Werecobras, as their name suggests, are a subspecies of weresnake that partially or wholly assume the form of cobras. These therianthropes were invented for the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition version of Ravenloft and Masque of the Red Death, appearing in the Books of S series; the "standard" werecobra, the Were-King Cobra, appeared in the Book of Secrets and the Were-Spitting Cobra appeared in the Book of Shadows.
Were-King cobras have three forms: human, snake, and a hybrid between the two. In snake form they appear as a typical king cobra, covered with black scales fading to a yellowish underbelly. They measure from 12 to 18 feet long, but are never more than a half foot wide. As a normal king cobra, the were-king cobra has a “hood” that extends from around its throat. The back of the hood has the familiar eyespot pattern of a typical king cobra. If threatened the creature flattens out its neck ribs, spreading the hood wide. When preparing to attack, the were-king cobra can rear up to a third of its body length, making it as tall as a man. The snake’s rearing height is important, as it bites by attacking forward and down, so it cannot attack anything above that height. The king cobra has half-inch long fangs that inject one of the deadliest poisons in nature, known to have killed elephants in half an hour.
In human form, were-king cobras appear entirely human, and are able to blend into the community around them. A few features stand out about were-king cobras. For one, they lack most body hair; except for the hair growing on their scalp, were-king cobras are hairless. Other noticeable characteristics are their height and weight: Were-king cobras are usually taller than the average human, though not abnormally so. They range in height from 5’11” to 6’4” for males, and 5’8” to 6’2” for females. They are also more slender than humans, never weighting more than 150 lbs. for males or 110 for females.
In the were-king cobra’s third or hybrid form, black scales cover the creature’s body. Its torso stretches longer and thinner, until the creature stands 8 feet tall. A 3-foot tail grows from the creature’s lower back, and its hair disappears under the newly formed scales on its head. As scales cover the were-king cobra’s head the vertebra in its neck form a hood, larger but otherwise similar to the one in its snake form. Its tongue becomes forked and doubles in length.
Were-king cobras try to avoid direct confrontations, preferring to attack by surprise. When stalking prey were-king cobras move through the undergrowth in silence, approaching to within a few feet of their prey before striking. The utter silence with which the wereking cobra moves imposes a -4 penalty to its opponents’ surprise rolls.
The were-king cobra is able to inject a deadly poison into its prey with its half-inch long fangs. A victim of the were-king cobra’s bite must save vs. poison with a -4 penalty or die in 6+1d4 rounds. If the die roll of a human victim’s saving throw indicates failure, but fall within 4 points of the number needed for success, the victim will not die, though he may wish he had. Instead, his body is racked with tremors and pain. The victim soon falls comatose, bedridden with a high fever and chills for a week, but will then mysteriously recover. Unknown to the victim, he has contracted lycanthropy from the bite and will transform into a were-king cobra as described below.
While in snake or hybrid form, hereditary and maledictive were-king cobras can use a mesmerizing dance called the “Dance of the Cobra.” All those within 60 feet who watch the snake’s hypnotic dance must save vs. paralysis or be enthralled (as per the spell) for 1d6 rounds after the dance ends. Some were-king cobras have mastered the dance enough to inflict a -2 penalty to the victim’s saving throw.
Only weapons made of ivory or imbued with at least a +1 magical enchantment can harm were-king cobras. Contrary to popular belief, were-king cobras are not mesmerized by pipe music. However, the sound does make them lethargic. If a were-king cobra hears the pipe music of a snake-charmer for 5 consecutive rounds, it will be affected as if by a slow spell. Typically, a hereditary or maledictive were-king cobra will simply flee at the sound of such music, returning at a later time when its prey is unaware.
In the Demiplane of Dread, were-king cobras are natives of the domain of Sri Raji. There they live on the outskirts of the two smaller cities of Pakat and Tvashsti. A few live as hermits in the jungle itself, but most prefer to live near the communities of man to feed off livestock and the occasionally human. Most attempt to remain unnoticed by the domain lord, Arijani, and his cult of Kali, whom they fear. Occasionally a were-king cobra will join one of the other evil cults in Sri Raji, such as Shiva, but none have ever joined the Dark Sisters that serve Arijani. Such were-king cobras can advance as priests up to 8th level. A few of those were-king cobras living near the city of Tvashsti have gained access to that city’s large university. These creatures have taken up the study of magic and become wizards. Were-king cobras can advance as wizards up to 10th level.
An infected were-king cobra transforms for one week following the summer and winter solstice and the spring and fall equinox. During this time the were-king cobra must eat the equivalent of a large human child, though they can and do eat larger prey. The were-king cobra swallows its prey whole after using its poisonous bite. Once it does so, the infected were-king cobra is typically lethargic for ten days following the meal. The affected were-king cobra acts as if under the affects of a slow spell. This lethargy continues even after it returns to its human form.
Hereditary and maledictive were-king cobras also suffer from lethargy after feeding, but they recover after only five days. Such were-king cobras need only feed once per month, though they often eat small meals while in human form to maintain their disguise.
