Wormhearted Ones (5e Race)
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"I always do what my heart tells me to- most often it tells me to hunger for power."
A wormhearted one in an innocuous creature. Most frequently it resembles an ordinary humanoid of another race, quite the same as any other member of its species. Perhaps it seems more thin and wan than might be expected, with pale skin that may seem to glisten under a certain light. Perhaps it seems to blink infrequently, almost as though it were only a rehearsed action, or a thin film appears to cover its eyes. Perhaps, if a watcher is very observant, they might notice that a wormhearted one has a forked tongue, with which it tastes the air when it thinks that nobody is watching.
All these are signs that an apparently ordinary person is no such thing. Instead, they have made a pact with a dark power from beyond the stars and become a wormhearted one. These creatures are known as wormkind and they seek out those that they might infest and turn to their own dreadful purpose. Wormkind offer their bargain to those who suffer from sickness or disease. The trade is simple- the wormkind enters the body, eating away the canker within. In exchange it is permitted to also consume the heart and then curls up to nestle within its victim's chest, its malign influence seeping through their body. Humans are the species most likely to play host to wormkind, since they are an ambitious yet short lived race, likely more willing to accept the extended lifespan that the wormkind offers.
A wormhearted one has two minds: that of the wormkind and that of the host. While often they are able to work together, there are times when they are in opposition. At this time a wormhearted one seems to be in a strange, silent battle with itself as the wormkind within contests the will of the body. Ultimately, the wormkind brings it sharpened intellect to bear and most often quashes any of its host's complaints.
Once the wormkind and its host are joined, there is no separating them. Doing so kills both of them. If one dies the other also expires- though while its host is unconscious the wormkind can take temporary, though imperfect, control of their body.
The multiverse is a vast and terrifying place, with myriad universes that burst into existence spontaneously and can be extinguished just as quickly. One such universe was the birthplace of the monstrous race known as wormkind. In their original world, the form of the wormkind was one that transcended mortal understanding. However, when their reality began to collapse around them, the result of their own reckless experimentation with magic, they managed to cast a spell powerful enough to open a gate between the planes and flee across the multiverse. The journey battered them and stripped them of their incredible power, reducing them in form until they were little more than slender, ethereal worms.
The bodies of wormkind are weak, but their minds are sharp and their greed for life great. When their journeys through the multiverse take them to a plane with intelligent life they seek out potential hosts among any humanoids, targeting the ill and sickly. Wormkind can only enter a willing victim and so must find those disposed to accept their bargain rather than forcing themselves upon just any creature. Once the wormkind is within its host, however, it pushes hard to control the wormhearted one and use it for its own purposes.
All wormkind seek power above all else, desiring to return to their former glory days. While there might be some variation as to what they aim to use this power for, mostly it is to subjugate other races, which wormkind see as 'lesser' and find sickeningly weak- ironic, given that they themselves have been reduced to such a tiny, feeble form. Now that the wormkind has found itself in a new reality, it expects the inhabitants to bow down before it in worship. Fortunately, no wormkind has yet achieved the kind of power that they all hunger after. Wormhearted ones know that it is only a matter of time, however. The presence of wormkind within them extends their lifespan, giving them ample opportunity to hunt for the might that they crave.
A wormhearted one within a village, town or city must keep a low profile in order to avoid discovery. While the signs that mark them out as unnatural are inconspicuous, prolonged contact with other creatures, particularly close friends or relatives, will reveal that something is amiss. Wormhearted ones like to lurk in dim light where their stranger qualities are less obvious. A wormhearted one's goals vary, depending on which of the two consciousnesses exerts greater control. Sometimes the wormkind is content to allow its host to continue to live its life as though nothing had happened, plotting in the background. Others drive their host to seek out power: hoping to find some way of regaining the vast arcane might that they held before the collapse of their universe so long ago. As such, a wormhearted one is sometimes drawn to the scent of adventure.
Wormhearted ones are spread out across the multiverse and rarely meet with one another. When they do they most often form alliances, knowing full well that they are safer together than separated. When two or more wormhearted ones meet, the wormkind within them are certain to step up their efforts to find some way of claiming power- using their collective intellects to scheme and plot for a way to return their race to its former transcendent glory.
The life of a wormhearted one is strange. It has two minds, though they often think so much in tandem that they are indistinguishable from just one. When the two sides do fight, the actions of their shared body may become unusual or erratic. The wormkind can't totally overpower its host, since its mind cannot control the body alone with sufficient coordination to appear normal. Instead, when it has to force them to follow its will, it usually argues them into submission, demonstrating to them how much easier life is with it in control. After a while of being taken over in this manner, it begins to take less and less effort for the wormkind to establish its dominance over a host mind that becomes increasingly unable to think for itself.
Wormhearted One Names
Wormkind have names that are impossible for mortals to understand, let alone pronounce, since they are related to the eldritch, inhuman philosophies of wormkind. Mostly, a wormhearted one uses the name it had before it was possessed. Sometimes, however, to represent the dichotomy between the two minds of the wormhearted one, it takes on another name with which it refers to itself as a collective whole.
