Warhammer Wednesday: The Various Snake Peoples of the South Lands
While I plan on using Spears of the Dawn for my basis of the South Lands, I was also looking for a locale to place some snake-themed creatures. Lustria has its lizardmen, skinks, and sauruses. The Old World has lizardmen and troglodyes. The South Lands are ripe for the addition of other snake creatures. Here are some I plan to use, as well as some description of how they may fit in:
These creatures are large, two-headed snakes (one head on either end of the body...I don't know how that works physiologically, but the creature is in the book). These would be the most normal of the snake creatures, found on a hill or hiding in the grass.
These will have to be carried over from D&D. There they are described as "snake-like creatures with human heads. They prefer warmer climates and tend not to wander far from their lairs." The Monstrous Manual has them listed as highly intelligent, with magical abilities. I run Warhammer as more of a low-magic setting, so I'd have to back off or alter some of the magical abilities.
Spirit Naga are evil and seek to harm any creature passing through their domains. They have a poisonous bite, which I would make a little less deadly that the Warhammer manual. It would take multiple bites to kill a person. They also have a gaze that charms, which could be run as a Hypnotism test against willpower. Finally, in D&D they can use wizard's spells at 5th level and priest spells at 4th level. I would grab a few 1st and 2nd level Warhammer spells for the naga.
Dark Naga are a little more intimidating, with an ESP ability that they use constantly. I can see using it in Warhammer for the Naga to know if the party is being deceitful or what the party's tactics would be in battle. Their bite is not poisonous, but the tail has a barbed stinger that does extra damage and may put an opponent to sleep. I'd likely call for a Toughness test. These Naga use magic as well, so they would get some 1st and 2nd level battle magic to use as well.
Umthali, the Snakemen
These creatures fit in perfectly because they are straight from the Spears of the Dawn bestiary. They are much like D&D's Yuan-ti, and I would combine the Spears of the Dawn description (below) with that in the Monstrous Manual. These are the creatures that PCs would have to fear the most. They are highly intelligent, vindictive, and believe they have the blessings of powerful deities.
"In the first days, before even the Old Kings, there were certain tribes who listened to the blandishments of serpents and their promises of hidden lore. These snakes had burrowed deep in the earth and discovered the Gods Below there, and had come to worship them in their cold-blooded and heartless way. They offered favors and strength if the humans would worship them too, and some among the new-made men agreed. Their blood was mingled with that of the snakes, and they build great cities that were terrible in their magnificence and awful in their wonders.
"The altars of the Gods Below smoked with the flames of grim sacrifice, and it was only with the help of the angered gods that other humans were able to break these cities and drive these “Umthali” into the darkness. In the days of recorded history only one city of the serpent-people remained, the city called Umthalu, which was purged with fire by the ancestors of the Sokone and made their capital Chakari in the days of the Old Kings. Even then, men feared to go into the old passages below the streets, and they covered with plaster and lime the signs that the Umthali had scribed on their stone walls. Now the Eternal rule in Chakari, and men call it the Silent City where no good thing lives.
"The snakemen are found in many shapes, from those with such strong serpentine blood that they seem no more than giant vipers to those who seem entirely human save for strange-colored eyes, or hairless bodies, or subtle scale-patterns on hidden skin. Many Umthali of the weakest blood are not even aware of their true nature, and die ignorant of their true lineage. Yet some of these unfortunates awake to terrible urges and dark cravings when first exposed to the relics of their ancestors. The strong-willed among them can defy their tainted blood and resist the whispers of the Gods Below, but others fall as helpless prey to these needs. All find it well to hide it, especially in Sokone they are viewed with especial horror and blamed for many sudden disasters. Some snakemen are gifted with the special favor of the Gods Below, or are possessed by the restless spirits of their long-dead ancestors. These “serpent priests” have all the abilities of a marabout of 5th to 9th level.
"Secret cells of Umthali dwell in hidden places, worshiping the Gods Below and scheming to restore their rightful rule over the world. Most are wretched and degenerate, little more than beasts, but a few still preserve the forbidden arts taught them by their ancestors, and have devices of awful wonder to scourge their foes. Their leaders often have the arts of a nganga or marabout. Those who are most cunning and passable as humans sometimes seek to beguile a lord with their counsel, and manipulate human communities into worship of their sinister gods."