Treacherous primeval dragons of the northern regions of the world, linnorms thrive on their hatred for those they deem to be lesser creatures and seek to inflict as much suffering as possible unto their unfortunate victims. Sweeping bones and treasures alike into giant piles in its lair, the typical linnorm has a barbaric nature made all the worse by its insatiable greed and atrocious gluttony. Few creatures are as bold and as cruel as linnorms, and for that most people are thankful.
Linnorms are not true dragons, but they nonetheless possess incredible strength and deadly powers that often rival authentic dragon brutality. Their massive frames make crushing smaller enemies a simple task, and of those who have felt the sting of a linnorm’s venomous bite, few have survived the devastating poison long enough to tell the tale. A linnorm’s body is serpentine and lacks wings, yet these dragons fly through the air with supernatural ease, accomplishing the feat as easily as a fish through water.
Beyond the physical might, venom, and devastating breath weapons typical of all linnorms, the beasts all share a potent final defense—the death curse. This powerful plaguing of the mind manifests itself in myriad forms, but always serves as a horrid vengeance against any who might manage to slay a linnorm. Some theorize that the curse is a sending from malevolent gods who watch over linnorms and view them as destruction-loving pets. Others believe the linnorms’ curse is the closest remaining connection they have to the primeval world of the fey, from whence the first of these monsters is said to have come. Whatever the case may be, its curse makes killing a linnorm as dangerous as letting it live.
True dragons of higher intellect often hold linnorms in great scorn, viewing the beings as prematurely evolved beasts and refusing to even acknowledge the creatures as related to them. Linnorms have few feelings regarding the matter, battling younger and older dragons alike just as readily as any other creatures who dare to step foot in their territories. Their simplemindedness stifles any ability to assemble mass sieges or even cooperate in small groups, so linnorms almost always function alone, individually hunting over large territories in order to waylay as many travelers as possible. Linnorms only seek a mate once during their long lifetimes, the female producing several clutches of up to six eggs as a result. Of these eggs, only one will survive—the first to hatch immediately feasts on its unhatched brethren.
Despite their lust for devastation, linnorms usually live in relatively remote areas, never straying far from the northernmost reaches of the world. As they are universally hated and feared by most other intelligent creatures, their tendency to dwell in more isolated regions helps ensure their survival; while linnorms are vicious and unforgiving, their lack of organization makes them highly susceptible to raiding parties seeking to eradicate their presence, though such parties would need to be made up of truly impressive individuals. More often than not, a linnorm resides totally undisturbed in the spot it chooses as its own for hundreds of years, stewing in its own malevolence until finally snapping and going on a rampage. Sometimes, villages aren’t even aware of a slumbering linnorm’s proximity, but usually such settlements have long traditions and local legends revolving around “their linnorm.” Since a linnorm can hibernate for centuries, villages composed of shorter-lived humanoids might consider these tales as little more than quaint stories, but when the linnorm wakes, the truth becomes impossible to doubt.
Linnorms come in many different varieties, but all share the qualities of being horribly strong and bestial. They feast solely on meat, usually eating goats and other mountain animals when more intelligent creatures such as humanoids don’t readily present themselves. Linnorms are prone to gorging and then falling into a deep sleep near their treasure hordes, waking either when they become aware of intruders in their vicinity or to feed once more.
The linnorms presented on the following pages represent only four of their kind. The most legendary linnorms are the crag linnorm, ice linnorm, and tarn linnorm, but others exist as well. Rumors of even more powerful unique linnorms persist in lands where these dragons are well-known and feared. The largest of their kind, unique linnorms are never less powerful than tor linnorms (who are often mistakenly thought to be the most dangerous species).
While each linnorm has several unique powers, they all share certain abilities in common, as detailed below. In addition to these, every linnorm possesses a breath weapon and a poisonous attack, but the specific effects of these attacks vary from species to species.
When a creature slays a linnorm, it becomes targeted by that linnorm’s death curse. The exact effects of a death curse vary, depending upon the type of linnorm. The save DC of a linnorm’s death curse is always Charisma-based.
A linnorm has continuous freedom of movement, as per the spell of the same name. This ability cannot be dispelled.
A linnorm has continuous true seeing, as per the spell of the same name. This ability cannot be dispelled.
Environment any ocean or coastline
Organization solitary or patch (2-16)
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary 3, © 2011, Paizo Publishing, LLC; Authors Jesse Benner, Jason Bulmahn, Adam Daigle, James Jacobs, Michael Kenway, Rob McCreary, Patrick Renie, Chris Sims, F. Wesley Schneider, James L. Sutter, and Russ Taylor, based on material by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams.