Yuan-ti

From 1d4chan
A Yuan-Ti Pureblood and Abomination.

Yuan-tiTM are a race of monsters from Dungeons & Dragons based on the serpentfolk archetype, although somewhat more flexible in terms of being human/snake mishmashes than is usual. First mooted David Cook in 1980, for the Forbidden City. It's a trademarked brand; don't steal it.

Yuan-ti are commonly portrayed as having not only unusual, snake-based magical spells, but a natural talent for psionics. Like the illithids, also proprietary.

Yuan-ti are of particular prominence in the Forgotten Realms setting, where they used to rule the world, or at least are one of the direct successors to a pre-humanoid empire; and in Eberron, where they have coatl-based good-aligned counterparts who serve the Silver Flame. They are a big deal in Monte Cook's more-obscure Ghostwalk also.

Elsewhere, Fantasy Flight Games' Dawnforge setting has yuan-ti as its ancient race. The whole point of Dawnforge is that mammalian humanoids are New Here; its designers needed something to construct whatever ancient ruins and dungeons we're to be exploring, so yuan-ti it was. Both Eberron and Dawnforge were submitted to Wizards of the Coast; Eberron got the nod to be an official setting, Dawnforge didn't but were allowed to keep the yuan-ti when the designers went to Fantasy Flight. Very nice of WotC. Monte snuck one into the Banewarrens, too, perhaps because this whole arc in its Ptolus was his test-site for third edition in the first place and WotC didn't feel like pushing it.

Ooh! Snake Surprise![edit]

In generic D&D, yuan-ti are usually portrayed as descendants of mad serpent-worshipping witch-cults that fused and interbred with snakes in order to "evolve" into superior beings. They are, thereby, not primordial serpentfolk like the Scarred Lands' asaatthi. This may explain how female yuan-ti got boobies, not encountered on natural reptilians, but - in D&D - pervasive in aberrations and among demons.

According to the book Serpent Kingdoms, the Yuan-ti were originally created as a servant race by an older race of snake people called the Sarrukh, who also created several other Scalykind races, but the Yuan-ti rebelled and nearly drove them to extinction. This was only canon to Forgotten Realms and has been ignored in later editions.

Zehir is the yuan-ti racial deity. Unusually this wasn't revealed till late 3.5 and he's not actually in any books from that era. His debut was as the ultimate antagonist of Storm of Zehir, the second expansion pack of Neverwinter Nights 2, which means there is plenty of Yuan-ti stuff in the campaign.

Before this retcon, yuan-ti worshipped Merrshaulk. They later switched to Sseth, who was later replaced without the Yuan-ti realizing it by Set, although currently it seems that Set and Zehir were the same god all along. Some heretical Yuan-ti instead worship the Elder Evil Sertrous, whom they believe is their creator. Tomb of Annihilation features a cult of Yuan-ti who worship Dendar the Night Serpent, one of the Elder Evils of the Forgotten Realms. In Ghostwalk they go with Orcus because Monte didn't give a fuck.

Tiers[edit]

There are six tiers of Yuan-ti, ranked based on their proportion of snake features (with the exception of broodguards).

Purebloods are mostly human, with minimalistic serpentine traits that are easy to conceal (a forked tongue, snake-like eyes, a body covered in very pliant scales colored like human skin, a vestigial tail, snake fang-like canines, small patches of visible scales etc). Because yuan-ti worship snakes, these guys are actually on the bottom of the pecking order in their own society, although they are useful for infiltrating humanoid societies. In 5th edition, the fact they spend a lot of time around humans, where they have much more freedom and respect than they do at home, was used as an excuse to give them PC stats. In Third Edition, they were made a playable race without any attempt at an excuse, because Third Edition would let you play as fucking ANYTHING, including a flying ghost brain or demonic stingray.


Malisons, also known as halfbloods, are more drastically serpentine, which boosts them above Purebloods in the pecking order. This subspecies exemplifies the mutability of the yuan-ti; in 5th edition, at least, there are five recognized "forms" of malison, and many variations within those form archetypes. One type looks a lot like the "common" vision of a lamia, having a human upper torso and a giant snake's body in lieu of legs. Two other types look like humans with either serpent heads or serpent tails in place of arms (the mouth-handed ones are higher up the pecking order). One type looks like a human with a snake's head. And the last known type, lowliest of all, simply looks like a human with scaly skin.


Seghulerak, a female abomination from Elder Evils. Yes, they canonically have boobs.

Abominations are the most iconic and, in their own culture, favored of their breed. These look like either giant snakes with humanoid arms or lamias with scaly skin and a snake-like head. These guys are the undisputed top of the totem pole... except for one last class;


Anathemas, are essentially a hydra version of abominations; bigger, claw-fingered, and with six snake's heads in place of one. Anathemae are worshipped as demigods. Depending on the setting, they are either the rulers of the entire race, or they may just be the leaders of their own small cults because their presence is destabilizing to Yuan-ti society so they are cast out of Yuan-ti cities. The 4th edition version of the anathema instead looks like a large snake's head attached to a body made out of numerous smaller snakes. They were once the rulers of the Yuan-ti race before all of them went insane and were locked up.


There also are two other types of Yuan-ti called brood guards and tainted ones that are below even Pureboods. Both of these are created by transforming humans using a potion made of Yuan-ti venom. Brood guards (also called Histachii) are ugly and unintelligent reptilian creatures that the Yuan-ti use for guarding their eggs. Tainted ones are 100% human, with only their minds being warped by the potion, so they are used as infiltrators.