Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Events in the Timeline of Delos

1510 Lost members of House Valaryan discover and sack an abandoned temple to Shadow, the farthest such outpost ever found. This is kept secret by the upper level members of House Valaryan so as not to start a panic within the city or the nearby native tribes. Only Gam, the Patriarch of House Valaryan, and Ardu, a native ranger guide employed by the House, know of this encounter. Eventually Gam tells only Vespasian, high priest of the temple of Vistna in Port Maugre, and word eventually gets to Maugre himself regarding this discovery.

Rumors of an Elephant’s Graveyard send a group of House Valaryan members and mercenaries on a successful expedition to the interior of Delos, where a hidden valley is found containing almost 100 years worth of elephant ivory. A renegade priest housing the spirit of the Elephant God is defeated and the valley is reclaimed by its original inhabitants, the Armecs. Exclusive trade rights for the ivory are set up through House Valaryan with the remainder of the Armec people, who are allowed to resettle the valley they had left a century earlier.

Many merchant trains bound to and from Port Maugre are being attacked by serpent men. Spies note the presence of many Serpent men and their tasloi allies in a particular spot of the Delosian interior, near one trade route.

Several more villages in Kongon territory have had their entire populations disappear, victims of vicious Leopard Cultists who have emerged the last few years. Often the tracks of numerous leopards, along with a bloody leopard claw mark on a wall or door, is found by those who investigate. Natives are terrified of something they call the “The Spotted God” and talk is of this new Leopard Cult arising with a headquarters in the swamp north of the Tiger river.

Tzulan warriors have been penetrating deeper and deeper into Ashante territory to the north. Rumors have it that many warbands are accompanied by Taranthian priests and soldiers. Perhaps the uneasy alliance between the Tzulans and the Taranthians has moved into a newer and more dangerous phase.

Members of House Valaryan and mercenaries are dispatched to establish a trade route to Elephant Valley to facilitate sale of the ivory. The caravan is attacked and members of House Valaryan are kidnapped by serpent men. Adventurers employed by House Valaryan are dispatched into the jungle to try and rescue these victims. Rumors of a “Lost City” in the interior of Delos would seem to be true as this might be the destination of the serpent men and their captives.

Taranthian slave ships have been sighted as far west as ever in memory, some crossing the trade routes from Delos and Port Maugre to the League in the north. They never engage merchant ships in battle, seemingly satisfied by taking slaves from secluded isles or Delos itself. The flagship (named The Dark Lady) inspires fear in sailor’s hearts as it is a large, heavily armed vessel of a type not seen in these waters before. No one has yet discovered if the Taranthian fleet has found a suitable port on the west side of Delos for landing and loading their cargo.

A long overdue caravan from House Mith that had been captured by serpent men and their allies upon their return to Port Maugre tells of being rescued by employees of House Valaryan on their way to this “Forbidden City”. The last sight of them found them trying to contact a tribe of Ashante deep in the jungle who lived near this Forbidden City, protected by ancient magic from the depredations of the snake people.

A babbling, half-insane explorer was brought into the city today after being found wandering miles south on the beach. Those that were there say he was feverish and he soon perished from some jungle disease that even the priests of Nythiir could not cure. What he revealed was being kept secret by the powers that be of Port Maugre, but rumors have flown that he spoke of a lost city with gleaming towers off the western coast of Delos, invisible to all unless using magical means by the light of a full moon. Speculation abounds that it may have been an outpost or more of the Elven House of S’ethelian that disappeared here almost 500 years ago. Records show the man and several others left months earlier after being hired by priests of Vistna to guard an expedition to find this lost city. This expedition was attacked by serpent men and never reached their destination, so where this man was and how he survived for months alone in the jungle is a mystery.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Serpent Men (Yuan Ti)

The deadly serpent men are slightly different from the traditional yuan-ti in the AD&D game and Monster Manual. Here are some general tidbits you know about these reptilian foes:

Serpent Men:

Descendants of humans whose blood has been fouled, serpent men have varying degrees of snakelike body parts. They are highly intelligent and evil, always plotting to advance their causes.

There are three major varieties of serpent men: purebloods, halfbreeds, and abominations. A pureblood can pass for human 80% of the time. It has only slight differences from true humans, such as slit eyes, or a forked tongue, maybe even small fangs. Halfbreeds are part human and part snake. Roll a d8 twice on the table below; a duplicate roll produces no result, but is not rerolled.

Roll Feature Effect
1 Snake head Bites for 1-10 points damage (2nd roll bite is poison)
2 Flexible torso +1 to saves using Dexterity
3 No legs, snake tail Constricts for 1-4 points of damage
4 Snakes instead of arms Each bites for 1-6 points damage (2nd roll bite is poison)
5 Scales instead of skin Armor Class 0
6 Legs and a snake tail Lashes for 1-4 points of damage
7 Slitted serpent eyes Able to Charm Person as the spell if gaze met
8 Snake glands Spit poison 10 ft (sv or 4d6 dmg)

Abominations are all snake and have only a single human feature, either head or arms, and are of large size (10 feet long). Halfbreeds and abominations disdain wearing human clothing or armor, while purebloods do not. All serpent men use weapons and other items, including magic. Serpent men do not give off an odor that humans can detect. However, animals will detect a dry, musty smell on them. The snake features of these foul creatures vary greatly from simple green and brown scales to wild patterns of stripes, diamonds, and whorls in reds and blues. Serpent men speak their own ancient language. They can also speak with any snake or snakelike creature. Those with human heads can speak any human or demi-human languages they learn.

Serpent men are very intelligent, and fight as such. They plan elaborate traps and utilize their surroundings superbly in combat. They prefer ambushes to direct confrontation. In a mixed group, the least valuable and powerful attack the opponent first. This means that the purebloods go before the half-breeds, which go before the abominations. The group leader may order particular members forward before others if it provides for a better strategy. When encountered outside their temple area, only one to four of them are in a group. In the temple area they can be found in much larger groups. Larger groups will include ophidian and histaachi servents, as well as giant snakes of dim intelligence.

Purebloods have 6 Hit Dice (and can be fighters or thieves up to 6th level), half-breeds have 7 or 8 Hit Dice, and abominations have 9 Hit Dice (and can be priests, mages or mage/priests of 9th level). All serpent men, if they have hands, always use weapons, preferring those with an edge (favoring scimitars and longbows). They use poison, particularly slow acting types, in their traps and sometimes on their weapons.
Any serpent man with a human head can cast the following spells once per day; cause fear, darkness (15 foot radius), snake charm, sticks to snakes, neutralize poison, polymorph self (to human form only) and suggestion. These spell-like powers are cast at the same level as the serpent man's HD. Serpent men purebloods may become fighters or thieves up to 6th level; Abominations can become priests of Set, mages, or mage/priests up to 9th lvl.

Serpent men are devout worshippers of evil. They also hold all reptiles in high esteem. The center of serpent men life is the temple. They tend toward old ruins far away from man, but have even been known to build underneath human cities. Their own works tend toward circles, with ramps and poles replacing stairs. In all cases they are secretive about the location of their city or temple. The abominations rule over the serpent men, and are the leaders of the temple, with the high priest (human-headed) ruling over all. Their rituals often involve bloody sacrifices. The purebloods take care of all outside negotiations, always pretending to be human. Serpent men speak their own ancient language and any others they may learn.