Monday, March 25, 2013

Monster Monday: Serpent Men

Serpent Men

No. Enc.: 1-20
Size: Medium
HD: 2 (d8)
Move: 30 ft, 15 ft swim
AC: 14
Attacks: Weapon or Bite (1d3)
Special: Darkvision 60', Spellcasting
Saves: M
INT: Superior
Align: Neutral Evil
Type: Humanoid
TR: 2
XP: 20+2

Serpent Men are among the eldest of mortal races.  They are humanoid in shape, ranging from 5 to 6 feet tall, with scaly skin and snake-like heads.  They once ruled over mankind and other such races, but were eventually overthrown and almost exterminated as humanity fought back against their oppressors.  These days, their numbers are relatively few, and they usually live among humans, thanks to their gift for illusion, often attempting to slay those who rule over others, and taking their place afterwards.  They worship snake gods such as Yig and Set. Wise men know that, due to the construction of their throats, serpent men can not utter the phrase "ka nama kaa lajerama", and will utter this if they suspect the presence of mankind's ancient foes among their midst.   Serpent men also can not bear the image of a dragon (their ancient enemies) upon their person, and this can also be used to identify one or more of their number. Serpent men are a very long-lived race, with a few of their number over a thousand years old, although most are much younger.

Spellcasting: All serpent men are spellcasters, their magicks deriving from an era when the division between arcane and divine magic was not so sharply defined.  Most serpent men can cast spells as a wizard from 1st to 5th level, although a few of their number are more skilled (higher level serpent men spellcasters will have HD equal to half their wizard level, round down, although this will never exceed 5 HD).  Their magics tend toward illusion and subtlety, and they generally do not know the more potent battle magicks used by mankind (human and elven wizards will usually force any apprentice to utter the above-mentioned shibboleth to ensure that they are not unknowingly teaching new magicks to these degenerate beings. Serpent men will usually cast from the following spell list:


1. Arcane Mark
2. Change Self (see notes below)
3. Detect Illusion
4. Detect Magic
5. Ghost Sound
6. Influence
7. Know Direction
8. Message


1. Animal Friendship**
2. Bless*
3. Calm Animals**
4. Charm Person
5. Command
6. Comprehend Languages
7. Darkness
8. Daze
9. Hypnotism
10. Identify
11. Obscuring Mist
12. Read Magic


1. Animal Messenger**
2. Fog Cloud
3. Hypnotic Pattern
4. Minor Image
5. Speak With Animals**
6. Speak With Dead


1. Dispel Magic 
2. Explosive Runes
3. Glyph of Warding
4. Hallucinatory Terrain
5. Major Image
6. Remove Curse
7. Suggestion 
8. Tongues


1. Charm Monster
2. Confusion
3. Dismissal
4. Fear
5. Illusory Wall
6. Mirage Arcana
7. Scrying
8. Sending


1. Bind Spirit (see notes below)
2. Guards & Wards
3. Mass Suggestion
4. Persistent Image
5. Permanency
6. Project Image
7. Summon Monster
8. True Seeing


1. Banishment
2. Geas
3. Legend Lore
4. Programmed Image


1. Greater Scrying
2. Sequester
3. Shadowwalk
4. Summon Greater Monster


1. Binding
2. Mass Charm
3. Summon Planar Ally
4. Symbol


1. Disjunction
2. Weird

*reversible spell (and in fact serpent men wil often only know the reversed versions of said spells)
**'Animals', in this instance, is limited to snake and snake-like beings 

Serpent Men cast the spell Change Self as a cantrip, not a 1st level spell, with the advantage that they can, in fact, create the illusion of becoming another race.  Serpent Men can use higher spell slots to cast this spell, and are often required to do so (due to the limited duration of the spell) to maintain their guises for extended periods (as a result, serpent men pretending to be humans or other races will often have few, if any, other spells prepared).  They can also cast a spell known as Bind Spirit:

CT 1 minute                     R 50 ft                       D permanent
SV none                           SR n/a                       Comp V,S

Any mortal man slain by a serpent man can have his spirit bound into service by his slayer through the use of this spell.  It must be cast within 10 minutes of the victim's demise.  The spirit can not cause harm to the living (and can be turned as a 3 HD undead), although mortals not used to seeing such a spectral sight may have to make a CHR save to avoid fleeing.  These spirits can be used as spies and informants, and their servitude may be passed from one serpent man to another, if desired.

Source: "The Shadow Kingdom" by Robert E. Howard

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