Werm Species in The Bubble | World Anvil

Werm (Verm)

The Werm are the most recent species to achieve emergence prior to humanity and the newest members of the society of contemporary races. Of all the aliens encountered in the Bubble, the Werm are perhaps the closest to human kind in evolutionary origin and body plan.   Whilst all the species in the society of contemporary races are necessarily great engineers (because they must have devised the flicker drive independently) the Werm may be the most gifted since their natural anatomical attributes gave them a tremendous advantage in the development of science and technology when their civilization began to advance beyond its primitive beginnings.   In the cover image, a Werm engineer on their colony world of Radeff in the Barren Reaches surveys the view over the badlands. He wears a necklace of small memgems and extends his right lifting arm to gesture to unseen companions.

Basic Information


Adult Werm stand roughly three meters tall and are bipedal, with thick legs ending in four toed feet with curved retractable claws. A fat prehensile tail is rubbery in appearance, almost as long as the legs and remarkably strong. They are possessed of two pairs of limbs at the top of the torso. The "lifting arms" are most similar to the human design but with a simpler hand structure consisting of only three elongated digits. The "guiding arms" are more delicate, emerging from the top of the rib cage, multiply jointed, with five separate points of articulation and terminating in a trunk like appendige with highly sensitive sensory capabilities for touch, taste and smell and capable of a remarkable degree of fine motor control. The guiding arms can be folded against the chest for protection but when fully extended they may reach more than five meters from the base to the tip.   Whilst their limbs and head are hairless, the torso is furred with a fine pelt, usually coloured golden or red, although other colours and patterns can occur. The skull is elongated, shaped like a rugby ball and houses a recessed pair of eyes on either side, a small pair of stubby projecting ears and a wide central mouth with a sharp set of teeth. There is an atrophied nasal zone but the primary function of smell has been delegated to the guiding arms.   Males and females share the same general body plan but on average the females are about 20% bigger than the males.

Ecology and Habitats

The Werm originated as an arboreal species living in the vast forests of a super earth known as Taculax where a rich variety of fecund life thrives under the red giant star they call Ankaradin. Their anatomical adaptations are an evolutionary response to this ecosystem, the lifting arms, legs and tail letting them climb high in the trees to escape predators, whilst the long guiding arms let them reach for the best fruit on flimsy branches even higher in the canopy that would not support their weight. Their instinctive control of short range static electric fields seems to have evolved as a rapid, simple defense mechanism to provide limited shielding from cosmic rays when Ankaradin flared, giving them just enough time to get to ground and better physical shelter.   Although the Werm now live in great cities far from their ancestral forests they still favour complex three dimensional architecture that provides them with opportunities to climb, hang and jump through their buildings and are not comfortable in wide open spaces.

Dietary Needs and Habits

The werm are ominovores and so, like humans, they can eat a wide variety of animals and plants. Their teeth allow them to tear flesh easily and their digestive systems are robust. In the recent evolutionary past, they both hunted and grazed in the forest canopy .

Additional Information

Social Structure

Werm society is made up of independent Collectives, which are somewhere between the human idea of a family and a corporation, being looser than the former but more closely bound than the latter. We might think of them as tribes or nations but they are not connected with specific places or with bloodlines. It is possible but rare for individuals to change Collective but more usually they will remain in the same one for life. Collectives are of all sizes and do not particularly concentrate on any one profession or race. Their function is to provide a form of social service through bonding rituals and educational opportunities. They are the sponsors of sports teams of all kinds and compete fiercely with one another.   Perhaps the nearest human equivalent of a Werm Collective is a supporters club for a football team. But the Werm Collective operates in all areas of life, not just the sporting arena.   Within the Bubble, the T’annak Collective, the Binolix Collective and the Prantax Collective are the three most important for their interactions with humanity.

Perception and Sensory Capabilities

The Werm are blessed with an array of great sensory abilities. Despite the apparent simplicity of the eyes and ears, their sight and hearing cover frequency ranges greater than humans can perceive. Their sense of smell, mediated via the guiding arms is as good as most earthly dogs. In addition they have a special ability to manage the build up and flow of static charge in their fur which they can use to create localised electric fields round their body.

Civilization and Culture

Major Language Groups and Dialects

The Werm use a form of syncopated atonal warbling they call speech singing which is always coupled in face to face conversations with intricate hand movements in the "guiding arms", making it a multi channel language. In the written form it consists of two parallel staves representing both these modes of expression and their simultaneous conjunctions, which alter the meaning of the compound form according to the relative strength of each mode and the temporal ordering of the elements.   There are believed to be at least seven major language groups in Werm culture which cut across the Collectives to form an orthogonal social structure.

Common Dress Code

Whilst the Werm wear many types of clothing, a very popular style consists of fabric woven into fine metallic meshes in silver and gold colours which they drape over their fur. Using their natural electromagnetic abilities and the magnetic designs of the tailors who make these specialist fashions they can animate the fold and flow of the cloth to express emotion in an even richer way than their language otherwise allows. It is one of the benefits of civilization which the curmudgeonly despise and the young and artistic relish.

Common Customs, Traditions and Rituals

Werm culture has a special place for "memgems". They are crude devices for memory and emotional storage, long since superseded in serious work because they are too fragile and inefficient but highly valued still as family heirlooms – antiques in effect. Memgems are worn as necklaces of sparkling piezoelectric crystal which can be passed through a reader to recreate an accurate recollection of some treasured moment in the owners life. Memgems are delicate and subject to corruption if badly handled. They need the nurturing trickle feed of electric maintenance which only the body of a wearer can supply. If the necklace breaks it must be quickly restored before it is damaged.   The exchange of memgems is an intimate part of the courtship ritual for those who are lucky enough to own them, although it is generally only the aristocratic and wealthy that can do so.

Cover image: Werm Engineer by DMFW


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