Excerpts 07/09/2004

Serpent Kingdoms
By Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, and Darrin Drader

Throughout recorded history, the humans of Faerûn have feared the Scaled Ones -- those sentient snake and lizard races whose cultures, magic, weapons, cities, and visible accomplishments rival those of humanoids. Fireside terror tales tell of slithering death, unblinking eyes, and fangs in the night, and a few even hint a the serpentfolks' fell plans to enslave all other races. Serpent Kingdomsoffers a detailed examination of the Scaled Ones: lizardfolk, nagas, yuan-ti, and their sinister creator race, the sarrukh. Our sneak peek at this Forgotten Realms accessory explores deities and villains, monsters and feats.

Pleassse, sstep inssside. . .

From Chapter 5: Sarrukh

Sarrukh Encounters


The snake-bodied sarrukh named Pil'it'ith was the last emperor of Okoth, and by dint of powerful magic, he remains alive to this day. Pil'it'ith is an albino -- in fact, he is the only albino sarrukh currently alive in Faerûn. Because of the lack of pigment in his scales, he must remain in complete darkness. If exposed to direct sunlight, he takes 1d4 points of nonlethal damage per round.

After the fall of Okoth, Pil'it'ith remained the leader of the great clans that took to the planes. While in the Outer Planes, he had the audacity to seek out the fragment of the World Serpent known as Merrshaulk to ask for his guidance. When he arrived at Merrshaulk's home plane, the god was deep in slumber, and his serpent guards refused to admit the sarrukh to his stronghold. Pil'it'ith, however, defied the guards and stirred the god from his slumber.

Merrshaulk would have destroyed most mortals for disturbing him, but he recognized Pil'it'ith and granted him an audience. He thanked the sarrukh for overseeing the creation of the serpent races of Faerûn that had come to worship him. He then commanded the albino to lead the remaining sarrukh to a place where they could establish a homeland. Once they were settled, the god promised to watch over them and help them to rebuild.

Pil'it'ith, having grown old after his nearly eight hundred years of life, begged Merrshaulk for one additional favor. In return for his active promotion of the god's interests, he asked to be raised to the status of a Chosen. Merrshaulk had never taken a Chosen before because such an act required the expenditure of a great deal of divine power. Nevertheless, recognizing the benefit of having such a strong follower, he granted Pil'it'ith's request.

The Chosen of Merrshaulk led his sarrukh followers from the god's home and wandered the planes, looking for an ideal location in which to start again. A misguided attempt to enslave the khaastas turned the barbaric, nomadic, lizards into mortal enemies of the sarrukh, who eventually had to flee back to Faerûn. Pil'it'ith remained in charge of the Okoth stronghold while his followers hid from the vengeful khaastas. The next crisis came when Sseth (the reborn aspect of Merrshaulk) abruptly stopped answering prayers during the Time of Troubles.

Pil'it'ith's leadership was suddenly in jeopardy after he had ruled over generations of sarrukh. For weeks he hid the fact that he was unable to contact Sseth, but finally he declared that either Sseth was either dead or he had turned his back on his people. In either case, they needed a replacement deity. Pil'it'ith had heard of the god Set, whom he had always (incorrectly) assumed was a fragment of the World Serpent. He had learned that Set was still granting spells (albeit only to those who visited him directly) and was in contact with his followers. Pil'it'ith arranged a dialogue with the Lord of Evil and convinced the god that his people were willing to follow him if he would grant them spells.

Pil'it'ith introduced Set to his followers, claiming that the Mulhorandi god was Sseth's successor. The sarrukh of Okoth were satisfied with this arrangement but, as the Avatar Crisis drew to a close, Set revealed to Pil'it'ith that the Okothian sarrukh would have to help bind Sseth into eternal slumber in return for his favor. After they complied, Sseth began to thrash against his bonds. In so doing, he awoke many Mhairshaulk sarrukh and Serpentes yuan-ti and energized them to extend their dominion over the Scaleless Ones of Faerûn once more. Sseth's only conscious action thus far, however, has been to strip Pil'it'ith of his title and power as Chosen.

Pil'it'ith has remained leader of his tribe, though his body's clock has started up once again, bringing him ever closer to death. He is the only sarrukh that still remembers the great empire his people once controlled. Despite the setbacks he has endured, he still intends to re-establish some measure of control over the world, and he intends to retain his position as leader.

Pil'it'ith: Male sarrukh cleric 15 of Set; CR 36; Medium monstrous humanoid; HD 14d8+84 plus 15d8+90; hp 304; Init +7; Spd 30 ft.; AC 38, touch 13, flat-footed 35; Base Atk +18; Grp +23; Atk +28 melee (1d4+5, claw) or +28 melee (1d8+11/x3, +4 brilliant energy unholy longspear) and +23 melee (1d4+2, bite); Full Atk +28 melee (1d4+5, 2 claws) and +23 melee (1d4+2, bite) or +28/+23/+18/+13 melee (1d8+11/x3, +4 brilliant energy unholy longspear) and +23 melee (1d4+2, bite); SA fear aura, manipulate form, poison, spell-like abilities; SQ darkvision 60 ft., immunity to fire, spell resistance 20; AL LE; SV Fort +19, Ref +18, Will +24; Str 20, Dex 17, Con 22, Int 30, Wis 23, Cha 22.

Skills and Feats: Appraise +27, Bluff +29, Concentration +33, Craft (alchemy) +30, Decipher Script +27, Diplomacy +37, Heal +37, Intimidate +27, Knowledge (arcana) +37, Knowledge (history) +37, Knowledge (religion) +37, Knowledge (the planes) +20, Listen +20, Move Silently +20, Sense Motive +19, Spellcraft +41, Spot +25; Alertness, Blind-Fight, Cleave, Combat Casting, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Magical Aptitude, Persuasive, Power Attack, Skill Focus (Heal).

