Wyrms of the North Miirym, "The Sentinel Wyrm"
Dragon Magazine #246
By Ed Greenwood with supplementary material provided by Sean K Reynolds
She kept to the letter of her bond, even after her body rotted and fell apart. The spells that bound her animated her still, keeping her sentient . . . if not entirely sane.
When he read Volo's notes (a confused cluster of speculatives surrounding little more than a correct name and gender) Elminster nodded, summoned a quill and fresh parchment from some handy otherwhere, and started writing.
Volo's sketchy notes came as no surprise to the Old Mage, because very few folk alive in Faerûn have even heard of Miirym. Though this statement has become a trite truism overused by taletellers describing dragons, the reason for her obscurity is indeed that "most who encounter her don't live to speak of it later."
Long, long ago, Miirym was a silver dragon who dwelt near Candlekeep. In her playful hunting, she devoured several scholars and destroyed a score or so irreplaceable books on their way to the abbey, so a mage attached to the abbey bound her to service: She was to defend the monks, buildings, and books of the abbey for some twenty years.
Unfortunately for Miirym, the spellcaster was the archsorcerer Torth, whose spells were so mighty that when he died -- fifteen years along in Miirym's sentence of twenty -- no one could break the bindings. The monks apologetically wrote up a tome describing the situation and all that was known of Torth's spells, then set a copy of it in a crypt beneath the keep, in a casket with the sorcerer's bones and staff.
Miirym was a captive in servitude. Though she kept to the letter of her bond, her attacks on transgressors became savage. This is how Candlekeep acquired its reputation of utter impregnability and that to attempt to steal from it or slip into it unnoticed was futile.
Eventually worn out by advanced age and the attacks of foolish would-be intruders -- notably several bands of Calishite wizards, who planned and then tried to carry out elaborate spell attacks on Candlekeep in the Year of the Shieldtree (1181 DR) and the Year of the Tomb (1182 DR) -- Miirym "died." That is, her body rotted and fell apart, losing flesh before bones, and then bone after bone crumbled away to dust, while the spells that bound her animated her still, keeping her sentient . . . if not entirely sane.
When all that remained of the Sentinel Wyrm was a malevolent but diligent invisible guardian force, the monks of Candlekeep, fearing for the safety of legitimate visitors to the abbey, hired mages to destroy their strange guardian.
Even these wizards could not prevail against Torth's cunningly woven spells (so linked that the destruction of one serves to strengthen the next, and spawn an eventual regeneration of all destroyed magics), and succeeded only in "driving down" Miirym to a radius of perhaps a quarter of a mile from the remains of Torth. A sacrificial band of monks undertook to carry the archsorcerer's casket deeper into the cellars and natural (volcanic) passages beneath them. Where the last of this band fell, Torth's casket rests, at the heart of a labyrinthine complex of caverns and passages beneath Candlekeep -- and Miirym still lurks there, under the keep, defending it very effectively against intrusion from below.
According to Elminster, Miirym exists today as a pair of spectral jaws that can cast dimension door at will. She still has a vicious bite, her spells, and the ability to use many breath weapons. Miirym defends Candlekeep diligently, but she'd rather talk than fight, and she will trade tales for information about current events in Faerûn. She is very lonely and secretly dreams of regaining her body and flying high and free over all of Toril. Adventurers seeking to seduce her aid or favor by promising such things are warned that it has been tried several times before, and so bitter were Miirym's disappointments that she is cynical about any promises to aid her in her dream -- though she never tires of talking about it.
In life, Miirym loved green, growing things. In her mind's eye, she can still vividly picture (and identify) many plants, the Sword Coast topography between Amn and Waterdeep (about as far inland as the western edge of the High Moor) as it was fifteen hundred years ago, and the fierce lightning storms she used to love to fly through. She likes to hear jokes but is saddened by news of changes and daily doings in Faerûn she can't see or be a part of.
Miirym's sanity isn't strong. Although she'll never forget the situation she's in and the identities and locations of potential foes or would-be intruders into Candlekeep, anyone who tries to trick her or launch a sneak attack can expect to have her come screaming and howling after them, hurling everything she can in a savage, furious attack.
