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

Throughout recorded history, the humans of Faerūn 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 1: Yuan-ti

Ready-to-Use Villains and Allies

Tathtlasss

Born and reared in the cellars of a major port by yuan-ti slavers, Tathtlasss has dwelt in cities all her life, hiding among humans. She earned her coins initially by stealing and later by slaying. Tathtlasss loves to kill -- humans in particular -- and since she learned that some humans would pay to have others slain, she's lived quite well. The secret of her success is twofold -- know thy victim before striking, and know thy employer. Well aware that employers sometimes try to silence assassins after their work is done, Tathtlasss always arranges a safe method of payment (preferably in advance) and a means of escape from the area.

Tathtlasss lives in a world of hiding-places, traps, and ready disguises, and she trusts no one -- a policy that has prolonged her life more than once. No matter where she is in a city, she's never far from a place where she can hide -- even if it's a shielded corner of someone else's roof. She equips all of her hiding places with food, weapons, clothes, and disguise aids, such as masks and cosmetics, to ensure that she can survive for days and slip out unnoticed when the time is right.

When the market for murder is slow, Tathtlasss is happy to make money by means other than killing. Under the name "Tatha," she operates a makeup, tattooing, and bodypainting service in a storefront in the wealthy part of town. She specializes in superb facial makeup and swirling, ornamental body paint designed to distract viewers from body plumpness when skin-revealing gowns are worn. This lucrative business also allows her to peddle scents, drugs, and poisons on the side to a clientele of wealthy but jaded women while learning about the important people of the city. Between her two professions, she's amassed quite a lot of wealth, which she's invested in properties in many other cities.

Tathtlasss has lingered longer than usual in her current city primarily because it offers her a steady supply of arriving outlanders. Thus, when she is between jobs, she can indulge her love of slaying by ambushing lone strangers no one will ever miss.

Another reason she stays is the presence of an old, local wizard who is gradually sinking into his dotage. He mutters his days away over books of magic, shut away in his golem-guarded tower, never noticing that a lithe thief (who can become a serpent when she wants to hide) has found a way over the rooftops into his loftier windows, and thence into his trophy rooms. In these littered, seldom-visited chambers lie many relics of monsters that can be discreetly harvested for sale as arcane material components. Furthermore, a pearly white ioun stone and a crystal ball with detect thoughts are hidden in a little box on an upper shelf. Tathtlasss has not yet taken these items away with her, preferring to sneak in and use them whenever she wishes. No less than three closets in this warren of cluttered rooms offer her the option of locking herself away to use these items, and one has bolts on the inside of the door that she keeps oiled to ensure silent operation.

Tathtlasss has no interest in making enemies of adventurers who might mount a determined campaign to hunt her down. If at all possible, she poses as a human victim of thieves, kidnappers, or slavers should she unexpectedly encounter PCs. Pretending to be bewildered about how she got into the sewer, cellar, or dungeon labyrinth where they found her, she acts frightened but eager to get out.

If PCs do rescue her, she offers them free bodypainting and tattooing at her shop and treats them well if they accept. Therafter, however, she uses the wizard's crystal ball to keep a close watch on their activities, since adventurers have a habit of turning up wealth and items of interest to a thief. Rather than stealing directly from them, however, she tries to ensure that the city authorities take them into custody for some real or suspected crime. Then, while they're occupied with explaining themselves, she swoops down on their loot.

Tathtlasss: Female pureblood yuan-ti rogue 4/assassin 1; CR 8; Medium monstrous humanoid; HD 4d8 plus 4d6 plus 1d6; hp 35; Init +3; Spd 30 ft.; AC 15, touch 13, flat-footed 15; Base Atk +7; Grp +7; Atk +9 melee (1d6+2/18-20, +2 scimitar) or +11 ranged (1d8/x3, masterwork longbow); Full Atk +9/+4 melee (1d6+2/18-20, +2 scimitar) or +11/+6 ranged (1d8/x3, masterwork longbow); SA death attack, sneak attack +3d6, spell-like abilities, spells, trap sense +1; SQ alternate form, darkvision 60 ft., detect poison, evasion, poison use, spell resistance 14, trap sense +1, trapfinding, uncanny dodge; AL CE; SV Fort +3, Ref +14, Will +8; Str 11, Dex 17, Con 11, Int 16, Wis 14, Cha 16. Height 5' 7".

