Verman

The energies of the outer planes continually
seep into the Material Plane. Whether by clerics
channeling the powers of their gods or
arcane casters shaping the primal disorder of
the energy planes, there is a small but constant
flow of alien force into the mortal realms.
Occasionally, these forces accidentally create a
new race. And sometimes, it happens by
design.
A few centuries ago, a demon prince of considerable
power was actively involved in a series
of complex plots impacting the mortal world.
He found himself continually opposed by animen
(see page 17)—why they seemed to focus
on him, he never learned. The fact is, they had
no idea he was behind the evil they were facing;
they were just trying to protect their homeland.
The demon prince was angered and
decided to do something about it. He took a
cabal of his most loyal cultists and exposed
them to energies from his home plane, altering
them at a fundamental level and creating the
race of vermen. Shortly thereafter, he was distracted
by events closer to home and forgot
about his creations entirely. Such are the ways
of demons. Nonetheless, the race he created
lives on.
A race of twisted, evil, insect-headed
humanoids would seem a ripe target for wars of
genocide, but their creator left them a gift—he
ability to cloak themselves in illusion, to walk
among men without raising suspicion. With
this gift, they are able to infest castles and
cities, working to destroy from within.
Personality: Vermen are usually treacherous,
sadistic, cruel, greedy, and vile. Even the best
of them are difficult companions. They are not
exceptionally violent or warlike but only
because they prefer to see someone else being
hurt. They live by deceit, spending most of
their adult lives cloaked in the semblance of
another being. They were made to advance evil
and destroy order, and most take to their heritage
with blood-red joy and venomous enthusiasm.
Of course, there are exceptions, but they
are so few and far between that they’re little
more than legends.
Physical Description: In their natural form,
vermen are humans with the heads of arthropods
or worms. From spider to scorpion to
slug, each possesses a visage fit to drive most
men mad. This head is scaled to the rest of their
bodies. The species whose head a verman bears
is called his aspect: Thus, a verman might have
an ant aspect, a scorpion aspect, or a slug
aspect. There is no general pattern or relationship
between a verman’s aspect and
his personality—an ant-aspected verman is not necessarily a hard
worker, nor is a slug-aspected
verman any slower moving
than any other. However,
most vermen have at least
one trait which relates to
their aspect (see Verminous
Traits).
While most vermen do not
possess any other insectile
features, the chaos of their
creation occasionally results
in vermen with crab claws
for hands or splayed insectlike
feet. These features cannot
be hidden by their innate
disguise ability and must be
dealt with via mundane
means such as gloves, boots,
or illusion magic.
In all other respects, vermen
are humanoid, following
human patterns of height and
weight. Physically, vermen
are warm-blooded mammals.
Vermen tend to breed slowly,
producing at most two or
three children in a lifetime.
They do not raise their own
offspring. Instead, they
remove newborn human
children and leave their own
children in their place, and
then pay no attention to them
until the second birth.
The “second birth” is the
verman term for their coming
of age, the time at which
they become aware of who
they are. Vermen appear
fully human until adolescence.
At some point
between the ages of 12 and
16, they develop a vicious
fever followed by fits of
coughing and agonizing
headaches. After a week or
more, they are compelled to
flee as deep underground as
they can—usually into the
sewers and undercities of their home town. There they spend a month
metamorphosing into their final form. If the
vermen are long established in a city, there may
be others to guide the process and guard the
helpless larva as they transform; otherwise,
they must fend for themselves.
Even after that time, there is no recognition of
family bonds among vermen. A verman is
never concerned with whether or not another is
his parent, sibling, or child. After the second
birth, the newly aware verman almost always
abandons his foster family as well, leaving
them to believe the son or daughter simply ran
off one night and vanished.
The average verman lifespan is 70 to 90 years,
but very few ever die of old age. There are also
the rare Eternal Crawlers—perhaps one verman
in a hundred has a lifespan approaching a
millennium. Such individuals are often at the
root of ten thousand plots and conspiracies,
some stretched out over centuries.
Vermen survive among men and other races
due to the Veil, an innate spell-like power that
enables them to cloak their features in a seeming
of humanity.
There are two drawbacks to the Veil. First, the
verman must drop it for at least four hours a
day, though this does not need to be a continuous
stretch of time. This is rarely done when
sleeping, unless the verman feels exceptionally
secure. Usually, it is done when the verman is
awake and alone, and does not expect to be disturbed.
The Veil can be raised in one second,
but the verman must be conscious and not surprised,
flat-footed, or stunned in order to do it.