She tore one book thief to shreds with her jaws and often shows his resting-place to parties of intruders as a warning: a narrow passage littered with forels, bloodstains, and small dust-heaps that were once small scraps of flesh and bone; nothing larger than the size of a man's fist was left of the thief when the dragon was finished. The books themselves are missing. (Miirym carefully put them atop Torth's casket, and a daring priest of Candlekeep magically snatched them back to the keep; the Sentinel Wyrm suspects that this was their fate, but she is haunted by the possibility that a force or being she failed to detect somehow reached the books and spirited them away.)
If intruders who come within Miirym's reach are openly carrying books of any kind (such as their own spellbooks), or reveal such items to her at any time, the Sentinel Wyrm insists that they be surrendered to her for "rightful return" to Candlekeep. She won't believe any protests as to the ownership of the tomes; as far as she's concerned, writings of any sort belong to Candlekeep, period.
She has one further grisly warning to share with intruders: in a dead-end passage, a skeletal head and shoulders floats in midair, arms frozen forever raised in futile warding-off gestures, jaw stretched wide in an endless scream. The rest of the skeleton has long since crumbled away; this much remains due to the failing magics of a plain electrum carcanet still encircling the bony neck. Its magics fail entirely if it is disturbed, allowing both it and the remaining bones to crumble into dust. In any case, its power long ago rendered the bones inert to scrying and necromantic magics; nothing of the identity or intentions of the remains can now be learned.
Miirym willingly supplies all she knows: This was once a beautiful and imperious sorcerer who tried to bargain with the Sentinel Wyrm, offering to surrender a book she'd seized if she were allowed to copy certain writings out of it, unmolested. When the dragon told her both the tome and the new writing would have to be returned to the keep, the mage hurled a meteor swarm at Miirym -- but she had the misfortune to do so in a section of passage where an earlier intruder had left a glass guardian (defined below), so she felt its full effects herself. (Several of these items still survive elsewhere in the passages roamed by the Sentinel Wyrm.) Staggering and near death, she retreated to where her remains now float and cast her last powerful spell at Miirym as the floating jaws approached her in slow silence. It was imprisonment, and it had no effect on the Sentinel Wyrm because of her spell resistance. The sorceress gave in to despair but refused to surrender the books when Miirym asked her one last time -- so the Sentinel Wyrm ate both of her legs. The carcanet held the mage upright as she bled to death.
There's little else of interest in the passages within the Sentinel Wyrm's reach, beyond one seeping spring of drinkable water and the aforementioned scattering of glass guardians; would-be intruders are warned that Miirym knows every bend and fissure of her "domain" intimately and always knows precisely where she is, and whether anything has changed. (In other words, if an intruder uses magic to appear made of stone and hugs a wall, the Sentinel Wyrm knows that this or that lump "isn't supposed to be there" and confronts it as a disguised intruder.)
The Sentinel Wyrm hasn't been back to her lair in a little over fifteen hundred years -- and in that time, it has disappeared, sliding into the sea in 788 DR, when the "sea stack" it was located atop collapsed under the tireless pounding of the waves. The pillar of rock had been separated from the shore before Miirym (one of a large family of silver dragons who ranged across the comparatively dragonless North of the time, to find their own lairs sometime circa 2 DR) ever found it. It stood like a lone dark pillar just offshore from Ulgoth's Beard (which, of course, didn't exist then). Many rocks and islets can still be found in the vicinity today, left behind by a receding shore -- despite the silt brought downstream by the adjacent river, onshore waves scour the coast here and wear it away, year by year.
Miirym's stack stood well out to sea from where the shore is today, but it has been reduced to fist-sized rubble and gravel by the Sea of Swords since its destruction, and her paltry treasure hoard (coins and silver tradebars, no magic) drowned and lost. The lair itself was no more than a long, twisting cave of natural origin, and served as a home to a mated pair of wyverns until Miirym arrived, was attacked, and slew them.
