival) check. A creature that notices the skullworms can avoid their attacks.

Actions

  • Infect. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 0 ft., one target. Hit: the target becomes infected, see Brainfood above.
  • Malevolent Corrupters. The skullworms’ true purpose is to invade the bodies of other living creatures and control their minds. Once skullworm larvae lodge in a brain, they start to replace the consciousness of the victim with a malicious will. The larvae have limited access to the memories of the host and use them to copy their behavior almost exactly. Upon the death of their host, or if they find the host unsuitable for some other reason, the adult skullworms crawl out to seek a new host.

Tactics

Gradually, the skullworms corrupt and destroy what the host once held dear, usually in the cruelest ways possible. The victim is painfully aware of their body’s actions, but they are essentially an observer, unable to prevent any of it, which is perhaps the worst torment of all. A worm can remain in control of a host for years unless detected magically or unless someone who knows the person realizes that they behave out of character and possibly against their will. The worms ultimately force the victim to kill their family and friends and to destroy their own best-held accomplishments.

Description

Skullworms are maggot-like vermin, approximately half an inch long at full size. They exist in warm, damp, ill-seeming places such as swamps, sewers, rubbish heaps, and open graves. Often a living creature poking about their lair inadvertently transfers one or more skullworms to its body. The worms then search out a warm location on the creature, waiting until their host is sleeping or otherwise inert, and then enter the victim via one of its cranial orifices. Once inside the creature’s head, they lay eggs before dying.

The eggs hatch 4d6 hours later, and the larvae start to weave fibers into the victim’s synapses.

Any effect that cures disease kills any skullworms or unhatched eggs in or on a host. A creature already possessed by the skullworms when they are killed collapses and is incapacitated permanently, effectively brain-dead.

Only a regenerate, wish, or similarly powerful magic can restore the creature at this point.

Section 15: Copyright Notice

Creature Collection 5e Copyright 2020 Onyx Path Publishing, Inc.