Second, vermen cannot truly eat when wearing
the Veil. They can seem to eat, and will in fact
consume food, but they do not derive nourishment
from it. To truly eat as his nature
demands, a verman must drop the Veil and consume
living prey—rats, fish, worms, anything,
so long as it is an animal and is alive when it is
consumed. Fortunately, only about half a
pound of such food each day is needed to survive.
Even vermen of the most saintly
demeanor must feed in this fashion.
Relations: The fact that vermen exist as a race,
and not as isolated aberrations, is a closely
guarded secret. Therefore, the race as a whole
doesn’t really have relations with other peoples.
On an individual level, a verman will happily
befriend, exploit, and then kill (or just
abandon, if killing is too much bother) anyone
of any race. The exceptions to this rule are the
animen (see page 17). Vermen were created as
funhouse distortions of the animen, and both
races have an instinctual and furious hatred for
each other. Gnomes and dwarves have occasionally
come upon the verman hives that exist
under some cities, but they have no concept
that the race lives primarily on the surface—as
far as they’re concerned, vermen are just another
annoying infestation of the subterranean
world.
Alignment: Vermen are usually chaotic evil.
The energies of the Abyss ebb and flow in their
blood, and it taints their every action. Perhaps
once in a generation a verman will turn away
from his heritage.
Verman Lands: Generally, vermen have no
lands of their own. They live and grow within
the largest cities, changelings planted within
unsuspecting human families. When they
undergo the second birthing, they know how to
seek out their fellows and learn the secret of
their own existence.
In very old and very large cities, there may
exist an undercity of vermen, perhaps equaling
1/500 of the total population. Under the streets,
under even the sewers and crypts, they have,
over the centuries, built a hive, a warren of tunnels
and chambers. Here they practice dark
arts, train the newly reborn, and take prisoners
for a long and exceptionally unpleasant death.
Religion: The vermen are the deliberate spawn
of a demon lord, created in a fit of fury when
his plans were destroyed by a small group of
animan adventurers. After warping a group of
cultists with abyssal energies and creating the
verman race, he found his attention drawn elsewhere
and no longer pays his offspring much
heed. Thus abandoned by their creator, the vermen
turn to other demonic entities, human gods
of evil, and anyone else willing to have them as
worshippers.
Language: Vermen speak their own language
and Abyssal. They can also speak Chitinian, the
“common tongue” of insects and arthropods.
Names: Vermen use the names they were given by their adoptive families. They also
learn a secret name upon completing the second
birth, which they keep to themselves and
use only in magical rites or as a sign of absolute
submission to a superior. Such names tend be
harsh and chittering, such as Chikchik, Karrak,
Kirriklick, or Rakkak.
Adventurers: If the goal is to spread evil and
misery, it will be easy to find a (disguised) verman
willing to come along. For that matter, if
the goal is to spread goodness and order, it will
likewise be easy to find a verman willing to
come along—and sabotage the expedition.
With gifts for roguework and arcane sorcery,
vermen are capable of offering a great deal to a
party of adventurers.
Of course, there is always that one verman in a
generation who revolts against his inheritance.
Such vermen tend to travel disguised as well,
but they usually (after a great deal of soulsearching
and angst) reveal their true natures to
their comrades.
Perhaps it is the consequence of the long time
they have lived abandoned by their creator, but
there is a growing movement, called the
Unveiled or the Unveilers, which advocates
dropping their secretive lifestyle and revealing
themselves to the world. Only a tenuous loyalty
to their own kind keeps these vermen from
openly revealing themselves, but an individual
verman who follows the unveiled path
may be more open with comrades after a shorter
period of time than is considered typical—or
wise. Vermen in general consider the Unveiled
to be a threat to the species and will kill anyone
who openly proclaims loyalty to their ways.
A player who wishes to create a verman character
should keep this fact from other the players.
The character should strive to appear in all
ways as if he were a normal human of his class.
Even good or neutral vermen are very hesitant
to reveal their true natures to others.
Verman Racial Traits
2 Dexterity, +2 Constitution, –2 Charisma:
Vermen are agile and tough, but their racial
instinct to remain hidden and plot from the
darkness reduces their ability to project their
personality in encounters with others.
• Medium-size: As Medium-size creatures,
vermen have no special bonuses or penalties
due to their size.
• Verman base speed is 30 feet.
• +2 racial bonus on Hide, Listen, and Gather
Information checks: Vermen prefer the shadows
but always watch the light.
