Wurms and Wyrms, how dragons are tied to wurms Myth in Scarterra | World Anvil

Wurms and Wyrms, how dragons are tied to wurms

Calling a dragon a "wyrm" is complimentary as it's a sign of strength and status. Calling a dragon a "wurm" is a dire insult.   A common legend in Scarterra is that wurms are the descendants of dragons who gave into greed and hedonism and essentially degenerated them from noble flyers into lowly slithering beasts.   Wurms are similar to dragons in that they are big and scaly and have breath weapons.   Wurms on average are bigger and stronger than dragons, but they are far more primitive. They have no wings, no magical ability, and are only as smart as clever beasts.   Instead of flying through the air, they burrow through the ground. While some dragons can burrow fairly well, none can burrow half as well as wurms.   Some say that some dragons still morph into wurms, especially if they have Man Eater's Madness, but if this is the case it has never been credibly witnessed, though in this case an absence of evidence is not not necessarily evidence of absence because if a dragon did turn into wurm, it is unlikely that there would be any witnesses, at least no living witness.

Historical Basis

In the Third Age most dragons deny that they have any relation to wurms and are generally very offended by the very notion, but it seems the dragons of previous generations were more willing to accept the notion that wurms are essentially fallen dragons.   Limited records from the First Age showed that even dragons told the tale of some degenerate dragons devolving into wurms and even wrote it down. Oral histories of dragons that were record by elves in the Second Age reinforce this though it seems dragons gradually moved away from this legend.

Variations & Mutation

Some believe (encouraged by more scholarly modern dragons) that the ancient legends about depraved dragons of yesteryear degenerating into wurms was and is only a metaphor.   Yes, decadence and depravity can weaken a society and it probably had something to do with the decline of First Age dragon nations but they did not literally turn into wurms. Wurms superficially resemble dragons because they were created by Greymoria (or some other deity) to look that way.

Cultural Reception

Usually in the Third Age, stories of dragons become wurms are most popular with moralistic preachers who like apocryphal stories of how dragon's decadence destroyed them and their society paving the way for the First Unmaking.   Often followed with a tie in to something contemporary, "and this is why we must close down that brothel, lest we too suffer the fate of the wurms!"

In Literature

There are a few apocryphal songs and the occasional play.

In Art

A small level of paintings (now mostly on the Island of Lunatus have survived the Second Unmaking, and these famous paintings have been emulated by more modern artists hundreds of time, depicting dragons degenerating into wurms.
This is an extension of my 2023 Spooktober "Slither" entry
Related Species
Related Locations

Cover image: Symbol of the Nine by Pendrake


Please Login in order to comment!