In DRAGON magazine #61 there appeared a curious creature called the “Light Worm” that has occupied my imagination over the last few days. It was described as follows:
The light worm looks very much like a giant snake, but there are several distinguishing features. The worm’s coloring is black on the underside and alternating bands of violet and light blue on top. The head is that of a normal snake, except for two small bumps above the eyes that may have been or may yet evolve into horns. Along the beast’s underside are two rows of small stubs which are apparently the vestiges of some sort of “feet.”Callison, 49
The worm’s bite was exceedingly deadly, but what made it so captivating for me was the chance that the worm would create a sphere of colored lights around its victim. I found myself asking, “why would the creature use colored lights in this situation?”
To get away.
So often we, as DMs, tend to get into the mindset that each monster has to continue fighting until it dies. It’s as though we’ve all played video games so long that we can’t remember that most creatures in life don’t want to die if they get cornered – they want to get away. The Light Worm is just such a creature and using the colored lights to help it get away is a brilliant way to get the players to understand this lesson as the creature scurries away from danger.
Here’s a colored version of the worm that I made using the original illustration from DRAGON #61 that would feel more at home in my game world. As you can see I dispensed with the violet, blue color scheme and instead went with something more akin to the snakes I’m more familiar with.
Callison, Willie. Dragon’s Bestiary, Light worm. DRAGON Magazine # 61. TSR, Inc. 1982. pg 49.