Fear Aura (Su): As a free action, Pil'it'ith can create an aura of fear in a 10-foot radius. This effect is otherwise identical with the fear spell (caster level 14th; save DC 23). A creature that succeeds on the save cannot be affected again by Pil'it'ith's fear aura for 24 hours. Other sarrukh are immune to this aura.

Manipulate Form (Su): At will, Pil'it'ith can modify the form of any Scaled One native to Toril, except for aquatic and undead creatures. With a successful touch attack, he can cause one alteration of his choice in the target creature's body. The target falls unconscious for 2d4 rounds due to the shock of changing form. A successful DC 23 Fortitude negates both the change and the unconsciousness.

Pil'it'ith may use this ability to change a minor aspect of the target creature, such as the shape of its head or the color of its scales. He may also choose to make a much more significant alteration, such as converting limbs into tentacles, changing overall body shape (snake to humanoid, for example), or adding or removing an appendage. Any ability score may be decreased to a minimum of 1 or increased to a maximum equal to Pil'it'ith's corresponding score. Pil'it'ith may also grant the target an extraordinary ability or remove one from it.

The change bestowed takes effect immediately and is permanent. Furthermore, the alterations are automatically passed on to all the creature's offspring when it breeds with another of its unmodified kind.

Poison (Ex): Bite, injury, Fortitude DC 23; initial and secondary damage 1d6 temporary Con.

Spell-Like Abilities: 3/day -- disrupt undead, identify, invisibility, knock, magic missile, misdirection (DC 18), see invisibility, sleep (DC 17); 2/day -- confusion (DC 20), fireball (DC 19), lightning bolt (DC 19), polymorph; 1/day -- teleport (DC 21), wall of force.

Cleric Spells Prepared (6/7+1/7+1/6+1/5+1/5+1/4+1/2+1/1+1; save DC 16 + spell level): 0 -- cure minor wounds (2), detect magic (2), mending, read magic; 1st -- cure light wounds (2), deathwatch, detect good (2), doom (2), protection from good*; 2nd -- cure moderate wounds (2), darkness (2), desecrate*, enthrall, spiritual weapon, zone of truth; 3rd -- bestow curse, contagion, cure serious wounds, deeper darkness, dispel magic, invisibility purge, magic circle against good*; 4th -- cure critical wounds, poison (2), restoration, tongues, unholy blight*; 5th -- commune, dispel good*, mass cure light wounds (2), slay living, true seeing; 6th -- create undead*, harm, heal, mass cure moderate wounds, word of recall; 7th -- blasphemy*, mass cure serious wounds, repulsion; 8th -- antimagic field, unholy aura*.

*Domain spell. Deity: Set. Domains: Evil (cast evil spells at +1 caster level), Scalykind (rebuke/command lizards and snakes 9/day).

Possessions:+4 unholy brilliant energy longspear, breastplate of command, ring of spell turning, helm of telepathy, bead of force, periapt of protection against poison, wings of flying.

Pil'it'ith's Consorts

A yuan-ti slave who pleases Pil'it'ith in life continues to serve him in death as a dread wraith. Eight undead consorts currently haunt Pil'it'ith's royal chambers. These yuan-ti abominations look much like they did in life, except their forms are comprised entirely of hateful darkness.

Yuan-ti Dread Wraiths (8): CR 11; Large undead (incorporeal); HD 16d12; hp 104 each; Init +13; Spd fly 60 ft. (good); AC 25, touch 25, flat-footed 16; Base Atk +8; Grp -- ; Atk +16 melee (2d6 plus 1d8 Con, incorporeal touch); Full Atk +16 melee (2d6 plus 1d8 Con, incorporeal touch); Space/Reach 10 ft./10 ft.; SA Constitution drain, create spawn; SQ darkvision 60 ft., daylight powerlessness, incorporeal traits, lifesense 60 ft., undead traits, unnatural aura; AL LE; SV Fort +5, Ref +14, Will +14; Str -- , Dex 28, Con -- , Int 17, Wis 18, Cha 24.

Skills and Feats: Diplomacy +9, Hide +24, Intimidate +26, Knowledge (religion) +22, Listen +25, Search +22, Sense Motive +23, Spot +25, Survival +4 (+6 following tracks); Alertness[B], Blind-Fight, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Improved Initiative[B], Improved Natural Attack (incorporeal touch), Mobility, Spring Attack.

Constitution Drain (Su): Living creatures hit by a dread wraith's incorporeal touch attack must succeed on a DC 25 Fortitude save or take 1d8 points of Constitution drain. On each successful attack, the dread wraith gains 5 temporary hit points.

Create Spawn (Su): Any humanoid or monstrous humanoid slain by a dread wraith becomes a wraith in 1d4 rounds. Spawn serve the wraith that created them and remain enslaved until destroyed. They do not retain any of the abilities they had in life.

Daylight Powerlessness (Ex): Dread wraiths are utterly powerless in natural sunlight (not merely a daylight spell) and flee from it.

Lifesense (Su): A dread wraith notices and locates living creatures within 60 feet, just as if it possessed the blindsight ability. It also senses the strength of their life force automatically, as if it had cast deathwatch.

Unnatural Aura (Su): Animals, whether wild or domesticated, can sense the unnatural presence of a dread wraith at a distance of 30 feet. They will not willingly approach nearer than that and panic if forced to do so; they remain panicked as long as they are within that range.

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