Wednesday, June 12, 2013

The Wormpriest (ACKS Class)

Ah, that light trembling of the earth beneath our feet. Exciting, is it not? It was an endworm, what the unenlightened call a 'purple worm', as if the color is suggestive of anything important. Forever consuming - it was there in the beginning and will herald the end of all things, once one finds a suitable nest. It's happened once before you know - oh, there's evidence all right, out underneath the Starfall Sea - it's no coincidence that ocean is such a nexus of power. Ask any fisherman about his catch!
Those what came before knew not what they destroyed - oh, they helped it hatch, how could they not? They were so confident! Look at them now, though, slithering about amongst their Ah. The endworm. Yes!  Ah, to be there to see it! To be consumed and live forever! This foolish world of empires and peasants wastes the potential that could be.

The Wormpriest

In dank caverns under ugly towers toil the wormpriests, an apocalyptic cult that worships not the actual purple worm, but the potential of the monstrosities to destroy and consume. They are harbingers of ruin, always proselytizing about the End Times, the decadence of mankind, the futility of civilization, and all manner of gloom and doom.

Perhaps not too suprisingly, they have a decent following of adherents, especially amongst the downtrodden, who at the most simplest level may not mind an enormous worm or what-have-you devouring an unliked lord's castle.  Oftentimes, in areas where an wormpriest warren is long established and generally accepted, there occurs a fall feast dedicated to the "Worm of Autumn", which for adherents is a celebration of the minor apocalypse that the oncoming winter represents, and for others a reminder of the preparation required to get through that same season. They are often respected for their ability to de-worm humans and livestock.

For the wormpriests, however, such things are a necessary distraction, a required mummery for a group of men and women dedicated to the end of civilization. They are not actually priests - wormpriests are students of the arcane, and the endworm, or purple worm, is their field of study. They are taciturn in discussing their ultimate goal, and, as with any cult, rumors abound.

Roll a d12, or pick your favorite (or make your own, but the rule is you have to post it back here!):

  1. They believe the end of the world will be caused by a mass eruption of purple worms, and seek to understand them as to defend against that occurrence.
  2. Their continued efforts are what actually keep #1 from happening.
  3. They are attempting to get all the worms to dig too close to a volcano to rid the world of them.
  4. They control the worms in order to produce targeted earthquakes.
  5. In order to lead a wormpriest warren, you must be swallowed by a purple worm, and exit the "long way".
  6. They are ruled by intelligent purple worms from the far reaches of the stars.
  7. Their warrens are all connected by worm tunnels.
  8. They slowly turn into worms as they age.
  9. They are all small purple worms wearing mansuits.
  10. They're plotting to take over the world by using the worms to destroy whomever can stop them.
  11. They'll be the cause of the worm eruption that will end the world.
  12. They're trying to get the worms to cocoon themselves so they metamorphize into something they call a "tar-ask". Like a caterpillar into a butterfly. Tar-asks are harmless.
Wormpriests have no time for mundane rigors, and spend almost no time training in combat. At first level, they hit a unarmored opponent with an attack throw of 10+. They advance in attack and saving throws only two points every six levels of experience. They may only wield clubs, saps, staves, and daggers. The weapons they carry are often crafted to resemble worms, and saps are most effective in showing the resemblance. They cannot use shields or wear armor, fight with two-handed weapons, nor wield two weapons at the same time.

At first level, wormpriests can learn and cast arcane spells as a mage of two thirds their class level, as shown in the class table below. Wormpriests' repertoire can include a number of spells up to the number and level of what's listed, increased by his Intelligence bonus. They may use any magic items usable by mages.

Wormpriests quickly learn the utility of worms - their simplicity of form, and clarity of purpose. At 1st level, they introduce agreeable infestations into their bodies, making them immune to disease, including magical diseases caused by spells, mummies, or lycanthropes. Their bodies continue to change - at 3rd level, they develop loosened joints that allow them to move in unpredictable, sometimes unnatural, ways. The wormpriest gains a +1 bonus to Armor Class (when wearing leather armor or lighter) and is able to move freely. At level 7, this increases to +3, at at level 13, the bonus is +3.