Skills and Feats: Concentration +8, Disable Device +10, Disguise +10, Escape Artist +10, Gather Information +5, Hide +15, Knowledge (local) +10, Listen +12, Move Silently +11, Profession (bodypainter) +6, Profession (tattoo artist) +6, Search +8, Spot +12; Alertness, Blind-Fight, Dodge, Mobility, Point Blank Shot, Quick Draw.

Death Attack: If Tathtlasss can study the target creature for 3 rounds and then successfully deliver a sneak attack in the next 3 rounds, she can either kill the victim or paralyze it for 1d6+1 rounds (Fort DC 14 negates either).

Spell-Like Abilities: 1/day -- animal trance (DC 15), cause fear (DC 14), charm person (DC 14), darkness, entangle (DC 14). Caster level 4th.

Alternate Form(Sp): Tathtlasss can psionically assume the form of a Tiny to Large viper. This ability is similar to a polymorph spell (caster level 19th), but she does not regain any hit points for changing form, and she can assume only viper forms. She gains the viper's bite attack and poison special attack.

Detect Poison (Sp): Tathtlasss can use detect poison as the spell (caster level 6th) at will.

Poison Use: Tathtlasss is trained in the use of poison and never risks accidentally poisoning herself when applying poison to a blade.

Assassin Spells Known (1; save DC 13 + spell level): 1st -- feather fall, true strike.

Possessions:+2 scimitar, masterwork longbow, slaying arrow (+1 humans), 20 arrows, quiver, bracers of armor +1, gloves of Dexterity +2, cloak of resistance +1, ring of counterspells (-lightning bolt), 28 gp.

Description: Tathtlasss looks like a lithe, slender human female. Her smooth, dusky skin is a perfect counterpoint for her black hair and dark eyes. The only hints of her serpentine nature are her forked tongue, pointed teeth, and a few scales along the nape of her neck and spine. Though her long hair usually covers these scales, she further conceals them with a henna-dye "tattoo" of ornate scales edged in many monster heads. She reapplies the design every few months using her professional skills and a set of angled mirrors. Should anyone notice and remark on the design, Tathtlasss passes it off as a slave brand burned into her flesh years ago by a cruel slaver who kidnapped her. Fortunately, she claims, her kin hunted him down and slew him before his caravan could reach the rich slave markets he was heading for.

From Chapter 8: Yuan-ti Campaign

Secret Organizations

Zstulkk Ssarmn

Zstulkk Ssarmn hails from the city of Hlondeth, though he isn't related to its ruling Extaminos family. For most of his adult life, he has made his fortune in Skullport in the slave trade.

Even in the cutthroat world of Skullport, Zstulkk is a slaver without peer, and he remains one of the strongest members of the Iron Ring consortium that he helped found. His gangs of halfblood and pureblood yuan-ti thugs and overseers are well known throughout Skullport. These jailers, as they are called, are constantly stalking alleyways in search of easy marks or escorting chained slaves into the city.

Zstulkk Ssarmn: Male yuan-ti abomination cleric of Sseth (Set) 5; CR 12; Large monstrous humanoid; HD 9d8+36 plus 5d8+20; hp 119; Init +7; Spd 30 ft., climb 20 ft., swim 20 ft.; AC 23, touch 13, flat-footed 20; Base Atk +12; Grp +21; Atk +16 melee (2d6+7 plus poison, bite); Full Atk +16 melee (2d6+7 plus poison, bite); Space/Reach 10 ft./10 ft.; SA aversion, constrict 1d6+7, improved grab, poison, produce acid, rebuke undead 6/day, spell-like abilities; SQ alternate form,chameleon power, darkvision 60 ft., detect poison, scent, spell resistance 18; AL NE; SV Fort +11, Ref +10, Will +13; Str 21, Dex 16, Con 18, Int 23, Wis 17, Cha 16. Length 10 ft.

