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- Major Subraces
The yuan-ti came in several distinct castes or breeds. The three most prevalent were as follows:
- Appear mostly human, with minor reptilian features, such as slitted eyes, a forked tongue, or patches of scales on their skin. They served as diplomats and infiltrators, pretending to be human.
- Humanoid in shape but have a wide variety of noticeable serpentine features, such as a snakelike tail in place of legs, a complete covering of scales, a hood like a cobra, a snake's head, or snakes in place of arms. Also called malisons, halfbloods serve as warriors and temple assistants.
- Almost completely snakelike, with only a few human features, such as arms or a humanoid head. They are the most venerated within the yuan-ti society, serving as clerics and in other roles of power.
- Minor Subraces
- By far the most powerful and loathsome of yuan-ti, anathemas are worshiped as divine incarnations of Merrshaulk. They are truly bizarre in appearance, with a body like a 25-foot-long serpent; a pair of humanoid arms with clawed, three-fingered hands; and six serpentine heads rising from its shoulders. An anathema's power dwarfs even that of an abomination, but since they represent such unfettered chaos, they are usually found away from yuan-ti cities, establishing cults that worship Merrshaulk through them. They make a common practice of grafting yuan-ti body parts onto humans and other races for use as personal servants. Anathemas are extremely rare, however, and only a handful are likely to exist on any world.
- Holy guardians
- A rare breed specifically bred as temple guards; they are also sent on missions to obtain needed goods for abomination priests. Holy guardians are naturally servile and follow their superiors without question. They uniformly have a serpentine tail in place of legs and a snakelike head.
- Another rare type of yuan-ti, mageslayers are bred for the special purpose of battling or hunting down human magic-users, and most of their abilities are magical rather than psionic. They have a human-like head but a snakelike tail instead of legs.
The yuan-ti had a great respect for reptiles of all kinds.
The yuan-ti preferred to make their homes in tropical jungles.
Yuan-ti call themselves vrael olo (which means "favored ones"). Daily use typically uses the shortened "vrael", and can be modified to "auvrael" (meaning friendly or known yuan-ti) and duthrael (unfriendly or unfamiliar yuan-ti).
In general, the more serpentine features a yuan-ti possesses the higher its status in yuan-ti society. Abominations are at the top of their society, followed by halfblood, and finally purebloods. Within their subraces, yuan-ti are ranked by achievements and the demonstrated favor of Sseth.
The yuan-ti were devout demon-worshipers. Most worshiped Sseth, with other serpentine deities that some have worshiped over the years either being masks worn by Sseth or a false deity of the Scaleless Ones. All yuan-ti must act in accordance with the Sacred Way of Sseth - that is, subtly. Whenever possible, yuan-ti choose manipulation over open confrontation, the whisper over the fang. Followers of the Sacred Way of Sseth know their foes, think ahead, and plan forward.
Yuan-ti had their own language, and most could also speak Common. Draconic and Abyssal were also typically known. Some sages reported that all yuan-ti could also communicate readily with any snake or snake-like creature.
The yuan-ti were once human. Long before humankind dominated the continent of Faerûn, the Creator Races ruled Toril. The reptilian Creator Race, the sarrukh, were foremost amongst these and built up great empires. They bred the first yuan-ti by magically experimenting with and breeding men with snakes. This way they also created naga, and through a similar process, lizardmen. They eventually fell from power and the resourceful yuan-ti rose up to claim their Creators' power vacuum, even while sustaining the empire of Mhairshaulk. Of the fragmented World Serpent deity that the sarrukh had worshiped, the yuan-ti venerated the strongest aspect, a cruel and despotic deity, Merrshaulk, who grew distant and aloof.
As the yuan-ti's power became less visible on Faerûn, and they instead fell to infiltrating human and demihuman society through their organizations and long-sighted plots, Merrshaulk had sunk into a slumber, ignoring his followers. Eventually, around the time of the collapse of the human empire of Netheril, Merrshaulk himself was also reborn as a winged yuan-ti avatar named Sseth, who became the yuan-ti's new primary deity. In the end, though, Sseth too sank into somnolence.
At this point some sarrukh, long suffering a heavy war on other planes or sunken in hibernation in their ruins, began to return in some numbers. They crucially needed help from their deity, but Sseth was not answering prayers in his slumber. So for aid in their endeavors some of the sarrukh made a bargain with the Mulhorandi deity Set, that put Sseth into a deeper sleep but allowed Set to assume Sseth's mantle and grant the sarrukh their aid. Most yuan-ti do not even know of this transaction, though now Sseth struggles at his bonds some are being made aware of it.
