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 "Elder Serpents of Set" - Dragon Magazine #313

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T O P I C    R E V I E W
redking Posted - 22 May 2023 : 08:09:39
In Dragon Magazine #313,Thomas M. Costa details the awesome Elder Serpents of Set. What I have noticed however is that the ability score adjustments do not neatly fit most base creature serpents.

Abilities: An elder serpent's Intelligence score increases to 2d6+6. Increase its other ability scores as follows: Str +2, Dex +2, Con +2, Wis +2d4+4, Cha +2d4+4.

The elder serpents end up with super high wisdom scores, average charisma scores, and above average intelligence. Is this intended?

Also, I realised that these guys have no arms, and likely can't use any weapons.

As Thomas M. Costa is often here, I wonder if we could summon him and get him to expand on this great article.
9   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
PattPlays Posted - 10 Jul 2023 : 00:27:39
quote:
you have an intelligent race of very large snakelike creatures - then you just need to have them breed true.


Oh I believe there is a Sarrukh lich with just the two spells for the job H'ssthak or the like
Seethyr Posted - 04 Jun 2023 : 13:17:41
quote:
Originally posted by Gary Dallison


These Elder serpents could be the beginning of Naga



Iíd go with this too. A proto naga that still is kicking around in some places.

On a side note, Serpent Kingdoms remains one of my favorite lore books from the 3e era. I really wish it had been followed up with an Avian and Amphibious Kingdoms for Aeree and Batrachi
Gary Dallison Posted - 25 May 2023 : 19:41:47
With Serpent Kingdoms we have info that yuan-ti and naga were created in Merrshaulk.

This means that in Okoth they likely had different servitors (sludar, troglodytes, lizardmen). But i'm thinking they had prototype versions of yuan-ti and naga - the knowledge of how to create these evolved over time when the sarrukh empire split in civil war.

These Elder serpents could be the beginning of Naga, the repeated castings of these magics, coupled with a few grafts and you have an intelligent race of very large snakelike creatures - then you just need to have them breed true.

were-serpents i'm guessing were the prototypes for yuan-ti and if i remember correctly Mulhorand had more than a few were-reptilians.
TomCosta Posted - 25 May 2023 : 16:43:39
Also, I set up the elder serpents to have a key role in Najara as well, but that's explicit in the article already.
TomCosta Posted - 25 May 2023 : 16:40:44
Feel free to edit as you like. I purposefully did not give them arms as there are plenty of snake men out there already (sarrukh, variations of yuan-ti, and ophidians [which don't have legs but are strangely pictured as having them in 3e]). Part of the idea is they can get places as regular looking snakes that a snake man can't. I'll also admit to being inspired by the various Disney snakes in Robin Hood and Jungle Book.

Is their a specific ophidian beast or magical beast you're concerned about adding the ability scores to? I'm not sure I see a concern. Of course, if you add arms and such than things could get more complicated.

I didn't plot out where the elder serpents may have taken over yuan-ti communities, but I could easily see them insinuating themselves in communities, especially across the South, perhaps having a tail-hold in Hlondeth for example.
redking Posted - 25 May 2023 : 02:09:40
I guess what concerns me most is the logistics of lacking hands. Secondarily, is the high ability score adjustments. There are certain snakes and serpents outside the SRD that have a higher than normal range for their base ability scores, which imbalances the ability score adjustments. I was thinking of toning them down with some flat ability score replacements instead, so we come up with a more uniform transformation.

Abilities : A serpent-manís Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma scores increase to 15, 14 and 13, in any order the serpent-man chooses. Increase its other ability scores as follows: Str +2, Dex +2, Con +2. Racial Hit Dice and Class levels may further increase ability scores as appropriate.

And arms!

Arms: Serpent-men gain a pair of snake-like appendages with hands, which allows them to wield weapons and use magical items appropriate for arms and hands.

As for the lore, I love it. Set just goes out and creates his own serpent followers, potentially usurping the role of the Yuan-Ti or putting his own quislings in charge of them. Are there any places where the Elder Serpents have taken over Yuan-Ti communities?


TomCosta Posted - 24 May 2023 : 15:40:13
Oh, and based on Ed's reveal that his original Unther was a place filled with snake worshipers, which could, I think, be folded into the Gilgeam lore with some success--that is before the Untherites showed up, it was filled with snake worshipers and there remains a lasting legacy of snake reverence. Now, the elder serpents is another vehicle for Set to insert himself into Unther and beyond.
TomCosta Posted - 24 May 2023 : 15:36:32
I'm here. :-) Yes, my intent was that they would get higher Wisdom scores so they could become divine-based classes dedicated to Set, but you can see by the examples, that's not all they can be. And yes, no weapons. They're still snakes, but that doesn't stop them from using many magic items.

As for the sarrukh, I didn't intend any connection as they are given their sentience by the power of Set. That said, Set is clearly pushing himself into various serpentfolk quarters masquerading as their slumbering gods and insinuating himself into the Faerunian pantheon as Zehir.

Beyond that, as the article indicates, some of these serpents don't realize the role they play in Set's machinations, which beyond the broad strokes presented are left to the DM.

Hope that's of help and happy to answer other questions.
Delnyn Posted - 24 May 2023 : 00:27:15
I would say yes, especially since the base creature is a snake with animal intelligence. The next question is what relation these elder serpents have with sarrukh.

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