Purple Worm: It’s Tremors for D&D

Wow. Someone in the naming department was sure feeling creative when they made this thing. “Hey boss, we’ve got a purple worm monster, what should we call it?” Then the dude stroked his beard (let’s just imagine it was a dude with a beard) and said: “I’ve got it!” like he just invented the cure to cancer.

Honestly? Hats off to that dude.

Lore: Predatory Diggers

Chewing its way through solid rock, the purple worm is one of the greatest terrors of the Underdark. Large, powerful, and stupid, anything that crosses this beast’s path is its meal.

Drawn to noise, purple worms often appear to interrupt battles and tear into underground cities. Most civilizations of the Underdark, such as the mind flayers or the duergar, set up protective wards to keep these beasts away. Sometimes, they even appear on the surface, rising in the mountains to find its next meal.

As purple worms constantly devour earth and stone, their innards are loaded with valuable gems and precious metals. Thus, they are the ideal prey for the adventurous treasure hunter. On top of that, their tunnels are often made use of by the residents of the Underdark, as purple worms rarely ever return to a tunnel they’ve already made.

But this in itself is a warning. For where there are many tunnels, there are many purple worms.

There’s not a whole lot you can do with this lore. Granted, you’ve got some options. Maybe the party wants to go treasure hunting and they end up hunting a purple worm. Or maybe they’re fighting something else in the Underdark and one of these guys shows up to steal the show, attacking both sides of the conflict. You could even do some underground horror stuff with the tunnels, culminating in the arrival of the worm.

Can it make for an interesting campaign-long villain? No. It’s a giant worm. But if you want a big scary boss fight, this is your beastie!

Design: Dune, but Flamboyant

Yup. That worm sure is purple.

Frank Herbert, where you at?

Yeah, this pretty much tells you all you need to know. It’s a worm. It’s purple. And it’s a giant monster that’ll eat you alive in a single gulp. It’s basically just a more colorful version of Dune’s iconic sand worms.

Which is fine. Giant sand worms are cool! And this one does look pretty damn intimidating, what with all the spikes adorning its entire body.

Does that mean it’s trying to ward off a predator? A giant bird, maybe?

There really isn’t much to talk about with this design. It’s exactly what you expect while just being creative enough to still be cool.

Stats: Devourer of Wizards

You do not want to mess with these dudes! Their AC is just shy of an even 20 and their HP is well into the triple-digits! Killing it ain’t gonna be easy, no matter how experienced the adventurers.

Oh, and don’t let it eat you. It’s gonna try to do that. A lot.

Its bite attack doesn’t do all that much damage on its own. But should the victim fail the Dex save (with a DC of 19), you’ll get swallowed. Every turn you spend swallowed, you take a dangerous 21(6d6) acid damage at the start of each of its turns. If you want to get out, your party will have to deal 30 damage in a single round.

Should it die with you in there, you’ll need to crawl out. Which isn’t hard, but it is gross.

Finally, we have its Tail Stinger. Damage wise, this can be really bad. The initial piercing damage isn’t all that frightening, but fail the Con save (again, DC of 19, so good luck with that) and you’ll take a monstrous 42(12d6) poison damage.

But hey! Succeed the save and you only take half of that!

Both of those attacks can make being hit by this monster absolutely terrifying. The sheer tension that can arise as someone rolls for the saving throw, knowing that their character might die if they screw it up, is palpable. And the panic of the rest of the party to get a swallowed teammate out before it’s too late is perfect. This is a terrifying monster.

Unfortunately, in terms of actual creativity and strategy, there’s not much to this fight. It’s just ‘hit it until it dies and hope we survive that long.’ Sure, it has tension. But a slugfest is still a slugfest.

Placement

This monster ranks slightly above average in all categories. None of them are exceptional, but none of them are truly bad. As a giant boss monster, it’s not my first pick, but it’s still a good pick.

With all that in mind, the Purple Worm is going to #47 on the Best of the Bestiary!