Miirym once roamed the rolling, forested coastal lands between the High Moor and the Sea of Swords (as far offshore as Mintarn), south as far as the Cloud Peaks, and north to Mount Helimbrar. This was so long ago that dragons who now dwell in or near her onetime domain don't know of her existence -- and in the unlikely event she were to emerge into the surface world today and desire to rule over a territory, Miirym would have to fight for, and win, her domain all over again.
The Deeds of Miirym
Miirym spends her endless days wandering all of the passages within her reach, idly widening connecting tunnels and enlarging rooms by casting the few rock-shattering and matter-teleporting spells available to her. She always enjoys a chat, and from time to time an especially bad monk of Candlekeep is sent down to talk to her as an especially cruel punishment; marks on the passage walls clearly show how far they can travel and still remain just out of reach of her spells and jaws. She'll always challenge and try to talk to intruders before attacking them -- and if they offer her violence at first sight, she'll try to converse while battling them.
The Sentinel Wyrm isn't above lurking near intruders, silent and as hidden as possible, and eavesdropping to learn all she can about them (and whatever they may be talking about), before first revealing herself -- or after intruders think they've escaped her.
Miirym: Female great wyrm silver dragon incorporeal sentinel; CR 21; Medium-size undead (air); HD 40d12; hp 260; Init +0; Spd fly 200 ft. (clumsy); AC 10, touch 10, flat-footed 10; Atk +41 melee touch (2d12, incorporeal touch); SA breath weapon (varies), frightful presence, spell-like abilities, spells; SQ blindsight 360 ft., darkvision 1,200 ft., immunities (paralysis, sleep), incorporeal subtype, low-light vision, piercing gaze, restorative dispersion, SR 32, undead traits, x-ray vision; AL N; SV Fort +24, Ref +24, Will +32; Str --, Dex 10, Con --, Int 30, Wis 31, Cha 30.
Skills and Feats: Bluff +53, Concentration +43, Diplomacy +59, Escape Artist** +43, Innuendo +24, Intimidate +14, Jump** +40, Knowledge (arcana) +50, Knowledge (Dalelands local) +30, Knowledge (geography) +44, Knowledge (the North history) +42, Knowledge (the North local) +42, Knowledge (Waterdeep history) +30, Knowledge (Waterdeep local) +30, Listen +55, Scry +30, Search +53, Sense Motive +31, Speak Language (Aragrakh, Chondathan, Common, Illuskan, Thorass), Spellcraft +50, Spot +55; Alertness, Cleave**, Flyby Attack, Great Cleave**, Great Fortitude, Hover**, Lightning Reflexes, Power Attack**, Snatch**, Weapon Focus (incorporeal touch), Weapon Focus** (bite).
Breath Weapon (Su): Miirym can use any of the following breath weapons:
- cone of acid gas, cold, or fire
- cone of paralyzing gas (1d6+12 rounds, Fortitude negates)
- cone of repulsion gas (compelled to move away for 1d6+12 rounds, Will negates)
- cone of sleep gas (1d6+12 rounds, Will negates)
- cone of slow gas (1d6+12 rounds, Fortitude negates)
- cone of weakening gas (12 points of Strength damage, Fortitude negates)
- line of acid, electricity, or fire.
Cones are 50 feet long; lines are 100 feet long. She can use one breath weapon (her choice) once every 1d4 rounds. Each of the energy breath weapons deals 24d10 points of damage of the appropriate type (Reflex save for half damage). All breath weapon save DCs are 40.
Frightful Presence (Su): Whenever Miirym attacks, charges, or flies overhead, every creature within 360 feet of her that has 39 or fewer HD must attempt a Will save (DC 40). On a failure, a creature with 4 or fewer HD becomes panicked for 4d6 rounds and one with 5 or more HD becomes shaken for 4d6 rounds. Success indicates that the target is immune to Miirym's frightful presence for one day.
Spell-Like Abilities: At will -- dimension door.
Spells: Miirym knows and casts arcane spells as a 19th-level sorcerer.
