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The Spawn of Kyuss were introduced in the Age of Worms adventure path, originally published in Dungeon Magazine in 2005-2006, when it was run by Paizo. Some of Kyuss’ most powerful servants were reprinted in the Elder Evils supplement for 3.5e, and later got conversion stats in an early 4th edition web enhancement file. This means this is technically not the Spawn’s 4e debut, but it is the first time we get complete lore and lower-than-epic stats for them.

The Lore

In ancient times, Kyuss was a mortal magician and a charismatic cult leader, who led his followers to a remote jungle region in order to establish a base. There, he found ruins from an even more ancient pre-human civilization. With the knowledge he learned from those ruins, the cultist sacrificed his followers in a ritual to become a giant undead demigod whose body was made out of bright green worms. The Worm that Walks spent a long time imprisoned outside the world, but the prophecy of the Age of Worms foretells that he will return and devour the world in what is basically a worm-fueled zombie apocalypse.

The Spawn of Kyuss are undead created by infecting corpses with worms plucked from his own body. They’re easily distinguished by the wriggling mass of green worms crawling all over them, inside and outside. They’re Kyuss’ agents in the world and their presence presages his return. Even if the Worm’s return is not imminent, these creatures might still be found performing some task that furthers their patron’s interests, whether by themselves or allied with cultists.

The first Spawn were Kyuss’ original followers, sacrificed in that first ritual. Making new ones is a matter of performing a simple worm transplant from a spawn to an available body, living or dead. The ones listed here are not particularly smart, but it’s worth remembering that Larva Mages are also the spawn of Kyuss.

The Numbers

We get three varieties of Spawn here, all suitable as threats to Paragon-tier parties. They’re Medium Natural Animates with a Speed of 5 and Darkvision, plus the usual undead traits: immunity to disease and poison, a resistance to necrotic damage, and a vulnerability to radiant damage. They’re also vulnerable to fire - it burns the worms right up.

All of the spawn here can also transmit the Touch of Kyuss, which is basically an infestation of evil supernatural worms. It’s treated as a Level 16 disease resisted with Endurance (DC 25 to improve or 20 to maintain). Stage 1 makes the victim regain only half hit points from spending healing surges, and causes them to rise as wretches of Kyuss if they die. Stage 2 causes them to lose 2 healing surges, and if they ever reach 0 surges they die and rise as Sons of Kyuss. Stage 3 cuts to the chase and kills the victim right away so it can rise as a Son.

Son of Kyuss

These things look like zombies at a first glance, but they’re sapient and much stronger. Their goal is to usually spread the “blessing” of Kyuss to as many living people as they can. Though they’re not exactly geniuses at Int 6, they can and will coordinate in order to accomplish it.

Sons of Kyuss are Level 13 Brutes with 158 HP. They project a Fear of Worms aura which inflicts a -2 attack penalty to living creatures inside. Their basic attack is a Slam that damages and exposes the target to the Touch of Kyuss. It can also “shoot” Burrowing Worms in a Close Burst 1 (recharge 5+). A hit inflicts 10 ongoing damage, increasing to 15 on the first failed save and to 20 plus stun on the second. If someone dies from this they immediately rise as a wretch of Kyuss (see below). The wretch must be destroyed before the victim can be raised.

Wretch of Kyuss

An undead creature with a lower worm content than a full Son of Kyuss. It’s less sturdy but still quite dangerous and quite contagious, being a Level 13 Minion Brute. Its Slam deals light necrotic damage, and when it dies it bursts, inflicting necrotic damage in a Close Burst 1 and exposing anyone hit by this attack to the Touch of Kyuss.

Herald of Kyuss

These undead abomination were created from the bodies of angels sent by the gods to stop the Worm that Walks. They’re Medium Immortal Animates (undead), and have all the same traits as the other spawn. Also, they can fly at speed 6.

The Herald is a Level 16 Artillery monster with 116 HP. They have the same Fear of Worms aura as the Son, plus a Writhing Host aura of the same size that deals 10 necrotic damage to enemies caught inside. All of their attacks expose the target to the Touch of Kyuss on a hit, making them the most contagious spawn of all.

Their basic melee attack is a Rotting Caress that deals necrotic damage. They can attack at range by making Writhing Pronouncements that deal immediate and ongoing 5 necrotic damage. This worsens to 10 and a daze on the first failed save, and to 15 and a stun on the second (save ends). People killed by this turn into wretches of Kyuss, which must be destroyed before the victims can be raised.

Once per encounter they can call an Eruption of Maggots that acts as a disgusting fireball-sized area attack. It deals immediate and ongoing necrotic damage, and also creates a damaging zone that lasts for the rest of the encounter.

Final Impressions

Ewwww. Kill these with fire as soon as possible. If your GM is re-enacting the Age of Worms campaign, you can expect to run into these things very often. Their main gimmick is all about infecting people with the Touch of Kyuss, so PCs can expect to stop and cast Remove Affliction more or less after every fight unless they’re under extreme time pressure. Stage 1 is already a major debuff, and staying at Stage 2 is a serious gamble.