ORACLE

8/04/2009

[Denizens of the Outer Dark] Serpent People

Kull with a single mighty leap hurled himself into the room. Tu spun, but the blinding, tigerish speed of the attack gave him no chance for defense or counterattack. Sword steel flashed in the dim light and grated on bone as Tu toppled backward, Kull's sword standing out between his shoulders.

Kull leaned above him, teeth bared in the killer's snarl, heavy brows ascowl above eyes that were like the gray ice of the cold sea. Then he released the hilt and recoiled, shaken, dizzy, the hand of death at his spine.

For as he watched, Tu's face became strangely dim and unreal; the features mingled and merged in a seemingly impossible manner. Then, like a fading mask of fog, the face suddenly vanished and in its stead gaped and leered a monstrous serpent's head! "Valka!" gasped Kull, sweat beading his forehead, and again; "Valka!"

Brule leaned forward, face immobile. Yet his glittering eyes mirrored something of Kull's horror.

"Regain your sword, lord king," said he. "There are yet deeds to be done."

Hesitantly Kull set his hand to the hilt. His flesh crawled as he set his foot upon the terror which lay at their feet, and as some jerk of muscular reaction caused the frightful mouth to gape suddenly, he recoiled, weak with nausea. Then, wrathful at himself, he plucked forth his sword and gazed more closely at the nameless thing that had been known as Tu, chief councilor. Save for the reptilian head, the thing was the exact counterpart of a man.

-- Robert E. Howard, “The Shadow Kingdom”

SERPENT PEOPLE

NO. ENCOUTERED: 2-20, 10-100

SIZE: Medium

HD: 4 (d8)

MOVE: 30 feet land / 60 feet water

AC: 15

ATTACKS: 2 Claw (1d2), Bite (1d6 + poison) or by Weapon

SPECIAL: Poison, Darkvision, Fast (+2 Initiative), Sorcery, Black Magic (Illusionist, Wizard or Cleric 1st – 9th)

SAVES: P + M

INT: High

ALIGNMENT: Any Evil

TYPE: Humanoid

TREASURE: 5

XP: 60 + 2/HP (additional + 5, +7 or +10 if Spell Caster; Level 1-3, 4-7 or 8+ respectively)

The Serpent People are a vastly ancient race who built an expansive kingdom called Valusia that rose to glorious heights long before the Mesozoic age of dinosaurs. Worshipers of the Great Old One Yig, father of all snakes, their cults are known for religious fervor and devotion to the Great Serpent. It was this blind devotion that proved to be their undoing when a cult to a rival god rose up among their own people, causing a schism in their society and the downfall of Valusia.

Physically somewhere between men and snakes, Serpent People possess ophidian heads, scales and tails, but walk upright on two legs. Their taloned hands allow them to wield weaponry, or slash with claw attacks. In combat they will attempt to issue a poisonous bite, even when armed. Their venom is similar to that of normal snakes, and can range from Type 4 to 6 (see “Snake” entry in Castles & Crusades Monsters & Treasure) in toxicity level.

Their knowledge of the black arts is extensive, and the Serpent People have proven to be particularly adept at illusionary magic. Their arcane knowledge and training gives them access to a vast arsenal of spells. It is known that when the earth was still young they helped develop the arcane Aklo letters and words. Aided by sorcery they plot and scheme in hopes that someday they will reclaim their former station as rulers of the earth. One tactic they use quit often when infiltrating human society is to change their appearance through sorcery, making themselves appear to be human and work their way into positions that allow them to be close to those in power. With methodical precision they will maintain this ruse for years if need be, waiting for the right moment to strike out at their enemies.


The game mechanics discussed can be used for any edition of Dungeons & Dragons, but are specifically written for Castles & Crusades. As with most game materials I will present, this article is considered Open Game License (OGL).

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