Blindsight (Ex): Miirym can ascertain creatures by nonvisual means (mostly hearing and scent, but also by noticing vibration and other environmental clues) within 360 feet.
Incorporeal Subtype: Miirym can be harmed only by other incorporeal creatures, +1 or better magic weapons, spells, spell-like abilities, or supernatural abilities. She is immune to all nonmagical attack forms; 50% chance to ignore any damage from a corporeal source (except for force effects, such as magic missiles, and attacks made with ghost touch weapons). Miirym can pass through solid objects (but not force effects) at will, and her attacks ignore natural armor, armor, and shields (though deflection bonuses and force effects work normally). She moves silently (cannot be heard with Listen checks unless desired).
Low-Light Vision: Miirym can see four times as well as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar low-light conditions and twice as well in normal light.
Piercing Gaze (Su): Miirym can see invisible and ethereal creatures in all directions within 120 feet. This requires no action or concentration on her part.
Restorative Dispersion (Su): If Miirym takes 100 or more points of damage in any 1-hour period (or if she is "destroyed" with positive energy from turning damage), she disperses, remaining helpless and undetectable (including from location spells) for 2d8+8 hours, after which she reappears. She reappears with the same number of hit points she had when she was dispersed and automatically regains hit points every 24 hours as if she had rested. (She can regain hit points normally while dispersed if enough time has passed since her last hit point recovery.) If actually brought to 0 hit points or otherwise destroyed by a spell effect that bypasses hit points (such as undeath to death from Magic of Faerûn), she disperses for 3x the normal duration and reforms normally at the end of that time (recovering hp as normal).
Undead Traits: Miirym is immune to poison, sleep, paralysis, stunning, disease, death, effects, necromantic effects, mind-influencing effects, and any effect requiring a Fortitude save unless it also works on objects. She is not subject to critical hits, subdual damage, ability damage, ability drain, or energy drain; cannot heal damage if there is no Intelligence score, (though fast healing and regeneration work normally). Negative energy heals her, and she is not at risk of death from massive damage but is destroyed at 0 or fewer hit points (but see restorative dispersion). Miirym cannot be raised; resurrection works only if she is willing.
X-Ray Vision (Su): Miirym can see through solid objects as if wearing a ring of x-ray vision, except that the thickness of material penetrated is three times that of the ring.
Sorcerer Spells Known (6/9/9/8/8/8/8/7/7/5; save DC 20 + spell level): 0 -- dancing lights, daze, detect magic, disrupt undead, mage hand, mending, open/close, ray of frost, read magic; 1st -- cure light wounds, expeditious retreat, forcewave (Magic of Faerûn),Kaupaer's skittish nerves (Magic of Faerûn),magic missile; 2nd -- cat's grace, detect thoughts, invisibility, shatter, Snilloc's snowball swarm (FRCS); 3rd -- dispel magic, greater mage hand, searing light, shatterfloor; 4th -- bladebite*, cure critical wounds, locate creature, shout; 5th -- cloudkill, dispel evil, Grimwald's greymantle (FRCS), Mestil's acid sheath; 6th -- blade barrier, breathball*, disintegrate; 7th -- mass teleport, power word stun, sunbeam; 8th -- breathdoom*, great shout (FRCS), prismatic wall; 9th -- Bigby's crushing hand, Zajimarn's avalanche.
** Miirym has a few skills and feats that are useless to her now that she is an incorporeal creature.
* indicates a new spell (see below)
The Incorporeal Sentinel Template
The incorporeal sentinel is created when a magically bound guardian outlives its normal lifespan or dies while it is magically bound to serve. Essentially, the magic that bound it provides it with a means of living on, though the creature may not necessarily care to do so. The body of the creature decays over time, and the creature eventually becomes completely incorporeal, while its jaws remain the only visible (but also incorporeal) remnant of it. Only breaking the binding allows it to truly die. Only one example of a creature with this template is known -- Miirym.
Creating an Incorporeal Sentinel
"Incorporeal Sentinel" is an acquired template that can be added to any Colossal great wyrm dragon (hereafter referred to as the base creature) with Intelligence and Charisma scores of 30 or higher. The creature's type changes to undead. The incorporeal sentinel uses all the base creature's statistics and special abilities except as noted here.
