5E Epic Monsters: Mongolian Death Worm

Today’s Epic Monster is supposedly found in the Gobi Desert, said to be so toxic that even its touch can kill. If you're thinking 'Mongolian Death Worm' give yourself a gold star!

Mongolian Death Worm 5e BANNER.jpg


This creature’s myth first spread beyond the steppes with a book by Roy Chapman Andrews called On the Trail of Ancient Man—no Mongolian officials he met had actually ever seen it, but they were all able to describe it in detail. Almost 60 years later the Tartar sand boa is shown to locals in the region and they say it’s what they’ve known as the ‘olgoi-khorkhoi’ (a nonvenomous snake so clearly not the Mongolian death worm of legend). Andrews writes about it again in The New Conquest of Central Asia, still unbelieving but describing it in the words of Mongolian Prime Minister Damdinbazar anyway: “it is shaped like a sausage about two feet long, has no head nor leg and it is so poisonous that merely to touch it means instant death. It lives in the most desolate parts of the Gobi Desert.”

So what else is this thing about? It burrows beneath the surface, sprays venom and discharges electricity, and fortunately it hibernates between August and May, coming above ground when it rains and gets wet. When it’s not killing folks by poisonous touch, it’s implanting eggs into the intestines of camels that it hasn’t killed off altogether. Is it deadly enough yet? No! This thing’s poison corrodes metal as well. Fortunately it really takes offense at the color yellow and a plant called goyo (sort of like celery and an unripened banana had a baby), and despite a lot of people trying over the past 30 years—including news teams, an explosives enthusiast with a Dune-inspired thumping machine, a real zoological journalist, and others—there’s still no solid evidence of its existence.

Design Notes: This little troublemaker is pretty straightforward—it’s Small-sized, super toxic, shoots lightning, sprays poison, and burrows in sand or dirt. Let’s do the numbers! The DMG rubric put this little miscreant up at a 2.833333, the Blog of Holding rubric at 1.791666, and that averages out comfortably above a 2 which I’m inclined to agree with.


Mongolian Death Worm
Small monstrosity, unaligned
Armor Class 13
Hit Points 55 (10d6+20)
Speed 20 ft., burrow 20 ft.
STR
DEX
CON
INT
WIS
CHA
13 (+1)​
16 (+3)​
15 (+2)​
1 (-5)​
14 (+2)​
6 (-2)​
Saving Throws Int -3, Cha +0

Skills Athletics +3, Perception +6, Stealth +5, Survival +4
Damage Resistances lightning
Damage Immunities acid, poison
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses blindsight 20 ft., darkvision 60 ft., tremorsense 20 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages
Challenge 2 (450 XP)

Toxic Blood. Whenever a creature damages the worm with a melee weapon attack and it is using a weapon that does not have reach, the creature takes 14 (4d6) poison damage. At the start of the worm’s turn, any creature grappling it takes 14 (4d6) poison damage.

ACTIONS
Slam. Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeoning damage plus 14 (4d6) poison damage.

Poison Spit. Ranged Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 14 (4d6) poison damage.

Lightning Breath (Recharge 5–6). The worm exhales lightning in a 15-foot cone. Each creature in the area must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw, taking 16 (3d10) lightning damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
 
Last edited:
Mike Myler

Comments

Al'Kelhar

Explorer
Pretty cool little beast. A couple of questions/thoughts:

Saving Throws: Is the creature proficient in Charisma saves, and hence, the Cha saving throw should be +0?

Skills: I'm not sure why a creature with an Int of 1 and which just lives in its natural environment would have the Survival skill per se (apes, bears, snakes etc. don't have Survival).

Senses: Given its burrowing nature and sandy habitat, could it be blind, and have tremorsense in place of blindsight and darkvision?

Slam: Thematically, I don't see a Small worm-like creature getting up much power to punch someone. Although the death-worm is allegedly "headless", could it have a Bite attack instead of a Slam?

Lightning Breath: Rather than a 15-foot cone, I imagine the electric discharge as being something more akin to burst radius, like that of an electric eel; maybe affecting a 10-foot-radius around the worm?

Anyway, just some ideas for due consideration (and binning, as appropriate).

Cheers, Al'Kelhar
 

Mike Myler

Adventurer
Pretty cool little beast. A couple of questions/thoughts:

Saving Throws: Is the creature proficient in Charisma saves, and hence, the Cha saving throw should be +0?

Skills: I'm not sure why a creature with an Int of 1 and which just lives in its natural environment would have the Survival skill per se (apes, bears, snakes etc. don't have Survival).

Senses: Given its burrowing nature and sandy habitat, could it be blind, and have tremorsense in place of blindsight and darkvision?

Slam: Thematically, I don't see a Small worm-like creature getting up much power to punch someone. Although the death-worm is allegedly "headless", could it have a Bite attack instead of a Slam?

Lightning Breath: Rather than a 15-foot cone, I imagine the electric discharge as being something more akin to burst radius, like that of an electric eel; maybe affecting a 10-foot-radius around the worm?

Anyway, just some ideas for due consideration (and binning, as appropriate).

Cheers, Al'Kelhar
Glad you like it ^__^
Saving Throws: Whoops! Fixed.
Skills: I like the idea of a Mongolian Death Worm tracking people/prey. Also weird to me that they didn't give the big predators Survival proficiency so I put the onus on the original 5E designers there. ;)
Senses: The reading didn't really indicate any tremorsense-bits so I didn't include that but why not? I'm inclined to leave it with all its senses though so let's just add that one on.
Slam: It could! But my artwork has a mouth on it (which kind of makes the illustration work) so it won't.
Lightning Breath: Now this is something the reading was pretty clear about--it ejects lightning, it doesn't just do a shockwave or something, it's coming out one end. So I went with breath. If anything I'd consider a 20-foot long 5-foot wide line instead, but not a burst or radius effect.
 

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