Female yuan-ti lay eggs in brood chambers, marking each clutch with its parentage, then abandoning them to the care of broodguards. Yuan-ti hatchlings are hatched from these eggs, which are always curious and eager to explore, and will seek food immediately, even eating each other if sustenance is not at hand. Their initial training is provided by broodguards, which also monitor the hatchery. Young yuan-ti are trained in the use of their powers almost after being born. They will turn into tiny vipers and slither to the nearest cover when they see danger or hear a warning.
Yuan-ti in their prime will scheme, breed, and work on behalf of their tribes. Breeding is carefully controlled, seen as a holy act, in order to produce the "best" offspring. Prospective partners will coldly measure one another and if both agree that the match is promising, they usually mate, regardless of their personal affections towards each other.
Often elder yuan-ti grow lazy when they reach great age, sleeping or lying in torpor for longer and longer periods - first for days, then weeks, then seasons at a time, and finally years upon years. At last, they fail to wake at all.
- Zstulkk Ssarmn, a member of the ruthless trade and slaving consortium the Iron Ring
- Nhyris D'Hothek, nephew of Zstulkk Ssarmn, and one time possessor of the Crown of Horns
- Sibyl, whose body was used as Sseth's avatar during the Time of Troubles
- House Extaminos, the ruling family of Hlondeth.
- Zelia, powerful psion featured in the trilogy, "House of Serpents"
- Computer Games
- Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn • Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone • Icewind Dale II • Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition • Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms • Neverwinter Nights • Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir
- Venom in Her Veins
- David Wellman (November 1989). “The Ecology of the Yuan-ti”. Dragon #151 (TSR, Inc.), p. 32.
- Robin D. Laws (March 2003). “The Ecology of...Venom and Coil: The Secret Life of the Yuan-Ti”. In Jesse Decker ed. Dragon #305 (Paizo Publishing, LLC), p. 54.
- Jason Kuhl (July/August 1998). “Mere of Dead Men: Slave Vats of the Yuan-ti”. Dungeon #69 (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10.
- Rick Swan (July 1990). Monstrous Compendium Kara-Tur Appendix. (TSR, Inc.), p. ?. ISBN 0-88038-851-X.
- James Wyatt and Rob Heinsoo (February 2001). Monster Compendium: Monsters of Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), p. ?. ISBN 0-7869-1832-2.
- Mike Mearls, Greg Bilsland and Robert J. Schwalb (June 15, 2010). Monster Manual 3 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. ?. ISBN 0786954902.
- Thomas M. Reid, Sean K. Reynolds, Darrin Drader, Wil Upchurch (June 2006). Mysteries of the Moonsea. (Wizards of the Coast), p. ?. ISBN 0-7869-3915-X.
- Warning: book within boxed set not specified for The Vilhon Reach
- Wizards RPG Team (2016). Volo's Guide to Monsters. (Wizards of the Coast), p. ?. ISBN 978-0786966011.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 David "Zeb" Cook et al. (1989). Monstrous Compendium Volume One. (TSR, Inc). ISBN 0-8803-8738-6.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Wizards RPG Team (2014). Monster Manual 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 307–310. ISBN 978-0786965614.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Mike Mearls, Stephen Schubert, James Wyatt (June 2008). Monster Manual 4th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 269–271. ISBN 978-0-7869-4852-9.
- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook (July 2003). Monster Manual 3.5. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 262–265. ISBN 0-7869-2893-X.
- ↑ Bruce R. Cordell (April 2004). Expanded Psionics Handbook. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 218. ISBN 0-7869-3301-1.
- ↑ 6.00 6.01 6.02 6.03 6.04 6.05 6.06 6.07 6.08 6.09 6.10 6.11 6.12 6.13 6.14 6.15 6.16 6.17 6.18 6.19 6.20 6.21 6.22 Gary Gygax (August 1983). Monster Manual II 1st edition. (TSR, Inc), p. 130. ISBN 0-88038-031-4.
- ↑ Frank Mentzer (January 1985). “Ay pronunseeAYshun gyd”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #93 (TSR, Inc.), p. 30.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, Darrin Drader (July 2004). Serpent Kingdoms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10. ISBN 0-7869-3277-5.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, Darrin Drader (July 2004). Serpent Kingdoms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 19–20. ISBN 0-7869-3277-5.
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 10.2 Ed Greenwood, Eric L. Boyd, Darrin Drader (July 2004). Serpent Kingdoms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10–11. ISBN 0-7869-3277-5.