A corpulent man reels on his feet as if drunk, but a closer inspection reveals the horrific truth—he’s not so much reeling as he is seething from within, as if his internal organs were coiling and writhing like a knot of greased snakes. Suddenly, with a hideous retching and tearing sound, the man’s face blooms out like a rotten flower and a pallid, five-jawed worm extrudes itself from the ragged hole in the neck where, only a moment before, a head sat.
AC 15, touch 9, flat-footed 15 (+3 armor, –1 Dex, +3 natural)
Speed 30 ft., burrow 20 ft.
Str 15, Dex 9, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 13, Cha 12
As a swift action, a vermlek can abandon an inhabited body, crawling hideously out of its host and leaving behind an empty sack of skin and bits of gristle. In so doing, it absorbs much of the body’s flesh to heal itself, restoring 2d6+3 hit points. A vermlek cannot later reclaim this body with its inhabit body ability.
A vermlek can crawl into the body of any dead Medium humanoid, consuming and replacing the bulk of the humanoid’s skeleton and internal organs as it does so. This process takes 1d4 rounds for the vermlek to complete, during which it is considered flat-footed. Once the process is complete, the vermlek appears for all practical purposes to be a living but hideously obese version of the previous humanoid—it gains a +8 racial bonus on Disguise checks to appear as a normal humanoid while wearing a dead body in this manner, but does not gain any of the abilities that the dead creature possessed in life, including natural attacks, unusual movement types, or bonuses to natural armor. It loses its own burrow speed while inhabiting a body, but gains the ability to wield weapons or wear armor shaped for humanoids (although note that the armor bonus granted by wearing armor does not stack with the bonus granted by the vermlek’s flesh armor ability).
A vermlek is healed by negative energy and harmed by positive energy as if it were an undead creature.
Environment any (Abyss; battlefields and graveyards)
Organization solitary or nest (2–20)
The hideous vermlek demon is one of the lower-ranking members of the demon race, barely above the dretch in power but remarkably more ambitious and intelligent than its pudgy lesser kin. They wriggle and crawl in nauseating numbers in many Abyssal battlefields or graveyards, impatiently awaiting a chance to find a humanoid body to inhabit. Outside of a host body, a vermlek appears like a fatheaded worm with four long tails, each of which ends in a wriggling nest of long filaments. In this form, the vermlek cannot wield weapons, and its bite and spell-like abilities are its only offensive options.
A typical vermlek is 7 feet long (with its filaments giving it a further 3 feet of length) and weighs 90 pounds.
Vermleks form from the souls of those who habitually violated the dead in life, such as graverobbers, necromancers, and necrophiles.
The process by which a vermlek inhabits and controls a dead humanoid is partially biological, partially necromantic. A vermlek’s body is boneless and exceptionally elastic—it can wriggle into a body through the mouth, a wound, or any other opening in less than a minute, eating the bones and organs within with noisy rapidity. It then settles into the cavity thus created, extending its four tails down into the torso and eventually into the hollowed arms and legs of its host, whereupon the filaments at the tips of these tails weave through nerves and muscle like a puppet’s strings. The vermlek can immediately use the body to move about, wield weapons, speak, and otherwise interact with society. The creature can control the coiling and wriggling of its body to keep its host appearing humanoid, but it can do little about the size of its body—humanoids inhabited by a vermlek always look hideously obese. Worse, the host body, which remains dead, rots normally—a vermlek that does not maintain its body’s freshness with gentle repose must abandon the rotting flesh 7 days after inhabiting it to seek out a new host.
Vermleks know that a keen eye that peers into the mouth of a host can quickly undo their deceptions, and as a result they tend to mutter or mumble when speaking to keep from opening their mouths too wide. Many use veils, helms, or scarves to hide their mouths. When confronted in combat, though, a vermlek in a host body quickly abandons its disguise, extending its hideous worm head out through the host’s mouth to give itself a secondary bite attack—doing so ruins the host body for further disguise purposes.
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Lords of Chaos: Book of the Damned, Vol. 2. Copyright 2010, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Author: James Jacobs.