Size: The incorporeal sentinel's size drops to Medium-size.
Speed: The incorporeal sentinel loses all previous modes of movement and gains a fly speed of 40 feet with perfect maneuverability.
AC: If the base creature had natural armor, it loses this armor.
Attacks: An incorporeal sentinel loses all natural and weapon attacks, but gains an incorporeal melee touch attack. An incorporeal sentinel also retains its sorcerer-based spellcasting abilities, but it no longer needs material components to cast sorcerer spells.
Damage: If the base creature does not have incorporeal melee touch attacks, use the appropriate damage value based on the incorporeal sentinel's size (see the table below). Otherwise, use the value from the table or the base creature's damage, whichever is greater.
Special Attacks: An incorporeal sentinel retains all the special attacks of the base creature except for its spell-like abilities and breath weapons. It gains the spell-like ability and breath weapons noted below.
Breath Weapon (Su): Once every 1d4 rounds, an incorporeal sentinel can choose and use one of the breath weapons listed below. A blast from a breath weapon always starts at the incorporeal sentinel's mouth and extends in a direction of the incorporeal sentinel's choice. Creatures caught in the area can attempt saves; the DC formula is 10 + 1/2 HD + Charisma modifier. Each of the energy breath weapons deals 24d10 points of damage of the appropriate type (Reflex save for half damage).
- Cone of acid gas, cold, or fire
- Cone of paralyzing gas (1d6+12 rounds, Fortitude negates)
- Cone of repulsion gas (compelled to move away for 1d6+12 rounds, Will negates)
- Cone of sleep gas (1d6+12 rounds, Will negates)
- Cone of slow gas (1d6+12 rounds, Fortitude negates)
- Cone of weakening gas (12 points of Strength damage, Fortitude negates)
- Line of acid, electricity, or fire
Spell-Like Abilities: At will -- dimension door.
Special Qualities: The base creature loses any immunities to energy and damage reduction it had. It otherwise has all the special qualities of the base creature and also gains the qualities noted below.
Incorporeal Traits: An incorporeal sentinel is harmed only by other incorporeal creatures, magic weapons, spells, spell-like abilities, and supernatural abilities. It has a 50% chance to ignore any damage from a corporeal source, except for force effects or attacks made with ghost touch weapons. It can pass through solid objects, but not force effects, at will. Its attacks ignore natural armor, armor, and shields, but deflection bonuses and force effects work normally against them. An incorporeal creature always moves silently and cannot be heard with Listen checks if it doesn't wish to be.
Piercing Gaze (Su): An incorporeal sentinel can see invisible and ethereal creatures in all directions within 120 feet. This requires no action or concentration on the part of the incorporeal sentinel.
Restorative Dispersion (Su): If the incorporeal sentinel takes 100 or more points of damage in any 1-hour period (or if it is "destroyed" with positive energy from turning damage), it disperses, remaining helpless and undetectable (including from location spells) for 2d8+8 hours, after which it reappears. Normally it reappears with the same number of hit points it had when it was dispersed. However, if an intelligent undead, it automatically regains hit points every 24 hours as if it had rested, and it can regain hit points normally while dispersed if enough time has passed since its last hit point recovery. If actually brought to 0 hit points or otherwise destroyed by a spell effect that bypasses hit points (such as undeath to death from Magic of Faerûn), it disperses for 3x the normal duration and reforms normally at the end of that time (recovering hp as normal). It is not known what it would take to permanently destroy the incorporeal sentinel aside from a means to break the binding holding the incorporeal sentinel to existence, though some scholars theorize that closely studying the binding and, once knowledge of the spell used is gained (Spellcraft check DC 100), using a wish spell to break the binding would break the bonds. Some scholars believe that having Torth's book can assist the caster (+20 bonus on Spellcraft check). These are only theories, however. Nobody has yet attempted to break the binding in this manner.
Spell Resistance (Ex): An incorporeal sentinel gains a spell resistance equal to the base creature's CR.