Names: Split-tongue, Twice-damned, Two-toothed, Double-think, Twin-faced, Mind-cleft.
Wormhearted One Traits
The result of an eldritch union between aberrant worms and humanoid flesh.
Ability Score Increase. Your Intelligence score increases by 2, and one other ability score of your choice increases by 1.
Age. The presence of wormkind within a body extends its lifespan and maintains its youth. A wormhearted one can live for about another one-thousand years after its possession, not appearing to age right up until their death, at which point one-thousand years of decay suddenly catch up with them in a few gruesome seconds.
Alignment. Wormkind are usually neutral evil, driving their hosts to subjugate other races and seek power- however, the host may be of any alignment, countering the demands of the parasite with its own ends.
Size. Humans and other races of their general size and proportions serve as the best hosts for a wormhearted one. Your size is Medium.
Speed. Your base walking speed is 30 feet. You have a swimming speed of 30 feet.
Darkvision. You can see in dim light within 60 feet of you as if it were bright light, and in darkness as if it were dim light. You can't discern color in darkness, only shades of gray.
Amphibious. When you are totally submeged, you are able to breathe through the film of slime that coats your skin. You can breathe in both air and water.
Blood of the Worm. The blood of a wormhearted one is replaced over time with a thick, acidic ichor. Whenever a creature within 5 feet of you scores a critical hit against you with a melee weapon attack, you may use your reaction to deal 1d12 acid damage to that creature. Once you use this trait you cannot use it again until you complete a short or long rest.
Twin Minds. The wormkind within keeps your mind focused and under your control. You have advantage on saving throws against being charmed and magic can't put you to sleep.
Aberrant Fortitude. Beginning at 3rd level, the wormkind can continue to fight for you once the host mind has been rendered unconscious. When you drop to 0 hit points, your body continues to fight, you drop any item you are holding in your hands and you become a creature under the control of the DM. In this new form you retain your game statistics, but your hit points, Armor Class, actions, as well as your Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution score are replaced with those of a zombie. In addition, you cannot use any of your class features (though retain your racial traits). You do not take death saving throws while your body is a zombie. You fall unconscious when the zombie drops to 0 hit points or within one minute, whichever comes sooner. Once you have used this trait, you cannot use it again until you have finished a long rest.
Unnatural Nature. Your creature type is both aberration and humanoid.
Languages. You can speak, read, and write Common and Deep Speech.
Random Height and Weight
|4′ 8″||+2d10||110 lb.||× (2d4) lb.|
*Height = base height + height modifier
When creating a wormhearted one character, you can use the following table of traits, ideals, bonds and flaws to help flesh out your character. Use these tables in addition to or in place of your background's characteristics.
|1||I talk to myself- speaking aloud the constant arguments between my two halves.|
|2||We always refer to ourselves in the plural.|
|3||I often feel the need to reassure others that the 'good half' is in charge- even when it isn't.|
|4||I frequently forget that no one else can hear what my wormkind is saying.|
|5||I treat non-wormhearted ones with scorn, assuming they don't understand my world.|
|6||My appearance is a constant source of obsession as I make sure I don't look too alien.|
|7||I become vacant and unfocused whenever my two halves hold a conversation, which is often.|
|8||I've invented a third personality who mediates between my squabbling halves.|
|1||Power. I will reclaim the arcane glory that I once wielded and subjugate all lesser races with it (Evil).|
|2||Kindred. It's important to look after wormkind so that the species never dies out (Lawful).|
|3||Freedom. With the power we wield we can do whatever we want whenever we want to (Chaotic).|
|4||Knowledge. Wormkind were scholars and arcanists- we will reclaim the knowledge they lost (Neutral).|
|5||Conflict. My wormkind pushes one way while I push another, making moral decisions all but impossible (Any).|
|6||Compassion. I was freed from disease by my wormkind and seek to save those who were less fortunate (Good).|
|1||The process of becoming a wormhearted one wiped some of my memories- I'm desperate to get them back.|
|2||My lover from before the change knows the truth, but still accepts me for what I am.|
|3||I think that I once met another wormhearted one and will do whatever it takes to find them again.|
|4||I carry a mirror everywhere I go- it makes it easier to have conversations with myself, my only friend.|
|5||One particular human once found me out for what I am. I have sworn to destroy them for it.|
|6||My wormkind half seeks one particular magical item to return it to its former glory.|
|1||Once I've claimed even the slightest bit of power, I hold onto it with all my might.|
|2||I have violent mood swings as each of my different halves struggles for control.|
|3||I underestimate everyone because they don't have a wormkind coiled in their chest.|
|4||When my wormkind takes control, it's such a good actor that it's all but indistinguishable from my normal manner.|
|5||I'm so used to lying to other people that I assume they're all lying to me.|
|6||It amuses me to unnerve people by tasting the air with my tongue and very rarely blinking.|