Contributed by: Thulsa ()

"Kull stood alone, his mind a-whirl. Neophytes of the mighty serpent, how many lurked among his cities? How might he tell the false from the true? Aye, how many of his trusted councilors, his generals, were men? He could be certain -- of whom?" - Robert E. Howard: "The Shadow Kingdom"

Serpentman Sorcerer

Medium-size Monstrous Humanoid

Hit Dice: 7d8+7 (38 hp)
Initiative: +5 (+1 Dex, +4 Improved Initiative)
Speed: 30 ft.
AC: 16 (+1 Dex, +1 natural, +2 leather, +2 masterwork large shield)
Attacks: Masterwork scimitar +10/+5 melee and bite +4 melee; or masterwork mighty composite longbow (+2) with masterwork arrows +10/+5 ranged (+2)
Damage: Masterwork scimitar 1d6+2, bite 1d6+1 and poison; or masterwork mighty composite longbow (+2) 1d8+2
Face/Reach: 5 ft. by 5 ft./5 ft.
Special Attacks: Impersonation, poison
Special Qualities: SR 16, vulnerability to secret phrase
Saves:Fort +3, Ref +6, Will +9
Abilities: Str 15, Dex 13, Con 13, Int 18, Wis 18, Cha 16
Skills: Concentration +11, Craft (any two) or Knowledge (any two) +9, Hide +8, Listen +15, Spot +15
Feats: Alertness, Blind-Fight, Dodge, Expertise, Improved Initiative

Climate/Terrain: Jungle and underground
Organization: Solitary, pair, gang (2-4) or tribe (10-80)
Challenge Rating: 5
Treasure: Double standard
Alignment: n/a
Advancement: By character class

Appearance: Serpentmen are hairless, pied and scaled, with a sinous tail, an ophidian head, and arms and legs. Their skins are commonly emerald green with a white zig-zag pattern along the back.

Serpentmen speak their own pre-human language as well as several human languages, in order to maintain their masquerade among humans.

Combat: Serpentmen are geniuses, and fight as such. They plan elaborate traps and utilize their surroundings superbly in combat. They prefer ambushes to direct confrontation, and are always commanded by their sorcerers.

  • Impersonation (Su): A serpentman can assume the shape of any Small or Medium-size humanoid that they have seen (directly or indirectly). This works like alter self as cast by an 18th-level sorcerer, but the serpentman can remain in the chosen form indefinitely. It can assume a new form or return to its own as a standard action. Note that this power allows them to exactly mimic a person's physical appearance. Serpentmen revert to their true form immediately if they are slain.
  • Poison: With a successful bite (in snake-headed form only), Fortitude save (DC 17); initial and secondary damage 1d6 temporary Constitution.
  • Darkvision: Serpentmen have darkvision to 60 feet.
  • Vulnerability to Secret Phrase (Su): These creatures have a special vulnerability to the ancient phrase "ka nama kaa lajerama". If this phrase is uttered in their presence, they will immediately revert to their true serpent-headed form, and suffer the effects of a symbol of pain (no saving throw allowed).

Habitat/Society: The serpentmen of the Hyborian Age are the last degenerate remains of a race that in the Permian Age dominated large parts of the world, reared cities of black basalt, mastered dark sorcery and alchemy, and bowed in hissing worship before the altars of Yig, Byatis and Han.

With their sorcery, and the aid of the fabled Cobra Crown, the serpent people established the empire of Valusia. The coming of humanity proved to be the final downfall of the serpent people's domination over the world. The serpent people could oppress the most primitive humans, but they were doomed by the relentless march of evolution. It took a million years or more, but the earliest human civilizations arose and overthrew the serpentmen.

To escape destruction, some of the reptiles crept back beneath the Earth. Others put themselves into deep hibernation, while some used their magical abilities to disguise themselves among the invaders. For a brief time, they once again ruled Valusia in human guise until their power was broken by King Kull.

King Kull of Valusia defeats the serpent-men

After the Cataclysm, fleeing Lemurians came from the East and overthrew the serpent people, but then adapted to the defeated culture and founded Old Stygia, worshipping the remaining serpentmen as demi-gods. The first sorcerers and priests of Old Stygia learned their dark arts from the serpent-people.

The Atlantean sorcerer Thulsa Doom once ruled the serpentmen of Valusia, but was defeated by King Kull. Now, eight millenia later, rumors of Thulsa's return have caused most of the remaining serpentmen to flock to their last citadel, Yanyoga.

Ecology: The serpentmen are related to the manserpents. Like their brethren, they are immortal. In contrast with the manserpents, however, the serpentmen are warm-blooded.

Serpentmen characters: The favored classes for serpentmen are cleric, sorcerer and wizard.