X-Ray Vision (Su): An incorporeal sentinel can see through solid objects as if wearing a ring of x-ray vision, except that the thickness of material penetrated is three times that of the ring.
Abilities: Same as the base creature except that, as undead creatures, incorporeal sentinels have no Constitution score. Additionally, incorporeal sentinels have no Strength score.
Feats: The sentinel wyrm gains Weapon Focus (incorporeal touch) as a bonus feat.
Climate/Terrain: As a bound creature, the incorporeal sentinel is restricted to the area within which it is bound.
Organization: Most incorporeal sentinels stand watch alone, but some very powerful spellcasters have been known to create a duo of matched sentinels to guard over sacred or important locations.
Challenge Rating: Same as the base creature -4.
Alignment: Same as base creature.
The Sentinel Wyrm has passed beyond death and awaits the untwining of Torth's mighty spells to grant her freedom. Thereafter, she would be a wandering, spectral force, free to do great damage in Faerûn if she desired. Azuth knows the means of binding even so powerful a spectral sentience into the helve of a magic weapon or other item. Certain Netherese liches and senior Red Wizards might also know, or be able to devise, such magical processes, but Mystra is unlikely to provide guidance to any mages or priests requesting inspiration over such matters.
All in all, Miirym bids fair to be around the underways of Candlekeep for another thousand years or more, in Elminster's estimation. If something were to happen to her, he said, one of Mystra's Chosen might even find themselves restoring her to her present state, for Mystra and Oghma seem to share some secret and solemn agreement as to the sanctity of Candlekeep.
Miirym's sad fate is best described in a tome written over a hundred years ago and, ironically, stored on the shelves of Candlekeep. Throughout the book, the writer describes Miirym as "Lonelyjaws." Elminster suggests that any similarly lonely Faerûnian who doesn't mind a little danger -- and doesn't carry any writing materials -- might cultivate her as a friend to talk to. There are worse ways of spending one's time.
Miirym has custody of -- and knows the powers of -- at least seven glass guardian spheres. She moves them to aid her in battle against magically powerful foes if she deems it necessary.
Glass Guardian: These small, translucent glass spheres tend to be green, blue, or near-colorless mauve in hue. Empty and about the size of a large man's fist, they float motionless in midair unless grasped and towed (or thrust along by an impact or force) to a new location; when released, they hang motionless. A glass guardian has 0 hardness and 2 hit points; if destroyed, they fall harmlessly to dust, and their magic is lost.
Their sole purpose, however, is to reflect back at its source any spell that enters or erupts into being within (or partially within) the 5-ft.-radius area around them. Unlike the spell turning spell, a glass guardian can affect area spells (but not touch spells).
They do this unerringly, darkening and shattering the moment they've reflected a single spell. However, they can be clustered in groups to provide more lasting protection; only one glass guardian reacts to a spell, negating it and falling to dust, leaving nearby guardians intact and still operating. Some of these spheres have existed for thousands of years; the spells that create them are ancient.
Caster Level: 13th, Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item, Heighten Spell, spell turning; Market Price: 30,000 gp; Weight: --.
The Sentinel Wyrm also wields an impressive array of spells. She had little time to devise her own magic before being bound into the service of Candlekeep, but from time to time she has gained spells from writings brought to her by the monks or that she gleaned from books gained from intruders (before they were taken up to the keep proper by the spells of monks scrying her). She's had little chance to alter her spells, but a few of them are rare enough to warrant inclusion here.
About the Authors
Ed Greenwood lives in a house surrounded by woods that aren't infested with mosquitoes only when they're choked with chest-deep snow. He loves to look out windows at green growing things and the many flowers his wife Jenny coaxes into splendor -- but actually prefers flickering computer screens where he can bring new corners of the Realms to life.
Sean K Reynolds can usually be found working on his laptop while his girlfriend Willow tends her balcony flowerboxes, which most recently gained a host of ladybugs as guests. The sight of the hundred spotted red insects inspired him to create the game stats for a monstrous ladybug familiar.