At 5th level, the rigors of the wormpriest's studies take a turn. His skeleton weakens, and his softened bones allow him to contort his body in inhuman ways. He may make a proficiency throw of 18+ each round to escape from bonds or slip between the bars of a portcullis or like structure. This deterioration of his body give him a wormish mein, and he suffers a -1 penalty to the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demihumans. He gains an equivalent bonus with worms and vermin, for what good it may do him.

At 6th level, the wormpriest's mind is affected. The twists and turns of underground passageways hold no mystery for him as he has a worm's memory, and on a proficiency throw of 11+ may automatically know the route he has taken to get where he is, if he was awake at the time.

At 7th level, the wormpriest may begin magical research as a 5th level mage. Also, the experiments and other ravages he has subjected his body to bear fruit - he is like a living rot, and his lifespan is expanded threefold. At 8th level, the wormpriest gains a mutable anatomy, and some parts aren't where they should be anymore, nor may they be important any longer. When he must consult the Mortal Wounds table, the character may roll twice and choose the preferred result. He may also subtract his class level from the number of days rest needed to recover. He suffers an additional -1 (total of -2) to  the reactions, loyalty, and morale of humans and demihumans, as his features continue to deteriorate. (as well as an additional +1 (total of +2) to the reactions of oft-indifferent worms and other vermin)

At 9th level, the wormpriest may establish a warren. This is in all respects the same as the mage's sanctum, though certainly strongly themed.

At 13th level, the wormpriest may create more powerful magic items, as a 9th level mage.

Wormpriest Proficiency List: Alchemy, Animal Husbandry, Battle Magic,  Collegiate Wizardry, Contemplation, Craft, Diplomacy, Elementalism, Engineering, Familiar, Healing, Illusion Resistance, Knowledge, Language, Loremastery, Magical Engineering, Mapping, Mystic Aura, Quiet Magic, Performance, Prestidigitation, Profession, Sensing Power, Transmogrification, Soothsaying, Unflappable Casting, Vermin Slaying, Wakefulness

Wormpriest Template: This pre-generated template represents a travelling wormpriest spreading the news of the doom of the world while treating various parasitical ills. The template is ready for adventure. However, if your wormpriest's INT is 13 or greater, you may pick one or more additional general proficiencies before play if you'd like (see Starting Proficiencies in Chapter 4 of the ACKS Core Rulebook)

DESIGN NOTES: Here we have an exercise in renaming unrelated proficiencies so that they look like they were designed to go together.
ACKS BUILD POINTS: Hit Dice 0, Fighting 0, Thievery 1, Arcane 3
TRADEOFFS: 3 Thief skills - 2 traded for skills at 3,5,7. 1 from Fighting Style, traded to 1 at 6 & 8.

Bonus: Custom Spells

There may be some liberty taken with a few of these, I'll note it in italics when it occurs. They're all Arcane source.

Wormwalk; Level 1 

1 willing target, 6 turns + 1/level duration
Range: Touch

A creature affected by this spell immediately falls to the ground, his or her arms tightly pressed to their sides, and legs together. They may begin to burrow through earth at half their normal speed, carrying anything they possessed at the time of casting with them. They may take no actions while wormwalking

Movement Spell
Target can move through earth at half speed 15
Normal Carrying Capacity 1
Willing Target Unable to Act While Burrowing 0.3
6 turns + 1 Turn Per Level 1.5
Total: 6.75

Wormform; Level 2

1 willing target, 6 turns + 1/level duration
Range: 60'

When cast, the target of the spell immediately transmogrifies into a mass of worms with the same shape as the target - this mass quickly drops to the floor in a sickening squelch.

The target may begin moving or burrowing into earth at a rate of 5' per round, and may flow through openings as small as a single worm would be allowed through. The mass of worms has an AC of 4, and is not immune to weapons.

Transmogrification Spell
Assume "Gaseous" Form (Mass of Worms) 20
Not Immune to Weapons        0.75
Movement Rate 5', Can Burrow Into Earth 0.5
6 turns + 1 Turn Per Level 1.6
Total: 12

Infest; Level 3

Target: 3000 sq/ft of plants, Indefinite Duration
Range: 60'

Upon finishing this spell, 3000 sq/ft of plants are infested with parasites endemic to their species. These plants will flounder, and not produce for the season, if the effect is not dispelled.