• Vermen have access to much secret lore.
Non-rogue vermen may learn Decipher
Script as a cross-class skill.
• Darkvision: Vermen can see in the dark up to
60 feet. Darkvision is black and white only,
but it is otherwise like normal sight, and vermen
can function just fine with no light at all.
• Frightful Presence: When a verman Unveils
himself, his inhuman nature will likely terrify
anyone not well prepared for what they are
about to see. Anyone viewing the verman
must make a Will save with a DC of 10 +
one-half the verman’s Hit Dice + the verman’s
Charisma modifier. A character who
fails the save becomes frightened or shaken.
The character receives a +2 cumulative circumstance
bonus on the Will save for each
time he has encountered vermen. When this
bonus reaches +10, no further saves are necessary.
This ability is otherwise identical to
the frightful presence special attack (MM 8).
• Veil of Manseeming: This is the power that
enables the vermen to remain a hidden race. After the second birth, a verman gains the
ability to disguise his true appearance. The
actual features always match the gender of
the verman and the ethnic mix of the community
in which he was born, but generally
do not resemble the features the verman shed
upon discovering his true nature. Attempting
to see through the Veil requires a Will save
(DC 35), and there must be some reason to
suspect the verman of not being what he
seems. Races that can innately penetrate illusions,
or anyone using true sight or similar
spells, will not be fooled by the veil. A dispel
magic will destroy the Veil but only for 2d4
rounds. The Veil is a pattern illusion (PHB
158).
• Verminous Nature: Vermen are considered to
be vermin as well as humanoids for purposes
of magical effects. They are immune to
mind-influencing effects, including charms,
compulsions, phantasms, patterns, and
morale effects.
• Restricted Diet: Vermen must eat at least a
half pound of live food per day in order to
survive. They cannot derive nutrition from
dead food or plants.
• Improved Sneak Attack: Vermen are especially
good at hitting someone when he isn’t
looking. Any verman with the sneak attack
ability receives a +1 bonus to damage for
every five character levels.
• Abyssal Mien: There is obviously something
“wrong” with vermen. This unnatural aura
gives them a –2 racial penalty to Handle
Animal, Ride, and Animal Empathy checks.
• Verminous Traits: Every verman retains
some part of his ancestry, which is expressed
in a variety of ways. At 1st level, a verman
may pick one of the following special abilities.
Aspects that are especially likely to have
the ability are noted as well.
Mandibles: The verman has fangs,
mandibles, or pincers. These natural weapons
cause 1d4 points of normal damage as an
unarmed attack (ant, spider).
Chitin: The verman’s skin is tougher than
mere flesh. He gains a +2 toughness bonus to
Armor Class (beetle, snail).
Scurry: The verman gets out of the way
quickly. He gains a +2 racial bonus to Reflex
saves (fly, cockroach).
Survivor: The verman is exceptionally resistant
to physical assault and gains a +2 racial
bonus to Fortitude saves (cockroach).
Poison: The verman produces a vile toxin.
Once per day, the character can spit this
venom up to 10 feet. The poison has a DC to
resist equal to 10 + ½ the verman’s hit dice +
the verman’s Constitution modifier. It causes
1d4/1d4 Con damage. For every four of the
verman’s character levels, add +1 to the damage.
For example, a 4th-level character’s poison
would cause 1d4
1/1d4+1 Con damage,
and an 8th-level character’s poison would
cause 1d4+2/1d4+2 Con damage (scorpion,
spider).
Extreme Revulsion: The verman is even
more disgusting than most of his race. The
DC to resist the frightful presence ability is
increased by 5.
Web: Once per day, the verman can create a
web, as per the arcane spell, with the exceptions
that the range is Close (25 ft+2 ft./level)
and the radius is only 5 feet. The web is treated
as if it were cast by a wizard of the verman’s
Hit Dice or character levels, up to a
maximum of 8th level (spider).
Wallcrawler: The verman can scurry along
walls with ease. He can climb at 1/2 his base
speed and receives a +8 racial bonus on
Climb checks (fly, cockroach).
Hard to Kill: The verman simply doesn’t
know how to die. He has a 15% chance each
round to stabilize each round and does not
die until his hit points drop to –15.
• Favored Class: Rogue. A multiclass verman’s
rogue class does not count when determining
whether he suffers an XP penalty for multiclassing.
Vermen depend on stealth and
deception to conceal their true identities.
• Level Equivalent: Class levels +3.

Verman

The World of Ebb Olidammara Olidammara