  1. Beholder
  2. Death Tyrant
  3. Mind Flayer
  4. Dragon Turtle
  5. Mummy/Mummy Lord
  6. Nagas (all three of ’em)
  7. Green Dragons
  8. Red Dragons
  9. Blue Dragons
  10. Black Dragons
  11. White Dragons
  12. Silver Dragons
  13. Couatl
  14. Behir
  15. Aboleth
  16. Sea Hag
  17. Lamia
  18. Bronze Dragons
  19. Brass Dragons
  20. Copper Dragons
  21. Gold Dragons
  22. Chuul
  23. Kuo-Toa
  24. Gibbering Mouther
  25. Kraken
  26. Intellect Devourer
  27. Chimera
  28. Death Knight
  29. Fomorian
  30. Bone Devil
  31. Dracolich
  32. Faerie Dragon
  33. Gelatinous Cube
  34. Lich
  35. Peryton
  36. Orcs (all four of ’em)
  37. Magmin
  38. Kobold
  39. Kenku
  40. Hobgoblins
  41. Night Hag
  42. Green Hag
  43. Black Pudding
  44. Ankheg
  45. Hook Horror
  46. Oni
  47. Purple Worm <————–
  48. Storm Giant
  49. Hill Giant
  50. Empyrean
  51. Efreeti
  52. Grimlock
  53. Minotaur
  54. Dao
  55. Cloud Giant
  56. Manticore
  57. Drow (all four of ’em)
  58. Shadow Demon
  59. Modrons (all five of ’em)
  60. Marilith
  61. Drider
  62. Aarackockra
  63. Azer
  64. Demilich
  65. Spectator
  66. Gray Ooze
  67. Ochre Jelly
  68. Hydra
  69. Marid
  70. Harpy
  71. Werejackal
  72. Otyugh
  73. Half-Dragon
  74. Cambion
  75. Fire Giant
  76. Nothic
  77. Pixie
  78. Animated Armor
  79. Banshee
  80. Basilisk
  81. Yochlol
  82. Bulette
  83. Cloaker
  84. Darkmantle
  85. Doppelganger
  86. Ghoul and Ghast
  87. Ettin
  88. Medusa
  89. Pit Fiend
  90. Erinyes
  91. Chain Devil
  92. Bearded Devil
  93. Barbed Devil
  94. Spined Devil
  95. Ice Devil
  96. Mimic
  97. Djinni
  98. Merrow
  99. Nalfeshnee
  100. Glabrezu
  101. Chasme
  102. Grell
  103. Barlgura
  104. Horned Devil
  105. Balor
  106. Shadow Dragon
  107. Myconids (all four of ’em)
  108. Piercer
  109. Werebear
  110. Lizardfolk
  111. Vrock
  112. Dretch
  113. Pseudodragon
  114. Gnolls (all three)
  115. Goristro
  116. Hezrou
  117. Manes
  118. Frost Giant
  119. Weretiger
  120. Werewolf
  121. Duergar
  122. Quasit
  123. Dryad
  124. Flumph
  125. Goblin
  126. Nightmare
  127. Wereboar
  128. Wererat
  129. Githyanki
  130. Owlbear
  131. Planetar
  132. Imp
  133. Ogres/Half-ogres
  134. Clay Golem
  135. Flameskull
  136. Displacer Beast
  137. Carrion Crawler
  138. Githzerai
  139. Grick
  140. Invisible Stalker
  141. Rug of Smothering
  142. Bugbear Chief
  143. Bugbear
  144. Flesh Golem
  145. Vine Blight
  146. Twig Blight
  147. Needle Blight
  148. Mephits (all six of ’em)
  149. Bullywug
  150. Hellhound
  151. Ettercap
  152. Gas Spore
  153. Cockatrice
  154. Lemure
  155. Homonculus
  156. Merfolk
  157. Solar
  158. Deva
  159. Gorgon
  160. Hippogriff
  161. Griffon
  162. Cyclops
  163. Centaur
  164. Ghost
  165. Pegasus
  166. Fire Elemental
  167. Water Elemental
  168. Air Elemental
  169. Stone Giant
  170. Deep Gnome
  171. Dinosaurs (All six of them)
  172. Iron Golem
  173. Stone Golem
  174. Earth Elemental
  175. Galeb Duhr
  176. Helmed Horror
  177. Flying Sword
  178. Crawling Claw
  179. Violet Fungus
  180. Shrieker
  181. Gargoyle
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