Were-king cobras hunt a variety of prey large and small, including humans. However, for some unknown reason, were-king cobras will not attack cattle for any reason.
On Gothic Earth, were-king cobras are solitary, and do not form communities of their own, instead living in small communities in rural India and throughout Indochina. They prefer to live in villages near rivers or bodies of water, but travel to large cities on occasion. Were-king cobra are excellent swimmers and typically hunt their prey near the water’s edge. If anything goes wrong in its attack, the were-king cobra uses the water to escape.
Most were-king cobras are Lawful Evil, though 5% of them are Lawful Neutral. Were-king cobras are very ambitious creatures, and typically pose as the holy man in their village in an attempt to exert influence in their communities. The influence they hold varies from one were-king cobra to the next, but all promote a respect for snakes of all kinds. Communities in which were-king cobras live do not fear snakes and often live safely in close proximity to many poisonous snakes. Were-king cobras have no control over normal serpents, however. Another aspect of their status as wise men is they tend to have a strong connection to the past, and many were-king cobras have delved deep into the lost secrets of the ancients to discover adept magic. Such were-king cobras can advance as adepts up to 7th level.
Occasionally, a were-king cobra’s ambition brings it to one of the large cities in southeast Asia to conduct some nefarious plot. Though this is rare, it is suspected that at least two were-king cobras have gained mid-level positions in the British colonial government of India.
This variety of werecobra is a human that is able to transform into a spitting cobra. In its secondary aspect, the were-spitting cobra appears as an eight-foot-long slender serpent. It ranges in color from dull black to pink; with the lighter-colored snakes having a black band around their necks. Traits of albinism have also been expressed, but this is rare. The spitting cobra is so named because of its ability to spit venom into the eyes of its opponents and blind them. Like the king cobra, the spitting cobra's bite is venomous.
In their primary aspect were-spitting cobras appear as a dark-skinned human. They are of average human height and approximately 10-15 pounds lighter than average. When talking, whether in human or hybrid form, the creatures speak with a hissing lisp. Because the were-spitting cobra lives in a hot, arid, desert climate, its clothing is loose-fitting and scant. In its tertiary aspect, the were-spitting cobra's hybrid form, it stands approximately 7 1/2' tall. Its hairless body is covered with scales that are the same color as those in its secondary aspect. From its lower back extends a two-foot-long tail, and its tongue forks and doubles in length.
In its human form the were-spitting cobra can use any available weapons, but prefers to use daggers and short swords. If the were-spitting cobra is attacked during daylight hours it will almost always remain human. The were-spitting cobra will only change forms if it is in danger of being killed. In its secondary and tertiary aspects the were-spitting cobra will attack by spitting its venom into the face of its opponent. The were-spitting cobra is extremely accurate at spitting venom and makes all such attack rolls with a +2 bonus. The range for such attacks is 30 feet. If a successful hit is made, then the victim must save vs. poison or be blinded for 2d12 hours. Due to the caustic nature of the venom, the victim has a percentage chance equal to the number of hours they spend in blindness to be infected with lycanthropy. The were-spitting cobra is also capable of delivering a venomous bite to opponents. If bitten by the were-spitting cobra, the victim must save vs. poison or die in 1d6+4 rounds. However, if the victim fails the save vs. poison by 4 or less on the d20 roll they do not die. Instead of death, they experience excruciating pain and discomfort over the next few days (the amount they failed the save vs. poison by determines the exact number of days) before what seems to be a complete and miraculous recovery.
Recovery, however, is not complete, nor is it miraculous, because the victim has been infected with lycanthropy. If the victim's save vs. poison is successful, the victim still receives 1d4+1 points of damage and has a 1% chance per point of damage to become a were-spitting cobra.
While a formidable opponent in combat, the werespitting cobra prefers to rely on stealth and its treacherous nature to defeat enemies. It is capable of sneaking up on prey at a -3 to its opponents' surprise rolls.
Only magical weapons of at least +1 enchantment or those made of ivory can harm this species of werecobra. While in its secondary or tertiary aspects, the spitting cobra has the ability to feign death as per the 3rd level wizard spell. However, because this ability is a biological ability, a Ravenloft powers check is not required. Those who are familiar with lycanthropes may be astute enough to realize what is happening, because if a were-spitting cobra actually dies, rather than using its ability to feign death, it reverts to its human form in one round.
In the Ravenloft setting the were-spitting cobra is native to Har'Akir and Sebua, with some migrating to Pharazia. Were-spitting cobras are solitary creatures, preferring to dwell away from both humankind and others of their species. Were-spitting cobras are primarily nocturnal, and because of this, they often find employment as thieves, spies, or assassins. As thieves, were-spitting cobras are not limited in the level of advancement they can attain. Their evil nature also draws some to serve as priests in one of the various evil cults found in the Demiplane of Dread. Such priests can advance to 12th level in ability.
Because of their solitary nature, little is known about the ecology of this creature. It is possible, however, that a study of non-lycanthropic spitting cobras would reveal some insights into the ecology of the werespitting cobras.