Transmogrification Spell 
Infest Plants with Worms (i.e., transform from normal plants into worm-infested plants)   35
Target 3000 sq ft of plants 0.3
Indefinite Duration 3.5
Specific Type of Creature 0.75 (this may be wrong)
Total: 27.56

Rot of Fall's Passage; Level 3

Target: Area, Cone 20ft wide, 40ft long, Objects Only

The caster invokes the power of the Autumnal Worm, and invokes the spoil of winter. Unattended objects withing a cone 20ft wide by 40ft long rot and wither - wood rots, metal rusts, food spoils, water turns. If ingested, any liquid or foodstuffs will induce nausea as per stinking cloud. The effect is permanent unless dispelled.

Mixed Spell Type: Blast and Transmogrification
Blast: Nausea Inducing (If Items Ingested) 10
Transmogrification: Form's Physical Char. (aged, rotted form of original object)  10
Blast: 40 long, 20 wide Cone 2.5
Indefinite    2.5
Transmogrification: Limited Form (Aged Object) 0.75
Unattended Objects Only 0.3
Total: 28.13

Summon The Consumer; Level 4

Range: 60', Duration: 6 turns

With a rumble of earth, a purple worm erupts from the ground within 60' of the caster, ready to feed.

The worm is passively hostile to the caster, and has no special connection to it - if a wormpriest, he may very well welcome the glorious gift of being consumed by a purple worm, to live forever in it's flesh. The caster must concentrate to control the worm's actions and targets.

Irregardless of control exerted, the worm becomes distracted and burrows back into the earth after 6 turns.

Single creature  65
up to 18 HD 1.33
Certain Monster 0.7
Concentrate To Control 0.5
Range 60' 1.15
Passively Hostile 0.8
Two Special Abilities 1.66
6 turns 0.75
Summoned from thin air 1
Total: 34.66

Feed; Level 5

Range: 60', Duration: 6 turns

When cast, a willing creature undergoes a horrific transformation - its skull enlarges horrifically, and it's neck and mouth distend and expand. Its skin turns translucently purple, and it's mouth reforms into that of a purple worm, large enough to swallow a man, as its face is swallowed under segments of smooth skin.

Its body becomes a corpulent, bloated walking receptacle for that horrific mouth.

The transformed creature may bite for 2d8 points of damage. If they hit with their bite attack with an attack throw at least 4 higher than their target value, or an unmodified attack throw of 20, they may swallow whole a horse-sized creature. (mages who have studied this spell find that the digestive tract of the transformed creature has extradimensional properties) A swallowed creature takes 3d6 points of damage per round inside the target’s belly. The damage stops when either the creature dies or the transmogrified target is killed. If a creature that has been swallowed has a sharp weapon, it may attack the target from inside its belly with an attack penalty of -4. Should the swallowed creature die and remain in the target’s belly for 6 turns, it is irrecoverably digested.

As the spell ends, any swallowed creatures are harmlessly dispelled at the targets feet, in whatever state it was in, as also happens if the effect is dispelled.

(I had to add some logic in here for the swallowing bit to cover rules-lawyering)

Transform to form of living creature, +Special Ab., +Atks 35+20+10=65
Limited Form (Humanoid Purple Worm, swallow power only) 0.75
6 Turns 1
Total: 48.75


  1. Bravo! This class wins "Custom class most likely to show up in my nightmares".

  2. I salute you! That is one fine idea.

  3. Very nice! Reminds me strongly of 3.x's Oozemaster. Also been a fan of summoning spells for purple worms since the PC came out.

    One other note - I once saw an ACKS character on a wiki somewhere who had, among his language selections, Purple Worm. Any thoughts on adding a 'wormtongue' ability?


    1. Technically, looks like ACKS lists the Purp as vermin, I'd probably cover that as some sort of 'Speak With Vermin' spell effect, either as a spell (a level higher than Speak with Animals) or put it in as a custom power. The Contortionism or Caving would be the two custom powers that'd be easiest to replace with that.

      Thematically, I wouldn't imagine the cult needing to speak to the worms, just control/predict them to channel their destructive abilities. Analogous to asking a hurricane it's opinion.

      Interestingly enough, while ACKS lists Purple Worms as vermin (and therefore mindless) d20 lists them as Magical Beasts, with an animal's INT of 1, in which case a "Speak with.." ability makes a bit more sense, as d20 Purple Worms may have slight preferences.