Skills and Feats: Bluff +9, Climb +13, Concentration +21, Diplomacy +18, Gather Information +8, Hide +11, Knowledge (architecture and engineering) +20, Knowledge (Skullport local) +21, Knowledge (Waterdeep local) +18, Listen +17, Move Silently +15, Spellcraft +13, Spot +17, Swim +13; Alertness, Blind-Fight, Combat Expertise, Dodge, Improved Initiative, Mobility, Power Attack.

Aversion (Sp): One target within 30 feet of Zstulkkmust succeed on a DC 17 Will save or gain an aversion to snakes for 10 minutes. Affected creatures must stay at least 20 feet away from any snake or yuan-ti. A subject unable to move away takes a -4 penalty to Dexterity until the effect wears off or the subject is no longer within range. This ability is similar to antipathy as the spell (caster level 16th).

Constrict (Ex): Zstulkk deals 1d6+7 points of damage with a successful grapple check.

Improved Grab (Ex): To use this ability, Zstulkkmust hit a Large or smaller creature with his bite attack. He can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If he wins the grapple check, he establishes a hold and can constrict.

Poison (Ex): Injury, Fortitude DC 18, initial and secondary damage 1d6 Con.

Produce Acid (Sp): Zstulkkhas the psionic ability to exude acid from his body, dealing 3d6 points of acid damage to the next creature he touches, including a creature hit by his bite attack. If he is grappling, constricting, or pinning a foe when he uses this power, his grasp deals 5d6 points of acid damage.

Spell-Like Abilities: At will -- animal trance (DC 15), entangle (DC 14); 3/day -- deeper darkness, neutralize poison (DC 17), suggestion (DC 16); 1/day -- baleful polymorph (DC 18; into snake form only), fear (DC 17). Caster level 10th.

Alternate Form (Sp): Zstulkkcan assume the form of a Tiny to Large viper (see the Snake entry on page 280 of the Monster Manual) as a psionic ability. This ability is similar to a polymorph spell (caster level 19th), but Zstulkkdoesn't regain any lost hit points by changing form and can take only viper shapes. Zstulkkuses his own poison for its bite attack or that of the form he assumes, whichever is more potent.

Chameleon Power (Sp): Zstulkkcan psionically change his own coloration and that of his equipment to match the surroundings, gaining a +10 circumstance bonus on Hide checks.

Detect Poison (Sp): Zstulkkcan use detect poison as the spell (caster level 6th) at will.

Cleric Spells Prepared (5/5/4/3; save DC 13 + spell level): 0 -- cure minor wounds, detect magic (2), light, read magic; 1st -- cause fear, cure light wounds, divine favor, endure elements, protection from good*; 2nd -- cure moderate wounds, death knell, desecrate*, hold person; 3rd -- cure serious wounds, dispel magic, magic circle against good*.

*Domain spell. Domains: Evil (cast evil spells at +1 caster level), Scalykind (rebuke/command lizards and snakes 6/day).

Possessions:Ioun stones (dusty rose prism, lavender and green ellipsoid), helm of teleportation, eyes of petrification, brooch of shielding, circlet of persuasion.

Description: The master of Skullport's slave trade looks like a 10-foot-long snake with mottled gray and black scales. His handsome human face bears many scars. He has dark hair, and his black eyes usually twinkle with malicious amusement.


©1995-2008 Wizards of the Coast, Inc., a subsidiary of Hasbro, Inc. All Rights Reserved.