The Worm that Walks is imprisoned within an obelisk at the heart of Wormcrawl Island, a remote place not found on any nautical chart, forgotten by all but the wisest sages and most despicable cultists. This island is wild and deadly, filled with monsters of incalculable horror and might, infested with the worst sorts of creatures imaginable. The people who entombed Kyuss here chose wisely, for none but the most courageous (or foolish) would dare explore the haunted jungles, brave the swarms of biting vermin, or contend with the monstrous threats contaminating the place. Through the ages, many have settled here, including savage humans, forest giants, and others. No settlement has survived the perils of the island, instead succumbing to beasts of the jungle, madness inspired by the obelisk, or violence committed against one another. Ruins filled with bones and rot testify to the carnage of the inhabitants’ deaths.
To an outsider, the island is like any other tropical paradise, with high, mist-shrouded peaks and lush jungles buzzing with life. The forest canopy is home to several varieties of monkeys, birds whose plumage runs the spectrum, all sorts of crawling insects, and, of course, worms. Beneath its breathtaking exterior lies rot, decay, and pulsing evil. Wormcrawl Island is about four miles in diameter. Two mountains dominate the terrain. The eastern mountain is older and covered by dense jungle, and the western peak is jagged, bare, and topped with a smoking crater. Runoff from the mountains drains down to the interior and gathers in a large freshwater lake. The lake feeds a river that cuts a path to the ocean. Gathering on the shores of the river is dense foliage consisting of thorny bushes, tall grasses, and odd flowers. The most notable feature of the island is at its center, where the Worm that Walks languishes in the prison of its obelisk. All around the 100-foot-tall spire is blood rock, stone infused with the blood of countless sacrifices. Spewing up from this stone are pools of slime infused with Kyuss’s pestilence. The islet rises in the center of a sea of hot tar. Great bubbles rise from its depths to burst and release poisonous fumes that waft across the shores and fill the air with toxins.
The island is home to numerous creatures—undead and aberrations mostly—but there are all sorts of vermin, magical beasts, and other predators as well. Although these threats are many and varied, characters of a level likely to be exploring this place should be more than a match for such creatures.
The encounter map depicts one possible approach, placing the obelisk in the center of the island. If the adventurer travel from a different direction, change the compass to a direction serving your needs or sketch out the rest of the island. The following encounter areas are but a sample of those that could take place here.
A. Gruesome Greeting
Skulls mounted on stained poles along the island’s shores serve as warnings to drive off unwanted visitors. The skulls are all humanoid, and a check reveals small holes riddling each.
B. The River
The river is not deep enough for a seafaring vessel to navigate; characters equipped with rowboats can move upstream without a problem. The river is 100 feet wide on average. It is home to giant crocodiles, schools of flesh-eating fish, and a variety of water snakes. Swarms of biting insects carry filth fever, and each hour of travel adventurers must succeed on Fortitude saves or contract the disease.
C. The Lake
Waterfalls spilling down from the mountain create a beautiful spectacle for those coming upon this place, masking the danger lurking beneath its waters. Five hideous leechwalkers rise up and attack any who come too close.
A few caves and fissures pierce the slope of the volcano. Venting out from these gaps are plumes of poisonous gas. Characters flying over the island or climbing the volcano must make a Fortitude save against the poisonous air each minute they remain in the area. Each cave descends 1d4×100 feet into the volcano. In their depths, at least a dozen blessed spawn of Kyuss work to breach the walls and flood the tunnels and the island with lava to destroy the obelisk and free their master.
A volcano towers over the island, rising above the lower slopes at a sharp climb up to 2,000 feet above sea level at the lip of the caldera. At the top, the ground gives way to a 500-foot-deep pit a thousand feet across. At the bottom is a churning soup of lava, spewing clouds of poisonous gas and the occasional spray of flaming rock into the air. Characters lingering here are subject to the same In addition, there’s a 20% chance each minute that something belches forth from the flaming pit, striking a random character. The creature struck must succeed on a Reflex save or take bludgeoning damage and fire damage.
F. The Unquiet Jungle
The jungle that covers much of the land west of the volcano is crawling with fierce insects and contaminated by parasites and diseases delivered by clouds of thirsty mosquitoes. Each hour the characters travel through the jungles exposes them to slimy doom.
G. Shattered Idol
Rising up like a crone’s finger from the western mountain are the remains of a shattered idol. Little is left to testify to its original form, though it’s clear the figure wore robes. Rubble litters the ground around the idol, and 50 feet down the slope lies the head, which is carved to look like a mass of worms.
H. Sacred Pool
This pool served as a sacred meeting place. It is now black and corrupt, with a skin of green slime coating its surface. The water feeding the pool spills into the murk without disturbing the surface. The grass and underbrush all around is brown and slippery with rot. A successful Search check of the area turns up a few scraps of cloth, a shattered symbol of Obad-Hai, and a scattering of maggot-infested flesh.
I. Polluted Lake
The marsh is a mess of mud, pools of brown water, and dead reeds. In its center is a still, black pool of stinking water. Just beneath the surface are the rotting remains of the villagers who lived here. The salts of the water preserve their bodies, keeping them ready for animation. As long as no one drinks the water, the pool and its contents are harmless. Consuming or touching the water exposes the characters to the tiny green worms crawling through the muck. The worms function as those bestowed by the blessed spawn of Kyuss’s bestow worm ability .
J. Tar Pit
The islet that surrounds the obelisk is encircled by a sea of tar.