Purple worm

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Purple worm
Purple worm.JPG
Type Magical beast
Image Wizards.com image
Stats Open Game License stats

In the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game, the purple worm is a fictional monster. The creature was introduced to the game in the original 1974 boxed set. In the third edition of the game, it is classified as a magical beast.

Publication history[edit]

The purple worm was one of the earliest creatures introduced in the D&D game.

Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)[edit]

The purple worm was one of the first monsters introduced in the earliest edition of the game, in the Dungeons & Dragons "white box" set (1974), where they were described as huge and hungry monsters that lurk beneath the surface.[1]

The mottled worm, a relative of the purple worm, first appeared in the Dungeons & Dragons supplement, Blackmoor (1975).[2]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)[edit]

The purple worm appears in the first edition Monster Manual (1977),[3] where it is described as a 50-foot-long (15 m) burrowing worm constantly in search of food, that can swallow human-sized creatures whole.

The mottled (purple) worm appeared in Dragon #68 (December 1982).

Dungeons & Dragons (1977-1999)[edit]

This edition of the D&D game included its own version of the purple worm, in the Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (1977),[4] the Expert Set (1981 & 1983),[5][6] and the Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (1991).[7]

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)[edit]

The purple worm appears first in the Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (1989),[8] and is reprinted in the Monstrous Manual (1993),[9] along with the mottled purple worm.

Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 edition (2000-2002)[edit]

The purple worm appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2000).[10]

The purple worm is further detailed in Dragon #282 (April 2001), in "The Ecology of the Purple Worm."[11]

Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 edition (2003-2007)[edit]

The purple worm appears in the revised Monster Manual for this edition (2003).

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-2014)[edit]

The purple worm appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2008).[12] It was later revised in the Monster Vault set released under the D&D Essentials brand (2010).[13]

Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition (2014-)[edit]

The purple worm appears in the Monster Manual for this edition (2014).[14]


The purple worm is akin to an enormous (5 feet wide and tall and 80 feet long) and bizarre earthworm. As its name implies, it is a deep purple color, with a pale yellow underbelly. Separating the yellow part from the purple are hard crests extending down its sides. It is well armored and segmented. One end terminates in a large toothed mouth with slit-like eyes above it and dragon's ear-like limbs at the sides; at the other end is a deadly stinger. The creature is often depicted as bursting out of the ground and arching itself in a distinctive pose.

Purple worms spend their time burrowing through the underground and seek to consume any organic matter they find. Their favored and most feared method of attack is swallowing prey whole. Many groups of adventurers have succumbed to such a fate, disappearing down a purple worm's gullet one after the other. They can also attack with their tail stinger, and by grabbing and grappling with prey.

Purple worms cannot speak. They are regarded as neutral in alignment, since their aggressive nature is the result of instinct rather than maliciousness.

In other media[edit]


A battle with a purple worm that has swallowed a powerful magic sword is described in the novel Extinction by Lisa Smedman.

Other publishers[edit]

The purple worm is fully detailed in Paizo Publishing's book Dungeon Denizens Revisited (2009), on pages 40–45.[15]


  1. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson. Dungeons & Dragons (3-Volume Set) (TSR, 1974)
  2. ^ Arneson, Dave. Blackmoor (TSR, 1975)
  3. ^ Gygax, Gary. Monster Manual (TSR, 1977)
  4. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by J. Eric Holmes. Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set (TSR, 1977)
  5. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by Dave Cook. Dungeons & Dragons Expert Set (TSR, 1981)
  6. ^ Gygax, Gary, and Dave Arneson [1974], edited by Frank Mentzer. Dungeons & Dragons Set 2: Expert Rules (TSR, 1983)
  7. ^ Allston, Aaron, Steven E. Schend, Jon Pickens, and Dori Watry. Dungeons & Dragons Rules Cyclopedia (TSR, 1991)
  8. ^ Cook, David, et al. Monstrous Compendium Volume Two (TSR, 1989)
  9. ^ Stewart, Doug, ed. Monstrous Manual (TSR, 1993)
  10. ^ Cook, Monte, Jonathan Tweet, and Skip Williams. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2000)
  11. ^ Richards, Jonathan M. "The Ecology of the Purple Worm" Dragon #282 (TSR, 2001)
  12. ^ Mearls, Mike, Stephen Schubert, and James Wyatt. Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2008)
  13. ^ Thompson, Rodney, Logan Bonner, and Matthew Sernett. Monster Vault (Wizards of the Coast, 2010)
  14. ^ Christopher Perkins. p.255, Monster Manual (Wizards of the Coast, 2014)
  15. ^ Clinton Boomer, Jason Bulmahn, Joshua J. Frost, Nicolas Logue, Robert McCreary, Jason Nelson, Richard Pett, Sean K Reynolds, James L. Sutter, and Greg A. Vaughan. Dungeon Denizens Revisited (Paizo, 2009)